Having sized up Biden, Putin invaded Ukraine. Taiwan should pray Xi doesn’t make an analogous evaluation

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Previous to invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to foresee the potential U.S. response. As a former KGB operative, Putin honed his ability at sizing up personalities whereas he was operating spy networks in East Germany. He prides himself on his capability to “work and talk with individuals,” calling himself a “specialist in human relations,” a ability he believes is essential to his position as Russian president.

The assembly between Putin and Biden would have definitely been studied by the Chinese language within the lead-up to Monday’s Biden/Xi dialog on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. The Chinese language are absolutely conscious of the actions Putin took following his discussions with Biden.

US President Joe Biden meets with China's President Xi Jinping during a virtual summit from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 15, 2021. 

US President Joe Biden meets with China’s President Xi Jinping throughout a digital summit from the Roosevelt Room of the White Home in Washington, DC, November 15, 2021. 
(Photograph by MANDEL NGAN/AFP through Getty Photos)

Rather a lot will be gleaned from that February assembly and the way Russia does its intel gathering. In 2001, throughout a press convention, the previous Russian spymaster defined his method to putting rapport when speaking with a variety of people, from journalists and scientists to politicians and rank-and-file residents: “You will need to set up a dialogue and activate the perfect in your companion. You wish to obtain outcomes; you have to respect your companion, acknowledge that he’s higher than you indirectly. You will need to make him your ally … make him really feel that there’s something that unites you, that you’ve a typical trigger.”

That is precisely the method that human intelligence, or HUMINT, officers use to focus on, assess and recruit spies who’re keen to betray their nation in service for a overseas land. And that is the intelligence tradecraft that Putin used when he was sizing up Biden throughout their summit in Geneva in June 2021, in addition to throughout subsequent cellphone calls and conferences by video convention. What Putin noticed in President Biden emboldened him.


President Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Nov. 15, 2021 at the White House.

President Joe Biden participates in a digital assembly with Chinese language President Xi Jinping, Nov. 15, 2021 on the White Home.
(Alex Wong/Getty Photos)

Xi Jinping and his interior circle may even be trying to make use of HUMINT as they, too, assess the American president following the conclusion of Monday’s assembly, simply because the Russians did in February. Some could worry that Taiwan could possibly be subsequent.

Biden described the assembly as “good” and “constructive.” He instructed Putin that he needed to have “some fundamental guidelines of the highway that we are able to all abide” and handed him a listing of 16 sectors of essential infrastructure that had been to not be focused with cyberattacks. Biden additionally reminded Putin concerning the significance of human rights and threatened “devastating penalties” if Alexei Navalny, a jailed Russian opposition activist and Putin’s vocal critic who was probably poisoned by Russian spy providers, dies in jail.

This is what the Russians concluded: Biden was naive to assume that Russia would change its insurance policies as a result of the U.S. needs it to, and that it was “absurd” to count on adjustments in Russia’s posture on cyber or on Ukraine and that Biden might “dictate” to Putin how issues ought to work in Russia. Most of all, the Russians had been surprised by Biden’s “completely mindless tactic” of chatting with Putin about Navalny, his opponent. For them, it was as if Putin threatened Biden with penalties if Trump had been jailed and died in jail on Biden’s watch.


President Joe Biden, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin greet each other in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.

President Joe Biden, proper, and Russian President Vladimir Putin greet one another in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.
(AP Photograph/Patrick Semansky, File)

Putin’s major aim for the summit was to grasp precisely who Biden is, and he believed that he had completed that mission. The Kremlin concluded that President Biden was a “man of the previous, in each sense of the phrase.” 

In Monday’s assembly, Biden will likely be equally assessed by China’s leader, Xi Jinping, throughout their first in-person assembly since Biden took workplace in Bali, Indonesia, forward of the G-20 summit. Whereas the White Home seeks to “deepen strains of communication,” Xi is signaling confrontation. 

Having received a 3rd time period as chief of the Chinese language Communist Get together, he has secured whole political management because the probably president for all times. Final Tuesday, Xi, throughout his go to to the PRC armed forces’ operational command heart, directed China’s army to be prepared for warfare.

“Your complete army should … give attention to fight capability as the elemental and solely criterion, focus all power on combating a warfare, direct all work in the direction of warfare and pace as much as construct the power to win,” Xi mentioned.


China’s grand plan is to change into the dominant world energy by 2049, changing the US each economically and militarily. And Xi could select to ascertain management over Taiwan by military force within the close to time period quite than by gradual integration, a priority that’s on the rise inside U.S. nationwide safety circles.

A screenshot of Chinese military propaganda video that was posted on Chinese state-run media.

A screenshot of Chinese language army propaganda video that was posted on Chinese language state-run media.
(Chinese language PLA)


Though Putin and Xi introduced a “no limits” strategic partnership previous to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s unlikely that Moscow would share its assessments of President Biden with Beijing. Beneath the showy shows of friendship, there’s deep distrust between the 2 nations that take into account themselves rivals and even opponents in the long run.

Biden will once more probably be lecturing his counterpart, rambling on about points that Xi has little interest in his opinion on, like international warming and oppression by his authorities. And once more, a U.S. enemy will likely be sizing Biden up and probably emboldened to start out a warfare.


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