Ukraine, China, and the Shadow of the ’90s

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Several days ago the U.S.-China Perception Monitor published an essay in both English and Chinese by Hu Wei, a prominent think tanker in Shanghai. It argues that the war in Ukraine is bound to go poorly for Russia and thus China must moderate its support for Putin’s failing regime lest the post-Putin world turn against the PRC.

This essay has gotten a lot of play in China hand circles. People are eager for any news that might hasten Russian defeat. A decision by Beijing to retreat from a growing partnership with Moscow would certainly slow Putin’s cause. But there is no evidence this essay will have any such effect:  this week the Chinese have agreed to ship supplies and weapons Russia, Hu Wei’s essay was scrubbed from the Chinese internet shortly after it went up, and as of today, the U.S.-China Perception Monitor is now censored in China. The highest circle of decision making in Beijing clearly does not fear events will unfold as Hu predicts.

In my mind, this essay is less interesting for what it says about Chinese intentions towards Russia and Ukraine than what it says about Chinese perceptions of the United States. If Hu has any moral objections to Putin’s war in Ukraine, he does not state them. His argument is stated purely in terms of China’s national interests. Here is the disaster Hu believes will unfold if the Chinese don’t pressure Putin to the negotiating table before his political position collapses:

[If Putin falls or is dragged into a multiyear insurgency] the United States would regain leadership in the Western world… the US and Europe would form a closer community of shared future, and American leadership in the Western world will rebound.

The “Iron Curtain” would fall again not only from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, but also to the final confrontation between the Western-dominated camp and its competitors. The West will draw the line between democracies and authoritarian states, defining the divide with Russia as a struggle between democracy and dictatorship… It will be a life-and-death battle between those for and against Western democracy. The unity of the Western world under the Iron Curtain will have a siphon effect on other countries: the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy will be consolidated, and other countries like Japan will stick even closer to the U.S., which will form an unprecedentedly broad democratic united front.

The power of the West will grow significantly, NATO will continue to expand, and U.S. influence in the non-Western world will increase. After the Russo-Ukrainian War, no matter how Russia achieves its political transformation, it will greatly weaken the anti-Western forces in the world. The scene after the 1991 Soviet and Eastern upheavals may repeat itself: theories on “the end of ideology” may reappear, the resurgence of the third wave of democratization will gain momentum, and more third world countries will embrace the West. The West will possess more “hegemony” both in terms of military power and in terms of values and institutions, its hard power and soft power will reach new heights.

 China will become more isolated under the established framework. For the above reasons, if China does not take proactive measures to respond, it will encounter further containment from the US and the West. Once Putin falls, the U.S. will no longer face two strategic competitors but only have to lock China in strategic containment. Europe will further cut itself off from China; Japan will become the anti-China vanguard; South Korea will further fall to the U.S.; Taiwan will join the anti-China chorus, and the rest of the world will have to choose sides under herd mentality. China will not only be militarily encircled by the U.S., NATO, the QUAD, and AUKUS, but also be challenged by Western values and systems.1

1

Hu Wei, “Possible Outcomes of the Russo-Ukrainian War and China’s Choice,” trans. Liu Jiaqi, U.S. China Perception Monitor (12 March 2022).

There are many interesting things in this passage. The phrase “community of shared future” (命运共同体), sometimes also translated as “community of common destiny,” is how Xi Jinping and other CPC functionaries characterize the future world they wish to build by with their overseas economic and foreign policy initiatives (like the Belt and Road Initiative). This is usually described as a “win-win” (双赢 ) strategy where everyone involved benefits; Hu’s worries that the war might lead to greater integration between America and Europe suggests that some in China understand the concept in more zero-sum terms.

Just as interesting is the threat that Hu suggests will emerge if Russian power is crushed by a reunified West. Hu fears ideological pressure as much as economic or military coercion. Just as dangerous as being surrounded by Western alliances will be the ascendance of “western systems and values.” The insecurity of the 1990s is the boogeyman that must be avoided.

