Uncomfortable compromises in Russia­–Japan territory dispute

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, Russia, 8 February 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Owen Lindsay, University of South Australia

On 12 August, Russia held military manoeuvres on two of the four disputed islands that lie north-east of Hokkaido. The island chain, known as the South Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, has been the major sticking point in Japan–Russia relations during the post-war period.

The Soviet Union, and then Russia, has exercised de facto administration over the entire island chain since 1945 — Russian citizens and soldiers currently live on all four of the disputed islands. Read more…

Russo–Japanese relations, bleak as ever

The turret of an old tank set in the ground as a part of war fortifications on Kunashiri Island, one of the disputed Northern Territories/ Kuril Islands. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Dmitry Filippov, University of Sheffield

The large-scale natural-gas deal struck on 21 May between Russia and China does not bode well for Japan’s relationship with Russia. With the Japanese government ratcheting up anti-Russian sanctions and temporarily suspending talks over the Northern Territories/Kuril Islands, the prospects of Japan hastening the resolution of the territorial dispute, and improving ties with Russia as a counterbalance to China remain as frail as ever. Read more…

Chinese loans will counterbalance Russia’s influence in Kazakhstan

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko shake hands following the signing ceremony for the Eurasian Union in Astana, Kazakhstan, 29 May 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Micha’el Tanchum, Shalem College

On 29 May 2014, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus signed a treaty establishing the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU). One week prior, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced investment agreements worth US$10 billion. The timing of the two events reflects Nazarbayev’s determination to use Kazakhstan’s burgeoning economic relations with China to counterbalance possible Russian domination. Read more…

Canada must ‘step on the gas’ after Russia–China deal

Chinese workers inspect the pipelines and oil storage tanks of a China-Russia crude oil pipeline in Mohe, northeast Heilongjiang Province, China on 1 January 2011. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ned Manning, Vancouver

The blockbuster Russia–China gas deal in May was bad news for proposed Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in British Columbia. The deal is emblematic of the highly dynamic Asian energy market in which various global competitive threats can materialise ‘overnight’. The longer that British Columbia’s projects are without ‘locked in’ sales contracts, the longer their viability is exposed to these competitive threats. Read more…

Russia–China strategic relations are still less than meets the eye

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping smile during a signing ceremony on a natural gas deal between their two countries, in Shanghai, China. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Rebecca Fabrizi, ANU

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping don’t see eye-to-eye with the US and its allies on many issues. The two leaders have recognised there are pragmatic benefits to working together on these issues and other world leaders might well view this strategic partnership with alarm. But history and the asymmetry of the relationship — China has the upper hand — suggest that this may be a shaky foundation for a grand design. Read more…

No reason to rush into a Eurasian Economic Union

Russia's President Vladimir Putin, his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev and his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko before a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Minsk. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Alibek Konkanov and Bakhytzhan Kurmanov, Economic Research Institute, Kazakhstan

On 29 April at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council summit in Minsk, where the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia discussed the future of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), it was announced that the agreement to establish the EEU would be signed on 29 May in Astana. This is a project that can be traced back to 1994, when the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, proposed creating a Eurasian union. Read more…

Delhi’s dance with the great powers

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on an official visit to India in 2012 (Photo: The Presidential Press and Information Office, Russia / Wikipedia).

Author: C. Raja Mohan, Observer Research Foundation

If India was slow and rather muted in responding to the Russian annexation of Crimea earlier this year, it was among one of the few nations to express concern at China’s forcible deployment of an oil rig in the disputed waters of the South China Sea close to Vietnam. Thereby hangs a tale. Read more…

Why India doesn’t support Western sanctions on Russia

President Vladimir Putin speaks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, on 21 October 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Priya Chacko, University of Adelaide

Commentators have expressed surprise at India’s failure to criticise Russia for its incursion into Crimea. Not only did India abstain from voting on the UN General Assembly Resolution condemning Crimea’s annexation but it has also opposed the imposition of Western sanctions. Together with its fellow members in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) forum, India has rejected Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop’s suggestion that Russia be excluded from the G20 summit. Read more…

Why China stands to benefit from ambiguity on Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping (L) take part in video conference in Sochi, Russia, in February 2014 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Maria Repnikova, Asan Institute for Policy Studies and Georgetown University

From the outset of the Russia–Ukraine escalation, Russian official sources claimed to have secured China’s support. Most recently, following Russia’s official annexation of Crimea, President Vladimir Putin thanked China and India, which abstained from the UN Security Council vote condemning Russia.

In reality, however, Russia’s projection of China’s stance in this crisis has been misconstrued, as China consistently favoured strategic ambiguity Read more…

How the Ukraine crisis is pushing two superpowers together

Chinese President Xi Jinping is welcomed by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during his first foreign visit since assuming the presidency. Western political and economic sanctions will inevitably push Moscow toward Beijing. (Source: AAP).

Author: Artyom Lukin, Far Eastern Federal University.

There is one international player that stands to gain from the recent turn of events in Ukraine, regardless of its outcome. This player apparently has nothing to do with the crisis that has engulfed Russia, the EU and the United States, and makes a point of staying on the sidelines. This player is China. Read more…

The Ukrainian crisis and Japan’s dilemma

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, 8 February 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Dmitry Filippov, University of Sheffield

The timing of the Ukrainian crisis could not have been worse for Japan, as it presented Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with the tactical dilemma of whether or not to fall in line with the international community by imposing sanctions against Russia.

So far, Japan’s reaction has been lukewarm compared to the response of the United States and the European Union. Read more…

Russia and Vietnam taking it to the next level

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang embrace after the cooperation signing ceremony between Russia and Vietnam at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam on 12 November, 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Victor Sumsky, MGIMO

Vladimir Putin’s visit to Vietnam earlier this month, his third since assuming the Russian presidency, was accompanied by references to the ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ between both countries. This wording has been adopted since last year, clearly indicating that the two countries are getting closer to each other and intend to cultivate a special bond. Read more…

Defence cooperation underpins Vietnam–Russia push for renewed economic cooperation

Russian President Vladimir Putin, talks with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang as they attend the cooperation signing ceremony between Russia and Vietnam at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam on 12 November 2013. Putin said that his country will expand its military supplies to Vietnam, as he held talks with his Vietnamese counterpart to boost ties between the former ideological allies. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Le Hong Hiep, UNSW ADFA and VNU

On 12 November 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid an official visit to Vietnam. This was his second visit to a country in the Asia Pacific since he regained the presidency in May 2012, and is further evidence of the maturing comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

Vietnam’s close relationship with the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation, its main successor state, date back to the early decades of the Cold War. Read more…

Bilateral rivalry a stain on the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Hamid Karzai. president of Afghanistan and Hassan Rouhani, president of Iran, attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the Ala-Archa state residence in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, on 13 September 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Bakhytzhan Kurmanov, ANU

More than 17 years ago the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was founded by Russia, China and all bar two of the Central Asian republics (Uzbekistan became a member in 2001 and Turkmenistan has yet to join). One of the major goals of the SCO was to prevent the spread of terrorism, separatism and extremism in newly independent Central Asia. Read more…