Category Archives: BRICS / SCO / EAEU

‘Samarkand Spirit’ to Be Driven by ‘Responsible Powers’ Russia and China

Amidst serious tremors in the world of geopolitics, it is so fitting that this year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of state summit should have taken place in Samarkand – the ultimate Silk Road crossroads for 2,500 years.

Continue reading ‘Samarkand Spirit’ to Be Driven by ‘Responsible Powers’ Russia and China

In Eurasia, the War of Economic Corridors is in Full Swing

Mega Eurasian organizations and their respective projects are now converging at record speed, with one global pole way ahead of the other.

The War of Economic Corridors is now proceeding full speed ahead, with the game-changing first cargo flow of goods from Russia to India via the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) already in effect.

Very few, both in the east and west, are aware of how this actually has long been in the making: the Russia-Iran-India agreement for implementing a shorter and cheaper Eurasian trade route via the Caspian Sea (compared to the Suez Canal), was first signed in 2000, in the pre-9/11 era.

The INSTC in full operational mode signals a powerful hallmark of Eurasian integration – alongside the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and last but not least, what I described as “Pipelineistan” two decades ago.

Caspian is key

Let’s have a first look on how these vectors are interacting.

The genesis of the current acceleration lies in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital, for the 6th Caspian Summit. This event not only brought the evolving Russia-Iran strategic partnership to a deeper level, but crucially, all five Caspian Sea littoral states agreed that no NATO warships or bases will be allowed on site.

That essentially configures the Caspian as a virtual Russian lake, and in a minor sense, Iranian – without compromising the interests of the three “stans,” Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. For all practical purposes, Moscow has tightened its grip on Central Asia a notch.

As the Caspian Sea is connected to the Black Sea by canals off the Volga built by the former USSR, Moscow can always count on a reserve navy of small vessels – invariably equipped with powerful missiles – that may be transferred to the Black Sea in no time if necessary.

Stronger trade and financial links with Iran now proceed in tandem with binding the three “stans” to the Russian matrix. Gas-rich republic Turkmenistan for its part has been historically idiosyncratic – apart from committing most of its exports to China.

Under an arguably more pragmatic young new leader, President Serdar Berdimuhamedow, Ashgabat may eventually opt to become a member of the SCO and/or the EAEU.

Caspian littoral state Azerbaijan on the other hand presents a complex case: an oil and gas producer eyed by the European Union (EU) to become an alternative energy supplier to Russia – although this is not happening anytime soon.

The West Asia connection

Iran’s foreign policy under President Ebrahim Raisi is clearly on a Eurasian and Global South trajectory. Tehran will be formally incorporated into the SCO as a full member in the upcoming summit in Samarkand in September, while its formal application to join the BRICS has been filed.

Purnima Anand, head of the BRICS International Forum, has stated that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also very much keen on joining BRICS. Should that happen, by 2024 we could be on our way to a powerful West Asia, North Africa hub firmly installed inside one of the key institutions of the multipolar world.

As Putin heads to Tehran next week for trilateral Russia, Iran, Turkey talks, ostensibly about Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is bound to bring up the subject of BRICS.

Tehran is operating on two parallel vectors. In the event the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is revived – a quite dim possibility as it stands, considering the latest shenanigans in Vienna and Doha – that would represent a tactical victory. Yet moving towards Eurasia is on a whole new strategic level.

In the INSTC framework, Iran will make maximum good use of the geostrategically crucial port of Bandar Abbas – straddling the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Yet as much as it may be portrayed as a major diplomatic victory, it’s clear that Tehran will not be able to make full use of BRICS membership if western – especially US – sanctions are not totally lifted.

Pipelines and the “stans”

A compelling argument can be made that Russia and China might eventually fill the western technology void in the Iranian development process. But there’s a lot more that platforms such as the INSTC, the EAEU and even BRICS can accomplish.

Across “Pipelineistan,” the War of Economic Corridors gets even more complex. Western propaganda simply cannot admit that Azerbaijan, Algeria, Libya, Russia’s allies at OPEC, and even Kazakhstan are not exactly keen on increasing their oil production to help Europe.

