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As the Iraqi government army mounts an offensive on Mosul, held by terrorists since June 2014 and considered to be the capital of the Islamic State (IS, terrorist organization banned in Russia), warnings are arising that much time and effort will be needed to retake the city. Also, if the operation to free Mosul (with a population of over 500,000 from the Islamic State) turns out to be a success, it will destroy terrorists’ base in Iraq, but it may lead to a new wave of refugees.
Alexander Shumilin, Director of the Center for Middle East Conflict Analysts at the Institute of the US and Canadian Studies told RBC newspaper that "the capture of Mosul will seriously diminish IS’ presence in Iraq and may become a watershed moment in the anti-terror campaign. According to Vladimir Sotnikov, a senior researcher with the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and director of the Russia - East - West Strategic Research and Analysis Center, "the operation is unique and has been prepared by all sides for a long time." "If the Iraqi forces get closer to the city and street clashes begin, the chances for success will increase," he stressed.
However, Boris Dolgov, an expert at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is more skeptical about the outcome of the operation. Dolgov explained to Nezavisimaya Gazeta that even if the city is retaken IS (terrorist organization banned in Russia) would not be utterly defeated, whereas Mosul would remain an important territory for the insurgents. He noted that financial support for IS goes through Mosul. Terrorists had also seized the Iraqi army’s military warehouses there. "If street fighting starts in Mosul the operation will linger on, and in this case aviation and heavy armor should not be used," Dolgov said, adding that "militants are likely to use civilians as human shields."
Concerns about the US global ballistic missile defense (BMD) system on the Korean Peninsula has pushed Moscow and Beijing a step closer to decide on launching joint military drills, which would include anti-missile exercises, on a perpetual basis, Izvestia writes on Tuesday. A source in the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry told the newspaper that the decision to carry out anti-missile exercises on a regular basis was made after the two countries had their first successful computer-assisted command-staff exercise on anti-missile defense in May 2016. The Russian and Chinese foreign ministries say the exercises are not aimed at any third country. However, the Beijing source told the newspaper that the danger of tensions escalating looms on the Korean Peninsula, with Washington being the primary threat.
According to Director General of the Department of European-Central Asian Affairs of China’s Foreign Ministry, Gui Congyou, the mutual exercise was planned back in 2011 as it was agreed by Vladimir Putin, who was then Russia’s Prime Minister, and China’s President Xi Jinping. In September, a joint exercise was carried out in the South China Sea by Russia and China, which will be continued further on in order to maintain military cooperation between Moscow and Beijing, Congyou told Izvestia. He added that "if certain countries assume this kind of cooperation between Moscow and Beijing is directed against them, this only means that they themselves have malicious intentions."
Speaking about the agreement between the United States and South Korea on the THAAD anti-missile complex on the Korean Peninsula for potential protection from the North Korean threat, Gui Congyou said that both Russia and China are concerned that the system would not facilitate de-escalation of tensions in the area and undermine their security. "Regarding the issue of the US’ BMDs in Europe and the Asian-Pacific region, I can say that China and Russia have similar positions that this sort of action by the United States only shatters the strategic stability in the world and deepen tensions. We’re absolutely against it," he said.
Another round of sanctions against Russia to be considered at the upcoming EU summit in Brussels on October 20-21, possibly affecting some areas of military-industrial complex and aircraft manufacturing, will hurt European aircraft makers themselves. According to a source in one of Russia’s defense corporations speaking with Izvestia daily, European airline manufacturers cannot operate without Russia’s titanium supplies.
"At present only one company in the world - Russia’s VSMPO-Avisma Corporation - produces titanium parts without which the construction of airplanes made of carbon fiber composite materials is impossible," the source said, adding that the materials have less weight than aircraft-grade aluminum and are more resistant. Moreover, they are used for constructing Boeing-787s, Dreamliner, Boeing-747-8s, Airbus A-350s and A-380s. "The Russian company cooperates with both Boeing and Airbus, and all titanium parts in their airplanes are of Russian origin," the source added.
So far, Moscow is not considering reciprocal measures since it does not see economic sanctions as an efficient instrument of ironing out differences, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma’s (lower house of parliament) International Affairs Committee Aleksey Chepa told Izvestia. "All sanctions imposed against any country are counterproductive. I do not think that a new package of sanctions will affect aircraft manufacturing or the military-industrial complex, as western countries purchase both titanium and aluminum from Russia. I’m confident that the companies that have been cooperating with us for many years, will continue doing so as sanctions batter not only our economy but western companies and the EU’s economy as well," he explained.
The Platon system of charging fees for trucks and other long-haul vehicles is now yielding results despite the uproar against it earlier this year, Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy for Environmental Activity, Ecology and Transport Sergey Ivanov said in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. According to the official, people now acknowledge its necessity. The truck toll scheme known as Platon is a system of fees for heavy trucks weighing in excess of 12 tonnes for using the federal roads has been in effect since November 15, 2015. The plan is to raise the rate in the future from the initial 1.53 rubles (roughly 4 US cents) per kilometer. The money is to be earmarked for road repairs.
"All developed countries have this kind of system. Now that the funds are there and are being spent on construction of bridges and junctions, they say, "yes, it looks fine," he said. Also, the official criticized manufacturers for not properly using the existing road network. "Until recently there was no fee for using roads for consumers. As a result, we had a situation when manufacturers transported coal and metals on small distances - of 500 kilometers - on long-haul vehicles instead of using railroads. What will the condition of the roads be, if we are going to have 60-tonne trucks on them," he told the newspaper.
According to Ivanov, high-quality highways are being constructed in Russia now, though most of them are federal highways, which have required trillions of rubles of investment over the past years. "However, the regional and municipal road network is a mess. Of course, they lack funds," he said, adding that he does not expect sufficient funds to be invested to provide "a totally free of charge road network" any time soon. Ivanov added that he sees no future for Russia without the development of the country’s transport infrastructure.
The Sreda Production company, founded by producer Alexander Tsekalo, has sold the rights to its TV series ‘Silver Spoon’ in what has become the first transaction between the global streaming service and a Russian film producer on worldwide, readymade video on demand basis, RBC business daily writes. The series will be available on Netflix in autumn 2016, the newspaper says.
Alexander Tsekalo told RBC that "the series had been sold at the international market price." "The deal makes me proud of the results of my own work and encourages to produce high-quality series," he added. Also, he said, the talks on potential purchases of some other series produced by Sreda, are currently underway.
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