On 24 September 2016, KUBS team member Serghei Golunov gave a paper at a panel on “Russia’s Foreign Relations”. The panel was part of the PONARS Eurasia Policy Conference 2016, held at George Washington University (Washington, D.C., USA).
Serghei Golunov’s presentation on “Russia’s Cross-border Cooperation with Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and North Korea: China as a Third Force” was focused on conceptualizing China’s influence on Russia’s cross-border cooperation with its other Asian neighbours. This influence was characterized as ambivalent. On the one hand, the Chinese contribution empowers many cross-border cooperation projects: transportation corridors connecting Eastern Asia with Europe via Russian and its neighbors’ territories are hardly possible without China, economically weak Mongolian and Russian regions would be deprived of an important driver of cooperation between them, and sustainable development projects in tripoint areas would not function efficiently. On the other hand, Chinese economic influence in some of the relevant borderland regions (such as Aktobe province of Kazakhstan) is so strong that it may effectively weaken Russia’s cross-border cooperation with its neighbors. Also, Chinese leadership in transborder transportation projects can lead to clashes among other participants, and this too could potentially be a development able to be used in Beijing’s interests. Serghei Golunov concluded that neither the ‘cooperative’ nor ‘disruptive’ facets of China’s influence on Russia’s cross-border cooperation with Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and North Korea will come to prevail in the foreseeable future.