According to the UK defense secretary, Ukraine’s fate is important because Russia’s invasion and western response are being watched by China.
When asked what lesson Beijing would learn if war ended with Moscow still in control of 20% of Ukraine’s territory and Vladimir Putin still at power, Ben Wallace stated to a small group journalists: “That the West lacks resolve.”
Similar conclusions were likely to be drawn after the Taliban regained command over Afghanistan last Summer when the US, UK and other NATO forces retreated and the Afghan government fell apart.
After a meeting of defense ministers from eastern and northern European countries, Mr Wallace stated that Ukraine matters because China is looking.
“You can see the problems around Taiwan …. The West’s determination to defend its values is what ultimately drives this [the war in Ukraine].
“Therefore, all kinds of people with a different view on the world – or who are our enemies or competitors – will look at that resolve and see if they can engage it as far as possible.”
China’s President Xi Jinping will have already seen how the UK and other western allies have reacted to President Vladimir Putin’s war with unprecedented sanctions while supporting Ukraine with increasingly lethal weapons.
Mr Wallace stated that Russia believed it would tell a story about failures and splits. China will see this.
Analysts believe Beijing will draw lessons from the West’s reaction to Russia’s war and use them to decide whether or not to use military force in order to take control of Taiwan.
According to the British defense secretary, he didn’t want to speculate about China’s territorial policy. He said that the British position was that Taiwan and China issues must be solved diplomatically and peacefully.
“That’s why the Hong Kong problems are troubling because the ‘one-country two systems’ have been destroyed in that process, and that doesn’t bode well for Taiwan.
Mr Wallace was referring specifically to Beijing’s decision to remove key rights and freedoms Hong Kong, which was once a British territory, had enjoyed. This is what the UK considers a violation of commitments China made with the UK.
These comments were made after it was revealed that President Xi had called Vladimir Putin. Although the authoritarian leaders are closer because their interests align, analysts claim that there is not mutual trust.
The extraordinary joint statement was released by the two men just weeks before Russia invaded. It outlined their common vision for an “enlightened era” in international relations.
During Wednesday’s phone conversation, President Xi stated that despite global turmoil and changes, China and Russia relations have been thriving since the start of the year.
After a meeting with his counterparts from 10 strong Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), the defense secretary made his remarks ahead of a meeting in Brussels of NATO defence ministers on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday.
Both Sweden and Finland are members of JEF. They have decided to join NATO following Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. This will end their historical neutrality.
Mr Wallace stated that he expected resistance from Turkey, one of the NATO ally’s, to this move to be lifted in time to allow the formal accession process to begin by the alliance of 30 members at the landmark summit of heads of government and state to take place at the end June.
According to the defense secretary, he will travel to Turkey next week to listen and resolve Ankara’s problems.
He said that “We must never forget they [Turkey] were a vital part NATO,” speaking to Sky News and The Telegraph separately on Tuesday.
“Turkey is an important strategic ally for Britain, and Europe.” They are the bridge, and anyone who forgets Turkey’s importance will be damned.