Press review: Who got the EU’s top jobs and what caused the Russian submersible tragedy / News / News agency Inforos
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Press review: Who got the EU’s top jobs and what caused the Russian submersible tragedy

Press review: Who got the EU’s top jobs and what caused the Russian submersible tragedy

Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, July 3, prepared by TASS

Kommersant: EU political landscape changes with new leadership

At the very last moment, the European Union avoided a new crisis, which would have inevitably emerged if the summit in Brussels had failed. After hours of discussions, Europe's leaders managed to come to terms on the candidates for the EU’s top jobs on Tuesday. For Moscow, the outcome of the EU’s bargaining looks rather ambiguous, Kommersant writes.

The EU Council will be led by Belgium’s Charles Michel, who has vowed to work on building a united EU "respecting national diversity." Ursula von der Leyen, a German politician, will become the European Commission president, Spain’s Josep Borrell will take up the EU foreign policy chief post and France’s Christine Lagarde will head the European Central Bank. These candidates need to be approved by the European Parliament.

The news that Ursula von der Leyen, a German defense minister, will become the European Commission President came as a surprise, the paper writes. "For Russia, this is one of the worst candidates. Previously, the politician had not made any attempts to seek closer ties with Russia. And she will definitely continue insisting on keeping the sanctions," Deputy Director of the Institute of Europe Vladislav Belov told the paper.

Moscow will also find it hard to work with Josep Borrell, who has earlier described Russia as a threat. However, Bulgarian Socialist Sergei Stanishev, who may become the European Parliament president, cannot be called a staunch Moscow critic. He was born in Ukraine and was a citizen of the Soviet Union and then of Russia. Stanishev, who graduated from Moscow State University and fluently speaks Russian, said he did not view Moscow as a serious security threat for Bulgaria and the EU.

Meanwhile, Fyodor Lukyanov, Chairman of the Presidium of the Russian Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, said the changing political landscape in the EU won’t bring any crucial changes either for Russia or for Europe. "Do these people define the EU's political course? No. Has the EU managed to overcome its internal crisis after these elections? No," the expert said.

According to Lukyanov, the major problem is not about people, but about the positions, which face various political restrictions containing their potential. "The only really influential official is the head of the European Central Bank, and Christine Lagarde, who has a brilliant reputation, will strengthen its role at this post," he noted.

Izvestia: G20 summit fails to put an end to US-China trade war

The major outcome of the G20 summit in Japan’s Osaka was a truce in the trade war between the United States and China. There is no talk about a shift in relations because the earlier imposed tariffs are still in place. What's more, the sides have only agreed on continuing talks. However, for global businesses this decision is an important timeout in a situation, where the economic growth phase is coming to an end, Izvestia writes.

The trade war between the world's two major economies has been raging for the past 18 months. Three truces had been brokered, but the overall trend is towards an escalating conflict, more aggressive rhetoric and tougher measures. However, this time, the teams of US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed on canceling the most draconian measures directed at each other, and this seems to be some major progress, the paper says.

The important result of the G20 summit is that the tariffs announced by the US and China in May won’t be introduced. There were fears that that they would surge to 25%. The timeframe of the moratorium has not been defined and, basically, the restrictive duties may be imposed at any moment.

The situation around China's high-tech giant hovered over the summit and a compromise was announced. Corporations were allowed to trade and cooperate with Huawei. This means that foreign companies will continue supplying microprocessors to China, and the software will fit gadgets manufactured by the Chinese company. However, the restrictions related to technologies, which may pose a threat to US national security, are still in force.

The uncertainty over the truce shows that no one is planning to take drastic changes to counter global trade imbalances and countries will more often resort to trade arguments to solve conflicts, the paper says.

Izvestia: Experts rule out crew error in Russian submersible accident

A crew error could not have caused the tragedy in the Barents Sea on July 1 when 14 Russian submariners died in a fire onboard a research submersible, experts interviewed by Izvestia said. The crews of these submersibles consist of high-class professionals, who learn how to survive in emergency situations, they explained. Two of the sailors were Heroes of Russia and seven others were captains of the first rank. The tragedy occurred in Russia’s territorial waters and the fire was extinguished "thanks to the self-sacrificing actions of the team," the Defense Ministry said. Now the vessel is at the Severomorsk naval base.

