27 April 2022

Afghan IS Group Claims Series of Bombings Targeting Shiites

Kathy Gannon

An Islamic State affiliate on Friday claimed a series of bombings a day earlier that targeted Afghanistan’s minority Shiite Muslims, while Pakistan issued a warning of IS threats in its eastern Punjab province.

The deadliest of three bombings on Thursday in Afghanistan exploded inside a Shiite mosque in northern Mazar-e-Sharif. Hospital officials say at least 12 people were killed and as many as 40 were hurt.

Is Japan Willing to Pay the Price of Sanctioning Russia?

Christopher Edward Carroll

Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has moved forward with key measures in response to Russian aggression in Europe. Following discussions with world leaders, Kishida announced that Japan would triple its loans to Ukraine, bringing the total to $300 million. Speaking from Europe in March, Kishida pointed out that now remains an important time for cohesion among the international community to support Ukraine.

Kishida’s government is intent on sanctioning Russia and supporting Ukraine. But can Japan’s prime minister remain focused on foreign policy challenges while keeping voters at home onside, particularly with the potential for these measures to contribute to inflation and impact Japan’s economic recovery?

India’s Subtle Shifts Toward the West and Away From Russia

Niranjan Marjani

Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war India has abstained from voting 11 times whenever this issue has come up – be it the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

However, India has unequivocally condemned the violence and called for the resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy. Further India has called for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. India also sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine and expressed its outrage at the civilian killings in Ukraine’s Bucha, calling for an independent probe into this incident.

There’s a Crisis Unfolding in Southeastern Myanmar

Nai Aue Mon and Maggi Quadrini

On April 4, residents in Kawkareik township, Karen State (also known as Kayin State) awoke to heavy artillery fire by the junta’s 97th Infantry Battalion. A 17-year-old girl was struck by the shells and was killed on the way to the hospital. Four others were seriously injured.

The strikes were only the latest in a series of ongoing, relentless attacks against civilians in southeastern Myanmar. The Karen National Liberation Army, an armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), confirmed that the junta’s fighter jets had attacked Kyeik and Paikaldon village tracts, an area held by the KNLA’s 6th Brigade. The fighting continued through the first week of the month, forcing roughly 600 villagers to flee in at least four airstrikes over the last month.

How to develop the cyber warfare leaders the military needs

Tom Temin

The armed services need to expend their numbers of high-ranking cybersecurity and cyber warfare officers. The next guest on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin says the place to do that is at the war colleges, because right now there’s not enough educational capacity in the military. Alfredo Rodriguez is senior analyst to the Marine Corps deputy commandant for information, and a retired Army signal lieutenant colonel.

3 ways Russia has shown military ‘incompetence’ during its invasion of Ukraine

James Dwyer

Two weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has become apparent Russia’s military is experiencing failures – both technical and strategic – that are perhaps unexpected from one of the world’s largest military forces.

There are multiple issues one could look at in relation to Russia’s poor military performance in Ukraine to date, such as being unable to effectively counter Ukrainian drones, or failing to deliver on the kind of cyber warfare expected.

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.

History Shows The Russian Army Can Mount A Comeback In Ukraine

Julian Spencer-Churchill and Attila Arslaner

Prior to the war in Ukraine, intelligence gathering by the Russian GRU failed to appreciate the rise of Ukrainian identity and morale, nor did it anticipate their resistance, facilitating Russia’s exceptionally poor performance in its February invasion of Ukraine. In addition, poor logistics planning, and in particular an absence of training by the armored and air force, has led to egregious equipment and personnel losses. This creates an inability to either achieve air superiority or advance quickly on the ground.

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.

How Ukraine Won the Battle for Kyiv

Oz Katerji

Before Russia launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, intelligence assessments coming out of Washington and London were bleak about Kyiv’s chances of survival. It and the rest of Ukraine were set to be outmanned, outgunned and surrounded by one of the most powerful modern military forces ever assembled, they believed.

