The Russian army on one side and the Chinese navy at the very other side of the Asian continent are increasing tensions in a buildup where any accidental miscalculation can lead to a very dangerous situation.
Just a century after the then world at peace buzzing with international trade quickly led in just one month to a cascade of alliances where everyone declared war on everyone, the world nears a concert once again where for the first time America is tested on two fronts by its two main rivals.
Or we’re forgetting that history doesn’t repeat, it only rhymes, with any tension far more likely to be localized, and having a different nature at the two edges.
Ships from the Gulf to and from China go through that gap between Indonesia and Malaysia, turning at Singapore and up the sea, in the middle of which there is a speck of tiny islands controlled by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and China.
It is there or near there, kind of in the middle, where there are now a lot of war ships, including the featured image where the US navy is watching a Chinese ship.
That’s how close they all are, and now a Vietnamese ship has gone in, while today apparently some 25 Chinese air force planes entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.
That’s an almost daily occurrence, with Chine here clearly dominant, but only where its navy is concerned.
Its air force appears to be equal to just a few surrounding countries, with a theoretical war between China and all its sea neighbours looking like pretty much an equal match.
Against any one of them, however, China is far stronger. United, their sea neighbours have the upper hand where numbers are concerned, and this is before even accounting for the United States or India.
However their sea neighbours do not have any formal alliance, and thus China gets to have the initiative with America and the rest just watching while China seemingly tries its best to get more and more control of that middle area without provoking an actual reaction.
This is probably where the real ‘diplomacy’ on the ground is occurring, with the propaganda one being this incursion in Taiwan’s air identification zone to send the message to all their neighbours that they’re too small and too weak and can be gobbled up, so keep just watching, including you American captains.
Not that arguably they can do much, like that Turkish boat browbeating the French one off the coast of Libya, because China has a lot more boats there and it sounds like its neighbours are more individually reacting than collectively strategizing.
Presumably China wouldn’t quite want the latter, so they probably won’t do anything that is actually unacceptable to any neighbouring country. They’ll instead just keep on extending and consolidating their claims, while the rest just watch or get on a table to stand as one voice.
Where Taiwan itself is concerned, it’s not clear why China would want to bother with a full escalation when the threat of it probably serves them better to wolf at the other neighbours.
The unspoken question is of course whether China is even wrong in what it is doing where these speky islands are concerned, but that must be answered in a civilized way on a table, and maybe the only way to get to such table is if the rest unites.
In the meantime you’d think this tension must have led to some consideration among the citizenry towards protecting their own wealth, with bitcoin potentially a good store of value in such instances.
That applies arguably more so at the other side of the continent, with the situation here already semi-hot as another Ukrainian soldier was killed yesterday by Russian backed forces, the 27th this year so far.
Apparently 80,000 Russian troops are at the border or in Crimea, with Russia stating they have no intention to attack but they might go in if the Russian backed forces in Donbas are attacked by Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s spokeswoman Yulia Mendel has said the country has no plans for a military offensive in what Ukrainian media calls “the Russia-occupied part of Donbas.”
“But another thing is Russia,” she said. “The entire world is now speaking about the buildup of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. A total of 40,000 Russian troops have already been deployed along the eastern border, the same number is in occupied Crimea. And now the question is whether Russia could attack? Yes, it could – and we saw this in 2014.”
If anything happens obviously they’ll blame each other regarding who started it, and considering another Ukrainian soldier was killed, the general public will probably conclude the Russian backed forces started it.
Russian media appears to be panicking a little bit. Their narrative seems to be if the Russian backed forces are attacked, Russian troops will get involved, Nato will go in, and then where does it end?
Well by international law it ends where Ukraine’s borders end which includes Crimea. So the big question is of course whether Russia is bluffing where Donbas is concerned. Would Putin really go in?
He didn’t go in in Armenia, although a similar number of Russian troops was at the time at the border with Armenia. He didn’t go in most likely because, what if he loses?
Losing at your own borders is of course quite different than in some far away country. He can of course die on that hill as the saying goes, put in more troops, but at what level would then places like Siberia – where there have been small revolts – be left a bit undefended.
The situation thus can be very dangerous for Russia because it can’t afford to lose, and yet war is a gamble.
One way to not lose is to not go in into Ukraine. From Russia’s point of view of course doing all they can to keep control of Donbas is just natural, so trying to cower Ukraine to not take control of its own territory is just basic ‘diplomacy.’
Yet if faced with a decision, it is difficult to see why – considering all the risks – they wouldn’t just let Donbas fall to ensure they keep Crimea, at least for now.