Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘You Two Deserve Each Other’: Russia, China, and the Impending Fight Over Vladivostok

 

It seems that Xi Jinping’s move to a more openly aggressive foreign policy is extending in every direction, not just to his Southwestern neighbor India, but to his Northern ally, Russia. The PRC is now claiming past (and hinting at proper present) ownership of one of Russia’s major Pacific port cities, Vladivostok (Владивосток), on the basis of Qing rule in the territory. (For those who are unfamiliar with Chinese dynasties, the Qing were the final emperors of China and ruled from 1644 until 1912, but the territory under question was annexed by Russia in the 1860 Treaty of Beijing and Han people, who constitute(d) the majority of China’s population, had long been banned from entry by their Manchu rulers. Additionally, the Chinese Empire was not the first or last territorial entity to claim or assert ownership in the region). What does this bode for Russia and China individually, and their mutual relations?

>As a disclaimer, I understand very little Chinese, basically nothing beyond the ability to politely navigate a grocery store/restaurant and introduce myself, so my analysis will mostly fall on the Russian side of the issue, where I have a far superior linguistic arsenal. But, let’s begin by situating this (maybe) surprising turn of events within a broader context. For the sake of some minimal amount of brevity, I’ll summarize the pre-1949 relationship by saying that it was a mixed bag at the official level (borders were not firmly set in the pre and early modern worlds, and even beyond then people at a local level generally continue to interact regardless of their government’s wishes), and by the late 19th century favored Russia as the richer and more Westernized/militarily superior power.

Skipping a bit ahead, relations between the PRC and the USSR were often about as cosy as the climate of the Russian Far East. Naturally, the two largest Communist powers in the world were allies, and the Soviets sent aid to Mao when he was fighting the Kuomintang, but even then Stalin was stingy in the amounts that he sent, and as the years went on he hardly became more friendly. Mao, when he visited Russia, was made to feel like a lesser entity in all of his meetings with Uncle Joe, something that was particularly damaging to relations when the Chinese despot had such singular control, and in general the Soviets did not hesitate in displaying a paternalistic attitude towards the newer members of the Marxist-Leninist camp, encouraging technological and educational exchange programs but also emphasizing their superiority as longer standing, stricter communists and a more advanced society. 

This rubbed the Chinese wrong in almost every possible way. Although Mao declared eagerness to remake Sino culture, he also embraced Confucian sayings and traditional values/cultural forms when they conformed with his goals, and his (and many others) sense of Chinese/Han national pride was offended by such an attitude from the Soviets, a society that Imperial China had regarded as barbaric and backwards only a few centuries previous. A whiff of colonial paternalism, a great sin in the Communist handbook, was also in the air. With the death of Stalin in 1953, and Khrushchev’s denouncement of him three years later, Mao felt more at ease to go his own way. From then on, relations were often less than cordial between the two great powers, and they competed for ideological purity, allies, and, briefly in 1969, territory. 

Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, a more ‘special’ relationship has emerged, with various treaties of friendship, mutual trade and infrastructure projects, and close cooperation in the political, military, and global arenas. In order to answer our overarching question of “how”, we first have to ask “why”, when things have been going so well. As with China’s actions on India, my estimation is that things taking a turn for the worse was a huge part of the motivation to move in this direction. Xi takes great pride in his inscrutable image in the West, much as Putin does his man of steel/175 IQ political master variation, but he is also an admirer of Mao, and a staunch Han Chinese nationalist. Mao often took bold action when the situation internally in China was very bad (famines, mass purges, etc.) and Xi sees an opportunity to do the same at a time when China’s image on the world stage is very poor, and there is much fear internally because of the virus and the economic and social upsets that it has caused. 

In other words, make moves that will inspire enmity when the global perception is poor in hopes that they will be swept under the rug with the ‘bigger’ issue of the virus when the time for handing out blame comes, and China asserts its vast wealth and propaganda machine to begin to shift it. Xi is also at a certain disadvantage dealing with Russia that he might not be with more firmly Western powers, because it is a bit harder to make the charges of imperialism that often inspire submission stick. The Chinese love to bandy about accusations of imperialism and reprimands for past wrongs on the part of their enemies, but there is a two-fold problem with them in relation to Russia. (This would also be a good time to acknowledge that China has a long history of colonialism just as brutal as any Western power in East and Southeast Asia, and a history of race/color based discrimination that far predates the arrival of any Europeans. The assertion that racism began in China with the coming of Europeans is laughably degrading, and if you want proof or a greater understanding, I heartily recommend that you read Construction of Racial Identities in China And Japan by Frank Dikotter). 

