Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) leaders' summit in Samarkand on September 16, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the growing influence of “new centres of power” on Friday at a summit with Asian leaders including China’s Xi Jinping.

“The growing role of new centres of power who cooperate with each other... is becoming more and more clear,” Putin told the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in ex-Soviet Uzbekistan.

Putin said Russia was ready to provide more than 300,000 tonnes of Russian fertilisers stuck in European ports to the developing world for free if Europe agreed to further relax sanctions on Russian exports.

Putin said Europe had only “partially” removed sanctions that Moscow says block its ability to sell and send fertilisers around the world.

Putin said Russia welcomed a decision by the European Union to ease some logistical sanctions on Russian exports, but accused the bloc of acting “selfishly” by only lifting sanctions for its own members.

Participants of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, including Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, pose for a picture before an extended-format meeting of heads of SCO member states in Samarkand, Uzbekistan September 16, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

“Only they can purchase our fertilisers. But what about the developing world and the world’s poorest countries,” Putin said at the summit.

Allowing Russian fertilisers reach global markets was part of a landmark Black Sea grain deal reached with Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations in July that saw Russia lift its military blockade of Ukraine’s southern ports and allow Kyiv to start exporting grain.

Putin said Russia has 300,000 tonnes of fertilisers currently sitting in European ports that Moscow was ready to send to the developing world for free when the sanctions are lifted.

Earlier, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on leaders of regional security bloc to address energy and food crises sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

“The pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine have caused many disruptions in global supply chains, leaving the world facing unprecedented energy and food crises. SCO should strive to develop reliable, resilient and diversified supply chains in our region,” Modi said.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
The SCO currently comprises eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), four Observer States interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and six “Dialogue Partners” (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey).
The Shanghai Five, formed in 1996, became the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2001 with the inclusion of Uzbekistan. With India and Pakistan entering the grouping in 2017 and the decision to admit Tehran as a full member in 2021, SCO became one of the largest multilateral organisations, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the global GDP and 40 per cent of the world’s population.
SCO has potential in various new sectors, wherein all the member-states could find converging interests. India has already pushed hard for cooperation in Startups and Innovation, Science and Technology and Traditional Medicine.
From the time of its full membership, India made sincere efforts to encourage peace, prosperity, and stability of the whole Eurasian region in general and SCO member countries in particular.