Russia seven months down the line has ended up in its Ukraine invasion in an “Afghanistan 2.0 Debacle’ as was forecasted by me in the Eurasia Review analysis on the fifth day of Russian Invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s prolonged involvement in Ukrainian military quagmire admirably suits China’s strategic blueprint in more ways than one.
Russia’s prolonged involvement in the Ukraine War which now seems to being an endless war suits China’s strategic blueprint immensely. The United States strategic focus now stands divided between Europe and Indo Pacific easing the American heat on China.
Was it a consequence or otherwise that China’s over-heated aggressive intimidation of Taiwan was coinciding with ongoing Russian hostilities in Ukraine?
Noticeably, China neither by words or actions prevailed over Russia to exercise restraint in the Russian military misadventure in Ukraine nor hesitated to extend Russia considerable assistance enabling Russia to prosecute its military operations in Ukraine, short of direct military involvement.
Russia’s strategic diminution as a consequence of Ukraine War stalemate, suits China, as for over a decade it has been perceived by external observers that China is the senior partner of then Russia-China Strategic Nexus and now the Russia-China Axis. China’s salience as Asian Heartland Power and in Western Pacific grows in direct proportion to Russian diminution post-Ukraine.
Russia’s standing as a military power of consequence with sizeable military intervention capabilities in Russia’s Near Abroad stand severely curtailed due to diversion of resources for the Ukraine Invasion. Ukraine has been successful in imposing heavy attrition on Russian military hardware.
Consequently, Chinese oversized military power, with other than sizeable Chinese Army Formations tied down on its disputed borders with India, remains intact. This confers on China a a comparative military edge over Russian military power and reinforces China’s image as the senior partner in the Russia-China Axis.
Russia’s economy was in a precarious state even before the Ukraine Invasion and the heavy costs of Ukraine War worsen Russia’s economy that much more creating domestic political discontent. Stringent economic sanctions imposed by United States and the Western countries have squeezed Russian economy unbearably.
Russia’s energy exports which provide the mainstay of Russian economy have been hit hard by Western economic sanctions. Major importers of Russian oil production stand confined to China and India and a handful of smaller countries. Russia has been forced to sell its oil exports at reduced prices.
Russia’s economic woes post-Ukraine makes Russia not only vulnerable to China’s economic domination but also diminishes Russia’s regional and global stature in comparative terms with China.
Post-Ukraine, Russia so strategically diminished, is in no position to emerge as an ‘Alternative Centre of Global Power’ which was the earlier declared aim of President Putin’s foreign policy blueprint. Nor would Russia now be able to play a decisive role in the strategic calculus of the Indo Pacific. This suits China’s strategic blueprint.
With the above contextual backdrop what needs to be pointed out significantly is that Russia’s standing in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) stands relegated with China’s emerging primacy. This should be bad news for a country like India which counted on Russia having a decisive say in SCO’s strategic perspectives.
Russia’s involvement in Ukraine War seems to be in for a long haul as United States and NATO nations are intent on using the Ukraine War for ‘proxy bleeding’ of Russia’s military power by providing sizeable military aid to Ukraine. The results of this Western strategy are already visible with Ukrainian counter-offensives succeeding.
In conclusion, what needs to be observed is that it suits China’s contemporary strategic blueprint for Russia’s prolonged involvement in the Ukraine War. It confers on China distinct geopolitical, military and economic gains with Russia’ strategic staure diminished.