Russian energy diplomacy a springboard to economic stability
Amid unpredictability in the global energy market, Russia is seeking to bolster its share in the international oil and gas sectors to secure cash flow, as its financial budget was affected when oil prices dropped below $30 per barrel.
Therefore Russia has adopted so-called energy diplomacy with its oil and gas competitors throughout the world and particularly in the Middle East to ensure better prices and an equal share in the global market. This has been achieved through talks with the main oil producers in OPEC over controlling oil production for the mutual benefit of Russia and the Gulf states.
The important question in Russian-Gulf relations is the nature of strategic ties that have driven cooperation between them, such as Moscow cutting oil production to achieve better prices. Both Saudi Arabia and Russia produce about 11 million barrels per day, constituting some 25 per cent of global oil production. This plays a role as to why both countries resort, when dealing with each other politically, to energy diplomacy.
Relations between Moscow and Riyadh are aiming toward achieving their mutual interests not only in the field of energy, but rather in regional politics, in spite of the major differences on some issues, such as the Syrian conflict, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
Both countries realize that a rapprochement in energy leads to an entente in other fields. This started with the visit of King Salman to Russia last October, which had a significant impact on the development of cooperation between the two countries, strengthening their partnership and maintaining the stability of the world oil market.
Russia’s understanding of energy diplomacy is an enticement to boost communication, enrich cooperation, and sustain stability of the global energy market with the cooperation of key exporting states. The Russian government undoubtedly views the turbulent energy market as a boat shared by OPEC. Thus, fair regulation is based on the common rules of the game, which allow all energy producers to take a share of this depleting resource.
President Vladimir Putin has realized that it is time to reduce the country’s dependence on the energy sector as a major financial reserve
International relations and foreign policy are governed by a number of factors and considerations, including the material capabilities and the potential of the state, and its ability to make efficient and optimal use of its resources to achieve self-sufficiency.
The use of soft and flexible diplomacy or hard power to compensate for any lack of natural resources is a must to achieve economic growth. In order for Russia to successfully deal with foreign issues, mainly in the Middle East, it should have a robust economy. The Russian leadership knows this well. Thus, Russian soft power and energy diplomacy must go in line with having a healthy economy that helps strategists and policy-makers draw up development plans for the country.
But will Russia be able to reform its policies easily under sanctions? Western sanctions are not a major obstacle to the Russian economy as they are a double-edged sword. The most important issue is Russia’s dependence on world oil and gas prices for its reserves. President Vladimir Putin has realized that it is time to reduce the country’s dependence on the energy sector as a major financial reserve.
At present, the Russian economy is at the forefront of the nation’s challenges: New economic models for development must now be adopted, benefiting from Russian energy diplomacy.
In 2014, Putin talked about his endeavors to create a new Russia, but that cannot be achieved without strong partnerships with various countries, strategic relations with others, energy diplomacy, soft power and military power.
- Maria Dubovikova is a prominent political commentator, researcher and expert on Middle East affairs. She is president of the Moscow-based International Middle Eastern Studies Club (IMESClub). Twitter: @politblogme