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Moscow awaits written explanations from the US Department of State regarding the steps Washington plans on taking to resolve the crisis regarding Russia’s diplomatic property in America, some sources in the Russian Foreign Ministry told Izvestia.
Access to two Russian-owned compounds was blocked by the Obama administration in 2016, and the diplomatic property has not been returned to Moscow to date. After waiting for six months, Russia laid out a list of tit-for-tat measures but decided to give US officials an opportunity to tackle the issue. If a solution is not found soon, the US Embassy’s compound and a warehouse in Moscow will be targeted by Russia’s countermeasures.
"If we are talking about retaliatory measures in response to illegal actions, I believe it will be appropriate to respond with tit-for-tat measures, even if they run counter to the (Vienna) Convention (on diplomatic relations)," Chairman of Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev explained to Izvestia. "It is pointless to try to stay within the boundaries of international law when the Americans are violating it so blatantly despite the fact that they had six months to remedy the situation."
Yury Rogulyov, Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation for US Studies at the Moscow State University, stated in an interview with the paper that US President Donald Trump has not yet shaken off Barack Obama’s legacy. First of all, the problem is that over the past six months the US President and Secretary of State have failed to put together their team in its entirety. The White House and the Department of State lack responsible specialists who will oversee ties with Russia.
"The second reason is political. Whatever Trump does regarding relations with Russia, whether for better or for worse, will be used against him. Trump tries to put off these issues. And, thirdly, it is difficult to talk about concessions before the summit," the expert said.
In his view, any decision by the US leader in favor of Russia will be seen in Washington as weakness or, "still worse, as yielding to Moscow."
Germany fears that a trade war with the United States may be heating up, and Berlin can see the writing is on the wall, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
The situation reached a climax after US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross unexpectedly cancelled his visit to Germany where he was supposed to hold talks with Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Brigitte Zypries and meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The paper recalls that US President Donald Trump backs a policy of protectionism and opposes any dominance by foreign imports. The Trump administration accuses China and some European countries, above all Germany, of using unfair methods to achieve a positive balance in trade with the US. The White House occupant earlier criticized Germany for selling too many cars in the US and accused China and Germany of dumping steel on the American market.
It’s clear now that one of Washington’s arguments in resolving the trade imbalance issue will be an increase in LNG supplies, said Dmitry Lukashov, an analyst at IFC Markets. "However, in that case the US will have to solve the problem of domestic prices for such gas. At the moment its cost and prices in the hubs do not make it possible to sell it in Europe at a price commensurate with pipelines gas," the paper quotes him as saying.
“Pipeline gas will remain the main source of gas supplies, but it is necessary to brace for a surge in competition,” Alexey Mikheyev, Chairman of the Center for Innovative Business Development, warned.
A trade war between the US and the EU will not hold anything positive for Russia, according to Anna Bodrova, senior analyst at Alpari. "It is obvious that Russia’s energy interests will be affected too when the spheres of influence are redistributed," she said. "The issue at hand is supplies of LNG and other fuel to Europe. The loss of even some of this market would be a serious blow to the Russian economy."
Chinese President Xi Jinping will be arriving in Russia for an official visit on July 3. Efforts to step up economic cooperation will top the agenda of the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Chinese leader. According to the information obtained by Izvestia, which has been confirmed by some source in China’s business circles, the package of agreements that is expected to be signed includes a deal between the Rosneft oil company and China’s Beijing Gas worth $1.1 bln.
Although these major contracts set to be inked have already been prepared in advance, Beijing traditionally reports about them after official events. This time, however, China has gone against the grain and announced in advance that Russian and Chinese companies will sign several dozen agreements totaling $10 bln, the paper notes.
A Russian diplomatic source informed the paper that three political documents will be on the agenda, specifically, the Russia-China action plan in various areas of cooperation and two joint statements - on the international situation and the current state of bilateral cooperation. In addition, the two countries’ Foreign Ministries are expected to adopt a joint statement on the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
Minister Counselor of the Russian Embassy in China, Georgy Zinoviev, recalled in an interview with Izvestia that all of Vladimir Putin’s previous trips to China and Xi Jinping’s previous visit to Russia invariably ended with the signing of an impressive package of documents, both intergovernmental and interagency ones and corporate ones as well.
"There is every reason to believe that President Xi Jinping’s visit in July will not be an exception, and we can expect tangible results to be achieved," the diplomat emphasized.
The Iraqi army captured the now-infamous, but battle-ravaged mosque in the heart of Mosul, the de facto capital of the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia), where the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the "caliphate" in the summer of 2014, Iraqi TV reported on Thursday showing footage of the Iraqi flag raised over the mosque.
However, it may be too early to talk about the complete defeat of the Islamist group, Vedomosti writes.
The Iraqi command’s statement is a propaganda move to demonstrate the success of the Iraqi army and discredit IS as a global terrorist band, according to Anton Mardasov, an expert at the Institute for Innovative Development. In actual fact, Iraqi army units have advanced roughly 200 meters over the past 24 hours, gaining control over the ruins of the mosque that is symbolic for the "caliphate." Militants continue to control several neighborhoods, and the hostilities are likely to last for several more weeks, the paper quotes him as saying. The "caliphate" in Iraq will not vanish with the loss of Mosul, since the militants have both active and sleeper cells in Al Anbar, Diyala and Salah ad Din Governorates and in the Bahgdad Belt area, Mardasov went on to say.
Judging by the intercepted documents, the Islamic State’s command was ready for the loss of Mosul and other cities back in 2015, creating parallel governing bodies. In addition to that, there is a branched-out network of tunnels close to the Syrian-Iraqi border, which at some point was used by the al-Qaeda movement (outlawed in Russia) when driven out of Iraq’s cities.
The Islamic State expects dozens of experienced operatives and preachers relying on spy networks throughout Iraq and Syria, even in refugee camps, to wage guerrilla warfare. They are waiting for a chance to resurrect the organization in one form or another, the expert concluded.
Amid the Russian government’s plans to boost car exports, manufacturers regularly announce plans to enter new markets and organize assembly there. On Thursday, the GAZ Group, which manufactures and sells commercial vehicles, said it was launching supplies to Jordan, Kommersant writes. The first batch consists of just eight GAZelle Next vehicles. The group earlier announced plans to start assembly in Turkey, Iran, Vietnam and Egypt and expand supplies at the expense of new markets in Latin America.
The GAZ Group considers Jordan a strategically important market, as the country is an ‘entrance’ to the Middle East region. "We are closely looking into this market. It is important to understand what the potential customers think about our vehicles," the paper quotes Leonid Dolgov, Managing Director of GAZ International, as saying.
The manufacturer hopes that the GAZelle Next vehicles will be highly sought after abroad in the sectors of agriculture, tourism, construction and mining.
The company currently sells its vehicles to Nicaragua, Bolivia and Panama. In December 2016, it reported that a preliminary agreement had been reached on supplying 900 LiAZ buses to Iran. It also plans to resume manufacturing the GAZelle light commercial vehicles in Turkey and sell about 500 vehicles there.
Localizing production is a rather lengthy process, which includes the selection of a site, negotiations with the local authorities and other aspects, says Dmitry Babansky of SBC Consulting. Real results can be expected by 2019-2020. Prior to that, there will be pilot deliveries to test logistics and marketing channels, the paper quotes him as saying.
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