Xi Jinping And Putin Talked 'Teamwork' Before War But Russian Performance 'Shocked' China: Ex Trump Official

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In a call last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) assured his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (L)that China would support Russia on 'sovereignty and security'
In a call last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) assured his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (L)that China would support Russia on 'sovereignty and security'

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke at length about "teamwork and partnership" before the Ukrainian invasion, but what came after, including the "pathetic" performance of Russian troops, left Xi shocked, said former U.S. secretary of defense Jim Mattis.

Mattis told the Ketagalan Forum held in Taipei earlier the week that the Russian invasion of Ukraine affected "the timing and strategy" of Xi's plan to invade Taiwan, reported Taipei Times. The Ketagalan forum was organized to discuss the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on the Indo-Pacific region.

Mattis was the former U.S. secretary of defense from January 2017 to January 2019 under the Trump administration. However, he resigned from the post in a surprise move citing irreconcilable policy differences after President Trump announced plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. 

Mattis' statements echoed reports that China is watching Ukraine's invasion closely and is reevaluating its own scenarios for a potential strike against Taiwan. CIA chief William Burns too recently mentioned how Beijing is likely to reconsider the timing of any invasion as it was "unsettled" at Russia’s five-month-old war in Ukraine. Burns called the Russian invasion a "strategic failure" since Putin "hoped to topple the Zelensky government in a week."

However, according to Mattis, the Russia-Ukraine war was not going to directly influence what Xi has in mind about Taiwan. "I think it will impact him severely about how and when to take such a step," Mattis told the panel. "But in terms of our response now, I would say in three words: allies, allies, allies," he added.

Mattis said that the war, however, did "facilitate unity among Western countries." But "there remain many unanswered questions about how to face uncertainties, including a chilling winter in Europe." 

Meanwhile, another analyst who spoke at the forum, said China and Russia fully supported each other's core interests. "What Putin has set in motion ... is an attempt to change the existing global order, which is backed fully by Xi," Jayadeva Ranade, president of the Center for China Analysis and Strategy in India, said.

However, Ranade too thinks the progress of the war has unnerved Xi. "China’s philosophy is a quick and short action and the victory at the end. They are not seeing it coming to pass in Ukraine, and that has unnerved them," Ranade was quoted by Taipei Times. 

Former Australian minister of defense Kevin Andrews told the forum that democratic countries cannot rely on appeasement if they wish to uphold global peace. "China must recognize that any attempt to invade Taiwan would be opposed by allied military forces," Andrews added.


In a call last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) assured his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (L)that China would support Russia on 'sovereignty and security'

Photo: SPUTNIK via AFP / Alexei Druzhinin

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