E.Koldunova. Russia and the Turbulent Waters of the Indo-Pacific

Despite all international efforts to calm down regional tensions, the past year has witnessed more strategic divergence than convergence in the Asia-Pacific region. With the Indo-Pacific concept becoming more controversial and even its supporters (the USA, Japan, Australia, and India) advancing its own version of the concept, there is still no common vision of the security architecture in the region, be it Asia- or Indo-Pacific. The growing fragmentation of regional security as well as of visions of political economy define the overall regional dynamics and challenge the ability of key regional players to engage in cooperative actions. This article explores the regional developments of the past year from the viewpoint of Russia’s aspirations and concerns as a stakeholder interested in the regional stability and continued economic dynamism.

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E.Koldunova. Russia-Vietnam: Balancing Strategies

Since 2012, relations between Russia and Vietnam have been described as a comprehensive strategic partnership. Compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, the dynamics of the contacts at the highest level are characterized by a much higher degree of intensity. So, in June 2017, Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang visited Russia; in September 2018, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong (President of Vietnam since October 2018) visited Russia. President Putin has visited Vietnam five times (most recently in 2017 as part of the APEC summit in Danang). Prior to November, Prime Minister Medvedev visited Vietnam in 2015 and as President of the Russian Federation in 2010.

The two countries maintain a strategic dialogue at the deputy defense minister level. Intergovernmental commissions on military-technical cooperation, trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation are active as well. Russia and Vietnam are on the same page regarding many strategic issues related to the need to form a polycentric international system in the APR based on common security principles that do not imply dividing lines in the region. Russia officially supports full compliance with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea adopted by China and the ASEAN countries in 2002, and the early signing of the Code of Conduct between them, which was designed to alleviate the controversy over disputed islands in the South China Sea which are claimed by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

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E.Koldunova. ASEAN, EAS and APEC: What Russia Achieved in 2018

It has been an eventful year for Russian foreign policy as far as the multilateral institutions in the Asia Pacific are concerned. On November 13–15, 2018, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin made a state visit to Singapore and attended the 13 th East Asia Summit (EAS). It was the first such visit since Russia was made a member in 2010. At the same time, President Putin represented Russia at the 3 rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Russian Federation Summit on Strategic Partnership. Two days later, in Port Moresby, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit that had previously enjoyed priority attention of the President of the Russian Federation compared to other regional mechanisms.

Russia has stepped up its participation in multilateral mechanisms in the Asia Pacific at a time when contradictions between the United States and China in the region have exacerbated, competition has once again intensified between the macro-regional projects proposed by these players in Asia, and emotions are running high around American trade protectionism. On the one hand, this situation is not conducive to bolstering these multilateral institutions themselves. It does, however, create a window of opportunity for Russia to offer the regional countries a more cooperative agenda, even if it is not on the same scale as U.S. or Chinese projects.

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E.Koldunova, V.Sumsky. Good diplomacy crucial in Asean

Russian academics Ekaterina Koldunova and Dr Victor Sumsky, from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations University (MGIMO), were recently in Phnom Penh to discuss the possibility of training Cambodian officials in diplomacy. Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan spoke to the academics and discussed MGIMO’s role, not only in Cambodia but also in Asean.

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E.Koldunova, V.Sumsky. Cambodia Seeks Russia’s Cooperation in Diplomatic Training, Two-way Street

Russian professors, whose expertise in the International Relations, has visited recently Cambodia’s newly established National Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations (NIDIR) and discussed the possibility of training Cambodian officials in diplomacy, aiming at contributing to improving their diplomatic skills.

The discussion focused on possible cooperation between NIDIR, under Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFA-IC) and Moscow State Institute of International Relations University (MGIMO) under Russia’s Foreign Ministry, which could lead to the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the future.

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