30 June 2022

What to know about the role Javelin antitank missiles could play in Ukraine’s fight against Russia

Claire Parker, Alex Horton and William Neff

The United States and allies have surged weapons to Ukraine in recent weeks in the face of the Russian invasion. Images of destroyed Russian tanks on social media have drawn attention to one particular weapon: the Javelin missile.

The U.S. and other NATO countries sent more than 17,000 antitank weapons, including Javelin missiles, overland to Ukraine via Poland and Romania in the span of less than a week this month, the New York Times reported.

The Javelin has taken on a symbolic valence in pro-Ukraine online chatter. Former reporter Christian Borys created an image of a saint clutching a Javelin and its launch unit. The image on stickers and other gear has raised more than $1 million, Borys said on Twitter, which he said will go to a humanitarian aid charity focused on Ukraine.

How Developed Is China’s Arms Industry?

Possessing a highly developed defense industrial base is a prerequisite to becoming a leading military power. While China is already the world’s second largest arms producer, the ability of its arms industry to domestically develop certain advanced weapon systems is still growing. If China can successfully strengthen its defense industry, it can reduce its reliance on foreign technologies and establish itself as a global leader in cutting-edge military capabilities.
China’s Arms Industry Giants

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has named modernizing the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) among its top priorities. At the 19th Party Congress of the CCP in October 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined the goal to “complete national defense and military modernization by 2035” and to transform the PLA into a “world-class military by mid-century.”

Upgrading equipment and technologies is a central focus of China’s military modernization campaign. From 2010 to 2017, China’s annual spending on military equipment rose from $26.2 billion to $63.5 billion. While attributable to growth in China’s overall military spending, this is also the result of higher prioritization. In 2010, 33.3 percent of total military spending went toward equipment. By 2017, that figure stood at 41.1 percent.

Russia Hits Ukraine With Air Strike From Belarus for First Time: Kyiv


Ukraine said Saturday that Russia fired missiles from Belarus "for the purpose of further dragging Belarus into the war against Ukraine."

In a statement posted to Facebook, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine said that "a massive missile and bomb attack" was launched across the country, and that "Russian bombers 'worked' directly from the territory of Belarus."

The Ministry of Defense said that six aircraft launched 12 missiles, and that the "blow was carried out in Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions."

"This is the first case of an air strike across Ukraine directly from the territory of Belarus. Today's shelling is directly related to the efforts of the Kremlin authorities to drag Belarus into the war in Ukraine as a direct participant," the ministry stated.

Beyond images: Air Force official on AI quest for ‘integrated’ intel picture


WASHINGTON: The Air Force is exploring new ways that artificial intelligence can be used to help with data collection and sharing efforts specifically for sensing operations, including bringing in a variety of data beyond just images to create an “integrated” intelligence picture, the service’s deputy chief information officer tells Breaking Defense.

The service has been working on automated target recognition (ATR) for a while, but “only as of late has the processing power of the systems that we were using really caught up to the aspirations of what we wanted to do with it,” Winston Beauchamp, Air Force deputy chief information officer, said in a June 15 interview.

“So back when we started the ATR journey, we were talking about hundreds of largely still images, largely black and white, coming in from overhead systems or airborne systems,” he said. “Now, we’re talking about thousands and we’re talking about full motion video and multispectral, in some cases hyperspectral [images], coming from a variety of platforms that are government and commercial. All of these have to be somehow processed and, ideally, find some way to stitch them together into an integrated picture.”

Army robotics official: More autonomy could ease battlefield bandwidth worries


EUROSATORY 2022: The way the US military plans for the future battlefield, data will perennially crisscross the battlefield, creating a next-generation vulnerability: bandwidth bottlenecks.

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data will be sent to targeting and fire control systems. Sensor data will augment battlefield view of soldiers through the goggles strapped on their heads. Soldiers, of course, need to communicate with each other on the ground, and connect to air assets or back to the brigade operations center. And medical evacuation flights will dispatch wound information across a network to field hospitals several minutes before arrival.

All that eats up a lot of bandwidth, a scarce resource even before an enemy starts trying to jam or otherwise interfere with it. But the Army sees one potential option to free up valuable space through increasing autonomy on the battlefield.

Lawmakers push for directed energy weapons, suggest collaboration with Israel


WASHINGTON: House lawmakers on the Armed Services Committee want more information from the Pentagon about its future plans for integrating directed energy weapons into its air defenses, and say the US should talk more with an allied nation making progress in the field: Israel.

The HASC’s version of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act included several amendments aimed at bolstering US and allied air defenses against unmanned aerial systems, rockets, artillery and missile threats amid conflicts in Europe and the Middle East that lawmakers said highlight the need for strong air defenses.

“The committee believes that with recent Russian actions in Ukraine, ongoing efforts by Iran and Iranian proxies to use cruise missiles to destabilize and undermine regimes, and growing Chinese capabilities, air defense for the United States and our allies is an increasing priority,” read an adopted amendment from Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo. “This threat environment makes efforts to incorporate allied platforms, such as those with NATO and Israel, into future air defense architectures all the more important.”

The Nightmare Politics and Sticky Science of Hacking the Climate

ONE WAY TO fight climate change may be to … do more climate change. “Geoengineering” is a broad term encompassing distinct techniques for hacking the climate, split into two main groups: There’s carbon dioxide removal (CDR), which could mean sucking carbon out of the atmosphere with machines, or simply encouraging more vegetation to grow. And there’s solar radiation management (SRM), which might include brightening clouds or spraying aerosols in the atmosphere to bounce the sun’s energy back into space.

These two methods are sort of like different approaches to battling a seasonal flu.

Carbon removal is like taking an antiviral, which helps your immune system banish the virus from your body; deleting carbon from the atmosphere similarly targets the root cause of the climate change problem. On the other hand, solar radiation management is more like taking an aspirin to reduce the fever the flu is causing. It doesn’t obliterate the problem-causing agent, and only treats symptoms.

NATO to Approve ‘Biggest Overhaul’ Of Defense Since Cold War, Leader Says


NATO will grow its quick reaction force nearly tenfold, to “well over 300,000” troops, to better protect the alliance’s eastern front in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg announced Monday.

The alliance is expected to formally adopt the change this week at its summit in Madrid, where leaders will also approve a new strategic document for the next 10 years, discuss a boost in defense spending and approve more aid for Ukraine.

“These troops will exercise together with home defense forces, and they will become familiar with local terrain facilities and our new pre-positioned stocks, so that they can respond smoothly and swiftly to any emergency,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference. “Together, this constitutes the biggest overhaul of collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War.”

Russia's Next Move Now That Severodonetsk is 'Fully Occupied'


Weeks of intense fighting has finally led to a full Russian occupation of the Eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, according to the local mayor on Saturday. Russian forces have gained control and forced Ukrainian defenders to retreat the city that's pretty much completely destroyed.

"The Russians have fully occupied Severodonetsk, our military has retreated to more prepared positions," Severodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said Saturday in a TV interview.

Ukrainian forces have moved south to the city of Lysychansk, which is a few miles away and south of the Siverskyi Donets River. Russian forces are expected to continue fighting in Lysychansk to gain further ground in the Luhansk region. Russian forces and pro-Russian rebels have already begun trekking into Lysychansk, according to the BBC.

Is US playing chicken with China in Taiwan Strait?


Last Friday, a US Navy Poseidon P-8A intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew through the Taiwan Strait. This seemingly routine event was anything but.

Indeed, it appears to have been the latest US gambit in its dispute with China over the legal regime governing such passages – and thus their conflicting views of the relevant “international order.”

In an unusual “in your face” statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command proclaimed that the flight was a demonstration of the United States’ “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.” It said the plane transited the Taiwan Strait in “international airspace” and that “the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows including within the Taiwan Strait” (emphasis added).

Balancing Rivalry and Cooperation: Japan’s Response to the BRI in Southeast Asia

Tien Ce Joe

Since the ascension of Xi Jinping as the paramount leader of China, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been the cornerstone of China’s foreign policy. Announced in 2013, the BRI is an ambitious investment and infrastructure program which seeks to boost global trade by enhancing China’s connectivity with the rest of Eurasia through infrastructure development. As such a large-scale program, the BRI has garnered massive attention from the international community including Japan which has been a major player in the infrastructure investment sector for decades.

Considering the rivalrous relationship between China and Japan, it has become mainstream for observers to view Japan’s response to the BRI from a neomercantilist perspective, which views the BRI as a threat to Japan’s position as one of Asia’s largest exporters of infrastructure (Bajpaee, 2016; Murashkin, 2018). Accordingly, the BRI has also been regarded as one of the main catalysts behind the intensified rivalry between China and Japan in recent years. This is especially true in Southeast Asia because Japan has traditionally been the region’s most dominant infrastructure developer, and because the region is also considered to be the most vital for the realization of China’s BRI (Li, 2017; Zhao, 2019). Furthermore, as the realm of geopolitics and economics become increasingly more intertwined due to the rising security tensions in the South China Sea, the infrastructure investment sector has also been regarded as a vital area for China and Japan to compete for influence in Southeast Asia through economic statecraft (Bajpaee, 2016; O’Neill, 2018; Yoshimatsu, 2017).

The Power and Pitfalls of AI for US Intelligence

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FROM CYBER OPERATIONS to disinformation, artificial intelligence extends the reach of national security threats that can target individuals and whole societies with precision, speed, and scale. As the US competes to stay ahead, the intelligence community is grappling with the fits and starts of the impending revolution brought on by AI.

The US intelligence community has launched initiatives to grapple with AI’s implications and ethical uses, and analysts have begun to conceptualize how AI will revolutionize their discipline, yet these approaches and other practical applications of such technologies by the IC have been largely fragmented.

As experts sound the alarm that the US is not prepared to defend itself against AI by its strategic rival, China, Congress has called for the IC to produce a plan for integration of such technologies into workflows to create an “AI digital ecosystem” in the 2022 Intelligence

Deconstructing Narco-Terrorism in Failed States: Afghanistan and Colombia

Silvia De Giuseppe

The concept of danger has been critical to establishing the nation-state and its sovereignty (Dillion, 1996). The mainstream security scholarship believes that danger can be overcome through rational choice (Keohane, 1989). This dissertation investigates how states can both overcome and construct danger logically and purposefully. The practices of danger are not only relevant to this dissertation but also to international security politics. Indeed, the discourse of danger has become the foundation of political authority and order to the point where the discursive construction of the state originates from the discursive construction of danger (Dillon, 1996). Even though the latter is not a fixed, objective condition (Campbell, 1998: 2), states extensively use it to reconfigure their identity (Doty, 1996).

This dissertation is set out to answer the question “Do the failed states breed narco-terrorism?”. By answering the research question, this study will meet three aims. It will establish the causational relation, or the lack thereof, between failed states and narco-terrorism; it will re-frame narco-terrorism’s ontology, and it will re-frame narco-terrorism’s epistemology.

