20 April 2022

The Ukraine Crisis Offers a Rare Chance for Energy and Climate Cooperation

Jason Bordoff and Meghan L. O’Sullivan

As motorists make plans for the summer driving season, U.S. gasoline prices are near record highs. Yet some relief may be in sight: Falling oil prices mean pump prices should dip below $4 per gallon in the coming weeks—though the looming risk of further disruptions to Russian oil supply means the relief risks proving short lived.

The Dilemma at the Heart of Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO Membership Bids


Mock attacks by Russian bombers in the middle of the night. Mysterious mini-submarines appearing in the waters outside Stockholm. A small private island in the southern Gulf of Bothnia bristling with satellite antennae and a heliport.

For years, once-neutral Sweden and Finland have leaned toward NATO after provocations like these from Russia, but their larger eastern neighbor’s war on Ukraine turbo-boosted their drive to join the alliance. Finnish president Sauli Niinistö visited the United States only a week after Russia’s invasion, presumably to discuss the possibility. Public opinion in both countries looks more and more favorable to NATO membership, and NATO’s secretary general recently said the two countries would be welcomed with open arms. The NATO summit planned for June would be the natural moment to launch the process, although it might happen even sooner.

Ukraine war: Thousands of ordinary Russians are going to battle in the information war - what they're saying

Kieran Devine

"We call on everyone who supports the actions of our president and the Russian army to join in creating and distributing truthful content!"

This call to arms by a Russian website appears to be successfully recruiting ordinary Russians - 28,000 of them according to research by Sky News - to take part in the information war.

It is just one example of how some of the Russian public are playing their part in the battle to control the narrative around the Ukrainian conflict. Other examples include the recruitment of a hacker "cyber army" and the establishment of a seemingly grassroots organisation to track Ukrainian war crimes.

The Global Economy Has a Case of ‘Long COVID’

Daniel McDowell

One of the more concerning things about the virus that causes COVID-19 is the potential for its symptoms to linger long after the initial infection has waned. No one knows exactly what is causing “Long COVID,” as the disease is now known, but we do know that dealing with it will impose costs on societies for years to come. Not dissimilar are the pandemic’s economic and financial impacts. The initial symptoms of the crisis were acutely painful—economic downturns, business closures and supply chain disruptions. But now, as governments reopen their societies, they are realizing that some of the pandemic’s challenges may not soon abate. The global economy has come down with its own version of “Long COVID.”

Coup or No Coup? Pakistani Military Denies Khan’s Conspiracy Claims

Trevor Filseth L

On Thursday, representatives of the Pakistan Armed Forces dismissed former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s accusations that the United States had planned his fall from office—a sharp and public rebuke of the deposed Pakistani leader and a sign of the growing tensions between Khan and the Pakistani military prior to his removal.

Prior to the no-confidence vote removing him from office on Sunday, Khan had alleged that Washington intended to overthrow him because of his close ties with Russia and China and his refusal to participate in the international sanctions regime against Moscow. Khan met Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on February 24, the day that Russia launched its “special military operation” in neighboring Ukraine.

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?

Incentives, Not Orders, Will Strengthen American Cybersecurity

Yameen Huq

This past month, President Joe Biden signed into law a $1.5 trillion omnibus bill that contained the “Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act,” one of the largest cybersecurity reforms in nearly two decades. Title II of the bill, the “Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022,” contains new requirements for companies involved in federally-designated critical infrastructure—broadly defined as including everything from banks and hospitals to power grids—to provide cybersecurity incident reports to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in a timely manner. Incident reporting is vital for a secure economy; we can’t expect to protect our most important assets if we do not understand the battlefield

ISIS and Al-Qaeda Condemn Muslims Fighting in Russo-Ukrainian War

Romany Shaker

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a widescale invasion of Ukraine, triggering reactions not only from Western countries, but also from the arch Sunni jihadi rivals, the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, and their supporters.

