New Dynamics in Northeast Asia: The Russian Factor

Russian policy in Northeast Asia since 1991 reflects a new strategic engagement, with important implications for Russia?s partners in the region and for U.S. policy. This paper sets out to address the underlying factors: Russia?s objective of greater integration into the world economy as a means of economic and political tran-sition, Russia?s new diplomacy with emphasis on supporting national interests and multilateral approaches, a shift in Russia?s strategic view of the Russian Far East and Pacific Russia, and the new dynamism in the government under President Putin to pursue a constructive course in support of national interests and stable political relationships.

This paper then seeks to position Russia within the region, and offers a new definition of Pacific Russia, a concept that covers both the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia and discusses some of the most significant economic relationships in a Northeast Asia and Pacific context. A final section takes an overall policy perspective and identifies some of the policy implications that flow from the analysis, particularly in terms of Russia?s new emphasis on multilateral processes and mechanisms.

Overall, the paper argues that to date the Russia factor has either been completely ignored or given insufficient attention in much of the analysis on Northeast Asia, and that this needs to be corrected, both in the collection of information for analysis and in the development of policy towards the region.