3 June 2022

The War in Ukraine and the Western Balkans

Ivana Stradner
Source link

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is merely a continuation of the war it began 2014. Although he thought he would be able to seize Kyiv in a matter of days and install a pro-Kremlin regime, he likely miscalculated his military capabilities and the resolve of the Ukrainian army. Putin is now focusing on the next phase of Russia’s war, which focuses on the Donbas region. Given Russia’s military shortcomings in Ukraine, many in the West are already celebrating his failure. However, it is too early to do so, in part because Putin still has a powerful non-military tool at his disposal: information weapons. Russia has intensively used these information weapons since Putin came to power, and it is searching for weak links to distract the West. In particular, Russia is exploiting Moldova, Georgia, and the Western Balkans as potential new avenues to undermine Europe where Russia resorts to its well-known playbook of exploiting existing divisions and exacerbating secessionist tensions. The war in Ukraine also has an impact on the Western Balkans and the West should look for early warnings in the information space, as they are good indicators of Russia’s moves. Understanding these operations is essential in shaping an appropriate response from the West. That response must actively challenge and counter Russia’s information operations in the Western Balkans.

Western Support for Ukraine Has Peaked

Andrew Exum

We’ve likely reached the high-water mark of the grand alliance to defeat Russia in Ukraine. In the coming months, relations between the Ukrainian leadership and its external supporters will grow strained, and the culprit will be economic pain exacerbated by the war.

When our children and grandchildren study this conflict, they will marvel at the speed and audacity with which the Western powers—Europe and the United States, primarily—mobilized to arm the Ukrainian people in the face of Russia’s onslaught. In stark contrast to the Winter War of 1939–40, when Russia invaded Finland and various Western powers hemmed and hawed before providing only token assistance to the plucky Finns, Europeans have fallen over themselves to provide lethal aid to the Ukrainians.

Pakistan Sends Team to Kabul to Discuss Ceasefire With Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan

Munir Ahmed

Pakistan’s government on Wednesday sent a 50-member delegation of tribal elders to Kabul to negotiate an extension of a truce with the Pakistani Taliban that expired this week, two security officials said. Talks between the two sides that led to ceasefires in the past have been mediated by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban — known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP — are a separate group but allied with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in their country last August, as the U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout from Afghanistan.

The TTP has been behind numerous attacks in Pakistan over the past 14 years and has long fought for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in the country, the release of their members who are in government custody and a reduction of Pakistani military presence in the country’s former tribal regions.

Afghan Taliban Launch Campaign to Eradicate Poppy Crop

Abdul Khaliq

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have begun a campaign to eradicate poppy cultivation, aiming to wipe out the country’s massive production of opium and heroin, even as farmers fear their livelihoods will be ruined at a time of growing poverty.

On a recent day in Washir district in southern Helmand province, armed Taliban fighters stood guard as a tractor tore up a field of poppies. The field’s owner stood nearby, watching.

The Taliban, who took power in Afghanistan more than nine months ago, issued an edict in early April banning poppy cultivation throughout the country.

Those violating the ban “will be arrested and tried according to Sharia laws in relevant courts,” the Taliban deputy interior minister for counternarcotics, Mullah Abdul Haq Akhund, told The Associated Press in Helmand’s provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

Afghanistan is the world’s biggest opium producer and a major source for heroin in Europe and Asia. Production spiraled over the past 20 years despite billions of dollars spent by the U.S. trying to stop poppy cultivation.

But the ban will likely strike a heavy blow to millions of impoverished farmers and day laborers who rely on proceeds from the crop to survive. The ban comes as Afghanistan’s economy has collapsed, cut off from international funding in the wake of the Taliban takeover. Most of the population struggles to afford food, and the country has been suffering under its worst drought in years.

Noor Mohammed, who owns one poppy field in Washir that was torn apart by Taliban tractors, said his plot of land is small and lacks water, so he can’t survive by growing less profitable crops.

“If we are not allowed to cultivate this crop, we will not earn anything,” he said of his poppies.

Day laborers can earn upwards of $300 a month harvesting opium from the poppies. Villagers often rely on the promise of the upcoming poppy harvest to borrow money for staples such as flour, sugar, cooking oil and heating oil.

Helmand is the heartland of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. It appeared the new eradication campaign was targeting mainly those who planted their crops after the ban was announced. Many others who had planted earlier succeeded in harvesting, going from plant to plant, slicing the poppy’s bulb, then scooping up the sap that oozes out, the raw material for opium.

