7 November 2022

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Descending Into Chaos and Full-Scale War

Paul Goble

What had been a long-running local conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan regarding the delimitation of borders and the fate of exclaves has now expanded over the past two weeks to include major military units and the targeting of infrastructure deep within the territory of both countries. As a result, the chance for a full-scale war between the two Central Asian countries has become ever more likely (see EDM, September 23; Ia-centr.ru, October 30). At the same time, a potential agreement resolving border disputes between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan has now sparked protests by Kyrgyzstani citizens opposed to the accord, which threatens to further destabilize the already troubled country and possibly drive it into war (Cabar.asia, November 1). These developments would be serious enough on their own, but they have been compounded by the meddling of outside powers, including Russia, China and the United States (see EDM, February 15, June 22, October 25), as well as the growing threat emanating from Afghanistan for Tajikistan most directly but also for Kyrgyzstan and other parts of Central Asia (see EDM, September 20).

While the Kyrgyzstani-Tajikistani conflict is intertwined with the Kyrgyzstani-Uzbekistani clash, it is far more likely to lead to a major war than the latter, according to Aleksandr Knyazev, a specialist on Central Asia at St. Petersburg State University (Ia-centr.ru, October 30). Knyazev points out that the border clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have not only increasingly involved regular army units from both sides but have also led to the arming of both populations, something that raises the possibility of a partisan war in either country—one that could resemble the anti-Soviet Basmachi movement in the 1920s and 1930s. But what is most worrisome, he says, is that both countries are using drones and other long-distance weaponry to attack regions far from their shared border, including as distant as the Pamirs in southern Tajikistan on its border with Afghanistan.

Kherson braces for battle as the Russia administration evacuates.

Marc Santora and Ivan Nechepurenko

KYIV, Ukraine — With Russian and Ukrainian forces apparently girding to battle for the city of Kherson, signs of Kremlin rule are disappearing from the city’s streets while the remaining residents, unsure what to believe and afraid of what comes next, are stocking up on food and fuel to survive combat.

Russian soldiers, patrols and checkpoints have suddenly become extremely scarce in the city center, according to residents reached by phone on Thursday, and most civilians have left. The Russian tricolor flag, raised over government offices after Moscow’s forces captured Kherson in February, was missing on Thursday from the main regional administrative building and other sites.

Why Xiaomi Left India’s Fintech Market

Hugh Harsono

In October 2022, Xiaomi, the Chinese designer and manufacturer of many consumer electronic devices, solidified its status as the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor behind leaders Apple and Samsung. Xiaomi’s reputation as an affordable smartphone provider, combined with its entire ecosystem of products, services, and software, has helped to fill a relatively large gap in providing economical access to digital services in many developing countries, to include India.

In spite of this success, in late October 2022, Xiaomi pulled its MiPay and MiCredit apps from the Indian market. This move is particularly curious given Xiaomi’s status as India’s top smartphone vendor, despite the sector’s decline in late 2022. The removal of these ancillary business services supported by Xiaomi highlights the increasing desire for governments like India to control data and information more effectively domestically, in contrast to relying on externally sourced technologies prone to state-actor influence.

Xiaomi publicly stated in January 2021 that its products are not “owned, controlled, or affiliated with the Chinese military,” in response to having been designated as a “Communist Chinese military company” by the United States at the time. Though this designation was lifted a few months later in May 2021, there is no doubt that Xiaomi’s independent status could be co-opted by the Chinese government at any given time. This is primarily due to legal mechanisms that could be utilized to force cooperation with Chinese authorities, such as China’s National Intelligence Law and the National Security Law.

How Committed Are China and Russia to Their Strategic Partnership?

