25 April 2022

Finland and Sweden Would Make NATO Stronger

Erik Brattberg

As a direct consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden, two traditionally militarily non-aligned Nordic countries, now appear to be racing towards NATO membership with cool-headed but determined steps. Already strong NATO partners with close ties to the United States, joint Finnish and Swedish NATO membership would nevertheless be a big deal for the alliance at a pivotal moment for European security.

While the debate in Finland has come farther with signs that Helsinki may seek to apply as early as May, prospects that Sweden could follow suit were raised during recent talks in Stockholm between Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson and her Finnish counterpart, Sanna Marin. Next month, Finnish president Sauli Niinistö is slated to make a state visit to Sweden to discuss the “changing security policy situation.” His trip could overlap with the release of the Swedish government’s forthcoming analysis of NATO membership which will follow the publication of a Finnish white paper that examines the same issue. Opinion polls in both countries show surging support for membership—with a recent Swedish survey showing a record-high 57 percent of Swedes in favor.

Putin’s War Threatens Microchips, Teeth, and Beer

Christina Lu  and Robbie Gramer

There’s a semiconductor supply crunch, the cost of tooth fillings is spiking in Japan, sofas in Britain are becoming pricier, and American breweries are scrambling to find enough aluminum cans for their beer. All these economic headaches can be traced back to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves across global commodities markets as many of Ukraine’s most vital exports grind to a halt under Putin’s war machine and new waves of international sanctions begin shutting off Russian industries from the global markets. Western policymakers are spending the bulk of their time trying to fight rising energy prices and figure out how to wean off Russian oil and gas, not to mention feed the millions of people who relied on Russian and Ukrainian grain.

China’s Taiwan Invasion Plans May Get Faster and Deadlier

Bonny Lin  and John Culver

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has fueled concern over China’s plans for Taiwan, which it has repeatedly threatened to invade. Some speculate that the odds of invasion have increased, while others argue that Western unity and Russian military failures should counsel Chinese caution regarding the island.

This discussion conflates two different questions: Has the Ukraine conflict changed Beijing’s willingness to use force against Taiwan? And has the Ukraine conflict altered Beijing’s and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) assessments of its ability to conduct a successful amphibious invasion of Taiwan?

Russia Tries for a Do-Over of Ukraine Invasion in the Donbas

Jack Detsch  and Robbie Gramer

Russia began a major new offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region on Tuesday, top Ukrainian officials said, marking the start of a new campaign and a clear effort by the Kremlin to regain the initiative in a 54-day war that was meant to last three.

The offensive began with widespread artillery shelling that extended from the Donbas, where Russian troops had already spent most of the weekend trying to break through Ukrainian lines, along the entire front of the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv, all the way to the southern city of Mykolaiv, another area where fighting has been deadlocked for weeks.

NDIA Policy Points: U.S. Can’t Wait Any Longer for a Cyber Force

Jacob Winn

In 1947, the United States acknowledged that air power had fundamentally changed warfare by creating the Department of the Air Force.

Lawmakers saw the need for a service that could independently train, equip and prepare for the full spectrum of air operations.

They foresaw that controlling the air domain had become one of the ends of war, not just a means of controlling land and sea. Despite the “Revolt of the Admirals” — prompted in part by the planned creation of the department — the re-organization succeeded. Today, the lack of an independent air domain service would be unthinkable to most policymakers.


John Sullivan

One of the enduring appeals of Sun Tzu’s Art of War is the belief that its author was not only a talented theorist of war, but also a highly successful practitioner. His writings, therefore, were validated in the uncompromising crucible of combat. His crowning achievement of military and strategic prowess, according to conventional wisdom, is found in his brilliant victory at the Battle of Boju, fought in 506 BCE between the forces of Wu and Chu. In Deciphering Sun Tzu, Derek Yuen claims that the battle was one “in which Sun Tzu played a major planning and commanding role, eventually winning a stunning victory against his state’s (Wu) arch-enemy, the state of Chu, [marking] the pinnacle of military operations in the Spring and Autumn Period and represent[ing] Sun Tzu’s greatest military achievement.”

The Endless War in Ukraine

Douglas Macgregor

President Joe Biden and the U.S. Congress have committed the American People to a moral crusade designed to justify an open-ended proxy war in Ukraine against Russia. Proxy war—a conflict in which the U.S. is aligned with a belligerent (Ukraine) but is not directly involved—appeals to Washington because Ukrainians, not Americans, fight or die in the conflict.

Of course, blurring the line between war and peace with Moscow is dangerous; only more so in Ukraine, because Russian Military Operations cannot be stopped unless the American People are prepared to go to war. This recognition has not prevented an expanding U.S. military commitment to Ukraine in the form of military advice and materiel assistance, but U.S. assistance cannot change the reality that more weapons and better intelligence support from Washington and its NATO allies will not secure victory for Ukrainian Forces.

