Over several weeks, Liberty Nation reported the alarming specter of Russia building a formidable combat force on the Ukraine border. Combine those activities with the Chinese Communist Party’s recent naval exercises focused on Taiwan, and it creates a global strategic challenge for the U.S. military.
Looking at a dangerous world from a distance, it’s easy to conclude that Russia and China, purposefully or by serendipity, are working in concert to create a serious strategic threat to U.S. global interest. Russia, for its part, has increased its hostile actions in the Black Sea targeting Ukraine. An Associated Press article by Vladimir Isachenkov printed in the Military Times reported:
“Ukraine last week protested the Russian move to close broad areas of the Black Sea near Crimea to foreign navy ships and state vessels until November. The U.S. also aired its concern Monday, with State Department spokesman Ned Price saying, ‘this represents yet another unprovoked escalation in Moscow’s ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilize Ukraine.'”
In a recent issue of The Diplomat, Namrata Goswami explained the latest strategic agreement between Russia and China to explore and exploit the moon’s surface. Goswami said about the Russia-China agreement:
“This lunar MoU is a continuation of the two nations’ geopolitical behavior on Earth, where China and Russia have established alternative security systems like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which Russia is a participating country.”
Six months ago, the Associated Press reported that President Vladimir Putin said, “there is no need for a Russia-China military alliance now but noted it could be forged in the future.” The AP further reported that Putin said, “‘ Without any doubt, our cooperation with China is bolstering the defense capability of China’s army,’ he said, adding that the future could see even closer military ties between the two countries.”
Consequently, it is not a stretch to see Russia’s threatening behavior on the Ukraine border, which keeps NATO allies and the U.S. occupied, has geopolitical upside for China. Continuous exercises in the South China Sea, recent Chinese threats to hold back rare-earth minerals, and hostile naval operations off Taiwan’s coast signal China’s willingness to create mischief. As LN explained in its coverage of the recent high-level talks between the U.S. and China, Taiwan’s independence was a seminal issue.
In a recent report, Reuters’ staff correspondents said, “‘ Twenty-five Chinese air force aircraft including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Monday [April 12],” and added that it was the largest incursion to date. The accompanying Republic of China Military News Agency photo shows a Taiwanese F-16 intercepting a People’s Liberation Army Air Force H-6K Badger Bomber over the Taiwan Strait.
Russia and China double-teaming the U.S. is not a new strategic ploy; rather, it is a page out of the cold war-years playbook.
In an October 2, 1952 meeting between Nikita Khrushchev, first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and Mao Zedong, chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, the two leaders discussed Taiwan. Chairman Mao said, “The issue of Taiwan is clear, not only will we not touch Taiwan, but also the off-shore islands, for 10, 20, and perhaps 30 years.” The 30-year clock ran out in 1982. The Chinese have long memories and are patient.
Connecting the geopolitical dots is not hard. What appears to be happening for the moment is a Machiavellian gambit. Neither Russia nor China alone believes they are strong enough to confront the U.S., but together they are a match. Russia is stronger from a nuclear perspective, and China is stronger from a growing economic and conventional arms perspective.
China’s lagging in numbers of nuclear warheads may not last for long. A recent Pentagon report says, “Over the next decade, Chain’s nuclear warhead stockpile – currently estimated to be in the low-200s – is projected to at least double in size as China expands and modernizes its nuclear capabilities.”
In previous National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy documents, the threats posed by Russia and China were considered as individual threats, with each having unique threat characteristics. Viewing Russia and China as a combined and integrated threat to the U.S. in European or Pacific conflicts requires rethinking the U.S. global strategic force structure and engagement calculus.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
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