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Press review: Who attacked Iran’s military facility and Czechs pick pro-Kiev president

Top stories from the Russian press on Monday, January 30th

MOSCOW, January 30. /TASS/. An anonymous attack strikes Iran’s military facilities, no substantial reasons for talks with Ukraine exist and the Czech Republic picks a pro-Kiev president. These stories topped Monday’s newspaper headlines across Russia.


Vedomosti: Anonymous strike hits Iran’s military facilities

Several Iranian military facilities were attacked overnight on January 29. Arab media outlets claimed that Israel had launched a "special military operation" against Tehran in order to crush its defense industry. That said, one of the facilities was most likely damaged by an earthquake while there is no evidence of successful hits on the others. The Iranian leadership is in no rush to blame Tel Aviv, while Israel is not commenting on these events.

Israel’s involvement in the incidents cannot be ruled out but it is still early to assert it, says Chief Researcher at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations Andrey Kazantsev. An attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would have been a more definite indication of Tel Aviv’s hand. As for the events in the early hours of January 29, the list of suspects can be rather long because Iran’s relations with its Arab neighbors are not particularly stellar. According to the expert, the responsibility may lie with the groups opposing the current government in Iran itself or with Saudi Arabia which is capable of organizing a drone attack on Iran’s military facilities and then shifting the blame to Israel. As for the US, like Israel, it strongly believes that Iran should not have any nuclear weapons. According to him, this is why US involvement would have been more likely, had Iran’s nuclear facilities been attacked.

Rumors aside, at the end of the day, this is a confirmed attempt of sabotage using drones against some buildings of the Iranian Defense Ministry in Isfahan, says military expert Yury Lyamin, reiterating that such attacks had occurred before. For example, in May 2022, drones attacked an Iranian military research center in Parchin near Tehran with the Iranian side reporting one employee killed. In 2021, there was a drone attack on a plant producing components for uranium-enrichment centrifuges in Karaj, the expert added. A fire at an engine oil factory that broke out on the night of January 29 occurred at the same time as a 5.9-magnitude earthquake hit. There was no information as to what triggered the blaze but it is possible that it was related to the earthquake, the expert thinks.


Izvestia: No significant conditions for talks on Ukraine, says senior diplomat

Currently, there are no conditions for negotiations on a settlement in Ukraine because diplomacy requires a political will which the Kiev regime and its sponsors lack, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper published on Monday.

The senior diplomat reiterated that earlier, Kiev sabotaged the implementation of the Minsk Accords amid "persistent excuses" for its actions by the West and then rejected the negotiations format with Russia following the Istanbul meeting. He also pointed out that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky had signed a decree forbidding any talks with the Russian leadership.

"So, currently, there are indeed no substantial conditions, because, as it is known, diplomacy is powerless without a political will. And right now, neither Kiev, moreover, nor its Western sponsors who are resolving their own tasks on containing Russia at the expense of Ukrainian blood, have it," Vershinin asserted.

With regards to the intentions of Ukraine and its Western handlers to create some sort of an international tribunal over Russia, the diplomat said: "We are closely monitoring these pseudo-legal initiatives. For a rather long time already they have been voiced at the venues of the EU and the Council of Europe. The Kiev regime and some of its closest allies are also trying to launch a campaign on this matter at the UN." "The initiatives circulating around this subject above all should be viewed as a propaganda element and attempts of psychological pressure without which a hybrid war against Russia launched by the West cannot continue. It is possible that under the current conditions, the creativity of Kiev and its ‘masters’ can become some kind of a show, possibly labeled as a ‘tribunal.’ Yet it will have nothing to do with justice," he concluded.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Czechs pick pro-Ukrainian presidential contender

The Czech Republic has a new president, Petr Pavel, who won with record results. Over 58% of voters supported him, which is unprecedented in the country’s history. This clear choice in favor of a pro-Ukrainian politician won’t radically change the republic’s already anti-Russian course but will make it more pronounced. It is possible that by way of rhetoric and its actions, the Czech leadership will join the Baltic countries and Poland, who are Russia’s diehard adversaries.

Thus, the Czech Republic’s leadership will now consist of pro-Ukrainian politicians whose support is unlikely to be doubted by Kiev. Pavel himself supports Ukraine joining the European Union, however, after it manages to solve a number of issues, above all, its high level of corruption.

However, Head of the Department of Social and Political Research at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Schweitzer told the newspaper that it would have been strange to expect any other election outcome that would favor Russia, even before February 24, 2022. "They treat us in a certain way in the Czech Republic for one simple reason: the year 1968. The suppression of the Prague Spring is something the Czechs cannot forget and forgive. And this factor is more important than whatever NATO office some politician had held," the expert thinks.


Vedomosti: China’s highest ranking diplomat to visit Moscow

At the end of February, Wang Yi, Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will pay an official visit to Moscow, two sources close to Russia’s presidential administration told Vedomosti. According to one of them, during the visit, the diplomat may meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Another source specified that the visit’s program is being planned with the participation of the Security Council.

"Wang Yi has climbed another rung on the career ladder and is involved in developing foreign policy and key solutions within the CCP’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission. This is officially a level above the Foreign Ministry. Now the number one requirement to Chinese diplomats which was first formulated in 2018 is to implement the decisions of the party’s Central Committee," says Head of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations Alexander Lomanov. In his opinion, given the scale of Wang’s office, it is not some technical issues before Xi’s visit that will be discussed in Russia in February but very important strategic conceptual matters.

Wang’s Russia tour is quite possible within the framework of Xi’s likely visit in spring, says Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics Vasily Kashin. However, the expert allows for a possibility that this visit has another reason.

"If it was decided to postpone a meeting between the countries’ leaders, then Wang Yi may discuss the issues of political coordination. I should reiterate that we have a mechanism of annual meetings between the Russian Security Council secretary and the secretary of China’s Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission. Previously, it was Nikolay Patrushev and Yang Jiechi who met every year. Usually, if the meeting was in Moscow, Yang met with Putin, and in Beijing, Xi [met] with Patrushev. Yet now the fact that the previous meeting between Patrushev and Yang was held in September speaks against this version. So, even though Wang replaced Yang, there is no need to hold these regular consultations so often," the expert thinks.

He concludes that it is highly possible that the diplomat’s visit is related to preparations for a visit by the Chinese leader or with coordinating political positions on some important and urgent problem, possibly, on the eve of some serious events.

That said, as Politico wrote citing its sources on February 17-18, Wang is planning to participate in the Munich Security Conference (where Russia won’t be represented) and then will visit EU headquarters in Brussels. The news outlet noted that China intended to restore warmer relations with Europe through diplomatic interaction.


Izvestia: Why do BRICS members need a single currency?

BRICS is not likely to gain independence from the dollar anytime soon by creating a common currency, experts polled by Izvestia said pointing to the absence of a single concept of rejecting the greenback in trade. Last week, Argentina and Brazil launched the development of Sur, common currency, which sparked a discussion on the necessity of creating a shared currency for BRICS members.

According to Joao Feres Junior of the Institute of Social and Political Studies of the State University of Rio de Janeiro, this is not about creating a common currency but rather about an agreement that would let its participants trade without using the dollar, that is, to avoid converting local currency to the greenback while conducting payments with another country.

President of Latin American CRIES analytical center (Buenos Aires) Andres Serbin thinks that the idea of creating a shared currency for the Eurasian region within the framework of the SCO is more advanced. He thinks that developing this idea within BRICS is more difficult because its members would be slow to advance in this direction due to the existing asymmetry between the economies of current members and because of Argentina and Iran potentially joining the group.

"China, like other BRICS members, supports greater independence of its financial policy from the dollar. However, a single currency won’t be created soon and, most likely, it will go along the path of forming the basket of currencies with the yuan’s predominance. Is China ready to bear the burden of a moderator of international financial processes? Will the yuan remain governed by Chinese state bodies? And will BRICS unity be achieved on the issue as to whose currency is the supporting one? Talks on these issues will be difficult," stressed Senior Research Fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of China and Contemporary Asia Yelena Safronova.

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