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Press review: Experts fear more terror plots and defense ‘intelligence’ sharpens military

April 06, 2017, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, April 6

1 pages in this article
© Peter Kovalev/TASS

Izvestia: Experts see subway blast as symptom of mounting terrorist activity

Security services in St. Petersburg are gunning for anyone who in any way might be tied to Monday’s subway bombing. Terrorist organizations haven’t been going through their usual motions chiefly taking immediate responsibility for the bombing, which raises many questions. Anti-terror experts interviewed by Izvestia talked about why terror organizations still haven’t declared their involvement in the St. Petersburg metro blast.

A source in one of Russia’s intelligence agencies told the newspaper that if one responsible group openly took credit for the bombing, the terrorists’ chances for pulling off another attack would have fallen to zero, since security officials would have to concentrate all their energies on just one group. Now they have to check all problematic organizations that are not even directly related to terrorism. Thus, it could be assumed that the perpetrators of the St. Petersburg tragedy are planning other acts of terror.

"Usually, terrorists take responsibility, but not always in relation to Russia. This is due to the considerable autonomy of Russian terrorist organizations,” Roman Silantev, religious scholar and professor at the Moscow State Linguistic University told Izvestia.

In general, anti-terror experts have put forward three main versions of what happened in St. Petersburg - it could have been a lone-wolf religious fanatic, which would mean that the event is not systemic. It could also mark the beginning of a wave of terror against Russia. However, in this case, the attack would not have been a single one. However, based on the study of terrorist warfare in Syria and recent data, the third version appears to be most likely - the terror attack could have been a "reconnaissance move" or a "trial-run".

"We must all understand very clearly that the enemy is constantly and meticulously preparing for a terrorist attack in our country," Vasily Pavlov, a lieutenant colonel in the reserve of the Russian Armed Forces and a combat veteran, told the newspaper. “Terrorist preparatory activity has been steadily on the rise over the past years. Add a clear increase in the activity of terrorists in Russia and neighboring countries to the mix, and it becomes clear that the enemy does not joke around. The complexity of fighting terrorism lies in the fact that it is impossible to reliably determine how many sleeper cells are in the country,” he added.

According to the newspaper, the terrorists’ recruitment process is similar to the network marketing model, which is conducted both online and offline.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Structural reforms talk replaces actual GDP growth

The Moscow Exchange Forum 2017 has given a platform to incumbent and retired leaders of the economic bloc and the Russian Central Bank to talk about the necessary conditions for achieving high rates of economic growth, targeted by the president, However, according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta the speeches had no hint of any inclination to coordinate action for the sake of the country’s economic recovery.


According to the newspaper, the main speakers seemed to agree that the Russian economy has entered a phase of active growth, ushering in a new phase of the economic cycle. Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin talked about the importance of active private investment, Russia’s business climate, tax policy, the availability of infrastructure and skilled personnel as the key supporting factors for further economic growth. Sberbank head Herman Gref believes that changes in the management system are a key condition for bolstering the Russian economy. Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said that the Russian economy’s dependence on oil prices is low, since oil price surges to $60 per barrel provides only 1 percentage point to the GDP growth.

However, the theoretic nature of the structural reforms talks is becoming an object of criticism, the newspaper said. "Nobody denies the need for structural reforms. The problem is that they are turning into a fetish. We need to move now, we cannot wait. For example Oreshkin says: "Sustainable growth can be achieved only through active private investment, and we need to look for ways that would bring investment to a new level." “Who would argue with that? The business sector along with us can see these things. This is exactly what we propose," business ombudsman Boris Titov told Izvestia.

"The assessment of the state of the economy can be done from various angles and with a wide range of indicators, so it is not surprising that some speak about its growth, while others talk about a crisis," Kirikov Group managing partner Daniil Kirikov told the newspaper. “Talks about the need for structural reforms are frequent, but without anything concrete they have no practical meaning. Often, statements on structural reforms hide the reluctance to implement "non-structural" ones, that is, small but important transformations," he added.

