Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

Who are Putin’s allies? Russian leader looks to Asia for help

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, apparently in fighting form for someone who never fully escapes rumors that he’s gravely ill, insisted Wednesday that Russia hasn’t lost “anything.” Never mind that according to U.K. estimates, 25,000 of its soldiers have died over these past six months in Ukraine.   

That topic never comes up when the Russian leader speaks. Furthermore, Putin continued, addressing an annual economic forum in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, Russia “cannot be isolated.” 

“That is impossible to do,” he said, “You just need to look at the map.” 

But Oleg Ignatov, who previously held jobs in Putin’s United Russia party but now works for the International Crisis Group think tank says, sure, Russia’s got people to talk to — from China to Azerbaijan — but what it needs right now is concrete help in the trenches to win this war. And that, Ignatov says, is not forthcoming.

 “Russia needs technology. Russia needs ammunition,” he tells Fox News.  

PUTIN SAYS THE US AND WEST ARE FAILING, CLAIMS FUTURE LIES IN ASIA

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. 
(Sergei Bobylev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

“Russia needs military equipment. Yes-everything.” Ignatov says, “Russia does not have any allies, except maybe for Belarus. But it’s not helping in terms of soldiers. And so, in terms of the military operation, Russia is in isolation.”

Putin was also defiant about Russia’s economy

“Russia is coping with the financial and technological aggression of the West,” he said. “I’m talking about aggression There is no other word for it. But foreign currency exchanges and stock exchanges have stabilized. Inflation is going down. The level of unemployment is at an all-time low. It’s under 4%.”

But Ignatov, like many who are watching the Russian economy closely, says, give sanctions a bit of time — perhaps a few more months — and they will have a more dramatic effect.  

Andrey Kortunov, who runs the Russian International Affairs Council, says that in fact so far the country is not in a deep economic crisis and Putin was at pains to project that from the podium in Vladivostok. Kortunov added, the deficits that exist right now in Russia don’t affect all citizens. And, he said, “Mostly Russians are not that connected to the global economy.” The state of course is a major employer. Moscow does have ways to keep employment figures favorable.

HOW IS THAT KREMLIN BANK ACCOUNT LOOKING?

Putin spoke at length about growing ties with the East as he was in the company of leaders and politicians from Asian countries. He highlighted problems in Western economies and said the future is in the East, where he said there are more than enough takers for Russia’s abundant reserves of energy. The Russian president called European plans for a price cap on Russian gas “stupid” and said he’d just close off the taps if that happens.

On Putin’s further claims that just about all Russians support his war, Ignatov said that probably more than half “do not oppose” the war. He explains it as part of the unwritten social contract of the Putin years in which Russians at some point decided collectively that politics are not for people. They, therefore, don’t need to take ownership of their government’s actions.

“It means the Kremlin is responsible for every political decision,” Ignatov says. “And Russian society does not want to see itself as part of this process.”

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And what does the rest of the non-Western world think of this war that many have not said a word against? Do they support it, I asked Kortunov, or are many just staying expediently silent?

“Most of these countries sit on the fence and monitor the situation,” he says. “They prefer not to take sides. They take advantage of the opportunities that arise from it. China and India get discounted oil. Each country plays its own game. Russia cannot count on any particular generosity.” 



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