January 4, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11061

Russia's Higher School Of Economics: 'Russia Does Not Have And Is Unlikely To Have Permanent Allies'; 'China And Russia Are The Most Important Geopolitical, Geo-economic And Military-Strategic Resource For Each Other'

January 4, 2024
Russia, China | Special Dispatch No. 11061

In December 2023, the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs of Moscow's Higher School of Economics published a report[1] prepared following a series of studies, conferences, and situational analysis sessions conducted under the situational analysis program by the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs itself, the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and Russia in Global Affairs journal with support from the State Duma Committee on International Affairs and under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

The purpose of the study is "to work out the basic principles, guidelines, and goals for interaction with the World Majority,[2] including an agenda for global development and world politics as an alternative to the existing one." The report mentioned: "Since the West continues to step up military support for Kiev and even creates conditions for strikes into Russian territory, it is advisable to prepare the ruling circles and societies of the World Majority countries for a possible conflict escalation, including through political or even – in extreme cases – direct use of the nuclear factor. The very fact of discussing this issue with the political and expert circles in the World Majority countries will become a powerful factor in containing the West and breaking its will to engage in aggressive behavior."

Following is a chapter of the report, titled "Crucial Aspects of the New Policy With Regard to Some Regions of the World Majority," which advises the Kremlin about which policy to adopt with each country of the "World Majority":[3]

Global Majority: "Where Interests Overlap, Interaction And Ad Hoc Alliances Are Needed; Where They Diverge Or Even Collide, Contradictions Must Be Managed"

"The fact that politically Russia is part of the World Majority does not mean that it is comprised in the Global South or is its full part. In geographical, geoeconomic, geocultural, climatic and other senses, Russia remains a northern country. The problems of climate change, demography (including population migration), food, debt, and natural resources are seen in Russia differently than in many World Majority countries. Where interests overlap, interaction and ad hoc alliances are needed; where they diverge or even collide, contradictions must be managed. We can be a source of solutions to problems facing some of the World Majority countries, for example, by acting as a guarantor of food, energy, information, military and other types of security."

Being Russia Part Of The Arctic "May Encourage" Countries Of "The Collective West" To "Develop Cooperation"

"The fact that Russia belongs in the Arctic region makes the Arctic a powerful resource for interaction with interested countries of the World Majority. In the future, this fact may encourage such countries of the collective West as Japan and South Korea to develop cooperation, and even more so Arctic Council member states that will not survive the transformation of the Arctic into an arena of confrontation."

Relations With Countries Of The CSTO Are Partnership Without Firm Political Or Military Commitments

"In principle, Russia does not have and is unlikely to have permanent allies, with the exception of Belarus within the framework of the Union State. Relations with the countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) are, in fact, a partnership without firm political or military commitments. The same applies to the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

"Making Russia's policy in the former Soviet space more effective should be the subject of a separate study. We will just say that Moscow should work in the immediate surroundings much more actively and flexibly, interacting with a wider range of counterparties at the country and intra-country levels, including those who are in conflict with each other. Outside the CSTO/EAEU, two countries are of particular importance: Uzbekistan as the largest country in Central Asia and Azerbaijan as an immediate neighbor and part of the North-South Corridor."

"Russia Has A Unique Strategic Partnership With China"

"Russia has a unique strategic partnership with China, which, unlike formally allied relations, excludes hierarchy and firm commitments. In the modern context, China and Russia are the most important geopolitical, geo-economic and military-strategic resource for each other. Further rapprochement with China is necessitated not only by the internal needs of the two countries, but also by the dynamics of Russian-American and Sino-American relations. At the same time, it should not depend on them. The U.S. hopes to defeat both opponents one by one, avoiding a 'two-front war;' it is in the interests of Russia and China to prevent the implementation of Washington's strategic plans by forcing it and the West as a whole to confront the two great powers at once. This scenario is obviously unaffordable for the United States and unacceptable for its European allies.

"It is necessary to maintain a close relationship between Moscow and Beijing, primarily trade and economic, but also in the field of high technologies, closely coordinating efforts in many areas. China, however, will continue to play by the existing rules for the time being in order to buy time to continue the internal restructuring currently underway."

"The Strengthening Of China's Position In Its Confrontation With The United States Is In The Interests Of Russia"

"Beijing is buying time by not allowing its international isolation, while Washington's resources and arm-twisting potential are dwindling. The strengthening of China's position in its confrontation with the United States is in the interests of Russia.

