28 April 2022


The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been increasing its study, training, and preparation for future urban warfare over the past decade. The PLA has limited experience with urban warfare and so often relies on observations of other militaries to inform its outlook. Among the drivers for this interest in urban warfare is that any Chinese campaign to force “(re)unification” with Taiwan could involve intense fighting in Taiwanese cities. The current edition of the Science of Military Strategy mentions an urban offensive (城市进攻) as a component of island operations (岛上作战) but does not elaborate on the conduct of such an offensive, likely because of the sensitivity of this scenario. This campaign could present a particular challenge, given that over 90 percent of Taiwan’s population lives in cities. Beyond the possibility of invading Taiwan, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is also concerned about terrorist threats, whether real and imagined, within China’s cities or against the security of Chinese citizens and businesses worldwide. Meanwhile, the conduct of urban counterterrorism has become the focus of several exercises and exchanges undertaken by the PLA and the People’s Armed Police (PAP).

Were Drone Strikes Effective? Evaluating the Drone Campaign in Pakistan Through Captured al-Qaeda Documents

Bryce Loidolt 

At a time when the United States seems likely to rely heavily on targeted killing as an instrument of counter-terrorism, scholars, policymakers, and other analysts remain divided over its utility. These disagreements have been especially pronounced in scholarship and commentary regarding the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan. This systematic review of declassified Arabic-language correspondence among senior al-Qaeda leaders and operatives suggests that drone strikes eroded the quality of al-Qaeda’s personnel base, forced the group to reduce communications and other activities, and compelled it to flee its safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal regions. Yet, the results were sometimes incomplete and took years of sustained pressure to achieve. U.S. policymakers should acknowledge these limitations and plan to supplement future lethal targeting campaigns with other complementary counter-terrorism instruments.

Prospects for U.S.-Japan Cyber Cooperation: Critical Infrastructure Protection and Joint Operations Perspectives

Keisuke Mizuhiro

In recent years, global dependence on cyberspace has deepened dramatically. At the same time, cyber attacks are increasing around the world, and cyber attacks on critical infrastructure such as electricity, gas, water, telecommunications, transportation, and finance are of particular concern.

Cyber attacks on critical infrastructure occur across the spectrum from daily life to inter-state conflicts. Recent full-spectrum examples include the SolarWinds incident in 2020, the Colonial Pipeline incident in 2021 which remains fresh in our minds, and Russia’s wide array of cyberattacks against Ukraine during its invasion of Crimea in 2014 and early in its ongoing 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Cyber attacks on critical infrastructure are now one of the key means of inter-state attack, and their impact is immeasurable.

A Weaker Russia and the West’s Opportunity in the South Caucasus

Nicholas Chkhaidze & Taras Kuzio

In 2021 the Russian Federation, ever seeking to grow its influence and counter Western ‘aggression’, proposed a ‘3+3 Format’ that could be used to bind the region closer together. The 3+3 Format would consist of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Armenia, Russia and Iran. There were concerns that it was a return to the days of spheres of influence, where larger nations would be in a position to determine the actions of smaller nations. In a new briefing, ‘A Weaker Russia and the West’s Opportunity in the South Caucasus’, Dr Taras Kuzio and Nicholas Chkhaidze have analysed the effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region and where there may be opportunities for the West.

China’s military rise and European technology

Joris Teer

The People’s Liberation Army is trying to become a “world class” military by leveraging the technological innovations of the 4th industrial revolution. In 2022, China still struggles with important military-technological gaps. Beijing should not be allowed to catch up with the help of European knowledge and technology. Traditionally a free-trading nation with a highly internationalized university system, the Netherlands is now engaged in a policy debate to put a stop to unwanted knowledge and technology transfer.

HCSS China Analyst Joris Teer outlines the debate so far, provides policy recommendations for the government and highlights a past failure of Dutch industry and the government to protect sensitive technology. That episode made the world a more dangerous place.

Experts Respond: Political Crisis in Pakistan | The Reasons behind the Turmoil and Its Implications

Amina Khan,  Waqas Sajjad

Pakistan has recently been experiencing turmoil, which resulted on Sunday, April 10, with the removal of Prime Minister Imran Khan from office, making him the first Pakistani prime minister removed through a no-confidence motion. The political situation in Pakistan started to deteriorate last week following the ruling of the deputy speaker of the National Assembly against the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan and the dissolving of the National Assembly as requested by the latter.

The political situation in Pakistan is still not stable, and a new government is expected to be formed soon. However, at this point, it is important to understand the reasons that led to this turmoil and what the removal of Khan from office means for Pakistan. Within this framework, several experts from Turkey and Pakistan have briefly analyzed the events and their implications, not only for Pakistan but for the region and the world as well.

Understanding Central Asia’s Cautious Approach to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Bruce Pannier

The governments in Central Asia are treading cautiously in their remarks about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Central Asia, too, was part of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, and, when some in Central Asia see the news from Ukraine, they might wonder if they are seeing their own future. That worrying thought must have crossed the minds of some officials in the Central Asian governments as well.

Officials in Kazakhstan, and, more recently, in Uzbekistan, have stated that their governments will not recognize the independence of the Kremlin-backed separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, as President Vladimir Putin announced Russia would do on February 21. Tashkent and Nur-Sultan have also called for an end to the violence in Ukraine but avoided any mention of the aggressor.

Hybrid CoE Paper 13: Digitalization and hybrid threats: Assessing the vulnerabilities for European security

Daniel Fiott

From artificial intelligence to quantum computing, emerging and disruptive technologies (EDTs) may be part of the next revolution in military affairs – but it is not clear how EDTs will shape the future of conflict or strategies aimed at countering hybrid threats. This Hybrid CoE Paper seeks to uncover what kind of role EDTs could play in European security. It does so by contextualizing the emergence of EDTs in the broader process of digitalization.

Challenges mount against U.S., allies in race to maintain stability in space

JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING – JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING – The combined in-orbit space fleets of China and Russia grew more than 70% in just over two years, evidence of both nations’ intent to undercut U.S. and allied global leadership in the space domain, according to a new report from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

While satellites and other space-based capabilities support vital American infrastructure and communication functions, they also afford the United States and its allies the crucial ability to project combat power to areas of conflict and instability. DIA’s report, “Challenges to Security in Space — 2022,” notes that American efforts to ensure that the space domain remains secure, stable and accessible are under threat.

Attacking the Metaverse

In China, 2021 was dubbed year one of the metaverse with extensive investment by local government, tech companies, major conferences, and studies all related to development and future of the metaverse. While there is not one authoritative definition recognized for the metaverse as it continues to evolve and develop, the basic idea is virtualizing and digitizing the real world. Stylianos Mystakidis from the University of Patras, echoes this idea in his definition, “The Metaverse is the post-reality universe, a perpetual and persistent multiuser environment merging physical reality with digital virtuality". Others have referred to it as a “physical Internet where you don’t just watch content, you’re a whole person in it”.

Conflict prevention: Taming the dogs of war

Mariano Aguirre, Dr Patricia Lewis

Europe finds itself confronted by something many thought would never be seen again: a war. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has seen millions of people become refugees, fleeing to Poland, Hungary, Germany, Moldova and Romania, and all within a matter of days.

For many, this level of overwhelming aggression and firepower, along with the dangerous, illegal attacks on civil nuclear power stations, the use of cluster munitions, landmines and the threatened use of nuclear weapons has come as an enormous shock.

Beyond India’s Lockdown: PMGKY Benefits During the COVID-19 Crisis and the State of Digital Payments

Alan Gelb, Anurodh Giri, Anit Mukherjee, Ritesh Rautela, Mitul Thapliyal 

India imposed a lock-down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and began a gradual re-opening in June. A telephonic survey in April examined the early effectiveness of information and the massive PMGKY social protection program (Policy Paper 217). This paper analyzes a second-round survey, conducted six months later. Logistical and information constraints had relaxed, and incomes and jobs had begun to stabilize for some. There were not strong indications of differential access to benefits by income or location, but constraints to providing public employment had tightened in the face of increased demand, resulting in greater job rationing. Men made more use of digital channels, with a clear smartphone ownership hierarchy between men and women; this divide carried over into the growing autonomous use of digital payments which is conditioned on access to smartphones. Survey results confirm strong local agglomeration effects in digital payments, mirroring the general pattern with higher use in states hosting India’s major technology hubs. At the same time, trust-based concerns reduced the use of assisted digital cash-outs through agents.

Taliban Defense Minister Challenges Pakistan Over Border Airstrikes

Trevor Filseth

Mullah Mohammed Yaqoob, the acting defense minister of the Taliban-led government of Afghanistan, vowed on Sunday that the country would not allow “invasions” from neighboring countries—an explicit criticism of Pakistan, whose military conducted airstrikes along the Afghan border last week.

The airstrikes, which took place near the eastern Afghan provinces of Khost and Kunar, allegedly killed as many as forty civilians, including twenty children. Pakistan has not yet confirmed its involvement in the strikes.

Has Russia Already Lost the Cyberwar With Ukraine?

Aaron Crimmins

Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has not gone to plan. As sanctions sink their teeth deeper into the Russian economy, and battlefield losses continue to pile up, the Russian leader has found himself with yet another headache, one that just months ago would have seemed absurd.

Since the invasion began on February 24, Russia has become the target of a seemingly unrelenting cascade of cyberattacks. While the Russian state and its citizens are no stranger to cybercrime and espionage, the sharp rise in hacks since the Russian Armed Forces began rolling into Ukraine is unprecedented. From Ukrainian state-affiliated intruders, to “hacktivists” such as Anonymous, and even lone wolves, Russian entities have been paying the price for Putin’s invasion.

Strategic Competition in the Financial Gray Zone

James Andrew Lewis, Eugenia Lostri and Donatienne Ruy

Over the past 10 years, the U.S. government has slowly reoriented its foreign and security policy from the fight against global terrorism toward strategic competition with Russia and China. This reorientation has been accompanied by a new examination of how strategic competition will impact the integrity and future stability of the U.S. economy and financial system. One of the most important elements of strategic competition is sub-threshold warfare (also called asymmetric, hybrid, or gray zone warfare), wherein strategic competitors seek to shape the geostrategic environment in their favor, from information operations to economic warfare—which includes such tools as illicit finance and strategic corruption. Strategic competitors present a clear economic and financial threat to the United States when they operate in the emerging financial gray zone, in which malign actors can take advantage of the U.S. financial system to further their aims and disarm the country internally. The U.S. government, along with its allies, has only begun to acknowledge the sweeping nature of the financial gray zone and to reposition itself to compete within it. Because adversaries exploit the seams between the internal and external policies and authorities, Washington must have greater insights into a complex operating system and better integrate data across the many relevant agencies—in a way, connecting the financial dots. As it develops this comprehensive picture, the U.S. government should develop stronger defensive and offensive policy tools to counter this emerging threat.

Foreign investors are ditching China. Russia's war is the latest trigger

Laura He

Hong Kong (CNN Business)Investors are ditching China on an unprecedented scale as a cocktail of political and business risks, and rising interest rates elsewhere, make the world's second biggest economy a less attractive place to keep their money.

China witnessed $17.5 billion worth of portfolio outflows last month, an all-time high, according to most recent data from the Institute of International Finance (IIF). The US-based trade association called this capital flight by overseas investors "unprecedented," especially as there were no similar outflows from other emerging markets during this period. The outflows included $11.2 billion in bonds, while the rest were equities.

Army progresses on electronic warfare revamp


WASHINGTON: The US Army’s electronic warfare portfolio is maturing with critical electronic warfare capabilities scheduled for fielding or prototyping in the next year.

The service is in the midst of a multi-year effort to rebuild its EW capabilities, after largely not investing in those platforms since the end of the Cold War. Through several new platforms, soldiers at the brigade level and higher will receive systems that will enable them to do electronic sensing and attack, as well as give commanders a better understanding of the electronic environment on the battlefield

Seven reasons Putin hasn’t launched a cyberwar in Ukraine - yet

Chris Zappone

Something of a mystery has emerged since the Russian invasion began: the lack of a cyberwar.

Russia and Ukraine hackers have honed their skills over many years targeting each other. Ukraine’s numerous allies make a rich set of targets. Western governments had been warning of action to come.

So, when Russian tanks began rolling over Ukraine’s border on February 24, many expected an online throw-down of epic proportions.

Post-war Russia and the Return of Karafuto

Daniel McKay

By now, no one can believe that economic sanctions will force Putin’s Russia to rethink its invasion of Ukraine. The rouble has stabilized, methods of bypassing sanctions are well known, and China will keep economic lifelines open. It may sound trite, but Russia isn’t going to back off just because McDonald’s has shut down its Moscow branches.

As the fighting grinds on, however, another reality becomes clear: Russia’s war chest will suffice for carrying out its ‘special military operation,’ but those resources are unlikely to see it through the peace that follows. At that point, foreign capital will be necessary in order to offset its decoupling from the Western World.


Micah Lee

RUSSIA IS KNOWN for its army of hackers, but since the start of its invasion of Ukraine, dozens of Russian organizations — including government agencies, oil and gas companies, and financial institutions — have been hacked, with terabytes of stolen data leaked onto the internet.

Distributed Denial of Secrets, the transparency collective that’s best known for its 2020 release of 270 gigabytes of U.S. law enforcement data (in the midst of racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd), has become the de facto home of the hacked datasets from Russia. The datasets are submitted to DDoSecrets mostly by anonymous hackers, and those datasets are then made available to the public on the collective’s website and distributed using BitTorrent. (I am an adviser to DDoSecrets).

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.

Macron Now Has to Put France Back Together Again

Judah Grunstein

Unlike European Union directives, which must be published in the languages of all the bloc’s member states, the sighs of relief heard across much of Europe at the outcome of yesterday’s French presidential election needed no translation. The suspense had already receded in the two weeks since the first-round ballot, as polls showed French President Emmanuel Macron widening his lead over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. But with Macron’s reelection now sealed, the sense of having dodged a bullet in Brussels, the capitals of Europe, Washington and of course Paris is no less palpable.

