Facing sanctions from the West for its actions in Ukraine earlier this year, including the annexation of Crimea and supporting Ukrainian separatists, Russia will increasingly turn to China for its military and aerospace components. According to a RIA Novosti report citing a Russian-language report by Izvestia, “Russian aerospace and military-industrial enterprises will purchase electronic components worth several billion dollars from China.” The information is based on a source “close to Roscosmos, Russia’s Federal Space Agency.”
According to the Roscomos source: “[Russia does] work with the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) … Its institutions have already offered us a few dozen items, representing a direct alternative to, or slight modifications of the elements [Russia] will no longer be able to acquire because of the sanctions introduced by the United States.” Currently, Russia’s extensive military and aerospace industries do not source their components in China. “Over the next two, two-and-a-half years, until Russian manufacturers put the necessary space and military electronic components into production, plans call for the purchase of such items from China amounting to several billion dollars,” the source adds.
Additionally, according to Andrei Ionin, chief analyst at GLONASS Union, “establishing large-scale cooperation with Chinese manufacturers could become the first step toward forming a technology alliance involving BRICS member states.”
If Russia is indeed looking to China for military and aerospace components, it further signals that the Beijing-Moscow relationship continues to tilt in the former’s favor. The recent $400 billion natural gas deal between the two sides also showed another aspect of the changing dynamics in bilateral relations. Reports suggest that Moscow acquiesced to Beijing’s price demands in order to seal a 30-year deal.
Moreover, while Western sanctions will drive Russia and China closer together, they are not the only reason for the strategic convergence between these two countries. Both Russia and China have increased their cooperation in recent years and work together at international forums, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Under the latest round of E.U. and U.S. sanctions over the ongoing Ukraine conflict, Russian financial institutions, defense firms, and energy companies are increasingly isolated on a global scale.