"Russia and China do not have completely identical approaches towards changing the existing world order. China is deeply embedded in the globalization processes and striving, at least in the medium term, to transform the existing order smoothly instead of replacing it. The reasons for that are quite understandable: social and domestic political stability in China depends on access to the U.S. and EU markets; China lacks self-sufficiency in foods. Nevertheless, Russia and China have very wide possibilities for interaction on international problems. As the confrontation between China and America deepens, Chinese approaches will gravitate towards the Russian ones.

"Russian experts and politicians should study Beijing's global vision of the world more closely. This will help avoid possible misunderstandings, including public ones, and also facilitate joint relations with other World Majority countries.

"There are concerns that once China has achieved strategic self-sufficiency, it may partially lose interest in relations with Russia in the long term. Therefore Russia needs to diversify ties with the World Majority countries and eventually normalize relations on the western flank to the extent possible. The sooner we force the United States (including using the nuclear factor) to look for ways to normalize relations, the better. But this will not happen any time soon."

"It Is In Our Interest To Help Reduce Tension Between New Delhi And Beijing"

"In the new conditions, strategic relations with India are extremely important for Russia; ideally, Russian-Indian ties should be brought closer to the level of Russian-Chinese relations. This is a serious challenge, given the extremely difficult relations between these two countries. It is in our interest to help reduce tension between New Delhi and Beijing. Russia should pay primary attention to India in order to determine reserves for boosting economic relations, technological cooperation and other elements of interaction. Russia needs strategic dialogue with New Delhi and particularly its own Eurasian maritime concept that would cover the North, and the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

"There is an opinion that Russia should not strongly oppose the concept of the Indo-Pacific community, because this concept does not threaten Russian interests. In fact, Russia's negative rhetoric causes a very painful reaction in India."

"It Is In Russia's Interests To Support Turkey's Independent Foreign Policy"; Iran's Importance For Russia Is "Growing Due To Changes In Supply Chains That Connect Russia With The Outside World"

"In Asia, positive interaction with neighboring countries – Turkey and Iran – is fundamentally important.

"Turkey is a NATO member and an important regional ally of the United States. But it pursues an independent policy that creates political, economic, and military opportunities for Russia. At the same time, Turkey is a geopolitical competitor of Russia in a number of regions. It is in Russia's interests to support Turkey's independent foreign policy, tactfully managing contradictions in areas that are sensitive for Russia. While maintaining a generally positive balance of relations with Turkey, Russia should try to ensure that it does not depend on leadership reshuffles in Turkey. To this end, Russia should establish a working relationship with all significant groups within the Turkish elites and develop knowledge about Turkey.

"Unlike Turkey, Iran is not an ally but an opponent of the United States, an object of Western sanctions. Russian-Iranian cooperation, including military-technical, has strengthened since the start of the SMO. Iran's importance for Russia is also growing due to changes in supply chains that connect Russia with the outside world. The development of the North-South Corridor passing through Iran has become a priority. Iran has joined the SCO, making it stronger, and it has also received an invitation to join BRICS [Iran officially became a member of the China-led BRICS economic organization on January 1, 2024]. Negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program, conducted with the participation of Russia, were interrupted because of the U.S. position. Some participants in the situational analysis expressed the opinion, supported by a number of experts, that following the West on the Iranian nuclear program had been counterproductive.

"At the previous situational analysis devoted to nuclear deterrence, Russian policy had been assessed even more critically. It would be prudent to develop Russian-Iranian strategic dialogue at various levels (as well as in a trilateral format with China), including on countersanctions. In any case, Iranian studies need to be developed rapidly, especially since Iran is not an easy interlocutor and has a number of complaints about Russia's policy both in the past and at present."

"The Gulf Countries Are An Important Potential Source Of Investment In The Russian Economy"

Among other important players in the Middle and Near East and North Africa, we note Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Morocco, and Pakistan. Relations with all these countries require a careful individual approach, taking into account, among other things, their relations with each other. The Gulf countries are an important potential source of investment in the Russian economy, and they are our OPEC+ and GECF partners. These states are suspicious of Iran and the Russian-Iranian rapprochement. It would be advisable to step up work on the concept of regional security in the Gulf region. Considering the positive role China played in unblocking Saudi-Iranian relations, it would be advisable to act on this track together with Beijing."

