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Press review: Russia to send aid to Afghanistan and Turkish-made drones strike Donbass

Top stories from the Russian press on Thursday, October 28th
Bayraktar TB2 drone DHA via AP
Bayraktar TB2 drone
© DHA via AP

Kommersant: Gazprom to fill its gas storage facilities in Europe

With winter coming and Europe’s energy crisis raging, Russia has decided to play up its status as a reliable gas supplier. Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed Gazprom to begin filling its almost empty underground storage facilities in the EU. According to experts, before winter, the company will be able to pump there no more than 5 bln cubic meters provided that the transit increases not only via Belarus but also through Ukraine, something Gazprom has been avoiding for a while. However, even this promise to fill the underground facilities was enough for the gas price in Europe to begin to decrease.

According to Putin, filling the EU storage facilities will enable Gazprom to fulfill its contractual obligations and provide gas to European partners during the autumn-winter period while creating a more favorable situation on Europe’s energy market in general. He emphasized once again that the energy crisis that a number of European officials had already blamed Gazprom for, is related to a decrease in Europe’s own gas production and in deliveries of liquefied natural gas, chiefly, from the US.

At the same time, Gazprom was strictly observing the contractual volume refusing to increase supplies via Ukraine above the contractual figures. Its low supplies in Europe served as one of the company’s arguments in favor of launching its new Nord Stream 2 pipeline which hasn’t yet been approved by the German regulator. Both the Kremlin and Gazprom noted that they viewed the new gas pipeline as the only way to increase deliveries to Europe.

According to Sergey Kapitonov, gas industry analyst at the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO Energy Center, with over a month left before winter sets in, Gazprom, at the maximum level of deliveries, will be able to pump about 5 bln cubic meters of gas with Europe’s storage capacities of 8.7 bln. "Another issue is for this increase in supplies, the company will have to step up pumping through the Yamal-Europe pipeline and via Ukrainian corridor," he noted. The expert thinks that this will lower the pressure on gas prices in Europe.

However, one cannot expect that the prices will drop significantly. Raiffeisenbank’s Andrey Polishchuk concurs that the filling of European underground storage facilities will temporarily impact the prices which currently react to any statements. However, this does not mean additional sales volumes and a lot will depend on the weather during the winter period. The expert noted that Asia will continue to be the main driver of gas prices. "If there are high prices, suppliers will again direct the main volumes of LNG there which, obviously, will lead to a new price surge of fuel in Europe," he said. The expert noted that the launch of Nord Stream 2 may partially resolve the problem by making it possible to deliver additional volumes this year.


Izvestia: Russia tops index of climate disparity

Russia emits significantly less greenhouse gases than other large economies worldwide, yet it will feel the impact of global warming more than others. A group of American scientists calculated a global geographical index of climate inequality. As stated in an article in Science Advances magazine, it reflects the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions of the national economy to the warming of the country’s climate expected in the 21st century. Russia ranked first among the 192 United Nations members.

This does not mean that Russia produces the least amount of emissions, but that the damage to nature because of global warming will be disproportionately large in relation to emissions produced by Russia. The main producers of greenhouse emissions from Europe, Asia and North America are at the bottom of the list since due to their geographical location they will suffer from global warming to a much lesser degree.

"The highest amount of greenhouse emissions is produced by the coastal areas of Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, as well as by Europe, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, and the Atlantic Coast of the US. While it is the Arctic that suffers the most with more than half of it belonging to Russia. So, it turns out that our country loses the most from climate change," said Igor Shkradiuk, an expert with the public council at Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The scientists stressed that 90% of all harmful emissions are produced only on 8% of land. At the same time, the most significant increase in temperature, up to 8 degrees Centigrade before the end of this century, is expected beyond the Polar Circle where there are no greenhouse emissions at all.

For Russia, the issue of climate disparity is particularly pressing since the larger part of the country is located in the taiga zone and the boreal forest zone, according to MGIMO’s Andrei Avramenko. "The scientific community has recognized the significant role of Russian forests in absorbing the transborder greenhouse emissions. However, being an exporter of carbon-intensive products, starting in 2026 the absorbing country will have to pay the European carbon tax. Given that global warming is catastrophic in the Russian tundra and the Arctic, the price that Russia will pay for global climate change is too high, not to mention climate justice," the expert explained.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Kiev strikes Donbass with Turkish drone

Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny has officially confirmed the use of a Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone against the positions of the people’s militia in Donbass. It is unclear whether the decision was his own or coordinated with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. Ukrainian media outlets stress that the "device eliminated a piece of artillery with a guided bomb at the line of engagement."

