7 May 2022

The Ukraine cyberwar that never was: Cybersecurity experts warn it’s too early to relax

Eric Johansson

Nothing about the cyberwar in Ukraine has unraveled as predicted. People believed Russian aggression would rely equally on shelling and hackers, threatening both physical and digital infrastructures. It would be only a matter of time before Kyiv capitulated, experts feared. However, that version of the war didn’t happen.

Kremlin-backed hackers have so far failed to cripple critical infrastructure. Instead of being devastated by the offensives launched, Ukraine has fought back. The cyber resistance has echoed the nation’s physical one, perplexing the experts who anticipated an all-out war fought in the realm of zeroes and ones.

How Turkey’s Bayraktar Went From Killer Drones to Weapons of Hope

Oğul Tuna Rusif Huseynov

Since the very first days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Turkey has become one of the conflict’s central actors. Ankara has explicitly criticized Moscow, closed the Bosporus and the Dardanelles to warships, and has kept providing essential political and military aid to Ukraine. In addition, Turkey’s constant support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and Ankara’s advocacy of the rights of the Crimean Tatar minority since 2014, greatly irritates the Kremlin.

While various European countries have been reluctant to give up their dependence on Moscow, primarily in the energy sector, Turkey started providing the Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to Ukraine as recently as 2018. The TB2 has shown its effectiveness in Libya, Syria, and Karabakh. Especially in the last case, during the Second Karabakh War (September-November 2020), the TB2s were hailed as “the conqueror of Karabakh.” However, the first use of a TB2 by the Ukrainian military in the Donbas region took place on October 26, 2021. Since then, the TB2 has become a national and international phenomenon.

Ukraine’s Switchblade Drones Will Be Game Changers for Urban Combat

Kris Osborn

U.S.-supplied Switchblade drones are quickly expanding the Ukrainian military’s ability to launch mini-drone explosives at Russian armored vehicles from behind cover.

The Switchblade, built by AeroVironment, is a battery-powered unmanned aerial vehicle that can carry three pounds worth of explosives. It has cameras and can loiter as a “camera” in the sky to conduct surveillance or descend upon enemy targets and explode as an attack weapon itself.

The Pentagon plans to send 700 Switchblades to Ukraine, roughly 100 of which have already arrived, to support Ukraine’s efforts to destroy approaching Russian armored vehicles. The small mini-drone can function organically within dismounted units and fly to strike distant targets.

Bill Gates: Worst of Coronavirus Pandemic Might Still Be Ahead

Ethen Kim Lieser

“We’re still at risk of this pandemic generating a variant that would be even more transmissive and even more fatal,” the Microsoft co-founder, who had been warning about the threat of a global pandemic since 2015, told the Financial Times on Sunday. “It’s not likely, I don’t want to be a voice of doom and gloom, but it’s way above a 5 percent risk that this pandemic, we haven’t even seen the worst of it,” Gates continued.

Gates noted that one way to prepare for the next pandemic is for the World Health Organization (WHO) to launch a global surveillance team featuring experts who can quickly spot new health threats across the world. He has labeled the proposed task force the “Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization” (GERM) initiative. Gates also told the Financial Times that it would cost around $1 billion a year to run such a global response team, cautioning that the currently set WHO funding was “not at all serious about pandemics.” Gates further said that, “it seems wild to me that we could fail to look at this tragedy and not, on behalf of the citizens of the world, make these investments.”

Sink or Swim: Surface Combatants Need Air Defenses in the Drone Era

Jeong Soo Kim

On May 2, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense claimed to have used its Bayraktar TB2 drones to destroy two Russian Project 03160 “Raptor” Patrol craft. To support this claim, the ministry of defense posted footage of the drone tracking and destroying the maneuvering vessels. While we can applaud the Ukrainian forces on their tactical success, the success of the TB2 drones against patrol craft brings up significant questions regarding the survivability of smaller naval vessels, especially those not equipped with any form of air defense systems. The video of the Ukrainian TB2 operator calmly tracking and destroying a frantically maneuvering but defenseless ship should disturb every navy leader. If small- to medium-sized armed drones can easily detect and destroy small surface combatants as the Ukrainians did, then all small naval vessels without active air defenses are susceptible to these tactics.

