The Casimir Pulaski Foundation had the privilege of hosting Professor Matthew Sussex of the Australian National University, in conjunction with a panel of experts. The topic of the discussion was Russia and China’s rising assertiveness and confidence as geo-political actors with respect to energy.

Professor Sussex opened the discussion by informing the panel that from the Australian perspective Russia is seen as looking to restore its former historical power. Vladimir Putin has shown himself to be a master tactician on the world stage, cooperating with various interests and actors so to position himself with more negotiating leverage. Indeed, Australian scholars are afraid of approaching Russia, especially with regard to oil and energy.

The direction of the discussion moved toward energy policy, which is the most important dimension to the Russian policy towards Central and East Asia. Russia is put in an advantageous position as it is largely able to dictate prices, this is of course problematic for Australia. However, when examining the state of the Russian economy, the status quo for President Putin is not a viable option, Putin needs to gamble and win as many strategic victories in the relative short term as he can in order to ensure Russia’s power and influence does not shrink.

Professor Sussex went on to say, Australia should be more mature in defence and foreign policy, while at the same time being more pragmatic and cooperative with its natural allies. Furthermore, China is a good opportunity for increased Australian cooperation due to its developing economy. Sussex emphasized however, that Australia is not looking to establish neo-colonial relations with the Chinese but to see the two nations as equal. Therefore China as a key strategic economic partner for Australia, may well be a relationship that benefits both parties.

As the conversation wrapped up, a quick question and answer back and forth between Professor Sussex and the panel took place. Certain topics such as the speculated relationship between President Trump and Russia as well as the Trans-Pacific-Partnership were touched on and lightly discussed.