Having sized up Biden, Putin invaded Ukraine. Taiwan must pray Xi doesn’t make a similar assessment

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Prior to invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to foresee the potential U.S. response. As a former KGB operative, Putin honed his skill at sizing up personalities while he was running spy networks in East Germany. He prides himself on his ability to “work and communicate with people,” calling himself a “specialist in human relations,” a skill he believes is critical to his role as Russian president.

The meeting between Putin and Biden would have certainly been studied by the Chinese in the lead-up to Monday’s Biden/Xi conversation on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. The Chinese are fully aware of the actions Putin took following his discussions with Biden.

US President Joe Biden meets with China’s President Xi Jinping during a virtual summit from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 15, 2021.  (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

A lot can be gleaned from that February meeting and how Russia does its intel gathering. In 2001, during a press conference, the former Russian spymaster explained his approach to striking rapport when communicating with a wide range of individuals,

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