22 April 2022

By now it’s clear: Sanctions are not stopping Putin


The massive, ever-expanding sanctions imposed on Russia in an attempt to halt the war in Ukraine have had some effect on the Russian economy, and perhaps on the internal politics in Moscow, but they have had little impact on the battlefield. What has had battlefield impact is Ukrainian resistance, with U.S., NATO and allied support.

Russia Learns From Past Failures as the Battle for the Donbas Kicks Off

Mark Episkopos

The Russian military is learning from its failures in northern Ukraine, according to a top U.S. defense official.

"What we have seen over the last few days is them continue to try to set the conditions," the official said in a phone call with reporters on Monday, as per CNN. "We call it shaping operations."

"It appears as if they are trying to learn from the failed lessons of the north where they didn't have proper sustainment capabilities in the area they were about to operate," the official said. The official added that the Russian military was seen moving heavy artillery, “command and control enablers,” and “aviation, particularly rotary aviation support” as part of its recent deployments in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Never too Late: The West Can Help Ukraine Destroy Russia’s Missile Forces

Kris Osborn

As we have seen for weeks, Russia’s ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, rockets, and artillery have unleashed immense devastation upon Ukraine. These land weapons are terrorizing and destroying Ukrainian lives, murdering innocent children, and decimating entire civilian neighborhoods.

Can Russia’s terror campaign with these ground fired-weapons be stopped? The Pentagon has an idea and is now finally sending 155mm M777 mobile Howitzers which may help this effort. However, there are also a variety of proven interceptors, technologies, and detection systems capable of tracking and, in some cases, even destroying incoming missiles. Would the Ukrainians benefit from advanced ground-radar systems and integrated defense systems such as Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar (CRAM) systems?

What Will U.S.-Supplied Howitzers Mean for the Battle of the Donbas?

Kris Osborn

Once U.S. experts have a chance to “train the trainers” outside of Ukraine, Ukrainian forces will be firing U.S. Army and Marine Corps artillery in a matter of days, Pentagon officials say.

The addition of 155mm artillery could be quite significant for Ukrainian forces, who have thus far been largely unable to strike Russian force concentrations from stand-off ranges. Most U.S. 155mm Howitzers can fire at ranges of up to thirty kilometers, which is much farther than the reported range of Ukraine’s Soviet-era artillery systems. Longer-range artillery could enable Ukrainian forces to attack force massing and staging areas used by Russian forces preparing to invade. In addition, by being used as suppressive area fire the artillery shells could enable Ukrainian forces to maneuver and deny entrance or passageway for Russian forces along key routes in the Donbas.

America’s Interest in Ukraine Is Not What You Think

Brendan Flynn

The United States’ primary security interest in Ukraine is a stable relationship with Russia, but you would not know it based on U.S. foreign policy. As John Mearsheimer has argued, the United States has pursued a revisionist policy “to make Ukraine a Western bulwark on Russia’s border.” This strategy, which included vague promises of eventual NATO membership, was pursued with naïve disregard for Russia’s security concerns and the likely effect on the U.S.-Russia relationship.

Technology and the Shifting Balance of Power

James Andrew Lewis

Pursuing a balance of power was a central goal for diplomacy in the great power competition of the nineteenth century. A balance of power meant preserving a rough parity with potential opponents, using alliances and military expansions. Alliances and military parity created stability. The objective was not to allow any single actor to dominate others. As a shaping concept for policy, balance of power has fallen into disuse. But it can provide a framework for the comparison of the relative strengths of states or groups of states, somewhat akin to the old Soviet concept of “correlation of forces.”

The Latest Aid Package to Ukraine Is a Major Escalation of Support

Mark F. Cancian

U.S. aid packages to Ukraine have become routine—four in the last three months—but the recently announced $800 million package is different. It expands support by including major crew-operated weapons and, for the first time, major U.S. weapons. The latter requires Ukrainians to be trained by U.S. troops. The package acknowledges the provision of Soviet-era weapons and, by what it does not include, implies that supplies of Javelins and Stingers may be getting low. The inclusion of items that will take weeks to deliver indicates that the United States now expects a long war. Finally, the U.S. record of providing about $52 million a day of military support means that the next aid package will be announced in late April and may involve another escalation.

The World and a Small War

George Friedman

No war is small when you are living in it, but the world is large, and large wars are rare. At the same time, wars reverberate in unexpected ways. A small war here might make another war elsewhere deadlier, or it might help prevent a war elsewhere. No war can be understood simply in and of itself. Therefore, the war in Ukraine must be considered not only in its own terms but also in terms of its reverberations. And since reverberations are by definition disorderly, in terms of their connection to both the primary war and its ultimate importance, I will arbitrarily embed the reverberations into my model of the world.

