China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping is getting together in Moscow with Russian thugocrat Vladimir Putin next week for their first sitdown since they declared a “no limits” partnership weeks before Moscow launched its war to conquer Ukraine.
In other words, all the talk about how US support of Ukraine somehow weakens us against China ignores the fact the Beijing is backing Moscow. Facing down Putin is facing down Xi as well.
It was always obvious that Putin — at Xi’s request — held off the invasion until the Beijing Olympics wrapped on Feb. 20 last year.
On Feb. 21, Russia sent more “peacekeepers” into occupied Luhansk and Donetsk; on Feb. 24, its forces crossed into free Ukraine.
And the “no limits” agreement included massive increases in China’s energy imports from Russia — replacing in advance the markets that sanctions would soon lose for Putin.
China’s state media echo the Kremlin line on the “special military operation.”
Beijing has so far avoided sending lethal-weapons aid to Moscow, but it’s been generous with other help.
The two leaders share a determination to upend the world order that centers on America and Europe and extends to Australia and Japan.
Putin means to restore the Russian empire of the czars and the commissars; Xi intends to become the world’s dominant power and absolute suzerain of east Asia, Taiwan and the South China Sea included.
Both goals require breaking the alliance of the greater West, which may indeed fracture if Ukraine falls.
Xi wants Putin to win.
Next week’s meetings are plainly about what China will do to help achieve that while preserving its guise of neutrality.
(If Xi sits down with Ukraine’s Volodomyr Zelensky afterward, it’ll only be to make Xi look good and perhaps also intimidate Zelensky. China’s call last month for a cease-fire and Ukraine-Russia peace talks are more of the same.)
Ukraine surprised the world by stopping the invasion cold a year ago.
Putin has shifted to a longer-term strategy, figuring he’ll exhaust the West’s will to support his immediate victim and finish the job later on.
Sadly, President Joe Biden’s approach has been to give Ukraine just enough help to keep fighting — not the weapons Zelensky says he needs to actually win.
Yet outright defeating Moscow’s invasion is the best way to set both “no limits” partners back, proving the West isn’t as decadent and weak-willed as they’d thought.
In advance of the Putin-Xi love-in, Poland and Slovakia have agreed to give Kyiv Soviet-era MiG-29 jet fighters.
The rest of the West ought to greet the BFFs’ sitdown with equally dramatic new support for Ukraine.
This is not an either/or proposition.
Helping Ukraine against Russia helps us against the larger threat of China.
Face up to the fact of the “no limits” alliance, and stop enabling China’s games.