Jun 18, 2022
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About sanctions and friendship

“If a friend suddenly turned out to be neither a friend nor an enemy, and so…”

In the era of the West’s sanctions war against Russia, our fellow citizens were asked to divide the whole world into two parts: 1) “unfriendly states”; 2) all others.

Unfriendly countries include those that, according to the decree of the President of the Russian Federation of March 5 this year, commit “in relation to the Russian Federation, Russian legal entities and individuals, unfriendly actions“. The government has compiled a list of unfriendly states. It includes 48 states and territories. Of course, the USA, Ukraine, as well as Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea. More than half of the persons on the list are the countries of the European Union (27 states). There are several relatively small states and territories: Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Taiwan, etc. For many people on the list, the main (or even the only) type of “unfriendly actions” is the imposition of sanctions against the Russian Federation, Russian legal entities and individuals.

There are almost two hundred states in the world. Does this mean that those one and a half hundred states that are not included in the list of “unfriendly” are Russia’s friends? Or even allies? Of course not. Most of them are neutral in relation to the war that the collective West is waging against Russia. However, among this one and a half hundred states, one can still find those who call themselves “friends”, “allies”, “like-minded people” of Russia.

Of course, China can and should be included here. In early February, during the Winter Olympic Games held in China, the leaders of China and Russia announced that our states are now close allies. Previously, they used the word “partners”, since February it has been replaced by the word “allies”. Prior to this, close relations were in the sphere of trade and economics, now they have spread to politics (and, probably, the military sphere).

But the status of “partners” of Russia is probably deserved by the countries that are members of the BRICS group: India, Brazil, South Africa. Also, the SCO countries (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) – 9 members (among them, again, China and India; also Iran, Pakistan and 5 Central Asian republics) and 3 observers. Probably, not only partners, but also allies of Russia should be considered the states that are members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU): Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia. They cannot but be allies, being members of the CSTO.

Probably, the list of close partners and allies of Russia is not exhausted by this. These include Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua. By the way, the other day Russia and Nicaragua signed an agreement on the establishment of a Russian military base in this Latin American country. This is definitely not just a partnership, but an alliance.

It turns out that out of a hundred and fifty countries, only ten percent can be considered as close partners and allies. Not much. But not a little, given that among them we see China and India, whose population together makes up 2/5 of all the inhabitants of the planet, the total GDP is about ¼ of world GDP.

However, in order to avoid illusions and disappointments (especially political and economic mistakes), we need to take a deeper look at who really is a close partner and ally. Words from a song come to mind Vladimir Vysotsky:

If a friend suddenly turned out to be neither a friend nor an enemy, but just like that.
If you don’t know right away if it’s good or bad.
Pull the guy into the mountains, take a chance, don’t leave him alone
Let him be in a bundle with you, – there you will understand who he is.

Now Washington is helping to understand who is a “friend” and who is “not a friend and not an enemy, but just like that.” The Americans are testing Russian partners with the help of so-called secondary sanctions; warns the so-called non-aligned: if you violate our sanctions against Russia, we ourselves will impose sanctions on you.

I have already written about China. Beijing, which swore friendship with Moscow back in February, has been implementing all the sanctions of the collective West against Russia for almost four months. Assistant to the President of the United States for National Security Jake Sullivanspeaking on June 16 at a conference of the Washington Center for a New American Security, said:We have not seen China move forward in any form in direct military assistance. <...> or [совершении] systematic efforts to help Russia avoid sanctions and export controls.”

The conclusion is simple: one should not place excessive hopes that the eastern neighbor will help us in the sanctions war. Beijing is between two fires. We need to rely on our own strength.

There was confidence that the countries of the near abroad, members of the EAEU, would firmly and irrevocably take the side of the Russian Federation, lend her a shoulder. After all, they are not only economic partners, but also our military-political allies through the CSTO. Alas, for our neighbors Washington turns out to be a greater authority than Moscow. Russia’s partners in the EAEU comply with anti-Russian sanctions, fearing secondary sanctions from the West.

