Russia’s Strategic Concerns in the Arctic and Its Impact on Japan–Russia Relations

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  • November 2014

    Russia places a high strategic priority on the Arctic from a security perspective, in view of the need to secure the Northern Sea Route as well as develop natural resources in the region. While large-scale snap military inspections were taking place in Russia’s Far East in July 2013, five Chinese navy vessels passed into the Sea of Okhotsk—the first such instance in history. As a result of this timing, some observers speculated that the snap inspections were aimed at preparing the Russian Pacific Fleet to discourage future incursions by the Chinese navy into the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding northern seas. Russia has been placing greater importance on cooperation with Japan in the security field as a means of maintaining a balance in its diplomatic relationship with China, leading to the ‘two-plus-two’ meeting of the foreign and defence ministers of both countries (dubbed the ‘Japan–Russia 2+2’), at which progress was achieved in expanding cooperation in the security sphere.