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Security Challenges in the Russian Far East in the context of its geopolitical position
Material posted: Publication date: 14-11-2015
 
Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region in the modern world and is playing an increasingly important role in world politics and economics. However, along with the impressive economic performance of the region is characterized by the presence of numerous conflicts. The tense situation on the Korean peninsula, territorial disputes, internal conflicts in several countries in the region, and, most importantly, the growing contradictions between the USA and China make the situation in the Asia-Pacific complex and explosive. In these circumstances, the security of the Russian Far East can not be an actual problem.

Among the countries of Asian-Pacific region Russia occupies special position. To ATR only Russian Far East which though occupies extensive territories formally concerns, but considerably concedes on the sizes of other unit of Russia. Huge distances separate the Far East from other regions of the Russian Federation. The problem of communications with the Far East (and also in the Far East) was and remains a serious obstacle for development and development of Far East territories. In comparison with neighbouring countries (Japan, the Korean states and especially China) the Russian Far East with its population, hardly exceeding six millions persons, looks almost not occupied. Thus the population great bulk (and also a considerable unit of the industrial enterprises and a number of the major objects of a transport infrastructure) is massed in a southern unit of region. One more feature of the Far East is presence of extended overland and sea borders.

Considering geographical realities of the Russian Far East, its position, from the point of view of safety, it is represented vulnerable enough (in the relation as military men, and not military calls and threats). Safety issues were key for the Russian Far East throughout all its history. Since differentiation of the Russian and Chinese possession in region in the middle of a XIX-th century there was a problem of safety of frontier territories of the Far East. The border between Russia and China long time was actual "transparent", for its guards on all extent elementary there were no forces. In view of backwardness of overland communications the troop transportation problem to the Far East was extremely sharp. The sea way to the Far East also occupied considerable time, and fleet basing on Pacific ocean often met obstacles in the form of not developed infrastructure. Besides, in case of the possible conflict of Russia to England to support sea communications with the Far East it would be extremely inconvenient. Building of the Trans-Siberian trunk-railway promoted improvement of the message with the Far East, however cardinally change a situation it could not. The defeat in war with Japan in 1904-1905 in many respects was result of unprofitable strategic position of Russia in the Far East. The army and fleet of Russia have been dispersed between several theatres. The Trans-Siberian highway did not cope with troop transportation, and Japan could faster, than Russia to concentrate considerable ground forces in Manchuria. The Russian fleet could lean only on two bases - Port Arthur and Vladivostok, and directed as a reinforcement from Baltic sea 2nd Pacific squadron should go to the Far East round Africa and has not had time to arrive to Port Arthur before its falling.

The difficult situation in the Far East developed and during the Soviet period. Threat of the conflict to Japan was the sharpest, especially from the beginning of 1930th In these conditions there was an escalating of forces of Red Army in the Far East, building of military facilities, creation of the enterprises of the defenᥠindustry. After the Second World War Japanese threat has disappeared, however inflaming Cold war has aggravated again conditions in the Far East. The United States consolidated the military presence at region and developed system of political-military alliances, and war in Korea in 1950-1953 stormed nearby to borders of the USSR. At the same time, a victory of communists in civil war in China in 1949 and an alliance of the USSR with the Chinese National Republic has consolidated strategic positions of Soviet Union as in region, and all over the world. The situation has sharply exchanged with deterioration of the Soviet-Chinese relations in the early sixties Split between the USSR and the Peoples Republic of China has soon passed in confrontation, border conflicts began to flash. Soviet Union began to consolidate the military presence on border with China and has been compelled actually prepares for war on two large theatres - in Europe against the NATO and in the Far East against the Peoples Republic of China. Position of the USSR in opposition from the Peoples Republic of China became complicated a superiority in strength of People's liberation Army of China (NOAK), extent of the Soviet-Chinese border and affinity to border of big cities, industrial targets and the major lines of communications [1].

Settlement of the Soviet-Chinese relations in second half 80th and the termination of Cold war have reduced intensity in region. Confrontation has stopped, there was a reduction of armed forces in the Far East. At the same time after disintegration of the USSR the Russian Far East has faced the numerous calls of not military character connected from fragile social and economic system. But whether it is possible to speak about absence of external threats for Far East region of Russia after the termination of Cold war?

