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US Experts Consider China a Shifting and India a Stable Friend to Russia

by Arik Burakovsky, Dina Smeltz, and Brendan Helm

October 2020

With both Russia and China facing increasingly confrontational relations with the United States, the two countries have increased ties with each other and have pursued similar approaches in opposition to the US government concerning Iran, Syria, and Venezuela. Steve Biegun, US Deputy Secretary of State, recently characterized the developing relationship between Russia and China as one built on “mutual determination to challenge the United States.”

To better understand how experts think about Russia’s relations with the other great powers, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs recently conducted a survey of 201 American experts on Russia. The survey finds that a majority describe the relationship between Russia and China today as one of mostly partnership. They also describe India as primarily a partner to Russia, both today and in the future. By contrast, they say that Russian relations with the United States and the European Union are mostly competitive. But they anticipate that in 20 years, rivalry between Russia and China will grow, perhaps creating space for reducing tensions with the United States.

Key Findings:

  • A majority (68%) of experts believe Russia and China are currently mostly partners. Opinions on whether this trend will continue in 20 years are mixed, with 49 percent of experts saying they will remain mostly partners and 46 percent saying they will be mostly rivals.
  • India is seen by experts as even more likely (78%) than China to be mostly partners with Russia. Experts see this trend continuing two decades from now, with 76% predicting they will stay mostly partners.
  • While experts currently see Russia and the EU as more rivals (84%) than partners (14%), they predict that ties between Russia and the EU will thaw and that they will be more partners (54%) than rivals (39%) in 20 years. One reason for this prediction is the belief held by most experts (57%) that EU sanctions will be removed within the next decade.
  • Nearly all experts (96%) believe the United States and Russia to be mostly rivals. A slightly lower majority predict that they will remain mostly rivals 20 years from now.

Read the full report here.

This piece is republished from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

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