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Russia Is a Strategic Spoiler in the Indo-Pacific

Russia Is a Strategic Spoiler in the Indo-Pacific
As Beijing and Washington vie for supremacy, Moscow still has formidable influence.

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In recent months, Russia has demonstrated its continued influence in the Indo-Pacific region, despite much of its foreign policy focus being on the Middle East, Africa, and the conquest of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been actively shoring up key strategic partnerships in the region, including visits to China, North Korea, and Vietnam. The recent meeting between Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been deemed a "devastating blow to peace efforts" by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Russia's influence in the Indo-Pacific, while smaller than that of China and the United States, has been demonstrated through its strategic partnerships and the absence of many Southeast Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Island countries from the Ukraine peace summit. Russia's role in the region cannot be ignored, as it continues to leverage the Indo-Pacific as a useful distraction and complicating factor for Washington and its partners.

The recent flourishing of North Korea-Russia ties, as well as Russia's strategic partnership with China, has further solidified its influence in the region. While Russia's influence is not at the level of China's or the United States', it is enough to promote its anti-Western interests and disrupt the regional order. As the great powers try to align their respective supporters, many Indo-Pacific countries seem to be taking their cues from the Non-Aligned Movement that emerged during the Cold War.

While the threat of a Russian military intervention in the Indo-Pacific is improbable for now, Russia's interference is part of the emerging multipolar order. As long as Russian interference does not fundamentally challenge the United States' own Indo-Pacific strategy, it is just part and parcel of the evolving geopolitical landscape.