January 27, 2023

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Putin and Xi present themselves as a counterweight to the Western order

Samarkand | Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin brought together several countries with strained ties to the United States at a regional summit on Friday to oppose Western influence.

• Read more: Putin and Xi show solidarity with the West

But the unity among the summit participants showed some breakdowns. Therefore, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken responded that Russia was under “pressure” to end its intervention against Kiev after Beijing and Delhi expressed “concerns” on the matter during the summit.

At the same time, two Central Asian countries whose leaders attended the summit, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, clashed in border skirmishes that left dozens injured and prompted the declaration of an emergency ceasefire.

The event comes at a time when Moscow and Beijing have strained relations with Washington over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and US support for Taiwan.

Putin ‘no rush’ on Ukraine

During the summit’s keynote session, Xi called on the assembled leaders to “work together to promote an international order moving in a more just direction.”

He continued that it must “give up zero-sum games and block-building politics”. He did not name any country, but Beijing has commonly used the term to denounce the United States and its close allies.

The Russian president, for his part, welcomed the “increasing role of new power centers”, which, according to him, “became more and more evident”.

Putin said cooperation between SCO member states, unlike the West, is based on “selfless” principles.

However, signs of dissent did not fail to emerge.

“Your Excellency, I know this is not the time for war,” Indian President Narendra Modi told Mr. Putin at the start of a face-to-face meeting.

Answered by Mr. Putin said he had asked Xi Jinping about his “concerns” earlier in the day, using a similar formula. The Russian president told Mr Modi he would “do everything” to ensure the conflict in Ukraine “ends as soon as possible”.

But Mr Putin, speaking to Russian reporters shortly afterwards, declared that Moscow was in no rush to complete its “main objective” in Ukraine: seizing the Donbass, a region in the country’s south-east. Russian army.

“There is no need to change the plan (activities, editor’s note) (…) We are in no rush,” Mr. Putin said.

Moscow in search of allies

The SCO, whose members are China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four former Soviet republics in Central Asia, was established in 2001 as a platform for cooperation with competing Western organizations.

But there are significant differences within the coalition. The ceasefire was announced after the leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan met urgently for a summit and violence escalated along the disputed border between the two Central Asian countries.

MM Putin and Xi also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called for an end to the war in Ukraine “through diplomatic channels as soon as possible.” Recently, Ankara played a key role in brokering an agreement between Moscow and Kiev on the export of grain from Ukraine, which is vital to many countries around the world.

Russia has been targeted by tough Western sanctions and is turning to Asia for economic and diplomatic support.

Mr. During a Thursday meeting with Xi, Mr. Putin thanked his Chinese counterpart for his “balanced stance” on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while promising to provide him with “clarifications” to address his “concerns.”

On his first foreign trip since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Xi hopes to further strengthen his status as a key leader ahead of the Chinese Communist Party Congress in October, when he will receive a new mandate.

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Choosing Central Asia as the first foreign destination for more than two years, Mr. Xi explains the importance of connecting Beijing to the region, which is criss-crossed by Xi’s titanic “New Silk Roads” project. Connecting to the world.

Xi visited Kazakhstan on Wednesday, ahead of the summit, as the country worries about Russian ambitions after its invasion of Ukraine.

As the Iranian nuclear talks slip away, Mr. Mr. Xi on Friday. He also met Erdogan and Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi.