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Department of Defense

The United States Security Strategy
for the East Asia-Pacific Region 1998



2.8 Expanding Regional Cooperation with Russia

Although Russia is traditionally considered a European power, geographically, historically and culturally, Russia is also an Asia-Pacific nation.

In the past, the Soviet Unionís contributions to Asia-Pacific security was deemed either negative or negligible. Today, America welcomes the Russian Federationís active and constructive role in Asia-Pacific security as important to regional stability. Military exercises and cooperation, port visits, and both senior-level and staff-level exchanges with the regionís armed forces have enhanced transparency and trust, and reduced suspicions left over from the Cold War. Russian engagement in such regional fora as the ARF may enhance habits of security cooperation. 

In November 1998, Russia will become a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which will enhance Russiaís engagement with its Asia-Pacific neighbors and increase its participation in a variety of multilateral economic discussions. The development of Russiaís economy, including the Far East region with its abundant natural resources, can contribute substantially to regional economic growth and buttress regional peace. At the same time, Asian capital and know-how can fuel Russiaís prosperity and contribute to its historic transition from an authoritarian communist regime to a liberal, market democracy.

Increasing Russian engagement may help relieve historical tensions and resolve several longstanding disputes that have plagued the region. For example, Russia and Japan are working toward the conclusion of a peace treaty to fully normalize the relationship between the two countries. Toward that end, they have begun to identify new paths toward settling their dispute over the Northern Territories, which has delayed completion of the treaty for half a century. Their pledge at the Krasnoyarsk summit of November 1997, to do their utmost to conclude a treaty by the year 2000 benefits the United States and all who value regional security.

Likewise, Russia has enhanced its relations with South Korea, while its relationship with China has improved markedly. The 4000-mile shared border between Russia and China has historically been a military flashpoint. As a result of joint initiatives, today the border disputes have largely been resolved, military equipment has been drawn back, cross-border trade has increased and relationships focus more on development of resources than marshalling of forces. The United States welcomes these improved relations.

Interaction between the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) and Russian military forces has expanded rapidly in recent years from a few high-level exchange visits to substantive, routine and cooperative working-level meetings. USPACOM has also established a range of conferences, symposia and other fora on such issues as special operations, military medicine, search and rescue, criminal investigation and peacekeeping operations, to further strengthen our bilateral relationship in the region. These activities will continue to expand.

As an Asia-Pacific power with a substantial presence and relevance to the security of the region, Russiaís open and constructive participation in regional security affairs will remain in the U.S. national interest.




6.3 Continued Integration of Russia into Asia-Pacific Security Affairs

Russiaís involvement in Asia-Pacific affairs will expand in coming years as historical tensions ease, and bilateral and multilateral interaction is regularized. The United States welcomes and will continue to encourage such involvement as constructive to the general development of the region. Economically, further integration of Russia into regional security affairs will promote growth both by enhancing general stability and by enabling productive use of respective economic instruments and natural resources. Interaction between U.S. and Russian military forces in the Asia-Pacific region will also continue to expand. The United States envisions a future where U.S. and Russian forces work together with other nations in the region, for instance, to provide effective humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Likewise, a stable and involved Russia may contribute substantially to stemming weapons proliferation. The benefits of Russiaís constructive involvement in regional security affairs cannot be ignored as an important element in the strategic mix in Asia.