Russia allies and enemies: Why China could be one of Putin’s closest friends

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During recent months, tensions have heightened between Russia and the West over fears that Moscow is planning to launch an invasion of Ukraine. The latest development has seen Russian President Vladimir Putin recognise two regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states and subsequently order troops to move in. But, who do Russians believe are likely to support and condemn this course of action?

According to a recent survey conducted by the Levada Centre – a Russian non-Governmental organisation – the US is regarded as Russia’s greatest enemy, while Belarus it’s closest ally.

In fact, these two countries were the only ones in either category where a majority of the respondents could reach an agreement.

Ukraine, where Russia has amassed 150,000 soldiers along its border, is seen as Russia’s second biggest enemy

The poll was conducted in May 2021 and surveyed 1,620 Russian residents.

Overall, the following countries were voted as Russia’s top five allies:

  • Belarus – 58 percent
  • China – 38 percent
  • Kazakhstan – 34 percent
  • Armenia – 16 percent
  • India – 13 percent

While the following five nations were deemed by participants to be the top five foes:

  • US – 66 percent
  • Ukraine – 40 percent
  • UK – 28 percent
  • Latvia & Poland – 21 percent
  • Lithuania – 20 percent

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Why do Belarus and China make the top five allies?

As a former member of the Soviet Republic, Belarus holds close ties to Moscow, with President Alexander Lukashenko a known friend of Mr Putin.

Like Russia, China is also a communist nation which has faced rebuttal from the West, owing to its aggression towards Taiwan and accusations that it is committing human rights abuses against ethnic minority groups.

Earlier this month, Moscow and Beijing issued a joint statement outlining their agreement on a number of issues facing their respective countries.

Within the statement China said it agreed with Russia’s stance of opposing greater expansion of Nato within Europe.

Why do the US and UK make the top five foes?

The US and Russia have had mixed relations since the close of World War Two, with a tense standoff existing between the two for several decades – recognised as the Cold War.

Both the UK and US have voiced their disapproval with Russia’s actions in recent years, particularly with regards to the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine, as well as the ongoing crisis in the region.

Vladimir Putin is also a vocal opponent of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) – which the US and UK helped to found. The Russian President previously demanded that Nato limits its movements within eastern Europe.

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