Home » Moscow’s great power dilemmas: The role of Asiatic Russia in Russia-China relations

Moscow’s great power dilemmas: The role of Asiatic Russia in Russia-China relations


Russia is one of the few countries to have a noun “velikoderzhavnost”— greatpowerness—to define its status and position in the world. This “greatpowerness” is a central element of Russia’s national identity and exerts huge influence in the country’s foreign policy making. Similarly, Asiatic Russia is a prime component defining and promoting Russia’s national identity and its quest for great power status as it conceives of itself as a great power straddling Europe and Asia. This paper looks at the way in which Asiatic Russia is conceptualised under Russia’s great power’s narrative. By the same token, it looks into specific issues of significance for Asiatic Russia, such as migration, demographics and economic development, and the way they have been both politicised and securitised. In this sense, the rise of China presents a major dilemma for Russia: on the one hand, Russia’s actual engagement with China substantiates its identity as a global power; on the other hand, at a regional level China embodies a potential menace to Russia’s greatpowerness. This article analyses relations between Russia and China, and attempts to describe the nexus between cooperation and the country’s claims to great power. It is argued that Russo-Chinese regional interactions are the barometer of the overall Russia- China relations. This paper attempts to connect three aspects—national identity, geographical settings and external strategy, to determine the place of Asiatic Russia in Russia’s contemporary relations with China in the context of Russia’s great power identity.



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