Could Big Tech Play Peacemaker in Ukraine?

Ville Korpela Diana Mjeshtri

More than 10 million refugees have been forced to relocate from Ukraine according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with 3.6 million seeking shelter outside of the country and 6.5 million temporarily hiding outside of their homes. Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov pleaded directly with Elon Musk on Twitter:

While you try to colonize MarsRussia try [sic] to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.

Europe’s Energy Crisis and the War in Ukraine

Paul J. Saunders

Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine—and its recent decision to halt natural gas exports to Poland and Bulgaria—have provoked searching debates surrounding Europe’s energy dependence on Russia, economic and political vulnerabilities, European climate goals, and policy options to ensure secure and affordable access to energy. How quickly can Europe (and especially Germany) reduce existing energy imports from Russia and at what cost? To what extent can the United States help? How might Moscow respond to such efforts? These are only a few of the critical questions.

Ukraine: Putin’s War to Change the World

Michel Duclos

At the end of his lengthy meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on February 7, President Macron said that his Russian counterpart appeared to have "changed." Putin seemed locked in the past, harping on about the same old grievances and appearing uninterested in possible solutions to the crisis that he himself had triggered a few weeks earlier over Ukraine.

The two men had not met since December 2019. What happened between then and the February meeting that could explain Putin's sudden "change"? Many observers have developed theories based on the Russian leader's increased isolation due to the pandemic. An excellent example of this was a New York Times article by Michael Zygar, a highly respected observer of Russia's internal politics, which was revealingly titled How Vladimir Putin Lost Interest in the Present. During this period, the Russian President largely stopped seeing most of his confidants and collaborators. Instead, he locked himself in tête-à-têtes with Yuri Kovalchuk, a longtime friend who has risen the ranks to become the most influential man in Putin’s entourage. According to Zygar, Kovalchuk—both an oligarch and an ideologue—subscribes to a worldview that combines "Orthodox Christian mysticism, anti-American conspiracy theories and hedonism."

Ukraine Is a Russian Vital Interest, and Moscow Will Behave Accordingly

Ted Galen Carpenter

Analysts and pundits in the United States and Europe are increasingly optimistic that Ukraine can win its war against Russia. They also are prodding the Biden administration to increase the flow of military hardware to Kyiv to maximize Ukraine’s chances of victory. A new missive along those lines comes from Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Max Boot in a May 2 Washington Post column. Boot contends that the United States should provide Ukraine “with every weapon it needs to win.” Nor, according to Boot, should the administration let Vladimir Putin’s threats of escalation deter Washington from that course of action.

More worrisome than recklessly hawkish sentiments from smug pundits is that U.S. and European officials also speak openly of helping Ukraine win its war and inflict a humiliating defeat on Russia. The U.S. delegation headed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that visited Kyiv at the beginning of May repeatedly emphasized that theme, along with a pledge of Washington’s continuing military assistance until victory is achieved.

Why the battle for Mariupol is important for Vladimir Putin.

Anton Troianovski
Source Link

For Russia, the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is a potent symbol.

It is a predominantly Russian-speaking city in the eastern Ukrainian region known as the Donbas, the one where President Vladimir V. Putin falsely claimed Ukraine was carrying out a “genocide” before launching his invasion.

The Azovstal steel plant in the middle of the city has also become the last bastion of Ukrainian military’s Azov regiment, whose origins in a far-right military group, the Azov Batallion, have lent a veneer of credibility to Mr. Putin’s false narrative that the country is overrun by “Nazis.” The steel plant is the last holdout of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol as Moscow’s forces mount a final push to seize control of the city.

(In)roads and Outposts: Critical Infrastructure in China’s Africa Strategy

Nadège Rolland

The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) project “Into Africa: China’s Emerging Strategy” endeavors to examine where the African continent fits in relation to China’s overall strategic vision. Our first report, “A New Great Game? Situating Africa in China’s Strategic Thinking,” found that Africa is centrally situated in China’s strategic thinking in the Xi Jinping era.[1] Chinese elites have been pondering options that will lead the continent through a series of transformations, both economic and political, so that it can better fit within the subsystem that Beijing aspires to create and dominate. Among the options discussed is the possibility of exporting elements of China’s economic development model, more specifically the combined development of labor-intensive industries, special economic zones (SEZs) and industrial parks, and infrastructure building that China adopted in the early stages of its reform and opening- up period.[2]

“Averting A $3.2 Trillion Loss” — China Holds Emergency Meeting To Protect The Country From Russia-Like Sanctions

Tanmay Kadam

China’s regulators held an emergency meeting on April 22 with its central bank, finance ministry, domestic banks operating within China, and international lenders such as HSBC.

