Taiwan unveils new amphibious assault and transport ship
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US President Joe Biden called Russian leader Vladimir Putin this week in a bid to de-escalate tensions as troves of troops, tanks and weapons were seen heading to Ukraine’s eastern border. Mr Biden also proposed a summit in the coming months as he “emphasised the US’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Washington has already ordered two warships to head towards the Black Sea, but it has also had to send an aircraft carrier and numerous assault vessels to the South China Sea.
It came after China shifted its own aircraft carrier into disputed waters in what US experts have determined to be an “acceleration” in plans to capture Taiwan.
And while foreign affairs commentator Simon Tisdall believes the increased aggression from China and Russia could just be a coincidence, he added that a coordinated effort could push the US to the brink.
He wrote in The Guardian: “While there is no evidence of direct collusion over Ukraine and Taiwan, Presidents Putin and Xi are doubtless fully aware of each other’s actions, which have an identical, mutually reinforcing effect – putting the wind up Joe Biden’s untested US administration.
“What’s now unfolding could be portrayed as the ultimate fulfilment of George Orwell’s nightmarish vision, in his dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
“The Orwellian nightmare for Biden and the west would be a simultaneous Russian invasion of Ukraine and a Chinese attack on Taiwan.”
The dystopian social science fiction was published in 1949 and centres on the consequences of totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and repressive regimentation within society.
It came with the formation of NATO, but also the emergence of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union as a nuclear-armed power and the formation of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Zedong.
Now there are concerns that Mr Orwell’s prediction of an endless three-way confrontation may have been premature.
Mr Putin made his first-ever public reference to the possibility of a Russia-China military alliance during a meeting with domestic and foreign experts at the start of this year.
He said that although Moscow does not need a military alliance with Beijing, “theoretically, it is quite possible,” sparking international concern.
Conservative MP and Chair of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood previously told Express.co.uk that “the outlook looks rather grim and the worst-case scenario – the most likely case scenario – is that Russia falls in line with China”.
The EU and UK have pledged “unwavering” support for Ukraine’s government amid concerns of a military invasion into Europe.
EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said he was “following with severe concern the Russian military activity surrounding Ukraine”.
Speaking in Brussels, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia was now “openly threatening Ukraine with war and destruction of our statehood”.
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Unlike the annexation of Crimea in 2014, he added, “Russia won’t be able to catch anyone by surprise anymore”.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged NATO to speed up Ukrainian membership after visiting the conflict zone last week.
He said NATO was “the only way to end the war in Donbas” and that the membership action plan would be “a real signal for Russia”.
But that could upset the situation further.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the new Russian build-up “unjustified and deeply concerning” and said it was “the largest massing of Russian troops since the illegal annexation”.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu accused NATO of “threatening” actions and said the Kremlin had responded by sending two armies and three formations of airborne troops to its western borders, to conduct exercises.
Other experts believe it is all a bluff by Mr Putin.
He faces parliamentary elections in September and continued protests against his jailed arch-critic Alexei Navalny, who is currently “seriously ill” in prison.
The Kremlin “defending” embattled Russians in Ukraine could go down well with many voters, as it did seven years ago with Crimea.
This explanation has been denied by the Kremlin, and Mr Peskov said last week: “This has nothing to do with any detainees or anyone.”
Others have speculated that Mr Putin wants to test Mr Biden, who has so far taken a tough stance on Russia.
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