Press review: Chirac’s legacy and the IMF’s recommendation on Ukrainian aid / News / News agency Inforos
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Press review: Chirac’s legacy and the IMF’s recommendation on Ukrainian aid

Press review: Chirac’s legacy and the IMF’s recommendation on Ukrainian aid

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, September 27, prepared by TASS

Izvestia: Chirac's passing reminds Russia of closer times with France

Former French President Jacques Chirac, one of the most prominent politicians of the 20th century, has died at the age of 86. He had a long and controversial political career but, in spite of everything, he remained among the most popular French presidents. He was also loved in Russia, Izvestia wrote.

"He was a firm believer in Charles de Gaulle’s idea about France’s special role on the global stage and used it to boost the French people’s national pride. Jacques Chirac stood against the concept of a unipolar world that the United States promoted at the time," said Professor of the Foreign Relations and Foreign Policy Department at Moscow State Institute of International Relations Yevgenia Obichkina.

According to former Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov, who knew the late French leader well, a neighbor of young Jacques Chirac was a Russian immigrant who introduced him to Russian culture, language and literature. "This early introduction to Russia left an imprint on his entire life, he indeed was a staunch friend of our country and had truly friendly relations with Vladimir Putin," the diplomat pointed out.

Chirac was the last unconditional leader of France, Federation Council Alexei Pushkov emphasized. "He had a particularly wise and balanced approach to foreign policy," the senator noted. "He viewed NATO’s expansion to the east with caution and was skeptical about Russophobic outbursts in eastern European countries," he added. According to Pushkov, Chirac "considered Russia to be an important part of global politics, but at the same time, he maintained good relations with the United States and played a leading role in the European Union."

Russian President Vladimir Putin was among those who expressed condolences over the death of the former French leader. He emphasized that Russia would always remember Chirac’s great personal contribution to boosting friendly relations between the two countries.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Nord Stream 2 will cost Ukraine millions of dollars

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation has left Ukraine without confirming a new aid program. Sources in Kiev say the mission will recommend the IMF refrain from signing another credit program with Ukraine due to a number of issues, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

Meanwhile, Kiev needs additional aid now more than ever. Particularly because Ukraine may lose millions of dollars in revenues from the looming Russian gas transit deadlock. Economists from the Institute of International Finance (IIF) believe that Russia’s Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream gas pipeline projects will radically change gas transit patterns. These new pipelines will allow Russia’s Gazprom to bypass Ukraine’s gas transit system when delivering gas to customers in Western Europe, the experts said, noting that the current gas transit contract is going to expire in December. If the contract fails to be extended, a sharp decline in gas transit revenues will increase Kiev’s need for external funding, the experts explained.

According to Alexander Pakhomov, Director of the Law and Mediation Fund for the Fuel and Energy Sector, "sanctions won’t be able to stop the construction of Nord Stream 2 simply because most of the work is practically finished, yet a ban on the use of the already constructed infrastructure, in which European companies have invested, is very likely to spark some serious backlash from Germany, the main beneficiary of the Nord Stream 2 construction," he explained. However, unlike western analysts, the Russian expert has doubts that the new gas pipeline will fully offset the loss of Ukrainian gas transit. "The Ukrainian route is being utilized for deliveries of gas to large countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Croatia. The Czech Republic has a chance to offset the loss of gas transported via Ukraine by purchasing gas delivered through the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines via Germany, but Hungary has no such opportunity," Pakhomov pointed out.

Izvestia: Russia seeks to diversify defense industry

Russia’s State Defense Order has not been disrupted by sanctions or the interrupted delivery of components from NATO states, the European Union and Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told President Vladimir Putin. According to him, the defense industry’s diversification efforts are going well. Experts interviewed by Izvestia point out that the military industrial complex’s competitiveness has increased in recent years.

First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Defense Committee Alexander Sherin told the newspaper that over the past several years, Russia’s defense industry had not only managed to iron out any problems caused by the sanctions but also strengthened its position on the global arms market. "At first, it came as a great shock. However, measures were taken that made it possible to alter the situation. Today, our defense products are competitive on the global market. In 2018, we came in second place, and our contract portfolio is worth over $14.5 bln," the lawmaker pointed out.

