Putin marshals a united Eurasian front to counter Western sanctions

By Ateet Sharmma

New Delhi. May 26: The first Eurasian Economic Forum kicks off in Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek on Thursday as Russia battles unprecedented sanctions amid the ongoing conflict with Ukraine which is having much wider ramifications not just in the region but all over the world.

The Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, will be meeting in the backdrop of Moscow vowing to raise cooperation with post-Soviet states located in the region to a "qualitatively new level of allied relations" to counter a wide range of "modern challenges and threats".

Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak at the plenary session virtually and share his views on 'Eurasian economic integration in an era of global change - New opportunities for investment activity'.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko before the expanded meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Yerevan in October 2019

Besides Putin, leaders of other EAEU countries, including Kyrgyzstan President Sadyr Japarov, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Belarus PM Roman Golovchenko will also be attending the meet.

While the heads of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, as well as the Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Mikhail Myasnikovich will participate in the event in person, the Prime Ministers of Armenia and Belarus will, like Putin, join the discussions via videoconference.

Putin will also take part in the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council on May 27 which will be chaired by Kyrgyzstan via video conference.

"Topical aspects of the activities of the Eurasian Economic Union will be considered, including strategic directions for the development of integration until 2025. It is necessary to approve the guidelines for the macroeconomic policy of the member states of the Union for 2022-2023. It is also meant to discuss the development of trade and economic cooperation between the EAEU and external partners," the Kremlin said in a statement on Wednesday.

As Putin prepares for a long haul in Ukraine, Moscow has intensified interaction with leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Last week, leaders of the CSTO member states had gone into a huddle with the Russian President in Moscow to intensify their partnership.

At the meeting, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov had batted for a "common approach" to mitigate the consequences of the financial sanctions and prevent the deterioration of the socio-economic situation in the countries of the region.

"Our great concern is the sanctions war. The Kyrgyz economy has not yet recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, and the sanctions situation is already threatening food and energy security, macroeconomic stability and social stability, he had said while looking forward to hosting the EAEU bloc meeting in Bishkek.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus - a key Russia ally - had also stated that the pressure from the West, which according to him is "waging a fierce struggle to maintain its positions", will only increase if it does not encounter a united opposition from the allies and other integrated associations in the post-Soviet space.

Also Read: Putin bugles call for collective defence of Eurasia citing NATO's expansion in region

On Tuesday, Putin had a telephone conversation with Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev where the two leaders discussed ways to further strengthen the Russian-Uzbek strategic partnership and alliance.

"The key topics of the bilateral agenda, steps to expand mutually beneficial trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, as well as issues of interaction within the framework of Eurasian integration associations, including taking into account the current chairmanship of Uzbekistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, were discussed," said the Russian President's office.



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