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Press review: Has the UN lived up to expectations and US-Poland troop move menaces Russia

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, June 26
United Nations headquarters in New York AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
United Nations headquarters in New York
© AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Izvestia: UN remains in demand, despite its shortcomings, says Russian envoy

The United Nations was able to escape the fate of the League of Nations and prevented WW3, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN Vasily Nebenzya told Izvestia. According to him, this was largely due to the work of its Security Council. Nonetheless, the diplomat admitted that the UN is not perfect, but it reflects the shortcomings and contradictions of our world.

"The UN is not perfect, but neither is our world. The global institution can only reflect its contradictions and shortcomings because it is part of it. As our world changes for the better, so will the UN become better," he told the newspaper.

He added that many Security Council resolutions have practical implications, some of which involve the use of sanctions or even the use of force. "I have no doubts that most UN decisions continue to enjoy significant authority. Countries are seeking their adoption for a good reason," the diplomat added, noting "It is important to remember that the UN is by no means a cure-all. But the world has no alternative to it".

As for the UN’s work to combat the falsification of history, Nebenzya noted that the Russian initiative in this sphere has "the broad support of UN member states, which confirms the relevance of the problems it touches upon. In 2019, the number of co-authors of the document exceeded 60 countries." "Like in previous years, only the delegations of the United States and Ukraine spoke out against it, and 52 countries abstained from voting. We consider this position unacceptable. We are convinced that this topic should serve to unite UN member states, especially taking into account the 75th anniversary of the Victory in World War II," he said.


Kommersant: Russia to accelerate arms deals with India

Moscow will speed up the fulfillment of a key defense contract with India, which entails the delivery of five S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM), and it will also step up negotiations on the supply of 33 MiG-29 and Su-30MKI fighters to India, Kommersant wrote. The agreement to accelerate military-technical cooperation with the largest buyer of Russian weapons was the key upshot of Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s trip to Moscow. India’s desire to obtain Russian fighters and air defense systems as soon as possible is caused by its growing need to neutralize threats from China and Pakistan. Indian military sources told Kommersant, in the event of a conflict, Russian weapons will not give the South Asian giant’s enemies a chance of air superiority.

Indian sources told Kommersant that the initiative by Delhi has long-term strategic goals associated with the need to maintain a changing balance of forces at once on two borders, with China and Pakistan. "In the event of hostilities, a situation may arise when India will be forced to use its fighters simultaneously for both defensive and offensive purposes. And this is very difficult," a source in India told Kommersant, adding "the imbalance will be eliminated after the S-400 air defense system takes on the main role of protecting India’s airspace, empowering it to look deep into Pakistani territory and track enemy aircraft as soon as they are in the air, and monitor Chinese fighters, taking off from airfields along the Tibetan plateau."

According to Kommersant’s sources in the Indian capital, three of the Russian S-400 systems will be placed on the border with Pakistan and two on the control line with China.

The Chinese side has not officially commented on Russian defense contracts with India. However, according to experts, Beijing is trying to influence Moscow’s decision to sell weapons to India. "Earlier, in private conversations, Chinese diplomats and experts expressed their dissatisfaction with Moscow’s military-technical cooperation with Beijing’s opponents, primarily with India and Vietnam. However, all these attempts can be viewed as [China] testing the waters to see how much the Russian side gives into pressure on this issue," Chair of the Russia in the Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center Alexander Gabuev explained to Kommersant.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia, France plan to discuss overlapping foreign policy interests

A videoconference between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron will focus on the relations between the two countries, as well as the situation in Iran, Syria, Ukraine, and Libya. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, interest in the North African country is especially noteworthy, given that because of Libya, France’s relations with its NATO ally Turkey have deteriorated significantly. Meanwhile, experts believe that the Macron administration’s recent contacts with Moscow could be dictated by France’s domestic politics.

According to the newspaper, there is no serious news on Syria or the conflict in Donbass, but the situation is changing in North Africa. Egypt announced its willingness to intervene in the civil war in Libya on the side of Khalifa Haftar so as not to allow Turkey to gain a foothold in the areas of oil terminals. The Erdogan government accused France and Egypt of supporting Haftar.

