By INS Contributors

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: As the collective West steps up its confrontational foreign policy against its perceived rivals, Russia is moving forward with a constructive agenda through greater engagement with its partners in the Asia-Pacific, particularly with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko.
Rudenko also cautioned against the the trap of being dragged into bloc confrontation by countries seeking to revive the old Cold War formula of bloc confrontation through various aggressive and destructive initiatives such as the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) into the region along with he so-called U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy and AUKUS nuclear submarine deal between Australia, Britain, and the United States, during a lecture at the Asia-Europe Institute at Universiti Malaya.
"It is extremely important for ASEAN, despite the growing external pressure, to stay away from bloc confrontation and to maintain its status as the backbone of the inclusive, balanced and transparent regional architecture. That is precisely why  the Association and the ASEAN-led fora face serious attack today undertaken by those who want to reshape Asia," he said.
"On the contrary, Russia stands for effective practical cooperation on the ASEAN-centered platforms based on the principles of equality and consensus, where each voice must be heard. That is why the Russia-ASEAN dialogue today is a significant factor contributing to security and stability in the Asia Pacific," he added.
Rudenko noted that the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the sanctions following the Special Military Operation in 2022 had laid bare the fact that the West is not only an unreliable partner but sought to use any means to cling onto its rapidly deteriorating position even to the point of using other countries as proxies to be sacrificed in costly conflicts against its perceived rivals.
Rudenko also said that Russia, with its vast natural resources, technical and scientific expertise and open engagement policies where cooperation is prioritised over any desire to impose ideological beliefs, is an attractive partner for the region and that cooperation would allow the strengthening of ASEAN's position vis-a-vis the West by creating the conditions for the grouping to pursue an independent foreign policy.
"Russia is an attractive and reliable partner. There are solid criteria and facts to prove that. We have entered 2024 with a stable financial system, historically low unemployment and minimal budget deficits. In 2023, we achieved GDP growth of 3.6 percent – above the world average." 
"Russia could share the benefits of its unique natural resource potential with the Southeast Asian partners, especially when it comes to regional food and energy security. These problems have come to the spotlight given the complications in the global economy, provoked by fundamental miscalculations the West has made in recent years, as well as unprecedented unlawful sanctions," he said.
Rudenko added that Russia's close cooperation with China and India, two Asian giants will allow a solid platform that can anchor security and stability as the world weathers the current uncertain geopolitical climate as uni-polarity dissipates and multi-polarity takes hold.
"At the regional multilateral platforms Russia and China work back-to-back to build reliable and adequate to modern realities architecture of equal and indivisible security in the Asia-Pacific...deepening the special and privileged strategic partnership with India is among key priorities of Russia.The relations between Moscow and New Delhi are underpinned by mutual respect, trust, equal regard for each other's interests and commitment to promoting a unifying, non-confrontational agenda."
"Viewing Asia as our common home and space of harmonious growth, peace and prosperity we know exactly what kind of region we do not want it to be.   
"We definitely would not want the Asia Pacific to move beyond the zone of tolerance and cooperation evolving into a fragmented area, divided into blocs, where the key principles of international communication such as multilateralism, consensus, openness and equality would be abandoned," he said.