Russia’s foreign policy: ‘back in the diplomatic big league’ or ‘nearing complete failure’?

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Japanese Russian ministers meet 11.13

Reuters’ Kiyoshi Takenaka reported on November 1st that foreign ministers from Japan and Russia have agreed to hold a vice ministerial-level meeting early next year to work towards resolving conflicting claims over certain islands – the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan – and towards signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War Two hostilities.

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The foreign ministers of both countries said the meeting helped “build trust” between Russia and Japan.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and noted: “Ever since Prime Minster Abe visited Russia in April, bilateral cooperation has been progressing in many fields such as economy, security and human exchanges”.

On 2nd November 2013, the BBC reported that Japan and Russia have agreed to hold joint military exercises and combine forces over cyber security. A video may be accessed from its site. Russia Today notes that during their joint conference the  ministers discussed international security and bilateral relations, as well as plans to hold joint navy exercises to combat terrorism and piracy.

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The deployment of elements of a US missile defense network in Japan is causing Russia ‘grave concern’

Moscow suggested holding another meeting with Tokyo about Washington’s move to deploy missile defenses around the arc of the South China Sea, including a new missile defense radar in western Japan to join an existing radar in the northern Aomori prefecture. Sergei Lavrov said: “We made no secret of the fact that the creation by the US of a global missile defense system, including a Japanese element, is causing us grave concern, primarily over the possible destruction of the strategic balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region”.

This is confirmed by an item in the Nato Watch bulletin : “Putin Dissolves Task Force for Missile Defense Cooperation with NATO”, Source: Global Security Newswire, 31 October 2013.

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stephen sestanovitchProfessor Stephen Sestanovich (right), who has served the American state all his working life, notably as former ambassador and special adviser to US secretary Madeleine Albright, comments:

“It seems only yesterday that President Vladimir Putin seized the world’s attention with his proposal to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control. To many, the fancy footwork had a clear message: Russia was back in the diplomatic big league at last. . .

“Some experts point out that Mr Putin has at least improved ties with China. . . When you have good relations only with China, you have nowhere else to turn. Russians are as uneasy about China’s rise as Americans – maybe more so. But they are facing it alone. . .

“Many think they can stand up to Moscow because its leverage is declining. Upheaval in global energy markets – especially the shale gas revolution – is one reason. The dramatic drop in Russian economic growth this year further saps Russian influence . . .”

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Is Sestanovich giving good advice?

“What Russian policy makers and experts alike should hear from Europe and the US – a message delivered more in sorrow than in anger – is that their foreign policy has gone way off track. Until it rights itself, Russia will have less and less global influence.

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Or is he ‘off track’?

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