Policy Memos

Russia's Energy Security Dilemmas in Northeast Asia: Contending with the Different Faces of Resource Nationalism

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Northeast Asia is widely regarded as “ground zero” for global energy activity, with mounting demand and anxiety about over-reliance on vulnerable sea-lines from traditional but unstable Middle Eastern and African suppliers. Accordingly, emerging Chinese, Japanese, and Korean markets have become a conspicuous fixation for Russian suppliers, given their proximity for overland transit, changing geological bases of domestic production, and drive to diversify outlets to break the “co-dependency” on established European importers and post-Soviet transit states. For many observers, mutual and converging commercial energy interests among the world’s fastest growing supplier and customer regions constitute the basis for spurring development in the Russian Far East while bolstering integration within the Asia-Pacific region and transforming Russian-East Asian cooperation. Others, however, are not as sanguine, seeing in complementary supply-demand interests and the strengthening of interdependence a recipe for deeper Russian-East Asian engagement that has negative strategic consequences for Europe and the United States. Still others see the assertion of resource nationalism—marked by (re)statization of the energy sector, a resort to pipeline politics, and competition for equity oil stakes—as a harbinger for strategic rivalry across Eurasia and between Russia and the heavily import-dependent Northeast Asian states—and not to Moscow’s advantage. [...]

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About the author

Technology, and Policy, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs; Associate Director, Strategic Energy Institute
Georgia Tech