 Those who think of Chinese history in purely material terms will not understand why Hu would weave a nightmare out of the ‘90s. Chinese economic heft and military power grew in the 1990s—unlike in Russia, the Chinese ‘90s were not an age of disorder and contraction. Yet many party elites experienced this decade, especially the diplomatic freeze that followed the Tienanmen massacre, as fraught with danger.  Dictatorships across East Asia were transitioning to democracy, Communist parties across the world were collapsing, and the global intelligentsia believed that history had run its course. Xi Jinping is always telling cadres that the first step of formulating policy is “grasping the great trends” (抓住大趋势) of history. For a decade or so those trends pointed towards the fall of his Party. This era fostered a sense of insecurity that motivates Beijing decision making to this day.2

2

Key references for those who would like to explore this further include: Matthew Johnson, “Safeguarding Socialism: The Origins, Evolution and Expansion of China’s Total Security Paradigm” (Prague: Sinopsis, November 6, 2020) and “Securitizing Culture in Post-Deng China: An Evolving National Strategic Paradigm, 1994–2014,” Propaganda in the World and Local Conflicts 4, no. 1 (2017): 62–80; Nadège Rolland, China’s Vision for a New World Order, NBR Special Report (The National Bureau of Asian Research: Seattle, 2020); Rush Doshi, The Long Game: China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021), entire, but for this framing see especially pp. 47-65; John Garver, China’s Quest: The History of the Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic of China (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 463-578; Samantha Hoffman, Programming China: The Communist Party’s Autonomic Approach to Managing State Security (2017), section II.

It is hard to judge how committed Hu is to this framework of analysis without reading more of his oeuvre. It is possible he is really just a closet liberal who is grasping for any argument he thinks might bring some balance to U.S.-China relations. Either way, he chose the arguments he thought would be most convincing in Beijing. Readers of this blog—and my other columns—will not be surprised with the fears Hu articulates here: the threat of ideological pressure is something party officials and sympathetic intellectuals worry about incessantly. (You can see some of my past writing on this theme here, here, and here). Hu’s essay is a reminder that even as China ascends to new heights, the shadow of the 1990s still darkens the minds of Chinese strategists.

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Readers interested in exploring more of my writing on the nature of U.S.-China competition may find the posts “Yes, We Are in an Ideological Competition With China,” “The World That China Wants,” “Two Case Studies in Communist Insecurity,” Mr. Science, Meet Mr. Stability,” and “Give No Heed to the Walking Dead,” To get updates on new posts published at the Scholar’s Stage, you can join the Scholar’s Stage mailing list, follow my twitter feed, or support my writing through Patreon. Your support makes this blog possible. —————————————————————————————

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30 Comments

Interesting analysis of a highly hyped in Western media article.

As with any Chinese bank refusing to transact with Russia getting picked up by Bloomberg or Reuters, there are one or two highlighted banks or companies that fear the sanctions for ten that carry on making money with the Russians (and this is before Washington starts placing many Indian or Vietnamese arms or energy companies on the OFAC list creating potential dilemmas between upholding the Quad and IndoPac strategy vs the Russia sanctions war).

My best guess is MSS/PLA have a pretty good idea that Russia is winning the conventional war in eastern Ukraine and probably won’t need massive shipments of ramen noodle MREs or as of yet Chinese drones and loitering munitions to suppress Ukrainian urban fighters — despite the massive information bubble that has been created affirming otherwise. Given the fact that many components of the Russian drones could very well be shared with their Chinese counterparts or made in China it may be a difference without much distinction save for final assembly location being in the RF rather than PRC.

The author’s worry about a years long insurgency in Ukraine bleeding Russia is more than justified. So too is the worry about a new Iron Curtain this one ironically imposed from the West via sanctions rather than a physical and firewall barrier against Western ideas coming into the East. But the evidence that collective Western triumphalism may prove short lived, for example, that the petrodollar is cracking in favor of the petroyuan in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states — is ominous. What if instead of 1939 with Russia as Nazi Germany and Vladimir Vladimirovich as Putler this is 1914, and this conflict will end in the unraveling of one empire and a Pyhhric victory for the other? In this case the collective West succeeds in breaking Russian power but destroys the dollar’s world reserve currency status in the process? Or vice versa, Russia endures the pain for years to come, recruits a Eurasian foreign legion and puts most of the casualties burden from an occupation on its Donbass/Novorossiyan southeastern Ukraine native allies, and it turns out that millions of Americans won’t accept endless staginflation and woke Big Tech imposed censorship/cancellation for Our Democracy and the Atlantic Council.

