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I wrote why giving away the Kurils (even just two of the islands) to Japan in exchange for fuzzy and unenforceable investment commitments is a really bad idea back in 2010 and I see no cause to change any of that.

One big problem, then as now, is that ordinary Russians are against it.

Fourth, the vast majority of Russians prefer keeping their country whole. According to the latest poll in 2009, some 82% of Russians were opposed to giving back the Kurils to Japan, while only 8% were in favor (views are even more unambiguous in the Russian Far East where only 4% supported the giveaway in 2005). Vadim Nikitin respects democracy, right? But it gets even better. It turns out that he isn’t the majority even amongst the Russian liberals he presumably identifies with. Some 57% of (liberal) SPS/Yabloko voters said that their attitudes to Medvedev would change for the worse if he gives away the Kurils, barely distinguishable from the all Russian average of 63%.

The latest poll, conducted at the end of December 2018, basically shows the same thing: 77% against, only 9% for.

It’s also intriguing to look at who exactly supports the transfer. First, it is young people: 14% support it, versus 6-8% of over 30’s. This perhaps reflects the naive cosmopolitanism and (as commenter Dmitry endlessly points out) Japanophilia of the younger set. The rich, people without an income (i.e., mostly students), and Moscow are all relatively more supportive of handing over the Kurils. But even they are still in a decided minority.

However, there is also an interesting regional pattern. As in the that old poll, the people most against the transfer are in the Far Eastern Federal District, i.e. the ones who would stand to benefit most from any post-Kurils Japanese investments into Russia (theoretically, anyway; as I said, I’m extremely skeptical). However, the region most in favor is the North Caucasus Federal District, where a stunning 18% support the transfer. The population of DICh constitutes half of this region, while Russians account for 30%. I sort of doubt that either liberal cosmopolitanism or Japonophilia has made many inroads into Kadyrov’s demesne.

This would however sync well with the “map of Russian patriotism” (where Chechnya and Ingushetia are dead last, and Dagestan not far behind) and my musings that (adjusting for electoral fraud) Chechnya is the most oppositionist region.

So, giving away the Kurils – the young won’t care as much – only 25% say their opinion of Putin would fall on account of that, versus 45% for the over 30s. But the young are not exactly all that hot for Putin anyway). Conversely, it would be the more patriotic Russian elements – the bedrock of Putin’s support post-Crimea – who’d be most against the transfer. As well as the nationalists, of course. Considering that Putin has also recently lost a lot of supporters amongst leftists and the middle-aged due to pensions reform, I just don’t see him risking going through with that.

 
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  1. Serrice says: • Website

    No matter what Japan promises investment-wise it just sets a terrible precedent. Giving away bits of your country is a bad idea, though I believe Russia and China exchanged river islands at some point.

    The only scenario in which I’d even consider a transfer of the Kuril’s is if Japan offered to buy them in cold hard cash. Maybe for $100 billion. The Nips don’t really care about the Kurils.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @Mr. XYZ
  2. utu says:
    @Serrice

    Giving away bits of your country

    This is not their country. USSR behaved like a hyena at the end of the WWII over there when Japan was already defeated. Japan did not attack the USSR.

  3. Daniel.I says:

    I was gonna ask “since when is the Kurils part of Russia ?”, but then I remembered.

    If a Russian as much as gazes in a particular direction, the land he’s looking at instantly joins The Traditional Lands of the Rus.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    , @utu
    , @Mr. XYZ
  4. Adam says:
    @utu

    Japan was allied to a country that launched a genocidal invasion of the Soviet Union. The Soviets were forced to keep a substantial garrison in the east to guard against a Japanese invasion, something which no doubt caused a substantial number of excess Soviet military and civilian causalities in the west. Dominance of the Russian Far East was a major goal of the Japanese Empire, and there were several major border conflicts as a result.

    Regardless of history, the islands are a part of Russia now and that’s all that really matters. Japan is basically a US puppet, and there’s no good reason for Russia to relinquish a strategically important region to a semi-hostile state for no immediate benefits.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  5. @utu

    So according to utu…

    1. The USSR should not have attacked peaceful Japan, which had never seized Russian territories in the past, which had not attacked Soviet forces as recently as 1939, which was not occupying foreign lands itself (with a brutality comparable to the Nazi occupation in Eastern Europe), and which it was not agreement-bound to attack within 3 months of the end of the war in Europe.

    2. Russia should however nuke Israel because [reasons] as he always “argues” on the Syria threads.

    PS. There is also the minor but quite important point that Russians couldn’t care less about what you think or want, and consider the Kurils Russian – which is, in fact, what this post was about.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @Mr. XYZ
  6. @Daniel.I

    Well, nobody is stopping you from annexing Moldova, if the loss of eurogibs is a price you are willing to pay for assuaging your East European butthurt.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
    , @Daniel.I
  7. iffen says:

    The good guys gave Okinawa back,

    and the Panama Canal Zone,

    and the … 🙂

    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @Maximoose
  8. @iffen

    Those were never US territory though, you’d have to compare it to Guam or other Pacific territories of the US.
    Don’t know why the Kurils are supposed to be an important issue though, few people live there, is there anything valuable about them?

  9. Maximoose says:
    @iffen

    And the Hawaii, you meant to say. Oh wait…

    • Replies: @iffen
  10. @German_reader

    20,000 people on the four islands is not completely insignificant, and in general, people don’t like giving away chunks of their country’s territory. Especially when they are inhabited by their own people (ergo, Caucasians care less about that, since Russians are not their people) and there wasn’t any kind of international arbitration process around the issue.

    They also control the entrance into the Sea of Okhotsk.

    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @Gerard2
  11. utu says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Helping the allies to defeat Japan even though it was no longer necessary is one thing. Annexing a part of Japan’s territory is another.

    “Russians couldn’t care less about what you think” – One does not expect hyenas to be bothered by what is written about them in the books.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  12. @Anatoly Karlin

    I didn’t write that Russia should give them away, tbh I don’t care about the issue, I just wondered what’s supposed to be valuable about those islands.
    Is it a big deal for Japanese nationalists?

    • Replies: @utu
    , @melanf
    , @Paw
  13. DFH says:

    I support the right of every nation to keep their strategically valuable rocks taken after wars

  14. DFH says:
    @utu

    Yet another terrifying threat from the ex-KGB head of the authoritarian Kremlin régime. As if his obsession with the facist imperialist Dugin wasn’t enough…….

  15. Mitleser says:
    @utu

    I would have supported this argument if Japan had not taken southern Sakhalin a few decades after they had recognized it as Russian.
    But if Tokyo is okay with might makes right when to comes to Russian frontier territory, why shouldn’t Tokyo get a taste of that and lose some Japanese frontier territory?

    They lost Ryukyu islands too, and only got them back after turning into a reliable client state.

    • Replies: @utu
  16. iffen says:
    @Maximoose

    Who should we give Hawaii back to?

  17. iffen says:
    @German_reader

    Don’t know why the Kurils are supposed to be an important issue though, few people live there, is there anything valuable about them?

    If you consider yourself weak, you are afraid to give up disputed territory. If you know that you are the biggest bad-ass in town you can be magnanimous.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  18. utu says:
    @Mitleser

    “might makes right” – That Russia is considering returning the islands to Japan indicates that the might is not as mighty as it once was.

  19. @utu

    That Russia is considering returning the islands to Japan

    Is there any evidence that it’s seriously being considered? Official view still is that it’s out of the question, and AK’s arguments seem convincing that it would be a stupid idea from Russia’s/Putin’s point of view.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  20. songbird says:

    The perception of common people is politicians will sell national assets at fire sale prices, if allowed. I have no reason to doubt that this perception is correct. That is why, for instance, it is dangerous to donate land to local governments.

  21. Anonymous[161] • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t expect Russians to give up the Kurils for strategic reasons, but Russia has no valid claims to the Islands at all.

    The islands were first settled by Japan and had 17,000 Japanese living on them. The Russians invaded, seized the islands, and kicked out the inhabitants. This is flat out theft.

    The pro argument for giving up the islands is that the West is very good at using wedge issues like this as a way to pressure countries it wants to punish. They will use the Kurils to keep Japan in line in the anti-Russia team and it could cost Russia more valuable territory elsewhere.

    That’s a dangerous gambit to play as Japan may fall into the anti-Russia camp anyway. But it is far more complicated than people here think.

  22. Anonymous[273] • Disclaimer says:
    @iffen

    To Hawaaians

    • Replies: @songbird
    , @Colin Wright
  23. songbird says:
    @Anonymous

    Aren’t they are minority by now? What do you do with all the race-mixed people?

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  24. Adam says:
    @Anonymous

    The reason is that Japan lost a war. Where do you think this mystical ‘right’ to land comes from? God?

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  25. songbird says:
    @utu

    Japan got off rather lightly for all the chaos it caused – at least in terms of territorial loss. You can even look at it today compared to Germany. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Japan, and I don’t see why it needs any.

    Japan unleashed the US on the world. They destabilized virtually the whole of East Asia. They committed countless appalling crimes. They played the race card when they were Nordics, trying to encourage others to hatred of whites.

    Do you think they would have given back the Aleutians?

  26. Mitleser says:
    @Anonymous

    The islands were first settled by Ainu, the Japanese arrived much later.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  27. @utu

    Predictably clueless.

    The Joint Declaration did not settle the Kuril Islands territorial dispute between Japan and the Soviet Union, whose resolution was postponed until the conclusion of a permanent peace treaty. However, Article 9 of the Joint Declaration stated: “The U.S.S.R. and Japan have agreed to continue, after the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between them, negotiations for the conclusion of a peace treaty. Hereby, the U.S.S.R., in response to the desires of Japan and taking into consideration the interest of the Japanese state, agrees to hand over to Japan the Habomai and the Shikotan Islands, provided that the actual changing over to Japan of these islands will be carried out after the conclusion of a peace treaty”.
    At the time, the United States threatened to keep Okinawa if Japan gave away the other islands, preventing the negotiation of the promised treaty.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  28. Anonymous[161] • Disclaimer says:
    @Adam

    Point being that it sets a bad precedent. You shouldn’t lose your territory because you lost a war. Right now the west is chomping at the bit to cleave Russia into many different countries or to grant Russian territory to other nations.

    Do you really want to see Russia carved up because they experience another Yeltsin and lose a war?

    Do you want to see America lose California to China because of American poor leadership?

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
    , @reiner Tor
    , @neutral
  29. Anonymous[161] • Disclaimer says:
    @Mitleser

    You might be able to say that the islands belong to the Ainu, but you can’t say they belong to Russia.

    Only the Ainu and Japan have any claim to those islands. Not Russians.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  30. Tulips says:

    Some solutions outside the box. 1) Joint Russian and Japanese settlement as Norway and Russia do on de-militarized Svalbard Island. 2) Give the 4 islands to the UN as an unihabited, off-limits nature and marine preserve. 3) Give them back to the Ainu who lived there long before Japanese or Russians. Commenters to this essay seem not to know much history. Go read the Wikipedia entry. There is also not much discussion of Japan denying itself Siberian resources (energy, minerals, lumber) because Kuril exiles have considerable poltical power in Japan, like Cuban exiles in the USA.

    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @Mr. XYZ
  31. @Tulips

    because Kuril exiles have considerable poltical power in Japan

    According to the Wikipedia article you recommended the civilian Japanese population expelled in 1946 was just 17 000.
    It doesn’t seem very likely that such a small population and its descendants can have much influence by itself on Japanese policy today.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  32. @Anonymous

    ‘To Hawaaians’

    What about the ninety percent of the population that isn’t Hawaiian? Should the Japanese, whites, Chinese, Filipinos, ‘Portuguese’, and all the mixtures thereof be expelled?