To begin with, we will consider the international situation which has developed in region. One of features ATR is the combination of intensive economic cooperation between the states of region with existence of serious political contradictions. Most a vivid example are the American-Chinese relations. Lifting of China, growth of its influence in economy and world politics, and also military modernisation cause serious anxiety in the United States. Returning to Asia »became one of leitmotives of the American foreign policy in B.Obama's second presidential term«. At the same time, despite rivalry between the USA and China in many spheres, between them remain both constructive relations, and mutually advantageous economic cooperation. China declares peace character of the policy, and the USA in words also do not aspire to open confrontation. Obvious contradictions between two leading states of Asian-Pacific region at all do not remind opposition of superpowers of the period of Cold war. Whether growing rivalry between the USA can and the Peoples Republic of China will be reflected in the politician of Russia in ATR and safety of the Russian Far East?

As to Russia now the Russian-Chinese relations are on lifting. Between two countries political dialogue at the highest level comes true, interaction in foreign policy sphere is conducted, the trade turnover grows and variety of large-scale projects comes true. At the same time growth of influence of China causes certain anxiety among a number of politicians, experts and representatives of the public. Modern Antichinese moods in Russia have some sources. It and the negative experience of Cold war multiplied for historical memory of conflicts of the past. It and the new role of China in the modern world which sharply changes a balance of power and is perceived often with mistrust. Not in the last instance the fear of China is connected with geopolitical position of the Russian Far East. The neighbourhood with densely populated China, growing economic influence of the Peoples Republic of China on region life, sensation of isolation of the Far East from other Russia create a rich basis for formation of representations about possible calls and threats from Heavenly Empire. It and fears concerning settlement of the Far East by the Chinese colonizers (and, in the long term, - its joinings to the Peoples Republic of China), and alarmistskie moods in connection with vulnerability of the Far East before hypothetical Chinese military intrusion. For example, publicist Alexander Hramchihin noticed that «last years the Chinese army conducts doctrines which cannot be treated differently as preparation for aggression against Russia, and scale of doctrines (spatial scope and quantity zadejstvuemyh troops) constantly grows» [2].

In turn, in Russia manoeuvres and the reequipment, the battle readinesses of East military district directed on increase, and also a number of other measures on counteraction to possible potential threats also are conducted from China. According to the Russian researcher V.B.Kashin, «even hypothetical Chinese threat serves as the significant factor of the Russian external and defenßÑ policy» [3].

Certainly, in case of the full-scale military conflict of Russia and China position of the Russian Far East will appear strategically unprofitable, if not hopeless. Whether however in interests of China to arrange intrusion to the Russian Far East? Even if to abstract from statements for friendship with Russia and a peace character of development of China it is possible to see that in the Peoples Republic of China are more concerned by relations from the USA, ready to defend the leadership in ATR from any potential contender. Despite preservation in structure NOAK of large overland contingents (considerably outnumbering all Russian army, not to mention troops in the Far East) the basic attention in military modernisation of China is given to development of the Air Forces, Naval Forces and strategic nuclear forces. In the conditions of contradictions with the USA and a number of the countries ATR friendly and stable relations with Russia are not less important for the Peoples Republic of China, than for Russia similar character of interaction with China. Military opposition of 60-70th Lay heavy burden not only on Soviet Union, but also on China. If in the USSR intrusion of the Chinese troops into Siberia and to the Far East, in the Peoples Republic of China - approaches of the Soviet Army from Mongolia to Manchuria [4] were afraid. Moreover, from the Soviet-Chinese confrontation benefit was received, first of all, by the USA and their allies. Thus, normalisation of the Soviet-Chinese relations (which it was accompanied by reduction not only Soviet, but also the Chinese troops) was not so much "capitulation" [5] Soviet Union in front of the Peoples Republic of China, how many a mutually advantageous exit from strategic deadlock and transition to a new format of relations. Russia (and other countries of the post-Soviet territory adjoining on the Peoples Republic of China) have turned to «strategic back» China that became one of external factors who have provided success of internal transformations in the Peoples Republic of China.

