Russia, China and the Emerging Greater Eurasia

Russia and China drawing together is an unmistakable phenomenon in today’s international relations. Is it a result of deteriorated Russo-US and Sino-US relations or does it have more fundamental origins? How is it altering the evolving structure of international relations? To these questions, both in Russia and abroad, diverse, and at times, contradictory opinions have been expressed. Russians who favor a Western orientation express alarm that these closer relations threaten to turn a weaker Russia into a “satellite” and natural resource supplier to a powerful and aggressive China.1 The fact that the opposite orientation would turn it into a satellite and natural resource supplier to a much more aggressive West is interpreted as “entry into the world economy” and joining the “civilized world.” Opponents of the West, in contrast, write about the necessary and unavoidable establishment of an alliance with China, which strengthens Russia’s position in its struggle for an independent course.2 Both positions draw more from ideological preferences than from analysis of the actual situation. Advocates pay insufficient attention to China itself; that would interfere with the construction of a simple, bipolar scheme.

In the West, one can observe a similar picture, as two positions have, essentially, emerged. One group focuses on Russo-Chinese contradictions, at times exaggerating them. Typically, belonging to it are supporters of today’s anti-Russian foreign policy course of Washington and Brussels, striving to demonstrate that it will not lead to a dangerous, anti-Western, Russo-Chinese bloc.3 Seeing the danger of the formation of such a bloc, some recommend that the West use these contradictions to draw closer to China against Russia;4 others would make peace with Russia for joint opposition towards China, in their opinion, the greater danger ahead.5 The other group is critical of Washington’s current course because it has already led to the formation of a Sino-Russian bloc, based on overlapping views of geopolitical reality and an emerging ideology of the ruling regimes, which will last a long time.6

Geopolitical Foundations of Russia and China Drawing Together

The above presumptions, as a rule, are based on the authors’ political preferences, not on the real positions and motives of the two countries. The drawing together of Russia and China began long before the Ukraine crisis and has continued already for more than 30 years. The causes are much more fundamental than most observers acknowledge and consist of gradually recognizing the similarity and even overlap of their core interests in the international system and their geopolitical situation.

That normalization began long before today’s problems in relations between Russia and the West does not mean that problems caused by the Ukrainian crisis do not influence bilateral relations. Normalization, reaching back to the serious crisis that accompanied armed clashes on the border at the end of the 1960s, began already in the final years of Leonid Brezhnev’s time in office. It had become clear to the leaders that the continuous sharp confrontation was harming both the internal position in each country and their international prestige. From the start of perestroika and the deepening of China’s reforms, Moscow and Beijing increasingly refrained from ideological arguments and ever more actively discussed concrete questions of a bilateral partnership. Choosing an autonomous foreign policy, Beijing shifted away from forming a united front against the USSR and stopped seeing Moscow as its main enemy. For Gorbachev, normalization of relations with China became one of his main foreign policy objectives, which inside the country was supported by both reformers, who had seen in Chinese reforms an example for imitation, and conservatives, who were pleased with the successes of a communist neighbor.

After the breakup of the USSR, Moscow, after some time subsumed in a pro-West euphoria, turned to pragmatic policies that allowed it to tackle its internal problems. Economic cooperation with China, especially in the military-technical sphere, played an important role in the complex 1990s in sustaining entire sectors of the economy. State ideology fell into disarray. Both stopped putting before themselves global ambitions: the construction of communism in the entire world or even in Asia. Policies became more pragmatic, based on one’s own understanding of national interests. The closeness of these understandings became the foundation of drawing closer together. Agreeing with the opinions of F. A. Lyukanov and Gilbert Rozman that the current course of drawing closer together has an ideological character, I want to make clear that what is meant is not the former totalitarian ideology, the goal of which was to transform the entire world in accord with a particular model, for the sake of which could be sacrificed some traditionally understood national interests (e.g., to offer massive assistance to the friendliest regimes at the expense of one’s own population), but, on the contrary, acceptance by the ruling elites of those national interests.7 In this very period, “ belief in democracy” in foreign policy, being expounded by the United States and the European Union, developed to such an extent that it practically came to fully determine their foreign policy.

