31 May 2022

Is Russia Gaining the Upper Hand in Ukraine’s East?

Mark Episkopos

As Russian forces press their advantage in Ukraine’s east, the Western maximum-pressure campaign against the Kremlin faces its toughest test yet.

Severodonetsk, the last Ukrainian stronghold in the Luhansk region that sits just across the river from nearby Lysychansk, is being pounded by Russian airstrikes and artillery fire. “There are battles on the outskirts of the city. Massive artillery shelling does not stop, day and night,” Severodonetsk mayor Oleksandr Stryuk told the AP. “The city is being systematically destroyed – 90 percent of the buildings in the city are damaged.”

Russian troops have advanced on the city from three directions since early May in an attempt to trap the Ukrainian forces located in the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk salient. Officials belonging to the pro-Russian breakaway Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) told Russian news outlet RIA on Friday that Severodonetsk is now fully encircled. “At the moment, in the city of Severodonetsk, in the city itself [and not on the outskirts], the retreat paths of Ukrainian troops are cut off, because there are three bridges there that they could have used to leave. One bridge was destroyed, the second will not support any equipment because it’s in dire condition, and the [third] Proletarian Bridge is controlled by our forces. Anyone who tries to leave the settlement will be destroyed,” said LPR military spokesman Andrei Marochko. “We cut off all routes through which they could escape, and we control, surveil, absolutely the entire territory… if they want to return to their loved ones, they need to make the right decision,” Marochko added.

Why I Disagree With Henry Kissinger

George Friedman

Henry Kissinger recently spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he made two significant statements. One was that Ukraine must be prepared to cede some territory to Russia in order to reach a peace treaty, and in doing so allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold on to his position, which Kissinger regards as essential. He also said that Taiwan should not be allowed to become a major issue between the U.S. and China, implying that the U.S. was making it an issue, and by my inference that the Chinese seizure of Taiwan should not trigger a U.S. response.

In both cases, Kissinger believes it is in Washington’s interest to accommodate its adversary. He’s arguing that America’s utmost concern should be global stability, which requires accommodating the interests of nations that want to shift the regional balance of power. In other words, the stability of the former Soviet Union, including the political survival of Putin, will stabilize the region and increase global stability. Likewise, ceding Taiwan to China would stabilize the Western Pacific and increase global stability.

Has Ukraine Shown That the Tank’s Days Are Numbered?

Kris Osborn

The Army’s new $9 million deal with Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to build new Javelin anti-tank missiles will surprise no one, given the effectiveness of the weapon against Russian armor and President Joe Biden’s recent trip to a Javelin manufacturing facility.

Much has been discussed regarding the tactical proficiency with which they have been employed by Ukrainian forces in their efforts to repel and destroy invading Russian forces. Not only are the weapons effective against armor, but they can also be used by mobile, dismounted units able to use buildings, terrain, or intersections to attack advancing mechanized forces with hit-and-run ambush attacks.

News networks continue to show a steady stream of video images of burnt, disabled, and destroyed Russian armored vehicles. The success of the Javelins and anti-armor weapons from other allied countries raises some interesting questions.

Can the Pentagon Protect the Strategic Stronghold of Guam?

Kris Osborn

The Pentagon and the U.S. Marine Corps are taking new steps to ensure the island of Guam is effectively protected against incoming ballistic missiles, amphibious assaults, and other kinds of attacks enemies could launch.

During a hearing held by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, senior lawmakers raised concerns about the security of Guam, in part due to an increase in the number of Marines that will be forward stationed there. When asked about this by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger strongly agreed, saying, “We will have to ensure Guam is protected.”

Land-centered opportunities to base, launch and deploy assets for Maritime security missions can pose challenges for operational commanders in the Pacific, given the vast waterways across the region. Of course, the United States can align with key partners such as Japan and Australia, but forward positioned platforms, weapons, and forces in this theater may be at a distance wherein deployment could take longer. Guam, however, is in the middle of the Pacific ocean and offers a high-value opportunity for U.S. and allied forces to conduct surveillance missions, training operations, and allied interoperability exercises. It is not surprising, for example, that the Navy’s Triton drone, a high-tech surveillance platform engineered specifically for maritime warfare and detection missions, has been based in Guam for many years.

Preventing a Directed Energy Weapons Arms Race

Akash Shah

Whenever you hear a military general, particularly one from the global north, say “modernization,” it is understood that they are referring to the development and integration of next-generation weapons. Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) are part of the same modernization scheme as the lasers integrated on U.S Navy destroyers, and research is underway to mount them on U.S. Air Force jets. The work is in its early stages, and it could still take decades before DEWs can completely replace existing instruments of war and turn science fiction into reality. Satellites are particularly vulnerable to a directed pulse of energy, which could potentially leave them inoperable. The multi-dimensional benefits of DEWs make them an interesting domain to explore and, at the same time, dangerous military assets for adversaries to acquire. However, there is another side to DEWs. Directed energy is increasingly being used against human targets, which warrants much more deliberation and consensus than its use against inanimate military hardware does.

Space Force adding new cyber squads, improving satellite control


WASHINGTON: The Space Force’s Delta 6, responsible for protecting US military satellites from cyberattack, is adding four more squadrons — with the aim of providing each service mission area its own cyber group, Delta 6 Commander Col. Roy Rockwell said.

