The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum has been configured for years now as absolutely essential to understand the evolving dynamics and the trials and tribulations of Eurasia integration.
St. Petersburg in 2022 is even more crucial as it directly connects to three simultaneous developments I had previously outlined, in no particular order:
First, the coming of the "new G8" - four BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China), plus Iran, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico, whose GDP per purchasing parity power (PPP) already dwarfs the old, western-dominated G8.
Second, the Chinese "Three Rings" strategy of developing geoeconomic relations with its neighbors and partners.
Third, the development of BRICS+, or extended BRICS, including some members of the "new G8," to be discussed at the upcoming summit in China.
There was hardly any doubt President Putin would be the star of St. Petersburg 2022, delivering a sharp, detailed speech to the plenary session.
Among the highlights, Putin smashed the illusions of the so-called 'golden billion' who live in the industrialized west (only 12 percent of the global population) and the "irresponsible macroeconomic policies of the G7 countries."
The Russian president noted how "EU losses due to sanctions against Russia" could exceed $400 billion per year, and that Europe's high energy prices - something that actually started "in the third quarter of last year" - are due to "blindly believing in renewable sources."
He also duly dismissed the west's 'Putin price hike' propaganda, saying the food and energy crisis is linked to misguided western economic policies, i.e., "Russian grain and fertilizers are being sanctioned" to the detriment of the west.
In a nutshell: the west misjudged Russia's sovereignty when sanctioning it, and now is paying a very heavy price.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressing the forum by video, sent a message to the whole Global South. He evoked "true multilateralism," insisting that emerging markets must have "a say in global economic management," and called for "improved North-South and South-South dialogue."
It was up to Kazakh President Tokayev, the ruler of a deeply strategic partner of both Russia and China, to deliver the punch line in person: Eurasia integration should progress hand in hand with China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Here it is, full circle.
Building a long-term strategy "in weeks"
St. Petersburg offered several engrossing discussions on key themes and sub-themes of Eurasia integration, such as business within the scope of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); aspects of the Russia-China strategic partnership; what's ahead for the BRICS; and prospects for the Russian financial sector.
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