“Hybrid War” is Bad for Business: Russia Seeks in Vain an Upgrade of its Quasi Alliance with China
This article examines the recent dynamics in the Russian-Chinese relations seeking to evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of the efforts launched by Moscow in the context of the Ukraine crisis, which at the moment of this writing in spring 2015 has entered into the second year of escalation. It starts with a brief outline of the geopolitical setting for this bilateral relationship and proceeds with a take on the personal relations between the two leaders (Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping), continuing further with the assessing the energy business that constitutes the main avenue of the evolving partnership. It then attempts to investigate the possible impact of Russia’s newly-strengthened dependency on China on the security situation in East Asia, and finally takes a closer look on the particular case involving interactions in the Arctic. Russia’s deteriorating economic situation affects profoundly its positions in the Asia-Pacific region, where economic performance is seen as the major criterion of political success. For the Chinese leadership, in particular, the political decision to sacrifice prospects for growth and modernization and to engage in a highrisk confrontation with the economically superior West is barely comprehensible. The strong preference for de-escalating the conflict and moving towards a compromise solution was clearly conveyed to Putin, and his persistence with using the “hybrid war” as the main instrument of politics hardly bodes well for advancing the partnership with China.