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Russia and the Organization of Turkic States: Cooperation Prospects

29 June 2024

OTS in the Modern World

The Organization of Turkic States (OTS) will hold an informal summit on July 5 and 6 in the Azerbaijani city of Shusha in Karabakh, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev announced when he met with the Council of the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking Countries. According to Aliyev, «the main topics of the meetings agenda will be related to transport and climate», because establishing and expanding transport links «is a process closely associated with the unification of the Turkic world». The Azerbaijani leader also remarked that the Turkic world is a big family with a significant potential and geographic coverage. «Transport routes, energy resources, human capital, population growth, and a favorable demographic situation this is a huge potential. Our task is to transform this potential into great strength on a global scale», Ilham Aliyev concluded [1].

For years, the «Great Turan» has been a bogey topic for Russian mass media, which are largely under the Armenian diasporas control. The time has come, however, to take a sound view on the prospects and benefits of Russias full-scale cooperation with the OTS countries. Note that the Organization of Turkic States now encompasses five countries located in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan); in the Caucasus (Azerbaijan); in West Asia and partially in Europe (Türkiye). Hungary and Turkmenistan are observers. Representatives of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is not officially recognized as such, are encouraged to participate in OTS activities.

As noted before in analytic reports of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies (CISS), Russia needs to conduct assertive diplomacy and take its rightful place in OTS. As a minimum, it is justified by the fact that the Russian Federation comprises Turkic-speaking regions such as Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Yakutia, and Tyva. In addition, there is a continuously growing Turkic-speaking diaspora Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek among the Russian population. We believe that Russias rationale in joining the Organization of Turkic States is at least as solid as that of the Finno-Ugric Hungary or the unrecognized TRNC the entity which is also facing sanctions. Moreover, all OTS members are friendly countries with which Moscow successfully develops economic and political relations. Russias participation in the OTS format will also facilitate the implementation of infrastructure and energy projects in the Caspian region and will enable a synergy between the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (the Middle Corridor) and the international North-South corridor [2].

Experts attach a high rating to the political, economic and demographic potential of the OTS. It is well known that the Turkic states, together commanding a huge territory, possess a wealth of natural resources including a large stock of uranium, oil and gas. The macro-region is viewed as a major energy supply center in the future geopolitical landscape, adding to regional and international importance of the Organization of Turkic States. As the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev pointed out, «the Turkic world covers huge geographic areas with a population exceeding 200 million, has a great economic potential, energy resources, transport routes and state-of-the-art military capabilities» [3]. The Turkic World Vision 2040 strategic document adopted at the 8th OTS Summit in Istanbul sets forth the Organizations goals for the next 20 years from the geostrategy point of view. OTS has already found its place as a full-bodied regional international organization, having become a recognized actor in international politics [4].

The Demise of Globalization

In a short period of time, OTS evolved from a provincial Turkic culture «home» into a full-fledged economic and political block encompassing strategically important regions of the world. This success was due to the fact that the Organizations goals and objectives perfectly fit the current worldwide trend: globalization giving way to regional integration. As was previously stated in CISS materials, the COVID-19 pandemics and the sanctions warfare pushed forward the crisis of the prevailing unipolar world order. The very idea of globalism and global trade was effectively eroded and replaced with regionalism. Supranational manufacturing enterprises collapsed and international supply chains were disrupted, prompting individual macro-regions to switch to autonomous survival mode, not unlike submarine compartments. The United States, once the hegemonic world power, has by now lost much of its strength, and every year its capacity to perform the global policing function is diminishing. It is time for the association of countries, primarily within continental Eurasia, to find its proper place in the emerging new world order [5].

Notably, it is not only experts but also many political leaders such as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Narendra Modi, as well as Western think tanks who speak of the forthcoming collapse of globalization. US geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan recently issued a new book under the self-explanatory title «The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization». The author focuses on the vulnerabilities of modern globalized economy which, he believes, may bring about «the end of the world as we know it». The first and obvious problem is disruption of goods supply chains. As a result of a domino effect, just a few countries that can produce the whole range of goods will survive. The author points to population reduction and ageing in former economic giants as the second major weakness of the modern world. This will add dynamism to the imminent global crisis as the diminishing workforce makes it impossible for the modern state to meet its social commitments or maintain the infrastructure [6].

Under the previous globalization model, the US was the «police of the world» aggressively patrolling the Persian Gulf and other strategically important regions of the world. «Oil was feeding global trade, global trade was feeding the American alliance, and the American alliance was feeding American security», Zeihan summarizes. This model is nearing its end: in 2021 the United States withdrew all its regular ground forces from the Middle East region and markedly reduced its ocean fleet presence. As a result, 2024 saw a 90% reduction in the number of container vessels in the Red Sea. Over the last year, cargo traffic via the Suez Canal shrank by two-thirds, while traffic through the vital Bab el Mandeb shipping route dropped 59% [7]. Recently Riyadh chose not to extend the half a century old security agreement between Saudi Arabia and the USA, whereby the Saudis committed to sell oil for US dollars only [8]. All this means that the days of long-distance shipping and petrodollar dominance are ultimately numbered.

Peter Zeihan believes that the Persian Gulf macro-region will be the worst hit by deglobalization and multipolarity (the mounting challenges faced by the Gulf States were mentioned in the previous paragraph), with East Asia and «Old Europe» facing somewhat less severe impacts. East Asia is a new industrial region that includes Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and (to a lesser extent) the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. It is a naturally competitive market characterized by a huge demand for resources, the longest supply lines on Earth, and massive reliance on exports. Without external arbitration, in the absence of a regional cooperation system, this «global factory» is doomed to experience incessant conflicts; the region is unable to secure its own supply and trade lines. However the countries of the «Old Europe» find themselves in an even worse position. The Europeans depend on energy imports much more than the Asians; they have an ageing, hedonistic population, and a united European army does not exist. The major European powers Russia, Türkiye, Sweden, UK, Germany and France will inevitably establish their own zones of influence on the debris of the «United Europe». According to Zeihan, the outcome of such new multipolarity will be a fierce «war of all against all».

New Macro-Regions

What can be a solution to the oncoming collapse and multilateral conflict? President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly pointed out that «it is important to make wider use of mechanisms for the creation of large spaces, which are based on the interaction between neighboring countries whose economies and social systems, as well as resource bases and infrastructure complement each other». Such large economic spaces essentially form the foundation of multipolar world order [9]. This strategic course was confirmed recently by the Russian prime-minister Mikhail Mishustin, who said: «In our view, association into interstate organizations and the formation of independent and relatively autonomous macro-regions provide an effective response to the challenges of modernity». Greater Eurasia is becoming one of the centers of the new multipolar world, attracting the interests of all major international players, generating new points of economic growth, and holding significant stocks of energy resources, raw materials, rare earth metals, and fresh water. The key traffic arteries and logistic routes connecting Europe with the Asia-Pacific Region run through the historic territories of the Russian and Ottoman Empires [10].

Today Russia is active in shaping its macro-region within Eurasia, which will enable Moscow and its strategic partners not just to survive together, but to pursue a course of rapid development. According to experts, for the macro-region economic model to work efficiently and sustainably, there must be at least 300 mln final consumers of its product. As of 2023, the combined population of the five EAEU countries was 185.4 mln people, including 41.4 mln beyond pension age (22.3%). Some 63 mln people can be added on the part of Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, the CIS friendly countries with relatively younger and growing population. This adds up to around 248 mln people to be covered by the pro-Russian project, which is close to an absolute minimum for substantial integration. Hence follows the key strategic objective: Russia needs to seek more extension opportunities on the external integration track, targeting the optimal macro-region size at around 350-500 mln people.

On the other hand, Türkiyes entire effort to build its Turkic macro-region under the OTS framework also appears to be short of the target, even if approached from a purely geo-economic perspective. The combined population of Türkiye (85 mln.), Azerbaijan (11 mln) and even all Central Asia Counties (80 mln) is clearly not sufficient either for the creation of large economic space.  Besides, Russia has a strong economic and political influence in three of the OTS member countries, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Solution to this problem is to be sought in the engagement of Türkiye and Azerbaijan, Russias two strategic allies, in the process of building a single macro-region in the center of Eurasia. The priority task will be to conjugate the existing integration projects, namely CIS/ EAEU and OTS. This would substantially expand Russias economic and political links with Türkiye while avoiding potential competition between Moscow and Ankara in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region. To resolve any possible differences, it would be a strategically appropriate step for Russia to promptly join OTS with a full membership status.

The New Agenda

In early July, 2024, a crucial point may be reached in establishing a full-scale Russian-Turkic strategic alliance. The President of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdoğan intends to negotiate with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit which will take place on July 3 and 4 in Kazakhstan. The next item in the Turkish leaders diplomatic schedule is participation in the informal OTS summit in Shusha on July 5 and 6. At the SCO summit Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to discuss bilateral energy and trade relations with the organizations members. After that the presidents Putin and Erdoğan will have a one-on-one meeting to discuss implementation progress of nuclear energy projects as well as the status of the Türkiye gas hub. Ankara recently approached the SCO countries with the idea to set up a working group and hold its session in order to lay the foundation for a future regional energy market. The proposal was announced at the Astana meeting of SCO energy ministers by Alparslan Bayraktar, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Türkiye, who was invited as a dialogue partner [11].

A common energy market may become a solid basis for the development of the new Russian-Turkic macro-region «Meridional Eurasia», in the same way that the French-German coal and steel community preceded the united Europe macro-region. Moscow and Ankara may go beyond a common policy in areas of oil and gas production, transportation and sale, extending cooperation to promising nuclear energy projects. Rosatom is in the process of construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, Türkiyes first NPP ever, in the Mersin province. The power plant will consist of four 1,200 MW power units, scheduled to be launched in 2024 [12]. As was reported earlier, Türkiye is considering two more NPP projects in the provinces of Sinop and Thrakia. It should be noted that the Rosatom state corporation is currently building 22 nuclear power units outside Russia, with a total of 39 projects contracted; construction of seven nuclear power units is in progress in Russia. Russian experience with construction of research reactor units, standard and small power reactors, advance uranium mining and enrichment technologies may be translated into a single, macro-region-wide standard, with a strong contribution to the climate agenda.

The macro-region that we share is also unique in that it can maintain its complete food security. Together we can produce guaranteed quantities of basic food items as well as in-demand fertilizer, fuel and agricultural machinery. A separate project would be to set up new exchanges for the macro-region to enable trade in critical raw materials, in particular food produce and primary energy resources. A pressing issue on the agenda is the introduction of a unified settlement system for trade and commercial transactions based on the System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS) of the Bank of Russia, introduced as a substitute for SWIFT. The Russian analogue of SWIFT is known to be joined by 20 countries. Difficulties in processing international settlements caused by Western sanctions will generate demand for alternative approaches to designing new payment and clearing systems. De-dollarisation of international settlements is a natural trend of the modern world that will accelerate with time [13].

In terms of industrial cooperation, efforts should be made to create the organizations own technology platforms for military and infrastructure development of the whole macro-region. OTS countries need to jointly cooperate with Russia in the military and technical sphere, primarily concerning advanced weapons and shared air/missile defense and missile early warning systems (MEWS). Selected Russian industry leaders such as KAMAZ and successful IT companies should be promoted to enter the macro-regions common market; in its turn, Russias deep market will have demand for Turkish machinery. In a sense, this mutually agreed package of measures may be regarded as «import substitution» for products no longer available from Euro-Atlantic manufacturers. Apart from mutual bans on equipment and technology transfer, countries of the collective West have come up with additional restrictions banning exports of essential rare earth resources. In the medium term this will accelerate the distancing and separation of regional blocks capable of surviving and developing on their own.

Another important aspect of macro-region development is socio-cultural cooperation. No time should be wasted in bringing political elites and peoples of our countries closer together, continuous experience exchange should take place, and common solutions should be developed from the «welfare state» policy package. This includes quality of life improvement, advanced digital state services, small business support mechanisms, high quality education and labor market relevance, and joint projects in the areas of culture, mass media and cinema. It is highly important to set up a single Russian-Turkic media holding with worldwide coverage to communicate a consensus view to global audiences. The shared ideology to be adopted by our macro-region can be identified as justice and anticolonialism. In many respects it should draw upon the Non-Aligned Movement agenda which is being vigorously and successfully pursued by the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev [14]. A related crucial task is to institute the International Court of Honor, a Eurasian parallel to the International Criminal Court, that will hear cases involving protection of rights and dignity of peoples and nations victimized by colonialism and neo-colonialism.

