05:17 GMT +321 July 2018
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    Alexey Ulyukaev, Russia’s Minister of Economic Development outlines three demands Moscow has concerning the Association agreement. Primarily, Russia insists that postponing of the agreement coming into force, previously announced to December 31, 2015, should be formally and legally established.

    Alexey Ulyukaev, Russia’s Minister of Economic Development outlines three demands Moscow has concerning the Association agreement. Primarily, Russia insists that postponing of the agreement coming into force, previously announced to December 31, 2015, should be formally and legally established.

    Federation council discusses aide to Ukrainian refugees while exchange of sanctions continues.

    Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes that Oleg Tsarev, chairman of the parliament of Novorossiya, believes it’s necessary to create a union of Ukrainian refugees in Russia. The official voiced this proposal on Wednesday during the session of the Committee of the Public Support for Residents of South-East Ukraine, hosted by the Federation Council. Tsarev explained that the organization would be tasked with resolving issues of refugees living in Russia, such as processing paperwork, as currently the bureaucratic process is complicated and people lodge a lot of complaints. The daily notes that Yuri Vorobyev, deputy speaker of the Federation Council and head of the committee, approved of the initiative. The official reminded that currently Russia hosts over one million refugees from Ukraine and suggested that the proposal should come to life to give the people a chance to collectively solve issues and uphold their rights. The article reminds that despite the ongoing process to seek peace in Ukraine, residents of south east are still dealing with the fallout of the war – groceries and warm clothing is some of the pressing issues.

    Novye Izvestia has an update on the sanctions and warnings of more ‘trade wars’ to come over the Ukrainian situation. Matthias Wissmann, president of the Verband der Automobilindustrie, German Association of the Automotive Industry, suggested that Europe’s industries cut down on consumption of Russian gas to reduce its dependence on Moscow’s policies. The daily notes that this statement followed the announcement that Moscow may restrict or even ban imports of foreign cars, as response to the latest package of anti-Russian sanctions adopted by the European Union and the United States. The newspaper reminds that the Russian government still has not formed a united stance on the idea of the automotive embargo. Earlier this week Alexey Ulyukaev, head of the Ministry of Economic development, has announced that it’s not viable for Russia to impose retaliatory sanctions in any field apart from agriculture. The minister has also announced that his agency did not have anything to do with the initiative and at the time it was just ‘something to think about’.

    Meanwhile, Kommersant has an article on the ongoing process surround signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. The daily notes that it has a copy of the letter authored by Alexey Ulyukaev, Russia’s Minister of Economic Development, addressed to Pavel Klimkin, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, and the European Commission. The letter outlines three demands Moscow has concerning the Association agreement. Primarily, Russia insists that postponing of the agreement coming into force, previously announced to December 31, 2015, should be formally and legally established. The Russian official also warned Kiev and Brussels of consequences of creeping implementation of this agreement and insisted that a tri-lateral group is entrusted with powers to make amendments to the document. The article notes that both Kiev and Brussels have already responded to the letter, calling some of its demands unacceptable – for example, Kiev insisted that the government did not make any decisions regarding postponing the association agreement; Verkhovna Rada also did not document this proposal.

    The Guardian writes that Barack Obama attempted to dampen talk of an escalating US ground engagement in Iraq on Wednesday as an increasingly nervous Congress prepared to vote on authorization for his separate plan to arm Syrian rebels. The daily notes that in contrast to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general Martin Dempsey, who warned a Senate hearing on Wednesday that US troops could fight alongside Iraqi forces in future, the president insisted his prohibition on any American ground combat role would remain. Obama insisted instead US forces would only “support Iraqi forces on the ground as they fight for their own country against these terrorists”. The newspaper highlights that the apparent divergence in US strategy for combating Isis came as the House of Representatives prepared to vote on authorization requested by Obama to arm and train Syrian rebel groups. The newspaper also notes that John Kerry was expected to come under pressure at a hearing of the Senate foreign relations committee to give more detail of the alliance that the White House claims to have assembled amid doubts at the extent of international military commitment.

    Meanwhile, John Kerry suggested on Wednesday that the task of defeating the Islamic State could fall to Iran and the Syrian government if the US was "failing miserably" in its effort to defeat the jihadists. The Telegraph writes that the hypothetical scenario raised by the secretary of state is likely to be a new frustration for the White House, which has spent the day quashing speculation by American generals that US ground troops could be sent back to Iraq. The newspaper suggests that Kerry's words may also heighten Sunni suspicions that the US secretly intends to ally with the Shia governments in Damascus and Tehran against IS. Kerry repeated President Barack Obama's pledge not to deploy ground troops under any circumstances but then raised the prospect of Iranian and Syrian intervention. "I'm not going to get into hypothetically but you're presuming that Iran and Syria don't have any capacity to take on IS. I mean, who knows? I don't know what's going to happen here. If we're failing and failing miserably who knows what choice they're might make."

    The Hermitage has been recognized as the best museum in Europe by TripAdvisor, a popular publisher of tourist guidebooks, The Moscow Times writes highlights that the St. Petersburg museum beat out the Florence Academy of Fine Arts and the Paris Musee d'Orsay to take first place in the ranking, titled the "Top-25 Traveller's Choice." It was compiled based on reviews of tourists from all over the world, the newspaper explains. At the same time, The Hermitage was the only Russian museum to rank among the best in Europe. The museum is one of the oldest and largest in the world, founded in 1764 by Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Currently, the 350 halls of the museum boast more than 3 million works of art — from the Stone Age to the modern era. The daily reminds that the museum first opened to the public in 1852. Currently, five of the museum's six historic buildings are accessible to visitors: the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage and Hermitage Theater.

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