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International relations

Asia can’t afford to choose the West over Russia

Sri Lankans storming the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo

Western sanctions were meant to “cripple Russia’s war effort”, says Anand Kumar in the South China Morning Post. Instead, they are causing financial and political chaos for poor countries in south Asia. At the heart of the trouble is the fact that Russia is a member of the UN Security Council, and would naturally veto any UN-wide sanctions directed at Moscow. So smaller nations are being forced to make their own choice: sticking with Russia to buy affordable fuel for their people or playing along with the US and Nato. For some countries, the question is fast becoming a “threat to their survival”.

Sri Lanka has collapsed, largely due to financial mismanagement by the ruling political class, but also because sanctions against Russia have sent global fuel and food prices through the roof. Pakistan, another nation struggling with a light-fingered elite, is drifting towards a full-blown crisis for the same reasons. Bangladesh, increasingly a “shining star” in Asia, is urging the Americans to ease sanctions on Russia because they are blocking much-needed imports and raising transport costs. And India, despite its “growing closeness to the US and other Western countries”, has had to increase oil and coal imports from Russia to keep its economy running smoothly. And why not? Like much of the developing world, “India cannot afford to blindly follow the West” – especially when its rival China is quite happily ignoring those same sanctions.