As to the United States calls of safety for the Russian Far East from their party have appreciably decreased in comparison with the period of Cold war. At the same time, Russia with some anxiety has apprehended strengthening of the American military presence in ATR as a result B.Obama's politicians on «to returning to Asia». For example, in the joint statement with China from September, 27th, 2010 about deepening bilateral the party relation actually «have urged the USA not to to destabilise conditions in region, abstaining from show of force» [6]. Initiatives of the USA on expansion of systems of anti-missile defence in ATR are directed, according to a number of domestic and foreign experts, not only (and it is not so much) against the North Korea, but also against China and Russia [7]. A potential source for the conflict between the USA and Russia in ATR can be as well an unsettled question on differentiation of an exclusive economic zone in Beringovom and Chukchi the seas [8]. The situation aggravation on the Korean peninsula, including initiated by the United States can become one more call for safety of the Far East. On North Korean nuclear facilities or other military operation against Democratic People's Republic of Korea serious consequences and for the next Primorski Territory could have drawing of blows. However the USA are objectively compelled to carry out more reserved to the policy in relation to Democratic People's Republic of Korea, in view of not only retaliatory measures from the North Korea, but also a position of the Peoples Republic of China and Russia.

However the most serious call for the Russian Far East from the USA has indirect character and is connected with the factor of China. In the American official documents devoted ATR, Russia practically does not figure, however in estimations of experts the role of Russia in region usually contacts China - or as its partner (and, hence, threat for the USA), or as its contender (and, accordingly, the potential ally of the United States) [9]. However that the Russian-American alliance in ATR was successful, is necessary, according to the Russian researcher A.L.Lukina, full transformation of relations between Russia and the USA [10]. In the conditions of proceeding crisis in relations between Russia and the West it is represented, to put it mildly, difficult enough. Besides, the American cooperation with the Far East in humanitarian and economic sphere - «minimum for last two decades» [11]. The USA do not have considerable interests in the Russian Far East and, accordingly, the partnership with Russia in ATR to Americans will be is interesting mainly for restraint of China. In the conditions of difficult relations between the USA and China it can cause a sharp aggravation of the Russian-Chinese relations and, probably, returning to the opposition similar to confrontation of 60-70th According to Russian expert D.V.Trenina, «Russia would cease to play a role of reliable back that would cause in Beijing fear before« a strategic environment »from the USA» [12] for China. Strengthening of the Russian military presence in the Far East along with illusive hopes to the aid from the USA can create illusion bolshej durabilities of the Russian positions in region, however it will be real a situation with safety in the Far East even more intense. The international positions of Russia and China will sharply worsen, and in the greatest prize there will be USA. To avoid a similar situation, adequate estimations are necessary from Russia as calls of safety from the Peoples Republic of China, and prospects from cooperation with the USA on the basis of restraint of China.

Thus, the most optimum variant for safety of the Far East the current position of the Russian government on activization of cooperation with China and neutrality preservation in the American-Chinese rivalry [13] is represented. Also safety of the Russian Far East cannot be considered out of a context of an external and defenßÑ policy of Russia as a whole. Relative geopolitical weakness of Russia in ATR can be indemnified for the account of growth of influence of Russia in the world and regional policy, lifting of economy, increase of fighting capability of armed forces and, certainly, politicians on support of the Far East from the federal authorities. In modern international relations has appeared more tools for safety, besides a military power or a balance of power. Especially brightly it is shown in Asian-Pacific region where intensive militarization can be combined with economic integration. The Far East should not be transformed into the military camp closed from an external world by "Iron Curtain", it should be opened for cooperation with the countries ATR, should become, according to domestic researcher V.L.Larin, «a window to Asia» [14]. But at the same time the Far East should feel a continuous communication with other Russia and support with its party.

Far East territories of Russia historically were in the extremely vulnerable position that it is possible to consider as a geopolitical axiom. However the Far East remains a unit of Russia. And strong Russia, in turn, is the guarantor of safety and stability of the Far East, it is possibility to transform a geopolitical call in geopolitical advantage.

