16 October 2022

Deterring Nuclear Weapons Use in Ukraine

Heather Williams

Nuclear weapons have been lurking in the background since the start of the Ukraine crisis on February 24. President Vladimir Putin has increasingly relied on nuclear threats in an attempt to prevent foreign intervention and signal to the United States and NATO that he is committed to winning the war in Ukraine. For example, on September 21, he stated, “Our country has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries have. In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff. . . . Those who are using nuclear blackmail against us should know that the wind rose can turn around.” To deter Putin from using nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the Biden administration has been forced to find a delicate balance of avoiding overt threats accompanied with private deterrence signals. One of the main reasons for this is to maintain NATO unity; some allies would prefer to see explicit threats against nuclear weapons use, and others would view such threats as escalatory and dangerous.

Q1: What is the role of nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine?

A1: Putin has referred to nuclear weapons on at least three occasions since the invasion of Ukraine. On February 27, he ordered Russia’s nuclear forces be put on “special combat readiness,” leading some experts and news outlets to interpret this as “high alert” nuclear status, although in practice there were no noticeable changes to Russia’s nuclear forces. The second occasion was his September 21 speech, given in response to perceived nuclear threats from NATO. In the same speech, Putin announced the partial mobilization of up to 300,000 reservists, indicating Russia was losing ground in Ukraine and is being increasingly drawn into a quagmire. More recently in an October 3 address, Putin argued that the United States was the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war. “By the way, they created a precedent,” he ventured in an aside. This weak analogy neglects nearly 77 years of the nuclear taboo.

Three key takeaways from the Biden administration’s National Security Strategy


WASHINGTON — Twenty two months after taking office, the Biden administration finally released its National Security Strategy, ending a drawn out process that was compounded by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

On the whole, the strategy provided few major surprises. Concerns about the rise of China — and the threat the autocratic state poses to both its neighbors and the United States — continue to be the largest national security focus for the administration. And while the war in Ukraine has brought a sense of immediacy and greater attention to threat still posed by Russia, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Wednesday that the conflict didn’t result in any major alterations to the strategy.

However, the devil is always in the details, defense experts told Breaking Defense. Here’s what they see as the major takeaways.

The Concept of ‘Integrated Deterrence’ Might Already Be In Trouble

A Winter War In Ukraine Favors Russia And Will Be Bloody

Daniel Davis

A Winter War in Ukraine Can Only Mean Trouble: As the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) say they hope their offensive reaches the city of Kherson by this winter, Russia continues preparation for a massive counterattack which could begin as early as next month. The results of that battle are likely to be bloody and destructive, but unlikely to settle the war one way or the other.

To understand what is likely to happen in the phase of the war in November and December, it is useful to consider the flow of events between the start of the conflict and today. When Russia launched the war on February 24, it initially shocked the Ukrainian defenders and captured massive swaths of territory, including the regional capital city of Kherson by the seventh day. But once the initial shock wore off, Ukrainian troops stiffened and began launching fierce counterattacks, especially north of Kyiv.

By early April, Russian casualties had risen so high in both personnel and equipment, they were forced to withdraw from Kyiv and Kharkiv, repositioning to the east in the Donbas. Russia then began a new offensive and captured Mariupol, Severodonetsk, and Lysychansk by the first of July. But then, owing to significant losses of troops and tanks, Russia’s offensive began to run out of steam.

The race to stop weaponized robots

Rebecca Heilweil

A Twitter post featuring a video of a robot dog firing a gun that’s racked up nearly 120,000 likes since July. Videos of Ukrainian soldiers apparently modifying off-the-shelf drones to airdrop weapons. An art project featuring Spot, the Boston Dynamics robot most known for viral dancing videos, outfitted with a paintball gun.

These kinds of videos are all over the internet. They demonstrate the kind of scary scenarios that six top robot manufacturers, including Boston Dynamics, probably had in mind when they published a letter last week promising not to weaponize their products. While robots are becoming increasingly accessible to consumers, these companies warned, people might try to turn them into weapons meant to harm people. To prevent this from happening, the companies promised to review what customers want to do with their commercial robots before selling them (“when possible”) and to look into developing technologies that might reduce the risk of this happening in the first place.

US Chip Sanctions ‘Kneecap’ China’s Tech Industry

LAST MONTH, THE Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba revealed a powerful new cloud computing system designed for artificial intelligence projects. It is used by Alibaba’s cloud customers to train algorithms for tasks like chatbot dialogue and video analysis, and was built using hundreds of chips from US companies Intel and Nvidia.

Last week, the US announced new export restrictions that will make future projects like that unlikely. The Biden administration’s rules forbid companies from exporting advanced chips needed to train or run the most powerful AI algorithms to China.

The sweeping new controls are designed to keep the country’s AI industry stuck in the dark ages while the US and other Western countries advance. The restrictions also block the export of chipmaking equipment and design software, and ban the world’s leading silicon fabs, including Taiwan’s TSMC and South Korea’s Samsung, from manufacturing advanced chips for Chinese companies.

CNAS Responds: Analyzing the 2022 National Security Strategy

Richard Fontaine, Lisa Curtis, Emily Kilcrease

Following the release of the 2022 National Security Strategy—highlighted by a CNAS cohosted launch event with the Georgetown School of Foreign Service featuring National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan—CNAS experts respond to the vision and stated policy priorities of this guiding document.

Richard Fontaine, Chief Executive Officer:

The new National Security Strategy represents a strong, clear statement about America’s role in the world. The central geopolitical challenge today is the existence of simultaneous, indefinite competitions with both Russia and China. The NSS admirably diagnoses the nature of those contests and points the way toward success in them. It sets key priorities and emphasizes the need to work with allies and build domestic sources of strength. All good.

Moving Past the Name: Focusing on Practical Implementation of the India-U.S. Strategic Relationship

Nicholas O. Melin 

Indispensable allies,” “natural allies,” “comprehensive global strategic partners,” “defining relationship of the 21st century.” These are a selection of ways American Presidents and Indian prime ministers have described the strategic bilateral relationship over the past dozen years. Yet analysts in both countries continue to document a “creeping disappointment and doubt about the relationship’s long-term viability.”1 From the American side, there is concern about India’s “strategic promiscuity” as it retains strong relations with nations in its neighborhood and beyond (such as Russia) that are at odds with U.S. policy positions. Two American commentators asked, “Is the United States giving too much and getting too little?”2 At every instance of friction in bilateral relations, Indian analysts express suspicion about U.S. intentions and question the relationship’s reliability.3 Even the proper label for the relationship itself is a hotly contested topic, so we must ask whether the United States and India are transactional partners, strategic partners, or informal allies.

The debate over semantics on both sides of the relationship underappreciates the degree to which it is growing into an important strategic arrangement. Systematic review of the bilateral relationship reveals an alignment of strategic aims and a military-to-military interface that is already equivalent to America’s closest Indo-Pacific allies. Driven by the pressing threat posed to their liberal democracies by China’s strategic rise and authoritarian tendencies, the United States and India are on course for even closer strategic convergence.

America’s arsenal is in need of life support

Bradley Bowman and Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery (ret.)

The United States is set to face a raft of consequences if urgent measures are not taken to expand its production capacity for military munitions.

For many years, the Defense Department and Congress together all but ignored the issue. Year after year, budgets were proposed and approved that saw crucial munitions purchased at the lowest possible rate companies could sustain, hollowing out the industrial base.

Now, with an extraordinary array of threats emerging, Washington can no longer disregard a munitions production shortfall that endangers U.S. military readiness and undercuts Washington’s ability to provide beleaguered democracies, such as Ukraine and Taiwan, with the combat capabilities they need.

Our Generals Are Bad at Strategy. They Should Study the Civil Rights Movement.

Martin Luther King 

The U.S. military has struggled mightily in recent decades. American armed forces excel at tactics, but our generals have not been good at strategy, and it’s made our military like a Ferrari without a steering wheel — powerful but unable to get you to where you want to go.

The armed forces could learn a lot from a surprising source: the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s.

