Prospects for Russia-China geopolitical cooperation.

By Gen.-Col. Leonid Ivashov, President of the Academy on Geopolitical Affairs

First Published at Strategic Culture Foundation Online Journal

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin paid a brief two-day visit to China on October 11-12. The event did not receive extensive coverage in the global media, though actually there was something special about it. The visit took place by the time when Mr. Putin had been officially approved as the main candidate for the presidential elections in 2012. When a likely leader travels to China prior to the U.S., experts usually see it as a gesture explaining what the future president’s foreign policy will be focusing on. Secondly, China and Russia had vetoed the UNSC resolution on Syria, provoking much criticism from the U.S. administration. This was the first precedent of the kind ever.

The U.S Vice President Joe Biden addressed the Russian pro-democratic community by saying that Putin should not be allowed to run for the presidency in 2012. But Moscow did not seem to heed the advice. Neither was Washington successful in trying to persuade Russia that the U.S. missile defense shield is not aimed at Russia but at the aliens. Differences on some other issues are growing, too. So, it is obvious that the ‘reset’ has failed to happen. Now, let us use the method of geopolitical analysis to shed some light on what`s really going on.

In September the U.S. Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta implied that China, India and Russia are a threat to the U.S. and the entire world. As we all remember, earlier the U.S. had told everyone that they were beginning the war on international terrorism, and then attacked Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and recently has been trying to invade Syria, Iran, and some other countries. In May, 2010, unveiling the country`s new national security strategy, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that America was unable to face the present-day challenges alone, and thus wanted to cooperate with China, Russia and India.

How come? You may tell me that despite all this, Americans are not crazy to launch a real war, at least now. But in the 21st century wars are not what they used to be. Nowadays, a war is more about geopolitics rather that military tactics. And here is the difference.

In geopolitics, the military is not a priority, the focus is made on information, shaping public opinion, as well as on foreign policy, economy, hirelings from private military corporations, e.t.c. Sometimes, the army is not used at all, or just when the operation enters the final stage. Remarkably, the present-day geopolitical operation appears to be centered more on concealing the real goals rather than approaching them. Thus, pretending to be concerned about the protection of the Albanian population in the Balkans, the U.S. ‘presented’ Europe with the Kosovo issue, which threw the region back in terms of its integration in the eurozone.

The geopolitical situation in the Middle East is even worse. Look at the so-called Arab Spring and you will see a strange role of the US in supporting the radical Islamist movements there. On doing so, Washington topples what have always considered as pro-American regimes meant to ensure stability in the region. Moreover, Turkey, not without the US approval, exchanges fire with Israel. The US develops the confrontation with Saudi Arabia and Iran, creating a kind of a coalition surrounding Iran in order to get ready for an attack. The reason remains practically the same as after the 9/11 tragedy but now they say they want to prevent an attack against Saudi Arabia, not the U.S. What for? I see it as an attempt to link the heavily unstable Middle East with war-torn Afghanistan and Pakistan. They want to add Turkey and the Caucasus to this ‘line’ so that this could result in a great war. Again, what`s the purpose? To remain the world`s leading country.

The U.S. is loosing its positions in the global economy, politics; the weakening dollar is giving way to other currencies (ruble, euro, yuan, rupee, and Latin American currencies). In addition to this, a gap is growing inside the U.S., too, with Anglo-Saxon, African-American and Latin American people living on their own, while all the wealth is controlled by oligarchs. This gap has been recently brought to light with the wave of the Occupy Wall Street protests all across the US, and in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and some Asian countries. In one of his latest books, prominent politician P. Bjukenen predicts the decline of the US by 2025. But there is harldy anyone in the country ready to accept this point of view.

In view of this, war appears to be the only way out for a country with hegemonic ambitions. But not at home. WW I and WW II showed the US the way out of the economic crisis and placed it among the world`s most powerful countries. And this could be a war against China, the major contender for the world leadership, and India and Europe- main economic rivals. Imagine: Iran is in war with Saudi Arabia, the US helps the Saudis and other allies from the Persian Gulf. Israel is lured into a conflict with its Arab neighbors, while Turkey exchanges fire with Israel. Palestinians and Hezbollah attack Israeli towns, Iraqis blow up oil pipelines and government buildings, Kurds advance further into Turkey and Iran. The Persian Gulf and the nearby zone are mined. Tel-Aviv is urged to use nukes. Though things might develop a bit differently, generally it will be the same. Oil supplies to Europe, China and India will be halted, while the US will start using its alternative deposits and the oil produced on the entire continent. Europe and China will face economic stagnation, which will be equally challenging for both, but particularly for Beijing. In this case, China will seek energy support from Russia, thus provoking anger from Europe. NATO troops will be dispatched to Russia in full compliance with The Status of Forces Agreement, signed in 2007. And here we are- another world war begins. When it is over, the US will be the gainer, again. And the post-war division of the world will serve primarily the interests of Washington.

Russia and China were probably guided by awareness of this potential catastrophe when they imposed a veto on the UNSC resolution on Syria. But this is not enough. Moscow and Beijing should develop a full-fledged long-term agreement on mutual energy and economic cooperation. The two countries see eye to eye on many issues, including the US plans to place its Third Site missiles in Europe, and also the further development of BRICS. Hopefully, this all was on the agenda of Mr. Putin`s visit to China. In his latest book, Russian outstanding politician and diplomat Yevgeny Primakov says: “We may say that Russia and China are using their power of deterrence to oppose those who are willing to use force without caring about the consequences”. Moscow demonstrated this during Mr. Putin`s visit to China, when the Syrian crisis was among other issues on the agenda.

The visit of the Russian Prime Minister to China and the signing of several agreements on energy and economic partnership can be described as measures to prevent a new wave of crisis. China and Russia should be aware of making only well weighted decisions in both political and military spheres, and demonstrate their readiness to defend their interests. Declaring the US and NATO a major threat to mankind would be the first step to make in this direction.

Leonid Ivashov – President of the Academy on Geopolitical Affairs, general-colonel

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