- Press review: Congress takes aim at Russian debt market and why the US wants Kazakhstan
- Press review: Will NATO collapse and why is Turkey rattling Russia over vote in Crimea
- Press review: What Biden offered the 76th UNGA and UK resurrects Skripal, Litvinenko cases
- Press review: Perm shooting may lead to tougher gun laws and will France pull out of NATO
Top stories from the Russian press on Thursday, June 17th, prepared by TASS
Media: Putin and Biden announce practical steps after Geneva summit for coming months
The summit of the Russian and US presidents, which lasted less than 4 hours, ended better than many predicted. A joint communique on strategic stability was signed, and the ambassadors of both countries are returning in the coming days to work on bilateral relations. Furthermore, in the next six months, the Russian Foreign Ministry and the US Department of State should find a compromise on returning prisoners from jails, and an expert group will gather to discuss cybersecurity issues. Both Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden noted the positive tone of the talks. Both leaders hope that practical results of the meeting will be seen in the coming months, Izvestia writes.
Expert of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Alexander Yermakov told Vedomosti that Russia was able to make the US confirm the principles enshrined in a declaration between former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan on the impossibility of a nuclear war, adopted in 1985 in Geneva. Earlier, under the Trump administration, Washington avoided reaffirming this declaration. As for the comprehensive dialogue mentioned in the joint statement, the expert believes that this concerns the future that will come after New START’s expiration in 2026. It is early now to speak about what the new arms control treaty will look like. According to the expert, the only thing that can be said right now for sure is that the US is definitely trying to involve China in this treaty, while Russia wants France and the United Kingdom to participate. The bilateral New START could be replaced by a multilateral format.
Director of the Center for Applied Research of the Institute of US and Canada at the Russian Academy of Sciences Pavel Sharikov notes that the summit is valuable only by the fact that it was held rather than any particular achievements. "The most important is the course towards establishing contacts and dialogue," the expert said. Certain steps were made for building dialogue, namely returning envoys. However, the summit is not expected to lead to a reset and improving ties, the expert said. The outcome of the summit will be most likely the discussion on the accrued problems between Russia and the US. Cybersecurity dialogue is now possible in the format of consultations as part of the foreign policy agencies, Sharikov said. This idea was put forward by ex-president Donald Trump at the Helsinki summit in 2018, but it was not fulfilled then. Now the situation has changed, and the reason for this is Biden’s more stable position in the domestic political arena. "It’s easier for Biden now to come to terms with Congress," the expert explained.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Iran’s supreme leader seeks to pick successor
Iran is due to hold its presidential elections on June 18. Five candidates will be taking part, but it is already known that the current Chief Justice of Iran Ebrahim Raisi is the favorite to win. The Guardian Council did not allow any serious rivals to take part in the process. The only thing that could be an obstacle to his victory is a low voter turnout. Meanwhile, Raisi is viewed as not only a future president but also a potential successor to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Senior Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies Vladimir Sazhin notes that now all branches of power in the country will be held by conservative forces. However, under Raisi the country will try to reach an agreement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program as soon as possible in order to change the critical economic situation.
"I think steps in this direction will begin by the time of the inauguration in August. But in general, the fact that radicals will occupy all branches will affect domestic policy — it will become tougher. After the flow of oil money, Iran’s activity in the Middle East will increase with the support of pro-Iranian movements, while Arab states and Israel will oppose that. That’s why soon it won’t be calm in the region," Sazhin said.
Despite the Iranians’ discontent over the current economic situation, which worsened after some candidates were barred from the elections, the authorities will be able to prevent a situation like in 2009, when riots kicked off after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory.
Izvestia: EU outlines its new policy on building relations with Russia
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced on Wednesday three basic principles for building relations with Moscow — "to push back, to constrain and to engage." However, there is nothing principally new in the document, which is set to be approved at the EU summit due on June 24-25. The theses, in fact, reformulated five guiding principles for EU-Russia relations put forward by Borrell’s predecessor Federica Mogherini following the events in Ukraine, Izvestia writes. Experts told the newspaper that the strategy, which was expected to be declared in March, was a logical reflection of tensions accrued in bilateral relations, and it more consolidated a status quo rather than laid a basis for changes for the best.
