11 July 2022

Is the West Triumphant Again?

Kishore Mahbubani

HERE WE go again!

A new tsunami of triumphalism is sweeping across Western capitals, particularly in Washington and London. The illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine has been thwarted. The Ukrainians are putting up a glorious fight to defend their freedom. A new solidarity has been forged between America and Europe. The joint Western sanctions have crippled and isolated the Russian economy. Surely China is quaking in its boots at the thought of similar sanctions being imposed on it.

The above description of Western triumphalism may be an exaggeration, but not by much. There’s only one fundamental problem with a triumphalist mindset: it leads to sloppy geopolitical thinking. And just as the West wasted its post-Cold War “End of History” moment, it could do so again—unless it (especially the United States) recognizes that some hard geopolitical realities haven’t changed. Here are a few.

Can Ukraine win the war?

Lawrence Freedman

In my first piece after the start of the Russian’s war in Ukraine, I argued that Vladimir Putin had made a huge blunder and that Russia could not win. I reached this judgement partly because Moscow had apparently failed its immediate objectives, despite enjoying the advantage of surprise on 24 February. I was cautious about how the clash of arms would play out because I assumed the Russians would soon learn to adjust to Ukrainian tactics and capabilities. (By my second piece, which I wrote on 27 February, I was more impressed by Russian military incompetence and sought to explain why this would continue to affect its operational performance.)

I believed that Putin would fail because this enterprise was launched on the basis of a deluded view that Ukraine was a country lacking both a legitimate government and a national identity, and so would therefore crumble quickly. On that first day, he expected to take down the Ukrainian government and replace it with a puppet. Even if this plan had succeeded, the Ukrainians would probably have continued to fight against a Russian occupation. But we can imagine how, if the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky had been killed or abducted, the Russians would have instructed a compliant government to invite their forces in to remove “Nazi” usurpers in Kyiv – though the invitation would have been retrospective. This is what happened in December 1979 in Afghanistan: the Soviet Union removed one leader in Kabul and inserted another, who then requested the Russian military intervention that was already under way.

Americans’ preparedness to pay a price for supporting Ukraine remains robust

Shibley Telhami

In May, a University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll found a drop in the American public’s expressed preparedness to pay a price for supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia, compared to the levels expressed in March, on three dimensions: increased energy costs, rising inflation, and preparedness to pay a price in American lives. The latest edition of the Critical Issues Poll, which I lead with Professor Stella Rouse, finds that the drop in May has not become a trend — and in fact the expressed public preparedness to pay a price has increased slightly since May, though it remains lower than it was in March. The poll of 2,208 respondents was fielded by Nielsen-Scarborough June 22-28, with a margin of error of +/- 2.09%. The finding is especially notable given the increase in oil prices and rising inflation that Americans have endured since the start of the war — and should be music to President Joe Biden’s ears as his administration has invested heavily in backing Ukraine, strengthening and expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and confronting Russia. Here are four key findings from the latest poll:


Americans are still prepared to support Ukraine even if this means higher energy costs and increased inflation, with an uptick from May, but below the level of support expressed in March. In the June poll, 62% of respondents said they were prepared to endure higher energy costs, up from 59% in May but down from 73% in March. Similarly, 58% expressed preparedness for increased inflation, up from 52% in May but down from 65% in March. Americans’ preparedness for the loss of U.S. troops remains low at 32% but rose back to March levels after a dip in May.

Economy Is Already Collapsing, Majority of Americans Believe


More than half of Americans think the U.S. has already entered a recession, new polling shows.

The latest IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index published on Friday found that 53 percent of Americans think the economy has gone into a recession, and 25 percent say they're unsure. Only 20 percent believe the country is not in a recession.

Even amid uncertainty, concerns have dramatically risen over the last month. Back in May, less than half of Americans—48 percent—said the economy was in a downturn while 23 percent said the U.S. was not in a recession.

Quantum Sensors—Unlike Quantum Computers—Are Already Here


Much ink has been spilled about quantum computers, particularly in overblown claims that quantum cryptanalysis will someday shred today’s encryption techniques. But their simpler cousins—quantum sensors—are here now and improving at a rate that demands urgent attention.

Quantum sensors use the smallest amounts of energy and matter to detect and measure tiny changes in time, gravity, temperature, pressure, rotation, acceleration, frequency, and magnetic and electric fields. They’ve been commercially available in various forms for more than a half-century; think of a magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, machine, which tracks flips in the magnetic spin of individual hydrogen atoms to peer into a body. But recent progress in the field suggests that such sensors will soon bring a revolution in measurement and signals intelligence—possibly by making it far easier to detect submarines, spacecraft, and underground facilities.

China Takes Full Advantage of Taliban’s Isolation

Niva Yau

It’s been almost a year and the Taliban has managed to stay in power in Afghanistan. The country faces severe isolation from the West, but regional countries, especially China, have embraced the Taliban with open arms.

While busy getting the Taliban fully on-board regarding issues related to Xinjiang, Chinese official statements have been dropping many concerns that were previously raised. For starters, China has come to terms with the fact that no members of the former Afghan government will likely be part of the Taliban’s leadership in Afghanistan. Now, the Chinese side only suggests inclusivity in Afghanistan on the basis of ethnicity and political parties, given regional concern for long-term stability.

Beijing has also stopped making clear statements which asked the Taliban for a less radical Islamic policy in Afghanistan – an intrinsic problem in dealing with the Taliban Chinese scholars viewed as incompatible with Chinese policy on Xinjiang and the Uyghur issue. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to the Islamic Cooperation Organization summit in March 2022 and in mentioning Afghanistan said that the PRC “supports Islamic countries to use Islamic wisdom to solve current issues.”

Economic Crisis Forces Sri Lanka to Shed Fears and Move Closer to US, Middle East

P.K. Balachandran

Down to the dregs in forex holdings, critically short of fuel and cooking gas, and virtually abandoned by China, Sri Lanka is giving up its ingrained reservations about the United States and the Middle Eastern Islamic countries, and is seeking their help to tide over the multiple crises Colombo is facing now.

At the end of June, the Sri Lankan cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for implementing a program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) named “The Program for a Democratic, Prosperous Sri Lanka with the Ability to Survive Amidst Disasters.” This program, to be executed with a grant of $57 million, will concentrate on “productive democratic governance, growth based on a secure market, and strengthening the resources required to sustain pressure and stress.” The program will last until 2026.

Can the Taliban Actually Prevent Attacks Launched From Afghan Soil?

Catherine Putz

On July 6, the Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada said Afghan soil would not be used to launch attacks against other countries and urged other countries to not interfere with Afghanistan’s affairs. The comment came a day after reports of rockets, fired from Afghanistan, landing in the Uzbek city of Termez, illustrating the difficulty Afghanistan’s rulers will have in making good on that pledge.

“We assure our neighbors, the region and the world that we will not allow anyone to use our territory to threaten the security of other countries. We also want other countries not to interfere in our internal affairs,” Akhundzada said in an address ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday.

The China-Iran-Russia Triangle: Alternative World Order?

Mercy A. Kuo

The Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dr. Benjamin Tsai – senior associate at TD International (TDI) and former U.S. government intelligence analyst on Northeast Asia and the Middle East – is the 325th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

With Iran’s nuclear breakout timeline now at zero, analyze the view from Beijing and Moscow on Iran’s capability to produce nuclear weapons on short order.

China and Russia are still interested in reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, which will lift sanctions and lower tensions in the region. Beijing and Moscow have substantial economic ties with Tehran and stand to benefit from a normalization of trade. China and Russia are concerned about the destabilizing effects of a nuclear Iran and nuclear proliferation, so it is in both countries’ interests to have a deal with Iran. Furthermore, Russia and China need to balance their ties with Iran and their relationships with other Middle Eastern countries.

