Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The Embassy

Gordon Chang: China Is the ‘Fuel’ Behind Putin’s War in Ukraine

Ammo Shortage
Ammo. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

What happens when the world’s two most dangerous humans meet? 

We are about to find out. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are going to get together for their 40th in-person chat Monday. The conversation, in Moscow, is scheduled to run until Wednesday. 

Xi’s timing confirms the closeness to his Russian counterpart. The summit, for one thing, is being held much earlier than expected. The Wall Street Journal on the 21st of last month reported the pair might get together “in April or in early May.”

As it turned out, the announcement of the meeting occurred just hours before the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued a warrant for the arrest of the Russian president for the deportation of Ukrainian children. Beijing and Moscow had to know the warrant would be announced soon, so the trip could be China’s way of signaling support for Russia’s alleged war crimes, including genocide, in Ukraine.

During the three-day meeting, Xi and the war criminal suspect—there’s little doubt that Putin is both guilty as charged and the perpetrator of other horrific acts—will undoubtedly issue expressions of support for the other. They are also expected, at least according to Russian media, to sign significant agreements.

There will certainly be discussions about Beijing’s 12-point peace plan, titled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis,” released February 24. Xi Jinping will undoubtedly press acceptance of his proposal in order to leverage the success of the Iran-Saudi deal Chinese diplomats brokered this month. 

China’s Ukraine proposal was “essentially ignored” as the Associated Press put it. And for good reason. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby correctly termed Beijing’s call for an immediate cease-fire a “ratification of Russian conquest.” A halt to the fighting, he said, would allow Russia’s forces to recover “so that they can restart attacks on Ukraine at a time of their choosing.” 

China Back Russia in the Ukraine War: The Facts

Observers say that at this time, Ukraine has the advantage on the battlefield. Beijing knows that. Allowing Russia to regroup is not in the interests of anyone but the Russians.

And the Chinese. In reality, Ukraine is a superpower proxy war, and China is backing Russia. 

Russia and China know the stakes. Vladimir Putin is obviously all-in on Ukraine, and the Chinese are in full support. It’s apparent, for instance, that China greenlighted the invasion of Ukraine. Russia and China issued their 5,300-word joint statement after Putin met Xi in Beijing on February 4 of last year, just 20 days before Russia’s attack. That’s when they declared the “no-limits” partnership.

“No limits” is not much of an exaggeration. China, with elevated commodity purchases, effectively finances Russia’s war. Furthermore, Beijing has been offering financial services to Russia as America and partners cut Russian banks and institutions off. Beijing is putting diplomats in service of Moscow. Chinese central government and Communist Party media have been amplifying Russian war disinformation.

Moreover, China has been providing lethal assistance. In the opening moments of the war, there is reporting suggesting China fed location data, obtained from the Chinese-made drones that Ukraine had been operating, to Russia so that it could take out the drone operators. 

More recently, there is also evidence to suggest China has been selling drones to Russia’s Wagner Group.

Indeed, Beijing has been supplying urgently needed items. In November, Defense Express, a Ukrainian site, reported that almost every day an An-124 cargo plane ferried military products from China’s Zhengzhou to Russia. The Russian planes turned off their transponders when they departed. The Washington Free Beacon in January reported that the flights carried, among other things, ammunition.

The Biden administration for the longest time refused to acknowledge China’s lethal assistance, saying only that Beijing was contemplating providing it. Now, Washington has had to make an admission. In the middle of this month, according to Kyodo News, the U.S. confirmed the presence of Chinese ammunition littering battlefields in Ukraine.

Now that it’s clear that China’s regime has crossed President Joe Biden’s “red line,” the Chinese leadership is probably worried about what happens next. That could also explain the timing of Xi’s excursion to Moscow.

In any event, Xi and Putin are clearly coordinating policies, dividing the international system into camps and in the process forming the core of a new axis. The war in Ukraine, therefore, looks like the first conflict of a divided world, what some are calling “Cold War 2.”

