After months of force build-up, preparations and cyber-attacks, Russia began its “special military operation” In Ukraine. Throughout the first 10 days of fighting, Russian forces engaged Ukrainian armed forces and civilians in land, sea, and air battles – also opening another front in Belarus. Whilst the conversation surrounding the effectiveness of Russia’s actions is hard to discern as President Putin’s goals remain unclear, one thing is becoming clearer and clearer. Despite viewing some Ukrainian territories as detached pieces of Russian land, Russia had refrained from retaking charge of them so long as they did not compromise Russia’s national security and /or self-interests.
This “Special military operation” has occasioned diplomatic reactions from the West who have employed the use of diplomatic sanctions and not counter military actions from powerful forces such as NATO, the UK, US, and others. Yet, whilst these sanctions have made Russia the most sanctioned country in the world to date and will worsen the economic crisis that began with the onset of Covid19, these actions have no physical counter-military effect. Therefore, despite these assumedly strong actions and stances taken against Russia, there has not been any significant military reaction against the Russian aggression. This level of response might even cancel the deterrent of war that has been instrumental in stopping potential military conflicts in the past.
The reality that is being formed here considering the current climate is especially dangerous. The phrase “the world is watching” is accentuated by the notion that China may finally decide to conduct a similar move– and take control of Taiwan in a similar manner to what it did in Hong Kong back in 2020. Whilst China may not have control over energy resources, most of the Western world relies on productions and imports from China. Creating similar sanctions against China – such as those placed on Russia will therefore not only be significantly harder but may even be impossible.
As seen from the onset, Russia initially started to escalate tensions with Ukraine by conducting Wiper and DDOS cyber-attacks as well as cyber and spectrum attacks against military assets and entities across the board (commercial, non-profit, government and defense). These attacks severely crippled many of the Ukrainian companies before the first shot was even fired and it is our assessment that given the current sanctions, Russia may choose to retaliate against the West using cyber-attacks. Corresponding to this, although the Chinese model for war may be different to Russia’s, the level of penetration by Chinese APT’s (Advanced Persistent Threat) in Taiwan is presumed to be extremely high. The potential for conflict between China and Taiwan – like that seen with Russia and Ukraine, is monumental. China’s technical ability and their drive to fulfill their agenda, makes Taiwan and other States a target for an onslaught of cyberattacks. As noted, China’s influence over the West almost ascertains that if Taiwan resists (as it probably will) we will see similar initial attacks, to those seen in the current Russian – Ukrainian war – a wide range of cyber-attacks – including spectrum hacks, military capability jamming and so on.