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China Isolates Russia

Diane Francis. The Kyiv Post,  09/17/22

Vladimir Putin has suffered a serious military setback in his war in Ukraine in recent days, but China’s Xi Jinping dealt him a second, diplomatic blow on September 13. He “warned” any country against meddling in Kazakhstan (薩克共和國), days before the two leaders meet today (September 15) face-to-face. This was meant for Russia because the Kazakhs have been in Putin’s cross hairs since June after their leader openly criticized the war in Ukraine, and then announced that Kazakh oil exports would be diverted to help Europe. Russians blocked the exports, and hinted that Kazakhs may be invaded like Ukraine.

But this week Xi waded in by pledging to protect the country from invasion in a private meeting with leaders that was leaked. “We [China] will resolutely support Kazakhstan in the defense of its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.” This amounted to a pre-emptive rebuke by Xi, aimed at Putin’s Imperialism. No matter what the two say publicly after their meeting today as to how strong their ties are, China is distancing itself from Putin as his war in Ukraine falters.

Contrary to what Putin would like the world to think, China has never supported his war against Ukraine. On February 4, the two signed a 5,300-word “no limits” partnership agreement that made no mention of the invasion that occurred only 20 days later.

Since then, China has kept its distance by deploying duplicitous diplomacy (兩面外交手腕): Beijing refuses to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or to call it a war, but it also has not praised it, has not abrogated Western sanctions against Russia, nor provided any military aid. China’s priority is to maintain its trading relationships with its biggest customers, Europe and America, and stay close with Russia, if only to tap into its cheap energy. India plays the same game even though it is a democracy and Western ally. Both are participating in naval “war” games in Asia with Russia this week to placate Putin.

The Xi-Putin partnership has been uneasy for some time. China has vied with Russia, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, for hegemony over Central Asia, with its vast resources and growing markets. Beijing has already outsmarted Moscow by spending billions to build railways, highways, and pipelines through Kazakhstan and its Central Asian neighbors aimed at improving their trade — and that bypass Russia completely.

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Putin may have wanted to restore the Russian Empire, but his        power over former Soviet states is waning as his invasion of             Ukraine flounders

Kelsey Vlamis, 10/09/22

·      When Putin invaded Ukraine, experts speculated his ultimate goal was to restore the Russian Empire. 

·      But as the war drags on, Putin's attention and military power have been fixated on Ukraine.

·       Now some of his post-Soviet allies are expressing frustration with Moscow's lack of aid.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked attack on Ukraine in February, experts said he was expecting a swift victory and potentially setting off on an effort to restore the Russian Empire or the USSR.


Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and even before Putin rose to power, Russia has insisted on maintaining influence over post-Soviet states, according to Taras Kuzio, a professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy.


Putin's desire for the West to stay out of the former Soviet Union has been clear, especially in Ukraine. One of the reasons Putin gave for invading was the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He has demanded that Ukraine — considered an aspiring NATO member — not be allowed to join the alliance.


Experts have speculated Putin was driven by a deeper desire: to restore the USSR or the historic Russian Empire, which predated the Soviet Union and at one point or another included Ukraine, Finland, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, among other nations.


A violent border conflict between Kyrgyzstan (吉爾吉斯) and Tajikistan (塔吉克斯坦), both members of a military alliance with Putin, has gone largely unaddressed by Russia. "Of course, they are distracted by Ukraine," Sadyr Japarov, the president of Kyrgyzstan, recently said, according to The Times.


Armenia (亞美尼亞), another member of the military alliance, has been in conflict with Azerbaijan (亞塞拜然) and calling for aid from Moscow, but without success, The Times reported.


To make up for major losses, Russia has also had to withdraw forces stationed in some post-Soviet states to redirect them to the frontlines in Ukraine, again signaling to those states that Moscow's power is on the decline, Kuzio said.


Meanwhile, the lack of Kremlin leadership in the region has left an opening for other states to step in.


"Russia's humiliating military setbacks in Ukraine and economic isolation from the Western world have confirmed its status as China's junior partner," Kuzio wrote, adding: "China has replaced Russia as the preeminent power in Central Asia."


In addition to declining influence over post-Soviet states, Russia's relationships with powerful partners are also on uncertain ground after the leaders of both China and India last month publicly acknowledged concerns about the war in Ukraine.



Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.


Read the original article on Business Insider

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