The World Today for March 27, 2023

NEED TO KNOW

Legion of Doom

RUSSIA

The prime minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, is worried. He didn’t like the implications of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s recent three-day visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The Chinese president’s visit to Moscow makes us anxious,” Morawiecki said during a press conference in Warsaw with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, according to the Moscow Times. “This China-Moscow axis is dangerous.”

The prospect of an alliance between China and Russia – two massive, powerful autocracies with statist economies and a lack of respect for human rights – has long been a nightmare for American and European strategic thinkers. Now, as Russia fights a bloody war in Ukraine, that alliance might have come to pass.

China is not yet shipping heavy weaponry to Russia, wrote Bloomberg. But it is sending non-lethal, so-called dual-use items that can be used for both civilian and military purposes. Still, Russia is now more dependent on China as a customer for energy exports that are propping up the Russian economy in the wake of Western sanctions, CNN reported.

The origins of Russia’s disaffection with the US and Europe are obvious. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and the expansion of NATO in the years since then have long angered Russia’s leaders. The West’s military aid to Ukraine in the last year, however, brought US-Russian relations to a new low, as Reuters noted.

China’s reasons for linking up with Russia – historically not China’s friend – are more complex. At the heart of China’s concerns is Taiwan. The island has been independent since 1949 – but officials in Beijing view it as a breakaway province. Coincidentally, China’s plans for Taiwan echo Russia’s aim of invading Ukraine to reintegrate the former Soviet republic into Russia. When the Chinese look to the future, they don’t like the idea of fighting the kind of proxy war with the West that Russia is now waging.

“Why does the US ask China not to provide weapons to Russia, while it keeps selling arms to Taiwan?” Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said recently, according to the Christian Science Monitor. “Why does the US talk at length about respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity on Ukraine, while disrespecting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on China’s Taiwan question?”

One might argue that the US pushed China, Russia, and, additionally, Iran together into a “legion of doom,” as Politico wrote. Others, however, might contend that China is happy to watch the US and Russia spend blood and treasure while biding its time, ABC News added.

It’s hard to tell who is ganging up on whom.

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