Sino-Russian Nexus

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Sher Ali Bukhari

Last month, Russian President Putin paid a state visit to China, underscoring strategic relations between Moscow and Beijing as well as personal ties between Putin and XI. Several bilateral agreements were inked during the visit ranging from trade, investment, technology transfer, defence and arms, reflecting the nature of natural partners for a multipolar world. Meanwhile, both leaders already expressed their countries’ relations as a “No Limits partnership” before the verge of the Ukraine war in 2022.
There are multiple reasons behind fostering Moscow and Beijing relations. Few analysts argued that the authoritarian nature of both governments and the leader’s personality is the chief factor for the closeness of Sino-Russia ties. However, the ground reality is quite opposite and striking. The leading factor of Sino-Russia’s strong ties is the USA, whose policies in Indo-Pacific and Europe are pulling the strings of Beijing and Moscow to come closer for the safety of mutual interests.
Regarding Russia, the USA has positioned itself as the protector of Europe since the end of the Cold War and embarked on the mission of eastward expansion of NATO, near the Russian borders, without taking any account of Russia’s concerns of security. Not only the Eastward expansion of NATO but also the Color revolution for regime change operation in East Europe in terms of the replacement of pro-Moscow governments with pro-western governments another source of irritation for Putin Russia. During the NATO Summit in Bucharest (2008), the USA decided to give NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine, providing the last nail in the coffin for Moscow. That year Putin’s Russia decided to fight back against American imperialism in Russia’s backyard.
Meanwhile, in 2021, Russia approached the USA and its allies several times to roll back Ukraine’s coordination with NATO. However, when much water crossed the bridge, Russian intelligence reports revealed that the USA had secretly been arming Ukraine for a possible fight with Russia. That’s the Cuban Missile Moment (1962) for Russia as per the analysis of Pro. John Mearsheimer. And desperate Russia attacked Ukraine on Feb 2022. Later the story is well known; Russia being economically sanctioned, tried to be isolated from the international community by brutally fighting with Ukraine which has the full backing of the West in terms of military, and economic aid, politically and diplomatically.
In Asia, China has been progressing rapidly in terms of economy, technological, military and human development index since 2000. In 2010, when the Chinese economy claimed to be the world’s second-largest economy and embarked on replacing the USA in a few decades, the USA felt threatened by Chinese progress, although Chinese victory was purely based on liberal economic order pinned by the USA and its ally’s aftermath of WW2. Meantime, the USA has also worried about the potential modernization of the Chinese military which can carve out an area of influence (hegemony) in East Asia. China become a principal threat to USA’s security and interests in East Asia and beyond.
During Obama’s presidency, the Pivotal Asia policy (2011) proclaimed that a more balanced economic, security and diplomatic approach was taken vis-à-vis China. Furthermore, during that time, many American eminent scholars like Mearsheimer and Graham Allison opined that strategic competition had become inevitable between Washington and Beijing, indicating the revival of Cold 2.0 and the possibility of a hot war in East Asia on the issue of Taiwan. Trump and Biden presidencies have seen a trade war with China, imposing trade restrictions on Chinese products, while forming like-minded allies- India, Japan, Australia, USA- Quad and AUKUS and building of anti-Chinse coalition in East Asia and beyond for economic and military containment of China. These measures alarmed the Chinese and their political leadership warned the USA on multiple stages that rivalry and partnership could not go side by side as the USA must abandon its Cold War mentality in the era of a multipolar world.
In this context, both Russia and China, on the pretext of the American policy of containment, have fostered a close relationship. Trade volume between Moscow and Beijing has staggered at $240 billion while Moscow has become to Petrochemical supplier of China as per the newsfeed BBC. China is also interested in the transfer of weapons and missile technologies from Moscow for the modernization of the Chinese military. Meanwhile, both countries also shared a vision for a multipolar world where the global south will have more say at the international level. It is quite remarkable that despite being a European country, Russia, has turned its back towards Asia and has been a champion of the global South, supporting Palestine cause is a prime example of that. Russia and China are founding members of SCO and BRICS whose security and economic dimension will be instrumental shortly. Both countries have expressed open-door policies for SCO and BRICS and a vision for multipolar, undermining Western hegemony at the international level.
Both countries are also supportive of their respective concerns in East Asia and Europe. For example, Putin’s Russia has shown full support of the Taiwan issue and the One-China policy. Russia also feels that the USA wants to provoke China to attack Taiwan as it did with Russia in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Chinese leadership remained sympathetic to the security concerns of Russia in terms of eastward Expansion of NATO as it faced the same dilemma in East Asia in the name of QUAD and AUKUS for peaceful containment of Chinese rise. China has also given a roadmap to provide peace in Ukraine and showed arbitration for the Ukraine conflict.
Meantime, the USA viewed the growing partnership of both countries as a threat to a free world and democratic world. The USA has expressed its reservations regarding Chinese help for the resurrection of isolated Russia aftermath of the Ukraine war in 2022, although the Chinese refuted these claims of the USA. The USA has also presented its mantra that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine aims at Greater Russia which could be built after conquering the whole of East Europe as Putin is revisionist and imperialist, although the Russian Foreign Ministry responded to these statements of America as groundless.
In a nutshell, in my view, American actions in Europe and Asia have a principal reason behind the limitless and strategic partnership between Beijing and Moscow, which is deeply rooted in multiple dimensions. Shortly, the Sino-Russia partnership could have a potential force for reshaping international order and could alter the potential USA-led order. Therefore, provocative actions from any great powers- USA, China and Russia- are not interest of global peace, progress, prosperity and stability.

The writer is a freelance columnist.