Despite delusions of grandeur on the part of President Putin, Russia is no longer a superpower.
Putin imagines a restoration of the glorious The Soviet Union when it spanned Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. Back then, it included multiple national republics including Ukraine.
It was a superpower to be feared. In the Sixties part of my job for Alberta Government Telephones, now TELUS, was to maintain a communications link between a string of radar stations in Canada’s North to a command centre in Colorado. It was called the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) and built in response to the threat of a potential Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) attack from the Soviet Union.
Russia, while not as powerful as The Soviet Union, still represents a threat to world order. Canada is nervously looking over the North Pole at Putin’s erratic adventures in Ukraine. Just how crazy is he? Could he have designs in the arctic?
However, the appetite for Russian arctic conquests will likely be dampened by the deaths of Russian soldiers in Ukraine. There’s nothing like boys coming home in body bags to put you off further invasions. I think arctic dreams are far from Putin’s troubled mind.
Putin has deeper worries as the Russian economy tanks. He risks becoming a client state of China.
In a recent video meeting between President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping, they discussed what to do with the problem of Putin. Russia’s antics are a distraction from the superpowers’ agenda to divide up the world; the U.S. with its hegemonic control through globalization and China through its Belt and Road infrastructure program to bring the resources of the world to China.
Taiwan continues to be a contentious issue between the U.S. and China. Biden calls China’s actions in the Taiwan Strait coercive and provocative. China regards the island state as theirs.
The U.S. has sent weapons worth more than $2 billion to Ukrainians to fight the Russian invasion, including Stinger anti-aircraft systems and Javelin light anti-armor weapons.
Russia has asked China for weapons to bolster the Kremlin’s attack on Ukraine.
The transformation of Russia as a client state of China began in 2014, when Russian President Vladimir Putin travelled to Beijing after the annexation of Crimea.
Following the annexation and with sanctions from the West, there was a $400 billion deal to supply gas to China. In 2017, Chinese banks provided US$12-billion in funding for a liquefied natural gas project on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula.
With further sanctions from the West over Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine, Russia is more dependent on China. Helena Legarda, a lead analyst at the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies, says:
“With the West and many allies and partners around the globe united in sanctioning Russia, the country’s economy is bound to take a severe hit, and only a few countries will be willing and able to help Russia mitigate this. China’s economic support will be key.”
It looks like a long war in Ukraine that can only be financed by the U.S. and China. The Ukraine will become a battle field in which China and the U.S. fight a proxy war.