Russian Policy of Turning to East: Problems and Risks

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-4-5-16
MGIMO University, 76, Prosp. Vernadskogo, Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation.
MGIMO University, 76, Prosp. Vernadskogo, Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation.

Received 17.12.2022. Revised 17.01.2023. Accepted 20.01.2023.

Acknowledgements. The research was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (grant no. 19-18-00142).

Abstract. The article addresses the political and economic risks and prospects for the Russian policy of turning to the East, in the context of the new geopolitical situation that has taken shape by the autumn of 2022. The object of the study is the region of East Asia, where Russia possesses significant interests in the spheres of economy, politics and security. Among the risks for the Russian policy of turning to the East the authors mention the lack of experience of Russia’s involvement in the regionalization processes of East Asia, as well as the cautious attitude of certain Asian countries towards Russia as an external player in the region, associated with Russia’s image as a non-Asian country and the West-centric thinking of the Russian political elite. Another risk is an increasingly noticeable tilt in Russia’s Asian policy towards China, both in the economic and political-diplomatic spheres, which is most evident in the increasing dependence of Russian energy export on the Chinese gas markets. Such tilt endangers Russia’s status of a neutral power enjoying a special authority in the region as a country with considerable mediation potential not involved in any of the regional conflicts. Among the recommendations for Russia, the authors mention the necessity for the projects of “coupling” the Greater Eurasia with the infrastructure development in the Asia-Pacific countries, which should be devoid of an ideological commitment and should be based solely on pragmatic considerations. Besides, Russia needs to step up its diplomacy in the multilateral economic and political organizations of the region – the SCO, BRICS, RCEP, the East Asian Summit, as well as think over long-term plans for the development of relations with major Asian partners on bilateral tracks. Finally, it would be desirable to develop the “second track” dialogue with partner countries, both in bilateral and multilateral formats, which would provide a platform for a frank exchange of views against the background of insufficient level of the political contacts. In any case, it is necessary to pursue a meaningful and well-coordinated strategy in the East, based on an accurate understanding of national interests and the effective use of available resources. 

Keywords: Russia, turn to East, East Asia, Western sanctions, Ukraine, special military operation, energy sector, tilt towards China, Greater Eurasia, regional integration, bilateral tracks


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For citation:
Torkunov A., Streltsov D. Russian Policy of Turning to East: Problems and Risks. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2023, vol. 67, no. 4, pp. 5-16. EDN: QBQAWC

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