Russian Perspectives on China’s New Silk Road Vision (Why) Does Moscow Support the BRI? | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


Many Russian analysts and officials recognize that the expansion of Chinese influence through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) represents a fundamental, long-term challenge. Yet cooperation between Moscow and Beijing in the regions encompassed by the BRI appears to be increasing at the institutional, economic, and diplomatic levels. Russian reactions to the BRI have gone through three phases: immediately following Xi Jinping’s September 2013 proclamation of the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Russian analysts and commentators were mostly critical of the initiative, which they portrayed as incompatible with Moscow’s own vision for Eurasian integration. Russian reactions pivoted following the March 2014 annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of war with Ukraine, when the prospect of sustained confrontation with the U.S. and its European allies made Chinese support critical. Subsequently, Russian analysts and thinkers—followed by policy makers—developed new ideas for reconciling the BRI with Russia’s own Eurasian ambitions, leading to sustained efforts at coordinating or integrating the EEU with the BRI. By 2019-20, a new debate broke out over Russia’s relationship to the BRI as well as Sino-Russian relations more generally. This new debate centers on the extent to which Russia’s embrace of the BRI remains consistent with Russia’s great power ambitions in Eurasia and beyond. Scrutiny over the BRI could intensify if and when the ongoing crisis between Russia and the West eventually stabilizes.


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