Xi and Putin set out ambitions for Eurasian security club

ASTANA (Reuters) -China's President Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin pressed their case on Thursday for closer security, political and economic cooperation between countries of the vast Eurasian region as a counterweight to Western alliances.

They were speaking on the second and final day of a summit in the Kazakh capital Astana of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a club launched in 2001 by Russia, China and Central Asian states and now including India, Iran and Pakistan.

"SCO members should consolidate unity and jointly oppose external interference in the face of the real challenges of interference and division," Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying, warning against the West's "Cold War mentality".

President Putin, in his address to the SCO, reiterated Russia's call for "a new architecture of cooperation, indivisible security and development in Eurasia, designed to replace the outdated Eurocentric and Euro-Atlantic models, which gave unilateral advantages only to certain states".

He once again blamed the West for the war in Ukraine and said Russia was ready to freeze the conflict if Kyiv and its backers accepted Moscow's terms for talks.

Putin said last month the proposed new Eurasian security pact should be open to all countries across the region, including current NATO members. But the aim, he said, should be to gradually remove all external military presence from Eurasia, a clear reference to the United States.

The SCO nations represent new key buyers of Russian commodities such as oil and gas, as Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine war have forced Moscow to pivot towards Asia.


Putin also hailed on Thursday the increasing use of national currencies - instead of the dollar - in trade between SCO countries and called for the creation of a new payment system within the group.

Western sanctions have left Moscow cut off from traditional payment systems such as SWIFT, while hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian foreign reserves remain frozen.

"The multi-polar world has become reality," Putin said. "More and more countries support a fair world order and are ready to vigorously defend their legal rights and traditional values."

Separately, India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the SCO gathering and agreed to step up talks to resolve issues on their border which have soured ties since an armed clash in 2020.

(Reporting by Pavel MikheyevWriting by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Gareth Jones)