Posts Tagged ‘Cooperation’

 

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Turkey’s upcoming purchase of S-400 air defense missiles systems from Russia could trigger US secondary sanctions against Ankara, a new report on Washington’s relations with Ankara from the Turkish Heritage Organization said.

“There are concerns that it [deal] could trigger US sanctions in 2018 under the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) which was signed into law in August 2017,” the report said on Monday.

In December, Russia and Turkey signed a loan agreement on the supply of Russia’s S-400 air defense missile systems to Turkey.

Plans by Moscow and Ankara to push ahead with the proposed Turkish Stream pipeline will increase Turkey’s dependence on Russia for its energy and will also run the risk of provoking US retaliatory sanctions, the report added.

“In 2017, over 50 percent of Turkey’s natural gas imports came from Russia… Despite Turkey’s desire to wean itself off Russian energy, progress on the Turk-Stream national pipeline will do the opposite in 2018 and could even trigger US sanctions, the report said.

Continued US support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) operating east of the Euphrates River in Syria with US support indicates that Washington and Ankara will experience continued tensions on the issue this year, the report added.

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Washington’s Russia policy has failed, US experts note, adding that whether one likes it or not the US “has no better option than to keep trying to work with Russia” in Syria.
Washington’s Russia policy has largely failed, Thomas Graham, managing director at Kissinger Associates, and Matthew Rojansky, the director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, state in their article for Foreign Policy magazine.

“By any number of measures, Washington’s Russia policy has failed. While ostensibly suffering from diplomatic and economic isolation under a US-led international sanctions regime, Moscow has succeeded in challenging a wide range of American interests, most notably in Ukraine, Syria, and cyberspace,” Graham and Rojansky emphasized.

The scholars argued that the US leadership, both Democratic and Republican, have misread Russia in the last three decades. At the root of Washington’s misconception about Russia lies the belief that it can be either defeated or involved in the US’ fold.
“The next president needs to accept that Moscow cannot simply be defeated or contained in the emerging multipolar, globalized world order. It must be engaged through a comprehensive balance of cooperation and competition,” the US scholars stressed.
Instead of futile attempts to defeat or transform Russia, “a new US approach should deal with Russia as it really is,” they note, adding that it is still “a major power on the world stage.”
The scholars continued that the next US administration will have to convince Moscow to cooperate on issues like preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), recognizing the fact that Russia still has its own geopolitical interests which seldom overlap entirely with those of Washington.
“The goal should involve constructing a web of interactions, both cooperative and competitive, that yields the most beneficial balance for our [the US’] national interests,” Graham and Rojansky highlighted.
As for Syria, whether one likes it or not, the US “has no better option than to keep trying to work with Russia,” the US scholars believe.
They explained that Moscow has the wherewithal to maintain a longstanding military presence in Syria with Damascus, Iran and “perhaps even” Turkey supporting Russia’s Syrian operation.
The scholars noted that the much-discussed no-fly zone in Syria, championed by some of US policymakers, should be dismissed as unrealistic, since it bears the risk of igniting an all-out war with Moscow “in the region and elsewhere.”
At the same time Graham and Rojansky insisted that US-Russian discussions on Syria would have a greater chance of success if they were linked with the Ukraine crisis issue and the broader issue of European security.
Enea Gjoza of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government echoes Graham and Rojansky. The US academic believes that it is time for Washington to return to “smart diplomacy” while dealing with Moscow.
“A return to the smart, interest-based diplomacy that characterized US foreign policy during the Cold War is essential for making progress on intractable problems,” Gjoza emphasized in his op-ed for The National Interest.
“Particularly in dealing with other nuclear powers, coming to terms through diplomacy is the only way to safeguard our interests while preserving peace,” he added, referring to the situation in Syria.
In reality, the US and its European allies have no leverage on Russia, according to Moscow-based political analyst Irina Alksnis.
The West’s inability to influence Russia in Syria prompts Washington and Brussels to issue empty threats, such as to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court and hold Damascus and Moscow responsible for “war crimes,” she noted in her article for Russian online newspaper Vzglyad.
While there are no legal preconditions for bringing Moscow and Damascus to trial, the West’s intention to exert pressure on Russia and the Syrian government could be rephrased as the following: “We can’t defeat Russia and Syria either politically or militarily, so they ought to surrender themselves to us so that we can punish them for their behavior that we don’t like,” Alksnis remarked with a touch of irony.
The political analyst stressed that behind the hawkish rhetoric of some Western policy-makers lies their irritation with Russia coupled with their inability to swing the balance in the West’s favor.
Although the Obama administration has repeatedly signaled that it is considering military options in Syria, including arming the opposition and launching direct air strikes against Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Army, it appears that Pentagon and NATO war planners are not really ready to provoke a direct conflict between Russia and the US, Alksnis underscored.
That means, the political analyst suggested, that Moscow and Damascus will continue their counter-terrorism campaign in Syria while waiting for the West to adopt more cooperative and negotiable stance on foreign policy issues.