Firstly, the Russians can easily counter that they were just as much victims of, and pawns in, the game of Western imperialism in the 19th century, and that many of their own aggressive actions were based on a desire to survive and/or protect pan-Slav interests. In another direction, the culture and educational milieu of Putin’s Russia is not particularly interested in seeking forgiveness for Russian expansionism, and places national pride above any sense of modern relational ethics or culpability for horrific historical events. So simply guilting based on imperialism won’t get them very far. Another push behind Xi’s move is a simple desire for revenge. China feels that it was badly treated by Russia, both in its imperial and communist forms, and wants to extract retribution by either making Russia look less powerful by handing over the city, or conflictual by refusing to negotiate. Xi made a power play similar to Putin’s current one with the nationwide constitutional referendum, when he managed to get the term limits of the presidency removed, and knowing that this made him more secure in acting just as he wanted to, seeing his ally do the same provokes fear. Minds that think alike recognize each other. 

Smart as Xi may be, dictatorial leaders that preside over vast swaths of unhappy, oppressed citizens, no matter how many loyalists they may have, project paranoia both at home and abroad. 

From this “why”, China’s hope of what this bodes, greater control in Eurasia and more security by the reduction of neighbors’ power and world image, is clear. On to Russia. Part of what motivated this spat to begin with were celebrations in Vladivostok of the city’s 160th anniversary, and a tweet from the Russian embassy in India celebrating how the city became a part of Russia. Just as Xi seems to be feeling threatened by Putin’s firmer grip on the reins of the Russian state, Putin looks to have his own fears regarding Chinese aggression and was egging India into continuing to oppose them. Naturally, Russia also wishes to have a good relationship with such a big, economically rising nation and if they can do it while pushing the Chinese out of a similar position, all the better. The origins of the conflict also likely reveal Putin’s response. Нет!

Putin’s power base in the Russian population, especially because he is distinctly unpopular with big percentages of the educated and monied classes, rests upon his reputation as a stellar Russian nationalist; Vlad (such a very Russian name) defender of the traditional territories, eager even to regain those that have been lost, a sharp rebuke to the ‘Western puppet’ Yeltsin in reestablishing Russia’s image as unbeatable and glorious all over the world. In no universe can Putin give up or compromise his status as a symbol of Russian pride and survive long term, especially when what is at stake is an important (albeit crime-ridden and depressing) port. 

For China this is a chance for Xi to assert preeminence and Chinese hegemony, at least in its regional sphere, while for Russia and Putin it’s a window to live up to a reputation as great, national leader and maybe even make themselves look like the sympathetic aggressed upon, currying favor with some Western observers and rising third-world powers that feel threatened by China. The final part of the question was what this foretells for relations. Lacking some kind of magic crystal ball (I did take a very intensive IR class last year, and I mostly learned that I’m cut out for analyzing historical happenings, not predicting the future), I’ll explore possible avenues, and what they might foretell. 

The most obvious would be for Putin to start, as he had steadfastly refused to do since the beginning of the pandemic, blaming China for the severity and spread of COVID-19, which has devastated Russia. Such a declaration, I think, would present a marked deterioration in national relations and probably permanently impact Xi and Putin’s relationship. For as long as they remain in power, full trust, such as that might have been, would never really reappear. Another possibility is that China could go beyond simply asserting that the territory was once their’s, and implying that it should be returned, by either making formal demands or beginning a border skirmish. As with the first option, a break down in association is inevitable. The chance that this might provoke Russia into large scale military action, or simply end up creating a conflict that China will find difficult to win, makes it unlikely, but President Xi hardly seems to be aiming for predictability nowadays. A less extreme reaction than either of the other two is a simple cooling of the countries’ relationship and a greater divergence in military and/or political objectives. Both countries, though, see a fundamental enemy in the US, and the NATO/Western-dominated world order, and that will always be a good cohesive principle. 

There are a lot of lessons that can be learned here, but I think the most important for US policymakers and informed citizens, as well as allies of the post-WWII neoliberal order, is the exploitable weaknesses between allied autocratic nations. No matter how smart their leaders may be, paranoia that ruling a country where a significant portion of the citizens would either like to see you dead or obey out of fear rather than respect bleeds into foreign policy and the relationships between such power-hungry politicians. Pinpointing those fracture points, and increasing them while minimizing the chance for open physical conflict where possible, is a key way to decrease the credibility of those regimes in international eyes, and the view of their populations, and to begin destabilizing. Certainly, no two countries deserve to do this to each other quite as much as China and Russia. 

*For the curious, a link to the video in question is here, and an article about the conflict in Russian state media here. Since I seem to write weekly/bi-weekly about Russia (consistency, thy name ain’t college student), I thought it would be fun to give this somewhat regular Russia centric report a name. Any ideas?

Published in Foreign Policy
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  1. Arahant Member

    Time for a little “Operation R.S.V.P.”

    • #1
    • July 3, 2020, at 5:09 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    KirkianWanderer: Minds that think alike recognize each other.

    Great insight.

    • #2
    • July 3, 2020, at 5:13 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    KirkianWanderer: I thought it would be fun to give this somewhat regular Russia centric report a name. Any ideas?

    The Russia Report

    Moscow’s Mirror

    From West to East

    Through Ivan’s Eyes

    Archangel Analysis or Arkhangelsk Analysis?

    • #3
    • July 3, 2020, at 5:29 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer: I thought it would be fun to give this somewhat regular Russia centric report a name. Any ideas?

    The Russia Report

    Moscow’s Mirror

    From West to East

    Through Ivan’s Eyes

    Archangel Analysis or Arkhangelsk Analysis?

    They’re all so good, I’ll have to think on it. 

    • #4
    • July 3, 2020, at 5:37 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Very good post, KW.

    • #5
    • July 3, 2020, at 5:40 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer: Minds that think alike recognize each other.

    Great insight.

    Thanks. I think there is also an element of shared culture, both in traditional values (family, hierarchy, etc) and to a much greater extent the impact of communism on society, that makes them comprehensible to each other. Russia is still deeply dysfunctional in a variety of ways (alcoholism, high unemployment, unhappiness with living standards, corruption, etc) in large part because of communism‘s legacy, and Chinese society has been torn apart and repatched with communist characteristics that also create dissension and conflict (someone did a really interesting video a few years ago on how miserable it can be to live as a foreigner in China, because people treat each other badly out of suspicion and fear as a matter of course). So they must to some extent both see similar issues, but I suspect a divergence arises because Xi is still a dedicated communist, where Putin’s ideology is whatever national power (though of course Xi is also an ardent Han nationalist). 

    • #6
    • July 3, 2020, at 5:45 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Doug Watt Moderator

    A great post, well done. I’m reading Anne Applebaum’s book on Ukraine, a great companion book to Robert Conquest’s book, Harvest of Sorrow. What some American’s might not understand is that the conflict between Ukraine, and Russia is not just ancient history, it is living memory.

     

    • #7
    • July 3, 2020, at 5:50 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  8. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    A great post, well done. I’m reading Anne Applebaum’s book on Ukraine, a great companion book to Robert Conquest’s book, Harvest of Sorrow. What some American’s might not understand is that the conflict between Ukraine, and Russia is not just ancient history, it is living memory.

    That Conquest book is one of my favorites, it’s part of what really pushed me on the path to becoming an academic historian. I read it when I was 14, and I was so deeply impressed by his analysis and thoroughness, but also deeply disturbed. And you are exactly spot on with Ukraine. That’s part of what makes me angry, when people left and right say that it’s all fine and good for Russia to start lopping off pieces of Ukraine or try to take it all. And start praising Putin as some kind of great nationalist leader whose example should be followed. Not only has Ukraine always had a separate (and more democratic/western) culture than/from Russia, it suffered starvation and genocide at their hands. I don’t think differences of language, and culture, to some extent demand national expression, but to try to force a nation that has suffered those atrocities back into the hands that committed them would be like handing Armenia to the Turks today and telling them to have a field day. It’s disgusting, and so telling of what a shallow view of Eastern European history most Americans have.

