The role of Russia in creating the Eurasian economic space

Роль России в создании евразийского экономического пространства

As you know, Russia seeks economic integration of all countries of Eurasia and therefore supports China to create “Economic belt of the silk road”. However, some of China’s neighbors fear that by joining the “silk road”, their infrastructure and economy will lose its independence. Those countries that wish to develop the infrastructure and foreign trade without the significant participation of China can help Russia.

The project “One belt and one road” includes the subprojects “New silk road” (designed to combine into a single network of main roads and Railways of Eurasia and Africa) and “Maritime silk road of the XXI century”, running from South-East Asia along the southern coast of Eurasia to Africa and Europe. Besides construction of various infrastructure projects (new Railways, ports, etc.), the project requires the creation of free trade zones between participating countries. It is expected that participation in it will benefit any country. However, some States in the Asia-Pacific region belong to the Chinese initiative cool. Even participating in it, they tend to do it sparingly, trying to avoid the growing influence of China on its economic policy. First of all it concerns the countries with developed economies, who have something to lose, and who have their own ambitious plans and the desire to dominate the region. As example, India and Japan – the major competitors of China in Asia.

In may 2017 in Beijing hosted a forum of “One belt and one road”, which brought together high-ranking guests from more than 100 countries, among whom were the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, who expressed the “New silk road” the support of Russia. The event was opened by the leader of China, XI Jinping. He said that the aim of the project is of benefit to all countries, and not the growing influence of China. However, India and Japan, apparently not sure of this, because the representatives of those countries not been on the forum.

One of the reasons why the event is ignored in India, was the active cooperation of China with Pakistan, including on the territory of Kashmir, over which India and Pakistan’s long-standing territorial dispute. According to the Indian government and the Chinese state-owned companies in the Pakistan occupied areas of Kashmir means the recognition by China Pakistani law to these territories. However, this is not the main reason for Indian hostility to the “silk road”.

In addition to Pakistan, China is actively expanding its influence in other States, bordering with India, including through infrastructure construction. In recent years, China managed to lay a gas pipeline in Myanmar to establish rail links with Nepal, to begin to build a new port city in Sri Lanka, gradually encircling India by the ring of his allies. In the framework of the “Maritime silk road of the XXI century” China enhances its presence in all important points on the sea route from the Eastern end of Asia to Africa and Europe.

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Probably this is one of the main reasons for worry as India and Japan. The navigation on this site is extremely important for these countries. They are both actively traded with Europe and Africa, and energy Japan has been mainly due to hydrocarbons, delivered by sea from the Middle East. Therefore, India and Japan would not want to all Maritime traffic along the South coast of Eurasia came under the control of the PRC.

However, both countries want to join the single Eurasian economic space. If private interests do not allow them to do it through China and the Chinese “silk road”, the alternative for them would be Russia and the EAEC.

Russia is already helping India in developing its internal infrastructure. On land it borders India with a small number of countries and for railway communication with other parts of the continent, she somehow will have to cooperate with China or Pakistan. However, to build the Railways in the country she prefers independently or with the assistance of the Russian Federation.

In December 2015 the Russian state company “Russian Railways” (RZD) and the Ministry of Railways, India signed a Memorandum of understanding concerning technical cooperation in the railway sector.

In October 2016, during the summit of the “BRICS”, “Russian Railways” and Indian Railways Ministry signed a Protocol on cooperation on the programme “high Speed railway”. For a start, the Russian experts expressed a desire to help Indian counterparts to modernize the Railways Nagpur – Secunderabad.

In February 2017 in new Delhi has opened a representative office of “RZD international” (company structure “Russian Railways” is created to work with foreign projects). Then the “RZD international” reported that in addition to upgrading road Nagpur – Secunderabad have “RZD” in India there are other projects related to the creation of high-speed Railways, urban transport development, training, and supplies to the Indian side of various equipment.

As for Japan, the cooperation with Russia it is even easier and more profitable than with China. Russia could provide her with alternatives like land silk road and marine. The land corridor for Japan can become the Russian TRANS-Siberian railway. The TRANS-Siberian railway involved in the “New Silk road”, however, passes through the territory of Russia and does not depend on China. The path of a freight train from the port “East” to Moscow on the TRANS-Siberian railway is only 20 days, and from Moscow the goods can go in different ways across Europe.

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At the end of may 2017 in the Japanese trade mission of the Russian Federation held a business forum “New opportunities and prospects of development of Eurasian freight traffic”, which was also attended by representatives of Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia. The event was organized by Kazuhito Food, the Secretary General of the Association of Transsiberian intermodal operators in Japan. He highly appreciated the advantages of the TRANS-Siberian railway and reported that at the end of 2016, Japan has made a trial shipment from Yokohama to Vostochny port by sea, after which he was loaded onto a train and shipped via the TRANS-Siberian railway. The sender was very happy with the result, and now the TRANS-Siberian railway have been interested in a Japanese company.

An alternative to the “Maritime silk road” for Japan could become Russia’s “Northern sea route”, which runs along the Northern coast of Eurasia to the Arctic ocean. Now Russia and Japan are actively developing plans for joint development of this promising route capable of connecting East Asia with Europe, bypassing the waters controlled by China.

Another important country in the Asia-Pacific region – South Korea. She enthusiastically embraced the project “New silk way”. In 2014 President Park Geun-Hye said that her country is ready to unite with him by railroad, passing through North Korea. Such a plan still exists, but now it is expected that building this road will be Russia. This variant of the new South Korean leader moon Jae-In was discussed at the summit of “Big twenty” in July 2017, with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In conclusion, we can say that almost all the leading States of Eurasia aspire to economic integration, but not everyone is ready to actively cooperate for the sake of it with China. In this situation, the solution for them would be cooperation with Russia, which is also capable of providing transport corridors and to assist with the development of infrastructure to connect with other countries of Eurasia. This again confirms the crucial role of Russia in creation of a single Eurasian economic space.

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