عنوان مقاله [English]
The status of Russia has always been dual in terms of geography and culture, that is, it is sometimes called Asian and sometimes European. China and Russia have had ups and downs in their bilateral relations; both countries have fought several wars with each other the 19th century, in all of which China was defeated. With the happening of the Communist Revolution in China in 1949, relations between the two communist powers improved. Over the time, however, they became each other’s enemies once again in a manner that 20 years after China’s revolution in 1969 the two entered territorial battles with each other. During those years and in response to growing threats from the Soviet Union, China revised its relationship with the US and managed to open its doors towards the West in economic and political aspects. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, China and Russia saw the promotion of cooperation in their relations. But their interactions with each other have not been in a way to include strategic dimensions and turn into an alliance against the West. For example, both countries were involved in the founding of the Shanghai Pact, one of whose aims was to counteract Western influence or that both countries have significant military exchanges. In the economic field too, they have increased their level of cooperation, with Russia being China's main energy supplier. In many cases, both countries also share common positions against the West. Under such circumstances, it is to be seen how Russia will face the increasing growth of Chinese power. The importance of examining the relations between these two governments is since both of them are among the powers in the international system. The main question in this study is how the Russian reaction would be in the event of a dispute with China. The hypothesis to justify the abovementioned question is that Russia has major disagreements with China in the region of the Far East and Central Asia, and as a result of these emerging differences, Russia, due to its inability to defend its extensive borders, will have to compromise with a low priority threat, i.e., the West. For a better and more tangible understanding of the hypothesis, we follow the reactions of both countries in relatively similar historical situations to better grasp the likelihood of a Russian reaction. Theoretical explanation of this issue is made within the framework of the balance of threat theory and based on which it is concluded that Russia eventually re-conquers Westernism itself, not specifically as the tactical and temporary co-operation with the West, but a strategic and sustainable alliance with it.
Russia is a country that has always felt insecure because of the geopolitical situation that the country has been located in. It has a vast territory and for this reason it cannot easily defend its long borders against foreign attacks. This geographic challenge is exacerbated for Russia when the country’s population is also declining. Russian history shows that one of the most vulnerable situations in which the country could fall into is when Russia has to fight military clashes on both the eastern and western fronts simultaneously. Under such circumstances, Russia has always had to approach the side that it considered to be less threatening. In such a two-front-battle scenario, a confrontation between China and Russia could pave the way for Russia to incline towards the West. According to the theory of the balance of threat, such a conflict may not be due solely to a shift in the distribution of world power in favor of China, but rather to other factors, including geographical proximity and aggressive intentions that play important roles here. Imagine, for example, that China is present in Latin America or Africa. In such a case, its growing power could not have been considered a threat to Russia.
The top priority of Russian foreign policy has been its border regions as well as its periphery, which is what could make China a potential threat to Russia. Shifting the distribution of power in favor of China, rather than playing a role in threatening Russia, could affect on Russia's and the West's convergence with China because since then and unlike the 1990s, the West cannot ignore the power of Russia now. Therefore, the confrontation between Russia and China forces Russia to answer the question of whether it is a European country or rather an Asian one. As mentioned, Russia's need for the West is not only to reduce pressure on its western borders to focus on its eastern borders, but also for increasing the population of its eastern regions to curb Chinese influence on a variety of fields such as technology, capital, or even European immigrants needs. Russia can no longer create opportunity for itself by playing the parties involved and has to incline towards the West. Russia's inclination towards the West can be either due to the persistent threat posed by China, or it may be due to the Russian people's changing identity towards Europeanization. Although the first factor seems to be sufficient for Russia to reconsider its relations with the West, if this issue is to be accompanied by changing Russia’s mindset towards the West, not only will it pave the way towards the West, it will also make relations between Russia and the West stronger and more stable.