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Press review: World powers on guard of Iran nuclear deal and who can take on Trump in 2020

Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday, July 30

Kommersant: World powers striving to rescue Iran nuclear deal

Iran slapped Washington by rejecting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s offer to come to Tehran and "speak directly to the Iranian people," Kommersant writes. However, the Iranian authorities have invited new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, despite Iran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz and "the war of nerves" between London and Tehran. Neither did this incident disrupt London’s participation in the meeting of five world powers, which are signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The meeting took place in Vienna on Sunday and was also attended by representatives of Germany, France, Russia and China. The five world powers hope to salvage the nuclear deal, preventing Iran from leaving it in September following Washington's unilateral withdrawal, according to Kommersant.

The next six weeks will show whether the five world powers can foil the development of Iranian nuclear programs, which Tehran may resume in response to US steps. According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, on September 4-5 Iran is planning to carry out the third step towards scaling down its commitments under the deal, which would be the turning point. Russia is calling on Tehran to refrain from this move, explaining that this would only escalate tensions.

Tehran made its first symbolic step towards abandoning the nuclear deal on May 8, declaring that it stopped meeting some commitments, namely on the enriched uranium stockpiles and heavy water. At the first stage, Iran exceeded the 300 kg limit on low-enriched uranium and at the second stage it enriched uranium to 4.5%, above the 3.67% limit set by the deal.

Nevertheless, these steps did not become "a point of no return" meaning that the country has resumed its full-scale implementation of nuclear programs, the paper says. Given this, the five world powers consider that one of the vital measures to avoid Tehran’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal is to ease negative consequences of US sanctions. This can be achieved by launching full-scale operations of INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges), a special-purpose mechanism to facilitate trade with Iran, which is still operating in a pilot mode.

The Vienna meeting’s participants agreed on stepping up efforts to use INSTEX for carrying out transactions by non-EU members and also transactions related to the Iranian oil supplies. Besides, Russia called on other parties to the deal to boost efforts on defending Iranian nuclear facilities in Fordow and Arak from unilateral US sanctions.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia to become first target of global trade slowdown

Experts no longer doubt that the global economy will face a serious crisis, and the only questions now are when and where it will begin and how deep it will be. Russia’s ACRA (Analytical Credit Rating Agency) has recently joined those warning about a global economic downturn, predicting that it will begin in late 2019, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

According to analysts, the US-Chinese trade war will trigger a recession in the United States (-0.7% GDP) in 2020, while China will only face a slowdown in growth rates to 4-4.5%. The decline in the global trade growth rate will lead to a drop in demand in Russia’s traditional export goods, namely raw materials.

Experts polled by the paper do not cherish hope that Russia’s economy will be able to keep growing while the world economy will go down. "In the event of a global economic slump, Russia’s economy will hardly stay afloat, especially given the current sanctions," leading analyst at Forex Optimum Ivan Kapustyansky said. "This is explained by its structure. Russia’s economy depends on export, and Russia’s key export is raw material. Thus, should global demand slow down, the demand in raw materials will fall as well." According to the expert, only significant structural economic reforms can change this situation.

Expert at the Academy of Finance and Investment Management Gennady Nikolayev notes that Russia has substantial financial reserves, but lacks ideas of how to invest them. "The government has no idea as to how to boost the economy and hopes to carry out a milder monetary policy. So, should a global crisis start, Russia will be affected no less than other countries."

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Democrats need new leader to beat Trump in 2020 race

The 2020 US presidential election campaign kicked off amid an unprecedented polarization of the American political system and society over the past decades. The Democrats’ goal will be to not just make it into the White House, but turn the tables after their embarrassing defeat in 2016, regain dominating positions in the political process as well to overcome the ongoing crisis in the party, Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at Russia’s Higher School of Economics and an expert at the Valdai International Discussion Club Dmitry Suslov wrote in an article for Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

The current election campaign shows how the Republican Party has changed over the past years and what Donald Trump means for US history and development. Many perceived his victory in 2016 as a historic blunder, attributing it to the alleged Russian meddling. However, the current situation demonstrates that Trump's presidency has changed America and continues changing it. The 2018 mid-term election indicated that the Republican Party consolidated around Trump and the 2020 campaign is demonstrating this more vividly. There is no talk in the party whether Trump should run for the second term, the expert notes. The voters who supported Trump in 2016 are still loyal to him and moreover, there is an understanding that Trump is the strongest politician of the Republican Party and it won’t be easy to defeat him in 2020.

One of the key issues for the Democrats now is who can challenge Trump. In order to win, Democrats need a serious revamp, new people and a new agenda. The upcoming year will show whether the party can be renewed. There are new people among Democrats such as Tulsi Gabbard and Kamala Harris. However, the political elite is still consolidated around old-fashioned politicians such as former Vice President Joe Biden, who is branded as a single Democratic candidate and Trump’s key opponent. Meanwhile, the debates have exposed that the Democratic Party is being renewed. The winner of the first televised debate was Kamala Harris, a senator from California of Jamaican and Indian origin, who is considered as the front-runner. It is only new faces like Harris that can consolidate the Democratic electorate rather than old-fashioned politicians like Biden, the expert says.

Izvestia: Decreased intensity of shelling gives hope for peace in Donbass

The intensity of shelling on the contact line between the Kiev troops and the Donbass forces has significantly declined after a new ceasefire came into effect on July 21, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic Deputy Militia Chief Eduard Basurin told Izvestia. Although shelling is still on, there is a positive dynamic giving hope that soon peace will be brought to the region, Basurin said.

While shelling attacks by the Kiev forces earlier used to be reported a dozen times per day, the new ceasefire was violated only some 30 times in the past week. According to sources in Kiev, the Ukrainian leadership is now working on removing volunteer battalions, such as Azov, from the region, which are to blame for the provocations.

Ukraine’s new President Vladimir Zelensky came to power under the slogan of peace and unification of the country, the paper notes. The Ukrainian leader has repeatedly called for putting an end to the war in Donbass. However, so far Ukraine only had a new president come to power, while the new parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, where his Servant of the People party has secured most seats, is due to hold its first session only in late August. Most allies of former President Pyotr Poroshenko still have their seats in parliament.

According to the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots, Leonid Kalashnikov, Ukrainians backed Zelensky as their new leader because he pledged to stop the civil war. "He is trying to commit to this. Given that Zelensky has not gained control over the country as yet and power is still in transition, the mere fact of lowered intensity of combat actions demonstrates positive trends. I believe this comes from Zelensky’s orders," the lawmaker told the paper.

The new authorities in Ukraine are not seeking an escalation, and as soon as new people are appointed to the leading posts in the government, Zelensky’s team will be able to start settling the Donbass crisis, said Russian Institute for Strategic Studies expert Vladimir Yevseyev.

Izvestia: Wildfires in Siberia break three-year record

Wildfires in Siberia and the Far East’s Trans-Baikal Region have engulfed the largest territory in three years. According to the Aerial Forest Protection Service, in the first seven months of 2019 wildfires affected an area of 2.4 mln hectares in Siberia, nearly double the figure of the same period last year. In the Far Eastern region, the fires are blazing on an area of 3.9 mln hectares, compared with 1.2 mln hectares in 2017. Smoke has covered the cities of Siberia and the Trans-Baikal region. According to experts, should this trend continue in 10 years, Russia could lose all its timber reserves, including valuable species such as cedar, Izvestia writes.

The fires are being spread to hard-to-reach areas by dry thunderstorms and strong winds amid an abnormal heat, the Federal Agency for Forestry said. This weather is unlikely to change soon, experts predict.


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