Tuesday's Russian Press Review

AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams
Today Russian newspapers analyze the future of Palestine, discuss the first steps of the new U.S. administration, report on the Georgia opposition's expectations and hint at an improvement in Russia-Japan relations.

ROSSISKAYA GAZETA publishes an opinion article by political scientist Leonid Radzikhovskiy, who sums up the results of the recent Gaza strip war. He writes, another war just finished in the Middle East with another truce. Israel, says Radzikhovskiy, has been living in and out of war for 60 years and, in this sense, nothing new has happened.

He writes that the Gaza strip became a burden for Israel ever since the Jewish state won the strip from Egypt in the six-day war and then decided to return it to Egypt, but to no avail. It became even more of a burden, he says, after the Palestinian public gave its support to the staunchly anti-Israel and extremist Hamas at the expense of moderate but corrupt Fatah.

The author says, in spite of the fact that the both sides simultaneously declared victory over each other, the real, practical victory was, in fact, won by Israel by having lost only 13 soldiers against over a thousand Hamas casualties, a significant number of them combatants, and not civilians. However, says the author, there’s no guarantee that another war will not break out there in the near future, and that is the main concern for Israel, as one of its basic needs is now a lasting peace and the creation of a functional Palestinian state that can become a peaceful neighbour.

Those players who are not interested in the same include Iran, which is competing with Israel for regional leadership and such countries as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia which prefer an ‘eternal war with Israel’ as a permanent distraction for their peoples from their own domestic problems, says the author.

He also writes that the interests of the international ‘mediators’ (The U.S., Russia, the EU and UN) are so different that it is hard to expect from them any real concerted action.

However, he says, one trend in the Middle East situation is definitely positive: the gaps between wars become longer every time, and the level of animosity between communities hasn’t grown in the past 60 years.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI interviews the Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Afif Safieh, who says that Russia’s role in the peace process in Palestine is very significant at the moment, and that the Russian delegation at the UN has done everything in its power to end the hostilities between Hamas and Israel.

The diplomat says that the Palestinians now hope for another step towards lasting peace to be made at the proposed Moscow meeting on Middle East. He also says the hopes of the Palestinians are vested in the new U.S. envoy, appointed by the Barack Obama administration: George Mitchell, a political heavyweight who has played a leading role in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA writes that Barack Obama has authorized two missile strikes at the Taliban bases in the Pakistani territory which may be his first step towards the escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan.

The paper says, both the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan warn that it can only lead to the further alienation of the Western effort in Afghanistan in the eyes of the Afghan and Pakistani peoples and, because of massive ‘collateral damage’ in the form of unnecessary civilian casualties, plays in the hands of the terrorists.

The paper also notes that the escalation of the war in Afghanistan may be politically dangerous to Barack Obama himself, because the conflict may become more violent than in Iraq, and with 60 thousand troops to be thrown into it within the next few months, the American casualties are going to be huge.

IZVESTIA writes: it seems, the Georgian president has played out his hand to no gain, and now nothing can save him from losing his post. The Georgian opposition, says the paper, is uniting against him, with at least two candidates – both in good standing with the U.S. – are ready to step up.

The paper says, by the opinion of the opposition it is not the fact that Saakashvili has dragged his country into a war and lost it, but the fact that he has become so notorious in the eyes of Moscow that with him at the helm there’s no opportunity for a constructive dialogue with Russia.

KOMMERSANT publishes an article by the Japan correspondent of Itar-TASS Vasily Golovnin, who writes that the celebrations around the launch of the Sakhalin-based Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) terminal, from where the liquid gas will be exported to Japan, and the invitation to participate in the celebrations extended by President Medvedev to the Japanese Prime minister, are an important signal, demonstrating a significant new tendency in Russia–Japan relations.

In the past months, says the article, Russia has several times hinted at the necessity to achieve a real compromise with Japan on the issue of the Kuril Islands and the signing of the peace treaty overdue since the end of WW II.

However, quotes Golovnin from a Japanese expert, ‘the current situation of Prime Minister Taro Aso is not very stable: a lot of people think that he is not fighting the economic crisis energetically enough. Usually in Japanese politics a man in his situation thinks of resigning rather than involving himself in intricate and complex negotiations over territorial rights.’

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.