Kommersant: China’s growing nuclear capacity to affect Russia
Beijing seeks to ramp up its nuclear capacity, say researchers from the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists (FAS) who discovered China’s second field of silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles by studying satellite images. According to experts, by entering the nuclear arms race, Beijing is, first and foremost, responding to its rising standoff with the United States. However, China’s growing nuclear capacity will also affect Russia as it may lose its status of the world’s only power capable of equally competing with the US in the nuclear field, Kommersant writes.
Russian experts believe that some of the new silos are being built in China for purposes of disguise. "The Chinese have repeatedly used this method to protect their strategic forces. About half of their missile troops are units involved in engineering works on positions and efforts to establish dummy sites," Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics Vasily Kashin explained. He believes that China "is all set to adopt the concept of a retaliatory counter-strike similar to the Russian one." According to the expert, it is an important factor that will impact global security. "For generations, the Americans and us used to live under each other’s gun, in constant fear that something will go wrong. "A third player will soon join us that has much less experience living under such conditions," Kashin noted. According to his estimates, the process will take about ten years. "It will have tangible geopolitical consequences for Russia. Today, it is the only power capable of talking with the US as equals. However, soon it will lose this exclusive position," the expert emphasized.
Dmitry Stefanovich, a researcher at the International Security Center with the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations, pointed out that where the American military has clear goals, Russia will have to deal with a dilemma. "Formally, there is no mutual nuclear deterrence between Russia and China but our medium and long-term military plans should include the most negative scenarios," the expert stressed.
Media: US plan to end combat mission in Iraq may turn out to be a ruse
The Biden administration has announced plans to end the US combat mission in Iraq by December 31. However, Washington intends to continue providing support to Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish militia. Experts believe that the Americans merely plan to divert attention from their missions, Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes.
"The Americans are unwilling to leave Iraq," said Russian International Affairs Council expert Kirill Semenov. "They will maintain a presence there, only the mission’s format will change," he noted. "Initially, it was about the Americans leaving the country at some point, but now we see that they are staying, only in a different way," the expert pointed out, adding that the US would retain the opportunity to conduct operations. Semenov does not expect that the US move will lead to a rise in Iran’s influence in Iraq. "On the contrary, the Americans decided not to leave in order to combat Iran’s increasing influence," the expert explained.
e situation developed in Afghanistan, the Americans had to face increasing pressure in Iraq. I think that the Iraqi Shias are determined to follow in the Taliban’s footsteps and drive the Americans out of Iraq," Head of the Research and Analytical Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute for Oriental Studies Nikolai Plotnikov told Izvestia. "It’s perfectly clear to Joe Biden that the US is facing numerous domestic issues and doesn’t have enough resources to restore order in the country," he added.
According to Senior Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies Boris Dolgov, Washington’s desire to reduce its actual presence in the world’s hotspots and still maintain influence there is the reason for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if troops pull out, they are most likely to be redeployed to neighboring countries - Jordan, for instance - where the US is also present. That said, Washington will remain involved in regional affairs, the expert emphasized.
Vedomosti: IMF improves Russia’s GDP growth outlook for 2021
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has maintained its estimates for global economic growth at the level predicted in April. The financial institution expects global GDP to rise by six percent, according to an IMF report. However, as far as certain groups of countries go, the IMF has significantly revised its estimates compared to the April figures, Vedomosti writes.
In particular, the IMF has dramatically improved its outlook on Russia’s GDP growth. In April, the global institution anticipated that it would increase by 3.8% and now, the expected rate is 4.4%. The IMF did not explain the revision of its outlook on certain countries, but the overall reasons may include the coronavirus pandemic’s pace and expectations of financial support from governments. In addition, the IMF views vaccination rates as crucial for preserving positive trends.
Earlier, the Russian Ministry of Economic Development also improved its economic growth projection for 2021. In April, the ministry anticipated that real GDP would grow by 2.9% on a year-to-year basis, but in July, expectations rose to 3.8%.
The common issue for developed and developing countries is finding a balance between cutting the budget and monetary stimulus programs, reviving business activities and keeping inflation under control, VTB Capital’s Chief Economist for Russia and the CIS Alexander Isakov pointed out.
The GDP rise that we can see at the moment has largely to do with the economic recovery, Co-Chairman of Delovaya Rossiya Anton Danilov-Danilyan said. The coronavirus situation creates the highest risks of an economic slowdown because a new virus strain may lead to another wave of lockdowns and reduced working hours, he added. Price growth related to global shortages, including food shortages, isn’t going to slow GDP growth. Besides, Russian companies have vast experience working in an inflationary environment.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Sanctions fail? Belarusian economy still roaring ahead despite West’s restrictions
Almost all indicators prove that the Belarusian economy is still continuing to grow despite the ongoing sanctions. According to experts, one of the reasons why is the delayed effect of the restrictions. That said, the government’s opponents are unlikely to see the regime collapse under the strain of economic problems anytime soon, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
According to the Belstat agency, the country’s GDP expanded by 3.3% in the first six months of the year compared to the same period last year. In addition, industrial production climbed 10.4%. Despite Brussels’ sanctions, Belarusian exports to EU countries doubled to $3.7 bln. Although data on the sanctioned strategic industries has been removed from these statistics, "it has no direct impact on the statistical indicators that remain available," Alpari Eurasia Senior Analyst Vadim Iosub pointed out. "As for sectoral sanctions, which can potentially affect the economy, no one knows when they will come into force because there is a disclaimer that they don’t apply to the existing contracts," the expert explained.
Besides, last year’s low levels still have their effect. "There were no Russian oil supplies in the first two months of last year, and oil production and the transportation of crude and refined products dropped. There also were no contracts for the delivery of potassium fertilizers to India and China in the first six months of last year, and the economy plummeted in March and April due to the coronavirus pandemic," Iosub noted. Now, the situation is completely different in terms of oil supplies and potassium exports, and the economic recovery has boosted global commodity prices.
There is also the Russia factor that should not be forgotten as Russia provides a safe margin for the Belarusian economy. "First, Russia is the most important market for many goods. Second, it is still the country’s main creditor. Russia’s support is what keeps the Belarusian economy from collapsing," Iosub concluded.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Smartphone payments more than double in Russia during pandemic
Russia’s major banks saw payments made through smartphones during the coronavirus pandemic more than double, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes, citing credit institutions.
Millions of Russians have already immersed themselves in the habit of using their smartphones as a tool for conducting financial transactions, which includes paying for goods and services.
The Central Bank also pointed to a rise in contactless payment in its June research note, saying that the share of Russians using this kind of payment had jumped from 25% to 70% over the past seven years.
"Contactless payment turnover started to grow at an incredible pace after the pandemic had passed its peak," a spokesperson for the Moscow Credit Bank noted. According to Otkrytie FC Bank’s spokespersons, it is much easier and faster to pay with a smart device than with a credit card, and it is also safer because there is no risk of losing the card or compromising it.
The upward trend for financial transactions conducted through smartphones will persist in the coming years, experts forecasted.
Russia is one of the global leaders for contactless payment, Research Chief at the Center for Research in Financial Technologies and Digital Economy SKOLKOVO-NES Yegor Krivosheya emphasized. "Russia’s development experience of mobile wallets was even called the ‘Russian’ miracle. According to various sources, Russia is the world’s leader for mobile payments or is at the same level as China," he specified.
"The trend is most likely to remain, particularly given the diversity of payment tools ranging from credit cards to P2P transactions to digital currencies," the expert noted.
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