Press review: Azeri-Armenian conflict rages on and Lukashenko hits back hard at EU / News / News agency Inforos
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Press review: Azeri-Armenian conflict rages on and Lukashenko hits back hard at EU

Press review: Azeri-Armenian conflict rages on and Lukashenko hits back hard at EU

Top stories in the Russian press on Monday, October 5th, prepared by TASS

Izvestia: Following week-long clashes, Yerevan and Baku still nowhere near negotiations

A week has passed since the current conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh erupted, and this recent flare-up of hostilities is not dying down, whatsoever. On the contrary, things are heating up. On October 4, Armenia and Azerbaijan exchanged missile strikes against the peaceful regions of Stepanakert and Ganja with casualties in both cities. At the moment, neither side is ready for negotiations, Izvestia writes, yet only Yerevan is talking about bringing peacekeepers into the region. Nevertheless, Presidential Adviser of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic David Babayan told the newspaper that first it is necessary to resolve the situation on the battlefield.

Bringing Russian peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh could be discussed within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said. However, so far neither Baku nor Yerevan has taken any real steps towards peaceful negotiations without conditions.

Babayan told Izvestia that it is too early to talk about the introduction of a peacekeeping contingent. "We are forced to stop enemy attacks every second. Let's talk about peacekeepers and other aspects after we smash the backbone of this terrorism, which Azerbaijan and Turkey embody," the politician insisted.

Rasim Musabekov, a member of the Azerbaijani parliament, told Izvestia that the issue with the peacekeepers can be discussed only after Armenia withdraws its military from Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to political scientist Denis Denisov, until a third party intervenes in the conflict, it is bound to continue until one side potentially is victorious. In the meantime, the situation does little to ensure that Baku and Yerevan would voluntarily end the mutual shelling and sit down at the negotiating table. Deploying peacekeepers, he added, is not a simple mechanism, since the consent of both sides is needed, as well as a UN mandate. Hastiness in this matter can greatly harm the entire process and endanger the peacekeepers themselves, the expert believes.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Lukashenko strikes back at EU sanctions

As the anti-government demonstrations carry on in Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko, who is not recognized by many world capitals as the national leader, is not shy about choosing his means to hang on to power, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Special equipment was used against the protesters, and foreign journalists were prohibited from working. In response to the introduction of EU visa sanctions, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry recalled its ambassadors from Lithuania and Poland "for consultations" and demanded that these countries do the same and reduce their embassies’ staff.

Minsk’s reaction, according to analysts, has gone over the top. "Even Brussels understands the symbolism of its actions, and that is why the sanctions are so modest. The list is several times shorter than in 2011, and without Lukashenko in it," political analyst Artem Shraibman said.

Lukashenko is now driven by the desire to retain power at any cost, he is indifferent to any Western reaction, so his tough response to Europe’s symbolic sanctions represents his desire to flex his political muscles, the newspaper writes. Experts noted that the West has no leverage to influence Lukashenko, so after relations have already been ruined, most likely, they will not be restored under this leadership.

According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the majority of experts consider two factors to be decisive for the outcome of the Belarusian protests: Russia’s stance and the activity of the protesters themselves. Experts do not see a decrease in activity, but the fact that the "toxicity" of Lukashenko may bother Russian President Vladimir Putin is heard more and more often. Putin can listen to what they say in the West, if Belarus becomes part of some larger deal in the format "we’ll forgive you about Navalny, so you should press Lukashenko in favor of OSCE mediation and a transfer of power in 2021," Shraibman noted.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Iran may buy weapons from Russia to the tune of $5 bln

The UN ban on arms supplies to Iran expires in two weeks. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin hashed over the repercussions of the embargo being lifted. Washington, however, is planning to prevent the sale of weapons to Tehran and has announced sanctions against possible suppliers, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Experts believe that the threat of sanctions will not stop military cooperation between Moscow and Tehran. The volume of military exports from Russia to Iran is estimated at $5 bln for the next five years.

