Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Cartoon Of The Week
In The News:
- INF Treaty
- OPEC - Rosneft's Chief Executive Sechin: The OPEC Plus Deal Is A Mistake For Russia
- Putin's Greetings On Diplomats’ Day: Maintaining Strategic Stability Needs Much Attention
- Remembering Sergei Yursky
- News In Brief: Russia-Venezuela Relations - Macedonia Joining NATO
Russian Expert Goltz: 'We Will Not Have Time To Pray'
Commenting on the INF suspension, Russian strategic analyst Aleksandr Goltz wrote:
"A statement by an unnamed US National Security Council official said that 'only the complete and verifiable destruction of Russian 9M729 missiles, launchers and related equipment would mean the discontinuation of violations by Russia.' This is a refusal to negotiate. Putin ordered the Foreign Ministry not to come up with new initiatives in the field of armaments. All this excludes the possibility for a safe way out of the crisis. I am afraid that in both countries an unconditional victory was won by those who do not see any point in a control over nuclear weapons. They intend to compete in the nuclear race.
"And it means that sooner or later American medium-range missiles will end up in Europe. As a result, they will be able to reach Moscow and St. Petersburg in 6-8 minutes. More recently, Vladimir Putin explained that the Russian strategy is based on the concept of a retaliatory strike. It was assumed that in an event of a missile launch in the direction of Russia, the missile attack early-warning system (SPRN) would give a signal to the Kremlin. This will allow, according to Putin, to give the command to launch Russian missiles and, in addition, to pray in order to have a guaranteed way to heaven.
"The 6-8 minute flight time of US missiles puts Russia in an extremely vulnerable position. Not only will it be impossible to verify whether the satellites and radar detectors were wrong. This vulnerability cannot be compensated for by an arms build-up. After all, no matter how many medium-range Russian missiles will be deployed, they will not reach Washington. Nor can the window of vulnerability be successfully closed via a buildup of strategic carriers, which Americans have a hundred and a half more of.
"It is much more likely that the Kremlin will seek an answer in shifting from a retaliatory strike to a pre-emptive strike, which will significantly increase the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe as a result of an unintended incident or mere chance. The fanfare of Kremlin propagandists regarding radioactive dust suddenly turns into a frightening likelihood. And we will not have time to pray ..."
(Ej.ru, February 4, 2019)
Russian Defense Minister Shoigu: We Need To Develop A Ground-Based Version Of The Caliber Sea-Based Complex With A Long-Range Cruise Missile
During a teleconference with the leadership of the Russian Armed Forces, Russian Defense Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu discussed the INF Treaty suspension.
Below is a summary of the teleconference:
"Today the National Centre for State Defense Control in Moscow hosted another teleconference of Defense Ministry chaired by the General of the Army Sergei Shoigu.
"When opening the session, the Minister of Defense recalled that from February 2, the United States of America suspended the fulfillment of its obligations under the INF Treaty.
"At the same time, the United States is actively working to create land-based missiles with a firing range of more than 500 km, beyond the limits provided by the Treaty, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry said.
"In this regard, the President of Russia has set the task of the Ministry of Defense to take mirror measures in response.
"The General Staff presented to the Supreme Commander a list of the activities that he approved.
"'During the years 2019-2020, we need to develop a ground-based version of the Caliber sea-based complex with a long-range cruise missile, which has proven itself in Syria,' General of the Army Sergei Shoigu said. 'At that time we shall also create a ground-based missile system with a long-range hypersonic rocket.'
"Sea-based and air-launched missiles will significantly reduce the production time of the new missile weapons and its funding.
"In addition, it is important to increase the firing range of the ground-based missile systems being developed today.
"'I instruct the Deputy Minister of Defense Alexei Yuryevich Krivoruchko to launch relevant development work within the framework of funds allocated for state defense orders for 2019 and the planned period 2020–2021 by redistributing funds for the implementation of these works,' the head of the military department ordered."
