The roadmap, signed by Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Chinese vis-à-vis Wei Fenghe, capped a year that has seen an unprecedented growth in military cooperation, including large-scale war games in China’s Ningxia in August, when Russian troops became the first foreign forces to join a regular Chinese drill, as well as announcements to jointly develop military helicopters, missile attack warning systems and even a research station on the moon.

“It’s the strongest, closest and best relationship that the two countries have had since at least the mid-1950s. And possibly ever,” said Nigel Gould-Davies, Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

It is not only on defence that the two have moved closer but also on the diplomatic and economic fronts.

On foreign policy, Beijing and Moscow share similar approaches to Iran, Syria and Venezuela, and recently revived a push to lift United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

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