Press review: NATO mulls longer leash for Kiev and US, China grapple for power in Asia

  MOSCOW: NATO countries are leaning towards allowing Ukraine’s use of their weapons for strikes inside Russia; the US and China are fightin...

 


MOSCOW: NATO countries are leaning towards allowing Ukraine’s use of their weapons for strikes inside Russia; the US and China are fighting for influence in Asia; and the EU might be hurting itself by imposing tariffs on Russian grain imports. These stories topped Friday’s newspaper headlines across Russia.

Vedomosti: NATO countries inclined to approve use of their weapons for strikes inside Russia

An increasing number of NATO countries are calling for giving Ukraine official permission to use their weapons for strikes inside Russia’s 2014 borders. The United States’ approval may pave the way for the rest to consent, Vedomosti writes.

The US typically tries to make conflicts more costly for their opponents, Ilya Kramnik, research fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations, points out. In the current situation, Washington’s key goal is to preserve the status quo, ideally trying not to cross the line into a direct armed conflict, so it is gradually raising the stakes to persuade Russia to come to the negotiating table, the expert said.

However, in Kramnik’s words, the problem with such an approach is that Russia views potential conflicts through the lens of threats, not costs. As the US ups the ante, Russia will ask itself: "does it make sense [to respond] now or not?" "If the answer is 'no,' then it will stand pat, but once the 'yes' box is checked, the response could be very strong," Kramnik noted. As a result, if Western-supplied long-range weapons are used against military facilities inside Russia, the conflict will quickly escalate, the analyst warns.

Militarily, the West’s support is driven by the advance of Russian forces in the Kharkov Region, Sergey Poletayev, co-founder of the Vatfor project, stressed. He suggests that Kiev’s best chance to avoid defeat might be to drag Russia into a direct confrontation with the West. However, in order for this to happen, Western countries would need a strong reason, such as Russia attacking Western nations or using nuclear weapons. If Western weapons are used for attacks deep inside Russia, the country’s leadership would face a tough choice: respond aggressively or stay the course and be more strategic, the expert concluded.

Izvestia: US, China compete for influence in Asia

The Shangri-La Dialogue forum, the largest annual security event in the Asia-Pacific region, is taking place in Singapore between May 31 and June 2. The event brings together defense and intelligence chiefs from dozens of countries, including the US, the UK and China. This time, all eyes will be on the first face-to-face meeting between the US and Chinese defense ministers. Both parties are seeking to expand their influence in the Asia-Pacific. And the West is trying to persuade Asian nations to support Ukraine, Izvestia writes.

"Shangri-La Dialogue has become a major international platform for China to get on the same page with its partners in the Asia-Pacific region. Beijing’s increasing ambitions are evidently pushing it to protect its achievements while eyeing new opportunities that were previously out of reach" Alexander Mokretsky, senior researcher with the "Russia, China, World" Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of China and Modern Asia, said.

The Ukraine crisis will also be addressed at the event. "One year into [Russia’s] special military operation, Beijing developed and put forward its peace plan on Ukraine as part of a global security initiative. Li Hui, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s special envoy and former ambassador to Moscow, clarified the plan through various channels, along with other high-ranking officials. Since the special military operation continues, issues around Ukraine will be discussed at the Shangri-La Dialogue forum," Mokretsky noted.

The United States’ main goal at the event will be to reaffirm its leading role in addressing critical defense matters. The US may also ask its Asian allies to support its actions in Ukraine, Professor Saeed Khan of Wayne State University in Detroit told Izvestia.

However, thus far, the West has not been very successful in winning over Asian countries as only Japan, South Korea and Singapore - that is, pro-American nations - have introduced sanctions against Russia at this point.

Izvestia: Who will bear the brunt of EU’s prohibitive duties on Russian grain imports?

The European Union’s move to impose prohibitive duties on Russian and Belarusian grain imports will mostly hurt EU countries, said experts interviewed by Izvestia. They point out that Moscow's grain exports to the EU have been relatively small, and it will have no problem finding new customers.

