On March 12, 2022, an article, titled "Why Were the Russian Army's High Ranking Generals Killed One After Another?" was published on the public account "Dongwu Zatan” (东吴杂谈) by the Chinese social media platform WeChat. The article expresses great pessimism about the success of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying that Russia wants to play the role of the Soviet Union but does not have the strength, especially the economic strength.
The article, which takes a starkly negative view of Russia, has not yet been deleted by the Chinese Communist authorities.
The essay says, "The Soviet Union was able to fight in Afghanistan for a decade because it had the economic capacity to keep the cost of the war to chronic bleeding. Ukraine, adjacent to NATO and with modern warfare capabilities, is a higher-version Afghanistan; Russia is a lower-version Soviet Union. The war has opened a hole in Russia's economic arteries. Even more deadly, the international sanctions Russia faces are destroying the blood-producing capacity of the Russian economy.
The article adds: "Russia's crises on both fronts are the result of a sharp decline in economic power. Having long played an international role that is not commensurate with its economic strength, Russia has overdrawn its own economy and finally made the game of "playing the Soviet Union" difficult to sustain. The most obvious sign is Mr. Putin's nuclear threat. Throughout the Cold War era, the Soviet Union never showed this card, which is a sign not of toughness but of poor skills.
"So, whatever the outcome of the war between Russia and Ukraine, Russia's weakness has been exposed, and its international standing will not be the same as before even if it retreats from the Ukrainian battlefield. In that case, there will not be confrontation between Russia and the West again, only complete isolation from the West. Prolonged western sanctions and the rejection of Russia by the global economic system will be inevitable.
"There will be no third World War, no direct military action by Europe and the U.S. against Russia; there is no need to take such a risk. No one wants to destroy or occupy Russia. It is infeasible and pointless - Russia's experience in Ukraine is a lesson, as was America's in Afghanistan and Iraq before that.
"The isolation of risks can be achieved by economic means. This is the power of the economic globalization era, and Russia has no ability to resist it."
Below is the article:
'Russia Has No Camp'
"What we are watching is not a war, but the receding shadow of an era. The 'farewell to the Cold War' that has lasted for 30 years has finally come to an end.
"At the end of 1991, the Soviet Union disintegrated. The Russian Federation inherited the legacy of the Soviet Union. No one has questioned this. For the next three decades, Russia successfully assumed the role of the Soviet Union as a 'world empire' with global capacity and influence.
"After Putin came to power, Russia became more assertive and frequently confronted the West directly, trying to create a situation of Russia-U.S. confrontation. Politicians around the world treat Putin the same way they once treated the leaders of the Soviet Union — with a complicated mixture of respect, fear, and loathing, but they cannot be contemptuous of him. These political dignitaries coordinated with him in various international affairs and sought his support, or at least his understanding.
"It was not until the live broadcast of the war that Russia's facade was stripped away, revealing that Russia is not the Soviet Union, it does not have the economic strength of the Soviet Union, and it cannot afford to carry the heavy 'Soviet legacy.'
"On February 24, Putin launched a 'special military operation,' a copy of the plan for the occupation of Czechoslovakia on August 20th, 1968, a 'beheading' operation that raided the capital airport, with mighty armored troops.
"In fact, Western countries also made this judgment, and no one thought that Ukraine would be able to endure for very long. The West responded with substantial aid to Ukraine and increased sanctions against Russia only 48 hours after Ukraine began holding on. Even so, the United States and Britain are still trying to persuade Zelensky to 'hitch a ride' out of Ukraine.
"However, the 'special military operation' did not obtain the expected success. It was finally noticed that Russia falls far short of the Soviet Union.
"Russia has no camp, no Warsaw Pact countries cheering for the Soviet Union or waving flags, no support in front and behind, and no active cooperation from the pro-Russian forces within Ukraine. The hundreds of thousands of troops are impressive, but they are all alone.
"The anticlimactic nature of the special military operation was a political failure rather than a military one.
"Russia does not have the political mobilization power of the Soviet Union, and even its 'kindred brother' Ukraine has long since deserted it.
'Russia Is Not The Soviet Union, And It Does Not Have The Economic Capacity To Maintain Even One Camp'
"In 48 hours, Russia's 30-year 'playing the Soviet Union' game came to an end. The occupation of Czechoslovakia was a 'family affair' within the socialist camp. It was the big brother who led the younger brothers to crush Czechoslovakia, which had domestic 'thieves' (who wanted to pursue a political democratic movement) and no reinforcements outside. The 'special military operations' of that year were a great success. Between Ukraine and Russia, it's just a dispute between states.
"Russia is not the Soviet Union, and it does not have the economic capacity to maintain even one camp, let alone the 'ancestral, traditional sphere of influence.'
