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Press review: Russia unveils Kiev’s 'dirty' nuke aims and Rishi Sunak to become new UK PM

Top stories from the Russian press on Tuesday, October 25th

Izvestia: Ukraine about to create ‘dirty’ nuclear bomb

The Kiev regime is completing the creation of a "dirty" bomb, or a low-yield nuclear weapon, Chief of Russia’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Troops Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov said. According to him, the Russian Defense Ministry has information that Ukraine is planning to carry out a false flag operation involving the use of this kind of weapon. Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov discussed the situation with his counterparts from the United States and the United Kingdom. A "dirty" bomb explosion may be blamed on Russia, which would further escalate the conflict, Izvestia writes.

Former United Nations Under-Secretary General Sergey Ordzhonikidze believes that the Kiev regime’s plan to use a "dirty" bomb has several objectives. "The first goal is to terminate our operation," the expert stressed. "They think that it is unlikely to go on in the region amid radioactive contamination. The second goal is to make everyone blame Russia for using a nuclear bomb, yet behind such accusations may be anything. Retired US generals said that if Russia used nuclear weapons, they [the US] would probably get engaged in the conflict," Ordzhonikidze pointed out.

It’s very hard to make forecasts unless you have information about the capacity of the weapon and the substance it is charged with, expert on nuclear, biological and chemical security Oleg Zheltonozhko noted.

"The degree of contamination depends on the power of the explosion and the substances that it involves. There were reports that they [the Ukrainians] have unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with devices for spraying chemical substances. Those can be filled with a radioactive solution to contaminate some area. Another option is to pour radioactive components into a river, thereby contaminating the drinking water downstream. Everything depends on the ingenuity of those who use these tools. There can be no physical or other limits, only moral ones," the expert emphasized.


Media: Rishi Sunak becomes new British Prime Minister

Former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has become the leader of the UK’s Conservative Party and is now set to take the reins as the country’s prime minister. The level of his popular support is rather high. According to a recent YouGov poll, 43% of respondents are confident that Sunak will do a good job as prime minister, Vedomosti notes.

Rishi Sunak is popular among members of the party’s parliamentary faction, said Sergey Shein, a researcher with the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at Higher School of Economics. Now Sunak will have to tackle an energy crisis and geopolitical turbulence simultaneously, which his political survival will depend on, the expert noted. He is well known for his competence in economic affairs, which sets him apart from former Prime Minister Liz Truss whose proposals turned out to be a thorough failure.

Sunak should be expected to adopt a more balanced approach, Shein stressed. He has good chances of restoring the Conservatives’ reputation as an economically competent party, the expert stressed. In his view, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson predictably faced a lack of support among MPs and had to withdraw from the race. Johnson will now take a wait-and-see position until Sunak slips up, Shein concluded.

"He is unlikely to lead the country out of the crisis but judging from Liz Truss’s experience, you can either contribute to a crisis or try to soften its impact," Head of the British Studies Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe Yelena Ananyeva told Izvestia. "Sunak’s program is aimed at limiting government spending, so the United Kingdom is in for tough austerity measures," she added. As for the elections that are scheduled before the end of 2024, Britons are currently more inclined to support the Labor Party, Ananyeva pointed out.


Kommersant: New Serbian government to decide on sanctions against Russia

Serbia has a new government that will have to decide whether the country will impose sanctions on Moscow. Socialist Party leader Ivica Dacic, who is considered to be a pro-Russian politician, will be a key figure in the cabinet as he takes the position of first deputy prime minister. Experts describe the cabinet as pro-Russian but they don’t view the fact as a guarantee of Serbia’s refusal to join European sanctions against Moscow, Kommersant writes.

The West cranked up pressure on Belgrade before the formation of the government so the new cabinet was expected to make it at least indirectly clear if Belgrade was going to introduce sanctions.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic decided on a new prime minister in August, nominating incumbent head of the government Ana Brnabic who completely follows the president’s lead. That said, Socialist Party leader Ivica Dacic, who will take the positions of first deputy prime minister and foreign minister and will also coordinate the work of all of the country’s intelligence agencies, is set to become a key member of the government. A thing to note is that Dacic is believed to be one of Serbia’s leading pro-Russian politicians. Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, another official considered close to Moscow, will lead Serbia’s main security service, the Security Intelligence Agency (BIA), while Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic, who makes no secret of her pro-Western orientation, has lost her positions.

Regional experts describe the new Serbian government as "pro-Russian." "The government will have a pro-Russian orientation. Everyone says that Dacic is ‘Moscow’s player,’ while Vulin’s transfer to the BIA means that Russian intel agencies, ironically speaking, will always have fresh information on Serbia," Croatian expert Vlado Vurusic noted. As for the introduction of sanctions on Russia, it will continue to depend solely on Vucic who will only use the government to shield himself.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Iran turns into Russia’s industrial donor

Iran is becoming an industrial donor for Russia as Tehran is partially replacing unfriendly countries in terms of technological imports. Whereas Moscow and Tehran have been reluctant to confirm cooperation on unmanned aerial vehicles, they make no secret of Iranian gas turbine supplies to Russia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

"We have domestic turbine production at several facilities but Russia is making preparations for the construction of several major gas pipelines at once, to China and Turkey, and domestically made turbines may simply not be enough. This is why we resort to Iran’s help because in this particular case, it is about turbines for pumping gas through pipelines," Chairman of the Board at the 2K engineering company Ivan Andriyevsky explained.

"We have always used imported equipment for major projects, including that made by the Siemens company. So in this case, it is about replacing unfriendly imports with friendly ones. The share of imported devices has always been high in this field, especially as far as spare parts are concerned, namely turbine blades and bearings. What is important in terms of Iranian equipment is that it’s about the import of both turbines and their spare parts, and also maintenance services," the expert specified.

"There are a lot of turbine types, which are used in planes, at hydroelectric power stations, and in motor vehicles. Even turbines designed for gas pumping are different, especially if it’s noble gas. So it’s absurd to say that Russia will substitute the import of all kinds of these devices," Vice President of the Opora Russia NGO Nikolay Dunayev pointed out. According to him, in this situation, the Iranians have spare capacities to produce the equipment that Russia needs and they also have offered reasonable prices.


Kommersant: European gas prices to rise again after current decline

Europe’s gas prices have been declining for the fourth week in a row. The unusually warm weather is delaying gas offtakes from underground storage facilities, where gas stocks have reached the 94% level. However, analysts believe that Europe’s LNG supply may drop as Asian traders restart to purchase fuel for their own markets, while the factor of colder weather has already been included in gas prices based on longer-term contracts, Kommersant notes.

Gas prices are always hard to predict due to the weather factor because "at the moment, it is facilitating a decline in prices, while the price level is too high to ensure stable demand from energy-intensive industry," independent analyst Alexander Sobko pointed out.

In addition, Europe continues to receive large LNG batches. Meanwhile, Asian buyers have also started getting ready for the winter as they plan to purchase additional amounts of LNG in the coming months. Asian importers, who also act as traders, should be expected to take gas home, Sobko noted. When there is low demand for heating purposes, some gas volumes are resold but "they will be needed at home" during the heating season, he specified.

According to Ivan Timonin from Vygon Consulting, a rise in demand due to the cold snap may bring prices back to previous levels, which is confirmed by forward pricing curves with prices in December contracts for gas supplies to the European market estimated at nearly $1,500 for 1,000 cubic meters. Given future weather changes and growing demand, gas prices on the European market are highly likely to remain above $2,000 per 1,000 cubic meters, spiking even higher on some days.

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