Amid reports of the Chinese government looking to provide powerful aid to Russian forces in their invasion of Ukraine, reports on Thursday revealed that the United States plans to send 100 to 200 troops to Taiwan for training following rising tensions with Beijing.
Before the announcement by officials in Washington, the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday endorsed a broad resolution demanding Russia unconditionally and immediately withdraw from the territories it conquered in its invasion, with countries like China, India, and others abstaining from the vote.
The resolution also called for peace between the two nations and came as Kyiv’s allies in the G7 persuaded the Ukrainian government not to emphasize expansionary demands.
Speaking to Chuck Todd on NBC News’s Meet the Press NOW, Nancy Youssef, the national security correspondent at the Wall Street Journal who broke the story, explained that American officials have frequently been nervous about their activities and presence in Taiwan.
According to Youssef, officials are trying to find the highest support level they can offer the Taiwanese military without agitating relations with China. Youssef noted that details on the number of troops, training methods, and efforts to bolster Taiwan’s defense are hidden behind closed doors, making it hard to get specifics.
The reporter noted that the policy is “meant to be a deterrent.”
On the question of military trainers, Youssef related the efforts to Ukraine, noting that one of the lessons American military officials took from Ukraine is that since 2014 to the invasion nearly a year ago, the U.S. was training Ukrainian fighters so that in the event of an attack they would be prepared.
This time, American officials are not looking for trainers to confront China should they enter Taiwan but rather have the forces in place and skills for local troops should they face an invasion.
“There is no Poland for Taiwan, so if there is an invasion, everything they have has to be on the island ready to go,” Youssef said to Meet the Press Now.
Asked whether to analyze the ongoing situation, Ivan Kanapathy, a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told Todd that the U.S. has been selling weapons to Taiwan for several years and has ramped it up significantly. “The training side also needs to ramp up to create a capability,” said Kanapathy.
Kanapathy explained that Taiwan has “focused on instruments of capabilities and platforms that are probably not best attuned for an Island defense mission.”
The Senior Associate at CSIS noted that military weapons like Stingers, Javelins and other powerful weapons were ready to be sent to Taiwan years ago. The one event that changed all of that was the invasion of Ukraine.
“China has not given up on the idea of persuasion, but I think that window is closing,” said Kanapathy.
“We do not have a comment on specific operations, engagements, or training, but I would highlight that our support for, and defense relationship with, Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China. Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” said U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Marty Meiners in an exclusive statement to The Foreign Desk.
On the issue of the U.S. Defense Department being pushed to the limit, Youssef explained that around $30 billion worth of military equipment went to Ukraine, with some intended for other countries, including Taiwan.
“We haven’t seen a subsequent ramp up of defense contracting, and so what we’ve seen is a depletion of stockpiles and not as an aggressive effort to resupply those and build new weaponry.”
According to the WSJ reporter, there is a feeling that stockpiles are being “stretched,” which was supposed to be temporary but has stretched longer than initially. She noted that subsequent adjustments to resupply ammunition have not occurred.
Speaking on the growing cooperation between Russia and China over the invasion of Ukraine, Youssef explained that American officials are concerned that Beijing supplying Moscow with ammunition and other military equipment could change the war in favor of Moscow.
Experts familiar with the ongoing situation note that last year, Taiwanese troops participated in the Northern Strike simulation led by the U.S. Michigan National Guard, which took place at Camp Grayling after then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the country.