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Medvedev on the Defensive

Dmitry Medvedev struck a defensive tone during his Saturday press briefings in Beijing:

”Some don’t like such strategic cooperation between our countries, but we understand that this cooperation serves the interests of our people, and we will strengthen it, regardless of whether others like it or not,” the Russian leader said. ”Russian-Chinese relations are one of the most important factors of maintaining stability in modern conditions.”

Making veiled jabs at the United States during these kinds of meetings is par for the course, and not anything we should be very concerned about. However it strikes me that I can’t think of anybody who has publicly complained about Russia-China ties. Is there a State department gaffe I haven’t heard of yet? Russia is perfectly free to develop relations and pursue its interests abroad just like any other country, and I don’t think Washington or Brussels or anybody else would be foolish enough to step into that trap. I guess that sometimes it’s fun to portray yourself as the determined underdog, assailed from all sides yet determined to push on. But as a recent Financial Times op/ed argues, it is more an alliance of convenience, and that Moscow continues to fear China more than it fears its Western partners – Russia has only ever been conquered from the East.