Kevin Modlin and Zenel Garcia
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U.S. officials and their counterparts in allied and partner countries increasingly view China’s position on the Russian war in Ukraine as a sign that Beijing has taken “Moscow’s side” and as evidence of a strong strategic partnership. However, events leading up to, and during, the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting support arguments that the Sino-Russian relationship is limited in scope. Specifically, it is a relationship that is narrowly defined by a mutual interest in accelerating the emergence of a multipolar order that places limits on U.S. hegemony. Despite this convergence of interests, the two parties diverge on key aspects of this order. Furthermore, it is evident that Beijing and Moscow have sought to avoid making commitments to each other, which limits their capacity for cooperation, much less coordination on mutual interests. As a result, their bilateral relationship is best understood as a limited strategic partnership.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s September 30 speech on the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson referenced his aspirations for a multipolar order. This has not only been a core component of Russian foreign policy since the 1990s, but also the basis for Sino-Russian relations. This is evident from their “Joint Declaration on a Multipolar World and Establishing a New International Order” in 1997 as well as the founding charter of the SCO in 2002. Additionally, joint statements between the two countries have regularly referred to efforts to promote multipolarity over the past three decades.

What the 20th Party Congress Report Tells Us About China’s AI Ambitions

Jie Gao

At China’s 20th Party Congress, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered a lengthy speech outlining his vision for the next decade. Notably, compared to his report five years ago, Xi dedicated a whole section to technological development and talent management.

While Washington has attempted to slow down China’s advancement in artificial intelligence (AI) with new export controls, Beijing is determined to catch up with a comprehensive set of policy measures. It aims to achieve “great self-reliance and strength in science and technology.”

This article will analyze the implications of the 20th Party Congress report on China’s technological development, focusing on AI.

What Rishi Sunak’s Victory Means for India and Indians

Duygu Çağla Bayram

Following the resignation of Liz Truss after a mere forty-nine-day tenure, Indian-origin Rishi Sunak became the next leader of the United Kingdom’s ruling Conservative Party and the country’s next prime minister, on the day of Diwali, a major Hindu festival. The historic success of a forty-two-year-old Indian politician making it to the top post of India’s former colonial master has again triggered intense interest from India’s diaspora around the world. But more to the point, this victory, hailed as a Barack Obama moment, also means one more sample that encourages and roots the Indian diaspora in the context of self-confidence and self-expression.

The Indian diaspora is one of the most effective weapons of India’s soft power. With over 32 million members, India has the second-largest diaspora in the world after that of China. The power of the Indian diaspora is fueled by its strong organization and lobbying, as well as its members’ high-mettled pursuit of higher education qualifications to prove their worth, which also facilitates their climb of political ladders in the countries where they dwell in. Sunak, a son of conventional immigrant parents of Hindu Punjabi background, told journalist Ben Judah in 2015, “My grandparents came with very little from a village in northern India, and two generations on, their grandson has this enormous privilege of running as a candidate for parliament. For my family, the route was education.”

What China’s Military Reshuffle Means for Asia

 Atul Kumar

On October 23, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) selected new members for its top ruling organs in the 20th National Congress. A sizable number of the CCP’s Central Committee members come from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In addition, China’s supreme military administrative establishment, the Central Military Commission (CMC), underwent a comprehensive reshuffle, and four new members joined. This reshuffle in China’s higher military leadership reflects Beijing’s shifting threat perceptions in the Indo-Pacific. It may yield a variation in China’s military modernization objectives, further influencing the regional security situation.

The CCP’s Central Committee

The CCP’s new Central Committee (CC) consists of 205 members and includes forty-three military representatives, compared to forty-one in the previous CC. About half of this group comes from the PLA Army. The rest consist of members from the Air Force, the Navy, the Strategic Support Force (SSF), the Logistics Support Department, the Rocket Force, and the People’s Armed Police. The Navy has effectively doubled its strength to eight members, up from four in the previous CC. The PLA Air force, however, remains at six members of the CC.

Russia, Ukraine and China, this is the reality of cyber warfare


The war between Russia and Ukraine began months ago but not only is fought through physical attacks, but part of the strategy includes the development of cyber attacks. These breaches of electronic devices belonging to the enemy were recorded in a Microsoft report on digital defense that summarizes these specific incidents in data.

