Russian Strategic Visits Signal Strengthening Anti-Western Alliance With China and Iran 

Recent high-profile meetings reinforce economic and military ties amid shifting global power dynamics and escalating Middle Eastern tensions 

By Veronica Neifakh/The Media Line 

Alexander Novak, Russia’s deputy prime minister, announced last week that, after several years of negotiations, the Power of Siberia 2 pipeline from Russia to China may soon be inaugurated, strengthening the ties between the two countries. 

Novak is currently with a delegation in China, hoping to finalize an agreement. He was in China in December for a round of talks following Vladimir Putin’s visit to President Xi Jinping in October 2023.  

Moreover, Iran is increasingly part of the cooperation strategy in the energy field. In October 2023, Alexey Miller, CEO of Gazprom, Russia’s largest energy supplier, which holds 15% of the global gas supply, visited Iran.  

Economically, China, Russia, and Iran are working to reduce dependency on the US dollar, even considering alternative financial systems. Circumventing Western sanctions is another item on their shared agenda, leading to technology transfers that enhance their collective defense capabilities.  

Militarily, China and Russia signed a Road Map for Military Cooperation in 2021 and engaged in several joint military exercises in 2022 and 2023. Iran already had a strategic cooperation with China that was expanded in 2021, and the Ukraine war has led to Russian-Iranian exchanges of military equipment and technology.  

A new stage in cooperation may have opened when the three nations engaged in trilateral military exercises in the Gulf of Oman in March 2024.  

Diplomatically, Moscow and Beijing often support each other in international forums, presenting a united front against Western-led proposals like the 2022 UN resolution to tighten sanctions on North Korea.  

Recently, both Russia and China have criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza, aligning with Iran, a supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah. 

As these alliances deepen, the geopolitical landscape is being reshaped. The Media Line spoke to top experts on geopolitics and Chinese-Russian relations to gain meaningful insights into strengthening this anti-Western alliance, including effects on the war in the Middle East and upcoming elections in America. 

Alexey Maslov, director of the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Moscow State University, told The Media Line, “The essence of recent meetings is the pivot of Russian policy toward Asian countries, particularly in oil and gas policies.” 

He noted that during 2023, Russia significantly increased the oil and gas supplied to China—for example, 107 million tons of oil, a 24% increase from the previous year. The total value of these supplies increased by 3.5% year-on-year. 

“Although this is not substantial growth, it is growth nonetheless. Meanwhile, China is demanding very large discounts on gas, which leads to another link: Russia-Iran,” he shared. 

Maslov explained that Russia is now trying to replicate with China and Iran what it previously did with Europe, namely, tying them to its oil and gas supplies. 

“For Iran, this is advantageous from a general political context because not many countries are real and serious partners for Iran. From an economic perspective, these countries have found each other,” he said. 

However, Maslov was more dubious on the new pipeline issue: “We have not seen any movement from the Chinese side regarding constructing Power of Siberia-2. Additionally, we see a not very constructive position from Mongolia, through which Power of Siberia-2 is supposed to pass.” 

Doron Ella, assistant professor in the School of Political Science at the University of Haifa, told The Media Line that Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are converging in their interests.  

“I think when you look at it from a general perspective, they both want to dethrone the US in the long term and to actually change the liberal international order that the United States established after World War II and the Cold War,” he said.  

Ella emphasized that Russia and China want the liberal international order to acknowledge their rising power. 

“The war in Ukraine and the war in Gaza all serve both of their aims. China wants to be perceived by the world and mostly by the global South as a responsible major power that wants to promote global peace and economic stability,” he shared.  

Maslov, however, suggested that China, which focuses on trade mercantilism as the basis of its relations, is losing meaningful systemic connections—with Europe due to the war in Ukraine and with Israel due to the war in Gaza.  

“China successfully developed relations with both Israel and Palestine. With Israel, there were connections in the fields of science and technology. China did not anticipate these two points of conflict. Therefore, it is extremely important for China to establish a truce in any form,” Maslov explained. 

Ella explained that while China relied on Russia for energy, China was a supplier of many goods for Russia, specifically dual-use equipment and merchandise. “That allows Russia to continue its war against Ukraine,” he added.  

Both countries want to demonstrate stable, growing relations. In particular, for China, trade is creating “a convenient international environment for China to become a true global power besides other medium powers, such as Russia,” he said.  

Ella pointed to evidence in the multilateral forums that China and Russia have established.  

“For example, the BRICS. We saw several Middle Eastern members who joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, established by Russia and China in the early 2000s. It’s expanded as Iran, Pakistan, and India have joined. It’s no longer a small block of several countries. It shows China’s political clout and that Russia is still in the game of international affairs,” Ella explained.  

According to Maslov, the growing anti-Western alliance currently has no impact on the upcoming elections in America. 

“The issue is different. If we see an obvious failure on the part of the U.S. in the Middle East region, it will certainly be a severe blow to the presidential campaign,” he emphasized. 

Ella explained that the elections in the United States have primarily focused on domestic issues and a little bit less on foreign affairs.  

“However, as we saw with the Gaza War, foreign affairs and US foreign policy have become more important for the citizens of the United States and how they perceive their leaders. I think that such foreign affairs will have an effect, but not specifically the China-Russia actions,” he said.

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