Vassily Kashin is Ph.D. in Political Science, is a senior research fellow at the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the National Research University—Higher School of Economics. He is also a leading research fellow at the Institute of the Russian Far East.
The scope of China’s containment is broadening, while the scope of U.S.-China cooperation is gradually narrowing. Of course, it is easy not to see this if one cites high volumes of U.S.-Chinese trade or the great enthusiasm for American popular culture among the Chinese.
The strategic partnership with China began in 1996 (just in time when this form of bilateral cooperation first became available), and it was considered by the leaders of Russia and China as a geopolitical rather than economic project.
The fast build-up of China’s military power is a natural and inevitable process, albeit belated. China is only bringing its military capability into line with the scale of its economy, territory and population. More importantly, it is taking systematic and very costly efforts to make its armed forces ready for active combat operations in remote regions of the world.
Turning points in history are rarely recognized as such by contemporaries. Even while following the news and sensing that something has gone wrong, people go about their lives in the usual way.
The Ukrainian crisis has demonstrated once again that the global Chinese business empire is growing much faster than Beijing’s military-political capabilities. There has again emerged a need for a more active Chinese policy to protect national interests.
All the signs are that a military invasion of Ukraine’s restive eastern provinces by Russian forces is not on the cards. The likeliest scenario is that Moscow will allow Kiev to gradually claw back control of the east, though a prolonged crisis in relations with the West remains unavoidable.
Warming ties between Russia and China are reviving the arms trade between the two countries.
Russia’s goal is to acquire reliable guarantees of its own security with regard to China, while avoiding full involvement in the growing Sino-American global rivalry and reaping all the benefits a third party can expect in such a situation.
Russia is ready to take into account possible negative effects of its military-technical cooperation with foreign countries and may enter into secret deals, but it will always react highly negatively to direct pressure. This policy is entirely in the interests of the Russian defense industry and Russia as a state.
The Chinese military calls for a transfer from the passive policy of deterring the U.S. to an active course and closest cooperation with Moscow. Russia’s foreign policy is regarded as a positive example of defending national interests and independent opinion.
At a roundtable event in Moscow, top experts debated the “hypocritical” and “insincere” foreign policies of both Russia and the West in the post-Cold War era.
Vladimir Putin has mentioned several times that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical mistake. Although these words were often interpreted as his desire to constitute that country, there is little reason to believe this.
The April 16 referendum will focus on power distribution rather than institution building. In other words, the organizers saw it as an opportunity to expand the President’s powers and allow him to rule longer. In their turn, Turks perceived it as an institutional choice to contribute to the development of the state.
If the larger picture defies prediction, the immediate future is scarcely more transparent. In the U.S. case, the known unknowns are numerous. They begin with the question of how much deck furniture Trump is willing to overturn in order to pursue an “America First” strategy.
In the wake of the For Fair Elections protest movement in Russia in 2011-2012, the Kremlin initiated a new strategy of state-society relations that was aimed at diminishing the propensity for protest in the next election cycle.
Belarus’ traditional structural dependence on Russia is increasing, and Minsk’s freedom of maneuver continues to shrink.