- Press review: Biden’s inaugural address calls for unity and Iran may form ‘Shiite NATO’
- New START Treaty extension meets US national security interests
- Press review: What comes next after Navalny's arrest and Telegram may face Big Tech's ire
- Press review: Navalny detained on arrival in Moscow and will Biden renew New START
Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, November 26, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: Biden 'win' offers prospects for reviving Iran nuclear deal
Although Joe Biden has not yet taken the reins as the US president, the United Kingdom, Germany and France have already discussed how to work with the new US administration on resurrecting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iranian nuclear deal. However, the path back is expected to be rather bumpy and some pitfalls are very likely, Izvestia writes.
Biden announced plans to join the JCPOA on condition that Iran backpedals and rectifies its violations under this deal, including the excessive stockpiling of enriched uranium. According to European diplomats, the most logical first step towards reviving the nuclear deal could be Iran’s move to scale back its activity on enriching uranium in exchange for lifting US sanctions against Tehran related to its nuclear program. Meanwhile, the Biden administration will apparently face challenges in convincing the Senate, which remains under Republican control, that the return to cooperation with Iran is advisable. Another obstacle could be Biden’s intention to update the nuclear deal and include the issue on Iran’s missile program there.
Anicee Van Engeland, Senior Lecturer in International Security and Law at the Cranfield Forensic Institute, notes that this will be rather problematic given that during the previous round of talks, the Iranians had refused to bind nuclear demands to any other issues. In turn, Iran could put forward new demands for the US, including firm guarantees of fulfilling the deal in the future. Both US and European experts don’t rule out that Tehran could also demand compensation for sanctions after Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA two years ago.
However, now Tehran is behaving very cautiously. According to orientalist scholar Roland Bidzhamov, Iran is well aware that Donald Trump will remain in office until January 20 and Tehran does not want to provoke him. "In general, under Biden the situation could change for the better for Iran. At least the new administration will act in a balanced and professional way and its policy will become predictable," the expert said.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US moves to ground Russia’s aircraft
The United States could slap sanctions on Russia’s Defense Ministry and a number of defense enterprises and the civilian industry. These sanctions could also jeopardize a project on creating the MC-21 medium-haul airliner, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
The proposed US blacklist includes 89 Chinese and 28 Russian companies with military ties. For the first time, these new sanctions could target several key civilian aircraft construction enterprises in Russia and China. The document includes more than 10 enterprises, which produce helicopters and aircraft engines. Among them is the Irkut Corporation, which manufactures the MC-21 medium-haul airliners and plans to create the CR929 long-range wide-body twinjet airliner jointly with China’s COMAC (also on the new blacklist).
Russia’s MC-21 is a serious rival for US Boeing and European Airbus. According to Director of the Institute of the Far East at the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Maslov, by slapping new restrictions on Beijing and Moscow, Washington wants to hinder the successful implementation of the Russian-Chinese project to create the CR929. "The US is very afraid that the Russian-Chinese aircraft will deal a heavy blow to Boeing. If the CR929 project is a success, Russia and China won’t depend on imported supplies," the expert noted. Meanwhile, Maslov did not rule out that Biden could lift sanctions introduced under Trump.
Experts told the newspaper that the US sanctions could end up bolstering bilateral cooperation between Russian and Chinese aircraft construction companies and boosting positions of Russian producers on this track.
According to Executive Director of AviaPort Oleg Panteleyev, the potential sanctions could affect the supplies of foreign-made components for the aircraft and therefore Russia should speed up its import replacement program.
Izvestia: Rosneft project to boost Russian economy, Northern Sea Route’s status
Rosneft’s Vostok Oil project in the Russian Arctic will boost the entire Russian economy, and stimulate other related sectors, thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs. The project’s implementation will offer extra incentives for localizing high-tech equipment and guarantee growing domestic demand in products in various fields to the tune of 2% of GDP per year, Rosneft’s press service told Izvestia after a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and the company’s CEO Igor Sechin.
