27 October 2022

Russia’s Recruiting Afghan Commandos

Lynne O’Donnell

Members of Afghanistan’s elite National Army Commando Corps, who were abandoned by the United States and Western allies when the country fell to the Taliban last year, say they are being contacted with offers to join the Russian military to fight in Ukraine. Multiple Afghan military and security sources say the U.S.-trained light infantry force, which fought alongside U.S. and other allied special forces for almost 20 years, could make the difference Russia needs on the Ukrainian battlefield.

Afghanistan’s 20,000 to 30,000 volunteer commandos were left behind when the United States ceded Afghanistan to the Taliban in August 2021 . Only a few hundred senior officers were evacuated when the republic collapsed. Thousands of soldiers escaped to regional neighbors as the Taliban hunted down and killed loyalists to the collapsed government. Many of the commandos who remain in Afghanistan are in hiding to avoid capture and execution.

In China, It’s One Man, One Ideology, One Party

 Henry Gao

At the closing session of the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), General Secretary Xi Jinping announced that the meeting had been a “complete success.” And it certainly was—but only for one person: Xi himself. He was able to achieve all of his objectives: one vision, one leader, and one party.

As Xi announced in the closing session, the first benchmark of success was the unification of vision within the party, which he described as “Chinese-style modernization,” a term that has evolved over the course of the last few decades.

Modernization has been the goal of China since its humiliating defeat in the Opium Wars. The CCP kept emphasizing the idea after it took power in 1949, but most people in China today would associate the concept with Deng Xiaoping, who made the goal of reform to achieve the Four Modernizations—industry, agriculture, national defense, and science and technology—after he came to power in 1978.

The New US National Security Strategy: Four Takeaways for Asia Policy

Ryan Neuhard


On October 12, 2022, the US government published a new National Security Strategy (NSS). The White House issues the unclassified NSS to define the overall strategic priorities and guidelines for all US government agencies and to serve as a foundation for agency-specific strategic documents, like the classified National Defense Strategy (NDS) and the not-yet updated National Military Strategy (NMS).

The NSS must cover a comprehensive range of topics and as a result there is a lot of nuanced information packed into the document. Analysts will be dissecting each section and drawing many conclusions in the coming days and weeks. However, here are at least four key points that stand out:

Prioritizing China and Russia

When triaging the challenges posed by other nations, the NSS explicitly prioritizes China, then Russia, followed by all others. In the section that defines the strategy by region, the Indo-Pacific is addressed first, followed immediately by Europe, then all other regions. For example, the NSS states:

Chinese Economy Has A Fatal Flaw: Real Estate

Alicia Garcia-Herrero

Chinese real estate developers are desperate to recover from the prolonged lockdowns driven by China’s zero-COVID-19 policy. But the slowdown in home sales is also related to the collapse of household confidence in the country’s real estate market.

The mortgage boycott in China is a direct consequence of the bankruptcies of an increasing number of developers. In 2021, real estate giant Evergrande left behind 1.3 million incomplete housing units for which Chinese households had already used their savings to make large down payments.

Some Chinese households have stopped servicing their mortgages for homes that remain incomplete. According to public data, the average delay in home completions has reached 14 months. Luckily, only a fraction of these cases triggered mortgage payment boycotts.

White House denies talk of national security review of Elon Musk ventures

Dan Milmo

US officials are considering whether to subject some of Elon Musk’s business ventures to national security reviews, including his proposed acquisition of Twitter and his satellite internet company Starlink, according to a report.

Bloomberg wrote on Friday that Biden administration officials were concerned by the Tesla chief executive’s plan to buy Twitter in a deal part-funded by non-US investors and his recent threat to pull the plug on the Starlink service to Ukraine, as well as the publication of a series of tweets containing proposals over the Ukraine conflict favourable to the Putin regime.

The report said US officials were concerned by Musk’s plans to buy Twitter with the financial support of non-US investors, including: the Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud; Qatar Holding, which is part of the Qatar Investment Authority; and Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, whose holding company is registered in the Cayman Islands. At the time, the financial support of Musk’s co-investors was worth about $7bn.

Official: China mining more coal but increasing wind, solar


BEIJING (AP) — China plans to boost coal production through 2025 to avoid a repeat of last year’s power shortages, an official said Monday, adding to setbacks in efforts to cut climate-changing carbon emissions from the biggest global source.

China is a big investor in wind and solar, but jittery Communist Party leaders called for more coal-fired power after economic growth slumped last year and shortages caused blackouts. That prompted warnings that carbon emissions will rise faster through 2030, when they government says they should peak.