* * *

Summing up, the emergence of a new Russian-Turkic «Meridional Eurasia» macro-region is considered to be the most adequate response to all anticipated challenges of deglobalization. First, it will be a self-sufficient and sustainable macro-region capable of meeting its demand for everything from food, fresh water and energy to a full range of industrial goods including uranium and rare earth metals. Second, it is a region of demographic and economic growth with the capacity to develop successfully throughout the century. Third, it can reliably defend itself; it will have a modern defense industrial complex, up-to-date armed forces, shared air/missile defense and missile warning systems. Fourth, our macro-region will enable reliable control over the key shipping routes from East Asia to Europe, including two major marine routes, the Northern Sea Route and the traditional route via the Red Sea and Bosporus; and two overland routes, Trans-Siberian and Trans-Caspian. Fifth, the new macro-region offers attractive ideology founded on the ideas of justice and anticolonialism, which will immediately win support and alliance from countries of the Global South. This all means that creating a Russian-Turkic macro-region as soon as possible by conjugating the integration projects EAEU/CIS and OTS is a priority foreign policy task for Russia, Türkiye and their allies.

1. Shusha to Host Informal Organization of Turkic States Summit in July. TASS, 06.06.2024. https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/21019437

2. The Organization of Turkic States: Russias Integration Horizons and Participation Prospects. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 16.11.2022. https://caspian.institute/product/direkciya-mezhdunarodnyh-programm-kisi/organizaciya-tyurkskih-gosudarstv-gorizonty-integracii-i-perspektivy-uchastiya-rossii-38371.shtml

3. The 10th Jubilee Summit of the Organization of Turkic States: Global Scale, Pragmatic Targeting. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 07.11.2023. https://caspian.institute/product/direkciya-regionalnyh-programm-kisi/yubilejnyj-h-sammit-organizacii-tyurkskih-gosudarstv-s-globalnym-razmahom-i-pragmatichnym-pricelom-38541.shtml

4. Shusha-hosted conference features panel session on «Turkic World-2040: a conceptual vision of the future». AZERTAG, 15.06.2024. https://azertag.az/ru/xeber/v_shushe_proshla_panelnaya_sessiya_na_temu_tyurkskii_mir_2040_konceptualnoe_videnie_budushchego-3058166

5. The Future of Eurasia Russian-Turkic Strategic Alliance. Program report by the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies. https://caspian.institute/product/ciss/rossijsko-tyurkskij-soyuz-kak-budushchee-evrazii-37966.shtml

6. Safe Havens: Which Countries Will Win from End-of-the-World Globalization Collapse. Forbes, 05.05.2024. https://www.forbes.ru/society/511710-tihie-gavani-kakie-strany-vyigraut-ot-kollapsa-globalizacii-v-slucae-konca-sveta

7. Number of Container Vessels in Red Sea Dropped 90% in 2024 Because of Houthis. Report.az, 28.05.2024. https://report.az/ru/promyshlennost/chislo-kontejnerovozov-v-krasnom-more-v-2024-godu-sokratilos-na-90-iz-za-husitov/

8. Saudi Arabia Says It Will Not Sell Oil for Dollars Implications of this Decision. Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 18.06.2024. https://rg.ru/2024/06/18/ekspert-prokommentirovala-otkaz-sauditov-prodavat-neft-za-dollary.html

9. Putin Shared His View on the Foundations of a Multipolar World Order. RIA Novosti, 27.10.2022. https://ria.ru/20221027/putin-1827287535.html

10. Mikhail Mishustin Held a Strategic Session on Eurasian Integration in a Multipolar World. Government of Russia official website, 26.04.2024. http://government.ru/news/51468/

11. Head of Turkish Energy Ministry Proposed a Common Energy Market to SCO. MK-Turkey, 21.06.2024. https://mk-turkey.ru/economics/2024/06/21/t-glava-minenergo-turcii-predlozhil-shos-sozdat-obshij-rynok-elektroenergii-i-seti.html

12. Rosatom Head Estimated the Cost of Akkuyu NPP Construction in Trkiye at $24-25 bn. INTERFAX.RU, 13.06.2024. https://www.interfax.ru/business/966515

13. On Putins Instructions, Russias Richest Billionairess Will Attempt at Creating Yet Another Alternative to SWIFT. ZERKALO.AZ, 21.06.2024. https://zerkalo.az/bogatejshaya-milliardersha-rossii-po-porucheniyu-putina-popytaetsya-sozdat-eshhe-odin-analog-swift/

14. Non-Aligned Movement in Modern Geopolitics. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 21.07.2023. https://caspian.institute/product/solozobov-yurij/dvizhenie-neprisoedineniya-v-sovremennoj-geopolitike-38462.shtml

