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How Asia Views Putin's Victory

How Asia Views Putin’s Victory
Vladimir Putin’s resounding victory in the Russian elections has been met with varying degrees of cynicism in most western countries. In Asia, however, a completely different picture is emerging.

Adam Garrie, the director of Eurasia Future, a UK based online magazine, joins the program to share his opinions about this subject.

Adam starts off by describing the general reaction of countries in the Middle East. "The reaction from many Middle Eastern countries, from countries that are well known for a lack of a common front, has been overwhelmingly welcoming for President Putin. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt was one of the first to congratulate the Russian president, he was followed by leaders from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria. President Erdogan of Turkey was one of the first to phone Putin, I would say that Erdogan and Putin speak more together than just about any other leader does, so that's an increasingly strong relationship… so the overall feeling in the Middle East is that Putin's re-election is positive."

In the 'Stan' countries, Adam also says that the general feeling is also positive. Membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement and trading groups within and beyond Central Asia means that most Central Asian countries maintain a positive stance towards Russia. "We find that the Central Asian countries have congratulated Putin, and this is because he has paid a great deal of attention to these countries, and the Caucuses in general, in comparison to the situation in the 1990s when the region was ignored, to the detriment of both sides.

Perhaps surprisingly; as China has been busy with the latest Chinese Communist Party Congress, the Russian election has been treated very seriously. "Inherent in all of Xi Jinping's programs are relations with their neighboring superpower, with Russia….whereas in the age of Stalin and Mao it was ideology that united the two countries, today it's all about positive economics. It's about trade, about cooperation in energy in manufacturing, in infrastructure. For example, China is investing in a high-speed railway between Kazan and Moscow, which will connect many of the metropolitan areas in between the two cities. This is just one example; the arctic trade route of One Belt One Road is another….very shortly after he was re-elected, Putin stated how he to wishes to continue to improve relations between Russia and China, and Xi Jinping wrote a long telegram to Putin. Beyond any doubt, the relationship between China and Russia today is the most important in the world."

Japan's position does not seem to be really changing, and attitudes towards Russia and Putin could not be said to be very positive. Adam explains how he sees the Russia-Japanese dynamic: "Japan is a funny one. On the one hand, Shinzo Abe, the long serving premier has a very good personal relationship with Putin….but this hasn't always translated into positive developments. There are a number of reasons why. Firstly, the Japanese military industrial complex is so deeply engrained within the United States' apparatus within the region; secondly, Chinese products tend to be far more attractive to Russia than Japanese ones…"

ASEAN countries are the ones to watch in terms of economic development, and the Philippines are probably the leaders amongst that group of countries. Russo-Philippine relations have reached dramatic heights. Russia has given the Philippines weapons just a few months ago as a security good will gesture and Duterte has travelled to Moscow, met with Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, he's met with Putin, and the relationship between the governments in the two countries is getting very much better. Duterte has said a number of times that he is tired of buying weapons from the West because there are always strings attached….whilst the Philippines isn't shutting any doors to the US, they are saying well we are willing to deal with anyone and everyone…"

Adam says that Australia has sadly been "more or less a mouthpiece of the Anglo-sphere which is controlled mostly in Washington and a bit in London…" consequently, attitudes towards Russia and Putin's re-election cannot be said to be particularly positive.

What we are seeing is a remarkable split between the East and West, with the former, on the whole, welcoming President Putin's re-election, and the latter disclaiming it.

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