The ruling party aims for annual coal production to rise to 4.6 billion tons in 2025, a deputy director of the Cabinet’s National Energy Administration, Ren Jingdong, said at a news conference held during a ruling party congress. That would be a 12% increase over last year’s 4.1 billion tons.


Elizabeth Buchanan

The age of Arctic exceptionalism is gone: the high north region is no longer a protected sphere of Russia-West engagement and dialogue. The decision in March by Arctic Council states to suspend cooperation with Moscow in the Arctic was immediately welcomed but might yet prove to be rather shortsighted. Coupled with enduring capability gaps in which Washington has merely two icebreakers (old girls prone to fires and breakdowns), with Russia’s count in the vicinity of forty, the United States has essentially put its Arctic interests in the crosshairs by suspending dialogue with Russia.

There is a price for isolating Moscow in the Arctic—where geography legitimately assigns Russia more than half of the theater. The ability to maintain control of Washington’s own Arctic frontier is complicated by a litany of second-order effects that stem from the cessation of dialogue with Russia in the Arctic context. Washington should expect new Arctic players, namely China and India, in its polar backyard. The region is set to become a more crowded, and contested, strategic theater.

Was Xi Behind Hu’s Dramatic Exit From the 20th CCP Congress? .

Samantha Hoffman

On Saturday, former Chinese Communist Party general secretary Hu Jintao was dramatically removed from the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, as the 20th party congress came to a close. Footage of the closing ceremony, recorded for the world’s media to see, showed two men escorting Hu from his seat as General Secretary Xi Jinping, directly next to him, looked on and offered no assistance.

State media outlet Xinhua claimed that Hu was escorted out because he ‘was not feeling well’. That might be true. But the scenes also might have depicted something more sinister. Hu appeared confused as he was pulled away and tried to sit back down. Other top party leaders appeared surprised too. Previous National People’s Congress chairman Li Zhanshu (a Xi ally who on Saturday, as expected, was left off the CCP Central Committee, a group of 205 top party officials, and is no longer on the Politburo Standing Committee) appeared to try to assist Hu.

But, Wang Huning, a top adviser and ally of Xi, then seemed to tug Li back. Maybe he was encouraging Li not to become involved; maybe he knew something that Li did not. We don’t know. So, analysts should consider all possibilities, including that Xi deliberately orchestrated the incident to publicly humiliate his visibly ageing predecessor.

What are the priorities for the new UK prime minister?

Antony Froggatt,Email Antony LinkedIn

Experts from across Chatham House’s research programmes give their insights on a range of issues facing Rishi Sunak as he becomes UK prime minister, covering energy prices, the climate change agenda, war in Ukraine, China and the Indo-Pacific, Africa, the US, global health, international law and security, science and technology, trade, and the global economic crisis.

Rising energy prices

The social and economic impact of high energy prices this winter may be greater than that of COVID-19. However, in contrast to the pandemic, there has been ample warning of the expected scale of this crisis.

The European Union (EU) gets much more of its energy from Russia than the UK does, but all are part of a largely informal European price zone which is why UK consumers are now facing, what would have been to many, unimaginable bills despite no longer importing energy from Russia.

The Age of Inflation Easy Money, Hard Choices

Kenneth S. Rogoff

Coming on the heels of the pandemic-induced economic slowdown, the inflation crisis of the past two years seemed to catch much of the world by surprise. After three decades in which prices grew slowly across the world’s advanced economies, suddenly the United Kingdom, the United States, and the eurozone were contending with near or above double-digit inflation. Prices across many emerging markets and developing economies have risen even faster, for example, with inflation exceeding 80 percent in Turkey and nearing 100 percent in Argentina.

True, the worldwide inflation of the 2020s does not yet rival the worst inflation crises of past decades. In the 1970s, annual price increases in the United States stayed above six percent for ten years, reaching 14 percent in 1980; inflation in Japan and the United Kingdom peaked at over 20 percent. For low- and middle-income countries, the early 1990s were even worse: more than 40 such countries had inflation rates above 40 percent, with some reaching 1,000 percent or more. Still, in 2021 and 2022, the global economy moved in a deeply worrisome direction as governments and policymakers belatedly discovered they were facing runaway price increases amid a war in Ukraine and other large-scale shocks.

Russia’s Drone Strategy In Ukraine Exposed

Jack Buckby

New deliveries of Iranian drones and missiles to Russia not only pose a threat to Ukraine in the short term but could be part of a ploy by Russia to weaken Ukraine in preparation for a future attack; that’s the message from experts this week.

