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A harvesting combine in the Russian Rostov Oblast. Photo: Wikipedia

Putin speaks at Valdai: From S-500’s to China’s food security

Russian President Putin spoke about his country's relations with neighbouring China at the Valdai Discussion Club at Sochi on Thursday, announcing that Moscow will be helping China build a warning system against ballistic missile launches.

Published: October 5, 2019, 8:02 am

    Putin explained that the recent US exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) has been detrimental to global stability.

    “We are now helping our Chinese partners to create a missile-warning system, a missile-attack warning system,” Putin said, adding that America’s exit from the INF had ignited an arms race. “This is a very serious thing that will dramatically increase China’s defense capability, because only the US and Russia have such a system now.”

    Foreign Policy magazine hastily reported that both Beijing and Moscow will now have to face the US administration’s wrath in addition to President Trump’s trade war and sanctions directed against Russia.

    It is expected that China will be among the first to acquire Russia’s S-500 anti-air missile system, even though it is still in a production phase according to Chinese media recently praised the next generation S-500’s capabilities as “greatly exceeding any active air defense system in the world,” according to Sina news portal.

    The Russian leader defended China against those seeking to “restrain” it. “Regarding the attempts to restrain China: I think that by definition it is impossible. And if someone makes such attempts, he, the one who does it, will understand that it is impossible. And during those attempts, of course, will harm himself,” Putin told the audience at the Valdai Discussion Club’s plenary session.

    “In any case, I consider such a development of events to be destructive and harmful, while joining efforts to create an environment of friendly cooperation and finding common security systems for all, is what we should work on together,” the Russian president added.

    The Russian President elaborated on the multipolar world: “It is crucial to consider the opinions and interests of all the participants in international life. Let me reiterate: truly mutually respectful, pragmatic and consequently solid relations can only built between independent and sovereign states.

    “Russia is sincerely committed to this approach and pursues a positive agenda.” Putin also suggested that Russia could be looking at cementing China’s food security in the future.

    The Russian leader moreover alluded to the Concert of Europe, the balance of power system between 1815 to 1848 and from 1871 to 1914. It was also known as the Congress System or the Vienna System after the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), was initially dominated by five Great Powers of Europe: Prussia, Russia, Britain, France and Austria.

    German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck re-created the Concert of Europe to avoid future conflicts and the revitalized concert included France, Britain, Austria, Russia, and Italy with Germany as the main continental power economically and militarily.

    The defence cooperation between the two former Communist rivals comes in the wake of the US seeking other Asian countries in which it could station their weapon systems. Even though China is using its economic power to prevent that, the US is likely to succeed in the end.

    “While China has capable weapons and can defend itself against a smaller attack the US has about 20 times more nuclear warheads than China. It could use those in an overwhelming first strike to decapitate and destroy the Chinese state. An early warning system will give China enough time to detect such an attack and to launch its own nuclear deterrent against the US. The warning systems will thus checkmate the US first strike capability,” blogger Moon of Alabama explained.

    Over the last two years Russia and China have both unveiled hypersonic weapons. Currently the US has neither such weapons nor any defensive system that can protect against these.

    Russian media recently reported that successful tests on hypersonic weapon systems had been conducted: “Combat crews of the S-400, in the Astrakhan Region, held combat exercises against hypersonic target-missiles Favorit PM and destroyed all targets.”

    The press-service of Russia’s Western Military District that the crews of S-400’s were from the units of air-defense of Leningrad Army of Air Force and Air Defense of Western Military District.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has meanwhile dismissed US sanctions against his country as ineffective and counterproductive.

    “I have heard that Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin are two famous anti-Russia-minded members of the US Congress. I don’t think that this implies that they have any foresight. Those with a more or less politically mature opinion of the situation should have realized long ago that the sanctions don’t work in the direction they wanted them to work.

    “I believe that they will never work. We have a territory and its riches that were bestowed on us by God and our ancestors, we have a feeling of personal dignity, and we also have the armed forces. This combination makes us very confident. I hope that economic development and all the investment that has been made and continues to be made will also pay off in the near future.”

    A recent US Government Accountability Office report has even confirmed that sanctions do not work.

    “The Departments of the Treasury (Treasury), State (State), and Commerce (Commerce) each undertake efforts to assess the impacts of specific sanctions on the targets of those sanctions. […] However, agency officials cited several difficulties in assessing sanctions’ effectiveness in meeting broader US policy goals, including challenges in isolating the effect of sanctions from other factors as well as evolving foreign policy goals. According to Treasury, State, and Commerce officials, their agencies have not conducted such assessments on their own.”

    In fact, Russian oil giant Rosneft has dropped the dollar and turned to the euro as the default currency for all its new export contracts including for crude oil, oil products, petrochemicals and liquefied petroleum gas, as per its most recent tender documents.

    Washington has been threatening to impose sanctions on Rosneft over its operations in Venezuela, a move which Rosneft has said would be illegal.

    Iran has also been selling oil to China and India in their local currencies, shunning the US dollar.

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    • LuciusAnnaeusSeneca

      This is an interesting article on the evolving defense relationship between Russia and China, and how it might fit in the context of Putin’s thinking on global issues. The “Concert of Europe” that Putin alludes to is almost certainly relevant to his strategic viewpoint. We might wonder who he considers the current great powers, and what are his criteria for doing so.

      At any rate, it is unlikely that Russia, or any major arms exporter, would sell advanced state-of-the-art air defense or other equipment to another country without first having a domestic version of superior quality as compared to any export version. Perhaps the Chinese some day might get what some consider state-of-the-art air defense. But the recent Russia-Turkey air defense sales agreement probably indicates the reality quite well. And that is, that Russia will never export anything in the way of military equipment, especially to a neighboring state, that they already do not know how to defeat.


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