Updated Apr 1, 2022 - World

Russia rallies its powerful friends

Russian Foreign Mininster Sergey Lavrov. Photo: Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden has said Russia is “isolated from the world,” but the rest of the world doesn't necessarily see it that way.

Driving the news: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s friendly visits to the world’s two biggest countries — India and China — suggest that Russia is hardly a pariah.

  • And while the sanctions on Russia are crippling, they’re limited mainly to NATO members and other close U.S. allies like Australia, Japan and South Korea.
  • Leaders from many other countries, including Brazil, Pakistan and South Africa, are much more open to Russia.

What they're saying: As Lavrov was traveling to Delhi, the U.S. and Australia criticized India for discussing a rupee-ruble trade arrangement with Russia, which could undermine Western sanctions.

  • “Now is the time to stand on the right side of history, and to stand with the United States and dozens of other countries, standing up for freedom, democracy and sovereignty with the Ukrainian people, and not funding and fueling and aiding President Putin’s war,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said, per Bloomberg.

Between the lines: India is one of the U.S.' most valued strategic partners. But by working to protect its trade with Russia, and refusing to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, it's actively undercutting Washington's efforts to isolate Moscow.

Where it stands: Lavrov said Russia, China and other like-minded countries would “move towards a multipolar, just, democratic world order.”

  • Beijing reiterated that its relationship with Moscow — which is now even more vital for Russia due to the sanctions — “has no limits.”
  • Meanwhile, OPEC countries elected to stand by a deal with Russia rather than comply with U.S. pressure to increase production.
  • Saudi Arabia and the UAE, key members of that group, have both signaled support for Russia in recent days.

Flashback: 144 countries condemned the invasion in a UN vote on March 2, but few world leaders have openly criticized Vladimir Putin since.

  • Support for that UN resolution among not-Western countries “was quite thin,” Richard Gowan, UN director at the International Crisis Group, told the Washington Post.

The big picture: If European countries are highly concerned about the boomerang effects of Russia sanctions on their own economies, so are African and Asian countries — many of whom don’t seem to view this as their fight.

  • Russia is a top global exporter of energy, weapons and wheat.
  • Several leaders, including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, have raised Western interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya in justifying their reluctance to criticize Russia. "Don’t threaten me, and I will not threaten you,” Museveni said.
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