By James Moules
VLADIMIR Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has shaken the world.
Many observers assumed the days of imperial expansion by invading neighbouring countries was over. But after weeks of simmering tensions, Russian troops poured into Ukraine.
But even if Putin’s military assault is successful, Russia’s ability to maintain a prolonged occupation of the country is likely to be tenuous, especially if international sanctions hit the Kremlin’s finances hard.
Resistance on the ground is proving to be fierce. Anti-war protests have sprung up in Russia, with outraged citizens taking to the streets – making clear that Putin’s war is not in their name.
But on the other side of the world, another smaller nation with an imperialist neighbour will likely be watching events unfold with growing concern.
The parallels between Moscow’s attitude towards Ukraine and Beijing’s stance on Taiwan are far from obscure.
Xi Jinping has repeatedly asserted that Taiwan – which has never been under control of the People’s Republic of China – will one day be reunified with the mainland, and has refused to rule of the use of force to achieve this.
To him, Taiwan is not the independent, flourishing democracy that it is, but simply a breakaway province that is an integral part of China. Compare this to the rhetoric Putin deployed before the Ukraine invasion, in which he described modern Ukraine as a Russian creation.
It makes sense then, that the government in Taipei will be watching the events in Ukraine with unease – while to Beijing, the international response to the crisis could provide insight if a similar invasion of Taiwan were to go ahead.
As with Russia, as with China – any attempt to invade and annex a sovereign state should be met with the utmost severity of sanctions.
Any response that allows Russia to get away with violations of Ukrainian territorial integrity – and the appalling deaths of both soldiers and civilians – would send a troubling message that other autocratic regimes could be in the clear to do the same.
This week on Redaction Report
Protestors in London decry Putin’s invasion of Ukraine
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of central London in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
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