Triumphant summits between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping may end with propaganda fanfare, but multilateral meetings are where one can really measure the progress of Russia’s “pivot to Asia.” Moscow’s showing at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue is an indicative example.
If the Eastern Partnership were all about the EU, money, and visas, it would have made sense. But it’s just a useless attempt to fill the void along the EU’s eastern borders. The only real goal is to divide post-Soviet Europe into Russia and “not Russia.”
The Xi’s visit to Moscow was the realization of a “win-win” formula beloved by the Chinese. The negotiations between Xi and Putin can be seen as a shared symbolic victory and as a broad declaration of good intentions, but the fight over who can benefit more in practical terms has already begun.
The success of the Urumqi meeting between the representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban, also attended by Chinese and Pakistanis, is doubtful. The role of Pakistan in the organization of the meeting is the most controversial issue.
Non-government organizations have become “undesirable” in Russia, along with Russian experts and specialists. In fact, they are not undesirable for Russia, which actually needs them very badly, but undesirable for the current regime.
Presidency of the BRICS will allow Moscow to position itself as a participant of an association that offers an alternative to the global world order, and the grouping’s summit in Ufa will give the Russian government an opportunity to present the country as a leader of the non-Western world.
The Ukraine crisis was not just about Ukraine, or even Europe. It was about the global order, which promises a long competition with a yet-unforeseen result.
Japan’s national interests need to be front and center, rather than subordinated to the not always clear vision—or lack of it—of a particular administration in Washington. These interests demand that Tokyo keeps a viable relationship with Moscow.
The intensity of Moscow’s current contact with Tehran is unprecedented in Russia’s post-Soviet history. Yet despite the potential for improvement, there are serious obstacles that may hamper or even halt cooperation.
Russia is tilting toward China in the face of political and economic pressure from the United States and Europe. This does not presage a new Sino-Russian bloc, but the epoch of post-communist Russia’s integration with the West is over.
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