In Eurasia, the War of Economic Corridors is in full swing

July 15, 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

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Mega Eurasian organizations and their respective projects are now converging at record speed, with one global pole way ahead of the other.

By Pepe Escobar

The War of Economic Corridors is now proceeding full speed ahead, with the game-changing first cargo flow of goods from Russia to India via the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) already in effect.

Very few, both in the east and west, are aware of how this actually has long been in the making: the Russia-Iran-India agreement for implementing a shorter and cheaper Eurasian trade route via the Caspian Sea (compared to the Suez Canal), was first signed in 2000, in the pre-9/11 era.

The INSTC in full operational mode signals a powerful hallmark of Eurasian integration – alongside the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and last but not least, what I described as “Pipelineistan” two decades ago.

Caspian is key

Let’s have a first look on how these vectors are interacting.

The genesis of the current acceleration lies in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital, for the 6th Caspian Summit. This event not only brought the evolving Russia-Iran strategic partnership to a deeper level, but crucially, all five Caspian Sea littoral states agreed that no NATO warships or bases will be allowed on site.

That essentially configures the Caspian as a virtual Russian lake, and in a minor sense, Iranian – without compromising the interests of the three “stans,” Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. For all practical purposes, Moscow has tightened its grip on Central Asia a notch.

As the Caspian Sea is connected to the Black Sea by canals off the Volga built by the former USSR, Moscow can always count on a reserve navy of small vessels – invariably equipped with powerful missiles – that may be transferred to the Black Sea in no time if necessary.

Stronger trade and financial links with Iran now proceed in tandem with binding the three “stans” to the Russian matrix. Gas-rich republic Turkmenistan for its part has been historically idiosyncratic – apart from committing most of its exports to China.

Under an arguably more pragmatic young new leader, President Serdar Berdimuhamedow, Ashgabat may eventually opt to become a member of the SCO and/or the EAEU.

Caspian littoral state Azerbaijan on the other hand presents a complex case: an oil and gas producer eyed by the European Union (EU) to become an alternative energy supplier to Russia – although this is not happening anytime soon.

The West Asia connection

Iran’s foreign policy under President Ebrahim Raisi is clearly on a Eurasian and Global South trajectory. Tehran will be formally incorporated into the SCO as a full member in the upcoming summit in Samarkand in September, while its formal application to join the BRICS has been filed.

Purnima Anand, head of the BRICS International Forum, has stated that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also very much keen on joining BRICS. Should that happen, by 2024 we could be on our way to a powerful West Asia, North Africa hub firmly installed inside one of the key institutions of the multipolar world.

As Putin heads to Tehran next week for trilateral Russia, Iran, Turkey talks, ostensibly about Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is bound to bring up the subject of BRICS.

Tehran is operating on two parallel vectors. In the event the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is revived – a quite dim possibility as it stands, considering the latest shenanigans in Vienna and Doha – that would represent a tactical victory. Yet moving towards Eurasia is on a whole new strategic level.

In the INSTC framework, Iran will make maximum good use of the geostrategically crucial port of Bandar Abbas – straddling the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Yet as much as it may be portrayed as a major diplomatic victory, it’s clear that Tehran will not be able to make full use of BRICS membership if western – especially US – sanctions are not totally lifted.

Pipelines and the “stans”

A compelling argument can be made that Russia and China might eventually fill the western technology void in the Iranian development process. But there’s a lot more that platforms such as the INSTC, the EAEU and even BRICS can accomplish.

Across “Pipelineistan,” the War of Economic Corridors gets even more complex. Western propaganda simply cannot admit that Azerbaijan, Algeria, Libya, Russia’s allies at OPEC, and even Kazakhstan are not exactly keen on increasing their oil production to help Europe.

Kazakhstan is a tricky case: it is the largest oil producer in Central Asia and set to be a major natural gas supplier, right after Russia and Turkmenistan. More than 250 oil and gas fields are operated in Kazakhstan by 104 companies, including western energy giants such as Chevron, Total, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

While exports of oil, natural gas and petroleum products comprise 57 percent of Kazakhstan’s exports, natural gas is responsible for 85 percent of Turkmenistan’s budget (with 80 percent of exports committed to China). Interestingly, Galkynysh is the second largest gas field on the planet.

Compared to the other “stans,” Azerbaijan is a relatively minor producer (despite oil accounting for 86 percent of its total exports) and basically a transit nation. Baku’s super-wealth aspirations center on the Southern Gas Corridor, which includes no less than three pipelines: Baku-Tblisi-Erzurum (BTE); the Turkish-driven Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP); and the Trans-Adriatic (TAP).

The problem with this acronym festival – BTE, TANAP, TAP – is that they all need massive foreign investment to increase capacity, which the EU sorely lacks because every single euro is committed by unelected Brussels Eurocrats to “support” the black hole that is Ukraine. The same financial woes apply to a possible Trans-Caspian Pipeline which would further link to both TANAP and TAP.

In the War of Economic Corridors – the “Pipelineistan” chapter – a crucial aspect is that most Kazakh oil exports to the EU go through Russia, via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). As an alternative, the Europeans are mulling on a still fuzzy Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, also known as the Middle Corridor (Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey). They actively discussed it in Brussels last month.

The bottom line is that Russia remains in full control of the Eurasia pipeline chessboard (and we’re not even talking about the Gazprom-operated pipelines Power of Siberia 1 and 2 leading to China).

Gazprom executives know all too well that a fast increase of energy exports to the EU is out of the question. They also factor the Tehran Convention – that helps prevent and control pollution and maintain the environmental integrity of the Caspian Sea, signed by all five littoral members.

Breaking BRI in Russia

China, for its part, is confident that one of its prime strategic nightmares may eventually disappear. The notorious “escape from Malacca” is bound to materialize, in cooperation with Russia, via the Northern Sea Route, which will shorten the trade and connectivity corridor from East Asia to Northern Europe from 11,200 nautical miles to only 6,500 nautical miles. Call it the polar twin of the INSTC.

This also explains why Russia has been busy building a vast array of state-of-the-art icebreakers.

So here we have an interconnection of New Silk Roads (the INSTC proceeds in parallel with BRI and the EAEU), Pipelineistan, and the Northern Sea Route on the way to turn western trade domination completely upside down.

Of course, the Chinese have had it planned for quite a while. The first White Paper on China’s Arctic policy, in January 2018, already showed how Beijing is aiming, “jointly with other states” (that means Russia), to implement sea trade routes in the Arctic within the framework of the Polar Silk Road.

And like clockwork, Putin subsequently confirmed that the Northern Sea Route should interact and complement the Chinese Maritime Silk Road.

Russia-China Economic cooperation is evolving on so many complex, convergent levels that just to keep track of it all is a dizzying experience.

A more detailed analysis will reveal some of the finer points, for instance how BRI and SCO interact, and how BRI projects will have to adapt to the heady consequences of Moscow’s Operation Z in Ukraine, with more emphasis being placed on developing Central and West Asian corridors.

It’s always crucial to consider that one of Washington’s key strategic objectives in the relentless hybrid war against Russia was always to break BRI corridors that crisscross Russian territory.

As it stands, it’s important to realize that dozens of BRI projects in industry and investment and cross-border inter-regional cooperation will end up consolidating the Russian concept of the Greater Eurasia Partnership – which essentially revolves around establishing multilateral cooperation with a vast range of nations belonging to organizations such as the EAEU, the SCO, BRICS and ASEAN.

Welcome to the new Eurasian mantra: Make Economic Corridors, Not War.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

BRICS+: It’s Back with Scale and Ambition

June 28, 2022

http://infobrics.org/post/36006/

By Jaroslav Lissovolik

After several years of being relegated to backstage of the BRICS agenda, in 2022 the BRICS+ format is back and is at the very center of the discussions surrounding China’s chairmanship in the grouping. With the return of the BRICS+ paradigm the BRICS is going from introvert to extrovert and its greater global ambition raises hopes across the wide expanses of the Global South of material changes in the global economic system. The main question now centers on what the main trajectories of the evolution of the BRICS+ framework will be – thus far China appears to have advanced a multi-track approach that targets maximum scope and diversity in the operation of the BRICS-plus paradigm.

One of the novelties of China’s BRICS chairmanship in 2022 has been the launching of the extended BRICS+ meeting at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs that apart from the core BRICS countries also included representatives from Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal in Africa, Argentina from Latin America, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Thailand. And while the inclusion of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia may reflect their role in the G20 and overall size of their economies in the developing world, the inclusion of countries such as Senegal (chairmanship in the African Union in 2022), United Arab Emirates (chairmanship in the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2022) and Argentina (chairmanship in CELAC in 2022) is suggestive of a regional approach to building the BRICS+ platform.

That regional approach was also evidenced in the Forum of political parties, think-tanks and NGOs that was held on May 19th in BRICS+ format – among the countries invited to participate were Cambodia (chairmanship in ASEAN in 2022) as well as Senegal and Argentina that represented Africa and Latin America respectively. In effect China thus presented an inclusive format for dialogue spanning all the main regions of the Global South via aggregating the regional integration platforms in Eurasia, Africa and Latin America. Going forward this format may be further expanded to include other regional integration blocks from Eurasia, such as the GCC, EAEU and others.

During the meeting of foreign ministers of BRICS countries China also announced plans to open up the possibility of developing countries joining the core BRICS grouping. This approach differed to some degree from the line pursued by BRICS in the preceding years, when any expansion outside of the BRICS core was deemed to be the purview of the BRICS+ format. It remains to be seen whether the expansion in the core BRICS grouping is going to be supported by other members, but at this stage it appears unlikely that a speedy accession of any single developing economy is likely in the near term.

One important consideration in the future evolution of the BRICS+ format is its evenhandedness and balance observed between the main regions of the Global South. In this respect the inclusion of several countries into the “core BRICS” group may be fraught with risks of imbalances and asymmetries in terms of the representation of the main regions of the developing world in the core BRICS grouping. There is also the risk of greater complexity in arriving at a consensus with a wider circle of core BRICS members. While the option of joining the core should be kept open, there need to be clear and transparent criteria for the “BRICS accession process”.

Another issue relevant to the evolution of the BRICS+ framework is whether there should be a prioritization of the accession to the BRICS core of those developing economies that are members of the G20 grouping. In my view the G20 track for BRICS is a problematic one – the priorities of the Global South could get weakened and diluted within the broader G20 framework. There is also the question about the efficacy of G20 in coordinating the joint efforts of developing and developed economies in the past several years in overcoming the effects of the pandemic and the economic downturn. Rather than the goal of bringing the largest heavyweights into the core BRICS bloc from the G20 a more promising venue is the greater inclusivity of BRICS via the BRICS+ framework that allows smaller economies that are the regional partners of BRICS to have a say in the new global governance framework.

The next stage in the BRICS+ sequel is to be presented by China in June during the summit of BRICS+ countries. The world will be closely gauging further developments in the evolution of the BRICS+ format, but the most important result of China’s chairmanship in BRICS this year is that BRICS+ is squarely back on the agenda of global governance. The vitality in BRICS development will depend to a major degree on the success of the BRICS+ enterprise – an inert, introvert BRICS has neither global capacity, nor global mission. A stronger, more inclusive and open BRICS has the potential to become the basis for a new system of global governance.

Valdai Discussion Club

Source: Valdai Discussion Club

The Musket and the Noodle Stall: A Strategic Comparison

June 23, 2022

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By Fred Reed

In big-chunk terms, in the world today we see a contest between the Chinese economy and the American military, between Chinese dynamism and American coercion. Sure, China has a military and the US has an economy. Yet the emphasis, and spirit are as described.

The United States gives priority to the military over civilian economy, with military spending increasing at the expense of internal infrastructure and social needs. By contrast, China focuses on infrastructure within and trade without. I wonder whether Americans are aware of the extent of this. And its likely consequences.

To read the Asian-based press—Asia Times, Nikkei Asia, the South China Morning Post, the Global Times, and various tech sites—is to see a constant stream of infrastructure projects in China and advancing trade outside. As perhaps many know China promotes the Belt and Road Initiative, a massive program to connect all of Eurasia, as well as Africa and Latin America in a huge trade zone connected by rail, highways, fiber optics, maritime links, and commercial treaties. If completed it will dwarf the United States.

China, a rising technological center, leads the world in civil engineering, manufacturing, Five G, trade, and clearly intends to maintain the lead. All power ultimately rests on economic power. Below a few news stories more or less randomly chosen from around the web. Can you think of American equivalents?

China Mandalay Rail Line

“New international railway route from Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality to Mandalay, southern Myanmar, has officially started operation, with the first freight train departing from Chongqing on Monday, which will arrive in Mandalay about 20 days earlier than what it takes on traditional routes.”

The port will also further connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative and increase Chinese influence in Myanmar. Key word: Trade

America leads in phenomenally expensive aircraft carriers with serious developmental problems and no particular purpose. Google “Ford class carriers.”

China’s high-speed rail network hit the 40,000-kilometer mark by the end of 2021, reaching out to 93 percent of domestic cities with a population of over 500,000, An Lusheng, deputy head of National Railway Administration, said on Friday. This comes as the country ramps up a push to build itself into a transportation power.”

Fast, pervasive transportation greatly facilitates almost everything. Beijing has said it will have 30,000 miles in a few years. key words: manufacturing, trade, connectivity.

The first China-Russia highway bridge, which stretches from Heihe, a border city in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, to the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk spanning the Heilongjiang River, opened to traffic on Friday, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported. It will open a new international highway that will boost the connectivity between cities in China and Russia.“ A few days ago. Here we have more of China’s program to tie all of Eurasia into one interconnected web. Note that it says the “first” bridge. Key words: Trade, connectivity.

China plans new high-volume space-launch facility

“The new Ningbo spaceport, the nation’s fifth such facility, will give a crucial lift to Beijing’s new space programs as its rivalry with the United States reaches space. The spaceport is said to be tailor-made for Chinese commercial aerospace manufacturers and service providers to one day wrest business and foreign orders from US rivals.”

Typical China. Planning five years in advance. If this follows the country’s pattern, construction will begin and continue without interruption until completed. Keyword: Commercial.

America leads the world in overpriced fighter aircraft with a history of unending engineering problems. Google “F-35.”

Cargo carried via New Land-Sea Corridor in western China grows 38% in Jan-May”

“With the RCEP coming into effect, the corridor has played a bigger role in boosting trade between China and ASEAN. On April 8, four trains left Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, carrying aluminum products, agricultural equipment, industrial equipment, chemicals and food to Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia

The RCEP, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, is a vast commercial agreement among whose members are all of ASEAN, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and China.”

Key word: Trade.

Multi-functional modular seabed trencher developed by a Chinese firm has recently completed 100 kilometers of pipelines construction in “Bangladesh’s first marine pipeline project, setting two world records in directional drilling and deep trenching.”

My knowledge of pipeline trenching would be zero even after three cups of coffee and a hearty breakfast. I note, though that it is in Bangladesh: More connection of China and everywhere else. It also sounds like good engineering. Key words: Trade, connectivity.

The CKU Railways will create significant trade opportunities for Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan while linking China directly to the Middle East via Rail, with spin off benefits throughout the region.”

China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan will be tied more into the Central Asian ecosystem. Construction begins next year. Key words: Trade, connectivity.

America is unchallenged in funny-looking Batplane intercontinental nuclear bomber costing, says Aviation Week, $640 million a copy as America prepares to fill intense world demand for nuclear war. Google “B-21.”

The China-Laos Railway: Yunnan to Vientiane by Bullet Train

Written by Coco Yang Updated Feb. 11, 2022

On December 3rd 2021, the 1,035-km (643-mile) China-Laos Railway was fully opened making possible a bullet train journey of only 10 hours from Kunming to Vientiane, capital of Laos. Key word: Trade.

China-Europe freight train trips top 50,000, yearly growth of 55% from 2016 to 2021

“The value of goods transported by the cargo service skyrocketed to $74.9 billion in 2021, up from $8 billion dollars in 2016, and its share in total trade between China and Europe has increased from 1.5 to 8 percent, according to the release China State Railway Group sent to the Global Times.” America will probably try to block this traffic because it goes through Russia. Again, coercion over competition. Key word: Trade, connectivity.

Proposed US military budget: $857 billion. Keywords: Profits, stupidity.

China Hosts over Sixty Percent of World’s Five G Base Stations

“China had set up a total of nearly 1.43 million 5G base stations as of the end of 2021….”

And many more this year. As can be found by browsing tech sites, China leads in Five G patents, installed base, technology, and manufacturing capacity. Keywords: Trade, manufacturing.

Many millions of Americans can’t read, a hundred thousand a year die of opioid overdoses, the economy is a trainwreck, and despair grows, but the Pentagon has Space Command to give America “Total Spectrum Dominance,” which presumably will pay our mortgages.

China’s digital yuan extends usage into finance scenarios

“SHANGHAI, June 17 (Reuters) – China’s digital yuan can now be used to buy wealth management products, pay for insurance policies, and extend bank loans, as the central bank further expands e-CNY’s application beyond retail shopping, though still only in pilot schemes.”

China is the world’s leading major country in digital currency. Beijing is low-key about it but implications for global finance worry the US. Keywords: Money, connectivity.

US leads world in pricey, unnecessary but glamorous and profitable nuclear-missile submarines. Google “Columbia class submarines.”

China moves toward STEM leadership

Worth reading. “American” prowess in technology increasingly rests on East Asian and Indian scientists and engineers as the US destroys its schools to further inclusiveness. Keywords: Abject, stupidity.

Value of China-Vietnam Cross-border Freight Trains More Than Triples in Q1”

US holds world lead in ratio of money given to the Ukraine to number of citizens living on sidewalks.

China leader in supercomputers: “As of June 2021, 188 of the world’s 500 most powerful supercomputers were located in China, a figure which is a third more than that of its nearest competitor, the United States, which accounted for an additional 122 supercomputers. Together, the two nations account for around 60 percent of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.”

This needs to be read with caution. How the two stack up in aggregate computing power, whatever that means, I don’t know. The US just announced the first exascale computer at Oak Ridge. The Sunway Oceanlight from China is on many websites said to be exascale, but isn’t quite. The important point is that it is entirely of Chinese design from architecture to chips, using silicon of Chinese design and manufacture. It is remarkable that China can manage this in the face of American attempts to strangle the country technologically.

China Launches World’s Largest container Ship

A gorgeous monster. Check photo. China also has seven of the world’s largest cargo ports. Keyword: Trade

Trade deficit with China. Boring but worth a glance.

“During 2021, the United States exported $151,065,200,000 in products to China, but then imported $506,366,900,000 in products from China, resulting in $657,432,100,000 in total trade between the two countries–and a $355,301,700,000 deficit for the United States.” Keyword: Can you guess?

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St. Petersburg sets the stage for the War of Economic Corridors

In St. Petersburg, the world’s new powers gather to upend the US-concocted “rules-based order” and reconnect the globe their way

June 18 2022

The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

At St. Petersburg on Friday, backers of multipolarity pushed forward integration of their networksPhoto Credit: The Cradle

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum  has been configured for years now as absolutely essential to understand the evolving dynamics and the trials and tribulations of Eurasia integration.

St. Petersburg in 2022 is even more crucial as it directly connects to three simultaneous developments I had previously outlined, in no particular order:

First, the coming of the “new G8” – four BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China), plus Iran, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico, whose GDP per purchasing parity power (PPP) already dwarfs the old, western-dominated G8.

Second, the Chinese “Three Rings” strategy of developing geoeconomic relations with its neighbors and partners.

Third, the development of BRICS+, or extended BRICS, including some members of the “new G8,” to be discussed at the upcoming summit in China.

There was hardly any doubt President Putin would be the star of St. Petersburg 2022, delivering a sharp, detailed speech to the plenary session.

Among the highlights, Putin smashed the illusions of the so-called ‘golden billion’ who live in the industrialized west (only 12 percent of the global population) and the “irresponsible macroeconomic policies of the G7 countries.”

The Russian president noted how “EU losses due to sanctions against Russia” could exceed $400 billion per year, and that Europe’s high energy prices – something that actually started “in the third quarter of last year” – are due to “blindly believing in renewable sources.”

He also duly dismissed the west’s ‘Putin price hike’ propaganda, saying the food and energy crisis is linked to misguided western economic policies, i.e., “Russian grain and fertilizers are being sanctioned” to the detriment of the west.

In a nutshell: the west misjudged Russia’s sovereignty when sanctioning it, and now is paying a very heavy price.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressing the forum by video, sent a message to the whole Global South. He evoked “true multilateralism,” insisting that emerging markets must have “a say in global economic management,” and called for “improved North-South and South-South dialogue.”

It was up to Kazakh President Tokayev, the ruler of a deeply strategic partner of both Russia and China, to deliver the punch line in person: Eurasia integration should progress hand in hand with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Here it is, full circle.

Building a long-term strategy “in weeks”

St. Petersburg offered several engrossing discussions on key themes and sub-themes of Eurasia integration, such as business within the scope of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); aspects of the Russia-China strategic partnership; what’s ahead for the BRICS; and prospects for the Russian financial sector.

One of the most important discussions was focused on the increasing interaction between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and ASEAN, a key example of what the Chinese would define as ‘South-South cooperation.’

And that connected to the still long and winding road leading to deeper integration of the EAEU itself.

This implies steps towards more self-sufficient economic development for members; establishing the priorities for import substitution; harnessing all the transport and logistical potential; developing trans-Eurasian corporations; and imprinting the EAEU ‘brand’ in a new system of global economic relations.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk was particularly sharp on the pressing matters at hand: implementing a full free trade customs and economic union – plus a unified payment system – with simplified direct settlements using the Mir payment card to reach new markets in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Persian Gulf.

In a new era defined by Russian business circles as “the game with no rules” – debunking the US-coined “rules-based international order” – another relevant discussion, featuring key Putin adviser Maxim Oreshkin, focused on what should be the priorities for big business and the financial sector in connection to the state’s economic and foreign policy.

The consensus is that the current ‘rules’ have been written by the west. Russia could only connect to existing mechanisms, underpinned by international law and institutions. But then the west tried to  “squeeze us out” and even “to cancel Russia.” So it’s time to “replace the no-rules rules.” That’s a key theme underlying the concept of ‘sovereignty’ developed by Putin in his plenary address.

In another important discussion chaired by the CEO of western-sanctioned Sberbank Herman Gref, there was much hand-wringing about the fact that the Russian “evolutionary leap forward towards 2030” should have happened sooner. Now a “long-term strategy has to be built in weeks,” with supply chains breaking down all across the spectrum.

A question was posed to the audience – the crème de la crème of Russia’s business community: what would you recommend, increased trade with the east, or redirecting the structure of the Russian economy? A whopping 72 percent voted for the latter.

So now we come to the crunch, as all these themes interact when we look at what happened only a few days before St. Petersburg.

The Russia-Iran-India corridor

A key node of the International North South Transportation Corridor (INTSC) is now in play, linking northwest Russia to the Persian Gulf via the Caspian Sea and Iran. The transportation time between St. Petersburg and Indian ports is 25 days.

This logistical corridor with multimodal transportation carries an enormous geopolitical significance for two BRICs members and a prospective member of the “new G8” because it opens a key alternative route to the usual cargo trail from Asia to Europe via the Suez canal.

The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC)

The INSTC corridor is a classic South-South integration project: a 7,200-km-long multimodal network of ship, rail, and road routes interlinking India, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia all the way to Finland in the Baltic Sea.

Technically, picture a set of containers going overland from St. Petersburg to Astrakhan. Then the cargo sails via the Caspian to the Iranian port of Bandar Anzeli. Then it’s transported overland to the port of Bandar Abbas. And then overseas to Nava Sheva, the largest seaport in India. The key operator is Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (the IRISL group), which has branches in both Russia and India.

And that brings us to what wars from now will be fought about: transportation corridors – and not territorial conquest.

Beijing’s fast-paced BRI is seen as an existential threat to the ‘rules-based international order.’ It develops along six overland corridors across Eurasia, plus the Maritime Silk Road from the South China Sea, and the Indian Ocean, all the way to Europe.

One of the key targets of NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine is to interrupt BRI corridors across Russia. The Empire will go all out to interrupt not only BRI but also INSTC nodes. Afghanistan under US occupation was prevented from become a node for either BRI or INSTC.

With full access to the Sea of Azov – now a “Russian lake” – and arguably the whole Black Sea coastline further on down the road, Moscow will hugely increase its sea trading prospects (Putin: “The Black Sea was historically Russian territory”).

For the past two decades, energy corridors have been heavily politicized and are at the center of unforgiving global pipeline competitions – from BTC and South Stream to Nord Stream 1 and 2, and the never-ending soap operas, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipelines.

Then there’s the Northern Sea Route alongside the Russian coastline all the way to the Barents Sea. China and India are very much focused on the Northern Sea Route, not by accident also  discussed in detail in St. Petersburg.

The contrast between the St. Petersburg debates on a possible re-wiring of our world – and the Three Stooges Taking a Train to Nowhere to tell a mediocre Ukrainian comedian to calm down and negotiate his surrender (as confirmed by German intelligence) – could not be starker.

Almost imperceptibly – just as it re-incorporated Crimea and entered the Syrian theater – Russia as a military-energy superpower now shows it is potentially capable of driving a great deal of the industrialized west back into the Stone Age. The western elites are just helpless. If only they could ride a corridor on the Eurasian high-speed train, they might learn something.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

President Putin: St Petersburg International Economic Forum Plenary session

June 18, 2022

Ed Note:  This transcript is not fully complete but we post it because of the renewed DDoS attacks on Russian infrastructure.  When it is complete, we will do an update.   (Mr Putin was on top form with an excellent, even exhaustive and detailed economic tour de force for Russia, and then of course for the sane world, or our Zone B).

Pepe Escobar created a very high-level summary:

THE NEW ERA

Top Ten Breakdown – as announced by Putin

  • The era of the unipolar world is over.
  • The rupture with the West is irreversible and definitive. No pressure from the West will change it.
  • Russia has renewed its sovereignty. Reinforcement of political and economic sovereignty is an absolute priority.
  • The current crisis shows the EU is not ready to play the role of an independent, sovereign actor. It’s just an ensemble of American vassals deprived of any politico-military sovereignty.
  • Sovereignty cannot be partial. Either you’re a sovereign or a colony.
  • Hunger in the poorest nations will be on the conscience of the West and Euro-democracy.
  • Russia will supply grains to Africa and the Middle East.
  • Russia will invest in internal economic development and reorientation of trade towards nations independent of the US.
  • The future world order, currently in progress, will be formed by strong sovereign states.
  • The ship has sailed. There’s no turning back.

A further summary from RT rounds it out:  https://www.rt.com/russia/557346-putin-spief-speech-takeaways/


http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/68669

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also took part in the session. President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addressed the session via videoconference.

The theme this year is New Opportunities in a New World.

* * *

Plenary session moderator Margarita Simonyan: Good afternoon, or almost evening.

As you may know, we had a minor technical issue. Thankfully, it has been dealt with quickly. We are grateful to those who resolved this.

We are also grateful to the audience.

We are grateful to our leader, President Vladimir Putin, for traditionally fitting this forum into his schedule so that he can tell us about economic prospects and other plans.

We are grateful to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for attending our forum. We know that it is not an easy thing to do. Thank you for supporting our forum and our country. We really appreciate this.

We will have a lot of questions today. You may not like some of them, and I may not be happy to ask some of them. We would be much happier to speak only about good things, but this is impossible today.

Mr President, I would like to ask you to take the stand and to tell us what lies in store for us all. Thank you.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. President Tokayev, friends and colleagues,

I welcome all participants and guests of the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

It is taking place at a difficult time for the international community when the economy, markets and the very principles of the global economic system have taken a blow. Many trade, industrial and logistics chains, which were dislocated by the pandemic, have been subjected to new tests. Moreover, such fundamental business notions as business reputation, the inviolability of property and trust in global currencies have been seriously damaged. Regrettably, they have been undermined by our Western partners, who have done this deliberately, for the sake of their ambitions and in order to preserve obsolete geopolitical illusions.

Today, our – when I say “our,” I mean the Russian leadership – our own view of the global economic situation. I would like to speak in greater depth about the actions Russia is taking in these conditions and how it plans to develop in these dynamically changing circumstances.

When I spoke at the Davos Forum a year and a half ago, I also stressed that … the era of a unipolar world order has come to an end. I want to start with this, as there is no way around it. This era has ended despite all the attempts to maintain and preserve it at all costs. Change is a natural process of history, as it is difficult to reconcile the diversity of civilisations and the richness of cultures on the planet with political, economic or other stereotypes – these do not work here, they are imposed by one centre in a rough and no-compromise manner.

The flaw is in the concept itself, as the concept says there is one, albeit strong, power with a limited circle of close allies, or, as they say, countries with granted access, and all business practices and international relations, when it is convenient, are interpreted solely in the interests of this power. They essentially work in one direction in a zero-sum game. A world built on a doctrine of this kind is definitely unstable.

After declaring victory in the Cold War, the United States proclaimed itself to be God’s messenger on Earth, …without any obligations and only interests which were declared sacred. They seem to ignore the fact that in the past decades, new powerful and increasingly assertive centres have been formed. Each of them develops its own political system and public institutions according to its own model of economic growth and, naturally, has the right to protect them and to secure national sovereignty.

These are objective processes and genuinely revolutionary tectonic shifts in geopolitics, the global economy and technology, in the entire system of international relations, where the role of dynamic and potentially strong countries and regions is substantially growing. It is no longer possible to ignore their interests.

To reiterate, these changes are fundamental, groundbreaking and rigorous. It would be a mistake to assume that at a time of turbulent change, one can simply sit it out or wait it out until everything gets back on track and becomes what it was before. It will not.

However, the ruling elite of some Western states seem to be harbouring this kind of illusions. They refuse to notice obvious things, stubbornly clinging to the shadows of the past. For example, they seem to believe that the dominance of the West in global politics and the economy is an unchanging, eternal value. Nothing lasts forever.

Our colleagues are not just denying reality. More than that; they are trying to reverse the course of history. They seem to think in terms of the past century. They are still influenced by their own misconceptions about countries outside the so-called “golden billion”: they consider everything a backwater, or their backyard. They still treat them like colonies, and the people living there, like second-class people, because they consider themselves exceptional. If they are exceptional, that means everyone else is second rate.

Thereby, the irrepressible urge to punish, to economically crush anyone who does not fit with the mainstream, does not want to blindly obey. Moreover, they crudely and shamelessly impose their ethics, their views on culture and ideas about history, sometimes questioning the sovereignty and integrity of states, and threatening their very existence. Suffice it to recall what happened in Yugoslavia, Syria, Libya and Iraq.

If some “rebel” state cannot be suppressed or pacified, they try to isolate that state, or “cancel” it, to use their modern term. Everything goes, even sports, the Olympics, bans on culture and art masterpieces just because their creators come from the “wrong” country.

This is the nature of the current round of Russophobia in the West, and the insane sanctions against Russia. They are crazy and, I would say, thoughtless.They are unprecedented in the number of them or the pace the West churns them out at.

The idea was clear as day – they expected to suddenly and violently crush the Russian economy, to hit Russia’s industry, finance, and people’s living standards by destroying business chains, forcibly recalling Western companies from the Russian market, and freezing Russian assets.

This did not work. Obviously, it did not work out; it did not happen. Russian entrepreneurs and authorities have acted in a collected and professional manner, and Russians have shown solidarity and responsibility.

Step by step, we will normalise the economic situation. We have stabilised the financial markets, the banking system and the trade network. Now we are busy saturating the economy with liquidity and working capital to maintain the stable operation of enterprises and companies, employment and jobs.

The dire forecasts for the prospects of the Russian economy, which were made in early spring, have not materialised. It is clear why this propaganda campaign was fuelled and all the predictions of the dollar at 200 rubles and the collapse of our economy were made. This was and remains an instrument in an information struggle and a factor of psychological influence on Russian society and domestic business circles.

Incidentally, some of our analysts gave in to this external pressure and based their forecasts on the inevitable collapse of the Russian economy and a critical weakening of the national currency – the ruble.

Real life has belied these predictions. However, I would like to emphasise that to continue being successful, we must be explicitly honest and realistic in assessing the situation, be independent in reaching conclusions, and of course, have a can-do spirit, which is very important. We are strong people and can deal with any challenge. Like our predecessors, we can resolve any task. The entire thousand-year history of our country bears this out.

Within just three months of the massive package of sanctions, we have suppressed inflation rate spikes. As you know, after peaking at 17.8 percent, inflation now stands at 16.7 percent and continues dropping. This economic dynamic is being stabilised, and state finances are now sustainable. I will compare this to other regions further on. Yes, even this figure is too much for us – 16.7 percent is high inflation. We must and will work on this and, I am sure, we will achieve a positive result.

After the first five months of this year, the federal budget has a surplus of 1.5 trillion rubles and the consolidated budget – a surplus of 3.3 trillion rubles. In May alone, the federal budget surplus reached almost half a trillion rubles, surpassing the figure for May 2021 more than four times over.

Today, our job us to create conditions for building up production and increasing supply in the domestic market, as well as restoring demand and bank financing in the economy commensurately with the growth in supply.

I mentioned that we have taken measures to reestablish the floating assets of companies. In most sectors, businesses have received the right to suspend insurance premiums for the second quarter of the year. Industrial companies have even more opportunities – they will be able to delay them through the third quarter as well. In effect, this is like getting an interest-free loan from the state.

In the future, companies will not have to pay delayed insurance premiums in a single payment. They will be able to pay them in equal installments over 12 months, starting in June next year.

Next. As of May the subsidised mortgage rate has been reduced. It is now 9 percent, while the programme has been extended till the end of the year. As I have mentioned, the programme is aimed at helping Russians improve their housing situation, while supporting the home building industry and related industries that employ millions of people.

Following a spike this spring, interest rates have been gradually coming down, as the Central Bank lowers the key rate. I believe that that this allows the subsidised mortgage rate to be further cut to 7 percent.

What is important here? The programme will last until the end of the year without change. It means that our fellow Russians seeking to improve their living conditions should take advantage of the subsidy before the end of the year.

The lending cap will not change either, at 12 million roubles for Moscow and St Petersburg and 6 million for the rest of Russia.

I should add that we must make long-term loans for businesses more accessible. The focus must shift from budget subsidies for businesses to bank lending as a means to spur business activity.

We need to support this. We will allocate 120 billion rubles from the National Wealth Fund to build up the capacity of the VEB Project Financing Factory. This will provide for additional lending to much-needed initiatives and projects worth around half a trillion roubles.

Colleagues,

Once again, the economic blitzkrieg against Russia was doomed to fail from the beginning. Sanctions as a weapon have proved in recent years to be a double-edged sword damaging their advocates and architects just a much, if not more.

I am not talking about the repercussions we see clearly today. We know that European leaders informally, so to say, furtively, discuss the very concerning possibility of sanctions being levelled not at Russia, but at any undesirable nation, and ultimately anyone including the EU and European companies.

So far this is not the case, but European politicians have already dealt their economies a serious blow all by themselves. We see social and economic problems worsening in Europe, and in the US as well, food, electricity and fuel prices rising, with quality of life in Europe falling and companies losing their market edge.

