Press Digest: Will meeting between Putin and Obama herald fresh start?

U.S. President Barack Obama will meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Sept. 28 during the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. Source: Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama will meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Sept. 28 during the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. Source: Reuters

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on international events, featuring analysis of the upcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in New York, a report on the Russian Defense Ministry’s response to a call for information about Russian soldiers in Syria, and an interview with Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin on cooperation in Syria.

Putin-Obama meeting could mark watershed in U.S.-Russia relations 

The Kommersant business daily writes  that for the first time since the beginning of the crisis in relations with the West due to the conflict in Ukraine, Moscow has achieved realistic results in its attempts to change America's and its European allies' hard line.

U.S. President Barack Obama will meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Sept. 28 during the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Experts are expressing cautious optimism, with General Director of the Russian Council on International Affairs Andrei Kortunov saying that it is "still too early to speak about any imminent normalization in Russian-American relations.”

“Separate local agreements do not change the general course, as has happened in the relations between the two countries on several occasions, said Kortunov. “One example is the joint participation in solving the problem of Syria's chemical weapons, which has not helped overcome the overall negative trend. However, the fact of the upcoming meeting between Putin and Obama itself is important. There are grounds to believe that it will not be fruitless and there will be some sort of convergence of positions," he continued.

According to Kortunov, this meeting will help reduce the intense negative rhetoric and begin the restoration of Russian-American contacts. And this in itself will be a great achievement.

 

Russian Defense Ministry explains presence of Russian soldiers in Syria

The Russian Defense Ministry has responded to State Duma Deputy Dmitry Gudkov's inquiry about the presence of Russian servicemen in Syria, the RBK business daily cites a source in the ministry as saying.

In the response the ministry confirmed the presence of Russian soldiers in Syria, but stated that they are not participating in military activities. Russians are present on Syrian territory in accordance with agreements made with Damascus, said the ministry.

These military staff work on the logistics aspect of the Tartus port, accompany supplies of military equipment and supervise the targeted use of the weapons supplied. There are no international restrictions on Russia's military-technical cooperation with Damascus, the ministry underlined.

Gudkov had sent the inquiry to the ministry on Sept. 7 after the mass media reported the presence of Russian servicemen in Syria.

 

Russian Ambassador to UN: ‘ISIS can be defeated only jointly and on ground’

In an interview with the centrist broadsheet Izvestiya, Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin cast doubt on the effectiveness of Western attempts to defeat the Islamic State radical militant group in Syria with air strikes.

"Even though there have been about 7,000 air strikes, the territory controlled by ISIS is not diminishing,” said Churkin. “This all shows that terrorism, especially a phenomenon like ISIS, can be defeated only jointly, by uniting the forces of all those who are fighting ISIS on the ground, in accordance with the UN Charter while respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states. And without the double standards of dividing terrorists into good ones and bad ones. For this Vladimir Putin is calling for the creation of a broad coalition against ISIS and all the other terrorist groups that are being armed in the Middle East region."

Speaking about the contradictions between Russia and the West, Churkin said that "obviously there are contradictions, but the goal of regulating the Syrian conflict, which has protracted beyond any reasonable limit, should remain the priority."

"The UN Security Council should not be occupied with regime change,” he said, “especially since the history of the Middle East in the last decade demonstrates that imposing recipes from the outside throws the countries into chaos and does not solve but rather intensifies the problems.”

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