Russia has no choice but to look both East and West in the coming year. Throughout our century, Russia has tried to regain its former status as a global power. To do so, it will have to make its mark far beyond its immediate region. There is no question that Russia's footprint is notable along its borders, in places such as Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Arctic — three areas of rising geopolitical importance. But that is expected from a regional power, which Russia is.
To rise to the next level, Moscow will have to continue to look further afield and create meaningful diplomatic, financial and political engagements with Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and the European Union.
In the case of the EU, that will not be easy given the current political climate. Overall, however, I do see Russia continuing to work toward that goal. In the coming year, I see Moscow focusing on building strategic alliances with a select number of countries that have recently made openings to Moscow, both in Europe and elsewhere. These include Pakistan, Algeria, Indonesia, Turkey, Israel, Austria, Greece, Portugal, and Ireland, where Russia recently announced a significant expansion of its diplomatic facilities.
Projecting further into the future, Russia will most likely seek to smooth out its differences with a host of major European powers and re-engage with that region economically and culturally. Much will depend on the shape of Russia's domestic economy and the political leadership that will emerge in Europe in the coming decade.