At least since the time of Peter the Great we have tended to think of Russia very much in a European context. The bulk of her people and economy are in Europe. And her cultural links and principal historic involvements have been with the West. But that is not the whole story. Russia has been a key player in Asian affairs since the occupation of Siberia in the 17th century. In the subsequent 250 years she acquired a Central Asian empire, participated in the dismemberment of China, and, fatally, went to war with Japan. The involvement continued through the Second World War, assistance to the Chinese Communists, the Asian Cold War confrontations in Korea and Vietnam, and, again fatally, her in intervention in Afghanistan. Having initially turned to the West after the fall of Communism, Russia is now giving renewed attention to the opportunities and challenges Asia presents to her in the 21st Century. She offers huge raw material reserves to a continent hungry for them, has concerns to maintain her influence in her former empire, is part of the Asian nuclear equation, is threatened by Central Asian Islamism, is having to adjust (like everyone else) to a fast rising China, and shares with many Asian powers an aversion to US unipolarity. As Asia works out her destiny over the forthcoming decades, Russia will be very much part of it.
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Sir Tony Brenton, British Diplomat, Writer and Fellow of Cambridge University
- Wednesday, 16 March 2011
- 5.15 p.m. - 6.30 p.m.
Seminar Room 2-1
Level 2, Manasseh Meyer
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
469C Bukit Timah Road