- Press review: Diplomatic purges escalate and assassination plot draws Minsk, Moscow closer
- Press review: How Biden’s sanctions impact Russia and what looms on Russia-Ukraine border
- Press review: Why the Taliban backed out of talks and Russia wary of Biden’s summit bid
- Press review: Biden calls Putin asking to meet and will new EU sanctions harm JCPOA talks
Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, March 5, prepared by TASS
Media: OPEC+ says too early to boost production, gives Russia, Kazakhstan leeway
Members of the OPEC+ group decided not to increase production in April though the oil market is facing shortages and prices have risen by more than 20% since the beginning of the year. Only Russia and Kazakhstan have been given a waiver and will be able to raise output by 130,000 and 20,000 barrels per day respectively, Kommersant writes.
Production of the black gold will increase just slightly, by 500,000 per month, which will not impact the market situation or oil prices, Darya Kozlova from Vygon Consulting pointed out. In general, the move confirms previous conservative statements by OPEC+ that the market’s recovery is still very fragile, she added.
Saudi Arabia managed to convince other participants in the oil output cut deal that it was too early to boost production, and as a result, market shortages will remain at about the same level, making it possible to rapidly reduce oil inventories and keep prices at the $60-70 mark, Dmitry Marinchenko of Fitch said. The OPEC+ countries have taken note of the fact that oil demand will remain weak until vaccination campaigns are over, that is, until the summer at the earliest. According to the expert, the waiver for Russia and Kazakhstan indicates the flexibility that Saudi Arabia and other countries are ready to show in order to maintain the agreement.
"Russia realizes that it will face more risks than Saudi Arabia if it fails to promptly bring its oil back to the global market," Leading Expert at the Financial University and the National Energy Security Fund Stanislav Mitrakhovich told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "Due to the climate conditions and production patterns, Saudi Arabia is capable of restoring oil output faster, for instance, if OPEC+ collapses. Russia, however will need more time, and still, chances are that oil production won’t fully recover. In fact, there will be a compromise between Saudi Arabia and Russia, so oil production will be increased in April but specific volumes will remain subject for negotiations," the expert emphasized.
Media: Armenia stuck between the past and present
Armenia is stuck in the mud over its political crisis and so instability has become the new stability. Nothing is happening in terms of a standoff between Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the opposition, Kommersant notes.
The prime minister’s opponents are camping out in front of the parliament building in the Armenian capital and have been relentlessly demanding that Pashinyan step down. The opposition is not ready to go any further, though. Pashinyan, in turn, keeps ignoring the opposition’s demands, bringing his supporters to the streets and holding talks on early elections with various parties. The prime minister’s goal is to make sure that new elections will take place on his terms if parliament is dissolved.
For most of Armenian society, the current crisis is a conflict between elite cliques - former and current ones - head of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute Alexander Iskanderyan pointed out. "Both of them represent minorities. Their rallies make it clear as both of them bring together everyone they can. And the Armenian people are stuck between the two. People are tired, they don’t want to take to the streets and don’t understand what they can do," the expert said.
Iskanderyan noted that none of the opposing parties has offered a positive agenda. According to him, this is about politics rather than social issues, and it won’t encourage each and every housewife to engage in any rallies.
The expert believes that if elections eventually take place, the incumbent prime minister has great odds of winning them. "If voter turnout is low - and it will be low because many people are apathetic - Pashinyan’s party will be able to secure a parliamentary majority by gaining 30-40% of votes," Iskanderyan told Izvestia.
Izvestia: Slovakia divided over Russian vaccine supplies
Further deliveries of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to Slovakia are in jeopardy. Some parties said they would probably withdraw from the coalition government following the prime minister's decision to purchase the Russian-made jab, Izvestia writes.
Slovakia is the second member of the European Union to approve Sputnik V. The first batch of the inoculation arrived there on March 1. In total, the East European country expects to receive two million doses by June. Hungary purchased the medication earlier.
Disputes over Sputnik V supplies broke out in Slovakia in early March. Deputy Prime Minister Veronika Remisova, who heads the centrist For the People party, a partner in the coalition, did not rule out withdrawing from the center-right ruling collation because the prime minister had moved to purchase an external provider’s vaccine in breach of the government’s decision. Foreign Minister Ivak Korcok, who is a member of the Freedom and Solidarity party, went as far as to call the Russian vaccine a tool in a hybrid war. Slovak President Zuzana Caputova also raised her voice against Sputnik V. Prime Minister Igor Matovic, in turn, slammed that position as political populism.
"Slovakia is highly polarized. There are parties that stand for cooperation with Russia and movements that strongly oppose it," head of the Department for Central and Eastern European Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe Lyubov Shishelina noted.
"Eastern European countries are facing the same question: we seemed to have moved away from Russia so why are we going back? All in all, it’s not about the vaccine but the overall situation around its deliveries. In particular, a campaign to collect signatures for an early election is underway in Slovakia, which is why so much attention is being paid to the vaccine that the prime minister has brought to the country," the expert emphasized.
Vedomosti: Russia to build first testing range for drones
Russia's first testing range for unmanned aerial vehicles will be built outside the city of Tver, Vedomosti writes, citing head of the Poligon BAS project Anton Tretyak. The project will cost 500 mln rubles ($6.7 mln). The money came from the Project Support Fund of the National Technological Initiative and the International Aero Navigation Systems Concern, which is working to create the testing ground.
The range will be located near the Orlovka airfield. "There is appropriate airspace and low population density in the area. We have already purchased a land plot for the range and agreed on issues related to the construction efforts with the Tver Region’s authorities," Tretyak said.
Unmanned helicopters, multicopters and planes are going to be tested at the range, which will be designed for flight tests and work on documents for certification authorities, Tretyak explained. According to his estimates, at least 40 unmanned aerial systems will require certification in Russia in the next five years.
According to the National Technological Initiative, drone aircraft are unlikely to become a massive thing in big cities in the next ten years and drone taxis won’t travel along the streets in large numbers, the platform’s spokesman Yuri Sushinov noted.
However, Russia has already entered the world’s top three in certain areas of drone development along with the United States and China, and it is important to lock in the technology advantage, Sushinov stressed.
Izvestia: Agricultural industry to pull Russia out of coronavirus crisis
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the global food problem and many countries are now at risk of a food crisis. According to the United Nations, global food prices surged to a nearly seven-year high in January 2021. Meanwhile, the situation in the Russian agricultural industry looks promising, Izvestia writes.
"The agricultural industry is organized in such a way that production is almost independent of external factors," Director General of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications Dmitry Orlov pointed out.
"The agricultural industry’s gross output has been growing since 2005, as well as investment and profit. Progress has been made in terms of import substitution in the production of meat, milk and dairy products," Deputy Chief of Gazprombank’s Department for Strategic Development of Economic Forecasting Darya Snitko added.
In 2020, Russia turned out to be one of the few major players on the agricultural market capable of not only meeting its own food needs but also of supporting other countries. Last year, the country for the first time became a net exporter of agricultural products, gaining the highest export revenue. "In a situation where all nations had to deal with the consequences of lockdowns, importing countries actively increased purchases for fear of supply disruptions," Snitko explained.
According to Russia’s Federal State Statistics Service, agricultural production will continue to climb in 2021 in all major areas. That said, Russia’s agricultural industry is set to strengthen its position in the national economy, remaining probably the main sector that can pull the country out of the crisis caused by the pandemic.