Ukraine will inevitably have to make territorial concessions, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on June 12. According to a number of experts, Prime Ministers of Germany and Italy, Olaf Scholz and Mario Draghi, and French President Emmanuel Macron are going to convey the same message to the Kiev authorities during their trip to Ukraine scheduled for June 15 (though Scholz’s visit has not been confirmed officially yet), Vedomosti notes.
"The West, first and foremost Europe, can see that efforts to support Kiev in the current conflict through weapons supplies and economic assistance are failing to produce the result that was expected in the spring," Head of the European Political Research Department at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations Pavel Timofeyev pointed out. It’s unclear how long the European Union will be able to ensure the pressure coming from rising military spending and financial injections into Ukraine, which are adding to the food security issues, the analyst added.
"It’s possible that the Europeans will come up with their own anti-crisis plan stipulating that Kiev will have to abandon some of its territories in return for further financial support," said Artem Sokolov, a researcher at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations’ Center for European Studies. According to him, the talks will to a large extent depend on the situation in the combat zone.
The Americans are unlikely to be unaware of European peace initiatives, former Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation for United States Studies at Moscow State University Yury Rogulev emphasized. If things go wrong, it’s Germany, France and Italy that will be to blame for "betraying" Ukraine, while Washington and London will be able to wash their hands of it, the expert noted.
Beijing has made progress in improving its nuclear weapons but will use them only for defense purposes, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe said at a Singapore forum. The US insists that China has abandoned a strategy based around minimal deterrence, while the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute warns that the risk of a nuclear confrontation has reached the highest level since the Cold War, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
According to the Pentagon, China had some 200 nuclear warheads in 2020. Back then, Beijing claimed that its nuclear forces were tiny compared to those of the US and Russia but stressed that it was ready to join arms control talks based on equality. However, it was before the launch of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, which further raised suspicions between Beijing and Washington.
"China’s strategic nuclear forces have been rapidly developing for the past ten years," Higher School of Economics Senior Research Fellow Vasily Kashin pointed out. "China currently has three types of intercontinental ballistic missiles. A thing to note is that there are three versions of the DF-41 missile, including a silo-launched, a road-mobile and a rail-launched one. China is ahead of everyone, even Russia, in terms of the range of delivery means. Work is underway on hypersonic units for intercontinental ballistic missiles. It was assumed earlier that China’s nuclear arms were only designed for preventing a nuclear attack on the country and opposing nuclear blackmail. The reason was that China had limited resources and low technological capabilities. But now that China has turned into an industrial superpower, it is changing its approaches," the expert stressed.
After Biden came to power, Moscow and Washington managed to extend the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty for five years. However, there are no talks amid developments in Ukraine and the matter of China joining the Russia-US dialogue is closed, Kashin noted.
Pro-presidential movements in France’s parliament may be edged out by leftist opposition parties as both political poles have about the same support, the preliminary results of the first round of parliamentary elections show. The loss of a majority in the National Assembly may become a problem for President Emmanuel Macron because if there aren’t enough of his supporters in parliament, he will have to make agreements with other parties. It means that an opposition candidate may become head of the government and the president will have more dilemmas pursuing his policies, Izvestia notes.
"We can say that the current elections are special. French politics is facing a crisis as the former mainstream parties, the Socialists and the Republicans, have left the center stage, unable to revive their positions since 2017, while they used to take turns in power as two major political powers with a large number of supporters," Professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations’ Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy Yevgenia Obichkina said.
"The economic and social outcome of Macron’s first presidential term is contradictory, which is why many people are dissatisfied [with him] and some just hate him, viewing him as a president for the rich," Leading Researcher with the Department of Social and Political Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Europe Sergey Fedorov noted. "The leftist alliance is using popular rhetoric that appeals to many. This is the main thing that explains the current situation. The key question is whether Macron will be able to retain a majority in parliament or will have to create a coalition government," the expert added.
Analysts point out that the leftist opposition alliance may turn out to be not united enough to take charge and oppose the president. One way or another, the second round of elections set for June 19 will fully clarify things.
Russia has established logistics chains to ensure necessary supplies and will be able to get the goods it needs despite sanctions, said experts interviewed by Izvestia. Items from 75 product families coming from Germany, Italy, Japan, China, South Korea and other countries have already been registered, according to the Federal Accreditation Service’s report.
Dozens of foreign companies announced their withdrawal from the Russian market after February 24. In response, the Russian authorities approved the parallel import pattern, which makes it possible to import certain goods without the permission of rights holders. "One of the main reasons why liability for importing goods without the consent of rights holders was removed was to maintain the access of the necessary foreign goods to the Russian market," an official from the Ministry of Industry and Trade told the newspaper.
The registration of 75 product groups on such short notice is a good achievement in terms of parallel imports, which are expected to keep growing, say experts from the Freedom Finance investment company.
Parallel import activities were launched in test mode in mid-May, involving efforts to check payment patterns and logistics chains, Mobile Research Group Leading Analyst Eldar Murtazin emphasized.
One of the parallel import issues is that the necessary amounts of goods aren’t always available in one place so procurement managers are actively looking for products in China, the United Arab Emirates and even Europe, Murtazin went on to say. Often times, electronic goods are purchased in Kazakhstan and Armenia from local market participants. It is more expensive but those goods already have certificates recognized in Russia so there is no need to receive new ones, the analyst explained.
The first restaurants that used to be part of the McDonald's chain have reopened in Russia under a new brand, Vkusno i Tochka (or Tasty, and That’s It). The US-based fast-food giant, which had 718 locations operating in 45 regions of the country, sold its Russian business with a significant discount, reserving the right to buy it back within 15 years, the chain’s new owner Alexander Govor told Vedomosti. However, he does not believe that the corporation will ever return to Russia.
The new chain "slightly raised prices" due to logistical and inflation issues, Director General Oleg Paroyev noted. Nevertheless, it will remain an affordable place to eat.
The deal stipulates that the new company can’t use the brand colors and logos of the previous owner. Still, using a brand that reminds of McDonald's would have attracted a large number of old customers, Restaurant Business Ombudsman in Moscow and the Moscow Region Sergey Mironov noted.
The new chain’s success will depend on its pricing policy and menu changes, CORE.XP Retail Director Marina Malakhatko stressed. If customers are disappointed, they will turn to other chains, including Burger King and KFC, as well as to local burger joints. Mironov agreed, saying that people used to go to McDonald’s because of low prices. If prices rise significantly, customer traffic may decline, he noted.
According to Malakhatko, the new company needs to refrain from raising prices at the moment and reduce them instead. Consumer demand may recover in due course as people need time to get used to a new brand.
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