The Economist: Who are Russia’s supporters?

In the year since Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, Russia’s diplomatic resilience has left many wringing their hands, ‘The Economist’ writes.

In one sense Russia can rightly boast about strengthening diplomatic ties. Data published in March by EIU, our sister company, showed that the number of countries actively condemning Russia had fallen since its previous analysis a year ago (see map).

EIU considers whether and how governments have supported Russia’s actions or echoed its narratives — for example by avoiding calling the war an “invasion”. It finds that seven countries have moved into the Russia-leaning camp — those which are friendly towards Russia even if they do not openly endorse its war — since last year.

Some, like South Africa, were initially neutral; others, such as Botswana, have strayed from West-leaning. Eight more countries, most prominently Turkey, have gone from supporting the West into the neutral camp.

Overall, the number of countries condemning Russia has dropped from 131 to 122 in the past 12 months.

Fortunately, when it comes to international relations, quality trumps quantity. The most powerful country that Russia has managed to keep sweet is China, which remains Russia-leaning by EIU’s measures. But Xi Jinping, China’s leader, seems primarily focused on poking the West and leveraging the conflict to his advantage, rather than providing meaningful support to the war effort.

Similarly, India, classed as neutral, is more keen on benefiting from trade deals than being forced to choose sides.

Turkey, also listed as neutral, has increased trade with Russia.

Only Belarus, Iran and North Korea (all classed as supporting Russia) have actually provided the Kremlin with arms (compared with 31 countries that have announced weapon shipments to Ukraine).

Together, Russia’s side and the neutral camp contain most of the world’s population, but they account for just one-third of global GDP.