“So, the way we’re organizing is we’ll have a sovereign squadron for each mission area, and a delta is assigned to a mission area,” he told the Space Force Association Thursday. “Each of those deltas, outside of Delta 6 and 7, will have a cyber squadron assigned to protect those mission systems in their mission area.”

The Space Force has nine deltas, stood up in 2020, which essentially are the equivalent of Air Force wings. Delta 1 is responsible for training; all the other deltas have operational missions and fall under Space Operations Command:Delta 2 — space domain awareness
Delta 3 — electronic warfare
Delta 4 — missile warning
Delta 5 — command and control (C2)
Delta 6 — cyber operations
Delta 8 — positioning, navigation and timing (PNT), and communications
Delta 9 — orbital warfare

Delta 6, known as the “Cyber Delta,” currently has three squadrons assigned to cyber defense. The four new squadrons will stand up in the summer, Rockwell said.

“The way we’re approaching cyber is a little different than the other services,” he explained. Whereas the other services set up cyber protection teams (CPTs) that are assigned to time-bound operations in the field, the Space Force is setting up permanent CPTs for each of the mission areas, he explained.

“We’re looking at this from taking what we’re calling mission defense teams that provide passive defense, but then also giving them the abilities to provide response. What that means is they will be a persistent CPT on the mission system that our space operators operate,” he said.

Ukraine at D+92: Artillery, DDoS, and remittances in a hybrid war

This morning's situation report from the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) focuses on Russian operations in the Donbas, and on the equipment being used to reconstitute the Russian army's losses. "Russian ground forces continue their attempt to surround Severodonetsk and Lyschansk, recently capturing several villages north-west of Popasna. Russia is pressuring the Severodonetsk pocket although Ukraine retains control of multiple defended sectors, denying Russia full control of the Donbas. Russia’s Southern Grouping of Forces (SGF) likely remains tasked with occupying southern Ukrainian territory. In recent days, Russia has likely moved 50-year-old T-62 tanks from deep storage into the SGF’s area of responsibility. The T-62s will almost certainly be particularly vulnerable to anti-tank weapons and their presence on the battlefield highlights Russia's shortage of modern, combat-ready equipment."

Civilian casualties continue to run high in Ukraine. UN investigators have confirmed a total of civilian dead in excess of 4000, al Jazeera reports, but believe the actual losses are much higher. The fighting in the Donbas has developed, as foreseen (see Task & Purpose for an account), into an artillery match as Russian forces continue to have difficulties with maneuver and as Ukrainian forces deploy the 155 mm cannons and associated counterbattery radar received from Western armies.

Darktrace CEO Calls For Dedicated 'Tech NATO' To Improve International Cyber Resilience

Source Link

CAMBRIDGE, England, May 27, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Darktrace CEO Poppy Gustafsson spoke on Wednesday night at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on the evolving cyber threat landscape in the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. She was in conversation with Professor Madeline Carr, Senior RUSI Associate Fellow and Professor of Global Politics and Cybersecurity at University College London.

Commenting on the challenge of policing both cyber warfare and international cyber crime, Gustafsson said "There remains a persistent lack of clarity around how we define an act of war in the cyber-sphere." She called for the creation of a dedicated international cyber task force, or 'tech NATO', to deliver international collaboration in agreeing and ratifying a set of cyber-norms and accountability.

A cyberwar is already happening in Ukraine, Microsoft analysts say


Everyone keeps asking when Russia is going to launch the cyberwar. It's been more than three months since Putin invaded Ukraine, but the digital destruction that experts promised seems to be missing - or is it? Software giants like Microsoft might have the answer. NPR's cybersecurity correspondent Jenna McLaughlin went to Seattle to find out.

JENNA MCLAUGHLIN, BYLINE: Tom Burt says there's absolutely a cyberwar going on in Ukraine right now.

TOM BURT: If you are Ukrainian, this has been a relentless, unending cyberwar that has been launched in correspondence with the physical war, in what is clearly the world's first major hybrid war.

MCLAUGHLIN: I spoke to Burt inside Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit, part of a sprawling tech metropolis surrounded by woods and mountains just east of downtown Seattle. On the wall, he had a massive map of Ukraine to show us where the cyberattacks are happening.

Conflict in Ukraine: How long can the Middle East walk a tightrope?

For now, Ukraine is the far from my bed show for most Middle Eastern nations. The question is not if but when Ukraine will arrive on their doorstep.

Two centrifugal forces threaten to push Middle Eastern nations off the tightrope: an increasingly bifurcated world populated by a multitude of civilisationalist leaders in which “you are with us or against us,” and increasingly a need for consistency in the US and Europe’s application of international law and upholding of human and political rights standards.

It wouldn’t take much to throw straddlers off balance.

The Biden administration is considering sending special forces to guard the newly populated US embassy in Kyiv. What happens if Russian forces strike the embassy much like US forces bombed the Chinese mission in Belgrade in 1999?

