The role of Russian border regions in the cross-border cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan

Oleg M. Roy


Relevance. In the attempt to withstand sanctions pressure and the continuing decline in the relationships with European states, the Russian government has switched the focus of its foreign economic policy to the south-eastern partners, including Kazakhstan.

Research objective. The study aims to evaluate the readiness of the Russian border regions for more active cross-border cooperation with regions of Kazakhstan; to draw an inventory of the main forms such cooperation can take; and to describe the prospects of this cooperation in the context of the increasing integration processes in border regions. 

Data and methods.  The article compares the dynamics of socio-economic indicators and qualitative characteristics of Russian border regions and summarizes the experience of cooperation between Russian and Kazakhstani border regions. The study relies on the methods of systems analysis and comparative analysis and uses the official data of regional Kazakhstani and Russian governments on the socio-economic development of their territories. The study also uses the statistical data provided by the Bureau of National Statistics of the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation (Rosstat).

Results. The study has brought to light significant disparities in Russian border regions' socio-economic potential, more specifically, in their readiness to participate in the integration processes with regions of the neighbouring state. The proposed conceptual model of cross-border cooperation comprises three levels: transport communication, joint projects, and social services. This model underpins the typology of Russian border regions, highlighting the most promising areas for their cooperation with Kazakhstan and the main impediments to such cooperation. By applying this model, we have identified the main growth points and bottlenecks in interregional cooperation along the state border and described the key trends in the development of the given countries in the context of global risks.

Conclusions.  The cross-border cooperation model can provide a framework for the development of projects aimed at enhancing the productivity of the relationships between the two countries. These findings may be used to evaluate the readiness of border regions to establish productive, mutually beneficial relationships with regions of the neighbouring state. They may also be of interest to policy-makers, national and regional government agencies. 


Russia-Kazakhstan border, border regions, cross-border cooperation, economic potential of a territory, economic profile of a region, cluster

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