A Russia-US reset is back on track in the White House and the Congress ahead of a possible meeting between the countries’ presidents, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, and the visit of American senators to Moscow, Izvestia writes on Thursday with reference to a US diplomat and a source in Washington’s political circles. "On the one hand, the US is having serious frictions with the EU and a trade war with China, while on the other - Trump is one pace away from getting known as a peacekeeper on the Korean Peninsula," one of the sources said. "The President has never denied that he advocates for a dialogue with Russia, and if he succeeds in setting a positive trend in relations with Moscow, he will be even more confident to view himself as a person ‘able to tackle problems’. Which is why an increasing number of people in the Administration and the Congress are reluctant to miss this chance," he explained.
Another source believes that the intentions of US senators to come to Moscow are even more demonstrative of possible changes in sentiment than preparations to the Russia-US summit. Earlier reports said that US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman is organizing a trip to the country for Republican senators. One of the sources in political circles in Washington told the paper that Huntsman’s activity is mainly connected with his duties. As an ambassador, he is expected to be committed for expansion of ties with Moscow. Richard Weitz, Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at Hudson Institute, added that the White House and certain congressmen share the view that a new reset of relations is relevant.
According to Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s (upper house) Foreign Affairs Committee Vladimir Dzhabarov, the relationship between Moscow and Washington are at their lowest point now, though both sides admit that the time is ripe for resuming a dialogue. "I have no doubts that some of the US congressmen have common sense. Certain progress emerged when it became obvious that the relations have come to deadlock," he told the publication. Dzabarov considers "a summit a vertex of the bilateral relations pyramid," given that previous talks were short and a pile of issues requiring long hours of discussions is waiting. The Russian senator added that a possible visit of US colleagues to Moscow is going to become a certain positive indicator as "parliamentary diplomacy plays a crucial role in today’s global affairs."
The delegation of US senators have not revealed the goals of their visit to Russia, Head of the Federation Council (upper house) International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev said in an interview with Kommersant daily. "It is anyone's guess what the goals of American senators are. Their statements (about Russia - TASS) give little hope. We will only welcome their wish, first, to delve deeper into Russia and the relationship (with US), and second, to restart a dialogue between the parliaments. It will work in this case. If the senators are coming for teaching us, for telling where Russia is not right, and how the US Congress plans to deal with it without prior arrangement, the visit will be pointless and no dialogue will be built," he emphasized.
The number of burning issues in the Russian-US relationship is high as never before, Kosachev said, adding though that the channels to solve them are "largely frozen, with no opportunity to reach agreements left." "Honestly, at the start of the US pressure on Russia I named suspension of the so-called presidential commission as one of the key problems, not the change rhetoric and even anti-Russia sanctions. The commission set up at the moment of ‘reset’ of bilateral relations, contained 27 various mechanisms at its latest stage, with all topics being discussed - from macroeconomics to human rights. Not all themes out of those 27 were submitted for summits as a result of discussions, though the sides were ready to proceed with a number of particular issues," he said.
According to the senator, what exists now is "occasional contacts," which is far from being a consistent work. "I think that it is necessary to start with unfreezing channels of bilateral cooperation so that a meaningful meeting could be prepared. It may be done fairly quickly. I am confident that the sides are aware of the problems and ways to solve them, but it should be done as quickly as possible," he noted.
As Washington’s withdrawal from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council has been largely criticized in Russia, experts believe that the Administration of US President Donald Trump will take more steps to quit the United Nations’ bodies, Nezavisimaya writes. Over the past few months, the United States has criticized the Council on numerous occasions accusing it, in particular, of bias against the US and Israel. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley who announced the recent withdrawal earlier this week, said in 2017 that the Human Rights Council should not include states where human rights violations are regular.
Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy Fyodor Lukyanov considers the move to be a symbolic gesture, and expects no implications. "Trump’s approach to the United Nations is well-known: he thinks it is empty talk, which is a traditional take of hard-right Republicans. It is even more obvious with regard to the Human Rights Council, which criticizes Israel. The US has demonstrated its view. For the rest it is a perfect opportunity to seek propaganda advantage of it, saying - look at the US, it does not care," he told the newspaper. "There is a trend of deteriorating efficiency of institutions, but the UN Human Rights Council is not nearly a framework global organization. Speaking generally about the UN, I do not rule out that Trump will expand this policy to other bodies," the expert added.
Associate Professor of the European Law Department at Moscow's MGIMO university of foreign relations Nikolai Topornin shares the view that the recent development will have no substantial consequences. "This particular UN body does not possess sufficient authority and expertise to solve any serious global issues. It mainly states a situation, offers solutions, and can submit the issue for the UN Security Council discussion. It has not showed up for any big gains. And this is not the first time that the US claims its opposition to the Human Rights Council’s position," he explained.
As Russia and Saudi Arabia plan to propose a crude production increase of 1.5 mln barrels per day for stabilizing output and bring the market to balance, Russian oil companies support the trend and are ready to contribute to the boost, Izvestia says. "There are various outlooks on oil demand. We assume that it will be going up, and we are eager to reach growth rates outpacing this rise," Chief Executive Officer of Russian oil producer Gazprom Neft Alexander Dyukov told the paper. He added that the company might raise production by 1-1.5% if the demand adds half a percent.
CEO of another Russian oil company RussNeft, Evgeny Tolochek, told Izvestia that the growing demand for oil after 2020 is possible in the short term, which is primary related to the fact that alternative fuel cannot fully satisfy the additional demand for energy resources. He also expects local oil producers to join the trend, boosting reserves and thus, crude production. RussNeft’s strategy stipulates that output will be raised from the current 7 mln to 9 mln tonnes by 2020. However, there are companies with more modest production plans for the next 5-10 years, including Lukoil and Surgutneftegaz, the publication says.
On June 22-23, OPEC and 11 independent oil-exporting countries, including Russia that entered into the so-called OPEC+ agreement to reduce oil production at the end of 2016, will meet in Vienna to discuss options for further implementation of the deal, which is aimed at reducing global oil reserves to five-year average levels.
According to the agreement, during the first half of 2017, the participants had to withdraw 1.8 mln barrels per day from the oil market against the level of October 2016. Russia pledged to reduce oil production by 300,000 barrels per day. Experts polled by Izvestia do not expect the planned increase of quotas to play a pivotal role for oil producers that are currently facing technological challenges, Izvestia writes. Igor Yushkov, a leading expert at the National Energy Security Fund, explained that no big undeveloped assets are left in Russia, whereas accessible medium and small fields require a new tax regime and other terms for output increase.
Russia’s Economic Development Ministry submitted its proposals on the acceleration of economic growth and increase of investment share in GDP to 25% by 2024 to the government on Tuesday, June 19, Kommersant says. The ministry’s draft project that has three stages, is planned to be implemented by the end of 2019. Among measures envisioned for the first stage, which ends in December 2018, are establishment of the Development Fund, restrictions on state and municipalities’ purchases of shares in public companies and measures aimed at encouraging lending of small and mid-sized businesses.
The second stage of planned reforms covers the period between March and April of 2019, while the third stage focuses on the second half of 2019. Issues related to tariff regulations and its new concept are planned to be solved in two stages in June-December 2019, same as streamlining of non-tax payments.
Head of Russia’s Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin said earlier that the share of investments in Russia’s GDP was 21.9% in 2017 versus the target of 27% by 2018 set in 2012 May Decrees announced by President Vladimir Putin. The new decree dated May 7, 2018 sets the target of bringing the share of investments in Russia’s GDP to 25% by 2024.
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