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Will Putin, Obama use APEC, G20 summits as chance to ease Russia-West tensions?

November 10, 2014, 14:57 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and US President Barack Obama (R)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and US President Barack Obama (R)

© EPA/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/RIA NOVOSTI/KREMLIN POOL

MOSCOW, November 10. /TASS/. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which started in Beijing on Monday and the forthcoming G20 summit in Australia on November 15-16 has raised cautious hopes for easing the current tensions in relations between Russia and the West. Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov and spokesman Dmitry Peskov do not rule out that Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama may have a word with each other on the sidelines of both summits. This gives some chances of easing tensions in bilateral relations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry in an article published in the German weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagzeitung coupled standard accusations against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis with a call for leaving behind the old-time division lines between the East and the West.

“It is also crucial that we strive for the renewal of constructive relations with Russia, if Moscow is willing to take the corresponding steps. It will be better for all of us if Russia, Europe, the United States and Canada managed to rally together to address global challenges, such as extremism, proliferation of nuclear weapons and infectious disease and reap the dividends of peace, stability and economic cooperation,” Kerry writes.

The Russian experts polled by the TASS political analysis center believe that for a discussion beyond the agenda of the APEC and G20 summits, Russia might propose quite a few problems common to the world community that endanger global security.

“The main topics of the G20 summit — the stability of the international financial system and sustainable economic growth — are a reminder that however strong regional contradictions may be, there are global problems the solution of which is a vital need to everyone,” says the chief of the Strategic Evaluation Department at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Situation Analysis Center, Sergey Utkin.

“Russia has already put forward some quite remarkable initiatives within the G20 framework. It is worth recalling the idea of a common world currency, proposed in 2009. The problem of de-offshorization is another major issue Russia might identify as worth discussing. This is a great concern for many developing economies,” the president of the National Strategy Institute Mikhail Remizov believes.

“At the APEC and G20 summits, Russia might come up with a system of security measures for settling the situation in the Middle East and effectively countering radical Islam. This topic is one of Russia’s strengths, because the Russian diplomacy may present its own analysis of the situations in Syria and Iraq and their effects,” Remizov believes.

It is beyond doubt that politics will cause the decisive influence on contacts between the summit’s participants, experts say. The president of the presidential Foreign and Defense Policy Council, Fyodor Lukyanov, does not rule out that at the summits in China and Australia, the topic of Ukraine may intervene with the economic agenda.

“The central event at last year’s G20 summit in St. Petersburg was not the meeting of the heads of state, but the luncheon devoted to the crisis in Syria, where the issue of US military intervention was on the agenda.” Lukyanov recalls. “The G20 split evenly. Then there followed a brief meeting of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, which, as it became clear several days later, produced a decision that halted the military operation. This is what makes such a format the most valuable.”

“It is beyond doubt that Ukraine as such will be absent from the agenda of official events and activities. But it will continue to be recalled now and then. One group of countries will try to present a common front against Russia. The other group — China and some others — will avoid taking Russia’s side of course, but they will keep saying something like 'We are here for something entirely different',” Lukyanov said.

“Russia should raise the question of making the G20 a political organization, because in the modern world discussing economic affairs without politics would be practically impossible. I do now know whether Russia will raise this subject, but it might yield benefits if it does. Whereas in the G8 Russia was all alone, in the G20 it may earn support from many key actors,” Lukyanov said.

ITAR-TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors