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Press review: Russia hosts talks with Taliban and NATO friction draws Moscow, Minsk closer

Top stories from the Russian press on Thursday, October 21st
3rd meeting of the Moscow Format on the Afghanistan peace settlemen Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS
3rd meeting of the Moscow Format on the Afghanistan peace settlemen
© Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia holds talks with Taliban

The Taliban (outlawed in Russia) delegation visit to Moscow turned out to be the movement’s first since the moment it seized power in Afghanistan. Despite being on Moscow's list of terrorist and extremist organizations, the group received a restrained approval of Russia’s diplomacy for "efforts to stabilize the military-political situation" in the country and "improving the activities of the state apparatus," according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The Russian Foreign Ministry even encouraged the international community to support Kabul by mobilizing resources.

The moment of international recognition of the group will come sooner or later, Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan and Director of the Foreign Ministry's Second Asia Department Zamir Kabulov believes. "But it will come … when it begins to fulfill most of the expectations of the international community, which concerns both human rights issues and inclusiveness (in the government)," the diplomat noted. However, the movement does not show much enthusiasm to immediately comply with the international requirements.

The change of power in Afghanistan sparked the activity of such terrorist groups like the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda (both banned in Russia), which stepped up their attacks in various parts of the country. This is a pivotal issue for Moscow as it strives to secure the borders of the post-Soviet states bordering Afghanistan, the newspaper writes.

Senior Researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Omar Nessar explained to Nezavisimaya Gazeta that each side tried to defend its interests at the meetings in Moscow. The Taliban are in tough isolation, and they use every opportunity to convey their point of view to outside players, the analyst explained. He added that against the backdrop of the failure of the US peace plan, the Moscow talks showed that Russian diplomatic initiatives are working quite well.


Kommersant: Russia steps up teamwork with Belarus amid troubles with NATO

NATO leadership responded to Russia’s latest steps of cutting ties with the alliance. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg blamed Moscow for the deplorable state of ties between the alliance and Moscow, adding that the bloc was ready for dialogue. Russia, in turn, accused NATO of exacerbating the military-political situation near the border of Russia and Belarus, Kommersant writes. The two countries announced their response to the alliance’s actions by unveiling a new military doctrine.

Moscow placed the blame for the crisis in relations on Brussels, arguing that they had anticipated, but did not see an equal dialogue from NATO. As for convening a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko explained, "Moscow does not see any sense in it, since the alliance is not ready to discuss the initiatives put forward by the Russian side to de-escalate and avoid dangerous military incidents".

On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that the border situation was deteriorating. According to his speech, "military threats, political, and economic pressure from Western countries" forced Russia and Belarus to take retaliatory measures, one of them being the new Military Doctrine of the Union State. It is planned for approval on November 4 at a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State.

In turn, NATO is also talking about constantly adapting to new conditions and increasing its readiness to counter threats from all fronts. In this regard, the alliance plans to approve the creation of the NATO Innovation Fund to the tune of $1 bln for advanced developments and research in areas such as artificial intelligence, big data, quantum technologies, biotechnology, hypersound, and space.


Izvestia: How Russia plans to support business amid new pandemic surge

Due to the pandemic, the period from October 30 to November 7 will be non-working days, President Vladimir Putin announced at a meeting with members of the Russian government. He also noted that if necessary, this measure can be extended or introduced as early as October 23 in certain regions. Experts told Izvestia that after November 7, the non-working days in all regions are very unlikely to be extended.

Even just over one week, the nation will suffer economic losses of around 60 bln rubles ($845.9 mln). According to First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov, the Russian economy will lose an average of 4 bln rubles ($56.4 mln) per day.

The authorities proposed two measures of support for business. First, a one-time payment in the amount of one minimum wage per employee to companies from the affected sectors, which will require about 27 bln rubles ($380.6 mln). Second, it was proposed to resume lending support to business, provided that the majority of the staff is retained.

These support measures will be sufficient if the period of non-working days is not extended, Director of the Institute of Economic Forecasting of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Shirov told the newspaper. Otherwise, assistance may have to be expanded.

The non-working days may have a much bigger effect amid difficulties with the high debt levels of the population and mortgage loans, this could trigger a new crisis, member of the General Council of Business Russia Alexey Kuchmin told Izvestia.


Kommersant: Samsung to supply equipment for Vostok Oil tankers

South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) shipyard inked a contract for equipment and components supplies for the construction of the first series of Arc7 ice-class shuttle tankers for the Vostok Oil project, Kommersant writes. The deal may total $1.7 bln. Analysts noted that more than 30 tankers would be required to transport 100 mln tonnes of Vostok Oil cargo via the Northern Sea Route by 2030.

Rosneft told Kommersant that "the construction of Arc7 ice-class shuttle tankers for oil transportation will be carried out at the Zvezda production site". The company noted that in addition to supplies of equipment and components for tankers, SHI would also "train Russian personnel at its shipyard and organize practical training on similar projects" through a joint venture.

Rosneft did not disclose the number of Arc7 tankers ordered in the first series. Earlier, Deputy General Director of the Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex Konstantin Globenko said that in October the shipyard expects to sign contracts for the construction of ten Arctic Arc7 shuttle tankers for the Vostok Oil project.

Director of the Gekon consulting company Mikhail Grigoryev noted that more than 30 tankers and six offshore transshipment complexes would be generally required to export products to Murmansk from Vostok Oil, the volume of which could reach 100 mln tonnes annually by 2030. If the company starts exporting to the east, the fleet will need to be expanded.


Izvestia: DDoS attacks against Russian companies expected to surge

Over the three quarters of this year, the number of DDoS attacks against Russian companies climbed 2.5-fold higher than last year. Moreover, along with the number of attacks, their average power has also grown, experts told Izvestia. Before the end of 2021, the number of DDoS attacks will continue to rise.

"2021 has become phenomenal both in terms of speeds and techniques for organizing DDoS attacks, and the technology will continue to develop since there are more than enough unresolved problems in the industry and unprotected companies," Alexander Lyamin, CEO and founder of Qrator Labs, told the newspaper.

Recently, such attacks are increasingly organized by businesses as a tool for taking on the competition, sources in the IT industry told Izvestia. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the cost of organizing DDoS attacks in 2021 has significantly decreased.

The number and strength of the attacks will undoubtedly continue to grow, and this will now be facilitated by 5G technology, which enables a high-speed connection of objects to the Internet of Things, but at the same time is still quite rare, CEO and co-founder of StormWall Ramil Khantimirov told Izvestia.

The surge in DDoS attacks is associated with active digitalization and lockdowns, the newspaper writes. According to recent statistics, the volume of the Russian online market by the end of 2021 may grow to 3.478 trillion rubles ($48.9 bln) from 3.221 trillion rubles ($45.4 bln) in 2020.

TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in these press reviews.