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Press review: Day against Nuclear Tests highlights need for pact and Kiev’s EU chances dim

Top stories from the Russian press on Tuesday, August 29th
Detonation of the first atomic bomb at the Alamogordo test site, USA, July 16, 1945 United States Department of Energy/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
Detonation of the first atomic bomb at the Alamogordo test site, USA, July 16, 1945
© United States Department of Energy/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

MOSCOW, August 29. /TASS/. World observes International Day against Nuclear Tests without nuclear-test-ban treaty in effect; Ukraine is unlikely to join the European Union by 2030; and Business 20 group discusses how to keep global trade going amid crisis. These stories topped Tuesday’s newspaper headlines across Russia.


RBC: Is risk of new nuclear tests real?

The International Day against Nuclear Tests is observed on August 29. A treaty banning nuclear tests was adopted 27 years ago but has not taken effect yet, RBC writes.

The first test of atomic bombs, created by the US, took place on July 16, 1945. The following month, in August 1945, the US military dropped two nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. According to UN estimates, since then over 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted across the world. Most such tests took place in the US (1,032) and the Soviet Union (715), which are followed by France (210), the UK (45) and China (45). These countries are considered the official "Nuclear Five" as they carried out their first nuclear explosions before 1968, when the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was adopted and opened for signing. Apart from the "Nuclear Five," however, India, Pakistan and North Korea have also conducted nuclear tests, all since 1968.

In 1996, the UN General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was supposed to completely preclude any possibility of conducting nuclear tests. The document lists 44 nations that had nuclear capabilities and equipment at the time the treaty was discussed. Without their ratification, however, it cannot take effect. However, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the US have so far failed to either sign or ratify the document.

When asked by RBC as to when Moscow would be ready to resume nuclear tests, a Foreign Ministry official stated: "In a situation where Western countries keep raising international tensions, it is necessary to refrain from taking provocative steps and speculating about the prospects of Russia resuming nuclear tests." According to the ministry, Moscow has been committed to its unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests, and ratified the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty back in 2000. As for the possibility of Russia withdrawing its ratification, the official said that the option "is not under consideration at the moment."

The United States is not the only country that has not ratified the CTBT; there are seven other nations, including China, also a nuclear power, that have not ratified it. This is why the treaty has not taken effect yet. So why is Moscow blaming it on the US? The reason is that only Washington has officially stated that it would not ratify the CTBT, said Dmitry Stefanovich, a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations. According to him, even if the US ratified the treaty, it does not mean that other "nuclear and threshold countries" will follow suit and the treaty will eventually enter into force. Stefanovich pointed out that China could ratify the document to create additional pressure "but Beijing is hardly ready to take the first step."


Vedomosti: Ukraine unlikely to join EU by 2030

The European Union should be ready to accept new members by 2030, European Commission President Charles Michel said at the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia. EU leaders will discuss the potential memberships of Ukraine and Moldova at their upcoming summit, Vedomosti writes.

Eight countries currently have EU candidate status, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. The Balkan countries are the most likely to join the EU, said Vladislav Belov, head of the Center of Country Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe.

According to the expert, no more than two countries will become EU members by 2030. Meanwhile, the latest expansion will only serve to weaken the European Union. The expert believes that the reasonable expansion limit was reached already in 2004, when the three Baltic states and several other eastern European countries joined the EU. "Later, EU bureaucrats had to face issues in forming a common budget policy. There are also problems with agreeing upon agricultural and industrial policies," the expert noted. "There is hard work to be done in the next six years to improve the EU’s internal mechanisms. I doubt that the structural issues will be resolved by then," the analyst pointed out.

Ukraine is unlikely to join the EU in the medium term, Belov said. "Ukrainian refugees are a serious burden for the European economy as, according to minimal estimates, their number stands at about 5-6 million. As for Ukraine, it has launched a process of state transformation, which could take decades. At this point, special political and economic relationships with the EU are the most that Kiev can expect," the expert concluded.


Kommersant: Business 20 group discussing ways to keep global trade going

The Business 20 (B20) group - a platform where international businesses draft proposals for Group of 20 (G20) summit meetings - has held a meeting in New Delhi and issued recommendations for ensuring the sustainability of global supply chains. The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), which coordinates domestic companies’ activities in the group, believes that the meeting’s key achievement is the statement affirming the need to foster international cooperation to resolve common issues, Kommersant writes.

Representatives of about 30 Russian companies took part in the B20 meeting. A list of proposals was released following the event, which in particular concern development financing, digital transformation, the future of employment and the climate agenda.

Discussions on the creation of sustainable supply chains proved the most relevant for Russian companies as they addressed not only anti-crisis measures to be taken in case of new shocks, but also ways to reduce trade barriers. According to the 2021 data from the World Trade Organization (WTO), 10.4% of global trade was affected by restrictions, and the recent flurry of Western sanctions has likely only served to increase that figure since then.

Sergey Mikhnevich, RSPP managing director for international cooperation and integration, noted that the recognition by international businesses of the need for cooperation in resolving common issues and ensuring the sustainability of supply chains is particularly valuable at this point. According to him, the B20’s work has once again made it clear that businesses have a rational vision of the international situation and it is important for them to minimize trade restrictions and bans.

One of the key proposals put forward by Russia was aimed at boosting global coordination to ease the consequences of crises and ensure global economic stability, Mikhnevich said. This can be done in particular through resolving the issue of trade restrictions and ensuring unhindered trade flows for critical goods with a focus on ensuring food security.


Izvestia: What Poland, Baltic states want from Belarus

Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are demanding that Belarus expel fighters of the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) and remove illegal migrants from its border areas. This is the outcome of a meeting where the four nations’ interior ministers discussed the common principles for closing borders with Belarus. Minsk has slammed such actions as overtly provocative and reiterated its readiness to pursue a policy of good-neighborliness, Izvestia writes.

An agreement for relocating some of Wagner’s fighters to Belarus, which was reached earlier by the presidents of Russia and Belarus, was a cause for irritation in Warsaw. In early August, Poland announced the deployment of additional troops to the Belarusian border. However, the Wagner group hardly poses any threat to Poland, given its current make-up in Belarus, said Andrey Suzdaltsev, deputy head of the Department of World Economy and International Affairs at the Higher School of Economics (HSE University).

"It’s hard to imagine Wagner fighters launching an offensive against Poland because they moved to Belarus without any military equipment or armored vehicles; they have small arms at best. They pose no threat to Poland. However, Polish and Lithuanian politicians are not hesitating to use the very fact that Wagner is now present in Belarus to their benefit," the political scientist noted.

The ruling regime in Poland is deliberately fueling fears ahead of the October 15 parliamentary election, Belarusian political scientist Alexey Dzermant pointed out. He views the United States as the beneficiary of a closure of the borders. "The Americans are using the Baltic states and Poland [as pawns] in their geopolitical games: relatively speaking, they want to make sure that neither Russia nor China nor Germany controls transit flows on the continent. It remains to be seen if they succeed because it is quite a serious step and Warsaw may face pressure from China," the expert said.

All in all, developments such as a border shutdown will damage the economies of all parties, including Poland, which earns a lot of money on the transit of goods through its territory, the analyst concluded.


Vedomosti: Russia needs to develop climate projects to boost exports to Asia

Russia’s State Commission on Mineral Reserves has pointed to the country’s huge potential for carbon dioxide storage, which could allow Moscow not only to dispose of its own CO2 emissions but also use its resources for commercial purposes, particularly in relations with its Asian partners, Vedomosti writes, citing commission head Igor Shpurov. Experts believe that in order to boost cooperation with Asian countries, Russia needs to develop climate projects.

Russia significantly stepped up its efforts to create climate regulations after the European Commission presented the EU Green Deal in July 2021. The document provides for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, particularly by introducing a border carbon tax on the import of carbon-intensive goods. However, after Moscow launched its special military operation in Ukraine, the EU banned the import of steel, pipes, fertilizers and cement from Russia, while Finland and the Baltic states halted Russian energy imports. With access to the European market partially lost, Russian companies began redirecting the export of their goods, including carbon-intensive ones, to the East.

Meanwhile, the majority of Asian countries also set long-term goals to reduce their carbon footprints, which involve increased environmental requirements, namely for imported goods, Kirill Yemelyanov, senior consultant at Vygon Consulting, explained. Russian exports will face "global competition," which is why every exporter company should seek to reduce its carbon footprint.

China and India are also likely to introduce a border carbon tax but it will depend on assessments of its economic effect in the EU, said Vladimir Lukin, partner at the Group for Operational Risks and Sustainable Development at Kept (formerly KPMG in Russia). Russia could reduce emissions by using energy-efficient technologies in production and improving waste management among other things, Lukin noted. This would require boosting cooperation with Chinese companies that have vast experience in terms of carbon capture and utilization (CCUS) projects, Yemelyanov added.

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