China, Russia, India: unique tripartite powers

China Military Online
Li Wei
2021-08-06 17:40:10

By Zhang Hong

Recently, Russia is busy having joint military exercises with China and India respectively. These exercises, reported by Russian media, reflect new changes in Moscow’s diplomatic policy and are strategically significant.

The relation between Russia and the West has kept deteriorating since Biden took office. The US has not only besieged Russia in military but also frequently interfered in its internal affairs on the excuse of human rights, freedom and democracy. Therefore, Russia attached more importance to its eastward diplomacy, especially the relations with Asian countries like China and India.

After the Ukraine crisis in 2014, the US-led NATO, seeing Russia as a chief security threat, has held frequent large-scale military exercises around the country and provided military assistance to Ukraine, further complicating the geo-security environment in east Europe. In response to the West’s military challenges, Moscow began to strengthen military interactions with partners like Beijing and New Delhi, and held regular joint exercises to demonstrate its military strengths and enhance its ability to deal with regional security crises.

Specifically speaking, first, the joint military exercises are aimed at enhancing Russia's influence as a major power. Due to the Biden administration, the economic collaboration between Russia and the European Union (EU) gradually sees cracks and more doubts on the Russia emerge within the EU.

To fight against the West's security pressure and diplomatic isolation, Putin decided to strengthen the ties with the East, and consolidating the relations with China and India is a key part. Russia unveiled its new National Security Strategy in July, which explicitly displayed the close attention paid by Russia to its relations with China and India, as it stressed the importance of "forming a reliable mechanism of regional stability and security guarantee in the Asia Pacific on the basis of non-alliance". The separate joint military exercises with China and India will help Russia break the strategic containment and diplomatic isolation imposed by the West.

Second, the joint military exercises can showcase Russia’s military strengths. After the end of the Cold War, Russia inherited the advanced military industry from the Soviet Union, which was the most solid material foundation for maintaining its position as a major country. Since Biden took office, NATO continued to expand eastward and began to approach the Crimea peninsula, driving bilateral relations to the verge of war. On June 23, British warships entered Russia's littoral waters for patrol regardless of warnings issued by the Russian military, which then fired shells to warn the intruders.

The pressure from NATO has prompted Moscow to not only accelerate its military modernization but also intensify the interaction with strategic partners including China and India. The joint military exercise is a key part of the military collaboration among strategic partners as well as an important way of showcasing Russia's military strengths and deterring the enemy from taking any risk. During the Indo-Russia joint military exercise, Exercise INDRA 2021, Moscow displayed its latest naval frigates and combined assault capability. Russian media also reported that their Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has been invited to view the exercise in Ningxia, China. The two exercises reflect new dynamics in Russia’s diplomacy and demonstrate its capability of strategic coordination with China and India.

Third, the joint military exercises will help resist American hegemonism. After the Cold War, the US, leveraged on its economic, technological and military strengths, has not only tried to force its values upon other countries and blatantly interfered in the internal affairs of other sovereign states through unilateral sanction, but has also overthrown foreign regimes through military means.

As member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO), Russia, China and India are all important forces in safeguarding world peace and multilateralism. We’ve always advocated respecting the UN’s dominant position in international affairs, and opposed major countries interfering in others’ internal affairs on the excuse of human rights and security and forcing their political systems and values on others. No other international organizations, much less military alliances, can shake the UN’s lead over international affairs. The best way to prevent the US from military interference is to enhance our own military capabilities, expand the influence of multilateralism and fortify the resistance against America’s hegemonism and unilateralism through strategic collaboration with partners.

China and India have made united efforts to effectively control their divergences despite their territorial disputes. The two countries share similar stances on preserving regional peace and promoting a multilateral international order. Russia’s balanced strategic cooperation with them in a way boosts the tripartite strategic stability and makes the strategic interaction possible.

(The author is a researcher at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European & Central Asian Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

Editor's note: This article is originally published on, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of


Related News