Kazakhstan is a tricky case: it is the largest oil producer in Central Asia and set to be a major natural gas supplier, right after Russia and Turkmenistan. More than 250 oil and gas fields are operated in Kazakhstan by 104 companies, including western energy giants such as Chevron, Total, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

While exports of oil, natural gas and petroleum products comprise 57 percent of Kazakhstan’s exports, natural gas is responsible for 85 percent of Turkmenistan’s budget (with 80 percent of exports committed to China). Interestingly, Galkynysh is the second largest gas field on the planet.

Compared to the other “stans,” Azerbaijan is a relatively minor producer (despite oil accounting for 86 percent of its total exports) and basically a transit nation. Baku’s super-wealth aspirations center on the Southern Gas Corridor, which includes no less than three pipelines: Baku-Tblisi-Erzurum (BTE); the Turkish-driven Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP); and the Trans-Adriatic (TAP).

The problem with this acronym festival – BTE, TANAP, TAP – is that they all need massive foreign investment to increase capacity, which the EU sorely lacks because every single euro is committed by unelected Brussels Eurocrats to “support” the black hole that is Ukraine. The same financial woes apply to a possible Trans-Caspian Pipeline which would further link to both TANAP and TAP.

In the War of Economic Corridors – the “Pipelineistan” chapter – a crucial aspect is that most Kazakh oil exports to the EU go through Russia, via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). As an alternative, the Europeans are mulling on a still fuzzy Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, also known as the Middle Corridor (Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey). They actively discussed it in Brussels last month.

The bottom line is that Russia remains in full control of the Eurasia pipeline chessboard (and we’re not even talking about the Gazprom-operated pipelines Power of Siberia 1 and 2 leading to China).

Gazprom executives know all too well that a fast increase of energy exports to the EU is out of the question. They also factor the Tehran Convention – that helps prevent and control pollution and maintain the environmental integrity of the Caspian Sea, signed by all five littoral members.

Breaking BRI in Russia

China, for its part, is confident that one of its prime strategic nightmares may eventually disappear. The notorious “escape from Malacca” is bound to materialize, in cooperation with Russia, via the Northern Sea Route, which will shorten the trade and connectivity corridor from East Asia to Northern Europe from 11,200 nautical miles to only 6,500 nautical miles. Call it the polar twin of the INSTC.

This also explains why Russia has been busy building a vast array of state-of-the-art icebreakers.

So here we have an interconnection of New Silk Roads (the INSTC proceeds in parallel with BRI and the EAEU), Pipelineistan, and the Northern Sea Route on the way to turn western trade domination completely upside down.

Of course, the Chinese have had it planned for quite a while. The first White Paper on China’s Arctic policy, in January 2018, already showed how Beijing is aiming, “jointly with other states” (that means Russia), to implement sea trade routes in the Arctic within the framework of the Polar Silk Road.

And like clockwork, Putin subsequently confirmed that the Northern Sea Route should interact and complement the Chinese Maritime Silk Road.

Russia-China Economic cooperation is evolving on so many complex, convergent levels that just to keep track of it all is a dizzying experience.

A more detailed analysis will reveal some of the finer points, for instance how BRI and SCO interact, and how BRI projects will have to adapt to the heady consequences of Moscow’s Operation Z in Ukraine, with more emphasis being placed on developing Central and West Asian corridors.

It’s always crucial to consider that one of Washington’s key strategic objectives in the relentless hybrid war against Russia was always to break BRI corridors that crisscross Russian territory.

As it stands, it’s important to realize that dozens of BRI projects in industry and investment and cross-border inter-regional cooperation will end up consolidating the Russian concept of the Greater Eurasia Partnership – which essentially revolves around establishing multilateral cooperation with a vast range of nations belonging to organizations such as the EAEU, the SCO, BRICS and ASEAN.

Welcome to the new Eurasian mantra: Make Economic Corridors, Not War.

Pepe Escobar is a columnist at The Cradle, editor-at-large at Asia Times and an independent geopolitical analyst focused on Eurasia. Since the mid-1980s he has lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Singapore and Bangkok. He is the author of countless books; his latest one is Raging Twenties.

