13 May 2022

Russia has Fired Between ‘10 and 12’ Hypersonics into Ukraine, Pentagon Says


Russia has launched about a dozen hypersonic missiles during its war on Ukraine and is running out of precision guided munitions in general, a Pentagon senior defense official said Tuesday. Efforts to replace them are hindered by sanctions and export controls imposed since the February invasion, the official said.

As a result, Russia has relied more on dumb bombs in its airstrikes. Russia has been launching between 200 and 300 sorties a day in recent weeks, but many of those aircraft only stay in Ukrainian airspace briefly to drop munitions, then get back into Russian airspace, the official said

Transparency is the best first step towards better digital governance

Mark MacCarthy

After years of letting them manage their own systems and content moderation practices with little or no public supervision, governments around the world are throwing a regulatory net over digital companies. Online regulation measures have been adopted or are pending in Australia, Canada, the European Union, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Last year’s revelations by Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen have prompted these governments to redouble their efforts to reduce social media addiction and the spread of harmful content. The war in Ukraine has accelerated this push and greatly complicated it, simultaneously.

A Victory Parade Without Victories

Lawrence Freedman

Among the Kremlin’s many regrets about the conduct of this war one might be that expectations were allowed to build up around the annual parade to mark the end of the Great Patriotic War on 9 May. The link first emerged in March when there were reports that this had been set as a deadline for victory, or at least some notable military achievements, that could be celebrated by Vladimir Putin. But in the absence of any significant achievements, the date began instead to be approached with a different sense of foreboding – as a moment when Putin would be obliged to escalate. This might involve turning the ‘special military operation’ into a full-scale war, with the accompanying mobilisation of reservists and conscripts, or announcing an intent to annex Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson, or, especially alarming, raising again the prospect of nuclear war.

Shanghai’s Lockdown

Kenton Thibaut, Guobin Yang and Mattie Bekink

In late March, China started its largest lockdown in more than two years, with most of Shanghai’s 26 million residents confined to their homes in an effort to battle the rapid spread of Omicron. As of mid-April, 45 cities across the country were under some kind of lockdown. Though China’s overall vaccination rate is around 88 percent, just 80 percent of those over 60 had been fully vaccinated as of early April. Only 55 percent had received boosters. With new research showing significant leaps in efficacy of Sinovac among the elderly after a third dose, the country has been ramping up its vaccination efforts. In the meantime, it is clear the hard lockdowns have come with costs. Online, Shanghai netizens have been sharing lockdown horror stories amid a rare showing of widespread public dissent. In agricultural areas, the lockdowns have raised concerns that key crops will go unharvested. In megacities like Shanghai, lockdowns have underscored vast inequality and the unequal distribution of government services—particularly for migrant workers. How sustainable are current government approaches to the latest wave of infections, and where are they likely to lead?

Intel Leaders Predict ‘Stalemate’ in Ukraine Unless Something Changes


Battlefield setbacks haven’t changed Vladimir Putin’s strategic goal in Ukraine: to install a Moscow-friendly government in Kyiv, intelligence leaders told lawmakers on Tuesday, adding that the Russian leader sees the military pivot to eastern Ukraine as “only a temporary shift to regain the initiative.”

Unless Russia declares a massive mobilization to add thousands more troops to its current effort “the stalemate is going to gonna last for a while and I don't see a breakout” on either side, Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told lawmkers.

Avril Haines, the director of the Office of National Intelligence, Berrier briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday on major threats facing the United States in the years ahead. Much of the discussion focused on Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The Coup in the Kremlin How Putin and the Security Services Captured the Russian State

Nina Khrushcheva

On December 20, 1999, Vladimir Putin addressed senior officials of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) at its Lubyanka headquarters near Moscow’s Red Square. The recently appointed 47-year-old prime minister, who had held the rank of lieutenant colonel in the FSB, was visiting to mark the holiday honoring the Russian security services. “The task of infiltrating the highest level of government is accomplished,” Putin quipped.

His former colleagues chuckled. But the joke was on Russia.

Putin became interim president less than two weeks later. From the start of his rule, he has worked to strengthen the state to counteract the chaos of post-Soviet capitalism and unsteady democratization. To achieve that end, he saw it necessary to elevate the country’s security services and put former security officials in charge of critical government organs.

Closing Ukraine's Weapons Gap

The extraordinary resistance of the Ukrainian people and armed forces in the face of Russia’s unprovoked invasion has prevented the Kremlin from achieving its initial aim of overthrowing the Ukrainian state and replacing it with a client regime.

Western training teams and supplies of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile launchers were crucial in enabling Ukraine to defeat and force back the Russian assaults on Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mykolaiv during the first phase of the invasion. The US and UK in particular took the lead in rushing significant proportions of their Javelin and NLAW (Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapon) stocks to Ukraine in time for them to be used with devastating effect against Russian tank and armoured-vehicle columns on all fronts. However, the expenditure rate of these weapons has been far higher than any of the procurement policies which produced them had accounted for before the conflict, and the initial rate of supply cannot be maintained. Furthermore, as Russian forces concentrate on large-scale offensive operations against Ukrainian positions in the more open terrain of the Donbas, shoulder-fired weapons like NLAWs and Javelins used by light infantry are no longer sufficient.