To the extent Russia distanced itself from the West—connected to the latter’s total lack of understanding of its desires and refusal to make any compromises, which distanced Russia, according to Western analysts, from the goal of becoming a “contemporary” country, i.e., subordinate to the West and following its policies—, Moscow began, with ever increasing energy, to establish pragmatic and mutually beneficial relations with Beijing. This course corresponded to the intentions of Beijing, which was growing ever stronger as a result of its successful economic reforms and was conducting an increasingly active foreign policy. As result, there arose a new type of Russo-Chinese relations, which were based not on ideology, but on pragmatic interests and directed at synergistic growth of one’s own interests in the world, not against third countries. They called it a strategic partnership.

One can identify the following shared interests:

1) A general tendency to break free of a unipolar system and transition to a multipolar world, which is explained by the fact that in a world dominated by the United States and its Western allies they do not see the possibility of realizing their interests in security or economics. As major countries with their own approaches to international problems, they can more freely realize them in a world where there is not one, but several leaders, none able to dictate its monopolistic conditions. Cooperation with China is extremely important for Russia in its international plan. It shares Russia’s view of the future structure of the world, defined by “multipolarity.” Both would like to see a world where several centers interact and are guided by international law and UN requirements. Russia and China, as some other states, are sufficiently great to have their own interests and approaches to problems of regional and global development. They find the postwar structure of the world fully suitable, where a system of international law took shape in which the highest authority is the UN Security Council. These principles are shared, above all, with the countries united in the BRICS, which see themselves as the leaders of the non-Western world, striving to reform the existing system of global management, not by undermining it or destroying it, but gradually finding a worthy place within it of the developing economies and the “South” as a whole. The fierce opposition to this course of the West is the basis of the growing consolidation and activism of the BRICS.

2) A tendency to preserve a system of international law, based on the principle of the sovereignty of states, at the core of which is the United Nations and the Security Council. As sole representatives of the non-Western world on the Security Council, Moscow and Beijing are interested in the preservation of the leading role of this organ, since the veto right equalizes their influence with that of the West, at a time when in all other parameters they fall far short of a united West. The principle of the absolute sovereignty of states does not allow the leading center of power to impose its will on other states on matters of internal politics. Russia and China, which differ from Western states in their internal political structure and experience, react with great caution to concepts that undermine sovereignty or justify “humanitarian intervention.”

3) The positions of Russia and China on regional conflicts are close or the same. This is seen in voting together at the United Nations on the Korean nuclear problem, the Iranian nuclear program, the situations in Libya and Syria, and also in their tight coordination on these and other regional conflicts.

4) Russia and China are interested in reform of the international financial system, increasing the role of non-Western states in the World Bank and the IMF, widening the use of regional currencies in international trade, etc.

5) Russia and China need each other as trade and economic partners. From 2010, China has been Russia’s first trading partner, satisfying the market not only for consumer goods, but also, to an increasing degree, for machines and equipment. China’s share of Russia’s foreign trade is greater than 10 percent. It is one of the top ten investors in Russia’s economy. Although Russia only comprises two percent of China’s foreign trade, China receives goods it cannot obtain from other suppliers, e.g., weapons due to sanctions from the West. Russia also provides some items, e.g., energy, that China cannot obtain in sufficient quantities at acceptable prices and with maximum diversification.

6) The rapidly rising cooperation between border areas plays a significant role in the development of Siberia and the Russian Far East and Northeast China.

7)Russia and China cooperate in Central Asia, above all through the framework of the SCO, achieving common aims: economic development of this region, support for political stability, and maintenance of secular regimes in power.

