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Press review: Companies prepare for cyber attacks and Germany suffers from sanctions

August 09, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, August 9

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© Donat Sorokin/TASS

 

Izvestia: German business continues to suffer from sanctions

Three years after Moscow introduced response measures to the anti-Russian sanctions, the trade turnover between Russia and Germany is down by 30%. German companies continue to experience the negative consequences of the sanctions war to this day, as only a minority of enterprises traditionally working with Russia managed to find new niches and new markets, Head of Russian Representative Office of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Germany Sergei Nikitin told Izvestia. According to the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, many German companies were forced to leave the Russian market, and most of those who stayed are actively advocating to lift the sanctions.

Izvestia writes that due to the EU sanctions and Russian countermeasures, the volume of bilateral trade decreased from 52.8 bln euro in 2014 to 36.6 bln euro in 2016.

According to the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, weakening of the ruble and recession of the Russian economy against falling oil prices affected the decline of the trade volume between Russia and Germany over the past three years. Head of the Committer’s press service Andreas Metz told the newspaper, that the current sanctions and counter-sanctions are "responsible" for around 20% of all losses in the bilateral trade.

"German companies connected to Russia are seriously affected. Some have found a solution - to stop production activities or find other niches and markets. This, however, is not a general practice, business is rather suffering," Sergei Nikitin told Izvestia, adding "there is a general sentiment that the political inadequacy will be stretched for a longer period than one would expect."

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Astana’s multi-vector policy goes against Moscow’s interests

The annual international peacekeeping tactical exercise Steppe Eagle-2016 with the participation of NATO and CIS countries has concluded in Kazakhstan. The exercise’s distinguishing feature is the absence of Russian forces - training went exclusively in compliance with the military standards of the North Atlantic Alliance, which, according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, might threaten its allied relations with Russia.

According to the newspaper, Kazakhstan generally stands for further improvement of the UN peacekeeping system and intends to increase the number of its military observers and peacekeepers in UN missions, making it clear that the country wants to take a more active part in peacekeeping operations.

However, Kazakhstan earlier ruled out its participation in operation in Syria. "Certainly, this is Kazakhstan's right, but if we take into account the allied relations between Moscow and Astana, it turns out that this position is in clear contradiction with the position of the Russian Federation," Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

"Russia and Kazakhstan are allied in the military, among other spheres ... However, unfortunately, these relations are accompanied by unpleasant facts," military expert Lieutenant-General Yuri Netkachev told the newspaper. "It seems as if Kazakhstani leadership is sitting on two chairs. On the one hand, it is with Moscow, on the other - it indulges the clearly anti-Russian actions of the US and other NATO countries," he said, adding that through participation in military maneuvers the US is actively developing theater of military operations in Central Asia. "Presence of Pentagon military personnel in Kazakhstan makes it possible to conduct objective reconnaissance of Russian military facilities," Netkachev added.

 

Izvestia: Russian import substitution can rake in $8 bln by 2020

The revenue from selling 678 import substitution projects by 2020 will reach 500 bln rubles ($8.35 bln), Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov said in his article for Izvestia. The Minister reflected on the Russian economy under sanctions and tangible effects on the economy in general and the production sector in particular.

"The Ministry of Industry and Trade supports 22 sectoral import substitution plans, currently 678 such projects are in progress - the revenue will reach 500 bln rubles by 2020," Manturov writes. According to the Minister, the imposed restrictions only accelerated the development of domestic production in the country. At the same time, measures related to supporting specific investment projects proved the most effective. Thus, agricultural machinery and pharmaceuticals showed the most progress.

"Of course, there are difficulties, it would be foolish to deny it. The main problem is foreign policy risks. Business constantly reads the market's signals, as it is necessary to plan its development. And the signals are very diverse all the time," Manturov added.

The Minister noted that despite the sanctions, cooperation with foreign partners is gaining momentum. Thus, the Ministry concluded nine federal special investment contracts for projects in various industries, which attracted such large foreign investors as Claas, Mazda, Gildemeister, and Mercedes-Benz. The total amount of declared investments in the industry for all concluded investment contracts may amount to at least 154 bln rubles ($2.57 bln).

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia-China trade grows 25%, $100 bln still out of reach

The trade turnover between Russia and China is growing - in January-July 2017 the figure increased by 25.5% and reached $46.82 bln. At this rate, by the end of the year it will reach the indicators of 2013 amounting to $90 bln, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes, noting, however, that this might remain a "dream". Reaching $100 bln in mutual trade has been a state goal for some time, but now the government wants to double the figure.

Experts interviewed by the newspaper give different forecasts for 2017 for the volume of trade turnover between the two countries. "Judging by the latest data, we can assume that by the end of the year the volume of mutual trade may exceed $70 bln," Alor Broker analyst Sergey Korolev told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "By the end of this year, the trade turnover may amount to only about $55 bln," Deputy Director of Alpari analytical department Anna Kokoreva said, adding that certain changes in turnover in dollars do not always mean a real increase or a decline in quantitative terms.

Roman Parshin, CEO of Forum, told the newspaper that Russian supplies to China are still based on mineral resources, including hydrocarbons. "It is difficult to deny the fact that, similar to the relations with European trading partners, our country is mainly a source of energy for China," he noted, adding that in order to significantly increase mutual trade, oil prices should exceed $100 per barrel. Hypothetically, even $200 bln in mutual trade could be reached by diversifying Russian exports, the expert said.

According to the newspaper, in order to become China’s key partner, Russia needs to compete with such countries as Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the United States, the European Union, Australia, Malaysia, Brazil, Switzerland, Thailand, Vietnam - many of these countries have preferential conditions for access to the Chinese market in the framework of regional integration agreements.

 

Vedomosti: Russian power engineers expect new cyber attack

In the near future, a new cyber attack is possible with the use of encryptor viruses aimed to harm elements of the computing infrastructure, Russian energy company FGC UES has warned directors of its regional branches, a company representative confirmed the information to Vedomosti.

The company asked its staff to limit access of users of the corporate network to the Internet on August 4-14, and not to open email attachments from unknown senders. According to the source, this is a preventive measure, part of the usual practice of ensuring the safe operation of users of the corporate network. All recent big virus attacks were aimed at computers of administrative personnel and were successful precisely because of the low awareness of employees, Vedomosti writes.

According to cyber security specialist Alexander Litreev, the signs of preparation for an attack are often visible - companies have the ability to track suspicious activity on their servers. Attached files hold the first place among the ways of penetrating information systems of banks, state organizations and industrial corporations.

Such letters are spread by the attackers in large numbers and randomly, senior virus expert of ESET Anton Cherepanov told Vedomosti. According to Sergey Nikitin, Deputy Head of Forensics Lab at Group-IB, there is a possibility that the history with WannaCry and NotPetya might repeat itself, this time critical infrastructure facilities might be affected. The consequences may vary from lags in the companies’ internal processes to manmade disasters with human victims, the expert added.

 

TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in the press reviews

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