by Gordon M. Hahn
A popular theory that for the most part works is democratic peace theory, which holds that democracies do not go to war against each other. Democracies and authoritarian or totalitarian regimes go to war against each other. Authoritarian and/or totalitarian regimes do so as well. The United States is undergoing a de-democratization and could become a regime that is more authoritarian than democratic during the Biden-Harris administration’s first term— as happened in Weimar Germany, Eastern Europe in general during the inter-war period, and with a very weak Russian democracy the mid-2000s under Vladimir Putin. Add to this the authoritarian character of Washington’s two main adversaries and you have not a burgeoning democratic peace but a new East-West, not Russia-West ‘new cold war.’
The NATO-Russian Western Theater and Ukraine
The de-democratization of America, should it occur, will undermine democratizing and democratic regimes worldwide and make war at the cleft points between East and West more, not less likely. The increasingly bizarre techno-atavism and identititarian politics of the West – especially the Obama neo-Marxist left, its Biden administration, and the Democratic Party (DP) – is undermining republicanism from California to Kiev. The de-republicanization demonstration and domino effect of American authoritarianization is already beginning to strenghten the de-republicanization trend and is combining with techno-atavism and indentitarianism to especially undermine the weak links in the Atlantic community. For example, in Ukraine the Volodomyr Zelenskiy government has weakened the Maidan regime’s already frail republic. This, Zelenskiy’s rapidly declining popularity, and the growing influence of ultra-nationalists and neofascists raises the specter of a restart of the Donbass civil—something that would play into hands of the extremists and could turn the new cold war into a hot war at least on its western front.
In the East, Russia is becoming a less soft and more middle-range authoritarian regime. Its nearly complete break in relations with the West and a tectonic shift in its civilizational identity from Europe to Eurasia and Asia in response to NATO expansion and Western-inspired color revolutions, sharpens the divide and tensions in Eastern Europe/Western Eurasia. Moscow has strongly hitched its wagon to risen (not rising) China, which is becoming the superpower of Eurasia and Asia and a major player in Europe and Africa. Sino-Russian military and intelligence cooperation focused on the West is intensifying, as Washington and Brussels continue to attempt to support anti-regime opposition forces in both countries. These and other factors are driving East-West tensions to a fever pitch. Let’s look at these developments in more detail and then tease out some of the main implications and potential risks to international peace and security.
As Goes America, So Goes the Atlantic Community?
The United States is undergoing de-republicanization and could become a regime that is more authoritarian than it is democratic during the Biden-Harris administration’s first term should present trends continue. In addition to massive fraud and very possibly the theft of the 2020 presidential election, the Democratic Party is now seeking to establish single-party rule by institutionalizing election rules that several key swing states established in the last year before the November 2020 vote that opened the floodgates to electoral fraud in key cities with long histories of such fraud and general corruption. Immediately upon his inauguration, President Biden introduced to Congress legislative bill ‘HR1’—the first piece of Biden era legislation (www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/117/hr1/text). If passed, it will institute nationwide – itself a violation of the U.S. constitution which gives the states the power to create their own electoral laws and rules – the same procedures that even Democrats such as former US President Jimmy Carter’s own study concluded facilitate electoral fraud: universal mail-in balloting, a ban on a voter ID requirement, an ban on a ballot signature requirement, legalization of ‘ballot harvesting’, extending ballot submission to 10 days after election day, and numerous other measures that will essentially legalize election fraud. “(V)oter identification requirements” are deemed one of many unreasonable “restrictions to the franchise” (www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/117/hr1/text)).
The massive influx of illegal immigrants at the Mexican border – during a pandemic no less – encouraged and facilitated by the Biden-Harris administration, is intended to change the correlation of voting forces, shifting the balance of party identification and support to the Democrat Party, especially in the pivotal ‘red’ Republican-dominant state of Texas. For similar reason, the new administration is seeking to make Washington DC the status of a state and grant Puerto Rico state status. Nearly all-black DC and Hispanic PR will further bolster the Democrat voter rolls. The Biden administration is falsifying past and recent American history, for example, by claiming that the unarmed break-in by Trump demonstrators coordinated at certain points with the Capitol Police controlled by the Democratic-run District of Columbia is the worse attack on the U.S. “since the civil war,” according to Biden. Some of those arrested have been put in soitar confinement for months, according to their lawyers, and are facing prison terms of up to twenty years. The Biden administration has even tried to creat a commission to create a 9/11 style investigation in order to hype the crimes and justify its cruel and unusual punishment. At the same time, rioters and terrorists from Black Lives Matter and Antifa who destroyed much of central Portland and injured police and civilians, including six shot and killed in summer 2020, among other crimes, were encouraged to continue by then VP candidate, now VP Kamala Harris, and she and other DP operatives raised bail for their release.
Biden’s U.S. is now leading the way in the West’s increasingly self-destructive identitarian politics, neo-Marxism, and techno-atavism, which is undermining democracy from California to Kiev. Internet technology is proving to be nearly as destabilizing for democratic regimes at the beginning of the 21st century, as it was for authoritarian regimes near the end of the 20th century. In the U.S., the Big Tech leader, globalist interests are attempting to impose a soft authoritarian ‘new Marxist’ regime through the Trojan horses of ‘The Great Reset’, “stakeholder” ‘capitalism’, atavistic ecological and indentitarian ideologies and policies. From below, inside America, a new communo-fascism is rising that combines radical feminist, ethno-nationalist, and LGBT identitarianism. A witch hunt against ‘white supremacists’ – often defined as anyone who supported former President Donald Trump – has begun, along with a war against traditional family values, old American culture, Christianity, and Jewish believers. There are numerous examples of all this, some of which I have discussed elsewhere (https://gordonhahn.com/2020/12/29/the-authoritarianization-putinization-of-america-parts-1-and-2-complete/). Additional examples follow
Last month California’s Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a new “Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum” (www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr21/yr211rel21.asp). Before this approval, one observer noted, “the fact that such a document as this could be on the brink of becoming law in the richest and most populous state in America is troubling in the extreme” (www.nationalreview.com/2021/03/california-curriculum-accuses-christians-of-theocide-encourages-chanting-to-pagan-gods/). In the curriculum’s section covering religion, students will be taught that white Christian settlers committed “theocide” against native American tribes after they came to the New World by murdering natives’ gods in order to replace them with the Christian God. This transplacement, according to the curriculum, established a regime of “coloniality, dehumanization, and genocide” and the “explicit erasure and replacement of holistic Indigeneity and humanity.” Then students are led to the idea of the need for revenge against the Christians. They will be instructed that they have the responsibility to construct a new system of “countergenocide” to supplant the last vestiges of colonial Christianity and regenerate “indigenous epistemic and cultural futurity” (www.nationalreview.com/2021/03/california-curriculum-accuses-christians-of-theocide-encourages-chanting-to-pagan-gods/). The curriculum’s “ethnic studies community chant,” which teachers are instructed to lead their students, which is as follows: “Students first clap and chant to the god Tezkatlipoka—whom the Aztecs traditionally worshipped with human sacrifice and cannibalism—asking him for the power to be ‘warriors’ for ‘social justice.’ Next, the students chant to the gods Quetzalcoatl, Huitzilopochtli, and Xipe Totek, seeking ‘healing epistemologies’ and ‘a revolutionary spirit.’ Huitzilopochtli, in particular, is the Aztec deity of war and inspired hundreds of thousands of human sacrifices during Aztec rule. Finally, the chant comes to a climax with a request for ‘liberation, transformation, [and] decolonization,’ after which students shout ‘Panche beh! Panche beh!’ in pursuit of ultimate ‘critical consciousness’” (www.city-journal.org/calif-ethnic-studies-curriculum-accuses-christianity-of-theocide). This new “Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum” will be offered statewide with many of California’s largest school districts requiring students to take its courses in order to graduate (www.nationalreview.com/2021/03/california-curriculum-accuses-christians-of-theocide-encourages-chanting-to-pagan-gods/). Thus, the children in America’s most populaous, rich, and naturally beautiful state will be brainwashed into replacing the civilization of the European enlightenment with the Aztec alternative of paganism, human sacrifice – of Christians, perhaps? – by the tens of thousands, cannibalism, and the prolonged torture and sacrifice of children, as one observer notes (www.theblaze.com/shows/the-glenn-beck-program/california-schools-chant-aztec?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1).
This sort of thing has been taught in American universities for two decades. There is now a movement “Mothers for Freedom” and a wave of individual protests occurring at school board meetings to prevent this ideology from being introduced into schools as a form of education. A North Korean female defector after attending ‘Ivy League’ Columbia University noted that the school was more crazy than the last truly totalitarian state on earth (www.dailywire.com/news/north-korean-defector-after-attending-ivy-league-school-even-north-korea-was-not-this-nuts?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=benshapiro&fbclid=IwAR2kqXSR0Xz0xrHElIr4SPep5wqFMEmxagjuADNwFSyo1m0ohi9zdtHfT9I).
Such might seem an exaggeration, but proof abounds that this commune-fascism is now mainstream on the liberal-left side of the American political spectrum, and the slience from there is deafening. Yale University’s Chiled Study Center hosted a lecture by one Dr. Aruna Khilanani in April, which was recorded by former New York Times journalist, who resigned because the U.S. paper supported the same ideas. Here ia an example of the scholarship Yale University offers through the likes of Khilanani:
“This is the cost of talking to white people at all. The cost of your own life, as they suck you dry. There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil. (Time stamp: 6:45)
I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a fucking favor. (Time stamp: 7:17)
White people are out of their minds and they have been for a long time. (Time stamp: 17:06)
We are now in a psychological predicament, because white people feel that we are bullying them when we bring up race. They feel that we should be thanking them for all that they have done for us. They are confused, and so are we. We keep forgetting that directly talking about race is a waste of our breath. We are asking a demented, violent predator who thinks that they are a saint or a superhero, to accept responsibility. It ain’t gonna happen. They have five holes in their brain. It’s like banging your head against a brick wall. It’s just like sort of not a good idea. (Time stamp 17:13)
We need to remember that directly talking about race to white people is useless, because they are at the wrong level of conversation. Addressing racism assumes that white people can see and process what we are talking about. They can’t. That’s why they sound demented. They don’t even know they have a mask on. White people think it’s their actual face. We need to get to know the mask. (Time stamp 17:54)” (www.theblaze.com/news/yale-hosts-psychopathic-problem-of-the-white-mind-talk-doc-tells-how-she-fantasizes-about-shooting-white-people; https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/06/nyregion/yale-psychiatrist-aruna-khilanani.html?fbclid=IwAR2cJG_WSAYmOJecGpvnuKRmeabj6zcoQEdGA3Irkx_zkIh9w2V_TWqJTgs; and https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/the-psychopathic-problem-of-the-white). Khilanani has taught in the past at Cornell, Columbia, and New York Universities (www.theblaze.com/news/yale-hosts-psychopathic-problem-of-the-white-mind-talk-doc-tells-how-she-fantasizes-about-shooting-white-people).
American medical institutions have been infiltrated by the new commune-fascist ideology, which is really just a cover for introducing Marxism. “Whiteness” can now be characterized as a genetically caused disease in leading universities and scientific journals. In May 2021, the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association published article “On Having Whiteness” written by a black fascist, Donald Ross, MD. The journal abstract for the article reads: “Whiteness is a condition one first acquires and then one has—a malignant, parasitic-like condition to which “white” people have a particular susceptibility. The condition is foundational, generating characteristic ways of being in one’s body, in one’s mind, and in one’s world. Parasitic Whiteness renders its hosts’ appetites voracious, insatiable, and perverse. These deformed appetites particularly target nonwhite peoples. Once established, these appetites are nearly impossible to eliminate. Effective treatment consists of a combination of psychic and social-historical interventions. Such interventions can reasonably aim only to reshape Whiteness’s infiltrated appetites—to reduce their intensity, redistribute their aims, and occasionally turn those aims toward the work of reparation. When remembered and represented, the ravages wreaked by the chronic condition can function either as warning (“never again”) or as temptation (“great again”). Memorialization alone, therefore, is no guarantee against regression. There is not yet a permanent cure” (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/00030651211008507?journalCode=apaa&fbclid=IwAR3uvydXgUnIXLZ2NoExCKN7bmASl3HKo0NwzVO-QKunA7aQzMw8snp03kQ). Ross was hosted a conference of the The New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute in 2020 in which he presented on the same theme (https://internationalpsychoanalysis.net/on-having-whiteness-with-donald-moss-at-nypsi/?fbclid=IwAR2cJG_WSAYmOJecGpvnuKRmeabj6zcoQEdGA3Irkx_zkIh9w2V_TWqJTgs).
