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Top stories from the Russian press on Tuesday, March 17, prepared by TASS
Media: Coronavirus drives global economy into turbulence
Oil prices will keep dropping lower than $30 per barrel this spring but may rise to $40-45 in the second half of the year, said experts interviewed by Izvestia. However, if any worst-case scenario comes true, global GDP will not exceed one percent and oil prices will remain at the $25-35 level. At the same time, the US Federal Reserve’s move to cut interest rates to near zero makes it clear that the world is heading for a deep recession.
No one can predict at the moment, how long the trade war on the oil market and the coronavirus pandemic will last, as well as whether regulators will be able to keep the global financial system from slipping into a crisis, IC Freedom Finance Analyst Elena Belyayeva said.
The oil market collapse and the coronavirus pandemic will inevitably result in a wave of bankruptcies and nationalizations in many countries. Tour operators, air carriers and hotels are facing the biggest risks, Aton Leading Strategist Alexei Kaminsky pointed out. According to him, car manufacturers, caterers and oil and gas companies may also face difficulties.
Director of the BCS Broker sales office Vyacheslav Abramov, in turn, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that it was hard to tell what consequences the coronavirus would have and what its impact on the global economy would be. "No one thought that the virus would spread so fast and the death rate would be so high in a number of countries, making governments take tough measures, including quarantines and border closures," the expert explained.
"Losses cannot be assessed until the pandemic is past its peak. However, it is clear that it will take the world much time to plunge into a crisis and overcome it. Even if a vaccine is created and the coronavirus pandemic ends, the global economy will not recover before the end of the year," AMarkets Analytics Department Chief Artem Deyev emphasized.
Izvestia: Russia, Turkey fail to unblock key highway in Idlib
Moscow has given Ankara additional time to reach an agreement with the Syrian opposition and deal with terrorists who blocked the first Russian-Turkish patrol on March 15. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government will seek to ensure security along the M4 highway in Syria’s Idlib province, said experts interviewed by Izvestia. However, the terrorists situated there are unlikely to back down so easily.
Protests in areas not controlled by Damascus erupted a day before the launch of the patrol mission. On March 14, large groups of people blocked the M4 roadway that connects the cities of Aleppo and Latakia. Attempts were made to present the activity as a spontaneous civilian protest against Russia’s policy, which involved women and children. However, photos and videos from the site show quite a lot of armed men among the protesters.
Russia and Turkey held consultations and decided not to engage in a confrontation with the demonstrators. Russia’s Defense Ministry agreed to give the Turks more time to resolve the situation.
"Turkey can be expected to keep its promise," military expert Vladislav Shurygin said. "It is perfectly clear to Erdogan that the issue of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in Idlib will have to be addressed in any case. He will definitely prefer to deal with loyal units of the Syrian people’s army whom he can influence," he explained.
Russia earlier ensured the safe movement of Turkish patrol cars through Kurdish-populated areas in Syria’s north. It’s time for Ankara to return the favor and ensure security along the M4 highway, the expert added.
Turkey will fulfill its obligation to disarm militants in Idlib, provided that Russia abides by its own obligations, Turkish lawmaker Ozturk Yilmaz told the newspaper. "The launch of joint Russian-Turkish patrols along the M4 road in southern Idlib is a positive step but the most important thing right now is for both parties to keep their word," he pointed out.
Izvestia: Moscow seeks to cooperate with British parliament
Russia is ready to restore cooperation with British lawmakers but it is up to London to take the next step, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Andrei Kelin told Izvestia. However, in his view, parliamentary cooperation is unlikely to resume in the near future.
On March 3, Kelin met with the United Kingdom All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia. The meeting’s participants discussed the prospects of restoring ties between the two counties’ lawmakers. The Russian envoy described the meeting as constructive.
"I got the impression that they were interested in hearing Russia’s point of view on pressing bilateral and global issues," he noted. However, according to him, the position of most members of both houses of the British parliament hardly differs from the current Conservative government’s approach, which keeps political contacts suspended.
"Our position remains unchanged, we believe that we don’t need to relaunch parliamentary dialogue more than the British do," Kelin pointed out. "Undoubtedly, we are determined to give a meaningful response to all possible initiatives aimed at its gradual restoration but we have no wish to impose ourselves on them," the envoy added.
"British legislators are compelled to be guided by decisions that they made during an artificial and imaginary crisis [following the Salisbury incident]. In particular, the British delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union refused to officially communicate with their Russian counterparts," the ambassador noted. The mutual removal of sanctions on lawmakers could become an important step towards improving the political atmosphere between Russia and the UK, the Russian envoy emphasized.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: COVID-19 wins Democratic debate
The COVID-19 pandemic has interfered in America’s presidential election campaign, creating unusual conditions for a debate between Democratic hopefuls Joseph Biden and Bernie Sanders and influencing its result, as none of the candidates was declared the winner, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Both politicians made their best to show they took the epidemiological threat seriously. There was no audience in the CNN studio, while Sanders and Biden bumped elbows instead of shaking hands and stood two meters from each other.
During the debate, both Sanders and Biden repeated the ideas they had voiced before. As for the fight against the coronavirus, both called for carrying out mass testing, increasing the number of hospital beds and providing financial assistance to those affected by the virus. After the debate was over, CNN announced that none of the participants had been able to secure a victory. According to commentators, both Sanders and Biden performed poorly.
Senior Research Fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for US and Canadian Studies Vladimir Vasilyev pointed out that the left wing of the Democratic Party had reasons to expect that its voice would be heard once the party started outlining its program and choosing its candidate for vice president. "At the same time, it’s clear that the coronavirus is having more impact on the election campaign than the personalities and views of the candidates. If the pandemic seriously affects the economy, it will reduce [incumbent US President Donald] Trump’s chances of being re-elected. The country’s current economic growth is his electoral advantage. If he loses it, the Democrats’ odds will improve," the expert pointed out.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Air carriers caught in perfect storm
The suspension of a number of flights and the weakening ruble may lead to a crisis in the Russian aviation industry, Rossiyskaya Gazeta noted, citing experts.
On Monday, Russia imposed restrictions on flights to and from European Union countries, Switzerland and Norway. Similar measures were taken earlier in relation to China, South Korea and Iran. Air carriers are also suspending other international flights as countries issue entry bans.
Most of the expenditures by airline companies, which include technical maintenance, fuel and pilots’ salaries, are based on foreign currency rates. This is why the market may face "a perfect storm" this year, said Senior Expert at Higher School of Economics’ Institute for Transport and Transport Politics Fyodor Borisov.
"It is highly likely that we will see Russian airlines go bankrupt in the third quarter of the year. Unfortunately, there have already been precedents in Europe," head of AviaPort analytical department Oleg Panteleyev noted.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Central Bank has announced a package of measures aimed at easing regulations for banks in a bid to help air carriers and the tourism industry pull through the coronavirus pandemic with minimum losses. It will be now easier for banks to modify the loans of transportation and tourist companies affected by the coronavirus.
However, experts are confident that once these tough times are over, the aviation industry will continue to grow, though it will take a long time for the demand to recover.