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Press review: Donbass guns for Kiev’s last line of defense and G20 top diplomats to meet

Top stories from the Russian press on Thursday, July 7th

Kommersant: G20 foreign ministers to meet in Bali amid club’s de-facto break-up

The opening of a two-day G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali on Thursday will be a dress rehearsal for the upcoming G20 summit, scheduled for November 15-16, when Indonesia will host the leaders of major economies from the West and East, Kommersant writes. On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Moscow had informed Indonesia about President Vladimir Putin’s intention to attend the G20 summit, adding that exactly how he will participate will depend on the epidemiological situation in the region and global developments. "Russia regards the G20 as the leading forum for international economic cooperation and as an effective mechanism for multilateral governance, on the basis of which well-considered decisions should be made in the interests of the whole world," Russia’s MFA said in a statement.

Despite Moscow’s upbeat opinion of the G20 role, the ministerial meeting will be held in the context of the group’s de facto break-up amid the crisis evolving in the global economy and energy and food security threats.

Having abandoned the original idea of boycotting the G20 if Russia were to participate, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Western partners now intend to avoid any contact with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Also, Western attendees are determined to reduce discussions of global threats as part of the forum to "a diplomatic trial" of Russia, presenting the country as a primary cause of all the problems the world is facing.

Washington has made it clear, unlike with Russia, its dialogue with China is not only possible, but is still vital for the United States. In this light, a rare meeting between US Secretary of State Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will be a key intrigue of the multilateral talks in Bali, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, commented on Washington’s remark about the absence of conditions for a meeting in Bali between Blinken and Lavrov, using the lyrics of a Lyusya Chebotina song she had translated in English. "So, June is over. Your power is lower, and I’m gonna fly away from this lie," Zakharova wrote on Telegram.


Izvestia: Allied forces aiming for Ukraine’s last line of defense in Donbass

Russia’s allied forces are marching on with their offensive in Donbass. They are currently concentrating their efforts towards the city of Seversk. On Wednesday, Spornoye was liberated in the Donetsk People’s Republic, local territorial defense officials reported. This locality is just 6 kilometers away from Seversk, and military experts describe it as the key to Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, or the Ukrainians’ final line of defense in the entire region. Meanwhile, air battles have resumed in the skies over Ukraine, with three Ukrainian planes and two helicopters downed by Russian air power in the past three days, Izvestia reported.

Vitaly Kisilyov, an aide to the LPR’s interior minister, said that the allied forces were currently on an offensive towards Seversk from two directions. And control of the city would enable a stronger advance towards Kramatorsk and Slavyansk, he explained.

"Seversk and Artyomovsk are the last large localities on the way to Slavyansk and are the key to the DPR’s still unliberated territories," military expert Dmitry Boltenkov told Izvestia. "There, Ukrainian forces that have survived near Lisichansk and Severodonetsk are now rushing to build a new defensive line," he said.

According to Boltenkov, if the enemy is quickly defeated on this new front, the psychological impact will be devastating. "They will realize that, even with all their foreign-supplied weapons, they will not be able to counter Russian troops ‘on the ground’, and the terrain there is very open," he concluded.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Bavaria puts in good word for Russia

Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Soeder has cautioned Germany’s federal government of "mistaken behavior towards Russia." Berlin’s actions could have dire consequences, including mass social upheaval and a loss of millions of jobs in the country, Soeder warned at a joint meeting of the presidium of the Christian Social Union and the state’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Soeder fears Russian gas supplies to Germany might come to a halt as soon as winter sets in. He also rebuked the government for being slow to act when searching for alternative gas suppliers. He highlighted Italy noting that they had already signed a gas contract with Qatar, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

According to the German magazine Focus, the Bavarian premier demanded that the government extend the deadline for connecting German nuclear power plants to the grid and insisted on more budget money for hydropower projects. He also reproached the Greens for blocking the operation of nuclear power plants from being extended over ideological reasons.

"Our country is running out of energy resources," Soeder wrote on social media after the meeting. Therefore, warm apartments, as well as the ability to use and pay for energy by citizens, should become top-priority objectives for the government and be at the center of its activities, he said. The skyrocketing prices have been unbearable even for those citizens who earn enough, Soeder noted, and social decline is looming. He demanded that the government first and foremost reduce energy and electricity taxes.

Among other measures, Focus writes, the country should refrain from using vehicles that run on electricity generated at gas plants. This energy should be redirected to "keeping the elderly warm," the magazine writes.


Kommersant: British PM under pressure to resign

Without having time to recover from an attempted no-confidence vote from his own party, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now faced with another, more serious challenge. Some 40 government officials, including ministers, resigned citing disagreement with the PM’s behavior and called for his impeachment.

Polls show that the majority of Conservative Party supporters, for the first time, favor his resignation. However, despite an unprecedented power crisis, Johnson has no intention of leaving 10 Downing Street in what he calls extraordinary circumstances - acute economic problems amid "Europe’s worst war in 80 years", Kommersant writes.

Johnson, speaking to the parliament on Wednesday, vowed not to step down, but he was met with a harsh response. The opposition, too, did not stand aside. Leader of the Labor Party Keir Starmer said only a true government reshuffle would set in motion much-needed reforms in Great Britain.

And Johnson still has powerful supporters. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was 100% behind the prime minister, like she did during the impeachment process. Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab as well as ministers for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales affairs are not going to quit either, British media reported. Against this background, sources in the premier’s circle have said Johnson would survive any no-confidence vote.

Though Johnson has no obvious successors, UK media said there are several potential candidates. The Guardian pointed to at least eight people who could replace the incumbent prime minister, with Penny Mordaunt, who is in charge of trade policy in the government, and ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak being the most promising ones.


Vedomosti: France’s TotalEnergies to quit JV

TotalEnergies has decided to transfer its 20% in the project to develop the Kharyaga oil deposit in the Nenets autonomous area to the state-owned Russian company, Zarubezhneft, the operator of the project. The French company made the announcement on July 6, without disclosing the sum.

TotalEnergies said the deal was yet to be approved by Russian authorities. According to Reuters, TotalEnergies intends to keep its stakes in Novatek, where it holds 19.4%, and in the Russian gas company’s Yamal LNG, Arctic LNG 2 and Terneftegaz projects.

Vedomosti had not received any comment from either Zarubezhneft or TotalEnergies by the time its latest issue went to print.

According to Deputy Director General of the National Energy Institute Alexander Frolov, TotalEnergies might have decided to act so over the EU’s sixth package of sanctions, that includes a partial embargo on Russian oil. In the spring of 2022, TotalEnergies acted "more constructively" than Shell and BP, which immediately announced their exit. "The company has made the decision exclusively under the pressure of external circumstances. Bypassing the sanctions would evidently turn more costly for its business than quitting the project entirely," the expert told Vedomosti.

Frolov also said the departure of the French company "will hardly affect production," as Russian companies have all the necessary competences to develop oil fields like this, he assured.

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