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Registan square after sunrise in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Wikipedia

A rejection of the unipolar world in Samarkand

It was more than a symbolic gesture: At a meeting in Uzbekistan, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin and Chinese head of state and party Xi Jinping swore by the "boundless friendship" between their two countries. They underscored the common goal of a new world order not dominated by the West.

Published: September 17, 2022, 8:38 am

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    The meeting took place on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, which, in addition to China and Russia, also includes India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran is in the process of being admitted, while Saudi Arabia, Qatar and NATO member Turkey have associated status. Russia and China want to develop the organization into a counterpoint to western-dominated alliances – both economically and militarily.

    In the run-up to the summit, China expressed its understanding of Russia’s war in Ukraine in view of the alliance against the US. China’s head of parliament Li Zhanshu, Beijing’s number three, recently declared in Moscow that China supported Russia’s interests, “especially in the situation in Ukraine”.

    “We see that the USA and its NATO allies are expanding their presence near the Russian border which seriously endangers national security and the lives of Russian citizens.” Beijing “fully understands the necessity of all measures taken by Russia aimed at protecting its core interests”.

    “China is willing to make efforts with Russia to assume the role of great powers, and play a guiding role to inject stability and positive energy into a world rocked by social turmoil,” Xi declared during a leaders’ summit at the SCO.

    In Uzbekistan, in return, Putin praised Xi’s “balanced” stance on the Ukraine war. He hoped that the meeting – the first of the two since the outbreak of war – would give new impetus to deepening the Russian-Chinese partnership.

    Current moves to create a unipolar world “have recently taken an absolutely ugly form that the overwhelming majority of the planet’s nations find unacceptable,” Putin said. Russia and China “stand together for a just, democratic, multipolar world order based on international law and the central role of the UN. And not on any rules that someone has invented and tries to impose on others without even explaining what they are,” Putin added.

    In this context, the head of the Kremlin particularly praised the SCO, which was established in 2001 as a Chinese initiative. Today it is “a forum for constructive and creative cooperation”. “It is now the largest regional organization in the world, uniting a vast geographic area and about half the population of our planet,” Putin said.

    Xi, in turn, hailed Putin as an “old friend” alluding to the Taiwan conflict. In this regard, Putin emphasized that his country supports China’s “one-country policy” and rejected Western “provocations”.

    To coincide with the statements by Russian and Chinese leaders in Samarkand, Russia’s natural gas exports to the European Union this year are expected to decline by 50 billion cubic meters (bcm), Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday. That is one-third of last year’s volumes as a result of US-imposed sanctions.

    “According to estimates currently in the Ministry of Energy, exports will decrease by about 50 billion cubic meters,” Novak told Russian news agency Interfax. This is not good news for the struggling EU.

    TASS news agency reported that the Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline may become a de facto replacement for Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Deputy Prime Minister Novak was also interviewed by the Rossiya-1 TV channel on this issue. “Well, in fact, yes,” he said when asked whether the Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline could become a replacement for Nord Stream 2. Novak recalled that the Power of Siberia-2 project was being discussed “for a capacity of 50 billion” cubic meters of gas.

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