Press review: Macron meets with Scholz to talk Ukraine and Russia, Uzbekistan ink deals

  MOSCOW:  French President Emmanuel Macron travels to Germany to try to sway ally Olaf Scholz into rethinking Ukraine policy; Russia and Uz...

 


MOSCOW:  French President Emmanuel Macron travels to Germany to try to sway ally Olaf Scholz into rethinking Ukraine policy; Russia and Uzbekistan enhance strategic partnership with new deals; and East Asian powers look to strengthen ties at Seoul summit. These headlines topped Tuesday's newspaper headlines across Russia.

Izvestia: Macron tries to persuade Scholz to change his approach to Ukraine

Emmanuel Macron, who is currently on a visit to Berlin, is unlikely to persuade German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to alter his views on assisting Ukraine's military forces as Germany, where US bases and nuclear weapons are situated, has little to gain and much to lose in this situation, experts told Izvestia. At the same time, the seriousness of the problem is evidenced by the fact that Macron is the first French president since 2000 to travel to Germany for talks with the Chancellor.

Ukraine was a focal point in talks between the two leaders. The degree of support for Kiev has long been a stumbling block in communication between Paris and Berlin. The French president appears to have attempted to urge Scholz to take more active steps in support of Ukraine.

According to French political analyst Nikola Mirkovich, Scholz is driven by a concern for how military support for Kiev would affect his country, something Macron is not thinking about. Meanwhile, Mirkovich emphasized, NATO countries are trying to rethink their approach to Ukraine, which has been unproductive to this point.

"Thus, while Macron is talking about sending troops there, people like NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are calling for Kiev to be allowed to use Western weapons to strike Russian territory," he explained.

Regardless of Macron's "imperial ambitions," he is unlikely to persuade Scholz to change his mind, according to Vladislav Belov, director of the Center for German Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Europe. "He sees things clearly in terms of red lines: if a conflict breaks out, it won't be pretty, especially in Germany, which has US bases and nuclear weapons," he said.

Scholz refuses to send Taurus missiles to Ukraine, but after his term ends in the fall of 2025, his successor may take a different approach, says the expert.

Vedomosti: Russia, Uzbekistan reaffirm strategic partnership

In his third foreign visit since being re-elected, Russian President Vladimir Putin took to Uzbekistan on May 26-27. Like his first visit to China, this was an official state trip. President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev assured that the country sees Russia as "a key strategic ally." At the end of the negotiations, the parties concluded a number of agreements in the fields of economics, health, education and culture, film production and car manufacturing, Vedomosti writes.

The leaders discussed ways of developing cooperation in the energy sector, including nuclear energy, agriculture, technology and migration. Russia is currently Uzbekistan's second-largest economic partner after China, with trade turnover growing by 19.8% year-on-year to $2.4 bln in Q1 2024. Uzbekistan also plans to build nuclear power plants designed by Russia.

Uzbekistan is one of Russia's most important partners for expanding and strengthening relations in Central Asia, Director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations Feodor Voitolovsky told Vedomosti. The expert explained that along with the steady growth of trade volumes, there are also long-term prospects for deeper strategic interaction. As for the expansion of specific economic relations, Uzbekistan's presence as an observer in the EAEU also points to the prospects for cooperation in this area.

Uzbekistan is becoming an increasingly important partner for Russia, leading expert at the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics Daria Rekeda believes. Despite the fact that Uzbekistan is only an observer in the EAEU, and left the CSTO a decade ago, relations between Moscow and Tashkent remain pragmatic and mutually beneficial, Rekeda told the newspaper.

Izvestia: Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo try to jump-start relations

China, Japan, and South Korea have taken steps toward normalization, as their relations have recently become notably more problematic as a result of the latter two's rapprochement with the United States, which is consolidating partners in the geopolitical conflict against Beijing, Izvestia writes. Against this backdrop, Seoul held its first trilateral summit since 2019 on May 27. Despite Washington's goal to cut China off from global supply lines, the two sides agreed to resume stalled free trade negotiations. Meanwhile, experts believe disagreements over Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula's denuclearization are unlikely to help thaw bilateral relations.

The parties released a joint statement after the summit, in which they listed areas where they want to strengthen cooperation, including economy and trade, research and technology, sustainable development, disaster relief, and cultural exchanges. Despite the lack of any concrete agreements, the meeting itself was seen as a step forward in ties between the neighboring countries.

"Amid a new escalation in China's relations with the US, Beijing is attempting to deepen economic connections with both Japan and South Korea, despite their pro-American stances. The main goal for Beijing is to prevent the redirection of global value chains away from China in light of Washington's statements about the need to combat China’s excess capacity," senior researcher at the Center for World Politics and Strategic Analysis of the Institute of China and Modern Asia Ekaterina Zaklyazminskaya told Izvestia.