The petrodollar is pointless. People can exchange oil in whatever currency they wish.

The US buys lots of stuff. People who want to grow their economy want to sell to the US. One way they do this is by giving a discount to the US through their currency. So the US gets to buy more stuff. But to keep this discount going, the seller has to hold onto the dollars in some fashion. If they buy back US stuff, their currency will go up relative to the US$ and they lose the pricing advantage.

So the US$ floats around because we are the current favorite to sell stuff to. It’s a great way to become a reserve currency.

So the risk is to the US is that they will stop selling us stuff. Which to some extent our sanctions often do.

But the US is a big developed economy. For the sellers, they either have to find another buyer of stuff, or they have to try and become big balanced economies. That is the long term goal. Obviously they aren’t there now or they would have already cut us off.

The problem with this thinking is China + India + ASEAN (only three of which have sanctioned Russia led by Singapore and Thai sanctions seem to be for show only) + Mercosur + EAEU is indeed, as Mr. Putin said yesterday, the bulk of the world’s population outside the US, EU and 5Eyes countries. It’s obvious Russia, China and Iran have been cooking up if not yuan as alternative reserve currency which the Chinese do not want the burden of, then an alternative basket of currencies to the IMF one.

China doesn’t even let the yuan float and has currency controls on it because it is afraid it’s populace would move yuan out of the country and exchange if it relaxed those controls. If a country doesn’t even trust its citizens to have faith in it’s currency, how can it be a world reserve currency? SA could exchange oil for yuan if it wants, but then what will it do with it? Do you think India, for instance, would be willing to switch from dollars to yuan given the geopolitical situation?

No the Indians if they have surpluses will accumulate a Gulf petrodinar currency or SDRs. They won’t be pro China but will stick with Russia regardless of the liberal Brahmins of the diaspora viewing Indian military / Indo deep state Russophilia as low status and revert to their last Cold War status as the most populous Non Aligned nation. Indonesia, Vietnam and most of Africa / LatAm leftist governments will join the NAM.

Here in the US, some based Hindu tech billionaire will invest in alt tech right wing friendly anti China but woke Atlanticist bashing platforms.

https://scholars-stage.org/what-is-the-end-game-in-ukraine/#comment-8290

https://scholars-stage.org/what-is-the-end-game-in-ukraine/#comment-8291

Indian Russophilia and greater neutrality if not sympathy for Russia’s position outside the 5Eyes/EU information bubble — where news of Ukrainian war crimes vs POWs and murdering civilian suspected ‘collaborators’ as well as battlefield defeats can be contained or downplayed — is a long term problem for Washington’s position. So too is rapid erosion of USD’s world reserve currency status.

Potentially worst of all is what precisely realists like myself who recognize American military might is not limitless dreaded an ‘unprovoked’ Russian invasion would cement in place — Russia as effectively a future cobelligerent and massive force multiplier for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Which is what brought me to commenting here (perhaps excessively as with new posts the comments would’ve been more spread out) in the first place.

The fact that a US military that outspends the Russians about ten to one and the Chinese plus Russians combined four or five to one feels smugly superior in the face of Russian setbacks and casualties isn’t surprising. Though I doubt that, if NATO had been tasked with storming Belgrade in 1999 in the event a more bloody minded Serb leader coup-ed Milosevic, that the Alliance would’ve had an easy time with a competent if badly outgunned Yugoslav military.

The real fundamental issue regardless of whether the Russians underestimated the Ukrainians and NATO’s real time capabilities to direct and resupply them is whether the Western way of war is all about dishing out punishment (including on the sanctions ‘battlefield’) but can’t stomach the pain when the enemy hits back hard. A good case in point was the Turkish shoot down of the SU24 that they ‘got away with’ only for the Turks to back off a few years later when Assad’s worn down military killed 54 of our NATO allies and the Iranians/Hezbollah threatened to kill a lot more of them. Even being Muslim and highly nationalistic doesn’t make the Turks willing to be Uncle Sam and John Bull’s cannon fodder vs the Syrians or their Iranian and Russian protectors, or now that the chips are down join in the sanctions while opening a second front against the Russians in the Middle East.

