The Return: Russia and the Security Landscape of Northeast Asia (IFRI)

In recent months, China – and the potential for conflict in Northeast Asia – has been prominent in discussion amongst Australian strategists. However, the complexity of strategic relationships in the region is often overlooked in this debate.

In a policy paper published 31 March 2020, Bobo Lo, Associate Research Fellow with the Russia/NIS Center at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), reminds us that Northeast Asia has emerged as a critical theater of Russian foreign policy in recent years.

But one constant will remain amidst the uncertainties: Russia is back as a serious player in Northeast Asia, and its engagement—and ambition—will only grow.

In many respects, the fundamentals have barely changed: the Kremlin’s focus on undermining US strategic dominance; an abiding faith in the balance of power; and the reliance on traditional strengths such as military might, geopolitical reach, and the energy sector. Crucially, Moscow views Northeast Asia through a globalist lens; the region matters principally because of its wider implications for international order and governance. Looking ahead, Russian policy will be shaped by developments beyond its control: how committed the United States is to its alliance network in the Asia-Pacific; whether China’s rise is sustained, and in what form; and how the security situation on the Korean peninsula unfolds.

Read the full abstract and download the full policy paper (pdf 1.11Mb) (external links to Institut Francais des Relations Internationales ¦ French Institute for International Relations website)