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Press review: Trump not giving Kiev 'money for nothing' and UN picks counterterror chief

June 22, 2017, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, June 22

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US President Donald Trump, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Vice President Mike Pence

US President Donald Trump, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Vice President Mike Pence

© EPA/Olivier Douliery/POOL

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US urges Kiev to start direct dialogue with Moscow

Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko wrapped up his visit to Washington, where he was rushing to prepare as much as possible for July’s G20 summit with the ultimate goal of ensuring that the Western leaders recognize the conflict in Donbass as "Russian armed aggression." However, the position of US President Donald Trump was not fully clarified after the meeting. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, it might be defined after the upcoming meeting between the American and Russian presidents.

Trump and Poroshenko discussed a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine’s southeast, as well as the Ukrainian leader’s reform program and efforts to combat corruption. However, experts in Kiev interviewed by the newspaper believe that the US administration is interested in the development and prosperity of Ukraine, not for the sake of the country itself, but in the context of American interests.

"Trump is a practical person, a businessman. He is not going to give gifts. If he invests something in a matter, he expects something in return," a source told Nezavisimaya Gazeta, adding that supporting Ukraine might be a link in a long chain of American decisions aimed at achieving a certain global outcome. "The ultimate goal may be to reach an agreement with Russia. However, for this Americans would probably have to contribute to improving the economic situation in Ukraine," the source added.

An informed source told the newspaper, "For the Trump administration, Poroshenko is not a "fosterling" to be "nurtured", but a cog in the machine of American interests, which is obliged to work properly or be replaced." The economic situation in Ukraine depends on the successful and honest work of the Ukrainian government, and a quick and peaceful resolution to the conflict in Donbass and on the economic situation. "To settle the conflict means to find a common language with Russia, which in turn would solve a lot of problems in the world and specifically in Europe. This is a task for the leadership of a superpower, not dealing with Poroshenko’s problems," the source said.

“Following the results of the meeting between the American president with (his) Ukrainian (counterpart), this forecast seems realistic. Washington does not intend to spend time on one of the elements of the strategic foreign policy plans - instead it may be suggested to the leadership of Ukraine and Russia to sit down at the negotiating table," Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.


Kommersant: Russian diplomat named to head new UN counterterrorism office

Veteran Russian diplomat Vladimir Voronkov was appointed to head the UN’s new counterterrorism office, which will be a key post in the organization. According to Kommersant's sources, the appointment was decided on June 20, when the Russian envoy held a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York.

Since 2011, Voronkov had worked as the Russian Federation's permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna. Earlier, the candidacy of Russia's ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak was put forward, but difficulties in his nomination arose due to the 2016 US Presidential election controversy with his alleged involvement. Also, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov responsible for relations with the United Nations was considered for the post.

"We have very important and difficult work ahead of us. Terrorism is a global threat affecting every country. The answer to this threat should be global and consolidated. We will work on this," Vladimir Voronkov told Kommersant immediately after his appointment.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Kommersant that the status of the Head of the Counterterrorism Office will be on par with the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. "The appointment of Vladimir Voronkov for this post means that Russia for the first time will have such a high-ranking representative in the United Nations system," the newspaper wrote.

Antonio Guterres first unveiled the idea of creating this new department in the UN structure in late April to the participants of an international conference hosted by the Russian Ministry of Defense.


Izvestia: Russia’s Economic Development Ministry to formulate new utility rate policy

The Russian Ministry of Economic Development has started putting together a tariff strategy document entitled "Unified Trajectories for Tariff Policy," a federal official and a source close to the work on the document told Izvestia. Presumably, the report will help state monopolies build their business strategies more accurately. Currently companies are in the dark on how tariffs will change in the coming years.

The ministry has long advocated long-term rate setting - for five years or more (currently the Federal Antimonopoly Service sets tariffs once a year). The ministry, however, believes that this will make it possible for companies to grasp the "rules of the game" for several years ahead and to implement more long-term projects with foreign investment.

In order to fine-tune the rate setting process, the ministry plans to hammer out the new report before the end of the year, the federal official told Izvestia. The written guidelines will be developed for the medium and long term, and will be updated once a year.

"There are basic directions for monetary policy (the key document of the Central Bank) now there will be guidelines for the tariff policy that will lay down all the basic principles for setting tariffs," the source told Izvestia.


Izvestia: Russians believe in their army, not in war

More than half of Russians (53%) believe there is no military threat looming over the country, 54% expect any conceivable conflict to be a local one. At the same time, 50% do not doubt the combat effectiveness of the nation’s armed forces, according to an opinion poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center available to Izvestia.

According to the Center, the ‘military threat’ index in June decreased compared to previous indicators. Therefore, in June 2017, the number of people who do not rule out the possibility of an external attack against Russia has declined to 38%, according to the poll. Among the respondents who believe in the possibility of a military invasion, 45% believe that this will be a "rather small, local conflict". Meanwhile, 41% of those polled, on the contrary, do not doubt that a confrontation could be a "global attack across borders."

Konstantin Kalachev, Head of the Political Expert Group, told the newspaper, he is convinced that trust and respect for the armed forces in recent years has improved due to the change of the defense minister and an active information campaign about the ministry’s activities.

At the same time, according to him, Russians do not believe in the possibility of an armed conflict, because they do not want to believe in it. "There are things that if you believed in them, you would not want to live any longer. Even those who are anxious, reject it. They are afraid of this, but they do not want to admit it, this is the workings of psychological defense," Kalachev explained.

"Today, the estimates of a possible threat have dropped to a fairly calm level seen back in 2009. This is happening against the backdrop of our fellow citizens’ growing confidence that the Russian Armed Forces would be able to protect the country from any attack," Head of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center Konstantin Abramov told Izvestia.


Kommersant: Kaspersky CEO: Company plagued by stigma of “Russian hackers” label

Kaspersky Lab, the Russian multinational cyber security and anti-virus provider headquartered in Moscow, has been dragged into an international quandary in recent months after one of its employees was arrested on suspicion of treason along with a number of Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers. Yevgeny Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab talked to Kommersant about the scandal’s aftermath and cyber security in Russia and around the world.

According to Kaspersky, the incident hardly disturbed the company's reputation and sales. “It probably had some effect, but we did not feel much impact. We do not know what really happened, and I do not rule out that we will ever know. There are different versions of the events in the press. This is the information I use in order to try to get the full picture, but so far it does not really come together,” he told the newspaper.

Replying to a question on the company’s overseas business amid the alleged "Russian hackers" scandal, Kaspersky said that everything depends on the region. "In North America, the state sector and large enterprises have a very conservative attitude to all foreign IT companies. That is, they have import substitution - this is not only a slogan, like ours, the entire system was initially built this way. Therefore, we have very little chance of getting any market share in North America," he emphasized.

"There are no such barriers in the rest of the world. We have always lived with this notion of Russian hackers. It was never easy to be a Russian company on foreign markets," Kaspersky noted, adding that the situation makes the company "stronger, smarter, sharper and more inventive, so it makes everything even more interesting."

Kaspersky thinks it is quite possible that the hypothetical third world war might be in cyberspace, however he hopes that cyber weapons will never be used by one state against another. "The problem with cyber weapons is that it is all software and knowledge, and if it falls into the wrong hands, it can be copied and modified. My favorite example: even with a cruise missile on hand, few states can copy it. Having a sample of a cyber weapon, any state would be able to hire hackers who can create an analogue. This is the greatest danger," Kaspersky told Kommersant.



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