Press review: Who and what’s behind the Berlin murder intrigue and how NATO sees Russia / News / News agency Inforos
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Press review: Who and what’s behind the Berlin murder intrigue and how NATO sees Russia

Press review: Who and what’s behind the Berlin murder intrigue and how NATO sees Russia

Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, December 12, prepared by TASS

Izvestia: NATO puts ‘Russian threat’ on par with terrorism

After the London summit on December 3-4, the leaders of NATO member countries named a list of threats to Euro-Atlantic security. Despite statements by the leaders of France and the United States, who called for a dialogue with Moscow, members of the alliance unanimously included Russia as a threat, Izvestia wrote. Moreover, the organization itself is ready to build constructive relations with Moscow only "when Russia makes it possible." However, there is nothing shocking about this. According to experts interviewed by the newspaper, despite objective differences with Russia, the "Russian threat" was declared more out of habit.

Visiting scholar at Oxford University and Valdai Club expert Galip Dalay told Izvestia that the main crisis within the organization lies in the fact that its participants have fundamentally different perceptions of threats. The United States considers China to be the main challenge, whereas France prioritizes the fight against terrorism. At this summit in particular, another line of division was highlighted. It turned out that the organization looked very differently at how to interact with Russia, the newspaper wrote. While Eastern European countries are asking NATO allies to strengthen their borders, the leading alliance members are mulling over a dialogue with Moscow.

"For NATO, Moscow is a more understandable and obvious adversary than the abstract terrorist threat, in the end, the alliance was created to deter the Soviet Union, and not to fight terrorists," Director of Programs at the Russian International Affairs Council Ivan Timofeev told Izvestia.

One of the factors that affected NATO’s relations with Russia was the INF Treaty, the newspaper wrote. According to President Donald Trump, the US would like to conclude a new agreement that would include Russia, China and some other countries. However, the expert community has serious doubts about the prospects of a multilateral analogue to the INF. MGIMO expert Viktor Mizin told Izvestia that based on Beijing’s position, it is simply impossible for China to join a similar agreement.

Izvestia: Murder mystery sparks diplomatic spat between Berlin and Moscow

In the run-up to the Normandy Quartet summit, an unexpected espionage scandal broke out between Moscow and Berlin. Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that there was evidence of Moscow’s involvement in the murder of a Georgian citizen in the German capital. The Russian Foreign Ministry promised a reciprocal response to the spat, Izvestia wrote. Meanwhile, German politicians and experts interviewed by the newspaper suspect that the scandal most likely could not have surfaced without Washington’s hand.

Berlin City Council Representative from AdG Gunnar Lindemann told Izvestia the expulsion of Russian diplomats certainly would not help the upcoming Normandy Four summit. He also noted that there is no evidence that the Russian government is responsible for the murder of the Georgian citizen in Berlin.

The scandal erupting just a few days before the start of the Normandy Quartet summit along with news about the imminent launch of Nord Stream-2 is hardly a coincidence, the newspaper wrote. "Even if Washington does not have any obvious reasons to throw a monkey wrench into the Normandy summit, the American side not only did not hide its antagonism towards Nord Stream - 2, but, on the contrary, it emphasized it in every possible way," Izvestia wrote.

In a notable comparison, German political scientist Alexander Rahr told the newspaper that the Skripal poisoning saga surfaced just before the World Cup in Russia. So with that in mind, it does raise eyebrows given the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Berlin over the murder of the Georgian citizen, along with US statements about Nord Stream 2 and the NATO anniversary summit, where Russia was called a "threat". However, the political commentator also suggested that Berlin is unlikely to further aggravate relations with Russia, as it seems unlikely that Germany would be interested in engaging in the sanctions mechanism, especially along the lines of the EU.

Kommersant: Russia rejects West’s new proposals for arms control

Arms control will be one of the topics on the agenda at the opening of the 26th OSCE Ministerial Council in Bratislava. Germany expects to discuss its proposed package of confidence and security measures in the military sphere. Russia, which generally supports initiatives in the field of arms control, has disagreed with German proposals, Kommersant wrote.