At first glance, the notion may seem preposterous. The military, after all, is a huge, hierarchical organization devoted to using force to defend American interests, while the movement was a relatively small, disruptive group of people that primarily used non-violent methods to challenge white supremacy in the American South. But despite the obvious difference between fighting a war in Iraq and agitating for civil rights domestically, the civil rights movement offers important lessons about strategy that could benefit our military leaders.

How to Avoid a War Over Taiwan Threats, Assurances, and Effective Deterrence

Thomas J. Christensen, M. Taylor Fravel, Bonnie S. Glaser

As tension rises between Beijing and Washington over Taiwan, strategists on all sides seem to have forgotten what the American game theorist Thomas Schelling taught years ago: deterring an adversary from taking a proscribed action requires a combination of credible threats and credible assurances. Instead of heeding that lesson, a growing number of U.S. analysts and officials have called for the United States to treat Taiwan as if it were an independent state and to abandon the long-standing policy of “strategic ambiguity” in favor of “strategic clarity,” defined as an unconditional commitment to use military force to defend the island in the event of a mainland Chinese attack. These calls have intensified since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with some commentators even advocating for formal recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign country. Still others have called for a permanent (and significant) deployment of U.S. forces to Taiwan to lend credibility to the U.S. threat of a military response to a mainland attack. In testimony before the U.S. Senate last year, Ely Ratner, the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, implied that the United States could never allow Beijing to control Taiwan because such an outcome would make it impossible to defend other U.S. allies in Asia.

But shifting U.S. policy toward support for Taiwan’s permanent separation from the mainland is more likely to provoke than to deter an attack on Taiwan. Deterrence requires credibility in both of its elements: threat and assurance. The threat requires signaling both the costs of a proscribed action and sufficient political will to impose those costs. The assurance requires conveying to the target, in a way that it can trust, that it will not be taken advantage of if it refrains from taking the proscribed action.

Biden security plan calls for diverse military, more nuclear spending

Leo Shane III and Joe Gould

The White House released its long-awaited National Security Strategy on Wednesday, outlining plans for strengthening alliances worldwide while maintaining a strong American military “by promoting diversity and inclusion.”

The strategy also includes a commitment to strengthening the U.S. nuclear arsenal at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to use nukes in Ukraine and as the Pentagon warns of China’s growing arsenal of the destructive bombs.

The document was originally expected to be publicly released last spring but was delayed in part because of the fighting in Ukraine. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Russia’s aggression in the region did not fundamentally change the administration’s plans, but did result in some parts of the document receiving revisions and updates.

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Multidomain task forces are growing and shaping overseas exercises

Todd South

WASHINGTON — The two multidomain task forces the Army has in the Indo-Pacific region now shape major joint military exercises as the Army applies its multidomain operations doctrine to the real world.

Over the past six months, the 1st MDTF deployed 16 cells across 10 time zones to support five named joint or bilateral exercises, said Brig. Gen. Bernard Harrington, 1st MDTF commander. The cells are task-organized and can be as small as a three-soldier team and as large as a company or battery.

The 1st MDTF saw its first major use during the naval exercise Rim of the Pacific in 2018. Since then, they’ve added capabilities, personnel and equipment to play a role in Orient Shield and Talisman Saber in 2019.

Early exercises put into practice what had previously been merely concepts, Harrington told an audience on Wednesday at the annual Association of the U.S. Army conference.

Tracking China's preparations for war

Paul Szoldra

It’s not. Defending the island democracy of 23 million in Taiwan is certainly on the mind of national security leaders today, but if another war truly were on the horizon, various economic and military factors would indicate Beijing planned to attack across the roughly 100-mile-wide strait. Yet we’re not currently seeing those signs—good news, obviously—despite worrying stories on how “Taiwan’s citizen warriors prepare to confront looming threat from China” and “The persistent threat of China invading Taiwan.”

So, what are the indicators and how do we know what they are? Thank retired CIA analyst John Culver for answering both questions in this sober and insightful analysis. The 35-year intel veteran notes the warning signs of a full-scale invasion or naval blockade to cut off western support and concludes that if “China decides to fight a war of choice over Taiwan, strategic surprise would be a casualty of the sheer scale of the undertaking.”

