Russia building up its eastern regions

Russia building up its eastern regions

In an effort to take advantage of the opening up of the northern sea route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as a result of global warming, Russia has adopted a go-east strategy. It is focusing on two relatively backward eastern districts - the federal districts of Siberia and the Far East.

There are three reasons Russia is adopting this approach. First, as the global economic and political gravity shifts to the Asia-Pacific, Moscow's impulse to go east becomes stronger.

Second, the lingering crises in the United States and the European Union have provided Moscow with the opportunity to develop its backward regions.

Third, President Vladimir Putin and other leaders have realised the need to restructure Russia's solely energy-based economy to help jump-start the "new economy".

These points were made at a conference entitled "Developing Asia-Pacific's Last Frontier: Fostering International Cooperation in the Development of Russia's Siberia and Far East", organised by the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

The Far Eastern Federal District has huge oil reserves, minerals, forestry and fishery resources, while the Siberian Federal District has oil and natural gas, coal reserves, minerals and virgin forests.

International cooperation

But developing this vast region requires international partners like Singapore as stakeholders. As scholars and experts at the Dec 16-18 conference noted, this was because of the sheer size of the territory and the exorbitant costs involved.

Indeed, Singapore is not the only country to be responding to the new challenges and opportunities.

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