Putin is Mistaken to Favor China Over the United States (Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, Russia)
Is Putin’s Kremlin focused on the wrong adversary-competitor? For Russia’s Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, columnist Alexandr Golz writes that given Russia’s incredibly long border with China and Beijing’s growing wealth and skyrocketing military budget, Russia would be well-advised to keep a closer eye on China than on the United States or NATO.
For Russia’s Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, Alexandr Golz writes in small part:
Russian officials are terribly fond of talking about double standards. Those insidious Americans, they say, assess their own aggressions as legitimate defenses of national interest, and similar actions by other governments as violations of the international order. Here it is a good time to consider Putin’s article in the Moskovskiye Novosti on foreign policy. All his criticism in the article centered on the United States. This is a country that supposedly aspires to absolute military domination. But when it comes to China, it is quite the opposite. Putin refers to it in exclusively glowing terms. The most important issues are marvelous personal relationships and mutual trust between leaders (remember, this was precisely the basis of Comrade Stalin’s calculations during his games with Hitler). The central objective of Russia’s foreign policy, if one believes Putin, is to “catch some of China’s wind” in our sails.
At the same time, it is not at all clear what to do with Putin’s favorite quote from Bismarck – that nations are not ranked on the basis of policy intentions but capabilities. Because today, if one appraises capabilities, it is precisely the Chinese army that presents the greatest danger to our country.
Note that this logic applies just as much to Beijing as it does to Washington. However, for some reason, Vladimir Putin believes that evil plans are being hatched in the U.S. alone. In the meantime, China’s military has long ago ceased to be the impoverished, poorly trained force that was once the butt of jokes. Numbering less than two million service members, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) now has over 7,000 tanks, over 2,000 fighter aircraft and more than 200 warships. And the problem is not just quantity. China’s multiple rocket launchers have a range of up to 190 miles [300 kilometers], and they are superior to all similar systems in the U.S. or Russia. In addition, we should not forget China’s almost 500 nuclear weapons.
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