Speaking to the newspaper, military expert Vladimir Karnozov noted that the use of the Bayraktar TB2 in a political situation in Ukraine was just a question of time. Moscow raised alarm bells over the purchase of this military equipment. Russian President Vladimir Putin in a conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi on September 29 warned that the conflict in eastern Ukraine may escalate following Kiev’s acquisition of the new weapons. The expert added that this drone is a modern and effective tool in mid-intensity military conflicts for countries lacking an air force. He noted that Ankara had not only sold the drone to Kiev but also trained the Ukrainian military how to use it.

Kiev received the first batch of six drones and three control stations in 2019. In September 2021, Ukraine and Turkey inked a deal for another 48 drones. Professor of the Academy of Military Sciences Vadim Kozyulin is confident, however, that the Zelensky administration’s actions won’t impact Russian-Turkish relations. The problem is in the general change of the political understanding of the global situation. "The circulation of arms in the zones of possible military conflicts is not regulated by anybody anymore," the expert noted.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia to assist Taliban with advice and food

Moscow will soon send a shipment of food and medicine to Afghanistan, with the expectation that the US, the EU and NATO will bear the brunt of restoring this country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a video address to a meeting of foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbor countries in Tehran. Participants concluded that it is necessary to establish relations one way or another with the Taliban (outlawed in Russia).

The Russian top diplomat said that nowadays it is vitally important to create normal living conditions in Afghanistan because only this can remove the key threats emanating from this country, that is, terrorism, the flow of illegal migrants and drugs. The participants indicated that they expect large-scale efforts from the global community on comprehensive aid to Afghanistan. With that in mind, the Russian foreign minister noted that Moscow is ready to support Afghanistan independently and immediately. While demanding that the West help Afghanistan, Lavrov, like other participants, did not impose any demands on the Taliban. Afghanistan’s neighbors are still maintaining their expectations from the movement, that an inclusive government be formed, representing at least all of the country’s ethnic groups.

Senior Research Fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies Vladimir Sotnikov in a commentary to the newspaper was sure that if the Taliban opted for creating an inclusive government, that this wouldn’t happen soon. "Of course, this is not the issue of the near future. Now the Taliban needs to control the country in full, this is the most important thing it faces. There is a resistance that the Taliban can neither eliminate, nor reach an agreement with," the expert noted.


Kommersant: Russia to relaunch campaign on vaccination propaganda

According to Kommersant’s sources, the internal policy department of the presidential administration began to organize a new information campaign on vaccination against coronavirus. The previous drive has been recognized as ineffective due to insufficient attention given to the regions and overly aggressive propaganda. On October 16, Deputy Speaker of the Russian State Duma Pyotr Tolstoy even said that the state lost the information campaign against coronavirus. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov also admitted that the government has not done everything possible in terms of raising awareness on the lack of alternatives and the importance of vaccination. According to the national anti-coronavirus portal, as of October 22, 49.1 mln Russians had fully completed inoculation, while 53.5 mln received their first shot.

According to Kommersant’s source, the vaccination propaganda was recognized as too aggressive and negative - too much emphasis was made on a possible fatal outcome while now the stress will be made on the fact only by getting a jab will it be possible to lead a normal life, go to the movies and restaurants, and attend classes. Awareness will also be raised in the regions with the help of volunteers and experts, while the ideological fight with anti-vaxxers will intensify.

On October 27, the Social Research Expert Institute (EISI) held a roundtable where the experts recommended that the authorities make a clear logical connection between the lifting of epidemiological restrictions and inoculation, and advised to form a separate institute in charge of the vaccination campaign. EISI’s chief expert on the pandemic Gleb Kuznetsov thinks that the struggle with anti-vaxxers should be curbed since it is not them who are stalling the vaccination process while the experience of other countries shows that the awareness campaign should be well-organized and thought out. According to him, one of the most effective measures is a personal invitation to vaccination. "A large number of people did not get inoculated not because they are anti-vaxxers, not because they don’t want to, but because they didn’t have time or, rather, a choice of this time. It is difficult to make oneself undergo some medical procedure when you are not even sure it is useful," the expert explained.

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