New Delhi — China's Xi Jinping urged the leaders of Russia, Iran and other allied allies to boost ties and resist Western sanctions on Tuesday as the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization met virtually for a summit hosted by India. The Shanghai alliance encompasses a vast stretch of the globe from Moscow to Beijing and includes around half the world's population when observer and "dialogue partner" nations are included.
Alongside Russia, China, India and brand-new member Iran, the other full members of the trade and security alliance are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan., which holds observer status, was also told it would become a member at the next SCO summit.
Below are some of the main points made by the bloc's leaders on Tuesday, and what's behind them.
Putin thanks allies for support during "rebellion"
Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked his Shanghai organization partners for their support during astaged by the head of the . Putin spoke via video link at the meeting, which was his first summit since Yevgeny Prigozhin ordered units from his private army — which has been a key component in Russia's war in Ukraine for a year — to march on Moscow after accusing Russia's military commanders of treason and ineptitude.
"Russia is confidently resisting and will continue to resist external pressure, sanctions and provocations," Putin said, adding his thanks to the other SCO nations for their support during the Wagner putsch attempt, which he previously labelled a "rebellion."
"I would like to thank my colleagues from the SCO countries who expressed support for the actions of the Russian leadership to protect the constitutional order and the life and security of citizens," he said.
China and Russia have in recent years ramped up economic cooperation and diplomatic contacts, with their strategic partnership having only grown closer since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine last year.
China wants to "ensure common security"
During the virtual meeting, Xi "called for efforts to safeguard regional peace and ensure common security,"'s state news agency Xinhua said, adding that he urged SCO member states to "enhance their solidarity."
While China says it is a neutral party to the Ukraine conflict, it has been criticized by Western nations for refusing to condemn Moscow's offensive, and accused by current and former U.S. officials ofby buying more Russian energy and other goods since the invasion began.
"We must be highly vigilant against external forces fomentingand creating confrontation in the region, and resolutely oppose any country interfering in internal affairs and staging a 'color revolution' for any reason," Xi said, referring to pro-Western popular uprisings in Eastern Europe in recent decades — most notably in Ukraine.
"Strengthening unity" with Iran
Iran joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a full member on Tuesday, with Tehran havingalike in recent months, seeking to reduce its isolation, improve its economy and project strength.
Tehran's membership will support "collective security... expanding ties and communications (and) strengthening unity," Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said.
's membership will feed concerns of some Western critics who worry about "Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran coming together, so there is a collection of countries that are inherently anti-Western in their orientation," said Harsh V. Pant, a professor at King's College London. But he added that the SCO was not that organization.
"If this kind of an axis is to be formed, it will be formed independent of the SCO, because the Central Asians and countries like India do not see SCO as inherently anti-West," Pant told AFP.
Security concerns over Taliban-run Afghanistan
During the summit, the leaders of regionalsaid their other neighbor, , remained a key concern.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned of the risk of Afghanistan serving as a base to "spread instability," while his Pakistani counterpart Shehbaz Sharif called for an "urgent reset" in international engagement with Afghanistan's Taliban rulers.
Since retaking power over Afghanistan when the U.S. and its allies withdrew in the summer of 2021, the hard-line Islamic Taliban movement hasin the 20 years since they were last ousted from power by the U.S.-led invasion.
The group's draconian policies and rampant human rights abuses have seen their de-facto Afghan government, with millions of dollars in cash reserves frozen and the a long list of sanctions in place. The circumstances for the Afghan people, meanwhile, have deteriorated significantly, with
India's balancing act
India, which also hosts the G-20 summit in September, is.
Uniquely, it is a member of both the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and "The Quad," a small cooperative group set up with the United States, Japan and Australia to counter Beijing's growing assertiveness.
Last month, Modi was hosted in Washington with the full pomp of a state visit, and President Biden spoke of "two great friends and two great powers."
But— they have been allies for decades — and New Delhi has been an enthusiastic buyer of cut-price Russian oil during the war in Ukraine.
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