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Press review: Putin slams Kiev’s indigenous peoples law and Turkey seeks calm on S-400s

Top stories from the Russian press on Thursday, June 10th

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Turkey seeks to calm markets on S-400 deal

The Biden administration has achieved Turkey’s written assurance that it won’t activate Russia’s S-400 missile defense system. According to Turkey’s mass media, it was important for Washington to get Ankara’s pledge and submit it to Congress in case a discussion is held on the issue of cancelling the earlier imposed sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

Under the US plan, American experts will verify whether the S-400 system purchased by Ankara is in operation. It is expected that the issue on Russia’s missile defense system will be raised at US President Joe Biden’s talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan due on June 14 on the sidelines of NATO summit. Meanwhile, the Hurriyet newspaper writes that the concessions on the S-400 would mean losing sovereignty. The Biden administration is not demonstrating any desire to take steps on ending cooperation with the Kurdish armed groups in northern Syria and fugitive cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of organizing the failed 2016 coup. Turkey seeks to focus the agenda of talks between Biden and Erdogan only on those areas, where cooperation between the two NATO allies is still possible.

"Sanctions under CAATSA, imposed by President Trump against Turkey in December 2020 for Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 were envisaged by particular provisions of the 2021 defense budget, which Congress passed by a bipartisan majority without a veto right," Senior Director of the Turkish Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) Aykan Erdemir told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Under this legislation, Ankara’s written pledge not to activate the S-400 system won’t be enough for cancelling sanctions, he noted. "In line with the document, the US demands are far beyond what pro-government media in Turkey are allowed to report. It seems that at the moment Washington and Ankara have little room for any compromise". According to the analyst, the Turkish government expects that the news "on concluding a deal with the US will calm markets and mitigate the ongoing financial crisis in the country".


Media: Geneva summit’s agenda likely to change when presidents meet

A week before the Geneva summit between the Russian and US leaders, Moscow named some issues, which Russia plans to raise on June 16. Vladimir Putin expects Joe Biden’s response to earlier made proposals for the US: on imposing a moratorium on the deployment of land-based intermediate and shorter-range missiles to Europe and resuming cooperation in cyber space. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov named the key conditions for normalizing bilateral relations, but made it clear that Moscow is not expecting any breakthrough at the Geneva talks, Kommersant writes.

According to Lavrov, first, the US administration should assess Russia’s steps, interests and position as well as its red lines. Second, it should learn from the mistakes made over the past years. Third, it should refuse to hold dialogue solely from the position of claiming hegemony in global affairs. The normalization of Russian-US relations is possible only if the principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs are followed. Meanwhile, Lavrov said the presidents would not follow the agenda of talks agreed on in advance. "With the Americans we just named some issues, which both sides want to discuss, and we are doing so this time also," he stated.

Director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences Fedor Voytolovsky told Izvestia that the meeting between the Russian and US presidents won’t make any principal breakthrough but will set the tone for further contacts between Moscow and Washington. According to the expert, bilateral relations now are in such a deep crisis that any compromise is possible just on certain issues.

However, he noted that it will be easier for Biden to talk to Putin compared with his predecessor Donald Trump. "Biden finds himself in a more beneficial situation, he has discretion. He has always demonstrated a rather tough position on Russia. No one is accusing the Democratic Party that the Russians had meddled and backed them at the election. Another thing is that some right-wing groups and the Republicans have a rather tough position on arms control issues. If Biden agrees with us on something, some counteraction is expected in Congress. But Biden does not have this domestic political pressure. And this means that there is a large window of opportunities for a pragmatic and measured dialogue. However, one meeting won’t yield any fruit".


Izvestia: Putin lambasts Kiev’s law on indigenous peoples

Ukraine’s law on indigenous peoples runs counter to international humanitarian law, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Rossiya TV channel. According to him, dividing people into certain categories is reminiscent of the theories and practice of Nazi Germany. The president believes that this law will force local citizens of the neighboring state to move abroad or rewrite their nationality. Besides, Putin said Kiev was not willing to fulfill the Minsk peace deal and also commented on Kiev’s possible accession to NATO. He pointed out that the discussion on Ukraine joining NATO was not just idle talk, especially given that bringing the alliance’s military infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders would cut the time it takes missiles to reach Moscow.

Chairman of the Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots of the State Duma Leonid Kalashnikov told Izvestia that the law on indigenous peoples poses a threat to Russians in Ukraine. "All this should be seen as a political move. They need to draw the world community’s attention".

According to Director of the Institute for Peacekeeping Initiatives and Conflictology Denis Denisov, the hype over this Ukrainian law is excessive. He believes that this document is aimed at three peoples living in Crimea and is absurd in its sense. "The authors of the law just outlined their view on the term "indigenous peoples." The document neither has Russian nor Polish, Bulgarian, Hungarian and other Ukrainian peoples. Meanwhile, the law cannot be implemented since Kiev is not controlling Crimea," he told the newspaper.

The expert also noted that Ukraine has not received the NATO Membership Action Plan yet. Amid US statements on the need for dialogue with Russia on strategic stability, the issue on this action plan for Ukraine is insignificant. Moreover, Washington says that there won’t be such a plan. "France, Germany and others are against this. They are not ready to provide the membership action plan, they believe this is inadvisable".


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US, EU gearing up to coordinate anti-Russian steps

US President Joe Biden’s European tour and his June 16 talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin could change the West’s policy in the Russian direction. At the EU-US summit on June 15, a council is expected to be set up, which will be aimed at coordinating the two allies’ steps on Moscow. In the light of this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke about the difference between Russia and the West. According to him, the EU and the US want to promote their democratic agenda across the globe and ruin the international order created after World War II. On the contrary, Moscow does not have global ambitions.

Head of the Department for Social and Political Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Europe Vladimir Shveitser told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the plans on setting up this council are "a sharp turn from the line carried out by Donald Trump." "He [Trump] tried to isolate the US from European affairs as much as possible. Now Joe Biden is looking for allies, on the contrary. The US will have talks not only with Russia, but also with China. And there are issues, where it needs to search for a consensus with all concerned parties. And in this case, the EU states are such a concerned party," the expert said.

Biden and his administration have stated many times that they would factor in Europe when carrying out their foreign policy. The obvious crisis in the West’s relations with Russia is a sort of a litmus test to find out if the new US president’s words meet his actions. Now the Americans and EU representatives are acting in their unusual roles. Under the Trump administration, leading EU countries called for a milder Russia policy. Now on the contrary, the EU demands a harsher policy against Moscow. Over the past months, Brussels slapped anti-Russian sanctions and Washington introduced such steps only after the EU, the newspaper writes.


Vedomosti: Gazprom launches major helium production plant

The first line of the Amur Gas Processing Plant, which can produce 7 bln cu m natural gas per year, was launched on June 9. The enterprise is located in the Far East’s Amur Region. The construction kicked off in 2015 and after its commissioning by 2025, the plant will consist of six lines with a total capacity of 42 bln cu m. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the project’s price tag would exceed 1 trln rubles ($13.8 bln).

The plant is set to become the world’s second largest in terms of gas processing after US Prudhoe Bay Unit Central Gas Facility and the first in terms of producing helium (60 mln tonnes per year). According to Gazprom, helium from the Amur Gas Processing Plant will be exported. According to Putin, today Russia holds just 3% of the world’s helium market. After the construction is completed, Russia could climb to one of the leading positions among exporters. According to the Statista service, in 2020, the world’s leaders in helium production were the US (74 mln cu m), Qatar (45 mln cu m) and Algeria (14 mln cu m). Russia, with the production volume of 5 mln cu m, was in the fourth place.

The key advantage of the Amur Gas Processing Plant will be little logistic expenses due to its convenient location near major markets in Asia, namely China, Director of ACRA’s Corporate Ratings Group Vasily Tanurkov told Vedomosti. After the plant reaches its full capacity, Gazprom will occupy nearly a quarter of the global helium market, senior analyst at BCS Global Markets Ronald Smith said. Now there is the trend in the US of reducing helium production due exhaustion of helium resources.

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