Deadly Blaze Ripped Through Russia’s Top Air Defense Research Lab


A major fire broke out today in a secretive Russian military research center, killing several people, injuring others, and leaving significant damage in its wake. The facility in Tver, 120 miles northwest of Moscow, is responsible for diverse research focused on air defense, but reportedly crosses over between the fields of both space and the military. Most notably, it reportedly studies stealth technologies — and, above all, counters to use against them.

Against World War III Is a long, bloody war between Russia and Ukraine really in our national interest?

David Bromwich

Russia invaded Ukraine in violation of international law, and now we stand on a precipice. Advocates of war are saying that World War III has already begun, and the United States should therefore plunge in. How can they say that? People may finally hurl themselves into an abyss from the sheer terror of falling.

I learned something about this mood from a retired Foreign Service veteran. On October 27, 1962, he was sitting in the next room, listening on an intercom with second-echelon State Department officials while President Kennedy and his advisers discussed the appropriate response to Russian missiles in Cuba. As we now know, Kennedy barely held off an almost unanimous recommendation to bomb. What my informant vividly recalled was the mood of decision. They all recognized that a nuclear war would be a catastrophe of unimaginable dimensions; but at a certain point, the momentum seemed irresistible. “I thought to myself,” he said, “OK, let’s just do this.”

The Unreformed Russian Military

Jeff Hawn

In late March, Russia’s military said it was withdrawing from northern Ukraine after a month of failing to capture the Ukrainian capital. Its withdrawal revealed grim evidence of war crimes. In towns like Bucha, previously a leafy suburban town of Kyiv, excavators found traces of at least 300 civilians murdered, mostly men of military age — some dumped in mass graves, others left in the street. Similar crimes have also been widely reported in Irpin, Borodyanka, and Hostomel. These towns witnessed cases of murder, as well as looting, rape and sexual abuse.

‘Worst crisis since the second world war’: Germany prepares for a Russian gas embargo

Rosenthal, one of Germany’s oldest porcelain manufacturers, has seen plenty of disruption in its 140-year history. But nothing has prepared it for this: the threat of a cut-off of natural gas that would bring production of its bone china plates, bowls and vases to an abrupt halt.

 “We can’t live without gas,” says Mads Ryder, Rosenthal’s chief executive. “We don’t have an alternative energy source.”

 The war in Ukraine is reordering the global energy landscape. Shocked by the devastation visited on Ukrainian cities by Russian bombs, the EU has imposed swingeing sanctions on Russian hydrocarbons. Coal is banned; oil could be next. Gas may also be on the agenda.

Why China Isn’t Backing Away From Alignment With Russia

Hanns W. Maull

China claims to be neutral in Russia’s war in Ukraine, but this neutrality is easy to see through: Beijing refuses to criticize Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and it blames the United States and NATO for inciting the war. So far, the “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for A New Era” between Russia and China, concluded in 2019 and re-affirmed during the most recent bilateral summit on February 4, has held fast throughout the war.

Climbing the ladder: How the West can manage escalation in Ukraine and beyond

Richard D. Hooker

Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is transforming Europe’s security architecture, as well as NATO’s strategic priorities and its defense and deterrence posture. Russia’s ruthless aggression and NATO’s response increase the possibility of purposeful or inadvertent escalation in Europe. Whether this takes the form of heightened conflict in Ukraine, increased tension across the whole or parts of NATO’s eastern flank—from Ukraine and the Black Sea to the Baltic Region and the High North—or in non-kinetic, subthreshold domains, understanding how these dynamics might degrade transatlantic stability is critical. This study will seek to identify key rungs on the escalation ladder around the war in Ukraine; assess how the current crisis might escalate inside Ukraine and across NATO’s eastern flank; explore how the US and NATO posture can prevent or limit escalation; and offer recommendations for how the United States and NATO can adapt their strategy, posture, and activities to manage escalatory dynamics.

Let Ukraine In A former U.S. ambassador to NATO makes the case that the alliance should welcome Kyiv.

Ivo Daalder

After suffering embarrassing defeats in the past couple of months, Vladimir Putin is doubling down on his war. He is rearming, resupplying, and repositioning Russian forces for a major new onslaught in eastern Ukraine. Even if his troops are finally able to dislodge Ukraine’s, however, that’s unlikely to be enough to satisfy him. He may agree to a cease-fire or a negotiation to give his military time to regroup. But as long as Putin is in power, Russia will continue to do whatever it can to reverse the post–Cold War settlement that has animated Putin ever since the Soviet Union collapsed.

