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Mark Feygin: Moscow provokes a situation where it makes it clear to everyone that only nuclear weapons possession guarantees sovereignty

14 May, 2024
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Mark Feygin: Moscow provokes a situation where it makes it clear to everyone that only nuclear weapons possession guarantees sovereignty

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By Mark Feygin

"Washington doesn't welcome Beijing's involvement as the main active player in regulating affairs in Ukraine. That's for sure. Washington wants to be the arbitrator-mediator itself to convince Moscow to make some concessions while simultaneously pushing Kyiv to negotiate. That's the plan.

But China's activity in this case is somewhat forced. And Europe, to some extent, is also guided by the same principle because, well, statements by Trump, they are alarming, and they alarm Europe to the same extent because, well, what does he say? He says that we won't defend Europe from aggression, as he openly stated. Of course, these words were interpreted differently, but still, for Europe, it's a signal because they remember Trump's tenure from 2016 to 2020 and are unhappy about it because he then expressed the same ideas: pay for your own security. This may not please Europe, but the idea goes further because there wasn't such a large-scale war then, and now there is. Therefore, the risks of such eccentric behaviour for Europe are high. That's why they don't treat it condescendingly. And this desire of Beijing, Paris, well, in the person of Paris and other European players for mutual coordination of interests, it's caused by a forced change in the situation, which may drastically change the map of Europe in November.

And from this point of view, economic cooperation there will definitely develop, it will deepen sufficiently. And these will be various spheres, but primarily technological, because China has a problem precisely in the technological sphere of cooperation with Washington. America is increasingly closing itself off from China in this sense. And secondly, it's assistance to China, given its potential, damn it, potential influence on the Kremlin, on Moscow, on Putin. Putin, by the way, is now going to Beijing, this visit has been announced. And following, among other things, Xi Jinping's visits to Europe.

I think China will attend the conference in Switzerland as an observer; they won't refuse to participate in this Swiss forum. And why? To assert their uniqueness. China is actively pushing for participation. I believe Xi Jinping discussed this with Macron, and they probably reached some agreements.

Considering the overall positive background, I think China will participate as an observer in the Swiss forum. Moscow may not like it very much, but in this case, it doesn't matter because Moscow completely rejects any forms of participation. But why? Because Moscow is being forced to settle things according to international law. And China, in its 12 principles, prioritizes a world based on the system of norms of international law, respect, sovereignty, internationally recognized borders, and so on.

Moscow completely denies this. They say, no, we don't like this. We want to base agreements on geopolitical realities, on red lines, on the right of force in the end. So we'll speak for them. In the Yalta or in the Novo-Yalta world.

Let's all gather together. The founding members of the UN, the members of the Permanent Security Union of the UN. And let's resolve everything. What international law?

Why do we need it? We are the source of this law. We created it when we established the UN. So now let's renegotiate it. Let's re-agree on it. That's Moscow's idea.

China's idea, as I see it, is to adhere to the old rules and traditions, which prefer that international law is a tool for regulation, a guarantor of international security. Let's proceed from generally recognized rules and principles because their breakdown guarantees nothing. For example, for China, it doesn't guarantee, in particular, one thing. A multitude of international legal documents regulates issues such as nuclear weapons and related security issues. For example, the Non-Proliferation Treaty and others.

This is a very painful issue for China. The fact that Moscow constantly resorts to nuclear rhetoric, deploys nuclear weapons in Belarus, conducts exercises now, and so on. For China, like no other country, this is very painful. Why? Because in Southeast Asia, as I've said many times, there is one country, alongside North Korea, possessing nuclear weapons — that's China itself.

North Korea also, but still incomparable potential, no one else has more. No one: not in Australia or New Zealand, not in Japan, not in Taiwan, not in South Korea. And who said that as a result of the breakdown of these international frameworks, for example, Taiwan, a technologically advanced country, won't want to possess nuclear weapons? Not to mention Japan, not to mention South Korea, Australia, and others. And this will fundamentally change the balance of power in Southeast Asia.

Why does China need this? But Moscow is doing this. It provokes a situation where it makes it clear to everyone that only nuclear weapons possession guarantees sovereignty, the guarantee of internationally recognized borders and their inviolability, and everything else is fiction.

This can be spun in any direction you want. China is unhappy about this. Beijing is definitely not happy about it. It doesn't smile at the prospect of having neighbours with nuclear weapons. This completely changes the balance of power within the Southeast Asian basin.

Why does Moscow need this? Because it wants to capture Ukraine and, through blackmail and pressure, neutralize the West on this issue. But China doesn't need this. And there are other questions related to this.

Because the longer the war lasts, the more difficult it is for China to ensure the flow of goods and economic interaction with Europe, as it's problematic to transport everything through the warring Eastern Europe. Creating any economic projects is problematic. Even with Belarus, which was supposed to be the focus but now seems to have weakened. Well, because you never know what will explode and where to turn. Especially when tactical nuclear weapons exercises are conducted on the territory of Belarus.

What logistical routes? Where? Who would invest from China even a penny to somehow use these territories? And why?

So, all this creates problems. And then they say, let's gear up for a protracted war. Well, wow. And how long? For a year, for five, for ten years. Well, however it turns out. But China doesn't like that either. On the other hand, China doesn't want Moscow to be defeated. In this case, Moscow is a dependent, a dependent element of the geopolitical structure, a sub-hegemon in the Eurasian space, but one that largely yields to China in terms of its influence. So it's advantageous for China.

And it's unknown what will come instead of Putin or Patrushev; someone else may come who will not be oriented towards the East but will again orient towards America, towards the West, and so on. It's absolutely not necessary to build democracy, just by flirting in an attempt to lift sanctions, get rid of the consequences of the war, and so on. But why does China need this? In the event of Moscow's defeat, this could happen.

And therefore, China is interested in Moscow quietly, smoothly descending downward. Losing in its economic, technological, industrial, scientific, and any other potential. Well, military too. This is beneficial for China. But slowly, without haste.

Without haste. In order for the fruit to fall into their hands at some point. In the form of the Russian Far East, Eastern Siberia, and so on, Transbaikalia and the like. That's roughly their strategy. The last question remains.

Can China really decisively influence Moscow? This question does not have a firm, unequivocal answer. On the one hand, yes, there is vassal dependence. Yes, economic dependence is very serious because it is now non-alternative. To a large extent, the vector of economic cooperation with the West is closed."

But to what extent does this economic dependence convert into political decisions that can be imposed by Beijing on Moscow, this question remains open for now."

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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