The emergency meeting was prompted by the harsh US-led sanctions on Russia that have frozen $300 billion of $640 billion held by Russia’s central bank—the Bank of Russia (BOR)— in foreign reserves.

These unprecedented measures against a country’s central bank have raised central bank reserve holdings’ geopolitical and sovereign risk. They have also given rise to fears in Beijing about the possibility of similar sanctions being leveled against China in the event of its military invasion of Taiwan.

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.

The clashes that intensified on April 18th are “preludes to larger offensive operations”, according to American defence officials. They are probably a mixture of Russian reconnaissance, to establish the strength of Ukrainian defences, and shelling, to soften them up in advance of ground attacks that will follow. Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s security council, says that Russian attacks occurred “along almost the entire front line” in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv provinces, spanning around 400km in all.

Belarus Is the Other Loser in Putin’s War

Amy Mackinnon

When Russia launched an attempted lightning assault on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in February, neighboring Belarus served as a staging area for Russian forces, making the country an accomplice in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.

In the early phases of the war, thousands of Russian troops swarmed over Belarus’s border with Ukraine, just a few hundred miles from Kyiv. As the Russians quickly racked up deaths, their soldiers filled Belarus’s hospitals and morgues. When the Russians withdrew from the Kyiv region, having been beaten back by fierce Ukrainian resistance and their own operational shortcomings, they did so through Belarus.

Estonia’s Spymaster: The Danger of Putin’s Frustration

Holger Roonemaa

Investigative journalist Holger Roonema speaks with Mikk Marran, director general of Estonia’s foreign intelligence service, about the possible outcomes of Russia’s war on Ukraine and what will become of Putin’s regime.

Holger Roonema: When the Russian invasion into Ukraine started, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the behavior of Europe as standing by and watching events roll out. Can the European reaction still be described this way or have the reactions of the EU and NATO been enough?

Mikk Marran: Europe and the U.S. are definitely not following the events from a distance; they are acting on several fronts. I can see an unprecedented unity in sanctions, military aid and political support. The sanctions and other restrictions set up by the European Union are very tough. We can see that this has already caused very painful reactions among the Russian elite as well as ordinary people.

Fauci: China’s COVID-19 Situation a ‘Disaster’

Ravi Agrawal

In his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci has advised seven U.S. presidents on preventing the spread of a range of diseases. Over the last two years, amid the deadliest pandemic in our lifetimes, Fauci has also become the public face of the United States’ coronavirus response strategy, explaining rapidly changing developments and rules to an increasingly polarized nation.

Fauci mostly speaks about U.S. regulations but agreed to sit down with Foreign Policy for a more global look at the pandemic. I spoke with him on an episode of FP Live, the magazine’s platform for live journalism, on Monday, May 2. Some of the questions below were selected from submissions from FP subscribers. The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

No Permits, No Fabs The Importance of Regulatory Reform for Semiconductor Manufacturing

Source Link

Congress has advanced legislation to appropriate $52 billion in funding for the CHIPS for America Act, which aims to increase semiconductor manufacturing and supply chain resilience in the United States. But more can be done to improve the resiliency of U.S. access to microelectronics beyond manufacturing incentives. This report outlines infrastructure investments and regulatory reforms that could make the United States a more attractive place to build new chipmaking capacity and ensure continued U.S. access to key inputs for semiconductor manufacturing.

NSA cyber boss seeks to discourage vigilante hacking against Russia

Colin Demarest

WASHINGTON — Vigilante hacking, the sort seen as Ukraine confronts another Russian invasion, is inadvisable and raises broader questions of ethics and consequences in the digital domain, according to the National Security Agency’s director of cybersecurity.

