Press review: Putin receives Congolese president and rumors fly after failed Bolivia coup

  MOSCOW:  The Congolese president visits Moscow for a meeting with Putin; a coup attempt in Bolivia fails to find domestic or international...

 


MOSCOW:  The Congolese president visits Moscow for a meeting with Putin; a coup attempt in Bolivia fails to find domestic or international support; and Russia sees mounting drone threat from Ukraine.These stories topped Friday’s newspaper headlines across Russia.

Media: Congolese president visits Moscow for meeting with Putin

President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso has held a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow. In over 25 years in power, Sassou Nguesso has visited Russia five times, including to attend Russia-Africa summits in October 2019 and July 2023. Also in 2023, his special envoy made a trip to Moscow as a member of a delegation of six African nations led by the South African president, which visited Moscow and Kiev to put forward a peace initiative to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Vedomosti writes.

Tamara Andreyeva, junior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for African Studies, says that although the African peace initiative hasn't produced tangible results, the mission to Kiev and Moscow had a deep meaning in terms of identifying Africa’s status on the international stage. For Moscow, changes in the representation and position of African nations at international platforms is important, particularly when it comes to voting on anti-Russian resolutions, Andreyeva explained.

As far as trade goes, the Russian-Congolese partnership has a lot of room for growth, Andreyeva went on to say. "For the Congo, the need to diversify economic cooperation is currently on the front burner," the analyst said. Meanwhile, there are bright prospects for Russia-Congo humanitarian ties. "The [African] country ranks second in sub-Saharan Africa in the number of Soviet university graduates. The large number of university graduates who speak Russian and hold high positions in the Congo promotes greater mutual understanding," Andreyeva concluded.

"The Congo is important for Russia not only because of the good prospects for bilateral relations. Denis Sassou Nguesso is highly respected both in Africa and beyond. That is why the parties focused on problems facing the continent, including food security, logistics corridors and ways to counter sanctions," Andrey Maslov, director of the Center for African Studies at the Higher School of Economics, told Izvestia. The Republic of the Congo seeks to pursue a balanced position close to neutrality, which plays into Russia’s hands strategy-wise, the expert added.

Media: Coup attempt in Bolivia falls flat

The international community has come out in condemnation of the coup attempt in Bolivia spearheaded by General Juan Jose Zuniga. Latin American leaders and organizations, as well as Western nations and Russia, backed President Luis Arce’s government, while the rebellious general found that no one supported him inside the country, Kommersant notes.

Pundits were quick to point out that the Bolivian government is not on good terms with the US, and that the Latin American country boasts major lithium reserves. Uranium One, a subsidiary of Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, won a tender for the development of a lithium deposit in Bolivia last year. Notably, after working with Russian companies, the Bolivian government said goodbye to its German partners in this field.

Viktor Kheifets, St. Petersburg State University Professor and editor-in-chief of the Latin America magazine, says that any talk about Germany and the West in general having a hand in the recent events in the Bolivian capital of La Paz cannot be taken seriously. Kheifets points out that foreign interference only makes sense when the internal situation inside a country is unstable. In his view, the split in the Movement for Socialism, where former President Evo Morales and incumbent head of state Luis Arce are fighting for power, is the key factor of instability in Bolivia at this point.

Whether the situation in the country will be stabilized depends on the two politicians finding some common ground, Kheifets told Izvestia.

Meanwhile, Yegor Lidovskoy, director of the Hugo Chavez Latin American Center, did not rule out that the United States may have played a role in the attempted coup in Bolivia. "One should be wary of more attempts to carry out a coup in the future because the US is dead set on changing the Bolivian government, seizing 25% of the world’s lithium reserves and eliminating an independent political player. On top of everything else, [US President Joe] Biden has incentives here, as he wants to maintain his approval rating ahead of the presidential election and give the appearance that he is a strong geopolitical strategist, which is crucial for the Democrats amid his collapsing electoral support," the expert explained.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia facing increased need to combat Ukrainian drones

Ukraine continues to try to carry out strikes on targets inside Russia using marine and air drones. Russian forces are countering these attacks while working to improve ways to combat unmanned vehicles, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

Lieutenant General (Ret.) Yury Netkachev, a military expert, says new methods need to be found to combat drones. The general notes that a Wall Street Journal article recently spotlighted Ukraine’s SeaBaby marine drones, capable of laying plastic mines in the sea. "This is very dangerous. In order to prevent such unmanned boats carrying mines from approaching Russian military bases and sea ports, we need to destroy them in the far reaches of our territory," Netkachev said. "Various electronic warfare systems, high-precision missiles, attack drones and small arms can be used against unmanned marine and air vehicles," the expert explained.

