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Press review: What Putin said behind closed doors and US changes tone on Syria

September 22, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, September 22

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© AP Photo/Nataliya Vasilyeva

 

Kommersant: US seeks change of tone with Russia on Syria

On Thursday, the US military showed readiness to cooperate with Russia on Syria, Kommersant writes. The statement came just a day after Russia’s General Staff accused the US special services of aiding radical Islamists, the paper says. The Pentagon rejected the accusations saying that the Russian and Syrian forces attack US allies in the region.

Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting in Iraq and Syria, spoke about the expansion of the deconfliction line in the Euphrates valley and maintaining contacts to prevent any incidents between the Russian forces and the military of the US-backed coalition.

Analyst Mikhail Troitsky said the new US statements do not run counter to its key policy on building relations with Russia on Syria. "The Americans have never planned to fuel tensions, they have acknowledged that Moscow’s recipes on settling the conflict in the Arab republic are obviously viable," the expert said.

Retired Colonel Viktor Murakhovsky said it is incorrect to use the term "cooperation" when discussing further coordination between the international coalition forces, the Syrian government troops and the Russian military. "The talk is just about stopping getting in each other’s way in the Euphrates valley and thwarting incidents like on September 19 in Idlib, rather than about fighting shoulder to shoulder," he said. The latest incident is unlikely to have any significant impact on the situation in the Syrian province, the expert said.

A diplomatic source told Kommersant that Russia and the US are not planning any high-level contacts now, but the Syrian crisis will top the agenda of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan due in Ankara on September 28.

 

Izvestia: Russia’s new ambassador to Germany revealed

Russia’s new Ambassador to Germany, Sergey Nechayev, will assume office in late January 2018, Izvestia writes on Friday citing sources. The 64-year-old career diplomat, who has been working for the Russian Foreign Ministry for 40 years, will replace Vladimir Grinin, 70, who is retiring.

When the time comes for the new Russian envoy to arrive in Berlin, Germany will already have a new government formed after elections to the parliament, the Bundestag. Opinion polls and experts say that Angela Merkel is projected to become Germany’s Chancellor for the fourth time. Still, certain changes in the parliament are likely to take place and two more parties are expected to secure seats there.

Despite all tensions, mainly due to Crimea and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Russian-German relations will remain pragmatic, the paper says. "These factors won’t have any decisive influence on bilateral cooperation, for example in science, education, humanitarian contacts and other areas," head of the Center for German Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe Vladislav Belov told the paper.

 

Kommersant: Morocco offers its market to Russia’s Novatek, Gazprom

Russian national gas producers Gazprom and Novatek may take part in a major $4.6 bln project on building gas infrastructure and two thermal plants with a capacity of 2.4 GW in Morocco and supplying gas there, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. Kommersant writes that the talks are at an early stage and analysts believe that Morocco seeks to boost rivalry between future suppliers of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

This summer French energy giant Total, which is Novatek’s strategic partner, also showed interest in the project. Novatek confirmed to Kommersant that it seeks to supply gas to Morocco. However, the company, which develops the Yamal LNG project, currently lacks free volumes of gas and will get extra LNG only from the Arctic LNG, the paper says.

Other sources told Kommersant that besides gas supplies, the participation in the project implies attracting foreign financing for construction and this may become a serious obstacle for the Russian companies hit by Western sanctions.

Novak voiced hope that by the time of the visit of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Morocco this October the sides would be able to agree on memoranda, including on LNG supplies. A source in the sector told the paper that entering Morocco’s market would be a challenging task for Gazprom amid rivalry with potential supplies from Qatar and the United States.

 

Vedomosti: Putin meets with business leaders, signals changes will come after presidential election

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with heads of more than 50 largest Russian companies and business associations behind closed doors on Thursday. At the meeting, the participants discussed sanctions and the president pledged that the government would support businesses if the restrictions were toughened, Vedomosti wrote citing sources.

The sides also discussed the tax system and no one offered any serious measures on changing it, one of the sources said.

Traditionally, Putin holds major annual meetings with Russian business leaders in the second half of December. Political scientist Konstantin Kalachev suggested that Putin wanted to show that things will change after the 2018 presidential election.

Putin’s Thursday meeting with the businesses and his first visit to the Moscow headquarters of Russian tech giant Yandex are part of his election campaign that has already kicked off, Kalachev said. These meetings and visits show a possible change in priorities of the state: this demonstrates that during the crisis the stake on state companies and natural resources fell short of expectations and new drivers of growth are needed to ensure the economic development amid sanctions, the expert explained.

 

Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Lavrov speaks about multipolar world at UN General Assembly

Just like a year ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s key message at the UN General Assembly on Thursday was that Moscow seeks "to advocate equal and indivisible security for all countries based on unconditional respect for sovereignty and the right of nations to freedom of choice," Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes.

The UN General Assembly’s December 2016 resolution on contributing to establishing a democratic and fair world order confirmed the theses that Russia had presented at this international forum, the paper says. Among them is inadmissibility of meddling in countries’ domestic affairs, non-recognition of coups d’etat and unacceptability of illegal pressure against other countries.

In his address, Lavrov stressed that those states that attempt to "dominate in global affairs, impose their models of development and values guided by the logics of a unipolar world," represent a minority. The paper writes that Lavrov responded to Donald Trump’s statement who also spoke about the importance of respecting sovereignty.

Lavrov also mentioned unilateral sanctions, stressing that they are illegitimate and undermine collective international efforts. As an example, Lavrov cited the situation with Iran, which is hit by US sanctions. Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes this could be connected with reports that Washington may announce on October 15 if it plans to continue adhering to the nuclear deal with Iran.

Russia’s top diplomat also focused on NATO’s eastward expansion, which "sparked instability on the post-Soviet space and encouraged anti-Russian sentiment." According to Lavrov, these are the roots of the long-running conflict in Ukraine’s southeast.

The Russian foreign minister also mentioned Moscow’s initiative on deploying a UN mission to protect monitors of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Donbass. Lavrov also called on responsible members of the international community to back the Russian-Chinese roadmap for solving the North Korean crisis.

 

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

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