US-led economic sanctions against technology exports to Russia might have the unintended consequence of pushing Russian and Chinese technological industries into close cooperation, Russia-based security expert Vasily Kashin writesfor The Moscow Times.
Kashin, an analyst at the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, notes that any partnership between China and Russia would be mutually beneficial for both countries given long-standing US limits on arms sales to China, and more recent American measures stemming trade with Russia.
Per The Moscow Times:
China’s production of military technology very favourably complements Russia’s. While Russia exports upward of $US2 billion in military equipment to China annually, Beijing is strong in a number of specific areas where Moscow is particularly weak. For example, despite making some progress, Russia has yet to achieve serial production of its own strike drones and remains heavily reliant on European and Israeli partners for that equipment.
Kashin notes that China has developed full-scale mass production of two reconnaissance drones — which means China is starting to master defence technologies that are a relative Russian weakness. China has military and technical cooperation experience with other geopolitically difficult countries as well: In the past, China has developed military relationships with Pakistan and Iran.
Kashin writes that China and Russia are already in the early stages of developing civilian industrial cooperation with a clear potential defence aspect to it. The countries are close to reaching a deal on the procurement of electronic components of satellites, he notes.
According to Missile Threat, a website operated by the George C. Marshall and Claremont Institutes, it would make sense for Russia to reach out to China for help with an early warning missile system. China has the technological capability to build a satellite system necessary for Russia’s early-warning systems, while Russia could provide China with the technology necessary to protect itself against medium-range ballistic missiles.
Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, Russia and China have also moved closer together in the energy sector. In May, the two countries signed a gas pipeline megadeal that would provide China with natural gas for 30 years.
This string of successes for Chinese foreign policy with Russia underscores how Russia has shifted eastwards after confrontation with the West over Ukraine.
Ultimately, the crisis in Ukraine might benefit China more than any other country.
“[China is] the big winner from the Ukraine crisis — everybody wants to work with them,” Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer told Business Insider in an email. “I’d say not only are they ignoring U./EU sanctions, they’re actually taking advantage of them.”
However, the ongoing crisis in Syria is leading to a thawing of relations between Russia and the US.
A recent meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart has led to speculation that Russia and the US may be nearing yet another “reset”
of relations. This could hypothetically lead to a reduction in sanctions and a return of Russia doing business with Europe instead of China.
But if Russia and the US attempt to mend their relationship, China and Russia will likely remain close as the two countries continue see their interests converge.
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