The Sino-Russian military relations: why not yet an alliance? A neoclassical realist approach



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Tartu Ülikool


The Sino-Russian military relations have attracted a great deal of attention since the 21st century. They have strengthened into a strategic military partnership but did not evolve into a full military alliance. The goal of this paper is to analyse how has the international environment pushed Russia and China to improve their military relations, and to underline which factors prevented the formation of a full military alliance. This study relies on the neoclassical realist theory, considered to be a relevant theory to explain foreign policy behaviours. The Russian-Chinese military relations are explored through different indicators such as arms trade, military exercises, top brass meetings and border relations. The paper then analyses the international systemic factors that reunited Russia and China. It then goes down to the unit level of analysis to underline the factors that prevented a Sino-Russian official military alliance. These factors are the disagreement between Russian elites, the persistent security concerns from the Russian government and the security issues in Central Asia. They explain the current ambivalence in the Sino-Russian military relations.