Press review: Dems scramble to replace Biden and Russia continues to feed the world

MOSCOW, July 1. /TASS/. US President Joe Biden facing pressure to drop out of the presidential race following debate debacle, BRICS countrie...


MOSCOW, July 1. /TASS/. US President Joe Biden facing pressure to drop out of the presidential race following debate debacle, BRICS countries back Russia's grain exchange idea, and Iran heads for run-off election. These stories topped Monday's newspaper headlines across Russia.

Vedomosti: Calls for new Democratic candidate grow louder after Biden fumbles debate

US President Joe Biden did not look good in his first pre-election debate with former President Donald Trump on June 28 (Moscow time). For instance, he repeatedly stammered, mixed up words and looked lost while Trump was talking. Over the weekend, Biden attended several events where his main fundraisers gathered. Even though he vowed to win the election, according to the New York Times (NYT), many of his financial supporters were disquieted by his disastrous performance at the debate, sparking rumors about a possible replacement

There is currently no one inside the Democratic party who could rival Trump’s popularity, said Dmitry Suslov, deputy director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics (HSE University).

However, should a new person get the nomination, their rating could get an instant shot in the arm. "Yes, this situation creates a lot of uncertainty, but it is still better for the Democratic Party and its fundraisers," the analyst thinks. "With Biden as the candidate, it’s a guaranteed loss in the election," Suslov asserted.

In the current situation, installing a different candidate is nearly impossible as this move requires Biden’s consent, said Natalya Travkina, a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for US and Canadian Studies. She thinks that due to the stubbornness of Biden and his close circle, another option to replace him may be in the works - using the 25th Amendment - which allows the vice president, with the cabinet’s support, to declare Biden unfit for office. Forcing Biden out, though, would cause a huge scandal and deal a blow to the Democratic Party, Suslov thinks.

Political scientist Yan Veselov believes Biden has no reason to pull out of the race right now. Over the past couple of months, the incumbent president has been gaining on Trump in key battleground states, the expert reiterated. And so far, not a single high-ranking Democrat has spoken out publicly against Biden, while his family continues to be his biggest support system.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia's vision for grain exchange meets with support from BRICS members

Following this year's agricultural season, Russia will solidify its position as the leader in the global food market, the Russian Agriculture Ministry said. It expects record-high exports of wheat and sunflower and soya oils. Forecasts say that for the first time ever, Russia will be number one in the world in deliveries of barley and peas. After the 14th meeting of BRICS agriculture ministers, plans to create a grain exchange also look promising, yet harvest prospects are still unclear due to weather anomalies.

The ministry and BRICS will work on creating and developing a grain exchange as well as switching to transactions in national currencies. Russian Agriculture Minister Oksana Lut said that BRICS countries support Russia’s initiative on the matter.

In order to make these plans a reality, further integrating the economies of the group’s countries will be crucial, Alexander Tsyganov, head of the department at the Financial University under the government of the Russian Federation, told the newspaper. "Today, this group has a substantial but still unrealized potential, as well as interests which do not always dovetail for all countries," the expert cautioned.

Establishing a unified food market and grain exchange may proceed independently from transitioning to transactions in national currencies but a lot still hinges on resolving issues related to payments, Tsyganov added.

The expert also cautioned against drawing parallels with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). "Since all BRICS countries produce different food products, while oil, with all its differences, remains a single product," he pointed out. "What's most important is that a grain exchange may potentially unite both exporters and importers of grain, while the OPEC group by definition includes only oil producers," Tsyganov explained.

Vedomosti: Iran heads for run-off election as presidential field narrows down to two

The snap presidential election held in Iran on June 28 following the death of previous leader Ebrahim Raisi in a plane crash in May did not produce an absolute winner. There will now be a second round, pitting Masoud Pezeshkian (44.4%), a moderate reformist and former health minister, and Saeed Jalili (40.3%), who in the past was one of the main negotiators on the Iranian nuclear program, against each other. The vote is slated for July 5. Iran has only once before held a presidential runoff election, in 2005.