The document prepared by the technology company, called the Microsoft Digital Defense Report, presented this year, indicates an increase of 20%of cyber attacks directed at critical infrastructures that were produced worldwide and detected by Microsoft, bringing this figure to 40%, the highest recorded to date.

This increase, according to the public document, could be explained by the attempt to damage the Ukrainian infrastructure and the aggressive espionage directed at Ukraine's allies, including the United States, which was identified as the country targeted by the most cyberattacks in the world followed by the United United Kingdom.

Russian missile strikes overshadow cyberattacks as Ukraine reels from blackouts

Sean Lyngaas

Russia has pummeled Ukrainian cities with missile and drone strikes for much of the past month, targeting civilians and large swaths of the country’s critical infrastructure.

By Monday, 40% of Kyiv residents were left without water, and widespread power outages were reported across the country. On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of ‘energy terrorism’ and said that about 4.5 million Ukrainian consumers were temporarily disconnected from the power supply.

The destruction exemplifies how indiscriminate bombing remains the Kremlin’s preferred tactic eight months into its war on Ukraine. Moscow’s vaunted hacking capabilities, meanwhile, continue to play a peripheral, rather than central, role in the Kremlin’s efforts to dismantle Ukrainian critical infrastructure.

“Why burn your cyber capabilities, if you’re able to accomplish the same goals through kinetic attacks?” a senior US official told CNN.

But experts who spoke to CNN suggest there is likely more to the question of why Russia’s cyberattacks haven’t made a more visible impact on the battlefield.

The Danger of a "Sleeping" Nuclear Deal: Stronger Russia, China, North Korea, Iran

Majid Rafizadeh

The Biden administration is sitting idly by as the Iranian regime ratchets up, and keeps getting away with, both its attacks on its own fed-up populace, and its delivery of weapons to Russia -- assisted, it seems, by China and North Korea.

In spite of US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley's recently having said that the White House is not going to "waste our time" on the nuclear deal "if nothing's going to happen," he nevertheless stressed that the Biden administration is still committed to employing diplomacy, presumably to revive it at a later date.

Some other officials such as the US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi appear to be still in favor of reviving the nuclear deal. She said on October 25, 2022 that the United States has been "trying for a while now to have a nuclear agreement with Iran so that we can make the world a safer place."

Watch a lone Ukrainian paratrooper single-handedly knock out a Russian tank


This is probably best captured in a new video released by the Ukrainian government showing a Ukrainian paratrooper sneaking up behind a Russian tank and killing it with only two shots.

The footage, released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and apparently taken by drone, shows a Russian tank trundling down a dirt road in a forested part of the country. A single soldier, identified by the defense ministry as a paratrooper, sneaks out of the woods, takes aim with an unidentified anti-tank weapon, and scores a direct hit on the top of the tank, identified by Ukraine Weapons Tracker on Twitter as a T-80BV. The tank veers forward in a plume of smoke, firing back briefly before a second explosion, apparently another strike, blows off its top.

“A soldier of the 95th Air Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine practically destroyed an enemy tank at close range. Glory to Ukraine!” the defense ministry wrote in its caption to the video in Ukrainian.

Good at Being Bad How Dictatorships Endure

Sheri Berman

In the early 1980s, the great scholar of democracy Robert Dahl observed that “in much of the world the conditions most favorable to the development and maintenance of democracy are nonexistent, or at best only weakly present.” Barely had Dahl penned these pessimistic words when it became clear that democracy was on the verge of its greatest historical efflorescence. During the late twentieth century, a democratic wave engulfed the globe, toppling dictator­ships in Africa, Asia, Latin America, southern and eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union. By the beginning of the present century, the world had more democracies than ever before.

