Conflicts & War

‘Putin will do anything not to lose war’, Japanese defense expert warns

Madrid, Dec 4 (EFE).- The conflict in Ukraine, its implications in East Asia with Russia’s support for China and North Korea and rising tensions between authoritarian and democratic regimes are the main concerns for Japanese security policy expert, Harukata Takenaka, who fears that Russia will do “anything in its power” to win the war.

In an interview in Madrid with Efe, the professor, who is attending the 23rd Spain-Japan Forum on geopolitics, security and collaboration between the two countries, reveals that he is “very scared” about the future of the conflict in Ukraine, because he is convinced that Russian president Vladimir Putin “will do anything not to lose the war in Ukraine”, as defeat would represent a definitive blow to his regime.

Takenaka, who served in the Japanese government cabinet between 1993 and 1995, fears that Russia’s next move will be to “mobilize more people and send them to the front” as a preliminary step before a total mobilization, which is likely to provoke domestic discontent and further increase tensions.

“I think what motivates Putin is the spread of democratization. If Russia loses (the war), that will show people in neighboring countries such as Belarus or Kazakhstan – where we have already observed a significant degree of anti-government movement – that Russia is not as powerful as people thought,” Takenaka notes.

The professor, who currently works at the National Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, reveals, however, that what worries Japan most is “the closer relationship between Russia and China. And I think it’s not just our issue, it concerns every country in the world. I think we are now entering (…) an era of authoritarian regimes confronting democratic countries,” he says.

In October, Chinese president Xi Jinping asked Putin for “joint efforts” to “safeguard international justice”, while praising the state of their relations with “close and effective strategic coordination and bilateral trade at historic highs”.

Takenaka frames the clash as one of rising tensions between democratic “Europe, Japan, the United States, Canada and Australia on one side and authoritarian countries on the other side. Of course we have the so-called global South such as Indonesia, India or Singapore or (…) those countries which do not want to take sides.”

Russia also held meetings in September with North Korea, after Kim Jong-un traveled to eastern Russia accompanied by the defense and foreign ministers, as well as senior military officials.

Although such a move normally generates concern across East Asia, Takenaka insisted that the threat from Pyongyang was less of a concern.

“About North Korea we are concerned with retaliation capabilities, not the attacking capabilities (…) their purpose is more defensive (…) they want to defend their regime with their missiles,” he says.

“They are not stupid,” Takenaka adds, dismissing prospects that Pyongyang could launch an attack on Japan or the US.

More concerning is China, he insists, in particular the “situation in East Asia and the Taiwan issue.”

Despite the fact that Russia has sought the help of its allies in Asia, including North Korea and China, he rules out a spread of the conflict:

“I don’t think any second war with Russia will happen (…) or increasing tensions in the eastern part of Siberia. This would be a wise decision for the Russians because they want to concentrate the political capital and military forces on Ukraine.” EFE

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