Ukraine Conflict and the US-Russia-China Triangle
The West was expecting Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare all out war on Ukraine in his speech presiding over the annual parade commemorating the triumph over Nazi Germany in World War II on May 9. But Putin described the Russian special operations in Ukraine as “forced, timely, and only correct decision,” as was in the past. Putin said, “NATO countries did not want to listen to us. They had different plans, and we saw them. They were planning an invasion of our historic lands, including Crimea”. He said Russia is fighting as it did in World War II and it will win. Putin’s stand was vindicated by Pope Francis on May 3, who spoke to an Italian publication describing the reason for the Ukraine conflict as “NATO barking on Russia’s door”.
The POTUS Joe Biden has proposed additional $40 billion aid to Ukraine. He called for immediate passage of a bill for the additional assistance, adding that otherwise the resources for supplies would only last 10 days, Notably, the US owes a $30 trillion debt and is facing high inflation. The decision to send additional $33 billion aid to Ukraine has been criticized by many Americans on social media.
Meanwhile, Josep Borrell, European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told the media that the EU and US should “seize” Russia’s frozen assets (like the US has done in the case of Afghanistan) to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine. Borrell is a Spanish politician and Spain is experiencing 27 percent high inflation presently. But if the US does seize frozen assets of Russia’s Central Bank as Borrel has suggested, it certainly will bring another level of escalation in America’s war on Russia. Such a move will not halt Russian forces but the global economy will be adversely affected more and Russian reaction may be unimaginable.
Jen Stoltenberg, NATO General Secretary had earlier said that China should condemn Russia for invading Ukraine in clear terms like the rest of the world, which indicates the Norwegian politicians is out of sync with ground realities or on the high horse assuming NATO is ‘Master of the Universe’. What Stoltenberg demands is in sharp contrast to the Chinese working for past several years to kick American presence out of the Western Pacific. A joke circulating is that Stoltenberg could even offer NATO membership to China. At the same time, the Ministry of Defence of Belarus has announced that NATO is preparing to conduct military operations in Eastern Europe.
Delivering a speech at the 4th International Forum on Security and Strategy in Beijing on May 7, 2022, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said, “The European continent is a crucial region in determining world peace. It was devastated by two World Wars. It was not peaceful after the Cold War and now it’s back on fire,” He called on the world to have a deep reflection.
The Forum on Security and Strategy is one of the core forums of the Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University; an online dialogue connecting the think tanks of 20 countries. For the 4th Forum, the theme was ‘The Changing Asia-Pacific: United or Divided?’ With respect to Ukraine, Yucheng said the world should not pursue absolute security unilaterally, engage in bloc politics or camp confrontation, globalization must not be weaponized and small countries’ interests should not be sacrificed.
With respect to Asia Pacific, Yucheng said that the region should cherish peace, respect each other, adhere to unity and cooperation, and insist on self-reliance. He then launched a frontal attack on the US saying that the Americans over the years have been inflaming the Taiwan question to test China’s redlines, flexing muscle on China’s doorstep and creating exclusive groups against China (Quad, AUKUS, Five Power Defence Arrangement or just Quad?).
If this is not an Asia-Pacific version of NATO’s eastward expansion, then what is, Yucheng asked and added that “this strategy if left unchecked would bring “horrible consequences and push the Asia-Pacific over the edge of an abyss. It makes no sense to take aim at China. The attempt to copy and paste the Ukraine crisis in the Asia-Pacific is doomed to fail.”
Yucheng called “absurd” Western accusations that China had prior knowledge of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine and even endorsed it, Yucheng said China is not involved in the conflict, not the one who created it, China desires friendly relations with all countries and Beijing never set any limit on cooperation, nor does it see a need to do so. Yechung also said Western countries want to use Ukraine as “cannon fodder” to weaken Russia and maintain their hegemony.
Yechung referred to the video chat between President Xi Jinping and Joe Biden in which both talked of China-US cooperation for global peace. Interestingly, written coverage of the Biden-Jinping discussion differed widely in Washington and Beijing – White House statement said Biden warned Jinping against supporting Russia in the Ukraine conflict but Chinese media made no such mention and said Biden was in agreement with the ‘One China’ policy – read non interference in the Taiwan issue.
An analysis of the above should lead to the following conclusions:
- China is aware that akin to the Ukraine conflict, the US wants to activate the theatre in the Asia Pacific against China.
- China’s considers its redlines are threatened – same way as Russia.
- Nations which China shares land borders with are not ‘allies’ of China. But Ukraine also is neither a NATO nor a EU member and French President Emmanuel Macron recently said it may take years or even decades for Ukraine to become an EU member.
- The US has been saying it does not want a Ukraine in the Indo-Pacific and said so in the last Quad summit also. But it actually wants one in the Indo-Pacific going by its conduct in Europe and demonstrated efforts to prolong the Ukraine conflict to advance its own national interests ‘feigning’ it is not directly involved in Ukraine.
- The very reasons why the US is adding fuel to the fire in Ukraine are also applicable to the Indo-Pacific or the Asia Pacific as China terms it.
- In pursuit of a US-led uniplolar world and in order to maintain its hegemony, the Biden administration is disregarding the harm it is causing to the global economy including Europe.
- The expansion of NATO strategy planned to include China indicates American motives to initiate conflict in the Indo-Pacific as it has done in Europe.
- China will respond to the US fueling conflict against it in the Indo-Pacific with far more intensity than what Russia is doing in Ukraine. And, Beijing’s economic linkages with the West are much greater than of Russia.
- Yucheng projecting China as the ‘good boy’ never provoking or attacking any country is a blatant lie – in the same genre as the US-NATO.
Indian policy makers need to take the above into consideration. Many American strategists have opined that America’s nuclear deterrent is inadequate to take on China and Russia. But the US wants others to fight its wars and has been developing worldwide biological warfare capabilities, as has emerged in the UNSC Arria Formula Meeting on Biological Security regarding the biological activities in countries including Ukraine held on May 6, 2022. The US and the UK willfully abstained from this UNSC meeting.