Izvestia: Moscow not planning to return permanent representative to NATO

Russia does not see the need to return its official envoy to NATO, since almost all lines of interaction with the alliance are currently frozen, two sources in diplomatic circles told Izvestia. Representatives of Russia’s Federation Council and the State Duma also confirmed this position.

In turn, NATO noted that they are interested in dialogue with Russia, but the level of the Russian representation depends on Moscow. In January 2018, President Vladimir Putin dismissed Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko and appointed him Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Now the Russian diplomatic mission to the alliance is headed by Deputy Permanent Representative Yuri Gorlach.

Sources in Russian diplomatic circles told Izvestia that it at the moment appointing a new envoy is not planned, since almost all lines of interaction between the alliance and Russia, including the dialogue between the military, were closed at the initiative of NATO. That is why it is inappropriate to raise the status of presence in the alliance. “We had very good cooperation in the political and military spheres. Various aspects of security were discussed. Our military representatives met regularly, set up working groups and exchanged information. Of course, we need to return to all of this, but it was not us who scrapped it,” one of the sources told Izvestia.

According to another informed source, under the current circumstances, the return of a permanent representative would not change the situation. “We cooperated well in defense. Until 2014, we had worked on the STANDEX project – a system capable of remotely detecting explosives… Now the channels of military communication have been completely broken. We need this channel,” the source stressed.

Dialogue with Moscow is vital for resolving the most acute problems and disagreements, NATO’s press service told Izvestia. However, the alliance intends to keep adhering to a dual approach with respect to Russia: deterrence and defense in combination with political dialogue.

 

Kommersant: Moscow decides not to supply Azerbaijan with coastal missile system

The Russian Defense Ministry has chosen not to deliver its Bal-E coastal missile system to Azerbaijan’s military, Kommersant wrote. Russia’s top brass believes that even exporting a modification of this missile system could pose a potential threat to Moscow’s Caspian fleet located in Russian territorial waters. The newspaper points out that the refusal to supply one type of product is not critical for Russia, since over the past few years, Baku has purchased Russian weapons and equipment totaling $5 bln.

A source familiar with the situation said that the parties even initialed a contract that involved the signing of a small batch of the missile system and several dozen 3M24 missiles (the export version of the X-35E). However, a firm agreement was never signed. Several military sources told Kommersant, the reason for this was the Russian Defense Ministry’s position on “the inexpediency of supplying these systems to ensure the navigational safety of the Caspian Flotilla’s vessels.”

According to the sources, assessments indicated that even an export modification of the missile system could carry a potential threat to Russian ships in its territorial waters. “It was useless to battle this argument, so the initialed agreement was abandoned, and our position was listened to,” one of the military officials confirmed to the newspaper. The Russian Ministry of Defense is yet to comment on the situation.

If the contract had been concluded, Azerbaijan would have become the third country to get this system. Vietnam became the first foreign state to receive it.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: European Parliament pursuing clampdown on Russia

The European Parliament supports suspending the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and the Russian Federation and transitioning to a point-by-point interaction, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. The resolution will be put to a vote next year, but a draft report has already been drawn up to validate it. In particular, it talks about the need to step up funding for “activists of Russian civil society”.

The appeal to the leadership of the European Union, which will be put to a vote in the European Parliament no earlier than March, is focused on reforming relations with Russia and suggests cooperating only in areas that “are necessary and represent the mutual interest of both parties.” According to the report, all relationships should be built on the understanding that Russia must be contained, the newspaper wrote.

The Russian Federation Council believes that this position is a “part of the information war”. As for the material support for Russian non-profit organizations, Russian Senator Franz Klintsevich told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that this “proposal, undermining mutual trust, objectively leads to furthering tension on the European continent”.

The Western grant structures have specific criteria for selecting Russian non-profit organizations for their programs, member of the presidential Human Rights Council Alexander Brod told the newspaper. According to him, its practice shows that these sponsors are interested only in radically extreme opposition organizations and civil activists. In turn, according to him, the goal of these reports is to increase pressure on Russia and discredit its political and electoral systems.

 

Izvestia: Russian corporations seeking out dollar substitutes on bond market

Russia’s biggest corporations are ready to place their bonds not in dollars, but in other currencies, like the euro, the yuan and the ruble. Seven companies told Izvestia that they were considering this possibility over the next three years. Gazprom and RusHydro have already posted bonds in the European single currency and the yuan earlier in November. The growing popularity of bonds in non-traditional nominal values for Russian borrowers might be due to the fact that the greenback may become less attractive in the coming years, experts interviewed by the newspaper said. In addition, Russian companies are afraid of coming under any of Washington’s potential sanctions, limiting transactions using the US currency.

Izvestia talked to the largest Russian corporations about their plans to place debt securities on foreign markets not in dollars. Rosselkhozbank, Otkritie Bank, Alfa-Bank, Rosseti, Russian Post, Sistema, and the X5 Group (Pyaterochka, Perekrestok and Karusel grocery chains) said that they did not rule it out in the next few years. Answering a question about the timing of a potential entry into the market for non-dollar securities, the companies said that this would depend on the need for other currencies, as well as on the cost of such placements.

The dollar’s attractiveness will decline over time, Head of the Analytical Department in the International Financial Center Roman Blinov told Izvestia. According to him, signs of this trend can already be found in the behavior of the global financial market.

The reason for the growing popularity of non-dollar bonds among Russian companies is businesses fear of being embargoed by Washington, which would entail getting slapped with restrictions on transactions in US currency, Head of the Department of stock markets and financial engineering at RANEPA Konstantin Korishchenko told the newspaper. Financial institutions that are subject to the US Federal Reserve are involved in calculations with the dollar. Thus, the American regulator has information about transactions in dollars, and can impose restrictions on them.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Moscow might put OPEC+ in jeopardy

The new OPEC+ agreement on reducing oil production might be under threat due to Russia’s position. OPEC and non-cartel players would like to cut production by at least 1.3 mln barrels per day, but Russia is expected to drop to at least 250,000 – 300,000 barrels per day. However, Russian oil companies are ready to discuss cutting only half of the required volume, that is up to 140,000 per day, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.

OPEC members will gather on Thursday in Vienna, and on Friday, they will hold talks with other oil producers, including Russia, amid falling oil prices caused by the weakness of the global economy and anxiety about a market glut. Moreover, the uncertainty concerns not only the fate of the new agreement, but also the entire structure of OPEC+, the newspaper wrote.

Head of the analytical department of the National Energy Security Fund Alexander Pasechnik told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that he believes that Russian oil companies are ready to be flexible on production cuts. At the same time, he does not expect long-lasting consequences, such as OPEC+ shutting down.

“OPEC + is unlikely to cease operations. That would be a shock to the market. There are no such prerequisites yet. Only the Americans would welcome such a scenario. Although then due to the fall of oil prices and market overstocking their entire shale industry would collapse,” the expert told the newspaper.

Finam analyst Alexey Kalachev said that the situation might be affected by the short timespan since the political agreements had been voiced. “The fact that the agreement will be extended and perhaps a new needed cutback in production was announced only a few days after the G20 meeting took place, along with the OPEC+ conference in Vienna starting in a couple of days. I doubt that the specific parameters for approval will be prepared, and most importantly, agreed on in such a short time,” he told the newspaper. The expert believes that the problem lies not only in Russia’s position, but also in contradictions within OPEC itself.

 

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