19 April 2022

Superior tactics frustrate Russia but Ukraine’s supply line may be vulnerable

Ben Barry

It is difficult to form an objective view of the war. The regular briefings the UK Ministry of Defence and the Pentagon are giving are presumably based on the vast intelligence apparatus at their disposal. But as both nations support Ukraine, they are understandably tight-lipped in their assessment of Ukrainian forces and their tactics.

Meanwhile, both Moscow and Kyiv are engaged in the “battle of the narrative”. Observing the war from outside, then, is akin to watching the latest blockbuster film only through a drinking straw. Nevertheless, it is possible for military experts to sift out a general sense of the main ways that the war’s character is changing, and how it might change in the future.

What Russia's Invasion of Ukraine Means for African Governments

Heather Ashby,  Jude Mutah

As Russia’s war in Ukraine advances into its second month, the conflict’s effects continue to ripple across the world. In Africa, the conflict is upending long-term trends across the continent and eliciting mixed reactions from governments. As increased sanctions push the Kremlin to further explore relationships with countries outside of Europe and the United States, African countries are currently left with impending shortages in food and financing for energy projects. While some see this as an opportunity to build economic capacity from within the continent, others have opened the door for the Russian government to re-shape its approach toward Africa.

China’s 5G networks: A tool for advancing digital authoritarianism abroad?

Michael V.CeciLawrenceRubin

This article examines the claim that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) promotes its commercial interests in building 5G network infrastructure abroad to advance digital authoritarianism. Critics view China’s actions as part of a well-coordinated, strategic effort to promote authoritarian values, spread its version of authoritarianism, and shape global governance norms around information and communication technologies. However, concerns over China’s 5G infrastructure in supporting digital authoritarianism may be overstated. This essay finds that geopolitical dynamics and local economic considerations challenge China’s capacity to influence governance practices and questions the notion that China’s promotion of its 5G network infrastructure has a clear political, strategic intent. The findings suggest that the United States needs to refocus its messaging around the geopolitical and security risks associated with greater dependence on Chinese digital infrastructure as well as create new industrial policies to better compete economically in 5G.

China’s Oceanic Aspirations: New Insights from the Experts

Ryan Martinson

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is rapidly building a blue-water force structure, but little is known about how the service intends to use these new platforms in operations outside of East Asia. This article answers key questions about the future trajectory of the PLAN by examining the service’s strategy of “Far Sea Protection.” It argues that Far Seas Protection is predicated on two desires: (1) to strengthen China’s ability to protect the homeland from attack from the sea and (2) to safeguard the country’s expanding overseas interests. Ultimately, the PLAN intends to do so through the conduct of “far seas mobile operations” with aircraft carrier strike groups, amphibious assault ships, and nuclear-powered submarines. If conflict occurs before these platforms are available to the fleet, the PLAN would conduct asymmetric warfare east of the first island chain, using an approach described as “far seas sabotage guerilla operations.”

Commercial Space Capabilities and Market Overview

 Emmi Yonekura, Brian Dolan, Moon Kim, Krista Romita Grocholski

The U.S. Space Force (USSF) and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) are examining and pursuing various ways to leverage commercial space capabilities as part of their policy goal to promote the U.S. space industry and their strategy for improving the national security space architecture. As the commercial space industry continues to grow in capability, capacity, and diversity, opportunities for the USSF and DoD to leverage commercial capabilities are expanding. Specifically, the USSF is considering the role of the commercial space industry in its future space architecture and the innovation ecosystem. It is faced with many choices, such as which commercial capability option to leverage or for which military application it should use commercial instead of organic space capabilities.

Laser Trailblazer: Navy Conducts Historic Test of New Laser Weapon System

Warren Duffie Jr.

ARLINGTON, Va.—The ground-based laser system homed in on the red drone flying by, shooting a high-energy beam invisible to the naked eye. Suddenly, a fiery orange glow flared on the drone, smoke poured from its engine and a parachute opened as the craft tumbled downward, disabled by the laser beam.

The February demonstration marked the first time the U.S. Navy used an all-electric, high-energy laser weapon to defeat a target representing a subsonic cruise missile in flight.

