Relations likely will only be further strained with news that Russia is looking to strengthen its ties with Iran and China.
The Mideast-focused Al-Monitor reports that "Russia has taken steps to develop its trade and economic ties with Tehran" (Vitaly Naumkin, "Russia Stakes Out Iranian Market," May 12, 2014). Furthermore, as reported by Reuters, "Russia plans to sign a contract with Iran this year to build two more nuclear reactors at its Bushehr power plant as part of a broader deal for up to eight reactors in the Islamic state" ("Russia May Build Eight Nuclear Reactors for Iran," May 22, 2014).
A Russo-Iranian economic alliance and Russian help in advancing Iran's nuclear program may once again further isolate Russia from its Western allies. Moreover there are increased concerns about Chinese cooperation with Russia. The Associated Press reported in a story that appeared in The Detroit News: "The Obama administration is playing down an increasingly warm relationship between its main global rivals, China and Russia, that it may have inadvertently encouraged" (Matthew Lee, "Russia, China, and Where the U.S. Fits In," May 29, 2014).
The two countries recently double-vetoed United Nations Security Council resolutions on Syria. And "with growing cooperation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in other areas—notably, a new $400 billion natural gas deal and apparent agreement on the crisis in Ukraine—many believe Russia and China may now or may soon represent a powerful new alliance challenging not only the United States, but also the Western democratic tradition that this country has championed globally."
The Bible speaks of a future alliance of Eastern nations that will march on Jerusalem at the time of the end: "Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared" (Revelation 16:12). Verse 16 says that they will gather in the place called Armageddon or Megiddo in northern Israel. (For more on this ancient battleground and its prophetic significance, read "What Is Armageddon?".)
While the Bible doesn't tell us what nations will make up this great force, it gives us a direction—east—so that we can watch and stay alert to what is happening in the world around us (Matthew 24:42). (Sources: Al-Monitor, Reuters, Associated Press.)