CIA chief says Xi ‘unsettled’ by Russia’s Ukraine invasion

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The reality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including the targeting of civilians and displacement of millions of Ukrainians, may have shifted China’s calculus…reports Asian Lite News

CIA Director William J. Burns hinted at a potentially tenuous China-Russia relationship in the wake of Moscow’s increasingly brutal tactics against Ukraine, with Burns telling the Senate Intelligence Committee that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is “unsettled”.

“The Chinese leadership, first, has invested a lot in partnership with Russia, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon,” Burns said during the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual worldwide threats hearing. “I do however believe that the Chinese leadership, President Xi in particular, is unsettled by what he’s seeing, partly because his own intelligence doesn’t appear to have told him what was going to happen.”

Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a 5,000-word joint statement ahead of the Winter Olympics last month outlining how the two nations approached different issues, with the statement released following a meeting of the leaders in Beijing. The New York Times reported last week that Chinese officials asked the Russian government to hold off on invading Ukraine until the end of the Winter Olympics.

But the reality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including the targeting of civilians and displacement of millions of Ukrainians, may have shifted China’s calculus.

At the committee’s hearing, Burns pointed to Xi’s concerns over reputational damage to China by its association with Russia, potential economic consequences and the invasion resulting in bringing the U.S. and its European allies closer together.

“What has unfolded in Ukraine, the ugliness of it, the flawed assumptions that underpinned it from the point of view of President Putin, have unsettled the Chinese leadership a little bit, they are unsettled by the reputational damage that could come from that,” Burns said.

The CIA Director also said the Russian President may be overestimating to the extent that Chinese leadership will be able or willing to help him deal with severe economic consequences of military action in Ukraine.

“It remains to be seen how it will play out,” he added.

Burns’s remarks come a few days after the US threat assessment report had said that it expects that Moscow will remain a formidable challenge to Washington amidst the changing geopolitical landscape during the next decade.

“We assess that Russia does not want a direct conflict with U.S. forces. Russia seeks an accommodation with the United States on mutual non-interference in both countries’ domestic affairs and U.S. recognition of Russia’s claimed sphere of influence over much of the former Soviet Union,” the report added.

It further stated that Russia’s officials have long believed that the United States is trying to undermine Russia, weaken Putin, and install Western-friendly regimes in the former Soviet states and elsewhere, which they conclude gives Russia leeway to retaliate. (ANI)

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