Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, November 20, prepared by TASS
Kommersant: US, North Korea on the brink of new standoff
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will not meet with US President Donald Trump until Washington drops its "hostile policy," officials in Pyongyang said commenting on Trump’s proposal to hold another summit with Kim to resolve the DPRK nuclear issue at an early date.
The reason why the US president raised the North Korean issue once again was quite unexpected, Kommersant writes. Last week, Pyongyang lashed out at potential US presidential candidate Joe Biden, arguing that he had the "temerity to dare slander the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK," referring to him as a "rabid dog" who "must be beaten to death with a stick."
These derogatory remarks about the former US vice president and the skeptical assessment of the incumbent White House occupant indicate that Pyongyang could be thinking about abandoning negotiations with Washington.
The window of opportunity for diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula is closing, South Korean diplomat, former Ambassador to Kazakhstan and Vice-President of the Eurasia 21 NGO Baek Chuhen told the paper. According to the diplomat, President Trump has been unable to give up the sanctions pressure on Pyongyang and resolve issues related to providing security guarantees to North Korea in the event of a nuclear deal. That means that a new crisis on the Korean Peninsula can surface any moment, the expert stressed.
Another circumstance, which Kommersant’s sources in Seoul draw attention to, was the North Korean exercise, which kicked off the day after the US and South Korea decided to postpone their joint Vigilant Ace drills. However, Pyongyang was not impressed by that gesture, saying that it does not guarantee peace and security on the peninsula and does not contribute to diplomatic efforts to solve the present problems.
Izvestia: Russia not ready for Ukraine gas transit at any cost
Moscow is ready for negotiations on gas transit through Ukraine, but not merely at any cost, head of the Russian State Duma (lower house) Energy Committee Pavel Zavalny informed Izvestia.
"Ukraine needs to comply with a number of decisions and procedures. Regulatory documents have to be approved, the capacities and conditions of gas transit should be put up for auction, and Gazprom must have an opportunity to take part in it. However, given that January 1st is fast approaching, time is running out. That means that everything will depend on the parties’ willingness to come to terms with each other, and this willingness has been shown on our part," he said.
Meanwhile, Maros Sefcovic from the European Commission, who represents the EU at trilateral consultations, noted that the Russian and Ukrainian leaders, Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Zelensky, could breathe new life into the negotiations. They will meet with each other "in person" for the first time during the Normandy Four summit in Paris on December 9.
For his part, Mikhail Pogrebinsky, a Kiev-based political guru, told the paper that the gas issue is unlikely to be discussed in the French capital.
"The Ukrainian president does not know the essence of the gas standoff. I don’t know what Gazprom’s stance is, but communication with Naftogaz’s top officials will be irrelevant. I believe that the Normandy format summit should focus on the Minsk agreements rather than the gas transit issue," he said.
"Trilateral consultations are inevitable. There are European consumers who need Russian gas, there is Russia, which needs to honor its commitments, and there is Ukraine, which puts forward its demands. All that has to be sorted out one way or another," Sergei Pravosudov, head of the National Energy Institute, stressed to Izvestia.
The parties will continue to blame each other, but some compromise deal will be inked, even if none of the negotiators is satisfied, the expert added.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Turkey using joint patrols as intelligence for raids on Kurdish militias
Ankara has once again threatened to resume its military operation against Kurdish armed units. This will happen, if Moscow and Washington "fail to fulfill their obligations" regarding Syria, top Turkish diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu cautioned. There is reason to believe that such plans could be carried out, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Although Turkey formally halted its incursion into northern Syria after the Russian-Turkish memorandum was signed on October 22, sluggish fighting with the Kurds has continued. In addition, the Kurdish population has been staging provocations against the joint Russian-Turkish patrols that control the safe zone set up on the border with Syria.
According to some Kurdish media reports, after the joint patrol mission in the Ayn Issa area, the Turkish army tried to invade the region using tanks, heavy weapons and mercenaries. A conclusion can therefore be drawn that Ankara is taking advantage of the joint patrols with Russia for reconnaissance and subsequent attacks on Kurdish positions.
"All Turkish troops deployed to the safe zone in northern Syria have been trained not so much to perform police functions, but rather to conduct warfare," military expert, Colonel Shamil Gareyev, told the paper. "Every day, they conduct aerial reconnaissance of the area, and the joint patrols help them obtain information on the positions of Kurdish guerillas and the Syrian Democratic Forces, so as to later launch attacks on them," the expert explained.
Izvestia: Palestinians opposed to US mediation in Mideast peace process
The Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jewish settlements in the West Bank as legitimate has discredited Washington as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal told Izvestia.
"The Americans have fully discredited themselves as mediators in the peace process by that decision. We state that we no longer recognize the United States in this capacity," he said.
The diplomat also pointed to plans to set up an international mediation mechanism to resolve the long-term dispute.
"Back in 2017, we said we did not need a mediator. We need an international conference and a new mechanism for the peace process, in which Russia should play an important role. The group of five nations (the UN Security Council permanent members), including the United States, but as one of the players, not the only mediator, could be the participants in that mechanism," the ambassador explained.
Obviously, Israel welcomed Washington’s decision. However, experts believe that it does not change anything for the Jewish state or for the Palestinians.
In the long run, the issue of states and territories will have to be resolved through negotiations between the two sides, Pnina Sharvit Baruch, head of the Program on Law and National Security at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, told the paper.
According to Alexander Krylov, an expert at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at MGIMO University, Washington’s statement was just the formal recognition of what the previous administrations recognized de facto: the territory in the West Bank where Jewish settlements exist is Israel’s sovereignty.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Global economic slowdown fraught with recession in Russia
The real GDP of the world’s most developed countries increased by a mere 0.3% in the third quarter compared to the previous three months, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes citing data provided by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
According to experts, trade policy uncertainty and geopolitical volatility are major risks for the onset of a recession. Foreign trade discord and protectionism will eventually be the key risks for the global economy, according to Moody’s.
The key factor in constraining global economic growth will be the ongoing trade conflict between the US and China. Expectations that it would come to an end soon did not pan out, although recent reports said that the parties were about to hammer out the first phase of a trade deal.
This uncertainty is likely to slow down global growth, experts believe. "For Russia, the global economic slowdown will mean zero growth or even a recession," the paper quotes Dmitry Zharsky, CEO of the Veta Expert Group, as saying. That will affect, first and foremost, the consumption of oil and gas, which are important export items for Russia, after which oil prices could drop, he warned.
Russia’s economy is heavily dependent on the external environment, says Yevgeny Udilov, head of the education department at the Phoenix Institute for Trading and Investment. "The slowdown in the global growth is a substantial challenge for our country. There is a general slowdown in the momentum of the global economy due to restrictions in trade, exchange of technologies, tariff and currency wars," he stressed.