Monday, 26 November 2018

As US-China tussle and joust, Russia moves on SEAsia

From trade deals to arms sales to nuclear cooperation, Moscow is making its case as a third force competitor in the strategic region

When Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first-ever state visit to Singapore this month for the East Asia Summit (EAS) – a regional gathering never before attended by the Russian leader – observers saw the move as a signal of Moscow’s bid to play a larger role in regional affairs.

Despite a stronger emphasis on developing political and commercial ties with Asia-Pacific nations in recent years, Russia has largely focused on alignment with China and deepening relations with Japan, South Korea and India. The Kremlin has paid comparatively less attention on Southeast Asia, but there are signs that is now changing.

From new trade opportunities to arms purchases and diplomatic protection, members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) appear to broadly welcome greater political, economic and defense cooperation with Russia and its moves to step up participation in the region’s multilateral institutions.

Moscow, for its part, aims to win new markets for its defense industries and vast energy sector amid tightening sanctions leveled by the United States against individuals, entities and third parties for their dealings with the Russian military and targeted defense companies. US attempts to limit Russia’s arms exports could, however, meet resistance from regional buyers.

Read the full story at Asia Times.

Nile Bowie is a writer and journalist with the Asia Times covering current affairs in Singapore and Malaysia. He can be reached at