Tops news From the Russian Media
Izvestia: Why Kabul surrendered without resistance and what it could mean for Russia
After the bloodless capture of Kabul on August 15, the Taliban (outlawed in Russia) announced that it had taken control of the entire territory of Afghanistan. Shortly after the news broke, it was reported that President Ashraf Ghani had resigned and left the country. Since Sunday, power in the region has been transferred to the interim government. The Afghan armed forces trained by the United States and allies have almost completely vanished, partly surrendering, partly fleeing to neighboring states, and while American diplomats were evacuated from the capital, Russia, has been forced to coexist with a new problematic neighbor, Izvestia writes.
“A depressing situation has developed in the Republic of Afghanistan,” Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov told Izvestia, adding that at the moment the Russian diplomatic mission is working in a relatively normal mode. “The Taliban have guaranteed security not only for the Russian embassy but for others as well,” he added.
The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that it does not intend to curtail the work of the diplomatic mission in Kabul. At the same time, the department does not recognize the Taliban as the legitimate authorities of the country, although Russia maintains good relations with both the government that left the country and the Taliban, the ministry said.
“The situation is clear for the United States – they destroyed the country and left for another hemisphere, where the Taliban will not get to them anytime soon. But we have to live with it. The problem is that the Taliban have been actively cooperating with militants from other terrorist organizations. Therefore, after their victory, there is a chance to turn Afghanistan into a springboard for the spread of terrorism and drug trafficking, “political scientist and expert on Afghanistan Nikita Mendkovich told the newspaper. Russia has to continue dialogue with the Taliban, because “we have no other Afghanistan,” he added.
Russia has repeatedly met in Moscow with representatives of the Taliban’s political wing to “draw red lines” that should not be violated, President of the International Counter-Terrorism Association Joseph Linder noted. If the Taliban fulfills its obligations, there should not be a sharp surge in the terrorist threat for Russia, the expert told Izvestia. If not, Russia may require military methods to help contain this threat, he added.
Izvestia: Germany could end as industrial power if it abandons Nord Stream 2 — politician
If the new government of Germany, elected in September 2021, decides to abandon Nord Stream 2, this will mean the end of Germany as a developed industrial country, Chairman of the Alternative for Germany party Jorg Moyten told Izvestia. According to him, if the government is headed by the Chancellor from the Greens, within the framework of the new ideological course the country may reconsider its participation in the project.
According to the politician, elections in any democratic state are an opportunity to change the political course of the country. International relations, especially with Russia, remain an extremely important area for Germany, therefore any changes in this area will be critical.
At the same time, Chancellor Merkel’s ill-considered refusal to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes has led to a critical situation in the energy sector in Germany. Therefore, a situation has emerged in which Nord Stream 2 has become indispensable for such an industrially developed country as Germany, he noted. The new federal government, led by the Greens, may sever this vital artery for the country and the consequence of this move will be the end of Germany as a developed industrial power, Moyten told the newspaper.
The politician doubts that the new federal government will give any meaningful impetus to relations with Russia.
Kommersant: US revives Europe’s Cold War artillery command
Last week, the Pentagon announced plans to deploy a new unit in Germany – a task force, which it plans to equip with, among other things, previously banned intermediate-range ground-based missiles. The unit will be led by the reconstituted 56th Field Artillery Command, which operated Pershing II nuclear missiles that worried the Soviet leadership during the Cold War. Experts told Kommersant that the Pentagon’s plans are symbolic and pointed to the need for Russia and the United States to reach an agreement to prevent a new missile crisis.
In 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that NATO countries introduce a moratorium on the deployment of ground-based intermediate and shorter-range missiles in Europe, and in 2020 he updated his proposal, declaring his readiness to make the moratorium verifiable. However, the North Atlantic Alliance rejected the Russian initiative.
According to expert of the Russian International Affairs Council Alexander Ermakov, US President Joe Biden is behaving even more assertively in this area than Donald Trump, who planned to withdraw part of the US contingent from Germany (up to 12,000 soldiers). “Here we see, on the contrary, a build-up of forces using 500 troops from the European MDTF, that, contrary to forecasts, were offered a country and a base even earlier than a similar group in the Indo-Pacific region,” he noted. The name chosen for the command, referring to one of the most tense periods of the Cold War, the expert calls “very symbolic.”
“Of course, so far the United States does not have medium-range ground systems that could be deployed to Europe. But they are expected to appear within the next few years,” Senior Researcher at the MGIMO Institute for International Studies Andrey Baklitsky told the newspaper. According to him, this adds urgency to developing Russian-US agreements on medium-range missiles. The Russian authorities promised not to deploy such systems on the European part of their territory until such missiles appear in Europe.
Kommersant: Russian government interested in developing small NPPs
The Russian government decided to allocate almost 80 mln rubles ($1.09 bln) for Rosatom’s program to develop low-power nuclear power plants (NPPs) in 2021-2024, three sources familiar with the government’s decision told Kommersant. The state corporation will receive 24 bln rubles ($326.9 mln) from the budget and another 55.9 bln rubles ($761.49 mln) from the National Wealth Fund (NWF). The first small nuclear power plants will be built in Russia, but then the state corporation expects to enter the global market. However, export prospects are not clear due to the high cost of small nuclear generation, analysts warn.
Small NPPs (up to 300 MW) are needed by Rosatom to expand its export portfolio. According to the state corporation’s estimates, the demand for small nuclear power plants will grow, reaching 23 GW in 2025-2040, among potential customers — the countries of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Rosatom strives to become a leader and occupy 20% of this market by 2030.
So far, only one small nuclear power plant operates in the world — the floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov in Chukotka (70 MW).
According to Vladimir Sklyar from VTB Capital, the key issue will be the total cost of building such sites. Currently, small NPP projects, taking into account the costs of organizing the nuclear waste management system, cost an exorbitant $5,000-7,000 per 1 kW, significantly losing to renewable energy projects, primarily wind generation, the analyst added.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Unprecedented natural disasters in Russia will require unprecedented costs
The total budgetary expenditures for eliminating the consequences of fires and floods in Russia will most likely add hundreds of billions of rubles to the nation’s budget, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. It is too early to estimate the final amount of damage, and new abnormal showers are expected in the south of the country. In addition to payments to the population, the state also bears direct losses from the burnt forests.
The scale and nature of natural disasters in some parts of Russia are unprecedented, President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting to address the consequences of flooding and wildfires in several regions of Russia. Massive wildfires have engulfed not only Yakutia but also Bashkiria. Payments for damaged housing are paid in flood zones – there is a wave of flood coming across the Far East, passing through the territory of the Amur Region, and expected to hit the Jewish Autonomous Region, and the Khabarovsk region. In the south, the Krasnodar region and Crimea suffer from flooding.
In addition to payments to the population, the state also bears direct losses from the burnt forestry. For example, at the end of July, direct damage from forest fires in Yakutia amounted to more than 1 bln rubles ($13.62 mln), the regional department of the Russian Emergencies Ministry reported. Annually, 9,000-35,000 forest fires are registered in Russia, with average annual damage of around 20 bln rubles ($272.51 mln).
It is almost impossible to compare the damage from forest fires in dynamics over many years, head of Forest Department of Greenpeace Russia Alexey Yaroshenko told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. “First, there is no data for the Soviet era, and second, this information only began to be collected in the early 2000s,” he said, adding “As a result, the worse the forest is protected, then the worse the damage is calculated. And it is protected very poorly due to the fact that the Soviet forestry protection system was destroyed. The areas of fires are growing both for this reason and because of natural factors: it is getting hotter, the forests are burning more and more.”
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