Kommersant reports that the deal to supply the S-400 missile systems to Turkey is worth $2 bln. The paper says that four divisions will be delivered under the contract, which Russian Presidential Aide Vladimir Kozhin confirmed to TASS on Tuesday.
The sides have not yet ironed out issues on granting a loan to Turkey, or on the transfer of the technologies, so another round of talks will be held. If the negotiations bear fruit, Turkey will become the first NATO member that has inked such a major contract with Russia. This is the first serious arms contract between Moscow and Ankara since 2008, when Turkey bought 80 Kornet-E anti-tank guided missile systems. Military and diplomatic sources told Kommersant that the contract on the S-400 systems is the result of "political agreements at the highest level between Presidents Putin and Erdogan."
Sources told Kommersant that Turkey seeks to manufacture the S-400 on its territory, while Russia’s security services oppose this, saying it is inadvisable to grant access to the transfer of this technology to a NATO member. "This directly concerns our national security," a high-ranking source in the security agencies said, noting that if there is "political will," localization may be possible, though the chances are very slim.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and his US counterpart Thomas Shannon held their second day of bilateral consultations in Helsinki on Tuesday to discuss strategic stability, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The agenda included a whole number of vital issues ranging from offensive nuclear weapons to missile defense systems.
Experts say that the key goal for Moscow and Washington now is to extend the New Start (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) that expires in 2021. Moscow calls for the immediate extension of the treaty. "We don’t have a lot of time now. Less than four years, just for the current term of Trump’s turbulent presidency," said Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) International Affairs Committee.
Judging by Trump’s statements, the US is not planning to extend the agreement and the US president has labelled it as one-sided. "If we need to extend the New Start Treaty, we have to reach an agreement," Deputy Director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Fyodor Voytolovsky, said. The expert doubts that the US seeks any major reductions.
The Republicans’ position on the New Start Treaty is clear, the analyst said. "As a rule, they either call for a very moderate reduction or are absolutely against it," he noted. Russia is interested in Trump’s stance on the future of the missile defense system.
After 11 months of talks, Russian energy giant Gazprom reached an agreement with Turkey’s Botas oil and natural gas pipeline company on setting up a joint venture for building the land-based part of Turkish Stream’s second leg, Kommersant writes.
To ensure the work, Gazprom needs to sign another document with Ankara and therefore has to iron out a dispute with Botas on the gas price, so active talks are now underway. Sources told Kommersant that the package agreement may be signed by early October when the Stockholm arbitration court is due to rule on a dispute between Gazprom and Botas.
Signing the protocol on Turkish Stream’s second leg depends on sorting out the gas price dispute between Gazprom and Botas, several industry sources told the paper.
"Gazprom has never ruled out that a diplomatic solution to the disagreement may be found, but now the company is running out of time - the second leg’s construction is scheduled to begin in March-April 2018. Otherwise, Gazprom runs the risk of having no time to build this leg until the transit contract with Ukraine expires in late 2019. According to Kommersant, the parties are holding active talks to strike an accord before the Stockholm court starts hearing the dispute in late September. Given that, Gazprom strengthened its negotiating positions by leaving Turkey’s domestic market.
Director of Turkey’s think-tank Energy Markets and Policies Institute (EPPEN), Volkan Ozdemir, told the paper that both sides will benefit from solving the price dispute through mutual concessions. According to the expert, Gazprom’s exit from Turkey’s domestic market helps the negotiations with Botas bringing it back to the usual model of "supplier-importer" ties.
"The issue should be looked at through the lens of both countries’ strategic relations," Ozdemir stressed.
Washington was forced to soften its resolution on North Korea to clinch its approval by the UN Security Council. Objections by Russia and China were taken into account, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. Washington abandoned the idea of imposing a full embargo on the import of hydrocarbons. Inspections of ships at sea may be carried out but only if the countries owning the vessels agree to it. UN members will have to stop textiles import from North Korea and employing its workforce, the paper writes. Meanwhile, Pyongyang is not planning on changing its course, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has warned.
Japan and the US suggested that the crisis could be resolved if North Korea was recognized as a nuclear state. However, Washington and its allies believe that the heat needs to be turned up on Pyongyang. Russia’s envoy to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said the potential of financial leverage against North Korea has been exhausted. At the same time, he noted that the idea of recognizing Pyongyang as a nuclear state was unacceptable.
Yevgeny Kim, a leading analyst at the Center for Korean Research at the Far Eastern Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RBC that each new UN resolution on sanctions against North Korea creates a vicious cycle that’s not easy to escape from. Experts interviewed by the paper say the new resolution won’t stop Pyongyang but will incite more aggressive rhetoric and new missile tests in the near future.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics insist that any UN peacekeeping mission in the region should consist of contingents from permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, France, the US, the UK and China), Donetsk lawmakers told Izvestia. Kiev earlier demanded the exclusion of Russians from any peacekeeping operation. Neither the DPR nor the LPR accepted Kiev’s proposal. Donbass lawmakers said Ukraine is seeking to "distort and sabotage" the initiative on deploying peacekeepers. Meanwhile, the draft UN resolution initiated by Moscow envisages that both parties to the conflict should agree on the mission.
"Moscow, along with Paris and Berlin, is the guarantor of the Minsk agreements from the very beginning of the negotiations. The peacekeepers’ deployment should foster the implementation the Minsk Agreements’ political points," MP Miroslav Rudenko from the DPR parliament said.
Ukrainian MP from the Opposition Bloc Vadim Novinsky told Izvestia that the UN mission may stop the bloodshed. He said the peacekeeping force may consist of citizens from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Chairman of the DPR parliament, the People’s Council, Denis Pushilin said the talks with the Contact Group in Minsk may be stalled due to Ukraine’s unwillingness to reach a peaceful solution. The proposed UN peacekeeping mission in Donbass is expected to be discussed at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, which opened on September 12.
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