Russia and China are Surrounded by Territorial Disputes That Could Become Wars
China’s neighbors, for example, “are going on a military spending spree:”
China shares a land border with more countries than any other nation on earth — and it has territorial disputes with almost all of them: Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Vietnam. (On top of that, separatist movements in Tibet and Xinjiang are pushing for the regions to secede from China.)
Neighboring countries feel they’re being pushed around by an aggressive Chinese foreign policy, and as a result, they’re continuing to [beef] up their own militaries. And it’s Japan, China’s historical rival, that is quietly providing assistance to many countries that — like Japan itself — are feeling the heat from China.
As we have seen recently, dormant disputes can turn into blazing battles and wars in the blink of an eye. So China’s neighbors are beginning to spend serious amounts of money to make sure that China cannot push them around more than necessary. Example: How Vietnam might prepare for Chinese incursions
Russia likewise has multiple long-standing territorial disputes that could flare up when least expected:
The Kuril Islands dispute concerns the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, and Shikotan and the Khabomai group occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by Russia, claimed by Japan.
Caspian Sea boundaries are not yet determined among all littoral states. Issues between Russia and the states bordering it – Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan – were settled in 2003. Russia has no common land or Caspian-sea border with Turkmenistan and Iran, which do not agree with the Caspian Sea settlements.
With respect to the Baltic states, a draft treaty delimiting the boundary with Latvia has not been signed; …
On 31 August 2005 Russian President Putin gave a written order to the Russian Foreign Ministry to notify the Estonian side of “Russia’s intention not to participate in the border treaties between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Estonia”. On 6 September 2005 the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation forwarded a note to Estonia, in which Russia informed that it did not intend to become a party to the border treaties between Estonia and Russia and did not consider itself bound by the circumstances concerning the object and the purposes of the treaties.
An additional ocean boundary dispute exists in the Barents Sea with the neighbouring Kingdom of Norway. Russia applies a sector line spanning from Cape Nemetskii to the North Pole for delimitation purposes whilst Norway applies the equidistance principle. Neither method is acceptable for either state since they arguably lead to an inequitable result, so the matter is subject to negotiation where a compromise is likely to be attained.
Disputes over the boundary with Georgia relating to Russia’s recognition of Georgian regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.
That short list is far from complete, and does not include ongoing disputes with Ukraine or Moldova. It is claimed that all border disputes between China and Russia have been “solved.” But as we have seen in previous postings, the Russia :: China border is far from settled, in any practical or long-term sense.
Just as we see China’s neighbors acquiring high technology weaponry for dealing with Chinese incursions, so are we likely to see similar arms buildups by Russia’s neighbors all along Russian borders, from Finland in the West to Japan in the East.
Both Russia and China have proven themselves very bad neighbors — and very bad partners of any kind, over the long run.
With Putin, in particular, a neighbor can expect to be stabbed in the back sooner or later. That includes China.
… [Putin] has striven to construct an irredentist and revisionist Russia which has created a huge security problem for its European neighbours. He sees his neighbours as vassals who must be forced to collaborate in creating a sphere of influence that will ensure the viability of an independent Russia distinct from the West. For this reason, Putin has linked Russia’s fate to Ukraine and now cannot afford to lose the centrepiece in his Eurasian project. Thus, he is stuck in an alley in which he can neither advance nor retreat. If he goes forward, he will enter into an economic confrontation with the West which would debilitate his petrostate, impoverishing the oligarchs and inflaming public opinion. If he retreats and abandons his minions in Eastern Ukraine, he will be criticised for cowardice in selling the Russian soul and identity in exchange for a few coins. He will do what he will do. But one thing is clear: a leader who has built his entire political career on the desire to avenge the humiliations suffered by Russia will not [willingly] allow himself to be humiliated in the end.
… Instead of opening up the economy and seeking to create an independent enterprise class, he has concentrated political, economic, and media power in the hands of a small elite of friends, colleagues, and former KGB associates. Following Acemoglu and Robinson’s classic work, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty,the Russian case fits perfectly with the model of “extractive elites”. These elites block political and economic progress in the country in favour of a cause that is increasingly less to do with ideology but more and more motivated by personal concerns: in the current economic structure, they know that the country’s modernisation would involve their ousting. __ Russian Mirror Has Broken
Putin’s KGB-mafia government is squeezing the life and spirit out of the Russian people, and converting Russia’s vast natural resources into private overseas bank accounts and properties. Westerners who still believe the Putin narrative are in for a shock as the slow-motion public health, demographic, economic, and social train wreck moves to its inevitable conclusion.
Since Russia does not admit it has troops inside Ukraine, the hundreds of Russian soldiers killed there so far have been coming back and the families are increasingly angry about the government secrecy about how their sons died and where. Despite strenuous efforts to suppress news of dead soldiers the Internet allows the news to get around and the families of dead soldiers to get in touch with each other and organize protests and unrest the government does not want.
… the number of 18 year olds is rapidly declining each year. The latest crop of draftees was born after the Soviet Union dissolved. That was when the birth rate went south. Not so much because the Soviet Union was gone but more because of the economic depression (caused by decades of communist misrule) that precipitated the collapse of the communist government. The number of available draftees went from 1.5 million a year in the early 1990s, to 800,000 today. Less than half those potential conscripts are showing up and many have criminal records (or tendencies) that help sustain the abuse of new recruits that has made military service so unsavory.
With conscripts now in for only a year, rather than two, there is a tendency to take a lot of marginal (sickly, overweight, bad attitudes, drug users) recruits in order to keep the military and Ministry of Interior units up to strength. But this means that even elite airborne and commando units are using a lot of conscripts (who volunteer for this dangerous service). Most of these young guys take a year to master the skills needed to be useful and by then they are discharged.
… When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, it had five million troops. Now it’s less than one million in just Russia (which has about half the population of the old Soviet Union but most of the territory). Although the Russian armed forces lost over 80 percent of its strength since 1991, a disproportionate number of officers remained.
Russia on a road to nowhere
As Russia deteriorates, China grows stronger . . .
Years ago Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s eloquent NATO ambassador, said half-jokingly that the Chinese would soon be “crossing the border in small groups of five million.” And Vladimir Putin, shortly after being elected president, warned: “Unless we make a serious effort, the Russians in the border regions will have to speak Chinese, Japanese and Korean in a few decades.” This hardly seems an exaggeration, given that there are six million Russians living in Eastern Siberia, compared with the 90 million living in China’s northern provinces.
“We’re not afraid, but we’re wary. We just don’t understand what they’re going to do. It’s a system that could rise up at any moment and attack us,” Kosikhina said. “We have a saying here: ‘Pessimists study Chinese.'”
More on Chinese border disputes:
For most of the month Chinese troops have been several kilometers inside Indian territory trying to force the Indians to halt construction of roads, military bases and other infrastructure in what the Chinese claim is their territory. Even the recent visit of the Chinese leader to India did not settle this dispute. Military and diplomatic officials from both sides are meeting regularly to try and resolve the dispute, or at least avoid an escalation.
There is growing anger in Burma against China. A major issue is all the illegal industries in the tribal north that export to China. This involves lumber, gems and other raw materials as well as illegal drugs. This trade is believed to be worth more than the $3.4 billion a year in legitimate exports and most of the cash flows through semi-legal Burmese banks on the Chinese border. China has strict controls on moving cash (no more than $50,000 a year per person) in or out. No such rules in Burma and it’s much easier to open bank accounts in Burma. Chinese banking officials estimate that legal and illegal cash flows from China to Burma are over $30 billion a year. __ Strategy Page