E-commerce policy for a new digital India

Anand Raghuraman

What makes digital India tick? Rising connectivity and smartphone adoption are key structural drivers. Digital payments and e-governance offer vital catalytic sparks. But, the heart of Digital India—what gives it life, reach, and vigor—is its e-commerce ecosystem: the constellation of apps, marketplaces, mobile payments, and logistics services that help Indians bridge their online and offline worlds.

Over the past eight years, India’s e-commerce ecosystem has experienced significant transformation and growth, rising from an estimated $21 billion in 2014 to $55 billion in 2021. COVID-19 has only accelerated the use of e-commerce services, with online retail and grocery delivery emerging as critical lifelines for Indians facing pandemic lockdowns and supply-chain disruptions. Today, e-commerce services have expanded to nearly every Indian city and pin code, and 60 percent of all e-commerce transactions and online orders now come from shoppers residing in Tier II Indian cities. This flurry of activity has also catalyzed new job creation across India’s digital economy and retail sector, where hybrid models of “online-offline” commerce are estimated to create twelve million jobs over the next eight years. Still, e-commerce accounts for only 4 percent of India’s overall retail market at present, with physical retail holding strong.

The rapid reactions of the Central European countries to the war in Ukraine

Europe is being confronted with one of its largest crises since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. On the 24th of February 2022, Russia began a military invasion of Ukraine, sending shockwaves throughout the continent. The aggression of Russia is an unprecedented act of iniquity. The unrest is deeply alarming for all European countries, which showed with their decisive responses to the crisis, more unity in ten days from the start of the war, than they have in the last ten years. This unanimity also reflects the concerns of the European leaders that if Putin's aggression succeeds, Russia might not stop its endeavors at the Ukrainian borders. The Central European countries deeply affected by the war, being in close proximity to Ukraine, reacted quickly, by supporting the strongest sanctions in history and sending direct military assistance to Kyiv. Known for their slow, foreign policy decisions, often complicated by internal division, these countries didn't hesitate to take pivotal steps this time, to help Ukraine, including decisions to deliver lethal weapons to a third country; to support openness to EU membership for the bloc's eastern neighbor after years of enlargement fatigue; and to grant temporary residency to Ukrainian refugees according to the 2001 Temporary Protection Directive.

Will Energy Decide The Ukraine War?

Timothy Hopper

The Ukraine war, which was preceded by the United States’ provocative warnings, has had different positive and negative consequences for the US, both domestically and internationally. Domestically, the political parties’ race for the upcoming midterm congressional elections in November has been significantly affected by the Ukraine crisis. Both Democratic and Republican candidates are trying to use the crisis as leverage to lambaste the opposing party.

According to census estimates, there were 1,009,874 Americans of Ukrainian origin in 2019, accounting for about 0.3 percent of the total population of the United States. They all have family or relatives in Ukraine. Despite their small number of votes, Ukrainian Americans can have a significant impact on the upcoming elections as they mostly live in key eastern states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio. Therefore, candidates from both parties make all kinds of anti-Russian promises to woo these voters.

Russia’s Cossacks: ‘Fighters’ Versus ‘Cheerleaders’

Richard Arnold

Moscow may be drawing most of its conscripts for the war in Ukraine from ethnic minority regions such as Buryatia and Dagestan (see EDM, May 4), but there appears to be a wartime division of labor amongst the voluntarist Cossack movement as well. In particular, one can observe a distinction between “fighters” and “cheerleaders”—that is, those Cossacks actually engaged in combat in a war zone versus those tasked with maintaining morale back on the home front. Evidence of this seeming division of labor requires a close reading of the local media sources linked to the Cossack movement, such as the website of the All-Russian Cossack Society (Vsko.ru). As of early May, this site published a total of 70 articles related to Cossack involvement in the war effort, of which 21 named a specific host in the title. Fully one-third of those articles (7) concerned the Kuban Cossacks, with most reporting on that group’s combat role.

Russian Ground Forces Advance Cautiously in Donbas Attrition

Roger McDermott

Russia’s widely anticipated campaign to push Ukrainian military forces out of the administrative borders of the Donbas region (Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) has not resulted in any effort to mount a major ground offensive. Despite several weeks of apparent preparations, including artillery fires across the 300-mile line of contact, probing in force, reconnaissance-based attacks, increased use of airpower and efforts to reposition and reconstitute battle-damaged units, the Russian Ground Forces have settled into a protracted war of attrition. However, despite Russian units avoiding advances beyond their own artillery ranges, adopting a more cautious approach to operations, recent advances provide some indications as to the priorities for Russian field commanders in the coming weeks: these center—though not exclusively—around gains made in areas such as Popasna (RIA Novosti, May 8).


