29 April 2022

IMF Staff Statement on the Economic Impact of War in Ukraine

Kristalina Georgieva

Washington, DC: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board met on March 4 in a meeting chaired by Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. Staff briefed the Board on the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, and on possible fast-tracked financial assistance for affected countries.

The war in Ukraine is resulting in tragic loss of life and human suffering, as well as causing massive damage to Ukraine’s physical infrastructure. It has sent a wave of more than 1 million refugees to neighboring countries. Unprecedented sanctions have been announced on Russia.

Ukraine crisis: Why India is buying more Russian oil

Shruti Menon

The Indian government has defended the move to buy Russian oil, and said what it buys from Russia in a month is less than what Europe buys from Russia in an afternoon.

Why is India buying more Russian oil?

India has taken advantage of discounted prices to ramp up oil imports from Russia at a time when global energy prices have been rising.

The US has said that although these oil imports do not violate sanctions, "support for Russia...is support for an invasion that obviously is having a devastating impact".

Russia doubles fossil fuel revenues since invasion of Ukraine began

Fiona Harvey

Russia has nearly doubled its revenues from selling fossil fuels to the EU during the two months of war in Ukraine, benefiting from soaring prices even as volumes have been reduced.

Russia has received about €62bn from exports of oil, gas and coal in the two months since the invasion began, according to an analysis of shipping movements and cargos by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Taliban Faces Rising Armed Resistance From Former Government Factions

Abubakar Siddique

For nearly two decades, the Taliban launched an annual deadly spring offensive in a bid to regain the power it lost in 2001.

As the snows melted in the Afghan mountains, Taliban fighters hastened their attacks on officials and troops of the pro-Western Afghan republic and soldiers from dozens of NATO-led Western countries allied with it.

Now, in an apparent reversal of roles, factions of the fallen Afghan republic are claiming attacks on the Taliban in many provinces in what seems to be an uncoordinated spring offensive.

Can Western Tanks, Artillery, And Missiles Save Ukraine? Don’t Count On It.

Daniel Davis

On Monday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said one U.S. objective in its support of Ukraine was to “weaken” Russia. Former NATO commander Gen (ret). Wesley Clark recently told CNN that one way to accomplish that goal is to send Ukraine “500 tanks, a couple thousand tubes of artillery and rockets.” And, he added, “we’ve got to get (all those tanks and artillery tubes) moving if we’re going to break” Russia’s offensive in the Donbas.

While it may seem self-evident that Ukraine could defeat Russia’s attack if the West provided large numbers of tanks to the front quickly enough, the difficulties and challenges of combat realities make such an outcome highly unlikely. In a best-case scenario for Ukraine, it would take the better part of a year to be able to produce an armored combat capacity strong enough to expel the Russian army from Ukrainian territory – and as explained below, even with such weapons, Ukraine may still not succeed.

The hybrid war in Ukraine

Tom Burt 

Today, we released a report detailing the relentless and destructive Russian cyberattacks we’ve observed in a hybrid war against Ukraine, and what we’ve done to help protect Ukrainian people and organizations. We believe it’s important to share this information so that policymakers and the public around the world know what’s occurring, and so others in the security community can continue to identify and defend against this activity. All of this work is ultimately focused on protecting civilians from attacks that can directly impact their lives and their access to critical services.

Labelling initiatives, codes of conduct and other self-regulatory mechanisms for artificial intelligence applications

Camilla d'Angelo, Isabel Flanagan, Immaculate Dadiso Motsi-Omoijiade

Artificial intelligence (AI) is recognised as a strategically important technology that can contribute to a wide array of societal and economic benefits. However, it is also a technology that may present serious challenges and have unintended consequences. Within this context, trust in AI is recognised as a key prerequisite for the broader uptake of this technology in society. It is therefore vital that AI products, services and systems are developed and implemented responsibly, safely and ethically.

A New Framework for Understanding and Countering China's Gray Zone Tactics

Bonny Lin, Cristina L. Garafola, Bruce McClintock, Jonah Blank

Gray zone tactics—coercive actions that are shy of armed conflict but beyond normal diplomatic, economic, and other activities—are widely recognized as playing an increasingly important role in China's efforts to advance its domestic, economic, foreign policy, and security objectives, particularly in the Indo-Pacific. But there is little consensus to date on which tactics pose the greatest challenges to the United States and its allies and partners in the region.

Future Uses of Space Out to 2050

James Black, Linda Slapakova, Kevin Martin

Recent years have witnessed major changes in how humans are utilising space. Access to and use of space has become essential to modern digital society and many aspects of everyday life. The number of space-related activities conducted by government, military and commercial actors around the world is increasing. This second 'space race', brings both threats and opportunities to the UK's economy, security, interests, values and way of life.

NGA shifting tech investment to reflect ‘GEOINT revolution’


GEOINT 2022: The outgoing National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency director has unveiled a new set of “mission imperatives,” alongside the technical means the agency needs to pursue to improve its performance — with the top priority being assured positioning, navigation, timing and targeting.

