Press review: Delta strain hits oil prices and Belarusian-Lithuanian border faces crisis

Press review: Delta strain hits oil prices and Belarusian-Lithuanian border faces crisis

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Delta Variant has hit hard the Eastern European Countries Image © The Radical Outlook

Izvestia: Iran’s new president to focus on domestic affairs, regional security issues

Iran’s new president, the conservative Ebrahim Raisi, took the oath of office on August 5. Experts interviewed by Izvestia expect the new president to focus on domestic policy and boost cooperation with Moscow and Beijing.

Iran is currently going through two major crises stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and the West’s sanctions, which caused the country’s economy to collapse. The lifting of sanctions is linked to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Indirect talks between Iran and the United States, which began in Vienna in March, have been stalled for six weeks. Russian Permanent Envoy to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov told the newspaper that the JCPOA remained “the best possible guarantee of the nuclear non-proliferation regime’s integrity.” However, military incidents are escalating in the region, which may undermine the diplomatic process between Iran and the West, Adlan Margoyev of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Moscow State Institute of International Relations pointed out.

Iran’s foreign policy will significantly change now, as the country will abandon former President Hassan Rouhani’s pro-Western policy, Director General of the Center for the Study of Contemporary Iran Radzhab Safarov emphasized. According to him, Raisi will focus on domestic policy and regional security issues. He will look for partners, making a pivot towards China and Russia. “Under Raisi, Iranian-Russian relations will substantially expand and deepen in all fields. I think that under the new president, Tehran’s priority will be to get full membership in the Eurasian Economic Union. I believe that the North-South Transport Corridor project will be completed no later than in the middle of his second year in office, that is, in 2023,” the orientalist scholar stressed.

Raisi is expected to name members of the country’s new government in the next two weeks. However, Senior Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies Elena Dunayeva points out that it’s not the ministers and the president that define Iran’s policies but the Supreme Leader.

Vedomosti: Russia has no plans to send major ground forces to Central Asia

Russia will provide limited military support to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in case of attacks from Afghanistan, which will include weapons supplies, the use of warplanes and special operations forces. There are no plans to deploy major ground forces to the region. All this is clear from Russia’s joint drills with Afghanistan’s neighboring countries and official statements, Vedomosti writes, citing sources close to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Joint drills involving Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan kicked off in Tajikistan on August 5. Over 2,500 military servicemen are taking part in the exercise, including 1,800 Russian soldiers, represented mostly by troops from Russia’s 201st Military Base located in Tajikistan, as well as by the Russian Central Military District’s special operations and electronic warfare forces.

According to a source close to the Russian Defense Ministry, the participation of special operations units in the drills means that they will play a key role if tensions do rise. Along with statements concerning the 201st Military Base, which in recent years became a facility for the training of Tajik military personnel, this makes it clear that Russia has no plans to deploy major ground forces to the region, another source close to the ministry pointed out.

According to Chief Editor of the Arsenal Otechestva (or Arsenal of the Fatherland) magazine Viktor Murakhovsky, the Russian military does not plan to send major forces to the region even if the worst-case scenario happens. In such a situation, an operation similar to the Syrian one may take place, which will involve airstrikes and missions of special operations forces. And like in Syria, this kind of operation will include the limited use of unguided munitions that may prove effective given the nature of possible hostilities, Murakhovsky noted.

Kommersant: Delta coronavirus strain affecting oil market

Prices for European crude oil fell below $70 on Thursday as investors sold crude amid the spread of the Delta coronavirus strain and tough remarks from the US Federal Reserve System. However, the price of Russia’s Urals blend stands close to long-time highs above 5,000 rubles ($68) per barrel, ensuring additional budget revenues, Kommersant writes.

The oil price drop comes as the Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading around the world. According to Commodity Market Strategist at SberCIB Investment Research Mikhail Sheibe, the outbreak has caused tightened transport restrictions and new quarantine measures. Oil prices are also facing pressure from the US Federal Reserve System. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida stated that the regulator might start winding down large-scale support to the pandemic-hit economy.

