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Russia's Pacific Fleet in Vladivostok

Russia and the Indo-Pacific Security Concept

Neil Melvin
Emerging Insights, 24 May 2021
International Security Studies, Russia Navigating the Indo-Pacific, Russia, Pacific
This Emerging Insights paper examines Russia's opposition to the Indo-Pacific security concept and argues that Moscow’s foreign policy in the region is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain in the context of the coalescence of a distinct US-led alliance in the Indo-Pacific.

Over the past decade, Russia’s efforts to pivot to Asia have gathered force as relations with the West have deteriorated. While the focus of this engagement has been on the Asia-Pacific and its existing regional architecture (ASEAN), China has emerged as by far Russia’s most important partner. The China–Russia relationship increasingly involves key areas of cooperation and convergence, notably on policies designed to oppose the US. Russia has, however, developed a wider regional policy with key Asian states (notably including India), in part to prevent an over-reliance on China. The rise of the Indo-Pacific regional concept represents a challenge to Russia’s established position in Asia. 

In this Emerging Insights paper, Russia’s opposition to the Indo-Pacific concept is mapped and the implications of the concept for its policy of regional balancing are examined through a consideration of Russia’s evolving ties to China, India and Japan. Russia’s efforts to counter the IP concept are analysed. The paper argues that the rise of the Indo-Pacific concept and, in particular, the consolidation of a regional security order around the Quad, is forcing Russia to readjust its regional policies and to seek an ever-more elusive regional balance in its relations with Asian countries. 

BANNER IMAGE: Russia's Pacific Fleet on exercise in Vladivostok. Courtesy of Sergei Orlov/AdobeStock

Neil Melvin
Director, International Security Studies

Dr. Neil Melvin is Director International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (... read more

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