US, Russia And China Relations (Part 1)

By Joshua D. Glawson | @JoshuaDGlawson

Introduction: Relations between the US, Russia, and China have been persistently tumultuous, waxing and waning keeping each in an ongoing stalemate of sorts. Each of these countries is one of the five permanent seats in the United Nations, yet they each have continued to press their own agendas that sometimes conflict with one another. The relations between these States has commonly been referred to as “The Triangle,” often accompanied with other adjectives such as “Broken,” “Unbalanced,” “Turbulent,” “Unpredictable,” etc. Although the wording is blatantly pessimistic, it is not clear if the interrelations between these governments are bitter, sweet, or in fact bittersweet. Not only have each of these States worked together and continue in some forms of trade, but they have also held proxy wars against one another and continue to do so on a global scale. What can be clearly stated, are the facts of each of these countries and their trade relations between them, as well as each of their exponential militarization in pursuit of becoming or maintaining local and global hegemony.

US-Russia Relations: Russian President Putin and US President Trump both have a popular voice among those in their countries. This can have potential harm when both leaders are more focused on their own countries rather than relations between one another. On one hand, Putin is attempting to make Russia a world-leading power, while on the other hand, Trump is doing the same. However, Trump, as currently representing the US, has far more influence globally than Russia or Putin. Trump’s influence on NATO and the UN has pushed concern that the US is far more financially invested in these institutions compared to others in the world. In turn, if others begin spending more on military in their countries as a means to enrich their armed forces, this could lead to an arms race.

Unfortunately for US-Russian relations, on July 13th, 2018, twelve Russians were indicted for interfering with the 2016 US elections by hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) servers and emails, among other allegations against them. Those that were indicted were primarily agents of the Russian military intelligence agency, formerly known as the G.R.U., or the Main Directorate. This may have helped Trump to win the election unfairly and would be a sincere threat to federal elections in the future unless something is done to protect the system. Many in Congress, both Democrats, and Republicans, spoke out against Trump meeting with Putin in the coming days. They have a concern that if Trump were to meet with Putin and discuss US-Russian relations and not condemn the interference with US democratic procedures, it would be too close to treason and a sign that Trump was actually working directly with the Russian government to establish his position as US President.

On July 16th, 2018, that meeting between Trump and Putin occurred regardless of those in Congress and their growing concerns. In this meeting, the two leaders spoke of trade relations among other issues regarding the two countries’ unstable relationship. Putin apparently denied any allegations that Russia was involved in meddling with the 2016 US elections, and Trump openly accepted this statement. Trump went on to blame the US for the problems between the US and Russia, and in turn, began pointing to the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s missing servers and emails in which Trump believes proves that both the DNC and Ms. Clinton are guilty, not he. Nevertheless, both Trump and Putin seemed to leave the meeting with optimism that bettering US and Russian relations is possible and practical, as it would benefit both.

Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, responding to the meeting between the two Presidents saying, “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world. That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”

According to research data at MIT, in 2016, Russia exported around $12.3B worth of products to the US and imported around $6.83B from the US. “In 2016 Russia exported $269B, making it the 16th largest exporter in the world. During the last five years, the exports of Russia have decreased at an annualized rate of -11.2%, from $506B in 2011 to $269B in 2016. The most recent exports are led by Crude Petroleum which represents 28.1% of the total exports of Russia, followed by Refined Petroleum, which accounts for 16%.” While the US, in 2016, “exported $1.32T, making it the 2nd largest exporter in the world. During the last five years, the exports of the United States have decreased at an annualized rate of -0.8%, from $1.34T in 2011 to $1.32T in 2016.” However, the US, since former US President Obama, have maintained economic sanctions on Russia and Russian companies, preventing as much trade as possible. After the talks between Trump and Putin, a market may open between the two countries allowing more travel and exchange of goods and services. In the meantime, it is unclear as to the future between these States.

Sino-Soviet Split: The Sino-Soviet Split is what prompted the modern triangular relations between China, the US, and Russia, as a conflict over international relations. Initially, it was a series of discussions between US Presidents Eisenhower, Nixonand his associates, Chinese Communists Leaders Peng Zhen and Mao Zedong, and USSR’s Leader Khrushchev among others. In 1962, the split between China and the Soviets began when Mao spoke out against Khrushchev for backing down in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Khrushchev openly held that Mao’s policies could potentially lead to an all-out nuclear war. In 1965, Mao severed all relations between China and the USSR and attempted total isolation for China’s entirety. By 1970, Mao was left with a decision to attempt easing tensions growing between China and Russia, as well as internal issues of conflict in China. So, Mao decided to reach out to the US in order to mediate relations between China and the USSR. Finally, in 1971, Nixon’s security adviser, Henry Kissinger, held a secret meeting with the Chinese government in Beijing. After catching wind of the meeting, the Soviets also held a meeting, but with Nixon himself. This series of events and meetings established the eschewed and tattered Triangle between the US, China, and Russia.

Since these events, each of the countries has perpetually sought their best interests, fought as friend and foe, while simultaneously maintained relative peace given the series of situations they have each been part of.

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