As Henry Kissinger declared last May to the Financial Times, “We are now living in a totally new era.”

Joe Biden Dithers 

In the first phase of that era, China and Russia have grabbed the initiative. President Biden, on the other hand, so far doesn’t know what to do. The free world needs a Reagan, not a Carter. Biden at the moment, resembles Carter.

In broad outline, this time resembles the late 1930s, when the West’s great democracies were in disarray.

China and Russia, on the other hand, are driving events. The Chinese foreign ministry characterized the Xi visit to Moscow as “a trip for friendship.” “It will,” the ministry said, “further deepen mutual trust and mutual understanding between China and Russia and cement the political foundation and public support for the long-standing friendship between the two peoples.” 

China and Russia

Xi Jinping and Russian President Putin.

Beijing believes the new era is going to last a long time. What the American president does at this moment, therefore, will affect generations.

Author Expertise and Biography 

A 19FortyFive Contributing Editor, Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. Follow him on Twitter @GordonGChang.  

Written By

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Great U.S.-China Tech War and Losing South Korea, booklets released by Encounter Books. His previous books are Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World and The Coming Collapse of China, both from Random House. Chang lived and worked in China and Hong Kong for almost two decades, most recently in Shanghai, as Counsel to the American law firm Paul Weiss and earlier in Hong Kong as Partner in the international law firm Baker & McKenzie.



  1. Whodunnit

    March 19, 2023 at 12:17 pm

    Russia – China’s new partner is nothing more than a (temporary) convenience. Until it isn’t. Russia will be dropped like a hot stone once China no longer finds them a useful distraction to the west.

  2. Harry J Taft

    March 19, 2023 at 1:55 pm

    This is not what the world needs now. Two individuals made bold by the errors of the American people. We had a world leader (just not a politician) who was taken seriously by our adversaries. Then with a bit of election magic we exchanged him for a hack who has been selling his influence for decades. I’m confident that whatever happens that may be horrible the people who made it possible will never acknowledge their responsibility.

  3. 404NotFound

    March 19, 2023 at 4:51 pm

    Right, china the fuel, or the combuster, behind ukraine war.

    All biden has to do now is expel all the china diplomats and close down the US embassy and consulates over there and het PACOM to unleash a few hypersonic projectiles in the general direction of beijing.

    But wait. Wait, wait. Hold on for a second. The USAF and US Navy and Army in the western pacific still haven’t got their grubby fingers on any hypers.

    Sorry, biden. Ya started proxy war way too early. Next time, wait for the boffins to perfect their weapins first before jumping the cannon.

  4. cobo

    March 19, 2023 at 5:06 pm

    The ICC is a joke.

    The charge of ‘deportation of ukrainian children’ by ICC against putin is completely farcical and comical.

    Those children shouldn’t be left behind inside war zone where american howitzers and rocket systems are very active.

    Today, this year, marks exactly the 30th anniversary of the Waco siege that ended with the massacre of many innocent children in texas, USA. Which happened in 1993.

    Wny the ICC never laying any charges against US.

    That’s because when in 2018 ICC wanted to investigate waco-like incidents in afghanistan, john bolton quickly came down lightning fast on it & slammed it harshly and threatened them ICC officials with potential arrests plus sanctions.

    End of ICC creds. But now, ICC rearing its head ??? What a joke. Biggest fart joke ever.

  5. IlvGordo

    March 19, 2023 at 5:23 pm

    Gordo has predicted for decades that China was about to collapse. His insight now is about as accurate as it has been for decades.

  6. 3L120

    March 19, 2023 at 8:14 pm

    Sure, Red China is backing Putin. The more ammo supplied, the more dead Russians. The more Putin depends on China, the more drastic will be the eventual outcome. Eventually, Russia will run dry of troops, ammo and equipment. At that time eastern Siberia and Kamchatka, which the Chinese view as rightfully theirs, will be ripe for plucking. The more Xi talks about Taiwan, the more Vladimir is lulled into complacency. The Chinese are already renaming those Russian provinces back into their former Chinese names.