Territorial disputes and the ongoing confrontation between China and the United States may thwart any attempt to establish some form of collective security in the Asia-Pacific region.

The relations between Russia, China and Japan are becoming an increasingly important factor in the Asia-Pacific region. These relations span beyond politics, encompassing areas such as the economy and security cooperation.As of late however, the ties between the three nations have been dominated by territorial issues. While Japan may suspect that by forming closer bilateral ties Russia and China are pursuing some sort of anti-Japanese agenda, in fact, Moscow doesn’t seek to become a part of any bloc in the region.

Dmitry Streltsov, an expert in Japanese politics and foreign policy, told Sputnik that Russia adheres to a simple principle in foreign policy: avoid making alliances simply for the sake of opposing someone, and instead seek a balanced approach to all conflict situations. Therefore, Moscow is not ready to support Beijing in its territorial dispute with Tokyo over the Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyu Islands in China).

“As far as I know, the Chinese side repeatedly proposed an informal deal to Russia, asking it to support Beijing in the territorial dispute with Japan, and in exchange offering to support Russia in the Kuril Islands issue (right now China essentially maintains a pro-Japanese stance on that matter). However, Russia reacted negatively to that proposal, because its principle stance is neutrality,” Streltsov said.

Recently, Japanese media outlets and government officials began discussing the possibility of forming closer ties with Russia in order to contain China’s ascendance. However, it appears that Russia is unlikely to gain anything if it attempts to mediate the disputes between China and Japan.

“Both sides are firmly entrenched in their stances: Japan insists that there’s no territorial dispute while China strives to ensure that this issue gets recognized as a territorial dispute. I believe that they won’t budge, no matter who attempts to act as a mediator,” he remarked.

Streltsov also pointed out that Russia does not oppose the defense cooperation between the United States and Japan, and that during the last few years Moscow has criticized only one initiative of theirs – the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.

“Russia opposes the ballistic missile defense systems because they’re not subjected to international regulations and, established by one side, can potentially alter the balance of power in the region and create a new threat to international security,” Streltsov said.

According to him, Russia is interested, first and foremost, in maintaining international regulation over the military-political situation and ‘arms race’ in the region. What Russia needs is stability and mutual security guarantees in Asia.

“While such a name is not currently being used, what Russia stands for is some sort of a collective security system for the Asian-Pacific region. Therefore Russia is interested in maintaining dialogue on that issue with all countries involved, seeking to turn it into a multilateral process. In that respect, Russia possesses great potential, both as a mediator and as an author of such a security system. Unfortunately, the US-Chinese confrontation has resulted in a new bipolarity being formed in Eastern Asia, and this process cannot be reversed,” Streltsov concluded.

Amid the visit by Iran’s Foreign Minister to the Turkish capital Ankara, where he is set to meet an array of senior Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish political analyst Bayram Sinkaya tells Sputnik that the two countries are very likely to set up a platform to discuss the settlement of the Syrian conflict.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is on his official visit to Turkey on Friday to hold talks with high-ranking officials of the neighboring country, which is still reeling from a failed military coup.

Mohammad Javad Zarif comes at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu and is set to hold talks with Cavusoglu and to be received by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his palace.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif address a joint press conference following their meeting, next to a picture of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, at the Foreign Ministry in Ankara on August 12, 2016
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif address a joint press conference following their meeting, next to a picture of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, at the Foreign Ministry in Ankara on August 12, 2016

Sputnik Turkiye sat down with Turkish political analyst Bayram Sinkaya to discuss the possible outcome of the talks.

“The parties to the talks will unilkely set a joint mechanism for the settltement of the Syrian conflict on such a high level, as it was done between Turkey and Russia,” Bayram Sinkaya, who is Faculty Member at Yildirim Beyazit University, told Sputnik.

However, he added, Turkey and Iran might open a dialogue within a so-called “consulatory mechanism” where both sides could exchange opinions on the key issues in the bilateral relations.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan meets with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Istanbul, Turkey March 19, 2016
The expert stressed that it won’t be a Turkish-Iranian regional alliance, as both Ankara and Tehran don’t currently have the potential for such bilateral relations that could alter the balance of power in the region.

Nevertheless the two countries could set a platform for the comprehensive exchange of views and ideas regarding their bilateral relations and, in particular, regarding the settlement of the Syrian conflict.

