30 September 2022

China's Strategy and Activities in the Arctic

Stephanie Pezard, Stephen J. Flanagan, Scott W. Harold

Although a non-Arctic state, China has become a significant player in the Arctic region, engaging in economic, scientific, cultural, diplomatic, and military activities in and around various Arctic countries. This report assesses the potential implications of Chinese investments and activities in the Arctic for the regional rules-based order and for regional and transatlantic security.

In this research, which was conducted as a collaborative effort between the RAND Corporation and the Swedish Defence Research Agency (Totalförsvarets Forskningsinstitut, or FOI), the authors evaluate China's strategy and diplomacy in the region and inventory existing activities in the North American Arctic (United States, Canada, and Greenland). Through such approaches as a scenario-based tabletop exercise, this study also takes a broader look beyond the Arctic region to better understand the types and characteristics of Chinese activities that have been problematic and potentially destabilizing in other parts of the world.

The authors assess how some of these activities could also arise in the Arctic—a region whose physical, political, economic, and social characteristics set it apart, in many ways, from the rest of the world. They advance five recommendations that the U.S. government—particularly the U.S. Department of Defense—in collaboration with international partners and indigenous populations could take to maintain and reinforce current factors of Arctic resilience and mitigate undesirable Chinese involvement in the region.

RAND Experts React to Putin's Latest Threatening Rhetoric

President Vladimir Putin of Russia appeared to double down today on his country's war effort in Ukraine, calling up hundreds of thousands of new troops, threatening Ukraine and the West, vowing to use “all the means at our disposal,” and pointing out that he is not bluffing.

Putin's remarks were met with condemnation from Western leaders and others. Here's what a few RAND experts had to say:

“The messaging … is clear. Putin is raising the stakes,” Samuel Charap, a senior political scientist at RAND, said in a tweet.

“When a leader has to say 'this is not a bluff,' he knows he has a credibility problem. I think it's fair to say that Russia has concluded its efforts to affect its adversaries' decisionmaking have failed. Their doctrine, FWIW, suggests upping the ante when that happens,” he added.

What’s Next for the India-France-UAE Trilateral?

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

India, France and the UAE held their first trilateral ministerial meetings on the sidelines of the 77th U.N. General Assembly session in New York last week. Among the prominent issues of discussion were deepening cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, with an emphasis on maritime security, regional infrastructure and connectivity, energy and food security as well as supply chain resilience. India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar tweeted that “A productive first trilateral Ministerial meeting of India-UAE-France” took place, with an “active exchange of ideas between strategic partners and the UNSC members.”

The ministerial meeting comes against the backdrop of an earlier meeting in New Delhi in July 2022. On July 28, there was a trilateral meeting of the focal points of India, France and the UAE. The three sides were represented by senior representatives from their respective foreign ministries – Sandeep Chakravorty, joint secretary (Europe West) and Vipul, joint secretary (Gulf) from India; Bertrand Lortholary, director (Asia and Oceania) and Emmanuel Suquet, deputy director (Middle East and North Africa) from the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs; and Ahmed Burhaima, deputy director of the Economic and Trade Affairs Department of the UAE Foreign Ministry, who led the discussions. The three sides discussed maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), blue economy, regional connectivity, cooperation in multilateral fora, energy and food security, innovation and startups, and supply chain resilience.

The Real Lesson From India’s Farm Laws Debacle

Aditya Srinivasan

When the government of India passed the three “Farm Laws” in 2020, it could scarcely have expected the scale of the protest that was to follow. The laws were an expression of a free-market logic applied to agriculture: Buyers and sellers could now transact with minimal middlemen, set market-determined prices, and gradually open up alternatives to the government’s Minimum Sale Price (MSP) regime. In crafting the laws, policymakers took for granted two seemingly obvious caveats: first, that middlemen and informal social networks were hindrances to farmers, and second, that the flexibility available would lead to expected gains in an open market.

The government worked in some critical protection mechanisms in Clauses 5 to 8, including the guarantee of a minimum price to be paid (not, however, the MSP – a guaranteed price paid to farmers each year to procure their produce), protection of sharecropper rights, advance payment stipulations, and protections against land takeovers. The laws appeared to represent the harmonious marriage of market-driven gain and the welfare state’s watchful oversight. Although no projections on expected gains were offered, the Farm Laws were meant to drive the government’s goal of doubling the income of farmers by 2022.

The End of Senior Politics in China

Zhuoran Li

Many China watchers consider institutionalization as the key to China’s political stability at the elite level since the 1980s. Andrew Nathan identified the institutionalization of power transitions as one of the main reasons behind China’s authoritarian resiliency. However, as Joseph Fewsmith has noted, what China scholars defined as political institutions in China are nothing more than norms. Since the Deng Xiaoping era, these norms have been constructed and guarded by senior figures in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), who are the main stabilizing force within the Party.

These seniors (元老) are retired national leaders who remain politically influential through their networks and proteges. They have historically played a significant role in Chinese politics by mediating elite conflicts, forging factional consensus, and setting the direction of policy. They played a vital role in personnel affairs by promoting followers, designating successors, and even deposing the top leader.

