International, Politics

Is This Disaster What Biden Wants?

When people speak of “escalating the war in Ukraine,” they commonly refer to the possibility of a nuclear conflict between the West and Russia. But there is another sense in which the present conflict can grow: it can enlarge in scope through the participation of new great power alliances formed to exploit the changed conditions. The collapse of Russia as a great power has kicked off a frenzy of adjustment among other global players.

Consider Europe. Some politicians in France and Germany have long seen Russia as a buffer against the westward march of China on Eurasia’s riches, as epitomized by its Belt and Road projects. They fear that a prostrate Kremlin, or one indentured to Beijing, cannot keep order in the ‘Stans and allow China to extend its influence right up to the border of Europe. Efforts to “save Putin from humiliation” are all about holding the dragon at arm’s length by propping up Moscow. But other parts of Europe are being driven in the opposite direction, with long-time neutrals Sweden and Finland opting to join NATO and nuclear-armed Britain providing interim security guarantees.

China is mentally adjusting to the prospect of being stuck with a dependent rather than a great power ally. Former PRC Ambassador to Ukraine Gao Yusheng, in a private talk, said the game may be up—that despite Beijing’s hopes that recent events show that “Russia has been declining ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union … The Russian military’s economic and financial strength, which are not commensurate with its status as a so-called military superpower, could not support a high-tech war costing hundreds of millions of dollars a day. The Russian army’s poverty-driven defeat was evident everywhere on the battlefield.” Read more…

You Might Also Like