The Russian Invasion of Ukraine and its Impact on South Korea
Keywords:South Korea, geopolitics, niche diplomacy, foreign policy, Russia, Ukraine, Yoon Suk-yeol
South Korea is a self-identified middle power with significant geopolitical constraints upon its foreign policy formulation caused by geostrategic dependence on its major security guarantor, the United States (US), and geoeconomic dependence upon its major trading partner, the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The competing geopolitical demands of these two global superpowers has left the Republic of Korea (ROK) struggling between
a “rock and a hard place” or trying to exert a degree of autonomy as a “shrimp among whales”. Successive administrations have tried to diversify this dependency, and to carve out a diplomatic niche wherein Seoul can gain more bang for its buck or Won as a middle power. The Russian invasion of the Ukraine has complicated these efforts. Hence, with the incoming conservative Yoon Suk-yeol administration, these considerations demand even greater attention. This talk first, therefore, considers the impact of the most recent developments on South Korean geopolitical perspectives. It then turns to address the potential consequences for the continuation of South Korea’s humanitarian niche diplomacy as a middle power.
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