The Finlandization of Asia


TOKYO – “Finlandization” describes the commitment to strategic neutrality that a small country might make, in order to avoid provoking a much larger and more powerful neighbor. The term is derived from Finland’s longstanding policy of strict military non-alignment with either the Soviet Union or the West – a policy that it maintained vis-à-vis Russia after the end of the Cold War but that its recent application for NATO membership has upended. But even as Finland abandons Finlandization, many Asian countries may well be set to adopt it.Politics

Unlike Finland and its European partners, most Asian countries have refrained from vocal or vociferous condemnations of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Of the 35 countries that abstained from the United Nations General assembly’s March 2 vote on a resolution demanding that Russia end its invasion of Ukraine, 11 were in Asia.

The Female Suicide Bombing at Karachi’s Chinese Confucius Institute and the Paradigm Shift in Baluch Rebels’ Strategy in Pakistan

Kiyya Baloch, Akbar Notezai


Since 2018, the Baluch insurgency in Pakistan has become more lethal, especially for Chinese nationals, and the pattern behind such attacks is clear. In the past, Baluch separatist violence focused on a guerrilla style of warfare and was largely confined to southwestern Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, but now the violence has expanded to Karachi. Although casualties and the number of attacks remain relatively low, the separatist insurgents are receiving more attention now than they have in the 20 years since the fifth rebellion broke out in early 2000. This is because they have started conducting suicide bombings, including now a female suicide bomber. This shift in tactics has helped the group stay in the public eye domestically and internationally.

Since 2018, the Baluch separatist militants have carried out only six fidayee [suicide “martyrdom”] attacks, among which all but one were directed at Chinese targets. Three of these suicide attacks occurred in Karachi, outside of Baluchistan (Twitter/Kiyya Baloch, April 27). The dramatic shift in the operations of the Baluch Liberation Army (BLA)’s suicide wing, known as the Majeed Brigade, surprised many when it dispatched its first-ever female suicide bomber at the Chinese Confucius Institute on April 26, which killed three Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver (Dawn, April 26).

China’s BRI Is Aggravating Ethnic Tensions in the Global South

Gulalai Ismail and Alvin Camba

While Western analysts see the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as the centerpiece of China’s political and economic power projection abroad, China promotes it as a gamechanger for the economic development of the Global South. Departing from both perspectives, we illustrate that China’s institutional approach to largely work with regimes in power, which often comprise the majority ethnic group, unintentionally aggravates ethnic tensions in the host country.

This can be seen in the case of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the BRI connecting China to Gwadar port on the Indian Ocean. Gwadar happens to be located in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan and home to violent insurgencies. There are total 42 projects in CPEC across multiple sectors. Only nine projects have been completed so far, all in the energy sector.

Opinion – A ‘Weakened’ Quad?

Pak K. Lee and Lai-Ha Chan

On May 24th, towards the end of Biden’s first Asia trip as US President, the leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) – Australia, Japan, India and the US – held an in-person summit in Tokyo; their first meeting since the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian war. Two issues are worth our attention. Firstly, after the war in Ukraine, there have been concerns that the Quad will be weakened by India’s ‘neutrality’ towards the war. India is the only Quad state that refuses to publicly condemn Russia over the invasion and impose sanctions. Shashi Tharoor, an Indian former diplomat and currently an opposition member of the Indian Parliament, wrote in Foreign Affairs on April 27th 2022 that: ‘The Quad has been weakened by India’s failure to go along with its other three members on Ukraine and on challenging the emerging geopolitical convergence between China and Russia.’

Secondly, Australia held a federal election on May 21st, three days before the summit meeting. The Australian Labor Party (ALP) returns to power, ending the nine-year rule by the centre-right Liberal-National coalition. The ALP leader, Anthony Albanese, swiftly went to Tokyo for the summit meeting shortly after being sworn in as Prime Minister. Will the new ALP government fully support Australia’s participation in the Quad? This is an especially salient question, given that the last ALP Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, withdrew from the Quad in February 2008, after winning a federal election in November 2007. Will this ALP administration follow suit?

Opinion – A Hidden Victory? The Winter War and Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Andrew Latham and Austin Wu

Over the past few weeks, any number of Western observers have come to the conclusion that Russia has lost its war against Ukraine. Given the poor performance of the Russian military to date, such a conclusion is perhaps understandable. Indeed, it has verged on disastrous. But when viewed through the lens of the Clausewitzian metric of “imposing its will on its enemy”, Russia’s use of force takes on a different hue. Viewed from the perspective not of battlefield successes or failures, but from a purely political point of view, Russia has already ‘won’ its war against Ukraine.

While one always needs to be cautious with historical analogies, perhaps the Soviet Union’s 1940 ‘Winter War’ against Finland can help illustrate the logic of this argument. That war was characterized by heroic military resistance by the Finns and military incompetence by the Soviets, who often failed to achieve victory despite overwhelming military superiority. Despite holding the technological and numerical advantage, the Red Army suffered heavy losses in the face of dogged Finnish defenses. The Winter War has become representative of the inefficiency that bedeviled the Soviet Military until at least 1943, and an example of the USSR’s military incompetence. Yet, when one looks at Soviet war aims, the war was nothing short of an unmitigated success. Finland was forced to take a conciliatory stance in its Russian policy, renounce most of its connections with the West, and was so completely drawn into the Soviet orbit that “Finlandization” became a part of the English vocabulary. In a military sense, the Winter War was an embarrassment. Yet, in a Clausewitzian sense, it was very much a success.

