30 November 2022

Cyber Operations During Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine in 2022

Nurlan Aliyev

Russia has been known as a capable actor in conducting a wide range of cyber espionage and sabotage operations since the 1990s. Russia also conducted several cyber-attacks on Ukraine before the invasion in 2022. One of the most sophisticated operations was blacking out Kyiv in 2016. At midnight, a week before Christmas, hackers struck an electric transmission station north of the city of Kyiv, blacking out a portion of the Ukrainian capital equivalent to a fifth of its total power capacity. According to experts, it was the first real-world malware that attacked physical infrastructure since Stuxnet.

However, although Russia has conducted several cyber-attacks on Ukraine since the start of the invasion in 2022, it has not flagged up any strikingly successful Russian CW operations up to now. In this respect, a question is whether Russia has not used its sophisticated cyber capabilities in the war yet, or the cyber defence quality of Ukraine and its allies has helped blunt them. This commentary aims to explore these problems.

Is Germany Sick Again?


MUNICH – Say what you will about Russian President Vladimir Putin, but his war on Ukraine did open European eyes to some long-underrated truths. One is that even after more than 70 years of relative peace on the continent, neglecting military security poses grave dangers. Another is that the “green dream” of modern economies powered exclusively by renewable energies remains out of reach – and reliable access to cheap energy supplies remains essential.

While the first truth became starkly apparent as soon as Russian troops crossed into Ukraine on February 24, the second has only gradually penetrated public awareness. In fact, many have called for an embargo on European imports of Russian gas, arguing that this would not only undermine Russia’s ability to wage its war, but also accelerate progress toward green Nirvana – all at minimal cost to Europe in terms of lost GDP.

The Flawed Discourse Over the War in Ukraine

Paul R. Pillar

Questions surrounding U.S. policy toward the Russo-Ukrainian War provide ample grounds for debate. The war has presented Washington and its Western allies with difficult decisions and unavoidable tradeoffs. The commendable urge to support Ukraine's courageous resistance against a ruthless invasion must be coupled with recognition that Ukraine’s national interests are not identical to those of its supporters. The principle of not letting naked aggression be rewarded needs to be balanced against the risk of escalation into a wider war. Additionally, aid to Ukraine involves resource tradeoffs, and keeping states in an anti-Russian posse may conflict with other things the United States wants from the countries concerned.

Although any policy on the subject will give commentators something to object to, a policy is most likely to be sound if it is based on a public debate that employs clear and correct conceptions of how military operations and diplomacy relate to each other in war. In this respect, the debate in the United States has displayed several recurrent deficiencies as it has developed over the past nine months.

How Houthi Drone Attacks Boosted Russia’s War in Ukraine

Michael Horowitz

The first sign that Russia was using Iranian-made drones in Ukraine emerged this September. Ukrainian soldiers reported that a Shahed-136 “suicide drone” was employed for the first time to target military positions in an area recently recaptured from Russia near the northeastern city of Kupyansk. Weeks later, Russia used those drones to carry out several waves of attacks against Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, materializing fears that Iran’s drones were on their way to Russia for use in the war.

The use of Iranian-made drones against a European capital came as a shock to the West, but it is the direct consequence of a lenient approach to Iran’s drone and ballistic missile programs, both of which have been honed through years of attacks, particularly in Yemen. By targeting countries throughout the Gulf, the Houthis, Iran’s local proxy in Yemen, have provided the Islamic Republic with a battlefield to test new weapons against relatively sophisticated air defenses. Now, those same weapons are being used to hammer the Ukrainian homefront, thousands of kilometers away from Iran and Yemen.

Will China Seek to Exploit Its Rare-Earth Dominance?

Marina Yue Zhan

At a recent Advancing AUKUS Plus conference in Canberra, Australia’s former defense minister Kim Beazley noted that “3,400 American weapons systems have Chinese rare earth components, and it is imperative to break the dependence of Western democracies on China.” In addition to weapons, China’s rare earths are critical elements not only in smartphones and aircraft engines, but also in electric vehicles, wind turbines, and other new energy machinery.

What are these rare earths? They are a group of seventeen metallic elements that are abundant in nature and are essential to future technologies. However, extracting, smelting, separating, and processing these elements is a capital- and labor-intensive industry. At the moment, China dominates the supply chain. In 2021, it accounted for about 60 percent of global production of final rare earth compounds, and held about 37 percent of the known natural reserves. Since 2018, it has become the largest rare earth importer, mainly of intermediate rare earth compounds for further processing.

Ukraine’s Lessons for the Future of Hybrid Warfare

Weilong Kong

Anew decision-analysis approach is necessary to capture the use of disinformation in the context of hybrid warfare. The war in Ukraine features two different types of competing societies: open and closed. However, the critical characteristics of this competition cannot be captured using a single analysis framework. Instead, multiple tools must be integrated to help generate a robust policy response to modern hybrid threats.

