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Press review: Israel vows to press on in Gaza and EU cracks down on Russian media

Top stories from the Russian press on Monday, May 27th

MOSCOW, May 27. /TASS/. Israel will continue combat in Gaza despite ruling from top UN court to cease and desist; the European Commission tightens sanctions against the Russian media, sparking concerns over free speech; and Gazprom is sending its LNG tankers to China via a safer route around Africa, bypassing the Suez Canal. These stories topped Monday's newspaper headlines across Russia.


Vedomosti: Israel to press on with war in Gaza despite UN Court ruling

Israel will continue to advance on the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip despite the UN International Court of Justice in The Hague’s ruling to immediately cease combat, Israel's National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi said on May 25. This is the court’s second verdict on South Africa’s suit against the Israeli government since the conflict broke out in the embattled enclave in October 2023.

Israel will not comply with the court’s demands to cease fire and will continue combat with renewed vigor, said Andrey Zeltyn, senior lecturer at the School of Asian Studies at the Higher School of Economics (HSE University), as he believes that the recent discovery of the bodies of several Israeli hostages gives Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu further license to continue the onslaught.

Even though verdicts by the UN International Court of Justice are binding, the international body has no agency to enforce them, Alexey Ispolinov, Doctor of Law and international law expert, noted.

Ispolinov pointed out that currently, there is no international legal precedent for imposing financial penalties for not complying with an injunction of this kind. According to the UN Charter, theoretically, a plaintiff may turn to the UN Security Council if a defendant does not comply with the court’s ruling.

"This happened only once - in 1950, when Iran refused to comply with an injunction on the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. However, the court refrained from assigning financial responsibility for not complying with the injunctive measures it assigned. But this does not mean that this cannot happen. It is just that such a decision takes time," the expert concluded.


Izvestia: EU’s crackdown on Russian media 'medieval', violates freedom of speech

The EU’s new sanctions against Russian news outlets impose a sweeping ban on disseminating all types of content coming from Russia, the European Commission told Izvestia. Thus, the restrictions will affect not only TV channels but also websites. However, the agency specified that Russian journalists are not banned from working in the EU. Nevertheless, the definitions are so vague that separate countries may interpret these rules in their own way. Experts think that Europe is once again trying to cleanse the information space in a demonstrative show to allies and its own residents that it will continue to clamp down on Moscow.

"These measures aim to stop any flow of information which contradicts the 'party line' of the EU leadership and its member states. Of course, this is their way of cleaning up the information space," Latvian journalist Yury Alekseyev told Izvestia. "This is the way it is there: listen and read what is being offered. No deviations allowed. Freedom of speech? Well, not to the extent of allowing [people] to read Russian sites and watch their TV channels," he explained.

"This is total dictatorship, an infringement on freedom of speech and information in general. This is completely medieval. They are shooting themselves in the foot with decisions like this, destroying the foundations of the European Union," Mikis Filaniotis of Cyprus, a member of the Coordinating Council of the International Movement of Russophiles, added.

Member of the European Parliament Herve Juvin, however, asserted that people will still be able to access information if they want to. That said, these kinds of moves only serve to worsen relations with Russia and postpone the prospects of settling the Ukrainian conflict.

According to him, the EU’s main goal with decisions like this is to show the US and the general population that they are ready to continue fighting Russia. For Brussels and the West as a whole this is particularly important against the backdrop of Ukraine’s failures on the battlefield and the lack of impact of anti-Russian sanctions.


Vedomosti: Gazprom’s LNG tankers taking longer, safer route to China

Tankers carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Gazprom’s complex at the Portovaya compressor station (CS) in the Leningrad Region have begun bypassing the dangerous Suez Canal and Red Sea when delivering to China, taking a safer route along Africa’s western coast and the Cape of Good Hope, according to information by commodities data and analytics firm Kpler and the MarineTraffic tracking system.

