Category: Press Review

Press review: EU’s Kerch Strait standoff sanctions and UK’s creeping Arctic advance

Press review: EU’s Kerch Strait standoff sanctions and UK’s creeping Arctic advance

Kommersant: EU to expand blacklist of Russians Nearly three months after the Kerch Strait standoff, the European Union intends to impose more restrictive measures against the Russian Federation. However, Monday’s meeting of top EU-member diplomats in Brussels showed that the new restrictions would be relatively modest, Kommersant wrote. Instead of introducing additional economic sanctions, it was decided to widen the list of Russian citizens who are banned from entering the EU. And so their names are expected to be publicized in the coming days. The European Union claims that Russia’s detention of the seamen is ‘illegal’ and has repeatedly urged Moscow and Kiev to come…

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Press review: Idlib hotbed in Astana trio’s crosshairs and Maduro’s secret talks with US

Press review: Idlib hotbed in Astana trio’s crosshairs and Maduro’s secret talks with US

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia, Iran, Turkey planning mop-up operation in Idlib The Munich Security Conference has significantly clarified the situation around Syria, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statements show that Moscow and its partners in the Astana trio, Iran and Turkey, are preparing for a military operation in Idlib. It’s highly likely that the United States together with its coalition allies will create a buffer zone in Syria in order to keep control over the territory to the east of the Euphrates. Certainly, this is illegitimate and is contrary to the interests of Damascus and its partners, but US Vice President Mike Pence…

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Press review: Takeaways from trilateral Sochi talks and no unilateral Afghan pullout by US

Press review: Takeaways from trilateral Sochi talks and no unilateral Afghan pullout by US

Izvestia: Moscow gears up to respond to new US sanctions Russia reserves the right to respond to Washington’s new restrictive measures if they are introduced, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Andrey Klimov told Izvestia. According to politicians and experts interviewed by the newspaper, the Russian economy has adapted to the sanctions pressure and can cope with the upcoming round of punitive measures. However, some potential weakening of the ruble can occur. Sources in Washington’s political circles told Izvestia that introducing these measures has not yet been fully decided on, and the establishment is in disagreement about the need for such…

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Press review: Idlib’s fate hinges on Sochi summit and Prague vows not to host US missiles

Press review: Idlib’s fate hinges on Sochi summit and Prague vows not to host US missiles

Izvestia: Sochi trilateral summit to decide on fate of Syria’s Idlib enclave Damascus hopes that the talks between the Russian, Turkish and Iranian presidents in Sochi on Thursday will result in signing a deal on handing control over the Idlib de-escalation zone to the Assad administration, Chairman of the Syrian parliament’s International Committee, Butrus Marjan, told Izvestia. The launch of the constitutional committee has been stalled, the politician said, placing the blame for it on the West and the opposition for their direct interference. However, the Astana trilateral conference may bolster the process, he noted. Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s (upper house of parliament)…

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Press review: Pompeo’s Central European tour and Gorbachev’s take on US suspension of INF

Press review: Pompeo’s Central European tour and Gorbachev’s take on US suspension of INF

Kommersant: Pompeo’s Central European tour seeks to strengthen ‘weak links’ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is currently on a tour of Central Europe, has visited Hungary and Slovakia, two of the former Eastern Bloc members that have become part of the “new Europe.” Pompeo’s first European tour following Washington’s announcement of the INF Treaty’s suspension is aimed at strengthening Transatlantic ties with those EU members whom the White House considers to be a weak link in the anti-Russian front. However, the Budapest talks ran into a scandal when Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that Russia’s critics were actually hypocrites as they continued…

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Press review: Moscow snubs UK official’s bluster and Poroshenko has no chance of winning

Press review: Moscow snubs UK official’s bluster and Poroshenko has no chance of winning

  Izvestia: Russia blows off UK defense chief’s hostile bluster Moscow is shrugging off remarks by British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson calling for the need to “deter” Russia from what he called “hostile acts”. Chairman of the Committee on Defense Vladimir Shamanov told Izvestia, Williamson’s comments were nothing more than a gimmick to get more funds from the UK’s coffers. Meanwhile, First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov emphasized that the British defense chief’s speech sought to divert attention from the Brexit fiasco. According to the senator, the UK government wants to strengthen its shaky position, by employing bombastic…

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Press review: Who gains from Moscow Afghan talks and Paris, Berlin bargain on Nord Stream

Press review: Who gains from Moscow Afghan talks and Paris, Berlin bargain on Nord Stream

  Kommersant: Moscow’s Afghan talks satisfy US, but anger Kabul Last week’s Moscow-hosted negotiations between Afghan politicians and the Taliban (radical group, outlawed in Russia) unexpectedly stirred up a surge in diplomatic activity, Kommersant writes. US State Department Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad welcomed the Inter-Afghan Dialogue in the Russian capital, backing Moscow’s efforts on the Afghan track. The key message of the political declaration approved in Moscow was support for the peace talks between the Taliban and US representatives, initiated in Doha and labeled as Khalilzad’s brainchild. The US diplomat was cautiously optimistic about the event in Moscow, which was organized by the…

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Press review: French-German rift over Nord Stream 2 and more Novichok hype from UK media

Press review: French-German rift over Nord Stream 2 and more Novichok hype from UK media

  Kommersant: Nord Stream 2 might split Europe The construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline may spark an open conflict between the two most influential countries in the European Union, France and Germany. Paris has suddenly made it clear that it will support amendments to the EU Gas Directive. If adopted, they will not suspend the project but may slow it down and call its payback into question. In a worst-case scenario, Gazprom will be able to use only half of the pipeline’s capacity, which would give Ukraine an advantage during the upcoming talks on Russian gas transit starting from 2020, Kommersant writes.…

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Press review: Second Trump-Kim summit expectations and US bid for new INF with China

Press review: Second Trump-Kim summit expectations and US bid for new INF with China

  Izvestia: What the upcoming Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam has to offer The second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is set for February 27-28 in Vietnam. Each side and the entire world hope that the meeting will yield particular results. Washington wants North Korea to list all of its nuclear facilities; in exchange, Pyongyang would anticipate the removal of sanctions, and receive economic aid. However, experts questioned by Izvestia say neither side will get what they want, but small concessions in order to maintain the fragile peace on the Korean Peninsula are in the cards. This time the…

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Press review: Vietnam likely to host Trump-Kim, Trump-Xi summits and Russia goes cashless

Press review: Vietnam likely to host Trump-Kim, Trump-Xi summits and Russia goes cashless

  Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Washington banks on Vietnam in its trade talks with China US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping could meet in late February. Washington earlier said that work was in progress to lay the groundwork for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. According to some sources, in both cases negotiations are likely to take place in Vietnam, whose role in such a scenario will expand, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Experts believe the Americans are playing a cunning rapprochement game with their former adversary to spite Beijing. The Vietnamese port city of Da Nang is mentioned as a potential…

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Press review: Russia to exit INF, work on new weapons and Maduro reaches out to opposition

Press review: Russia to exit INF, work on new weapons and Maduro reaches out to opposition

  Media: Russia to exit INF following Washington’s withdrawal After the US launched its procedure to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a proportionate response and handed down instructions to begin the development of previously banned types of missiles. The actions taken by Washington and Moscow have buried not only the INF deal but also the entire arms control system that emerged after the Cold War, Kommersant writes. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu suggested that in response to the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty, Russia should allocate budget funds to develop a land-based version of the Kalibr…

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Press review: INF’s fate to guide New START and Maduro’s chances of clinging to power

Press review: INF’s fate to guide New START and Maduro’s chances of clinging to power

Izvestia: Russia fails to convince US to stick to INF deal The US pullout from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) seriously undermines the system of international stability and calls into question the remaining arms control agreements, Chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachev told Izvestia. Following the expiration of the INF accord, the Americans might refuse to extend the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which expires in 2021. Sources in Washington political circles told the newspaper that the country’s leadership has not yet decided on the future “strategic” agreement. “The Americans want to relieve themselves of all arms…

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Press review: Washington’s INF exit scheme and Russia’s breakthrough in science diplomacy

