What is going to happen if the United States has two theaters of war to deal with? Two hotbeds of tensions at the same time? Can the United States handle this?
The scenario "is being discussed quite actively in Washington," Markus Ziener, a Helmut Schmidt researcher at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, told Yahoo News. Washington considers such a scenario in the event that Russia invades Ukraine, and China attacks Taiwan.
According to Ziener, Russia and China have no friends, so they have no other options but to run cooperation together. China needs energy from Russia, and Russia wants to sell energy and weapons to China.
"But now, it seems like there are more overarching goals for both of them. And one of them is definitely to push back against the United States," Ziener believes.
Samir Puri, senior fellow in urban security and hybrid warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, told Yahoo News that Russia and China share the same desire to free themselves from both the USA's dominance and sanctions.
"The Russia-China alignment is one of the defining factors of modern geopolitics. The two countries dominate Eurasia. They have two of the five permanent seats in the U. N. Security Council. They're two of the eight declared nuclear weapon states. And the fact they've gotten closer has changed things," said Puri.
If China and Russia came to each other's aid during the war, if they signed a mutual defence agreement, it would be a game changer for the whole world, he added.
Velina Chakarova, Tchakarova, director at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy in Vienna, called the partnership between China and Russia a "dragon bear." The two powers have been running strategic cooperation for man years already, she said.
"Russia was facing a crisis of existential scale. Then China stepped in, introducing different measures, currency swaps, their central bank intervened, making declarations that it will do whatever needed to basically save the Russian currency and default was prevented,” Tchakarova said. "This is just one example of many, which opened my eyes that this is something much more systemic than just a sum of ad hoc events," Tchakarova said.
Even if Russia dares to invade Ukraine, China is unlikely to strike Taiwan — not in the next couple of months, as China is hosting the Winter Games.
During his annual press conference on December 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the allegations of Russia's plans to invade Ukraine. According to Putin, it appears that Ukraine is working on a third operation in the Donbass. "There is a feeling that we are being warned," Putin pointed out. Therefore, Russia should respond and do something.
On December 15, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping discussed the creation of an independent infrastructure for servicing trade operations between the two countries (analogous to SWIFT) excluding the participation of other states.
Any manifestations of Ukraine's military aggression after the announcement of the results of referendums should be regarded as acts of open aggression against the civilian population of Russia