The multiple dangers of Pakistani nuclear power

Roland Jacquard 

A well crafted policy of discrete acquisition of technology from European countries, ostensibly for commercial purposes, was put in place exploiting the access that the famous Pakistani nuclear scientist A Q Khan had with contacts abroad. Pakistan has used dubious channels linked to the Khan network to move several micro- systems of the centrifuge and other nuclear contraptions through different sources based in Europe. In 1982-83, several European press reports indicated that Pakistan was using Middle Eastern intermediaries to acquire bomb parts such as 13-inch ‘steel spheres’ and ‘steel petal shapes’. Companies that were manufacturing products which could fit into the centrifuge and other systems were unaware of the eventual utility of these products as they were innocuously acquired for different purposes.

The Quad’s moment of truth has arrived

Brahma Chellaney, Nikkei Asia

Nearly five years after it was resurrected from a decadelong dormancy, and then integrated as a strategic coalition of the Indo-Pacific’s leading democracies, the Quad is struggling to make a difference in a region whose rising economic and geopolitical heft promises to reshape the international order.

Amid the deepening global fallout from the Ukraine war and the NATO-Russia proxy coflict, this week’s Quad summit in Tokyo showed that the group comprising the U.S., India, Japan and Australia has its work cut out if it is to make a meaningful impact, which will be measured in terms of deliverables, rather than the number of times its leaders get together and make promises.

While the Quad is trying to get its act together, the geostrategic dynamics are changing rapidly in the Indo-Pacific, where the world’s fastest economic growth is incongruously juxtaposed with fast-rising naval capabilities and the most dangerous strategic hot spots.

Top Russian Bank Launches Apparent Attempt to Evade Sanctions

John Hardie

Russian media reported last week that state-owned Sberbank, the country’s largest financial institution, had sold some of its assets to an obscure company established in March. The sale likely reflects an attempt to shield those assets from Western sanctions, which Russia’s Finance Ministry now predicts will cause the country’s economy to shrink by as much as 12 percent this year.

Sberbank reportedly said that “as part of a strategy update,” it had sold streaming platforms Okko, Okko Sport, and Zvuk as well as cloud service provider SberCloud, fintech company Evotor, and biometrics firm STC. Sberbank did not disclose the sale’s terms, saying only that it “was made at a fair market value.”

The new owner of the assets is JSC New Opportunities, a Moscow-based company created on March 24 with 10,000 rubles (around $175) in authorized capital, the legal minimum for a non-public joint stock company in Russia. New Opportunities is owned by a former stock-transfer agency representative named Tatiana Portnykh, an unknown figure who also owns four similar companies created between April and May, all with 10,000 rubles in authorized capital. Interfax reported that Portnykh is New Opportunities’ sole owner, but the company’s file in Russia’s Unified State Register of Legal Entities says that information is restricted pursuant to a Russian law that allows such information to be withheld to combat sanctions.

Steel Graveyard: Russia Has Lost Over 1,000 Tanks In Ukraine

Peter Suciu

Russian Tank Losses Mounting in Ukraine – Ukraine has become the graveyard of Russian tanks, and according to a senior U.S. defense official, it is believed that almost 1,000 main battle tanks (MBTs) have been destroyed or otherwise rendered inoperable. Additional Russian losses in Ukraine reportedly include at least 50 helicopters, three dozen fighter-bomber aircraft, and at least 350 artillery pieces. Russia has also lost more personnel in the three months of the war than the Soviet Union lost during the 10-year-long conflict in Afghanistan.

Those numbers are more conservative than figures from the Ukrainian General Staff, which claimed that its forces had destroyed 187 aircraft, 155 helicopters, 71 air defense systems, 1,688 vehicles, eight ships, a light speedboat, 76 fuel vehicles, and 215 unmanned aerial vehicles – along with 970 Russian tanks, 2,389 armored personnel vehicles, 431 artillery systems, and 151 multiple launch rocket systems.

Whose Marine Corps? Why a Force Design battle is losing sight of the basics

Gen. Charles C. Krulak (retired)

That was how former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work framed the increasingly intense discussion about the future of the Marine Corps at a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies panel discussion in Washington.

Using this narrow and legalistic framing, he argued that the child ― in this case the U.S. Marine Corps ― belonged to the commandant, and that the grandparents, the retired Marines pushing back against planned structural changes, should cease contending for custody of the child.

While cute and somewhat clever, the legal custody fight analogy diverts attention from a much more serious matter, namely both proponents and opponents of Force Design 2030 may be losing sight of bedrock first principles.

Why laser weapons are the future of missile defense


While the legacy of the Reagan administration’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) may have initially put the US ahead in directed energy-based missile defense capabilities, Israel, Russia and China have started to deploy and accelerate the development of similar systems in response to new missile threats and the mixed success at best of traditional missile defense platforms.

There are basic principles of physics that make laser or other directed energy-based missile defense systems superior by potentially orders of magnitude to “shooting down bullets with bullets”, as most prevailing systems aim to do.