Civilians Will Choose the Marine Corps’ Future—and Soon


A battle is underway for the future of the U.S. Marine Corps. It is being waged in print, in blogs, on Capitol Hill, at thinks tanks, and in the Pentagon. It has drawn in serving and retired Marines, all passionate about the future of their Corps. But the Corps’ ultimate direction will be set by senior civilian leaders—and sooner, perhaps, then anyone thinks.

The core issue is whether the Marines should continue to shift to the maritime littoral or revitalize its role as an autonomous, “first to fight” force. As physicist and philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn might have said, this is a choice between paradigms. Kuhn argued that most scientists—indeed, most people—work under an existing paradigm that assumes they know what the world is like. This paradigm drives the choice and construction of equipment, carries a set of rules, establishes the criteria for choosing problems, and provides the means to solve them. Eventually, though, even the strongest paradigm fails, and alternatives arise. When a particularly convincing alternative presents itself, Kuhn notes, it triggers a paradigmatic “crisis”: a difference so stark that one must decide to live in either the existing or emerging paradigms because one cannot live in both.

The Marines’ existing paradigm is championed by retired generals such as Charles Krulak and Anthony Zinni, following logic powerfully articulated by Krulak’s father, Victor Krulak, in First to Fight. In this vision, the Corps is perpetually under siege by Congress and the other services, but loved by the nation because it is an independent operating force, always ready to go whenever the country calls. Operational problems are secondary. What is paramount is that Marines will be first to address them. So, to ensure the Corps is ready when that call comes, it must be self-contained and retain its own complement of tanks and cannon artillery, among other things, to ensure it has whatever it needs.

Will fusion energy help decarbonize the power system?

Miklós Dietz, Bill Lacivita

What if a technological breakthrough could help the power sector decarbonize—and help prevent the worst effects of climate change?

Power generation currently accounts for approximately 30 percent of global CO2 emissions. To meet the Paris Agreement’s target of full decarbonization by 2050, many governments and utilities are shifting away from fossil fuels as a primary energy source and turning to renewable-energy technologies. The goal for many power sector players and their regulators is a zero-carbon energy grid. Volatility in the energy markets and geopolitical challenges may have complicated the transition to net zero in the short run, but in the longer run, the economics of renewable-power sources will drive likely investment into them.

In addition, as other industries transition away from fossil fuels, the demand for zero- or low-carbon electricity will increase. For example, as electric vehicles replace internal-combustion vehicles, more electricity generation will be required. McKinsey’s Global Energy Perspective 2022 projects that power consumption could triple by 2050. For countries to hit their decarbonization goals, it is thus essential that not just existing but also all added generation be zero carbon.

Russian War Report: Ukraine recaptures territory as Russia uses Iranian drone near Kyiv

The Ukrainian offensive continues to pressure Russian forces in southern and eastern Ukraine. On October 5, Ukrainian forces captured Hrekivka and Makiivka in Luhansk Oblast, approximately twenty kilometers southwest of Svatove. Fighting also continues in Kharkiv Oblast, where the Ukrainian military recently recaptured Hlushkivka. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command confirmed on October 4 that it had liberated Lyubimivka, Khreshchenivka, Zolta Balka, Bilyaivka, Ukrainka, Velyka Oleksandrivka, Mala Oleksandrivka, and Davydiv Brid. It appears that withdrawing Russian forces are destroying their own weapons reserves, likely to prevent Ukrainian forces from capturing equipment as they advance.

On October 5, the Russian army conducted another strike with an Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone in Bila Tserkva, Kyiv Oblast; this is the first strike in the Kyiv area since June. The strike resulted in the destruction of civilian buildings. This indicates that Russian forces are using advanced weaponry to target areas far from the active combat zones. The tactic of striking civilian infrastructure away from the frontlines has previously been used by Russia, presumably to add pressure on the civilian population and the Ukrainian administration. Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov said that Russian forces have used a total of eighty-six Iranian Shahed-136 drones, of which, Ukraine has destroyed 60 percent; this has not been independently confirmed. In addition, for the first time since August, Russian Tu-22 M3 bombers reportedly launched Kh-22 missiles from Belarusian airspace against the Khmelnytskyi region.

