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Press review: Erdogan backs Putin’s gas hub pitch and White House calls China true threat

Top stories from the Russian press on Friday, October 14th
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
© Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS

Izvestia: Russian gas hub in Turkey may interest southern Europe

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported Vladimir Putin's proposal to create a gas hub in the country, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Izvestia following a bilateral meeting between the presidents at the summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), where the Russian leader has also discussed the issues of the emerging new world order with his counterparts. Meanwhile, the leaders of Russia and Turkey did not discuss Ukraine or the possibility of resuming negotiations. However, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Izvestia, Moscow is open to relevant proposals.

According to Putin, Turkey has turned out to be the most reliable route for gas supplies to Europe. The saboteurs who tried to blow up TurkStream failed, he noted. Now, Russia supplies gas in full, but the volume can still be increased. A future gas hub in Turkey would help regulate the pricing issue without "any political overtones," the Russian leader noted. Erdogan supported this proposal, Peskov told Izvestia on the sidelines of the meeting.

In addition to gas, the leadership of Russia and Turkey discussed continuing cooperation on the grain deal and the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant.

That said, the CICA conference participants focused on economic cooperation in Asia. President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev proposed turning the meeting’s financial summit into a permanent platform. Putin has also confirmed the need for closer economic cooperation in Asia.

The expert community, however, expected Putin and Erdogan to discuss the situation in Ukraine. However, they did not touch on this topic openly. Commenting on the possibility of resuming the negotiation process to Izvestia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow would be ready to consider appropriate initiatives.


Izvestia: UN’s anti-Russia resolution condemning referendums approved by 143 countries

Many countries would have liked to vote against the UN resolution denouncing Russia’s recent referendums on its new territories, but "Western countries would have destroyed them if they had taken Russia’s side," Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky told Izvestia.

In the resolution, the General Assembly reaffirmed its commitment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. Western countries directly say that a lot of work has been done in order to convince the members of the UN General Assembly to support the document and overcome the mark of 140 countries, Izvestia writes. However, according to EU diplomacy chief, Josep Borrell, the number of abstentions is concerning, and here the EU intends to continue diplomatic work, according to the newspaper.

Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya, speaking at the two-day debate that preceded the vote, argued that the referendums were held in full compliance with the norms and principles of international law.

Polyansky called the outcome of the vote a triumph of "democracy at gunpoint". In an interview with Izvestia, he said: "Many would have liked to vote against it, but they understand that Western countries would have destroyed them if they had taken Russia’s side."

The expert community called the outcome of the vote the success of Western diplomacy. "This is the result of consistent persistent pressure from the United States and European allies on the countries of the global South who were sitting on the fence," Director of the Russian International Affairs Council Andrey Kortunov told Izvestia. Although Moscow has its own instruments as well, here the West outdoes it, through several soft power factors.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: White House’s new ‘National Security Strategy’ sees China as chief threat

The White House has published a new National Security Strategy. It calls Russia dangerous, but gives priority to confrontation with China for at least 10 years. According to Washington, China is the one country that not only has the desire, but also the capability to change the world order, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Meanwhile, the newspaper notes that the strategy also has contradictions, which do not quite fit in with Wasington’s true foreign policy course.

The 48-page document considers China to be a far more dangerous and powerful adversary than Russia, capable of achieving its goals of altering the world order both through economic and technological power, as well as through competent diplomatic steps. However, the White House also said it would not allow Moscow to achieve its goals using nuclear blackmail, without specifying any actions.

Director of the Foundation for the Study of the United States. Franklin Roosevelt at Moscow State University Yuri Rogulev told the newspaper he believes the strategy only indicates goals without specifics and still contains many factual contradictions.

"The United States supports reducing escalation, but they often provoke it. The document also says that Washington is in favor of a peaceful solution to conflicts and is against the formation of blocs, but in practice it turns out differently," he pointed out. "The Americans always manage to competently use crises to their advantage," he contended.

The expert added that even when declaring China to be the main threat, the United States somewhat softened their previous rhetoric. The White House notes that peaceful coexistence is still possible and will not interrupt the economic ties that bind the two major powers.


Kommersant: Is France’s Macron too ‘one-sided’ in favor of Armenia?

The European Union has sent a technical team to Armenia to identify locations on the border with Azerbaijan where a civilian observation mission will be deployed. This step is the biggest success of Western players in mediating between Yerevan and Baku, Kommersant writes. Meanwhile, one of the authors of the idea, French President Emmanuel Macron, almost simultaneously made a statement that caused a wave of indignation in Baku and was ambiguously perceived even in Yerevan.

According to Macron, Moscow is deliberately destabilizing the situation in the region in order to weaken Armenia. In addition, Macron called Karabakh a disputed and internationally unrecognized region, and also accused Azerbaijan of unleashing a war. Kommersant's sources in the countries of the region suggest that this may affect any further diplomatic progress.

"We have always known that he [Emmanuel Macron] takes a one-sided position, but there was no such thing as directly condemning Azerbaijan in this way," Chairman of the board of the Baku Center for Analysis of International Relations Farid Shafiyev told Kommersant. "Macron didn’t just make a careless statement. He discredited the mediation activities of Charles Michel and cast doubt on the prospects of the European Union's efforts to normalize relations in the region," Azerbaijani political scientist Ilgar Velizade told the newspaper.

Arkady Dubnov, a Russian expert on Central Asia, believes that Macron did not really seek to take a jab at Moscow but rather he wanted to compliment Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "The words that Russia is playing along with Azerbaijan and Turkey are rather an indication of Erdogan’s strength, which he can regard as a compliment," the expert believes.


Vedomosti: US eyes targeting Russian aluminum with sanctions

With the US and its allies running out of options for export sanctions, the Biden administration has begun discussing restrictions on Russian aluminum imports, Vedomosti writes. The move could send global commodity prices skyrocketing, forcing US consumers to seek replacements for Russian metal elsewhere. The key supplier of Russian aluminum, UC Rusal, will be negatively affected by such sanctions, but outright restrictions against the company are not beneficial to anyone, experts say.

Bloomberg reported earlier about discussions in the White House of restrictions against Russian aluminum. Three options are being weighed: a complete ban, raising duties to a barrier level (equivalent to a complete ban), and direct sanctions against UC Rusal. In 2018, the United States already imposed restrictions on UC Rusal, but lifted them after a deal with company founder Oleg Deripaska.

UC Rusal accounts for 95% of Russian aluminum, analyst at Finam Alexey Kalachev noted. But the way the discussed restrictions will affect the market and the company itself depends on the option chosen, he believes. In any case, the decision would spike lead metal prices, Head of investment analytics department at Tinkoff Investments Kirill Komarov added.

A complete ban on imports of Russian aluminum will force UC Rusal to look for other markets, and US importers to look for new suppliers, Kalachev added. Rusal's aluminum is likely to find use in China's domestic market at lower prices, Otkritie’s Irina Prokhorova believes. But quickly reorienting to Asia will not be easy, leading analyst at Veles Capital Vasily Danilov cautioned.

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