Monday's Russian Press Review

Monday’s papers have an account of what is presumed to be Condoleezza Rice’s last speech on Russia. There are also reports on the Russian Navy flotilla that has set sail for the Caribbean for naval exercises. There’s the latest news from NATO, and reports

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA has an article by the Washington correspondent of Itar-TASS, Andrey Sheetov. He was dismissive of what was probably Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s last major speech on Russia, describing it as ‘militant but simultaneously toothless.’ The article presents the essence of the speech in the following words: ‘the United States interfered, interferes and will interfere in the affairs of Russia and its closest neighbours. But at the same time, the U.S. is counting on the continuation of cooperation with Moscow in the solving of key problems of the modern World.’

The same newspaper’s front page has a photograph of ‘Peter the Great’, the nuclear-powered missile cruiser and Flagship of the Russian Northern Fleet, as it makes its way to the Caribbean for joint exercises with the navy of Venezuela. It comes with the headline: ‘Peter the Great to discover America.’ The article says the biggest ship in the Northern Fleet is equipped for all kinds of naval operations, including air operations. In addition to various missiles, artillery and a detachment of Marines, it has a flight deck from which both helicopters and fixed-winged aircraft can operate.

IZVESTIA sports a full colour shot of the cruiser as it launches a missile. The paper says it is being accompanied on the voyage by the big anti-submarine ship, ‘Admiral Chabanenko’, as well as by two smaller escort ships. The paper points out the upcoming war games will be the first time that a Russian nuclear-powered missile cruiser takes part in international exercises.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA also makes the exercises front-page news with a headline: ‘The Time of Big Manoeuvres is Upon Us.’ The paper writes: ‘Russia conducts military exercises to highlight its readiness to counter the actions by the U.S. or NATO in all spheres.’ The paper says Defense Minister, Anatoly Serdiukov, has recently being getting building closer ties with the country’s troops and generals. He will be commanding the initial stage of the exercise in Venezuela, the paper reports.

KOMMERSANT says in a headline: ‘NATO assumes a warrior stance’. The article is about U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s remarks at the summit of NATO Ministers of Defence in London. There the Secretary urged member states to strengthen their military potential. He said the current state of demilitarisation of the alliance may be interpreted as weakness, the paper says, quoting anonymous sources.  Besides that, Gates is insisting on the creation of NATO’s own rapid reaction force. The paper speculates that the most probable imaginary adversary for such a force would be Russia. However, the paper writes, there’s no consensus among NATO member nations about the possible anti-Russian vector in NATO’s policies.

Reporting on the financial crisis, Kommersant says that while the government may be ready to heal the banking system with a cash injection – there remains doubts about whether Russian banks and other financial institutions are ready to accept and process the cash? So far, the paper writes, the banks have been quite reluctant to purchase government loans at auctions, especially in amounts exceeding their current needs.

TRUD’s front page headline reads: ‘This Year – No New Year’. It sounds like cancelling Christmas. The paper says many Russian families will not be able to afford their usual winter holidays on the beach. The paper says the steady climb in fuel prices has increased the price of air tickets, hotels and tours to the point that they are beyond the reach of Russia’s working people and a good part of the lower middle class. Christmas holidays are usually the most expensive, with surcharges on air and land transfers, hotel rooms, etc, running at least 20–30%, sometimes 40%, higher than normal. The paper quotes Andrey Ignatiev, the Vice-President of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia: ‘oil prices have been going slightly up and slightly down but that caused no similar fluctuations in aviation fuel prices: those have been steadily on the rise…’

In the same paper, former economy minister, Professor Yevgeny Yasin – now a top executive of the Higher School of Economics – gives his advice to the general public. He says if you don’t want to be affected by the financial crisis, don’t get worried and worked up, don’t take your money from the banks and abstain from taking new loans for a while.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.