"In the 1970s, the Brezhnev era was the highlight of the Soviet Union. The oil embargo initiated by OPEC raised oil prices and made the Soviet Union a fortune. At that time, the GDP of the Soviet Union was at least 50% of that of the United States; the most optimistic estimates are 60 to 70 percent. With its great economic power, the inner core of the Soviet Union, the 'Greater Russia' region (Western Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus) sat in the first class seats of the 'Soviet Dividend.' The various smaller members of the Soviet faction also benefited.
"Yet today's Russia, with a GDP of US$1.7 trillion, is less than one-tenth that of the United States and is surpassed by China's Guangdong Province alone. After 2012, its economic growth became stagnant, and there are no future prospects in sight. Insufficient national strength will inevitably lead to insufficient government financial resources. The Russian Federation's budget was a mere US$330 billion for 2021, dwarfed by the US$705 billion budget of the Pentagon. Economic capability limits Russia's political influence.
"With this kind of economic capacity, Russia makes a so-called 'blood transfusion' to Belarus annually. With a population of less than 10 million, Belarus receives US$10 billion to US$20 billion from Russia, accounting for 10% to 20% of its GDP, in order to maintain the 'intimacy' between Russia and Belarus. Ukraine, with a population of 44 million, is a 'gold-swallowing beast' that cannot be sustained.
"Moreover, after Putin came to power, he squandered a great amount of resources on 'playing the Soviet Union,' and his striking out across the globe left him without any remaining energy to clone a 'Russian-Belarus alliance' in Ukraine.
"Therefore, Ukraine could not benefit from Russia-Ukraine relations, and it was also rejected by the West as being within the core of the 'Soviet sphere of influence,' thus becoming an 'economic orphan' on both sides.
"How does Ukraine feel to have a per capita GDP of US$4 thousand to US$5 thousand, much less than Belarus? Compared with the three Baltic states and Poland, which broke away from Russia and joined the EU, Ukraine is as poor as a beggar. Poverty makes Ukraine want change; that is not surprising. Since it seeks change, its people will tend to gravitate toward where the benefits come from. Even the pro-Russia factions in Ukraine waver.
"Russia treats Ukraine as a 'Soviet legacy' without having inherited the economic obligations of the Soviet Union, but only the oppressive nature of the Soviet Union. Ukraine's alienation and rupture from Russia is inevitable.
"Russia has neither the numbers of people of the former Soviet camp, nor the allegiance of the Ukrainian people. Putin's 'special military operation' was a political failure, but the root of the failure was due to the economy, causing the unexpected defeat in the war.
"Even sadder, Russia cannot win this war. This war is too costly for Russia to be able to play.
'In Terms Of Power, Russia Is Strong And Ukraine Is Weak, But In Terms Of War Costs, The Situation Is Reversed'
"The news from the Ukrainian battlefield is chaotic and comes continuously, and whether the information is true or false is endlessly debated. However, one of the most basic facts is that after more than ten days of war, Ukraine has not fallen, and big cities such as Kyiv and Kharkiv are still in Ukraine's grip. One of the reasons is that Russia has its hands tied, but there is no denying that its 200,000 troops are there to fight, not to help old Ukrainian peasants with their spring ploughing. The stand-off is the last thing Russia wants.
"Russia can't afford to get bogged down.
"The war costs Russia US$8 billion per month, yet only achieves this poor result. With Russia's fiscal budget only just over US$300 billion, how can Putin have any room for maneuvering? With a total GDP of more than US$1 trillion, there is not much to spare.
"And, having reached a stalemate, Russia faces an asymmetric war. In terms of power, Russia is strong and Ukraine is weak, but in terms of war costs, the situation is reversed. The Ukrainians are destroying Russian planes and tanks worth millions or tens of millions of dollars with individual combat weapons worth only a few tens of thousands of dollars.
"Furthermore, behind Ukraine there is NATO, which is footing the bill for Ukraine. Russia's finances are more than an order of magnitude behind those of NATO countries. The Stinger missiles supplied by NATO to Ukraine are sufficient and Ukraine has no economic pressure.
"The Soviet Union was able to fight in Afghanistan for a decade because it had the economic capacity to keep the cost of the war to the level of chronic bleeding. Ukraine, adjacent to NATO and with modern warfare capabilities, is a higher-version Afghanistan; Russia is a lower-version of the Soviet Union. The war has opened a hole in Russia's economic arteries.
"Even more deadly, the international sanctions that Russia is facing are destroying the blood-producing capacity of the Russian economy.
'Time is no friend of Russia'
"Russia has been subjected to unprecedented sanctions, not the limited deterrence of the past, but the devastating impact of a total decoupling.
"I analyzed this in my previous article, 'The Real Challenge for Russia Is on Another Battlefield!' Here are some additional points:
"The Russian economy is highly dependent on foreign countries, but its economic volume accounts for less than 2% of the global economic system. Moreover, Russia's economic growth fell into a long-term stagnation after 2012, and the low growth expectations coupled with the poor business environment made the market less attractive. As a result, the ban on SWIFT and other 'surgical cutting' sanctions against Russia has led multinational companies to turn their backs on Russia.
