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Russia Draws Closer to China

The Ukraine war gives a boost to Russia’s long-planned pivot to the East.

(Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Shutterstock)

On May 24, while President Joe Biden was on official visit to Tokyo, a group of Russian and Chinese bombers flew a joint patrol over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. The exercise did not proceed without drama. The war planes passed through Japan and South Korea’s air-defense identification zones, prompting both countries to scramble their fighter jets. 

More significant was the geopolitical subtext of the exercise. Five months after sending its troops into Ukraine, Russia has found itself more estranged from the West than anytime since the height of the Cold War. Sanctions have severed most of the financial, technological, and logistical links between Russia and the West. Simultaneously, the Biden administration has funneled significant military aid to Ukraine and vowed to bolster U.S. troop presence in Eastern Europe over the long run.