The US government has failed to notice China’s strategy behind the quick building, and international adhesion, around the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). After very close allies of the US, like Germany or Israel, joined the AIIB too, it seemed relevant to quickly assess how Russia, at odds with the US on Ukraine and Syria, sees the Chinese government’s offensive. What’s been the most surprising about AIIB developments is that government officials, except from the USA and Britain, have mostly remained silent on what may likely be the hottest finance saga of the year 2015. It is particularly true as regards the Russian government: neither President Vladimir Putin nor Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ever said a word in public statements about the AIIB.
In fact, the AIIB was not a topic important enough to be treated directly by the very top levels of the Russian government. Because of ongoing difficulties, particularly the conflict in Ukraine and the falling ruble, Russia initially refused to join the AIIB. Russia had clearly other fish to fry. That’s only when Putin’s cabinet became aware of the strong European enthusiasm for the project and how this could undermine US global influence in the long term that Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov eventually announced Moscow’s decision to join the AIIB as a “founding member” as soon as April 14, 2015.
What a surprise, the US and Russian governments finally had something in common since both proved unable to correctly assess how attractive the Chinese initiative would be. The Russian media did not give special coverage to the AIIB news but spread the idea that the China-led bank will help establish new multipolar economic order and question the US “hegemony” on world finance structures. Summing up, whatever the AIIB brings, Russian media think that given the present context what’s negative for the USA is positive for Russia.