19 September 2022

Will the Western Sahara Crisis Tear the Maghreb Apart?

Sabina Henneberg

Since late August, Morocco and Tunisia have been engaged in a diplomatic spat that risks spilling over into their trade relations. Morocco withdrew its ambassador from Tunis on August 26 after Tunisian president Kais Saied received Brahim Ghali, the leader of the Polisario movement, which demands self-determination for the people of the Western Sahara, over which Morocco claims sovereignty. The Tunisian government also recalled its ambassador from Rabat in response. Ghali had come to Tunis to participate in the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, and photos showing Saied welcoming him at the airport circulated on social media. Morocco quickly announced that it would not be participating in the conference, and reports emerged on August 31 that it was considering cutting economic ties with Tunisia. Last week, the Moroccan Consumer Rights Federation announced a campaign to boycott Tunisian goods.

The crisis has now pulled Tunisia into a longstanding rivalry between Algeria and Morocco centered on the issue of the Western Sahara. Algeria has backed the Polisario since its formation, thus confronting Morocco, but Tunisia has historically sought to remain neutral.

How did Tunisia suddenly become entangled in the dispute between Algeria and Morocco over the Western Sahara, and what can we expect going forward?

Azerbaijan launches wide-ranging attacks against Armenia

Joshua Kucera, Ani Mejlumyan

Azerbaijan carried out a wide-scale attack against targets in Armenia, an unprecedented escalation of the long-running conflict on to Armenian territory.

Armenia’s defense ministry reported attacks, starting around midnight September 13, targeting cities all along the southern part of Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan, including Vardenis, Sotk, Artanish, Ishkhanasar, Goris and Kapan.

Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said it was merely carrying out “local countermeasures” in response to “the large-scale provocation” from Armenia: “News about the invasion of Azerbaijan into the territory of Armenia, disseminated in the Armenian media and the segment of social networks, is nothing but nonsense.”

While Azerbaijan has regularly used military escalation in its conflict with Armenia to achieve diplomatic results, in the past the fighting has been limited almost exclusively to the area in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory. The expansion into Armenia represents another level of escalation. What remains unclear is whether this is another attempt to achieve diplomatic gains or is the precursor to more military action.

The West Holds Firm Why Support for Ukraine Will Withstand Russian Pressure

Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay

The surprising success of Ukraine’s offensive to retake territory Russia seized since its invasion February has left Russian President Vladimir Putin with precious few choices to turn the tide of war. Without a mass mobilization, which Putin has ruled out for fear of domestic opposition, Russia is running out of men and materiel to keep the territory it still holds, let alone regain the initiative. Putin’s best hope—perhaps his only hope—is that Western support for Ukraine will crumble as the costs of war, including energy shortages and rising prices, begin to hit home in Europe.

Putin has been here before. He invaded Ukraine believing that a divided and weakened West did not have the stomach for confrontation. He was wrong. The United States and its allies responded with a unity and ferocity that surprised not only Moscow but many in Brussels, London, and Washington as well. Western countries placed unprecedented sanctions on the Russian economy, sent massive quantities of weapons to Ukraine, took in millions of refugees, and provided critical financial support to keep Ukraine’s economy afloat. Ukrainians rallied to their country’s cause and have retaken more than 60,000 square kilometers of territory that Russia had captured since February.

Survive and thrive: A European plan to support Ukraine in the long war against Russia

Piotr Buras, Marie Dumoulin, Gustav Gressel and Jeremy Shapiro 


As the war in Ukraine passes its six-month mark, the return of conflict to the European continent continues to shock. The bravery of Ukrainians, and the unity of their partners, have been the defining features of the war’s first phase. Rather than collapsing, Ukraine and its supporters have shown an inspiring determination and solidarity in the face of aggression.

Unfortunately, the war shows little prospect of ending. The violence may subside at times, but the absence of any sort of resolution will mean that it could reignite at any moment. Ukrainians, and their supporters in Europe and elsewhere, have to embark on a long war.

To prevail in that war, the Russian regime must hope this Ukrainian spring will give way to a Russian winter. It wants to make progress on the ground by slowly capturing more territory. It counts on cold weather, soaring energy prices, and the burdens of hosting refugees to undermine public support in Europe. It believes that domestic politics in the United States will start to weaken transatlantic unity. And the Kremlin thinks it can win the battle of narratives, particularly in the global south.