(Mil.ru, February 5, 2019)
Russian Expert: 'Our Army Will Promptly Place Systems Capable Of Providing An Adequate Response On Full Combat Alert'
Viktor Murakhovsky, Chief Editor of the Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine, said: "Vladimir Putin said that Russia would not stoke tensions, which are bound to emerge after the termination of the INF Treaty…
"However, we should be ready for a tit-for-tat response. New long-range Kalibr and hypersonic systems will be developed, tested and prepared for mass production. Then, everything will depend on the Americans. If they embark on producing and deploying missiles that threaten Russia’s territory, our army will promptly place systems capable of providing an adequate response on full combat alert."
(Tass.ru, February 6, 2019)
The INF Treaty And The Kuril Islands
During a press conference at the Russian-Tajik Slavonic University, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov answered a question concerning the Kuril Islands in the context of the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty.
Question: "What is the Russian side doing to resolve the matter concerning the Kuril Islands in the context of the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty?"
Sergey Lavrov: "Certainly, there is a link between the INF Treaty and the Kuril Islands. Current security problems in relations with our Japanese neighbors include the deployment of launchers in Japan under the US global missile defense program. These launchers are similar to US launchers that have already been deployed in Romania and that will also be deployed in Poland. This implies the MK41 launcher which is being officially deployed to fire defensive interceptor missiles and to therefore implement US missile-defense plans. But the very same launcher can also fire Tomahawk ground-launched cruise missiles in direct violation of the INF Treaty.
"We did warn our Japanese colleagues when they entered into this agreement with the United States that this would violate the INF Treaty.
"Regarding the matter of the South Kuril Islands in relations with Japan, our leaders instructed the concerned officials to expedite talks on the peace treaty. We have been prepared to discuss the matter this way for a long time. Unfortunately, it is Tokyo, rather than Moscow, that should take the first step. It should unconditionally recognize the results of World War II, including the Russian Federation’s sovereignty over all the Kuril Islands, the South Kuril archipelago included. We are waiting for our Japanese colleagues to think this situation over. Japan is the only country that has failed to recognize the results of World War II, although it joined the UN and ratified the UN Charter stating expressly that such results are final and not subject to revision."
(Mid.ru, February 5, 2019)
- Envoy says Russia will not deploy missiles to Belarus due to US pullout from INF Treaty. (Tass.com, February 6, 2019; read the full article)
- Commenting on a statement by UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field, the Russian embassy in London said that the United Kingdom is seeking to keep afloat the US-initiated media campaign to blame Russia for violating the INF Treaty, the Russian embassy in London. (Tass.com, February 6, 2019; read the full article)
- Russian diplomats and military will do everything possible to prevent the deployment of US missiles to the Baltic States, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said at a press conference. (Tass.com, February 7, 2019; read the full article)
- Russia may develop the land-based version of the sea-launched Kalibr cruise missile system and arrange its serial production already by the end of 2019, a source in the missile-building industry said. (Tass.com, February 7, 2019; read the full article)
- Russia may positively respond to the United States’ proposal on signing a new Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters. (Tass.com, February 7, 2019; read the full article)
- The Russian Defense Ministry proposes that the United States destroy the MK 41 launching systems, target missiles and drones that violate the INF Treaty, the US defense attaché has been summoned to receive the note, Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said. (Tass.com, February 7, 2019; read the full article)
OPEC - Rosneft's Chief Executive Sechin: The OPEC Plus Deal Is A Mistake For Russia
RIA citing Vedomosti wrote that Igor Sechin, Rosneft's chief executive, called the OPEC plus deal and the strategy of oil production cutbacks to prop up oil prices a mistake for Russia
Sechin said that output cutbacks by the OPEC countries will create a preference for the US. Sechin noted that Russia's market share had dropped from 16.3 % in 1990 to 12% in 2018 consumers reoriented themselves from Russian oil to other types, this could be an irreversible loss of market share for Russian companies.
Sechin claims that the American oilmen sharply increased output thanks to the lowering of the tax burden and the stimulus to investments. The tax burden is 35% in the US and more than 80% in Russia.
Sechin believes that the American producers will receive the chance to sharply increase output and export of oil at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 when the pipelines from the center of shale oil output to ports on the Gulf of Mexico will go into operation.
(Ria.ru, February 11, 2019)
Putin's Greetings On Diplomats’ Day: Maintaining Strategic Stability Needs Much Attention
Vladimir Putin sent greetings to current and former staff of the Russian Foreign Ministry on their professional holiday, Diplomats’ Day on February 10.
