With warship moves, equipment sales and diplomatic rhetoric, the United States has rarely been more emphatic that it stands with its allies in Ukraine and Taiwan. For all those declarations, however what that truly means remains unclear.
Both Moscow and Beijing appear intent on testing the Biden administration, still less than three months old. Russia has mobilised more troops on Ukraine’s border than at any point since its 2014 war, while China has sent an aircraft carrier, drones and a “citizen militia” of fishing boats to territories also claimed by U.S. allies like the Philippines.
Such activity is in part grand strategic ballet, posturing that no side wants to escalate to outright war. But as the last two weeks have shown, as matters approach crisis point they can escalate at speed – forcing tougher choices on the United States.
To quote, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Washington believes it would be a “serious mistake” for China to move on Taiwan and has “serious concerns” over Russia’s military manoeuvres near Ukraine.