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Putin and Xi to meet in Astana SCO summit

Putin’s attendance aims to show Russia’s resilience despite Western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine in 2022…reports Asian Lite News

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to meet in Kazakhstan on Thursday for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit. This marks their second meeting in two months, following Putin’s visit to Beijing in May to strengthen their partnership against the US-led global order and promote a “multipolar” world.

The SCO, established in 2001 by China and Russia, addresses security concerns in Central Asia. Members include Iran, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Observer states and dialogue partners include Turkiye, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

Putin’s attendance aims to show Russia’s resilience despite Western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine in 2022. An International Criminal Court warrant for war crimes against Putin has no effect in Kazakhstan, which is not a party to the Rome Statute.

The summit will highlight the strong ties between Putin and Xi as both face tensions with the West. Their partnership is crucial, with China providing diplomatic support and being a significant market for Russian oil and gas, and a key source of high-tech imports for Russia.

The SCO allows China to extend its influence, especially in Central Asia and the Global South, promoting itself as an alternative to the US and its allies. Erdogan might use the summit to meet with Putin, balancing relations with both Russia and Ukraine.

For Central Asian nations, the summit is a chance to strengthen ties with powerful neighbors. Kazakhstan, engaging with both Russia and China, also maintains relations with the West.

The summit will focus on countering terrorism, with Russia highlighting recent attacks it faced. While the SCO is not a collective security or economic alliance, it provides a platform for non-Western countries to gather and discuss significant issues.

This year, Belarus’s full membership signals Russia’s intent to bolster non-Western blocs. However, political differences within the SCO, such as the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir, present challenges in achieving collective agreements.

The Central Asian countries maintain a delicate balance between relations with Russia and China and their ties with the West. UN Secretary-General Guterres might use the summit to address disruptions caused by Russia within the UN framework.

Although major talks on Ukraine are not expected, the war will likely be a topic in sideline discussions among the attending leaders, reflecting its global significance.

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