Moscow has described the unprecedented measures regarding the activities of its diplomatic facilities in the United States as a gross violation of international law. The Russian Foreign Ministry emphasized that the searches conducted in the Russian diplomatic missions in Washington and San Francisco that US authorities decided to seize in response to reducing diplomatic staff in Russia involved FBI agents.
Meanwhile, experts interviewed by Nezavisimaya Gazeta put Washington’s actions on par with the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran. "While the external manifestations are different, the essence is the same, that is, forced entry into foreign property," Professor of International Law Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov stressed. "In addition to the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which involves Russia and the US, our countries signed a bilateral Consular Convention back in 1964. Under this convention, the building, the adjacent territory and the Consul General’s residence are immune, and access there is only possible with the permission of the incumbent mission’s head. Even if there was no forced intrusion, all signs indicate that conditions have been created for forced consent to avoid any threat to the safety and well-being of the missions’ employees."
The latest incidents indicate that the process of undermining the foundations of international law is underway, according to Andrey Baklanov, Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Association of Russian Diplomats who served as Russia’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 2000-2005. "This includes the illegal use of force without the UN Security Council’s authorization and failure to complete the probe into the accusations against Iraq. Now this process has reached such a sensitive area as diplomatic work. This destroys both the letter and the spirit of the Vienna Convention. Washington’s action robs diplomatic functions of their key aspect, namely, respect for diplomats’ work."
The parties have so far been unable to achieve parity and draw a line under this page in their relations, Fyodor Lukyanov, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, told the paper. "From the very beginning, Russia made a mistake by deciding not to undertake a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats last December," he noted. "The question is when to stop. To date, no one wants to."
Pyongyang has conducted the most powerful nuclear test in its history provoking another regional crisis and sparking a wave of condemnation in many countries around the world, including Russia and China. Sunday’s test, which followed two successful intercontinental ballistic missile launches, shows that North Korea is just one step away from a nuclear power status, and neither international sanctions nor condemnation from its closest ally - Beijing - could so far stop it, Kommersant writes.
The test conducted by North Korea (an H-bomb test, according to Pyongyang) was the sixth and the most powerful in that country’s history. South Korea’s General Staff estimated the explosion at 100 kilotons, while Japanese officials say it was 70 kilotons.
The Russian Defense Ministry has not yet offered any comments on the test and informed Kommersant it is not prepared yet to come up with its assessments.
Meanwhile, Kommersant’s source close to the Russian Defense Ministry doubted that a thermonuclear explosion really took place. The source noted that, according to last year’s analysis by the Russian Defense Ministry, North Korea "will need a few more years to make full-fledge nuclear weapons." "While some progress is obvious, a hydrogen bomb is still a long way off," he said. The Russian Defense Ministry proceeds from the assumption that Pyongyang is currently working with a uranium charge whose capacity does not exceed 25 kilotons rather than with plutonium, he added.
For his part, Anton Khlopkov, Director of the Center for Energy and Security Studies, told Kommersant that Pyongyang is "interested in exaggerating its potential." "Serious doubts remain that North Korea possesses a thermonuclear charge that can be delivered to a target by means of an intercontinental ballistic missile." The latest test offers no grounds to say the opposite with certainty," the expert stressed.
Restrictions on investment abroad imposed by Beijing will lead to a growth in direct investment from China to Russia, RBC writes citing data provided by the Russian Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA). On the other hand, China will cut back investment in Europe and the US, the survey’s authors said.
During the past year, China took several steps to boost foreign investment into its economy and prevent outflow of funds from the country, prior to that, the People’s Bank of China announced some steps to curb capital outflows and counter the devaluation of the yuan. The issue at hand was tightening control over foreign investment in Chinese enterprises.
Regarding Beijing’s investments in Russia, Chinese companies chiefly focus on the oil, gas, metallurgy and energy sectors, which account for 68% of the total investment structure. To date, "the financial flows between Russia and China substantially lag behind foreign trade," the ACRA stated. China’s share in Russia’s foreign trade turnover in 2015-2016 was 10.1%, and the direct investment share came to just 5.4%. The Chinese are more interested in "hi-tech, transport, machine building, entertainment and tourism, while in Russia they invest in raw materials more often."
One of the incentives for Chinese investors could be the One Belt and Road initiative aimed at establishing closer ties between Chinese, European and Asian markets, the paper notes.
The Asian powerhouse could indeed step up investment in Russia because of the newly-imposed restrictions, said Marsel Salikhov, research associate at the Higher School of Economics’ Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies. The question is how genuine these restrictions will be and whether Chinese businesses will be able to bypass them, he noted. Anyway, it would be a mistake for Russia to wait for an influx of Chinese investors because of such factors, the expert pointed out.
China’s internal restrictions will not stimulate a surge of investment into Russia, according to Alexander Gabuev, Chair of the Russia and the Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center. The low level of non-oil and gas investment from China stems from the fact that the Chinese "are not really willing to take risks," he noted. "They consider the investment climate poor, taxes and indirect payments burdensome. There is no protection of property rights, and there are few Chinese success stories," Gabuev explained, adding that it will take years to tackle all these "systemic issues."
Belgrade and Pristina have begun moving into a crucial stage of dialogue, which is expected to lead to the full normalization of relations between them. This will pave the way for Serbia and Kosovo to enter the EU, but, prior to that, officials will have to persuade their fellow countrymen that a compromise is necessary and that it is going to be painful for both sides, Kommersant writes.
Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci earlier stressed that this is the final stretch of the dialogue to iron out relations and reconcile the two states and its population. Serbia’s Aleksandar Vucic likewise acknowledged the start of the negotiations "on the long-term ties between the Serbs and Albanians," but was more reserved in his comments. According to Vucic, the two countries have a pretty slim chance to solve the historical problems between the Serbs and the Albanians, which should not be wasted.
A Western diplomatic source in the Balkans said in an interview with the paper that "Belgrade will eventually have to recognize Kosovo’s independence," hence the Serbian president’s reserved statements. "Details of the final agreement have yet to be sorted out, but its essence is clear at the moment. The Serbs should get genuine autonomy in northern Kosovo and protection of their rights and cultural values in the rest of its territory. Kosovo’s division, let alone, its preservation or preservation of its part under Belgrade’s control is out of the question," he stressed.
According to the Russian Federal Statistics Service, there were 15,700 people in the country at the beginning of this year who were born 100 years ago or earlier. This is almost 1,000 more than a year ago. The overwhelming majority of Russian centenarians are women, Izvestia writes.
According to the Federal Statistics Service, the number of centenarians in Russia increased by 923 people from January 2016 to January 2017. Russia currently has 12,000 female centenarians, and nearly all of them (9,000) live in cities.
Andrey Korotayev, Professor of the Moscow State University’s Faculty of Global Processes, said in an interview with Izvestia that the increase in longevity was an anticipated outcome, given the steady rise in Russia’s life expectancy observed since 2005.
"This is primarily due to the development of medical science. Obviously, technology has made tremendous progress over the past few years. There have been considerable achievements in reducing the mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases. More and more effective medicines to combat cancer are being developed, which is particularly important for the older generation," the professor explained.
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