President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met in Geneva. In the first small meeting, Putin laughed out loud, so you can see that he got what he wanted right from the start. What was the thing he wanted? It was recognition of Russia’s great power status, which consolidated Putin’s political position at home. Biden calculated well this time, directly poking Putin’s itch, so that Putin could not help but sit down and just laugh. More or less out of shape, not in line with his KGB’s serious and calm training.
Great power status is not only a need for Putin himself, but also for the Russian public psyche. Just like the Chinese in the late Qing Dynasty, they were used to being the bullish subjects of a big country and were not used to people underestimating them. The experience of being underestimated after the collapse of the Soviet Union is increasingly uncomfortable for Russians. Putin’s constant tossing and turning these past few years, which in turn is popular with the common people, is giving a kind of comfort to this public psychology. It would certainly be much more important than mere consolation to be recognized by the great powers, an unexpected pleasure, so one cannot resist.
For the Biden administration to concentrate on the Chinese Communist Party, it naturally needs to lift the pressure from the west. Putin needs to be relieved of pressure from the east in order to get domestic support and to show himself by making trouble for the west. This is the reason why Putin pulled China’s strings some years ago. Now that Putin has domestic support, there is no need to boost domestic support by causing trouble for the West. Both sides get what they want, so it’s a win-win, so to speak.
Although the media satirized Biden for always saying the wrong thing, he had good staff and aides, and with a light opening statement, he set the tone that the U.S. and Russia would de-escalate relations and Russia would not give trouble to the West. Now the Chinese Communist Party is in trouble, as can be gauged from the fact that Xi’s war wolves are furious, jumping to their feet and crying and shouting, and they too feel bad.
Why not? First of all, because the relationship between the CCP and Russia is not as rock-solid as both sides claim, although Xi Jinping has been spreading money, buying high-priced oil and helping Russia build high-speed railroads. But the rivalry in Central Asia, as well as historical territorial issues, are conflicts that tug at the interests and popular psyche of both Russia and China. It is unlikely that the Chinese public will see Russia as a friend, and that the Russian public will be disarmed of China. It is just a matter of politicians from both countries pretending to be friendly in order to confront the West.
Does Russia have to confront the United States? Not necessarily. The first thing is that Russia is no longer ideologically opposed to the West, or the differences, though significant, are not antagonistic. The second is that Russia is watching China’s rapid economic development and realizing the importance of cooperation with the West. If it can ease the contradictions to replace China’s trade position, Putin will be smiling again. What’s not to like?
The only obstacle is the unconvinced and uncomfortable social mentality of the population, which has long been free of the confrontational conflicts for world hegemony. The West in the past made a serious mistake, an inertia of thinking that alienated the well-meaning Yeltsin government. A bunch of retarded scholars pitted the Russian economy with shock therapy and took advantage of the situation to make a big push for NATO’s eastward expansion, which provoked the Russian people’s resentment and pushed their social mentality into hostility.
This long-accumulated bad mentality has given the Chinese Communist Party the opportunity to take advantage of it. Since Jiang Zemin’s time, the CCP has been tempting Russia to join the anti-US alliance with various benefits. But Russia’s top leaders are not fools and know where their interests lie; they are just tripped up by the political situation. Now that the Biden administration is helping Putin get rid of domestic obstacles, a normal relationship between the U.S. and Russia will gradually develop over time. Russia does not need to unite with Communist China to fight the West, which is why the war wolves of Xiao Xi are as bereft as they are.
Of course, with Putin’s calculating personality, there will be a lot of bargaining and squirming in the process of gradually easing relations with the United States, which are technical details. The United States, a commercial nation, is not lacking in these details of calculation, the rest is just time, as long as no more mistakes are made.