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US authorities may require Russia to close one of the Russian consulates in the United States. According to Kommersant's diplomatic sources, this might be Washington's response to Moscow's sanctions sharply reducing the US diplomatic staff in Russia and the arrest of a number of real estate facilities. The decision might be announced by September 1.
Sources close to the US State Department told Kommersant that from Washington's point of view, Moscow's actions do not qualify as mirror steps, but as an unjustified escalation of the conflict. Introducing sanctions against Russia in December, the White House called them a response to the harassment of US embassy staff in Moscow and the alleged intervention of Russian special services in the US elections. Thus, Washington believes that Moscow had no grounds for an "answer". The Russian authorities, however, consider the December sanctions to be unfounded.
Nevertheless, "the sanction spiral continues to twist", Kommersant writes. According to the newspaper’s diplomatic sources, Russian authorities may be required to close one of their consulates in the United States. Currently Russia has four - in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Houston. The sources did not specify which of the Russian consulates might be closed, adding that it is also not clear how this step affects the procedure for issuing visas to Russia.
According to the newspaper, despite the 'embassy wars', both Moscow and Washington are talking about the willingness to cooperate in areas of common interest, such as Syria, Ukraine, and strategic stability. After the recent talks between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the parties shared a common sentiment - dialogue needs to be continued and the countries will try to look for ways to resolve the current issues.
According to Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko, a draft for a new constitutional article on the status of Crimea will be presented in Kiev in September. Back in 2015, the President proposed to grant the peninsula the status of the Crimean-Tatar national autonomy, since Kiev does not recognize Crimea’s Russian status and considers it a "temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine". According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, amendments to the Ukrainian Constitution might be partially caused by the recent statements by German politicians.
In early August, leader of the Free Democratic Party of Germany, Christian Lindner, publicly voiced the idea to postpone disputes over the Crimean affiliation leaving everything as it is for an indefinite time and deal exclusively with settlement issues in Donbass, talking about the need to try to strengthen relations between the European Union and Russia.
According to the paper, the Normandy format and the Minsk process are aimed exclusively at resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine. There are no existing international platforms on the Crimea issue.
Sources told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the Verkhovna Rada has forces that are ready to support such decisions, but there are also those who fear that a decision on Crimea can lead to the aggravation of relations both with Russia and the West. Some deputies, according to sources, doubt that the Crimean Tatars would even keep Crimea as a part of Ukraine.
There are also those who consider the decision meaningless. According to Ukrainian political scientist and director of the Kiev Center for Political Studies and Conflictology Mikhail Pogrebinsky, even if the deputies make changes to the Constitution, it might be done solely to relieve the pressure. According to the newspaper, certain political forces in Ukraine believe that the world should constantly remind that Russia violated the international law. The strategy would be to continue negotiations with Russia in order to gain time while Russia is under pressure from sanctions.
Consumer activity index of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development based on search queries, developed for assessing the consumer demand in Russia, showed the highest value in July 2017 over the past three years - 107.1 points. According to Izvestia, this indicates the continuing trend of gradual recovery of consumer demand.
"Growth of the index in July was mainly due to an increase in the number of search requests for non-food products (cars, TVs, cosmetics, household appliances, furniture). At the same time we should make the final conclusions about changes in consumer demand in July after the publication of official data," the Ministry’s spokesman told Izvestia
According to experts interviewed by the newspaper, this might indicate a restoration of consumer activity in Russia. At the same time, demand in many respects acquires certain characteristics - population actively spends not only savings, but also borrowed funds. Bankers interviewed by Izvestia also noted growth of lending activity in Russia.
"Demand for credit products has really grown. In June-July, people took online loans for an average of 100,000 rubles ($1,661), and the first category of spending was the services of travel agencies or wedding agencies," Algirdas Shakmanas, Vice President at Promsvyazbank, told Izvestia.
Chief analyst of Binbank Natalya Vashchelyuk told the newspaper that purchases of cars have also grown significantly. "Growth of car loans took place amid the revival of the automobile market - according to the latest AEB data, sales of new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles increased by 8.5% in January-July compared to the same period of the previous year," she said.
The Russian government allocated $40 mln for the social needs of the population of Transnistria, the president of the unrecognized republic, Vadim Krasnoselsky, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The Russian funds will be used to optimize budget expenditures. Moscow will consider new programs to build social housing and health facilities in the region. Krasnoselsky noted that the money received from Russia earlier was used to restore the agricultural sector.
Until 2006, Transnistria did not borrow money, and then former Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin together with Ukraine began blockading Transnistria. As a result, since 2008, Russia provides financial assistance to the region for social payments.
Krasnoselsky told the newspaper that with the help of Russia, schools, kindergartens, a cancer center, and a tuberculosis clinic were built in Transnistria. Krasnoselsky added the new funds from Russia will not be used for the manufacturing industry. Metallurgy, mechanic engineering, consumer goods manufacturing, as well as agro-industry would be financed thought programs of the Transnistrian government.
With the funds, Transnistria hopes to reform the tax system, since reducing the tax burden would mean a decline of prices for electricity and water. According to Krasnoselsky, this makes life easier not only for the local population, but for businesses.
Russia's fifth-generation fighter will use "five dimensions", being able to track its position in three dimensions of space, in time, and monitor the surrounding electromagnetic spectrum, Deputy General Director for R&D of Onboard Equipment and Director at Concern Radio-Electronic technologies Givi Janjgava told Izvestia.
According to him, the concept of five dimensions is already being used in the design of the onboard equipment of the fighters. This will allow aircraft to be invulnerable to the enemy’s means of electronic suppression, to detect targets using locators, and to aim with missiles and high-precision bombs.
"From the point of view of electronic engineers, modern aircraft have reached a level where it is already impossible to achieve a sharp increase in their capabilities," Givi Janjgava told Izvestia.
"In the traditional sense an airplane remains an airplane - improving their gliders and engines leads to a 20-30% superiority over predecessors. At the same time, creating new 'brains' - onboard equipment - exponentially increases efficiency," he added.
Professor of the Academy of Military Sciences Vadim Kozyulin told the newspaper, when a combat vehicle receives data in real time and can exchange it with other aircraft or ground systems, this is called a network centricity.
According to him, obtained data forms a digital interactive environment, where the fighter operates as in a virtual reality. Not only fighters are more effective, but also mission control.
Currently eight T-50 fighter aircraft from Sukhoi Design Bureau are being tested in Russia. Machines with the indices T-50-6/8/9 are the second stage fighters that will be powered by engines that allow supersonic flight and will have an expanded set of state-of-the-art on-board equipment.
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