Dr. Fatima Er-Rafia
06 Dec 2017

China at odds with Russia over Ukraine?

Credit : Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

China at odds with Russia in Ukraine? Not at all. On the contrary! China is not competing with Russia over Ukraine. They are working in synergy in Ukraine. Why synergy? Because the Dragon and the Bear’s cultural values are anchored on the ‘enlightened despotism’ (some sort of authoritarianism) of both the Tsars and the Chinese Emperors.

China is helping Russia to keep Ukraine in its zone of influence. The Middle Kingdom is providing a strategic service to Russia, especially at this time of financial scarcity in terms of oil revenues. In return, China seeks Russian support for its foreign policy in Asia.

Russia’s strategic goal is to pull Ukraine as a whole from European influence. To achieve this goal, Russia encourages China to invest in Ukraine. Putin wants to show Ukrainians that they can develop and grow without Europeans, by being on the side of Russia and China.

With its investments, China becomes friends with everyone in Ukraine (i.e., pro-Russians and pro-Europeans). It can then advise both parties ‘wisely’ to avoid an escalation of the situation while keeping in mind that it needs stability in the region for its own geoeconomic goals (i.e., the New Silk Road). And, since China is a member of the UN Security Council, China can also be a part of the solution to the Ukrainian issue, showing the world once again that China is a key player in Eurasia and beyond.

Ukraine can be considered as the Tibet of Russia, a Tibet that gained its independence during Russia’s moment of weakness; an independence that was experienced as a trauma by Russia, heir to the Empire, and by pro-Russia Ukrainians.

For the United States, the world is still divided according to Yalta’s vision of the post-war world order that created the bipolar world reorganization between the Capitalist Western Bloc following the US and the Communist Eastern Bloc following the Soviet Union. Ukraine is considered an area of Russian influence. It is certain that there will be apparent conflicts between those who are pro/against-China, between those who are pro/against-Russia, between those who are pro/against-Europe. These conflicts will be fueled by media wars that will be fueled, in turn, by social media. At the strategic level of powers like China, Russia, and the United States, there is a mutual respect of the zones of influence that will ensure that there will never be an open conflict between them about Ukraine; everyone knows that Ukraine has always been a dependency of Tsarist and Soviet Russia. No discussion.

And the European Union in all this? It is noteworthy to observe that Europeans have never made massive investments in Ukraine, but they made promises. It is all talk and no concrete action. For the EU, the case of Ukraine is a sad case that failed after gaining independence because Ukraine was in a better economic position before independence than it is today. Indeed, after the independence, Ukrainian economy had a lost decade; then, it started growing until the Great Recession. But after the 2008-2009 Ukrainian financial crisis, Ukraine recovered slowly during the following three years to know later on a significant downturn that is still going on. Finally, Ukraine is also a living reminder of the cases of Catalonia and Scotland, among others. And with the current crisis in Catalonia, the EU is walking on eggshells.

 

A piece written by Nolan Peterson includes my view:

As China Invests in Ukraine, Russia Stands to Gain

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