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October 4, 2018 No.
7696

Russia This Week – October 4, 2018

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 On The Week


(Source: Vk.com/politics_today)

In The News

  • De-Dollarization
  • Russian Energy Week International Forum
  • Putin: Skripal is A 'Scumbag'
  • Reactions To Trump's UNGA Address – Russian Analyst Danilov: Trump Has Disgraced Himself
  • Afghanistan-Russia Relations
  • Russia-Nicaragua Relations
  • News In Brief

De-Dollarization

VTB Bank head Andrey Kostin commented that Russian President Vladimir Putin supports weaning the country’s financial sector off the US dollar. However, the move doesn’t mean the complete phasing-out of the American currency.

Kostin's plan for the de-dollarization of the Russia consists of the following:

First, it assumes an accelerated transition to payments in other currencies when carrying out export-import transactions with foreign countries. The alternative currencies include the euro, Chinese yuan and the ruble.

The second step is the re-registration of the largest holdings in the Russian jurisdiction. The plan also envisages the placement of Eurobonds through the Russian depositary; and the licensing of all stock market participants so that they can act by the same rules.

The Russian Ministry of Finance has already supported Kostin’s plan, with the head of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Maxim Oreshkin, noting that the role of the US currency is already actively diminishing. The Central Bank of Russia is already pursuing a de-dollarization policy and said it will continue.

(Rt.com, October 2, 2018)

Putin: Skripal is A 'Scumbag'

During the Russian Energy Week plenary, Putin commented on the Skripal case.

Talking about the Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal, Putin defined him as a "traitor of the motheland" and a scumbag."

See the full video:

Russian Energy Week International Forum

The Russian Energy Week International Forum is taking place in Moscow and St. Petersburg on October 3–6. Its main theme is Sustainable Energy for the Changing World.

The Russian Energy Week is hosting Qatar Minister of Energy and Industry Mohammed Saleh Al Sada, North Korean Electric Power Industry Minister Kim Man Su, Serbian Minister of Energy and Mining Aleksandar Antic, Belarusian Energy Minister Viktor Karankevich, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto, Azerbaijan Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov and others. Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zangeneh was also expected to take part, but his visit to Russia was cancelled on the last day.

During the plenary session, Putin commented on the current growth of oil prices.

Putin said:

"The fact that the oil price is rising is not so much the result of our activities (compliance with international agreements on production cap) as the result of largely external circumstances: expected decisions regarding Iran, by the way absolutely unlawful decisions that are harmful for the global economy; this being a production decline in North Africa related to a number of political circumstances (civil war and the like); this being a production decline in Venezuela also due to domestic political factors and due to restrictions imposed there."

Putin then added: "Let’s put it bluntly, the [current level of] oil prices is in no small part the result of activities of today’s US administration. Those expectations from sanctions imposed against Iran, political problems in Venezuela… what is happening in Libya. This is the result of an irresponsible policy that is having a direct impact on the global economy."

Putin also said: "We [Donald Trump and Putin] had a very good meeting with President Trump in Helsinki. However, if we had raised the issue that we are discussing now, I would tell him that, if you want to find the one who is responsible for the growing [oil] prices, Donald, you need to look in the mirror… It is better not to interfere in these market processes so as to get certain kinds of competitive advantages with the help of political tools, and not to try to regulate the [oil] prices, the way it was in the Soviet Union. That does not bring about anything good."

Commenting further about the oil prices, Putin said: "President Trump assumes that the [current oil] price is high. I think that he is partly right… We will be quite satisfied with $70, 65, 75 per barrel."

(Tass.com, October 3, 2018)

Reactions To Trump's Address To The UNGA – Russian Analyst Danilov: Trump Has Disgraced Himself


(Source: Youtube.com)

Russian analyst Ivan Danilov viewed US President Donald Trump's speech at the UNGA as a defining moment in America's decline.

