Author: Georgi Bulichev
For more than a century Russia has been dealing with the political situation on the Korean Peninsula (the first regular contacts date back to the last quarter of the 19th century). The region has always been something of a headache for Russian politicians. To understand this, all one has to do is recall the basic stages of its history: the catastrophic (for Russia) Russian-Japanese War, which was largely connected with the two powers rivalry in Korea; the Koreans exodus to Russia's Far East at the beginning of the 20th century and the refugees tragic forced resettlement during the Stalin era; the division of Korea, which led to the first large "inter-system" armed conflict to follow the Second World War, the Korean War of the 1950s; the intra- Korean confrontation of the Cold War and the occasional outbreaks of "hot" conflicts, which more than once pushed the peninsula to the brink of another major war; the bitter "blanket-pulling" of the 1990s, when both Koreas tried to use Russia in sorting out their problems. Today, the Korean Peninsula remains a potential hot spot on Russia's borders with the Far East.
Most likely, the "Korea challenge" to Russia's foreign policy will last for quite some time. If so, obviously, it would be nice to have a "working plan" on how to act in this regard, so that we may effectively allocate Russia's limited foreign policy resources.
Russian policy with regard to the Korean Peninsula can be divided into three conceptual blocs: Russias relations with North Korea, its relations with South Korea, and its relations with the Korean Peninsula on a global scale.
Before anything else, however, one must ask: what exactly are Russias real national interests on the Korean Peninsula?
Georgi Bulichev, D.Sc. (Econ.), leading research scientist, Institute of World Economics and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences.
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