Country Report: Russia (September 2023)
Russian writings on Asia in the late summer of 2023 ranged from encomiums to China’s success to alarm about its revanchism. Some struggle with uncertainty about its economic troubles and even some political ones, while others laud shared thinking on anti-colonialism. On global security and international institutions, praise prevails for China’s opposition to the West. Yet, the alarm over a new Chinese map showing territorial claims conveyed a different tone. On the BRICS summit, optimism abounded but not without uncertainty about what would follow. As for the September EEF and the anticipated October BRI summit, praise rang hollow with some concern about Putin’s posture or their lack of substance. As for Sino-Indian relations, tortured positivity over the promise of trade did little to conceal serious issues. Real concern about Kazakhstan’s “multi-vector” diplomacy and US policy there also came through in recent coverage. On the Korean Peninsula, both the importance of the Camp David trilateral summit and the potential impact of the Putin-Kim summit screamed for attention. In short, there was rich material to digest from this juncture in Vladimir Putin’s “Turn to the East.”
On August 10 in Zavtra, Iury Tavrovsky praised the synthesis of Marxism and Confucianism by Xi Jinping, called a “new approach.” He argued that having achieved stable economic growth, social stability, and a heightened role in global governance, the CCP set spiritual life as its new target. Speaking before historians and archeologist and accompanied by other party leaders, Xi showed interest in ancient manuscripts and led a symposium on preservation and development of China’s cultural heritage. He called for research on interpretations of the origins of Chinese civilization. One tradition noted is the harmonious coexistence of diverse religious beliefs and an open worldview to different world civilizations. In place of a “new epoch,” heralded in the first decade of Xi’s leadership, a “new approach” was announced at the 20th Party Congress in 2022. In the following months, a great variety of concepts have followed, among them “Chinese modernization,” “global security,” and “global civilization.” Xi prioritizes filling the spiritual vacuum in Chinese society, which arose over decades, including the fatal blow of the “Cultural Revolution.” Under Deng Xiaoping, the slogan was “Get rich!” as interest in the arts fell sharply and the massive inflow of capital and technology from the West inevitably led to the infiltration of its moral principles. Sensing a spiritual vacuum, CCP leaders were stymied until Xi took power and from the outset in 2012 prioritized exiting from the civilizational dead-end. Xi cites Confucius more often than Mao or other ancient philosophers and has made several trips to his birthplace Qufu, while also visiting Yanan.
In Mezhdunarodnaya Analitika, No. 2, Ivan Zuenko and Cui Heng wrote about anti-colonialism as a guiding principle of Chinese foreign policy and pointed to a shared perspective with Russia. Citing the 20th Party Congress, they point to China’s understanding of modernization, contrasted to the old way of achieving it through war, colonialism, and theft. Instead, it is based on foreign policy to develop the whole world. China under Mao and later has consistently supported anti-colonialism, and Russia after 1917 ended its imperialist ways, helping to liberate China against Japan and not seizing Chinese territory which its army took from Japan. China since 1949 has had three stages: zhanqilai, rising up, successful by the end of the 1970s; fuqilai, growing rich, successful by 2012; and qiangqilai, getting strong through rejuvenation since 2012. Examples of support from China are Vietnam, North Korea, and Albania. All humanity benefits, say Chinese ideologues. China follows the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of others, which is distorted by those who see stereotypes, not facts. Since the 1990s, the interests of Beijing and Moscow have coincided, opposing US imperialism. China is not like the Soviet Union. It is part of the “Third World,” seeking a “common destiny” and integration with it. Given attempted “color revolution” in Hong Kong, it launched complete decolonization. In Africa, China and Russia are not competing; they are like-minded. They agree on replacing the global economic system led by the United States. The BRI pursues an alternative.
