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- Press review: Russia's plans for coronavirus vaccine and why Tikhanovskaya fled Belarus
- Press review: Will protests in Belarus continue and when will Russian oil industry recover
Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, October 9, prepared by TASS
Media: Trump is leaving allies behind
Turkey has carried out airstrikes on Kurdish positions in northern Syria and announced its readiness to conduct a ground operation to create a safety zone on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. All of this became possible after US President Donald Trump had stated that Washington had no more obligations to Kurds and ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Syria. According to experts interviewed by Kommersant, Russia could now reap significant political benefits, as Washington has made it clear to its allies that it is dangerous to rely on the US.
Donald Trump is fulfilling his old promise to bring US troops home, while Turkey's president Erdogan plans to make sure there are no ties between Syrian and Turkish Kurds, former EU Ambassador to Turkey Marc Pierini pointed out. According to him, the increasing erosion of trust between Turkey and other NATO countries is another factor that will play into the Kremlin’s hands.
Trump’s actions will incite fear among US allies in the region, who will now have to consider to what extent they can rely on the United States, said Hugh Miles, an author with ArabDigest.org. In this situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin looks like someone to really rely on, the expert added.
Senior Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for US and Canadian Studies Vladimir Vasilyev, in turn, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that Trump had actually approved Turkey’s operation in Syria specifically to improve relations with Erdogan and ensure additional benefits for the US economy. The expert believes that Trump was highly impressed by an increase in arms trade between Moscow and Ankara and by Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile systems in particular.
Izvestia: Relocating UNGA committees from US looks doable
Relocating some of the United Nations General Assembly’s committees from New York looks doable but it is up to the General Assembly to make a decision, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin told Izvestia.
"There are some appropriate locations, including the United Nations’ offices in Geneva and Vienna. However, it should be the UN General Assembly’s decision. We believe that such a move could be considered and made," Vershinin said.
The senior diplomat emphasized that it was not the first time that the US "has flouted its obligations under the UN Charter and the Agreement regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations." "I would like to point out that this issue did not spring up this year, we have been bringing it up for years since 2004, within the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, because such incidents have happened before," Vershinin said.
According to him, there is a need to thoroughly consider initiatives to relocate the UN headquarters from New York City. "There is a mechanism that came to be after years of development. If the member states show their will, everything could be done, but these decisions should be carefully considered," the Russian deputy foreign minister noted.
Vershinin also stressed that Moscow would take a stricter stance on visa applications from the US following Washington's failure to issue visas to several members of Russia’s delegation to the UN General Assembly. When asked about a potential tit-for-tat response, the deputy foreign minister said that since the matter concerned visas to attend UN events, there could be no tit-for-tat response in that particular case.
Kommersant: Reach for the sky treaty
Media reports on October 8 suggested that the United States may pull out of the Treaty on Open Skies, which allows its members to perform observation flights over each other’s territory. Experts warn that such a move will make the European security situation even more unstable and less predictable, Kommersant notes.
Former US Assistant Secretary of Defense Andrew Weber told the newspaper that the Trump administration was highly likely to withdraw from the Treaty, dealing another blow to strategic stability and arms control. According to Weber, after leaving the Treaty on Open Skies, the US will withdraw its signature from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and will also refuse to extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that is expiring in 2021.
"In fact, this is the train of thought that Trump and his team members have, as they seek to pull out of all agreements that impose obligations and bind the US," Moscow Carnegie Center Director Dmitry Trenin explained. The expert added that the Treaty on Open Skies could continue to operate without the US, but it would largely lose its attractiveness for other countries, eventually proving ineffective. "The overall situation will become more unstable and less predictable. However, I don’t foresee a disaster," Trenin pointed out.
According to retired Lieutenant General Yevgeny Buzhinsky, an expert at the PIR Center, if the US withdraws from the Treaty on Open Skies, its NATO allies will continue to ask for quotas to conduct flights over Russia, providing Washington with the information they get. At the same time, Russian inspectors won’t be able to perform flights over the US. However, Buzhinksy believes that Moscow should refrain from joining activities to destroy the Treaty. "We position ourselves as well-balanced and serious-minded people, while the United States has actually brought down the arms control system and is about to start dismantling trust-building measures. We will keep criticizing Washington," the expert emphasized.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: China is making its way to the Persian Gulf
Talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan are underway in Beijing. As Pakistan is facing an economic crisis, it has no option but to ask China for more investment and assistance. In return for that, the Chinese Navy will get the right to use Pakistan’s sea ports, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Pakistan and China are trying to resolve a number of issues during the Beijing talks. Senior Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies Natalya Zamarayeva told the newspaper that "Pakistan is a strategically important partner for China." "Beijing is building a road through Pakistan that will connect China’s northwestern Xinjiang region and the Persian Gulf. China is also setting up a military base in the Indian Ocean's port of Gwadar. As for Pakistan, it is going though an economic downturn and lacks the currency to repay foreign debts. The country’s authorities have come to the conclusion that they can’t rely on the United States’ economic assistance so they are betting on China, which can revive the country’s economy by increasing investment in the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project," the expert explained.
This is a crucial project within China’s One Belt One Road initiative. However, China is disappointed at how Pakistani agencies that receive money from Beijing fail to pay on time or don’t pay at all. China did not provide financial assistance to Pakistan in 2018 and in the spring of 2019, so Islamabad had to turn to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
"In fact, China has put Pakistan in a position of economic dependence, all but bringing it to its knees. Under these circumstances, Pakistan’s authorities were forced to offer unprecedented tax exemptions to Chinese companies. The focus of the Beijing talks is on how to enhance cooperation," Zamarayeva emphasized.
RBC: Russia, Turkey to promote trade in national currencies
Russia and Turkey have inked an intergovernmental agreement on mutual payments in the Turkish lira and the Russian ruble. The document is paving the way for a gradual switch to trade in local currencies, RBC writes.
This is Moscow’s second agreement on the use of local currencies, following the one made with China in June 2019, a spokesperson for the Russian Finance Ministry told the newspaper. The spokesperson added that in 2018, the share of the ruble and the lira in bilateral trade stood at 22%. However, the dollar’s share still remained high at 65%, followed by the euro with 12.9%.
Meanwhile, experts doubt that Russia and Turkey will succeed in completely switching to the use of local currencies. According to former Senior Adviser to the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Brian O’Toole, the Turkish currency is very much dependent on the dollar so the US currency will hardly be ditched.
Global Chief Economist at Renaissance Capital Charlie Robertson, in turn, pointed to the high volatility of the Turkish lira, which, in his words, means that Moscow and Ankara will most likely expand ruble payments. However, the expert believes that most companies will prefer the euro.
Following the agreement between Moscow and Ankara, Russian investors will perhaps buy more lira assets and vice versa, Robertson added.