«The Worst Thing That Could Happen»
The struggle for leadership between three superpowers — the United States, Russia and China — has escalated to the point that the threat of wars between them has become not only real, but highly likely, and the main impetus for this aggravation was given by decisions taken in Beijing by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.
The visit of Vladimir Putin to Beijing at the opening of the Olympics and his talks with Xi Jinping became the second important event for world politics after the meeting between Joe Biden and Putin in Geneva, in June 2021. From the joint statement of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, it became clear that the process of creating a new architecture of international relations would be more complex than Washington had planned, and its consequences could be different from what the White House expected.
In Geneva, Joe Biden began the process of rebuilding the system of international relations with a Triumvirate, SG3, consisting of the US, Russia and China, on the top of it. In February 2022, in Beijing, it became clear that de facto SG3 already exists and is operational. The West was not ready for such a rapid development of events and refused to accept the new reality. As a result, the threat of military conflicts in Europe and Asia began to sharply increase.
Starting the process, Biden expected that it was Washington that would play the role of leader and ideologist of the new world. He hoped at the first stage to build relations with Putin, fix Russia’s place in SG3 and agree on the terms on which Washington and Moscow would interact.
The White House hoped that having received an offer from Biden that could not be rejected, Putin would understand that the offer to enter SG3 significantly raises the status of Russia. Putin had to become accommodating and malleable and accept the US leadership without objection. Having consolidated the role of Russia as his partner, having tied up Moscow with agreements, Biden planned to start building relations with China, including through hard pressure on Beijing.
Such a sequence of actions would allow Washington not only to weaken the political ties between Moscow and Beijing, but also to have Russia as a supporting ally at the stage of negotiations with Xi Jinping. Ultimately, this would allow Biden to create SG3, where Moscow and Beijing would play the roles of Washington’s junior partners, recognizing US leadership.
However, things did not go as planned by the White House. Biden’s idea and initiative was received positively by Putin, but the Kremlin was ready not only to restructure international relations and actively participate in SG3, but also to challenge US leadership. The Kremlin, unexpectedly for Biden, seized the initiative, putting forward its proposals for the formation of a new order in the world, in particular, demanding, at the first stage, guarantees of an equal level of strategic security for the participants in SG3.
Russia set out its position in the form of a draft Strategic Security Treaty, demanding that Washington remove its nuclear weapons, medium-range missiles and bases from Eastern Europe, where there were no bases until 1997, when the agreement was signed between Russia and NATO, that, according to Moscow, was violated by the West.
In addition, in the draft Treaty that Russian journalists immediately dubbed «Putin’s ultimatum», Moscow demanded guarantees that NATO would not accept new members from the countries of the former USSR and would not move further east closer to the Russian borders. From that moment on, any actions of the US and NATO in Europe had to take into account the interests of Moscow and not damage the strategic security of Russia.
Moreover, Moscow demanded that Washington takes responsibility for the actions of its allies in NATO and deprive them of the opportunity to interfere in relations between the superpowers, to escalate the situation and create tension in their own, from the Kremlin’s point of view, petty interests. The Kremlin said that it was ready to talk seriously only with Washington.
At that very moment, Beijing officially supported Moscow and «Putin’s ultimatum.» It became clear that Beijing was already behind the Kremlin, and Putin had discussed and agreed his position with Xi Jinping in advance.
The US and NATO tried to regain the initiative, and the West responded by accusing Russia of seeking to commit aggression against Ukraine and overthrow the anti-Russian and pro-Western regime in Kiev. The information and diplomatic campaigns, launched by Western media and officials around the upcoming Russian invasion of Ukraine, rallied European countries around the United States, strengthened Washington’s control over Europe, but unexpectedly demonstrated the limited possibilities for pressure on Russia by the EU and NATO, as well as growing divisions and disagreements between its members, as well as in the European elites, and the vulnerability of Europe, including its energy and financial sectors, as well as its political system.
At first, Moscow reacted to the accusations rather calmly, watching as the war hysteria undermined the economy and escalated social tension in Ukraine. In Europe, the hysteria pushed up the price of gas, electricity, oil, as well as general inflation.
Moscow responded to Western accusations with statements that it was not going to attack anyone. The impression was that Moscow knew how the information campaign in defense of Ukraine would end: Kiev would be forced to comply with the Minsk agreements and/or abandon the idea of joining NATO. Putin had only to wait…
At the same time, Moscow began its game and, unexpectedly for Washington, began to raise the stakes, adding tension and demonstrating that «Putin’s ultimatum» was not put forward to Ukraine, but to the West, and this ultimatum includes specific demands that Moscow intends to achieve under any conditions, and all that noise around Ukraine cannot distract Moscow from its goals.
