The Global South media on the war in Ukraine (05.05 – 12.05)
- Perspectives on conflict resolution
Kompas, an Indonesian national newspaper, published on its website on May 9, the article “US Wary of China’s Role in Russia-Ukraine Peace” supplemented by a video commentary on the approach of the US administration to the attempts of China to take a key part establishing a pathway to peace in Ukraine.
“United States secretary of state Antony Blinken regarded with distrust the role that China wants to play in organizing and carrying out peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. According to him, China cannot achieve any results, because it has been calling for peace while supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine, which the contradicts UN Charter.
China in its turn has announced that it will send a peace envoy to Ukraine and will strive to start negotiations that will be able to bring peace. However, despite all China’s declarations, the US administration will retain a skeptical view to its role. The main reason of such an attitude is connected with the close relationship between China and Russia, which continue to remain on intimate terms. This is what makes the US and its allies skeptical whether China can be neutral in the war between Russia and Ukraine.” https://video.kompas.com/watch/565334/AS-Waspadai-Peran-China-dalam-Perdamaian-Rusia-Ukraina
(Translated from Indonesian by Google Translate)
- Economic problems caused by the war in Ukraine
The Point, a daily newspaper published in Bakau, the Gambia, published on May 9 the article “Gambia spends 4 billion Gambian dalasis on rice importation”, devoted to the debates on stopping the rise of food prices, partially caused by the war in Ukraine.
“The secretary general of the Gambia National Trade Union Congress, Ebrima Garba Cham, has revealed that the Government of The Gambia spends over 80 million United States dollars, which equates to 4 billion Gambian dalasis, to import rice.
Speaking on the occasion marking May Day at McCarthy Square in Banjul, Mr Cham stated: “The adverse impacts of the Russian-Ukraine war, as well as the lingering effects of covid-19, affect the incomes of families due to food price increases, in particular The Gambia, which imports half of its food requirements including rice and petrol.”
He advised the government and the nation to think out of the box in order to change and approach things differently, with a view to achieving increased revenue to sustain growth and economic independence. “Gambia spends 80 million dollars (D4 billion) on rice importation, while agriculture, as the main backbone of the country, serves as the domestic resource mobilisation to provide food self-sufficiency and boost GDP, industrialisation, employment opportunities, and infrastructural development.” Mr Cham also disclosed that the level of poverty has grown between 2019 and 2023 as well as the rate of inflation.”. https://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/headlines/gambia-spends-d4b-on-rice-importation
Dawn, the largest English newspaper in Pakistan, published on May 10 the article “Musadik sees diversified energy future”, in which it is stated that despite the risk of deterioration of the relationship with the US, Pakistan has to import Russian oil in order to avoid economic collapse, caused by energy crisis.
”Facing a deep economic crisis, Pakistan has started to buy Russian oil, but the country’s petroleum minister says the future lies in diversified, especially green, energy. Musadik Malik was visiting the United States for talks with corporations as well as with the government, which has led global efforts to choke off Russia’s oil exports that help fund its invasion of Ukraine. Mr Malik confirmed that a first order was placed for Russian oil and would arrive within a month in Pakistan, which will then assess how much to import in the future.
“Based upon the results, we’ll move forward and see for what part of our portfolio we can use Russian energy,” he told AFP. Asked if Pakistan will pursue more Russian imports, he said, “If today we get cheaper sources of energy, we’ll go there.”
Pakistan, the world’s fifth most populous country, faces chronic energy shortages and imports 84 per cent of its petroleum products, overwhelmingly from Gulf Arab allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Mr Malik said Pakistan had been fully transparent and that its initial dealings with Moscow were far less than those of other countries — notably China and India, whose enthusiastic buying of Russian oil has cast a shadow over New Delhi’s warming relationship with Washington. “
We have not faced any problems, either with the United States or with any other country,” Mr Malik said. “A whole lot of countries are legitimately getting energy from Russia,” he said. Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center, said he believed there was a broad consensus in Washington that “this is an opportunistic situation where Pakistan is desperate for cheap oil” and substantively different from India’s historic relationship with Russia.
