Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, March 25, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: NATO top diplomats convene to designate common ‘threat’
NATO member foreign ministers held a conference on March 24 under the slogan "Russia is a threat." NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that EU and NATO states could not deal with the challenges coming from Russia alone and therefore they needed consolidation. However, despite the aggressive rhetoric, the alliance’s members do not reject the possibility of dialogue with Moscow, even as part of the NATO-Russia Council. Given the current mood in the North Atlantic alliance there are no chances for the organization to normalize ties with Moscow, Federation Council Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev told Izvestia.
According to political scientist Alexander Rahr, the key powers in Europe are still trying to improve relations with Russia, since they realize that on their own they cannot tackle such a worldwide threat to mankind as the pandemic, but US geopolitical plans hinder this. "There are still many differences between the EU and the US, and Europe is facing an internal crisis. In order to consolidate in this situation, the US picks simple tactics, like creating a common enemy, namely Russia and China," the expert said.
First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Dmitry Novikov believes that in the near future, a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council is very unlikely. "I see opportunities for dialogue, but today the West has created such conditions that these meetings are inadvisable. NATO keeps introducing unfriendly moves and against this background for some reason there are accusations of Russia’s unconstructive position. These are the usual tactics: lay the blame on somebody else. This is just an attempt to justify one’s own steps in the eyes of voters," he noted.
"NATO-Russia cooperation may improve only if Russian-US ties change fundamentally, and also once the attempts to turn the alliance into the foundation of European security come to an end. But this is not going to happen in the coming few years since this consolidation is only mounting," said Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics Dmitry Suslov.
According to him, it’s senseless to use the NATO-Russia Council as a forum for political consultations. It could become a discussion venue on military issues and a de-conflicting mechanism, but the West does not want this since it uses this organization to blame Russia and Moscow is not interested in this.
Kommersant: Netanyahu eyes creating coalition with Arab parties
Will Israel get a government after its fourth snap elections to the Knesset over the past two years? This will be known by May or even June at the earliest. The outcome of Tuesday’s vote did not bring any definite victory either to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s camp or his opponents. However, the latest election campaign could seriously affect the country’s future. For the first time, Israel’s right-wing party is seriously discussing the possibility of a political alliance with Islamists, Kommersant writes.
The politician who gets the right to form the government in Israel is the one who secures the support of the parliamentary majority (61 out of 120 mandates). If no one achieves this result, Israel will have to hold its fifth snap elections. The decision on which politician will get the right to form the government will be made by President Reuven Rivlin in early April. The process of creating the coalition could be delayed until May or June, the newspaper says.
According to preliminary data, the alliance "For Netanyahu" led by the Likud party is projected to win 52 mandates, while the anti-Netanyahu alliance is expected to garner 57 mandates provided that the right-wing Zionist party Yamina, linked to the settlement movement, remains in the opposition. The prime minister and his opponents find themselves in a situation when they could secure support only among Arab parties. So far, the participation of Arab parties in Israeli parties has been considered taboo.
"We woke up after the elections and saw that the country's future depends on tenths of a percent of the vote. If Netanyahu still manages to create a government based on far right-wing radical movements with external support from Mansour Abbas, it will still be unstable. Every small element will be able to twist the prime minister’s hands. He will be forced to make concessions," said Andrey Kozhinov, an MP of the outgoing Knesset from the center-right Telem party. His party refused to participate in these elections.
Ksenia Svetlova, an expert of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, notes that the paradox is that Netanyahu’s far-right government depends on a party, which is based on Islamist ideology. Regardless of whether Netanyahu will need the support of the United Arab List, commonly known as Ra'am, or not, he has created a miracle, she said. "The prime minister has managed to convince his voters that an Islamist party is a normal thing, and is better than the opposition’s left-wing Zionist parties. So, from the viewpoint of political maneuvering and influencing public opinion, the prime minister has achieved significant results. We’ll see whether this will help him preserve his post." The expert stressed that no one in Israel had a clear vision of the situation.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Erdogan vows Turkey will vie for position as global power
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has unveiled an updated program of his Justice and Development Party for the next two years. In 2023, Turkey will celebrate the republic’s 100th anniversary and will hold new general elections. By that time, according to the president, Ankara expects to boost its economy and become one of the leading forces in forming the world order. Perhaps, Erdogan’s course for change is setting its sights not only on the world, but on those voters, who have grown weary of the long-standing economic crisis, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
The Turkish leader vowed to draft the new Constitution by the first half of 2022 in order to take into account all domestic and international realities and become fully inclusive. The president had no choice but to focus on the country’s economic crisis, which some name as a factor behind his sinking ratings. According to Erdogan, the currency market slump does not reflect the real situation in the country. So, he called on citizens to invest in gold and keep their savings in Turkish banks to bolster the financial institutions. Speaking about foreign policy, Erdogan vowed to expand the number of "friendly states" ironing out the current differences with a number of foreign players. Turkey will keep fostering ties with all countries worldwide - from the United States to Russia, and from the European Union to the Arab world, Erdogan announced.