According to experts, the EU’s direct, calculable losses from the sanctions fever could exceed $400 billion this year. This is the price of the decisions that are far removed from reality and contradict common sense.

These outlays fall directly on the shoulders of people and companies in the EU. The inflation rate in some Eurozone countries has exceeded 20 percent. I mentioned inflation in Russia, but the Eurozone countries are not conducting special military operations, yet the inflation rate in some of them has reached 20 percent. Inflation in the United States is also unacceptable, the highest in the past 40 years.

Of course, inflation in Russia is also in the double digits so far. However, we have adjusted social benefits and pensions to inflation, and increased the minimum and subsistence wages, thereby protecting the most vulnerable groups of the population. At the same time, high interest rates have helped people keep their savings in the Russian banking system.

Businesspeople know, of course, that a high key rate clearly slows economic development. But it is a boon for the people in most cases. They have reinvested a substantial amount of money in banks due to higher interest rates.

This is our main difference from the EU countries, where rising inflation is directly reducing the real incomes of the people and eating up their savings, and the current manifestations of the crisis are affecting, above all, low-income groups.

The growing outlays of European companies and the loss of the Russian market will have lasting negative effects. The obvious result of this will be the loss of global competitiveness and a system-wide decline in the European economies’ pace of growth for years to come.

Taken together, this will aggravate the deep-seated problems of European societies. Yes, we have many problems as well, yet I have to speak about Europe now because they are pointing the finger at us although they have enough of their own problems. I mentioned this at Davos. A direct result of the European politicians’ actions and events this year will be the further growth of inequality in these countries, which will, in turn, split their societies still more, and the point at issue is not only the well-being but also the value orientation of various groups in these societies.

Indeed, these differences are being suppressed and swept under the rug. Frankly, the democratic procedures and elections in Europe and the forces that come to power look like a front, because almost identical political parties come and go, while deep down things remain the same. The real interests of people and national businesses are being pushed further and further to the periphery.

Such a disconnect from reality and the demands of society will inevitably lead to a surge in populism and extremist and radical movements, major socioeconomic changes, degradation and a change of elites in the short term. As you can see, traditional parties lose all the time. New entities are coming to the surface, but they have little chance for survival if they are not much different from the existing ones.

The attempts to keep up appearances and the talk about allegedly acceptable costs in the name of pseudo-unity cannot hide the main thing: the European Union has lost its political sovereignty, and its bureaucratic elites are dancing to someone else’s tune, doing everything they are told from on high and hurting their own people, economies, and businesses.

There are other critically important matters here. The worsening of the global economic situation is not a recent development. I will now go over things that I believe are extremely important. What is happening now does not stem from what happened during recent months, of course not. Moreover, it is not the result of the special military operation carried out by Russia in Donbass. Saying so is an unconcealed, deliberate distortion of the facts.

Surging inflation in product and commodity markets had become a fact of life long before the events of this year. The world has been driven into this situation, little by little, by many years of irresponsible macroeconomic policies pursued by the G7 countries, including uncontrolled emission and accumulation of unsecured debt. These processes intensified with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, when supply and demand for goods and services drastically fell on a global scale.

This begs the question: what does our military operation in Donbass have to do with this? Nothing whatsoever.

Because they could not or would not devise any other recipes, the governments of the leading Western economies simply accelerated their money-printing machines. Such a simple way to make up for unprecedented budget deficits.

I have already cited this figure: over the past two years, the money supply in the United States has grown by more than 38 percent. Previously, a similar rise took decades, but now it grew by 38 percent or 5.9 trillion dollars in two years. By comparison, only a few countries have a bigger gross domestic product.

The EU’s money supply has also increased dramatically over this period. It grew by about 20 percent, or 2.5 trillion euros.

Lately, I have been hearing more and more about the so-called – please excuse me, I really would not like to do this here, even mention my own name in this regard, but I cannot help it – we all hear about the so-called ‘Putin inflation’ in the West. When I see this, I wonder who they expect would buy this nonsense – people who cannot read or write, maybe. Anyone literate enough to read would understand what is actually happening.

Russia, our actions to liberate Donbass have absolutely nothing to do with this. The rising prices, accelerating inflation, shortages of food and fuel, petrol, and problems in the energy sector are the result of system-wide errors the current US administration and European bureaucracy have made in their economic policies. That is where the reasons are, and only there.

I will mention our operation, too: yes, it could have contributed to the trend, but the root cause is precisely this – their erroneous economic policies. In fact, the operation we launched in Donbass is a lifeline they are grabbing at to be able to blame their own miscalculations on others, in this case, on Russia. But everyone who has at least completed primary school would understand the true reasons for today’s situation.

So, they printed more money, and then what? Where did all that money go? It was obviously used to pay for goods and services outside Western countries – this is where the newly-printed money flowed. They literally began to clean out, to wipe out global markets. Naturally, no one thought about the interests of other states, including the poorest ones. They were left with scraps, as they say, and even that at exorbitant prices.

While at the end of 2019, imports of goods to the United States amounted to about 250 billion dollars a month, by now, it has grown to 350 billion. It is noteworthy that the growth was 40 percent – exactly in proportion to the unsecured money supply printed in recent years. They printed and distributed money, and used it to wipe out goods from third countries’ markets.

This is what I would like to add. For a long time, the United States was a big food supplier in the world market. It was proud, and with good reason, of its achievements, its agriculture and farming traditions. By the way, this is an example for many of us, too. But today, America’s role has changed drastically. It has turned from a net exporter of food into a net importer. Loosely speaking, it is printing money and pulling commodity flows its way, buying food products all over the world.

The European Union is building up imports even faster. Obviously, such a sharp increase in demand that is not covered by the supply of goods has triggered a wave of shortages and global inflation. This is where this global inflation originates. In the past couple of years, practically everything – raw materials, consumer goods and particularly food products – has become more expensive all over the world.

Yes, of course, these countries, including the United States continue importing goods, but the balance between exports and imports has been reversed. I believe imports exceed exports by some 17 billion. This is the whole problem.

According to the UN, in February 2022, the food price index was 50 percent higher than in May 2020, while the composite raw materials index has doubled over this period.

Under the cloud of inflation, many developing nations are asking a good question: why exchange goods for dollars and euros that are losing value right before our eyes? The conclusion suggests itself: the economy of mythical entities is inevitably being replaced by the economy of real values and assets.

According to the IMF, global currency reserves are at $7.1 trillion and 2.5 trillion euros now. These reserves are devalued at an annual rate of about 8 percent. Moreover, they can be confiscated or stolen any time if the United States dislikes something in the policy of the states involved. I think this has become a very real threat for many countries that keep their gold and foreign exchange reserves in these currencies.

According to analyst estimates, and this is an objective analysis, a conversion of global reserves will begin just because there is no room for them with such shortages. They will be converted from weakening currencies into real resources like food, energy commodities and other raw materials. Other countries will be doing this, of course. Obviously, this process will further fuel global dollar inflation.

As for Europe, their failed energy policy, blindly staking everything on renewables and spot supplies of natural gas, which have caused energy price increases since the third quarter of last year – again, long before the operation in Donbass – have also exacerbated price hikes. We have absolutely nothing to do with this. It was due to their own actions that prices have gone through the roof, and now they are once again looking for somebody to blame.

Not only did the West’s miscalculations affect the net cost of goods and services but they also resulted in decreased fertiliser production, mainly nitrogen fertilisers made from natural gas. Overall, global fertiliser prices have jumped by over 70 percent from mid-2021 through February 2022.

Unfortunately, there are currently no conditions that can overcome these pricing trends. On the contrary, aggravated by obstacles to the operation of Russian and Belarusian fertiliser producers and disrupted supply logistics, this situation is approaching a deadlock.

It is not difficult to foresee coming developments. A shortage of fertiliser means a lower harvest and a higher risk of an undersupplied global food market. Prices will go even higher, which could lead to hunger in the poorest countries. And it will be fully on the conscience of the US administration and the European bureaucracy.

I want to emphasise once again: this problem did not arise today or in the past three or four months. And certainly, it is not Russia’s fault as some demagogues try to declare, shifting the responsibility for the current state of affairs in the world economy to our country.

Maybe it would even be nice to hear that we are so powerful and omnipotent that we can blow up inflation in the West, in the United States and Europe, or that we can do things to throw everything into disorder. Maybe it would be nice to feel this power, if only there were truth in it. This situation has been brewing for years, spurred by the short-sighted actions of those who are used to solving their problems at somebody else’s expense and who have relied and still rely on the mechanism of financial emission to outbid and draw trade flows, thus escalating deficits and provoking humanitarian disasters in certain regions of the world. I will add that this is essentially the same predatory colonial policy as in the past, but of course in a new iteration, a more subtle and sophisticated edition. You might not even recognise it at first.

The current priority of the international community is to increase food deliveries to the global market, notably, to satisfy the requirements of the countries that need food most of all.

While ensuring its domestic food security and supplying the domestic market, Russia is also able to scale up its food and fertiliser exports. For example, our grain exports in the next season can be increased to 50 million tonnes.

As a priority, we will supply the countries that need food most of all, where the number of starving people could increase, first of all, African countries and the Middle East.

At the same time, there will be problems there, and not through our fault either. Yes, on paper Russian grain, food and fertilisers… Incidentally, the Americans have adopted sanctions on our fertilisers, and the Europeans followed suit. Later, the Americans lifted them because they saw what this could lead to.

But the Europeans have not backed off. Their bureaucracy is as slow as a flour mill in the 18th century. In other words, everyone knows that they have done a stupid thing, but they find it difficult to retrace their steps for bureaucratic reasons.

As I have said, Russia is ready to contribute to balancing global markets of agricultural products, and we see that our UN colleagues, who are aware of the scale of the global food problem, are ready for dialogue. We could talk about creating normal logistical, financial and transport conditions for increasing Russian food and fertiliser exports.

As for Ukrainian food supplies to global markets – I have to mention this because of numerous speculations – we are not hindering them. They can do it. We did not mine the Black Sea ports of Ukraine. They can clear the mines and resume food exports. We will ensure the safe navigation of civilian vessels. No problem.

But what are we talking about? According to the US Department of Agriculture, the matter concerns 6 million tonnes of wheat (we estimate it at 5 million tonnes) and 7 million tonnes of maize. This is it, altogether. Since global production of wheat stands at 800 million tonnes, 5 million tonnes make little difference for the global market, as you can see.

Anyway, Ukrainian grain can be exported, and not only via Black Sea ports. Another route is via Belarus, which is, incidentally, the cheapest way. Or via Poland or Romania, whichever you prefer. In fact, there are five or six export routes.

The problem is not with us, the problem is with the adequacy of the people in control in Kiev. They can decide what to do, and, at least in this particular case, they should not take their lead from their foreign bosses, their masters across the ocean.

But there is also the risk that grain will be used as payment for arms deliveries. This would be regrettable.

Friends,

Once again, the world is going through an era of drastic change. International institutions are breaking down and faltering. Security guarantees are being devalued. The West has made a point of refusing to honour its earlier commitments. It has simply been impossible to reach any new agreements with them.

Given these circumstances and against the backdrop of mounting risks and threats, Russia was forced to go ahead with the special military operation. It was a difficult but necessary decision, and we were forced to make it.

This was the decision of a sovereign country, which has еру unconditional right to uphold its security, which is based on the UN Charter. This decision was aimed at protecting our people and the residents of the people’s republics of Donbass who for eight long years were subjected to genocide by the Kiev regime and the neo-Nazis who enjoyed the full protection of the West.

The West not only sought to implement an “anti-Russia” scenario, but also engaged in the active military development of Ukrainian territory, flooding Ukraine with weapons and military advisers. And it continues to do so now. Frankly, no one is paying any attention to the economy or well-being of the people living there, they just do not care about it at all, but they have never spared money to create a NATO foothold in the east that is directed against Russia and to cultivate aggression, hatred and Russophobia.

Today, our soldiers and officers, as well as the Donbass militia, are fighting to protect their people. They are fighting for Russia’s future as a large, free and secure multiethnic country that makes its own decisions, determines its own future, relies on its history, culture and traditions, and rejects any and all outside attempts to impose pseudo-values steeped in dehumanisation and moral degradation.

No doubt, our special military operation goals will be fulfilled. The key to this is the courage and heroism of our soldiers, consolidated Russian society, whose support gives strength and confidence to the Russian Army and Navy and a deep understanding of the truth and historical justice of our cause which is to build and strengthen Russia as a strong sovereign power.

My point is that sovereignty cannot be segmented or fragmented in the 21st century. The components of sovereignty are equally important, and they reinvigorate and complement each other.

So, what matters to us is not only the defence of our political sovereignty and national identity, but also strengthening everything that determines our country’s economic, financial, professional and technological independence.

The very structure of Western sanctions rested on the false premise that economically Russia is not sovereign and is critically vulnerable. They got so carried away spreading the myth of Russia’s backwardness and its weak positions in the global economy and trade that apparently, they started believing it themselves.

While planning their economic blitzkrieg, they did not notice, simply ignored the real facts of how much our country had changed in the past few years.

These changes are the result of our planned efforts to create a sustainable macroeconomic structure, ensure food security, implement import substitution programmes and create our own payment system, to name a few.

Of course, sanction restrictions created many challenges for the country. Some companies continue having problems with spare parts. Our companies have lost access to many technological solutions. Logistics are in disarray.

But, on the other hand, all this opens up new opportunities for us – we often talk about this but it really is so. All this is an impetus to build an economy with full rather than partial technological, production, human and scientific potential and sovereignty.

Naturally, it is impossible to resolve such a comprehensive challenge instantly. It is necessary to continue working systematically with an eye to the future. This is exactly what Russia is doing by implementing its long-term plans for the development of branches of the economy and strengthening the social sphere. The current trials are merely resulting in adjustments and modifications of the plans without changing their strategic orientation.

Today, I would like to talk about the key principles on which our country, our economy will develop.

The first principle is openness. Genuinely sovereign states are always interested in equal partnership and in contributing to global development. On the contrary, weak and dependent countries are usually looking for enemies, fuelling xenophobia or losing the last remnants of their identity and independence, blindly following in the wake of their suzerain.

Russia will never follow the road of self-isolation and autarky although our so-called Western friends are literally dreaming about this. Moreover, we are expanding cooperation with all those who are interested in it, who want to work with us, and will continue to do so. … They make up the overwhelming majority of people on Earth.

I will not list all these countries now. It is common knowledge.

I will say nothing new when I remind you that everyone who wants to continue working or is working with Russia is subjected to blatant pressure from the United States and Europe; it goes as far as direct threats. However, this kind of blackmail means little when it comes to countries headed by true leaders who know the difference between their own national interests, the interests of their people – and someone else’s.

Russia will build up economic cooperation with these states and promote joint projects. At the same time, we will certainly continue to cooperate with Western companies that have remained in the Russian market despite the unprecedented arm-twisting – such companies exist, too.

We believe the development of a convenient and independent payment infrastructure in national currencies is a solid and predictable basis for deepening international cooperation. To help companies from other countries develop logistical and cooperation ties, we are working to improve transport corridors, increase the capacity of railways, transshipment capacity at ports in the Arctic, and in the eastern, southern and other parts of the country, including in the Azov-Black Sea and Caspian basins – they will become the most important section of the North-South Corridor, which will provide stable connectivity with the Middle East and Southern Asia. We expect freight traffic along this route to begin growing steadily in the near future.

But foreign trade is not our only priority. Russia intends to increase scientific, technological, cultural, humanitarian and sports cooperation based on equality and mutual respect between partners. At the same time, our country will strive for responsible leadership in all these areas.

The second principle of our long-term development is a reliance on entrepreneurial freedom. Every private initiative aimed at benefiting Russia should receive maximum support and space for implementation.

The pandemic and the more recent events have confirmed how important flexibility and freedom are in the economy. Russian private businesses – in tough conditions, amid attempts to restrain our development by any means – have proved they can compete in global markets. Private businesses should also be credited for Russia’s adaptation to rapidly changing external conditions. Russia needs to ensure the dynamic development of the economy – naturally, relying on private business.

We will continue to reduce administrative hurdles. For example, in 2016–2018, we imposed a moratorium on routine audits of small businesses. Subsequently, it was extended through 2022. In 2020, this moratorium was extended to cover mid-sized companies. Also, the number of unscheduled audits decreased approximately fourfold.

We did not stop at that, and last March, we cancelled routine audits for all entrepreneurs, regardless of the size of their businesses, provided their activities do not put people or the environment at high risk. As a result, the number of routine audits has declined sixfold compared to last year.

Why am I giving so many details? The point is that after the moratorium on audits was imposed, the number of violations by entrepreneurs – this was the result – has not increased, but rather it has gone down. This testifies to the maturity and responsibility of Russian businesses. Of course, they should be offered motivation rather than being forced to observe regulations and requirements.

So, there is every reason to take another radical step forward, that is, to abandon, for good and on a permanent basis, the majority of audits for all Russian businesses, except on risky or potentially dangerous activities. Everyone has long since understood that there was no need to check on everyone without exception. A risk-oriented approach should be at work. I ask the Government to develop the specific parameters of such a reform in the next few months.

There is another very sensitive topic for business, which has also become important today for our national security and economic resilience. To reduce and bring to a minimum all sorts of abuse and loopholes to exert pressure on entrepreneurs, we are consistently removing loose regulations from criminal law that are applied to economic crimes.

Last March, a law was signed, under which tax-related criminal cases against entrepreneurs shall only be brought before a court by the tax service – there is no other way. Soon a draft law will be passed on reducing the statute of limitations for tax-related crimes and on rejecting lawsuits to initiate criminal proceedings after tax arrears have been paid off.

Working comprehensively, although prudently, we need to decriminalise a wide range of economic offenses, for instance, those that punish businesses without a licence or accreditation. This is a controversial practice today because our Western partners illegitimately refuse to provide such licenses.

Our own agencies must not single-handedly make our businesses criminally liable for actually doing nothing wrong. The problem is this, and small businesses understand it very well – if a licence has expired, and Western partners refuse to extend it, what are businesses to do, wrap up operations? By no means, let them work. State oversight should continue, but there should be no undue interference in business.

It also makes sense to think about raising the threshold of criminal liability for unpaid customs duties and other such taxes. Additionally, we have not for a long time reconsidered the parameters of the terms ‘large’ and ‘very large’ economic loss for the purposes of economic offences despite inflation accruing 50 percent since 2016. The law now fails to reflect the current realities and needs to be corrected.

We need to reconsider the conditions for detaining entrepreneurs and for extending preliminary investigations. It is no secret that these practices have long been used inappropriately.

Businesses have been forced to cease operations or go bankrupt even before the investigation is over. The reputation of the owners and of the brand name suffers as a result, not to mention the direct financial loss, loss of market share and jobs.

I want to ask law enforcement to put an end to these practices. I also ask the Government and the Supreme Court to draft appropriate legislation before October 1 of this year.

In addition, at the Security Council, a special instruction was given to look into criminal cases being opened without later proceeding to court. The number of such cases has grown in recent years. We know the reasons. A case is often opened without sufficient grounds or to put pressure on individuals. We will discuss this in autumn to take legislative action and change the way our law enforcement agencies work.

It goes without saying that regional governments play a major role in creating a modern business environment. As is customary during the St Petersburg Forum, I highlight the regions that have made significant progress in the National Investment Climate Rankings compiled by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives.

There have been changes in the top three. Moscow and Tatarstan have remained at the top and were joined by the Moscow Region which, in a span of one year, went from eighth place to the top three. The leaders of the rankings also include the Tula, Nizhny Novgorod, Tyumen, Novgorod, and Sakhalin regions, St Petersburg and Bashkortostan.

Separately, I would like to highlight the regions that have made the greatest strides such as the Kurgan Region, which moved up 36 spots; the Perm Territory and the Altai Territory, up 26 spots; Ingushetia, up 24 spots; and the Ivanovo Region which moved up 17 spots.

I want to thank and congratulate our colleagues in the regions for their good work.

The federal government and regional and municipal governments should focus on supporting individual business initiatives in small towns and remote rural communities. We are aware of such stories of success. That includes developing popular software and marketing locally produced organic food and environmentally friendly products nationwide using domestic websites.

It is important to create new opportunities, to introduce modern retail formats, including e-commerce platforms, as I mentioned above, and to cut the logistics, transportation and other costs, including by using upgraded Russian Post offices.

It is also important to help small business employees, self-employed individuals and start-up entrepreneurs acquire additional skills and competencies. Please include corresponding measures tailored specifically to small towns and rural and remote areas as a separate line in the national project for promoting small and medium-sized businesses.

Today I would like to address our officials, owners of large companies, our business leaders and executives.

Colleagues, friends,

Real, stable success and a sense of dignity and self-respect only come when you link your future and the future of your children with your Fatherland. We have maintained ties with many people for a long time, and I am aware of the sentiments of many of the heads and owners of our companies. You have told me many times that business is much more than just making a profit, and I fully agree. It is about changing life around you, contributing to the development of your home cities, regions and the country as a whole, which is extremely important for self-fulfilment. There is nothing like serving the people and society. This is the meaning of your life and work.

Recent events have reaffirmed what I have always said: it is much better at home. Those who refused to hear that clear message have lost hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in the West, in what looked like a safe haven for their assets.

I would like to once again say the following to our colleagues, those who are both in this audience and those who are not here: please, do not fall into the same trap again. Our country has huge potential, and there are more than enough tasks that need your contribution. Invest here, in the creation of new enterprises and jobs, in the development of the tourism infrastructure, support schools, universities, healthcare and the social sphere, culture and sport. I know that many of you are doing this. I know this, but I wanted to say it again.

This is how the Bakhrushin, Morozov, Shchukin, Ryabushinsky, Akchurin, Galeyev, Apanayev, Matsiyev, Mamontov, Tretyakov, Arsanov, Dadashev and Gadzhiyev families understood their noble mission. Many Russian, Tatar, Buryat, Chechen, Daghestani, Yakutian, Ossetian, Jewish, Armenian and other merchant and entrepreneurial families did not deprive their heirs of their due share, and at the same time they etched their names in the history of our country.

Incidentally, I would like to note once again that it remains to be seen what is more important for potential heirs: money and property or their forefathers’ good name and service to the country. The latter is something that cannot be squandered or, pardon my language, wasted on drink.

A good name is something that will always belong to your descendants, to future generations. It will always be part of their lives, going from one generation to another, helping them and making them stronger than the money or property they might inherit can make them.

Colleagues,

A responsible and well-balanced macroeconomic policy is the third guiding principle of our long-term development. In fact, this policy has largely enabled us to withstand the unprecedented pressure brought on by sanctions. Let me reiterate that this is an essential policy in the long term, not just for responding to the current challenges. We will not follow in the footsteps of our Western colleagues by replicating their bitter experience setting off an inflation spiral and disrupting their finances.

Our goal is to ensure robust economic growth for years to come, reducing the inflation burden on our people and businesses and achieving the mid- and long-term target inflation rate of four percent. Inflation was one of the first things I mentioned during my remarks, so let me tell you this: we remain committed to this target of a four-percent inflation rate.

I have already instructed the Government to draft proposals regarding the new budget guidelines. They must ensure that our budget policy is predictable and enables us to make the best use of the external economic conditions. Why do we need all this? To put economic growth on a more stable footing, while also delivering on our infrastructure and technological objectives, which provide a foundation for improving the wellbeing of our people.

True, some international reserve currencies have set themselves on a suicidal path lately, which is an obvious fact. In any case, they clearly have suicidal intentions. Of course, using them to ‘sterilise’ our money supply does not make any sense. Still, the principle of planning one’s spending based on how much you earn remains relevant. This is how it works, and we understand this.

Social justice is the fourth principle underpinning our development. There must be a powerful social dimension when it comes to promoting economic growth and business initiatives. This development model must reduce inequality instead of deepening it, unlike what is happening in other countries. To be honest, we have not been at the forefront when it comes to delivering on these objectives. We have yet to resolve many issues and problems in this regard.

Reducing poverty and inequality is all about creating demand for Russian-made products across the country, bridging the gap between regions in terms of their capabilities, and creating new jobs where they are needed the most. These are the core economic development drivers.

Let me emphasise that generating positive momentum in terms of household income growth and poverty reduction are the main performance indicators for government agencies and the state in general. We need to achieve tangible results in this sphere already this year, despite all the objective challenges we face. I have already assigned this task to the Government.

Again, we provide targeted support to the most vulnerable groups – pensioners, families with children, and people in difficult life situations.

Pensions are indexed annually at a rate higher than inflation. This year, they have been raised twice, including by another 10 percent on June 1.

The minimum wage was also increased by 10 percent at the same time, and so was the subsistence minimum – a reference figure used to calculate many social benefits and payments – accordingly, these benefits should also grow, increasing the incomes of about 15 million people.

In recent years, we have built a holistic system to support low-income families with children. Women are entitled to state support from the early stages of pregnancy and until the child reaches the age of 17.

People’s living standards and prosperity are the most important demographic factors; the current situation is quite challenging due to several negative demographic waves that have recently overlapped. In April, less than a hundred thousand children were born in Russia, almost 13 percent less than in April 2020.

I ask the Government to continue to keep the development of additional support measures for families with children under review. They must be far-reaching and commensurate with the magnitude of the extraordinary demographic challenge we are facing.

Russia’s future is ensured by families with two, three and more children. Therefore, we need to do more than provide direct financial support – we need to target and direct the healthcare system, education, and all areas that determine the quality of people’s lives towards the needs of families with children.

This problem is addressed, among other approaches, by the national social initiatives, which regional teams and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives are implementing together. This autumn, we will assess the results of their work, review and rank the Russian regions by quality of life in order to apply the best experiences and practices as widely as possible throughout the country.

Prioritising the development of infrastructure is the fifth principle underlying Russia’s economic policy.

We have scaled up direct budget spending on expanding transport corridors. An ambitious plan for building and repairing the federal and regional motorway core network will be launched next year. At least 85 percent of the roads are to be brought up to code within the next five years.

Infrastructure budget lending is a new tool that is being widely used. The loans are issued for 15 years at a 3 percent APR. As I mentioned before, they are much more popular than we originally thought. The regions have multiple well-thought-out and promising projects that should be launched at the earliest convenience. We will look into how we can use this support measure. We debated this issue last night. What I am saying is that it is a reliable tool.

Upgrading housing and utilities services is a separate matter with a backlog of issues. The industry is chronically underinvested to the tune of 4.5 trillion rubles. Over 40 percent of networks need to be replaced, which accounts for their low efficiency and big losses. About 3 percent of the networks become unusable every year, but no more than 2 percent get replaced, which makes the problem even worse every single year.

I propose consolidating resources and launching a comprehensive programme for upgrading housing and utilities, and synchronizing it with other infrastructure development and housing overhaul plans. The goal is to turn the situation around and to gradually reduce the number of dated networks, just like we are doing by relocating people from structurally unsafe buildings or fixing roads. We will discuss in detail housing and utilities and the construction complex with the governors at a State Council Presidium meeting next week.

On a separate note, I propose increasing resources to fund projects to create a comfortable urban environment in small towns and historical settlements. This programme is working well for us. I propose allocating another 10 billion rubles annually for these purposes in 2023–2024.

We will allocate additional funds for renovating urban areas in the Far Eastern Federal District. I want the Government to allocate dedicated funds to this end as part of the programmes for infrastructure budget lending and housing and utilities upgrading, as well as other development programmes.

Promoting comprehensive improvements and development for rural areas is a top priority for us. People who live there are feeding the country. We now see that they are also feeding a major part of the world, so they must live in comfort and dignity. In this connection, I am asking the Government to allocate additional funding for the corresponding programme. Export duties on agricultural produce can serve as a source of funding here. This is a permanent source of revenue. Of course, there can be fluctuations, but at least this ensures a constant flow of revenue.

On a separate note, I suggest that we expand the programmes for upgrading and modernising rural cultural centres, as well as regional theatres and museums by allocating six billion rubles for each of these projects in 2023 and 2024.

What I have just said about cultural institutions is something that people are really looking forward to, something they really care about. Let me give you a recent example: during the presentation of the Hero of Labour medals, one of the winners, Vladimir Mikhailov from Yakutia, asked me directly for help with building a cultural centre in his native village. This was during the part of the ceremony where we meet behind closed doors. We will definitely do this. The fact that people are raising this issue at all levels shows that they are really eager to see these projects implemented.

At this point, I would like to make a sidenote on a topic that is especially relevant now, since we are in early summer, when Russians usually take their summer vacations.

Every year, more and more tourists want to visit the most beautiful corners of our country: national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves. According to available estimates, this year this tourist flow is expected to exceed 12 million people. It is essential that all government bodies, businesses and tourists are well aware of what they can and cannot do in these territories, where they can build tourism infrastructure, and where such activity is strictly prohibited because it endangers unique and fragile ecosystems.

The draft law governing tourism in special protected territories and regulating this activity in a civilised manner is already in the State Duma.

In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we must figure out in advance all the relevant estimates and ensure that the decisions are well-balanced. We need to be serious about this.

I would like to place special emphasis on the need to preserve Lake Baikal. In particular, there is a comprehensive development project for the city of Baikalsk, which must become a model of sustainable, eco-sensitive municipal governance.

This is not just about getting rid of the accumulated negative environmental impacts from the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, but about setting a higher standard of living for the city and transforming it into a signature destination for environmental tourism in Russia. We need to rely on the most cutting-edge technologies and clean energy when carrying out this project.

Overall, we will be developing clean technology to achieve the goals we set in the environmental modernisation of production facilities, and to reduce hazardous emissions, especially in large industrial centres. We will also continue working on closed-loop economy projects, green projects and climate preservation. I spoke about these issues in detail at this forum last year.

Consequently, the sixth cross-cutting development principle that consolidates our work is, in my opinion, achieving genuine technological sovereignty, creating an integral system of economic development that does not depend on foreign institutions when it comes to critically important components. We need to develop all areas of life on a qualitatively new technological level without being simply users of other countries’ solutions. We must have technological keys to developing next-generation goods and services.

In the past years, we have focused a lot of attention on import substitution, succeeding in a range of industries, including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, defence production and several others.

But I should stress that there is a lot of discussion in our society about import substitution. And it is not a cure-all nor a comprehensive solution. If we only imitate others when trying to replace foreign goods with copies, even if very high-quality ones, we may end up constantly playing catch-up while we should be one step ahead and create our own competitive technologies, goods and services that can become new global standards.

If you remember, Sergei Korolyov did not just copy or locally upgrade captured rocket technology. He focused on the future and proposed a unique plan to develop the R-7 rocket. He paved the path to space for humankind and in fact set a standard for the entire world, for decades ahead.

Proactively – this is how founders of many Soviet research programmes worked at the time. And today, building on that groundwork, our designers continue to make progress and show their worth. It is thanks to them that Russia has supersonic weapons that do not exist in any other country. Rosatom remains the leader in nuclear technology, developing our fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers. Many Russian AI and Big Data solutions are the best in the world.

To reiterate, technological development is a cross-cutting area that will define the current decade and the entire 21st century. We will review in depth our approaches to building a groundbreaking technology-based economy – a techno economy – at the upcoming Strategic Development Council meeting. There is so much we can discuss. Most importantly, many managerial decisions must be made in the sphere of engineering education and transferring research to the real economy, and the provision of financial resources for fast-growing high-tech companies. We will also discuss the development of cross-cutting technologies and progress of digital transformation projects in individual industries.

To be clear, of course it is impossible to make every product out there, and there is no need for that. However, we need to possess critical technologies in order to be able to move swiftly should we need to start our own production of any product. This is what we did when we quickly started making coronavirus vaccines, and most recently launched the production of many other products and services.

For example, after dishonest KamAZ partners left the Russian market, their place was taken by domestic companies, which are supplying parts for traditional models and even advanced mainline, transport and heavy-duty vehicles.

The Mir card payment system has successfully replaced Visa and MasterCard on the domestic market. It is expanding its geography and gradually gaining international recognition.

The St Petersburg Tractor Plant is another case in point. Its former foreign partner stopped selling engines and providing warranty maintenance. Engine builders from Yaroslavl and Tutayev came to the rescue and started supplying their engines. As a result, the output of agricultural equipment at the St Petersburg Tractor Plant hit a record high in March-April. It did not decrease, but hit an all-time high.

I am sure there will be more positive practices and success stories.

To reiterate, Russia possesses the professional, scientific and technological potential to develop products that enjoy high demand, including household appliances and construction equipment, as well as industrial and service equipment.

Today’s task is to scale up the capacities and promptly get the necessary lines up and running. One of the key issues is comfortable work conditions for the businesses as well as the availability of prepared production sites.

I ask the Government to submit key parameters of the new operating guidelines for industrial clusters by the autumn. What is critical here?

First – financing. The projects launched in these clusters must have a long-term credit resource for up to ten years at an annual interest rate below seven percent in rubles. We have discussed all these issues with our economic agencies as well. Everyone agreed, so we will proceed.

Second – taxation. The clusters must have a low level of relatively permanent taxes including insurance contributions.

Third – supporting production at the early, kick-off stage, forming a package of orders including subsidising the purchases of ready products by such enterprises. This is not an easy issue but I think subsidies may be required. They are needed to ensure the market. We just have to work it out.

Fourth – simplified administration including minimal or no inspections as well as convenient customs monitoring that is not burdensome.

Fifth, and probably the most important – we need to set up mechanisms of guaranteed long-term demand for the new innovative products that are about to enter the market. I remind the Government that such preferential terms and respective industrial clusters must be launched as early as January 1, 2023.

On a related note, I want to say that both new and already operating points of industrial growth must attract small businesses and engage them in their orbit. It is crucial for entrepreneurs, for small entities to see the horizon and grasp their prospects.

Therefore, I ask the Government together with the SME Corporation [Federal Corporation for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises] and our biggest companies to launch an instrument for long-term contracts between companies with state participation and SMEs. This will ensure demand for the products of such enterprises for years ahead whereas suppliers can confidently undertake commitments to launch a new manufacturing facility or expand an existing one to meet that order.

Let me add that we have substantially shortened the timeframe for building industrial sites and eliminated all the unnecessary burdensome procedures. Still, there is much more we can do here. We have things to work on, and places to go from here. For example, building an industrial facility from the ground up takes anywhere from eighteen months to three years, while the persistently high interest rates make it harder to buy suitable land plots.

Given this, I suggest launching industrial mortgages as a new tool for empowering Russian businesses to quickly start making all the products we need. What I mean are preferential long-term loans at a five-percent interest rate. Companies planning to buy new manufacturing space will be entitled to these loans. I am asking the Government to work out all the details with the Russian banking sector so that the industrial mortgage programme becomes fully operational soon.

Friends,

Changes in the global economy, finances and international relations are unfolding at an ever-growing pace and scale. There is an increasingly pronounced trend in favour of a multipolar growth model in lieu of globalisation. Of course, building and shaping a new world order is no easy task. We will have to confront many challenges, risks, and factors that we can hardly predict or anticipate today.

