Press Digest: Russian and U.S. leaders discuss Syria and Ukraine in New York

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands before the start of a bilateral meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on Sept. 28, 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands before the start of a bilateral meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on Sept. 28, 2015.

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on international events, featuring reports on the first meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. leader Barack Obama in two years, the announcement of Russian counter-sanctions on Ukrainian flights over Russia, and the discovery of rivers on Mars.

Putin says Moscow is ready to restore relations with Washington

The first meeting between the Russian and U.S. leaders in two years has been held behind closed doors, the daily Vedomosti reports.

The discussions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his counterpart Barack Obama, held on the sidelines of the UN 70th anniversary summit in New York, focused mainly on Syria and Ukraine. After the talk, Putin came out to talk to reporters, while Obama declined to comment. The Russian president described the conversation as constructive and "surprisingly very frank."

Omitting disagreement about the future of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, the presidents agreed on the need to hold talks between the defense ministries of Russia and the U.S. in order to avoid conflicts during the possible operations in Syria, Vedomosti writes.

Speaking of Russia's possible participation in such operations, Putin said: "We are thinking about it. We don't rule anything out." However, he stressed that "any participation of Russian troops in ground operations is out of the question."

The Russian president told the reporters about a coordination center established in Baghdad, which aims to coordinate the efforts of regional powers in fighting against ISIS and other terrorist organizations.

Commenting on the statements of the U.S. and France that Bashar al-Assad should resign, Putin noted that this is a question for Syrians themselves to decide, but since the conflict is "deep" and "bloody," Russia, along with the support of the authorities (of Syria) in the fight against terror, will insist on parallel transformation of the political process.

The conflict in Ukraine was the second major topic of discussion. Commenting on the Ukrainian subject in conversation with journalists, Putin said that the U.S. has a sufficiently active stance on the settlement of the situation in Ukraine and "to a certain extent stands behind the Kiev authorities, is in constant contact with the Europeans, but we also have good business contacts with the U.S., between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Department."

Commenting on the subject of a possible isolation of Russia, Putin said that the Kremlin has said from the beginning that the policy of sanctions and isolation is ineffective in the modern world and is not reaching its objectives with regard to Russia.


Ukrainian companies to be banned from flying to Russia

The Russian Federation will impose tit-for-tat sanctions against Ukrainian airlines from Oct. 25, the business daily Kommersant reports.

This measure will be in response to the announcement of the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine, which on Sept. 28 notified a number of Russian air carriers on the introduction of a ban on flights between Russia and Ukraine, effective from Oct. 25. In addition to Aeroflot, major Russian carriers such as Siberia, Transaero, Rossiya and others have fallen under Ukrainian sanctions.

The press service of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine said that Kiev has not yet received an official notification of the flight ban for the Ukrainian airlines from the Russian side.

The war of sanctions will hurt Ukrainian airlines (Ukraine International Airlines has evaluated the loss from the paired sanctions at $35 million) and will damage Russian companies, but will benefit the carriers of neighboring countries – Belarus, Moldova and Turkey.


NASA discovers flowing rivers on Mars

NASA has announced the discovery of rivers on Mars, or, more precisely, seasonally emerging streams of salt water that do not exceed five meters in width.

The discovery was made through analyzing the images obtained by the scientific instrument High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the news website Vzglyad reports.

As Nikolai Zheleznov, a senior researcher at the Institute of Applied Astronomy at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Vzglyad, "If the Americans discovered stocks of real water on Mars, they may say, 'Here, in this place, in this area we’ll build our base.'"

However, the Russian scientific community is divided on the question of what kind of "water" was found on Mars and whether life is possible there. Experts interviewed by Vzglyad believe that this "discovery" remains unclear.

The website also recalls that on Aug. 7 of this year the Russian instrument DAN, designed for the detection of water on Mars and installed on the U.S. Mars rover Curiosity, found an abnormal "oasis" on the Red Planet – an area with an unusual surface chemical composition.

In June, the scientists involved in the same mission on Mars found traces of methane in rock samples from the planet – another argument in favor of the fact that life once existed on Mars.

Last December, Curiosity confirmed the existence of an ancient lake on Mars. In addition, scientists noted that the atmosphere of Mars could maintain a temperature above zero degrees.

In September 2013, Curiosity found that Martian soil contains very large amounts of water, which came as a surprise to some scientists.

In July of last year, NASA experts refuted one of the theories about the existence of liquid water on Mars, explaining that the cracks on the surface of the planet were formed by the seasonal freezing of carbon dioxide, but not water flow, as was previously assumed.

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