Wider Eurasia
Russia, Greater Eurasia and Modern International Politics

Russian policymakers, it seems, are operating under the assumption that country’s interaction with its most important partners, in terms of its development and stability in Eurasia, cannot be dependent on the dynamics of the conflict between Russia and the West.

Moscow’s current tasks for achieving its development goals include: strengthening natural economic ties with its closest friendly neighbours, preventing threats from radical religious movements, stabilising links with its southern neighbours, developing economic partnerships with China, India and other countries of the World Majority, and strengthening new international associations in Eurasia and beyond. These are no less important than the outcome of the confrontation with the West. Moreover, they were all developed as national foreign policy initiatives long before the escalation of the conflict with the United States and Europe, although they received new impetus from the changes associated with it. Moreover, it would be wrong to think that if this impulse becomes less, the current priorities of Russia’s foreign relations will also change.

In this regard, it is now extremely important for Russia to build a strategy in Eurasia and beyond, regardless of how quickly the goals of the Special Military Operation in Ukraine are achieved, as well as the general objectives in the field of European security formulated officially at the end of 2021. The expansion of BRICS is already becoming Russia’s most important task as this year’s chair of the association. The agenda of Greater Eurasia is formed by strengthening cooperation mechanisms within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), maximising the opportunities inherent in the nature of the CIS, and developing Eurasian economic integration amid new conditions as well as its interaction with ASEAN countries.
Ultimately, Russia is already at the centre of a whole system of international institutions and partnerships, each of which has a unique character inherent in the future international order, not in the past one.

It is important for Russian foreign policy to be equally adaptive to the demands that are associated with this, and able to benefit not only itself, but also the future of Eurasia, as a space of equal strategic cooperation between sovereign states.

Russia's Greater Eurasia’s strategy is formed under the influence of several basic factors. First, it cannot develop in isolation from how Moscow sees a new, fairer international order. It is based on respect for international law and the sovereign equality of states, and does not allow exclusive opportunities for one state or group. Greater Eurasia, due to its geopolitical position, is the strongest material foundation of this order, since the states located there naturally consider the security of their neighbours as part of their own. This cannot be typical of the United States and Western Europe, since their position is geographically isolated, which allows for the construction of dividing lines and the implementation of policies aimed at fuelling conflicts outside the narrow community of Western countries.

Second, cooperation in Greater Eurasia inevitably relies on the global structures of the new international order, among which the central place is occupied by BRICS, the expansion of which has become the most important international event of 2023. During its chairmanship of the group, Russia will have to consider, as a whole, issues related to the development of BRICS and the strengthening of international cooperation in Greater Eurasia. The overall strategic mission of BRICS - strengthening the sovereignty of the countries of the world and increasing the degree of democracy in international politics - reflects the objectives of interaction in Eurasian organisations and institutions. At the same time, Russian diplomacy apparently will take into account the restrictions that exist in a number of new BRICS countries, as well as Eurasian states in connection with their relations with Western countries. Not all participants in regional cooperation are large and powerful powers which are immune to pressure from the United States and Europe. This vulnerability is partly contributed to by the legacy of the transition from the Soviet economic model to the market one, during which some CIS countries developed special ties to and a dependence on the West.
Asia and Eurasia
Dilemmas of the World Majority
Timofei Bordachev
We are dealing with a rather unique example of a struggle in which the forces of the opponents are approximately comparable, although the superiority of the West is significant. We absolutely do not know how the countries of the World Majority would behave in conditions where the USA and Europe launched an offensive against a weaker adversary: for example, against Iran or another country of a comparable scale. Therefore, we cannot say to what extent the self-confidence of those countries that do not obey US orders now, would manifest itself in a different situation, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Timofei Bordachev.

Third, the movement of Greater Eurasia towards more intense internal integrity cannot and will never be able to be carried out within the framework of the leadership model characteristic of all international institutions of the past. In Greater Eurasia, three of the four most important powers of the modern world are located – Russia, India and China, each of which balances the others, which is a guarantee against the formation of an unequal model of relations. Unfortunately, the nature of international politics is such that large states inevitably strive to “nationalise” common institutions and governance mechanisms at the global and regional levels in a way that reflects their own interests. We can only count on a balance between them, which makes it impossible for one power to achieve leadership. In Greater Eurasia, such a balance is fairly convincing, which should reassure medium-sized and small countries that their foreign policy will not be dictated by a major player, and that there is no alternative. So far, many of the medium and small countries of Eurasia are also turning to external powers, such as the United States, in order to emphasise their independence in relations with large neighbours. However, as the West's resources are depleted and the region shifts to more selfish behaviour, such a strategy will become less and less pragmatic. Russian policy in Greater Eurasia, however, will always be able to take into account the diversity of interests and values of regional partners, rely on their sovereignty and proceed from the fact that the right to independent decisions is the main value of what we call the World Majority.

Finally, painstaking work on the practical “interconnection” of different forms of institutional and informal interaction between the countries of the region will remain important for Russian policy in Greater Eurasia. Due to its geographical location, Russia is present in most regional forums and formats, and its diplomatic experience includes various types of cooperation within their framework. The process of cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and China, which is promoting the Belt and Road initiative, still continues, the SCO agenda is becoming more diverse, and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation is occupying its unique niche. At the same time, the other major Eurasian powers - China and India - do not have the potential to create integration associations comparable in their degree of mutual openness to the EAEU. These are countries that, with few exceptions, do not have formal allies – they are the “lonely planets” of world politics. This can be seen as a challenge, since it means that there is no habit of limiting one’s capabilities, but it can also be positive, since it does not lead to the creation of closed integration associations or close alliances in Greater Eurasia. The task that will inevitably be present in the activities of Russian diplomacy is the “conjugation” of their national interests and the dynamics of the development of structured forms of international cooperation in a huge region.

In general, the richness and diversity of the agenda for interaction between the countries of Greater Eurasia creates for Russia a huge number of promising areas of foreign policy that do not directly depend on the dynamics of the ongoing conflict with the West. Practical successes here will become in the coming years an important incentive for Eurasian countries to achieve national development goals and establish a new international order in which there will be no place for dictatorship and the division of states into a privileged group and an exploited majority.
Asia and Eurasia
How Russia Can Build Relations With Friendly Countries
Timofei Bordachev
The sooner we understand that the basis of “soft power” is internal, and not in the activities of Russia’s representatives abroad, the sooner we will be able to benefit from our own objective advantages, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Timofei Bordachev.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.