A never-ending Ukraine war spells trouble for President Xi | World News

New Delhi: Failure of President Vladimir Putin to capture Kyiv after Red Army’s 40-day long offensive into Ukraine is going to have domestic ramifications for not only the Russian strongman but also his “no limit” friend Chinese President Xi Jinping.

An expected short and decisive Russian victory has now turned into a quagmire for the Z Army with no sign of the war ending or victory for Moscow soon. This has not only upset the grand plans of President Putin but also upset the applecart of fellow life-long President Xi Jinping.

Just as a swift Russian victory in Ukraine would have worked in favour of China and the Communist ideology, a dragging bitter military contest with no clearcut war objective achieved must have upset the strongman in Beijing. The reasons are:

First, China is world’s foremost trader and a long war in Ukraine has upset the entire global trade with widespread ramifications—from shipping, land transport, aviation, ports to insurance to re-insurance.

Second, China has a weak energy security architecture and like India is dependent on imported hydrocarbons to fuel its economy. The rise in oil prices due to war and resultant global uncertainty will hit the Chinese economy hard. US, on the other hand, is not dependent to any other country for global energy needs and will be the long-term beneficiary of Ukraine war with NATO consolidation and sale of American hardware to European states.

Third, the fight put up by Ukraine with tactical and technological support of NATO will make China think twice over invading Taiwan. The message from Ukraine is clear. There will be an all-out military effort by US and its allies to repel any PLA invasion of Taiwan.

Fourth, the single biggest lesson of the Ukraine war till now is that the Russian hardware is dated in technology and is no match of western stand-off weapons like Stinger and Javelin shoulder fired missiles, armed drones and airborne surveillance. With China like India having Russian origin or Russian design platforms, Beijing must be concerned about its war making capabilities like India is. In fact, the joke going round the South Block corridors after the Ukraine offensive is that Russia giving weapons to Pakistan is not a bad idea given their rate of return.

Fifth, when President Xi Jinping took over the reins of China in 2012, in his first secret speech to his fellow communists he asked them to analyze the fall and break-up of Soviet Union and draw lessons from it. On the eve of Beijing winter Olympics this year, President Xi swore to friendship without limits with visiting Russian President Putin before he embarked on the disastrous Ukraine venture., A losing Russia is not good for communist autocrat regimes and has the potential to destabilize China itself.

While it is evident that the more the war drags on, it will make President Putin politically vulnerable by the day and more dependent on China for economic and military support. Increasing dependence of Russia on China will make life more difficult for New Delhi but a loss of face of Putin in Ukraine could raise questions on the life-long term of President Xi. Both President Putin and President Xi are life-long leaders till 2035 with the latter seeking third term as general secretary of Communist Party of China (CPC) later this fall.

The Russian autocrat is now more vulnerable to internal disturbances as the economy will take a massive hit due to war spending and public morale will plummet due to the inability of the Red Army to change the regime in Kyiv. In case the Ukraine war plays out in reverse and a regime change in Moscow takes place with a pro-west leader coming to power, then the tables will turn on China.

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