With some evidence surfacing that suggests Russian President Vladimir Putin is finally following through with his latest promise to withdraw troops from Russia’s border with Ukraine, the Ukrainian Crisis may be easing for the International Community. Clearly, the internal strife, which was inspired by Russian aggression/manipulation, lingers and must be addressed by the Ukrainian People. That said, escalating tensions between China and its neighbors, as well as the US, could be easing with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge to resolve territorial disputes, even though his statement was made alongside a warning offered to neighbors that try to strengthen military ties in order to counter Chinese power.
At the very least, these latest developments could be a recommitment by both Russia and China to cooperate as members of the International Community, instead of using their size to aggressively pursue their interests. All this news, of course, comes on the heels of a 400 billion dollar natural gas deal between Russia and China. The optimist would say the two friendly nations decided together that it was in both their interests to restore calm to their hemisphere by working within the context of the International Community. The cautious would, however, look to the future.
Although China and Russia may be playing nice in the immediate future, they may well be playing a long game that involves quietly building their own economic, political, and military community in order to undermine the overall American and Western dominated International Community. By cooperating with the Western-lead International Community, these two global powers can slowly expand their spheres of influence and polarize the globe by cultivating relationships with rogue states like North Korea, Syria, and Iran, along with other countries that have interests being neglected by the West as they reap the benefits being a member of the International Community.
If this is the case, such a shift in global power would surely take a great deal of time, thus the US and the rest of the West would have to be complacent in order to prevent instability that would surely hurt China and Russia more than the West. Obviously, this is not a new fear of the West, but China and Russia’s recent attempts to prematurely exert their wills in such a domineering fashion have created backlash. As such, both nations have learned the exercise of power can cost power, especially when big nations like India and blocks of nations like the UN can be used to counter balance the exercise of a power grab.
Accordingly, cooperation with China and Russia moving forward must be based on mutual interests, i.e. China and Russia can only be expected to pursue their interests, and not blind trust, whether or not these nations are sincere in their efforts to rebuild partnerships. Trust is like an intricate glass figurine; built patiently, yet easily broken. Unlike when Russia invaded Georgia, the fact that Crimea is now a part of Russia and not Ukraine will likely serve as a reminder of Russia’s true intensions when it comes to forming partnerships with the former Soviet power while India now has the opportunity to make itself the alternative to China.
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