April 1 First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Kazakhstan Timur Suleimenov said in an interview Euroactivethat Kazakhstan will not be a tool to circumvent US and EU sanctions against Russia. “We will comply with the sanctions. Although we are part of an economic union with Russia, Belarus and other countries, we are also part of the international community. The last thing we want is for secondary US and EU sanctions to be applied to Kazakhstan”, Suleimenov said.

The President of Kazakhstan spoke frankly about the same Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on the eve of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum:Sanctions are sanctions, we should not violate them, especially since we receive notifications that in case of violation of sanctions, so-called secondary sanctions from the West against our economy will follow. There is a very complex, delicate work going on, which I could call the passage between Scylla and Charybdis… The situation is unique. No one could have expected that we would live in this very reality.“.

April in an interview RBC Minister of Economy of Armenia Vahan Kerobyan acknowledged that Armenian banks and companies are afraid of falling under secondary sanctions: “In fact, we are watching very carefully so as not to fall under sanctions, because this does not correspond to our interests in any way. We want to work in such a way as to avoid this… European and American colleagues have made it clear that they would not want to use negative tools in relation to Armenia“.

And here is the news from another country that is a member of the EAEU – Kyrgyzstan. There, sanctions against Russia synchronized with the European Union came into force in May. Kyrgyzstan will stop purchasing a number of goods and, in turn, will limit the supply of agricultural, food and high-tech products to Russia. An agreement on this was reached in March at the European Future summit in Bishkek with the participation of representatives from Brussels. Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Mukhammetkaly Abulgaziev commented on the imposition of anti-Russian sanctions: “This decision was not as easy for us as it seems from the outside, but we are sure that we are doing everything right. Our way Europe, our future home The European Union, and we must show maximum loyalty, even if it could theoretically damage relations with former partners. On the other hand, Moscow is also well aware that we are defending our interests and our future. I am sure that President Putin will understand and approve our decision.“.

Strange, to put it mildly, is the situation in the Eurasian Economic Union. Three of its members participate on the side of Washington and Brussels in the sanctions against Russia, which is the main participant, the core of this integration group.

The dynamics of mutual investments does not yet indicate the success of economic integration: the total accumulated volume of mutual investments in the period 2015–2021 decreased by 1.4% – from 17.1 billion to 16.8 billion dollars. A particularly noticeable decrease occurred last year – by 8.8% compared to 2020. The vast majority of mutual investments come from Russia’s investments in the economies of other member countries. It is believed that in more or less mature integration associations, out of the total volume of international trade of the member countries, mutual trade accounts for at least 40%; in the EAEU this figure is estimated at 10%. The main trade interests of the EAEU member countries (with the exception of Belarus) are not in Russia, but outside this integration grouping. Hence the explanation why Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are so obediently fulfilling the sanctions of the collective West against Russia.

Belarus is an exception in the EAEU. Even before the sanctions war, Russia was the main trade and economic partner for this state. Russia accounted for 49.0 percent of the value of foreign trade in goods in 2021; including 41.1 percent of exports, 56.6 percent of imports. In addition, Belarus found itself under almost the same sanctions as Russia. Belarus without any reservations can be called an ally of Russia.

By the way, if you look at other states from this angle, then the probability of finding a real ally is greater among those countries that are already under the sanctions of the collective West. These are Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea and others. By the way, the situation around Taiwan has become very aggravated today. Events around this island may develop in such a way that the United States and its allies will launch a powerful sanctions salvo against China. If this happens, there is a high probability that China will turn from a nominal ally of Russia into a real one.

In general, you need to remember the words Emperor Alexander IIIwho said: “Russia has only two allies its army and navy“.

P.FROM. A few words about the concept of “unfriendly states”, which we have come into circulation. The term is not very clear and correct. Here we need to observe the principle of mirroring. Some of us from the list of “unfriendly” are called “enemy”, “enemy”, “enemy”. English terms: enemy, hostile, enemy, enemy, enemy. The US and NATO officially call Russia an adversary. It seems to me that it would be advisable to single out a group of countries with the name “enemy” in the list of unfriendly countries. And in the group of adversaries, in turn, to single out those that deserve the title of “main adversary” (GP). In Soviet times, the United States and NATO were classified as GPs. They seem to have remained that way ever since.

Photo: REUTERS/Florence Lo

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