Eastern Economic Forum: Unleashing Russia's Asian Potential

Eastern Economic Forum: Unleashing Russia's Asian Potential
The upcoming Eastern Economic Forum in Russia's eastern port city of Vladivostok holds the promise of unleashing Russia's Asian potential and strengthening its geostrategic rebalancing to the East.

Already in its third year, this large-scale event was thought of by President Putin in order to add some much-needed substance to Russia's Eastern vector of relations, which had up until that point sorely been lacking an economic dimension. In the two years since, Russia has seen billions of dollars of deals agreed to between its nationals and their foreign counterparts covering spheres as diversified as mining, transportation, energy, agriculture, and even education.

In what seems to be growing into a tradition, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will attend the forum as he seeks to enhance bilateral cooperation with Russia and make progress in finally signing a peace treaty between the two states. Moscow and Tokyo have been actively involved in talks across the past year over Russia's Southern Kuril Islands, claimed by Japan as the "Northern Territories", and both parties have been seeking to find an acceptable compromise to this issue through economic cooperation and other creative solutions. In addition, new South Korean President Moon Jae-In is scheduled to attend the event too, so this might even see the Russian and Japanese leaders holding a trilateral meeting to discuss North Korea.

Northeast Asian countries aren't the only focus of Russia's Asian rebalancing act and expected participants at the Eastern Economic Forum, as India will be heavily represented there as well. The South Asian state has long been an ally of Moscow, though relations have weakened in some respects ever since the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless, there's a real intent on both sides to rejuvenate the underperforming economic ties between them and diversify them past their existing military and energy dependencies. Indian companies have expressed serious interest in investing all over the Far East, and if enough deals are successfully clinched, then New Delhi might eventually establish a strategic presence in this distant corner of Asia.

Altogether, what Russia is aiming for is to transform its underdeveloped Far Eastern region into the exciting convergence point between Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, Indian, and other Asian entrepreneurs, which will in turn enable Moscow to more confidently balance its Eurasian geopolitical interests in safeguarding stability in the supercontinent.

Andrew Korybko is joined by Yoichi Tamaki, Japanese political analyst, and Chandra Rekha, Associate Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies in India.

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