China, India, Saudi Arabia and more: here are who condemns Russia and who does not

China, India, Saudi Arabia and more: here are who condemns Russia and who does not

The positions of China, India and Saudi Arabia on the Russia-Ukraine war. The article by Giuseppe Gagliano

China, one of Russia's closest partners, which recently declared that the Sino-Russian partnership had "no forbidden areas of cooperation", refused to call the Russian offensive an "invasion" and expressed its opposition to "All illegal unilateral sanctions". It continues to import wheat from Russia, implicitly helping the country resist sanctions.

However, China's support for Russia is not that simple. The former is heavily reliant on Ukrainian maize (30% of its total imports) and has invested $ 3 billion in the country as part of its Belt & Road initiative. Indeed, in 2019, China replaced Russia as Ukraine's largest trading partner. Today Ukraine remains China's third largest arms supplier (after Russia and France, which accounted for 77% and 9.7% of China's total arms imports in 2016-20 respectively). China is forced to remain a spectator of the bombing in Ukraine, a country once receptive to its proposals.

While timidly calling for the restoration of peace, China cannot explicitly condemn Russia or impose sanctions considering that this war is based in part on the same argument that China used for the invasion and annexation of Taiwan, namely the concept of "shared historical unity". The crisis in Ukraine guarantees the EU's concentration on its immediate vicinity. Furthermore, Russian intervention in Ukraine could encourage China to resolve its border disputes in the region while diplomacy has played little in its favor. The fact that the United States and its NATO allies do not go directly to Ukraine's military aid sends an unmistakable signal to Asian nations plagued by regional conflicts: they must fend for themselves. The West, which has long presented itself as the world's "light of hope", may not offer military support in the event of similar events in Asia. This could have a destabilizing effect in the region and the future of the Indo-Pacific is threatened.

If we look at the countries of Southeast Asia, with the exception of Singapore, which condemned the Russian aggression, the military-run Myanmar has strongly supported Moscow. On the other hand, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, among others, have not openly condemned Russia and are on the razor's edge between condemnation and support for Russia. This lack of consensus was reflected in the joint statement issued by ASEAN foreign ministers on February 28, which did not mention the Russian invasion of a sovereign state, not to mention that Russia has targeted civilians and has tried to take over the main Ukrainian cities.

Over the past decade, Moscow was the largest arms supplier to Southeast Asia between 1999 and 2018 for ASEAN countries, accounting for 26% of the region's total. In the future, the conflict will have repercussions in terms of fragmented security, economic and trade relations with the United States and Europe on the one hand and Russia and its allies on the other.

Then there is the case of India – the great South Asian power that enjoys a strong friendship with Russia, reinforced by its current border crisis with China and the disputed territories with Pakistan. To keep this relationship intact, India has been very careful not to condemn Russia and in doing so has also kept its historically concerned foreign policy of "non-alignment". Like its great Chinese rival, India has also abstained three times from voting against Russia in the United Nations, while stressing the importance of the UN Charter as a means of resolving tensions through diplomacy and dialogue. However, he implicitly disapproved of Russia's abandonment of the diplomatic path and called for an end to all violence.

India is the world's largest importer of Russian arms, accounting for 23% of Russia's total arms exports and 49% of India's total arms imports in 2016-2020. About 70% of the Indian military arsenal is of Russian origin. In addition to being a reliable military partner, the Kremlin has repeatedly used its veto right in the Security Council to block resolutions criticizing India on Kashmir, this disputed territory India shares with Pakistan. In return, India abstained from voting on a UN resolution condemning Moscow for its 2014 annexation from Crimea. In addition, China and India in the midst of their rivalry find Russia "a mutual friend" about which either of the sworn enemies can rely on in the event of escalating tensions. Furthermore, Pakistan's recent openings to Russia make it even more imperative for India not to downsize its relations with Moscow, its lifelong ally.

India has been tacitly condemned by its Western allies for failing to take a clear stand in favor of Ukraine. In a recent statement, the Indian foreign minister denounced the "double standards" policy of the United States and the West, who fled Afghanistan a few months ago in total chaos, despite protests from several countries over security problems in the country. In short, India will not blindly follow Western interpretation of democratic principles and interests on the altar of its national interests.

It is no coincidence that India is the only member of the Quad to refrain from openly condemning Russia. What the West needs to understand is that India's partnership with Russia has been consolidated over the past seven decades and has a certain "depth" that has not yet been achieved with its new Western partners. India is therefore striving to maintain its old ties with Russia and its new partnerships with the West, according to its strategic priorities. The United States needs India (and vice versa) by its side to strengthen the relevance of QUAD, effectively counterbalance the Chinese threat and develop an effective strategy in the Indo-Pacific region.

The position of the Middle Eastern countries on the Ukrainian conflict is no different from that of most Asian countries. In short, they maintain a "strategic ambiguity". Likewise, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iran have refrained from openly condemning Russia. On March 3, Vladimir Putin spoke by phone with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with the aim of strengthening a crucial geopolitical alliance as Western sanctions hit the Russian economy. Russia is more economically isolated than it has been in recent decades, with many of its banks cut off from the global financial system and merchants reluctant to process its oil shipments.

OPEC +, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, largely ignored this escalation of the crisis at its March 2 meeting. But the cartel is under increasing pressure to increase production in order to lower crude oil prices, which could create tensions between Moscow and Riyadh.

In fact, the invasion of Ukraine could be a boon to Saudi Arabia, as its revenues from oil exports have risen sharply, with oil prices reaching nearly $ 120 a barrel, the highest level in the country. decade. If Saudi Arabia decides not to increase its oil production, this allows it to achieve two goals. First, the high prices will allow the Saudi government to raise more revenue per barrel, with estimates suggesting its revenue could reach $ 375 billion this year, up from $ 145 billion in 2020. Second, Russia will be satisfied, which will protect their mutual interests. This could strengthen the prospects for a comprehensive energy and economic partnership that could include the UAE and other countries in the Middle East region. As for Russia, it could use its influence over Iran (and in turn the Houthi rebels in Yemen) to defuse tensions in the Gulf region. This inevitably means that the United States and its allies could lose their influence in the region.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL on Sat, 19 Mar 2022 07:29:15 +0000.