The Surprising Climate Cost of the Humblest Battery Material

AN ODE, FOR a moment, to the anode, for it is so frequently overlooked. When a battery is powered up, lithium ions rush toward this positively-charged end and ensconce themselves there until the energy is needed. Originally, anodes were made from lithium metal. But lithium metal is unstable, and liable to explode in contact with air or water, so scientists tried out carbon instead. Over the years, they refined it into a material composed of hexagonal atomic rings—a lattice that could hold an abundance of ions, without the explodey-ness. That material is graphite, the same stuff found in the tip of a No. 2 pencil. It is often said that the cathode—that’s the other end of the battery—is where the magic happens. It’s home to an arrangement of metals like cobalt, nickel, and manganese. But each of those metals is negotiable, depending on the specific battery design. Humble graphite isn’t. It helps define how much energy a battery can hold, and how fast it charges up.

EXCLUSIVE: MS Teams users at Army Futures Command potentially exposed private info


WASHINGTON: Users of the Microsoft Teams platform at Army Futures Command earlier this month potentially exposed personal and health identifying information to an unsecured number of department employees, and AFC is moving to prevent it from happening again, according to a memo obtained by Breaking Defense.

Ukraine war shows America could be outgunned without investing in energetics


Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has been a wake-up call. Footage of missile strikes and burned-out tanks reminds us that control of territory still matters, and that the explosive power behind munitions like missiles, rockets, and artillery is key to asserting control of the battlefield.

What these munitions have in common is that they rely on energetic materials — critical chemicals that help determine the range, size, and explosive power of missiles and rockets. Unfortunately, since the end of the Cold War, the United States has underinvested in energetics and now faces serious supply chain vulnerabilities. If the United States is pulled into a protracted war, it could find itself outgunned, fast.

Why the energy crisis and climate change are reigniting interest in nuclear power

THE WAR in Ukraine is causing countries to rethink their dependence on Russian energy. Some governments are turning to nuclear power. While unpopular, it is one of the safest and most sustainable forms of energy—and an essential weapon in the fight against climate change. Can innovations in technology and engineering help to revive the nuclear industry? Alok Jha hosts. Runtime:

Fighting has intensified in the Donbas region

“It can now be stated that Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas,” pronounced Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, late on April 18th. More than three weeks have now passed since Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, abandoned his assault on Kyiv and retreated from northern Ukraine. Now Mr Putin is throwing a large portion of his weary army at eastern Ukraine in the hope of salvaging something from his war. The coming weeks are likely to see the bloodiest battles since Russia first invaded the Donbas region in 2014.

Understanding Today’s PLA: Maneuver Warfare in Chinese History

Charles Anspach

“The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.”

Long before the era of Mao Zedong, Sun Tzu discussed how “the difficulty of tactical maneuvering consists in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain” in The Art of War.1 With clear parallels to the critical vulnerabilities and centers of gravity of Marine Corps maneuver doctrine, it seems apparent that Sun Tzu was something of an ancient “manueverist” himself. Was this manueverist mindset solely Sun Tzu’s, though? Or was Sun Tzu simply writing about the Chinese way of war? And, if so, how do these methods differ from our own?

What the PLA Is Learning From Russia’s Ukraine Invasion

Ying-Yu Lin

Soldiers from China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy march in formation during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China in Beijing, Tuesday, October 1, 2019.Credit: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine in what Moscow calls a “special military operation.” The ongoing war has already had a great impact on the whole world. China, in particular, has become a focus of attention in the international community because of its close interactions with Russia in recent years. Its stance on the armed conflict in Ukraine is a matter of great concern to many countries, especially to Western ones.

Yemen in the shadow of Russia’s war on Ukraine

Omer Karasapan

On April 1, 2022, the warring parties in Yemen agreed to a U.N. brokered two-month truce. By April 7, under Saudi and UAE tutelage, Yemeni President Hadi had transferred power to a presidential council uniting forces opposed to the Iran-supported Houthi rebels with a view to facilitate negotiations between the two warring sides. The Saudi blockade on fuel imports was called off and Houthi-controlled Sanaa will be allowed limited commercial flights. The two Gulf countries also deposited $3 billion in the Central Bank of Yemen.

China looks to learn from Russian failures in Ukraine


BANGKOK (AP) — With its ground troops forced to pull back in Ukraine and regroup, and its Black Sea flagship sunk, Russia’s military failings are mounting. No country is paying closer attention than China to how a smaller and outgunned force has badly bloodied what was thought to be one of the world’s most powerful armies.

China, like Russia, has been ambitiously reforming its Soviet-style military and experts say leader Xi Jinping will be carefully parsing the weaknesses exposed by the invasion of Ukraine as they might apply to his own People’s Liberation Army and his designs on the self-governed island of Taiwan.