    Moreover, most remaining ‘Hawaiians’ are usually crossbreeds of some sort themselves. Should those be expelled as well? What degree of racial purity would you propose?

    • Replies: @simon
    , @Mr. XYZ
    , @Anonymous
  33. simon says:

    I don’t think there was ever a risk that Russian authorities would consider giving up territories to Japan. It is in the exact same situation as that of EU, where it cannot act without permission from Master. Merkel, Sarkozy, and Abe did their jobs and reduced their countries’ tangible clout to nil.

  34. simon says:
    @Colin Wright

    Yes, colonialists should all go home.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  35. Sean says:

    Why does Japan think the islands are worth it though?

  36. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Serrice

    Once Russia is willing to give away parts of its territory to China, one can raise the question–why not to Japan as well?

    Is it because Japan has ten times less people than China has and is thus much less important for Russia?

    • Replies: @melanf
  37. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Sean

    These islands were historically Japanese.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  38. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    The U.S. really did behave noxiously in regards to this back then.

    • Replies: @iffen
  39. Mr. XYZ says:
    @German_reader

    How many Russians live on these islands right now?

  40. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Anonymous

    Do you want to see America lose California to China because of American poor leadership?

    Are there going to be enough Chinese people who will want to move to California, though? I mean, if China wants California as its Lebensraum, it better have enough willing settlers to actually settle California.

  41. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Tulips

    Option #4: Give these islands to either South Korea or China.

  42. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    If Romania actually annexes Moldova, what happens to Transnistria?

    • Replies: @Romanian
  43. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Colin Wright

    How about anyone who is capable of doing the hula dance gets to stay in Hawaii?

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  44. Mr. XYZ says:
    @German_reader

    Putin apparently said back in 2006 that the 1956 Soviet offer to give up two of these islands (the much less populous ones, I think) is still valid, though.

  45. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Was southern Sakhalin’s population Russian-majority when Japan seized it in 1905?

  46. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Daniel.I

    If anything, I’d sure that Russia was too mild in its territorial conquests. It should have conquered Ottoman Armenia during the Hamidian Massacres in the mid-1890s as well as entered the Sino-French War in the 1880s in order to conquer Mongolia and Xinjiang. Also, if there would have been an opportunity, Russia should have conquered Iran’s/Persia’s Caspian Sea coastline as well.

    • Replies: @Pontius
  47. Mr. XYZ says:
    @iffen

    To Lilo and Stitch, of course.

  48. Mr. XYZ says:
    @utu

    Did the Western Allies agree to let the Soviet Union annex the southern four Kuril Islands?

  49. Mr. XYZ says:
    @utu

    Considering that Japan previously annexed Korea and Taiwan and also forcibly separated Manchuria from China, though, I really don’t think that Japan has much to complain about.

    Japan should be grateful that Hokkaido didn’t become a Soviet satellite state for almost half a century like East Germany did.

  50. Mr. XYZ says:
    @utu

    Just before his comment about Russia’s border, President Putin asked five-year-old Timofey Tsoi to name the country whose capital is Ouagadougou.

    Timofey Tsoi. Is he a Sakhalin Korean?

  51. @Sean

    Why does Japan think the islands are worth it though?

    Although it would allow them access to the Sea of Okhotsk and there may discovered resources in the water at some point in the undetermined future, I think it is primarily a matter of pride at this point in time for the Japanese side.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  52. Mr. XYZ says:
    @utu

    I strongly doubt that Russia would ever agree to give up more than the two least populous Kuril Islands.

  53. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Hyperborean

    The samurai strongly values honor, no?

    • Replies: @Hyperborean
  54. @Mr. XYZ

    It is a way to show that they are a ‘normal’ country again.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  55. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Hyperborean

    How exactly would it do that?

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @Hyperborean
  56. Pontius says:
    @Mr. XYZ

    After what the Russians endured in WWII, it’s amazing there is a Germany, or Germans, left at all.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  57. Sean says:
    @Mr. XYZ

    They could start paying for their own defence instead of sponging off of America. I think the Japs want in on the exploitation of Siberia and a deal over the Islands will clear the way for the real agreements with the populace of Japan. Its a way in, a loss leader.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  58. melanf says:
    @German_reader

    I didn’t write that Russia should give them away, tbh I don’t care about the issue, I just wondered what’s supposed to be valuable about those islands.

    arguments in Russian media:

    The ocean around The southern Kuril Islands is fabulously rich in fish and seafood-salmon, Pollock, cod, saury, anchovy, perch, flounder, pelagic squid, octopus, sea urchin, king crab
    The shelf adjacent to the island contains huge reserves of oil and gas, the production of which is quite real and profitable even with the current state of technology.
    Тhe military aspect of the possible transfer of the Islands is much more important…. between Kunashir and Iturup is the only deep-water ice-free Strait between the Islands of the Kuril ridge. The loss of at least one of these two Islands blocks the Pacific fleet in the bases, that is, Russia will lose free access from the sea of Okhotsk to the Pacific ocean
    .”

    • Replies: @melanf
  59. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Pontius

    Short of genociding the Germans en masse, the Soviets stripped Germany of as much territory as they reasonably could.

    • Agree: reiner Tor
    • Disagree: RadicalCenter
  60. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Sean

    Agreed that Japan should begin paying for its own defense. After all, it’s wealthy enough to do this.

  61. melanf says:
    @Mr. XYZ

    Once Russia is willing to give away parts of its territory to China

    A myth. The border was demarcated along the Amur river (previously the border was not demarcated).

