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Tuesday, July 18


Tuesday, July 18


Top international air show showcases Russian technology

Photo: Marina Lystseva
Photo: Marina Lystseva

Today, Russia’s biennial international aviation show MAKS begins in the southeastern city of Zhukovsky. The event will be attended by 770 companies from 30 countries.

The show is a chance for Russia to demonstrate its military prowess and international business opportunities in the face of Western sanctions. MAKS will feature 84 aircraft, including Russia’s prototype MC-21 passenger plane and the new T-50 stealth fighter.

The T-50 made news last year when an earlier version made a highly symbolic overflight of Crimea. The 5th generation stealth fighter has been beset by crippling technical problems, and industrial production has been delayed until 2018.

However, the craft boasts an impressive array of advanced technology, and its three-dimensional jets make it more manoeuvrable than the equivalent American F-22 Raptor, which uses only two directional jets. The Raptor still has the edge over the T-50 when it comes to its stealth system, with a radar profile 1000 times smaller.

The production of the T-50 signals that Russia intends to stay on the frontier of military innovation, despite the many problems ailing the country.


Netanyahu visits Hungary amid Soros controversy

Poster reads: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh”
Poster reads: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban today in Budapest—the first visit of an Israeli premier since 1989.

Netanyahu’s visit comes after Orban’s nationalist Fidesz Party began a poster campaign (above) castigating Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros. Soros is anti-Orban and Jewish, and some vandalised the posters with swastikas and slurs in protest. A 2015 poll showed that 40% of Hungarians harboured anti-Semitic attitudes.

Soros’ liberal agenda has often gone against Orban’s right-wing government: He donates millions to anti-conservative Hungarian NGOs. In the middle of election season, some allege Orban deliberately provoked anti-Semitism for popular support.

At Netanyahu’s urging, Israel’s foreign ministry only gave a blanket condemnation of anti-Semitism. It further agreed with Budapest’s decision to vilify Soros, noting his “funding [of] organisations that defame the Jewish state,” such as pro-Palestine Human Rights Watch.

Netanyahu himself prioritises economic ties. Ignoring cries from Hungarian Jews and the Israeli right, he displays his commitment to $500 million of trade and cooperation in sectors like energy and water.

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EU delegation travels to negotiate with Belorussian leaders

Photo: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko
Photo: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Five EU lawmakers will meet Belarussian government, opposition, and civil society leaders in Minsk today to discuss EU-Belarus relations, human rights and electoral reform.

The EU has repeatedly condemned the 24-year rule of President Alexander Lukashenko—nicknamed Europe’s last dictator—for its unfree elections, human rights abuses and Soviet-era economic policies. Brussels maintains an arms embargo on the former Soviet Republic and has refused to ratify the bilateral Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, a visa-free travel agreement with Belarus.

While political relations remain frosty, economic relations have started to thaw. Last year the EU removed sanctions on 170 government officials and in February it scrapped import quotas on Belarussian textiles. In January, Minsk restarted its membership bid to the WTO after a decade of inaction, signalling a desire to liberalise trade.

While today’s meetings are a step towards rapprochement, Belarus’ authoritarian policies and the sanctions they engender remain the nation’s biggest roadblock to normalising ties with Brussels.   However, fruitful talks and political reforms could ignite a westward tilt in one of Europe’s most pro-Russian nations.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hold his first day of talks in Beijing. Mr Abbas is expected to meet with China’s top brass, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. China has long-standing ties with the Palestinian Authority; a foreign minister spokesperson said Beijing will “play a constructive role in promoting the Palestinian-Israeli peace process”.

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