Combined military might of Russia and China will approach, but not overtake the United States (report)

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According to a new Rand Report from the company.

The authors of the report describe the growing relationship between Beijing and Moscow as a relationship of pragmatism and based on “a balance” against “the hard and soft power of the United States.” Moreover, China and Russia share a desire to counter a perceived American ideology of “militarism, interventionism and the forced imposition of American values ​​on other countries.”

Relations between China and Russia have gradually developed and grown closer over the course of two decades, according to the report. When Beijing and Moscow launched their first joint “field exercise” in 2003, it signaled that the two countries had moved from a relationship based on “calculation” to one of “cooperation”.

Between 2012-2017, China and Russia strengthened their relationship from “cooperation” to “collaboration” largely because of “Western sanctions”. In particular, following the sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014 due to the annexation of Crimea, Moscow has pursued “much closer ties” with Beijing.

Key to this improved relationship has been the “15-year military cooperation plan” signed by the two sides in 2002, which “expanded the supply of military equipment, technology licenses and joint research and development”. Although the total amount of equipment is not shown in the report, during this period China gained access to Russian “high-end” systems such as the Su-27 and Su-30 aircraft, guided missile destroyers and technical assistance. which included Russian scientists working in Chinese defense factories.

The authors expect this collaboration to continue and suggest that Beijing and Moscow increase interoperability between their armed forces only through joint training and equipment exchanges. The “hands-on collaboration” between the Chinese and Russian military has become routine, while the depth and scope of joint exercises have gradually become more complex since the first exercise in 2003.

As the United States rushed to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, in August Moscow and Beijing held large-scale joint exercises in China for the first time. These exercises “reflected a ‘new level’ of military cooperation” between the two nations, according to the Associated Press.

The authors of the report suggest that one way to restore the relationship between the two main global competitors of the United States would be to reduce Western sanctions against the two nations. If this is done, “Russia could seek to strengthen its relations with Europe and the United States”, which could lead to “the weakening or decline of Sino-Russian relations”.

However, this type of policy change is described as “probably unwanted” and unlikely. In the absence of these policy changes in Washington, the report’s authors say that, in particular, military relations between Moscow and Beijing will continue to develop, presenting an increasingly significant challenge to the United States on the stage. global.

“With little, other than a significant policy change, that the US government can do to disrupt growing China-Russia relations, the report’s authors suggested the US military prepare for greater cooperation. between Beijing and Moscow.

“The US military can prepare for the results of greater Sino-Russian cooperation, including expecting increased dissemination of Chinese and Russian military equipment, additional joint planning and exercises, at a base joint potential and, possibly, the possibility of joint military operations, ”the report said. concludes.

James R. Webb is a rapid response reporter for Military Times. He served as an infantryman in the US Navy in Iraq. In addition, he worked as a legislative assistant in the US Senate and as an integrated photographer in Afghanistan.


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