Country Reports

More than bilateral relations, the big picture interested Russian writers as the summer drew to a close. The prevalent assumption was that the West is in rapid decline and a new world order of some kind is just over the horizon. The positive forces for that include Putin’s assertive foreign policy, China’s rise and close relationship with Russia, and North Korea’s demands for how to resolve the problems on the Korean Peninsula. The notion that Russia is now in a favorable position in Asia was supported by satisfaction that countries are stepping up diplomacy with it because of their uncertain US ties and Russia’s promise for their national interests. Yet, there was palpable concern about how to capitalize on the new opportunities: double down on close ties to China, develop a more autonomous project for Russia’s ascent in Asia, seize the chance offered by North Korea, or search for some other path. Little notice was given to the old idea that Russia could revive ties with the West and become a balancer in East-West or Sino-US ties. Many accepted the conclusion that the world is entering a new cold war with Russia firmly on China’s side, fully capable of managing Western sanctions and gaining acceptance in the East.

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