Vedomosti: US reveals costs of new possible sanctions against ‘Russian invasion’ of Ukraine
US President Joe Biden said that Washington could react differently to the different manifestations of ‘Russian aggression’ against Ukraine. Speaking about the reaction to ‘Russian aggression’, Biden allowed the ranking of retaliatory sanctions depending on the strength of the invasion. Experts told Vedomosti that the statements are by no means a green light for any possible actions by the Russian army and any consequences would still be severe.
Biden divided the concepts of “invasion” and “incursion”. According to him, a lesser response will be given to the “incursion”. If Russia carries out cyber attacks, the US will also respond in cyberspace, the White House occupant noted. Russia may face severe economic restrictions, including a ban on its banks from dealing with dollars. Biden acknowledged that the United States would also suffer from sanctions, but the damage to Russia would be much more significant.
The fact that the US leader separated “invasion” and “incursion” in the context of the economic and military-technical response is a sign of the sanity of the US administration, expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Ivan Timofeev told Vedomosti. “Calibrating” the degree of counteraction is normal for the states that use sanctions, as well as strengthening military-technical cooperation and the supply of weapons as a tool, he added. “Biden’s words are by no means a green light for any action by the Russian army, even in the ‘light’ sanctions version for Moscow, the consequences will be severe,” Timofeev emphasized.
Washington certainly has a scale for the escalation of certain military actions, but the divisions on this scale do not coincide with a probable Russian scale, says Dmitry Stefanovich, a researcher with the Institute of World Economy and International Relations. Thus, an extremely serious threat of a disproportionate reaction to certain actions does exist, the expert continued.
Vedomosti: Bank of Russia proposes banning cryptocurrencies
The Bank of Russia proposed slapping a ban on mining, issuing, circulating, and exchanging cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, by any Russian players, crypto exchanges, crypto exchanges, and P2P platforms in Russia. The regulator agrees only to allow citizens to own cryptocurrency, but not to buy it from any Russian infrastructure. Experts told Vedomosti that a complete ban on operations with cryptocurrencies is not the best option to deal with any possible problems.
The Bank of Russia wants to ban all financial institutions, banks or, for example, brokers from being intermediaries and providing their infrastructure for carrying out any operations with cryptocurrency. Financial institutions will not be able to invest in cryptocurrencies. The regulator believes that not only does direct ownership of cryptocurrencies but also investing in its derivative financial instruments hold risks. Tight regulation will only apply to cryptocurrencies, but not assets such as NFTs. The regulator proposed introducing fines for all these violations. So far, there are no specifics in the report of the Bank of Russia for public consultations.
The ban on cryptocurrencies in Russia means lost profits for the country’s budget, CEO of ANO Digital Platforms Arseniy Shcheltsin told the newspaper. In addition, it would limit the development of Russian projects in this area and provide a signal to developers and professional users not to conduct business related to cryptocurrencies in Russia.
The prohibition would not be appropriate either for investors or for the state, attorney at Criminal Defense Firm Daniil Gorky says. Imposing bans can lead to investors losing their crypto-currency assets, while Russia already today ranks third in the world in terms of cryptocurrency mining.
KPMG Law Partner Olga Yasko believes that the risks named by the Bank of Russia are real, but it would be more effective to manage them through control mechanisms. The annual volume of operations involving cryptocurrency among Russians, according to the Central Bank, reaches around $5 bln, thereby demonstrating that Russians are one of the most active players on this market.
Izvestia: EU wants to be invited to Russia-US security talks
The fate of European security has taken center stage at the negotiations that kicked off last week between the Russian Federation and Western countries, namely, the United States, NATO, and the OSCE. And although the European Union had insisted on its participation in the dialogue, it was not invited. The EU insists on being involved in the negotiations with Russia on security guarantees, European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano explained to Izvestia
According to the politician, the EU insists that there can be no discussions about security in Europe without Europe. Meanwhile, the EU does not want to create additional negotiating tracks but instead strengthen existing diplomatic channels, as well as international and regional forums.
At the same time, the participation of the EU in the talks is not fundamental for Moscow, mainly interested in receiving a written answer to its proposals, the newspaper writes.
According to Austrian politician Andreas Schieder, one of the key problems is that the EU does not have any specific ideas about its foreign policy. All attempts to form a unified European policy line fall flat, since decisions on external issues must be made unanimously, he told Izvestia.
The United States sees the European bloc as something insignificant and marginal, not having much influence on global politics, member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) Milan Urik told Izvestia. These talks prove that the White House needs Europe only for diplomatic support to implement its own strategy, he added.
Izvestia: Moldova searching for way out of gas dilemma
Moldova once again faces problems with natural gas payments. Russian supplier Gazprom refused to sell fuel on loan, but Chisinau is critically short of funds and consumers are finding it harder to pay for the new tariff rates. The Moldovan parliament approved a 60-day state of emergency due to the energy crisis. According to experts interviewed by Izvestia, high-level negotiations could be necessary at this point.
On January 19 and 20, Chisinau transferred $7 mln and $8.5 mln respectively to Gazprom, with $25 mln left. The state of emergency was necessary for the Moldovan authorities in order to try to find money, Izvestia writes. In theory, Chisinau will be able to settle the January balance and partially pay for the February advance.
However, in reality, there may be problems in resolving the crisis by imposing a state of emergency, Moldovan energy expert Sergiu Ungureanu told the newspaper. The assistance received from Western partners in December was around 60 mln euro. According to the Moldovan government, about 300 mln euro will be needed for compensation. “Money from the EU will not cover even a fifth of the costs, so the question arises of whether there will be enough money in the budget,” the expert emphasized. “Now it is almost impossible to find a solution. It had to be done earlier, alternative plans should have been ready. Moldova does not have the ability to cover its energy needs,” the expert said, adding that high-level negotiations could be necessary and that the contract could be revised.
“There are two options for a systemic solution. First, there will be another increase in gas prices in Moldova to create an additional safety cushion. Second, we will have to attract external sources of financing – either from the budget or loans,” President of the Institute for Energy and Finance Marcel Salikhov told Izvestia.
Kommersant: Airlines brace for fallout from 5G launch in US
Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency recommended that Russian carriers monitor possible problems with equipment after the large-scale 5G rollout across United States, which has already resulted in difficulties with flights in the country, Kommersant writes. Aircraft manufacturers and the US aviation regulator fear that 5G networks could interfere with radio altimeters, which are especially important during takeoff and landing. Russian airlines will have to conduct training sessions using simulations of unreliable equipment in operation.
Several Kommersant sources in the top five airlines said that in addition to the letter from the Federal Air Transport Agency, they received similar recommendations from the US regulator – Federal Aviation Administration – through Boeing.
Aeroflot – the only airline that now flies from Russia to the US – along with S7, Utair, and Red Wings confirmed receiving the letter to the newspaper. Aeroflot does not yet see the negative impact on flights from the launch of 5G. “All recommendations of the Federal Air Transport Agency were implemented by the airline in full. Our pilots did not notice deviations in the operation of radio altimeters,” the company said. Red Wings also said that the recommendations are already being implemented. S7 noted that the airports where the airline operates flights do not have restrictions due to 5G networks. “The airline’s pilots did not encounter the interference of 5G on the operation of radio altimeters,” the company said
Meanwhile, it is still not clear, which frequencies can be used for deploying 5G in Russia, analyst at MForum Analytics Alexey Boyko told the newspaper. The official position so far implies the use of 4.8-4.99 GHz frequencies in the middle range. According to the expert, the launch of 5G networks in Russia could have begun several years ago, but operators are not given the desired frequency ranges.
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