Russian aggression in Ukraine entails a hybrid war, which is defined by NATO as “an interplay or fusion of conventional as well as unconventional instruments of power and tools of subversion … blended in a synchronized manner to exploit vulnerabilities of an antagonist and achieve synergistic effects.” To be sure, hybrid methods of warfare have been used in the past but what is new about attacks seen in recent years is their speed, scale, and intensity, facilitated by rapid technological change and global interconnectivity.” Other terms, such as gray zone and information warfare, may be used in this context but, regardless, key characteristics must be modeled and integrated to inform effective policy.

What Does ‘Victory’ Mean for Ukraine and Russia?

Alexander E. Gale

As events in Ukraine continue to develop in often unexpected ways, policymakers in Kyiv and Moscow are reassessing what parameters would define an acceptable victory (or defeat).

When Russia launched its “special military operation” in February, the forecasts for Kyiv were grim. The CIA predicted that Russian forces would rapidly cut through Ukrainian defenses and seize Kyiv in a matter of weeks. Likewise, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley allegedly predicted that the Ukrainian government would not last longer than seventy-two hours.

During the first months of the war, Ukraine shared a similar outlook. Kyiv’s main objective was to ensure the survival of a viable Ukrainian state, likely governing a greatly diminished territory. Due to the high probability of suffering a military defeat, Ukrainian diplomats even made arrangements with the West to set up a government in exile. The government would relocate to the safety of another European capital while the remnants of the Ukrainian military would shift to asymmetrical warfare against occupying Russian forces.

Time to Get the Measure of China’s Global Security Initiative

Andrew Cainey

Global. Security. Initiative. By placing together these three simple words at this April’s Boao Forum conference, Xi Jinping announced China’s further global engagement. At a time when many talk of China turning inwards, here was another sign of China’s continued ambitions on the global stage. Six months later, reports hit the news of unauthorised overseas ‘police service stations’ in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere. Was this an early sign of China’s Global Security Initiative (GSI) or something else entirely?

Within the GSI, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has described six ‘core commitments’. As often with such declarations, the wording is laudable and hard to disagree with. Who would argue, for example, with the ‘vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security’, or ‘respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries’? Of the six commitments, that to uphold ‘indivisible security’ has attracted the most discussion. Russia has used the phrase to justify its war on Ukraine. Yet the term originates in Cold War dialogue and was agreed to by NATO partners in the 1975 Helsinki Act. It states that the security of each state in a region is inextricably linked with the security of every other state. When many fear that the world is in or close to a new Cold War, this formulation may be all too relevant.

Building the Capacity to Conduct Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO)

Dr Justin Bronk and Sam Cranny-Evans

The Ministry of Defence has made ‘multidomain integration’ (MDI) a conceptual cornerstone of UK military doctrine. In 2020 it released a Joint Concept Note (JCN 1/20) which set out an ambitious vision wherein the full capabilities of each service across all five domains would be able to function ‘as a seamlessly integrated force [that] must also be fused across government and interoperable with principal allies’. JCN 1/20 sets out multiple different areas where seamless integration will apparently be necessary across the joint force and wider government in order to be competitive in future conflicts. However, the same document admits that ‘there is no fixed route to a known MDI destination, so this concept provides a headmark to allow us to explore and develop our MDI ambition’. In other words, the UK currently has a conceptual aim, but no concrete plan for how to transform the force structure and processes that it currently has into ones that can undertake MDI.

Europe’s energy crisis and the pace of transition

Nicholas Crawford

Europe’s energy crisis – precipitated both by the disruption to energy markets caused by the war in Ukraine and European sanctions on Russia – has upended many of the assumptions used in forecasts for the region’s transition to clean energy.

Before the crisis, Europe had planned to raise carbon prices and introduce a border-adjustment mechanism for carbon that would encourage firms to use clean energy. Natural gas was expected to replace coal in many applications, and though total gas consumption was forecast to decrease by around 5% by the end of 2030, the assumption was that pipeline imports of gas from Russia would account for a growing share of this consumption. Instead, due to the crisis, Europe’s pipeline imports of gas will decline dramatically and the region will import more liquefied natural gas. Furthermore, given the increased price of gas, the transition away from coal has slowed and the push for higher carbon pricing has waned.

However, Europe is moving faster towards renewables, despite tightening government budgets and the growing costs of some green technologies. Examined sector by sector, it appears that the net effect of the crisis may, in fact, be an accelerated move towards cleaner energy.

Exploiting the Fast-Follower Advantage: Making 5G the Ultimate Parts Bin and Adopting a Commercial-First Approach to Military Acquisition

Bryan Clark & Dan Patt

Executive Summary

While frustrating for consumers, the slow maturation of commercial 5G networks in the United States could be a boon for the US Department of Defense (DoD), which can harvest, adapt, and influence 5G-related technologies as they emerge from commercial product pipelines for a variety of applications that extend well beyond cellular communications. By reversing its traditional role as a developer of new technology and instead becoming a customer, the DoD could better exploit the potential of 5G and leverage the private sector’s trillion-dollar investment in mobile connectivity.

