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NIAS Europe Studies
Russia and Eastern Economic Forum 2022: A sturdy Far East

  Padmashree Anandhan

Putin showcases a stronger Russia and a reinforced partnership in the far East

About the Eastern Economic Forum 2022
On 07 September, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin gave an address at the 7th Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok. The forum was conducted from 05 to 08 September under the theme “Towards a multipolar world,” focusing on areas of cooperation in the Far-East regions of Russia, especially the Asia-Pacific, ASEAN countries, and international investment companies to boost economic growth.

Two major deals signed by Russia were between Mongolia and Myanmar. First, Mongolia’s “Policy of new revival” where the goal is to strike cooperation in 50 projects under six areas such as border checkpoints, energy, industry, green development, and enhancing state operations. This development goal will incorporate Russia and China’s programme to involve its investors and high-performing companies. The end goal is to make Mongolia a leading country in Asia in societal, economic, and security factors. Second, Russia and Myanmar signed nuclear cooperation roadmap for 2022 to 2023. Under the agreement, Rosatom and the Ministry of Electric Power of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar will draft the lines of cooperation in the nuclear sector and produce a legal framework for establishing modular reactor projects in Myanmar.

Putin’s Statement: Three Takeaways
First, warning over grain deal. Putin highlighted the unresolved food crisis problem. Where out of the 87-grain export ships only two had been transported to Africa, comprising three per cent of 60000 tonnes, whereas the remaining were sent to European countries. Although sanctions on Russia’s food and fertilizers have been removed by the West as per the deal, the restrictions over logistics, transit, money transfer, and insurance still exist challenging Russia’s exports to the rest of the world. Another drawback for Russia pointed out by Putin was the missing regulations in the grain deal over destinations of the exports. Putin stressed that, in the upcoming November negotiation where parties will get back for discussing the extension, Russia is expected to bargain on exporting to the poorest countries to prevent the rise in food prices and famine.

Second, a stable economy and an advantageous Asia-Pacific. With the widening crunch in terms of economic, financial, and technology, Putin assured Russia’s stability in the market and indicated decreasing inflation. He said that despite the lowest employment rate, issues in industries, and individual industries' impact due to the withdrawal of western companies, several countermeasures have been taken to stabilize its economy. Another advantage Russia holds is the Asia-Pacific cooperation, where many states have been excluded from following the Western sanctions benefitting both economies. Some of the significant project collaborations between Russia and the Asia-Pacific have been in modern technologies, infrastructure developments, oil, natural gas, mining, geological exploration of raw materials, logistics, and the development of north-south and sea corridors. On the question of whether Russia has lost as a state in the Ukraine war and if it could still afford its expenses. Putin said: “I am sure that we have not lost anything and will not lose anything.” He added that Russia will aim to reinforce its sovereignty and Russia’s position at the domestic and foreign policy levels. 

Third, criticism against the West. Putin accused the West of imposing its own “models of behaviour,” and the dominance of the US to influence the world’s economy and politics. He pointed out that despite, Asia-Pacific countries becoming the center for technological, economic, capital, and personnel, the interference from the West has led to global inflation. Mainly through sanctions, norms, Euro-Atlantic unity, short-sighted decisions, and lack of vision of the Western elites have pushed the European economy into a troubled sphere, pushed down the quality of life for Europeans, dropdown in competitive business enterprises, and thereby price rise of food and energy products.

Who else took part in the EEF 2022
Leaders from Myanmar, Armenia, Mongolia, China, India, Malaysia, and Vietnam participated in the forum. Apart from the leaders, delegations from South Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan, diplomatic corps from 25 countries, international business personnel, and experts around the world took part in the discussion.

The key address was provided by the Prime Minister of the Interim Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Myanmar Min Aung Hlain, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Mongolia Luvsannamsrein Oyuun-Erdene, and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China Li Zhanshu. While the virtual address was provided by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of Malaysia Ismail Sabri Yacob, and Prime Minister of Vietnam Pham Minh Tinh.

Min Aung highlighted the brewing issues of Myanmar in food insecurity, fuel, and agricultural products and how the financial challenges faced by developing countries can be met through the use of rubles, yuan, and rupee currencies. He called for investors to increase their investments to push up the partnership amongst the eastern countries to avoid western influence and promote the development of ASEAN.

Oyuun-Erdene spoke on Mongolia’s problem in accessing the sea and the land-locked positions which have led to many border checks and conditions limiting its economic growth. He proposed three areas of collaboration. First, the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia to China via Mongolia to keep the economies “united.” Second, more investments towards establishing an eastern vertical railway line linking Russia, China, and Mongolia. Third, energy project partnership for meeting domestic needs, exporting electricity and producing green energy through partners from Russia and China.

The representative from China agreed on the growing Sino-Russia relations and Russia’s support for Xi Jinping's global development and global security initiatives. He highlighted the key economic cooperation over the Northern Sea Route which is expected to boost cooperation between Chinese firms and Russia’s Far East in terms of maritime transport. Providing the trade value between China and Russia's Far Eastern Federal District, Northeast Asia has become a prime region for cooperation between both.

About the Author

Padmashree Anandhan is a Research Associate at the School of Conflict and Security Studies, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. She is currently working on the essay on Europe in 2020’s: Internal and external challenges.

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