Russia's 'Shadow Mobilization' Accelerates With New Ethnic Units From The North Caucasus

Yekaterina Bezmenova

Faced with a deepening personnel crisis within its military, Russia is scrambling to find fighters for its war in Ukraine and recruiting heavily from its North Caucasus region to form new units along ethnic lines who are then deployed with minimal training.

Regional officials from Daghestan, Ingushetia, and Kalmykia have announced plans to form rifle companies that are each made up of soldiers from a particular Russian republic. According to reporting by Caucasus.Realities, a regional news outlet of RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service, these national units are formed primarily of contract soldiers who have previous military training and have been targeted by local recruitment drives aimed at pressuring and enticing men of military age to join the war in Ukraine.

“It seems that the governors [of these North Caucasus republics] were instructed to form extra forces in addition to official recruitment through the military registration and enlistment offices,” Sergei Krivenko, director of the Citizen. Army. Law human rights group, told RFE/RL.

Concerns grow that India is ‘back door’ into Europe for Russian oil

Alex Lawson

The huge blue and red hull of the SCF Primorye came into port at Vadinar, western Gujarat, India, earlier this month. The 84,000-tonne oil tanker, built in 2009 and sailing under the Liberian flag, had arrived from the port at Ust-Luga, a settlement in Russia near the border with Estonia.

Until 2017, the Vadinar oil refinery was controlled by Essar – the Indian owner of the Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port. Since then a consortium including the sanctioned Russian state-owned oil firm Rosneft and the commodities trader Trafigura, which holds a 24.5% stake, have owned Nayara Energy, which runs the refinery.

The tanker’s arrival came as India ramped up imports of Russian oil. The Asian nation’s willingness to snap up Russian crude at discounts of up to 30% has undermined efforts from the US, Europe and the UK to deplete Vladimir Putin’s war coffers by curtailing imports. Russia raked in $20bn from oil exports in May, bouncing back to pre-invasion levels. Now, concerns are growing that India is being used as a potential back door into Europe for Russian oil supplies,given the surge in imports.

Before the invasion of Ukraine, India’s imports of Russian oil were negligible due to high freight costs. But recently, imports of Russian oil to India have increased. Vadinar’s owner, Nayara, purchased Russian oil in March – just before international restrictions on its exports were introduced – after a gap of a year, buying about 1.8m barrels from Trafigura, Reuters reported.

The volumes that India has been buying and exporting, however, suggest that some of the refined Russian crude may ultimately be used in Europe’s filling stations. It is not clear where the Russian crude brought into Vadinar on the SCF Primorye will be used. Vadinar’s owner’s declined to comment on the shipment or whether it was shipping Russian oil to Europe.

In May, India imported about 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Russia in Mayand the rating agency Fitch predicts that imports could soon increase further to 1m barrels per day, or 20% of India’s total imports. India, China and the United Arab Emirates have picked up the slack as Russian crude oil imports into the EU fell by 18% in May.

Putin told the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) business summit this week that “Russian oil supplies to China and India are growing noticeably”.

India’s 1.4 billion-strong population gives it reason to seek cheap supplies. But it’s a dangerous political game. “India is walking a tightrope,” said Alan Gelder, the vice-president of refining, chemicals and oil markets at Wood Mackenzie. “If you take too much, you do not want the west to sanction the rest of your economy.”

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said Reliance Industries’ Jamnagar refinery in Gujarat received 27% of its oil from Russia in May, up from 5% in April. The centre said about 20% of exported cargoes from Jamnagar left for the Suez canal, indicating that they were heading to Europe or the US. Shipments were made to France, Italy and the UK. However, there is no evidence that these shipments included Russian oil.

The UK has committed to phasing out Russian oil by the end of the year. Britain did not import any petrol before the war but diesel accounted for 18% of total demand. While trading Russian oil remains legal, the stigma attached to it means some international companies involved in fuel supplies may attempt to mask its origins. Some energy firms rushed to cut shipments from Russia but industry watchers said some drivers in the south-east of England were still likely to be filling up with diesel refined in Russia.

State processors of oil are attempting to secure six-month supply contacts for Russian crude to India, Bloomberg reported this month. The trio of state refiners – Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum – declined to answer questions on whether they were importing Russian oil or exporting it to Europe.

Industry sources said tracking shipments of Russian oil to Europe via India is proving very difficult. “You’ll find that several shipments of crude will arrive at a port from different countries and be blended together. Tracking a hydrocarbon is basically impossible.”

There are several tactics shippers are using to hide the origin of Russian oil, sources said. Financially, paying in Chinese currency – rather than the industry standard dollar – is an option. Yuan-rouble trading volumes have surged 1,067% since February’s invasion of Ukraine. Transfers of oil cargoes from ship-to-ship have also spiked, suggesting oil is being switched from Russian flagged-vessels to other ships. Increasing numbers of vessels have been “going dark” by switching off their automative identification systems as thousands of gallons of the black stuff are transferred on the waves.

A third, more niche option to hide Russian transactions is to cut out using a currency and trade oil directly for other products, such as gold, food or weapons. Iran has previously taken payment from trading partners in gold rather than dollars.

“If a country or oil operator wants to hide the source of crude or oil products, it can very easily do so,” said Ajay Parmar, an oil market analyst at ICIS.