Under the Joint Warfighting Concept’s approach of “expanded maneuver,” US military forces would disaggregate, reaggregate, and recompose to increase their adaptability and impose uncertainty on the opponent, enabled by interoperability and decision support tools from the DoD’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) initiative. Implementing expanded maneuver will require that JADC2 use computing to integrate a changing array of radios, radars, jammers, and RF detectors to deliver sensing and effects at scale as part of a fast-paced campaign. Mission systems like these have traditionally been the purview of specialized military contractors with the infrastructure and domain expertise to produce and deliver them as part of integrated solutions, like those of traditional commercial telecommunications providers. However, the modularity of commercial 5G’s building blocks could be harnessed to produce highly recomposable and adaptable military mission systems more cheaply than their highly integrated predecessors.

The Maldives’ Tug of War Over India and National Security


Like many island nations in Asia, the Maldives is busy grappling with the best way to advance its economic and national security interests in a region where geopolitical tensions between larger Asia-Pacific nations like China, India, and the United States continue to rise.

Unsurprisingly, views among the country’s political leaders on the best course of action differ. The political debate playing out in the capital of Malé offers a vantage point on the tradeoffs and constraints that policymakers in the Maldives and other similar countries must account for as they strive to protect their national sovereignty.

The Maldives’ current government led by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has unapologetically oriented the country’s foreign policy toward India as a provider of economic benefits and security. Meanwhile, the country’s political opposition under former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has urged the president to reconsider the closeness of the relationship ostensibly to protect the Maldives’ sovereignty.

Programmable Biology Puts Biotech on the Geopolitical Agenda

Ryan Morhard

In September, Jake Sullivan—President Biden’s national security adviser—announced that the U.S. government expects biotechnology to play an “outsized importance over the coming decade” in the context of geopolitical competition, because of the ability to “read, write, and edit genetic code, which has rendered biology programmable.”

Sullivan’s remarks came just days after senior security, economic, and science and technology officials gathered at the White House for a summit on biotechnology and biomanufacturing. The summit marked the release of an ambitious strategy that recognizes new abilities to “program biology” and featured commitments to grow the domestic bioeconomy and strengthen the biotech-related defense industrial base, including by using biology to manufacture products for the defense supply chain.

Biotech was also featured in the recent CHIPS and Science Act—a law that aims to bolster U.S. manufacturing competitiveness—which includes a section on strengthening the bioeconomy. The Biden administration also signaled a focus on biotech more recently in October, when it added a leading Chinese genomics company to its periodically updated list of Chinese military-affiliated companies, which is used to indicate companies that appear private but are effectively state actors. And, in the near future, the new National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology will kick off, which is intended to help “advance and secure the development of biotechnology, biomanufacturing, and associated technologies by the United States to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs.”

How Greek Companies and Ghost Ships Are Helping Russia

Elisabeth Braw

The United States banned Russian crude oil imports months ago, and Russian ships are banned from U.S., British, and EU ports. On Dec. 5, the European Union’s sanctions on Russian crude come into effect. But Greek and other European shipping companies are currently—and legally—helping Russian exporters get their oil to the desired destination.

What’s more, a growing ghost fleet of ships that officially don’t exist and cannot, as a result, be traced or investigated is transporting sanctioned Russian goods around the world, just as it was already transporting banned Iranian, Venezuelan, and North Korean commodities. The ghost fleet is likely to grow as the EU’s oil sanctions kick in. That seriously undermines the sanctions—and creates risks on the high seas.

Is Seabed Mining an Opportunity to Break China's Stranglehold on Critical Minerals Supply Chains?

Tom LaTourrette

China dominates global supply chains for nearly all critical mineral resources. Especially important are elements such as nickel, cobalt, lithium, copper, and the rare earths that power decarbonization technologies such as batteries, electric motors, and turbines. The rapidly increasing demand for these minerals has rekindled interest in extracting polymetallic nodules from the deep seabed.

China controls the supply of these resources through extraction, either within its borders (especially in the case of rare earths) or through ownership of critical foreign mineral resources (for example, cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo). It also dominates mineral processing, controlling the vast majority of global operations. A recent study by S&P Global Inc. found that 11 of the 16 companies that make nickel sulfate are in China. The study projects that China will produce 824 billion metric tons of nickel sulfate per year by 2030, while North America and Europe will produce just 146 billion metric tons.

Russian Aircraft Keep Crashing. Could Sanctions Be the Cause?

Michael Bohnert

At least six fixed-wing Russian aircraft have crashed over Russian-controlled airspace since September. With few to no incidents prior to then, this could indicate growing maintenance issues. Deducing “why” could offer a striking example of the downstream effectiveness of sanctions.

While mechanical failures are expected in aircraft over time, a rapid increase in fleetwide mechanical failures may indicate that something fundamental has changed. Sanctions placed on Russia by the West could well be affecting Russia's ability to manufacture and maintain parts needed to keep aircraft safe.

Maintaining aircraft fleets involves highly skilled operators with knowledge of the specific aircraft, only some of which is transferrable from commercial industry. But maintenance also requires specialized parts and repair tooling.

