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Western sanctions prompt Russia to turn east in search partners

September 04, 2014, 17:02 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, September 04. /ITAR-TASS/. The US-led anti-Russian campaign over the crisis in Ukraine has prompted Moscow to turn east in search of new partners. In the Asia-Pacific Region, experts say, Russia is likely to find quite a few countries eager to establish or expand strategic cooperation.

Firstly, there is China, with whom Russia has concluded a 30-year multi-billion contract for laying the Power of Siberia oil pipeline. Within the framework of the same project Mongolia on Wednesday expressed the wish to compete with Kazakhstan for the right to transit Russian gas to China. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin on the occasion of the 69th anniversary of Vietnam’s independence voiced the certainty about comprehensive strategic partnership for the sake of ensuring stability and security in the Asia-Pacific Region.

“In any case putting all eggs into one European basket is no longer possible. Alongside attempts to come to terms with the West Russia should build up its efforts tenfold to tap Siberia’s potential anew and to devise a new Asian economic and political strategy. Faster, large-scale development of Russia’s vast Asian expanses - Siberia and the Far East - should be the focus of a new national comprehensive strategy in Asia,” the dean of the world economy and world politics department at the Higher School of Economics, Sergey Karaganov, has told ITAR-TASS.

“Russia has realized the potential benefits of Asian markets. Many are getting aware the surest way to access there is through industrial production and supplies of energy and energy-intensive products, raw materials and high value added semi-finished products to the Asian markets,” said Karaganov, the honorary president of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council.

“Russia will be able to achieve a higher technological level and strengthen its sovereignty by teaming up with Asian manufacturers, first and foremost, those in China, and also in South Korea, and, possibly, Japan, Singapore for joint projects to manufacture high-tech products, such as civilian aircraft, nuclear power reactors, oil and gas production equipment, ships and armaments,” Karaganov believes.

As a priority of Russia’s future relations with the Asia-Pacific countries Karaganov emphasized the Shanghai Cooperation Organization involving China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. He believes that in the long term the SCO may get integrated with the Eurasian Economic Community and even with the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

“For Russia’s Europe-oriented elite this turn will be no easy to make, of course. But wasting the opportunities that are now offering themselves in the East would be unforgivable and even dangerous,” Karaganov believes.

“Russia has at its disposal space and military technologies that are of great interest to China and other countries in the Asia-Pacific Region. Building up cooperation along these lines would benefit both sides,” the director of the Globalization Problems Institute, Mikhail Delyagin, has told ITAR-TASS.

“In the long run the Russian and Chinese economies may begin to complement each other, which would allow for considerably building up their potential and their share in the global GDP. Chinese factory workers’ ability to toil at the assembly lines doing monotonous jobs and their Russian counterparts’ skill to perform high precision operations on metal-cutting machine tools, if combined properly, can bring about an excellent economic result,” Delyagin believes.

“Russian-Chinese transport cooperation is opening up vast prospects, too. One of Beijing’s great concerns is the US Navy is capable of upsetting the delivery of Chinese goods to other parts of the world by sea. This explains why Beijing is so much interested in laying what may become the modern equivalent of the Silk Road to Europe. If Russia and China undertake to build a transportation hub in Crimea for the distribution of Chinese goods flows, it will be a mega project, indeed,” Delyagin speculates. “Russia should step up its economic activity in Mongolia. In its day the former Soviet Union built many industrial enterprises in that country. Now Russia should breathe a new life into them.”

“In view of the risk the world system of the division of labour may fall apart, Russia in the near future will be oriented towards countries that are not very much dependent on the United States and are theoretically prepared to join the Eurasian economic zone. Among these countries there are Japan, South Korea, India, Turkey, South Africa and some Latin American states,” the president of the Neocon consultancy, Mikhail Khazin told ITAR-TASS.

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