Still, it is obvious that it is up to the strong sovereign states, those that do not follow a trajectory imposed by others, to set the rules governing the new world order. Only powerful and sovereign states can have their say in this emerging world order. Otherwise, they are doomed to become or remain colonies devoid of any rights.

We need to move forward and change in keeping with the times, while demonstrating our national will and resolve. Russia enters this nascent era as a powerful sovereign nation. We will definitely use the new immense opportunities that are opening up for us in this day and age in order to become even stronger.

Thank you for your attention.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you, Mr President.

I would very much like to say that after such exhaustive remarks and such an exhaustive analysis, we have nothing left to talk about, because you have answered all the questions. Still, some questions remain, and we will certainly ask them.

And now I would like to ask President Tokayev to come over here and share with us his perspective on the processes taking place in his country, in our country, and in relations between our countries and in the world.

Thank you.

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: President Putin,

forum participants,

I congratulate everyone on a significant event – the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum. I thank President Putin for the invitation and for the warm and cordial welcome in the cultural capital of Russia.

Over the past quarter of a century, the St Petersburg Forum has deservedly gained respect as a prestigious expert platform and occupies a worthy place among other world discussion platforms.

Today, we are meeting in rather extraordinary circumstances – I am referring to the elevated political and economic turbulence. The global upheavals caused by the pandemic and the rising geopolitical tensions have led to a new reality. Globalisation has given way to an era of regionalisation, with all its inherent advantages and disadvantages. Be that as it may, the process of reformatting traditional economic models and trade routes is accelerating.

The world is changing rapidly – unfortunately, in most cases it is not for the better. Inflation in many countries is breaking ten-year records, global economic growth is slowing down, and competition for investment and resources is intensifying.

There are constraining factors for economic growth such as climate change, growing migration flows, and faster technological change. We certainly pay attention to these processes.

Speaking about the new reality, it is important to bear in mind the rapidly changing structure of the international order – even the seemingly stable East-West, North-South vectors of interaction are shifting. It is important for the countries in our region not only to find the right answers to all these challenges, but also to try to make the most of them. Therefore, we have to consistently reach our full potential for cooperation within the Eurasian Economic Union. The project to link Eurasian integration with China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is relevant here.

As you know, Kazakhstan is now implementing large-scale political and economic reforms. Their goal is to reset public administration and build a fair, new Kazakhstan. We are working to ensure that there is a correlation between economic growth and rising living standards for our people. We want to achieve sustainable development of trade and economic ties, open new production lines, support the growth of human capital, and make investments.

As part of our large-scale effort to modernise the country, we are drafting new rules of the game in the economy without glaring monopolies and rampant corruption. Our priority is to support businesses and improve the business climate with a view to providing the utmost protection for the rights of investors, and promoting stability and predictability. We will continue meeting all of our commitments to our traditional partners. Kazakhstan will continue building an inclusive, fair society without social inequality.

I believe that to ensure sustainable development of all countries of the region, it is necessary to determine new horizons of cooperation and create new growth points in our economies. Along with this, we must always remember the very important task of ensuring international and regional security.

In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the following points.

The first task, as I have already mentioned, is to strengthen the capacity of the Eurasian Economic Union. This task remains relevant for us. The aggregate size of the economies of its members exceeds $2 trillion. This is an enormous market with free movement of goods, capital, services and workforce. At any rate, this is what it should be.

Despite the pandemic and geopolitical upheavals, cooperation in the EAEU continues to grow stronger. Last year, its trade reached a record $73 billion, which is a third higher than last year.

Russia has been and remains Kazakhstan’s key economic partner in the EAEU. Last year, our trade went up by almost a third to exceed $24 billion. These are record figures for us. The dynamics remains positive this year as well. Our trade increased by over 12 percent in the first quarter of 2022.

I believe that, considering the new reality, it would be appropriate and useful to develop an innovative trade strategy within the Eurasian Economic Union. Instead of imposing counter-sanctions, which, frankly, are unlikely to be productive, a more proactive and flexible trade policy should be pursued covering the Asian and the Middle Eastern markets. Kazakhstan could be instrumental in its role of a buffer market.

Overall, the ultimate success of Eurasian integration largely, if not massively, depends on our effective common trade strategy. Kazakhstan and Russia can break new ground in industrial cooperation.

We have a special plan, a programme for industrial cooperation in the new circumstances. Investors from Russia will be provided with industrial sites complete with infrastructure, and a favourable investment climate will be created for them. As a matter of fact, this is already being done.

The full unlocking of our countries’ agricultural potential is particularly important in these circumstances. According to the FAO [the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations], Russia and Kazakhstan are global leaders in terms of available agricultural land. This fact is of particular importance in light of declining global food security. According to the UN, the number of malnourished people will go from 270 million to 323 million this year.

Providing people with high-quality and safe food remains a priority and a factor in maintaining internal stability.

To create a reliable food system, it is important to implement innovative solutions and advanced technologies, as well as to cut food losses.

Approaches to ensuring food security should be developed at the national level and within regional associations, including the EAEU with account taken of the interests of all state participants. Achieving declared goals in this extremely important area is unlikely without coordinated work.

In other words, fighting skyrocketing inflation and food shortages is our common challenge, which will remain a priority in the foreseeable future, because it directly concerns the well-being of our people. Our countries’ potential makes it possible to consistently and fully supply our markets with the necessary foods, as the President of Russia convincingly demonstrated today.

Secondly, I believe that it is essential that we continue expanding trade and economic cooperation with third countries. Kazakhstan is proactively involved in integration processes, and has always stood for mutually beneficial cooperation with other international organisations.

As far as I know, there has been much interest on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia’s initiative to build a Greater Eurasian Partnership. This concept consists of offering regional organisations a platform for creating a common space of equal cooperation. It is for this reason that Kazakhstan continues to have a positive outlook on the effort to build the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

This year, Kazakhstan chairs the Commonwealth of Independent States. Over the years, this structure has built up a positive track record despite all the geopolitical challenges, which proves that multilateral dialogue tools are effective.

I believe that the CIS is perfectly suited for serving as a foundation for this megaproject. I am referring to Greater Eurasia, or the Greater Eurasian Partnership. It can encompass the SCO, ASEAN, and the Eurasian Economic Union as its integral elements.

Over the next decade, China, India, as well as countries in the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, which have traditionally been friendly to us, can become major investors in the economies of our region.

China has already emerged as Kazakhstan’s main economic and foreign trade partner. This country invested in our economy more than $22 billion over the past 15 years. For this reason, strengthening our multilateral cooperation with China is a very important goal for our country.

Of course, the economy matters today just as much as political considerations. I believe that we have to promote business-to-business ties and build new transport and logistics corridors. Today, we treat these matters as our top priorities when meeting with people from Russia and other interested nations.

There is a lot of potential for combining our efforts to develop a pool of breakthrough innovation and technology projects, as well as uninterrupted transportation and logistics chains. At the end of the day, this will create new economic growth opportunities for our countries.

Thirdly, Kazakhstan maintains its unwavering commitment to international efforts to combat climate change. We will be consistent in our efforts to promote green investment and carry out corresponding projects. Environmental problems are global in nature, affecting almost all countries without exception, including Kazakhstan.

Last year, our farmers had serious problems due to a draught that was triggered by low rainfall and low water level in rivers. The cross-border Ural River is in critical condition. We call it Zhayyq on our territory.

I believe we should tackle such problems together when faced with such long-term challenges to the sustainable development of our states. I think we should give serious thought to the prospects of introducing the principles of closed-loop or circular economy. We are working to reduce the GDP’s energy-output ratio, expand the renewable energy sector and reduce transit losses in this area.

The similarity of our economies, industrial infrastructure ties between our two countries and geography as such are prompting us to pool efforts in this strategically important area as well. I hope that together we will manage to draft effective approaches and specific measures for tangible progress in this field.

Fourthly. High quality human resources and constructive inter-cultural dialogue are a reliable source of economic growth. As part of the UN-proclaimed International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, we will continue our policy of preserving the cultural diversity of our country and promoting international dialogue between civilisations.

In September our capital will host yet another congress of world and traditional religions. We welcome the participation of religious figures from Russia in this forum. Practically all of them confirmed their participation.

Kazakhstan is actively reformatting the system of its higher education with the participation of leading foreign universities, including Russian ones. The deepening of international academic ties has special significance for promoting the traditions of bilateral cooperation.

I am convinced that the successful implementation of a number of joint educational and cultural initiatives will allow us to make a tangible contribution to the steady economic advance of our country.

Participants of the forum,

Kazakhstan proceeds from its firm conviction that Eurasia is our common home and that all countries on our continent should closely cooperate in the community. We are confident that the building of a peaceful, stable and economically strong Eurasia will become a major factor of sustainable development and inclusive growth on a global scale.

I am convinced that this prestigious discussion venue that unites top class experts has great potential in searching for constructive ideas aimed at normalising the international situation and recovering the positive dynamics of the world economy.

Thank you for your attention.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you very much, President Tokayev.

Eurasia is indeed our common home. We all want this home to be safe and prosperous through God’s help and our mutual efforts.

And now we will turn to Africa. We have a video address from President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Can we have it on the screens, please? Thank you.

President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful,

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin,

Ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset, allow me to extend to His Excellency, President Vladimir Putin, my sincere congratulations on the silver jubilee of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. Since 1997, when it has been held for the first time, the forum has become a leading platform for the business community and a remarkable economic event that seeks to discuss the key economic issues facing emerging markets and the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Arab Republic of Egypt, as a guest country, will be part of this year’s session of the forum, which marks the 25th anniversary of its launch, thus confirming the distinguished level that Egyptian-Russian economic relations have reached over the recent years.

This year’s forum is being held amid unprecedented political and economic challenges of a strategic nature. We hope that the outcomes of the forum will contribute to finding effective solutions to these challenges in a way that mitigates the impact of the global economic crisis and its negative repercussions on many countries in the world, especially the economies of emerging countries, takes the concerns and interests of all parties into account, and achieves the security and tranquility of peoples.

This would be achieved through long-term political understandings that open the way for the growth of the global economy, especially in the wake of the severe coronavirus pandemic, which has cost our societies many victims and considerable money and resources, thus making us keen to avoid any slowdown in the global economy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me use this opportunity to reiterate that the Arab Republic of Egypt values its firm, historic friendship relations with the Russian Federation, and values the tangible progress the two countries’ relations have been witnessing over the past years in a multitude of vital sectors, for the two countries’ economies and the prosperity of the two peoples.

The Arab Republic of Egypt and the Russian Federation have been engaged over the past years in the implementation of mega and ambitious projects that serve our countries and respond to the aspirations of our peoples to realise more economic progress.

The most prominent of these are: the project for the establishment of the Dabaa nuclear power plant, which comes within the context of the Egyptian State’s strategy to expand national projects for the use of new and renewable sources of energy.

Another project is the establishment of the Russian Industrial Zone in the Economic Zone of the Suez Canal, which is meant to become an important platform for industry in Africa.

This is in addition to cooperation between the two countries to upgrade the Egyptian railway network and other joint ventures that realise the benefit of the two peoples.

Ladies and gentlemen,

You must be aware that the exceptional events that have been taking place in the Arab Republic of Egypt over the past decade had their immense impact on the overall economic situation in the country. The Egyptian people stood up to surmount this crisis by supporting a clear vision, based on investing in the Egyptian citizen and developing his capabilities.

Therefore, Egypt Vision 2030 was launched to reflect the state’s long-term strategic plan to achieve the principles and goals of sustainable development, with its economic, social and environmental dimensions.

Based on this vision, the Government of Egypt has modernised its legislative structure to enable Egypt to attract more foreign investment. This qualified Egypt to become the top destination for attracting foreign investments in Africa and one of the few countries in the world capable of achieving a growth rate of up to 3.3 percent in 2021, despite the negative challenges posed by the spread of COVID-19 and their impact on the global economy. We expect the Egyptian economy to grow by 5.5% during the current fiscal year. The country’s non-petroleum exports also increased during 2021 to reach $32 billion.

Egypt has also succeeded, within the framework of its strategy to increase its capabilities, to implement mega agricultural projects that are aimed at increasing agricultural land by almost 2 million feddans.

This is in addition to the mega projects Egypt is implementing in the fields of transport, by expanding thousands of kilometers of roads and upgrading Egypt’s transport system by introducing new projects. Those include the high-speed rail that will constitute a means to link the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, thus boosting and facilitating international trade.

Adding to this are the mega industrial projects and the numerous projects in the field of clean energy production, which have been established in Egypt at a rapid pace over the past period.

Despite the previously-mentioned national efforts, Egypt’s actions and efforts to achieve progress were hit recently by economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The world was partially recovering from its effects and repercussions, when it was hit again by a great economic crisis that cast a shadow over growth rates and negatively affected states’ budgets, reflecting on the rise of fuel prices and the decline in the value of the national currencies in the face of hard currencies. This is in addition to the disruption in supply chains, the emergence of the food crisis, as well as the irregular movement of civil aviation. This sector is connected with vital fields of the Egyptian economy, primarily tourism and insurance.

Addressing this crisis, which has an international character, requires international efforts and collaboration among all parties in order to get matters back to their normal state, particularly the movement of maritime traffic and the regularity of supply chains, particularly foodstuff, such as grain and vegetable oil.

This also requires working toward restoring calm and stability at the international level, in order to mitigate the impact of this economic crisis on the peoples, who seek peace and development.

I also call on all companies participating in this forum and others to take advantage of this huge opportunity that is provided by investing in Egypt in all fields.

I would not miss, before concluding my speech, thanking the people of Saint Petersburg, this brave city throughout history, which at the same time represents an icon for culture and openness on the outside world.

Finally, I would like, once again, to thank His Excellency, President Vladimir Putin, for his kind invitation for Egypt to participate in this forum as a guest of this round, wishing the forum and the participants all success and blessings and wishing our friendly countries more constructive cooperation, prosperity and progress. We pray God Almighty to spread peace and stability across the world and to spare our peoples the scourge of war and its economic and social impact by giving priority to the language of dialogue, understanding and co-existence.

Thank you.

Margarita Simonyan: We are grateful to the President of Egypt. I think that the people of the host city should be especially pleased to hear his warm words about St Petersburg.

We have just a little time left before the discussion begins. They say anticipation increases desire.

We will now listen to an address by President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping (retranslated): President Putin, ladies and gentlemen, friends,

I am delighted to have this opportunity to address the plenary session of the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum, which I attended in person three years ago.

In February this year, President Putin visited China and attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. We had a detailed exchange of views, following which we reached a vital agreement on expanding our comprehensive practical cooperation and implementing the concept of global governance based on joint consultations, joint participation and joint use.

Cooperation between China and Russia is currently ascending in all spheres. Our bilateral trade reached $65.8 billion over the first five months of this year. We can expect to attain new records by year-end. This is evidence of the high resilience and ingenious potential of Chinese-Russian cooperation.

The world is entering a new period of turbulence and transformation amid the ongoing radical changes and the coronavirus pandemic. There is an obvious trend of anti-globalism, a growing divide between the South and the North, and a weakening of cooperation drivers in the area of development, which could plunge the erratically reviving global economy into a deep recession and create unprecedented challenges to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

According to ancient Chinese words of wisdom, a clever man sees a seed of crisis in every opportunity and an opportunity in every crisis. Danger and opportunity always go together. By overcoming danger, you get opportunity. Strength lies in confidence. The more there are difficulties, the more important it is to remain confident.

During last year’s session of the UN General Assembly, I proposed a Global Development Initiative, which was positively received and supported by a number of international organisations, including the UN, and about a hundred countries.

Today, at a time when the international community is ever more interested in achieving more equitable, sustainable and secure development, we should seize opportunities, meet challenges head-on, and work on the implementation of the Global Development Initiative to build a shared future of peace and prosperity.

First, we need to create conditions for development. It is important that we follow true multilateralism, respect and support all countries’ pursuit of development paths suited to their national conditions, build an open world economy, and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries in global economic governance with a view to making global development more balanced, coordinated and inclusive.

Second, we need to strengthen development partnerships. It is important that we enhance North-South and South-South cooperation, pool cooperation resources, platforms and networks of development partnerships, and scale up development assistance in order to forge greater synergy for development and close the development gap.

Third, we need to advance economic globalization. It is important that we enhance the coordination of development policies and international rules and standards, reject attempts at separation, supply disruption, unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure, remove trade barriers, keep global industrial and supply chains stable, tackle the worsening food and energy crises, and revive the world economy.

Fourth, we need to pursue innovation-driven development. It is important that we unlock the potential of innovation-driven growth, improve the rules and institutional environment for innovation, break down barriers to the flow of innovation factors, deepen exchanges and cooperation on innovation, facilitate deeper integration of science and technology into the economy, and make sure the fruits of innovation are shared by all.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends,

The fundamentals of the Chinese economy are its strong resilience, enormous potential and long-term sustainability, which remain unchanged. We have full confidence in China’s economic development. China will continue to promote high-quality development, promote openness with firm resolve, and pursue high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

China stands ready to work with Russia and all other countries to explore development prospects, share growth opportunities, and make new contributions to deepening global development cooperation and building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Thank you.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you, Mr President.

Coming to learn Chinese wisdom and some of Chinese sagacity is always a good thing, especially now that Chinese wisdom might come in useful for the entire world.

Mr President, I would like to show you something that I have brought with me especially. It is juice, and it used to be so nicely coloured. It does not matter what sort of juice it is; you cannot even see the brand here, although it is a popular one. And now – do you see? A small picture and the rest is white. Why is that? And this is happening on a massive scale.

Because we ran out of paint. The producer of paint for such packaging has left Russia, and the producer of the packaging also announced that they are leaving. I bought this two weeks ago, and soon this will disappear. As a result, we will have to pour it into bottles or three-litre glass jars, like it was in my childhood, unless we discover that we do not produce bottles either.

There are conflicting opinions on this. You have touched upon this issue today. Some of the participants – a considerable part, maybe even the majority – came here by Sapsan trains. Some say “We will swap Sapsans for Chinese trains, they are even better,” since Siemens has gone. Others say “We will learn to make them ourselves.” Let me remind you that we launched our own high-speed trains in 1984, I think they were called ER200. I was four years old, did not go to school yet, but we already had high-speed trains – but we do not have them any longer. It is sad, isn’t it?

And there are also people who say that no, we cannot replace all that, we can use Sapsan trains for another couple of years and then we will just give up high-speed railways, which means we will step back from what we got used to. And it is like this with everything: telephones, computers, everything we got used to. This is a very sad, I would even say heartbreaking plan.

Maybe there is a different plan?

Vladimir Putin: Whenever any decisions are taken, the key issues must be to singled out. What is key for us? Being independent, sovereign and ensuring future-oriented development both now and for the future generations? Or having packaging today?

Unless we have sovereignty, we will soon have to buy everything and will only produce oil, gas, hemp fibre, saddles and sell rough logs abroad.

It is inevitable. I have already said so in my speech: only sovereign countries can expect to have a sovereign future. That does not mean, however, that we need to plunge back into a situation of 30, 40 or 50 years ago.

Regarding packaging. I do not think it is such a complicated thing that either our partners from other countries can replace, who will be pleased to occupy this market sooner or later, or we will be able to make ourselves.

Margarita Simonyan: You do not see it, but President Tokayev is nodding his head: they will probably be able to replace it.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Absolutely, this is not a problem.

Vladimir Putin: Of course, we will able to replace it.

The question is about a totally different matter. We keep talking about import substitution. In my speech here I also said – and I will just add a couple of words so as not to take too much time while answering only one question.

The issue is not about import substitution, the issue is to establish our own capabilities based on progress in education, science and new promising schools of engineering. We will always be given packaging materials and other simple things, event telephones and smartphones. What we have never been given and never will be is critically important technologies. We have never been given them before even though we had problem-free relations with our Western partners in the previous decades. This is the problem.

And when we begin to stand up for our rights, we are immediately slapped with some sanctions and restrictions; this is what the problem is all about. Therefore, we must commit ourselves to that and have the capacity to reproduce critically important technologies on the basis of what I mentioned. And with that base we will always be able to manufacture the goods you mentioned: packaging materials, telephones and smartphones. If we realise that and keep focusing on solving fundamental issues, we will resolve everything else without a problem.

Let me reiterate: others are already coming to that place – those who produce the packaging materials, those who produce the paints. We are also starting to produce paints and other consumer goods as well as goods employed in industry in a broader sense. We can make anything – I have absolutely no doubt about that.

Obviously, some things will be lost, other things will be made on a new basis, much more advanced – the way it happened earlier. Therefore, when we talk about import substitution, we will substitute something while other things will have to be done on a totally new promising basis of our own making.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you. President Tokayev, would you like to add anything?

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: I think everything is clear here, and judging by President Putin’s extremely interesting speech, we can understand that he is thinking in the categories of historical perspective, so to say.

Margarita Simonyan: As always.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: And juice packaging has no place here.

Indeed, it is a small problem, nature abhors a vacuum: others will come who will be producing juice packaging that is just as good, and local producers will appear.

The issue is about something else. In particular, I said in my speech about the importance of Eurasian cooperation, about the importance of uniting efforts to resolve unexpected problems. I think we will arrive at the result we are seeking on this road.

To be continued.

Notes From Spief: St Petersburg International Economic Forum

June 16, 2022

Pepe Escobar is following various discussions at Spief:  https://twitter.com/spief?lang=en and here are some of his updates from his telegram channel:

THE ST. PETERSBURG FORUM IS ON A ROLL

I spent the morning back and forth following some fab discussions at the forum – especially on Russia-China, SCO business, BRICS, the Russian financial sector, the Northern Sea Route and this one linked below, with Glazyev, on the Eurasia Economic Union and ASEAN.

This afternoon there are some extra killers, including a Triple Treat EAEU-SCO-ASEAN.

I’ll have a detailed column out – ideally to be published for the weekend. Putin’s address is tomorrow, and should be a howler.

https://forumspb.com/en/programme/business-programme/..

The contrast with The Three Stooges in their train to nowhere – country 404 – could not be more graphic.

ST. PETERSBURG UPDATE

Key facts rollin’ out of the forum – officially and after discussions:

– Dollars and euros will continue to circulate in Russia.

– There will be NO return to a Soviet economy.

– Import substitution will be only partial.

– The ruble under 60 per dollar is not a good thing for the Russian economy. The government will intervene.

– Changes on the global economy are irreversible. There’s no going back.

– A significant part of the Russian economy will be reoriented to the internal market.

– Because NATOstan will continue to weaponize Kiev, the Donetsk People’s Republic’s troops will NOT stop at the border.

It came out last night, before the St. Petersburg forum: it’s all interconnected.

Here you will see how…

the new G8…

interconnects with China’s Three Rings…

and with BRICS +…

and all that interconnects with what they are discussing in St. Petersburg: EAEU, SCO, ASEAN.

The ‘New G8’ Meets China’s ‘Three Rings’

June 15, 2022

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China.

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

The speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, may have created the defining acronym for the emerging multipolar world: “the new G8”.

As Volodin noted, “the United States has created conditions with its own hands so that countries wishing to build an equal dialogue and mutually beneficial relations will actually form a ‘new G8’ together with Russia.”

This non Russia-sanctioning G8, he added, is 24.4% ahead of the old one, which is in fact the G7, in terms of GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP), as G7 economies are on the verge of collapsing and the U.S. registers record inflation.

The power of the acronym was confirmed by one of the researchers on Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sergei Fedorov: three BRICS members (Brazil, China and India) alongside Russia, plus Indonesia, Iran, Turkey and Mexico, all non adherents to the all-out Western economic war against Russia, will soon dominate global markets.

Fedorov stressed the power of the new G8 in population as well as economically: “If the West, which restricted all international organizations, follows its own policies, and pressures everyone, then why are these organizations necessary? Russia does not follow these rules.”

The new G8, instead, “does not impose anything on anyone, but tries to find common solutions.”

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China. Argentina is very much interested in becoming part of the extended BRICS and those (informal) members of the new G8 – Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Mexico – are all likely candidates.

The intersection of the new G8 and BRICS + will lead Beijing to turbo-charge what has already been conceptualized as the Three Rings strategy by Cheng Yawen, from the Institute of International Relations and Public Affairs at the Shanghai International Studies University.

Cheng argues that since the beginning of the 2018 U.S.-China trade war the Empire of Lies and its vassals have aimed to “decouple”; thus the Middle Kingdom should strategically downgrade its relations with the West and promote a new international system based on South-South cooperation.

Looks like if it walks and talks like the new G8, that’s because it’s the real deal.

The revolution reaches the “global countryside”

Cheng stresses how “the center-periphery hierarchy of the West has been perpetuated as an implicit rule” in international relations; and how China and Russia, “because of their strict capital controls, are the last two obstacles to further U.S. control of the global periphery”.

So how would the Three Rings – in fact a new global system – be deployed?

The first ring “is China’s neighboring countries in East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East; the second ring is the vast number of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and the third ring extends to the traditional industrialized countries, mainly Europe and the United States.”

The basis for building the Three Rings is deeper Global South integration. Cheng notes how “between 1980-2021, the economic volume of developing countries rose from 21 to 42.2 percent of the world’s total output.”

And yet “current trade flows and mutual investments of developing countries are still heavily dependent on the financial and monetary institutions/networks controlled by the West. In order to break their dependence on the West and further enhance economic and political autonomy, a broader financial and monetary cooperation, and new sets of instruments among developing countries should be constructed”.

This is a veiled reference to the current discussions inside the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), with Chinese participation, designing an alternative financial-monetary system not only for Eurasia but for the Global South – bypassing possible American attempts to enforce a sort of Bretton Woods 3.0.

Cheng uses a Maoist metaphor to illustrate his point – referring to ‘the revolutionary path of ‘encircling the cities from the countryside’”. What is needed now, he argues, is for China and the Global South to “overcome the West’s preventive measures and cooperate with the ‘global countryside’ – the peripheral countries – in the same way.”

So what seems to be in the horizon, as conceptualized by Chinese academia, is a “new G8/BRICS+” interaction as the revolutionary vanguard of the emerging multipolar world, designed to expand to the whole Global South.

That of course will mean a deepened internationalization of Chinese geopolitical and geoeconomic power, including its currency. Cheng qualifies the creation of a “three ring “ international system as essential to “break through the [American] siege”.

It’s more than evident that the Empire won’t take that lying down.

The siege will continue. Enter the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), spun as yet another proverbial “effort” to – what else – contain China, but this time all the way from Northeast Asia to Southeast Asia, with Oceania thrown in as a bonus.

The American spin on IPEF is heavy on “economic engagement”: fog of (hybrid) war disguising the real intent to divert as much trade as possible from China – which produces virtually everything – to the U.S. – which produces very little.

The Americans give away the game by heavily focusing their strategy on 7 of the 10 ASEAN nations – as part of yet another desperate dash to control the American-denominated “Indo-Pacific”. Their logic: ASEAN after all needs a “stable partner”; the American economy is “comparatively stable”; thus ASEAN must subject itself to American geopolitical aims.

IPEF, under the cover of trade and economics, plays the same old tune, with the U.S. going after China from three different angles.

– The South China Sea, instrumentalizing ASEAN.

– The Yellow and East China Seas, instrumentalizing Japan and South Korea to prevent direct Chinese access to the Pacific.

– The larger “Indo-Pacific” (that’s were India as a member of the Quad comes in).

It’s all labeled as a sweet apple pie of “stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific with diversified trade.”

BRI corridors are back

Beijing is hardly losing any sleep thinking about IPEF: after all most of its multiple trade connections across ASEAN are rock solid. Taiwan though is a completely different story.

At the annual Shangri-La dialogue this past weekend in Singapore, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe went straight to the point, actually defining Beijing’s vision for an East Asia order (not “rules-based”, of course).

Taiwan independence is a “dead end”, said General Wei, as he asserted Beijing’s peaceful aims while vigorously slamming assorted U.S. “threats against China”. At any attempt at interference, “we will fight at all costs, and we will fight to the very end”. Wei also handily dismissed the U.S. drive to “hijack” Indo-Pacific nations, without even mentioning IPEF.

China at it stands is firmly concentrated on stabilizing its western borders – which will allow it to devote more time to the South China Sea and the “Indo-Pacific” further on down the road.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi went on a crucial trip to Kazakhstan – a full member of both BRI and the EAEU – where he met President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and all his counterparts from the Central Asian “stans” in a summit in Nur-Sultan. The group – billed as C+C5 – discussed everything from security, energy and transportation to Afghanistan and vaccines.

In sum, this was all about developing much-needed corridors of BRI/ New Silk Roads – in sharp contrast to the proverbial Western lamentations about BRI reaching a dead end.

Two BRI-to-the-bone projects will go on overdrive: the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D, and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway. Both have been years in the making, but now have become absolutely essential, and will be the flagship BRI projects in the Central Asian corridor.

The China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D will link Turkmenistan’s gas fields to Xinjiang via Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. That was the main theme of the discussions when Turkmen President Berdimuhamedow visited Beijing for the Winter Olympics.

The 523 km China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway for its part will crucially link the two Central Asian “stans” to the China-Europe freight rail network, via the existing rail networks in Turkmenistan.

Considering the current incandescent geopolitical scenario in Ukraine, this is a bombshell in itself, because it will enable freight from China to travel via Iran or via Caspian ports, bypassing sanctioned Russia. No hard feelings, in terms of the Russia-China strategic partnership: just business.

The Kyrgyz, predictably, were ecstatic. Construction begins next year. According to Kyrgyz President Zhaparov, “there will be jobs. Our economy will boom.”

Talk about China acting decisively in its “first ring”, in Central Asia. Don’t expect anything of such geoeconomic breadth and scope being “offered” by IPEF anywhere in ASEAN.

The Eurasian Economic Union Steps Up

May 28, 2022

The Eurasian Economic Forum has shown once again that this high-speed – economic integration – train has already left the station.

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted. 

The first Eurasian Economic Forum, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, took place this week at a very sensitive geopolitical juncture, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov keeps stressing that, “the West has declared total war against us, against the entire Russian world. Nobody even hides this now.”

It’s always important to remember that before Maidan in 2014, Ukraine had the option to become a full member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and even balance it with a loose association with the EU.

The EAEU comprises five full members – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia – yet 14 nations sent delegations to the forum, including China, Vietnam and Latin American nations.

There was much rumbling that the proceedings would be jeopardized by the serial sanctions packages imposed on Russia by the collective West. There’s no question that some EAEU members – such as Kazakhstan – seem to be more worried about the effects of the sanctions than about fine-tuning business with Russia. Yet that’s not the point.

The crucial point is that by 2025 they have to harmonize their legislation concerning financial markets. And that’s directly connected to what the executive body of the EAEU, led by Sergey Glazyev, is working on, extensively: designing the lineaments of an alternative financial/economic system  to what the West would rather coin as Bretton Woods 3.

The Eurasian Economic Forum was established by the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council explicitly to further deepen economic cooperation between EAEU members. No wonder the official theme of the forum was Eurasian Economic Integration in the Era of Global Shifts: New Investment Opportunities, focusing on strategic development in the industrial, energy, transport, financial, and digital areas.

So Many Converging Strategies

President Putin’s speech to the plenary session was quite revealing. To really appreciate the scope of what’s implied, it’s important to remember that the Greater Eurasian Partnership concept was presented by Putin in 2016 at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, focused on a “more extensive Eurasian partnership involving the Eurasian Economic Union” and including China, Pakistan, Iran and India.

Putin stressed how the drive for developing ties “within the framework of the Greater Eurasian Partnership” (…) “was not the political situation but global economic trends, because the centre of economic development is gradually – we are aware of this, and our businesspeople are aware of this – is gradually moving, continues to move into the Asia-Pacific Region.”

He added, “in the current international conditions when, unfortunately, traditional trade and economic links and supply chains are being disrupted”, the Greater Eurasian Partnership “is gaining a special meaning.”

Putin established a direct connection not only between the Greater Eurasian Partnership and EAEU members but also “BRICS members such as China and India”, “the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN and other organizations.”

And that’s the core of the whole, ongoing, multi-layered process of Eurasia integration, with the China-led New Silk Roads intersecting with the Eurasia Economic Union, the SCO, BRICS+, and other converging strategies.

Lavrov this week said that Argentina and Saudi Arabia want to join BRICS, whose next summer in China is being meticulously prepared. Not only that: Lavrov mentioned how quite a few Arab nations want to join the SCO. He was careful to describe this process of converging alliances as “not antagonistic”.

Putin for his part was careful to define the Greater Eurasian Partnership as “a big civilizational project. The main idea is to create a common space for equitable cooperation for regional organizations”, changing “the political and economic architecture on the entire continent.”

Thus, the necessity to “draft a comprehensive strategy for developing large-scale Eurasian partnership”, including “a roadmap for industrialization”. That translates in practice as developing “engineering centers and research centers. This is inevitable for any country that wants to increase its economic, financial, and ultimately political sovereignty. It is inevitable.”

Yaroslav Lissovolik  at the Valdai Club is one of the top analysts tracking how this convergence may profit the whole Global South. He stresses that among the “variability and diversity in the platforms that may be launched by Global South economies, the most sizeable and comprehensive of which could include the aggregation of CELAC (Latin America), African Union (Africa)”, and the SCO in Eurasia.

And an even more diverse set of “regional blocs that targets deeper integration could feature a BRICS+ platform that comprises the South African Development Community (SADC), MERCOSUR, BIMSTEC”, the China-ASEAN free trade agreement, and the EAEU.

The Eurasian Economic Forum has shown once again that this high-speed – economic integration – train has already left the station. It’s quite enlightening to notice the sharp contrast with the endless doom and gloom afflicting a collective West prone to inflation, energy shortages, food shortages, fictional “narratives” and the defense of neo-Nazis under the banner of liberal “democracy”.

Vladimir Putin addressed the plenary session of the 1st Eurasian Economic Forum

May 26, 2022

First Eurasian Economic Forum

Also attending the meeting were Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko, and Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Mikhail Myasnikovich. The forum moderator was Alexander Shokhin, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, member of the Presidium of the EAEU Business Council.

The purpose of the Eurasian Economic Forum, established by a decision of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council and timed to coincide with a meeting of the SEEC, is to further deepen economic cooperation between the EAEU member states.

The EEF 2022 in Bishkek, themed Eurasian Economic Integration in the Era of Global Shifts: New Investment Opportunities, will focus on promising areas for the strategic development of integration. The participants will discuss ways to deepen industrial, energy, transport, financial, and digital cooperation.

* * *

Address at the plenary session of the 1st Eurasian Economic Forum.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I am grateful for this opportunity to address you, to speak on the issues which you [Alexander Shokhin] have raised and which, as you suggested, should be addressed in greater detail.

First of all, I would like to thank President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov and his team for organising this event. I can see many people in the audience, including businesspeople and government officials. I am sure that the media will take a keen interest in the forum.

This is what I would like to begin with when answering your question. The development of Eurasian integration has no connection whatsoever to current developments or market conditions. We established this organisation many years ago. In fact, we established it at the initiative of the First President of Kazakhstan [Nursultan Nazarbayev].