8) Both negatively react to outside advice on their internal political structure, calling this “interference in one’s internal affairs,” and also supporting each other in the battle against separatism. More and more, they do not accept the values that the West labels “universal.” In Russia, one sees the rise of all traditional faiths, the leaders of which sharply criticize the departure of the dominant secular-religious ideology in the West from its Christian roots. In China, which sees itself as leader of the developing “South,” one finds sharp criticism of “universal” values as an ideological screen, helping the West to preserve its dominance over former colonies and semi-colonial states. Its own traditional morality, based on Confucian values, is gaining increasing popularity. Although Confucianism differs sharply from traditional Christianity, shared rejection of Western ideology draws the two together.8

China and Russia do not offer their model to other countries; even more, they do not seek to impose it, unlike the West, which uses the pretext of “democratization” to camouflage the old idea of superiority over other races, nations, and civilizations. Moscow and Beijing decisively reject the dictates of the West. Whatever system, in the final analysis, takes shape in these two states, it should take shape on the basis of their internal development. To impose on these powerful countries values and political systems that the majority of their people are not ready to accept is a senseless and dangerous policy, which could cause chaos, in comparison to which the situations in Libya and Iraq, where such policies were tried, are exemplars of stability. Russia, in principle not rejecting Western principles of political construction, differs increasingly from the West in moral values. There is an ever-growing influence of religious views, rejecting homosexual marriages, euthanasia, surrogate motherhood, radical feminism, and other phenomena in the West celebrated as freedom and liberalism.

In China, with its pragmatic culture where monotheistic religions and their absolute morality never gained wide currency, Western moral innovations could be much easier to accept; however, Chinese society found it much harder to agree with prioritizing individual rights over societal and state goals. It splits with the West precisely in views of social ideals and political structure, which facilitate realization of this ideal. The basic human right is considered to be the right to life: if a person dies of hunger, then what is the point of freedom of assembly or of conscience. First, it is necessary to provide material sustenance, possible only through the efforts of the entire society.

These shared interests provided a basis for China and Russia eventually to draw closer. The way the situation in Ukraine and the Western sanctions unfolded must be seen in the general context of this process over many years. Good relations with China are necessary for Russia for political and economic reasons. China is an important strategic partner, and precisely owing to ties with it (as with other Asian countries), Russian policies are able to be less one-sided, and it can turn into one of the centers of world influence. Putin’s course for turning Russia into a more autonomous, mighty power naturally is understood as cultivating partner relations with all non-Western centers of power, of which China is the closest and most necessary economic and geopolitical partner. Cooperation with China objectively strengthens Russia’s position in the international arena as an independent center of power.

China is also interested in Russia as a geopolitical and economic partner. It prefers a stable and powerful (although possibly not a very powerful) Russia. A stable Russia, which can become an independent center of power, interests Beijing as a counterweight to its complex partner-competitor relations with the United States and Western Europe, a support for its own independent foreign policy. A stable border has great significance for China’s economic development. With this in mind, China has resolutely and constructively approached the resolution of border problems, problems of migration and bilateral trade. China would like to see Russia economically developed, and it is ready constructively to cooperate in the development of Russia’s border regions. Fears regarding its intentions are incomprehensible to it.

Both Moscow and Beijing know the significance of constructive partnerships with the West, necessary for strengthening their position in the international arena, for resolving important international questions (e.g., the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)), and for spurring economic development. For this reason, both oppose the establishment of an anti-West military alliance. Constructive relations of cooperation, not going to the extreme of making enemies or an alliance, fully correspond to the interests of both, if one understands Russia’s interests to be a strong, stable, and economically prosperous state, conducting an independent but responsible foreign policy, and not turning itself into a younger brother of the “civilized world” and a front-line fighter against the “Chinese threat”; or, on the contrary, a younger brother of a new center of the communist movement and a front-line fighter against “world imperialism.”

The Ukrainian Crisis and Russo-Chinese Relations

The coup in Kiev, supported by the United States, provoked a civil war and responses by Russia, which led to a sharp confrontation with the West. This situation was interpreted in Beijing as not unique. On the one hand, the response is always alarm to any attempt to undermine the territorial integrity of an existing state, since it is thinking about its own separatists. Precisely this explains its support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine. On the other hand, its leaders, recalling the chaos of the “Cultural Revolution” and the disturbances of 1989, always prefer stability to any disorder. China lays blame for undermining stability on the United States and the European Union, considering that they were attempting to expand their spheres of influence at Russia’s expense. It sees Russian moves as responses. Characteristic is this Xinhua commentary: “For the rest of the world, once again, people see another great country torn apart because of a clumsy and selfish West that boasts too many lofty ideals but always comes up short of practical solutions.9 By “mess” Beijing usually means a situation created by Western sponsored actions aimed at undermining stable (often authoritarian) regimes all over the world, which in its opinion can effectively secure the country’s economic development and growing cooperation with China. This term was used to describe the Tiananmen crisis in 1989, “color revolutions” in Arab states, and etc. Countering this tendency even far from China’s borders is a means of protecting itself since it understands that the same tactics can be used by the West in China. From this point of view, China would only welcome Russia’s growing will to counter Western expansionism. Although Russian countermeasures are considered in Beijing to be extreme and not fully conducive to stability, on the whole, the Russian position is met with understanding and even approval. Characteristic of this is the commentary of March 7, 2014 of Xinhua: “Russia may no longer be interested in competing for global preeminence with the West, but when it comes to cleaning a mess the West created in the country’s backyard, Russian leaders once again proved their credibility and shrewdness in planning and executing effective counter moves.”10

