Since the beginning of the pandemic, for Russia and China, vaccination has become a political instrument. Producing doses for all has become the new search for gold, so both countries try to use their vaccines as diplomatic tools. Beijing has signed vaccine supply contracts with two dozen countries, including Turkey and Brazil. Experts wonder what your interests are.
“First, want to improve their image, which was tarnished during the pandemic. And in second place, want to consolidate ties with strategically important countries and also with the countries included in the Chinese initiative of the Belt and Road to unite Asia with Europe. In third place, they want to expand the market share of their vaccination products and hopefully also use that vaccine diplomacy to help achieve other economic goals“explains Yanzhong Huang, Senior Global Health Analyst, Think tank European Council on Foreign Relations.
Countries such as India or Argentina have already ordered millions of doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, so for the American think tank German Marshall Fund, Moscow is working on its self-promotion.
“Basically, they want to promote Russian science and Russia as an alternative technological factory. Normally when we think of Russia we relate it to oil, but obviously it has very good scientists. But I will also say that I think it is wrong to think that Russia can supply large quantities of the Sputnik V vaccine. I would question it, especially considering the limitations in the distribution of its vaccine at the national level, “explains Jacob Kirkegaard, Senior Analyst at the German Marshall Fund.
And what about Ukraine?
For Andrey Kovatchev, Bulgarian MEP of the European People’s Party, Brussels should do more to counter Russian and Chinese vaccine diplomacy. And help countries like Ukraine, which does not accept Russian vaccines but neither do European ones. “We must definitely support Ukraine, and this is only the beginning. Our contribution from the EU and Member States budget is 850 million euros. And this is, again, the beginning of the support that we are going to provide to all. our neighbors, including the Western Balkans as well, “he says.
The EU wants to provide vaccines to countries with fewer resources through the COVAX initiative launched in April 2020 by the World Health Organization, the European Commission and the Government of France. of the WHO. But until their own supply chain is streamlined, Russia and China will continue to take advantage of delays in Europe.