China has offered to help Russia rebuild its armed forces. China needs a strong ally and Russia needs help to become that kind of mighty ally. Currently China is more of a superpower than Russia. Chinese GDP is more than three times Russia’s and China is spending more than three times as much on defense as Russia (which is trying to maintain defense spending at 2.8 percent of GDP). Current Russian GDP is nearly $2 trillion, and 2.8 percent of that is $50 billion. The U.S. spends over three percent of a $15 trillion GDP on defense, but is reducing that a bit. Economy is destiny, as the Russians have learned. With recent spectacular economic growth in China, the Russians see the possibility of a return to the status of a major military power. At the moment China has twice as many troops and most of them have better weapons. But the cost fixing this appears to be more than the Russians can afford. China is offering to help by spending billions more on Russian weapons (despite the flagrant Chinese theft of Russian military tech). As distasteful as the situation is, the Russians really do need some help. The Russians are also becoming aware that they were not much of a superpower back in the Soviet days.
After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 it was discovered (the communists were very bad at accounting) that actual Russian GDP was much lower (less than a tenth of the U.S., then six trillion dollars) than believed. The chaos of the 1991 collapse led to further economic contraction in the 1990s. By the end of the decade, Russian GDP was about $200 billion. But by then reforms and new ideas had taken hold. In the last ten years, the GDP has grown to nine times its 1991 level. Even greater growth is expected. While there’s a lot of enthusiasm for rebuilding the armed forces, when it comes time to write the checks, other priorities, more immediate priorities, appear. The Soviet Union left a legacy of poor, or non-existent, infrastructure. For the economy to grow, you need infrastructure (roads, utilities, ports, sanitation). Guns are nice, infrastructure is essential. There is talk of rearmament, but in a democracy (despite the totalitarian aspects), the people’s needs cannot be ignored. This makes the Chinese offer to help attractive, even though many Russians fear that the rapidly growing Chinese economy is gradually making thinly populated eastern Russia (Siberia and the Far East) more Chinese than Russian.
Full article: Mighty China Offers To Help (Strategy Page)