By: Matthew Kroenig and Jeffrey Cimmino
What is the kernel of the issue?
In recent years, Russia and China have grown increasingly aligned, boosting economic, diplomatic, and military cooperation. Both countries share an aversion to democratic values and America’s global influence.
Why is the issue important?
The United States and its allies should be wary of a hostile strategic alignment between China and Russia. A close relationship between the world’s top autocratic powers risks destabilizing and undermining a rules-based international system, as they could work together to try to reshape international fora or increase coordination in support of authoritarian governments throughout the world.
What is the recommendation?
The United States should not seek to align with Russia against China, as concessions required from President Vladimir Putin would be too great and his word could not be trusted; rather, the United States and its allies should spotlight areas of actual or potential tension between China and Russia, including Arctic governance, influence in Central Asia, China’s growing nuclear arsenal, and a potential Chinese land grab in Russia’s Far East. Even while they work to divide Russia and China, the United States and its allies can also leverage their collective economic, diplomatic, and military power to compete with both Russia and China and impose costs where they violate international norms.