The delivery route to China around Africa is 1.5 times longer than via the Red Sea and takes 45 days one way, noted Kpler’s Viktor Katona. He explained that Gazprom has opted for this longer route to lower the risk of losing the tankers, which are already in short supply on the market.

Experts polled by Izvestia think that taking this longer route to deliver LNG to Asia is justified. Finam analyst Sergey Kaufman noted that since mid-January 2024 "absolutely all" gas tankers have been avoiding the route via the Suez Canal and Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea, using the longer route along the Cape of Good Hope. He explained that the cost of gas tankers amid their shortage worldwide makes taking any risks with them imprudent. Ronald Smith, senior analyst at BCS World of Investments, concurred.

General transportation costs for LNG deliveries to China from the Leningrad Region currently do not surpass 35% of the export price, said Kirill Rodionov, an expert in the oil and gas sphere.


Kommersant: Georgia wants to join EU together with Abkhazia, South Ossetia

On May 26, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze announced: "The Georgian dream is to live in a united and strong Georgia together with our Abkhazian and Ossetian brothers and sisters by 2030." Oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is considered to be the republic’s main leader, also supports this unification. It is impossible to get this done without Russia’s participation. And even though Moscow has given no indication that it is interested in negotiating with Tbilisi on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the idea of a possible deal is gaining steam.

Meanwhile, in Abkhazia, the issue of a possible confederation with Georgia became so prominent that the local leadership had to comment on it. "Taking a look at the landscape in Georgia, many experts now believe that Russia allegedly wants to create a Georgia-Abkhazia confederation. This speculation is out there. Of course, we must take various scenarios of the situation developing into account even though we do not consider this plausible," said Abkhaz Security Council Secretary Sergey Shamba on May 23.

Abkhaz political scientist Inal Khashig noted that Shamba did not give an unequivocal "no" to the confederation, which is disquieting. In his opinion, Moscow views the approval of Georgia’s foreign agents bill as a message from the Georgian government that it is ready to conduct independent policy.

Sergey Markedonov, leading researcher at the Center for Euro-Atlantic Security at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), told Kommersant that Georgia’s territorial integrity has been the official policy track of the Georgian Dream political party all along.

That said, regardless of the geopolitical situation and plans, the situation does not negate Tbilisi’s need to talk with the Abkhazian and South Ossetian sides. "Geopolitics does not nullify ethnopolitics," the expert concluded.


Izvestia: Gold, gas deposits to be developed in Donbass

The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) is not seen as just a coal-producing region. Additional research into its deposits may be launched within the framework of a state-run program as early as 2025.

Vladimir Labyntsev, head of the DPR’s General Directorate for Geology and Geoecology, told Izvestia that after 1991, geological explorations in Ukraine were halted, except for hydrocarbons. In Donetsk, since 2014 and to this day, under combat conditions, there has been no targeted financing for any work in this direction. However, today there is talk of implementing major projects on gold, gas and rare earth metals.

"As for the DPR, there we think that the gold-containing zone in the Shakhtersky District, the Mikhaylovskoye ore deposit, is the most promising one," said Igor Pavlov, head of the geological exploration department of the republic’s Geology Directorate.

According to the specialist, compared to Siberia or the Far East, Donbass has advantageous mining conditions, such as its convenient geographic location, mild climate, established logistics, available staff as well as developed infrastructure.

Another project on the DPR’s agenda is the development of the shelf in the Sea of Azov. Labyntsev told Izvestia that this area is considered very appealing. According to him, 22 prospective hydrocarbon structures have already been detected in the area with a survey scheduled for 2025-2026.

The Shevchenkovskoye lithium deposit in the west DPR is also of importance with another, smaller one, located closer to Mariupol. As Alexander Anoprienko, dean of Donetsk National Technical University, told Izvestia, this metal is the fuel of the present and future.

"Lithium is the key element in producing batteries for mobile devices, laptops or electric cars. That said, the scale of its demand has already significantly surpassed the scale of its production, while its price is constantly growing," he noted.

"That said, it is also necessary to remember that coal isn’t dead yet and its production will only grow," the expert added.

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