Press Digest: U.S. Senate passes act recognizing Ukraine as non-NATO ally

The U.S. Congress on Dec. 11. Source: AP

The U.S. Congress on Dec. 11. Source: AP

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on international events, featuring a report on the approval of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act by the U.S. Senate, as well as analysis of the continued stalling of negotiations over the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the dispute between Russia and the U.S. over the use of long-range nuclear missiles.

Moskovsky Komsomolets 

The tabloid newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reports on the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, approved by the upper house of the U.S. Congress on Dec. 11, which introduces changes to the law on foreign assistance of 1961 and recognizes Ukraine, as well as Georgia and Moldova, as Washington's main allies outside NATO.

The newspaper explains that the bill includes giving Kiev aid in the military, defense and energy sectors. In particular, Barack Obama now has the option of sending Kiev weaponry, primarily anti-tank and armor-piercing equipment. The U.S. government has allotted $350 million for this purpose. Moskovsky Komsomolets adds that the bill also grants the U.S. executive branch the power to "procure and transport emergency fuel reserves" to satisfy Ukraine's needs, including "reserve gas supplies from Europe."

The act also gives the U.S. president the right to introduce sanctions against Gazprom, Rosoboronexport and other Russian companies. Moskovsky Komsomolets concludes by writing that earlier Barack Obama had doubted the expediency of introducing new sanctions against Russia.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily newspaper reports that the session of the contact group that is regulating the situation in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine may again be disrupted. The newspaper's sources in Kiev said that there is no point in holding the meeting because Ukraine and Russia have yet to agree on an acceptable way to end the crisis. Nezavisimaya Gazeta remarks that Kiev does not intend, under any conditions, to recognize the results of the Nov. 2 election in the unrecognized Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics (LPR and DPR), and therefore considers direct negotiations with individuals representing the breakaway republics in Minsk unacceptable.

Political analyst Taras Chonovil, in a commentary in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, explains that lately Russia has dramatically changed its position: Instead of its former support for the self-proclaimed republics, Moscow is now pushing the LPR and DPR towards Ukrainian jurisdiction. Kiev, in Chonovil's words, does not intend "to play federalization" and insists on the preservation of the country's unitary structure and territorial integrity. Taras Chonovil believes that Ukraine's government has decided to freeze the conflict and then plans "to gradually reintegrate the region" and return Donbass under Ukraine's full jurisdiction.

Kommersant

The Kommersant newspaper writes that the Pentagon has finally considered the possibility of deploying new American land-based cruise missiles.

The U.S. House of Representatives discussed the issue of Russia's alleged violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). During the session the representatives considered which economic and military measures Washington can take. The newspaper reminds its readers that in July 2014 the U.S. directly accused Russia of ignoring the agreement, saying that "it had violated its obligations not to test, produce and deploy land-based cruise missiles."

"In addition to diplomatic efforts, we are actively considering possible economic measures," announced U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, alluding to another round of sanctions, writes Kommersant. However, the Russian government rejects Washington's accusations, saying that the return to Europe of forbidden missiles will not go unanswered."

Experts interviewed by Kommersant are convinced that in order to regulate the disagreement it is necessary to reanimate the special control committee within the framework of the INF Treaty, which ceased functioning in 2003.

Some experts do not exclude a further escalation. "A return to the situation of the 1980s, when the treaty was signed, is possible," says Senior Vice President of the PIR Center, Reserve Lieutenant General Yvgeny Buzhinsky. "Considering the spiral that the relations between Russia and the U.S. are taking, this should not be excluded."

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