South China Sea on a Boil
Russia Plans to Make a Splash in South China Sea

Vladimir Putin has found another geopolitical pressure point to press: the South China Sea. TASS reports:

A detachment of ships of Russia’s Pacific Fleet is expected to make a voyage to the South China Sea at the beginning of September, the chief press officer of Eastern Military District for the Pacific Fleet, Captain 2nd Rank Vladimir Matveyev told TASS.

The ships will take part in a major naval exercise of the Chinese Naval Force codenamed Joint Sea 2016.

“At the beginning of September, a detachment consisting of the big antisubmarine ships Admiral Tributs and Admiral Vinogradov, the big amphibious ship Peresvet, the sea towboat Alatau, and the tanker Pechenga will head for Zhanjiang in China,” Capt. Matveyev said.

Putin continues to pursue a poor man’s foreign policy—applying Russian power in just the right places for the greatest destabilizing effect. That it’s been working so well in Europe and the Middle East tells us more about the weakness of the West than it does about Russia’s strength.

Some analysts are already fretting about a growing Moscow-Beijing alliance, but those concerns are, as always, overblown. China and Russia are united only insofar as they both oppose the post-Cold War global order. In Central Asia, for example, both countries are competing for influence. And, ultimately, Russia likes it when oil is expensive and China likes it when oil is cheap.

Yet even though Russia and China aren’t about to be best friends and even though the presence of a few Russian ships won’t change much in the South China Sea from an American perspective, Moscow’s involvement still adds a measure of chaos to an increasingly disorderly part of the world.

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