ISIS is the only group to officially react to the war, while Al Qaeda, quite tactfully, remained silent and made no official comment on the subject thus far. The reactions of Al Qaeda and ISIS supporters were almost identical; favorably viewing the war as a helpful development for Muslims and jihadis and advising Muslims to not get involved in wars of “crusaders.” Furthermore, they denounced the participation of Muslims in the war, particularly Muslim Chechen fighters who were deployed by pro-Russian Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to back up the Russian war in Ukraine. Sending Chechens to fight in Ukraine appears to have no religious basis; rather Kadyrov’s move aimed to prove his loyalty to Vladimir Putin, whose support is the basis of his rule.

A Year of Hacks and Cyberwar: How Biden Is Tackling Cybersecurity

Timothy H. Edgar

When Joe Biden took office as president in January 2021, he faced a cybersecurity crisis. According to the U.S. Intelligence Community, the threat environment was “acute.” Foreign adversaries were using “cyber operations to steal information, influence populations, and damage industry, including physical and digital critical infrastructure.” More than a year later, the situation is still dire. The good news is that Biden’s team is on it.

Tensions Between Pakistan and the Taliban Explode After Pakistani Airstrikes

Trevor Filseth L

Pakistan’s military launched a series of airstrikes on the Afghan provinces of Khost and Kunar on Saturday, leading to the deaths of at least forty-seven civilians and raising concerns of retribution from the Taliban-led government in Kabul, according to AFP.

Afghan officials announced the death toll the following day, also noting that twenty-two civilians had been injured. Shabir Ahmad Osmani, an official in Khost, claimed that the attacks had taken place near the “Durand Line,” the border dividing Afghanistan and Pakistan that was drawn by a British official and went into effect in 1919.

In the Looming Battle for the Donbas, Russian Forces Hold the Upper Hand

Mark Episkopos

As the war in Ukraine enters its second phase, the looming battle for Donbas could prove decisive for both sides.

“For us, the battle for Donbas is very important,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy told CNN in an interview on Sunday. “It is important for different reasons, for the reason of safety, first of all. Our grouping located in Donbas is one of the best military we have. It's a large grouping and Russia wants to encircle them and destroy them,” he said. "This battle—and it can happen, so there will be several battles and we don't know how long it is going to take—can influence the course of the whole war,” Zelenskyy added.

Why are so many Russian generals dying in Ukraine?

THE WAR was nearly over, Yakov Rezantsev assured his troops on day four of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That was a month ago. On March 25th the lieutenant-general, commander of Russia’s 49th Combined Arms Army, was reportedly dead, killed in a strike near the city of Kherson. Ukrainian officials say he was the seventh Russian general to die in action in Ukraine; Western ones agree. Russia has not confirmed this, and the tally has not been independently verified. But it is clear that the country’s top brass are suffering unusual attrition. Why?

Russia’s Artificial Intelligence Boom May Not Survive the War


The last year was a busy one for Russia’s military and civilian artificial intelligence efforts. Moscow poured money into research and development, and Russia’s civil society debated the country’s place in the larger AI ecosystem. But Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February and the resulting sanctions have brought several of those efforts to a halt—and thrown into question just how many of its AI advancements Russia will be able to salvage and continue.

Russians at War Putin’s Aggression Has Turned a Nation Against Itself

Andrei Kolesnikov

In early April, the coffin containing the body of 75-year-old Vladimir Zhirinovsky—the ultranationalist and populist who was a crucial pillar of the Russian state for two decades—was taken to the Hall of Columns in central Moscow for people to pay their respects. Sixty-nine years ago, it was there that Stalin had lain in state, in the process killing one last wave of Russians, who were crushed to death in the huge crowds that had gathered to bid farewell to the Soviet dictator.

Perspectives | Turkey and Central Asia: Ukraine war will strengthen ties

Bruce Pannier

Turkey is expanding its footprint in Central Asia, offering the region’s leaders a welcome alternative as they reassess how to balance ties with Russia, the West, and China.

Russia’s image internationally and fortunes financially are nosediving due to the Kremlin’s adventurism in Ukraine. The West has been in retreat across the region for years, all the more so after pulling its forces from Afghanistan. And many people in Central Asia think China already has too much influence.

