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SOVEREIGN MAN

Russia finds an unexpected economic and military ally

Silvio Berlusconi Meets With Vladimir Putin

Japan and Russia have a long history of animosity, however with China set to have the largest economy by 2025 and the US securing naval positions in the pacific, Japan and Russia are looking to each other to be economic and military allies. As activity Asia is sure to increase, strong economies and military presence in the region is vital. The Asia Times reveals the pragmatism that led to this Russo-Japanese alliance:

Spooked by China’s persistent assertiveness in confronting its Asian neighbors at sea, Japan and Russia are beginning to seek rapprochement to promote cooperation on security and economics in East Asia.

Despite little progress on a decades-old territorial dispute, the two nations aim to achieve closer military cooperation to counter China’s naval expansion. They are also accelerating bilateral moves to strengthen ties based on economic and energy pragmatism.

Putin has expressed a strong intention to have bilateral economic cooperation take precedence over the territorial problem. This is the basic approach Moscow has taken since the Soviet era, of seeking results in the form of economic assistance from Japan, while at the same time avoiding making concessions to Tokyo in the territorial dispute.

Japan, meanwhile, has abandoned its traditional policy of inseparably linking political and economic issues. Since the territorial problem is extremely difficult to solve, Tokyo now sticks to its pragmatic approach to economic and international cooperation with Moscow to build a firmer bilateral relationship.

The trade volume between the two nations increased to more than US$30 billion last year, hitting a new record.

Most recently, the two nations on June 24 agreed that both governments would provide necessary support for a private-sector project to build a LNG plant in Vladivostok in Russia’s far east.

For Russian, fast-growing Asia is a huge, potentially lucrative market. With the LNG terminal set to serve as a base to expand its energy exports in Asia, it aims to strengthen and expand its operations to compete with the giant European and US energy companies that have accelerated their entry to the Asian market. Also, with European economies slumping further, Russia has been boosting its economic links with Asia lately.

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