Press review: Russia scuttles NATO’s planned Azov drills and BRICS braces for Bolsonaro / News / News agency Inforos
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Press review: Russia scuttles NATO’s planned Azov drills and BRICS braces for Bolsonaro

Press review: Russia scuttles NATO’s planned Azov drills and BRICS braces for Bolsonaro
Context:

Izvestia: Russia thwarts NATO's planned drills in the Sea of Azov

NATO ships won’t enter the Sea of Azov, since Russia is not going to allow joint exercises between the alliance and Ukraine there, Crimea's leader Sergey Aksyonov told Izvestia on Tuesday. According to him, Russia will defend its national interests, and Kiev’s plans to instigate new anti-Russian sanctions will only have a boomerang effect, he stressed.

A NATO official told the paper that the organization was concerned over the destabilizing situation in the Sea of Azov. Amid tensions, the initiators of the resolution on stepping up anti-Russian sanctions have been making unacceptable demands on Russia.

"Probably, the Ukrainian authorities hope that their provocations will result in the next round of anti-Russian sanctions. But it’s ironic that even though Russia gets sanctioned, Ukraine ends up harmed. On the one hand, Kiev complains that it loses billions, and on the other hand it is delighted with the restrictions and demands new ones. This is the political insanity, which is inherent in the current Ukrainian authorities," Aksyonov stressed.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that it is impossible for vessels to enter the Sea of Azov without Moscow’s permission as the treaty with Ukraine requires the consent of both countries for that.

NATO insists that Ukraine's waters should be open to all ships since this is vital for the alliance member's vessels, which maintain trade relations with Kiev. Earlier, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the organization was concerned over Russia’s destabilizing steps in the Sea of Azov and expressed discontent over the construction of the Crimean Bridge.

On October 25, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Russia’s "excessive actions" in the Sea of Azov, which may spark an armed conflict in this region. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova castigated this step as another propaganda stunt by the West.

 

Kommersant: Brazil’s president-elect pledges radical changes in domestic, foreign policy

Brazil has bid farewell to the left-wing government that had ruled the country for the past 13 years, Kommersant business daily writes. Subsequently, Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing politician and retired military officer won the runoff presidential election on October 28, securing 55.1% of the vote. The newly-elected leader has vowed to combat corruption, reduce crime rates and liberalize gun laws. His foreign policy agenda is to unshackle Brazil from an ideological-based system and build closer ties with the United States, Europe, Israel and Japan. However, experts interviewed by Kommersant said that Russia should not fear that its relations with Brazil will worsen or that the South American nation could soon withdraw from BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

Speaking on the future of BRICS, Bolsonaro said he was skeptical about multilateral contacts and China. According to him, Chinese businessmen have been "buying up" Brazil, and over the past years, with Beijing having become Brazil’s key trade partner. However, no real rupture of ties between the two countries should be expected, Professor at St. Petersburg State University Viktor Heifets told the paper. "Bolsonaro is bound to understand that it’s impossible to disrupt relations with the country, which is its number one trading partner,” he explained. "Relations may be modified and influenced, but they cannot be severed. This will bury the economy under the rubble of this political decision, and (his) popularity would end there."

The situation with Russian-Brazilian relations is similar, Director of the Ibero-American Institute Vicente Barrientos said. "Trade policy is a priority for Brazil. He will try to foster it [trade] with both the US, Europe and Russia, as this is advantageous for the country," the expert noted.

Russian-Brazilian trade is not related to ideology, Professor Heifets said. "This also concerns BRICS. Certainly, this is a multilateral club, but Brazil is interested in some of its economic mechanisms." Among them is the New Development Bank, he noted. "I don’t think that right now a decision will be made to leave this informal club." BRICS members hope that Brazil’s shift in power won’t impede relations between the organization’s members.

 

RBC: Valdai experts say NATO breakup unlikely

Experts of the Valdai International Discussion Club have analyzed possible scenarios of NATO’s development over the next decade, RBC writes. The EU members’ military buildup will lead to a revision of cooperation inside the alliance, but NATO’s breakup is the most unlikely scenario.

According to the Valdai experts, the key factors influencing the alliance’s future will be the degree that the United States is involved in European military and political problems, the level of EU members’ military potential, and also a shift from liberal values that are being pushed aside by populist alternatives.