The U.S. military is now being subjected to racist critical race theory in which all whites are depicted as racists and the U.S. is characterized as institutionally racist, despite having had a black (half-black), president, secretary of state, Supreme Court justice and so on (https://www.dailywire.com/news/watch-cotton-reveals-military-whistleblower-complaints-on-woke-training-bidens-secdef-insists-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-is-important-to-this-military?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=benshapiro&fbclid=IwAR0fmGcSPi73jsTgXIN8NXiTf91HDiTyKW8EdEY7s4Cfh447GNO03i4B3pU).
These are just a few examples of how the Biden-Harris administration and its allies in all American institutions now are using fascist attacks on alleged ‘white supremacism’ to intimidate a key Republican constituency and pave the way for laws discriminating against whites and building a one-party dominant political system. Others include HR 1, politicization of the courts and the undermining of judicial independence and an unprecedented level of self-censorship and outright lies propagated by American mass media of all kinds in support of the Obama-Biden-Harris-communo-fascist agenda. Such trends in the US will make it rather easy for Russian, Chinese, and other authoritarian leaders to either join into an anti-white European campaign or discredit the freedoms of democracy as corrosive to reason, social harmony, and political stability. The Chinese might very opt for the first strategy; the very white Russians, obviously, the second. Afterall, Putin has long been the American left’s identitarian bogeyman, something which has made anti-Russian sentiment of a rather ignorant and extremist type a super-majority in the U.S. As I noted in my article linked to above, the authoriarianization effect of the American example is bound to and to some extent already is pushing democracies and would-be democracies in the other direction following the new American model. Another example came more recently, when Mldova’s parliament fired the country’s top supreme court judge in violation of the constitution (www.intellinews.com/eu-condemns-moldovan-parliament-s-vote-to-sack-top-constitutional-court-judge-209023/?source=moldova). The proliferation of authoritarianism is a bane for the ‘democratic peace’—that is it makes war more likely, since IR theory data shows that authoritarian regimes are more likely to go to war, since democracies do not go to war with each other, eliminating a series of potential military conflicts in the universe of potential such conflicts.
Maidan Meltdown: America’s De-Democratization Domino Effect in One Country
The de-democratization demonstration and domino effect of an authoritarianizing America will encourage de-democratization globally but is especially dangerous among the weak and unstable democracies of the cleft countries in Eastern Europe/western Eurasia. Ukraine, in addition to being the breaking point that consolidated the new cold war, has not reached the place of diginity, the revolt’s champions promised. Ukraine’s Maidan revolt, a regime change born in the blood of the 20 February 2014 Maidan snipers’ massacre carried out by the neofascist wing of the Maidan protests, and Kiev’s full-scale abandonment of relations with Russia have done little to bring democracy or end corruption. It is not the Russian army but Ukrainian authoritarianism that is on the offensive and approaching Kiev unhindered. A weak democracy since the Soviet collapse, Ukraine is backsliding on rather than building up democratic institutions. Moreover, the threat of the establishment of a very harsh ultranationalist authoritarian regime remains, given the influence of the many ultra-nationalist and neo-fascist groups that populate Ukraine’s rather uncivil society. Ukraine could even end up more authoritarian than Russia.
President Volodomyr Zelenskiy – whose election gave some hope for a Ukrainian government more accommodating to democracy, the interests of ethnic Russian Ukrainians, fighting corruption, and seeing an end to the Donbass civil war – has been weakening the Maidan regime’s already frail democracy under pressure from corrupt oligarchs fearing transparency and from ultranationalists and neofascists hoping to parley the failing Maidan ‘revolution of dignity’ into a full blown ultranationalist revolution, to restart the Donbass war, and even to conduct subversive operations in Crimea.
Regarding democratization, Zelenskiy has allowed the SBU and ultranationalists to continue harassing and attacking democratcy-oriented and pro-Russian politicians and media. On February 2nd, Zelenskiy closed three independent television channels connected to oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk and issued a series of other sanctions against him, and the DBR (Ukraine’s FBI) opened a treason investigation against the oligarch (https://hvylya.net/news/225016-zelenskiy-prokommentiroval-zakrytie-telekanalov-medvedchuka). At the same time, the SBU opened a case against a journalist who interviewed Medvedchuk after Zelenskiy’s sanctions hit Medvedchuk (https://vesti.ua/strana/vopros-zhurnalistki-medvedchuku-vyzval-reaktsiyu-sbu). The international community – the UN, EU, the International Association of Journalists, Germany, and, of course, Moscow – was critical of Zelenskiy’s repressive actions against Medvedchuk. At the same time, the contact information of Medvedchuk’s wife, accusations of illegal business activity, and condemnation of her supposed opposition to Ukraine’s independence from the Russian Orthodox Church were posted on the notorious website ‘Mirotvorets’, which publishes information on ‘enemies of Ukraine’—a practice that has ended in the murder of several journalists and other opposition-oriented figures (https://vesti.ua/mir/supruga-medvedchuka-oksana-marchenko-popala-v-bazu-sajta-mirotvorets). About half the population, two-thirds in western Ukraine, support the Medvedchuk ban (https://www.kiis.com.ua/?lang=ukr&cat=reports&id=1006&page=1&fbclid=IwAR2T8P9xnb7Nw39GlxvX8EGO36xtZivvJZK2MJ1mm3WUDUxdb2jhk7sWq-M).
At the same time, Zelenskiy has reneged on his promise to soften the Poroshenko administrations’ harsh language law, which seeks to drive the Russian language out of Ukrainian life, though half the population speaks Russian as its main language and many others also speak it. In mid-March, Zelenskiy unconstitutionally fired the chairman of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court, a power the constitution does not grant the Ukrainian president (www.pravda.com.ua/rus/news/2021/03/27/7288051/).
Meanwhile, the ultranationalists and neofascists, who enthusiastically support these measures, are stepping up the pressure on him to crackdown on those who support peace and ethnic Russians’ language and other rights and re-start the Donbass war. On the background of Zelenskiy’s declining popularity, a large demonstration of some 1,500 ‘ultras’ marched on and vandalized the exterior of the presidential offices in Kiev on March 20th to the tune of $72,000 demanding the release of their radical ultra-nationalist comrade, Sergei Sternenko, convicted and sentenced to seven years and deprivation of half of his property in February for kidnapping, torture, and extortion to force a deputy of a district council in Odessa to refuse his council seat (https://vesti.ua/strana/sud-odessy-obyavil-prigovor-sternenko; https://strana.ua/news/323870-mitinh-za-sternenko-20-marta-v-kieve-onlajn-transljatsija.html?fbclid=IwAR2eHSZ-lwrVDN77Q1i4lu_6vEDtfqI2vzEdzEADxUZuZnjXdukn5eRTbBA). His lawyer claimed after sentencing that Sternenko had saved Odessa from “colaborationists” and the declaration of a people’s republic and turning to Russia as occurred in Donetsk and Luhansk, sparking the Donbass civil war. On 2 May 2014 a group of neofascists initiated a conflict with anti-Maidan protesters, chasing some into a trade union building and setting it on fire killing at least 40. Sternenko may have been involved in this terrorist pogrom. The neofascists’ influence on the Zelenskiy administration through their continuing control of Ukraine’s streets paid off for Sternenko. On 9 April, Sternenko was released to house arrest (https://vesti.ua/strana/sternenko-otpustili-iz-pod-strazhi-i-otpravili-pod-domashnij-arest). The list of wounds and trauma Sternenko inflicted on his victim, Sergei Shcherbin, makes for difficult reading, having been beaten and stabbed numerous times (https://strana.ua/articles/analysis/319652-kak-v-ukraine-sudili-serheja-sternenko-za-napadenie-na-deputata-serheja-shcherbicha.html).
Upon release Sternenko declared he is a victim of a “separatist”—a word used, along with ‘collaborationist’ by Ukrainian siloviki, ultranationalists, and neofascists to dehumanize the opposition much the way the Biden-Harris administration deploys the words ‘white supremacist’ and ‘racism’ or Moscow uses the term ‘fifth column’ (https://vesti.ua/strana/sternenko-spas-odessu-ot-rossii-advokat and https://strana.ua/news/327264-apelljatsija-po-delu-radikala-sternenko-prokhodit-v-odesse-9-aprelja.html). Such releases to house arrest of ultranationalist criminals have occurred numerous times in Ukrainian jurisprudence and law enforcement, often with the arrestee or convict soon disappearing. Sternenko has a long record of political violence. He and his co-conspirator in the 2015 kidnapping and torture case, Ruslan Demchuk, were leading members of the local Odessa branch of the neofascist ‘Right Sector’ group, about which I have written extensively (https://strana.ua/articles/analysis/319652-kak-v-ukraine-sudili-serheja-sternenko-za-napadenie-na-deputata-serheja-shcherbicha.html). Oddly, enough Washington and Brussels while outraged over the phantom of white supremacism in the West show no concern over the numerous neofascist terrorist attacks and creeping fascization in Ukraine, about which I have written extensively. In other words, the U.S. is going down the same road as Russia and China of using human rights in the most – rather than less as before – cynical way. On the latter two authoritarian countries’ cynical hypocrisy, one only needs to recall Dmitrii Medvedev’s recent critique of American elections and the Chinese foreign minister’s recent references to supposed white supremacism in America during a meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State.
Since being elected in April 2019, Zelenskiy’s popularity has been in consistent decline, falling from 73 percent as of his inauguration to 45 percent today (http://ratinggroup.ua/ru/research/ukraine/obschestvenno_politicheskie_nastroeniya_naseleniya_6-7_aprelya_2021.html; https://news.liga.net/politics/news/otnoshenie-ukraintsev-k-zelenskomu-rezko-uhudshilos—opros-kmis; and https://24tv.ua/ru/kak_izmenilos_otnoshenie_ukraincev_k_zelenskomu_svezhij_rejting_n1288555). His Sluga naroda (Servant of the People or SN) party’s rating has fallen as well. If in the 2019 Rada elections, it won 43 percent of the party vote and in two-thirds of the single-mandate districts, it would now receive only 23 percent of the vote if elections were held today. Thus, it would need to form a coalition to sustain a majority. Moreover, there are opposition forces that could also form such a majority, given that former president Petro Poroshenko’s party ‘European Solidarity’ is now backed by 14.6 percent, Medvedchuk’s pro-Russian ‘Party of the Opposition – New Life’ – 14.2 percent, Yulia Tymoshenko’s nationalistic ‘Fatherland’, 12.0 percent, and several others with 2-5 percent, including the ultrnationalist Radical Party (4.4 percent), Oleh Tyagnibok’s misnamed neofascist ‘Freedom’ party (3.4 percent) (http://ratinggroup.ua/ru/research/ukraine/obschestvenno-politicheskie_nastroeniya_naseleniya_6-7_aprelya_2021.html). Poroshenko’s and Tymoshenko’s parties are both nationalist and penetrated by ultras. Medvedchuk’s party and blogger Anatolii Sharii’s ‘Party of Sharii’ party (3.4 percent) are positioning themselves to form a pro-Russian bloc in the Rada and can content together as of now for 17.6 percent, not far below SN’s 22.9. Yevgenii Muraev’s party ‘Ours’ (3.5 percent) could very well join such a coalition, as he ran on the Party of the Opposition – New Life ticket in the 2019 Rada elections. Such a coalition, with 21.1 percent support, would be even with Zelenskiy’s SN (http://ratinggroup.ua/ru/research/ukraine/obschestvenno-politicheskie_nastroeniya_naseleniya_6-7_aprelya_2021.html). Sharii has already hinted he would be willing to join with Medvedchuk’s to form a majority after the next Rada elections, assuming they have the necessary seats (https://vesti.ua/politika/opzzh-medvedchuka-i-partiya-shariya-mogut-vzyat-bolshinstvo-v-sleduyushhej-rade). In short, there are threats to Zelenksiy’s rule that ar prompting his authoritarian measures.
