Back in October 2017, which may seem today a bygone era, a group of Valdai Club experts teamed up with a group of researchers to release a report titled A Look into the Future: Scenarios for Asia and Russia in Asia in the Next 20 Years.
In it, they came to the conclusion that the internal dynamics in this vast region and Russia’s ability to take into consideration the main outcomes of the processes defining Asia’s future will determine the way the two will develop their relations within a 20-year horizon. At the time, we articulated three main scenarios, calling them The Warring Kingdoms, Bonanza!, and La Belle Époque. Each of them had a chance to materialise depending on which of the trends that took shape in the 2010s would prevail at the regional and global levels. The first scenario suggested that the region would sink deep into harsh military and political confrontation, while the second and third scenarios talked about a growing and varying mix of favourable factors for promoting national development and improving state-to-state relations.
So far, it is too early to say which of the scenarios we spelled out in this report would prevail in Asia by 2037. However, it is already clear that Russia’s standing in Asia hinges on not only what happens in this region and Russia’s own efforts, but also on global developments, including the mounting China-US confrontation, the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s standoff with the West, and the emergence of the global majority phenomenon. All these developments have a fundamental bearing on Russia’s policy to undertake a turn to the East, develop its Asian dimension, and readiness to build closer ties with Asian powers, as well as their receptiveness to cooperation opportunities with Russia, and, finally, the way the challenges and threats Russia and Asia face are perceived.