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Press review: Russia, Iran unite to fight West’s sanctions and BRICS looks to expand

Top stories from the Russian press on Friday, June 24th
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian
© Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/TASS

Izvestia: What lies ahead for Ukraine after being granted EU candidate status?

The European Union has granted Ukraine and Moldova the status of candidate countries. This decision was made by the leaders of 27 member countries of the continent-wide bloc at a summit in Brussels. According to European lawmakers interviewed by Izvestia, this step has broad support from the EU. Meanwhile, Russia views the move ambiguously. On the one hand, it sees EU membership as tantamount to striving for NATO, on the other hand, European integration is a purely economic issue and does not raise any concerns.

"We'll see, we'll analyze the consequences," Ex-Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Izvestia. "The context is important; it is not as harmless as it might have seemed three years ago. Decisions are being made amid a sanctions offensive and against everything Russian," he added.

That being said, the European Union noted that obtaining candidate status is only the first step towards membership.

Engin Eroglu, a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament, in an interview with Izvestia said that the process of gaining membership to the EU does not mean automatic entry, but it means that the country has started pro-European processes and reforms, which are partially financed by Brussels.

The granting of candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova has angered other countries that have been striving to join the European Union for several years now. For example, the European Commission has so far denied this status to Georgia, the newspaper writes.

"Tbilisi, to put it mildly, was not happy about the refusal, but this will not be a reason for any deterioration in relations between the European Union and Georgia," Head of the Department of Integration Studies at MGIMO Nikolay Kaveshnikov told Izvestia.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: BRICS looking to expand

On Thursday, under China’s chairmanship, a two-day BRICS summit, an informal international association that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, opened. The agenda of the meeting in video format includes promoting global development, discussing world problems, as well as turning the quintet into BRICS+ by attracting new states, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

According to the newspaper, the ramped-up global turbulence has encouraged BRICS members to intensify intra-group cooperation, and widen the association’s ties. According to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, expanding BRICS would help increase the association's influence and contribute to maintaining peace. A few days later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Saudi Arabia and Argentina were interested in joining BRICS.

Leading Researcher at the Center for Political Studies at the Institute of Latin America of the Russian Academy of Sciences Nailya Yakovleva told the newspaper the main reasons for Argentina's desire to move closer to BRICS membership are hightened international prestige and, most importantly, expanded opportunities for attracting foreign investment in infrastructure projects and loans from the new BRICS development bank.

"Argentina's key rationale for entering BRICS is that it has already established tight cooperative relations with each of the association's member states, establishing the groundwork for future participation. At the same time, the Argentine economy can organically fit into the 'five' countries' economic structure, add new elements, and make a tangible contribution - primarily through its powerful agro-industrial complex and significant mineral resources - to strengthening BRICS' position in the global economic relations system," she said. The expert added that Argentina’s accension could open the BRICS door to other large developing states, such as Mexico and Indonesia.

Uruguay, Iran, Egypt, Guinea, Thailand, and a number of post-Soviet states are often named among other potential BRICS participants, the newspaper writes.


Kommersant: Russia, Iran team up against Western sanctions

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Tehran, where the two parties discussed prospects for bolstering their partnership amid the Western sanctions against Russia and Iran. The difficult question about the virtually frozen negotiations on the Iranian nuke deal was also raised, and Moscow and Tehran were also unanimous in their opinion on blaming the United States for the current turbulence and for all regional conflicts from Ukraine to the Middle East, Kommersant writes.

Tehran, which has been under sanctions for more than 40 years, understands the new realities, which its Russian partners have to adapt to more than anywhere else. Iran’s top diplomat promised during a press conference following his talks with Lavrov that Russia and Iran would take joint action to neutralize Western sanctions.

The countries discussed the prospects for developing economic cooperation between Moscow and Tehran, as well as regional partnerships. For instance, within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, a free trade agreement is in the works, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is also a group, which Iran plans to join. According to Lavrov, this process "should not take too long".

"Despite being under sanctions, Iran has managed to develop a number of industries, ensure its food security, and has not steered away from its foreign and domestic political priorities. That is, having more modest resources than Russia, it managed to withstand serious sanctions," Director of Programs at the Russian International Affairs Council Ivan Timofeev told Kommersant. "But the main lesson to be learned from the Iranian experience is that all agreements to lift or ease sanctions are unsustainable," the expert added.


Izvestia: Berlin may have to rethink ‘green’ policy goals amid gas shortage

Germany will have to postpone its plans to switch to a "green" economy due to problems with gas supplies, sources in the Bundestag told Izvestia. On June 23, the country's government declared a second level of emergency because of a decrease in gas supplies from Russia. According to experts interviewed by the newspaper, this measure will directly affect end consumers, since suppliers will be able to further increase prices for the fuel.

Steffen Kotre, a member of the Bundestag committee on climate protection and energy from the Alternative for Germany party, told the newspaper that under this scenario consumers would immediately feel the consequences of the sanctions policy. According to him, for companies, the situation means less production, higher prices, and ultimately more expensive products.

At the same time, the politician noted that Germany would have to abandon plans for a "green" transition anyway. The lifespan of nuclear power plants must be extended, and the nation’s coal-free policy must be stopped, he added.

The current course of the German administration can be called a policy of double standards, Senior Researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations Alexander Kamkin told Izvestia. "On the one hand, they talk about alternative sources. On the other hand, they are forced to resume the use of coal, and there are also talks about the resumption of nuclear power plants. It turns out that Germany has driven itself into a dead end," he said.


Vedomosti: Russia services its bond obligations in rubles

The Russian Finance Ministry laid out the details of its transition to a new procedure for payments on Russian Eurobonds Thursday. Due to sanctions and the failure of foreign counterparties to fulfill their obligations to service the Russian public debt, Russia cannot make payments in foreign currency, and is forced to pay all Eurobond holders in rubles, Vedomosti writes.

The new mechanism assumes that the holders of Russian Eurobonds will be divided into three groups depending on their depository, the Ministry of Finance said. According to a source close to the government, the ministry discussed general problems with Eurobond holders, and a specific mechanism was spawned from this discussion. "There are various groups of investors and they have different interests. We were setting up a mechanism so that each of these groups had the opportunity to get their requirements met," the source told Vedomosti.

The transition to the new payment method was forced into being after the US Treasury did not extend the permission to service payments on the Russian government debt, Head of the expert department at BCS World of Investments Albert Koroev told Vedomosti. It is difficult to say whether this mechanism would make it possible to avoid default, he noted. The Finance Ministry insists that this is not default, however, rating agencies have given quite unambiguous interpretations of payments in national currency, the expert added.

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