19 August 2022

A Bold and Realistic Energy Transition


ABU DHABI – Record growth in renewables, representing over 80% of all new power-generating capacity last year, is the clearest sign yet that the energy transition is gathering pace. But recent events have shown that unplugging the current energy system before we have built a sufficiently robust alternative puts both economic and climate progress at risk – and calls into question whether we can ensure a just transition that is equitable to all.

A successful energy transition must be built on progress for the economy and the climate together. It must be based on scientific, economic, and engineering facts, appreciate the multiple dilemmas and challenging trade-offs, and accelerate the deployment of practical solutions. And for that, we need an inclusive approach that leverages the experience of all sectors of society and, critically, does not exclude the energy sector.

More than $7B in US military equipment seized by Taliban: Pentagon watchdog

Mark Moore

More than $7 billion worth of US-provided military equipment was in the hands of the Western-backed Afghan government when it collapsed last year — and much of it fell into the hands of the Taliban after the Biden bugout, the Defense Department’s inspector general said in a report released Tuesday.

The bulk of the outlay, the watchdog said, was for tactical ground vehicles like Humvees and mine-resistant MRAPs — about $4.12 billion of which was in the Afghan military’s inventory when the Taliban swept into Kabul on Aug. 15, 2021.

The report also noted that the lost materiel included $923.3 million worth of military aircraft, “some of which were demilitarized and rendered inoperable during the evacuation,” and $294.6 million in aircraft munitions.

India's weak-kneed response to Beijing's bullying sets a bad example for neighbours

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch (retd) 

During a ceremony for the unveiling of the statue of Marwari warrior Veer Durgadas Rathore at Jodhpur on August 13, 2022, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India did not let China enter its territory and appealed to political parties not to politicize issues related to the country’s security. Whatever the comments and beliefs, India did not let anybody trespass on its territory, he added.

This is not the first time Rajnath Singh has said so. His famous cliché of "not even one inch of territory lost" with reference to the Chinese intrusions in Eastern Ladakh during 2020 has been the butt of jokes for some time. Such an attitude is hardly politicizing security issues when national security itself has been turned into a joke. Morality and shame are not in the lexicon of politicians globally but on the eve of the 75th Anniversary of India’s Independence Day, repeating the same dud joke would be ‘amrit’ (nectar) to China.

There is a view in circulation that the Indian armed forces have bartered away territory in Eastern Ladakh to China in exchange for Beijing not initiating conflict. Nothing can be more absurd. The Indian military follows what the government dictates. At the same time, decisions taken by the government, including those pertaining to national security, are in the backdrop of the bureaucracy retaining the principal position.

New GOP Report: Biden Misled Public on Afghanistan

Susan Crabtree

The frantic and deadly U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan was so disorganized that 1,450 children were evacuated without their parents, and senior leaders in Vice President Kamala Harris’ and first lady Jill Biden’s offices, as well as one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked private veteran groups for assistance evacuating certain people from the country.

In the waning days of the evacuation, more than 1,000 women and girls waited more than 24 hours on dozens of buses, desperately circling the Kabul airport and trying to avoid Taliban checkpoints. Many of them were told multiple times they were not allowed to enter the airport. Now, nearly a year since the Taliban took control of the country, fewer than one-third of them have managed to flee the country.

These are just some of the findings in a new report by Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee one year after the Taliban swept into the Afghan capital of Kabul, almost instantly rolling back more than two decades of U.S. and NATO military support and nation-building efforts.

Artificial Intelligence Safety and Stability

Nations around the world are investing in artificial intelligence (AI) to improve their military, intelligence, and other national security capabilities. Yet AI technology, at present, has significant safety and security vulnerabilities. AI systems could fail, potentially in unexpected ways, due to a variety of causes. Moreover, the interactive nature of military competition means that one nation’s actions affect others, including in ways that may be detrimental to mutual stability. There is an urgent need to explore actions that can mitigate these risks, such as improved processes for AI assurance, norms and best practices for responsible AI adoption, and confidence-building measures that improve stability among all nations.

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Artificial Intelligence Safety and Stability project aims to better understand AI risks and specific steps that can be taken to improve AI safety and stability in national security applications. Major lines of effort include:

Do the Taliban Want Afghanistan to Fail?

Obaidullah Baheer

On August 15, 2021, the United States lost its twenty-year war to Taliban fighters that rode into Kabul on motorcycles wearing sandals. Patience helped the Taliban win the war, and patience coupled with creative thinking will be the key to any engagement effort with the Taliban moving forward. The past year has been one of the most difficult years for Afghanistan. It is worth looking at what happened throughout the year and drawing conclusions about how the United States and other international actors should decide how to approach Afghanistan and its new rulers.

An honest review of the past year of Taliban rule reveals that they have failed more often than they have succeeded. The Taliban closed girls’ high schools and made students miss almost two years of their academic careers. They have established a Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice that has conducted problematic moral policing that has shrunk the public space for women. The state has conducted human rights violations in the form of a crackdown on the media, abducting dissidents, rendition, and extrajudicial killings. The Taliban hosted Al Qaeda and its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri despite its commitment not to do so. Lastly, the continuing humanitarian crisis, though not directly a result of Taliban policies, has been further exacerbated by the Taliban’s constant self-sabotage and the dim prospect of international sanctions being removed.

There Is No Alternative to the Afghan Taliban

Cathal Ó Gabhann

One year after the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate is in full control of the country, despite some minor pockets of resistance in a few northern provinces. Nothing remotely comparable to the 1990s anti-Taliban Northern Alliance exists. The economy is in tatters, the humanitarian situation is a disaster, the issue of girls’ secondary schooling is unresolved, and there is neither an inclusive government nor any semblance of democracy.

It is unclear if the Biden administration has formed a coherent policy toward Afghanistan. So far, its only concrete decision seems to have been not to recognize the Islamic Emirate, followed by semi-backtracking over the seizure of Afghan national assets held in the United States. It goes without saying that it is in the interests of the United States to ensure that Afghanistan does not deteriorate as it did in the 1990s, sliding back into an environment conducive to sanctuaries for terrorist groups. This may be regarded as the baseline for U.S. policy toward the country, without which the past two decades of war will truly have been for nothing. No one wants to see another 9/11.

Economic Indicators of Chinese Military Action against Taiwan

Gerard DiPippo

China’s recent military exercises around Taiwan in response to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip have raised concerns about Beijing’s intentions regarding cross-strait relations. Even before what some call the fourth Taiwan Strait crisis, some U.S. policymakers were worried that Chinese leaders were intending to use military force against Taiwan, perhaps within the next year and a half. What one believes about China's plans and intentions regarding Taiwan shapes how one interprets recent events. As this recent CSIS piece points out, the analytic divide is between two basic views. One group believes that China has a firm plan to "reunify" with Taiwan and is looking for the opportunity to do so. The other group believes that Chinese leaders do not intend to gamble their legitimacy by attacking Taiwan absent a severe provocation.

Could economic indicators help clarify Chinese leaders’ intentions regarding Taiwan? China would make economic preparations—especially to protect its economy from external vulnerabilities—if Beijing thought conflict over Taiwan was likely, but such preparations would vary with Chinese leaders’ expected timeframe. Therefore, analysts should separate the question between medium- or long-term indicators (years) and short-term or immediate indicators (months, weeks, or days).

Can Putin Really Fight A Two-Front War In Ukraine?

Stavros Atlamazoglou

On day 172 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military is struggling with a strategic conundrum in Ukraine: attack in the Donbas or defend in the South?

South or Donbas?

Russian forces are trying to conduct operations on two fronts at the same time, according to the daily estimate of the British Ministry of Defense. However, the two efforts rely on two different sources of troops, and are thus likely to have dissimilar effectiveness.

In the Donbas, or at least some parts of it, the Russian offensive operations are relying on Russian-backed separatist forces that are trying to reach Bakhmut from Donetsk City. In other parts of the Donbas, the Russian military or the mercenaries of the infamous Wagner Group are taking the lead in operations.

Putin is winning the war for energy

Javier Blas

No matter what indicator you use, Russian President Vladimir Putin is winning in the energy markets.

Moscow is milking its oil cash cow, earning hundreds of millions of US dollars every day to bankroll the invasion of Ukraine and buy domestic support for the war.

Once European sanctions against Russian crude exports kick in from November, the region’s governments will face some tough choices as the energy crisis starts to bite consumers and companies.

Electricity costs for homes and businesses are set to soar from October, as the surge in oil income allows Putin to sacrifice gas revenue and squeeze supplies to Europe.

UK prices are likely to jump by 75 percent, while in Germany some municipal utilities have already warned prices would increase in excess of 100 percent.

Does Russia Have A Secret Tactic To Counter HIMARS Strikes?

Jack Buckby

HIMARS in Trouble? According to Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov, Russia looks to be utilizing a new tactic to counter Ukraine’s growing inventory of U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). The long-range rocket systems, first supplied by the United States in June, have allowed the Ukrainian military to destroy several Russian ammunition depots and dramatically changed the dynamics of the war in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking to Sky News in an interview published last week, Danilov described Russia’s new tactic for handling the highly effective rocket systems as amounting to “dispersion.”

“They now do less ammo stacking, etc, but it does not help them,” Danilov told Sky News.

During the interview, Danilov stressed the importance of the West’s continued supply of these weapons to Ukraine and described the “great success” the Ukrainian military has seen while using them.

China and Russia’s Strategic Problem

George Friedman

The war in Ukraine, now about 6 months old, is strategically important for a variety of reasons. If Russia defeats Ukraine and takes control of the country, its forces will be on the border of Eastern Europe. A Russian presence on Europe’s border would transform the balance of power in the Atlantic, and would thus inevitably compel the U.S. to deploy forces in Europe’s defense.

What Russia’s intentions were at the outset of the invasion matters little. Intentions change, and strategy must not be optimistic. So what is at stake in the Ukrainian war is the possible resurrection of the Cold War, with all the attendant risks. From the American point of view, engaging Russia through Ukrainian troops in Ukraine is far less risky than another Cold War.

The Cold War did not result in a full-scale war, only the fear of war. Western fears of Soviet intentions outstripped Soviet capabilities. Their fear, in turn, kept NATO together, much to the chagrin of the leaders in Moscow. Neither of their worst fears came to pass, and therefore the collapse of the Soviet Union had more to do with internal rot than external threat. It is not clear that any future Cold War would play out like the last one, but one thing is likely: Given the existence of nuclear weapons, the front line of a new Cold War would remain static, and the status quo on each side would remain intact so long as neither side fragmented. It would be a costly and dangerous outcome, since history need not repeat itself. But the collapse of Ukraine would pose threats that could be contained, however expensively and dangerously. The global pattern would remain intact.

Russia’s Repeat Failures Moscow’s New Strategy in Ukraine Is Just as Bad as the Old One

Dara Massicot

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Kremlin inadvertently put its military forces in an unsustainable position, ordering them to take on more operations than they could bear. It had nearly all its soldiers surge simultaneously and rapidly into Ukraine to fight along multiple fronts. It did so without taking necessary protective measures, such as clearing routes of explosives. It had its forces advance at an unsustainable pace. As a result, Russian troops were vulnerable to ambushes, counterattacks, and severe logistical problems that cost the military enormous numbers of soldiers and equipment.

That initial error was caused by the Kremlin’s prewar delusions. Moscow was overconfident in its intelligence, in the ability of its agents to influence events and politics inside Ukraine, and in its own armed forces. It underestimated Ukraine’s capabilities and will to fight. And it failed to account for a massive expansion of Western support to Kyiv.


Michael Hugos, Edward Salo, Ryan Kuhns and Ben Hazen

As evidenced in real-time by the current Russo-Ukrainian war, government leaders and military planners often miscalculate or underestimate the impact of logistics on a campaign’s success or failure. Logistics is its own dimension of warfare, and modern warfare depends on agile and adaptive supply chains to connect the defense industrial base to the warfighter. The volume and mass of supplies required to support agile, combined arms operations is significant. The Russo-Ukrainian conflict provides a compelling case study for testing, modifying, and building new strategies and doctrines in the area of contested logistics. Contested logistics has been defined as “an environment in which the armed forces engage in conflict with an adversary that presents challenges in all domains and directly targets logistics operations, facilities, and activities” both at home site or in transit to the war zone. Working with the 2022 cohort of students from the Advanced Studies of Air Mobility program at the Air Force Institute of Technology as part of a course on strategic mobility, we modeled and simulated four hypothetical Russian military scenarios and their logistics requirements. The results obtained can be used to inform current and future contested logistics strategies.

Not Just Taiwan: India Could Be China’s Next Target

Sarosh Bana

China’s fulminations against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan are being choreographed as military activism that won’t culminate in any full-blown conflict with the U.S.-led Western powers.

But it is not just Taiwan that needs to worry. India should be increasingly wary of China under these circumstances. Beijing is likely to manifest its retaliation by further cudgeling the neighbor that it considers a soft target rather than provoke a clash with the West by invading Taiwan.

During special military-level bilateral talks on August 6, just days after Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, Indian delegates raised objections over Chinese violations of Indian airspace and confidence-building measures near the disputed 3,488-kilometer Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Himalayan frontier that divides the two nuclear-armed Asian powers.

Troops, Noodles and Familial Love: China Lays Out Its Ideal Taiwan

Vivian Wang

BEIJING — As tensions in the Taiwan Strait reached their highest level in decades, China held the world rapt with a show of military might, deploying its largest-ever military exercises to intimidate Taiwan and its supporters. But the message that China has sought to convey involves far more than warships and fighter jets.

Alongside its flashy display of raw power, China has been laying out its most forceful vision — political, economic, cultural — of a future unified with Taiwan.

Under that vision, guided by China’s leader, Xi Jinping, not only would the Chinese navy navigate at will through the Taiwan Strait, but mainland troops could also be stationed on the island, to enforce a system of political subordination similar to that in Hong Kong. The Taiwanese people would prevent shadowy foreign powers from using the island to weaken Beijing. And they would set aside the separate identity that has emerged on the island by recognizing their cultural roots.

This envisioned future has been laid out in recent weeks through a combination of the military drills, a new policy paper, propaganda and social media campaigns. Seizing on a visit to Taiwan by the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, earlier this month, followed by another congressional delegation on Monday, China has accused the United States of stepping up its efforts to divide China and said it needs to reiterate its own position.

Despite Growth, Inflation Surges in Iran Under Raisi

Saeed Ghasseminejad

This month marks the first anniversary of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s assumption of power, but he has failed to fulfill one of his key campaign pledges: to relieve Iran’s economic plight. Over the past year, Iran’s economy did grow faster and increase export revenue, yet this has primarily benefited the regime, failing to generate jobs, lower inflation, or raise the quality of life for ordinary Iranians.

In the Persian calendar year 1400 (March 2021 to March 2022), Iran’s economy grew by 4.3 percent, much higher than the previous year’s 1 percent growth. The latest data from the Central Bank of Iran show the bank’s net foreign assets in July were $130 billion, $16 billion more than a year earlier.

Tehran’s minister of petroleum, Javad Owji, said in late July that Iran has produced 27 percent more oil over the past year — up from 3 million barrels per day to 3.8 million — than it did when the Rouhani administration left office in August 2021. Iran, he added, now exports 40 percent more oil and 25 percent more gas. The change is mainly driven by higher prices and the Biden administration’s lax enforcement of sanctions during nuclear negotiations.

What Qatar Owes Afghanistan’s Refugees

Jonathan Schanzer and Bill Roggio

A year after the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the refugee crisis is only worsening. By the end of last year, 3.5 million people had been displaced within Afghanistan’s borders, and more than two million had fled the country, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Washington bears significant responsibility for this, and it should do more to help.

But so should another American ally: Qatar. The tiny desert kingdom played a key role in facilitating the Taliban’s conquest of Afghanistan last year. In the early 2010s, senior Taliban leaders, with the support of the Qatari government, moved to the country’s capital, Doha, to establish an office to conduct talks with the Obama administration. Qatar’s acceptance of the Taliban was hardly a shock. The country has served as a haven for members of many extremists groups, including Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al Qaeda affiliate groups. This makes Qatar a de facto state sponsor of terrorism, but also affords it significant geopolitical power. A country smaller in area than Connecticut with fewer than 300,000 citizens, Qatar has a seat at the negotiating table in multiple Middle Eastern conflicts.

A victorious Taliban is inspiring a new generation of Islamic extremists

Jonathan Schanzer

On May 15, 1989, the Soviet army withdrew from Afghanistan. The Soviets, who had been slugging it out for 10 years with Islamist fighters, finally threw in the towel. The withdrawal was immediately hailed as a significant victory by Afghanistan’s mujahideen.

The impact of the Soviet withdrawal was immediate. The Taliban soon emerged from the chaos of Afghanistan, forging an Islamist state. The nation became a safe haven for a number of extremist groups, include one forged by a mujahideen fighter named Osama bin Laden.

A Red Army of Private Ryans: What Wargaming Says about Chinese Willingness to Strike First and Stay Long

Major Jesse R. Humpal Ph.D.

A recent strategic wargame that pitted the People’s Republic of China against a U.S. backed Taiwan, resulted in the trading of intercontinental ballistic missiles, a 25-percent drop in the global economy, 10s of thousands of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Americans dead…and a protracted guerilla conflict on the small island. During the adjudication, leaders from both sides–who were played by some of U.S.’s most prominent academics, military leaders, politicians, and statesmen (they were all men)–concluded that their side behaved with restraint while the other acted as provocateur. Absent from their rationale, was an acknowledgment that in global conflict seeking manifest destiny, if just one of the sides actually acted with restraint, they would be steamrolled.

The resulting stalemate should act as a prophetic reminder that wars are not meant to be just, wars are meant to be won divisively. Countries owe it to their populations not to enter into fair fights. When countries enter into global combat with anything other than total victory as their intent, the conflict is already lost. Scholars have argued for a more humane way of fighting wars. Often with the caveat that if the survival of one’s own nation state is at risk, then the rules of just war can be abandoned. Comparable in nature retaliatory strikes or messaging before firing missiles does not make wars less deadly, they make wars protracted and unwinnable.

Recounting the U.S. Failure in Afghanistan

Haley Byrd Wilt

Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee will release a report today on the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, outlining poor planning and its sweeping ramifications for the people of Afghanistan and for American strategic security.

Frustration over unheeded warnings—and a lack of accountability for top officials in the aftermath—underpin the report. A copy obtained by The Dispatch in advance of publication also unveils new information about the withdrawal.

Far more American citizens were left in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control than the 100 to 200 citizens the White House earlier estimated were still in the country, according to the report. The State Department confirmed it has evacuated more than 800 Americans from Afghanistan since the end of August 2021.

U.S. And India To Hold Military Drills Close To Tense Border With China


An upcoming iteration of a longstanding series of military drills held in partnership with U.S. and Indian armies will take place near a hotly disputed area of the Chinese-Indian border. The exercises will also occur at a time when relations between the United States and China are at a low point following Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) high-profile trip to Taiwan in the first week of August.