Press review: Washington’s INF exit scheme and Russia’s breakthrough in science diplomacy

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US expected to let INF’s clock run out and launch new arms race The five nuclear powers (Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China) are meeting in Beijing on January 30-31 to discuss arms control issues. Chances are that the meeting’s participants will touch upon the issue of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) that the US is planning to leave, Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes. However, America’s major concern is about China and its ground-based missiles, while Russia’s alleged violations are only an excuse for withdrawing from the accord. Experts believe that suspending the INF Treaty is an option. “The…

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Press review: Tokyo talks peace but seeks military might and Germany shields Nord Stream 2

Press review: Tokyo talks peace but seeks military might and Germany shields Nord Stream 2

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Tokyo talks peace with Russia, yet builds up military might Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to expand ties with China given Washington’s aggressive trade policy. At the same time, Tokyo is worried about China’s military power and its claims to some disputed islands. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, on Monday, in parliament, Prime Minister Abe promised to continue negotiations on a peace deal with Russia. However, at the same time, Japan is increasing its defense budget, strengthening its fleet, and improving its means of ensuring cybersecurity and space control, the newspaper wrote. Head of the Center for Japanese Studies at the Institute of…

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Press review: Maduro mulls Moscow mediation and Ruxit fears confound Council of Europe

Press review: Maduro mulls Moscow mediation and Ruxit fears confound Council of Europe

Media: Facing wave of unrest, Maduro may turn to mediation from Moscow Having severed Venezuela’s diplomatic relations with the US following Washington’s recognition of Juan Guaido as interim president, incumbent head of state Nicolas Maduro is inclined to hold dialogue with the United States in order to set up offices in the two countries’ capitals that would represent their interests, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. According to Academic Secretary of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Latin American Studies Dmitry Rozental, it has been a long time since mass protests such as the recent ones that erupted across Venezuela. The expert believes that these developments in…

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Press review: Russia’s gamble on Maduro and May’s Brexit stalemate

Press review: Russia’s gamble on Maduro and May’s Brexit stalemate

Media: Moscow gambles on Maduro Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone conversation voiced support for incumbent Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and noted that “flagrant foreign interference” was the reason behind the escalating domestic political crisis. Experts interviewed by Izvestia believe that the crisis won’t generate military intervention. Russian diplomats will do everything possible to help stabilize the situation in Venezuela, Academic Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Latin American Studies Vladimir Davydov told the paper. In his view, the US will not opt for military intervention because Washington is not interested in sparking a huge conflict in its backyard. However, the…

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Press review: Putin, Erdogan hash over Syria and US meddles in Venezuelan presidency

Press review: Putin, Erdogan hash over Syria and US meddles in Venezuelan presidency

  Kommersant: Putin, Erdogan talk Syria in Kremlin Wednesday’s talks in the Kremlin between Turkish and Russian Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin confirmed that Moscow and Ankara are determined to play a crucial role in achieving peace in Syria amid Washington’s decision to scale down its presence there. That said, Iran should become the third guarantor of the Syrian settlement, Kommersant writes. At the talks, the two leaders agreed on holding a new summit in the Astana format (Russia, Turkey and Iran) and also try to step up cooperation with Western partners, which are taking steps to sabotage the Astana group’s efforts, as…

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Press review: Putin, Erdogan to compromise on Idlib and peace deal with Japan out of reach

Press review: Putin, Erdogan to compromise on Idlib and peace deal with Japan out of reach

  Kommersant: Putin, Erdogan to pursue compromise on Idlib Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet in Moscow on Wednesday to coordinate their stances on the situation in Syria after the withdrawal of US forces from the war-ravaged country. According to Erdogan, efforts to create a buffer zone on the Syrian-Turkish border will top the agenda of the talks. Meanwhile, experts interviewed by Kommersant do not rule out that Ankara is ready to make concessions on bringing Idlib back under Damascus’ control in return for considering Turkish interests in Manbij and on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. “Turkey…

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Press review: Russia’s control of Kurils ironclad and can Kiev be trusted on gas transit

Press review: Russia’s control of Kurils ironclad and can Kiev be trusted on gas transit

  Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Moscow, Tokyo turn up the heat on Kuril Islands dispute Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has arrived in Moscow for negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is the two leaders’ 25th meeting, indicating their desire to improve bilateral relations. However, disagreements between both leaders are obvious. While Moscow says it is essential to recognize the outcome of World War II, Tokyo insists that signing a peace treaty should be preceded by a solution to the territorial dispute, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. According to Kyodo News, Abe is prepared to sign a peace accord with Russia in exchange for Shikotan and Habomai islands.…

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Press review: Putin, Abe enter Round 25 on peace deal talks and why Davos may disappoint

Press review: Putin, Abe enter Round 25 on peace deal talks and why Davos may disappoint

  Izvestia: Russian, Japanese leaders return for Round 25 of negotiations on peace treaty Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the 25th time to move forward towards solving the peace treaty issue and the long-standing territorial dispute over the South Kuril Islands. Taking into account the background of the preparations for Abe’s visit to Moscow, experts told Izvestia they do not expect any breakthrough solutions from the meeting. However, according to them, if Tokyo fulfils a number of conditions, a peace treaty would also be beneficial for Moscow. Prior to the visit, Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov…

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Press review: Putin paves way for TurkStream via Serbia and Trump hawks ‘Russian threat’

Press review: Putin paves way for TurkStream via Serbia and Trump hawks ‘Russian threat’

  Media: Putin paves TurkStream’s way through Serbia, touches on Kosovo Talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic focused on plans to extend the second line of the TurkStream gas pipeline and the issue of Kosovo, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. During Putin’s visit to the Serbian capital, the two countries signed agreements worth about 200 mln euro, Izvestia adds. “The meeting confirms that the partnership is becoming strategic,” said Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee Deputy Chairman Andrei Klimov. “Russian-Serbian relations are breeding significant projects, which are contributing to Serbia’s development. Belgrade, in turn, has been stating at every level that under…

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Press review: Putin in Serbia to talk Kosovo and US pursuing contacts with Taliban

Press review: Putin in Serbia to talk Kosovo and US pursuing contacts with Taliban

  Izvestia: Progress on Kosovo expected at Putin-Vucic talks Kosovo’s status is expected to dominate the upcoming talks between Russian and Serbian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Vucic, experts and Serbian politicians questioned by Izvestia said. According to them, Putin’s visit to Belgrade on Thursday should inspire Vucic to carry out a clear and transparent policy on the self-proclaimed republic. As a whole, the Russian leader’s trip to Belgrade will enhance bilateral ties in economic, political and cultural areas, the paper writes. Some 21 agreements will be signed at the meeting, in particular in energy, transport and the digital economy fields. The Serbian leader stressed…

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Press review: Russia won’t submit to US demands on INF and Belarus flirts with West

Press review: Russia won’t submit to US demands on INF and Belarus flirts with West

  Izvestia: Russia won’t respond to US ultimatum on INF, but ready for dialogue Russia will not respond to the US ultimatum on the implementation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), which expires in early February, several sources in Russian diplomatic circles told Izvestia. According to the sources, Moscow has already suggested Washington sit down at the negotiating table and discuss the problematic points of the treaty and that talking to Russia through ultimatums is pointless. The expert communities of both countries are confident that Moscow and Washington are fully capable of finding a compromise on the INF. This agreement has the ability…

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Press review: Turkey arms Ukraine with combat drones and Syria wants full US withdrawal

Press review: Turkey arms Ukraine with combat drones and Syria wants full US withdrawal

  Kommersant: Turkey arms Ukraine with combat drones The Ukrainian army will get Turkey’s newest drones dubbed the Bayraktar TB2, which can be used for airstrikes, Kommersant writes. Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko announced that the deal had been signed, but did not reveal the contract’s price tag. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an interview with Kommersant that weapons supplies for the Kiev regime must not become a factor that exacerbates the internal Ukrainian conflict. Experts and sources in Russia’s defense sector note that the deal won’t turn the tide in the Donbass conflict, but will enable Kiev to carry out surgical strikes,…

