How Xi Jinping saved the Russian army from defeat in Ukraine

中国领导人习近平在北京会晤到访的俄罗斯总统普京。(2023年10月17日)

Since Putin ordered a brazen invasion of Ukraine last February, Russia has been hit with a series of tough sanctions from the European Union, the United States, Canada and other countries. But Xi Jinping still calls Russia a strategic ally and provides overt and covert aid to the aggressors. Clear assistance is geopolitical support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Less obvious is the implicit material assistance provided by the PRC to the Russian occupation forces in Ukraine and the military industry in Russia.

Everyone saw that the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian army was advancing more slowly than everyone expected. As it turned out, China’s material support of Russia allowed Putin to maintain his military machine and seriously complicated Ukraine’s large-scale counteroffensive against the Russian occupation forces.

Xi Jinping is helping Moscow very cautiously. He avoided crossing the red line – he does not give Russia lethal weapons.

However, the massive export of construction equipment, machinery and industrial products from China to Russia is the key to maintaining the operational efficiency of the Russian military industry. Vladimir Putin visited Beijing last month to participate in the Belt and Road Forum (formerly Belt and Road) and meet with Xi Jinping.

State trade data compiled by the Atlantic Council, a major US think tank, shows a sharp increase in Russian imports of Chinese-made dual-use goods. These materials played an important role in strengthening the positions of the Russian army of occupation in Ukraine.

The German business publication IntelliNews reported that the vast majority of materials imported by Russia from China are legal trade and are not subject to international sanctions against Russia.

But Chinese-made construction equipment helped the Russian army strengthen its defensive positions in the early stages of the Russian-Ukrainian war, especially in the construction of powerful fortifications.

The export of Chinese equipment to Russia prevented the defeat of the Russian army.

In August and September 2022, Ukraine made significant progress in countering Russian aggression, especially in the Kharkiv region. Faced with disaster, the Russian army began to build defensive positions. They established the so-called “Surovikin line” (in command of the occupying forces).

“In September, exports of excavators from China to Russia more than tripled compared to last year, which coincided with the construction of the Surovikin Line,” the Atlantic Council said in a statement.

The report also suggests that Russia’s large-scale import of Chinese equipment, including heavy-duty trucks, could help Russian military factories produce the equipment needed to support its combat capabilities and logistical supply lines.

Interpol issued an arrest warrant for Putin on charges of terrorism. Along with Putin, an arrest warrant was also issued to the president’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. As Reuters notes, according to the arrest warrant, Putin and Lvova-Belova can be arrested and transferred to the ICC in any of the 123 countries that have ratified the Rome Statute.

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