The most probable development scenario is revising the terms of cooperation within the bloc and this would be triggered by an expansion of military potential in Europe, the study says. This scenario stipulates a partial reform of cooperation in NATO and even reducing its institutional potential. However, the bloc would hold on to its activity and viability.

Even if US involvement in European problems is cut back, NATO will remain a tool of political coordination, which would guarantee the ‘West’s democracy’, the authors of the study said.

"In this case, the military and strategic part of the organization’s activity would dissolve and it would be forced to search for new issues to fill its own agenda. At the same time, thanks to ideological unity, the group is able to remain more productive than the modern Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), where cooperation is hampered by principal differences between its members," the document says.

Experts note that the function of containing Moscow is still crucial to the alliance.

"Despite that fact that the containment of Russia will most likely remain on the group’s agenda, the level of real military and political pressure will most likely remain limited (significantly below the level of the Cold War, with which the modern situation is often compared)," the report stated.

 

Media: Why is Merkel not pursuing a fifth term as German Chancellor?

Angela Merkel’s decision not to seek re-election as the German Chancellor in 2021 and to step down as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in December has been dominating Tuesday’s headlines in the Russian press. This year has been a very difficult test and maybe one of the toughest times in Merkel’s career, Izvestia writes. Since the federal election, a string of political crises has engulfed Germany. Donald Trump, seems to be an unpredictable US partner, who is also creating obstacles with both politicians having been unable to maintain an efficient dialogue. Meanwhile, Berlin sees Washington as having shifted from a sure ally into a "wily businessman," imposing disadvantageous deals.

The German leader’s move was apparently sparked by the CDU party’s recent failures in Hesse and Bavaria. For Merkel, this decision was a compromise enabling her to keep the Chancellor’s seat in the coming years, Izvestia says. The politician has laid out her political bargain, she is stepping down as the party leader and won’t take part in the next election in exchange for the possibility of serving as Germany’s Chancellor until her fourth term expires, the paper says. By this gesture, Merkel is shouldering responsibility for the fiasco at the regional election, showing flexibility and readiness to renew the party.

Merkel is making "a measured and beautiful political move" when saying that she won’t hold onto the post of the party’s chair, Head of the Center of German Studies at the Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladislav Belov told Vedomosti. It’s also important that for the first time Merkel is drawing a line between the post of the party’s leader and the Chancellor - this is an absolutely new situation, which will open up the possibility for renewing the crisis-stricken CDU party, the expert said. Meanwhile, Merkel won’t be a lame duck until 2021 and the CDU party and its partners are unlikely to hold early elections, Belov notes.

There are several heavyweight politicians in Germany, who may replace Merkel as the CDU party’s leader and as Chancellor, Belov told RBC. Among them is Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn, General Secretary of the CDU Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and former chairman of CDU/CSU parliamentary group Friedrich Merz. Kramp-Karrenbauer is considered as one of Merkel’s closest allies. However, Merkel said she was not planning to support any candidates and the reputation of her successor is unlikely to play into the candidate’s hands, Nina Schick, expert at Rasmussen Global political consulting firm said.

 

Vedomosti: Rosneft finds new Chinese buyer of its oil

Russia’s Rosneft may start supplying oil to CITIC Resources, a subsidiary of the Chinese state fund CITIC, two sources close to the parties at talks told Vedomosti. This concerns a contract, which Rosneft signed with CEFC China in September 2017. Under the deal, the Russian oil company was expected to supply 10 mln tonnes per year over five years and the overall supplies could reach 100 mln tonnes. CEFC also agreed to buy 14.16% of Rosneft’s shares from a joint venture between Qatar’s investment fund, QIA, and Switzerland’s Glencore. However, CEFC went bankrupt and was forced to sell its assets.

CEFC’s contract on oil purchase will be fulfilled by the Chinese state fund, CITIC Resources, two sources told Vedomosti. One of them said CITIC was considering plans of signing the contract with Rosneft, without CEFC China participation. The second source confirmed that there had been such a plan, but right now the idea is to transfer the contract to CEFC Singapore, which will be owned by CITIC.

CITIC seeks to fulfill this contract to prevent problems with supplies, analyst at the Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA) Vasily Tanurkov told the paper. China needs Russian oil, the country is demonstrating great economic growth rates and the demand for oil in the region is expected to surge in the near future, he explained.

 

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