Despite the attention paid to how Russia’s economy is in crisis, isolated and hammered by Western sanctions as a result of its war with Ukraine, its most significant partner, China is also experiencing major tremors. China, more than any other large country, is sinking further into the economic abyss. Financial stress emerging from China’s property industry has exploded to record heights in recent weeks, destabilizing an already fragile economy and making it less likely that Beijing would support Russia’s objectives in Ukraine vigorously.
An assistant to Ukraine’s president said that Ukrainian and Russian diplomats are discussing a possible ceasefire in negotiations that restarted in Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday morning. President Volodymyr Zelensky’s adviser, Mykhaylo Podolyak, would release a statement “in several hours.” The delegations are “working in parallel on the whole gamut of sensitive subjects,” according to Podolyak.
Separately, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted that the primary responsibilities of the first phase of a “special military operation” had been finished, fanning speculation that Moscow is also seeking a means to legitimize peace deal.
“On the whole, the major aims of the first stage of the operation have been met,” Shoigu said. “The fighting capacity of Ukraine’s military forces has been significantly diminished, allowing us to focus our resources and attention on the fundamental aim — the liberation of Donbas.” Russia has recognized the two separatist statelets it has funded since 2014, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, as autonomous before invading Ukraine on February 24th.
Shoigu, on the other hand, made no direct mention of Moscow’s other stated goals – the ‘de-Nazification’ and ‘demilitarization’ of Ukraine – indicating that the Kremlin has backed down from its more severe demands after facing significantly more pushback than it had anticipated. Since the commencement of the conflict, Ukraine’s Zelensky has softened his country’s stance, proposing to remove the country’s goal to join NATO, which is now written in the country’s constitution. One of the most difficult aspects of the upcoming talks will be ensuring Ukraine’s security in the absence of stronger friends.