New Phases in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Ukraine ConflictBy Jason Ross
Sept. 13—This year’s meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, will include the in-person attendance of the leaders of Russia, China, and India, and will be the first international trip by Chinese President Xi Jinping since the beginning of Covid.
Comments from the event’s host, Uzbek President Mirziyoyev, point to an enlargement of the institution, which was formally created in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, with India and Pakistan joining in 2017. Now with three observers, six dialogue partners, and with guest attendees, including Turkmenistan, the SCO comprises the majority of Eurasia and serves as a forum for security cooperation and assurance, and mutual economic development through transportation, energy, and technology.
Speaking about the upcoming meeting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said, “We believe — in unison with our Chinese comrades — that the existence of a unipolar world is impossible.” The foundation of the unipolar world begins to “seriously creak and wobble. A new reality is emerging.” Improving bilateral relations between Russia and China are part of the new world, but must be seen in a broader context.
Consider Afghanistan, presently an observer of the SCO. Mirziyoyev writes in an article dedicated to the SCO meeting, that “Afghanistan that has played for centuries the role of a buffer in the historical confrontations of global and regional powers, should try on a new peaceful mission of connecting Central and South Asia.” International transport links including Afghanistan can bring development that will solve not just “socio-economic, transport and communication problems,” he says, but will also make “a significant contribution to ensuring regional security.” Only through the development of a more stable and prosperous Afghanistan, President Mirziyoyev writes, “can we create a truly stable and sustainable SCO space with an indivisible security.”
Consider that phrase “indivisible security.” This is the demand that all nations’ concerns be taken into account. Is the Biden Administration’s withholding of $7 billion from the Afghan Central Bank truly taking into account the best interests of Afghanistan?
In contrast to the image of “indivisible security,” promoted by the SCO conference, look at the geopolitical stunt being waged in Ukraine, where the target of Russia’s special military operation has shifted from being a Ukrainian military armed by NATO, to being a NATO military manned by Ukrainians. In terms of training, weapons, intelligence, targeting, and strategy, NATO is increasingly running the show.
The new phase is seen in the action by Russia to take out several power plants in Kiev-controlled Ukraine. This action serves as a warning that Russia could hit many more power plants, and represents a stunning shift in Russian military operation: Russia had avoided striking civilian infrastructure, even when it had a dual military use (such as rail lines, capable of transporting civilian travelers as well as troops and weapons).
In the fraught time of the Cuban Missiles Crisis, discussion was still possible, and indeed carried the day, preventing miscalculation between the US and the USSR that could have escalated, rapidly, to a nuclear exchange.
But today, the kind of discussion process required to reach a negotiated settlement taking into account a broad range of concerns and achieving an inclusive security arrangement is not just difficult — it is actively attacked through the cynical denunciation of those who favor peace as “information terrorists.”
Ukraine’s Center for Countering Disinformation and its Myrotvorets site exist not simply to attack partisans of Russia, as against Ukrainian interests. They exist to attack opponents of the geopolitical order itself. The goal is to prevent the coming into being of an international strategic and economic order that eliminates the power of the City of London-Wall Street-Washington nexus and its geopolitical and “green” projects — the sort of new order championed by the Schiller Institute through its conferences. This is why the Schiller Institute was the leading target of the enemies list that the CCD has been shamed into removing.
The needed victory is not that of Russia over Ukraine; it is the needed victory of a new paradigm.