Putin says that the sanctions are making Russia stronger at the SCO meeting
President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia will continue to fight against sanctions from the West. This is because Russia invaded Ukraine.
His speech at a virtual Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit was the first time he had spoken at a foreign meeting since the mutiny in Russia last month.
Mr. Putin supported trade deals between SCO countries that used local currencies. This was seen as an attempt to weaken the effects of sanctions.
The SCO meeting of 2023 is taking place online, and India is in charge.
Mr. Putin used the stage to send a message of scorn to the West. He said, “Russia stands up to all these sanctions, pressures, and provocations from the outside and continues to grow like never before.”
Since the Wagner mercenary group’s short-lived rebellion in late June, he has been seen in public a few times, but this was the first time he was seen with a group of foreign leaders.
In a televised speech from the Kremlin in Moscow to the summit, he said, “I’d like to thank my SCO country colleagues for their support of what the Russian government is doing to protect the constitutional order and the lives and safety of its people.”
Mr. Putin also said that more than 80% of the trade between China and Russia was done in roubles and yuan, and he asked the other SCO countries to do the same.
He also liked that Russia’s friend Belarus wants to join the SCO as a permanent member next year.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hosted the summit, asked members to do things like improve trade, communication, and tech cooperation.
But he didn’t talk directly about the war in Ukraine or how China is getting more and more aggressive in the Indo-Pacific. India has never been part of a group, but because its ties to the West are getting stronger, it had to walk a tight political rope.
Just a few days before, when Mr. Modi came to the US for a state visit, the US treated him like a VIP.
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Mr. Modi talked about the security of the region, but he didn’t name China, which is a neighboring country that India has been at odds with for a long time. In 2020, there were deadly fights on the border between India and China, which has been a source of stress for a long time.
The West sees India more and more as a balance to China, even though India has never officially claimed that role. And it didn’t do so again at the SCO.
Instead, India’s PM asked members to work together to stop terrorism that crosses borders.
“Some countries use cross-border terrorism as a tool in their policies and give terrorists a place to live,” Mr. Modi said. “The SCO should not be afraid to criticize these countries.”
People always think that these kinds of comments are about India’s bitter foe Pakistan, which is right next door. Shahbaz Sharif, the country’s prime minister, said that SCO countries must take steps to “fight the three evils of terrorism, extremism, and separatism.”
But he also said that religious minorities shouldn’t be made to look bad in order to “pursue domestic political agendas.” This was seen as a jab at India, which Pakistan, which is mostly Muslim, has often said doesn’t protect the rights of Muslims.
In India, where most people are Hindu, Mr. Modi’s government has always denied that it doesn’t respect the rights of minorities.
When it was Chinese President Xi Jinping’s turn to talk, he talked about how important it is to keep peace and security in the area. He told SCO members to “go in the right direction” and “boost their unity and trust in each other.”
After the US pulled out of Afghanistan two years ago, the Taliban took over and everyone seemed to think that it was important to keep things stable there.
A joint statement that is coming out soon should give more information about how the SCO countries plan to work together on Afghanistan.
In 2001, China, Russia, and four Central Asian countries got together to make the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a way to counter the West’s impact in the area. In 2017, India and Pakistan joined.
As ties between Russia and China and the West have gotten worse, the group has become more important to them.
Even though there are bigger groups like the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the G20, and the G7, experts say that the group’s promise can’t be ignored.
About 40% of the world’s people and more than 20% of the world’s GDP are part of the SCO. Including Iran’s, it will hold about 20% of the oil reserves in the world.
Iran becoming a full member at this year’s meeting will make the SCO’s energy portfolio stronger, but it will make people angry in the West. As the SCO becomes more and more at odds with forums run by the West, it may become harder for India to find a diplomatic middle ground between its different partners around the world.
But Indian officials say they are sure that their country’s foreign policy will remain independent and not favor one group over another. The future of the SCO will depend on how Delhi handles its diplomatic relationships, especially with Russia, China, and Pakistan.