September 25, 2022

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Putin during Thunder Speech: 'Russian development is unstoppable'

Putin during Thunder Speech: ‘Russian development is unstoppable’

The world cannot ignore it: “tectonic shifts” are underway which have turned the world order upside down. The changes brought about by the “sanctions fever” of the “aggressive” West, which seeks to “rob” other countries of their sovereignty and, as usual, “submissive” to his will. Russia loses absolutely nothing as a result of the “military operation” in Ukraine. On the contrary, it only provides opportunities for the country.

A thundercloud from the last tornadoes of the season drifted away from the eastern Russian port of Vladivostok, but it appeared to be gathering immediately when Russian President Vladimir Putin took the word on Wednesday.

Putin’s thunderous geopolitical rhetoric reverberates in the packed public hall of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), a four-day international business meeting on the city’s Far Eastern University campus. The ultra-modern university is located on the idyllic green island of Russky between the Gulf of Vladivostok and the Sea of ​​Japan. Eleven time zones and nine hours fly east of Moscow. Next to Putin on the podium are the prime ministers of Armenia, Mongolia and Myanmar, and Chinese Party Chairman Li Zhanshu. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks via video link. The session is the most important summit since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.

The large hall full of invited guests is very dark, except for the stage. But outside, the late summer sun is shining over the rolling hills, and crickets are tweeting in the warm sea breeze. In front of the entrance to the Golden Horn Bay, dozens of container ships are waiting for a spot in the port. Hundreds of delegates from more than 60 countries gathered here for a week to conduct business, conclude contracts and share scientific and technical knowledge and information about the environment, climate and raw materials.

Putin has proven once again that he doesn’t care about international rules and anger

This seventh edition of the European Economic Forum comes at a time of rising international political tensions surrounding Russia, as well as the death toll in Ukraine. Adding to that was the energy war this week, when the Kremlin announced on Friday the closure of the Nord Stream gas pipeline as Russia’s response to European sanctions.

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It is clear to the Russian president that international sanctions are totally unjustified in Russia’s eyes. Just like the international outcry over the Russian grain blockade. Putin will shift the blame for that to Ukraine and the West in one attempt on Wednesday, which he believes would have triggered an international food crisis. “This is a deception by the international community, deception by partners in Africa and other countries in dire need of food. This is just fraud.”

Now that the window to the west has been closed due to war and sanctions, Russia must do everything in its power to open it to the east. This requires a “Russian orientation towards Asia,” which Putin says is the solution not only to all of Russia’s problems, but also to the world. Russia’s turn to Asia is the answer to today’s geopolitical challenges. A new multipolar world is being built before our eyes, in which Russia and the Eastern countries occupy key positions ”, reads the opening text of the glossy conference, which will be distributed in dozens of business pavilions of the Forum.

window to the east

But realizing its “multipolar” dream requires strong political allies and significant investment. Beyond Vladivostok’s geopolitical prospects, more is on the agenda: attracting much-needed foreign investment to turn Russia’s east coast into an international trading hub. “Russia is the only country in the world that can fully support itself in terms of raw materials. This benefits the population,” Putin says with great pleasure.

The problem for many Russians is that they do not benefit from the riches. Presidency ratings are also low in relatively prosperous Vladivostok: A third of the population will vote for Putin in the election, according to a local poll in June.

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It does not hinder Putin’s dreams. In Putin’s dreams for the future, development occurs not only in the coastal region, but also in the resource-rich Arctic region. There are minerals, diamonds, and energy resources available to grab, and the exploitation of the Northern Sea Route, thanks to climate change, looms large. In Putin’s vision, there will soon be new train tracks and gas pipelines to China, to share Russia’s riches with Asia. “The development of Russia is unstoppable,” said the president from his rostrum. And certainly not because of Western sanctions.

Critics in Russia and abroad question the feasibility of the Russian plans. The paranoid projects that Russia has been showing abroad often linger for years on Russian drawing boards and suffer from climatic and economic obstacles to their implementation, not least the corruption that is endemic in Russia.

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The question is whether China and other countries will allow themselves to be tempted. Beijing is ambivalent about Putin’s eastern adventures, to say the least. And whether China, which did not condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will answer Putin’s dreams is highly questionable. However, Putin’s speech is one that China understands well. The Chinese ambassador to Russia, Zhang Hanhui, praised the excellent relations between the two countries, the trade volume of nearly $100 billion, and the recently nominated Heihe-Blagoveshchensk automobile bridge on Russia’s southern border with China, the first between the two countries. All of this appears to be a prelude to the announced meeting between Putin and Xi Jinping, later this month in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand.

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military exercises

The Russian president already has an extensive travel schedule when he arrives on Wednesday. After a visit last week to the far west of the Kaliningrad region, he flew in 11 time zones east to the eastern tip of Russia on Monday. On Tuesday, he visited the large-scale military exercises “Vostok 2022” scheduled to take place in the Sea of ​​Japan this week. Fifty thousand soldiers from Russia, in addition to two thousand soldiers from China, India, Mongolia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Laos and Syria, carried out military maneuvers by sea, land and air.

In Tokyo, the Vostok military exercises have sparked unrest in recent days. Warships sailed dangerously close to the Kuril Islands, which are disputed by Japan. Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said he interpreted the exercises as a “show of force against Japan” and “watched them closely.” Putin did not care. In a speech on Monday on the neighboring Kamchatka Peninsula, he did not miss the opportunity to personally offend Japan once again, declaring Russia the new “Land of the Rising Sun”.

Putin demonstrated again on Wednesday that he does not care about international rules, sanctions and anger. After winning the war, creating a “multipolar” world order – with Russia firmly anchored in the Asian side – was Putin’s greatest geopolitical ambition. What has become particularly clear this week in Vladivostok is that Putin’s own quest for “a new place for Russia in the changing world order” has also been plunged into a violent spiral.