Russia and Asia: The Emergence of ‘Normal Relations’?

  • F. Seth Singleton


The debates on Russian foreign policy and, more generally, on the Russian self-image itself have always been about Russia’s place in relation to the West. Is Russia European, or not? If it is not European, is it ‘Asiatic’ or some variant of its own distinctive self?2 If Russia is European, what must be done to integrate the country fully into Western civilization? Conversely, if Russia is distinctive, what must be done to protect it against the subversive forces of Western rationalism and liberalism?3 This debate goes to the heart of the Russian character and it emerges at times of crisis or transition: the era of Ivan IV and the Time of Troubles, of Peter I, during the late nineteenth century, and at the present time.


Foreign Policy Liberal Democratic Party Peace Treaty Island Dispute Russian Republic 
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  1. 9.
    For a comprehensive analysis of the Sino-Soviet rocky relationship, see ‘The Strategic Context’ and ‘The Roots of Friction: Cultural, Territorial, Geopolitical and Ideological’, in C. G. Jacobsen, Sino-Soviet Relations since Mao: The Chairman’s Legacy (New York: Praeger, 1981), chs. 1 and 2.Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    And yet, it is important to note that post-Soviet Central Asia, rife with ethnonationalism, may potentially threaten the integrity of multinational states such as China. See Rajan Menon, ‘In the Shadow of the Bear: Security in Post-Soviet Central Asia’, International Security 20, no. 1 (Summer 1995), esp. pp. 178–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 20.
    See, e.g., Hiroshi Kimura, ‘Recent Japan-Soviet Relations’, in Peter Drysdale (ed.), The Soviet and the Pacific Challenge (1991), pp. 72–3. Kimura argues that only Japan can really help the Soviet economy, and ‘with the worsening economic crisis in the Soviet Union, the Soviets now seem to have no choice but to approach Japan’ over the islands.Google Scholar
  4. 23.
    See, e.g., Shinchiro Tabata, ‘The Japanese-Soviet Future’, unpublished paper (May 1990), Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido.Google Scholar
  5. 26.
    For a perceptive analysis of the decline of Soviet-North Korean cooperation, see Charles E. Ziegler, Foreign Policy and East Asia: Learning and Adaptation in the Gorbachev Era (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 108–27.Google Scholar
  6. 27.
    For several excellent essays explaining the tangled politics of Central Asia, see Michael Mandelbaum (ed.), Central Asia and the World (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1994).Google Scholar
  7. 28.
    See Rajan Menon, ‘In the Shadow of the Bear: Security in Post-Soviet Central Asia’, International Security 20, no. 1 (Summer 1995), pp. 149–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 29.
    Nazarbaev’s biography and ideas are found in Nursultan Nazarbaev, Bez Pravykh i Levykh (Moscow: Molodaia Gvardiia, 1991).Google Scholar

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© Roger E. Kanet and Alexander V. Kozhemiakin 1997

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  • F. Seth Singleton

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