As Russia’s relationship with the West reaches a new low, the world’s largest country is now looking East to diversify gas exports to Asian markets.
Addressing the plenary session of the 12th VTB Capital’s Russia Calling! Investment Forum via video conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed Russia’s intention to boost its energy exports to Asia, who described the continent as a rapidly developing region with great potential.
“We are expanding our export to Asia as well,” News.ru quoted President Putin as saying on Thursday, adding that this market has great potential. “To the People’s Republic of China, Japan and India.”
Putin mentioned in his remarks that Russia is the largest gas supplier to Europe, saying that the region accounts for more than 70 percent of Russia’s gas exports. However, when Europe began diversifying its supplies away from Russia, the Kremlin pivoted towards Asia with the aim of diversifying its economic activities.
Russia’s pivot to Asia was fostered by Western policies and actions, particularly after the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 and the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Currently, China is Russia’s most important economic and political partner in Asia. With the launch of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline, Russia became the largest oil supplier to China, replacing Saudi Arabia. Moscow is also slated to become a major natural gas supplier to China. For Russia, the pipeline represents a major step in increasing export diversity and reducing dependence on Europe as its primary market.