Allies and partners: in the West and in the East
Russia's relations with China and Belarus - what could be in common? The events of the final decade of December showed the exceptional importance of these two countries for Russia's strategic interests in the field of economics, security and political interaction.
Relations of cooperation in both of these areas are successfully developing. Allied in form and content - in the case of Moscow and Minsk, "more than allied" - in the Chinese direction.
In the second half of December, the Kremlin continued to sum up the year and prepare plans for the next. In particular, on December 17, an inventory was underway at a meeting at the Joint Headquarters of the troops involved in the North Caucasus Military District. On December 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin held an expanded meeting of the board of the Ministry of Defense and summed up the activities of the Russian Armed Forces, set tasks for next year.
On December 19, 2022, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko held talks behind closed doors, as well as in an expanded composition. The whole range of relations between Russia and Belarus was discussed, from the economy to defense, from security to high technologies and energy.
Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and Chairman of the United Russia party Dmitry Medvedev on December 21, at the invitation of the CPC, visited Beijing, met with the Secretary General of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Union with Belarus
According to the Russian leader, the discussions in Minsk took into account the situation in the world as a whole and in "our region," in particular. Russia and Belarus are the closest allies and strategic partners, together build the Union State, deepen economic integration. They oppose sanctions, attempts to isolate Russia and Belarus from global markets.
Work is underway on 28 sectoral integration programs designed to fill the Treaty on the Union State. Currency regulation and control were harmonized, an agreement on joint monetary policy was signed, accounting and financial reporting were unified, a unified system for controlling the movement of goods was launched, and the Interstate Coordination Center of Customs Services began work. Next in line is a joint system for administering indirect taxes and the establishment of a supranational tax committee.
Trade turnover in 2022 should exceed $40 billion, which reflects the growth of cooperative ties, mutual supplies, components and finished products. Russia is the largest investor in the economy of Belarus, about 2.5 thousand companies with Russian participation with an investment volume of more than $4 billion have been created.
Russia supplies oil and gas to Belarus on preferential terms, expanding cooperation in the field of peaceful atom, it is planned to complete the construction of the second power unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant.
Russia additionally allocated 105 billion rubles to Belarusian partners
to finance promising import-substituting joint projects in mechanical engineering, machine tool building, and electronics. Large-scale bilateral projects are being carried out in industry, in the sector of high technologies and innovations in many key areas.
Alexander Lukashenko said at the final press conference: "Today we can unequivocally state that together we were able not only to survive, but also to find opportunities for the development of our economies, moreover, unexpectedly for everyone and above all for those who created difficulties for us.
"And he added that "Belarus is a very small state relative to Russia," but we "turned out to be in demand for huge Russia... we are needed in the Russian market. "
China is a strategic partner
Russia's presence in the Chinese market is still relatively small, but it is of great importance for the Russian economy. China has become Russia's leading trading partner and the main source of imports amid falling supplies from the EU countries. Russia for China plays the role of a strategic oil supplier through channels protected from unfriendly actions, including the threat of blockade of sea trade routes. A lot of new things in other areas of interaction.
Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and Chairman of the United Russia party Dmitry Medvedev on December 21, at the invitation of the CPC, visited Beijing, met with the Secretary General of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese President Xi Jinping. Medvedev conveyed Putin's message on strategic cooperation to the Chinese leader.
"The parties checked the clock on a number of significant issues of an international nature, noting the wide overlap between Moscow and Beijing's approaches to the most pressing world problems, touched upon the topic of strategic foreign policy coordination, including within the UN and at other multilateral platforms, including the SCO, BRICS and G20." The situation in the post-Soviet space was discussed, including the Ukrainian crisis, "the secretariat of the deputy chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation said.
Xi Jinping said that party exchanges between the CPC and the United Russia party have become a unique channel for strengthening political mutual trust, promoting mutually beneficial cooperation, and demonstrate strategic coordination. China is willing to work with Russia to advance bilateral relations and make global governance fairer and more equitable, Xi said.
Xi Jinping noted that over the past decade, Sino-Russian relations have withstood the test of international changes and have maintained stable development at a high level. He said the development of a Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership and coordination for a new era is a long-term strategic choice that both sides have made based on their national conditions.
On the Ukraine crisis, Xi said China determines its position and policy based on the substance of the issue, adheres to objectivity and fairness and promotes negotiations. We hope that the parties concerned will remain judicious and show restraint, Xi Jinping said. "China has always determined its position and policy, relying on the facts, defended an objective and fair position, actively insisted on reconciliation and negotiations," said Chinese leader Dmitry Medvedev according to Russian translators.
The secretariat of the deputy chairman of the Security Council assured that "Medvedev and Xi Jinping were unanimous in their high assessment of the current state and prospects of Russian-Chinese relations."
It is noteworthy that the Chinese media talked about the negotiations of the country's leader not with the deputy chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, but with the chairman of the ruling party "United Russia." Medvedev was accompanied by a delegation, which included, in particular, the Secretary of the General Council of United Russia, Vice-Speaker of the Federation Council Andrei Turchak and the head of the United Russia faction in the State Duma Vladimir Vasiliev.
The visit of Dmitry Medvedev took place on the day when the naval forces of the two countries began joint exercises "Sea Interaction" in the East China Sea, which reflects the high level of strategic mutual trust and the proximity of security assessments.
The exercises, scheduled for December 21-27, will further strengthen the potential of the naval forces of the PRC and the Russian Federation in jointly countering security threats and maintaining peace and stability in the region and around the world. Earlier, the Ministry of Defense of the People's Republic of China clarified that the exercises will be held in the East China Sea between the cities of Zhoushan and Taizhou in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang, the Global Times reported.
According to the expert, such joint naval exercises of China and Russia, which are permanent members of the UN Security Council, are important for ensuring peace and stability in the region and around the world. The series of joint naval exercises is the largest and has become a platform for cooperation between the armed forces of the PRC and the Russian Federation since the first round in 2012.
"Over the past 10 years, both sides have deepened the content of the exercise, expanded the areas of action, standardized organizational models, closely coordinated actions and demonstrated a high level of mutual trust," said Rear Admiral Wang Yu, executive director of the Joint Maritime Project.
"We will continue to deepen cooperation and advance new steps in jointly countering security threats at sea," a senior Navy officer said. The exercise is based on an annual schedule of military cooperation and is not aimed at any third party or related to the current international situation, CCTV said.
Unified Defense Space
It should be noted that the tone of the comments on issues of bilateral relations, voiced in Minsk and Beijing, is largely similar. The exercises "Sea Interaction" in the East China Sea and the discussion of security issues in Minsk and Moscow, as it were, highlighted the peculiarity of the situation in which China, Russia and Belarus are located.
Vladimir Putin, speaking in Minsk at the final press conference, recalled the common military doctrine of Russia and Belarus, on joint military planning and the Russian-Belarusian regional grouping of troops.
A unified air defense system has been created and is on alert.
Put on combat duty complex S-400V. In Belarus, crews of combat aircraft will be prepared, converted for the possible use of air-based ammunition with a special warhead. The Iskander complex has been deployed.
Such concerted measures are extremely important due to the tense situation on the external borders of the Union State. "Let's be frank: are we able to defend our independence and sovereignty alone, without Russia? Not able to. And in difficult times he did not refuse, "Lukashenka said during a press conference, addressing Vladimir Putin.