India Engages Myanmar

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

On November 20-21, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra made a two-day visit to Myanmar. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a press release stated that he met with members of the military junta that is currently ruling the country and discussed security and stability in the border areas, human trafficking issues (several Indian nationals have been victims), and infrastructure development. Kwatra was received by Lt. Gen. Yar Pyae, a member of the State Administration Council and minister at the Union Government Office. According to Myanmar National portal, the two sides held discussions on “Myanmar-India friendly relations, exchanged views on the promotion of bilateral cooperation and the implementation of Myanmar’s peace process.”

Strangely, the MEA statement made no mention of any Indian interest in seeing Myanmar return to the path of democracy or the release of political prisoners and other tricky issues. On the contrary, the foreign secretary spoke about continued Indian support for “people-centric socio-economic developmental projects” and early completion of connectivity projects including the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project and the Trilateral Highway between India, Myanmar, and Thailand. It appears that infrastructure and developmental projects were a big emphasis during the visit because Kwatra also assured the Myanmar junta about projects under Rakhine State Development Program and Border Area Development Program. Despite the MEA press release not mentioning it, the MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted that the foreign secretary had discussions on several important issues including “India’s support to democratic transition in Myanmar.”

Will Crypto Survive?


SAN FRANCISCO – The epic collapse of wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried’s $32 billion crypto empire, FTX, looks set to go down as one of the great financial debacles of all time. With a storyline full of celebrities, politicians, sex, and drugs, the future looks bright for producers of feature films and documentaries. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the death of crypto itself have been much exaggerated.

True, the loss of confidence in “exchanges” such as FTX – essentially crypto financial intermediaries – almost surely means a sustained steep drop in prices for the underlying assets. The vast majority of Bitcoin transactions are done “off-chain” in exchanges, not in the Bitcoin blockchain itself. These financial intermediaries are vastly more convenient, require much less sophistication to use, and do not waste nearly so much energy.1

The emergence of exchanges was a major factor fueling cryptocurrencies’ price growth, and if regulators come down hard on them, the price of the underlying tokens will fall. Accordingly, Bitcoin and Ethereum prices have plummeted.

Can Xi and Modi Resolve the Sino-Indian Border Dispute?

Atul Kumar

On November 15, Chinese president Xi Jinping met with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi for a few minutes at the G20 summit’s dinner. The meeting was a public ice-breaker after three years without top-level interactions. Although neither leader engaged in a G20 sideline meeting, the brief conversation offered a glimpse into the intense bilateral negotiations taking place behind the scenes to resolve India and China’s military stalemate.

China-India relations have suffered immensely over the last three years. The Indian Armed Forces and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been in a standoff in eastern Ladakh since April 2020. The situation remains fluid, with both sides rapidly developing military infrastructure at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). China and India are, however, simultaneously negotiating at the military and diplomatic levels to reduce hostilities and resolve the standoff peacefully. Therefore, both internal military capability development and bilateral negotiations are running on parallel tracks. The Xi-Modi conversation at the G20 summit is an indication of this intense process, which aims to reduce hostility and develop a new modus vivendi between both nations.

China Covid: Protests continue in major cities across the country

Demonstrators gathered in the capital Beijing and the financial hub Shanghai.

Many held up blank pieces of paper to express their discontent and acknowledge the censorship. Some have, however, gone as far as calling for President Xi Jinping to step down.

Millions have been affected by nearly three years of mass testing, quarantines and snap lockdowns.

It is very unusual for people to publicly vent their anger at Communist Party leaders in China, where any direct government criticism can result in harsh penalties.

The police have largely allowed the rallies to continue, but in Shanghai officers arrested several people and cordoned off streets on Sunday.

The Center of Gravity

Seth Cropsey

The Ukraine War approaches its nine-month mark with no end in sight, no easy path to extrication or war termination, and no clear and clean victory without risk. In this context, it is crucial to recall the war’s strategic importance and recognize that the Black Sea is the prize Russia seeks. Western policymakers must view the Black Sea as both this conflict’s center of gravity and the focal point of Russian competition with the West. In turn, Western strategy can better prepare NATO for Black Sea confrontations both by bolstering Ukrainian naval capabilities and, of equal importance, expanding the capabilities of NATO’s Black Sea states. The longer the Ukraine War continues, the more likely Romania and Bulgaria will become the lynchpin of NATO policy.

Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson signals a new phase of its onslaught against Ukraine. There is little incentive for a legitimate peace at this point for either side. Russia would use any ceasefire to rearm its military, build in workarounds to the Western-applied sanctions regime, and undermine Western European enthusiasm for renewed support in Ukraine. This is not a peace, but a brief armistice, the conditions of which would clearly favor Russia. Ukraine understands this. It also has the battlefield momentum to press its gains. Having scored two major victories in three months and having compelled Russia to withdraw from right-bank Kherson Oblast without an urban assault, Ukraine has no reason to seek even a short-term ceasefire that Russia could use to its advantage.

