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Press Review: EU discusses new policy towards US and jailed Russian pilot possible release

November 14, 2016, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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Konstantin Yaroshenko

Konstantin Yaroshenko

© Valery Matytsin/TASS


Izvestia: Trump may help bring back home jailed Russian pilot

Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who is serving his sentence in the Fort Dix penitentiary in the United States on drug smuggling charges, may be released shortly after US President-elect Donald Trump takes office, the Republican Party’s leadership told Izvestia.

In his speech shortly after the outcome of the November 8 presidential elections was announced, Trump said he wants "to get along with all nations willing to get along with us." The Republican Party told the paper that the consideration of the issue on returning Russians incarcerated in the US, including Yaroshenko, could be a step in normalizing ties with Moscow.

The party’s leadership informed the paper that the President-elect may consider this issue. However, the source said that it is a very complex process in the United States that could be opposed by Congress and the public. On the other hand, he noted that it is the president's exclusive right. The representative said Trump would reshuffle the US Department of Justice and the Prosecutor’s Office. The return of Russian prisoners to Russia may be discussed with the Russian side.

Yaroshenko is currently awaiting a decision on his request to be handed over to Russia by the US Department of Justice allowing him to serve out the sentence in his homeland under the 1983 Convention of the Council of Europe. Yaroshenko’s lawyer Alexei Tarasov told Izvestia that the review of the request usually takes some three months.

"We are waiting an answer from the US Department of Justice to Russia’s request. There is hope that the current US administration will agree to such a step. The truth is that now there are more chances that Konstantin will be released to Russia under President Donald Trump, if Obama fails to act. I don’t think the Republican will back the confrontation line," Tarasov said.


Media: EU scrambling to hammer out new policy towards US

Donald Trump’s election as the 45th President of the United States has led to a flurry of activity among Washington’s European allies, Kommersant writes. The outcome of the polls will become a key issue to be discussed at the two-day meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council and also at a joint meeting of foreign and defense ministers opening in Brussels on Monday.

Statements by the EU and NATO signal their determination to minimize the risks and avoid any drastic swings in relations with the US by achieving continuity in policy towards Russia, Iran and collective security.

Trump’s sensational victory forced the EU’s leadership to immediately revise its plans, schedule and format of cooperation between the leading European politicians and diplomats. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini voiced an initiative to arrange an informal dinner on Sunday bringing together the EU member-states’ top diplomats. The meeting, held behind closed doors, was aimed at launching joint efforts to prevent an unprecedented crisis in the relations with trans-Atlantic allies which is highly likely once the new White House administration gets down to business in January.

The leaders of 28 EU member-states will also gather in Brussels in mid-December to discuss the political agenda towards Russia given that there is no unanimity on the anti-Russian sanction issue, Izvestia writes. A source in the European Parliament told the paper the EU Council will suggest abandoning joint sanctions against Moscow, while those countries seeking to continue the anti-Russian restrictions will be able to initiate sanctions on an individual basis.


Izvestia: Washington covering up its terrorist footprints in Syria

Russia and Syria believe that Washington’s drive to eliminate the leadership of the Al-Nusra Front (terrorist group, outlawed in Russia) can be attributed to populist goals rather than combatting terrorism, Izvestia writes on Monday.

Moscow is ready to offer help to the US in this effort if it gets a respective request through military channels "as ultimately this complies with our goals in the fight against international terrorism," First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee on Defense and Security Frants Klintsevich told the paper.

The lawmaker said by calling to destroy the Al-Nusra leaders the current US administration seeks to reduce any possible blowback as Washington’s "intense work" with the terrorist organizations may be revealed to the public. Russia is not bothered by the populist goals of the Obama administration that wants to whitewash itself as in this case cooperation with Washington will help Moscow to achieve certain results, he added.

Meanwhile, Syria has rejected the possibility of cooperation with the Americans. "We are convinced that the US created IS (Islamic State, terrorist group banned in Russia), Jabhat Al-Nusra (terror group, outlawed in Russia) and other groups, while financing and providing them with weapons either by itself or through its allies. That’s why it is difficult to imagine that now Washington plans to destroy its brainchild," said Sadji Taama, a member of the Syrian Parliament’s Committee on Inter-Arab and International Relations and a representative of the ruling Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party.

The lawmaker said that only those militant leaders who are no longer subordinated to Washington may be subjected to attacks. "That’s why it is difficult to imagine that the Syrian leadership will start supporting the Americans. We presume that the US sparked the war against Damascus with the goal of destroying the Syrian state, so there can be no talk about any cooperation given the current conditions."


RBC: Russia boosts exports of non-energy goods for first time since 2014

Russia’s exports of non-oil and gas goods showed growth for the first time in two years, according to the Russian Export Center, which analyzed the figures furnished by the Federal Customs Service, RBC business daily writes.

Russia’s non-energy exports grew 1.6% compared with Q3 2015, reaching $27.7 bln. The growth was recorded after a continued slide over the past seven quarters. The share of non-raw materials in Russia’s overall exports in Q3 2016 accounted for around 39%.

In general, Russia’s exports in January-August dropped 25%, according to the Russian Federal State Statistics Service. Oil, oil products and natural gas still remain the primary goods exported by Russia, the Russian Export Center says.

China is the leading destination of Russia’s non-energy exports, with its share reaching 7.2% by this past September, followed by Kazakhstan.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Ukraine to exit CIS without ever joining it

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has recorded a draft regulation stating that Kiev plans to withdraw from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose alliance of former Soviet republics, Nezavisimaya Gazeta says.

Ukraine has never been a full-fledged member of the Commonwealth and therefore the calls to withdraw from the bloc voiced since 2006 stir up confusion, the paper writes. The MPs suggest holding a vote on a regulation "On the legal status of Ukraine in the CIS."

Until now, economic ties were the main link between Ukraine and the CIS, experts said. Over the past years, Ukraine’s trade with Russia has been falling while new restrictions introduced by Moscow against Kiev create problems for other CIS countries, Veronika Movchan, who heads the Center for Economic Studies of the Institute of Economic Research and Political Consultations, told Glavkom newspaper.

Russia is not planning to drop its tough line until Ukraine revises its foreign policy strategy, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Yelena Dyachenko, Director of the Party of Power consulting company, recalled that the only document signed and ratified by Ukraine is the December 1991 Treaty on the Establishment of the CIS. Denunciating the document amounts to recognizing that the Soviet Union’s collapse was illegal, she said.

Some experts in Kiev take note of another danger: the Ukrainian parliament’s decision could further jeopardize relations between Ukraine and Russia, which might even go as far as severing diplomatic ties.


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