https://www.thelocal.de/20220401/german-consumers-to-be-hit-by-further-price-hikes-in-supermarkets/

The inflationary pain from the Russian ruble-ization as well as Chinese ‘grey zone’ economic warfare like shutting down the world’s busiest port of Shanghai that ‘coincides’ with Russia’s countersanctions has just begun. Perhaps waging a shooting hot proxy war with the vast and indispensable ally and raw materials supplier for your emerging superpower rival is not as easy as it sounded in theory at the RAND Corporation or Institute for the Study of War offices. And maybe, as Asia Times columnist Spengler wrote channeling the ruthless Cardinal Richelieu, Ukraine’s own ability to absorb mass casualties in a country where the median age was 40 before a large chunk of its family forming and working age population fled to the West is not limitless.

I don’t see much evidence that Russia is even winning the conventional war. What evidence do you have?

Russia is losing 0.5-1% of all aspects of it’s invasion force per day. At that rate, it won’t have much of an army left in a few weeks.

Compare those numbers to the alternative 10% force lost, then 35-40% mission ineffective forces, then WW2 peak GPW battle casualty rates when the USSR didn’t have nearly the artillery / aerial dominance over the Wehrmacht in summer 43 Donbass campaign that RU has over UKR now, and make your own probabilistic determination. Also regardless of The Atlantic publishing Anthony Beevor this week WW2 tactics like putting tank shells / arty incendiary rounds through the tops of buildings killing snipers / Javelin / RPG teams inside still work as they did in Grozny or Berlin. So does starving the UAF of both rocket / arty ammo and missile strikes destroying fuel storage across the country to reduce Ukrainians to modified SUVs and soft skinned vehicles (like the Wehrmacht running out of gas / diesel in late 1944) because there’s no diesel for armor or self propelled guns. Diesel and petrol tankers unlike ATGMs and manpads can’t be easily concealed from aerial interdiction while crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border. So there’s your war making insurgency pre empting tactic — fuel rationing checkpoints and forcing guerrillas to transport RPGs via tachankas.

Let us hope and pray there’s a ceasefire soon and enough diesel for the tractors.

Mariupol just fell and the Kramatorsk / Slavyansk agglomeration is next. The Kyiv partial encircling and Black
Sea Fleet are doing their work pinning down large forces defending the capitol and Odessa while the UAF gets eviscerated in the Donbass and Kharkov oblast.

Writing on 13 April just to highlight how all predictions of “Charlie Macgregor” are wrong.

On 24 March Charlie Macgregor wrote: “Mariupol just fell and the Kramatorsk / Slavyansk agglomeration is next. The Kyiv partial encircling and Black Sea Fleet are doing their work pinning down large forces defending the capitol and Odessa while the UAF gets eviscerated in the Donbass and Kharkov oblast.”

Reality as of 13 April: Russians haven’t taken Mariupol yet. Russians have abandoned all their gains in the north (Kiev, Chernigov, Sumy), also exposing ample evidence of their war crimes in the are. Russian attack on Kramatorsk area hasn;t even started. Russians have retreated from Nikolaev are, no chance of attack on Odessa

Watch the Donbass meatgrinder where the Ukrainian Army faces a hostile, Russia-friendly population eager to help the Russians find their bunkers over the next 2-3 weeks. The Kyiv operation was a costly feint for the Russians but the main battles in the east and south are about to begin. US/UK media’s tendency to simply not report Ukrainian casualties at all under quasi-wartime self censorship will come under a spotlight, as will the theory that Kyiv’s own KIA/WIA are irrelevant because they ‘won’ pushing back by a few klicks a force that had no chance of storming a city the size of Kyiv (whether they’ll be back is another question, Odessa makes much more sense as the last target city and the economic coercive value is in the south to make Ukraine a much poorer landlocked country dependent on EU/US taxpayer handouts for survival).

A very substantial Russian reserve with their new T90s and Tornado I/II MLRS systems has been held back in both Belgorod and much further west in Belarus. The former for the Kharkov/Donbass operations and the latter for the oft chance the Poles will in an officially non-official NATO operation launch an armored thunder run into Lviv and maybe keep going toward Kyiv.

