2nd Dec 2022

UK spy chief: Taiwan's future at stake in Ukraine war

  • Russian aggression in Ukraine caused 'tectonic' shifts in Western alliance, Richard Moore said (Photo: Rodrigo Abd)
Listen to article

The West must help Ukraine to defeat Russia in order to deter China from invading Taiwan, Britain's intelligence chief has said.

Chinese president Xi Jinping was watching Russia's invasion of Ukraine "like a hawk", Richard Moore, the head of Britain's MI6 foreign intelligence service, said on Thursday (21 July).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Richard Moore became MI6 chief in July 2020 (Photo:

And that was "one reason why it's so essential we tough it out going into this winter and we continue to help Ukraine to win, or at least negotiate from a position of significant strength," Moore said.

Xi had an "ingrained narrative of Western weakness", Moore added.

"I think he [Xi] misunderstands US resolve and power and that could lead him to miscalculate over Taiwan", Moore said.

"It's really important [for Ukraine to win] as president Xi looks at what he may or may not do with Taiwan and sees what can happen with a misjudged invasion," the MI6 chief said.

Moore, a former diplomat who took up his MI6 post two years ago, spoke at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado in his first-ever public remarks abroad.

Winter would be tough, because European countries would come under "pressure" to abandon Ukraine due to Russian gas cut-offs, he said.

But Russian president Vladimir Putin's offensive in east Ukraine was slowing to "incremental progress" and his forces would soon have to pause to regroup, giving Ukraine a chance to strike back, Moore said.

"It [a Ukrainian counter-offensive] would be an important reminder to the rest of Europe that it's a winnable war," he said.

Russia had already lost 15,000 soldiers — more than in Afghanistan in Soviet times, he noted, and Putin got a "bloody nose" trying to capture Kyiv.

His Ukraine war was also a "strategic failure" in terms of broader Russian foreign policy, Moore said.

It had prompted "tectonic shifts" in the Western military allegiance, such as Germany agreeing to export arms and Finland and Sweden joining Nato, he said.

"Sweden just gave up 200 years of neutrality," he added.

Europe had also ejected "roughly half" of all Russian spies working under diplomatic cover in its capitals, Moore noted, referring to the 530 recent expulsions by EU and allied states since April.

"We in the UK estimate that reduced their ability to spy in Europe by half," he said.

Russian "illegals" — spies under non-diplomatic cover — were also being exposed as in recent cases in Spain and the Netherlands, he also said.

One reason why Putin charged into Ukraine was because his own intelligence chiefs were too scared to tell him what he would really face there, Moore said.

It "doesn't pay to speak truth to power" in the Kremlin and Putin "just wasn't being briefed up", Moore said.

But Putin also thought he still had friends on the world stage — including China and Iran.

China has been helping Russia by buying its oil and spreading its war propaganda, Moore said.

"They've [the Chinese] been quite conservative about military assistance [to Russia] but I'm sure if they could provide that and get away with it, they would," he added.

The West ought to "listen hard" when Xi says his partnership with Putin has "no limits", as he did before the Ukraine invasion, Moore said.

But "this is not an equal partnership and Ukraine has made it less equal," he added. "China is very much in the driving seat and Russia is the junior partner," he said.

The West might not share the same values as Gulf Arab states, but it should still "work our friends in the Gulf" to help weaken Iran, Moore added.

Hungary seeks to buy more gas from Russia

Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán is facing one of his biggest challenges of his more than a decade-long rule, as the economic pressures keep mounting, and EU funds remain suspended due to rule-of-law concerns.


For China and EU, cooperation is our only right way forward

In a world of profound changes, we believe that healthy and stable China-EU relations, especially in the economic and trade realm, can help counter the uncertainty on the global economic stage, and are conducive to global development and prosperity.


Supporting Taiwan 'like carrying water in a sieve'

China's ambassador to Belgium, Cao Zhongming, says the US has been distorting, obscuring and hollowing out the 'one-China' principle and unscrupulously undermining China's core interests. This is sheer double standards and a shameful act of bad faith.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  2. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  3. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  4. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  5. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  6. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  7. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs
  8. Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us