From the geopolitical point of view, Chinese leaders, viewing world politics as an arena of battles for spheres of influence, even if sometimes concealed by various ideological slogans, overall cannot approve of the blow delivered to Russia by Western expansion by use of force. Yet, it delays expansion in China’s direction, and, in this case it was not China caught in confrontation, while economic cooperation with the West has not suffered. As for ordinary Chinese citizens, judging by commentaries filling the Chinese Internet, many not only approve of the actions of Vladimir Putin, they regard his decisiveness as an example to their own leadership, which, in their opinion, is displaying unnecessary softness toward Japan, the United States, Vietnam, and other states wishing harm to China.

According to some experts, Obama counted on China condemning the unification of Russia and Crimea and Russian policies in Ukraine as a whole,11 demonstrating a complete misunderstanding of the motives for China’s behavior, the same as the misunderstanding of Moscow’s reaction to the expansion by the West. The Obama administration is carrying out policy against which all American strategists had warned beginning at the time of Nixon’s presidency: simultaneous confrontation with Moscow and Beijing, prodding them to draw closer together.

Although Russia and China would have continued to draw closer even without the Ukrainian crisis, the cooling of relations between Russia and the West accelerates this process. For example, the conclusion of two, huge agreements on the export of Russian gas to China in 2014, negotiations over which had dragged on for years, could have occurred even in different international circumstances, but they might have been prolonged and not been so constructive. The same can be said for all other agreements signed during the visits of Putin to Beijing in May 2014, Li Keqiang to Moscow in October 2014, Putin to the APEC summit in October 2014, and Xi Jinping to Moscow in May 2015. The gas contracts are only a small part of the overall bilateral trade and multi-sided cooperation and are not directly conditioned on the relations of Moscow and Beijing with other states.

The cooling of relations between Russia and the West is reflected not only in concrete decisions, but also in the awareness by diverse circles in Russian society of the seriousness of cooperative relations with China. The need to cultivate this cooperation is understood, to an ever-increasing degree, as a practical necessity by both state officials and representatives of big business. Proof was seen in March 2014 when a major businessman close to Putin (in the very words of the Russian president12) G.N. Timchenko, who had fallen under American sanctions, led the Association of Russian Entrepreneurs Working with China. Further evidence of the shift of business toward China was the leak to the press of news about the plans of RusHydro to sell a block of shares in the Far Eastern energy holding company of RAO ES Vostoka to the Chinese company Sanxia.13 Earlier Chinese investors, in contrast to Western ones, were not allowed to own Russian energy companies under the pretext that this could undermine national security.

Clear evidence of the far-reaching improvement in Russo-Chinese cooperation was the signing in Moscow on May 8, 2015 of the declaration of cooperation on aligning the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB). Beijing supports the EAEU despite the antagonistic response to this organization in the West and even its own doubts. It almost fully accepted Russia’s proposals, first of all to the mechanism for experts, which was prepared by experts at the Valdai Club in close cooperation with the presidential administration.14 This shows Beijing’s interest in cooperation with Moscow, on account of which it is prepared to make certain compromises. It also demonstrates the growing interest of the Russian leadership in expertise on the China question.

