Tuesday’s press review

Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev looks at the flow of gas in Bulgaria (AFP Photo  / Boryana Katsarova)
Tuesday’s Russian newspapers analyse both the‘gas war’ and the Gaza war. They also ask why the Iraqi and Afghan governments have decided to build closer ties with Russia.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI writes that while both Hamas and Israel celebrate victory over each other in the ‘Three weeks war’, there is one side that has to admit defeat in the Gaza conflict: international diplomacy has proven ineffective both in its efforts to resolve an ancient dispute and in its attempts to suppress an unexpected outbreak of tension and violence.

The paper says the looming inauguration of Barack Obama was the only positive influence on the conflict: Israel made every effort to complete its military operation before the ceremony, hoping to gain some brownie points with the new administration.

The paper says the international community must use the lessons learnt from the Gaza war to form a joint policy to protect the region from further conflict. The paper suggests that the situation in Palestine cannot be resolved by conferences and forums any more; it is well past that stage. 

It is necessary, continues the paper, to put effective peacekeeping in place on the ground instead of arguing about whether or not to negotiate with Hamas. The paper also says that the influence exerted on Hamas by Iran and Syria should be put into the equation of the Palestinian peace process alongside the U.S. influence on Israel.

IZVESTIA publishes an opinion article by Leonid Kravchuk, the First president of Ukraine. He says that the ‘gas wars’ between Russia and Ukraine happen because there is no system for dealing with gas related problems between the two neighbours. The former president of Ukraine says that in spite of a multitude of documents, contracts, and earlier agreements, there is no clear-cut system, as there is no single all-explaining and mutually beneficial document regulating the transit of gas or the use of gas by Ukraine.

The author poses a question: why haven’t Russia and Ukraine created such a document, why do the two countries prefer to ‘go to war’ every time they see things differently? He answers the question himself: ‘They haven’t created and signed such a document because they didn’t want such a document to exist. Because if it existed, then a system would have existed too, and it is impossible to steal from a working system.’ The author says, as long as there are people, individuals, depending on ‘gas wars’ for their material and political gain, there will be ‘gas wars’.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA writes that the result of the negotiations between the Russian Prime minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Timoshenko is definitely a success – but a tactical success rather then a strategic one. The paper says the usual fluctuations of Ukrainian domestic politics may have an effect on the agreements, if not immediately, then after a while. Who knows, asks the paper, what new trends in the gas sector would be created by the next Ukrainian presidential election?

However, the paper says, the Moscow summit will have a long-term effect on negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, which is going to stay with us forever: the final understanding that there is a common energy market in Europe and – a larger one – in Eurasia, and that market – be it oil, gas, electric power – recognises neither the borders of the former Soviet Union nor the boundaries of European Union or the CIS.

That market includes all countries of the region, continues the paper, and when a conflict breaks out between two nations, all the others are affected. Therefore, concludes the paper, the common energy market compels us to at least a minimal unity and consensus.

The same newspaper reports on moves the Iraqi government is making towards Russia, including preparations for a presidential visit to Moscow. The Iraqi side is ready to table ‘a large package of concrete offers of cooperation and joint projects in the sphere of economy and other spheres’ at such a summit. The paper says Iraq intends to deepen and increase its political, economic and military contacts with Russia.

The paper says that since the basic infrastructure of Iraq and most of its military equipment is Soviet-built, Russia and Iraq have an obvious synergy. Russia still stocks and sells spare parts that are vital to a lot of Iraqi machinery. However, says the paper, experts say Baghdad’s closest ally – the US – may oppose closer military cooperation.

Quoting specialists, the paper says it’s likely that Baghdad is seeking closer ties with Moscow in order to counterbalance the influence of Washington. Such a move would show the Iraqi people that its government is independent in its foreign policy.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA writes that the government of Afghanistan has turned to Russia for military help after the U.S. and NATO limited their aid to the Afghan army to the procuring of 10,000 counterfeit Kalashnikov rifles. The paper says the Afghan army possesses a great number of Soviet-made helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, tanks and other military hardware – all of it old and in need of maintenance.

Russia has all the necessary spare parts and modernisation packages, the paper reports. It says it is now up to the Russian government and military to estimate Afghanistan’s needs, and to decide on how Russia can help.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT