Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet gave the green light to add two US-made Aegis Ashore missile defense systems to be deployed in Japan. The move is officially being explained as a response to the mounting missile threat coming from Pyongyang. Moreover, the Japanese embassy said the decision is solely for the protection of Japan’s islands. Tokyo says the missile defense system will defend the country from North Korean missiles and poses no threat to Russia, according to an embassy commentary provided for Kommersant. "Explanations regarding Japan’s position were particularly given by Foreign Minister Taro Kono during his meeting with Russian top diplomat Sergey Lavrov," the embassy said, adding that the announced system "will be acquired and managed by Japan," unlike the THAAD complex, which has recently been deployed in neighboring South Korea by US military forces.
The Aegis Ashore is a land-based missile defense system that is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles above the atmosphere during the midcourse phase of a hostile rocket's flight. The Japanese government said earlier this week that the deployment of two Aegis Ashore systems would be enough to protect the entire territory of Japan from a potential missile attack. The systems are expected to be installed at the proving grounds of the Japanese armed forces in the northern prefecture of Akita and in the southwestern prefecture of Yamaguchi by 2023, but the country may accelerate their deployment.
Moscow has negatively responded to Japan’s announcement, hinting that the move is likely aimed at Russia and China, which have repeatedly opposed any deployment of additional missile defense segments on the territory of US allies in the Asian-Pacific Region. Vasily Kashin, senior research fellow at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, told Kommersant that in theory the Japanese Aegis Ashore system might indeed be aimed at restraining Russia and China, adding though that Tokyo has its reasons to beef up its defenses
Media outlets classified as foreign agents in Russia may be bound to register as Russian legal entities, should they fail to do so, access to these media outlets will be curtailed, Kommersant says. A group of MPs and senators submitted corresponding amendments to the law ‘On media’ and ‘On information, information technologies and protection of information’ on Tuesday. Chairman of Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Committee for Constitutional Law and State Building Andrey Klishas told the newspaper that the measure will "thwart the actions of unregistered organizations on Russian soil in the interests of another state."
In November, Russia’s upper house of parliament approved a bill on foreign media outlets acting as foreign agents. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law on November 25. The document stipulates that media outlets may be declared foreign agents if they receive funding from abroad. After being classified as foreign agents, media outlets will be subject to restrictions imposed on non-profit organizations acting as foreign agents. They would also be held accountable for any violations of the law. This legislation was adopted in retaliation to the US Department of Justice’s demand that the RT America television channel register as a foreign agent.
Russia’s Justice Ministry has labelled nine foreign outlets with the foreign agent status, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe’s Russian service (Radio Svoboda) and Current Time TV. According to the information obtained by Kommersant, Radio Svoboda is not registered as a Russian legal entity and operates as a news bureau in the country.
The nation’s financial watchdog is working to put together a bill that would slap a ban on foreign nationals, whose assets have been frozen (without court proceedings) in Russia, from entering the country, Izvestia writes. A source close to the regulator and two sources in the banking sector told the newspaper that the ban would be enforced in 2018. The measure was also discussed at the latest meeting of inter-departmental commission to combat terrorism financing. Similar entry bans exist in the United States, the European Union and the Middle East, experts interviewed by the paper said.
Russia moved to freeze the assets of terrorists and terror suspects without legal action in 2016. The step enables the inter-departmental commission on combating terrorism financing to block the accounts and property of individuals suspected of illegal activity. In 2017, the assets of 104 Central Asian nationals living in Russia worth 4 mln rubles were frozen, Izvestia says with reference to the protocol of the commission’s meeting.
Anatoly Aksakov, Chairman of the Russian State Duma’s (lower house of parliament) Financial Market Committee, welcomes the proposal, saying that it is essential to thwart any potential action of individuals engaged in terrorism or suspected of it on Russian soil. Though most analysts and market players surveyed by Izvestia agreed that safety is a priority for any country, some fear that there is a risk that the measure will work against people not involved in terrorism, for example, those unreasonably suspected of allegedly shady financial transactions, which in its turn may hurt Russia’s investment climate.
Entrepreneurs from Syria plan to invest in agriculture projects in Crimea, Zuhair Kherbek, head of the country’s delegation at the Yalta International Economic Forum, told Izvestia.The businessmen intend to pour money into building state-of-the-art warehouses for storing agriculture products on the peninsula. "We are preparing huge supplies of our products to Russia. The most profitable directions for us are Russian ports on the Black Sea. And of course, we will be doing our best to provide fresh, high-quality products, which require up-to-date warehouses. I am ready to invest in constructing such facilities in Crimea," he said.
The Yalta forum on April 19-21 will be attended by a prominent Syrian delegation consisting of government members, deputies, experts and entrepreneurs. Kherbek will present samples of irrigation technology and equipment for dry weather conditions, while other Syrian businessmen will deliver unique types of olives, almond and grapes cultivated specifically in this climate zone, the newspaper writes. "The Syrians are looking forward to tapping the Russian market," the delegation head said, adding that the time is ripe for changing the situation when Syrian products "have been sold under Egyptian and Turkish trademarks in Russian stores" over the past few years.
According to Georgy Muradov, Crimea’s permanent representative to the Russian president, favorable terms have been created on the peninsula for attracting foreign investment as it has been declared a free economic zone. "Preferential terms obviously make Crimean goods very competitive. Moreover, the federal target program on the social and economic development of Crimea and Sevastopol is being implemented now, which implies pouring 700 bln rubles into infrastructure development. This lures global investors. Internationally, more and more people realize that Crimea should be not be a confrontational issue and normal cooperation with Russia needs to be established," Muradov said.
Foreign intelligence services are still attempting to infiltrate some areas of Russia, Director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta. "Since 2012, a total of 137 employees of foreign intelligence services and their agents have been convicted, and the operations of 120 foreign and international NGOs were suspended due to their involvement with the global intelligence community. Steps to protect top-secret information have resulted in the conviction of 140 people," he noted.
Asked how FSB chief estimates the current level of extremist and terrorist threats, he said that now Russia has a national counterterrorism system. "As a result of the measures taken over the past six years, the number of terror attacks in Russia has dropped almost ten-fold. In 2017, 23 terrorist attacks were foiled, and the operations of over 300 structural terrorist-and extremist-focused organizations were quashed," he said.
Speaking about cooperation with foreign partners amid colder relations between Russia and the West, Bortnikov said "cooperation is still successfully developing despite the odds." "Now the Russian FSB maintains official contacts with 205 intelligence and law enforcement bodies from 104 countries, including 56 border structures in 48 countries. (Our) partners are perfectly aware that political tensions do not do away with such pressing issue as global terrorism, transnational organized crime and the criminalization of cyberspace from the agenda, and that those threats require a need to be fought from a wide range of authorized structures," he said.
TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in the press review