Asia's Troubling Choices over Ukraine
No good options
By: Asia Sentinel Correspondents
Asia’s two most important countries – China and India – both face deeply troubling choices over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. China’s stated policy of the sanctity of borders is in direct conflict with what Putin’s military is doing on the road to Kyiv. China became Ukraine's biggest trading partner in 2019, with analysts estimating today's two-way trade between US$10 billion and US$20 billion annually. It is building wind power plants, agricultural projects, and transport infrastructure across Ukraine — infrastructure now in deep danger of being destroyed. The level of violence brings home what China could face if it invaded an equally unwilling polity across the Taiwan Strait.
Similarly, India, cautiously moving away from its decades-old alignment with Moscow toward the Quadrilateral Dialog peopled with the United States, Australia and Japan, nonetheless is one of Moscow’s biggest purchasers of defense equipment. It has little reason to trust the United States, whose relationship with Islamabad goes back to Henry Kissinger’s ‘tilt’ toward Pakistan goes back to the breakup of the bifurcated nation into Bangladesh and Pakistan in 1971.
Despite dismay in both Beijing and Delhi at the unprecedented invasion of a sovereign country, the first in Europe since 1939, both capitals have trade, energy, military, diplomatic and other reasons to hold their noses and stick with Moscow. Asia Sentinel correspondents take an intensive look at what the implications are for both.
China Caught in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict
No good alternatives
By: Salman Rafi Sheikh
With Ukraine on the verge of falling to the Russian forces within the next few days, Europe’s geopolitical landscape is changing dramatically. However, while Europe faces a war that could easily expand into other parts of the continent, countries like China, which have deep ties with both Russia and Ukraine and have economic stakes in Europe and the US, are equally in the line of fire.
An indication of China’s caution is the release on Xinhua of a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on February 26 in which Xi told Putin that China supports Russia and Ukraine to resolve the issue through negotiation. China's basic position on respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter is consistent, Xi told Putin.
Thus, developing a policy that could help Beijing walk the fine line on multiple fronts simultaneously is a major challenge for China’s policymakers, testing their ability to act as a major global power in a time of extreme crisis…
Russia's Ukraine Invasion Backfires in Beijing
A lesson in what lies at Putin’s ‘dark heart’
By: Our Correspondent
Social media in China clearly indicates a divided public response over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The extremes, as far as they are allowed, range between admiration and sympathy for a people fighting for their independence and those most ardent Chinese nationalists urging Russia on as a way of goading Beijing to consider a similar war for the recovery of lost empire, notably Taiwan.
Neither of these approaches is particularly welcome in Beijing, whose support for Russia has been half-hearted and addressed through such obvious untruths as denying there really had been a mass invasion and implying that there had been a real NATO threat to Russia.
On the one hand, Beijing cannot easily go back on its recognition of Ukraine as a sovereign country which should have secure borders. But on the other, any attempt at taking Taiwan would attract the same opprobrium in Asia as Russia has done in Europe. Anyway, China is not yet powerful enough to take Taiwan without huge suffering and economic chaos.
Beijing has also been given a lesson in what lies at the dark heart of the Russian leader. The invasion is not the work of a skilled strategist with the limited goal to shore up Russia’s position vis a vis the west by making an uneasy alliance with Xi Jinping. This is the Russian, the former KGB operative, who mourns the breakup of the Soviet Union. In other words, he mourns not just the passing of the Communist Party but of the empire put together by the Tsars over the two hundred or so years before the 1917 revolution…
India's Russia Links Put Ukraine Condemnation on Hold
Biden to decide on India sanctions for Russia missile system order
By: John Elliott
“If Modi speaks to Putin, we are hopeful he will respond,” Igor Polikha, the Ukrainian ambassador to Delhi said on February 24 as Russian troops massed on his country’s borders, ready to strike.
“We are highly appreciative of India’s deep understanding of the current situation as well as the reasons that led to it. We expect India to support Russia at the UN Security Council,” Russia’s Charge d’affaires Roman Babushkin said in Delhi on February 25.
Neither diplomat had his way as India negotiated its approach for a UN Security Council meeting on the evening of the 25th. Vladimir Putin of course did not withdraw his massed armies as Polikha hoped, nor did India vote in favor of the Ukraine invasion as Russia wanted.
Instead, India abstained, as it is expected to do in a meeting of the full UN General Assembly. China and the UAE also abstained on the 25th from the UN draft resolution. “Deploring in the strongest terms Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” the resolution called on Russia to “immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine.”…