“We need to make these changes in order to increase our speed and keep ahead of the GEOINT being created every day,” Vice Adm. Robert Sharp told the USGIF GEOINT 2022 annual conference here in Denver. “These concepts are not new, but we’ve never put them on paper in public before.”

Lyft exec Craig Martell tapped as Pentagon’s AI chief: Exclusive Interview


WASHINGTON: Craig Martell, head of machine learning at Lyft, has been named the Pentagon’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer, Breaking Defense has learned.

The hiring of a Silicon Valley persona for the CDAO role is likely to be cheered by those in the defense community who have been calling for more technically-minded individuals to take leadership roles in the department. At the same time, Martell’s lack of Pentagon experience — he was a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School for over a decade studying AI for the military, but has never worked in the department’s bureaucracy — may pose challenges as he works to lead an office only months old.

The Ukraine War, Redefined

George Friedman

The war in Ukraine began under a faulty assumption shared by many, including the United States, that if Russia invaded, it would defeat Ukraine, and it would do so quickly. The Russians deployed their forces carelessly, without much regard for the Ukrainians. When the Russians encountered resistance against their disorganized armored and infantry forces, operating pretty much without air support, they acknowledged problems but continued to assume that the problems they faced were simply the friction of the battlefield rather than something that risked the outcome they assumed was theirs.

More than AI or hypersonics, microelectronics dominate DARPA’s investments


WASHINGTON: Flashy programs like hypersonic systems or altering human skin to be less attractive to mosquitos may get more public attention, but figures released by the military’s fringe R&D department today reveal that its money is really pouring into microelectronics.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plans to spend some $896 million on microelectronics, a total that is more than the combined figures for its second and third big money investment areas — biotech and artificial intelligence, respectively, at about $410 million each — in fiscal 2023, according to slides presented today by DARPA Director Stefanie Tompkins. Cyber projects come in fourth at $184 million, followed by hypersonics at $143 million and quantum research at $90 million.

Stealth Fighter Showdown: Can The US Military Beat China’s J-20 In Battle?

Brent M. Eastwood

China’s newish J-20 stealth fighter has been making headlines for over a decade now. However, how good is compared to America’s F-22 or F-35? China’s J-20 fighter is getting a boost – a new pep in its step – if the Chinese can be believed. The J-20 Mighty Dragon is reportedly receiving new engines. This should help with its dogfighting ability, according to the country’s air force. The WS-15 dual turbofan engines are supposed to improve the J-20’s performance in a potential showdown with the F-35 or F-22.

How Emerging Technology Is Breaking Arms Control

Amy J. Nelson

Until recently, arms control—the system of agreements, organizations and processes to regulate certain types of weapons—has proved an effective tool for threats from conventional and nuclear technologies. Today, however, arms control is suffering from a spate of major violations, suspensions and withdrawals.

But it is not only state behavior that is undermining arms control. The regimes are being disrupted by the rapid pace of technological change in three key ways. First, industrially advanced nations (and aspiring ones) are accelerating the rate of development for innovations. New technologies are emerging too quickly for working group members—typically a combination of technologists and diplomats—to keep control lists current with emerging threats. Second, the technologies underlying existing weapons, platforms and systems—from the schematics for how they’re made to the software that makes them run—are being digitized, and newer technologies are emerging in digital formats that circumvent existing regulation. Third, the combination of accelerated innovation and digitization is contributing to the digital diffusion of technologies that augment the risk of proliferation and enable states to maintain latent military capabilities.

The Russia-Ukraine War: Where Do We Go from Here?

Zvi Magen, Sophie Kobzantsev

Russia's war is not only against Ukraine, but rather, as the Russian regime repeatedly declares, against NATO and the West in general. The sequence of events has changed Russia's initial intention not to become entangled in a long military campaign, but rather, through a short operation, to replace the government of Ukraine or at least to distance Ukraine from the West. But in practice, Russia has been drawn into a prolonged conflict – the result of effective Ukrainian resistance that is supported by NATO, which trained Ukraine’s army and helps it with the supply of weapons, intelligence sharing, and technological warfare.

Central Asia Is Keeping a Nervous Eye on Russia’s War in Ukraine

Jeffrey Mankoff

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is upending the geopolitical calculations of states around the world. The fallout is especially complex for the post-Soviet states of Central Asia, which maintain extensive economic, political, cultural and other ties to both Russia and Ukraine. While Central Asia is far from the front lines of the ongoing war, and therefore less directly impacted than states like Moldova or Georgia, its leaders also face difficult decisions.

How Congress Can Prevent Elon Musk from Turning Twitter Back Into an Unfettered Disinformation Machine

John Cassidy

Over the weekend, a story came out of Brussels that many may have missed. The twenty-seven member states of the European Union reached an agreement on a new law requiring big online platforms, including social-media companies, to police hate speech and disinformation more effectively. Under the E.U.’s Digital Services Act, European governments now have the power to ask Web platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to remove any content that promotes terrorism, hate speech, child sexual abuse, or commercial scams. The platforms will also be obliged to prevent the “manipulation of services having an impact on democratic processes and public security.”

