Has Putin sold Russia to China to survive the war?

Putin has finally agreed to sell Russia to China. The Kremlin dictator has put everything at stake in his paranoid and insane plan to seize Ukraine. And all of this refers to Russia, or parts of it. The Russian Federation, as a state, will almost certainly not survive the war. At the same time, thousands of Russian men will be mobilized and sent to certain death in the Himars strikes in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Chinese presence in eastern Russia is growing, and it is strengthening its influence.

Putin gives China territories for support attempting to avoid a war defeat

Putin has received China’s supplies and economic backing to avoid losing the battle soon. China, though, is not being charitable. It should also be remembered that officially, in the international arena, China declares its neutrality and calls for peace. Beijing’s policy is clever. Xi Jinping has exploited Putin’s precarious position to acquire geopolitical and strategic-historical gains from his reckless war.

And China will take away Russia’s most valuable asset: huge regions in the east and their resources. As a result, in Russia’s war against Ukraine, it is currently being determined which part of the Russian Federation will survive in future Russia – solely its European portion up to the Urals? Or will the federal states be disintegrated into distinct republics? 

China will take control of such entities in eastern Russia in this case. The scenario is well known. In a similar way that Moscow employed the Donbas proxy republics, the DPR and LPR.

Only this time, the republics will be real and will not need to be created because the Russian Federation’s regions genuinely want to separate from Moscow, use their natural resources for development rather than enriching Gazprom executives, and not send their soldiers to die for Putin’s maniacal concepts. 

China-Russia relationship during Russia’s war as seen by the artist

Such initiatives for independence of regions of modern Russia have been already launched. For example, one of the Forum of Free Nations of Post-Russia goals is a controlled dismantling of the last colonial and bellicose empire, the Russian Federation, and giving independence to indigenous people and regions. 

Post-Russia reconstruction will include de-imperialization, decolonization, demilitarization, and denuclearization of the modern Russian state. The ultimate goal is the collapse of the empire, which is currently waging a war of conquest against Ukraine. From the European perspective, the dissolution of the Russian Federation is far less dangerous than leaving it ruled by criminals, according to Anna Fotyga, a Polish member of the European Parliament.

Furthermore, friendly China is close and will use its military forces to help to ensure security in the eastern Russian regions during the upcoming turmoil there.

As a result, mobilized Russians will die in Ukraine for the sake of China’s interests. In exchange for backing Putin’s military agenda, Beijing will gain large territory liberated from Russia’s mobilized male population, who will perish in the dictator’s absurd war game.

Why has Putin sold Russia to China?

Shortly before the invasion of Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing for the Winter Olympics to declare his comprehensive friendship with Xi Jinping. However, it is already clear who is the superpower in this duo today. China’s $18 trillion economy is 10 times larger than Russia’s. Beijing has the best cards in relations with Russia in any financial situation.

And since Russia is suffering a rapid economic decline due to sanctions and the oil embargo that Europe has adopted, China remains Putin’s only potential life savior. 

Russia is a loser of the 2022 year in geopolitics due to Putin’s failed war against Ukraine. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine deprived the Kremlin of almost all his allies and forced him to agree to depend on Xi Jinping.

Read also: Russia collapse or coup against Putin: what scenario is more likely?

One of the best historians and researchers of Eastern Europe, Timothy Snyder, told NV in an interview how he thinks Russian dictator Vladimir Putin will enter the history as the man who sold Russia to China.

“I think Vladimir Putin will be remembered as an oligarch among other oligarchs, as the man who sold his country to China. As the president who buried Russia’s chances of becoming a normal country,” Snyder said.

In one year of Russian aggression against Ukraine, expectations that Beijing would use its influence over Moscow to play a constructive role in ending the war have yet to materialize. China looks at the Russian-Ukrainian war solely through the prism of its confrontation with the United States. Beijing is ready to make the most of its backing of Putin’s absurd actions.

Now more than ever, Russia is looking for new markets. China is the primary sales market for Russian energy resources in any case. Where could Moscow sell the gas that used to be sold to Europe? 