In an article, "This Is The Way The Empire Faded: Trump Has Disgraced Himself During The UNGA Speech" and published by Russia's State-run RIA news agency, Danilov wrote:

"But this is what no empire can survive it is this laughter when the laughter is contemptuous. In order to kill an empire you first need to troll it – USSR citizens know that from their own experience. US President Donald Trump's speech at UNGA is a marker, depicting the transition from fearful respect to vicious mockery…

"One can easily go on about the long list of inconsistencies between the noble theses of the anti-globalist Trump and the actions by his administration. This is actually one of the main reasons why he is being laughed at. The emperor turned out to be not just naked, but naked and fully dependent on the 'deep state,' which he solemnly vowed to dismantle.

"This does not mean that Trump does not have odds to be capable to run a truly independent policy and 'Make America Great Again.' There is chance for that, yet it will be impossible to earn back the lost respect from its adversaries and definitely its allies. The American Akela [the wolf-pack leader from Kipling's Jungle Book] has just missed and pretends that everything is awesome, thus aggravating his situation. Such fairytales do not have a good ending. And that why American journalists are so sad: Pax Americana is riding into the sunset accompanied by the unanimous chortling of diplomats and politicians from all over the world."

(Ria.ru, September 27, 2018)


Germany's delegation laughing at Trump, during his speech at the UNGA (Source: Youtube.com)

Russian MFA Spokesperson Maria Zakharova wrote in her Facebook account:

"Two themes formed the common thread in Trump's appearance before the UNGA: the necessity to protect one's own sovereignty and there is no alternative to defending national interests. It is notable that this applied not only to the US, but to all the world's countries.

"He, apparently, decided not to mention Russia on purpose. He merely said that Germany should immediately switch to other energy opportunities, because otherwise it will be dependent on Russia. Upon hearing those words, German delegation giggled."

(Facebook.com/maria.zakharova.167, September 25, 2018)

Afghanistan-Russia Relations

Afghan officials declared their readiness to meet Taliban representatives in Moscow. The exact date of the meeting in Moscow is yet to be defined.

The meeting was supposed to be held on September 4, but a few days before the meeting, Afghan officials refused to participate in the meeting.

(Tolonews.com, September 22, 2018)

Georgy Asatryan, an expert for the Russian Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, commented: "The US remains a monopolist of the Afghani politics, they have practically full control over the presidential palace in Kabul, it is useless to compete with them for influence over the country."

(Kommersant.ru, September 27, 2018)

Read More:

  • A senior official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said that the United States and Russia’s tensions on Ukraine are moving toward Afghanistan which according to him will have "negative repercussions" for the country if they begin here. (Tolonews.com, October 2, 2018; read the full article)

Russia-Nicaragua Relations

Last September, Russia denounced Washington's meddling in Nicaragua's internal affairs as well as Washington's intent to use the Security Council as a judge against this Latin American country.

In a debate convened by the US delegation, which chairs the Council during this month, and which was rejected by different members of this body, Russia's permanent representative at the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, stressed that this meeting had negative repercussions on Nicaragua.

He said that some members of the Security Council want to impose pressure over a sovereign State in order to effect changes; however, it is possible that, as a consequence of this debate, polarization in Nicaragua might be strengthened and increased.

Very likely, this is exactly the wish of those who promoted this discussion in the framework of the 15 member organism, added the diplomat.

Nebenzia also criticized the historical Washington meddling in the affairs of different Latin American nations and this includes using their position of power in order to bring this matter under the scrutiny of the Council.

If the United States were so worried about the situation of the Nicaraguan citizens, it would be logical that they would lift the restrictive measures that they imposed on this country for political motivations, noted the ambassador.

On many occasions, he added, the concept of violations of human rights is used in a hypocritical way, since the conflicts that are ignited from abroad are the very cause of these violations of human rights.

For this reason, the diplomat asked the United States to stop adopting colonialist tendencies to Nicaragua and use their position of power to attack the government of this nation.

Those who are trying to undermine Nicaragua's economy in order to provoke popular discontent are exactly those who foster debates like this one in the Security Council, stressed Nebenzia.

