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Press review: Are Finland, Sweden duping Erdogan and Caracas offers Russia moral support

Top stories from the Russian press on Tuesday, July 5th
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Jakub Porzycki via Reuters Connect
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
© Jakub Porzycki via Reuters Connect

Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Are Finland, Sweden pulling a fast one on Erdogan?

The protocols on Finland and Sweden joining NATO will be signed on July 5. The countries will be able to enter the bloc after the documents are ratified. The only issue that remains is whether the move will be supported by Ankara, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes.

After the recent Madrid-hosted NATO summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expected that suspected terrorists would be extradited to Ankara at first request. However, Sweden and Finland used vague wording, vowing, for instance, to promptly consider Turkey’s requests for the deportation of suspected terrorists, which does not mean a promise to grant such requests.

"The notion of terrorism is not universal. First of all, Ankara will have to prove that the person in question was indeed engaged in terrorist activities," Yashar Niyazbayev, an expert on Turkish policies, pointed out.

Analysts believe that Stockholm and Helsinki are trying to make Ankara drop its guard. They may send a couple of terrorists to Turkey or just make verbal promises. However, once the two Nordic countries become NATO members, they will state that they don’t have any obligations to Turkey.

Turkish President Erdogan’s response to such tricks is going to be harsh. "For Sweden and Finland to fully join NATO, all members of the North Atlantic Alliance need to approve the step. In addition, their consent should be confirmed by their parliaments. At any moment, Ankara may refuse to give its consent, saying that Sweden and Finland are failing to implement the memorandum," Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies Amur Gadzhiyev noted, commenting on the looming strife.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Venezuela offers moral support to Russia in conflict with Ukraine

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Carlos Faria has arrived on an official visit to Russia. His trip comes amid Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to improve relations with the United States. However, Faria confirmed that his country had not forgotten about Russia and voiced support for Moscow in its conflict with Kiev, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

Faria is visiting Moscow at a time of foreign policy changes as relations between Venezuela and the US enter a new phase. Rising gas prices forced US President Joe Biden to make concessions to Caracas, so two European companies were allowed to transport oil from Venezuela to Europe. However, the level of rapprochement between Maduro and the US should not be overestimated. It's symptomatic that no results have so far been achieved in talks on the fate of eight Americans detained in Venezuela for hostile activities against Maduro.

Meanwhile, Moscow currently has no reason to blame Caracas for trying to flip Russia. Chief Researcher with the Center of Latin American Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World History Andrey Shchelchkov points out that even with US sanctions eased, Venezuela’s oil exports aren’t that large. The country cannot bring oil prices down, which would be against Russia’s interests. "It’s also possible that Venezuela’s infrastructure facilities are so worn out that the country is simply unable to significantly increase exports," Shchelchkov assumed.

According to the expert, Moscow and Caracas "will try to make it clear that they have a good relationship." "It’s not just about their image. Russia needs to prove that it is maintaining its presence in Latin America," Shchelchkov noted. As for the Venezuelan president, it’s crucial for him to make Washington see that he still has alternatives to rapprochement with the US.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Domestic education controversy puts Taliban to the test

The issue of school education for girls has polarized Afghanistan’s Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia). Its leaders are divided on how to interpret Sharia law in this case. Experts believe that the split will definitely also influence the Taliban government’s foreign policy, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

One of the reasons behind rising internal contradictions is because many Taliban officials, who lived in Pakistan and Qatar in recent years, used to send their daughters to local schools and universities. After the 2021 fall of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the actual capitulation of the Western coalition, some commanders brought their children to Afghanistan and were shocked by the school ban.

In the meantime, while the Afghan leadership has been put to the test by internal contradictions, ordinary Taliban members are becoming increasingly frustrated, particularly because of the deteriorating living conditions, which is sure to impact Kabul’s diplomacy.

"The movement’s radical leaders pursue a line of no compromise, which affects foreign policy, too," Director of the Center for Contemporary Afghan Studies Omar Nessar noted. "For instance, they oppose concessions to foreign actors on many issues," he specified.

According to the expert, it’s possible to say at the moment that the radical wing is strengthening its positions but global actors are unlikely to feel it. "The approach of various factions towards external players may differ in the event of major changes within the movement. Based on the supreme leader’s statements, they don’t see any differences between Russia and the US," Nessar emphasized.


Izvestia: Europe’s gas prices may soar to $3,500

The previously announced suspension of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline will stir up a lot of fuss in the media, which may trigger another hike in European gas prices, Izvestia writes, citing Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. According to the Executive Secretary of the Chamber’s Committee for Energy Strategy and Development of Fuel and Energy Complex Dmitry Polokhin, Europe’s gas prices may skyrocket to $3,500 per 1,000 cubic meters.

The suspension of Nord Stream 1 for repairs is a routine event, which takes place on a regular basis and was announced a while ago. That said, the very suspension should not trigger a reaction on the market. However, another scenario cannot be ruled out, which would be negative for all parties, where the suspension will take longer than planned due to a force majeure event, Finam analyst Sergey Kaufman noted.

If gas flows via Nord Stream 1 are shut down, German companies will have to purchase gas at spot prices, which are two to three times higher than those based on long-term contracts, Polokhin stressed. As a result, the competitiveness of European goods will decline, and so will production.

Russia will also feel the negative effects from halted gas supplies as it will lose a market and export revenues. However, Russia can boost a number of gas projects not involving the West, Deputy Chairman of the supervisory board of the Reliable Partner association Dmitry Gusev noted.

There are good prospects for projects where China is the end-user, Leading Analyst at Freedom Finance Natalya Milchakova stressed. "Since the beginning of the year, stock gas prices tripled in Asia, while they only doubled in Europe. According to Gazprom’s forecast, China’s demand for primary commodities will rise by 50% in ten years compared to 2020. It means that prices will also keep growing or, at least, they won’t go down," the expert explained.


Izvestia: Why the sudden surge in deadly shark attacks?

Two women have recently been killed by sharks in Egypt. Experts interviewed by Izvestia believe that the aggressive behavior of sharks is caused by the crews of cargo ships transporting meat and tourists who offer buffet food to fish and violate bathing rules.

Vice President of the Alliance of Russian Travel Agencies Alexan Mkrtchyan points out that the Red Sea is the shortest route from Australia and New Zealand to Europe. When fridges break down on cargo ships, captains move to get rid of rotten meat by throwing it overboard.

Experts tell the newspaper that sharks don't attack first but may be provoked by bathers who offer food to fish, ignoring the relevant ban. Another reason that has been voiced by local divers is the noise that motorboats make. A large number of water transport vehicles may prevent marine inhabitants from reaching open water.

"Sharks aren’t in fact the silly and bloodthirsty creatures they are portrayed to be. Although they are fish, they still have intellect," Course Director of the Akvanavt group of diving companies German Gursky noted.

In order to prevent an attack, first, one should not swim far into the sea alone. It’s better to swim in a group because sharks perceive a band of swimmers or divers as a whole, the expert explained. Second, it’s not a good idea to swim near reefs where the sea depth exceeds 20 meters. Third, the odds of a shark attack are lower when a swimmer is wearing a wetsuit, which is made of rubber and has an unpleasant smell. The fourth piece of advice is to refrain from bathing at dusk and in the early morning.

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