In this article, the authors go to great lengths to associate Russia with China’s self-image and not registering concern about policies, as in Central Asia, which may be seen as infringing on Russia’s interests. It is a refutation of Russian views of a “China threat.” At the same time, given the context of the Ukraine war, the article indirectly endorses Russia’s behavior as in keeping with anti-colonialism. Vagueness in criticism of the existing global economic system only hints at the overlap of Chinese and Russian attitudes, when China has been less critical as a beneficiary. The thrust of the article is to extend the range of shared thinking between Beijing and Moscow, perhaps because in this trying time for Russia it is under new pressure to echo Chinese thinking.
On August 11, Alina Chupanova in Novye Vedomosti described Western firms departing from China, depriving China of the main driver of its economy—foreign investment. Foreign firms had invested billions over 50 years in return for cheap labor, but the competition and anti-Chinese attitudes in the West had cut back on such orders, as the CCP reminded Chinese that ideology is more important than profit. The internal market in China is less attractive: the population is declining, the property market has collapsed, both deflation and record-high youth unemployment reduced demand, and competition has risen between foreign and local companies. Meanwhile, political risks and strict regulation have had an impact as labor is more expensive. Chinese policies have switched to defending national interests, but authorities are urging the West to keep investing, lowering barriers. Washington’s new restrictions on technology transfers are a factor too, as the world is being split into two camps. If a Taiwan conflict arises, the West could impose sanctions on China similar to those on Russia due to the Ukraine situation. Massive outflow of business would result more from political than economic causes, diversifying supply chains to countries more loyal to the US. Propaganda is intensifying not only in the US, but in China too with study during work hours of the “Ideas of Xi Jinping,” even for bank managers, as negative prognoses are forbidden. Some Russians say that the pressure of ideology will slow economic growth, but that would hardly damage its entrepreneurial spirit or stop China’s rise.
On September 1, Aleksandra Perminova wrote in Rossiya v Global’noi Politike about China’s 21st century conception of global security. Claiming that Russia’s special military operation gave an impulse to transform international processes, the article sees as one effect China’s February 2023 conceptual document on a global initiative for security, which appeared in the shadow of another Chinese publication on political management of the Ukraine crisis and is perceived as synonymous with China’s “community of common destiny.” Yet, this not only advances a new international order, it enables us to understand Beijing’s position on the Ukraine crisis. To the start of this century, Deng’s slogan guided China to concentrate on domestic modernization and avoidance of participation in global conflicts with stunning economic results. China prioritized “partner diplomacy,” rejecting alliances and blocs. After some signs of change, in 2002 at the ASEAN regional forum the Chinese delegation first proposed a “new concept of security.” From 1998 in white books, Chinese condemned US military alliances in the region, setting the stage for a comprehensive position on Asia-wide security. Only after the 18th Party Congress with Xi Jinping in 2013, did a full-fledged concept of global security emerge, linked to the BRI in defense of Chinese foreign interests. Western observers wrongly saw this as a move solely for Chinese interests. In the fall of 2022, Xi Jinping recognized unprecedented challenges for humanity in terms of various deficits and proceeded to greatly boost China’s role in questions of global security. Chinese see the Ukrainian crisis as proof of a breakdown of the world order where one power had the sole right to forge alliances. Chinese have often called the West’s campaign to squeeze Russia out of the system of European security a big mistake. In striving to escalate the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, the US is seen as putting pressure on China over Xinjiang, Taiwan, and the South China Sea. Chinese draw the lesson that regional security cannot be provided by widening military blocs, as NATO tried by intruding on Russia’s strategic space. They agree that the world needs a new concept for managing security. China has successfully strengthened its peace-seeking role in the Middle East, Afghanistan, etc. China is interested in a stable Afghanistan as conducive to regional security in Central Asia, locate next to Xinjiang. On the whole, China’s policy facilitates the shift from West-centric orientations to multipolarity and increased authority for the SCO and BRICS.