  62. melanf says:
    @melanf

    I can add another obvious argument-the Islands in the future will bring money through tourism:

  63. @utu

    There is something to what you write, but let’s not pretend that Japan was a very good guy in all that, and also let’s not pretend that it’s some ancient Japanese land. It’s native inhabitants are the Ainu, while the Japanese only took possession of it in the Edo period. They haven’t ruled it for 74 years now. They will survive the loss.

  64. The Kuril Islands are right smack dab in the path of the ever-increasing circum-Pacific Fukushima Effluent Stream. Making their many fishes and other sea=life less than appetizing. If I had a vote, I’d say, dump ’em.

    • Agree: byrresheim
  65. @iffen

    So, did the US give up any piece of its territory? I don’t think so. It didn’t even allow secession of its own member states.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
    , @iffen
  66. @Anonymous

    it sets a bad precedent. You shouldn’t lose your territory because you lost a war.

    That precedent has already been set a few million years ago. Chimpanzee bands lose territory all the time after losing wars to another chimp band. Japan lost the Kurils (with a few inconsequential villages) in 1945. The same time Germany lost huge provinces with huge cities and important industries built over centuries, which had belonged to Germany for much longer.

    More recently, Syria lost the Golan in 1967, and while it’s not recognized internationally, no one gives a rat’s ass.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  67. @Mr. XYZ

    For 300 years. Hungary has much better 1000 year old claims, some of which still have an ethnic Hungarian majority. So?

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
    , @Mr. XYZ
  68. Mr. XYZ says:
    @reiner Tor

    TBH, it might not be a bad idea for Hungary to reacquire some Hungarian-majority border areas if it can do so peacefully–which I certainly doubt.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @Romanian
  69. Mr. XYZ says:
    @reiner Tor

    TBH, it might not be a bad idea for Hungary to reacquire some Hungarian-majority border areas if it can do so peacefully–which I certainly doubt.

  70. Mr. XYZ says:
    @reiner Tor

    I’d oppose Southern secession in 1861 as well due to the slavery issue.

  71. Mr. XYZ says:
    @reiner Tor

    Silesia was the only industrialized territory that Germany lost in 1945, correct? The rest were primarily agricultural, correct?

    As for the Golan Heights, Israel needs them for its living space.

    • Replies: @Hyperborean
    , @Mitleser
  72. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @Colin Wright

    Well, I don’t see people in the West using that same argument for Tibet.

    Much of Tibet is Han Chinese. Yet white people in the west are always bitching about Tibetan rights and would like nothing more than to purify Tibet of Hans.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
    , @Colin Wright
  73. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Anonymous

    Tibet is something like 90+% Tibetan, no?

    • Agree: AquariusAnon
  74. @Mr. XYZ

    It’s impossible, even in principle, so why should it be possible for Japan? I don’t even understand under what principle they should have a right to it.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  75. @Mr. XYZ

    How exactly would it do that?

    By achieving a diplomatic victory. There is a lot of symbolic prestige sunk into it. Even if it seems odd recall that Argentina and Britain were willing to fight over the insignificant Falklands.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
    , @RadicalCenter
  76. @Mr. XYZ

    As for the Golan Heights, Israel needs them for its living space.

    Although the growing population may make it appealing for Israelis to settle it en masse in the future, I believe its current importance lies in its military value, overlooking both Northern Israel and Southern Syria.

  77. @Anonymous

    The islands were first settled by Japan

    No. If we ignore the Ainu, the islands were first discovered and settled by Russians, sailing south from Kamchatka.

    • Replies: @melanf
  78. melanf says:
    @anonymous coward

    the islands were first discovered and settled by Russians, sailing south from Kamchatka.

    Northern Kuriles – Yes.
    But apparently the Japanese explored southern Kurils before the Russians.

  79. @simon

    ‘Yes, colonialists should all go home.’

    Ah. Well, in that case, it’s relevant that what we consider to be the ‘native’ Hawaiians were actually the second group to arrive in the islands. Settlers from The Marquesas had arrived there a century or two earlier.

    Our Hawaiians exterminated them. So they have to leave as well.

    The islands are to be left entirely unpopulated. All better now?

    • LOL: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
    , @simon123
  80. @Mr. XYZ

    ‘How about anyone who is capable of doing the hula dance gets to stay in Hawaii?’

    That strikes me as distinctly ageist and probably a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act to boot.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  81. Mr. XYZ says:
    @reiner Tor

    I don’t think that Japan must have a right to these islands. Still, it might be in bad taste for Russia to refuse to return the two smaller islands given that Putin has apparently previously (in 2006) said that this offer is still on the table.

  82. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Colin Wright

    Old people can’t do the hula dance?

  83. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Colin Wright

    So, basically, in the long(er)-run, Hawaii is an unpopulated territory which China can settle?

  84. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Hyperborean

    OK.

    Also, the Argentines were morons to invade the Falklands. That ensured that Britain won’t give them up for at least the next 100 years.

  85. Daniel.I says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    If you’d turn on your brain for a change, you’d understand this isn’t about “East European butthurt”.

    What I’m trying to say is that this sort of “might makes right, watcha gonna do about it” can just as easily be deployed against you.

    Have you forgotten the post-Soviet decade ?
    Do you think Russia won’t ever have moments of weakness in the future ?

    This sort of antagonistic posture seems to me rather pointless.

    Also, annexing Moldova would be a VERY bad move. And eurogibs, in the long run, do more harm than good.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  86. @Daniel.I

    For some reason, I doubt that any country that somehow manages to figure out how to neutralize Russia’s nuclear deterrent and pursues designs on its territory will be swayed one way or the other by the details of Russia’s Kurils policy.

    • Agree: reiner Tor, Mr. XYZ
    • Replies: @Daniel.I
    , @Anonymous
  87. neutral says:

    Japanese promises mean nothing. They are a US puppet, they will do whatever the US tells them to do and America never keeps its promises.