Deconstructing The New Clarion Call For Ghazwa-E-Hind Against India – Analysis

Balasubramaniyan Viswanathan

One of the most wanted terrorists in India, Farhatullah Ghori has released a series of videos to instigate terrorist attacks in the country. Interestingly, Ghori who is believed to be in Pakistan and was long forgotten by the Indian intelligence agencies, has suddenly come out of the hiding to start a new campaign, resurrecting the Ghazwa-e-Hind, and surprising everyone at a time when Pakistan is being closely watched for its actions on terrorist groups. What is significant is the timing of his resurrection, which coincides with events directly deciding the fate of Pakistan in the international arena. Equally important is the probable security threats which may occur in India as a fallout of these campaigns.
Ghazwa-e-Hind resurrected

“Make Hijrah for Allah, Hijrah to Assam, Hijrah to Kashmir” appeals a sermonic voice purportedly belonging to an individual named “Ustad” in a 1:45 video clip. “Ustad” is otherwise known by his nom de guerre Abu Sufiyan. He is also known by his real name, Farhatullah Ghori, among counter-terrorism experts in India. He is one of the most wanted terrorists with direct links to top leadership of Pakistan based terrorist group Lashkar E Toiba (LeT) and Harkat ul Jihadi al Islami (HUJI) in the 2000s. Considered to be one of the masterminds of the Aksardham Temple attack in Gujarat (2002) and a suicide attack on a Special Task Force camp at Hyderabad (2005), he has evaded arrest ever since. Indian authorities have been chasing this individual, an elusive ghost, despite a Red Corner Notice. Evidence suggests that Ghori was initially in Saudi Arabia but may have moved into Pakistan now.

European Command Group Trying To Get Ukrainians What They Need

Jim Garamone

No one doubts Ukraine’s courage in combatting the Russian invasion of their country, but courage alone can only go so far.

Ukrainian service members need effective military capabilities at the right moments to defend their people.

That is the mission of the International Donor Coordination Cell at U.S. European Command.

The cell coordinates the efforts of donor nations from around the world to get Ukraine the military capabilities it needs.

U.S. European Command hosts the cell, and it was cobbled together quickly, as the mismatched furniture and computer cables taped to the floor attest. In the early days of the Russian invasion, separate British and American teams were essentially doing the same mission. Officials combined the teams, and while British and American service members predominate, there are representatives from many countries in the secure facility. These include Ukrainian officers.

An Assessment On China’s Inflation Trend And Outlook – Analysis

Wei Hongxu

In the quarterly meeting of its monetary policy committee, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) repeatedly mentioned price stabilization in its policy statement. The trend of inflation in China is not only becoming a restrictive factor for monetary policy to support stable growth, but has also increasing impacted its economic recovery. This has also aroused worry in the market that with changes in the international situation, inflation will exceed the central bank’s 3% policy target, which could trigger passive adjustments in the policy or even hyperinflation in extreme cases.

Despite the spike in global inflation levels, inflation in China has remained relatively stable in recent years without significant fluctuations. Yet, as the international situation changes, what will happen to inflation in China? Will there be a situation of high inflation as in developed countries? As this is not only related to the process of economic recovery in the second half of the year, but also to the direction of future macro policy adjustments, it has been an issue of concern for the country’s policymakers.

Open Balkan: Future Belongs To The People – Analysis


The European Union’s treats Western Balkans states as a wicked stepmother. While this has not significantly changed even after the Russian invasion on Ukraine, it did triggered a fundamental debate on whether the EU wants at all to admit the remaining six Western Balkan countries (Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo) to full-fledged membership. If the EU would have an intent to admit the listed countries to its membership, the question to be asked is how it could do that. Namely, 19 years have passed since the adoption of the Thessaloniki agenda for the Western Balkans, which envisaged membership of the Western Balkan countries in the EU. Other than the promises about European perspective of the respective countries, nothing concrete has happened with respect to their membership in the EU.

In the meantime, the fact that Ukraine and Moldova were given candidate status just three months after they had submitted their membership application with the EU, caused major disappointment on their part. While North Macedonia and Albania are still waiting for the beginning of the talks with the EU due to the blockade imposed by Bulgaria, which is “taking it out on” North Macedonia by factually negating the existence of Macedonia as a state, its people, identity and language. In fact, the Bulgarian parliament adopted a new decision “unblocking” the start of talks between the EU and North Macedonia, which includes requirements that are unacceptable for North Macedonia. Bearing in mind its text, the decision of the Bulgarian Parliament, which is unacceptable for North Macedonia, factually imposes an even more specific blockade. Unfortunately, all this is happening under the “spotlights” and is greeted with applause by the EU. Bulgaria and North Macedonia should use the upcoming period to find a compromise agreement that would unblock the process of the commencement of talks with the EU in line with the solution proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

US must invest in emerging tech to keep pace with China, Govini report says

Catherine Buchaniec

WASHINGTON – The U.S. government must commit to “meaningful” spending on emerging technologies to keep up with China and other competing nations, according to a report from data analytics firm Govini.

The report, Govini’s National Security Scorecard: Critical Technologies Edition, said that the Russia-Ukraine conflict shows that the future of warfare lies with emerging technologies, such as autonomous and semi-autonomous drones and artificial intelligence.

“As a result, the United States’ intensifying techno-military confrontation with the People’s Republic of China will hinge not on which side can build the best weapons, but on who can best harness critical emerging technologies,” the report said.

Kennan Cable No. 78: War and Sovereignty: Lessons from Putin’s War for the South Caucasus

Heather DeHaan & Shalala Mammadova

Russia has presented its war on Ukraine as a peace enforcement mission dedicated to protecting Russian and Russian-speaking minorities from genocide in Ukraine. Its claims lack credibility, but they are nonetheless important for evaluating security risks to other post-Soviet republics, particularly the three South Caucasus republics. Both Georgia and Azerbaijan have witnessed Russian support for separatist movements in their territory, and Armenia’s tensions with Azerbaijan and Turkey—exacerbated by its claim to Azerbaijan’s Nagorno Karabakh—have rendered it dependent on Russia for its security. Russia’s war on Ukraine, and the conflicted and inconsistent nature of the responses by South Caucasus leaders, provides a stark reminder of how Russia exploits territorial conflict and aggrieved minorities to encroach on the sovereignty of neighboring states, with negative consequences for regional security and democracy building.


On February 22, 2022, just before the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed the Moscow Declaration, a 43-point agreement covering nearly all spheres of public life, including military cooperation. The agreement claimed to be founded upon “historical traditions of friendship and good neighborliness” and the “deep cultural and humanitarian ties” between the two countries and their peoples. Article 8 expressed Azerbaijan’s formal appreciation for Russia’s role in mediating the ceasefire in Nagorno Karabakh in November 2020.[1] Immediately after it was announced, pro-government media sources in Azerbaijan called it “an important stage in Russian-Azerbaijani relations” and “perfect diplomacy for securing national interest” and territorial integrity.[2]

Looking Past China’s Rise for the Trends Shaping Asia

Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has begun to more aggressively challenge America’s role as the key economic and political power in Asia. Increasingly repressive at home, Xi has not shied away from asserting China’s regional influence, positioning Beijing as the powerbroker on everything from trade routes to the ongoing efforts to denuclearize North Korea. And with its Belt and Road Initiative, China’s influence is spreading well beyond Asia, into much of Africa and even Europe. China’s ascendance is also evident in how much attention other global powers are paying to Beijing and its policies.

But while China’s rise often makes headlines, it is not the only trend shaping events in Asia. Illiberalism has become a force in democracies like India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ridden the wave of Hindu nationalism to successive electoral victories. And in the Philippines, former President Rodrigo Duterte’s six years in office have undermined the country’s democratic institutions and rule of law, with the prospects dim that his newly inaugurated successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., will be an improvement. Meanwhile, Myanmar’s already faltering process of democratization came to an abrupt end in February 2021, when the military seized power from the democratically elected government. The subsequent protests and the military’s violent crackdown in response have left the country teetering on the edge of civil war and failed state status.

Taliban Wage War Over Coal in Northern Afghanistan

Stefanie Glinski

YAKAWLANG, Afghanistan—Fighting has been ongoing in the remote Balkhab district of Afghanistan’s northern Sar-e-Pol province over the past several weeks, part of a showdown between a cash-strapped central government run by the Taliban and locals who are trying to keep their own cut of the district’s riches. At the heart of the dispute is a battle over coal mines, and who gets to profit from them, trapping local residents in the middle.

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last August, which subsequently resulted in international sanctions and the freezing of funds, the group has been in desperate need of money, and resources in Balkhab are providing just that. The district is home to five operational coal mines, according to Ministry of Mines and Petroleum spokesperson Mufti Esmatullah Burhan, as well as to one of the world’s largest copper reserves.

We Must Prevent a China-Style Panopticon

Erik S. Jaffe

Two recent stories show how in the People’s Republic of China a Panopticon – or total surveillance society in which people are always observed – is beginning to veer into science-fiction worthy of a Philip K. Dick novel. Earlier this week, The New York Times reported on its year-long deep dive into 100,000 documents connected to technology bids for China’s surveillance technology.

Among its findings, the Times reported that:

China has more than one-half of the world’s 1 billion surveillance cameras. Many facial recognition cameras now have sound recorders able to catch conversations within a 300-foot radius.

These cameras, long in use in retail, restaurant and traveling spaces, are beginning to invade private spaces like hotels, lounges, and residential buildings.

America’s New Realism in the Middle East

F. Gregory Gause 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcoming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin U.S. President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia has unleashed a gusher of chatter in the American foreign policy community. Some reactions, including from influential Democratic politicians, have been unreservedly negative. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff said, “Until Saudi Arabia makes a radical change in terms of human rights, I wouldn’t want anything to do with him,” referring to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS. But defenders of Biden’s decision to visit argue that U.S. interests and the realities of power in the Middle East require a strategic relationship with the Saudis, despite their poor record on human rights and democracy.

This level of disagreement and controversy is striking and unusual because American presidents have been meeting with Saudi leaders regularly since the 1970s—and on occasion before that. But the Biden administration had signaled, in no uncertain terms, that it would treat Saudi Arabia differently than did previous administrations. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden said he would make the Saudis “pay the price” for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 and the Saudi participation in the war in Yemen and would treat them as “the pariah that they are.” Once in office, Biden authorized the release of a U.S. intelligence report holding that MBS was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder by Saudi operatives in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Biden refused to deal directly with the crown prince and took policy steps that aggravated the Saudis, including lifting the official designation of the Houthis (the Saudis’ opponents in Yemen) as terrorists, removing U.S. air defense batteries from Saudi Arabia, and restarting nuclear talks with Iran. So the upcoming visit to Riyadh represents a reversal—and a climb-down for a president who is facing an increasing number of political problems at home.

Drone Explosion: Can AI Systems Deconflict the Drone Airspace?

Kris Osborn

In response to the explosion of commercial drones, the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), the U.S. Military, and major defense industry players are trying to establish basic organizational parameters related to airspace deconfliction. The proliferation of unmanned systems of all sizes has caused chaos, leading authorities to look for ways to allow appropriate drone use and deconflict an increasingly crowded airspace.

Raytheon, for instance, is developing an artificial intelligence (AI) cloud-technology system that uses advanced radar to enable an “end-to-end” system for deconflicting the airspace and securing low-altitude drone flight. The technology uses Active Electronically Scanned Array radar to identify potential risks, which it then analyzes in a central AI-enabled processing location.

An AI-enabled system, for instance, could gather massive streams of data from disparate sources, bounce them off a vast database to organize information, perform analytics, and offer solutions. AI can also analyze variables such as weather, navigation, or sensor fidelity and range in relation to one another, allowing the system to offer optimal “recommendations” to human controllers.

Is Turkey on the Brink of a New Syrian Military Operation?

Mehmet Emin Cengiz

At a time when the international community is largely preoccupied with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Turkey is once again bringing to the fore the likelihood of a military assault on northeastern Syria. The possibility of the long-spoken operation that would target the People’s Protection Units’ (YPG) presence has recently become an even more likely scenario following the Turkish National Security Council’s statement that was released on May 26. In parallel, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been reiterating Ankara’s aim to clear Tel Rif’at and Manbij, two areas located on the western bank of the Euphrates River, from the YPG’s hold which has been deemed as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) Syrian offshoot by Ankara. If carried out, this will be the third military operation directly targeting the group. It is also worth noting that the possible military operation into northern Syria is closely related to the ongoing Turkish military assaults against the PKK in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

As a matter of fact, Ankara has long been conceiving of the military operations against the PKK presence in northeastern Syria and the KRI as two different theatres of the same struggle. Indeed, it is no coincidence that Turkey’s insistence on a military incursion into northeastern Syria makes headlines a short while after the initiation of the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TAF) operation in the KRI. The TAF has been conducting a military assault against the PKK presence in the KRI since mid-April.

War of Attrition: Battle for Donbas Strains Ukrainian Military Resources

Caleb Larson

Though the Ukrainians scored multiple wins in the first days of the conflict against a larger, better trained, well-equipped adversary, these early successes have been proven difficult to replicate in the eastern Donbass region.

The Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan think tank that prepares reports for the United States Congress, recently released a paper summarizing the current state of play on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The paper outlined the personnel and equipment situation, explained the effect that Western military aid has had, and provided a prediction of the war’s future course.


“Since 2014, the UAF has gained important combat experience fighting Russian-led forces in the Eastern Ukraine regions of the Donbas, which has led to a large proportion of trained, experienced veterans among Ukraine’s population,” the report explained.

Analyst: Only One Thing Will Send Gas Prices Back Below $4

Ethen Kim Lieser

From the record high of $5.016 per gallon registered last month, the nation’s gas prices have been on a steady decline, now sitting at $4.779 per gallon on Wednesday, according to AAA data.

This positive news for American consumers comes as West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures dipped below $100 per barrel. If the current price action continues to stay favorable, even more relief at the pump on the way.

Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, who had called for gas prices to drop $0.10 to $0.20 by the Fourth of July, is now contending on Twitter that he sees a “potential decline of 40-65 cents per gallon in the weeks ahead” should oil prices remain lower.

However, not all industry experts are as optimistic. One analyst has come out stating that serious gas price relief won’t happen anytime soon unless motorists make adjustments by driving less.

G-7 versus BRICS

Antonia Colibasanu

The G-7

The Group of Seven consists of the world’s wealthiest democracies – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – plus the European Union. Since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, these countries have coordinated to support Kyiv in various ways while launching an economic war against the Kremlin. However, sanctions and Russian countermeasures have helped to drive up energy prices, exacerbating already high inflation and creating serious social and economic risks in much of Europe, which depends heavily on Russian energy. The war has also severely hampered Ukrainian grain production and exports, while high energy and fertilizer prices affect production elsewhere. The scale of these crises calls for high-level, coordinated solutions. The G-7 hopes to mitigate the economic pain on everyone except Russia while turning up the pressure on Moscow to end the war.


Ryan Brobst, John Hardie, and Bradley Bowman

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has evolved into a war of attrition, with both sides taking heavy casualties in what is becoming a protracted conflict. Ukrainian forces find themselves out-gunned in a pitched artillery duel in the country’s east and south, which has allowed Russian forces to creep forward as they seek to conquer the rest of Ukraine’s Donbas region. To stem Russia’s advances and potentially enable a counteroffensive to retake Ukrainian territory in the coming months, Kyiv will need sustained military aid from the West, particularly artillery and other heavy weaponry.

While Western systems such as HIMARS rocket artillery are arriving on the battlefield, the Ukrainian military still predominantly operates Soviet-made artillery and armored vehicles and remains overwhelmingly dependent on Soviet-made manned aircraft and air defenses (beyond MANPADS). Kyiv is warning that its forces are now running out of Soviet-standard artillery munitions, which Ukrainian industry is currently unable to supply. At the same time, NATO members have reportedly almost exhausted their own expendable stocks of Soviet-standard ammunition used by the Ukrainian military. While Washington and its allies should continue working to transition Ukraine to NATO-standard equipment, this transition will take time given logistical and training hurdles and the large number of legacy systems that require replacement. Ukraine’s need to equip additional brigades of mobilized personnel compounds this challenge. Thus the Ukrainian military will likely remain at least partially dependent on Soviet-standard equipment for the foreseeable future.

The Chinese Communist Party’s overseas influence operations seek to alter the Xinjiang narrative

Lin Li and James Leibold

Over the last decade the free world has watched the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with growing alarm. Its use of mass extrajudicial interment, intrusive surveillance and coercive brainwashing has fundamentally altered the human and physical geography of the region and its indigenous Uyghur population. Yet the complex ways in which the Chinese Communist Party is exporting this repression abroad have received less attention.

Our new report, Cultivating friendly forces: The Chinese Communist Party’s influence operations in the Xinjiang diaspora, exposes how the CCP is actively monitoring Uyghurs living abroad, creating databases of actionable intelligence and mobilising community organisations in the diaspora to counter international criticism of its policies in Xinjiang while promoting its own interests abroad.

Persistent Engagement in Cyberspace Is a Strategic Imperative

Michael P. Fischerkeller Emily O. Goldman Richard J. Harknett

The United States could lose its relative position of power in the world today without being defeated in an armed conflict. This is because cyberspace has opened a new avenue for international competition that coexists alongside the more familiar nuclear and conventional strategic environments where states interact in militarized crises and war. Competition in and through cyberspace, short of the threat or use of force, is potentially just as strategically consequential for a state’s relative position in the international system as war and militarized crises have been throughout history.

The strategic logic that drives cyberspace campaigns, operations, and activities, however, is distinct from that associated with militarized crises and armed conflict. It calls for operating continuously in cyberspace, seizing opportunities to advance national interests through competition, and setting favorable conditions for responding to potential crises or conflicts. The logic of strategic competition in cyberspace rests on anticipating the exploitation of one’s own vulnerabilities while leveraging the capacity to exploit others’. Because of the fluidity of digital technology, security rests on seizing and sustaining the initiative in this exploitation dynamic. If a state can sustain the cyber initiative, it becomes possible to achieve strategic success either by inhibiting an adversary’s gains or achieving such gains.

Weaponizing Hacktivists Seems a Logical Progression for Russia

Emilio Iasiello

The Ukraine conflict has garnered substantial cyber activity drawing in not only the state cyber assets of both Russia and Ukraine, but sympathizers, volunteers, and non-state hacktivist actors supporting both sides. While much focus has scrutinized what Moscow could and could not do with respect to conducting brutal cyber offensives during the conflict, Russian hacktivists have coalesced and been launching campaigns that have caused temporary impacts against their targets. Admittedly, most of these attacks have had limited value; whether via web page defacement or DDoS, victims have been able to quickly recover without suffering longstanding damage. Still, a hacktivist force potentially poses a viable threat depending on the skills and capabilities of the actors involved and is one that can be utilized as another tool in a state’s arsenal if organized and deployed effectively. Moscow has two such groups at its disposal that if harnessed correctly, could be a thorn in the side of pro-Ukraine defenders, causing them to direct resources to mitigate their threat.

In late June 2022, the large pro-Russian hacktivist collective “Killnet” targeted several Lithuanian public and private entities as well as targets in Norway via distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The former was in direct response to Lithuania’s decision to block the transit of goods sanctioned by the European Union within the Russian exclave of Kalingrad, a move Moscow deemed aggressive. Killnet is a fairly recent incarnation, formed in January 2022 and consisting of primarily pro-Russian hackers. The group has since gained notoriety for its support of Moscow since the onset of the Ukrainian conflict. Per a Killnet spokesperson, the group had “demolished” 1,652 adversarial Web resources, and with respect to Lithuania, pledged to continue until Lithuania lifted the blockade. The DDoS attacks successfully temporarily impacted transportation agencies and financial institutions, and notably disrupted access to servers of users of the secure data network, according to Lithuania’s National Cyber Security Center (NKSC).

Is Putin Closer to Declaring Victory in Ukraine?


Russia's grinding and bloody capture of Ukraine's Luhansk Oblast puts President Vladimir Putin closer to one of the Kremlin's stated war goals: the "liberation" of the entire eastern Donbas region, comprising Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.

Putin officially recognized the two Russian-backed, self-declared "people's republics" in the region days before he launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The breakaway states claim sovereignty over all of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The capture of Luhansk puts Putin closer to some form of victory in Ukraine, though Russian forces will have to contend with counterattacks, long-range bombardment, and covert operations; while on the southern front, Ukrainian units close in on Kherson city.

Climate Change Isn’t a Threat Multiplier. It’s the Main Threat.


Why hasn’t humanity responded to climate change—currently on track to produce global catastrophe—with the same intensity in which we respond to military threats? And is there a way to reorient the defense sector to enable and support a whole-of-society effort to protect our planet’s ability to support life as we know it?

One barrier is the way we think. Research finds that humanity’s “deep frames”—worldviews wired into our neural circuity over a lifetime, and which influence perception and decision-making at the sub-conscious level—hinder our capacity to understand new kinds of threats. These frames, often reinforced by those they benefit, influence security posture and institutional design.

This helps explain why the climate crisis is generally approached as a scientific, economic, and governance issue. IPCC reports employ social scientists, not security practitioners, to tease out climate-security issues. Legitimate concerns about securitization help ensure that climate response remains a strictly civil matter.