Ukraine Russia
A Russian tank during military drills near the Ukraine border (Image: AP via AAP)

The standoff at the Ukrainian border might seem like a European or American problem, one which will have little direct effect on Australia. However, whatever the outcome it carries important strategic implications for Australia.

Most clearly, it will further intensify Russia’s uneasy alliance with its chief “frenemy”, China. This is clear from last week's recent joint Russia-China pact, where Russia condemned the AUKUS agreement and stated that Taiwan was "an inalienable part of China".

But this is only part of the story. The standoff will also push Russia to balance its growing closeness with China by intensifying other alliances in Asia, most notably India. Australian policymakers must think hard to formulate policy to respond to Russia’s flexible and dynamic role in the region.