As Russian troops were advancing on the city, US officials even offered to evacuate Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky from Kyiv, only for him to shoot back: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride” in what is now one of the most famous political quotes of the 21st century.

Usage of Reservists and Irregulars in Ukraine

I had already written on why Ukraine was so successful in its resistance to Russian invasion. Reasons are many, but here I will be addressing one reason in particular: usage of reservists and irregular units.

Ever since the end of the Cold War, NATO had been turning to a professional army model, under assumption that it is more effective and easier to deploy. But the professional army is essentially an offensive army: good for NATO’s imperial interventions, but not good for national defense or a protracted defensive war. Home Guard / territorial defense can be extremely effective for the purposes of home defense, and war in Ukraine is an excellent example.

Can Sanctions Really Stop Putin?

When Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, trampling on the sovereignty of a neighbor, international sanctions were the best path forward for the United States and its allies to take. The ruthlessness and grave atrocities toward civilians that have ensued since only reinforce that call.

As of this week, those sanctions have made dents in both Russia’s economy and its ability to wage war in Ukraine. As foreign companies have withdrawn operations from Russia, Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, estimated that some 200,000 people there are at risk of losing their jobs, and there’s some evidence that the decision by Europe and the United States to restrict the export of microchips has already affected Russia’s ability to produce and repair tanks. The sanctions have also sent a vital message of support to the Ukrainian people.

The New Nuclear Reality

Nicholas Konrad

In his Nobel Peace Prize speech, in 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, pronounced that “the risk of a global nuclear war has practically disappeared.” Moscow and Washington had veered “from confrontation to interaction and, in some important cases, partnership,” he said. The Soviet Union’s collapse—which birthed fifteen new states, including Ukraine—transformed the world. In the new Europe, Gorbachev added, every country believed that it had become “fully sovereign and independent.” Historians imagined that the end of the Cold War would lead to the demise of the nuclear age, amid new diplomacy and arms-control treaties. The ingrained fears—that kilotons of destructive energy and toxic radiation could decimate a city and incinerate tens of thousands of human beings—began to dissipate. Beyond policy wonks, the word “nuclear” largely dropped from the public lexicon.

A New Iron Curtain Splits Russia From the West

Carla Norrlöf

Today’s standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine can be traced back to 2004, a little more than a decade after the end of the Cold War. At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was just embarking on his second term, and he began nurturing a cult of personality, voicing grievances about perceived threats on Russia’s security perimeter, and positioning himself as the defender of Russia’s great power status.

Is China looking for a greater role in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan?

Dr. Anwesha Ghosh

When the Taliban ceased power in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, most countries closed down their diplomatic mission in Kabul and started evacuating their citizens out of Afghanistan. But there were four notable exceptions- China, Pakistan, Russia and Iran, who decided to continue. China was among the first nations to develop a diplomatic channel with the Taliban regime and declared that it was ready for a “friendly and cooperative”[i] relations with the regime - the groundwork for that prompt decision, however, was laid down much earlier. Over the years, China had maintained direct communication with the Taliban, and both sides have met on several occasions, bilaterally and internationally, underscoring China’s warming ties with the Islamist group.

Has Turkey become an armed drone superpower?

James Jeffrey

Once better known for its distinctive style of making potent coffee and its gelatinous confectionary cubes called Turkish Delight, these days Turkey is making a name for itself through a more deadly means: as a major global player in armed drone development.

I first got an inkling of this after Tigrayan forces in Ethiopia’s dreadfully drawn-out civil conflict mounted an astonishing counterattack southward through enemy territory that left them positioned to take the capital and topple the Ethiopian government. It had seemed it really could be over for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who called on the capital’s civilians to arm and ready themselves for a last-ditch defence. But suddenly the Tigrayan forces withdrew all the way back north, from whence they had attacked so decisively.

Russia’s Nuclear Threats in the War against Ukraine

The Kremlin has given the war in Ukraine an explicit nuclear dimension through various actions and statements. First, Russia conducted a manoeuvre with its nuclear forces in mid-February, shortly before the invasion. While it had been known for a few months that the exercise would take place in early 2022, the choice of timing seemed linked to the Ukraine crisis. After all, this annual exercise of Russia’s nuclear forces normally takes place in the fall, and Russian news coverage deliberately drew attention to the event. On February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, Putin then warned in a speech that there would be unprecedented consequences should third states attempt to “obstruct” Russia. Such wording is traditionally considered to imply a threat to use nuclear weapons. The Rus­sian president went further on February 27, announcing that Russia’s deterrent forces, which include nuclear weapons, would be placed on a “special regime of alert”.

If We Don’t Want Nuclear War, Why Are We Pushing for One?

Ted Galen Carpenter

The principal features of the U.S. and NATO response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are now readily apparent. In addition to the U.S.-led effort to orchestrate a campaign of global economic warfare to isolate and punish Russia, Washington and its allies have adopted a policy of showering Kyiv with sophisticated weapons to boost the effectiveness of the country’s military resistance. Proposals also keep surfacing to provide Ukraine with more capable jet fighters. In addition to the weaponry, the United States and other NATO members are actively sharing military intelligence with Ukraine.

Was NATO Enlargement a Mistake?

Francis Gavin, Joseph S. Nye and Stephen M. Walt

Foreign Affairs recently published a number of pieces on NATO, the decision to proceed with its enlargement, and its impact on European and global security. To complement these articles, Foreign Affairs solicited a broad pool of experts for their take. As with previous surveys, dozens of authorities with specialized expertise relevant to the question at hand, together with leading generalists in the field were approached. Participants were asked to state whether they agreed or disagreed with a proposition and to and to rate their confidence level in their opinion.

Four Unanswered Questions about the Intersection of War and Nuclear Power

Julien de Troullioud de Lanversin

For a night on March 3, Russian military forces seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, damaged its infrastructure, and spread fear of a nuclear catastrophe. Fortunately, the attack did not threaten sensitive areas of the nuclear power plant, and radiation levels around the plant did not raise concern. Still, the crisis underscored the danger posed by a war that crosses paths with a nuclear power plant. Since this may be a case of when, not if, the next wartime attack on a nuclear power plant happens, scholars and policymakers would be wise to revisit concepts for assessing and protocols for responding to nuclear power plant crises in war zones.

Putin’s struggles in Ukraine may embolden Xi on Taiwan

Hal Brands

One of the biggest questions of the Ukraine war concerns tensions half a world away: What lessons will China draw from the Russian invasion?

Western observers hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s faltering invasion of Ukraine will convince China to go slow — that it will discourage President Xi Jinping from undertaking an invasion of Taiwan. Yet there’s a real possibility that it could actually induce Beijing to go fast — to use force more harshly and decisively in hopes of avoiding the type of quagmire into which Moscow has stumbled.

Informatized wars: How China thinks about cyber

A Reasonable Request

A group of former national security leaders has sent another letter to Congress, asking lawmakers to conduct a formal national security review of any pending legislation aimed at “Big Tech.” The signatories include a former director of national intelligence, secretary of defense, secretary of homeland security, and commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency. This is like another letter sent late last year on which I also commented.

Russia Runs Low on Precision Munitions as New Phase in the War Begins

Kris Osborn

In the initial weeks of the war in Ukraine, Russia’s heavy missile and artillery bombardment of Ukrainian civilian areas revealed what appeared to be a deliberate effort to terrorize the Ukrainian people.

What makes this all the more disturbing is the reality that Russia has precision-guided weapons and, should it wish to, could easily pinpoint military targets with surgical bomb and missile strikes. Therefore, the attacks on civilians appeared to be quite deliberate right from the start, given that Russia has the technical means to limit casualties.

Beyond the War: How the Pentagon Will Defend Ukraine

Kris Osborn

The Pentagon is now closely working with its European allies to craft a “longer-term” support strategy for Ukraine, given that the war is evolving into a protracted military conflict.

