Expect a War Between Russia and China in the 2020s
But whatever Putin means by “strategic interaction,” and despite the undeniable progress in Sino-Russian relations over the past decade, it is easy to fall into the trap of exaggerating what some fear is an emerging Sino-Russian “axis” in world politics. Notwithstanding the Xi-Putin friendship and the growing congruence of both countries’ interests in undermining the US-led international order, relations between Russia and China remain at their core as brittle and prone to mutual suspicion and distrust as they have in the past.
It is, after all, only 50 years since the two Eurasian giants nearly stumbled into a cataclysmic war following a series of unprovoked Chinese attacks on Soviet troops garrisoned along the then-contested river boundaries in Russia’s Far East. Although Moscow stayed its hand from an all-out military assault on China, the border clashes of 1969 continue to rankle historical memories and military thinking in Russia to this day.