25 September 2022

Here’s what we know about the state of Russia’s military

Ellen Ioanes

Ukraine’s continuing rout of Russian forces in the east has exposed fundamental problems within the Russian military, including deficiencies and power struggles in its command structure and gaps in intelligence gathering and processing. Though Russia’s early failures and difficulty recruiting enough soldiers for the front line have been clear for months, the latest operation shows the depth of the disarray and stasis in Russia’s armed forces.

Ukraine’s lightning strike operation in the Kharkiv region demonstrated the Ukrainian military’s ability to take advantage of those deficiencies to recapture not just territory, but strategically important transport and resupply hubs for the Russian military’s eastern front. Although the war is far from over, and Russia still controls around 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory, the Kharkiv operation provided a strategic and moral win for Ukraine, and revealed a Russian military seemingly unable — or unwilling — to learn from its previous errors.

Fighting continues in southern Ukraine near Kherson and in the Donbas, where Russia had sent its more experienced soldiers prior to the Kharkiv blitz. While it’s impossible to predict how the fighting will play out there, Ukraine’s ability to take the battlefield initiative and exploit Russian weaknesses — as well as materiel, financial, and intelligence support from Western countries — put Ukraine’s military in a stronger position.

Going Nuclear On thinking the unthinkable

Lawrence Freedman

Supreme leaders achieve their positions and then hold them by controlling events to their advantage. It is natural, therefore, to assume that even when they appear to have lost control, they will find a way to regain it. This assumption is behind the common refrain these days, even heard from people who would dearly like Vladimir Putin to fail, that he will not allow it to happen, that even at this late stage he will find something to do that will turn the tide of the war. That something will have to go beyond adding to the hurt and misery already caused, which we know he can do. It must also stave off Russia’s defeat and that is another matter. In addition, therefore, to speculating about what Putin might do next, we also need to ask what good it will do him.

Russia’s Way Forward

On Friday 16 September Putin spoke at a news conference at the conclusion of a conference in Uzbekistan. This conference was most memorable for evidence of Russia’s increasing isolation, even among countries that might have been expected to be more sympathetic. As there were visible signs of Central Asian states distancing themselves further from Russia, Putin was obliged to acknowledge that both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had concerns about the war.

Ukraine Seizes Key Riverbank as It Pushes Deeper Into the East

Mark Episkopos

Ukrainian forces are consolidating their gains in the northeast as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promises new offensives to recapture lost territories.

Ukrainian forces crossed the Oskil River in the northeastern Kharkiv region and now control both of the river’s banks, according to the Ukrainian military. The news comes shortly on the heels of earlier claims by Russian military correspondents that Russian forces left the city of Kupyansk on the heels of a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive. There have been unverified reports that Russian troops in the area are regrouping for an offensive to retake Kupyansk, with claimed sightings of Russian troops massing on the town’s outskirts. Ukraine confirmed that Russian forces are attempting to counterattack across several fronts in the northeast. “During the past day, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine repelled enemy attacks in the areas of Kupyansk, Hoptivka, Mykolaivka Druga, Vesela Dolyna, Odradivka, Maryinka, Novomykhailivka and Pravdyne settlements," the Ukrainian military said, according to CNN.

Zelenskyy promised further battlefield victories in his nightly video address. "Maybe now it seems to some of you that after a series of victories we have a certain lull," he said. "But this is not a lull. This is preparation for the next series. … Because Ukraine must be free—all of it," the president added.

Defense Department to Investigate Military-run Fake Social Media Accounts

Stephen Silver

The Department of Defense has vowed to launch a probe into military-run fake accounts on social media sites after such accounts were recently taken offline. That’s according to a Washington Post story published over the weekend.

The undersecretary of defense for policy, Colin Kahl, announced the probe and “instructed the military commands that engage in psychological operations online to provide a full accounting of their activities by next month.”

This was after concerns were raised that Pentagon agencies had engaged in “attempted manipulation of audiences overseas.”

This follows a report earlier this month by Graphika titled “Unheard Voice: Evaluating Five Years of pro-Western Covert Influence Operations.”

Blockchain Is Critical to China’s Energy Plans

Michael Locketz

Beijing has set a policy goal to become the world leader in blockchain technology by 2025. To that end, in the last few years, we have seen policy changes from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which has broad administrative & planning control over the economy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Of particular interest, in 2021, NDRC published a blueprint for the development of the national digital economy by 2025. In this plan, blockchain was once again labeled as a “key digital technology”—along with artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing.

Not surprisingly, in 2022, we are seeing new infrastructure development plans from the Chinese government in this area. Last month, the China Energy Administration (CEA)—the state agency responsible for formulating energy policy under the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)—announced that they would explore blockchain-based power trading platforms to facilitate electricity trading between self-contained power generation units and the state and national grids, according to a policy document released late August. The policy will explore the possibility of small and medium-sized power generation and storage facilities that service local neighborhoods to trade energy with state and national grids. This plan aims to avoid or alleviate power outages in the event of natural disasters or droughts—like the recent drought and heat wave, which has taken a toll on Sichuan province’s electricity supply, causing massive industrial and residential power cuts.

Armenia Must Build the Zangezur Corridor

Stephen Blank

Recent border clashes in the South Caucasus have been all but eclipsed by much more publicized events in Ukraine. But make no mistake: the renewed fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia—the worst since a Moscow-brokered ceasefire in 2020—is of global significance. Ongoing peace talks between those two countries are now endangered and, by extension, the secure transit links running through both countries’ territory upon which the global market relies are now in jeopardy.

Those same transit links were already under threat from the war in Ukraine. Severe disruptions to the movement of energy, food, and commercial goods have caused seismic shocks to economies around the world. European gas prices are soaring after Moscow slashed access to the Nord Stream 1 pipeline while Western sanctions have sparked an increase in the prices of the most basic food items around the world.

It is against this backdrop that Armenia can no longer delay the construction of a critical new transport route between Europe and Asia: the Zangezur Corridor. This corridor, long tabled but currently blocked by Armenia, would run from Azerbaijan’s southwestern border through Armenia to the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and then to Turkey and beyond. This is the missing link in one of the only East-West trade routes that can bypass Russia. If Armenia is really a friend of the West, as its large diaspora claims, it must return to the negotiating table and immediately allow the opening of the corridor.

The US Opioid Problem Is Also a China Problem

Jim Crotty

Over 108,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in the last 12 months, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these, nearly two-thirds involved fentanyl, an incredibly potent synthetic opioid more than 50 times more powerful than heroin. Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45, more than car accidents, firearms, and COVID-19, and is so widespread it has contributed to a sustained decrease in Americans’ life expectancy.

The United States’ adversaries couldn’t be happier.

In Tehran, the opioid crisis supports the Mullahs’ claims of American decadence. In Moscow, it fuels Russian propaganda of a rival in decline. And in Beijing, it supports the need for a strong, centralized, autocratic system of government. China’s involvement in the synthetic drug trade is particularly worrisome and has raised questions about its complicity in the U.S. opioid crisis.

Tensions Escalate Along Bangladesh-Myanmar Border

Shafi Md Mostofa

On September 16, an 18-year-old Rohingya boy was killed, and five others injured when mortar shells fired from Myanmar fell and exploded in the no-man’s land near Bandarban’s Tumbru Bazar border area. Around 4,000 Rohingyas are reported to be living in this area.

Shells have been landing on the Bangladeshi side of the border over the last few weeks and so far, Bangladesh’s response has been rather mild. Soon after the death of the Rohingya teenager in the shelling, Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry summoned Myanmar’s Ambassador in Dhaka Aung Kyaw Moe to protest against the shelling and the violation of Bangladesh’s airspace.

Myanmar’s ambassador blamed the Arakan Army for firing shells and bullets into the Bangladeshi side of the border. He avoided taking questions from the Bangladeshi media.

Fighting between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army is reported to have escalated in Northern Rakhine and Chin states since early August.