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Reports

Russia and the Organization of Turkic States: Cooperation Prospects

29 2024

OTS in the Modern World

The Organization of Turkic States (OTS) will hold an informal summit on July 5 and 6 in the Azerbaijani city of Shusha in Karabakh, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev announced when he met with the Council of the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking Countries. According to Aliyev, «the main topics of the meetings agenda will be related to transport and climate», because establishing and expanding transport links «is a process closely associated with the unification of the Turkic world». The Azerbaijani leader also remarked that the Turkic world is a big family with a significant potential and geographic coverage. «Transport routes, energy resources, human capital, population growth, and a favorable demographic situation this is a huge potential. Our task is to transform this potential into great strength on a global scale», Ilham Aliyev concluded [1].

For years, the «Great Turan» has been a bogey topic for Russian mass media, which are largely under the Armenian diasporas control. The time has come, however, to take a sound view on the prospects and benefits of Russias full-scale cooperation with the OTS countries. Note that the Organization of Turkic States now encompasses five countries located in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan); in the Caucasus (Azerbaijan); in West Asia and partially in Europe (Türkiye). Hungary and Turkmenistan are observers. Representatives of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is not officially recognized as such, are encouraged to participate in OTS activities.

As noted before in analytic reports of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies (CISS), Russia needs to conduct assertive diplomacy and take its rightful place in OTS. As a minimum, it is justified by the fact that the Russian Federation comprises Turkic-speaking regions such as Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Yakutia, and Tyva. In addition, there is a continuously growing Turkic-speaking diaspora Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek among the Russian population. We believe that Russias rationale in joining the Organization of Turkic States is at least as solid as that of the Finno-Ugric Hungary or the unrecognized TRNC the entity which is also facing sanctions. Moreover, all OTS members are friendly countries with which Moscow successfully develops economic and political relations. Russias participation in the OTS format will also facilitate the implementation of infrastructure and energy projects in the Caspian region and will enable a synergy between the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (the Middle Corridor) and the international North-South corridor [2].

Experts attach a high rating to the political, economic and demographic potential of the OTS. It is well known that the Turkic states, together commanding a huge territory, possess a wealth of natural resources including a large stock of uranium, oil and gas. The macro-region is viewed as a major energy supply center in the future geopolitical landscape, adding to regional and international importance of the Organization of Turkic States. As the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev pointed out, «the Turkic world covers huge geographic areas with a population exceeding 200 million, has a great economic potential, energy resources, transport routes and state-of-the-art military capabilities» [3]. The Turkic World Vision 2040 strategic document adopted at the 8th OTS Summit in Istanbul sets forth the Organizations goals for the next 20 years from the geostrategy point of view. OTS has already found its place as a full-bodied regional international organization, having become a recognized actor in international politics [4].

The Demise of Globalization

In a short period of time, OTS evolved from a provincial Turkic culture «home» into a full-fledged economic and political block encompassing strategically important regions of the world. This success was due to the fact that the Organizations goals and objectives perfectly fit the current worldwide trend: globalization giving way to regional integration. As was previously stated in CISS materials, the COVID-19 pandemics and the sanctions warfare pushed forward the crisis of the prevailing unipolar world order. The very idea of globalism and global trade was effectively eroded and replaced with regionalism. Supranational manufacturing enterprises collapsed and international supply chains were disrupted, prompting individual macro-regions to switch to autonomous survival mode, not unlike submarine compartments. The United States, once the hegemonic world power, has by now lost much of its strength, and every year its capacity to perform the global policing function is diminishing. It is time for the association of countries, primarily within continental Eurasia, to find its proper place in the emerging new world order [5].

Notably, it is not only experts but also many political leaders such as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Narendra Modi, as well as Western think tanks who speak of the forthcoming collapse of globalization. US geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan recently issued a new book under the self-explanatory title «The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization». The author focuses on the vulnerabilities of modern globalized economy which, he believes, may bring about «the end of the world as we know it». The first and obvious problem is disruption of goods supply chains. As a result of a domino effect, just a few countries that can produce the whole range of goods will survive. The author points to population reduction and ageing in former economic giants as the second major weakness of the modern world. This will add dynamism to the imminent global crisis as the diminishing workforce makes it impossible for the modern state to meet its social commitments or maintain the infrastructure [6].