Iraqi missile attacks during the 1991 Gulf War, Iran’s expanding missile arsenal and the failure of Israeli airstrikes to destroy Hezbollah’s missile launchers during the 2006 Lebanon War prompted Israel to build a layered missile defense system. Currently, Israel fields the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow systems.

China’s ‘threat’ in the Pacific is being way overblown


The drafts have been described by critics as revealing “the ambitious scope of Beijing’s strategic intent in the Pacific” and its “coherent desire […] to seek to shape the regional order.” There are concerns they will “dramatically expand [China’s] security influence in the Pacific.”

But does this overstate their importance?

Australia should be concerned about China’s increasingly visible presence in the Pacific Islands. A coercive Chinese presence could substantially constrain Australia’s freedom of movement, with both economic and defense implications.

And Pacific states and people have reason to be concerned. The restrictions on journalists during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to the Solomon Islands demonstrate the potential consequences for transparency of dealing closely with China.


Maggie Smith and Nick Starck

Three months ago, as Russia invaded Ukraine, the world watched as Twitter exploded with real-time data, reporting, and analysis of the unfolding conflict. It quickly became clear that the war presented analysts with an unprecedented amount of rich, open-source data on military movements, troop location, shelling damage, weapon types, and more. Ukraine has been quick to capitalize on Russia’s poor data protection and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has become Ukraine’s most potent weapon because of his ability to use data and information and Russia’s inability to protect it.

For the US Army, a key takeaway from the Ukrainian conflict so far should be the extent to which our modern-day habits are trackable, traceable, and predictable. Open-source data presents modern militaries, especially wealthy high-tech ones, with a very uncomfortable truth: militaries are exposed because their troops are connected. Currently, the US legal and regulatory systems do not, and cannot, protect the average citizen—and therefore, the average US service member—from risks associated with the ubiquitous open-source data produced by our surveillance economy. From a national security perspective, the accumulation of open-source data on people—their habits, their likes and dislikes, their exercise routines, and more—and its potential to impact the military’s ability to fulfill its man, train, and equip mandate from Congress is deeply concerning. Also alarming is the amount of information our adversaries can glean about US strategic interests from tracking US military activity on any number of apps, like Flightradar24, which includes US military reconnaissance platforms such as the unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk, the RC-135V Rivet Joint, and others among the aircraft it tracks, and Strava, the fitness tracking app. Ultimately, you can intuit quite a bit about where our forces may be heading, where military planners are focusing their efforts, and where the next conflict is likely to occur if you simply track where Rivet Joints are conducting sorties and service members are working out. And for the Army specifically, the existing and emerging doctrine fails to account for the surveillance economy and its open-source data, leaving a gaping hole in our competitive strategy.

Reviving the JCPOA is the better alternative — but can it be made sustainable?

Robert Einhorn

With almost all issues resolved, negotiations to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have gridlocked over the Iranian demand, resisted by the Biden administration, that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) be removed from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). The issue of IRGC delisting is largely symbolic, with little practical effect on economic pressures facing the organization. But it has outsized political importance in Tehran and Washington, and leaders in both capitals have been unwilling to risk the potential fallout from abandoning their positions. Although European negotiators are reportedly renewing their efforts to find a way to end the impasse, prospects for doing so are uncertain at best, and Biden administration officials have grown increasingly pessimistic that agreement will be reached to return to the JCPOA.

But before pulling the plug on the negotiations, the administration should take a dispassionate look at the implications of not having any nuclear deal in place and compare that outcome to the alternative of reviving the JCPOA. In such a comparison, a restored JCPOA, despite its shortcomings, is the better choice.

Russia Develops Hypersonic Missile System To Up Ante in Ukraine War


Asystem designed to launch one of Russia's much-vaunted hypersonic missiles is expected to be ready for use by the end of the year, state media have reported.

News agencye Tass said that a system to launch the Tsirkon missile was being developed at the renowned rocket design bureau NPO Mashinostroyenia in Reutov, near Moscow, which Newsweek has contacted for comment.

A military source told the agency that the coastal missile system is slated to enter service with the Russian Navy "by the end of 2022."

Another source said the new system will have the capacity to strike both ground- and sea-based targets. This would give it the same capability as its predecessor, the Bastion, which deploys Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles.

Russia Warns Long-Range U.S. Missiles at Ukraine Border 'Intolerable'

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Reacting to news reports that the U.S. is planning to send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine, a top Russian diplomat on Saturday called for an "end to the senseless and extremely risky pumping of weapons into the country."

On Friday, news outlets reported that the Biden administration is expected to send multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) to the Eastern European nation. Ukrainian officials have requested the weapons to attack Russians at longer ranges and threaten Russian logistics hubs and routes to slow their offensive in the Donbas region.

In a post on Telegram on Saturday, Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said the Biden administration "may give Kyiv HIMARS MLRS and M270 MLRS, which will be equipped with M31 GMLRS guided missiles."

Western financial warfare and Russia’s de-dollarization strategy: How sanctions on Russia might reshape the global financial system

Since 2014, Russia’s de-dollarization plan has been guided by security and geopolitical considerations. By dumping the US dollar from its foreign currency reserves, Russia diverted from the traditional approach where liquidity and the credibility of the issuer determine the choice of currency.