    • #8
    • July 3, 2020, at 6:02 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  9. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    A great post, well done. I’m reading Anne Applebaum’s book on Ukraine, a great companion book to Robert Conquest’s book, Harvest of Sorrow. What some American’s might not understand is that the conflict between Ukraine, and Russia is not just ancient history, it is living memory.

     

    That Conquest book is one of my favorites, it’s part of what really pushed me on the path to becoming an academic historian. I read it when I was 14, and I was so deeply impressed by his analysis and thoroughness, but also deeply disturbed. And you are exactly spot on with Ukraine. That’s part of what makes me angry, when people left and right say that it’s all fine and good for Russia to start lopping off pieces of Ukraine or try to take it all. Not only has Ukraine always had a separate (and more democratic/western) culture than/from Russia, it suffered starvation and genocide at their hands. I don’t think differences of language, and culture, to some extent demand national expression, but to try to force a nation that has suffered those atrocities back into the hands that committed them would be like handing Armenia to the Turks today and telling them to have a field day. It’s disgusting, and so telling of what a shallow view of Eastern European history most Americans have.

    Also, if you’re interested in Imperial/pre-revolutionary to slightly post-Russia, Dominic Lieven is an incredibly adept historian of that period. (I’ve had the privilege of meeting him on several occasions, because he’s a professor at my uni, and he’s a very brillant, personable man). Leonard Shapiro is an oldie but a goodie for understanding the communist system and some of why the Russian communist government approached the satellite states/minorities the way they did. 

    • #9
    • July 3, 2020, at 6:05 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Neither Russia nor China has anyone even close to an ally.

    • #10
    • July 3, 2020, at 6:05 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  11. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer

    Percival (View Comment):

    Neither Russia nor China has anyone even close to an ally.

    That is true, at least by the way one would generally see an ally. They have been imperialists, and aggressors for such a huge part of their histories, without having managed to embrace any kind of free society, I wonder how or if they ever will have true allies, instead of just cooperators born out of fear? China’s enmity for Japan, understandably, runs so deep that it seems doubtful that they would stop competing for that sphere of influence or have real ties of friendship. It’s saddening in a lot of ways, because they are both cultures that have so much to offer the world, and China in the ‘20s for all of its problems had such a vibrant free(ing) society, but so much of that has been lost culturally and geopolitically to communism and subsequent authoritarianism for them. In a funny way, I think Taiwan is an expression of what China could have been. 

    • #11
    • July 3, 2020, at 6:12 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Neither Russia nor China has anyone even close to an ally.

    That is true, at least by the way one would generally see an ally. They have been imperialists, and aggressors for such a huge part of their histories, without having managed to embrace any kind of free society, I wonder how or if they ever will have true allies, instead of just cooperators born out of fear? China’s enmity for Japan, understandably, runs so deep that it seems doubtful that they would stop competing for that sphere of influence or have real ties of friendship. It’s saddening in a lot of ways, because they are both cultures that have so much to offer the world, and China in the ‘20s for all of its problems had such a vibrant free(ing) society, but so much of that has been lost culturally and geopolitically to communism and subsequent authoritarianism for them. In a funny way, I think Taiwan is an expression of what China could have been.

    And that, and Honk Kong’s success, irks them to no end.

    They’d like to maintain Hong Kong’s success, but they can’t do that and bring them to heel at the same time. I don’t think that Xi gets that yet.

    • #12
    • July 3, 2020, at 6:26 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  13. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer

    Percival (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Neither Russia nor China has anyone even close to an ally.

    That is true, at least by the way one would generally see an ally. They have been imperialists, and aggressors for such a huge part of their histories, without having managed to embrace any kind of free society, I wonder how or if they ever will have true allies, instead of just cooperators born out of fear? China’s enmity for Japan, understandably, runs so deep that it seems doubtful that they would stop competing for that sphere of influence or have real ties of friendship. It’s saddening in a lot of ways, because they are both cultures that have so much to offer the world, and China in the ‘20s for all of its problems had such a vibrant free(ing) society, but so much of that has been lost culturally and geopolitically to communism and subsequent authoritarianism for them. In a funny way, I think Taiwan is an expression of what China could have been.

