The Russia-ASEAN summit being held in Sochi on 19-20 May 2016 to mark twenty years of Russia’s dialogue partnership with ASEAN is a further indicator of President Vladimir Putin’s ‘pivot to Asia’ policy, triggered also by its current confrontation with the west. Through this pivot, Moscow wants to assert Russia’s geopolitical status as a Euro-Pacific as well as Asia-Pacific power. It is a pragmatic response to the shifting of global power to Asia. It also builds on the growing Russo-Chinese relations to develop the Russian Far East, a resource-rich but underdeveloped region into the gateway for expansion of Russia into the Asia Pacific.
At the same time, the growing asymmetry in achieving the economic and strategic goals of Russia and China has resulted in fears that the Russian Far East will turn into a raw materials appendage of China. Moscow lacks the financial resources to support Putin’s Asia pivot. Therefore, Russia needs to strengthen ties with other Asia-Pacific countries and ASEAN as a regional grouping so as to attract more diversified trade and investments into its Far East region. It is in this context that the Sochi summit takes on added significance.
However, given Russia’s sporadic interest in Southeast Asia and its strategic role defined mainly by the limited potential of Russian energy and arms exports to ASEAN Member States, the PR diplomacy and summitry at Sochi may not deliver substantive outcomes for Russia. Nonetheless, Moscow aims to enhance its status in the east and seek business and strategic opportunities through the summit thereby compensating to some extent Russia’s loss following the sanctions imposed by the west over the annexation of Crimea.
About the Author
Bhavna Dave is Senior Lecturer in Central Asian Politics in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London where she also holds the position of Chair of the Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus. She is the author of the book Kazakhstan: Ethnicity, Language and Power (Routledge: London, 2007). She is editor of Modern Central Asia (London: Routledge, 2009), a four-volume collection of the most notable scholarly articles published on the region. She has published works on issues of language and ethnic identities, minorities, census politics, elections and patronage in Kazakhstan, and EU-Central Asia relations. Her recent publications and research are on labour migration and legal regulatory framework of migration governance in Russia and Kazakhstan, role of migration and development in the Russian Far East, and India-Central Asia relations.
Central Asia / Country and Region Studies / East Asia and Asia Pacific / Energy Security / International Political Economy / International Politics and Security / Southeast Asia and ASEAN / Working Papers
Last updated on 16/05/2016