Russia Needs South Korean Money; Won’t Assist China in Imposing Economic Sanctions on Seoul over THAAD
Cash-strapped Russia will have to temper its criticism of South Korea's decision to deploy THAAD on account of Moscow's need for multi-billion dollar South Korean investments.
Moscow of late has been publicly leaning hard on Seoul in an attempt to persuade the South Koreans to change their mind in deploying the U.S.-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system as protection against North Korean ballistic missiles. The first THAAD battery will be deployed in May with a second by 2018.
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Analysts said this show of strength is merely an effort to please China since Moscow has more need of South Korean money to boost the economic development of the impoverished Russian Far East than Chinese approval. Russia has limited funds for developing this remote region.
The Russian Far East refers to the extreme east parts of Russia between Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean. It has an area of 6.2 million square kilometers, or over one-third of Russia's total area, and is infamous for its bitter cold and barren landscape.
Despite its mammoth extent, the region has a population of only six million persons, which is half of Moscow's population.
One reason why Russia can't condemn Seoul as much as Beijing can is because Russia wants to wean itself from its far too large economic reliance on China, which increased when the west imposed punishing sanctions on Russia in 2014 for Russia's annexation of Crimea and its invasion of eastern Ukraine.
That economic reliance on China, however, hasn't been the fillip Russia expected. Trade between both countries plunged in 2015.
The volume of Chinese exports to Russia fell 34.4 percent to $32.9 billion. Total trade between China and Russia plummeted by 27.8 percent to $64.2 billion.
The volume of Russia's exports to China was slashed by 19.1 percent to $31.4 billion.
Chinese economic experts predict the trade picture in 2016 to be as bad or worse than 2015. They believe the future of Russian-Chinese trade will depend on the economic environment in the two countries and on the world situation in general.
With things not going in its favor in trade with China, Russia has to turn to South Korea to save the day - and that won't happen if it angers Seoul to please Beijing.