Akhund, the deputy interior minister, said the Taliban were in touch with other governments and non-governmental organizations to work out alternative crops for farmers.

Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said the eradication campaign will take place across the country. “We are committed to bringing poppy cultivation to zero,” he told the AP.

It’s not known how many poppies were planted this season, how much was harvested and how many fields the Taliban have eradicated so far.

But Afghanistan’s production has steadily risen, reaching new heights every year in recent years. In 2021, 177,000 hectares (438,000 acres) were planted with poppies, yielding enough opium to produce up to 650 tons of heroin, according to estimates by the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime. That was an increase from up to 590 tons of heroin in 2020.

The total value of Afghanistan’s opiates production in 2021 was $1.8-$2.7 billion, up to 14 percent of the country’s GDP, exceeding the value of its legal exports, the UNODC said in its most recent report.

During their first time in power in the late 1990s, the Taliban also banned poppy cultivation and with a fierce campaign of destroying croplands nearly eradicated production within two years, according to the United Nations.

However, after the U.S.-led invasion that ousted the Taliban in 2001, many farmers returned to growing poppies.

Over the next nearly 20 years, Washington spent more than $8 billion trying to eradicate Afghan poppy production. Instead, it only steadily increased: In 2002, around 75,000 hectares were planted with poppies, producing some 3,400 tons of opium. Last year, production was double that.

During the years-long Taliban insurgency, the movement reportedly made millions of dollars taxing farmers and middlemen to move their drugs outside Afghanistan. Senior officials of the U.S.-backed government also reportedly made millions on the flourishing drug trade.

Today, Afghanistan’s opium output is greater than all other opium-producing countries combined. Nearly 80 percent of the heroin produced from Afghan opium reaches Europe through Central Asia and Pakistan.

Japan’s Tangled Territorial Dispute With Russia

Cristian Martini Grimaldi

The war in Ukraine, 8,000 kilometers away, may seem distant to most inhabitants of the Japanese archipelago. But there is an exception: the people of Hokkaido. From here, Russia is close – very close, just across the bay. You don’t even need a pair of binoculars; you can see it with your naked eyes, as I did during a recent visit to northeast Hokkaido.

One of the Russian islets of Habomai is just 3.7 kilometers away. For comparison, the longest bridge in Japan is the Akashi bridge in Kobe, which is 3.9 km long. Were these friendly neighbors, Japan and Russia could share expenses and build a bridge, which people could use to literally walk between the countries.

But these are not friendly neighbors – not anymore, at least. Certainly not since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine and Japan, along with other 30 other countries, imposed sanctions on Russia. But the hostility didn’t begin with Ukraine. It goes far back into the past – 77 years, to be precise.

Inter-Ethnic Animosity Saps Effectiveness of Russia’s Army in Ukraine

Aslan Doukaev

Russia’s 2022 re-invasion of Ukraine has damaged not only bilateral relations between the two majority–Eastern Slavic neighbors but also—perhaps inadvertently—destabilized ties, links, goodwill, and mutual trust between the Russian periphery and the center, on the one hand, and between certain ethnic groups within the Russian Federation, on the other.

Witness the recent conflict between Buryats and Chechens in the invading force. At the end of April, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) released a statement about a gun battle between Russian troops from the Siberian republic of Buryatia and Chechen fighters loyal to Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. Upwards of 100 soldiers were reportedly drawn into the exchange of fire in the village of Kyselivka, in occupied Kherson Oblast. “The causes of the inter-ethnic conflict are the reluctance of the Buryats to go on the offensive and the ‘inequality’ of their circumstances compared to those of the Chechens,” the GUR statement read. The latter never fight on the front line, always remaining in the rear as “barrier squads,” the spy agency said. “Their [Chechen fighters’] task is to force the occupier’s units to press forward. That is, to open fire on those who are attempting to retreat” (Gur.gov.ua, April 29; see EDM, April 26). Although the GUR report is sparse on details, the Buryats appear to resent the Chechen troops appropriating most of the loot they had plundered from Ukrainian homes. Little wonder the Siberian service members rebelled against Kadyrov’s forces; but there is arguably more to the story than meets the eye.

