I have been warning for over 30 years that NATO expansion would chase Russia into China’s arms. Zbigniew Brzezinski warned against any such outcome but until his last year supported the policy that was destined to produce it: NATO expansion. For a decade I have been noting that Moscow was already comfortably cuddling in Beijing’s arms. Then came Maidan and that accelerated. Then came Moscow’s response — 24 February 2022 — and the deal is now done. The Xi-Putin summit is another, perhaps the last landmark in this decade’s long shift in what is now a rapidly changing world order destined for war and/or a new structure of power. The West’s unipolar ‘rule-based order’ is just about dead. The emerging Sino-Russian-led alternative bipolar or multipolar order was symbolized and concretized by the summit. Moreover, China and Russia are now to become a de facto, if not de jure alliance. The near alliance is reaching its end.
The importance of the summit for Moscow, one of more than 40 meetings Putin has had with Xi, cannot be overstated. Expectations were high. In a pre-summit article printed on the front pages of all of China’s main newspapers, Putin expressed Russia’s friendship and partnership with China and his own with Xi in the warmest of terms—a gesture returned by Xi to Putin during the three-day summit. Putin assessed Sino-Russian relations in the most glowing terms: “Russian-Chinese relations have reached the highest level in their entire history and continue to grow stronger, in their quality they surpass the military-political alliances of the Cold War, there is no leader and no led in these relations, there are no restrictions or taboo topics. Our political dialogue has become extremely trusting, our strategic interaction comprehensive and entering a new era” (http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/70743).
The upshot of the Xi-Putin summit is clear. Moscow’s expectations were met. The Sino-Russian near-alliance is closer to becoming a full-scale political and military alliance. Trolling or at least snubbing the West and the European ICC’s recent decision to indict Putin for trafficking children from Donbass to Russia, Xi showed an abundance of personal warmth towards and political endorsement of Putin. He called Putin ‘dear friend’ and voiced support for Putin’s re-election in 2024—a race Putin has still not even entered. Xi also Putin the ancient Chinese imprimatur of time on the visit as he departed Putin and the Kremlin, saying that they had imparted changes on a scale that have not occurred for 100 years. There was no public pressure on Putin on behalf of peace exerted by X and no public criticism of Putin for the war or any statements implying such. To the contrary, the Sino-Russian friendship and near-alliance was reaffirmed and then some. The package of 14 major agreements, each with multiple sub-agreements in various fields detailing plans to 2030 underscored all this. More deeply, we can be sure they worked behind the scenes to prepare for the possible escalation of the war. Ukraine’s defense is beginning to crumble in the face of a mounting but careful Russian offensive all along the Donbass front and Kiev prepares counteroffensives in the south. Kiev is also attacking Russian national and religious identity by intensifying authoritarian repression against the formerly Moscow Patriarchate-affilated Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its Russian Orthodox believers, expropriating for Kiev’s new Orthodox Church of Ukraine the second-most holy shrine in Russian Orthodox—the Kiev-Pechorskaya Lavra or Kiev Monastery of the Caves, which contains relics of Orthodox saints, ancient church ‘fathers’, and Prince Aleksandr Nevskii.
The symbolism of the summit generated new political capital that will strengthen Sino-Russian efforts to integrate Eurasia and, particularly for China, the ‘One Belt – One Road’ Initiative (OBORI) Eurasian-centered global transport, energy, economic, and financial integration project that excludes the West. Thus, the US and its allies are on verge of being gradually squeezed and locked out of Eurasia writ large. States in the region – especially weak states such as those in Central Asia and sandwiched between the two great Eurasian powers – risk being left out of Eurasian integration projects and development prospects if they cozy up the US, democratize, or undertake other West-friendly policies. This helps secure Russia’s geostrategic rear during the Ukraine war.
The revelations by Seymor Hersh, regarding US President Joe Biden’s terrorist attack on the Russian-European Nord Stream natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea and the Xi-Putin summit have prompted a series of European leaders to make a pilgrimage to China to ‘prevent’ Beijing’s near-alliance with Moscow despite that near-alliance having become a fait accompli years ago. French President Emannuel Macron has announced he and the EU Commission chair will go to Beijing soon so Europe does not ‘lose’ a long ago lost China for anything but economic ties and so Beijing does not support ‘Putin’s war’ in Ukraine. Spanish Prime Minister Ernesto Sanchez also has decided to travel to Beijing, and Luxembourg’s Prime Minister has called upon Europe to preserve ties with Beijing. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Europe is there. Demonstrations against the EU and individual EU member-government’s are intensifying in part due to their support for Ukraine, in part due to deteriorating economics related to the war, and in part to growing elitism and authoritarianism in the EU.
Aside from Europe, Brazil’s recently elected president Luis Lula da Silva finished a five-day visit to China, where he proposed forming a diplomatic group of countries to support China’s peace proposals for the Ukraine conflict, which have already been condemned by Washington and ignored substantively by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy.
Most importantly, in the US there is denial, domestic crises, and presidential dementia. Washington denies that Kiev is losing the war, while it pours billions of dollars of ‘urgent’ financial and military assistance to the corrupt regime. The fall of Bakhmut and Avdeevka are both the first bells to toll this year for Ukraine. The West pushed the country into conflict with its powerful neighbor while it pushed every Russian button that would spark war. I have written about all of them extensively; no need to repeat them. The Biden administration deals with its domestic opponents as it does with its foreign allies and opponents, showing full disregard for their interests. Assistant Secretary of State once said: ‘F*** the EU.” Biden says: “F*** the world.” Americans are spied upon, illegally arrested, and offered perverse propaganda. Biden decries Putin’s arrest and imprisonment of Alexei Navalnyi but indicts and will imprison Trump, risking civil war. His Party-state supports violence against Republicans by impunity against BLM-Antifa terrorism, verbal support for transdgender perversion and terrorism, and woke financial corruption. The latter has brought the collapse of major banks, prompting a financial crisis and possible collapse. An immigration crisis allows millions of illegals to enter the country and receive state aide, driving crime, drug addiction, and interethnic antagonism. Meanwhile, the president often appears to be unaware of where he is and seems to care little for the destructive effects of his policies. All is permissible, as long as Joe the ‘Big guy’ wins. He, like the man who brought him into the White House – Barack Obama – is a Trump with a Trump ego on steroids. The American elite has been unable to produce a true statesman in the Oval Office or its environs for over three decades. The mess on the Potomac makes the Kremlin and Heavenly City look more than sane. In Washington, this is sensed and the reaction is growing criticism of Beijing and warnings of, if not calls for war with China. Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan last year seemed designed to provoke a war or at least highten tensions upon which war could be provoked. China’s growing support for Moscow and/or its attempts to upgrade its superpower status by mediating an end to the war that Washington prefers would continue are exacerbating hawkish sensibilities in the US. All this makes Ukraine the world’s tinderbox, which, if it explodes beyond its border will not be confined to western Eurasia.
EUROPE BOOKS, 2022
MCFARLAND BOOKS, 2021
MCFARLAND BOOKS, 2018
About the Author –
Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, www.canalyt.com. Websites: Russian and Eurasian Politics, gordonhahn.com and gordonhahn.academia.edu
Dr. Hahn is the author of the new book: Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics (Europe Books, 2022). He has authored five previous, well-received books: The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, 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 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 was a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group.