If Dahl turned out to be overly gloomy about the future of democracy, however, many of his successors would be far too optimistic. Francis Fukuyama’s often misunderstood concept of “the end of history”—positing that the world had reached “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government”—captured the era’s Zeitgeist. Many other social scientists produced books and articles seeking to fathom this democratic wave and whether the democracies it created would endure. Since Dahl and his counter­parts in the previous generation had not anticipated the wave, the scholarship that arrived in its immediate wake focused less on the preconditions supposedly associated with successful democracy and more on the process of democratic transition. This perspective, which came to be known as “transitology,” argued that the origins of democratic regimes—that is, the way they transitioned from dictatorship to democracy—critically affected their development and chances of success.

US military entering ‘window of maximum danger’

Jamie McIntyre

Rep. Mike Gallagher is one of the strongest voices in Congress advocating a robust U.S. military capable of confronting China and defending American interests around the world. The Princeton University graduate was first elected in 2016 to represent Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District, covering Green Bay and the Badger State's northeastern realm.

Gallagher spent seven years in the Marine Corps, including two tours in Iraq, and holds several advanced degrees, including a Ph.D. in international relations from Georgetown University. Gallagher, 38, spoke with Washington Examiner senior writer on defense and national security Jamie McIntyre about why he believes the United States is entering a "window of maximum danger."

Washington Examiner: You were invited by the Heritage Foundation to preside over the release of its Index of U.S. Military Strength , which rates the readiness of the U.S. Army as “marginal,” the Navy and Space Force as “weak,” and the Air Force as “very weak” — the lowest grades in the nine-year history of the highly respected index. Only the Marine Corps, in which you served, and U.S. nuclear forces were rated “strong." What’s going on?

Rep. Mike Gallagher: I think it's a confluence of a few things. One, notwithstanding an infusion of dollars during the Trump administration to fix some readiness gaps, we've cut the military at a time when threats are increasing. Every budget proposed by recent presidents has amounted to a real term cut, at least the initial budgets [and that's what] the Biden budget was.

China Increases Support for Pakistan’s Naval Modernization with an Eye on the Indian Ocean

Syed Fazl-e-Haider


In mid-July, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and the Pakistan Navy (PN) held the “Sea Guardians-2” exercise in the waters off Shanghai (China Brief, October 4; Pakistan Television, July 12). The joint naval drills focused on neutralizing maritime security threats, particularly those that might jeopardize strategic sea lanes. The bilateral exercise also included joint target practice, anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and anti-missile drills (China Military Online [CMO], July 13). The drills built on the first iteration of the exercise, Sea Guardians-1, which was held in January 2020 in the North Arabian Sea off Karachi, Pakistan. The participation in these exercises of the guided missile frigate Taimur, which is the most advanced warship built by China for the PN, demonstrates the increasing level of Chinese support for the training and modernization of Pakistan’s naval forces (Global Times, July 10).

Bilateral military ties, which are a mainstay of the China-Pakistan all-weather friendship and strategic partnership, have strengthened in recent years. China is the main supplier of military equipment to Pakistan, which from 2017-2021 absorbed nearly 47 percent of all Chinese arms exports (China Brief, March 25). In a move to further deepen defense ties, China provided Pakistan with J-10C multi-role fighters in late 2021 (South Asian Voices , April 12). In June, a high-powered Pakistani delegation comprising top brass from the army, navy and air force paid a visit to China at a time when tensions between China and the West were on the rise (CMO, June 12). The visit was part of the Pakistan-China Joint Military Cooperation Committee (PCJMCC), which is the highest body involved in facilitating bilateral defense cooperation. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa also attended the top-level committee’s meeting, along with senior-most counterparts in the PLA. Both countries vowed to further deepen their strategic partnership in challenging times and enhance their joint military cooperation in training, technology and counterterrorism (Express Tribune , June 12).