Vladimir Putin Played Germany’s Aging Patriarchs for Fools

Alexander Clarkson

Usually, parents don’t congratulate their children for ending up in detention at school. But for my Ukrainian mom in early-1990s Germany, there were some things that mattered more than what my teachers thought.

Having opted to learn Russian at my high school in the city of Hanover, I quickly discovered that the version of history my teachers embraced did not square with what I had experienced growing up in the Ukrainian tradition. My Russian teachers espoused a deep commitment to promoting reconciliation between Germany and the Russian people, having embraced the idea that all of German society shared a collective responsibility for the Nazis’ crimes during World War II.

Lessons of Ukraine Raise Doubts about PLA Modernization

David Chen

In late 2021, ships from China’s North Sea Fleet conducted “Maritime Joint-2021” (海上联合-2021, Haishang lianhe-2021) with the Russian Pacific fleet, which was a joint naval exercise focused on securing sea lanes of communication. Not only did the exercise, “demonstrate the resolve of two great powers,” according to state media, it was also a chance for each side to observe the operational effectiveness of their counterparts (CCTV-7, October 15, 2021). Like all modern militaries, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is fundamentally a learning organization. Militaries must learn, adapt, and teach tactics and doctrine in a constant cycle. China’s military modernization and doctrinal reform have been largely informed by U.S. campaigns, which PLA observers have carefully parsed, including the Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo wars. From these observations, the PLA has embarked on a herculean effort to restructure, reform, retrain, and properly arm its forces. In its own words, joint training is the “bridge” or “ship” for ferrying the PLA to becoming a high-quality force. [1] For the past two decades, the PLA has been a ship being rebuilt while also underway. Now in the shadow of a Russian invasion of Ukraine that has seen a large and similarly reformed Soviet-style military largely fail to attain its primary objectives, the PLA must face the possibility that its own reforms are riddled with hidden weaknesses and fundamental faults.

With Russian Route Blocked, Uzbekistan Looks to Indian-Iranian-Afghan Chabahar Port Project

Vali Kaleji

The Russo-Ukraine war, the extensive Western sanctions against Russia, and the growing possibility that European border states will block east-west transit corridors traversing Russian territory into Europe are having far-reaching implications for the landlocked countries of Central Asia, which have historically relied on road and rail corridors through Russia to reach markets there and beyond. Prior to the war, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Belarus had all hoped to be part of the “New Eurasian Land Bridge” linking Europe to East Asia. But those aims were derailed when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale re-invasion of Ukraine on February 24. This has created a severe headache for China, endangering as it does its Belt and Road Initiative’s (BRI) northern route, which crossed Russia and the Black Sea via Central Asia (South China Morning Post, March 12).

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.

Patriots vs globalists replaces the left-right divide


 It was France that gave the world the concepts of the left and right in politics. Now it is France that is leading the way in the destruction of this divide and its replacement by a new politics, one in which the two dominant camps are nationalists and internationalists. 

The left-right cleavage has its origins in the French revolution of 1789 — when supporters of the royal veto stood on the right of the National Assembly and opponents stood to the left. Over the following two centuries, left and right became the central philosophical divide in western politics.

How the BBC Risks Eroding Its Neutrality

Henri Astier

When Tim Davie took over as director general of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in September 2020, he called for “a radical shift in our focus from the internal to the external, to focus on those we serve: the public.”

Announcing an end to navel-gazing was a remarkable act of contrition for the UK’s public broadcaster. It was prompted by Davie’s concern that on current trends the BBC “will not feel indispensable enough to all our audience.” In an effort to avert a fatal slide into irrelevance, he promised to create “an organization that is much more representative of the UK as a whole”: one that is 50% women, 20% ethnic minority and 12% disabled.

How China Would Wage War Against The ‘Great Wall In Reverse’

James Holmes

Could China defeat a “Great Wall in Reverse”? Suppose General David Berger, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, gets his way and transforms the corps into an island-hopping, missile-toting force able to transmute the first island chain into a “Great Wall in reverse”—a barricade against sea and air movement between the China seas and the Western Pacific. Chinese Communist Party magnates might be deterred for a time from misadventures in the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait, or East China Sea, but they would not meekly acquiesce in their imprisonment within coastal waters. After all, China must take to the high seas to make its “dream” of national rejuvenation come true. The leadership sees compelling economic, military, and diplomatic reasons to make China’s weight felt in world affairs.

War in a World that Stands for Nothing


LJUBLJANA – The so-called oligarchs in Russia and other ex-communist countries are a bourgeois counterpart to what Marx called the lumpen-proletariat: an unthinking cohort susceptible to political manipulation because its members have no class consciousness or revolutionary potential of their own. Unlike the proletariat, however, the lumpen-bourgeoisie who emerged in these countries from the late 1980s onward control capital – lots of it – thanks to wild “privatization” of state-owned assets.