United Eurasia: Russia is Betting the Days of Total U.S. Economic Supremacy are Ending

The centre of the world is moving. While once it sat somewhere within the Atlantic, balanced between Europe and the US, it is now moving east. With Asia on the rise, Russia is now planning its role at the heart of two continents.

Continue reading United Eurasia: Russia is Betting the Days of Total U.S. Economic Supremacy are Ending

Russia, China Need to Move Away from Dollar to Reduce Risks of U.S. Sanctions

Russia and China need to work to further reduce their dependence on the dollar and switch to national currencies for trade in order to alleviate the risks of US sanctions, says Russia’s top diplomat.

Continue reading Russia, China Need to Move Away from Dollar to Reduce Risks of U.S. Sanctions

Energy Research Takes Priority Under Russia’s BRICS Chairmanship

After the Ufa declaration in 2015, BRICS, an association of five major emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, has made energy cooperation one of its priorities besides attaining an admirable significant influence on regional affairs and very active on the global stage.

Continue reading Energy Research Takes Priority Under Russia’s BRICS Chairmanship

The RCEP Train has Left the Station, Inspite of India

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a proposed free trade agreement between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its five FTA partners. In November 2019, India, the sixth FTA partner, decided to opt out of the pact due to domestic concerns against potential Chinese flooding of its agriculture sector.

Continue reading The RCEP Train has Left the Station, Inspite of India

Railway Partnership Agreement between Russia and India is Under Way

As is well known, Russian technologies are in high demand throughout the world, thanks to their high quality and relatively low cost. This applies both to technologies used in the space, defense and energy sectors, and to those used in everyday life, for example in the railway transport sector. Continue reading Railway Partnership Agreement between Russia and India is Under Way

Russian and Allied War Games Intensify vs. US-NATO Military Buildup on its Borders

Barely reported by the Western media, Russia has launched a series of war games in Europe and the Far East together with several of its allies.  These war games are largely in response to NATO’s military buildup on Russia’s Western frontier, in Eastern Europe, The Baltic States and Scandinavia. Continue reading Russian and Allied War Games Intensify vs. US-NATO Military Buildup on its Borders

Global Alliance Moving for A Checkmate vs the Deep State

Recent events have become too obvious to ignore in the context of the ongoing covert war between the Alliance and the Deep State. Right after what we believe as an electromagnetic attack on Ukrainian arms and ammunition depot, Crimea plunged into a day of terror when “face masked terrorists” stormed a public school in Crimea, which even Putin later on acknowledged as an individual unable to adjust to “globalization” – a generic term which may apply to economic, geopolitics and terror. Continue reading Global Alliance Moving for A Checkmate vs the Deep State

Bonus for the “Big Eight” in Qingdao, SCO Summit | Mikhail Konarovsky

The G7 summit in Quebec (Canada) and the SCO summit in Qingdao (China) took place at almost exactly the same time and once again clearly demonstrated the ever growing multipolarity of global and trans-regional development. However, while the Group of Seven meeting took a step backwards of sorts — or, put simply, actually failed — the SCO summit took a step forward towards its expansion and the further development of cooperation between the member states. Continue reading Bonus for the “Big Eight” in Qingdao, SCO Summit | Mikhail Konarovsky

Russia-China Real Gold Standard Means End of US Dollar Dominance

The BRICS counties are considering starting an internal gold trading platform, according to Russian officials. When this happens, the global economy will be significantly reshaped, and the West will lose its dominance, predicts a precious metals expert. Continue reading Russia-China Real Gold Standard Means End of US Dollar Dominance

Iran & China Seek to Eliminate US dollar from Bilateral Trade

Dollar dumping used to be mere rumor 5 years ago, but Tehran, Russia and Beijing are determined to find ways to avoid using the US dollar as a settlement currency in trade, according to a report by Iranian economic daily Financial Tribune. Continue reading Iran & China Seek to Eliminate US dollar from Bilateral Trade

