5 December 2021


Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Microsoft released its second annual Digital Defense Report, covering July 2020 to June 2021. This year s 134 pages report is quite detailed, with sections on cybercrime, nationstate threats, supply-chain attacks and Internet of Things attacks. The report includes security suggestions for organizations with remote workforces. It has a section describing the use of social media to spread disinformation. The report is a compilation of integrated data and actionable insights from across 

India in Space Domain - Pathbreaking Developments

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


India is now a major spacefaring nation. Initially, the Indian space programme was focused primarily on societal and developmental utilities. Today, like many other countries, India is compelled to use space for several military requirements like intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Hence, India is looking to space to gain operational and informational advantages.

India has had its fair share of achievements in the space domain. It includes the launch of the country’s heaviest satellite, the GSAT-11 which will boost India’s broadband services by enabling 16 Gbps data links across the country, GSAT-7A, the military communication satellite and the launch of the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk III-D2, the GSAT 29. The Anti-Satellite (ASAT) test is an intrinsic part of today’s geopolitics and the national security context.



The abrupt change in government in Kabul has sent shockwaves through Afghanistan’s neighbourhood. While the United States had long telegraphed its intention to leave, it was not always taken seriously, as previous statements seemed to only lead to a reduced American presence rather than departure.1 The net result was a high level of complacency in many quarters to prepare for the consequences of an American departure. Admittedly, few anticipated such a rapid collapse of the Ghani government and most assumptions were based on the government holding on for some time afterward. Most regional powers had developed relations with different factions within the government and were planning for these to be their key conduits for influence post-American withdrawal. The complete collapse of this group left a sudden vacuum in planning. These reverberations were first and foremost felt in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood where regional powers have struggled subsequently to craft effective policies to manage the fallout from the Taliban takeover of the country. Even western countries have struggled to respond, with the U.S. going so far as to send CIA chief Bill Burns to Kabul to start to forge a relationship with the Taliban.2 This move may have been a pragmatic response to the situation, but it reflected an extraordinary turn of events given the CIA’s role in Operation Jawbreaker that went in straight after September 11 to work with the Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban government.3 It did, however, reflect the extraordinary shift in the regional geopolitical picture that will result from the Taliban takeover.

Pakistan’s Surging Religious Extremism

Umair Jamal

Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said last month that the Pakistani state and government are not ready to tackle the rising extremism in the country.

“Many people think that the remedial steps taken by us [the government] are inadequate while the truth is that neither the government nor the state is completely ready to fight extremism,” Fawad said, while addressing a seminar organized by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies in Islamabad.

Fawad’s admission that growing extremism in the country poses a serious challenge to Pakistan’s stability comes after a series of recent setbacks that forced the state into making deals with right-wing Islamist groups of different sects.

Last month, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a Barelvi religious group, forced the government into allowing it to operate as a political party even as the TLP’s workers had killed several law enforcement officials in clashes. In recent years, the group has openly challenged Pakistan’s foreign policy decisions and shown intent to take on the state without any hesitation.

Bangladesh’s Nuclear Power Plant: Economic Blackhole or Energy Backbone?

Hussain Shazzad

Bangladesh aspires to join the prestigious “nuclear club” of 31 nations by embarking on the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (R-NPP) – the most ambitious project ever undertaken in the country’s development history. Originally conceived in 1961, even before the birth of Bangladesh, this maiden nuclear plant is now at the final stage to kick-off. Although the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed deep satisfaction with the safety measures adopted by Bangladesh, critics oppose this nuclear move, raising concerns over energy costs, environmental issues, management and safety issues. Some people dubbed this project a “white elephant” and “premature” while others termed it as a “grand fantasy.”

How Safe Is R-NPP?

Despite having the potential to become a major player in the future energy mix, nuclear energy has a negative image because of its association with nuclear weapons, Cold War propaganda, radioactive waste, and two high-profile nuclear accidents, Chernobyl and Fukushima.

It’s worth looking at those previous accidents in more detail. The Chernobyl accident occurred because of an unusual experiment by some engineers who were neither familiar with its safety system nor had enough knowledge on reactor physics and engineering. The R-NPP will solely be a power generation facility, and no experiment of any kind will be allowed. Meanwhile, the Fukushima accident was triggered by a tsunami. Rooppur is less vulnerable to such massive natural disasters. Besides, the nuclear industry is now banking on next-generation technologies – e.g., Small Modular Reactors – that make nuclear power plants safer than before. Today’s regulatory requirements mean that plants should be built in a way that even if there is any accident it must be limited to the plant.

