Magazine | Diplomacy

In Asia Moscow Trusts? Russia’s Pivot to the East

The long history and mixed results of Russia’s eastward strategy.

By Igor Denisov for
In Asia Moscow Trusts? Russia’s Pivot to the East
Credit: Carlos Barria, Reuters

In 2017, Russia will issue a new banknote symbolizing the Asian dimension of national development. As a result of online voting carried out by the Bank of Russia, freshly-built Vostochny Spaceport in the Far Eastern Amur region and the bridge to Russky Island off the city of Vladivostok were chosen as images for the new rouble bills. Banknotes with a Far Eastern touch; frequent appearances by Asia in Russian foreign policy discussions; an exchange of unusual souvenirs between President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Japan and South Korea; and billboards in Chinese in Moscow boutiques and international airports are all neat symbols of Russia’s “pivot to the East.” It is much more difficult to describe this policy in neat figures. Two years after the introduction of U.S. and EU sanctions against Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, Moscow’s hopes that developing business contacts with Asia would compensate losses from the rift with the West have not fully materialized.