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EU country’s spies point to ‘threat’ of Russia and China

The Ukraine conflict is really about a greater confrontation between the West and Russia, while China challenges the world order based on Western values, according to the 2022 annual report by the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) of the Netherlands.

Published this week, the report claims that Russia sees itself “not only at war with Ukraine, but also at war with the West,” while the West considers the conflict to be “also about our norms, values, freedom and prosperity.”

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According to the AIVD, while Ukraine is the military battleground, to Moscow the broader conflict is “about geopolitical relations in the world.” Russia believes it to be an existential conflict and is trying to “undermine Western democracies,” the Dutch spies have claimed.

More than just a military conflict between two countries, the fighting in Ukraine “suddenly accelerated developments that have been going on in the world for a long time, changed the relationships between groups of countries, and can influence how countries interact with each other for a long time to come. In short, it turned out to be a geopolitical system shock,” the AIVD said.

The fighting in Ukraine “also put pressure on fault lines in the world that were already coming to the surface, especially the one between the US and China. Their economic and geopolitical competition is forcing more and more countries to choose sides,” the spies added.

According to the agency, though it is the biggest trading partner of the Netherlands, China also “poses the greatest threat to the Dutch economic security,” spying on both government and private companies “without scruples.” 

AIVD accused China of wanting to replace the “international order based on Western values,” with a world order in which Beijing would be on top. 

The AIVD findings come as the government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced plans to restrict exports of semiconductor-producing equipment to China. The US has been pressuring the Netherlands to do so for months.

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