Using various sources following is an overview and opinions about the current situation in Ukraine which includes a section called “the China card” It is known that Russian troops have been massing near the Ukrainian border for weeks. With negotiations not looking good. Whereby US carriers are also apparently now positioned to deter China if something happens in Ukraine. We already alluded to this threesome back in March of last year in reference to Taiwan.

Then more recently on 4 January this year, it was reported that American policymakers have also begun focusing on a potential conflict in Taiwan, one that is coming to a boil more slowly. But American statesmen ought to understand: These events can’t be viewed in isolation; they are connected and part of a larger political competition for Eurasia.

Although separated by geography, Ukraine and Taiwan occupy similar positions in the Russian and Chinese strategic experience and historical imagination. Capturing each is essential to all other strategic objectives. For Russia, taking Ukraine would secure its hold on the Black Sea and open other pressure points against vulnerable NATO members Romania and Bulgaria. For the Chinese Communist Party, seizing Taiwan would allow the country to break out of the First Island Chain and conduct offensive operations against Japan, the Philippines, and even U.S. territories in the Central Pacific.

Seven years of warfare have given the Ukrainian military valuable combat experience. Ukrainian society, even in the east, is increasingly hostile to Russia. The Ukrainian public seems willing to accept casualties. While Russia may be able to strike deep into Ukrainian territory and pressure Kyiv from the north as it penetrates south, a Ukrainian political collapse is unlikely. And expect an insurgency against Russian occupation. Ukraine’s willingness and ability to fight hard, no less than NATO’s potential intervention, helps deter Russian action.

By contrast, Taiwan is small and densely populated. Its military isn’t equipped to sustain air and sea control around the island, a prerequisite for defending against amphibious invasion. And it is highly likely that the Communist Party has positioned intelligence assets on Taiwan ready to sow discord throughout Taiwanese society and disrupt civilian communications. The question for the People’s Liberation Army is less whether it can take Taiwan, but whether it can succeed before a potential American and allied coalition can respond.

With China and Russia in strategic cooperation, this is a very dangerous situation. The margin of force between potential enemies in the Western Pacific is far thinner than in Eastern Europe, given China’s increasingly capable military. Russia wouldn’t have to deploy major ground or naval units to the Asia-Pacific, nor time its offensives with China’s. The Russian Pacific Fleet has enough submarines to bog down Japanese and U.S. units needed to defend Taiwan in shielding the Japanese home islands. That would make China’s mission much more likely to succeed.

The Russians fear that Ukraine will succeed in securing membership of the NATO anti-Russian military alliance. It’s unlikely to achieve that because NATO won’t welcome any additional risk of precipitating a nuclear war between the West and Russia. But NATO is building Ukraine’s armed forces with training with modern weaponry such as drones and anti-tank missiles.

This has been magnifying Russian fears, which in turn is hardening Moscow’s language of hostility and demand for concrete commitments from NATO not to increase its military ties with Ukraine.

The threat to punish Russia by refusing to allow operation of its Nord Stream 2 the sub-Baltic pipeline is an empty one as the new government in Berlin is already threatening to do that anyway. Which is more likely to have the opposite effect of encouraging Moscow to invade Ukraine to punish Germany. In any case, how can Europe risk a tit-for-tat conflict over energy resources, given that it depends on Russia for 40 percent of its natural gas supplies?

As indicated in the conclusion if Russia does decide to invade, both sides are likely to pay a high price.

Knowing it would soon become a major topic on 5 December 2021 we posted a major piece among others detailing the history of Ukraine. The Biden administration is framing Russian escalation in Ukraine as almost a foregone conclusion whereby Secretary of State Antony Blinken, today at the time of writing is meeting his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Geneva who contended in a speech Thursday from Berlin that Putin’s intentions are clear: “He’s laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation.”

The Biden administration is weighing various options, including providing more arms to Ukraine to resist a Russian occupation, to try to raise the costs for Russian President Vladimir Putin should he decide to invade the country.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Europe this week in an urgent effort to defuse tensions over Ukraine, after weeks of strained negotiations resulting in an impasse.

“We’re now at a stage where Russia could at any point want an attack in Ukraine,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “What Secretary Blinken is going to do is highlight very clearly there is a diplomatic path forward.”

Blinken will first meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, before concluding his trip in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Previous talks with the Kremlin ended inconclusively, with Russian officials dismissing the negotiations as a “dead end.” In recent days, Moscow has deployed more troops to Belarus and evacuated its embassy staff from Ukraine, an ominous move that could be a ruse – or signal a worrying future. 

