NATO’s secretary general has warned that a Russian victory in Ukraine would set a precedent for China to invade Taiwan amid US claims Beijing is supporting Putin’s war.
Jens Stoltenberg told Swedish outlet Expressen today that China could be encouraged to resort to taking Taiwan by force if Putin’s invasion succeeds, arguing ‘what happens in Europe today can happen in Asia tomorrow’ .
“The outcome of the war in Ukraine influences the conclusions reached in Beijing. The same goes for Taiwan,’ he said.
“If Putin gets what he wants with Ukraine by violating international law and using military force, it will send a message to other authoritarian leaders – including Beijing – that they can get what they want by using military force.”
The warning came as Stoltenberg admitted that the devastated Ukrainian city of Bakhmut is likely to fall to Russian hands in the coming days after months of bitter fighting.
Jens Stoltenberg (L) told Swedish outlet Expressen today that “what happens in Europe today can happen in Asia tomorrow,” arguing that China and President Xi (R) could be encouraged to take Taiwan by force if Putin’s invasion succeeds
Ukrainian soldiers are seen in the BTR military vehicles on the road near the Bakhmut frontline as military mobility continues within the Russo-Ukrainian War in Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on March 7, 2023
Volunteer soldiers fire on Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 8, 2023
A Ukrainian soldier screams as he hides in a trench near the frontline town of Bakhmut amid the Russian assault on Ukraine, Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 8, 2023
China’s authoritarian president Xi Jinping has made it clear that he considers the island of Taiwan to be part of China under the “One China” doctrine.
Taiwan’s democratically elected president, Tsai Ing-Wen, argues that the island is a self-governing state whose population massively rejects reunification with mainland China.
Xi has so far insisted he wants to conduct a “peaceful reunification process” but has said China reserves the right to use force, while Beijing’s navy and air force regularly conduct threatening exercises and missile launches in the Taiwan Strait.
While the circumstances surrounding a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan could be compared to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in reality the two conflicts would be vastly different given the close economic and trade ties that Taipei and Beijing share with many Western countries and the deep military ties of America with Taiwan.
Stoltenberg’s comments only add to the tense relationship between China and the West, which was further complicated on Tuesday when Beijing accused Washington of fomenting “conflict and confrontation.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed earlier this week that China is considering plans to provide Russia with weapons and “lethal aid” in its war with Ukraine.
Beijing’s new foreign minister, Qin Gang, said at a press conference on Tuesday that there would be “catastrophic consequences” if the United States continued in its current direction.
“If the United States does not apply the brakes but continues to go down the wrong path, no guardrail can prevent derailment, and conflicts and confrontations will certainly arise,” Qin told reporters.
The secretary of state called the US criticism of China “a reckless gamble, where the fundamental interests of two peoples and even the future of humanity are at stake.”
Beijing helped prevent attempts to condemn Moscow at the United Nations after signing a ‘no borders’ friendship agreement weeks before the invasion began (Russian President Vladimir Putin is pictured)
It was “a zero-sum game of life and death,” he added.
So China’s support for Russia has largely been rhetorical and political.
Beijing helped prevent attempts to condemn Moscow at the United Nations after signing a borderless friendship agreement weeks before the invasion began, and has refused to openly condemn the war.
China is also one of the largest importers of Russian oil and gas and considers its relationship with Russia essential to counterbalance the influence of NATO and Western powers.
But there is no public evidence that China is currently supplying arms to Russia and has consistently called for a peaceful cessation of hostilities.
Beijing called the claim it is considering supplying weapons to the Kremlin a “smear” and said it has no evidence.
It has insisted on being a neutral side in the conflict and has pointed the finger at the US and NATO for fanning the flames.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose during a rally in Beijing
A Ukrainian soldier communicates on a mobile phone in a trench near the frontline town of Bakhmut amid the Russian assault on Ukraine, Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 8, 2023
Ukrainian servicemen ride a 2C1 self-propelled howitzer along a road near the frontline city of Bakhmut amid the Russian attack on Ukraine, Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 8, 2023
The 23 million inhabitants of self-governed Taiwan live under the constant threat of invasion by authoritarian China, which considers the island its territory and has vowed to take it one day, by force if necessary
Stoltenberg admitted today that despite Russia’s incredible front-line losses in Ukraine, their constant pressure means the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut in Donetsk is likely to be overrun in the near future.
“They have suffered great losses, but at the same time we cannot rule out that Bakhmut will finally fall in the coming days,” he said, adding: “It is also important to emphasize that this does not necessarily reflect a turning point of the future. the war.
“It only emphasizes that we should not underestimate Russia. We must continue to support Ukraine.’
The Russian mercenary group Wagner on Wednesday claimed to have captured the eastern part of Bakhmut, which was a bustling industrial center with a population of 80,000 before the war.
The announcement came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that if Bakhmut fell, Moscow would have an “open road” for offensives deeper into the country.
The intense fighting around Bakhmut has been the longest and bloodiest in Russia’s more than year-long invasion, which has devastated large parts of Ukraine and displaced millions of people.
EU ministers discussed plans to ramp up defense production and rush ammunition to Ukraine as it burns through thousands of howitzer shells every day.
“This is now a war of attrition, a logistical battle,” Stoltenberg said.
“The current consumption compared to the current rate of production of ammunition is not sustainable and therefore we need to increase production.”
He welcomed pressure from the EU, which shares 21 member states with NATO, to bolster defense output.
“This is something we are working on. We have seen that important steps have already been taken,” he said.
“But we need to do more, because we need to make sure Ukraine gets the ammunition it needs to defend itself against Russian war aggression, and we need to replenish our own supplies.”