Turning To The East
Russia is the land of the rising sun, said Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 5 during a meeting with activists of the environmental forum in Kamchatka. On the same day, the Russian government decided to withdraw from agreements with Japan on the procedure of mutual visits and facilitated visits to the islands of Kunashir, Iturup and the Lesser Kuril Ridge by Japanese citizens who used to live on these islands and their family members. This agreement was in force since 1999.
And on the same day Eastern Economic Forum opened in Vladivostok which was attended by many delegates not only from Russia, but also from other countries, including top officials. And at the same time, military exercises Vostok-2022, which covered five training ranges and the waters of two seas – the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan – were already underway. Two long-standing antagonists, China and India, were involved.
Even in isolated form, these events look quite impressive. And the decisions made will have far-reaching consequences. Although this is how one usually speaks of some confrontational action, still in this context it is possible to speak of the positive aspects of Russia’s policy. The prospect of creating another city in the Far East with a free economic zone is opening up. Financial and economic stimulus measures are being implemented. Additional prospects are also opening up in foreign economic activity.
Myanmar (whose leadership was present at the forum in Vladivostok) is going to buy Russian oil. In the context of diversification of energy supplies, the new agreement between Russia and China on the full transition to the ruble and yuan in mutual settlements is important news. The total amount of natural gas supplied will increase to 48 billion cubic meters per year. For comparison, the capacity of two strings of Nord Stream is 55 billion cubic meters per year. Although the total volume of supplies to Europe and Turkey together amounted to 135.75 billion cubic meters (data for 2020).
Thus, China alone will be able to purchase more than 30% of the European volume of gas. This indicates a real turn to the East. More specifically, to Southeast Asia which is becoming the engine of the world economy.
It should be noted that the concept of turning to Asian countries dates back to the era of the Russian Empire. The doctrine of “orientalism” was proposed by Prince Esper Ukhtomsky. In his small but insightful book, “To the events in China: On the relations of the West and Russia to the East”, Ukhtomsky noted the importance of interaction with countries in this region, attempts by Western powers there to sow mistrust toward Russia, and a general misunderstanding of the potential on the part of European politicians. Even then Esper Ukhtomsky noted that China was not sleeping, as Western European imperialists believe, but was awakening to movement; the country was “so powerful and huge that it is difficult to imagine what it will develop into in a few decades.
As we can see, Ukhtomsky’s predictions have become a reality. Just as Eurasianism another ideological movement that was born a century ago among the white emigration is becoming a reality. Eurasians criticized European decadent culture and politics for its explicitly racist nature and proposed the concept of Russia-Eurasia as a distinct cultural and historical unit, distinct from both Europe and unique Asian cultures with their own identities.
Strengthening the sovereignty of Russia, as noted by Vladimir Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum, just fits into the concept of Eurasianism, especially given the fact that Russia is the flagship in the Eurasian Economic Union, aimed at reintegrating the post-Soviet space. And as a sovereign state, Russia is interested in strengthening relations with similarly sovereign states based on the principle of mutual respect. The vassals and satellites of the United States do not want such a scenario, because they are content with the status and role of the client imposed on them. Therefore, they will continue to lose their sovereignty, albeit under the guise of strengthening collective defense against Russia (or China).
In this regard, President Putin said that “epidemic has been replaced by other challenges, also of a global nature, threatening the whole world. I am referring to the West’s sanctions fever, its blatant, aggressive attempts to impose patterns of behavior on other countries, to deprive them of their sovereignty and subject them to its will. There is nothing unusual about this; it is a policy that has been pursued by the collective West for decades. The catalyst for these processes became the waning world dominance of the US in politics and economy, coupled with the stubborn unwillingness and inability of the Western elites to see and recognize objective reality, Irreversible, one might say, tectonic changes have happened recently in the system of international relations… We have not lost anything and will not lose anything. In terms of what we have gained, I can say that the main gain has been the strengthening of our sovereignty, and this is the inevitable result of what is happening now. Of course, a certain polarization is taking place, both in the world and within the country, but I believe that this will only be beneficial, because everything that is unnecessary, harmful and everything that prevents us from moving forward will be rejected. We will pick up the pace of development because modern development can only be based on sovereignty. All our steps are aimed at strengthening sovereignty.”
Finally, all of this is happening against the backdrop of a worsening energy crisis in Europe and a significant rise in inflation in the United States. It is already obvious that if the geopolitical confrontation of the collective West with Russia continues, they will not be able to get cheap energy resources, as it was before. The lack of sufficient natural gas reserves will destroy important economic sectors, such as metallurgy, machine tools, processing, petrochemicals, significantly reduce the agricultural sector due to high prices of electricity and fertilizers, and directly hit the welfare of households. It seems the West will soon plunge into chaos and darkness. And Russia will continue to turn to the East in the broad sense of the word.