Great Britain and Russia are natural allies

Moscow allies itself with Beijing against the West

Russia and China are moving closer together: at a meeting of Foreign Ministers Sergej Lavrov and Wang Yi in Guilin, southern China, both sides discussed measures to strengthen financial independence. Lavrov called for a move away from the international payment system. Both countries should strengthen their "technological independence, switch to accounts in national currencies and in world currencies that are an alternative to the dollar," Lavrov said.

The Russian chief diplomat chose an opportune time for his proposal: his visit took place immediately after the failed Alaska summit, at which Washington and Beijing openly demonstrated their disputes. Moscow, for its part, fears the tightening of Western sanctions following allegations of the unauthorized use of chemical weapons and renewed interference in the election. The intensification of the East-West confrontation was made clear, among other things, by the controversial "killer" statements made by US President Joe Biden to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Rhetoric comes to a head

Russia alone will not be able to decouple itself from Western payment systems. As early as 2015, after the annexation of Crimea, when the threat of shutting down Russia from the global system for financial transactions Swift was raised, Moscow issued its own credit card "Mir" to compete with Mastercard and Visa, recalled economic expert Igor Nikolayev. But even if there are now 95 million Mir cards in Russia, they can only be used in a maximum of seven countries internationally.

Regardless of the problems, Lavrov is intensifying the rhetoric towards the West: The West is trying by all means, including the falsification of values, to maintain its dominance. Russia and China must therefore mobilize like-minded people to oppose this.

Criticism of EU sanctions

The EU received an extra dose of criticism: "There is no relationship with the European Union as an organization, the entire infrastructure of these relationships has been destroyed by unilateral decisions by Brussels," Lavrov said. Among other things, the Russian chief diplomat was referring to the sanctions imposed by the EU after the annexation of Crimea.

Both sides blame each other for the growing disputes between Brussels and Moscow. At the same time as Lavrov's rebuff to the EU, EU foreign representative Josep Borrell accused Russia of "heading for confrontation". The deputy head of the Federation Council, Konstantin Kosachev, rejected this accusation and instead accused "EU officials and MEPs of having maneuvered relations with Russia into an impasse".

Moscow's departure from Europe has meanwhile reached broad sections of the population. According to the latest polls, only 29 percent of Russians consider their country to be a European country. In 2008 it was 52 percent. Only 27 percent of Russians see themselves as Europeans. (André Ballin from Moscow, March 23, 2021)