“I will tell you that the idea of the civil vigilantes joining in a nation-state attack is unwise, right? I really think it is,” the NSA’s Rob Joyce said May 4 at a Vanderbilt University security summit. “As you pointed out, it’s illegal. But it’s also unhelpful, because one of the things we talked about is we’re trying to get Russia to take account for the ransomware attacks and hacks that come out of Russia and emanate.”

Bill Gates warns that Elon Musk could make misinformation on Twitter WORSE after his $44BN acquisition - and refuses to say if he shorted Tesla as billionaire owner suggested he did

On Wednesday Gates spoke at The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit and was asked about Musk's potential impact on Twitter following his acquisition

Gates said that while Musk has a good track record, he could make the misinformation on the app worse

'I have nothing but positive things to say about Elon, if he makes Twitter worse, I'll speak out about that, but I wouldn't assume that's what's going to happen'

Gates also refused to say whether or not he personally shorted Tesla

'It's possible the stock went down and whoever shorted the stock made money, I don't know'

Gates added that he has not taken Musk's recent tweets about him personally

Present your China contingency plan at the next board meeting


As the world watches the unprovoked and bloody invasion of Ukraine, more than 300 of the West’s most prominent corporations are frantically curtailing or withdrawing their business from Russia.

But for a far broader set of companies, there’s a much more dangerous threat looming on the horizon: Russia’s totalitarian twin and closest military and economic ally–China.

It does not take a Ph.D. in international affairs to understand the common threads that underpin the China-Russia partnership. Both governments are known for lawless behavior, duplicity, bullying, domestic oppression, coercive economic practices, and grave human rights abuses.

Shanghai lockdown prompts collective action


The Shanghai lockdown following a Covid-19 outbreak last month saw the most stringent restrictions placed upon a Chinese city since the pandemic began. Although Chinese civil society may be heavily circumscribed, a stituation exacerbated by Covid, civic action and protests have continued to occur throughout the country over the last two years.

Voices of April, an online video that has gone viral, documents the current reality in Shanghai. It contains a collection of audio snippets of official government announcements interspersed with the voices of Shanghai residents describing their ordeal during the lockdown. It documents the human suffering caused by China’s harsh zero-Covid policy, where the cry of a baby can be heard as it is separated from its parents under strict quarantine rules.

CYBERCOM increasing intel collection in light of Russia-Ukraine conflict


TECHNET CYBER 2022: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given defense communities around the world the first real taste of what modern state-on-state warfare looks like, and everyone is looking for lessons learned — including US Cyber Command, according to its director of operations.

Speaking at the AFCEA TechNet Cyber 2022 conference, Maj. Gen. Kevin Kennedy said that as a result of what they’ve seen over the last two months, CYBERCOM is looking at vulnerabilities in its intelligence collecting activities.

“This is one of the lessons, as we looked at the Ukraine crisis and we’ve seen the open source reporting and understanding, having frank conversations about whether our SICR [specific intelligence collection requirement] is and the level of defenses that we have on it and the potential vulnerabilities that exist,” Kennedy said.

Russian troops held me captive at gunpoint for two weeks in Ukraine. Here’s what I learned.


FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.: Sitting 12 floors above the beach and looking out at the Atlantic Ocean, it is hard to believe that a few weeks ago I was a prisoner of the Russian army. It’s hard to believe that today I am somehow still alive.

The story begins on March 4, when my partner and I decided to head for a rail station to catch an evacuation train out of the country. While near the Ukrainian towns of Irpin and Bucha, near Kyiv, our car was ambushed by a Russian army unit. These were soldiers purposely hiding out of sight from anyone traveling down the road, looking for the perfect, defenseless vehicle to ambush. Before we could register what was happening, the car was being riddled by machine gun fire; by some miracle the three of us in the car all survived the many bullets that penetrated the chassis and shattered the windows.

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

Zvi Magen

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.

Beyond the direct Russian-Ukrainian confrontation, the war has become a Russian-Western conflict in the territory of Ukraine, and alongside the military campaign, it is waged mainly in the cognitive domain. NATO is exerting pressure on Russia in the cognitive, political, and economic realms in an effort to undermine the government's stability, and Russia for its part is waging a cognitive war against the West, including in the post-Soviet context and in its attempt to retain its influence in this sphere. But to date, the two sides have failed to achieve their objectives and the war continues, while the Ukrainians have scored significant achievements in the struggle for world public opinion.