Known as the Layered Laser Defense (LLD), the weapon was designed and built by Lockheed Martin to serve as a multi-domain, multi-platform demonstration system. It can counter unmanned aerial systems and fast-attack boats with a high-power laser—and also use its high-resolution telescope to track in-bound air threats, support combat identification and conduct battle damage assessment of engaged targets.

Israel successfully tests new laser missile defense system


TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israel’s new laser missile-defense system has successfully intercepted mortars, rockets and anti-tank missiles in recent tests, Israeli leaders said Thursday.

The Israeli-made laser system, known as the “Iron Beam,” is designed to complement a series of aerial defense systems, including the more costly rocket-intercepting Iron Dome.

“This may sound like science-fiction, but it’s real,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. ”The Iron Beam’s interceptions are silent, they’re invisible and they only cost around $3.50” apiece, he added.

Supply Chain Hurdles Will Outlast Pandemic, White House Says

Ben Casselman and Ana Swanson

The coronavirus pandemic and its ripple effects have snarled supply chains around the world, contributing to shipping backlogs, product shortages and the fastest inflation in decades.

But in a report released Thursday, White House economists argue that while the pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in the supply chain, it didn’t create them — and they warned that the problems won’t go away when the pandemic ends.

Lithium mining: How new production technologies could fuel the global EV revolution

Marcelo Azevedo, Magdalena Baczyńska, Ken Hoffman, and Aleksandra Krauze

Despite expectations that lithium demand will rise from approximately 500,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) in 2021 to some three million to four million metric tons in 2030, we believe that the lithium industry will be able to provide enough product to supply the burgeoning lithium-ion battery industry. Alongside increasing the conventional lithium supply, which is expected to expand by over 300 percent between 2021 and 2030, direct lithium extraction (DLE) and direct lithium to product (DLP) can be the driving forces behind the industry’s ability to respond more swiftly to soaring demand. Although DLE and DLP technol­ogies are still in their infancy and subject to volatility given the industry’s “hockey stick”1 demand growth and lead times, they offer significant promise of increasing supply, reducing the industry’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) foot­print, and lowering costs, with already announced capacity contributing to around 10 percent of the 2030 lithium supply, as well as to other less advanced projects in the pipeline.

5 Years of Local Governance in Nepal

Biswas Baral

They are tall and tacky – and mighty popular among the TikTok crowd.

As Nepal heads into local level elections scheduled for May 13, the ubiquitous “view towers” (up in the mountains) and “welcome gates” (down in the plains) are being repeatedly cited in Nepali media as markers of local governments’ profligacy. The local bodies are apparently competing to build these eye-catching structures that otherwise offer no tangible benefits to their citizens.

Are we witnessing the beginning of de-dollarization?

Source Link

2022 started with a surging omicron variant. A few weeks in, providing a respite, the variant subsided around the globe. However, as if the world was deprived of tragedy and was rejoicing for too long, weeks later, Russia invaded Ukraine, leading to death and destruction in Ukraine and economic turmoil around the globe.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not comparable to any other invasion in history due to its geoeconomic significance. Both Ukraine and Russia are leading exporters of commodities such as crude, natural gas, iron and steel, wheat, and edible oils that have a direct impact on the inflation levels in major world economies.

The Outsiders How the International System Can Still Check China and Russia

Stacie E. Goddard

In late February, as Russian forces moved into Ukraine, Vladimir Putin declared that his offensive was aimed not just at bringing Russia’s neighbor to heel but also at repudiating the U.S.-led liberal international order. “Where the West comes to establish its own order,” the Russian president railed, “the result is bloody, unhealed wounds, ulcers of international terrorism and extremism.” Moscow would now seek to roll back the expanding order as “a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future as a people.” Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine is only the most recent act

The World Deciding if Taliban Get to Lead Afghanistan. What’s the Alternative?

Jason Criss Howk

Eight months have passed since the Taliban-Haqqani terrorist network pushed the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from power. Today the state of the nation of Afghanistan is reminiscent of the 1990s, a horrible time for Afghans, and an era that produced the Africa Embassy bombings and the September 11 attacks. Diplomats so far have been unable to stop the regime from dragging Afghans back to the dark era of the 1990s Taliban reign.

China May Have Just Taken the Lead in the Quantum Computing Race


China may have taken the lead in the race to practical quantum computing with a recent announcement that it has shattered a record for solving a complex problem.

In 2019, Google reported that its 53-qubit Sycamore processor had completed in 3.3 minutes a task that would have taken a traditional supercomputer at least 2.5 days. Last October, China’s 66-qubit Zuchongzhi 2 quantum processor reportedly completed the same task 1 million times faster. That processor was developed by a team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Center for Excellence in Quantum Information and Quantum Physics, in conjunction with the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics and the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology.

What should the US Navy learn from Moskva’s demise?


WASHINGTON: Even as Ukraine has proved its military tenacity in ground fighting against Russian troops, observers of the conflict were stunned late this week after the Ukrainian military announced it successfully struck the Russian Black Sea fleet’s flagship with a pair of cruise missiles.

The notion of Ukraine’s military, the veritable underdog in the fight, bringing down the Moskva, a warship named for Russia’s capital city, was not only a strategic victory but a symbolic one.

The Security, Privacy And Supply Chain Problems Of The Chinese Military In Your iPhone

Roslyn Layton

Apple is reported to start shipping iPhones in May with flash memory chips, a critical element for data storage, produced by Yangtze Memory Technologies (YMTC). The People’s Republic of China (PRC) owns YMTC, cleverly channels some $200 billion in subsidies to it to avoid World Trade Organization tripwires, and manages the entity with leaders sourced from the country’s military modernization effort. YMTC’s partnership with Apple raises security, privacy, and supply chain concerns. Apple did not return request for comment.

Raising the standard: Time for a higher poverty line in India

Surjit S. Bhalla, Karan Bhasin, and Arvind Virmani

The time has come for India to raise its poverty line from the existing extreme poverty line of $1.90 per person per day to the lower-middle income (LMI) poverty line of $3.20, a level some 68 percent higher. This may seem odd to aspire to in what is not even the first post-pandemic year, but that is the main message coming out of our recent IMF working paper “Pandemic, Poverty and Inequality: Evidence from India.”

How hypersonic missiles work and the unique threats they pose — an aerospace engineer explains

Russia used a hypersonic missile against a Ukrainian arms depot in the western part of the country on March 18, 2022. That might sound scary, but the technology the Russians used is not particularly advanced. However, next-generation hypersonic missiles that Russia, China and the US are developing do pose a significant threat to national and global security.

I am an aerospace engineer who studies space and defense systems, including hypersonic systems. These new systems pose an important challenge due to their maneuverability all along their trajectory. Because their flight paths can change as they travel, these missiles must be tracked throughout their flight.

Satellite Image Pinpoints Russian Cruiser Moskva As She Burned

H I Sutton 

The Russian cruiser Moskva will go down in history. The sinking will be studied and written about, both as a single event and, likely, a key moment in the War.

The fog of war is still obscuring the event, and information operations are clouding it further. But we can look again at the open source intelligence (OSINT) picture. In particular, the ship’s movements and where she was when it happened.

Analysis of radar satellite imagery of the northern Black Sea on April 13, appears to pinpoint the stricken ship. Other vessels are seen in attendance. The location of the event can now, for the first time, be given coordinates.

International Security

Natalie Jester

Security is a unifying component in each of the global issues we face in the world today, and for that reason a central theme in International Relations. It is also a contested concept that has occupied minds for thousands of years. The central debate is whether security should be about protecting the state or the individual – or both. Extending that, another question emerges as to who, or what, should provide security. For example, should this power remain with states or should it be relocated in whole, or in part, to international organisations?

Putin a pariah? Not yet. Russia still has powerful friends in the world.

Nikhil Kumar and Joshua Keating

“We will make sure that Putin will be a pariah on the international stage.”

That was the message from President Joe Biden as Russia launched its attack on Ukraine at the end of February, one that has been echoed regularly by leaders across Western capitals — from London, to Paris, to Berlin and beyond. And it has been backed up by condemnation at the United Nations and unprecedented sanctions on the Russian economy, its central bank and Russian oligarchs. Hardly a day passes without some new measure to ostracize Russian President Vladimir Putin and his regime.

Hungry and scared: Inside Shanghai’s disastrous zero-covid lockdown

Lili Pike

“Every morning when I wake up, what I worry about is no longer work, it’s what we are going to eat today. Almost all of my time is spent on this.”

That’s what Liu Jie, a university professor in Shanghai, told Grid on the 15th day he’d spent confined to his small apartment with his wife and toddler.

“I thought it would be two weeks at most,” said Liu, who requested Grid use a pseudonym because of the political sensitivity of the topic. “But I’ve already been here for two weeks, and the city clearly isn’t going to reopen. In fact, I don’t even know if it’s going to open up in another two weeks.”

Germany says ‘never again’ — but still sends Putin $200 million a day

Joshua Keating

Over the course of the war in Ukraine, in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s regular video addresses to national legislatures around the world, he has made a habit of referencing key moments or themes from those countries’ histories: to Congress, he invoked Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement; in his address to the British parliament, Winston Churchill’s leadership during World War II. When he addressed the German Bundestag on March 17, there was little surprise about the theme he chose. “I appeal to you on behalf of everyone who has heard politicians say: ‘Never again,’” Zelenskyy said, “and who saw that these words are worthless. Because again in Europe they are trying to destroy the whole nation. Destroy everything we live by and live for.”

Sri Lanka on the Brink How the Pandemic and War in Ukraine Led to Economic Collapse

Dushni Weerakoon

Sri Lanka is facing an economic meltdown. The COVID-19 pandemic hurt many low- and middle-income countries, but the island nation of 22 million people stands out as one of the hardest hit. Sri Lanka is experiencing the worst economic downturn of its history, grappling with staggering levels of government debt, spiraling inflation, and a foreign exchange crisis that has led to the scarcity of many essential goods. Long lines snake outside gas pumps. The power cuts out frequently. Shops are running out of medicines and other necessities. In April, the government defaulted on its external debt.

How the Ukrainian Battlefield Redefines the World

George Friedman

The war in Ukraine is a humanitarian tragedy to be sure, but that’s not why it has commanded the world’s attention. After all, there are humanitarian crises taking place in Yemen, Syria and other countries as I write this. From a geopolitical perspective, the war is potentially a watershed moment – that is, if European politico-military unity endures, creating a new model of Europe and redefining the functioning of the global system. A secondary issue is whether China’s view of the world will change too as it either seeks a new understanding with the United States or becomes more estranged from it.

The Challenge of a Nuclear North Korea

Source Link

Though North Korea’s nuclearization efforts have faded from the headlines, the country has continued to improve its capabilities. North Korea can now plausibly reach any location in the continental United States with a nuclear weapon, even as Pyongyang has diversified its delivery systems for launching long-range missiles, making its arsenals more likely to survive attack. In the absence of a deal to curb its nuclear and missile programs, North Korea’s arsenal will only grow more lethal.

The Dangers of China’s Decline As China’s economic miracle fades, its leaders may become more inclined to take risks.

Hal Brands

Decline is a tricky concept. The term makes us think of a country that is falling like a rock—one whose power and capabilities are dropping across the board. But a country can be in relative decline vis-à-vis a fast-growing adversary even if its own power is still increasing. It can be surging forward in some areas, such as military might, even as its underlying economic strength starts to wither. And decline doesn’t always lead a country to scale back its objectives—the sense of urgency it creates can cause ambitious powers to grab what they can before the clock runs out.

US-Gulf divergence: Placing risky bets

James M. Dorsey

Russia's invasion of Ukraine spotlights seemingly widening differences between the United States and its closest Middle Eastern allies, sparking eulogies for an era of bygone American regional dominance.

"America's Middle East Friendships are Dying a Natural Death" predicted foreign policy analyst Steven A. Cook this week after countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, to varying degrees, rebuffed US requests to help reduce energy prices and join sanctions against Russia.

China Is Reassessing Western Financial Power After Ukraine

Diana Choyleva

Western sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine look set to accelerate the economic decoupling under way between the United States and China, especially if Beijing seizes the opportunity to enhance the global appeal of its currency and financial architecture.

By blocking Moscow’s access to nearly half of its $630 billion in foreign-exchange and gold reserves, Washington has offered a demonstration of how much raw financial power still remains in the hands of the West. That can only strengthen China’s determination to stick to its own ideological path and carve out a sphere of geopolitical influence.