The Biden administration must come up with an appropriate response to deter twin threats from Beijing and Moscow after China and Russia both recently conducted missile tests that demonstrated their improved military capabilities, experts told the Washington Examiner.
China tested "a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile" that "circled the globe before speeding toward its target" over the summer, while just a few days ago Russia tested a missile that targeted a satellite, destroying it and scattering more than a thousand pieces of debris across space.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Bloomberg Television that the Chinese test was "very concerning," adding that "I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. It has all of our attention."
Russia's test, which took place just hours before President Joe Biden virtually met with Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping, was the first time Moscow had shown the ability to strike a satellite using an Earth-based missile, according to The Washington Post.
Foreign policy expert Jason Killmeyer told the Washington Examiner that "the abandonment of a credible deterrent in the United States is itself expanding the realm of possibility."
He added that condemnations and sanctions "do not alter the trajectory of dictators any longer," stressing that "what I don't hear is any understanding on the American side about how we would actually respond - how will we actually discourage this in the future? And the tools in our toolkit are sort of limited, particularly, I think, in an era of waning sanctions relevance."
State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the Russian military "recklessly conducted" the "direct-ascent anti-satellite missile" test, which sent more than "1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that now threaten the interests of all nations," as well as the International Space Station.
John Venable, a senior research fellow for defense policy at the Heritage Foundation, emphasized it is vital that the Biden administration react appropriately to the Russian action, saying "we have this opportunity and this need to respond to a provocation in space. And this administration needs to sit down and maybe pull in some experts from outside of their orbits in order to get the right response and execute that. But the option to not do anything is not there nor is the opportunity to do something that is going to exacerbate the situation."
Tim Morrison, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute and a Vandenberg Coalition Advisory Board member, stressed that the U.S. must consider these tests as a wake-up call to speed up military development.
The Russians are "sending us a message, and it's incumbent on us to figure out what is that message," said Morrison, who was a national security official during the Trump administration. "This is why we set up Space Force - because we were worried at the pace with which our adversaries were developing their capability intended to target our capability. And we were worried that we weren't moving fast enough."
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