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Putin offered a grandiose show to the International Press! The “Russian Davos” Dominates the Global Geoeconomic Debate

Photo: Sputnik

This week marks the 27th edition of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), a kind of Russian version of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. SPIEF is organized by the Roscongress Foundation (the parent organization of the Russian media company SPUTNIK) under the slogan “The Basis of Multipolarity – Forming New Centers of Economic Growth.” Besides debating geoeconomic projects, this forum provides an opportunity for major businesspeople to expand their businesses, establish connections and contacts at all levels, and become known to the global economic community. A recent event that underscores the forum’s significance is the announcement by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund regarding Russia’s economy, now ranked 4th in the world, surpassing Japan and Germany in GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity, with the clarification that Russia’s economy grew by 5.1% from January to April. Western media have published articles claiming that SPIEF will demonstrate how isolated Putin is in international politics, yet predictably the forum appears as a resonant success this year, with all emerging economies sending their ministers or chamber of commerce presidents to discuss new economic agreements with BRICS+ members. One of the aspects reported by Western media is that Putin’s daughters and Shoigu’s daughter will be among the speakers. Another aspect reported by mainstream media is that the President of Kazakhstan declined the invitation and did not attend SPIEF, in an article titled “The Russian Davos is possibly the least sought-after event in the world – even a neighboring country leader avoids SPIEF”. This is not true, considering that Kazakhstan sent a large delegation, which indeed does not include President Tokayev, but Tokayev announced on the same day that economic cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan has reached a record level and will continue to grow. To avoid manipulation, I will present the significant topics from SPIEF, as well as the spectacular press conference held by Putin in front of the international press.

The wide representation of all countries in the forum program is clear proof of Russia’s desire to strengthen the multipolarity of world politics and expand economic and trade ties. Asian and African countries are the main guests, including China, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and Algeria, addressing various themes in their discussions, all centered on multipolarity and sovereignty. The business program is divided into four thematic blocks dedicated to establishing a new multipolar economic model, providing opportunities for fair and constructive dialogue among all who aspire to more sustainable development. The four thematic tracks are: “Transition to a Multipolar World Economy,” “Goals of Russia’s New Economic Cycle,” “Technologies for Leadership,” and “A Healthy Society, Traditional Values, and Social Development: State Priorities.”
On the first day, issues of cooperation between small and medium enterprises were discussed. Upcoming discussions include global and acute issues: improving access to education, medicine, labor market growth, economic deglobalization and sovereignty, all leading to profitable deals for the businesspeople present. SPIEF 2024 places great importance on topics related to the population of countries, improving health and well-being, supporting families, creating opportunities for each person’s potential, developing their talents, and promoting a patriotic and socially responsible personality. The program includes 218 thematic sessions, with over 1,000 moderators and speakers and more than 3,400 companies. In total, the number of participants on just the first day of the forum was nearly 20,000, exceeding the total number of participants at the four-day forum in 2019, before the pandemic and war began, marking the increased importance of Russia in the international business environment.
The most anticipated event was the BRICS+ experts’ debate, where dedollarization and business opportunities arising from the new multipolar financial order were discussed in detail. It was also declared in this session that increased attention will be given to coordinating the foreign policy of BRICS+ member states, thus targeting not only the economy but also international politics.
Although SPIEF has been basically banned in the West, one event features mostly Western speakers and is titled “The Evil Empire: Has the West Succeeded in Demonizing Russia?” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto attended several discussions, stating that the West cannot forbid his participation. The President of the Republic of Srpska, Milorad Dodik, was also present, and in an official meeting with Putin, he said that the West has abused Russia’s goodwill and the Russians’ desire to maintain stability and peace. Moldovan Ilan Shor also attended SPIEF and gave an interview to the Russian media proposing the creation of a state formed by the union of Russia, Belarus, and Moldova against the West, which only uses Moldova for war and with which Moldovans have nothing in common. Scott Ritter, the former US intelligence officer who recently made headlines because US State Department officials blocked his participation in SPIEF by confiscating his passport at the airport, will still speak at the event via Zoom.
Dedollarization of trade between Russia and several Latin American countries was also discussed, as well as the sending of more weapons to Burkina Faso, where Russians and Americans support opposing sides. Regarding Africa, there was a notable moment between the Minister of Mineral Resources of Sierra Leone and his counterpart from Guinea-Bissau (it is important to note that ministers from the most resource-rich yet underexploited countries in Africa were present), who hugged happily before their speeches, reminiscing that 30 years ago they studied together in the USSR and even lived in the same dormitory.