"Russia's forced withdrawal from the global economy will have limited impact on the long-term outlook for the global macro economy. Therefore, Europe and the United States dare to increase the severity of international economic sanctions quickly, and do not hesitate to cut with Russia.
"Russia's global economic influence is mainly concentrated in the high market share of products from primary resources such as oil and natural gas, which will impact the global supply chain and create corresponding adjustment costs. For example, the recent 'demon nickel' incident is the result of Russia's cut-off of the nickel supply, as is the record high oil price.
"This has a twofold effect on the West's resolve to sanction Russia. On the one hand, concerns about the economic costs will to some extent inhibit the escalation of sanctions against Russia; On the other hand, the economic concerns over the sanctions will diminish as the 'sunk cost' of the sanctions is anticipated. At present, under the pressure of strong public opinion, the escalation of sanctions against Russia is faster than expected. U.S. President Biden's decision to stop Russian oil imports was unexpectedly quick, with consensus between the ruling and opposition parties and the support of public opinion, prompting him to act ahead of schedule.
"Moreover, Russia's resource advantage does not confer much of a game advantage. The alternative supply of resource products is only a matter of time, and the drive for profit trumps that for geopolitics. It's hard to know how President Putin would think of Iran, a 'staunch ally' of Russia, which increased its oil production immediately after the escalation of Western sanctions against Russia and was showing a high degree of enthusiasm for the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, as it was eager to replace Russian oil supplies. As Russia's economic clout shrinks due to the sanctions, its 'circle of friends' will only get smaller and its situation more isolated.
"Russia on the global economic battlefield, like the real one in Ukraine, is in a race against time. Time is no friend of Russia.
"The current crises encountered by Russia on the two fronts are the result of a sharp shrinkage of its economic power. Having long played an international role that is not commensurate with its own economic strength, Russia has overdrawn its own economy, finally making the game of 'playing the Soviet Union' unsustainable. The most obvious sign is that Putin has issued a nuclear threat. Throughout the Cold War era, the Soviet Union has never shown this trump card. This is not toughness, but lack of other options.
"Therefore, no matter what the final outcome of the war between Russia and Ukraine will be, Russia's weakness has been exposed, and even if it retreats from the Ukrainian battlefield, its international status will not be what it used to be. There is no more confrontation, only total isolation. Prolonged Western sanctions and the exclusion of Russia from the global economic system are inevitable.
"There will be no third World War because Europe and the United States will not take direct military action against Russia. There is no need to take such a risk at all. No one wants to destroy and occupy Russia. It is neither feasible nor sensible — Russia's experience in Ukraine is a lesson, as was America's in Afghanistan and Iraq before it.
"Isolating the risks can be achieved by economic means. This is the power of the era of economic globalization, and Russia has no ability to resist it.
'The Cold War Was Over Long Ago, But It Is Only Now That We Truly Say Goodbye [To It]'
"For three decades, 'farewell to the Cold War' and 'abandon the Cold War mentality' have been the 'buzzwords' of the international community. But the final stage of the Cold War is being burned down by the tiny sparks of Putin's 'special military operations.' Amid the raging fire, truth is no longer shunned:
"Russia is not the Soviet Union and cannot afford the 'Soviet Legacy.' There is no longer a Soviet Union in the world, no 'East versus West,' only a complex game in the global economic system. This is the way to say 'Farewell to the Cold War.'
"The Cold War was over long ago, but it is only now that we truly say goodbye. The Cold War mentality is likely to persist for a while. The inertia of the world view will last longer than the changes in the real world, which will be the threshold of the new era.
"Kissinger, such an intelligent man, is not immune to this kind of world view. In 2014, he said: 'Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side's outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.'
"Kissinger's quote was widely lionized, but many missed the paradox within: even if Russia had been only a third as powerful as the Soviet Union, confrontation would not have taken place in Ukraine. So, even Ukraine has chosen to 'go West,' does Russia have a real capacity to confront it?
"Ukraine's 'going West' is not a continuation of the Cold War confrontation, but the final liquidation of the cold War legacy. While Ukraine was making its choice, Russia had already lost.
"Kissinger and other wise men of the Cold War era ignored that in the era of economic globalization, the rules of the game for international competition had changed. Economic power and military capability cannot be calculated separately. A military empire with a weak economy and a strong force has lost its eligibility for the game of global competition, and 'confrontation' beyond its own economic power will only accelerate the process of defeat.
"In this era, economic power determines military capability and international political influence, and a country's economic strength is the decisive factor for its international status.
"The core competitiveness of a country is ultimately reflected in its importance in the global economic system. The biggest failure of a country is to be kicked out of the global economic system. What awaits those who fail is to suffer from poverty and isolation. Therefore, the cold War mentality of putting force first, ignoring economic development and rejecting globalization should be swept into the dustbin of history."
 Mp.weixin.qq.com/s/MK8hXGpW-ixI97Q-rh1HFA, March 12, 2022