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Protecting Russia’s Strategic Interest’s: A Lone Wolf with Allies

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]world this weekOver the years, the Russian Federation has gained significant importance on the globe. In this time, Russia’s past actions, which most of the West considers as “bold”, has given significant weightage to the country and increased their leverage. Now this being said, Russia’s leverage has been increased drastically, it is outmost important for the “great” nation to maintain its momentum. Expressing clearly in the concept of Russia’s Foreign Policy, the past few years can be characterized with an Eastern power shift. If Russia wants to emerge as a leader in this new political dynamic, it must stick close to its allies in the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, and in Central Asia. Moreover, Russia should make it a priority within its concept of Foreign Policy in order to maintain strong economic leverage. Without a strong network and connections, Russia will fall into peril. In the world with instability and ignorance, Russia must rise above as a leader. The stain of Ukraine and Russia - Crimea Amid already been attracted heavy attention on the international arena, in spite of the controversies surrounding Ukraine and Russia, Ukraine should be a top priority for Russia. Economically speaking, Russia has invested enough in Ukraine, and keeping it close will prove beneficial for the “power” nation in future run. Also, Ukraine has one of the largest economies ($136 billion USD) within the region (second to Russia) besides, it also has a very high rate of GDP. Most of the success goes to Ukraine’s strong steel and agricultural industries, two most important industries, and valuable even for Russia. Leaving aside its internal value, Ukraine is a key doorway that opens entire European market. This is due to the fact that 25% of the European Union’s natural gas comes from Russia and 80% of that gas travels through Ukrainian pipelines. Without these pipelines, Russia’s economy would be hard hit and will remove the considerable amount of leverage. Russia and the Middle East – Battling ISIS In the past years, Bashar Al Assad was the topic of confrontation between the nations last year, until a new threat emerged from the ashes: the terrorist group known as the Islamic State (hereinafter: IS). In the past few months, IS has made huge progress in carving its own “state” in both Western Iraq and Eastern Syria. The group have become a strong violent force in both the states along with those regions that they have captured. They are on the verge of carving out a much larger state, as illustrated in their 5 year plan. The nations Syria and Iraq are vulnerable from these attacks and are losing ground as we speak, and Russia’s single handed “all-out war” against ISIS will maintaining Russia’s long lost dominance in the Middle East. There is a much larger stake here, for Russia, in Syria, especially economically. “Syria must remain an independent and a sovereign country” must be a priority for Russia, especially for its arms manufacturing industry. As of 2012, arms contracts to Damascus totaled $5 billion, which only slightly offset the losses from cancelled Iranian and Libyan contracts ($13 billion USD and $4.5 billion respectively). As mentioned earlier, these contracts were very important to Russia’s defense industry and continued to be lucrative as of the beginning of the year. Speaking in the terms of military point of view, a stable Syria is more important. Syria is also a home to Russia’s naval base in Tartus, which is also the Russia’s last remaining naval influence in the Mediterranean region. Although Russia evacuated most of the military personnel, but it also cannot be denied that Tartus may be the only way of maintaining influence in the area in the area as the war intensifies. Additionally, Russia has also invested $19 billion USD in Syria’s infrastructure, tourism, and energy sectors. In short, in order to have a good return from the investment Russia has done so far, Syria must be stable, and give everything it has against the ISIS. Just like in Syria, there is much at stake for defense and other arms manufacturing units in Iraq. Not long ago, Russia became Iraq’s second largest arms dealer when they closed a $4.2 billion USD arms contract. This business continued and still stands today, so today, the value of this business has increased exponentially. Amid the advances IS had in previous months, there is a lot of room within these walls to expand into more lucrative ventures. The most important deals of all, is the vulnerable oil fields, which stay unguarded today. These must be defended at all times. Lukoil, a Russian oil company, today owns, second largest oil fields in Iraq, which is vital for its industry. In short, just like in Syria, Russia could benefit a great deal from a more stable Iraq. So, in light of the greater economic prospective and greater chances of stability in business and expansion in Syria and Iraq, it is one of the most important task, in light of the humanitarian violation and greater good for the global community and mankind, ISIS is a parasite that’s needs to be dealt with. To win the battle all in one pace, Russia must use its economic leverage and contracts to foster stronger diplomatic relationships with the states and fight IS in a joint effort. This would be entirely on the contrary to what the US forces and their “somewhat” successful drone attacks have been doing, which are also carried out without the consent of Syrian authorities. Russia will only succeed if it promotes economic prosperity and brings back political retribution in the region. Afghanistan – A Risky Affair With most of the NATO forces withdrawn, Russia has a great opportunity to expand its diplomatic goals in the state and meet the strategic targets. It is important for Russia to keep Afghanistan as stable as possible because of its wealth of resources and because of its security, which is also associated with the security of Russia and Central Asia. To begin with, Afghanistan has rich deposits of hydrocarbons, gold, lithium, copper, and iron-ore. It is a priority for Russia to protect these resources and establish favorable trade relations with the state for these resources. Moreover, Afghanistan and the proposed TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline would dramatically improve the diversity of Russia’s trade by giving Russia the ability to sell energy exports to South Asian markets. If Russia is able to maintain its stake in these resources, then it will have more than what it needs to remain competitive in the global world. Afghanistan’s stability is outmost here. A home of Muslim extremism, an unprotected Afghanistan pose a great threat for Russia and its neighbors. But, in spite all the security measures, if Russia gets entangled in the Kabul affairs, it can prevent extremism crossing over to Middle East and Chechnya. Besides preventing extremism, Afghanistan can be proven to become a buffer zone, preventing the flow narcotics from the state. In short, Afghanistan can foster stability for its neighbors as well as itself. Going down the Communist way - China Relations with China have been highly nuanced in the last couple of years. While the Kremlin expresses its interests in maintaining a healthy relations with Beijing, but privately, the two nations are in a strong neck to neck power struggle, in an effort to influence the global mass. Specifically, there is a great of competition for oil and energy. Between the years 2004 and 2013, the two states established six trading routes, but none of the deliveries were fulfilled. Also, Russia did not allow China “substantial equity” in Russian energy projects. Although, there were some aspects where Russia and China cooperated on. These states mostly cooperated on defense products such as their joint naval exercises which were held on the Sea of Japan during July 2013. With China crossing the lines, Russia must learn to cooperate with China, without fearing to take leadership on South Asian and East Asian affairs. Kazakhstan – An important neighbor Today, Kazakhstan is one of the most prosperous states in Central Asia with a Gross Domestic Product of $243.6 billion USD. Now this being said, Kazakhstan is particularly important because of the massive production of natural gas. In fact, Kazakhstan is set to export 3 million barrels a day by 2015. Besides this, Kazakhstan also has large reserves of natural gas and uranium. Also, Russia has a large economic advantage because of the recently agreed upon Eurasian Economic Union, which is a customs union between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus set to go into effect in 2015. Also, Russia has close military relations with Kazakhstan. They work together in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which makes their diplomatic relationship even more intimate. It should never be forgotten that although Russia has the edge in Kazakhstan now, if nothing is done, then Russia can lose a great deal of leverage. Conclusion To summarize, Russia has a chance to return to the high status, once it was used to be. The state is involved in many different economic and political tangles today. This will pose as a challenge to maintain the momentum today. This is also possible, because the world have their eyes on Ukraine. Russia also has the option to expand their oil and gas influence in the global world. Finally, by stabilizing parts of the global world, Russia will be able to solidify the partnership that will prove fruitful in the future.
About the Author Anant Mishra is a former Youth Representative to United Nations. He has served in numerous committees including United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and United Nations Security Council (UNSC). He is an Associate Member of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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