The research submersible was carrying out bathymetric measurements, namely the works on examining the sea bottom, currents and the depths. Their results are important mainly for ensuring surface and underwater navigation, and may be widely used for scientific purposes.

Media reports said citing the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority that Russia had allegedly notified Norway about a gas explosion onboard a submarine in the Barents Sea. However, the Russian Defense Ministry later denied this report.

According to experts, the tragedy could have occurred onboard the Losharik nuclear deep-water station AS-12, one of Russia’s most classified naval projects. It was not earlier mentioned in official sources. The vessel belongs to the Defense Ministry’s Main Department for Deep-water Research, a structure that is directly subordinated to the top brass, Editor-in-Chief of the Military Russia Internet project Dmitry Kornev said.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US bill pushes Cyprus to close ports to Russian warships

The United States is on the verge of passing a bill to support the Republic of Cyprus, which is aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two countries. The initiative, titled the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Partnership Act, was approved by the Senate.

The bill outlines crucial issues for Nicosia - lifting the 1987 arms embargo, financing the Cypriot security sector and maintaining energy cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Israel. However, the text has been seriously amended and at the initiative of one of its authors, Democrat Robert Menendez, these changes are directly linked to Russia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

In particular, the initiative demands an annual report from the US executive branch that "the Government of the Republic of Cyprus takes and continues to take the necessary steps to deny access to Russian warships to ports for refueling and supplies."

The amendment has raised eyebrows in Nicosia, which expected Washington’s direct and absolute support amid the growing split between the US leadership and Turkey, the paper says. Cypriot Defense Minister Savvas Angelides said Cyprus continued providing its ports and infrastructure for ships from Russia and other countries. The Russian Foreign Ministry has condemned the bill, saying that it is "directed at undermining Russian-Cypriot cooperation."

By highlighting the key aspects of its new strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean, Washington is actually pushing Cyprus to give up bilateral agreements with Russia, which regulate the passage of Russian ships through Cypriot ports. Certainly, the US has the right to make any demands on its allies, but analysts in Nicosia note that in its turn, Cyprus may also expect US reciprocity on restoring the status quo, which had been on the island prior to July 20, 1974, when Turkish forces launched an operation in the north, the paper says.

Kommersant: Route dispute causes turbulence between Russian, Czech aviation authorities

Urgent talks between aviation authorities of Russia and the Czech Republic, which were launched on July 2 after a surprise cancellation of most flights between the countries, have not resulted in any deal being hammered out. According to Kommersant, the crisis was triggered by the Russian Transport Ministry’s firm position, which demanded that its Czech colleagues let a third Russian airline operate along the Moscow-Prague route. In the event of a refusal, Russia vowed not to extend its temporary permission for Czech Airlines to conduct flights from Prague to Seoul via the shortest Trans-Siberian route over Russian territory.

This permission expired on July 1. If the parties fail to come to terms by early next week, the number of flights between Russia and the Czech Republic will be cut for Russian airlines from seven to two, in parity with Czech Airlines.

The Russian Transport Ministry has suggested a temporary solution (both for Moscow-Prague and Prague-Seoul flights) until the end of the 2020 summer season. Russia was ready to agree just to increase the number of flights on the Zhukovsky-Prague route from 7 to 14 per week. According to sources, allowing the third airline to perform flights won’t offer any advantages for Prague.

In a response to Russia’s proposal, the Czech Transport Ministry asked for another three weeks to decide. However, sources in the sector said the Russian Transport Ministry did not welcome this request. Instead, Czech Airlines was allowed to fly to Seoul via an alternative southern route through Rostov-on-Don to Central Asia. This route is longer than the Trans-Siberian and therefore the airline has to make a stop, the source explained.

Then the Czech aviation authorities decided to return to an agreement on parity with Russia, leaving just two flights between Moscow and Prague for Czech Airlines and for Aeroflot. Due to this, on July 2, Russia’s flagship air carrier was forced to cancel some extra flights. However, on the same day a decision was made to temporarily restore the status quo until July 7 for holding talks.

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