On August 31, Dmitry Novikov and Pavel Vorob’ev asked in NEWS.ru why Russia is silent about China stealing part of Khabarovsk krai in its official map. In Beijing’s 2023 standard map, pretensions to Malaysian waters in the South China Sea have drawn protests. India is also angered by the map, as 50,000-60,000 soldiers face off in the Himalayas, voicing strong protests to China. It turns out the map also incorporates all of Bolshoi Ussuriysky Island despite the fact it is officially divided in half between China and Russia in 2008 in accord with the 2004 bilateral treaty. On the Chinese half, there are all sorts of tourist sites, but little on Russia’s half. Andrey Ostrovsky is quoted as asking how the Russian Foreign Ministry is reacting. Why is it keeping silent? Recognizing that there is no tension in relations, unlike in the late 1960s, Ostrovsky sees this as a purely bureaucratic issue, and he ponders if Moscow should issue an official map also with hints of territorial pretensions, adding that this is not the first time. Previously China’s maps showed as its own the disputed territory on the Amur and treated the Kurile Islands as Japanese, even including territory settled in 19th century treaties. In 1964 Mao threatened to claim 1 ½ million square km. In Beijing there is a group in authority, Ostrovsky said, calling for reexamination of the division of Bolshoi Ussuriysky, but that is still not the official line of the CCP. This could drag on or could be quickly resolved if the foreign ministry reacts quietly but right away. The Khabarovsk region lost 174 square km in the 2004 agreement and China drew closer to the Khabarovsk city by 50 km. Now Aleksandr Lomanov is quoted as saying that there are no serious territorial pretenses here. If something were to occur, it would not start with this map. In Izvestiya Endriu L’iung explained that China and Russia do not fully trust each other. There is no way to say that this is an alliance, but the two have drawn closer due to the US sanctions. Iury Ushakov announced in July that Putin would go to China in October for the BRI forum and will conduct talks on trade and economic cooperation as well as on the current geopolitical situation.
Rossiya v Global’noi Politike on August 24 examined the path of institutionalization for BRICS. Kirill Babaev and Sergei Lavrov described how many countries wanted to join since 2022, a mark of the deep transformation of the world order and distrust of the West as a guarantor of stability and economic development. Expansion with six new states is only one of the factors in the rise of BRICS’ influence and global power. It is not a talk shop, seen in the formation of its own financial institutions and joint projects. Yet, its potential as a bloc for global cooperation remains far from realized, even in reexamination of quotas for votes in the IMF and World Bank, one of the concrete goals from the outset. In 2021, they held one-third of the world GDP but only 14.7 percent of the quota. Some are skeptical about the lack of results from the time BRICS began, seeing no economic bloc or real international organization in this informal grouping despite agreement on multipolarity in the non-Western world. Flexibility has its pros and cons. Recognizing the problems, Georgy Toloraya of the National Committee for the Study of BRICS called for a coordinating center. There is no conception of a strategy of development, economic cooperation, or a common economic space. There is a need for a strategic document or manifesto, spelling out the call for a just and equal world economic order, raising the influence of developing countries. As chair in 2020, Russia introduced elements of a strategy until 2025, and it will chair in 2024 with the prospect of a more concrete document. It should be conceived as a future economic bloc, the basis of a new world order, an alternative to the Western format for development of the world economy. It is necessary to work out a collective mechanism to overcome the negative consequences from one-sided sanctions of the West. Today, this weapon is targeted against Russia and China. Risks will be reduced through an insurance system for trade. Russia as chair must take practical steps to lessen the impact of the West’s sanctions, giving incentives to other states to access the Russian market with high tech in mind, as well as supply chains and a North-South transport corridor of interest to China and India as well. The Northern Sea Route and the Arctic could interest Brazil and the UAE, too.
On August 24 in RGRU, Evgenii Shestakov assessed the BRICS summit, which added six new members, calling it just the first step and quoting Brazil’s President Lula that this will become the driver of a new world order. He noted that Lavrov at the summit spoke of the necessity of expanding representation of developing countries in the Security Council, rejecting the entry of Germany and Japan as only deepening inequality and charging that of 15 members, six follow the dictates of Washington. Prior to the summit, it was said that Delhi intended to oppose the plans for expansion, but such rumors were false. Modernization of BRICS means successful realization of a geopolitical project in defense of the interests of the Global South. It was said that China was most interested in the entry of new members since that would strengthen the position of BRICS in the world arena and strike a blow against US hegemony. Criteria for entry were “weight and authority,” but no less important was their voting record and whose resolutions they supported since this is not just an economic and political club, but in Lavrov’s opinion, above all a collective of like-minded believers.
