Russian Navy Flagship Admiral Kuznetsov and Its Chinese Clone the Liaoning; Plus Wargaming the Taiwan Invasion

The flagship of the Russian Navy, the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, should be considered a parable for the condition of the Russian Federation as a whole.

Workers are struggling with the ship at the Zvyozdochka shipyard in the Barents Sea port city of Murmansk. The Russian navy tried to send it to another dry dock, but somehow the engines are not working correctly, leaving the vessel stuck. The ship’s hull reportedly has a problem, and tugboats are struggling to move it.

…  the carrier could “tip over and sink,” according to Newsweek. Divers examining the hull found dangerous levels of corrosion and the holds are totally filled with water, the magazine said.

Admiral Kuznetsov Beyond Repair

Russia is now begging China to sell back a clone of Admiral Kuznetsov — the Lianong — to Russia in hopes of quickly creating a viable aircraft carrier again for the dwindling Russian Navy. That might work for Russia in the short term, but China is deep into plans for its own invasion of Taiwan. The PLA Navy believes it will need all the rocking boats in the water it can get, including its aircraft carrier.

Meanwhile, Russia is still slugging it out over the Bakhmut/Soledar mining region in the eastern part of Ukraine. Russian claims of major gains in the region seem to be somewhat premature.

More on Russia’s logistical concerns

Chinese Invasion of Taiwan: CSIS War Game Outcome

“In most scenarios, the United States/Taiwan/Japan defeated a conventional amphibious invasion by China and maintained an autonomous Taiwan,” the report concludes. “However, this defense came at high cost.”

A Costly Invasion, a Pyrrhic Defeat

Futurist and blogger Brian Wang considers the CSIS war games to be insufficiently realistic to predict the actual outcome of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. He offers some suggestions:

I have seen the wargaming. The wargame assumes that China can pound Taiwan for weeks and months to take out or damage the air and missile defenses in the mountains. They do not mention that global stock and financial markets crash by 50% on the first day or two of this offensive, where the US would be forced to act quickly. It also does not go into how utterly crappy China’s pilots are and have they have no hope of succeeding in taking out air defenses in the mountains.

Brian Wang Analysis of CSIS War Games: China vs. Taiwan

The effect on global markets of a full scale Chinese attack on Taiwan is a very important point, which any realistic simulations should incorporate fully. Global markets do not like instability that affects major suppliers of vitally important products to the advanced world. Taiwan’s premier semiconductor chips cannot be easily substituted for — you might say that the advanced world runs on Taiwan’s chips.

More on the CSIS war games:

The report suggests that those who argue that China now has clear military superiority in the Taiwan Strait and thus is on the verge of attacking the island should think again. This study, and an earlier study conducted by the Quincy Institute, indicate that any military attack on Taiwan would be an enormous gamble for Beijing and likely to result in a Chinese defeat. It is an option that Beijing would likely only take if provoked, for example by Washington abandoning the One China policy or deploying combat forces to Taiwan. At the same time, the costs of a war over Taiwan would be enormous for all sides and certainly no easy win for the United States.  

The report warns that once China launches an invasion — and if the United States decides the best option is to defend Taiwan — there is no “Ukraine model” for Taiwan; the United States could not simply send supplies, it would also have to send troops directly into combat, and do so immediately to limit casualties. And the results would still be catastrophic. 

The CSIS wargame estimates that the United States would lose 3,200 troops in the first three weeks of combat with China. That number is nearly half of all the American troops that died in two decades of war in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. 

Xi Backing Himself into a Bad Decision

There is a parallel to be drawn between Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine — and the subsequent loss of roughly 1 million young Russian men to sudden emigration, death in battle, crippling wounds in battle, desertions, and other losses — and Xi’s contemplation of invading Taiwan with its consequent damage to China’s economy, military, and its ability to govern its people.

Xi’s government is even more vulnerable to blowback from an ill-considered war than is Putin’s mafia regime in Russia. The PRC under the Chinese Communist Party is highly centered on one man and his cult of personality — even more than Russia is centered on Putin. If Xi loses authority, China enters another historical period of falling apart — particularly if a political crisis is accompanied by an economic crisis, which is virtually guaranteed.

Here is Peter Zeihan on some recent reshuffling of positions high in China’s government:

Russia’s military is rotten to its core — both Army and Navy. Given the corruption inside China, it is unlikely that China’s military is in much better condition than Russia’s although it is newer and larger. Given a conflict over Siberian resources between China and Russia, it is likely that China’s sheer numbers would prevail.

Those who expect Russia to resist a Chinese incursion with nuclear weapons may not understand that China’s methods of wresting control of the Far East and other parts of Siberia would likely be more gradual and more subtle than an outright invasion at a time that Russia had full control of its nuclear arsenal. They may also not understand that Putin’s failed invasion of Ukraine is going to turn the Kremlin hierarchy topsy turvy.

It is likely that China is maneuvering to take control of as many of Russia’s nuclear weapons as it can, when the time is right. Putin has put Russia’s future at risk by his unhinged invasion of Ukraine. If China can use that mistake to its long-term advantage, it would do well to learn from what we can hope will be Mr. Putin’s last big mistake.

If Xi, in his isolation and paranoia, decides to make the same type of mistake as Putin, you can expect some significant global fallout in the leadup to a much-premature collapse of China. Russia may well hope that Xi makes that mistake to keep China occupied and out of Russia’s hair, but Russia’s own botched and barbaric show in Ukraine could give Xi second thoughts — if his brain is still capable.

Personally, I expect the slow motion invasion of Russia by China to proceed apace, and to likely accelerate if China invades Taiwan.

Image Credit: New York Times

China is capable of using ill-gotten loot to bribe officials on all the continents of the world, including the current US *President. China has de facto control of most of Central Asia, and is solidifying control of much of the Russian Far East day by day. All along the border of China and Mongolia with Russia, Chinese influence is growing. It is only a matter of time. A military invasion of Russia will not be necessary, if China can hold off on the Taiwan invasion.

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