Russia’s Energy Game in Asia

Francesco Sassi

In September, the annual Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok, Russia, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, once again drew attention to Russia’s attempts to break away from its over-dependency on the West. Russia’s so-called Pivot to Asia, an as-yet largely unfulfilled quest for the Kremlin, has been accelerated by initiatives within these forums.

For Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Asia-Pacific countries emerged as new centers of economic and technological growth” and it is necessary for Russia to follow the Asia-Pacific trend, generating a new domestic economic drive and a palpable alternative to Russia’s subordination to Europe and the United States in several fields. Simultaneously, Asia has become the cradle “of new centers of power” in the world, where Moscow seeks respects for its sovereignty, national values, and interests.

To fully transform the country into a full-fledged Eurasian power and support Moscow’s current strategic goals, Russian energy resources have a critical role to play.

In Praise of Lesser Evils Can Realism Repair Foreign Policy?

Emma Ashford

It’s not a great time to be a realist. Although many prominent realist theorists of international relations correctly predicted the war in Ukraine, their focus on great-power politics over the rights of small states and their warnings about the risks of escalation have not been popular among the foreign policy commentariat. The insistence of some realists, chief among them John Mearsheimer, that the war is almost entirely the result of the structural factor of NATO’s expansion rather than the bellicosity of Russian President Vladimir Putin has not endeared realism to a broader public audience, either. According to the scholar Tom Nichols, the war in Ukraine has proved that “realism is nonsense.”

Some of this is just realism’s normal public relations problem when it comes to ethics and human rights. One of the main philosophical traditions of international politics, realism sees power and security as being at the center of the international system. Although the school of thought comes in a variety of flavors, nearly all realists agree on a few core notions: that states are guided primarily by security and survival; that states act on the basis of national interest rather than principle; and that the international system is defined by anarchy.

None of these notions are pleasant or popular. The realist Robert Gilpin once titled an article “No One Loves a Political Realist.” All too often, pointing out the harsh realities of international life or noting that states often act in barbaric ways is seen as an endorsement of selfish behavior rather than a simple diagnosis. As one of the school’s founding fathers, Hans Morgenthau, put it, realists may see themselves as simply refusing to “identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe.” But their critics often accuse them of having no morals at all, as the debate over Ukraine has shown.

Taiwan: Biden risks talking himself into a war he cannot win


The more often US President Joe Biden appears to abandon strategic ambiguity by saying quite clearly that America would go to war with China to defend Taiwan, the more difficult it becomes to dismiss what he says as a presidential fumble. That was not at all difficult the first time, especially when the White House moved so swiftly to affirm the US policy had not changed. It was harder to do the second and third times, because with each recurrence it became less plausible that Biden would continue to be so muddled on an issue of such importance. But it also seemed unlikely that the President would deliberately set himself up to be humiliatingly corrected by his own officials, as he was on each occasion when the White House issued the same “clarification”.

Now, with the fourth repetition, the “fumble” explanation has become frankly implausible, and we must tentatively conclude that the Biden administration has changed its declaratory policy on what is, perhaps, the most important foreign-policy question in the world today. They have half-abandoned the old policy by having Biden say one thing and his officials say another. They are deliberately creating ambiguity about whether strategic ambiguity is or is not still their policy. And they may even be calculatingly exploiting age-related doubts about the President’s mental acuity to do it.

he Army Is Sending Robotic Combat Vehicles to War

Kris Osborn

The U.S. Army is looking to use robots in future conflicts by placing them directly in the hands of soldiers during specific tactical situations.

During a recent Operational Soldier Evaluation at Fort Hood, Texas, Army units assessed the performance of new Robotic Combat Vehicle prototypes intended to extend the battlefield, greatly improve survivability, and introduce a new range of tactical possibilities for ground forces preparing for future war.

The Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicles, light, medium, and heavy, are emerging as prototype weapons platforms to be further developed for operational use. A key part of the Army’s development of new technologies involves testing them during combat circumstances to see how they operate.

The Army’s Javelin-Firing Robots Will Revolutionize Ground War

Kris Osborn

The U.S. Army is now firing Javelin anti-tank missiles from seven-ton robots capable of surveilling high-threat areas, finding and tracking enemies, and taking out targets when directed by a human.

In a recent Army demonstration at Fort Hood, Texas, soldiers fired Javelins and .50-caliber machine guns from robotic vehicle prototypes during a series of weapons development exercises.

“We just finished our second large-scale operational soldier evaluation done at Fort Hood, Texas. We had twelve robotic platforms with six control vehicles. It's a culmination of about four years of activity. This really, really is a huge learning opportunity for the Army to understand how combat robotics can inform future decisions on how we buy material and how we fight,” Kevin Mills, the deputy executive director of ground vehicle intelligent systems at the Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center, told the National Interest in an interview.

WHO: Ability to Track Covid Variants ‘Diminishing’ Amid Testing Declines

Ethen Kim Lieser

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday sounded the alarm that it is struggling to identify and track Covid variants primarily due to countries rolling back testing and surveillance, CNBC reported.

“Our ability to track variants and subvariants around the world is diminishing because surveillance is declining,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, told reporters during a briefing in Geneva, adding that the virus is still circulating at an “incredibly intense level” across the world.

