Since Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014, President Vladimir Putin has accelerated the country’s pivot to Asia so as to reduce its dependence on Europe. In this podcast with Paul Haenle, Carnegie Moscow’s Alexander Gabuev noted that Russia’s strategy centers on China, the only nonaligned regional power that can meet Russia’s needs for technology, capital, and markets.
Gabuev asserted that neither Russian nor Chinese audiences have been overly receptive to Putin’s Asian pivot, aside from Chinese President Xi Jinping. For elites in Moscow, Russia’s relationship with Asia has been used primarily as a bargaining chip with the West, Gabuev said. Since Western sanctions took effect, however, Russia has had no choice but to look for other partnerships. Gabuev asserted that Beijing has taken advantage of Moscow’s limited options, but that China remains wary of Russia’s faltering economy.
Alexander Gabuev is a senior associate and the chair of the Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center. His research is focused on Russia’s policy toward East and Southeast Asia, China’s relations with its neighbors in Central Asia, and political and ideological trends in China.
Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolian Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.