Russia-China Relations

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  • Understanding China–Russia Cooperation in the Arctic

    The Ukraine crisis, shifting geopolitical alliances in the Indo-Pacific and Western-imposed economic sanctions on Russia have strengthened China–Russia cooperation in the Arctic.

    January 10, 2023

    Rajinder Singh asked: What are the key aspects of the existing and emerging alliance between Russia and China?

    Rajorshi Roy replies: To view the Russia–China partnership through the prism of an alliance partnership would, perhaps, be a little presumptuous. This is notwithstanding the unprecedented improvement in their bilateral ties since 2014 when developments in Ukraine first broke out. It includes cooperation in sectors that have traditionally been Russia’s red lines in the form of the Arctic, Far East, Central Asia and defence.

    Sino-Russian Cooperation and Competition in Central Asia

    The Central Asian region with its five post-Soviet republics is geopolitically important for its proximity to Afghanistan, West Asia, China, Russia and the Caucasus. These republics have been wooed by many powers keen to gain access to their rich resources. Russia, the regional hegemon has been slipping in the economic domain, while China’s fortunes and national power are on the rise. This article seeks to examine the standing of these two powers that are both cooperating and competing in Central Asia and suggest the way ahead for India

    April-June 2022

    Shashank Mittal asked: How do US–Russia relations affect India?

    Rajorshi Roy replies: Over the last eight years, US–Russia relations have deteriorated to a historic low. The Ukrainian crisis has only added to the bilateral friction amidst fears of a redo of the Cold War era animosity and zero-sum game calculation. With their differences over Russia’s position in global affairs appearing fundamental, it is unlikely that a modus vivendi between the two Great Powers is in the offing in the near future. Such a scenario complicates India's foreign policy options.

    Russia’s Embrace of China: An Alliance in the Making?

    Even as China has emerged as one of Russia’s pillars to tackle the perceived Western threat, it is unlikely that their ongoing entente will morph into a military alliance.

    March 08, 2021

    Stress-Test for Chinese Restraint: China Evaluates Russia’s Use of Force

    The article discusses if China will be inspired by its strategic partner Russia to use force as an instrument of its foreign policy. After a pro et con discussion the authors find that the disincentives created by the Russian example are likely to convince China that it should continue to show restraint under the ‘peaceful development’ formula, and avoid military adventures. The East Asian Peace is thus not seriously threatened, at least not by China—for now.

    March 2017

    Russia’s China Policy in the Arctic

    This article discusses the type of partnership Russia pursues towards China in the Arctic. Through evidence, the author finds that while Russia may be aiming for an overall strategic partnership, Arctic developments on the whole conclude on a pragmatic approach. Russia needs assistance to develop the Arctic and an eastward diversification is opportune. Russia’s energy development in the Arctic indicates an emerging strategic co-operation with China, but policies towards Beijing concerning the Arctic Council and the Northern Sea Route prove to be more pragmatic.

    November 2014

    UNSC Vote on the Crimean Issue: Why did China Abstain?

    The reasons for abstention go far beyond the immediate issue at hand and are enveloped in deep Chinese strategic interests. The Chinese leadership is adamant that there can be no dilution of the concept of the principle of non-violation of the territorial integrity of nation states in the international system.

    March 21, 2014

    Sambit Patra asked: With growing Russian defence ties with China, is Indian strategic defence inventory at threat?

    Mandip Singh replies: The growing relationship between Russia and China is an outcome of their mutual interest in balancing the US ‘rebalancing’ strategy to the Asia–Pacific. However, relations between Russia and China have been marred by differences since the Khrushchev years when it came to a head during the Ussuri River incident in 1966. Ever since, the two countries have sparred over the issue of trans-border migration and changing demography in Russia’s Far East; control over Arctic’s vast resources and trade routes; domination of the Central Asian Republics, particularly its energy resources; and Russia’s allegations of ‘reverse engineering’ of defence equipment by China, particularly the J-10/J-11 planes. However, there have been areas of convergence too. Both countries are on the same page with regards to Syria and Iran, and have a mutual interest in balancing the US in the region. Also, Russia needs to sell its vast oil and gas reserves to China. In recent years, Russian military industrial complex has been in dire need of an infusion of capital. China has stepped in to fill this need.

    The relationship needs to be seen in the light of the above argument. It’s a win-win for both without compromising on their positions in areas of divergence. India depends on Russia for a large number of its weapons, but that percentage is slowly seeing a decline. In recent years, India has undertaken two major initiatives to diversify its weapons procurement arsenal: firstly, to encourage indigenous production. To this end, the new policy on ‘offsets’ and procurement released by the government merits a look, and secondly, India has diversified sources by procuring weapons from a number of countries, for e.g. the MMRCA Rafale from France, C-17 Globemasters and C-130J Hercules from the US, Radars/ISR systems from Israel, and T-90 tanks from Russia, etc. With the increasing focus on indigenous production and encouragement to private-public enterprise in defence industry in India, the dependence on foreign procurements will gradually subside. Thus, I do not visualise any impact of the China-Russia bonhomie on India’s defence inventory.

    China-Russia Relations: Bonding but Can it Endure?

    This issue brief looks at the growing China-Russia relationship in the backdrop of a volatile North East Asia and the US ‘rebalancing’ to Asia –Pacific. While China-Russia relations have not always been cordial, this time it’s a win-win for both-at least for the present.

    April 18, 2013