The Perfect Imbalance of the Sino-Russian Relationship

May 2022 No Comments

Speaker(s): Bērziņa-Čerenkova, U. (Head of the Political Science Doctoral Programme & Director of the China Studies Centre, Riga Stradins University, Latvia)

Date: 7 June 2022

Speaker Session Summary

SMA hosted a speaker session with Dr. Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova (Head of the Political Science Doctoral Programme & Director of the China Studies Centre, Riga Stradins University, Latvia) as part of its SMA EUCOM / INDOPACOM Speaker Series.

Russia and China are working to maintain a politically unified posture to weaken the United States’ and NATO’s global influence; however, their unified posture is sometimes contradictory to their actions. Dr. Bērziņa-Čerenkova commented that a formal Sino-Russian alliance is unlikely. Instead, their partnership will continue to remain mostly symbolic and with the purpose of weakening Western democracies’ global influence. For example, Putin spoke at the latest Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) summit to show his support for China’s economic projects. He spent most of his time espousing the virtues of Russia’s own economic initiative: the Eurasian Economic Union. Also, while China supports Russia’s narrative that NATO forced Russia to invade Ukraine as a security measure, Xi is rejecting Putin’s narrative that Ukraine is governed by Nazis. China and Russia also have contradictory geopolitical interests relating to India and their overall approach to the international order. Russia frequently acts as a spoiler while China seeks to alter the already existing order to its benefit, argued Dr. Bērziņa-Čerenkova.

China’s and Russia’s mutual competition with the US and NATO will continue to act as the cornerstone of their relationship. Dr. Bērziņa-Čerenkova commented that NATO is often the difference between life and death for smaller European countries. She also stated that Russia and China do not pose the same threat to the West. Russia is considered the more immediate and existential threat to Western democracies and countries’ sovereignty. Also, the United States’ response to Russia’s aggression in Eastern Europe does not have to be unilateral with NATO for success. 

Speaker Session Recording

Briefing Materials


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