When the Axe Starts Chopping, Where Will the Chips Fall? The Global Semiconductor Crisis and its Strategic Opportunity for Israel

Ariel Sobelman

All the world’s electronic devices run on microchips: small toys, household electrical appliances, medical equipment, and advanced weapons systems. The global microchip crisis, which has already continued for over two years, highlights the critical importance of these tiny components and their effect on all spheres of life and illuminates the global geostrategic significance of what seemed a gray and mundane technology. Like Middle Eastern oil in previous decades, microchips have become a resource upon which the world depends, and disruption of their supply chain is liable to have destructive consequences for global stability. Given the rivalry between the US and China, this crisis also presents Israel with a strategic opportunity to take a major step forward in the field of microchip technology.

Russia’s War Has Been Brutal, but Putin Has Shown Some Restraint. Why?

Anton Troianovski and Julian E. Barnes

Russia’s war against Ukraine has leveled cities, killed tens of thousands of people and forced millions of others from their homes.

But quietly, some military analysts and Western officials are asking why the onslaught has not been even worse.

Russia could be going after Ukrainian railways, roads and bridges more aggressively to try to stanch the flow of Western weapons to the front line. It could have bombed more of the infrastructure around the capital, Kyiv, to make it harder for Western leaders to visit President Volodymyr Zelensky in shows of unity and resolve. And it could be doing far more to inflict pain on the West, whether by cyberattack, sabotage or more cutoffs of energy exports to Europe.

State Department Report Glosses Over Assad’s Narco-Trafficking Wealth

David Adesnik

In a congressionally mandated report issued last week, the State Department made a single passing reference to drug trafficking as a source of wealth for the family of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. The report’s errors and omissions reflect the Biden administration’s lack of interest in the robust enforcement of sanctions on the Assad regime, especially those authorized by the bipartisan Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019.

Since taking office, the Biden administration has sanctioned only two sets of Syrian regime targets, none of them economically significant. In contrast, the previous administration issued new sets of designations each month for seven consecutive months after the law went into effect in June 2020. Congress made the application of Caesar Act sanctions mandatory, so the slow pace of designations suggests the Biden administration is refusing to shoulder its legal responsibilities.

Walking a tightrope: Ukraine war puts Japan's energy security on thin ice


TOKYO -- Sakhalin-2, an oil and gas project in Russia's Far East, was once an expression of faith in Russia's global future. Launched at the beginning of the century, it was then the largest foreign investment deal in the Russian Federation, uniting global oil majors and Japanese conglomerates like Shell and Mitsui & Co. They brought the latest technology to what was one of the world's greatest oil and gas development challenges. On the barren volcanic island of Sakhalin, 40 km from Japan's northern coast, the project combined offshore oil platforms with Russia's first liquefied natural gas plant.

Ukrainian Guerillas: Fighting Russians in Temporarily Occupied Territories

Yuri Lapaiev

On April 22, General Rustam Minnekayev, the acting commander of the Central Military District, announced that one of the goals of the second phase of Russia’s “special military operation in Ukraine” is to gain full control of Donbas and Ukraine’s south. According to him, achieving this objective would “ensure a land corridor to Crimea, control over vital objects of Ukraine’s economy,” and grant Russia access to Transnistria, the separatist region of Moldova occupied by Russian “peacekeeping” forces since 1992 (Interfax, April 22; see EDM, April 28).

The pronouncement by Minnekayev seemed to signal yet another shift in Russian rhetoric regarding the goals of President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine, which, after giving up on capturing Kyiv, had ostensibly refocused on taking Donbas. At the same time, the Russian general’s public revelation, whether officially sanctioned or not, seems logical because Russian forces already occupy large parts of southern Ukraine’s Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, including important cities like Kherson (the only provincial center taken by Russians during the first phase of the current war), Nova Kahovka (the location of the North-Crimean Canal pump station and dam), and Berdyansk (one of the key ports on the Azov Sea and a place where the Ukrainian Navy had planned to build a new base).

The Russian Dilemma Isn’t So Unfamiliar

Patrick Hanlon

Since Russia launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine in February, it has become quite fashionable for commentators, despite their lack of warfighting experience, to criticize the Russian military for its apparent ineptitude. I’ll admit too that I fell into this camp that felt the war in Ukraine demonstrated how overrated the Russian military was. While that is true in some regards, it’s an incomplete picture in my opinion.

