Modi joins Xi and questions Ukraine's war with Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday that he would do "everything possible to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible.

19 September 2022 Monday 11:42
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Modi joins Xi and questions Ukraine's war with Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday that he would do "everything possible to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible." Putin responded in this way to the Indian president, who would have questioned the meaning of the conflict at the meeting. “I know that now is not the time for wars and we have talked about it,” Modi explained after the meeting they held in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, site of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.

Putin blamed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, for the lack of peace negotiations. "Unfortunately, the other party, the leaders of Ukraine, have expressed their rejection of the negotiation, because they want to achieve their goals by military means," said the Russian leader.

This has not been a comfortable summit for Putin, whose troops are experiencing serious difficulties in Ukraine. On Thursday, in his bilateral meeting with Xi, he acknowledged that his Chinese counterpart harbors "questions and concerns" about the future of the conflict, to which he said he would answer behind closed doors.

In his speech, Xi Jinping insisted on the need for stability in an increasingly chaotic and unpredictable world. China does not want unpleasant surprises, especially not in its immediate vicinity. Therefore, the Chinese president asked his regional partners, including Russia, to resist any foreign interference that seeks to instigate popular revolutions in his territories. Not a new Tahrir or Euromaidan to bring uncertainty to its borders. In addition to Russia and China, the group includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and India.

China is allergic to popular movements that have brought down regimes in former Soviet Union countries. Beijing believes that Western interests hide behind a façade of fighting for human rights and democracy. This is how he denounced it in the anti-government protests in Hong Kong in 2019, when he accused Washington of inciting mobilizations to undermine his authority in the former colony.

Xi also called for greater cooperation among SCO members to prevent "terrorist and extremist forces from endangering regional security." Along these lines, he advocated setting in motion the organization's mechanisms to help the Afghan authorities create "inclusive" political structures and eliminate the "breeding ground" for terrorism. To do this, he announced that he intends to train 2,000 members of the security forces of the member countries over the next five years by opening a base for the training of "anti-terrorist specialists" in their territory.

Countries like Kazakhstan were receptive. Its president, Kasim-Yomart Tokáyev, recalled that regional security is a priority and proposed expanding "political-military cooperation" between the ministries of Defense and the intelligence services of the attendees. The country was the scene of a violent uprising in January that forced its leader to request help from the post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization. For their part, the leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Sadyr Japarov and Emomali Rakhmon respectively, agreed to a ceasefire and the withdrawal of their troops after border clashes in a disputed area that in recent days have left at least three dead.

The SCO was founded at the turn of the century by Russia and China to counteract US influence and bolster regional security. Yesterday's meeting of their leaders was part of Xi's first trip abroad since the pandemic began, a symptom of the importance Beijing attaches to the meeting.

China considers the Central Asian region key for its commercial expansion and the power to guarantee its energy security, the stability of problematic regions such as Xinjiang - home to the battered Uyghur minority - or the military defense of its borders. As highly valued territory for its multibillion-dollar New Silk Road, Beijing has not hesitated to finance and build rail lines, highways, dry ports and gas pipelines. Furthermore, the end of the US military presence in Afghanistan last year reduced Washington's role as a geopolitical counterweight in the area. Now, with Russia's invasion of Ukraine and setbacks to its troops on the battlefield, Beijing has even more room to further expand its influence.

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday defended the growing role of the "new centers" of power in the world, which are not governed by the rules imposed "from abroad", in a clear allusion to the West. The president also supported the entry of Iran into the SCO, which was formalized during the summit, and the future entry of Belarus.



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