with the West was indeed a pre-condition for modernization. On the other hand, modernizationmay further strengthen Russo-Western relations (here it is a cause). Russia’s recognition of the needto adapt to innovative advancement and to have a stable foreign policy significantly facilitates itsrequest for an upgrade with regard to the West. In his article “
” President Medvedevstressed that “harmonizing our relations with Western democracies is not a question of taste,personal preferences or the prerogatives of given political groups. Our current domestic financialand technological capabilities are not sufficient for a qualitative improvement in the quality of life.We need money and technology from Europe, America and Asia”.
The eastern vector
Starting from Medvedev’s statement, is it doable to develop an eastern vector of Russia’smodernization (meaning China and India) along with the western one? A policy such as the EU-Russia Partnership for Modernization has not been launched with any other international actor.Modernization is about rendering Russian economy competitive through injecting hightechnologies, investing in the country’s human potential and attracting foreign capital – a taskthat only the West can fulfil. The eastern vector, instead, may be associated with new aspects of the modernization course stemming from its (successful) outcome; it may be a second phase of Russia’s advancement, but not an alternative source of modernization. This direction mayconstitute a market for Russia’s goods, increased trade relations and interdependence, which willcontribute to strengthening Russia’s influence in regional affairs and raising its status as a leadingeconomic power. Such considerations entail following a European/Western course to implement themodernization strategy, and a more pragmatic Euro-Pacific one to associate Russia with the world’sleading economic powers.The Asian direction of Russia’s foreign policy is a vector that is closely related to the country’saspiration to be an economic power. Premier Putin has affirmed that by 2020 Russia will not onlybe among the wealthiest and most powerful states, but will also be one of the most progressiveand dynamic ones. He also warned against de-industrializing the country by moving productionunits elsewhere (the entire technological and industrial production chain should remain onRussian territory, from research and design to manufacturing). Compared to the Western trend of delocalization to Asia and boosting local markets’ potential, Russia is not yet able to exploreother markets and to shape their growth (it is not a modernization-maker). It rather views thosemarkets as subjects of possible strong trade relations.While courting the West, Russia is aware that Europe is increasingly losing its key role in globalpolitics due to the rapid shift of gravity towards the Asia-Pacific region. Moscow acknowledgesthis weakness by supporting the leading position of BRICS and its gradual transformation from aneconomic power into a politically influential center. In Russia’s view, the BRICS membership is anevidence of its identification as a leading economy together with the other economic giants in thedynamic Asian region; that status enables the Kremlin to claim a greater political influence on theinternational arena. Its participation in the given grouping indicates that potentially part of itsself-constructed identity (of an important economic and political player) lies in Asia, not so muchin the West, and that the eastern and western vectors could be reconciled, not necessarilyopposed. President Medvedev has stressed that Cooperation for Modernization should be the keytheme of Russia’s 2012 presidency of the APEC forum, which suggests an intention to put this issuehigh on the regional agenda. However, such rhetoric is not always substantiated in practice. Russiais more comfortable with its relations with the EU than, for instance, with China, with whichbilateral relations are often fraught with suspicion and efforts to balance each other’s influence inCentral Asia. Moreover, at the same time as the Declaration of the BRICS summit in April 2011upheld Moscow’s WTO bid, it also stated that “the governing structure of the internationalfinancial institutions should reflect the changes in the world economy, increasing the voice andrepresentation of emerging economies and developing countries”. This means that Russia grants