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Bjays92

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Not to keep piling on to this subject but...


I am very very concerned about the implications of this. I know people say that Russia has no point to engaging NATO and it's true that neither Russia nor China have really anything to gain from becoming directly involved in conflict with NATO. It's clear power is incredibly centralized in both countries though, with decision making resting almost entirely in the hands of Xi and Putin. So the question of engaging NATO or the United States for that matter, goes beyond national interest and gets into the worldviews or perceptions of these two particular individuals who have an incredible amount of power and resources at their own personal and unilateral disposal.

Both Putin and Xi fundamentally want to push back against American hegemony and both Russia and China have a history of significant regional and global influence that has been undermined by the west in the past century. For China especially, they see now as their chance to begin to regain their historical footing and influence on the global stage. So far that's been largely pragmatic, with China occasionally throwing its weight around to shape individual nations and companies policies around Chinese interests thanks to their newfound leverage. To this end, China has been measured in how it has been using this influence by and large, though they have been getting more assertive around issues of territorial integrity (think Hong Kong and Taiwan). Up until now, how that increased assertiveness would pan out in the long run was largely unknown, particularly in relation to retaking Taiwan, and pushing American influence out of the indo pacific. China for their part would seem to have a preference for this transition to happen peacefully, as peace is better for everyone, especially the Chinese people, which is likely why by and large China has been restrained in flexing its muscle as to not provoke anything. This peaceful approach is also based on the Chinese belief that US and western power is (or was) in decline. Rightly or wrongly, Beijing had assumed that their overtaking of the US was inevitable and therefore they could bide their time in realising their regional and global ambition, while their challengers continued to diminish. They also leveraged the western markets and international order to become powerful in the first place, meaning their global interdependence is still high, also tempering their potential responses.

Of note, we talk about western decoupling from China, but China for its part has also been driving decoupling even while publicly saying otherwise, as a means to insulate themselves from potential economic repercussions as much as possible. They see their economy as large enough to be self sustaining at this point, and the BRI gives them considerable influence and market power in Southeast Asia as well as emerging countries in the ME and Africa. This decoupling has already lead to China restricting Chinese companies from listing overseas (even as the US is seeking to prevent their listings) as well as reduce their trade need from other countries (think energy independence, semiconductors etc). They are trying to create onshore production of all their vital needs, a transition that is well underway but far from complete.

Putin for his part does not have anywhere near the power China does, and so he almost certainly knows he will never usurp the West. Given he sees the West as an enemy, if he can't usurp it, at the very least he can take it down, and bring it down with him if he has to. Russian attempts to divide the Western world have been in plain sight for years, especially since the election of Trump, and Putin cannot have been expecting this level of Western unity.

So this is where we likely see both Putin and Xi's calculuses fundamentally shift. Putin got a united response he wasn't expecting, he clearly cares nothing of his people or really his country given the state it is in at this point, so it would not be far fetched to assume that his fundamental goal at this point is to bring down the West with him. That's why he's being so reckless, upping the readiness of his nuclear arsenal, being brazen around nuclear facilities in Ukraine etc. He wants to goad the West into a war, without "directly" starting it, to play into his own propaganda goals (which extend far beyond Russia). Putin's threats are not bluffs, they are a result of his mindset.

China on the other hand, now has much less wiggle room as well. Xi also wants to see the fall of the Western order, which has been reinvigorated thanks to Putin's invasion. This is likely leading to a rethink that the natural decline of the West is inevitable. If that assumption is no longer informing Chinese decision making, then backing Russia makes sense, as it is now the best way to bring down US hegemony. People talk about China playing the long game, but they ignore that China doesn't actually have unlimited time at their disposal. They have a massive demographic problem that is virtually unfixable at this point, which means their window to act is sooner rather than later. My fear is they've already made this recalculation and believe the natural decline of the Western order is no longer inevitable within the next 10-20 years, meaning purely from Xi's point of view (not a view of what's best for the Chinese nation) backing Russia in this conflict now makes sense and if it spirals out of control so be it, as this confrontation would be inevitable at some point or another anyway.

I'm sorry for what is essentially a short essay lol, I really hope I'm wrong in this, but there are very few alternative explanations as to why China would be willing to throw considerable weight behind Russia.

Obviously there is still room for China to change course, this is purely an assessment of why China may feel compelled to support Russia and what that would mean on a broader scale.
 
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Admiral Beez

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China on the other hand, now has much less wiggle room as well. Xi also wants to see the fall of the Western order, which has been reinvigorated thanks to Putin's invasion. This is likely leading to a rethink that the natural decline of the West is inevitable. If that assumption is no longer informing Chinese decision making, then backing Russia makes sense, as it is now the best way to bring down US hegemony.
Too many times the leaders of the world powers underestimate the US. The British thought 1776 was going to be a cakewalk, 1812 as well. Spain didn’t see its utter defeat coming in 1898. Germany disregarded the threat the US represented in 1917 and 1941, as did the Japanese in arguably the worst military miscalculation of modern times, well until Putin decided to invade Ukraine and enrage and unite the world.

We see a seemingly broken country, beset by civil unrest, failing infrastructure, education and healthcare, greed, vast inequalities of wealth and opportunities, racism, mass incarceration, poverty and crime, with a failing economy, balance of trade and buried in government debt. We see a military that failed in Vietnam, fled from Lebanon after a terrorist strike, left Iraq unfinished and most recently ran from Afghanistan in an apparent blind panic. China sees this too and thinks their ascendancy is coming. But China, like Britain, Spain, Germany and Japan and Russia before it may well misunderstand and underestimate the US. The country can pivot like mad from sloth to lion.

This week the US told China that they know Putin asked for aid. China denied it, but the US has essentially told China that we‘re reading your encrypted communications to Moscow. We know what you’re up to. China also knows that once Russia is neutralized the now undistracted US and the now more united West has but one global objective, to contain China. And the world doesn’t really need China, sure we’d need to find a new source for cheap consumer goods, and they are a good sink for the West’s foreign debt and their cheap prices help to control inflation, but the West has reconfigured the global economy before, they can do it again.

China has a choice now, a fork in the road, be part of the solution or be yet another nation that underestimated the US and get stomped.
 
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lenaitch

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Well, to be honest, the US thought the War of 1812 would be a cakewalk as well.

One wild card might be Israel setting up an emergency humanitarian field hospital in western Ukraine. If it takes fire, either on purpose or errantly, from Russian forces, Israel is officially unaligned and not noted for understated responses.
 

W. K. Lis

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The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea is sandwiched between Poland to the south and Lithuania to the north and east.

From link.

_60619659_kaliningrad.gif


Annexed from Germany in 1945, the territory was a closed military zone throughout the Soviet period.

In 2013, Russia deployed short-range Iskander ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads in the region, in what it said was a response to US plans to deploy a ballistic missile defence system in Europe.

Koenigsberg, as the city of Kaliningrad was once known, was founded by Teutonic knights in the 13th century. It became one of the cities of the Hanseatic League and was once the capital of Prussia. The philosopher Immanuel Kant spent all his life in the city and died there in 1804.

The region was part of Germany until annexation by the USSR following World War II when it saw bitter fighting and suffered extensive destruction. The German population was expelled or fled after the war ended.

During the Soviet period, Kaliningrad Region, administratively part of the Russian Federation, was separated from the rest of Russia, more than 300km to the east, by the then Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus.
Since Lithuania joined the EU it has been impossible to travel between the exclave and the rest of Russia over land without crossing the territory of at least one EU state. There has been friction, particularly with Lithuania, over transit regulations.

Kaliningrad was one of the most militarised and closed parts of the Soviet Union, and the military were the region's chief economic mainstay in the Soviet years. When the USSR ceased to be, that military presence was decimated along with the economic benefits it provided.

Kaliningrad is still of great strategic importance to Moscow. It houses the Russian Baltic Fleet at the port of Baltiysk and is the country's only ice-free European port.

Uneven development​

During the Soviet period, agriculture was a key industry. The market for Kaliningrad's produce was largely dismantled with the collapse of the USSR, causing the economy to nosedive in the early 1990s.

Unemployment soared and poverty became very widespread, particularly in rural areas. Organised crime and drugs became increasingly problematic.

In a bid to tackle the region's problems, in 1996 the Russian authorities granted it special economic status and tax advantages intended to attract investors. The region's economy benefited substantially.

Kaliningrad underwent an unprecedented boom, and in 2007 a new $45m airport terminal was opened.

The region began to see increasing trade with the countries of the EU as well as increasing economic growth and rising industrial output.

However, the global financial crisis of 2008-9 affected the region badly, and by the beginning of 2010 unemployment had climbed to over 10% - considerably higher than the Russian average.

Kaliningrad-Russia.jpg


From link.

kaliningrad-oblast-federal-subject-of-russia-political-map-vector-id1311811678
From link.
 
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Richard White

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Well, to be honest, the US thought the War of 1812 would be a cakewalk as well.

One wild card might be Israel setting up an emergency humanitarian field hospital in western Ukraine. If it takes fire, either on purpose or errantly, from Russian forces, Israel is officially unaligned and not noted for understated responses.

Israel also has a clandestine nuclear program that may or may not exist. This could end in nuclear war with the US never having fired a shot.
 

lenaitch

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Israel also has a clandestine nuclear program that may or may not exist. This could end in nuclear war with the US never having fired a shot.
Perhaps one of the worst kept secrets on the planet. I wouldn't suggest that they would be that aggressive in response, but they would have somewhat greater tactical freedom as they are not a member of NATO. A smoldering Russian warship or two in the Black Sea perhaps.
 

Admiral Beez

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This is pretty incredible. The Prime Ministers of Slovenia. Poland and the Czech Republic traveled today to
Kyiv by train to meet with Zelensky. Prime Minister's visit to Kyiv | GOV.SI

This is akin to Chamberlain and Daladier flying into Warsaw in late September 1939 to strategize with Poland’s president Mościcki as the Germans and Soviet armies invade.
 

W. K. Lis

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"A total of 313 Canadians have been barred from the country (Russia), as Canada continues to slap sanctions on Russian officials and entities.

The list includes almost every single sitting member of Parliament — save for a handful, such as Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who has already been banned from Russia — including the leaders of every major party."

From link.

"Almost"? Who is not on the list, if not already on it?
 

W. K. Lis

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Is there any reason you felt the need to post this info on Kaliningrad? Is there talk of Poland or Lithuania starting to bomb it or make access difficult?
More likely as a base for Russia to bomb Poland or Lithuania from.

Kaliningrad would be one of the most militarised and closed parts of Russia.

Kaliningrad is still of great strategic importance to Moscow. It houses the Russian Baltic Fleet at the port of Baltiysk and is the country's only ice-free European port.
 

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