Vladimir Putin called on Chinese President Xi Jinping in online conversations to increase bilateral military cooperation. After the invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s unprecedented international isolation, China has become a key ally for Moscow. Still, Beijing has shown no reciprocal enthusiasm for this and has shown a neutral stance on the war in Ukraine.

The New York Times describes Xi and Putin talks as a meeting of two leaders who “find themselves in a weak position, burdened by geopolitical and economic threats. “Both have little room to maneuver, making their relationship even more important, though much more complicated.”

In his traditionally flippant way, Xi Jinping responded that Beijing, “in the face of a complex and far from an ambiguous international situation”, is ready to step up strategic cooperation with Moscow, BBC reported.

Putin has invited Xi Jinping to Moscow in the spring of 2023. The Chinese leader did not respond in his speech.

The FT writes that China “now understands the likelihood that Russia will not succeed in defeating Ukraine” and that Russia will emerge from the war as a “secondary power”, which, according to Chinese officials, has weakened considerably economically and diplomatically on the world stage. 

In this situation, the Chinese government sees a great opportunity to exploit a weakened Russian state and capture rich natural resources and territories. 

China is playing its own geopolitical and economic game

The media reported that China is supplying Russia with arms components, according to NBS. These may be weapons samples, which are disassembled into repair kits. “China is using Russia as leverage against Europe and the United States. 

“Whether Russians like it or not, China is pursuing its policy. In this case, it benefits from Russia’s support to have a firm position in negotiations with the United States,” Ukrainian military expert Oleg Zhdanov said in an interview with Channel 24.

China’s support against the backdrop of the biggest confrontation with the West since the Cold War allows Putin to present Russia’s isolation by European countries as a U-turn toward Asia.

But the partnership has a limitation: China is careful not to provide Russia with direct material support, lest it fall under secondary sanctions from the West.

Selling oil and gas to Europe has been one of Russia’s primary sources of foreign exchange earnings since Soviet geologists discovered oil and gas in the swamps of Siberia decades after World War II.

Now Putin sells more to China, the world’s largest energy consumer. China is Russia’s largest oil buyer. China’s purchases of oil, liquefied natural gas, coal, and electricity from Russia have increased.

Limitations and Chinese benefits in “borderless” relationship with Russia

Xi shares Putin’s hostility toward the West and NATO, but that does not mean he will want to engage in charity work. Xi’s primary strategic concern is China’s prosperity and security, not Russia’s salvation. 

Beijing will buy some of the oil that was supposed to go to Europe but at a huge discount. China will only help Russia to the extent that it will not impose sanctions against it and will not jeopardize its trade arrangements with the US and the EU.

At the same time, this seemingly “borderless” relationship still has severe limitations. At least for now, China assures Western countries that it does not sell Russian weapons or aircraft parts. Beijing does not want to get on the sanctions list, so it has established certain limits in its relations with Russia. 

Even more alarming for the Russians is that China has increased the fee for its support. And Beijing demands territories with its resources. 

What does it mean for Russians and Kremlin agents?

This development means that ordinary Russians must start seriously thinking about the nearest future, not Putin’s absurd imperialistic assault on Ukraine. Now, it’s up to Russians to decide what will remain from Russia after the state collapse or China’s de-facto annexation of some territories. The sooner Russians stop the senseless and self-destructive war against Ukraine, the more men population will preserve to rebuild the country in the post-Putin era.

Moscow’s sad fate and China’s expansionist attitude towards Russian territory must also worry pro-Kremlin speakers, media analysts, and Western politicians. Many far-right and far-left political figures in Europe can finance their activities thanks to funding from the Kremlin. 

As Russia will soon have no money for informational operations and disinformation campaigns abroad, the life of “agents of influence” will become problematic. Already some of them turn to pro-China rhetoric from pro-Moscow, feeling the real geopolitical power and expecting a shift. 

But the best way for them in France, Germany, and Italy would be to think about the interests of united Europe, not those of foreign geopolitical powers.

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