Russia and China in an 'Uneven Bromance': US General

The Russian invasion of Ukraine may have brought Russia and China closer, but U.S. officials increasingly view the relationship as weighted towards China.
General Christopher Cavoli speaking in front of the House Armed Services Committee.
General Christopher Cavoli speaking in front of the House Armed Services Committee. Screenshot. 

The invasion of Ukraine has brought China and Russia closer together in an “uneven bromance,” according to a top Pentagon official.

General Christopher Cavoli, the commander of the U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee today, answering questions on the state of defense affairs in Europe. Congressional members were particularly interested in how China is influencing the region and its connections to its growing ally, Russia, questioning Cavoli on how he sees the relationship development between Washington’s two chief geopolitical rivals.


“China's diplomatic, political and moral support for Russia's illegal invasion has been notable and has assisted the Russians in their position and their domestic political position as well,” said Cavoli in response to Alabama GOP Congressman Mike Rogers, before qualifying the inherent imbalance in that relationship, weighted towards China, that the Pentagon has noticed. “It appears increasingly to be an uneven bromance, as you put it, in which Russia could become the junior partner, but it is nevertheless a dangerous development or a development of significant concern.”

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union generally viewed the Maoist Chinese state as a weaker power when it came to international affairs. But in 2023, as Russia’s economy faces hardship and its military, by all appearances, isn’t the behemoth many believed it was, China has become the more powerful partner in their alliance and the only superpower capable of standing up to the U.S.  

And President Vladimir Putin’s mostly failed invasion of his Ukrainian neighbor has become a geopolitical headache for China, which has mostly towed the line publicly on the war, but avoided being drawn in militarily. But just before the invasion in February 2022, Putin and China had declared a “no limits” partnership countering U.S. supremacy, which at the time riled NATO and President Joe Biden’s administration. 

Over a year later and the war, by all indications, hasn’t gone according to plan for the Kremlin or how China believed it would. Even so, Beijing, though dissuaded from outright arming Russia, is continuing to grow closer to Putin.

“We see military cooperation. We see economic cooperation. We see political cooperation,” said Cavoli.

In recent months, Putin hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping on an official state visit to Moscow, while the two nations, along with ally Iran, held massive joint military exercises in the Gulf of Oman last month, with plans for more.