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Press review: MP seeks to lock in Kurils ownership and Kiev to ban Russian OSCE observers

Press review: MP seeks to lock in Kurils ownership and Kiev to ban Russian OSCE observers

  Kommersant: Russian MP initiates bill blocking any transfer of Kuril Islands to Japan Member of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Sergei Ivanov has submitted a bill prohibiting any legal acts that would make it possible to transfer the Kuril Islands to Japan. According to Ivanov, when tackling this territorial issue, it is essential to proceed from the premise that all the Kuril Islands (a group of islands south of Sakhalin, according to the proposed bill) belong to Russia in accordance with several international agreements, Kommersant writes. “If my bill is passed, technically it…

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Press review: Turkey’s gamble to fill US void in Syria and China’s role in Kim-Trump talks

Press review: Turkey’s gamble to fill US void in Syria and China’s role in Kim-Trump talks

  Media: Will Turkey cross the Rubicon after US troops exit Syria? Turkey should expect serious changes along the Syrian course. Ankara’s hopes for military and political cooperation with Washington are coming under serious doubt, Izvestia writes. US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria may both change Turkey’s plans on combating the terrorist threat near its borders and its general approaches to settling the Syrian conflict. Although Washington’s Syria pullout means decreasing the level of US cooperation with the Syrian Kurds, Turkey is afraid of “pitfalls.” It is seriously alarming that the troop pullout does not fit the US’ long-term plans in…

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Press review: Isolating Russia futile and Roscosmos won’t desert NASA over nixed CEO visit

Press review: Isolating Russia futile and Roscosmos won’t desert NASA over nixed CEO visit

  Izvestia: ‘Isolating’ or ‘humiliating Russia out of the question’, says envoy to OPCW Empowering the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) with punitive functions will undermine the Syrian peace process, which starts in early 2019, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW, Russian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Alexander Shulgin said in an interview with Izvestia. He noted that if the organization’s mandate expands, the West would be given carte blanche on blaming Damascus for any sort of chemical attacks, which devalues its participation in a peaceful settlement. The diplomat also assessed the current relations between Moscow and Amsterdam and explained how Russian diplomatic…

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Press review: What’s the fate of Russian-US arms control and Poroshenko’s gray zone ploy

Press review: What’s the fate of Russian-US arms control and Poroshenko’s gray zone ploy

  Kommersant: What’s the fate of Russian-US arms control? Trump’s pullout from the INF accord has become one of the most significant international events of the year. The collapse of this agreement (and any chances for its preservation are next to zero) will lead to a new arms race and the deterioration of security in Europe and Asia. If the INF Treaty falls victim to the confrontation between Moscow and Washington, the arms control system might be finished. However, according to Kommersant, the White House warned the Kremlin that everything would likely get much worse before it could get better. US President Donald Trump announcing…

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Press review: Can Poroshenko’s power play boost ratings and envoy blasts EU politicians

Press review: Can Poroshenko’s power play boost ratings and envoy blasts EU politicians

  Kommersant: Will lifting martial law turn Poroshenko into the presidential frontrunner? Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has announced the end of martial law declared on November 26 in the wake of the Kerch Strait naval standoff. When announcing this move, he noted that the so-called “Russian threat” had not gone away, adding that it was necessary to remove the restrictions in order to hold the presidential election on March 31, 2019. Kommersant’s sources in Moscow and Kiev have confirmed that the issue at hand is not solving any military tasks during that period. The Ukrainian leader tried to point to other achievements, claiming that Western…

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Press review: Putin, Lukashenko to meet before year end and China calls Russia best friend

Press review: Putin, Lukashenko to meet before year end and China calls Russia best friend

  Izvestia: Moscow, Minsk to hold another meeting before New Year’s Russia and Belarus will set up a working group led by Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin, which will tackle all disputed issues between the two countries, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Izvestia, commenting on the talks between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko. Starting from 2020, the intergovernmental group will hammer out proposals for Russian natural gas prices, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anton Siluanov noted. After the negotiations, which lasted nearly four hours, news emerged that the two leaders had agreed to hold another meeting before the end of this year. One…

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