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Engaging Russia in Asia Pacific

Edited by Koji Watanabe

Despite Russia’s strong presence because of its military capability, its role in the Asia Pacific region traditionally has been weak, partly because of the predominantly European orientation of Russian leadership, who were eager to make Russia a part of the “West.” The positive engagement of Russia in Asia is recognized by many regional players as being not only possible, but also desirable for both Asia Pacific countries and Russia itself. Russia’s engagement in Asia Pacific is important for further stabilizing the region.

In this book, authors from six countries—China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea—evaluate the prospects for Russia’s participation in Asia by analyzing the obstacles to and motivations for engagement. The perception in Asia of Russia as a security threat persists and some bilateral diplomatic issues, such as the Northern Territories issue between Japan and Russia, remain unresolved. But the potential for bolstering energy security in Asia by tapping resources in the Russian Far East and the benefits to Russia of an influx of capital and technology from Asian countries will propel regional acceptance of the principal successor to the Soviet Union.

Not only is Russia endeavoring to engage Asian Pacific countries on a bilateral basis—most notably, in its “strategic cooperative partnership” with China—but it is also seeking to be drawn into the region’s multilateral forums. It has been a full dialogue member of the ASEAN Regional Forum since 1994, it was admitted to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 1998, and it aspires to participate in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Even though–to Russia’s chagrin—it is not one of the members of the Four-Party Talks for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, its informal involvement in the process is encouraged.

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