Press review: Global South welcomes Putin win and China to step up Ukraine resolution work

MOSCOW:  Global South countries welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin’s resounding re-election win while the West predictably makes unfou...


MOSCOW:  Global South countries welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin’s resounding re-election win while the West predictably makes unfounded claims that the vote was rigged; Beijing stands ready to step up its efforts toward resolving the Ukraine conflict; and NATO is holding Arctic drills with new members Sweden and Finland. These stories topped Tuesday’s newspaper headlines across Russia.

Vedomosti: CIS nations, countries of Global South welcome Putin’s re-election victory

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s re-election victory, with a resounding landslide win in the March 15-17 presidential election, has prompted various responses worldwide that were largely predictable. While Western countries largely criticized the vote, the nations of the Global South and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) congratulated the Russian president on winning his fifth term in office, Vedomosti notes.

As if on cue, the West declared the election rigged and illegitimate. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and the German Foreign Ministry slammed the vote as unfree and unfair. White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby also described the election as unfair. The European Union castigated the vote, but Brussels’ reaction does not necessarily mean that the EU will not recognize the election outcome.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was one of the first foreign leaders to congratulate Putin on his victory. Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to Putin. Among those who congratulated the Russian head of state on his re-election were Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the leaders of a number of other countries in Asia and Latin America, as well as the CIS nations.

The West has not yet reached the point where it would openly refuse to recognize the election result. However, if such rhetoric prevails, Russia will have to downgrade its level of diplomatic representation in those countries that do not recognize the election outcome, political scientist Dmitry Suslov pointed out.

The West is engaged in a hybrid confrontation with Russia, seeking to bring down the Russian economy, achieve a "regime change" in Moscow and strip the country of its great power status once and for all, Suslov went on to say. Still, developing countries and "the global majority" are on Russia’s side as they realize that Moscow is fighting for a multipolar world. This is why they showed such a warm reaction to the outcome of Russia’s presidential election. In view of this, it is entirely incorrect to speak about Russia being isolated, the expert concluded.

Media: Beijing stands ready to step up efforts to resolve Ukraine conflict

Beijing is considering the possibility of participating in a summit on resolving the Ukraine crisis, which is set to take place in Switzerland, Chinese Ambassador to Bern Wang Shihting said. He also reiterated the need to engage all interested parties, including Russia, in efforts to resolve the issue. Beijing is interested in finding a solution to the conflict as soon as possible, particularly for economic reasons, but it understands that without Russia, the situation will only get worse, Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes.

Chinese officials have always called for resolving the Ukraine crisis with the participation of all interested parties, including Russia, Alexey Maslov, director of Moscow State University’s Institute of Asian and African Studies, explained. Secondary sanctions have been imposed on many Chinese companies over their cooperation with Russia. That said, China would like the situation to be settled promptly. Still, Beijing is well aware that excluding a key player like Russia from the process would hit China’s interests, too. It’s well known that Moscow has consistently supported Beijing in UN votes, which is highly important, especially since the Taiwan issue is intensifying, Maslov pointed out.

He does not rule out that Chinese representatives will attend the summit as observers. Since they understand that without Russia, efforts to resolve the conflict will only drag on longer, Beijing will insist on inviting Moscow’s representatives. This is in fact what the effectiveness of the peacekeeping initiatives under discussion will depend on.

It is precisely Switzerland and China that have recently come to the fore in terms of various peace talks, Valdai Discussion Club Program Director Oleg Barabanov told Vedomosti. Beijing may well take part in the summit but it will continue to emphasize the need to take Russia’s position into account. Meanwhile, if Bern wants to achieve significant success as a peacemaker, it will also have to search for compromises rather than just support Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s so-called "formula."

Izvestia: Experts see threat to Russia’s Northern Sea Route in NATO’s Arctic drills

NATO troops landing in Norway will try to replicate the experience of Russian paratroopers during the bloc’s Arctic Edge exercise, which kicked off on March 18, experts told Izvestia. In their view, the drills have two goals: to practice options for combat operations in the Arctic and to demonstrate NATO’s ability to impact Russia’s Northern Sea Route.