I remember very well the main conversation we had on that issue, on that subject, when he said, “You must choose what is more important to you: working more actively and more closely with your direct neighbours and natural partners, or prioritising, for example, admission to the World Trade Organisation.” It was in this connection that we had to make decisions.

And although we were interested in joining the WTO and in developing relations accordingly with our Western partners, as you said and as I continue to say, we nevertheless regarded as our main priority the development of relations with our direct and natural neighbours within the common economic framework of the Soviet Union. This is my first point.

The second. Already at that time, we started developing ties – I will speak about this later – within the framework of the Greater Eurasian Partnership. Our motivation was not the political situation but global economic trends, because the centre of economic development is gradually – we are aware of this, and our businesspeople are aware of this – is gradually moving, continues to move into the Asia-Pacific Region.

Of course, we understand the tremendous advantages of high technology in advanced economies. This is obvious. We are not going to shut ourselves off from it. There are attempts to oust us from this area a little but this is simply unrealistic in the modern world. It is impossible. If we do not separate ourselves by putting up a wall, nobody will be able to isolate such a country as Russia.

Speaking not only about Russia, but also about our partners in the EAEU and the world in general, this task is completely unfeasible. Moreover, those who are trying to fulfil it harm themselves the most. No matter how sustainable the economies of the countries pursuing this shortsighted policy are, the current state of the global economy shows that our position is right and justified, even in terms of macroeconomic indicators.

These advanced economies have not had such inflation for the past 40 years; unemployment is growing, logistics chains are breaking and global crises are growing in such sensitive areas as food. This is no joke. It is a serious factor affecting the entire system of economic and political relations.

Meanwhile, these sanctions and bans are aimed at constraining and weakening the countries that are pursuing an independent policy, and they ate not limited to Russia or even China. I do not doubt for a second that there are many countries that want to and will pursue an independent policy and their number is growing. No world policeman will be able to stop this global process. There will not be enough power for this and the desire to do so will evaporate due to a host of domestic problems in those countries. I hope they will eventually realise that this policy has no prospects whatsoever.

Violating rules and norms in international finances and trade is counterproductive. In simple words, it will only lead to problems for those who are doing it. Theft of foreign assets has never done any good to anyone, primarily those who are engaged in these unseemly deeds. As it has transpired now, neglect for the political and security interests of other countries leads to chaos and economic upheavals with global repercussions.

Western countries are sure that any persona non grata who has their own point of view and is ready to defend it can be deleted from the world economy, politics, culture and sports. In fact, this is nonsense, and, as I said, it is impossible to make this happen.

We can see it. Mr Shokhin, as a representative of our business, you certainly face problems, especially in the field of supply chains and transport, but nevertheless, everything can be adjusted, everything can be built in a new way. Not without losses at a certain stage, but it leads to the fact that we really become stronger in some ways. In any case, we are definitely acquiring new skills and are starting to focus our economic, financial, and administrative resources on breakthrough areas.

True, not all the import substitution goals were achieved in previous years. But it is impossible to achieve everything: life is faster than administrative decisions, it develops faster. But there is no problem. We have done everything necessary in key areas that ensure our sovereignty.

Let us move on. After all, import substitution is not a pill for every ill, and we are not going to deal exclusively with import substitution. We are just going to develop. But we will continue to arrange import substitution in those areas where we are forced to do so. Yes, maybe with some mixed results, but definitely we will only become stronger thanks to this, especially in the field of high technologies.

Look, after the CoCom lists – I have already spoken about this many times – after what you said about our work, for instance, within the same former G8 and so on, restrictions still remained. In the most sensitive areas, everything was still closed. In fact, fundamentally – I want to emphasise this – nothing has changed fundamentally.

These issues related to large-block assemblies and so on, it took so much effort to increase localisation within the country, in our economy, in the real sectors of the economy, in industry. And even then we did not agree on key issues in many respects.

Actually, import substitution was necessary

to create not just assembly shops, but also engineering centres and research centres. This is inevitable for any country that wants to increase its economic, financial and ultimately political sovereignty. It is inevitable.

This is why we have been doing it, and not because the current state of affairs demands it from us, but simply because life itself demanded this, and we were active.

And, of course, we will work actively within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union and within the CIS in general, we will work with the regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa. But I assure you, and you can see it yourselves, many of our companies from Europe, our partners from Europe, have announced that they are leaving. You know, sometimes when we look at those who are leaving, we ask ourselves: isn’t it a good thing that they have left? We will take up their niches: our business and our production – they have matured, and they will safely take root on the ground that our partners have prepared. Nothing will change.

And those who want to bring in some luxury goods, they will be able to do so. Well, it will be a little more expensive for them, but these are people who are already driving Mercedes S 600, and will continue to do so. I assure you, they will bring them from anywhere, from any country. That is not what is important for us. What is important for the country, for its development – I have already said this and I will repeat it – are the engineering centres and research centres that are the basis of our own development. This is what we must think about and what we must work on both within the EAEU and in a broad sense with our partners – those who want to cooperate with us.

We have a very good base that we inherited from the old days, we only need to support it and to invest resources there. As for those areas, in which we did not invest appropriate resources before, including, say, administrative resources, relying on the fact that everything can be bought by selling oil and gas, life itself has now forced us to invest there.

And thank God that this has happened. I do not see any problem here with the fact that we have not completed something in the field of import substitution. We will not do it just because the current economic situation forces us to do so, but only because it is in the interests of our country.

The Eurasian Economic Union has developed a roadmap for industrialisation, with over 180 projects with a total investment of over $300 billion. A programme for agricultural development has been prepared, including more than 170 projects worth $16 billion.

Russia has something to offer here, and businesspeople are well aware of this. We have grown to be highly competitive at the global level, in the global markets. Russia remains – if we speak about agriculture – the largest exporter of wheat, number one in the world. Until recently, we were buying it – now we are selling it, number one in the world. True, countries such as the United States or China produce even more, but they also consume more. But Russia has become number one in international trade.

Our high-tech industries are growing successfully, too. And we would like to continue growing together with our EAEU partners. We can and should restore our collaborative competencies.

I have discussed this with my colleagues, with the President of Kazakhstan and the Prime Minister of Armenia – not because some of Russia’s IT workers have moved to Armenia, not at all. They are free to relocate and work anywhere, and God bless them. But again, it is a certain challenge for us: it means we must create better conditions.

We have opportunities to work with the Republic of Belarus in a number of areas of cooperation, and we will definitely do this, because the Republic of Belarus has retained certain expertise that is very important for us, including in microelectronics. President Lukashenko and I just met in Sochi and talked about it, and even agreed to set aside funding for those projects in Belarus. The products that these enterprises, these industries will make will enjoy demand in Russia. This is a very interesting and promising area.

The EAEU countries have laid the foundation for a common digital landscape, including a unified products traceability system. Various platform solutions are being developed, for example, the Work without Borders search system. The project is very important for all our countries. Despite all the crises and challenges caused by the current political situation, labour migrants continue to send almost as much money home from Russia as before. Moreover, some countries are receiving even more money now, as my colleagues from the CIS have told me.

The practice of payments in national currencies is expanding, which is very important. Notably, their share in the mutual trade of the Union’s countries has already reached 75 percent. We will continue to work on interlinking our national payment systems and bank cards.

We believe it is important to expedite the dialogue on internal international financial and payment mechanisms, such as transitioning from SWIFT to direct correspondent contacts between the banks of the friendly countries, including through the Russian Central Bank’s financial messaging system. We also propose strengthening cooperation with key lending and financial centres in the Asia-Pacific Region.

New topics related to Eurasian integration include developing cooperation in green technology, environmental protection and energy saving. We expect to receive support and proactive suggestions from the business community.

Colleagues,

In the current international conditions when, unfortunately, traditional trade and economic links and supply chains are being disrupted, Russia’s initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership– an initiative we have been discussing for many years – is gaining a special meaning.

We are thankful to the leaders of the EAEU countries for supporting this proposal from the very beginning. BRICS members such as China and India as well as several other countries also supported creating a Greater Eurasian Partnership. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ASEAN and other organisations have shown interest in this initiative.

Here, I would like to mention several specific ideas pertaining to the comprehensive development of the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

First, it is reasonable to develop shared institutions for specific growth points, including creating a Eurasian export centre and trade houses, expediting the establishment of a Eurasian reinsurance company, examining the issue of developing special trans-border economic zones, probably even with supranational authority.

The second point. It is important to step up the EAEU’s cooperation with foreign partners and inform them about the benefits and advantages of working with the EAEU and of our key projects and plans. My colleagues know that interest in our association is growing. In this context, the EAEU Business Council could play a significant role. It is already successfully developing ties beyond our union. Its business dialogue system may become an example for a potential business cooperation platform in Greater Eurasia.

That said, as I have already noted, it would be desirable to support the freedom of business initiative, the creative activity of business, of our investors. I suggest creating additional, better incentives for this purpose and investing more in Eurasian projects. Naturally, the companies representing national businesses of the EAEU countries must receive priority support.

My third point. It is time to draft a comprehensive strategy for developing large-scale Eurasian partnership. It must reflect the key international challenges facing us, determine future goals and contain instruments and mechanisms for achieving them. We must consider further steps in developing our system of trade and investment agreements, in part, with the participation of the SCO, ASEAN and BRICS member countries.

In fact, we may draft new agreements that will develop and supplement WTO rules. In this context, it is important to pay attention not only to tariffs but also to the removal of non-tariff barriers. This may produce considerable results without subjecting our national economies to risks.

In conclusion, I would like to say the following. It would be no exaggeration to say that Greater Eurasia is a big civilisational project. The main idea is to create a common space for equitable cooperation for regional organisations. The Greater Eurasian Partnership is designed to change the political and economic architecture and guarantee stability and prosperity on the entire continent – naturally, taking account of the diverse development models, cultures and traditions of all nations. I am confident, and this is obvious anyway, that this centre would attract a big audience.

I would like to wish success and productive cooperation to all participants of the Eurasian Economic Forum.

Thank you for your attention. Thank you.

Here comes China: The world rotated one more time

April 14, 2022

Source

By Amarynth

The world rotated one more time since the last report on China.

So, what do we know?

China is rock-solid behind Russia in all of Russia’s objectives, and in some instances, up ahead.

It almost seems as if an agreement was, if not stated, then understood. Russia will do the shootin’ for now, and China will keep the economic boat afloat. We see consistent commenting such as China is a consistent stabilizing force in a changing world

Overall NATO is feeling the pressure and ‘resetting’ and trying to clone itself as Aukus in the east while trying to strengthen itself in the west. We have Stoltenberg announcing: “What we see now is a new reality, a new normal for European security. Therefore, we have now asked our military commanders to provide options for what we call a reset, a more longer-term adaptation of NATO.”. In this speech, he announced that plans are being worked up to transform NATO into a major force capable of taking on an invading army and states that NATO deepens partnerships in Asia in response to a rising “security challenge” from China.

Yet, in the east, the Quad is one less, given India’s refusal to follow the U.S. regarding Russia.

Japan has been asked to join Aukus as a Japan, US, Australia, UK alliance intending to project a strong regional balance of power against China, Russia (and maybe India then?) in Asia. This Aukus will then have synergy,, they say, with Japanese technologies in areas such as hypersonic weapons and electronic warfare. Somehow I don’t see Japan as a suitable switch out for India, but then again, we’re dealing with desperate last gyrations of a world hegemon here, trying to project that it still has many friends.

A quick look at India. These days, if you see a country being threatened, you know already that they have started decoupling from so-called western democracy and Blinken has just threatened India yet again. He says the US is “monitoring rise in rights abuses in India” So, suddenly the US cares about human rights abuses in India. This bellicose rhetoric is not effective and way beyond its sell-by date.

It is clear that Russia is decoupling from Europe, and this started before sanctions. But did you know that China is decoupling from Britain, Canada, and the US? This is a brand-new trend. China’s top offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC Ltd. is preparing to exit its operations in Britain, Canada, and the United States, because of concerns in Beijing that assets could become subject to Western sanctions. As it seeks to leave the West, CNOOC is looking to acquire new assets in Latin America and Africa, and also wants to prioritize the development of large, new prospects in Brazil, Guyana, and Uganda.

Apparently trying to deal with those three countries has become painful and CNOOC is seeking to sell “marginal and hard to manage” assets. Quoted are red tape and high operating costs in the western climes.

In the Asia region, we also saw the ease with which Imran Khan was relieved of his post as Prime Minister. I don’t believe this is the end of this story, because the citizens of Pakistan are truly unhappy.  https://www.rt.com/news/553734-us-involved-imran-khan-departure/

So if you were thinking that while the Ukraine war is hot, the Pacific is cool, that would be a mis judgement.

The new cry going out is if we’ve censored all the Russian voices, how can we allow the Chinese voices to carry water for Russia. We have to cancel them too! (These people deserve to go and live underground in bunkers!)

Taiwan keeps the war propaganda at a fever pitch by releasing a China Invasion Survival Guide.

Taiwan’s All-out Defense Mobilization unit has released a guide for citizens in the event of a war with Beijing, complete with comic strips and tips for survival, locating bomb shelters, and preparing food and first aid provisions.  The guide has been planned for some time, and comes as local officials look to extend military service beyond the current 4 months. https://t.me/rtnews/23455

Nancy Pelosi was planning to visit Taiwan. China made its displeasure known widely and loudly. And Pelosi immediately contracted Covid and had to suspend her trip.

From the Australian side, the propaganda is flowing strong. Here is a very fine video with Brian Berletic and Robbie Barwick, explaining exactly what happened with the contretemps in the Solomon Islands, as well as the overall trajectory and the speed thereof, of Australia’s belligerence against China. This video contains some interesting statements and supporting data. Seemingly, if Australia interacts with Island Nations like the Solomon’s the idea is to build infrastructure suitable for war, so, building a port must be suitable for US aircraft carriers, and building a road must be suitable for landing US airplanes. If China interacts with these very same Island Nations, the idea is to build infrastructure that can benefit their population and this is now clear among all.

Is it over? No, not by a long shot. Aussie minister pays ‘unprecedented coercive visit’ to Solomon Islands over China security pact. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202204/1259266.shtml

I’ve come to enjoy China’s spokespeople. They are sharp and do not miss a trick. Acerbic and incisive commentary is the order of the day. This is a good example, and please note the tone of the Western journos .. If you have never spent time on one of these, it is an education. The western journos try and beat the spox to death with repeated questions loaded with innuendo. https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/202204/t20220411_10666750.html

It is quite clear that China is not leaving the issue of Biolabs behind. They have just about daily coverage in various media about it.

SEOUL, April 12 (Xinhua) — U.S. military biological facilities in South Korea are serious threats to local residents’ safety, said a South Korean expert, as the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) continues with a scandalous program involving experiments with living toxic samples. #GLOBALink

https://english.news.cn/20220412/a7d456ef4d5c4b7bab7fa07305aa6333/c.html

China will never forget epithets like “China Virus” and “Wuhan Flu”. Take a good look at this image titled Poison Disseminator.

China had to evacuate +- 2,000 Chinese citizens from the Ukraine. From media, it was a successful evacuation. They have also repeatedly made their stance clear on the Ukraine.

https://www.silkroadbriefing.com/news/2022/03/08/chinas-foreign-ministry-position-on-russia-ukraine/

The main focus is humanitarian. China released a five-point position statement supported by a six-point humanitarian plan

The position statement is:

  • First, we persevere in promoting peace talks in the right direction. We hold that dialogue and negotiation are the only way out, oppose adding fuel to the fire and intensifying confrontation, call for achieving a ceasefire and ending the conflict, and support Russia and Ukraine in carrying out direct dialogue.
  • Second, we persevere in upholding the basic norms governing international relations. We advocate respect for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and oppose putting small and medium-sized countries on the front line of geopolitical games.
  • Third, we persevere in preventing the resurgence of the Cold War mentality. We do not agree with the “friend-or-foe” camp confrontation, firmly promote international solidarity, advocate the vision of common, cooperative, comprehensive and sustainable security, and respect and accommodate the legitimate and reasonable concerns of all parties.
  • Fourth, we persevere in upholding the legitimate rights and interests of all countries. We oppose unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law and call for safeguarding the international industrial and supply chains to avoid harming normal economic and trade exchanges and people’s lives.
  • Fifth, we persevere in consolidating peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. We firmly uphold the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness in our neighborhood diplomacy, guard against the introduction of bloc confrontation into the region by the United States through the “Indo-Pacific strategy”, accelerate the promotion of regional integration and cooperation, and guard the hard-won development momentum in the region.

Wang Ji describes the six-point humanitarian plan:

While China is doing its best to create a level playing field and do real humanitarian work, they are not hiding the fact that they hold the US/NATO fully responsible for what they see as an action that was forced onto Russia.

Inside China, it is all about economic miracles. Taking a huge bow now in their theater of urgent needs is seeds: Chinese Seeds, Chinese developed, and Chinese local seeds. The seed companies of the west are unwelcome with the IP registration of their seeds and China will hold its ownership over its seeds.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202204/12/WS6253c2e2a310fd2b29e563d6.html

The Shanghai lockdown provided endless China-bashing opportunities for western commentators. Tucker Carlson jumped on this horse and did his part for the anti-China campaign with a litany of complaints, a bunch of pixellated videos that are propaganda material, never having spoken to anyone actually living in Shanghai, without an idea of China’s principled management of Covid and without understanding the levels of the lockdown – complete political projection of US so-called values.  As we have seen so many times from the USA’ians, trying to fight his political battles on the back of the Chinese (or anyone else, for that matter).  He also perceivably has no idea that the Chinese lockdown supports the people with food and medicines, and it is not like the west. So, he looks at this with western eyes and truly, he has no clue. It is exactly the same that the world complains about .. it is: “We are right and exceptional and we know better.” Because China makes its own rules, Carlson calls it wrong. He is totally committed to the idea of US manifest destiny and his way is the right way.  Carlson is anti a war with Russia for political purposes but show him China as a possible war partner, and he blooms with bloodlust.

It is truly better to listen to those that are actually living there and can actually speak the language.  It is so that people believe the MSM when that very same MSM says something that they like and rail against that very same MSM when they say something that they don’t like.

David Fishman tweets: So it’s CRAZY that we have to do this, it’s also incredibly fascinating from a supply chain/logistics/economics perspective. We are in the process of re-inventing the food distribution network in Shanghai. It’s all based on the newly prevalent concept of Group-Buying.

If you really want to know how people live through a 14 day lockdown, a 14 day lighter lockdown if no Covid presents itself, a closed and open-loop system, and then thereafter no lock down. I would recommend that you click on this tweet and read all the parts:

Let’s hear from someone who is actually right there:

And Jeff Brown weighed in as well. Special explanation to address the many concerns global citizens have about China’s “Zero-Covid” policy, with Shanghai now in the headlines.

https://jeffjbrown.substack.com/p/special-explanation-to-address-the

And so there are to my knowledge hundreds of people reporting that they get their food delivered, they take part in group buying, they mostly get what they want but sometimes not and we see things like this:

The lesson here is that if you want to know what is happening in China, listen to the people in China. Now, they are not brutally suppressed and silenced. Online media is bigger than ever. What is frowned upon and can get you into hot water, is if you are rude and rude to others. State your case, don’t be rude and you will be fine with social media communication.  (Somewhat like the concept of Saving Face).

No, China is not killing 25 million people in Shanghai.

There are thousands of made-up and anti-China video clips breathlessly being passed around by the usual suspects.  I saw one that purports that the Chinese are breaking down their 5G towers.  It was a clip from the umbrella riots in Hong Kong where the rioters were breaking down public infrastructure.

Is everything perfect? Of course not. Are their people struggling? Of course. Was there food distribution problems initially?  Of course.  Is it easy? Of course not. Are most people content with the decision to do a phased lock-in of a city of 25 million people? Most of the ones that I’ve regularly followed are, if not content, they understand the reason and trust the Chinese Zero-Covid policy. Westerners need to start understanding that the Chinese people are part of their government and that they actually believe the government does what is best for the people and they have evidence and proof of this, because they are part of a very inclusive system.

Cyrus Janssen is a regular commentator on China.  He does not like the Shanghai lockdown.  This is his thread, and take a look at what the Chinese actually answered.

The conversation in China is different from the conversation in the west.  Their current concern is future management of Covid.  They have concerns that their Zero-Covid strategy needs to be adjusted.  They are in the process of refining its strategy.  They do not have concerns about their strategy, because they have the numbers.

The last report that I have is as of Saturday.  The Shanghai port STILL operating smoothly, with berthing efficiency better than 2021. The average waiting time for ships in Port is under 24 hours, and all the production units at the port maintain normal 24-hour operations, except in extreme weather. In 2021, the Port moved 47 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), ranking first globally. Throughput of international containers exceeded 6 million TEUs for the first time.

Trade between Russia and China skyrocketed. Paul from the Sirius report states it as follows:  “Western experts fail to grasp that the Global South is around 87% of the world’s population, is in its ascendancy and has a myriad of vertical growth markets now in play and is embracing the multipolar world. West meanwhile is in terminal decline.”

China and Russia trade in Q1 rose 28% to $38.2bn equivalent.

In 2021, trade turnover between Russia and China hit a record high of $146.88 billion, having surged 35.8%. In December, the Russian and Chinese presidents agreed on creating infrastructure to service trade operations between the two nations without third parties.

The ASEAN surpassed the EU to become China’s largest trading partner. China’s imports and exports with ASEAN jumped 8.4% yoy to 1.35tn yuan in Q1 accounting for 14.4% of the country’s foreign trade volume.

Beijing’s economic and trade cooperation with other countries including Russia and Ukraine remains normal.

Beijing has refused to join sanctions against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine, saying cooperation between China and Russia “has no limits.” The two countries have been switching from the US dollar and the euro to local currencies in trade to avoid possible sanctions.

It’s all digital currency for the years ahead for China. Make a strong distinction in your mind between CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency), Cryptocurrencies and China’s digital currency. They are not all the same.

Russia is increasing its holdings in Yuan. This is explained as underscoring the falling credibility of the US dollar, as the US has been weaponizing the dollar as a financial weapon instead of a trusted international payment currency.  This via Xu Wenhong, a research fellow at the Institute of Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

From the Here Comes China newsletter by Godfree Roberts, we see this:

Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics arm, rolled out a digital end-to-end e-commerce logistics service that includes pickup, warehousing, supply chain, customs clearance, and last-mile delivery.  You may think this is for China internally and it might well be so, but China has now something like 3,000 warehouses across the world, supporting the products that the belt and road transport, to get to the last-mile delivery.

Earlier I referred to the Quad as well as to the fact that China is doing its own selective decoupling. The Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline, which runs through Mongolia, is specifically aimed at reducing any Chinese dependence on Quad Members.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Energy/China-turns-to-Russian-gas-to-curb-dependence-on-Quad-members

To conclude before we get to a lighter note, the west has no competitive edge any longer in trade, very little in war if we look at it as of today (they can still wipe us all out and turn us into glass), and have no honor left. They are not serious people and cannot be allowed to try and run our planet any longer, exclusively to their own benefit.

From Godfree’s newsletter about one of China’s minorities that I had actually never heard of. The Naxi, one of China’s 55 ethnic minorities, have long been popular with anthropologists, but its folk music is routinely overlooked. A new album hopes to change that. It might not be your style, but something different and away from war is always welcome.


Many of the data points here are courtesy of Godfree Roberts’ extensive weekly newsletter: Here Comes China. You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

Interview: London Paul from the Sirius Report – Move to Multipolarity

April 12, 2022

Source

Amarynth interviewed London Paul

London Paul from the Sirius Report has a story to tell. This is the story of the history of multipolarity and the global move to a new multipolar structure in our world with the old single polarity hegemon now collapsing.

He graciously agreed to this 5-question written interview to bring Saker readers up to date and we are grateful for his time.

Paul will probably not be a new voice for some of our readers, but for others, you can read his background here: https://www.thesiriusreport.com/about/

His work was some of the first that was scrubbed from the internet and for years, he was laughed out of the house, as what he was observing was just too different to be true. To avoid the continual internet scrubbing games, he set up a monthly subscription podcast, where he discusses current affairs in relation to economics.  Yet today, we are in this process and we can visibly see the progress and effects of this massive move to a multipolar world.

At the Saker Blog, we’ve focused on the Russian military action in the Ukraine. We understand that this is a fight not against the Ukrainians but against the US-led NATO military alliance, and the single power center, west.  The Ukraine is but a proxy. In the bigger picture, this move toward multipolarity is one of the reasons if not the major part, for this military action.

With that short overview, we move straight into the questions.

Question:  Paul, give us the background. How did you arrive at your understanding? What drew you to this specific study and what makes you excited about it, even today? Where do we stand as a world community? What do we stand to gain by changing the complete underpinnings of our world to a fairer system, where each country has a voice?

Response:  I was originally an academic who studied Physics at degree and PhD level. I then moved into the financial services sector, so that’s when my interest and understanding in economics and finance started in earnest. It was around the time of 9-11 that I developed a serious interest in geopolitics.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2008 Global financial crisis, which I predicted in 2006, it was immediately apparent that the West had not implemented any policies which would resolve the causes of that crisis. They merely decided to bailout the financial system and then implemented QE and ZIRP which should only ever have been implemented on a very short term basis. I wrote to Western governments at the time advising them not to implement these policies for more than a few short months because the consequence of long term implementation is unsustainable asset bubbles, failing economies addicted to – and propped up by – cheap credit, and a completely unsustainable financial system. Developments made by China, Russia and other nations, which we will come to in the next question, were the first genuine suggestion that those nations saw the need for an alternative to what had become the utter failure of unipolarity by the 2008 GFC.

It was around a decade ago that I came to know the architects of what is now known as the multipolar world. They understood back in the 1990s that US hegemony and the US Dollar were in terminal decline. They advised the Chinese and Russians that they needed to develop a multipolar world, the resurrection of the Old Silk Road, to seek win-win cooperation with other nations and to develop sound monetary policies and currencies backed by real wealth, such as gold and commodities. From discussions with these architects I began to study China, Russia and the wider Global South in great detail as we began to see the embryonic development and implementation of the multipolar world.

Given these are fundamentally game changing developments in the so-called global order, my interest remains as strong today as it was a decade ago. We are now seeing a world that operates in two distinct spheres: a rapidly developing and ascendent multipolar world and a unipolar world in terminal decline. When these two worlds collide as the latter seeks to retain its relevance, we then see the risk of serious conflicts developing such as what we are now witnessing in the Ukraine.

Whilst the developing multipolar world is a decades-long project in the making, its adoption and the benefits that will be accrued are multifold, in that it seeks to develop nations domestically, bilaterally and in multilateral formats. It strives to promote true globalisation, not the highly abusive Western adoption of this theory. By promoting win-win cooperation and the development of vertical poles across the entire world, it will provide prosperity and security for everyone.

Many will argue that this is a nonsensical pipedream but it is already becoming a reality. Challenges will remain, not least in the ideological bias that exists between nations and in deep-seated historical grievances. However, all journeys have to start with the first step and that is what we are already beginning to see across the Global South. The sum of our parts can be infinitely greater than the individual components and that is something we, as responsible custodians of this planet, should be striving to achieve. It is for these reasons that my understanding of this paradigm shift remains as strong today as it was a decade ago.

Question:  Is it only China and Russia that designed the concept of multipolarity for us, or were there more involved historically?

Response:  Whilst I think it would be fair to say that China and Russia were the trail blazers for multipolarity, we should not forget the role that has been played by many other nations in the last decade which is equally as important and significant.

Firstly, there was the announcement of the BRIC alliance, which became the BRICS alliance, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in 2009, in the immediate aftermath of the GFC of 2009. We also saw the foundation of the SCO or Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001, which included Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Full membership was granted to India and Pakistan in 2017. There are also four observer states: Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran (soon to become a full member), Mongolia and 6 dialogue partners.

We also saw the creation of the EAEU in 2014 which now includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. In 2016, there was the formation of the AIIB or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is a multilateral development bank focusing on developments in Asia. The bank currently has 105 members, including 16 prospective members.

We have also seen the modification of long-term institutions such as the ASEAN alliance or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which was founded in 1967 and is a political and economic union of 10 member states in Southeast Asia, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation in the realms of economic, political, and security integration between its members and in a wider context throughout Asia.

One development which has been years in the making was the adoption of the RCEP or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in early 2022, which is a free-trade agreement. It includes Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

These are just a few examples of developments in multilateral formats. There have also been many developments in bilateral and trilateral formats which are all pieces of the development of this multipolar world.

Question:  What do you envisage as we move further into this world configuration in terms of trade?  What could be the everyday currencies? As we are a Russian-oriented site, there is much concern about the Russian Central Bank. Will we end up with Central Banks? Has Russia’s move to set a price standard for gold ended in a gold backed Ruble, or a commodity based currency? Explain to us what it means in broader terms for the ordinary person?  Why should we be interested?

Response:  Global trade, finance and ecoomies will literally go through a revolution. The BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) has laid the foundation for a global trade system but it is fluid and subject to change. There is no doubt that banks and the global financial system are going to undergo radical changes, including their investment arms. There will be a radical overhaul of the function of governments and financial institutions to include central banks. We expect to see the adoption of sophisticated barter systems which will facilitate trade whereby the respective counter parties will set transaction prices as they see fit, free from government interference.

Blockchain and other technologies will totally change the way business is conducted. The multipolar world will seek to facilitate trade and allow trading partners to generate and keep their wealth. There will be a radical overhaul of how basic needs are managed to include healthcare, education, food and energy security. The domination of unsustainable cartels and cooperations will come to an end and we will see an explosion of creativity in terms of industry, medicine, science and the arts. Ultimately, it requires a complete overhaul of all existing Western institutions which have ruthlessly abused their responsibility for self-interests.

We will see, in a very broad sense, the marrying of true capitalism and socialism into workable models for nations and alliances. The ongoing challenge to US unipolarity will continue via the Global South and, in essence, the Eurasian Trade Zone. Existing Western institutions will continue to unravel and the insidious practices that have underpinned the world since WW2 will continue to be exposed.

In terms of future currencies, we are going to see the adoption of new payment mechanisms outside the purview of the USD / UST complex. This will include nations trading in local currencies, adopting future cryptocurrencies or digital currencies in multilateral formats such as the EAEU and the ASEAN nations. The backbone of future trade will be in currencies which are backed by real wealth, to include gold, perhaps silver and a basket of commodities. There will be no single world reserve currency in the future. China has always made it clear that it doesn’t seek to make the yuan a world reserve currency but merely to internationalise its currency. Russia also has that possibility via its vast commodity resource base, for the future global adoption of the ruble in terms of trade, particularly with the Global South but also the West and not just in terms of demanding ruble for gas as we are currently seeing.

The 5000 ruble per gram price fix was merely meant to stabilise internal markets and miners. It has now been removed because that stability has been achieved. Unfortunately, in the West, that announcement was interpreted as meaning that Russia had backed the ruble with gold and it was wrongly conflated with a far bigger story which we have discussed for years about the future role of the ruble in international trade.

For Russia, the stability and global adoption of the ruble in terms of trading commodities will be beneficial to the Russian economy, its financial stability and enable it to access markets free from the potential interference of the US via the weaponization of the dollar. It will also permit Russia to continue to implement further domestic changes, not least including the development of the Russian Far East and its integration into the BRI. A stable ruble and the benefits that will accrue will also see greater international investment in Russia in the future.

Question:  People talk about food scarcity and prices are rising everywhere.  So, is this purely sanctions blowback, or the result of years of fiscal mismanagement?  And then how is an ordinary person to hedge.  Where are we going to see major country defaults on their debts?

Response:  We have spoken about food and energy insecurity for a number of years. The sanctions blowback has merely exacerbated a long-term problem caused by utterly failed policy decisions. Firstly, nations should have long since been aware of the flaws of a global ‘just-in-time-system’, in that if one aspect of that mechanism fails it can have damaging consequences.

We have seen during the pandemic how global supply chains were impacted in very serious and sudden ways. The just-in-time-system was the primary cause of this. Whilst we are not advocates of protectionism, because we see that as being equally flawed, nations need to understand that they need to become more self-sufficient where possible, in terms of food and energy security. There also needs to be a radical overhaul of this just-in-time-system because the pandemic highlighted eloquently why it is quite simply unfit for purpose.

This also highlights the need for nations to adopt a new approach via multipolarity which seeks to find mechanisms to address the future disruption of supply chains, how nations can begin to address some of those concerns domestically, particularly in terms of food production and via their energy needs. There also needs to be an understanding that this Western ideological zero-sum game mentality is contributing to global food and energy instability because of its very weaponization by Washington and its vassal states.

In terms of energy security, the desire to push ahead with the utterly flawed green revolution has also led to unnecessary imbalances in the energy mix, putting even Western nations at serious risk of future energy and food insecurity including rationing and perhaps even the complete absence of basic sustenance food items. There needs to be a radical global overhaul of how we address energy needs and how we can address this via a mix of traditional fossil fuels, nuclear reactors to include a global drive for commercial fusion development, hydroelectricity and the adoption of viable renewable energy sources because currently the renewable sector is appallingly myopic and fails to address obvious issues such as the cost in terms of energy, resources, commodities and the environmental impact to implement e.g. solar and wind farms. In very basic terms the cost-benefit ratio of seeking to implement such technologies has not been adequately addressed.

In terms of how people can manage the current risks of food and energy insecurities, that depends on their individual circumstances. If possible, they should look to stockpile non-perishable foods, grow their own fresh vegetables, utilize alternative off-the-grid energy sources for cooking, heating and lighting. However, this is often not possible due to financial and domestic constraints. What is clear is that we are expressing a global crisis in terms of food and energy security and currently we don’t sense that Western nations are taking this seriously enough. The consequences are potentially catastrophic and not just in terms of the global South. The West is now highly vulnerable to similar shocks and we are simply unprepared, not least in dealing with the societal impact this could and will cause.

Question:  What is the question that you would have liked people to ask you, initially, in the early days, when your message was not taken seriously. And of course, if you can answer that question as well.

Response:  Ironically, this is a question within a question. I was asked back in 2014 what I regarded as my fundamental observation for the next decade. My response was that we should all pay attention to what China and Russia do domestically, bilaterally and internationally. This was greeted with utter disbelief, ridicule and anger. Instead of reacting in such a manner, the next question should have been why I gave such a radical response and what was my reasoning, instead of being summarily dismissed.

If I had been asked why I believed this to be the case I would have explained why the GFC in 2008 was the signal that US hegemony, the US dollar and unipolarity were in rapid and terminal decline. Why – as I stated at the time of the Kiev maidan in 2014 – this was the final nail in the coffin lid of the US hegemony and the USD and Russia would play the long game to see this reach its inevitable conclusion. Why I stated that the major energy deal between China and Russia for the Power of Siberia, signed in 2014, was a major catalyst for the acceleration of the multipolar world and de-dollarisation. Why post GFC 2008, the US burnt its bridges with China by printing trillions of dollars instead of asking China to buy their debt. Why the rollout of the multipolar world was baked in the cake in 2014 and the US weaponization of the dollar would continue to erode global trust in the US and the USD leading to the collapse of unipolarity.

