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CIA director says China ‘unsettled’ by Ukraine war

The director of the CIA stated that Chinese president Xi Jinping has been “unsettled” by the conflict in Ukraine, which had demonstrated that the friendship between Beijing and Moscow had “limits” at a time when western allies have been transferring nearer collectively.

Speaking on the FT Weekend Festival in Washington on Saturday, Bill Burns stated the “bitter experience” of the primary 10 to 11 weeks of the battle had come as a shock to the Chinese management and could also be affecting its calculations with respect to Taiwan.

“It strikes us . . . that Xi Jinping is a little bit unsettled by the reputational damage that can come to China by the association with the brutishness of Russia’s aggression against Ukrainians [and] unsettled certainly by the economic uncertainty that’s been produced by the war,” Burns stated, including that Xi’s “main focus” was on “predictability”.

He added that China was additionally dismayed by “the fact that what Putin has done is driving Europeans and Americans closer together” and was wanting “carefully at what lessons they should draw” for Taiwan.

“I don’t for a minute think that it’s eroded Xi’s determination over time to gain control over Taiwan,” though it was “affecting their calculation”, Burns stated.

Burns stated Xi’s China was the “biggest geopolitical challenge we face over the long term as a country”, regardless that the risk from Putin’s Russia couldn’t be underestimated.

“[Putin] demonstrates in a very disturbing way that declining powers can be at least as disruptive as rising one,” Burns stated.

Burns spoke after Biden administration officers sought to minimize stories that US intelligence officers had helped Ukraine goal and kill Russian generals on the battlefield and sink the Moskva, a Russian ship within the Black Sea.

“It is irresponsible, it’s very risky, it’s dangerous when people talk too much. Whether it’s leaking in private or talking in public about specific intelligence issues,” Burns stated.

The CIA director, a former senior diplomat in earlier US administrations, added that it could be a “big mistake” to underestimate Ukraine’s personal intelligence capabilities.

“This is their country. They have a lot more information than we do and a lot more intelligence than we in the US and amongst our allies do,” he added.

Burns stated Putin remained undeterred to maintain urgent forward with the conflict, saying the second part of the battle because it shifted to the Donbas area of japanese Ukraine was “at least as risky” or “even riskier” than the primary part the place Russia failed to achieve management of Kyiv, the capital.

“[Putin] is in a frame of mind in which he doesn’t believe he can afford to lose; so the stakes are quite high in this phase,” Burns stated. “I think he’s convinced right now that doubling down . . . will enable him to make progress.”

The CIA director stated that regardless that US intelligence didn’t see “practical evidence” that Russia was planning to deploy tactical nuclear weapons, “we can’t take lightly those possibilities” given Russia’s sabre-rattling.

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