    And that, and Honk Kong’s success, irks them to no end.

    They’d like to maintain Hong Kong’s success, but they can’t do that and bring them to heel at the same time. I don’t think that Xi gets that yet.

    I don’t know with Xi, which is probably what he wants. Some part of me thinks that maybe he doesn’t understand that their success is a product of embracing, to some extent, British/liberal values, but another says he knows and doesn’t care. They’re Cantonese speaking and a large % are mixed race or minorities, which makes them instantly inferior to pure Hans and their success offensive, and a connection to the West and Western values that is a part of China annoys him, because he sees their way of pursuing capitalism with Chinese characteristics as so superior to Western methods of economic structure. I’m not sure to what extent it matters, either. Xi is gonna do what he desires, and no one in China is willing or able to stop him.

    • #13
    • July 3, 2020, at 6:30 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  14. Flicker Coolidge

    From Russia With Love

    • #14
    • July 3, 2020, at 6:41 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  15. Steve C. Member

    I’d hate to be playing the Russian hand. 

    • #15
    • July 3, 2020, at 6:53 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Neither Russia nor China has anyone even close to an ally.

    That is true, at least by the way one would generally see an ally. They have been imperialists, and aggressors for such a huge part of their histories, without having managed to embrace any kind of free society, I wonder how or if they ever will have true allies, instead of just cooperators born out of fear? China’s enmity for Japan, understandably, runs so deep that it seems doubtful that they would stop competing for that sphere of influence or have real ties of friendship. It’s saddening in a lot of ways, because they are both cultures that have so much to offer the world, and China in the ‘20s for all of its problems had such a vibrant free(ing) society, but so much of that has been lost culturally and geopolitically to communism and subsequent authoritarianism for them. In a funny way, I think Taiwan is an expression of what China could have been.

    And that, and Honk Kong’s success, irks them to no end.

    They’d like to maintain Hong Kong’s success, but they can’t do that and bring them to heel at the same time. I don’t think that Xi gets that yet.

    I don’t know with Xi, which is probably what he wants. Some part of me thinks that maybe he doesn’t understand that their success is a product of embracing, to some extent, British/liberal values, but another says he knows and doesn’t care. They’re Cantonese speaking and a large % are mixed race or minorities, which makes them instantly inferior to pure Hans and their success offensive, and a connection to the West and Western values that is a part of China annoys him, because he sees their way of pursuing capitalism with Chinese characteristics as so superior to Western methods of economic structure. I’m not sure to what extent it matters, either. Xi is gonna do what he desires, and no one in China is willing or able to stop him.

    The CCP needs the revenue. Xi might think that he’ll be able to restore that, but that won’t happen.

    The UK is offering refugee status to Hong Kong residents fleeing the Pooh Bear. The US and Australia may do the same. Xi could end up with nothing to show for his iron will but a lot of surplus office furniture.

    • #16
    • July 3, 2020, at 6:53 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  17. The Reticulator Member

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    A great post, well done. I’m reading Anne Applebaum’s book on Ukraine,

    I just now added this to my Kindle queue, even though Applebaum has blocked me on Twitter. I did Kindle rather than Audible because I’ll probably want to refer to maps while reading.

    • #17
    • July 3, 2020, at 6:54 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    I’d hate to be playing the Russian hand.

    It’s one that’s gotten worse over the last, I don’t know for sure, five years at least, really for decades. Declining oil revenues, an undereducated population (for the modern economy), civil and political unrest, the list goes on. Still, I think it’s a massive mistake for the US to say they’re slowly going to fade to second class status and ignore them in long term projections. It’s a strategically situated country sitting on vast natural resources, with an elite culture that does produce amazingly educated and literate people. And every time they decline, they come back. Still share your sentiment, though, especially having been to Russia. It’s a harsh, scary place for all of its natural and cultural beauty.

    • #18
    • July 3, 2020, at 7:06 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  19. Locke On Member

    One thing to consider is the Eastern Siberian oil and gas fields developed in the last ten years. See this several year old article that names some of the names. Some of them are already connected to China by pipeline. Getting even a nominal de jure claim to a foothold in the area makes strategic sense: The CCP and PLAN are certainly acutely aware that if things ever get ‘interesting’, it’d take the USN about a week to choke off China’s external energy supply and another potential option might look good. Certainly makes more sense than stirring up India over some miles of fairly useless Himalayan wilderness.