  88. Daniel.I says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    That’s a rather narrow reading of what I’m trying to say.

    Also, if one were to take your logic to its ultimate conclusion, you seem to be saying “With Russia, it’s all stick – no carrot.”.

    Doesn’t seem wise to me.

  89. neutral says:
    @Anonymous

    Do you want to see America lose California to China because of American poor leadership?

    Yes, but the more ideal scenario would be if the USA broke up into many more tiny parts.

  90. iffen says:
    @Mr. XYZ

    The U.S. really did behave noxiously in regards to this back then.

    Misfortunes of geo-politics, with Nazi Germany defeated we immediately pivoted and faced the “real” enemy.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  91. iffen says:
    @reiner Tor

    did the US give up any piece of its territory?

    It is a bit semantic. The fact is that we voluntarily withdrew and no other country was in a position to force us to do so.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  92. @iffen

    The more interesting thing is how the original Treaty of San Francisco was pretty ambiguous about the South Kuril Islands (and the Senkaku Islands, too), and that its text (“Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Kurile Islands, and to that portion of Sakhalin and the islands adjacent to it over which Japan acquired sovereignty as a consequence of the Treaty of Portsmouth of 5 September 1905.”) in the most literal sense probably gives the area to the USSR. However, later on the Americans clarified that “the Habomai Islands and Shikotan … are properly part of Hokkaido and that Japan is entitled to sovereignty over them”. Also “Britain and the United States agreed that territorial rights would not be granted to nations that did not sign the Treaty of San Francisco, and therefore the islands were not formally recognized as Soviet territory.”

    If you ask me, the Treaty of San Francisco was pretty badly worded, and in the form it was made it amounts to a separate peace treaty anyway (though it probably doesn’t matter, since the peace treaties with Germany were concluded separately, too).

    • Replies: @iffen
  93. iffen says:
    @reiner Tor

    FWIW, if the islands have the security value that comment #60 claims, I wouldn’t give them up, just like I wouldn’t have given up Sevastopol to be turned into a NATO harbor.

  94. @iffen

    The USSR also voluntarily withdrew from places like Hungary or Estonia, and no other country was in a position to force them to do so. They did it for economic and political considerations, basically because they’d have had to transform their military into a security occupation force, while since the early 50s they have always had a military designed to fight the Third World War and very poorly equipped to fight COIN type wars. So at least in some sense they withdrew voluntarily, in other words, they had a choice.

    A better example might be their withdrawal from China (including Port Arthur) and North Korea in the 1950s, where also no one was in a position to oust them.

    Just like the US withdrawal from places like Japan (not a full withdrawal, for what it’s worth) and the Philippines, these were mostly driven by political considerations.

    But the Kurils are a place with an ethnically Russian (settler) population, I don’t think the US ever withdrew from such a place.

    • Replies: @iffen
    , @Anonymous
  95. iffen says:
    @reiner Tor

    I don’t think the US ever withdrew from such a place.

    I think that the Canal Zone might qualify, but I think that you are correct about military, political and economic considerations driving these decisions. I can’t see us withdrawing from Guam anytime soon.

  96. simon123 says:
    @Colin Wright

    It should be an independent Hawaiian republic. Native Hawaiians can learn their own language, plus Mandarin. All others who came during the occupation must learn the Hawaiian language to hold jobs or run for office, and be issued a grey passport.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  97. Gerard2 says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    They also control the entrance into the Sea of Okhotsk

    I would have just started and ended with this point, maybe a bit about investments and the (correct) assumption about the Japonophilia/South Koreanophilia of parts of the young generation

    the main issue here is not the transfer of the 2 islands, but the ever increasing joint activity of Russian & Japanese civilians and businesses onto the islands…..i.e what happens here is going to directly influence and maybe dictate the agreement Ukraine eventually makes with Russia or the west does on Crimea

    So the Kurils are about Crimea, and a bit about investment

  98. Gerard2 says:

    Considering that Putin has also recently lost a lot of supporters amongst leftists and the middle-aged due to pensions reform, I just don’t see him risking going through with that.

    A nonsense premise and a nonsense end argument.

    If Russians or anyone around the world are asked questions similiar to ” if NDS should increase from 18%-20%”.. then of course the large majority are going to say no, just as with this issue on the Kurils they aren’t going to say “yes” – which doesn’t mean anything at all……..neither of which means that they don’t understand the governments moves or even that they give a flying f**k about the issue if there is some sensible agreement , non-expulsions, guaranteed military development guarantees ( unlikely)

    What an absurd suggestion that Putin would be somehow be straightjacketed no this entirely false premise because of the pension reform non-issue….one that is a typical liberast assertion without facts

    If Japan helped finance or build a bridge from the mainland to Sakhalin, then I would ( with military/non-expulsion guarantees) take the offer of returning 2 islands in about 2 seconds.

    This is not like when millions of patriots proved they were perfectly fine to jettison holidays to Turkey and holiday in Crimea, Sochi and other Russian places, whilst Turkey did not apologise/compensate for shooting down and killing Russian pilots and the government had frozen relations with Turkey and flights.

  99. Mitleser says:
    @Anonymous

    They did not belong to Russia, but they do now.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  100. Mitleser says:
    @Mr. XYZ

    Silesia was the only industrialized territory that Germany lost in 1945, correct? The rest were primarily agricultural, correct?

    Yes, but they also included old port cities like Stettin, Danzig and Königsberg.

    The loss of Stettin is particullary bad because the North of modern East Germany lacks huge cities.
    Rostock, the biggest one has only 208k residents, much less than German Stettin had in the late 1930s.

    • Replies: @songbird
  101. Mitleser says:
    @Sean

    Tokyo wants more EEZ.

    By the way, that is Okinotori.

  102. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    But, Russia just lost a bunch of its territory with Ukraine leaving and there was nothing Russia could do about it.