While popular enthusiasm over the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 has waned, Putin’s popularity remains tied to his success in foreign policy.

To shore up support, Putin increasingly peddles anti-Western conspiracy theories. These repeat charges that the West is poised to undermine Russia’s sovereignty – by supporting the protestbrainwashing young people, and threatening national security.

In addition to threats against alleged foreign agents and extremists at home, Putin deployed his military in neighboring countries, blaming Western aggression. He has amassed troops on the Ukrainian border and led Collective Security Treaty Organization troops in a mission to Kazakhstan to fight alleged foreign meddling.

These military actions hark back to Soviet-era claims to a buffer zone around Russia’s border. In contemporary terms, military threats by Russia reveal conflicts and weaknesses within NATO and hinder opportunities for democratic reform in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and other post-Soviet states. At home, the Kremlin’s decision to increase confrontation and repression illustrates the consolidation of Russia’s authoritarian system.

The reality about Ukraine as it is today

We pointed out that the Soviets had their own James Bonds early on. In The Shield and the Sword, a title is drawn from the KGB’s service emblem below, secret agent Belov is pitched into action against the Nazis. By the time of his fourth film appearance, he was the poster boy of Soviet postwar espionage in the minds of millions, including that of the sixteen-year-old Vladimir Putin, who went straight from the cinema to volunteer his services to the KGB.

Before the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, Western scholars of the Soviet Union ignored and downplayed the nationality question in the Soviet Union and often used ‘Russia’ and the ‘USSR’ interchangeably. Western Sovietologists have experienced two crises in the last three decades.

The first crisis was brought about by the disintegration of the USSR, which they never predicted would happen. The majority of Sovietologists had focused on Russia and Kremlinology and had ignored the non-Russian nations. Left-wing scholars believed Soviet propaganda the nationality ques­tion had been resolved because Leftists shared the Marxist inclination to view nationalism as a transitory phenomenon. Meanwhile, American liberals generally looked askance at nationalist issues and causes. At the same time, Conservatives, by and large, tended to view the USSR as a massive, threatening, undifferentiated whole.

Western Sovietology was influenced by Russian emigre historians of Russia and historians who adopted Russian nationalist frameworks which airbrushed Ukraine from history. Support for the indivisibility of the Russian Empire among Russian historians meant not only did the Russian emigre academics pay little heed to the non-Russians, but some vehemently objected against attempts to study them.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the broadening of Sovietology to researching the non-Russians and nationality problems in the USSR was primarily a North American phenomenon.

The second crisis for Western scholars of post-Soviet Eurasia was brought about by the 2014 crisis, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war. This is felt in scholarly writing on the 2014 crisis, which often downplays the influ­ence of nationalism in Putin’s Russia or blames the West. As Myroslav Shkandrij (2016) writes, ‘nationalism’ is the most abused term in the Russian-Ukrainian war. A rela­tively small number of scholars and journalists have analyzed nationalism in Putin’s regime and have understood how this influences the Kremlin’s policies towards Ukraine.

Most scholarly writing has studied nationalism in Russia in three ways. The first is to argue ideology is unimportant to Putin’s regime because it draws on nationalism instrumentally, for example, during elections and historical anniversaries. The second is to downplay nationalism in Russia to portray Putin’s government in a more favorable light and to disprove the Russian president is a nationalist. The third argues that excellent power nationalism defines Putin’s government, especially how Russia relates to Ukraine and Ukrainians. Irrespective of whether Putin is an instrumental or a committed nationalist, Russian policies have had important-Ukrainian relations. This is surprising because, as Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy (2015, pp.76) write, ‘History for Putin is very personal and immediate as well as a source of material for his political use.’ Putin did not ‘grow up, go to school, live or work in the same cultural, economic, political, and historical environment as Western leaders’ (Hill and Gaddy 2015, p.278). Andrei Solda­tov and Irina Borogan (2019, p.218) add that Putin had good tactical skills, ‘but strategically, he lived in the 19th century’ were descendants of White Russian emigres were ‘stuck in the memories of the glorious past.’

Meanwhile, realists have focused on NATO and EU enlargement and democracy promotion as causes of the 2014 crisis. At the heart of their argument is their belief that Ukraine is part of Russia’s sphere of influence, which, because the West intervened, led to the 2014 crisis.

