Defending Russia: Unity, Resilience, and Steady Development

For a long time, external forces have been implementing a project near our borders to create from our neighbour, Ukraine, a de facto hostile state, an “anti-Russia.”

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During a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of State Council (via videoconference). [Photo Credit: Kremlin]

Following article is based on the speech by the author as the President of the Russian Federation, at the meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council

Naturally, Russia supports the draft New Delhi declaration, which outlines goals and tasks related to the further comprehensive development of our interaction and consolidated approaches to relevant international issues.

We believe it is important that all members of the association share their approaches to the situation in global politics, security, the social and economic spheres.

At the same time, our organisation is strongly committed to creating a truly just and multipolar world order, an order based on international law and common principles of mutually respectful cooperation between sovereign states with the central, coordinating role of the United Nations.

Most importantly, this is the constructive foundation underlying the SCO’s practical activity. Our organisation plays an increasingly important role in international affairs and brings a substantial contribution to maintaining peace and stability, ensuring sustainable economic growth of its member states and developing ties between peoples.

This is especially important today, when geopolitical discord grows bigger, the degradation of the international security system continues, risks of a new global economic and financial crisis increase against the backdrop of an uncontrolled debt accumulation by developed countries, social divide and growth of poverty all over the world, deterioration of food and environmental security. All these issues, with every one of them being complex and diverse in its own way, together lead to a significant increase in conflict potential. Russia is experiencing all of this right now.

For a long time, external forces have been implementing a project near our borders to create from our neighbour, Ukraine, a de facto hostile state, an “anti-Russia.” They funnelled weapons into it for eight years, condoned aggression against the peaceful population of Donbass and indulged in every way in planting neo-Nazi ideology.

And all this was done in order to jeopardise Russia’s security and stifle our country’s development. We are now, in fact, being subjected to a hybrid war, with illegitimate anti-Russian sanctions that are unprecedented in scale. I would like to stress that Russia is confidently resisting and will continue to resist external pressure, sanctions and provocations.

And in the current climate, our country continues to develop steadily. The Russian people are more consolidated than ever. The unity and high responsibility for the fate of the Fatherland was clearly demonstrated by the Russian political circles and the whole of society in uniting against the attempted armed rebellion.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member states who have expressed their support for the Russian leadership in defending the constitutional order, lives and security of its citizens. We greatly appreciate this.

We intend to continue to deepen ties with members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. These ties are becoming stronger and more diverse. Russia’s trade with SCO member states has increased by over one third, or 37 percent, reaching a record high of US$263 billion last year. From January to April this year, it went up by another 35 percent.

We are making wider use of national currencies for mutual settlements. In particular, over 80 percent of commercial transactions between Russia and the People’s Republic of China are made in rubles and yuan. The share of the Russian national currency in export transactions with all the SCO countries exceeded 40 percent in 2022.

Russia has been very active in implementing the SCO roadmap for the transition to national currencies in mutual trade, endorsed at the previous summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. It is important to continue this work, to take coordinated measures to remove regulatory barriers, to establish the necessary payment infrastructure and to create an independent financial system.

The implementation of the SCO Economic Development Strategy to 2030 will further promote regional integration. Russia has been in favour of strengthening cooperation between the member states in investment, banking and finance, as well as in industry, energy, transport and logistics, agriculture, telecommunications, digitalisation and high tech.

Of course, maintaining security in the member states and along the perimeter of the SCO external borders is a key task of our joint activities. The Organisation began with this activity and we will continue to promote it.

Traditionally, the SCO focuses on the situation in Afghanistan. Our colleagues have just talked about this, and this is a situation that, unfortunately, is not becoming less tense.

Counterterrorism, countering extremism and religious radicalism, curbing drug trafficking and other types of smuggling, combating militant formations must remain a priority of the SCO. I would like to recall Russia’s proposal to transform the regional SCO anti-terrorist structure into a universal centre that would be responsible for responding to the entire range of security threats.

Speaking about reforming SCO institutions, I cannot but mention that last year a decision was made in Samarkand to upgrade the Organisation’s activities: while preserving the basic foundations and principles of the SCO, to increase the efficiency of both the Heads of State Council and other bodies of the association, including in the economic area. Practical work has already begun, and it is important not to delay this process.

The expansion of cooperation between the SCO member states in culture, humanitarian issues, science, education and tourism is equally important. The SCO Youth Council, as well as public and volunteer organisations, and goodwill ambassadors are making their contribution to this work.

I would like to note that the ideas voiced by Russia a year ago about developing sports cooperation within the SCO and holding major sporting events in member states under the auspices of the SCO were met with interest. I would like to take this opportunity to invite national teams from all your countries to Yekaterinburg, Russia, where the International University Sports Festival will be held in August with the participation of athletes from the SCO states, as well as BRICS and the CIS.

Friends, I would also like to point out that Sochi will host the World Youth Festival on March 1–7, 2024. It will be the biggest international-level youth event, bringing together active, passionate young people from all over the world. Over 20,000 people from more than 180 countries are expected to take part.

The festival will offer ample opportunities for building direct contacts with counterparts, informal friendly talk free of ideological and political barriers and racial and religious biases, and for communication that will unite the younger generation around ideas of lasting, sustainable peace, prosperity and creativity.

We will be happy to see delegations from the SCO countries at this global festival of youth and friendship.

It is a matter of satisfaction that the authority and influence of our association continue to improve, and other countries and international structures show interest in its activity. Many of them are striving to build an equal dialogue with the SCO and considering getting involved in its work. They trust us and want to be friends and work together.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is now a full member of our organisation, and I want to offer my sincere congratulations and welcome President of Iran, Mr Raisi. It took less than two years for our Iranian partners to finalise all the necessary procedures, and now our common goal is to help our colleagues join the multifaceted work of the SCO in an effective way.

Russia is also in favour of early completion of the SCO membership procedures for the Republic of Belarus. We are confident that the membership of Belarus, which is Russia’s strategic partner and closest ally, will have a positive impact on the association’s activity.

Naturally, the consideration of the entire substantial portfolio of applications from other states that want to cooperate with our organisation in one capacity or another requires the most attentive and constructive approach. My colleagues have just spoken about this.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is a Russian politician and former intelligence officer, serving as the current president of Russia.

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