Press review: Is the Belarus protest movement doomed to fail and NATO aims for the Arctic / News / News agency Inforos
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Press review: Is the Belarus protest movement doomed to fail and NATO aims for the Arctic

Press review: Is the Belarus protest movement doomed to fail and NATO aims for the Arctic

Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, September 9, prepared by TASS

Izvestia: Belarusian protest movement on the rocks due to lack of unified leadership

The fate of Maria Kolesnikova, a member of the Belarusian opposition's Coordination Council, remains unclear. She disappeared on September 7 and some media outlets say that an attempt was made to forcibly take her to Ukraine but she tore up her passport and was eventually taken to the Mozyrsky border committee. Another two members of the Coordination Council - Ivan Kravtsov and Anton Rodnenkov - who vanished after Kolesnikova's disappearance, said on Tuesday night that they were in Kiev, Izvestia writes.

Experts believe that even if all Coordination Council members leave Belarus, it won't affect the magnitude of the rallies.

"In fact, the Coordination Council’s presidium has broken up and can no longer influence the protests in Belarus. Still, its clout has always been minimal because the demonstrations’ sponsor is on Telegram," Belarusian political commentator Alexei Dzermant explained.

Political scientist Yevgeny Preigerman says that what happened to Kolesnikova will bolster the demonstrations. "But we have to admit that the Coordination Council has failed to become a body that would take on political leadership. The demonstrations are holding on to their grassroots nature," the expert pointed out.

According to him, in the beginning, the protests benefited from the lack of any unified leadership because the authorities had no chance to act in a traditional way, arresting the rallies’ leaders, like they did during previous political campaigns in 2010. However, with no political leadership, the protests can hardly be successful, the political scientist concluded.

"As a result, a vicious cycle has emerged. Grassroots demonstrations have engulfed the entire country and the authorities are having difficulties in suppressing them by force, yet the lack of leadership robs the protests of political future," Preigerman noted.

Media: Arctic zone in NATO’s crosshairs

NATO has announced the start of its drills in the Barents Sea. The Arctic exercise will involve ships from the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway, as well as Danish aircraft. The drills are said to be aimed at demonstrating NATO’s commitment to freedom of navigation in the region, Rossiyskaya Gazeta notes.

"They are stepping up their activities in the region, which is what our countries’ leadership has repeatedly pointed to. Do these activities cause us to be concerned? They certainly do, but our forces are in control of the region, taking advantage of NATO’s drills to practice ways to counter them," the newspaper quoted military expert Viktor Murakhovsky as saying.

Chairman of the Central Committee of All-Russian Trade Union of Military Servicemen Captain 1st Rank Oleg Shvedkov, in turn, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the military factor would continue to gain importance in the Arctic because economic activities in the region were growing. "Many countries wouldn’t mind participating in this, hence NATO’s missions along the Northern Sea Route and Russia’s active efforts to restore military infrastructure facilities and improve air defense systems in the Arctic zone," Svedkov pointed out.

Military expert Alexander Shirokorad said that "neither the United States nor NATO has abandoned the idea of internationalizing the Northern Sea Route," which threatens Russia’s security in the Arctic. However, in the expert’s view, the Northern Sea Route cannot become an international thoroughfare because some of its parts lie in Russia’s territorial waters.

"The Northern Sea Route is a historically established national passage. And there certainly is no place there for other countries’ navies," Svedkov stressed.

Media: India turns to Russia in border dispute with China

On September 9-10, Moscow is scheduled to host a conference of top diplomats from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The event’s agenda includes information security issues, and the war against terrorism and drug trafficking. However, the media’s focus is on a possible meeting between the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers. They are expected to outline ways to mitigate an ongoing border crisis, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

Director of the Center for Indian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies Tatyana Shaumyan told the paper that "the SCO has a positive role because it is a platform where senior officials can meet regardless of relations between their countries."

Russia is the only country that both parties trust and that can persuade them to scale back tensions, Rajan Kumar, an associate professor at the Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of International Studies, told Izvestia.

New Delhi and Beijing have completely different views on the border dispute, but Russia seems to have pushed the Indians and the Chinese to meet eventually, Vice President of India’s Observer Research Foundation Nandan Unnikrishnan pointed out.

As for China, it can seek to resolve the border issue out of a desire to create the image of a non-aggressive and cooperative international player in order to balance out any negative impression from Beijing's activities in the South China Sea and Hong Kong, said Associate Professor in Asian Security at the University of St. Andrews Chris Ogden.

In addition, according to the analyst, an improvement in relations with India and, consequently, boosting stability in the region would benefit China's Belt and Road initiative.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: White House determined to teach the Pentagon a lesson

A standoff between the White House and the US military leadership has clearly emerged. President Donald Trump has publicly accused the Pentagon of triggering armed conflicts for the benefit of the military industrial complex. One of the reasons behind the bad blood between Trump and the Pentagon is that the military is reluctant to work to the benefit of the president's election campaign, Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes.

According to Trump, American soldiers love him, but the top brass cannot stand him. The reason is that he is aiming to put an end to the policy of endless wars and has made it a priority to withdraw US troops from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, ongoing hot spots created by Democrats.

Director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for United States Studies at Moscow State University Yuri Rogulev believes that the conflict is rooted in the US president’s unique view of the world. "He’s been a businessman all of his life. This is why, for him, numerous wars that bring no tangible results first and foremost mean wasteful spending that needs to stop," he noted.

However, Rogulev warns against attempts to consider the conflict between Trump and the military’s top brass as proof of the president’s pacifist views.

"The thing to remember is that the Pentagon is Congress’ beloved child. Requests from the military are always implemented. It was like that before Trump and it has been like that under Trump. He makes no secret that he backs an increase in defense spending. Trump just wants the United States to ensure unmatched advantages over its potential rivals instead of wasting its capabilities on small-scale faraway conflicts," the expert concluded.

Izvestia: How long will the oil price plunge last

Brent crude prices may continue to fall to $35-37 per barrel, experts interviewed by Izvestia said after the commodity’s prices had dived below the $40 level for the first time since June 25. The downward trend stems from a lack of market demand and excessive global oil reserves, experts point out.

According to AMarkets Analytics Department Chief Artem Deyev, "after the lockdowns had been lifted in various countries during the summer, markets were overwhelmed with an optimistic belief that things would soon return to normal." And now, oil prices are just getting in line with reality as players realize that it will take the oil market a long time to recover.

Deputy Director General of the National Energy Institute Alexander Frolov, in turn, pointed out that the market is facing pressure because of huge, excessive oil reserves accumulated in the first six months of the year. OPEC+ countries managed to reduce them to some extent through joint efforts but it is not enough to ensure stable price growth.

Kalita-Finance analyst Dmitry Golubovsky says that another reason behind the September price drop is that oil was overpriced earlier based on concerns over the consequences of a hurricane hitting the Gulf of Mexico. Another possible reason is Saudi Arabia’s plans to give discounts to Asian customers, Head of BCS Broker information and analytical content Vasily Karpunin noted.

Oil prices may fall further to $35 per barrel and even below that, Deyev said, adding that it was hard to make accurate forecasts given the risk of a second coronavirus wave. Karpunin agrees that Brent prices can drop to $35-37 per barrel but in his view, oil prices may start to grow and surpass the $40 level at the end of the year.

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