Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin. Source: TASS
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper continues to follow the development of the Russian-Ukrainian gas negotiations. It reports that in Kiev the issues of paying off debt and future supplies on a prepaid basis have taken a secondary significance for the time being, making way for arguments about who will lead the government. Nezavisimaya Gazeta sources say that the candidate for the premiership, the pro-American and pro-EU Arseny Yatsenyuk, is not the best choice to negotiate with Russia. According to the newspaper, this was the reason why the signing of the gas agreement was postponed to a date after the parliamentary elections. The participants of the gas negotiations wanted to know at least the preliminary results of the elections in order to get an idea of the possible format of the ruling coalition.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes that at that time experts believed that Yatsenyuk's National Front would only win a few seats in parliament, whereas the main role in the Verkhovna Rada would be played by the Petro Poroshenko Bloc. However, the result of the prime minister's party became one of the sensations of the election: The National Front came in second, just behind the leader. In the opinion of Kiev analysts, the situation could have a negative effect on the gas negotiations: Yatsenyuk makes tough declarations about Russia and constantly doubts Russia's sincerity in settling the gas crisis.
However, Valentin Zemlyansky, an energy expert at the Center of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that political issues would most likely not influence the gas agreement. Moreover, the Europeans, particularly representatives of the Austrian and German governments, have expressed their willingness to help Ukraine find a solution to its financial problems.
The Kommersant daily writes that oil giant Rosneft has offered President Vladimir Putin an entire series of measures to support the economy during the sanctions and in the event of a crisis. A part of the measures seems to be a thrust not at the West, but at energy rival Gazprom, whose market positions Rosneft is trying to challenge.
The list of Rosneft's measures is mindboggling, according to the newspaper's sources. It includes limiting international cooperation in the use of Russian modules on the International Space Station, the ban on the final storage of nuclear waste from the U.S. and EU countries and the possible seizure of these countries' and their citizens' property on Russian territory as an interim measure for unfulfilled contracts. The list also suggests introducing the requirement for Russian oil and gas companies to repay their debts to European and American banks based exclusively on the decision of the Russian Central Bank.
The most extravagant idea, however, is the one to introduce a moratorium on returning foreign oil and gas equipment, which was banned from being used in Russian projects by the sanctions, regardless of how it entered Russia, that is, to expropriate technology from Western service and oil and gas companies.
The Europeans would suffer most from the implementation of such measures. Rosneft suggests studying the possibility of introducing a 100-percent prepayment requirement for gas supplies to the EU.
As an alternative, Rosneft suggests concentrating on the Asia-Pacific region, stimulating export to the region with preferential customs rates on gas to the extent of 10 percent (currently 30 percent), as well as giving independent gas producers in Eastern Siberia and the Far East access to the pipelines.
The Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper has asked an expert to explain why there were articles in the Swedish press last week about a Russian submarine in the waters of the Stockholm Archipelago.
"Recently a meeting was held between leaders of the Nordic countries with the participation of leaders from the Baltic states," said Scandinavia expert and blogger from the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad, Arkady Ryabichenko. "And the main issue at the meeting was Russia's armament and the Russian threat in the Baltic region. Or rather, it wasn't the principal issue, but it definitely left its mark. This is very interesting if viewed in the context of the news about the submarine. Three days had passed after the conclusion of the search, but the meeting went ahead."
"Now the main issue is Sweden's defense," states Ryabichenko. "In the past the Swedish military was preparing for total war with the Soviet Union. After WWII, at the beginning of the Cold War, the country developed its defense system, based on the theory of an imminent invasion by the USSR. But as time showed, this proved to be a waste of resources: In the 90s the Swedes officially admitted that the USSR had not been planning to invade Sweden. The country began disarming itself and reducing its army.
“Now the Swedish military is obviously not thrilled about this situation. And convincing the public that the army needs more resources can be done only with the presence of a Russian threat. Advocates of fortifying the army have no other choice, as well as no other enemy that can be presented to the public."
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