Deepening Russia-India relations . . .
Russia hosted the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) on September 4-6 in Vladivostok, featuring Indian Prime Minister Modi as an honorary guest. The forum was attended by high-level delegates from Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, and the two Koreas, as well as over 5,000 business delegates, to explore economic opportunities in Russia’s resource-rich Far East. This year’s forum resulted in a stronger partnership between Russia and India, with Russia assuring Modi of its position that the Kashmir conflict is an internal matter. The two also signed defence contracts and agreed to develop a sea link between the port cities of Chennai and Vladivostok.
An emerging regional forum . . .
Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated the EEF after the 2012 APEC meeting in Vladivostok to attract investment to develop natural resources and improve trade-related infrastructure in the Russian Far East. Putin also uses the event to boost Russia’s stance in the Asia Pacific, especially by providing a platform for engaging with Japan and the two Koreas. For example, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes to settle a territorial dispute Japan has with Russia prior to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and South Korean leaders hope to gain more business opportunities in the Russian Far East.
Hedging China . . .
Although Chinese President Xi Jinping attended last year’s forum, the EEF has actually been evolving into a gathering of countries, including India and Japan, that are concerned with China’s rising influence. The forum gives Russia an opportunity to engage key U.S. allies while it is still under the shadow of Western-imposed economic sanctions. Despite unsuccessful attempts to hold a trilateral meeting with the two Koreas, Russia foresees the economic potential to develop infrastructure, such as rail links, ports, and energy pipelines, in and through North Korea to South Korea. Given Canada’s concerns about Russia’s activities in the Arctic and the Asia Pacific, it should keep an eye on how this forum continues to evolve.
- Bloomberg News: What to watch at the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia
- Reuters: Putin rebuffs call by Japan’s Abe to sign World War Two peace treaty
- The Diplomat: Is Asia ready for an Indo Russian order?