At the end of his recent (July 2009) visit to Ukraine and Georgia U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview that “Russia has to make some very dificult, calculated decisions. They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they’re in a situation where the world is changing before them and they’re clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable”.
Vice President Biden presented a correct assessment in the interview on some of the problems of Russia. Not taken into consideration was, however, the risk that Russia and China may in the future cooperate to create a challenge in Eurasia to the United States.
Since October, 2007, the SCO and CSTO, cooperative Eurasian organizations, could be the start of Russia-China working together. There is, which was in 2007 claimed by CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyazha, no intention of integration, like the EU. The plan seems to be to counteract so called “modern challenges” (meaning, one can presume, growing influence of the United States in Eurasia). Officially the line is to interact with NATO (and perhaps the EU). NATO is not, so Russia, regarded as a threat. Two of the main problems, according to Mr. Bordyazha, in 2007 was narco trafficking and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Russia and the other members of CSTO would even be willing to help Kabul. At present an important point is that the non-Russian members of CSTO would be allowed to purchase Russian weapons at “internal prices”. Military staff training was intended as well as sale of police equipment. Also peace keeping was considered with participation not only of Russian troops. The role of China was two years ago unclear.
On the other hand, also not mentioned by Vice President Biden, there is reason to observe possible border problems between Russia and China in the future. China is claiming 1,5 million square kilometres of Russian territory in Asia. Peking already in 1963 raised the question of the “nine unequal treaties” with Russia from 1689 to 1881. Along the Sinkiang border only there are 20 areas from 1,000 to 30,000 square kilometres in dispute according to PRC.
Some of the so called “unequal treaties” are:
Treaty of Nerchinsk, 1689, Treaty of Aigun, 1858, Treaty of Tientsin, 1858, Treaty of Peking, 1860, Treaty of Chugusak, 1864, Treaty of Tacheng, 1864, Treaty of St. Petersburg, 1881.
Around twenty areas near Sinkiang are in dispute. Also should be noted the Wakhan panhandle in Aghanistan. Recently, however, final river protocols between Russia and China have been signed regarding islands in the Amur and Ussuri rivers,
which were hotly disputed at the end of the 1960s.