China Seeks to Exploit Interpol Leadership Role to Hunt Dissidents

Zane Zovak

Interpol’s General Assembly voted last week to elect a senior Chinese public security official, Hu Binchen, to serve on the international police organization’s 13-member Executive Committee. The election results have prompted strong condemnation from human rights activists and legislators around the world who fear that Hu’s election will enable Beijing to leverage Interpol’s resources to target Chinese political dissidents.

Interpol’s Executive Committee is responsible for overseeing the organization’s General Secretariat, which runs Interpol’s day-to-day operations, including the Red Notice system. A Red Notice is an international wanted-person notice submitted by individual countries or international courts. A specialized task force within the General Secretariat then reviews and votes on each submission. While the system is designed to prevent alleged criminals from evading justice, rogue regimes have previously exploited it to pursue political dissidents.

Hu’s victory makes him the second Chinese official to hold a leadership role in Interpol. Meng Hongwei, a Chinese official who became president of Interpol in 2016, faced criticism for abusing Red Notices before he vanished in 2018 during a trip to China. Meng reemerged in prison the following week, with Interpol receiving his resignation as Beijing announced he was under investigation for bribery, although the charges appeared spurious.

What Else Haven’t We Been Told about China’s Hypersonic and Nuclear Capabilities?

Mark B. Schneider

In October 2021, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Hyten stated that the U.S. has conducted nine hypersonic missile tests in the last five years, whereas the Chinese have conducted "hundreds.” This implies a Chinese programmatic level of effort vastly in excess of what is publicly available in open sources, including the Pentagon’s annual China military power report. Indeed, the 2021 version of the Pentagon report only states, “During 2020, the PRC fielded its first missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle [the DF-17] and advanced its scramjet engine development, which has applications in hypersonic cruise missiles.” In light of General Hyten’s revelation, the annual Pentagon report on Chinese military power is misleading because the scope of the Chinese testing programs suggests that China must be developing many advanced hypersonic systems. If nine U.S. tests support the development of several systems, how many systems are being supported by hundreds of Chinese tests? There is no reference to the Chinese orbital hypersonic missile in the report, but this is understandable in light of the late reported date of the tests (August 2021). Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley has said this system is almost a “Sputnik moment” and that it is nuclear. If a Financial Times report is true, one thing we have not been officially told is that "CHINA'S round-the-world hypersonic nuclear weapon fired a second missile while traveling five times faster than the speed of sound, reports claim.” This suggests a multiple-warhead capability.

Pentagon Sees Faster Chinese Nuclear Expansion

Shannon Bugos

China is accelerating its development of strategic nuclear warheads in an effort to amass 700 by 2027 and 1,000 by 2030, more than doubling last year’s estimate, according to the U.S. Defense Department’s 2021 China military power report.

China's DF-41 nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, shown here during a military parade in Beijing in 2019, are a component of the country's nuclear buildup. (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)Viewed alongside recent revelations about the construction of at least 250 new missile silos in northwestern China, the annual report highlights a concerning nuclear buildup. Last year, the Pentagon estimated that Beijing had a total nuclear warhead stockpile in the low 200s and projected it would at least double over the next decade. (See ACT, October 2020.)

China is “investing in, and expanding, the number of its land-, sea-, and air-based nuclear delivery platforms and constructing the infrastructure necessary to support this major expansion of its nuclear forces,” according to the report, which covers developments through 2020.

“Our number-one pacing challenge is the People’s Republic of China,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby on Nov. 5.

Who’s to Blame for Asia’s Arms Race?

Thomas Shugart; Van Jackson

China’s military buildup is undeniable. It has built hundreds of long-range and precise ballistic missiles, launching them for years at mockups of U.S. ships and bases in Asia. It has constructed the world’s largest navy in terms of the number of ships, vastly exceeding the U.S. Navy’s rate of warship production in recent years. As Beijing has grown stronger, it has also become increasingly belligerent: it bullies neighbors that have had the temerity to use their own natural resources, and its state-controlled media routinely threaten Taiwan with invasion.

But in “America Is Turning Asia Into a Powder Keg” (October 22), Van Jackson argues that an “overly militarized” U.S. approach is to blame for increasing the risk of war and worsening negative regional trends. Although Jackson concedes that Washington is not “the cause of these troubling trends,” and “should not be blamed for the actions of China and North Korea,” his article leaves the opposite impression. Furthermore, he makes his case by presenting facts that are at times misleading, mischaracterized, or inaccurate. He portrays as recklessness what is in fact a rational U.S. and allied response to a dramatic expansion of China’s offensive military capabilities.

