Press review: US-Japan relations enter 'new era' and Ukraine gets tough on mobilization

MOSCOW: The US and Japan uphold their partnership, Ukraine toughens mobilization rules and Russia successfully launches its Angara rocket. T...

MOSCOW: The US and Japan uphold their partnership, Ukraine toughens mobilization rules and Russia successfully launches its Angara rocket. These stories topped Friday’s newspaper headlines across Russia.

Vedomosti: US, Japan cement defense alliance

The partnership between the US and Japan has entered a "new era," according to a joint statement from US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida published on the White House website following the Japanese leader’s visit to Washington on April 10. Defense-wise, the sides agreed to adhere to the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and emphasized that its provisions cover the issue of the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyudao), which are the subject of a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing. The joint statement condemns any attempt by China to change the status quo in the South China Sea by force.

This facelift in US-Japan allied relations is the latest sign of Tokyo’s changing role in the Asia-Pacific security system, said Vasily Kashin, director of the Center for Comprehensive European and

International Studies at the Higher School of Economics (HSE University). How the US military and the Japan Self-Defense Forces interact going forward will be worked out by the higher-ups. Cooperation will involve not only the defense of Japanese islands but also the two countries’ activity in the entire region. The expert explained that this is yet another example of the American way of simultaneously boosting their strategic capabilities in a certain region and cutting their own spending toward this end by getting their allies involved. "Japan does have something to offer. It is ahead of all US allies, including within NATO, from the point of view of its technological potential. For instance, in the field of missile and air defense, the Japanese are on a par with Washington," the expert concluded

The changes in military agreements are motivated, above all, by what Japan and the US perceive as a threat coming from China, said Anna Kireeva, senior researcher at the Center for Advanced American Studies at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University).

Several weeks before the summit between Biden and Kishida, American news outlets reported that the Japanese government was trying to revamp allied ties with the US for fear that if ex-US President Donald Trump gets re-elected in November, this would become impossible. For example, Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton said in March that the former president may request reciprocal military aid guarantees from Japan, something not provided for in the 1960 treaty.

However, Kireeva thinks that this revamping of US-Japanese relations has no connection to Trump’s potential return to the White House as Japan was one of the few countries he was happy to keep close ties with. If he is re-elected, the strategic rapprochement between the US and Japan can be expected to continue, the expert concluded.

Vedomosti: What new mobilization rules mean for Ukraine

A package of draft bills on stricter mobilization was approved in the second and final reading by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada on April 11, the parliament’s press service said. Legislators passed the bill in the first reading on February 7 but after that, the document went to the parliamentary committee for further revision. Since then, about 4,000 amendments have been introduced. The bill was submitted to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky for signing and should go into effect in a month, some time in mid-May.

Ordinary Ukrainians are understandably tired of the conflict and toughening mobilization rules will only add to this fatigue, said Denis Denisov, an expert at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation. According to him, the document is unlikely to help the Ukrainian army because the country is in the midst of a deep systemic crisis. "The majority of those in the reserves will resist mobilization. That said, one should not expect that the bill will trigger a mass wave of outrage or that Zelensky’s standing will take a hit. A clear consolidating force is needed for that which is so far absent," the expert explained.

The Ukrainian people will not be happy about the new law, concurred Igor Shishkin, deputy director of the Institute of CIS Countries. It is precisely for this reason that the legislators delayed approving the document in the second reading, the expert added. That said, public indignation does not prevent the authorities from hunting down draft dodgers or deploying Ukrainians to the frontline.

Shishkin noted that the new law will also concern Ukrainian refugees residing in European countries where public opinion has already tilted toward deporting Ukrainians.

Izvestia: Russia’s Angara rocket makes history with successful launch from Vostochny spaceport

The Angara A5 heavy-lift launch vehicle has delivered the Orion booster with a mass-dimensional payload simulator and Gagarinets small satellite into low-Earth orbit. After two previous failed attempts, it was successfully launched from the Vostochny spaceport. The new Amur launch complex was tested out as well.

"It is always good to have another accessible carrier for the global industry. And for domestic space research, Thursday’s long-awaited launch is definitely important. Both the heavy Angara and Vostochny are paramount for achieving our goals. For instance, a heavy carrier rocket can deliver multipurpose communication satellites and orbital telescopes, and these are important issues for us," Andrey Novikov of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University explained.

"The new launch complex at Vostochny is important because it will ensure guaranteed access to space for Russia. With carrier rockets from the Angara family, it can be used to launch any useful payloads, vital for implementing the domestic program," Vladimir Bronfman of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center told Izvestia.

Izvestia: What to expect from first-ever US-Japan-Philippines summit

At the first summit between the US, Japan and the Philippines, the sides are expected to coordinate on how to counteract China, experts think. Joe Biden, Fumio Kishida and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will focus on the Chinese "threat" in the Asia-Pacific region. Manila and Tokyo want to secure Washington’s support in their territorial disputes with Beijing, while the US is using the allies to bolster its influence in the region. Earlier, following bilateral talks between Biden and Kishida, the US administration announced the launch of consultations on Japan’s partnership with AUKUS.

"Certainly, this summit should be interpreted in the context of the policy course on containing China. It is obvious that currently a new bloc system is being shaped in Asia. The United States is trying to expand its zone of influence, either by engaging new players or expanding the functions of its allies. In all US strategic planning documents China is viewed as an existential threat. The general statements that the countries aim to interact and boost cooperation will most likely serve as a cover for the model on synchronizing joint actions against Beijing," Konstantin Blokhin, leading researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Center for Security Studies, told Izvestia.

"The approach and mode of cooperation between the US and its allies in Asia differs from the way of cooperation in Europe - there, they wager on one all-encompassing structure - NATO. While Asia is a large number of partnerships with a small number of participants who together create this network of interaction. The way Japan sees it, this is convenient because it doesn’t tie it down and allows it to retain some flexibility. This is precisely why with the Philippines one shouldn’t expect something along the lines of Asian NATO," said Vladimir Nelidov, senior lecturer at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University) and senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies

Kommersant: Russian coal sector prepares for production cuts amid price crunch

Russian coal companies are likely to reduce production this year due to prices dropping to levels not seen since April-May 2021 this spring. Coal exports are becoming unprofitable due to growing costs of logistics, China’s import taxes and Russia’s export duties. While the companies hope that global coal prices will grow robustly this summer amid demand for electric power for air conditioning, analysts do not see this happening.

Maxim Khudalov, chief strategist at the Vector X investment company, thinks that the more expensive shaft mining of coal grade D and G is likely to decrease. "The market situation, high rates for unloading coal in ports, the temporary suspension of the reduction coefficient for coal transportation and export duties are the four riders of the coal apocalypse," the analyst said. "After the first quarter, we already see a drop of almost 5 mln tons in coal transportation," he explained.

Lowered output by the producers of power-generating coal is quite possible, says Yevgeny Grachev, director of the Price Index Center. He reiterated that the companies try to maintain production levels to the last because a decrease usually triggers increased unit costs. However, "without lowered coal supply and seasonal increased demand over summer we do not see any factors that may keep the price up," the expert added.

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Local Glob: Press review: US-Japan relations enter 'new era' and Ukraine gets tough on mobilization
Press review: US-Japan relations enter 'new era' and Ukraine gets tough on mobilization
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