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In addition to being a founding member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China’s good neighbor, Russia is a reliable partner and a loyal friend, Chinese Ambassador to Russia, Li Hui, said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta in the run-up to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow.
"Over the past two years after signing the Joint Statement on Cooperation in Integrating the Construction of the One Belt, One Road project and the Eurasian Economic Union, the parties have achieved positive results by collaborating in trade, economy, energy, infrastructure, finance, aviation, humanitarian and other areas," the ambassador said. "That played an important role in deepening bilateral business cooperation and facilitating the development of the Eurasian region."
According to the envoy, the Chinese leader’s upcoming visit to Russia will be a very important event for bilateral relations, which will attract a lot of attention from the global community. He noted that this will be the third meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin this year following their meetings at the One Belt and One Road forum and the SCO summit in Astana.
Li Hui noted that “amid the complex and volatile international situation and the global economy's slow recovery… this visit will provide a fresh impetus to high-level Russian-Chinese relations presenting new opportunities for the development of regional economic integration.”
The Russian and Chinese economies have a very high complementarity and significant cooperation potential, the ambassador told the paper. "China has been Russia’s largest trading partner over the past six years. For its part, Russia is one of China’s main sources of energy imports along with electromechanical and high-tech products," he said, adding that the two countries’ bilateral trade reached 223.1 billion yuan ($32.8 bln) in the first five months of this year, which is a 33.7% increase compared to the same period last year.
Moscow has come up with its own ‘roadmap’ outlining a de-escalation of the conflict on the Korean Peninsula, which anticipates a step-by-step mutual renunciation of threats and provocations by North Korea and the US, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported on Tuesday. The plan was framed with Beijing's standpoint in mind, ahead of the Chinese leader's official visit to Russia in early July. The initiative is in fact a response to the self-asserting policy pursued by US President Trump who made Pyongyang one of his primary targets, Kommersant writes.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov made it clear on Tuesday that Russia’s initiative on North Korea is close to the one put forward by China, adding that Moscow supports Beijing’s proposals. The two countries will be able to ‘synchronize watches’ on the issue on July 3 when Chinese President Xi Jinping will begin his official visit to Russia.
However, the proposed initiative is unlikely change the situation dramatically, according to Georgy Toloraya, Director of the Asian Strategy Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Economics. "To make sure that the roadmap works, it has to be ‘sold’ to Washington, specifically, to Donald Trump," he told Kommersant. According to the expert, Russian President Vladimir Putin who will meet with his US counterpart at the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 7 or on July 8 has a chance to convince the latter of the need for de-escalation under the Russian scenario. "However, the proposal will later be submitted to the US Congress, which is strongly opposed to any conciliatory initiatives on North Korea," Toloraya explained.
Turkey is poised to conduct a new large-scale military operation in northern Syria to thwart the creation of a Kurdish state in the region, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, replying to a question from an Izvestia correspondent after a meeting with Syrian refugees in the city of Harran in Turkey’s southeast.
"Adverse developments are currently unfolding in Syria. Should this threaten our borders, we will retaliate in the same way we did during Operation Euphrates Shield," the Turkish leader warned.
He added that Ankara earlier expressed its willingness to liberate Syria’s Manbij and Raqqa from Islamist radicals, but his Western partners in the US-led coalition preferred to rely on Kurdish units.
Erdogan’s statement raises concerns both for Moscow and Washington. A source in Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) told Izvestia that a new potential conflict in Syria runs counter to Russia’s interests and the fight against the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia), adding that Moscow will do its utmost to stop Ankara from embarking on ill-judged actions. A source in the US-led anti-IS coalition likewise confirmed in an interview with the paper that the fight against the jihadist threat currently trumps all other disagreements.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Avatkov, Director of the Center for Oriental Studies, stated in an interview with Izvestia that a new Turkish military operation in northern Syria cannot be ruled out, adding that it is essential to consider the international political aspect of the problem.
"Close cooperation between the Americans and the Kurds is a serious thorn in Ankara’s side," the expert noted. "Erdogan’s warnings are heard increasingly more often, and they should be taken seriously, especially in light of Turkey’s threats to review its relations with NATO."
India, a member of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which has recently become a full-fledged participant in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), is trying to distance itself from the standoff between the West and the "non-Western world" led by Russia and China, Kommersant writes. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States, the first since the Trump administration entered the White House, took place hot on the heels of his trip to the post-Soviet space, which strengthened New Delhi’s "Eurasian vector" of its foreign policy.
After visiting St. Petersburg where he was one of the main guests at the International Economic Forum and held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Modi travelled to Astana to take part in the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The meeting in the capital of Kazakhstan was particularly important for New Delhi, as India wrapped up the process of joining the SCO, which took 12 years.
According to Tatyana Shaumyan, Head of the Center for Indian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, walking a tightrope between the US, Russia and China requires considerable efforts on the part of India. "Donald Trump and Narendra Modi belong to the same category of politicians. They are pragmatists and nationalists placing their countries’ interests above everything else. However, although Trump and Modi profess the same values in international politics, it is not as easy for them to find a common language as it may seem after their statements in the White House. After all, each of them is struggling for their own national interests," the expert explained in an interview with the paper.
According to Shaumyan, despite the rapprochement between the US and India, New Delhi cannot fail to take into account the fact that it will affect relations with Moscow and Beijing. "India cannot cultivate the American trajectory of its foreign policy to the detriment of the Russian and Chinese ones. The role of deterring China and Russia, which the US could offer India, would not suit it," she emphasized.
While Russia is hosting the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup demonstrating its readiness to host the world’s most prestigious international tournament, the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Ukraine is mulling over the idea of refusing to take part in its final, Izvestia writes.
According to the information obtained by the paper, Ukrainian officials and national team top managers are discussing the idea of renouncing their participation in the final part of the 2018 World Cup, even if the Ukrainian team is qualified for the tournament.
"Ukraine wants to refuse to take part in the mundial," a high-ranking source in the Ukrainian Football Federation informed the paper. "At the same time, the authorities want the national team to successfully qualify for it and boycott the tournament. Ukraine expects other countries to follow suit. This idea has been supported at the government level. However, the federation fears FIFA’s possible sanctions against the national squad, so a final decision on boycotting the tournament has not been made yet."
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s proposal to boycott the 2018 World Cup is viewed ironically in Russia. Nikita Simonyan, First Vice-President of the Russian Football Union (RFU), remains confident that the upcoming tournament in Russia will not lose its luster because of the potential absence of the Ukrainian team.
"I personally see no problem whatsoever here," Simonyan said in an interview with Izvestia. "The World Cup in our country will definitely do without the participation of the Ukrainian team. I can reply to the Ukrainian side by citing a quote attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, "From the sublime to the ridiculous there is but one step."
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