Erdogan’s Obsession With Low Interest Rates Could Be His Downfall

Frida Ghitis 

It’s never a good sign for a country’s leader when fluctuations in the value of the national currency become a dominant concern for everyday people. That is the case today in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is taking a huge gamble with his monetary policy, setting a controversial interest rate policy that runs contrary to firmly established economic theory and has caused the local currency, the lira, to nosedive. Slashing the value of savings, spooking investors and further fueling inflation, the policy is already causing significant hardships for the Turkish people, who polls show have lost faith in the government’s competence after several years of economic turmoil. The country may now be approaching a potential turning point in its politics, which have been dominated by Erdogan for nearly two decades.

Erdogan’s bet is that lower interest rates will act as rocket fuel for the economy, igniting growth to a level that would not only increase economic activity, but also bolster his own sagging political fortunes. Yet most economists say he’s playing with fire, risking a catastrophic overheating. The Turkish people, meanwhile, seem to have had enough of soaring inflation, of the sinking value of their savings—and of the president.

How Would The US Military Fight A War In Space?

Robert Farley

We have a Space Force, but we’re still not sure how to fight space war.

It’s 2021, and no one has ever fought a space war. Various countries (most recently Russia) have conducted technical tests of their ability to destroy objects in space. Several countries (including most notably the United States) have successfully integrated space assets into their warfighting, but this effort has been one-sided; no country has tried to deny another access to space. And yet, the United States has created a Space Force designed, at least in part, to ensure the endurance of US space dominance.

We do not have a firm body of theory about space warfare. There certainly is excellent work from serious analysts, but the lack of any good evidence about what space warfare might look like hampers our ability to develop theories like those that helped give birth to the US Air Force in 1947. The 19th and early 20th centuries seem to have been the golden age of military theorization, with Corbett and Mahan on the naval side, Clausewitz and Jomini on the land, and finally Douhet and the Air Corps Tactical School for air. Space does not yet have its Jomini or its Mahan or its Douhet.

To be sure, you can have a service without a theory of employment. The Army and the Navy were not particularly well-theorized when they were established, and the Marine Corps remains confusing from a theoretical point of view (as well as from many other points of view). But the United States Air Force definitely was very well-theorized from the start, building upon decades of complex discussion and analysis and the experience of many wars. Whether or not the US Air Force was a good idea, those who founded it knew what they wanted and knew how they wanted to get it.

Biden Should Endorse No Use And Reject No First Use In The Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review

Michael Krepon

The Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review, to be released early next year, has led to a pitched battle between arms controllers and deterrence strategists. The fight is over what President Joe Biden should say about when he would consider using nuclear weapons first in the event deterrence fails. U.S. declaratory policy hasn’t ruled out first use, mostly in deference to allies that seek shelter under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Arms controllers seek restrictive language narrowing the likelihood of first use. They had an ally in Vice President Biden, who just before the end of the Obama administration, volunteered that, “deterring—and if necessary, retaliating against—a nuclear attack should be the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”

Biden wouldn’t be the first president to adopt restrictive language regarding nuclear use. In 1990, when the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact were collapsing, the George H.W. Bush administration convinced NATO allies, including an unhappy Margaret Thatcher, to accept a “weapons of last resort” formulation. When geopolitics trend positively, restrictive changes in U.S. declaratory policy can be timely and helpful.

Two Cheers for the Pentagon’s New Data and AI Initiative


The Department of Defense is considering organizational changes designed to create a more integrated approach to data and artificial intelligence, including the creation of a Chief Data and Artificial Intelligence Officer. If the reorganization occurs, the CDAO will oversee several pre-existing offices, including the office of the Chief Data Officer, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, and the Defense Digital Service. Consolidated oversight through creating an empowered CDAO could help ensure DoD has the tools it needs to excel and ensure U.S. defense innovation leadership moving forward.

Technology leadership requires data and AI leadership, and right now DoD’s data and AI efforts are splintered. For example, according to Govini, a decision science company based in Virginia, at least 15 separate institutions within DoD invest to some extent in artificial intelligence, AI adjacent technologies, foundational enabling capabilities for AI, or programs that use AI during development. Each with its own separate processes, data, code, and programs. There is not enough structured coordination between them or oversight through a central “AI hub.” This undermines the ability of the United States to lead in emerging technologies and defend DoD’s networks.

