by Salman Rafi Sheikh, …with New Eastern Outlook, Moscow, …and the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a research institution for the study of the countries and cultures of Asia and North Africa.

[ Editor’s Note: Biden and Blinken have launched at new foreign policy ploy that seems to have come to them in a dream, if it is as Rafi Sheikh poses, a ploy to wean Russia away from China. I would qualify that a fantasy on steroids.

The Biden regime has basically admitted this, claiming that the US needs it own New Silk Road, a silly conception. Trump has already done the revised NAFTA that all parties seem content with.

Biden has already launched his massive infrastructure plan, which will only be partially funded at best. So are we to believe that he is also going to launch an American Silk Road follow up? I would say this is a ‘you just can’t make this shit up’ moment.

A more pragmatic and understandable rationalization is that Biden wants to bury Trump’s anti-EU jihad under yards of concrete. Why? It is because Biden has to have the EU fully onboard its China jihad.

And it is a freebie. By that I mean the US under Trump thinking it was going to be able to blackmail a long time ally, by appointing itself as the Grand Pooh Bah decider of the EU’s long term energy security was a humiliation that it could never accept. So it rode out the Trump regime’s self destructive policies to a new administration.

Before Russia breaks with China, the whole Trump family and his gang will all be battling their convictions for multiple criminal felonies. The other curve ball is that the EU is not on board kissing off trade with China while it is still in the midst of having done so with Russia, where it once had a $100 billion annual surplus. Count the years now that they have lost that.

Yet the EU has its own silliness problems by not realizing that moving NATO up to the Russian border to bring in the last European countries will just add a few more criminal states to the EU mix. To even call this a geo-political strategy is a smear on the use of the word.

Ukraine has some of the most ruthless criminals in Europe frothing at the bit to pounce on the rest of Europe. Any leadership facilitating such an onslaught should be deposed as an act of survivalJim W. Dean ]

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First published … June 03, 2021

When the US president Joe Biden recently waived sanctions on the company overseeing the Nord Stream 2 project, it came as a surprise to many. The decision was largely seen as the Biden administration’s way to ‘normalise’ US ties with Germany after their bi-lateral relations having been very consistently torpedoed by the Trump administration.

But the question that is not being asked is: why would the Biden administration take this step at a time when the pro-Nord Stream2 leader of Germany, Angela Merkel, is about to retire from politics in September, and when its successor candidate, especially from the opposition Green party, does not share her enthusiasm and political support for the project?

As it stands, Annalena Baerbock, the environmentalist Greens’ candidate, said the pipeline issue was “about war and peace”, arguing that Nord Stream 2 risks undermining Ukraine’s security. Therefore, wouldn’t it be logical for the Biden administration to wait for Merkel’s departure and the arrival of a fresh leader, possibly from the Green party, to permanently kill the Nord Stream 2 project?

The Biden administration has taken a different approach, one that is not necessarily about the US relations with Germany, but mainly about how the US can redefine its relations with Russia in ways that could wean the latter away from the Chinese, allowing the US a better strategic position to tackle its most powerful global adversary (China).

In other words, by offering Russia a leeway and greater economic presence in Europe, the Biden administration is looking to break the Russia-China axis.

In its 2020 worldwide threat assessment to Congress, the US intelligence community had stated that “China and Russia are more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s.” And, one of the reasons that has been driving them closer is the US sanctions.

For instance, in as early as March 2021, when Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, met his counterpart Wang Yi in China, they spoke of efforts to build “technological independence” and bypass western financial systems that the US uses to sanction them.

This explain why the Biden administration, which started off as being ‘tough’ on Russia, has changed its Russia policy, realising that sanctions have only brought its two greatest rivals closer, as a means to break the inner strength of these ties.

Accordingly, when the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently met his Russian counterpart, the atmosphere prevailing in the meeting was completely different from the one that defined the US-China Anchorage meeting in which both sides primarily exchanged verbal hostilities and barbs.

Lavrov, on the contrary, described the Reykjavik dialogue as “constructive”, while Blinken stressed that the world would be safer if Moscow and Washington “can work together cooperatively”. The atmosphere was also in complete contrast to the way the recently held G7 summit blamed Russia for its “irresponsible and destabilising” behaviour. What explains this shift?

While this is not to suggest that a fundamental change of heart has taken place in the US about Russia, it remains that there is an increasing sense in the US about redefining the estranged Russia-US relations since the 2014 Ukraine affair. Russia’s estrangement with the West has been concomitant with Russia’s growing ties with China.

With the latter consistently defying the US and not showing any willingness to ‘respect’ or accept the US’ political, economic and technological domination of the word, it becomes logical for the US to devise a strategy that could wean China’s most powerful ally away from it. The sanctions waiver, therefore, is an “olive branch” the US has offered to Moscow.

Therefore, if one of the primary reasons for the increasingly deep Russia-China relations is their shared view of the West as a hostile alliance against both of them, the US, by allowing Nord Stream 2 to complete, is looking to give a message of ‘friendship’ to Russia. In simple words, the US aims to deprive Russia-China relations of the underlying logic that has been keeping them together.

Therefore, by weaning Russia away from the Chinese, the US and NATO can more specifically focus on the ‘China threat.’ The strategy of indirectly encouraging a wedge between Russia and China fits well into the ‘new age of conflict’ the US is looking to start vis-à-vis China.