Expert of the Russian International Affairs Council notes that closer ties with the European Union are still among the priorities of Erdogan and his allies. However, in practical terms, the Turkish authorities seek to update the customs agreement with the EU. As for Erdogan’s pledge to reshuffle the government, the commentator described this as Ankara’s attempt to create an illusion of incoming changes amid the deteriorating living conditions of citizens. "I believe that the authorities are preparing - on the level of rhetoric and the party organization - for possibly declaring early elections," Akhmetov said. The key goal of the proposed long-term announcement about the fight for seats in the parliament is to ensure that Erdogan keeps his presidential powers in 2023.
As part of the preparation for snap parliamentary elections, the Turkish authorities have recently put pressure on the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, the expert noted. According to him, this strategy is aimed at frustrating Kurdish voters and drive a wedge in the opposition alliance.
Izvestia: Biden’s trillions of dollars might turn into hangover for US and global market
The US government is gearing up to pump record-high amounts of money into supporting the economy. Although the details are still unclear, the idea is to earmark $3 trln for various goals. Such an injection of cash will take its toll. In the near future, it will bolster the economy both in the United States and other countries, including Russia. Moscow will benefit from this in terms of rising oil prices and other effects. But for the long-term prospect, this generous injection of money might trigger very unpleasant consequences, the Expert RA rating agency said in its report, Izvestia writes.
What does this mean for the US and world economy? Some 30% of the GDP will be spent and the gap between potential volume and the real GDP increase as a result of injecting cash could be $400 bln - $600 bln. First of all, this creates risks of increasing inflation, which could be "exported" from the US abroad.
According to the analysts, given the fiscal stimulus package and the gradual restoration of the economy amid the vaccination drive everyone should expect increasing pressure on oil prices and the beginning of an oil super cycle - the long-term growth of hydrocarbon prices similar to the surge in the 2000s. On the other hand, according to President of the Institute for Energy and Finance think tank Marcel Salikhov, the restrictions on oil production in the US and "the green course" could be compensated by the deal with Iran after which one in six major oil producers will return to the global market. However, the talks will be challenging and sanctions are not expected to be lifted soon, the specialist said.
In any case, this aspect in the Biden administration’s plans will play into Russia’s hand at least for some time and Moscow will be able to replenish its budget due to rather high or at least satisfactory oil prices.
Despite the relatively modest effect of the unprecedented fiscal and monetary measures in the current environment, for the longer prospect such policy bears huge risks. According to President of the Moscow Partners company, Professor of the Higher School of Economics Yevgeny Kogan, sooner or later inflation will go out of control and then the authorities will be forced to "print even more money."
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: China fails to get EU’s political backing
The next day after Brussels and Beijing slapped tit-for-tat sanctions on each other, Europe backtracked on ratifying a crucial deal with China. The EU stressed that retaliatory sanctions were unacceptable. China blacklisted five members of the European Parliament and its Subcommittee on Human Rights. Brussels earlier imposed restrictions on Chinese officials for repressions in Xinjiang. The intrigue is whether China will decide to strengthen personal sanctions by economic ones, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The clash of European and Chinese values could destroy an important deal for Europe, which would expand access to the Chinese market for European companies.
By taking this uncompromising position, the EU smothered its own voice. Deputy Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations Alexander Lomanov notes that this deal is very sensitive for China. The EU secured huge concessions from Beijing and German and French producers and financiers were key beneficiaries. In its turn, Beijing hoped to have solidarity with Europe in political terms. China expected that in exchange for serious economic concessions Europe would not align itself with the US as part of the so-called Transatlantic Alliance and would maintain its sovereignty. However, Europe imposed political sanctions against China for the first time over the past 30 years. And these sanctions are in sync with US and Canadian restrictions. "Europe is demonstrating that it is part of the Transatlantic Alliance."
So, China came to the conclusion: if the EU has become a tool of US policy, then why should this bloc get huge preferences? "China will wait and remind European industrialists, through whose fault they are suffering losses, who is hindering the entry into force of this agreement," Lomanov said.
However, Chinese experts do not expect that Beijing will introduce economic countermeasures.