12 November 2022

“Wonder Weapons” Will Not Win Russia’s War Russia’s turn to kamikaze drones is premised on a flawed strategy.


As the Second World War turned against the Axis powers, a desperate Germany increasingly pinned its hopes on a series of wunderwaffen—"wonder weapons”—to save it from eventual defeat. These included some of the first cruise and ballistic missiles, which were, for the most part, weapons of terror. Beginning in mid-June 1944, Germany unleashed a barrage of some 6,725 V-1 cruise missiles and 1,400 V-2 ballistic missiles, many of which targeted London, in an effort to break British morale. The campaign caused tens of thousands of British casualties, but ultimately proved ineffectual. Britain fought on.

Three-quarters of a century later, Russia faces a similar predicament. Its invasion of Ukraine has gone badly. With its army increasingly in shambles, Russia has turned to attacking Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure with its own class of “wonder weapons”—in the form of Iranian-made kamikaze drones—in an effort to destroy Ukrainians’ will to fight. These tactics will inflict pain on the Ukrainian population, certainly, but if history is any guide, they will not forestall a Russian defeat.

Why Japan Is Gearing Up for Possible War With China

Hal Brands

If China were to attack Taiwan, it wouldn’t just have to face a hostile superpower. It would also likely have to confront its longstanding regional rival, Japan. For centuries, Japan and China have vied for hegemony in East Asia; at times, they have threatened each other’s survival. Today, as I found from three days of meetings with Japanese officials and analysts in Tokyo, the threat of Chinese aggression is producing a quiet revolution in Japanese statecraft — and pushing the nation to get ready for a fight.

For the US, China is a dangerous but distant challenge. For Japan, China is the existential danger next door. Years before American leaders were proclaiming the return of great-power rivalry, Japanese officials were warning that Beijing was up to no good. As China’s capabilities become more formidable and its conduct in the Taiwan Strait more menacing, Tokyo’s concerns grew more acute.

The weather may have been beautiful when I visited the capital, but there is very much a sense that storms are on the horizon. “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow,” warned Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in June. The same month, some 90% of the Japanese public believed the country should prepare for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. That was before Chinese leader Xi Jinping ratcheted tensions by firing ballistic missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.

Russia’s Kherson Defeat: The End Of Putin’s Regime?

Alexander Motyl

General Sergei Surovikin, the commander of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, has just announced that Russia is retreating to the left bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson province. If this actually happens, the Russians will have also abandoned the provincial capital of Kherson, a city of 284,000 that they’ve occupied since the early days of the war.

Here’s what the official Russian propaganda outlet RIA Novosti had to say: “It is appropriate to organize defense along the barrier border of the Dnipro River, on its left bank…. The decision to defend the left bank of the Dnipro is not an easy one. At the same time, we will save the lives of our military and the combat capability of the troops…. The maneuver of the troops will be carried out as soon as possible. The troops will occupy the prepared defensive positions on the left bank of the Dnipro.”

Surovikin may be bluffing or setting a trap, but if he isn’t, the Russian retreat would be of potentially earth-shattering importance for several reasons.

The Battle Over Semiconductors Is Endangering Taiwan

Frederik Kelter

The U.S.-China relationship continues its freefall.

The rivalry between the two powers has most recently burst fully into the technological sphere with the U.S. Congress passing the CHIPS and Science Act in August, which was reinforced with additional moves by the Biden administration in early October. The aim of these measures is to secure stable U.S. access to advanced semiconductors in the future and deny the Chinese the same by restricting the export to China of equipment and designs necessary to develop and produce advanced microchips.

Microchips are ubiquitous in modern electronics, from innocuous products like refrigerators and electric toothbrushes to less innocuous ones like cruise missiles and fighter jets. As electronics and technologies continue to advance, the semiconductor components within them must advance as well, and those that wish to be at the forefront of technological advancements must have access to advanced semiconductors.

Welcome to the New Age of Nukes Russia’s posturing may encourage a dangerous wave of nuclear diplomacy.