(Prensa-latina.cu, September 5, 2018)

News In Brief:

Russia In Syria

  • Russia is interested in the fastest settlement of the conflict in Syria and in the solution of the problem of terrorism in that country once and for all, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said after talks with his Finnish counterpart. (Tass.com, September 26, 2018; read the full article)
  • Russia’s losses over the three years of its operation in Syria have amounted to 112 people. "As of today, the losses of our armed forces in Syria stand at 112 people, with the crashes of An-26 and Il-20 accounting for about a half of them," Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the defense and security committee of Russia’s Federation Council and former commander of Russia’s aerospace forces, told journalists. (Tass.com, September 30, 2018; read the full article)
  • Putin: No military action in Idlib in near future, focus is to help civilians wherever they live. (Rt.com, October 3, 2018; read the full article)

Russia In Asia

  • Russia and India plan signing more than 20 documents at the end of the talks that Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a visit to New Delhi on October 4-5. (Tass.com, October 2, 2018; read the full article)
  • India-Russia to sign S-400 air defense system deal during Putin's two-day visit (Indiatoday.in, October 3, 2018; read the full article)
  • South Korea released a Russian-flagged ship, Tuesday, after detaining it in Busan on suspicion of violating the U.N. Security Council (USNC) sanctions on North Korea. (Koreatimes.co.kr, October 3, 2018; read the full article)

Sanctions

  • Washington blacklisted another 33 individuals and legal entities from Russia, who are linked to its intelligence agencies and the defense industry. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that he United States will never be able to dictate its terms to Russia by using sanctions. (Tass.com, September 21, 2018; read the full article)

Russia-Austria Relations

On October 3, Putin met again with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who took part in a ceremony to open an exhibition, titled "Imperial Capitals: St. Petersburg - Vienna. Masterpieces of Museum Collections" in the Hermitage Museum organized together with the Vienna-based Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum). (Tass.com, October 3, 2018)

Russia's Orbit

  • The referendum on signing an intergovernmental treaty with Greece to rename the Republic of Macedonia held in the Balkan country on September 30 has been declared void, Chairman of the State Election Commission Oliver Derkosk. "According to the voting results at the 2018 referendum, the decision has not been made, since half of the total number of voters on the electoral register failed to cast their ballots," he said. (Tass.com, October 1, 2018; read the full article; See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7589, Russia In The World – Russia-Greece Relations: Diplomatic Tit-For-Tat, July 26, 2018)
  • General elections will be held in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 7 October 2018. On September 30, Vladimir Putin met with President of the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik. The meeting took place following the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix auto race at the Sochi Autodrom at Olympic Park. Putin told Dodik: "I know that on October 7 you will have elections. I want to wish success to you and your supporters. I hope everything proceeds within the legal framework and successfully, and will contribute to further stabilization in the republic." (Kremlin.ru, September 30, 2018; read the full transcript of the meeting)
  • "Dodik remains Moscow's only ally, they trust him." Dodik is the man whom Moscow trusts the most in the Western Balkans, Belgrade-based newspaper Danas writes. (B92.net, September 28, 2018; read the full article)
  • On September 21, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a joint meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and the president of Republika Srpska, one of two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, in the de facto capital of the republic, Banja Luka. During the press conference with Dodik, Lavrov said: "The policy of some external actors who are attempting to make the Balkan region’s people face the choice – either they are with the West or with Russia – is absolutely unacceptable." (Sputniknews.com, September 21, 2018; read the full article; Kremlin.ru, September 21, 2018; read the full transcript of Lavrov-Dodik press conference)
  • On October 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. After the meeting, Vucic said that "we got everything we looked for." (Rt.com, October 2, 2018; read the full article)

Domestic News

  • Alexey Navalny gets another 20 days behind bars (immediately after serving 30 days in jail), and it could pave the way to new felony charges. (Meduza.io, September 24, 2018; read the full article)
  • Gubernatorial elections. The Kremlin is reportedly planning to ‘punish’ two opposition parties for winning a few races. Here's what that really means. (Meduza.io, September 25, 2018; read the full article)
  • Gubernatorial elections. Russians have elected several new ‘opposition’ governors, here's the likely fate that awaits these politicians, warts and all. (Meduza.io, September 25, 2018; read the full article)

Defense News

  • The Collective Security Organization’s first-ever joint air exercise Vozdushny Most-2018 (Air Bridge-2018) has begun in Yekaterinburg. It will be held in the Central Military District till October 14, with the CSTO member-states - Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan - taking part. (Tass.com, October 1, 2018; read the full article)