Press review: Putin toughens NATO, Congress dismayed by Biden’s Syrian policy – Press review


Vedomosti: Russia is not currently considering talks with Ukraine

Russian foreign policy was one of the main themes of President Vladimir Putin’s annual year-end press conference. In particular, the president stressed that Russia’s actions towards Ukraine depended on the need to ensure national security. According to Putin, the problem is that NATO continues to expand eastward despite its promises, writes Vedomosti.

Ukraine-related issues will clearly be one of the main topics of the upcoming Russian-American talks in Geneva, with the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe, said the director of the Strategy and Technology Analysis Center Ruslan. Pukhov, adding that so far it was not about talks with Ukraine itself.

“There will be a conversation with the Americans and depending on the course and the instructions that Washington will give to Kiev, a channel of conversation with Ukraine can be unblocked, even if it will hardly be initiated at the level of the presidents”, a- he added. noted Carnegie Center director Dmitry Trenin.

The fact that the date and place of a meeting between Russian and US negotiators has been agreed is a positive sign, the expert said. In other respects, Putin reiterated Moscow’s well-known position. According to the logic of the Russian leader, at present, the Americans are only ready to enter into talks under the threat of conflict, added Trenin.

So far, Putin has played the military and military-technical cards, but the latter is now taking a back seat as Washington is more impressed by the threat of full-scale conventional warfare in Eastern Europe than by the capabilities. of Russia to conduct nuclear missiles. attacks, Trenin explained. According to him, the conclusion is that Putin’s rhetoric and actions are a clear show of force, but it is linked to the desire to stabilize the deteriorating military and political situation in Europe.

Kommersant: Washington and NATO allies ready to discuss security issues with Russia, US envoy says

The United States and its NATO allies are ready to discuss the security concerns raised by Russia, US Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan said in an interview with Kommersant. On December 17, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a draft agreement on security guarantees with the United States and a draft agreement on guaranteeing the security of Russia and NATO member states. .

Sullivan pointed out that Washington’s willingness to interact with Moscow is a continuation of the first meeting between Presidents Joe Biden of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia, which took place in June. According to the envoy, Washington seeks stable and predictable relations but does not intend to give up its principles and values.

As for talks on security guarantees with Moscow, the United States will not compromise on its relations with NATO allies, Sullivan noted. According to the American ambassador, there are prerequisites for diplomacy that the allies of the United States and NATO are looking for. At the same time, the United States hears the concerns expressed by Russia and is ready to engage in discussions. However, the envoy hoped that this would be a dialogue rather than a situation where one of the parties demanded guarantees. The United States and its allies are ready for a dialogue and look forward to this conversation, the envoy said.

Washington is not ruling out talks with Moscow advancing discussions on Russia’s concerns, Sullivan added. In his words, the United States and NATO will raise their own concerns and worries in the dialogue with Russia, so that Washington cannot sign off on the draft agreements proposed by Moscow. Sullivan stressed that Russia is dealing with partners who have their own security interests that need to be taken into account.

Izvestia: U.S. lawmakers appalled by Biden’s Syrian policy

Members of Congress seek to control the Syrian policies of President Joe Biden. Many lawmakers are convinced that the American president is ready to make diplomatic compromises with the regime of Bashar Assad. According to media reports, the 2022 National Defense Authorization Bill contains a number of demands for the US administration, aimed at preventing relations between Arab nations and the Assad government from improving and Russia. to achieve his diplomatic goals, writes Izvestia.

Syria has never been a US foreign policy priority, said Alexey Khlebnikov, an expert on the Middle East and Russian foreign policy.

“New [US] the administration does not view the Syrian conflict as a separate important issue, but sees it as a side issue tied to more important goals, including interaction with Iran and efforts to resolve the nuclear deal, relations with Russia and Turkey and the need to ensure the security of American allies in the region ”, underlined the political analyst.

Orientalist Andrey Ontikov shares the same position. “Biden and his administration can feel at ease given that the United States maintains a military presence in Syria. Technically, the Americans are not giving up on the idea of ​​removing Bashar Assad from power, but the Syrian conflict is for them more than just a fight. against Damase ”, explained the expert. According to him, the current status quo should be fine for the United States. “Americans are comfortable in Syria and the big question is how to get them out of there. It can become a serious headache for Russia,” noted Ontikov.

Kommersant: the oil market is developing immunity to pandemic challenges

European oil prices rose again after falling sharply on December 20, actually returning to that month’s highs. The new variant of the coronavirus no longer has a significant impact on investor behavior, said experts interviewed by Kommersant.

Promsvyazbank’s head of economic and sector analysis, Yevgeny Loktyukhov, points out that prices are picking up steadily “with global markets, on the basis of news that alleviates concerns about the Omicron variant and new lockdowns.”

According to the head of the analysis unit of Zenit Bank Vladimir Yevstifeyev, prices are rebounding quickly because “the moderately positive outlook for the world economy is still there”. The expert noted that the hardened rhetoric of the US Federal Reserve went hand in hand with improving forecasts of economic growth, which created the conditions for a continued increase in demand for oil.

BCS World of Investment Asset Manager Vitaly Gromadin stressed that “the world is now better prepared for the threat of the virus”.

Loktyukhov believes that in the current situation there are no significant obstacles to prevent a scenario where prices will rise at the end of the year or at the beginning of next year.

According to Yevstifeyev’s estimates, oil prices will remain between $ 70 and $ 80 per barrel over the next few months. Gromadin noted, however, that the lingering energy crisis in Europe could also become a factor in rising prices in the oil market.

Vedomosti: pandemic strengthens Russian interest in medicine

Russian public interest in science has reached an all-time high since 2018. In 2021, a total of 64% of respondents nationwide said they were interested in the achievements of modern science, this which is 7% higher than last year, writes Vedomosti. , citing a poll conducted by the Nauka (or Science) television channel and the Modern Media Research Institute.

As for the scientific fields that fascinate Russians, medicine and biology top the list. In total, 38% of those questioned said they were interested in these areas. “Medicine and biology are the two most popular sciences because the world has been living in a pandemic for two years,” said Professor Nikolay Skvortsov of the Department of Comparative Sociology at St. Petersburg State University. “We keep hearing about health problems, we think about it all the time, fearing things related to medicine,” he added.

“For example, when humans first went to space, everyone started to take an interest in space,” Skvrotsov noted. If the pandemic eventually ends, he said, that interest could wane.

“After a period of actual destruction, science is now experiencing a revival, which directly encourages parents who wish to see their children become researchers and also builds people’s confidence in science as an industry,” said the director of Institute of Applied Studies of the Higher School of Economics. Political studies says Valeria Kasamara. She noted that the fight against the coronavirus pandemic requires scientific solutions, “which is why medicine and biology are the two sciences that Russians are most interested in.”

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