"We cannot say that the economic bloc of the government and the Central Bank have not got a clear idea of what caused the crisis in the Russian economy. However, the actual problem is in overcoming this crisis,” the expert told Izvestia.


Izvestia: Russia’s Air Force receives new mobile anti-aircraft missile brigades

The Russian Aerospace Forces acquired new mobile anti-aircraft missile brigades, capable of covering hundreds of kilometers in a matter of hours, the Russian Air Force headquarters told Izvestia.

The new air defense units are armed with anti-aircraft missile systems S-300 and S-400, missile-gun complexes Pantsir and Nebo-M radar stations. The Russian Air Force headquarters told Izvestia that the 24th anti-aircraft missile brigade in Abakan became the first such military unit, another brigade is planned for deployment in the Far North.

Until recently, the country’s air defense regiments primarily carried out combat duty in places of permanent deployment and did not shift gears on its objectives. According to the newspaper, the new brigades will not only increase air defense mobility, but will also cut costs, as there will be no need to protect all targets with separate units.


Vedomosti: Artificial ‘Defense’ Intelligence as the military’s ‘industrial revolution’


The world faces a new industrial revolution and a transition to the "industry 4.0 regime" that can be primarily described by a proliferation of digitalization, artificial intelligence (AI), and ‘big data’. For Russia, the military industry complex is one of its key segments of industrial production and the most competitive globally. Strategy Partners Group partner Artem Malkov talked to Vedomosti about the essential future changes to the industry and the way the Russian defense industry can catch up with the new industrial revolution.  

According to the expert, the nature of future military conflicts will shift towards more and more integration on the battlefield by exchanging large amounts of data in real time over secure channels and in the future using AI to process information, analysis and draw conclusions. “The time when technology moved from the military to civilian industry is long gone - in recent decades, the trend has reversed,” the expert noted.

According to the newspaper, under these circumstances, large companies in the defense industry will have to change their business model towards offering integrated solutions for the military and closely-related civilian markets (for example, security systems). At the same time, the cost of the hardware itself and the individual parts will steadily decrease, while the integration fee, software components, and maintenance will increase.

Rostec has recently announced its transition from hardware to software. “It is important for Russian companies to develop a consistent plan of action and look for new approaches,” Vedomosti said. “It is critical for Russian defense companies to develop new directions of digitalization of their production through partnerships,” Malkov said. The new business model would require a number of changes in corporate culture, and demand new skills, such as programming, project management, launching and developing new businesses from scratch. “All these qualities can be found in private IT companies operating in the Russian economy, like Yandex, IBS and so on,” the expert added.  

“By combining the understanding of the military customer, competence in defense equipment along with programming skills and project management, one can get a new view of the Russian defense industry, which it certainly needs,” the newspaper said, adding that consolidation should the flexibility all parties involved to be retained.
“Without this breakthrough, our current leaders in the defense industry would not be able to reach the next technological level and at best would become niche hardware suppliers for integrated systems for future military operations,” Malkov concluded.

Kommersant: Rosneft to control 8 research and design institutes  

Rosneft acquired eight research and design institutes from Rosneftegaz. According to Kommersant, the Economic Development Ministry sent the corresponding draft decree coordinated with the Energy Ministry and Federal Agency for State Property Management to the Government at the end of March. The Government believes that it could help manage these assets more effectively, attract investment and prevent bankruptcy.

It is assumed that the project organizations will continue to provide services to both the state-owned company and other players in the Russian oil and gas sector. As part of the deal, Rosneft must keep all staff, but it can transfer them to other enterprises it owns, sources told Kommersant.

The exact transfer price is unknown - the experts interviewed by Kommersant failed to assess the value of the assets, citing the fact that the entire portfolio of their orders and the current financial condition are unclear. However, Asset Manager at Small Letters Vitaly Kryukov told the newspaper, that transferring the institutions to Rosneft seems logical as the company is their main customer anyway. The company will be able to develop the assets through integration in their scientific research management. For the institutions themselves, this will mean a more stable portfolio of orders and investments in modernization, the expert added. According to him, almost all large oil and gas companies have in their structure a set of design institutes that know all the specifics of working with that company. 

TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in the press reviews

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