Australia and Russia might be able to find common ground in areas like disaster relief and counter-terrorism to overcome "almost non-existent" strategic relations, a new report says.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute report examines Russia's military power in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region under Vladimir Putin.
"Australia's strategic relations with Russia are almost non-existent," report author Alexey Muraviev said.
He argues perceptions of Russia are influenced by established post-Cold War assumptions that Moscow is no longer able to influence the geo-strategic landscape because of reduced military power and limited economic ties.
The report points to the Russian military's gradual rebuild of its fallen combat potential in the 2000s.
"Moscow remains a geopolitical enigma in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, where it can play both stabilising and destabilising roles," the report says.
"Developing a dialogue with Russia is essential."
The report acknowledged the continued fallout of the shooting down over Ukraine of Malaysia Airlines flight 17, in which 38 Australian citizens and residents died, still weighed heavily on Canberra.
Mr Muraviev flagged several areas Canberra and Moscow could develop an ongoing security dialogue "even at times of continuous political mistrust".
These included counterterrorism, countering violent extremism and drug trafficking, disaster relief and maritime safety.
North Korea is a point of mutual security concern, he said.
"There's no doubt that Russia is anxious about the behaviour of Kim Jong-un's regime," the report said.
It said Moscow strongly opposes any attempts to put military pressure on North Korea.
Vladivostok is an estimated 200 kilometres away from the Russian-North Korean border.
"In the event of a major conflict, Russia is likely to face an influx of refugees across its 17.3-kilometre land border with North Korea, or via the sea, a 22.1 kilometre maritime border," the report said.
"Moscow would end up with yet another fragile hotspot on its doorstep for many years to come."