“My sense is that Islamabad is in such a difficult state that it’s not going to risk antagonising the United States, given Washington’s influence over key international financial institutions that are important to Pakistan right now,” Kugelman said. https://www.dawn.com/news/1751922
- Impact of the war on the Global South relations with Russia, China and the West
Le Quotidien d’Oran, a daily French-language Algerian newspaper, headquartered in Oran, Algeria, published on May 11, the article “New Tier” (“Nouveau palier”), in which it is suggested that the new European sanctions against Russia can damage the global economy.
“Sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) against Russia are going to reach a new level in in the near future. Yesterday, May 10, the ambassadors of the EU Member States were due to discuss a new battery of sanctions focused on the fight against the circumvention of the sanctions adopted against Russia, since February 2022. This fight involves taking “measures against countries that help Russia evade sanctions. Being almost certain that Russia is using devious ways to evade sanctions, particularly in terms of importing goods and exporting goods to Russia, the EU is seeking to extend sanctions to countries that trade with Russia in areas prohibited by the measures in question, including hydrocarbons and practically all products coming from Russia, strategic materials, such as semi-conductors, vehicles and other machinery equipment to Russia.
Is it going to be a dangerous step for global stability? Probably, it will have heavy repercussions. At least, the pressure on the countries which “help” Russia to circumvent the sanctions, cannot be established without disastrous effects for the global economy.
There are many countries, which do not intend to help Russia but they have traditional economic relations with Russia. It is almost impossible to break them without causing serious economic imbalances.
Some countries can even face a collapse of their economies, thus creating threats to the national economic security of others. If countries have right to pursue their economic interest, and consider them to be related with maintaining economic relations with Russia, why should they be prevented from following their own path?
How could the EU force countries to apply the sanctions it has decided against Russia, when these countries are not part of its territorial space? Sometimes EU member states cannot reach an agreement among themselves to apply certain measures in this regard. Why do they find it possible to compel the countries which were not even consulted about the measures the EU is going to take. How can EU force the countries that do not share its vision and male decisions for them, while limiting the consequences for businesses and EU citizens. For example, one cannot imagine a member country of the BRICS group moving to the application of sanctions against Russia following threats from the EU. And, they will be very numerous to be part of it in the short term”.
It should be noted that the United States has preceded the EU in this direction, by strengthening the application of sanctions against foreign companies which it considers to be providing assistance to Russia in its war against Ukraine. It remains to be seen whether the EU will follow the same principle of deterrence as that implemented by the United States, in this case the choice given to these companies between doing trade with Moscow or with the United States, or going further ? China responded to this action by the United States, stressing that it “has no basis in international law and is not authorized by the United Nations Security Council”. So it could only be a question of the right of the strongest, and we know how these stories end when we believe ourselves to be the strongest.
(Translated from French by IISWU)
Clarín, the leading national newspaper in Argentina, published on May 6 the article “Brazil has returned, where?” (Brasil ha vuelto, ¿a dónde?) devoted to the international strategy of the Brazilian president.
“The field where Lula’s return has generated the greatest hopes so far, is related with the ending of the Russian invasion. However, during the electoral campaign, as the candidate he was showing his little empathy with Ukraine and Volodimir Zelenski, whom he held as responsible for the conflict as Vladimir Putin.
Despite wanting to present himself as the champion of neutrality, interested in seeking peace, by equating the aggressor with the victim he closed the doors to any responsible mediation. Behind his statements is the former minister Celso Amorim, his main international adviser, who insists on applying recipes from the past. The dramatic thing is that neither Marco Aurelio García’s successor nor Lula himself have realized how much the world scene has changed since his previous tenure in power”.
The maximum aspiration of the “new” Lula is to differentiate himself from Bolsonaro, although in relation to Ukraine their positions are similar. Days before the invasion, Bolsonaro visited Putin. And while the former president condemned Russia at the UN, he was unable to go a step further: he neither went along with Western sanctions against Putin nor joined any measure of support for Ukraine. Lula continues in the same way, refusing to sell Russian weapons and German ammunition for the Leopard tanks, vital for the Ukrainian defense. He also received the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, who in Brasilia justified Putin’s “special military operation” (euphemism for invasion) with the same arguments of denazification, defense of the Russian minority or protection of his country’s borders against the NATO’s growing expansionism. Bolsonaro remained a vital member of the BRICS, despite the presence of Russia and China, a policy in which the current president perseveres. Not only that, he has placed Dilma Rousseff at the head of the BRICS Bank, in Shanghai, and the start of her term coincided with Lula’s tour of China, including his statements against the EU and the US together with Xi Jinping. Interestingly, Bolsonaro and Lula justified their neutrality in the conflict by their heavy reliance on Russian fertilizers. This being true, we must also remember the practically null political will to seek alternative supply routes. With greater difficulties, the EU reduced its energy dependence on Russian hydrocarbons (gas but also oil).