Experts react: The hits and misses in Biden’s new National Security Strategy

On Wednesday, the White House released its long-awaited National Security Strategy (NSS), which US President Joe Biden described in the introduction as “a 360-degree strategy grounded in the world as it is today, laying out the future we seek, and providing a roadmap for how we will achieve it.” So we put the call out to our experts from across the Atlantic Council, many of whom have previously served on the National Security Council, which takes the lead in drafting the document. Does this strategy deliver? What does it get right and what’s missing? How will the rest of the world view the administration’s strategic vision? Read on to find out.

A strategy in name only, but it does better than most

In the eighteenth century, Voltaire opined that the Holy Roman Empire was “in no way holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.” Today, a similar quip can be made every four years, as one administration after another publishes a National Security Strategy that is not entirely national, not truly centered on our security, and certainly not strategic. We are far too divided at home for a single document to represent a national consensus; the definition of security is often stretched to include anything that a given administration favors; and strategies, unlike these documents, require prioritizations rather than lists of equally weighted preferences along with a clearly defined alignment between desired ends, ways, and means. These reports, required by Congress and the product of untold man-hours across the executive branch, have largely degenerated into political treatises intended for domestic audiences rather than efforts to provide guidance to those who must execute US policies.

Around 5.3 Billion Mobile Phones Will Become Waste In 2022

Experts expect roughly 5.3 billion mobile / smartphones will drop out of use this year.

Stacked flat atop one another at an average depth of 9 mm that many disused phones would rise roughly 50,000 km – 120 times higher than the International Space Station; one-eighth of the way to the moon.

And, despite their valuable gold, copper, silver, palladium and other recyclable components, experts expect a majority will disappear into drawers, closets, cupboards or garages, or be tossed into waste bins bound for landfills or incineration (see background notes, appended).

And, surprisingly, mobile phones rank 4th among small EEE products most often hoarded by consumers.

US Regulator Wants Companies To Tell Shareholders How Climate Change Will Affect Way Their Businesses Operate

Climate change is real, and it’s happening now — from melting permafrost in the Arctic to massive flooding in Pakistan to the increased likelihood of devastating hurricanes in the Americas and elsewhere.

So why shouldn’t companies be required to report how their business affects the climate — and how climate change will affect a company’s financial health? The US Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed a new rule that would require exactly that.

The rule was proposed in March with an extended public comment period that garnered more than 14,000 submissions. The rule would apply to all companies publicly traded in the United States — even if they are not US based.

In a new commentary published in Science magazine, four researchers, including Edgar Hertwich, professor and International Chair in Industrial Ecology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), argue in support of the new rule.

National Security Strategy Aims To Address New Challenges, Says Sullivan

Jim Garamone

The world is at an inflection point, and the new National Security Strategy unveiled Wednesday is designed to address this new world, Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, said.

Sullivan, who spoke today at Georgetown University, compared the situation to the immediate post-World War II era when then-President Harry S. Truman promulgated the strategy that ultimately toppled the Soviet Union.

As Truman did before him, this new strategy is Biden’s moment to define the challenges facing the United States and detail the steps needed to steer the U. S., its allies and partners through such perilous times.

US Vulnerable To Future Copper Supply Squeeze – Analysis

Alex Stonor

The United States’ economy, industry, and security remain vulnerable to a copper squeeze expected in the near future. Regarding the amount of the “red metal” needed not just to match “green transition” goals, but also societal trends such as growing urbanization, US policy makers are now tasked with responding to an almost certain shortfall. Moreover, ongoing geopolitical turmoil and recent trade wars highlight the need to mitigate this shortfall’s repercussions on the US economy in terms of domestic consumption, financial volatility, and leverage for geopolitical blackmail.

