Top stories from the Russian press on Monday, April 26th, prepared by TASS
Kommersant: Biden enters fray for influence in Caucasus by recognizing Armenian genocide
US President Joe Biden officially recognized the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, backing Yerevan in its century-old spat with Turkey. His statement became the biggest international victory for Yerevan, making Joe Biden a real hero in the eyes of all Armenia and the Armenian diaspora in the world, Kommersant writes. Still, having raised the stakes in the struggle for influence in the Caucasus - Russia's sphere of strategic interest - Biden did not burn bridges for interaction with Turkey either.
Hours before the White House circulated the text, Biden called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan bracing him for the bad news, and in order to minimize the impact of the move on US-Turkish relations, according to the newspaper. Biden's call reached its destination, and having declared a "deep wound", Ankara did not take any further drastic steps. The leaders of both countries even managed to take the dispute beyond their current interaction and agreed to meet in June at the NATO summit.
Chief Research Fellow at the Institute for US and Canadian Studies Vladimir Vasiliev believes that in addition to pressure on Turkey, President Biden's recognition of the Armenian genocide pursued another goal - to join the struggle for leadership in the Caucasus after the second Karabakh war, in an attempt to win over Armenia, Moscow's key ally in the region. "President Biden is trying on the toga of a logistical peacekeeper in the Transcaucasus, considering that this does not require large expenditures and efforts and offers a full-scale PR effect, presenting him as a real hero in the eyes of the Armenian diaspora in the United States and throughout Armenia. At the same time, a model of regional exacerbation is being worked out, and the current US administration expects to reap its benefits," the expert said.
Kommersant: Iran wants to become regional hub for producing Sputnik V, says ambassador
Iran intends to become a hub for Russian vaccine production in the Middle East, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic to Russia, Kazem Jalali, said in an interview with Izvestia. He noted that in the near future, the licensed production of Sputnik V will begin in the country. The diplomat also clarified that Tehran is ready to return to the nuclear deal only after the lifting of all sanctions, without any delays, but Washington must take the first step in this direction.
On February 9, Iran began free voluntary vaccination of the population using Russia’s Sputnik V jab. At the first stage, plans are in store to vaccinate ER staff and employees of intensive care units. The next step will be to vaccinate all other healthcare workers and people over 65.
Jalali also clarified that after vaccinating the population of the Islamic Republic, the country will begin to provide assistance to others. Iran’s manufacturing of the jab will be licensed by the Russian Federation, so Moscow and Tehran will jointly decide where to send the vaccine, he added.
Talking about the possibility of lifting some sanctions on Iran, the ambassador noted that negotiations are now underway in Vienna between Iran and three European countries, plus China, and Russia. He stressed that it was the United States that had pulled out of the JCPOA and they should take the first step in restoring the deal. The US must remove all sanctions and after that Iran will return to the fulfillment of all its obligations, Jalali told Izvestia.
At the same time, the diplomat stressed that Iran is insisting on the country's restoration to the SWIFT payment system - one of the European trio’s obligations as participants in the JCPOA.
Vedomosti: US, EU want to build a zero-emission economy at the expense of less developed countries
The recent virtual climate summit, assembled at the initiative of US President Joe Biden, has become an important event for the entire world. Washington made it clear to developing countries: either they build a green economy at their own expense, or they will pay developed countries fees for harmful emissions, Vedomosti writes.
According to the newspaper, even though Biden promised to double the amount of financing for green projects in developing countries by 2024, the announced $5.7 bln will not be enough to completely solve the "green" problem of underdeveloped economies.
Looking at the pace of development of the world’s green technologies, it is obvious that developed countries are ahead, since they actively finance renewable energy sources, build solar and wind power plants, reduce the use of coal while increasing the use of electric vehicles, Head of the analytical department at AMarkets Artem Deev told the newspaper. "The US and EU are declaratively asking other countries to pay for the fact that they do not yet have sufficiently developed technologies. Roughly speaking, developed countries will build their zero-emission economies at the expense of everyone else," the expert added.
Chief Research Fellow at the Institute for US and Canadian Studies Vladimir Vasiliev told Vedomosti that US sponsoring of international green projects would be very limited. "The Americans today do not have great opportunities to finance such projects. This was well demonstrated during the tenure of Trump whose administration withdrew from the Paris Agreement in a large part over this reason," the expert said.
Vasiliev is confident that US financial assistance will be used as a lever of pressure on developing countries, furnishing its provision with various requirements and conditions.
Vedomosti: Two key petrochemical majors embark on merger, set to occupy over 70% of Russian market
The two largest oil and gas chemical companies in Russia - Sibur and TAIF - announced a merger on April 23. According to the joint statement, a company will be created on the basis of Sibur Holding PJSC, in which the current shareholders of TAIF will receive 15%. In return, they will transfer to the new company a controlling stake in TAIF (50% plus 1 share), and the remaining shares they hold can also be redeemed by the merged company, Vedomosti writes.
A source familiar with the details of the deal told Vedomosti that the combined company will furnish 70% of the total output of petrochemical products in Russia, and for some products even 100%, says a source in Vedomosti familiar with the details of the transaction. "After the merger, we will have a petrochemical Gazprom," the source added.
The deal between Sibur and TAIF is a logical step towards consolidating the industry, Managing partner at BMS Group Alexey Matyukhov told the newspaper. "Given the composition of Sibur's shareholders, the deal most likely received the blessing of the executive branch. The approval by the antimonopoly authorities will become a technical procedure," he noted.
Gazprombank analyst Evgenia Dyshlyuk estimated the deal at $3.5-4.5 bln. Both holdings have leading positions in the polyolefins and synthetic rubbers market in Russia and are major exporters, but at the same time complement each other in terms of product range, she said.
Izvestia: AppleTV+, HBO Max plan to develop exclusive content in Russia
US streaming platforms Apple TV+ and HBO Max are negotiating with Russian studios on developing exclusive TV series for Russian audiences, several sources in the market told Izvestia. Similar negotiations with another major platform, Netflix, were reported earlier. At the moment, the HBO Max streaming service is not represented in Russia, and the share of Apple TV+ (operating in the country since the fall of 2019) at the end of 2020 did not exceed 2%.
"We are talking about the largest companies such as 1-2-3 Production, Vodorod, Yellow, Black & White, and Russkoe," an industry source told Izvestia, adding that the studios would be interested in working with both platforms and several projects at the same time.
Negotiations with US streaming platforms were confirmed to Izvestia by a source in one of the large media holdings. This is "an ongoing process," the source said.
Developing exclusive shows for any platform is a new trend that has replaced purchasing some ready-made projects. Online cinemas acquire exclusive content to increase audience loyalty, Head of the Telecom Daily analytical agency Denis Kuskov. According to him, the average cost of creating one season for a show is about 500 mln rubles ($6.67 mln), and investments in a library of non-exclusive content are estimated at least at 1 bln rubles ($13.35 mln).
At the same time, Apple is inactively investing in its streaming service and there are few projects on the platform, Kuskov told Izvestia, adding that purchasing series from Russian film studios is a test, because no one knows the return on investment.