Political scientist Oleg Tsaryov, a former Ukrainian parliament member, believes that Russia’s defense industry and army need to improve technology to combat enemy drones. "Ukraine’s drone industry keeps developing and growing relying on Western funding, spreading this money out and using small domestic companies to make drones," he said. "It’s not just pointless but also destructive and dangerous to deny Ukraine’s achievements in this field," he added. According to Tsaryov, Western weapons companies and the private capital sector are taking advantage of Russia’s special military operation to test their new technologies.

Kiev is also seeking to achieve success on the frontline with the West’s assistance. Western media outlets claim that greater ammunition supplies to the Ukrainian army are planned for June, with Ukraine expected to get some 1.5 mln rounds of ammunition by the end of 2024. The New York Times reports that resolving Kiev’s defense issues will be a point of interest at a NATO summit in Washington on July 9-11. These talks are expected to focus on coordinating weapons and ammunition supplies to Kiev, as well as on training Ukrainian troops.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Iran prepares for transition of power

Iran’s early presidential election is kicking off on June 28. Four politicians are running in the race, one of whom - former Health Minister Masoud Pezeshkian - represents the reformist camp. Experts doubt that Pezeshkian will suit Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his candidacy could just be the result of some clever spin doctoring, Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes.

Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani and Vice President Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi withdrew from the presidential race shortly before the election. The need to consolidate the conservative camp was one of the reasons why they did so. Apart from Pezeshkian, the contenders now include parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the supreme leader’s representative in the Iranian Security Council Saeed Jalili and former interior and justice minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi. Opinion polls show that Pezeshkian is currently the most popular candidate. However, the same surveys highlight a large share of swing voters.

Russian International Affairs Council expert Nikita Smagin doubts that Pezeshkian will be able to win. "In fact, he’s not a well-recognized figure at all," the analyst noted, adding that the candidate’s experience as a minister doesn’t give him any kind of advantage. "Few associate Pezeshkian with the reformist camp at this point because he’s just someone sitting in parliament, which is dominated by the conservatives," Smagin said.

According to the expert, a reformist president is the last thing that Iran’s top leadership wants. "The authorities are focused on choosing a more or less predictable person who would be able to ensure a smooth transition of the supreme leader’s power," Smagin points out. "That said, the process should be as fluid as possible, with the system facing the lowest possible risks. A conservative would be the best option. I believe that Ghalibaf is the absolute favorite, especially since two candidates have withdrawn to help the conservative camp," the expert added.

Kommersant: Russian oil processing set to rise to record levels

Russia’s major oil companies will get an opportunity to significantly increase processing in July and August as refinery facilities damaged by drone attacks resume operations. Oil processing may rise by 8.5% compared to June, reaching this year’s record level of 5.6-5.7 mln barrels per day, Kommersant writes.

Russian oil refineries have faced a number of emergencies this year. In particular, a catalytic cracking unit compressor broke down at the Lukoil company’s refinery in the city of Nizhny Novgorod at the beginning of the year. Moreover, primary oil processing units at several major refineries were damaged in a series of drone attacks. Coupled with the routine preventive maintenance works at refineries in the spring, this made it impossible for the Russian oil industry to considerably increase processing.

Now, repaired facilities at the Nizhny Novgorod and Syzran refineries, which came under drone attacks in the spring, will make a significant contribution to rising oil processing. Analysts also expect the Novatek company to put the third stage of a condensate processing facility into operation in Ust-Luga.

The fuel market expects that all damaged facilities at Russia’s major refineries will be restored this summer, Viktor Katona from Kpler pointed out. "Higher capacity utilization is good news both for consumers and potential exporters," the expert noted.

The launch of the third condensate fractionation unit in Ust-Luga will considerably increase the naphtha surplus on the Russian market, while Novatek’s export capacity will receive an additional boost, Katona went on to say. According to him, kerosene produced at the Ust-Luga plant is supplied to Turkey for the needs of Istanbul Airport, while naphtha is exported to Asian countries.


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Local Glob: Press review: Putin receives Congolese president and rumors fly after failed Bolivia coup
Press review: Putin receives Congolese president and rumors fly after failed Bolivia coup
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