“The USA has brought about an unprecedented rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing”

Our title is the editorial headline today in Nezavisimaya gazeta. It really says it all.

Why President Putin should have chosen to put the frighteners on Ukraine in the dead of winter when no one with any sense attacks another country in Eastern Europe (except perhaps Stalin – without skis, against warlike Finland in 1939) remains a mystery. All I can humbly suggest is that he must have woken up one morning on the wrong side of the bed in a very irritable mood indeed, and felt like lashing out. He does not even have British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s excuse for being somewhat out of sorts. But the idea that Russia would invade neighbouring Ukraine deploying so few (just over 100,000) troops always seemed a tad remote, if not downright preposterous. As much as Putin admires Stalin, even this seems like going too far in earnest emulation as the Soviet-Finnish war did not work out so well even if the Russians eventually won.

More interesting perhaps is the impact of the grand peur on China. Here Nezavisimaya gazeta is not lost on the irony: first, that American hysteria has thrown the Russians into the arms of the Chinese; and, second, that whereas in the distant fifties the Russians were big brothers to the Chinese, sending them derivatives of Western technology in return for raw materials, the reverse is now the case, with big brother China sending little brother Russia the technology in return for raw materials. Presumably, as the Japanese might say, they can now share the same bed but dream different dreams.

This bizarre set of events does not end here. Given President Obama’s manifestly callous indifference to the Russian seizure of Crimea – he had the intelligence and could have moved swiftly to stop it while Putin was denying he had any special forces in the field, instead of which we have years of impotent sanctions – and German persistence in creating maximum dependence on Russia for natural gas, why on earth would Putin imagine that anyone could believe that he is actually worried about Ukraine cuddling up to NATO?

To understand his long term game plan all we need do is to re-read the lengthy record of a live radio interview he gave on the eve of his first presidential election over two decades ago. It was extraordinary because he made no policy commitments except one: namely, to reconstitute the borders of the former Soviet Union. At the time he played down the importance of military power and hailed the new dawn of Russian leverage from pre-eminence in natural resources (energy in particular) to attain its goals in foreign policy. That seems to be working well judging by the pathetic reaction of Berlin to Moscow’s bellicose sabre rattling. And surely, if sane, Putin would not now seek to use force on a major scale in bad weather with so few men beginning with an invasion of Ukraine.

As a fan of the oriental martial arts Putin must know from his Chinese friends that the highest accolade goes to those who practice peng jin and win without actually fighting. Or was this what it was really all about?

01.02.2022 18:17:00

США добились небывалого сближения Москвы и Пекина

Версия для печати

Обсудить на форуме

Россия превращается в младшего брата Китая