Opinion – The Question of Remedial Secession in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh

Vahagn Avedian

The question of the future of the Nagorno Karabakh is again topical right now, even though it is overshadowed by the war in Ukraine. While the EU and US, as part of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group (one can say that France is de facto representing the EU), have become more active in their engagement with the conflict, Azerbaijan’s autocratic leadership is pushing for the dismantling of the group.

One reason behind this push is the recent statements by both EU and US officials about Nagorno-Karabakh Armenian’s right for self-determination. Unsurprisingly, Baku is still vehemently rejecting this right, while some are yet again pushing for the old argument of granting Nagorno-Karabakh autonomy (according to the “Åland model”) and guaranteeing the region’s population minority rights in a “multi-ethnic Azerbaijan”.

The main problem with these theories is that they are flawed at their very induction, when the authors, deliberately one might add, overlook one substantial variable in the equation – namely the state of democracy in Azerbaijan. An outspoken authoritarian regime, Azerbaijan ranks lowest in regard to democracy in Europe (second worst only to Belarus) and at the absolute bottom segment of the Media freedom index, just below Belarus but above Russia. Once we add the past and present policies of ethnic cleansing and eradication of cultural monuments to erase any trace of Armenian presence in Nakhichevan and Karabakh, any premise for solutions to the conflict change dramatically. Then, the whole subsequent argumentation and these suggested solutions fall apart because they are based on erroneous assumption, leaving in reality only one viable solution. This solution is, namely, the one proposed in the Madrid Principles, which grant the people of Nagorno-Karabakh their right to self-determination and will most likely result in a secession.

The question of secession is, however, not as straightforward as it may seem to be. The critics would suggest that minorities don’t have the right to external self-determination (which might lead to secession), but only the right to internal self-determination. Indeed, the reasoning for their claim stems from the general position articulated by The UN (1992), stating that “if every ethnic, religious or linguistic group claimed statehood, there would be no limit to fragmentation, and peace, security and economic well-being for all would become ever more difficult to achieve.”

This statement, as justified as it maybe, requires qualification. First of all, while the concern is valid, it is highly unlikely that we would face a mushrooming of aspiring independent nations, regardless how volatile they might be. Although the volatility of these aspiring nations would automatically revert the situation in the vast majority of the cases, there is a legitimate concern for the abuse of such a liberal implementation of peoples’ right for self-determination. Simply put, instead of a straightforward annexation, a foreign power could entice a local insurrection under the pretense of aspiring for ‘independence’, move in with forces to ‘safeguard’ the right of the local population and then hold some mode of ‘plebiscite’ or ‘referendum’ to seal the deal and feign democratic legitimacy. Needless to say, the latter would require several violations of international law (as we e.g. see in the ongoing Ukraine war) before coming to the “expression of will”, i.e. a referendum, in which the most likely response from the international community will be refutation. Secondly, this assumption by the UN foresees that the basic rights of the population are met by the government of the state they live under. It is here that the issue of secession becomes a valid solution.

This observation above is also why the issue of secession is less controversial within the international legal community when it is interpreted within a colonial context, but more so when in a post-colonial frame. The post-colonial application has, however, developed quite considerably since the 1990s, even though there are still widespread varying views on the subject. This observation notwithstanding, there are both concrete legal cases (which I’ll return to shortly) as well as a theoretical discourse concerning the so-called “remedial” secession in contrast to a bilateral secession, which is common in the case of former colonies such as that of India’s secession from UK or Namibia’s from South Africa. The latter is in fact highly relevant in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh, given the UN rationale (through the ICJ) for the Namibian people’s right to secession due to South Africa’s failure to fulfill its obligation to guarantee the well-being and the security of the Namibian people.

A more recent topical case is the verdict of the Canadian Supreme Court regarding the Secession of Quebec (1998). Here, the Canadian Supreme Court stated that “A right to external self-determination (which in this case potentially takes the form of the assertion of a right to unilateral secession) arises in only the most extreme of cases and, even then, under carefully defined circumstances.” This is nothing new however. The famous Åland case, The Report of the Commission of Jurists, (League of Nations, 1920) explicitly pointed out one exception in which citizens had the right to secession, namely “when the State lacks either the will or the power to enact and apply just and effective guarantees.” Simply put, if internal self-determination (regarding democratic values, culture, language, economy, stability, security etc.) are not met, the people have the legitimate right to external self-determination as a last resort, which is highly applicable to the Nagorno-Karabakh case. The provisional verdict by the ICJ on December 7, 2021 is quite indicative of the long list of democratic and human rights violations committed by Azerbaijan against the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.

This normative framework, as demonstrated by the Åland case, has since the 1920s recurred within international circles. For instance, this can be seen by its implicit reference in UN’s Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-Operation among States (1970) underlining the obligations of a state in regard to the territorial integrity vs. people’s right for self-determination. Here, territorial integrity is defended only when the state performs its obligations to provide a “government representing the whole people belonging to a territory without distinction as to race, creed or colour.” Once the latter guarantee fails, the people shall have the right to self-determination, even if it lends itself to secession.

