The Failure of Russia in the Ukraine War and the Shift in Russia-China Relations
Since February 24 this year, the war in Ukraine has
opened the eyes of the world to the reality of Russia's military forces, once
thought by many to be highly formidable. With their weapons, battle
experiences, and military theories that they advocated since the end of World
War II, Russian armies intended to show their full force, and so they did. What
we see today is indeed the actual standard of the Russian military. In the large
and small battles in Ukraine, the places that have been captured and lost, the astounding
battle losses suffered, and the catastrophic results have all reflected the
real military strength of Russia.
The United States, of course, has always been the
foremost military power in the world; any other "second-best" will not be able
to compete with it, even with the lower-graded American equipment like the
HAIMARS rocket system.
That does not mean the U.S. is without problems and
flaws. The U.S. does encounter various issues that remain irresolvable. These
are entirely its own problems. Its system allows itself to create endless
problems, troubles, and flaws. However, the U.S. is its own challenger and
troublemaker, and these problems do not come from any other "second-most
powerful" country in the world.
There might be an illusion that this "foremost
power" has become weak, and can be replaced by the "second-most powerful country".
The ruined Russian tanks in Ukraine simply show us that such a thought remains
an illusion, and not the reality. This has not changed from the past to the
Meanwhile, Russia-China relations have always attracted
the world's attention, though they are more often than not being misunderstood.
Recently, the leaders of the two countries attended
the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit 2022 at Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
According to the content published on the official website of China's Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese leaders put forward four suggestions for
promoting cooperation between China, Russia, and Mongolia during the meeting.
The first is strengthening trilateral cooperation, deepening
political mutual trust, increasing mutual support, "respecting each
other's core interests and accommodating major concerns", as well as
enhancing coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs.
The second is improving cooperation within the
structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and jointly building a
cooperation platform for addressing risks and challenges, thereby unleashing
The next is implementing the consensus reached on
the " China–Mongolia–Russia (CMR) economic corridor, promoting the
continuous deepening of cooperation economy, trade, people-to-people and
cultural engagement, and tourism in adjacent areas. This is for the objective
to build a high-quality exchange platform for the businesses of the three
Finally, the Chinese side suggested cultivating
more achievements in tripartite cooperation. This is to support the expansion of
local currency settlement of trade between the three countries. China said it welcomes
more financial institutions from Russia and Mongolia to join the RMB
cross-border payment system to "build a regional financial security
All these, are, of course, the Chinese perspectives.
It is worth noting that China's relationship with
Russia has actually undergone great shifts. If Russia still thinks too highly
of itself and that it can "instruct" China on how to improve the latter's
relationship with it, this would be anything but practical. After all, the war
in Ukraine has brought some major changes. Perhaps the relationship between Russia
and China can be summed up in this way. Chinese leaders do want to form a
stronger relationship with Russia, but in this relationship, China must be in
the leadership position, not Russia under Vladimir Putin. In addition, this
alliance must also be realized according to the Chinese way, not the Russian
Russia will certainly not be happy with such kind
of outcome, and it can also have other options, but China obviously has a lot
of time to wait for it to make a choice.
The change in the nature of the relations is
clearly seen even by the West. An article in the German newspaper Berliner
Morgenpost says quite explicitly, that after the outbreak of the war in
Ukraine, while China continues to cooperate with Russia, the nature of such cooperation
is silently changing.
The message of the article is obvious. The
sanctions imposed by the West on Russia have made Putin passive. In this
context, the conditions of cooperation between China and Russia are determined
by China. It is only through this way can Putin obtain the resources he needs
through trade between the two sides. The reality is that China is by far the
biggest buyer of Russian crude oil, despite the fact that Russian crude oil is
dispensable to China.
"Russland braucht China mehr als China Russland –
mit steigender Tendenz (Russia needs China more than China needs Russia – and
the trend is increasing)", the article concludes.
After all, in the world's geopolitical circle of
friends, the weak will not be in a position to bargain.