As Congress dithers, private organizations step up to bridge digital divide


Even as lawmakers in Washington advance both of President Biden’s signature proposals to strengthen and expand America’s social safety net, it is doing conspicuously little to address one of the more pressing issues facing low-income communities of color across the country: a lack of access to affordable and reliable broadband internet.

Families living in communities with limited internet access can’t take classes or submit schoolwork from home. They can’t schedule telemedicine visits with their doctors, or access digital health portals or look up nutrition information. They can’t work online, bank online, apply for jobs online, reskill or start a company online.

The dearth of access to reliable broadband has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. The $65 billion allocated under the bipartisan infrastructure plan is not just a small portion, for example, of the infrastructure bill’s overall $1.2 trillion price tag but also does little to solve the cycle of digital poverty.

With Congress failing to take meaningful action on one of the most serious threats facing underserved communities across the nation, a diverse collection of private organizations — from Robert F. Smith’s Vista Equity Partners to the National Urban League — are stepping to the plate with bold ideas about how to expand broadband access. Congress should take note of what needs to be done.

Remote warfare and the legitimacy of military capabilities

Jack McDonald

Military power relies upon military capabilities, generated by organisations, infrastructure, and defence establishments. This paper highlights the importance of remote warfare to research on the transformation of military power in the contemporary world. It draws attention to the relationship between military capabilities that enable states to intervene in physically distant conflicts and their political legitimacy. It argues that remote warfare is best understood as a family resemblance of legitimacy problems associated with military capabilities, rather than a category of warfare, set of tactics, or strategy. It then identifies a framework for understanding the varied types of legitimacy problems associated with remote warfare: remote warfare consists of a set of problems that examine how military capabilities affect the ability of states to act without violating international norms, governments to act without violating domestic constraints, the ability of governments to control their exposure to interventions at distance, and their ability to avoid responsibility for the consequences. The importance of this approach is highlighted by the way that it helps to explain the importance of controversies over military infrastructure used to support interventions and therefore highlights the importance of work on remote warfare for the wider study of military transformation and military power.


Remote warfare is a concept that scholars and analysts use to make sense of contemporary military power (Adelman and Kieran 2018) and the “new newness” of contemporary methods of military intervention (Demmers and Gould 2018, 365). Research on remote warfare offers a variety of critical engagements with the legitimacy of military power in the contemporary world. It seeks to explain both the novelty of, and perceived issues of legitimacy associated with, contemporary forms of military intervention. What types and methods of intervention count as legitimate is inherently flexible, since legitimacy is a socially ascribed quality, relating to either an “actor’s identity, interests, or practices, or to an institution’s norms, rules, and principles” (Reus-Smit 2007, 44). Remote warfare examines the way in which states and governments seek to define a range of means and types of military intervention as legitimate in both international and domestic politics. As Shane Mulligan notes, legitimacy plays a dual role in international relations: “it serves to solidify a notion of ‘right’ in international rule, while at the same time standing as the test in each particular case” (Mulligan 2006, 375). Since political actors seek legitimacy, they engage in practices of legitimation and “legitimation is a normative process, it is characterized by actors seeking to justify their identities, interests, practices, or institutional designs” (Reus-Smit 2007, 44).

‘We’re talking about a war’: tech competition between the U.S. and China is in a dangerous new phase, says former Google disinformation chief


It’s become apparent in recent years that the U.S. and China now find themselves in a tech-fueled arms race—one with repercussions involving everything from cyber warfare to intellectual-property theft. It is a conflict that author Jacob Helberg describes as a “gray war” in his new book, The Wires of War: Technology and the Global Struggle for Power—and as intimidating as that descriptor may be, Helberg insists that “war” is the right way to phrase it.

“I understand that war is a scary concept, but calling it a competition is a disservice,” Helberg said Tuesday at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech 2021 conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif. “At the end of the day, if Japan and Germany sell more cars than [U.S. automakers], it’s not the end of the world. Here, the political survival of democracy and equal competition is on the line. We’re not playing tennis; we’re talking about a war, because China is using every tool at its disposal.”


