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Putin is the Junior Dictator in Meeting with Xi

Putin is the Junior Dictator in Meeting with Xi

(Disclaimer:  The photo atop this commentary is not real, but it symbolically illustrates the point.  Think of it as an editorial cartoon.)

Yes, all the diplomatic niceties were to be seen.  Russian President Putin heaped lavish praise on Chinese President Xi.  In return, Chinese President Xi heaped praise on Russian President Putin.  To paraphrase the Bard of Avon, it was a lot of sound and ceremony signifying nothing.

They pledged their undying affections, but it all seemed more convenient than love.  Xi finds Putin useful as a foil to use against the West in general – and the United States specifically.  He is looking to displace America as the king of the international mountain.  Putin needs his Big Brother as the most powerful of the small number of international allies Moscow has these days.

Despite their previous pledge to be friends and partners in everything, there seem to be limits on everything – at least on the part of  Xi.  He has thus far refused to be all-in on the Ukraine invasion.  He has given Putin some verbal support, but it is tepid.  More importantly, he has not given Putin the thing he wants and needs most – military equipment.  Even after two lovefest meetings, the answer on weaponry is still yet.

In the most recent meeting, Xi conceded to none of Putin’s requests.  The leaders agreed to have more meetings, produce joint television programming, and work on the nuclear reactor Russia is building for China. In addition to the weapons issue, what Putin wanted and did not get was the go-ahead for the Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline into China. The big winner was Xi, who increased China’s leverage over Russia in an increasingly unequal partnership.

Xi was not in Moscow to accomplish much.  It was more of a public relations event directed at the international community.  Xi went there to burnish his image of a peacemaker –in order to broker a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine.  Xi knew the ceasefire plan was a non-starter.  It was too unfavorable to Ukraine to be taken seriously — but it still gets him an “E” for effort.  

Xi always has the option to reverse course and send lethal weapons – but so far, he has no reason to do so.  Xi is attempting to build an influential relationship with most of the world.  His country already has all kinds of trade and business deals with scores of nations supporting Ukraine.  He does not want to disrupt them by putting China in lockstep behind Putin’s blunder.

Xi has very reason to believe that Russia is going to lose that war eventually.  He does not want to be on the losing side. That would make his claim to world leadership highly tenuous.

Xi has three problems with Putin’s dirty little war.  The first is that Putin started the war.  It went against China’s long-stated policy of respecting borders to maintain international stability – which is important to the free flow of commerce, which is important to China.

The second issue for Xi is how Putin is conducting the war.  The brutality of the attacks has brought widespread condemnation of Putin with the United Nations and the greater world community.  He has been repeatedly and credibly described as a war criminal – and recently, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted Putin as a war criminal and issued a warrant for his arrest.  

Finally, Xi’s concern is that Russia appears to be losing the war.  The ineptitude of the Russian military has resulted in the loss of at least half of the original invasion force to field fatalities, injuries, and capture.  This is a monumental embarrassment over and above a strategic setback of unimaginable proportions.

Putin has put his friend Xi in a difficult position.  He cannot go all in with Putin – and he cannot walk away completely.

Reckless disregard for international norms and stability are not qualities of leadership. If Putin thinks that the meeting in Moscow was between two world leaders, he is deluding himself.  Putin was the little guy on the state next to Xi – both in physical stature and political influence.

Xi’s true opinion of Putin is more likely evident in what he did NOT do during their face-to-face meeting.  

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Tom

    Larry, first let me thank you for noting that the picture is fake. I saw it and thought it was a Sino-Russo bromance pic of the rated X variety. Whew!!!

    I agree with everything you said. Putin appears to be getting smaller day by day. And now there are only two “big guys” in the world, Joe and Xi. I think Xi has gone just about as far as he can with Putin and Russia. To go any further, Germany which is Xi’s biggest Euro trading partner, will pull back on trade as will many other NATO countries. Xi put himself in a very tenuous positions. Even if Xi stopped the war tomorrow and gave Putin asylum, he would be viewed very negatively. Not many off ramps for either of them, except off-Putin and start over another day.


    GEEZUS!! All this happening from voting from THE DEVIANT DEMS THAT VOTED IN XI JINPING BIDEN for the continuation of practicing their love to HATE TRUMP!!! U N B I E V A B L E!!!!!


      GEEZUS!! All this happening by THE DEVIANT DEMS VOTING IN XI JINPING BIDEN for the continuation of practicing their love to HATE TRUMP!!! U N B I E V A B L E!!!!!

  3. AC

    I find wonder and amazement in your surety, Larry.
    Knowing what is in Xi’s mind, how he reasons, what he is thinking, what he basis his judgement on, how he thinks of Putin, and a cloud of suppositions seems a risky bet. Xi, by his actions, has shown himself for who he is and the evil he is capable of perpetuating on his own people and messaging retaliation against the West should he deem it necessary.
    Xi is a slippery, cunning, soulless, despotic, corrupt, vengeful, megalomaniacal, mendacious, murdering autocrat, and greater dictator than Putin.
    All the above happens to be a short list of Xi’s shortcomings. Your estimation of Putin as the lesser of the the two for dictatorship status appears obvious throughout the world. No great revelation on that, as it is one opinion the world audience, apart from Russians, agree upon.
    Xi, in the past has always done that which was good for Xi himself, not the CCC, nor the Chinese populace, or his communist regime allies. Prognostications based on assumptions made about Xi’s state of mind at any one time prove shaky and unreliable. As, his power allows ability in ways unimaginably despicable.
    Putin’s atrocities in his unjustified war on Ukraine is paltry. Xi’s brutality carried out on his Chinese people has been covered over. Yet, details leaked and reported are mind numbing for its barbarism.
    Proposing to know the mind of Xi has been The Puzzle our Intelligence agencies are continually trying to piece together. Anyone with credible information, decisive intuition, infallible judgement, and a cogent strategy is duty bound and must connect with pertinent government officials.
    In the case of a dime a dozen plenty available opinions, what we see is “ Ripped from the news headlines”. So, two bad guy’s, friends I’m crime, have a met and greet. These two each head up the world’s biggest crime syndicates. Naturally, their meeting stirs news.
    What business was transacted, who really knows? However, the World can know for sure the topic was not World Peace. That’s one subject we can assuredly bet was not thought of and never will come to mind in either case.
    In a Court of Law, when one in testimony believes and contends knowledge of the contents of the Defendant’s mind when the Defendant did not reveal to anyone that content. That testimony receives objection from the Defense for its being inadmissible.
    The basis for that judgment is a sane understanding, no one knows, with out a doubt, those thoughts on another persons mind. Clairvoyance gifts aside, who can know what’s in another person’s mind?
    Xi, all evidence indicates, has not picked our Larry of PBP fame as a close confidant. Likely, if Xi does truthfully confide his thoughts and plans to someone That individual would be sworn to secrecy under threat of death.
    We, with very restricted and limited knowledge regarding intimate international diplomacy intel are more often than not way off the beam claiming understanding assumed in commentary.
    Me thinks you, Larry, insert your customary tagline as insurance. So, there ‘tis may cover over a multitude in journalistic sins, commission as well as omission.