Sri Lanka to Move Away From China and Toward Economic Integration With India

P.K. Balachandran

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has clearly signaled that he plans to move away from China and integrate his island nation’s economy with India’s. And even as he asserted that the Chinese-built and operated Hambantota port is a purely commercial one and that India and the West need have no fear of its being used for military purposes, Wickremesinghe took care to tell India specifically that Sri Lanka will be mindful of India’s security concerns.

Wickremesinghe made these pronouncements in his keynote addresses at the National Defense College and the India-Sri Lanka Society last week.

With the long-ruling Rajapaksas pushed into the political background following the economic crisis, Wickremesinghe is using the powers of the executive presidency to take his island nation closer to India and away from China by promoting economic, investment, and national security ties with its immediate neighbor. Ironically, China paved the way for this by being a passive spectator when Sri Lanka was desperately crying out for financial and material aid to overcome an unprecedented forex shortage, while India, with alacrity, rushed aid to the tune of $4 billion in six months.

Powering China’s Nuclear Ambitions

Genevieve Donnellon-May

China’s President Xi Jinping arrived in Kazakhstan on a state visit on September 14, ahead of his attendance at the 22nd summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Uzbek city of Samarkand. Although much of the media focus was on the SCO summit, and Xi’s bilateral meetings with other presidents, attention should also be paid to his state visits, particularly to Kazakhstan, and their relevance to China’s domestic policies.

In a letter published in Kazakhstan’s Kazakhstanskaya Pravda newspaper before his visit, Xi noted that China and Kazakhstan “are good neighbors, good friends, and good partners.” Kazakhstan, a country of around 19.4 million people and sprawling grasslands, plays a key role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and “periphery diplomacy.” Rich in oil and gas, Kazakhstan is also a major energy producer and supplier to China. As of 2019, China had around $14 billion invested in Kazakhstan’s oil and gas sectors. Following Xi’s visit to Kazakhstan, Chinese state media has commented on China-Kazakhstan’s economic and cooperation. The Global Times noted in particular that the energy sector has been an important area in relations between both countries.

During Xi’s visit to Kazakhstan, both sides agreed to take measures related to energy cooperation, including the supply of the China-Kazakhstan crude oil pipeline and in various areas, including natural uranium. While details on these measures have not yet been released to the public, they fit into the broader context of economic and energy cooperation between China and Kazakhstan and Beijing’s nuclear energy ambitions.

Tibetans Fight to Keep Their Language Alive

Kelsang Dolma

Language rights, an expression of national and ethnic identity, have long been a focus for Tibetan human rights advocates. That focus has sharpened in recent years as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has ratcheted up its efforts in restricting Tibetans under its control from exercising their language rights. This language restriction is part of a longer trend of ethnic cleansing and minority suppression—seeking to strike at Tibetans’ ability to access their heritage and identity through their language.

In 2018, a Chinese court sentenced a Tibetan man, Tashi Wangchuk, to five years of prison because he advocated for Tibetans’ right to their own language, a right by Chinese law. In 2019, another Tibetan man, Tsering Dorje, was detained for a month in a so-called reeducation facility for discussing the importance of the Tibetan language with his brother over the phone—the Chinese authorities framed this as a political crime.

Israel's former cyber policy chief on cyber warfare and abuse of surveillance technology


With its joint expertise in security and technology, Israel has become a cyber security powerhouse over the past decade. The former head of Israeli cyber policy, Eviatar Matania, was key in that evolution. He founded and led the Israel National Cyber Bureau under former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and recently co-wrote "Cybermania," a book tracing Israel's cyber revolution. He joined us for Perspective to discuss abuse of Israel's Pegasus surveillance technology, the need for international regulation and the relationship between cyber and conventional warfare.

USAF Puts HARMs on MiG-29s, Cruise Missiles on C-130s, Cargo in B-52s


In the last few months, the U.S. Air Force has modified Ukrainian MiG-29s to carry Western anti-radar missiles, turned U.S. strategic bombers into cargo carriers, and transformed airlifters into long-range strike aircraft, officials said this week, as Russia and the changing Indo-Pacific security environment have forced the service to think outside the box.

