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The Nuances of the Australia-Russia Relationship

30 Aug 2017
Interview with HE Mr Peter Tesch
His Excellency Ambassador Peter Tesch with Natalie Myer

Among the policy divergences, Russia and Australia’s trading relationship continues to show opportunities for growth. 

Australian Ambassador to Russia Peter Tesch, a senior career officer in the Australian diplomatic service, has seen great changes in the 25 years since his last posting to Moscow during the last years of the Soviet Union. He says Russia is a country that is confident and resuming its natural role on the world stage under President Vladimir Putin.

In an interview at AIIA for WA, Tesch told Natalie Myer that Russia remains important for Australia, though in a different way to what it was 25 years ago. Counter-terrorism initiatives play a large part, but there is also significant economic potential in the relationship.

While the trading relationship remains influenced by counter-sanctions and import restrictions on the Russian side, opportunities are emerging in mining, education and infrastructure. Russia can also learn a lot from Australia’s economic reform and diversification. It needs to build up its productive capacity rather than be just a resource extractor.

The ambassador finished by emphasising the importance of engaging Russia’s young generations and an obligation to provide them with opportunities. The century-long relationship between Russia and Australia has warm people-to-people links which will continue to be important.

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Peter Tesch is the Australian Ambassador to Russia along with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. He was most recently first assistant secretary of the International Security Division at DFAT. 

Interview by Natalie Myer.

Filming by Nancy Miles-Tweedie