Kirill Kotkov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Far Eastern Countries in St. Petersburg, told Izvestia that there is progress on the economic front after the summit. "The parties will act based on their own interests, and here Japan and South Korea may go against the will of the United States," he said.

Meanwhile, the regional political situation has also influenced relations between the three countries recently. The Taiwan issue is a particularly difficult matter to come to terms on.

Ekaterina Zaklyazminskaya told the newspaper she believes that the current contradictions are unlikely to help "jump-start" trilateral ties that Beijing is hoping for. However, the conference marks the first step toward Tokyo and Seoul returning to an autonomous path focused on collaboratively resolving regional concerns. The expert stressed that this will allow Beijing to halt the process of establishing an alternative "bloc" of world politics and economy.

Vedomosti: Russia mulls excluding Taliban from list of terrorists

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice informed President Vladimir Putin that the Afghan Taliban movement (recognized as a terrorist organization and banned in Russia since 2003) can be removed from the country's list of banned organizations, according to Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' second Asian department Zamir Kabulov. Following this, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that the initiative to remove the Taliban from the list of terrorist organizations makes sense in today’s environment, Vedomosti writes.

No UN member state currently acknowledges the Taliban's control in the country. However, numerous countries retain informal relations with Kabul and have embassies in the Afghan capital, including several Persian Gulf Arab kingdoms, as well as Russia, China, and Kazakhstan.

According to lawyers interviewed by Vedomosti, excluding the Taliban from the list of terrorist organizations could set a new precedent in Russian practice. The final decision rests with the Ministry of Justice, which initiates and justifies the required action, partner at Rustam Kurmaev & Partners Dmitry Gorbunov told the newspaper.

The Taliban have been in power in Afghanistan for three years, and the country's economic situation is dire, but Russia and many other major countries are working with them, professor at St. Petersburg State University's Faculty of International Relations Alexander Knyazev noted. Since there are objective interests in strengthening ties with the Taliban, the expert believes that eventually it will be necessary to move beyond the current ambiguity caused by the group's inclusion on the lists of banned organizations.

"The court decision on this in Russia was issued in 2003, and a lot has happened since then. For example, a number of countries' intelligence services collaborate with the Taliban in counter-terrorism operations against the Islamic State," the expert noted. According to him, the Taliban's exclusion from the list will legalize Russian business interaction with Kabul. "So far, any business, establishing connections, signing contracts, implementing projects in Afghanistan, risks being accused of collaborating with a terrorist organization," he said.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Russian Internet economy grows by 40% in 2023

The Russian Association of Electronic Communications (RAEC) presented the results of its annual study on the economy of the Russian Internet segment (Runet), according to which it grew by 40% in 2023 compared to 2022. The Internet economy's contribution to the Russian economy in 2023 reached 17.1 trillion rubles ($192.86 bln). At the same time, it is projected that by the end of 2024, the Runet economy will have grown by 40% to 23.8 trillion rubles ($268.43 bln). The primary conclusion, according to RAEC President Sergey Grebennikov, is that the Russian economy has been able to adapt to new circumstances, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes.

"2022 was the year of global restructuring of all processes for the Russian Internet economy, and in 2023 the Internet markets adapted to a situation fraught with high risk and unpredictability. Negatively impacted markets in 2022 began to grow in 2023," Grebennikov said.

The Internet advertising and marketing segment by the end of 2023 showed a rise of 45% compared to 2022, with its volume reaching 564 billion rubles ($6.36 mln). The e-commerce segment in 2023 amounted to 15.9 trillion rubles ($179.26 bln), a 39% growth compared to 2022. This segment accounted for 93% of the Russian Internet economy.

Forecasts indicate that the Runet economy will grow by 40% by the end of 2024, reaching 23.8 trillion rubles ($268.33 bln). E-commerce is expected to be the main driver of growth here, as it is expected to increase in volume by 40%. Online advertising and marketing will expand by 35%, infrastructure - by 30%, and digital content - by 25%. The final dynamics may be influenced by such factors as the removal of tax benefits for IT companies, regulatory initiatives, inflation and changes in the ruble exchange rate, as well as the geopolitical situation, primarily sanctions restrictions on the supply of technological products and other sanctioned goods, as well as the ability to make cross-border payments, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes.


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Local Glob: Press review: Macron meets with Scholz to talk Ukraine and Russia, Uzbekistan ink deals
Press review: Macron meets with Scholz to talk Ukraine and Russia, Uzbekistan ink deals
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