Reprinted from Asia Times
The dogs of western fear and sanctions bark, while the Eurasian caravan passes.
And no caravanserai could possibly compete with the 19th edition of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Thousands of global business leaders -- including Europeans, but not Americans; after all, President Putin is "the new Hitler" -- representing over 1,000 international companies/corporations, including the CEOs of BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total, hit town in style.
Fascinating panels all around -- including discussions on the BRICs; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); the New Silk Road(s); the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU); and of course the theme of all themes, "The Making of the Asia-Pacific Century: Rebalancing East," with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Predictably, there's been plenty of anticipation regarding the BRICs New Development Bank, with big news coming next month at the BRICs summit in Ufa. Brazilian Paulo Nogueira Batista, the new vice-president of the bank, looks forward to the first meeting of the governors.
And on another key theme -- bypassing the US dollar -- it was up to Anatoliy Aksakov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Economic Policy, Innovative Development and Entrepreneurship, to cut to the chase; "We need to transition to conducting mutual settlements in national currencies, and we believe that all the conditions are already in place for this."
The action was not only rhetorical. Here's just a fraction of the deals clinched at SPIEF. Predictably, it's been a Pipelineistan show all around.
-- The pipes for the Turkish Stream pipeline under the Black Sea will start to be laid down this month, or at latest by July, according to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak.
-- Gazprom's CEO Aleksey Miller and Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis practically clinched the extension of Turkish Stream to Greece. They are "preparing an appropriate intergovernmental memorandum," according to Gazprom.
-- Gazprom also announced it will build a new double pipeline from Russia to Germany, across the Baltic Sea, in partnership with Germany's E.ON, Anglo-Dutch Shell and Austria's OMV.
In another crucial Eurasian front, India signed a framework agreement to create a free trade zone with the Eurasian Economic Union. Indian Minister of Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman was euphoric: "The two regions are big, anything done together should naturally lead to bigger outcomes."
Oh, and those were the days of Bandar Bush threatening to unleash jihadis on Russia.
Instead, a remarkable meeting took place, between Putin and Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi deputy crown prince and defense minister (the actual conductor of the war on Yemen). This was the logical conclusion of Putin being in touch, for weeks, with the new master of the House of Saud, King Salman.
The House of Saud politely spun it as a discussion on "relations and aspects of cooperation between the two friendly countries." Facts on the ground included Russia and Saudi Arabia's oil ministers discussing a broad cooperation agreement; the signing of six nuclear technology agreements; and the Supreme Imponderable; Putin and the deputy crown prince discussing oil prices. Could this be the end of the Saudi-led oil price war?
If that was not enough, on the Asian front the superstar executive chairman of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, went no holds barred to say: "It is high time for market players to invest in Russia." Beijing, by the way, currently estimates the value of signed and almost signed agreements with Russia at a whopping $1 trillion. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov preferred to hold a "humbler" estimate.
Well, if only other sanctioned and "isolated" nations -- because of their "aggression" -- could be capable of such a business performance.