Top stories in the Russian press on Monday, September 23, prepared by TASS
Kommersant: Trump-Zelensky talks put Ukraine at center stage in US presidential race
President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky is headed to New York to attend the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, and is poised to hold his first meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines. Meanwhile, not long ago, Ukraine was at the center of the biggest political scandal in recent months in the United States. Leading Democratic presidential contender for the 2020 election, Joe Biden accused Trump of pressuring Zelensky to obtain incriminating evidence against his son Hunter Biden. The former vice president even entertained the possibility of impeaching the president, Kommersant wrote.
According to the newspaper, the situation means that US military assistance and positions on the war in Donbass in Washington will now be looked at through the prism of the standoff between the Republicans and Democrats.
"The situation when Ukraine was at the epicenter of the US presidential campaign seems absurd from the point of view of ‘realpolitik’. A country that does not matter to US foreign policy neither as a threat to US national security, nor as a trade and economic partner, suddenly becomes the subject of a fierce confrontation," chief researcher at the US and Canada Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Batyuk told Kommersant. According to the expert, the problem is that US politicians are moving away from "good old political realism, and therefore any hypothetical deal with Moscow regarding Ukraine will be perceived as a betrayal of the values that the US stands for."
"Using media loyal to them, the Democrats are gunning for President Trump, and this campaign, at least from a media point of view, looks successful," expert at the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs Alexander Gushchin said. According to the expert, if Zelensky tries to fulfill Trump’s conditions, compromising material may not be used against the Democrats, and then Zelensky’s position will be even more difficult than the position of Pyotr Poroshenko and his administration, if Biden or someone else from the Democrats wins the election.
"Despite the rather high odds of President Trump getting re-elected, it is still unlikely that putting all their eggs in one basket is strategically viable for the Ukrainian administration," the expert said.
Kommersant: Moldova agrees to ditch anti-Russian line, says president
Recently, Russia has noticeably stepped up ties with Moldova. Last week, a meeting of the Russian-Moldovan intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation was held in Chisinau, and Russian Deputy PM Dmitry Kozak attended the Moldovan-Russian Economic Forum. Kozak handles issues on Moldova. Meanwhile, the government and Moldovan President Igor Dodon agreed to abandon the systemic "anti-Russian approach" in regard to investors and review violations in specific cases, President Dodon said in an interview with Kommersant.
"Together with the government, we have agreed that we will not continue the practice of forbidding Russian journalists and Russian investors from coming to Moldova. If there are any violations, we will sit down and look at specific cases. However, the systematic anti-Russian line as it was, will not continue anymore. This applies to Russian investors, as well as Romanian, European, and American ones," the Moldovan president said.
Dodon added that Moldova would be ready to talk about specific assets that might interest Russian investors — such as Chisinau Airport and the port of Giurgiulesti. "We are ready to talk and communicate with all investors, both western and eastern. Of course, for Russians too, this is an interesting and understandable investment. Therefore, if we talk about these two specific assets, it is very important to first return the airport to the full ownership of the state, and we are working on it. I think we have a good chance of achieving this," he said.
Izvestia: AmCham may open office in Kazan
The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia is considering opening a representative office in Kazan, its President in Russia Alexis Rodzianko told Izvestia. According to him, the organization is studying this region and plans to bolster its presence in Tatarstan, since it has extremely comfortable conditions for foreign companies. Head of the Tatarstan Development Agency Taliya Minullina told the newspaper that by the end of 2018, the United States had become the largest investor in the Tatar economy. The turnover of the US and the region, despite the sanctions, is growing annually by an average of 8-10%.
Rodzianko told Izvestia that Russia is a large promising market far from exhausting its potential and that Tatarstan is one of the best examples of this potential realized. "Therefore, this region is naturally of interest to our companies. It would be nice to open a sales office in Kazan, and we are working on it. It is too early to say when it will open, but we are working on it," he told the newspaper.
According to Rodzianko, business relations between Moscow and Washington have not been interrupted, but they could have been better, had it not been for geopolitical pressure.
Moreover, experts interviewed by Izvestia believe that Moscow and Washington might finally see a positive trend in restoring diplomatic staff in their embassies. "It is difficult to say whether it will be possible to restore diplomatic personnel at the same level. However, it is clear that the current situation does not suit both sides. Mutual reductions affect not only ordinary citizens who cannot obtain a Russian or US visa, but also diplomats and ministries experience difficulties with employee replacements,” Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation for United States Studies at the Moscow State University Yuri Rogulev told the newspaper.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Moscow’s prospects to get more Middle East arms clients
While Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing for the October visit to Saudi Arabia, US President Donald Trump approved sending additional troops and weapons to the Saudis. However, according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, this did not prevent the mass attack of 18 drones and seven cruise missiles on the country's oil facilities. Experts told the newspaper Middle Eastern countries have been eyeing the Russian air and missile defense market for quite a while.
A military expert in the field of missile and air defense told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the Pentagon is likely to deploy new weapons to the Middle East. Apparently, the latest updated technology against cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as electronic warfare equipment will be delivered there. The expert noted that the Pentagon is studying and most likely already applying tactics of warfare against subtle strike UAVs, similar to those that attacked the Saudi oil facilities. "Russia certainly has effective means of fighting UAVs, judging by its military experience in Syria," the military specialist noted.
"Judging by the confident actions of the US leadership, Saudi officials still trust the Americans. But it should be noted that there are reasons why Arabian Peninsula states are turning to Russia," military expert Colonel Shamil Gareev told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. According to him, the countries of the Middle East have long been eyeing the Russian arms market for air defense and missile defense. "Qatar, for example, was interested in possible purchases of the S-300PMU2, the S-400 Triumph, the Buk-M2E, and the Tor-M2E systems. The contract for the supply of the S-400 air defense system with Riyadh was signed back in 2017. I think it will be implemented during Vladimir Putin’s visit to Riyadh," Gareev said.
Izvestia: Rome initiates rapprochement with Moscow via civil forums
In the near future, Italy is going to put forward a common platform for the existing formats of dialogue between the civil communities of four European countries and Russia, Co-President of the Russian-Italian Civil Society Dialogue Forum Ernesto Ferlenghi told Izvestia. The initiative includes creating a unified platform for coordinating and developing common ideas for four key EU players in various areas of cooperation with Russia. This idea resonates with the concept of the interaction of Sochi, Trianon and St. Petersburg dialogues, Secretary General of the Trianon Dialogue Alexander Orlov told Izvestia.
This summer, during Putin’s visit to Italy, the dialogue of countries via civil societies was rebooted, the newspaper wrote. According to Ferlenghi, business between European countries always has a place for direct competition, but in other areas - sports, youth, academic exchanges - it would be better to combine efforts.
"The synergy of dialogue can be useful and relevant. In no case do we aim to merge - each dialogue has its own specifics, its own national program, but we can have common subjects. Next year, for example, sustainable development may serve as the collective topic. It is being actively discussed now with both Austrians and Germans. And if the Italians want to join us, we certainly will not mind," Alexander Orlov told Izvestia.