Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, September 13, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: Reasons behind Kiev’s timeout in tearing up treaties with Moscow
Ukraine has paused the process of deep-sixing relations with Russia. Kiev has ceased sending Moscow notices of termination of bilateral agreements. Under the Pyotr Poroshenko regime, the Ukrainians threatened to cancel 40 intergovernmental treaties, but in 2019 just two documents were suspended. Given the circumstances, Izvestia grasps the prospects for reconciliation between the two countries. However, according to the paper, right now the Russian Foreign Ministry is not drawing any far-reaching conclusions.
The bilateral legal framework between Kiev and Moscow contains about 400 documents. The denunciation process began in 2014 after the outbreak of the Donbass conflict and the reunification of Crimea with Russia. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, 49 agreements have terminated in 2018. In 2019, Kiev deep-sixed two agreements.
According to the newspaper, this timeout may be a result of the change of power in Kiev. Another possible reason might be a foreign policy adjustment. During the election campaign, Vladimir Zelensky promised to make Ukraine's social and economic development a priority, which requires restoring economic ties with Russia, and normalizing political and diplomatic relations, Izvestia wrote.
Director of the Institute for Global Strategies Vadim Karasev told Izvestia that many agreements are beneficial for Ukraine. "For example, after last year’s confrontation in the Kerch Strait, many demanded to break the agreement on the use of the Sea of Azov. However, Kiev is far more in need of it. Without it, Russia would completely dominate the water zone, then it [Russia] may not even have to take the Ukrainian Navy into account at all. As a result, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry refused the denunciation," the expert said.
For now, Moscow and Kiev are taking cautious steps. The real diplomatic thaw however can begin only on one condition: if Kiev begins to implement the Minsk agreements, Izvestia wrote.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Netanyahu pursues Putin's assistance in elections
The vital backdrop to the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Sochi on September 12 was Washington’s readiness to ease sanctions on Iran. International players maintaining a tough approach to the Iranian problem is the key to Netanyahu’s political longevity, who is trying to convince his partners of the futility of ties with Tehran. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the success of these persuasive initiatives partly allows him not to lose political capital. So for the Israeli PM in this situation, Russia is a vital election campaign tool.
The topic of Iran topped the negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, the newspaper wrote. Netanyahu said before that the "common goal" of Russia and Israel is "the withdrawal of Iranian troops from Syria."
“The Israeli prime minister is trying to overcome a domestic political crisis, by using a trump card of foreign policy ties and demonstrating that he is really fighting an existential adversary – Iran - through its strikes on its forces in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and trying to convince Russia of the erroneous tactical partnership with Iran in Syria,”
Anton Mardasov, an expert at the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs told the newspaper. "On the one hand, for Moscow, Tehran is a player with whom it interacts in various regions and thanks to [Iran] it can emphasize its significance and the role of a balanced peacemaker, for example, in the Persian Gulf. On the other, it is a difficult partner both in dialogue on nuclear safety and in normalizing the situation in Syria," he added.
According to the expert, Iranian influence in Syria, relying on locals - commanders of personnel formations and militias introduced into the army, as well as businessmen - does not contribute to any settlement.
"Damascus takes advantage of the situation, tries to play off the contradictions between Iran and Russia, often deliberately emphasizing them and hiding behind them in intra-elite conflicts in the distribution of resources," Mardasov said. "At the same time, this game can be useful for Russia from the point of view of ousting pro-Iranian figures in the intra-elite struggle in Syria," he added.
The analyst believes that pro-Iranian forces in neighboring Iraq also allow Moscow to strengthen its influence. "Russia is interested in such a situation, where it can publicly try out the role of a moderator in the conflict, and between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah," Mardasov concluded.
Izvestia: Palestinians ask Russia to sway Israel into abandoning West Bank annexation plan
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry on September 11 sent a letter to the Russian Foreign Ministry asking it to persuade Israel over Netanyahu’s campaign promise to annex part of the West Bank, Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal told Izvestia.
According to the diplomat, on September 11, a letter was sent to the Russian Foreign Ministry with a request to influence Israel, since Russia is one of the few countries that maintain good relations with all the players in the region. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced its adherence to the UN resolutions on the same day and expressed concern, he added.
Palestine believes that Russia can influence Israel, the envoy said. In Israel, as well as around the world, there is growing awareness that such statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are "gunpowder" for a new religious war in the region, the ambassador added. He noted that, according to UN resolutions, the northern part of the Jordan Valley belongs to Palestine, and ignoring the decisions of the global organization would be a gross violation of international law.
He emphasized that despite US support of Israel, over 140 countries side with the Palestinians.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Washington moves F-35s closer to Russia’s borders
The US State Department has greenlighted a project to sell Warsaw 32 F-35 fighter bombers. Poland, which borders Russia, will receive a regiment of fifth-generation aircraft much earlier than similar Su-57s will become part of the Russian Armed Forces, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. The Su-57 is just getting ready for mass production and did not enter the army. The supply process was delayed to 2028.
"Most likely Poland will receive invisible aircraft on lease," military expert Colonel Shamil Gareev told the newspaper. "Then they gradually pay for them. Or maybe not - the US has its own interests in Eastern Europe and other arrangements in the defense sector," he added. The military expert noted that in May 2019, the US and Polish heads of state signed a joint declaration on defense cooperation. According to the document, Washington intends to deploy additional troops to Poland, a squadron of MQ-9 reconnaissance drones, as well as beef up infrastructure, including aviation.
A longtime military aviation guru from the Defense Ministry told the newspaper that the United States, relying on its allies, is creating new air bases around the perimeter of Russia’s borders in order to place F-35s, capable of carrying nuclear munitions. Such bases may appear primarily in Poland and Norway, and possibly in Romania, that is, near the borders of the Russian Federation.
According to the expert, in general, the F-35 fighter plays the leading role in a new US Military plan of action on foreign territory. The guru noted that the F-35s should not be underestimated, since it went through combat testing in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Kommersant: Cryptocurrency investors could be unmasked
The Association of Banks of Russia has laid out a concept for circulating decentralized cryptocurrencies, proposing to strip away the anonymity of investors in these assets, Kommersant wrote. Experts assess the measure as premature and difficult to implement. To begin with, they offer to deal with the most basic regulation, for example, to determine the details of any cryptocurrency.
The concept states, in particular, that these assets can be used in foreclosure in the framework of enforcement proceedings, bankruptcy or taxation. The model presume that, at the request of the creditor, market agents will be able to provide services for identifying owners of digital assets, the Association’s Vice President Anatoly Kozlachkov said.
According to him, intelligence services have programs that make it possible to determine the owner of the cryptocurrency. "We suggest making such programs legal so that such data can become evidence in court," he explained. Sources with Kommersant confirmed that such programs exist, but "no more than 1% of the investors can be identified using them, since it is rare that a user wants to speak non-anonymously.
"The association’s proposal to establish digital wallet owners is premature. It makes no sense to try to pinpoint the owner of what is not yet recognized as an object of ownership," Forward Legal attorney Danila Bukharin told the newspaper.