Open Forum

For the third straight year in early September Vladimir Putin traveled to Vladivostok for an international forum with ambitious aspirations. Three objectives stood in the forefront: 1) to spur development of the Russian Far East, thereby solidifying the continued sovereignty by Russia over this distant and sparsely settled frontier; 2) to “integrate” Russia into the Asia-Pacific region, tightening economic and political ties to its neighbors on terms deemed favorable to Russia’s rising leverage; and 3) finally, to strengthen Russia’s geopolitical identity as a great power in a multipolar Asia. With China, North Korea, and Mongolia notably represented at the EEF, the focus in 2017 centered on Japan and South Korea, whose leaders made pitches to Putin for reconfiguring relations despite compelling limitations of their prospects.

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