The US Congress is drafting a number of bills, which are likely to force the Pentagon to begin the production of medium-range missiles contravening the provisions of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. US legislators accuse Russia of violating the treaty arguing that such moves are necessary.
Meanwhile, opponents of the proposed moves, including American ones, fear that the go-ahead for the production of medium-range missiles will increase the risk of a potential Russian-US nuclear conflict, considering how complicated bilateral relations already are, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
The development of medium-range missiles by the United States contrary to the INF Treaty will be an addition to the fact the US has not destroyed part of these missiles using them as targets for its missile defense systems, military expert Vladimir Yevseyev who is Deputy Director of the CIS Countries Institute, said in an interview with the paper.
"There are other violations of this treaty by the US, in particular, of the provisions on non-deployment of other types of missiles in the mines. All this creates the situation when the US actually stops complying with the INF Treaty without formally denouncing it," he noted.
The expert drew attention to the fact that there was no such confrontation under the Obama administration, although the US accused Russia of developing long-range cruise missiles. "Anyway, such unilateral steps made by the Congress indicate that the US, specifically, its legislative power, violates international law. I believe that such moves discredit US legislators and the country’s stance as a leader."
Russia has different options of responding to Washington’s steps, Yevseyev went on to say. "For us it is more important what the US does rather than what it says. This is particularly important under the Trump administration, when the president says one thing, the secretary of state says something different and the Pentagon chief says something entirely different. As soon as we learn that these type of missiles are being developed, Russia will take measures to neutralize this threat. If these missiles are deployed to the European continent, Russia will find an opportunity to destroy their locations. Those European countries that agree to deploy them on their soil need to think twice before becoming hostages to America’s national interests," he stressed.
Russia has intensified its efforts in Libya and maintains dialogue with all parties to the conflict in that country, Lev Dengov, Head of the Russian Contact Group on the Intra-Libyan Settlement, told Kommersant.
He recalled that the group, which includes military experts and lawmakers, was set up at the initiative of the Russian Foreign Ministry and State Duma (lower house of parliament). "Its establishment was prompted by the arrest of Russia’s Mekhanik Chebotaryov tanker in Libya (in 2015). We were able to establish contacts with representatives of all groups involved in the Libyan conflict, both in Tripoli (where the government led by the UN-recognized Fayez al-Sarraj is located) and Tobruk (residence of the parliament that opposes the government and supports Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who controls Libya’s eastern regions). Thanks to vigorous efforts by Ahmed Maiteeq (Libya’s Deputy Prime Minister), we were able to promptly reach an agreement on releasing the Russian seamen."
Dengov noted that the Contact Group’s objective is to analyze the situation in the country, identify key factors and players, and maintain dialogue with all parties to the conflict.
When asked about the possibility of lifting the arms embargo imposed on Libya earlier, he emphasized that Russia does not want to be associated with any conflicting parties and does not want some of them to be armed to the detriment of others.
"As for the arms embargo, we constantly hear statements from Libyans that Russia should contribute to lifting it," Dengov stated.
"The process of drafting a new constitution is currently underway in Libya. We hope that the parties will be able to reach a compromise and come to an internal consensus. Then the elections are to be held, so if they take place and the legitimate government is elected, it will be possible to raise the issue of lifting the arms embargo at the UN Security Council. At the moment that would be pointless and dangerous, as this will only lead to exacerbating the conflict."
The Russian government will consider a new version of the state-supported program for developing the Arctic this coming fall drafted by the Economic Development Ministry, which will make it possible to substantially beef up the country’s presence in the region by 2035, the ministry’s press service told Izvestia. The document outlines steps to bolster the national ship-building industry and construct some nuclear icebreakers. Plans are in store to build up to eight nuclear-powered vessels, in addition to more than one hundred tankers and gas tankers.
The construction of three Project 22220 universal nuclear icebreakers has begun at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg. Besides, Russia is going to design and develop the Lider (Leader) nuclear-powered icebreaker by the end of 2017, and three such icebreakers could be built in the future.