Under the previous globalization model, the US was the «police of the world» aggressively patrolling the Persian Gulf and other strategically important regions of the world. «Oil was feeding global trade, global trade was feeding the American alliance, and the American alliance was feeding American security», Zeihan summarizes. This model is nearing its end: in 2021 the United States withdrew all its regular ground forces from the Middle East region and markedly reduced its ocean fleet presence. As a result, 2024 saw a 90% reduction in the number of container vessels in the Red Sea. Over the last year, cargo traffic via the Suez Canal shrank by two-thirds, while traffic through the vital Bab el Mandeb shipping route dropped 59% [7]. Recently Riyadh chose not to extend the half a century old security agreement between Saudi Arabia and the USA, whereby the Saudis committed to sell oil for US dollars only [8]. All this means that the days of long-distance shipping and petrodollar dominance are ultimately numbered.

Peter Zeihan believes that the Persian Gulf macro-region will be the worst hit by deglobalization and multipolarity (the mounting challenges faced by the Gulf States were mentioned in the previous paragraph), with East Asia and «Old Europe» facing somewhat less severe impacts. East Asia is a new industrial region that includes Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and (to a lesser extent) the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. It is a naturally competitive market characterized by a huge demand for resources, the longest supply lines on Earth, and massive reliance on exports. Without external arbitration, in the absence of a regional cooperation system, this «global factory» is doomed to experience incessant conflicts; the region is unable to secure its own supply and trade lines. However the countries of the «Old Europe» find themselves in an even worse position. The Europeans depend on energy imports much more than the Asians; they have an ageing, hedonistic population, and a united European army does not exist. The major European powers Russia, Türkiye, Sweden, UK, Germany and France will inevitably establish their own zones of influence on the debris of the «United Europe». According to Zeihan, the outcome of such new multipolarity will be a fierce «war of all against all».

New Macro-Regions

What can be a solution to the oncoming collapse and multilateral conflict? President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly pointed out that «it is important to make wider use of mechanisms for the creation of large spaces, which are based on the interaction between neighboring countries whose economies and social systems, as well as resource bases and infrastructure complement each other». Such large economic spaces essentially form the foundation of multipolar world order [9]. This strategic course was confirmed recently by the Russian prime-minister Mikhail Mishustin, who said: «In our view, association into interstate organizations and the formation of independent and relatively autonomous macro-regions provide an effective response to the challenges of modernity». Greater Eurasia is becoming one of the centers of the new multipolar world, attracting the interests of all major international players, generating new points of economic growth, and holding significant stocks of energy resources, raw materials, rare earth metals, and fresh water. The key traffic arteries and logistic routes connecting Europe with the Asia-Pacific Region run through the historic territories of the Russian and Ottoman Empires [10].

Today Russia is active in shaping its macro-region within Eurasia, which will enable Moscow and its strategic partners not just to survive together, but to pursue a course of rapid development. According to experts, for the macro-region economic model to work efficiently and sustainably, there must be at least 300 mln final consumers of its product. As of 2023, the combined population of the five EAEU countries was 185.4 mln people, including 41.4 mln beyond pension age (22.3%). Some 63 mln people can be added on the part of Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, the CIS friendly countries with relatively younger and growing population. This adds up to around 248 mln people to be covered by the pro-Russian project, which is close to an absolute minimum for substantial integration. Hence follows the key strategic objective: Russia needs to seek more extension opportunities on the external integration track, targeting the optimal macro-region size at around 350-500 mln people.

On the other hand, Türkiyes entire effort to build its Turkic macro-region under the OTS framework also appears to be short of the target, even if approached from a purely geo-economic perspective. The combined population of Türkiye (85 mln.), Azerbaijan (11 mln) and even all Central Asia Counties (80 mln) is clearly not sufficient either for the creation of large economic space.  Besides, Russia has a strong economic and political influence in three of the OTS member countries, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Solution to this problem is to be sought in the engagement of Türkiye and Azerbaijan, Russias two strategic allies, in the process of building a single macro-region in the center of Eurasia. The priority task will be to conjugate the existing integration projects, namely CIS/ EAEU and OTS. This would substantially expand Russias economic and political links with Türkiye while avoiding potential competition between Moscow and Ankara in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region. To resolve any possible differences, it would be a strategically appropriate step for Russia to promptly join OTS with a full membership status.

