Putin an Xi know that their biggest ally against the U.S. is the U.S. government. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:
Xi and Putin are riding multiple ‘horses’: One may need a touch of the spur; another reined back a tad.
‘Securing Ourselves Is in Our Hands; and Defeat of the Enemy Lies in His Own Hands’
(Sun Tzu, d. 496 BCE)
Whilst the structural shift to a multipolar world is now well understood in geo-political terms, its other dimensions are little noticed. The media focus is so much centred on the military situation in Ukraine that it is easily overlooked that President Putin has also been fighting a financial war – a war on liberal economic theory; and a diplomatic war for the support of the non-West and from key strategic allies, China and India.
On top of that, Putin has to manage the psyche inside Russia. His objective is to restore patriotism and a Russian national culture reconnected to its roots in Orthodox Christianity. To achieve this, he needs to let it evolve in a civil context – To allow the military aspect to become all-encompassing would be to skew the Russian consciousness in a very particular way.
President Putin has spoken on several occasions of the need for ‘civil Russia’ to have the oxygen to evolve in its own way – by re-appropriating its past cultural legacy in new form – and for that process not to be wholly subsumed into military needs and ethos.
So, the project is, in fact, wholly multi-faceted – although undoubtedly, the struggle to restore respect for sovereignty and for autonomy in internal affairs represents the project ‘key stone’.