Fascinating stuff. I think there’s a growing current of thought in Western circles that buying oil and gas from Russia and consumer goods from China has been a strategic mistake. Integration with the global economy hasn’t weakened authoritarianism. New middle class consumers haven’t been effective in getting political power. Indeed, the West’s money and offshored labour has bolstered these regimes while weakening the West. Per South Park: “They took our jerrrrbs!”
The question is whether Russia’s economic isolation will endure – a matter of policy rather than reaction or performativity. And if so, might it also be applied to China? Disentanglement there might be slower and more complex, but perhaps no less desirable. If trade policy doesn’t effectively export Western values, it could at least avoid enriching our adversaries and sowing domestic division.

” It is possible he is really just a closet liberal who is grasping for any argument he thinks might bring some balance to U.S.-China relations.”

That’s my assumption; what kind of American think tanker advocates ending U.S. support for Japan to improve relations with China? Is that even legal in the U.S.? I’ve seen no evidence it is.

Lyle Goldstein’s book Meeting China Halfway makes essentially this argument–and not just for Japan, but also Taiwan, India, and so forth. But Japan is a treaty ally with the United States; Russia and China do not have anything like the Tokyo-Washington relationship. Best analogy might be U.S.-India?

He does not advocate ending U.S. support for Japan, merely a reduction of U.S. forces (primarily for practical military reasons) and advocates “joint jurisdiction” over the contested rocks claimed by both Japan and China.

“Let us be clear: The alliance would remain intact, up to and including nuclear guarantees (a special sensitivity), but it could be reduced in significance to reflect the fact that Japan is, in fact, rather secure from external threats. ”

He also advocates a militarily stronger Japan, rather than a militarily weaker one. This is really quite far from

“China cannot be tied to Putin and needs to be cut off as soon as possible.” “Under current international circumstances, China can only proceed by safeguarding its own best interests, choosing the lesser of two evils, and unloading the burden of Russia as soon as possible. At present, it is estimated that there is still a window period of one or two weeks before China loses its wiggle room. China must act decisively. China should avoid playing both sides in the same boat, give up being neutral, and choose the mainstream position in the world… To demonstrate China’s role as a responsible major power, China not only cannot stand with Putin, but also should take concrete actions to prevent Putin’s possible adventures.”

The book is also pre-2018, when there was more room for China dovishness in the U.S. intellectual sphere.

“Best analogy might be U.S.-India?”

Maybe. The reason I chose Japan is because it’s a country with higher average human capital than the U.S. (similar to Russia’s standing relative to China), has a smaller population than the U.S (ditto)., and the Kashmir dispute primarily raises ire in the Muslim world, rather than in China, making it a poor analogy for the Russian interventions.

Putin tasked the Central Bank of the Russian Federation today with creating a plan for selling Russian gas in rubles to nations on the hostile list. Since EU governments and the ECB don’t have any significant reserves of rubles (only the EAEU FSU/Central Asian nations like Armenia would) and their gold (including the Bundesbank’s) is gone into private hands, it looks like they’ll have to start using yuan.

I’m aware of the non-convertibility issue but what’s the alternative if Russia won’t sell for euros, other than some middleman or conversion scheme that runs via Shanghai or Hong Kong? Surely there will be some sort of workaround. Incidentally Iran which was until recently the most sanctioned nation on the planet after North Korea found ways to sell nearly three million barrels per day. All those Houthi kamikaze drones weren’t quite paying for themselves by disrupting Saudi production.

Radical dedollarization and shocks to the euro, happening right before our eyes for anyone who cares to notice.

Good to focus more on the global impact on the rest of us outside Eastern Europe and less on the arguments about Battle of Normandy levels of attrition not adding up.

China has the largest euro reserves and Turkey has some (though not nearly as many as the Saudis and Emiratis) as well, so logically the middlemen will be Turks, Arabs and Chinese. This might illuminate why the UAE just snubbed the commander of CENTCOM and Riyadh/Abu Dhabi weren’t taking Biden’s calls the other day.

Putin high fiving Crown Prince MBS gif. As I wrote some of this has been cooking behind the scenes of the Russia/Kazakhstan + OPEC talks for a long time. Unlike with the Euro these Eurasian currency baskets will not replace the domestic currencies, just create regional or supraregional reserves to replace USD/EUR/GBP/JPY as units of trade settlement or central bank reserves. And bypass the problem of non convertability of yuan and China not wanting WRC status yet.

