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Almost anon afterwards demography appointment in a arduous time of tensions with North Korea in 2017, President Moon Jae-in set out one of the best important objectives of accompaniment policy: adorning ties with Russia and deepening mutual bread-and-butter cooperation through alleged New Northern Policy. According to South Korean government’s 100 Action Tasks Five-Year Plan, the New Northern Policy, as able-bodied as the accompaniment New Southern Policy, is a allotment of the Northeast Asia Plus Community of Responsibility project, which aims to body a acceptable bounded arrangement of cooperation with ASEAN, the “middle power” alignment of MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and Argentina), India and Northeast Asian states.
In June, 2017, Moon accustomed the Presidential Committee on Northern Bread-and-butter Cooperation, and afresh appointed Song Young-gil (previously the appropriate agent to Russia and acclaimed for his addition to the development of Russian–South Korean relations, for which he was awarded the Russia’s Adjustment of Friendship) as a arch of the Committee in August. In his keynote accent at Eastern Bread-and-butter Forum in Vladivostok in September 2017, Moon broadened the abstraction of the New Northern Action with the “Nine Bridges” initiative, ambience up a cardinal of areas of cooperation amid the two countries (the “bridges” actuality a metaphorical). The absorbing affair about Nine Bridges is that it’s not alone a political acknowledgment but a absolutely audible bread-and-butter cooperation program, absorption on specific projects. In this attention it is abnormally accordant to appraisal the abundance of these projects, back they arise to be both a above colonnade for and affidavit of the activity of the Russian agent in accepted South Korean adopted policy.
One of the best advanced admonition of the action is the “gas bridge.” Although the accustomed gas barter is a acceptable acreage of cooperation amid two states, Russia is not amid the top gas exporters to South Korea. Seoul appropriately seeks to alter its gas acceptation channels by purchasing added LNG from Russia. The plan is to admission the food of Russian LNG, which are currently on the akin of 1.5 actor tonnes per year, according to a 2005 acceding amid KOGAS and Sakhalin Energy, operating aggregation of Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 gas development projects. Demography into annual the animosity amid KOGAS and Australia’s North West Shelf Gas, followed by an adjudication proceeding, South Korea may about-face to Russian LNG exporters. Buying LNG from Russian ally is assisting in acceding of breadth advantages; however, it is far from acceptable that Russia will prove able to army out its capital competitors in the Korean bazaar – Australia, Malaysia, and the United States.
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The added administration of the “gas bridge” is accompanying to the architecture of a gas activity from Russia to South Korea via the breadth of North Korea. This activity can be implemented through the affiliation of a trans-Korean gas activity (with a absolute breadth of 11,00 km) to the endpoint of the Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok gas manual system. The amount of activity laying would be about $2.5 billion, and Gazprom has afresh declared that such assignment could be done bound and easily, if it weren’t for political obstacles, namely the sanctions administration adjoin North Korea.
Another cogent “bridge” is a trilateral railroad project, by which is meant about-face of the Trans-Korean Railway and its affiliation to the Trans-Siberian Railway. This would crave huge investment, but the aboriginal accomplish are already actuality taken by South Korea, which is now actively administering analysis on North Korean railroads’ action and consulting with Russia (a Korail appointment in Moscow was opened at the end of 2018). But while the architecture of the railway appears to be a abiding project, Seoul has additionally a concise objective: to acknowledge the Rajin-Khasan acumen project. South Korea, which acclimated to be an broker and almsman of the account in this collective adventure until 2016, can now resume its accord in it. Back Rajin-Khasan is absolved from the UN sanctions list, it is alone a catechism of Seoul’s political will to do so.
South Korea is additionally absorbed in the addition of ports in Russia’s Amphibian Province, conspicuously the anchorage of Zarubino. South Korean companies are currently accommodating in the architecture of anchorage terminals in Slavyanka and Fokino, which is actual important for the development of Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 International Carriage Corridors. The amphibian segments of these ITCs are of key absorption to South Korea, and DBS Cruise Ferry carriage abettor conducted a burden transshipment in Zarubino as allotment of a analysis boating from Sakaiminato to Changchun alert in 2018. However, accustomed that South Korea is adverse a battle of absorption with China, which is additionally planning an basement advance in Zarubino, it can be said that Seoul has added affairs with attention to Slavyanka, for which the achievability abstraction agitated out by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries is accepted to be completed in 2019.
The aim of the abutting “bridge of cooperation” is the development of the Arctic Shipping Route in adjustment to actualize a new acumen aisle in the Arctic Ocean. Regrettably, one charge achieve that this doesn’t chronicle to the infrastructural development of ports in Arctic region; instead South Korea is emphasizing shipbuilding and address maintenance, which could additionally be attributed to the abstracted “shipbuilding bridge.” South Korea’s DSME shipbuilding aggregation has a arrangement for the architecture of 15 Arc7 ice-class gas tankers for the needs of Russia’s Yamal LNG gas processing project, and four of them are already alien and accommodate busline casework through Arctic Shipping Route.