  7. Jim

    March 19, 2023 at 8:45 pm

    The policies the U. S. has pursued has hyper-charged the buildup of the strategic relationship between China & Russia.

    The New York Times & The Washington Post have both published articles reporting a tough position for Ukraine.

    Time will reveal what happens.

    I don’t want to see a World War Three… but we are drifting towards that end.

    It’s unnecessary and would be tragic.

    Realism calls to take an assessment of the situation in Ukraine… some time in late May, early June. If China is as dangerous as it appears to so many to be… the U. S. can not indefinitely… deplete our military stockpiles… in an unending convoy to Ukraine… (and money, see banking crisis)… choices have to be made.

    When does Ukraine become a quagmire we simply can’t afford anymore… for our own strategic security?

    When do we stop pursuing policies which end up pushing China & Russia together?

    Turning the wheel of the ship of state in a different direction likely is not enough, we need a new set of pilots who can take the American People away from the rocky shoals and dangerous water we find ourselves in.

    The people who sailed us into these dangerous waters aren’t likely to successfully navigate their way out.

  8. H.R. Holm

    March 19, 2023 at 10:17 pm

    “What happens when the world’s two most dangerous humans meet? ”

    Really? Are we sure we’re not talking here about Pathetic Joe Biden and Lord Voldemort Z. of Ukraine? They recently met, and what we got was promises of further unending drain of the U.S. Treasury and continued flirtation with triggering Armageddon. Yeh, that’s what happens. Putin is not the world’s only bad news ‘bear’, they come in other national flavors, too.

  9. Johnny Ray

    March 19, 2023 at 11:07 pm

    Wars have a way of spiraling out of control and taking on a life of their own, despite the best intentions of the wisest leaders. This one seems to be going that way.

    Poland just now has announced they will enter the war, if Ukraine loses or is losing. Likely they are more involved than we know already. No doubt many countries are quietly participating without public notice.

    With Russia as the rogue and pariah along with Iran, NK and some other minor failed states, the world economy can blunder forth adequately.

    When China becomes the major leg of an Axis of Evil along with Russia, Iran and few others, the game will change radically for the worse for all us.

    Starting to get a real bad feeling about this regional war.

  10. Iamsum12

    March 20, 2023 at 6:54 am

    There’s a whole lot more to the story than GC wants to talk about. The US days of incorporating vassal states to grow the empire, and Corp profits, and pols (and families pockets) are over. It’s a good thing. We stop warmongering but keep a strong national defense then the Pentagon won’t need a trillion $ unaudited budget every year. That $$ will stay in taxpayers pockets.

  11. Webej

    March 20, 2023 at 7:09 am

    »Observers say that at this time, Ukraine has the advantage on the battlefield.
    »little doubt that Putin is both guilty

    OK. Analyst. Dream on. So much for analysis

    » there is data to suggest China fed location data, obtained from the Chinese-made drones that Ukraine had been operating, to Russia so that it could take out the drone operators

    No verifiable data whatsoever. And the 1000 rifles is trivial. No evidence of meaningful Chinese weapons deliveries.

    On the other hand, the US could call a halt to the war tomorrow, just by stopping the flow of weapons, or quitting their direct participation in intel, command & control. In fact, they could have prevent this by just not meddling in other countries.

  12. Yrral

    March 20, 2023 at 10:15 am

    Medvedev say any countries that arrest Putin,will get nuked Google Medvedev Hague Nuclear Strike

  13. Gary Jacobs

    March 20, 2023 at 10:56 am


    As usual, so much of what you say is so far off base. We are *not* giving Ukraine most of the weapons that would be most relevant to a fight with China.

    Ukraine is getting:

    Zero SM-6
    Zero SM-3
    Zero LRASM
    Zero JASSM-er
    Zero Tomahawk
    Zero Naval Strike Missiles
    Zero fighter jets – so far – and if anything they get F16s, of which 4000+ have been made.

    F35 and B2 would be the most important planes against China. Followed by the B1, with each B1 capable of firing 36 LRASMs. I havent heard of a single one of those ever even considered for going to Ukraine.

    As well, the politicians like to talk top line number for how much aid is being sent to Ukraine, but the reality is that much of that money has already been spent, and isnt new money. We arent buying new Hummers, MaxxPros, Bradleys, etc… they are being given out of existing stockpiles. Mostly out of the mothball closet, but they are still counted toward the cost of aid.

    Furthermore, the US will never fight the way Ukraine is with so much artillery being used. Ramping up production of 155mm shells is a sideshow relative to China. As well, it may take a while based on logistics, and ramping up idle production…that doesnt mean it is expensive.

    Even the HIMARS ammo we are giving them is about to be replaced by longer range ammo. GMLRS-ER coming soon, as is PrSM. Both just about done with testing and full rate production should begin later this year or early next.

    You desperately trying to link the banking situation with the cost of ammo is a feeble attempt to connect two completely unrelated things.

    Bottom line: If you are going to continue trying to undermine support for Ukraine, you are going to have to do a lot better than this.

  14. Jim

    March 20, 2023 at 12:15 pm

    Gary, you’re a waste of time.

    Talk all you want.

    Time will tell.

    What are you afraid of, “Realism calls to take an assessment of the situation in Ukraine… some time in late May, early June.”

    Seems prudent to me.

    But I know what your’re afraid of: “The New York Times & The Washington Post have both published articles reporting a tough position for Ukraine.”

    So, you say your list.

    Gary, when you’re afraid of corporate, mainstream media…

    I know you’re on the ropes.

    Ready to drop.

  15. Jonathan

    March 20, 2023 at 1:40 pm

    Following up on Gary’s excellent comment…

    Bash Biden all you want for betraying railroad workers, for expanding oil drilling in Alaska, for lots of other things… so many…..

    But his leadership has been outstanding in bringing NATO (22 nations, each with their own political and economic reality) into a consensus and then slowly and progressively bringing them to the point where that Alliance is stronger than ever.

    And we can now look to a point where the relationship with Europe and our Pacific Allies is becoming a real support for limiting Chinese expansionism. China understands this. And fears it.

    My one point to pick w Gary (above) is that we do need to ramp up artillery production for Ukraine just as we ramped up war production for Britain in 1940. While we may never engage with China directly using lots of artillery, our allies in Asia and Africa might require such weapons. If we are to contest for the world as we want it to be, we have a duty to help those who would stand with us.

  16. Gary Jacobs

    March 20, 2023 at 5:15 pm


    LoL…I am the one who has been saying only time will tell, and the Ukrainians need the mud to dry in summer before beginning large scale counter offensives.

    I have said for weeks that the US has been counseling Ukraine not to conduct major offensives until the new training and equipment is in place, and the ground is hard.

    You pretending otherwise is another of your fictions.

    I also find it ironic that upon your request for sources related to the 2014 Putin strong arming then Ukrainian president…one of the sources I posted was from Washington Post…and you made a big stink about not trusting them as a source.

    Now that it suits your faux notion of smarts… you are all of a sudden willing to see their story on Ukraine as the end all be all gospel truth.

    More cherry picking from you isnt a surprise at all.

    FYI: Ukraine just counter attacked at Ivanivske south of Bakhmut and has pushed the Russians away from a vital supply road.

    Too soon to tell if that is a broader push and they intend to hold Bakhmut, or if its a surge in forces to protect a retreat from Bakhmut.

    What is clear from the posted videos is that they are using a lot of Humvees, MRAPS, and other vehicles straight out of our mothball closet that are completely different from the heavy armor other Ukrainians are training on for the summer counter offensives.

    The reality is that Russia threw close to 200,000 extra troops at Ukraine for their supposed big winter offensive, and they have taken a total of about 80 square miles around Bakhmut and Soledar…and not much else. At the cost of tens of thousands of men.