I can’t help but think the US military would run into many of the same quagmires as the Russians if we were in their shoes. I say this because of my own experience at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC). If you’ve never been to JRTC, it’s a massive training area in Louisiana where brigade combat teams spend a few weeks fighting a much smaller opposing force comprised of US soldiers pretending to be bad guys.

Ukraine’s Online Volunteers Go After Russian Targets

Justin Ling

“Today we’ll attack fiscal data operators,” proclaimed the official Telegram channel of Ukraine’s IT Army on April 20. Attached was a list of websites of Russian and Belarusian financial services companies, complete with critical information about their website configurations.

Within 24 hours, a raft of those websites were knocked offline. “You did a great job,” the Telegram channel reported. Attached was a new list of targets. Within hours they, too, were offline.

Online Maoist Propaganda: How India Should Respond – Analysis

Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray

Extremist organisations have long tended to use the Internet to emphasise their strengths and gloss over their weaknesses. It is thus not surprising that there is no fixed pattern to the intensity of extremist propaganda. This is true both in the past and current cases of al Qaeda and the Islamic State. In the case of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), however, its online presence—to elicit support, eulogise deceased leaders, comment on global and local developments, and issue calls for action—continues to be linked to its organisational and logistical capacity.

In the CPI-Maoist’s heyday, several dozen websites and blogs had proliferated on the Internet, most of which were mirror sites simply reproducing press releases and other publications to keep the Party alive even as government agencies tried to block them. The strategy was effective: there was always a website or a blog where such publications could be found. These primarily catered to Indian as well as foreign audiences. Intelligence agencies believe that most of these websites were hosted on foreign servers, making the task of taking them down difficult.

China Likely to Use ‘Nuclear Coercion’ in Bid to Take Taiwan by 2027, STRATCOM Chief Says


China is closely watching the war in Ukraine and “will likely use nuclear coercion to their advantage in the future,” Adm. Charles Richard, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, or STRATCOM, told lawmakers on Wednesday. “Their intent is to achieve the military capability to reunify Taiwan by 2027.”

That timeline aligns with what then-INDOPACOM commander Adm. Philip Davidson told lawmakers in March 2021.

Richard urged lawmakers to restore funding for the nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile, a variable-yield weapon that the Pentagon was researching but omitted from its 2023 budget request. Military officials have argued that low-yield nukes are crucial to deterring Russia, which has some 2,000 of its own, while others say such weapons are destabilizing.

NCOs: America Has Them, China Wants Them, Russia is Struggling Without Them


One reason the Russian military has struggled to win territory in Ukraine is its lack of a strong corps of non-commissioned officers, or NCOs, which are more crucial than ever to success on the modern battlefield, U.S. military officials and experts say.

In the American military, NCOs—enlisted servicemembers at or above the rank of Army and Marine corporal, Air Force staff sergeant, and Navy petty officer—are trusted experts who execute officers’ battlefield directions and take care of the troops. But while China is working to develop a corps of enlisted leaders, Russia seems stuck in an older model.

Pakistan’s Twin Taliban Problem

Asfandyar Mir

Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban are teetering on the brink of a major crisis. Since coming into power, the Taliban has defied Pakistan — its main state benefactor during the insurgency against the United States military and the deposed Afghan government. It has done so by challenging the status of the Afghan-Pakistan border and providing a haven to the anti-Pakistan insurgent group the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, which has killed thousands of Pakistanis and seeks to establish a Taliban-style, Shariah-compliant state in Pakistan. This has stunned Islamabad, which was operating on the assumption that the Taliban would be beholden to Pakistan out of gratitude for years of support.

Finland’s New Frontier Will Russia Seek to Disrupt Helsinki’s NATO Bid?


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has destroyed the 30-year post-Cold War order in Europe. Among its most significant and unexpected geopolitical effects is that Finland, long a nonaligned country, will likely soon join NATO, probably followed by its similarly nonaligned neighbor, Sweden. Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, and the Finnish capital of Helsinki is closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg than it is to Stockholm. A NATO that includes Finland will more than double the alliance’s land borders with Russia.