Russia foreign policy plans for 2020

Russia foreign policy of the last fifteen years is said to have been quite successful. At the same time there are indications that show ideological content lacking consistency regarding main global development trends. Six experts in Russian foreign policy were asked by The Moscow Times to give their predictions on what Russia hopes to achieve in 2020. The topics included: Russia-China trade, Middle East partnership, relations with the EU or further African integration.

The first topic starts by describing ambitious target, that has now been pushed back to 2024 – ‘the year 2020 should have been the year when trade turnover between Moscow and Beijing surpassed the $200 billion mark’ – which was proclaimed in 2010. On the other hand, the article mentions Sino-Russian trade that surpassed the $100 billion mark in 2018, working towards increasing the number as one of the goals for 2020.

Another phase to consider is the Siberia gas pipeline – Gazprom plans to ‘pump at least 5 bcm of gas to China’ – as Russia aims to seek dominance on the Chinese crude markets, as well as increasing its exports of food products or hydrocarbons. It is also said that Moscow is trying to ‘break through non-tariff barriers on the Chinese side in order to grow agricultural exports to China’. Article sums up Russian imports as possibly becoming ‘another driver of trade’ saying:

“Despite anemic growth rates at home, the Kremlin is entering into deeper engagement with Chinese tech giants like Huawei, as Russia tries to decrease its dependence on Western technology and rely more on alternatives provided by China that are viewed as cheaper and less harmful to national security.”

The article by Pjotr Sauer from 24th December then moves to the topic of Russia as a long-term partner in the Middle East, saying that ‘Russia has built almost its entire Middle Easter policy on the Syria effect’. It outlines the challenge for Russia to prove effective diplomatic affairs and come up with a long-term strategy in the Middle East. The article says that after the start of the military operation to Syria, Moscow has become to a certain extent ‘a strong player who knows how to negotiate with everyone’, but at the same time there is now expectation from Russia to ‘intervene’ in almost every regional conflict. The source provides with the problem Moscow faces, saying:

“In fact, Moscow faces its own problem of not having a definite policy with regard to Private Military Contracts and various interest groups that often operate in the Middle East, Africa and other regions of the world in contradiction to the Russian official position.”

Another aspect brought into consideration by foreign policy experts is pragmatism as a key in Europe – mentioning any constructive relations that exist between EU as a union and Russia. It is said that regarding the bilateral relations with EU members states, Russia ‘will continue its pragmatic approach: more trade, more investment, more tourism’ and mentions Russia already introducing e-visas for St. Petersburg. The experts also add EU plays an important partner for Russia, because of the ‘power of sanctions’, which can influence the Kremlin’s Nord Stream 2 project.

Further African integration topic was described by introducing Russia’s new strategy for Africa, with key goal being ‘to give Russia-Africa relations a strategic, systemic and comprehensive character’. The plans are described saying:

“Plans call for doubling the volume of Russia’s foreign trade with African countries to $40 billion over the next three or four years. Russian businesses are ready to intensify their efforts to take their rightful place in Africa’s rapidly growing consumer market, which is expected to reach $7 trillion by 2025.”

Another article by ORF from 20 May 2020, gives insights about Russia in the post-coronavirus world and provides with the ideas of one of the authors of this article about what Russia foreign policy should be based on: preserving international peace, promoting the freedom of countries to choose development models and protecting the environment and combating new global challenges. It is said that the ideas are consistent with global trends, emphasising that ‘peace, freedom of choice and sovereignty, the preservation of nature and humans is what is needed everywhere today’. Article aims at importance of seeking maximum cooperation of all countries in order to protect the environment and consolidate peace, saying: 

“Russia’s mission in this case would be saving the planet from nuclear catastrophe and environmental disaster, protecting sovereignty and freedom of choice for all countries. This is not an urge for Russia to make everyone happy at its own expense, as it was in Soviet times, but a policy that meets the interests of Russian society.”

By Julita Waleskiewicz

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