Why China is winning the war in Ukraine

Moscow may have done the fighting, but Beijing is reaping the rewards

The World Today Updated 11 December 2020 Published 11 December 2015 3 minute READ

Stephen Blank

Senior Fellow, American Foreign Policy Council

Almost two years after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, it is clear that China, not Russia, is the real victor. This assertion may strike readers as bizarre since China’s vital interests are not engaged in this war, nor does it participate in any of the negotiations.

Nevertheless this judgment is already unassailable. Russia may have won some territory and grievously wounded Ukraine but it has incurred terrible economic and political costs. And many of its losses have been China’s gains.

Such a situation – where a non-combatant power wins the spoils of war – is not unprecedented. In the light of European history, Prussia was the real victor of the first Crimean war (1853-56), though it did not fire a shot. Prussia profited from the Crimean war’s weakening of the post-Napoleonic order to unify the German states into an empire that changed the balance of power in Europe.

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