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29 Jan, 2008 03:54

The Media Mirror: what's in today's Russian newspapers?

The questions which Russian newspapers are debating on Tuesday include: Will more Russian weapons go to China? New Russian military bases abroad – a myth or a reality in the near future? And – Who does Russia support in Serbia?

Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes that the volume of Russian weapons exports to China has dropped dramatically. An unnamed source at the Russian Defence Ministry says this issue will be at the centre of negotiations when the two sides sit down together in the next few weeks. The newspaper says the situation was caused by several factors, including changing requirements by China. Among the requested items are the latest multiple launch systems, KA-50 helicopter gun ships and fast-attack nuclear submarines.  
Komsomolskaya Pravda quotes a Croatian newspaper saying that Russia is secretly planning to place two military bases, one in Serbia and another one in Bosnia, and deploy missiles with nuclear warheads there. The Russian paper discussed the matter with experts:

“I wouldn’t totally dismiss the idea. The bit about the nuclear weapons is complete rubbish. What is possible – there may be an agreement that the U.S. may have given a secret okay for a small Russian base with cruise missiles in exchange for Russia’s softening of its position on Kosovo and missile defence,” Major-General Aleksandr Kazakov from the Institute of International Military Policies says.

General Leonid Ivashov from the Academy of Geopolitical Problems says that “it was a propaganda ploy to persuade those who are still in two minds to vote for Tadic, and also to show that Russia agrees to Kosovo independence. Unofficially Moscow may start supporting the newly-born state in exchange for placing its own peacekeepers in the Serbian parts of Kosovo”.           
Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes the Gazprom agreement is adding to the chances of Boris Tadic winning the election. The paper quotes a Belgrade magazine which says that Moscow needs stability in Serbia and good relations with the EU which Tomislav Nikolic cannot provide. However, continues the paper, the EU showed its inflexibility when the Netherlands refused to sign the EU agreement with Serbia before all alleged war criminals were arrested.

Vremya Novostei reports Tomislav Nikolic became furious about Russia’s red-carpet treatment of his main rival, Boris Tadic, last week. The source said, after the signing of the Gazprom agreement, Nikolic’s own trip to Moscow lost all sense.