Izvestia: Expert highlights expectations from Xi’s upcoming visit to Russia
Chinese President Xi Jinping is coming to Russia on a state visit on June 5, which will mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Beijing and Moscow, Izvestia writes. On the eve of Xi’s arrival, the Russian capital will welcome the Roads of Friendship motorcade, which left Beijing on April 27, the day of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to China.
The Russian and Chinese leaders will spend the evening of June 5 at the Bolshoi Theater, which will host a gala concert dedicated to the friendship between both countries. The next day, Xi Jinping will leave Moscow to take part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum where he will be the guest of honor.
China has retained the status of Russia’s largest trading partner for eight years. Bilateral trade turnover exceeded $107 bln last year and has continued to grow this year as well despite the slowdown in global economic development.
"In 2018, Russia ranked first in terms of growth rates among China’s leading partners. Cooperation in the traditionally key area - the fuel and energy sector - is carrying on successfully. In addition to growing Russian oil supplies to China, the first batch of liquefied natural gas from Russia’s Yamal Peninsula has arrived there recently. Natural gas is expected to be supplied through the Power of Siberia pipeline this year," Vladimir Portyakov, chief researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Far Eastern Studies, told the paper.
The expert recalled that the two countries had reached an agreement on the construction of two new nuclear power plants in China based on Russian technology. It is expected to be finalized during Xi’s visit to Russia, he explained.
The ongoing trade standoff between China and the US and Washington’s pressure on the Asian powerhouse likewise are pushing Beijing and Moscow into closer cooperation, Portyakov noted. "Amid the growing animosity with the US, China needs to enter new markets and look for new sources of technology, and Russia can be of use here," he noted.
Kommersant: Pristina’s actions anger Moscow, pose challenge to Brussels
The standoff between Kosovo and Serbia is gradually spiraling into a crisis in Pristina’s relations with Russia and the European Union, Kommersant writes. At the end of last week, Moscow warned that the Kosovar authorities would face far-reaching consequences for their decision to declare Russian citizen Mikhail Krasnoshchekov, a member of the UN mission, persona non grata. Pristina’s relations with the EU are on the rocks as well in the wake of the Kosovar leader’s statements about its potential unification with Albania.
The Russian diplomat’s arrest and the Kosovo crisis will top the agenda of negotiations between Speaker of the Russian State Duma (lower house) Vyacheslav Volodin and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic during Volodin’s visit to Serbia on Monday.
The statement by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which said that the use of force by the Kosovo police on May 28 had been excessive and unjustified, is important for Moscow as well.
Dragan Djukanovic, President of the Belgrade-based Center for Foreign Policy, told Kommersant that by making such a statement, although somewhat belatedly, the UN mission seems to distance itself from the Kosovo police actions, making it clear that it has nothing to do with it. That’s important in the run-up to the UN Security Council meeting on the issue, he stressed.
The expert was skeptical about the prospects for Kosovo’s unification with Albania, describing Hashim Thaci’s remarks as an attempt to improve his approval ratings inside Kosovo.
Meanwhile, everything seems to suggest that Brussels isn't taking Pristina’s statements seriously. "That looks more like an attempt to influence Brussels in order to speed up the process of Kosovo’s integration into the EU, but that depends on Pristina’s steps. Mr. Thaci will have an opportunity to show (his) willingness to move towards the EU on July 1 in Paris, which will host a meeting of the Balkan leaders brokered by (French) President Emmanuel Macron and (German) Chancellor Angela Merkel, where the normalization (of ties-TASS) between Serbia and Kosovo will be the key issue," a European diplomatic source told the paper on condition on anonymity.
Izvestia: Druzhba oil crisis talks to focus on compensation
On Monday, Moscow will host negotiations on compensating European consumers for losses resulting from the contaminated oil debacle in the Druzhba pipeline. Taking part in the meeting, in addition to Russian oil companies and other interested parties, will be delegates from Russia’s Energy Ministry. However, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak who oversees the country’s fuel and energy issues will be absent, since he is going to be paying a visit to Moldova. According to Kozak’s spokesman, no final decisions are expected to be made at the talks, which are considered to be preliminary.
"Europe currently has no obvious alternatives to Russian raw materials, although European consumers have been dissatisfied with the quality of Russia’s oil for a long time, as the amount of sulfur content in it has continued to increase and, in some cases, it has exceeded the accepted 1.8% level," Anton Pokatovich, Chief Analyst at BCS Premier, told the paper. He expects supplies via the Druzhba pipeline to surge by 250,000-300,000 barrels per day once the mess is cleaned up.