“Yan’an Spirit”: The Rise of Xi’s Lieutenants

John S. Van Oudenaren

Days after his dominant showing at the 20th Party Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping led the newly appointed Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) on a visit to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) base of operations in the War with Japan and the Chinese Civil War in Yan’an, Shaanxi (Xinhuanet, October 27). A key theme of the visit was that the CCP’s achievement of political unity in the Yan’an era (1935-1948) enabled it to overcome much stronger foes. The leadership toured the site where the Seventh Party Congress was held in mid-1945 following the “Yan’an Rectification Movement” in which Mao consolidated control of the Party and established Mao Zedong Thought as dogma. The first excursion of a new PBSC is significant as it highlights the leadership’s areas of emphasis for the coming half-decade. Xi opted to visit Yan’an after a Party Congress in which he disregarded many long-held norms concerning leadership turnover in order to stack the Politburo with allies and protégés (China Brief, October 24). In Yan’an, Xi declared: “I have come here to manifest that the new central leadership will inherit and carry forward the glorious traditions and fine work styles of the Party cultivated during the Yan’an Period, and carry forward the Yan’an Spirit.” He defined the Yan’an Spirit as “adhering to the firm and correct political direction, emancipating the mind and seeking truth from facts, observing the principle of serving the people wholeheartedly, and practicing self-reliance and hard work” (People’s Daily, October 28). In identifying the new leadership with the “Yan’an spirt,” Xi is framing his recent consolidation of power as motivated not by self-interest, but by the imperative to unite the Party in challenging times.

The 20th Party Congress: Xi Jinping Exerts Overwhelming Control Over Personnel, but Offers No Clues on Reviving the Economy

Willy Wo-Lap Lam

General Secretary Xi Jinping has scored an overwhelming victory at the recently concluded 20th Party Congress and the First Plenum of the new Central Committee. Xi’s picks for the Politburo and its Standing Committee consist of unalloyed supporters, but these officials are also largely apparatchiks with expertise in areas such as ideology, propaganda and “party construction,” with a near-total absence of pragmatically minded technocrats experienced in finance and economics among them. As a result, most of Xi’s conservative, quasi-Maoist policies, including the zero-COVID policy, appear set to endure into the foreseeable future.

A Clean Sweep for the Xi Jinping Faction

In the new Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC)—the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner sanctum of power—Xi remains General Secretary and Chairman of the Party’s Central Military Commission (CMC). The other six PBSC members are considered members of the Xi Jinping Faction (XJPF). Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang (李强), who worked under Xi in Zhejiang Province from 2002 to 2007, will become premier. Other Xi allies in the supreme decision-making body include incumbent PBSC members: Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) Zhao Leji (赵乐际), who will become Chairman of the National People’s Congress; and chief ideologue Wang Huning (王沪宁), who will become Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. In addition to Li Qiang, three other key Xi protégés earned promotions: Beijing Party Secretary Cai Qi (蔡奇), who likely become the new Head of the Central Committee Secretariat; Guangdong Party Secretary Li Xi (李希),who will become the next CCDI Secretary); and Director of the CCP General Office and Head of the Xi Jinping Office Ding Xuexiang (丁薛祥), who will likely become executive vice premier (Xinhuanet, October 23; Ming Pao, October 23; Nikkei Asia, October 23).

The Russia-Ukraine War: Has Beijing Abandoned Pragmatic Diplomacy?

Justyna Szczudlik


Chinese diplomats contend that Beijing’s position on the “Russia-Ukraine conflict” (俄乌冲突 E wu chongtu) or the “Ukraine issue” (乌克兰问题, Wukelan wenti ) is “consistent and clear” (一贯的、明确的, yiguan de, mingque de) (People’s Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs [FMPRC], May 5). However, China’s paradoxical stance on the Russia-Ukraine War underscores the difficulties that Beijing faces in carrying out sophisticated diplomacy. This has already had repercussions for China’s national interests and ability to achieve its foreign policy objectives. Therefore, any change of course by Beijing coming out of the recently concluded 20th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress, appears unlikely.

