Russian and US Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, may finally meet for the first time in late May, Kommersant writes citing its sources in the two countries’ government agencies. The meeting could be held prior to the Hamburg-hosted G20 summit set for July. According to some well-informed sources, Moscow and Washington are in talks on organizing the Russian-US summit in a European country.
A source in Moscow told the paper that, despite any difficulties in relations between Russia and the US, contacts between the Kremlin and the White House on the date and place of the Putin-Trump meeting “have never stopped.” The negotiation process was affected by neither US sanctions against Russia nor the Pentagon’s missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat airbase.
According to Andrey Sushentsov, Program Director at the Valdai Club, “an opinion on the Trump administration is gradually taking shape in Russia, and so far Moscow is rather cautious.” “The strike on Syria has shown that the White House is ready to experiment and sacrifice relations with important partners for the sake of domestic political aims,” he said.
“This feature is typical of all US administrations, and this is very frustrating for Moscow. A personal meeting between the two leaders would not be able to iron out the situation, if during the course of the talks, the US stated it would refuse to take other countries’ interests into consideration in the future.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with Kommersant, Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, said that “during their first meeting, the Russian and US presidents are unlikely to discuss a large number of specific issues.” “First of all, the two leaders need to send a clear signal to bureaucratic structures in both Moscow and Washington on the need to end the war of words and gestures and finally start work on finding areas of common interest,” he explained. Without that, it will be impossible to break the impasse in bilateral relations, the expert added.
Stereotypes continue to be the main stumbling block to stamping out corruption, Anatoly Golubev, the newly-appointed Eurasian Commissioner for anti-corruption issues at the Eurasian Economic Cooperation Organization, said in an interview with Izvestia.
“Today, the fight against corruption, as a rule, boils down to evaluating its level, discussing the backlash and condemning corrupt officials. Criticism of certain inevitable mistakes made by the authorities in combatting graft is important, of course. However, it should not be the only form of interaction between the government and society in this area. Moving from confrontation to cooperation is the basis of any healthy endeavor,” he elaborated.
When asked about the reason for creating the position of Commissioner for Combating Corruption, Golubev noted that the existing approach towards promoting the United Nations Convention against Corruption required a certain adjustment. “First of all, it should focus on getting the widest possible groups of society and businesses involved in this process worldwide. None of the social forces alone can achieve decisive success in the fight against corruption. Experience shows that consolidation and coordination of anti-corruption efforts by even a handful of organizations creates a powerful synergy,” he said.
According to Golubev, the issue is extensively being used by politicians and intelligence services as a tool to beat competitors among some governments. “A vivid example to this effect is the Middle East and Ukraine. The analysis of the rhetoric by non-systemic opposition leaders in various countries shows that this scenario is highly likely to be used in the Eurasian community,” he warned.
The envoy added that graft had become global, and so far one cannot talk either about celebrating a victory over corruption or about its noticeable decrease. A major reason for that is somewhat neither inaction, nor national governments, nor their errors but an acute lack of conscious support for this policy by society and the private sector.
Chances are slim that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be able to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to soften his stance on the South Kuril Islands during his visit to Moscow on Thursday, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. That’s why the Japanese premier will focus on joint economic cooperation there and visits by Japanese nationals to the islands. Tokyo assumes that this would pave the way to ceding them to Japan in the future. Moscow, however, is interested in its neighbor’s involvement in developing Russia’s Far East.
Viktor Pavlyatenko, a leading research fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said in an interview with the paper that the text of the Russian-Japanese peace treaty had practically been drafted. However, disagreements over several border-related provisions are holding back its signing.
He noted that the agenda of the Moscow talks could be divided into two parts – bilateral and international. “At the bilateral level, I believe the talks will focus on oil and gas. The construction of the Sakhalin-Japan pipeline has been discussed for a long time. But are the Japanese really willing to implement this project? For that matter, Japan and China are competing with each other over the construction of an LNG plant in Malaysia,” he said.
“As for joint activities on the Kuril Islands, I see no progress at all here. The only thing that is likely to happen is the opening of an airline route connecting Japan and the Kuril Islands (Kunashir and Iturup) as part of the humanitarian project on visits to former Japanese citizens’ burial sites by their relatives,” the expert explained.
He added that North Korea will certainly be discussed among other international issues. “Japan fears that North Korea has made progress in building rocket engines. Tokyo wants Russia to be involved in the settlement. It takes advantage of Moscow’s ambitions saying that Russia is an important force along with China. That’s why Moscow should help stabilize the situation,” Pavlyatenko emphasized.
NATO’s decision to freeze cooperation with Russia in the war on terror was a huge blunder, Russian Permanent Representative to the alliance, Alexander Grushko, told Izvestia. In particular, the joint Stand-off Detection of Explosives (STANDEX) program capable of detecting suicide attacks developed by Russian experts in collaboration with their NATO counterparts a few years ago could have saved many lives and may have prevented numerous terrorist attacks in large European cities, including St. Petersburg, he said.
“The system was developed primarily to protect people at transportation facilities, critical infrastructure and places of mass gathering. Looking back at all those tragedies that occurred in St. Petersburg, Brussels and other cities, you realize how fatal that decision was. The issue at hand is the lives that were saved and those that weren’t. NATO thus not only undermines pan-European security, but weakens regional security and also significantly harms the safety of its citizens,” he emphasized.
Dmitry Danilov, Head of the European Security Department at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe, told the paper that NATO is still undecided on the prospects for practical contacts with Moscow. “STANDEX could be cited as an example of practical cooperation, which should go on despite any political crises. STANDEX is not a panacea but a very illustrative example,” he said.
The Safe Internet League receives more than 100 complaints daily about content that is dangerous for children, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes. The participants in the 8th Safer Internet Forum that opened in Moscow discussed the issue of blocking all dangerous on-line resources and the feasibility of strict prohibitions.
“It is not enough to just teach children how to use the Internet safely,” the paper quotes Russian Presidential Aide Igor Shchyogolev as saying. “Malicious content spreads too fast. Therefore, the government should support the initiative to block such material.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Head of Russia’s communications watchdog Vadim Subbotin assured the public that the government today has all the necessary mechanisms that allow it to swiftly block dangerous websites. Besides, in January, Russia introduced a 24-hour monitoring system of social networks.
“Nearly 9,000 accounts and personal pages of users drawing teenagers into suicide games have been blocked this year with the assistance of Russia’s social networks,” he noted.
Safe Internet League Director Denis Davydov added that so far the round-the-clock monitoring is conducted by the government and volunteers, while the social networks themselves prefer to respond to complaints rather than staying one step ahead.
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