West Faces Combined Threat

West Faces Combined Threat

The recent meeting between China’s strongman Xi and Russia’s Putin emphasized a disturbing reality: Americas enemies are coalescing into a solidified alliance aimed squarely at western interests, national sovereignty, and democratic principles.

Although it receives far less print space and air time than the latest Kardashian fashion statement, the reality that Russia, Iran, China, along with North Korea and Belarus are working closer together to establish a combined military threat is a reality that will imperil those that ignore it.

The U.S. Office of National Intelligence has reported that Moscow and Beijing are closer today than at any time in over half a century.

On the oceans, Moscow and Beijing are continuing to hold joint naval maneuvers. In December, the two nations conducted joint naval maneuvers.  Iran is rapidly moving towards the development of atomic weapons (even President Biden has admitted that hopes of a nuclear deal are dead) and is assisting Putin’s Ukrainian assault by providing him drone weapons. Reportedly, Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un have discussed ways to assist each other’s militaries.  Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko is eagerly moving closer to joining Russia’s Ukrainian war, and is receiving advanced weapons.

The threat is not just on distant continents; indeed, it is close to home. Military Review notes that Russian military ties to Latin America have become a significant factor. Evan Ellis, CSIS Senior Associate, testified before Congress in July that:

“During the period from the lead-up to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of the Ukraine through the present, as in previous episodes of conflict with the West in the past 15 years, Russia has demonstrated its intent and capability, however limited, to conduct military and other strategic activities oriented against the U.S. and our partners in the Western Hemisphere. Its key vehicle for doing so has been collusion with anti-U.S. authoritarian regimes in the region, including Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. Recent demonstrations of Russia’s hostile intent toward the U.S. and our partners in the Western Hemisphere include Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s January 2022 suggestion that Russia might deploy military forces to Venezuela or Cuba, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov’s February 2022 signing of a pact to increase military cooperation with Venezuela,and Nicaragua’s June 2022 re-authorization for limited numbers of Russian troops and equipment to enter the country for training missions and other forms of support. Most recently, Russian actions also include announced participation by a team of snipers, along with teams from China, Iran, and seven other countries, in an upcoming military sniper competition in Venezuela, the first time the competition has been held in the country.”

Russia is not alone. China, according to Leland Lazarus and Ryan C. Berg of Foreign Policy have highlighted Beijing’s growing military relationships in the region. The Dialogue’s Latin American Advisor publication reports that:

“Chinese military leaders visited with their counterparts in Latin America 215 times between 2002 and 2019, according to a report released last year by the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Chile, Cuba, Brazil and Argentina accounted for more than half of those visits, according to the report. Additionally, China and the CELAC bloc of Latin American and Caribbean nations last December agreed to continue collaboration on military issues through the China-Latin America High-Level Defense Forum.”

Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, and Army Gen. Laura J. Richardson, commander, U.S. Southern Command, testified before a Senate Armed Services Committee that China and Russia are looking for opportunities to undermine U.S. partnerships in the Americas.

At this point, there is no reasonable prospect that the growing relationship between Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and Belarus will not become more intense, or that their interplay in the Western hemisphere will become less dangerous.

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