Why Elon Musk Bought Twitter

Patrick T. 

On Monday, Elon Musk bought Twitter for forty-four billion dollars. Musk, the C.E.O. of Tesla and the richest man on earth, plans to take the social-media company private, and has said that he wants Twitter to adhere more closely to the principles of free speech, which, in a statement, Musk called “the bedrock of a functioning democracy.” (In the same statement, he described Twitter as the “digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”) Musk himself is a frequent tweeter, and it is assumed that he will continue to use the platform, and potentially reinstate the account of former President Donald Trump. He is also thought to be less likely to ban people for violations of the platform’s policies, which themselves may change.

‘Cheetah,’ ‘Switchblade’ and ‘Phoenix Ghost’: Will the new weapons headed to Ukraine be enough to win the war?

Joshua Keating

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his NATO counterparts are meeting in Germany this week to discuss what may be their most important contribution to Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion: the large-scale and growing effort to deliver military hardware to Ukraine.

The U.S. alone has committed more than $2.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the war began and pledged an additional $800 million last week. Other NATO countries have committed billions as well. But the Ukrainian government says it needs more — both in terms of volume and the sophistication of the weaponry — to push back against the Russian onslaught. And as the conflict shifts from urban warfare around Kyiv to more traditional tank and artillery battles in the country’s east, Ukraine’s military needs are changing.

How Much Can US Howitzers Help Ukraine?


As Russian forces focus on seizing Ukraine’s Donbas, the United States has begun rushing 90 howitzers—the famed 155mm artillery guns used by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps—to help repel the invaders in the flat, largely rural region. But how much will they help?

“Artillery is a specific item that the Ukrainians asked for because of the fighting that they expect is going to occur in the Donbas,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters April 18. “The terrain lends itself to the use of artillery, to long-range fires, as we call it. And we know that the Russians also believe the same thing, because we're seeing them move artillery units into the Donbas as well. And so we want to give the Ukrainians every bit of advantage that we can.”

How Democracies Spy on Their Citizens

Ronan Farrow

The parliament of Catalonia, the autonomous region in Spain, sits on the edge of Barcelona’s Old City, in the remains of a fortified citadel constructed by King Philip V to monitor the restive local population. The citadel was built with forced labor from hundreds of Catalans, and its remaining structures and gardens are for many a reminder of oppression. Today, a majority of Catalan parliamentarians support independence for the region, which the Spanish government has deemed unconstitutional. In 2017, as Catalonia prepared for a referendum on independence, Spanish police arrested at least twelve separatist politicians. On the day of the referendum, which received the support of ninety per cent of voters despite low turnout, police raids of polling stations injured hundreds of civilians. Leaders of the independence movement, some of whom live in exile across Europe, now meet in private and communicate through encrypted messaging platforms.

A Clash of Civilisations: the Russian vs. the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

James M. Dorsey

Russia and the Nordic countries’ pavilions at this year’s Venice Biennale, the world’s most prestigious art exhibition, project two different concepts of civilisation, nationalism, and sovereignty that have come to blows in Ukraine.

Newly renovated, brooding, and inward-looking, Russia’s art nouveau pavilion stands empty and abandoned after its Lithuanian curator and artists resigned in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A lone armed guard is what is left of what would have been Russia’s cultural contribution.

‘Thanks, Putin’: Finnish and Swedish Lawmakers Aim for NATO Membership

Robbie Gramer

Finnish and Swedish opposition leaders traveled to Washington this week to meet with U.S. officials as their countries kick-start debates on joining NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Petteri Orpo, the chair of Finland’s center-right National Coalition Party, and Ulf Kristersson, the leader of the opposition in Sweden’s parliament and head of the country’s Moderate Party, met with senior Biden administration officials and congressional staffers during their visit to push for swift U.S. support of expanding NATO, should both Finland and Sweden formally make bids to join the alliance. The prospect of the two Nordic countries joining NATO represents a significant shift in their foreign policies after decades of military nonalignment, spurred by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine.

Welcome to the Black Sea Era of War

Maximilian Hess

The sinking of the Russian Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva on April 14 made history as the largest military ship destroyed in conflict since World War II. Ukraine’s claim to have sunk the ship with two of its Neptune missiles was seen as a particular shock and has led to reevaluations of its coastal defense capabilities and, in particular, its ability to secure its southwestern shores. The significance of the fact that the historic sinking took place on the waves of Black Sea, however, has elicited less notice.

What Does Musk's Purchase of Twitter Mean for Disinformation?


Elon Musk just bought Twitter; his ideas on free speech suggest the social-media platform might soon do less to moderate content, track extremism, monitor hate speech, and block domestic and foreign disinformation.

Sara Fischer, a media reporter for Axios, said Monday that some of the content moderation and site integrity features that Twitter has put in place since 2016 could be the first thing on Musk’s chopping block.