Will China act as mediator between Russia and Ukraine?

The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Straits Times report that China has offered to mediate the war between Russia and Ukraine, while simultaneously emphasizing its "rock solid" ties with Russia.  Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi also said China would send emergency humanitarian aid to Ukraine.  "What is needed to solve complex problems," Wang said, "is calmness and rationality, instead of adding fuel to the fire and intensifying conflicts."  "China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in pushing for peace and promoting talks and is willing to work with the international community to carry out necessary mediation talks when needed," he explained during a press conference on Monday.  Wang made it clear, however, that the war would not undermine the "strategic relationship" between China and Russia.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that China's offer to mediate was made the same day that Russia publicly stated terms upon which it would cease all military operations in Ukraine.  Reuters reports that those terms include Ukrainian neutrality (i.e., it cannot join NATO), an end to Ukrainian military action, an acknowledgment that Crimea is Russian territory, and that Ukraine formally recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk.

China's role as a potential mediator was advocated by the European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell.  Meanwhile, Ukraine's foreign minister also appeared to welcome China as a mediator.  China, he said, had "sufficient tools to make a difference."

The Biden administration, meanwhile, is attempting to portray the president — whom former CIA director and defense secretary Robert Gates described as being wrong on nearly every foreign policy issue over the past four decades — as wise and prudent, but also Churchillian in his defense of democracy, forgetting perhaps that no one ever called Churchill "prudent," and that Churchill had no qualms about siding with one of history's most murderous regimes (Stalin's Soviet Union) to attempt to save Britain and its less than democratic empire.

If China pulls this off as a successful mediator of the Russia-Ukraine war, President Xi Jinping will be lauded as a "peacemaker," even as he wages war against the Uyghurs in his own country and threatens the independence of Taiwan.  And given the Sino-Russian growing strategic relationship, any peace terms mediated by China will likely favor Putin, which will further cement the ties between the two Eurasian dictators.

All this might have been avoided had successive U.S. and European governments been more prudent in expanding NATO in the aftermath of Soviet Russia's defeat in the Cold War.  Instead, since 1999, NATO has been relentlessly pushed farther east under the mirage of the "end of history," where democracy triumphs over all other forms of government.  The world doesn't work like that.  Autocracy has pushed back, and the Ukrainian people are paying the price.  And now the world's most powerful autocracy is posing as peacemaker.  The "American Century" has ended, and we should all fear what takes its place.  

Image: Public Domain.

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