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Former Russian foreign minister: China will ‘never’ treat Putin as ‘equal’


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China will never treat Russian President Vladimir Putin as an equal and will prove “ruthless” in any business dealings after crippling sanctions and a drawn-out invasion have left Russia vulnerable, according to a former Russian diplomat. 

“Putin might go to China,” former Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev told WHD News Digital. “He goes to China because he’s not competitive in other markets and he sells to China the raw materials, but China will never take him as an equal partner or even as ally because they don’t need it.” 

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Russia and China developed closer ties in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine, signing a number of deals that would potentially allow Moscow a backdoor economically to alleviate any sanctions from the West. Such deals included broader access to Russian wheat and a plan to sell 100 million tons of Russian coal to China. 

But Kozyrev, who served as Russia’s first foreign minister in the post-Soviet era from 1990 to 1996, believes that the dynamic has shifted dramatically since Russia’s invasion started: Plagued by sanctions and frustratingly slow progress, Russia is now at the mercy of China in any potential deals the two countries make going forward. 

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“[Putin] even believes that China will rescue Russia, which is absurd,” Kozyrev argued. “China is kind of inciting him to go to quarrel with the West because it’s in their interest … because if he loses the Western markets – even Japan and many other countries joined the sanctions – he will crawl to China asking them to buy some of their mineral resources.” 

“Of course, if someone offers you to sell something and they know they are this person’s last resource of money, you will ask for tremendous discounts,” he continued. “The Chinese are good businessmen and ruthless businessmen … in a desperate position, that’s the last partner I would want to deal with.” 

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Part of Russia’s difficulty lies in its industries: Kozyrev lamented that Russia has not managed to build substantial capabilities to produce goods of quality like other nations. Analysis by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that Russian exports overwhelmingly consist of raw materials such as natural metals, wood, coal and – of course – petroleum. 

“[Russia] cannot produce their own world-class automobile … have you seen anywhere, anything produced in Russia on the shelf or in sale?” Kozyrev said. “Look at Switzerland, and they have fantastic ski resorts and they produce all sorts of high-tech electronics and other things, while Russia on the world market you can find only weaponry or the raw materials.”  

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Instead, Russia wastes its money on “military adventures” to “prove its status,” lamenting that Russia is a “declining state” that has “nothing but aggressive policies.” 

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