Galtsova Alina – Press Review

Australia, as one of the most promising and developed countries of the Asia-Pacific region, occupied not the last place in political relations with Russia.

Alexander Korolev in the article “Australia’s Approach to Cooperation with Russia” had written that the Russian Far East is in many ways similar to Australia in terms of geopolitics, geo-economics, and even in its socio-political features. However, economic cooperation between Russia and Australia has been on the decline over the past decade. The two countries failed to realize the potential of cooperation that appeared at the end of the cold war. The main barriers to the development of bilateral relations are caused by external factors. On the part of Australia, a significant systemic barrier to cooperation with Russia in the Far East and beyond is its deep involvement in American security structures, conducting policies in accordance with Washington’s interests and lack of independence in making foreign policy decisions. As a result, Russian-Australian relations are largely determined by the relations between the United States and Russia, as well as the EU and Russia, that is, the nature of the interaction between Moscow and Washington or Moscow and Brussels. Russia’s increasingly assertive and sometimes aggressive foreign policy, as well as political activity in the island states of the South Pacific, contributed to the deterioration of its relations with Canberra. Although there are opportunities for cooperation in the Russian Far East, mainly in the mining industry, the current sanctions regime against Russia, in which Australia participates, seriously undermines the prospects for cooperation both directly, creating barriers for Australian investors, and indirectly, complicating the political climate of Russian-Australian relations [9].


Therefore,  cooperation between Russia and Australia has been in decline since 2012. There are several explanations for this. The most fundamental factor boils down to the fact that the level and nature of cooperation between Russia and Australia depends on Russia’s relations with Western countries — primarily with the United States and Great Britain. Thus, in the 19th century, relations between Australia and Russia increased due to the deterioration of Russian-British relations. Subsequently, Russian-Australian relations improved due to the rapprochement between Moscow and London. In the modern world, the quality of cooperation between Russia and Australia largely depends on the relations between Moscow and Washington.In other words, Australia has limited freedom to choose a foreign policy course, and its position on most issues on the international agenda reflects the preferences of its more influential allies. Dependence on the US and the UK as Canberra’s main allies in foreign policy forms the environment in which Australia’s relations with Russia develop.

In this regard, a series of events surrounding the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia and the crisis in Ukraine in 2014, as well as an increasingly active Russian foreign policy, have severely undermined the prospects for Russian-Australian cooperation in the Far East and other regions. The cornerstone of Canberra’s foreign policy remains loyalty to its allies and their support. Approval of the aforementioned uranium deal in the Australian Parliament has stalled due to the reaction to the war between Russia and Georgia.Canberra opposed Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In an interview with Sky News, then Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith stressed that while Russia was “extremely interested in the speedy implementation of the agreement,” we would also “take into account the state of our bilateral relations and Russia’s recent actions in Georgia, as well as Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”[13] Two years later, in March 2010, Australian officials allocated 1 million Australian dollars for the restoration of Georgia after the “Russian intervention”, thereby strengthening the perception of Russia as an external threat.


The Strategic policy Institute wrote that among other factors contributing to the negative attitude of Australian political elites towards Russia before the crisis in Ukraine was Moscow’s policy in Syria and accusations of supporting Bashar al-Assad, the arrest by Russian border guards of Australian activist Colin Russell, who protested against offshore drilling as part of oil exploration in the Pechora Sea together with other Greenpeace activists.” in September 2012, the Russian law banning the propaganda of homosexuality, fiercely criticized by the Australian Greens, as well as the growing conviction of Canberra, that Russia is becoming one of the actual rivals of the United States. The latter factor is of key importance, and it fully manifested itself during the next conflict in the post—Soviet space – the Ukrainian crisis of 2014.

The Australian National University studies describe how Australia’s cooperation with the Russian Far East and Russia as a whole has suffered greatly from foreign policy factors, as well as from the deterioration of Russia’s relations with the United States and the EU. In the context of Russia’s reorientation to the Asia-Pacific region, Australia has the potential to become its valuable partner, but this will not be an easy task. Due to the unfavorable political climate between Australia and Russia, there is no significant interdependence in the economy or politics. Although Russia does not pose an immediate threat (political or military) to Australia, Canberra views Russia’s growing presence in the Asia-Pacific region and the modernization of the Russian Pacific Fleet in a negative rather than a positive light.

At the same time, given that both Australia and Russia are exporters of energy resources (which is important, because  Australia has announced that it plans to become the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world), there is every reason to expect increased competition between them for the energy markets of China, India and other Asian countries. This is compounded by Australia’s growing concern about the outside.the political intentions of China, with which Russia has close economic, political and strategic ties. In this context, Moscow’s close cooperation with Beijing is likely to be seen by Canberra as a factor contributing to the further deterioration of relations between Australia and Russia.

Although economic cooperation between the two countries in the Russian Far East is quite possible, it can hardly be an exception to the general rule — at least in the short and medium term.non-urgent perspective: Australia tends to follow in the wake of the United States and the European Union in building relations with Russia. That is why a possible improvement in Russia’s relations with the US or the EU may well contribute to strengthening Russian-Australian ties.


According to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, the main opportunities for Australian mining companies in the Russian Far East may lie in areas where Australian suppliers have a competitive advantage. These include cartography, aerial survey, exploration of deposits, exploration drilling services, design management services, logistics and construction for mining projects with a production level of one to five million tons of ore per year. It is also worth mentioning consulting services for optimization of mining operations, mining training services; equipment and technologies for ore dressing; services for technological maintenance and repair of mining equipment. Australia also has advanced capabilities in geological data analysis and data modeling, advanced information technologies. It can offer consulting services in the field of engineering and technical works, project management, mine safety services, mine audit and environmental support, ore processing and screening services, geotechnical and construction services[20]. Australian companies supplying mining equipment, technologies and services have proven themselves well in the Russian mining industry, which opens up numerous opportunities for cooperation.

At the MINEX Far East 2017 conference, which was held in Magadan, Russia, on July 5-6, 2017, Honorary Consul and Trade Representative of Australia in the Russian Far East Vladimir Gorokhov stressed that the Australian Trade and Investment Commission sees great potential in the development of cooperation between Russian and Australian companies in the Russian Far East[21]. One of the latest examples of successful cooperation in the region is the joint development of the Australian coal company Tigers Realm Coal and its Russian partner represented by the North Pacific Coal Company of the Amaam coke coal deposit in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Tigers Realm Coal Company is a resident of the territory of advanced socio-economic development “Beringovsky”. The extracted coal is exported to China, Japan and South Korea[22].

At the same time, the current sanctions regime requires Australian companies doing business in Russia to register in the online sanctions management system of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and submit an official request for a sanctions permit[23]. In other words, it can be concluded that the current state of Russian-Australian political relations is an obstacle to the progressive development of economic and political ties.


1 In the National Interest — Australia’s Foreign and Trade Policy White Paper. Commonwealth of Australia: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 1997. P. 31.

2 Advancing the National Interest: Australia’s Foreign and Trade Policy White Paper. Commonwealth of Australia: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 2003. P. 31.

3   Посол РФ в Австралии: мы готовы обсуждать возобновление сотрудничества // РИА Новости. 2015. 5 февраля. URL:

4 Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News AM Agenda. The Hon Stephen Smith MP: Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 2008. November 25. URL:

5 Mining to Russia: Trends and Opportunities. Australian Government: Australian Trade and Investment Commission. URL: Mining

6 Австралийские бизнесмены изучат инвестиционные возможности Магаданской области // Колыма.Ru. 2017. 5 июля. URL:

7 Market profile — Russia. Australian Government: Australian Trade and Investment Commission. URL: https://



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