Press review: Indian PM to visit Moscow and EU-Ukraine accession talks officially begin

  MOSCOW, June 26. /TASS/. Reason behind Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to Moscow; EU begins official talks with U...


MOSCOW, June 26. /TASS/. Reason behind Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to Moscow; EU begins official talks with Ukraine to join organization; and Armenia has no plans to join NATO. These stories topped Wednesday's newspaper headlines across Russia.

Vedomosti: Indian Prime Minister Modi expected to visit Russia for first time in five years

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Moscow in the near future, possibly on July 8, the Indian edition of The Tribune reported. This will be Modi's first visit to Russia since 2019. According to The Tribune, the trip is significant because it will be a standalone visit, not timed to coincide with the BRICS summit in Kazan in October. Modi is expected to discuss Moscow's position on Ukraine, as well as trade issues, Vedomosti writes.

According to a TASS source close to the new Indian parliament, the prime minister's visit will take place "in early July" and last for two days. Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov also told the press that "we are indeed preparing for the visit of the Indian Prime Minister."

This is Modi's second foreign visit after the elections, Head of the Center for the Indian Ocean Region at IMEMO RAS Alexey Kupriyanov told Vedomosti. He believes the issue of Ukraine will indeed be touched upon at the negotiations between Putin and Modi. "The Indian Foreign Ministry already familiarized itself with the position of Ukraine and its partners during the summit in Switzerland, now it's Russia's turn," Kupriyanov said.

The sides will shine a light on the armed conflict in Ukraine as India is adversely affected by it. New Delhi wants the situation to be resolved as soon as possible, but in the form of a compromise, Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation New Delhi Nandan Unnikrishnan believes. He told Vedomosti, however, that the Ukrainian conflict will not be the main topic of discussion between Putin and Modi. Russia and India, which claim to be the leaders of the global South, are interested in issues of global political development - reforming global political and economic structures with increased representation for non-Western countries, the need for which has been repeatedly mentioned by both New Delhi and Moscow.

Over the past two years, Russian-Indian relations have remained quite friendly and functional, Kupriyanov added. "The priority tasks, in addition to the creation of a sustainable payment mechanism in bilateral trade, include diversification and measures to find a balance in export-import operations, the creation of new production chains that will involve Russian and Indian companies," the expert noted. Meanwhile, Kupriyanov does not see any threat to Russian-Indian trade from the EU’s 14th sanctions package against Russia's financial messaging system.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Kiev’s accession to EU could take years

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced that on June 25, the European Union officially began negotiations on bringing Ukraine and Moldova into the organization. Head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Dmitry Kuleba said that after their conclusion Ukraine will only have three more steps to become a full member of the EU, implying that Kiev had already met all the organization’s preconditions for joining. However, due to the obvious non-compliance of the Ukrainian state with EU requirements, this process could drag on for many years, experts told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Ursula von der Leyen called the start of formal negotiations good news for the people of Ukraine and Moldova, as well as for the entire European Union, noting that the road ahead will be difficult, but full of opportunities.

In all key democratic parameters adopted by the EU - from ensuring the rights of national minorities to respecting freedom of speech and religion - today’s Ukraine falters, Professor of the Department of European Studies of the Faculty of International Relations of St. Petersburg State University Stanislav Tkachenko told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. According to him, the current situation is also aggravated by the prohibitive corruption inherent in the Ukrainian state as well as the economic catastrophe it is facing. In such conditions, the news about the start of negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU cannot be taken seriously.

However, according to the expert, the reports about the start of talks in Brussels could have been initiated in order to nudge the Kiev leadership towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict with Russia. "It is clear that there are ‘hawks’ in the European Union, but in general it seems that the countries there have already had enough of the consequences of the military confrontation with Moscow. Therefore, they could be giving Kiev an out, a chance to say that it won, if not on the battlefield, then on the diplomatic front. This would help make it easier for Kiev to start negotiations with Russia," Tkachenko believes.

Armenia rules out NATO bid, maintains CSTO membership

Armenia has no plans to join NATO, the country's parliament told Izvestia. The ruling Civil Contract party stressed that leaving the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is also not being discussed, despite Yerevan's difficult relations with the organization in recent years and statements by the country's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. According to experts interviewed by Izvestia, Armenia’s cooperation with NATO does not mean its relations with Russia and the CSTO have to go downhill.

