As relations between Russia and most of the western world have been irreparably severed over the last year, Moscow’s economic cooperation and diplomacy toward China has only become more robust. That relationship has played a large role in undermining US sanctions on Russia and enhanced military cooperation with China could stretch American military resources even more thinly if the country does not recommit to expanding and strengthening its defense industry.
The US has recently become more defensive in the Pacific, particularly within Taiwan and the South China Sea, which could lead to even greater tensions between itself and China. Lines of communication between defense ministers in either country have been mostly cut off over the past month, following the downing of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that flew over the US mainland in January.
Related ETF: SPDR S&P Aerospace & Defense ETF (XAR)
Amid near-constant escalation of hostilities in Eastern Europe, other threats to American interests and allies looms large in Asia. Worse, those two fronts in the US’s struggle to maintain its geopolitical hegemony are now threatening to come together and become closer than they ever have before.
As MRP highlighted last week, US President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to honor the one year anniversary of their resistance to the ongoing Russian invasion. Nearly simultaneously, China’s top diplomat and President Xi Jinping’s top foreign policy adviser, Wang Yi, was touching down in Moscow for an in-person meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. That summit was publicly touted as a mostly economic foray, where Wang and Putin boasted about rapidly rising bilateral trade between the two countries, which is expected to attain a value $200 billion this year, up from $185 billion in 2022. However, the US State Department has expressed concerns that China’s warming toward Russia may be a precursor to providing arms to be used in the Russo-Ukraine war, an unprecedented situation for Washington, who would be forced to respond harshly.
Wang’s visit likely foreshadows a visit to Moscow by Xi in the near future. A trip to Moscow by the Chinese leader is a significant prospect, considering Xi held an in-person meeting with Putin in February 2022 just before Russia initiated its “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine. Today, Belarus’s President, and a close Putin ally, Alexander Lukashenko, will be visiting Beijing and meeting with Xi in person. Lukashenko allowed Russian troops to use Belarus to stage their initial incursion into Ukraine last year, called up elements of the Belarusian military for training exercises with mobilized Russian military personnel over the past several months, and has said that Belarus would be “ready to wage war, alongside the Russians, from the territory of Belarus”, if there were an armed Ukrainian incursion into the country. Beyond that, the Belarusian government has announced the country’s defense industry is ready to kick off the manufacturing of Sukhoi Su-25 ground-attack aircraft – jets capable of carrying tactical atomic weapons.
The timing of the Lukashenko visit is significant, considering some of the top brass in China’s military has recently cut its communications with the US. Earlier this month, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told…
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