These approaches ignore three critical junctures in Putin’s regime; in 2005-2008, during the first critical juncture, ‘it is possible to speak of the emergence of a state-sponsored form of civilizational nationalism’ in Russia (Linde 2016, p.606; Verkhovskii and Pain 2012).

In 2011-2013, during the second critical juncture, and since there has been a transformation and intensification of nationalism, President Putin embarked on the gathering of Russia  lands.’ In 2011-2012, the image of Ukraine as an ‘anti-Russian project’ emerged as a myth that Putin (2021) repeatedly returned to in the following decade. Andrei Zubov believes that it was during this period when the Soviet framework of separate but close Russians and Ukrainians was replaced by the Tsarist and White Russian emigre view of an All-Russian nation (Триединый русский народ); that is, Ukrainians are one of three branches of the ‘Russian* people.

It was not coincidental that the 2014 crisis and Russian military aggression against Ukraine occurred during Russia’s re-Stabilisation. In 2012-2021, the number of Russians who favored Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (who used charm) doubled. This whereby the number of Ukrainians with a positive view of Stalin continued to decline.

The first two junctures and ‘gathering of Russian lands’ had a deadly impact upon Ukraine and directly led to the 2014 crisis and ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war. The UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) estimated that in 2014-2021 there had been high casualties among both civilians and the Ukrainian military.

A third critical juncture took place in 2020 when Russian constitutional changes extended Putin’s term in office until 2026. This introduced a mod­ified version of Orthodoxy-Auto­cracy-Nationality, drawn up in 1833 under Emperor Nicholas I, where Sarov’s triad is reused in official Russian nar­ratives in a revitalized continuous manner.

A third critical juncture took place in 2020 when Russian constitutional changes extended Putin’s term in office until 2026. This introduced a mod­ified version of Orthodoxy-Auto­cracy-Nationality, drawn up in 1833 under Emperor Nicholas I, where Sarov’s triad is reused in official Russian nar­ratives in a revitalized continuous manner.

Autocracy is self-evident in Russia’s ‘con­solidated authoritarian regime,’ and the perceived duty by the Russian state to inculcate ‘patriotic’ (i.e., nationalistic) education in children, promote the quasi-religious cult of the Great Patriotic War and exalt Russia as a great power and heir to the Soviet Union. Nationality is centered on the Russian language as the cornerstone of the ‘state forming people’ of the Russian Federation, the Russkii Mir.

Taken together, the three critical junctures had profound implications for Russian-Ukrainian relations, led to the Russian-Ukrainian war, and will make it very difficult to achieve a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Although overall Russian interest in Ukrainian issues has been declining since 2014, Russians give high support for irredentism when asked questions on Ukraine. Since 2014, there has been a constant level of Russian support for Crimea’s annexation. Russia’s Crimea occupation brought massive losses to the Ukrainian economy. Little wonder, only a small percentage of Ukrainians accept Russian control over Crimea while the majority support Crimea as an autonomous republic or as a Crimean Tatar independent republic within Ukraine.

Russian mercenaries who participated in the fighting witnessed the reality of Russia’s military involvement on the ground. ‘Former fascist’ and now ‘Russian orthodox monarchist’ Anton Raevskiy(Russian: И́горь Ива́нович Стрелко́в), who was recruited to fight in the Donbas by the Russian All-Military Union, a White emigre organization established in 1924, revealed: I can say with absolute certainty that all of the mid-and high-level commanders – from the battalion to the brigades – were Russian advisers. All of the military equipment we had, all of the weapons: All from Russia.

A Russian army veteran and former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer led a group of militants into Ukraine where he participated in the Siege of Sloviansk. During the battle, he increased his influence and ultimately became the de-facto military commander of all separatist forces in the Donbas region, which was confirmed by Donetsk People’s Republic prime minister Alexander Borodai who appointed him as official Defense Minister. He was also involved with the downing of the civil Flight MH17.

This can only be explained by many Russians buying into traditional Russian nationalist myths and stereotypes of Ukraine and Ukrainians propagated by Putin’s regime. Russia’s schizophrenia towards Ukraine, seeing it both as a ‘fraternal brother’ and a mortal enemy, was seen in Spring 2021 when Russia undertook a massive military exercise on its border with south-eastern Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Mariia Zakharova, and Deputy Chief of Stall Dmitry Kozak threatened Ukraine with destruction, ceasing to exist and unforeseen and irreversible consequences for Ukrainian statehood, Kozak warned a war with Russia would be the beginning of the end of Ukraine.