“That limits our ability to assess the known variants and subvariants but also our ability to track and identify new ones,” she continued.

Meanwhile, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned about the “ever present risk of more dangerous variants emerging.” He added that “the pandemic is not over but the end is in sight.”

In the Digital Age, Retrenchment May Not Make America Safer

Ivan Arreguin-Toft

As a scholar of cybersecurity strategy and policy chairing a workshop panel at Brasenose College, Oxford, last month, I was struck by the degree to which the panelist’s debates on great power competition and international security remained disproportionately mired in material considerations, and in the lessons of past great power shifts in the international system. I say “disproportionately” because material power—the power to kill and maim, ranging from rifles to thermonuclear weapons—remains a critical consideration in international politics. But I believe that in debates about U.S. retrenchment from the Middle East, non-material considerations, specifically cyber power, matter as much or more.

The United States sees the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as an emerging existential threat. This is not because China’s economy is poised to overtake the United States as the world’s largest or because its military continues to expand in size and increase in capabilities at an unprecedented rate (a feat only equaled by the United States from 1942 onward). Instead, it is because both of these advances in power are being led by a dictatorship—a place where any criticism of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is a crime punishable by imprisonment, torture, or even death.

American Innovation Can Counter China’s BRI

Elaine Dezenski John Simon Allie Dichiara

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was launched in 2013 as a trillion-dollar mega strategy to build infrastructure and influence across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America. The BRI is a central aspect of President Xi Jinping’s vision for an ascendant China. It is meant to strengthen economic, political, and military linkages to Beijing through development, especially across the Global South.

However, less than ten years since its launch, the veneer has peeled off the BRI facade. It’s time for a reset. The United States can offer a better citizen-centric model for infrastructure development by leveraging American innovation and know-how.

Reports of large-scale corruption, waste, and opacity in BRI infrastructure deals are no longer surprising. As more examples come to light—from roads to nowhere to empty ports, stadiums, and large-scale digital surveillance—Beijing reveals something very important about the BRI. It seems to advantage China and the few officials who make the deals rather than the people who badly need economic security, health, and connectivity.

Putin’s Nuclear Threats Are Reaching Beyond Ukraine

Lasha Tchantouridze

As Russian troops suffer setbacks on the battlefields of Ukraine, the Kremlin is more likely to use extraordinary measures to stop the deterioration of the Russian military. Such measures may range from using the winter season as a weapon to employing nuclear weapons. The current partial mobilization of the armed forces is the first step in the new phase of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The stakes for Moscow in this war are much higher than the setbacks caused by the lost battles. Historically, lost wars in Russia have been followed by severe national crises often accompanied by internally generated regime changes. To avert this eventuality, the Kremlin has to avoid further losses, solidify its gains in southeastern and southern Ukraine, and force Kyiv and its Western supporters to recognize Moscow’s war gains by ceasing hostilities and signing a peace agreement.

What Does Russia’s ‘Partial Mobilization’ Mean?

Mark F. Cancian

Vladimir Putin’s announcement of partial mobilization on September 21 signaled a major escalation of the war and caught the world’s attention. Putin was forced to do this because of battlefield reverses and a shortage of personnel. Other sources of personnel are drying up. Many commentators have pointed to training and equipment challenges, which will be real, but not insurmountable. Mobilization will not turn the tide of war, but may allow Putin to implement his political strategy, which is to outlast the Europeans. What is uncertain is whether Russian popular opposition to mobilization will derail military plans. In any case, Ukraine has a window of opportunity for battlefield success before these mobilized troops arrive.

What Russia Is Doing

Today our armed forces . . . are fighting on the line of contact that is over 1,000 kilometers long, fighting not only against neo-Nazi units but actually the entire military machine of the collective West. . . . I find it necessary to support the proposal of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff on partial mobilization in the Russian Federation to defend our Motherland and its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to ensure the safety of our people and people in the liberated territories. . . . Only military reservists, primarily those who served in the armed forces and have specific military occupational specialties and corresponding experience, will be called up. Before being sent to their units, those called up for active duty will undergo mandatory additional military training based on the experience of the special military operation.

Inside the Ukrainian Counterstrike That Turned the Tide of the War


It would be easy to underestimate Valeriy Zaluzhny. When not in uniform, the general prefers T-shirts and shorts that match his easygoing sense of humor. When he first heard from aides to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in late July 2021 that he was being tapped to lead the country’s armed forces, his stunned response was, “What do you mean?” As it sank in that he would become commander in chief, he tells TIME in his first interview since the Russian invasion began, he felt as if he had been punched “not just below the belt but straight into a knockout.” George Patton or Douglas MacArthur he is not.

Yet when the history of the war in Ukraine is written, Zaluzhny is likely to occupy a prominent role. He was part of the Ukrainian brass who spent years transforming the country’s military from a clunky Soviet model into a modern fighting force. Hardened by years of battling Russia on the eastern front, he was among a new generation of Ukrainian leaders who learned to be flexible and delegate decisions to commanders on the ground. His dogged preparation in the run-up to the invasion and savvy battlefield tactics in the early phases of the war helped the nation fend off the Russian onslaught. “Zaluzhny has emerged as the military mind his country needed,” U.S. General Mark Milley wrote for TIME of his counterpart last May. “His leadership enabled the Ukrainian armed forces to adapt quickly with battlefield initiative against the Russians.”

