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Press review: Russia won’t stop ‘killer robots’ and EU to maintain cooperation with Iran

Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday

Kommersant: Russia, US undermine ban on 'killer robots'

States that support banning autonomous weapons systems failed to achieve a UN mandate to hammer out a legally binding international treaty after negotiations ended in Geneva. According to Kommersant, Russia was among the countries who spoke out against radical restrictive measures, for which Moscow has already been criticized by human rights activists.

Russia made it clear in advance, that it would block the proposal. Thus, the Russian Foreign Ministry told Kommersant that Moscow opposes the introduction of legally binding restrictions on this matter, since full-fledged artificial intelligence does not yet exist. At the same time, Russia was ready to support the German and French initiative to adopt a political statement in which countries would guarantee that people would continue playing a key role in using autonomous combat systems and would be able to retain control over their actions. However, this proposal was not adopted.

Global Coordinator of the "Stop Killer Robots" and Human Rights Watch representative Mary Wareham told Kommersant she regretted that several countries developing their own autonomous weapons systems had hindered progress at the UN negotiations. At the same time, she added that Russia was listed as one of the countries that had stonewalled the talks, along with the United States, Australia, Israel, South Korea and Japan.

However, the meeting in Geneva was not a complete failure, Kommersant wrote. The delegates agreed on ten potential principles as a base for a future approach to autonomous weapons systems. The principles include adhering to international humanitarian law in the development of AI for military purposes. A final decision is expected at the November 23 meeting between the signatories of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.


Izvestia: EU pursues continued cooperation with Tehran

The European Union is working on additional measures that would help preserve economic cooperation with Iran, the European Commission told Izvestia. Brussels is hammering out these measures in close cooperation with each member state of the EU. They will act together within the statute blocking the US extraterritorial sanctions, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs confirmed to the newspaper. Meanwhile, it was reported earlier that large European companies such as Total, Air France, British Airways and Siemens suspended cooperation with Iran.

Brussels reaffirmed its commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear disarmament. Lifting sanctions and normalizing trade and economic relations are a key component of the nuclear deal, the European Commission noted. That is why the EU seeks to protect its companies, cooperating with Iran, from US sanctions.

The EC told Izvestia that in addition to the legislation blocking the US sanctions' extraterritoriality, Brussels is working closely with participating states and other partners to formulate specific measures aimed at maintaining cooperation with Iran in key economic sectors, especially in the banking, financial, trade, investment, energy and transportation sectors.

At the same time, the European Commission did not explain the reasons for the withdrawal of several large companies from Iran, noting that European companies conduct their business in accordance with national laws and EU legal norms, which means that they are free to choose whether to continue to cooperate with Iran or not.

The presence of European businesses in Iran depends solely on their economic interests. Large enterprises, with activities closely connected to the United States, will leave the country regardless of the steps taken by the European Union, Head of the Center for Near and Middle East at RISI Vladimir Fitin told Izvestia. According to him, in any scenario, the United States would not be able to completely isolate Iran.


Kommersant: Russia inks deal to supply US with more rocket engines

Russia’s NPO Energomash signed a contract with US aerospace manufacturer Orbital ATK to supply four additional RD-181 rocket engines for US Antares-type launch vehicles, two top managers in the aerospace industry told Kommersant. Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin, responding to a question from Kommersant, said that despite political disagreements, Russia does not intend to sever "mutually beneficial cooperation" with the United States.

According to the newspaper’s sources, the negotiations took place against the backdrop of a rocky relationship between Russia and the US, but "they could not end another way". "The mutual advantage of this agreement is obvious to everyone," the sources said. The contract was signed last summer (the amount has not been disclosed), and it is to be fulfilled by 2021. Energomash did not provide the newspaper with official comments.

Rogozin told Kommersant that Russia would continue to ship missile engines to the United States, if its American partners want it. "Despite the massive pressure customers of these engines are coming under in the US from the ruling American class and the Congress, so far there is no alternative," he said, referring to it as "mutual dependence." "This is profitable for us, because it brings money that we invest into re-equipping and creating new enterprises," he added.

According to a Kommersant source close to Roscosmos’ management, so far dependence on US purchases of rocket engines is critical for Energomash. No other country is simply ready to start purchasing multiple (more than 10 units) engine batches. Single supplies, in turn, do not exactly meet the interests of Russia.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Turkey looks for ‘friend’ to help it out of financial turmoil

Turkey is on the brink of a series of bankruptcies in the corporate sector, and it is even heading towards defaulting on its sovereign debt, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported. According to the newspaper, the country might soon need "help from a friend" - including Russia. Ankara can ask for preferences for joint projects. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has enforced using national currencies for mutual settlements, despite the fact that the Turkish lira has plunged 50% since the beginning of the year. That being said, the Russian ruble may depreciate, if economic turmoil in Turkey continues.

Amid the anti-dollar campaign in Turkey, the country faces devaluation and inflation. And these are not the only problems - in August, the outflow of foreign currency deposits from Turkish banks sharply accelerated, the newspaper wrote.

The risks to the Turkish lira are high, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. Therefore, it is expected that the ‘mutual settlements in national currencies’ move will attract only those countries that are guided by national interests and political motives rather than economic reasons. "And the first contender is Russia. The Kremlin has already confirmed Russia's interest in switching to national currencies in settlements with Turkey," according to the newspaper.

"It seems that Russia risks becoming a friend of Turkey who will be forced to support the country more than once," Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. One of the possible scenarios is that it will be a direct financial backer, a soft loan of several billion dollars, which will help Turkey make payments on public debt on time. However, some experts believe that Russia does not have the funds for it. "The Russian financial system is threatened with the introduction of new restrictions from the United States, which could affect the activities of the country's largest banks and the national debt," Finam analyst Sergey Drozdov told the newspaper. "In addition, such steps on the part of the government can cause a misunderstanding among the population," the expert said.


Vedomosti: Gazprom starts construction of Nord Stream 2 sea section

The construction of the underwater part of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which directly connects the Russian and German gas systems, will begin in the near future, starting from the territory of Finland, Nord Stream 2 AG representative told Vedomosti. Several EU member states oppose the project. The pipe-laying ship Solitaire will lay part of the gas pipeline in the Finnish exclusive economic zone, and then move to another site. Later this year, Solitaire will have to start laying pipes in the waters of Russia, according to Nord Stream 2 AG representative.

Nord Stream 2 AG received permits from four of the five countries whose waters the pipeline is going to pass through, a Nord Stream 2 AG representative told the newspaper. "The authorities of these countries provided us with slots for the work, and we are acting accordingly," he said.

The laying schedule for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is based on several scenarios that take into account national permits for laying pipes and their conditions, the company representative added. He noted that the laying the underwater section of the pipeline will start in Finnish waters.

However, there is still no understanding on the Nord Stream 2 route, Vedomosti wrote. The original scenario involved the exclusive economic zones of Sweden and Finland, as well as the territorial waters of Russia, Germany and Denmark. All countries, except Denmark, have already agreed on the pipeline.

"I think no one has any doubts about the project," Deputy General Director of Gas Projects at Russia's National Energy Security Fund Alexey Grivach told the newspaper. "The project will be completed in any case. If the US imposes sanctions against the participants of Nord Stream-2, this will only lead to some difficulties with the organization of project financing and the redistribution of financial burden from the strategic partners of the project to the banking sector," he added. If necessary, Gazprom can independently complete the project without Western financing, a source in one of the European partners of the Russian state-owned company told Vedomosti.


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