Special Forum

Russia’s relations with China have steadily improved for about twenty years after a brief, strong, pro-Western tilt in Russian foreign policy right after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992.1 The weakening political position of the Gaidar government by late 1992 and the defeat of pro-Western liberal parties Russia’s Choice and Yabloko in the 1993 parliamentary elections were correlated with the emergence of a more balanced Russian foreign policy between the West and China. Both countries’ elites view the alliance period of the 1950s and the split in relations in the 1960s-1970s as historical anomalies that do not meet each other’s interests in the contemporary period. On the one hand, while both contested aspects of what they negatively viewed as US aspirations of unipolarity in the first two decades after the Soviet collapse, there was never serious interest in either country in a full-blown security alliance. On the other hand, they also view a breakdown in relations, as occurred with the Sino-Soviet split, as something to be avoided that would only redound to the benefit of the United States.

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