The third meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump is likely to take place on "neutral territory". A source close to the Kremlin told Kommersant that the Russian leader is trying to accomplish this. According to the newspaper, Vienna was earlier considered as a possible venue for the summit.
The source told Kommersant that Putin would prefer to meet with Trump not in Washington, but on ‘neutral’ ground. However, according to the source, so far there are "no concrete agreements on the date and place of the summit".
"During the March telephone conversation, Trump repeated three times that he would like to meet with Vladimir Putin. He invited him to Washington and said he was ready to pay a reciprocal visit to Moscow. However, when later our ambassador Anatoly Antonov communicated with representatives from the US administration, they made it clear that it would not be easy to organize a meeting in the near future," the source said.
A source close to the US State Department told Kommersant that US Ambassador to Russia John Huntsman is among those who "actively support the idea of a summit."
The presidents of Russia and the US met twice. Their first meeting, which lasted more than two hours, was held on July 7, 2017 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg. The parties had to discuss many topics, chiefly Ukraine, Syria, other bilateral issues. The second time Putin met with Trump was on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Vietnam, but that meeting was much shorter. Since then, there has been continued talks about the possibility of organizing a new meeting.
Vienna announced its readiness to host a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump on Austrian soil. In an interview with Izvestia, Thomas Graham, Yale University Professor and Vice President and Managing Director of Kissinger Associates talked about the possibility of organizing a Russian-US summit, as well as the hierarchy of the modern international scene and Russia’s place in it.
According to Graham, the real reasons for the divide in the Western world are more profound than just Trump's policy, because in many ways his foreign policy is a continuation of former President Obama's course, especially in geopolitics. Maybe Trump’s rhetoric is tougher, but the notions are the same, he said, adding that the question of the strategic mission of the transatlantic community has been open for several years now.
Atlantic solidarity is still a living organism that has potential, Graham noted. According to him, many people in the West would like to use that against Russia. However, he thinks that this is impossible, just as it is impossible to create a reliable security system in Europe without Russia. The West needs to find a way to cooperate with Russia - and vice versa.
Talking about a possible summit between the leaders of the two countries, Graham said that a lot depends on when Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation ends, since this is currently the main obstacle to the meeting. The expert believes that the superpowers need a full-fledged summit, a meeting where the presidents and their teams can discuss all vital issues regarding bilateral relations and world politics. Such a meeting would require serious preparations.
Talking about Russia's place in the global order for the next decade, Graham said that it is obvious to him that Russia is a great power, it affects strategically important regions in the world - Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and the Arctic. In order to pursue its policy, other countries are compelled to take into account Moscow’s interests and possible actions, which suggests that Russia is an important country in the modern hierarchy of global politics, he added. According to the expert, Russia is one of the three most influential countries in the world together with the United States and China.
Following Friday’s talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping expressed their inclination to strengthen cooperation in all areas, especially in the financial sector, and help boost the share of national currencies in trade settlements. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the Russian leader’s visit comes at a time when NATO is seeking concessions from the Kremlin on Ukraine and Syria, and Washington is threatening China with a trade war. Moscow and Beijing responded by strengthening foreign policy coordination, especially on Iran and North Korea, the newspaper wrote.
According to Putin, the interaction between Russia and China is strategic in nature, based on the principles of equality, good neighborliness and trust. The negotiations themselves took place in a constructive atmosphere, and a whole range of pertinent issues related to the state of affairs and prospects of bilateral relations was discussed.
The process of strengthening bilateral relations was not spontaneous, it gained momentum as Moscow and Beijing felt the need to counter the United States, the newspaper wrote. For Russia, the sanctions were a wake-up call on this matter.
The demonstration of closeness between both national leaders is intended not only for Chinese and Russian TV viewers, but it also aimed at the global audience, the newspaper wrote. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, critics sometimes call the SCO a counterweight to NATO. In fact, after India and Pakistan joined the organization as full members, it has become one of the largest international organizations in terms of population. However, this hardly increased its effectiveness, the newspaper wrote. Meanwhile, Beijing and Moscow are not losing hope that the SCO will help ease Indian-Pakistani tensions.
The upcoming SCO summit in Qingdao expects to see Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, representing Tehran under observer status in the SCO. It is expected that Russia and China, like other members of the organization, will support the nuclear deal with Iran, the one which the United States withdrew from, the newspaper wrote.
However, China does not want the Iranian issue to dominate the summit. Moscow and Beijing prefer to sway Washington through the mechanism of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. These powers were in fact the signatories of the Iran deal.
The army of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said it was ready to beat back any possible attack by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Donbass, Deputy Commander of the DPR Operational Command Eduard Basurin told Izvestia. According to him, on the eve of the World Cup in Russia, Kiev’s sabotage activity has intensified on the territory of the self-proclaimed republics. Nevertheless, the Donbass republics’ special services have successfully neutralized Kiev’s subversive acts.
According to Basurin, risks of large-scale provocations by the Ukrainian military on DPR soil has increased, and that the republic’s armed forces are on full combat alert.
"Before the start of the World Cup, the threat of military actions by Ukraine has intensified. Concerns about the possible onset of (Kiev’s) Armed Forces in Donbass on the eve of and during the World Cup are related to the fact that similar events had taken place back in 2014, when the Olympic Games were held in Sochi. We would not like that at all, but if Kiev starts the offensive, the army of the Donetsk People's Republic is completely ready to repel any attack," he told the newspaper.
According to Basurin, with the World Cup approaching, the subversive groups are already beginning to resort to terrorist methods, and have become more active in the region. He noted that his security thwarted an assassination attempt on him and that this could be designated as a terrorist act rather than sabotage.
"Nevertheless, our special services are working full-time in contact with the Interior Ministry and the army. We are doing our best to completely stop the sabotage activity of the Ukrainian side," Basurin assured Izvestia.
Preparations for repelling any possible attacks are being conducted on the basis of intelligence information, a source in DPR’s military circles told the newspaper. The source also confirmed the readiness of the army to stop any likely offensive by Ukraine.
Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights, and Chairman of the Union of Oenologists and Winemakers of Russia Boris Titov, whose family owns one of the largest wine producers - Abrau-Dyurso - appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin with proposals to bolster Russian winemaking, a source close to one of the winemaking companies told Vedomosti, the information was later confirmed by Titov himself.
According to the letter Titov sent to the president, he suggested imposing fees on wine and liquor imports to Russia, which would boost the competitiveness of Russian producers. According to Titov, winemakers annually receive around 1.5 bln rubles ($24 mln) from the state, but at least 50 bln rubles ($800 mln) are required to reach target figures.
Titov said that introducing a special fee for the import of wine, wine materials, cognac spirits, and possibly liquor would help raise up to 30 bln rubles ($480.25 mln).
The amount of the fee was not specified in the letter. However, according to President of the Union of Winegrowers and Winemakers of Russia Leonid Popovich, it would not exceed 30 rubles ($0.48) per bottle. Imposing the fee is not on the agenda right now, but it would depend on the extent of how much Russian wine culture develops and domestic production grows, Popovich added.
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