Why NATO Countries Don’t Share Cyber Weapons

Max Smeets

Over the past decade, we have witnessed the global proliferation of military cyber commands. As militaries try to build up an operational cyber capacity, they are looking for opportunities to share the burden and cooperate in this new domain of warfare.

But certain kinds of cooperation are more difficult in the cyber realm. It turns out that transferring cyber arms, while technically easy, is actually a lot more complicated than delivering conventional weapons.

Selling fighter jets to an ally doesn’t make the planes in your own fleet dramatically less effective. But when an exploit or tool is shared with a country and then used, its usefulness is reduced for everyone. This means that governments are more likely to help other states develop their own offensive capabilities by providing the expertise to find exploits, develop tools, and innovate themselves. This can include providing technical training and selling cyber training facilities. But an advanced cyber power would only consider this type of transfer with countries it is particularly close to.

How Much Territory Can Ukraine Take Back From Russia?

Robert Farley

Last week, Ukrainian forces executed a stunning offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, driving Russian troops back in a near panic and recovering thousands of square kilometers of territory. The advance appears to have shocked Russian defenders, who, for the most part, retreated in good order but left behind enormous stockpiles of equipment and munitions. On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy conducted a photo op in recently recaptured Izyum, a city that had seen intense fighting in the first months of the war and that lays astride a network of critical rail communications.

In effect, the offensive has introduced a new stage of the war, which may well involve the re-conquest of territory captured by Russia in the first week of the conflict.
Ukraine vs. Russia: Competing Information Economies

The successful offensive may serve as another demonstration of significant problems with Russia’s information economy. Numerous independent commentators on the Russian side appear to have sounded the alarm about the Ukrainian buildup and the weakness of Russian defenses, but these warnings went unheeded in senior command and political circles. Moscow’s attention seems to have been firmly focused on Kherson, where Ukraine is waging another offensive, albeit at a much slower pace. The Ukrainians, by contrast, seem to have their information ops wrapped up tight, and to have developed a strong intelligence sharing relationship with the United States. They immediately wrapped the offensive into their broader narrative about the war, which frames it as a heroic struggle for national existence.

Ukraine’s Cyberwar Chief Sounds Like He’s Winning

The head of the Derzhspetszviazok, Ukraine’s version of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, can be forgiven for working speedily. His country is under attack—and with it, the world order. “This is the first time ever in history that we’ve had such a full-fledged cyberwar happening right now in Ukraine,” says Shchyhol, who’s tasked with keeping Ukraine’s cyber territory safe in the same way president Volodymyr Zelensky oversees the country’s physical armed forces.

Skirmishes on the internet against Russian hackers weren’t new to Shchyhol, nor to the people he oversees as part of of the Derzhspetszviazok, also known as the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection. Before invading Ukraine on February 24, Russia had been testing the defenses of Ukraine’s cybersecurity. Mostly it was persistent, low-level attacks, but one larger attack was launched on January 14, when Russia targeted more than 20 Ukrainian government institutions. The attack, designed to disrupt government-linked websites, leeched out into the wider Ukrainian internet. “We also identified that around 90 websites were not accessible as a result of that attack,” says Shchyhol. “The goal of the Russian hackers was to sow panic among the Ukrainian population, and to demonstrate to the outside world that Ukraine is a weak state that couldn’t handle the attacks,” he says. This is why the Derzhspetszviazok rushed to relaunch the sites affected. “The longest it took us for one site was close to one week,” he says. “No data was lost, and the outcome of this attack was more psychological warfare.”

The End of Roe Will Spark a Digital Civil War

OVER THE PAST 10 years, the primary threats to US internet freedom have come from abroad, as countries like China, Russia, and India have erected barriers to the flow of information. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, however, the biggest threat to a borderless internet now comes from within the United States.

Already, state legislatures are laying the groundwork for digital secession that will carve up the rights that are now commonplace for internet users. We are on a path to a digital civil war, where blue states and red states create different rules to govern the internet, with conflicting laws on speech and data privacy. And it will be a compliance nightmare for platforms and users alike. The end result will be worse products, more concentration in the tech market, and reduced rights online.

The battle lines are already being drawn. In South Carolina, for example, the Republican legislature is considering a bill that would criminalize “hosting or maintaining an internet website … that provides information on how to obtain an abortion.” Democrats, on the other hand, are trying to stop platforms from censoring information on how to obtain a lawful abortion. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren wrote a letter to Meta expressing concerns about the company’s removal of abortion-related posts.