Putin May Have Decided To Mobilize To Avoid Threats From The Rise Of Private Military Companies – OpEd

Paul Goble

Less than a week before Vladimir Putin announced his partial mobilization to fill the ranks of the Russian army in Ukraine, Moscow analyst Mikhail Pozharsky suggested one reason that the Kremlin leader might decide to so now: concern about the political implications of private military formations for his own political future.

As the Russian analyst points out, at least since Max Weber, it has been common ground that the state having a monopoly on the legitimate use of force is part of what defines modernity. Most governments seek to maintain that monopoly as long as they are can lest these forces turn on them (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6324036D25933&section_id=50A6C962A3D7C).

In most cases, in fact, Pozharsky says, states who do turn to the widespread use of private military companies at home or abroad do so either because they want to remain covert or because they are too weak to maintain the monopoly of force modern countries do. When maintaining cover isn’t the goal, then the use of such forces is a sign of weakness.

Musk says he’s ‘activating Starlink’ in Iran as its government blocks the internet to stop spreading protests


Elon Musk said he would activate his Starlink satellite internet service in Iran in response to news that the U.S. Treasury would grant special permission for companies to provide internet services to the country.

Iranians are suffering widespread internet outages as Iran’s government tries to quell widespread antigovernment protests. Authorities have blocked access to services like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Skype. (Other foreign social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok were already blocked.)

Iran’s protests began on Sept. 16 after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested by the country’s “morality police” for violating rules on dress code. Amini’s death sparked widespread demonstrations, as Iranians vented frustrations with the country’s dress code, limits to personal freedoms, and economic stagnation.

Big Tech Has No Constitutional Right to Censor

Allysia Finley

Social-media stocks have taken a beating this year, but it’s nothing compared with the smack-down their companies have recently received in court. “We reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared in its Sept. 16 decision upholding Texas’s anticensorship law.

The legal fight over whether states can restrict such behavior could soon be headed to the Supreme Court, as Florida last week appealed an 11th Circuit ruling that struck down its anticensorship law.

Social-media companies are also asking the justices to provide desperately needed constitutional clarity. They argue, in short, that removing user content from their platforms is an exercise of editorial judgment and expression protected by the First Amendment. Ergo, states can’t tell them they can’t censor.

Not so fast, writes the Fifth Circuit’s Judge Andrew Oldham for a divided three-judge panel in an excoriating 90-page opinion. Texas’ law prohibits large social-media platforms from blocking speech based on viewpoint. So users couldn’t be deplatformed by Twitter for professing skepticism of vaccines or climate change. Nor could YouTube demonetize such videos.

The People's Liberation Army Conference

Roy D. Kamphausen

The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) began its partnership with the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) on the PLA Conference in the spring of 2005, when retired U.S. Army colonel Larry Wortzel invited NBR to assume the role of SSI’s conference partner from the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. As an institution, NBR leaped at the opportunity, as the chance to work on the premier conference studying the People’s Liberation Army was one not to be missed. And for me, a retired U.S. Army China foreign area officer (FAO), the ensuing fifteen years would prove to be a professional privilege of the highest order.

The end of this partnership—and era—with the 2020 conference and accompanying edited volume Enabling a More Externally Focused and Operational PLA, published in July 2022, provides an opportunity to assess developments in the PLA and the field of PLA studies over that intervening period. This essay begins with a short history of the Carlisle PLA Conference, details the changes the conference has experienced over the past decade and a half, examines the regional and strategic environment that has been the backdrop for the conference series, underscores some of the highlights of the work, and concludes with key questions going forward as the PLA Conference enters a new era.


The Carlisle PLA Conference was largely due to the vision of Ambassador Jim Lilley. From his perspective, the PLA—an organization that had forcibly cleared Tiananmen Square on June 3–4, 1989, while he was U.S. ambassador in Beijing, killing hundreds, if not thousands, of Chinese in the process—merited intensive study by Western observers. Lilley’s initiative was infused with his indefatigable drive and built on earlier and smaller-scale efforts in the Washington, D.C., area organized by PLA specialists from academia, the military, and intelligence organizations. In gratitude for his seminal role, we dedicated the 2010 volume, The PLA at Home and Abroad: Assessing the Operational Capabilities of China’s Military, to him after he passed away in 2009, with a foreword written by the president he served so well, George H. W. Bush.

China Could Decide Now Is The Time For War With America

James Holmes

Will a ‘Peak’ China decide now is the time for war with America: Hal Brands and Michael Beckley have breaking news from 1832! Namely that it sometimes makes sense for the weak to pick a fight with the strong. No less an authority than Carl von Clausewitz affirms it. Suppose, postulates Clausewitz, a weaker contender “is in conflict with a much more powerful one and expects its position to grow weaker every year. If war is unavoidable, should it not make the most of its opportunities before its position gets still worse? In short, it should attack . . . .”

