An article by: Editorial board

International organizations, from BRICS to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, are pushing for accelerated transition to a multipolar system. Many countries in the Global South are distancing themselves from Western influence and do not adhere to anti-Russian sanctions policies, which in the meantime have hit hard the economies of Europe, as well as Japan.

In Yangon, also known as Rangoon, the former capital of Myanmar (Burma) and the most important economic and cultural center of this Southeast Asian country, on Monday, November 7, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Nikolai Zhemenov, opened joint exercises between the navies of Russia and Myanmar. This will be the “first ever joint exercise of the armed forces of these two countries.” The maneuvers in the Andaman Sea will continue until Thursday and will involve numerous warships, aircraft, and combat helicopters.

A spokesman for the joint military command told local newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar that “the program includes air, surface, and underwater hazard prevention and maritime security measures.” Before the exercises, Myanmar leader General Min Aung Hlaing visited the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs of the Russian Pacific Fleet.

Moscow, hit by Western sanctions, is actively developing economic and trade relations with Asian countries, which are currently one of the main markets for Russian exports. At the same time, military-technical exchanges are also strengthening. In September, the armed forces of Russia and other countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) took part in anti-terrorism exercises in the Russian Far East.

Russia looks to the East

This is one demonstration of the fact that the United States and the European Union, two “powerful and influential” poles in an increasingly multipolar world, are unable to control or dominate the politics of some regions of the world, especially the Global South.

According to the American newspaper Wall Street Journal, the price ceiling for Russian oil set by the European Union has never worked. On the one hand, Moscow quickly found logistics solutions by putting into operation a “shadow” fleet of oil tankers and directed trade flows to Asia, particularly to China and India, as well as to some Latin American countries. In the summer months, Russian Urals oil was quoted at an average of $77.03 per barrel, and in the period September-October 2023, the price soared to $83.35 per barrel, which is significantly higher than the price set by Brussels in 2023 at $60.

According to statistics from the International Energy Agency (IEA), in September 2023 alone, Russia earned $18.8 billion from oil exports.

It is no coincidence that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the new 12th package of sanctions against Russia “will contain actions to tighten the oil price ceiling and tougher measures against companies from third countries that evade sanctions.”

To increase its revenues, Moscow is working in harmony with Saudi Arabia, the leading OPEC+ country: the production cuts signed by Moscow have contributed to the price of Russian crude oil exceeding the maximum ceiling. Russian oil, as The Wall Street Journal writes, “has received an additional boost from strong demand in Asia, where Russian producers compete with Saudi oil.”

Capping oil prices doesn’t work

Western sanctions were aimed at exploiting “Russia’s dependence on European shipping and insurance” controlled by Great Britain. The reaction by Russia was not long in coming. “The recent rise in Russian oil prices suggests that Russia has managed to create an alternative fleet of tankers that is not subject to sanctions and which the West cannot control,” said Sergei Vakulenko, analyst at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, to the Wall Street Journal. “It has been an evolutionary process, and now we can see the results,” said Vakulenko, according to whom “Russian oil companies have worked hard to stay in business and continue to make money, demonstrating that they are capable operators.”

Hungary, EU member, said it “will not accept the 12th package of sanctions against Russia if it includes oil and gas exports.” Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó emphasized that the sanctions policy pursued by the European Union is not working: “Sanctions may target and harm Russia, but they certainly cause serious damage to the European economy. If these measures cause more harm to those who introduce them than to the recipient, there is no point in implementing them.”

Japan is also beginning to complain about the sanctions policy against Russia

Even on the other side of the world, in Japan, they recognized the fact that anti-Russian sanctions are causing serious damage to the country’s economy. In particular, new sanctions announced by the US Department of Commerce and the US State Department against Russia will affect Japan’s participation in the Arctic LNG 2 project for the production and liquefaction of natural gas in the Russian Far East. Japan, one of the world’s largest importers of hydrocarbons, holds a 10% stake in a joint venture with Russia owned by commercial giant Mitsui & Co. and the Japanese state-owned Metallurgical and Energy Security Organization (Jogmec).

As Japanese Minister of Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Tuesday, November 7, “We believe some impact on operations will be inevitable.” The Japanese minister acknowledged that the project is “of great importance for providing Japan with stable and cheap supplies of LNG.”

“We will work with G7 countries to conduct a comprehensive assessment and respond accordingly so as not to jeopardize the stability of our country’s energy supply,” Nishimura added.

The US-sanctioned Arctic LNG 2 project is operated by Russian energy company Novatek, which is also building several state-of-the-art natural gas liquefaction plants in northern Russia, near Murmansk. At the recent Eurasian Economic Forum in Samarkand (Uzbekistan), organized by the Conoscere Eurasia Association, Novatek CEO Leonid Mikhelson said that in the coming years, global demand for liquefied natural gas “will continue to grow rapidly, with only three countries in the world – Qatar, Russia and the USA – able to provide this.”

According to IEEFA (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis), in 2023, despite Western embargoes and sanctions, Russia “became the second largest supplier of liquefied natural gas to Europe after the USA.”

“It’s your problem,” the Kremlin seems to be telling the West, announcing that in the first 10 months of 2023, trade between Russia and China “increased again by 27.7%, rising to $196.48 billion.” In other words, the goal set by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, “bringing bilateral trade to $200 billion per year by 2024,” will be achieved a year earlier.

Giornalisti e Redattori di Pluralia

Editorial board