Ukraine War Offers Clues to Future War, Joint Chiefs Chairman Says


TEL AVIV, Israel—The future of warfare will look smaller, faster, more urban, and more precise than many Western military planners are anticipating, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told military officers from more than 22 nations here on Wednesday.

The notion that wars will increasingly be fought in cities is neither new nor universally accepted, but Milley said the conflict in Ukraine shows urban warfare done both right (Ukraine’s defense of Kyiv) and wrong (Russia’s leveling of Mariupol).The point of urban warfare, Milley said, is to capture key physical infrastructure nodes and population centers. If you destroy the infrastructure and kill or expel the population, then you’ve destroyed the very thing you need to win.

“If you accept that war is the conduct of politics by violent means in order to impose your political will on your opponent…then it stands to reason that politics is all about people and power and the distribution of goods and services, etc, then it stands to reason that decision in war will occur where people are, where the distribution of goods and services” is, he said That means cities.

Ukraine War Will 'Break Up' Modern Russia: Retired U.S. General


The ongoing war in Ukraine and its aftermath may result in the end of modern Russia as the world knows it, according to one retired U.S. general.

Speaking to Newsweek, Ben Hodges, who was the commanding general of United States Army Europe, stressed the importance of being prepared for the potential "break up" of Russia "as it looks today."

He listed four factors that he said lead him to believe that such a break up is feasible: the exposure of Russia's military as "corrupt" and not nearly as effective as it was regarded, trouble for Russia's economically important energy sector and defense industry, a shrinking Russian population, and "pervasive corruption" that will become unacceptable to Russian civilians paying the price for sanctions imposed in response to the Ukraine invasion.

"The combination of battlefield losses and the impact of sanctions on domestic Russia will make it very difficult for the Kremlin to sustain things," he said.

Ben Hodges, who was the commanding general of United States Army Europe, is seen in Vilnus, Lithuania, on September 1, 2017. The ongoing war in Ukraine and its aftermath may result in the end of modern Russia as the world knows it, according to Hodges.PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his attack on Ukraine on February 24, some expected to see a speedy Russian victory within days. But fierce Ukrainian resistance subverted expectations on how the conflict would unfold, causing Russia's image as a superior military power to crumble. The war has now stretched on for more than six months and marked its 200th day on Sunday. Western countries have vehemently criticized what Putin describes as his "special military operation" and imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia.

Hodges said that the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia have seen "disastrous outcomes" due to four miscalculations they made upon entering Ukraine. The first is that the Kremlin believed that it had force advantage, and the second was that it thought Ukraine could be isolated from third party support, he explained.

Russia is reportedly facing manpower shortages and has been conducting a recruitment campaign and offering incentives in order to make up for the shortfall. Meanwhile, Ukraine has received assistance from various NATO and Western countries, including the U.S., which announced its newest $675 million Ukraine security assistance package last week.

The other two of Russia's miscalculations are that it believed "the gain of destroying Ukraine would be worth any pain," such as sanctions, and that it would get the added bonus of being able to "break" NATO as well, according to Hodges.

"All four were obviously wrong," he said.
READ MORE'Joy of Liberation'—Ukraine Soldiers Hugged by Locals After Russia Retreats
Russians Leave Behind Huge Arsenals of Ammunition While Retreating—Photo
Pro-Russia Official Facing 'Calm Before the Storm' as Ukraine Closes In

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted while speaking to Russian-state media in June that the country's economic situation amid the war was "not easy." NATO, meanwhile, has stood behind Ukraine and actually stands to grow stronger as Sweden and Finland near membership.

Hodges said that Russia has four new strategic objectives in the war: reorganizing so it can see some semblance of victory and extract itself from the situation, fix its troubled economy and find new markets, ensure the survival of its regime, and rebuild to levels of strength from before the war.

"They assume we'll lose interest in the next few years so they'll plan to pick back up where they left off," he said, and added that this underlines the importance of Russia being "crushed now" so it doesn't have the opportunity to take additional aggressive action in the future.

When asked if Putin would still be in power in the future, Hodges responded that it's "hard to tell."

"He's spent the last 20 years making himself coup-proof and while I don't rule it out, I don't yet see the beginnings of an internal decision to remove him," he said.

Last year, the longtime Russian leader signed a law that could keep him in power until 2036. If that were to happen, Putin will hold the office for 24 consecutive years.

U.S. to Transfer Afghan Funds to Swiss Bank for Safekeeping

Jessica Donati and Ian Talley

WASHINGTON—The Biden administration said Wednesday that it would transfer billions of dollars of Afghanistan’s frozen assets to a fund in Switzerland, effectively shelving talks on recapitalizing the central bank under Taliban rule.

About $7 billion in Afghan central bank assets are frozen in the U.S., and under the plan half the sum will be transferred to the Bank for International Settlements for safekeeping. The administration said that a board will be responsible for approving limited transactions to support the country’s economy, such as paying arrears owed to international institutions to allow aid flows to continue.

The U.S. has said the Afghan central bank must meet several requirements for it to be recapitalized, including instituting standards to fight money laundering and terror financing and appointing a third-party monitor. The Taliban deny supporting terrorist groups.

Armenia reports ceasefire after new border clashes with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh

A senior Armenian official said late on Wednesday that a truce had been agreed with Azerbaijan after two days of violence linked to a decades-old dispute between the ex-Soviet states over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

There was no word from Azerbaijan about a truce to halt the deadliest exchanges between the countries since 2020.

Russia is the pre-eminent diplomatic force in the region and maintains 2,000 peacekeepers there. Moscow brokered the deal that ended the 2020 fighting – dubbed the second Karabakh war – in which hundreds died.

Russian news agencies quoted Armen Grigoryan, secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, as telling Armenian television: “Thanks to the involvement of the international community, an agreement has been reached on a ceasefire.”

Chinese Cyber Espionage Against Russia Is About Keeping Tabs and Learning

Emilio Iasiello

Since the start of the year, a Chinese advanced persistent threat (APT) actor group dubbed TA428 has been aggressively targeting industrial plants, research institutes, and government ministries, among others, in several countries to include Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, according to threat researchers from Kaspersky. The actors penetrated dozens of organizations and were even able to hijack the IT infrastructure of some of their targets, although the researchers did not specify what entities these were or where they were located. Additionally, the attacks implemented a series of stealthy backdoors into systems of interest, a tactic to ensure access to control infected hosts should one be discovered and remediated. These redundant channels would certainly facilitate ongoing cyber espionage, surveillance, and information theft activities, depending on the purpose of that particular intrusion.

Chinese state-sponsored cyber espionage is nothing notable as Beijing has been long engaged in the most expansive cyber-enabled data theft operation for the past decade. However, its recent activities targeting Russia’s military industries is rather novel and not widespread. What’s more, this is not the first Chinese APT actor that has brazenly targeted its close ally. In May 2022, just a couple of months after Russia invaded Ukraine, another Chinese state-sponsored group dubbed Twisted Panda targeted Russian research institutes belonging to the Russian state-owned defense organization Rostec Corporation. Earlier in April 2022, another group known as Mustang Panda conducted a cyber espionage campaign against Russian officials using European Union documents about the possibility of sanctioning Belarus to entice recipients to click on weaponized attachments.

2022 State of the Union Address by President von der Leyen

Never before has this Parliament debated the State of our Union with war raging on European soil.

We all remember that fateful morning in late February.

Europeans from across our Union woke up dismayed by what they saw. Shaken by the resurgent and ruthless face of evil. Haunted by the sounds of sirens and the sheer brutality of war.

But from that very moment, a whole continent has risen in solidarity.

At the border crossings where refugees found shelter. In our streets, filled with Ukrainian flags. In the classrooms, where Ukrainian children made new friends.

From that very moment, Europeans neither hid nor hesitated.

Averting an energy crisis requires bold investment in renewable energy — particularly in developing economies

Mili Fomicov

A spate of disturbing geo-political events and the growing frequency of adverse climate events have unequivocally proven the need to accelerate the energy transition. These events have also added weight to the viability and impetus to transition toward renewable energy sources.

At a government level, climate change and decarbonization objectives are driving states and investors to consider increasing their portfolio allocations to climate and energy transition assets.

For example, landmark climate legislation passed by the US Senate in August included a $369 billion investment in climate and clean energy. Additional commitments coming from developing economies, such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2070, indicate the level of awareness globally to accelerate the energy transition.

