Back at the wall, Putin returned empty-handed from Samarkand

Posted September 18, 2022, 10:03 AM

Right in his boots, Vladimir Putin continues to be confident and defiant on the Ukrainian front. “Our plan does not require any changes. We are not in a hurry,” assured the head of the Kremlin to journalists after two days of international meetings between friends and colleagues in Samarkand.

In the historic city of Uzbekistan, host at the end of last week in the heart of Central Asia at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that brought together fifteen heads of state, he wanted to prove to the West that Russia is not isolated in the east. Between frank hugs and fixed smiles, between geopolitics and energy pendants, he increased individual meetings with his “allied” counterparts to counter Western influence.

No verbal support from allies

However, in the balance time, the images of warm handshakes and informal aperitifs around Uzbek dishes passed into the background. In fact, Vladimir Putin returned empty-handed on the important front in his eyes, Ukraine. While Moscow is again accused by the West of turning a blind eye to suspicions of crimes committed by its army in Izium, after the discovery of hundreds of bodies buried in this city taken by Kyiv, the head of the Kremlin did not get in Samarkand no verbal support from his “friends”. On the contrary, almost seven months after the start of his “special military operation” according to the official humble.

By Vladimir Putin’s own admission, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his “concerns” to him behind the scenes. In the plenary session, his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on him to end the conflict “as soon as possible”. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Uzbek president who hosted the summit and in the midst of “perestroika” in his country, never stopped emphasizing the merits of “dialogue”. As for Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the head of Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic dependent on big brother Russia, he publicly insisted on the importance of respecting “territorial integrity”. Some leaders simply referred to “the Ukrainian crisis”, a careful phrase to avoid angering Vladimir Putin while indicating a shameful alienation from the Kremlin.

Rejecting Narendra Modi

Then came the thunder from Narendra Modi. In front of the press at the start of their bilateral meeting, the Prime Minister of India launched to Vladimir Putin: “I know that time is not in war”. Start with rejection or simply call for negotiations as explained by the Indian Foreign Minister during a briefing? “Smart ministerial flat to protect economic stakes. But this is actually the first time that Modi, no doubt under pressure from the United States, has dared such a refusal against Putin, de facto condemning his war,” a member of the Indian delegation told Les Echos.

Vladimir Putin is definitely talking about business in Samarkand. There is talk of redirecting to China 50 billion m3 of gas that was originally planned per year for European markets. India profits from selling Russian arms, oil and fertilizers at low prices. With Uzbekistan, contracts were signed for 4.6 billion dollars. And Vladimir Putin confirmed the sale of gas to Turkey, this “reliable partner”, with 25% of payments no longer in dollars but in rubles.

Another announcement that could cause trouble: the free delivery of 300,000 tons of Russian fertilizer to developing countries. But all this went almost unnoticed. Because, with his back against the wall, Vladimir Putin returned from the political Samarkand empty-handed.

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