Are China and Russia getting too friendly?

Opinions about events beyond our borders.
July 12 2006 6:30 AM

Neighborly Love

Are China and Russia getting too friendly?

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Finally, Russia has received so little from the United States in return for its cooperation that many Russian officials now wonder openly why it should continue. The two sides continue to share intelligence on the terrorist threat that plagues them both. But NATO has expanded across Eastern Europe into the territory of the former Soviet Union. Washington has scrapped the ABM treaty; supported pro-Western political forces in Georgia, Ukraine, and Belarus; criticized Putin's consolidation of domestic political power; condemned the role Russia's state-owned energy firms play in former Soviet republics; and delayed the country's accession into the World Trade Organization.

Many in the Kremlin argue that Moscow has gained nothing from accommodating Washington beyond creation of the moribund NATO-Russia Council and a U.S.-Russian "energy dialogue" that Moscow may no longer need. That's why Kremlin officials have brushed aside U.S. complaints about April's $120 million weapons sale to Venezuela and Moscow's opposition to sanctions on Iran—Russia's biggest arms and civilian nuclear client.

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During next weekend's G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Western leaders will have an opportunity to ease some of the strains burdening Russia's relations with the United States and European Union. Though the meeting offers them nothing like the opportunity Nixon seized to widen the distance between Moscow and Beijing, any meaningful reaffirmation of shared interests could mend a few fences. But if Putin's G8 counterparts have nothing tangible to offer him, Moscow may well turn toward other, potentially more profitable, partnerships—and newfound friends in Beijing.

Ian Bremmer is president of the Eurasia Group, a global political risk consultancy, and author of the bookThe J Curve: A New Way To Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall.