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Choosing one’s friends is critical and typically based on mutual interests, common values, and compatibility.  The China-Russia alliance on display in Ukraine fits my criteria for global comrades, aka, friends.

China and Russia share a mutual interest in the demise of America, the replacement of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and the destruction of western civilization. With the Russian assault on Ukraine, we are already seeing the relationship between Putin and XI strained.

Russia’s invasion and takeover of Ukraine, a nation of more than 40 million people, was supposed to be swift, lasting days at most. As the conflict enters its third week, Russia’s war is no longer a brief incursion, it’s a protracted war with catastrophic consequences to life inside Ukraine and the stability of global relationships.

The Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”) has been watching the Russian invasion from the sidelines, as a “friend.” But the CCP is also a student, taking note of the Ukrainian resistance, and the costs of war when people fight back.

Taking a Toll, Exacting a Price

As a direct result of Putin’s ambitions, there is an enormous financial toll placed on Russia by the west, including a rejuvenated, perhaps resuscitated, NATO. China, Russia’s so-called friend, is observing the resolve to the west and the massive financial toll taken on the Ruble as the vice is tightened on Russia’s ability to finance its war.

The sanctions have been extended to the myriad Russian oligarchs, Putin’s financial buddies who were made wealthy by him in the ensuing aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

As with all friendships, circumstances can impact long-term loyalty. From its observation tower, the CCP’s intel community is calculating the cost of its alliance with Russia. Long-term loyalty among criminals is unsustainable when the calculations are fraught with error. The toll being taken on Russia, as it bungles the military operation, experiences massive loss of life, and the domestic financial toll have become factors that appear to be fracturing the Russia-China alliance.

The once-celebrated mutual interests, common values, and compatibility seem to be dissipating, day-by-day, as the Ukrainian conflict drags on and the costs of war escalate. China is becoming nervous. Russia’s invasion model appears to be faulty. In fact, U.S. military experts are now realizing that the mighty Russian bear is more like a cub.

Taiwan has been in the crosshairs of the CCP for decades. China wants Taiwan. Taiwan is the CCP’s Ukraine. What was once considered a simple military takeover of a fledgling nation, is now taxing the Russia-China relationship.  Things are not going according to plan.

The China-Russian alliance is fickle, weakened by Russia’s under-performing military, the sanctions, the new NATO resolve, public opinion, and the national resistance movement within Ukraine are converging to fracture the buddy alliance between Putin and Xi.

The Bully Factor

It would not be a stretch to say that the global playground has turned on the bully, Russia. Its nose bloodied and its ego shattered, Russia has been weakened by its ill-advised ambition to fold Ukraine into the old USSR.

The debacle has backfired, so far, and China is now questioning its friendship with Russia. Putin’s dream of a new Soviet empire is on the line. The price is simply too high, and Xi’s CCP empire’s own ambitions to absorb Taiwan may be thwarted, if only temporarily.

To date, the winner in the Ukraine conflict seems to be China. XI and his comrades have been afforded a birds-eye view, a kind of dress rehearsal of what could happen if China moves on Taiwan.

To be sure, the conflict is not over, nor is the outcome assured. The reckless Russian President, Vladimir Putin, still has his most ugly and destructive options at his disposal. Limited or full-on insertion of Putin’s nuclear arsenal is on the table. Going nuke would be the ultimate desperation move for the despot. Putin’s Napoleonic complex could rise to an unprecedented level of desperation leading to actions not seen in warfare since Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

CCP – A Fair Weather Friend

China is the kind of political friend constantly engaged in measuring the self-serving benefits of its global relationships. In the end, neither China nor Russia have a circle of friends who admire them, support their ambitions, and will stand by them until the end. As with all relationships, someone is giving, and someone is receiving.  The best friendships share the giving.

China has made commitments to Russia, and one is inclined to ask whether China will stand with its friend in light of Russia’s failing performance. One-sided friendships are not alliances Xi is likely to support.

Choosing one’s friends is critical and typically based on mutual interests, common values, and compatibility. When the interests, values, and compatibility are strained to the breaking point, the friendship will be questioned and increasingly viewed as dysfunctional.

[Photo by Tetiana SHYSHKINA on Unsplash ]

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