Germany suggests updating the Vienna Document on Confidence and Security Building Measures, believing that the current version is obsolete due to the Ukraine conflict and the confrontation between the West and Russia. To date, the Vienna Document was the most effective conventional arms control mechanism in Europe, Kommersant wrote, since things are much worse with other tools. For example, the United States is threatening to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, while Russia suspended its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).

According to a Kommersant source close to the German Foreign Ministry, initially Berlin discussed these proposals with a "quintet" of NATO countries (Great Britain, Italy, the US, France, Germany). That said, Berlin would like the Vienna Document to be updated as early as next year.

However, Russia is skeptical about this proposal. Moscow is convinced that cosmetic changes to the agreements will not salvage the situation, but, on the contrary, they would "legitimize" the current deplorable state of affairs in writing, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told Kommersant. According to him, Moscow sees a contradiction in the fact that, on the one hand, NATO countries are intensifying "openly unfriendly" military activities near the borders of Russia, and on the other, offering additional trust-building measures within the OSCE. "It seems as if by discussing some new trust-building measures, we must legitimize the new reality that NATO is creating. This is not serious," he said.

Grushko added that looking at the history of arms control in Europe, "real success was created when everyone really believed that they were creating a new security architecture."

Vedomosti: OPEC, Russia to meet in Vienna on new oil output cuts

New talks on reducing oil production will take place on December 5-6 in Vienna at a meeting of countries that signed an agreement three years ago to curtail oil production, which include all OPEC members and 10 non-members, including Russia. The deal expires at the end of March 2020, but it can be extended until the end of 2020 at the venue. According to Vedomosti, shale oil production continues to grow, albeit at a slower rate, and demand may decelerate due to a general slowdown in the global economy. Under these conditions, the deal’s players are likely to prolong the current limits.

The International Energy Agency recently warned of oil overproduction globally. Any increase in production would be primarily noticeable in countries outside OPEC. In 2020, the world may face a frightening overabundance of raw materials, the agency cautioned.

Senior Director at Fitch Dmitry Marinchenko told Vedomosti that he believed that extending the agreement until the end of 2020 seems would be a more likely scenario. "But agreeing to reduce quotas can be more difficult," he said. Perhaps, the participants in the Vienna conference will require the parties to the agreement to be more diligent in fulfilling the conditions, according to analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Saudi Arabia is interested in rising oil prices. The Kingdom wants additional cuts to ensure oil prices hover between $60-70 per barrel, Vedomosti wrote. Meanwhile, Russia has not yet announced its position.

Kommersant: Analysts expect growth of Russia’s IT market

Russia’s cloud services market in 2019 will grow by 25% and reach 86 bln rubles ($1.34 bln), iKS-Consulting forecasted in its report. According to experts, an additional increase will come thanks to the law on fines for violations of storage of personal data. Over the next four years, the market will grow more slowly, but will remain attractive, Kommersant wrote.

The Russian cloud services market accounts for only 0.2% of the global market, Kommersant wrote. Meanwhile, this market is likely to be consolidated by three or four leaders, which in monetary terms will occupy 80% of the market, Cloud Solutions Director of Russian Public Cloud Business Unit at Huawei Technologies Artur Pyarn told the newspaper.

The authorities’ attempts to ban the Telegram messenger service played into the hands of domestic cloud services, experts told the newspaper. "Discussions and the adoption of the law on a sovereign Russian Internet also added fuel to the fire, this resulted in a massive shift of users to Russian services as noted in 2018," Director for cloud and digital transformation consultancy at J'son&Partners Alexander Gerasimov told Kommersant.

In the coming year, the market will have another source of growth: the law on fines for violating Russian data storage in the range of 1 mln - 18 mln rubles ($15,660-281,881) for legal entities. This requirement will be able to provide 3-5% growth, Leading Consultant at iKS-Consulting Stanislav Mirin told the newspaper.

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