Cold shower for Putin from China: "Four reasons why Russian defeat in Ukraine is inevitable"

Chinese expert on Russia, Feng Yujun, also believes that the Russian war in Ukraine has strained Sino-Russian relations.

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

The war between Russia and Ukraine is a disaster for both countries, and given that neither side has a decisive advantage and that the political positions of both countries are at odds, the fighting is unlikely to end soon. But one thing is clear - this is a conflict that represents a post-Cold War turning point that will have a deep and lasting global impact, Chinese expert Feng Yujun, professor and vice-dean of the Institute for International Studies and director of the Center for Russian and of Central Asian Studies, Fudan University.

At the same time, four main factors will influence the course of the war. The first is the level of resistance and national unity that Ukrainians have shown, which so far has been something extraordinary. The second is international support for Ukraine, which, although it has recently fallen short of the country's expectations, remains widespread.

The third factor, as the author points out, is the nature of modern warfare, combat and competition, which involves a combination of industrial power and command, control, communication and intelligence systems. One of the reasons why Moscow is struggling in this war is that it has yet to recover from the dramatic de-industrialization that Russia suffered after the collapse of the Soviet Union, reports Jutarnji.

The last factor, as stated, is information. When it comes to decision-making, Vladimir Putin is trapped in an information 'cocoon' - and that's because he's been in power for a very long time. The Russian president and his national security team do not have access to accurate intelligence. The system they manage does not have an effective error correction mechanism. Their Ukrainian counterparts are, as Yuzun points out, more flexible and effective.

The combination of four factors makes the defeat of the Kremlin inevitable

These four factors in combination, the author claims, make the final defeat of the Kremlin inevitable. In time, he will be forced to withdraw from all occupied Ukrainian territories, including Crimea. At the same time, its nuclear capability is not a guarantee of success, according to the Chinese expert, recalling that, although a nuclear power, the US has withdrawn from Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

Although the cost of the war for Ukraine is very high, the strength and unity of the country's resistance has shattered the myth that Russia is militarily invincible. Ukraine, writes Yuzhun, could perhaps rise from the ashes, and when the war ends, look forward to the possibility of joining the European Union and NATO.

The war for Russia, on the other hand, represents a turning point. Putin's regime has led to widespread international isolation. The regime has also had to contend with difficult domestic political currents, from the Wagner Group mercenary insurgency and other internal military threats — such as an attack by pro-Ukraine, anti-Putin Russian armed groups in Belgorod — to ethnic tensions in several Russian regions and the recent terrorist attack in Moscow.

This shows that the political risks in Russia are very high. Putin has recently been re-elected to the presidency, but he is facing all possible events that could be called 'black swan' cases. An additional risk Putin faces is that the war in Ukraine increasingly convinces former Soviet republics that Russia's imperial ambitions threaten their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Distancing from Moscow and awakening NATO from the state of 'brain death'

Increasingly aware that a Russian victory is out of the question, these countries are distancing themselves from Moscow in various ways, from creating economic development policies that are less dependent on Russia to pursuing a more balanced foreign policy. As a result, the prospects for Eurasian integration, which Russia advocates, are fading.

Meanwhile, the war forced Europe to realize how enormous a threat Russian military aggression posed to the continent's security and international order, effectively ending the post-Cold War détente between the European Union and Russia - many European countries, the author states, gave up their illusions about Putin's Russia.

At the same time, the war awakened NATO from a state that French President Emmanuel Macron once called a state of "brain death." Since most NATO countries have increased their military spending, the alliance's military deployment in Eastern Europe has been greatly strengthened. Sweden and Finland joining NATO, however, underscores Putin's inability to use the war to prevent the expansion of the Western military alliance.

The war will also help reshape the UN Security Council. He exposed the body's inability to effectively assume its responsibility for maintaining world peace and regional security due to the abuse of the veto power by some permanent member states. This has angered the international community, raising the prospect of speeding up Security Council reform. Germany, Japan, India and other countries are likely to become permanent members of the SC, and the five current permanent members could lose their veto power. Without reform, the paralysis that has characterized the Security Council would make the world an even more dangerous place.

No more 'no limits' partnerships

Relations between China and Russia are not fixed, and have been affected by the events of the last two years. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently visited Beijing, where he and his Chinese counterpart once again emphasized the close ties between the two countries. However, it seems that the trip was more of a diplomatic attempt by Russia to show that it is not alone, than an expression of sincere love, the author states. Careful observers note that China's attitude towards Russia, as he points out, has moved away from the attitude of "no limits" partnership from the beginning of 2022, just before the start of the war in Ukraine, towards the more traditional principles of "non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-threatening third parties".

Although China did not join the Western sanctions against Russia, it did not systematically violate them either. It is true that China imported more than 100 million tons of Russian oil last year, but that is not much more than it bought annually even before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. If, on the other hand, China stops importing Russian oil and starts buying from someone else, it will undoubtedly increase international oil prices, which will put a lot of pressure on the world economy.

Since the beginning of the war, China has conducted two rounds of diplomatic mediation. Success turned out to be elusive, but no one, according to Yuzhun, should doubt China's desire to end this cruel war through negotiations. This desire shows that China and Russia are very different countries - Russia seeks to undermine the existing international and regional order through war, while China, as the author writes, wants to resolve disputes peacefully.

With Russia continuing to strike Ukrainian military positions, key infrastructure and cities, and possibly willing to further escalate the conflict, the prospect of a Korean-style truce seems remote. Due to the lack of a fundamental change in the Russian political system and ideology, the conflict could become frozen - and this would only allow Russia to continue starting new wars after a break, putting the world in even greater danger, concludes the analysis.

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