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Archives [ April, 2015 – March, 2019 ]

Russia in the New Global Balance of Power

Original Broadcast Date:
March 11, 2017 (UTC)

Three years ago, Russia annexed Crimea in Ukraine, prompting condemnation from the international community. Economic sanctions by the European Union have severely hampered Russia's economy. Meanwhile, the future of a post-Brexit EU, and the election of US President Donald Trump, cast doubt on the established order of Western supremacy. Can Russia emerge from this transitional period and reestablish itself as a bona fide superpower? What influence is the nation likely to exert in the years ahead? These are some of the issues addressed in this edition of GLOBAL AGENDA.

Our panel was moderated by Jun Takao, head of NHK's International News Division. It included prominent experts on Russian affairs from around the world.

  • Alexander Panov was Russia's ambassador to Japan from 1996 to 2003.
  • Professor Angela Stent of Georgetown University advised former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush on Eastern European and Russian policy in her former role at the US State Department.
  • Professor Feng Shaolei of East China Normal University is a leading researcher in the area of Russian politics.
  • Professor Nobuo Shimotomai of Hosei University in Tokyo has conducted extensive research into Russian politics and Cold War issues.

The panel began by considering how US-Russia relations are likely to develop under President Trump, who––unlike his predecessor Barack Obama––holds Russian President Vladimir Putin in high regard. Our panelists agreed that the future will be difficult to predict, but normalizing relations is a vital step toward addressing issues facing the entire global community, including terrorism, the crisis in Syria, and nuclear proliferation.

Russia's relationship with Europe has soured in recent years due to actions such as the annexation of Crimea. Ambassador Panov said these measures were intended simply to secure Russia's borders against encroachments by NATO. But Prof. Stent expressed skepticism about the extent of the NATO threat.

Our panel also discussed possible parallels with US foreign policy under Obama. Prof. Shimotomai described a "sea change" in global politics, with Putin apparently pivoting away from Europe, toward the East and the developing economies of Asia. China, Japan, and South Korea have become key importers of Russian fuel, while strategic ties with China have also strengthened in what Prof. Feng described as a relationship with great opportunity for future cooperation.

The panel also discussed the North Korean nuclear issue, and the stalled six-party talks. Ambassador Panov described them as a "dead body," while Prof. Feng still held out hope that negotiation offers the best approach to a peaceful resolution.

Finally, our panelists assessed President Putin's governing style and its impact on future developments. Ambassador Panov reasserted his belief that Russia is more concerned with domestic stability than global influence, while Prof. Stent raised the idea of a "post-Western" future with a tri-polar balance of power between the USA, China and Russia, possibly guided by the Russian government's vision of a "new Yalta".


Angela Stent

Professor, Georgetown University

Alexander Panov

Former Russian Ambassador to Japan

Feng Shaolei

Professor, East China Normal University

Nobuo Shimotomai

Professor, Hosei University


Jun Takao

Head of International News Division, NHK