Most critically, there is no sign that Russia has abandoned its long-term objectives. At minimum, it seeks to hold Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline, thereby affording it a stranglehold over Ukrainian trade based on its current borders – a dividing line along the Dnieper would place Odesa, Kherson, and Mykolaiv at continuous risk of Russian pressure. This is one factor explaining right-bank Kherson’s long-term relevance: without a bridgehead over the Dnieper, it is difficult to envision a renewed Russian assault across it unless Russia can refit its armed forces during a ceasefire. At best, however, Russia hopes it can achieve a ceasefire, strike some sort of compromise that legitimates its gains in Ukraine’s south, and then hold Ukraine back from NATO or EU affiliation for long enough to enable another offensive.

Holding Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline is crucial for Russian objectives in three respects. First, with a consolidated Black Sea position, Ukraine cannot function as an independent state – Ukrainian grain must pass through Russian ports at any significant volume, thereby ensuring that the Kremlin has a stranglehold on global food supplies. Second, with Ukraine’s coastline under its control, Russia can project power around NATO’s southern and southeastern flanks, pressuring Romania and Bulgaria and sustaining any deployments to the Mediterranean, which before Turkey’s invocation of Montreux Convention had become routine. This enabled all manner of strategic activity in the Levantine Basin and farther west, including Russia’s Syria and Libya interventions. Third, and perhaps most critically, a stronger Russian Black Sea position would allow it to dominate Turkey’s strategic orientation. Turkey hedged during the Ukraine War’s opening days but has now tilted softly towards the West. If Russia can rescue its war, however, Turkey is sure to shift tack once again, surrounded as it would be on three sides by Russian power.

The above factors, in the inverse, indicate that returning Crimea to Ukraine would severely undermine Russia’s ability to project power in the Mediterranean and pressure NATO’s flanks. In turn, the Crimea question out of necessity dominates Ukrainian strategic planning. A Ukrainian Crimea, even with all of Donetsk and Luhansk in Russian hands, almost certainly precludes a renewed war. Russia could bombard Ukraine’s cities, but an offensive from Belarus towards Kyiv or farther west would lack a corresponding southern pincer to split Ukrainian forces, while Ukraine could still check a Russian advance in the east through another stubborn defense-in-depth. With Crimea in hand, therefore, Ukraine could continue a war of attrition almost indefinitely – assuming it has, of course, the air defenses to prevent Russian bombardment of its cities and some long-range strike capabilities.

Operational planning for an offensive against Crimea includes several thorny questions of sequencing, timing, and axes of effort. More generally, there is a variety of questions around Russian and Ukrainian strength, and several potential outcomes militarily. From a strategic standpoint, however, one of four contingencies is most likely. First, the Ukrainian operation against Crimea is delayed by some months, occurring in the late spring or early summer. The mines that Russia and Ukraine placed in the Western Black Sea, however, remain a persistent threat. Second, the Ukrainian operation begins soon, but is concentrated primarily in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, with only moderate spillover effects in the western Black Sea. However, Russia withdraws from the Black Sea Grain Agreement to counter-escalate. Third, there is some amphibious activity in the northwestern Black Sea as Ukraine seeks a foothold on Russia’s extreme left, leading to more maritime congestion. Fourth, and most dangerously, Russia surges back over the Dnieper, having reconstituted its forces and withstood Ukrainian counterattacks, pushing towards Mykolaiv and Odesa once again.

Each contingency would require a separate reaction from the West. Yet in each case, NATO’s Black Sea members, particularly Romania, will be crucial to a long-term coherent strategy. Snake Island, of fame earlier in this war, is under 30 miles from the Romanian coastline; all of Ukraine’s shipping currently passes through Romanian waters; and if Russia leaves the Black Sea grain deal or combat operations disrupt it, Romania will become once again Ukraine’s economic lifeline.

How can NATO shore up its Black Sea capabilities in the short-term, giving it a solid base from which to respond to every possible contingency. Two steps should be taken immediately.

First, Romania should receive a new tranche of minesweepers as rapidly as possible. Mines from the Odesa grain corridor will remain a persistent threat even absent Russian escalation. Indeed, in early September, a Romanian minesweeper hit a mine and needed to be towed back to port for repairs. Romania needs more anti-mine small craft, whether minesweepers or minehunters. Even older Soviet-era vessels would be effective enough for this purpose and would circumvent Montreux concerns as Romania is a Black Sea state.

Second, the U.S. should accelerate the delivery of the Naval Strike Missile to Romania. The NSM, which Ukraine may also receive, is a Norwegian-produced anti-ship missile that will become the backbone of Western short-to-medium range anti-ship missiles. Romania expects delivery of its first tranche of NSM’s in late 2024 – this must be expedited to early-to-mid 2023. With expanded naval capabilities, NATO can buy itself strategic insurance through Romania, creating a leverage point against any renewed Russian expansion and a potential protected conduit to Ukraine.

Japanese MoD Report on Chinese Gray Zone, Influence Operations

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the Party’s army. It follows the Party’s command and defines its most important role as protecting the Party’s regime. Until President Xi Jinping’s military reforms, the Party exercised control over the military mainly through the PLA’s political work organizations, including the General Political Department, and political commissars. Such indirect control, however, was susceptible to communication issues and hindering the execution of joint operations, and caused widespread bribery and corruption in the PLA.