Mainstream media in the US, accordingly, is already fanning out ‘rivalry’ between China and Russia. A very recently published report in The Washington Post describes the China-Russia state of affairs as mutually antagonistic, with Moscow having “more to fear from Beijing than Washington.”

According to this report, Russia’s “fear” of China makes it possible for the West to “enlist Moscow as a silent but meaningful partner in the global campaign to curb the pernicious aspects of the Chinese Communist Party’s international influence.”

Could this be, at least for Joe Biden, the main agenda for his June meeting with Vladimir Putin? There can hardly be any doubt about how much the US wants to defeat the Chinese rise to global pre-eminence. Accordingly, there can hardly be any doubt about the US not seeking to dislodge the core foundation of Russia-China ties by making at least one of them a ‘friend of the West.’

Will the Russians take the bait? It seems highly unlikely. But, for the US, this strategy appears to be attractive enough to be tried. While it may not yield the desired results, the US seems to have calculated that pursuing this path is unlikely to yield any potential or real cost, and that it can easily revert to its ‘sanctions model’ as and when needed.

For the Russians, however, it is not only the anti-Chinese political expediency underlying the US’ friendly posture that makes US advances not only less reliable and prone to disruption, but the fact that a host of other contentious issues continue to remain unresolved between the US and Russia make an overnight strategic shift in Russia towards the US a wishful thinking only.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. I read this as an admission of failure. To continue this line ad infinitum would only serve to highlight the animosity they were engendering…which only served to drive further division between the US and the European states…not necessarily the ‘EU’. This ploy too will fail. Russian and Chinese leadership are not stupid and will use this to show US weakness, which they will undoubtedly emphasize as the defeat of unilateralism.

  2. There is truths in Jim W. Dean article above.
    But, Russia and China have seen what USA and its Western allies have done and capable of doing to achieve hegemony for their own benefits.
    Russia and China relation now is technically unbreakable. Both are dependent on each other, and both knows that USA will do it utmost to throw a spanner or two into their relationship.
    NS2 is a done deal with or without US sanctions. So, lifting sanction now is just a side show. It will not change Russian calculations. NATO build ups around Russian borders ain’t making Russia more accommodating to USA efforts.
    There are more top-level engagement between Chinese and Russian minister. Xi and Putin have more face to face meeting than any statesman in the world.
    So, it will be a useless exercise to spoils Sino-Russian relations.

    • Amen on all this. There is a huge contractor supply chain of grifters that want as much chaos, threats, including totally manufactured ones as possible, as it is good for business. As long as Congress permanently gets cut in for a nice slice of the grift I cannot see how we can change it. Even the security orgs see the tensions as a continued employment well spring.

    • Right-O Victor and Jim, the Russian and Chinese militaries’ total focus is on what’s good for Russia and China.
      The U.S. military budget is seen as a cash cow to be milked for one boondoggle and futile excursion after another.

  3. “…therefore, is an “olive branch” the US has offered to Moscow….”

    US instead of offered an olive branch it should be searching a fig leaf to cover himself himself

  4. Reality is the US “did” the Ukraine Coup and ethnic Russian genocide in Ukraine, but it failed to bring fascist Ukraine and NATO armies right up to the border with Russian Federation, and Putin pulled the obvious counter chess move; he took Crimea.
    It would of been a huge military victory if Crimea was now in the hands of NATO, not Russia….but it didnt happen – NATO and the US lost the war in Ukraine.
    Biden was in charge of it during Obama years, now he is in power and “whats he going to do now?” Start another war there?
    Reality again, is Russia’s precise missle defense will destroy any tank columns trying to over-run Russian villages this time, and Russian drones and fighter planes would rule the airspace too there is nothing the US fed-fascists in Ukraine can do anymore but maybe blow up the bridge to Crimea with a mini-nuke (they already tried that) but thats not going to win any war it would just be a futile show of force, thats all they got left there. So Biden pulls out the no-sanctions card, one easily stuck back into the deck too. And the gesture laughed at in Moscow and Beijing. Pathetic really. Nordstream2 was going through with or without sanctions anyways.

    • ps: Russia should take full advantage of the fake smiles and camaraderie and take back what it can. When the US wants something in return, present the US with the finger.

  5. I agree that this “Unsanctionoing move is calm the turbulent waters of U.S. Russian dialogue prior to the Biden/Putin meeting. These two have been jousting verbal back and forths since day one of the Biden’s “Team Medeorocracy” was named. I applaud this decision, but not its purpose, to wrest apart our two big adversaries. It somewhat thaws the cold war freeze of shouting barbs to fishing for areas of mutual advantage ripe for trade offs and compromise. Everybody wants something but the trading won’t be very productive if either party is feeling aggreviously taken advantage of or wronged by the other party. Nordstrom II is ordinary mutually beneficial trade which endangers no one per se. If Ukraine losses greviously in the deal, it is largely their own hubris to blame for their unauthorized diversion of the gas they were being generously compensated for delivering. What we see is chisselers being gone around to cut them and their thefts could out of the deal they violatted. Just what any self respecting, law abiding party to such would do. Ukraine and everyone should cheer their nonviolent fix!

  6. Just as important is the fact that Iran is also a part of the new Belt and Road Initiative. That means the onerous US sanctions on Iran will be made moot by increased trade with both Russia and China. Iran’s involvement in Iraq and Syria will increase, much to the dismay of Israel and US Zionists, most of whom are so-called Christian. Trump was supposed to attack Iran and bring on that apocalyptic conflict they all long for. They have a collective hard-on for Armageddon and nothing short of WWIII will suffice.

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