Russian lawmakers have scheduled a hearing next week on whether to recognize the independence of two pro-Russian separatist regions of Ukraine, Russia’s parliament speaker said Friday as pro-Kremlin lawmakers suggested the move would trigger full-scale war between Moscow and Kyiv.

Russia’s Communist Party submitted a resolution this week calling on President Vladimir Putin to formally recognize the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR).

Ukraine has been at war with the pro-Russian breakaway regions known collectively as the Donbas since 2014 when Moscow also annexed Crimea.

Plus the China card

A three-day exercise of China, Iran, and Russia, in strategically key Gulf of Oman, aimed to showcase capability to ‘jointly safeguard maritime security, Beijing says Drills came at a time of rising tensions with the US for all three, but economic and geopolitical concerns may have played a bigger role, says expert…

Britain warned Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday that its allies would stand together.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will brief his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Moscow’s talks with NATO when he travels to Beijing next month, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.


Today, the top U.S. and Russian diplomats made no breakthrough at talks on Ukraine but agreed to keep talking. And while some are suggesting that Putin may emphasize the unity of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, he cares most about preventing NATO expansion in Ukraine.

This harks back to the tensest point in U.S.-Russia relations since the Cold War ended three decades ago. Neither are things the same as in 2014 when Putin launched the Donbas War. Since 2014, the strengthening of national identity has improved force cohesion.

China in turn is buying over US$400 billion of gas from Russia, brought in through new pipelines. The agreement didn’t go forward for years because the two sides were haggling over the price. Then it became a strategic move.

China started feeling that the American navy could cut off its maritime routes, so the Russian supply lines became strategically very important. This gas deal, of course, works both ways. It is vital for Russia, too, especially if the Russian-European pipeline Nord Stream 2 doesn’t come to full fruition because of the growing attrition in Europe.

This month, Russia “regained control” over Kazakhstan, which was improving ties with the US. Therefore, it solved a problem for Beijing, worried that Kazakhstan could become a base for destabilization in Xinjiang.

On the other hand, Beijing may be watching how the situation in Ukraine is playing out. If the US shows weakness there, Beijing might get the message that America is not willing to draw a line with Russia and maybe not even with China. 

On the other hand, if the US or the West gets bogged down in a conflict in Ukraine, then Beijing may think that Washington is distracted from the Asian front.

On a visit to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv on Wednesday, Blinken accused Russia of planning to reinforce the more than 100,000 troops it has deployed along the Ukrainian border and suggested that number could double “on relatively short order”.

And the latest comes from Britain today accused the Kremlin of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, and said Russian intelligence officers had been in contact with a number of former Ukrainian politicians as part of plans for an invasion.

In central Moscow, some think that the threat has been exaggerated by the West.

“Every year, according to them, Russia plans to invade Ukraine,” said 24-year-old Andrei.

“Meanwhile, we all sit here and listen to the news with eyes wide open and think: ‘Really? Again? Weren’t we supposed to invade last year?

After detailing what Blinken viewed as the long history of Russian deceit and broken promises, he said it sometimes seemed like Russia wanted to return to the days of the Cold War.

“We hope not,” he said. “But if [Vladimir Putin] chooses to do so, he’ll be met with the same determination.

Yet military buildup in Belarus also stokes fears for NATO members Lithuania and Poland, as joint military exercises are also planned for Belarus’s western borders. These worries were expressed on January 19 by the Lithuanian Minister of Defense Arvydas Anušauskas, who said the troops “pose a direct threat.”

Current surveillance tools make it impossible for a modern army to stage a significant logistical operation without alerting the global community. For example, when Russia announced the joint exercises on the territory of its staunch ally Belarus this month,  an open-source investigative outlet that filled in the gaps left by a lack of clarity from Moscow, revealing credible estimates that some 8,000 to 15,000 troops were involved and placing the West further on edge. “Many soldiers and their relatives are writing in social media that they’re being sent to Belarus for training,” Kirill Mikhailov, a CIT analyst, told Current Time on January 19. “The fact that those forces will now be added is a pretty serious sign.”

But the most significant shift is in weaponry the previous few years, followed by still more anti-aircraft missiles during the recent weeks by countries like Spain, France, the United Kingdom, and of course, the U.S.

Hence the toll on the invaders would be high, and most of all, the war would only be the beginning. After ‘victory,’ Putin’s Russian would have to occupy a country of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), with 41.3 million.

It also might expend a great deal of Russian youth’s left, so let’s hope 24-year-old Andrei is right.

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