William Burns, Director of the CIA, suggested that China study Russia’s failures in Ukraine. This could help determine “how and when” Beijing might invade Taiwan.
Burns stated at the Aspen Security Forum that “I think our perception is that it probably less affects the question of whether or not the Chinese leadership might choose some year down the road to use force to control Taiwan,” Burns said. “If there is one lesson they might be learning from Putin’s experience with Ukraine, it is that you can’t win decisive victories quickly and decisively with overwhelming force.”
Burns gave a broad interview to the forum. He touched on topics such as Iran’s nuclear capabilities and the Russian imprisonment Brittney Griner, American basketball player. He spent the majority of his time talking about America’s two most powerful rivals.
He was particularly interested in Russia’s invasion and subsequent defeats in Ukraine. including Putin’s mentality.
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CIA Director William Burns speaks at an event held at the Georgia Institute of Technology on Thursday, Atlanta. (AP/Brynn Anderson)
Burns stated that he wouldn’t underestimate President Xi’s determination to assert China’s control over Taiwan. “He is determined to make sure his military is equipped to take such an action should it be decided to go in that direction.”
Putin declared the Russian invasion of Ukraine a “strategic fail” and Burns stated that he believed the U.S. intelligence estimates would show around 15,000 Russian soldiers killed, with “maybe three times” as many wounded troops. This was the first update from any intelligence source regarding possible Russian losses in several months.
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Burns stated that the Ukrainians suffered the same, possibly a little less, but significant casualties is what the overall picture is. He also said that Russia was planning to continue to hammer Ukraine, and that NATO solidarity would be weakened when winter arrives and fuel costs in Europe are high.
Outside the Russian representative office in Taipei (Taiwan), Feb. 26, 2022, a person protests Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. (Walid Berrazeg/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
According to Burns, Putin’s failure “fracture NATO” would be his biggest mistake. The alliance will include Finland and Sweden, which will allow it to “strengthen” its deployments.
Russia instead “retreated into a comfortable war mode” and shifted its focus to the Donbass region. Instead of relying upon “long-range firepower”, Russia is now able to create a standoff to compensate for manpower weaknesses.
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After Putin’s drive to bring the Americans and Europeans closer together, this may have led China towards a more cautious approach to its military. Burns stated that it has “unsettled” the Chinese, as they had relied on their ability of playing off some Europeans against the Americans.
The Chinese leadership was somewhat shaken by the events they witnessed, especially during Putin’s first days in Ukraine. The military performance of the Russians and the Russian weaponry performance left them unsatisfied. The economic uncertainty that the war will be fought around the globe in one year leaves many people confused.
“I believe Xi Jinping’s primary concern is to get through a very important party congress this autumn and have a fairly predictable global economic landscape.”
Burns also spoke out about the danger of global warming, saying it was a similar threat to China’s.
He stated, “If you assume as I do that the People’s Republic of China poses the greatest geopolitical threat to our country as far out as the 21st Century, as I can see,”.
CIA Director William Burns testifies at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the worldwide threat to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on April 15, 2021. (Al Drago/pool/AFP via Getty Images).
The CIA director reiterated warnings about Iran’s increased speed in acquiring a nuclear device.
He pointed out that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which the previous administration pulled out of many years ago, took a little over a year to break down that amount of fissile materials.
He stated today that the same breakout time can not be measured in a year or more, but in weeks.
Burns also revealed to the Aspen Security Forum that he was in Afghanistan one week before the U.S. pulled out.
“I would say, as the President has publicly stated, that none of us foresaw that the Afghan government would flee the country as fast as they did, or that the Afghan military would collapse as fast,
“Having said all, I believe CIA was at least always on the pessimistic side of the spectrum in terms of highlighting over the course of spring and summer the obvious ways that the Taliban were advancing quickly and how this was hollowing up in many ways not only the political leadership but also the military.