China is “trying to learn” Russia’s failures; CIA Director ‘Doesn’t Rule Out’ Invasion of Taiwan in the Near Future

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CIA director William Burns suggested that China would look into Russia’s many failures in Ukraine, which could provide clues as to “how and when” Beijing might invade Taiwan.

“I think we think it probably has less of an impact on whether the Chinese leadership can decide in a few years to use force control of Taiwan“but how and when will they do it,” Burns told a security forum in Aspen. “If there’s one lesson I think they can learn from Putin’s experience in Ukraine, it’s that you can’t win quick, decisive victories with overwhelming force.”

Burns gave an extensive interview at the forum, touching on topics ranging from Iran’s nuclear capabilities to the imprisonment in Russia of American basketball player Brittney Griner. But he spent most of his time debating the two great rival states of the United States.

He paid special attention Russian invasion of Ukraine including Putin’s mentality and possible factors that contributed to Russia’s many failures to win the conflict quickly and decisively, and what lessons China can learn from this experience as it considers invading Taiwan.

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CIA Director William Burns speaks at an event at the Georgia Institute of Technology on Thursday in Atlanta.

CIA Director William Burns speaks at an event at the Georgia Institute of Technology on Thursday in Atlanta.
(AP/Brynn Anderson)

“I would not underestimate President Xi’s determination to assert Chinese control over Taiwan,” Burns said. “He is determined to ensure that his armed forces have the capacity to take such action should he choose to move in that direction.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine proved to be a “strategic failure” for Putin, and Burns revealed that he believes the latest U.S. intelligence assessments point to 15,000 Russian soldiers killed and “maybe three times” more soldiers are wounded. This was the first information in recent months about possible Russian losses from any intelligence source.

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“Ukrainians have also suffered, maybe a little less, but overall the losses are significant losses,” Burns said, adding that, in his opinion, “Russia plans to dig in and continue to pummel Ukraine, and believes that when winter comes and fuel costs in Europe are so high that NATO solidarity will weaken.”

According to Burns, Putin’s failure to “split NATO” will be his greatest mistake. alliance will add Finland and Swedenallowing it to “strengthen deployment”.

Instead, Russia has now “fallen back to a convenient mode of warfare,” shifting focus to the Donbas region, instead relying on “long-range firepower” to create a standoff and compensate for weak manpower.

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This may have led China to become more “cautious” about its military after seeing Putin bringing Europeans and Americans closer together. This “unsettled the Chinese … because they also counted on their ability to pit some Europeans against the Americans,” Burns said.

“The Chinese leadership was somewhat dismayed – especially in the early days of Putin’s war in Ukraine – by what they saw. combat performance of the Russians early and the performance of Russian weapons. Worried about the economic uncertainty that the war is unleashed around the world in a year.

“I think Xi Jinping’s main concern is to hold a very important party congress in the fall and ensure a relatively predictable global economic landscape.”

Burns also discussed the threat of global warming and said it was a challenge comparable to that of China.

“If you assume, as I do, that the People’s Republic of China is the biggest geopolitical challenge our country will face in the 21st century, then my understanding is that the biggest existential threat in many ways is climate change,” he said. . said.

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the worldwide threat on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. April 15, 2021.

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the worldwide threat on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. April 15, 2021.
(Al Drago/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The CIA director also repeated warnings about Iran’s increasing speed in acquiring a nuclear device, which he repeated earlier this month. French Foreign Minister.

He noted that under the JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Nuclear Agreement, “from which the last administration withdrew several years ago, the time to produce this amount of fissile material was just over a year.”

Today, he said that “the same breakthrough time can be measured not in more than years, but in weeks.”

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Burns also told the audience at the Aspen Security Forum he was in Afghanistan a week before the US withdrawal.

“I would say, as the president has publicly stated, that none of us expected the Afghan government to flee as quickly as it did, or that the Afghan military would collapse so quickly.

“Having said that, I think the CIA at least has always been on the more pessimistic end of the spectrum, in terms of highlighting, you know, during the spring and summer, the obvious ways the Taliban moved quickly and how it pounded in many ways not only political leadership, but also military.”