Press review: EU gas prices begin to fall and Putin calls to bolster ASEAN cooperation


Izvestia: Putin calls for boosting cooperation with ASEAN

Russia is interested in boosting security cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), President Vladimir Putin said, addressing the fourth Russia-ASEAN summit that took place via video conference. The key factors of regional instability include territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the possible deployment of previously banned weapons to some countries. For instance, US intermediate range missiles in Japan will create serious military risks for Russia and China, Izvestia writes.

“We maintain long-standing economic and political relations with ASEAN countries. There are good prospects for the implementation of major joint projects, particularly in the energy sector,” First Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Alexei Chepa pointed out. Besides, cooperation in the field of science and medical research is crucial for overcoming the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, he added.

Earlier, Vladimir Putin highlighted the need to strengthen regional security during the East Asia Summit. According to the Russian leader, following the termination of the Russia-US Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the Asia-Pacific was confronted with the possible deployment of this kind of weapons to the region.

“It is a well-known fact that the United States plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles to the Asia-Pacific region. In 2019, even before Donald Trump withdrew from the INF Treaty, the Americans had budgeted about $60 mln for the development of an intermediate-range missile. I think that they must have created such a missile by now though we haven’t heard official statements about its trials,” military expert Vladimir Litovkin emphasized. In addition, the US also has the Tomahawk missile with a range of 2,500 kilometers. In fact, it is an intermediate-range missile that did not fall under the INF Treaty only because the document covered solely land-based missiles, while Tomahawks are currently deployed on submarines and surface ships, the expert explained.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: India, China may exchange ‘minimum’ nuclear strikes

Spectators in India who saw the Agni-V missile at a military parade back in 2013 have now learned that it is capable of being used at night. The Indian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the missile could reach northern China but New Delhi remained committed to the principle of “minimum” deterrence and had no plans to become the first to use nuclear weapons. Experts point out that India’s territorial dispute with China has not been settled yet and New Delhi is concerned that Beijing’s new border law will flare up tensions, Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes.

The creation of a powerful missile arsenal in China is what triggered India to upgrade its own weapons systems. China’s new law on border protection, which regulates the way Beijing controls its 22,000-kilometer-long land border particularly with Russia, North Korea, India and 11 other states, did nothing to ease tensions between the two countries.

This is how Professor Sergei Lunev from Moscow State Institute of International Relations describes the current situation: “Strictly speaking, Agni-V cannot be viewed as an intercontinental missile, which is what India calls it. According to the existing rules, such missiles should be capable of covering a distance of 5,500 kilometers and are considered to be intercontinental.” “The rule was adopted during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, while India created the missile about ten years ago and it took a long time to start testing it. Nevertheless, they keep improving their missile program,” the expert pointed out.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India has about 140 nuclear warheads, Lunev went on to say. “India published its nuclear doctrine 12 years ago. The country made commitments not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, have a minimum amount of nuclear warheads, and sign and ratify the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. However, 12 years have passed and the treaty has not yet been signed. Moreover, none of the country’s political leaders has called for making the move,” the expert noted.

 

Izvestia: What G20 leaders will discuss in Rome

No global breakthroughs should be expected from the upcoming G20 summit, said experts interviewed by Izvestia. However, the meeting will make it possible to outline avenues of cooperation. This weekend, the leaders of the world’s major economies will gather in Rome to discuss climate change, the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the energy crisis and the situation in Afghanistan. Russian President Vladimir Putin will take part in the G20 summit via video conference.

“If we look at the history of G20 meetings, we see that almost always, there were two parts to their agenda, which included a reaction to pressing issues and a conversation about long-term trends in global politics. This is how it will be this time, too,” Russian International Affairs Council Director General Andrey Kortunov said. According to him, the first group of issues covers the situation in Afghanistan and cooperation in overcoming the aftermath of the pandemic.

German political scientist Alexander Rahr points out that the pandemic made mankind see that everyone needs to work together, but Europe opted for vaccinating its own residents, the United States closed its borders for a year and a half, and third world countries are left alone with their problems. “There will be a lot of talk, but what is required are decisions. They can be reached only when a single mechanism is developed. Multilateral schemes have been shattered and there is a need to start rebuilding them,” the expert said.

The leaders will also discuss the situation in Afghanistan, Chairman of the Board of the Valdai Discussion Club’s Development and Support Foundation Andrei Bystritsky said. “Consultations on the issue are underway but no common logic has been created yet. Reasonable steps need to be taken in terms of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and the creation of tools to pressure the new authorities,” the expert added.

Analysts noted that G20 nations were also divided on the “green” agenda ahead of the summit. According to Bystritsky, it is important for G20 countries to discuss ways to achieve a common climate goal, taking regional peculiarities into account. Kortunov, in turn, said that though the parties should not be expected to reach a consensus on the entire climate agenda, they are still moving closer to each other. “They need to consider synchronizing the timing of the transition to carbon neutrality and mechanisms of international cooperation,” the political scientist specified.

 

Kommersant: EU’s gas prices drop amid reports of Gazprom’s plans to fill European storages

Europe’s gas prices fell significantly following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pledge to raise gas giant Gazprom’s storage levels in the European Union. Still, even if the company steps up the pumping of natural gas into its storage facilities in Europe, the storage levels will remain at least half as high as they were last year, Kommersant notes.

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller promised to start the gas pumping process after November 8, once Russia’s underground storage facilities are full. Gazprom’s key European facilities are located in Germany (Rehden and Jemgum), Austria (Haidach) and the Netherlands (Bergermeer). Rehden, the biggest of them, is currently only 9.5% full and Bergermeer is 28% full, while the average gas storage level in Europe is 77%. The reason is that after an August accident at a Novy Urengoy plant, gas supplies to Europe fell and Gazprom started to fulfill export contracts by using gas from its storages.

Although Putin’s order was taken as a harbinger of an increase in Russian gas sales to Europe, in practice it may not be so. The matter is that Gazprom in any case needs gas stocks in Europe in order to meet daily peaks of consumption and implement its current contracts. In other words, it is still not about Gazprom supplying consumers with additional gas beyond contracted amounts but about a necessary step to ensure the implementation of contracts. What’s more, filling Europe’s underground gas storage facilities in November and December, when the cold season comes to Russia and gas consumption rises, will be quite a difficult task for Gazprom.

“Price trends will particularly depend on whether Gazprom will be able to considerably increase gas levels in its European storage facilities, primarily in Germany and Austria. They lack about eight billion cubic meters of gas compared to the average storage level recorded at this time in the past five years,” Dmitry Marinchenko of Fitch said. Other factors that impact prices include Asia’s demand for gas and the weather, he…



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