China would come out a winner if Ukraine’s counter-offensive failed and Kyiv was forced to negotiate with Moscow, an expert believes.
Robert Clark, a former Army member and director of the Defence and Security Unit at Civitas, believes Beijing would be “utterly delighted” if the war ended without a clear victory for either Russia or Ukraine.
The commentator said that while Ukraine is proving itself worthy on the battlefield, it doesn’t have time on its side nor the full military equipment pledged by Western nations.
With the counter-offensive likely to continue during the colder months, Ukraine is facing the risk of not just seeing Russia beefing up its defences but also the West focusing on other issues, such as the US and UK elections, Mr Clark said.
The difficult situation makes the prospects of Ukraine sitting at the negotiating table with Russia and conceding some of its territories in exchange for a NATO membership more likely, the expert said.
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A similar scenario would be a nightmare for the West and ideal for Beijing.
In an op-ed for the Telegraph, Mr Clark wrote: “Beijing would be utterly delighted if the war were to end with Ukraine divided, Russian troops permanently in the Donbas harassing Kyiv and Europe, and Nato fractured on political lines.
“Such an outcome would be a gift to China as Xi Jinping begins to ramp up his own imperialistic and extra-territorial ambitions across the Indo-Pacific – and a devastating defeat for the West.”
Ukraine launched its much-anticipated counter-offensive in early June and has since slowly but surely gained back terrain and villages.
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However, it hasn’t so far attempted a major breakthrough across the main line of Russian defence.
Kyiv’s military command isn’t hiding the fact the situation, particularly on the eastern front, is “complicated” as Russia is amassing thousands of troops to regain key areas in Kharkiv.
Appearing on TV, Army Command East spokesman Serhiy Cherevatyi said on Monday: “They are concentrating everything in order to break through our defence.
“Our soldiers are firmly on the defensive. They do not allow the enemy to seize the initiative.”
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On Tuesday, US General Mark Milley shot down criticism about the Ukrainian counter-offensive and how it is being perceived in the impatient West.
Asked whether the counter-offensive was a failure at least so far, the top General said: “It is far from a failure. I think that it’s way too early to make that kind of call.
“I think there’s a lot of fighting left to go and I’ll stay with what we said before: This is going to be long. It’s going be hard. It’s going to be bloody.”
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