Zelenskiy’s growing authoritarianism is fraught with grave risk. It reduces the difference between he and the ultranationalists, making a choice in favor of the latter by oligarchic kingmakers and/or the voting public less of a risky leap and therefore more likely. Also, Zelenskiy’s rapidly declining popularity, and the growing influence of ultra-nationalists and neofascists raises the specter of a restart of the Donbass civil—something that would play into hands of the extremists. Indeed, the ultranationalist extremists almost scuttled the Putin-Zelenskiy ceasefire agreement and may be playing a role in its recent unraveling and possible complete collapse. All this comes on the background of growing tensions between the U.S. and the West, on the one hand, and China and Russian, on the other.
The Mounting NATO-Russia Military-Strategic Confrontation
Over the last few decades the military-strategic situation between Russia and NATO has sharply deteriorated. NATO expansion has brought world history’s most powerful military alliance to Russia’s borders in the Baltic region and to the borders of Russian allies Belarus. NATO expansion has driven democracy-promotion in the region, sparking color revolutions in states that then turn against Russia but do not meet the standard of democracy needed to become a NATO member as the democracy-promotion is intended to facilitate. At the same time, due to the above, the NATO-Russian Council is all but defunct and useless when functioning. NATO expansion along with other factors has led to the waning of critical treaties that undergirded the post-Cold War strategic balance: the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the Open Skies Treaty. The START III treaty has been extended, but a new strategic arms control treaty’s prospects are mediocre. This removes the underpinning of the post-Cold War security infrastructure, which is being repaced by the unilateral expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders.
On this shaky background, NATO expansion, color revolutions, Russian reactions and overreactions have created a cycle of military-strategic escalation in Eastern Europe broadely defined as the region from the Black Sea and Transcaucasus to the Baltic Sea. Most recently, NATO held its largest military exercises in Europe in thirty years, deploying for some two months beginning in spring some 28,000 NATO troops from the Black to Baltic to Baring Seas. Russia responded upping the ante by redeploying troops to increase the joint Russian force stationed in its Westerm Military District, creating some 20 new military formations and 2,000 additional units of weapons by the end of 2021. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed, putting aside the recent NATO maneuvers, that in thr last seven years the “intensity” of US strategic bomber flights in Europe has grown by a factor of fourteen (https://nvo.ng.ru/realty/2021-06-03/1_1143_understanding.html).
Winds of War in and around Ukraine
On the Ides of March, over a month ago now, I wrote that I suspected on a hunch that the Donbass war was soon to restart (www.facebook.com/gordon.hahn1/posts/10225070692056007). The situation on the front afterall had been deteriorating for months. Head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Commission Halit Chevik noted that during the height of the U.S. presidential election campaign the level of gunfire along the contact line in Donbass declined, but from November both sides became more aggressive. Both sides began firing more often, began digging trenches, and increasing the number of forces, he noted (https://strana.ua/news/317189-sovbez-oon-po-donbassu-11-fevralja-2021-hlavnye-zajavlenija-i-analiz.html). In February of this year, after Biden’s inauguration, former president Petro Poroshenko called essentially for an end to the ceasefire by demanding the Ukrainian army return to positions held prior to the ceasefire withdrawal, and Zelenskiy advisor Yermak said conflict in summer was inevitable as Russia was preparing a surprise. There followed a sudden large increase in the number of ceasefire violations along the Donbass contact line in mid-February (https://strana.ua/news/317890-obostrenie-na-donbasse-pochemu-arestovich-hovorit-o-vojne-vesnoj-letom.html). Subsequently, Zelenskiy ordered troops rotating to the front and heavy weapons to move nearer to the conflict zone as a show of strength (https://intellinews.com/trenin-russia-ukraine-war-alert-what-s-behind-it-and-what-lies-ahead-207943/?source=ukraine). In early March, the OSCE was reporting that Ukrainian anti-tank artillery and howitzers had been removed from the designated ceasefire storage points and that Ukraine had also begun deploying Zenith rocket complexes to the front (https://strana.ua/news/321475-obstrel-donetska-2021-pochemu-snova-bombjat-donbass.html).
Perhaps, Biden’s well-known ties to the Maidan regime encouraged forces at the front, the ‘war party’ of Poroshenko and others, and subsequently Zelenskiy himself to take matters more earnestly to the rebels. Perhaps, Zelenskiy was trying to get Biden’s attention, as he had not phoned Kiev since taking his chair in the Oval Office. To some extent the Russian troop movements and massing at the new Voronezh field not far from the Donbass border were outsized Russian responses to the Ukrainians’ ‘leaning forward.’
Since the hunch, rumors and possible signs of war have been blowing in Ukraine. On that same March 15th day, Kiev put its troops along the contact line with the Donbass rebel forces on “full combat readiness,” claiming the latter had returned to its previous forward positions after a drawback by both sides under an agreement with the Normandy Group of Four (Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France) (https://vesti.ua/politika/ukrainskie-vojska-na-donbasse-privedeny-v-polnuyu-boevuyu-gotovnost). But the OSCE did not report this in its daily reports leading up to this claim by Kiev. On March 24th, a large contingent of what might be additional rather than replacement troops was videotaped crossing the Crimean bridge linking the peninsula with the Russian mainland (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gll377FeZvI&t=113s&ab_channel=%D0%A3%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%97%D0%BD%D1%81%D1%8C%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%B4%D0%B0). Another echelon appears to have arrived the same way on the 29th (www.youtube.com/watch?v=vb0ZWc70gOk&ab_channel=Ukra%D1%97ner). However, moving troops into Crimea would hardly coincide with planning an invasion and annexation of the Donbass. On March 25th President Zelenskiy signed Ukraine’s new Military Security Strategy that designates Russia a “military adversary” “temporarily occupying” Crimea and Donbass and that sets out “goals, priorities and objectives of state policy in the military, defense and military construction, which are aimed at…“cessation of illegal occupation by the Russian Federation of part of the territory of Ukraine” (www.president.gov.ua/documents/1212021-37661). In other words, Ukraine has sated that it seeks to retake Crimea and Donbass by military force or at least develop the capacity to do so likely in alliance with other states, since the strategy also says that Ukraine cannot hope to match Russian power.
The next day, fighting in the Donbass broke out in greater intensity and four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a mortar attack (https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/ukraine-soldiers-dead-mortar-attack-countrys-east-76710151#:~:text=Ukraine%E2%80%99s%20military%20says%20four%20of%20its%20soldiers%20have,forces%20have%20been%20fighting%20Russian-backed%20separatists%20since%202014). However, it was only until 30 March that General Ruslan Khomchak, chief of the general staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces accused Russian forces of building up thousands of troops and military equipment near Ukraine’s border under the guise of training maneuvers (www.rferl.org/a/ukrainian-russian-military-buildup-border/31180563.html). Khomchak’s remarks were made at a session of the Rada, which adopted a resolution declaring the Donbass civil war to be a war with Russia, which by some in Moscow and elsewhere was perceived as a soft declaration of war. In a very extended interview with the news site Gordon.ua, Khomchak stated that it is “possible” that the Ukrainian army would undertake an offensive, adding: “The Ukrainian army should be prepared. The basic task of the Ukrainian army is to defend the territorial integrity and independence of our state. So that we can fulfill this task, we should be prepared to both attack and to defend and to conduct maneuvering actions” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BJhZ6YHse0&t=4s&ab_channel=%D0%90%D0%BB%D0%B5%D1%81%D1%8F%D0%91%D0%B0%D1%86%D0%BC%D0%B0%D0%BD and https://inosmi.ru/politic/20210330/249455313.html). That same day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and President Putin met by video conference on several international issues, including the intensification of the conflict in Ukraine. They remained in agreement that the Minsk peace process and recent Paris accords must be fulfilled by both sides in the conflict (https://jamestown.org/program/nothing-about-us-without-us-normandy-without-ukraine/).
On March 31st the U.S. European Command stepped up to its highest alert level status (www.politico.com/news/2021/03/31/pentagon-russia-aggression-eastern-europe-478773). In the last days of March and on April 1st, the U.S. Secretary of State, the U.S. Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the U.S. Defense Secretary spoke with their Ukrainian counterparts (https://vesti.ua/politika/stala-izvestna-data-telefonnogo-razgovora-bajdena-s-zelenskim). On 2 April, an explosion of fighting occurred between the Ukrainian army and Donbass rebels with some 400-600 ceasefire violations, when for most of the year, the daily figures were well below 100 (www.osce.org/special-monitoring-mission-to-ukraine/482787). These developments seem to mark the unraveling of the June 2020 ceasefire worked out by Putin and Zelenskiy and a continued stuttering of the four-party (Kiev, Moscow, Berlin, and Paris) Minsk process, with its last presidential summit occurring in Paris 17 months ago.
After the fighting had escalated in Donbass, Biden phoned Zelenskiy. The official White House summary of the call reads: “President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. President Biden affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea. He emphasized his administration’s commitment to revitalize our strategic partnership in support of President Zelenskyy’s plan to tackle corruption and implement a reform agenda based on our shared democratic values that delivers justice, security, and prosperity to the people of Ukraine. The leaders agreed these reforms are central to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. They also discussed the importance of close United States-Ukraine cooperation to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen democracy in the region” (www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/02/readout-of-president-joseph-r-biden-jr-call-with-president-volodymyr-zelenskyy-of-ukraine/).
Several points stand out in this statement. First, there is no aggression ongoing in Crimea, if by aggression means armed violence. There was no armed violence when Russian forces occupied Crimea in March 2014. Russia occupies Crimea, has annexed it, and will not surrender it without World War III, and the overwhelming majority of the population of Crimea supports Russian as opposed to Ukrainian rule regardless of the illegal nature of Russia’s reunification with Crimea. The fighting in Donbass was started by Kiev and is being conducted by a local insurgent army receiving military and other forms of assistance from Moscow, excluding the two Russian incursions in September 2014 and February 2015 in order to save Donbass forces encircled by the Ukrainian army. So the White House statement is as tough as it is unrealistic. Second, is the equal emphasis put on “democratic values” and “justice.” As is well known the term ‘justice’ is now a leftist code word meaning economic equality and opposition to ‘white supremacism,’ certainly as used by liberals and leftists in the U.S. Third, as discussed above, Zelenskiy is not implementing democratization but rolling democracy back. Moreover, there is no serious fight against corruption, as demonstrated by one fact especially among numerous others: Ihor Kolomoiskii remains free. Kolomoiskii is Zelenskiy’s corrupt close associate, financial backer of his presidential campaign, and a partner in the Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma, which hired President Biden’s drug and sex addict son as a board member two months after the Maidan revolt and is closely associated with Burisma’s corrupt owner (for more on Kolomoiskii, Burisma head Zlochevskii, and the Bidens, see https://gordonhahn.com/2020/12/29/the-authoritarianization-putinization-of-america-parts-1-and-2-complete/). In sum, this call was initiated by Biden mostly for domestic political purposes. Given all the noise his party has made about Putin and Trump’s alleged betrayal of Ukraine which promted the first impeachment, the new U.S. president had been long overdue in contacting his Ukrainian counterpart/minion. The danger lies in the encouragement that any Washington engagement or the perception thereof might have on the nationalist, ultra-nationalist and neo-fascist war party and the undisciplined neo-fascist former volunteer battalions now formally part of the Ukrainian army.