    • #19
    • July 3, 2020, at 7:06 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  20. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer

    Locke On (View Comment):

    One thing to consider is the Eastern Siberian oil and gas fields developed in the last ten years. See this several year old article that names some of the names. Some of them are already connected to China by pipeline. Getting even a nominal de jure claim to a foothold in the area makes strategic sense: The CCP and PLAN are certainly acutely aware that if things ever get ‘interesting’, it’d take the USN about a week to choke off China’s external energy supply and another potential option might look good. Certain makes more sense than stirring up India over some miles of fairly useless Himalayan wilderness.

    That’s a great point, they seem to be strategizing for a larger conflict; maybe the India thing is a kind of real world dry run for the effectiveness of the PLA. I really, really wouldn’t like to see a border war between China and Russia if it can be avoided, because I don’t think they care past a certain point if they destabilize the entire region, probably just think that would be an opportunity to grab more territory. 

    • #20
    • July 3, 2020, at 7:10 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Arahant Member

    Reminds me of something.

    • #21
    • July 3, 2020, at 7:16 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Doug Watt Moderator

    Permit me to add some family history. My dad who enlisted in the Navy, and volunteered for the Submarine Service served in the Pacific during WWII. He was asked to come back to the Navy after the end of WWII. He was told to come back to an office in civilian clothes for an interview. He was offered a full commission after earning a university degree. We have a map with pins inserted into the Bering Straits when he was the Senior Watch Officer on a submarine recording the propeller signatures of Russian warships.

    He was assigned to the ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) later he became an Assistant Naval Attaché in New Delhi. My dad and mom met a Russian diplomat on the embassy party circuit. That Russian diplomat was later assigned to the Russian Embassy in DC.

    The FBI sent agents to my dad’s office, he was working for a defense contractor, and at the same time sent agent’s to interview my mom, a housewife, and homemaker. When my mom was shown the photo of the Russian diplomat she told the two FBI agents that yes they knew him, and she said he was a high ranking member of the GRU, or the KGB. An agent asked her why she would say that. My mom’s reply was because he didn’t have a minder, he was the only member of the Russian Embassy that was allowed to drive himself around New Delhi.

    • #22
    • July 3, 2020, at 7:24 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  23. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Permit me to add some family history. My dad who enlisted in the Navy, and volunteered for the Submarine Service served in the Pacific during WWII. He was asked to come back to the Navy after the end of WWII. He was told to come back to an office in civilian clothes for an interview. He was offered a full commission after earning a university degree. We have a map with pins inserted into the Bering Straits when he was the Senior Watch Officer on a submarine recording the propeller signatures of Russian warships.

    He was assigned to the ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) later he became an Assistant Naval Attaché in New Delhi. My dad and mom met a Russian diplomat on the embassy party circuit. That Russian diplomat was later assigned to the Russian Embassy in DC.

    The FBI sent agents to my dad’s office, he was working for a defense contractor, and at the same time sent agent’s to interview my mom, a housewife, and homemaker. When my mom was shown the photo of the Russian diplomat she told the two FBI agents that yes they knew him, and she said he was a high ranking member of the GRU, or the KGB. An agent asked her why would you say that. My mom’s reply was because he didn’t have a minder, he was the only member of the Russian Embassy that was allowed to drive himself around New Delhi.

    What an interesting career! Lovely and reassuring to know those former GRU/KGB guys are running a lot of Russia’s most important political and business institutions. I remember reading in one of Robert Conquest’s books about how the NKVD, KGB, and all of their various successors/corollaries would recruit agents out of orphanages, the kids often having become parentless because of those very agencies and turned to psychopathic tendencies because of the violence and neglect endemic to the orphanages. You end up feeling a certain amount of sympathy for the people, unlike Putin, who became almost unwillingly entangled in that way of life. It was a cycle of state sponsored abuse that produced perfect little psychos with no social capital that could be offed at a moments notice.

    • #23
    • July 3, 2020, at 7:32 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  24. Zafar Member

    KirkianWanderer: I thought it would be fun to give this somewhat regular Russia centric report a name. Any ideas?

