Washington’s Nightmare*

*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

Dmitry Drize speaks about a much anticipated visit to Washington by China’s foreign minister.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang is expected to visit Washington after Secretary of State Antony Blinken invited his counterpart to hold the next round of talks in the U.S. during Blinken’s visit to Beijing. In addition, Blinken says that it is possible President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping will meet in the very near future. This could happen at the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco in November. Meanwhile, the international community is seriously discussing reports about alleged Chinese plans to build a military base in Cuba. Kommersant political observer Dmitry Drize believes that Beijing is about to retaliate and strike a blow to America.

Blinken visited China after all. As a result, China and the U.S. have agreed to continue talking in the future. Perhaps there will be a historic meeting between Biden and Xi at the APEC summit in San Francisco this November. There might even be a political breakthrough, which the current U.S. president genuinely needs as he pursues a second term.

In other words, Biden wants to reach a global agreement before the 2024 presidential election. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time for that given the November 2024 election date. There is a lingering hope that an agreement will be reached, but almost everything depends on the skill of the diplomats.

In the meantime, it is safe to say that Beijing has provided an effective response to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, and in general to the rebellious island’s rapprochement with America. China is reportedly going to establish a military base in Cuba. There must be a grain of truth in all these reports about the Chinese plan to build such a base there because it would be a nightmare for Washington if Beijing really did so. This dangerous situation won’t become a new Cuban Missile Crisis because it won’t involve any nuclear weapon. Apparently, the Chinese are planning to build a surveillance station and establish a joint military training facility in Cuba.

It’s common knowledge that the Lourdes radio-electronic center was closed in 2002. This unique Soviet facility, built during the Cold War, allowed spying along nearly the entire southern border of the United States. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s new partners wanted to shut the center down, and eventually they succeeded. Moscow agreed because it wanted to establish better relations with the U.S. Well, we all know that it didn’t work.

Now China is taking the place of the Soviet Union. Finally, it is China’s turn to teach the Americans a lesson. Cuba is also a perfect bargaining chip because China wants the U.S. to leave Taiwan alone. If the Americans do so, Beijing will ignore the Cuban revolutionaries’ calls for help.

This poses a reasonable question: Why is it China, and not Russia, that is establishing a military presence in Cuba? This is difficult to answer. Perhaps Russia lacks the necessary technology to rebuild the Lourdes facility, or Russia may lack political clout.

In general, these contacts between the U.S. and China recall those of the Soviet era. Both sides don’t like each other, but they are still holding talks. These talks are complicated, but the dialogue continues despite the intermittent friction. Perhaps this will help the opponents defuse international tensions. Both China and the U.S. recognize that they are responsible for the fate of humankind.

What about Russia? It seems that Russia is out of the picture for now. Moreover, there are reports that China has suddenly reduced its purchases of Russian oil, while China’s largest bank refuses to help Russian clients transfer payments to the West in order to circumvent sanctions. Perhaps there are some technical issues and not political issues that prevent Chinese banks from working with Russian clients. However, was it a coincidence that these difficulties occurred during Blinken’s official visit to Beijing? By the way, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also a great friend and strategic partner of Moscow, has just visited the U.S. Why did he go to Washington and not Moscow? Either way, it will be good to defuse international tension.

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