A Grand Strategy for Peace

The ongoing development in the Eurasian land mass known as the One Belt One Road is patterned after Lyndon LaRouche and his wife’s concept of a Eurasian Land Bridge that will spur development for all countries being traversed by modern railway networks. This to them is the formula by which peace could be fostered through unity in commerce and peaceful exchanges of culture. Continue reading A Grand Strategy for Peace

The BRICS Strike Back

The wide-ranging Xiamen Declaration, issued in conjunction with the just wrapped-up annual BRICS summit, shows that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, although facing internal challenges of their own, may be about to step up their collective game, big time.
And they won’t be intimidated/derailed by the crumbling unipolar order.
Continue reading The BRICS Strike Back

Let's Get Ties On 'Right Track', China's Xi Jinping Tells PM Narendra Modi

In the last two weeks, both India and China are at loggerheads when the former decided to encroach into the Chinese side of the border in the Doklam. The incursion is related to the OBOR CPEC projects in Pakistan, which has been India’s geopolitical enemy since the death of Mahatma Gandhi – a legacy of UK’s highly effective divide and conquer strategy in the region, which saw the deaths of millions from both sides. Continue reading Let's Get Ties On 'Right Track', China's Xi Jinping Tells PM Narendra Modi

BRICS Financial Institutions to Support African, Latin American Development

Development projects in Africa and Latin America will henceforth receive greater attention from the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, BRICS bloc financial institutions such as the New Development Bank, NDB and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB. Continue reading BRICS Financial Institutions to Support African, Latin American Development

Leading the World by Example by Building Cities of the Future

China is offering the world a better way to move forward. It is not perfect, and has nothing to do with exotic technologies yet, at least not for now. But it is far better than what the West is trying to do, even to its own population. It has achieved so much in a relatively short time, i.e. has caused the upliftment of at least 800 million for the last 3 decades. Continue reading Leading the World by Example by Building Cities of the Future

China Proposes "Blue Economic Passages" For Global Maritime Cooperation

China continues to take the high road, and is making known worldwide what her desires are, i.e. instead of feeding the appetite of others to the unending of conflicts in carefully established hotspots on the planet, China wants to forge a “blue partnership” of mutual benefit among countries along the planned “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, Continue reading China Proposes "Blue Economic Passages" For Global Maritime Cooperation

Chaotic Washington is Not a Shining Example of Democracy

For what America has become, it’s now China’s turn to remind the nation of its lost values, or what it’s been preaching for the longest time. Its irresponsible actions and overall behavior have earned it, not respect and adulation, but scorn and condemnation, among nations . Is there a real hope for change in America? Continue reading Chaotic Washington is Not a Shining Example of Democracy

Belt-and-Road Blueprint is Now a Roadmap, Cancel the British System! – LarouchePAC

The world summit, “The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation,” hosted by China, is now less than a week off. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday gave a preview to the international media, on the attendance, agenda and key concepts of the May 14-15 event in Beijing. Continue reading Belt-and-Road Blueprint is Now a Roadmap, Cancel the British System! – LarouchePAC

Six of G7 Countries Snub China's Belt & Road Summit Due to "Dubious" Leaders

Decades ago, the West criticized China for being an isolationist country. Now that it is opening its doors for healthy and peaceful collaboration with them, the West is resorting to criticism and even tries to move into a protectionist stance. Suddenly, globalism became a dirty word, and capitalist “China is just promoting its One Belt, One Road Initiative to find an open market for its industrial over capacity. ” Continue reading Six of G7 Countries Snub China's Belt & Road Summit Due to "Dubious" Leaders

Deep State Plans to Nuke Russia & China to Deter BRICS-led Multipolarity

We’ve already seen how desperate the Western oligarchs are today, from their actions and rhetorics. This is fundamentally due to the failure of their attempts at starting a war somewhere far from their golf courses, and the breakneck successes of the Eastern Alliance in laying down the hardware, i.e. economic infrastructures, for a multipolar world of peace and harmony among countries willing to join them. Continue reading Deep State Plans to Nuke Russia & China to Deter BRICS-led Multipolarity