At that moment, the civilizational difference in the thinking and psychology of Russians and Western Europeans began to affect the situation. The West did not understand that the Kremlin started real fight for strategic space and security, for its place in the Triumvirate. It was not bargaining or a game for small chips.
The Kremlin conducted a series of military exercises on its territory, then began exercises in Belarus, not only on the border with Ukraine, but also on the border with Poland and the Baltic countries, that is, with NATO. The medium-range missiles, as well as air defense and missile defense systems were relocated to Belarus from the Far East at a distance of 10 thousand kilometers.
In particular, S-400 missile systems were deployed, which are not designed to fight Ukrainian aircrafts or missiles that practically do not exist in Ukraine. S-400s are designed to destroy cruise missiles and modern aircrafts and fighter-jets at a distance of up to 500 km, to fight an enemy of NATO capabilities.
Moreover, it turned out that Russia, by deploying the S-400 in Belarus, completed the creation of the most modern air defense belt along the entire perimeter of the borders of Russia and Belarus with Europe, including the Baltic states, Poland, Moldova, Rumania, Ukraine and Turkey. From that moment on, Russia was able to close the sky for flights at any time throughout the entire post-Soviet space in Europe.
Moscow also transferred six large landing ships of the Baltic and Northern fleets with units of marines across the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea, to the Crimea, creating real threat to Moldova and Rumania. Most important, by doing this, Moscow deprived Kiev of any chance of a successful attack on the pro-Russian republics in the Donbass.
Kiev has now concentrated almost all of its armed forces on a small foothold near Donetsk and Luhansk (up to 150.000 troops), as well as near the border with Belarus (over 50.000 troops). Six Russian landing ships in the Black Sea, capable of landing two brigades of elite marines at any moment that could capture all main ports of Ukraine on the Black Sea, that for centuries were part of the Russian Empire, where the entire population speaks Russian as their mother tongue, where millions are ethnic Russians or other pro-Russian nationalities, in fact, can bring an immediate and inevitable fall of the current regime. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine is unable to ensure protection of the Ukrainian Black Sea coast without withdrawing troops from the front line in the Donbass, and therefore, an attack on the separatist republics of Donbass in this situation would mean to Kiev a shot in the head.
Moreover, Moscow has increased its naval grouping in Crimea to a level that allows the Russian Black Sea Fleet to simultaneously launch 540 cruise missiles, capable of overcoming any air defense system in Europe.
This strengthening of the fleet had nothing to do with Ukraine, because Ukraine does not have a single cruise missile. It was a clear, direct and open signal to NATO, including to Romania, Poland and the Baltic countries that host the military bases that Putin demanded to close and remove.
At the same time, Russia began its Navy exercises in the Black Sea, Baltic Sea, Northern Sea and the Pacific Ocean. At the moment, 140 Russian ships are participating in exercises and live firing along the entire perimeter of Russia’s maritime borders.
In addition, Moscow has deployed a squadron of MiG-31Ks jet-fighters armed with Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missiles to Kaliningrad, Russia’s strategic port on the Baltic Sea bordering Poland and Lithuania. Kinzhal missiles are capable of reaching speeds 10 times the speed of sound, carrying nuclear warheads dozens of times more powerful than a bomb that had been dropped by the Americans on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, and hitting targets at a distance of up to 2 thousand kilometers, overcoming all anti-missile defense systems existing in the West, capable of destroying any targets in Europe within 5 minutes.
Photo: MIG-31K with a hypersonic missile Kinzhal (Dagger)
Most important, Putin changed the time schedule for the annual nuclear exercises with launches of sea-based and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as by strategic bombers, from autumn of 2022, to mid-February, and then once again shifted the time of this largest exercises of the Russian strategic triad to the first days after the closing of the Beijing Olympics. That was a signal not just to NATO, but directly to Great Britain, France and, above all, the United States, because these three states are the main targets of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.
Vladimir Putin himself took a timeout and for two months, agreed only to answer phone calls, and then went to the Olympics in Beijing, having postponed meetings with Macron and Scholz and, according to unofficial reports from the Russian media, having refused to meet Boris Johnson.
What has happened in Beijing, since Henry Kissinger’s visit to China in 1971, has been considered «the worst thing that could happen to America». Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping announced the creation of strategic alliance between China and Russia.
The Mistake that Kissinger Warned About
In Beijing, Putin and Xi demonstrated that from now on, the United States and Western Europe have to deal not with Russia and China as separate states, but with an alliance of two superpowers that are united not only by common strategic interests, but also by a very close understanding and vision of the ways in which the world will develop in the coming decades, including the places and roles of China and Russia in SG 3, initiated by Biden.
For all their cultural, civilizational, political differences, as well as different economic interests, Russia and China openly and clearly declared their intention to act jointly and coordinate their actions in relations with the West.
