Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a double disaster for President Vladimir Putin, as he faces a poorly performing military combined with an inability to shield his country from economic punishment, Oriana Skylar Mastro of Stanford University and Derek Scissors of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) wrote for Foreign Policy.
Photo Insert: It appears that Russia acted on bad intelligence and therefore did not believe initial strikes that maxed out its firepower were necessary.
Both of these possibilities historically have also been sources of apprehension for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But China’s leadership turned its anxiety into action about 10 years ago, deliberately working to fix many of the problems and minimize the risks currently plaguing Russia in Ukraine.
One result is that the Chinese military is more likely to perform well even though it has not fought a war since 1979, when it lost thousands of troops in a punitive but brief invasion of Vietnam.
Adding to that, China’s economy is both far larger and deliberately more diversified than Russia’s. A sanctions effort like the one presently aimed at Russia would be much harder to sustain against China.
These two observations do not mean deterrence won’t hold, only that the unfolding events in Ukraine will likely do little to make Beijing more cautious.
Nearly everyone overestimated Russia’s military capabilities—including probably Putin himself. During its invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s air-ground coordination has been ineffective, and Russian forces have shown risk-adverse tendencies in the air. Russia has also struggled with logistics and keeping its military supplied.
Notably, it appears that Russia acted on bad intelligence and therefore did not believe initial strikes that maxed out its firepower were necessary. Furthermore, many Russian weapons platforms are outdated (for example, its Cold War-era tanks), and modern Su-57 fighter jets and T-14 Armata tanks only exist in comparatively small numbers.