Here's the important bit:
Regarding the probability of Russia weakening as a result of the war, such a change will certainly happen if it ends with anything sort of an outright Russian victory. Moreover, Russia will likely end up not only weakened but weakened in a way that it will most likely never again achieve the position it had among the great powers of the world before the war. Russia’s demographic and economic resources are in fact so weak, that what is surprising is not the weakness its’ military shows in Ukraine, but more how it managed to remain so strong so long after the fall of the Soviet Union. Regarding the size of its’ population Russia is the mere 9th on the global ranking, behind countries like Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Regarding its’ economy, measured by its’ GDP on a nominal rate, it is merely the 11th, behind countries like Canada, Italy, and South Korea. Moreover, as its’ economy is dominated by the exports of crude oil, natural gas, raw materials, and wheat, it is significantly less sophisticated than these economies. Given such weak positions in demographics and economy, Russia’s great power status was merely maintained due to what military capabilities it inherited from Soviet times, and a weakened international status after the war would merely mean it taking the rank for which its’ economic and demographic weight has already predestined it for anyway. Moreover, the mere exposure of the relative weakness of its’ military that the world is witnessing now is already a weakening of Russia’s international position, as earlier, the mere fact that the world perceived its’ military as much more powerful than it actually was conveyed a stronger international positioned. Thus, besides the actual military capabilities that Russia inherited from the Soviet Union, the mere general belief of it having been stronger than it actually was – this is a strength that it will never regain. Therefore, in the event of defeat, a weakened Russia isolated from the West finds itself in a position with no choice but to align itself with China, situating the country as junior partner in an alliance not only for a brief period until it recovers from the war, but for the long run, for decades to come.
From an economic standpoint, Russia invading Ukraine is similar to Canada invading Puerto Rico. Theoretically? Russia has $300b in foreign cash reserves (currently frozen). According to SEC filings, Apple has $200b. Russia was made into an outsized bogey-man by the USA because you can't practice capitalism to the fullest extent without a communist to oppose. Then they had nukes so they were given honorary opponent status, off and on, depending on our relationship with China. China, for its part, has grown from a tiny economy to the world's second largest because Capitalism basically gave them the table stakes and allowed 'em to play Story Mode for 20 years (first world capitalism always works better with third world squalor). Their demo is expiring - labor in China is now more expensive than Mexico and twice as expensive as Vietnam - and their economy is entirely dependent on exports (and the Albanian Mushrooms that are their housing sector).
when the enemy is making a false movement we must take good care not to interrupt him.
- Napoleon Bonaparte ish
I don't think China was "betting on Russian defeat." I think China had the juice to tell Putin not to fuck up their Olympics, which coincided with a much less mud-bogged Ukraine. It sure looks like the Russians would have Barbarossa'd the shit out of themselves either way, but their efforts might have been less farcical with less mud. So - diplomatic considerations likely interfering with tactical considerations, which gives you a sense of where Russia and China regard each other.
I also think China collapses in a right hurry if they're faced with the same heinous sanctions Russia is dealing with right now. The rumor is both dentistry and orthopedic surgery are effectively done in Russia because all of their drills, amalgams, orthotics, prosthetics and implants are no longer coming from Germany. Their commercial aviation industry likely has a week's worth of parts left. China is working on an indigenous aircraft industry? And I'm sure they'd love to have Russia as a client eventually? But they'd also like to have the rest of the world as a client and right now "not picking sides" is their most expedient move.
Here's what I wanna know - did Russia really ask for Chinese arms? Or did the United States say Russia asked for Chinese arms in order to force a denial from the Chinese and thereby (1) embarrass the shit out of Russia over the idea that they'd ever ask for Chinese arms, long considered horribly inferior to Russian arms (2) prevent China from ever extending military and humanitarian aid to Russia? Or is Russia that in the shit, that blind to the tea leaves and that pathetically fucked?
'cuz here's the thing: the fierce ex-soviet war machine ain't lookin' so fierce. By all estimates, China will look far worse. The world is already talking about how shitty Chinese tires are; Chinese arms in the hands of Russians will not be good for Chinese sales.