    Ukraine is having a tough time in this one small area, because Russia is throwing just about all of their offensive potential at it, and still barely scratching out incremental progress. Russia has easy logistics in this one spot. That’s it.

    None of the reality in the NY Times or WaPo stories makes me afraid by any stretch. The Ukrainians are tough fighters trying to liberate their country from Russia’s naked imperialist aggression. They are willing to accept casualties to do that, because they know what they are fighting for.

    You pretending otherwise is another one of your fictions you fool yourself into to make yourself feel better about being so wrong all the time.

    This reminds me of the WaPo story Daniel Davis got his panties in a bunch about at the beginning of the Kherson offensive when they found a Ukrainian to go on record about how tough the fighting was in Kherson. I’d say that turned out just fine.

    In just about every other area the Russians are losing FAR more men than Ukraine is. Especially in Vuhledar.

    bottom line: at least the other Putinista trolls around here wear their propaganda proudly. You try to mask your Putinism in a facade of intellectualism that is pure fiction.

    Nothing you post ever stands up to the slightest bit of basic research. And when you get called on it you lash out rather than learn how to do critical thinking and actual fact checking. I will continue to call BS on you for it as long as you persist.

  17. from Russia with love

    March 21, 2023 at 4:58 am

    @ funny Gary Jacobs
    why doesn’t Russia have to wait until the mud dries up and Russia successfully launches offensives, liberates Soledar, and surrounds Artemovsk? your statements are reminiscent of the reports of the fascist generals from the Battle of Kursk, when from the southern flank the Germans wrote to the headquarters that because of the rain the German tanks could not go on the offensive and on the same day, from the northern flank, the German generals wrote to the headquarters that the Russians, taking advantage of the rain, went on the offensive. :)))
    By the way, the Ukrainians are already trying to attack. near Kreminna in 3 days, Ukrainians buried 2 companies of NATO-trained soldiers and armor that supported this suicidal attack. this was filmed just two days ago. will you find the first attack yourself or are you not allowed to look at the Ukrainian meat raids? 🙂
    Ukraine attacked Ivanovskoe-Krasne? like this? Ivanovskoye was and remained under the control of Ukrainian troops. musicians have not yet stormed this settlement. in Ivanovskoye Ukrainians who were counterattacked by Ukrainians? :))) actually a vivid example of your virtual victories. 🙂 pig Reich reported on the counterattack on the settlement in which the Ukrainian troops are stationed. :)))

    ha ha ha 🙂 come on, tell us about fundamental research :)))

  18. Gary Jacobs

    March 21, 2023 at 9:32 am

    From Russia with Fraud,

    Russia doesnt wait for the mud to dry because they fight stupidly with Zero care in the world for their own soldiers.

    As I mentioned, they have lost tens of thousands of men for barely any gains. And go look at what is left of Soledar that Russia “liberated”. It’s a pile of rubble. Because Russia cannot do sophisticated combined arms, they send in a Tos-1 thermobaric weapon and level the place until there is no where left for the defenders to take cover. Russian barbarism at its finest.

    Furthermore, Videos of Russian soldiers complaining about how incompetent their commanders are appear all over the web. Go look up the 155th Naval Infantry in Vuhledar. They have been decimated more than once, and posted videos and audio recordings with their complaints.

    In Vuhledar it isnt even a fight, Ukraine has fixed their areas of advance and obliterated them. Over and over and over.

    There are narrow passages in part because of the mud. The ratio is more than 10 dead Russians for every Ukrainian. Likely even higher.

    The Russians are having similar problems near Kreminna and Svatova. Though not quite as high of a death ratio, they have made near Zero gains.

    The saddest part is the wives of Russian soldiers posting their own videos to demand better equipment and conditions for their husbands.

    By contrast, Ukraine actually cares about their soldiers. And as brave as they are, and many willing to give their lives to fight off the Russian Imperialists…that doesnt mean their lives should be thrown away as easily as a Russian commander throws away his soldiers’ lives.

