On the most basic level, the interests of Putin’s Russia are more aligned with those of China than with those of the United States, and the prospect of a deeper and more enduring U.S.-China confrontation will enhance the importance of that entente in both Beijing and Moscow. By many measures, the Sino-Russian relationship is one-sided. Nevertheless, Russian officials and analysts emphasize that they do not see China as a threat. However one-sided the relationship, Moscow appreciates that Beijing—in contrast to Washington and its European allies— regards Vladimir Putin as a legitimate partner and does not pose a threat to regime security. It is therefore hard to envision a scenario in which Russia backs U.S. efforts against China, or even adopts a posture of benevolent neutrality.
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Dr. Jeffrey Mankoff is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Center for Strategic Research at National Defense University.