In an interview with Russia Today (RT), Russian President Vladimir Putin described the AP region as “fast and intensively growing” and emphasized that the summit would focus on economic rather than political problems: improving transportation chains and logistics, food security, Russia’s integration into AP markets, investment, and modernization. The Voice of Russia quoted Deputy Director of the Center for Research on APEC Gleb Ivanshentsov who called the summit “the beginning of a big journey” for Russia, comparable to Peter the Great's effort to “cut a window through to Europe” in the early seventeenth century. He also said that the summit had the potential to “open wide the doors for Russia to the Asia-Pacific region.” Ivanshentsov stressed such opportunities as offering AP countries alternative transportation routes to Europe, the potential for grain exports, and cooperation in the energy sector. In an interview with Rossiskaya Gazeta, Andrei Kostin, a member of the Business Consultative Council of Russia, also emphasized how the Chinese and Vietnamese economies were very attractive alternative markets given the ongoing economic crisis in Europe, a view shared by Kommersant Kommersant. Finally, drawing a comparison with western forums, Argumenti Nedeli said that APEC was a unique organization that "sincerely welcomes Russia" and where Russia did not need to "fight" or "defend its interests."
Such optimistic attitudes, however, were tempered by cautious media reminders of the constraints on Russia’s relationships in the AP region. Nezavisimoye Voennoye Obozrenye (NVO) pointed out the complicated fine line of Russian strategy: Balancing relations with China on the one hand, and reaching out to a variety of economies in the region on the other. The latter risks “provoking a negative reaction from China," as it did when the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) signed agreements with New Zealand in 2010. Meanwhile, political analyst Pavel Salin from Global Affairs emphasized the lack of any coherent approach in Russia's inconsistent policy toward the AP region. Analyzing Putin's speech on AP region priorities, Nezavisimaya Gazeta (NG) criticized the president for failing to address topics crucial to investors: development of state institutions and judiciaries, competitiveness, corruption, trade rules, and taxes. Instead, it blamed him for talking about potential areas of cooperation without laying the groundwork for it to happen. Some independent economists assumed that avoiding these “painful issues” demonstrated Putin’s confidence that “his opinion and position will be taken into account anyway.” Finally, political analyst Sergei Karaganov brought up the fear many Russian politicians and citizens have towards China.
Along with these doubts, the Russian media aired domestic criticisms of the cost of the summit, which some outlets considered “unreasonable” in comparison with what Russia stood to gain from it. Gazeta.ru stressed that the approximate cost of the preparations was more than the country’s expenditure for education. In addition, the article noted that the event had not actually provided Russia with any guaranteed benefits. The author argued that Russia's lack of innovation and competitiveness would prevent it from moving deeper into AP markets, and that implementing more “realistic” goals would require major changes in Russian culture and institutions.
Given these circumstances, the “fast growing economies” of the Asian countries justifiably attract Russia’s attention and engender hopes of increasing trade volume in the region, which at the moment accounts for only slightly over 20 percent, with China being a major partner. In addition, Russia has also been looking into reinstating its military base in Vietnam.
Russia’s new “journey” into the AP will require deft diplomatic maneuvering and creativity given the region's disunity and serious territorial disputes, of which Russia is also a part (i.e., the Kuril Islands). However, certain progress was made at the summit, mainly in relations with Japan: The parties signed cooperation agreements and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was set to visit Russia in December. Considering recent Russia-Japan tensions, Russia may hope this shift could be a promising start towards increasing its regional power, especially with the U.S. and Europe occupied elsewhere. The deep skepticism evident in the Russian media however, suggest Russia's new thrust eastward will not come naturally or easily for the country.