Richard Fontaine

Nuclear weapons are back, and in a disturbingly visceral way. Vladimir Putin’s saber-rattling—“this is not a bluff” he said, warning of nuclear use in Ukraine—has sparked concern across multiple continents. The Biden administration is publicly warning that “catastrophic consequences for Russia” would follow any use of nuclear arms, and Biden himself has said that the explosion of a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine could end in Armageddon. Even Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that “the international community should … jointly oppose the use or threats to use nuclear weapons,” despite China’s “no limits” partnership with Russia. The world’s most destructive weapons are suddenly back on the minds of the world’s most powerful leaders.

It was not supposed to be this way. A little more than a decade ago, President Barack Obama articulated an expansive vision of a nuclear-free world. His administration’s Nuclear Security Summits, held from 2010 to 2016, aimed to increase the security of nuclear materials and decrease the chances of their use, by governments or terrorist organizations. His successor Donald Trump pursued an expansion of U.S. nuclear capabilities but employed high-stakes diplomacy aimed at inducing North Korea to give up its own. In 2020, candidate Joe Biden pledged to reduce the role nuclear weapons play in the country’s national security policy, reserving them for the sole purpose of deterring a nuclear attack.

Today's D Brief: Russian military withdrawal in Kherson; Ukraine air defense, in review; Kyiv wants counter-drone gear; RoK pulls missile from ocean floor; And a bit more.


New: Russia’s military chief just ordered a retreat from the occupied Ukrainian city of Kherson, with troops instructed to form a defensive line on the left bank of the Dnipro river, in southern Ukraine. That’s according to state-run media, RIA Novosti, reporting Wednesday.

A military withdrawal from Kherson has been rumored for weeks, but official Kremlin-linked outlets like RIA and TASS had only acknowledged civilian withdrawals. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces seem to be continuing their fairly productive counteroffensive, which began around early September, to retake occupied territory—including Kherson, the first major Ukrainian city (and the only provincial capital) to fall to the Russians after their long-denied invasion began in late February.

Wonk reax: “Abandoning the right-bank was the obvious move after [Ukraine’s] Kharkiv offensive demonstrated Russia's manpower weaknesses,” Rob Lee tweeted after the order from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Lee called the progress around Kherson a “Very impressive and hard fought victory for Ukraine.” From his perspective, “The big question now is whether Russia can withdraw without taking heavy equipment and personnel losses. Ukraine has every incentive to make this withdrawal as chaotic and costly as possible,” he added.

Stop Fighting Blind: Better Use-of-Force Oversight in the U.S. Congress


After twenty years of continuous war – including the post-9/11 militarised counter-terrorism campaign known as the “war on terror”, the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, involvement in elective wars in Libya and Yemen, as well as moments of high tension with Iran – the U.S. Congress has taken halting steps to reassert itself in matters of war and peace. President Donald Trump faced strong, though unsuccessful, bipartisan pressure from lawmakers to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led air war in Yemen and abjure the use of military force against Iran.1 More recently, bipartisan coalitions of lawmakers have pushed to reform 50-year-old war powers legislation and to replace open-ended and outdated authorisations for military operations against al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS) and their affiliates in the U.S. war on terror.2

Yet these legislative efforts to repeal war authorisations and enact structural war powers reforms are long-term initiatives that, for the moment, have stalled. In the meantime, there are steps Congress can take now (ideally with the support of the executive branch) that would improve its capacity to oversee U.S. participation in conflicts and to shape more substantial war powers reforms down the road. These measures, which can mostly be accomplished without legislation, are focused on improving the flow of reliable information to Congress.

Series: EU Defence After Ukraine

Tony Lawrence, Louis Pernotte

Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine has had profound impact on European and transatlantic security organisations. NATO has taken steps to strengthen its own deterrence and defence posture but, recognising the risk that the war may become or be portrayed as a NATO-Russia conflict, has carefully avoided a direct institutional response.

The EU Member States have, by contrast, acted collectively against Russia, notably in implementing robust EU-wide sanctions and in using EU instruments to finance the delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine. Through these actions, the EU has gone some way towards strengthening its geopolitical posture as envisaged in its most recent strategy document, the Strategic Compass.

