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Russia’s new ambassador to Ankara, Alexey Yerkhov, who will assume his position as early as next week, will step up to the plate and take on the key issue of enhancing bilateral cooperation between the two countries. He also considers it possible to widen understanding in such areas as the Syrian crisis. "If you take a look at it from a macroeconomic viewpoint, I am confident that we have potential for finding ways to reach certain formulas on various issues, including the Syrian problem, formulas that could allow both sides to respect each other interests. We have to sit down and continue to negotiate," the diplomat said in an interview with Izvestia daily.
According to Yerkhov, who served as consul general in Turkey from 2009 to 2015, "Russia and Turkey are both partners, friends and neighbors." "We have no other choice since we live close to each other and are bound to negotiate. It is crucially important to us to have a dialogue and cooperate," he said, adding that Turkey is first of all interested in Russia’s gas and energy sources, which it lacks, "that’s why it is necessary to go ahead, clinch business deals and be ready to cooperate any time."
"It is impossible to hold the same views and opinions on everything, and this is hardly possible in relations between (foreign) governments. Each state has its national interests, which are reflected in its international and domestic policy. Which is why it is not right to expect us to have poignant solidarity on everything," the ambassador said. "My personal opinion is that if we have different perspectives on any matter, this serves as a reason for professionally-trained people to sit down from time to time and communicate, compare notes, and explain our approaches to each other," he added. "Regarding Syria, we are very closely communicating in very different areas now, and there is an understanding, which can be seen from the achievements in the Astana (peace) process. If I manage to contribute to widening this area of understanding, I would consider my role as ambassador to be quite successful," Yerkhov told Izvestia.
Moscow and Beijing are not going to support the new package of sanctions against Pyongyang at the upcoming UN vote, Izvestia writes with reference to a source in Russian diplomatic sources. The US-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution tightening sanctions against North Korea, is seen as a response to Pyongyang’s latest missile test. The proposed restrictions include an embargo on energy supplies to North Korea and a ban on employment of North Korean nationals abroad. According to the source interviewed by the newspaper, Russia has already taken its side on the issue and does not plan to support additional sanctions against Pyongyang.
On July 4, North Korean television announced the first successful launch of the Hwasong-14 ICBM. The missile reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers and flew 933 kilometers in 29 minutes, North Korean TV said. In turn, Russia and China came up with an alternative plan of settling the situation on the Korean Peninsula, which implies that Pyongyang freezes further missile and nuclear tests, while the United States and South Korea abandon military maneuvers around the Korean Peninsula. That being said, Washington has already rejected the plan.
However, it is unlikely the US-led resolution will be adopted within the United Nations, either. Dr. Yang Chen of Shanghai University told Izvestia that "China and Russia as North Korea’s neighbors are concerned that extra sanctions would lead to dire consequences not for the elite but for common people," he said, adding that Beijing "has already assumed that sanctions only play a supplementary role." Washington is not expecting its current resolution to be adopted at the UN Security Council, the publication says, as beyond restrictive measures against North Korea, the US suggests imposing unilateral secondary sanctions aimed at those having business ties with the North Korean regime, essentially meaning China and Russia.
Germany’s Siemens may face millions of euros in fines for violating western sanctions against Russia, Vedomosti writes with reference to Westside law firm, Sergei Vodolagin, though much depends on details. "If turbines made by Siemens were processed and further sold to Crimea on the secondary market as components of mainly Russian equipment, it is hardly possible to say that Siemens has violated the sanctions regime and should bear responsibility," Vodolagin said, adding that he expects "a judicial discussion on those issues both in Russia and Germany."
Earlier this week Moscow Arbitration Court registered a lawsuit by Siemens against the Russian company, Technopromexport, due to turbine deliveries to Crimea. The company said that at least two of four gas turbine plants supplied to implement a project in the Taman region were relocated to Crimea. According to the German company’s data, it occurred without its consent and breached the contract. Siemens announced earlier its intention to ban any new deliveries to Crimea through the court and managed to return equipment to Taman.
Yekaterina Vashchilko, a lawyer at А2, does not expect heavy fines for Siemens in Europe if there is going to be an investigation, as "neither the European Commission, nor Berlin has ever fined European companies for violating sanctions, and in this particular case it will be difficult to state a fact of violation." However, this is not the case with US courts, which have repeatedly fined European companies in related proceedings, she told RBC.
Western businesspeople have been gradually restoring their interest in Russia, as real estate firms have reported an increase in demand for residential rentals for corporate clients in Moscow, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The paper added that so far the share of Asian businessmen in the rent segment exceeds all others, having surged several-fold over the past three years. Nonetheless, realtors have reported that American firms returned to the corporate rent market in the second quarter of this year, for the first time since 2014, as representatives of small and medium-sized businesses started opening offices and renting apartments for their residents in Russia’s capital, the newspaper says citing Incom-Real Estate. According to Oksana Polyakova, deputy director of the apartment rentals section, the company has been witnessing an upward trend in this area as more US businessmen are reviving interest in the Russian market. "So far, the issue is manly about small and medium-sized business, those are enterprises in the foodservice industry, trade, education and the like in various price segments," she said.
Meanwhile, the share of tenants from Asia is also rising, Nezavisimaya writes, with businessmen from China, India, Taiwan and Japan among most active market participants. "It is revealing that Asian companies held not more than 10% of demand in pre-crisis 2013," experts told the publication. On whole, the EU and US firms accounted for 45% of corporate demand before western sanctions were slapped on Russia. "As the embargo was introduced in 2014, which was followed by a withdrawal of quite a few foreign companies, the number of European tenants dropped and those from the United States almost disappeared from the list of firms renting property in Moscow for their residents," a source in Incom-Real Estate said.
However, several other real estate firms interviewed by the newspaper said the trend of western businessmen returning to Russia is not clear yet. Sometimes, foreign companies continue operations with Russian clients though their Asian representatives, which is why the demand from Asian corporate tenants, including those from China, Japan, Korea, India, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia, is surging. Experts only expect a reverse in the current trend once anti-Russia sanctions are totally removed.
Russia has dropped to 13th place in Qrator Labs’s rating, which evaluates the stability of Internet service on a national basis to potential monopolies, hazards and failures around the globe (244 countries) obtained by RBC business daily. Germany, Hong Kong and Switzerland took the top three positions in the rating. The authors also said the Internet systems of Ukraine (number 8), Bangladesh (10) and Romania (11) are among the stable ones. Last year, Russia was among the rating’s three leaders following Britain and the United States. A representative of Qrator Labs told RBC that the company has changed its rating calculation methodology, and had this been used in 2016, the country would have taken 12th back then.
Rostelecom, the national telecommunications operator, is the company Russian Internet is dependent on most of all, the research said, as any failure in its operations would have blocked access to around 5.7% of the country’s other Internet networks. According to Director General of Qrator Labs, Alexander Lyamin, "legislative initiatives on regulation, licensing and other excessive control over networks facilitate consolidation on the Russian market." "Small providers simply stop operations, being unable to handle the pressure. I think that the trend of Runet consolidation will not only continue, but will spike in the near future," he said.
The stability of operations of national Internet segments usually depends on how diversified the market is, and how many operators have cross-border transfers, Lyamin says, adding that the recent problems with operations of Megafon, one of Russia’s top three providers, demonstrated that "the oligopoly on the market means that if one operator fails many other networks and eventually subscribers, are hurt." He pointed out that the initiative to monopolize transit traffic in Russia that is widely-discussed now, "will result in the creation of a critically vulnerable infrastructure if implemented."
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