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memri
June 16, 2019 No.
8120

Russia This Week – Focus On Russia's Foreign Relations – June 16, 2019

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.

Photo Of The Week


(Source: Scmp.com)

Quote Of The Week

Russian FM Sergey Lavrov at the Primakov Readings International Forum:

"Politically though, of course, it is of fundamental importance that Russia and the United States calm down the rest of the world and adopt a joint declaration at the top level that a nuclear war cannot be won, and therefore it is unacceptable. The leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union expressed this stance twice, and we do not understand why this position cannot be reaffirmed under current conditions. Our proposals are under review by the American side."

(Mid.ru, June 11, 2019)


(Source: Mid.ru)

In The News:

  • Huawei; Russia-China Relations; Trade War

  • US Dollar

  • Russia-Venezuela Relations

  • Russia-Iran Relations

  • Ivan Golunov Arrest

  • News In Brief: Low Yield Military Nuclear Tests; INF Suspension; Oil Prices; Nord Stream 2; Russia-Japan Relations; Calvey's Case

Huawei; Russia-China Relations; Trade War


(Source: Kremlin.ru)


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a speech at the plenary session of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. Commenting about Huawei, Putin said:

"Take the situation with Huawei. Attempts are being made not just to challenge it on the global market but to actually restrict it in an off-handed manner. Some circles already call this 'the first technological war' to break out in the digital era.

"It would appear that rapid digital transformation and technologies that are quickly changing industries, markets and professions, are designed to expand the horizons for anyone who is willing and open to change. Unfortunately, here too barriers are being built and direct bans on high-tech asset purchases are being imposed. It has come to the point where even the number of foreign students for certain specialties is limited. Frankly, I find it hard to wrap my mind around this fact. Nevertheless, this is all happening in reality. Surprising, but true.

"Monopoly is invariably about concentrating revenue in the hands of a few at the expense of everyone else. In this sense, attempts to monopolize an innovation-driven technology wave and to limit access to its fruits take the problems of global inequality between countries and regions and within states to a whole new level. This, as we all know, is the main source of instability. It is not just about the level of income or financial inequality, but fundamental differences in opportunities for people.

"In essence, an attempt is being made to build two worlds, the gap between which is constantly widening. In this situation, certain people have access to the most advanced systems of education and healthcare and modern technology, while others have few prospects or even chances to break out of poverty, with some people balancing on the verge of survival…

"Today we are facing two extremes, two possible scenarios for further development. The first is the degeneration of the universalist globalisation model and its turning into a parody, a caricature of itself, where common international rules are replaced with the laws, administrative and judicial mechanisms of one country or a group of influential states. I state with regret that this is what the US is doing today when it extends its jurisdiction to the entire world. Incidentally, I spoke about this 12 years ago. Such a model not only contradicts the logic of normal interstate communication and the shaping realities of a complicated multipolar world but, most importantly, it does not meet the goals of the future.

"The second scenario is a fragmentation of the global economic space by a policy of completely unlimited economic egoism and a forced breakdown. But this is the road to endless conflict, trade wars and maybe not just trade wars. Figuratively, this is the road to the ultimate fight of all against all.

"So what is the solution? I am referring to a real solution rather than utopian or ephemeral one. Obviously, new agreements will be needed for drafting a more stable and fair development model. These agreements should not only be written clearly but should also be observed by all participants. However, I am convinced that talk about an economic world order like this will remain wishful thinking unless we return to the center of the discussion, that is, notions like sovereignty, the unconditional right of every country to its own development road and, let me add, responsibility for universal sustainable development, not just for one's own development."

(Kremlin.ru, June 7, 2019)

Read More:

  • Russia has offered Huawei to consider the option of using a Russian software ecosystem for various devices of the Chinese corporation, a source familiar of details of the meeting between Russian Telecom Minister Konstantin Noskov and Deputy Chairman of Huawei Board Guo Ping told TASS. (Tass.com, June 11, 2019; read the full article)

  • China-Russia relations are increasingly mature, stable and resilient, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here on Monday after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Xinhuanet.com, May 14, 2019; read the full article)

  • Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed to strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between the two countries. (Xinhuanet.com, May 14, 2019; read the full article)

US Dollar

Commenting on the position occupied by the US Dollar in international commerce, Putin told the plenary session of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum:

"With regard to finance, the main global institutions were created as part of the Bretton Woods system 75 years ago. The Jamaican currency system that replaced it in the 1970s confirmed the preference of the US dollar but, in fact, failed to resolve the key problems, primarily, the balance of currency relations and trade exchanges. New economic centers have appeared since then, the role of regional currencies has increased, and the balance of forces and interests has changed. Clearly, in the wake of these profound changes, international financial organizations need to adapt and reconsider the role of the dollar, which, as a global reserve currency, has now become an instrument of pressure exerted by the issuing country on the rest of the world.

"Incidentally, I believe the US financial authorities and political centers are making a big mistake as they are undermining their own competitive edge that appeared after the creation of the Bretton Woods system. Confidence in the dollar is simply plummeting…"

"… The existing model of economic relations is still in crisis and this crisis is of a comprehensive nature. Problems in this respect have been piling up throughout the past few decades. They are more serious and larger than it seemed before."

