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Press review: Moscow doubts Trump's Arab NATO plan and Moldova deters Russian peacekeepers

May 31, 2017, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, May 31

1 pages in this article
US President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

US President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

© AP Photo/Evan Vucci


Izvestia: ‘Made in Russia’ brand to speak 11 languages

Russian goods will be promoted on foreign markets through international search engines in 11 languages, Izvestia writes on Wednesday citing the project’s general partner, the Roscongress Foundation, which already cooperates with Google, Yandex and China’s Baidu. Various goods ranging from foodstuffs, clothes, and footwear to cars will be promoted under the ‘Made in Russia’ export label. At present, information on Russian goods is available in Russian, English and Spanish. By the end of 2017, the website will be translated into Chinese and Hindi, and in 2018 into Portuguese, French, Arabic, Vietnamese, German and Malayan. Roscongress expects the project to be partly funded by the companies included in the catalogue on the ‘Made in Russia’ website.

Nicolas Koro, from the council of the Guild of Marketing Specialists, said this is a long-awaited project. The expert emphasized the importance of the brand being promoted in the languages of BRICS member-states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Marketing Director at Yegoryevsk Obuv Andrey Kapusta noted that Russian brands may become more attractive thanks to the promotion campaign, but more is needed to boost sales.

Izvestia earlier wrote that domestic goods under the ‘Made in Russia’ brand will be advertised on Euronews, Russia Today, and other international TV channels. Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade will earmark 370 million rubles ($6.5 mln) for the Russian Export Center for this goal this year.


Izvestia: Moscow casts doubt on Trump’s plans for Arab NATO

Moscow is skeptical about a strategy to cobble together a so-called Arab NATO, an alliance pushed by the United States as a counterbalance to Iran, Russian diplomatic sources told Izvestia. Experts note that efforts to consolidate Arab countries against Tehran could turn out to be an uphill battle due to the religious factor. Besides, the bloc’s military efficiency would be shaky.

Donald Trump’s plan to put together a new military and political alliance against Tehran is ambitious but should not be seriously considered, a Russian diplomatic source told the paper. “In fact, this is not an Arab NATO, but a Sunni NATO,” he said. “The problem is that most Arab countries, including those led by the Sunni regimes, also have a Shiite population. In this regard, any hostility involving military action against Iran, the stronghold of Shiism, may result in escalated tensions on the territory of certain countries, which are expected to join the military bloc.”

Yuri Zinin, a leading researcher at the Center for Partnership of Civilizations of Moscow-based MGIMO University, said the US gamble on a religious-based bloc raised serious doubts about the planned alliance. “This will be a Sunni military and political bloc. And it is set against the Shiites, which would lead to a split and growing contradictions. The situation itself looks like an attempt to use these contradictions to destabilize the situation in the region,” the expert explained.

Director of the Geneva-based Arab Center for Research and Analysis Riyad as-Saydaui told the paper that the new alliance only serves as a cover for fulfilling Washington’s goals. “The US has to sell arms and keep up tensions between the Saudis and their allies on the one hand and Tehran on the other. They succeeded here by intimidating Gulf monarchies using the Iranian threat. Donald Trump’s latest visit, during which multibillion arms deals were signed, confirmed this,” the expert emphasized.

However, the analyst noted that Saudi Arabia, which is expected to lead the alliance, is not efficient in military terms and this puts the prospects of an Arab NATO in doubt.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Moldova stonewalls Transnistria peacekeeping mission

Washington has demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Transnistria, a breakaway republic in Moldova bordering Ukraine, and promised to shell out $250 mln to Chisinau to counter Moscow’s influence, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Earlier this week, Moldova’s Foreign Ministry declared five Russian embassy staff members personae-non-grata.

Transnistria President Vadim Krasnoselsky told the paper that four of the five expelled diplomats are military attaches who took part in the work of the Joint Control Commission. He said the expulsion of the envoys is an attempt to disrupt the commission as a mechanism controlling the peacekeeping effort. Tiraspol has called the move a blow against Russia.

“This provocation is neither against (Moldovan President Igor) Dodon, like some media reports said, nor against the leadership of Transnistria, but against Russia,” he emphasized. “This mechanism of control has been blocked now. This is the major goal of Moldova’s demarche,” Transnistria’s leader pointed out.
Anatol Taranu, who heads the Chisinau-based Center for Strategic Studies and Political Consulting Politicon, noted that Moldovan-Russian relations may deteriorate if Moscow announces any retaliatory steps.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: France breaks ranks with US-led coalition

Paris has brought its positions on Syria closer to Russia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes, commenting on a statement by French President Emmanuel Macron after talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. France’s leader said that he insisted on a democratic transition but wants the Syrian state to be preserved. Macron’s statement mirrored Putin’s words at the same news conference, the paper writes. 

Macron is hinting that Paris is prepared to take a more flexible position on the current Syrian administration and possibly agrees with its participation in the political transition. This runs counter to Washington’s policy on Syria, which is similar to that of the Barack Obama administration during the last months of its work, the paper writes. 

The paper does not rule out that the new French leader is showing that Paris may have an independent role in Syria. France's Defense Minister Sylvie Goulard recently admitted that the country has special forces in Syria. France’s influence in the Kurdish zones is also well-known.

“This is a signal about the need for talks with Assad’s participation,” said Yevgenia Obichkina, a professor in the International Relations and Foreign Policy Department at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). “But at any moment this declaration may be retracted due to new claims against Assad.” The expert believes military provocations against Damascus may be on the horizon. 

“I have a feeling that Macron is putting forward several genuine proposals to tackle a whole range of crises,” said Obichkina. “He proposes a humanitarian forum to overcome the crisis between Russia and France. To solve the crisis in Ukraine, he is proposing that the Normandy Four convene and invite a team of OSCE experts there. To solve the Syrian issue, he suggests setting up a working group.”


Kommersant: Chinese investors to get the knack of Russia’s market in 10-15 years

Despite all state-level efforts, business communities in Russia and China have been unable to shake off mutual mistrust, according to politicians, experts and entrepreneurs who attended the third international conference "Russia and China: Taking on a New Quality of Bilateral Relations," Kommersant writes. Chinese investors still prefer to pour cash into Africa, Asia and Latin America as Russian business culture is "too specific" for them.

Vice President of China Gezhouba Group Corporation Xin Zhongyi declined to go into detail about the kind of specifics, but hoped that in 10 or 15 years the Chinese will be able to adapt to the Russian market. Most participants of the conference share the view that political cooperation between Russia and China is developing better than the economic trajectory.

Head of the Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center Alexander Gabuyev noted that the level of Russian and Chinese representation at these conferences shows that Moscow and Beijing value bilateral ties differently. "Russia usually sends leading and world-famous, globally-oriented scientists. For us, cooperation with China is a key issue of foreign policy strategy. China often sends very dignified experts but they specialize only in Russia," he said. "There is an impression that Beijing devotes an important but rather limited role for Russia in its plans."


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

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