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Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities
Study: The Sino-Russian and US-Russian Relationships: current developments and future trends

Government Communications Department 12.12.2018 9.57
Press release 596/2018

Key changes in the Sino-Russian and US-Russian relationships can have significant consequences for the global balance of power and the international order at large. A report published today shows how vulnerable the recently deepened Sino-Russian relationship is as it represents a joint reaction towards the US hegemony rather than a deep strategic alliance.

The relationship is imbalanced and relies on Chinese self-restraint. The relationship between the US and Russia again suffers from a long-term structural problem as the US refuses to recognise the great power status, which Russia is longing for. Both relationships include important uncertainties as factors related to regime succession might decisively affect their future direction.

The Sino-Russian relationship has deepened during the past few years with cooperation in energy policy and military security in its core. The cooperation corresponds to the strategic needs of China, which has the upper hand in defining its future. Both great powers engage in their own regional projects in Central Asia, the Chinese Silk Road Project and the Russian-led Eurasian Union. Thus far an open competition between them has been avoided. Whilst China and Russia share a common interest in safeguarding their authoritarian political systems from Western values, their approaches to the Western led international order differ. This creates a key obstacle for any far-reaching alliance between them.

The relationship between the US and Russia has been constantly deteriorating after the end of the Cold War due to very different expectations about the relationship. The person factor forms an important determinant: the Donald Trump presidency was expected to respond to the long-term Russian demands on bargaining with Russia. The domestic controversies on Russian election hacking have, however, made the future of this relationship increasingly unpredictable. Taking the key driving forces into account it is less likely to change in the near future than the Sino-Russian relationship.

This publication is part of implementing the Government’s plan for analysis, assessment and research in 2018 (www.tietokayttoon.fi).

Link to the report

Additional information: Director Teija Tiilikainen, Finnish Institute of International Affairs, p. 09 432 7701, teija.tiilikainen@fiia.fi