Russia in the Indo-Pacific region

Picture: Vivekananda


The economic recovery of Asian countries has dramatically changed the geopolitical contours of the Indo-Pacific region, thanks to which a larger world order has also emerged. In this regard, for Russia the Indo-Pacific region is a strategically important region, with which bilateral and multilateral relations are actively promoting. This is reflected in Russia’s new partnerships with ASEAN, SAARC, Africa and the Gulf, based on its arms and natural resources diplomacy. At the same time, the Greater Eurasia concept of Russia seems to successfully complement the Indo-Pacific region, giving a new impetus to the development of the Russian Far East.

Significance of the Indo-Pacific Region for the Greater Eurasian Partnership

Russia has already announced its pivot to the East, as well as the creation of the Greater Eurasian Partnership, which collectively covers vast territories closely related to the Indo-Pacific region. The importance of being landlocked cannot be underestimated, given that the Eurasian territory is washed by the Arctic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, which dynamically interact with each other. In this sense, Russia’s participation in the Indo-Pacific is important because the idea will have an impact on Eurasia, the landmass that is central to Russia’s positioning in a multipolar world.

Securing the Arctic starts with the Pacific

The Arctic is geographically linked to the Indo-Pacific region by the Bering Strait. This means that ensuring the security of the Arctic should begin in the Pacific Ocean, directly in its northern part, which is the area of ​​responsibility of the Pacific Fleet, the development and strengthening of which should be given top priority. As for the economic development of the Arctic, it is possible only with the attraction of investments and technologies from large Asian players. Thus, technologies, investments and trade with Asian countries are becoming a key factor in the development of the Arctic, and Russia faces a difficult task: to ensure the attraction of these technologies and investments on such conditions that its sovereign interests are not affected.

Russia’s Indo-Pacific concept

The Russian concept of the Indo-Pacific region is based on the following principles:

  • commitment to ASEANcentrism
  • the desire to prevent the rivalry between the United States and China from escalating into a cold, and in the future – a full-scale war

These efforts include the adoption by Russia of a five-year roadmap focused on trade and investment cooperation, the digital economy and sustainable development with 10 ASEAN members. Meanwhile, at the Sixth Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok in September 2021, Vietnam offered itself as a bridge connecting ASEAN with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union.

On the other hand, Russia is an important arms supplier to the Indo-Pacific region and aims to become a significant energy supplier in the coming years to diversify its exports outside of Europe.  Against this background, Russia does not support the AUKUS and QUAD group, as they are aimed at further militarizing the region. Russia sees this as an attempt by the United States to reformat its regional presence against China, whose influence in the Indo-Pacific region the Americans are trying to weaken. Russia tries to show that it is not going to leave the and that the region remains in the sphere of Russia’s interests.

The states of the region themselves are not against the presence of Russia. On the contrary, ASEAN focused on including as many states as possible in the region in order to prevent conflicts by increasing interdependence. For its part, India noted that it would be happy to interact with its special, privileged and strategic partner on this issue.  Expert Ashley J. Tellis in an interview to Carnegie Moscow Center notes that Indian diplomats are very persistent in seeking Russia to become part of a broader Indo-Pacific interaction, as Delhi realizes that otherwise it will be difficult to maintain the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region.

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