"The long-term arms embargo against Iran has led to the fact that Tehran is interested in upgrading most of its weapons. But Iran's financial capabilities are limited, and therefore it will carefully select priorities for future purchases," Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov explained. These priorities can be combat aviation, air defense, or military transport aviation.

Iran's internal economic problems will be in the spotlight during the 2021 Iranian presidential election, the political commentator added. Moreover, China may be an obvious competitor to Russian weapons. However, since Chinese aircraft engines are less reliable this leaves niches open for the Russian technology on the Iranian market.

Moscow will also have to consider the position of Israel, which may object to the sale of certain types of weapons to Tehran, Pukhov said. "According to my estimates, in the next five years, Russia can expect supplies of arms and military equipment to Iran for about $5 bln. Although, the volume could be larger," Pukhov told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Izvestia: Virologists await second wave of COVID-19 in Russian regions

On Sunday, October 4, Russia reported a record increase in COVID-19 infections in recent months - 10,499 cases. The last time the 10,000 benchmark was surpassed was on May 15. Back then, the country was in quarantine. Over the past week, the number of recorded coronavirus cases per day has increased by 2,632 people. The second wave, virologists predict, will cover the regions, and the situation there may be worse than in Moscow, Izvestia writes. At the same time, an alarming trend is also emerging in the capital: a doubling of mortality against the background of a sharp jump in infection rates indicates that the disease is detected at later stages.

"This is a very alarming sign, meaning that the disease is found at very late stages. In April, the time difference between the increase in morbidity and the increase in mortality was up to 17 days, while in the US it was 13 days, and in Mexico it was about six. This means that many cases in Russia were registered at an early stage of the disease," Director of the Martsinovsky Institute of Medical Parasitology, Tropical and Vector-borne Diseases, virologist Alexander Lukashev told Izvestia.

The experts added that the second wave of COVID-19 in the regions woild be much more powerful than the first. "The first wave virtually did not affect regions, so there was no immune layer in humans. As a percentage of the number of cases, regions will catch up with Moscow," the virologist said.

The head of the department of microbiology of latent infections at the Gamaleya Institute, virologist Viktor Zuev believes that the return of children to schools, and students to universities, the end of the holiday season, as well as the opening of bars and cafes, affected the infection statistics. In addition, "loose discipline and carelessness" caused the rise in susceptibility to the infection and morbidity, the expert noted.

Kommersant: Russia tries to free networks from monopolization by largest vendors

Telecommunication Technologies Consortium (ANO TT) prepared a strategy for the development of telecom equipment production, in which it is proposed to oblige telecom operators to build networks using equipment with an open interface - in particular, the Open Radio Access Network (OpenRAN), General Director of the Consortium Gulnara Khasyanova told Kommersant. According to the newspaper, this could make it possible to move away from binding networks to a specific supplier, which at the moment includes foreign companies like Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia, and gradually integrate Russian equipment into them. Some companies, however, doubt that such transition should be legally obligatory, as it could lead to higher prices.

"The market currently has a proprietary model, when the supplier makes all the elements of the network and there is only a single vendor's equipment at each site. It is possible to switch to another manufacturer only by completely replacing the network," Khasyanova explained. In her opinion, the policy of open interfaces should solve the problem of market monopolization by the largest vendors.

The biggest suppliers of Russian telecom operators are now foreign ones - China’s Huawei, Sweden’s Ericsson, and Finland’s Nokia. Domestic equipment based on OpenRAN, including for 5G networks, is being developed by Element (owned by Sistema and Rostec) in cooperation with Skoltech and MTS.

Other telecom operators are skeptical about the idea of any legislative regulation of OpenRAN. MegaFon is already using equipment with open interfaces from different vendors, the company said. But OpenRAN covers only part of the network, so it would be wrong to focus solely on this technology.

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