Press review: West dreams in vain of 'decolonizing' Russia and Israel to cool spat with US

MOSCOW:  Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismisses the West's goal of "decolonizing" Russia as "dreams," lame...

MOSCOW:  Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismisses the West's goal of "decolonizing" Russia as "dreams," laments lack of diplomacy; Kiev hopes to have an Indian delegate attend the "peace summit" in Switzerland; and France tries and fails to pressure Brazil to take sides in the Ukraine conflict. These stories topped Friday’s newspaper headlines across Russia.

Izvestia: West rehearsing 'decolonization' of Russia, but 'dreams come cheap' — Lavrov

Diplomacy between Russia and the West is currently non-existent, and the Western side has exhibited no willingness to restore equal cooperation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Izvestia. He added that the West has been developing numerous scenarios for the so-called "decolonization" of Russia, but such a scenario is unlikely to come to pass.

"Over there (in the West - TASS) numerous scenarios exist for the decolonization of Russia. One can always dream, as our popular saying goes," the foreign minister stated. Lavrov emphasized that the results of Russia’s recent presidential election showed that "Russians have not become apolitical in the least, but, on the contrary, they want to stand up for and defend their own identity, culture, history and civilization, and that this determination is not only just being noticed around the world, but is also being perceived with an ever-increasing measure of respect."

"It seems to me that such fantasies about isolating Russia have already been scattered to the winds since we held the Games of the Future and the World Youth Festival. What kind of isolation did we see there," the top Russian diplomat remarked.

"Based on what will happen to Ukraine and how events will unfold now with the issue of financing Ukraine being slow-rolled in the US Congress, Europe may end up all alone at the tip of the spear in the [West’s] mission of inflicting a 'strategic defeat' on Moscow," the foreign minister continued.

In response to the question of whether diplomacy, as such, now exists given the current geopolitical background, the top diplomat noted that no trace of diplomacy currently exists in the dialogue with the West. "If we consider our interactions with the West, the answer is no. On that side, there is absolutely no willingness to restart equitable cooperation. The objective is to punish us, inflict a 'strategic defeat' on Russia, and 'isolate us,'" he said.

Lavrov declined to predict how much time may be left before a direct conflict breaks out between Russia and NATO, according to a "Doomsday Clock" analogy. "I won’t speculate on this topic. In general, I think that the Doomsday Clock idea is not very correct or useful. It creates a lot of hype and hoopla in the public consciousness at a time when what is needed is to calm down and act wisely," he said

Vedomosti: Israel changes its mind about spoiling relations with US

Four unnamed Israeli government officials told Axios that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to send a delegation to Washington next week to discuss the planned military operation in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Earlier, on March 25, Netanyahu canceled a visit by a delegation from Tel Aviv in protest against the United States' decision to abstain during a vote on a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The US' unwillingness to veto the ceasefire resolution, as well as Netanyahu's decision to send a delegation, occurred at a time when the argument about the "cooling" of US-Israeli ties was gaining traction worldwide, Vedomosti writes.

Despite the relatively negative dynamics of bilateral relations, the US-Israeli alliance is not in danger in the long term, Lyudmila Samarskaya, researcher at the Center for Middle East Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO RAS), told the newspaper. The expert believes that the current troubles between Washington and Tel Aviv stem from a personal misunderstanding between Biden and Netanyahu rather than a strategic one. "The current Israeli coalition has always been treated with some mistrust in the Biden administration. The right-wing radicals around Netanyahu have reduced his government’s ability to negotiate, but there will be no consequences for the multifaceted cooperation between the United States and Israel," the expert noted.

Andrei Zeltyn, senior lecturer at the School of Asian Studies at the Higher School of Economics (HSE University), believes that Netanyahu’s sharp about-face in his position is associated with increased pressure on the prime minister in both the international and domestic political arenas.

No real restrictions by the Biden administration on issues of military-political support for Israel should be expected, Dmitry Suslov, deputy director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at HSE University, told Vedomosti. "The situation in the Middle East has now become part of the US domestic political discourse. The election factor is the main one here. Biden’s unique situation is that no matter what he does, he loses support," Suslov concluded.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Kiev hopes to get Indian representative to attend 'peace summit'

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba arrived in New Delhi to discuss Kiev’s so-called "peace formula." The idea, which implies a unilateral Ukrainian option for resolving the dispute with Russia, is scheduled to be discussed at a summit in Switzerland. Experts told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that while India may send a representative to the summit, it is unlikely to change its earlier position on the importance of resolving the problem bilaterally.