Ukraine’s Best Chance for Peace

Samuel Charap

At this stage of the war in Ukraine, as Russia steps up its offensive in the Donbas and more revelations of the atrocities committed by its forces emerge, the prospect of any kind of negotiated peace between Moscow and Kyiv seems remote. Even earlier this spring, when delegations from the two sides were meeting, the talks had little impact on either Russia’s or Ukraine’s determination to keep fighting. And at times, both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been dismissive of the negotiations. Today, the sides have effectively suspended their diplomatic efforts.

Amid the gloom, it would be easy to forget the real progress that negotiators have already made. In late March, Ukrainian diplomats introduced an innovative framework for a deal that could provide a pathway out of the war. And crucially, the proposal, which was leaked to the press following talks in Istanbul on March 29, has already received at least preliminary support from both sides. At the center of the proposed deal is a trade: Kyiv would renounce its ambitions to join NATO and embrace permanent neutrality in return for receiving security guarantees from both its Western partners and from Russia.

Will Teaching Aggressors a Lesson Deter Future Wars?

Stephen M. Walt

Westerners—such as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg—who favor ever-greater levels of support for Ukraine sometimes imply that inflicting a decisive defeat on Russia will prevent future wars in other places. If Russia is decisively beaten, or at least denied any significant gains, the West will have shown that “aggression does not pay.” Not only will Russian President Vladimir Putin learn his lesson and never try something like this again, but other world leaders who might be contemplating the use of force—such as Chinese President Xi Jinping—will think twice before trying something similar.

Some observers, such as Francis Fukuyama, go even further and suggest a decisive Russian defeat could end the malaise that Western liberalism has experienced in recent years and restore the waning “spirit of 1989.”

Contemplating The Unthinkable In Ukraine: Trading Land For Peace

Daniel Davis

Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk Oblast in Ukraine, said on Sunday that the “situation has extremely escalated” in Severodonetsk; witnesses report that Russian howitzers are pounding the city “200 times an hour.” Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continues asking for “supplies of heavy weapons” from his Western supporters to enable his forces to, as he said on Sunday, mount an offensive to fight “until (Ukraine) regains all its territories.” A cold, hard examination of the realities of the situation, however, exposes that such objectives have little to no chance of being accomplished.

If the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) cannot reasonably expect to militarily defeat Putin’s army and drive them back to Russia, it might be time for Kyiv – and the West – to consider pursuing alternative solutions.

Save the Last Dance for the International Space Station

Zhanna Malekos Smith

Occasionally, the International Space Station (ISS) must perform special dance maneuvers to avoid colliding with other objects. But the “dancing days” of the largest satellite to orbit the Earth are numbered. Simply put, the ISS infrastructure is aging.
President Biden’s Pledge to the ISS through 2030

Last December, the Biden administration pledged to extend the technical lifespan of the 1998 space station through 2030 to promote deep space exploration and continued collaboration with the 16 partner nations. The station can be safely operated under the aegis of NASA through 2030, but will need to be de-orbited, according to the new International Space Station Transition Report. In addition to NASA, the ISS is also supported by the European Space Agency, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, and the Russian State Space Corporation, Roscosmos.

Encryption Security for a Post Quantum World

Georgia Wood

In early May, the White House released its National Security Memorandum (NSM) on Promoting United States Leadership in Quantum Computing While Mitigating Risks to Vulnerable Cryptographic Systems. Regardless of the challenge of understanding quantum computing, or visualizing its deployment, the NSM is sufficiently straightforward. The title itself offers a guide: the United States wishes to maintain leadership in the field—as of 2021, the United States has filed 1,096 quantum computing patents; China 384—but recognizes and seeks to prevent the risk it can pose to encryption security. As noted in the NSM, a sufficiently advanced quantum computer will present a risk to much of the public-key cryptography used in the United States and elsewhere.

To mitigate this risk, in 2016 the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) initiated a process to solicit and standardize one or more quantum-resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms, set to be finalized by 2024. The NIST standard would be followed by the transition to encryption based on this post-quantum cryptography. This process of transitioning from an outdated encryption standard, however, is not new. This post explores the previous transition from one encryption standard to another, and draws lessons for this next step, critical for ensuring encryption security in a post quantum world. First, it is important to understand the foundations of encryption and how quantum computers can potentially pose a risk to its security.

What Kissinger Gets Right on the Russo-Ukrainian War

Amin E. Aghjeh

Returning to status quo ante is an ideal solution to end the war. A buffer Ukraine with a strong military can sustain its freedom in the future.

