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We Shall Be Masters: Russian Pivots to East Asia from Peter the Great to Putin, Chris Miller

Reviewed by Katie L. Stewart

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Eurasianist ideology places Russia's civilizational roots not in Europe but in Asia, with its proper geopolitical role as the powerful center of the two continents. Despite the revival of this ideology in Russian discourse, Russia's foreign policy orientation toward Asia has been far from consistent, weakening arguments that its geography or culture create “enduring interests” in Asia. In the well-written and engaging We Shall Be Masters, Chris Miller takes readers through a three-century overview of Russia's fluctuating interest in the region, from periods of intense engagement with expansionist aims to periods of detachment during which Russia's dominant focus was on its West.

Drawing on an extensive array of historians' accounts and his own archival research, Miller presents cogent overviews of Russia's foreign policy interests and actions in Asia and the Pacific region from Russia's exploration and colonization of Alaska to the Vladimir Putin regime's recent attempts to strengthen ties with China and the greater Eurasia region. Each chapter can be read as a stand-alone snapshot of Russia's relationship with the East at a particular point in time. Taken together, they illustrate that the only constants in Russia's Asia policy are recurring pivots toward and away from the region and the “exces

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