THE BEAR AND THE DRAGON COOPERATE ON A UN MISSION IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
We fear this is not a tail of strange bedfellows on temporary truce. China and Russia have been on the verge of blows in the past, and have cooperated in the past. Once they were both Marxist states with a major border issue and leadership rivalry. Now one is nominally Marxist but actually state and crony capitalist, while the other is nominally democratic and also a state/crony capitalist player. Both are thug states. They are cooperating in the Mediterranean to remove Syria's chemical weapons. That's good the chemical weapons need to go. However, so did the Syrian regime, though everyone including France and the U.S. the leading proponents of a military strike against the Syrian regime feared what might replace it. Russia gets it way. There will be no international trial for regime officials or the President, apparently for life. For a very small investment in ships China and Russia get to project what looks like real global reach in a naval context while thumping their noses at the U.S and France. They are exercising with two ships and a host of small boats in the Eastern Mediterranean this week, practicing for their present and supposedly future cooperative missions in the area. What on Earth China is doing in the area besides simply trying to appear able to flex more muscle than she has is unfathomable.
Its true the U.S.Sixth fleet is down to one resident ship and a regular string of visitors from the Atlantic "chopped" for tactical control to the Sixth fleet commander. Despite the temporary assignments the sixth fleet at any given moment outnumbers the combination of the Russian and Chinese "fleet" in the region. More importantly the Italian Navy is always on watch and has 62 high quality ships and 82 aircraft in the immediate vicinity, 10 times the combined strength of the Dragon and the bear in the immediate vicinity. France isn't too pleased with these visitors either and is not that far away with 98 ships and 181 aircraft. The eight or so Russian and Chinese vessels in the area are no real threat. Both France and Italy have aircraft carriers and know how to operate them. The U.S. either has or can put a super carrier task force in the area on short notice. The Mediterranean is securely in the hands of the northern Mediterranean states and most are part of the interactive NATO defense alliance as well as the EU. Navies are often used to "show the flag", that's all this is for China and Russia. It makes for good press. We may have to wait longer to make our point about the use of weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations never going unpunished. Meanwhile Russia and China are doing the heavy lifting of getting the dangerous stuff removed. That should be something of a relief to EU and U..S. tax payers, we have thick skins when it comes to having noses thumped in our face, its especially thick when there is no hand on our wallets. There is a pack of very big naval dogs in the "Med", we don't have to bark at every shadow. Big dogs tend to be very calm dogs.
Unfortunately this recent exercise is not the only example of recent Russian/ Chinese cooperation. Here is a list of recent examples from the Russian English language publication RIANOVOSTI:
- Russia to Hold Drills with China, Mongolia in 2014
- Putin Praises Russia-China Cooperation
- China, Russia Complete Extensive Naval Exercise
- China Starts Largest-Ever Foreign Naval Drill With Russia
- Russia, China Complete Naval Drills