    Russki Newski

    • #24
    • July 3, 2020, at 9:18 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Zafar Member

    KirkianWanderer: Mao often took bold action when the situation internally in China was very bad (famines, mass purges, etc.) and Xi sees an opportunity to do the same at a time when China’s image on the world stage is very poor, and there is much fear internally because of the virus and the economic and social upsets that it has caused. 

    All leaders find external enemies useful to distract the population from failures at home and have them consolidate in support of us against them.

    Makes me think that they know Covid 19 and aftermath management in Russia, China and India will not reflect well on each Government and therefore its legitimacy.

    • #25
    • July 3, 2020, at 9:22 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Hang On Member
    Hang On Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Xi is playing to Chinese nationalism because things are going very badly internally. The Chinese economic miracle is not only at an end but its puffed up and inflated numbers are becoming obvious internally.

    Russia and India are close and have been since Indian independence. Goa is where middle class Russians go (ot at least went pre-Covid). Russian support of india over the border obviously has irked the Chinese especially since the Chinese have wound up not winning and too many dead Chinese.

    That Xi would now want to (or have to) turn his attention to Russia is a sign of desperation. You don’t turn on your energy and weapons supplier and expect to win. 

    India is going to try to bring the US and Russia together playing much the same role Pakistan played with the US and China.

    The neo-liberal world order is over and hopefully will be buried. Trying to give life to that corpse isn’t to the US advantage. The EU will either perish or adjust to the reality they are no longer of much significance.

    • #26
    • July 3, 2020, at 9:50 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  27. kedavis Member

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer: I thought it would be fun to give this somewhat regular Russia centric report a name. Any ideas?

    The Russia Report

    Moscow’s Mirror

    From West to East

    Through Ivan’s Eyes

    Archangel Analysis or Arkhangelsk Analysis?

    They’re all so good, I’ll have to think on it.

    How about The Battle Between Trump’s Masters? Just to tweak some of the people on Ricochet.

    • #27
    • July 4, 2020, at 4:17 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer

    kedavis (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer: I thought it would be fun to give this somewhat regular Russia centric report a name. Any ideas?

    The Russia Report

    Moscow’s Mirror

    From West to East

    Through Ivan’s Eyes

    Archangel Analysis or Arkhangelsk Analysis?

    They’re all so good, I’ll have to think on it.

    How about The Battle Between Trump’s Masters? Just to tweak some of the people on Ricochet.

    Also very clever. There are few things I admire less than a tendency towards embracing authoritarians, especially ones with as much blood on their hands as Xi and Putin.

    • #28
    • July 4, 2020, at 4:18 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. kedavis Member

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer: I thought it would be fun to give this somewhat regular Russia centric report a name. Any ideas?

    The Russia Report

    Moscow’s Mirror

    From West to East

    Through Ivan’s Eyes

    Archangel Analysis or Arkhangelsk Analysis?

    They’re all so good, I’ll have to think on it.

    How about The Battle Between Trump’s Masters? Just to tweak some of the people on Ricochet.

    Also very clever. There are few things I admire less than a tendency towards embracing authoritarians, especially ones with as much blood on their hands as Xi and Putin.

    A lot depends on whether you think anyone is actually being “embraced” or maybe just flattered/manipulated towards certain goals.

    • #29
    • July 4, 2020, at 4:48 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  30. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer

    kedavis (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer: I thought it would be fun to give this somewhat regular Russia centric report a name. Any ideas?

    The Russia Report

    Moscow’s Mirror

    From West to East

    Through Ivan’s Eyes

    Archangel Analysis or Arkhangelsk Analysis?

    They’re all so good, I’ll have to think on it.

    How about The Battle Between Trump’s Masters? Just to tweak some of the people on Ricochet.

    Also very clever. There are few things I admire less than a tendency towards embracing authoritarians, especially ones with as much blood on their hands as Xi and Putin.

    A lot depends on whether you think anyone is actually being “embraced” or maybe just flattered/manipulated towards certain goals.

    Great point, you’re right. Ego plays a bigger role than any substantive values. 

    • #30
    • July 4, 2020, at 4:56 AM PDT
    • 3 likes