Beijing Olympics? Time for Another Land Grab?

February 20, 2022 Updated: February 21, 2022

Commentary

Recall the expression: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

So recall that President Jimmy Carter cancelled the participation of the U.S. Olympic team in 1980, due to the Soviets’ 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. In 1989, the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan after suffering heavy losses from insurgents that we trained.

According to the archive of the U.S. State Department: “In 1980, the United States led a boycott of the Summer Olympic Games in Moscow to protest the late 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In total, 65 nations refused to participate in the games, whereas 80 countries sent athletes to compete.”

Perhaps after the 1980 Olympics, they learned to avoid boycotts by invading countries after the Olympics.

Fast forward to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. This time the Russians waited until after the Olympics to make a land grab. In this case, Russia took Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which amounted to 20 percent of the country. But wait, there’s more.

The Russians waited again until the end of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 before they invaded Ukraine and took Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea (26,081 km²), the city of Sevastopol (864 km²), certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (16,799 km²) — for a total of 43,744 km² or 7.2 percent of the total Ukrainian territory of Ukraine. As a result of the invasion, according to the United Nations, at least 9,940 people were killed (at least 2,000 were civilians) and up to 23,455 wounded.

On July 17, 2014, Russian air defense personnel fired a Buk missile system from Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory in the Donbas region and shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, killing 298 passengers, including 80 children. The Russian invasion of Crimea and Donbas displaced about 1.5 million residents of Crimea and Donbas.

Olympics in 2022? Over 100,000 Russian troops surrounding Ukraine? No worries, the Russians will wait until after the Winter Olympics in China to be over. Vladimir Putin would never harm his good comrade, Xi Jinping, by conducting an invasion during the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) media glitz. In fact, when Putin and Xi met for the opening of the “Genocide Games,” they probably discussed the future of their expansionist policies.

Epoch Times Photo
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing, on Feb. 4, 2022. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Do we see a pattern here? But perhaps this time, Ukraine could be a sham or a diversion to the rest of the world. The real show might be the U.S. Naval forces arrayed near the independent country of Taiwan.

Based on the number of ships and capital ships, it would appear that Washington is reminding Beijing to put away its military toys and stop planning for the invasion of Taiwan after the Olympics.

According to USNI News, as of Feb. 7, 2022, the following naval forces are arrayed in the following areas:

Fleet Forces

3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
1 5 2 12 26 71

117

  • The Fifth Fleet is in the Arabian Gulf (12 ships).
  • The Sixth Fleet is in the Mediterranean Sea (26 ships), which includes the Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG)—the only U.S. Navy assets available to deal with the Russians in the Black Sea.
  • The Seventh Fleet (71 ships) in the Indo-Pacific region includes the following groups: Ronald Reagan CSG, America Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), Abraham Lincoln CSG, and Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG); Carl Vinson CSG is returning to the West Coast and is now assigned to the Third Fleet.

Of course, there are plenty of USAF and other allied air forces in the European area that can conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and are available for strike missions, but the ranges might be challenging without aerial refueling. In each case, countries that lie en route to Ukraine will have to give permission for these air operations, and gaining permission might be a challenge due to potential repercussions from the Russians.

In an online discussion, someone asked why Russia would invade Ukraine when it could mean that Russia could forfeit selling Europe gas and oil, which is about a third of Russia’s GDP.

My response: Why assume that the Russians are going to lose their oil and gas economy? If Europe says no to Russian petrochemicals, China can say yes. China is already buying plenty from Iran while its oil is under a major embargo against it, especially against its petrochemical industry. China can veto any United Nations Security Council embargo against Russia or abstain and ignore the U.N. just as they are doing with Iran.

Let’s hope that neither Putin nor Xi decide to expand their territory following the media and psychological warfare being conducted in Beijing, which is glorifying the CCP Olympics and hiding the following five CCP poisons:

  • Uyghur genocide in Xinjiang: arbitrary detention in state-sponsored internment camps, forced labor, suppression of religious practices, political indoctrination, forced sterilization, forced contraception, and forced abortion.
  • Oppression in Tibet: ongoing human rights abuses, including religious suppression, arbitrary arrest, maltreatment in custody, torture, forced abortion, and sterilization.
  • Persecution of Falun Gong: torture, illegal imprisonment, forced labor, organ harvesting, and abusive psychiatric measures, with the attempted aim of forcing practitioners to recant their belief.
  • Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong pro-democracy activists: harassment, intimidation, enforced disappearance, and arbitrary and incommunicado detention, as well as lengthy terms of imprisonment without an independent judiciary and effective fair trial.
  • Taiwan independence advocates: criminalization by the CCP, making anyone who supports Taiwanese independence criminally liable for life.

After the Olympics, one of the following scenarios could play out: the Russians will make an actual play to conquer the rest of Ukraine while the rest of the world does essentially nothing, and the CCP learns from this passivity and applies it to its rapacious desire to grab Taiwan; or a Russian feint pulls the world’s attention and military forces toward Ukraine so that the Chinese regime can rapidly invade Taiwan.

Either way, the authoritarian regimes will continue to take more territory as the Chinese regime has demonstrated over time with Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, South China Sea, Vietnam, parts of India, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Russia is no exception with its previous invasions into Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Tajikistan, and the numerous Soviet invasions into Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

China and Russia will continue to give false assurances that they will not expand further while they plan their next seizures.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Guermantes Lailari is a retired USAF Foreign Area Officer specializing in the Middle East and Europe as well as counterterrorism, irregular warfare, and missile defense. He has studied, worked, and served in the Middle East and North Africa for over 14 years and similarly in Europe for six years. He was a U.S. Air Force Attaché in the Middle East, served in Iraq and holds advanced degrees in International Relations and Strategic Intelligence. He researches authoritarian and totalitarian regimes that threaten democracies. He will be a Taiwan Fellow in Taipei during 2022.