In 2022, Russia has doubled down on its efforts to de-dollarize the economy. What started as de-dollarization in 2014, transformed into full-blown rouble-ization in 2022.

Following the dynamic of an emerging multipolar world order, the global financial system is also gravitating towards fragmentation and currency multipolarity. The overuse of sanctions could strengthen revisionist countries’ desire to increasingly conduct their trade in non-dollar currencies in an attempt to avoid US oversight.

If current trends continue, the de-dollarization effort could gain ground and undermine the primacy of the US dollar.

The “New Great Game” in Central Asia: From a Sino-Russian Axis of Convenience to Chinese Primacy?

Paolo Pizzolo and Andrea Carteny

Situated at the crossroads of the Silk Road, Central Asia has been an arena of international competition for centuries. Today, a “New Great Game” appears to be taking place between Russia, China and, to a lesser extent, the United States and the European Union for regional hegemony. In the last two decades, Russia and China formed an “axis of convenience”, both to counter Western influence and to thwart regional challenges; however, this has increasingly turned to rivalry in recent years, with China gradually replacing Russia as the chief power with regard to geo-economic and energy assets in some Central Asian countries. An analysis based on Power Transition Theory points to two possible future scenarios for the rivalry, namely China’s predominance or a Chinese-Russian modus vivendi based on a ‘division of labour’.
Keywords: New Great Game; Central Asia; Power Transition Theory; Russia; China


Dr. Markus Jaeger

The financial sanctions imposed on Russia by Washington and its allies have put Beijing on notice. In the event of a military conflict over Taiwan, China now knows what to expect from the United States. Beijing will therefore accelerate efforts to promote the renminbi as an international currency and reduce its dependence on the dollar. But the greenback will remain the dominant international currency and will continue to provide Washington with significant geo-economic power.

True, China’s far greater economic weight compared to Russia will make some American allies more hesitant to support US financial sanctions in the event of a military clash. But the implicit or explicit threat of US secondary sanctions should help persuade them to support American policies, even if the economic costs of doing so will be considerable. Should the US Navy impose a blockade on Chinese seaborne trade, financial and currency sanctions will become less meaningful, as they derive their effectiveness largely, if not exclusively, from restricting a country’s international trade.

Finland and Sweden: the defence policy and capability context

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in 2014. Its further invasion, from February 2022, failed in its apparent initial objective of toppling the elected government in Kyiv. Moscow’s military forces have, since then, suffered significant reverses – particularly its ground forces – though they continue air and ground operations, particularly in Ukraine’s East. For Russia, equipment and personnel losses have been substantial, but Ukraine’s forces are also suffering losses. To help Ukraine’s defence, the Ukraine Contact Group, comprising around 40 nations, is playing a key role in coordinating international security assistance to the country. A further consequence of Russia’s 2022 invasion is that it has reshaped European security and reinvigorated the NATO Alliance. Germany’s defence posture has transformed, and to the north Finland and Sweden have applied for NATO membership.

Biden Woos India While Visiting South Korea and Japan

Husain Haqqani & Aparna Pande

President Biden is in Asia, continuing the pivot to a region that is described as his administration’s top priority. But while his travels are taking him to South Korea and Japan, the U.S. president’s attention is more focused on Australia and India, both members of the Quad, alongside Japan and the United States.

Australia is expected to be a critical partner as the Quad evolves into a mechanism for facing China’s increasingly assertive and aggressive posture in the Indo-Pacific. India, on the other hand, is expected to rally other countries in realizing that China may now be a threat to the rules-based international order. With a population that nearly matches China’s, India is often characterized as China’s biggest potential rival in Asia.

Although the Quadrilateral dialogue has come a long way, surviving changes in leadership in the U.S., Japan and Australia, it isn’t deterring China. It lacks a hard power component, and India, while willing to partner on issues such as climate change and emerging technologies, has dragged its feet on becoming part of a U.S.-led security architecture for the Indo-pacific.

India lags behind China in economic and military capabilities. The United States, Australia and Japan have shown willingness to invest in building India’s capacity. Only recently there were reports of a $500 million military funding package from the U.S. for India that would deepen security ties and wean India off dependence on Russian military equipment. But India’s reluctance to get entangled in anything that resembles a military alliance remains an obstacle to the Quad’s evolution on anything more than what China dismisses as “ sea foam.

India faces a formidable challenge from China along the two countries’ 2,167-mile land border. Americans see the threat from China in maritime terms, and the partnership they envisage with India – in the Indo Pacific and through the Quad – reflects that focus. China has signaled to India repeatedly that the U.S. and its Quad would not be able to help India in a confrontation with China in the Himalayas.

Since April 2020, following an intrusion of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) across the India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC), relations between these nuclear-armed neighbors have remained at an impasse. The two sides have held 15 rounds of negotiations in two years without a resolution of their border dispute. But India’s leaders are not willing to risk a complete breach in ties with China, while pursuing the Quad partnership with the U.S., Japan and Australia.

Indian leaders insist that China has disturbed three decades of “peace and tranquility” with its actions along the border, and India’s intention remains “to restore the status quo ante, as it existed in April 2020,” when Chinese troops moved into territory controlled by India. According to India’s new army chief, General Manoj Pande, China wants “to keep the boundary issue alive” instead of resolving it. A visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in March 2022 did little to change things along the border.