It is here that we return to the issue of democracy in Azerbaijan, or rather the flagrant lack of it, and how the existential threat against Nagorno-Karabakh’s population justifies their right to determine their external status. It should also be pointed out that this decision does not automatically and necessarily imply the practical issue of a permanent ‘independent’ Nagorno-Karabakh and the need to join the UN as a sovereign member-state. In fact, in the case of the Karabakh Conflict, this does not mirror the origins of the conflict in the first place. Since 1918, the plea of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh has been to be part of Armenia, a request which was repeated in 1923, 1965, 1977 and then again in 1988. The only reason why we are speaking of an ‘independent’ Nagorno-Karabakh is as an interim status and in respect to the ongoing mediation by OSCE and its Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, which states that “frontiers can be changed, in accordance with international law, by peaceful means and by agreement.” Thus, a remedial secession of Nagorno-Karabakh from an autocratic Azerbaijan is not only perfectly aligned with international law, both explicitly and normatively, but it is also the only viable solution to a conflict in order to avoid the greater risk or potential of broad ethnic cleansing against the native Armenian population.

The latter, ethnic cleansing, is by no means a hypothetical scenario. Given the historicity of the conflict, recent developments since the 2020 war, and the rhetoric from Baku, the threat of ethnic cleansing is very real and imminent. The 2020 war not only cleansed one third of Nagorno-Karabakh of its Armenian population, but subsequent action by the administration in Baku have also indicated a policy of forcing ethnic Armenians out in one way or another. The question will be whether the democratic international community will allow it to take place or not, especially in light of the war in Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine and the international embargo on Russian energy sources has put the spotlight on Azerbaijan as an alternative supplier of natural gas to Europe. The fear that Europe and the international community would turn a blind eye to the state of democracy and human rights in Azerbaijan is of course even more palpable when it comes to the likely fate awaiting the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh; especially if the region is again put under Baku’s suzerainty. The war in Ukraine has undoubtedly proven that the international community can stand in solidarity to defend other’s rights against an autocratic assault. Nevertheless, the war in Ukraine has also blatantly demonstrated that we can overlook and sacrifice those who are not in our close proximity for the sake of our own national interests. Hopefully the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians will not be sacrificed at the altar of realpolitik.

Putin’s Next Ukraine Disaster: The Russian Army Is Running Out Of Ammo

Steve Balestrieri

Ukraine War Update: Russia Hammers Kyiv Despite Running Low On Ammunition – The Russian military unleashed missile attacks across Ukraine on Saturday, hitting the capital of Kyiv with the heaviest barrage of missiles in weeks. And with the indiscriminate targeting of civilian areas, the strikes hit both an apartment building as well as a kindergarten.

These strikes killed at least one person and wounded six more. Ukrainian firefighters rushed to put out the fire in a nine-story apartment building. “They have pulled out a seven-year-old girl. She is alive. Now they’re trying to rescue her mother,” Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko said

“There are people under the rubble,” Klitschko added on the Telegram messaging app. He also stated that several people had been hospitalized. The strikes took place as leaders of the G7 met in Germany to consider whether to levy new sanctions against Moscow.

The Role of United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea in the South China Sea Disputes

Gleice Miranda and Valentina Maljak

Interstate conflicts have shaped the destiny of nations since the very beginning of their formation. Wars between and within states have helped to forge the current international system, creating new laws and governments, and solidifying ancient ones. However, conflicts also jeopardize peace and security around the world, especially when they do not receive due attention from the international community. One such conflict is currently underway in the South China Sea (SCS). The tensions are territorial in nature, with some parties claiming the rights to islands based on international law and conventions, and others asserting their claims as historical rights. Overtime, as tensions increased, the parties have attempted to settle their dispute with the help of international bodies, such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), and the application of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). However, little to no success has been achieved in decreasing the conflict in the region. The purpose of this chapter is threefold: (1) to provide a geopolitical and legal overview of the SCS disputes, focusing on the importance of the region and identifying the different territorial claims; (2) to explain the major attempt at conflict resolution in the region made through UNCLOS and the PCA; and (3) to critically analyse the impact of UNCLOS on the SCS disputes, highlighting its merits and shortcomings in the region’s main attempt at conflict resolution.


Bradley Graham; Daniel Williams

The United States has reversed plans to withdraw more military forces from East Asia, deciding to hold U.S. troop levels in the region at about 100,000 and keep at least an Army division and an Air Force combat wing in South Korea, the Pentagon announced yesterday. Concerns about unpredictable North Korean and Chinese intentions in a part of the world that has become increasingly important for U.S. trade and economic interests largely explain the U.S. decision to remain a major military force in the region.

This rationale was presented in a Defense Department report released yesterday and intended to ease anxieties among some Asian allies about U.S. forces possibly abandoning them. The last such report, issued in 1992 in the immediate wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, indicated that U.S. forces in the region would continue to decline through the end of the decade.

The new report argues for a continued strong U.S. military presence in East Asia to protect American interests and foster regional stability.




How will the war in Ukraine shape international politics? In principle there are two ways to address this question. The first is simply to extrapolate into the future any actions or reactions that we can observe today. The second, which is explored below, is to organize our thinking theoretically, to ask what may turn out to be the long-term effects of the major causes set in motion by the war. I organize the discussion below in terms of a theory of international politics—realism, mainly structural realism. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine serves as another reminder that war remains an ever-present danger in an international system that is anarchic—i.e., devoid of any central authority with the wherewithal to protect states from aggression. States must therefore prepare to defend themselves. In the heady aftermath of the liberal West’s victory over the Soviet empire, and the apparent triumph of the U.S.-led, liberal world order, many instead believed that interstate war would become a thing of the past. States now face strong incentives to reembrace tried and tested tools of self-preservation developed in earlier times.