    With any luck, soon you will be forced into the fight to experience it all first hand.

  19. from Russia with love

    March 22, 2023 at 4:36 am

    @funny Gary Jacobs
    There is a problem. many Western publications wrote about the fact that the Ukrainian authorities do not care about their meat. wrote about very heavy irretrievable losses and that a large number of sanitary losses (these were the wounded who could have been saved, but they died due to lack of medical care and unsanitary conditions). will you ignore these articles so that your fictional world, in which Ukraine wins, does not collapse? normal approach 😉 but it doesn’t change the real world.
    I am intrigued! Tell me, and social readers, how does the assault on urban development look like in the view of the great couch theorist Gary Jacobs, in which Ukrainian terrorists placed firing points and armor? I’m very interested in your versions;) maybe something on the example of Masoul using “very selective” carpet bombing with B52? :))) God, what a moral freak you are.
    “Russian barbarity” was shown to you quite recently. Have you already forgotten how people like you burned asses from Putin’s visit to Mariupol? I really liked the unbearable suffering of people like you from how Mariupol is being restored. 😉
    “Go look up the 155th Naval Infantry in Vuhledar. They have been decimated more than once, and posted videos and audio recordings with their complaints.” destroyed? repeatedly??? do you read what you write? this unit was not sent to re-form or replenish and has been fighting for about 6 months. Are you saying that the Russians are using black magic and raising their dead soldiers? :))) At the same time, Ukrainian units are regularly taken to the rear for reorganization. Do you know under what conditions a unit is assigned for reorganization? units that have lost more than 70% of their strength are leaving for reorganization. and I will again poke your face into the Ukrainian cemeteries where the place ends;) but you will continue to fantasize about the fact that there are 10 Russians for 1 dead Ukrainian 🙂 Hitler also loved the reports of his generals about how many hundreds of thousands of Russians they killed in a month . Do you remember what happened to Hitler? he poisoned himself in his bunker surrounded by Russians. 😉
    Ukraine cares about its soldiers? did you watch the video i posted in my last post? care for their soldiers is expressed in an attack across the open field on the fortified positions of the Russians under the fire of Russian artillery and helicopters? the concern is to send two companies to their deaths and achieve nothing? What can I say, great job. Or maybe this concern lies in the fact that the Ukrainian commander, who gave an interview to Western journalists and spoke about the great losses and the difficult situation in Artemovsk, was removed from his post? great too! 🙂
    “With any luck, soon you will be forced into the fight to experience it all first hand.” you again confused with Ukraine;) it is in Ukraine that there is a constant mobilization and it is already being carried out by violent methods, grabbing people on the street. I already wrote that now the record was set by a Ukrainian who was mobilized and after 3 days died in Artemovsk.
    By the way, do you know that in Artemovsk, the Wagner unit sends 20-30 trucks with the bodies of killed Ukrainian terrorists to the Ukrainian side about once every 2 weeks?

  20. from Russia with love

    March 22, 2023 at 5:10 am

    @funny Gary Jacobs
    Russia announced its goals in Ukraine last year, officially and publicly.
    1) denazification of Ukraine. (in progress)
    2) demilitarization of Ukraine. (The demilitarization of Ukraine has long been completed and now Russia is engaged in the demilitarization of NATO.)
    why does Russia need some kind of noticeable promotion if the cocaine addict Zelensky himself drives the Ukrainian Nazis under Russian shells?
    for you and Zelensky (apparently you use a similar powder), some kind of promotion is very important, because without this there will be no Western assistance. the west will not invest in losers. without Western help, the Ukrainian Nazi junta will come to an end within a month. BUT! Why does Russia need some kind of rapid attacks? Russia does not depend on Western aid. Russia produces enough ammunition to dominate the artillery. Zelensky himself throws his reserves into the meat grinder. why extra movement?
    Ukraine is only retreating for three months. in the West have already begun to notice it 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *