Press Digest: New sanctions may be levied if militants take Donetsk airport

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently discussed Ukrainian crisis. Source: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently discussed Ukrainian crisis. Source: Reuters

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on international events, featuring analysis of the possibility of new sanctions over ongoing hostilities in eastern Ukraine, the current complications in Russian-German relations, and the challenge facing Chinese authorities over pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Kommersant

The Kommersant newspaper writes about the possibility of the introduction of new sanctions against Russia in the event that pro-autonomy forces capture Donetsk airport.

The newspaper's contacts within the EU organs have called the possible introduction of additional sanctions "a speculative announcement." However, they also did not exclude this scenario.

New economic restrictions, according to Kommersant, will be a real disappointment for Moscow, because in the last few weeks it seemed that the EU was gradually adopting the course of softening the sanctions.

"The decision not to cancel part of the sanctions is connected first of all to the U.S. position, which is interested in maintaining the restrictive measures," says Vladislav Belov, director of the German Center at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“This is one of the causes of Germany's tough stance, since Berlin and Washington are important strategic partners.” At the same time Belov also believes that the new sanctions will probably not affect the oil industry.

Meanwhile, Kommersant writes that the leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic have not only announced their plans to attack the positions of Ukrainian forces, but also expressed doubts about the appropriateness of further negotiations within the framework of the contact group (comprised of representatives of Russia, the OSCE, Kiev and the militias). According to the newspaper, this is the only format of interaction that has been efficient in practice.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reports that the primary issue in Russian-German relations is still the Ukrainian crisis. The destiny of the partnership, according to the newspaper, is being complicated not only by the sanctions, but also by the unhealthy atmosphere in Europe in general. The publication discusses the last telephone conversation between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, in which both leaders underlined the importance of observing the Minsk peace agreements.

The newspaper emphasizes that German society is giving a lot of weight to the dialogue, both as an instrument for solving the Ukrainian problem and for normalizing relations between Russia and Europe.

Recently, the German city of Rostock held the Russia Day forum, at which ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed his hope that the Minsk agreements would be implemented. In his words, Europe's wellbeing and stability directly depend on its partnership with Russia and the reciprocal sanctions only damage both sides.

Schroeder concluded by attracting attention to the necessity of returning to negotiations on the new architecture of European security. He also hoped that the EU would extend its idea of association not only to Ukraine, but also to Russia in order to establish peace, stability and wellbeing on the whole continent.

Novaya Gazeta

"The Umbrella Revolution is throwing down the gauntlet to Beijing," reads an article in Novaya Gazeta. The newspaper says that while the Chinese government is famous for controlling the internet and suppressing dangerous discussions in social networks, detecting potentially explosive messages via keywords and withdrawing them, this week the government has been unsuccessful: There were mini-blogs in China that continued reporting on the demonstrating youths in Hong Kong for several days.

According to Novaya Gazeta, the nucleus of the demonstrators consists of students and even senior high school students, who do not remember British rule. Beijing is very displeased: it turns out that it has not been able to educate the Hong Kong youth in ‘the right way’; that the youth "still sympathizes with the bourgeois disease."

Moreover, the newspaper adds that there are now many older people now among the demonstrators, whose numbers have grown since the government's first attempt to remove them. Everyone notes the strict discipline and peacefulness being displayed by participants in the movement: The leaders of the protest continuously say that it is necessary not to give the government the smallest reason for a new crackdown.

"China's government now realizes that it has encountered its boldest challenge since the student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989," writes Novaya Gazeta. "However, times have changed and it will be difficult to repeat the massacre for the government of the second most economically powerful country in the world."

Furthermore, concessions to the movement's members may have echoes in Xinjiang and rebellious Tibet, and appearing weak may threaten the position of China's President Xi Jinping. "Enemies of comrade Xi may gladly take advantage of his miscalculations in Hong Kong in order to weaken him," adds the newspaper.

Novaya Gazeta concludes that for now the Chinese leadership is refraining from using force and hopes that Hong Kong's ordinary citizens will get tired of the protests. But it is already clear that China's government will never agree to free elections in Britain's former colony.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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