Borders Inside and Outside Alliances: Russia’s Eastern Frontiers During the Cold War and After

Akihiro Iwashita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article examines the relationship between borders and alliances in Russian foreign policy. From the early 1990s, with the disintegration of the alliances and blocs of the Cold War, “national borders” reemerged and were either reactivated along the lines of pre-Soviet ones, or were created from the arbitrary lines of Soviet administrators. Yet, the remaking of alliances in recent years has shadowed these re-bordering processes. The enlargement of the EU and NATO in Europe, and the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union have created a new rivalry between alliances. This has resulted in a contradictory and complex geopolitical landscape, where the re-bordered space of the post-Cold War period is de-bordered under the new circumstances of these alliances. In the case of Asian borders, the situation seems different from European circumstances where East and West were divided by a “wall” that divided a continent and overlay national borders. In Asia, national borders became more naturalized through the so-called hub and spoke of alliance making centered on US bilateral security arrangements. This article turns to the Russo-Chinese and Russo-Japanese cases, and traces the emergence of a kind of European-Asian hybrid model of the relationship between borders and alliances. It examines the correlation between (b)order making and alliances through an analysis of the dynamics affecting Russia’s eastern borders vis-à-vis China and Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-70
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Borderlands Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law

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