President Putin Floats The Idea Of A Russia-China Military Alliance, And The U.S. Isn’t Impressed

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Oct 25 2020
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At the 17th annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, Russian President Vladimir Putin said a Russia-China military alliance could be forged, but for now, there is no need. Speaking during a video conference on Thursday, Putin’s suggestion is a concept similar to the western military alliance NATO. He said – “We don’t need it, but, theoretically, it’s quite possible to imagine it.”


The Russian supremo’s statement came at a time amid growing tensions in their relations between Moscow and Washington, while Russia-China ties become increasingly close. President Putin highlighted to the war games that the armed forces of China and Russia held as a signal of both countries’ deepening military cooperation.


Putin explained – “We have always assumed that our relations have reached such a degree of interaction and trust that we do not need it. How it will develop further, life will show. We do not set such a task for ourselves now, but in principle, we are not going to rule it out. We’ll see. In any case, we are happy with the current state of relations between Russia and China in this area.”

Russia-China Military Alliance

The Russian president revealed how Russia shared sensitive military technologies that helped boost China’s military potential significantly, but did not provide details due to classified information. In 2014, Beijing became the first foreign buyer of Russian hypersonic S-400 anti-aircraft missile system that was then offered at US$300 million per launch unit.


The system’s long-range coverage – up to 400 kilometres and a height of up to 30 kilometres – would allow the Chinese to target Taiwan as well as its fighter jets including F-16s deployed along the island’s Pacific coast. The US$3 billion deal also allows China to cover the disputed Senkaku Islands, aka Diaoyu, the disputed islands being claimed by Japan.


The following day, a reporter brought the hypothetical military alliance during Friday’s daily press conference with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian. “China noted President Putin’s positive remarks on China-Russia relations at the annual meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club in recent years, which demonstrates the high level and specialty of our bilateral ties,” – said Zhao.

Russia S-400 Missile System

Mr Zhao also said there is no limit to China-Russia friendship and no restricted areas for expanded cooperation. In addition, he said under President Xi Jinping, – “China is ready to continue to enrich the strategic content of our relations, maintain close strategic coordination, and contribute more positive energy to world peace and stability”.


Both Russia and China’s relations with the West, especially the United States, are at very fragile level. Moscow has sought to develop stronger ties with Beijing as its relations with the West sank to post-Cold War lows over Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, as well as accusations of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.


The U.S. has been more hostile and aggressive toward China. Besides launching trade war and tech war against Beijing, Trump administration consistently undermines and provokes the Chinese military presence in the South China Sea, including arms sales of US$1.8 billion worth of  advanced weapons systems to Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own.

2018 G7 Summit - Photo Of Chaos Mood - Trump Arms Folded

While the U.S. leads the 30-member NATO Western military alliance, under Trump administration, the value of NATO and even the status of countries such as Germany as allies have been questioned. At the NATO summit in 2017, for example, Trump told European countries to raise the percentage of their national income they spend on defense.


The weakening of the transatlantic alliance between the U.S. and its traditional European allies is one of the reasons why both Russia and China hope Trump would win the coming presidential election. This is also the reason why Beijing said both Russia and China do not need a military alliance for now, fearing that an alliance would restore diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Europe.


Cui Heng, a post-doctoral researcher from the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University, said that the alliance mode prevailing during the Cold War era has no basis today, and China-US relations and US-Russia relations have not reached a level that one needs to ally with the other. Cui said – “Coordination and non-alliance better fit the needs of China and Russia.”

Russia Vostok Wargame - China

However, the potential Russia-China military alliance has sparked concern in the United States. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper condemned it – “Our primary competitors – China and Russia – are rapidly modernising their armed forces, and using their growing strength to ignore International law, violate the sovereignty of smaller states, and shift the balance of power in their favour.”


In reality, what brings Russia and China together is mainly their rivalry with the United States. Russia is competing at political and military levels and China – primarily in economics and trade. Therefore, if the U.S. tries to compete with Moscow militarily while at the same time launches trade war and tech war with China, naturally, it will bring Russia and China together.


Shortly before his death in 2017, Zbigniew Brzeziński, a Polish-American diplomat who served as a counselor to U.S. President Johnson and President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, said that “analyzing threats to American interest, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China and Russia, united not by ideology, but by complementary grievances.”

President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin - Toast


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