In the 1990s Russia faced Northeast Asia anew, obliged to reconsider Soviet policies due to different domestic considerations and transformed regional conditions. In the early cold war years when China was the obvious priority and Japan was still recalled as the enemy, Korea suddenly assumed a large role in the struggle to reshape the region. The same evolution occurred a half-century later. After downplaying Korea’s significance for most of the 1990s, Russia recognized its pivotal role as the “sunshine policy” started in 1999-2000 and, even more, when a crisis over nuclear weapons began in 2002-3. Caught between rapidly rising Chinese power and Japanese power still obsessed with four islands over which Moscow claimed sovereignty, Russians perceived an opening in the flux around both of the Koreas. This chapter traces the evolution of Russian approaches from traditional Soviet policies to the initial orientations of the new Russian state, and finally to Vladimir Putin’s initial strategy both to the region and to the Korean peninsula.