Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 196

A series of disagreements, however, has also arisen. Although Sergeev did not elaborate in his public remarks yesterday, previous reports have suggested dissatisfaction on Moscow’s side over consumer goods–not always of the best quality–provided by China in partial payment for the Russian military hardware (Segodnya, January 10). China, in turn, is said to be unhappy over Russia’s relative unwillingness to provide it with military technology as opposed to hardware off the shelf (Itar-Tass, October 21). Another report suggests that Beijing may turn to the West for some of its hardware needs because of Russia’s reluctance to supply it with it offensive armaments for China’s land forces (Kommersant daily, May 25).

Moscow’s arms dealings with China have also reportedly been complicated in recent years by another factor: the seeming inability of previous Russian defense chiefs to deal with Beijing in a diplomatic manner. Former Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, for example, reportedly provoked consternation among Chinese leaders when he cavalierly proposed that a 1950s style military alliance be reconstructed between Russia and China. Grachev’s successor, the quickly ousted General Igor Rodionov, sent rather different signals to China in 1996 when he suggested–among other things–that China should be included on a list of Russia’s primary military opponents (Russky telegraf, January 29).

Andrei Kokoshin, then Russian State Military Inspector and Defense Council secretary and later the country’s Security Council secretary, reportedly had some success in ironing out the many problems in Russian-Chinese arms dealings during a trip to Beijing in January of this year (RIA, January 26; Russky telegraf, January 29). Kokoshin, however, considered a leading expert in this area, has since been dismissed from his post and is no longer involved in the Russian-Chinese arms negotiations. As defense minister Sergeev has proven considerably more politic than either of his two predecessors, and his talents in this area will presumably be one key to whether Russian-Chinese arms dealings get back on track during the defense chief’s current visit to Beijing.