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Press review: Meeting ‘on the go’ but no Putin-Trump 2.0 and Poland wants ‘Fort Trump’

Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday

Media: Putin, Trump to meet briefly in Paris, full-fledged summit put off

A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump in any format will yield positive results, if the parties are committed to searching for a compromise, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council's (upper house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev told Izvestia.

"Any meeting is important and can have a positive impact on the current state of affairs and development of bilateral relations. The importance of such contacts is determined by its participants’ approach, so even a brief conversation can have a meaningful effect. It is hard to make any forecasts now, but Mr. Trump’s attitude and his freedom of maneuver are likely to depend on the outcome of the midterm elections," the Russian senator stressed.

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier said there would be no full-fledged Russian-US summit in the French capital. The two leaders will have a brief conversation to agree on a date for a more substantive dialogue, he explained.

The decision to put off the full-fledged summit should not be considered as an "ominous sign" to the global community, Vedomosti quotes Andrei Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), as saying. Both Moscow and Washington realized that there was little room for maneuver, while groundwork for the meeting itself has not been thoroughly laid out. Besides, the confirmation of the full-fledged summit could worsen the Republicans’ results in the November 6 midterm elections. In a symbolic sense, a brief meeting "on the go" and a handshake between the two presidents will be enough, while the time remaining until the G20 summit will allow experts and diplomats to prepare a meaningful dialogue, Kortunov pointed out.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Moscow, Beijing to boost bilateral trade

Foreign trade turnover between Russia and China can reach $100 bln by the end of this year. Surpassing the $100-bln mark by the end of 2018 is quite realistic, if one takes into account the surge in turnover over the recent years, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov told Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Imports of Russian goods to China amounted to $33.7 bln in the first eight months of this year, while exports stood at $35.2 bln. China’s share in Russia’s foreign trade today accounts for 15.6%.

"Relations between Russia and China are based on a solid legal foundation and are conducive to the development of multilateral trade. That is impossible without avoiding the practice of sanctions pressure, protectionism and unjustified trade restrictions. That is why our countries consistently support competition and free movement of goods, operations and services," the minister said.

"Our leaders, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, have set a goal of reaching $200 bln in turnover in the coming years. That will require considerable effort from commercial operators and government institutions," the paper quotes Andrei Slepnev, head of the Russian Export Center, as saying.

According to Russian Deputy Economic Development Minister Sergei Gorkov, currently over 40 Russia’s regions are involved in cooperation with China. "However, our potential has not been fully realized yet," he stressed at a plenary session of the China International Import Expo.

On November 6, the Russian Export Center signed a number of trilateral agreements on supplying Russian products to China’s Sichuan, Hubei and Gansu provinces. The main focus is on agricultural products. Plans are in store to supply goods to the tune of around $500 mln.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US pushing EU out of Transnistria talks

Moldovan President Igor Dodon has sent his advisers to Washington for consultations on the breakaway republic of Transnistria, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Dodon told reporters at a news conference after his official visit to Moscow that his advisers were travelling to Washington to convey the president’s stance. Moldova should cooperate with all countries relying on its national interests.

According to Anatol Tsaranu, head of the Chisinau-based Politicon Center for Strategic Studies and Political Consulting, Dodon could convey Moscow’s message to Washington through his representatives." The Moldovan political analyst suggested that the visit by Dodon’s advisers could have been agreed on with Moscow. "It is not improbable that the Kremlin is ready for some concessions to the US on the Transnistria issue. The ‘price tag’ will not be disclosed, the more so since Dodon pursues a closed policy in general. However, it is clear that he is trying to break the blockade around him. The Moldovan president is received only in Moscow, while he meets with other leaders only as part of some events. It is essential for him to make it to the political leaders’ circle, considering that Moldova will have parliamentary elections next February, and he is counting on the victory of the pro-presidential Party of Socialists," the expert told the paper.

On the other hand, Alexander Rahr, Project Director at the German-Russian Forum, believes the EU has stopped tackling regional issues. "Merkel’s visit to Ukraine showed she has no plan for resolving the situation in Donbass, although the chancellor stressed the need to implement the Minsk accords. Her visit to the South Caucasus turned out to be completely fruitless. Seeing all that, Moldovan President Igor Dodon realizes that today everything depends on Washington more than on Europe and that the Transnistrian issue, which he has tried to tackle in earnest, unlike Moldova’s other leaders, can only be resolved with Russia and the US. So, Dodon is trying to reach out to Washington," the expert explained.


Izvestia: Fort Trump? Poland seeks permanent US military presence on its soil

Warsaw wants a ‘Fort Trump’ US military base to appear in Poland within the next five years, since it is concerned about the situation in Eastern Europe and Russia’s actions, some high-ranking diplomatic sources informed Izvestia.

"We expect the US military base to created within the next five years," one source said.

According to another diplomatic source, Warsaw wants US troops to be present in Poland on a permanent basis rather than on a rotating one, the way it is now.

"We are concerned about the situation in Eastern Europe and Russia’s actions. The issues at hand are the developments in Crimea, the Ukrainian conflict, Russia’s military drills and incidents in the Baltic Region (for example, in July, Estonia accused Russia of violating its airspace)," the diplomat said.

Russia has enough resources and capabilities to provide an adequate response to any challenge, Head of the Russian State Duma’s (lower house of parliament) Defense Committee, Vladimir Shamanov, said in an interview with Izvestia.

"The Poles should be concerned, because by such actions they make their territory vulnerable to Russia’s potential response. So, if they want to welcome the US presence, let them realize that this is a threat, primarily for their own population," Shamanov noted.

The former commander of Russia’s Airborne Troops was certain that this is another attempt by Poland to "curry favor with its overseas partners and receive additional financial assistance."


Kommersant: Russian aluminum giant receives dividends despite sanctions

Despite market jitters, Oleg Deripaska’s aluminum giant, Rusal, sanctioned by the US continues to receive dividends for a 27.8% stake in Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s leading metals and mining company. These payments could reach $900 mln by November 6, Kommersant writes.

According to the data provided by Norilsk Nickel, the company’s dividends for Rusal could amount to 34 bln rubles ($520 mln) in the first half of this year.

Now that the ruble is weak and aluminum prices are high, Rusal is not so dependent on Norilsk Nickel’s payments, but the situation could change dramatically, the paper quotes Kirill Chuyko, Managing Director of BCS Global Markets, as saying.

Rusal owns a stake in Norilsk Nickel via the Cyprus-based Gershvin Investments Corp. Ltd., which owns the Dutch Aktivium Holding B.V., the direct shareholder. This type of ownership structure is required in order to protect investments and ensure a flexible tax arrangement, Kommersant’s sources explained.

Alexei Panich, Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, did not rule out that the parties could consult with the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), but added that the US authorities do not necessarily have any formal leverage to block these payments. It is not improbable that Rusal and its subsidiaries received them in their ruble accounts in Russia, he said. For optimal taxation of dividends, the physical movement of funds is of no importance, considering the chain of ownership through different jurisdictions, the expert pointed out.


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