BRI and the EEF
On September 3, Sergey Tsyplakov in Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote about China’s adaptation of the Silk Road to new realities and Moscow’s support. Launched in 2013 in Kazakhstan and Indonesia, Xi Jinping’s plan sought to boost the economic position of Chinese companies and internationalize the yuan, while overcoming disparities in levels of economic development in various regions of China. Two narratives followed in China: increasing the country’s authority; and increasing the image of the, who was concentrating power. In 2014, China enjoyed record currency reserves. More than 100 countries joined. In three years more than $160 billion in credits were allotted. The reaction was mixed. On the one hand, it was proof of the power and serious intentions of the leadership. On the other, illusions spread among some leaders of developing countries, sowing the seeds of what is now called the “debt trap.” At the first BRI summit in May 2017, Xi promised 500 billion yuan more, putting the accent on use of its own currency, as China’s assets were not unlimited. If most Western powers were at first cautiously neutral, with the Sino-US trade war they turned more negative. In August 2018, Xi declared that the initiative was not only for economic cooperation but also an important step toward a new model of global development and governance. More attention would be paid to political and economic risks, soft rebalancing in response to new forces. Plans were not fully realized in the face of harsh realities: the pandemic, permanent uncertainty about the world economy, the rise of geopolitical tensions, escalation of Sino-US competition, and the Ukraine crisis. China introduced correctives in its strategy of development, emphasizing security. The pandemic led to a virtual pause until 2023. China is gradually pulling back from super-large infrastructure projects. Of new interest were metals needed for high technology, and wind and solar energy projects. Ties with Europe deteriorated. Russia never officially participated in BRI. It cooperated through the EEU and its own idea for forging a Eurasian partnership. So far, no special benefit has come from this position. In recent years there have been no notable BRI projects on Russian territory. Will there be any shift in Russia’s position? We shall soon see in October in Beijing when the third Silk Road forum will be convened.
On September 15, Vedemosti covered the results of the EEF on the 11th to 13th, involving more than 100 sessions and 700 speakers and moderators. In the plenary session Putin was joined by the vice-president of Laos. The Far Eastern federal district is 40 percent of Russia’s territory with about half of its trees and gold deposits, more than 70 percent of its fish and diamonds as well as large percentages of other metals. Important, strategic enterprises operate there. Its role in Russia’s position in a multipolar world is exceptionally great. Results of the past decade in the development of the region and the Arctic were presented, and many new agreements were reached at the forum. The article says that despite today’s situation, the forum was a success, as Russia reorients to the East. Some changes were needed due to the new geopolitical situation: cutting losses of time for business, simplifying and accelerating procedures for residential status, and establishing infrastructure faster in this area—the key to new logistics and modernizing approaches to world trade. Raising the tourist brand of the Far East was discussed, as was attracting talented youth to this area and the Arctic along with military-patriotic upbringing. Of 41 agreements with foreign companies, 26 were with Chinese ones. A coal export port El’ga’ will be built. The article offered many details but missed big themes of earlier forums.