The expert noted that the earlier phone conversation between Turkish President Erdogan and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani, where Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed his intention to more actively cooperate with Russia and Iran on finding the decisions to the regional problems, also might serve as a proof to his suggestions.

Radio Sputnik discussed the recent meeting between Turkish and Russian leaders with Professor Mesut Hakki Casin, a retired military officer who has lectured in military schools on international relations and international law for the last 16 years.

According to the expert, the meeting between Russia and Turkey is a positive sign, showing that the countries are opening a new page in their relations.

“The two leaders’ meeting in St. Petersburg reflects the perfect timing for a quick response to changing world affairs,” the expert said.

According to Prof. Dr. Hakki Casin, the meeting was very important for Turkey especially in the wake of the recent coup attempt. During the meeting, Putin and Erdogan announced that both countries were ready to restore relations and enhance economic and political cooperation. Moreover, the two leaders discussed ways to resolve the ongoing Syrian crisis and eliminate terrorism.

“Putin and Erdogan, in my opinion, have shown distinguished leadership and determination in the ongoing Syria crisis,” the expert said. “I hope, and this is very critical, that Turkey and Russia decide on a joint military and diplomatic mechanism,” he stated, adding that solving the Syrian crisis will stop mass refugee inflows to Europe and Turkey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Constantine palace in St. Petersburg

The expert also argued that Turkey and Russia have similar interests not only in Syria, but also in also in the Black Sea and Caucasus, in particular with regard to the resolution of the Karabakh conflict.Moreover, the reconciliation between the two countries shows that there is new alliance being formed which increases Turkey’s independency from the West, he said.

“Russia and Turkey have sent a strong messages to the United States and to the allies of the NATO”, the expert said.

Iran’s geostrategic location has made it the key link in China’s New Silk Road to Europe, while the Middle East has become one of Beijing’s geopolitical pivots.

IranandChinadeal

 

Following the inking of the Iranian nuclear deal, Beijing has bolstered its economic and political ties with Tehran and with good reason: Iran is not only a prospective supplier of oil and natural gas but also the key geostrategic region for the China-led New Silk Road project.

“Iran is the key link of the “Silk Road” land route to Europe, as it is connected to China by a railway through Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan,” Sarkis Tsaturyan, a Russian-Armenian historian and international policy analyst, writes in his latest report for Regnum.

The analyst specifies that he is referring to the Zhanaozen — Gyzylgaya — Bereket — Kyzyl Atrek — Gorgan railway, built between 2009 and 2014.Indian scholar and strategic affairs consultant Debalina Ghoshal echoes Tsaturyan’s stance in her opinion piece for YaleGlobal Online.

She points to the fact that since the signing of the Iranian nuclear deal, Beijing is emerging as a principal beneficiary of the agreement.

While the West is still reluctant to finance deals with Iran out of fear of violating sanctions which remain in place, China has jumped at the opportunity to outperform its Western competitors.

There are several reasons for China’s pivot to the Middle East and most notably Iran.According to the scholar, Middle Eastern markets are essential for Beijing’s New Silk Road initiative to create a network of manufacturing and logistics centers in Central Asia and Europe.

“China’s demand for oil imports is expected to grow from 6 million barrels per day to 13 million by 2035, and Iran, ranked fourth in the world in proven oil reserves and second in terms of natural gas reserves, is considered a reliable supplier,” she underscores.

Ghoshal points to the fact that China’s interest in Iran goes “beyond its energy resources.”

“It [China] has a keen interest in Iran’s geostrategic location, bordering both the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. The location enables China to carry out the One Belt One Road agenda,” the Indian scholar emphasizes.

Tsaturyan calls attention to the fact that Beijing is racing against the clock to build a route through Iran to the European Union: China wants to create a free trade zone with Europe to outstrip the US’ Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) project.Indeed, China’s European pivot is no less important than the Middle Eastern one.

“The ultimate prize in the Silk Road plan — also known in China as the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative — is someplace else: Europe,” Keith Johnson of Foreign Policy magazine wrote in early June, explaining that the EU bloc represents a bigger and richer market for Beijing than emerging economies along the Road.

Meanwhile, the Transcaucasia region has recently become a “battleground” for the US and China, Tsaturyan adds.

Indeed, while Washington tries to exert its influence on Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan — the former Soviet Republics — Beijing and Tehran are engaging the nations’ interest in the China-led project.

The analyst remarks, that in this context, Iran’s political maneuvers in Armenia and Azerbaijan have acquired a new meaning.