"It is not on the agenda at all and never was," member of the Civil Contract faction Alexey Sandykov told Izvestia about Armenia joining NATO. According to him, since the 1990s a certain form of cooperation has been laid down in relations between the country and NATO; it is "as old as time" and has not changed.

Gegham Manukyan, Deputy from the opposition faction Armenia, told Izvestia that the country has been cooperating with NATO in various fields for many years, but this does not prevent it from having friendly and cordial relations with Russia or remaining a member of the CSTO. According to him, the parliament is not currently discussing the country's withdrawal from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which, in addition to Russia and Armenia, includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

"Armenia was one of the founders of the CSTO and an active participant in the organization. After 2018, the new leadership of Armenia and its actions have made things difficult. Yes, there are problems with the CSTO, with the position of individual CSTO members. But this would not have prevented the discussion of any and all issues had they been ‘put on the table’, which unfortunately did not happen," he added.

Turkish political scientist Iqbal Durre told Izvestia that if the Armenian leadership wants to join NATO, it will have to admit that it has no historical conflicts, especially with one of the alliance's members - Turkey. In other words, if Yerevan wants to strengthen cooperation with NATO, it will have to make some concessions.

Vedomosti: Moscow, Minsk working out details of new Eurasian security structure

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov paid an official visit to Belarus on June 24-25, where he held talks with his Belarusian counterpart Sergey Aleynik, as well as President Alexander Lukashenko and the speakers of both houses of parliament. According to Vedomosti, the parties focused on aligning the foreign policies of the two countries as well as exploring several Eurasian initiatives.

Lavrov's visit had three closely related thematic blocks - direct bilateral cooperation, including within the Union State (a document on the foreign policy dimension of integration was signed), the situation around Ukraine, and the framework of a new security architecture in Eurasia, the newspaper writes.

Vladimir Bruter, expert at the International Institute for Humanitarian-Political Studies, told Vedomosti that security in Eurasia is a focal point in Russia’s foreign policy concept, which is why it was the main focus of the negotiations in Minsk. The expert recalled that this agenda was also promoted by President Putin during his tour of Southeast Asian countries. From the point of view of Russian interests, security in the region cannot be fragmented, the expert noted.

Another pressing problem in Russian-Belarusian relations is the circumvention of Western sanctions, Bruter added. "This is not surprising - all states are primarily concerned with the problem of their own survival and, if possible, getting something for themselves," he said.

According to Bruter, the success of Russia-Belarus integration can be assessed only after the end of the special operation in Ukraine. "Our country is facing a complex and divisive challenge. All the forces of the state are aimed at overcoming it. We can talk about everything else only after it is finished," the expert concluded.

Izvestia: BRICS working on platform for payments in digital national currencies

Russia is working on launching the BRICS Bridge platform for payments in national currencies, including digital, together with central banks of the BRICS countries, Deputy Finance Minister Ivan Chebeskov told Izvestia. The initiative may include the digital ruble, yuan or rial. The new system is expected to facilitate direct transactions between countries and will reduce the impact of Western sanctions on international payments, which has become especially relevant against the backdrop of new restrictions against the Russian analog of SWIFT.

Tools for independent settlements between BRICS countries are more important than ever amid Western sanctions, member of the General Council of Business Russia Alexey Dolmatov told the newspaper. A single platform based on digital and financial assets will make payments impersonal and, as a result, independent, he explained. According to him, this will help reduce the influence of third countries on international payments.

Russia and its partners are also discussing other options for settlement. For example, a single BRICS digital currency, which could link its exchange rate to a basket of currencies of the member states of the association.

The use of national digital currencies through the new platform will allow direct settlements between partners from different countries, Head of Project and Structured Finance Ratings at ACRA Rating Agency Timur Iskandarov told Izvestia. According to him, the initiative would also help to significantly increase the speed of transactions and reduce the number of intermediaries. In general, the initiators of the project position it as a competitor to SWIFT, the expert said.

The expert believes that test transactions using digital national currencies could be conducted as early as 2025. In his opinion, Russia, China, and India could be the first to launch them.

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Press review: Indian PM to visit Moscow and EU-Ukraine accession talks officially begin
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