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Press review: Was Nuland’s Moscow tour productive and Hungary backs Poland in EU standoff

Top stories from the Russian press on Thursday, October 14th
US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland EPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU
US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland

Media: Nuland’s visit to Moscow less productive than expected

The much anticipated three-day visit of US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland has concluded and experts say it brought less solutions than expected and even showed that there is room for potential conflict escalation.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes that the visit is not marked by any important agreements on at least one of the sticking points in Russian-American relations.

Nuland met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, Aide to the President of the Russian Federation Yuri Ushakov, as well as with Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Dmitry Kozak. Not a single meeting was followed by a joint press conference, a sign the newspaper writes that there were no solid agreements reached.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that it would take time for relations to get back on track, and that its not possible to fix them right away.

Chief Researcher at the Institute of the US and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Vasiliev, told Nezavisimaya, that it is possible that Nuland came to Moscow with suggestions from the Biden Administration, on bilateral relations.

"Maybe it was about changing who has been blacklisted or about some sort of compromise on the work of the embassies. However, at the last moment, when it was already too late to cancel the visit, something happened," Vasilev said.

Kommersant spoke with Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics Dmitry Suslov who said that both countries were flexible in their approach, because of a common understanding that steps need to be taken to avoid any further escalation.

Director of the Carnegie Moscow Center Dmitry Trenin told Kommersant that "there is still a strong negative attitude towards Russia in the US Congress. It is believed that Russian diplomatic representatives are involved in espionage activities. " Both experts believe that a political decision by the heads of state is what will bring about a change in bilateral relations.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Polish-Hungarian standoff with EU to cause financial loss

Hungary has backed Poland in its conflict over independent decisions and finances. The EU is unhappy with Warsaw’s decision to back away from court system reforms and press freedoms. What’s at stake is nearly 57 bln euro from the recovery fund that the EU is willing to freeze until an understanding has been reached.

The recovery fund was created to help revive economies after the pandemic. At the very least, Poland was expecting to receive a first payment of 13% or 7.4 bln euro in the near future. But what also may have added fuel to the fire is the decision by the Polish Constitutional Court prioritizing its country’s laws over EU legislation.

Hungary also has not received any payments from the recovery fund, and all deadlines have passed. The issue at hand is the EU’s insistence on LGBT rights and what Hungary is calling "propaganda," which is why Budapest is expressing its support for Warsaw, the newspaper writes.

The two recalcitrant countries are unhappy with the EU pressure, however the odds that both will leave the EU are slim to none, says political analyst Andrei Suzdaltsev. "Brexit and the hypothetical Polexit differ in that the UK at the time of its exit largely retained the independence of its strong economy. Poland now says that it has a strong economy, and that the country can do without the EU, but that is not the case," Suzdaltsev told the newspaper. He explains that the Polish economy has flourished only due to generous EU investments into its economy. "Both the Polish and the Hungarian economies are completely tied to the economy of the European Union, and they cannot exist without it," he said.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Turkey seeks to purchase 40 American F-16 jets

Turkey wants to buy 40 F-16 fighters from the United States, in addition to upgrading about 80 of its existing aircraft with American help, which is an attempt to test their bilateral relations. Ankara is talking about this at an unofficial level, noting that the Biden administration has its last chance to demonstrate its commitment to maintaining allied ties. The expert community indicates that this is no more than a wish by the Turkish leadership to cover all the sanctions costs that it incurred in connection with the acquisition of Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems.

Turkish political analyst Kerim Has told the newspaper that after Ankara had acquired Russia’s S-400 systems, it was forced to leave the F-35 production program. As a result, the Turkish leadership was unable to acquire the newest F-35s ordered for a long time, and Turkey itself has lost colossal technical experience and the possibility of transferring technology, which would have been ensured by participation in the program. Separately, Has pointed to the financial losses incurred by Turkish companies that took part in the F-35 program and were supposed to participate in exports are about $10 billion.


Vedomosti: Belgrade ready to defend its own

At a meeting with Kosovo Serbs, Serbian President Aleksandr Vucic said that Belgrade is ready to defend its people if Pristina continues to shoot citizens, Vedomosti writes on Thursday.

The conflict took place in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica following a so-called "anti-smuggling" raid by the Kosovo police against shops in the enclave. Kosovar security forces demanded local businesses present customs documents for products, while the Kosovo Serbs are opposed to taking part in the country’s legal system. Several streets were barricaded sparking a conflict with the police, who fired at the protesters. Seven people were injured in the incident, causing Vucic to say that "Belgrade will stand with you. If violence breaks out, you will protect your people and we will be with you."

The incident plays into the long-standing conflict on the border.

The founder of the Balkanist project, political scientist Oleg Bondarenko told Vedomosti that he believes that Belgrade is about to be pulled into in another power struggle, which Vucic and Serbia as a whole do not need. The question for Belgrade is how to get out of the situation provoked by Pristina and not start a new war, he noted. And this, in turn, would be a pretext for external forces to get involved in the situation. Serbia could use limited military force as a last resort.


Kommersant: Moscow, Brussels at odds on solutions to gas crisis

Russia and the EU have yet to find a common solution to the energy crisis. The European Commission suggests joint purchases by the EU countries as a priority measure, to make sure everyone stays warm in the winter, but the source of this gas remains unclear.

Russian President Vladimir Putin previously proposed a careful increase in supplies to Europe, but now emphasizes that Gazprom does not want to supply more gas through Ukraine. With that in mind, Moscow still does not have permission to supply fuel through Nord Stream 2.

By November 1, Gazprom has to complete filling Russian UGS facilities. The fact that the company went back to daily gas trading on SPIMEX on October 13, indicated that it has free volumes of gas to spare. Dmitry Marinchenko from Fitch told Kommersant that in November, Russia will have the technical ability to boost supplies to Europe before the winter cold sets in and that it will be more difficult to do that in December. Marinchenko says that the issue of increasing gas supplies to Europe from Russia is politicized, but Europe has few alternatives, since it has to compete fiercely with Asia for LNG. At the same time, Ivan Timonin from Vygon Consulting told the newspaper that now the quotations of natural gas on European and Asian markets have actually become equal, therefore, in the near future, a number of LNG consignments can be expected to be redirected to Europe. Thus, TTF gas is traded at $1,051 per 1,000 cubic meters, in Asia at $1,043 per 1,000 cubic meters. "Given the difference in transportation costs, LNG supplies to Europe have become more profitable for most of the largest producers," Timonin said, including for LNG from the United States.

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