Also known as ‘Yudh Abhyas’, or ‘War Practice’ in English, this year’s bilateral exercise is the 18th to occur since it first began in 2002. It will be carried out in the Indian state of Uttarakhand in the Himalayan mountain range at an altitude of over 9,000 feet near the city of Auli. Its geographical disposition makes the locale ideal for the joint high-altitude, cold-climate warfare training exercises that Overt Defense first confirmed would be conducted from October 18-31. Overt Defense also spoke with Maj. Jonathon M. Lewis of U.S. Army Pacific Public Affairs who offered additional details in terms of what’s to be expected.

State Department spokesman: US ‘in a stronger position as a country’ because of Afghanistan withdrawal

Lindsay Kornick , Alexa Moutevelis

State Department spokesperson Ned Price claimed on Monday that the U.S. is "in a stronger position as a country" today because of President Biden’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan one year ago.

Many have considered the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan to be a disaster after the nation’s capital quickly fell to the Taliban despite Biden's reassurance, and thousands of American citizens and allies were left stranded or scrambling to safely get out of the country. Still, Price continued to claim the effort was a success in a press conference.

"Many of us here at the Department and across the government, and millions of Americans and Afghans alike, are mindful of today’s meaning as the 20-year-long U.S. military mission in Afghanistan ended nearly one year ago," Price said.

Surprise, kill, vanish: ‘Jedburghs’ led way for US cyber, special ops

Nicholas Dockery and Margaret Smith

Without any further instructions, the messages attracted a mix of individuals some of the the most creative and dangerous missions of WWII. Known as the Jedburghs, the small special purpose teams were a WWII phenomenon born out of the British Army and Sir Winston Churchill’s affinity for “ungentlemanly warfare.”

The multi-national teams were trained in irregular warfare, maintained extensive foreign language skills, and excelled at subterfuge, sabotage and surveillance. Jedburghs were sent deep into Nazi-held territory to disrupt the German war effort by waging unconventional warfare. As a concept, they provide an example of how an unconventional take on cross-functional partnerships can affect a war zone and operate effectively in politically sensitive environments.

The Jedburgh legacy lives on within 1st Special Forces Command who recently revamped the concept as four-person operational detachments. Today’s Jedburgh program should serve as the model for a new type of multi-domain collaboration: the pairing of the Cyber Mission Force and Special Operations Forces, or the integration of lethal and non-lethal assets, to tackle some of the most vexing challenges associated with strategic competition.

China Declares Afghanistan Withdrawal ‘Failure’ of U.S. Hegemony

Trevor Filseth

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin claimed on Monday that the fall of the U.S.-backed government of Afghanistan one year ago—and the subsequent haphazard U.S. evacuation from Kabul’s airport, which concluded with the departure of the final U.S. soldier on August 31—represented an era-defining failure for American hegemony and its foreign democracy promotion project, but insisted that policymakers in Washington had not learned from it.

When noting the anniversary, Wang claimed that the evacuation from Kabul had become a “byword for the U.S. debacle in Afghanistan,” arguing that it “mark[ed] the failure of the ‘democratic transformation’ imposed by the United States.”

“The path to democracy varies from country to country, and will not work if it is imposed from the outside,” the spokesman said, echoing a common Chinese talking point against U.S. foreign intervention and democracy promotion around the world. “Forcing…U.S.-style democracy on a country has invariably led to dysfunction and failure of its implementation.”

How India and Pakistan See the Taliban’s Afghanistan

Stuti Bhatnagar Zahid Shahab Ahmed

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 came as a surprise to many. At the regional level, it raised concerns about Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan and its continuing relationship with the Taliban. Pakistan’s use of Afghanistan as a proxy to maintain its influence has been of particular interest to India, which worked very closely with the erstwhile governments in Afghanistan from 2002 until 2021 and closed its diplomatic missions after the Taliban’s takeover. Now that the Taliban has completed its first year of rule, it is important to explore how India and Pakistan have engaged with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan under Taliban 2.0.

