• Amar Adiya

Medvedev’s Bear Hug of Mongolia on the 100th Anniversary

Medvedev and Khurelsukh in 2019

Prime Minister Khurelsukh invited Russian Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev to Mongolia next year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mongolia-Russian diplomatic relations. Reportedly, Foreign Minister Lavrov may visit Mongolia soon to lay grounds for the centennial celebrations and step up Russian interests in the country.

The centennial celebration is a significant milestone and is expected to be marked with a lot of pompous events and an exchange of visits at the highest level.

It is not clear whether President Putin will visit again after Khalkhyn Gol victory celebration last year.

President Battulga missed Putin’s 75th celebration of the WWII Victory parade this June due to the domestic election, which probably didn’t go down too well with the Russians.

On top of that, the Russian Ambassador in Ulaanbaatar took offence in June when the national TV broadcaster decided to stop transmitting the victory parade live from Moscow at the last minute.

But Mongolia had its own reason - June 24 was the parliamentary election day and the national TV thought that broadcasting the parade could sway votes.

The Russian Embassy castigated the Mongolian TV channel on Facebook and prompted a furious reaction from the Mongolian public.

As the country is becoming more important to Russia for its strategic goals in the region, Medvedev and Lavrov will likely press Mongolian leaders to take more concrete steps in siding with emerging partnership (not alliance) between China and Russia, which would be well positioned to counter the US-led Quad's overtures.

Mongolia has been skilfully fending off neighbors' pressures to join Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Eurasian Economic Union for many years.

On a practical level, the key thing to watch in coming months is to what extent Gazprom’s “Power of Siberia 2” will progress, on which Khurelsukh banks a lot to build credits for potential presidential bids next year.

The pipeline is projected to run for almost 2,000 km, carrying up to 50bn m3 per year of gas from the Russian Arctic through Mongolia to China. Mongolia wants $1 billion in transit fees annually. Almost-free gas could solve the winter air pollution in Ulaanbaatar and could strengthen Russian interests in Mongolia in coming years.


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