Strategic reality check: the current state of Russia-China defence cooperation and the prospects of a deepening 'near alliance'
Published online: 1 July 2021
The article has been peer reviewed.
EXTRACTThe evolving geostrategic landscape of the Indo-Pacific geopolitical system continues to be influenced by strategic fluidity; a factor that also affected regional dynamics during the Cold War. This is a challenge for any professional specialising in the field of strategic and defence studies: who is attempting to predict trends and patterns that may affect the Indo-Pacific. The Australian Government's 2020 Defence Strategic Update highlights the increasing complexity of the Indo- Pacific and pays, predictably, considerable attention to the People's Republic of China (PRC) and its pursuit of greater influence in the region. However, the Update makes no mention of Beijing's deepening defence tandem with Russia.
This article will examine the 'near alliance' between the PRC and Russia. Although these two major nuclear-armed military powers do not present an immediate threat to Australia's national security, the Sino-Russia relationship requires special recognition; just as Sino-Soviet relations during the Cold War affected consideration of the strategic balance of power. 1 Firstly, this article examines the main drivers deepening Sino-Russian military cooperation. After considering the nature and purpose of the two nation's strategic priorities, it develops three principal scenarios for the future of military and strategic relationship. This article finds that the current status quo - of a 'near alliance'- is likely to continue for the near future. However, the deepening of the Russian-PRC defence tandem may become a major factor shaping the Indo-Pacific's geopolitical and geostrategic landscape in coming decades.
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AGSM Documentary-note: AD Muraviev, 'Strategic reality check: the current state of Russia-China defence cooperation and the prospects of a deepening 'near alliance', Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies, 1 July 2021, 3(1):27-48, https://doi.org/10.51174/AJDSS.0301/OLBL5686.
AGSM Author-date:Muraviev AD (1 July 2021) 'Strategic reality check: the current state of Russia-China defence cooperation and the prospects of a deepening "near alliance"', Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies, 3(1):27-48, https://doi.org/10.51174/AJDSS.0301/OLBL5686.This article has been peer reviewed.
1Rameth Thakur and Carlyle A Thayer, GJ Gill and Amin Saikal, The Soviet Union as an Asian Pacific Power. Implications of Gorbachev's 1986 Vladivostok Initiative, Westview Press, Boulder, 1987, p 39, see also https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429314902.
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