An overview of the five most pressing issues in the Arctic reveals that a number of factors in the region may help mitigate and regulate competition and promote cooperation.
Cooperation among Arctic states is essential to reducing the potential for political, economic, or small military clashes. The fallout from the Crimea crisis, however, could spoil elements of Arctic cooperation.
Russia’s economic, political and strategic environment in the West is fast deteriorating. One obvious way to respond to this is to reach out to Asia and the Pacific.
The West’s sanctions will be damaging to Russia and its people. However, standing up to Western pressure is likely to become the main feature of a newborn Russian patriotism and the central element of national consolidation.
It seems unlikely that Russian armed forces will move beyond the Crimean peninsula. The softer and more conciliatory tone taken by Putin could be a result of the determination of the United States and Europe to take action against Russia.
The recent developments in Asia-Pacific indicate a necessity to start serious talks for “stock-taking” of the military forces in the region. Also, Russia’s active involvement in regional security affairs is needed.
Pakistan is not an important Russian trading partner in South Asia. However, with Eurasian integration involving Central Asia and traditional Russian-Indian economic ties revived, there is no sense for Pakistan to remain in a limbo.
Russia’s unconfirmed intention to buy Iranian oil throws a monkey wrench in the sensitive mechanism of negotiating a gradual easing of the regime of economic sanctions against Tehran.
Despite the diplomatic victories of Vladimir Putin, the economic stagnation in Russia is a far deeper and long-term factor.
It is time for Moscow to rethink its approach to Central Asia.