    There was no war and Russias nukes were a non factor.

    The Anglo way is divide and conquer. So it is more likely that if Russia loses territory in the future it will be through an economic war not military. And it will be the West manipulating groups in Russia to turn against each other.

  103. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @reiner Tor

    No, the Kurils were a place with ethnic Japanese and Russia expelled them.

    Has Russia ever c ok compensated Japan for these islands? Have they compensated the people who lost their homes?

    Maybe it is Russia who should give Japan $100 Billion.

  104. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @Mitleser

    Be careful. Ukraine once belonged to Russia and now it doesn’t. If Japan wanted to, they could easily support Ukraine economically and other parts of Russia that want to break off.

    Right now Russia has strong leadership, but who’s to say in the future Russia won’t be weakened and be forced to give it back?

    • Replies: @Mitleser
    , @Mr. Hack
  105. Mitleser says:
    @Anonymous

    If Japan wanted to, they could easily support Ukraine economically…

    They are already doing that.: https://www.ua.emb-japan.go.jp/jpn/bi_ua/oda/160318_assistance_en.pdf

    Right now Russia has strong leadership…

    Does it really? They are no longer as weak as they used to be, but they are still not as strong as they could be.

    …but who’s to say in the future Russia won’t be weakened and be forced to give it back?

    Forced by that? Situation in 1990s and early 2000s was worse yet it did not happen.

    And give back to whom?

    • Agree: Felix Keverich
  106. songbird says:
    @Mitleser

    Germany needs more big coastal cities, if only for the reason that “Fischkopf” is such a fun insult to throw around.

  107. @songbird

    Filipinos will soon be the largest single group in Hawaii, as they are becoming on Guam.

  108. @Hyperborean

    Good example.

    As an aside, the people of the Falklands might decide nowadays that they want out of Islamic formerly-great formerly-Britain. Argentina might seem like the better option in twenty years.

  109. @simon123

    It would be interesting to see the small Hawaiian MINORITY force the whites and the Filipinos to learn Hawaiian, when the Filipinos alone greatly outnumber the Hawaiians. Both the Filipino and the white share of the state’s population are growing, while the Hawaiian share is not. It would be likelier that nonFilipinos on Hawaii would eventually find it useful to learn some Tagalog or visayan.

    Makes more sense for the next generation of people there to learn English and as you said, Mandarin — or Spanish, sadly, if they want the option of moving to the mainland US.

  110. @Anonymous

    ‘Well, I don’t see people in the West using that same argument for Tibet.

    Much of Tibet is Han Chinese. Yet white people in the west are always bitching about Tibetan rights and would like nothing more than to purify Tibet of Hans.’

    You have a point, but there are a couple of distinctions.

    The resettlement of Hawaii just…happened. By 1880 or so, the islands had ceased to be predominantly Polynesian. If anyone was to blame, it would be the Hawaiian royalty themselves — but it wasn’t a conscious or concerted policy of population replacement. That can’t be said of Han settlement in Tibet.

    Then too, it’s all in the past. People woke up around 1920, and passed such measures as the Hawaiian Homelands Bill, setting aside land for people of at least partially Hawaiian descent.

    But by then of course, it was too late — assuming one sees it all as somehow regrettable. Traditional Hawaiian culture has been bowdlerized into some kind of idyllic mix of surfboards and hula dancing, but it was fantastically stratified between the nobility and the commoners, and human sacrifice was practiced on what appears to have been a massive scale. Would we tolerate it if it had survived?

    In any case, what should have been done when? One can’t say the same thing about the Chinese resettlement of Tibet, which was decried even as it was taking place, and which the Chinese continued with, fully aware of what they were doing, why, and the ethical objections to it.

    It’s kind of like choosing between the wife who finds it gratifying that her husband enjoys her cooking and so keeps feeding him until he keels over with a heart attack at three hundred pounds and the one who hates him and so doses his food with arsenic. Yeah, they both killed him — but there is a moral distinction.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  111. Denis says:

    The Kuril islands dispute is a huge lesson in the power of propaganda.

    Here are a set of islands, populated almost exclusively by Russians and the native Ainu, which were, before the Russian colonization, not much more than a bunch of loosely staffed military outposts used by the Japanese to occasionally attack the Ainu if they got too rowdy. The Japanese did not even consider Hokkaido to be a part of their homeland until they conquered it from refugee Samurai during the Boshin war, nevermind the Kurils, which were just the “land of the foreigner” to the Japanese.

    The Russians, meanwhile, acquired the Kurils in a perfectly legitimate way, by joining the winning side in a defensive war against Japan. It was a defensive war, not an offensive one, because the Russians were joining the defenders, namely, China and the western allies. Territory seized in a defensive war can be legitimately annexed according to international law, and given the extremely sparse population of the Kurils, their annexation was perfectly sensible, especially compared to what was done to Germany.

    The people of the Kurils want to stay part of Russia, the Japanese have no meaningful claim to the islands, and there is no practical reason to give them away, aside from massaging the bruised egos of the Japanese. Yet, thanks to copious, propagandist coverage of the dispute, there are many people, including the relatively well informed people on this very forum, who discuss the matter as though Russia is committing a great aggression by not “returning” the islands to their “rightful” owners.

    Compare this attitude to the prevailing attitude towards the postwar territorial changes in Eastern Europe , which were accompanied by a veritable genocide of Poles and Germans at the hands of the Soviets, and you get a stunning view of just how powerful propaganda can be in motivating people to take specific political positions, against all reason.

    • Replies: @songbird
  112. LH says:

    @AK: decade ago you wrote how the wise government decided to build an expensive bridge to nowhere in Vladivostok, to impress visiting Chinese dignitaries.

    How did it turn out after the years? Is it useless white elephant, or pricey but handy part of local infrastructure?