Deterrence is Not Enough: Security Requirements for the 21st Century

Baroness Thatcher

This Special Issue of National Institute’s Information Series commemorates the 39th anniversary of President Reagan’s March 23, 1983 speech introducing the Strategic Defense Initiative. Below is the speech given by the Rt Hon the Baroness Thatcher LG OM FRS to a conference hosted by the National Institute for Public Policy on December 3, 1998. In her speech, Baroness Thatcher lays out a fundamental rationale for missile defense. Her remarks are as pertinent now as they were then.

U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

Richard M. Rossow

This week, India’s minister of defense, Rajnath Singh, and minister of external affairs, S. Jaishankar, were in Washington, D.C., for meetings with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for the U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. This was the first meeting under the 2+2 ministerial format since the start of the Biden administration, and it was held under the shadow of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two sides adopted the 2+2 format for their primary annual ministerial meeting in 2018. The governments’ statement released at the conclusion of the ministerial dialogue can be found here.

DON: Russia's Black Sea flagship Moskva sunk – the anatomy of a missile strike

Gav Don

On April 16 Moscow confirmed that its Black Sea flagship Moskva had sunk after the survivors of her crew of 500 men had abandoned ship. It is the biggest naval loss to enemy action since WWII and a major blow to Russia’s military prestige as it wages a destructive war against Ukraine. The tactically important Russian cruiser was hit by two Ukrainian-developed Neptune anti-ship missiles fired from land-based launchers near Odesa, whereas Moscow denies these reports and claims that Moskva was damaged by a fire and sank because her hull was breached by ammunition explosions it caused.

Our Geo-economic Interests Lie with the West as Well as the Rest


Over the past few weeks, I discovered a marked difference in attitudes towards the Ukraine war between those of my friends who had spent time in the New Delhi establishment and those who hadn’t. The Delhiwaalas—diplomats, economists, journalists and veterans—were more likely to argue that reports of Russian losses were part of information operations, the West was to blame for provoking Vladimir Putin, we depend on Moscow for critical defence equipment, and that India ought not take any position that would hurt Russia. This was the case across the political and ideological divide: as long as they were Delhiwaalas, they more or less held this view. I was thus not surprised when opposition parties mirrored the government’s position on this issue, revealing a rare non-partisan consensus in these polarized times.

IP22028 | A Hard Sell: Russian Arms Exports to Asia Following the Invasion of Ukraine

Richard Bitzinger, Kenneth Boutin


Russia’s importance as an arms supplier to Asian states likely will decline in the short term as a result of Russia’s arms requirements, the sanctions imposed following its invasion of Ukraine, and the perceived poor performance of Russian arms in this conflict. This could provide greater scope for competing arms suppliers, including China, to export to the region.

How China’s united front system works overseas

Ryan Fedasiuk

Led by United Front Work Departments of Chinese Communist Party committees at each echelon of government, the united front system is a complex and opaque set of organisations designed to advance the CCP’s influence in industry and civil society. Within China, the united front system has several responsibilities, which range from repressing ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang to grooming members of China’s minor political parties to take up positions in government.

The Geopolitical Struggle for Technology Leadership

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has sent a shockwave through Europe’s defense and security architecture. Germany, the European Union’s wealthiest member state but also a notorious laggard when it comes to defense spending, has now embarked upon a path that may well turn it into Europe’s preeminent (conventional) military power. But this war in Europe is also catalyzing a global and uncompromising bid for technology leadership that is set to define geopolitical competition well into this century. Immediate repercussions include intensified efforts on the part of Russia to isolate its internet sector and severe sanctions on Russia’s access to foreign technologies. From a strategic vantage point, the war is accelerating the ongoing shift toward a world where geo-technological spheres define how digitalized societies and economies interact. As this world takes shape, Germany, the EU, and their democratic partners must jointly develop strategic responses to six key trends that are shaping the international technology policy landscape.

Russia and China are Self-Constraining Competitors

Ali Wyne

Recent strategic missteps by Russia and China provide the US with an opportunity to develop a more creative and sustainable foreign policy.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shattered Europe’s post-Cold War hopes that the continent would avoid a large-scale armed confrontation, renewed global anxiety over the spectre of a great-power war that could escalate to the nuclear level, and evoked distressing comparisons to the march of militaristic authoritarians during the 1930s. Although the US worked assiduously to prevent a worst-case scenario, declassifying intelligence assessments of Russia’s intentions and threatening crippling economic sanctions, Moscow nonetheless proceeded.

Getting to Know the Russian Battalion Tactical Group

Lester W Grau and Charles K Bartles

Success in modern conventional warfare is determined by a combination of effort, environment and – to an extent – luck. However, the most important determinants of victory are the actions of combined arms units. Only these units, in cooperation with other branches of arms and other military services, can perform the full spectrum of defensive and offensive tasks. The execution of these tasks depends upon the enemy’s composition, position and probable course of action; the position and condition of one’s own subordinate, attached and supporting units; the conditions of the area on which the assigned tasks will occur; and weather. Traditionally, Russia’s lowest echelons capable of performing combined arms tasks were the regiment or brigade, but experimentation in the 1980s led to a semi-permanent combined arms formation at the battalion level, the Battalion Tactical Group (BTG).

No One Has Addressed WHY Russia Invaded Ukraine (So I’ll Do It)

Benjamin Sledge

In August 2008, the geopolitical intelligence company I worked for went on red alert.

Red alerts were an internal code for “All hands on deck. Something in the world just exploded.” That day, I got to work creating maps of Russian and Georgian troop movements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, separatist areas inside the country of Georgia. For the next several days, I would work late into the night reviewing analyst data and updating movements. The invasion eventually became known as the Russo-Georgian War, with the end result being that Russian troops would withdrawal from Georgia, but that Abkhazia and South Ossetia would remain Russian-occupied territories.

Security News This Week: North Korea’s Lazarus Group Was Behind $540 Million Ronin Theft

EARLY THIS WEEK, the Ukrainian Computer Emergency Response Team and Slovakian cybersecurity firm ESET warned that Russia's notorious GRU Sandworm hackers had targeted high-voltage electrical substations in Ukraine using a variation of their blackout-inducing Industroyer malware, also known as Crash Override. Days later, the US Department of Energy, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the NSA, and the FBI jointly released an advisory about a new industrial control-system hacking tool set of unspecified provenance, dubbed Pipedream, that seemingly hasn't been deployed against targets but that the operators of industrial systems need to proactively block.

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.

Yemen’s Cease-fire Is Challenging Popular Notions of How Wars End

Erica Gaston

Earlier this month, the lead U.N. representative for Yemen announced a two-month cease-fire, the first major breakthrough since 2015 in the conflict between the Houthi rebels and Iran on the one side and the Yemeni government and its Gulf backers on the other. The news was a ray of hope in an otherwise unremittingly troubling international context.

Ukraine War: A Reshuffling of the Global Monetary Order?

Jose Miguel Alonso-Trabanco

As a regular conflict, the ongoing Ukraine war is being fought with kinetic weapons and traditional power projection platforms in conventional operational battlefields. However, its span transcends the domain of military statecraft. It goes much further. In fact, this unfolding confrontation must also be understood as a major clash in the rising strategic competition to determine the future architecture of the global financial and monetary system – a dangerous game played for the highest stakes. On this chessboard, currencies, monetary assets and financial vehicles are being weaponized as instruments of coercion, manipulation, disruption, subordination and conquest. Therefore, said arena is one the key dimensions of the Second Cold War, in which the Western bloc of maritime powers ‒ under US leadership ‒ and the Eurasian axis of continental powers ‒ headed by Russia and China ‒ are struggling with each other to advance their corresponding views of what the world order should be like. The realm of money is now at the forefront of the current rivalry between Leviathan and Behemoth.

Competition for Access and Influence Heighten Geopolitical Rivalries in the Horn of Africa

Michael Horton

The competition between regional and global powers for access to—and influence in—the Horn of Africa is intensifying. The Horn is Asia’s and the Gulf’s door to Africa’s vast natural resources. While great powers’ growing interest in the Horn may lead to greater development in the region, the battle between rival states also threatens to further destabilize the region.