shadrina, elena


Russia’s State Capitalism and Energy Geopolitics of Northeast Asia

The leitmotif of this paper is “security is no longer the primary driver of geopolitical developments; economics is”. The work examines the phenomenon of Russia’s state capitalism as regards one particular sector – energy. Given the role energy plays in Russia’s domestic economic wellbeing and its international relations, energy ought to be treated as one of the key elements of Russia’s economic policy and focal realms of the country’s foreign policy. The president-elect Putin recent statements clue a forthcoming renaissance of a heavier state intervention in the economy and a more sheer presence of the state in the Russian Far East.  Setting Ian Bremer’s observation that “[t]he primary purpose of state capitalism is not to produce wealth but to ensure that wealth creation does not threaten the ruling elite's political power”  as a framework, the paper explores the evolution of Russia’s state capitalism in the regional context of the Russian Far East, analyses the preconditions for Russia’s reinvigorated optimism for state owned energy business oriented at the Northeast Asian energy markets and examines the implications of Russia’s 2012 pattern state capitalism for energy geopolitics in Northeast Asia.

Panel abstract: Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the need to develop different relations between the new states and the “old and traditional ones” has drawn up a regional scenario characterized by a progressive evolution and radical changes in the political, social and economic spheres.

We observe that within this ongoing process of transformation, national factors are not the only elements influencing the development of these societies. As a matter of fact, regional and transnational forces (in terms of state actors and non-state players, such as energy companies, Western NGOs, foreign and regional political lobbies, international terrorist or separatist group) have strengthened their roles and affected the internal development of these states. In this practical application of the “neo-geopolitics” theories, a multifaceted competition has progressively involved the existent different dimensions (national, regional, transnational) within a process of evolution which could lead to different results, from the weakening of the national state concept and political institutions to the affirmation of supranational projects in several fields.

The aim of this panel is to analyze the role that these different dimensions are playing in the social and political development of Russia’s relations with Central Asia and Northeast Asia and with the other two regional powerful geopolitical players China and India. In particular, post soviet Central Asian region represents an interesting case of study. Security issues in Central Asia is a complex matter of studies, considering that it is interlinked with national, regional and transnational factors. Social tensions and popular discontent deriving from the weak state-building process and the slow implementation of political and social reforms are combined with the security threats linked to the Afghanistan's condition of instability. In this scenario, external and transnational forces - such as the Sino-Russian influence and Western interests – play a role aimed to achieve their strategic aims influencing at the same time (directly or indirectly) the political and social development of these states.

In the energy sphere, a special attention is given to Russia's unique role in Northeast Asia. Indeed, Russia is an emerging supplier for Northeast Asia, while in Central Asia Russia has traditionally been an exporter of energy. The application of national/transnational paradigm in the energy field mainly stresses the distortions that the capitalist model could provoke in the redistribution of the energy wealth. The strategic-geopolitical goals linked to the energy sector appear in an open competition with the social need to guarantee an equal access to the wealth deriving from the exploitation of natural resources.

Moreover, the strategic triangular relations involving Russia, China and India exercise a geopolitical influence in the Asian scenario, even if their relevant interests in the region have fueled a cooperation/competition dimension which characterize their relations and consequently affect the internal and external evolution of the Asian and Eurasian nations. 

Which model of development will prevail? Could this competition between national and transnational dimensions create a new Eastern model of development within which supranational factors would prevail over national aspects?

Friday 26 October 14.30-16:30 Panels IX, Panel 22 National and Transnational Dimensions of Russia's Relations in the Asian Region (Hall 7)