The Valdai Discussion Club Foundation, in cooperation with its partners, launched a new research project on Eurasian integration with a workshop in Shanghai on November 16-17. The aim of the project is to examine the entire Eurasian space in four dimensions and from four perspectives. The four dimensions are economic, political, security and social; and the four perspectives are Russian, Central Asian, Chinese and EU/US.
Over 200 Russian and foreign experts attended the 10th meeting of the Valdai Club. The participants focus on analyzing the internal processes and external challenges to work out a vision of Russia in the future.
Evaluating Russia’s development index during the annual poll this year, experts of the Valdai Discussion Club spoke positively about the country's growing role in national, regional and global security, foreign policy and soft power. Most negative assessment was given to performance of Russia’s political institutions, public confidence in them and the dynamics of economic development.
The research poll analyses five basic valuable aspects of contemporary Russian identity. In particular, the respondents were proposed to reflect over following principal aspects: culture, religion, ethnicity, self-identification, patriotism etc.
This report is based on discussions held at the Valdai Club's Middle East Dialogue conference, which took place in Marrakesh, Morocco, on May 14-15, 2013. The event was attended by high-profile politicians from the Middle East and North Africa, including leaders of Islamist movements, as well as prominent experts, analysts and journalists from Russia and around the world.
New ties between Russia and Japan would mark not only a breakthrough in their relations but also a significant shift in Northeast Asia’s political dynamic. Both are secondary players in a region overshadowed by an increasingly assertive China, which has not hesitated to push against the boundaries of its neighbors.
In a situation of rigid Western economic sanctions and complicated relations with practically all of its neighbors, Iran nevertheless is turning into a most important state in a vast geopolitical area that embraces the Middle and Near East, Central and Western Asia. The Iranian aspect is present in practically all international problems that draw global attention.
Asia Pacific is becoming a foreign policy priority for Russia. This is logical, as it is the most rapidly developing geopolitical region. Not only is the global economic and political center of gravity shifting to the region, the direction and forms of humanity’s future development largely depend on it. Russia’s interests cannot be fully reconciled with the interests of the United States or China.
Could Russia’s attempts to establish closer ties with countries of Southeast Asia or Indochina become an issue in its relationship with China? Putin’s visits to Vietnam and South Korea will focus on certain infrastructure projects, certain easing of tensions in bilateral relations and by no means taking any steps that could undermine the major bilateral treaty with China.
With the world’s political and economic focus gradually shifting to the Asia-Pacific region, bilateral relations between China and Russia are facing new challenges and opportunities. For both China and Russia, the current changes may have a more profound impact on and significance for readjusting their development strategies than any changes that took place in previous decades.
Russia is no longer necessary as a mediator between Iran and the West because Tehran is ready to conduct independent talks with Washington. Relations between Moscow and Tehran are beset with serious problems that are making any development very difficult.
The achievements of Russian politics, including the emerging possibility for energy exports are related to the transition to a strategic partnership with China. Attempts to find other partners ranging from Japan and ASEAN countries to New Zealand and the United States have failed. The Russian-Chinese Big Treaty remains the key resource of Russia’s policy in the Pacific, as it was ten years ago.
Russia has become very adept in playing the diplomatic game, in which victory depends on choosing the right associate or partner. But there are a growing number of claimants to this role in the new horizontal and interdependent world. Aside Syria and Iran, being still important, the new venues for the application of practical diplomacy may well be Ukraine, the East China Sea and Afghanistan.
Other than Iran, no state near NATO poses a ballistic missile threat to the Alliance — with the exception of Russia. But the SM-3 interceptors to be deployed in phases 2 and 3 will be capable of engaging only medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which Russia has given up under the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Edward Snowden is not an isolated case but part of an independent community which is increasingly resolute in asserting itself and rejecting “raison d’Etat” and behind-the-scenes manipulation. The direct results of Snowden’s disclosures are most clearly evident in the context of Russian-American relations. The Snowden case has humiliated Europe, which Putin took the opportunity to remind them of.
Russia should stop offering economic assistance to Ukraine. President Yanukovych desperately needs financial relief, and, in extremis, he can promise anything in return. Ukraine has entered uncharted waters. Whatever the outcome of the current political standoff in Kiev and of the forthcoming presidential elections, the economic situation of the country is very difficult.