TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A whistleblower from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) reported that Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平) had considered launching an invasion of Taiwan in the fall of this year before the "window of opportunity" closed with the disastrous Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The head of the Russian human rights group Gulagu Net, Vladimir Osechkin, recently on Facebook began releasing documents containing Russian intelligence concerning the war in Ukraine. One document, which Osechkin claimed was written by an intelligence officer from an analytical unit of the FSB, apparently revealed China's original timeline for attacking Taiwan before Russia began its invasion.
According to the March 4 report, Xi had been "considering taking over Taiwan in the fall." Part of the rationale given for that timing was that Xi "needs his own little victory to get re-elected for a third term," a reference to the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, amid what the analyst described as a "colossal" power struggle among China's elite.
However, "after the Ukrainian events, this window of opportunity has been closed for (Xi)," wrote the author of the report. He asserted that this gives the U.S. the opportunity to "both blackmail Xi and negotiate with his competitors on favorable terms."
Earlier in the document, the analyst wrote that China may give Russia an ultimatum to "end the war to stabilize oil prices." The author warned that given Russia's negative image due to the war, the U.S. will "easily sell sanctions against China, at least to Europeans, if (China) risks bypassing sanctions on Russia."
The intelligence officer observed that China is so dependent on exports and vulnerable to raw material price swings that sanctions would be a "near-fatal blow." The agent lamented that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has "launched a trap mechanism for China."
As for the authenticity of this document, Christo Grozev, a Bulgarian journalist who won the European Press Prize for Investigative Journalism, cautioned on Twitter on March 6 that Ukraine had released fake FSB documents as part of its psyops strategy, but he vouched for Osechkin as a reputable source. Grozev argued that the length of the letter points to its authenticity, based on the rationale that "the longer the text, the more risk of making an error."
In a follow-up tweet, Grozev stated that he had shown the letter to two confirmed FSB contacts and that they "had no doubt it was written by a colleague." He noted that his FSB contacts did not agree with all of the analyst's conclusions, "but that's a different story."
Osechkin told Taiwan News that the FSB agent, who calls himself "Wind of Change," first began providing classified information to Gulagu Net on Oct. 21, 2021. He said that initially, the source would provide detailed information about torture in Russian prisons "once or twice a month."
However, over time, Osechkin said that the officer began to submit additional intelligence on a wide range of topics and has continued to do so since the war in Ukraine started. On Feb. 19, the whistleblower warned the group two days in advance about a Russian disinformation campaign to spread false rumors of torture in Ukraine prisons to destabilize the situation just prior to the invasion.
This letter appeared different though: it came via a reputable source (founder of https://t.co/CRbu3jRNHI), and it was way longer than a forger would choose to make it (the longer the text, the more risk of making an error).— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) March 5, 2022