Press review: Pashinyan under fire over peace deal and Trump offered chance at New START / News / News agency Inforos
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Press review: Pashinyan under fire over peace deal and Trump offered chance at New START

Press review: Pashinyan under fire over peace deal and Trump offered chance at New START

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

Izvestia: Protesters in Armenia call for PM to step down

After the peace deal between Yerevan and Baku was inked, Armenia plunged into deep shock. Protests are raging in Yerevan, and the opposition has demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, after the ceasefire’s conditions were perceived by the Armenian public as a defeat and a blow to their national pride. However, not everyone is inclined to blame him. Many believe that this outcome of the conflict with Azerbaijan was a foregone conclusion and was only a matter of time. The problem was the enemy's military and technical superiority. Meanwhile, sources in Nagorno-Karabakh told Izvestia, the unrecognized republic is beginning to return to a peaceful life.

According to Director of the Caucasus Institute in Yerevan Alexander Iskandaryan, the political situation in the country is tense, but its conclusion is difficult to predict at the moment. According to him, Armenia now faces a rebellion, not a political process. "Of course, there is massive frustration now. However, one must understand the following: indeed, there were expectations and many expectations were generally unattainable. There are people who support Pashinyan no matter what happened. There are those who are disappointed. And there are those who did not accept the revolution of 2018 at all. These are mainly representatives of the former regime. And they are active now," Iskandaryan told Izvestia.

Adviser to Nagorno-Karabakh President David Babayan told the newspaper, Russian peacekeepers continue to flow into Karabakh and at the same time the situation is beginning to calm down. Meanwhile, people believe that the peacekeeping contingent should have been introduced earlier, but the transfer of the grouping to the region has now "made it possible to preserve at least part of Artsakh."

Meanwhile, there are still questions about how Nagorno-Karabakh will function, what the political settlement of the conflict and the status of Nagorno-Karabakh will be like. The authorities of the unrecognized republic are trying in every possible way to show that Nagorno-Karabakh will remain. President Arayik Harutyunyan has already called on refugees to return home. However, Azerbaijan states that a Baku-led administration will soon be appointed to the region. Thus, Nagorno-Karabakh’s future remains unclear.

Kommersant: Moscow giving Trump opportunity to beat Biden in extending New START

Less than three months are left until the key Russian-American treaty on strategic offensive arms expires, but its fate is still unclear. According to Kommersant, Russia is faced with a dilemma, try and negotiate an extension with current US President Donald Trump, who has not conceded the election race, or wait for Joe Biden, who declared victory, and whose views on extending the treaty coincide with Russia? But then the parties will have to act under time pressure. According to the newspaper, Moscow is betting on the first option for now.

A source in Russia's state structures told Kommersant that contacts with Washington on this topic did not stop amid the elections. In theory, the parties can indeed still agree on a deal, given that they have held several intensive rounds of negotiations over the past six months. However, the issue was still not resolved before the presidential elections in the United States, despite the fact that Moscow made two serious concessions compared to its original negotiating position.

The second option, according to the newspaper, is to wait until January 20, when with a high degree of probability Joe Biden will officially become President of the United States. During the election campaign, he promised to extend the New START Treaty without preconditions. This is expected, since the pact was signed in 2010 under the previous US presidential administration of Barack Obama, when Joe Biden was Vice President, but in this scenario, Moscow and Washington will face a severe time pressure: they have only 16 days to complete all the formalities.

Moscow could have already started preparations with Biden’s transition team, Kommersant writes. But Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that there are no contacts with representatives of the Democratic candidate's team and that they are not planned yet. Thus, so far, Moscow is clearly betting on option number one, according to the newspaper, giving the current administration a chance to deprive the victorious rival of its first foreign policy achievement.

Izvestia: US policy towards Nord Stream 2 unlikely to change after elections

It is up to governments and the European Commission to protect European companies from illegal extraterritorial sanctions, Nord Stream 2 AG told Izvestia answering a question about US measures against the Russian-German project Nord Stream 2. On November 11, it was announced that Washington will widen punitive measures against the gas pipeline, whose implementation has already been suspended due to sanctions. According to experts, with the likelihood of Biden taking the White House reins, the US would not stop putting pressure on the project. There is a bipartisan consensus in the country that the pipeline should not operate.