My reasoning was based on an unfolding reality which Westerners have continually, for the last 8 years, failed to see, often because of their arrogance and ignorance. Even now, many still regard the US as the hegemonic power it was in the 1990s and China and Russia as they were in the 1980s economically, societally and military. They also tend to see China and Russia through the eyes of the West, which is a very myopic perspective and makes the assumption that neither nation is capable of offering a better alternative to unipolarity. A failure to grasp these fundamental issues will continue to see Westerners fail to understand the unfolding paradigm shift and therefore to continue to dismiss it as being an irrelevance.


Thank you Paul! for your time and your complete responses.  But, I feel we’ve hardly touched the subject and this is most probably the one issue we will be talking about far into the future.

We open to the Saker commentariat and if you have a question for Paul, please put that in the comments.  We will choose another five questions and do another interview in written form.  It is now your turn, dear reader.


FM Sergey Lavrov’s presser after talks with India’s Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, New Delhi, April 1, 2022

April 02, 2022

Ed Note:  Mr Lavrov held various pressers in his travels to China, India and the meetings between Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries (Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).  If you are interested, that speech contains the rebuilding of Afghanistan and the progress being made.  It is here:  https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1807302/

The main take-away (and there are many) from Mr Lavrov’s visits, is of course this:

A new reality is taking shape: the unipolar world is irretrievably receding into the past and a multi-polar world is being born. This is an objective process that cannot be stopped. There won’t be one single ruler in this new reality. All key states with a decisive influence on the world economy and politics will have to come to terms. Being aware of their special status, they will ensure the observance of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, including the main one – the sovereign equality of states. Nobody on Earth will be considered a second-rate player. All nations are equal and sovereign.

Instead of featuring all the pressers and speeches, this time we focus on India, because the detail level of a new financial system becomes clearer.  This is the source:  https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1807582/

Posted by Amarynth


1 April 2022 18:13

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media questions following talks with Minister of External Affairs of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, New Delhi, April 1, 2022

Question: How would you assess your talks with the minister? How can Russia support India at a time when it faces security challenges from its neighbours?

Sergey Lavrov: The talks can be characterised by the relations which we have developed with India for many decades. Our relations are a strategic partnership, even a specially privileged strategic partnership, as our Indian friends called it some time ago. And this was the basis on which we have been promoting our cooperation in all areas: the economy, military-technical, humanitarian, investment and many other fields.

And I believe that India’s foreign policy is characterised by independence and by concentrating on its own legitimate national interests. The same policy foundation exists in the Russian Federation, and this makes us, as big countries, good friends and old partners, an important part of international relations.

We have always respected each other’s interests and we always tried to accommodate the interests of the other. This was the underlying approach to our discussion, which covered all bilateral areas of cooperation, and covered, of course, international and regional issues. The situation in the region is not perfect, as with any other place in the world. We support Indian efforts to consolidate the regional countries and promote mutually beneficial projects in South Asia in particular.

Question: For a long time, Russia has been building close relations with the Western countries. Today, economic cooperation has been virtually destroyed. You are on your first Asian tour since the start of the special operation in Ukraine. First you visited China, and now India. Does this mean Russia will seek replacement markets for oil and gas in this region?

Sergey Lavrov: I believe China and India are natural destinations for this tour. Both countries are Russia’s close partners. The three of us participate in a number of international formats, including BRICS, the SCO, and formats that have developed around ASEAN: the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Regional Security Forum (ARF). There is also the RIC (Russia, India, China) format. RIC Foreign Ministers have met a couple of dozen times since its inception (more than twenty years ago). The last meeting took place in the autumn of 2021. A detailed document was adopted reflecting our common approaches to a number of international issues. It paves the way for further actions in this direction.

In China, my colleague, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and I discussed the further activities of the RIC association. Today, Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and I discussed ways to develop this format and use it more intensively in the interests of stabilising international relations and ensuring equality in international affairs. This is especially relevant given that all the three countries – Russia, India and China – are members of the UN Security Council now. So we have many plans.

As for markets, we have never imposed our products on anyone. If countries that are interested in trade with Russia have specific needs and want to expand their range of imports, we are always ready to make agreements based on a balance of interests and mutual benefit.

Question: A question regarding potential talks between Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Zelensky. Do you know which country they might be held in? The talks started in Belarus and were continued in Turkey. Israel offered mediation as well. When might a peace treaty be initialised between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministries?

Sergey Lavrov: There are no approved plans for this. The talks must continue. Our negotiators commented on the latest round of talks in Istanbul where the Ukrainian representatives “put on paper,” for the first time, their vision of the agreement that must be reached. This needs to take shape first. We are preparing a response. There is some progress there. Above all, they recognised that Ukraine cannot be a bloc country, that it cannot “find happiness” by joining the North Atlantic Alliance. Nuclear-free, bloc-free, neutral status is already recognised as an absolute must. Likewise, we saw much more understanding of one more reality. I am referring to the situation with Crimea and Donbass. We are still working on the next potential meetings. We will announce updates on this.

Question:  What were the key subjects of your conversation with Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar? Did you discuss the introduction of an efficient rouble and rupee settlement mechanism for bilateral trade, including India’s purchases of Russian oil? Was the issue of cooperation between Russia, India and China touched on at the talks in Beijing and in New Delhi?

How do you assess India’s fears of a possible delay in supplying Russian military equipment, including the S-400, due to the crisis in Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, as regards the use of the rouble and rupee in our financial and trade transactions, I would like to remind you that many years ago we started moving away from the dollar and the euro to the more extensive use of national currencies in our relations with India, with China and many other countries.

Under the circumstances, I believe this trend will be intensified, which is only natural and obvious. We are ready to supply India with any items it wants to purchase. I already referred to this. We have very good relations between the trade ministries, the ministries of finance, and I have no doubt that this would be a way to bypass the artificial impediments that have been created by the illegal unilateral sanctions by the West.

This relates also to the area of military-technical cooperation. We have no doubt that a solution would be found; the respective ministries are working on this.

Question: The United States is exerting pressure on India to involve it into an anti-Russia campaign. Does this pressure affect relations between Russia and India? Are you confident that our countries’ partnership will not be damaged?

Sergey Lavrov: I am confident about this because our partnership does not depend on opportunistic considerations. Moreover, it does not depend on illegal methods of dictate and blackmail. It is absolutely pointless to apply such a policy to countries like Russia, India, China, and many others. This shows that those who are offering and implementing such a policy, who impose it on others do not have a good understanding of the national identity of the countries they are trying to talk to in a language of blackmail and ultimatums.

Question: How do you look at India’s position on this ongoing war? What did you tell your Indian counterpart? Did you offer oil supplies to India?

Have you reached a compromise on the rupees and roubles arrangement for payments?

Even Mr Putin and you are sanctioned by the US and the EU: How do you look at this scenario?Sergey Lavrov: Every Russian has been sanctioned by the US and the European Union, so there is no surprise to me. The Western colleagues just made their real face known these days. I do not have the slightest doubt that most countries on Earth understand what is going on and understand the inadmissibility of the manners which are being demonstrated by our Western – very, very unreliable – partners.

As regards India’s position on the developments in Ukraine, – you called it a war, which is not true, as it is a special operation, which is being conducted with maximum attention being paid to not do any damage to the civilian infrastructure. The military infrastructure is being targeted, and the aim is to deprive the Kiev regime of the capacity to pose any threat to Russia. This capacity has been built and strengthened for many years by the United States and other NATO countries, which wanted to make an “anti-Russia” out of our neighbouring and fraternal country.

I already mentioned [payments in] roubles and rupees. This process is going on for many years. The reason for moving to national currencies is again the absolutely unreliable nature of our Western counterparts. We do not want to depend on a system, which could be closed at any time; and we do not want to depend on a system which has masters who can steal your money overnight.

I already mentioned oil supplies and the supplies of high-technology to India. If India wants to buy anything from us, we are ready to discuss it and reach mutually acceptable forms of cooperation.

Question: Considering the Western sanctions, will Russia boost trade with India and in which areas?

Sergey Lavrov: This is the normal course of events. We are open to mutually beneficial and mutually respectful relations in all areas, including trade and investment activity. When you encounter absolutely unjustified hostility and reaction that goes beyond all reasonable limits in one part of the world, it is, objectively, only natural that your partners elsewhere start playing a greater role in you trade and economic activity. This is not surprising. This has happened before. The sanctions were not imposed yesterday. We have been under intense sanctions imposed by the West and some other countries for many years now – at least, ten years. We already have experience in living under such circumstances and living in a way that is good for both us and our partners. Rest assured that this is how it will be this time as well.

Question: Does it bother you what Western countries think of Russia’s plan “B”? Refusing to pay for gas in roubles, France and Germany said they would not accept such an approach by the Kremlin since it violates the current contracts. What do you think?

Sergey Lavrov: As regards gas supplies to Europe, President Vladimir Putin was very elaborate: he announced the signing of a decree, which provided for a scheme acceptable, as far as I could understand, to the Western countries. We cannot use the old scheme, because, as I said, they paid us in their currencies and then they seized our accounts. It is like the gold rush in the United States at some point when the country was founded by those who fled Europe because they were outlaws, as far as I recall. So the scheme that was presented is an honest scheme. It allows us to, eventually, get payments for gas in roubles, and that was the original goal.

Question: Do you think that India has not taken a hawkish stand against Russia, despite the pressure from Western capitals, because of its dependence on the discounted crude oil and also the import of S 400 missiles and kalashnikovs?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, I cannot even imagine that India is taking some stands because India is under pressure. We respect, as I said earlier, India’s concentration on its basic principles, namely, that the Indian foreign policy is built upon the legitimate national interests of that country and its people. That is, basically, all I can say in response to your question.

Question: There is much talk that India may act as a mediator between Moscow and Kiev. More than that, they say that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi may mediate talks between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents. Did you discuss this issue and is it possible?

Sergey Lavrov: I did not hear talks like this. We respect the well-considered position of India, which does not give in to pressure through blackmail and dictates. Many other serious countries, which do not accept language like this, are taking the same approach. Probably, India will see a role for itself in finding a solution to the problems that have led to the current situation, I mean the issue of equal and indivisible security in Europe, and will help assert the principles of justice in these matters, and explain to our mutual partners that their attempts to deny Russia the right to security guarantees are futile.

We want security guarantees to be provided to Ukraine, all European countries and Russia, in keeping with the documents which have been approved by the OSCE over many previous years and have declared the principle, according to which no country should seek to strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others. The root of all problems lies here.

The West has ignored its obligations and worked to present Russia as a direct military and ideological threat, playing up to neo-Nazi trends and practices in Ukraine. I think if India with its position of justice and rational approaches to resolving international issues manages to support these processes, nobody is likely to object.

Question: It has been reported around the world for several weeks now that the Russophobic sentiment is sweeping entire regions. People are suffering from things not seen since the Middle Ages and things they bear no responsibility for. How does the Foreign Ministry respond to this? Perhaps dedicated centres for collecting information or assistance centres will be formed? What will happen next on this track and what else needs to be done?

Sergey Lavrov: We have commented on this situation many times. It really is reminiscent of the Middle Ages, real Russophobic mayhem. It’s as if the West was masquerading as a polite and well-mannered partner in the international arena for all these decades. In fact, this outwardly presentable mask was hiding its true face. It has now manifested itself on a scale that no one could even imagine. Everything Russian face ostracism and prohibition.

We put all these instances on record. We use the tools that exist in our state system, the resources of the Investigative Committee, the Prosecutor General’s Office and other departments.

The Foundation for Supporting and Protecting the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad has been operating in dozens of countries for a long time now helping organise legal assistance to compatriots in challenging circumstances.

Modern challenges call for global efforts at the level of international organisations. They must highlight the unacceptability of such “actions” on the part of our Western partners.  Discrimination is rampant and the “values” that the West has been touting for many years (presumption of innocence, inviolability of property, free market rules, etc.) have been torn up.Not to mention what is being done to religion and the Russian Orthodox Church not only in Ukraine, but also in the EU countries which consider themselves civilised. This conversation is overdue. Everything that is happening now is directly undermining the obligations of the organisers of these “actions” under the UN Charter and the OSCE. Without this conversation, we will not be able to overcome the situation the West has created not only in its relations with Russia, but also in international relations. This is a message for all of us.

Over the past couple of years, the United States has completely thwarted all attempts by Europe to strive for independence or strategic autonomy. Lone voices that are heard, in particular from France, no longer decide anything. Germany has completely reconciled itself to its role as US ally, blindly following in the wake of US policies. Everything is being done to recreate a unipolar world and proclaim this process as a “fight of democracies against autocracies.” What kind of democracy is this? As things stand, with Washington in the lead, they themselves, collectively, have become an autocracy in the international arena. They believe they can do anything and get away with it.

Should the United States claim to face a threat somewhere around the globe (as was the case in Iraq, Libya, or Syria thousands of kilometres away from their coasts, which usually turns out to be fake or based on false evidence) Washington is “entitled” to do what it wants, such as kill hundreds of thousands of civilians or level whole cities to the ground, such as Raqqa, Syria. This approach will inform the West’s future actions in all regions unless it is stopped.

Should any other country, not only Russia, see a direct threat in weapons, military biological programmes (as it lately transpired), or the creation of foreign military bases in a neighbouring country (in this case, right on the border with our country), the West considers this, as well as the fact that Russia defends its own interests, unacceptable. This is much deeper and broader than just the special military operation in Ukraine and ensuring its neutrality under collectively assumed security guarantees. This is a matter of the world order, in which all the rules of decency, international law and their own “values” (the West promoted them as part of its model of globalisation) were trampled upon by the West itself.

You can’t get away from having this conversation, and China, India and other countries realise this.I read the speech by Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at yesterday’s meeting on Indian-British cooperation. He noted that the newly arisen issues in international affairs touch on the very foundations of the world order, which must change to become equal and multipolar, without sovereigns and dictators.

Question: My first question is, why India? Secondly, Russia is actually hammered by a lot of sanctions, including on SWIFT-code. Will you recommend India or any other friend country to use an alternative payment gateway?

Sergey Lavrov: Why India? Because we are friends and we regularly exchange visits.

As for SWIFT, for many years, as I said, when the nature of our Western partners, who are entirely unreliable, became more and more obvious and known, we started developing national payment systems. In Russia, the Central Bank several years ago established a system of communication of financial information. India has a similar system which is called RuPay. And it is absolutely clear that more and more transactions would be done through these systems using national currencies, bypassing the dollar, euro and other currencies, which proved totally unreliable.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the Serbian media, Moscow, March 28, 2022

March 29, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1806841/

Question: As you know, Serbia has not joined the sanctions [against Russia]. Did it come as a surprise to you that some of the Balkan nations who have recently had a good relationship with Russia have joined the sanctions against it? What is your perspective on the efforts to bring relations with these Balkan countries back to normal later?

Sergey Lavrov: We are seeing unprecedented pressure as part of a general campaign, which some Western politicians call an all-out war against Russia where all means are justified. This did not just start now – far from it.

Over the previous ten years, the European Union, in its relations with the countries seeking to join it, has been demanding – the Serbs know this well – that they join all their foreign policy initiatives that of late have been increasingly anti-Russia in character. This has nothing to do with a single economic space or with introducing the rule of law or anything else like that. There is only an ideologically-charged approach that allows them to continue to put pressure on Russia to emasculate its independence in the international arena and have it accept European values, which Europe has long since been inculcating [in others], despite its Christian roots.

Allow me to remind you that when they were working on the European Union Constitution, which, in the end, was not approved and was replaced by the Treaty of Lisbon, the first version began with a reference to Europe’s Christian roots. The European “grandees” refused to support this wording, having repudiated their race and religious traditions. They can hardly be expected to have respect for the traditions of other faiths.

We are seeing this pressure being exerted on the Balkan countries, including Serbia, to have them join the anti-Russia sanctions, which cover almost all economic, cultural, humanitarian, political and other activities. President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic has spoken about this in detail in public several times, emphasising that Serbia will be guided by its own interests. There are also countries like this in the European Union. I just want to mention the recent statement by Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, who said that Hungary would stand up for its own interests.

This multi-ethnic self-reproducing bureaucracy with a seat in Brussels is trying to subjugate all countries without exception and concentrate all efforts to establishing rules and standards at the headquarters of the European Union, reducing to a minimum what its member countries can do on their own. This is a flawed policy. It shows yet again that, essentially, a certain trend is emerging in the European Union to strengthen autocracy as represented by Brussels in its relations with the member countries.

Montenegro and North Macedonia have been drawn into the sanctions war. They were tempted by the promise of fast rapprochement with the European Union, but this did not happen. They were drawn into NATO and anti-Russia actions and campaigns. Then they were patted on the shoulder, as it were, and told: “Good job, fellas, keep it up.” This is a serious problem. The EU’s reputation and the real goals of its policy in the Balkans are at stake. I believe the United States has given the EU complete control over the Balkans. The US is fully satisfied with the EU’s aggressive anti-Russia line.

Do you remember this statement by Josep Borrell’s predecessor Federica Mogherini? She accused Russia of being too active in the Balkans and said that if the EU started getting involved there, there was no room for others. Her successor Josep Borrell promotes the same idea. He has always urged the EU not to allow Russia to build stronger relations with those countries where it feels like “the boss of the show.”

We are seeing attempts by the US, the EU and NATO to impose their hegemony on others, not only in the Balkans but also in the rest of the world –virtually everywhere else. I am convinced that most of the countries around the world realise that this is the path to a deadlock. It will eventually be necessary to find a way out. There are not too many countries in Europe that can consider themselves sovereign and independent. Those that refuse to join the sanctions in favour of other states to protect their own national interest are fully entitled to be called independent regardless of their size.

Question: Did Russia envision such isolation and military losses, things we rarely hear precise information about?

Sergey Lavrov: The sanctions against Russia have never stopped. In Soviet times, we lived under the sanctions of the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCom). Under this, the West did all it could to prevent the purchase and supply of high-tech equipment. The Jackson-Vanik amendment existed for many years. It was repealed to allow us to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) because the United States and other countries were interested in this. It was instantly replaced by the Magnitsky Act that continued the tradition of pressuring the Russian Federation through sanctions. These sanctions were valid until 2014.

A coup took place in Kiev in 2014 contrary to the guarantees of the EU and with Washington’s direct support. Now there is no longer any doubt about it. The coup evoked indignation in both Crimea and in the east of Ukraine. The Crimeans held a referendum to return to Russia, protecting themselves against the armed militants that were bound for Crimea. The people in eastern Ukraine also proclaimed the creation of republics that refused to accept the anti-constitutional government coup. At that time, the Russian Federation was again blamed for everything. The West was disappointed that its plan to finally use Ukraine for its anti-Russia needs fell through.

The introduced sanctions simply reflected the West’s irritation. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has said more than once that since then the EU and the US have imposed sanctions on us almost every month, at least two or three times a year. I think it is always easy to find an excuse. The goal of the sanctions is not to resolve some specific problem but to curb Russia’s strategic and geopolitical development. We know that the West is good at finding excuses.

The surge in unprecedented Neanderthal-like Russophobia that has come to life in almost all Western countries whose leaders are vigorously encouraging and cultivating it was something that struck me particularly in the circumstances at hand. I’m aware that there are reasonable people in the EU who understand the danger of inciting this kind of Russophobia. They are issuing reminders to the effect that Europe saw a similar attitude towards a certain ethnicity over 80 years ago and they know how it ended. This obsession with regard to how they see everything Russian, be it culture, art, education, or Russian citizens (as soon as they start speaking their language in many European countries), has taken over almost all European countries. This struck me, because it revealed the Neanderthal entrails of Russophobia. It appears to have been brewing for a long time now. It’s impossible to bring to life a sentiment like that in just one day. So it was carefully hidden. We will make corresponding conclusions.

Isolation doesn’t exist and is brought up exclusively by those who, mentally and ideologically, have resigned themselves to the inevitability of a Western dictatorship on the global stage. This dictatorship is supported primarily by the West itself which is loath to lose its positions. The West has been the world’s dominant player for over 500 years now. A different era – the forming of a multipolar international order – is now here. The global economic development hubs pursuing a nationally oriented policy have risen, and they do not want to accept the impersonal neoliberal values ​​imposed by the West on the world. They want to be grounded in their history, traditions and values, including religious values. By and large, they are common to all world religions.

Russia has many partners in the Asia-Pacific region, Asia, Africa and Latin America. We have good relations with the vast majority of organisations created by the developing countries, including the African Union, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and many others. As you are aware, organisations with the participation of the Russian Federation have been created and are successfully functioning in Eurasia which is a critically important, strategically developing region: the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. In cooperation with ASEAN, these organisations are vigorously promoting interaction among them and developing a network of cooperation projects in conjunction with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, among others. We are building the Greater Eurasian Partnership. Our relations with China are at their all-time best. Russia has a particularly privileged strategic partnership with India. We have ties with the majority of the Middle Eastern, Latin American and African countries.

The West is trying to showcase the so-called “isolation” in which the Russian Federation allegedly found itself by presenting the mathematical results of the UN vote. We are aware of how they get these results and the kind of shameless blackmail the developing countries are subjected to, and personal threats against the representatives of these countries at the UN or other organisations. For us, this means only one thing: the United States and the Western countries that are playing along with this crude and undisguised blackmail are themselves afraid of being isolated. If they are that confident in their ideals and values that can win their way to the hearts and minds of all people around the world, then let them state their position and allow the countries to make a choice. These countries are aware of the position adopted by the West, Russia, China and other major global players. Let them choose freely without any pressure.

During his recent visit to Europe, US President Joseph Biden said that we were entering an era of long confrontation between democracy and autocracy. Look at how the modern West is functioning, look at the countries that have declared themselves a model of democracy. The United States has subdued the entire Europe. It is leading not only NATO but actually also the EU, using its infrastructure and potential for strengthening US military and political positions in the Old World. As for democracies and autocracies, this “community of democracies” represented by the US, NATO and the EU has become an integral whole (under US command). It is an overt autocracy if not a dictatorship as regards other members of the international community.

Our Western colleagues have urged us and other countries for many years to ensure the supremacy of law and democracy in the US interpretation. But whenever we suggested discussing democracy in the world arena, they were against it – there can be no democracy in the world arena. The Westerners have even cancelled the very term “international law” that implied respect for the principles of the UN Charter, primarily, the principle of the sovereign equality of states. Our Western colleagues did not give a damn (excuse me for this expression) about the sovereign equality of states or international law, generally speaking. They no longer use the latter term. They are saying now that all countries must follow the laws of a rules-based order. The rules mean only one thing – they are established by the West. Everyone else must obey. This is a typical example of autocracy and dictatorship that uses an ultimatum.

We don’t feel isolated. Isolation is the lot of those who couldn’t imagine their life without so-called “Western values” and without the welcoming embrace or at least a more or less warm reception in the West. Meanwhile, there are much more important things in life. They are a loadstar for the overwhelming majority of states and civilisations on this planet.

It is necessary to respect each other rather than impose one’s pseudo values in an aggressive manner. These have only existed for a short time. They appeared with the development of neo-liberalism and are used to discontinue millennia-old cultures and civilisations. This path is a dead-end. These attempts will continue for a while, but they are doomed in the historical perspective. Strategically, this policy will find itself in complete isolation.

Question: I know Russia now has more important things to worry about, but “everyone is out for himself.” Now Serbia has to harmonise its foreign policy. It has not introduced sanctions against Russia. For us Russia is the most important foreign policy partner when it comes to upholding our sovereignty in international organisations. How do you visualise Serbia’s possible political prevarication between the two geopolitical poles, and does this phenomenon have time limits?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s not up to us to be responsible for decisions made by Serbia, the Serbian leadership or the Serbian people. We are fraternal nations. We are united by common history and victories against common enemies. We feel how deeply these feelings are rooted in the soul of the Serbian people, in their historical memory. And now we are seeing this. We never impose anything by force. The West is trying to impose on Serbia its own policy and interests by force of economic pressure, threats, blackmail and ultimatums. It is telling Serbia that it must oppose Russia if it wants to join the EU. This is unseemly. This is not how one should behave in society, at home, with friends or in the world arena. This is an example of their policy of arm-twisting. President Aleksandar Vucic has mentioned this more than once. He said honestly that Serbia is a small country but it has its own pride and its own interests. Attempts are being made now to simply forget these interests and turn you into an instrument of Western policy. This is what happened with North Macedonia and Montenegro. This is what the West is now trying to do with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We have deep respect for the Serbian people, its commitment to its traditions, history and its historical friends. I am convinced that the Serbian people will continue making wise decisions in any situation, based on their fundamental interests.

Question: Is President Vladimir Putin ready to sit down at the negotiating table with President Vladimir Zelensky?

Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin has commented on this topic many times. He raised this subject yet again not that long ago when answering questions by his foreign colleagues with whom he maintains regular dialogue, including on the situation in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin said that he has never refused to meet with President Vladimir Zelensky. It is just that he believes in the importance of making sure that these meetings are well prepared. Considering the current crisis situation in Ukraine, its internal conflict which has been building up over all these years and the multiple challenges, simply arranging a meeting to discuss what one thinks and what the other thinks does not cut it. In fact, it would be counterproductive. When Ukraine suggested talks after we launched our special military operation, we agreed. These talks carried on and are ongoing. They will resume today or tomorrow in person in Istanbul after a series of videoconferences. The outcome we seek must deliver on our principled objective of stopping the killing of civilians in Donbass which has been going on for eight long years. The Western community has remained silent despite all its progressivism and has not issued even a single comment to condemn what was going on, even though everyone saw the shelling of civilian infrastructure in Donbass: hospitals, kindergartens, clinics and residential housing. Civilians were dying by the thousands. Still, the “enlightened” West remained silent. All it did was call for fulfilling the Minsk agreements. When Kiev refused, the West started saying that it was up to Russia to fulfil them. This is sheer mockery in terms of common sense, international law, human rights, you name it.

When negotiating with Ukraine, it is our duty to ensure that the people of Donbass never suffer from the Kiev regime again, while the West and NATO stop their military build-up in Ukraine, which creates physical, military threats to the Russian Federation. Ukraine must cease being subject to a constant militarisation effort and attempts to deploy strike capabilities there to threaten the Russian Federation. Ukraine must also stop encouraging neo-Nazi ideology and practices.

This has happened before, and we know these examples. In fact, they are rooted in Ukrainian law. Let me mention the discriminatory laws which run counter to the Ukrainian Constitution and all international commitments. These laws prohibit the Russian language in education and the media. Ukraine has recently adopted laws banning the Russian language from everyday life. Demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine constitute an indispensable component of the agreements we are seeking to conclude. I hope that Ukraine understands that the developments which have been running rampant there since the country’s independence are extremely toxic. This includes honouring the memory of Shukhevich and Bandera, who were Nazi criminals. The “decommunisation” drive includes demolishing monuments to the great people who liberated Ukraine from the Nazis. Western instructors helped train “nationalist” battalions whose members not only wore Nazi symbols but practiced Nazi methods of war. Seeing how Ukrainian Nazis from the Azov and Aidar battalions treat Russian prisoners of war should have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s for you. We will need to arrange this meeting once a solution regarding all these key matters comes into reach.

For many years, we sought to raise awareness on these issues. The West remained impervious to our efforts, but they have heard us now. This is already something. What matters the most right now is to stop indulging the Ukrainians who want to use talks and solutions as a smokescreen. They have succeeded in this posture when they derailed the Minsk agreements immediately after signing them in February 2015. In the end, they said that they refused to fulfil them. We know how good they are at pretending to be involved. This time, they will not get away with it. We need to make sure that the talks yield results, and once they do, the Presidents will formalise them.

Question: I have a question about mercenaries in Ukraine. It is a hot subject in Russia, and it is being discussed around the world as well. Hundreds of people from Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina fought on the side of the Islamists in Syria. However, the West did not criticise Pristina or Sarajevo. These people are now willing to fight in Ukraine, and there are also Croatian volunteers there. The Kosovo Albanian authorities and Pristina have supported Kiev. We would like you to comment on this.

Sergey Lavrov: We were among those who for years warned our Western partners about the recruiters of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups working in several Balkan countries. We warned them about the consequences of such connivance for Europe. Statistics show that Pristina is holding the per capita anti-record by the number of militants fighting in Syria and Iraq. But nobody wanted to hear about that. Later our Western colleagues wondered where the cutthroats who staged terrorist attacks and massacres in European cities had come from. Mercenaries will not remain in Ukraine after their inglorious mission ends there. It is perfectly clear that they will move on to European cities, where they will continue their so-called work. You may know that participation in hostilities in foreign states is a punishable offence in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Kosovo Province. Some of those who fought in Syria and Iraq have even been punished upon their return home. But today Europe is acting differently. The policy of double standards has taken priority when it comes to Ukraine. The West has banked on it to contain Russia. It would use any means to achieve this end.

We don’t see any reaction to this. We have been trying to draw the attention of our Western partners and colleagues from other countries and parts of the world to the Ukrainian embassies’ activities to recruit mercenaries for Ukraine on their websites, which is a blatant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and is discrediting the status of a diplomatic office. Some of these mercenaries have made statements on the social media and have appeared on several television networks. It is obvious that they are not volunteers. They are fighting for money. Therefore, they do not have the right to the status of combatant or prisoner of war under international humanitarian law. They are not entitled to protection.

As for Pristina’s support for Kiev, the matter is clear. Kosovo, which is a criminal self-proclaimed quasi-state, does not care for international law. It only wants to take advantage of the situation to win recognition for its pseudo-independence and is posing as just about the main ally of the United States and NATO in the Balkans.

Our attitude to this is well known. We warned about the inadmissibility of pandering to Pristina’s unacceptable actions, and we have always called for settling the Kosovo issue in strict compliance with UN Security Resolution 1244. When the UN General Assembly gave the European Union the mandate to facilitate dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade in 2010, this raised our hopes. In 2013, the EU convinced Pristina and Belgrade to sign an agreement on the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo. It guaranteed the Serbs’ language and cultural rights, as well as their rights in local governments and their special relations with Serbia. However, the Community has not been established. When we remind our Western colleagues about this, they are embarrassed and say that “the matter is still on the table” and that efforts should continue to be taken to implement the decision. I believe that the EU has discredited itself as the guarantor of any agreements.

In February 2014, the EU guaranteed the agreement on a settlement in Ukraine between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. When the opposition overturned the agreements the following morning, the EU said nothing and only cited certain democratic processes.

In 2015, France and Germany signed, together with us, a document that is known now as the Minsk agreements. During the subsequent years, Kiev did nothing to implement that document. It said openly that it would not do it.

[Prime Minister of Kosovo] Albin Kurti has said that he would not implement the agreements on the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo.

The EU, which guaranteed the implementation of all of the above documents, has failed completely. I am sure that it will not do anything to force Pristina to implement the documents co-signed by Europe. The EU and the United States will not place any pressure on Pristina on the issue of mercenaries. The United States is feeling just fine. It used the situation to establish Camp Bondsteel, the largest military base in the Balkans. Pristina has not questioned the need to keep that base and has instead indicated its interest in keeping it. I believe that Pristina will be forgiven for anything it does and will be allowed to do anything it wants.

Question: The ultimate goal of your special operation is not quite clear. Originally it was stated as denazification and protection of the people of Donbass. Today, it seems, at least from abroad, that this is not the only goal being pursued by Russia. Many Russians cannot say what these goals are. Some of them are unable to agree with the rationale for this conflict.

Sergey Lavrov: Each person has the right to choose and define his or her position with regard to some or other events that take place in their own country or in other states.

As for our aims, they are certainly about removing the threats that over these long eight years have caused thousands of deaths and the destruction of civilian facilities in Ukraine – schools, hospitals, plants, factories, etc. This is what the Ukrainian regime has been doing against the population of Donbass with the West’s tacit approval. If today the West is suddenly concerned about the need to respect international humanitarian law and save people’s lives, I will only welcome it, but they should act in such a way as to see the causes and roots of the situation we are facing now.

The root cause of the matter is that an effort was launched to transform Ukraine into an anti-Russia immediately after its independence, its withdrawal from the USSR. You can see it for yourself if you look at the Kiev regime’s lawmaking: its laws in effect ban the use of the Russian language and encourage the development of openly Nazi organisations.

The Nazi ideology and practices have deep roots in Ukrainian society. Officers from the “national volunteer battalions” have permeated Ukraine’s army and armed forces; they publicly preach Nazi ideas, calling on others to follow the behests of Adolf Eichmann, a person notorious for his role in Europe during the Nazi rule.   Even their symbols and tattoos reproduce the swastikas and emblems of the Nazi SS battalions.  If we want to abide by the European values, I do not think they can include this sort of ideology and practices. Europe must put an end to this, if it does not want to find itself once again in a situation where it will be inundated by this “wave,” be it brown or of any other colour that the neo-Nazis favour.

The whole thing is much more serious than just solving a single problem.  Russia cannot accept NATO’s plan to turn Ukraine into its outpost chock-full of offensive arms aimed at our territory. We cannot accept the West’s effort to encourage the eradication of all things Russian in Ukraine (language, culture, etc.). Where were our Western colleagues when Kiev banned the Russian media, TV channels, and not only printed matter but also books published in Russia? They shut down three Russian-language TV channels owned by Ukrainian citizens.

You have mentioned the fact that some Russian citizens cannot accept what is happening today and express their concern. But others – journalists, cultural figures, artists, and athletes – do not voice anything and just do their job. Ukraine puts hundreds of them on sanctions lists.  Yesterday, the Ukrainian regime blacklisted another 46 Russian cultural figures, artists, athletes and journalists. And everyone believes that this is normal. Being Russian in Europe today means running a tremendous risk of violence. There have already been such cases.

Our task is to ensure long-term security in Europe. This cannot be done without cutting off attempts to draw Ukraine into NATO, or without agreeing on security guarantees that will take into account the interests of Russia, Ukraine and European countries. We were confident of this when we tried (unfortunately, to no avail) to start a serious conversation with the United States and NATO in 2021 about providing security guarantees, including for Ukraine, without expanding the North Atlantic Alliance. Nobody would listen.

We have heard repeated promises that NATO would not continue to expand. For example, when it came to the unification of Germany, then the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist. They just lied to our face. When we reminded them about those promises, they said they had never made any. Later on, when we presented proof, they said, well, there might have been some verbal agreement – meaning they just said things to “calm us down,” because they had more important concerns – to ensure that the Soviet Union would “shut down” without any “consequences” for Europe.

When they decided everything had “calmed down,” it was time to get moving. Now they are saying we “should not be afraid” because “NATO is a defensive alliance.” So it was when it was created. But they continued to explain, “NATO is protecting its territory.” We knew where their territory was when there was the Berlin Wall – both concrete and imaginary – between the North Atlantic Alliance and the Warsaw Pact. But when the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, NATO suddenly thought it wanted to “protect the territory” further east. Then it moved a little more to the east, and so on. What kind of defensive alliance is it that draws its own line of defence? Moreover, it keeps adding countries that no one was ever going to attack – actually, no one had ever even thought of threatening these countries.

