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Regular version of the site

Russia Is Emerging as a True Eurasian Power

Russia's collaboration with the countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and Asia in general, was the central theme of the session ‘Integration Processes as a Resource for Internal and External Development’.

Russia and Central Asia

Elena Kuzmina (Institute of Economics at the Russian Academy of Sciences, IE RAS) gave the presentation 'Russia's Challenges and Interests in Central Asia at Present', focusing in particular on Russia's positions in Central Asia.

Kuzmina concluded that even though Russia's positions there have seriously weakened since the global crisis, Russia remains the largest trading partner for Central Asian countries. She further mentioned that Russia's two main disadvantages in its economic cooperation with Central Asia are the lack of competitiveness of Russian products and poor domestic support of exports in Russia.

Major migration flows link Russia and Central Asia and serve the interests of all parties. Remittances from Russia are estimated to reach between 20% and 80% of the GDP of Central Asian countries. 'Russia needs immigrants from Central Asia but has yet to create a legal framework for attracting immigrants, keeping track of them, and providing them with decent work–maybe by adopting the European Union's experience', says Kuzmina.

Vladimir Pereboyev from the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) quoted extensive empirical data in his presentation 'EDB Integration Barometer: Public Perception of Eurasian Integration'.

In 2012, EDB collaborated with the Eurasian Monitor Research Agency to conduct a large-scale (over 13,000 respondents) survey in the former Soviet Union, looking at various aspects of integration and cooperation with regard to three broad groups of countries: ‘Countries of the Former USSR’ (except the Baltic States), ‘Countries of the European Union’, and ‘Others’.

In respect to three key areas of cooperation – the economy, politics, and culture – the post-Soviet space retains its attractiveness for the majority of participating countries, except Azerbaijan and Georgia. Ukraine and Russia attract the most interest in other countries of the former Soviet Union, but Russians and Ukrainians tend to focus more on the European Union rather than on the post-Soviet space; this attitude is a major 'stumbling block' for Eurasian integration.

Russia and the Asia-Pacific Region

Elena Martynova, a doctoral student in the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, spoke about Russia's policy with regard to Asia-Pacific integration, in particular the APEC Summit of 2012. She noted that 'now is a good moment for a political breakthrough in Asian relations and the diversification of markets since the Arab revolutions and the growing tensions in Iran have caused the largest consumers of energy to look to other suppliers'. In addition, APEC economies – through the Common Economic Space (CES) and the Customs Union (CU) of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus – may integrate with the European Union, and Russia sees this 'Eurasian integration vector' as an alternative to the U.S. strategy of returning to Asia, announced in 2011.

In recent years, Russian political circles have extensively discussed the need to step up cooperation with the countries of East and Southeast Asia, but at the moment Russia contributes less than 1% to the global trade volume. The biggest exporters to Russia are Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, and the biggest importers are Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Many countries of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) rate far above Russia in terms of having a favourable business climate, but, strangely enough, Russian businessmen do not see this as a cause for cooperation.

Director of the HSE’s Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies  Timofei Bordachev concluded the session with a presentation on the main trends of political and economic development in the Asia-Pacific region and Russia's interests.

'Russia's turn towards Asia may be considered a fait accompli', believes Bordachev. 'Even though we continue to look to Europe for democratic and other values, we no longer see Europe as an absolute number one partner. Russia is no longer trying to appear a European country with a large estate in Asia but rather is emerging as the true Eurasian power of the 21st century'.

In Bordachev’s opinion, Asia offers the most promising markets for Russia. In addition, Asia's growing military capacity is forcing Russia to develop its Trans-Baikal and Far Eastern regions to make them appear less vulnerable.

Maria Glazyrina, second-year Faculty of Law student and HSE News Service intern

See also:

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Live Long There and Prosper: How Internal Migration from Small Towns Works

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