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Press review: Putin-Modi talks eclipse EEF opener and Abe accentuates Far East investment

Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, September 5

 

Izvestia: Putin-Modi talks eclipse Eastern Economic Forum’s opening

These days, Russia’s Far Eastern port city of Vladivostok has been in the spotlight. More than 5,000 participants from 50 countries around the globe are attending the fifth Eastern Economic Forum, which kicked off on Russky Island on Wednesday. Among them are 480 Russian and 140 foreign CEOs. The guest of honor, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was the first foreign leader who arrived in Vladivostok for a state visit. Modi discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin key issues of cooperation and the two leaders adopted a joint statement dubbed: "Reaching New Heights of Cooperation through Trust and Partnership".

The leaders of Malaysia, Japan and Mongolia are also expected to attend the three-day forum. Western representatives will also be there, including delegations from the United States and the United Kingdom, Izvestia writes.

Last year, some 220 agreements to the tune of more than 3 trillion rubles ($45.3 bln) were signed at the EEF. This year, the organizers foresee the same amount or even possible more. That said, on the first day, the forum’s participants already inked a number of deals.

Meanwhile, the meeting between the Russian and Indian heads of state eclipsed the EEF’s opening, becoming a major event in Vladivostok during the forum. It is noteworthy that the talks lasted the entire day, rather than just a few hours. Modi became the first Indian premier, who has visited Vladivostok, the paper writes. The dialogue mainly focused on cultivating economic cooperation. The sides have set the goal of bringing bilateral trade turnover to $30 bln by 2025. A total of 15 documents were signed after the talks.

"Our countries have great prospects in the military and technical sphere. Over the past years, Russia has clearly demonstrated its potential," member of the Russian Federation Council’s (upper house) Defense and Security Committee Franz Klintsevich told Izvestia. "Our armaments are unrivaled, especially when it comes to price and quality. For example, US goods are inferior in many respects, but are more expensive by dozens of times," he noted.

 

Izvestia: Japanese PM seeks to continue dialogue on signing peace deal with Russia

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is determined to continue a "persistent and consistent" dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to sign a peace treaty between Moscow and Tokyo. In an interview with Izvestia ahead of his meeting with the Russian president at the Eastern Economic Forum on Thursday, Abe also said that soon Japanese tourists would visit the South Kuril Islands, which Tokyo traditionally calls the Northern Territories, as part of an inaugural project. He also explained on what fronts - in addition to energy and natural resources - bilateral cooperation is developing, while also unveiling the volume of Japanese investment in Russia’s Far East.

"Japanese-Russian relations have great opportunities. I wish that the fulfillment of this potential through fostering bilateral cooperation in various areas enables the people of our countries to feel that Japan and Russia are partners, who support and need each other. I’m sure that this fulfillment will bring us mutual benefits," Abe said.

Over the past three years, Japan has put forward more than 200 projects on cooperation through the joint efforts of governmental and private organizations, he noted. "We are building cooperation in such areas as raising the life expectancy of the Russian populace, making Russian cities more functional and comfortable, developing the Far East’s infrastructure and industry and expanding bilateral humanitarian exchanges." The Japanese premier said he planned to continue work on bolstering trust among the countries by boosting the number of mutually beneficial projects.

According to Abe, Japan’s investment in Russia’s Far East, including in Sakhalin 1 and Sakhalin 2 projects, has exceeded $15 bln. Japan is the world’s major importer of liquefied natural gas and given the growing demand for gas around the world, it’s highly likely that the Japanese-Russian partnership in this sphere would grow, he noted.

In addition to an 8-point plan on cooperation, many new investment projects have been introduced, including plans for a Japanese-Russian center for preventive medicine and diagnosis in Khabarovsk, a plant to manufacture car engines in Vladivostok as well as the production and import of pellets. At least 40% of projects under this strategy are linked to the Far East, Abe said. "I’m sure that the Far East’s potential may contribute to further growth if Japan and Russia team up in developing infrastructure, industry and renovating the environment and functionality of such cities as Vladivostok," he stressed.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: British PM gets caught in ‘election trap’

On Wednesday, the ongoing standoff continued between the UK’s House of Commons and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leader of the ruling Conservative Party, who is not hiding his intention to carry out a no-deal Brexit by October 31 if Brussels fails to make concessions, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. On the same day, the MPs tried to pass a bill, which will strip the premier and his cabinet of the possibility to fulfill the disastrous Brexit scenario and keep Britain in the EU until late January 2020. During the vote, the supporters of this legal initiative managed to secure the necessary support of legislators and ensure that the House of Commons assumes control over the parliament’s agenda on September 4 (328 MPs voted yes and 301 said no). This means that the supporters of a "hard" Brexit managed to take the first step towards blocking a looming no-deal Brexit.

Johnson’s strategy is to sign a deal with Brussels by the upcoming EU summit due on October 17-18 and carry out Brexit by October 31. According to him, the UK government has achieved significant progress and would succeed in eliminating the "backstop" mechanism for Northern Ireland’s border with the EU. He called on the MPs to reject the bill, which would tie his hands and undermine London’s negotiating position.

Commenting on Johnson’s remark that progress had been reached at the talks, the EU said the discussion was at a dead end, and warned that an early election in the UK would fully halt the negotiations. In order to hold snap parliamentary polls, the British premier needs the support of two-thirds of votes (434 out of 650). This means that Johnson should secure the backing of his key political rivals in the Labour Party, some of whom have earlier called for holding early parliamentary polls, the paper writes.

According to Nikolai Topornin, Associate Professor of the European Law Department at the MGIMO University, "Johnson has forced himself into this election trap. He knew the possible outcome, but still, he is not afraid now of holding the election, although he does not want this. I think he will stick to his guns," the professor predicted, adding, "but we’ll see if he has enough armor to counter all these artillery systems," the expert said.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: New independent anti-Taliban front set up in Afghanistan

Politicians in Washington and Kabul will soon face resistance in Afghanistan. One of these signs was the expected formation of a separate political movement in the country’s north. Its official launch is scheduled for September 5, and Ahmad Massoud Jr, the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, an influential anti-Taliban field commander, will lead the organization, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Ahmad Massoud Jr. has hinted that he opposes a potential deal between the US and the Taliban (outlawed in Russia). According to him, this dialogue only emboldens terrorists, and a counterbalance must be created against the Taliban.

The new political movement will be set up in Afghanistan’s northeastern Panjshir province, which is seen as a symbol of resistance against the Taliban. This is mainly thanks to the efforts of Massoud's father, who in September 1996 together with his forces retreated to this area after the Taliban had taken control over Kabul and prevented the militants from moving further to the north, the paper writes. The announcement on establishing the new political movement apparently comes as the talks in Qatar between the US and the Taliban are in their final stage now and Washington is close to withdrawing its troops from the Islamic Republic. Massoud Jr. says that the potential deal is dangerous for Afghanistan because a speedy withdrawal of foreign forces could destroy the Afghan security system. The politician plans to create a coalition, which will counter Taliban militants both politically and militarily.

Omar Nessar, Director of the Center for Contemporary Afghan Studies, recalls that the Northern Alliance military and political movement was set up in the second half of the 1990s as a response to the Taliban’s expansion. After the death of its leader Ahmad Shah Massoud two days before the ill-fated 9/11 attack, the alliance faced a major crisis. No new leaders emerged who could convene a broad coalition. According to the analyst, the restoration of the Northern Alliance (in case of a growing terrorist threat coming from Afghanistan’s territory) could become a key element of regional security system like in the 1990s. The new Northern Alliance is trying to distance itself from the agreements, which the US and the Taliban are about to reach.

 

Kommersant: Russia rises in national Internet segments’ reliability ranking

Russia has improved its positions in the ranking of national Internet segments’ reliability, rising two notches to number 11, Kommersant writes, citing an annual report by Qrator Labs. The Russian company, specializing in countering DDoS-attacks, has analyzed national segments of 224 countries. The ranking selected those operators, which are crucial for the operation of national Internet segments. An Internet segment is considered more stable if there are more alternative routes of traffic. Russia’s leading Internet provider is Rostelecom. The potential disruption of its operations could curb access to 4.74% of Russian Internet segment’s networks.

The growing reliability of the Internet in Russia is attributed to better relations between market participants and developing networks in regions with low penetration, for example in the Far East, Qrator Labs Technical Director Artem Gavrichenkov told the paper. This year, there is no rivalry for the title of a national leader in Russia, although Rostelecom has never been a monopoly on the traffic market, he noted.

Russia’s authorities have also made efforts to boost the reliability of the country’s Internet segment, the paper writes. On November 1, 2019, a law on the sovereign Runet will come into effect, stipulating that should the national Internet segment be switched off from the global network, Russia will be able to introduce a centralized administration of the network. A national system of domain names is expected to be unveiled in 2021.

 

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