Officials from Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Botswana declared their intent to cooperate with Russia and other BRICS+ countries for diamond trade – all these countries are among the top nations with the largest diamond resources. The President of the Pan-African Chamber of Commerce declared that the West has never helped African countries fight terrorism, despite having the necessary technology, while Russia has been aiding them militarily for many years, making the relationship with Russia more important. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that the West has become the main supplier of arms to terrorists worldwide through its arms deliveries to Ukraine, which are trafficked through Kyiv to terrorist organizations in Africa, the Middle East, and cells in Western Europe.
Besides the heads of state and ministers present, Putin managed to guarantee the presence of delegations from Afghan Taliban and North Korea, an incredible diplomatic achievement claimed by Russia, not the UN as would have been expected. Although criticized, normalizing relations between Russia and the Taliban is inevitable from the perspective of regional and energy security, given that many China-Russia joint natural gas transportation projects via the Belt and Road corridor will have to pass through Afghanistan. Additionally, Afghanistan holds at least one trillion dollars’ worth of mineral resources, resources that all countries want to exploit, but so far only Russia has taken the image risk associated with recognizing the Taliban government, and consequently, the Taliban declared that their visit to St. Petersburg aims to develop economic relations with BRICS+ countries, especially with the Russian Federation. It is expected that they will also be invited to the BRICS+ forum, a huge progress for all Afghans who have not benefited from the advantages associated with the international economy for many years, thus it becomes clear that BRICS+ is already assuming some of the roles associated with Western organizations. Regarding North Korea, improving relations with Russia is also inevitable, given that they are neighboring countries. We must remember that the US also wanted to normalize relations with North Korea during the Trump administration, so it is not an unprecedented international action. As proof of the close relationship between the two countries, the first tourist train in four years, whose passengers were all Russian citizens, arrived in North Korea today.
Comparing SPIEF with the WEF in Davos, where the main development line for countries worldwide is globalization and the destruction of sovereignty, with new projects related to global vaccination, the implementation of 15-minute cities, or encouraging alternative food based on insects or locusts, the themes of multipolarity, sovereignty, and health at SPIEF seem clearly much more interesting and certainly more humane. The number of participants at SPIEF has long surpassed the number of participants at the WEF, and the reputation and interest in the event have grown even more in recent years, with the latest technological advances being presented here. Scott Bennett, a former US Army psychological warfare officer and anti-terrorism analyst for the US State Department, said it is wrong to call SPIEF the “Russian Davos”: “At the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, I see a mix of national integrity, national pride, cultural identity, cultural pride, as well as the economic mathematics of business and industry. Davos is more about how we change the world? How do we push the world? How do we control the world?”. Emerging economies have thus managed to stand out through the Russian forum not only as market leaders in several industries but also as supporters of normalcy.
In addition to the large number of exhibitions, speeches, and debates, the highlight of SPIEF was clearly Putin’s international press conference. Although Western media boycotted SPIEF in the last two years, this year journalists from the US, France, Germany, and other countries were present, and although they all asked Putin difficult questions, his answers were not all publicized at home in the Collective West. The press conference lasted more than 3 hours, with no breaks, Putin stayed longer than planned, and even the translators had to take turns and change shifts. In the footage, we did not see Putin reading hidden prompter messages (which was impossible since the questions were unpredictable); he appeared natural and spontaneous in his answers and took notes on each question in order to respond in an organized manner. Like a great leader, well intellectually equipped, Putin eloquently linked statistics and data on any possible subject of interest, from Italian media to South Korean export statistics, without hesitation or error. We must acknowledge that despite manipulated news portraying him as a sick dictator, Putin is actually the most competitive international leader at the moment, regardless of whether his actions are democratic. Below I have summarized the statements that seemed of interest to me, in the order they were made, but the full conference can be watched with English translation on Telegram, unfortunately not on YouTube or mainstream news sites.
US Elections – Nothing will change in US policy towards Russia or the war in Ukraine if Trump wins; it is irrelevant to us who wins the elections. US support of Ukraine is in no one’s interest. Americans are not fighting for Ukraine but to continue their hegemony. Biden is a more predictable leader; we can guess all of his decisions. Trump imposed sanctions on Russia; he is not too close to us either. The decisions regarding Trump’s condemnation are not legally sound, and Americans make many mistakes in their internal politics and in the confrontation between Democrats and Republicans.
Causes of the Ukraine War – The Germans and the French were the first to warn the US and NATO that aggressive Euro-Atlantic policy would lead to a war in Ukraine. The war actually began with the 2018 coup, and we had no choice but to protect our people.
The Authorization given by Germany to Ukraine to attack Russian territory – All Russians are shocked by the rumors that Germany will attack, given the long-standing friendship between our countries, but we know that Germany has not been independent or sovereign since World War II, and it is not their decision. Germans have no one to defend their national interest, evidenced by the sabotage of Nordstream.
Import of Russian gas into Europe – Europe still receives Russian gas, and Nordstream was destroyed in vain, as they receive it indirectly at a higher price. American gas is more expensive and just as harmful to the environment as Russian gas. Europeans have destroyed their own economy while Russia’s economy grows. Decision-makers in Europe are not professionals.
