Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns has asserted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has heightened China’s worries concerning a potential invasion of Taiwan. Speaking at the Washington-based think tank, Burns spoke on the reported order by Chinese President Xi to be prepared to invade Taiwan by 2027, saying Putin’s experience of the ongoing conflict gives pause to China’s leadership.
“President Xi and PLA leadership have doubts whether they could pull off a successful, full-scale invasion of Taiwan at an acceptable cost to them. I think no foreign leader has been paying more attention to Putin’s experience with Ukraine than President Xi has, as he thinks about Taiwan,” the CIA chief said at the Aspen Security Forum on July 20.
Burns had earlier stated that the US possessed intelligence confirming that Chinese President Xi had ordered military preparedness for a potential invasion of self-governed Taiwan by 2027. The CIA chief highlighted the Ukrainian case as an example of how a smaller military achieved “incredible success in fighting back” and exposed flaws in Russian weapons systems.
“…Not only the way an objectively smaller military has had success in fighting back with a great deal of motivation against a bigger military but also the flaws in Russia’s weapons system (exposed),” he said.
The Russian invasion had sparked worries in the West about the possibility of China taking comparable action against Taiwan, a self-governed island that Beijing claims as its territory.
Answering a question on Wagner Group’s short-lived rebellion, William Burns said Yevgeny Prigozhin’s failed mutiny exposed weaknesses in both President Putin’s system and Russia’s strategy in Ukraine.
“You know a lot of fascinating episodes in Russia, but none more fascinating than Prigozhin’s mutiny, which was the most direct assault on the Russian state in Vladimir Putin’s 23 years in power. I think in many ways it exposed some of the significant weaknesses in the system that Putin has built, weaknesses that already had been laid bare by the disastrous and deeply destructive war that Putin launched 18 months ago in Ukraine,” he said.
The West perceives the Wagner paramilitary group’s failed rebellion as a challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, highlighting the strain of the Ukraine war on the Russian state.
The CIA chief also said that “Putin is someone who generally thinks that revenge is a dish best served cold.” “So he’s going to try to settle the situation to the extent he can. But again, in my experience, Putin is the ultimate apostle of payback. So I would be surprised if Prigozhin escapes further retribution for this. So in that sense, the President’s right. If I were Prigozhin, I wouldn’t fire my food taster,” he added.
(With inputs from Reuters)