The modifications to the Soviet-era MiG-29s, which were done by an undisclosed Air Force contractor, will allow Ukraine to wield U.S. AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles. It’s one way to get Kyiv Western-compatible capabilities without the policy decision on whether to provide Ukraine U.S. fighter aircraft, and the Air Force is interested in seeing what else can be done, said Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown Jr.

“These are the conversations I want to make sure we are having,” Brown said at the Air & Space Forces Association’s annual conference outside Washington, D.C.. “Whether we decide to do it or not, I think we actually need to have the conversations on some of these to see what options there are.”

Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict could impact the Israeli-Russian relationship — especially in Syria


TEL AVIV — Since the start of the Ukraine war, Israel has been careful to make sure its domestically produced weapons were not used against Russian forces, as part of an ongoing balancing act with Moscow over air space in Syria. But the unexpected, renewed fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh area in recent days is raising eyebrows in Jerusalem.

Azerbaijan is a reliable military customer of Israel, while Armenia’s primary military backer has traditionally been Moscow. And clips of Israeli weapons taking out Russian-made equipment is raising concerns in Israel that, as one Israeli defense source put it, Russia will have “big anger” over seeing their defensive equipment exposed.

Israel has been careful to manage its relationship with Russia due to Jerusalem’s need for the ability to safely strike inside Syria against Iranian-backed forces. There is a tacit understanding between Israel and Russia that Russian forces will not fire on Israeli jets and vice versa — although Moscow has occasionally made threats in the past to remind Israel not to get involved in Ukraine.


Joe Littell, Maggie Smith and Nick Starck

In the early 2010s, mass protests and riots ripped through the Middle East and North Africa as the Arab Spring gathered support. Longtime authoritarians like Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, and Bashar al-Assad of Syria all struggled to contain the groundswell after decades of rule. The rest of the world watched the human rights atrocities broadcast live on social media directly from those living through it instead of from traditional media institutions or foreign correspondents. The ubiquity of cellular phones and social media had democratized media production and the world had a front-row seat to revolution and upheaval.

The shift in information sharing, from formal media to informal social media, was accompanied by a shift in who could act on that information. Fearless netizens began collecting images from Twitter and videos from YouTube, and comparing them with Google Street View and other publicly available reverse image search tools. People like Eliot Higgins, founder of open-source investigation and journalism outfit Bellingcat, cut their teeth on the media coming out of the Arab Spring and the bloody civil wars that followed. Most efforts were focused on doing good, and an entire human rights cottage industry sprung up around the new data sources and the analytic groups documenting violence as it happened all over the world. Many believed that we were finally seeing the promised societal benefits of innovative technologies and that the near-constant data collection and advanced analytic techniques, like artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms, would really change the world.

Putin’s Proxies: Examining Russia’s Use of Private Military Companies

Catrina Doxsee

Chairman Lynch, Ranking Member Grothman, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee on National Security, thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee on “Putin’s Proxies: Examining Russia’s Use of Private Military Companies.” As this testimony highlights, in recent years Russia has increasingly used private military companies (PMCs) such as the Wagner Group as a tool of irregular warfare to exploit instability around the world in pursuit of its own geopolitical, military, and economic goals.

Still, Russian PMCs have a mixed record of operational success, have engaged in human rights abuses, contributed to regional instability, and have plundered natural resources from fragile states. These actions have created opportunities for the United States and its partners to exploit Russian vulnerabilities, limit the spread of Russian influence, and hold PMCs accountable for illegal activities.

This testimony is divided into three sections. The first provides a brief overview of Russian PMCs, including the Wagner Group, and the tasks and objectives they most often pursue. The second provides examples of Wagner’s operations in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including their successes, failures, and the evolution of Russia’s PMC strategy across deployments. The third provides implications for the United States.

Putin Needs To Face Reality: Russia Is Losing In Ukraine

Brent M. Eastwood

Is Russia panicking on the political front? Moscow and the pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk want to hold a snap referendum on whether the oblasts should officially become part of Russia. The model for this move is similar to what happened in Crimea in 2014. If Russia claimed the areas as its property, Ukrainian attacks would be considered acts of war against Moscow.

