Vedomosti: Armed conflict between Israel and Palestine may end soon
US President Joe Biden called on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to cease attacks on Israel. At the same time, the White House press service reported Biden's conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the US President condemning the missile attacks against Israel by the Hamas movement from the Gaza Strip. A diplomatic source told Vedomosti that such a double-pronged approach shows that the United States is looking for a way to end the military confrontation as quickly as possible.
The armed conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip has not subsided since it began on May 10. As of May 16, according to the press service of the Israel Defense Forces, 2,900 rockets have been fired into Israel during the six days of the conflict. Of the rockets fired from Gaza, 1,150 of them were intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system while 450 fell on the territory of the Palestinian enclave itself. The Gaza Ministry of Health reported on May 16 that 174 Palestinians have been killed and 1,200 injured during the conflict.
Political analyst Alexander Malashenko told the newspaper, it is still too early to talk about a "full-on war" between Israel and the Palestinians. "This is a very grave and bloody accident, neither Israel nor Hamas planned it in advance," explained Malashenko. According to him, both sides are interested in putting an early end to the conflict. While one side, Malashenko noted, must be the first to suspend hostilities, such a step will be perceived as a sign of weakness. For the US leadership, clashes between Israel and Hamas are also undesirable, since Washington, despite the unequivocal support of Israel, does not want war and the Biden administration is interested in normal relations with Arab countries. The conflict will be resolved in the near future, the expert believes.
According to Israeli political scientist Benny Briskin, a ground operation in the Gaza Strip is unlikely. Israel does not intend to fight in one of the most densely populated areas of the planet and to lose soldiers there without any political gains. The expert told Vedomosti that the international situation around the conflict has remained virtually unchanged since 2014. The role of the international community in resolving it is modest and is generally viewed negatively in Israel. Briskin believes Egypt has the best chance of helping, by serving as a mediator between Israel and Hamas.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia may expand list of ‘unfriendly’ countries
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell called the inclusion of the Czech Republic and the United States in the list of countries unfriendly to Russia unreasonable and urged Moscow to reverse its decision. At the same time, the list does not include Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Estonia, which openly and regularly voice anti-Russian sentiments. While the list may be expanded in the future, the question is whether the countries included in it will genuinely suffer any real damage, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
According to the newspaper, the Kremlin's move seems impulsive given that the Czech Republic was included in the list, having been considered a rather friendly country to Russia before the Vrbetice explosion scandal. After all, there are countries that have been holding clear anti-Russian positions for a long time.
The Russian Foreign Ministry told the newspaper that Russia's actions are in response to the anti-Russian policy of foreign states, which includes the expulsion of diplomats. The ministry considers including any country on the list a natural consequence, an adequate response to the actions of Russian partners.
"The list, as a measure, is late. I believe that Russia should have responded more harshly," Dean of the Faculty of World Politics at the Moscow State University Andrey Sidorov told the newspaper. The expert believes that other countries may soon be added to the list.
President of the European Council Charles Michel noted that Moscow's actions deal a blow to diplomatic relations. However, what specific blow will be inflicted on them is still unclear. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, ambassadors of the largest EU countries still do not understand what specific actions Moscow would be ready to use. Associate professor at the MGIMO Department of Integration Processes Alexander Tevdoi-Burmuli believes that the Kremlin’s step is rather symbolic since Moscow still has no real mechanisms for introducing effective sanctions.
Kommersant: UK warship sails to Black Sea amid Russia’s exercises
UK Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Trent has entered the Black Sea. The decision to transfer it there was made at the end of April when Donbass was preparing for another exacerbation of the situation. Over the past month, talks of a new war in Ukraine have subsided, but the UK command did not change its plans. According to Kommersant, the arrival of another NATO warship in the Black Sea is a challenge to Moscow, which for six months has blocked some parts of the sea to foreign ships.
According to Alexander Gushchin, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council, "British influence on Ukraine in the military sphere is very significant, and the visit of the ship does not have to be associated with a specific aggravation in Donbass - this process is more global," he told Kommersant. "Meanwhile, when the United States is preparing for a meeting between Putin and Biden, and therefore cannot directly put pressure on Moscow without regard to the consequences, a more active power role can be assigned to the United Kingdom, which is already strengthening its influence in the Baltic-Black Sea region," he added.
NATO countries may want to demonstrate the flags of their navies in the Black Sea for one more reason. From April 24 to December 31, Russia closed several sections of the Black Sea to "foreign warships and other state vessels", due to the exercises being conducted there. These sites are located off the coast of Crimea, including right at the entrance to the Kerch Strait.
An expert on the Black Sea, editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian edition of BlackSeaNews, Andrey Klimenko, in an interview with Kommersant, called such a measure unique. "For the first time in history, during the period of the UNCLOS convention on the law of the sea, the approaches to the Kerch Strait for state ships and ships of other countries have been blocked for navigation," he said, adding "Commercial vessels are still passing, but a precedent has been set."
Izvestia: Russia might face third COVID-19 wave due to slow vaccination uptake
Russia could see a third wave of COVID-19, according to virologists. Experts from the coronavirus operational headquarters and Russia’s Consumer Rights watchdog confirmed that there is a slight increase in the number of new cases of COVID-19 that may be associated with Russians returning from vacations and insufficient compliance with preventive measures. It is especially important to build herd immunity as quickly as possible with the help of the vaccination program, experts told Izvestia.
The operational headquarters told Izvestia that the third wave of COVID-19 in Russia has not yet started. "The increase in the number of detected COVID-19 cases is associated with people returning from vacations," the service said.
Meanwhile, in March and February, coronavirus departments of hospitals were half-empty and had a light regime, but now they are again full. Virologist Evgeny Timakov told Izvestia, citing data from doctors from the "red zones". In Europe, the third wave began a few months ago, and it could happen in Russia if people do not take up the vaccinate, he said.
The future trajectory of the situation depends largely on adherence to epidemiological rules, Deputy Director for Clinical and Analytical Work at the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology Natalya Pshenichnaya told the newspaper. "If we take a responsible approach to the implementation of anti-pandemic recommendations, then very soon the incidence rate will begin to decline again. The vaccination campaign that is gaining momentum, as well as the coming summer with an abundance of bright sunlight, will help us with that," she said.
Virologist Sergey Netesov believes it is time for Russia to introduce compulsory vaccination before flying abroad. It would be necessary to quickly agree on the recognition of the Sputnik V vaccination certificate abroad. To stop the pandemic, at least 70% of the population in Russia must be vaccinated, he added.
Vedomosti: Russia plans to develop single standard for artificial intelligence
The Higher School of Economics (HSE) has won the competition for the development of Russian standards for artificial intelligence, the project has a budget of just over 100 mln rubles ($1.35 mln), according to documentation published on the public procurement website. The final versions of more than 70 standards covering various areas of AI application are due by the end of October 2022, but the first editions of some regulations should be submitted this fall, Vedomosti writes.
"The lack of AI standards precludes the use these technologies in many important applied areas, including, for example, education," Chief expert at the HSE Directorate for Research Projects Tatyana Usmanova said.
IDC estimates the Russian AI market in 2020 at $291 mln, which is 22.4% higher than in 2019. At the same time, the roadmap for the development of neural networks and AI, developed in 2019 in Russia, assumes that in 2021 the market size will reach approximately 48 bln rubles ($649 mln) and by 2024 it should increase to 160 bln rubles ($2.16 bln).
Market participants at the moment do not have a common understanding of what constitutes a ready-made solution based on AI, Mail.ru Group told Vedomosti. "Developers often mean completely different things, using the same terms," the company representative said. "Standardization will make the use of AI more efficient and safer, and will generally benefit market development," Director of the Internet Research Institute Karen Ghazaryan said.
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