Senior Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) Sabine Fischer notes that the tone of the report on Russia reflected the tensions in the relations over the past year but also showed that Brussels is still interested in more productive relations if Russia is ready for this at some moment in the future.
According to Reinhard Krumm, Head of the Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe of the Vienna-based Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the document confirmed that Brussels could not clearly formulate its interests in the Russian direction. Both Moscow and Brussels should say whether they want to improve the situation or not. But there were no conclusions on that score in Borrell’s statement, the expert noted. So, a status quo is a maximum that can be expected today in EU-Russia relations.
Russian expert, Director of the Center for Comprehensive International and European Studies at the Higher School of Economics Timofey Borodachev echoed this stance. "What is proposed, on the one hand, is a document that is confrontational towards Russia. On the other hand, it is too meaningless to be a matter of concern for Russia. The essence of the report is to do nothing. And this gives a lot of grounds for optimism because it shows that in the coming years, the EU will not pose any problem for Russia — it is so helpless in its foreign policy," the expert noted.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Kiev to request status of key US ally outside NATO
The Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, is going to ask US Congress to grant Kiev the status of a key US ally outside NATO. The MPs plan to hold a special extraordinary session on Friday after the outcome of the Geneva summit between the Russian and US leaders, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, is known, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba earlier announced that Ukraine should be one of the important issues at the Biden-Putin talks. Following the summit, Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova is due to hold meetings in the US State Department and is expected to inform Kiev about the details of the discussion on the Ukrainian issue. Meanwhile, at the recent NATO summit, the participants did not even issue a possible timeframe for signing the Action Plan on granting Ukraine NATO membership. Kiev is convinced that the uncertainty in this issue is linked to the reluctance of some NATO members to complicate relations with Russia.
Now 17 states have the status of major US non-NATO allies - Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Egypt, South Korea, Jordan, Argentina, Brazil, Bahrain, the Philippines, Thailand, Morocco, Kuwait, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tunisia. This special partnership enables them to jointly with the US fulfill defense projects and get certain types of US equipment and armaments. Ukraine requested this status for the first time back in 2014, when the fighting started in Donbass. However, then-President Barack Obama did not support this idea. The Verkhovna Rada applied for this status for the second time in 2017. However, Washington did not respond.
In mid-April 2021, when Kiev voiced concerns over the alleged concentration of Russian troops near Ukraine’s borders, the parliament once more registered a draft appeal to the US Congress on granting the status of a special partner outside NATO. The document was authored by MP of former president Pyotr Poroshenko’s party European Solidarity, Alexei Goncharenko. He stressed that earlier, this status was given to both stable peaceful countries as well as the states facing high risks of military actions.
Izvestia: Russia moves up five spots in 2021 IMD World Competitiveness Ranking
Russia climbed five spots to 45th place out of 64 in the 2021 IMD World Competitiveness Ranking of the leading economies, Izvestia reported on Thursday referring to the annual ranking of the IMD International Business School and the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo.
According to the newspaper, Russia’s higher performance is linked to the development of its financial sector and high technologies (a surge in exports of products with high added value and R&D expenditures) as well as to reduced environmental damage and better working of its healthcare system.
Russia comes in 16th in terms of tax policy, while it is ranked 25th for employment and 24th for the development of its scientific base. Meanwhile, the country was in 38th place for economic development and state of infrastructure in general. In terms of government efficiency, Russia is ranked 50th, while it hit 54th position in regard to its business environment. The ranking indicated that Russia was in 56th place in terms of the quality of institution management, while it came in 57th and 58th for "social support" and "attitudes and values" respectively. Furthermore, the country held 59th position in terms of economic productivity and efficiency.
According to the ranking, in 2021, Russia’s main challenges will be the acceleration of economic growth, digitalization, combating poverty and inequality as well as population decline and transport infrastructure development. Switzerland took the podium, while last year’s leader Singapore dropped to fifth place.
The Russian Ministry of Economic Development told Izvestia that the country’s pace of economic recovery was beyond expectations. To date, the indicators of agriculture, retail trade, transport, and construction have already significantly surpassed pre-crisis levels. The investment volume and non-resource and non-energy exports also increased, according to the ministry.