RUssia-China: The S-400 is Just the Beginning


Russia has begun deliveries of the S-400 ‘Triumf’ anti-air missile system to China in accordance with a contract from 2014. The news agency TASS, citing a source in the Russian military-technical cooperation system, reports that the first field system is already underway.

It is also known, that the deal includes a command station, radar station, energy and support equipment, as well as spare parts and instruments.

The meat of the contract

As the TASS source explained, the agreement does not include a technology transfer nor licensed production of the system. Meanwhile, in 2017 Russia held a training session on operating the system for Chinese soldiers.
It is important the PRC has become the first foreign client of this AA system.

The S-400

The second buyer is Turkey. In July 2017, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan informed the media about a signing of documents under the auspices of an agreement about deliveries of Russian missile systems.

The ‘Triumf’ system (NATO codename SA-21 Growler) itself is a medium- and long-range weapons system. It is used to strike at aerial targets and scout aircraft.

The S-400 is at the current moment only used in Russia. Currently, apart from China and Turkey India and Saudi Arabia have expressed a desire to buy the unique system (chairman of Rostech Sergei Chemezov spoke of negotiations held in December last year).

Russia – China

It is important to consider the fact that Xi Jinping’s personal power and authority is growing by the year, and, consequently, the PRC leader is trying to strengthen the country’s military situation. He is interested in a strengthening of interest in the South-China Sea; what is more, it is in Beijing’s interest to use this opportunity, as the US’ attention is focussed on North Korea. 

In addition, it is important to note, that a regime change or destabilisation of the DPRK is not in China’s interest, and it is clear that the S-400 is not necessary for that purpose. For Beijing, North Korea is a buffer that separates the country from American bases in South Korea. China will also not abstain from secretly helping Pyongyang.
What is more, China is planning a powerful ocean fleet and the opening of new Chinese military bases, which includes possible maintenance stations in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

The opening of the first official Chinese naval base in Djibouti is also noteworthy. This is a very important node that will allow Beijing to control the Gulf of Bab-el-Mandeb, which links the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

The US

Of course, the US are very worried about the growth of China’s naval power, and the neocons are especially concerned ( has written earlier about the three US positions on China). Considering that the Chinese Navy is entering the global arena and executing its first joint manoeuvres with Russia in the Baltic Sea (which took place in July with the participation of three Chinese craft), the US really have something to be worried about.

The Economist has written, that the message to the West is clear as day: “China and Russia, united in their displeasure with American power, are “bullying” NATO right on its very doorstep”.

The geopolitics

Taking into account, that China is bent on the construction of a multipolar world, we can expect more frequent contact with Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and others. Experts are predicting that we will see more active participation from Beijing in solving the Syrian crisis.

If earlier China was focussed on its internal problems and took part in the global economy, we can see that in the last few years the country is paying more and more attention to foreign politics.

On the one hand, the PRC really wants multipolarity, while on the other hand the country remains a potential globalist with an interest in open borders.

Currently, Beijing is prioritising the development of an alternative axis and the strengthening of its own power.

Translated from the Russian by V.A.V.