The Wall Street Journal-Robert Kaplan: “But the imperialism on the march today is in the East. Russia and China are determined to consume Ukraine and Taiwan, legacies of the Romanov and Qing dynasties respectively, into the latest versions of their historical empires… The notion that we can play Russia off against China—as the Nixon administration played China off against the Soviet Union—is a fantasy. President Biden’s reward for giving up opposition to Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany has been the advance of nearly 100,000 Russian troops to the Ukrainian border area. National security adviser Henry Kissinger’s secret 1971 visit to Beijing occurred in the context of dramatic military tensions on the Chinese-Soviet frontier. China was in desperate need of U.S. help. Russia today has no such need.
True, the Chinese are making large-scale economic advances in formerly Soviet Central Asia, as well as providing security assistance to the Muslim republics there. But Russian President Vladimir Putin has calculated that China, a fellow authoritarian regime, isn’t a threat to his rule in the way the West is… Mr. Putin needs China to balance against the West… Mr. Putin’s goal isn’t only to restore the former Soviet Union in some form or other, but to establish a zone of influence throughout Central and Eastern Europe that approximates the borders of the former Warsaw Pact. Rather than direct rule through brotherly Communist parties—which proved too expensive and helped bring down the Soviet Union—Mr. Putin’s model is a form of mass Finlandization, in which the countries from Berlin to the east and to the southeast will know exactly what red lines not to cross in terms of Moscow’s interests. A Pharaonic network of gas pipelines, intelligence operations, organized crime, disinformation and constant self-generated crises are the tools of Russian 21st-century imperialism… Imperialism throughout history has often originated from a deep well of insecurity. That is the case with Russia and China today…The problem now isn’t imperialism per se but the melding of imperialism with Leninist methods of control, which continue to define Russian and Chinese rule. Thus, the U.S. has no choice but to be a status quo power—that is, it need not defeat or even seriously undermine these two revisionist empires, but it must firmly hold the line against their advance.” Russia, China and the Bid for Empire – WSJ