Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Is Russia Finally Pivoting to the Asia-Pacific Region, Too?

Did Putin just pretend to wave about nuclear weapons in defiance of America and the West when they are really intended for the China front?

Well that's interesting:

Some commentators see Putin’s announcement [in March of various "new" nuclear weapons] as an attempt to force the West to take him more seriously, while others point to his reelection campaign. Polls conducted by the Pew Research Center show that the Russian population blames the West and international sanctions, rather than the Russian government, for the poor state of the economy. ...

It is possible that his intended audience is located to the east, in China. For many years, the Chinese Communist Party has cultivated intense nationalism based on the sense that China repeatedly has been torn apart by foreign powers. The country’s enmity toward Japan and its triumphant reclaiming of Hong Kong and Macao are among the most visible evidence. Chinese maps still show one of the results of the “unequal treaties” between the Qing Dynasty and foreign powers—Russia’s possession of large swaths of Chinese Siberia, where many ethnic Chinese live today.

Of course, I've written that in general Putin's demonization of the West may be more about concealing Russian appeasement of the real threat to Russia, China:

As I've written, appeasement properly done can make sense if it allows you to avoid war with a stronger power and then use that time to build up your strength to reverse that imbalance.

In many ways, that is what Russia is doing. They have been appeasing China until they can rebuild their strength. One sign of their rebuilding is their massive slow down in weapons sales to China that allowed China to steal military technology from Russia.

But appeasing a stronger power is humiliating. Especially for a former superpower suddenly turned into a near-Third World, alcohol-addled country losing population every day.

So what are you to do when you must appease China?

Pretend the real threat is something that is actually no threat at all--NATO and behind that alliance, America.

Russia can use all the nukes it can get pointing east given that the treaty suspending territorial disputes between Russia and China could be canceled in 2021, as I noted recently here.