NDIA Perspective: Ukraine Serves as Lesson in the Value of Training

James Robb

This article builds on the tremendous content of the November issue of National Defense magazine, which focused on training and simulation, especially the “Editor’s Notes” column written by Editor in Chief Stew Magnuson that you need to go back and read.

As president of the National Training and Simulation Association, or NTSA, I spend most of my time advocating for training and training systems within an acquisition bureaucracy very much consumed with what I call “shiny objects” — that is airplanes, missiles and guns and the like.

Not that new capabilities are not important, but my military experience has been that humans are the centerpiece of an effective fighting force whose leaders are responsible to “organize, train and equip” their units. This month we celebrate training and simulation at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando where the community gathers to explore and debate the latest ways we can transform education and training and provide the best systems for the fighting force and first responders.

Rebooting the World Bank


LONDON – The World Bank is on the cusp of a major transformation. Led by the United States, G20 governments have pushed it to increase support for the fight against climate change. Following recommendations by a G20-created independent panel on how to update the Bank’s financial policies to respond faster to global crises, shareholders have given it until Christmas to produce a roadmap for operational reform.

The World Bank is in dire need of a shakeup. It must leverage its considerable financial firepower more efficiently to mobilize private investors and redirect its own resources toward achieving sustainable development and other global priorities. But the reforms will be effective only if the Bank’s shareholders address the reasons why low- and middle-income countries are reluctant to work with it.

The Ukraine War in data: After 9 months of war, what the data tells us

Alex Leeds Matthews, Matt Stiles, Tom Nagorski

It’s nine months ago that Russian troops went into Ukraine. Nine months ago that Russian President Vladimir Putin told his people and the world that a “special military operation” was required to purge Ukraine of its “Nazi” and “genocidal” regime. These were the first salvos of lies and misinformation that would become a regular feature of a Putin’s war on Ukraine.

Western governments and military experts — and by all accounts Putin and his top advisers themselves — thought the “operation” would be brief. It’s now nine months old, with no negotiations underway and no other endgames in view.

In this week’s edition of the war in data, we use the available data to step back and take stock of where things stand in the war, from a range of perspectives.

First, the battlefield. For all the surprise gains made by the Ukrainian resistance, one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory remains in Russian hands. The good news for the Ukrainians is that recent momentum is with their side; Ukraine’s armed forces have now reclaimed about 55 percent of the territory Russia had occupied earlier in the war.

29 November 2022

How Do We Beat China In The Gray Zone?

James Holmes

Habits of Highly Effective Gray-Zone Competitors: How do we compete to good effect in the gray zone? We do so by developing strategic and operational habits fit for this murky seascape. As human beings, we are our habits. Or as the psychologist William James put it a century ago, we are “bundles of habits.” And we can shape our repertoires, and thus our professional and personal selves, by undertaking conscious and diligent effort. That’s because our character is “plastic,“ especially early in life.

By plastic James means “a structure weak enough to yield to an influence, but strong enough not to yield all at once.”

He likens the process to water eroding ruts in soil, a medium that’s pliant yet firm: “water, in flowing, hollows out for itself a channel, which grows broader and deeper; and, after having ceased to flow, it resumes, when it flows again, the path traced by itself before.” Thought and action follow their accustomed course. Youth are not—yet—set in their ways. They can choose where to dig their own ruts so that water traces the same pathways in the future.

How To Make Sure NATO Doesn’t Get Sucked Into The Ukraine War

Andrew A. Michta

Ukraine: The Next Phase of this War Will Unfold in the West – The recent incident in which a Ukrainian anti-missile rocket aimed at an incoming Russian rocket volley fell into the rural eastern Polish village of Przewodów, killing two farmers, brought home with renewed urgency the fact that the war in Ukraine can at any time escalate into a wider conflict, especially if Putin decides to target NATO territory along the flank.

The Ukraine War Touches Poland

The response from the alliance was swift, with Polish President Andrzej Duda reaching out to President Joe Biden and other critical leaders for consultation as the crisis unfolded. The very nature of the incident, which for a brief period of time until it was determined not to be a Russian attack on Poland, raised the prospect that NATO’s Article V could be invoked.

Ron Paul: Separate Tech And State

Ron Paul

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) recently got in touch with his inner mobster and threatened Elon Musk — the new owner of Twitter and the CEO of electric car company Tesla and space ventures company SpaceX. He told Musk, “Fix your companies” or “Congress will.” As part of this threat, Markey referred to an ongoing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation into Tesla’s autopilot driving system and Twitter’s 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Markey has done more than make threats: He is one of a group of Democratic senators who wrote to the FTC urging an investigation into whether Musk’s actions as the new owner of Twitter violated the consent decree or consumer protection laws. Since FTC Chair Lina Khan wants to investigate as many businesses as possible, it is likely she will respond favorably to the senators’ letter.

President Biden has also endorsed an investigation into the role foreign investors played in financing Musk’s Twitter purchase. Biden may be concerned that Musk is not likely to ban tweets regarding Hunter Biden’s business deals.

The Case For Defense: How Russia’s War On Ukraine Has Proved France Right

Pawel Zerka

The war in Ukraine has confirmed the validity of some European countries’ approach to Russia and their own defence. Poland can now feel vindicated in its longstanding distrust of Russia, as well as its insistence on the crucial role of the United States for European security. Meanwhile, Germany’s pre-2022 hope to convert Russia into a reliable partner through economic interdependence has turned out to be a pipe dream – pushing Chancellor Olaf Scholz to announce a German U-turn that includes a major rise in military spending and diversification of energy imports. For other member states, however, things are not as clear cut.

France is an especially striking and important example. The war just outside the European Union’s borders demonstrates the need to beef up the continent’s military capabilities – something which President Emmanuel Macron has advocated since 2017. Indeed, nuclear-capable France – with the most powerful military in the EU, a thriving defence industry, a security partnership with the United Kingdom, and a seat at the UN Security Council – has the best credentials to lead such a project. On other major questions of European security, one may note that France imported little gas from Russia, having taken the decision to expand generation of nuclear energy following the ‘oil shock’ of the 1970s. So, the war has likely helped Paris feel doubly justified: in its calls for Europe’s strategic autonomy over the years and in the value it has long placed on energy security .

Pakistan’s troubled ties with the Taliban

Ahmed Waqas Waheed

Even the Taliban government has been unable to diminish Pakistan’s foreign policy concerns. Since the Taliban came to power, the number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan has increased by a record 56 per cent. Key terrorist outfits with an active presence in Afghanistan, including al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Islamic State in Khorasan, continue to increase their presence.

Pleas for international support for Afghanistan have now been replaced by considered caution. Jubilation over the Taliban victory is now giving way to a rude awakening that the evolving security situation under Taliban rule means that Pakistan’s bouts of terrorism are not over. In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that he shared the international community’s concerns about terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan.

Apple has relied on China’s efficient manufacturing for years. Then came zero-covid.

Matthew Zeitlin

China’s zero-covid policies threw a wrench in the entire supply chain just in time for the holidays.

Citing China’s covid-19 restrictions, Apple announced earlier this month that its facility in Zhengzhou, China, was “operating at significantly reduced capacity,” resulting in fewer and delayed shipments of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Meanwhile, Apple had already pulled back on manufacturing less expensive models of the iPhone 14 due to “softer demand,” according to Bloomberg. And, in another blow to the American business community’s relationship with China, the U.S. Department of Commerce had recently announced new restrictions on China’s semiconductor industry that may end Apple’s plans to use Chinese memory chips.

Deterrence and Ambiguity: Motivations behind Israel’s Nuclear Strategy

Pieter Zhao

Ever since Bernard Brodie’s influential work The Absolute Weapon (1946), theories around nuclear strategy have been centered around the concept of nuclear deterrence. This concept was reiterated in an article in NATO Review by Jessica Cox, Director of NATO’s Nuclear Policy Directorate, in which she emphasized that nuclear deterrence is still relevant and should be the main philosophy behind all nuclear weapon policies (Cox, 2020). Thus, deterrence—the threat to carry out a devastating attack—still dominates over defense as the main way to protect the state in nuclear strategy (Tannenwald, 2020). Major nuclear powers, like China, the United States, and Russia, are therefore happy to emphasize this deterrent effect by showing off their latest nuclear technologies. Yet, this dominant theory surrounding nuclear strategy often seems to be centered around the great nuclear powers and the balance between them. But are these principles actually applicable to all nuclear powers, including the regional ones? Following this question, this paper considers the case of Israel with its policy of ‘nuclear ambiguity’ based on a declassified memorandum retrieved from the Wilson Center Digital Archive. The article starts by introducing the source and evaluating its usefulness and reliability. Afterward, attention is shifted toward the necessary historical context before analyzing the source to address Israel’s nuclear policy and the dominant International Relations (IR) theories that underpin it.

How Iranian Women Are Charting the Course for Freedom

Ahou Koutchesfahani

More than two months have passed since Mahsa Jina Amini’s death in police custody on 16 September. She was charged for not wearing her headscarf ‘properly’. Amini’s tragic death sparked nationwide protests that demand freedom and an end to the tyranny of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Islamic Republic has responded with an iron fist, as it has many times before during civil unrest. Latest statistics reveal that the death toll has reached 344, of which 52 are children. 15,820 people have been arrested. The real numbers are likely higher. This time, however, the Islamic Republic’s brutal crackdown has failed in its attempt to quash the protests.

The current movement is an amalgamation of all the grievances protested against the Islamic Republic. These include decades of grave infringements on basic human and women’s rights, corruption, mismanagement and isolation from the world at the hands of the Islamic Republic. To be sure, uprisings have occurred before: in 1999 demanding justice and accountability for student murders, in 2009 for election rigging, and more recently and more frequently in 2017 and 2019 for the rising costs of fuel and food prices.

A Peaceful Resolution: Analysing Sustained Peace and Order in Mizoram

Priavi Joshi

With its extraordinary number of self-determination movements, Northeast India’s troubled post-colonial history does not fit easily into the standard narrative of democracy in India. On one count, there are over a hundred militias currently operating in the region — most have been formed with the agenda of liberating territories and can be classified as ethnic concerning their goals, compositions, and support bases (Baruah 19, 20). The state has adopted a series of military and political measures to quell such insurgencies. However, the sustained violence demonstrates that such measures have only managed to keep a lid on the politically volatile situation. Order and security, for both the State and its citizens, continue to remain elusive. Mizoram provides a stark exception to this. Since the signing of the Mizoram Peace Accord in 1986, organised violence has been largely absent from the state (Sharma 3). This is a definite achievement for a territory that was embroiled in conflict for nearly two decades. The central aim of this paper is to study this exception — given the context of ethnic turmoil and breakdown in other Northeastern states, why has Mizoram been able to sustain peace and order since the signing of the Mizo Accord?

The U.S. Should Follow the UK’s Lead on Countering Disinformation

William Coffin

When Elon Musk bought Twitter and set up the subscription service Twitter Blue, some enterprising Twitter users soon started to imitate politicians, businesses, and even Elon Musk. They used Twitter’s blue verification checkmark to spread disinformation, disrupting the stock market and public discourse. This episode alone demonstrates the continued power of disinformation, which has already impacted American elections and perceptions of the pandemic. Our adversaries, no doubt can find additional ways to influence Americans and do our country harm.

So, what should we do? The crisis in Ukraine showed us a way to counter and preempt these lies by utilizing the intelligence community’s ability to inform and provide intelligence to the public. The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence has been a leader in this technique, regularly tweeting out battlefield updates of the Ukrainian conflict. This information helps counter Russian false narratives and uses the Ministry of Defence’s credibility to offer a genuine alternative for the public.

Xi Jinping is taking advantage of Biden’s soft touch

The new export curbs U.S. President Joe Biden recently imposed on the Chinese chip industry to help slow Beijing’s technological and military advances have obscured his administration’s relatively conciliatory stance since taking office.

Even the export curbs have been undercut by exemptions granted to major Taiwanese and South Korean companies for their chipmaking facilities in China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, wants Biden to live up to “Five Nos” which Beijing claims the U.S. president has committed to: No to changing China’s authoritarian system; no to containing China; no to seeking U.S. economic decoupling from China; no to a policy of “one China, one Taiwan;” and no to conflict or a new Cold War with China.

According to the official Chinese readout of the two leaders’ recent meeting in Bali, “President Xi said he takes very seriously President Biden’s ‘Five Nos’ statement.”

What next for higher education? Here's an alternate learning model for the future

Sanjay E. Sarma

Higher education finds itself trapped in a distressing quandary. On the one hand, employers have voiced increasing concerns about the disconnect between education and employability. On the other, the cost of higher education is growing rapidly. In the US, for example, tuition fees have outpaced inflation significantly, and total debt has surpassed $1.75 trillion.

It should come as no surprise that public opinion of higher education in the US has plummeted in recent years and academic institutions find themselves embroiled in an increasingly polarized debate. And for all that, the health of many academic institutions in the US is precarious – indicating that the structural issues are deep-rooted.

The problems are global too: many nations subsidize higher education significantly, and government expenditures are high as 2.5% of GDP, while the employability gap is often even more pronounced than in the US.

A Leak Details Apple’s Secret Dirt on a Trusted Security Startup


CORELLIUM, A CYBERSECURITY startup that sells phone-virtualization software for catching security bugs, offered or sold its tools to controversial government spyware and hacking-tool makers in Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia, and to a cybersecurity firm with potential ties to the Chinese government, according to a leaked document reviewed by WIRED that contains internal company communications.

The 507-page document, apparently prepared by Apple with the goal of using it in the company’s 2019 copyright lawsuit against Corellium, shows that the security firm, whose software lets users perform security analysis using virtual versions of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, has dealt with companies that have a track record of selling their tools to repressive regimes and countries with poor human rights records.

According to the leaked document, Corellium in 2019 offered a trial of its product to NSO Group, whose customers have for years been caught using its Pegasus spyware against dissidents, journalists, and human rights defenders. Similarly, Corellium’s sales staff offered to provide a quote to purchase its software to DarkMatter, a now-shuttered cybersecurity company with ties with the UAE government that hired several former US intelligence members who reportedly helped it spy on human rights activists and journalists.

There is no panacea, competition with China occurs in peace and war


In August, Breaking Defense observed a wargame in which China invaded Taiwan and the US intervened — with bloody results. Such simulations abound, as Benjamin Mainardi of the Center for Maritime Strategy notes below, but in this op-ed he argues the US should be preparing for a much more complicated stand-off with Beijing.

No geopolitical prospect looms as large in Washington as war with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Accordingly, the interservice race to take the lead in the Indo-Pacific continues to grow. Yet while wargames and articles abound on this or that aspect of what a conflict would entail, making eye-catching headlines and seemingly favoring one service over another, their provocative implications must be tempered with sober reflection upon the realities of the challenge at hand.

Perhaps most fundamentally, the outbreak of war as a conventional territorial conquest is taken for granted. But the framing of competition with China as hinging on a one-time engagement is at best a flawed approach and at worst a dangerous miscarriage of strategic foresight.