Two other occupied regions are believed to prefer holding a referendum to join Russia – Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. The vote could happen later this week, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to make a speech extolling the virtues of the plan. The polls will probably be rigged, The Guardian said on Sept. 20. Declaring the oblasts as part of Russia would enable the Kremlin to declare war and escalate the fight even more by claiming the Ukrainians are attacking Russian territory.

Russia’s lower house, the Duma, also passed a ruling that would make it a crime for military personnel to surrender or desert. Offenders could face ten years in jail. So far, Putin has resisted calling for universal conscription to supplement Russian troops in Ukraine. Putin is also rallying the country’s defense industry to produce more weapons systems.

The Middle East’s Coming Centrality

Jon B. Alterman

History does not follow a straight line, and we forget this at our peril. The internal combustion engine that powered much of the twentieth century will largely disappear in the twenty-first, and while the sources for future supplies of electricity are not well known, electric power will own the future. Some in the United States have rejoiced that the decline of oil and gas will soon mean the end of U.S. interests in the Middle East. It is, in fact, not so simple.

Oil and gas will not be strategic commodities in the distant future, but they are certainly strategic now, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine roils global energy markets and threatens Europe’s heating supplies for winter. This is no short-term crisis, though.

The reason, counterintuitively, is because so many are seized with the end of the oil age. Many investors are unwilling to invest in energy exploration and energy infrastructure, in part because of hostility to the oil and gas sector for environmental reasons, and in part because of an expectation that new investments have a life cycle too short to recover the costs. Refineries supplying gasoline to the East Coast of the United States, for example, cannot begin to meet demand, but it has been decades since one has been built, and no one will build another again.

Could the War in Ukraine Have Been Stopped?

Matthew C. Mai

Since the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian War, top U.S. officials have contended that Russian president Vladimir Putin has been uninterested in withdrawing his forces or ending the war anytime soon. Putin’s statements in recent months have certainly indicated that this assessment is largely correct, particularly as it has become apparent to Moscow that the United States and NATO are deeply committed to waging a proxy conflict against Russia. Two recent reports, however, raise questions about whether the war could have been stopped in its earliest days. Are the scuttled proposals to enact a ceasefire and settlement still relevant today? If so, should U.S. policymakers recalibrate their strategy in Ukraine and launch a diplomatic initiative to capitalize on Kyiv’s battlefield gains?

The first report suggesting that the war could have been stopped during its initial phase comes courtesy of an article written by Fiona Hill, a former Russia expert on the National Security Council, and Angela Stent, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs. Hill and Stent wrote that,

Putin’s Energy War Is Crushing Europe

Christina Lu

Factories, businesses, and families across Europe are battling for survival as Russia’s chokehold on the continent’s natural gas supply sends prices to astronomical heights, unleashing a brutal economic storm that has tested European solidarity about Russia’s war in Ukraine and fueled fears of an impending recession.

Crushingly high energy prices have soared to 10 times their average level throughout the past decade, leading to spikes that have throttled industries and left households scrambling to pay their bills. The resulting bloodbath has catapulted European leaders into emergency action as they rush to institute sweeping emergency measures in an effort to drag down prices. Brussels is talking about rationing gas; national governments are racing to find alternative supplies now that Russia has cut off essentially one-third of the continent’s gas supplies as part of its campaign to make Europe cry uncle before Moscow’s scarecrow forces vanish altogether in Ukraine.

Why Was a Negotiated Peace Always Out of Reach in Afghanistan?

Steve Brooking


Peace efforts in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021 required the willingness of three main parties to negotiate: the Taliban, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (“the Republic”), and the United States. But as political and military advantages shifted, each party’s perceived and relative interests differed over time, preventing the alignment that was necessary for a genuine peace process to take root.

In the early years of the war, with the Taliban on the run, the United States and its Afghan allies chose not to include the Taliban in discussions on the country’s political future or in the new Afghan government. While the United States prioritized military operations against terrorists over statebuilding, abusive warlords and corruption undermined the authority of the fledgling Republic. The US military surge in 2010 arguably led to the kind of mutually hurting stalemate that might have encouraged negotiation, but the US policy machine was slow to acknowledge that a negotiated settlement was likely needed to end the war. By the time the US view had changed, the Taliban could see a path to military victory unobstructed by the need for serious political negotiations with the Republic.

