By Ray McGovern
Scott Ritter and I continued our “Lincoln-Douglas-debate” routine today on The Critical Hour, with a spirited discussion of the objectives and behavior of Russia, China, and the U.S. on the Ukraine imbroglio. A remarkable China-Russia “Joint Statement”, published today with President Putin in Beijing for the Olympics, provided an excellent peg.
In my view, Putin is flying home with a gold medal. It has become increasingly difficult to ignore the new strategic reality that the erstwhile U.S.-Russia-China triangle has evolved from an equilateral triangle, so to speak, into an isosceles one with the U.S. getting the short end.
Two Against One
Today’s rhetoric/choreography was aimed at showing the “unprecedented” (Putin) closeness of today’s Sino-Russian strategic partnership, and brought to mind the publicity given to the highly scripted first minute of the Putin-Xi virtual summit on Dec. 15. (See China Gives Oomph to Russia’s Nyet-on-NATO: https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2022/01/31/china-gives-oomph-to-russias-nyet-on-nato/ .)
In December President Xi told Putin that “in its closeness and effectiveness, this relationship even exceeds an alliance.” ( See: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/15/world/asia/china-russia-summit-xi-putin.html .)
Today’s Joint Statement stated that the two sides:
“reaffirm that the new inter-state relations between Russia and China are superior to political and military alliances of the Cold War era. Friendship between the two states has no limits, there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.”
Putting these remarks into some specific context, I called to attention the statement that “the Russian side reaffirms its support for the One-China principle … and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan” and that “the two sides oppose further enlargement of NATO”.
Of equal importance is section that states:
“The sides call on the United States to respond positively to the Russian initiative, and abandon its plans to deploy intermediate-range and shorter-range ground based missiles in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe.”
Actually, the U.S. “non-paper” responding to Russia on this key issue is “positive”, as can be seen in the text of the “non-paper”, which was leaked to Spain’s El Pais. ( See “US Makes Putin Offer He Can Hardly Refuse: https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2022/02/02/us-makes-putin-offer-he-can-hardly-refuse/ .)
Scott Ritter took issue with many of my observations — “vociferously”. He sees a very real risk of war, since Russia has clear military advantage; he believes Putin is not “bluffing” with all those troops deployed near Ukraine.