A negotiated peace is the only way to end Russia's war on Ukraine

Jeffrey Sachs

(CNN)There is only one answer to the war in Ukraine: a peace deal.

The two-pronged US strategy, to help Ukraine overcome the Russian invasion by imposing tough sanctions and by supplying Ukraine's military with sophisticated armaments, is likely to fall short. What is needed is a peace deal, which may be within reach. Yet to reach a deal, the United States will have to compromise on NATO, something Washington has so far rejected.

Sanctioning Russia Won’t Stop Putin. Just Look at Iran.

Kourosh Ziabari

The atrocities in Bucha, Mariupol, and other Ukrainian cities have taken the severity of Russia’s war in Ukraine to a whole new level. Graphic footage emerging of bullet-riddled bodies with tied hands, charred corpses piled together dumped in the streets, and buildings and cars blown to pieces have exposed how an apparently unquenchable thirst for power and domination can be boundless. In response, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Sweden, Spain, the United States and a handful of other countries expelled more than 325 Russian diplomats from Moscow’s missions.

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.

World military expenditure passes $2 trillion for first time

Military expenditure reaches record level in the second year of the pandemic

World military spending continued to grow in 2021, reaching an all-time high of $2.1 trillion. This was the seventh consecutive year that spending increased.

‘Even amid the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, world military spending hit record levels,’ said Dr Diego Lopes da Silva, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme. ‘There was a slowdown in the rate of real-terms growth due to inflation. In nominal terms, however, military spending grew by 6.1 per cent.’

The Geopolitical Implications of the Russo-Ukraine War for Central Asia

Andrew Latham and Audun Sundeen

In the aftermath of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, a storm is brewing in another part of the former Soviet space – Central Asia. This region, rich in resources, is caught in a field of forces defined by Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Turkish, Indian and American (as related to the war in Afghanistan)’s interests. As a strong Russia defending and backing the five republics that comprise the region becomes weaker and the states are forced to look elsewhere for patronage and support, the resulting geopolitical void will create the conditions-of-possibility for extreme shifts in power that will have significant knock-on effects for the global balance of power. As a result, we may see a world where China and Iran border each other, allied against the Russians and Turks. We may see Indian-backed Central Asian republics. Depending on who does what, these changes may precipitate NATO involvement. Altogether, Russia and Ukraine’s war is likely to have significant – maybe even ominous – geopolitical consequences outside of Europe that will reshape world politics, political alignments, and the security environment far beyond the region.

Russia’s War Goals in Ukraine

David R. Marples

The war in Ukraine began after the Maidan uprising that occupied central Kyiv for the period from late November to 21 February 2014. The protests resulted in the departure of President Viktor Yanukovych, new presidential and parliamentary elections, the annexation of Crimea by Russia, and the fomenting by the latter country of a war in the eastern part of Ukraine. By the late spring, two breakaway republics had been formed in the eastern part of Donetsk and Luhansk regions but the majority of east Ukrainian cities had rebuffed the attempted takeovers. The conflict was brutal, and came to a halt thanks to the Minsk Protocol, hosted by Belarusian president Aliaksandr Lukashenka, initially in September 2014. The Protocol mediated by the French and German presidents in what was termed the Normandy format, was signed by Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE (the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine). More fighting soon broke out, however, and a new agreement was signed in Minsk on February 12, 2015, which stipulated the removal of heavy weaponry from the battlefield, release of prisoners on both sides, and constitutional reforms in Ukraine including the provision of autonomy for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine was to regain control of its borders and early elections were to be held in the two regions.

China’s ‘World-Class’ Military Modernisation

Ian Seow Cheng Wei

The PLA was formed in 1927 after the Nanchang uprising, and it has played an important role in China’s domestic and foreign affairs. From 1952 to 2016, the PLA has undergone 11 major military modernisation and restructuring programmes and has grown significantly in military strength and capabilities. (Allen et al., 2016). Military modernisation is defined as upgrading and adopting new technologies or platforms to counter emerging challenges. Military restructuring refers to policies to improve the efficiency of the military and realigning its objectives to address current threats.

Who has the advantage in the war for eastern Ukraine?

Joshua Keating

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once famously cautioned following a decisive battlefield victory in 1942, when the tide of World War II seemed to be turning in the allies’ favor, that it was “not the end, not even the beginning of the end but, possibly, the end of the beginning.”

It’s a phrase that may apply to the recent withdrawal of Russian forces from the areas around Kyiv: an “end of the beginning moment” for the war in Ukraine.