Ian Bond

For the second time this year, Russian forces are massing near Ukraine’s north-eastern and southern borders, flanking the areas of the Donbas region that they or their local proxies have controlled since invading Ukraine in 2014. In April, more than 100,000 Russian troops were deployed in regions near Ukraine, ostensibly for exercises. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence claims there are now as many as 90,000 in the area again. The Kremlin has been conducting an information campaign against Ukraine for several months, questioning its sovereignty. Russia may be preparing to invade, or merely intending to intimidate. As NATO foreign ministers meet in Riga on November 30th and December 1st, they should consider how to deter Moscow, reassure Kyiv and minimise instability in Eastern Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made no secret of his views on Ukraine. In 2008, when the Bucharest NATO summit meeting promised Ukraine and Georgia membership, Putin told US President George W Bush: “You understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a state!”. In 2013, questioned by Charles Grant about his attitude to Ukraine, Putin said: “We have common traditions, a common mentality, a common history and a common culture.… I want to repeat again, we are one people... [Ukraine] is part of our greater Russian, or Russian-Ukrainian, world”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made no secret of his views on Ukraine.Tweet this

The Ukrainian army has got better at fighting Russian-backed separatists

What to make of the military analysts who calmly list the reasons why the most serious war in Europe since 1945 might begin in January? The flat, muddy terrain of south-eastern Ukraine will be frozen solid by then, allowing Russian tanks to roll in. It is in the middle of the deployment cycle for the conscripts who make up much of Russia’s ground forces. And Russia may find itself with a pretext for invasion, since the new year has in the past brought front-line flare-ups in Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed separatists. Besides, the 100,000 Russian troops massed near the border are more than mere theatre; Russia is setting up field hospitals and calling up its reserves.

Dima is unimpressed. A colonel in the Ukrainian army, he has watched the rapid transformation of his country’s armed forces from a bad joke to something approaching a modern army. And he thinks Russia has been watching, too. “They are afraid of us, because since 2014 we have shown what we can do,” says Dima, who prefers not to use his real name. “It would be a third world war, at a minimum,” he says, perhaps with a touch of hyperbole. In the corner of a café in Kyiv, fidgeting with cigarettes and coffee, he remembers how far Ukraine has travelled.

The Future of Germany’s Foreign Policy after Merkel

In the Winter 2022 issue of Orbis, we are pleased to feature a conversation with Dr. Nils Schmid, foreign policy spokesman for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and member of the Bundestag, representing the constituency of Nürtingen in Baden-Württemberg. With the announcement of the new coalition German coalition government between the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Free Democrats, we would like to offer a few excerpts of that larger conversation.

Asked about the question of continuity in Germany’s foreign relations, Dr. Schmid noted: “Broadly speaking, you should expect continuity rather than deep changes. I think that Angela Merkel embodied the broad European, trans-Atlantic orientation of German foreign policy that is more or less shared across the political spectrum. Probably the most important change will take place in our relationship with China. . . . I would expect the most visible change, that has already begun to some extent on the EU level, but also in German foreign policy circles, with regard and our relationship with the Indo-Pacific region as a whole.”

This shift in the German perspective on China is driven by the assessment that “China’s rise poses a broad and unparalleled challenge to Europe, to democratic systems of government throughout the world, because, contrary to the Soviet bloc, it is not only challenging the world order in terms of military and diplomacy, but it is also has been successful in building a strong economy, modernizing its economy and in developing new technologies. . . . [W]e have to take into account the different dimensions of the China challenge—and this is why I still prefer the term challenge. It is also pertinent because it is also not only about China but about us—the capacity of democracies and socially oriented market economies to generate growth and equality, equal opportunities and social cohesion.”

How To Ensure Russia Can’t Beat NATO In A War: Forward Deploy The US Army

Daniel Goure

Wars are about seizing and holding territory. This is true even for insurgencies such as the ones in Afghanistan and Vietnam. The greatest geostrategic crises of the past decade involved efforts by Russia and China to expand their control over nearby territories and seas. One example is how Russia seized Crimea and occupied parts of Eastern Ukraine in 2014 and is once again massing forces along the Ukrainian border.

Moscow has also forged a military alliance with Belarus that creates a threat to the Suwalki Corridor, the only land route between the Baltic States and the rest of the NATO alliance. This makes an attack by Russia on one of its eastern neighbors the likeliest case of a war involving the United States. The best deterrent of such a threat is the presence of strong U.S. conventional forces along NATO’s eastern border. If Russia sees the prospect of territorial aggression to its west as a risky proposition, such aggression is less likely from Moscow.

For the duration of the Cold War, the presence of two heavy U.S. corps in Germany, plus additional British, Canadian, and French units, made it clear to the Soviet Union that even with its quantitatively superior conventional ground forces in Europe, any attack on NATO would come at a heavy price. Forward deployed forces would practice moving to their wartime positions in a matter of hours. These forces essentially denied Russia the chance to defeat NATO quickly.

