Now as Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi did land in Taiwan late on Tuesday, Taipei may be faced with more frequent visits by Chinese aircraft in Taiwan’s air defense zone, reconnaissance flights near the island, and a ban on some imports. The US special flight SPAR19 escalated tensions in the Taiwan Strait and in relations between Beijing and Washington.
The Chinese Defense Ministry has already warned that the republic’s armed forces are on alert and will hold a number of military events as countermeasures. However, Washington claims its policies towards China have not changed. Drew Thompson, a former US Defense Department official responsible for managing bilateral relations with China, Taiwan and Mongolia, told Izvestia that the fact that Taiwan was not mentioned in Pelosi’s official itinerary should have partially satisfied Beijing.
The Chinese embassy in the United States could not be reached immediately for comment.
"There will be neither a war nor an armed conflict, except for a demonstration of military power involving a large number of fighters flying into Taiwan’s air defense zone or crossing the middle line in the Taiwan Strait or else military drills in coastal areas, as was announced," Arthur Ding, a distinguished research fellow of the Institute of International Relations, National Chengchi University, told Izvestia.
He said an overreaction could complicate things further ahead of the 20th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party due to be held this fall and harm the country’s relations with all Western nations, which China, on the contrary, has been seeking to improve.
The Leningrad naval base of the Russian Navy will be strengthened by Bastion coastal missile systems, Defense Ministry officials told Izvestia. These are equipped with Oniks supersonic missiles capable of hitting both sea and land targets with high accuracy. Boosting the second-largest city’s defenses becomes particularly relevant in the wake of Finland’s decision to join NATO, experts say.The coastal missile systems will be able to keep at gunpoint the Nordic country’s coast, the entire Gulf of Finland, part of the Baltic Sea, as well as Estonia.
The fundamental decision to deploy Bastion coastal missile systems in the Leningrad naval base has already been made, several Defense Ministry officials told the paper. However, they did not specify when the missile systems would go on combat duty.
"The latest version of Bastion is a multipurpose weapon that can be used both for coastal defense purposes and for striking ground targets at a significant distance," Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at HSE University Vasily Kashin told Izvestia. "Amid rising tensions and Finland’s accession to NATO, this would be a natural element of the battle group’s reinforcement in this direction. Many other steps will have to be taken, too. However, it’s clear that a priority goal is to increase the number of high-precision weapons there. These include Bastions, all modifications of Iskander ballistic missiles, Kalibr cruise missiles and similar weapons. Given the potential enemy has M270 MLRS in this direction, naturally, we should have powerful weapons there, too."
Since the Leningrad naval base’s operational area stretches from the Finnish border to the Estonian one, this should show to Estonia and primarily to Finland and Sweden, which made a "silly decision" to become part of NATO, that they will be under attack, warned admiral Valentin Selivanov, who previously served as the chief of staff of the Russian Navy.
Moldova’s authorities intend to announce the cancellation of the country’s gas contract with Russian energy giant Gazprom early this fall, Viktor Shelin, the leader of the republic’s Social-Democratic Party, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The reason behind the move is rising gas prices. The government will make it clear to its citizens that it would be better to switch from the expensive Russian gas to the European one, which is also costly, now that Moldova has been granted EU candidacy status, the politician said. And in November, he said, "we will expect people to stage mass protests."
Given the circumstances, with gas prices rising constantly on the global market, Moldovans will have to pay huge sums for their heating, according to realitatea.md.
In his research, economist Veaceslav Ionita gave a worst-case scenario, saying gas heating would rise to 4,800 lei ($248) on the average in 2022-2023 from 750 lei ($39) in 2019-2020.
The Chisinau-based media outlets warn that 80% of the republic’s population will be unable to pay their gas bills this year, with those who have autonomous heating systems installed in their flats to be hit hardest.
Meanwhile, Russian gas is still being supplied to Moldova. Moldovagaz CEO Vadim Cheban wrote on his Telegram channel that 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas would cost Moldova $1,458.5 from August 1, a $468 rise from July.
The Russian government is planning to sign an agreement to prevent double taxation with Oman. On July 28, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin gave his instructions to approve a draft document that has been worked out with Oman. Next, the Russian Finance Ministry will have to hold negotiations with the Persian Gulf country and sign the treaty as soon as the agreement is reached.
The document envisages a 10% dividend income tax rate for those who have owned 20% in a company’s capital for the past year, while the 15% rate will apply in all other cases, with interest and royalties to be taxed at 10%. The agreement also provides tax relief for companies paying their interest and dividends to the government, the central bank or the two countries’ pension funds. The Russian Direct Investment Fund and a number of state-run corporations will be able to compete for such benefits.
A Finance Ministry official confirmed to Vedomosti that work was underway to prepare the agreement for signing.
The tax rates stipulated by the agreement with Oman look less attractive than the ones available with Qatar or Hong Kong (the 5% tax rate for dividends paid in Qatar and Hong Kong, 5% for interest paid in Qatar and 0% for interest paid in Hong Kong), and yet they are lower than those agreed with EU jurisdictions, which Russia reviewed actively in 2020-2021, said Natalya Kuznetsova, partner of the tax and rights department at Business Solutions and Technologies (formerly Deloitte in Russia).
Meanwhile, the tax terms being offered to Oman look super-advantageous if compared to, say, the tax agreement with Switzerland that has yet to be reviewed, said Alexander Tokarev, partner at Kept (formerly KPMG).
The Skolkovo Foundation, the Technopark and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) have been targeted by the latest US sanctions. The restrictions would limit access to US technology for these organizations and may affect the development of telecoms equipment with an open interface, as well as for 6G, on which Russia has lately placed many hopes.
Experts and telecoms market players told Kommersant that the sanctions would make it difficult for Skoltech to proceed with its work on 6G equipment and current solutions within OpenRAN space. The 6G standard will require huge resources, and primarily skilled personnel, as well as international cooperation for frequency and technical standards coordination, a telecom expert told the paper. "It will be impossible to build equipment for this standard without being involved in the process," he warned.
Sergey Sukhman, president of Zelax, a leading developer and manufacturer of data network solutions, said the sanctions imposed on Skoltech would hamper purchases of the necessary hardware and components. "And yet, I think Russian companies have already learned how to bypass such restrictions. So, work will continue along these lines, though this would require additional financial resources," he said.
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