Russian Economic Reform

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Russia’s Approach to India & China (within Eurasia)

Published on August 05 2018
Posted by: jeff

Introduction

Two themes dominate Russian foreign policy.

One is the almost pathological need to assert the importance of Russia as a powerful player in world affairs, and this is the main reason for Russia’s actions in Syria where it now has secure military bases and has demonstrated to the world its willingness to use force.

The other theme is the more rational desire to secure its border areas by maximizing influence over its neighbors, and in particular countries of the former Soviet Union. In the face of actual and mooted NATO expansion, this was the prime motivator for the annexation of Crimea and the support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

These two themes jointly account for Russia’s enthusiasm for the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which – despite its name – is seen by Russia more in political than economic terms. The EAEU is really an attempt by Russian to exert political influence in what might be called Eurasia. In Russian foreign policy eyes, Eurasia can in practical terms best be defined as encompassing the countries which are presently members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Pakistan – plus Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Mongolia and possibly Iran. Sometimes the term “Greater Eurasia” is used, often for a wider grouping of countries that even includes ASEAN.

Russia regards China as being far more important than India when thinking about issues in the EAEU, Eurasia and the World.

China’s economic power, Russia’s long border with China, their energy-trade based economic relationship, and their shared interest in restraining US influence and power, mean that Russia and China look to assist each other in ensuring that Eurasia is a place of relative stability while they face what each sees as a generally hostile wider World.

India has little to offer Russia, apart from being a second-rank participant in its ideas about Eurasia (or Greater Eurasia) and as a buyer of Russian military and nuclear power equipment. Because Russia’s Eurasia concept has an anti-US bias, it has largely tossed aside historical warmth towards India and now warily sees it as a possible US ally in containing both Russia and China.

Conclusion 

Russia clearly, and logically, puts more emphasis on its relationship with China than with India. India, in recent years, has mainly been seen as a market for Russian military equipment and civilian nuclear technology. This has led Russia to be sometimes very casual when considering India’s broader interests. As a s result, some very influential analysts to believe that “Russia is losing India”. However, there are also signs that India growing ambitions, as evidenced in Russian eyes by the Quad, are leading to some refocus on India. According to Karaganov, Russia’s “relations with India are clear and there are unused opportunities that have been missed in the last 30 years”.

The entire 8,000 word paper can be read here:

http://russianeconomicreform.ru/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Russias-Approach-to-India-and-China-in-Eurasia.pdf