Press Digest: U.S. discovers signs of Russian military presence in Syria

The United States has uncovered traces of Russian military activity in Syria. Source: Reuters

The United States has uncovered traces of Russian military activity in Syria. Source: Reuters

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on international events, featuring reports on claims by the United States to have found evidence of Russian military involvement in Syria, as well as the formation of a new ruling coalition in Belgium, and analysis of the results of the recent Latvian parliamentary elections.

Kommersant

The United States has uncovered traces of Russian military activity in Syria, according to the Kommersant daily. American soldiers have confirmed a statement made by the Syrian opposition that they have seized a secret electronic reconnaissance center that, according to their information, was being serviced by specialists from the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Washington believes that these clues indicate Moscow’s direct involvement in the Syrian conflict, given that the information collected about negotiations and movements by opposition troops was allegedly handed to Damascus. “In the past year, government units have changed their warfare tactics, and the accuracy and efficiency of the attacks has risen noticeably,” Kommersant cites an anonymous source close to the U.S. military establishment as saying.

The Russian military has written off the Pentagon’s statements as “another provocation.” According to a Kommersant source at the General Staff, Syrian troops actively used the facility near the city of Al-Hara only during the Soviet period. Now the object is effectively abandoned, and the equipment located there is either already outdated or has been stolen by rebels, Kommersant writes.

In another article, Kommersant reports that political parties in Belgium have finally signed a coalition agreement. This means that a new government is to be formed four months after the country’s parliamentary elections, due to be held in May.

Cabinet chief and former Minister of Development Cooperation Charles Michel will be Belgium’s youngest prime minister in history and the first representative of the country’s francophone liberal party in that position since the mid-20th century.

The politician has already said that the government will get to work immediately; its plans include raising the pension age and restoring the budgetary balance. In Kommersant’s opinion, the authorities will also need to undertake significant efforts to prevent the “Islamization” of Belgium and to combat illegal immigration.

However, experts do not promise smooth sailing among the parties within the coalition. The right-central government, a substantial part of which is controlled by Flemish nationalists, is unlikely to take kindly to working with Wallonia, a predominantly French-speaking part of Belgium that traditionally votes for the regional socialist party. It comes as no surprise that journalists have already christened the long-awaited government the “kamikaze coalition,” Kommersant writes.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

Nezavisimaya Gazeta has published an article by political scientist Vladimir Olenichenko about Latvia’s parliamentary elections, which were held last week. According to him, the elections demonstrated that the Baltic countries are tired of confrontation with Russia.

In recent years, public and political attention has been focused on the rivalry between the Harmony Center party, which advocates friendly ties between Russia and Latvia, and pro-Western parties, which form the current ruling coalition.

Olenichenko recalls that Harmony Center outperformed the other parties in the 2011 parliamentary elections, although its leader Nils Usakovs was not granted the right to form a government. As a result, the party ended up in the opposition.

A similar situation unfolded in last week’s elections. Latvian President Andris Berzins made it clear that his sympathies lie with the parties in the current coalition. “Latvia follows the bloc discipline of NATO and the European Union, and it is difficult to imagine these organizations deciding to grant Usakovs a mandate to form a government,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

In Olenichenko’s opinion, it can be concluded from all this that the Latvian electorate desires change. The results of the elections show that the majority of the population “is experiencing moral fatigue from the artificially generated confrontation with Russia,” he said.

Read more: Pro-Russian party tops Latvian parliamentary elections>>>

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