"This decision was politically - not economically - motivated," said Leonid Kholod, former Russian agriculture minister. He suggests that Russia can easily shift its grain exports to other regions, such as the Middle East and Africa.

The new restrictions won’t have any significant impact on Russia’s foreign trade balance because most of the export-oriented supply chains for grain and oilseeds have already been redirected from the west to the east and from the north to the south, Darya Shvandar, associate professor at the Logistics Department of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, emphasized. China, India and Pakistan are the main consumers of Russian grain in the east, while Turkey, Egypt and Ethiopia are the key customers in the south.

"The European Union is simply trying to appease local farmers who protested against unrestricted Ukrainian grain imports last year. However, in fact, such sanctions won’t solve the domestic problems of EU countries," Natalya Milchakova, lead analyst at Freedom Finance Global, pointed out.

The introduction of duties on Russian grain will not help stabilize the situation on the European market because Russian imports were insignificant, accounting for about one percent of the EU’s consumption, said Irina Kiselyova, researcher with the Center for European Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations’ Institute for International Studies. Ukraine currently remains the main grain exporter to the EU, and it’s the exports of cheap agricultural goods that are undermining the market situation, making local produce less competitive, the expert stressed.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Gold prices keep climbing

Gold prices on global markets have reached record highs, exceeding the $2,400 per troy ounce level. The International Monetary Fund sees this as evidence that the US dollar is getting weaker. The Roscongress Foundation, in turn, said in a research report that more and more central banks are looking at gold as an alternative to US treasuries due to inflation, geopolitical risks and a desire to reduce dependence on the dollar, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes.

Expectations that global regulators, including the US Federal Reserve, plan to ease monetary policy, are propping up gold prices, Tsifra Broker analyst Natalia Pyryeva noted. At this point, central banks are being cautious with any announcements about reducing key rates in the second half of 2024. Until they actually do this, the expectations of rate cuts will keep gold prices up.

Gold mining companies are increasing production amid high prices, Pyryeva went on to say. According to Russia’s Federal State Statistics Service, the country’s gold output was higher in the January to April period of 2024 compared to the same period last year.

"The global price of gold depends on many factors, the most important being the geopolitical situation in the world and the global economic situation," Russian Jewelers' Guild Association Acting Director General Vladimir Zboikov pointed out. Given high geopolitical tensions, there is every reason to expect gold prices to rise further, the expert said.

Vedomosti: South African election unlikely to affect relations with Russia

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, may lose its parliamentary majority following the current election for the first time since 1994. General elections kicked off on May 29, and the final outcome will be announced on June 2, Vedomosti writes.

The elections in South Africa are being held amid a prolonged economic crisis in the country, highlighted by its 33% unemployment rate, one of the highest in the world. According to various estimates, half of the 60 million people in the country live below the poverty line. What's more, the crime level remains high in the country and the electricity problem is still unsolved.

If the ANC receives less than 50% of the vote, the party will likely form a coalition with one of the opposition forces, Vladimir Shubin, senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute for African Studies, pointed out. As for the opposition, it will face difficulties creating a coalition government against the current ruling party. "The Democratic Alliance, which largely represents white voters, won’t get more than 25% of the vote, which is clearly not enough for a majority. This is why I don’t think it will somehow affect relations between Russia and South Africa," the expert said.

Russia and South Africa have an important political alliance, particularly within the BRICS group. It is also one of Moscow’s major trade partners on the African continent; bilateral trade stood at $1.23 bln in 2023.

Africa expert Vasily Sidorov does not rule out a coalition between the ANC and the Democratic Alliance, which would swing South Africa’s foreign policy slightly more towards the West. "Still, I don’t expect the country to radically change its attitude to Russia," the expert stressed.


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Local Glob: Press review: NATO mulls longer leash for Kiev and US, China grapple for power in Asia
Press review: NATO mulls longer leash for Kiev and US, China grapple for power in Asia
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