Past Event

Putin’s “Turn to the East” in the Xi Jinping Era with Gilbert F. Rozman, Gaye Christoffersen & James D.J. Brown

April 15, 2024
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
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While most attention has focused on Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, the big story of the past decade has been the reorientation of Russia from Europe to Asia. Centered on China but not limited to it, this abrupt shift made possible Putin’s anti-West behavior. In this book, Rozman, Christofferson, and several contributors present a comprehensive analysis of the turn “east.” Having penetrated the web of censorship in Russia (and China also) to grasp what is said about the actual state of Sino-Russian relations, the authors explain the duality of Russia’s ties to China: together against the US-led order but at odds over reconfiguring Asian regionalism. 

The overall message combines two contrasting conclusions: Russia has increasingly joined with China in challenging the existing order in Asia, working to forge what Moscow calls a Greater Eurasian Partnership; and Russia and China have played a cat-and-mouse game of rival strategies that, on all fronts, have been difficult to reconcile. Without grasping this story, it would be difficult to understand why Putin has invaded Ukraine and is threatening the West.

What makes this book exceptional?  First, it thoroughly covers four stages in Russian policy and seven directions ranging from Central Asia to the Sino-Russian border to the Korean Peninsula, Japan, India, Southeast Asia, and Mongolia. Second, this is a cohesive, cumulative account of what transpired, not a disparate, edited collection. Third, this book draws heavily on a record of more than 1000 Russian articles over a decade as well as familiarity with the publications from China, Japan, South Korea, and Mongolia. It tells a unique story of how both Sino-Russian relations and Russian thinking toward Asia have evolved, year-by-year through 2022.

This book tells of Russian plans to forge a new architecture across Asia, from North Korea to India, in constant tension with China’s Sinocentric agenda. 

Professor Rozman taught at Princeton from 1970 to 2013. Since that time, he has edited The Asan Forum, a bi-monthly, on-line journal on international relations in the Indo-Pacific. He also has edited annual volumes on foreign relations in this region for the Korea Economic Institute.

His undergraduate major was Chinese and Russian studies, and he began Japanese studies as a graduate student at Princeton and Korean studies too during two stints as a visiting professor at Korean universities. He takes an interdisciplinary view of Northeast Asia, writing about national identities, geopolitics, and economic regionalism. Every two months, he writes an overview of Japanese and Russian articles on the Indo-Pacific and sometimes he also writes the overview of Chinese articles, while he edits the overview of Korean articles. Since 2021, he has authored or edited three books in addition to Putin’s Turn to the East in the Xi Jinping Era: Democratization, National Identity and Foreign Policy in Asia; also Strategic Triangles Reshaping International Relations in East Asia, and South Korea’s Wild Ride: The Big Shifts in Foreign Policy from 2012 to 2022. In three stages he is now reviewing Xi Jinping’s Asian policy over a decade. Rozman lives in the Washington, DC area, where he has been actively participating in seminars at think tanks.

GAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN has taught at Johns Hopkins University, SAIS, Nanjing Center (2012-2021), the Naval Postgraduate School, the University of Hawaii, and Eastern Mediterranean University. She was the first Fulbright Professor at Far Eastern Federal University (1992-93) and was also a Fulbright Professor at Chinese Foreign Affairs University (1998-2000). She is the editor of Russia in the Indo-Pacific: New Approaches to Russian Foreign Policy (2022). She is an editorial board member of the Chinese Journal of Slavic Studies and Comparative Politics Russia, a journal of the Center of Comprehensive Chinese Studies and Regional Projects, Moscow State University of International Relations.

James D.J. Brown is a professor of International Affairs and Political Science at Temple University Japan Campus. His areas of expertise include: Russia-Japan relations, Russian foreign policy, Japanese foreign policy. As well as producing academic articles and monographs, Dr. Brown regularly writes op-eds, including for Nikkei Asia, The Japan Times, and The Diplomat. He also writes in Russian and Japanese, including for the Carnegie Moscow Center and Nikkei Business. He is also frequently quoted in the media, including by The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Yomiuri Shimbun, Hokkaido Shimbun, and the BBC.

This event is a hybrid with both in-person attendees and an online audience. It is sponsored by the China and the World Program and co-sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. To register for the online event please register here or If you are attending in-person, please go to 'INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS BUILDING AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY - 420 W. 118TH ST., NEW YORK, NY 10027 ROOM 918'