President Joe Biden has sown confusion in recent weeks over the U.S. military commitment to Taiwan by saying the U.S. was prepared to defend Taiwan in the event of an attack --
comments that appeared to go beyond previous U.S. commitments to make sure Taiwan can defend itself. And, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said allied nations would be prepared to “take action” if China uses force against Taiwan.
The question of the U.S. commitment to defend Taiwan has gained urgency amid rising U.S.-China tensions. Bloomberg reports China has ramped up military flights near Taiwan, flying more than 200 planes into the island’s air-defense-identification zone in October, and some analysts have warned that President Xi Jinping may be preparing for an invasion in coming years.
Kris Osborn, Defense Editor for the National Interest, reminds us that this is not idle speculation from TV talking heads; the Defense Department’s annual report on China, titled Military and Security Developments involving the People’s Republic of China (PRC), raises concern about that possibility. The report claims that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may pursue a dual-pronged strategy that includes a joint blockade, missile strikes and the “seizure” of Taiwan’s offshore islands.
On Nov. 18,2021, Foreign Policy observed that the number of U.S. military personnel has continued to rise over the past several months, and while the numbers are small the positioning of U.S. military personnel in harm’s way suggests a conscious decision to put a trip wire in place to justify further U.S. involvement should Red China attack.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world tensions are heating up between Russia and Ukraine.
The BBC reports in recent weeks, Russian tanks have been moving west towards Ukraine once again, prompting fresh, even starker warnings from U.S. intelligence circles that a cross-border offensive could be on the cards.
According to Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, around 90,000 Russian troops are now deployed in the vicinity of Ukraine - fewer than during similar tensions last spring.
He believes they could launch an attack from several directions early next year.
Invading a non-threatening neighbor appears to be the inexplicable whim of a dictator or perhaps the act of an international bully intent on regional domination and to most American it looks like there is little to be gained and much that is allegedly valued in international relations to be lost by a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But what the establishment media isn’t telling you is that there may be a very good reason for the Russian invasion of Ukraine that every American would understand – oil.
As we explained way back in 2014, Putin’s Russian Federation is Europe’s energy superpower.
Russia holds the largest natural gas reserves in the world. According to the US Energy Information Administration Russia is the second-largest producer of dry natural gas and third-largest liquid fuels producer in the world. Russia's economy is highly dependent on its hydrocarbons, and oil and gas revenues account for more than 50% of Russia’s federal budget revenues.
The oil and gas producing region of the Dnieper-Donets basin in Ukraine happens to coincide with the eastern region of the country that has a substantial Russian-speaking population. And the Crimean peninsula, already occupied by Russian troops includes most of the rest of Ukraine’s oil and gas producing capacity.
The Russian-inspired separatist movement in the Donbas has crippled Ukraine’s energy sector and not coincidently, advanced the Russian near-monopoly of the European natural gas market.
And experience suggests maintaining that economically vital Russian monopoly and the political power that goes with it would be more than enough internal political justification for Putin to invade Ukraine.
Last week, Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said he had asked the Pentagon for more help defending the country’s airspace and coast, lending further credence to the threat of Russian invasion.
“We need to cover our sky and our sea,” Reznikov told reporters at Ukraine’s embassy in Washington, after meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon.
And, Bloomberg reminds us the latest fears of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine coincide with the approach of the eighth anniversary of the so-called Maidan Revolution, in which widespread protests by pro-European Ukrainians toppled President Viktor Yanukovych, a Putin ally.
In the wake of that successful rebellion, Putin seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014.
Our good friend Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee called upon President Biden to take action to defend Ukraine, saying, “Allowing Putin to execute a land grab in Ukraine would also embolden other malign entities such as the Chinese Communist Party. Putin frames Ukraine just as Xi frames Taiwan: through both nationalistic and false historical lenses. President Biden must send a strong signal to Putin, Xi, and other brutal strongmen around the world that the United States will not condone violent takeovers of vulnerable nations. He can do this right now by standing up for Ukraine, and reaffirming that the Ukrainians are faithful friends to the United States who have every right to defend their sovereignty.”
In a similar vein, Republican Rep. Nancy Mace, and Democrat Reps. Sara Jacobs, Mark Takano, Colin Allred, and Elissa Slotkin all visited Taiwan in defiance of Red Chinese threats and meeting with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen.
“We are here in Taiwan this week to remind our partners and allies, after two trying years that we've endured, that our commitment and shared responsibility for a free and secure Indo-Pacific region remain stronger than ever,” said Takano according to reporting by the UK’s Daily Mail.
Takano added that the U.S. relationship with Taiwan is “rock solid and has remained steadfast as the ties between us have deepened.”
We doubt Joe Biden is “rock solid” on anything, especially matters of national security where, as former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates put it, he has been wrong on every major issue for the past 50-years. So, all this talk of defending Ukraine and Taiwan is making us very nervous, not because we are necessarily opposed to containing Red China and Putin’s Russia, but because, based on his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, we doubt Joe Biden’s ability to manage such an effort to a successful conclusion, especially if both of our adversaries move in coordination.
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