The rumored strategy was revealed after Iran reportedly promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles and yet more drones, according to two Iranian diplomats who spoke to Reuters last week.

The news comes after Iran initially denied that drones were being sent to Russia for use in Ukraine and follows weeks of drone strikes in Ukraine by Russian forces hoping to hinder the Ukrainian counter-offensive’s progress.

The officials confirmed that a deal was agreed on October 6 when Iranian First Vice President Mohammed Mokhber visited Moscow for talks with Russia alongside senior officials from the Supreme National Security Council and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Sun Tzu’s advice to Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin seems like he made up his mind for a protracted war. This war didn’t have three things from the beginning: the chance of winning, an effective strategy, and an exit. That is why Putin is stalling for time.

Even though the war is protracted, it doesn’t mean it will last a long period. The fate of this war hinges on three pillars: Russia’s defense industry, its army, and how the Russian people think. Even one broken pillar would bring a chain reaction, stopping the economy, which can threaten the power of Putin.

Russia said it would draft 300,000 soldiers, but we are not sure whether the Russian military would be able to feed them and provide weapons and ammunition. They are not trained. The military leadership is poor. Reserve conscripts could fight at the line of defense, but the possibility of losing significant and making captives becomes higher. At the initial stage of the war, Russia promoted patriotism, but the war, economy, and people's condition declined day by day, eventually causing a backlash.

China Will Fight A Taiwan War On Its Own Terms

Mark Harrison

Last Sunday, the head of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, addressed the party’s 20th national congress in Beijing. In dense jargon, Xi spoke for two hours on the party’s achievements and its challenges in building the ‘new China’. He said, ‘We have fully and faithfully applied the new development philosophy on all fronts, focused on promoting high-quality development, and worked to create a new pattern of development.’

He described a China in crisis at the start of his term as chairman in 2012, with ‘misguided patterns of thinking such as money worship, hedonism, egocentricity and historical nihilism’ and in which ‘systems for safeguarding national security were inadequate’. And he talked about how the party has addressed these issues: ‘We have adopted the Five-Sphere Integrated Plan and the Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy as well as the general principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability, and we have worked to both pursue development and safeguard security.’

Russia’s Ukraine Disaster Exposes China’s Military Weakness

Tai Ming Cheung

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stirred fears that China could similarly move on Taiwan. By this logic, shared among foreign and security policy thinkers across the American mainstream, Putin’s floundering conquest of the eastern European nation on NATO’s doorstep shattered international norms and expanded the policy menu for the world’s other leading irredentist strongman, Xi Jinping.

But this line of argument has a fundamental flaw. In Beijing, the conflict in Europe serves not as a green-light for China’s military campaign against Taiwan, but as an invaluable opportunity for Chinese war planners to learn about their own battlefield vulnerabilities at someone else’s expense. Beijing is not in a state of reckless escalation or suicidal. To the contrary, Chinese military planners view their own military capabilities with marked caution, and eight months into the war in Ukraine Russia’s serial failures have amounted to a drawn-out approximation of what a rash or poorly prepared Chinese campaign in Taiwan might look like. From a strictly military perspective, the Ukraine crisis has very likely pushed the timeline for Chinese attack against Taiwan backwards, not forwards.

Biden Issues New Order to Block Chinese Investment in Technology in the U.S.

David E. Sanger

WASHINGTON — President Biden signed an executive order on Thursday designed to sharpen the federal government’s powers to block Chinese investment in technology in the United States and limit its access to private data on citizens, in a move that is bound to heighten tensions with Beijing.

The new order is designed to focus the actions of the secretive Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, created by Congress nearly a half-century ago. For years the committee’s powers were limited largely to blocking the foreign acquisition of American firms that might have a direct impact on national security — a military contractor, for example.

But the most far-reaching part of Mr. Biden’s new order, and potentially the most important element in coming months, directs the committee to consider whether a pending deal involves the purchase of a business with access to Americans’ sensitive data, and whether a foreign company or government could exploit that information.

Full text of resolution on 19th CPC Central Committee report

Huang Panyue

BEIJING - The following is the full text of the Resolution of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on the Report of the 19th Central Committee adopted at the closing session of the 20th CPC National Congress Saturday.