The US is the fifth-largest copper producer in the world, and is home to major copper producers and mines, but it must now seek to develop its downstream process on the road toward energy independence, keeping in mind that China’s capabilities are unmatched in the sphere of refining strategic minerals.

It should not come as a surprise when experts warn that the copper squeeze could be “bigger than oil.” Copper is essential to modern societies; it is present in turbines, electrical transmission lines, and motors. It has the highest conductivity of non-precious metals, allowing it to more efficiently transmit electrical energy from the generation source to the point of use with less energy lost along the way. And with the global drive towards electrification, there is an argument to be made that copper wire connects the present to the future.

After Kremlin’s Annexation Gambit Few Compromises Remain To End Russia’s War On Ukraine – Analysis

Yury Zhigalkin and Robert Coalson

Before an assemblage of Russia’s ruling elites late last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to redefine Moscow’s flagging war against Ukraine by claiming to annex four more Ukrainian regions, adding that the status of those areas as Russian would never be negotiable and that Moscow would defend the newly grabbed territory by all necessary means – which many observers took as a threat to use nuclear weapons.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy responded immediately by saying there could be no political talks with Russia until Putin was out and by pressing for Ukraine’s accelerated admission into NATO.

With the attempted land grab, Putin created a new narrative in which the war was no longer a Russian intervention inside Ukraine against Ukrainian troops but a defensive war on Russian territory against a hostile NATO.

Elon Musk blocks Ukraine from using Starlink in Crimea over concern that Putin could use nuclear weapons: report


Elon Musk personally rejected a Ukrainian request to extend his satellite internet service to Crimea, the SpaceX CEO fearing that an effort to retake the peninsula from Russian forces could lead to a nuclear war, according to a report published Tuesday.

Following Russia's February invasion of Ukraine, Musk — and the US government — provided Kyiv with thousands of Starlink systems, enabling Ukrainian forces to communicate in what were previously dead zones. The low energy requirements of the service's satellite receivers have enabled it to be connected to reconnaissance drones, Yahoo News reported, providing valuable, real-time intelligence on Russian movements and the ability to target them.

But recently there have been problems. Last week, the Financial Times reported that the service was suffering "catastrophic" outages on the frontlines, prompting speculation that it had been shut off in areas controlled by Russia — perhaps to prevent the Kremlin from itself exploiting the network.

How Likely Is Nuclear War? Expert Explains Threat of Russia, North Korea

Virginia Allen 

Russia has threatened to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine. How serious are those threats? Is the United States prepared to respond in the face of a nuclear attack? And what role do China and North Korea play in the discussion of nuclear war?

“We’ve been hearing threat after threat, nuclear threat after nuclear threat against Ukraine,” Patty-Jane Geller, a Heritage Foundation senior policy analyst in nuclear deterrence and missile defense, says.

“Is the threat likely? Probably not. I don’t see how using a nuclear weapon against Ukraine would really help [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and help his war aims. The Ukrainians aren’t going to surrender. But that doesn’t mean that the chances that he’ll use a nuclear weapon are zero, either,” she says.

Geller joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to explain the true threat of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, and why North Korea is testing its missile capabilities.

New National Security Strategy Returns Focus to Rules, Partnerships, and American Leadership


The new National Security Strategy is a pitch of sorts, both to reassure U.S. allies that Washington still wants to lead on international rules, norms, ideals, and partnerships; and to convince the American people that such leadership will improve their own lives.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration released an unclassified version of the long-awaited document—it arrives seven months after the Defense Department submitted its classified National Defense Strategy—echoes its predecessor’s 2017 version in its focus on great power competition and China in particular. But the new strategy’s emphasis on America’s place in the international rules-based order marks a return from the Trump administration’s departure, and it also downgrades the Russian threat to “acute,” a step below China’s “pacing challenge.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine delayed the strategy’s release but also vindicates the administration’s approach, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Wednesday.