Ukrainian Balakliya-Kupyansk Offensive: Sequence of Events, Mechanics and Consequences

Mykola Bielieskov

Ukrainian forces’ Balakliya-Kupyansk offensive operation (September 6–12) could likely be treated as the turning point in the all-out Ukrainian-Russian war—when Ukraine gained the initiative. In approximately one week, Ukraine liberated more than 6,000 square kilometers (km) of its sovereign territory in Kharkiv region—much more than Russia has managed to occupy since mid-April 2022 (President.gov.ua, September 12). Although an unexpected turn of events for the majority of observers, the offensive was not a miracle but rather a simultaneous demonstration of Russian forces’ growing degradation and Ukrainian formations’ improved professionality and exceptional staff work, as successful counteroffensives are some of the most challenging maneuvers.

The Balakliya-Kupyansk offensive followed a template of classic World War II operations. It consisted of two distinct phases: penetration of the enemy’s tactical defense in depth and exploitation of penetration with a follow-on echelon. During the penetration phase (September 6–7), Ukrainian forces managed to breach the Russian front line to the north and northeast of Balakliya—near Verbivka and Volokhiv Yar (Nv.ua, September 7). Through this hole in Russia’s defenses, an exploitation echelon of Ukrainian forces was directed toward the Shevchenkove-Kupyansk axis through the critical P07 roadway (Institute for the Study of War, September 8).

How Technological Advancements are Helping Ukraine on the Battlefield

On the advanced tech Ukraine has been using and benefits it bringsSince becoming independent from Russian influence in 2014, Ukraine has managed to adopt advanced methods of warfare. Russia mainly uses both weapons and methods from the 20th century. It never understood that Ukraine had left the paradigms of 20th century wars, when the amount of military equipment brought to the battlefield was the decisive factor.

Ukrainians have managed to independently master unmanned aerial reconnaissance, and other UAV operation skills in a broad spectrum, from the simplest observation missions to reconnaissance and strike UAV complexes.

Another important aspect concerns systems of communications control. If Ukraine didn't have modern control and communication technologies, the enemy would be able to scan the radio spectrum to intercept radio signals between military units and various weapons systems control signals. Thanks to its advanced communication systems, the Ukrainian Armed Forces can effectively maintain its troops' command and control and manage its weapons systems.

Can Russia Shift Natural Gas Exports to China?

Oliver Alexander

"Problems in pumping arose because of the sanctions imposed against our country and against a number of companies by Western states, including Germany and the UK. There are no other reasons that would lead to problems with pumping,"1

With this quote to Interfax, Russian Press Secretary Dimitry Peskov clarified that Russian natural gas to Europe won’t be turned back on until sanctions are lifted. Russia now faces the task of attempting to sell its massive natural gas reserves to other markets, China being the main player.

Standing between Russia and successfully selling a large amount of natural gas to China are two large and seemingly unsurmountable hurdles:

Russian Gas Pipeline Infrastructure

Russian Liquid Natural Gas Infrastructure

Natural gas cannot simply be transported as easily as oil, coal or other fossil fuels. There are two ways to move large amounts of natural gas. The first is through a network of gas pipelines. The second is by using a natural gas liquefaction plant to turn it into “Liquid Natural Gas” (LNG), which can then be transported on specially designed LNG carriers. Both of these require large amounts of complicated and expensive infrastructure to be in place.

The Critical Moment Behind Ukraine’s Rapid Advance

Julian E. BarnesEric Schmitt and Helene Cooper
Source Link

WASHINGTON — The strategy behind Ukraine’s rapid military gains in recent days began to take shape months ago during a series of intense conversations between Ukrainian and U.S. officials about the way forward in the war against Russia, according to American officials.

The counteroffensive — revised this summer from its original form after urgent discussions between senior U.S. and Ukrainian officials — has succeeded beyond most predictions. Ukrainian forces have devastated Russian command and control, and appear poised to capitalize on their advances in the northeast of the country and in another campaign in the south.

The work began soon after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine told his generals he wanted to make a dramatic move to demonstrate that his country could push back on the Russian invasion. Under his orders, the Ukrainian military devised a plan to launch a broad assault across the south to reclaim Kherson and cut off Mariupol from the Russian force in the east.

The U.S. plans to expand a chip export ban on China, ratcheting up the tech war between the two countries


Reuters reported that the Biden administration plans to broaden curbs on U.S. exports to China of semiconductors used in artificial intelligence and chipmaking tools.

The Commerce Department plans to impose the restrictions on three companies: KLA, Lam Research, and Applied Materials, according to unidentified sources with knowledge of the matter. The federal government would ban the companies from selling chipmaking equipment in China without a license from the Commerce Department.

