NATO–Russia relations have usually been considered in isolation from the broader changing international context, but bipolarity no longer reflects reality. This essay revisits the NATO–Russia relationship by placing it in the context of ‘emerging powers’, in particular China. It demonstrates that the China factor has begun – often indirectly, but significantly – to affect Russia's NATO policy and NATO–Russia relations. Despite mistrust and problems, there is also considerable potential for co-operation among these three actors. While problems in NATO–Russia relations cannot be explained by the Chinese variable alone, it nevertheless offers new insights into some of the issues.