By : Dr. AbdelHak Azzouzi
Moroccan Writer and Thinker
Days ago, the British city of Portsmouth marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day; the largest naval landing in history in the French Normandy region to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany during World War II.
Portsmouth was the main point for the largest attacking fleet in history, with 156,000 Americans, Britons, Canadians and other allied military personnel included, who sailed to the northern shores of France. All this happened following a meeting of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to counter Nazi Germany and its Axis allies and coordinate combat operations against them. The Battle of Normandy on 6 June led to the liberation of Europe and helped ending the WWII.
The 75th anniversary event was attended by Queen Elizabeth II and other leaders from the world, including French and American presidents, German Chancellor and British Prime Minister.
Russia, however, celebrated the end of the WWII and the defeat of Nazi forces at home. It never called for such celebrations, whether the one organized in Britain or France.
The Russian celebrations is becoming increasingly important during Putin’s two-decade reign. In a speech to thousands of soldiers and veterans, the Russian president vowed to ensure the continued military might of his country. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, 88, and film star Steven Segal, a prominent supporter of Putin, attended celebrations in the red square with a group of prominent Russian figures. In his usual diplomacy, Putin stressed that since Moscow was not invited to attend the celebrations in Britian, this doesn’t hurt, wishing that his country’s relations with Britain would improve with the government change.
The Russian president is well aware that Europe’s successive disregarding of Russia as well as the US sanctions against Chinese companies, most notably; Huawei, are enhancing relations with China. As the two countries are creating one block and are coming to provide “common response” to what is called “contemporary threats” made by US President Donald Trump which implies a “strategy” of sanctions and trade wars with the two sides.
As Western countries were meeting in Britain, Russia was celebrating with Chinese President Xi Jinping while taking part in Russia’s largest business forum. Through this forum, the two countries intend to review their economic ties before the United States amid the escalating trade war between Beijing and Washington.
According to Chris Weaver, founder of consulting firm Macro Advisory, this year’s forum clearly shows how far the world is bipolar. In the same week President Donald Trump is meeting over tea with Queen Elizabeth II in London, President Xi is received in St. Petersburg.
Over the last two years, China has become Russia’s largest trading partner, claiming the EU’s place as it acquired 15% of Russia’s foreign trade last year. The volume of trade between the two countries rose by 31.5 % in 2017 compared to 2016. The total volume reached $ 87.4 billion, of which 39 billion dollars were Russia’s exports to China, compared to imports worth 48.4 billion dollars.
Furthermore, the two countries expect trade volume to exceed the 100 billion, according to an ambitious plan to increase trade by 150% exchange over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, Putin expressed satisfaction that the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries is rising by 30 percent annually.
Strategic observers also believe there are Russian-Chinese efforts to reduce the value of the US dollar and even drive it out of business. Last year, Putin told the Chinese leader who gave him hand-made pottery of natural honey, that he had to pay for it. Xi said he carried it with him at that moment for it to be paid in Russian rubles, then Putin replied that next time he will pay in Chinese currency.
The two presidents’ jokes were a direct reference to the ongoing serious discussions to gradually shift to dealing with national currencies. Experts believe that the main objective is to limit the impact of the US dollar on the economic exchange of the two countries. This plan, eventually, means launching a plan to reduce the dominance of the dollar in the world.