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Press review: LPR fully liberated and Kiev wants to draw Turkey into hostilities

Top stories from the Russian press on Monday, July 4th

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Kiev seeks to drag Turkey into hostilities as party to conflict

Ankara, who, for a long time, has tried to play the role of an intermediary between Kiev and Moscow in the export of Ukrainian grain, will have to make a tough choice after the Zelensky regime called on Turkey to arrest a ship with grain that arrived from Russian-controlled Berdyansk. According to media reports, Turkish customs detained a Russian cargo ship allegedly containing "Ukrainian grain". Keeping it in detention until the circumstances are clarified is not an arrest, much less nationalization, experts told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. They believe that Turkey will not yield to pressure from Kiev. Otherwise, Ankara would lose its important role as a mediator in resolving the "global grain crisis."

"Since the very onset of the hostilities, Kiev has tried to make Turkey a party to the conflict, calling for sanctions against Russia and to generally adhere to a common Western position, so this episode with grain is in line with these attempts, which will certainly continue," Researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Amur Gadzhiev told the newspaper. Although their positions on the Russian special operation and on grain differ, Kiev cannot refuse the intermediary services of Ankara, and Turkey is trying to maintain its role of an international mediator, the expert added.

The Erdogan government is unlikely to try to arrest and nationalize this grain, political scientist Andrey Suzdaltsev believes. "In this case, an important supply channel would be blocked, which is not in the interests of Turkey," he told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Other countries could take on Turkey’s intermediary role. Brazil has a chance to make itself a big player, Director of the Institute of Asian and African Countries of Moscow State University Alexey Maslov believes.


Vedomosti: Lugansk People’s Republic fully liberated upon capture of Lisichansk

On July 3, the 130th day of Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin that the Russian Armed Forces and the People's Militia of the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) had established full control over the city of Lisichansk and nearby settlements, Vedomosti writes. According to the Head of the LPR Leonid Pasechnik, this means the territory within the borders of the former Lugansk region of Ukraine has been liberated.

Meanwhile, Andrey Marochko from the People's Militia of the LPR, said that although the entire territory of the LPR is under allied control, this won't guarantee that the LPR is safe from Ukrainian shelling, based on the range of their weapons. In order for the territory to be protected from such attacks, the Armed Forces of Ukraine must be pushed back 300 km from its borders, Marochko said.

The Ukrainian military will try to build a new defense line around Seversk-Soledar in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Director of the Foundation for the Promotion of Technologies of the 21st Century Ivan Konovalov told Vedomosti. But it will be very difficult for them to cling to Seversk, and it is more likely that the main resistance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be located in the area of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. Without the possibility of massive shelling of Donetsk, the Ukrainian side may be more amenable to negotiations, the expert added.

Securing the LPR’s administrative borders can be called the second significant success of Russian troops in Donbass after the capture of Mariupol, political scientist Alexander Nemtsev said. The battle for the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk agglomeration is next and, if successful, provides access to the administrative borders of the DPR, he told the newspaper, reiterating that the liberation of the Donbass republics is the main objective of the special military operation.


Izvestia: Could Israel join Western sanctions against Russia under its new PM?

Overnight into July 1, Israel changed prime ministers: Yair Lapid replaced Naftali Bennett for the next six months. The early elections were also scheduled for November 1. Lapid was the first Israeli politician to accuse Russia of "aggression" in Ukraine, and generally takes a more pro-Western stance.

In two weeks, Joe Biden will arrive in Israel. Despite the rapprochement between the Israel and the US, experts interviewed by Izvestia believe that the country will not join the sanctions against Russia.

"The new prime minister, by and large, plays a technical role until the next election," expert at the Department for the Study of Israel at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Sergey Melkonyan told Izvestia. "The new leadership will not revise the already formed policy," he added.

The expert noted that Israel proceeds primarily from its national interests in forming its policy towards Russia. "I don’t think it would bring radical change in the structure of deliveries from Israel to Ukraine or policy towards Russia, especially since Israel’s accession to Western sanctions would not solve anything, and Ukraine understands it too," he explained to Izvestia·.

In July, US President Joe Biden plans to visit Israel along with Saudi Arabia. According to Melkonyan, the US-Israel agenda will be dominated not by Russia, but by the Iranian problem, which Israel considers the main threat. The expert also does not believe that the Russian-Ukrainian factor will play any serious role in the upcoming elections.


Izvestia: Uzbekistan's unrest may spread to neighboring Central Asian countries

An escalation of unrest in the Uzbek republic of Karakalpakstan is unlikely, experts interviewed by Izvestia believe. According to political analysts, in order to stabilize the situation, Tashkent will use its enforcement agencies, and could organize a dialogue with local opposition elites. At the same time, if an agreement fails, the instability of Uzbekistan may spread to other countries of Central Asia, which would be a problem for Moscow, experts believe.

Political scientist Azhdar Kurtov told the newspaper, for a long time the republic was very problematic. In particular, the dissatisfaction of Karakalpakstan residents is associated with constant agricultural problems due to drought and the general economic backwardness of the region. The unfavorable socio-economic situation has repeatedly led to the spread of anti-government sentiment.

"Tashkent is taking police measures to maintain control in the region. The authorities have enough resources for this, they will be able to stabilize the situation. In the 1990s, Uzbekistan coped with much more serious challenges associated with the Islamist threat," the expert recalled.

"Since the formation of Uzbekistan, the republic had fairly broad rights of local self-government. Therefore, the news about the change in rights resulted in discontent," according to Director of the Institute for Peacekeeping Initiatives and Conflictology Denis Denisov.

Escalation or de-escalation depends on establishing a dialogue between Tashkent and the local opposition. According to Denisov, the President of Uzbekistan wants to prevent a large-scale conflict that will lead to bloodshed. Instability in the republic can become a problem for Moscow, the expert believes: the destabilization of Uzbekistan can spread to the neighboring countries of Central Asia.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Global prices surge as Russian gas exports decline

The situation on the global gas market is heating up as prices in Europe continue to grow. German officials are warning the public about further gas price shocks. At the same time, Russian gas supplies to non-CIS countries continue to decline in physical terms, having been already slashed by about a third. According to experts interviewed by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Gazprom's prospects may be adversely affected by recent decisions to refuse to pay dividends and the actual nationalization of oil and gas projects like Sakhalin-2.

According to Bloomberg, the price of natural gas in Europe has been rising for the third week in a row. Thus, August futures for gas at the TTF hub in the Netherlands reached 147.5 euro per 1 MWh on Friday. Thus, prices surged by 74% against mid-June.

One explanation for the situation is that fuel prices are rising because of a decrease in Russian gas supplies via the Nord Stream gas pipeline, as well as due to another delay in the resumption of operation of the US liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal Freeport LNG, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The terminal stopped operations after the June 8 fire and now plans to resume deliveries in October, a month later than was previously planned.

Russia is also reducing gas supplies to non-CIS countries in general. According to Gazprom, in the first six months of this year, the company exported less than 69 bln cubic meters of gas to non-CIS countries, which is 31% less than a year earlier. Gazprom, according to the company, supplies gas under confirmed applications.

The situation is complicated by the Russian authorities’ decision to change the jurisdiction of Sakhalin Energy, the operator of the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project to protect the national interests and economic security of Russia, and also because of the "threat of a natural or man-made emergency," the presidential decree said.

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