How much can we trust AI? How to build confidence before a large-scale deployment

Mary Shacklett

"The issue of mistrust in AI systems was a major theme at IBM's annual customer and developer conference this year," said Ron Poznansky, who works in IBM design productivity. "To put it bluntly, most people don't trust AI—at least, not enough to put it into production. A 2018 study conducted by The Economist found that 94% of business executives believe that adopting AI is important to solving strategic challenges; however, the MIT Sloan Management Review found in 2018 that only 18% of organizations are true AI 'pioneers,' having extensively adopted AI into their offerings and processes. This gap illustrates a very real usability problem that we have in the AI community: People want our technology, but it isn't working for them in its current state."

Poznansky feels that lack of trust is a major issue.

"There are some very good reasons why people don't trust AI tools just yet," he said. "For starters, there's the hot-button issue of bias. Recent high-profile incidents have justifiably garnered significant media attention, helping to give the concept of machine learning bias a household name. Organizations are justifiably hesitant to implement systems that might end up producing racist, sexist or otherwise biased outputs down the line."

China’s Arctic Ambitions Could Make or Break US-Russian Relations in the Region

Ingrid Burke Friedman

While U.S.-Russian relations continue to deteriorate in many spheres, the Arctic provides an arena for possible cooperation. In particular, Russian wariness of China’s Arctic ambitions could provide novel opportunities for warming ties between Moscow and Washington.

Washington on edge as relationship between Russia and China continues to strengthen

Moscow-Beijing ties are flourishing. Evidence of this abounds in areas ranging from military and aerospace cooperation to booming bilateral trade. In March of this year, the two powers agreed to join forces to build a research station on the Moon. In August, some 10,000 troops participated in Zapad/Interaction 2021—a series of joint strategic military exercises, which, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, aimed to demonstrate the "determination and ability of the two countries to fight terrorism and jointly protect peace and stability in the region." And in October, the Russian and Chinese navies conducted the latest in a series of joint maritime exercises in the Sea of Japan. Meanwhile, bilateral trade reached upwards of $40 billion in the first quarter of 2021—a 20% increase compared to the same period of 2020. And a representative of China's Commerce Ministry has announced plans to increase trade with Russia to some $200 billion, effectively doubling 2020's bilateral trade volume.

FBI seized $2.3 million in cryptocurrency from REvil ransomware affiliate

Tonya Riley

The FBI in August seized approximately $2.3 million worth of cryptocurrency from a hacker affiliated with the REvil ransomware gang, according to a court filing unsealed Tuesday.

The money seized was derived from payments to ransomware attacks involving REvil malware between April 2019 and June 2021 in the U.S. and elsewhere. REvil affiliates generated some $200 million during that time from in ransom payments, according to the FBI. The attacks were allegedly carried out by Aleksandr Sikerin, who is charged with multiple counts of conspiracy and money laundering.

Bleeping Computer first reported on the court documents.

It’s unclear if the seizure is related to the U.S. actions in November, in which officials seized $6 million in ransom payments from alleged Russian hacker Yevgeniy Polyanin. Authorities also arrested Yaroslav Vasinksyi, a 22-year-old Ukrainian national, when he was entering Poland. Vasinskyi is accused of involvement in the July REvil attack against Florida-based IT firm Kaseya. Kaseya estimated that the attack breached as many as 1500 of its clients.

“When I met with President Putin in June, I made clear that the United States would take action to hold cybercriminals accountable,” President Joe Biden said in a statement at the time. “That’s what we have done today.”

The FBI did not return multiple requests for comment from CyberScoop. Court documents do not connect Sikerin with any specific ransomware attacks.

REvil was one of the most popular strains of ransomware mentioned in ransomware-related activities in 2021 according to an October report from the Treasury Department. REvil’s extortion website went dark in July though experts suggest that members of the group may now be operating under the mantle BlackMatter. BlackMatter also claimed to be shutting down in early November due to pressure from law enforcement.

Amazon’s strategy to squeeze marketplace sellers and maximize its own profits is evolving

Sara Morrison

Amazon has always presented its Marketplace, where outside businesses sell products through Amazon’s platform, as one of its biggest success stories: mutually beneficial to Amazon, sellers, and customers alike. But a new report says those benefits are increasingly lopsided — in Amazon’s favor.