Pezeshkian’s small edge in the first round was explained by the fragmentation of the conservative camp at the election, said Vladimir Sazhin, senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Oriental Studies. "At the top, they are afraid of more protests, especially given the current difficult socio-economic situation," the expert thinks. Still, the result of the election is not a foregone conclusion: if Pezeshkian can get the nearly 60% of voters who did not show up for the first round, then he could win, Sazhin said.

Regardless of who wins the election, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will continue to have the biggest say in shaping the country's policies, including with regard to Russia and China, said Oleg Akulinichev, an expert on Iran and a co-founder of Mir Business Club. According to the expert, during debates, none of the candidates challenged the country’s current foreign policy.

He noted that Iran’s ties with Russia, China and other countries in the east will remain the same, adding that Tehran’s relations with this group of countries have a long history and are institutionalized. "By now, a legal and contractual framework has been shaped to bolster transnational Russian-Iranian ties on issues of economic and humanitarian cooperation as well as on issues of information security. Necessary political decisions have been made by the leaders of both countries for the functioning of intergovernmental commissions and establishing business ties," Akulinichev explained.

Izvestia: Macron's downturn continues after first round of French elections

Following the first round of French parliamentary elections, the far-right National Rally party has a commanding lead with approximately 34% of the vote, beating out the coalition of left-wing parties and French President Emmanuel Macron’s Ensemble bloc which have so far garnered about 29% and 21% of the vote, respectively. This is yet another defeat for the French president after his party came in second in the European elections, losing big to the supporters of Jordan Bardella. Still, a lot will depend on the results of the run-off slated for July 7, experts polled by Izvestia say. Then it will become clear whether National Rally will be able to win an absolute majority in the parliament’s lower chamber with its leader becoming the prime minister.

Gilbert Collard, a French MEP, thinks that Bardella has a good chance to win an absolute majority in the parliament’s lower house but only time will tell the breakdown following the second round. In any case, he stressed that the criticism against the party had missed the mark.

French political scientist Nikola Mirkovic concurred, pointing out to Izvestia the complete lack of objectivity with regard to the National Rally party in the French media.

That said, he thinks that it will be extremely difficult for Bardella to win an absolute majority. His party, the expert says, is counting on those who usually do not participate in elections to come to the polls this time to vote for National Rally.

The French people are jaded following years of false promises from Macron, Mirkovic said.

According to the expert, Macron was elected as neither the right, nor the left wing representative. He was a banker who claimed to be a socialist. Many saw him as a bastion of hope, thinking he could boost the economy and return the purchasing power to the people, all things he failed to do, Mirkovic specified.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US, EU seek to boost influence in South Caucasus

Over the past few days, the US and EU have noticeably increased their activity in the South Caucasus, proposing a Euro-Atlantic integration.

US Assistant Secretary of State James O'Brien has arrived in Azerbaijan. He stated that Yerevan, Baku and Tbilisi were invited to a NATO summit as the military bloc’s partners. Additionally, the diplomat urged Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities to sign a peace treaty and return to an open dialogue as soon as possible.

According to political scientist Alexey Makarkin, the West’s success in spreading its influence to the South Caucasus depends on how effectively it can resolve regional issues. But the US and EU are unlikely, for example, to help Tbilisi get Abkhazia and South Ossetia back or convince Azerbaijan to sign a less than favorable peace treaty with Armenia.

"The West can count on crowding Russia out of the South Caucasus and noticeably reducing its influence compared to the 1990s and the early 2000s. Yet it won’t be able to completely squeeze it out of the region," Makarkin thinks. According to him, countries in the region will conduct a multi-directional policy, largely maintaining ties with those who are more useful to them at the moment.

Nikolay Silayev, leading researcher at the Institute for International Studies at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), does not see any significant prospects for the West’s attempts to spread its influence to the South Caucasus. "The US and European Union have very little military and economic resources for that. Russia, Turkey and Iran can offer much more to regional players. For example, the US cannot offer working security guarantees even to Ukraine, so moreover it is not going to promise anything to Armenia," the expert stressed.

In his opinion, by becoming active in the South Caucasus, the West is merely trying to undermine Russia’s authority in the region. It cannot replace it, Silayev thinks.


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Local Glob: Press review: Dems scramble to replace Biden and Russia continues to feed the world
Press review: Dems scramble to replace Biden and Russia continues to feed the world
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