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Russia’s new friends

The crises in Crimea and Ukraine are the two most recent events, which have widened the gap between the West and Russia. Russia has been criticized in international fora such as the European Union and the recent G20 summit in Australia. Russian involvement in the Syrian crisis has also been frowned upon.

In light of all these developments Russia has constructed new alliances with two Asian giants; China and India. 2014 saw a series of big-ticket agreements between Russia and China as well as Russia and India. For example Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a $400 billion pact, which would provide China with a fifth of their gas needs. Russia has already made a wide variety of agreements with India, ranging from consultation between the two foreign ministries on as many as 17 issues including Asia-Pacific to West Asia to West Europe to Latin America, as also at various multilateral fora such as UN, G20, BRICS, SCO, RIC. With these three powers on the same side, the international political arena has the potential to undergo a major transformation.

In the agreement between Russia and China in May 2014, China was promised 30 billion cubic metres of gas over the next 30 years. India too has increased its cooperation with Russia and has, for example, been supportive of Russia’s position in Ukraine against all odds. Between China and India, even though there are border disputes, they have also taken steps to improve bilateral relations between them. For example according to a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson: “After timely, effective communication, the relevant situation has already been appropriately bought under control. Border issues are leftover issues from history.”

These new alliances might be a cause of worry for the NATO powers because it puts Russia in a better bargaining position vis-a-vis NATO. Instead of being isolated against the NATO allies, Russia will have India and China backing its position, if not in NATO, in other multinational organizations. The three powers are also placed in a strategically advantageous way forming almost a counter balance to the West. However, instead of forming an alliance against the West this could also have a positive outcome as China and India can act as intermediaries between Russia and the West.

Nonetheless, Russia, China and India all have much to gain, especially economically by increasing the volume of trade amongst each other.

Saad Shah
Saad Shah is currently enrolled in a specialist program in International Relations and a major in Russian language and literature at the University of Toronto. He has a special interest in the affairs of the Arctic countries and Russian foreign policy, especially in relation to Canada. His studies in International Relations and Russian language provide him with a better understanding of politics in Eastern Europe and its impact on Canada and its allies. Being a citizen of Pakistan he also takes an interest in the international affairs of South Asia and Middle East. Saad is an aspiring lawyer and has experience working in a law firm. He hopes to gain significant experience before applying to law school. ​​