President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that a future military alliance with China can’t be ruled out but is not needed right now, the Associated Press reported.
Speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club, Putin said that Russia has stepped up military cooperation with China through joint military exercises and the sharing of sensitive Russian military technologies.
“Without any doubt, our cooperation with China is bolstering the defense capability of China’s army,” Putin said via videoconference with international foreign policy experts.
Moscow’s military ties with Beijing could someday deepen further, he added, noting: “The time will show how it will develop… we won’t exclude it.”
Asked about a hypothetical Russian-Chinese military alliance, Putin said: “We don’t need it, but, theoretically, it’s quite possible to imagine it.”
To date, Russia and China have rejected an outright military alliance in favor of a strategic partnership. Russia “pivoted” toward China after its annexation of Crimea in 2014 triggered Western sanctions and sunk relations to post-Cold War lows.
China and Germany are headed for political and economic superpower status while the role of the United States, as well as Britain and France, has waned, Putin said.
Putin’s comments on sharing sensitive technology with China come amid a wave of criminal prosecutions against Russian scientists accused of passing state secrets to China in recent years.