On the one hand, Tehran has confirmed its commitment to implementing the Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway project, with the Rasht-Astara section connecting the rail networks of Iran and Azerbaijan, according to Tasnim News Agency. The new corridor is set to become a multi-purpose route between Iran, Azerbaijan, Europe and Russia.On the other hand, Iran has abolished its visa regime with Armenia, prompting Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to raise the issue of a new transport corridor between the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea, which would connect Iran, Armenia, Georgia and Bulgaria, Tsaturyan points out, citing Focus News.

Regardless of Washington’s displeasure, China and its important Middle Eastern ally Iran are pushing ahead with their new infrastructural projects, aimed at unifying the Eurasian trade space.

And still, when it comes to Caucasus and Transcaucasia, it is Russia which can lend its helping hand to Beijing and Tehran.

A wide array of lucrative bilateral cooperation agreements have been signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during Putin’s visit to China this past week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have inked more than 30 substantive agreements on bilateral cooperation. They cover many fields, including energy and trade.The documents were signed during Putin’s visit to China, which took place between June 24 and June 25.

In honor of Putin’s arrival in Beijing, a Chinese choir performed Kalinka Malinka, probably the most well-known Russian folk song.

Bilateral economic cooperation topped the agenda of Putin’s talks with the Chinese President.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping
Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping

“We are changing our trade turnover structure, [steering it] in the right direction. This year, our exports of cars and equipment to China almost doubled, and we are very much grateful to our Chinese friends,” Putin told reporters after the talks.

Development of a new long-haul aircraft

On Saturday, Russia and China signed deals that will allow them to cooperate on the construction of a wide-fuselage long-range plane and a civil heavy-lift helicopter.

A memorandum on building a 250-300-seat plane to rival Airbus and Boeing was inked during President Putin’s trip to Beijing back in 2014. A similar agreement between Russian Helicopters and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China was signed in May 2016.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to China. Day Two
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to China. Day Two

As for the new helicopter, it is expected to make its maiden flight in 2020, and by 2024 it is supposed to be fully certified. The helicopter is likely to be manufactured at an aircraft factory in Tianjin; demand for it is currently estimated at about 200 units.

Russian Railways and China Railway

The Russian company Russian Railways (RZD) and the company China Railway signed a comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement and a framework deal on the localization of the production of rolling stock and railway equipment in Russia.

Although the sides did not sign an agreement on financing the high-speed Moscow-Kazan railway, President Putin pledged that  Moscow and Beijing will agree on its construction before the end of this year.

“We will coordinate issues related to the construction of the high-speed Moscow-Kazan railway by year-end, and a step forward in this direction was made already today,” Putin said on Saturday.

Energy

During Putin’s visit to China, the Russian gas giant Gazprom and its Chinese partner CNPC clinched a preliminary agreement on the construction of underground gas storage facilities on Chinese territory.

Separately, the Russian oil company Rosneft and China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation signed an agreement on the construction and delivery of a floating transfer dock facility for the Zvezda shipbuilding complex.Additionally, Rosneft and China’s Shandong Kerui Petroleum Equipment company inked a memorandum of understanding and strategic partnership concerning oil-related services, according to Rosneft’s chief executive Igor Sechin.

Bilateral cooperation on foreign policy and security

China and Russia cooperate closely in terms of foreign policy and security, and have demonstrated a common approach to a wide range of global and regional issues, including counter-terrorism efforts, President Putin said during a reception to mark the 15th anniversary of the  signing of the Treaty on Friendship, Good Neighborliness and Cooperation.

“It is this document that legally defined the strategic and partner character of relations between Russia and China, which are based on mutual respect, friendship and the recognition of each other’s interests; these relations not only meet the interests of our peoples, but also serve as an important factor regarding global and regional stability and security,” Putin said.

He added that by “building up the Russian-Chinese partnership, we relied on the centuries-old traditions of relations between our countries.”

“We achieved an unprecedented level of mutual trust and understanding, which allowed us to solve complex and very sensitive issues and which, most importantly, opened opportunities to move forward and bolster multilateral relations in various spheres,” Putin pointed out.

Invitation to visit a G-20 summit

Also on Saturday, the Chinese President invited Vladimir Putin to visit a summit of the Group of Twenty that is due to be held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September 2016.

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin meets with President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping

“We will meet on the sidelines of major international events before the end of the year,” Xi Jinping said after talks with President Putin.”I have already invited President Putin to pay a visit to Hangzhou in early September to take part in the G-20 summit,” he added.

Putin, for his part, said that Russia will provide all necessary support to China during its G-20 presidency.

The G-20 is an international forum for the leaders and senior financial officials of the world’s 20 major economies. The 10th G-20 summit was held in Turkey in November 2015.