- Press review: Moscow to strike back at US-EU sanctions and Turkey, Iran at odds over Iraq
- Press review: Pashinyan open to snap elections and Sarkozy sentenced for corruption
- Press review: Will US push Moscow, Saudis closer and can Pashinyan endure current strife
- US to prepare additional measures against Myanmar after protest break-up
Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, June 10, prepared by TASS
Kommersant: Russia seeks to prevent revival of tough anti-Iranian sanctions
Moscow is trying to stop the United States from wrecking the Iranian nuclear deal. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wrote a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling to prevent Washington’s scheme to reinstate tough sanctions against Iran. According to the top Russian diplomat, the US has no right to do this since it withdrew from the deal on settling the Iranian nuclear problem in 2018. The US disagrees with this and submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council on extending the arms embargo against Iran. In case Russia vetoes it, Washington will insist on restoring all earlier international sanctions against Tehran.
The UN Security Council faces a serious clash on the Iranian issue, Kommersant writes. It is clear now that Russia will veto the US resolution. In his letter to Guterres, Lavrov notes that there are no objective reasons for considering the issue of the arms embargo against Iran at the Security Council. Lavrov stresses that arms supplies have no relation to the Iranian nuclear program.
Obviously, the US does not hope that Russia will back the resolution and has drawn up Plan B. Washington expects to use a special dispute resolution mechanism stipulated by UN Security Council’s Resolution 2231, which was mentioned by Lavrov. It could result in restoring all tough international sanctions against Iran, including restrictions on arms supplies, cooperation in economic and other fields and freezing foreign assets. Only a party to the Iranian nuclear deal could advance this mechanism, the paper says. Although the US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action two years ago, the United States insists that the country still has the status of a party to the deal. Washington’s logic is clear: although it withdrew from the political deal — the JCPOA — it remains a party to the UN process, which allows it to use all mechanisms of Resolution 2231. In his letter, Lavrov strongly condemns this plan. The top diplomat says this is absolutely unacceptable, stressing that "You can’t eat your cake and have it too." According to Lavrov, the JCPOA cannot be considered separately from UN Security Council’s Resolution 2231.
A lot will depend on the stance of Washington’s European allies in the JCPOA — the United Kingdom, Germany and France, the paper says. The Europeans fear that if the arms embargo is extended or international sanctions are restored, Tehran will expel international inspectors and start making a nuclear bomb.
Izvestia: North Korea’s communications cut with South Korea to draw US attention
North Korea has cut off all communication lines with South Korea, declaring that the sides have nothing to discuss. Formally, this came as a response to anti-government leaflets sent by its southern neighbor using giant balloons. However, experts interviewed by Izvestia believe that Pyongyang has toughened its ties with South Korea in order to put leverage on Seoul and Washington to ease sanctions.
Pyongyang’s about face from friendship to hostility with Seoul certainly did not occur just because of the balloons, the paper says. Since the failed second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump a year and a half ago, the North Korean leadership started blaming both the US and Seoul for all failures. In particular, South Korea was unable to lobby for a partial removal of sanctions against North Korea related to inter-Korean projects.
"North Korea sought to use the South as a mediator to make the US sit down at the negotiating table. Now, when the diplomatic process between the US and North Korea has been deadlocked for awhile and has no prospects for resumption in the near future due to domestic US policy, Pyongyang could decide that there is no more sense to maintain good inter-Korean relations," expert at the Beijing-based Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy Tong Zhao told the paper.
Stephen Nagi, an expert from the Tokyo-based International Christian University and a member of the Canadian Asia Pacific Foundation, also said that Pyongyang’s steps are mainly focused on the US. "The ruptured ties could be a trick so that in exchange for their restoration, Seoul could try to ease sanctions against Pyongyang by some creative way and commit itself to lobbying the Trump administration to return to the negotiating table," the expert said. Another reason could be that the North Korean issue has been relegated to the back burner amid increased tensions between China and the US, the upcoming US election and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Maduro’s opponents alarmed by alliance with Libya’s Haftar
Venezuela’s opposition has raised alarm bells over the news that President Nicolas Maduro and Commander of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar were allegedly holding secret talks in Caracas. Although it was forced to later refute its own statements, the issue of relations between the Venezuelan leadership and East Libya is now being widely discussed in the United States, Europe and the United Nations. The Libyan commander is suspected of shipping fuel to the Bolivarian republic.
