The leaders of Russia and China were in Kazakhstan for a regional summit, seeking to tighten their anti-Western alliance and assert their influence in the strategic Central Asian region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin left for the Kazakh capital Astana on Wednesday morning for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – a Beijing-led regional bloc that includes Central Asia, India and Iran.

Since Russia’s inception, Moscow and Beijing have deepened their political, military and economic ties. Attack on Ukraine In February 2022.

With Chinese leader Xi Jinping arriving in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, the pair see the SCO as an important forum for advancing their strategic interests in Eurasia.

“We attach great importance to partnership cooperation within this organization,” Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told Russian state media ahead of Putin’s arrival.

“We believe that the SCO, along with the BRICS, the other major association, are important pillars of the new world order, an engine in the context of establishing true multilateralism in global affairs,” he added.

Both Russia and China have spoken out against what they say is US leadership.dominance“Globally.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said earlier this week that Beijing believed the SCO summit would “help build greater consensus among all parties and promote the security, stability and development of member countries.” will help promote” and “advance lasting peace and shared prosperity in the world.”

Strategic partnership Days before Russia invaded Ukraine, Moscow and Beijing have been historic rivals for influence in the Central Asian region.

Five countries—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—are former Soviet republics and have historic cultural, linguistic, and economic ties to Russia, but China’s growing economic power and extensive investment in the region have eroded Russian influence. What is the challenge?

Central Asia is crucial to China’s Belt and Road international infrastructure development plan. The region is rich in natural resources and is extremely important for land transport of goods between China and Europe.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has also been seen as a way for other powers to penetrate into regions traditionally associated with Moscow.

Extremely closed Turkmenistan is not a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but four others are, along with India, Iran and Pakistan. The nine-member bloc is complemented by 14 “dialogue partners”, such as Turkey and several Gulf states.

Along with key forum meetings, the Kremlin said Putin planned to hold bilateral meetings with a number of leaders at the summit, possibly including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

NATO member Turkey is positioning itself as a potential mediator in the Ukraine conflict.

Belarus, Russia’s closest ally, is expected to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at the summit after announcing at the 2023 summit that it would become a member. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was also scheduled to address the two-day summit on Thursday.

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