Danil Bochkov in Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn, No. 7, wrote about Sino-Indian economic relations, combining elements of cooperation and competition. They strive to cooperate on security and reform of the international economic order. Neither accepts attempts by the other to control the sea lanes. However, given bilateral trade ties and overlapping interests in reforming international financial institutions and boosting the voice of the “Global South,” the two are inclined to lower the level of conflict. This study focuses on economic ties thar serve as a positive influence in reducing tensions despite trade imbalances, investment issues, mutual distrust, and economic and political competition for leadership in the Indo-Pacific region. In 2020, Chinese exports to India totaled $64 billion and Indian exports were at $18.5 billion, putting China first as a trade partner until in 2022 the US was first as China had yet to overcome COVID limitations (although China claimed to be first). China exports higher-tech items. China had benefited from foreign investment in realizing this edge, while India had boosted services not industry as it moved beyond agriculture. India is heavily dependent, as in the import of smartphones, components of pharmaceuticals, and automobile manufacturing. Indians complain of non-tariff barriers to accessing the Chinese market, while India has some of the world’s highest barriers in order to boost its own industrial production. In China, there is talk of Indian maneuvers to replace China as the main “factory of the world” with ties to the US and a shift of Apple by 2027 to equalize production in the two countries. Still, both sides are interested in deepening bilateral economic cooperation and may coordinate in financial arenas dealing with developing countries. Yet, investment cooperation is weak for political reasons, especially new barriers in India. In 2021, the figures fell further, and in 2022 controls by India tightened and not only for Chinese companies. Alarm over rising economic dependence on China affects attitudes to the trade deficit. Complex licensing procedures in China restrain India’s drug exports, although in 2018 an agreement was reached. However, the events on the border in 2020 led to a self-reliance campaign in India as well as a joint supply chain resilience initiative with Japan and Australia. Distrust with China results from border clashes, mutual regional pretensions as China’s military influence spreads, and the Pakistan factor for India and the US factor for China. Yet, the economic turn from China to the West faces barriers and makes India less appealing economically to others. Despite such concerns, the article stresses the positive dynamics in trade for stabilizing bilateral relations, while urging increased trust to avoid losses from reduced trade activity.
Dina Malysheva in Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn’, No. 8 assessed the foreign policy dilemmas of Kazakhstan, pursuing its principle of multi-vectorism, greatly dependent on international investors. It is no secret that Kazakhstan’s economic system, based heavily on energy export, depends on foreign capital and non-governmental structures with a large Western presence. Until January 2022, Kazakhstan was considered one of the most stable post-Soviet republics. In 2019, when Nazarbayev transferred power to Tokaev he kept a lot of control until the tribulations of 2022, when gas prices rose sharply, leading to urban demonstrations and wild disorder until CSTO forces led by Russia defended strategic objectives in Almata came to the rescue and stabilized the situation. In this short span leadership shifted, highlighting dialogue with society. On June 5 a referendum limited the power of the president and his term to seven years, while reworking the legacy of Nazarbayev. Elections on November 22 confirmed Tokaev’s victory and allowed him to launch reforms, altering the political system. Russo-Kazakh ties were affected as well.
Kazakhstan is the longest border for Russia and the gateway to much of Asia. 3.5 million of the 19 million residents are Russian. Thus, it has the same significance for the Asian vector as does Belarus and Ukraine for Russia’s Western vector. Unification with Crimea in 2014 led to alarm that Russia would follow the same scenario with the northern districts of Kazakhstan, fueled by statements of certain Russian politicians playing into the hands of Russophobes in Kazakhstan. The January crisis was a moment of truth. Russia proved itself, while Kazakhstan faced the dilemma of continuing solidarity in its foreign policy track with Russia or distancing itself, until February 24, 2022, when Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine that provoked unprecedented sanctions from the West. Russia hoped that Kazakhstan would not support the anti-Russian sanctions and would not initiate alternative lines of transport, energy, and trade to Russian ones. Russia’s expectations were only partly realized. Kazakhstan publicly declared its refusal to recognize the independence of Donbas, then the September 2022 referendum of inclusion of four areas as part of Russia. It refused sending armed forces to help Russia in Ukraine, although it had been the only Central Asian state that sent a contingent to join NATO in the war in Afghanistan. Fearing designation by the West for not following economic and political restrictions on Russia, it backed away from earlier agreements with Russia. Yet, Kazakh companies remained in projects not subject to sanctions, such as delivering oil to Europe across Russia. In general, it did not try to replace Russia as an alternative supplier of energy and goods to Europe despite requests to do so. Russia very tolerantly responded, following its traditional non-interference in the internal affairs of neighbors and fearful that the US and its European allies would manipulate nationalist elements in Kazakhstan, in a scenario seen in the Baltics and Ukraine.