In turn, experts highlight that Asian countries - mainly China and India - will ensure primary demand for oil until 2025. In light of this, the Vostok Oil project was launched at the right time. According to the KPMG company, the Arctic investments will rake in more than 30 trln rubles (nearly $400 bln) by 2038.
According to Deputy Director General of the National Energy Institute Alexander Frolov, Vostok Oil will ensure logistic flexibility for the produced oil. Zvezda shipyard’s dependence on foreign companies will be reduced. The analyst noted that Vostok Oil is both a major project on developing mineral resources in a challenging region and a promising cargo source for the Northern Sea Route.
"The project will satisfy the projected demand in ‘black gold’ and make the Northern Sea Route more attractive," the expert pointed out.
Deputy Director of Alpari’s Analytical Department Natalya Milchakova notes that "this year China is already becoming a leader in oil refining and this means that there are good prospects for cooperation with Russia." Rosneft will remain a major oil supplier to China for at least the next five years, the analyst explained. Russian shipbuilders will benefit from the project since they will get orders from oil producers to expand tanker fleets, she stressed. This is also a vital step for Russia given that the demand for oil in the world and the need to ship it remains high.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: New US administration to push Iraq towards Russian arms purchases
Moscow is ready to satisfy any of Iraq’s demand for Russian-made defense goods, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein in Moscow. Pundits believe that in the future, Iraq should make up its mind on purchasing Russian armaments. The shift in the US administration is pushing it for this, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
In early 2020, reports said that Baghdad was ready to purchase Russia’s S-300 missile systems. According to Western media reports, Moscow also offered Iraq an option on S-400 supplies. The reason for this Iraqi interest was the decision of the Trump administration to draw down US troops from the Middle East.
Samuel Ramani, an international relations specialist and PhD candidate at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, told the newspaper that Baghdad has not developed a clear stance on the Biden administration. This is mainly because the incoming Democrat backed the idea of Iraq’s territorial division after the 2003 invasion.
Baghdad has fears that if the US tries to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iranian nuclear deal, in its original form, which does not demand Iran’s commitment to refrain from proxy wars in the Middle East, then Tehran could increase its destabilizing behavior in Iraq, the analyst explained.
According to Ramani, amid all these concerns, Iraq will develop ties with alternative partners on the economic and security track, such as Russia and China. At the same time, the analyst notes that Russian-Iraqi talks have become routine. Just last year the two countries’ officials had nearly 60 contacts. Ramani admitted that Baghdad could purchase Russian weapons in the future and there were even rumors on the S-400 missile systems. However, now the Iraqi side is not planning to give clear signals on this. Baghdad may boost contacts with Russia and wait for the Biden administration’s steps when it enters the White House.
Kommersant: Bread sales rise as Russians’ incomes drop
Russia saw an increase in bread sales for the first time in the past five years. Market participants link consumers’ choice to buy cheaper and more filling food to their falling revenues. A surge in consumption was observed in the low price segment. As a result, by the year’s end, the volume of bread sales in Russia could rise by 60,000 tonnes. Players expect that bread consumption will drop after the economic situation in the country stabilizes, Kommersant writes.
According to Executive Director of Rusprodsoyuz association Dmitry Vostrikov, the sales of bread, one of the cheapest products, are always on the rise during a crisis. Last time the association recorded a similar trend in 2008.
The Russian Federal State Statistics Service notes that Russians’ real revenues dropped 8.4% in the second quarter of 2020 and 4.8% in the third quarter. So, the priorities of consumers also changed, President of the Russian Union of Bakers Alexei Lyalin said. People start focusing more on filling food, he explained.
BusinesStat think tank expects that the market will drop 0.3-1.3% annually to 7.4 mln tonnes by 2024. However, the share of small bakeries, which are carrying out an aggressive marketing campaign, will grow, while chain stores will also make more bread of their own. According to the Russian Union of Bakers, today some 70% of Russian bread is made by industrial enterprises and another 30% by bakeries and chain stores.