The planning will likely move into the implementation stage soon, as U.S. defense secretary Lloyd Austin is set to travel to Germany on April 26 to meet with allies regarding the situation in Ukraine. Austin will host a Ukraine Defense Consultative Group at Ramstein Air Base, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said.

Sitting Ducks: Why Russia’s Tanks Have Been So Vulnerable in Ukraine

Kris Osborn

Ukrainian anti-armor weapons have destroyed many Russian armored combat vehicles and attacking tanks, which continues to generate discussion about the effectiveness of hit-and-run ambush tactics with shoulder-fired anti-armor weapons. Does Ukraine’s success indicate that tanks may actually be more vulnerable in warfare than had previously been thought?

Ukraine Needs More Military Aid to Stand Its Ground Against Russia

Mark Temnycky

Over the past eight weeks, Ukrainians have shown incredible resilience against the Russian invasion. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, over 21,000 Russian soldiers have died since the start of the invasion (Western officials estimate the figure is closer to 15,000). Thousands of Ukrainian civilians have died, and the United States believes that 2,000 to 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers have perished in the war. This is in addition to the 14,000 ethnic Ukrainians and Russians who perished after the first Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Simply put, the war has been catastrophic.

How Ukraine Upended Europe’s Agriculture and Energy Policies

Bill Wirtz

In Europe, every political consensus of the last few decades has been thrown out the window. German pacifism, French president Emmanuel Macron’s belief that NATO is “braindead,” and now the continent’s entire agriculture sustainability strategy have been put into question. In response to disruptions in Europe’s food supply, the European People’s Party (EPP), the European Parliament’s largest parliamentary group, is demanding that the “Farm to Fork” strategy be called off.

Who Really Owns the World? Meet the Merchants of Power You’ve Never Heard Of

Carlos Roa

WHEN I was an undergraduate studying at Georgetown University, I used to listen to Al Jazeera English’s (AJE) coverage of global events—the Arab Spring was still in full swing at the time, and AJE’s reporting was second to none. On a May afternoon in 2011, one particular segment on Kamahl Santamaria’s show, Counting the Cost, stood out. Kamahl introduced a company that I had never heard of before: Glencore.

The company is a commodity trader—a business that focuses on the buying and selling of physical commodities, like grain, oil, copper, and so on. Most would dismiss this as relatively inconsequential; buying and selling commodities is one of the oldest kinds of trade in the world. What made Glencore stand out, Kamahl emphasized, was that “when one company has this much influence, through its size, and some say even its practices, then there is a concern.” He laid out the numbers: at the time, Glencore controlled 3 percent of the world’s oil market, 50 percent of the global copper market, 60 percent of zinc, and 9 percent of the world’s grain. “Think about the effect that would have on food prices,” Kamahl cautions, “the absolute basics for so many people around the world.” If controlling the food supply of entire nations isn’t a significant form of power, then what is?

The Coming Anarchy in Outer Space

Robert A. Manning Peter A. Wilson

TO ELON Musk—the founder of the extremely successful space launch vehicle and communication satellite company, SpaceX—colonizing the Moon and Mars, becoming a “multi-planet species,” is both profitable and vital to the future of humanity. NASA has endorsed this expansive vision of the next generation of human space flight in the form of a close collaboration between the Artemis lunar exploration program and SpaceX to employ a lunar lander derived from the very high-performance Starship design by the end of this decade.

Claymores: Bringing Russian Convoys to a Dead Halt

Guy McCardle

The Claymore Explained

We’ve all likely heard the term Claymore by now. They’ve been in use since 1960. Sometimes you’ll hear them called “Claymore mines.” And that’s a fair term; they are antipersonnel mines. The proper military name of them is the M18A1 Claymore Antipersonnel Mine. The name says it all; they were designed and built to take out people.

You’d be wrong if you assumed the name came from the person who built the first one. Instead, its inventor, Norm McLeod, named it after a large Scottish medieval sword that was used with two hands to “cut people down.” Clever guy, that McLeod.