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Press review: Why Kyrgyz ex-leader met with Putin and collapse of INF Treaty to hurt EU

Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, July 25
Former president of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS
Former president of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev
© Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS


Kommersant: Reasons behind ex-Kyrgyz president's meeting with Putin

Former president of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev flew to Moscow on Wednesday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The details of his conversation with Putin were not disclosed, but at the end of the meeting, the Russian leader said it was necessary to "unite around the current president" of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov. According to experts interviewed by Kommersant, Atambayev has a serious conflict with Jeenbekov, but with the participation of Moscow, it could be resolved.

According to experts, the ex-president hoped to maintain his influence as a shadow head of state, but this plan failed. Back in Kyrgyzstan he is accused of corruption and abuse of power. Atambayev’s problems began after his conflict with his successor Sooronbay Jeenbekov escalated, the newspaper wrote.

Many politicians in Bishkek considered the fact that the ex-president was trying to enlist the support of Moscow as interference in the affairs of the republic. "He is afraid to end up in prison and thinks that his problems will be solved with the help of Moscow," former Interior Minister Kuvanychbek Kadyrov told Kommersant. "In Kyrgyzstan, this only causes resentment and questions as to why Moscow would support the politician accused of major embezzlement," he added.

At the same time, a Russian expert on Central Asia, Arkady Dubnov told Kommersant that although after the visit to Moscow, the Kyrgyz Prosecutor General’s Office "could really change their line of conduct," Moscow’s true goal is not to defend the ex-president of Kyrgyzstan, but to strengthen its own status in the region. "Kyrgyz perturbation is understandable, but the truth is that the former and current presidents of the country really cannot agree among themselves, which threatens with destabilization," Dubnov said. "If Moscow helps resolve their conflict, it will strengthen its status as stability guarantor and ‘bigger brother’, engaged in resolving every issue in the region," he told the newspaper.


Izvestia: UK considers blacklisting Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

The UK may recognize the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, sources in the UK government circles told Izvestia. According to the sources, the IRGC was responsible for the seizure of the Stena Impero tanker, which allegedly violated the border of the territorial waters of Iran. The UK Foreign Office did not refute nor confirm the information, telling Izvestia that they had long been concerned about the military activity of the corps in the Persian Gulf, Syria, and Lebanon. The department also noted that the organization and a number of its leaders are already under EU sanctions. At the same time, the European Parliament told Izvestia they were not going to follow London and neither would Moscow.

"London is considering various options to influence Iran, including economic, but not military ones - we don’t want to exacerbate the conflict. One of the most likely options in this regard is recognizing the IRGC as a terrorist organization," a source in diplomatic circles told Izvestia. Another source told Izvestia, that this step would be a diplomatic sting rather than a real response to the tanker’s seizure.

Meanwhile, Brussels would not support the decision of the British authorities. Germany does not share the position either, which, along with France and the UK, is one of the six guarantors of the nuclear deal.

Russia also has no reason to include the IRGC on the list of terrorist organizations, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council’s defense committee Franz Klintsevich told Izvestia. "The IRGC today is quite successfully and effectively fighting the Islamic State (terrorist organization banned in Russia) in Syria and operates there officially. The United States has imposed and will continue to impose such things on its allies in order to complicate the fight against real terrorists in the region," the politician told Izvestia.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Kiev wants to speed up gas negotiations with Russia

After securing control over the Verkhovna Rada, the team of Vladimir Zelensky indicated that it is ready for new gas negotiations with Russia. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta's experts, Kiev’s decisiveness is explained by the pressure from the European Union and Ukraine’s interest in receiving transit revenues from Russia. Meanwhile, the real chances of a new transit agreement have grown, the newspaper wrote. Ukrtransgas has not paid for services since March and its debts threaten the company’s stability and question the reliability of its supplies, the European Federation of Energy Traders (EFET) said.

Interruptions in gas transportation through the territory of Ukraine can weaken Kiev’s position in the upcoming negotiations on gas transit between Ukraine, the EU and Russia, according to the EFET. Naftogaz management is also rushing the agreement - according to the company’s Executive Officer Yury Vitrenko, there are no reasons to postpone the Ukraine-Russia-EU trilateral meeting to discuss gas transit after elections to the Verkhovna Rada are over, but technical consultations should be held first.

"Ukraine wants to hold talks with Russia on the gas issue in order to maintain revenues from transit, the volumes of which would seriously decline after the introduction of the TurkStream and the Nord Stream 2. Thus, difficult negotiations on the price of transit are coming, and Europe may be seriously concerned about the reliability of transit through Ukraine, which also makes Kiev proactive," senior analyst at BCS Premier Sergey Suverov told the newspaper.

"Negotiations between Moscow and Kiev may begin in the near future. The hasty decision of Kiev suggests that the Ukrainian side plans to return to the negotiating table, as the supply contract ends in late 2019, and there isn't a new one yet," General Director of Russia’s NaftaGaz Islam Nazaraliev told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.


Izvestia: Collapse of INF Treaty hurts everyone, notably Europe - EP Vice-President

The European Union must support a multilateral arms agreement of a new generation, which would replace the collapsing Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), Vice-President of the European Parliament Fabio Massimo Castaldo said in an interview with Izvestia. He noted that China must be included in the new treaty.

The politician believes that terminating the INF Treaty is bad for everyone, and above all for Europeans. According to him, the United States and Russia blame each other, but one of the reasons for the collapse of the treaty was the absence of Beijing among its signatories. Therefore, he believes that it is necessary to begin working on a new arms agreement that would also include China in the list of participants. The European Union should support any initiative that would lead to the signing of such a document, he told Izvestia.

Talking about a dialogue between Moscow and Brussels, the politician said he is convinced that dialogue with Russia is one of the fundamental elements of the EU's foreign policy. At the same time, it is obvious that outside of political declarations in bilateral relations there is a certain alienation, he added. According to him, every opportunity must be used to resume dialogue and restore trust between the parties, which can be extremely difficult. However, various regional and global problems can be resolved only by coming together.


Vedomosti: Avtotor will build another plant for BMW or Hyundai/Kia by 2020

Russia’s automobile holding Avtotor, which assembles cars of foreign brands in Kaliningrad, plans to build a new plant for production of cars with a capacity of 50,000 vehicles per year in 2020, General Director of the holding Alexander Sorokin told Vedomosti.

It is assumed that the company will manufacture cars of its main partners - BMW or Hyundai/Kia. However, according to Vedomosti, the holding has not yet decided on a partner for the construction - it will be revealed after the automakers outline their production plans for 2021 and subsequent years.

The plant will be located near the main site of Avtotor. There will be two universal assembly lines with a capacity of 25,000 cars per year each. It was also planned to set up a welding and paint shop at the plant before 2024.

At the same time, according to Vedomosti, the enterprise will be built to fulfill the conditions of a special investment contract, which Avtotor signed with Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade at the beginning of July this year. The cost of the plant’s construction is not disclosed at the moment.

Continuing cooperation with Avtotor should help BMW maintain access to state support measures, analyst at VTB Capital Vladimir Bespalov told the newspaper. However, the company might have a hard time loading capacities of 50,000 cars a year, he added. Last year, BMW sales in Russia, according to the Association of European Businesses, grew by 19% to 35,619 cars.


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