Statistics of the Ukraine war – There are 1,348 Russian prisoners in Ukraine and 6,400 Ukrainian prisoners in Russia, with Ukrainian deaths five times higher. Latest statistics show that 50,000 Ukrainian soldiers die each month, and just as many are wounded. On average, 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers are recruited each month. The Americans will force Ukraine to lower the recruitment age. We believe they will lower the age to 18.
China – Sanctions against China are not favorable to anyone, especially affecting Western citizens who want access to cheap and quality goods. China must be integrated into the international system to ensure world development, not seen as an adversary.
Russian propaganda in EU elections – European leaders are wrong to blame Russians and say we do masked propaganda to influence their elections. They should analyze their mistakes instead of sanctioning or confiscating Russian journalists’ assets in Europe. If they consider something reported as propaganda, they should convincingly prove it, not censor journalists and disrespect the right to free speech.
Import of Western weapons into Ukraine – Ukrainians are incapable of attacking Russia with modern technology from European and American allies as their soldiers are unprepared and will need European or American intelligence and satellites to operate advanced systems. Such an attack would not be a Ukrainian attack but a direct attack from Western countries, so it will have an asymmetric response. If Americans have the right to send weapons and military systems to attack Russians, then Russians will attack all countries sending weapons to Ukraine (N.A. This list of countries includes Romania, the USA, Germany, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, France, Canada, Finland, Australia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Portugal, South Korea, Turkey).
Italy – Italy does not want to inspire Russophobic sentiments among its citizens like other European countries, demonstrated by their neutral public statements. After the war ends, relations with Italy will be rebuilt much faster than with the other EU countries.
Russia’s economic growth – The sanctions have driven the rapid economic growth of the country. Western foreign companies withdrawing allowed Russian companies to create the same technologies themselves, and now everything is three times cheaper. The US is killing the dollar by isolating Russia from the Western monetary system and the dollar, it is precipitating dedollarization.
How to stop the Ukraine war – To stop the war, the US only needs to stop sending weapons, and within 2-3 months, the war will end. Other countries should not intervene to block the peace process. In 2022, Ukrainians and Russians agreed on all points of the peace treaty and were ready to sign it. Boris Johnson blocked the treaty – why? Ukrainians were happy with all guarantees received; what did the West want to gain for itself, not for Ukrainians?
Gaza – We support the right of any country to defend against terrorism, but what is happening in Gaza is ethnic cleansing. The US works against resolving wars in Gaza and Ukraine, having used its veto power at the UN multiple times against our peace proposals. President Erdogan makes considerable peace efforts, and we congratulate him; we will not get more involved in the peace process unless necessary as there are already too many powers involved.
Turkey – Ukrainians attack the Turkstream gas pipeline, through which Russian gas reaches Turkey and Europe, an attack that would harm Europeans more than Russia. I know Turkey will soon receive financial aid from the West, but if it comes with limitations on relations with Russia, Turkey will lose in the long run and should not accept.
US imperial status – The US imperial status was a mistake, it is not helping and it has never helped American citizens. The US spends more on weapons than all other countries combined, and arms trafficking comes with much corruption and lost money which should have reached American citizens.
Legitimacy of the Ukrainian Presidency – Zelensky has illegally seized power in Ukraine and is no longer the legitimate president according to the Ukrainian constitution. The US will get rid of Zelensky after he lowers the conscription age to 18, which, according to our calculations, will happen by spring. The Americans already have potential candidates to replace Zelensky.
Possibility of an Attack on NATO – In Europe, it is being invented that Russia has imperial ambitions and wants to attack NATO. We are not crazy to do such a thing. These inventions are aimed at maintaining the American empire in power and justifying the sending of a large number of resources to Ukraine.
D-Day – Asked if Russia will attend the commemorative celebration of the Normandy Landings, Putin stated that he would have liked to attend, but no one invited the Russian delegation despite the fact that 70% of the casualties in World War II were from the Soviet Empire and they are the ones who continue to fight against the Nazis in Ukraine.
SPIEF has demonstrated that the BRICS+ countries, led by Russia and China, have already established a new world order. SPIEF is clearly a more successful event than the WEF, including far more businesses and emerging economies. Russia has a respected diplomatic status in the “Global South,” and the majority of the countries present openly stated in interviews that they respect their partnership with Russia more than with the West. Through the press conference, Putin managed not only to demonstrate that he is the most capable political leader of the moment, in very good physical shape considering his age and the stress of his position, but also that he is not intimidated by Western actions and sanctions, which seem to have improved Russia’s relations with the rest of the world. We Europeans can already start to worry about our future, as it becomes clear that we will no longer be part of the leadership of the New World Order.
By Daria Gusa

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