(Kremlin.ru, June 7, 2019)

Read More:

  • China's Vice President Wang Qishan has called on Russia to boost financial cooperation between the two states, namely by increasing the usage of national currencies in bilateral trade. In addition to this, Wang Qishan suggested supporting the Russia-China forum on investments. (Sputniknews.com, June 15, 2019; read the full article

  • On June 4, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's answer to a question from the RBC integrated newsdesk. During the interview, Lavrov was asked about Venezuela.

Russia-Venezuela Relations

Question: "US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter yesterday that Russia 'has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela.' Could you specify who we informed and who are we removing?"

Sergey Lavrov: "I was surprised when I read that. We did not inform anyone. He probably saw the article in The Wall Street Journal which was commented on by Rostec Corporation and our ministry. The article mentioned thousands of Russian experts that were withdrawn.

"We never hid the fact that our experts are engaged in the maintenance of equipment which was delivered there under legitimate contracts signed many years ago. The number was given: 95 experts went there to perform scheduled tasks under these contracts.

"I cannot imagine where they got the information that we 'informed' the Americans that we are removing our people. But this raises the question of the competence of the advisors who provide information to the US President."

Question: "So, is this fake news?"

Sergey Lavrov: "It is obvious to me."

(Mid.ru, June 4, 2019)

Read More

  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reported that he plans to visit Venezuela in the coming weeks. (Tass.com, June 13, 2091; read the full article)

  • Venezuelan authorities have announced that the country's President Nicolas Maduro may be expected to visit Russia soon. (Tass.com, June 12, 2019; read the full article)

  • Venezuela's debt to Russia amounts to $3.5 bln and Caracas is repaying it in good faith, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with heads of international news agencies. (Tass.com, June 6, 2019; read the full article)

  • Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Latin American Department Alexander Shchetinin has no doubt that Russia will continue providing humanitarian assistance to Venezuela. (Tass.com, June 6, 2019; read the full article)

Russia-Iran Relations

The US announced that White House national security adviser John Bolton will meet in June with his Russian and Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem.

In an article published in the liberal Russian media outlet Republic.ru, Russian expert Vladimir Frolov wrote that the meeting will focus on Iran, stressing that Russia is prepared to take in consideration and promote American interests regarding expanding the Iranian deal in terms of setting limits on Iran with regards to its regional expansion and aggressive actions via 'allies'.

According to Frolov, the question is what Moscow is going to get from Trump in return for its mediation role. The Russian expert concluded that the meeting between Bolton and the Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in Jerusalem, with the Israeli mediation, followed immediately by the results of talks between the US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin presidents at the G-20 leaders' summit in Osaka will make everything clearer.

(See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8111, Russia-US-Israel Meeting – Russian Expert Frolov: Moscow Willing To Play A Notable Mediation Role Between The US And Iran; The Question Is What Moscow Is Going To Get From Trump For This Service, June 11, 2019.

MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8113, Russian Expert Mirzayan: 'Dumping' Iran Would Be Mistaken, Since Russia Doesn't Know What The US Will Offer In Return, June 12, 2019.

MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8117, Pro-Kremlin Russian Experts: We Cannot Trust The US In Any Deal Against Iran; After The US Solves The Iranian Issue, Washington Will Come After Russia, June 13, 2019)

Read More:

  • All participants need to comply with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran's nuclear program, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, addressing the summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Tajikistan's capital of Dushanbe. (Tass.com, June 15, 2019; read the full article)

  • If Iran carries out its threat to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), that would deal a heavy blow to the global security system, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters following the consultations with the US State Department's Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson. (Tass.com, June 12, 2019; read the full article)

  • Russia has cautioned Iran against withdrawing from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Rossiyaskaya Gazeta daily after Tehran consultations on the nuclear deal. (Tass.com, May 30, 2019; read the full article)

Ivan Golunov Arrest


(Source: Meduza.io)

On June 11, Russia's Interior Ministry closed the criminal case against investigative journalist and Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov, after police officers charged him with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Golunov's arrest triggered an unprecedented outpouring of public and professional solidarity, as well as a sustained protest outside Moscow's police headquarters. After four days of support and demonstrations, the charges were dropped, and Ivan went free. Golunov spent the next few days with family and friends, and now he's spoken to Meduza colleague Ilya Zhegulev about his remarkable experiences over the past week.

(Meduza.io, June 15, 2019; read the full article)

Commenting on the Golunov case, Russian political expert Kiril Rogov explained on his Facebook account why Golunov was exonerated:

  1. The order came down from the medium level (albeit still high), though this setup has not been politically motivated, i/e it was not on the Kremlin's political agenda. This is a private initiative of some corrupt security apparatus officers, who's earnings, screw-ups and problems have been investigated by Golunov.

  2. The order was clumsily implemented and such clumsiness immediately became costly for the highest political echelon, which is impermissible bungling from the leadership's perspective, (if not [political] sabotage).

  3. The supreme leadership's political agenda (Putin, [Moscow mayor Sergey] Sobyanin could not entail such crap: (just when Golunov was arrested) Putin was holding a conversation with Xi Jinping and demonstratively almost "pardoned" [American investor Michael] Calvey, probably counting on the maximal international effect of these twin developments...

