5 July 2021

The PLA’s Developing Cyber Warfare Capabilities and India's Options

 Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it clear that his objective for China is to emerge as a ‘cyber superpower’. China wants to be the world’s largest nation in cyberspace and also one of the most powerful. The information technology revolution has produced both momentous opportunities and likely vulnerabilities for china. China is home of largest number of ‘netizens’ in the world. It also hosts some of the world’s most vibrant and successful technology companies. It also remains a major victim of cyber crime. 

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) believes that with the rise of the Information Age future wars will be contests in the ability to exploit information. Wars will be decided by the side who is more capable to generate, gather, transmit, analyse and exploit information.

China’s Nuclear and Missile Capabilities: An Overview

 Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Since China first conducted a nuclear weapon test in 1964, its nuclear doctrine has remained unchanged and is underpinned by two principles: a minimum deterrent doctrine and a No First Use (NFU) policy. China’s 2019 defence white paper states, “China is always committed to a nuclear policy of NFU of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally.”

However, a recent U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) report claims that the scope of China’s nuclear modernisation and its lack of transparency “raise concern that China is not only shifting its requirements for what constitutes a minimal deterrence but that it could shift away from its longstanding minimalist force posture.” The data available show that China is modernising and expanding virtually every element of its nuclear forces, including each aspect of its nuclear weapons and missile, sea, and air delivery systems. What is not clear are China’s current and planned holdings of nuclear weapons, China’s future plans for deploying additional delivery systems, its commitment to some form of NFU, first preemption, or launch on warning, and the extent to which it will accept what might be called a form of ‘minimum assured destruction.

India-China Strategic Competition and the Costs of the Ladakh Crisis

Arzan Tarapore

The Ladakh crisis is not over yet. Disengagement from front-line positions, begun with fanfare in February, has since stalled. Chinese troops remain encamped in several positions on previously Indian-controlled territory and talks to dislodge them have been fruitless. Quite apart from the fait accompli on the ground, Ladakh will reverberate for years because of its effect on India’s strategic competition with China. As I argue in a recently-published paper, the crisis has exacted unequal strategic costs on the two sides. China has escaped with relatively minor costs. It was probably most concerned by the political cost of continued deterioration in relations with India – costs that were more threatened than realized, and mostly reduced with disengagement.

In contrast, the cost for India will come in the form of a weaker strategic posture against China. This is somewhat paradoxical, because India’s immediate response was to heavily reinforce its force posture on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and rebalance its Army to manage threats from China. But in the longer term, this rebalancing – for relatively minor strategic gain – will come at the expense of India’s military modernization and its maritime expansion thousands of miles away in the Indian Ocean – which will prove far more consequential in India’s strategic competition with China.

The People We’re Leaving Behind in Afghanistan

Steve Coll

On September 3, 2019, Abdul Samad Amiri, the acting head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission’s office in his home province of Ghor, posted a reflective message on Facebook. He was just shy of thirty. He had grown up amid “the trauma of more than 40 years’ civil war and feel wholeheartedly the affliction imposed on my people,” he wrote. Yet he was optimistic. “I can’t ignore or forget the dreams for Afghanistan’s future and her place as a part of this world. . . . Despite the difficulties, I owe my life to this land and will work for its betterment so long as I live.”

Later that day, while Amiri was travelling by car from Kabul to Ghor, Taliban militants kidnapped and then, two days later, murdered him—one more death among hundreds of assassinations targeting rights advocates, journalists, civil servants, and other unarmed, younger Afghans who had seized the opportunities created by the American-led invasion of their country, in 2001. Nine months after Amiri’s murder, Fatima Khalil, a commission employee who was twenty-four, and a driver, Ahmad Jawid Folad, forty-one, were killed when unknown assailants placed a bomb on the road, targeting their vehicle; the explosive detonated as they drove through Kabul.

U.S. Leaves Its Last Afghan Base, Effectively Ending Operations

KABUL, Afghanistan — American troops and their Western allies have departed the U.S. military base that coordinated the sprawling war in Afghanistan, officials said on Friday, effectively ending major U.S. military operations in the country after nearly two decades.

For generations of American service members, the military hub, Bagram Air Base, was a gateway to and from a war that cut across constant changes on the battlefield and in presidential administrations. But the final withdrawal overnight on Thursday occurred with little fanfare and no public ceremony, and in an atmosphere of grave concern over the Afghan security forces’ ability to hold off Taliban advances across the country.

The American exit was completed quickly enough that some looters managed to get into the base before being arrested, Afghan officials said.

The quiet leave-taking from the base weeks before the planned withdrawal of American troops in mid July, and months ahead of President’s Biden announced Sept. 11 departure, highlights Washington’s efforts to signal two different messages: one to the U.S. public that its longest foreign war is ending, and another to the Afghan government that the United States is not abandoning the country in the middle of a Taliban offensive, and would retain some ability to conduct airstrikes if need be.

Most European troops exit Afghanistan quietly after 20 years

Most European troops have already pulled out of Afghanistan, quietly withdrawing months before the U.S.-led mission was officially expected to end - part of an anticlimactic close to the "forever war" that risks leaving the country on the brink of civil war.

Germany and Italy declared their missions in Afghanistan over on Wednesday and Poland's last troops returned home, bringing their deployments to a low-key end nearly 20 years after the first Western soldiers were deployed there.

Announcements from several countries analyzed by The Associated Press show that a majority of European troops has now left with little ceremony - a stark contrast to the dramatic and public show of force and unity when NATO allies lined up to back the U.S. invasion to rid the country of al-Qaida after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In the ensuing decades, the war went from one mission to another. Former U.S. President George W. Bush's administration shied away from nation-building and the United Nations advocated a light footprint. But with the passing years, NATO and U.S. troops took on greater roles developing Afghanistan's National Security and Defense Forces and training police. At the war's peak, the U.S. and NATO military numbers surpassed 150,000.

Promoting Peace, Friendship And Cooperation In South China Sea Through Bilateral Consultative Mechanism – OpEd

Rommel C. Banlaoi

Despite countless debates and numerous discussions on the many ramifications of the South China Sea, it is still very lamenting to stress the lack of informed public understanding of the scope and nature of conflicts in this area that is considered to be one of the major flashpoints of conflict not only in Asia but also in the entire world.

South China Sea disputes are often associated with the Spratly dispute involving Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. China and Vietnam claims the whole of Spratlys while Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines only claim part of it.

Taiwan is also a party to the Spratly dispute because it occupies Itu Aba, the largest geographic feature in the area. Because members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) uphold a one-China policy recognizing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the legitimate national government, Taiwan is not included in the ongoing negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

Will America Defend Taiwan? Here’s What History Says

Ian Easton

In December 1949, Chiang Kai-shek moved the capitol of the Republic of China (ROC) to Taipei. He intended the relocation to be temporary. He had already moved his government multiple times: when the Empire of Japan invaded China, when World War II ended, and again when Mao Zedong’s Communist insurgents took the upper hand in the Chinese Civil War.

To Chiang’s eyes, Taiwan was the perfect place to refit his tattered forces and prepare them for the long struggle ahead to defeat the Communists. The main island was protected by dozens of tiny island citadels, many just off the mainland coast, and surrounded by famously rough waters. While Chiang’s army had sustained crushing battlefield defeats and mass defections, he believed his superior navy and air force would make Taiwan an impregnable fortress.

The events that followed presented successive U.S. presidents with some of the most consequential foreign policy questions ever confronted by America’s leaders. During the decades since 1949, there have been several incidents that tested whether or not Washington was willing to confront the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and support Taiwan. If past is prologue, how the United States responded to previous crises might say something important about what it will do in the future. So, what does the historical record say? What might we expect to see if China attacks Taiwan in the 2020s or beyond?

Satellite Photos Show China Expanding Its Mysterious Desert Airfield


It inspires comparisons to Area-51: A massive, three-mile-long runway in a remote patch of Chinese desert, hundreds of miles from any cities.

Now, it looks like the site is undergoing an expansion. Satellite imagery from the commercial company Maxar supplied exclusively to NPR shows around a dozen large concrete buildings under construction near the landing strip. The buildings mark a significant change at the airfield, which up until now lacked much in the way of permanent accommodation.

"I think we're observing what appears to be a pretty important facility for China's military space activities that appears to be growing," says Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who tracks space issues there.

The runway, on the edge of China's former nuclear weapons test range at Lop Nur, sprung from nowhere in 2016. In 2020, observers believe that China landed a highly classified "space plane" there.

China: working your head off

Enrique Dans

A long and very interesting article in the Financial Times, “‘Obedience and fear’: the brutal working conditions behind China’s tech boom”, provides some insight into China’s work culture, summed up as “996” — working from nine in the morning to nine at night, six days a week — as well as asking to what extent businesses rely on these long hours, which is beginning to create wider problems in society and has seen the deaths of numerous workers.

In China, a good worker is somebody who, like the famous Xi’an warrior statues pictured here, works their head off, even if the law limits overtime to three hours a day and a total of 36 hours per month. Needless to say, the sanctification of a culture of long hours means the law is flouted, particularly in industries such as technology. In response, younger Chinese tech workers have created a repository of grievances against some of China’s biggest companies on Github called 996.ICU, a reference to working long hours and then being sent to intensive care for exhaustion.

The CCP at 100: How to think about China's ruling party

Rana Mitter

(CNN)A hundred years ago, sometime in July 1921, 13 young men gathered in the Chinese city of Shanghai to found a tiny political grouping: the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Today that party rules a quarter of humanity, presiding over the second biggest economy and second-best funded military in the world.

How has the CCP managed this impressive run? How does it view some of the darker corners of its past and present? And what comes next?

As China marks the occasion with pomp, here are some ways of looking at the party and its trajectory.

The CCP has created a unique political formula

The combination of factors that the CCP has brought together in today's China has no exact parallel in history.

The Chinese Communist Party Has Followed Sun Yat-sen’s Road Map

Peter Zarrow

With a great deal of razzle-dazzle, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is celebrating its centenary this month. Looking back on a century of party history, Chinese and foreigners alike emphasize themes of success, competence, ideological agility (or adaptability), and ruthlessness—or resolve. A hundred years ago, meeting in a small house in Shanghai in July 1921, a tiny handful of men intrigued by the little bit of Marxism that they knew and impressed by the success of the Russian Revolution agreed that China needed a proletarian revolution. They faced long odds and several near-extinction events, but their heirs rode China’s revolutionary tides to power in 1949.

But a century later, one of the striking accomplishments of the CCP is the degree to which it has fulfilled not Karl Marx’s dreams but those of Sun Yat-sen. Sun, a leader of the Revolution of 1911 who briefly became first president of the Republic of China in 1912, was no communist. But over his long career as a professional revolutionary, he sketched out many plans for how a strong government would develop China’s economy, achieve independence from the imperialist powers, and lead society toward democracy.

The Party’s Party Is All About Xi

Melinda Liu

BEIJING—The dress rehearsals for the Chinese Communist Party’s 100th anniversary began two weeks ago, with the whup whup whup of helicopters above Beijing’s main boulevard, some of the world’s most tightly restricted airspace. Multiple helicopters in tight aerial formation—forming the numerals “100”—flitted past my window. Then came the jets trailing blue, yellow, and red smoke plumes, screeching toward Tiananmen Square. There was no military parade in this practice run. When Chinese military hardware is paraded down the main drag, people living nearby normally are told to shut their windows, draw the curtains—and don’t peek.

China’s tech-savvy commissars don’t really need real-life parades to celebrate the party’s centennial. With digital effects and 22,000 spectators filmed by drones, Beijing’s centennial extravaganza at the National Stadium on Monday evoked Chinese triumphs through elaborately choreographed scenes playing out onstage and onscreen: engineering marvels, space probes, precision fireworks, submarines, 2008 Olympics highlights, doctors battling COVID-19, and at one point real-life vintage cargo trucks. It was a dazzling socialist-realist-Fast and the Furious moment made for YouTube. (Except in China YouTube access is banned by internet censors.)

Can a Credible Nuclear Breakout Time With Iran Be Restored?


The Iranian presidential election unsurprisingly resulted in victory for Ebrahim Raisi, reportedly the favorite of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Raisi’s election could clear a domestic Iranian political obstacle to concluding an agreement that would bring the United States and Iran back into the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran deal. Yet serious disagreements over core nuclear issues continue to plague the negotiations, creating some residual uncertainty whether these could be resolved prior to Raisi’s August 3 swearing in. The most important disagreement revolves around the desire to retain the JCPOA as a diplomatic framework that keeps Iran a fair distance from a nuclear breakout capacity.

Since U.S. President Joe Biden assumed office in January, the nominal goal of all the negotiating parties—the United States, Iran, China, the EU, France, Russia, and the UK—has been to find a formula that allows all sides to reassume their original commitments under the JCPOA. After a series of U.S. concessions, the sequence of the respective steps everyone must take is no longer an issue. Similarly, Iran has reluctantly come to accept that not all sanctions imposed on Iran by former president Donald Trump’s administration can be waived. What still stands in the way of an agreement is profound divergence on what countries’ respective obligations would be under the revived deal. The gravest challenge is rooted in the nuclear progress Iran has been able to make in response to the Trump administration’s unilateral abrogation of the agreement. Iran has used the period since 2018 to develop, test, and deploy over one thousand advanced centrifuges that dramatically shorten the time it would need to reach a bomb’s worth of fissile material, and is now enriching uranium to levels that have no plausible peaceful use. Conceivably, Iran could produce a weapon’s worth of nuclear material in a few months, much less than the one-year “breakout” standard (the time estimated for Iran to enrich enough uranium for one nuclear weapon) that the JCPOA was designed to achieve.

Rethinking U.S. Efforts on Counterterrorism: Toward a Sustainable Plan Two Decades After 9/11

Matthew Levitt*

Nearly twenty years have passed since al-Qaeda terrorists carried out the attacks of September 11, 2001.1 During that interval, the United States has built a counterterrorism bureaucracy to manage, resource, and operationalize the nation’s intelligence, law enforcement, and military response to the threat posed by al-Qaeda in particular and terrorism more broadly. This counterterrorism enterprise has been remarkably successful from a tactical perspective, foiling attacks and disrupting terrorist networks. But it has been less successful from a strategic vantage point, given that more people today are radicalized to violent extremism than in 2001, representing a more diversified and globally dispersed terrorist threat.

Countering terrorism remains one of the country’s top international security priorities, but not the primary one. Domestically, countering terrorism still constitutes a priority for agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security. But when it comes to fighting terrorism overseas, the national mood has shifted toward a focus on those groups presenting threats to the homeland or Americans abroad, while addressing regional terrorist threats through intelligence and action by local partners. As the 2018 National Defense Strategy makes clear, “Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.” 2 This reflects both the rise of Great Power and near power competition as strategic threats to U.S. national security and the success of Washington’s twenty-year investment in counterterrorism and homeland security.

Russia and Saudi Arabia: Old Disenchantments, New Challenges

John W. Parker and Thomas F. Lynch III

Executive Summary
The Joseph Biden administration can manage its recalibration of relations with Saudi Arabia without unwarranted fear that Riyadh will view Russia as a safe-harbor alternative to the United States on a myriad of state-to-state interactions that are most important to the Kingdom.

While Russia’s transactional approach to foreign partners has at times given it advantages in some areas over the more value-based framework of U.S. foreign relations, there clearly have been limits to the Russian style of dealing with Saudi Arabia in this century. For now, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have lost his bet on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) as a resolute Russian strategic partner. However, Putin will continue to do business when necessary with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on a transactional basis given its role as a key player in the region, particularly in the expanded Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+). U.S. foreign policy during the Biden administration will do best to recognize that the Russia-Saudi partnership is a transactional one that will endure, but not at the highest order of broad functionality, including at times within OPEC+.

The UK’s Integrated Review And The Future Of Cyber – Analysis

Elcano Royal Institute

The long-awaited Integrated Review was released in March by the British government, promising the most radical shakeup in the UK’s national security since the Cold War. Cyber in all its forms is weaved throughout the document; with a future vision to centre British national security around advanced technology, the bar for the next National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) has been set very high. This paper will examine what the Integrated Review indicates about the future directions for UK cyber, highlighting the key issues that the new strategy must address to fulfil the high ambitions set by British policymakers.


The Integrated Review1 is an ambitious document by any measure, seeking to comprehensively review in one report the UK’s national security, defence, foreign policy and development agenda for years, even the decade, to come. Its coverage includes conflict and insecurity, an upscaling of deployable nuclear warheads, climate change and biodiversity, health resilience and an Indo-Pacific tilt in strategic focus to recognise the shifting power dynamics to the global south.

The Thucydides Trap and the Rise and Fall of Great Powers

Jacek Bartosiak

Roughly 2,400 years ago, Thucydides, a Greek historian and author of “History of the Peloponnesian War,” expressed a view that resonates in strategic thinking to this day. He argued that the real cause of the Peloponnesian War was the rapid increase in the power of Athens and the fear this aroused in Sparta, which had dominated Greece thus far. Author Graham Allison used this concept in his book “Destined for War,” in which he described the relationship between the U.S. and China as an example of the “Thucydides trap” – the idea that the decline of a dominant power and the rise of a competing power makes war between the two inevitable.

Thucydides focused his writings and analysis on the structural tensions caused by a sharp change in the balance of power between rivals. He pointed to two main factors that contribute to this change: the aspiring power’s growing need for validation and its demand, either implicit or explicit, for a greater voice and strategic place in multilateral relations; and the current power’s fear and determination to defend the status quo.

In the fifth century B.C., Athens emerged as a powerful force that in mere decades had become a merchant maritime power, possessing financial resources and wealth but also reaching primacy in the Greek world in the fields of philosophy, history, literature, art, architecture and beyond. This irritated the Spartans, whose state had been the dominant land power in Greece throughout the preceding century.

A United NATO stance on the China-Russia challenge?


During Donald Trump’s presidency, the US began classifying both China and Russia as ‘revisionist powers’, albeit with China labelled as a strategic competitor and Russia as a disruptive force. The underlying implication was clear: the US might have to fight a war on two fronts, thus providing Moscow and Beijing with an extra incentive to strengthen ties. At the same time, while the 2018 US Defense Strategy had talked of strengthening NATO and the need for a ‘strong and free Europe’ to deter Russia, President Trump was clear that allies should step up to the plate and shoulder more responsibilities, provoking fears among NATO members of a US lack of commitment.

By 2019, the Trump administration’s ‘love-in’ with Vladimir Putin appeared to be failing, with the US withdrawing from the INF Treaty after citing Russian violations of its obligations; Russia swiftly followed suit, accusing the US of having planned it all along. Europe was thus left feeling even more vulnerable, and then came the US announcement of a series of sanctions against the Nordstream 2 pipeline, which, apart from Russia, targeted Germany.

Fungal infections worldwide are becoming resistant to drugs and more deadly

Rodney E. Rohde

Say “fungus” and most people in the world would probably visualize a mushroom.

But this fascinating and beautiful group of microbes has offered the world more than just foods like edible mushrooms. Fungi are also a source of antibiotics – for example, penicillin from Penicillium – as well as the yeasts and other fermentation agents that make bread rise, give cheese its flavor and put the alcohol in wine and beer.

Many people may also not realize that some fungi can cause disease. However, athlete’s foot, thrush, ringworm and other ailments are caused by fungi, and some are serious risks to health and life. That’s why the rise of antifungal resistance is a problem that needs more widespread attention – one equal to the better-recognized crises of multidrug-resistant microbes like the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.

This is how climate change could impact the global economy

Natalie Marchant

Climate change could wipe off up to 18% of GDP off the worldwide economy by 2050 if global temperatures rise by 3.2°C, the Swiss Re Institute warns.

Forecast based on temperature increases staying on the current trajectory and the Paris Agreement and net-zero emissions targets not being met.

Figure could rise to 18% of GDP by mid-century if temperatures increase by 3.2°C in the most severe scenario.

Climate change is a systemic risk that must be addressed now, warns Swiss Re.

The global economy could lose 10% of its total economic value by 2050 due to climate change, according to new research.

The report The economics of climate change: no action not an option, published by the Swiss Re Institute, said the forecast was based on temperature increases staying on the current trajectory and Paris Agreement and net-zero emission targets not being met.

Decarbonizing defense: Imperative and opportunity

Harry Bowcott

Climate change is high on the global agenda. In the run-up to the 26th United Nations Climate Change (COP26) conference in Glasgow, governments and companies worldwide are announcing ambitious new decarbonization targets to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. While climate change as a national security matter is well understood, there is little consensus about how to align defense forces to address it.

For defense forces, climate change brings wide-ranging risks, from undermining military assets to destabilizing societies to triggering conflict over resources. Defense forces, which typically account for at least 50 percent of governments’ carbon emissions, could help prevent these risks by taking dramatic action to decarbonize and reduce emissions.

Defense departments will encounter challenges when attempting to reduce the emissions for which they are directly responsible because of the primacy of having mission-critical capability (that is, the ability to achieve a desired effect in a specific operating environment), long equipment life cycles (which means fossil-fuel-powered equipment in use now, or coming into service shortly, will still be fielded in 2050), and an increased focus on niches with high emission intensity, such as space launch. In consequence, a complete elimination of all defense emissions is unlikely by 2050. A net-zero defense force will therefore need to find ways to compensate for these remaining emissions, such as by pursuing offsets in countries with high climate-change risk or by pushing for decarbonization beyond their own emissions.

Here Are The Jobs That Will Disappear In The Next 10 Years

Jared A. Brock

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. — Bill Gates

We’re at the start of an extremely bumpy road, my friends. As automation, AI, quantum computing, blockchain, and unaccountable multinational corporations invade the workforce and take over the global economy, we’re looking at a joblessness crisis on a scale never seen before in human history.

We don’t know the exact figures, but estimates suggest that automation could disrupt between 800 million and 2 billion jobs in the next ten years alone.

This will create a huge amount of economic and political upheaval — and how we deal with the joblessness crisis will go down in history as an inspiration to future generations or a disastrous cautionary tale.

All Change: Donbas Republics Get New Russian Business Boss

Konstantin Skorkin

The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics are moving on from the wild days of economic piracy to more orderly exploitation schemes. The prospects of reintegrating the region under the Minsk accords are growing more illusory.

Diplomacy in Ukraine’s war-torn Donbas may be at a standstill, but momentous changes are taking place in the region’s economy. Key enterprises in the Donetsk and Luhansk self-proclaimed republics had for the last four years been under the de facto control of Sergei Kurchenko, once an oligarch from the inner circle of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Now he has been forced to cede that role to a Russian businessman with no prior ties to the Donbas. The Kremlin understands that the breakaway regions are set to remain on its balance sheet for a long time, so it is looking for the most efficient ways to manage the region, ousting odious figures engendered by the 2014 Ukraine crisis.

When the Donetsk and Luhansk regions declared their independence from Ukraine, a number of assets belonging to Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov were left on their territory. For a time, they continued to operate as usual, despite the hostilities, remaining a source of jobs for local residents and taxes for the Ukrainian budget. Back then, the preservation of economic ties between Ukraine and its breakaway provinces was seen as an important component of their subsequent reintegration under the Minsk accords.

How the EU Can Engage Russian Civil Society


Russia’s opposition and civil society are under immense pressure and danger as the regime becomes increasingly authoritarian. Any kind of civic activity may now be qualified as “anti-state” or “criminal.”

A viable EU strategy is desperately needed. The issue of human rights in Russia is directly linked to the stability and security of the union itself.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime is not exposed to the challenges faced by the discredited Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, such a strategy needs to be twofold and long-term.

Firstly, it has to secure the survival of Russian civil society and prevent mass repression. Secondly, it has to try and gradually weaken the foundations of Russian authoritarianism and exploit its vulnerabilities.

Comprehensive measures should be addressed both to the Russian public and the ruling elite. The attitudes of the latter will be crucial for future political developments.

A New Great Game?

Nadège Rolland


Absent from the abundant available scholarship dedicated to China’s growing role and presence on the African continent is a study of whether and how Africa fits into Beijing’s grand strategy, as seen by Chinese strategic thinkers. This report fills this gap. Serious strategic discussions about Africa only began in China after the Chinese leadership adopted a global outlook. Beyond economic engagement and development assistance, Chinese strategists evidently envisage the continent as an essential piece in an escalating geostrategic contest for global influence between China and the U.S.-led West. Beijing’s emerging strategy aims at making the continent fit into a new subsystem comprising much of the “global South” that China aspires to dominate. China’s “new great game” seeks to outflank the U.S. by mobilizing African endorsement of China’s distinctive institutions and governing ideology. To that end, China aims to persuade African countries to adopt aspects of its political and economic system. Contrary to Beijing’s protestations, and despite the skepticism of many Western observers, China is in fact preparing to export its model to Africa and perhaps to other parts of the developing world as well.

A New Kind of Ransomware Tsunami Hits Hundreds of Companies

IT WAS PROBABLY inevitable that the two dominant cybersecurity threats of the day— supply chain attacks and ransomware—would combine to wreak havoc. That’s precisely what happened Friday afternoon, as the notorious REvil criminal group successfully encrypted the files of hundreds of businesses in one swoop, apparently thanks to compromised IT management software. And that’s only the very beginning.

The situation is still developing and certain details—most important, how the attackers infiltrated the software in the first place—remain unknown. But the impact has already been severe and will only get worse given the nature of the targets. The software in question, Kaseya VSA, is popular among so-called managed service providers, which provide IT infrastructure for companies that would rather outsource that sort of thing than run it themselves. Which means that if you successfully hack an MSP, you suddenly have access to its customers. It’s the difference between cracking safe-deposit boxes one at a time and stealing the bank manager’s skeleton key.

So far, according to security company Huntress, REvil has hacked eight MSPs. The three that Huntress works with directly account for 200 businesses that found their data encrypted Friday. It doesn’t take much extrapolation to see how much worse it gets from there, especially given Kaseya’s ubiquity.

US-UK Warn Of New Worldwide Russian Cyberespionage


WASHINGTON: The US and UK governments today revealed a cyberespionage campaign conducted by Russia that is targeting “hundreds of organizations” worldwide, with a focus on US and European governments, militaries, and defense contractors. The advisory names the Department of Defense as a known target.

“These efforts are almost certainly still going on,” warns the joint adversary issued by the NSA, CISA, and the FBI in the US, as well as the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.

The advisory attributes the campaign to the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) 85th Main Special Service Center (GTsSS), military unit 26165. GRU is distinct from the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), which the US government said was behind the SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign.


Dr. Mark T. Esper

Advances in artificial intelligence will change the character of warfare for generations to come, affording decisive and enduring advantages to whoever harnesses it first. Recently, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence’s Final Report released on March 1, 2021 emphasized the importance of AI to our nation’s security when it set an aggressive target for America’s armed forces: become “AI-ready by 2025” or risk ceding our overmatch—a target I believe is crucial to meet. As Congress considers the president’s budget request, it should keep this goal in mind.

In today’s era of great power competition, the United States must win this future against China and Russia. Doing so requires a 3–5 percent real increase in annual defense spending, coupled with the retirement of legacy systems and other reforms that will enable efficient investment into the digital workforce, systems, and infrastructure needed to ensure our AI readiness.

As secretary of defense, I felt so strongly about AI’s importance that we sped up the fielding of AI capabilities at scale to meet warfighter needs through the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. We also published DoD’s first-ever set of AI ethical principles to ensure the United States is the global leader in the responsible development and use of AI.

Competition and Conflict: Implications for Maneuver Brigades

Paul D. Erickson

Executive Summary
This report contributes to ongoing efforts that examine the role of the US Army’s maneuver brigade combat teams in today’s operating environment. It seeks to reconcile current training, reform, and modernization efforts with the likeliest competencies for contemporary interstate conflict. The findings of this report suggest that the United States has overemphasized preparing for large-scale operations at the cost of being better prepared for other, likelier conflict scenarios.

Most current research addresses these issues at the policy or strategic level. This report, however, identifies asymmetries between the United States, China, and Russia that should drive innovation at lower echelons within the US Army’s maneuver organizations. In part 1 a literature review examines the concepts of competition and conflict, revisiting a number of trends that many contemporary strategic planners deemphasize. These include the frequency of low-intensity conflict, hybrid tactics, proliferation of lethal weapon systems to non–state actors (NSAs), and the use of underground and urban terrain to negate the technological capabilities of state actors. These trends suggest a lens through which to analyze future engagements with Chinese and Russian forces.

Why Chinese ‘Hunter-Killer’ Tanks Present Big Challenge To QUAD Allies India & The US

Apoorva Jain

China, which perceives India and the US as direct competitors in the regional and global order, is increasingly upgrading its military arsenal with newer and advanced technologies.

China’s ZTZ-99A is an advanced hunter-killer tank that may pose a threat to its adversaries.

The ZTZ-99A, also known as Type 99A, is one of China’s latest main battle tanks (MBT), with better firepower capabilities and anti-tank missiles.

Meanwhile, India and the US operate the third-generation Russian-made T-90 and M1 Abrams, among others as their main battle tanks, respectively.
China’s ZTZ-99A

China’s indigenous battle tank program dates back to the 1980s and the ZTZ-99 is China’s third-generation main battle tank that was commissioned into the service in 2001.

One of the most advanced battle tanks, Type 99 is a product of the military modernization of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).