Kazakhstan has long had strategic partnerships with China and Turkey, balancing ties to Russia, taking advantage of its favorable geographic position and its key role in BRI and as an energy supplier and conduit to China. After worrying about the chance of a “color revolution” in Kazakhstan in January, Xi made his first post-pandemic trip there in September 2022: to learn from Tokayev the details of the January events, to be reassured that the status quo is kept by the new leadership, and to boost China’s influence, although limits on that are still on Kazakhstan’s agenda, as suspicions remain about Beijing’s repression of Muslims, including Kazakhs, in Xinjiang. Anti-Chinese and anti-Russian invectives in the higher echelons of power persist. Recalling the fall 2019 mass protests against rumored construction of 55 enterprises—supposedly to be moved from China with harmful ecological impact—the article says that cooperation was not affected. Turkey seeks closer ties, and Kazakhstan uses these ties as a bridge to the US and EU. The US does everything it can to tear Kazakhstan from Russia, seeing this as a way to weaken Russia and China, too. Double-dealing can be explained by the enormous economic dependence on Western capital and the threat of savings in US and European banks being frozen. Russia’s objective interest and China’s political line are both internal political stability and support for good neighborly relations with Moscow and others. Multi-vector policies in Kazakhstan still consist of the problem of choosing strategic partners and long-term cooperation.
In Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn, No. 7, Evgenii Kozhokin wrote about US policy in Central Asia. He first pointed to the messianic thrust of Americans, confident about teaching others principles of freedom and democracy. Others face the choice: either follow or face the fate of native Americans. The new “redskins” are Russians, Central Asians, Ukrainians, Chinese, and so on. US insistence on leadership omits no region, demanding democracy as the US foreign policy establishment sees it and adherence to US interests and security. Now the US is expending all the more effort to extend its hegemony to Central Asia, using all means from “soft power” to support for overthrowing the legal governments, as occurred in Iraq or the former Yugoslavia. Only the presence of nuclear-armed Russia and China is a restraining factor. Russia defends the sovereignty of Central Asia, i.e., the three in the CSTO, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, and Tajikistan, as well as Uzbekistan. In the case of Turkmenistan, it counts on neutrality. Central Asia is dependent on Russia in a special sense. The stronger Russia is, militarily and economically, the more stable Central Asia is, allowing multi-vector policies. A weak Russia threatens destabilization for all five states. Now a constant struggle for Central Asia is under way. Secretary of State Blinken from February 8 to March 3, 2023 visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, including a C5+1 meeting aimed at destroying EEU, SCO, and other existing regional groupings, while threatening China. Transit to Russia from Central Asian countries in violation of sanctions was a theme in Uzbekistan. US allies join in trying to separate Central Asia from Russia and China. US policy is exceptionally effective among young people—some studying in the US and some given green-cards to stay there, which worked for many immigrants from around the world. The quota of green-cards for Central Asia rose in recent years. Lately, US foreign policy has concentrated on opposition to Russia and China, including an information war. The shock from Kirghizia’s “tulip revolution” is long forgotten, while the forces that prepared the soil for it are at work. The January 2022 events in Kazakhstan and summer 2022 events in Uzbekistan followed from years of foreign activities, stirring up inter-ethnic conflict. No mention is made of the impact of the Ukraine war on thinking about Russia or of China’s activities in Central Asia causing concern in Russian circles.
