Bilateral meetings turned out to be more important than collective meetings at the SCO summit
Uzbekistan became the venue for the first talks between the leaders of Russia and China after the start of the special operation What was discussed at the bilateral meetings – in the material RBC -width: 320px) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >
What did the SCO leaders agree on
The two-day summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), held in Samarkand on September 15 & 16, was the first face-to-face meeting of the leaders of the participating countries in three years due to the coronavirus pandemic. During this time, the organization has expanded significantly, and the summit in Uzbekistan has become the most representative in all the years of the existence of the SCO. It was attended by the leaders of 15 countries (Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan withdrew at the last moment due to the aggravation of the situation on the border with Azerbaijan), including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in as a guest of honor. At the same time, for Xi Jinping, the visit to Samarkand was the first foreign trip since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The Chinese leader was present at all official events, but missed the photo ceremony and an informal meeting of heads of state due to precautionary measures: China still has strict rules in case of detection of coronavirus cases.
The authorities of Uzbekistan seriously prepared for the event: the International Tourist Center was built in Samarkand for the summit & mdash; a modern cluster consisting of a congress hall and luxury hotels, surrounded by an artificially created canal. A new airport was also built. During the days of the summit, the city was completely blocked: only cars of the organizers and delegates were moving along the highways, the streets and restaurants were empty, and the famous Siab Bazaar temporarily stopped working altogether.
The main event for the organization was its expansion: Iran was officially recognized as a member of the SCO, and Bahrain, Maldives, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Myanmar received the status of dialogue partners. Special Representative of the President of Russia for the SCO Bakhtiyor Khakimov, in an interview with RBC, explained their decision to join the organization by the fact that the SCO— an “attractive and predictable partner” that has “progressively developed” in recent years.
The SCO was originally created to protect the borders of member countries and fight terrorism, but now it is paying more and more attention to economic issues. The latter have become especially relevant against the backdrop of sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries after the start of a special operation in Ukraine. The Samarkand Declaration, the final document of the meeting, enshrined the idea promoted in recent years by Russia about settlements in national currencies and the need to develop logistics supply chains of goods.
Like meetings “in the fields” turned out to be more important than the summit agenda
At the same time, the main focus in Samarkand was on bilateral meetings, especially on the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Meeting in Samarkand— the first since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, before that the leaders met at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing in early February. China takes an intermediate position on the Ukrainian conflict: on the one hand, China does not declare support for Russia's actions, on the other hand— refuses to join Western sanctions and continues to develop economic cooperation with Moscow. The latter is extremely important for Russia both in terms of energy exports against the backdrop of discussions about abandoning them in the West, and for importing a wide range of goods that Moscow can no longer buy in Europe and the United States, including high-tech products.
The meeting of the two leaders was preceded by a statement by the Ministry of Defense on the withdrawal of troops from the Izyumsko-Balakliya direction to the territory of the DPR. The agency explained this by the need to fulfill the tasks set for the special operation.
As CNN notes, this situation makes China nervous, because in the event of a military failure, Russia will become a less reliable assistant in rivalry with the United States. If Moscow is weakened, Washington can focus more on confronting Beijing. At the same time, China cannot openly support Russia, as this could make it a target for Western sanctions.
On the eve of the Samarkand meeting, US National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said that now is not the time for business as usual in China's relations with Russia.
At the beginning of the meeting with Xi Jinping, Putin thanked him for his “balanced position”; on the Ukrainian crisis. “We understand your questions and your concerns on this matter and during today’s meeting, of course, we will explain in detail our position on this issue, although we have spoken about this before,” — added the Russian leader. Putin also expressed support for Beijing on the issue of partially recognized Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory. In August, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi paid an official visit to the island despite protests from mainland China, to which Beijing responded with days-long naval exercises. Xi Jinping at the same time refrained from mentioning both topics during the start of negotiations, but called Putin “my dear friend.” Commenting on the talks, Putin told reporters that “it was, in fact, our usual, ordinary meeting.”
Putin's talks with the Turkish leader also attracted attention. The Russian president earlier announced his intention to review the direction of grain exports from Ukraine within the framework of the agreements reached between the countries with the participation of Turkey and the UN. According to Putin, the grain deal was concluded under the pretext of the need to export grain to developing countries, but in reality only 3% of Ukrainian products are exported in this direction. The President intended to discuss this issue with Erdogan, but did not mention it when he spoke at the beginning of the meeting about the progress of the deal. Instead, he thanked the Turkish leader for his contribution to the implementation of the agreement and said that Russia had been notified of the possibility of exporting its agricultural products with the help of Ankara. “Turkey is a reliable partner in this regard and will be able to ensure reliable deliveries through its territory to all countries of the world, including the countries of Asia, Latin America, Africa, since we sell there,” & mdash; he said. Putin also noted the reliability of Russian energy supplies through Turkey, including to the EU. He also announced an agreement to pay 25% of the cost of Russian gas supplies to Turkey in rubles.
Another topic of negotiations between the leaders could be the aggravation on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as a result of which Yerevan requested assistance from the CSTO. Turkey has traditionally been on the side of Azerbaijan and played a role in resolving the second Karabakh war in 2020. Putin's meeting with the President of Azerbaijan took place immediately after the talks with Erdogan.
At the beginning of the talks with Putin, Aliyev thanked him “for the prompt response to the aggravation, escalation in the zone of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.” “The clashes lasted less than eight hours, and the fact that they stopped (although the Armenian side did not immediately begin to implement the ceasefire, but in general for about two days the ceasefire has been observed), indicates that neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan had no intentions of large-scale escalation,— Aliyev added. Later, at a press conference, Putin told reporters that “first of all, under the influence of Russia, this conflict was localized.”
Authors Tags Persons
politician, president of Russia
October 7, 1952
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