China’s policy seems to be to change the position on the ground, just as it has done in the case of islands in the South China Sea, leaving India to play catchup. In 2022 Chinese troops replaced prefabricated bridges across Pangong Tso, a lake that spans eastern Ladakh and western Tibet, with two permanent bridges. India has responded by increasing the number of troops on the border, while upgrading its ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) technologies and logistics capabilities with U.S. support.

Like their Japanese and Southeast Asian counterparts, Indian leaders had long hoped that the potential of the large Indian consumer market would convince China to avoid open confrontation with India. Only recently has India become willing to use economic coercion to force a resolution of the border crisis.

In 2020, India banned more than 60 primarily Chinese made apps, including Tik Tok. This was followed up in 2021 with the banning of around 120 apps belonging to tech companies such as Tencent, Alibaba and NetEase. In 2022, the Indian government seized $700 million in bank assets of Xiaomi, one of China’s largest tech companies, accusing the company of violating India’s foreign exchange laws.

China’s upping the ante on the border with India was based on the presumption that it would stop India from moving closer to the United States. Notwithstanding India’s hedging behavior in continuing talks with China and avoiding a formal alliance with the U.S., Chinese actions along the Sino-Indian border have only drawn India closer to the U.S.

At the Quad Summit in Tokyo, President Biden has an opportunity to ask Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi what more the U.S. can do to strengthen India’s resolve in dealing firmly with China. Indian leaders know that while the United States and its partners around the world support India’s rise as a global power, China has long opposed India’s rise. What remains now is to develop a strategy that moves the Quad beyond vaccine diplomacy, climate change and technology to areas such as enhanced security, intelligence and military cooperation.

30 May 2022

North Korean Cryptocurrency Operations: An Alternative Revenue Stream

Heeu Millie Kim

Executive Summary

As cryptocurrency has risen to prominence within the past decade, its widespread use has like- wise created great potential for exploitation by malicious actors. With a cyber arsenal capable of reaching cryptocurrency platforms and users, North Korea has increasingly targeted virtual assets as a source of revenue for its regime. In its 2021 final report, the United Nations Panel of Experts estimated that North Korea stole approximately $316.4 million in virtual assets between January 2019 and November 2020. The decentralized nature of the cryptocurrency market is well-suited for a heavily-sanctioned and financially-isolated state like North Korea, especially given tighter trade restrictions and border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ease of obscuring ownership of virtual assets and the lack of regulatory oversight make cryptocurrency all the more attractive for North Korea.

What Will Determine the Future of Money?

Michael B. Greenwald

The international economy is beginning to fracture around the development of novel digital currencies and the human values that their systems represent. Since currencies represent a commonly accepted medium of exchange and can act as an enabler or disabler of economic relationships, they have the power to shape how the global economy functions.

The economic landscape today is evolving rapidly with the emergence of various fiat currencies, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and cryptocurrencies that each represent a set of goals or priorities set forth by the issuing body. For example, the US Dollar symbolizes globalization. Bitcoin represents hyper-globalization, with a focus on decentralization and a sprinkle of revolution. The Digital Yuan represents an attempt to track purchases, collect data on consumers, and disconnect a sizable portion of the global economy from the US Dollar.

COVID-19, further discomfort with a US-centric global economy, and the implementation of economic sanctions have ignited isolationist sentiment across the world, leading to the fracturing of interests, values, and leadership. If unchecked, this trend could create an economy that is based on a basket of currencies rather than one that hinges primarily on the performance of the US Dollar/US economy. The growing pains of crypto have not deterred the decentralized finance and creator economy from pursuing a privacy-based system that operates outside of the purview of governments, which helps explain the rise of Monero, Horizen, Railgun, Dash, ZCash, and other so called privacy coins.”

Why China-Taiwan Relations Are So Tense

Lindsay Maizland

Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), is an island separated from China by the Taiwan Strait. It has been governed independently of mainland China, officially the People’s Republic of China (PRC), since 1949. The PRC views the island as a renegade province and vows to eventually “unify” Taiwan with the mainland. In Taiwan, which has its own democratically elected government and is home to twenty-three million people, political leaders have differing views on the island’s status and relations with the mainland.

Cross-strait tensions have escalated since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016. Tsai has refused to accept a formula that her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, endorsed to allow for increased cross-strait ties. Meanwhile, Beijing has taken increasingly aggressive actions, including by flying fighter jets near the island. Some analysts fear a Chinese attack on Taiwan has the potential to draw the United States into a war with China.

Downsizing the Department of Defense

Frederico Bartels

The Defense Department has lots of “spare bedrooms” they are not using and cost big money to maintain.

Saving defense dollars should be a shared bipartisan concern.

While it makes sense to maintain some extra capacity in case the need arises to scale up our forces, there is no need to maintain over 15% of excess capacity.

One way that many families deal with increased costs is by downsizing, especially when they become “empty-nesters.” Downsizing makes even more sense when your family hasn’t used that spare bedroom in a long time. The Defense Department has lots of “spare bedrooms” they are not using and cost big money to maintain.

Since 2016, the department has told us they have at least 15% excess military infrastructure. At least three different studies have highlighted the excess and estimate the Pentagon could save about $2 billion dollars a year if allowed to trim its excess properties through the process called base realignment and closure (BRAC).