Verily, Clausewitz is a man for all seasons. If you know important trendlines are turning against you—if you expect your strategic standing vis-à-vis your antagonist to be worse next year than this—then he advises you to strike now. Otherwise, you’ll get less than you might. Your window of opportunity might even slam shut by next year.

Such a now-or-never calculus makes for a combustible atmosphere. The challenge before America is to deter China from striking a match.


Benjamin Jebb and Laura Jones

Our guests begin by addressing the various ways the US government defines irregular warfare, drawing from their unique areas of expertise. They continue by discussing the interplay between nations and nonstate actors—and how sovereign states are increasingly adopting methods traditionally employed by irregular actors to achieve their larger geopolitical aims. Finally, they conclude by reflecting on different frameworks that strategic- and operational-level professionals can use to plan, implement, and evaluate IW campaigns more effectively.

Dr. Thomas Marks is a distinguished professor and serves as the Major General Edward G. Lansdale chair of irregular warfighting strategy at the National Defense University. He has authored hundreds of publications on warfare and in July 2020 published a monograph entitled Crafting Strategy for Irregular Warfare: A Framework for Analysis and Action. This piece, which serves as the foundation for our conversation, offers an analytical construct for planning irregular warfare operations.


Matthew Moellering 

According to the 2020 Irregular Warfare Annex to the National Defense Strategy, the United States is underprepared to counter irregular warfare; the dawn of the AI age compounds this problem. As AI continues to transform human society by fundamentally changing how people experience reality, US adversaries are already using it to augment their forces, conventional and unconventional alike.

To win, the United States will need to both combat AI-enabled adversaries and find creative ways to get its forces running at machine speed using AI. To effectively conduct irregular warfare in the AI age, the US military must adapt its doctrine and training to address these AI-enabled threats.

AI Has Already Changed Irregular Warfare

The AI age is here, and the technologies associated with it are already making it harder to conduct irregular warfare. China has outpaced current US ability to integrate defense and AI by coercing civilian companies to develop dual-use technologies through “military-civil fusion.” As the US Department of Defense makes critical bets on how it will support a high-tech conventional war with emerging technologies that do not yet exist, the US irregular warfare community is already feeling the impact of AI in the competition phase. AI-enabled facial recognition technology, for example, has affected the intelligence community’s ability to protect informants, challenging one of its core competencies.

Artificial Intelligence Reduces A 100,000-Equation Quantum Physics Problem To Only Four Equations

Using artificial intelligence, physicists have compressed a daunting quantum problem that until now required 100,000 equations into a bite-size task of as few as four equations — all without sacrificing accuracy. The work, published in the September 23 issue of Physical Review Letters, could revolutionize how scientists investigate systems containing many interacting electrons. Moreover, if scalable to other problems, the approach could potentially aid in the design of materials with sought-after properties such as superconductivity or utility for clean energy generation.

“We start with this huge object of all these coupled-together differential equations; then we’re using machine learning to turn it into something so small you can count it on your fingers,” says study lead author Domenico Di Sante, a visiting research fellow at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Quantum Physics (CCQ) in New York City and an assistant professor at the University of Bologna in Italy.

The formidable problem concerns how electrons behave as they move on a gridlike lattice. When two electrons occupy the same lattice site, they interact. This setup, known as the Hubbard model, is an idealization of several important classes of materials and enables scientists to learn how electron behavior gives rise to sought-after phases of matter, such as superconductivity, in which electrons flow through a material without resistance. The model also serves as a testing ground for new methods before they’re unleashed on more complex quantum systems.

India: Fall Of A Maoist Bastion In Bihar-Chhattisgarh-Jharkhand – Analysis

Deepak Kumar Nayak

On September 21, 2022, Union Home Minister (UHM) Amit Shah congratulated the Government Forces for freeing Buddha Pahad in Jharkhand, after almost three decades of Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) dominance, and tweeted,

In another tweet, he said,

“For the first time, permanent camps of security forces have been established by successfully removing Maoists from the inaccessible areas of Buddha Pahad, Chakrabandha and Bhimabandh. Under the leadership of @narendramodi ji, the policy of zero tolerance of the Ministry of Home Affairs against terrorism and LWE will continue and this fight will intensify further. “

Buddha Pahad is a 55-square kilometer forested area at the tri-junction of Latehar and Garhwa Districts in Jharkhand and Balrampur in neighbouring Chhattisgarh; the extremely inaccessible forested areas of Chakrabandha is scattered across Gaya and Aurangabad Districts; and Bhimabandh is located in the Munger District of Bihar. The three had long been described as the ‘Terror Axis region’, which the Maoists had dominated for the last three decades due to its topography.

The Russian-Ukrainian War Triggers An Energy Revolution – Analysis

Anton Antonenko

(FPRI) — As the first sounds of Russian missiles woke up people in various Ukrainian cities and towns in the early morning of February 24, 2022, they also marked a significant watershed in the history of energy. The fact that Russia started an unfair and unjustified war of aggression in the middle of Europe became a perfect end to a long-played Russian strategy in which it pretended to act as a standard oil and gas business simply interested in profit. Instead, as the war in Ukraine and its shutting down gas supplies to Europe in recent months demonstrates, the Kremlin always considered its energy supplies as a weapon that could be used in a crisis.

