Despite Major Setbacks In Ukraine, Several Countries Have Stepped Up To Help Putin

Dr. E.C. Beuck

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President Vladimir Putin of RussiaPresidential Executive Office of Russia

Things have not been going well for President Vladimir Putin and the Russian forces deployed in Ukraine. Over the past month, Ukrainian forces have retaken control over thousands of miles of territory and liberated more than 300 villages from Russian forces. Over this past week, an opportunistic counterattack changed into a rapid advance that broke through Russian defenses near Kharkiv, leading to the recapture of a number of important cities in eastern Ukraine, including Izium and Kupyansk. These two cities in particular were being used by Russian forces as logistical hubs to supply their military in Ukraine. There loss is a major blow to any Russian effort to halt, let along push back, the Ukrainian advance.

That must really sting the Russian leadership, as Ukraine has now liberated more territory in five days than the Russian armed forces were able to capture in the previous five months. The retreat by Russian forces has seen them abandon more than 1,000 tanks, an amount greater than all the tanks held by France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom combined. Beyond tanks, Russia has also abandoned thousands of other ground combat vehicles and even dozens of helicopters and fight jets.

Despite these major setbacks, however, a few countries have stepped up their support for Putin.

Li Zhanshu, who is the third most powerful official in the Chinese government as the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, visited Moscow to meet with the Russian leadership this past week. Since then, Li has pledged China's "understanding and full support" to Russia. Even more explicit, Li stated in front of Russian lawmakers that: "On the Ukraine issue, for example, the United States and NATO are expanding directly on Russia's doorstep, threatening Russia's national security and the lives of Russian citizens." This rhetoric supports Putin's stated motivations for engaging in the war from the start, and with potential increased support coming from China to Russia, the Russian armed forces might yet bounce back in the future.

Another continued source of relief has come from Saudi Arabia in regards to oil prices and the global energy trade. At the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Saudi Arabia invested more than $600 million in Russia's three main energy companies. Saudi Arabia has also acted to double its purchase of fuel oil from Russia to use for its domestic energy needs, which occurred in the wake of a number of countries like the United States cutting off oil imports from the invader of Ukraine. More recently, Saudi Arabia has pushed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and associated producers to act to reduce production of oil, in a bid to shore up global oil prices and increase profits.

So long as China, Saudi Arabia, and others continue to act in this manner, the full impacts of the sanctions being levied against Putin and Russia can be resisted to a degree. And that will mean a longer war, perhaps even despite the recent astounding successes achieved by Ukraine.

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Holding a PhD in Political Science, I write about current events and on political topics related to international relations, international law, conflict both between and within states, and the interactions between technology and politics.

Washington, DC
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