Last week in the World Economic Forum in Davos, former U.S. national security advisor and secretary of state Henry Kissinger suggested a controversial solution for bringing an end to the ongoing war in Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine even went that far to compare Kissinger’s proposal to Neville Chamberlain’s infamous appeasement of Adolf Hitler in Munich in 1938.

Kissinger’s argument is that a peace deal that separates two sides of the conflict along the line of pre-2022 invasion should be negotiated. According to this proposal, Crimea and eastern parts of the Donbas region that Russia seized in 2014 would remain under Russian control. Kissinger called this solution “just and possible to define.” Pursuing the war beyond that point, added Kissinger, would not be about “the freedom of Ukraine,” but “a new war against Russia itself.”

Don’t Believe Elon Musk’s False Satellite Promises

William Fisher

The war in Ukraine has been good for Elon Musk, allowing him to grab headlines and commercial opportunities. Online followers delighted in his waggish posts (including a mano-a-mano challenge to Vladimir Putin) even as Musk earnestly advanced his business agenda. Amid the torrent of Elon-tinged ink spilled since the Russian invasion—his $44 billion pending Twitter acquisition, his ongoing battle with the Security Exchange Commission, a new service order by NASA, and more successful satellite launches—the following merit a shout-out:

First, Russia suspended joint space missions with the United States—creating momentum for Musk’s own Lunar and Mars initiatives. Second, the Russian Space Corporation (a Musk competitor for satellite launches) was sidelined by sanctions, allowing him to pick up new customers. Third, Musk’s space-based broadband operation was lauded for gallantly donating satellite receivers to Ukraine. Fourth, unmentioned was the vexing fact that U.S. taxpayers subsidized the “gift” to the tune of $3 million dollars, shipping included.

Is Missile-Driven Deterrence the Solution to the War in Ukraine?

Henry Sokolski

Ever since President Joe Biden first swore off fighting World War III (and creating no-fly zones over Ukraine), Washington nuclear intellectuals have enjoyed a momentary splash of relevance. Nuclear fear and loathing—i.e., nuclear mutual assured destruction and deterrence—are back. Vladimir Putin rattled his nuclear sabers. Initially, we blinked. Now, however, with Ukraine better armed and about to receive advanced missiles, the blinking is less intense.

Without quite thinking it through, Washington and Ukraine are transitioning from a war initially bounded primarily by nuclear threats to one being driven by conventional strike systems. Thus, strategic military breakouts by either side have been stymied less by dint of threatened nuclear attacks (which although frightening, are highly unlikely), than by the exchange of thousands of artillery rounds, drones, and rockets.

The EU’s oil ban is a damp squib

When Putin’s tanks rolled into Ukraine on 24 February there was a conceit that this might be the first war which the West could fight – and win – by sanctions alone. The EU’s latest efforts to stop importing Russian oil show just what a folly this was. Donations of military equipment to Ukraine are certainly helping to keep Russian forces at bay, but economic sanctions? That is another story.

Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas is the product of years of ill-conceived energy policy

Sanctions may be helping to lower living standards among Russian citizens, but they are still a long, long way from cutting off the lifeblood of the Russian economy – its oil and gas exports. Since February, EU countries have paid over £40 billion to Russia for its gas and oil – money which is helping fund the Russian military machine. But even after Monday’s new EU agreement, which was supposed to phase out oil and gas imports for good, substantial trade will continue. The agreement only really tries to bring an end to oil imports which arrive from Russia by ship. Imports via pipeline – which account for a quarter of the total – will be exempt. This is to ensure the continuation of supplies to Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, which are highly dependent on the pipelines – Slovakia obtains virtually all its oil in this way. The loudest whelp of joy from Monday night’s negotiations came from Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban, who boasted on Facebook that Hungary would be exempt from the embargo. It isn’t just Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, either – Poland and Germany will be allowed to continue to draw oil from Russian pipelines, although they have said they will try to stop doing this by the end of the year. Assuming they do meet this deadline, the best that can be hoped for is that by this time next year EU oil imports from Russia will be down by 90 per cent on pre-invasion levels – a long way from a complete cessation.

Let Germany lead the rebuilding of Ukraine

As a young Marxist student Olaf Scholz declared himself to be a conscientious objector and was allowed to work in a care home rather than carry out his military service. Now, as a moderate Social Democrat German chancellor, he opposes Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine but is reluctant to give Kyiv the full means to fight back. The likely result is that when the dust settles, Germany will be seen as one of the war’s losers.