Yuri Rubinsky, who heads the Center for French Studies at RAS’ Institute of Europe, told the newspaper that Russia and France have both overlapping interests and conflicts in Libya, as well as in the Middle East in general. "But there is no visible initiative that can bring the countries closer in the long run. Immediately, after his election, Macron was about to restart dialogue with Russia, but it didn’t work out very well. It is clear, for example, that the EU sanctions introduced over Ukraine will not be lifted," the expert said.

Rubinsky is inclined to connect Macron’s activity along the Russia policy track with the situation in France. "In 2022, the country will face a new presidential election. The question is what Macron will use. Now, he wants to breathe new life into his domestic and foreign policy," he said. The expert believes that recent contacts with Russia also point to a search for a new foreign policy direction.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US-Poland troop move threatens Russia

The outcome of the talks between the US and Polish presidents shows that Donald Trump is ready to provide Warsaw with "additional military forces" by reducing the Pentagon’s presence in Germany. At a joint press conference with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, Trump said that the countries will soon sign a new defense cooperation agreement. Experts told Nezavismaya Gazeta that fighters from the USAF’s Spangdahlem Air Base, located in western Germany, will be sent to Poland, which will pay for the additional deployment of US forces in the country. According to experts, as far as Russia is concerned this is a real and perpetual threat, and it is bound to increase.

The US tactical aviation at the German base currently has 50 fourth-generation F-16CJ multi-functional light fighters and Republic A/OA-10 attack aircraft, as well as TPS-75 radar systems. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, if under a contract with the United States, Poland purchased 32 fifth-generation F-35A Lightning II fighters by the end of 2024, the total number of modern offensive combat aircraft in this country would be more than 100 units. Most of them can carry the recently upgraded US nuclear tactical bomb B61-12.

"The Russian Western Military District has several aviation regiments, armed with modern fourth-generation combat aircraft. However, their total number is not much bigger than what can be concentrated in Poland in a few years. NATO’s aviation potential, in general, is already superior to Russia’s. And in the coming years it will be significantly increased, which will require specific actions from Russia to strengthen its western borders, including aviation forces," military expert Lieutenant General Yuri Netkachev told the newspaper.

According to military expert colonel Vladimir Popov, transferring a portion of the US forces to Poland, namely modern combat aircraft, contradicts the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act, according to which NATO has committed to not deploy its troops along Russian borders on an ongoing basis. "However, it can be assumed that US aviation and other units will be based in Poland on a temporary, rotational basis. But this is also a real threat to Russia," the expert said.


Izvestia: Russians to continue Internet shopping after quarantine

During the pandemic, the number of new customers in the e-commerce market reached 7 mln people, according to the National Association of Distance Trading. In total, about 60 mln people use the Internet sales market in Russia. The Federal Antimonopoly Service told Izvestia that a developed competitive environment contributed to the growth of services and customers on digital platforms. Representatives of the industry believe that Russians have formed their habit of online shopping during the lockdown period, which will remain in the future.

According to Data Insight Research Director Boris Ovchinnikov, the quarantine will give the e-commerce market a long-term boost. The influx of new customers during the pandemic on average to each online store was 200% year-on-year, President of the Association of Internet Trade Companies Artem Sokolov told Izvestia. According to him, e-commerce seriously helped many companies during the lockdown, and allowed them to stay afloat, but, unfortunately, did not become their salvation. He noted that traditional offline retailers were able to transfer online only 5-20% of sales from their usual revenue, but lost 80%.

The pandemic shaped new patterns of behavior in people, Sokolov continued. In the post-coronavirus reality, most shoppers will stick to online commerce.

Under the new conditions, the e-commerce market has received an additional impetus in development, Deputy Head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service Anatoly Golomolzin told Izvestia. According to him, the developed competitive environment in communications, technology and logistics promoted the growth of services and the number of customers. He told the newspaper that surge in digital platforms leads to price stabilization, and improves the quality of services.


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