The Sick Man of Asia

Russia's reversal of fortunes in its resource-rich Far East will complicate the Asian equation for the United States.

Issue: Fall 2003

RUSSIA ACQUIRED its Far East (Dal'nii vostok) the old fashioned way, through war and conquest. The imperialism of the Muscovite state, its Romanov successors and finally Josef Stalin's Red Army fixed the region's current borders with China, Japan and North Korea. The balance of power favored Russia's accumulation of land in these earlier times; its present weakness has cast doubt on its ability to retain all of the territory it now holds. The forces that pushed Russia into the forbidding vastness of what is now its Far East--migration, economic growth and military superiority over weak neighbors--seem poised to reverse course, with potentially disruptive consequences for the entire region.

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