The year 2022 was full of events of a truly historic dimension and became, without exaggeration, a turning point for Russia's foreign policy, marked by the formation of a new international reality. Recovery of the global economy after the Covid-19 pandemic and the beginning of our country’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine (SMO) catalysed transformational processes in global development.
Brewing deep contradictions between Russia and the US-centric West, which contributed to the war conflict in Ukraine, provoked an aggravation of the situation around Taiwan, destabilised world food and energy markets, finally broke out in 2022. This expedited the dying off of the obsolete unipolar world order and its replacement with a more equitable polycentric world structure that reflects the balance of interests of all members of the international community. Such multipronged formats as the Eurasian Economic Union, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS are coming forward, with our partners, including from Asia, being increasingly involved this way or another in their activities.
Due to the crisis in relations with the “collective West” (nominally, of course, there is no unity there), the Russian leadership, pursuing multipronged diplomacy, has opted for preferential cooperation with countries of non-Western world, which predominantly have dissociated from the attempts by the United States and its allies to isolate Russia and ensure global application of their unilateral sanctions bypassing the UN Security Council. Curtailed ties with Washington and its satellites enabled Moscow to intensify and deepen cooperation in various fields with the Asia-Pacific countries with an eye to providing conditions for solving such tasks as: re-routing export-import flows; enhancing the existing and establishing new international transport and logistics chains across Asia; creating interbank payments mechanisms resistant to sanctions pressure (such mechanisms should be located outside national jurisdictions, be secure, depoliticized, automated and not dependent on a single control centre). Transition to settlements in national currencies with the Asia-Pacific countries will inevitably gain momentum. This is the logic of a sovereign economic and financial policy in a multi-polar world.
Multi-polar world order and practical cooperation lie at the core of approaches of Russia, which has chosen the path of cultural and civilisational self-determination, of developing cooperation on such platforms as ASEAN, IORA, APEC and the East Asian Summits. It will enable us to broaden and deepen relations with the countries of the Global South and East, which are contemplating truly universal and equal alternatives to the Western model of global governance.
The Asian direction of Russia’s foreign policy covers a vast region with the population of more than four billion people (60% of the world’s population) and a capacious domestic market. Asia has bright prospects – for instance, to become one of the locomotives for the development of Eurasia and the whole humankind.
Notably, Asia is a region of multifaceted interconnections and economic dynamics. It has shaped a unique culture of cooperation between states based on the principles of equality and mutual respect. Even now, amidst the intensive military-political conflict in Europe, Asian countries show the ability for restraint and cooperation. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the association of a new type based on the constructive vision and not aimed against anyone, can serve as an example of successful collaboration among the countries of broad Asia. The SCO member states pursue the policy of openness and trust.
Russia and most of the Asian countries with a cool eye identify the source of persisting imbalance in the system of international relations, which stems from the Western minority’s reluctance to recognise the multi-polar reality and abandon its hegemonic ambitions. The Western states persevere in their attempts to weaken the new centres of power in military-political and economic spheres, to bring everyone under their diktat.
However, the common challenges faced by the international community today raise some questions for the Asian countries as well. It is becoming increasingly evident that the global balance of powers is being tilted not in favour of the US-led “collective West”, which has been persistently attempting to retain its dominant position enjoyed for the last five centuries.
Thus, recently we have been witnessing pressing endeavours of non-regional powers to reshape the existing order in the Asian-Pacific region in their own narrow interests. The US promoted concept of “free and open Indo-Pacific region” comes laden with destructive, rather than unifying potential. Its true goal is to divide the countries of the region into “interest groups” and to undermine the multilateral basis of the regional system of intergovernmental relations in order to establish its own dominance and impose a security system designed primarily to deter Russia and China.
Evidently, any new ideas concerning strategic development of the Asian-Pacific region should contribute to shaping a common space for cooperation there. The regional architecture should be drawn up by joint efforts relying on the principles of indivisibility of security, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful settlement of disputes and refraining from threat or use of force. The pandemic has indicated the need to search for new chains of supplies and technologies, to attract investments necessary for large-scale projects.
As President Vladimir Putin has recently noted, our world has entered a period of revolutionary transformations, which are fundamental in their nature. We are witnessing emergence of new centres of power representing the majority of the international community that stand ready not only to declare their interests, but also to defend them. China, India, other countries of the Asian-Pacific region, as well as the states of the Middle East, Latin America and Africa are consolidating their positions in the global market. Russia has enough partners and like-minded countries on these continents to maintain a vibrant dialogue.
The emerging centres of power (the macro regions; such spacious areas, in fact, constitute the economic basis for the multi-polar world order), including in Asia, most probably have their own internal rules and logic of development. However, in general, they will seek partnership and dialogue rather than confrontation. The development will be conducted through the civilisational dialogue based on spiritual and moral values. Hence, the whole system of international relations will become not only multi-polar, but also heterogeneous, founded on the principles of benevolent non-interference. This will largely undermine the influence of the international structures oriented at the US and their allies, which have grown decrepit and unable to fulfil their tasks. Simultaneously, the security of the said macro regions will be strengthened, for the clear benefit of the entire world.
The writer is Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh