Press review: Will China join a military alliance with Russia and the oil market is waiting for OPEC+ – Press review
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: China reluctant to join military alliance with Russia
China does not plan to create a united front with Russia against NATO, the Chinese Defense Ministry said. His spokesman stressed that the military ties between the two powers served as the basis for a strategic partnership. However, the parties stick to the principle of non-participation in alliances and do not want any confrontation. The statement was aimed at calming foreign media and Chinese experts, who still remember Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remark that a Russian-Chinese alliance was not ruled out. Basically, by rejecting this option, Beijing suggests to Washington that it still hopes to iron out differences with it.
Vasily Kashin, a senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Far Eastern Studies, told Nezavissimaya Gazeta that Russian and Chinese foreign policy rhetoric has long criticized the mere idea of alliances. They noted that the bloc concept was outdated and Russia described NATO as an outdated and irrelevant organization. However, Moscow has allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a post-Soviet security bloc. In turn, China has also castigated the US alliance system. “Therefore, it is impossible for the parties to admit that they could create an alliance. Even if their relationship has characteristics of an alliance, their rhetoric will be: ‘It’s something else, it’s a very close partnership , [simply] mutual aid and friendship.”
In fact, Russia and China have commitments under a 2001 treaty, which states that in the event of danger to either party, consultations must take place on ways to eliminate this threat. “If we look at the US-Japan treaty or the NATO treaty, the commitments there are also vague. The wording of the Russian-Chinese treaty does not differ so much from them,” Kashin noted. Why has this issue been raised now? According to Kashin, the pressure on Russia and China has intensified. And all talk of a possible alliance is just a way to intimidate opponents.
Izvestia: Market awaits OPEC+ decision on potential quota increase
OPEC+ countries are expected to increase their oil production in the coming months. According to experts interviewed by Izvestia, this could amount to 500,000 to 1.5 million barrels per day. The exact volume is expected to be decided at the OPEC+ ministerial meeting on March 4. Before the meeting, the monitoring committee keeps a lid on the plans, offering no recommendations on the level of production.
OPEC+ countries are watching closely the prospects for a recovering global economy and growing demand for energy, but on the other hand, they may fear a third wave of coronavirus, a rising oil reserves and an economic slowdown in India and China, experts said. Izvestia. However, the increase in black gold production by this volume will not affect the price, which will remain above $60, analysts predicted. “The fact that there are no recommendations is good news locally for the markets. Production is expected to increase by 1.5 million barrels per day and today this has not has not been announced. There is an intrigue that this would trigger increased volatility, “said the head of the analytical department of Alpari, Alexander Razuvayev told the newspaper.
The final OPEC+ decision on March 4 could hinge on the balance between supply and demand, said Artem Deev, who heads the analytics department at AMarkets. “Most likely, a decision will be made to only increase production by 500,000 barrels per day in April to keep up with future momentum. This decision by the alliance will not destabilize prices, which will remain at $60-63 on barrel”. notes the analyst. Even if OPEC+ decides to increase oil production by 1.5 million barrels per day, it will not ruin the market but will smooth the balance between supply and demand, Razuvayev said.
Nezavisimaïa Gazeta: the coup of Sputnik V turns into a political battle in Moldova
Moldova has launched a vaccination campaign against the coronavirus. President Maia Sandu said that 10-15% of the AstraZeneca batch received from Romania would be handed over to Transnistria. Transdniestrian leader Vadim Krasnoselsky told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that Tiraspol would accept help from Chisinau, as the Sputnik V inoculation has not yet arrived in the region. Meanwhile, in the autonomous territorial unit of Gagauzia in southern Moldova, doctors are refusing to be vaccinated against AstraZeneca and are waiting for the Russian vaccine. In turn, the leader of the Party of Socialists Igor Dodon promised Moldovan citizens to ensure the supply of Sputnik V. The vaccine is becoming an instrument of the struggle for power in Moldova.
Both President Sandu and former President Igor Dodon have sought to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Sandu asked Romania to provide it, while Dodon turned to Moscow. Both capitals have promised vaccine deliveries. The Russian government has also decided to provide the Sputnik V jab to Transnistria, which is home to 200,000 Russians. However, Bucharest was the first to respond to the request. More recently, 21,600 doses of AstraZeneca arrived in Moldova from Romania.
Meanwhile, Moldovans will be able to get vaccinated with Sputnik V only in private clinics and will have to pay for it. The European vaccine will be available free of charge in public hospitals. Thus, President Sandu made a gesture before the elections by approving the registration of Sputnik V, but at the same time she forced citizens to choose between a free European vaccine and the paid Russian vaccine, even if it is supplied to as humanitarian aid. Dodon had talks on this subject in Moscow. Delays in supplying the Russian vaccine are playing into Sandu’s hands, according to the newspaper.
Izvestia: The solution to the Armenian political crisis postponed until next week
A solution to the political crisis in Armenia has again been delayed; this time until March 8, opposition leaders in Izvestia said. Until that date, Chief of General Staff Onik Gasparyan, whose resignation is demanded by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, will continue to exercise his functions. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister continues to push for early elections, seeing them as a way to restore public solidarity. That said, tensions in the Armenian capital are rising. On March 3, stun grenades were planted around parliament, and police cordons and snipers were deployed on Bagramyan Avenue, where nearly 5,000 protesters gathered. Armenia’s ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan, told the newspaper that this type of public display of arms against peaceful protesters was unacceptable.
Under the law, the Chief of the General Staff was to resign on March 4 based on Pashinyan’s petition, and although not approved by the President, it was to take effect automatically. However, the General Staff said Gasparyan would remain in office until at least March 8, citing the Military Service Law.
The director of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute, Alexander Iskandaryan, noted that despite the harsh criticism against the military leadership, Pashinyan might reverse his decision. This is one of the key options to iron out the crisis, the expert said. “I believe that some negotiations on this subject, perhaps not direct, are under way at the moment. Although I’m not sure it will defuse tension in society. The reasons go beyond the simple dismissal of the former general. But somehow it might help settle the situation with the higher military brass, at least for a while. And the conflict will not go anywhere,” he said.
Vedomosti: Russia considering new tax for foreign IT companies
Russia is expected to decide whether to introduce a new tax on the activities of foreign IT companies by the middle of this year, the Vedomosti newspaper reported on Thursday, citing members of the IT industry, who discussed the issue with the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko last week.
The participants of the meeting, which was held within the framework of the talks on new measures to support and develop the national IT industry, were delegates from the Center of Competence for Import Substitution in the field of ICT, 1C, venture capital fund Almaz Capital Partners, Alfa Bank, Russian Railways, Mail.ru Group, Yandex as well as industry associations.
The new measure, dubbed Digital Tax, is part of a second set of measures aimed at supporting the Russian IT industry. This involves levying an additional fee on global companies that use Russian citizens’ data and develop advertising policy in the country. One example is analyzing user behavior on the internet to launch contextual advertising, the sources say.
The money raised would be used to support the Russian IT industry. The country’s lawmakers plan to adopt a decision on the proposed measure by mid-2021. The law, according to which foreign companies selling digital content on the Internet in Russia are required to pay a value-added tax of 18 %, entered into force on January 1, 2017.
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