Resolution of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on the Report of the 19th Central Committee

Adopted on October 22, 2022

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) approves the report presented by Comrade Xi Jinping on behalf of the 19th CPC Central Committee. The Congress has held high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics; adhered to Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development; and fully applied Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

Rishi Sunak: A quick guide to the UK’s new prime minister

He won after running for the second time this year

He lost to Liz Truss in September, but she resigned six weeks later. In the latest leadership contest, Mr Sunak racked up the support of his fellow MPs early, and fast. He crossed the 100 nominations he needed long before the deadline - including from MPs that had previously backed Truss or Boris Johnson.

He 'predicted' financial problems under Truss

He clashed with the former PM during the previous leadership race, claiming her plan to borrow money during an inflation crisis was a "fairytale" that would plunge the economy into chaos.

He is the son of immigrants

His parents came to the UK from east Africa and are both of Indian origin. Mr Sunak was born in Southampton in 1980, where his father was a GP and his mother ran a pharmacy. He went to the boarding school Winchester College, then studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, and business at Stanford in America. He is now the first British Asian prime minister.

How the FBI stumbled in the war on cybercrime

Renee Dudley and Daniel Golden

Investigating cybercrime was supposed to be the FBI’s third-highest priority, behind terrorism and counterintelligence. Yet, in 2015, FBI Director James Comey realized that his Cyber Division faced a brain drain that was hamstringing its investigations.

Retention in the division had been a chronic problem, but in the spring of that year, it became acute. About a dozen young and midcareer cyber agents had given notice or were considering leaving, attracted by more lucrative jobs outside government. As the resignations piled up, Comey received an unsolicited email from Andre McGregor, one of the cyber agents who had quit. In his email, the young agent suggested ways to improve the Cyber Division. Comey routinely broadcast his open-door policy, but senior staff members were nevertheless aghast when they heard an agent with just six years’ experience in the bureau had actually taken him up on it. To their consternation, Comey took McGregor’s email and the other cyber agents’ departures seriously. “I want to meet these guys,” he said. He invited the agents to Washington from field offices nationwide for a private lunch. As news of the meeting circulated throughout headquarters, across divisions and into the field, senior staff openly scorned the cyber agents, dubbing them “the 12 Angry Men,” “the Dirty Dozen” or just “these assholes.” To the old-schoolers — including some who had risked their lives in service to the bureau — the cyber agents were spoiled prima donnas, not real FBI.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Blockchain Technology

Veera Budhi

A blockchain is a network of decentralized and distributed data (ledger), meaning the users share the ownership and management of the network through computer nodes. As a database, blockchain stores information in a digital format.

Blockchain technology stores data in blocks and link them together to form a chain. The blocks have a specific capacity and, when filled, are closed and linked to the previous block. Any newly added information after the last block is compiled into a newly formed block and added to the chain once filled.

Blockchain is famous for its critical role in cryptocurrency systems like Bitcoin. It maintains a decentralized and secure record of crypto transactions. Therefore, blockchain can guarantee the fidelity and security of data records and generate the need for a third party.

In Russia’s war against Ukraine, are ‘a coup or a nuke’ the only endgames left?

Joshua Keating

The longer the war in Ukraine lasts, the harder it gets to imagine how it might end.

For one thing, both sides appear as all-in as ever. Last week, Russia launched missiles and Iranian “kamikaze” drones at Kyiv and Lviv and other heavily populated areas, and took aim at Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Ukrainian forces, meanwhile, continued their advances on territory that Russia had claimed as its own, in a series of “annexations” just three weeks ago. Russian President Vladimir Putin is under heavy domestic pressure to use a heavier hand in the war, and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy uses his nightly addresses to the nation to make clear that his country will not rest until — at a minimum — Ukraine controls all the land it did prior to the Russian invasion.

There is no give at the moment on either side.

In the early days of the conflict, it was possible to imagine the fall of Kyiv to the Russians or a negotiated settlement that left a significant portion of Ukrainian territory in Russian hands. But Ukraine’s resistance and the international support it received exceeded most expectations, while Russia’s forces underperformed. All of which knocked those scenarios off the table.

Ukrainian recovery funding must be tied to anti-corruption

Josh Rudolph and Norman Eisen

Given how valiantly Ukrainians are defending the front lines of the free world, a morally and politically difficult job will fall to the leaders of the United States and the European Union: They will have to insist on sending Ukraine hundreds of billions of dollars for recovery and reconstruction only if the aid architecture and reform agenda aggressively prioritize anti-corruption. Protecting aid money from corruption and pressing forward with reform in Kyiv is essential for Ukrainian sovereignty, the country’s EU accession, and the integrity of Western tax dollars. Strong anti-corruption commitments and performance are key to Ukraine emerging from this devastating war with a modern democracy and fair economy worthy of such historic sacrifice.

