Originally Posted by Flylooper
I think there could be problems with the Chinese as that country flexes its muscles in the years to come. Much of the Russian Far East was taken from a weakened China in the past and I look for the Chinese to make claims on some of it. And it also may be another reason Putin pushed through the BAM.
The relations between the Euro-Russians and the people of the Far East, beginning with the Mongols (I suppose) goes way back in time.
Absolutely, like I said earlier in the thread, China is the only realistic external threat to the territorial integrity of the country. (Thus the sole rationale for the BAM)
Internally, Russia has done a pretty good job of cultivating a sense of nationalism, usually through total integration and a resulting low level of racism between "Russians" and the Asian citizens of Russia. It's one positive legacy of the socialist past. (Note this lack of racism towards native Siberians is not necessarily echoed in attitudes toward people of African origin)
And other Asian Russian nationalities all seem to identify totally with being Russian.
I also noted in Mongolia, that despite being totally under the Soviet sphere of influence for 70 years, the Mongolians (in contrast with the eastern europeans) have no negative beef with Russians. The Mongolians you see, are very wary of the Chinese. The Soviets could easily have absorbed Mongolia during the cold war, but they didn't. The Mongolians don't feel the Chinese would be that generous. The Chinese got a hold of Outer Mongolia several hundred years ago and have absorbed it into China, populating the province of 4 million Mongols with 20 million ethnic Chinese. So because of those contrasting histories, the Mongolians are much more comfortable putting their faith in the Russians when it comes to the destiny of the remainder of Mongolia.
While I was Mongolia this year, there was a big celebration (70th anniversary) of the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, in which the Soviet Union came to defend Mongolia again a Japanese incursion from occupied Manchuria. The victor at Khalkhin Gol was none other than Georgy Zhukov, the man who arguably more than any other was later responsible for the defeat of the Germans in WWII (The Battle of Khalkhin Gol was actually taking place at the same time as the German invasion of Poland). Zhukov is to this day revered in Mongolia, and I managed to pick up a Mongolian Zhukov medal (vintage 1996) at a market there. Here is a picture of Russian President Medvedev in Mongolia for the anniversary celebrations, with his Mongolian counterpart at a ceremony commemorating both the battle and the ongoing co-operation between the Russians and the Mongols (overlooked by a statue of said Marshal Zhukov).
I think the strategic concern of all the countries in North Asia, from Russia, to Mongolia to Japan and Korea, is China. Russia (like the other countries) is very much aware that it needs to play a balancing game between the significant economic co-operation between Russia and China (Russia supplies large amounts of energy and raw materials to China) and the medium to longer term strategic interests of the country, which obviously will be to protect the resources of Siberia. The Russia - China relationship is a complex one. China is a sometimes seen as an ally of Russia, but in my opinion its more of a rival.
Russia recently gave a disputed island near Khabarovsk that had been occupied by Russia to China (and was the scene of many border skirmish in the Mao - Brezhnev days), to much positive sentiment in China. In the shorter term this was to boost good will and economic co-operation, but I am sure in the longer term, there is also the thought that getting rid of any border disputes, gives the Chinese no "excuse" for anything else. The China - Russian border is now fixed and not subject to any disputes, for the first time in centuries.