The New Agenda

In early July, 2024, a crucial point may be reached in establishing a full-scale Russian-Turkic strategic alliance. The President of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdoğan intends to negotiate with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit which will take place on July 3 and 4 in Kazakhstan. The next item in the Turkish leaders diplomatic schedule is participation in the informal OTS summit in Shusha on July 5 and 6. At the SCO summit Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to discuss bilateral energy and trade relations with the organizations members. After that the presidents Putin and Erdoğan will have a one-on-one meeting to discuss implementation progress of nuclear energy projects as well as the status of the Türkiye gas hub. Ankara recently approached the SCO countries with the idea to set up a working group and hold its session in order to lay the foundation for a future regional energy market. The proposal was announced at the Astana meeting of SCO energy ministers by Alparslan Bayraktar, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Türkiye, who was invited as a dialogue partner [11].

A common energy market may become a solid basis for the development of the new Russian-Turkic macro-region «Meridional Eurasia», in the same way that the French-German coal and steel community preceded the united Europe macro-region. Moscow and Ankara may go beyond a common policy in areas of oil and gas production, transportation and sale, extending cooperation to promising nuclear energy projects. Rosatom is in the process of construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, Türkiyes first NPP ever, in the Mersin province. The power plant will consist of four 1,200 MW power units, scheduled to be launched in 2024 [12]. As was reported earlier, Türkiye is considering two more NPP projects in the provinces of Sinop and Thrakia. It should be noted that the Rosatom state corporation is currently building 22 nuclear power units outside Russia, with a total of 39 projects contracted; construction of seven nuclear power units is in progress in Russia. Russian experience with construction of research reactor units, standard and small power reactors, advance uranium mining and enrichment technologies may be translated into a single, macro-region-wide standard, with a strong contribution to the climate agenda.

The macro-region that we share is also unique in that it can maintain its complete food security. Together we can produce guaranteed quantities of basic food items as well as in-demand fertilizer, fuel and agricultural machinery. A separate project would be to set up new exchanges for the macro-region to enable trade in critical raw materials, in particular food produce and primary energy resources. A pressing issue on the agenda is the introduction of a unified settlement system for trade and commercial transactions based on the System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS) of the Bank of Russia, introduced as a substitute for SWIFT. The Russian analogue of SWIFT is known to be joined by 20 countries. Difficulties in processing international settlements caused by Western sanctions will generate demand for alternative approaches to designing new payment and clearing systems. De-dollarisation of international settlements is a natural trend of the modern world that will accelerate with time [13].

In terms of industrial cooperation, efforts should be made to create the organizations own technology platforms for military and infrastructure development of the whole macro-region. OTS countries need to jointly cooperate with Russia in the military and technical sphere, primarily concerning advanced weapons and shared air/missile defense and missile early warning systems (MEWS). Selected Russian industry leaders such as KAMAZ and successful IT companies should be promoted to enter the macro-regions common market; in its turn, Russias deep market will have demand for Turkish machinery. In a sense, this mutually agreed package of measures may be regarded as «import substitution» for products no longer available from Euro-Atlantic manufacturers. Apart from mutual bans on equipment and technology transfer, countries of the collective West have come up with additional restrictions banning exports of essential rare earth resources. In the medium term this will accelerate the distancing and separation of regional blocks capable of surviving and developing on their own.

Another important aspect of macro-region development is socio-cultural cooperation. No time should be wasted in bringing political elites and peoples of our countries closer together, continuous experience exchange should take place, and common solutions should be developed from the «welfare state» policy package. This includes quality of life improvement, advanced digital state services, small business support mechanisms, high quality education and labor market relevance, and joint projects in the areas of culture, mass media and cinema. It is highly important to set up a single Russian-Turkic media holding with worldwide coverage to communicate a consensus view to global audiences. The shared ideology to be adopted by our macro-region can be identified as justice and anticolonialism. In many respects it should draw upon the Non-Aligned Movement agenda which is being vigorously and successfully pursued by the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev [14]. A related crucial task is to institute the International Court of Honor, a Eurasian parallel to the International Criminal Court, that will hear cases involving protection of rights and dignity of peoples and nations victimized by colonialism and neo-colonialism.

