Reuters: “Moscow looks East from Russia's window to Europe”

8:51 09.06.2024 •

Photo: Roscongress

Cut off from the West, Russia is pitching its $2 trillion economy to giants like China and Saudi Arabia and longer-term prospects like Zimbabwe and Afghanistan at its St. Petersburg economic forum (photo), which was founded by the tsars as a ‘window to Europe’, writes Reuters.

The theme of the Forum is the statement: "The foundation of a multipolar world is the formation of new points of growth."

Since Peter the Great laid the foundations of the modern Russian state and made St Petersburg the capital in the early 18th Century, Russia's rulers have looked to the West as a source of technology, investment and ideas.

The war in Ukraine has led to the biggest upheaval in Russia's relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and Western sanctions have forced a once-in-a-century revolution in Russia's economic relations.

Since 2022 President Vladimir Putin pivot towards Asia and the rest of the non-Western world amid what the Kremlin says amounts to an economic blockade by the United States and its European allies.

Western sanctions have not torpedoed Russia's economy, however, and Moscow has nurtured ties with China, major regional powers in the Middle East and across Africa and Latin America.

Bolivian President Luis Arce, who will join Putin at the main session of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, said he wanted to share the experience of Bolivia's new economic model - with a big state - since 2006.

"We have our own economic model, which we have been implementing since 2006, and we want to share this experience," Arce told Putin.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is attending, as are 45 other foreign officials including the Saudi energy minister, Oman's minister of trade and commerce, and a senior Taliban official.

Russia's economy has shown resilience in the face of stringent Western sanctions.

From many foreign attendees there was praise for Russia.

"This year's event has grown in size... There are a lot of opportunities," Nebeolisa Anako, an official from Nigeria, told Reuters.

"The West may be actually isolating themselves as they are a minority in the world, although a very important part of the world. It is always better to cooperate with other parts of the world."

Other officials from Africa and the Middle East echoed those words.

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman met Putin's energy point man, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, at the forum.

Novak said "friendly countries" took the vast majority of its oil exports and that about 70% of it was paid for in national currencies.

"We already supply 95% of oil and petroleum products to friendly countries this year in four months," Novak said.


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