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Why Vladimir Putin′s new ′pivot to Asia′ will fail | Asia | An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Eastern Economic Forum in early September, cut off one’s economy from European countries He imposed heavy sanctions on Russia.

The same European countries have tried to free Russia’s energy policy from Moscow. Invasion of Ukraine Instead, we will strengthen our ties with Asia.

“The role of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region … is increasing significantly,” Putin said at a forum in Russia’s Pacific port city of Vladivostok, adding that Asia offers “huge new opportunities for our people.” ‘ added that there is.

Russia’s newly updated naval doctrine announced on August 31 also aims to increase its military presence in the east.

suffer from sanctions

Russia’s economy be hit hard by international sanctions It was imposed earlier this year, even though the government believes it will only shrink by 3% in 2022.

Philip Ivanov, CEO of Asia Society Australia, said: “Positioning Russia as a source of energy, resources, defense equipment and possibly nuclear technology is a geopolitical imperative and It’s a real wish,” he said. ,think tank.

Another failed pivot?

Analysts have suggested that Putin’s latest turnaround will be just as unsuccessful as his previous Asian orientation, dubbed Moscow’s “Turn East” policy launched in 2012.

Putin publicly admits Xi has ‘questions and concerns’ over Russia-Ukraine war

“I think it’s another failure because Russia doesn’t have much to offer the region, either strategically or economically,” said Joshua Kurlanczyk, senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Moscow needs to “go on the path of peace” after attending a regional summit with President Putin in Uzbekistan last week, while Russian leaders said Chinese President Xi Jinping publicly admitted to having “questions and concerns” about the war.

Commentators believe that Moscow has become Beijing’s “junior partner” since its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s Asia pivot has done little since 2012. Bilateral trade with Japan peaked at he$33.2bn (€33.2bn) in 2013, but has declined to just hes$20.8bn in 2021.

Trade with South Korea increased to $27.3 billion last year, with Russia accounting for just over 2% of South Korea’s total trade. And both Western-leaning Asian countries have been actively involved in Western sanctions, hurting trade with Russia this year.

remain neutral about Ukraine

Singapore has imposed the only unilateral sanctions in Southeast Asia against Russia, citing Ukraine’s aggression.

Under the first pivot, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) upgraded its relationship with Russia to a “strategic partnership” in 2018, four years after Russia “annexed” it. Crimea, part of Ukraine. However, ASEAN-Russia trade volume has grown from his $18.2 billion in 2012 to just $20 billion in 2021.

This pales in comparison to last year’s ASEAN trade with China ($878 billion) and the United States ($441.7 billion). ASEAN’s trade with Taiwan is worth almost four times as much as its trade with Russia.

Most Southeast Asian nations have tried to remain neutral on the Ukraine war, but even Russia’s traditional allies are isolated. Since 1990, Russia has been a major supplier of military equipment to the region, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Regional leaders sit around a large table at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan on September 16, 2022

The SCO conference marked Putin’s first major international outing since Russia sent troops to Ukraine in February.

plummeting exports

But in August Philippines Under U.S. pressure, it canceled a contract to purchase 16 Russian military helicopters.

Vietnam, which purchased four-fifths of its military equipment from Russia between 1995 and 2021, could violate the U.S. Anti-American Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which threatens sanctions against countries buying arms from Russia. I am concerned that

But the main Asian importer of Russian munitions had already turned away before the Ukrainian war. According to his recent SIPRI report, Russian arms exports to India and Vietnam fell by 47% and 71% over the 2012-16 and 2017-21 periods, respectively.

limited success

The exception is the military government that currently controls limited areas of Myanmar. Russia has been the junta’s main international benefactor since its February 2021 coup, providing weapons, aid and cheap energy.

Hunter Marston, a researcher and analyst at the Australian National University, said: “Myanmar’s military junta has embraced the Putin government with open arms as a partner to avoid over-reliance on Beijing. ‘ depends on mutual despair and a shared authoritarian political system.” in Canberra.

If either the military junta leader Min Aung Hlaing or Putin lost their grip on power, relations between Myanmar and Russia would likely suffer a major setback, “thus, the relationship is not sustainable at the moment.” no,” he added.

booming energy

Frederick Kliem, a researcher and lecturer at Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said no ASEAN member “has an economic future with Russia”, except for Myanmar under military rule.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the SCO Summit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says Moscow must ‘go on the path of peace’

But one area where Russia could gain some friends is in energy cooperation, he added. Many Asian countries are debating whether to pursue nuclear power at the same time that investment in the renewable energy sector is booming.

In July, the Indonesian government said it was considering Russia’s proposal to develop a nuclear power plant. In the same month, NovaWind, a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Rosatom, signed a contract with Vietnam to develop his 128MW wind farm, the company’s first overseas project.

Grappling to Allies

Russia’s imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Asia have increased since the start of the Ukraine war. Japanese For example, imports increased 211% in August compared to the same month last year. The Indonesian government, which is not a regular importer of Russian gas, said this week it was considering imports to offset rising energy costs.

But analysts question whether this is a long-term strategy for Russia, as many Asian countries have only increased imports of historically low-priced Russian gas due to Western sanctions. However, these interest rates may not last very long.

Shadda Islam, an independent analyst on Europe-Asia relations, said Asian governments desperately wanted an end to the Russo-Ukrainian war amid fears of soaring inflation, food insecurity and rising costs of living.

“However, this suggests that governments and people in the region are under no illusions about the real geopolitical reasons behind his newfound courtship of Asia, as Putin seeks allies in his fight against the West. It does not mean that you have

“Most Asian nations are learning the hard way to avoid being used as pawns of the so-called great powers on the geopolitical chessboard. It wouldn’t be more successful than a lackluster attempt… in this area of ​​the game. ”

Editing: Keith Walker

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