While cementing its regional influence, Russia has made active deployments in interested regions and taken new steps during the pandemic.
First, it has built military bases in Africa. In August, it was reported that Russia expected to build six military bases in Africa. In November, Russia and Sudan signed an agreement to build military bases in the latter, the first time that Moscow had a military base in Africa after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, marking a significant step on its way to becoming a world power again.
Second, it has turned the table in Syria. In 2020, Russia continued to keep a military presence in Syria to support the Bashar al-Assad regime, defeat the US, Israel, and Turkey's attempts there, and fortify its influence in the Middle East.
Third, it has agilely mediated in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On November 9, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia reached an agreement requiring the latter two to end their military wars in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The ability to control the trend of events in such a complicated situation fully proved Moscow's wise strategic maneuvering and added to its clout in the region.
Fourth, it has reinforced military deployments in the Southern Kuril Islands that are called the Northern Territories in Japan. In December, Russia deployed the S-300V4 air-defense missile system in Southern Kuril Islands to keep a close eye on the movements in the northwest Pacific.
Japan, India, the UK, and France are also actively making moves
Japan, aiming at strategic stability while making progress, sought to expand its influence in the region and the world at large. In October, Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga expressed his willingness for intensified cooperation when visiting Vietnam, and the two countries later signed an agreement on defense equipment and technology transfer. In November, the Japanese government decided to extend the service term of a frigate and an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) formation that were cruising the Middle East waters for a year.
With its strategic focus on regional conflicts, India pursued military advantages on the land border and in the Indian Ocean. In the past year, New Delhi has repeatedly increased military activities in the border area and in Kashmir and triggered military crisis several times, which, combined with the COVID-19 outbreak at home, have cornered it both internally and externally.
The UK is intent on maintaining its international influence through its strategic layout. On November 19, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the ramp-up of the country's defense policy and set up the national cyber force and space command , planning to send the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier to Asia regularly.
Focused on European security cooperation, France took steps to enhance the regional defense capability and tried hard to maintain its clout elsewhere. In November, the French Navy FS Emeraude submarine and FS Seine support vessel stopped in Guam, an American base.