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Press review: Has Pakistan entered the Karabakh conflict and why Pompeo is touring S. Asia

Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, October 28
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka Dinesh Gunawardena EPA-EFE/CHAMILA KARUNARATHNE
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka Dinesh Gunawardena

Media: Armenia claims Pakistan joining Karabakh conflict on Azeri side

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has brought Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan much closer together, boosting their efforts to create a new strategic troika in Eurasia, Kommersant writes.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in an interview with the Indian media that "there is information that militants from Pakistan are involved in the war against Karabakh." He earlier told Russian reporters about Pakistan’s active role in the conflict. In response, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev stated that Turkey and Pakistan supported Baku "but military assistance is out of the question."

However, Baku and Islamabad make no secret of their political and diplomatic support for each other.

"The main reason why Islamabad has joined the Karabakh game is rooted in the special relations between Pakistan and Turkey. The Pakistani military leadership has always highly valued its alliance with Ankara," said Andrei Serenko, who heads the Center for Contemporary Afghan Studies.

"There have recently been reports about militants being recruited in Pakistan to fight in the Karabakh conflict, which is another move the Pakistani military is making in favor of its Turkish ally. Islamabad has little interest in the Karabakh issue itself, it is important for Pakistan primarily in relation to Turkey’s interests and in terms of boosting its strategic partnership," Serenko added.

Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has visited Kazakhstan, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Russian political scientist Arkady Dubnov believes that Turkey seeks to secure the support of Turkic nations in future talks on Nagorno-Karabakh. According to Kazakh political expert Zamir Karazhanov, Ankara is acting rather independently, without regard for NATO. It seeks to defend its own interests in the region and expand its area of interest to all Turkic countries.


Izvestia: Pompeo tours South Asia in bid to bolster anti-China alliance

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently on a visit to India and is scheduled to travel to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia afterwards. The goal of his trip is to clarify ways to jointly combat threats coming from China. However, not all countries are ready to take an anti-Chinese stance. Despite its rapprochement with the US, India is unlikely to join a military alliance with Washington, Izvestia writes.

New Delhi has been boosting defense cooperation with Washington in recent years and began to show even more interest in cooperation with the US after a border conflict with China had broken out in May. As a new world order is emerging, countries will increasingly seek to harmonize their national interests with the interests of states that can be helpful in this regard, Observer Research Foundation President Samir Saran told the newspaper.

According to Chaitanya Giri, an expert at India’s Gateway House think tank, Moscow has always understood New Delhi’s doctrine of strategic autonomy because even Russia-India trade depends on geopolitical stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

After India, Pompeo will visit Sri Lanka, a country that received multibillion loans from China in the past years, which turned its leadership into Beijing’s loyal ally.

Assistant Professor with the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Birla Institute of Technology and Science Shamshad Ahmad Khan says that by spreading its economic influence, China has gained a foothold in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which have always been India’s close friends. But now they depend on China’s financial assistance in the implementation of various development projects and it won’t be easy to draw them away from Beijing.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Lukashenko may get support from Union State military integration

Moscow and Minsk seek to demonstrate unity in defense integration matters amid the ongoing political unrest in Belarus. The outcome of a joint conference of the two countries’ defense ministries is more proof of it, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

In a way, Lukashenko’s national problems are Russia’s problems too since Belarus is part of the Union State. It’s hard to say whether a Union Army will be formed in the coming years but both Moscow and Minsk have shown their intention to create unified armed forces as domestic instability mounts in Belarus.

The two countries made their position clear on Tuesday by greenlighting the plan for the Zapad-2021 joint strategic drills. "Approaches to repelling potential aggression against Russia and Belarus were developed at the time of the Zapad-2017 exercise, when NATO countries were relocating troops to the Baltic states and Poland. Now, their troops are present there constantly, on a rotation basis," military expert Lieutenant General Yuri Netkachev told the paper.

Meanwhile, there is no specific information about the future of defense integration between Russia and Belarus.

According to military expert Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Ovchinninkov, Moscow is not demanding that more Russian military bases should be set up in Belarus in return for the supply of advanced weapons. "I don’t think that the Lukashenko regime will hinge on joint Russian-Belarusian forces. However, it will be a deterrent for internal and external enemies. It may also be one of the major premises for forming a Union Army that will protect the Union State from the border with Poland in the West to the border with Japan in the East," Ovchinnikov emphasized.


Izvestia: Hurricanes in US to cause oil price fluctuations

Hurricane Zeta hitting the US Gulf of Mexico will cause oil price fluctuations but won’t bring major changes, said analysts interviewed by Izvestia.

The hurricane will have a short-term impact and no significant price fluctuations should be expected, Deputy Director of Alpari’s Analytical Department Natalya Milchakova pointed out. According to her, oil prices would be hovering between $40 and $42 per barrel over the next few days.

Vygon Consulting Senior Consultant Ekaterina Kolbikova stressed that there were many other factors that could push prices down. They include, in particular, expectations of declining oil demand due to the return of coronavirus restrictions and a potential rescheduling of the move to ease quotas within the OPEC+ deal, the expert explained.

"Following the declaration of a ceasefire in Libya and the recovery of the country’s daily oil output to 600,000 barrels, the hurricane’s impact takes a back seat," QBF Portfolio Manager Tural Gadirli noted. He believes that the inflow of Libyan oil may worsen the oversupply on the oil market.

At the same time, the OPEC+ output cut deal is what continues to keep oil prices from falling, Milchakova stressed. Specific decisions are expected to be made at the OPEC and OPEC+ summits in December, the analyst added.


Izvestia: Only quarter of Russians know what COVID-19 is

Only 23% of Russians can correctly answer the question as to what COVID-19 is, a poll conducted by Izvestia indicates. At the same time, 45% of those surveyed understand that people need to self-isolate in case of contact with an infected person. However, experts point to a low level of COVID-19 awareness.

"Our fellow citizens don’t always have enough trust in official information. Besides, official data, as well as information about the coronavirus in general, is sometimes contradictory. For instance, WHO officials initially said that wearing face masks was ineffective but later they called for restrictions and demanded that masks should be mandatory at all times," Assistant Professor at Tyumen State University’s Department of General and Social Psychology Olga Andreyeva pointed out.

According to her, another reason behind the low coronavirus awareness is the human defense mechanism of denial. It is partly child-like behavior based on the idea that if you don’t believe in the coronavirus it won’t affect you. And if you start thinking about the threat, you may get scared. It’s impossible to endure fear and anxiety for long, Andreyeva says.

Psychoanalyst Maxim Kozhemyakin, in turn, noted that "there are too many so-called experts and too much information." "Often times, unqualified people claim to be experts and people fall victim to the misconceptions that these incompetent specialists spread," he stressed.

On the other hand, this is how people show their fatalistic tendencies, believing that it’s all fate and they can’t control the situation, Kozhemyakin added.


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