A similar restriction was placed on Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia last month on shipments of A.I. computing chips to China.

The Commerce Department is reviewing policies toward China but could not comment on the broadening of export curbs, the agency’s spokesperson said in a statement. The new rules, which have yet to be finalized, would be aimed at preventing “China’s acquisition and use of U.S. technology in the context of its military-civil fusion program to fuel its military modernization efforts, conduct human rights abuses, and enable other malign activities.”

Exclusive: Biden to hit China with broader curbs on U.S. chip and tool exports -sources

Karen Freifeld and Alexandra Alper

WASHINGTON, Sept 11(Reuters) - The Biden administration plans next month to broaden curbs on U.S shipments to China of semiconductors used for artificial intelligence and chipmaking tools, several people familiar with the matter said.

The Commerce Department intends to publish new regulations based on restrictions communicated in letters earlier this year to three U.S. companies -- KLA Corp , Lam Research Corp (LRCX.O) and Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O), the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The letters, which the companies publicly acknowledged, forbade them from exporting chipmaking equipment to Chinese factories that produce advanced semiconductors with sub-14 nanometer processes unless the sellers obtain Commerce Department licenses.

US: Russia spent $300M to covertly influence world politics


WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia has covertly spent more than $300 million since 2014 to try to influence politicians and other officials in more than two dozen countries, the State Department alleges in a newly released cable.

The cable released Tuesday cites a new intelligence assessment of Russia’s global covert efforts to support policies and parties sympathetic to Moscow. The cable does not name specific Russian targets but says the U.S. is providing classified information to select individual countries.

It’s the latest effort by the Biden administration to declassify intelligence about Moscow’s military and political aims, dating back to ultimately correct assessments that Russia would launch a new war against Ukraine. Many of President Joe Biden’s top national security officials have extensive experience countering Moscow and served in government when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched wide-ranging campaigns to influence the 2016 and 2020 U.S. presidential elections.

The ‘Kinetic Pendulum’: How the Army wants to defeat drone threats


WASHINGTON — US Army leaders call them the new “improvised explosive devices.”

Small drones, flying above military bases or personnel in the field, packed with explosives can be delivered on targets with lethal effects at minimal cost to the enemy. And as drone technology continues to evolve, US military leaders expect they will attack on the battlefield in swarms, operating with autonomous capabilities that will make them more difficult to knock out of the sky with the jamming technology largely employed to counter drones today.

“The autonomy is a direct attempt to evade the EW type of capability,” Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office and the Army’s director of fires, told Breaking Defense in an interview last month. “There are still some ways in EW capability that can still get after some of this threat, but you’re going to start leaning more towards having a kinetic solution.”

How to use open source intelligence data to debunk Russian disinformation


Aself-described “college nerd” sat on a porch in Birmingham, Alabama, explaining via Zoom how he runs one of the most-followed Twitter feeds on the war in Ukraine. Around 275,000 regularly check his account, The Intel Crab.

Justin Peden, 20, is an example of how data is being used to debunk disinformation in today’s high tech ecosystem. He uses geolocation, satellite imagery, TikTok, Instagram and other sleuthing tools to monitor the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II.

Scouring the internet for streaming webcams, smartphone videos and still photos to pinpoint Russian troop locations, air bombardments and the destruction of once peaceful neighborhoods are a routine part of his day. If a Russian commander denies bombing an area, Peden and other war watchers quickly post evidence exposing the falsehood.

What the U.S. gets wrong about China’s relationship with Russia, and Xi Jinping’s relationship with Vladimir Putin

Lili Pike

On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, a clear sign that their ties remain strong despite the seismic shifts since their last meeting seven months ago. At that February summit, on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the two leaders said their countries enjoyed a “no limits” friendship, built upon a mutual resentment of Western nations. They issued a long joint statement that was a not-so-veiled attack on the U.S.-led global order, and — in language that was likely music to Putin’s ears — a full-throated defense of Russia’s hard-line stand against NATO.

Less than three weeks later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

At Thursday’s meeting, held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, the tone was slightly different — no doubt a consequence of how much has changed since February. Putin said, “We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis” — a note of thanks to China for standing with Russia in terms of financial support, U.N. votes, and continued condemnation of the U.S. and NATO. But Putin also acknowledged that China may not be as fully supportive of Russia now as it was before the tanks rolled in. “We understand your questions and concerns about this,” Putin said of the war in Ukraine.