Skip to content
Opinion
Adrian Wooldridge

The West Misjudged Russia. It Shouldn’t Repeat That Mistake with China.

Its policies toward both superpowers have been based on the same illusions and flawed assumptions.

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.

Photographer: Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Here’s another nightmare to add to a lengthening list: The current economic war between the West and Russia may simply be the first act of a much bigger economic war between the West and China. Not only can China inflict much greater damage than Vladimir Putin’s ailing petro-state — and Russia is inflicting considerable damage on the global economy — but a war with both China and Russia (and their client states) could mean a long-term, prosperity-destroying division of the world into two hostile blocks.

Nothing can excuse Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine. Yet the West also must recognize the significant strategic mistakes in its handling of Russia, mistakes that have lowered our collective defenses and infuriated the Putin regime. The West turned a deaf ear to Russia’s long-standing complaints about encirclement and cultural imperialism.