However, analysts doubt that the downward trend in oil prices will last for long. According to Sheibe, the current decline creates a good opportunity for purchases because China is highly likely to overcome the new coronavirus outbreak soon and the market will continue to face oil shortages as global demand exceeds supply.

Rising tensions in the Middle East are also expected to support oil prices. “The situation between Israel and Lebanon remains uneasy, it’s also questionable whether Iranian oil will hit the market soon, besides, Tehran is creating uncertainty in terms of stable oil supplies from the region,” Otkritie Bank Chief Analyst Anna Morina pointed out.

Media: Crisis on Belarusian-Lithuanian border may lead to armed clashes

Tensions on the border between Belarus and Lithuania continue to rise. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that migrants turned away by the Lithuanians would not be allowed back into Belarus, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

Lukashenko’s statement came after Lithuania had decided to ban entry to the migrants who failed to arrive in the country through checkpoints and diplomatic missions. On the first day, 180 migrants were turned away. Every day, Belarusian state television airs reports of bruised and beaten migrants. It was announced on Wednesday that an Iraqi national died from injuries when illegally crossing the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.

Given Lukashenko’s order, experts don’t rule out armed clashes. “Both Lithuania and Belarus have made it clear that they are ready to raise the stakes. This is the logic of escalation that is taking us towards some incidents because there are armed people on both sides,” political analyst Artem Shraibman said. He pointed out that Belarus would soon host joint military drills with Russia, which would make the situation all the more explosive. “In political terms, conditions are almost ripe for an armed confrontation,” Shraibman concluded. Military expert Yegor Lebedyuk also told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that he did not rule out armed clashes between border guards.

Chairman of Belarus’ Liberal Democratic Party Oleg Gaidukevich, in turn, told Izvestia that Minsk was not in violation of its obligations but the country had no intention of resolving the issue for the European Union. “Naturally, we aren’t going to carry the burden of protecting the EU’s border alone like before, while Lithuania is imposing illegal sanctions on Minsk and waging a hybrid war,” he said, emphasizing the need for dialogue between the parties on finding a solution to the border crisis.

Izvestia: Russia sees slowdown in coronavirus cases

Russia’s coronavirus growth has slowed down though the situation remains complicated in some regions of the country, the president and cabinet members were told at a recent meeting, Izvestia writes.

The coronavirus is still the main issue that most countries in the world are facing. In Russia, over 20,000 new cases are identified every day, and more than 162,000 coronavirus fatalities have been recorded in the country since the beginning of the pandemic. Vaccination remains the key weapon in the fight against the infection. According to the health minister, the number of vaccinated people has reached 38.9 mln in Russia.

“Vaccination against the coronavirus is crucial for efforts to end the pandemic. But with the emergence of new variants, the effectiveness of vaccination is likely to decrease compared to the expected level announced during clinical trials. The figures will change now,” Honored Doctor of Russia, senator Vladimir Krugly told the newspaper. “Nevertheless, judging by the experience of Europe, China and the United States, it’s clear that the establishment of herd immunity significantly reduces the number of new cases and severe patients, as well as mortality rates,” he added.

Herd immunity requires that at least 60% of the population get vaccinated or recover from the disease, Doctor of Medical Science Liana Martirosyan pointed out. According to her, the ideal rate would be 60-80%.

“However, a thing to remember is that herd immunity protects from the disease indirectly. Those who haven’t contracted the virus yet and have not yet received a vaccine shot, remain at risk and can also spread the infection to others,” Martirosyan noted.

The Radical Outlook is not responsible for the material quoted in these press reviews


Copyright © Tass News Agency

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The Radical Outlook

The Radical Outlook is an online news web Portal designed for in-depth news analysis from the Eurasian region and beyond. It is Founded by a geopolitical analyst Shahzada Rahim.
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