Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday, May 11, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: Putin-Biden summit requires well-defined agenda
A Russian-US presidential summit would require a well-defined agenda so that the said talks can have a meaningful outcome, said politicians and experts interviewed by Izvestia. According to specialists, the summit’s focus will be on Ukraine, arms control and the current bilateral diplomatic crisis.
First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov told the newspaper that the place where the parties could meet for talks was not of primary importance. What is crucial is the summit’s agenda. According to the senator, it’s almost impossible to reach specific agreements without making thorough preparations, while "meeting for the sake of meeting" is pointless.
"No one should expect such talks to lead to some decisions. For Biden, this is sort of an introductory meeting at the beginning of his presidential term. No breakthrough should be expected because that only happens if it is planned," Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for US and Canada Studies Valery Garbuzov pointed out. A well-defined agenda in the future can help improve relations between Moscow and Washington, at least in some areas. The presidents of Russia and the US will more likely focus on cybersecurity, arms control and the diplomatic conflict. Besides, Ukraine is expected to become one of the important issues on the agenda, Garbuzov emphasized.
According to President of the American University in Moscow Edward Lozansky, the one thing that is positive is that Washington continues to talk about the Minsk Agreements as a basis for resolving the situation in Donbass. In this regard, Biden could promise Putin that he will turn up the pressure on Kiev in order to make the Ukrainian authorities abide by the Minsk accords after all. The Americans might demand some compromises from Russia in return, but that’s another story.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: New intifada looming over Israel amid ongoing government crisis
Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police left hundreds wounded and at least 50 people with severe injuries on May 10, Jerusalem Day. The unrest has been going on in the city and its suburbs for several days now. The situation is particularly tense because of the uncertainty surrounding the Israeli government as the country’s political forces are unable to form a cabinet, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Riots broke out in Jerusalem on May 7, after an Israeli court had ruled to evict several Palestinian families from the city’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and hand the land over to the descendants of the Jews who used to live there before the 1948 war.
The unrest is taking place at a unique time for Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party, which won the March parliamentary election, have failed to form a government within the legally prescribed time frame and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin transferred the right to create a new cabinet to Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party that had taken second place in the election in terms of parliamentary seats.
Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations Lyudmila Samarskaya pointed out that given the current balance of power in the Knesset, any possible political majority situation would be unstable. Lapid can hardly be expected to form a strong coalition.
Netanyahu will remain prime minister for the duration of the talks. At the same time, he might not leave the corridors of power at all. First, chances are that Lapid won’t be able to establish a coalition and then, a new parliamentary election will take place. Second, Netanyahu may also run for president. The Knesset will elect Rivlin’s successor on June 2, when it will have become clear whether there is going to be a parliamentary majority coalition or not.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: China’s economy needs Russian military support
The United States is capable of inflicting economic damage on Russia but is unable to do the same in the area of security. As for China, the situation is almost the opposite because the US can’t strangle China economically and seeks to use other methods to contain it, Chinese experts say. The fact that Moscow and Beijing complement each other paves the way for their closer cooperation, Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes.
Russia can protect China from fierce pressure, while China is capable of alleviating economic strain on Russia, Director General of the Institution for Regional Problems Dmitry Zhuravlev pointed out. Infrastructure projects based on the One Belt One Road initiative are giving a boost to integration as China is becoming a market for Russian hydrocarbons and Russia is turning into a market for Chinese goods, the expert noted.
"A significant share of Russia’s reserves is invested in the yuan, and it continues to grow. Perhaps, integration will deepen in the near future as new digital currencies emerge," Alpari chief Alexander Razuvayev presumed.
Experts also see good prospects for Russian-Chinese defense, space and scientific cooperation. "The construction of an inhabited lunar base is another ambitions project. Chinese designers used Russian drafts to create rocket engines and they are already talking about the possibility to expand their space base," Assistant Professor at Plekhanov Russian University of Economics Alexander Timofeyev emphasized.
However, regional competition still exists. On the one hand, Russia can ensure the transit of Chinese goods to Europe. On the other, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are located between Russia and China and, according to Razuvayev, "Russia will try to keep these countries inside its area of influence," though there is a need to take China’s role in their investment sphere into account.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US may move troops from Afghanistan to Central Asia
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan have wrapped up talks in Moscow. One key topic that they focused on was Central Asian security given Washington’s plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The US is considering the possibility of moving troops to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Director of the Agency for Ethno-National Strategies Alexander Kobrinsky believes that "the potential deployment of US troops to the region will trigger dangers of instability not only for Central Asian countries but for Russia as well." "The Americans established total control over Afghanistan’s foreign and domestic policy and will continue to control the country on its borders. At the same time, if they enter Central Asian states, they will be able to control all countries in the region and Russia too, because they will set foot on the territory of the Collective Security Treaty Organization," Korbinsky noted.
"The United States has made no requests to the regional nations so far, but Russia needs to get ready for any kind of developments because it will create chaos in the region. In particular, with borders shut, underground Islamist groups are expanding, which are capable of organizing terrorist attacks and unrest in the countries where they are based, including Russia," the expert pointed out.
Expert on Central Asia and Middle East Alexander Knyazev, in turn, says that none of the White House occupants, including President Biden, has ever sought to pull troops out of Afghanistan. According to the expert, the goal of Biden’s move is to maintain control over the military and political situation in the country, primarily through private military companies. Knyzev says that statements about a US pullout from Afghanistan are aimed at manipulating public opinion.
Kommersasnt: Moscow’s hotel industry experiences recovery
Moscow hotels managed to restore their occupancy in less than a year since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic though foreign tourists are still not allowed to enter Russia. Moscow’s hotel occupancy rates reached 50-70% in the first quarter of 2021 thanks to guests from other regions of the country. However, hotel owners had to reduce prices, making their revenues fall by nearly 25%, Kommersant writes.
The average occupancy of Moscow’s quality hotels stood at 53.6% in the first quarter of the year, according to Cushman & Wakefield analysts. "If we take non-network facilities into account, then it will turn out that hotel occupancy at times reached 80-90%," Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers Vice President Vadim Prasov added.
Moscow is among Europe’s leaders as far as the recovery of the hotel industry is concerned. According to STR, the average hotel occupancy rate stood at 13% in London in the first quarter, at 9% in Paris and at 16% in Madrid.
Director General of the Delfin tour operator Sergey Romashin points out that foreign tourists used to account for about 50% of the tourist inflow to Moscow and domestic guests cannot replace them completely. The expert specified that the number of school groups visiting the Russian capital had plummeted by 70% and that of business tourists had fallen by 50%.
Director of the Hotel Business Department at JLL Yana Ukhanova expects Moscow’s hotel industry to grow in the second and third quarters of the year. However, Prasov is confident that the market will fully recover only after the borders reopen and restrictions on public events are lifted.