Structural realism focuses on the effects of the condition of anarchy, in which all states cohabit.1 Without a world government, each nation must look to its own resources to ensure its security. This problem is structural because the actors cannot individually do anything about it. Some aspiring hegemons have tried to change the structure of international politics from anarchy to hierarchy, but these efforts founder on the strong incentives that anarchy presents to individual states to constantly be on guard to protect their independence. Structural realism as a theory is not a rulebook for state policy; its predictive ability does not depend on states understanding the workings of the system as a whole. Its predictive power depends only on the inclination of states to remain autonomous and the “feedback loops” that are produced when some or all states pursue this inclination.

Opinion – Reconciling China’s Zero-Covid Policy with History

Thomas Ameyaw-Brobbey

Chinese leaders navigated through the century of humiliation (1839-1949), characterized by the Opium Wars, the unequal treaties – including ceding Hong Kong to Britain, the establishment of the most-favored-nation treatment, treaty of extraterritoriality – and the Chinese Civil War (1946-49) until a unification by Mao Zedong’s Communist forces in 1949. The purpose of this piece is to put forth an idea that Xi Jinping’s handling of COVID-19 resonates with Chinese history. Specifically, Chairman Mao’s Hundred Flowers and The Great Leap Forward.

The first decade after unification was characterized by Mao’s attempt to turn the country into a major global power. Thus, the Communist Party reached several consensuses. Importantly, they agreed that land reforms were essential to maintain the rural and the peasants’ support but would attack the business community to undermine the potential sources of opposition. However, differences erupted regarding the pace of social reorganization and the value of the country’s intellectual community. While Mao preferred accelerated continuous revolution and controlling the intellectuals, others warned against rushed advances. In a shrewd move, Mao launched the Hundred Flowers in 1957. The program invited debates and criticism of the Party’s rule from the public, especially the intellectual community – and they did, including calls for democracy, criticism against abuses, corruption, and policy direction. Nevertheless, it was an ostensible move to trick people believed to be enemies of the regime to identify themselves, clearing Mao’s path of his critics.

Cross-Domain Repercussions of the Continuing India-China Border Conflict

Srini Sitaraman


In the summer of 2020, during the early peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, India-China clashed on the mountain ridges of the Himalayas. This collision involved hand-to-hand combat with clubs and metal rods that caused the death of 20 Indian military personnel and four Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army) soldiers.[1] As with the clash, the political and military relationship between India and China rapidly deteriorated. India and China have aggressively fortified the border areas and they are rapidly building military structures along the border areas that include the construction of access roads, bunkers, helipads, ammo depots, and placement of artillery. Indian Army Chief General MM Narvane said that “if the Chinese are there to stay, we are there to stay too.” General Narvane insisted that it is a “matter of concern” for India that the Chinese are engaging in large-scale infrastructure build-up and that the defense posture of both countries along the LAC (Line of Actual Control) is one of readiness. As of April 2022, despite several rounds of corps commander lever talks, there is no indication that there are any substantial shifts in the positions of both countries away from a posture of heightened preparedness. This paper examines the economic and political consequences of the summer 2020 military clashes along the LAC. The border clash is having cross-domain repercussions in the areas of (a) bilateral trade; (b) cyber and mobile tech; and (3) bi-lateral travel and visa issues between India and China. This paper will discuss how India is struggling to reduce its trade and economic dependence on China, cut off its reliance on Chinese mobile and cyber technology to better manage cyberattacks and hacking, and finally, both countries are engaging in tit-for-tat travel bans and using bilateral visa issue as a political weapon.

U.S. Special Forces And CIA Working To Get Ukraine Weapons

Steve Balestrieri

Special Operations Task Force Operating To Direct Flow of Weapons in Ukraine – The United States is heading up a 20-nation task force of Special Operations Forces consisting of troops and paramilitary CIA personnel to ensure that the long-range weapons that Ukraine needs are reaching the right people. And, thus far, it seems to be working.

There are widespread reports that US-supplied HIMARS rocket systems are already hitting Russian targets in occupied areas of Ukraine, the Chief of the General Staff has said.

“Artillerymen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine skilfully hit certain targets – military targets of the enemy on our, Ukrainian, territory,” Chief of Ukraine’s General Staff, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, wrote on the Telegram channel app.

About 150 mostly US Special Operations personnel were pulled from Ukraine prior to the war starting in late February. They were there to train Ukrainian troops at a base in western Ukraine. Now they’re conducting training at bases inside Britain, France, and Germany. Some CIA personnel have remained inside of Ukraine, mostly in Kyiv, and are disseminating the intelligence that the US is sharing with Ukraine.

The Role of ASEAN in the South China Sea Disputes

Leticia Simões

After the Cold War came to an end, the South China Sea (SCS) gradually rose in importance in terms of international security. Several countries have claimed islands, rocks, and adjacent waters there, and these claims are fiercely disputed even today. The SCS is one of the most important sea lines of communication (SLOCs) in the world, strategically positioned in terms of military and trade flow, and replete with marine natural resources, estimates of which are likely to increase exponentially once the studies regarding oil and gas resources in the region are complete and full extraction operations are underway. Four of the primary claimants (Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei) are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Of the two remaining claimants – the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan – Beijing has been the most dangerous to ASEAN members, having been responsible for a series of incidents since 1974. Hence, China’s counterclaims against the ASEAN states, and its behaviour in prosecuting said counter-claims, will be the focus of this chapter, as the specifics of the ROC claims are discussed in separate chapter of this volume.

