What’s really behind Putin’s invasion (?)

“It is best to see Putin not as some nostalgic madmen seeking to reconstitute the Soviet Empire, but as a clear-eyed mobster using his military might to expand his crime syndicate’s business relationships by cozying up to the growing economic powerhouse that is Xi’s China. Note also that China has enormous investments in Ukraine and would benefit from an even greater stake there.

“So, Putin controls enough petroleum resources, minerals and wheat to guarantee Xi’s conveyor belts can keep humming. At the same time, even a Chinese feint toward Taiwan may be enough to cause the United States and NATO to falter in Ukraine and relieve pressure on Putin’s forces there or be able to yield a negotiated settlement that is favorable to Moscow.”

The Russia-China relationship marries China?s mercantile business model with Russian President Vladimir Putin?s mercenary military.

China can’t save Russia’s economy

The NYT: “To help Russia evade sanctions, China would have to offer a viable substitute to the American dollar. But Chinese money — the renminbi — is barely used outside of China. Only 3 percent of the world’s business is done using the redback. Even Russia and China conduct their trade mostly in U.S. dollars and euros.

“What’s more, the risks of helping Russia avoid economic ruin may be greater for China than any possible reward. Much of China’s own economy depends on the U.S. dollar and the financial edifice that underpins it. Chinese companies are active around the globe, using the American financial system to pay employees, buy materials and make investments. China is the world’s largest exporter, and is paid for its goods mainly in dollars.

“Should Beijing run afoul of the sanctions against Russia, China’s own financial stability would be put at risk at a time when its leaders have emphasized caution. And besides, the few lifelines that Chinese leaders could feasibly offer Russia would not be strong enough to help the country survive a financial blackout from the United States and its allies.”

A reminder from the past

A constant talking point on the right is that Donald Trump is strong and would never have permitted Putin to invade Ukraine. Their past relationship demonstrates the absurdity of this and we should remind ourselves of it.

The two leaders' wishes for closer relations have been thwarted -- for now.