Moreover, something happened that a few months and even weeks before, Western leaders and politicians could not imagine. Beijing and Moscow marked a new place for the West — that is, the United States and its European allies — in the system of international relations and the global balance of power. Those who over the past few centuries have dominated the world and managed international relations and the world financial and economic systems have been designated as
«forces representing a minority on the world stage,»
as well as the forces that
“continue to uphold unilateral approaches to solving international problems and resort to power politics, practice interference in the internal affairs of other states, causing damage to their legitimate rights and interests, provoke contradictions, disagreements and confrontation, hinder the development and progress of mankind, which causes rejection by the international community.»
All this was the result and consequence of the mistake that the last great US diplomat Henry Kissinger warned about back in 1971, and then regularly since 2015.
Henry Kissinger warned that the United States should have better relations with China or Russia than relations between Russia and China, and under no circumstances should Washington allow relations between Russia and China to become better than the relations of each of the superpowers individually with the United States. .
In recent years, exactly what Kissinger feared has happened. The United States and Europe not only allowed the creation of an alliance between China and Russia, but the West pushed them hard to create this alliance, officially designating them as its main strategic rivals and competitors, constantly repeating that, applying economic and political sanctions for any reason in hope of slowing down the development of China and Russia.
Smart people learn from the mistakes of others, some from their own, some do not learn at all.
The reaction of the West to the creation of the Beijing-Moscow alliance turned out to be strange. The impression in Moscow and Beijing was that in Washington and the capitals of Europe, the leaders heard the message of Putin and Xi from Beijing, but failed to grasp what had happened.
Washington has chosen tough variant of the struggle for leadership by identifying Russia, at this stage, as the main adversary, and used all its political resources in Europe to push Russia back, as if the Western leaders were not able to learn from their own mistakes.
The West began to increase tension around Ukraine, and tensions started spiraling, threatening to split the world and increasing the likelihood of a military conflict between the West and the East.
On the one hand, the West threatens Moscow with financial and energy sanctions, including complete blocking of Nord Stream2, though Russia has already recovered the cost of its construction twice due to rising gas prices in Europe.
Simultaneously, Western politicians and Ukrainian President Zelensky began to talk about the need to impose sanctions against Russia in advance of the military invasion as a preventive measure, convincing Moscow that sanctions would be imposed regardless of whether Russia attacks Ukraine or not.
The final fire-cracker of that round of the «Great Game» in Europe came as statement of the G 7 that promised Moscow «to collectively impose economic and financial sanctions that will have large-scale and immediate consequences for the Russian economy.»
On the other hand, despite Moscow’s claims that Russia had no plans to attack Ukraine, the West continued to say that it would «force» Putin to abandon his invasion plan, thus preparing Putin, from the Kremlin’s point of view, for the role of a weak leader who got afraid of the West and retreated, and preparing Biden, Boris Johnson, Stoltenberg and others the role of strong leaders and winners.
All those actions of the leaders of the US, NATO and the EU were accompanied by statements that the West did not intend to fight on the side of Ukraine.
Thus, Putin is offered a choice: get sanctions and present himself as a strong leader, bringing a pro-Russian group to power in Kiev and gaining control over Ukraine, or present himself as a weak politician and leave an anti-Russian regime in power in Kiev. Or, as a third option, Zelensky and Ukraine are to be appointed to the role of the weak side that has to provide a compromising option at its own expense. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said of such a policy, «it looks like Kama Sutra.»
However, the West keeps silence about the fact that Putin is demanding the removal of NATO bases not from Ukraine, but from Romania, Poland and the Baltic states, and that the Kremlin is acting as if it is preparing to use military force to remove NATO bases in Eastern Europe.
In any case, it looks as if the Kremlin knows that the issue of Ukraine’s accession to NATO will be resolved and closed down in the coming days by, for example, Kiev’s refusal to join NATO. Moscow believes that the regime in Ukraine will collapse on its own before the end of this year, and civil war will engulf Ukraine.
The Kremlin is already preparing for the second round of the struggle for the world leadership.
At the same time, the situation in the South China Sea around Taiwan is also beginning to heat up. Just one fact. China has created stocks of food (grains, including rice, corn and wheat, soybeans, vegetable oils and other products necessary for the population), that comprise more than half of all food stocks in the world and allow to provide 1.4 billion Chinese with food for 18 months. China is ready for a possible blockade from the sea. What is it for?
Xi Jinping will answer this question in a special statement that China will make immediately after the end of the Beijing Olympics. There has been no official confirmation of this yet, but information about Beijing’s upcoming foreign policy statement of «Global Scale» was reported by Russian media, citing sources in the special services and the Foreign Ministry.
That will give a start for the second round of the «Great Game» and the struggle for world leadership. Could we see the Taiwan crises as Chinese variant of the Russian invasion of Ukraine?