Axis of disruption: Chinese and Russian influence and interference in Europe


This report from UK think tank RUSI is the first in a series analysing Chinese and Russian influence and interference in Europe.

In today’s multipolar world, insecurity has increased due to a number of factors, notably: the developing great power rivalry between the US and China; the seeming withdrawal of the US from its traditional global leadership role; a revanchist Russia; and – for Europe – the implications of Brexit. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated these tensions and added a layer of uncertainty and complexity. In response, many European states and institutions are rethinking and resetting their foreign and security policies. For any of these revised policies to be impactful, however, the countries involved require an improved understanding of these tectonic shifts and how they affect Europe. Today, there are simply too many gaps in our knowledge. RUSI’s new series on Russia and China in Europe focuses on one significant aspect of this challenge: what are the two countries doing in Europe, beyond their traditional bilateral relationships? This introductory paper provides an overview of the series in four parts: first, it discusses the evolving threat to European countries posed by Russia and China; second, it compares and contrasts the behaviour, strategies and tactics of Russia and China in Europe; third, it outlines the issues that will be addressed in the series; and finally, it discusses future policy considerations.

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