Kuleba came to New Delhi for a two-day visit at the invitation of his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. In addition to talks with the head Indian diplomat, he will meet with Deputy National Security Advisor Vikram Misri and local business representatives. Upon his arrival, Kuleba stressed on social media the importance for Kiev of Ukrainian-Indian collaboration.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky held a phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, during which Zelensky, in his own words, urged India to participate in the upcoming peace summit in Geneva. Prior to this, the Indian Foreign Ministry reported that Modi spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, congratulated him on his recent re-election, and emphasized that dialogue and peace are the best ways to stop the military conflict.

According to Alexey Kupriyanov, head of the Center for the Indo-Pacific Region at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO RAS), India may send a delegate to the summit in Switzerland. However, he believes that such a decision would not change India's overall attitude, which will remain committed to settling the problem bilaterally. "Obviously, interpretation is key here. Apparently, the Indian delegation's involvement in the Swiss summit will be confined to mere appearances," he said, adding: "At the same time, Kiev needs to ensure a broad presence at the summit to indicate that this is a large-scale event involving more than just Western countries."

Izvestia: Macron fails in bid to influence Global South, turn Brazil’s Lula against Russia

France cannot exert pressure on Brazil over the Ukrainian crisis, according to experts interviewed by Izvestia. French President Emmanuel Macron's three-day visit to Brazil concluded on March 28, with the South American country welcoming the first French president to visit in 11 years. Nonetheless, the European guest failed to persuade Russia's BRICS partner to spurn Moscow and back Kiev.

Vinicius Rodrigues Vieira, a scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Sao Paulo, believes that Macron's purpose is to demonstrate France's power and influence in the Global South. According to him, France is seeking autonomy in decision-making, particularly in matters concerning Ukraine. As a result, Macron must cultivate positive relationships with countries that were traditionally under US influence. According to the Brazilian expert, Paris is attempting to establish links with the countries of the Latin American continent that would not be dependent on the US.

France has recently emerged as one of Ukraine's key allies. Macron has not ruled out deploying French forces to the combat zone, but later stressed that this does not necessarily mean actually doing so. Nonetheless, Russia stated that France is already preparing a military contingent for deployment to Ukraine, which will initially consist of approximately 2,000 troops.

It would be difficult for Macron to convince the Brazilian leader to start supporting Ukraine, because Brazil is a member of BRICS and Brazil has autonomy in decision-making in a direction that is opposite that of the Global North and the collective West, Vinicius Rodrigues Vieira told Izvestia.

France cannot put pressure on Brazil's government to provide support for Ukraine, Lyudmila Okuneva, head of the Department of History and Politics of European and American Countries at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), noted. "Since the beginning of the 20th century, Brazil's foreign policy has maintained a neutral position. Brazil is a sovereign country, and it is nearly impossible to exert pressure on it," she added.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia may face fuel shortage amid declining gasoline output

Ukrainian strikes on Russian fuel infrastructure have reduced Russia’s production of oil products, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Russian state statistics agency Rosstat anticipates a weekly production decrease of 7% and a yearly decline of double that. Retail gasoline prices in Russia are stable, but wholesale costs are expanding rapidly. Officials stress that there is no concern of a fuel scarcity in the domestic market. At the same time, experts believe continued Ukrainian attacks on Russian oil refineries may result in a gasoline shortage and the need to import the vital fuel. Since the beginning of 2024, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have carried out at least ten strikes on sites that process, store and transport Russian oil products.

So far, there is no threat of a fuel shortage in the Russian domestic market, but it could happen if production volumes drop by around 30%, damper payments to refineries are canceled, and oil product exports from the country are prohibited, Freedom Finance Global analyst Vladimir Chernov told the newspaper.

"Inflation limits the growth in retail fuel prices. At the same time, retail sales are regulated because it is a socially important factor. However, retail will be unable to disregard wholesale price growth for an extended period of time. Wholesale price increases will eventually find their way into retail prices. Now, retail demand is not particularly high. However, the changeover to the summer season will raise demand, and retail prices will also rise," Ayaz Aliyev, associate professor at Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

According to Finam analyst Sergey Kaufman, the market is currently on the cusp of a shortage, and damage to one or two more refineries may force Russian oil producers, for example, to buy gasoline from Belarus to meet domestic demand. However, the government's ban on gasoline exports limits the growth in retail prices, he noted. Furthermore, the peak demand season has yet to start, which limits the possibility of price increases, the expert said.

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Local Glob: Press review: West dreams in vain of 'decolonizing' Russia and Israel to cool spat with US
Press review: West dreams in vain of 'decolonizing' Russia and Israel to cool spat with US
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