Moscow, along with Berlin and Paris, holds that there is no alternative process to the Minsk Two agreement and process and that Ukraine must at in accordance with the four parties’ original interpretation of its terms. Recent leaked French-German proposals submitted to Kyiv confirm this. The troika also concur that Zelenskiy’s failure to carry out the Paris summit’s decisions that the four parties settled on in December 2019 obviates the need for another four-way summit, given the lack of progress this failure wrought. the inordinate influence of ultranationalist/neofascist ‘party of war’ in the corridors of power, on the streets, and on the front lines in Ukraine. Zelenskiy’s weak in the face of the ultra/neofascist threat could lead to a repeat of the Poroshenko administration, in which the then president was fully coopted and converted former to the radicals’ cause, although he surely embraced them more for political than ideological reasons. While anti-corruption can weaken the oligarchs in a long war, a showdown with the ultranationalist/neofascist danger could arrive quickly should any president, especially a weak one, make major compromises in pursuit of peace. The radicals can break and have broken ceasefires, can and have engaged in terrorism, and can and have killed political opponents – and they have threatened Zelenskiy himself – and they have high-ranking patrons. The ultra-nationalists and neofascists of the National Corps, Azov, Right Sector, Svoboda Party, C14, and others have threatened another revolt (national revolution’) and promised to continue war regardless of Zelenskiy’s pursuit of peace. On the eve of the Paris talks, such “anti-capitulationists” occupied the area in front of the presidential office, threatening to revolt if Zelenskiy crossed ‘red lines’ they laid down: (no federalization, no special status for Donbass, no Donbass elections before Kiev regains control over the Donbass/Russian border section—the latter two demands violate the Paris accords). After Paris, they declared the president had not crossed their red lines. They packed up their tents and departed but vowed to continue the Donbass war (https://strana.ua/news/238399-nasha-vojna-prodolzhaetsja-mitinhujushchie-pod-ofisom-prezidenta-ne-uvideli-zrady-v-parizhe-no-poobeshchali-novyj-majdan-u-rady.html?fbclid=IwAR0OhcWqVoKNhdlNQfv9pwPsOjdlyeGp9Ah0UI0X8kD4ntVYvTDuKlQDKI8 and https://gordonhahn.com/2019/12/23/hope-against-hope-in-paris-vvp-ze-and-some-from-the-west-update/).
In another demonstration of neofascist radicalism, the neofascist, anti-Semite and Russophobe, Oleh Tyahnibok criticized the negotiations. Calling the Russian troop movements that the Kremlin says are connected with ongoing training exercises, “a demonstration of weakness,” he continued: “Even our old politicians were convinced that it is impossible to negotiate with Putin. It is weakness, connected with the fact that they (Russia) are breaking their teeth on Ukraine. There is no need to fear their threats. It will end in that they will collapse into 20-30 states and Ukraine will be the beginning of their collpase” (https://vesti.ua/politika/putin-organizoval-zvonok-bajdena-o-chem-eshhe-dogadalis-v-pyatnitsu-u-shustera). This is far throw from Zelenskiy’s campaign promise to negotiate with Putin an end to the Donbass war and his meetings and agreement with Putin in Paris under the auspices of the Normandy Four. Tyahnibok’s deceptively named neofascist ‘Freedom’ (Svoboda) Party has led neofascist torch-lit marches through Kiev. Tyahnibok led the party’s attack on the parliament building three years ago and its involvement in the neofascist snipers’ massacre of police and demonstrators of 20 February 2014 that the Maidan revolt and the West blamed on Viktor Yanukovych (https://gordonhahn.com/2016/03/09/the-real-snipers-massacre-ukraine-february-2014-updatedrevised-working-paper/). If talks with Putin and the EU had moved or do move to tackle the high hanging fruit in the conflict, Zelenskiy likely will be facing a crisis at home. The Crimea Platform may be a counter to the Minsk process or a sop or honest compromise with the neo-fascists.
NATO and the Developing Turko-Ukrainian Strategic Partnership
On this background, NATO and its member-states also have become ever more active in Ukraine and around Ukraine. Of course, as I have demonstrated elsewhere, NATO expansion was a major cause of the 2013-2014 Ukrainian crisis, Maidan revolt, Crimean annexation, and Donbass civil war (https://gordonhahn.com/2016/01/21/report-the-russian-american-reset-nato-expansion-and-the-making-of-the-ukrainian-crisis/). And as I have argued elsewhere, NATO expansion’s internal logic leads to eternal expansion, since each expansion brings new territory NATO must secure and defend (https://gordonhahn.com/2016/05/21/the-internal-logic-of-eternal-nato-expansion/). In 2019, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO was determining “what more we can do to enhance our security in the Black Sea region (www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_165234.htm). Naturally, the region would not have been part of ‘our security’, if NATO had not expanded to Bulgaria, and Rumania, excluding the Cold War era expansion to Turkey. In recent years, therefore, NATO-Rumanian military exercises were held, Rumania a mere 150 miles from Crimea. NATO and Ukraine conduct annually springtime ‘Sea Breeze’ military exercises in and around the Black Sea, where Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet naval base has been located for decades. Sea Breeze exercises bring U.S. guided missile destroyers, expeditionary fast transport and other ships, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy divers, U.S. maritime patrol aircraft to the region, and warships from Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, all of which are part of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two. Shortly after the Maidan revolt, US Navy construction teams began visiting Ukraine’s Ochakiv Naval Base and the Military facility at Mykolaiv, located some 40 miles east of Odessa and less than 100 miles northwest of Crimea. Last year, they began to expand and upgrade these sites, reinforcing existing piers, adding a new floating dock, building security fencing around the bases, and constructing ship repair facilities and two new Maritime Operations Centers from which Ukrainian and NATO forces can command exercises and other activities (https://breakingdefense.com/2019/07/us-upgrading-ukraine-ports-to-fit-american-warships/).
From January to February, the U.S. maintained a naval presence in the Black Sea, and NATO confirmed that Ukraine was moving ahead with plans to build two naval bases on the Black Sea, where U.S. and NATO forces have been upgrading the Okachiv naval base and Mikolaiv military center. U.S. Navy destroyers, the USS Porter and USS Donald Cook, operated with allies and Ukraine’s navy in the Black Sea beginning in January. Both warships, along with a P-8A reconnaissance plane, also operated with two frigates and F-16 fighters from Turkey, which controls access to the Black Sea, according to international treaty. The destroyers departed after 17 days and “one of the Navy’s largest deployments in the Black Sea in recent years” (www.stripes.com/news/europe/ukraine-plans-black-sea-bases-as-us-steps-up-presence-in-region-1.661679). Meanwhile, the new Ukrainian naval bases will be able to host NATO naval forces in greater force, and the construction is being funded in part by NATO member Great Britain. A U.S. officer stated this was part of NATO efforts to develop “an enhanced forward presence” in the Black Sea region (www.stripes.com/news/europe/ukraine-plans-black-sea-bases-as-us-steps-up-presence-in-region-1.661679).
At the same time, NATO member Turkey has turned to active military assistance to Kiev and Erdogan has expressed support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity. However, any major war that shook Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea would likely be used by Ankara to claim its sovereignty over the territory perhaps in a joint protectorate with Kiev. Erdogan visited Kiev in February 2020 and Zelenskiy announced that Turkey would provide $36 million in military aid, and a deal was signed for Ukraine to provide the An-178 high-wing transport aircraft to Turkey. The leaders also declared intent to double bilateral trade from $5 billion to $10 billion. In October 2020, Ukraine agreed to provide technical knowledge to Turkey in support of Ankara’s space agency and a satellite research and development laboratory to Roketsan, Ankara’s leading state-owned missile and rocket engine and satellite producer. In December 2020, the first meeting between foreign and defense ministry officials of both countries – the so-called Quadriga (2 + 2) joint consultations was held in Kiev. In March 2021, a second meeting was convened in Ankara. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s official statement on the consultations disclosed the territorial expanse and functional scale of the new strategic partnership: “National coordinators discussed ways to deepen cooperation between Ukraine and Turkey in the field of security and defense to restore stability and security in the Black Sea region, and to further develop cooperation in the defense industry. A separate topic of the consultations was the current situation on the Crimean peninsula temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation and the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions […] The participants in the consultations exchanged views on the prospects for resolving conflicts in the regions of the Middle East, North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Caucasus.” Ukraine noted that Turkey’s representatives confirmed their support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea and that other topics in the consultations included preparations for the ninth meeting of the High-Level Strategic Council chaired by the Presidents of Ukraine and Turkey to be held this year, interaction within international organizations, and ways to further increase trade and investment between the two countries. Significantly, the Turkish side confirmed Ankara’s readiness to participate in the Crimean Platform towards consolidation of international efforts to end the annexation of Crimea (https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/732630.html). Incidentally, during the April 2nd phone conversation between Zelenskiy and Biden, their first, the former invited the latter to attend in Kiev the Crimea Platform’s first “summit” (https://vesti.ua/politika/zelenskij-vpervye-pogovoril-s-bajdenom-itogi). Russia has responded negatively to this cooperation, with Russian Foreign Minister issuing a warning to Ankara not to encourage “aggressive” actions by ultra-nationalist hotheads in Kiev (https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-ukraine/moscow-warns-turkey-over-ukraine-ties). Turkey’s offerings represent NATO military assistance to Kiev, and a Turkish-Ukrainian semi-alliance increases Ukraine’s and NATO’s capacity to cause problems for Moscow in Crimea, Donbass, and elsewhere. Regarding ‘elsewhere,’ one need only recall Ankara’s support for ISIS- and Al Qaida-tied jihadis in Syria, many of whom were from jihadi ISIS- and AQ-tied jihadi groups in Russia’s North Caucasus.
Moreover, with last year’s brief Nagorno-Karabakh war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the last month, Turkey, through its new military peacekeeping presence in Nagorno-Karabakh, secured a bridgehead for extending its influence in the South Caucasus, creating greater NATO pressure on Russia in a new front. At the same time, Russia was brought deeper into the region as a result of the brief war. Its resulting truce and peacekeeping agreement negotiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, saddles Moscow with a risky peace-keeping operation in the breakaway republic while creating a new military presence for Moscow in the South Caucasus bringing it closer to contact with Turkish and/or Azerbaijani troops (https://gordonhahn.com/2020/11/15/the-russia-west-tinderbox/). Moreover, given Azerbaijan’s history as a conduit of jihadis moving between Syria and Iraq (through Turkey), on the one hand, and Russia, on the other, the new post-war configuration in the South Caucasus adds to Moscow’s security concerns: the new potential threat of Turkish-Ukrainian-NATO assistance to jihadi terrorists in Russia.
Finally, the 1936 Montreaux Treaty that gives Turkey sovereignty over civilian sea passage and limits naval passage through the Straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles could be rendered moot by the Istanbul Canal under construction by Ankara that will run parallel to the Straits. The Montreaux Treaty, negotiated in Switzerland by Turkey, the USSR, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Japan, Rumania, and the United Kingdom, with Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the USSR preparing the main drafts. In accordance with the final treaty passage regulations only allow Black Sea states to bring capital ships (the largest kinds of naval ships such as aircraft carriers) through the straits. Non-Black-Sea powers wishing to send a naval vessel through the straits must inform Ankara at least eight days before the planned passage. No single ship with tonnage greater than 10,000 tons can make passage, and no more than nine foreign warships limited to an aggregate tonnage of 15,000 tons, may pass at any one time. An aggregate tonnage of all non-Black Sea warships at any one time located in the Black Sea cannot exceed 30,000 tons or under special conditions 45,000 tons). No naval ship can remain in the Black Sea longer than twenty-one days (www.mfa.gov.tr/site_media/html/montro-bogazlar-raporu-2014.pdf). These limits make Russia’s Black Sea Fleet naval base at Sevastopol, Crimea the valuable defense asset that it is, securing the Black Sea portion of Russia’s southern underbelly. Turkish officials have said the treaty may not be applicable to the new canal, opening the potential for unlimited naval presence in the Black Sea. More recently, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stated the treaty has no bearing whatsoever to the new canal, and Turkey will have full sovereingnty over it (https://vz.ru/news/2021/4/14/1094574.html); something Russia is unlikely to treat lightly, adding to the tensions around Crimea, Ukraine, Turkey, and NATO.