Incorporating anti-corruption into a Modern Marshall Plan for Ukraine calls for swift and extensive planning. The need for transparency, accountability, and integrity is a critically important part of discussions about how to fund Ukrainian recovery that commenced at a conference in Lugano in July and will continue with a follow-on conference in Berlin on October 25. As scholars at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and the Brookings Institution—two institutions historically involved in the original Marshall Plan—we feel an obligation to offer independent policy ideas for how the governments of the G7 and other donor countries can incorporate anti-corruption into the process of funding the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine.

The ships full of gas waiting off Europe’s coast

Chris Baraniuk

Cooled to roughly -160C for transportation, the fossil fuel is in very high demand. Yet the ships remain at sea with their prized cargo.

After invading Ukraine in February, Russia curtailed gas supplies to Europe, sparking an energy crisis that sent the price of gas soaring. That led to fears of energy shortages and eye-watering bills for consumers.

"It's built up for about, I would say, five to six weeks," says Augustin Prate, vice president of energy and commodity markets at Kayrros, one of many observers who has watched the situation unfold.

He and colleagues track ships via AIS (Automatic Identification System) signals, which are broadcast by vessels to receivers, including on satellites.

Getting to Negotiations Why it's so hard to find a route to a diplomatic resolution in Ukraine

Lawrence Freedman

The regular calls for negotiations to end Russia’s war with Ukraine tend to be more directed at Kyiv or Washington than Moscow, as if they are the main stumbling blocks. Yet it is Vladimir Putin that is demanding that this war leads to a fundamental change in borders and political arrangements, that on any reading of international law he has no right to demand. Vladimir Putin does not preclude talks, but only so long as Russia is allowed to hold on to occupied territory, and even territory from which it has had to retreat. Volodymyr Zelensky demands withdrawal, and while at the start of war he might have been ready to go back to position of 23 February 2022 he now expects to go to the position of eight years earlier before Russia annexed Crimea.

The problem is not just that this gap looks, for the moment, to be unbridgeable but also that Putin has so far refused to scale down his demands to meet his diminished power. His past duplicity undermines any confidence Ukraine might have that a deal once reached would be honoured. Not only are the two sets of demands incompatible but there is no trust. There are any number of proposals around describing ‘deals’ that might end the war, as if this was equivalent to a business transaction that could be settled with a handshake. Ending this war in a way that leads to as stable a relationship that is possible between these two countries, after one has been viciously attacked and the other humiliated in battle, will require addressing issues that would be complex under the best of circumstances, and these are the worst.

Afghan Militants Have China in Their Crosshairs

Haiyun Ma

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “China dream” is actually “China’s daydream of imperialism,” according to a recent article published by the Islamic State-Khorasan—the Afghanistan-based branch of the Islamic State terrorist movement. China has been a relatively low-value target for Islamist movements—but that may be changing. The Islamic State-Khorasan criticized China’s global economic expansion and maltreatment of Uyghurs in a Sept. 2 article in its English-language Voice of Khorasan. The article appeared shortly following the Aug. 31 United Nations report detailing China’s repressive policies targeting Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. It is a major renewal of war rhetoric after the Islamic State previously stopped talking about China.

This critique of Chinese imperialism marks a new development in the Islamic State’s militant rhetoric against China’s rising economic clout in the Middle East and Central Asia. The Islamic State released several notable statements, including a condemnation of China’s Uyghur policy in 2014, the execution of Chinese hostages in Pakistan in 2015, and direct threats against the Chinese government in 2017. Since then, however, the Islamic State has almost entirely ignored the plight of the Uyghurs and made no further claims calling for attacks on Chinese interests in its propaganda and media channels.


Ken Klippenstein

THE SAUDI-LED oil cartel OPEC+’s announcement earlier this month that it was cutting 2 million barrels of oil per day — a move that would drive up the price of oil just a month before midterm elections — rankled Democrats in Washington. They accused Riyadh of aligning itself with Russia, another powerful member of OPEC+, which would indeed profit off the move. “What Saudi Arabia did to help Putin continue to wage his despicable, vicious war against Ukraine will long be remembered by Americans,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

But Saudi Arabia actually pushed to cut oil production twice as much as Russian President Vladimir Putin, surprising the Russians, two Saudi sources with knowledge of the negotiations told The Intercept, suggesting that Riyadh’s motives run deeper than what top Democrats want to admit. The sources requested anonymity, fearing reprisal by the Saudi government.