“One of the arguments most used by Brazil is the distance in the face of a distant war that does not concern them, where the easiest thing to do is to be neutral. The idea is more relevant if one considers that the US and China have different positions on the conflict and although they are not openly at odds over it, it is best not to bother anyone. Somehow this recalls the position of Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo, president of the Spanish Government, during the Malvinas War. On a visit to Campo de Gibraltar, journalists asked him if he would support Argentina and, pointing to the Rock, he replied: it is a “different and distant” problem. The same thing happens with Brazil and Ukraine: it is a different and distant problem.
Although Lula has made forceful statements insisting that he wants peace and to work for it together with other allies, the question is: how credible and achievable is this? It could also be argued that what counts is Itamaraty’s traditional imprint, his nationalist, protectionist policy and obsessed with turning Brazil into a relevant global player, with a permanent seat on the Security Council. For this, nothing better than a gimmicky political gesture.
The pacification of Ukraine would be a powerful message, which would not only earn Lula the Nobel Peace Prize, but also the coveted membership in the Security Council”.
(Translated from Spanish by IISWU)
The Conversation, an independent site on social and political issues with headquarters in Johannesburg (South Africa), Lagos (Nigeria), Nairobi (Kenya) and Accra (Ghana) published on May 11 “South Africa walks a tightrope of international alliances – it needs Russia, China and the west”,
Relations between the People’s Republic of China and Russia on one hand and the west, specifically the US, on the other have become increasingly tense in recent times. For the US, China and Russia represent authoritarian regimes. For China, the US is the source of global insecurity. With a few exceptions like France and the UK, the west sees the presence of Russia and China in the BRICS bloc (which also includes Brazil, India and South Africa) as contaminating the entire bloc as well as their relations with the individual BRICS member countries.
This is especially so for the US. This view reflects the weakening global power of the US, especially its inability to isolate Russia in Europe and to contain the influence of China in Asia and the developing world. The growing tensions pose a political and economic challenge for South Africa. This is especially so for US-South Africa relations.
South Africa should not choose between its BRICS or EU and US partnerships. It should keep its relations with the west while remaining within BRICS because of its economic prospects. The West remains economically significant for South Africa, but the BRICS bloc is important for South Africa’s economic adaptability. The emergence of BRICS not only strengthens south-south relations, it weakens the inequality that characterizes north-south relations. Much of the global south is developing fast enough for it to not only demand a more equitable world order, but also to finance it.
The BRICS bloc serves as a counterweight to some of the excesses of US unilateralism that’s been a feature of global governance since the end of the Soviet Union in 1989.
The BRICS bloc’s efforts to democratize global governance will support international accountability. Democratizing financial and governance institutions is important in addressing many of the issues that concern the developing world. The emergence of the BRICS bloc has overshadowed the G7+ meetings while centralising the G20 as an international platform for political and economic coordination. So South Africa’s exclusion from May 2023’s G7+ meeting in Japan doesn’t count for much.
Pretoria’s biggest trading partners are the EU and the US. South Africa is the largest US and EU trading partner in Africa, with the US totalling R289 billion (about US$16 billion in 2021) and the EU totalling a trade of R699 billion (about US$ 38 billion in 2021. South Africa also benefits from the preferential access to US markets for some of its exports in terms of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA. But the country is politically tied to the emergent multi-polar world led by China, and broadly BRICS.
So South Africa’s national interests demand that it carefully navigate western anxieties caused by its BRICS ties. It needs to show that its membership of the bloc doesn’t make it anti-west. https://theconversation.com/south-africa-walks-a-tightrope-of-international-alliances-it-needs-russia-china-and-the-west-204052