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What are we seeing around us? What is there on the news channels all the time? It is the news of wars all over the world either directly or indirectly. We can see the Russia-Ukraine war as an example which is still going on since February 2022, the Israel-Palestine war starting from 7 October 2023 and many more indirect or direct conflicts. Russia, China and Iran are emerging as a triad which is getting their involvement as a threat to the world order in some or the other way.

How Russia, China and Iran are a Potential Threat

1. Same ideological agreement: All 3 countries somewhat think the same way. All are basically against Western countries’ ideologies which stops them from thinking rationally about the right and wrong things. Thus, they just oppose every step made by the Western world blindly whether we take it in promoting democracy or works in the field of human rights.

2. Resources-rich countries: All the 3 countries collectively have a huge amount of natural resources in their land including oil, gas, and minerals. This makes them a very good potential threat because if they coordinate with each other and think to control the export of their natural resources, then it may lead to price hikes, could exert greater control over global energy markets and use their resource wealth as leverage in international relations.

3. Cyber Warfare: Everything in our world is going towards digitalization. These countries have allegations from various other countries that they use hacking systems, spying on others multiple times against their enemy countries and using digital information in their own favour, sometimes also manipulating it. Recently, Russia has been at the top of a new index ‘World Cybercrime Index’ ranking cybercrime threats by a country. If they continue doing all this, it can definitely disrupt global communications and destabilize democratic institutions at any point in time.

4. Regional conflicts: All of them have a lot of conflicts and ideological differences with their neighbours. The Russia-Ukraine war is one of the results of it. Also, Iran getting involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict is an example whereas China is working on its policies like Salami slicing and 9 dash line in the South China Sea which is leading to bad relations of these countries with their own neighbours.

5. Weapons and military power: All of the 3 countries have a powerful defence system and military power of top level. Even Russia was the third-largest exporter of arms in the year 2023. China is also making its indigenous weapons and making itself stronger.

Let us now understand things from each country’s side of this triad!

Russia – Ukraine war

At the end of the Cold War, the USSR split into 15 independent countries of which Russia was the biggest country. Even though all the countries are independent and sovereign, also Russia somewhat wants their control and wants the previous USSR in existence. Also, Ukraine, a country that emerged from the USSR was trying to join NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) at the start of the year 2022. This was one of the basic reasons why actually Russia invaded Ukraine. It can be seen through both country’s perspective. For example, since Ukraine is an independent nation, it should be its own decision whether to join any organization or not and no one else has the right to stop it. But from Russia’s point of view, Ukraine should not align with any Western countries especially NATO since Ukraine was a part of the USSR which was an enemy of NATO. Also, Russia’s political power is mainly concentrated in the hands of a single person i.e. President Putin right now. Russia’s support for authoritarian regimes and its disregard for international norms, such as its annexation of Crimea in 2014, also contributes to its image as a threat to world order. Its support for separatist movements in eastern Ukraine, and military intervention in Syria have drawn condemnation from the international community and increased tensions in these regions.

China’s Salami Slicing and 9-dash line

    China is a country which has boundary tensions with even more countries than the number of countries it actually shares boundaries with. It has conflicts with India, in the Arunachal Pradesh region and the Aksai Chin area. It also has various boundary problems with other land boundary-sharing countries including countries in the South China Sea because China believes in drawing a 9-dash line in that sea and claims it as its own area which even breaks the limit of the Territorial Sea (coastal State may claim a territorial sea that extends seaward up to 12 nautical miles (nm) from its baselines). Due to China’s actions in the South China Sea, countries in that area are buying more weapons. For example, the Philippines bought the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles recently from India. Also, through China’s salami-slicing policy, China used to claim so many regions of Arunachal Pradesh and renamed it several times. Also, it tries to develop areas on the boundaries of other countries and let the public of China live there. This made India deploy more military power, modernizing its military capabilities and deploying weapons on the India-China border areas like the Pralay missile system specifically targeting China. So, this is how China is increasing tensions in its surrounding areas including Asia the South China Sea which is a very important route for trade and is a place of good fishing.

    Iran’s Threat Surroundings

      Iran always wanted to have nuclear technology due to which Iran had to face CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). While Iran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, regional rivals like Israel, fear that Iran may be trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has been accused of supporting various militant groups and proxy forces across the Middle East, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, and Shia militias in Iraq and Syria which often engage in acts of terrorism. Also, Iran’s domestic human rights records are not so good. This has led to diplomatic tensions, contributing to instability in the Middle East and beyond.


      In conclusion, the Russia-China-Iran triad’s actions and policies in recent years have contributed to regional instability, heightened tensions with neighbouring states, and raised concerns among the international community about their intentions and capabilities. Of course, there are powers to neutralise them when needed but yes, this triad is a potential threat to the world order which needs to be taken care of.

      By Nishu Rajput

      Nishu Rajput presents her writings about geopolitical issues using easy-to-understand language. As a University of Delhi graduate, she endeavours to incorporate diverse perspectives on global events.