There seems no useful analogy to be had here. Who is Japan invading in your analogy scenario, to raises Chinese ire? To be analogous must was formerly part of their historical sphere, has about a third of their population. South Korea? If Japan invaded South Korea, the US would certainly break from them.

Just one thing to note: Russian ruble hit the pre-invasion levels today. Granted there are capital controls in place and CBRF may very well be engaged in massive swaps with the allied PBOC (and given Turkey’s refusal despite all the hype about its Bayrektar drones, to join the EU and the most of NATO in sanctioning the Russians, the rumors about covert Chinese USD/EUR swap bailouts of the Turkish lira may very well be true as well).

The main thing to note is the trend contrast with December 2014, when the concerted attack on the ruble and oil prices did major damage to the Russian economy. It remains to be seen if the March 31 gas for rubles deadline will come and go without any major sturm und drang. Germany and the G7 have rejected it, logically because they have no rubles, less logically because they get to tear up contracts by declaring sanctions while Russia is still obligated to accept sanctionable dollars and euros for its gas.

Reuters headline: Kremlin warns rubles for gas is a ‘prototype’ for other commodities

The greatest Russian success of this war thus far and the gravest Anglo-American failure has been the ruble’s very rapid recovery. Even the Scottish economic historian (but author of The Pity of War that advocated the British Empire let the Kaiserreich dominate Europe) Niall Ferguson has acknowledged this failure of Washington and London policy, albeit under conditions of major capital controls. The ruble interest rate remains far too high for internal development within Russia. Sergey Glazyev and other Eurasianists/sovereigntists have openly accused Elvira Nabiullina of favoring Russian currency speculators at the biggest banks and their buddies at Cyprus and other offshore registered hedge funds, so it will be interesting to see if the CBRF attempts major rate cuts despite massive inflationary pressures globally.

After being an inflation hawk and sound money advocate my whole adult life I am coming around to the view that inflation targeting and Volckerism that worked in the 1980s is completely impractical under present global conditions, and it would be better for Russia to focus on growth from Chinese/Indian other Eurasian investment as much as possible rather worry too much about inflation. MMT as practiced by the PBOC and the Fed/BOE/BOJ are of course very different, the former has led to a much easier to pop speculative bubble in Chinese real estate and to a lesser extent commodities, while the latter’s pandemic money printing has created a tsunami of Western stagflation.

The economic war is arguably the main front of this conflict and more important than where exactly between the borders of Kherson/Kharkov oblasts the Russian offensive elects to place an armistice line — as it’s unlikely Kyiv can politically agree to any peace treaty that formally recognizes Crimea much less the Donbass. After the UAF’s catastrophic losses in equipment a great deal of it abandoned on the battlefield for lack of fuel Kyiv can always — so long as the NATO taxpayer is paying for it and there are enough troops left to reconstitute a couple divisions — gather up Polish, Czech and Croat T72s and try a highway of death ride to Kherson or Slavyansk.

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/1-kremlin-warns-west-rouble-123948330.html

https://twitter.com/martyrmade/status/1514410442529157120

https://twitter.com/martyrmade/status/1514465276804452353

You can simultaneously believe that the Ukrainian people have a right to resist a foreign occupation, particularly of their home towns (as opposed to enforcing a government’s writ on the people of Donbass)…and that their government sucks, and instead of making Ukraine more like the USA Washington succeeded in making the US more post 2014 like Ukraine.

Kyiv shamelessly lies to extract more weapons if not boots on the ground from Americans, and the regime acts like it’s normal to hogtie and dress in uniform political oppo figures pulled from SBU dungeons (and yes believing that Nazi collaborators were heroes of Ukraine is pretty much a job requirement to join the post 2014 SBU).

It gives impunity to soldiers and ‘volunteer battalions’ that commit war crimes and blame them on Russians or pro-Russians. It also promotes a disgusting (especially if you’re Polish or Israeli and had great uncles and aunts butchered in the Lviv portion of the Holocaust or the Volyn genocide) Bandera/UPA cult and excuse making for overt Nazi symbolism. Now we see ISIS-style videos that go far beyond mere Hapsburg pre-WW1 propaganda originating Galician exceptionalism of the 1991-2014 period and cope that Russians on average were economically worse off than Ukrainians.

