Scenario 4: China bites, Russia stings

5 July 2021

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Existing tensions between China and the US become hot conflicts in South-East Asia pulling international attention away from the 3SI and effectively limiting foreign investments.

Russia uses these moments of instability to advance their support to separatist forces in the EU’s neighbourhood and thus creating permanent instability. China continues to build up its investment across the EU increasing the block’s economic exposure, and the US turns merely to defensive strategies like amendments to the Competitive Strategy Act with more hostile language.

The 3SI loses any option of strategic ambiguity and becomes purely a geopolitical instrument of uniting CEE behind the US agenda on China and Russia while risking alienating EU partners like Germany or Italy. Thus, the initiative becomes less potent in mobilising resources from the EU and attracting investment capital, due to global uncertainty but also rigid business interests. 

At the same time, countries which are following a multi-vector foreign policy agenda — such as Hungary — break away from the 3SI stalling coordination on key infrastructural, energy or digital projects that otherwise would require their involvement. As a result, the 3SI remains incomplete and internally divided between countries pulled together by security challenges primarily the Baltics, Poland, Romania — and those choosing not to — primarily Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. 

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