The basic principle of bilateral cooperation ahead will be mutual interest and mutual benefit. The standoff between Russia and the West creates fertile soil for a sharp turn by Russia towards China, establishing both a physical infrastructure and a cultural and educational basis for relations. Yet, the main transformation has been in the consciousness of Russian officials and businessmen, who increasingly know there is no prospect for restoring and, even more, broadening cooperation with the West. The spiritual and values rift is growing, no prospect for resolving the Ukrainian conflict is seen, and trust in the West as a reliable partner is shattered. None of these problems exist in cooperation with China. Although others exist—the unaccustomed nature of Chinese culture and psychology, the need to severe ties that have been established with Europe, language difficulties, etc.—, these problems are considered much easier to overcome.

Possible Problems

The above does not mean that Russians do not see complexities in cooperation with China. Neither in the government nor in the expert community are there any illusions. Few in Russia consider that Beijing, suddenly overcome with altruism, will suddenly save Russia at its own expense if Russia turns out to be in a difficult financial situation. Beijing will insist on its own interests, at times with tough terms. In negotiations both over supplying oil and gas there was hard bargaining over conditions and prices. In Russia, it is understood that too great dependence on China as a monopoly customer could create problems for itself. Such problems arose, for example, in 2003 with Turkey, which demanded that prices be lowered on gas that had already been supplied after laying the pipeline for the “Blue Stream.” In a situation of shifting imports of agricultural production from Europe to China, trade can grow but so too can dependence on China. It is recognized that China has its own relations with the West, cooperation with which is necessary for economic development. It will not undermine these for the sake of Russia’s interests. Rapidly developing, politically exceptional China poses a challenge for economically stagnant Russia, which sees new foreign policy activism of China arousing increased nationalism inside the country, including in the army.

All of this is understood in Moscow, and in other circumstances it is possible that Moscow would have acted more cautiously. In the Russian leadership and elite, there have always existed different approaches to China and the West. Even now calling for preservation of closer relations with the United States and the European Union are three groups: a post-Gaidar bloc in the government and circles close to it; officials and businessmen close to them who have major holdings and property in Europe and the United States; and representatives of the business elite who have serious business interests in the West (often representatives of these subgroups overlap). Another group favors a tougher course toward the West and more active Eurasian integration and ties with states of Asia. Putin maneuvers between these extremes, striving not to fully severe ties with the West (necessary for the economy), but simultaneously pursuing integration in the post-Soviet space and cooperation with Asia (especially with China, but also with South Korea, India, Iran, Turkey, and the states of ASEAN). Putin probably considers Russia to be an inalienable part of greater Europe (about which he not rarely has spoken); however, as part of an independent entity, not subordinate to a Euroatlantic political center, with interests that others have to take into account. In order to guarantee this independence, it will exert more energy for diversification of its foreign policy and foreign economic ties, including in the Eurasian and Chinese directions.

The anti-Russian course of the West seriously weakened the position of the pro-West group and strengthened its opponents. Removing the sanctions (which in the foreseeable future is extremely unlikely), would, to a degree, soften Russia’s policies, leading to strengthening of the pro-Western group and restoring ruptured relations somewhat. However, full restoration of the pre-Ukraine will not occur. First, the ties nourished with China and other Asian states have an irreversible character, and from the favorable contracts with Chinese partners nobody will pull back. Second, trust in Western partners has been seriously undermined; one could hardly want to conclude huge contracts with companies, which could for political reasons result in serious losses. Third, public opinion has fundamentally changed; a large share considers the United States and the European Union states antagonistic to Russia.

The general Russian strategy over the next 5-10 years will be determined by the factors identified above and the relative power among the various groups in the leadership, but, on the whole, a significant deepening of relations with China is unavoidable. The antagonistic policies of the West do not leave an alternative. The expansion of NATO to the east, the approach of its military structures to the border along with support for the anti-Russian radicals in Ukraine, who came to power through an anti-constitutional coup that was actively supported by the West only because they promised to withdraw Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence—all of this is a real and direct threat to the very existence of Russia. In conditions of policies of economic blackmail and an undisguised desire to force Russia to change its position on international questions, which it considers just, Moscow is left with no choice but to turn to Asia, first of all China. The sanctions have played a positive role, stimulating a long maturing process, which previously had been slowed by the inertia of elites accustomed to a western orientation.

