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Press review: Russia-NATO Сouncil frozen and Moscow responds to Kiev’s peacekeeping ploy

September 28, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, September 28

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Izvestia: Moscow opposes Kiev’s UN peacekeeping ploy

Moscow will veto Kiev’s project for a UN peacekeeping mission in Donbass, when it is submitted for consideration, Russian diplomatic sources told Izvestia. They pointed out that the Ukrainian version of the UN operation would actually mean that the conflict would carry on, and the region would be blockaded. At the same time, Moscow continues to advocate for the transfer of the "blue helmets" to the contact line and for the protection of OSCE observers. This scenario, however, is also unlikely to garner support because of Washington's stance, the newspaper wrote.

A high-ranking Russian diplomatic source told Izvestia that Moscow would not accept the Ukrainian draft resolution because Kiev proposes deploying the "blue helmets" throughout the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics, and even on the Ukrainian-Russian border, trying to disguise the civil war in the east of the country as an international conflict.

"The UN mission will not reach Donbass in the form Pyotr Poroshenko is gunning for. The peacekeeping operation should be conducted on the demarcation line and ensure the security of the OSCE observers," one of the sources told Izvestia.

"It seems that Ukraine finds it essential to slow down this process, and prevent the Russian draft from being considered by the UN Security Council, but simultaneously seeks to kill time with idle talk. However, we understand what the Ukrainians want to contribute. They feel it is vital to brand the Donbass conflict as an interstate one, in which case the demarcation line of delimitation runs along the border. But this does not correspond to the position of the participants in the Minsk agreements, where the conflict is designated as intra-Ukrainian," Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachev told Izvestia.

"Unfortunately, the US and Ukrainian delegations have already come out against Moscow’s version," Kosachev added.

According to the newspaper, two principal options remain. Either Washington’s EU partners will be able to persuade the Americans and Ukrainians to agree for the time being to the only draft resolution on peacekeepers corresponding to the Minsk agreements, or one of the parties cobbles together a third scenario for the "blue helmets" in Donbass. However, so far no one has stated that such a scenario exists at least in the draft, Izvestia wrote.

 

RBC: AliExpress to launch new e-commerce platform in Russia

AliExpress, member of the Alibaba Group, will present another division of the Chinese corporation in Russia - the online store Tmall. The launch inside the AliExpress platform (for the time being Tmall in Russia will be located within the AliExpress domain) will be held on Thursday morning, September 28, a source in the e-commerce market told RBC. AliExpress Business Development Director in Russia and CIS Markets Mark Zavadskiy confirmed the information. According to him, a pilot launch will take place on Thursday, while the official opening of the Internet site is scheduled for mid-October.

Russia is the first country besides China to launch Tmall. In Russia, Tmall will change its concept and will work on a mixed model - both as a marketplace (carrying out transactions between different sellers) and as an independent retailer (selling goods from its warehouses). "We began to localize AliExpress in Russia two years ago, launching the marketplace - Mall - inside our website," Zavadskiy told the newspaper. "The introduction of Tmall in Russia means improving the quality of service through a more careful selection of goods and a single warehousing and logistics solution, which is based on courier delivery, and delivery and dispatch points," he added.

AliExpress will remain the main platform for overseas orders, while Tmall will specialize in its own sales and marketplace with goods from Russian warehouses from major manufacturers.

Chinese online stores are already the largest suppliers of goods online for Russian users. According to the Association of Internet Trade Companies and Russian Post, parcels from China account for about 90% of all goods from abroad. Most of them, according to the Association’s President Alexey Fedorov, come from AliExpress. It is important, however, that Chinese sellers, regardless of the platform they use, pay VAT and customs duties (the so-called AliExpress tax is now being discussed in the government), he added.

 

Izvestia: Brussels freezes Russia-NATO Council following Zapad-2017 drills

Brussels has decided to freeze the activities of the Russia-NATO Council (NRC) until the end of this year. Training maneuvers conducted by Russia and Belarus during the Zapad-2017 exercises were the reason for suspending the cooperation mechanism between Moscow and the alliance, Russian diplomatic sources told Izvestia. The Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to NATO and the press service of the alliance noted that they had not yet begun preparations for the next meeting.

"The Russia-NATO Council is frozen until the end of this year at the initiative of Brussels. Apparently, the training maneuvers by Russia and Belarus during the Zapad-2017 (drills) were one of the main reasons. NATO's Baltic members have repeatedly tried to freeze this format. They were supported by the United Kingdom. However, despite the decision, the communication channels continue to operate," sources in diplomatic circles told Izvestia.

The Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to NATO added that the date of the next meeting has not yet been set. "We still have not begun substantive preparation for the next meeting of the Russia-NATO Council," a mission representative told Izvestia. NATO’s press service told Izvestia that the alliance is only now considering the prospects for convening the next meeting of the Russia-NATO Council.

"Zapad-2017 is just a far-fetched excuse. After all, the training maneuvers did not present any danger. At the same time, the opportunity to attend the event was open to journalists and military observers. Given the tense conditions of global relations now, the desire to disrupt cooperation with Russia is extremely irresponsible, unprofessional and absurd. Against the backdrop of worldwide threats, the alliance will somehow have to reckon with Russia's position. Brussels must realize that the world has ceased to be unipolar," First Deputy Head of the Federation Council Committee on defense and security Franz Klintsevich told Izvestia.

 

Kommersant: Berlin envoy stresses ‘no alternative’ to good Russian-German relations

On Thursday, September 28, a meeting of the Russian-German Strategic Working Group on Economic and Financial Cooperation will be held in Berlin. This is the first bilateral consultative mechanism that resumed work after the Donbass conflict had erupted in Ukraine. German Ambassador to Russia Rudiger von Fritsch talked to Kommersant about German businessmen working in Russia, Berlin's future policy towards Russia and economic cooperation between both countries.

According to the diplomat, "There is no alternative to good German-Russian relations, and we are obligated to do everything to cultivate (those) ties in the same positive way." "I wouldn’t predict the policy of the next German government towards Russia right now, but I am convinced that objectively nothing will change. And this is good," he added.

Talking about the Russian-German Strategic Working Group on Economic and Financial Cooperation, the ambassador noted that it was last held in October 2016 in Moscow. "In 2014, there really was a disruption of all the agreements that we had previously reached. All this time, we have tried to make every effort to resolve the conflict," the diplomat told the newspaper, adding "However, in regard to issues on developing trade and economic relations we did not completely interrupt the dialogue. It continued in various forms and structures."

According to him, the meeting will provide a platform for discussing investment and framework conditions for German and Russian companies to further stimulate mutual investment. "It is important for us to hear the concerns of German small and medium business. In addition, the strategic working group discusses particularly significant projects, for example, the Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway, as leading German companies seek to participate in its launch," Ambassador von Fritsch said.

According to him, in the first half of 2017, the trade turnover between Germany and Russia grew 28%. The volume of German investment in Russia is at a record level. "The Russian economy is growing again, and thanks to successful monetary and fiscal policies, the inflation rate is at the lowest level since the 1990s. German companies value such stable macroeconomic conditions very highly," the diplomat added.

"Still there are some things that need to be done. In the framework of the working group we need to discuss several cases in which, in our opinion, German companies were treated unfairly and have not received any necessary legal protection," the envoy said, referring to the recent scandal with Siemens.

"The uncertainty among foreign investors in Russia has been exacerbated by the fact that even a company such as Siemens, which has been operating in Russia for over 160 years and has created 3,000 jobs, cannot rely on written and oral assurances. The basis of a successful business is reliable contracts," von Fritsch stressed.

 

Kommersant: Roscosmos and NASA join forces to build Moon base

Russia and the United States signed an agreement on a joint venture to develop a new space station in the Moon's orbit on September 27, sources told Kommersant. According to Roscosmos, the project may require a major revision of the Federal Space Program up to 2025.

Roscosmos CEO Igor Komarov said at the International Astronautical Congress that the first modules of the station could be put into orbit by 2024-2026. According to Kommersant, Roscosmos and NASA signed the deal on the same day. The project was under development for a whole year. All this time, the parties agreed on the smallest details for the forthcoming cooperation, the newspaper wrote.

NASA has already confirmed signing the deal and clarified that the decision to jointly create a new space station in the Moon's orbit reflects the general vision of space exploration by the two countries' leading space agencies.

China, India, Brazil and South Africa might also participate in the project, since, according to Komarov, this is approved by both Russia and the US. The signed preliminary agreement, in particular, includes the contribution of all participants. For example, Russia plans to create 1-3 modules and standards, and a unified docking mechanism for all ships that will dock to the station.

The amount of each of the participants’ financial contribution will be discussed at the next stage of the negotiations. Roscosmos told Kommersant, that the state corporation plans to work on possible sources of funding for the international lunar program and the creation of a new space station with the government. The main costs are expected after 2020 and it could be necessary to revise the Federal Space Program.

 

 

/TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in these press reviews./

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