Russia’s War in Ukraine: Live Updates

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit could have been an opportunity for Beijing and Moscow to argue for a “multipolar world order”, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have sown divisions within the group and alienated some countries.

After watching Russian tanks enter Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, Central Asian leaders from former Soviet territories fear that Russia may encroach on their lands as well.

Kazakhstan, in particular, refused to toe Moscow’s line. It has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine and its president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has publicly refused to recognize Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, angering some Kremlin officials.

China’s refusal to condemn Russia has also caused unease among Central Asian countries, experts say. This risks hampering China’s efforts to strengthen ties with its Central Asian neighbors, an endeavor in which China has invested heavily for two decades.

During Xi Jinping’s state visit to Kazakhstan on Wednesday – his first trip abroad in nearly 1,000 days – the Chinese leader sought to allay those concerns.

China will always support Kazakhstan in maintaining national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Xi told Tokayev, according to Chinese state media.

India, which occupies a unique role in the SCO, also complicates the picture.

Delhi, which like Beijing did not condemn the Russian invasion, has close ties with Moscow dating back to the Cold War. According to some estimates, India gets more than 50% of its military equipment from Russia.

In recent months, India has dramatically increased its purchases of Russian oil, coal and fertilizers, despite Western pressure to cut economic ties with the Kremlin following its aggression in Ukraine.

But Delhi has also seen its relations with Beijing take a nosedive due to disputes along its border, and has grown closer to Washington and its allies in the Indo-Pacific. India is a member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue alongside the United States, Japan and Australia, a grouping brought together by Chinese threats.

Modi, who arrived in Samarkand in the early hours of Friday, is expected to hold individual talks with his Russian, Uzbek and Iranian counterparts, a source from India’s External Affairs Ministry told CNN.

But based on his tentative schedule, Modi has no scheduled meeting with Xi. The two leaders have not met since the start of the Sino-Indian border dispute more than two years ago.

Last week, Delhi and Beijing began to disengage from the Gogra-Hotsprings border area in the western Himalayas.

In addition to their territorial disputes, Delhi is also wary of Beijing’s growing economic influence over its smaller neighbors.

“Since Modi came to power, we have seen relations (between India and China) steadily deteriorate,” said Manoj Kewalramani, a China studies fellow at the Takshashila Institution in India.

But Kewalramani said the SCO could provide “space (for India) to engage with China and Russia”.

“In particular, being on the table while China and Russia are together, because the closer this relationship gets, the trickier it becomes for India,” he said.


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