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Press review: Bahrain turns to Russia for Gaza settlement and Moscow answers US asset grab

Top stories from the Russian press on Friday, May 24th
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Russian President Vladimir Putin Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Russian President Vladimir Putin
© Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS

MOSCOW, May 24. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin sits down with the King of Bahrain to talk peace in the Middle East; Moscow hits back at US for seizing Russian assets; and Kiev trying to finagle NATO into direct fight with Russia. These stories topped Friday's newspaper headlines across Russia.


Izvestia: King of Bahrain seeks Russian mediation in Palestinian issue

The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to help organize a peace conference to address the Palestinian-Israeli issue. Russia will be the first country invited to the discussion, he said during a visit to the Russian capital on May 23. The distinguished guest stressed that in a rare show of unity, the Arab community has come together in advocating for an end to the war in Gaza, Izvestia writes. Putin, in turn, underscored that Russia and Bahrain have similar views on a number of international issues.

Experts say that finding a solution to the Palestinian problem was the main topic of discussion during the closed part of the meeting. According to Igor Matveev, associate professor at the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia at MGIMO University, Moscow has been entrusted to help resolve this long-standing conflict because Russia has previously shown its mettle in mediating similar crises.

"Today, Arab countries, particularly Bahrain, are increasingly interested in talking to Russia. Especially on the Palestinian issue. The Gaza conflict is clear evidence of the complete failure of US diplomatic efforts to normalize relations between the Arab world and Israel, i.e. Middle East reconciliation based on a one-state formula (Israel) on an economic basis. In layman’s terms, through money. This did not work," the expert told Izvestia.

Meanwhile, both the Russian Federation and Bahrain's positions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict center around what Vladimir Putin previously called the "UN formula." That is, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, according to Middle East expert and founder of the Arabic language school Arabia Artem Tkachev.

The king's visit to Russia is particularly noteworthy because it shows that despite close ties with the West, the move towards a multipolar world is inevitable. According to Igor Matveev, a visit of this magnitude to Moscow is not just about a pragmatic desire to develop economic cooperation, but rather a serious attempt at political dialogue in the face of pressure.

"Against the backdrop of the West's attempts to put pressure on the global South to get the countries of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia to participate in the so-called peace conference in Switzerland on Ukraine, the Arab world is showing reluctance to take part in this meaningless meeting, at which the leader of the Kiev regime will once again become hysterical and complain about Russia, while at the same time demanding that everyone give him financial support and cut ties with Moscow," Farhad Ibragimov, professor at the Faculty of Economics of the People's Friendship University of Russia, told Izvestia.


Vedomosti: Moscow responds to US law on confiscating Russian assets

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a decree setting a legal framework for seizing the assets of any persons linked with the United States to compensate for damage caused by the United States to Russia or its Central Bank. The order states that in the case of an unreasonable deprivation of Russia's or the Central Bank's property rights by a decision of a US government or judicial body, the Russian government and the Central Bank have the right to seek compensation in court.

According to the decree, the claim must include an estimate of the damages. The court then evaluates the legitimacy of the claim and requests from the government's Commission on Control over Foreign Investments a list of property of the United States and related foreign persons that may be used to compensate for the damage. Both citizens and residents of the United States may be subject to the decree, anyone engaged in business activities or who makes money there, and even persons controlled by them, regardless of where they reside, the document said.

The decree should be seen as a response to the US law on the confiscation of Russian state assets passed in April, senior partner at the Pen & Paper law firm Anton Namenov told Vedomosti. This law was the first regulatory act providing for the confiscation and sale of Russian assets.

The United States itself as a country has practically no assets in Russia, except for the embassy, but it is protected by diplomatic immunity, according to Ilya Rachkov, a partner at the NSP law firm. Therefore, assets in Russia owned directly or indirectly by US citizens and legal entities are now at risk. This may even apply to legal entities whose ultimate beneficiaries are US citizens and legal entities, he added.

This is not the first case in history of a country responding to the seizure of state assets by confiscating private property. In Iran, after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the property of US citizens and legal entities was seized in response to the freezing of Iranian assets in the United States, Rachkov noted.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Kiev attempts to drag NATO into direct conflict with Moscow

Warsaw is discussing the legal and practical risks associated with implementing the demands of Kiev's leaders to begin shooting down Russian missiles in the skies over Ukraine. According to Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Pawel Wronski, no decision has been made so far. Kiev's demands would mean dragging NATO countries into a direct military clash with Moscow, exactly what Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky wants, Russian analysts told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Earlier, at a joint press conference in Kiev with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba once again called on Western allies to shoot down Russian missiles over Ukrainian territory. Earlier, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in a telephone conversation with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk stressed the importance of jointly protecting gas infrastructure in western Ukraine against Russian attacks.

It is obvious that in recent weeks the Ukrainian president, and the Kiev leadership as a whole, has been deliberately dragging partners from NATO countries into a direct military clash with Russia, provoking World War III, Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Dmitry Suslov, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Zelensky likely believes that this is the only way to avoid Ukraine's defeat and save himself. Zelensky is becoming desperate amid the possible victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election in November, after which Washington would stop sending military aid to Kiev.

In this regard, Suslov continued, the Ukrainian leadership in recent weeks has been trying to accomplish three tasks: to encourage Western partners to start shooting down missiles over Ukraine (which would mean the creation of a no-fly zone), to obtain permission to use Western weapons, including long-range ones, for attacks on Russian territory, and also to secure agreement to send regular troops to Ukraine.


Vedomosti: China begins major military exercises close to Taiwan

On the morning of May 23, the Chinese military began large-scale exercises around Taiwan, according to the Chinese Ministry of Defense. The Joint Sword 2024A exercise will run through May 24 and will involve infantry, air force, naval and missile forces. According to experts interviewed by Vedomosti, the situation could turn into the start of a war at any moment.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that the exercise is being carried out to protect China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, to send a signal to the separatist forces and a warning to external forces.

Vasily Kashin, Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics, believes that China is showing what it thinks about Taiwan's current political situation. It is not impossible that a battle over Taiwan will break out at any time, such exercises may serve as the catalyst, he told Vedomosti. However, based on available information, this looks more like a political warning. According to the analyst, the drills are similar in scale to those that Beijing typically conducts in the area.

The United States, in turn, is calculating the risks of a potential conflict, which is why it is working to develop unofficial military cooperation with Taiwan, Senior researcher at the Department of Military-Political Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of the US and Canada Alexey Stepanov said. He noted that the delay in arms deliveries is one of the most pressing issues for Washington in ensuring Taiwan's fighting capacity.


Izvestia: Russia sets sights on new export frontiers in Africa, Asia, Latin America

Moscow plans to create transport and logistics centers, industrial parks and other infrastructure in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America to redirect its non-resource, non-energy exports to new markets, Izvestia writes. The government intends to extend the national project "International Cooperation and Export" until 2030.

Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade told the newspaper that the new version of the project includes plans to redirect non-resource, non-energy exports to new friendly markets. While its current version talked about increasing the volume of trade with the EAEU, now the ministry is looking at countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America as promising areas.

According to Izvestia, the budget for the program is yet to be determined, but funding for the project will continue to come from the state treasury. The authorities plan to increase non-resource, non-energy exports to $248.1 bln by 2030, including $192.9 bln for industrial products and $55.2 bln for agricultural products.

The development of logistics is a strategic direction of cooperation with foreign partners, the Russian Export Center told Izvestia, noting that the success of the projects will directly depend on transportation support. "Our global goal is to export more high-value-added products, that is, finished goods, abroad," the Russian Export Center said.

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