Jens Stoltenberg (the Norwegian Central Bank is unlikely to have him back any time soon, as the Alliance has extended his term) declares that NATO should take responsibility for global security. This is where the line of defence is, and where democracy turns into autocracy and dictatorship. He says the alliance needs to increase its role in the vast Indo-Pacific region – that’s what they call the Asia-Pacific region, a direct allusion to the South China Sea. This is where their line of defence will be now.

We want NATO to return to sanity. We have reason to believe that Russia’s most serious concerns, having to do with our fundamental, legitimate interests, have finally been heard. They begin to understand now. If this is so, they will try to influence the Kiev regime, which listens to them, and in fact does everything the West tells them to. I hope that the Ukrainian negotiators will show a constructive approach, and at some stage, we will be able to achieve the desired result.

My colleague, UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss has actually confirmed with fantastic, amazing, naive frankness that those negotiators, like the Kiev regime itself, are not acting independently. She actually said they were assisting the Ukrainians in working out their negotiating position. Indeed, who knows the situation in our common region better than London? She went on to say they needed to continue to use the “hard lever” on Russia and “to double down on sanctions.” And when negotiations begin, the UK should be the country that will provide the necessary solutions. An amazing “revelation.” No need to comment.

I can see there are chances to reach an agreement. There is an understanding of the grossest mistakes our Western partners have been making for years. Although, for obvious reasons, they would hardly say this out loud.

Question: What do you think, wouldn’t Belgrade be a perfect place for the negotiations?

Sergey Lavrov: I believe Belgrade is a great city in terms of its position and status. It is quite suitable for talks at any level.

The venue for the negotiations must be acceptable to both teams. Three rounds of in-person talks were held in Belarus, followed by a break due to technical reasons. It was difficult to meet directly; therefore, we held several videoconferences. Now we have agreed to meet in Istanbul. It is a point on the map where both parties were able to arrive. We are ready to consider other locations, including Belgrade.

Question: These days Serbian people remember NATO bombings and many say that the reasoning President Vladimir Putin used to “attack” Ukraine is identical to the reasoning the alliance used in its aggression against Yugoslavia. What is your response to these claims?

Sergey Lavrov: Our Western colleagues are known for twisting facts without batting an eye or as much as a blush. They always want to justify their stance and demands by distorting the real picture.

We have already spoken about the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, when the settlement guarantees provided by the EU were trampled to pieces. The neo-Nazis who came to power immediately afterwards demanded revoking the status of the Russian language in Ukraine, getting out of Crimea, and sent combat units to Crimea to storm the Supreme Council. Only then did the Crimean people revolt against such attacks and held a referendum. Now, reviewing that period, the West starts its story not with the failure of the European Union, whose signature, apparently, meant nothing to the opposition that staged the coup, and not with the attacks on the Russian language and Russians committed by the putschists that came to power. The West begins the timeline of those events with what it calls an “annexation” of Crimea. The truth is it was not an annexation but a free expression of will that took place as a result of the coup staged with the support from the West. However, the West has crossed out those several weeks leading up to the referendum in Crimea, from history. They say Crimea was “annexed,” hence the sanctions, when in fact, they wanted to punish Russia for their own failures and inability to keep their promises.

For them, the timeline of everything that is happening in Ukraine right now begins on February 24, 2022, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a special military operation. The years of abuse targeting Russians, the Russian language and culture in Ukraine, ignoring Russia’s appeals to NATO and the United States about the fact that further “exploration” of the territories bordering the Russian Federation is unacceptable, direct calls to prevent Ukraine’s accession to NATO and to stop pumping Ukraine with weapons, building naval bases and, as it now turns out, biological warfare laboratories – nobody is talking about that. They claim that Russia started the operation against the Ukrainian state for no reason at all. What about the fact that the Ukrainian state could not care less about the Minsk agreements for eight years, bombing cities, towns and killing civilians? All this is now behind the line from which the West now marks off its angry and principled positioning.

I heard that President Vladimir Zelensky gave an interview to several Russian media outlets and, when asked about the biological warfare labs, he said it was all a lie and they did not exist. If the West is ready to buy into this kind of commentaries it means that our own experience with the modern Western politics will only be reaffirmed. There are multiple pages of documents that we submitted to the UN Security Council and President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky claims they are a lie.

To be continued…

Sitrep: How Russia slew the US Dollar

March 24, 2022

By Godfree Roberts – an early extract from his weekly Here Comes China newsletter and posted with permission

WILL RUSSIA DESTROY THE US DOLLAR?

Farewell to Inordinate Privilege

Earlier this week, Russia announced that countries on its Unfriendly Nations list must pay in roubles for its gas. Within hours, the rouble regained its pre-embargo value on international markets.

De facto, the rouble also established itself as a reserve currency in the EU, as is the petrodollar in the Middle East. Having renounced coal and nuclear power, Europe left itself with no alternative to Russian gas.

But wait, there’s more on the currency front: next week, Russia and China will offer frictionless access to the world’s largest market, via cheap, secure, trackable, instantaneous transactions that are free of government manipulation, currency fluctuations, embargoes, and sanctions.

Here’s the backstory: after helping America out of the GFC, PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan observed, “The world needs an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and able to remain stable in the long run, removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.”

Zhou proposed SDRs, Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic reserve currency dynamically revalued against a basket of trading currencies and commodities. Broad, deep, stable, and impossible to manipulate.

Nobelists Fred Bergsten, Robert Mundell, and Joseph Stieglitz approved: “The creation of a global currency would restore a needed coherence to the international monetary system, give the IMF a function that would help it to promote stability and be a catalyst for international harmony”.

Dr. Putin and Mr Xi wasted no time.

 d

2012: Beijing and Moscow began valuing their currencies against an international currency/commodity basket.

2014: The IMF issued the first SDR loan

2016: The World Bank issued the first SDR bond

2017: Standard Chartered Bank issued the first commercial SDR notes.

2019: All central banks began stating currency reserves in SDRs

Mar. 14, 2022: “On April 1, China and the Eurasian Economic Union – Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan – will reveal an independent international monetary and financial system. It will be based on a new international currency, calculated from an index of national currencies of the participating countries and international commodity prices”.

SDRs are inspired by John Maynard Keynes’ invention of a synthetic currency that derives its value from a vast, global, publicly traded basket of currencies and commodities. Utterly resistant to manipulation it is as stable as the Pyramids.

SDRs pose an attractive alternative to the toxic US dollar for the EAEU, 143 BRI member states, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), ASEAN, and the RCEP, none of which counts the United States as a member and all of which count Russia as a full or correspondent member.

Adding amusement to this development is the fact that the EAEU, BRI, SCO, ASEAN, and RCEP were already discussing a merger before the Ukraine operation.

I predict a currency mutiny.

—o0o—

Godfree Roberts wrote Why China Leads the World: Talent at the Top, Data in the Middle, Democracy at the Bottom, and publishes the newsletter, Here Comes China.

Here comes China (and they don’t stop!)

March 19, 2022

Source

By Amarynth collaborating with Godfree Roberts’ Newsletter, Here Comes China

Biden / Xi Summit.

In perfect Chinese diplomatic terms, it looks like business as usual. Taken outside of the perfect diplomatic terms, it is a true spanking.

Let’s take one paragraph only and remember a few things first:

Washington, as usual, threatened and danced something like the haka and warned Xi not to support Russia in any way or the consequences would be dire for China. Washington threatened with equally applied sanctions and other dire unmentionables.  Apparently, Washington can support who it wants, but China is in some form prohibited from exactly that.  Hypocritically they want it both ways.  That era is over.

A few hours before the ‘summit’, China had a perfectly normal sail-by through the Taiwan Straits of their aircraft carrier Shandong.  Yes, this is ‘likely routine’ says their spox.  Sure, it was highly likely just routine.  It must have been a wonderful day for the Shandong to take a little sail through the Taiwan Straits.

A few hours before the ‘summit’ Global times had an interview with an unnamed official.  (Is China playing the US game here by not naming the official?).  This is the take-away:  “The international community can fairly judge who is frank and open and who is up to something, who is easing the situation and who is aggravating tension, who is promoting peace talks and who is pouring fuel on the fire, and who is maintaining peace and stability and who is provoking confrontations between blocs.”

Xi Jinping made a pre-summit statement: Countries should not come to the point of meeting on the battlefield. Conflict and confrontation are not in anyone’s interest. Peace and security are what the international community should treasure the most.

So, this is the milieu that Biden walked into at the online summit.  We must know by now what this is all about.  None of the boring line-up of US representatives could bend China to their will to support sanctions against Russia, so, time for a Presidential Summit to yet again attempt to split China and Russia.  This is how perfectly ridiculous this attempt is:  Can you help me fight your friend so that I can concentrate on fighting you later?

Here is how it went:

President Biden expounded on the US position and expressed readiness for communication with China to prevent the situation from exacerbating.

Simply said:  How can we make a deal so that the US/Nato alliance remains a unipolar world and all others must be subservient.

President Xi pointed out that China does not want to see the situation in Ukraine to come to this. China stands for peace and opposes war. This is embedded in China’s history and culture.

Simply said:  Hey Biden, mistake number one!  You do not know who you are talking to, but now I’m going to tell you

  • China makes a conclusion independently based on the merits of each matter.
  • China advocates upholding international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations.
  • China adheres to the UN Charter and promotes the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. These are the major principles that underpin China’s approach to the Ukraine crisis.
  • China has put forward a six-point initiative on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and is ready to provide further humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and other affected countries.
  • All sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace.

Simply stated:  This is the crux of the matter and seemingly you are unable to grasp it!

  • The US and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine.

Message:  Go away and take your position and money with you!  You had your opportunity and you became a warmaker, coercing others to your will.  Enough is enough!  We have principles, law and morals and ethical standards.  You hold on to ‘positions’ favorable to you only.

China is active in the EU as well and the discussion does not remain dry and diplomatically correct. 

China is playing into its strengths, saying what is correct in terms of its own national interest and it happens to co-incide with that of the non-insane world.   The spokespeople are highly educated, clear, exceptionally well-spoken, and smart.   They also mercilessly dig in the knife when opportunity shows.  In a recent press conference:

CCTV: US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that the US is concerned about Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure which caused civilian casualties. However, China has yet to state its position explicitly. How does the foreign ministry view such criticism from other countries on China?

Zhao Lijian: Human lives are precious. Civilian casualties under all circumstances are heart-rending and lamentable. China has all along called for every effort to avoid civilian casualties. We still remember that in March 1999, the US-led NATO, without the Security Council’s mandate, flagrantly unleashed a ruthless bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for 78 days, killing at least 2,500 innocent civilians and injuring around 10,000 people, most of them civilians. Over the past two decades or so, the US conducted tens of thousands of air strikes in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. The number of innocent civilians killed can be anywhere between 22,000 and 48,000. When professing its concern for the welfare of the Ukrainian people, shouldn’t the US first express concern over the civilian casualties caused by all these military operations?

I particularly enjoyed this vignette:

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that any support to Russia, military or any other type of support, would actually help Russia conduct a brutal war against an independent sovereign nation, Ukraine, and help them to continue to wage war which is causing death, suffering and an enormous amount of destruction.

This was the comment of the Chinese spokesperson:

Chinese people can fully relate to the pains and sufferings of other countries because we will never forget who bombed our embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  China does not need a lecture on justice from the abuser of international law. As a Cold War remnant and the world’s largest military alliance, NATO continues to expand its geographical scope and range of operations. What kind of role has it played in world peace and stability? NATO needs to have a good reflection.

Currency

Against this backdrop, the news filtered out about The Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and China designing a new monetary and financial system bypassing the U.S. dollar, supervised by Sergei Glazyev and intended to compete with the Bretton Woods system which is now less than 50% of the currency flow in the world.  While news is still very scarce on this front, it fulfilled the purpose of telling Biden once again to go away if US/NATO cannot be a serious contender to building a peaceful and prosperous world.

Godfree Roberts, in his last newsletter, did an overview of the major historical milestones.  I am not sure if the concept of a special drawing rights fiat currency revaluated regularly against a basket of currencies will be the way this rolls out.  Stand by!  Much more incoming!  We will see.

DOLLAR’S END – Farewell, Inordinate Privilege

  • Credit Suisse analyst Zoltan Pozsar says Ukraine triggered a perfect storm in commodities that could weaken the Eurodollar system, contribute to inflation in Western economies, and threaten their financial stability. Pozsar said China’s central bank is uniquely placed to backstop such crisis, paving the way for a much stronger yuan. Reuters, Mar. 13, 2022.
  • Saudi Arabia Considers Accepting Yuan Instead of Dollars for Chinese Oil Sales: Talks between Riyadh and Beijing have accelerated as the Saudi unhappiness grows with Washington. WSJ, Mar. 14, 2022

–o0o–

In 2009, after helping to rescue the US from the GFC, Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the Peoples Bank of China, said, “The world needs an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and able to remain stable in the long run, removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.”

After helping rescue America from the GFC, PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan observed, “The world needs an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and able to remain stable in the long run, removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.”

Zhou proposed SDRs, Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic reserve currency dynamically revalued against a basket of trading currencies and commodities. Broad, deep, stable, and impossible to manipulate. Nobelists Fred Bergsten, Robert Mundell, and Joseph Stieglitz approved: “The creation of a global currency would restore a needed coherence to the international monetary system, give the IMF a function that would help it to promote stability and be a catalyst for international harmony”.  Here’s what’s happened since:

2012: Beijing began valuing the yuan against a currency/commodity basket

2014: The IMF issued the first SDR loan

2016: The World Bank issued the first SDR bond

2017: Standard Chartered Bank issued the first commercial SDR notes.

2019: All central banks began stating currency reserves in SDRs

Mar. 14, 2022: “In two weeks, China and the Eurasian Economic Union – Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan – will reveal an independent international monetary and financial system. It will be based on a new international currency, calculated from an index of national currencies of the participating countries and international commodity prices”.

The currency resembles Keynes’ invention Special Drawing Rights.SDRs are a  synthetic currency which derives its value from a global, publicly traded basket of currencies and commodities. Immense beyond imaging, and stable as the Pyramids. Everyone gets a seat at the table and a vote. It may eventually be administered by an arm of the UN.

SDRs pose a serious alternative to the US dollar, both for the EAEU, the BRI’s 145 member states, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), ASEAN, and the RCEP. Middle East countries, including Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, are keenly interested.

Less well known is that the EAEU, the BRI, the SCO, ASEAN, and the RCEP were discussing a merger before the currency news hit.

It is reasonable to expect them to join this new, cooperatively managed, stable reserve currency regime in which they can settle their trades in stable, neutral, predictable SDRs.

Biological labs

China is not losing any opportunity to bring this front and center.  This is their last list of questions:

  • If the concerns are “disinformation”, why doesn’t the U.S. release detailed materials to prove its innocence? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • What did the U.S. spend the $200 million on? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • What kind of research has the U.S. conducted on which pathogens? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • What is it trying to hide when the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine deleted all relevant documents on its website? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • Why does the U.S. insist on being the only country in the world to oppose the establishment of a multilateral verification mechanism though it claims to abide by the Biological Weapons Convention? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • This is quite an amazing poster detailing the biolab web, which is too large to load here.  But take a look at the depiction of these US biolabs.  https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202203/1255055.shtml

Economic goals in a nutshell

What is happening with Belt and Road?  About the data: On January 21, 2022, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) released its data for “China’s investments and cooperation in countries along the Belt and Road” covering the period of January to December 2021. According to these data, Chinese enterprises invested about US$20.3 billion in non-financial direct investments in countries “along the Belt and Road”. Furthermore, there were 560 newly signed projects with a contract value of over US$100 million. The MOFCOM data focus on 55 countries that are “along the Belt and Road” – meaning on a corridor from China to Europe including South Asia. For this report, the definition of BRI countries includes 142 countries that had signed a cooperation agreement with China to work under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative by the end of 2021. To analyze investments in these countries, we base our data on the China Global Investment Tracker and our own data research at the Green Finance & Development Center affiliated with Fudan University, Shanghai. As with most data, they tend to be imperfect.

Chinese joke

On a somewhat of a lighter note:  The Chinese Netizens are in the majority siding with Russia so completely and so enthusiastically, that China’s WeChat and Douyin had to crack down on vulgar jokes and netizens were told in no uncertain terms that they cannot make fun of international news events.  The very high support for Russia is becoming a clear talking point despite the somewhat muted and correct Chinese diplomatic statements.

So, here is a joke for you.

Bear and Dragon take a walk in the gardens.  Bear is a little overcome with his serious responsibilities in the world and presents emotionally somewhat tired and despondent.  As the walk proceeds, Dragon says to Bear .. Out with it!  What has you so despondent?  Bear thinks a moment and says:  We’ve been friends for a long time.  So, if I need a very large amount of money very quickly, will you give it to me?

Dragon, known for taking time to ponder the imponderables, walks on for a while and then comes to a firm stop.  NO, says Dragon, I will not give it to you!

Bear’s shoulders fall .. but Dragon continues:  I will lend it to you.  1.5 trillion the moment you ask for it, no interest, no repayment terms, pay me back when you can.

Rules for the World

February 07, 2022

Source

BACKGROUND

On February 4, 2022, on the occasion of the opening of the XXIV Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, the presidents of China and Russia issued a document entitled:

Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development

This document sets a new level in the cooperation between the two countries in foreign policy and is their exposition of a common viewpoint for setting out the rules that the world should follow in politics among nations. A key section up front contains the following: “The sides call on all States…to protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order, seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role….”

The reliance on the United Nations (UN) as the major guiding rulemaker is an important point. A major question concerning this reliance is the extent to which the design of the UN matches the current reality of the world distribution of wealth and power. The UN was set up in 1945 according to a design that reflected the post-WWII distribution of economic output and advanced weapon systems. Overall, it was based on the outcome of that war, with the winners getting the spoils and the losers getting the left-overs. After some seventy-seven years, the situation has radically changed. According to the CIA Fact Book, China now has a larger economy than the US, India is independent and has the third largest economy, and India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea have become nuclear powers. Japan and Germany each have larger populations and economies than either Britain or France. And yet, the permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto rights are the same nations that were made members in 1945. This is not a recipe for sustainable development of UN-based rules for a peaceable world.

Of course, there have been many calls for reform of the UN ever since it was founded. A quick search for “reform of the united nations” turns up a cornucopia of websites dealing with the topic. Everything from Wikipedia, various think-tanks, to the United Nations University has articles on the subject. They point out in great detail the many reforms proposed and the far fewer reforms completed over the seventy-seven years. All of them, however, tend to point out the immense difficulty in getting any agreement on any changes to the Security Council.

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL ACTIONS

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) regularly concerns itself with various controversies around the world and adopts measures intended to ameliorate difficult situations. However, there appears to be a lack of foresight in considering how the measures might be lifted when no longer needed or appropriate. For example, the UNSC placed sanctions on North Korea over the nuclear proliferation issue, but now Russia and China would like to have the sanctions lifted, but this is blocked by the United States (US). The UNSC also placed sanctions on Iran, some of which have now expired, but which seemed mostly to support the US interests. With the benefit of hindsight, it would appear that Russia and China may have done better simply to have informal agreements with the other permanent members of the UNSC to institute sanctions and other measures when useful, thus leaving the two countries free to change tactics when the measures were no longer useful from their viewpoint. This is especially true since both Russia and China are claiming to uphold the UN as the proper international body for making rules and would suffer great loss of face if they broke one of the UN rules. The same is not true for the US since it is quite adept at following the “international rules-based order” that it conveniently makes up as it goes along. The US claims to follow a higher order that is based on democracy and humanitarian issues. Perhaps Russia and China knew what they were doing at the time, but it would be helpful to have an expert analysis of how they plan to avoid being trapped like this in the future.

UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION

Permanent membership in the Security Council is a bone of contention that will likely get worse as the years go by since some major countries are excluded, while some less prominent countries are included. If China can be a member, then it will be more and more difficult to explain why India is not a member. If Russia is a member, it still will be a question as to why Japan is not. Having permanent members confined to the countries on the winning side in WWII will not be an adequate answer three-quarters of a century later and in light of all the changes that have transpired since the war. If Britain and France are members, why not Germany and Brazil? Is the criteria the possession of nuclear weapons, or the size of the economy, or the land area, or the population? Now that India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea have nuclear weapons, should they become permanent members? Russia and China are again in an awkward position claiming the UN as the organizing force in the world, when the UN is obviously not structured to match the actual makeup of the world. In addition, the UN headquarters was located in the US, reportedly because that was an inducement for the US to join the organization. The fact that New York was undamaged by WWII and transportation was by steamship made it a logical choice at the time. Now, however, travel is by air and there are many locations with good facilities and transport options. In addition, the US places travel restrictions on diplomats trying to attend UN meetings in New York, and the UN employees also are subject to US rules. Consequently, it would appear that a proper world management organization should be located in a small neutral country that possesses modern facilities and means of communication, and excellent air travel options to all other countries. Another example of stress is the continuing issue of the Palestinians and the votes in the UN General Assembly on this topic. The votes overwhelmingly go against the US position and yet next to nothing seems to ever be done. There is no doubt that “safety in numbers” is a factor here—the US cannot sanction nearly 200 countries because they vote the “wrong way” at the same time. In any event, the current UN setup is likely to experience continuing severe stress and instability in the coming years, unless these issues and likely others are addressed. Some solutions could be helpful here also, since it bears directly on the Russian and Chinese positions concerning who makes the rules for the world.

INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Another factor that China and Russia need to address is the question of independence, neutrality, and impartiality of the various international organizations that promote and enforce international rules. Several news reports and allegations have arisen concerning the activities of three such organizations: Interpol, OPCW, and IAEA. Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization) is the subject of controversy because a general from the UAE was just selected as President despite vigorous opposition due to his qualifications and background. The OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) is in the news with complaints over its investigations of chemical weapons in Syria. Whistleblowers have come forth with damaging accusations about the organization’s activities and its alleged bias. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) is in a difficult position in checking up on Iran’s nuclear activities while not being able to check up on other West Asian countries’ nuclear activities. The Director just called for a change in the rules so that the IAEA could check up on Israel’s nuclear activities. Many analysts suggest that there exists an undue influence on these organizations by the US, which prevents them from impartial operation. Consequently, if the world is to move forward in a rules-based order using rules made by the UN and the affiliated international organizations, then China and Russia will need to exert more effort to ensure impartiality and more universal coverage of said rules. This issue also applies to “international law” as it appears in court cases such as at the International Criminal Court (ICC), and in the various treaties such as the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This is especially pertinent now that the US has announced that it will move from containment of China to competition with China. The competition appears to be focused on the US and its allies in the West attempting to have more influence over the system of international rules than China. The European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy essentially admitted that basis for competition when he stated in essence: He who sets the standards, rules the world.

REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

The Joint Statement places a lot of emphasis on the various regional organizations that China and/or Russia belong to. There is a favorable reference to the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China, & South Africa (BRICS), although political changes in the constituent countries have made it less coherent. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is Asian-based, as are several others, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The document contains many proposals for widening the involvement of these organizations in the many pressing issues confronting Asia. A reading between the lines suggests that China and Russia plan to go ahead with getting a more robust set of rules for Asia, even if there is less prospect currently for agreements on world-wide rules.

CONCLUSION

China and Russia have issued a very long and very detailed statement of their goals for the future. They specifically mention many international organizations and agreements, and provide concrete details about what they support and what they would like changed. It is much more than a listing of political pious platitudes. Nevertheless, it reads in large part like a political campaign statement for their domestic audiences and marching orders for their officials and bureaucrats. It is, therefore, likely to be disappointing to those analysts who had perhaps expected something more concerning rules for the world. The statements about relying on the UN and international law are fine as aspirations, but lack any specific proposals as to how to turn sentiment into reality. For the past seventy-seven years, the UN has been under the major influence of the US and international law has been under the influence of the rules-based order designed by the US. The Joint Statement does not directly provide clues about how China and Russia propose to deal with this situation during the next seventy-seven years.

Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development

February 04, 2022

Source

At the invitation of President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir V. Putin visited China on 4 February 2022. The Heads of State held talks in Beijing and took part in the opening ceremony of the XXIV Olympic Winter Games.

The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, hereinafter referred to as the sides, state as follows.

Today, the world is going through momentous changes, and humanity is entering a new era of rapid development and profound transformation. It sees the development of such processes and phenomena as multipolarity, economic globalization, the advent of information society, cultural diversity, transformation of the global governance architecture and world order; there is increasing interrelation and interdependence between the States; a trend has emerged towards redistribution of power in the world; and the international community is showing a growing demand for the leadership aiming at peaceful and gradual development. At the same time, as the pandemic of the new coronavirus infection continues, the international and regional security situation is complicating and the number of global challenges and threats is growing from day to day. Some actors representing but the minority on the international scale continue to advocate unilateral approaches to addressing international issues and resort to force; they interfere in the internal affairs of other states, infringing their legitimate rights and interests, and incite contradictions, differences and confrontation, thus hampering the development and progress of mankind, against the opposition from the international community.

The sides call on all States to pursue well-being for all and, with these ends, to build dialogue and mutual trust, strengthen mutual understanding, champion such universal human values as peace, development, equality, justice, democracy and freedom, respect the rights of peoples to independently determine the development paths of their countries and the sovereignty and the security and development interests of States, to protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order, seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role, promote more democratic international relations, and ensure peace, stability and sustainable development across the world.

I

The sides share the understanding that democracy is a universal human value, rather than a privilege of a limited number of States, and that its promotion and protection is a common responsibility of the entire world community.

The sides believe that democracy is a means of citizens’ participation in the government of their country with the view to improving the well-being of population and implementing the principle of popular government. Democracy is exercised in all spheres of public life as part of a nation-wide process and reflects the interests of all the people, its will, guarantees its rights, meets its needs and protects its interests. There is no one-size-fits-all template to guide countries in establishing democracy. A nation can choose such forms and methods of implementing democracy that would best suit its particular state, based on its social and political system, its historical background, traditions and unique cultural characteristics. It is only up to the people of the country to decide whether their State is a democratic one.

The sides note that Russia and China as world powers with rich cultural and historical heritage have long-standing traditions of democracy, which rely on thousand-years of experience of development, broad popular support and consideration of the needs and interests of citizens. Russia and China guarantee their people the right to take part through various means and in various forms in the administration of the State and public life in accordance with the law. The people of both countries are certain of the way they have chosen and respect the democratic systems and traditions of other States.

The sides note that democratic principles are implemented at the global level, as well as in administration of State. Certain States’ attempts to impose their own ”democratic standards“ on other countries, to monopolize the right to assess the level of compliance with democratic criteria, to draw dividing lines based on the grounds of ideology, including by establishing exclusive blocs and alliances of convenience, prove to be nothing but flouting of democracy and go against the spirit and true values of democracy. Such attempts at hegemony pose serious threats to global and regional peace and stability and undermine the stability of the world order.

The sides believe that the advocacy of democracy and human rights must not be used to put pressure on other countries. They oppose the abuse of democratic values and interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states under the pretext of protecting democracy and human rights, and any attempts to incite divisions and confrontation in the world. The sides call on the international community to respect cultural and civilizational diversity and the rights of peoples of different countries to self-determination. They stand ready to work together with all the interested partners to promote genuine democracy.

The sides note that the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights set noble goals in the area of universal human rights, set forth fundamental principles, which all the States must comply with and observe in deeds. At the same time, as every nation has its own unique national features, history, culture, social system and level of social and economic development, universal nature of human rights should be seen through the prism of the real situation in every particular country, and human rights should be protected in accordance with the specific situation in each country and the needs of its population. Promotion and protection of human rights is a shared responsibility of the international community. The states should equally prioritize all categories of human rights and promote them in a systemic manner. The international human rights cooperation should be carried out as a dialogue between the equals involving all countries. All States must have equal access to the right to development. Interaction and cooperation on human rights matters should be based on the principle of equality of all countries and mutual respect for the sake of strengthening the international human rights architecture.

II

The sides believe that peace, development and cooperation lie at the core of the modern international system. Development is a key driver in ensuring the prosperity of the nations. The ongoing pandemic of the new coronavirus infection poses a serious challenge to the fulfilment of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is vital to enhance partnership relations for the sake of global development and make sure that the new stage of global development is defined by balance, harmony and inclusiveness.

The sides are seeking to advance their work to link the development plans for the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative with a view to intensifying practical cooperation between the EAEU and China in various areas and promoting greater interconnectedness between the Asia Pacific and Eurasian regions. The sides reaffirm their focus on building the Greater Eurasian Partnership in parallel and in coordination with the Belt and Road construction to foster the development of regional associations as well as bilateral and multilateral integration processes for the benefit of the peoples on the Eurasian continent.

The sides agreed to continue consistently intensifying practical cooperation for the sustainable development of the Arctic.

The sides will strengthen cooperation within multilateral mechanisms, including the United Nations, and encourage the international community to prioritize development issues in the global macro-policy coordination. They call on the developed countries to implement in good faith their formal commitments on development assistance, provide more resources to developing countries, address the uneven development of States, work to offset such imbalances within States, and advance global and international development cooperation. The Russian side confirms its readiness to continue working on the China-proposed Global Development Initiative, including participation in the activities of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative under the UN auspices. In order to accelerate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the sides call on the international community to take practical steps in key areas of cooperation such as poverty reduction, food security, vaccines and epidemics control, financing for development, climate change, sustainable development, including green development, industrialization, digital economy, and infrastructure connectivity.

The sides call on the international community to create open, equal, fair and non-discriminatory conditions for scientific and technological development, to step up practical implementation of scientific and technological advances in order to identify new drivers of economic growth.

The sides call upon all countries to strengthen cooperation in sustainable transport, actively build contacts and share knowledge in the construction of transport facilities, including smart transport and sustainable transport, development and use of Arctic routes, as well as to develop other areas to support global post-epidemic recovery.

The sides are taking serious action and making an important contribution to the fight against climate change. Jointly celebrating the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, they reaffirm their commitment to this Convention as well as to the goals, principles and provisions of the Paris Agreement, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The sides work together to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, remain committed to fulfilling the obligations they have undertaken and expect that developed countries will actually ensure the annual provision of $100 billion of climate finance to developing states. The sides oppose setting up new barriers in international trade under the pretext of fighting climate change.

The sides strongly support the development of international cooperation and exchanges in the field of biological diversity, actively participating in the relevant global governance process, and intend to jointly promote the harmonious development of humankind and nature as well as green transformation to ensure sustainable global development.

The Heads of State positively assess the effective interaction between Russia and China in the bilateral and multilateral formats focusing on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, protection of life and health of the population of the two countries and the peoples of the world. They will further increase cooperation in the development and manufacture of vaccines against the new coronavirus infection, as well as medical drugs for its treatment, and enhance collaboration in public health and modern medicine. The sides plan to strengthen coordination on epidemiological measures to ensure strong protection of health, safety and order in contacts between citizens of the two countries. The sides have commended the work of the competent authorities and regions of the two countries on implementing quarantine measures in the border areas and ensuring the stable operation of the border crossing points, and intend to consider establishing a joint mechanism for epidemic control and prevention in the border areas to jointly plan anti-epidemic measures to be taken at the border checkpoints, share information, build infrastructure and improve the efficiency of customs clearance of goods.

The sides emphasize that ascertaining the origin of the new coronavirus infection is a matter of science. Research on this topic must be based on global knowledge, and that requires cooperation among scientists from all over the world. The sides oppose politicization of this issue. The Russian side welcomes the work carried out jointly by China and WHO to identify the source of the new coronavirus infection and supports the China – WHO joint report on the matter. The sides call on the global community to jointly promote a serious scientific approach to the study of the coronavirus origin.

The Russian side supports a successful hosting by the Chinese side of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2022.

The sides highly appreciate the level of bilateral cooperation in sports and the Olympic movement and express their readiness to contribute to its further progressive development.

III

The sides are gravely concerned about serious international security challenges and believe that the fates of all nations are interconnected. No State can or should ensure its own security separately from the security of the rest of the world and at the expense of the security of other States. The international community should actively engage in global governance to ensure universal, comprehensive, indivisible and lasting security.

The sides reaffirm their strong mutual support for the protection of their core interests, state sovereignty and territorial integrity, and oppose interference by external forces in their internal affairs.

The Russian side reaffirms its support for the One-China principle, confirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan.

Russia and China stand against attempts by external forces to undermine security and stability in their common adjacent regions, intend to counter interference by outside forces in the internal affairs of sovereign countries under any pretext, oppose colour revolutions, and will increase cooperation in the aforementioned areas.

The sides condemn terrorism in all its manifestations, promote the idea of creating a single global anti-terrorism front, with the United Nations playing a central role, advocate stronger political coordination and constructive engagement in multilateral counterterrorism efforts. The sides oppose politicization of the issues of combating terrorism and their use as instruments of policy of double standards, condemn the practice of interference in the internal affairs of other States for geopolitical purposes through the use of terrorist and extremist groups as well as under the guise of combating international terrorism and extremism.

The sides believe that certain States, military and political alliances and coalitions seek to obtain, directly or indirectly, unilateral military advantages to the detriment of the security of others, including by employing unfair competition practices, intensify geopolitical rivalry, fuel antagonism and confrontation, and seriously undermine the international security order and global strategic stability. The sides oppose further enlargement of NATO and call on the North Atlantic Alliance to abandon its ideologized cold war approaches, to respect the sovereignty, security and interests of other countries, the diversity of their civilizational, cultural and historical backgrounds, and to exercise a fair and objective attitude towards the peaceful development of other States. The sides stand against the formation of closed bloc structures and opposing camps in the Asia-Pacific region and remain highly vigilant about the negative impact of the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy on peace and stability in the region. Russia and China have made consistent efforts to build an equitable, open and inclusive security system in the Asia-Pacific Region (APR) that is not directed against third countries and that promotes peace, stability and prosperity.

The sides welcome the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapons States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races and believe that all nuclear-weapons States should abandon the cold war mentality and zero-sum games, reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their national security policies, withdraw nuclear weapons deployed abroad, eliminate the unrestricted development of global anti-ballistic missile defense (ABM) system, and take effective steps to reduce the risks of nuclear wars and any armed conflicts between countries with military nuclear capabilities.

The sides reaffirm that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is the cornerstone of the international disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation system, an important part of the post-war international security system, and plays an indispensable role in world peace and development. The international community should promote the balanced implementation of the three pillars of the Treaty and work together to protect the credibility, effectiveness and the universal nature of the instrument.

The sides are seriously concerned about the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom (AUKUS), which provides for deeper cooperation between its members in areas involving strategic stability, in particular their decision to initiate cooperation in the field of nuclear-powered submarines. Russia and China believe that such actions are contrary to the objectives of security and sustainable development of the Asia-Pacific region, increase the danger of an arms race in the region, and pose serious risks of nuclear proliferation. The sides strongly condemn such moves and call on AUKUS participants to fulfil their nuclear and missile non-proliferation commitments in good faith and to work together to safeguard peace, stability, and development in the region.

Japan’s plans to release nuclear contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean and the potential environmental impact of such actions are of deep concern to the sides. The sides emphasize that the disposal of nuclear contaminated water should be handled with responsibility and carried out in a proper manner based on arrangements between the Japanese side and neighbouring States, other interested parties, and relevant international agencies while ensuring transparency, scientific reasoning, and in accordance with international law.

The sides believe that the U.S. withdrawal from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, the acceleration of research and the development of intermediate-range and shorter-range ground-based missiles and the desire to deploy them in the Asia-Pacific and European regions, as well as their transfer to the allies, entail an increase in tension and distrust, increase risks to international and regional security, lead to the weakening of international non-proliferation and arms control system, undermining global strategic stability. The sided call on the United States to respond positively to the Russian initiative and abandon its plans to deploy intermediate-range and shorter-range ground-based missiles in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. The sides will continue to maintain contacts and strengthen coordination on this issue.

The Chinese side is sympathetic to and supports the proposals put forward by the Russian Federation to create long-term legally binding security guarantees in Europe.

The sides note that the denunciation by the United States of a number of important international arms control agreements has an extremely negative impact on international and regional security and stability. The sides express concern over the advancement of U.S. plans to develop global missile defence and deploy its elements in various regions of the world, combined with capacity building of high-precision non-nuclear weapons for disarming strikes and other strategic objectives. The sides stress the importance of the peaceful uses of outer space, strongly support the central role of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in promoting international cooperation, maintaining and developing international space law and regulation in the field of space activities. Russia and China will continue to increase cooperation on such matters of mutual interest as the long-term sustainability of space activities and the development and use of space resources. The sides oppose attempts by some States to turn outer space into an arena of armed confrontation and reiterate their intention to make all necessary efforts to prevent the weaponization of space and an arms race in outer space. They will counteract activities aimed at achieving military superiority in space and using it for combat operations. The sides affirm the need for the early launch of negotiations to conclude a legally binding multilateral instrument based on the Russian-Chinese draft treaty on the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space and the use or threat of force against space objects that would provide fundamental and reliable guarantees against an arms race and the weaponization of outer space.

Russia and China emphasize that appropriate transparency and confidence-building measures, including an international initiative/political commitment not to be the first to place weapons in space, can also contribute to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space, but such measures should complement and not substitute the effective legally binding regime governing space activities.

The sides reaffirm their belief that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC) is an essential pillar of international peace and security. Russia and China underscore their determination to preserve the credibility and effectiveness of the Convention.

The sides affirm the need to fully respect and further strengthen the BWC, including by institutionalizing it, strengthening its mechanisms, and adopting a legally binding Protocol to the Convention with an effective verification mechanism, as well as through regular consultation and cooperation in addressing any issues related to the implementation of the Convention.

The sides emphasize that domestic and foreign bioweapons activities by the United States and its allies raise serious concerns and questions for the international community regarding their compliance with the BWC. The sides share the view that such activities pose a serious threat to the national security of the Russian Federation and China and are detrimental to the security of the respective regions. The sides call on the U.S. and its allies to act in an open, transparent, and responsible manner by properly reporting on their military biological activities conducted overseas and on their national territory, and by supporting the resumption of negotiations on a legally binding BWC Protocol with an effective verification mechanism.

The sides, reaffirming their commitment to the goal of a world free of chemical weapons, call upon all parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention to work together to uphold its credibility and effectiveness. Russia and China are deeply concerned about the politicization of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and call on all of its members to strengthen solidarity and cooperation and protect the tradition of consensual decision-making. Russia and China insist that the United States, as the sole State Party to the Convention that has not yet completed the process of eliminating chemical weapons, accelerate the elimination of its stockpiles of chemical weapons. The sides emphasize the importance of balancing the non-proliferation obligations of states with the interests of legitimate international cooperation in the use of advanced technology and related materials and equipment for peaceful purposes. The sides note the resolution entitled ”Promoting international Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security“ adopted at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on the initiative of China and co‑sponsored by Russia, and look forward to its consistent implementation in accordance with the goals set forth therein.

The sides attach great importance to the issues of governance in the field of artificial intelligence. The sides are ready to strengthen dialogue and contacts on artificial intelligence.

The sides reiterate their readiness to deepen cooperation in the field of international information security and to contribute to building an open, secure, sustainable and accessible ICT environment. The sides emphasize that the principles of the non-use of force, respect for national sovereignty and fundamental human rights and freedoms, and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States, as enshrined in the UN Charter, are applicable to the information space. Russia and China reaffirm the key role of the UN in responding to threats to international information security and express their support for the Organization in developing new norms of conduct of states in this area.

The sides welcome the implementation of the global negotiation process on international information security within a single mechanism and support in this context the work of the UN Open-ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) 2021–2025 (OEWG) and express their willingness to speak with one voice within it. The sides consider it necessary to consolidate the efforts of the international community to develop new norms of responsible behaviour of States, including legal ones, as well as a universal international legal instrument regulating the activities of States in the field of ICT. The sides believe that the Global Initiative on Data Security, proposed by the Chinese side and supported, in principle, by the Russian side, provides a basis for the Working Group to discuss and elaborate responses to data security threats and other threats to international information security.

The sides reiterate their support of United Nations General Assembly resolutions 74/247 and 75/282, support the work of the relevant Ad Hoc Committee of Governmental Experts, facilitate the negotiations within the United Nations for the elaboration of an international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes. The sides encourage constructive participation of all sides in the negotiations in order to agree as soon as possible on a credible, universal, and comprehensive convention and provide it to the United Nations General Assembly at its 78th session in strict compliance with resolution 75/282. For these purposes, Russia and China have presented a joint draft convention as a basis for negotiations.

The sides support the internationalization of Internet governance, advocate equal rights to its governance, believe that any attempts to limit their sovereign right to regulate national segments of the Internet and ensure their security are unacceptable, are interested in greater participation of the International Telecommunication Union in addressing these issues.

The sides intend to deepen bilateral cooperation in international information security on the basis of the relevant 2015 intergovernmental agreement. To this end, the sides have agreed to adopt in the near future a plan for cooperation between Russia and China in this area.

IV

The sides underline that Russia and China, as world powers and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, intend to firmly adhere to moral principles and accept their responsibility, strongly advocate the international system with the central coordinating role of the United Nations in international affairs, defend the world order based on international law, including the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, advance multipolarity and promote the democratization of international relations, together create an even more prospering, stable, and just world, jointly build international relations of a new type.

The Russian side notes the significance of the concept of constructing a ”community of common destiny for mankind“ proposed by the Chinese side to ensure greater solidarity of the international community and consolidation of efforts in responding to common challenges. The Chinese side notes the significance of the efforts taken by the Russian side to establish a just multipolar system of international relations.

The sides intend to strongly uphold the outcomes of the Second World War and the existing post-war world order, defend the authority of the United Nations and justice in international relations, resist attempts to deny, distort, and falsify the history of the Second World War.

In order to prevent the recurrence of the tragedy of the world war, the sides will strongly condemn actions aimed at denying the responsibility for atrocities of Nazi aggressors, militarist invaders, and their accomplices, besmirch and tarnish the honour of the victorious countries.

The sides call for the establishment of a new kind of relationships between world powers on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation. They reaffirm that the new inter-State relations between Russia and China are superior to political and military alliances of the Cold War era. Friendship between the two States has no limits, there are no ”forbidden“ areas of cooperation, strengthening of bilateral strategic cooperation is neither aimed against third countries nor affected by the changing international environment and circumstantial changes in third countries.

The sides reiterate the need for consolidation, not division of the international community, the need for cooperation, not confrontation. The sides oppose the return of international relations to the state of confrontation between major powers, when the weak fall prey to the strong. The sides intend to resist attempts to substitute universally recognized formats and mechanisms that are consistent with international law for rules elaborated in private by certain nations or blocs of nations, and are against addressing international problems indirectly and without consensus, oppose power politics, bullying, unilateral sanctions, and extraterritorial application of jurisdiction, as well as the abuse of export control policies, and support trade facilitation in line with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The sides reaffirmed their intention to strengthen foreign policy coordination, pursue true multilateralism, strengthen cooperation on multilateral platforms, defend common interests, support the international and regional balance of power, and improve global governance.

The sides support and defend the multilateral trade system based on the central role of the World Trade Organization (WTO), take an active part in the WTO reform, opposing unilateral approaches and protectionism. The sides are ready to strengthen dialogue between partners and coordinate positions on trade and economic issues of common concern, contribute to ensuring the sustainable and stable operation of global and regional value chains, promote a more open, inclusive, transparent, non-discriminatory system of international trade and economic rules.

The sides support the G20 format as an important forum for discussing international economic cooperation issues and anti-crisis response measures, jointly promote the invigorated spirit of solidarity and cooperation within the G20, support the leading role of the association in such areas as the international fight against epidemics, world economic recovery, inclusive sustainable development, improving the global economic governance system in a fair and rational manner to collectively address global challenges.

The sides support the deepened strategic partnership within BRICS, promote the expanded cooperation in three main areas: politics and security, economy and finance, and humanitarian exchanges. In particular, Russia and China intend to encourage interaction in the fields of public health, digital economy, science, innovation and technology, including artificial intelligence technologies, as well as the increased coordination between BRICS countries on international platforms. The sides strive to further strengthen the BRICS Plus/Outreach format as an effective mechanism of dialogue with regional integration associations and organizations of developing countries and States with emerging markets.

The Russian side will fully support the Chinese side chairing the association in 2022, and assist in the fruitful holding of the XIV BRICS summit.

Russia and China aim to comprehensively strengthen the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and further enhance its role in shaping a polycentric world order based on the universally recognized principles of international law, multilateralism, equal, joint, indivisible, comprehensive and sustainable security.

They consider it important to consistently implement the agreements on improved mechanisms to counter challenges and threats to the security of SCO member states and, in the context of addressing this task, advocate expanded functionality of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

The sides will contribute to imparting a new quality and dynamics to the economic interaction between the SCO member States in the fields of trade, manufacturing, transport, energy, finance, investment, agriculture, customs, telecommunications, innovation and other areas of mutual interest, including through the use of advanced, resource-saving, energy efficient and ”green“ technologies.

The sides note the fruitful interaction within the SCO under the 2009 Agreement between the Governments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member States on cooperation in the field of international information security, as well as within the specialized Group of Experts. In this context, they welcome the adoption of the SCO Joint Action Plan on Ensuring International Information Security for 2022–2023 by the Council of Heads of State of SCO Member States on September 17, 2021 in Dushanbe.

Russia and China proceed from the ever-increasing importance of cultural and humanitarian cooperation for the progressive development of the SCO. In order to strengthen mutual understanding between the people of the SCO member States, they will continue to effectively foster interaction in such areas as cultural ties, education, science and technology, healthcare, environmental protection, tourism, people-to-people contacts, sports.

Russia and China will continue to work to strengthen the role of APEC as the leading platform for multilateral dialogue on economic issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The sides intend to step up coordinated action to successfully implement the ”Putrajaya guidelines for the development of APEC until 2040“ with a focus on creating a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment in the region. Particular emphasis will be placed on the fight against the novel coronavirus infection pandemic and economic recovery, digitalization of a wide range of different spheres of life, economic growth in remote territories and the establishment of interaction between APEC and other regional multilateral associations with a similar agenda.

The sides intend to develop cooperation within the ”Russia-India-China“ format, as well as to strengthen interaction on such venues as the East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum on Security, Meeting of Defense Ministers of the ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners. Russia and China support ASEAN’s central role in developing cooperation in East Asia, continue to increase coordination on deepened cooperation with ASEAN, and jointly promote cooperation in the areas of public health, sustainable development, combating terrorism and countering transnational crime. The sides intend to continue to work in the interest of a strengthened role of ASEAN as a key element of the regional architecture.

Vladimir Putin held talks with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

December 06, 2021

The expanded format meeting between the two delegations was followed by a face-to-face conversation over a working lunch, lasting 3 and a half hours.

Following the summit, a Joint Statement Russia – India: Partnership for Peace, Progress and Prosperity was adopted.

(Ed: Joint Statement below)

In addition, the two countries signed a package of documents before the Russian President’s meeting with the Prime Minister of India. They include an intergovernmental agreement on technology protection due to cooperation in space research and the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and on building and operating launch vehicles and ground-based space infrastructure; an intergovernmental agreement on the Military-Technical Cooperation Programme for 2021–2031; as well as a protocol amending the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in manufacturing Kalashnikov series small arms of February 18, 2019.

The Central Bank of Russia and the Reserve Bank of India signed a cooperation agreement to fight cyber-attacks. Also, relevant agencies signed a number of agreements in the sphere of education and memoranda of cooperation on intellectual property and on geological exploration and prospecting.

The documents signed included a roadmap for cooperation in science, technology and innovation; a programme of cultural exchanges for 2021–2024; a protocol on the organisation of culture festivals between the Russian Federation and the Republic of India in 2022–2023; as well as documents amending the intergovernmental agreement on merchant shipping of December 23, 1994, and concerning Russian oil supplies in 2022.

* * *

Beginning of Russian-Indian talks

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (retranslated): Your Excellency, my dear friend, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin,

I would like to welcome you to the annual bilateral summit in New Delhi. I would also like to welcome all members of the Russian Federation delegation.

I know that this is only your second visit abroad for almost two years. This shows your personal commitment to our relations. You are visiting India despite all the pandemic difficulties and this shows your love of India.

Despite the pandemic-related complications, the development of bilateral India-Russia relations has not slowed. We continue strengthening our specially privileged strategic partnership.

We have maintained close cooperation in countering COVID-19, be it during testing vaccine production, providing humanitarian aid or helping people return home in a difficult time.

Your Excellency, 2021 is an important year for bilateral relations for various reasons: this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation between India and the Soviet Union and two decades of strategic partnership. This is why I am so pleased to meet you in this special year because you have stood behind our strategic partnership over the past 20 years.

Many fundamental changes have taken place in the world in the past few decades. Various geopolitical formations have come into being, but one thing remained immune to change – the Russia-India friendship. Our countries not only cooperate with each other but also show special care for each other’s sensitive issues. This is indeed a unique, trust-based model of interstate friendship.

Your Excellency,

2021 is important for our strategic partnership as well. The first meeting of foreign ministers and defence ministers in the “2+2” format took place today and thus launched one more mechanism to strengthen practical cooperation.

We have maintained regular contact on Afghanistan and on a number of other issues as well. The interregional side of our partnership, which goes back to the Eastern Economic Forum and our summit in Vladivostok, has become a specific part of cooperation between the Russian Far East and various Indian states.

In the economy, we have adopted a long-term vision to reinforce our relationship. Our goal is to increase mutual trade to US$30 billion by 2025 and to increase mutual investment to US$50 billion. To do so, we must issue the proper assignments to our respective business communities.

The various agreements that were concluded today will help us expand cooperation as well. Our defence cooperation is being strengthened through joint development and production efforts under the Made in India programme. Cooperation in space and civilian nuclear energy is expanding as well.

I would like to congratulate Russia on obtaining observer status in the Non-Aligned Movement and dialogue partner status in the Indian Ocean Rim Association. We were delighted to support Russia’s presence in these associations.

India and Russia have similar positions on many regional and global issues. We will have the opportunity to exchange views on these matters during today’s meeting.

Your Excellency,

Once again, welcome to India. I would also like to welcome all members of the Russian delegation. Despite your busy schedule, you made the time to visit us, and we appreciate this. I am sure that our discussions today will be very productive for our relations.

Welcome again.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Prime Minister, my friend.

It is an honour and a privilege for me to visit friendly India once again.

We regularly hold summits at the highest level, in fact, they take place every year, with India and Russia taking turns in hosting them. Unfortunately, we had to skip last year due to the pandemic. Still, it is our turn to come to India, and I thank you for your invitation.

Russia views India as a major power, whose people have been very friendly to us. Our relations proceed from a very positive foundation. They are developing and forward-looking.

In 2020, trade between our countries decreased by more than 17 percent, but in the first nine months of 2021 it grew by over 38 percent. There is no doubt that we have every opportunity to reach the trade volumes you have mentioned.

This also applies to investment, which currently stands at US$38 billion and is more or less equally distributed between the two countries, with Russia having a slightly larger share. That said, we have been working together in very important and promising areas, including energy, high technology, and space. I am certain that the programmes you have mentioned will be carried out, including the one to train an Indian cosmonaut.

We have been promoting military-technical cooperation like with no other partner of ours. Together, we develop and manufacture high-technology military products, including in India.

There is another essential item on our agenda, which is of interest for both India and Russia. I am referring to taking care of the environment. Our minds are set on this topic, the green agenda, as well as on the economy and ways of developing it. Of course, we are realistic in our efforts, seeking to fulfil the needs of our economies and improve the standard of living for our citizens on an ongoing basis.

We remain proactively involved on the international stage. Just as you have said, our positions coincide on many issues. Of course, terrorism and efforts to fight it are a matter of grave concern, as are combatting drug trafficking and organised crime.

In this context, the developments in Afghanistan are of course a matter of serious concern for us. The foreign and defence ministers, who are present today, held their first meeting in such format, demonstrating our commitment to developing our relations in international and military affairs.

We hold joint exercises both in India and Russia. We are grateful for the attention you have given to this aspect of our cooperation and intend to keep moving in the same direction.

Once again, thank you very much for your invitation.

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Partnership for Peace, Progress and Prosperity. India-Russia Joint Statement following the visit of the President of the Russian Federation

1. At the invitation of Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi, President of the Russian Federation H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin paid working visit to New Delhi on 6 December 2021 for the 21st India–Russia Annual Summit.

2. The completion of 5 decades of the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation and 2 decades of Declaration on Strategic Partnership is symbolic of the long standing and time-tested India-Russia relations characterized by mutual trust, respect for each other’s core national interests and similarity of positions on various international and regional issues.

3. The Sides reaffirmed their commitment to the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia. They underscored that as major powers with common responsibilities, this important relationship continues to be an anchor of global peace and stability.

4. The Sides positively assessed the multi-faceted India-Russia relations that span various areas of cooperation including political and strategic, economy, energy, military and security, science and technology, culture and humanitarian cooperation. They noted that while the traditional areas of cooperation are being further strengthened, new drivers of growth have led to diversification and expansion of bilateral cooperation.

5. The Leaders highly appreciated the sustained momentum in bilateral ties despite the negative impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. They acknowledged that the Annual Summit could not be held in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. The Sides noted with satisfaction the continued intensification of contacts at all levels including 6 telephonic conversations between the two leaders since the last Summit; visits of Foreign Minister, Raksha Mantri, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel from Indian side; visit of Russian Foreign Minister and Secretary of Security Council to India; holding of Foreign Office Consultations, India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue, consultations on UN issues, Arctic, policy planning etc.

6. The Leaders welcomed the holding of back-to-back meetings of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation and the first 2+2 Dialogue of Foreign and Defence Ministers of India and Russia in New Delhi on 6 December 2021. They underscored the importance of regular annual 2+2 meetings for exchanging views on global and regional political-security developments.

7. The Leaders noted the ongoing interaction between the Parliaments of two countries and underlined the importance of regular meetings of Inter-Parliamentary Commission as a valuable component of India- Russia relations.

8. The Leaders reiterated the importance of the security dialogue at the level of NSA and NSCS on bilateral and regional issues and welcomed regular interactions between them. This has served to enhance strategic understanding and coordination between the two countries.

Cooperation in Covid pandemic

9. The Sides exchanged views on the Covid-19 pandemic situation and highly appreciated the ongoing bilateral cooperation in the fight against Covid-19, especially with respect to “Sputnik-V” vaccine.

10. The Leaders expressed gratitude to each other’s countries for timely assistance during the pandemic. India’s assistance in supplying critical medicines, including paracetamol, hydroxychloroquine, and certain antibiotics during the first phase in Russia and Russia’s assistance in providing ventilators, oxygen concentrators and other critical equipment during India’s second phase, was a humanitarian gesture well-received by both sides.

11. The Sides expressed confidence that early mutual recognition of COVID vaccination certificates will further facilitate movement of persons between the two countries and agreed to fast track the formalities in this regard.

12.The Sides expressed appreciation for the efforts of relevant agencies involved in evacuation efforts as well as transport of life saving equipment and medicines. They noted that the Air-bubble arrangement has served the interim travel needs of citizens of both countries.Both sides agreed to consider resumption of direct passenger and cargo flights to their pre-pandemic capacity.

Economy

13. The Sides appreciated the resumption of the positive trajectory of bilateral trade, with trade registering an increase of about 38% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 despite the pandemic-related restrictions. They positively assessed the overall increase of bilateral trade in 2019–20 compared to the previous year.

14. The Sides noted that the bilateral trade does not reflect the potential of strength and depth of India-Russia strategic partnership. The leaders stressed on the need for greater efforts to achieve the trade target of USD 30 billion by 2025. In this regard, they placed strong emphasis on new drivers of growth forlong-term cooperation.

15. The Sides underscored the need for commencement of negotiations on Trade Agreement between India and The Eurasian Economic Union.

16. The leaders noted the relevance of continued engagement under the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) for bilateral economic cooperation in various priority areas. They acknowledged the holding of 12Working Group and Sub-group meetings under the IRIGC-TEC and instructed the concerned officials to expeditiously conclude meetings of pending Working Groups. The sides also welcomed the setting up of the new Working Groups and Sub Groups on Transport, Urban Development and Railways and looked forward to the early holding of their inaugural meetings.

17. The Sides welcomed the holding of the 3rd edition of the India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue (IRSED) on April 15, 2021 in virtual format. They noted the productive discussions under this format in the areas of transport, agriculture, digital transformation, tourism, industry and banking and small and medium enterprises. The Sides considered the need to look at the way forward for the collaboration under this mechanism.

18. The Sides appreciated the outcomes of the visit of Minister of Steel of India to Moscow to attend the Russian Energy Week in October, 2021 and welcomed the progress made in a short span in reviving collaboration in coking coal and steel sectors. A mutually beneficial MoU for reliable long-term supplies of coal to India for steel production was signed. Discussions were held on production of specialty steel under Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme in India, and utilization of technologies from Russian state steel institutes for steel production in India by private and public sector companies. The Indian side welcomed the interest of Russian side in learning from India’s experience of gainful utilization of coal residues. The Sides also welcomed the meeting of the 1st Working Group on Coking Coal in virtual format in October, 2020.

19. The Leaders welcomed the signing of Agreement of Intent between Indian PSUs and Russian company PhosAgro for supply of fertilizers in the period of 2021/2022 calendar years. They instructed their officials to continue discussions for agreement on long term supply and pricing arrangements.

20. Trade in pharmaceuticals continues to be one of the main items of India’s exports to Russia. Both sides noted with satisfaction the continued strength of this commodity as well as Indian companies’ participation in Russia’s localization programme under Pharma 2020 and Pharma 2030 schemes. They recognized the growing collaboration in medical devices as a new promising area of economic engagement in the context of the pandemic.

21. The Sides appreciated the rapid recovery of collaboration in diamond sector between the two countries, following the initial downturn witnessed during the pandemic.

22. The Sides welcomed the progress on discussions on elimination of trade barriers in respect of critical commodities under the aegis of the Sub-Group on Elimination of the Trade Barriers of IRIGC-TEC. Both sides agreed to consider fast-tracking elimination of barriers by way of closing critical gaps in phytosanitary and veterinary requirements of both countries in agricultural and agro-processed products.

23. The Sides recognised the need to further streamline and fast-track the process of Customs clearances of cargoes. In this regard, the Sides agreed to replace the discussions on the ‘Green Corridor Project’ with an Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) and a MoU on Exchange of pre-arrival Customs data. The Sides, also, agreed to commence discussions on this Agreement and MoU at the earliest.

24. The Indian side encouraged participation of Russian companies in the 13 key sectors of Production Linked Incentive scheme of Government of India under the ‘Atmanirbhar’ and ‘Make in India’ programme. The Indian side also invited the Russian side to continue consideration of setting up manufacturing facilities in Greenfield industrial cities under Industrial Corridor Programme of Government of India.

25. The Sides recognized that the pandemic slowed down progress on certain investment decisions by companies on both sides. However, both sides noted with satisfaction that several investment ideas continue to progress, particularly those in inland waterways, railways, shipbuilding and repair, steel and coking coal, medical devices, petrochemicals, ports, banking and re-insurance services, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro processing, healthcare, IT and oil & gas.

26. The Sides urged the corresponding Ministries to finalize negotiations of the Bilateral Investment Treaty in a spirit of mutual understanding in order to protect mutual investments.They welcomed the signing of the MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property between Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce, India and Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Russian Federation.

27. The Sides reiterated their commitment to strengthen inter-bank and insurance cooperation. Commercial Indo Bank, Moscow, the only Indian Bank operating in Russia, has upgraded its rating significantly over the last year. Indian side expressed hope that this will allow the Bank to enter into retail segment after obtaining necessary approvals. Similarly, GIC Perestrakhovanie LLC, a 100% subsidiary of General Insurance Corporation of India, commenced its operations in September 2020 and is now offering reinsurance support to all major general insurers in the Russian Federation.

28. The Sides agreed to continue joint work on promoting mutual settlement of payments in national currencies, which will help reduce cost and time as well as risks involved in payments.

29. The Sides also expressed interest in continuing dialogue on accepting RuPay and MIR Cards within national payment infrustructures, as well as on interaction of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and The Faster Payments System of the Bank of Russia (FPS). The Russian side invited Indian credit institutions to connect to the Financial messaging system of the Bank of Russia to facilitate faultless interbank transactions.

30. The Indian side invited Russian side’s participation in civilian shipbuilding and inland waterways as promising new areas of collaboration. The two leaders welcomed the preparation of bilateral document in the area of civilian shipbuilding, which will facilitate enhancement of interaction and specialist training, investments in ship building and repair, scientific research, development of intelligent transport and navigation systems, international transport corridors.They welcomed the signing of the Agreement of Intent between Mazagaon Dock Ltd. and Zvezda Shipyard for commercial shipping signed in September this year.

Cooperation in the Russian Far-East

31. President Putin welcomed Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to an Act Far-East Policy under which India could be a reliable partner in the development of the Russian Far-East. He supported Prime Minister Modi’s concept of Sangam as a development tool for the region. The Russian side warmly welcomed the successful visit of Prime Minister Modi to Vladivostok to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in 2019 and his virtual participation in the 6th EEF this year.

32. The Sides noted the greater intensity of Inter-regional dialogue on economic cooperation between the States of India and the regions of Russia including the virtual meeting between the Chief Minister of Gujarat and Governor of Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in September, 2021. They appreciated holding of several B2B, G2G and B2G meetings recently between Indian companies and Russian regions. They welcomed the signing of 9 twinning agreements between the cities/states of India and the regions of Russia so far for mutual cooperation in diverse areas.

33. The Sides welcomed interest of Indian companies in cooperating in the Russian Far East. Energy, transport and logistics, maritime connectivity, diamond processing, forestry, pharmaceuticals & healthcare, tourism and humanitarian fields have been identified as areas of further cooperation in the Russian Far-East.

34. The Indian side reiterated its commitment to enhanced trade and investment in the Russian Far-East. The Sides agreed to continue discussion on operationalization of the US$ 1 billion Line of Credit announced by Prime Minister Modi in 2019 for projects for development of the Russian Far East.

Energy

35. The Leaders reaffirmed that bilateral energy cooperation is a key pillar of the bilateral ties and an energy bridge between the two countries. Both sides reiterated their joint efforts under the Roadmap for Cooperation in Hydrocarbons for 2019–24 to further deepen bilateral cooperation in the energy sector and welcomed the opening of Bharat Energy Center in Moscow, representing five Indian oil and gas public sector companies to enhance engagement with Russian stakeholders in energy sector.

36. The Sides noted with satisfaction, the fruitful, wide-ranging collaboration between the oil and gas companies of the two countries, including between JSC Rosneft Oil Company and Oil and Gas Public Sector Undertakings of India in implementing the Vankorneft, Sakhalin-1 and Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha projects in Russia, and Nayara Energy Limited’s oil refinery in India. They also welcomed prospective two way investment initiatives of both countries, which are currently under discussion.

37. The sides reaffirmed their commitment for increasing sourcing of Russian crude oil on long term contracts through preferential pricing, strengthening LNG imports to India, and the possible utilization of the Northern Sea Route for energy supplies. The two sides further agreed for the expansion of cooperation in gas sector and welcomed the creation of a Gas Task Force to identify mutually beneficial areas including the development of investment in gas infrastructure and distribution projects, use of natural gas in transport and emerging fuels including hydrogen.

38. Both sides, appreciating the strength of the Indian petrochemical market, agreed to expand collaboration through Russian participation by way of investment, technological and other ways of collaboration in Indian petrochemical sector. The sides welcomed the interest of Nayara Energy in production of products like polypropylene in India.

39. Both sides also agreed to consider prospects for expanding cooperation in hydro and thermal power, energy efficiency and the sector of renewable energy. They also noted the need for cooperation in hydrogen economy, low-emission development, including exchange of best practices. The Indian side emphasized the need for responsible and reasonable pricing of global energy supplies determined by market forces. Both sides noted the importantce of dialogue between consumers and producers for stabilizing energy prices.

Transport and Connectivity

40. The Indian side welcomes the growing participation of Russian companies in modernization of the railway sector in India. This includes Russian side’s interest in implementing projects using Russian technology, equipment and capital in India, particularly in signalling and telematic systems, high-speed rail projects, electrification of railways while abiding by India’s Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat programmes.

41. The Indian side appreciated Russia’s participation in electronic toll collection technology based on satellite navigation technologies on Indian highways, implemented by the joint Russian-Indian company Bharat Telematic Ssystems Pvt Ltd.

42. The Sides emphasized on greater and effective usage of the International North-South Transport Corridor for cargo transport at lesser cost and time to enhance connectivity in Eurasian Space. In this context, they welcomed the signing of agreement between Russian Railways (RZD) and Concor last year to jointly develop multi-modal logistics services along INSTC route. The Russian side expressed support for India’s proposal to include Chabahar port within the framework of INSTC. They stressed that connectivity initiatives should be based on the principles of transparency, broad participation, local priorities, financial sustainability and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.

43. The Indian side informed that the feasibility study of the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor is in advance stage, and the study so far done indicates an array of opportunities for increased traffic upon the successful implementation of its recommendations. The Sides expressed optimism that the implementation of the recommendations of the study will provide a fillip to the bilateral trade.

Civil Nuclear Energy and Space

44. The Sides noted the significant progress achieved in the construction of the remaining nuclear power plant units at Kudankulam. Both Sides noted the importance of continued further discussion on the second site in India; the Indian side will strive to finalize formal allotment of the second site in accordance with earlier signed agreements. They welcomed continuation of technical discussions on the VVER 1200 of the Russian design, joint manufacturing of equipment and localization of components.

45. Both Sides noted successful cooperation in the setting up of the Rooppur NPP in Bangladesh and expressed their readiness to explore similar cooperation in third countries as well.

46. The Sides welcomed the enhanced cooperation between the State Space Corporation ”Roscosmos” and the Indian Space Research Organization, including in the human spaceflight programs and satellite navigation and agreed to study the prospects of the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in the development of launch vehiclesand use of outer space for peaceful purposes, including planetary exploration.

47. The Sides welcomed the active work carried out within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Space Corporation ”Roscosmos” and the Indian Space Research Organization on joint activities in human spaceflight program and noted with satisfaction the training of 4 Indian astronaut candidates from the ”Yu.A.Gagarin Research&Test Cosmonaut Training Center“ FSBO.

48. To facilitate further cooperation in Space, the Sides welcomed the signing of Agreement between the Government of The Republic of India and the Government of the Russian Federation on technology protection due to cooperation in field of research and use of outer space for peaceful purposes and building and operation of launch vehicles and ground-based space infrastructure.

49. Both Sides intend to strengthen cooperation within the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), including the issues of the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

Military and Military-Technical Cooperation

50. Russian side appreciated the participation of Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh along with a Tri-Service contingent of the Indian armed forces in the Victory Day Parade at Red Square in Moscow to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Victory of the Soviet People in the great Patriotic War of 1941–1945.

51. Military and military-technical cooperation has traditionally been the pillar of Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia. Responding to India’s quest for self-sufficiency, the partnership is reorienting presently to joint research and development, co-development and joint production of advanced defence technology and systems.

52. The Sides expressed satisfaction with regular military contacts and joint exercises of the Armed Forces of the two countries which reached unprecedented heights this year with three exercises being held within a span of 60 days besides simultaneous participation of large Indian contingents in the International Army Games. The Russian side deeply appreciated participation of INS Tabar in the 325th Russian Navy Day celebrations. The Sides agreed to continue and expand regular defence dialogue, mutual training and exercises, subject matter expert exchanges and other activities under the aegis of India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Military and Military Technical Cooperation.

53. Both sides noted with satisfaction the successful implementation of the 2011–2020 Long-Term Program for Military and Technical Cooperation and welcomed the signing of a new long-term plan for the period 2021–2031.

54. The Sides reiterated their commitment to upgrade the defence cooperation, including facilitating joint development and production of military equipment, components and spare parts, enhancing the after-sales service system, progress towards mutual recognition of quality control and regular joint exercises of the Armed Forces of the two countries. The two leaders agreed that for peace, stability and mutual economic development, there is a need for the two countries to work closely together in the advanced and emerging fields of defence technology and for the Armed Forces of the two countries to work together in niche domains of military capabilities.

55. Both Sides agreed to take forward ongoing engagements to encourage joint manufacturing in India of spare parts, components, aggregates and other products for maintenance of Russian origin Arms and defence equipment under Make-in-India program through transfer of technology and setting up of joint ventures for meeting the needs of the Indian Armed Forces as well as subsequent export to mutually friendly third countries.

56. The Sides recognized the requirement of an institutional arrangement for reciprocal provision of logistic support and services for the Armed Forces.

Science and Technology

57. Emphasizing the importance of joint research in science, technology and innovation, the two Sides welcome the signing of Roadmap for Science, Technology & Innovation Cooperation and , expressed satisfaction with respect to launching joint calls in priority areas as states in the Roadmap.

58. The Sides expressed satisfaction on launching of India-Russia Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialization Program by the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India and Russian Foundation for Assistance to Small Industrial Enterprises (FASIE), which provides opportunities to Start-ups and SMES of the two countries to address societal challenges through innovative technologies.

59. The Sides also agreed to facilitate collaboration between government and private sector organizations to find ways of joint development of software products, platforms and services as well as in the area of electronics manufacturing. The Sides confirmed their interest in further developing cooperation in the sphere of digital technologies, including those related to information protection, security of critical infrastructure and law enforcement.

60. Thesides noted the promotion of youth exchanges by bringing together co-innovation programs at School level with the Support of Atal Innovation Mission, Niti Aayog and Talent & Success Fund (SIRIUS Centre, Sochi), Russia. These programs engaged students on both sides to generate hands-on technological solutions for societal problems such as Distance Literacy in remote areas; Rural Health & Well-being and Digital asset monitoring etc.

61. The Indian side congratulated the Russian side for its ongoing successful chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2021–23 and expressed its readiness to play an active role as an Observer in the Arctic Council. Both sides recalled the bilateral consultations on the Arctic held last year. The Indian side also expressed its interest in collaborating with Russia on the Northern Sea Route.