Joseph M. Donato 

The bear is snared. After more than two months of war, the Russian campaign in Ukraine has stalled. The stalemate settling across the battlefield has left legions of analysts, strategists, and statesmen bewildered. Some predicted a quagmire from the outset, but most seasoned military observers expected Russia to dominate the battlefield within the opening week of the war. Despite Russia’s claim that its “special military operation” is proceeding according to plan, the signs of a grave military miscalculation are mounting. The UK minister of defence estimates that over fifteen thousand Russian troops have been killed in action since the start of the war, and Russian factories are straining to replace the hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles that have been destroyed. As the battered Russian forces regroup in the Donbas, the Western military commentariat is assiduously assessing how Europe’s largest conventional army became embroiled in a grinding war of attrition against an ostensibly inferior opponent.

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning and the Future of National Security

Steve Blank

AI and the DoD

The Department of Defense has thought that AI is such a foundational set of technologies that they started a dedicated organization -- the JAIC -- to enable and implement artificial intelligence across the Department. They provide the infrastructure, tools, and technical expertise for DoD users to successfully build and deploy their AI-accelerated projects.

Some specific defense-related AI applications are listed later in this document.

We’re in the Middle of a Revolution

Imagine it’s 1950, and you’re a visitor who traveled back in time from today. Your job is to explain the impact computers will have on business, defense and society to people who are using manual calculators and slide rules. You succeed in convincing one company and a government to adopt computers and learn to code much faster than their competitors /adversaries. And they figure out how they could digitally enable their business – supply chain, customer interactions, etc. Think about the competitive edge they’d have by today in business or as a nation. They’d steamroll everyone.

America Must Embrace the Goal of Ukrainian Victory

Alexander Vindman

For years before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Ukrainians had been growing frustrated with U.S. leadership. A former high-level Ukrainian official described U.S. policy to the country in this way: “You won’t let us drown, but you won’t let us swim.” Washington has earned this mixed reputation in the decades since Ukraine broke free from the Soviet Union in 1991. Although Ukraine saw the United States as an indispensable partner and greatly appreciated U.S. security and economic assistance, many Ukrainians were aggrieved that the United States remained reluctant to more fully and forthrightly support them in the face of Russian provocations and aggression—even following Ukraine’s pivot toward the West after the tumult of 2014, when protests toppled a pro-Russian government in Kyiv and Russia responded by annexing Crimea and invading the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. With few exceptions, Ukrainian pleas for increased military aid, greater economic investment, and a concrete road map for integration with Europe fell on deaf ears in Washington. The Ukrainians could not understand why the U.S. national security establishment continued to privilege maintaining stable relations with Russia—an irredentist and revanchist authoritarian state—over support for Ukraine, a democratic state that had made important strides in weeding out corruption and implementing democratic reforms.

China's Digital Challenge: Hidden in Plain Sight, Bigger Than You Thought, and Much Harder to Solve

John Hemmings

Last week saw General Secretary Xi Jinping chair the state-level Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission in Beijing. It was an important meeting focused on the challenge of boosting economic growth under pandemic conditions, in part through a new “all-out” effort on infrastructure. It was important for another reason, perhaps a far more important one for the United States. Xi Jinping once again accelerated Digital China, Beijing’s comprehensive digital strategy designed to help it win the future.

This part of the meeting outcome did not make the U.S. headlines, but it should have. There are multiple drivers behind China’s digital strategy, but one of them is competition, and in particular, technology competition with the United States. It is always useful when you are competing to know that the race has started. This race started more than 20 years ago, and according to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) history, Xi Jinping was the one who started it. The contest is personal, and Xi moved another piece on the board.

Russia’s Coming Great Power Struggle

Max Bergmann

On Monday, all eyes were on Red Square for the annual May 9 victory day celebration to see what Vladimir Putin would do. The answer was not much. Instead of mobilizing the country for total war against Ukraine or declaring some sort of Potemkin victory, Putin stayed the course. This is not because the current trajectory of Russia’s operation in Ukraine is working as planned. What has become apparent in the war in Ukraine, especially since Russia gave up its offensive against Kyiv, is that there is a gap between Russia’s grandiose geopolitical objectives and its capacity to deliver.

In the case of Ukraine, escalating the conflict might turn the war in Putin’s favor, but mass mobilization would not guarantee success in the battlefield. It could also lead to intense public backlash, putting his regime at risk. Thus, the two defining obsessions of the Putin era—regime survival and Russia’s geopolitical might—are in tension. As sanctions take their toll and battlefield losses mount, the gap between Putin’s ambitions and Russia’s capacity is likely to grow. As a leader obsessed with geopolitics, Putin will inevitably engage in a desperate scramble to maintain Russia’s great power status, but he will find it incredibly difficult in the weeks, months, and years ahead to do so.