In the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping hailed the “no limits” partnership between their nations, claiming there are no “forbidden areas” of cooperation between the two superpowers. Now, there are reports that Beijing could bolster Moscow with arms for the first time in Ukraine after the Russian army has suffered heavy losses of troops and military hardware. However, while Xi and Putin have spoken of their strong ties, Russia would be crushed in a war with its ally, according to US military expert Dr John Callahan.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “I think Russia wouldn’t stand a chance against China without using nuclear weapons.
“Especially in the area where they would fight, which would be Siberia. Russia has very limited ability.
“Let’s say the Chinese invaded Siberia right now. There’s a fair chance that the Russians would just turn the keys and launch the nukes.
“Because they would have to completely disengage from Ukraine, and somehow, on their creaky pathetic logistics system, get their forces halfway around the world to fight the Chinese.”
Dr Callahan is a former diplomat and State Department spokesperson, who now works as a military adviser and a dean at New England College in the US.
He has been closely following the events in Ukraine, as well as the escalating tensions between China and Taiwan on the edge of the South China Sea.
Beijing claims the self-governing island nation as its own and aims to “reunify” it with mainland China.
In recent weeks Chinese forces have held live-fire military exercises off Taiwan, which Taipei, the island’s capital, claims is preparation for an invasion.
However, if tensions in the region around Taiwan were somehow to involve Russia, Dr Callahan is sceptical of Moscow’s abilities.
In response to the idea of Russian troops being able to fight in China, he said: “I just don’t see it.”
China’s army is ahead of Russia in terms of active personnel, with 2.1million, compared to Russia’s 1.5million before the Ukraine war.
But Russia has more military hardware than China in some areas, including more than twice as many tanks as China before the Ukraine war.
But in terms of the global powers that could realistically take on China, Dr Callahan rejected Russia, adding: “That leaves the Americans.”
He explained: “The Americans absolutely are more capable and could defeat China if the full power of the US armed forces was actually in the Pacific and actually fighting them where they are.
“The problem is, they would get some early licks in because the US is spread all over the world.
Putin’s nuclear arsenal re-assessed: ‘Could destroy all major cities’ [ANALYSIS]
Putin offers weapons with allies around the world [REPORT]
Putin endgame as Russia’s economy tipped to crumble under sanctions [INSIGHT]
“So, full capability, it would be a bloodbath, but we would win.
“But [in the] short term, the Chinese probably could achieve limited objectives simply because all of our forces aren’t there.”
Despite China’s potential for some early military successes in the region, Dr Callahan explained how the US could cripple Beijing economically: “We would instantly blockade Shanghai and the Chinese economy would grind to a halt almost immediately.
“Because we are sort of in a death embrace with China.
“For China, all you have to do is block the Straits of Malacca, the Philippine Sea, and the access to Shanghai, and you completely end the Chinese economy, because it’s all export.
“Of course, the ripple effect of that we are already seeing with the supply chain crisis.
“The western economies get kicked in the proverbials, because they are not getting their stuff from China anymore. Now, it is a question of who could survive that.”