The report, which comes from the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), asserts that Amazon takes a larger and larger cut of sellers’ earnings through the various fees it levies on them. These fees have become so lucrative for Amazon that they now represent the company’s most profitable segment as well as its fastest-growing revenue stream, according to ILSR. And because sellers are paying Amazon high fees, customers may face inflated prices, even when they shop beyond Amazon’s borders.

“Amazon is the only winner here,” Stacy Mitchell, ILSR co-director and author of the report, told Recode. “It’s exploiting its monopoly power over these small businesses to pocket a huge and growing cut of their revenue.”

Remote warfare – Buzzword or Buzzkill?

Rubrick Biegon, Vladimir Rauta & Tom F. A. Watts

The debates around remote warfare have grown significantly over the last decade, leading to the term acquiring a certain buzz in the media, think-tank, and policy discourse. The lack of any serious attempt to reflect and take stock of this body of scholarship informs the scope of this special issue, in general, and of this article in particular. This paper addresses this former gap and, in doing so, serves a threefold purpose. First, to provide a state-of-the-art review of this emerging debate. Second, to both categorise what properties make a buzzword and to make the case for why existing remote warfare scholarship should be approached in this way. Third, to introduce how the various contributions to this special issue extend the debate’s conceptual, theoretical, and empirical parameters.

Over the last decade, the language with which we have been studying political violence has sent the debate into “terminological and conceptual turmoil” (Rauta et al. 2019, 417). The late Colin Gray argued that academics and officials share a propensity to be “mesmerized by their own conceptual genius” (2007, 37). The (re)invention of concepts, he went on to explain, offered the “illusion of intellectual control” (Gray 2007, 37) that came, of course, at the significant cost of redundancy: the “discover[y] of a host of similar terms, each with its subtly distinctive meaning and probably its unique historical and cultural baggage” (Gray 2007, 37). This becomes clear when assessing the range of terms populating the semantic field of political violence: grey zone warfare (Hoffman 2016; Rauta and Monaghan 2021), hybrid warfare (Hoffman 2009; Lanoszka 2016; Renz 2016; Mälksoo 2018; Rauta 2020b), liquid warfare (Demmers and Gould 2018), post-heroic warfare (Luttwak 1995; Enemark 2013), proxy war(fare) (Rauta 2016, 2018, 2020a, 2021b; Groh 2019; Moghadam and Wyss 2020; Fox 2021), surrogate warfare (Krieg and Rickli 2018; Karagiannis 2021), and vicarious warfare (Waldman 2021). With so many labels, “war has burst out of its old boundaries” (Brooks 2017, 13) to such an extent that we are “conceptually under-equipped to grasp, let alone counter, violent political challenges” (Ucko and Marks 2018, 208; for why this is a problem for research progress and cumulation, see; Rauta 2021a, 2021c). So, naturally, a new concept enters the fray: remote warfare.

Deloitte: Don't rule out Wi-Fi 6 as a next-generation wireless network

Esther Shein

Deloitte Global predicts that more Wi-Fi 6 devices will ship in 2022 than 5G devices—at least 2.5 billion Wi-Fi 6 devices versus roughly 1.5 billion 5G devices. The firm said there is good reason for this: Wi-Fi 6 has just as significant a role to play in the future of wireless connectivity as 5G—not just for consumers, but also for the enterprise.

In addition to popular devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs, Wi-Fi 6 will be embedded in others, including wireless cameras, smart home devices, game consoles, wearables and AR/VR headsets, according to Deloitte.

Not entirely strange bedfellows

Deloitte's 2021 global advanced wireless survey of 437 networking executives from nine countries found that 45% of enterprises are concurrently testing or deploying Wi-Fi 6 and 5G for their advanced wireless initiatives. Nearly all respondents (98%) said they expected their organization would be using both technologies within three years, Deloitte said.

Chinese Amphibious Forces Eye A Great Leap Past The Second Island Chain

Craig Hooper

Few in the U.S. pay much attention to goings-on in the South Pacific, but the regular outbreaks of vicious ethnic violence in the region merit wider notice. Time after time, frustrated native Pacific Islanders choose to lash out at Chinese expatriates, only to see China do little more than express irritation. Last month, after three days of rioting, native Pacific islanders left the Solomon Islands capital of Honoria in shambles, burning and looting many ethnic Chinese-owned businesses.

This time, international response was swift. Police and military personnel from Papua New Guinea, Australia, Fiji and New Zealand rushed in to restore order. While the South Pacific mobilized, China’s Foreign Ministry fumed, with a spokesperson saying that the communist country will “safeguard the safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and institutions.”

