‘Global Insights: Why Russia Is Challenging Japan Over Kurils’

“Another likely explanation for Moscow’s growing assertiveness regarding the islands is that Russia is succeeding in raising its profile in East Asia more generally, even without resolving its dispute with Japan. China, which has now replaced Germany as Russia’s top trading partner, is expected to become a leading purchaser of Russian energy. Economic relations between Russia and South Korea have also improved considerably. The Russian government has also sought to further establish its Pacific presence, by hosting the 2012 APEC summit in Vladivostok, for instance. The drive to improve conditions on the disputed islands, as in the rest of the Russian Far East, might also be seen as an effort to project a vision of modernity and sophistication to fellow Asian nations.”

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