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China’s Xi wins Biden-Putin cage match against Ukraine

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China’s Xi wins Biden-Putin cage match against Ukraine

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When the bickering over Ukraine ends, it’s hard to see how Chinese President Xi Jinping wouldn’t prevail. His counterpoint in the United States, Joe Biden, lacks a clear strategy to ensure that the transatlantic community emerges from the latest standoff with Moscow into a stronger and more competitive position in the circle of global geopolitics.

Let’s be honest. Despite all the misrepresentations, missteps and mistakes by the White House, it is clear that the President does not want to abandon either Ukraine or our European allies (despite the fact that before the crisis, some administration officials suggested that was what the United States would do).

But not wanting another debacle like the disastrous international backlash Biden saw after the Afghanistan pullout isn’t enough. The administration needs a clear strategy to look like a true global leader – and there is no indication it has one.


The list of tentative and uncertain policy measures is long. First and foremost is the wobbly way in which Washington has deployed arms and ammunition to help the Ukrainians defend themselves and deter Putin. Rather than proactively pushing the audience out the door to send a strong signal to Moscow, Biden balked. It took months of crisis before the American president acted.

The first “lethal aid” has just arrived. Even now, the United States cannot obtain the full support of NATO allies to strengthen Ukraine’s self-defense. Biden’s good pals, like the Germans, have been embarrassingly recalcitrant.

Perhaps the ultimate sign that the Biden team is running out of diplomacy is Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s hashtag stance with the Ukraine Twitter campaign over the weekend. The statehood of the hashtag is to great power politics like the Twinkies are to a balanced diet.

For his part, Putin has many options. He has made impossible demands (like an end to NATO enlargement), but will pay no consequences if his maximum ambitions are not met.

Where Putin goes from here, only he knows.

Putin has already achieved two major goals. First, he mocked Biden’s “adults are back” bumper sticker. Confidence in Biden’s leadership is below an Alaska thermometer in January. Second, Putin dug deep into the cracks of European solidarity. No one today boasts of a Europe “whole, free and at peace”.

Where Putin goes from here, only he knows. Here is what we To do to know. Putin has been around for a long time and has taken many reckless, risky and destabilizing actions. However, he never started World War III. He’s probably smart enough to figure out how to squeeze anything he wants out of this crisis without setting the world on fire.


This raises the map of China. With Biden so unable to lead, many are coming up with their own ideas to fill the void, albeit equally meaningless. A German admiral has made headlines saying Germany is nice to Putin and worried about Beijing. (He then immediately resigned.) However, he is not the only one to reject this suggestion. This is a ticketless proposal for the logical train.

Russia and China have the same goals in Europe. They want a divided and weak Europe. They want the transatlantic community to dissolve and Americans to stay home on their hands. Asking Putin for help with China is geopolitical assisted suicide.

Asking the transatlantic community to only worry about Russia or China is like telling a patient that the hospital can treat their cancer or their sick heart, so they can choose how to die from a terrible death. Sophie had better choices.


The dithering on Russia, however Ukraine turns out in the end, only helps China. Xi’s reading of the West’s response to Putin will be that free nations are not serious about protecting their own interests. The Biden administration and European leaders have clearly shown they lack a solid strategy to deal with either, let alone both.

The West needs leaders with a broader and more confident vision. Right now, Putin sleeps at night dreaming of Stalin in all his glory. Xi dreams of Mao on the march. Biden and his pals must be dreaming of SpongeBob.


China’s Xi wins Biden-Putin cage match against Ukraine

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