On the question of late stage capitalist looting and US/UK seizure of Russian nationals assets, even those like Mr. Abramovich’s ‘protected’ through the best Londongrad legal layers and lawyering their money can buy.

https://mobile.twitter.com/realGonzaloLira/status/1514666347413880835

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/jersey-authorities-freeze-7-billion-assets-allegedly-belonging-roman-abramovich

If you are a Chinese, a Saudi, or even a wealthy Hungarian not named Soros, why keep your money in the combined West thinking there is still rule of law there when there’s a target on your back and there are so many opportunities in LatAm and Asia?

But of course the voice of pseudo ‘centrism’ says USD’s reserve currency status is all powerful and unlimited, we can do whatever we want. Nothing late stage empire or desperate about any of this at all.

Socialist ex Sri Lanka Ambassador says Russia needs to find a way to emulate Vo Nguyen Giap, who understood enemy center of gravity was American anti war movement and Washington not in Saigon

https://eng.globalaffairs.ru/articles/russias-reformatting/

The Ukraine War / Vietnam War parallels

NatSec Mil Twitter living in their info bubble after all didn’t the Russians retreat from Kyiv? = South Vietnamese (Ukrainians) going from strength to strength, enemy generals KIA’d, war going according to Pentagon / CIA Westmoreland plan to bleed enemy and boost body counts with only subtle hints of problems or setbacks (Bloomberg article on Ukrainians prodigious expenditure of ATGMs which could be euphemism for many getting destroyed in Ru Kalibr strikes or captured in huge abandoned caches in Donbass while it turns out US/NATO ATGM / MANPAD production capacity is not limitless— waging all out proxy war on a Chinese ally while being dependent on China for manufacturing after 30 years of shipping capacity to the PRC turns out is not such a brilliant plan by the Anglo-American elite)

Telegram = television broadcasts showing ARVN / US GI casualties to Americans every night introducing doubts as to whether Saigon / Kyiv is really winning the war (RU Telegram channels showing the last starved UAF Azovstahl remnants surrendering in Mariupol, Russians stacking bodies of Ukrainians killed by intense RU artillery fire in Donbass, Ru MoD claiming credibly that UKR AF and mercenary casualties five to seven times the 3,000 UAF losses that Zelensky admits, Mariupol and Donbass villager population that despised US propped up Kyiv government that can’t admit together with mil natsec Twitter that Mariupol has fallen)

The Vietnam parallel means Russia attacks US support for Kyiv at the moral / morale level of war by heightening awareness of UAF torture and murder of RU POWs allege murders of Bucha civilian ‘collaborators’ blamed subsequently on retreating Russian troops, Bandera / UPA cult etc

The South Vietnamese while also corrupt didn’t have liability of a metastasized Nazi collaborator / Holocaust and Volyn mini genocide of Poles perpetrators cult that taints the Kyiv government regardless of its presidential figurehead

Last parallel to Vietnam era (my handle is an allusion to the Viet Cong) is severe US inflation / energy price spike crisis.

Is China’s city and port of Shanghai lockdown a subtle form of economic warfare vs vulnerable US supply chains to whence inflationary pain? I guess we’ll find out soon.

Col Doug Macgregor USA ret video with Judge Andrew Napolitano on the upcoming decisive battle for Donbass and the looming Ukrainian defeat there

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iavu1MwyIRU

Does vastly superior to Soviet methods NATO NCO training include obeying the most ‘stand and die’ orders any European army has received since 1944-45? Asking for the doomed Ukrainian defenders at Azovstahl who died from TU22M vacuum bombs after waiting in vain for forces released from defending Kyiv to attempt a breakthrough to Zaporozhe oblast…

https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-military-success-years-of-nato-training-11649861339?mod=e2tw

Where was the individual squad level initiative and maneuver among the SS Das Reich division rune wearers who considered themselves to be Ukraine’s most elite troops in Mariupol?

https://www.bfmtv.com/tech/guerre-en-ukraine-amazon-propose-des-produits-aux-couleurs-de-combattants-neonazis_AN-202203140236.html