Challenges from China in today’s situation are considered by Russian elites much less serious than those from the West. Russia can compensate by development of economic and political cooperation with other states of Asia, among them China’s neighbors, and by frank exchange of opinions with the Chinese, which proceeding in a spirit of cooperation, often takes Russian desires and fears into account.

Restoration of full-scale cooperation with the West is not in sight since mutual misunderstanding is too great and worldviews are increasingly at odds. In this situation, Russia must strive for some kind of variant of “peaceful coexistence.” This Soviet term can be interpreted as follows: 1) no discussion of conceptual questions since that only deepens disagreement as each side sticks to its opinion; 2) only questions about avoiding armed confrontation, e.g., the conditions for a ceasefire in Ukraine, and possible cooperation on international issues that pose a threat to Russia and the West, such as terrorism, are discussed; and 3) pragmatic negotiations are conducted on mutually beneficial trade, avoiding long-term projects, which could be used for political pressure. This kind of relations has existed already at least since the end of the 1970s between the West and China. Some sanctions applied by the West in 1989 remain in effect, and ideological discussions are useless on conceptual questions (such as on democracy). This does not interfere with wide-ranging economic cooperation; not a few problems and even mutual accusations occur, but they do not interfere with joint activity on an array of international problems. The alternative to “peaceful coexistence” would be a new Cold War, which periodically turns into armed conflict at the boundary zones of Russian strategic interests (of the Ukrainian type), and also in other regions of the world where Russian influence has been sustained. As for possible challenges and threats from China, which could arise with the growth in Chinese power and nationalism in its foreign policy, the following steps apply:

1) The development of Russia’s relations with Asia should not only rely on China; economic cooperation must quickly develop with other major powers of the region, including with states that have problems with China—India, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Iran, Turkey, and etc. 2) Since development of cooperation with allies of the United States in Asia is difficult at the current time, it is necessary to stress the restoration of traditional ties with former allies and geopolitical friends, such as Vietnam, India, and Iran. Also possible are closer political interactions with the DPRK, which is too much under the influence of Beijing, although economically this does not yield much. 3) Open discussion of Russian fears with the Chinese leadership is important. 4) Needed too is more economic integration with China, which leads to mutual, not one-sided dependence, through which worse relations would not be favorable to China as well as to Russia.

Russia and China drawing closer is a core example of the change under way in the geopolitical map of the world, sharply altering its paradigm development and how the West was able to behave in the entire period after the break-up of the USSR. Precisely as Dmitry Trenin noted, in place of “Greater Europe” from Lisbon to Vladivostok, which was proclaimed by Western leaders and Mikhail Gorbachev, beginning to take shape is “Greater Asia”15 or more precisely “Greater Eurasia” from Minsk to Shanghai. The basis of this unity, apart from Russo-Chinese strategic partnership, will be a range of international organizations and groups, each increasingly active and expanding against the background of the Ukrainian crisis.

The May 8 joint declaration on joining the construction of the EAEC and the SREB stated that the two sides would work jointly in bilateral and multilateral frameworks, above all the SCO. This document posed serious questions for the SCO, requiring concrete mechanisms of cooperation of the EAEC and the SREB with the SCO. Russian and Chinese experts are now working on this. In Russia, experts at the influential Valdai club are putting forward ideas for the leadership of both countries to adopt. In accordance with their proposals, the SCO should become the umbrella organization for coordination, which will significantly strengthen its economic role.

The decision in July at Ufa about the simultaneous entry into the SCO of India and Pakistan, both until now having observer status, fundamentally changes the SCO. Russia actively worked for this idea, but this step can pose problems: small ones, such as the need to add English as the third official language along with Russian and Chinese; and more serious ones. Will the organization lose its character and be less effective due to the need for decisions based on consensus? Many think that the European Union became much less effective due to its extreme expansion. Yet, the plusses of adding these two countries outweigh the minuses. The inclusion of India makes the SCO a more influential international organization, with which many will have to deal. Indeed, it will comprise, most of the non-Western world. The addition of a dynamically developing India can stimulate SCO economic projects, especially in Central Asia, with which India has deep, traditional ties.

