Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was 'impossible' to isolate Russia

Looking to Asia, Putin says it’s ‘impossible’ to isolate Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin said it is “impossible” to isolate Russia – Copyright AFP Arif ALI

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday it was “impossible” to isolate Russia and welcomed Asia’s growing global influence as Moscow looks east in the face of unprecedented Western sanctions on Ukraine.

Washington and Brussels unleashed a flurry of economic and personal sanctions on Moscow after Putin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24.

Faced with deteriorating relations with Western capitals, Moscow is seeking to turn the country towards the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

“As much as one would like to isolate Russia, it is impossible to do so,” Putin told the Eastern Economic Forum in the Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok.

According to him, the coronavirus pandemic has been replaced by other global challenges that “threaten the whole world,” including “sanctions fever in the West.”

Putin blamed the “elusive dominance” of the United States and the “stubborn refusal of the Western elites to see and accept objective facts.”

He added that Russia is “managing the technological, financial and economic aggression of the West”, insisting that the economic situation in Russia “is stabilizing”.

Putin has repeatedly said the Russian economy is weathering the flurry of sanctions well as the Kremlin’s ties to the West plummet to new lows.

As Moscow seeks to strengthen ties with Asia instead, especially with key ally China, Putin welcomed the growing role of the Asia-Pacific region in world affairs.

“The role of … the countries of the Asia-Pacific region has increased significantly,” he said at the forum, adding that partnerships will create “tremendous new opportunities for our people.”

Putin was joined at the forum by China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu, who is third in the Chinese government hierarchy, and a bilateral meeting is scheduled for later in the day.

Putin also met with the head of the Myanmar junta, Min Aung Hlaing, whose government is also in diplomatic isolation.

Putin called Myanmar a “old and reliable partner” and Min Aung Hlaing called the Russian president a “world leader.”

– Putin and Xi meeting –

Putin’s participation in the forum in the Far East – a region with close geopolitical and economic ties to Russia’s Asian neighbors – comes a day after the Russian president directed large-scale military exercises there.

The week-long maneuvers, called Vostok 2022, ended on Wednesday, and involved several Kremlin-friendly countries, including China.

Putin is expected to hold a personal meeting next week with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, who has not left China since 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The leaders of the two countries will meet at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which will be held in Uzbekistan on September 15 and 16, a Russian diplomat said on Wednesday.

Beijing and Moscow have grown closer in recent years, stepping up cooperation in what they call a “no limits” relationship, acting as a counterbalance to the global dominance of the United States.

Beijing has refused to condemn Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine and has provided diplomatic cover by criticizing Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv, raising tensions between China and the West.

Tensions escalated further during an August visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to self-governing democratic Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.

Moscow during the visit was in full solidarity with Beijing, and Putin accused Washington of “destabilizing” the world.

In a sign of further rapprochement, Russia announced on Tuesday that China would switch from US dollars to the two countries’ national currencies – yuan and ruble – to pay for Russian natural gas supplies.

On Wednesday, Putin said that “trust has been lost” in US dollars, euros and British pounds, and Russia is distancing itself from such “unreliable, compromised” currencies.

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