US military says ‘China and Russia could collaborate’ south of US border

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The head of the US Army The command dedicated to operations south of the US border in Central America, South America and the Caribbean has warned that China and Russia appear to be working together against Washington’s interests in the region.

South American Command chief Admiral Craig Faller cited China, along with transnational criminal organizations, as “the two greatest threats” his forces face in the SOUTHCOM area of ​​operations during a press conference Tuesday.

Echoing previous remarks by his counterpart in charge of the Indo-Pacific command, Faller said that “China is the greatest long-term strategic threat to security in the 21st century, the insidious, corrosive and corrupt influences of the Chinese Communist Party at work in the world. and in this region. “

He provided a list of actions taken by China in its command zone.

“Some examples include the pursuit of multiple port deals, loans for political leverage, vaccine diplomacy that undermines sovereignty, state oversight of IT, and the exploitation of resources such as illegal fishing, no. regulated and not declared, ”he said.

Faller said China was ahead of the United States in vaccine diplomacy and was rapidly developing economic networks and infrastructure projects. Beijing, he said, “is globally engaged and engaged in this hemisphere to promote their interests in economic domination.”

As for Moscow, Faller said that “Russia continues to try to spoil and undermine US interest in the world” and has been particularly active in the area of ​​social media. He claimed that much of it was “disinformation aimed at discrediting the United States.”

Faller said one of SOUTHCOM’s top priorities is to identify how Washington’s two main rivals are pooling their resources.

“We see and look with our fellow combatant commanders at areas where China and Russia could collaborate,” Faller said. “It’s a priority for us and it’s a concern where and when we see it.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) during their bilateral meeting at the 11th BRICS Summit November 13, 2019 in Brasilia, Brazil. This meeting was their last known in-person meeting before the outbreak of global lockdowns induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

He then identified a place where the interests of China and Russia seemed particularly to converge: Venezuela.

“Venezuela is the most notable example, where at the diplomatic level they were certainly and continue to be engaged in blocking any effort for UN solutions or global solutions,” Faller said.

The two countries offered their support to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, with whom the United States severed ties in January 2019 in a bid to support the demand of the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, to the Presidency. Guaido accused Maduro of rigging his electoral victory and he garnered international support for his demands from dozens of countries in the region and abroad.

But dozens of other countries still recognize Maduro’s reign, and his government retains its seat in the The United Nations. Shortly after the former president Donald trump launched its campaign of “maximum pressure” to oust the socialist leader, a gathering of nations calling themselves the “Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations” gathered in protest.

This group recently shared with Newsweek a concept note calling, among other things, to>

The 17-member coalition includes China and Russia, as well as Venezuela and its closest Latin American ally, Cuba, the target of a decades-long tightened trade embargo under Trump.

Iran is also backing Maduro, who has also been hit by crippling economic sanctions seeking to force the country to change its policies. Instead, the Islamic Republic has stepped up aid to Venezuela, sending tankers to help the nation hit by the financial crisis. The United States seized some of these ships and sold the cargo in what Caracas and Tehran described as “piracy”.

During Tuesday’s briefing, Faller said it was Maduro’s administration that was “illegitimate,” and argued that it “is fully entrenched and that Cuban security forces, Russia, Iran and the China all support its entrenched rule of power.

Beijing and Moscow have also invested heavily in other countries in the region. He noted in his testimony Tuesday at the Senate Armed Services Committee that the influence of the two powers increases, while “our influence is eroded” throughout the SOUTHCOM area of ​​operations.

us military exercise colombia
U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to 1st Battalion, 325th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, and the Colombian National Army conduct a tactical ground exercise designed to simulate securing an airfield at Tolemaida Air Base, Nilo, Colombia on Jan. 26, 2020. The United States maintains extensive military contacts throughout the SOUTHCOM region.
Sergeant Andrea Salgado Rivera / 55th Combat Camera / US Army

China and Russia do not have a formal alliance, but the two countries have increasingly favored a strategic partnership based on warming diplomatic, economic and military cooperation. Both countries have complained about the extensive presence of the United States in their neighboring regions of Asia and Europe.

Yet they both appealed to the president Joe bidenadministration for better and more stable relations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Wednesday provided an overview of the next initial conversation between senior Chinese and US officials which is scheduled to take place in Anchorage, Alaska on Thursday.

“We hope that, through this dialogue, the two parties will be able to follow up on the consensus reached between the President. Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden in their phone call on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year, working in the same direction, managing the differences and putting the Sino-US relations back on the right path of healthy development, ”Zhao told reporters.

But he also accused Washington officials of trying “to influence public opinion in the run-up to the dialogue to try to put pressure on China,” a move he called “futile and doomed to failure .

The Moscow embassy in Washington, meanwhile, countered what it called “baseless accusations” in a recently released US intelligence report claiming that the Russian president Vladimir Poutine tried to undermine Biden’s chances of victory in the 2020 election.

“We declare that Washington continues to practice ‘megaphone diplomacy’, with the main aim of maintaining a negative image of Russia,” the embassy said in a statement, “to accuse outside actors of having destabilized the situation in Russia. the interior of the country “.

The communiqué said that American policy was an obstacle to productive relations between the powers.

“This attitude of the administration hardly matches our proposal for an equal and mutually respectful dialogue of experts in search of solutions to the most pressing problems,” the statement said. “Washington’s actions do not lead to the normalization of bilateral relations.”

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