Texas’s New Social Media Law Will Create a Haven for Global Extremists

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Varsha Koduvayur

Last Saturday, Payton Gendron murdered 10 Black victims at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and livestreamed the shooting on Twitch. Twitch pulled the horrific stream within two minutes—but by then, the video had already been shared on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. For Gendron, social media exposure was central to the white supremacist race war he saw himself fighting: In his manifesto, he noted that livestreaming the attack was meant to “increase coverage and spread my beliefs.” To the rest of us, his ability to broadcast his hate crime should show how content moderation on social media platforms, though often maligned and never perfect, serves an important social good.

But a new law in another U.S. state is about to put significant constraints on social media companies’ nascent efforts to rein in extremist content, violent images, and systematic disinformation—with potentially global effects. (Full disclosure: At Valens Global, we have received funding from Meta, the owner of Facebook, for our work on how national security intersects with technology, but we receive funds for this research from many sources.) A new Texas law limiting content moderation will have ripple effects far beyond the state, as hate speech, disinformation, and pro-terrorist content may now find protection in Texas. From there, it could quickly spread via the borderless internet into other states and countries.

Tajik terrorist serves as Taliban commander in northern Afghanistan


As the Taliban continues to maintain that it doesn’t allow foreign fighters in Afghanistan, a Tajik national and commander for the Al Qaeda-linked Jamaat Ansarullah remains in control of several districts in a northern Afghan province.

During the Taliban’s swift offensive across Afghanistan last spring and summer, the Taliban placed five districts in the northern province of Badakhshan under the control of Mahdi Arsalon, a Tajik national and a commander in the Al Qaeda-linked Jamaat Ansarullah (JA). Arsalon was given control of the districts by Qari Fasihuddin, an ethnic Tajik Taliban commander who served as the shadow governor of Badakhshan at the time. Fasihuddin has since been appointed to serve as the Taliban’s chief of army staff.

The clear cooperation between the Taliban and Jamaat Ansarullah directly contradicts repeated Taliban claims that their regime does not provide safe haven to foreign fighters. In an interview with CNN this past week, the Taliban’s Minister of the Interior, and leader of the Haqqani Network, Siraj Haqqani doubled down on the assertion, declaring that the Taliban does not support foreign fighters and does not allow Afghanistan to serve as a breeding ground or launching pad for terrorism.

Japan to 'drastically strengthen' military capability

Takaya Yamaguchi

TOKYO, May 27 (Reuters) - Japan aims to "drastically strengthen" its military capabilities, according to an economic policy draft seen by Reuters, as officials worry that Russia's invasion of Ukraine could prompt instability in East Asia.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, meeting U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday, pledged to "substantially increase" Japan's defence budget.

The draft, a long-term economic outline that is updated annually, does not gives details about spending, but says for the first time: "There have been attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force in East Asia, making regional security increasingly severe."

China Closes its Windows to the World: When Will They Reopen?

John S. Van Oudenaren

Throughout the pandemic, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has focused on sharply limiting international travel as a risk vector for the spread of COVID-19, and as a result has kept its borders largely closed. As Beijing edges closer to a total shutdown and lockdowns persist in several other large cities, including Shanghai; the already stringent entry and exit restrictions on Chinese citizens implemented as part of the “dynamic clearance” zero-COVID policy have been further tightened. At a special meeting on May 10, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) called for “strict implementation” of existing polices barring “non-essential” outbound travel (China News Service, May 12). The NIA stated that full cooperation with these measures is vital to “win the battle to defend Shanghai” and to “vigorously support Beijing’s epidemic prevention work.” This week, the NIA provided further guidance as to what constitutes “essential departures“(必要出境, xuyao chujing), which include business; scientific, technical, medical and research cooperation; academic study; and “urgent personal affairs” such as funerals and elder care (Sina, May 24). The new regulations build on the NIA’s imposition of tighter restrictions on international travel last July, which institutionalized a pattern of strong discouragement of “non-essential” overseas travel by authorities since early 2020 (Xinhuanet, July 30, 2021). The impact of this de facto moratorium on overseas travel was evident even before these restrictions were issued with the PRC issuing only 2% as many passports in the first half of 2021, as it did during the same period in 2019 (Sixth Tone, August 4, 2021).

Implications of a Coercive Quarantine of Taiwan by the People's Republic of China

Bradley Martin, Kristen Gunness, Paul DeLuca, Melissa Shostak

China's coercive options for Taiwan range from routine violations of Taiwan's declared Air Defense Identification Zone to a full-scale invasion. Within the spectrum are efforts to isolate Taiwan to prevent it from sending exports or receiving imports. Typically, this would be called a blockade. However, because China does not view the government on Taiwan as sovereign and thus rejects the idea that a state of war could exist, blockade is not the correct term. Therefore, in this report, the authors examine how China might implement a quarantine of Taiwan. Unlike in a blockade scenario, China's goals for the quarantine would not be to completely cut off food and supplies to Taiwan, but rather to demonstrate de facto sovereignty by controlling the air and maritime space around the island, as well as which cargo deliveries, ships, aircraft, and people have access to Taiwan.