In added respects, though, mutual shipbuilding cooperation faces a cardinal of problems. South Korean shipbuilders accept to bear arising antagonism from Russia’s Zvezda shipyard, which got a arrangement for the architecture of 15 tankers for Arctic LNG-2, addition Russian gas project. Accustomed the recession of the animate and shipbuilding industries in South Korea, cooperation amid Korean and Russian shipbuilders abide limited. For instance, in aboriginal December 2018 it was appear that Zvezda would buy some genitalia of an Aframax tanker’s bark produced by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries in adjustment to complete the architecture domestically. Zvezda isn’t yet accessible to body the tankers independently, but acclimation the absolute address is allegedly not a bigger advantage for Russia.
The acreage of activity cooperation refers to the “Asian Super Grid” abstraction of establishing an electrical ability manual arrangement in the Asia-Pacific. While introducing the Nine Bridges action in 2017, Moon accepted South Korea’s ambition to be chip into the Super Grid arrangement in Northeast Asia, which would affiliate the electricity networks of China, Mongolia, Russia, Japan, and both Koreas. The activity focuses on application renewable activity and its amount would be comprised of Mongolia’s wind and solar capacities and Russia’s hydropower. Back Moon has proclaimed a nuclear ability phase-out policy, South Korean accord in the Asian Super Grid or in Northeast Asian Super Grid will abide accordant for Seoul, and at the 2018 Eastern Bread-and-butter Forum, Russian Minister of Activity Alexander Novak already afresh bidding Moscow’s alertness to accumulation electricity to both Koreas
The fisheries industry is one added advanced acreage of cooperation. Initially, Korea Trading & Industries appear the plan to advance $130 actor in the architecture of a angle processing circuitous at Cape Nazimova in Vladivostok, which will accommodate a logistic center, angle port, alembic terminal, and angle bandage and backtalk meat processing plant. The South Korean aggregation begin a accomplice from the Russian side, but bounded authorities are afraid to admission permission to admeasure acreage for the complex. According to Acting Governor of Amphibian Province Andrey Tarasenko, Russia was accessible to accommodate an breadth in Rakushka Bay in Olginsky District, but the catechism still charcoal whether the South Korean aggregation is absorbed to accede to that. Addition botheration is the call to advancement the fishing fleet: Russia needs to body a ample cardinal of fishing vessels, and that is an added affair to be taken into application by both parties.
The plan for the “agricultural bridge” proposes the architecture of mineral fertilizer bulb in Kozmino, abutting to Nakhodka, which is accepted to be alien by 2022. The architecture amount is estimated at $6 billion, and the bulb will focus on the assembly of booze fertilizers. It was acclimatized that Hyundai accumulation will become capital broker for the project, and back the assembly costs are accepted to be low with 1.8 actor tonnes of fertilizer achievement per year, the activity will be assuredly benign for both sides.
And lastly, the affairs of Nine Bridges includes the architecture of the automated circuitous in Amphibian Province. This assignment is absolutely broadly formulated and abstract; it frequently refers to the abstraction of a Kaesong-like automated complex, which would absorb Russian land, North Korean labor, and South Korean investments. However, the affairs for such a affiliation are abundantly abstruse as continued as the sanctions adjoin North Korea – the capital barrier for trilateral projects – are still in effect.
Russia and South Korea accept absolutely developed a accepted ground, and mutual cooperation can absolutely be accepted to be fruitful. Even admitting Russia is hardly able to become South Korea’s key partner, it is about important for Seoul to drag ties with Russia in acceding of barter and adept diversification. But nevertheless, there are a agglomeration of problems that affect bread-and-butter cooperation, which accommodate both centralized and alien difficulties. The closing ones absorb abundant conflicts of absorption (emerging antagonism amid Rajin and ports in Amphibian Province, the trans-Korean gas activity activity and Russia’s LNG food to South Korea, shipbuilding industries in Russia and South Korea) and examples of bootless deals (the auction of Hyundai’s abandoned branch abreast Vladivostok, the DSME’s abandonment from an advance acceding with Zvezda shipyard). Beyond that, the botheration of sanctions still persists – not alone are sanctions adjoin North Korea affecting any anatomy of trilateral cooperation, but there are additionally the EU and U.S. sanctions imposed on Russian companies and businessmen, which accomplish South Korean investors afraid to accomplish deals with Russia.
Valentin Voloshchak is a teaching abettor at Far Eastern Federal University’s Department of International Relations.