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Press review: Germany seeks permanent seat on UNSC and JCPOA’s revival to benefit Russia

Top stories from the Russian press on Monday, July 12th

Izvestia: Germany sets sights on becoming permanent member of the UN Security Council

Germany firmly intends to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, high-ranking sources in Berlin’s diplomatic circles told Izvestia. This gives Berlin the opportunity to contribute to the work of the organization, including on the financial track. Germany's aspirations were officially supported by one of the permanent members of the Security Council - the United Kingdom. However, this is not enough. Reform requires consensus, and not everyone agrees with Germany’s candidacy. Another permanent member of the Security Council, Russia, opposes the expansion of the council in favor of Western countries.

Germany believes that the UN Security Council is not representative of the current state of international relations, and supports expanding the number of its permanent members. "The Council does not reflect the current world order. Since its creation, 142 new countries have joined the UN," a high-ranking source in the German Foreign Ministry told Izvestia. "In particular, it does not give a permanent voice to the countries of the ‘Global South’ and does not take into account such continents as Africa," the source added.

Another source in German diplomatic circles told the newspaper that changes in the Security Council are a key part of a comprehensive reform of the UN, and Berlin considers it paramount to reform this very body with Germany.

"We not only strongly support joint multilateral work, but also make a fundamental contribution to the work of the UN, both in decision-making and financially," the source said, adding "If we combine voluntary and regular contributions, then according to this indicator, Germany is the second country in the UN".

All members of the United Nations seem to agree that the Security Council should be reformed. There is also a consensus that membership there should be expanded to include developing countries from the "Global South" and Africa. However, this is where the common denominators end.

Russia advocates that Brazil and India, but not the entire G4, should enter the Security Council on a permanent basis. Russia’s First Deputy Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy explained to Izvestia earlier, "If you look at the Security Council, there are six countries from the ‘collective West’. The share of Western states in global politics, and the world's population is disproportionate to this number".


Kommersant: Russia hopes for restoration of JCPOA, says envoy

July 14 will mark six years since the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna. The deal lasted three years, because in May 2018, US President Donald Trump pulled America out of the pact. Now, the Biden administration intends to return to the JCPOA, for which the US, Iran, and intermediary countries (including Russia) have already held six rounds of negotiations since April. Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov told Kommersant what the restoration of the deal would offer Moscow.

According to Ulyanov, "No one, including the Iranian side, knows" when the negotiation process can resume. "We believe that the sooner negotiations are resumed, the better. I think this will happen at least in ten days, maybe later," he said.

Regarding Russia’s foreign policy, the problem of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction occupies a very prominent place, he added. "The restoration of the JCPOA will provide confidence in the exclusively peaceful direction of the Iranian nuclear program, which Iran is undoubtedly entitled to," Ulyanov said.

"In addition, there is hope that if we clear the rubble in this area, a path will open for regional dialogue on security issues, in which all the Gulf countries would participate. At present, the situation there is tense," the diplomat believes.

"As for bilateral relations, the restoration of the JCPOA will mean the abolition of the bulk of American trade and economic sanctions against Iran, which means that the work of Russian business, both state and private, should become more comfortable. This is also an essential point," he added.

At the same time, Ulyanov noted, "My colleagues and I enjoy working with the new American negotiators". "It seems to me that the Americans have taken a fairly pragmatic and generally balanced position," he noted.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: G20 finds consensus on global tax plan

G20 finance ministers and central bankers have reached consensus on international tax reform. Following a meeting in Venice, they envision introducing a minimum tax on profits of large corporations at a level of at least 15% worldwide. The solution is aimed primarily at global IT giants such as Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon. Experts told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that so far it is only about how to make large global corporations leave part of the money where they create value. Nevertheless, this decision might even affect the Russian budget.

International efforts to equalize taxes began after the 2008-2009 global financial meltdown, Director of the Institute for Enterprise and Market Studies at the Higher School of Economics Andrei Yakovlev told the newspaper. "It was then that the governments of the leading countries became aware of the problems and risks that offshore companies pose," he noted.

It is important that this decision was supported by China and India, since together with the United States and the European Union they can influence the actions of their trading partners around the world, Yakovlev added. "Russia does not publicly voice its attitude to this decision at a high level, perhaps because this decision may impact domestic business. But in the long term, it can benefit our economy," the economist suggested.

According to the expert, the share of offshore companies in the ownership and management of the largest Russian enterprises is very high. "The introduction of minimum tax rates around the world means that Russian business owners will have less incentive to move funds abroad. That is, the Russian budget will win out in the future," the commentator believes.

"Real changes will not come soon, because countries must adopt appropriate laws for the system to start operating," Univer Capital’s Andrey Vernikov told the newspaper, adding "We'll have to make adjustments to the Russian tax system. But this reform is beneficial for Russia and other large countries."


Vedomosti: Russia focuses on decarbonization in its energy efficiency strategy

The Russian Ministry of Economic Development has significantly revised the comprehensive draft plan for boosting the Russian economy’s energy efficiency, originally presented last summer, Vedomosti writes. Now, the main focus is on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, that is, reducing the energy and carbon intensity of the economy.

The roadmap’s new version lacks a number of key indicators from the previous one. The Ministry of Economic Development explained that these figures will appear only after the low-carbon development strategy till 2050 is approved, its draft is now being discussed in the government.

So far, the only figure in the document is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions up to 150 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually, which the authors seem to consider as key. Russia is now reducing CO2 emissions at a much slower rate. In 2019, it was able to reduce it by only 21.5 mln tonnes compared to the previous year.

Director of the Group for Operational Risks and Sustainable Development of KPMG in Russia and the CIS Vladimir Lukin believes that the reduction of greenhouse emissions by 150 mln tonnes annually generally corresponds to the potential for decarbonization in Russia. The task is ambitious but achievable, Deputy Director of the Sustainable Development Risk Assessment Group at ACRA Vladimir Gorchakov added. However, according to experts, it can be realized only under the condition of the most favorable state regulation. "Companies need to develop a clear set of penalties for failing to achieve KPIs to reduce emissions and tax incentives for the purchase of more energy efficient equipment," Gorchakov said.


Izvestia: Russia’s sees massive surge in cyber attacks on its critical infrastructure

The number of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure in Russia in the first half of 2021 rocketed almost 2.5-fold year-on-year, according to a study conducted by specialists from the General Radio Frequency Centre under Russia’s media watchdog. It includes attacks on industrial facilities, government agencies, and research companies. Experts told Izvestia, the number of incidents is likely to continue to increase in the future, including due to remote work.

"The share of critical infrastructure objects under attack remains extremely high, while the number of attacks and the amount of the requested ransom continue to mount," Head of the Scientific Center Alexander Fedotov told Izvestia.

According to a report by Group-IB, this year, 40% of attacks on Russian critical infrastructure were carried out by "conventional" cybercriminals, and 60% were pro-state actors. They are also often referred to as APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats).

There are now over 70 large APT groups operating in the world, Izvestia writes. According to experts, every year four or five new ones pop up. China, North Korea, and Iran have the largest number of APT organizations, Group-IB said.

"In the first five months of 2021, ransomware attacks against industrial companies already accounted for 69% of the total for all of 2020. And so far, we do not see a downward trend," Head of information security analytics group at Positive Technologies Ekaterina Kilyusheva told Izvestia.

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