MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. NATO withholds combat aircraft for Kiev, the EU puts Russia on its tax haven blacklist, and Beijing tries to remain neutral in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. These stories dominated Wednesday’s newspaper headlines across Russia. NATO can only consider deploying fighter jets to Ukraine as a long-term goal, analysts interviewed by Izvestia believe. On February 14, at the Ramstein air base, during a contact group meeting on Ukraine, the US-led military bloc’s members did not announce the delivery of fighters to Kiev. At the same time, at least eight countries said they were ready to join the “tank coalition”, with Poland announcing that Leopard tanks would arrive in Ukraine in March. While the coalition rejects a direct clash with Russia, Moscow is reminded of its role in the conflict once more, Izvestia writes.NATO chief, Jens Stoltenberg, said during a press conference that the delivery of military aircraft to Ukraine is being discussed, but that it is not an urgent issue. According to him, the current conflict is a logistics and ammunition struggle, thus the alliance must not only supply the Armed Forces of Ukraine with new weaponry, but also ensure that everything that has already been provided is well-functioning.According to the expert community, NATO countries may consider sending fighter jets to Ukraine as a long-term goal.”If the transfer of combat aircraft to Ukraine is even being contemplated, it will be in restricted quantities and as a long-term goal in the event of an escalation on the battlefield,” Junior Research Fellow at the Center for International Security at the IMEMO RAS Vasily Klimov told Izvestia.According to him, if this happens, the effect will be echoed, resulting in an escalation and expansion of the conflict’s geography.Stoltenberg emphasized once again that the Brussels meetings do not imply that NATO is a party to the conflict. However, despite assertions of a lack of interest in what is happening in Ukraine, NATO is working on a contingency plan in event of a high-intensity conflict, Izvestia writes. The emergence of such scenarios, however, is not a new concept, Klimov told the newspaper. “Such directives are modified on a regular basis in response to changes in the sources of threats, as well as new military-technical and political issues,” the expert believes. The European Union (EU) on February 14 added Russia to its blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions on tax issues along with the British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, and the Marshall Islands. The list now includes 16 jurisdictions, including the Bahamas, Panama, the US Virgin Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago. The decision may negatively affect Russian companies, Vedomosti writes.Given Europe’s sanctions stance, putting Russia on this blacklist was simply a matter of time, senior tax consultant at FinExpertiza Alan Tukhvatullin told the newspaper. From the EU’s point of view, Russia is now an offshore entity that does not disclose any information to the European tax authorities, he added.Russian companies may incur significant tax costs as a result of their inability to use benefits while receiving money from European nations, and cooperation with Russian residents may become unprofitable for European businesses, according to Kept partner Alexander Tokarev. The inclusion of Russia on the list makes European companies’ presence in Russian business structures even less effective, according to B1 partner Marina Belyakova: while it was tough to work with banks and providers last year, further tax charges should be expected this year.Tokarev believes that getting off the blacklist is unlikely in the foreseeable future. The list is reviewed twice a year and Russia could be removed from it in the fall of 2023, but this is unlikely to happen until tax dialogue is restored. Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, will visit France, Italy, Hungary, and Russia in addition to his expected appearance at the 59th Munich Security Conference. In light of the upcoming anniversary of the start of the special military operation, Ukraine is expected to take center stage in the conversation. Officials from the G7 countries may accuse China of furnishing military assistance to Russia, but China could claim its invitation to dialogue was not heard, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.In the United States, Wang’s European trip garnered quick attention from the media, which speculated that he may meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Munich following the balloon debacle. The People’s Daily, the CCP’s leading press outlet, did not comment on it, but it did announce that Wang would deliver President Xi Jinping’s notion of common, comprehensive, joint, and sustainable security.Wang will also travel to Russia after stopping in France, Italy, and Hungary, where, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, a serious exchange of ideas is expected with the Russian side on bilateral relations as well as international and regional issues of importance.”It is obvious why Wang Yi’s journey begins in Europe. The European Union is China’s largest trading partner. China wants to strengthen connections in order to help its virus-ravaged economy. China regards the EU as a more dependable ally than the US. There is less discord with the EU than with the United States. I believe China will declare in Munich that it has always called on Russia and Ukraine to stop hostilities. In contrast to those countries that urge escalation, China favors de-escalation,” Head of the School of Asian Studies at HSE University Andrey Karneev told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. President of Moldova Maia Sandu stated that a coup attempt had been uncovered in the country. Saboteurs linked to Russia and the Moldovan opposition were allegedly planning to attack governmental facilities and take hostages. According to Sandu, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told her of the “plan” for the pro-Russian coup. While Sandu presented no evidence of the allegations, she had already ordered that her special services be granted more authority. According to experts, the government is setting the stage for a purge of political forces that support dialogue with Moscow, experts told Izvestia.Moldova, according to experts, is essentially following in the footsteps of Ukraine, with the country’s political atmosphere getting harsher all the time. Since February of last year, the nation has been under a state of emergency, with the authorities curtailing civil rights and liberties. At the same time, Moldova is growing increasingly militarized. Defense spending increased by 50% in the 2023 budget, and military drills between Moldova and NATO are held on a regular basis.The Russian Foreign Ministry rejected the allegations about the alleged plot by Moscow to destabilize the situation in Moldova. Nonetheless, experts say Sandu’s statements can be viewed as a new reason to put pressure on the opposition. “The largest opposition parties may face a ban. Technically, Sandu’s team is prepared to make this decision, and there is now a reason for it,” Professor at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration Natalya Kharitonova told Izvestia.Moldovan political scientist Sergey Manastyrly says that the political crisis is getting worse in the republic.”Kiev persists in its efforts to lure Moldova into the conflict,” he said, noting that Sandu “should put an end to these discussions.” “Instead, the president and her entourage ‘promote and support such language in every manner conceivable’,” he told Izvestia. According to OPEC, the ban imposed by unfriendly countries on the import of Russian petroleum products may cause problems in the European fuel market as early as Q2 2023, the cartel said in its monthly review. Based on OPEC’s estimates, the impact of the embargo will be minor in February-March 2023, because the EU has built up considerable inventories of diesel fuel. Experts interviewed by Vedomosti noted that Russia’s departure from the European market may lead to a fuel shortage in the EU.According to the Russian Energy Agency of the Russian Ministry of Energy, prior to the escalation of the anti-Russian sanctions in 2022, Europe was the main market for Russian oil products, accounting for 62% of Russian exports in 2021. The ban on marine shipments of Russian oil products to the EU took effect on February 5, 2023, at the same time as the price cap.Expert at the Institute for the Development of Fuel and Energy Complex Technologies Kirill Rodionov told the newspaper that diesel fuel is the European oil products market’s “most vulnerable” segment. Still, he predicted that high demand for diesel in the EU will persist for the next decade. Rodionov believes that Russia’s exit from the European market may hypothetically trigger fuel scarcity in the European Union and, as a result, higher prices.Deliveries of Russian oil products mixed with those from other countries will continue to Europe, the newspaper writes. According to a Vedomosti source close to traders, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria are already receiving goods under this arrangement.TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in these press reviews