This chapter aims to analyse the position of ASEAN toward the SCS maritime disputes. In the first section, we present a brief history of the process known as the ASEAN Way, and the importance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and how this is connected to the SCS disputes. In the second section, we show how ASEAN has reacted to the disputes, either collectively or individually as member-states, as well as how ASEAN members’ policies on the disputes influence the association’s decision-making process. In this section we aim to answer this specific question: What are the positions of ASEAN members, individually and as a whole, regarding the SCS disputes? In the third part we attempt to explain ASEAN’s behaviour regarding the SCS issue aiming to answer these questions: Why has ASEAN failed to reach a common position, and how will the ASEAN Way affect the association’s future development, in security terms?

Understanding the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands Dispute: Diplomatic, Legal, and Strategic Contexts

Yoichiro Sato and Astha Chadha

The Senkaku Islands, controlled by Japan, are also claimed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which refers to them as the Diaoyu Dao, as well as the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan, which calls them the Diaoyutai Lieyu.[1] Japan’s administrative control at present is facing a growing challenge from the PRC’s Coast Guard and other naval assets. The tacit diplomatic stalemate, in which Beijing claims the islands but has neither brought an international legal case against Japan nor mounted a kinetic attempt to seize them that rises to the level of a casus belli, while Tokyo is refraining from enhancing its administrative control yet denies the existence of a dispute altogether, has continued to drift into competitive efforts over control of the islands in the post-Cold War period. This chapter discusses the Senkaku/Diaoyu island dispute between Japan and China and analyses it using aspects of territorial and maritime sovereignty, international law, natural resource exploration, and the role of the United States, as well as the geopolitical implications of the same. The Chinese attempt to keep the United States on the sidelines as a neutral party outside the conflict, while Japan’s lobbying of Washington attempts to clarify US commitment to the defense of the islands through the bilateral alliance. The Sino-US rivalry that has been growing since the administration of US President Barack Obama has favoured Japan’s desire for rhetorical US support, but Japan has concurrently built its own maritime forces in order to balance against the increasingly assertive Chinese activities.


John Spencer and Jayson Geroux

Any future war against a peer or near-peer enemy will contain some measure of urban combat. A broad base of historical, demographic, sociopolitical, and military analysis makes that fact abundantly clear. As a result, militaries must be required to conduct both urban offense and defense operations. Military theorists have long described the defense as the strongest form of war, and current doctrine agrees. There are many reasons why a military would need to go into the defense in a campaign—to create conditions for the offense and regain the initiative, to destroy the enemy outright, to retain decisive terrain, or simply to slow the advance of a numerically or technologically superior force. A well-planned and -constructed urban defense could determine the success or failure of achieving a strategic objective, and could influence the outcome of a war.

Unlike other environments, such as wooded or mountainous areas, urban terrain contains unique characteristics that allow for a very strong and lethal defense to be conducted. The density, construction, and complexity of man-made physical terrain in urban areas allows soldiers to rapidly use or shape the environment to further strengthen a defense plan. These plans should seek to break apart an attacking formation, separate mounted from dismounted forces, limit the attacker’s ability to maneuver, degrade military technologies like intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and aerial strike capabilities, maximize surprise, and either defeat the attackers in detail or buy time for other tactical, operational, and strategic actions.

Any military defending force must prepare to maximize its positions and plans. Doctrine is always a good place to start. We recommended any urban defender review the following doctrine before planning commences: Army Doctrinal Publication (ADP) 3-90, Offense and Defense, chapter 4, pages 4-1 to 4-18; Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 3-06, Urban Operations, chapter 5, pages 5-1 to 5-6; and Army Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (ATTP) 3-06.11, Combined Arms Operations in Urban Terrain, chapter 3, pages 3-1 to 3-14, and Chapter 6, pages 6-1 to 6-12. Thirty-eight pages in total, these selections offer the foundation planners need before executing an urban defense. Of course, the operational and mission variables for each urban defense—the type of urban terrain, resources available, time, and enemy—could differ greatly from one another. However, there are important general characteristics of successful defenses: preparation, security, disruption, massing effects, and flexibility; primary types of defenses such as area, mobile, and retrograde; sequencing; different schemes of maneuver such as an area defense of a block or group of buildings, defense of key terrain, and defense of an urban strongpoint; seven steps to engagement area development; and other critical information that should be reviewed before starting a defense operation to significantly increase a unit’s effectiveness.

Assessing Neutrality: The United States’ Role in the Diaoyu Islands Dispute

Alana Camoça Gonçalves de Oliveira

On 21 April 2014, then-US President Barack Obama declared in a joint press conference that the Diaoyu Islands (referred to as the Senkaku in Japan, and Diaoyutai in Taiwan) are subject to Article 5 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan – the article that commits the United States to defend Japan if it is attacked by a third party (Obama 2014). This was the first time that a sitting US president made this statement publicly, and openly challenged the traditional US position of not taking sides in territorial disputes. In fact, Obama continued to argue that the US does not take a position on the sovereignty of the Diaoyu islands, though it does take a position in ensuring that all countries follows basic international procedures in resolving their disputes peacefully. Nevertheless, the speech clearly identified China as a threat to international order, and that Washington would stand beside Tokyo to protect the islands, since Beijing was not acting in accordance with international rules and norms.

Even though the tensions over the Diaoyu Islands took centre stage in the international arena after the episodes of escalation in 2010–2012 – indeed, these tensions have been growing due to the increase of the Chinese presence in Japan’s territorial waters over the years – the origins of the disagreement can be better understood if one take into account not only their historical roots but how other major players have helped to shape the dispute. The origins of the dispute can be traced back to Japan’s imperialism in Asia in the late 19th century and the Japanese incorporation of the Ryukyu Kingdom, known today as Okinawa (Chen 2014; Shogo 2009). As for US involvement in the history of the dispute, it is possible to highlight three major events: (i) the Allied Forces’ occupation of Japan after the end of World War II and the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco, (ii) the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1971–1972 and (iii) the US’ Pivot to Asia strategy.