  113. songbird says:
    @Denis

    Of course, the Japanese happily took certain German islands, without handing them back.

    • Replies: @Denis
  114. Denis says:
    @songbird

    Yep. And that was viewed as perfectly ok by the western allies after WW1, despite the nearly identical circumstances.

  115. Mitleser says:
    @LH

    Mexican says

    And going to Russky Island is a must if you want to have the views of the sea with great cliffs and also to get into nice beaches with sand which are not available in Vladivostok city

    https://www.tripadvisor.de/ShowUserReviews-g298496-d3438580-r604355750-Bridge_to_Russky_Island-Vladivostok_Primorsky_Krai_Far_Eastern_District.html

    Brit says

    Took a guided tour and asked if I could go to Russki Island. the views from the bridge are quite stunning. the island itself was pretty bare other than the university and the gun emplacements but it is worth it for the stunning views.

    https://www.tripadvisor.de/ShowUserReviews-g298496-d3438580-r576053733-Bridge_to_Russky_Island-Vladivostok_Primorsky_Krai_Far_Eastern_District.html

  116. melanf says:
    @LH

    @AK: decade ago you wrote how the wise government decided to build an expensive bridge to nowhere in Vladivostok, to impress visiting Chinese dignitaries.

    Its also impress residents of the city :
    This bridge that connected the island with the mainland was a real breakthrough in the future. … it stands for 7 years and pleases us all with the opportunity to easily get to the clean bays and steep cliffs of Russky island.

    The bridge cost about a billion dollars. In my opinion, this is quite justified spending (bridge gives access to the beach what is important for the development of the city)

  117. Anon[395] • Disclaimer says:

    If Kuriles belong to Japan, they should be given back because it’s the right thing to do.

    It’s like it was good for Crimea to be returned to Russia.

  118. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @Colin Wright

    Lol. The resettlement of Hawaii with non natives was not just circumstance. It was a deliberate act.

    There is plausible deniability because you can say that there are a lot of white people who moved there because of military bases, not to purposely settle the place. But you can say the same thing about Tibet too. There are a lot of Han who moved there to man bases to secure the border with India. But China denies it is a deliberate act just like we do with Hawaii.

    The measures taken to placate the native Hawaiians are not impressive at all. Are we supposed to be impressed when China reserves a few Casinos for native Tibetans after they steal their land?

    And are you really saying that China knows it is colonizing Tibet, but America had no idea it was colonizing Hawaii? That is a total joke.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  119. Paw says:
    @German_reader

    If those big nationalist are dealing , why not to try to end the occupation of the Okinava first..??
    Then may be even those the Russian would be softer…
    It just the lack courage or plenty the cowardness ?

  120. @LH

    to impress visiting Chinese dignitaries.

    How disconnected do you have to be to really believe this?

    The bridge was built to enable real estate developments. Vladivostok is currently a dump, but that could change pretty quickly. When it does, that island will be prime real estate.

  121. The Japs got off easy in WW2. Germany and her diaspora got rekt, permanently really. The Japs should feel lucky Sapporo wasn’t added to the Soviet Union.

    If Germany pestered Poland for land back people would flip. The Japs lost the land and should just deal with it. They need Russia long term on their side to fend off China.

  122. @LH

    I mentioned the Vladivostok bridge precisely three times in my 1,500 posts over the past 11 years:

    1) In which I Criticize Vladimir Putin (2010): https://akarlin.com/2010/04/in-which-i-criticize-putin/ – negative (in which I explicitly called it a white elephant)

    2) Open Thread 28 (2017): http://www.unz.com/akarlin/open-thread-28/ – negative

    3) The State of Russian Sinology (2017): http://www.unz.com/akarlin/russian-sinology/ – negative

    • Replies: @LH
  123. Mr. Hack says:
    @Anonymous

    You look at the Ukraine/Russia relationship rather simplistically. Ukraine had a state during the pre-modern period that included military, judicial, tax collecting functions and included an autonomous church as well. Add to this its own language, folk customs and songs and one can easily see why Ukraine was one of the first independent states to emerge when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

  124. @Anonymous

    And ironically, now Hawaii is being colonized by Filipinos. Until China takes the place, that is.

  125. @Adam

    And the Russian Empire pushed aside the Chinese to seize the territory in the first place; complete with ethnic cleansing. Xi has said he wants his country back (to Merkel).

    • Replies: @Gerard2
    , @Anatoly Karlin
  126. @German_reader

    The one channel deep enough to slip a submarine into the Pacific without the US satellites spotting it. Stupid militarism strikes again.

  127. Gerard2 says:
    @Philip Owen

    And the Russian Empire pushed aside the Chinese to seize the territory in the first place; complete with ethnic cleansing. Xi has said he wants his country back (to Merkel).

    this brainless garbage keeps being said by provocateurs. No nation has been anywhere close to Russia for benevolence to defeated nations /ethnicities….and it is a very long and victorious military history that Russia has. Extremely high numbers of different ethnicities from defeated areas have been absorbed right into the top of Russian military, academia, culture, society, intermarried and so on. This “ethnic cleansing” is total BS.

    The British, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Italians and Belgians have been nowhere near as benevolent over the last 400 years

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  128. @Philip Owen

    The Chinese never settled Outer Manchuria, let alone the Kurils. There were tribes that the Qing government claimed sovereignty over, unconvincingly.

    Xi professing irredentism aimed at Siberia sounds like a remarkable claim, if true. Is there a credible source for it?

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  129. Romanian says: • Website
    @Mr. XYZ

    No Hungarian-majority border areas, unless you would annex a few sq km at a time for a Hungarian majority village. Just three counties in the center of Romania are heavily Hungarian (out of 41+the capital), two of them at around 90%, the other 56%, so not contiguous land with Hungary today. It would have a better chance with bits and bobs of Serbia, Ukraine and Slovakia.