In the energy sector, tectonic changes usually take time—the energy transformation in Europe is now going at lightning speed. This winter can become the last when Russia can still influence the global energy agenda.

Russian Energy and Ukraine

Before 2022, Russia often applied its energy leverage over Ukraine. Russians offered price discounts and favorable conditions for purchasing gas in exchange for political loyalty and making “right” political decisions. Russia punished the country’s leadership that dared not to agree to its terms by creating energy crises, blackmailing with higher gas prices, and withholding supplies. Of course, Russia has long had sympathetic friends among political and commercial elites in Ukraine and EU member states. A key recruitment tool was for Russian energy companies to hire retired high-level politicians from target countries.

How To Strengthen US Deterrence And Weaken Attempts Of Rival Nuclear Coercion – Analysis

Rebeccah L. Heinrichs

On February 24, 2022, Russia started the largest European war since 1945 as it intensified its invasion of Ukraine to a new level and threatened escalation to nuclear war. Though Vladimir Putin has not detonated a nuclear weapon, he used, and continues to use,1 his nuclear arsenal to threaten the United States and other NATO nations against continuing to support Ukraine’s defense. Through pre-invasion nuclear saber-rattling, verbally threatening to employ nuclear weapons on the battlefield,3 and putting such weapons on alert,4 Russia caused President Joe Biden and his administration to declare repeatedly their fears of “World War III”5 and to adopt a gradual, highly cautious approach to helping Ukraine. The White House has chosen to provide only weapons suitable for operations to allow Ukraine to achieve some tactical victories and prevent Russia from a quick and final victory,6 but this aid does not allow Ukraine to achieve and sustain the military victories necessary to win the war.7

Thus, Russia appears to have successfully used nuclear threats to deter the United States from certain actions that are on lower levels on the spectrum of escalation, enabling itself to control escalation8 to serve its aims. Russia’s explicit and implicit nuclear threats deterred US officials from providing Ukraine with real-time targeting data and heavy artillery early in the war9 and electronic warfare capabilities later in the war.10The nuclear threats also caused US officials to press Ukraine not to hit Russian targets deep behind Russian lines.11Russian officials have ample grounds to conclude that their nuclear coercion has affected the course of the war in their favor.

China’s Xi reemerges after trip abroad quashing unfounded ‘coup’ rumors

Nectar Gan

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has made his first public appearance since returning from a trip to Central Asia, quashing unfounded rumors of a “coup” that sparked a frenzy of speculation ahead of a key Communist Party meeting.

Xi on Tuesday visited an exhibition in Beijing showcasing China’s achievements over his decade in power, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

On the network’s flagship evening newscast, Xi was shown wearing a face mask and viewing the displays at the Beijing Exhibition Hall – where photos of himself featured heavily. He was accompanied by Premier Li Keqiang and other top leaders, including all members of the party’s supreme Politburo Standing Committee.

Xi had not been seen in public since returning to Beijing from a regional summit in Uzbekistan on September 16. The visit was his first foreign trip in nearly 1,000 days since the beginning of the pandemic.

Battlefield Hotlines Let U.S. Military Keep Ukraine’s Weapons Firing

Nancy A. Youssef and Stephen Kalin

ON A MILITARY BASE, Poland—Near where weapons and equipment donated by the U.S. and other allies cross the border into Ukraine, a group of 55 U.S. troops and translators on iPads fielded repair queries about weapons that are already on the battlefield, via secure chat apps.

There are 14 chats for each major weapon system, forming a makeshift wartime telemaintenance network for fighters who are using weapons well beyond the limits for which they were designed.

Photos of barrels worn down by repeated firings arrived over chat from Ukrainians asking how to make the ordnance more accurate even with rifling stripped away. Front-line soldiers sent videos asking how to salvage weapons that otherwise would be considered irreparable and what fixes were needed to keep them working.

China becomes ‘hothouse’ of intrigue ahead of crucial Communist party congress

Helen Davidson

Purges of senior officials and unfounded rumours of military coups in Beijing have fed into feverish speculation ahead of a key meeting of China’s ruling party next month, when president Xi Jinping is expected to be granted an unprecedented third term.

The jailing of a clique of senior security officials for corruption, followed by days of strange and quickly dispelled rumours of Xi being under house arrest, have fuelled what one analyst called a “hothouse” environment mired in secrecy and suspicion.

Last week, a Chinese court jailed the former vice-minister of public security Sun Lijun, the former justice minister Fu Zhenghua, and former police chiefs of Shanghai, Chongqing and Shanxi on corruption charges. Fu and the police chiefs had been accused of being part of a political clique surrounding Sun, and being disloyal to Xi.

The round-up was one of the biggest Chinese political purges in years, and came just weeks before the Chinese Communist party’s (CCP) most important political meeting – the twice a decade party congress – where the political elite are reshuffled around the various positions of power in the one-party state.

Xi is expected to be reappointed as leader of the party and military commission at the meeting, after he abolished the two-term limit in 2018 and waged a years-long anti-corruption campaign that also targeted many political opponents.

