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Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday, April 7, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: Germany refuses to back Russia’s initiative to ban weapons in space
Berlin has turned down Moscow’s initiative to keep weapons out of space, a source in the German Federal Foreign Office told Izvestia. The source noted though that both Germany and the EU sought to prevent an arms race in outer space and were creating their own European regulatory framework to maintain security in space.
According to the German Federal Foreign Office, the creation of comprehensive and legally binding agreements should begin with the coordination of standards of responsible behavior in space.
German Commissioner for Disarmament and Arms Control Susanne Baumann stressed to the paper that the top-priority issue was to focus on general security across the globe and confidence-building measures between countries.
Back in 2004, Russia unilaterally pledged not to be the first to deploy weapons to outer space. To date, 22 countries, including Argentina, Cuba and Brazil, have backed Moscow’s initiative. Nevertheless, there is not a single major space power, except for China, among those who supported it. Neither the United States, nor Israel, nor France have responded to Russia’s appeal.
The West believes that by having a unilateral advantage, that will ensure its comprehensive security. However, this is just an illusion, because neither Russia, nor other countries will ever agree with unilateral military dominance, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev told Izvestia.
"That will only be tantamount to an endless arms race. In order to prevent it, Russia has come up with initiatives, particularly, those concerning the non-deployment of weapons to outer space. This is the kind of an arms race, which is easy to stop by preventing it from starting," the senator explained.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US fears China’s Pacific expansion
Beijing will try to undermine the United States’ superiority at sea as soon as the coronavirus outbreak fades away, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. America’s military bases in Hawaii and on neighboring islands could be in danger, according to US military brass. This being so, they’ve asked Congress for more money to counter China, and legislators are more than likely to grant that request.
These funds will be required to cover the costs of acquiring new radar equipment, cruise missiles, deploy additional troops, create new intelligence collection centers and conduct more drills with US allies.
Some legislators in Washington even argue that the Chinese missile threat is so formidable that America should spread out its military forces, which are currently deployed mainly in Japan and South Korea, across Asia.
The Americans have no reason to fear China’s control over the Pacific Ocean in the foreseeable future, Senior Research Fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Far Eastern Studies Vasily Kashin told the paper. "However, they have reasons to react to the changes in the regional power landscape. The United States’ problem is that it cannot concentrate all its forces in the Pacific. Meanwhile, China is gradually building up its navy, by redistributing resources in the military budget in favor of the naval forces. As a result, China has an advantage in some areas over those forces, which the United States has in the region on a permanent basis, even taking into the account its allies’ forces. The issue at hand is the number of warships equipped with anti-ship missiles and some types of aircraft," the expert explained.
Izvestia: COVID-19 compels 18 countries to put off elections
The novel coronavirus was the second case in the 21st century when the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared a pandemic. That happened for the first time during the swine flu outbreak in 2009-2010. However, the ongoing spread of the virus has for the first time resulted in profound changes to electoral procedures in various countries, with elections and referendums being postponed indefinitely, Izvestia writes citing an analytical note titled "Electoral Coronavirus" prepared by the Civil Society Development Foundation.
According to its authors, as many as 18 countries have decided to postpone voting amid the pandemic, or have imposed restrictive measures, which prevent them from holding elections within the established deadlines.
That concerns, in particular, the presidential elections in the United States and Poland. Due to the pandemic, the US primaries have been delayed in several states. Some other states have put off elections from spring to summer. Nevertheless, the date for the US presidential election, November 3, has remained unchanged so far.
In a similar vein, Russia’s Central Election Commission has decided to postpone 102 election campaigns scheduled to be held from April 5 to June 21, 2020.
"In the event of a favorable forecast, it is essential to restore normal life in all areas as soon as possible. Of course, the less time that is required for that, the higher the authorities’ approval ratings will be," the foundation’s Chairman Konstantin Kostin explained to Izvestia.
For his part, Mikhail Emelyanov, First Deputy Chairman of the Just Russia faction in the Russian State Duma (lower house), told the paper that the pandemic’s impact on politics would depend on the country’s resources. The authorities’ actions today are effective, but the most important question is how long the pandemic will last. Russians will not be able to stay away from work for more than one month. That’s why compliance with the quarantine rules is so important for everyone, the lawmaker stressed.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia, Saudis determined to persuade US to cut oil production
The OPEC+ summit scheduled for April 9 can become a historic event, given Moscow’s recent statements about a potential deal with Riyadh, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Both countries have made it clear that a new deal is possible, but only if more nations get onboard, particularly the United States.
According to experts, it will be difficult to restore the balance in the market without Washington’s involvement in the deal. "Saudi Arabia can handle the bulk of production cuts, but Russia will agree to cut [output] only if the United States joins [the deal], and this is up in the air so far," the paper quotes Vyacheslav Abramov, director of the BCS Broker sales office, as saying.
Finam’s Alexei Kalachev likewise doubts that the US will sign a binding agreement on this. "The US oil industry consists of thousands of independent private oil companies, none of them dominate the nation’s oil production. US authorities have no direct impact on the oil industry, like Saudi Arabia’s royal family on its Saudi Aramco monopoly," he stressed.
According to the expert, Trump may use the carrot and stick approach to tackle the issue by offering Saudi Arabia and Russia to exchange production cuts for the provision of technology or removal of sanctions. On the other hand, he may threaten to impose duties on oil imports to the United States, he pointed out.
Kommersant: Russian hospitals to be converted to treat COVID-19 patients
Russia’s hospitals will have to provide up to 100,000 beds by mid-April to receive coronavirus patients, Kommersant writes. According to the latest government decree, a total of 18 federal medical facilities will be partially converted to handle COVID-19 patients.
These include the Pirogov National Medical Surgical Center, the Bakulev National Medical Research Center and the Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University. The share of converted beds in them will vary from 30% to 50%. Together with the existing hospitals and those under construction, the transformation will make it possible to bring the number of beds for coronavirus patients up to 100,000, that’s one-tenth of the country’s total hospital bed capacity.
The conversion of medical facilities for coronavirus patients can result in both organizational and financial difficulties, the paper quotes Vice President of the All-Russian Insurance Association Dmitry Kuznetsov as saying. "Compulsory medical insurance already includes tariffs for treating and testing such patients, which means that clinics will continue to receive funding from the budget. However, due to the reduction in the number of medical checkups, they will also face revenue losses," he warned.
According to Director of the Centre for Health Policy Sergey Shishkin, hospital revenues could drop as well due to planned hospitalization restrictions. "According to our study, up to one half of the patients can be admitted to hospitals for treatment on prescription by specialists from the same medical facility, and not from their consulting physicians," he said.