As for another observer Iran, its entrance as a full member of the SCO in today’s international situation would be very desirable. First, Iran is conducting an independent foreign policy and can be an important partner of Russia and China in their effort to maintain their own independence and to oppose pressure by the West. Second, Iran, a most important energy exporter, can be an important economic partner. Third, it is one of the main forces opposing terrorist threats coming from ISIS. However, for admission the UN sanctions on it are an obstacle. In accord with the SCO criteria of membership, a state under such sanctions cannot be a member. Their removal, the decision about which was reached in the negotiations of the P5+1, could lead to Iran’s admission into the SCO in the near future.

The expansion of the SCO is heading also in other directions. In Ufa, the status of dialogue partner was received by Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Armenia, and Nepal (Turkey, Sri Lanka, and Belarus already have that status), and Belarus was moved from partner in dialogue to observer, in which status to this point were India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mongolia. Admission of India, Pakistan, and Iran can alter the agenda of the SCO from beyond the confines of Russo-Chinese cooperation in Central Asia.

A not insignificant role will be played by an increasingly active BRICS. Its role from the beginning has consisted of reforming the international financial system. Encountering decisive opposition from the West to its members’ aspirations to gain more influence in the IMF and World Bank, it has established its own financial institutions, a pool of currency reserves, and a development bank. Increasingly widening its activity, it can be seen as the main engine of reform in the system of global governance, which its members consider to be responding only to the interests of the West.

The above and other groups over time will comprise the system of Greater Eurasia, the states of which will not be tied by alliance relations, as are the United States and its European satellites. Some of them may turn to different centers of power; however, on the whole, they will form a unity, brought together by core interests. Precisely, this kind of democratic unity of Greater Europe could not be established by the United States and its allies. Attempting to subordinate every state to their dictates, they have united allies from most of Eastern Europe but lost Russia and Central Asia, and are increasingly antagonizing China and India, forcing them to draw closer to each other even in spite of significant contradictions. Only the future will tell who will succeed and who will not.


1. A.A. Khramchikhin, “Pekin Moskve—partner, no ne drug: Kitaiskii vektor ne dolzhen preobladat’ vo vneshnei politike Kremlia,” Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie, November 7, 2014,

2. V. Martyniuk, “Politicheskii soiuz Rossii i Kitaia neizbezhen, potomu chto vygoden obeim stranam,” KM.RU, May 19, 2014,

3. Pavel K. Baev, “Upgrading Russia’s Quasi-Strategic Pseudo-Partnership with China,” PONARS Eurasia, Policy Memo 337, August 2014,’s-quasi-strategic-pseudo-partnership-china.

4. Erik Brattberg and Bernardo Pires de Lima, “Confronting Moscow With the Help of Beijing: The West should exploit China-Russia asymmetries to avert an East-West confrontation,” The Diplomat, May 25, 2014,

5. Samuel Charap and Ely Ratner, “China: Neither Ally nor Enemy on Russia,” The National Interest, April 2, 2014,

6. Gilbert Rozman, “Asia for the Asians: Why Chinese-Russian Friendship Is Here To Stay,” Foreign Affairs, October 29, 2014,

7. Fedor Luk’ianov, “Konservatizm sblizhaet,”, November 11, 2014,

8. Roger T. Ames, “Cong Xifang gerenzhuyi xiang Rujia?” Renmin Ribao, November 11, 2014, 7.

9. Ming Jinwei, “Commentary: The West’s fiasco in Ukraine,”, July 3, 2014,

10. Ibid.

11. Dmitri Trenin, “From Greater Europe to Greater Asia? The Sino-Russian Entente,” Carnegie Moscow Center, April 2015, 5.

12. “Priamaia linia s Vladimirom Putinym,” April 17, 2014,

13. Natal’ia Skorlygina and Vladimir Dzaguto, “Kitai vol’etsia v Rossiiskuiu energosistemu: Sankhia mozhet kupit blokpaket ‘RAO ES Vostoka,” Kommersant Vlast’, November 21, 2014,

14. “RF i Kitai dogovorilis’ o ‘sostykovke’ proektov EAES i ‘Shelkovyi put’,” May 8, 2015,

15. Dmitri Trenin, “From Greater Europe to Greater Asia.”