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Summing up, the emergence of a new Russian-Turkic «Meridional Eurasia» macro-region is considered to be the most adequate response to all anticipated challenges of deglobalization. First, it will be a self-sufficient and sustainable macro-region capable of meeting its demand for everything from food, fresh water and energy to a full range of industrial goods including uranium and rare earth metals. Second, it is a region of demographic and economic growth with the capacity to develop successfully throughout the century. Third, it can reliably defend itself; it will have a modern defense industrial complex, up-to-date armed forces, shared air/missile defense and missile warning systems. Fourth, our macro-region will enable reliable control over the key shipping routes from East Asia to Europe, including two major marine routes, the Northern Sea Route and the traditional route via the Red Sea and Bosporus; and two overland routes, Trans-Siberian and Trans-Caspian. Fifth, the new macro-region offers attractive ideology founded on the ideas of justice and anticolonialism, which will immediately win support and alliance from countries of the Global South. This all means that creating a Russian-Turkic macro-region as soon as possible by conjugating the integration projects EAEU/CIS and OTS is a priority foreign policy task for Russia, Türkiye and their allies.

1. Shusha to Host Informal Organization of Turkic States Summit in July. TASS, 06.06.2024. https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/21019437

2. The Organization of Turkic States: Russias Integration Horizons and Participation Prospects. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 16.11.2022. https://caspian.institute/product/direkciya-mezhdunarodnyh-programm-kisi/organizaciya-tyurkskih-gosudarstv-gorizonty-integracii-i-perspektivy-uchastiya-rossii-38371.shtml

3. The 10th Jubilee Summit of the Organization of Turkic States: Global Scale, Pragmatic Targeting. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 07.11.2023. https://caspian.institute/product/direkciya-regionalnyh-programm-kisi/yubilejnyj-h-sammit-organizacii-tyurkskih-gosudarstv-s-globalnym-razmahom-i-pragmatichnym-pricelom-38541.shtml

4. Shusha-hosted conference features panel session on «Turkic World-2040: a conceptual vision of the future». AZERTAG, 15.06.2024. https://azertag.az/ru/xeber/v_shushe_proshla_panelnaya_sessiya_na_temu_tyurkskii_mir_2040_konceptualnoe_videnie_budushchego-3058166

5. The Future of Eurasia Russian-Turkic Strategic Alliance. Program report by the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies. https://caspian.institute/product/ciss/rossijsko-tyurkskij-soyuz-kak-budushchee-evrazii-37966.shtml

6. Safe Havens: Which Countries Will Win from End-of-the-World Globalization Collapse. Forbes, 05.05.2024. https://www.forbes.ru/society/511710-tihie-gavani-kakie-strany-vyigraut-ot-kollapsa-globalizacii-v-slucae-konca-sveta

7. Number of Container Vessels in Red Sea Dropped 90% in 2024 Because of Houthis. Report.az, 28.05.2024. https://report.az/ru/promyshlennost/chislo-kontejnerovozov-v-krasnom-more-v-2024-godu-sokratilos-na-90-iz-za-husitov/

8. Saudi Arabia Says It Will Not Sell Oil for Dollars Implications of this Decision. Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 18.06.2024. https://rg.ru/2024/06/18/ekspert-prokommentirovala-otkaz-sauditov-prodavat-neft-za-dollary.html

9. Putin Shared His View on the Foundations of a Multipolar World Order. RIA Novosti, 27.10.2022. https://ria.ru/20221027/putin-1827287535.html

10. Mikhail Mishustin Held a Strategic Session on Eurasian Integration in a Multipolar World. Government of Russia official website, 26.04.2024. http://government.ru/news/51468/

11. Head of Turkish Energy Ministry Proposed a Common Energy Market to SCO. MK-Turkey, 21.06.2024. https://mk-turkey.ru/economics/2024/06/21/t-glava-minenergo-turcii-predlozhil-shos-sozdat-obshij-rynok-elektroenergii-i-seti.html

12. Rosatom Head Estimated the Cost of Akkuyu NPP Construction in Trkiye at $24-25 bn. INTERFAX.RU, 13.06.2024. https://www.interfax.ru/business/966515

13. On Putins Instructions, Russias Richest Billionairess Will Attempt at Creating Yet Another Alternative to SWIFT. ZERKALO.AZ, 21.06.2024. https://zerkalo.az/bogatejshaya-milliardersha-rossii-po-porucheniyu-putina-popytaetsya-sozdat-eshhe-odin-analog-swift/

14. Non-Aligned Movement in Modern Geopolitics. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 21.07.2023. https://caspian.institute/product/solozobov-yurij/dvizhenie-neprisoedineniya-v-sovremennoj-geopolitike-38462.shtml