13 April 2022

Despite Fighting in Afghanistan and Ukraine, the Stinger's Days Are Numbered

Caleb Larson

The U.S. Army would like to find a replacement for its Cold War-era FIM-92 Stinger air defense system, the iconic man-portable anti-aircraft system that the United States exported around the world. Stingers were used against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan to significant effect in the 1980s, as well as in other parts of the world.

The Department of the Army put out an official Request for Information (RFI) that explained why the Stinger is growing obsolete and what the Army would like to see in a replacement.

There are multiple requirements for the new system, and the Army listed several of the qualities it is seeking in its request.

The Will to Fight in the Age of Social Media

William Marcellino and Michael J. McNerney

Russia's invasion of Ukraine hasn't gone as expected—instead of rolling across the country in a few days, unexpectedly stiff resistance from Ukraine's military—and civilians—has confounded Russian military leaders. It appears that the Kremlin, and many Western analysts, underestimated Ukrainian military capacity, but even more important, their will to fight.

RAND research on will to fight at the tactical and operational level of battle, as well as at the geopolitical level of nation-states, has argued for the importance of understanding will to fight: the most important factor in war, but also the least understood.

Could Insurgency Offer Ukraine a Decisive Edge?

James Dobbins

While insurgency rarely offers a path to early victory, a campaign of popular resistance that supports the continuing conventional battle could give overmatched Ukraine an edge in its fight against Russian occupiers.

The conflict in Ukraine looks likely to provide Europe's first large-scale insurgency since the end of Ukrainian resistance to the Soviet and Polish reoccupation of the Ukrainian populated areas formerly overrun by the Germans during World War II.

Why Russia’s Cyber Warriors Haven't Crippled Ukraine

Klon Kitchen

Two months after Russia invaded Ukraine, we are beginning to understand the role of cyber in Europe’s largest land war since World War II. While there have been some initial surprises, Ukraine and the United States are settling into a posture focused on limiting Russia’s digital operations inside the warzone and preventing it from escalating cyberattacks internationally. Russia, on the other hand, is trying to get off its heels tactically, reassert itself as a force to be feared, and keep global leaders guessing about its capabilities and intentions.

Did the United States Really Try to Overthrow Pakistan’s Imran Khan?

Touqir Hussain

Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan’s allegations of a U.S. conspiracy to oust him cannot be verified on the basis of facts, as they are not fully known. As a result, we have to rely on circumstantial evidence, media leaks, and speculation. But that can only take us so far. Perhaps a historical look at U.S.-Pakistan relations—particularly, how Washington has been embedded, by imposition or by invitation, in Pakistan’s body politic—can inform our understanding of the issue.

US Cyber Command reinforces Ukraine and allies amid Russian onslaught

Colin Demarest

WASHINGTON — U.S. Cyber Command has played a pivotal role in shielding networks and critical infrastructure stateside and abroad in the run up to and during Russia’s attack on Ukraine, its leader told Congress this week.

Along with tasking teams with identifying cyber vulnerabilities and threats — operations that have since “bolstered the resilience of Ukraine” and others — the command has gleaned and shared intelligence, worked hand-in-glove with U.S. government and industry, and pursued extensive contingency planning, Gen. Paul Nakasone said April 5.

“In conjunction with interagency, private sector and allied partners, we are collaborating to mitigate threats to domestic and overseas systems,” he continued in written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Myth of the Missing Cyberwar

David Cattler and Daniel Black

After Russia invaded Ukraine, many observers initially expected cyberattacks to steal the limelight as a major instrument in Russia’s arsenal. But after a month of fighting, a host of prominent scholars and analysts of cyberconflict have reached the opposite conclusion. Russia’s activities in cyberspace, they claim, have been paltry or even nonexistent. They have dismissed the role of cyber-operations, variously proposing that digital preparations for the invasion in Ukraine never occurred, were haphazard or lacked any real impact, or were mere continuations of Russia’s long-term cyber-activity against Ukraine that fell below the threshold of outright war.

Electronic warfare and drone swarms: Here’s the Army’s plan for EDGE 22


NASHVILLE, Tenn.: The US Army will be “working heavily” with electronic warfare and experimenting with large drone swarms as part of an upcoming sensor-to-shooter experiment in the Utah desert, according to a senior Army aviation official.

The US Army plans to include seven international allies for its second Experimental Demonstration Gateway Exercise that begins at the end of the month.

“We’ll basically be scrimmaging with our partners and allies,” Maj. Gen. Walter Rugen, director of the Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team, said during his presentation at the Army Aviation Association of America conference in Nashville, Tenn.

INTO THE MILITARY METAVERSE: An empty buzzword or a virtual resource for the Pentagon?


SOMEWHERE BETWEEN REALITY AND A VIRTUAL EXISTENCE: In December, a small office within the stoic Air Force bureaucracy hosted a meeting with some 250 people, gathered in a conference room with the usual whiteboards, sticky notes and yellow folders.

But the conference room didn’t exist, and the attendees were hundreds of miles apart, spread from the United States to Japan, all wearing Oculus headsets.

With that meeting, visitors entered into the beating heart of the explosive, if uncertain, hype-cycle of the metaverse, a concept that has percolated for decades but was brought fully into the mainstream last year when Facebook rebranded as Meta.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is under new management

As the russian invasion of Ukraine stalled in February and March, Western officials scoured the intelligence to work out who was in charge. No one, it seemed. Russia had attacked Ukraine from several axes in the north, east and south. Each of those forces was fighting—and in some cases, losing—its own war. As Russia abandons its assault on Kyiv for now and focuses instead on the Donbas region and the rest of eastern Ukraine, it is learning from its mistakes. On April 8th a Western official told The Economist and other news organisations that General Alexander Dvornikov, commander of Russia’s southern military district, had been put in charge of operations in Ukraine. Who is he?

Russia Is Getting Ready For A War To Conquer The Donbas

Stavros Atlamazoglou

The war for Donbas is about to begin: On day 47 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military is preparing for its promised offensive on eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian forces are also moving forces and weapons to the Donbas in preparation for the assault.

Meanwhile, reports of war crimes committed by Russian troops in liberated Ukrainian towns and villages continue to emerge.

War at the end of history

Adam Tooze

It was the French Revolution that defined the stakes in modern war as an existential clash between nations in arms, in which fundamental principles of rule were in question. War was the world spirit on the march. That is what the German poet Goethe thought he witnessed at the Battle of Valmy in 1792, where a rag-tag revolutionary army unexpectedly turned back a much better-equipped counter-revolutionary invasion by royalist and Prussian forces. “From this day forth,” he wrote, “begins a new era in the history of the world.” Two days later, the French Republic was declared.

What Ukraine Needs Now

David Frum

The tally of Russia’s material destruction in Ukraine reached $63 billion on March 24. The Kyiv School of Economics estimates that “at least 4431 residential buildings, 92 factories/warehouses, 378 institutions of secondary and higher education, 138 healthcare institutions, 12 airports, 7 thermal power plants/hydroelectric power plants have been damaged, destroyed or seized in Ukraine” by Russian forces.

Heat pumps and tipping points: Weaning the world off Russian energy

Laurie Laybourn

For years, climate activists have called for a war-like mobilization to drive a rapid transition to clean energy. Today, these demands have taken on a new urgency: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a relentless demonstration of just how much fossil fuels threaten the world’s shared security.

The brutality of Russia’s military, the Kremlin’s leverage over NATO, and the resulting global impact of the crisis have, to a large extent, all been made possible by the fossil fuels powering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war. Most recently, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s (EU’s) foreign policy chief, pointed out that while the EU has sent one billion dollars in aid to Ukraine, it spends roughly that same amount each day on fossil fuel imports from Russia.

The Return of Conquest?

Tanisha M. Fazal

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long declared that Ukraine has never existed as an independent country. The former Soviet republic is “not even a state,” he said as early as 2008. In a speech on February 21 of this year, he elaborated, arguing that “modern Ukraine was entirely and fully created by Russia.” Days later, he ordered Russian forces to invade Ukraine. As Russian tanks streamed across the Ukrainian border, Putin seemed to be acting on a sinister, long-held goal: to erase Ukraine from the map of the world.

Will the United States Run Out of Javelins Before Russia Runs Out of Tanks?

Mark F. Cancian

The United States has supplied Ukraine with thousands of Javelins, the anti-tank missiles that have become the iconic weapon of the war, but the U.S. inventory is dwindling. The United States has probably given about one-third of its stock to Ukraine. Thus, the United States is approaching the point where it must reduce transfers to maintain sufficient stockpiles for its own war plans. Production of new missiles is slow, and it will take years to replenish stocks.

Putin’s War Against Ukraine and the Balance of Power in Europe


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s confrontation with the West is the defining feature of his foreign policy. This confrontation has been made possible to a large extent by his other major pursuit: strategic partnership with China.

Perhaps, realizing that a two-front geopolitical contest—in Europe and in Asia—would be too much for Russia to handle, Putin has secured the country’s eastern flank by cultivating ever-closer ties to China. Thus, in addition to focusing its military capabilities on the European theater, “the correlation of forces” for Russia is enhanced by this partnership that has “no limits.” The partnership could grow even closer if China helps Russia alleviate some of the problems associated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With a secure strategic rear, Russia has been able to focus its energies on Europe while also exploiting opportunities in other theaters—in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America—when they arise.

ASPI Note: The EU-China April Fools’ Day Summit and What Comes Next

Wendy Cutler and Anna Ashton

What to Watch: Despite the current transatlantic relationship renaissance, Washington needs to keep its expectations of Europe in check. Given the economic fallout Europe is facing from the Russia-Ukraine war, there are brass tacks economic reasons why Europe may hesitate to take on its largest trading partner simultaneously. Unlike the “no limits” China-Russia relationship, the United States and Europe have long recognized that their coordination on economic matters involving China has constraints.

Appraising the War in Ukraine and Likely Outcomes

Philip Wasielewski

Which scenario is most likely to occur? Russia faces a myriad of daunting tactical, logistical, manpower, and morale challenges in continuing the war, but it is not impossible for it to annex portions of Ukraine if its army and national will remain intact. However, under the best circumstances, what Russia would “win” would be an occupied population seething with resentment and offering years of resistance, a West united against Russia, and an economic future for Russia that is really no future. Russia’s only hope for “victory” is for Ukraine to become exhausted before it does, but even this type of victory would redefine the term “Pyrrhic.” More likely Russia will either see its invasion eventually repelled or will have to compromise at the negotiating table. Either event would cause seismic waves inside Russian society and body politic. That much of the canvas is clear after six weeks.

Ukraine War Sparks Suspicion over Russia’s Designs on Kazakhstan

Bruce Pannier

When Russian State Duma Deputy Mikhail Delyagin blamed Azerbaijan for violating the ceasefire in the Karabakh region on March 27, he made the outrageous suggestion that Russia could use tactical nuclear weapons to destroy Azerbaijan’s oil industry. On March 29, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitri Peskov said Delyagin’s statement “in no way corresponds and cannot correspond to the official line of the Russian Federation” and called on Delyagin to “control his emotions and refrain from making such statements, more over in regard to our partners, and Azerbaijan belongs in the category of partner-states.”

Kazakhstan is one of Russia’s partner-states, but no Russian official is being rebuked for making comments about taking Kazakh territory.

Micro Deterrence Signaling

Vincent K. Brooks John S. Park

The Korean Missile Crisis of 2017 presented General Brooks with a unique opportunity to rethink deterrence and develop a dynamic playbook to change Kim Jong Un’s calculus. The result he called “micro deterrence signaling.”

The US can help Putin lose the war — for Russia’s future

Graham Allison

President Biden has a rare opportunity to hurt Vladimir Putin’s Russia and help Team USA at the same time. He has already announced a humanitarian initiative to allow 100,000 Ukrainian refugees to come to the U.S. As a complement to this program, the administration should create 100,000 special Scientific Freedom visas to attract superstars from Russia to come to the U.S. and show Putin and those who stick with him what free individuals in an open society can create.

Putin’s Doomsday Threat

Graham Allison

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stalled and its forces have pivoted to the battleground in the east, the war is entering a new, darker, and more dangerous phase. Mariupol provides a preview of that future. The Vladimir Putin who bombed the Russian city of Grozny into rubble in order to “liberate” it, and who joined Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in razing Aleppo, certainly has no moral reservations about mass destruction. Moreover, the war in Ukraine is now unambiguously Putin’s war, and the Russian leader knows that he cannot lose—without risking his regime and even his life. So as the fighting continues, if he is pushed to choose between making an ignominious retreat and escalating the level of violence, we should prepare for the worst. In the extreme, this could include nuclear weapons.

Reality Check #11: America’s Indo-Pacific strategy requires tough choices

Kelly Grieco

In a world of intensifying great-power competition, limited resources require painful choices, but the Biden administration’s new Indo-Pacific strategy avoids confronting any tradeoffs or dilemmas.

Both America’s pursuit of liberal democratic values in the Indo-Pacific and its absence from regional trade agreements are counterproductive for organizing cooperation against China.

Moving forward, the Biden administration will need to scrutinize key assumptions and confront hard decisions regarding how to keep ends and means in balance.

If Ukraine chooses neutrality, what could that look like?

Mariana Budjeryn

Russia demanded that Ukraine reject NATO aspirations and commit to “neutrality.” Ukraine’s unwillingness to do so served for Putin as a pretext for invasion. If and when the time comes to negotiate peace in Ukraine in earnest, neutrality might be on the table. What might neutrality in Ukraine look like?

The first and most important point to note is that Ukrainians are fighting and dying for their survival and the survival of their state. No Western armchair pundit should indulge in telling Ukrainians what they should and should not do. The Ukrainian people have already resolved to pay the highest price imaginable to live in a country whose destiny they alone can shape. Pontificating about some form of imposed Finlandization is as historically anachronistic and geopolitically skewed as it is offensive to the dignity of the Ukrainian struggle.

Chinese Authoritarianism and the Global Order


The international community should carefully consider whether the CCP’s behavior, whether within China or abroad, bodes well for a more representative and democratic global order in which genuine differences of opinion and diverse ideas are respected. China’s president declared at Davos this year that history is moving forward. Inside China, the CCP seems to be moving in reverse gear. There is every to think that what happens domestically will find reflection in the manner in which China conducts its international business in the future.