Are China and Russia teaming up on the US in the Indian Ocean?

Are China and Russia teaming up on the US in the Indian Ocean?

Recent commentaries suggesting that Russia and China are teaming up for a power play in the Indian Ocean have drawn mixed reactions from regional analysts, with some suggesting that Moscow and Beijing are keen to flex their muscles beyond their own shores in a bid to counter US moves in the region while others have pointed out that most forms of cooperation between the two countries are merely symbolic in nature.

Last month, Oriana Skylar Mastro, a centre fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, wrote that Russia-China cooperation in the Indian Ocean would present a much greater threat to a continued US role and influence in the region than either would individually.

Mastro pointed to two recent naval exercises held between Russia and China – the first in conjunction with South Africa in November 2019 off Cape Town and the second the following month with Iran in the Gulf of Oman – as evidence of the two countries’ sharpened focus on the Indian Ocean region.