Fifty shades of containment
At Washington’s initiative, all issues of relations with the DPRK were linked exclusively to Pyongyang’s nuclear missile programme. The proposals of Russia and China to separate the military component from the economic and humanitarian aspects of cooperation, and hence the gradual easing of the UN Security Council sanctions regime, remained ignored. The American administration, without a shadow of embarrassment, used the North Korean threat factor as a rationale for increasing its own military activity and changing the nature of its presence, including the promising deployment of INF and hypersonic weapons in the Pacific Ocean. The US, Japan, and ROK Camp David Declaration
in August 2023 about the possibility of dialogue with Pyongyang without preconditions was made more for self-justification than in order to achieve a real detente.
Instilling a sense of constant danger at the level of leaders and ordinary people has allowed the United States to get Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei to take a course towards a significant increase in their own military capabilities. Priority is given to the development of ground, sea and air-based strike missile weapons, as well as anti-missile defence systems. At the same time, for example, the Japanese have already documented
the right to launch pre-emptive strikes in the event of a threat.
The practical implementation of discussions in Japan, the Republic of Korea and the island of Taiwan about the prospects for developing their own nuclear weapons or establishing joint nuclear missions with the United States is extremely dangerous for stability in the region. There is a possibility of further implementation of the Australian experience in acquiring multi-purpose nuclear submarines, which will adversely affect the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Destruction in the heads
The historical experience and features of statehood in 20th century in Japan, the Republic of Korea and the island of Taiwan determined the powerful influence of nationalist ideas on political circles as well as the broad masses of people.
In the media and the blogosphere, the responsibility for all the economic and social difficulties that affect the life and prosperity of ordinary people rests solely with China, Russia and the DPRK. At the same time, access to other information, as a rule, is blocked, and the possibilities for public discussions, scientific and expert exchanges are seriously limited. The mobilisation of large sections of the population under explicitly nationalist slogans allows governments to redistribute funds away from socially significant areas to meet the needs of defence, intelligence and subversive activities. Examples of clichés that have already been introduced at the cognitive level are the expressions “Chinese virus” and “Putin’s invasion”, which are offered by ideologists as universal causes of all the problems of mankind.
The process of creating a kind of “anti-China” on the basis of Taiwan issue, which has been carried out by Washington since the early 2000s and finally entrenched under the current democratic administration of Tsai Ing-wen, is alarming. The United States is actually implementing the “Ukrainian scenario”, promising security guarantees and military support, as well as drawing allies — Japan and some NATO countries — into a potential conflict zone. The ideas of “speciality” and a new identity are actively spread through the American Institute and NGOs.
Japan actively uses this narrative in the diplomatic line and trade and economic cooperation to attract partners. True, historical experience adamantly reminds us that Tokyo’s confidence in its own exclusivity has always led to disaster.
At the moment, there are no threats to the territorial integrity and state sovereignty of Russia from Northeast Asia. Or the author’s optimism is due to lack of awareness.
Undoubtedly, in the context of claims to a part of the Kuril Islands, Japan’s military build-up, accompanied by anti-Russian rhetoric in speeches and documents, seems potentially dangerous. Tokyo gaining strike missile weapons and further improvement of the Self-Defence Forces will prompt Russia to attract additional resources to protect state interests in the Far East. Regularly conducted joint patrol missions and exercises with the PLA have proven to be an extremely promising tool, especially given Beijing’s new policy of supporting
Moscow’s position on the Kuril islands.
The strengthening of the military potential of the Republic of Korea and Taiwan does not directly threaten the national security of Russia, since Seoul and Taipei make no claims against our country. A conflict in any form on the Korean Peninsula or in the Taiwan Strait does not provide for Russian military intervention due to the absence of formal commitments to help China or North Korea, but it will require enhanced measures to protect Russia’s own borders.
Moreover, the full involvement of China in clashes with any adversary will create a situation of uncertainty for Russia and the need to choose the most rational course of action.
US actions in Northeast Asia to deploy elements of non-strategic nuclear forces and missile defence using the potentials and territories of foreign partners pose a danger to the global strategic deterrence system. Russia and China are forced to take this aspect into account in military construction and defensive measures.
Most definitely, the ordinary people of Japan, the Republic of Korea and the island of Taiwan do not want war of any kind. Beijing and Pyongyang, on the other hand, accurately and fairly define
the conditions for the use of force
. Nevertheless, it is the United States, through its influence on its partners, that is testing patience and “red lines.” Whether Washington provides real assistance or traditionally prefers to confine itself to a proxy strategy is a rather rhetorical question.
It is imperative for Moscow and Beijing to develop a response to Washington’s privatisation of the entire security agenda in Northeast Asia, and the elimination of the independent negotiations with Japan and the Republic of Korea on political and military issues. It is in the interests of Seoul and Tokyo to overcome limitations on their sovereignty by the senior ally for the benefit of the entire region and to increase the level of their own security through confidence-building measures with their closest neighbours: Russia, China and North Korea.