The list of references

  1. Volynets And. The Chinese front of cold war//Russian planet [the Electronic resource]. - an access Mode: <http://rusplt.ru/world/china-war-10636.html>
  2. Garusova L.V. Russia in Asian-Pacific region: interests and a policy of the USA//the Bulletin of the Vladivostok state university of economy and service. 2013. № 1 (19). With. 174-183.
  3. To Great Ocean - 2 or the Russian jerk to Asia. The report of International debatable club "Valdai". Moscow, February 2014.//Valdai Discussion Club [the Electronic resource]. - an access Mode: <http://valdaiclub.com/publications/reports/toward_the_great_ocean_2_or_russia_s_breakthrough_to_asia/>
  4. Kashin V.B.Summa of all fears//Russia in the global policy. 2013. № 2//Russia in the global policy [the Electronic resource]. - an access Mode: http://www.globalaffairs.ru/number/Summa-vsekh-strakhov-15961
  5. Konyshev V. N, Sergunin A.A., Shatsky V.I.Sistemy of anti-missile defence of the USA: the past, present, future. SPb.: Publishing house "Aurora", 2015. 168 with.
  6. Larin V. L. Asian-Pacific region in the XXI-st century beginning: calls, threats, chances of Pacific Russia. Vladivostok: DVO the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2010. 100 with.
  7. Portjakov V. Ja. The Russian estimations of "returning" of the USA in Asian-Pacific region//China in the world and regional policy. History and the present. Вып.XVII, 2012. M: IDV the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2012. With. 45-57.
  8. Trenin D.Vernye drug? As Russia and China perceive each other. M: mosk. Carnegie's centre, 2013. 74 with.
  9. Hramchihin A.Kitaj against Russia: the Victory will be not for us//the Popular mechanics [the Electronic resource]. - an access Mode: <http://www.popmech.ru/weapon/9937-kitay-protiv-rossii-pobeda-budet-ne-za-nami/>
  10. Kaczynski V.M. US-Russian Bering Sea Marine Border Dispute: Conflict over Strategic Assets, Fisheries and Energy Resources//Russian Analytical Digest. No.20. 1 May 2007. P. 2-5.
  11. Lukin A. Russia and America in the Asia-Pacific: a New Entente?//Asian Policy and Politics. Vol.4. 2012. No.2. P. 153-171.

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  1. Volynets And. The Chinese front of cold war//Russian planet [the Electronic resource]. - an access Mode: <http://rusplt.ru/world/china-war-10636.html>
  2. Hramchihin A.Kitaj against Russia: the Victory will be not for us//the Popular mechanics [the Electronic resource]. - an access Mode: <http://www.popmech.ru/weapon/9937-kitay-protiv-rossii-pobeda-budet-ne-za-nami/>
  3. Kashin V.B.Summa of all fears//Russia in the global policy. 2013. № 2//Russia in the global policy [the Electronic resource]. - an access Mode: http://www.globalaffairs.ru/number/Summa-vsekh-strakhov-15961
  4. Volynets A. Ukaz.soch.
  5. In the same place
  6. Portjakov V. Ja. The Russian estimations of "returning" of the USA in Asian-Pacific region//China in the world and regional policy. History and the present. Vyp. XVII, 2012. M: IDV the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2012. With. 49.
  7. Konyshev V. N, Sergunin A.A., Shatsky V.I.Sistemy of anti-missile defence of the USA: the past, present, future. SPb.: Publishing house "Aurora", 2015. With. 117-118
  8. Kaczynski V.M. US-Russian Bering Sea Marine Border Dispute: Conflict over Strategic Assets, Fisheries and Energy Resources//Russian Analytical Digest. No.20. 1 May 2007. P. 4-5.
  9. Garusova L.V. Russia in Asian-Pacific region: interests and a policy of the USA//the Bulletin of the Vladivostok state university of economy and service. 2013. № 1 (19). With. 182.
  10. Lukin A. Russia and America in the Asia-Pacific: a New Entente?//Asian Policy and Politics. Vol.4. 2012. No.2. P. 166.
  11. To Great Ocean - 2 or the Russian jerk to Asia. The report of International debatable club "Valdai". Moscow, February 2014. With. 28//Valdai Discussion Club [an electronic resource]. - an access Mode: <http://valdaiclub.com/publications/reports/toward_the_great_ocean_2_or_russia_s_breakthrough_to_asia/>
  12. Trenin D.Vernye drug? As Russia and China perceive each other. M: mosk. Carnegie's centre, 2013. With. 33.
  13. Kashin V.B.Ukaz.soch.
  14. Larin V. L. Asian-Pacific region in the XXI-st century beginning: calls, threats, chances of Pacific Russia. Vladivostok: DVO the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2010. With. 55.

Fedorov N.V.


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