Isolate Russia (III)

West makes no progress in isolating Russia. India expands trade with Russia, Turkey welcomes Russian oligarchs. Expert accuses the West of neocolonial “hypocrisy.”

BERLIN/MOSCOW/NEW DELHI (Own report) – Five weeks after the Russian intervention In Ukraine, western powers still fail to globally isolate Russia. During a visit to India yesterday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s foreign policy adviser Jens Plötner tried to persuade New Delhi to abandon its cooperation with Moscow. Other representatives of western states had already previously traveled to the Indian capital, pursuing the same objective – to no avail. India is increasing its purchase of Russian oil and is continuing to develop a payment system independent of the US dollar and SWIFT. Still only 48 countries are participating in the western sanctions against Russia. Three-quarters of all UN member states are refusing to comply, despite the partially considerable pressure being exerted on them. Saudi foreign policy expert Mansour Almarzoqi declared that he sees “absolutely no difference” between the wars against Iraq (USA, 2003) and against Ukraine (Russia 2022) and accuses the West of “hypocrisy”: “hidden behind the thin façade of human rights and democracy rhetoric” lies the naked “colonial heritage of the West.”

Profitable Cooperation

India, Russia’s long-term cooperation partner, continues to lay great importance on unscathed relations with Moscow despite the latter’s intervention in Ukraine. Even though it has never defended the intervention in UN bodies, it has always refrained from openly condemning Russia. India is currently seeking to expand its trade relations. It is increasing its purchase of Russian oil. The volume of this year’s import is already at 13 million barrels – almost as much as throughout all of 2021 (16 million barrels). It is also seeking to expand the import of Russian coking coal for steel production and is purchasing huge quantities of Russian sunflower oil, which has become scarce in Western Europe, due to the war and the sanctions. Conversely, the Indian business community is increasingly focusing its attention on the Russian market. Since western firms are withdrawing, “there will be lot of opportunities for Indian firms to enter Russia,” according to A Sakthivel, President of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO).[1] To handle their trade despite the sanctions, New Delhi and Moscow are presently developing payment mechanisms independent from the US dollar and SWIFT.

Western Pressure

Because of its continued cooperation with Moscow, New Delhi is under massive pressure from western powers demanding that it join their sanctions against Russia, which until now, it has been effectively rejected. However, the 2 + 2 talks between India and the USA, wherein the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers regularly meet, has been announced for around April 11. The talks are centered on their joint power struggle against China.[2] Washington wants to use these talks to try to drive a wedge between New Delhi and Moscow. In the run-up to the talks, a flock of western government representatives are visiting India to systematically increase the pressure. Recently Victoria Nuland, State Secretary in the US State Department visited the Indian capital for talks; yesterday President Joe Biden’s Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh arrived. Within the framework of the western traffic of visitors that is beginning to take on aspects of stalking, Jens Plötner, foreign policy advisor to Chancellor Olaf Scholz also appeared in New Delhi yesterday.[3] Today, Thursday, on the one hand, Britain’s Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Liz Truss, and on the other hand, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are expected to arrive in the Indian capital for talks.

Wang Yi in New Delhi

In the meantime, the mounting pressure from the West has begun to provoke unexpected reactions on the part of New Delhi. On March 22, the Indian ambassador to Moscow participated in a meeting with his counterparts from Brazil, China, and South Africa with Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov – an indication that the BRICS format has not been abandoned, in spite of either Russia’s intervention in Ukraine or the acute tension between India and China.[4] Western observers have meticulously noted that, so far, none of the BRICS states have made statements of public condemnation of Russia’s intervention.[5] On March 25, China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi made a surprise visit to his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi. Wang’s first visit since the escalation of the Indian-Chinese border dispute in May 2020 was overshadowed by that conflict, but not restricted to it. Importance was given to a discussion on the war in Ukraine and the West’s sanctions campaign against Russia.[6] Similar to India, China is also under pressure from the West, however, with the difference that the West, so far, has sought to avoid damaging its relations to New Delhi, because India is needed for their power struggle against Beijing.

Only 48 out of 193

India is not the only one seeking to maintain its business relations with Russia, in spite of western sanctions. In South Africa, Gazprom is being considered for a natural gas business project worth billions.[7] Turkey is functioning as a switching station or a transshipment hub for both passengers and commerce with Russia. In addition, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed that Russian oligarchs can freely engage in business in Turkey.[8] The same holds true for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Emirates and Saudi Arabia continue to refuse to cede to western pressure to increase oil production more than planned, to facilitate a worldwide oil embargo against Russia. On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud reiterated that OPEC+ states will leave politics out of output decisions.[9] Until now, the number of countries participating in the West’s sanctions against Russia has not exceeded 48 – most of the countries are in Europe and North America, with six of their closest partners in the Asian-Pacific region. That does not even amount to a fourth of the total 193 members of the United Nations.

The West’s Colonial Heritage

The reason why, until now, the West has failed to globally isolate Russia, goes beyond simple economic or geostrategic considerations. “The Ukrainian crisis has once again exposed western hypocrisy, when it comes to the value of human life, to migration, or to the sovereignty of nation-states,” explained recently Mansour Almarzoqi, Director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the Prince Saud Al Faisal Institute for Diplomatic Studies in the Saudi capital Riyadh. He can see “absolutely no difference between George Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” and yet both are treated completely differently.[10] If one considers that the US aggression against Iraq was approved, but, the Russian intervention in Ukraine is supposed to be heavily punished; that the West hermetically seals itself off from Arab and African refugees, while European refugees from Ukraine are welcomed; Almarzoqi concludes that “hidden behind the thin façade of human rights and democracy rhetoric,” still lies “the West’s colonial heritage,” “neo-colonialism, capitalist expansionism.” During the colonial era, Europe had always justified “its expansionism, its striving for wealth and hegemony over he colonized countries,” with a claim of alleged “moral superiority.” This still continues. Almarzoqi warns, “if you (...) believe that we will not defend ourselves, will not fight back, you are mistaken.”


For more on this theme: “Isolate Russia”.


[1] Ravi Buddhavarapu: An Indian rupee-ruble trade arrangement with Russia may be ready in a week. 23.03.2022.

[2] See also Kriegstrommeln in Deutschland.

[3] Nayanima Basu: German NSA ‘would have liked’ India’s support on Ukraine war at UN, but understands challenges. 30.03.2022.

[4] Russia Meets With Fellow BRICS Ambassadors. 22.03.2022.

[5] Martin Binder, Autumn Lockwood Payton: Russia’s allies have been pretty quiet on Ukraine. 25.03.2022.

[6] Bilateral ties can’t be normal if situation at borders is ‘abnormal’: Jaishankar tells Chinese foreign minister Wang. 25.03.2022.

[7] Susan Comrie: South Africa is pursuing major gas deal – and Russia wants in. 27.03.2022.

[8] Karen Gilchrist: Turkey may become the new playground for Russian oligarchs – but it’s a risky strategy. 30.03.2022.

[9] Elliot Smith: Saudi energy minister says oil alliance OPEC+ will leave politics out of output decisions. 29.03.2022.

[10] Susanne Koelbl: „Nur ein Narr würde Washington vertrauen”. 28.03.2022.