On November 11, the US Congress agreed on new sanctions against Nord Stream 2. The company Nord Stream 2 AG, in charge of the project, told Izvestia that it intends to study the US initiative. "The current sanctions law and the PEESCA bill, if introduced, will directly or indirectly affect over 120 companies from more than 12 European countries. Nord Stream 2 AG, like the companies supporting the project, is confident that the earliest possible commissioning of the gas pipeline meets the interests of European consumers, the interests of energy security and the economic competitiveness of Europe, and also contributes to the fulfillment of the EU's obligations to preserve the climate," the company stressed.

The new restrictions, like other similar measures, ban US individuals and legal entities from working with companies that are on the sanctions list. But this will not stop the launch of Nord Stream 2 since far too many resources have already been invested into it, another thing is that it will be more expensive, Program Director of the Russian International Affairs Council and the Valdai Club Ivan Timofeev told Izvestia.

The possible advent of Democrat Joe Biden to the presidency is likely to improve US relations with the European Union. However, according to experts, this will not affect the pipeline: both Republicans and Democrats in Washington support sanctions against it.

Kommersant: Likelihood for Donbass peace deal remains elusive

Negotiations among the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbass on Wednesday once again failed to produce any notable results. The parties couldn’t agree on any of the options for the "road map" to achieve peace in the region, presented by Ukraine and the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic.

However, they promised to submit an "aggregate" document with the positions of both sides to the OSCE soon, Kommersant writes.

Members of the Trilateral Contact Group were unable to approve either the version prepared by Kiev, or the draft document proposed back in October by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, the newspaper writes. The only thing that both sides agreed with was that future agreements should not contradict the Minsk agreements. "The contact group fixed that the 'road map' must comply with the Minsk agreements, representative of the Lugansk People's Republic Rodion Miroshnik in the Contact Group’s political division told Kommersant.

The meeting’s participants mostly discussed Ukraine’s plan. The Kremlin reiterated that Kiev’s draft road map was fundamentally at odds with Ukraine’s obligations within the Minsk deal. The plan also caused an unexpectedly sharp reaction from the Ukrainian opposition.

Meanwhile, it was expected that the OSCE would present its "road map" alternative to the Contact Group at the November 10 meeting. However, Miroshnik told Kommersant that this document had not yet been considered.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Pandemic shapes new type of consumer

About 70% of Russian consumers believe it is time to save. The same number of those polled by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center who said in October that it is better to spend as little as possible. Only 21% think that a salary or pension should be spent as soon as possible on something necessary, while savings should be invested in something valuable. Consumer demand is shifting to everyday goods and food, Russians are spending less on transport, entertainment and restaurants, according to the latest data from the Tinkoff CoronaIndex business and consumer activity index. Russian consumer habits will remain ‘deformed’ for several more years, experts told Nezavisimaya Gazeta, and even when the pandemic recedes under the onslaught of mass vaccinations, some patterns will remain.

Consumer behavior is changing radically, and this is becoming a new reality, which manufacturers and sellers have to reckon with, Artem Tuzov, executive director of the capital market department at Univer Capital, told the newspaper. "The decline in income has led to the desire to save more. People look at promotional products much more often, follow discounts, buy goods using more insight, and the share of impulse buying has significantly decreased," the expert said. "The second coronavirus wave marked the transition to the ‘Do it yourself’ formula: people are cutting back on purchases of ready-made meals and takeaway coffee. Instead, they are actively purchasing coffee machines, bread makers," the expert added.

The changes in consumption will continue, Director of the Institute for Social Research and Development of Civil Initiatives Maxim Petunin believes. "For example, people who are addicted to sports have already equipped their apartments with the necessary equipment, and this will inevitably affect the fitness industry," he told the newspaper.

"The desire for savings will increase. The share of sales from hard discounters is rapidly growing in the country. The average consumer makes purchases in the event of an extreme need. And he focuses not so much on fashion as on price," Tuzov added.

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