Cooperation between Russia and the South Pacific Countries: an Asia-Pacific Multilateral Dialogue Perspective
The paper specifies the potential of Asia-Pacific multilateral dialogue platforms—APEC, the ARF, the ADMM+8 and the EAS—from the perspective of re-energizing cooperation between Russia and the South Pacific countries. In the first paragraph, the authors analyze the strategy and results of Russia’s policy in APEC, the principal Asia-Pacific dialogue platform aimed at stimulating economic integration; in the second, they focus on Russia’s participation in ASEAN-centric multilateral negotiation venues that hold discussions on political and security issues. In the third paragraph, the degree of utility of those multilateral venues for strengthening relations between Russia and the South Pacific region that participate in those institutions—Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea—are revealed. The authors argue that the evolution of regional processes does not contribute to strengthening Russia’s partnership with those states. The intensification of US‑China competition (including the establishment of antagonistic structures and integration projects), the tightening of anti-Chinese rhetoric in the United States and its ally countries leads to an increasing polarization of AsiaPacific dialogue platforms. Moreover, the agenda of those platforms, created decades ago, do not always seem to meet the present realities. The unwillingness to adapt to the urgent problems of the region results in the consolidation of a largely formal role of those platforms and in a decrease in interest of their participants. Under these circumstances, a search for a unifying constructive agenda is difficult, while without it, finding common ground with countries that have not previously been involved in any close contacts with Russia seems almost impossible. At the same time, in the foreseeable future Russia’s relations with Australia and New Zealand will be profoundly shaped by Russia’s confrontation with the West. Russia’s dialogue with Papua New Guinea is more promising. Nevertheless, owing to the geographic remoteness and lack of interest from the business community, no breakthroughs can be expected either.