Russian-Chinese alliance in artificial intelligence, and how it has evolved since the invasion of Ukraine
Author: Sebastian Linke
Editor: Velina Tchakarova

Eastern Circles is an independent French think tank specializing in energy and defense in the post-soviet space.

The opinions expressed in this text are the sole responsibility of the authors.

This study was prepared at the request of the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, General Directorate for International Relations and Strategy (DGRIS).

© All rights reserved, Eastern Circles, 2023

Cover: © Council on Foreign Relations

Eastern Circles: eastern.circles@gmail.com


As a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a new dynamic of alliance between Russia and China has manifested itself that could upset the balance of power in the Eurasian area and beyond.

In an attempt to limit its growing isolation on the international stage in the face of Western sanctions, Russia has increasingly turned to China as an economic, financial, technology and military partner since 2014. Beijing in turn seeks to preserve an ambiguous posture as to its support of the war, which consists of reasserting its strategic autonomy and preserve its business and diplomatic ties with the West, while taking advantage of Russia's economic isolation and using it as a means to increase its own geopolitical influence.

This report analyses the evolution of the Russian-Chinese alliance in the fields of artificial intelligence, how these two parallel partnerships are evolving, and what they mean for the future of global governance. It focuses on the geopolitical, commercial and geo-economic forces that underlie the relationship between Moscow and Beijing, and how the war in Ukraine has reshaped the partnership.

The report deep-dives into Russia-China relationship in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). It begins with the characteristics and applications of AI, compares Chinese and Russian strategic thinking in the field, and proceeds to explain the ecosystem of key companies working on the technology in both countries, and their relationships with their respective states. Part 2 continues with an analysis of the evolution of Russian-Chinese cooperation in AI and outlines its limitations. It concludes with a joint case study of the use of AI in both countries during COVID for mass surveillance and analysis of the lessons learned by Russia for the subsequent application of AI for the suppression of opposition and mobilization for war ("digital GOULAG"), and with recommendations.

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