In Mezdunarodnaya Analitika, No. 2, Natal’ia Kim and Aleksandr Soloviev wrote about anti-colonial and post-colonial narratives in the context of political myths in the DPRK and ROK. They point to the consensus about the cruel exploitation and humiliation of national worth by Japan, a critical factor in the formation of national identity. Japan’s colonial rule left a trauma, from which Koreans have yet to recover and which continues to serve to mobilize Korean identity. Yet, in South Korea, another narrative of “colonial modernization” has emerged. While not approving the fact of colonization, its advocates positively assess the reduction in illiteracy, the development of infrastructure, the construction of industrial enterprises, and other elements of modernization. This changes the understanding of collaborators as just predators. Another focus of the article is the narrative of acquiring independence in 1945 “at the hands of others.” In the North Korean political myth, informed by “juche,” liberation came from the Korean revolution, setting aside the role of the Soviet entry into the war in August 1945. Forgetting the Red Army’s role came in stages, shifting in the 1980s and especially in the mid-1990s. Victory over Japanese imperialism signified the success of the anti-colonial struggle. South Korea’s narrative also stresses the “attitude of superiority of Koreans over Japan” and discounts the Soviet role. The fact that foreigners liberated Korea is a painful part of national history, damaging national pride. In the 1960s-90s, both sides of the divided country made bloodlines the foundation of unifying the nation. In North Korea, the struggle against American imperialism, seen as the main cause of the division of Korea, whose ouster would be the culmination of the anti-colonial movement. Unlike South Korea’s narrative, anti-imperialism is closely linked with unification. Little has changed under Kim Jong-un in the anti-colonial narrative, except regarding Russia, which after the fall of the Soviet Union lost its status in the avant-garde of the struggle against imperialism. Today, Russia is again heralded in the anti-colonial context. In North Korea, criticism of Japan’s imperialism naturally flows in criticism of America’s. In South Korea, along with dominance of an official historical narrative, there are contradictory narratives. The country is far from a consensus.
On August 28 in Valdai Club, Aleksandr Vorontsov assessed the Camp David trilateral, calling the grouping a new construction and almost a full-fledged military-political pact and a striking success for US diplomacy. Considered by many Koreans a Japanophile, Yoon Suk-yeol in just one year took the approach “let’s forget the past and concentrate on the future.” Kishida Fumio at first hesitated on personal ties with Yoon, but the White House made the needed arguments. The main mission now is focused on the entire Indo-Pacific within a global US-led strategy from the Atlantic to the Pacific. One view is that this triangle will link up with the Quad and AUKUS. Another is that those do not fully meet Washington’s expectations due to India’s independent position against militarization of the Quad. This new triangle becomes the pillar of the entire alliance architecture in the Indo-Pacific region even if it is does not join with AUKUS. Washington succeeded in drawing the other two into its anti-Chinese agenda. This will complicate their relations, especially for South Korea, with Russia and North Korea. Until now Seoul has tried to show some restraint, not crossing two clearly demarcated red lines with Moscow: not to send lethal weapons to Ukraine and not to participate in actions aimed at affecting the price of Russian oil on world markets. At least one of these lines was effectively crossed, and we shall see how Korean diplomats explain breaking its two promises to Moscow, the article warns. Things will be more serious with China, given Seoul’s shift on Taiwan—just a year after a similar three-way resolution avoided mention of China. South Korea and Japan joined in restricting the flow of advanced technology to China in the US economic war, including joint research with national laboratories. On North Korea, no longer the first priority, there was a lack of realism. The key takeaway from the trilateral was the establishment in accord with US strategy of a united military-political architecture from the Atlantic to the Pacific to intensify opposition to the DPRK, China, and Russia.
Sona Rustamova in NEWS.ru drew on the New York Times to ask why the US is afraid of the expected Putin-Kim Jong-un meeting. She noted Kim’s desire for advanced technology for satellites and nuclear submarines as well as Russia’s desire for artillery to prolong its military operations in Ukraine. Citing Aleksandr Zhebin, the article says there will be no talk of military supplies to Russia since it is not economical to send them so far across Russia to Ukraine, and Russia’s military-industrial complex is fully capable. The aim, he says, is to stand up to the US-Japan-ROK trilateral, restoring the Russia-China-DPRK triangle to counter it. He called for military coordination in response to triangular exercises. The US contends that North Korea has already supplied weapons to Wagner, to which Pyongyang and Moscow responded that this is a lie. Yet, experts told this news service that in Defense Minister Shoigu’s visit to Pyongyang they could have agree on arms supplies to Russia. The Putin-Kim summit loomed as a firm response.