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Press review: Karzai blasts Trump's Afghan plan and Russia goes East

August 25, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, August 25

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Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai

© AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

Izvestia: Ex-Afghan leader says US strategy runs counter to Kabul's interests

Washington's new strategy unveiled by US President Donald Trump earlier this week won’t bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, but will only intensify the armed hostilities and bloodshed, the country’s ex-president Hamid Karzai told Izvestia. According to the former leader, the plans to actively use private military corporations, including the notorious Blackwater (Academi), violate Afghanistan’s sovereignty and constitution.

"I strongly oppose the new US strategy for Afghanistan as it contradicts the country’s national interests," Karzai asserted, also stressing that using private military corporations is "an anti-Afghan project."

Moscow also believes that the US campaign in Afghanistan has failed, the paper writes. Russia's Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov earlier told Izvestia that the US should withdraw its troops from the country that is already "a global incubator of international terrorism." "Moscow has never urged US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. But as the US army cannot do anything, it should leave Afghanistan. The American campaign in Afghanistan has failed," the diplomat said.

It is noteworthy that during his election campaign Donald Trump had repeatedly promised that the US would leave Afghanistan, calling the war in the country senseless. Apparently, the American military has managed to convince the president to change his stance, the paper writes.

 

Izvestia: Washington praises enactment of Syrian deal with Moscow

The ceasefire deal in southern Syria brokered by Moscow and Washington on July 8 "largely holds," sending positive signals for settling the Syrian conflict, a US State Department official told Izvestia. The US continues working with Russia on fine-tuning the ceasefire, combating the Islamic State (terror group, outlawed in Russia) and advancing a political settlement, the official said. Besides, US diplomatic sources told the paper that Washington and Moscow may coordinate steps in other Syrian areas, including Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa. "We plan to continue dialogue with Russia on the de-escalation issues in other Syrian areas," the official stated.

The de-escalation channels remain an important tool for ensuring security in challenging areas where fighting between several sides rages on, one of the sources said. "Thanks to them, any confrontation and unintentional incidents, for example, accidental clashes, may be avoided. Should more active involvement in liberating Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor be required, limited coordination would be needed."

Richard Weitz, a senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at Hudson Institute, believes that the US State Department and the Pentagon indeed need cooperation with Russia to ensure a ceasefire in Syria. Although no serious efforts on enhancing cooperation are being taken now, he did not rule out that Moscow and Washington may be holding discussions behind closed doors, namely on Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.

Russian politicians back broadening cooperation with the US in the war on terror. First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee for Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov told Izvestia that the US statement on possible positive developments in Syria is the result of coordination and also long and challenging talks between the parties. If cooperation continues, even on a limited scale, both sides will gain, the senator noted.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia seeks to boost cooperation with South Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to visit Russia in early September, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The South Korean leader will head a delegation of nearly 300 government and corporate representatives at the third Eastern Economic Forum in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok. Preparation for the visit and talks on the situation regarding the Korean Peninsula will be the focus of Friday’s meeting in Moscow between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha. The Russian Foreign Ministry has noted that the meeting will rev up bilateral ties.

Director of the Department for Eurasia at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), Jae-Young Lee, said the most promising areas of cooperation with Russia are in energy, shipbuilding, using the Northern Sea Route, cooperation in science and technologies, as well as developing Siberia and the Far East. In all likelihood, talks will resume on building a gas pipeline from Russia to South Korea through North Korea and linking railways.

If Moscow reaches a new level of cooperation with Seoul, this will be a huge step forward in Russia’s strategy of turning towards the East declared several years ago, which has been so far limited to developing ties with China, the paper writes.

 

Vedomosti: Russia’s Central Bank may take control of Otkritie

Otkritie Bank, the largest Russian private bank ranking among top 10 Russian banking groups by assets, may become the first one to be transferred to the consolidation fund set up by the Bank of Russia for bank resolution. This is one of scenarios of the bank’s fate currently being considered by the regulator, several sources close to the Central Bank and state bankers told Vedomosti.

The key shareholder of Otkritie, Vadim Belyaev, has denied the rumors saying there are no talks on the bank’s transfer to the Bank of Russia’s consolidation fund. Over the past two months, Otkritie has been returning money back to its clients. The Moscow-based Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA) assigned a BBB-rating to the bank, depriving it of the right to work with state companies and pension funds. After the collapse of the Yugra bank, Otkritie faced a media attack, Belyaev said.

The transfer scenario of Otkritie to the Central Bank’s fund is logical, two sources told Vedomosti. In July, Otkritie borrowed 333 billion rubles ($5.6 bln) from the Central Bank and by August the bank’s debt to the regulator had run up to one-fifth of the total sum.

"Judging by the information that the bank recently received an unsecured loan from the Central Bank, we may suggest that by that time it had exhausted all its possibilities on attracting leveraged financing (as of August 1, the bank had around 130 bln rubles ($2.2 bln) of unsecured bonds) and this means that its dependence on the Central Bank’s money grew compared with the significant figure as of August 1," Fitch analyst Alexander Danilov said.

 

Kommersant: Eastern Economic Forum to focus on social issues

The program of the third Eastern Economic Forum, scheduled to be held in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok on September 6-7, has been published, Kommersant writes. Apart from the forum’s traditional discussions on the industrial dimension and various aspects of Russia’s turn towards the East, the sides will concentrate on social issues - ranging from housing construction in the region and higher education - with the goal of boosting the attractiveness of the Far Eastern projects for the workforce. This year’s tactic will be a bilateral discussion with representatives from India’s government and business community, the paper says. Besides, just like last year, the forum will host dialogues with China, Japan, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The forum’s main event - a session attended by the heads of state - will be held on the second day under the banner of "Far East: Creating a New Reality." Among the participants will be Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who already visited Vladivostok in 2016, South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in and Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Special Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yuri Trutnev told Kommersant that this year’s agenda will focus on the primary results of state support measures for developing the macro-region. "We want to devote the forum first and foremost to presentations by those who have set up businesses in the Far East and who already enjoy state support so that they could assess its efficiency and outline what other steps we should take. For investors, who will come to the Far East, the most important assessment is not ours, but of those who have already poured in funds."

 

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

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