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Russia & Japan
Putin Arms The Kurils

Earlier this week, Vladimir Putin sent a signal to Shinzo Abe about his unwillingness to compromise over the disputed Kuril islands. Abe is responding, Reuters reports:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday Russia’s deployment of missile systems on islands in the western Pacific isles that are also claimed by Tokyo was “regrettable”.

His comments came less than a month before Russian President Vladimir Putin is to visit Japan for talks aimed at progress on the decades-old territorial row. Moscow has already said it hoped the deployment would not damage efforts to settle the dispute.

Russian media reported on Tuesday that Bastion and Bal anti-ship missile systems were now in operation on the islands, part of an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean over which Russia and Japan have staked rival claims for 70 years.

Abe has made no secret of his desire to settle things with Moscow, but the Kremlin hasn’t been very cooperative. For each optimistic leak from Tokyo, there’s a less enthusiastic Moscow-sourced story or, in the case of Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov’s comments earlier this year, a clear public denial.

Abe hopes that he can build up alliances with regional powers up north and thus better position his country in a geopolitical struggle with China. He’s had success with South Korea, largely because of Pyongyang’s restiveness. But Putin is playing hard-to-get. While it’s possible that things could turn around at the Tokyo summit, the Kuril islands conflict is looking like it will still be with us as the world heads toward greater geopolitical uncertainty.

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  • Dhako

    Despite the most fawning press in the West, Mr Abe, is serious blunderer in strategical thinking. At least if you look things in rather dispassionate sense. And by that I mean, he gamble, monumentally, on the TPP and Obama’s pivot to Asia. And now that looks dead in the water. Secondly, he thought that a bit of financial carrots will get him some sweat deal from the hard-man of Russia, namely Mr Putin, forgetting, that, Putin, like 19th century Metternich of Austria-Hungary’s Hapsburg empire (or Catherine the Great of Russia) doesn’t do strategy on the basis of economical benefit, which is what 21st century most western’s thinkers in Geo-politics do so. But rather what he – i.e., Putin – does (and he is one sense with those 19th century predecessors) is that he “evaluate” national vigor and interest on the basis of “configuration of forces”.

    And by that I mean, when it comes to who could be of help of Russia, Mr Putin is completely not interesting on economical scale of things. But rather, he is interesting as to who has the independence of mind, power-preponderance, and strategical room to maneuver. And in the case of Mr Abe of Japan, since his country is – by all intent and purpose, a “strategical vassal state” for Uncle Sam – Putin sees in him with no independence of strategical mind, no sense of power projection without the say so of USA, and no national ability to go against it’s patron power”, namely the USA, in any conceivable way.

    Hence, the way Putin calculates things, any strategical investment on his part on Japan will be wasted, since, there is no “independence reciprocity” that can be expected from Japan, without the implicit and explicit say so of Uncle Sam(USA). And this will mean, from Putin’s perspective, to give back the Kurils islands to Japan is akin to given someone a proper piece of prime territory and only getting in return nothing more than few shillings. And this is not what national interest or strategical great power do, at least as any students of 19th century Geo-Politics will recall how this sort of things was handled back then.

    Consequently, to Putin. one can say, the likes of Iran (even economically minnow as she is) is far more “strategically important” to Russia in her struggle against Uncle Sam than Japan could ever be. And in that sense, Japan may as well stop believing her “check-book” diplomacy will win something from Putin, since, to the likes of Putin, power and independence of national strategy comes first when it comes to ascertaining as to who Russia must cut a decent deal for. And, in that sense, Mr Abe of Japan, never had any snow-ball chance in hell of winning anything from the likes of Putin, no matter how much he and his admirers in the western press talk it up of his chances of getting square deal from Putin’s Russia on the Kurils islands.

    • JR

      Assumes never-ending enmity is the only way forward. Like I said, you view the world exclusively though zero-sum prism and that blinds you to a host of possibilities. I guess that’s why you are just a propaganda drone and not a decision maker. Remember, your job is to make your enemy believe your propaganda, not for you to believe that propaganda yourself.

      • Dhako

        My friend, I don’t deal with wishful thinking when it comes to ascertaining the politics of great powers and their conduct. But, on the contrary, I deal with “reality” as it is. No matter how bitter that may be to someone. Now you can call me propaganda drone or whatnot, but the fact that pertains to this issue, is as I have laid out for you.

        Of course, you can believe that, or you can go on your merry way in thinking that the likes of Mr Putin is in the business of singing “kumbaya” with Mr Abe, without him never paying any attention of the strategical “Zero-Sum-Terms” he is forced to operates under it, particularly in the sustained strategical pincer-movement he is under now vis-a-vis the US’s counter-move against Russia across the board.

        Finally, I really do not know what you keep telling yourself that I am trying to believe my own propaganda, as opposed to making others swallowing it, when in fact all I did in here is to delineate how the likes of Putin sees the world in the current circumstances. And of course, if you disagree with that instead of calling it propaganda would it have killed you to counter-argue my points with sufficient logic and reason, instead of glibly dismissing what you can’t counter-argue with coherent take of your own with silly wave of the hand.

        In other words, if anyone is engage in propaganda, one can easily see that it’s rather you who is determine to dismiss things he is not in a position to demolish with reason and logic, but merely use a one liners piffle assertions, as if that is going to be enough for others to take his argument as anything other than a tendentious line that is is.

        • JR

          Didn’t read, too long. Are they paying you by the word? Totally not effective BTW. We live in the age of Twitter. 140 characters. You think we have the attention span for your deluge of BS?
          Dhako Smart: JR Stupid See, once again I summarized your entire philosophy in 4 words. Be more concise.

    • Kev

      Good point. Why should Russia make consessions to appease Japan, when Japan has no independent foreign policy to speak of?

      Japan supports US sanctions against Russia, which shows that for Tokio being America’s obidient lapdog is more important than everything including territorial issue. And since hostilities between Russia and US are not going to go away any time soon, Putin cannot count on Japanese investment to revitalise his economy.

  • Disappeared4x

    The world is not heading “toward greater geopolitical uncertainty”. “The world” needs to realize that geography matters, history did not end, and the UN and NATO are failed institutions. Post-WW2 global structures, e.g., UN & NATO, ‘designed’ to end war has only led to ever more frozen conflicts, especially where history never ends. Did ‘Russia’ ever forget the Japanese humiliation of 1905? Do Americans realize the USA is still in a state of war with North Korea?

    One observation about Putin’s Russia. Perhaps the manufacture of missiles and anti-missile defense systems is an economic stimulus program? Their deployment, from Iran to Kaliningrad to the Kurils, is Putin’s revenge on the post-modern transnationalists who continue to believe that neither history nor geography matter, despite all evidence “the world” has yet to end the Age of Empires.

  • Kev

    Japanese have this idea, that Russia’s economic difficulties will force them to sell the islands to Japan. They have been trying to make this deal since the fall of the Soviet Union, when Russian economy was in much worse shape.

    These Japanese politicians are acting like naive and arrogant people, who don’t know Russia very well.

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