Experts are also positive about the defense industry’s diversification rates. However, according to them, the main task is to find solutions that would be in demand on the civilian market. "It is one thing when you are implementing the State Defense Order and know for sure how many pieces of equipment the military will buy from you and how much it will pay. But producing goods for an open market is a whole different ballgame," Director of the Emerging Technologies and Global Security Project at the PIR Center Vadim Kozyulin explained. According to him, many defense contracts take a lot of time to fulfill. "This is impossible on the civilian market, where the situation and demand are constantly changing. Under these circumstances, it is important to find the right niche and produce high-tech and competitive goods," the expert emphasized. It is no coincidence therefore that the diversification process covers areas such as healthcare, transport and city infrastructure development projects, Kozyulin said.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Pakistani PM’s ‘war on terror’ revelations may impact his visit to Russia

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has stated, while in New York, that the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had trained Al-Qaeda militants, maintained ties with them after 2001, and had probably known about where Osama bin Laden was hiding. Khan expected that his revelations would appeal to the United Nations and the US, but it actually may anger the generals who hold key positions in Pakistan’s government, and negatively affect his future visit to Russia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta points out.

According to Imran Khan, Islamabad made a mistake when it joined the Americans seeking to punish bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks. It made Pakistan sacrifice the lives of 60,000 of its people, who died in the war on terror, he said. The prime minister noted that Osama bin Laden had managed to evade capture until 2006 thanks to the support of Pakistan’s military. Khan added that the Pakistani army and the ISI had trained Al-Qaeda militants in Afghanistan and always maintained ties with them. However, he explained later that those ties apparently existed at a lower level and top military brass was unlikely to have known bin Laden’s place of refuge.

Senior Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies Natalya Zamarayeva told the newspaper that other Pakistani officials had earlier acknowledged the military’s links to Al-Qaeda militants active in Afghanistan. However, this hasn’t diminished the army’s influence. Imran Khan has suddenly brought up the subject of Pakistani military support for the Afghan mujahideen who fought against the Soviet Union, the expert added, stressing that it had been a bad chapter in relations between Moscow and Islamabad. A reminder will hardly contribute to the success of the Pakistani prime minister’s visit to Russia, on which the two countries agreed to over the summer, Zamarayeva said.

Kommersant: Google, Facebook snub Russian commission on foreign interference

Google and Facebook, accused by Russia of meddling in its domestic politics on the day of the recent election, won’t send their officials to Friday’s meeting of the Russian State Duma Commission on Foreign Interference, a source in the Duma Committee on Security and Corruption Control told Kommersant. However, signals keep coming in that indicate a possibility for dialogue, said head of the Federation Council’s (upper house) Temporary Commission for the Protection of State Sovereignty and Prevention of Interference in Russia's Internal Affairs Andrei Klimov.

In August 2019, Russia’s media watchdog demanded that Google prevent the spread of videos advertising unauthorized protest rallies on YouTube. The watchdog issued a statement later saying that despite all the warnings, Google, YouTube and Facebook had nonetheless distributed political advertisements on Election Day, September 8, which was tantamount to "meddling in Russia’s sovereign affairs." Google said in response that it supported responsible political advertising that should comply with the country’s laws. Facebook opted to put responsibility on advertisers.

Klimov has no doubt that Russian lawmakers will pass amendments imposing huge fines on companies such as Facebook and Google for "interfering in Russia’s affairs."

The media watchdog’s spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky, in turn, told Kommersant that as far as fines for violating Russian laws went, Google was more disciplined. Since the company came to Russia, it has been fined twice and paid both fines. The first fine of 500,000 rubles ($7,800) was for Google’s refusal to join Russia’s Federal State Information System containing a list of banned websites. The second time, the company faced a 700,000 ruble ($10,900) fine for its random filtering of banned information. According to Ampelonsky, Facebook has so far been fined only 3,000 rubles ($47) for refusing to localize the database of its Russian users and still hasn’t paid the fine.

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