But the next time poor, hungry and angry Pacific islanders are incited to target expatriate Chinese, China could do much more than just sputter from the sidelines. The Chinese public is eager to see the state’s modern military employed to protect threatened expatriates, and the islands of Oceania offer ideal testing grounds for China’s vision of modern conflict; fusing psychological, public opinion and legal “warfare” to a favorable tactical—or even strategic—outcomes.

The shape of warfare to come: a Swedish perspective 2020–2045

Alastair Finlan

This research explores the shape of warfare to come over the next twenty-five years from a Swedish perspective. It is evident that change in the practice of warfare is apparent in international relations today due to the use of innovative new technologies. These developments raise profound practical and conceptual questions for armed forces as to what do these new systems mean for the prosecution of warfare and the intellectual ideas/knowledge base that underpin the contemporary application of force. This research offers a tentative exploration of three aspects (artificial intelligence, autonomous platforms and the future battlefield: the soldier level) framed in the context of the traditional environments of air, land and sea to interrogate their meaning for Sweden and future warfare.


The title of this article draws inspiration from the extraordinary book by H.G Wells titled, The Shape of Things to Come published in 1933. Unlike his terrifying vision of the future in which an incurable global pandemic and war halve the world’s population leading to the reconstruction of humanity over a period in excess of 170 years,1 this research has a more modest canvas. It looks ahead just twenty-five years with a focus on the shape of warfare and is a contribution to an emerging discussion in Sweden and in international fora in this area. Whether acknowledged or not, change is evident in the practice of warfare in international relations today due to innovative new technologies that were spectacularly demonstrated in the recent Nagorno-Karabakh War of 2020. The question for scholars and military officers is whether this new change represents, as Williamson Murray and Allan Millet argued a generation ago, a part of the “cyclical periods of innovation beginning in the early fourteenth century and continuing to the present”2 or the start of something new. Simply put, do these technologies possess, in common parlance, “game-changing” potential?

A conceptual critique of remote warfare

Vladimir Rauta

This paper presents a conceptual critique of “remote warfare.” It argues that “remote warfare” is more of a trendy term than a robust concept. In support of this assessment, this paper makes two arguments. First, that there is a lack of clarity in the debate over what “remote warfare” is: namely, the literature is yet to explain what it entails. Second, that because of this lack of definitional specificity, we also lack an account of its analytical value: what intellectual leverage does it hold over existing terms making similar claims? The article discusses these points by expanding on the notion of “semantic field,” which it uses to assess how “remote warfare” contributes and is shaped by the broader conceptual confusion in the study of contemporary war and warfare.

A poor concept is a huge intellectual liability. It undermines theoretical thinking (Rosenau 1980), puzzlement (Zinnes 1980), measurement and operationalisation (Kalyvas 2003, 476), while hindering research cumulation and progress (Stanton 2019). The study of civil wars in recent decades provides ample evidence for this: contentious definitions never settling everyone’s satisfaction (Florea 2012, 80; Armitage 2017, 12); absence of conceptual autonomy, yet ample conceptual competition (Kalyvas 2006, 16); excessive politicisation (Kalyvas 2009); and difficulties in bridging practitioner-academics perspectives (Canestaro 2016, 395). At the same time, it demonstrates the intellectual benefits of taking concepts seriously and thinking about them creatively and productively: from the consolidated study of different types of armed non-state actors such as rebels and militias (Jentzsch et al. 2015), to the closer theoretical integration of warfare in civil war research (Kalyvas 2005; Balcells and Kalyvas 2014), and to the development of robust typologies of wartime social order and institutions (Arjona 2014; Mampilly and Stewart 2021).

The connectivity war

Mark Leonard

Many observers have long assumed that the future of geopolitics will be decided in a sea battle over the Taiwan Strait or some rocky outcrop or atoll in the South China Sea. Yet we could probably learn more by examining the treatment of a few thousand desperate refugees in the 21st century’s geopolitical backwaters.

Start with the English Channel. Once the site of some of the most dramatic confrontations in history—from the Spanish Armada and the Napoleonic Wars to the Normandy Landings—it is no longer a theatre for great-power politics. Instead, the recent deaths of 27 civilians whose inflatable boat capsized after leaving the French coast has turned the channel into a site of humanitarian tragedy.

Rather than working with France to root out the migrant smugglers responsible for the deaths, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson immediately sought to play to a domestic political audience by blaming the French in an open letter published on Twitter. Far from just another juvenile political stunt, Johnson’s dereliction of leadership will most likely have dreadful and far-reaching consequences.