Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine could open the door to greater global conflict.
A new axis of evil led by Russia and China is determined to control the world's technology and commerce.
Within hours of invading Ukraine, Putin made an urgent phone call to Beijing. He wanted to discuss his actions with communist China's President Xi Jinping.
Not only did Xi know about the invasion in advance, but Western intelligence officials also say the Chinese requested Putin delay military action until after the Beijing Olympics. Russia obliged.
This revelation indicates a strengthening of the Sino-Russian alliance and suggests the potential for President Xi to rely on his Russian partner for additional help.
So is Xi preparing to pounce on Taiwan?
"Certainly he's watching what happens in Ukraine and certainly how the rest of the world reacts to it," explained Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Spalding.
"I think Putin went to China in order to get Xi's blessing for the (Ukraine) invasion."
And perhaps a nod toward closer cooperation.
Both presidents know Russian success in Ukraine is necessary for the alliance to make more significant gains.
"Russia the bear, China the dragon are looking at a way to undermine the United States on the edge of their spheres of influence. If the Russians extend their area of hegemonic influence over Eastern Europe, China backs it. The Chinese will look towards the Russians for support for a potential invasion of Taiwan, an expansion of their hegemonic interests towards Southeast Asia," explained Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum.
"Both countries, I think wrongly, they both feel threatened by the U.S. dominance in the region and now they're pushing back. If they work together, they're more likely to think that they'll succeed. But I think the U.S., by the time it starts confronting these two theaters, should wake up and realize that it's time to contain Russia and China," said Roman. "And at the end of the day, the Russians, the Chinese have a historical grievance that goes back hundreds of years. And that might upset the apple cart."
For now, in order to aid their pursuit for Russian energy and Chinese money, certain countries are joining this new Sino-Russian-led axis.
That includes nuclear Pakistan, whose Prime Minister Imran Kahn met with Putin just hours before the Ukraine invasion, even though war was imminent. His high-level Moscow visit was Pakistan's first of its kind in more than 20-years.
Spalding suggests the timing of this convergence is troubling.
"Ukraine plus Russia plus China, plus China's Belt and Road Initiative. So all the satellite states, to include countries like Iran and North Korea and others that are along the Belt and Road Initiative, makes them incredibly powerful, not just militarily, not just from a nuclear weapon perspective, but also economically, financially, and increasingly technologically. "
American ally Taiwan would be a rich target. It has plenty of wealth and technology, currently accounting for 60% of the world's semiconductor revenue.
A coordinated military invasion of the island would give the members of this alliance dominance over the global microchip industry. That could prove devastating to the U.S. defense industry which relies heavily on its ally's tech.
"Taiwan Semiconductor is the best chip manufacturer in the world today. It's no longer American companies, it is TSMC," explained Spalding.
"Now the good news is they've started to build a fab in Arizona. So, you know, part of what we would be doing in the response to a potential invasion by China would be relocating the engineers and scientists at work on chips and as many of the people of Taiwan that would like to, you know, leave before the invasion begins," he explained.
Concerns over this anti-American axis extend far beyond Taiwan and advanced Chinese military capabilities.
North Korea, a longtime member, continues to threaten its neighbors with missile launches, and Iran may soon possess a nuclear weapon too.
Technology experts also warn that China's advances in artificial intelligence already exceed those of the United States.
"It's really a fundamentally different world, and the tragedy of it all is that we helped them build it," Spalding said.
And the United States is not doing enough to build up American industries to prevent the Chinese from surpassing us in technological advances.
"This has been growing. We knew it was happening," said Spalding. "We just, we wanted to hope or wish it away, kind of like Chamberlain and others of his ilk during World War Two."
And the Ukrainian pushback against the Russians may be the wake-up call needed to spur the United States and its allies to respond resolutely to this new and dangerous "axis of evil" threat.