Friday, January 31, 2020

The Pact of Kneel

So what about a Russian-Chinese alliance? Is a third period of defense cooperation going to benefit China's military capability just as the Soviet Union provided China in the 1950s and as Russia did after 1991?

The Moscow-Beijing collaborative relations have already yielded major shifts in the military balance in the Asia-Pacific two times. Will the third time be a global transformation?

No. The third time won't be a global transformation. I don't think there will even be a third time.

Russia has exhausted their Cold War stocks of military technology that the rapidly advancing China might find useful. All Russia has left to offer China are lots of nukes and obedience. And I'm not so sure about the former. Russia will be China's junior partner if they stick together.

I tend to think that Russia is a mixed bag for China as an ally, akin to what Fascist Italy's "Pact of Steel" with Nazi Germany was for Germany: a source of peacetime diplomatic heft but potential military distractions in wartime to save their weak ally.

Russia's appeasement of second period of defense cooperation with China after the Cold War failed to buy enough time for Russia to recover. Any Russian alliance with China would simply formalize Russia's subservience.

Indeed, although this analysis speaks of a strengthening Russian-Chinese "alliance," Russia is not blind:

Moscow, however, still sees China as a potential long-term threat. ...

Russia worries that if its 3,485-kilometer (2,165-mile) border with Mongolia falls under Chinese control, its Siberian underbelly would be exposed.

Apart from the horror of a general war against such an axis, it would be fascinating to see what price China will demand to bail out their over-extended junior partner.

And it gets worse for Russia, China's centuries-long ethnic cleansing of border lands to bring them into China continue, and Central Asia former Soviet provinces are looking to Russia for protection from the "flag follows trade" process that could plant China firmly in control of the region. Does Russia want their vulnerable Asian front with China to be even longer?

If Russia wants to retain influence in Central Asia and keep the China threat potential at bay, Russia will have to oppose China's long-term threat to "the Stans."

UPDATE: Russia should be cc'd for this warning:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday pressed Kazakhstan to be wary of Chinese investment and influence, urging the Central Asian nation and others to join calls demanding an end to China's repression of minorities.

Bringing a message similar to the one he has delivered repeatedly to other countries, Pompeo told senior Kazakh officials that the attractiveness of Chinese investment comes with a cost to sovereignty and may hurt, instead of help, the country's long-term development.

Russia could use our friendship. Maybe Putin will stop effing up royally.