The Importance of Religious and Cultural Factors in Determining the New Eastern Policy of the Russian Federation: A View From Tajikistan

The Russian Federation, as one of the gravitational centres of world politics and economics, should quickly restructure its foreign policy and foreign economic activity in the current situation, both in the south and in the east, especially with countries with a predominantly Muslim population. It is necessary to increase the presence of Russian money and investments in the countries of the Global South and the Global East, which today form the backbone of the collective Non-West, writes Rustam Khaydarov, Doctor of Philosophy, expert from Tajikistan.

In 2022, a special Russian military operation in one of the countries of Eastern Europe projected large, tectonic shifts on the Eurasian geopolitical landscape. Today, the modern system of international relations is being rebuilt in accordance with new geopolitical and geo-economic realities. Based on this, in my opinion, most countries of the world community, under the influence of the above factors, will be forced to adjust or optimise their foreign policy, as well as foreign economic activity.

There is no doubt that Russia, at the current stage of its development, will also adjust its foreign policy, focusing its activity on the global East as much as possible. In our opinion, the period of the Second Cold War that has begun in relations between the collective West and the collective Non-West will generally negatively affect geo-economic, geopolitical, and geo-cultural processes throughout the world, since this period may last several decades. In this situation, those countries that are able to shed their illusions about the collective West and are able to develop a new, pragmatic policy towards the Global East and the Global South, will be able to minimise the negative consequences of the aforementioned period most quickly.

We believe that the confrontation between Russia and the collective West is a struggle of different worldviews and ways of life. This struggle goes on both in the ontological dimension and at the level of ideology. This is a struggle between liberalism, with its unnatural pseudo-values, and Eurasianism, which is a new, humanistic worldview based on collective responsibility for the fate of mankind. It is obvious that Russia will emerge victorious in this confrontation, and the collective West will not admit defeat.
Therefore, the proxy war of the collective West against Russia may continue in other regions of the world. The collective West is ready to make many sacrifices for the sake of achieving its selfish goals and realising its egoistic essence, including the unleashing of a Third World War.

Unfortunately, modern history shows that the collective West is convinced that the entire non-Western world, including Asia, Africa and Latin America, must live according to the rules, standards, worldview and inhumane pseudo-values ​​imposed by the West. Western politicians believe that the countries of Europe (meaning the collective West) are a blooming garden, and that the rest of the world is just a wild jungle. However, Russia does not want to live by the rules that the collective West is trying to impose.

Today, a renewed Russia stands for equal dialogue and cooperation between all countries of the international community, taking into account cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, different political practices and different levels of economic development. In my opinion, it is Russia that today acts as a guarantor of the preservation of peace and stability in Eurasia. As a key state in Eurasia, Russia is successfully defending its sovereignty, its right to its own Russian way of life, and its right to its own path of development in the proxy war waged against it by the collective West. This success was made possible by the fact that the leadership of Russia was able to strengthen the foundations of political and economic stability, as well as to ensure national unity in Russian society.

One of the factors that contributed to ensuring national unity in Russian society is, in my opinion, the peaceful coexistence and union of Orthodox Christianity and Islam, as the two most widespread religions in Russia. This peaceful coexistence became possible because these religions share many spiritual values ​​and approaches to life. These similar values, in turn, serve as a kind of bridge for dialogue between religions and cultures. Moreover, Islam, represented in Russia mainly by the Hanafi madhhab, is an important and integral variation of Eurasianism, which in turn is the ideological basis of the Russian strategy for global civilizational development. Therefore, it can be said with confidence that Orthodoxy and Hanafi madhhab Islam are an integral part of the Eurasian identity. Hanafi madhhab is distributed almost throughout the entire Eurasian space. In this context, I would like to emphasise that Russia has always been and is an integral and active part of the Muslim world.

In our opinion, Russia, which has a positive experience in the dialogue of religions, has built an optimal model of interreligious and intercultural harmony and interaction in the society. Russia could also use this experience in the implementation of its new Eastern policy in the regions of the world with a predominantly Muslim population.

In the process of developing and implementing a new Eastern policy of Russia in Eurasia, especially with countries with a predominantly Muslim population, it is necessary to utilise the economic, religious and cultural potential of Russian regions with a Muslim population, including both the republics of the Caucasus and the peoples of the Volga region. This factor will allow Russia to rebuild its economy with minimal damage, minimise the negative impact of the economic sanctions of the collective West, increase international trade in Eurasia to a qualitatively new level, and strengthen Russian positions in the markets of the global East. The religious and cultural similarity, commonality and identity of most of the traditions of the peoples of the Russian Caucasus, the Volga region and Central Asia is a good cultural resource which can serve as a basis for Russia building and implementing a new Eastern policy in Central Asia.

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Today, Central Asia is unwittingly turning into the main arena of confrontation between the collective West and the collective Non-West. Representatives of the collective West have officially announced that they would like to destroy the economic ties between Central Asia and Russia. It is also understood that this will affect both the military-political and cultural ties between Russia and the countries of our region.

However, Central Asia has not forgotten about the shameful retreat of the forces of the collective West from Afghanistan in August 2021. Representatives of the collective West left tens of thousands of Afghans to be torn to pieces by religiously motivated terrorists, sacrificing those who helped the collective West “build democracy” and promote liberal values ​​in medieval Afghan society. After this sad event, in Central Asia, the promises and friendship of the collective West will be treated with distrust.
Central Asia must understand that the collective West has always considered the countries of this region expendable in the fight against Russia and China.

Unfortunately, during the post-Soviet period of its development, Russia became carried away with Western ideas in its foreign policy, and slightly distanced itself from Central Asia. Therefore, today, a renewed Russia will have to revive the forgotten platforms and formats of cooperation with the countries of Central Asia and strenuously correct the miscalculations of Russian foreign policy in the region that have been made in recent years. Our Russian partners need to create conditions for the development of direct economic and trade relations between the Russian regions and the countries of Central Asia.

In our opinion, the Russian Federation, as one of the gravitational centres of world politics and economics, should quickly restructure its foreign policy and foreign economic activity in the current situation, both in the south and in the east, especially with countries with a predominantly Muslim population.

It is necessary to increase the presence of Russian money and investments in the countries of the Global South and the Global East, which today form the backbone of the collective Non-West. This will allow the countries of the Global South and the Global East to strengthen their political and economic immunity and minimise the negative impact of the global economic crisis, which arose due to the long-term economic sanctions imposed by the collective West against Russia and its partners.

In conclusion, I would like to recall that, as history shows, Russia has always been strong in the Eurasian space, when it had strong positions in Central Asia.

Asia and Eurasia
On the Current Geopolitical Situation in Eurasia: A View from Tajikistan
Rustam Khaydarov
In 2022, the modern system of international relations was optimised and began to function in the format of a tripolar world. The start of Russia's special operation in one of the countries of Eastern Europe completed the stage of the formation of a tripolar world with three gravitational centres of world politics - Russia, China and the United States.
Expert Opinions
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.