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Khabarovsk Bridge over Amur river, near the Russian border with China
Khabarovsk Bridge over Amur river, near the Russian border with China
Fedor Lukyanov*

MOSCOW – Recently, Russian leaders have been meeting more and more frequently with their Asian counterparts - Vladimir Putin visited Vietnam and South Korea last week, and in the past two weeks there have been official meetings with India, China and Japan. Many are starting to talk about a strategic shift in Moscow. What is going on?

Let’s start by making it clear that Russia is a latecomer among Asia’s many suitors. Europe and the Americas have been talking about the Asian century for 10 years already, and we have only noticed the Pacific Ocean in the past two or three years. Even though the Russian Eagle has two heads, it is used to looking out of the one facing West.

In early times - at least 400 years ago - that was OK. Most political events, both pushes towards development and threats to security, came from Europe. After the end of the Cold War, Europe became an example of development that Russia strived to emulate.

Now it is clear that the most important events of the future will come from the shores of the Pacific, not Atlantic. Washington has also spoken of a strategic turn towards Asia, reducing its presence in Europe. And the many old territorial conflicts in the region that have been dormant are now likely to heat up again.

For Russia, this is creating an unusual situation. For the first time in centuries, the country’s cultural and historic orientation (European) does not match the government’s political and economic priorities. One of the consequences of this fact is that although three-quarters of the country’s territory is located in Asia, three quarters of the population actually live in the European part of the country. That’s part of why the problem with ramping up the Russian far east and Siberia, without which Russia can’t even dream of playing a role in Asia’s future, is so important.

Russia needs more than just economic measures if it wants to attract people to make a home in the far east: It needs a public relations campaign to convince people that the region is not a backwoods, but rather one full of opportunities.

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Economy

The Bogus Concept Of "Carbon-Neutral" Oil

The Colombian president recently said that the country had exported one million barrels of carbon-neutral or offset oil. But in an unregulated carbon market, such a claim is pure greenwashing.

People walk in the streets of Bogotá

María Mónica Monsalve Sánchez

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ - In March this year, various national and corporate leaders met in Houston, Texas, for CERAWeek, an annual conference to discuss the world's energy challenges. Colombia's President Iván Duque took the opportunity to remind participants that his country produced just 0.6% of the world's carbon emissions even as it had raised crude production to one million barrels a day.

He said oil should not be seen as an enemy, since the fight was really against greenhouse gas emissions. He also revealed at the event that the country's national oil firm, Ecopetrol, had sold the Asian market its first million barrels of carbon-neutral or offset crude, consisting of the entire extraction, production and exportation chain.

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