Summing Up the Western Theater
NATO expansion has brought world history’s most powerful military bloc to Russia’s border with Ukraine. Whereas earlier, Ukraine was a problematic buffer between Russia and NATO over which the two contending parties were tussling but nevertheless separated, now with Western forces in Ukraine and its waters we are near to a direct faceoff in Donbass and/or Crimea between Russian forces and NATO forces. On March 31st, Kremlin spokesman Dmitrii Peskov issued a statement, noting: “The Russian Federation moves its armed forces within its territory at its own discretion. This should not bother many, and it poses no threat to anyone.” He added that this was in connection with “increased activity of the Armed Forces of NATO countries, other associations, and individual countries around the perimeter of the Russian Federation’s borders. All of this obliges us to be on the alert” (https://vz.ru/news/2021/4/1/1092431.html). Less genuinely, he also said: “Russian troops have never taken and did not take part (in the Donbass conflict). This is an exclusively internal Ukrainian conflict and we, of course, … would not want the civil war in Ukraine to ignite again as a result of a provocation by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.” NATO expansion brought the 2013-14 Ukrainian crisis and overthrow over the neutral if highly corrupt Viktor Yanukovych, Putin’s annexation of Crimea, and the Donbass resistance necessarily backed by Moscow. Thus, Russia and the West missed the chance to institutionalize Ukraine as a buffer by constantly interfering in Kiev’s politics in order to turn Ukraine against the other. Instead, they helped to break Ukraine in two, each taking a part, bringing them into face-to-face standoff from Odessa through Crimea, Nikolaev (Mikolaiv) to Luhansk and Donetsk.
Russia will not brook NATO membership for Ukraine and will do almost anything to stop it. The NATO involvement in Ukraine risks an unwarranted action or overreaction on Moscow’s and/or Kiev’s part. More optimistically, it is unlikely that Washington and other hardline anti-Russian capitols such as London, Ottawa, Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn would intentionally encourage Kiev to undertake an offensive or provocation of Russia in the Donbass, especially since Germany, France, Hungary, Serbia, Italy, and Greece display some sympathy for the Russian position. However, it is entirely possible, though not yet likely, that the various signals emanating from the West – increasing military and diplomatic support for the Ukrainian military, belligerent statements by President Biden that Putin is a killer, and increased NATO activity in and around Ukraine – will lead to a repeat the Georgian scenario of spring and summer 2008. At that time Saakashvili – assuming the Richard Cheney wing of the Bush administration did not give a wink and a nod to the unstable leader, believing they could convince President Bush to back Tbilisi – mistook massive U.S. military, political, and diplomatic support from Washington and Brussels as a signal they would or perhaps could be positioned into backing his attempt to reintegrate Tbilisi with its breakaway regions of South Ossetiya and Abkhaziya, which he had promised voters he would return to the Georgian fold. Russia may be overdoing its military exercises and moving additional troops into Crimea in order to pressure Berlin and Paris to give a new kickstart in Kiev to the stalled Minsk process. On the downside, Moscow might be doing this in order to force Zelenskiy into a final conflict with the neofascists and thus destabilize Ukraine, laying blame for the resulting chaos at the West’s door.
Although I do not buy the talk that the danger of a restart of the Donbass war or the beginning of a larger war around Ukraine has passed, I do not expect that the low-intensity nature of the war will become a full-blown war again this summer, unless the Russians are provoked by some move by Kiev or a rogue move by the Donbass rebels. Since Nord Stream II is more important for the Kremlin, and Moscow is pushing hard to bring it on-line by the end of the year. Putin has no intentions of starting another conflict with Kiev that might force Berlin to abandon the project as Washington has demanded, threatening sanctions against its NATO allies. When it comes to their periphery, what we might consider a provocation is not what Russians consider a provocation, given Russia’s security culture and vigilance norm. The entire history of post-Cold War NATO expansion – from Kosovo and the march to Prishtina to South Ossetia to the Maidan revolt, Crimea, and Donbass to color revolutionism and democracy-promotion in the post-communist region – is testimony to this. Would Washington organize a provocation to sink Nord Stream? Therefore, a Ukrainian, even Western provocation and/or Russian misperception or miscalculation are real possibilities and must be taken into account. The situation in Belarus and even Moldova are wild cards that can destabilize the situation around Ukraine.
But much of the above is, if one can imagne, secondary. NATO expansion has forced the U.S., already on the verge of financial insolvency, to spend more and more on the military and intelligence. President Biden just requested $715 billion to counter the perceived threat from the marriage NATO made: Russia and China.
The Eastern Theater and the Russian and American Dilemmas
The troublesome configuration in western Eurasia is complimented by an equally vexing security deterioration in the Far East, with again Russia being drawn into more tensions with the West through its strategic partnership with the harsh authoritarian Chinese communist regime. The situation there is no less complex than that between NATO/Ukraine and Russia. Moreover, a crisis in one theatre could encourage actors in the other to make a move. There are already concerns in Washington about the growing potential for a two-front confrontation with China and Russia. At the same time, China is a potential threat to Russia. Meanwhile, Russia and the U.S. continue to feed the dragon.
As Russia is becoming less a soft authoritarian and a more middle-range authoritarian regime, it has deepened its partnership with post-totalitarian, hard authoritarian China. Moscow’s nearly complete break in relations with the West and a tectonic shift in its civilizational identity from Europe to Eurasia and its Asian pivot to Beijing – all largely a response to NATO expansion – has sharpened the global divide and East-West tensions. Russia, rather than joining the community of democracies and becoming an economic power linked to Western markets, saw NATO and turned east. Although Moscow endeavors to conduct a multivectoral foreign policy, it has increasingly hitched its wagon to rising China, which is becoming the superpower of Eurasia and Asia and a major player everywhere. By choosing Eastern Europe first over Russia, the West lost its chance to partner with Moscow form a powerful bloc against China’s rise in Eurasia, a potential two-front threat to Beijing, and a drag on its rise globally. The Eurasian alternative in Russian strategic thought has deep roots going back to the ‘Eurasianists’ in the Russian émigré` community in Europe in the 1920s. Options such as some new form of Eurasianism or an Asian pivot were available to Moscow immediately upon the Soviet collapse, and the West has done just about everything it could have in the last three decades to push Russians to reject the West and embrace the East.
There are several key factors driving China and Russia into a semi-alliance or ‘near-alliance’. First, both states are opposed to Western, especially American hegemony in the international system. Psychologically, Russia has a post-imperial complex that consists of resentment of the U.S. ‘victory’ in the Cold War. China rather than falling in power after defeat to the West is rising in power in the hope of defeating the West by becoming first the new non-Western antipod in a bilaterally structured system that will be short-lived and then the global hegemon. Second, both China and Russia are opposed to what are perceived as undue Western and American influence in their respective regions: for Russia NATO expansion along its western and southwestern borders with the Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and the Transcaucasus; for China Western presence on Taiwan and Hong Kong as well as Japan’s close relationship with the West are seen as threats or problematic. Third, both Russia and China are concerned about Western efforts to overthrow their domestic political regimes and/or those of neighbors and/or allies. Fourth, both Russia and China are dissatisfied with the American-Western dominance of the international economic and financial systems. Both are making moves to undermine the dollar’s dominance and insulate their own banking and monetary systems from dependence on the Western-dominated systems.
Russia-China Strategic Partnership as a Near-Alliance
Having driven Moscow into China’s arms, both Beijing and Moscow have embraced each other and opened their arms to other states with antagonistic or lukewarm relations with the West or with geostrategic vulnerabilities forging dependencies on China and/or Russia. Putting aside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s assertion that Russia and China do not plan to form a formal alliance, there already is a de facto or at least a situational or “near alliance”—a quasi-alliance that can function on occasion as a formal alliance without a written treaty. Since the expansion of NATO, the growth of Sino-Russian-founded and -led international organizations encompassing all of the Eurasian landmass writ large has been astounding. The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEC), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBORI), having some overlapping membership, encompasses every country on that landmass if one includes observer member and other secondary statuses such as the EAEC’s Free Trade Zone (FTZ) bilateral agreements. If one adds BRICS, then the three Eurasian great powers – Russia, China, and India – are united by full memberships in at least one international organization in SCO and OBORI by India’s observer member status and participation, respectively. From Turkey to Vietnam, from Mongolia to Belarus, and from Mumbai to Kalinigrad, Russia and China have tied Great Eurasia in a network of networks to compete against NATO, the EU, ASEAN, and Five Eyes.
Sino-Russian political, military and intelligence cooperation in targeting the West is intensifying, as Washington and Brussels continue to support anti-regime opposition forces in Russia and China. Politically, Russia and China take a common position against American democracy-promotion and color revolutions. Western Democracy-promotion – having become ever more politicized in terms of a focus on nudged, manufactured, instigated regime changes, and ever more militarized, with NATO expansion coming hand-in-hand or following closely on the heals of successful color revolutions – is becoming increasingly a central factor in Sino-Russian joint ventures of all kinds. Russia has concerns in general about this and specific vulnerabilities of potential separatism in the North Caucasus, the Far East, and the NATO-surrounded exclave of Kaliningrad. China has the same general concern and potential separatism in Muslim Uighur-populated Xingjiang, where Beijing has imprisoned one million by some accounts, Buddhist-dominated Tibet, and its own island exclave, Hong Kong. Therefore, they are increasingly positioned together against the West, especially Washington on almost every international issue. Moscow and Beijing have begun over the last few years to respond in kind, though the Russians’ efforts have been greatly exaggerated and China’s are being underestimated, even after the recent Sino-American foreign ministers’ summit, when Beijing lashed out at ‘American racism’ in support of their fellow Marxists, BLM and Antifa. On the international level, the West’s alienation of Russia has provided cover for China in UN votes, where if Moscow had not turned to Beijing, the latter would be isolated among the permanent members of the Security Council in its voting on key issues.
SCO and therefore China are increasingly working with Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). SCO has councils for the member-states’ defense ministers and security councils’ secretaries, respectively, which meet annually. One new measure is the creation of a joint Sino-Russian Joint Coordination Center or SKTs (Sovmestnyi koordinatsionnyi tsentr) to counter Western sanctions. Beijing and Moscow will institute counter-sanctions jointly in their own defense and in the defense of their allies in the EAEC, SCO, CSTO, BRICS, and OBORI that will include bans on entering the territory of the two countries or third countries sanctioned and mutual assistance in the face of sanctions. Moreover, they are coordinating their propaganda bilaterally and through SCO. Moscow and Beijing issued the same line regarding the possibility of U.S. responsibility for the emergence of COVID-19 and the pandemic. This is being noticed in far off places like Kiev and certainly Washington and Brussels. An influential Ukrainian media site, Strana.ru, recently noted that on back-to-back days Moscow and Beijing raised suspicions regarding U.S. laboratories in Ukraine suggesting they were engaged in research in service of the production of biological weapons (https://strana.ua/news/327110-biolaboratorii-ssha-v-ukraine-chto-o-nikh-izvestno.html). The secretary of Russia’s Security Council and former FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev stated on April 7th that Moscow had “weighty foundation to suggest” that this was being done in the U.S. labs in Ukraine (https://strana.ua/news/326940-sekretar-sovbeza-rf-predpolozhil-chto-ssha-razrabatyvajut-biolohicheskoe-oruzhie.html). The next day the Chinese Foreign Minister raised the very same issue (https://strana.ua/news/327104-kitaj-potreboval-ssha-raskryt-informatsiju-o-biolaboratorijakh-v-ukraine.html).
Under the Sino-Russian ‘strategic partnership, China is becoming more involved in Eurasia, including western Eurasian – that is, Eastern European – security and politico-military issues. For years now, the Sino-Russian-led SCO, founded as an international economic cooperation organization, has become gradually more ‘securitized.’ This development also has been driven by joint Sino-Russian consternation over democracy-promotion color revolutions. Propaganda is becoming an important element in Sino-Russian and SCO efforts to counter Western democracy-promotion and color revolutions, which are supported by considerable Western propaganda and other means. In 2018, SCO took charge of monitoring Belarus’s parliamentary elections (http://eng.sectsco.org/news/20191118/601003.html). It was a bit of an odd spectacle having China certify the validity of popular election results. Belarus, already a member of the CIS and CSTO, became an observer member of SCO in 2015, significantly after the blowup in Ukraine. SCO has become a forum of greater involvement by Belarus, especially since the Aleksandr Lukashenka regime comes under pressure from Western-backed nascent color revolutionaries. In short, China is in Belarus to stay, though at present it limits its activity to honor its Russian ally. There can be no doubt, however, that as elsewhere Beijing’s role will very gradually, almost imperceptively grow in Belarus and elsewhere in ‘Russia’s’ western Eurasia and ‘the West’s’ Eastern Europe. This comes on the background of increasing Russian military and intelligence activity with Belarus in response to the color revolution threat to Lukashenka’s regime; a crisis that has made Lukashenka’s Belarus more dependent, not less dependent on Moscow (and Beijing) (www.ng.ru/armies/2021-03-09/2_8097_moscow.html).
