Putin at EEF Presents Optimistic Perspective for Far Eastern and Asia-Pacific DevelopmentBy Cynthia Rush
Sept. 7—At today’s plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, President Vladimir Putin was the featured speaker and in a real tour de force, laid out an exciting and very optimistic perspective for the development of Russia’s Far East and the Asia-Pacific region more broadly. This stood in marked contrast to his portrait of the pessimism and despair of the Western world, the United States and Western Europe—and particularly Europe—which is experiencing a dire energy and economic crisis as a result of imposing sanctions on Russia at the U.S. behest. While Russia still faces some economic problems that it must deal with and takes seriously, Putin said, its economy is in the process of stabilizing, and is seeing a gradual decline of inflation and unemployment.
The moderator of the session, Ilya Doronov, Managing Director of RBC-TV, noted in introducing Putin that there were five guests sitting on the stage and three more who would deliver video addresses, who together “represent the interests of over 3 billion people.” Among the guest speakers were Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and Prime Minister of Vietnam Pham Minh Chinh.
Putin contrasted the Western nations’ desperate attempt to preserve the old world order, “and obstruct the course of history,” to benefit only themselves, to “make everyone follow the ‘rules’ they invented themselves which they regularly break ‘to their benefit.’” They are completely “detached” from their own people, who they have put on the back burner in favor of the “golden billion,” while making aggressive attempts to force a “Western mode of behavior” on other nations “to extinguish their sovereignty and to bend them to its will,” Putin charged. Poor vulnerable countries especially suffer “life and death” crises as a result of U.S. and European policies, because they can’t afford to buy Western products.
But now, he pointed out, there is waning dominance of the U.S. in the global economy. “The entire system of international relations has recently undergone irreversible, or should I say tectonic shifts.” Emerging states, especially those of the Asia Pacific region, “now play a substantially bigger role. Asia-Pacific countries have emerged as new centers of economic and technological growth.” Meanwhile, the dollar, euro and pound sterling are no longer trusted as suitable currencies for performing transactions. “We are taking steps to shed this dependence on unreliable and compromised foreign currencies. By the way, even allies of the United States are gradually reducing their dollar assets…”
The Russian President described in great detail the optimistic and far-reaching plans his government has envisioned for the development of Russia’s Far East, including plans for domestic development, as well as many raw materials, infrastructure and connectivity projects that extend beyond Russia itself. Russia has “big plans” for transportation infrastructure, railways and roads, seaports and pipelines, he reported. Far Eastern ports are seeing a real “logistics boom,” he observed, with an increasing volume of cargo transshipment and container handling.
He explained that eastward infrastructure will include developing the North-South International Transport Corridor and ports of the Azov-Black Sea basin which will open up more opportunities for Russian companies “to enter the markets of Iran, India, the Middle East and Africa and, of course, the reciprocal deliveries from these countries.” Take note, Putin said, given these projects and plans for expansion, “no matter how much someone might like to isolate Russia, it is impossible to do it…. It is enough to just look at the map.” And keep in mind, he said, that “an absolute majority of Asia Pacific countries reject the destructive logic of sanctions. Their business relations are focused on mutual advantage.”