18 April 2022

The PsyOps war comes to Ukraine Propaganda networks want to split Transcarpathia


Far from the war, in Ukraine’s sleepy, western city of Uzhhorod, whose crumbling pastel-coloured Habsburg-era buildings straddle the river Uzh, government officials are concerned about the growing tension with Hungary. Despite Hungary’s voting in favour of EU sanctions against Russia, its supply of major humanitarian support to western Ukraine, and its hosting of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees, the country’s refusal to supply weapons or use its territory as a transit point for them has won the enmity of the Zelenskyy administration, which has singled it out for allegedly “helping Putin”.

The Lessons of Ukraine for Taiwan—and the U.S.


Although Ukraine’s potential membership in NATO has been discussed for more than a decade and half, it is not a member—and so the alliance is not committed to defend it, nor to attempt to deter attacks against it. (Indeed, a vote over whether to deter an attack against Ukraine would likely have splintered the alliance.) Vladimir Putin took full advantage of Ukraine’s living in this gray zone where its frequently voiced aspirations for NATO membership are not matched by a security guarantee. Still, after Russia’s invasion began, NATO’s guilty conscience prompted decisions to funnel arms and equipment into the beleaguered country; the Western anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems reinforced and enhanced the ability of Ukrainian defenders to wreak enormous damage on the Russian aggressor, rendering combat ineffective some 15 to 20 percent, if not more, of the Russian battalion tactical groups devoted to the operation.

Panel: China Planning a ‘Go Big, Go Early’ Strategy Against Taiwan

John Grady

While it’s unclear what lessons Chinese military planners are learning from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, they learned to “go big and go early” from America’s quick victory in the first Gulf War, a panel of defense analysts agreed Thursday.

It’s a strategy the Chinese could use against Taiwan.

Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said if the Chinese don’t win early on they’ll see their cross-strait invasion become “very messy, very quickly.” He added it would “become a slog,” as the Russian drive on Kyiv became. Later, Clark added he didn’t expect China to have the same “nuts and bolts failures” that the Russians have experienced in logistics and command in Ukraine.

Taiwan says China's threats will only increase support for island

China's military threats against Taiwan will only increase support for the island from the United States and other democracies, the foreign ministry said after China conducted drills nearby as U.S. lawmakers visited Taipei.

Beijing blamed the lawmakers, who included chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez, for raising tensions with their "provocative" trip. China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory.

Countering a Resurgent Terrorist Threat in Afghanistan

Seth Jones

In the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the return of Taliban rule, the United States is now contending with a resurgent terrorist threat. Both al-Qaeda and the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Khorasan (ISIS-K) are growing in strength and could pose a significant threat beyond Afghanistan, according [PDF] to recent U.S. government estimates. As a recent UN Security Council assessment concluded [PDF], “terrorist groups enjoy greater freedom in Afghanistan than at any time in recent history.”

A 2020 CFR Contingency Planning Memorandum, A Failed Afghan Peace Deal, warned that a U.S. military withdrawal from the country could result in a collapsed peace process and an overthrow of the Afghan government. It also argued that one of the most significant consequences of a withdrawal would be a resurgence of terrorist groups. These concerns have proved true. This update assesses the evolving terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan and how best to counter it.

Is the Defense Now Dominant?

As of this writing (March 19), the Russian invasion of Ukraine is stuck in the mud. That is bad news for Russia, because time favors Ukraine. As Western military aid pours in and Ukraine mobilizes all its resources, the correlation of forces shifts in Ukraine’s favor. With the typical Russian logistical collapse, it is hard to see how it can regain the initiative. This is a problem with Blitzkrieg-type offenses: if they fail, the next move is not obvious.

Russia’s failure to date raises a broader question: is the defense now dominant? If it is, that would come as no surprise to Clausewitz: he argued that the defense is inherently stronger than the offense. Were not that the case, we would routinely see the weaker side in a conflict take the offensive.

Was Ukraine Wrong to Give Up Its Nukes?

Mariana Budjeryn

Although Russia has relied exclusively on conventional weapons for its invasion of Ukraine, behind the scenes lurks Moscow’s massive nuclear arsenal. Hours before Russian forces crossed into Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin reminded the world that his country was “one of the most powerful nuclear states” and that anyone who interfered with his war in Ukraine or threatened Russia directly would face “consequences that you have never faced in your history.” Three days later, as global outrage grew, Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to a higher level of readiness. Even without these explicit threats, Russia’s nuclear deterrent would have prevented Western countries from intervening in Ukraine. Beyond supplying Kyiv with anti-armor and light air defense weapons, they will not come to Ukraine’s defense for fear of nuclear escalation, as U.S. President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders have made abundantly clear. Now that Putin’s attempts to seize Kyiv have been thwarted, there is a risk he will use tactical nuclear weapons to bring Ukraine to its knees. And while this scenario remains unlikely, neither Ukraine nor NATO can do anything to prevent it from happening.

Ukraine Building a Nuclear Bomb? Dangerous Nons.

Mariana Budjeryn, Matthew Bunn

The Kremlin is claiming that Ukraine is developing nuclear weapons. Like most of Russia’s other pretexts for invading Ukraine, this is dangerous nonsense.

In his February 21 war speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Ukraine possesses delivery systems and nuclear technologies inherited from the Soviet Union and that, with foreign support, “it is only a matter of time” before Ukraine creates nuclear weapons. Echoing this concern, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in his address to the Conference on Disarmament on March 1, alleged that Ukraine “started dangerous games related to plans to acquire their own nuclear weapons.”

Are We Entering Another Cold War? Probably Not—But it Could Be Even Worse

James F. Smith

A pair of prominent historians of the Cold War agree that the current global showdown over Ukraine does not signal a second Cold War, but that isn't necessarily good news. Indeed, one scholar suggests that a better comparison is to the tense, multipolar world in the first years of the 20th century—culminating in the devastation of World War I.

In a conversation Tuesday at Harvard Kennedy School, Fredrik Logevall, the Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs at HKS, spoke with Arne Westad, the Elihu Professor of History at Yale University (and former Harvard faculty member). Their topic: "A New Cold War? Geopolitical Implications of the War in Ukraine."

Time to Shelve Denuclearization and Negotiate a Halt to North Korea's ICBM Program

Mayumi Fukushima

With the entire world’s attention riveted on Ukraine, Kim Jong-Un is doubling down on his nuclear and missile programs and has recently tested what he claims to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). According to early estimates the Hwasong-17 (a.k.a. KN-27) missile could have reached the U.S. East Coast if launched on a normal trajectory. Despite South Korean doubts over the claim, the test results clearly suggest the North’s steady technological progress. Pyongyang is expected to carry out more provocations in the coming months, especially on April 15th on the occasion of the 110th anniversary of its founder Kim Il-Sung’s birth. To reassure U.S. allies in the region, some U.S. analysts advocate a high-profile announcement of new deterrence initiatives with allies such as joint exercises, and South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol seems to agree and seek more frequent drills. Talks to reiterate U.S. alliance commitments are certainly important, but such showy military exercises — which Kim typically views as a major aggression toward the North — would be a primrose path.

The Ukraine War Doesn't Change Everything

Stephen M. Walt

Sooner or later, the fighting in Ukraine will stop. No one knows how or when or what the final resolution will be. Maybe the Russian forces will collapse and withdraw completely (unlikely). Maybe Russian President Vladimir Putin will be removed from power and his successor(s) will cut a generous deal in the hopes of turning back the clock (also unlikely). Maybe the Ukrainian forces will lose the will to fight on (very unlikely). Maybe the war will grind on in an inconclusive stalemate until the protagonists are exhausted and a peace deal is negotiated (my bet). Even in that scenario, however, it's hard to know what the final terms might be or how long it would endure.

What If Germany Boycotts Russian Energy?


MUNICH – Since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, the German government has been under mounting pressure to join a proposed European embargo on Russian energy. It is widely believed that stopping Russia’s war will require cutting off its financing, which is coming in the form of billions of dollars of payments for oil and gas exports.

The German government opposes an energy embargo, with Minister of the Economy Robert Habeck arguing that it would lead to mass unemployment, poverty, and widespread social unrest. But are these concerns valid?

Storm Clouds Over the Global Economy

Source Link

ITHACA – This was supposed to be the year of post-COVID normalization, labor-market healing, and a revival of economic growth. Yet it is turning out to be a fraught period of geopolitical realignments, persistent supply disruptions, and financial-market volatility, all of which are playing out in a context of surging inflationary pressures and limited policymaking space.

Layoffs At China’s Internet Giants An Indication Of Deeper Dilemma – Analysis

He Jun

There has been the intensification of the wave of layoffs in Chinese internet companies, where JD.com is becoming the center of attention.

According to a document that has been circulating online, JD.com’s layoffs cover a wide range of business lines. The e-commerce company’s subsidiaries such as Jingxi, JD Worldwide, JD Retail, JD Logistics, and JD Technology have set layoff ratios, most of which are in between 10% to 30%, with the proportion of layoffs in Jingxi Guangdong being even as high as 100%. Some media quoted senior insiders of JD.com as revealing that the layoffs have indeed started. According to reports, March 31 is the deadline for this round of layoffs. On the other hand, JD.com said this is just “normal optimization” of the business sector.

Saudi Crown Prince Talks With Russia’s Putin, Discusses Ukraine Conflict, OPEC

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin via telephone on Saturday, according to Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

During their call, the two discussed the ongoing situations in Ukraine and Yemen, with the crown prince reaffirming the Kingdom’s support in finding a political solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

According to a Kremlin statement, Putin and the crown prince “gave a positive assessment” of joint work in the OPEC+ format.

OPEC cut its forecast for growth in world oil demand in 2022 on April 12, citing the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation as crude prices soar and the resurgence of the omicron coronavirus variant in China.

US–China Rivalry Intensifies In The Pacific – Analysis

Denghua Zhang

US–China geostrategic competition is intensifying in the Pacific as both governments commit more resources to battle for influence.

The US government released its Indo-Pacific Strategy in February 2022, which fleshes out its policy priorities in the region. This document is based on the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ concept announced by previous president Donald Trump in 2017. The strategy testifies to US concerns about China, asserting that ‘intensifying American focus is due in part to the fact that the Indo-Pacific faces mounting challenges, particularly from [the People’s Republic of China]’. It lists China, COVID-19 and climate change as core challenges for the United States. Competition with China has received bipartisan support among the US Congress.

Taliban Condemn Pakistan For Alleged Cross-Border Attacks in Afghanistan

Ayaz Gul

The Taliban accused Pakistan on Saturday of launching cross-border military raids inside Afghanistan, which reportedly caused dozens of civilian casualties.

Local Taliban officials confirmed to VOA on condition of anonymity that Pakistani jets on Saturday bombed several villages in the border province of Khost, killing “at least 30 civilians, including women and children.”

The claims could not be immediately verified by independent sources. Hundreds of residents in Khost were in the streets Saturday to protest the deadly airstrikes, chanting “Death to Pakistan.”

India Claims It Foiled Chinese Cyber-Attack on Disputed Border

India on Thursday claimed it foiled an attempted cyber-attack by Chinese hackers targeting its power distribution system near a disputed frontier where the two countries are engaged in a military stand-off.

Ties between the world’s two most populous nations are at a low ebb after a deadly skirmish in the Himalayan region of Ladakh that left at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers dead in 2020.

“Two attempts by Chinese hackers were made to target electricity distribution centers near Ladakh but were not successful,” power minister R.K. Singh told reporters in New Delhi.

Russia targets Ukrainian power grid

Adam Segal

The Ukrainian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-UA) and the cybersecurity firm ESET revealed that Russian-linked Sandworm hackers targeted high-voltage electrical substations in Ukraine with malware. The attackers targeted the substations with a novel variant of the Industroyer malware, dubbed Industroyer2, which interacts with industrial control systems that manage the flow of power. This mirrors 2015 and 2016 campaigns conducted by Sandworm in which attackers used Industroyer malware to cause blackouts in Kyiv. While Ukrainian authorities claimed there was no damage to the power grid in this case, there were some reports of damage in electrical substations. There is evidence that the hackers may have infiltrated the target systems as early as February, lying in wait until the scheduled attack on April 8. The hackers also deployed multiple strains of wiper malware to other systems, including CaddyWiper, which was recently found inside the systems of Ukrainian banks.

Why Russia’s Navy in Ukraine War is Doomed (or Irrelevant)

Brian E. Frydenborg

Ukraine is about to get (or maybe now just started receiving) Western anti-ship missiles and may even have its own advanced anti-ship missiles almost ready for deployment. A small number of such missiles could wipe out all of Russia’s big surface warships near Ukraine in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov or push Russian ships out of range and too far away to be able to meaningfully support Russia’s war effort. This missile technology in the hands of Ukraine’s competent and adaptive fighters will be a game-changer much like Javelin and other anti-tank missiles have been for Ukraine against Russian armor thus far in Putin’s failing war.

Revisiting Military Cultural Intelligence: Lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq

Tomos Holmes Davies

The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation has cost thousands of lives, displaced millions and presented a serious challenge for the international community. In this increasingly fraught geopolitical climate, NATO and its allies may be faced with additional threats. One of these is the proliferation of irregular war, and there have been calls for Western militaries to re-evaluate their approaches to irregular forms of conflict such as insurgency to prepare for the future.[1] Accordingly, this paper revisits military cultural intelligence, a capability that played a significant role in coalition counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Drawing on first-hand accounts of a small group of British and American military personnel, I reflect on three problems with the application of military cultural intelligence in these conflicts and discuss how it might be improved in the future.

Can Russia and the West Avoid a Major Cyber Escalation?

Matthias Schulze

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, many experts and cybersecurity agencies have issued warnings about possible Russian cyberattacks against critical infrastructure. So far, this threat has not materialized, although there have been attempted attacks. Additionally, many pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian hacktivists and cybercriminals have aligned themselves with the warring parties. These non-state actors have engaged in indiscriminate cyber operations against organizations associated with “the enemy," including Western companies such as Nestlé. At the same time, Russia has announced that it will respond to this “cyber aggression” by the “collective West.” This begs the question of whether the cyber conflict surrounding the Russo-Ukrainian war will escalate. Moreover, is it possible that cyber operations will cross the conventional threshold and draw NATO directly into the conflict?

Ukraine and the Bomb: Myths and Misconceptions

Alexandra B. Hall

After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, arguments circulated that Ukraine would have been safer from Russian aggression if it had nuclear weapons. Today, this debate is back in the news. On a recent episode of Ploughshares Fund’s Press the Button podcast, Dr. Maria Rost Rublee joined Ploughshares Fund President Dr. Emma Belcher to discuss the assumptions underlying this argument and explain why it is a fantasy.

Rublee, an Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations at Monash University in Australia, first investigated this issue back in 2015. In her conversation with Belcher, Rublee breaks down the technical, political, and strategic reasons why nuclear weapons would not have kept Ukraine safe from a Russian invasion then or now.

Nuclear Risks Rise as Russia and the West Prepare for Protracted Conflict

Mark Episkopos

As Russia’s war in Ukraine stretches into its second month, the risks of catastrophic nuclear escalation between Moscow and the West continue to mount.

Spurred by the war in Ukraine, Finland and Sweden are reportedly moving ahead with a possible bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). “Everything changed when Russia invaded Ukraine,” said Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin on Wednesday during a joining conference in Stockholm with her Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson. “I think people’s mindsets in Finland, also in Sweden, changed and [were] shaped very dramatically because of Russia’s actions. This is very clear and that caused a need for a process in Finland to have a discussion about our own security choices,” said Marin.

Will Finland and Sweden Join NATO?

Colin Wall and Sean Monaghan

One consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may be the exact thing Russian president Vladimir Putin, the war’s architect, has indicated he did not want: the enlargement of NATO, starting with Finland and Sweden.

Public polling in Finland and Sweden has shown a clear swing in favor of joining NATO since the war in Ukraine began. This week, Finland submitted a report on security to its parliament, the centerpiece of which is a discussion about joining NATO. Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin met with her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson to discuss the report and consider “how to strengthen the security of Finland and Sweden in the changed security environment.” Marin said Finland will decide whether to apply to join NATO “within weeks.” In response, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has warned that “there can be no more talk of any nuclear–free status for the Baltic,” alluding to the potential deployment of Russian nuclear capabilities in the region if Finland and Sweden were to join the alliance

Designing New Battlegroups: Advice for NATO Planners

Sean Monaghan

“If Kremlin’s aim is to have less NATO on Russia’s borders, it will only get more NATO.” As NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg points out, one consequence of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine is now clear: President Putin will end up with more NATO on his borders, not less. It looks increasingly likely that both Finland and Sweden will join NATO soon—possibly before the alliance’s critical Madrid summit in June. More immediately, the quantity of NATO’s forces deployed on its eastern flank is multiplying rapidly.

The War in Ukraine: Aftershocks in the Balkans

Dejana Saric,Pierre Morcos

As Russia’s war in Ukraine drags into its second month, a deep sense of unease has settled across the Western Balkans. The images coming out of Ukraine have revived memories of the horrors the region experienced in the 1990s, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter Bosnia) and between Serbia and Kosovo. Given Russia’s strong economic, military, and soft power connections, the conflict has raised concerns that Moscow might try to further destabilize the region to deflect attention from its flawed campaign in Ukraine. Often referred to as Europe’s “soft underbelly,” the Balkans could turn into a new source of unrest in an already shattered continent.