Excerpts from FT (London) interview

CHINA2

“First of all, we have enough eggs, but there are not that many baskets where these eggs can be placed. This is the first point.

“Secondly, we always assess
risks.

“Thirdly, our relations with
China are not motivated by time-serving political any other considerations. Let
me point out that the Friendship Treaty with China was signed in 2001, if
memory serves, long before the current situation and long before the current
economic disagreements, to put it mildly, between the United States and China.

“We do not have to join
anything, and we do not have to direct our policy against anyone. In fact,
Russia and China are not directing their policy against anyone. We are just
consistently implementing our plans for expanding cooperation. We have been
doing this since 2001, and we are just consistently implementing these plans.

“Take a look at what is
written there. We have not done anything that transcends the framework of these
accords. So there is nothing unusual here, and you should not search for any
implications of the Chinese-Russian rapprochement. Of course, we assess the
current global developments; our positions coincide on a number of matters on
the current global agenda, including our attitude towards compliance with
generally accepted rules in trade, the international financial system, payments
and settlements.

“Both China and Russia
adhere to this concept. The G20 has accomplished a lot by advocating quota
changes at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Both Russia and
China share this approach. Considering the major increase in the global
economic share of emerging markets, this is fair and right, and we have been
voicing this position from the very beginning. And we are glad that this
continues to develop and to proceed in line with changes in global trade.

“Over the past 25 years or
so (25, I believe), the share of G7 countries in the global GDP has declined
from 58 percent to 40 percent. This should also be reflected in international
institutions in some way. That is the common position of Russia and China. This
is fair, and there is nothing special about this.

“Yes, Russia and China have
many coinciding interests, this is true. This is what motivates our frequent
contacts with President Xi Jinping. Of course, we have also established very
warm personal relations, and this is natural.

“Therefore, we are moving in
line with our mainstream bilateral agenda that was formulated as far back as
2001, but we quickly respond to global developments. We never direct our
bilateral relations against anyone. We are not against anyone, we are for
ourselves.

“You know, the entire
history of mankind has always been full of military conflicts, but since the
appearance of nuclear weapons the risk of global conflicts has decreased due to
the potential global tragic consequences for the entire population of the
planet in case such a conflict happens between two nuclear states. I hope it
will not come to this.

“However, of course, we have
to admit that it is not only about China’s industrial subsidies on the one hand
or the tariff policy of the United States on the other. First of all, we are
talking about different development platforms, so to speak, in China and in the
United States. They are different and you, being a historian, probably will
agree with me. They have different philosophies in both foreign and domestic
policies, probably.

“But I would like to share
some personal observations with you. They are not about allied relations with
one country or a confrontation with the other; I am just observing what is
going on at the moment. China is showing loyalty and flexibility to both its
partners and opponents. Maybe this is related to the historical features of
Chinese philosophy, their approach to building relations.

“Therefore I do not think
that there would be some such threats from China. I cannot imagine that,
really. But it is hard to say whether the United States would have enough
patience not to make any rash decisions, but to respect its partners even if
there are disagreements. But I hope, I would like to repeat this again, I hope
that there would not be any military confrontation.

“It should be said that so
far, the level and the development scale of China’s nuclear forces are much
lower than in the United States and Russia. China is a huge power that has the
capability to build up its nuclear potential. This will likely happen in the
future, but so far our capabilities are hardly comparable. Russia and the
United States are the leading nuclear powers, which is why the agreement was
signed between them. As for whether China will join these efforts, you can ask
our Chinese friends.

“China’s total defence
spending is $117 billion, if memory serves. The US defence spending is over
$700 billion. And you are trying to scare the world with the build-up of
China’s military might? It does not work with this scale of military spending.
No, it does not.

“As for Russia, we will
continue to develop our Pacific Fleet as planned. Of course, we also respond to
global developments and to what happens in relations between other countries.
We can see all of this, but it does not affect our defence development plans,
including those in the Russian Far East.

We are self-sufficient, and we
are confident. Russia is the largest continental power. But we have a nuclear
submarine base in the Far East, where we are developing our defence potential
in accordance with our plans, including so that we can ensure safety on the
Northern Sea Route, which we are planning to develop.

“We intend to attract many
partners to this effort, including our Chinese partners. We may even reach an
agreement with American shippers and with India, which has also indicated its
interest in the Northern Sea Route.

“I would say that we are
also primed for cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, and I have grounds to
believe that Russia can make a considerable, tangible and positive contribution
to stabilising the situation.

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