Militarily, since 2005, after the Ukrainian and Georgian color revolutions, Russia’s military began conducting military exercises with the Chinese military. Since then, there have been numerous bilateral and multilateral exercises, sometimes with Central Asian militaries within the framework of SCO. “(T)hese drills have increased in frequency, scope, and complexity,” according to Weitz (www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Weitz%20Testimony.pdf). The two Eurasian superpowers have been conducting joint naval exercises in regions where the West is seen as interloping in their border regions (www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/DOP-2018-U-018184-Final.pdf and http://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/10/23/russia-and-china-take-military-partnership-to-new-level-a67852). They conducted aerospace security exercises in 2017, exchanging command-and control information (www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Weitz%20Testimony.pdf). China and Russia now conduct joint strategic bomber patrols close to American bases in the Pacific and to bases of our allies; the first occurring in 2019 (https://thediplomat.com/2019/07/the-significance-of-the-first-ever-china-russia-strategic-bomber-patrol/). They hold joint large-scale military maneuvers on the territory of Russia and China, holding their largest in 2018 (www.economist.com/europe/2018/09/06/russia-and-china-hold-the-biggest-military-exercises-for-decades). A joint Sino-Russian lunar space station is now in the pipeline that will put a permanent end to U.S.-Russian space cooperation and extent the new cold war into the cosmos. Projects include a joint lunar space station (https://journal-neo.org/2021/04/29/russia-and-china-have-big-plans-in-space/ and http://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-04-17/yuri-gagarin-russia-u-s-and-china-are-in-a-deadly-new-space-race). At the same time, Beijing and Moscow have undertaken efforts to shape the correlation of military power in space by proposing in 2008 and again in 2014 a ban an anti-satelite weapons in space. The 2014, revised from 2008, Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and of the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT) was rejected by the U.S. for its lack of verification procedures, would allow stockpiling space-based anti-sattelite weapons, and would allow ground-based anti-sattelite systems being developed by China and Russia (https://hir.harvard.edu/anti-satellite-weapons-and-the-emerging-space-arms-race/ and https://spacenews.com/41842us-dismisses-space-weapons-treaty-proposal-as-fundamentally-flawed/). Finally, the People’s Liberation Army has sent more than 3,600 Chinese servicemen to train in Russian military academies and universities (www.memri.org/reports/russian-defense-minister-shoigu-attempts-us-led-west-impede-establishment-new-fair-world).
There is little information of intelligence cooperation, but one can be sure that it is extensive and growing. This is evident from other developments. In May 2015, Beijing and Moscow signed a cybersecurity treaty establishing a mutual non-aggression regime and areas of possible collaboration in cybersecurity, including technical, legal, law enforcement, research, training, and information sharing engagement (https://cyber-peace.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/RUS-CHN_CyberSecurityAgreement201504_InofficialTranslation.pdf; https://jsis.washington.edu/news/china-russia-cybersecurity-cooperation-working-towards-cyber-sovereignty/; and https://mail.strikesource.com/2020/09/02/china-and-russia-cyber-sovereignty-may-become-the-attractive-option-for-governments/). In 2019, 29 countries signed a set of guidelines for cyberspace and implied it was concluded in response to cyberthreats from Beijing and Moscow. Russia and China did not sign and likely coordinated their rejection of the document (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/23/politics/united-nations-cyber-condemns-russia-china/index.html). Beijing and Moscow jointly proposed a cybersecurity treaty of sorts. Along with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, they submitted a draft United Nations General Assembly resolution on an International code of conduct for information security. The draft code would require states operating in cyber space to comply with the UN Charter and “universally recognized norms governing international relations that enshrine, inter alia, respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States.” It also calls on states “not to use information and communications technologies, including networks, to carry out hostile activities or acts of aggression, pose threats to international peace and security or proliferate information weapons or related technologies” [see Louise Arimatsu, “A Treaty for Governing Cyber-Weapons: Potential Benefits and Practical Limitations,” in C. Czosseck, R. Ottis, K. Ziolkowski, editors, 2012 4th International Conference on Cyber Conflict (Tallinn: NATO CCD COE Publications, 2012), pp. 91-109, https://ccdcoe.org/publications/2012proceedings/2_3_Arimatsu_ATreatyForGoverningCyber-Weapons.pdf, at pp. 91-2].
Trade is extensive, especially in energy and weapons. Arms sales to China are major boon to Russia’s important military-industrial complex. In 2014-2018, approximately 70 percent of China’s weapons imports were from Russia (https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.hudson.org/Weitz%20China-Russia%20Defense%20Partnership%20FINAL%20Web%205.13.19.pdf). Just a few examples include the 2018 deal in which Russia sold to China its state-of-the-art S-400 Triumph missile defense system for $6 billion. In 2020 it delivered another regimental complex of the system. China is the first country to receive the system www.aresdifesa.it/a-second-s-400-missile-regiment-for-china-russia-has-concluded-procurement-of-a-second-s400-triumph-missile-system-regimental-set-to-china/). In 2015, Beijing signed a deal with Moscow for purchase of 24 of its Su-35 combat aircraft for $2.5 billion, and they were delivered in 2019. In 2017, Washington imposed sanctions on China for the purchase, further nudging the two countries together (www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/04/17/russia-completes-delivery-of-su-35-fighter-jets-to-china-for-25bln-a65271). In 2019, Russia agreed to help China develop a missile attack early warning system based on technology of Russia’s own system, the only other in the world besides the American. Russian defense industry spokesmen have attributed the assistance to Moscow’s desire to establish strategic stability (https://tass.ru/armiya-i-opk/6964281).
In energy, there is the 30-year natural gas ‘deal of the century’ for Chinese purchase of Russian gas and related pipeline projects. Moscow is building several nuclear power plants in China and delivering large quantities of oil. Reduced supply of grain and mineral resources from U.S. allies to China and increased Chinese reliance on trans-Russian transportation routes – rail, highway, and northern Arctic Sea route – open up more opportunities for Russia. Despite the pandemia’s potential economic effects, Sino-Russian trade turnover in the first quarter of 2021 grew by 15.4 percent compared with the first quarter in 2020. The trade imbalance favoring China evend out with Russian exports to China growing by 43 percent to $13.06 billion, while China’s exports to Russia fell by 0.1 percent to $16.2 billion (www.ng.ru/monitoring/2021-04-28/7_8140_monitoring.html, last accessed on 5 May 2021). With China making up 11 percent of Russia’s foreign trade.
With regard to the economic and financial systems, Russia will rid its sovereignty funds of all dollars this year, China is no longer buying American debt. The two countries are beginning to set up independent banking and Internet systems, and China is working on a digital yuan to undermine dollar dominance. Western sanctions are helping further to bifurcate the global economy between the West and Eurasian states beginning to gather together under the Sino-Russian-Iranian strategic triangle.
Despite the benefits to Russia that China provides as an ally and market alternative to lost Western partners, there are a host of ways in which Russia is disadvantaged in the overall relationship and at risk of being subordinated to and overwhelmed by the already risen dragon.
Sino-Russian Near Alliance’s Imbalance
China’s economic and military ground forces’ superiority impart a great imbalance in the Sino-Russian near alliance. In 2019, China spent approximately four times more than Russia on defense (www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/04/27/russia-returns-to-top-5-defense-spending-countries-worldwide-think-tank-a70114). Russia’s technological advantage will have a short lifespan, and an ambitious and even aggressive China does not stop necessarily at Russia’s border. In short, China itself is a potential military threat to Moscow. Any all out non-nuclear war with China would almost surely end in a vast loss of territory in Russia’s Far East and eastern Siberia. This might explain Moscow’s quiescence on China’s expanding influence throughout Central Asia. Kazakhstan, in particular, will remain an important buffer from Chinese power just as Ukraine somewhat remains and Belarus is a buffer in relation to NATO.
A less extreme and more likely outcome of expanding Chinese power is Russia being gradually squeezed of its influence across Eurasia. Russia can offer little in the form of competition outside of certain energy and technology sectors. Although Russia is a participant in China’s OBORI, it is not co-leader as it is with China in SCO and BRICS, and Beijing is being careful to maintain OBORI’s predominance over SCO in Eurasia. China’s ambitions in South and Central Asia (and elsewhere) can be gleaned from this statement by a Chinese professor specializing in the region and working in a state-run university and think tank: “China will promote, discuss, and build shared regional governance, build a new type of international relations among countries in the region, promote regional peace, stability, and development, and create a regional community with a shared future” (https://thediplomat.com/2021/05/du-youkang-on-chinas-stake-in-afghanistan/).
The withdrawal of the U.S. from Afghanstan, Central Asia’s underbelly and the link between South Asia, on the one hand, and the Persian Gulf and Middle East regions, on the other hand, opens up an unprecedented opportunity for Beijing to strengthen its position both in Central and South Asia setting the stage for China’s complete hegemony in eastern and southern Eurasia. Russia can and over time will be squeezed out, if present trends continue. Putting aside decades in the relationship, the OBORI’s China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) represents $62 billion in Chinese investments in Pakistan protected by Chinese national security personnel and private Chinese entities. China has also convened the “China-Afghanistan-Central Asia” deputy foreign ministers’ meetings on trade in order to develop more opportunities for Afghan reconstruction, but it is also another forum in which China’s links with Central Asia are deepened. To the west, China will be contributing under ORBI up to $400 billion in Iranian oil, natural gas, petrochemical and other industries and under Beijing’s other strategic partnership – that with Teheran signed last year – Beijing can now deploy up to 5,000 military and intelligence forces in Iran. This overshadows anything Moscow has been able to achieve with the mullahs’ regime and will assist Beijing’s efforts to create order in Afghanistan.
To be sure, China risks being drawn into an Afghan quagmire that defied both Soviet and American-NATO power, but for Beijing neighboring Afghanistan can be considered a vital interest. That interest goes beyond its essential value to the OBORI. Beijing has proven to be willing to quite far in maintaining the Muslim Uighur-dominated Xingjiang-Uighur Autonomous Republic (XUAR) under totalitarian lockdown and stamping out separatism and terroroism, going to the brink of genocide. The XUAR’s vulnerability to Islamist and jihadist infection has already been demonstrated, so China has a security concern there that touches on the global jihadi problem in Afghanistan (https://gordonhahn.com/2013/10/14/islam-islamism-and-politics-in-eurasia-report-no-67-oct-2013-special-report-china-and-central-asia-after-afghanistans-kabulization/). The threat of separatism, Islamism, and jihadism in XUAR remains, with arrests being made frequently of colluders with such groups, though it is difficult to guage how many are legitimate charges and how many are trumped up. Recent arrests include those of XUAR officials; one who allegedly had introduced separatist propaganda into XUAR curriculum and another who had made contact with a separatist group.
The need to take military action in Afghanistan would not be nearly as difficult for Beijing as it proved to be for the U.S. and Russia in logistical terms. There would be no overextended supply lines of the kind with which Moscow and Washington had to deal. This is especially true given China’s leverage over Pakistan and now Iran. The positive incentive for intervention is China’s consolidation of future OBIRI progress. China also has another additional advantage that neither Moscow nor Washington had or has: Pakistan is very dependent on Beijing as an ally in its contest with India, including in Kashmir. Beijing is already using mechanisms like the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue to strengthen cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan under Chinese supervision.