Scholz’s leadership is marked by foot dragging at crucial moments in the Russian invasion. Day and night artillery barrages are flattening eastern Ukraine. Yet Germany supplies weapons only when under maximum pressure. It tries to sidestep the most effective energy sanctions against Moscow. Scholz continues to think .

Never Underestimate Ukrainians

David J. Kramer,  M. Freeman

The U.S. intelligence community certainly got it right when it predicted Vladimir Putin would invade Ukraine for the second time, the first being back in 2014. The community got it very wrong, however, as did many others, when it anticipated that the renewed war would be over quickly with the fall of Kyiv, the capital, within days, and Ukraine’s subjugation to Russia.

Of course, Putin, his generals, and Russia’s own intelligence services thought the same thing. They expected the invasion of Ukraine would be a cakewalk, with Ukrainians welcoming them with open arms.

In fact, the war has gone very badly for Putin and his forces because of the tremendous courage and determination of the Ukrainian people and their leader, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in defending their country and their freedom. Western military assistance, albeit tragically delayed, has also helped considerably. The toll on Ukraine has been horrible, with thousands of Ukrainians injured and killed, millions displaced from their homes, and billions of dollars in damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure.

The AI Defending Ukraine

Will Lockett

It seems these days AI can make everything better, from engineering insanely fast cars to making farms more efficient, to even unlocking the elusive power of nuclear fusion. But in Ukraine a controversial AI is being repurposed to undermine the Russian war machine. The potential damage it could cause the Russians is enormous, but some question if it should be used at all? So, welcome to the murky water that is Clearview AI.

Firstly, what is Clearview AI? In a nutshell, it is an incredibly powerful facial recognition AI, able to identify people in photos with high accuracy even after a facial injury. That part isn’t the controversial part. Instead, it is where Clearview gets its data from. To work, it needs a truly gigantic dataset of photos. These photos also need to be linked to a name, email address or another form of identity. Rather than go about this honestly Clearview scrapes this data off social media. So those hundreds of photos of you on Facebook that you’re tagged in? Clearview has likely saved all of them, linked them to your address, name and even electoral roll, and trained their AI to spot you in any image.

Fear grows that US military satellite communications are falling behind: Study


WASHINGTON: Despite growing more reliable, military operators fret that Defense Department satellite communications (SATCOM) capabilities are not keeping apace with either growing needs or adversary challenges, according to a new study.

The vast majority of respondents (eight out of 10) from across the services said that improving US military SATCOM should be a high priority, and a large majority (some 77%) pointed to the fact that advanced capabilities would be key to Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), the Government Business Council’s “State of Military Communications Technologies” study finds.

However, the study shows, only about a third believed that the Pentagon was moving quickly enough to adopt commercial technology and streamlined acquisition rules to be able to make necessary upgrades quickly.

Russia Controls 'About 20 Percent' Of Ukraine: Zelensky

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that Russia controls about one-fifth of his country, including ground gained over Moscow's invasion, the annexed Crimean peninsula and territory held by Moscow-backed separatists.

"Today, about 20 percent of our territory is under the control of the occupiers," the Ukrainian leader said during an address to lawmakers in Luxembourg.

Russian forces are solidifying their hold on the eastern Donbas region and pushing steadily towards Ukraine's de facto administrative centre in that region, Kramatorsk.

However, they pulled back from regions around the capital and in the northeast to focus on their offensive for the eastern industrial region.

Europe’s Russian Oil Ban Could Overhaul Global Energy Market

Clifford Krauss

HOUSTON — The European Union’s embargo on most Russian oil imports could deliver a fresh jolt to the world economy, propelling a realignment of global energy trading that leaves Russia economically weaker, gives China and India bargaining power and enriches producers like Saudi Arabia.

Europe, the United States and much of the rest of the world could suffer because oil prices, which have been marching higher for months, could climb further as Europe buys energy from more distant suppliers. European companies will have to scour the world for the grades of oil that their refineries can process as easily as Russian oil. There could even be sporadic shortages of certain fuels like diesel, which is crucial for trucks and agricultural equipment.

In effect, Europe is trading one unpredictable oil supplier — Russia — for unstable exporters in the Middle East.

Will U.S. Defend Taiwan if China Invades? Experts Weigh In


Alife-size mockup of an American aircraft carrier in a desert in northwest China, captured by commercial satellites late last year, confirmed for many that Beijing was actively preparing for a military engagement with U.S. forces in a future fight over Taiwan.

China, which has maintained a decades-long claim to the island it has never governed, faced off with the United States on the Korean Peninsula and in the Taiwan Strait during the first half of the Cold War.

In the mid-1990s, already over a decade after Washington and Beijing had established formal diplomatic relations, it was the U.S. Navy that deterred the People's Liberation Army from further aggression against Taiwan.

Nearly 30 years later, the balance of power across the strait has shifted significantly; Pentagon officials and their counterparts in Taipei believe China intends to build the capability to finally seize Taiwan, regardless of Washington's intention to intervene in the next Taiwan Strait crisis.

World’s 1st Anti-Hypersonic System? China Says It Is Ready With An AI-Powered Defense Against Mach 5+ Missiles

Sakshi Tiwari

While Beijing has repeatedly demonstrated its hypersonic offensive capabilities, it is now time for a ‘Chinese defense system’ against hypersonic missiles.

Chinese military researchers claim to have developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that can predict the trajectory of a hypersonic glide missile as it approaches a target at speeds exceeding five times that of sound, South China Morning Post reported.

A rocket is used to launch a hypersonic glide vehicle to hit a target. The glide vehicle subsequently separates from the rocket and moves toward its target at a speed of at least Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.

Pakistan Sponsored Terror Next Door. Now, It’s Back to Roost

Lynne O’Donnell

The United Nations Security Council has confirmed the resurgence of al Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that is closely tied to the Taliban and is using their return to power in Afghanistan to find safe haven, attract recruits, and boost fundraising for their never-ending jihad.

Al Qaeda’s leader, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden in 2011, and other core members of the group’s leadership are living in eastern Afghanistan as the Taliban’s guests, a report by the U.N. Security Council notes. The U.N. report says Zawahiri is churning out propaganda videos, apparently comfortable that he can “lead more effectively” than was possible before last year’s Taliban victory over the United States.

The United States Can’t Afford to Stay Entangled With China

Jacob Helberg and Enes Kanter Freedom

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe has scrambled—and struggled—to wean itself from Russian energy. “Europe has learnt its lesson; it will change its energy policy fundamentally,” former British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared. “No one will want to be in a position again where there is a conflict between what you need to do and your dependence on Russian energy.” Wrestling with the realities of reversing decades of European Union trade policy—at a cost of some $300 billion—German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz has echoed Blair’s sentiment while also noting that “this is, as you may imagine, not that easy because it needs infrastructure that has to be built first.”

As the Jewish grandson of Holocaust survivors and the Muslim son of a Turkish political prisoner, we know cost-free societies pay when well-intentioned policies repeatedly culminate to inaction and reaction in the face of successive warning signs by autocrats with global ambitions. Macroeconomics cannot be indefinitely divorced from geopolitics. The United States should heed those lessons and proactively redefine its economic relationship with another ruthless authoritarian power: China.

What The West (Still) Gets Wrong About Putin

Tatiana Stanovaya

One of the reasons it’s so difficult to understand Russian intentions—and what is at stake in the Ukraine war—is the significant divergence between how external observers see events and how they are viewed from the Kremlin. Things that appear obvious to some, such as Russia’s incapacity to achieve a military victory, are perceived completely differently in Moscow. The fact is that most of today’s discussions over how to help Ukraine win on the battlefield, coerce Kyiv into concessions, or allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to save face have little in common with reality.

Here I will debunk five common assumptions about how Putin sees this war. The West needs to look at the situation differently if it wants to be more effective in its approach and decrease the risks of escalation.

Putin’s Hard Choices Why the Russian Despot Can Neither Mobilize Nor Retreat

Michael Kimmage and Maria Lipman

Russian President Vladimir Putin has landed in an unenviable position. His country has the resources to inflict damage on Ukraine in perpetuity. But because the first phase of the war has been so costly for Russia and because Ukraine’s military is mounting such stiff resistance, Russia faces serious difficulty achieving anything meaningful on the battlefield without committing much more manpower than it currently has available.

Calling up large numbers of reservists while putting Russian society openly on a war footing solves the problem in theory. But it is something for which the Russian public is fundamentally unprepared. To date, Putin has referred to the war in Ukraine as a “special military operation” and held only one mass rally in support of the war. Full-out mobilization, which would make war an inescapable fact of Russian life, would revolutionize the regime Putin has constructed since coming to power in 2000. Putinism has been a formula: the government discouraged people from meddling in politics, while leaving them mostly on their own, and the people readily surrendered their responsibility for decision making. In 2014, he could achieve his military aims in Ukraine without radically redefining Russian politics. That is no longer an option.

Ukraine war: despite Russia’s success in Donbas, this is only the end of the beginning

Frank Ledwidge

When considering the current position of the war in Ukraine, it’s worth remembering that the assumption of Russian commanders when they began their “special military operation”, was that the whole thing would be complete within two weeks. So much for assumptions. What they face now is a protracted attritional battle which may go on for years.

In terms of manpower, the Russians have committed 110 of their 190 battalion tactical groups (BTGs) to Ukraine. Roughly one third of them have been committed to the area the Ukrainians call the “joint forces operation”, which we know as Donbas. Their intentions now are to surround and destroy a large defending Ukrainian force. They have made very slow and heavy work of it so far.

On May 27, the long-contested town of Lyman fell to Russia and fighting is going on to complete the encirclement of Severodonetsk and its twin town (across a river) of Lysychansk. There has been no major breakthrough but rather a series of bloody, short advances for the past few weeks.

Lessons from the Coronavirus Pandemic: Leveraging Biotechnology to Tackle Infectious Diseases in India


In India, the coronavirus pandemic encouraged partnerships between academia and industry, fostered collaboration among competitor companies, and stimulated cooperation within different government departments to leverage biotechnology to develop new test kits, protective equipment, vaccines, and respiratory devices.

Despite this collaborative ecosystem, a few stakeholders faced several challenges during different stages of product development including discovery, research and development (R&D), clinical trial, or commercialization of their products. Some of these challenges can be attributed to a lack of an ecosystem that encourages collaborative research in India, limited involvement of private funding entities, a gap between academia and industry where university researchers lack sufficient awareness of the imperatives of industry, and a lack of awareness regarding contemporary applications of biotechnology among the regulatory community.

Russian Forces Approach Total Control Over Luhansk Region

Mark Episkopos

Russian forces continue to slowly capture parts of Severodonetsk, the last major city in the eastern region of Luhansk still under Ukrainian control.

Leonid Pasechnik, the head of the breakaway pro-Russian Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), told Russian state media on Tuesday that Russian and Russian-aligned forces hold one-third of Severodonetsk. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov claimed that Russian forces are now in control of as many as 70 percent of the city’s residential areas, a figure that is generally corroborated by local Ukrainian authorities.

The LPR’s ambassador to Russia, Rodion Miroshnik, claimed in a Telegram post that the Ukrainian forces still inside the city will try to flee in the coming days. “Ukrainian militants are going to leave Severodonetsk, hiding behind peaceful civilians. People taking shelter in the Azot chemical plant have been ordered to gather their belongings and prepare for evacuation. The [Ukrainian] militants are planning to take hostages on the territory of the chemical plant and to flee Severodonetsk with them, leaving behind reserve forces to cover their retreat,” Miroshnik wrote.

Putin Is Paying For Ignoring These Principles of War

Rick Chersicla

With the Russian war on Ukraine already three months old, it is clear that Moscow’s initial plan has foundered and failed to achieve its original strategic aims. The failure to seize Kiev and force a Ukrainian concession, coupled with high casualties (to include an astounding number of general officers to date) and heavy material losses, has surprised most Western experts. The explanations for these failures are numerous—poor, overly-optimistic assumptions, inadequate logistics planning, Western support to Ukraine, and the performance and spirit of Ukrainian armed forces and volunteers themselves, to state the most obvious. In addition to the myriad of operational explanations for Russia’s failure, Putin’s fiasco thus far can be attributed at least in part to behavior that violates what one twentieth-century military leader held to be principles of war.

While he doesn’t have the name recognition of George Patton or John J. Pershing within the pantheon of American military leaders, Maj. Gen. Fox Conner had an outsized impact on the profession of arms in the twentieth century. This lesser-known general played an important role as a staff officer in World War I, serving in key positions with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) headquarters during the critical final offensives of the war. His most lasting impact, however, was a result of his mentorship to key leaders such as Patton, George Marshall, and a rising star named Dwight Eisenhower.