06/16/2020, 16.30
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Russian scientist Valery Mitko to be tried for spying on behalf of China

Relations between Moscow and Beijing include both cooperation and competition. The Russian Arctic scientist was placed under house arrest in February, charged with passing information on Russian submarine detection technology. For Andrey Kortunov, the “overall bilateral strategic partnership” between the two powers “is too important to both sides.”

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Russia plans to put on trial Valery Mitko, one of its foremost Arctic scientists, on charges of passing state secrets to China, Mitko’s lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, said yesterday.

Valery Mitko, president of Russia’s Arctic Academy of Sciences, has been under house arrest since February. He could get up to 20 years in prison for high treason.

Russian investigators accuse the 78-year-old academic of sharing information about Russian submarine detecting technology during a lecture visit to China, charges that Mitko rejects.

Pavlov says that his client travels to China twice a year for conferences where he presents documents and information that are in the public domain.

In recent years, several Russian scientists have come under investigation for alleged contacts with foreign governments, including China’s.

According to many observers, Mitko’s trial highlights Russian concern over China’s global rise, this despite developing closer ties with Beijing against the United States.

The Arctic, Mitko’s speciality, is one of the areas in which China and Russia both cooperate and compete.

Ice melting in the polar regions due to global warming could facilitate navigation across the Arctic Ocean, which would be a new and shorter route between Europe and Asia.

China and Russia also want to develop the region's enormous energy resources; however, Moscow needs Chinese investments to develop Arctic ports and infrastructures, yet fears that Beijing might challenge its leadership in the region, as it is doing in Central Asia.

Some analysts point out however that the Sino-Russian alliance "quasi-alliance" has not been affected by any fallout over the pandemic crisis, which broke out in the Chinese province of Hubei causing some friction between the two governments.

The “overall bilateral strategic partnership” between the two powers “is too important to both sides or, at least, to their [respective] national leaders” said Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, speaking to AsiaNews.

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