Press review: Putin and Xi to hold videoconference and Kiev prepares air raid shelters – Press review

Kommersant: Putin and Xi Jinping to hold detailed videoconference

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a video summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Wednesday. The talks will be the culmination of the diplomatic year for Moscow and Beijing, continuing the rapprochement in response to the West’s containment policy. Each party sees the other as a pillar of support to counter external threats. For Moscow, these threats constitute US-NATO activity in the post-Soviet space and in Europe, while for Beijing, it is anti-China alliances in the Indo-Pacific region. Without entering into a military alliance, Russia and China prefer to act, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, “back to back”.

“From the previous non-binding ‘strategic partnership’ format, Russia and China, under Western pressure, move on to a new stage of cooperation – a de facto military alliance which, however, was not executed in the legal format international, ”he added. from the Center for Political and Military Research of the Institute of American and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Batyuk told the newspaper. According to him, the development of military cooperation between Moscow and Beijing was determined by two key factors: efforts to bring NATO infrastructure to Russia’s western border and the formation of an anti-sanitary cordon. -Chinese along the southern and eastern borders of China.

“In 2021, the parties significantly increased their political, military and economic cooperation. At the same time, tension was mounting in both Eastern Europe and East Asia. And each side conducted its complicated dialogue with the United States separately. In recent months, this dialogue has seemed more fruitful for Russia than for China, ”said Vasily Kashin, who heads the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics. “Meanwhile, Moscow and Beijing constantly suspect the United States of efforts to undermine Russian-Chinese relations and strive to inform each other of their dialogue with the Americans. Despite the long road traveled to strengthen confidence, some doubts about the positions of each in the context of a new confrontation of the great powers will remain for a long time “, explained the expert.

The deputy director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander Lomanov, said that bilateral trade figures which have increased by 34% in the last 11 months, s ‘amounting to 130.4 billion dollars, constitute an encouraging context for the conversation between Russia and the Chinese leaders, stressing however “that it is impossible to note that the volumes of bilateral investment flows remain insufficient, which indicates insufficient mutual trust between the economic elites ”.

“Russian-Chinese relations are built on the finest nuances and reflect the situation around each country,” said Director of the Institute of Asian and African Studies Alexey Maslov. According to him, Russia’s conflicts with the West are much less explosive and are mostly controlled by Russia itself. Thus, according to the expert, not only is China the most important trading partner of Russia but, above all, Russia is the only absolutely reliable partner for China.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Kiev prepares bomb shelters and tests air raid warning system

Next Monday, Kiev will host talks with the leaders of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania. The leaders of the Lublin Triangle countries will meet for the first time to discuss the situation around the threat of a possible “Russian invasion”. Kiev will test its air raid siren system during the visit of Polish President Andrzej Duda and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.

On Monday evening, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitri Kuleba had a first telephone interview with the new German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. According to the Ukrainian side, they discussed the situation along the Ukrainian border with Russia and Belarus as well as the need to resume work in the Norman format.

After the virtual Putin-Biden summit, some experts in Kiev believed that the US president would pressure the Zelensky administration to apply the Minsk accords in the order of their provisions. This would amount to giving a special status to the part of the Donbass which Ukraine does not currently control. However, Kiev claims there was not even a hint on Washington’s part of such requests.

Ukrainian political expert Victor Vovk noted that the current format of the Donbass talks has led to an impasse and proposed to revert to the previous formats of the participants. “The first international format of talks concerning the Russian aggression was that of Budapest (with the participation of the United States and the United Kingdom), then there was the Budapest plus format or that of Geneva (with the participation of the United States and the United Kingdom). United States and United Kingdom as One It was precisely at this point that Poroshenko de facto agreed to significantly reduce the liability of the guarantor states, the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as the EU, the fate of Ukraine. ”Germany and France as mediators in the Norman format could not effectively facilitate the settlement that led to the conflict that lasted more than seven years. believes Zelensky should have reverted to previous formats in 2019 or attempt to do so now.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia will respond to US medium-range missile deployment in Germany

The Russian military will soon conduct a series of exercises on its western border using Iskander operational and tactical missile systems, in addition to organizing other “military and military-technical events” in response to the missile deployment. Americans at medium range in Europe, according to the Russian Defense Ministry and a statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow is worried about the creation of a “so-called artillery command which in the last century managed medium-range Pershing missile systems” in Europe. And, in the near future, Europe and NATO should expect further asymmetric actions from Russia.