"The US Navy is stepping up its activities in northern regions, particularly conducting missile-and torpedo-firing exercises. This makes it clear that they are seriously considering the Arctic as a possible future battlefield. They are making preparations, developing various technologies, including under-ice operations," military expert Dmitry Boltenkov explained.

"NATO’s northern flank has been significantly strengthened following the accession of Finland and Sweden. A thing to note is that the Arctic offers relatively short distances between the US, Canada, Norway and Sweden. All this creates a threat from the north for us. These operations are definitely supposed to be targeted against someone, and it’s currently Russia," military expert Yury Lyamin pointed out.

"The West is very much worried about the efforts that Russia is making to develop the Arctic, the Northern Sea Route and economic activities in the region, as well as about the measures Moscow is taking to ensure security. It’s becoming increasingly relevant because southern communication lines passing through the Red Sea are under threat. The Houthis are doing everything they can to make the route more dangerous," Admiral (Ret.) Sergey Avakyants, ex-commander of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, said.

The Arctic Edge exercise is part of broader Nordic Response drills. Experts interviewed by Izvestia believe that Russia needs to keep a close eye on the activity to figure out what exactly the Western military is practicing and be able to come up with a response to these threats.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Further EU sanctions unlikely to hurt Russian food exports

The European Commission is exploring the possibility of restricting imports of Russian agricultural goods by the European Union. However, Moscow’s food exports to EU countries have already been on the decline for the past several years and the remaining supplies will easily be redirected to friendly countries, said experts interviewed by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Clearly, the mooting of such plans in the EU has been driven by farmer protests, which have been taking place in a number of European countries since early February 2024. In particular, farmers in various European countries are demanding that customs duties be imposed on Ukrainian agricultural imports.

As regards agricultural exports, the European Union is more of a rival for Russia than a target market, Russian Union of Grain Exporters Chairman Eduard Zernin pointed out. "I cannot say that there have been no supplies at all but they were occasional and amounted to hundreds of thousands tons at best for popular crops. It’s rather easy to redirect such volumes to more promising markets in the Middle East and Africa," the expert said.

The loss of customers is always an additional challenge but given the relatively small volume of supplies, Russian agribusiness is unlikely to face any significant problems, Boris Kopeikin, first deputy director general of the Center for Strategic Developments, noted. "What the EU countries won’t buy clearly can be supplied directly to friendly countries’ markets," he said.


The EU is also unlikely to suffer much from such restrictions for the same reason: the volume of Russian supplies is not that high. However, it will definitely face certain financial losses because it is currently economically beneficial for European customers to purchase Russian agricultural products.


 

Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Russian diamond ban to trigger billions of dollars in losses for West

Sanctions against Russian diamonds will largely hurt Western businesses, experts told Rossiyskaya Gazeta. According to them, such restrictions will not deal a fatal blow to Russian producers.


Western diamond trading companies may lose $20 bln if Russia is driven out of the market, Russian Jewelers' Guild Association Acting Director General Vladimir Zboikov pointed out. "In any case, they have already lost the money because Russia will do sales through different intermediaries," he added.


The goal of sanctions on Russia is to remove a major player from the market, said Vladimir Poroshin, an expert at the DragMetConsult counseling center.


On the one hand, it may seem that the ban will have a highly negative effect on the business of Russia’s Alrosa diamond producer because the majority of Russian precious stones are sent to be cut in India, from where they are supplied to Western countries. On the other hand, however, it is not clear at all how to trace the origin of raw diamonds. There is currently no proper mechanism for tracking diamonds, which typically change hands dozens of times, going from one owner to the next in various jurisdictions, on their way from the producer to the end customer. That said, the actual impact of sanctions will be rather limited at this point.


"Given Alrosa’s strong international position (with the company producing one-third of the world’s diamonds), one can assume that it will be highly difficult to drop such a big supplier, which is what other players on the diamond market are talking about," Poroshin explained.


In the expert’s opinion, if a tracking mechanism is implemented, it will increase the share of the "gray market," similarly to what is now happening in the oil market, while diamond prices will skyrocket, especially since global production is declining and intermediary costs are rising.

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Local Glob: Press review: Global South welcomes Putin win and China to step up Ukraine resolution work
Press review: Global South welcomes Putin win and China to step up Ukraine resolution work
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