Ukraine War lessons: Start with tactical nuclear ‘demonstration’ strikes?

FPI / April 28, 2022

Russia’s war with Ukraine, which is into its third devastating month, has yielded lessons China could apply to any future war against the nation of Taiwan — and that the Taiwanese can exploit for their defense and survival, an analyst said.

Amphibious assault drill by PLA Navy marines. / China Ministry of National Defense

“For China, the most important lesson of Russia’s stark military failures is that like Russia, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) quest for hegemony rests on a brittle and fatal hubris,” Richard Fisher wrote in an April 25 op-ed for the Taipei Times.

Russia for a full year built up its forces in anticipation of invading Ukraine “only to see it culminate in a ‘surgical’ strategy that failed to capture Kyiv and ‘decapitate’ the Ukrainian state,” wrote Fisher, a contributing editor for Geostrategy-Direct.

For China, the Nuclear Option

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has learned from the Russian invasion “that it must mobilize its strike against Taiwan within days, commit maximum missile, carpet bombing, and strategic airstrikes from the outset, and achieve a maximum synergy of amphibious and airborne mechanized assaults to capture the requisite number of decisive invasion bridgeheads,” Fisher wrote.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin “envisioned his war to conquer Ukraine as a stepping stone to political-military hegemony in at least Eastern Europe and the Baltic states,” Fisher added.

Fisher continued: “Just as Putin’s confidence derived from having theater nuclear superiority, Xi Jinping’s confidence may derive from a very large number of theater nuclear weapons, largely concealed among the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force and PLA Air Force inventory of as many as 3,000 ballistic missile and cruise missile delivery systems.

“Xi likely will not repeat Putin’s failure at the outset to use his new very low-yield nuclear weapons to devastate Ukrainian resistance.

“At a minimum, Xi may start his campaign with tactical nuclear ‘demonstration’ strikes to deter U.S. and Japanese military assistance, up to a tactical nuclear strike against U.S. bases on Guam; the CCP’s record of killing up to 70 million Chinese means it may not be deterred by limited U.S. nuclear retaliation.” ….

For Taiwan, Conventional and Unconventional Warfare

For Taiwan, Russia’s war with Ukraine is a reminder of “the critical importance” for the leadership in Taipei “to prepare fully to fight its own war against the PLA,” Fisher wrote. “However, the Ukraine war offers affirmation for competing Taiwanese strategies, those who insist Taiwan must be able to win conventional battles well beyond its shores, dominate conventional conflict on the islands, and wage unconventional/insurgent warfare against highly mechanized PLA forces.”

Taiwan must be aware, Fisher wrote, that the CCP “seeks the total suppression and elimination of Taiwan’s democratic culture and can be expected to apply the same capacity for extermination or reeducation as it has employed against the Uighurs, Tibetans, and in Hong Kong.”

For Taiwan, Ukraine has also demonstrated the effectiveness and necessity of targeting logistics.

“The PLA’s logistic support for a Taiwan invasion starts in Fujian Province, to include hundreds of invasion nodes to the north and south. There is no point in giving the CCP deference and time by holding back from attacking such nodes on the Mainland,” Fisher wrote.

Ukraine, the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) gave Russia “such deference, incurring a greater tragedy by allowing Russia to sustain its invasion from logistic support areas in Russia and Belarus,” Fisher wrote. ….

Full Text . . . . Current Edition . . . . Subscription Information

FPI, Free Press International