Education, Culture and Tourism

62. Recognising the traditionally strong cooperation between India and Russia in the sphere of education, the Sides appreciated efforts taken by both countries to ensure well being of students during the Covid-19 pandemic.They agreed to continue their efforts in promoting educational linkages between universities and educational institutions. The Sides also agreed for organizing exchange programs for their diplomats at the respective training institutes under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

63. The Sides appreciated the successful implementation of bilateral Cultural Exchange Program, which plays a crucial role in enhancing people to people contact and noted the signing of the India Russia Cultural Exchange Programme during the summit for continuance of the bilateral cultural cooperation. It was agreed to continue the mutually beneficial practice of reciprocally holding cultural and film festivals. Need for geographical expansion of cultural exchanges and greater involvement of the youth and folk art groups was highlighted. Both Sides agreed to continue their joint efforts in promoting Russian language in India and Hindi in Russia comprehensively, including by developing contacts between relevant educational institutions. They welcomed the signing of MoU between National Sports University, Imphal, India and the Russian International Olympic University Sochi, Russia.

64. The two sides appreciated the dynamism in tourist exchanges between Russia and India.To further deepen the cooperation in tourism, the sides expressed intent to discuss ways of cooperation both at government and private sector level with the aim to enhance tourist exchanges between the two countries.

65. Both Sides welcomed progressive simplification of visa formalities, including introduction of eVisa by both countries.India has opened group tourist visa from October 15, 2021 and normal tourist visa from November 15, 2021, which would further strengthen people-to-people contacts. They agreed to continue the work on further simplification of the visa regime in future.

Cooperation in UN and Multilateral Fora

66. Both Sides noted the high level of political dialogue and cooperation on issues at the UN and agreed to deepen it further. Both Sides stressed the importance of reinvigorating multilateralism, with the central coordinating role played by the United Nations in world affairs. The Sides underlined the primacy of respect for international law and emphasized their commitment to the purposes and the principles stated in the UN Charter including the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of Member States.

67. Russia welcomed India’s election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council with an overwhelming majority for a two-year term. Russian side appreciated India’s UNSC priorities which include commitment to strenghthen and reform the multilateral system, rule of law, fair and equitable international system and are anchored in the Indian ethos of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, i.e. the world being one family. Both sides highlighted that India’s election to the UNSC has provided additional opportunities to coordinate efforts on most pressing issues at the UN based on mutual understanding and a shared view and approach to the global world order.

68. Both Sides called for comprehensivereform of the UNSC to reflect contemporary global realities and to make it more representative, effective and efficient in dealing with issues of international peace and security. President Putin congratulated India on its successful Presidency of the UN Security Council in the month of August and reiterated Russia’s support for India’s permanent membership of a reformed and expanded UN Security Council. Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked President Putin for his participation in the UNSC high-level debate on Maritime Security chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 9, 2021 as part of India’s Presidency of the UNSC.

69. Both Sides reiterated their commitment to enhanced cooperation and close coordination in BRICS. President Putin congratulated India on its successful BRICS Chairmanship in 2021, including hosting of the XIII BRICS Summit on 9 September 2021 and adopting the New Delhi Declaration. The Sides alsowelcomed deliverables of BRICS cooperation in 2021, in particular the signing of the Agreement on BRICS Cooperation on Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation, finalization of the Agreement on BRICS Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters, adoption of the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Action Plan, Action Plan 2021–2024 for Agricultural Cooperation, Innovation Cooperation Action Plan 2021–2024 and establishment of the BRICS Alliance for Green Tourism. Both Sides reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025.

70. The Leaders recognised the role of the New Development Bank (NDB) as vital to addressing development challenges, including health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and encouraged the NDB to explore the possibility of financing more social infrastructure projects, including those that use digital technologies. They commended the NDB’s substantive progress in membership expansion despite challenges emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic. They reiterated that the process of expansion should be gradual and balanced in terms of geographic representation.

71. India and Russia stressed the achievements of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the last two decades of its operation and noted the great potential for further interaction among the SCO Member States. Both Sides will continue to strengthen the SCO as one of the key pillars of the emerging, more representative, democratic, just and multipolar world order based on international law, above all the UN Charter.

72. The Sides intend to focus particularly on increasing the effectiveness of countering terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, cross-border organized crime, and information security threats, in particular by improving the functionality of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

73. The Sides support increased role of SCO in international affairs, comprehensive development of the Organization’s contacts with the UN and its specialized agencies, and other multilateral organizations and associations. In this context, they support the establishment of official ties between the SCO and Eurasian Economic Union.

74. Both sides agreed to intensify cooperation within the RIC framework to promote common approaches to pressing issues on the global and regional agenda. The Russian side expressed appreciation for India’s chairmanship of RIC. Both Sides welcomed the results of the RIC Foreign Ministers meeting on 26 November 2021.

75. The sides highlighted their cooperation within the G20 format and agreed to intensify the same on issues of global and mutual interest, keeping in view India’s Presidency of the G20 in 2023.

76. The Both Sides strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and urged the international community to intensify cooperation against terrorism including safe havens, terror financing, arms and drugs trafficking, radicalization and malicious use of ICTs to spread extremist, terrorist and other illegal content.

77. Both Sides underscored the importance of implementing the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council resolutions on countering terrorism and extremism as well as the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, while taking into account national experiences and state specificities. Both sides reaffirmed their shared fight against international terrorism, concerted action against all terrorist groups, including those proscribed by the UN, condemned cross-border movement of terrorists and called for the perpetrators of terror attacks to be brought to justice, without any political or religious considerations. They denounced any use of terrorist proxies and emphasized the importance of denying any logistical, financial, or military support to terrorist groups to launch or plan terror attacks. Both sides reaffirmed the need to support and strengthen the FATF and the UN Office of Counter Terrorism in their shared fight against terrorism. They reaffirmed their mutual commitment to strengthening the current international drug control regime based on the three relevant United Nations conventions.

78. The Sides agreed that safeguarding of global commons including our oceans, outer space and information space should be based on the principles of transparency, accessibility and upholding international law.

79. The Sides appreciated close cooperation in the field of security in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) through inter-agency cooperation under bilateral mechanisms and at multilateral platforms. They highlighted the leading role of the United Nations in the decision-making process on security in the use of ICTs. The Sides also recognized the need for further work on rules, norms and principles of responsible behavior of State aimed at preventing conflicts and promoting peaceful use of ICTs. The Sides reaffirmed the importance of international cooperation against criminal use of ICTs and in this regard they welcome the establishment of an open- ended Ad hoc intergovernmental committee of experts to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes as stipulated in the UN GA resolutions 74/247 and 75/282.

80. Both sides expressed concern over the possibility of an arms race in outer space and outer space turning into an arena for military confrontation. They reaffirmed commitment to takeefforts for the prevention of an arms race in outer space and its weaponization. They stressed the paramount importance of strict compliance with existing international legal agreements providing for the peaceful uses of outer space and promoting international peace and stability, promotion of international cooperation and mutual understanding. The Sides supported negotiation of a multilateral legally binding instrument for prevention of an arms race in outer space. In this regard they noted the relevance of draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against space objects, submitted to the Conference of Disarmament for future negotiations. The sides reaffirmed that the Conference on Disarmament, is the only forum for holding multilateral negotiations on an international agreement (or agreements) on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects.

81. The sides reaffirmed support to full and effective adherence to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC) by all States Parties. The Sides noted that the BTWC functions including in what concerns the UNSC should not be duplicated by other mechanisms. The Sides expressed the support tostrengthening of BTWC including by adopting a protocol to the Convention providing for, inter alia, an effective compliance verification mechanism.

82. Both sides reaffirmed support to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), andtheir determination to upholdefforts and initiatives aimed at preserving the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). They called upon the States Parties to the CWC to engage in a constructive dialogue with a view to restoring the spirit of consensus in the OPWC.

83. To address the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, both sides emphasized the need to launch multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism at the Conference on Disarmament.

84. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening global efforts for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Russia expressed its strong support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The sides urged all members of the international community to increase the level of mutual trust in order to promote global peace and security.

85. The sides discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan, especially the security situation and its implications in the region, the current political situation, issues related to terrorism, radicalisation and drug trafficking etc. They outlined the priorities which include ensuring formation of a truly inclusive and representative government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, providing immediate humanitarian assistance and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities.

86. The leaders reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasizing the respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs. They also discussed the current humanitarian situation and decided to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

87. The leaders emphasised that Afghanistan’s territory should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist groups including ISIS, Al Qaeda, LeT, etc. They reaffirmed their firm commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing, the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure and countering radicalization, to ensure that Afghanistan would never become a safe haven for global terrorism. Both sides recalled the importance of the relevant UN Resolutions on Afghanistan, as well as the recent outcome documents of Moscow format consultations and other international and regional mechanisms. The leaders emphasized the central role of the United Nations in Afghanistan.

88. The leaders welcomed close coordination between India and Russia on Afghanistan including through the creation of a permanent consultative mechanism on the issue between the Security Councils of both countries. They highly appreciated the finalisation of the Roadmap of interaction between India and Russia on Afghanistan, which symbolized convergence of views and interests of the two sides.

89. The Russian side welcomed Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan of National Security Advisors/Secretaries of Security Council on 10 November 2021 in New Delhi and welcomed the Delhi Declaration on Afghanistan that emerged from that meeting.

90. The sides reaffirmed their strong commitment to sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria. The sides also reaffirmed their commitment that there is no alternative to advancing a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN- facilitated political process in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) and the necessity to mobilize comprehensive humanitarian assistance to all the Syrians in need without politization and preconditions as required by UNSCR 2585(2021).

91.The sides reiterated the importance of the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and UNSC Resolution 2231 and expressed their support to the relevant efforts to ensure the earliest reinvigoration of the JCPOA.

92. Both sides urged all the concerned parties to work towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula to promote establishment of lasting peace and stability and stressed on the need to continue dialogue to achieve this goal.

93. The sides agreed to explore mutually acceptable and beneficial areas of cooperation in third countries especially in the Central Asia, South East Asia and Africa.

94. The Sides reiterated the need to preserve and strengthen the role of the World Trade Organization for upholding a transparent, non-discriminatory, and inclusive multilateral trading system with the fundamental principles at its core. They agreed that the post-pandemic world requires diversified global value chains that are based on trust, resilience and reliability.

95. Both sides emphasized the importance of deepening regional economic cooperation to ensure sustainable socio-economic development and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the expansion of cooperation within the framework of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in such key areas as transport, energy and trade.

96. The Sides reaffirmed that the emerging regional security architecture should be free, open, transparent and inclusive, based on universally recognized principles of international law and aimed at maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation in the region. They agreed to strengthen joint efforts to build an architecture of equal and indivisible regional security. The Sides agreed to intensify consultations on complementarities between integration and development initiatives in greater Eurasian space and in the regions of Indian and Pacific oceans. They underscored their recognition of the ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture of security and cooperation and reiterated the importance of closer cooperation and consultations in various regional fora and initiatives such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) to jointly contribute to regional peace, security and stability.

97. The Indian side looked forward to Russia’s joining of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

98. The Sides noted with satisfaction the coinciding and similar approaches to their foreign policy priorities and reaffirmed their commitment for further strengthening of the India-Russia Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership, both in the context of the current bilateral relations and in addressing regional and international issues. They expressed their mutual intention to strengthen and expand their bilateral relations for the benefit of the peoples of India and Russia.

99. President Vladimir Putin thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the gracious hospitality extended to him and his delegation in New Delhi and invited him to visit Russia next year for the 22nd India-Russia Annual Summit.

New Delhi

December 6, 2021

China, Russia and India: Foreign Ministers Joint Communique

November 27, 2021

Joint Communique of the 18th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China

November 26, 2021

1. The 18th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China was held in the digital video-conference format on 26 November 2021. The meeting took place in the backdrop of negative impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic, on-going economic recovery as well as continuing threats of terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, trans-national organized crime, natural and man-made disasters, food security and climate change.

2. The Ministers exchanged views on further strengthening the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral cooperation and also discussed various regional and international issues of importance. The Ministers recalled their last meeting in Moscow in September 2020 as well as the RIC Leaders’ Informal Summit in Osaka (Japan) in June 2019 and noted the need for regular high level meetings to foster closer cooperation among the RIC countries.

3. Expressing their solidarity with those who were negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministers underlined the importance of a timely, transparent, effective and non-discriminatory international response to global health challenges including pandemics, with equitable and affordable access to medicines, vaccines and critical health supplies. They reiterated the need for continued cooperation in this fight inter-alia through sharing of vaccine doses, transfer of technology, development of local production capacities, promotion of supply chains for medical products. In this context, they noted the ongoing discussions in the WTO on COVID-19 vaccine Intellectual Property Rights waiver and the use of flexibilities of the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration on TRIPS Agreement and Public Health.

4. Emphasizing the need for collective cooperation in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministers noted the measures being taken by the World Health Organization (WHO), governments, non-profit organisations, academia, business and industry in combating the pandemic. In this context, the Ministers called for strengthening the policy responses of WHO in the fight against Covid-19 and other global health challenges. They also called for making Covid-19 vaccination a global public good.

5. The Ministers agreed that cooperation among the RIC countries will contribute not only to their own growth but also to global peace, security, stability and development. The Ministers underlined the importance of strengthening of an open, transparent, just, inclusive, equitable and representative multi-polar international system based on respect for international law and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and central coordinating role of the United Nations in the international system.

6. The Ministers reiterated that a multi-polar and rebalanced world based on sovereign equality of nations and respect for international law and reflecting contemporary realities requires strengthening and reforming of the multilateral system. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to upholding international law, including the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. The Ministers acknowledged that the current interconnected international challenges should be addressed through reinvigorated and reformed multilateral system, especially of the UN and its principal organs, and other multilateral institutions such as International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), World Trade Organization (WTO), World Health Organization (WHO), with a view to enhancing its capacity to effectively address the diverse challenges of our time and to adapt them to 21st century realities. The Ministers recalled the 2005 World Summit Outcome document and reaffirmed the need for comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. Foreign Ministers of China and Russia reiterated the importance they attached to the status of India in international affairs and supported its aspiration to play a greater role in the United Nations.Foreign Ministers of Russia and China congratulated India for its successful Presidency of the UNSC in August 2021.

7. Underlining the significance they attach to the intra-BRICS cooperation, the Ministers welcomed the outcomes of the 13th BRICS Summit held under India’s chairmanship on 9 September 2021. They agreed to work actively to implement the decisions of the successive BRICS Summits, deepen BRICS strategic partnership, strengthen cooperation in its three pillars namely political and security cooperation; economic and finance; and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Russia and India extend full support to China for its BRICS Chairship in 2022 and hosting the XIV BRICS Summit.

8. In the year of the 20th Anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) the Ministers underlined that the SCO as an influential and responsible member of the modern system of international relations plays a constructive role in securing peace and sustainable development, advancing regional cooperation and consolidating ties of good-neighbourliness and mutual trust. In this context, they emphasized the importance of further strengthening the Organization’s multifaceted potential with a view to promote multilateral political, security, economic and people-to-people exchanges cooperation. The Ministers intend to pay special attention to ensuring stability in the SCO space, including to step up efforts in jointly countering terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and trans-border organized crime under the framework of SCO-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure. They appreciated the Ministerial meeting in the SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan format held on 14th July 2021 in Dushanbe.

9. The Ministers supported the G-20’s leading role in global economic governance and international economic cooperation. They expressed their readiness to enhance communication and cooperation including through G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and other means, through consultations and mutual support in areas of respective interest.

10. The Ministers stand for maintaining and strengthening of ASEAN Centrality and the role of ASEAN-led mechanisms in the evolving regional architecture, including through fostering ties between ASEAN and other regional organizations such as the SCO, IORA, BIMSTEC. The Ministers reiterated the importance of the need for closer cooperation and consultations in various regional fora and organizations, East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), to jointly contribute to regional peace, security and stability.

11. The Ministers consider it important to utilize the potential of the countries of the region, international organizations and multilateral associations in order to create a space in Eurasia for broad, open, mutually beneficial and equal interaction in accordance with international law and taking into account national interests. In that regard, they noted the idea of establishing a Greater Eurasian Partnership involving the SCO countries, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other interested States and multilateral associations.

12. The Ministers condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The Ministers reaffirmed that terrorism must be comprehensively countered to achieve a world free of terrorism. They called on the international community to strengthen UN-led global counter-terrorism cooperation by fully implementing the relevant UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. In this context, they called for early adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. The Ministers stressed that those committing, orchestrating, inciting or supporting, financing terrorist acts must be held accountable and brought to justice in accordance with existing international commitments on countering terrorism, including the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the FATF standards, international treaties, including on the basis of the principle “extradite or prosecute” and relevant international and bilateral obligations and in compliance with applicable domestic legislation.

13. The Ministers emphasized the importance of the three international drug control conventions and other relevant legal instruments which form the edifice of the drug control system. They reiterated their firm resolve to address the world drug problem, on a basis of common and shared responsibility. The Ministers expressed their determination to counter the spread of illicit drug trafficking in opiates and methamphetamine from Afghanistan and beyond, which poses a serious threat to regional security and stability and provides funding for terrorist organizations.

14. The Ministers reiterated the need for a holistic approach to development and security of ICTs, including technical progress, business development, safeguarding the security of States and public interests, and respecting the right to privacy of individuals. The Ministers noted that technology should be used responsibly in a human-centric manner. They underscored the leading role of the United Nations in promoting a dialogue to forge common understandings on the security of and in the use of ICTs and development of universally agreed norms, rules and principles for responsible behaviour of States in the area of ICTs and recognized the importance of strengthening its international cooperation. The Ministers recalled that the development of ICT capabilities for military purposes and the malicious use of ICTs by State and non-State actors including terrorists and criminal groups is a disturbing trend. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to principles of preventing conflicts stemming from the use of ICTs, as well as ensuring use of these technologies for peaceful purposes. In this context, they welcomed the work of recently concluded UN-mandated groups namely Open Ended Working Group on the developments in the fields of Information and Telecommunications in the context of international security (OEWG) and the Sixth United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UNGGE) on Advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security and their consensual final reports. The Ministers supported the OEWG on the security of and in the use of ICTs 2021-2025.

15. The Ministers, while emphasizing the important role of the ICTs for growth and development, acknowledged the potential misuse of ICTs for criminal activities and threats. The Ministers expressed concern over the increasing level and complexity of criminal misuse of ICTs as well as the absence of a UN-led framework to counter the use of ICTs for criminal purposes. Noting that new challenges and threats in this respect require international cooperation, the Ministers appreciated the launch of the UN Open-Ended Ad-Hoc Intergovernmental Committee of Experts to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes under the auspices of the United Nations, pursuant to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 74/247.

16. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to broadening and strengthening the participation of emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs) in the international economic decision-making and norm-setting processes, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this regard, they emphasized the importance of constant efforts to reform the international financial architecture. They expressed concern that enhancing the voice and participation of EMDCs in the Bretton Woods institutions remains far from realization.

17. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for a transparent, open, inclusive and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core. In this context, they reiterated their support for the necessary reform which would preserve the centrality, core values and fundamental principles of the WTO while taking into account the interests of all members, especially developing countries and Least Developing Countries (LDCs). They emphasized the primary importance of ensuring the restoration and preservation of the normal functioning of a two-stage WTO Dispute Settlement system, including the expeditious appointment of all Appellate Body members. The post-pandemic world requires diversified global value chains that are based on resilience and reliability.

18. The Ministers agreed that the imposition of unilateral sanctions beyond those adopted by the UNSC as well as “long-arm jurisdiction” were inconsistent with the principles of international law, have reduced the effectiveness and legitimacy of the UNSC sanction regime, and had a negative impact on third States and international economic and trade relations. They called for a further consolidation and strengthening of the working methods of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee to ensure their effectiveness, responsiveness and transparency.

19. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its three dimensions- economic, social and environmental in a balanced and integrated manner – and reiterated that the Sustainable Development Goals are integrated and indivisible and must be achieved ‘leaving no one behind’. The Ministers called upon the international community to foster a more equitable and balanced global development partnership to address the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and to accelerate the implementation of 2030 Agenda while giving special attention to the difficulties and needs of the developing countries. The Ministers urged developed countries to honour their Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments, including the commitment to achieve the target of 0.7 percent of gross national income for official development assistance (ODA/GNI) to developing countries and to facilitate capacity building and the transfer of technology to developing countries together with additional development resources, in line with national policy objectives of the recipients.

20. The Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to Climate action by implementation of Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement adopted under the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the principle of Equity, Common But Differentiated Responsibilities, the criticality of adequate finance and technology flows, judicious use of resources and the need for sustainable lifestyles. They recognized that peaking of Greenhouse Gas Emissions will take longer for developing countries, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. They stressed the importance of a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that addresses the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in a balanced way. They welcomed the outcomes of the 26th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-26) and the 15th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP-15).

21. The Ministers underlined the imperative of dialogue to strengthen international peace and security through political and diplomatic means. The Ministers confirmed their commitment to ensure prevention of an arms race in outer space and its weaponization, through the adoption of a relevant multilateral legally binding instrument. In this regard, they noted the relevance of the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects. They emphasized that the Conference on Disarmament, as the single multilateral negotiating forum on this subject, has the primary role in the negotiation of a multilateral agreement, or agreements, as appropriate, on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects. They expressed concern over the possibility of outer space turning into an arena of military confrontation. They stressed that practical transparency and confidence building measures, such as the No First Placement initiative may also contribute towards the prevention of an arms race in outer space. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for enhancing international cooperation in outer space in accordance with international law, based on the Outer Space Treaty. They recognized, in that regard, the leading role of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). They agreed to stand together for enhancing the long-term sustainability of outer space activities and safety of space operations through deliberations under UNCOPUOS.

22. The Ministers reiterated the importance of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC) as a key pillar of the global disarmament and security architecture. They highlighted the need for BTWC States Parties to comply with BTWC, and actively consult one another on addressing issues through cooperation in relation to the implementation of the Convention and strengthening it, including by negotiating a legally binding Protocol for the Convention that provides for, inter alia, an efficient verification mechanism. The BTWC functions should not be duplicated by other mechanisms. They also reaffirmed support for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and called upon the State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to uphold the Convention and the integrity of the CWC and engage in a constructive dialogue with a view to restoring the spirit of consensus in the OPCW.

23. The Ministers showed deep concern about the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) falling into the hands of terrorist groups, including the use of chemicals and biological agents for terrorist purposes. To address the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, they emphasized the need to launch multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism at the Conference on Disarmament. They urged all States to take and strengthen national measures, as appropriate, to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and materials and technologies related to their manufacture.

24. The Ministers noted rising concerns regarding dramatic change of the situation in Afghanistan. They reaffirmed their support for basic principle of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and called for formation of a truly inclusive government that represents all the major ethnic and political groups of the country. The Ministers advocated a peaceful, secure, united, sovereign, stable and prosperous inclusive Afghanistan that exists in harmony with its neighbors. They called on the Taliban to take actions in accordance with the results of all the recently held international and regional formats of interaction on Afghanistan, including the UN Resolutions on Afghanistan. Expressing concern over deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the Ministers called for immediate and unhindered humanitarian assistance to be provided to Afghanistan. The Ministers also emphasized on the central role of UN in Afghanistan.

25. They stressed the necessity of urgent elimination of UNSC proscribed terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIL and others for lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region. The Ministers acknowledged the widespread and sincere demand of the Afghan people for lasting peace. They reaffirmed the importance of ensuring that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used to threaten or attack any other country, and that no Afghan group or individual should support terrorists operating on the territory of any other country.

26. The Ministers reiterated the importance of full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and UNSC Resolution 2231 and expressed their support to the relevant efforts to ensure the earliest reinvigoration of the JCPOA which is a landmark achievement for multilateral diplomacy and the nuclear non-proliferation.

27. The Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of Myanmar. They expressed support to the efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) aimed at implementation of its Five-Point Consensus in cooperation with Myanmar. They called on all sides to refrain from violence.

28. The Ministers underlined the importance of lasting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula. They expressed their support for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to resolve all issues pertaining to the Korean Peninsula.

29. The Ministers welcomed the announcement of the Gaza ceasefire beginning 21 May 2021 and stressed the importance of the restoration of general stabilization. They recognized the efforts made by the UN and regional countries to prevent the hostilities from escalating. They mourned the loss of civilian lives resulting from the violence, called for the full respect of international humanitarian law and urged the international community’s immediate attention to providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza. They supported in this regard the Secretary General’s call for the international community to work with the United Nations, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), on developing an integrated, robust package of support for a swift and sustainable reconstruction and recovery as well as for appropriate use of such aid. The Ministers reiterated their support for a two-State solution guided by the international legal framework previously in place, resulting in creating an independent and viable Palestinian State and based on the vision of a region where Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders.

30. The Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. They expressed their conviction that there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict. They also reaffirmed their support to a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in full compliance with UNSC Resolution 2254. They welcomed in this context the importance of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, launched with the decisive participation of the countries-guarantors of the Astana Process and other states engaged in efforts to address the conflict through political means, and expressed their support to the efforts of Mr. Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Syria, to ensure the sustainable and effective work of the Committee. They reiterated their conviction that in order to reach general agreement, members of the Constitutional Committee should be governed by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement without foreign interference and externally imposed timelines. They emphasized the fundamental importance of allowing unhindered humanitarian aid to all Syrians in accordance with the UN humanitarian principles and the post-conflict reconstruction of Syria that would contribute to the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons to their places of origin thus paving the way to achieving long-term stability and security in Syria and the region in general.

31. The Ministers expressed grave concern over the ongoing conflict in Yemen which affects the security and stability not only of Yemen, but also of the entire region, and has caused what is being called by the United Nations as the worst humanitarian crisis currently in the world. They called for a complete cessation of hostilities and the establishment of an inclusive, Yemeni-led negotiation process mediated by the UN. They also stressed the importance of providing urgent humanitarian access and assistance to all Yemenis.

32. The Ministers welcomed the formation of the new transitional Presidency Council and Government of National Unity in Libya as a positive development and hoped that it would promote reconciliation among all political parties and Libyan society, work towards restoration of peace and stability and conduct elections on 24 December 2021 to hand over power to the new government as per the wishes of the Libyan people. They also noted the important role of UN in this regard.

33. The Ministers noted that some of the planned activities under the RIC format could not take place in the physical format due to the global Covid-19 pandemic situation. They welcomed the outcomes of the 18th RIC Trilateral Academic Conference organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi (ICWA) in the video-conference format on 22-23 April 2021. In this context, they also commended the contribution of the Institute of Chinese Studies (New Delhi), Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow) and China Institute of International Studies (Beijing) in establishing the RIC Academic Conference as the premier annual analytical forum for deepening RIC cooperation in diverse fields.

34. The Ministers expressed their support to China to host Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

35. Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China and the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation thanked the External Affairs Minister of India for successful organization of the RIC Foreign Ministers Meeting. External Affairs Minister of India passed on the chairmanship in the RIC format to the Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China. The date and venue of the next RIC Foreign Ministers Meeting will be agreed upon through the diplomatic channels.

Here Comes China: Taiwan, RCEP, Earth-science satellite and The Plenum

November 08, 2021

Here Comes China: Taiwan, RCEP, Earth-science satellite and The Plenum

By Amarynth for the Saker Blog

Taiwan. In this article, Taiwan crossing the Red Line when the leader of the Taiwan region, Tsai Ing-wen, admitted to the presence of US military trainers on the island for the first time, was discussed. This was an open secret but the admission in public made it necessary for China to respond.  Now it is clear what form the response is taking.  At the time, all the media in English called for ‘punishment’.  There is always the option of kinetic action but China considers Taiwan as Chinese (despite the civil war) and the leadership really does not want to act kinetically against what they consider fellow Chinese. Soon we saw the words, Taiwan Separatists, appearing in the Chinese media. The reunification groups in Taiwan are becoming visible and reunification is presented as a fait accompli.

Here comes the ‘punishment’ but first the ‘accusation’.

China is accusing the Taiwan separatists of crimes against the peace:

  • inciting cross-Straits confrontation,
  • maliciously attacking and slandering the mainland and colluding with foreign forces to split the country.
  • undermining cross-Straits relations, peace, and stability in the Taiwan Straits, and therefore the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation.

This is the punishment

  • The separatists have been placed on a blacklist and circulating in Chinese social media, the words ‘dead or alive’ are used.
  • They and their families are banned from entering the mainland and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
  • Organizations related to them are restricted from cooperating with organizations and individuals on the mainland, and enterprises related to them and their financial backers are not allowed to make profits on the mainland.
  • The mainland will pursue criminal responsibility for the separatists in accordance with the law, and they will be held accountable for life.

In other words, they are being treated as traitors to their nation and their state and the peace, and there is no place to hide.

While there is no date for reunification yet, the laws governing such a reunification are being drawn up. The expectation is that the hot public opinion war between the reunificationists, separatists, and mainlanders will continue for a while yet. We can be thankful that it is a public opinion war and for now the probability of kinetic action between China and Taiwan is low. The western forces (US, NATO, European Union, etc.) are the dark horse in this configuration. We don’t know what to expect from a stated policy of strategic ambiguity, but which is openly hostile, running regime change operations, and stationing soldiers as trainers in what is China’s province.  Washington is expected to continue making noise and petty moves until they understand that reunification is not a choice, but a firm given.

The Chinese perspective on this:

US used to deter China by conducting military exercise around China, and the strategy recently changed to make its generals, political leaders and media contantly talking tough about Taiwan.

Why? Run out of budget? I know It is cheaper to conduct lip exercise.

— Dai Weiwei (@WEIWEIDAI4) November 8, 2021

[Sidebar] While we are discussing paradigm collapse themes in general in our world, the issue around Taiwan is considered internally as a guide or a measure of the current collapse of the paradigm of a single hegemonic world, into a multipolar world. This is their yardstick and their measure.  In other words, it is a sign of the times.


The RCEP has now been ratified. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement will take effect at the start of January. This is the largest trade agreement in all of the world and in all of history. Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea have signed and ratified the RCEP agreement. (This is the agreement where India was part of the group and then would not sign and stomped off).

Yes, you are right to sit up and take notice. Both Australia and Japan are in the lineup. What do we make of that?  Australia is most probably figuring out where their food comes from and this is the first trade agreement where Japan is involved with both China and South Korea.

RCEP is huge. It groups the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) plus Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.

https://www.scmp.com/economy/global-economy/article/3154659/rcep-trade-deal-reaches-milestone-after-ratification

In the past few weeks, we had the twin spectacles of the G20 meeting and COP26 with the two most imminent leaders in our world not only not attending, but giving short shrift to the messaging in general, both leaders making simple statements that they will do what they will do generally but will fulfill agreements that they made.

[Sidebar] Again we can link this to a paradigm collapse theme in general where the disintegrating late-Washington world order attempts to implement political technology projects, doomed to fail, for people with no critical thinking.

And just days after COP26, China took the lead again by launching a new sophisticated Earth-science satellite. They have about 30 similar but less sophisticated measuring systems in orbit, but this one is dedicated to the UN 2030 Agenda, of course, to meet and fulfill agreements made with a factual presentation of actual data. What becomes clear is that the cheaters and self-worshipping big hot air statement makers from COP26 cannot hide their own actions any longer. (You can run but you can’t hide). If there are agreements to be made, China will measure the data and do the count.

Developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the satellite will carry out precision analysis of energy consumption, habitat patterns, and coastal areas in the vicinity of human populations, and provide data for sustainable development indicators.  This launch is the 395th flight of the Long March rocket series, developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology.


A few data points gleaned from the Here Comes China Newsletter from Godfree Roberts (link at the end).

Governance:  President Xi proposed a ten-year education plan for SCO members, four of which are Central Asian nations: 30,000 government scholarships to study in China, plus 10,000 places for Confucius Institute teachers and students. Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a fluent Mandarin speaker, studied in China. Ex-deputy PM Dariga Nazarbayev argued that closer ties to China is the destiny of Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan’s President Sadyr Japarov‘s parents lived in China for decades. Read full article →

The US is attempting to disrupt China’s Belt & Road Initiative across many parts of the world, so the BRI is setting up shop in Cuba, says Tom Fowdy, “China’s willingness to deepen ties with Cuba is illustrative of a broader strategic shift. In the past few years, Beijing may have been too wary of getting close to Havana for fear of upsetting the US or diluting its unilateral sanctions, but as the new reality of US-China competition has crystalized, and as Washington has sought to exploit the role of Taiwan, Cuba naturally becomes a means to push back”. Read full article →

The UN passed a Chinese draft resolution calling for peaceful cooperation on international security, the first arms control resolution proposed by Beijing in its 30 years as a member state. “Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security”, was approved with 75 votes in favour and 55 against. Beijing’s resolution was fuelled by a desire to enhance international security by preventing harmful military cooperation between countries, citing the trilateral Aukus deal in particular. Read full article →

Covid Policy in China.  China moved fast and closed down a Disney theme park in about 2 hours and tested everyone.  They also closed down schools for Covid testing. They believe that a Zero Covid policy is less costly than living with it and reintroducing restrictions each time outbreaks occur, China’s top expert, Zhong Nanshan, says. “The country had no option but to aim for zero infections because the coronavirus was replicating quickly and the global death rate of about 2% was unacceptable. Some countries have decided to open up entirely despite still having a few infections. That led to a large number of infections in the past two months and they decided to reimpose restrictions. This flip-flopping is more costly and the psychological impact on citizens is greater.”  https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3154568/zero-covid-still-less-costly-living-it-chinas-top-expert-zhong


The Sixth Plenum

Best described as the beginning of a new epoch, the Sixth Plenum of the 19th Party Congress has started. This is a big deal with a “resolution on history” on the cards. Only three of these have been adopted. The first was in 1945 and served to firmly cement Mao’s era of revolution. The second was adopted in 1981 and served a similar function for Deng with his reform and opening-up policy. It is expected that Xi Jinping will be established as a long-term party leader and charting what is termed a new era.  These resolutions are not only statements of the past, but serve strongly to confirm a new direction. The era of the Deng Xiaoping-inspired “opening and reform era” is now closing and Xi Jinping’s New Era will be entered as the era of Common Prosperity. While we usually talk about Mao and Deng and now Xi Jingping, the acknowledged representatives of the Chinese System and CCP are Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202111/07/WS61870571a310cdd39bc73c86.html

We will hear more from this Plenum.  It is clear, that at least in China, they consider this to be of considerable importance.

Something that people should bear in mind when looking at Chinese governance:  These are not entry-level people.  By the time that they become household names, they have solid education and successful previous governance experience.  China is a merit-based country in its governance.


Please go and enjoy episode six of Nathan Rich’s excellent Epic China series, dealing specifically with the opium war.  Note that 1839 was the last year in history that China was completely free of official foreign interventionism.

In 1839, The Qing Dynasty sought to reason with Britain (“The Lion”), to stop its illegal cartel opium smuggling operations.

Here is the playlist of previous episodes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gl1bPVn81Ok&list=PLo4_KHAgJYFypZFLczc5xf-BzNAfcHGgG


Many of the data points here are courtesy of Godfree Roberts’ extensive weekly newsletter: Here Comes China. You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

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