On Sunday state media announced the list of CCP central committee delegates, numbering almost 2,300, had been finalised. Xi’s inclusion on the list further refuted social media rumours that had been swirling since Saturday of a military coup. The unfounded claims – accompanied by unsourced videos of military vehicles and based mostly on mass flight cancellations – were debunked, but not before it began trending on Twitter.

There was no specific mention of the coup rumours on China’s social media, but a Weibo hashtag related to “airports across the country cancel flights” was viewed by more than 200,000 people over the weekend.

Drew Thompson, a scholar with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said a coup in China wasn’t entirely implausible, and Xi had reportedly shown concern about the prospect in the past, but the weekend’s rumours looked more like “wishful thinking”. They appeared to originate in accounts associated with the Falun Gong movement, which Thompson said was “essentially not credible”.

“The rumour that Xi Jinping has been arrested has legs because it is such a sensitive political moment in China, and the recent trials (and convictions) of long-serving senior officials creates a hothouse atmosphere,” he said on Twitter.
Chinese president Xi Jinping Photograph: Sergei Bobylev/AP

Thompson, who is also a former US state department official, told the Guardian the Falun Gong media often exaggerated or highlighted their opposition to Xi and the CCP in their reporting. “In this case those themes they have highlighted and reported on for a long time suddenly broke into the mainstream.”

Other analysts like Sinocism author, Bill Bishop, said he thought the rumours were “BS” but the “inherent opacity” of the CCP mechanisms easily fuelled their spread.

The party congress is a secretive process of power distribution, with the most senior positions not announced until the final day. Government control of the domestic narrative and crushing of dissent has intensified in recent weeks as the meeting approaches.

Xi has been absent from the public eye since he returned to China from the SCO Summit in Uzbekistan last weekend. Observers said he is likely to be quarantining.

“I think the fact this rumour spread so far, and was considered plausible enough to analyse is really a reflection of an underlying shortcoming of Chinese governance,” said Thompson.

“It really is a story about the opaqueness and the uncertainty around high-level Chinese succession. If you look back through history, to 1949, succession between top leaders has been fraught. Hu Jintao was the first successful transition of power where no one was imprisoned or died … Xi Jinping has created an entirely new paradigm where no successor has been identified, which raises questions about what would succession look like if it was unplanned or uncontrolled?”

China’s government has not responded to the rumours, but public security authorities were among those posting under the hashtag “the truth about large-scale cancellation of flights across the country”, disputing the significance of the cancellations which they said was normal for the pandemic.

The party congress begins on 16 October. The event, in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, is closed to the public but is the most important date on the CCP’s five-year political cycle. There is speculation that Xi could further consolidate power with the promotion of stronger allies to senior positions, and that the party will resurrect the “people’s leader” title, not used since Mao Zedong.

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29 September 2022

Oversight Of Nuclear-Weapons Contractors' Cyber Practices Has Been ‘Inconsistent’: GAO


The National Nuclear Security Administration and its contractors failed to fully implement six foundational cybersecurity risk practices in its IT environments, according to a Government Accountability Office report released on Thursday. That includes standard and operational computer systems for manufacturing equipment, building control, and those that are “in contact with” nuclear weapons.

The NNSA fully implemented four of six cybersecurity risk management practices based on guidance from the Office of Management and Budget, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Committee on National Security Systems, the GAO found. And it partially implemented two others—developing and maintaining an organization-wide continuous monitoring strategy and documenting cybersecurity program policies and plans.

NNSA contractors are required to oversee their subcontractors’ cybersecurity measures, the efforts to do that were “mixed,” according to the report, with three of the seven contractors denying that doing so was a contractual responsibility.

Ukraine Predicts “Massive” Russian Cyber Assault

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense’s Main Directorate of Intelligence has predicted an increase in attacks originating from Russia against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, such as the energy industry. This prediction was made on the basis that as it gets colder and winter approaches, Russia will target the energy sector to impact civilians and threaten their security. Kyiv has warned that the Russian government is currently planning a new cyberattack campaign against Ukraine an dits allies. If intelligence gathered by Ukraine is accurate, the campaign could look similar to the series of devastating attacks that occurred in 2015 and 2016 when the Kremlin targeted Ukrainian facilities and left hundreds of civilians without power.

Kyiv has also confirmed that its experiences from responding to previous incidents targeting is critical infrastructure will help the country to prepare for the predicted assault. Ukraine energy providers are preparing for more attacks using both destructive and wiper malware. In April of this year, Microsoft claimed that the country had already suffered from 230 cyberattack campaigns. The Baltic states should also be prepared for an onslaught of cyberattacks as Russia ramps up its efforts.

Why the capture of a Russian T-90M tank matters

Ukraine’s rapid offensive in Kharkiv, in the country’s north-east, brought many prizes. Swathes of territory have been won back and Ukraine’s army captured around a brigade’s worth of military equipment from the fleeing Russians. One of the greatest surprises uncovered was a single t-90m tank. It is one of at least 380 Russian tanks seized since the war began, yet it is uniquely useful. What is the t-90m tank, and why does it matter?

Seizing a weapon can provide valuable insight into the state of an enemy’s military technology. That makes countries protective of their weapons in war. American efforts to inspect the t-72 throughout the Cold War backfired on several occasions, until a rogue Romanian arms dealer sold one to American agents in 1987, supposedly as scrap metal. The deal was later uncovered and made public by the kgb. The prized t-72 had been in service for 14 years before America finally had a chance to inspect it, by which time it had already been superseded. By contrast, the t-90m has been in service for just two years.

Heavy-Hitting American Tanks Like the M1 Abrams Are ‘On the Table’ for Ukraine’s Army


For the first time, U.S. officials stated last week that advanced, Western-style tanks are “absolutely on the table” for Ukraine. The statement is a reversal of policy that meant mostly defensive weapons would be provided to the beleaguered Eastern European country, now in its seventh month warding off a Russian invasion. Modern tanks, like the American M1 Abrams, would allow Ukraine to take back most (if not all) of its territory lost to Russian forces.

In a discussion on September 19 with Pentagon reporters, a reporter for NPR mentioned that a Ukrainian delegation had visited Washington D.C. and pushed for the U.S. government to provide tanks to Ukraine. A senior defense official replied that the Biden Administration was constantly looking at what Ukraine needed at that particular moment, and also what it would need further down the road. “Tanks are absolutely on the table along with other areas,” the unnamed official said.

The Ukrainian Army Reportedly Destroyed Another Russian Division

David Axe

Three weeks ago, the Ukrainian army’s northeastern counteroffensive dismantled one of the Russian army’s elite units: the 1st Guards Tank Army.

Now the same counteroffensive reportedly has wrecked a new motorized infantry division the Kremlin stood up a few years ago in order to help protect the 1st GTA. After suffering steep losses around Bakhmut in recent days, it’s possible the 144th Guards Motor Rifle Division no longer is combat-effective.

These losses are unsustainable for the Russian army—and explain why the Kremlin is willing to risk widespread unrest as it forcibly drafts 300,000 men and speeds them to the Ukrainian front line with as little as a day of training. The professional Russian army is disintegrating.

The Russian army formed the 144th Guards Motor Rifle Division and a companion division specifically for war in Ukraine. Together, the two divisions make up the 20th Combined Arms Army. On paper, the 20th CAA oversees more than 20,000 troops riding in 560 BMP fighting vehicles and 300 T-72 tanks.

Ukraine said Russian troops brought parade uniforms to Kyiv, expecting a quick triumph that never came


Russian soldiers advancing on Kyiv brought parade uniforms with them, seeming to expect a victory in less than two days, a Ukrainian army official said on Thursday.

The official said the soldiers left them behind when withdrawing from the Kyiv area, after weeks of trying without success to take the Ukrainian capital.

The claim was made in a briefing for media by Oleksandr Hruzevych, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Command of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Hruzevych said that the uniforms were found in abandoned Russian military vehicles in the areas around Kyiv that were recently retaken.

Immigration, the Economy and the Italian Election

George Friedman

Italy elected a hard-right party in parliamentary elections held over the weekend. The result indicates that Italians are unhappy with the country’s reality. Italy has the third-largest economy in the European Union, after Germany and France, and its economic and social realities are very different from the Continent’s other top-tier countries in the sense that its economy is less productive and generates more debt. Italians believe, with some reason, that the European Central Bank is pursuing monetary policies that benefit Germany, which wants to maintain the value of the euro as a net creditor. Italy favors a very different policy of cheap money, a reasonable preference considering it’s a net debtor. A single European bank can’t serve both interests, nor can it readily split the difference. But given Germany’s size, its economic performance is a massive component of Europe’s financial well-being, meaning the ECB must support the German position.

Logic dictates that Italy would elect a hard oppositional government that sees the ECB as a threat to Italian prosperity. It has long been our position that the tension between Italy and Germany over monetary policy would represent the largest threat, perhaps a lethal one, to the European Union. Given the coming winter, European politicians will be protecting the interests of their own voters, and therefore following divergent policies. The ECB will not be able to harmonize the economies of Europe, and if the Russian embargo persists, competition between nations will be intense. The EU was created to ensure peace and prosperity, as its motto proclaims. Peace is shaky, and prosperity is slipping away. The Italian election signals a crisis.

Inclusion, inequality, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in Africa

Louise Fox and Landry Signé

Adoption of Fourth-Industrial-Revolution (4IR) technologies in sub-Saharan Africa could bring not only substantial economic growth and welfare benefits, but also social and economic disruption, including widening inequality if countervailing policies are not adopted, as discussed in our recent report. With a high share of the labor force working informally—a trend expected to continue for several decades—Africa’s education and industrial policies need to strike a balance between encouraging private investment needed to create new formal jobs using advanced technology and ensuring that all new labor force entrants have the basic skills and infrastructure to make an adequate living.

Much has been written about the current and potential disruptive effects in advanced economies, of the suite of new technologies called the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)—a group of technologies that fuse digital, biological, and physical innovation in applications such as advanced robotics using artificial intelligence, CRISPR digital gene editing, and the networks of sensors and computers called the Internet of Things. Studies estimated that globally in the manufacturing sector alone, 4IR technologies could create 133 million jobs by the end of 2022, but displace 75 million jobs, leading to a net gain of 58 million jobs.