PUTIN IN PEKING: THE FOREIGN POLICY OF STUPIDITY
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Hu Jintao have instructed their governments to draw up proposals by fall to expand bilateral cooperation between their countries in the oil and gas sectors, Russia's foreign minister said on Wednesday. The prime ministers of the two nations will meet in fall this year to discuss the proposals, Sergei Lavrov told journalists in Beijing. Putin is in the middle of his three-day visit to Beijing to bolster bilateral ties. The leaders also pledged cooperation in aviation, space and information technologies, Lavrov added". "Russia, China to 'Expand Oil, Gas Cooperation'". Novesti. 6 June 2012, in www.en.rian.ru.
"Russia and China have pledged to give priority to development of bilateral ties and to oppose foreign intervention in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in China Tuesday for a three-day visit expected to focus on the Middle East, energy cooperation and regional trade policy. Mr. Putin, who is making his first trip to Asia since starting his third term as president last month, met with Chinese President Hu Jintao soon after his arrival. Mr. Hu announced their agreement at a joint press conference. “China and Russia will strengthen our bilateral support and cooperation, and improve our long-standing relationship. We will strengthen our strategic cooperation on international issues, work together for the revitalization of both our countries, and safeguard the peace, stability and security of the region.” Mr. Hu also said the two countries will increase military cooperation. In terms of economy, Russia and China hope to sign agreements aimed at boosting bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015 during Mr. Putin's visit. The Russian leader said the trade between the two countries has been increasing and that the goal will be reached. “Bilateral trade between Russia and China increased by 40 percent in 2011…” (pauses for Chinese interpreter translation) “… and I firmly believe that the goal we've set for bilateral trade in 2015 and 2020 will be achieved.'""Russia, China Pledge to Boost ties on Trade, Foreign Policy, Military." Voice of America. 5th of June 2012, in www.voanews.com. The papers show that Grazhdanin Putin is in Peking for both the Shanghai Summit and for bilateral talks between Russia and China. As one can see from the above referenced reports, as well as a story in yesterday's Financial Times, the Chinese pursuit of Russian energy resources and other raw materials continues apace. With the two countries setting-up a 'joint fund', to invest in Russian hard assets, such as 'timber, logistics and agriculture', also mentioned as possibilities are 'ports and infrustructure' 1. Also mentioned of course is that both countries remained united in endeavoring to 'set the global political and economic order in a more fair and rational direction' 2. In view of the fact, that for quite some time to come, the only country on the face of the planet who: i) Russia has fought a conventional war with (admittedly undeclared and for a short duration)since September 1945; ii) and who has an overt interest in lands lying within the borders of the current Russian Federation, is of course the PRC, makes the mere fact of Putin's policies not only currently, but for some time past, difficult to fathom. Indeed, if one were inclined to employ vulgar sloganeering, one would characterize the current Russian President as a super-sized Neville Chamberlain. Except of course that Chamberlain made sure to appease Hitler and Mussolini with other countries assets and not his own. Putin of course has improved upon the original. Ergo the title of this piece: the foreign policy of stupidity. Just how wrong-headed this stance is, can be revealed by the fact, that the PRC's policies vis-`a-vis Moskva follows precisely the same pattern of policies that Russia / Soviet Union under Graf Witte and Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, followed towards Peking. Endeavoring to utilize a very close relationship with a weaker partner, in order to exploit the latter, economically speaking. As Graf Witte put it in language which one would almost think comes straight from a communique of the recent talks between the two powers:
"our aim was to achieve this end [Russian investments and concessions in the Manchu Empire] by peaceful means for the mutual benefit of all parties concerned 3".The fact that Grazhdanin Putin is seemingly ignorant of the less than positive future for matushka Russia, which his policies vis-`a-vis Peking are leading can only be put down to his obsession with the fact that Sovietskaya Vlast lost the Cold War. A result so he thinks of needless appeasement of the Western powers by then Soviet leader Gorbachev. In short, his own version of the 'Dolchstosslegende' ('stab in the back' legend) 4. Since, the PRC was a bystander to the implosion of Sovietskaya Vlast, and indeed is ruled by a regime which au fond is a much more successful version of Sovietskaya Vlast, Putin's willingness to appease the latter appears to know no bounds. What may you ask will be the ultimate end-game in ten to twenty years hence, presuming that Putin's policies towards the PRC are not changed? Simply put, Russia's isolation as a great power and ultimately another Tartar Yoke. As the British academic, David Kerr recently wrote on this score:
"As China looms larger on its Asian frontiers, Russia may not only experience pressure on its sphere of autonomy, but may feel increasingly exposed trying to deal with China in a space that requires it to be detached from the West. In essence, China's rise will change the frontiers between East and West, and may force Russia to conclude that its belief it could stand apart from the West was something of an illusion" 5.1. Kathrin Hille & Jamil Anderlini, "Russia and China to Strengthen trade ties." The Financial Times. 6 June 2012, in www.ft.com. 2. Ibid. See also: Leader, "United in distrust." The Financial Times. 6 June 2012, in www.ft.com. 3. Graf Witte. The Memoirs of Count Witte. Edited and Translated by Sydney Harcave. (1990), p. 229. 4.Field-Marshal von Hindenberg, The Great War. Edited and Translated by Charles Messenger. (2006), pp. 184-185 and passim. First published in 1920. This particular passage was one of the earliest examples of this rather horrid genre. 5.David Kerr, "Central Asian/Russian perspectives on China's emergence." International Affairs (January 2010), pp. 127-152, the quote is on page 152. See also the following observations from perhaps the premier, English language scholar dealing with Russian foreign policy, Dmitri Trenin, whose observations on this topic lose nothing by way of topicality by virtue of being a few years old: "Although Russian-Chinese collaboration is growing-as within the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization]-China is emerging as the state driving the bilateral agenda. For the first time in 300 year, China is more powerful and dynamic than Russia--and it can back up its economic and security interests with hefty infusions of cash". See: Dmitri Trenin, "Russia Reborn." Foreign Affairs. (November / December 2009), p. 73.