Country Reports

In the spring of 2018, Russians reacted to the drama over North Korea as they questioned their country’s place in Northeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region. Two figures loomed large in their writings: Donald Trump, representing a US government whose motives could never be trusted; and Kim Jong-un, ready to cut a deal with diplomacy left in doubt mainly because of the ideological bent of US foreign policy. Moon Jae-in also draws praise for his diplomacy with Kim, and Xi Jinping continues to escape serious criticism or doubts about the value of Sino-Russian ties. Yet, new circumstances are acknowledged to pose problems for Russian foreign policy. In light of a changing Chinese economic model, how can Russia again catch the Chinese wind in its sails? Now that the SCO has expanded, how can Russia overcome new barriers in this body? In the fast-moving diplomacy over the Korean Peninsula, how should Russia position itself?  What should be done in response to the Quad, in which India appears to defy Russian plans to build an integrative region with a northern tilt by looking southward with cooperation from Japan, Australia, and the United States? In fast-shifting Sino-US relations with the possibility of a trade war, what should Russia do? The questions raised are often oblique and the answers fall short of addressing the realities of the new conditions, but there is a mixture of defensiveness and awareness of major transformations at work to which Russia must not be oblivious.

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