"… Today, our diplomacy is making a significant contribution to strengthening peace, resolving important regional and global issues, and promoting cooperation with our foreign partners.
"… In particular, it is imperative to enthusiastically uphold the basic principles of international law and the universal role of the UN and to strive to rally the international community in fighting the terrorist threat. Maintaining strategic stability needs much attention, especially now that the arms control and non-proliferation regime has been challenged.
"Much remains to be done to further advance the peace process in Syria, as well as to find solutions to other crises by political and diplomatic means.
"Of course, efforts should be stepped up to promote Eurasian integration processes and to expand the external relations of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with an eye to forming the Greater Eurasian Partnership…"
(Kremlin.ru, February 10, 2019)
Remembering Sergei Yursky
Sergei Yursky, renowned Russian film and stage actor, died at the age of 83, on February 8.
Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1935, Yursky lived in Moscow since 1978 and was an actor and director at Mossovet Theater. He also cooperated with the School of the Modern Play Theater and founded Sergei Yursky’s Actors Guild in 1992. Yursky also staged two plays in the Tokyo-based Hayyudza Theater.
He was also known as a prolific film actor appearing in more than forty movies. His roles as Ostap Bender in the Little Golden Calf based on a satirical novel by Soviet authors Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov and Vikniksor in the Republic of ShKID directed by Gennady Poloka launched him to nationwide stardom. He also appeared in such films as The Meeting Place Cannot be Changed, Love and Pigeons, Little Tragedies and Queen Margot.
In 1990, Yursky directed the movie titled Chernov based on his own eponymous novel.
Recognized for his cultural contributions, his awards included the Order of Honor, the Order for Merit to the Fatherland and the Pushkin medal (awarded to Russians for achievements in the arts and culture, education, humanities and literature). He was also the winner of the Kinotavr film festival awards and the Golden Mask national theater award.
(Tass.com, February 8, 2019)
Yursky Defends Independent Ukraine:
"I have been in Ukraine for a very long time ago, and for me, Ukraine is an independent phenomenon. And, of course, it is dangerous to say these words to Kharkiv [where the majority prefers to be united with Russia], but I think that a rather painful awakening of the Ukrainian language is a blessing."
(Aif.ua, February 10, 2019)
"This is another friendly nation, historically linked to Russia but another. Now, Ukraine is another country. And they talk about it in such a tone, as the night television programs [ hosted by Arkady] Mamontov or [Vladimir] Soloviev 'We want, we will speed up, we want, we will protect, and the Russian language must exist!' Guys this is none of your business."
(Aif.ua, February 10, 2019)
Sergei Yursky (Source: Missoulian.com)
Standing is Russian and American Nobel Prize-winning poet Joseph Brodsky (1940 –1996), seated are Sergei Yursky and Russian and American ballet legend, choreographer, and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov in New York 1989.
News In Brief
- Russia plans to submit to the UN Security Council (UNSC) its own draft resolution on resolving the Venezuelan crisis in response to US-proposed draft that envisages new elections. (Tass.com, February 10, 2019; read the full article)
- Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA (Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.) is telling customers of its oil joint ventures to deposit sales proceeds at an account at Russia's Gazprombank. (Tass.com, February 10, 2019; read the full article)
- Disagreements on the situation in Venezuela between Russia and Brazil should not have an adverse effect on bilateral ties and cooperation in the BRICS group, Russia's Ambassador to Brazil Sergei Akopov said. (Tass.com, January 28, 2019; read the full article)
- The Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov has denied media allegations that Russian nationals were sent to guarantee protection to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. "No, of course, not," he said when asked to comment on corresponding reports. "Fear has magnifying eyes." (Tass.com, January 27, 2019; read the full article)
- Appointing a new US special envoy for Venezuela represents an attempt to directly manage the situation in the Latin American country, Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page. (Tass.com, January 26, 2019; read the full article)
Macedonia Joining NATO
- Macedonia Joining NATO Is a Self-Inflicted Defeat for Russia (Op-ed). (Themoscowtimes.com, February 10, 2019; read the full article)