Other experts likewise believe demand for Russian oil boosts Transneft’s chances at the talks with Russian and foreign companies.
"The parties will try to avoid litigation and reach a gentlemen’s agreement on paying compensation," the paper quotes Igor Yushkov, leading expert at Russia’s National Energy Security Fund, as saying.
He stressed that none of the oil companies had filed a lawsuit against Transneft yet. As for European consumers, they are interested in continued Russian oil supplies through the Druzhba pipeline. However, if they bring the case to court, they will run the risk of getting bogged down in litigation for years.
Meanwhile, Igor Dyomin, advisor to Transneft’s president, informed Izvestia that the company planned to resolve the issue out of court, but it does not want the compensation issue to turn into a profitable business for someone.
The amount of compensation for Belarus, for one, can amount to $60-100 mln, according to BKS Premier’s estimates. The cumulative compensation costs to all affected consumers can reach about $350 mln. This volume could reach $500 mln in a negative scenario. However, according to Pokatovich, that is not an unaffordable figure for Transneft.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Moscow, Tokyo hold constructive talks on Kuril Islands
Tokyo has hosted the fourth round of Russian-Japanese consultations between their foreign and defense ministers. Both parties managed to build a constructive discussion without bypassing thorny issues, Valery Kistanov, Director of the Center for Japanese Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Far Eastern Studies, wrote in his article in Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
It is noteworthy that the exchange of mutual concerns between the Russian and Japanese ministers took place against the backdrop of a controversial statement by an MP in the lower house of the Japanese parliament, Hodaka Maruyama. The Japanese legislator asserted that Tokyo would be able to get back the southern Kuril Islands - which Japan refers to as its "northern territories" - only as a result of war with Russia. His remarks set off alarm bells among Japanese politicians and experts fearing that it could toughen Moscow’s stance at the territorial negotiations with Tokyo.
The political and psychological atmosphere around that statement was exacerbated by the fact that it had been made during the Japanese lawmaker’s visit to the southern Kuril Islands as part of a visa-free exchange between former Japanese residents of these islands and the current Russian inhabitants.
The degree of concern about an adverse effect stemming from that incident on Russian-Japanese relations is evidenced by the large-scale campaign in the country to disavow the MP’s statement and punish him, going as far as even stripping him of his mandate.
However, Tokyo’s fears seem to be greatly exaggerated. Judging by media reports, the Japanese lawmaker’s remarks were not discussed at the "2+2" consultations. Moscow responded to them with a brief commentary by the Russian Foreign Ministry, saying that Tokyo needs to clarify whether Maruyama’s statements were not just his personal opinion, but also a reflection of views in favor of using force to resolve the territorial issue that exist in certain circles of Japan.
The territorial issue topped the agenda of the Russian-Japanese consultations, but no progress in resolving it has been reported. In light of that, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper noted that the Abe administration had abandoned its plan to reach an agreement on it with Russia this month because of persisting disagreements on the "northern territories." Initially, Tokyo hoped that the agreement would be signed during a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka. According to the newspaper, the peace treaty talks will continue, but the process will be lengthy.
RBC: Poroshenko to continue pursuing political career
Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko will continue his political career, RBC writes. On May 31, Kiev hosted a caucus of the European Solidarity (formerly the Pyotr Poroshenko Bloc - Solidarity) party, which used to be led by Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko. The convention elected Poroshenko the party’s Chairman.
RBC’s sources in the parties earlier said that Deputy Parliament Speaker Irina Gerashchenko could be elected as the party’s chairperson, but the convention endorsed the decision to elect Poroshenko.
The European Solidarity’s objective is to unite all nationalist and pro-European forces, the paper quotes Ukrainian political scientist Vadim Karasyov as saying.
Ukraine’s snap parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held on July 21. Competition with other political forces, including Yulia Timoshenko’s Batkivschyna (Fatherland) and Anatoly Gritsenko's Civic Position, is fierce, that’s why the European Solidary party needs Poroshenko as its leader rather than Gerashchenko.
According to Poroshenko, the party’s key goal is to ensure that there is no alternative to Kiev’s European path as "a guarantee of Ukraine’s security and independence."
The European Solidarity party can fight for second or third place in the parliamentary elections, Karasyov said.
However, according to the latest survey conducted by Ukraine’s Rating sociological group on May 16-21, 51.9% of those polled said they would not vote for Poroshenko’s party under any circumstances, while 8.8% said they were ready to back it. More than 43% of the respondents said they were ready to vote for Vladimir Zelensky’s Servant of the People party. As many as 10.5% of those polled said they would support the Opposition Platform - for Life party, while 7.3% were in favor of the Batkivschyna party.
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