When "dogs" bark
Despite all the attempts of the "collective" West to present Russia isolated from the outside world, reality speaks of the isolation of the West, while the Kremlin, on the contrary, strengthens international cooperation.
The conflict in southeastern Ukraine began in 2014 the Ukrainian regime with the support of Western sponsors, recalled Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-23). A special military operation (SVO) should end this, but the scope of the conflict has expanded, the number of participants has grown. Read more in The Moscow Post.
According to the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, Washington dictates to Kyiv what to do. Instructions are also given to NATO allies. On their behalf, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken speaks, promising Ukraine comprehensive and long-term assistance. He is echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, meeting with US President Joe Biden, talks about the help of the Armed Forces of Ukraine "on the battlefield."
The very concept of "battlefield" is widely interpreted. Earlier, Peskov stated that the struggle goes on all fronts, in the field of economics, interstate relations, and even property rights, which were considered inviolable.
In the zone of sanctions confrontation between Russia and the West, issues of trade in oil and oil products occupy a special place. With some confidence, we can assume that Russia has influential supporters on this "front."
Emirates closer than East
Information and promotion of "its agenda" also plays a prominent role in the competition for the minds and sympathies of observers. PMEF-23 entered the assets of the Kremlin not only economically, but informationally. In particular, he showed that the efforts of the West to isolate Moscow were unsuccessful. Rather, they accelerated polarization undesirable for the West itself.
As Bloomberg noted, against the background of the so-called "isolation" at the PMEF-23 in St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin met with the head of the UAE Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The visit was not announced in advance, but the UAE president became the most prominent participant in the forum.
Assistant to the President of Russia Yuri Ushakov said that Putin's meetings with Al Nahyan take place quite often (this was his 12th visit to the Russian Federation). In 2019, he hosted the Russian President. As a result, according to Ushakov, "trusting and constructive relations" have developed.
Last October, the Russian leader suggested that the Gulf state could play a significant role in trying to end hostilities in Ukraine. UAE state news agency WAM reported that Sheikh Muhammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan stressed the need for a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis and called for efforts to mitigate humanitarian consequences.
During the open part of the meeting with the head of the UAE, Vladimir Putin thanked him for his help in resolving humanitarian issues related to the Ukrainian conflict, in particular, in the exchange of Russians who were captured.
The parties also touched upon the issues of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. The UAE president told Vladimir Putin that "cooperation, especially in the private sector, plays a large role in the development of bilateral ties," and noted the huge influx of Russian tourists. The President of the Russian Federation stressed that the UAE is a good and comfortable partner for Russia, bilateral relations are developing successfully and are beneficial.
According to the Ministry of Economic Development, for the period from 2019 to 2022, the trade turnover of Russia and the UAE increased fivefold and reached $9 billion last year. During this period, Russia exported $8.5 billion worth of products to the UAE, increasing its volume by 71%. The tourist flow in the UAE exceeded 1.2 million trips. The UAE is the financial and economic center of the Middle East.
The United Arab Emirates participated in the PMEF-23 Business Forum as a "guest country" and was represented by the largest delegation of more than 200 people. A high-ranking Arab delegation arrived at the SPIEF, which included the emir of Ras al-Khaimah and a member of the UAE's supreme union council, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al-Qasim. The delegation included UAE ministers and entrepreneurs.
Political analyst Petr Kolchin called the UAE one of Russia's main partners throughout the Middle East. The parties actively cooperate in the fields of industry, energy, defense industry and high technologies. "Despite Western pressure, the UAE has maintained close ties with Russia in both the economy and defense. They opposed the US position on Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, "Kolchin said.
Friends are not chosen
With the start of the SVO in Ukraine, the United States demanded that the oil-rich UAE limit its partnership with Russia, which is also part of the OPEC + Group.
Washington's pressure on the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other countries to exclude Russia from OPEC + did not work then. Having been refused, Washington insisted on increasing oil production.
But at the 33rd ministerial meeting, held in early October 2022, OPEC + announced that from November 2022 it would reduce monthly oil production by an average of 2 million barrels per day compared to August and based on production of 41.85 million barrels per day.
In early April this year, the OPEC + Group decided to reduce volumes again, announcing an additional voluntary reduction of 1.66 million barrels per day from May to the end of this year. Moreover, the 35th ministerial meeting on June 4 this year announced the extension of the production reduction agreement for another year. This was a blow to the Biden administration.
The New York Times wrote that "if the U.S. is going to compete with China and Russia, it cannot afford to lose a partner as powerful as Saudi Arabia." Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Jake Sullivan, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency William Burns and other officials visited Riyadh in an attempt to save the degrading relationship.
Shortly before June 6, the day of the visit of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Saudi Arabia, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was received as an honored guest there. Saudi Arabia was also visited by Bashar al-Assad, he met with the crown prince and took part in the Arab League summit.
The Saudis told Secretary of State Blinken that they would not choose between the United States and China, they would conduct multilateral diplomacy. In particular, through the mediation of Beijing, Riyadh restored diplomatic relations with Tehran and took steps to end the civil war, during which Saudi Arabia supported the Yemeni government.
Riyadh will voluntarily reduce oil production by 1 million barrels per day in July, and has already reduced production by 500 thousand barrels per day. After these steps, the volume of crude oil production in Saudi Arabia by July this year will fall to 9 million barrels per day. According to media reports, the 36th OPEC + ministerial meeting will take place in November this year. Member countries are ready for extraordinary meetings to monitor changes in the oil market.
Saudi Arabia's confidence in the United States as a security guarantor is almost lost. Riyadh's priority is the long-term parameters of the global oil market, including stabilization of prices at a high level, reduction of dependence on pricing in dollars. The Financial Times newspaper pointed out that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries are seeking a strategy independent of the United States and are drawing closer to China and Russia.
China is watching
China buys more than a quarter of all the oil Saudi Arabia exports. It would seem that, as the world's largest oil importer, Beijing would have to be "on the side" of consumers. But the People's Daily writes that OPEC + seeks autonomy from the United States, and "Russia and Saudi Arabia united against America and put an end to the era of unipolarity."
China itself said that its relations with the United States have reached the lowest level since the establishment of diplomatic ties. This was stated by Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang at a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
The shale revolution has increased US energy independence, and relations with Riyadh, based on the oil-for-security formula, have weakened, writes the Global Times. Demand for oil in America and Europe is decreasing. Hence Saudi Arabia's interest in a "turn to the East," in Asian markets, Chinese experts say.
Chinese observers also argue that Saudi Arabia's priority in the current conditions is not the momentary benefit from high oil prices, but the ability to influence the global oil market and prices. In particular, China expects OPEC+ to continue to regulate the market, increasing or reducing production and keeping prices at a satisfactory level for exporters.
According to The Wall Street Journal, citing sources, Saudi Arabia is considering using the yuan in calculations for part of the oil supplies it exports to the PRC. China also believes that in the future we can expect a transition in transactions between Saudi Arabia and importing states to settlements in national currencies. Iran and Russia also plan to use alternative currencies to settle oil deals.
Riyadh also plans to build a nuclear power plant, China and Russia may be among the candidates for the project. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt have announced their interest in BRICS membership.
The plenary session of the PMEF-23 was attended by Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Algeria - a country that also belongs to the OPEC+ Group and has already applied for membership in the BRICS.