When the Taliban first ruled the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan during 1996-2001, Pakistan was among the only three countries that formally recognized the government. It is no surprise then, that it remains important owing to its influence on the Taliban. Following the 9/11 attacks and the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, Pakistan sided with the United States in the “War on Terror,” through military operations against Taliban leaders in Pakistan. The relationship, however, was restored quickly with active cooperation between Islamabad and the Taliban. Pakistan became a key ally in the Taliban’s political restoration by backing peace processes led by the United States, China, and Russia and hosting Taliban leaders and facilitating several peace dialogues involving stakeholders from Afghanistan and other regional and international actors.

The Defense Impact of the Ukraine War on the Visegrád Four

Matej Kandrík

When it comes to their defense sectors, the Visegrád Four are now confronted with the consequences of long-term problems such as the downsizing of their armed forces, general neglect, underinvestment, corruption-ridden acquisitions, and the ever-changing priorities of modernization programs.

Under the pressure of the war, the Visegrád Four will over the coming months tackle their defense shortcomings with the utmost seriousness. This will likely mean speeding up ongoing modernization, getting rid of all hardware of Soviet or Russian origin, and looking for new capabilities based on lessons learned from Ukraine. But in doing so they will face severe external and internal challenges.

Poland is the natural center of gravity of Visegrád Four and NATO’s eastern flank, and one of the staunchest supporters of Ukraine. In 2016, it decided to create territorial forces as a new branch of its armed forces. This decision was heavily influenced by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the subsequent armed conflict in Donbas.

As a NATO Member Finland Will Be a Security Provider

Mikael Lohse

Russia’s long-standing foreign policy based on military power and its declared goal of a security structure based on a division into spheres of interest in Europe took on a new dimension when it launched a war of aggression against Ukraine in February 2022. The war has evidenced a lowering of the threshold for using military force and an unrestrained readiness of the authoritarian system to use such force. Russia has also repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons in order to secure its freedom of action in conventional warfare without the direct involvement of third parties in the conflict. It appears to be explicitly intent on using long-range weapons such as missiles and artillery to destroy civilian targets in Ukraine. Such action shows complete indifference to the standards of international law, which fundamentally seek to protect civilians in war. There is already convincing evidence of large-scale and serious war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.

China’s role in supplying critical minerals for the global energy transition: What could the future hold?

Rodrigo Castillo and Caitlin Purdy

The world faces major challenges in responsibly sourcing large quantities of minerals that are critical for the transition to low-carbon energy sources. Consumption of these critical minerals—most notably nickel, copper, lithium, and cobalt—is projected to rise, largely driven by their use in the renewable energy sector. Demand is expected to quadruple by 2040 under the International Energy Agency’s Sustainable Development Scenario, in which global action would limit the global temperature rise to well below 2°C, and it is projected to rise by six times under a net-zero scenario.[1] Many governments, including the United States, European Union members, and China, seem to share the goal of increasing the supply and rate of production of the raw materials needed for the energy transition to address the challenge of global climate change. However, meeting this demand will be difficult—and producing these minerals in strict adherence to robust environmental, social, and governance criteria will be even more so.

China is the dominant player in global mineral processing. This report analyzes how its strategic position in regard to critical minerals may evolve, to shed light on current and emerging challenges for the energy transition, given the country’s high level of engagement in global mineral supply chains.

How Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan Gambit Backfired

Craig Singleton

History is replete with unintended consequences, few of which mattered much. Not so in the case of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent layover in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital. The trip, which garnered rare bipartisan support in Washington, aimed to demonstrate U.S. confidence in Taiwan’s leadership. Instead, the visit and China’s reaction to it left the region reeling, with Beijing apparently more confident than ever that it could retake the self-governed island nation by force if necessary.

Simply put, Pelosi’s ill-timed gambit backfired—and badly. Worse yet, its destabilizing effect was entirely predictable and completely preventable, which explains why White House and U.S. Defense Department officials repeatedly requested that she postpone, not cancel, her travel to Taipei. Sure, Pelosi faced political pressure not to back down once her plans became public. But it was always clear that China would exact a high price for her meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, which need not have taken place in Taiwan or coincided with the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to achieve its stated objective.