Geopolitics

Xi-Putin Meet & The Cold War
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 19 May , 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent two-day visit to China, the first foreign visit after being re-elected president, was watched globally, particularly by the US-led West. A few days earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Beijing to convey China should not assist Russia in the Ukraine War; which was ludicrous considering the arms, equipment and regulars-cum-mercenaries NATO has pumped/ is pumping into Ukraine. The recent exhibition of destroyed/captured NATO armament in Moscow made Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, pretty uncomfortable, as apparent from his post on X wanting Russia not to do so.

In a recent article in the ‘Military Thought’ published by the Russian defence ministry, Igor Kostyukov, head of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces, wrote, “The priority (of NATO) is supply of weapons and military equipment to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Since February 2022, about 800 tanks, more than 3.5 thousand armored combat vehicles, about 1.5 thousand artillery pieces, about 270 multiple launch rocket systems, more than 250 anti-aircraft missile systems, 7.7 thousand MANPADS, up to 290 thousand anti-tank weapons, 130 airplanes and helicopters, over 30 thousand unmanned aerial vehicles for various purposes.”

China rolled out the red carpet for Putin. He was met not only by Chinese President XI Jinping but also by Xi’s entire cabinet. Both sides reviewed the successful experience in developing the mutual relationship and  exchanged views on major international and regional issues of mutual interests. Both leaders signed a joint statement in backdrop of the West giving long-range missiles to Ukraine for hitting targets deep inside Russia and plans to induct NATO troops in Ukraine, ostensibly in the garb of ‘trainers’ initially.

Xi knows that the US wants to target China preferably after subduing Russia militarily and economically – although this hasn’t worked according to the American plan. Therefore, geostrategic China-Russia collusion is natural fallout; China-Russia  bilateral bonds are set to become stronger. China-Russia bilateral trade in 2023 was $240.1 billion, an increase of 26.3 percent from the previous year.

Xi and Putin expressed commitment for global stability and multilateralism, dismissing notions of targeting other nations. At a joint press conference with Putin, Xi said, “We signed joint statements on enhancing the comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation for a new era in the context of the 75th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. Several milestone intergovernmental and interagency documents were signed in our presence, giving a new powerful impetus to the steady advancement of China-Russia relations.

“With Russia chairing BRICS this year and China taking over the chairmanship of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), both sides will support each other’s chairmanship, build a high-quality partnership that is more comprehensive, close, practical and inclusive, and build the unity and strength of the Global South”, Xi added.

He further said China and Russia are committed to fairness and justice and want political settlement of hotspots. “Cold War mentality still exists, and unilateralism, hegemonism, bloc confrontation and power politics threaten world peace and the security of all countries. The two presidents are of the view that it is urgent to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. UN resolutions must be earnestly implemented and the question of Palestine must be solved on the basis of the two-State solution…. political settlement is the right way forward for the Ukraine crisis…. China hopes that peace and stability will return to the European continent at an early date, and stands ready to play a constructive role in this.”

Putin said that the intergovernmental cooperation mechanisms between Russia and China are functioning well, and bilateral cooperation in such areas as economy, trade, agriculture, industry, energy, and connectivity has grown steadily. He noted that the signing of a series of cooperation documents demonstrates that the two sides are committed to further deepening win-win cooperation.

The joint statement speaks of serious concern of American attempts to undermine strategic stability to maintain its absolute military superiority, including: building a global missile defence system and deploying them globally, and in space; shoring ability to disable the opponent’s military actions with non-nuclear PGMs and incapacitating strikes; enhancing NATO’s ‘nuclear sharing in Europe plus extended deterrence to specific allies; creating infrastructure in Australia member of South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone treaty) to support US-UK nuclear forces; US-UK-Australia nuclear submarine cooperation; plans to deploy/provision land-based intermediate-range and short-range missiles in Asia-Pacific and Europe; dual containment’ policy towards China and Russia.

Following his visit to China, Putin told the media that Moscow will start from the real conditions in resolving the conflict, the President said. There can be no discussion of formulas for peace in Ukraine on the basis of “wishful thinking” rather than the real situation. He further said that Russia is ready to take part in peace talks on Ukraine, but has not been invited to the conference in Switzerland, Putin said. If Russia is not wanted at the negotiations on Ukraine, it does not have to be there. Russia will not discuss “from the centre of the field” ideas for a settlement in Ukraine that it does not know.

It is no secret that the US not only does not want the wars in Ukraine to end, but instigates more and more hotspots around the world to reap economic and strategic advantage for furthering its national interests.  How the ‘Arms Lobby’ and ‘Defence Contractors’ control American governments can be gauged from the fact that the US Department of Defence (DoD) has been sending military officers with promising careers for the past three decades to work for Pentagon’s top private contractors, allowing  corporate lobbying disguised as policy recommendations to reach the highest branches of the DoD (https://jacobin.com/2024/04/pentagon-fellows-program-sdef-defense-contractors).

Western media harps daily on China’s economic woes – same as its wishful thinking about Russia’s economic crash from the start of the Ukraine War.  But China’s economy grew by 5.3 percent in the first quarter of 2024, which included 6 percent industrial growth and 6.7 percent manufacturing growth at. Similar are the cries about China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including Gwadar, going defunct; ignoring that Saudi Arabia has invested $10 billion in Gwadar Port.

America’s sanction regime couldn’t cripple Russia but the US continues to apply the same to China and elsewhere. America has even threatened India with sanctions  because of the recent India-Iran deal on the Chabahar Port (sic). Just before the recent Xi-Putin meet, America hiked tariffs on Chinese Electric Vehicles imports from 25 to 100 percent, which will also affect other imports from China, including lithium batteries, photovoltaic cells, critical minerals, semiconductors, steel and aluminum.

Referring to America’s plan to “take out” Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran in five years while bombing Afghanistan prior to invading it, General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander, NATO had said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail” (https://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166). That US policy hasn’t changed much but America’s military might is challenged with advances in military technology in China and Russia, because of which the US wants to avoid direct conflict with them by using proxies. For the same reason, the US also wants an India-China war.

Now China has given a shocker to the US by dumping $53.3 billion worth  US treasuries and agency debt bonds,  at a time when the US dollar fell to its one-month low at 104.20. More shocks are in store for the US-Europe as BRICS members prepare to dump the US dollar. Moreover, China could use the BRI to further the Chinese   Yuan over the USD for global trade and debt-repayment related to the BRI; 155 countries have signed the BRI.

Finally, the US is looking to ignite more hotspots including in Iran and Central Asia. The US is tripling production of its 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Preparatory (MOP) bombs to hit Iran in case it goes nuclear. But the Cold War between the US and China-Russia is likely to hot up as well.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army.

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