We Are Suddenly Taking On China and Russia at the Same Time

Thomas L. Friedman

In case you haven’t noticed, let me alert you to a bracing turn of events: The U.S. is now in conflict with Russia and China at the same time. Grandma always said, “Never fight Russia and China at the same time.” So did Henry Kissinger. Alas, there is a strong case in the national interest for confronting both today. But have no doubt: We are in uncharted waters. I just hope that these are not our new “forever wars.”

The struggle with Russia is indirect, but obvious, escalating and violent. We are arming the Ukrainians with smart missiles and intelligence to force the Russians to withdraw from Ukraine. While taking nothing away from the bravery of the Ukrainians, the U.S. and NATO’s support has played a giant role in Ukraine’s battlefield successes. Just ask the Russians. But how does this war end? No one can tell you.

Today, though, I want to focus on the struggle with China, which is less visible and involves no shooting, because it is being fought mostly with transistors that toggle between digital 1s and 0s. But it will have as big, if not bigger, an impact on the global balance of power as the outcome of the combat between Russia and Ukraine. And it has little to do with Taiwan.

France is haunted by civil war


Ranks of men in uniform are bombarded with Molotov cocktails, makeshift mortars, and small arms fire. Commando units prepare to infiltrate a smoke-covered urban fortress. A city burns under the watchful eye of the press, reporting on “a civil war”.

This isn’t the siege of Aleppo, it’s a scene from Romain Gavras’s Athena, set in one of France’s burning banlieues. Amid the smoke grenades, police and Athenians engage in brutal fighting at close quarters, with metal rods and batons. Later, the police use fire ladders to scale the walls of a tower block. Athenians on wheels circle around a beleaguered police testudo, firing makeshift mortars at point blank range. Men on both sides are visibly shell-shocked.

Athena, a fictitious banlieue, has taken up arms following the death of 13-year-old Idir, apparently at the hands of local police officers. A viral video seemed to confirm it. But rather than being just another anti-cop movie protesting police brutality, Athena never makes it clear whether the police did actually kill Idir. The audience is denied a clear, anti-racist, political message. We are left to choose our own villains.

The End of the Post-Soviet Order How Putin’s War Has Hurt Russia in Central Asia and the Caucasus

Marlene Laruelle

The Kremlin has struggled to contain the fallout of its invasion of Ukraine. It did not imagine that its war would inspire sustained unity among Western countries, nor that the Ukrainian army would resist so well, nor that it would need to partly mobilize the Russian population, a drastic measure with potentially disastrous domestic consequences. A war intended to restore Russian strength has instead left the country weaker.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sees Ukraine as part of Russia’s rightful sphere of influence, but because of his invasion, that sphere of influence is contracting. Russia is losing ground in regions where it has long held sway. Nowhere is this more apparent than among the countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Indeed, the broad region to Russia’s south seems to be undergoing a tectonic shift away from Moscow for many interconnected reasons.

Overstretched, Russia no longer seems able to serve as a guarantor of regional security for local regimes. The war and its blatant violation of international norms shocked governments and some segments of publics in the region, rocking their faith in Russia. And the invasion has raised questions about the abiding colonial legacy of Russian power and the need for the countries to its south to shed that imperial baggage. Russia’s debacle in Ukraine has quickened the waning of its primacy in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, and several powers—primarily China and Turkey—stand to benefit. Russia will remain an active and significant player in the region, but it will be in a role much diminished by its war against Ukraine.

Which weapons might the US send to Ukraine?

Ukrainian leaders are pressing the United States and other Western allies for air defence systems and longer-range weapons to keep up the momentum in their counteroffensive against Russia and fight back against Moscow’s intensified attacks.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Wednesday said allies were committed to sending weapons “as fast as we can physically get them there”. He said defence leaders meeting in Brussels were working to send a wide array of systems, ranging from tanks and armoured vehicles to air defence and artillery.

But there are still a number of high-profile, advanced weapons that Ukraine wants and the US will not provide due to political sensitivities, classified technology or limited stockpiles.

A look at some of the weapons Ukraine will or will not get:

What weapons is Ukraine getting?

In a meeting with about 50 defence leaders this week, Austin and US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed plans to send more air defence weapons to Ukraine and increase training for Ukrainian troops.