Putin runs out of allies

One of the main consequences of the Russian aggression against Ukraine is the progressive isolation of Vladimir Putin on the international scene. The alignment with China is more rhetorical than real, with Turkey it can only become a punctual partner and India, although it refused to impose sanctions, has not recognized the invasion.

One of the main consequences of the Russian aggression against Ukraine is the progressive isolation of Vladimir Putin on the international scene. The Kremlin autocrat, among other premises that have been shown to be false (little Ukrainian resistance, rupture of the Atlantic link and weakening of NATO, European division, weak Western response or massive support from the Russian population for his tragic adventure), had the unequivocal support from China or implicit support from countries like India or Turkey, in addition to the “non-aligned neutrality” of the so-called Global South.

In fact, a few days before the invasion materialized, he traveled to Beijing on the occasion of the Winter Olympics and, despite previous declarations of moving towards “a friendship without limits”, received a diplomatic but cold response. China would support the Russian “narrative” about its security concerns and hold NATO responsible for fueling the conflict, but would go no further. No express military aid or exposure to the costs of any sanctions that the West was beginning to implement. And all this, without going back one iota in the traditional Chinese doctrine of respect for territorial integrity (on which it bases its increasingly aggressive claim on Taiwan), thereby denying explicit support for the invasion and trying to keep the same time good relations with Ukraine. It should be remembered that Xi himself signed, in his day, the commitment to support Ukraine in the event of a nuclear attack, something that Putin is threatening in the face of growing military setbacks and the realization that, as Mao said of imperialism, the army Russian is “a paper tiger”.

Difficult bobbin lace that responds to very deep strategic differences. Certainly, both countries share the goal of weakening the West and, in particular, the leadership and hegemony of the United States on the global geopolitical stage. Neither Beijing nor Moscow accept that the dichotomy with the West is based on the contrast between democracy and authoritarianism, but instead establish it in terms of “order or chaos”, and advocate a multipolar world in which the rules are not set by the great American superpower. That strategic coincidence does not necessarily make them allies. They can be increasingly close partners in trade (with clear limits on the part of China, to avoid being subject to sanctions that, especially from the point of view of technology and basic supplies, can be very harmful) or in supply of fossil fuels, taking advantage of existing infrastructures, under construction or projected. They can even carry out, as it is, joint military exercises. But that doesn’t make them allies.

“Neither Beijing nor Moscow accept that the dichotomy with the West is based on the contrast between democracy and authoritarianism, but rather establish it in terms of ‘order or chaos'”

China has a very different goal than Russia. It wants to be the great global superpower that replaces the US in that role. Russia, at most, can aspire – and it is going very badly – ​​to be seen as a great power (not a global one, since its weak and unsophisticated economy does not make it possible) that deals as equals with the two great ones. On the other hand, they do not share timing no schedule. Russia is in too much of a hurry in its desire to regain its influence and dominance in the post-Soviet space. China formulates its aspirations in the medium-long term and does not want to take hasty actions that could be counterproductive. It goes step by step, as Deng Xiaoping already advised, when he prioritized the apparently peaceful accumulation of forces before anticipating his true intentions.

The alignment between China and Russia is thus more rhetorical than real. China is deeply uncomfortable with the current situation, especially when everything indicates that we are facing a long conflict with unpredictable results, given the evolution on all fronts, but especially on the battlefields.

The recent meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the historic Uzbek city of Samarkand (key to the ancient Silk Road) has clearly highlighted this discomfort. Xi Jinping has wanted his reservations and concerns about the course of the war to be known and, furthermore, both officially and unofficially, he has transmitted very clear messages to Moscow. Thus, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he has made it known that he does not recognize the referendums on the integration of the still-occupied areas into Russia. Via Global Timesthe Chinese regime’s unofficial newspaper, has stated that “it is necessary to put an emergency brake on the situation” and that a ceasefire must be sought as soon as possible (knowing that today this would be unacceptable for Ukraine).

At the same time, China is benefiting from Russia’s growing subordination to its interests (including the yuan’s growing weight as a currency of exchange) and is increasing its presence and influence over the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. The Kazakh president himself, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has endorsed the idea of ​​political-military cooperation that weakens Russian interference (as happened at the beginning of the year) or, symbolically, when Xi is received by the host, the Uzbek president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and instead, Putin is for his prime minister. Diplomatic protocol also sends clear messages.

In any case, the border clashes (with heavy weapons) between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan take place outside any intervention by Moscow, something unthinkable until recently.

The same is true of the secular conflicts in the Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. Despite Russia’s military aid commitments to Armenia, it is evident that it cannot attend to them and this is being taken advantage of by another possible circumstantial ally, but historical enemy, such as Turkey. Again their strategic interests diverge whether in Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea or the Middle East.

“China Is Benefiting From Russia’s Growing Subordination To Its Interests And Is Increasing Its Presence And Influence Over The Former Soviet Republics Of Central Asia”

Turkey and Russia can be specific partners, since Ankara, in its neo-Ottoman aspirations, intends to recover its traditional area of ​​influence and its nature as a bridge between Europe and Asia. Thus he combines his relations with Russia (including the purchase of strategic military material such as S-400 anti-aircraft missiles) with being a member of NATO, promotes agreements on the exit of Russian and Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea or offers himself as an intermediary to finish war.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has attended the meeting in Samarkand since Turkey is a guest country. Erdogan has sent Putin an unequivocal message: we must move quickly towards peace, and this requires the withdrawal of Russian troops from all Ukrainian territory.

We must also talk about India, a member of the SCO that, despite refusing to impose sanctions on Russia, has not recognized the invasion either, although it takes advantage of the situation by acquiring Russian oil in very good conditions and proposing its strategic autonomy through a national project based on Hinduism, regardless of its alliance in the QUAD (together with Japan, Australia and the US, with the clear objective of containing the growing Chinese expansionism). The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has told Putin that this is not the time for war and that this situation must be brought to an end as soon as possible.

In short, Russia and Putin are left alone and their hypothetical allies and partners are unequivocally distancing themselves. It is true that the West has been left alone in imposing sanctions, but its global weight is still enormously relevant. Russia’s loneliness is much more painful. Because without supports its capacity is much lower.

Putin’s tragic imperialist adventure may lead him to end up not like Peter the Great, with whom he had the audacity to compare himself, but like the last Tsar, Nicholas II, who lost the war with Japan in 1905 and with Germany in the First World War. and his own crown in the October revolutions. His final is well known.

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Written by Editor TLN

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