Lessons From the Battle for Kyiv

Alex Vershinin

It has been eight weeks since the Russian government launched a multi-pronged offensive into Ukraine. In the north, the Russian army laid siege to Kyiv for almost a month. The operation rapidly degenerated into an urban battle of attrition favorable to Ukraine, and eventually the Russian government withdrew its troops, conceding defeat in the battle for Kyiv, while preparing a second phase of the war in Donbas. While the fog of war prevents in-depth analysis, two initial lessons stand out from the first phase of the conflict. First, do not rely on the invaded nation’s popular support. The Russian government appeared to build its operation around the assumption that Ukrainian elites and the populace would support the overthrow of their government, or at the very least stand aside. They did not expect heavy resistance from the Ukrainian population. Second, know when to quit. The Russian government accepted a tactical defeat and the political costs associated with it in order to preserve their combat power for a decisive battle under more favorable circumstances. Both lessons seem self-explanatory, but, previously, many governments have hoped an invasion would trigger a regime change and then refused to correct course when popular support failed to materialize.

AI Is Already Learning from Russia’s War in Ukraine, DOD Says


Less has been said about the use of artificial intelligence in the Ukraine war than, say, anti-tank missiles, but the Pentagon is quietly using AI and machine-learning tools to analyze vast amounts of data, generate useful battlefield intelligence, and learn about Russian tactics and strategy, a senior Defense Department official said on Thursday.

“What you're not seeing,” said Maynard Holiday, director of defense research and engineering for modernization, is “our exquisite intelligence capabilities that are able to oversee the battlefield,” including gathering and archiving signals intelligence.

Biden Announces Third $800M Weapons Package To Ukraine To Help Donbas Fight


The White House is sending another $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine to equip forces to counter the new Russian offensive in the Donbas, President Joe Biden announced Thursday.

This latest batch of weapons—the third $800 million package that the White House has sent to Ukraine since March 16—has nearly emptied the fund Congress authorized on March 11 to support Ukraine. Biden said he will send a supplemental budget request to Capitol Hill next week so the United States can continue providing weapons as the war stretches into its second month.

Saudi Arabia targets a more Republican Washington

James M. Dorsey

Rather than push for an immediate improvement of strained relations with the United States, Saudi Arabia appears to be looking forward to a time when US President Joe Biden's wings may be clipped.

The kingdom seems to be betting on a better reception in Washington if Democrats lose control of Congress in this year’s midterm elections and/or Donald J. Trump or a Republican candidate with similar inclinations wins the White House in the 2024 presidential election.

The U.S. Can Do More for Afghan Women Than Shame the Taliban

Charli Carpenter

A month ago, when all eyes were on the war in Ukraine, the Taliban quietly reneged on their promise to put school-age girls back in classrooms. This followed a six-month period in which women faced crippling restrictions on their employment, freedom of movement, dress, access to healthcare and participation in sports, plus gender-based violence, torture and arrest if they protested. But the international community’s initial response—to pull humanitarian aid, for instance—threatens to make matters even worse.

Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa Leadership Won’t Step Down

Sumit Ganguly  and Dinsha Mistree,

Sri Lanka announced last week that it would default on $51 billion of foreign debt, marking the first time in 20 years that a South Asian country has faced such an economic crisis. Sri Lankans now lack fuel for their cars, face regular power cuts, and are preparing for a looming food shortage. Although recent challenges—chief among them the COVID-19 pandemic—have compounded Sri Lanka’s economic plight, the default has been decades in the making.

Is Ukraine’s Endgame a Russian Land Bridge?

Anchal Vohra

After failing in its maximalist goals of overthrowing Ukraine’s government, Russia has had to lower its expectations and focus on limited outcomes. Russian President Vladimir Putin is redefining his war aims as he goes along, depending on Russia’s performance in the battlefield, and for now has turned all attention to eastern Ukraine.

Imran Khan’s Dangerous Game Khan’s nationalist politics have already polarized Pakistan. Now he’s emerged as an even more dangerous loser.

Javid Ahmad,

Pakistan has rapidly lurched into disarray after Imran Khan became the country’s first prime minister to be removed from power in a parliamentary vote of no confidence on April 10. In a gambit to block his ouster, Khan made stunning allegations, accusing the United States of plotting a coordinated conspiracy with a motley coalition of Pakistani opposition parties to topple his government.

Russia and the First Economic World War

Antonia Colibasanu

As momentous as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is, the most strategically important event in recent weeks was the global economic war between Russia and the U.S. and its allies. Russia, however, has been preparing to confront the West and challenge the Western socio-economic model for a long time. The Putin Era to the Pandemic Russia’s

Iraq’s Oil Dysfunction The world’s sixth-largest oil producer still suffers from fuel shortages and power outages.

Mina Al-Oraibi

As Iraq marks 19 years since the U.S.-led invasion and the fall of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime this month, the country hasn’t turned into the stable, prosperous democracy that the United States and its allies promised and Iraqis hoped it would. Militias roam the country, corruption is rife, basic services are still lacking, and the country’s politicians have been unable to form a government in the six months that have passed since the last national election.