Political Front Lines: China's Pursuit of Influence in Africa

Nadège Rolland

Over the past five years, China’s overseas political influence activities have drawn increasing scrutiny in Western democracies in Oceania, North America, and Europe. Groundbreaking scholarly work by academics, media investigations by journalists, revelations of high-profile cases, and public warnings from intelligence agencies have led several governments to officially express concern over Chinese influence activities and to adopt measures to better defend themselves against unacceptable intrusions into their domestic social and political processes. This collective knowledge production has also allowed greater public awareness on what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) calls “united front work,” including its tactics, targets, objectives, proxies, and supporting bureaucracies. However, compared with the growing body of literature that is available on Chinese united front activities in advanced liberal democracies, very little attention has been devoted so far to understanding whether and how this sophisticated and sprawling system is deployed in the developing world. This report strives to fill this gap, by focusing specifically on China’s influence efforts in Africa.

Meeting China’s Military Challenge

Bates Gill

In this NBR report, leading experts from six countries—Australia, India, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam—define these countries’ perspectives on China’s military challenge and how, in partnership with the United States and each other, they can counterbalance China’s unwelcome advances.

Sino-Indian Border Dispute: A Brief Introduction

Mayuri Banerjee

The year 2020 marked the 70th anniversary of Sino-Indian relations and also became one of the watershed years in the history of bilateral ties between India and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Following disagreements between the two countries over territorial delineation and their armies setting up military posts in or near disputed areas, Chinese and Indian troops clashed fiercely at Galwan Valley near Ladakh on 15 June 2020, leading to the death of 20 Indian soldiers and an unidentified number of Chinese troops (BBC 2020). The localized conflict escalated rapidly into a full-blown crisis, with both sides deploying additional troops, missile launchers, and armed helicopters. By all appearances, China and India were on the brink of another war. Further escalation was prevented by a timely intervention by political and military officials, however, the brutality and magnitude of the violence witnessed during the few days that the crisis lasted has complicated the disengagement process, since neither country wanted to be seen as compromising on its national interests (Peri 2021). The Galwan Valley clash was significant for two reasons; first because it shattered the 1988 consensus of keeping the border dispute divorced from the broader relationship and repositioned the border dispute at the centre of bilateral ties, making diplomatic and economic relations contingent upon developments on the border (Vasudeva 2020). Second, the animosity exhibited by the two sides reversed years of hard-won diplomatic and political improvements that had strengthened cooperative structures, setting bilateral ties back years and placing the Sino-India relationship at crossroads where prospects for a major reset appear bleak. The first attribute is perhaps more damaging because the border dispute was already a major driving factor in Sino-Indian rivalry, and its increased prominence is likely to intensify feelings of hostility in New Delhi and Beijing. Moreover, as the existing bilateral border management framework appears to be severely compromised, the rise of border tensions portend a new era of uncertainty where bilateral interaction will be more adversarial, conflict-prone, and volatile.

China’s Strategic Thinking on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Island Dispute

Duan Xiaolin
In January 2021, the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) enacted the China Coast Guard Law. In Article 22, the law states that ‘when the national sovereignty, sovereign rights, or jurisdiction is being illegally violated at sea by a foreign organization or individual, or is in imminent danger of illegal violation, a coast guard agency shall have the power to take all necessary measures including the use of weapons to stop the violation and eliminate the danger.’ It also allows Chinese Coast Guard personnel to forcibly board noncompliant foreign vessels that they deem are ‘illegally’ engaged in economic activities in Chinese-claimed waters (Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress 2021). In response, Japanese government officials reinterpreted the existing laws on maritime rights enforcement, which granted the Japanese Coast Guard the authority to fire when foreign vessels aim to land personnel on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands (DSI). Before this, the Japanese Coast Guard was only allowed to use force in case of self-defence and emergency, subject to the defence-oriented provisions inherent in the pacifist constitution of Japan (Kaneko 2021). This regulatory escalation, with the potential to spur kinetic conflict, illustrates why the international community expressed concerns that China’s new law could be invoked to assert territorial claims in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and the spiral of distrust and rivalry among competing claimants could generate catastrophic impacts and continue the destabilisation of the region (Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative 2021).

29 June 2022

General Valery Gerasimov’s Great Ukrainian Disaster

Peter Layton

How did we end up here? We all thought Putin's modernized Russian army was ten feet tall and led by a General who, in military thinking circles, is a veritable rock star. What gives?

Chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, in 2013 wrote a famous article that with Russia’s 2014 capture of Crimea was seen as a how-to-guide for overthrowing governments in nearby countries. Russia would use social media and covert interference to turn the population against its government, use economic measures to make it poor, and diplomatic measures to make sure it had no friends. Right at the end of this long, drawn out process, a small Russian invading force would attack, inspiring the populace to rise up and mount a coup that would install a pliant leader.

Good in theory, and many bought the idea across the world.

Gerasimov’s regime change ideas have failed dismally in Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Russian fifth columnists inside Ukraine were quickly disarmed, the special force airborne assault on Hostomel airfield near Kyiv failed, Russia’s army was halted, and Ukraine became more united and determined.