In July, the Club of Three held a second webinar on the war in Ukraine in collaboration with the China International Institute of Strategic Studies (CIISS).
Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine had not developed in the way that most observers, from the East and West, had expected. While Russian forces had had their successes in the south and the east of Ukraine, the failure of their assault on Kiev and Kharkiv, and the more nimble and effective strategy and tactics of the Ukrainian forces, had made the headlines so far.
The Ukrainian forces had battled with great determination and displayed higher motivation and morale. Their initial weaknesses in terms of numbers and equipment had been somewhat redressed by support from the US and from NATO and non-NATO European nations. While the Russian forces still possessed huge advantages in what was currently a mainly artillery war, the outcome was more in the balance than would have seemed likely in February.
The discussion compared European and Chinese perceptions of the war, and encouraged observations and educated speculation on what the prospects were. Some European military figures had experience of working with Ukrainians now on the front line; for their part, Chinese military and academic figures had considerable knowledge of the command structures and the culture of Russia’s army, which shared some common origins given similarities between the old Soviet Red Army and the People’s Liberation Army.
It went on to consider what prospects there might be for a truce, a ceasefire and ultimately cessation of hostilities. As far as the war’s long-term effects were concerned, would the hostilities in Ukraine lead to greater international tensions between the West and China, leading to some kind of new Cold War? Could anything be done to avoid that outcome?
The discussion was jointly chaired by Club of Three Chairman Michael Maclay and Professor Lanxin Xiang, Director of the Institute of Security Policy at the China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation (CNISCO), Shanghai.
The main speakers were:
General (Ret.) Jean-Paul Paloméros, Former Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, NATO, and Chief of Staff of the French Air Force, 2009-12
Senior Colonel (Ret.) Li Yaqiang, Senior Researcher, Naval Research Institute (PLA Navy’s Strategic Thinktank), Chief Military Commentator on the war in Ukraine for CCTV
Brigadier General (Ret.) Rainer Meyer zum Felde, Former German Representative, NATO’s Defence Policy and Planning Committee
Major General (Ret.) Yang Xuguang, Former Defence Attaché to the Russian Federation; Former Defence Attaché to the DPRK
General (Ret.) Sir Christopher Deverell, Former Commander of the UK Joint Force Command and Member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, 2016-19
Senior Colonel (Ret.) Bai Zonglin, Senior Research Fellow, CIISS; Member, Training Supervisors Committee, China’s National Defence University; Member of the Board of Experts, UN Peacekeeping Challenge Forum; Former Defence Attaché to Belgium
Participants included: Lieutenant General (Ret.) Chen Xiaogong (Deputy Commander, PLA Air Force); Rear Admiral (Ret.) Zhao Dengping (Former Deputy Chief of the Equipment Department, PLA); Major General (Ret.) Meng Xuezheng (Vice President of CIISS; Former Director of PLA 3 (Cyber Command), Department of Chief of Staff); Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom (Chairman of the UK Parliament’s Defence Select Committee, 2005-14; Former British Minister of State for Defence Procurement); Peter Jones (Distinguished Fellow, RUSI; Director of Defence and International Security, British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, 2014-17); Oksana Antonenko (Director, Control Risks); Sarah Kirchberger (Head of the Center for Asia-Pacific Strategy & Security, Institute for Security Policy at the Kiel University); Wolfgang Ischinger (President of the Foundation Council, Munich Security Conference; Former German Ambassador to the UK and US); Volker Stanzel (Vice-President, German Council on Foreign Relations; Former German Ambassador to China and Japan); General (Ret.) Sir Richard Shirreff (Deputy Supreme Commander Europe, NATO, 2011-14); Ralph D. Thiele (Colonel (Ret.); Chairman, Politisch-Militärische Gesellschaft; CEO, StratByrd Consulting).