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Press review: Russia, EU seek mutual okays on ‘vaccine passports’ and OPEC+ impacts ruble

Top stories from the Russian press on Friday, July 9th

Vedomosti: Russia, EU to begin negotiations on mutually recognizing vaccination certificates

The European Union (EU) is ready to discuss with Russia the mutual recognition of certificates that indicate that people have immunity to COVID-19, EU Ambassador to Russia Markus Ederer announced at a press conference. According to him, the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates in Russia and the EU would be "very useful" for both parties. According to experts interviewed by Izvestia, this mutual recognition of vaccines and certificates is very likely.

Ederer explained that electronic certificates are already in force in Europe, which allows EU citizens to move around the continent without hindrance.

He noted that the success of negotiations with Russia would make travel easier for its citizens and placed responsibility for the recognition of Russia’s Sputnik V jab on the European Medicines Agency. Assistant to the Minister of Health of Russia Alexey Kuznetsov said on the same day that the ministry had received the proposal and was ready to start dialogue.

The prospect of vaccines and certificates being mutually recognized is quite real, Head of the Department of Science and Innovation at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations Zaur Mamedyarov said. "It is beneficial for European corporations to drag on the [certification] process as long as possible until Sputnik is no longer needed," the expert explained. At the same time, recognizing vaccines on a parity basis, that is, letting European vaccines into the Russian market - may take place as early as September, when the majority of the Russian and European population will be immunized with their own drugs. The certification process will also have a very positive impact on the recognition of Sputnik V by the WHO, which is to be expected in the coming weeks. At the same time, countries with great political weight - for example, France, will in every possible way hinder certification, although they can only slow it down," the expert said.


Kommersant: Astana trio meet to discuss Syria

The participants of the recent Astana meeting on Syria in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan are returning home in hopes that they have succeeded in promoting a solution to three main problems. The first is the fate of cross-border humanitarian assistance in the war-torn Middle Eastern country. The second is the exchange and release of prisoners. And the third is continuing the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee. According to Kommersant, the vision of how these issues should be sorted out largely differed among the delegations, but it is important for these powers to continue the dialogue and maintain the format.

The two-day meeting on Syria ended on Thursday in Nur-Sultan with a statement from the guarantor states of the "Astana format": Russia, Iran, and Turkey. It spoke of the commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, the determination to continue the fight against terrorists, and confront separatist sentiments in the east of the country. Russia, Turkey, and Iran traditionally promised to assist the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, which encouraged Geir Pedersen, UN special envoy for Syria.

Since the previous Astana meeting held in February in Sochi, no progress has been made on the issue of a political settlement in Syria. According to Kommersant's sources familiar with the situation, the main problem lies in the position of Ahmad al-Kuzbari - Damascus is not inclined to be flexible.

However, the greatest disagreement right now is caused by the fate of the mechanism for delivering humanitarian aid to Syria. The UN Security Council resolution allowing humanitarian convoys to be sent to Idlib from Turkey through the Bab al-Hawa checkpoint expires on July 10. The West hopes to extend its operation for another year or to open new checkpoints. The official Syrian authorities would like to end the operation. Moscow leans towards the position of Damascus.


Kommersant: Russia fires football coach Cherchesov following Euro 2020 exit

Stanislav Cherchesov lost his post as head coach of the Russian national football team after the failure at the most recent European Championship. The Russian Football Union decided to terminate his contract and start searching for candidates for the vacant position. According to Kommersant, the new coach of the Russian team would not have time to study it closely, as the selection for the 2022 World Cup will resume in September. However, the national team might still have good chances to go to Qatar.

Cherchesov’s departure seems absolutely natural, the newspaper writes. He has headed the national team since 2016, and the peak of his fame came in the summer of 2018 when the Russian team was able to reach the quarterfinal at the World Cup held in Russia. But the performances that followed the breakthrough were in sharp contrast to it.

According to Kommersant, it is difficult to imagine even an approximate list of real contenders to fill the role of Cherchesov's successor. However, it is clear that whoever happens to be his replacement, will face a rather complex problem - the European Championship, which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic from last year, was squeezed into the next cycle, the preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

On September 1, the Russian national team will have to take on Croatia, in a match that could be a decisive one for qualifying for the World Cup. And the new mentor will not have any time to experiment and work closely with the team, Kommersant writes.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Moscow may aid Tajikistan in controlling border with Afghanistan

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) will consider Dushanbe's request for assistance in protecting the border in the event of an attack on Tajikistan from Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pledged. At the same time, experts told Nezavisimaya Gazeta, that neither Armenia nor Belarus, members of the CSTO, will go to fight on the Tajik border. Only Kazakhstan may ready to give Russia a hand.

Experts believe that Dushanbe de facto admitted that it cannot independently control its southern borders. However, they are in no hurry to invite Russian border guards, and this could be why Tajikistan turned to the CSTO, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

"It is hard to imagine that Armenia or Belarus would fight for Tajikistan. You need to understand that it is not the mythical CSTO that will save Tajikistan, but Russia as its leading member. Today is the moment of truth for the bloc - either the CSTO exists or not. Those who turn to Russia for help must fulfill full-scale allied obligations, including supporting Moscow in its sanctions war with the West, or joining anti-Ukrainian sanctions and so on," Director of the Agency for Ethno-National Strategies Alexander Kobrinsky told the newspaper.

Military expert Viktor Litovkin believes that the CSTO will respond to Tajikistan's appeal only if there is an attack on the border from the Afghan side, but money, technical means, and specialists would be needed. "The most important thing for Dushanbe is that the CSTO has already approved allocating funds to strengthen border protection. At the same time, the entire burden of protecting Tajikistan will fall on the shoulders of Russia. Perhaps only Kazakhstan will help," Litovkin said.


Izvestia: Stalled OPEC+ talks impact weakened ruble

The deadlock in the OPEC+ talks and high inflation in Russia have weakened the national currency, according to analysts polled by Izvestia. In the coming months, the exchange rate will be influenced by the policy of the Bank of Russia, which will help curb accelerating inflation, return real rates to the economy, and strengthen the Russian currency. By the beginning of fall, the ruble may be in the range of 71-75 per dollar, experts believe. At the same time, they did believe that the rhetoric of sanctions would likely exacerbate.

The experts interviewed by Izvestia agreed that the ruble’s depreciation was mainly the result of the impact of the situation on the raw materials market, the jump in inflation, as well as the rhetoric of the US Federal Reserve. "The drop in the ruble exchange rate was also caused by the weakening of emerging market currencies, and, in particular, the decline in futures on the S&P 500," said Vladimir Bragin, director of financial markets and macroeconomics analysis at Alfa Capital. The growing concern about the spread of the Delta strain of COVID-19 has also contributed to the weakening of the Russian currency.

In the coming months, the ruble will be supported by the Bank of Russia tightening monetary policy which would contribute to a slowdown in inflation nationwide, Finam analyst Anna Zaitseva told the newspaper. During the third quarter of 2021, the target range will be 71-75 rubles per dollar, and by the end of 2021, it will be 69-74 rubles per dollar, she said.

"The ruble looks like one of the best currencies among emerging markets in terms of macroeconomic risks and balance of payments," Bragin said, adding that under a favorable scenario, the rate against the dollar may drop to 73, and in an unfavorable scenario, it would test the 78 mark.

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