Foreign media digest 12 August 2014

Russia came to grips with an intervention into Ukraine under the guise of “humanitarian operation».
Washington Post:

The Times criticizes Ukraine: Ukraine government is in complete disarray. Public administration, with a few bright exceptions, retained habits of provincial Soviet bureaucracy.
The Times:
“To win the war, the Ukrainian authorities have struck two devil’s bargains. One is with the oligarchs – politically influential tycoons who loathed the predatory Yanukovych regime but inspire little confidence when it comes to creating a law-governed, open society” – he said. “Secondly, the regular armed forces are fighting alongside volunteer militias with questionable (and sometimes revolting) political views. What happens to them when the fighting stops? Marauding bands of tough, confident armed men, expecting to be treated as national heroes, will undermine country’s fragile political system, not strengthen it”- notes Lucas. Putin may have lost a battle, but he still aims to win the war: “splitting Europe from America, rewriting the rules of the energy market, and regaining his country’s historic hold on its neighbours” – concludes the author.

Obama’s World: President Obama spoke to Thomas Friedman on Iraq, Putin and Israel.
The New York Times:
“President Obama’s hair is definitely grayer these days, and no doubt trying to manage foreign policy in a world of increasing disorder accounts for at least half of those gray hairs”, writes columnist The New York Times Thomas L. Friedmen, announcing an exclusive interview with President of the USA, taken on Friday. “Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished”- the author writes. Despite Western sanctions, he cautioned, President Vladimir Putin of Russia “could invade” Ukraine at any time, and, if he does, “trying to find our way back to a cooperative functioning relationship with Russia during the remainder of my term will be much more difficult.”


The West has chosen the wrong path.
“Europe and its current policy of escalation do not pursue any realistic goal – unlike, for example, for America” – emphasizes journalist. “When Hillary Clinton compares Putin to Hitler, she does so only in order to please the supporters of the Republican Party, people without any knowledge about other countries as a rule. Hitler is the only foreigner, whom they know, so Adolf Putin is a convenient figure in an election campaign. Thus, Clinton and Obama are quite realistic about their goals – to raise their rankings and win the election, (…) but Merkel can not justify her actions with similar reasons”.
Ukrainian crisis under Western policy has become “a purely instinctive escalation of sanctions.” What is needed? A mutually beneficial trade relations between Ukraine and its neighbors, including the EU and Russia.
The Financial Times:
According to Rodric Braithwaite, former British Ambassador to Moscow (1988-1992), both sides need some more active and original solution that will not include military force, but often “despised art of diplomacy.” Ukraine should became a non-NATO, neutral state. “The knotty problem of neutrality might be met with a constitutional arrangement binding Ukraine to remain unaligned unless two-thirds of its people vote for change.”, – notes the author.

Ukraine has agreed to receive humanitarian aid, including one from Russia, after Moscow and Western capitals claimed to do more to help civilians in Eastern Ukraine.
The Wall Street Journal:
The authors point out that fighting in Eastern Ukraine led to the flow of refugees: 171,000 people displaced inside Ukraine and another 168,000 crossing the border into Russia. Donetsk and Lugansk are still the main concerns. In Luhansk, officials described the situation as critical, with 250,000 residents living without electricity, water and phone service for more than a week amid daily artillery barrages.
Authorities in Kiev renewed their calls for civilians to leave the two cities, as tens of thousands have already done. “The operation will continue,” Col. Lysenko said in Kiev. “For civilians, it is desirable to leave Donetsk and Luhansk before they are liberated.”
Kyiv has agreed to organize an international “humanitarian convoy” in Lugansk. Nevertheless, Donetsk seems to be in fairly good conditions with working electricity, water supply and communication.
Financial Times:
Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, said an agreement with the Ukrainian government on the mission was finalised on Sunday night. “It will be organised by the ICRC but consist of a Russian convoy, which will enter Ukrainian territory at the point agreed upon with the Ukrainian side,” he told the Financial Times. Mr Peskov said there would be no military accompanying the convoy. The spokesman added that he did not know whether other countries would be part of the mission and it was “not clear yet” when it would be sent. Some Ukrainian official has accused Russia of creating a humanitarian crisis in eastern regions in order to assist the local militants, writes the newspaper. According to journalists, in central Donetsk, there is still a semblance of normality. There is no looting and Donetsk’s elegant city centre is still well maintained. With some grocery stores still working, most petrol filling stations still pumping and power still on, there is little evidence of a mass humanitarian crisis.

RUSSIA HOLDS SPANISH FARMERS AS HOSTAGES. The EU should respond to Russian blackmail. Farmers urge the Spanish government to demand appropriate measures from the EU.
It is unfair to “take EU farmers as hostages for political purposes”

Spanish government calls for calm, but farmers demand to strengthen their financial security.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Spain, due to Russian embargo the country will lose 337 million euros. President of Spanish Association of Farmers (COAG) Miguel Blanco’s estimates are much higher, “not only direct export (worth around 340 million), but 1.2 billion export will be affacted”.
Brussels criticizes Latin America because of intentions to benefit from Russian food embargo.
El Pais:
“Brussels did not like the way some governments of Latin American countries have offered themselves as Russian trading partners”, – notes journalist Ignacio Faris. According to sources in EU Commission, representatives of “a number of countries” will be notified about EU disappointment on their intentions to draft trade contracts with such an “unreliable partner” as Moscow. The moment EU stated its disappointment coincided with a negotiations on free trade zone between EU and leading Latin American bloc “Mercosur” (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela).
Minister of Agriculture of Spain recalled that before the Russian embargo Spain agreed to withdraw from the market 10,000 tons of peaches and apricots on EU demand. Minister calls for EU Crisis Fund to refund the losses from Russia food embargo. La
Catalonia meat industry fears it has lost Russia as a customer.
El Pais:
Butchers asked to assist them and allow to freeze their production for 3-5 months. Minister of Agriculture of Catalonia demanded to introduce extraordinary measures to compensate farmers’ losses. “Putin’s decision has finished off mortally wounded market”, says Joan Hraels from Agrarian Association of Young Farmers (ASAJA). “If the EU does not regulate this political crisis, we will lose a lot of money and a lot of jobs,” – he adds.
Catalonia intends to file a claim with a European court on Russian food embargo.
“Pelegri said that the Russian embargo has drowned the market, which has suffered from serious price crisis” – the newspaper said, citing materials by Efe. Previously, Catalonia exported to Russia 40-50% of its fruit production.

“Russia Day will be a good opportunity for German companies and German federal government to keep in contact with Russian business and establish new enterprises” – Minister-President of Mecklenburg – Vorpommern.
On October 1 Rostock-Warnemünde will host “Russia Day”. The so-called “Russia Day” will be held under the patronage of Minister-President of the federal state of Mecklenburg – Vorpommern, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany Erwin Sellering . Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is among VIP guests and Chamber of Commerce of the city of Rostock is one of main organizers of the event. However, Handelsblatt believes that the event’s slogan “Economic ties between Russia and Germany: Experience and Prospects” is “extremely out of place because of sanctions between Russia and the West.” “Holding of such events in Mecklenburg – Vorpommern goes beyond the bounds of decency. Government of this federal land should block this meeting,” – said chairman of German-Ukrainian parliamentary group in the Bundestag, member of the Christian Democratic Union Karl-Georg Wellmann.