Tracking Developments in Counterspace Weapons

Todd Harrison: Hi. Good morning, everyone. I’m Todd Harrison. I’m senior fellow and director of the Aerospace Security Project here at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It’s my pleasure to welcome a number of guests, old friends, colleagues for this discussion today about counterspace weapons, threats to space systems, and the two reports that the team here at CSIS and our colleagues at the Secure World Foundation just recently released on these two important topics.

Are Semiconductors a National Security Issue?

Chi-hung Wei

As East Asia emerged as the world’s main chip-making hub, the United States’ share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity has decreased from 37 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2021. Despite U.S. dominance in chip design, industry giants including Intel, Micron, Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments produce their chips overseas or contract out production to companies abroad. The lack of manufacturing capability, together with the current chip shortage, has prompted U.S. leaders to treat semiconductors as an essential element of national security, especially in the context of tense China-U.S. relations. In March 2022, for example, President Joe Biden referred to semiconductors as “so critical to our national security… that we’re going to create rules to allow us to pay a little more for them if they’re made in America.” Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “semiconductor manufacturing is a dangerous weak spot in our economy and in our national security.”


Benjamin Arbitter and Kurt Carlson

Over the opening phase of their invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces have struggled to achieve their most ambitious objectives. In the face of spirited Ukrainian resistance, the Russian advance has slowed, and losses of men and equipment have been substantial, even if hotly debated. Russia’s difficulties have surprised some Western observers, who expected a rapid victory. Russian malaise is even more surprising considering recent experience in Syria, where Russian forces demonstrated efficient use of drones and tailored force structure—elements they have failed to effectively implement in Ukraine thus far.

Putin claims victory in Mariupol; Ukrainian fighters hold on

Pavel Polityuk

KYIV, April 21 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory on Thursday in the biggest battle of the Ukraine war, declaring the port city of Mariupol "liberated," although hundreds of Ukrainian troops and civilians were still holding out inside a giant steel works.

The United States disputed Putin's claim and said it believed Ukrainian forces still held ground in the city. Putin ordered his troops to blockade the steel complex, where Ukrainians were told earlier to either surrender or die.


John Sullivan

One of the enduring appeals of Sun Tzu’s Art of War is the belief that its author was not only a talented theorist of war, but also a highly successful practitioner. His writings, therefore, were validated in the uncompromising crucible of combat. His crowning achievement of military and strategic prowess, according to conventional wisdom, is found in his brilliant victory at the Battle of Boju, fought in 506 BCE between the forces of Wu and Chu. In Deciphering Sun Tzu, Derek Yuen claims that the battle was one “in which Sun Tzu played a major planning and commanding role, eventually winning a stunning victory against his state’s (Wu) arch-enemy, the state of Chu, [marking] the pinnacle of military operations in the Spring and Autumn Period and represent[ing] Sun Tzu’s greatest military achievement.”

The Use of the Russian Troll During Crimea

Dr. Sarah Morrison

The Russian government controls the spread of information, propaganda and disinformation through a repetitive narrative supported by experts and propagated by trusted sources. This paper will examine Russia’s use of conspiracy theories to run information warfare campaigns. An underlining theme in Russian conspiracy theories examined in this paper is a plot by the West, particularly the US, to undermine Russian values. In this sense, the US and the West are seen as the dangerous ‘other’, polluting Russia’s way of life while trying to wrench away from Russian countries with a large Russian population and a long connection to Russia, such as the former Soviet Union states. The use of conspiracy theory to drive a political agenda in Russia, as will be demonstrated, dates back to the mid 18th century, with anti-Western conspiracy theories being amongst the “most popular instruments of social cohesion used by the political elites to maintain control over the county” (Yablokov, 2018: 48). Examples of anti-Western conspiracy theories include the anti-Semitic conspiracy that appeared in the Soviet Union period, which claimed that the US created a virtual state within Israel to dominate the Middle East. Another more recent example may be seen in the colour revolutions, where Moscow accused the West of orchestrating events to start a revolution in Russia.

Non-State-Led Proxy Warfare: The Missing Link in the Proxy Wars Debate

Tarik Solmaz

Conflicts in the early 21st-century have been dominated by proxy wars. In parallel with the dominance of the strategy of war by proxy in contemporary armed conflicts, the academic literature on proxy warfare has rapidly proliferated over the last two decades. Nevertheless, existing understandings of proxy warfare seem a bit problematic. Most scholars have considered proxy warfare as a way of warfare exclusively employed by states, in particular, global powers and regional actors.[1] However, non-traditional forms of proxy warfare do exist, and today we have witnessed non-state actors raising and training their own proxies. So, this paper argues that it is time to think about non-state-led proxy warfare.