US Working on AI to Predict Ukraine’s Ammo and Weapons Needs


FRANKFURT, Germany—In a large office building amid closely-cut grass, one of the U.S. military's top data minds is developing machine-learning algorithms to predict Ukraine’s ammo and repair needs, rather than just react to them. But an older problem persists, according to the Defense Department’s inspector general: the Pentagon isn’t doing enough to keep track of what’s going where.

This is the joint operations center of the International Donor Coordination Center, or IDCC, where officials from the U.S., Britain, Ukraine, and a dozen other countries track the transfer of donated weapons and supplies, right down to individual bullets, IDCC officials told reporters this week.

The process begins with a request from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry for, say, armored vehicles or bullets. IDCC officials check to see if there’s a donor country or entity that has the item. The coalition officials then design a process to get that materiel to Ukrainians, who then take it over the border. Along the way, the coalition officials document what was requested, what was donated, and what was received.

What Does Iran’s Membership in the SCO Mean for the Region?

Aamna Khan

The 22nd Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit successfully concluded on September 16 in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, where the heads of states of the SCO’s eight permanent members – namely China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, India, and Pakistan – were gathered to discuss contemporary regional and global challenges. It was the first SCO summit to take place in person since the COVID-19 outbreak.

This year’s summit drew a lot of attention from both regional and Western media, mainly for two reasons. First, it was the first summit of the SCO heads of state since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine began. The SCO, of which Russia is the leading member, thus attracted the media’s focus. Adding to the significance, on the sidelines of the summit Chinese President Xi Jinping had his first in-person meeting with Putin since the Russia-Ukraine war began.

Another important feature of this summit was the formal inclusion of Iran as a permanent member in the SCO. Iran signed a memorandum of obligations to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on September 15. As announced by Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on his Instagram page, “By signing the document for full membership of the SCO, now Iran has entered a new stage of various economic, commercial, transit and energy cooperation.”

Building Taiwan’s Own Area Denial Capabilities

Pei-Shiue Hsieh

The launch of China’s third aircraft carrier in June marked a new phase of military pressure on Taiwan. Chinese carrier strike groups, with full operational capability, strengthen Beijing’s blue-water power projection capabilities both to directly attack Taiwan and to prevent other countries from coming to the island’s aid. While some assert that Taiwan cannot counter a Chinese invasion on its own, the results of my analytical wargames show the opposite. The drills by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) last month likely demonstrated Beijing’s intentions to impose a naval blockade on the island in the event of a military confrontation. Taiwan’s military needs to prevent Chinese fleets from moving into their tactical positions or, if unable to prevent the blockade’s establishment, to disrupt ongoing PLA Navy (PLAN) operations.

While Chinese expansion of the PLAN and its capabilities do put Taiwan at risk, Chinese carrier strike groups are not without their vulnerabilities. Attacks on supply and support to the Chinese carrier strike group can damage the PLAN’s operational effectiveness. Specifically, the Type 901 Hulunhu-class fast combat support ship, of which the PLAN has two, is prime for targeting. China’s conventional-powered carriers, despite the fast-growing combat fleets, are still quite limited in their range and endurance, requiring support and logistics ships. Sinking these support ships would disrupt a Chinese blockade or amphibious invasion.

Biden to Drip-Feed Afghanistan Its $3.5 Billion in Frozen Reserves

Lynne O’Donnell

The decision by the United States to release $3.5 billion of Afghanistan’s central bank reserves has sparked fears that the money will hand a jackpot to the Taliban, which have presided over the country’s slide into dire economic crisis since they took over more than a year ago. The money is to be transferred to an international financial institution based in Switzerland and administered by a group including former Afghan central bankers.

After months of back-and-forth conversations over whether—and how—to disburse at least a portion of the funds belonging to the former Afghan government that were frozen in the United States after the Taliban took over last year, the Biden administration has hit on a solution that pleases no one.