    We’re still wondering what happened to the Romanians surrounding Romania, minus the Republic of Moldova. Guess it’s easier to pay lip service to minority rights when you took the opportunity to assimilate them en masse, leaving token numbers.

  130. Romanian says: • Website
    @Mr. XYZ

    The real question is what happens to Gagauzia, which is an autonomous part of Moldova with a constitutional right to independence if it unites with Romania. The Gagauz minority are very pro-Russian and have been economically dependent on exporting agricultural products there. Neither are they in a contiguous territory, but rather in a weird patchwork, which would make establishing proper EU/Schengen borders a nightmare.

    As for Transnistria, whatever, so long as they lose the territory on the right bank of the Dniester, so a proper border can be established on the river. It will depend, basically, on what Russia agrees to do with regards to the “peacekeepers” there. Maybe Ukraine can have it, I don’t know. Or it can continue with its niche as a gateway for organized crime in the region. If a lot of people find it useful, then some reason for the status quo to continue will be found.

  131. @Anatoly Karlin

    I was talking about the Far East in general not the Kurils as the topic was wandering. Agree. The Kurils were not on the Chinese list. Mongolia though was.

    Xi’s speech to his first party Congress was long on everything including references to unequal treaties. All the remaining unequal treaties had their origins in Russian Imperial expansion, Hong Kong and Macao having been handed back. The borders with India and Pakistan are not Unequal Treaty affairs. He went back to it when Merkel visited. They discussed a map showing areas, including the Russian Far East considered by China to have been taken by such treaties. It’s somewhere on the net. Years back.

    Russia-China friendship is transactional.

    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @melanf
  132. Anonymous[422] • Disclaimer says:
    @Gerard2

    Seriously?

    Russia after WW2 participated in one of the most barbaric periods in human history against German civilians. Mainly women and children.

    Russia raped and pillaged on a horrific scale.

    I’m not saying that Russians are bad people, but this benevolence myth is total bullshit.

    • Replies: @Gerard2
  133. @Philip Owen

    I vaguely remembered something about Merkel and a map of China as well, and I think I’ve found what it was about:
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/04/01/a-merkel-a-map-a-message-to-china/

    Basically Merkel presented an 18th century map to the Chinese which didn’t include Xinjiang, Tibet and some other areas as part of China…which pissed off nationalistic Chinese, so internet users (and apparently some Chinese media as well) referred to another map from the mid-19th century, which apparently did show even some Siberian regions as parts of China.
    That’s very different from any official or semi-official claim by Xi though.

    EDIT: This seems to be the 1844 map by John Dower:

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  134. melanf says:
    @Philip Owen

    And the Russian Empire pushed aside the Chinese to seize the territory in the first place; complete with ethnic cleansing.
    I was talking about the Far East in general

    Just a lie.
    In the 17th century for the Amur river valley (inhabited by local tribes, the Chinese population was absent ) there was a war between the Manchus and Russian pirates. As a result (under the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689), the Amur river valley remained under the control of the Manchus (but not the Chinese), but the border was not clearly defined. The Manchus forbade the Chinese to settle on these lands (the Manchus also resettled most of the local tribes to the South). In the 19th century, taking advantage of the opium wars and the Taiping uprising, the Governor of Siberia achieved (in negotiations with the Manchus) the establishment of a modern border. The Chinese and Korean population on the lands passed under the control of Russia was absent (although the Chinese and Koreans began to move to these lands later).

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
  135. LH says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    I remembered the first post, and got curious how it eventually turned out. I have no intention to troll, this type of information is hard to find when one doesn’t know the language.

    There were quite a few ambitious large-scale projects before the financial crisis – bridge/dam around Petersburg, plan to dominate in nanotechnologies, Skolkovo high-tech center, etc. It would be very interesting to know their fate decade later.

    • Replies: @melanf
  136. melanf says:
    @LH

    There were quite a few ambitious large-scale projects before the financial crisis – bridge/dam around Petersburg

    These are different projects. Dam still Soviet project,

    bridges at the confluence of the Neva river in the sea-a modern project

    Both facilities are working successfully. As an example of a large construction in St. Petersburg, you can add a half-kilometer skyscraper in Lakhta

  137. @iffen

    How about the British? – they already have the Union Jack on the state flag.

  138. Mr. XYZ says:
    @German_reader

    This 1844 map shows both Korea and Sakhalin as being part of China.

  139. Gerard2 says:
    @Anonymous

    Russia raped and pillaged on a horrific scale

    On the “rapes”……this is simply a garbage mathematical formula, used to somehow extrapolate that a million german women were raped , all for the propaganda purpose of discrediting the victorious Soviets,with much the same propaganda the germans were using before and during the world ( you know ,this cross of slav and mongol rapist BS cartoons)

    There were something like 105 women in Germany in the year after May 1945 who listed the father of their child as Russian, it is literally from this that the braindead “million+ rapes” garbage is constructed…not evidence …just a few lying clowns

    Millions of soviets killed by the Nazi’s, by 1945 a much higher proportion of central asians and other ethnicities in the Red Army…….but absolutely no child born in Germany during that time with facial features that might implicate the Red Army. If so called mass-rape took place, then there won’t be any sufficient amount of murder of the women during the rape, abortion, miscarriage, abandoned newborns to cover for the lack of any children looking like that.

    Unlike many of the Poles for whoever they were fighting, the Russian Army in WW1 were immaculate in behaviour in every place they entered (different point, but I thought I should make it, anyway)

    The BS mathematical formula assumes that any female from the age of 8 to 80 was a target, and unlike the Holocaust which has records of people interned at various camps, masses of surviving family members, friends, not to mention personal belongings, skeletons, orders etc that can support the fact it happened…..the “mass rape” has nothing going for it…just a ridiculous attempt to slander some of the greatest men who ever walked the earth

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