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Press review: Russia busy combatting sanctions and Turkey reminds EU of application

Top stories from the Russian press on Thursday, March 3rd

Izvestia: Europe needs new ideas in talks with Russia

European countries have lacked diplomatic ingenuity during negotiations with Russia, former Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl told the Izvestia newspaper.

"I can recall the last visits of several European government heads and foreign ministers to Russia. According to my observations, it was more activism than real diplomacy. The same positions were repeated continually. No one answered the questions and addressed the concerns of the other side. This is not diplomacy. Just repeating old statements leads nowhere, one has to be creative and bring new ideas," the Austrian diplomat noted.

Kneissl emphasized that "negotiations should be based on trust." "There must be some other arguments apart from those made public at a press conference. We need new ideas," she stated.

The ex-top diplomat pointed out that since 2007, after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech in Munich, it was clear what Moscow expected and demanded. "Everyone was talking about a common European security architecture, and Vladimir Putin then said loud and clear that it did not exist. Such a state of affairs is caused by the fact that nothing was done in this direction. And this is regrettable. The cards were on the table, so to speak, but nothing happened," the diplomat said.


Vedomosti: How ban on withdrawal of currency from Russia going to affect economy

Companies and individuals from the states that imposed anti-Russian sanctions will be banned from transferring money from Russia abroad, the Vedomosti newspaper outlined. The Central Bank ordered the credit institutions to suspend cross-border transfers to some 43 ‘unfriendly’ countries. Banks must halt transactions from March 1 to 31. These actions by the Central Bank are an attempt to prevent the outflow of funds from the Russian economy, and maintain financial stability.

The decision to freeze cross-border transfers to 43 countries will heavily affect the import of goods and services to Russia, partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner Vladimir Chikin said. "Foreign companies have no significant resources in Russia of their own," Senior Advisor at Hill Consulting Sergey Nesterenko noted. "International business in the real sector of the economy operates through subsidiaries of Russian enterprises, the country’s residents, so the risk of trade obstruction exists but on a limited scale," he explained.

In the near future, there will be a restructuring of some Russian beneficiaries’ financial flows back to Russia, according to the expert. The Finance Ministry announced the fourth capital amnesty and is preparing the details. "Another part of the business is likely to transfer assets to other available jurisdictions," leading lawyer of the International Law and Taxes practice at Lemchik, Krupsky and Partners, Ilya Gorshkov, pointed out.

From an economic point of view, the market is going to face a global redistribution. "The Asian region is interested in the Russian market, so there is no need to talk about complete economic isolation," Gorshkov said. "Russian business will start investing less in American, British and European businesses and more in Serbia, Turkey and Kazakhstan," Rustam Vakhitov, partner at Crow Expertise, noted.


Izvestia: Russia poses threat to large Ukrainian military group, takes measures to protect civilians

By the end of the seventh day of the military operation in Ukraine, the units of the Lugansk People’s Republic surrounded Lisichansk, jeopardizing a large grouping of Kiev’s forces on this front, Izvestia stated. According to experts, the maneuver was undertaken to avoid clashes in the city, while the Russian defense ministry emphasizes that Moscow is taking measures to ensure the safety of civilians. On March 2, Russia announced that a humanitarian response headquarters would be established, and a convoy with the necessary help has already been formed.

"The end-around maneuver on Kremennaya poses a threat to the entire grouping of the Kiev forces and the National Guard, which are concentrated in Severodonetsk and Lisichansk," military expert Vladislav Shurygin told Izvestia. "[This military unit] is in danger of being surrounded in one big cauldron. The most reasonable decision would be to retreat from these cities to the west or surrender," he noted.

Furthermore, the Defense Ministry revealed the losses for the first time - some 498 Russian soldiers were killed and 1,597 others suffered injuries. The operation takes place on rough terrain - in such conditions there are always quite large losses, President of the Center for Strategic Communications Dmitry Abzalov told Izvestia. "If one aims to minimize losses among the civilian population, the risks for the country’s own troops grow significantly. Also, do not forget that many multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), as well as some tough nationalist battalions, were stationed in Donbass.


Kommersant: Russian leadership holds first round of anti-sanction consultations with big business

The Russian government will focus on supporting large national businesses as a source of income and new investment projects, which was demonstrated by yesterday’s meeting of President Vladimir Putin and President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) Alexander Shokhin, and then - by the talks between First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov and the Bureau of the RSPP Board, Kommersant said.

According to the newspaper, the Russian leadership collected questionnaires from the largest companies on their condition and risks from sanctions. Further, the interaction between the state and business will be institutionalized - in exchange for analytics and data on markets and prospects, large businesses are promised certainty in terms of government actions as well as the prompt development of support mechanisms.

As Kommersant noted, some sources in large Russian companies confirmed that until now the authorities had been concentrated on supporting financial institutions. Now the interaction between the government and big business will be permanent.

Yesterday's meeting with the First Deputy Prime Minister was a kick-off session: business outlined the most pressing problems, while departments decided on the format of work. "During the meeting, some issues of concern to business were addressed and taken on board. Such talks will continue in a permanent format," the First Deputy Prime Minister's Secretariat told Kommersant. Also, a source at the RSPP noted that there was a promise to set up some working groups on support measures in the near future. "The discussion was constructive, now the requests need to be formalized," the source explained. In turn, Belousov reaffirmed that a law on the restructuring of bank loans for both large and small businesses was being developed, the regulatory policy would be adjusted, while accessible liquidity of banks and the stable implementation of foreign economic operations would be ensured.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Turkey reminds Brussels of its interest in integration

The Turkish leadership has castigated the EU’s insincerity in regards to granting membership to candidate countries after Kiev’s application to join the EU, according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recalled that Ankara had been waiting for it since the 1960s without receiving an unequivocal answer.

The EU needs the Middle Eastern country, however, the current situation is unlikely to speed up the process of Ankara’s admission, experts say. "I’m having serious doubts that this situation can stimulate the EU to speed up a decision on Turkey’s accession," Turkologist and Orientalist Yury Mavashev told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "On the one hand, it is connected with the procedure. On the other hand, it is clear that the EU considers every case individually. At present, it seems that the EU understands that Turkey is very significant. What is more, I would say that the relations of the collective EU and Turkey are much more constructive than the bilateral ties between Ankara and Washington," the expert noted.

According to the analyst, there are some chances that Turkey can become a mediator between Moscow and Kiev. "I would even say that there is a strong likelihood that Turkey can be a platform for negotiations. And I would refrain from concentrating on the figure of Erdogan alone - we need to look at Turkey from a broader perspective. Any leadership would roughly act in this vein," Mavashev stated. The expert said that Ankara viewed losing Moscow as a partner as a pretty negative scenario. "Turkey does not cast off its partners, or at least does it as a last resort," he pointed out.

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