Maduro, Haftar and Syrian President Bashar Assad are now forming some sort of a front with practical and demonstrative goals, Anton Mardasov, a researcher of the Washington-based Middle East Institute (MEI), told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "Assad and Haftar are cooperating based on an anti-Turkish alliance, and Damascus seeks not only to send its loyal units to Libya and ‘utilize’ captured radicals there, but also to secure support of the United Arab Emirates," the analyst said. "Cooperation between Assad and Maduro emulates foreign policy based on "the struggle against the hegemon." However, Haftar’s contacts with Maduro are not aimed against Turkey."
According to the expert, Caracas has good relations with Ankara and it is difficult to even brand them as even anti-American. Moreover, lately the United States has started showing some loyalty to Libya’s Government of National Accord. "Most importantly, this ‘front’ is united by Iranian and Russian factors," Mardasov noted. "Russian aviation is using the Hmeymim base for cooperation with Libya and Libyan facilities for transit to Venezuela. Iran is using Venezuela for activity near the US and increasing illegal trade, and it is using Libya as a means to have its finger on the pulse of a local conflict and take part in Syrian-Libyan contacts."
Kommersant: Russia’s ban on imports in state orders to target only electronics industry
The initiatives on increasing protectionism in state orders, which have become more popular amid the coronavirus economic recession, are now limited only to supporting import replacement in the electronics industry. A project on limiting foreign companies’ access to the electronics market was drawn up by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and is part and parcel of the government’s plan to restore the economy. The document stipulates that the priority of Russian electronics in state orders will be confirmed only by 2023. Perhaps, the government expects that by that time it will be possible to estimate the effect of the adopted measures and what’s more, restrictions on investments in import could decelerate the pace of investments. Sources in the government note that no other items will be banned for imports in the near future, Kommersant writes.
The ministry’s project finalizes the industrial lobby’s latest attempt to support domestic production through expanded state orders. The work of the government’s industrial bloc in this direction included the packages of amendments to the laws on state purchases and state companies on introducing a compulsory share of purchases from Russian suppliers depending on the sector. De-facto, the Mishustin cabinet plans to limit the use of this tool to just one sector — the electronics industry, which Kommersant’s sources attribute to its accumulated potential.
The draft amendments to the government’s decree on encouraging the production of radio electronics expand the list of Russian manufacturers, who enjoy preferences in state orders. The document has been sent for approval by the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Federal Antimonopoly Service and the Federal Treasury. The restrictions and bans on the purchases of foreign electronics goods will be introduced in accordance with the list compiled by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Right now, it includes seven items, including computer, electronic and optical equipment, household appliances and lighting devices. The Ministry notes that Russian producers are ready to meet the demands for state orders at 100% capacity.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: New OPEC+ deal losing steam right from the start
Oil prices on Tuesday slightly declined during trading, despite having grown over the previous days as a result of the decision to extend the OPEC+ deal for another month. Western analysts say that the oil market is looking forward to some adjustment. Fundamentally, the demand for raw materials remains low, and there is a glut of oil reserves, besides, the price for Brent oil hit a record low over the past three months. The news about the prospect of Libyan supplies returning to the market also had a negative effect.
Obviously, US shale oil producers will also influence the price. According to some analysts, production in the US hampers the restoration of a balance on the market. Analysts are divided over the oil market’s prospects by the end of this year. Today, there are no grounds to say that the demand for oil has been restored, Russian experts point out. "The demand for oil dropped 20-25% in the second quarter of this year," said Director of FBK’s Strategic Analysis Department Igor Nikolaev. According to him, data on air and auto shipments do not signal any restoration. There is still a glut of aviation fuel and petrol, said partner at Rusenergy Mikhail Krutikhin. Another factor is the developed world placing big stakes on green energy. "We see a coordinated approach of countries at decarbonizing the economy. This will also significantly contain the demand for oil, gas and coal," he noted.
This year, the situation could be affected by the anticipated second wave of the coronavirus and the resumption of quarantine measures. By the end of this year, the demand for oil will be 9-10% lower than last year, Nikolaev said. The decline in hydrocarbon consumption could create even bigger problems for Russia in the future.