The East has become the epicentre of global changes in the field of transport. Economically justified routes of direct logistics, such as energy transit between Russia and Europe, were previously unrealizable due to the political ambitions of counterparties, but now provide an opportunity for ambitious logistics projects in the East. Perhaps this impulse was not enough for the Russian thesis about a turn to the East to take shape in a practical sense, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Andrey Sushentsov.
Eurasia is in the process of actively building its economic and political structure: the countries of the continent are overcoming their dependence on the West and are seeking out their own place in the new polycentric world. The creation of a common economic space is a long and laborious process, but several effective multilateral associations are already developing on the continent, and are beginning to show what Eurasia can become, assuming the good will of the largest economies of the continent.
At the same time, some regions continue to suffer from instability-related risks. On the one hand, the Middle East is still home to the largest concentration of political and historical conflicts: Syria and Libya remain literally fragmented, the civil conflict in Yemen is smouldering, Iraq is divided by civil strife, while the Kurdish issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict remain unresolved. New problems are emerging: there is an overflow of instability from the South Caucasus to the Middle East, and complicated relations between Azerbaijan and Iran persist. On the other hand, the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is becoming less acute, and the parties are ready to consider the process of normalising bilateral relations. In addition, there is a gradual economic synchronisation of the Middle East with Asia. China and India are strengthening their position in the region, and Asian markets are becoming key ones for the countries of the Middle East. Such integration is expected to deepen further, becoming the goal of the development of the East throughout the 21st century: the formation of a Eurasian economic and political space open for cooperation and development.
International order in the Middle East is no longer determined by external forces; it is built through the efforts of the states of the region. The main centres of influence in the region – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Israel and Algeria – play a major role in shaping a new balance and system of regional security. All of them, perhaps, except for Israel, were historically dependent on the West and are now looking for an optimal model of foreign policy based on sovereignty. In this sense, Russia is a natural partner for the Middle Eastern countries. At the same time, in contrast to the Soviet period, Moscow is not limited by bloc thinking and can develop partnerships with the countries of the region flexibly. Russia is the most important participant in the processes of regional security. Its strategic cooperation with Syria, Iran, Algeria and other countries is essential in determining the overall political landscape in the region. At the global level, Russia is also promoting the commonly held idea that the countries of the region should be able to protect their sovereignty and independence from the countries of the West.