  4. X generation journalists, lacking their own publishing center, have preserved a mighty social net infrastructure and remain cohesive and influential. This serious net is able to mobilize human rights activists, attorneys, influential sources and so on…

  5. 'The Buazizi effect – Buazizi was a vegetable merchant in Tunis [in Tunisia]. The police confiscated his vegetables to make some more cash as they would customarily do each day in that local market place. Buazizi went into the square and set himself on fire. This lead to the collapse of 5 authoritarian regimes, which existed for decades and were perceived as unsinkable, (in Tunis, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen) and massive uprisings and protests in four others – Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco and Oman. In the Russian context the sociological surveys recorded a somewhat diminishing but a very high mass protest activity potential that still existed. Yet, this potential lacked a specific focus and a consolidation point and thus quickly ran out of steam, , thus the [authorities'] task aim is prevent such a consolidation point from emerging ( not to provide it with a Buazizi). This logic is evident in the story of [protests against building a church] at the Yekaterinburg park and now in the Moscow situation [with Golunov].

(Facebook.com/kirill.rogov.39, June 11, 2019)

Read More:

  • Ivan Golunov is free A message from 'Meduza' CEO Galina Timchenko, 'Meduza' Editor-in-Chief Ivan Kolpakov, former 'Novaya Gazeta' Editor-in-Chief Dmitry Muratov, 'The Bell' founder Elizaveta Osetinskaya, and attorney Sergey Badamshin. (Meduza.io, June 11, 2019; read the full article)

  • Golunov everywhere How state TV channels covered the end of Ivan Golunov's case at the top of the hour. (Meduza.io, June 11, 2019; read the full article)

  • Moscow police have arrested more than 500 people during a Moscow march against fabricated criminal cases and in support of Meduza journalist Ivan Golunov, OVD-Info reported. (Meduza.io, June 12, 2019; read the full article)

  • Photos: Police forcibly disperse peaceful march for civil liberties in central Moscow, arresting hundreds. (Meduza.io, June 12, 2019; read the full article)

News In Brief:

Low Yield Military Nuclear Tests

  • After the US asserted that Russia conducts low yield military nuclear tests, Russian MFA commented: "We consider claims that Russia may be conducting very low-yield nuclear tests as a crude provocation. This accusation is absolutely groundless and is no more than another attempt to smear Russia's image…" (Mid.ru, May 30, 2091; read the full article)

  • Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has declined to comment on remarks by the Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, Robert Ashley Jr., who claimed that Russia was 'probably' conducting low-yield nuclear tests. (Tass.com, May 30, 2091; read the full article)

  • The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) Organization and the international community know very well that Russia is strictly adhering to the agreement, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told TASS. (Tass.com, May 30, 2091; read the full article)
  • Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said: "The outlandish nature of the claim that Russia is allegedly conducting nuclear tests has already been exposed by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) and respected and reputable experts in the United States itself. Perhaps, after the Russian-speaking woman in Ibiza turned out to be a Bosnian national [referring to the "Ibiza scandal", after which Strache resigned as vice-chancellor of Austria], they feel the need to come up with something else." (Mid.ru, May 31, 2019; read the full statement)

  • "Moscow is carrying out the so-called subcritical tests of nuclear weapons," military expert Viktor Murakhovsky said, explaining that such tests are not banned and are conducted to verify the sustainability, reliability and modernization of nuclear weapons. Such tests also occur in the US, which refused to ratify the CTBT and has a test site in Nevada that is ready for testing nukes. (Tass.com, May 31, 2019; read the full article)

INF Suspension

  • Russia reserves the right to resume the implementation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at any moment despite the bill on suspending the agreement, Russian MPs told Izvestia. According to experts, the draft legislation submitted by Russian President Vladimir Putin is a signal for the international community that Moscow is ready to maintain the status quo, but it plans to fully ensure its security giving a tit-for-tat response to Washington's steps. (Tass.com, May 31, 2019; read the full article)

Oil Prices

  • Russia is not interested in very high oil prices, the price of $60-65 per barrel is quite comfortable for the Russian budget, President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with heads of international news agencies. (Tass.com, June 6, 2019; read the full article)

Nord Stream 2

  • New US sanctions against the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline primarily harm the German economy. Berlin will distribute gas throughout all Europe, and the USA is displeased, RISS expert Mikhail Belyaev observes. (Riss.ru, May 20, 2019; read the full article)

Russia-Japan Relations

  • The Abe administration has abandoned its plan of reaching an agreement this month with Russia regarding a peace treaty to formally end World War II because of continuing differences over the Northern Territories issue. (Asahi.com, June 1, 2019; read the full article)

  • Russia and Japan accused each other of military buildups as their foreign and defense ministers met in Tokyo for talks that failed to make progress on decades-long island disputes. (Asahi.com, May 31, 2019; read the full article)

Calvey's Case

  • The investigation into the case of the founder of the Baring Vostok private equity firm Michael Calvey should be transparent, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. (Tass.com, June 7, 2019; read the full article)