According to Oliver Stuenkel, author of “The post-Western world”, the Beijing-Moscow approach is due to Russian diplomatic isolation after the annexation of the Crimea, but there is potential to geopolitical divergences between Chinese and Russians in Central Asia.
Asks – What motivates the approach of China and Russia today?
Answer – The rapprochement has been going on since 2014 in response to the annexation of the Crimea and the sanctions against Russia, which ended closing Moscow’s approach to the West. Russia now finds itself in a delicate situation, with few options, and therefore approaches China in a pragmatic way. Russia needs strong trade and diplomatic partners in the international arena, and therefore the approximation is fundamental, especially from the economic point of view. China is in the habit of rescuing and protecting economically isolated countries because it creates dependency.
Asks – Historically, the relationship between China and Russia was marked by mistrust. Is the approximation now only of convenience?
Answer – For China, it is favorable to have Russia against the wall, especially in the commercialization of its natural gas. But there is much potential for geopolitical conflicts, especially as China has expanded its influence in Central Asia, including in former Soviet Union republics, which Russia regards as its “backyard.”
Xi did not mention the United States, but said that the increasingly unpredictable international geopolitical climate makes the Beijing-Moscow partnership even more important.
American unpredictability allows China to present itself as a kind of anchor of stability. In China, Trump is seen as a president of the skies because he has managed to divert international focus and reduced pressure on the Chinese government on a number of issues, in particular the history of human rights violations in the country.
Asks – What is the importance of the BRICs (economic forum that includes Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa) in the relationship between China and Russia?
Answer – In Brazil, the theme of the BRICs is not seen as very relevant, but for China and Russia, yes, especially after the differences between the main economies at the last G7 summit. The BRICs present themselves as an important and cohesive voice against protectionism, so for Brazil it is important to have a channel of direct communication with this group, which is increasingly seen as a force for international stability.
Asks – Can these movements stir up tensions in Moscow’s relationship with European countries, already at a difficult time?
Answer – There is a relationship of extreme mistrust between Europe and Russia, and US criticism of NATO signals that the bloc should seek greater autonomy, distancing itself from dependence on the United States. I see these criticisms as a testament to the European need to expand defense investments.