"Syria Is Russia's Stronghold In The Heart Of The Middle East"

"Syria is Russia's stronghold in the heart of the Middle East, which must be held and strengthened. As part of the Syrian settlement, Russia closely interacts with Damascus, Ankara, and Tehran, and also has influence with Israel, using some opportunities for interaction with it that still remain open. Russia should further strengthen economic, political, and military ties with Egypt and create strongholds in the Red Sea region to enable the Russian Navy to sail from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. More attention should obviously be paid to Pakistan, a nuclear power and Afghanistan's neighbor. The development of relations with Islamabad, however, should not harm Moscow's relations with New Delhi."

"The Republic of Korea's Desire To Acquire Nuclear Weapons... Will Lead To Nuclear Multipolarity"

"In Southeast Asia, priorities are Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. The Russia-ASEAN dialogue is also important, including formats where ASEAN plays a major role (RCEP). We have to clarify the functional aspect of the RCEP for ourselves, including in terms of tariff consequences for Russian exporters and the unity of ASEAN itself. For example, we could initiate negotiations with the RCEP through the EAEU. They would fit well into the concept of the Greater Eurasian Partnership. As the contradictions between Beijing and Washington deepen, ASEAN may view Russia as an alternative to the tough choice between the United States and China, for which Moscow should be ready and prepare interesting proposals. For example, technological capabilities are our strong point.

"In Northeast Asia, neighboring states – the DPRK and Mongolia – are of particular interest. On the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Russia should act, by mutual understanding with China, as an attentive observer, following the de facto failure of the American plans for the "denuclearization" of the DPRK. The Republic of Korea's desire to acquire nuclear weapons is unlikely to be equivalent to strategic autonomy from the United States, although objectively it will lead to nuclear multipolarity and will create problems for Washington in terms of managing the situation in the region. Korean nationalism on both sides of the 38th parallel can be played out in different ways, including against our interests. Unfortunately, Japanese nationalism has so far not led to any attempts by Tokyo to put an end to its absolute subordination to Washington."

"Russian Activity In Africa Should Be Focused On Ensuring A Systemic Presence In The Continent"

"Russia should step up interaction with Africa, which has rich resources and huge economic growth potential. Russia has laid the groundwork for future work in some African countries, including Nigeria and Tanzania, and it can serve as a basis for expanding existing and building new relations. In the north of Africa, priority is Egypt and Algeria, in the south it is South Africa, a BRICS member and the region's largest economy, as well as Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, and Guinea. In the center and in the west of the continent, Russia can rely on its positions in the Central African Republic, Senegal, and Mali, in the east, on Ethiopia and Eritrea. Attention should be paid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with its central position in the continent and rich natural resources, and to the need to stabilize the situation in the country. Intensive economic diplomacy, close interaction between the Russian embassies and business, as well as the active promotion of security, media, and information services are required. Russian activity in Africa should be focused on ensuring a systemic presence in the continent, and on strengthening African unity and integration in order to make Africa a member of a polycentric world and the World Majority. In this regard, it is necessary to study the ideas of pan-Africanism and their development at the modern stage. Further institutionalization of the Russia-Africa forum is needed."

"In Latin America And The Caribbean, Russia Has Several Anchor Points"

"In Latin America and the Caribbean, Russia has several anchor points. These are, first of all, states that are close to Russia politically: Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela; a regional giant and BRICS member – Brazil, other major countries such as Argentina [In December 2023, Argentina's new President, Javier Milei, withdrew the country from its planned entry into BRICS] and Mexico. Emphasis in relations must be placed on the development of economic ties, but information interaction is no less important; it can range from dialogues at various levels and promoting narratives on global issues to developing common positions on how to build a new world order. Under certain conditions, some Latin American countries may be regarded, with the consent of their governments, as territories that can be used by the Russian Armed Forces.

"In all regions, Russia should establish substantive contacts and cooperation with existing regional bodies, including integration ones, preferably those where the United States does not participate (Washington may also be forced to deny us such cooperation, which would not be a bad option)."


[1] The program supervisor is Prof. Sergey Karaganov, who is Professor Emeritus, Academic Supervisor, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, National Research University, Higher School of Economics; Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy; Head of the Situational Analysis Program; executive editor of the report.

[2] The report explained: "The term 'World Majority' used in this report means a community of non-Western countries that have no binding relationships with the United States and the organizations it patronizes. This definition needs further clarification, but for the purposes of this publication it can be used as a working option. The use of the term 'Global Majority' is undesirable, as it refers to the liberal globalization concept from the previous stage."

[3], 2023. The report was introduced on TASS News Agency press conference on December 27, 2023.

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