Other states are turning their backs on Russia

Tokyo, Beijing, Berlin, Istanbul After losses in the Russian army and an escalation of the war by Vladimir Putin, other states are careful not to be perceived as Moscow's allies.

A statement from North Korea on Wednesday evening was striking: "We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia and do not plan to do so," said an official at the North Korean Defense Ministry, according to the state news agency KCNA. The vice president of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, a US think tank, then tweeted a tweet about Putin: "Not even North Korea wants to be seen with the guy?"

The US State Department recently reported that Russia wants to buy millions of missiles and artillery shells from North Korea for use in Ukraine, although there is no evidence that the deal has been finalized.

A course change could hint at Turkey. So far, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered himself primarily as a neutral mediator. However, this week he told the American broadcaster PBS that Russia must return all of the occupied territory in Ukraine - including the Crimean Peninsula, which it had annexed in 2014.

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After Putin unveiled a plan to annex more territories on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry in Ankara said: "We are concerned about attempts to hold unilateral referendums in some regions of Ukraine." Such "illegitimate facts" are not recognized by the international community.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The Turkish President has demanded that Putin give back the annexed territories.

(Photo: AP)

"On the contrary, they will complicate efforts to revive the diplomatic process and deepen instability," it said with unusual clarity. Turkey stands for the "territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty" of Ukraine.

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Turkey has been supporting Ukraine with combat drones for the past year, but its economy is still heavily dependent on trade with Russia. The more anti-Russian sentiment turns, the more difficult it becomes for Erdogan to maintain his neutral stance on Russia.

China is dissatisfied

According to experts, China is following Russia's military failures in Ukraine with unease. If Xi ends up betting on the loser of the war, it could damage his image within China.

However, it is unclear whether there will be a point at which Beijing will say that enough is enough. "It is quite conceivable that very clear words were spoken in the bilateral meeting between Putin and Xi during the SCO summit," says Nadine Godehardt, China researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). "But we can't know that."

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping

China needs Russia's support in case of a dispute with Taiwan.

(Photo: AP)

It is therefore also difficult to assess when Putin has exceeded the level from Xi's point of view. "A clear red line seems to me to be the use of nuclear weapons, but whether that also includes tactical nuclear weapons is difficult to judge," says Godehardt. Another red line could possibly also be deliberate damage to a nuclear power plant.

According to experts, China has no interest in further weakening Putin, let alone in overthrowing the Russian regime. In no case does Xi want a Western, democratic Russia. "China wants Putin to stay," says Alicia García Herrero, chief economist for the Asia-Pacific region at French investment bank Natixis.

Xi and Putin need each other

In this way, the People's Republic could secure access to Russia's cheap raw materials. Beijing wants a Russia that is dependent on China, but is not weakened too much.

Recently, some statements by Putin and the Chinese leadership have been interpreted in such a way that China is already moving away from Russia. But he doesn't see any signs of that, says Sebastian Heilmann, China professor at the University of Trier and founding director of the Berlin China think tank Merics. "The unchanged common strategic interest of Russia and China is to weaken and split the US-led alliance system," he said.

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In the event of military conflicts involving Taiwan, Beijing absolutely needs Moscow's support and backing. This is the real "deal" between Putin and Xi Jinping, said Heilmann: They would have to watch each other's backs because military confrontations with the USA and the US alliance system cannot be ruled out either for Russia or for China. "It is the geopolitical and military tension that holds Russia and China together - even if China cannot be satisfied with Russia's military failures in Ukraine and the negative effects of the Ukraine war on the global economy."

India's attitude is shaking

India also traditionally relies on good relations with Russia. India and security expert Satoru Nagao from the American think tank Hudson Institute says it wants to be able to counter its neighbors China and Pakistan.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin

(Photo: imago images/ITAR-TASS)

When it comes to finding a diplomatic partner, India acts like Indians when choosing a taxi. It is common to ask many taxi drivers to find the best price, Nagao said. "They think it's not good for the customer if they only have one choice."

The country is currently leaning more towards the USA and its allies, since Russia is no longer seen as a reliable arms supplier in a possible conflict with China or Pakistan. For example, India's military on the border with China would primarily use weapons from the United States and other Western-oriented states.

His conclusion: “We shouldn't forget that the customer ultimately chooses a taxi driver. And I think the US and its allies are the only choice.”

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