The Project 10510 Lider icebreaker is a promising new type of Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers, which are expected to ensure year-round navigation along the Northern Sea Route and expeditions to the Arctic region.
"The need for vessels for voyages along the Northern Sea Route has basically been shaped by Russian oil and gas companies. Their construction will be carried out mainly at the production facilities of the Zvezda shipbuilding complex," the press service of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade reported.
"A new program for the construction of icebreakers is inevitable for Russia, if the country wants to preserve its sovereignty in those territories, which is impossible without icebreakers. The question is how cost efficient this plan will be. There should be neither over-expenditure, nor a squandering of budget funds under the guise of this construction project," the paper quotes Alexander Pilyasov, Director of the Center of the North and Arctic Economy, as saying.
Moldova’s decision to declare Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin persona-non-grata is a step chiefly directed against Russia and at cutting ties between Moscow and Chisinau, President of Moldova’s breakaway republic of Transnistria Vadim Krasnoselsky said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
"This step underscores Moldova’s commitment to collaboration with the West. That does not mean, however, that ties between Transnistria and Russia will be severed and nor does it mean that the negotiation process between Transnistria and Moldova will be discontinued," he noted. "Dialogue between Transnistria and Moldova needs to be continued both in the ‘one plus one’ and the ‘five plus two’ formats, where Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE act as mediators, and the US and the European Union are the observers. We should not end the dialogue referring to Moldova’s countermeasures."
According to Krasnoselsky, Russia has proven that its peacekeeping mission that began 25 years ago is effective. "In addition to Russia, the former warring parties, Moldova and Transnistria, are involving in the peacekeeping operations. Their joint efforts have turned out to be successful as well. Probably, that’s why Moldova tries to discredit them accusing Russia of stoking tensions in the region. But this is not true. Russia maintains peace, and thanks to that, people are no longer killed here," he stressed.
He added that Transnistria is open to dialogue with all countries. "I have personally sent letters to the EU foreign ministers on the issue and briefed them on Transnistria’s steps aimed at meeting Moldova halfway. I suggested continuing the negotiation process, and that’s what I call for now. Six weeks ago, I visited London and addressed the Oxford Union Social Club. I was received by officials at the UK Foreign Office. Naturally, my interlocutors likewise expressed a desire to continue the negotiation process."
The Ukrainian parliament has hammered out a bill on entry restrictions to the country for Russian citizens. Work on the issue will continue in the autumn, Izvestia writes. The document’s authors set the goal of introducing full-fledged visas, but its final version may be a bit softer, some sources in the Ukrainian Rada told the paper.
According to a source in the Ukrainian parliament, such political forces as the Pyotr Poroshenko Bloc, Oleg Lyashko’s Radical Party, the People’s Front and Samopomich (Self-Reliance) are ready to vote for introducing visas for Russians in one form or another. However, the position of Yulia Timoshenko’s Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party continues to be unclear, the source added.
Meanwhile, a Russian diplomatic source informed Izvestia that "judging by what is going on in Kiev, we can expect visas to be introduced this fall."
Ukrainian Rada member Yevgeny Balitsky believes that Kiev is very close to imposing restrictions. "The ruling elites are gearing up for introducing visas for Russians. One should not have any doubt about that. For them this is another pretext to exploit the voters’ sentiment and the anti-Russian issue. The rift inside the country is tremendous. They will not hesitate to introduce visas to retain power," he told the paper.
The issue of visas arises just because Kiev fears that Moscow will come up with a tit-for-tat response, which will affect millions of Ukrainians working in Russia, Leonid Kalashnikov, Chairman of Russia’s State Duma CIS Affairs Committee, said talking to Izvestia.
"If they are prepared to see a new Maidan, well, that’s their right, let them introduce visas. They want to completely terminate relations with Russia, so that it would be easier to blame Moscow for Ukraine’s internal problems. While lawmakers will not be affected by this move, as they do not travel to Russia anyway, millions of Ukrainians living in Russia will be sure to face problems," he emphasized.
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