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Press review: Saudi Arabia, Iran thaw relations and smartphone shortage looms in Russia

Top stories from the Russian press on Wednesday, October 13th

Kommersant: Non-Aligned Movement forum gives opportunity to air global grievances

Russia took part in the two-day forum dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Serbia, as an observer.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov read a statement sent by President Vladimir Putin, who assessed NAM as a "movement in demand" during a complicated time around the globe. Lavrov in turn spoke of the situation not only from the Russian point of view.: "Russia, like the members of the Non-Aligned Movement, considers attempts to replace the UN-centered architecture with non-inclusive concepts like the so-called rule-based order, which, in fact, are based on double standards and risk returning us to the era of neo-colonial bloc politics and dividing lines," he said.

According to the Balkan experts, Lavrov was Serbia’s personal guest, in order to secure the feeling that there is hope in regulating the current dispute, and that a platform for doing so is available.

Belgrade foreign policy expert Bosko Jaksic told the newspaper that a "red carpet was rolled out for Lavrov to take advantage of the failure of the recent EU-Balkan summit and send a signal to Belgrade: don't worry, there is an alternative." He added that this way Serbia will be brought closer to Moscow by two channels: support for Kosovo and Russian gas.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: My foe’s foe is my friend: Saudi Arabia and Iran reopen diplomatic missions and find common ground on Yemen

Iran and Saudi Arabia have made a breakthrough in bilateral relations with the countries agreeing to resume diplomatic missions, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

The two countries have also been able to find a compromise on Yemen and on an informational war against each other. Diplomatic missions in the respective countries are expected to reopen shortly.

It took five meetings — four in Baghdad and one on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. According to the newspaper, both countries were able to talk through their concerns, - Iran primarily troubled with international pressure, and Saudi Arabia with military threats near its borders from Yemen. The discourse in Yemen has been ongoing since 2014, with frequent clashes between government forces and Houthi rebels, who are considered to be the agents of Iranian interests.

At a recent press conference, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called Iran and Saudi Arabia "important regional players" that play a key role in security.

"The dialogue between Tehran and Riyadh is moving in the right direction. Iran believes that dialogue and openness will ensure the best future for the Middle East," the minister said.

The diplomatic agreements may puzzle US President Joe Biden since his administration continues to carry out sanctions against Iran.


Kommersant: Russian metallurgists income in danger as coal prices rise

The Russian metal industry will have to deal with the rise in coking coal prices by the end of 2021, as rolled steel prices decline.

Coal prices are increasing due to the increased demand from China, writes Kommersant, because the country is struggling to meet demand after the ban of Australian supplies. Analysts predict that Russian metallurgists' EBITDA margin could drop by as much as 30% by the end of the year.

This will cause problems for those companies that do not have their own coal. Evraz, HLMK, MMK and Mechel, Russia’s leading steel companies, could not be reached for comment by Kommersant reporters.

Coking coal prices on the Russian market are breaking records with prices exceeding 10,000 rubles per tonne and, judging by the demand in China, the prices won’t stop there.

On October 11, January coking coal futures reached $532.8 per tonne on the Dalian stock exchange. Chinese domestic consumers buy coal on the spot market at $510-520 per tonne.

Sergey Grishunin, managing director of the NRA rating service predicts that by the end of 2021 prices for rolled products will be going down, while coal may continue to rise


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia prepares for large-scale exercises near the border with Afghanistan with allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization

Russia has prepared for a series of large-scale exercises near the border with Afghanistan, which will take place on October 18-23, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

CSTO countries will showcase their readiness to defend the southern borders of the Commonwealth. China, Pakistan, Iran and India, representatives of the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) have been invited to take part.

The exercises will involve several thousand military personnel from CSTO countries (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan) and 500 pieces of equipment are planned to be used in Tajikistan.

Military expert, retired colonel Nikolai Shulgin told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that there is a "military danger from Afghanistan."

"The Chinese leaders outlined the path of economic cooperation with the Taliban. Maybe the time has come for Russia to reconsider its attitude to the current leadership of Afghanistan. I would like to hope that this will happen at the Moscow summit on October 20," Shulgin notes.


Vedomosti: Russia may be approaching smartphone shortage

Transportation logistics and a shortage of parts are to blame for the upcoming shortage of smartphones in Russia, writes Vedomosti on Wednesday.

Several companies have reported that their popular phone models are on back-order. Apple for example may be able to sell certain iPhone 11 models by the end of November, despite the fact that this isn’t the company’s latest model.

Samsung and Xiaomi are also reporting serious shortages, and a source in VimpleCom, one of Russia’s largest mobile phone operators, said it’s unclear when it will end.

The tendency is worldwide — the pandemic has hit the production of mobile phones and the energy crisis has affected how quickly the parts for them, and the phones themselves are shipped around the world.

Automakers have been experiencing the same problems since the beginning of 2021. In January, Ford had to freeze production due to a parts shortage and Volkswagen, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan have been reporting the same, the newspaper writes.

In October, no more than 25% of the market demand for smartphones will be delivered to Russia, while in September that amount was 50%, creating an obvious shortage in demand.

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