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'This Is a War Fought in Real Time Across Social Media': Joe Micallef on Russia-Ukraine Crisis

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In this special episode, we sat down with Joe Micallef, a historian and military analyst. After a little more than a week, how has the Russia-Ukraine crisis been playing out, and what does that mean for China? He sheds light on all that and more.
Micallef said, "What's different about this war, what is unprecedented is that this is a war that is being fought in real time across social media. And that has never happened before. And that has been one of the factors that has galvanized public opinion as extensively as it has."
He adds that "Beijing has been surprised by how the rest of the world has responded, by the outpouring of support on social media. And I think, more importantly, by the boycott of Russian goods, which—while is relatively irrelevant to Russia and the Russian economy—were it to be applied to China, would become very serious. And I think that's probably a greater threat right now in Beijing's eyes than any military response that the United States and its allies might undertake, in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. So I think China at the moment is backpedaling, rather furiously calling for diplomatic solutions. It has not yet volunteered or offered to mediate."
And at the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend, we got to sit down with Andrew McCarthy, a military intelligence analyst and Air Force veteran. He sheds light on why it’s so hard to predict what Vladimir Putin might do, the hybrid warfare playing out, and if world powers will shift.
McCarthy said, "Ukraine was a huge gateway into Europe, or at least China views it as such, on the telecom and espionage level. Huawei has been banned ... throughout many parts of the West, but not in Ukraine. So I think they look at Ukraine as a gateway, prior to everything that happened. However, I think a big catalyst recently—it was reported on this, public information as well—the U.S. shared intelligence with China on the situation in Ukraine. The U.S. did this from a diplomatic, sort of global community perspective, to say, 'What are we going to do about this,' which I thought was, you know, very diplomatic, it was with good faith, which you can't operate with the PLA or the CCP. What they did then was rebuff that intel, and then give it to the Russians and say, 'This is what the U.S. knows about your positions. This is what they're sharing with the Ukraine.' So China showed their hand there. And then on the third level, I'd say the bottom line, is that China and Russia see a future. That is not overt. There are many problems there. And it's not going to be as clean cut as, say, an alliance in the West between the U.S. and UK, right, where there's natural homogeny, there's natural shared history. China and Russia have an interesting history. But they really fill each other's gaps, like a puzzle piece, right? Demographically, space, tech, cyber, natural resources, they sort of fill in each other's gaps where the other one lacks, and I think China sees that Russia depends on it. And the future, the bigger picture ... is going to override anything that happens in Ukraine. And we, just like I said, saw them show their hand within the last 36 hours on that intelligence sharing."
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