Russia’s Asian energy pivot is the shape of things to come

An oil pump jack in Almetyevsk district, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, May 10, 2021. /VCG

An oil pump jack in Almetyevsk district, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, May 10, 2021. /VCG

Editor’s note: Andrew Korybko is an American political analyst based in Moscow. The article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Bloomberg recently reported that maritime oil shipments from Russia to Asia now make up about half of all such exports, with China and India being its main buyers. In fact, the Clean Energy Research Center also reported that Russia’s oil exports to India have increased from just 1% to 18% in total. This figure is politically significant as it shows India’s determination to achieve strategic autonomy from the West in the face of US pressure to cut ties with Russia.

This is the shape of things to come. First, there is no doubt that what many have described as the “Asian Century” is already here after the rise of China and India as major countries with global influence. Second, this trend has accelerated in light of recent events, particularly the West’s US-led anti-Russian sanctions, which in turn have catalyzed its robust Asian-targeted pivot. And third, the world is rapidly bifurcating between the “Golden Billion” and the Global South.

This last observation deserves to be deepened because few have yet recognized it. The ongoing global systemic transition towards multipolarity is jointly led by China, Russia and India, which cooperate together under the Russia-India-China (RIC) format. Although Russia was historically considered part of Western civilization, her European peers seemed not to accept her as one of them. This is why Russia today sees itself as Eurasian, or as a European-Asian hybrid civilization.

Moreover, Russia has been the target of Western countries over the centuries, being mistreated in the same way as they have done to the countries of the South. The only difference between them is that Russia was strong enough to resist these aggressions while some other countries were not.

Accepting today’s Russia as part of the Global South is conceptually crucial, as it makes it easy to see the main fault line of what many see as the New Cold War. This global competition is taking place during the global systemic transition. The US-led “Golden Billion” in the West wants to preserve its declining unipolar hegemony at all costs while the global South led by China, Russia and India wants an equal, just and stable multipolar system.

The undeniable geo-economic trend is that Asia-Pacific is already at the center of globalization, with this region taking on even more importance in recent months as anti-Russian sanctions backfire by destabilizing Western economies. The forced “decoupling” of the EU from Russia under US pressure has caused a new economic crisis before the bloc has even had time to recover from the previous one caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cooking oil on shelves in a Tesco store in Ashford, Surrey, UK, April 23, 2022. /VCG

Cooking oil on shelves in a Tesco store in Ashford, Surrey, UK, April 23, 2022. /VCG

Russia, by comparison, is doing quite well. Instead of going bankrupt as the ‘Golden Billion’ predicted when it decided to quickly phase out its energy imports, including the recent sanctions banning the shipping of oil by sea, Russia has simply redirected its exports to the ‘Asia Pacific. India, one of its main strategic partners, has rushed to help Moscow maintain macroeconomic stability by buying its oil.

The mutually beneficial and complementary energy cooperation between Russia, India and China is part of their macroeconomic cooperation aimed at gradually transforming the hitherto Western-centric model of globalization into a non-Western and multipolar one. These three big countries have massive economies and can therefore have a powerful impact on the international economic system. This is in fact something Russian Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin also recently acknowledged.

Write about Telegram last week he noted that “the group of eight countries not participating in the sanctions wars – China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Iran, Turkey – in terms of GDP at purchasing power parity is ahead of the old group by 24.4%,” by which he meant the G7. In other words, the countries of the South are merging into a unified network of economies that collectively outrank the Western G7.

Russia’s Asian energy pivot is the most egregious macroeconomic example of recent months, but there is much more at play behind it all. China, Russia and India lead the Global South as the vast majority of humanity works together to build a more equal, just and stable world order.

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