China’s longstanding influence and recent investments in Pakistan puts it in a far better position to convince Pakistan to end or reduce the refuge and financial support it lends to the Afghan Talban and the global jihadi groups Lashker-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the local ISIS affiliate the Islamic State-Khorasan, who have cooperated recently in attacking Indian interests in Afghanistan. The tables have turned from the period when U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan were upset by Pakistani support for the Taliban with behind-the-scenes encouragement from Beijing. Now China needs peace in the country, and the West is withdrawing, throwing a wrench into Chinese security needs for the OBORI and in XUAR. China has pledged its support for the Kabul government, but should the Taliban overthrow the shaky Kabul regime, China and Russia could act either bilaterally or through SCO and cut a deal with the Taliban. A deal would include recognition of the Taliban’s Afghan Emirate and economic assistance in return for Afghan Emirate’s participation in OBORI and cooperation with Sino-Russian or SCO efforts to destroy the jihadi groups backed by Pakistan. Either way, the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan is almost certain to expand China’s authority and power in Central and South Asia, as I wrote nearly a decade ago when it appeared the U.S. might withdraw from Afghanistan (https://gordonhahn.com/2013/10/14/islam-islamism-and-politics-in-eurasia-report-no-67-oct-2013-special-report-china-and-central-asia-after-afghanistans-kabulization/). This will be to India’s consternation and with Russia’s reluctance, but it perhaps would temporarily benefit Russia economically and politically in those regions.
Over time, as Russia gets squeezed out of Central and South Asia, Moscow’s only option in the region will be India, but this relationship has its limits. Given Sino-Indian tensions, border disputes, and occasional combat, Moscow can ill afford to get too involved in India, especially its military development. Russia’s growing relationship with India could be bolstered if Russia were able to protect some Indian interests in Afghanistan, but this by itself will not create great economic opportuinities for Moscow with New Delhi. But the impeti driving the Sino-Russian near-alliance are more than robust, even in the face of unfriendly Chinese actions towards Russia. Moscow could try to take advantage of the the Sino-Indian border conflict, or in a pinch – such as an imminent Chinese threat to its Far East and Siberian regions – she could abandon Beijing for an alliance with New Delhi. But more likely is Moscow continuing to use its increasingly abandoned ‘multivectoral’ approach to foreign policy globally in its relations with India and China in the South and Central Asia as a whole and in the Sino-Indian conflict specifically. In September 2020, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov convened a meeting with the foreign ministers of India and China in Moscow in order to prevent Sino-Indian border clashes from escalating and encouraging a negotiated settlement to the two disputed border territories in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. The parties agreed that their military commanders needed to continue their dialogue at the meeting, and fighting soon subsided (https://scroll.in/article/973040/why-india-china-military-disengagement-requires-russian-mediation). Thus, for now Russia has carved out a unique position for itself with Eurasia’a other great powers, and this Eurasian triangle’s ability to resolve its issues without any reference to the West is testimony to the changing structure of international relations and of American and Western fortunes in the region.
Beijing is not satisfied with a situation in which it has over the last half-decade been dependent for much of its energy needs and 70 percent of its military imports on Russia. It is doing everything possible to be become technologically independent, especially in military production, and to diversify its sources for imports. Iran and other Gulf States as well as Central Asia are key building blocks in China’s plans for energy diversification. Chinese intelligence activity includes Russian operations focused on technology in particularly military technology in order to supplement its import substitution and pirating ‘absorptive model’ of acquiring foreign military and dual-use technology to introduce into its own design and development. In the 1990s, Beijing purchased and illegally reverse-engineered Russian Su-27 fighter jets and S-300 missile systems in designing China’s J-11 fighter jets and HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles. In 2014, for example, several of China’s top arms companies signed contracts with Russian defense conglomerate Russian Technologies (Rostekh) to collaborate on helicopter and fixed-wing manufacturing, engine production, aircraft materials and avionics development, and other areas (https://chinapower.csis.org/arms-companies/). Five years later Rostekh accused China of illegally copying equipment and technologies, including aircraft engines, planes, missiles, and air defense systems (https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Russia-up-in-arms-over-Chinese-theft-of-military-technology). In February 2020, a leading Russian Arctic scientist was charged with allegedly passing secrets on submarine-detection technology to China (www.bloombergquint.com/politics/russia-accuses-scientist-of-spying-for-china-interfax-says). Six months later, a month after a court decision extended the scientists’s house arrest, Russia suspended supply of its S-400 missiles to China in retaliation (www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/06/15/russian-arctic-scientist-charged-with-treason-for-passing-state-secrets-to-china-a70575 and www.timesnownews.com/international/article/china-to-wait-longer-for-s-400-missiles-as-russia-suspends-delivery-amid-espionage-charges/628146). China’s vast global espionage network is designed to help in reducing its dependence on Russian technology among other tasks, such as closing the gap in military and other technologies with the U.S. It is important to note that this cyber espionage in the globalization era is not a panacea that will allow a relatve latecomer to high technology easily close the gap with more advanced competitiors, in this case the U.S. and perhaps Russia (Andrea Gilli and Mauro Gill, “Why China Has Not Caught Up Yet,” International Security, Vol. 43, No. 3, Winter 2018-2019, pp. 148-89). Nevertheless, the massive scale of China’s cyber and human espionage efforts will close the gap.
An example of China’s advance away from dependence on Russia can be seen in Beijing’s space efforts. China is already building its third and largest space station, pre-empting the planned Sino-Russian lunar station. In this way, China will have the option of going or threatening to go it alone in the event of any tension or conflict with Moscow, while it gains access to Russian technology through the joint project (www.newscientist.com/article/2275818-china-is-about-to-start-building-a-space-station-in-orbit/). China’s influence and economic expansion efforts into Central Asia are another way to find alternative sources for natural resources, in particular oil and natural gas, as alternatives to Russia as a source. China’s inevitable diversification of energy supplies and greater autonomy in technology industries, especially defense and security related ones, will make the Sino-Russian ‘near alliance’ an even more imbalanced one in the next decade.
US v PRC Confrontation
The escalating tensions between the West, mostly the U.S., and China not just in the South China Sea but increasingly globally in the contest for what may prove to be an elusive unipolar supremacy for both sides, will provide constant support for the Sino-Russian near-alliance. The new Western-Russian cold war is being overshadowed by the Sino-West cold war in which Moscow plays Robin to Beijing’s Batman. The U.S. under Joseph Biden now characterizes China as its main geostrategic threat. Numerous issues of Chinese heavy-handedness both abroad and domestically concern Washington and its allies: disputed and Chinese-constructed South China Sea islands, threatening military maneuvers and rhetoric towards Taiwan, efforts to crush the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ in Hong Kong, and the repression of millions of Muslim Uighurs in the XUAR. Beijing’s ambitions abroad demand repression at home in order to show a united face and image of an inevitable rise to global hegemony in order to deter opponents, dominate allies, and seduce potential allies. Although Western criticism of Chinese behavior is morally justified in most cases and may satisfy virtue-signalling needs in Washington, it likely counterproductive as such rhetoric is when addressed to Moscow. No greater gift could there be to the near alliance than this continuous criticism. These criticisms and designations of greatest threats create greater surety in Beijing and Moscow that their strategic partnership is the proper geostrategic course.
At the same time, China no longer fears a U.S. system that is eating itself alive with the rise of communo-fascism and used if not supported by the Democratic Party and the Biden Administration, destabilizing the once lone superpower. The American devolution is already having the most profound implications for China’s ability to shape the global discourse on the proper nature and structure of the international system. At the Alaska American-Chinese meeting of foreign ministers in April, the Chinese had no compunctions whatsoever about using the Biden administration’s own anti-American rhetoric against their interlocutors. Given the extensive business activity of both Hunter Biden and his father conducted by the latter when he was vice-president, a violation of U.S. law, Beijing likely is in a position to draw a line in the sand at some point that Biden may not be able to cross. However, that might be a risk given the U.S. media’s dereliction of its professional duty when it comes to covering the crimes of the Democratic Party and its totalitarian BLM and Antifa commune-fascist allies. Indeed, China (and Russia) might see Biden’s bluster about human rights and democracy as the smoke screen it is, given his own support for extremist Marxists at home. In this light, we can expect Chinese CP financing to the commune-fascist movement here in the U.S. as well.
Any U.S. demands of the Chinese to respect human rights will fall on deaf ears, mouths smiling at the hypocrisy—all to the detriment of those Chinese subjects suffering from far greater violation of human rights than those beginning to mount in Biden’s America. If the U.S. can crush its own democracy and look the other way at neofascism’s rise in Ukraine, then protests from Washington about rolling back democracy in Hong Kong will appear as nothing but the highest form of cynicism in many circles. Thus, the ability of China (and Russia) to garner greater moral support from the rest of the world community, however unjustified, will enhance China’s mounting economic and military power and influence around the world. Beijing even has propaganda leverage in the US itself. China has hooked American businesses – from Facebook to the NBA – into a powerful pro-Chinese lobby that will pressure Biden to be soft on China and that does Beijing’s bidding in terms of Marxist and commune-fascist race propaganda (https://www.foxnews.com/us/mlb-georgia-tencent-nba-hong-kong).
Geostrategically, there is a gravely conflictive tectonic hanging over the Pacific. Driven by Chinese neo-totalitarianism’s location in the unfriendly neighbourhood of the South China Sea, tensions are being compounded with the US and its allies, who are also becoming more active in both the South China Sea and the broader Indo-Pacific region. China has been testing the U.S. with Biden’s arrival in the White House, after the more proactive Trump’s departure. Regarding Taiwan, China’s passage of a law that allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels prompted the U.S. and Taiwan to sign an agreement earlier this year establishing a Coast Guard Working Group to coordinate policy. In March twenty Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone in what was the largest incursion ever reported by the country’s defence ministry (https://mobile-reuters-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN2BI24D).
China, if anything, has accelerated its island constructing campaign in the South China Sea since the 2016 finding by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague denying China’s claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea (Eleanor Ross, “How and Why China is Building Islands in the South China Sea,” Newsweek, 29 March 2017, www.newsweek.com/china-south-china-sea-islands-build-military-territory-expand-575161; Seth Robson, “China Island-Building Continues in South China Sea,” Stars and Stripes, 16 December 2017, www.military.com/daily-news/2017/12/16/china-island-building-goes-tensions-ease-south-china-sea.html; and Bill Hayton, “The Week Donald Trump Lost the South China Sea,” Foreign Policy, 31 July 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/31/the-week-donald-trump-lost-the-south-china-sea/). The U.S. and the West have been insistent that China’s island construction is illegal and an aggressive expansion of Chinese territory. This would be a manageable problem if the construction was not military related, but it is. Although Japan has a decent relationship with Russia, Tokyo cannot but be concerned with the tandem of Chinese hegemony in the South China Sea to its south-southwest and Russian naval power and hegemony in the Sea of Okhotsk to the north. At the same time, Russia and China are increasingly inclined to support each other’s legal claims in maritime disputes such as the Sea of Okhotsk, the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait, the South China Sea, and the in the Arctic Ocean—another fateful cost of driving Russia into Beijing’s arms (Justin D. Nankivell, “The Role of History and Law in the South China Sea and the Arctic Ocean,” Maritime Awareness Project, August 7, 2017, http://maritimeawarenessproject.org/2017/08/07/the-role-of-history-and-law-in-the-south-china-sea-and-arctic-ocean/).
At the same time, Washington has focused on European and Eurasian diplomacy focused against Russia, China has been pressuring and offering benefits to U.S. allies in the Pacific, including ASEAN, in particular the Phillipines (https://asiatimes.com/2021/06/bidens-china-policy-gets-asean-cold-shoulder/?utm_content=bufferfcbc8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer). Russia also has been courting Manila. Phillipines’ president Rodrigo Duterte has called Putin his “favorite hero” and traveled to Moscow in 2019 seeking defense and energy assistance from Moscow (https://nationalinterest.org/feature/new-realignment-between-russia-and-philippines-90901).
