Big global news this week as Russian President Vlad “The Mad” Putin welcomed his Chinese counterpart, President (and perhaps ruler for life) Xi Jinping to Moscow. The visit comes at a time when the Russian potentate is desperately looking for someone to tell him he’s doing the right thing in Ukraine and to provide economic help to his increasingly isolated country. Also, apparently his fighting troops could also use a round of ammunition or two and some big missiles, among other implements of war.

As has been reported, the two leaders, or “good old friends” as Putin referred to Xi recently, signed a “no limits” strategic partnership last year. That type of agreement certainly seems to be open to rather broad interpretation. Some pundits have suggested China just wants to play a role in resolving the crisis in Ukraine. Others say Xi sees an opportunity to bring Russia into its sphere and wants to leverage its own current powerful world position to dominate Moscow. Regardless of its actual reasons for chatting with the Russians, what tends to come through loudly and clearly in any scenario is that China is looking out for China one way or the other.

Nothing unique about that. Every leader of every country certainly wants what he or she thinks is best for his or her constituency. To no one’s surprise, the United States’ reaction to Xi’s visit is one of skepticism, the thought being that if there were to be a ceasefire now, it basically means China approves of Russia’s actions so far.

Given the fact that Russia could seemingly use a helping hand or two from China, you have to wonder how one-sided those talks between the two countries really have been. Sure, the initial smiles and handshakes broadcast to the world tend to make you think both leaders are approaching this visit on an equal footing. But what’s really going on once the cameras leave and the two leaders are sitting across a table from one another?

I’m wondering if at least one of their conversations went something like this:

PUTIN: I appreciate you not making me kiss your ring in front of the cameras.

Xi: There’s no need to grovel in public. At least not yet.

PUTIN: So, did you bring the guns and ammo with you?

Xi: All in good time. Big question is, how did you let this Ukraine situation get so out of hand? I thought it was supposed to be two days and out. It’s been over a year, and it still doesn’t look good.

PUTIN: My generals assured me it would be a fast operation.

Xi: Wouldn’t happen under my watch. We have ways of dealing with generals who don’t produce results.

PUTIN: What do you do, put them to work at a Wuhan lab?

Xi: (Irritated) What did you say?

PUTIN: (Quickly backtracking) It was a joke. Really.

Xi: Not a good one.

PUTIN: Yeah, I see that. Hey, on another subject, too bad about your spy balloon being shot down by the American swine.

Xi: Weather balloon.

PUTIN: Oh, yeah, I forgot.

Xi: No worries. We still have TikTok, and we get a lot more information from that than we could ever get from a balloon.

PUTIN: Speaking of the U.S., how can we blame them for what’s happening in Ukraine?

Xi: Well, you’ve kind of messed that up. When you controlled the oil and gas that European countries depended on, you had leverage over them and could count on them to help paint the Americans in a bad light. But you blew that.

PUTIN: Thank goodness you’re still buying from us.

Xi: Yeah, about that. We’re kind of thinking about an exchange of sorts.

PUTIN: What do you mean?

Xi: You give us oil, we give you guns. Say, ten barrels for one bazooka.

PUTIN: Seems like a stiff price.

Xi: You got any better offers?

PUTIN: Hmmm. I believe I see your point.

Xi: I thought you might. And there’s one other thing.

PUTIN: What?

Xi: Send some of that Ukrainian wheat to Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang. The North Koreans are starving again.

PUTIN: HE certainly isn’t.

Xi: No, he seldom misses a meal.

PUTIN: Why can’t YOU send his people some food?

Xi: Have you seen how many Chinese I have to feed?

PUTIN: Okay, okay, we’ll send some wheat.

Xi: And some caviar for Respected Comrade Kim.

PUTIN: Are you kidding? What’s in this for me?

Xi: You get your munitions, and you get to stay in power. For now.

PUTIN: For now?

Xi: Yes. And you’d better take care of Ukraine soon. Don’t make me have to come here again. I won’t be so nice next time.

©MMXXIII. William J. Lewis, III  – Freelance Writer