According to expert assessments, new effective modern missiles will now appear in Europe instead of the Pershing. According to the American Drive magazine, the new Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) will be deployed in Germany with a range of 310 miles (500 kilometers). It has been noted that the range can be extended to 800 kilometers, which means that the systems can easily hit Moscow or St. Petersburg from the Baltic States or Poland. In addition, there are plans to deploy potential Dark Eagle hypersonic missile systems and Typhoon fleet complexes with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers, meaning the missiles can reach important strategic objects in the center of Russia.

NATO claims these systems will not have nuclear warheads. Ryabkov notes, however, that “there is no confidence in principle in NATO as an alliance”. Russia cannot control the missiles the United States will deploy in Europe and has no guarantee that they will not carry nuclear weapons. In response, Russia could deploy medium-range missiles with nuclear warheads on its western borders and possibly in Belarus.

Military expert, retired Col. Nikolay Elbekchiev told the newspaper that Russia intends to develop new armaments in response to the United States’ decision to withdraw from the INF treaty. “I have no doubt that such weapons already exist in the Russian armed forces.” The expert believes that the next step is the deployment of these complexes in Belarus. “Then, any strategic object of NATO in Europe will be targeted by the Iskanders”, concluded the expert.

Kommersant: green energy fails to curb soaring gas prices in Europe

Gas prices in Europe continued to climb as January futures reached a record high of $ 1,600 per 1,000 cubic meters, breaking October highs. They climbed following a statement by new German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock that Nord Stream 2 cannot yet be launched as the German regulator suspended its certification due to non-compliance with EU energy law . Gazprom could increase its gas deliveries to Europe, but the energy giant is in no rush to do so. Supplies along the main transport axes remain stable while underground storage is still not filled to capacity. A decrease in wind power generation in Europe may also have influenced the price increase.

Sergey Kapitonov, gas industry analyst at the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO Energy Center, notes that an apparent “upward” trend is noted in the European gas market. Gas prices are driven both upward by the strategy of LNG suppliers and Gazprom, and record CO2 prices as well as the political context around Nord Stream 2. In addition, the expert believes that it there is a strong correlation with the energy markets. For example, due to weather conditions, it is not always possible to fully utilize the capabilities of wind power.

Ivan Timonin of Vygon Consulting notes that the current price spike was mainly triggered by the change in expectations regarding the launch of Nord Stream 2. Fitch’s Dmitry Marinchenko predicts that in this context, Moscow will not significantly increase deliveries to Europe and the prospect of a gas deficit in Europe, especially if the winter is cold, seems likely. “The high volatility in the market and high prices are expected to last at least until the end of the heating season,” he noted.

Izvestia: what is behind the record fall of the Russian stock market

Earlier this week, the Russian stock market plunged to record lows in over a year and a half. At the close of trade on December 13, the MOEX index fell 3.77% to 3,613 points, while the RTS index fell nearly 3.98% to 1,548 points. A similar record high was seen last April amid the coronavirus pandemic and global lockdowns, turmoil in currency markets and the record oil price falling to $ 37.6 per barrel. The market also continued to decline on December 14, returning to February 2021 levels.

The head of Finam’s equity analysis department, Igor Dodonov, believes the West’s harsh anti-Russian rhetoric and heightened sanctions risks are currently playing against the Russian market. All this increases the anxiety of Russian and foreign investors. According to Mikhail Zeltser, stock expert at BCS Global, the drop is caused by both geopolitical factors and the spread of the Omicron strain as well as expectations that the US Federal Reserve will scale back its quantitative easing program as well as tightening. monetary policy of world central banks.

Mikhail Vasilyev, chief analyst at Sovcombank, explained that harsh rhetoric about “red lines” between Russia and the West persists, as pressure on Nord Stream 2 intensifies. He pointed out that the market may recover due to the increase in Christmas on Western sites, a decrease in geopolitical tensions, an increase in oil prices in the event of a decrease in Omicron risks or a winter. cold. Vladimir Bragin of Alfa Capital agrees, saying the market can grow if general news is calm. Otherwise, we can expect a drop but not as dramatic as the recent drop.

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Michael P. Boser