Throughout the Russia-Ukraine War, China has neither condemned Russia, nor endorsed Ukraine for its resistance and self-defense. However, official discourse indicates the PRC’s supportive posture towards Russia. For example, Beijing consistently accuses the West, primarily the U.S., of provoking Moscow through “constant eastward expansion by NATO” (北约不断东扩, beiyue buduan dong kuo). During his recent visit to Russia, National People’s Congress Standing Committee Chairman Li Zhanshu (栗战书) stated that China “understands and supports Russia” and echoed the Kremlin’s narrative that “the United States and NATO are expanding directly on Russia’s doorstep, threatening its national security and the lives of its citizens” (Twitter, September 13). Furthermore, in the first phone call between Chinese FM, Wang Yi (王毅) and his Russian counterpart Sergiei Lavrov following the 20th Party Congress, Wang said that China “firmly supports the Russian side, under the leadership of President Putin, to unite and lead the Russian people to overcome difficulties, eliminate disturbances, realize the strategic development goals and further establish Russia’s status as a major power on the international stage” (FMPRC, October 27). He also expressed China’s desire to deepen exchanges with Russia at all levels in order to promote international stability in a turbulent world.

Cybersecurity is an Infinite Game

Bob Gourley

Game theory, the study of competition and conflict, tells us there are two types of games: Finite Games and Infinite Games. Knowing which one you are playing is key to making optimal decisions.

Finite games are those that have a beginning and an end. The objective of a finite game is to win. The game ends when all sides know who the winner is. Examples of finite games include most battles in a traditional war; they end when there is a decisive victory. Sporting events are examples of more peaceable finite games.

Infinite games go on forever, as if they have no beginning and no end. At any one time a player may be ahead or behind, but the game continues as long as the players play. Examples of infinite games include the dynamics of business competition. There is no finish line in business.Espionage is an infinite game. A particular operation may be thwarted and agents arrested, but spies are going to spy.

Conflict is an infinite game. A particular battle or war may be a finite game with a winner, but the broader human conflict always continues.

Crime and law enforcement is an infinite game. Individual players may be taken off the field, but crime and law enforcement will never stop.

Global Crypto and Digital Currency Initiatives: U.S. Crypto, Digital Assets and National Security Policy

Daniel Pereira

We continue with our survey of crypto and digital currency initiatives from around the globe, all of which are officially sanctioned to enhance national competitive advantage (in the event crypto overtakes the US dollar as the global reserve currency). It is the cumulative adoption rate of state-sanctioned crypto and digital currency legalization and regulation that will propel this innovative system for value exchange as a global currency standard.

In previous posts, we provided an analysis of crypto and digital currency initiatives in Pakistan, Vietnam, Colombia, China, El Salvador, Panama, Ukraine, India, Argentina, and Russia.

We now return to the U.S. to evaluate crypto and digital asset initiatives announced via executive order in March of this year.

Anticipating What’s in Biden’s Cybersecurity Strategy

Emilio Iasiello

The Biden Administration recently published its National Security Strategy (NSS), a document that defines the government’s overall strategic priorities, and thereby serving as a guidelines for all U.S. government agencies. As such, it is the underpinning for agency-specific and other strategic documents like the Department of Defense’s National Defense Strategy and the forthcoming U.S. Government’s Cybersecurity Strategy. The NSS is a broad, high-level document focusing on two core strategic challenges – geopolitical competition and shared transnational threats, identifying both China and Russia as the United States primary adversaries. Per the strategy, China is the threat that the United States will “prioritize maintaining an enduring competitive edge over,” while Russia is the threat the United States will work toward constraining globally.

While referenced throughout the document, the strategy gave limited insight into how cybersecurity fits into the larger strategy, though the Administration’s dedicated cyber strategy is expected to be released sometime over the next couple of months. The small section in the NSS dedicated to “Securing Cyberspace” does not necessarily present a novel approach to grappling the challenges of the cyber ecosystem with respect to combatting the threats that have loomed, developed, and lingered for the past decade. The need to secure infrastructure, establish international norms of behavior for state activity, bolster international relationships and law enforcement cooperation, and counter hostile cyber activity are mainstay issues that consistently need to be addressed due to the dynamism of cyberspace.