The West is countering Chinese ambitions, with the G-7 proposing a massive infrastructure plan intended to counter China’s OBORI and talk of reviving the ‘Quad’ of US, Australia, India, and Japan. In lieu of a positive relationship with Russia that could be used to counter China if there had been no NATO expansion, the U.S. is now making frequent overtures to India as a counter to Chinese power. April’s meeting between Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshehide Suga in Washington emphasized the growing threat from China. China’s ambitions and challenges to those ambitions in the South China and its enviorons in turn reinforce the importance of China’s relationship with Russia—a task made infinitely easier by the West’s expansion of NATO and color revolutions on the other side of Eurasia along Moscow’s border, in particular in the ongoing open support for the Belorussian opposition against President Aleksandr Lukashenka. On the eve of the G-7 and Biden-Putin Summits there was talk that Biden would be pressing Western allies to involve NATO in efforts to contain China. This could be the trigger for the creation of a full-blown Sino-Russian alliance.
Far more than Russia does, China engages in all forms of espionage targeting the U.S., of which cyber espionage is a small, if growing component. With little investment, potential unlimited returns, and the possibility to disguise attack origin, cyber espionage could allow China (or Russia or non-state actors) to bring down American vital infrastructure and pay little if any price, as the recent Colonial Pipeline cyber attack suggests. In 2007-2011, Chinese hackers of unknown origin gained access to some 50 terabytes of U.S. Defense Department data with blueprints for America’s stealth fighters and other military information (https://watermark.silverchair.com/isec_a_00337.pdf?token=AQECAHi208BE49Ooan9kkhW_Ercy7Dm3ZL_9Cf3qfKAc485ysgAAAnswggJ3BgkqhkiG9w0BBwagggJoMIICZAIBADCCAl0GCSqGSIb3DQEHATAeBglghkgBZQMEAS4wEQQMbn8u4daIm3vPi5HEAgEQgIICLtexdQZQOCTRQqDOE-MnzRpvZscp0rCaGhdOoM3WbTI7Z2HdnmG85YJmZ1Qy-SvWKLh9nfYTDb-MG58BlNwkUY8oLz2_DiohEF4Lc_3XWkoUZCPIJ_E0PcIH-0WdH_kgJdXmTKjIYxDi10aqblzFMilk7odIv4qrLRZbRdNNVgC5TVlUeE0pdwvzxwvPKIoMh_cedQxNTbqpGdwYIRkp9BiqUgFnrlnfjoR2breEPKHIE6_Paa04tF0Rs5cOMHAOspXj61-FkdjzQk9_Py5PIbI3tZUiRMZOsp_WCvuPC79An70MHMZTZgKQ_fWGKytEWqO6isiJlSmJ9I4u0wf0CTVdBPSdt6NsdU3L1KVFo44uAMn3Ntyz_pENmUtcx4bvWW_1kqppC_NXNTBiQ5QJgxLHF8rQxrehpVBTAl77YVPAZFM9jTrwGlUoU8zQeNYDkUFrVeBmK1huga63iNBCjQ-E92OB97W1d1HeSZvXmfiYnJrb_t5OMA-gcb_TtCd8ryb0Si7Z_B3VlSE-4CLH-6s6XtUGdtpYqZvAcKTbKRZ6o86mSmb2u2VG63wKuKL8pcCNmlLXlyEHv_a-TWcrLDWBJ9X5v3WBFtar8Kq_B2VHfN1kd6G8dg7XZyTqWxrTLxwLUeSvJnGQKhN4o0Ngt9WOuwgkBjhLhRh8UXLup2TdL2CRSLwHtWxCVFDtwW8m8sozmYDhWast7d-n1OSRSZvQqux1OKueG7ndgvlXLA). In 2016, Chinese spy Su Bin pled guilty to conspiring to hack data relating to the Boeing C-17 strategic transport aircraft and the Lockheed Martin F-35 and F-22 stealth fighters (www.justice.gov/opa/pr/chinese-national-pleads-guilty-conspiring-hack-us-defense-contractors-systems-steal-sensitive and http://www.defensenews.com/breaking-news/2016/03/24/chinese-businessman-pleads-guilty-of-spying-on-f-35-and-f-22/). Two years later, two Chinese nationals, Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong, were indicted for an operation to steal aviation, space, satellite, manufacturing, communications, computer processor, and other technology (www.justice.gov/opa/pr/two-chinese-hackers-associated-ministry-state-security-charged-global-computer-intrusion).
After decades of feeding the dragon while surrounding the bear with NATO, the Trump administration began to ratchet up sanctions against China. The U.S. Commerce Department has been sanctioning Chinese business entities that assist supercomputer development for military and security purposes in China, adding seven additional companies to the list in April (www.commerce.gov/news/press-releases/2021/04/commerce-adds-seven-chinese-supercomputing-entities-entity-list-their and www.ng.ru/monitoring/2021-04-28/7_8140_monitoring.html). The Trump administration initiated sanctions against the Chinese military in 2018 for purchasing fighter jets and missile systems from Moscow, punishable under U.S. sanctions law adopted to hit Moscow for its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election (www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-sanctions/u-s-sanctions-china-for-buying-russian-fighter-jets-missiles-idUSKCN1M02TP). It remains to be seem, given whatever extent Biden may be beholden to beijung, how far the new administration will be able to pursue a line of containing China that it has declared. The new policy of containing confrontation declared with Moscow at the US-Russian summit last week is likely to be the same that will be pursued with China. But it is hard to see how a goal of containing confrontation can confront China in Taiwan, Hong Kong, or the South China Sea in general any more than it can resolve tensions on the background of Ukraine, NATO expansion, and other points of conflict in the western Eurasian theatre.
In sum, the new cold war encompasses the entire northern hemisphere directly, with competition extending into the southern hemisphere. In other words, it is global. We are back to the future of the late 1960s. Neither the U.S. nor Russia is in a good position to contend with the new tough guy in the neighborhood.
The New Cold War: Chimeras and Nightmares
For three decades after the end of the first Cold War, the U.S. has looked the wrong way in preparing for the next geopolitical challenge to its power and security. Spending $19 trillion on its military during that period – five times more than China and almost asmuch as the rest of the world together – American military sources fret China’s military overtake the U.S. military by the end of the decade and already would be unable to prevail in a war with Beijing, including in any attempted defense of Taiwan ( https://www.aei.org/events/a-conversation-with-us-indo-pacific-commands-adm-philip-davidson/ and https://breakingdefense.com/2019/03/us-gets-its-ass-handed-to-it-in-wargames-heres-a-24-billion-fix/). Much of that $19 trillion in American taxpayers’ money went to addressing a threat – Russia – articificially inflated and created by NATO expansion and color revolutionism. Moreover, NATO expansion began the process of confounding the U.S. Defense Department’s proper mission – military defensive, offensive, and intelligence operations – with diplomacy, nation-building, and democracy-promotion first in new NATO member-countries, then in prospective member-countries, and then worldwide. The U.S. military veered off and directed tens of billions of dollars into non-military functions: counternarcotics ops, development assistance, disaster relief, public diplomacy and propaganda, ecological security, and protecting foreign elections.
Meanwhile, China was infiltrating Washington, Northern Virginia, Silicon Valley, and much of the U.S. and receiving hundreds of times the U.S. investment that Russia received. I recall having a brief conversion with a former Deputy Defense Secretary, now deceased, after leaving work at the Hoover Institution in the mid-1990s. He mentioned that China would be a democracy within ten years. Inside, I laughed. Outside, I politely pointed out that Russia was much closer to the West culturally and always has been, and that with proper economic and political support its then shaky democracy could be consolidated. Then Russia might become a crucial ally against a rising China. Inside, he probably laughed. It was his view that predominated in elite American circles in the wake of the first Cold War; hence the second.
Rising China won the prize of Russia jilted by the West, and Washington’s decline is proceeding apace with catastrophic and irrational social and security spending and the abandonment of republican for an anarchic commune-fascist authoritarianization. The moral force of democracy is set to disappear from international politics—a trend that portends conflict. Putting aside the authoritarian regimes of China and Russia, one can only take with a profound sense of irony, and chagrin the disconnect between the decline of republicanism and civil rights in the West and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s recent statement on the G7’s recent meeting: “The UK’s presidency of the G7 is an opportunity to bring together open, democratic societies and demonstrate unity at a time when it is much needed to tackle shared challenges and rising threats” such as China and Russia (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-unites-g7-to-take-action-against-democratic-threats). The same is true of Zelenskiy’s characterization of the US-Ukrainian partnership: “We stand shoulder to shoulder, when it comes to talking about preservation of our democracies” (https://vesti.ua/strana/zelenskij-sozvonilsya-uzhe-so-vtorym-prezidentom-ssha-sravnivaem-ih-zayavleniya). In fact, both countries are backsliding, the U.S. particularly so.
Misperception or miscalculation are real possibilities, and the consequences of these must be removed from the equation as soon as possible. Most unfortunately, this seems unlikely. The growing imminence of the threat of war in Ukraine and in the South China Sea is a situation that is somewhat reminiscent of the tangle of geostrategic alliances that ignited both previous world wars. The dream of democratic peace, even among the democracies, is dead, a chimera now Powerful giants are roaming the earth pushing and shoving each other for control over the rest, and major wars can begin as before. Since at least the Obama administration the Western democracies seem to have heads no more and perhaps even less level than those of the Eastern authoritarians.
The U.S. advance towards authoritarianism and economic decline added to the hardening of Russian soft authoritarianism and Chinese hard authoritarianism, the already dangerous dynamic of a declining hegemonic power and a rising, increasingly driven new challenger becomes more dangerous. A shared democracy deficit in conditions of sharp East-West tectonic tensions is a recipe for war. In short, the ‘new cold war’ is not confined to the West and Russia but is increasing enveloping all of Europe-Eurasia and even beyond, making for a ‘secular’ (less ideological) New Cold War. This new condition threatens to destabilize rapidly on a background of general authoritarianism and rapidly changing social, economic, technological, and political conditions that all parties will find difficult, if not impossible to manage.
But matters are even worse.
Moscow and Washington have one thing in common in regard to China. They are both under threat of being overwhelmed by growing Chinese power as the century unfolds. But their scorpions’ embrace in eastern Europe/western Eurasia makes cooperation against China in the east a near impossibility now. China could be in a position someday to subdue them piecemeal, first Moscow and then Washington. Like Washington did in the late 20th century, Moscow in the early 21st has developed such close ties with Beijing that it will become its prisoner of sorts. Just as Washington can go only so far in diminishing its economic relations with China because of dependence on Chinese labor, Chinese trade, Chinese purchase of U.S. bonds, etc., so too will Moscow become dependent on its trade with China and will be unable to counter Beijing’s rise to supremacy in Eurasia. Russia will become a very junior partner, especially as India could soon outpace Russia technologically and economically. There is a way out of the dilemma: a Chinese political meltdown. The CCP is becoming increasingly oppressive against a host of populations: Muslim Uighurs, Christians, oligarchs, and Hong Kong. China has not gone through the stage of full de-totalitarianization through democratization like Russia did in the 1990s. Beijing may democratize, and it might restabilize into a new authoritarian order or may gradually move there as Russia under Putin. Or, if democratization begins, the system could split and break down into internecine strife, as the USSR and Russia almost did twice in August 1991 and October 1993.
Of the three great powers, the less authoritarian pair of mid-range authoritarian Russia and an authoritarianizing U.S. (and its Western allies) are feeding the risen and still rising and exceedingly harsh authoritarian single-party state of China.The situation somewhat resembles the runup to World War II, during which Western businesses fed the rise of Nazi Germany and the USSR concluded a formal treaty with Hitler. Now, Western businesses are helping to build a powerful Chinese economic and technological machine, and Russia has a robust ‘strategic partnership’ with Beijing while feeding its defense industry and overall military might.
In a world ever more mired in authoritarianism, decaying democracies, widespread corruption across regime types, technoatavism, artificial intelligence and soldier-robots, the potential for peace no less ‘eternal peace’ is a transparent chimera, an illusion. Behind the chimera is a nightmare. If Biden convinces Europe to move NATO even further ‘out-of-area’ than the original intent of world history’s greatest military alliance, beyond central Eurasia to the Far East in an attempt to contain both China and Russia, then we are far closer to authoritarian war than democratic peace. Much closer.
About the Author – Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, http://www.canalyt.com and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, www.cetisresearch.org. Dr. Hahn is the author of The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, forthcoming in 2021), Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018), The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media.
Dr. Hahn also has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and has been a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, and the Hoover Institution.