Phantom Retreats and Stolen Bones: The War of Deceit in Ukraine

Andrew E. Kramer

KYIV, Ukraine — In a jerky cellphone video filmed last week through the window of a bus, the Russian checkpoint in Ukraine’s embattled Kherson region looked abandoned. “Empty,” somebody says in the background, as passengers begin to cheer.

Was this a sign that Russia was retreating from the area — or was it a ruse, meant to lure Ukrainian soldiers into a trap?

Then, on Wednesday, the Russian defense minister announced that his troops were pulling back from Kherson city — which would be a serious blow to Russia’s war effort and to his boss, President Vladimir V. Putin.

Ukrainian military officials said that they were seeing signs of some withdrawals in areas near the city, but that they were watching warily to see if Russian forces would fully retreat.

Strategic Misjudgments Of The Chinese Authorities – Analysis

Kung Chan

From the waves of anti-globalization, geopolitical conflicts, the rise of populism, trade wars, and the arrival of Industry 4.0, to the final realization of information globalization, all these are shaping and transforming the world as we know it. China too is witnessing an international environment vastly different from what it experienced since its reform and opening-up.

Facing such an unprecedented situation, there have been misjudgments and misunderstandings in the way how China sees the world. As an observer, ANBOUND’s founder Chan Kung has listed a series of such perceptions, from geopolitics to national policies, to discern what lies behind them.

1. “Western values are merely rhetoric”

Misjudgment: No country can really decide policies based on morality, justice, and values. All the decisions are made based on real interests.

Assessment: This type of misjudgment mainly affects China’s foreign policy, geopolitics, bilateral agreements, etc., especially the prediction of the direction of bilateral relations.

Such a perception misunderstands Western values are in fact social ideological foundation, and they determine diverse aspects from public opinion to official policy. While the social system in the West is complicated, its values dictate who the leaders would be. Such a misjudgment on China’s side mainly affects U.S.-China trade, the Belt and Road Initiative, and U.S.-China relations.

The Return of Red China Xi Jinping Brings Back Marxism

Kevin Rudd

In 1978, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping announced that his country would make a break with the past. After decades of political purges, economic autarky, and suffocating social control under Mao Zedong, Deng began stabilizing Chinese politics, removing bans on private enterprise and foreign investment and giving individuals greater freedom in their daily lives. This switch, termed “reform and opening,” led to pragmatic policies that improved Beijing’s relations with the West and lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people from poverty. Although China remained authoritarian, Deng shared power with other senior party leaders—unlike Mao. And when Deng left office, his successors continued down much the same path.

Until now. During the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) last month, Chinese leader Xi Jinping brought the Deng era of Chinese politics to a definitive close. In many respects, it was clear that “reform and opening” was on its way out at the 19th Party Congress in 2017, when Xi proclaimed “a new era” in which the party would rectify the ideological, political, and policy “imbalances” left over from his predecessors. But it was the 20th Party Congress that gave Xi an unprecedented third term as leader and removed pro-market officials from the CCP’s leadership. It even removed Xi’s predecessor from the proceedings. After nearly 44 years, history will record that it was this congress that administered the last rites to Deng’s reformist era. The brave new statist world of Xi Jinping is now in full force.

Report to Congress on Great Power Competition

The emergence over the past decade of intensified U.S. competition with the People’s Republic of China (PRC or China) and the Russian Federation (Russia)—often referred to as great power competition (GPC)—has profoundly changed the conversation about U.S. defense issues from what it was during the post–Cold War era: Counterterrorist operations and U.S. military operations in the Middle East—which had been more at the center of discussions of U.S. defense issues following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—are now a less-prominent element in the conversation, and the conversation now focuses more on the following elements, all of which relate largely to China and/or Russia:grand strategy and geopolitics as a starting point for discussing U.S. defense issues;

the force-planning standard, meaning the number and types of simultaneous or overlapping conflicts or other contingencies that the U.S. military should be sized to be able to conduct—a planning factor that can strongly impact the size of the U.S. defense budget;

Strategic Ambiguity Out of Balance: Updating an Outdated Taiwan Policy

Yvonne Chiu

In September of 2022, for the fourth time in little over a year, U.S. President Biden said that Americans would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion only to be followed by White House aides walking back his statement, because it contradicted an American strategy developed in the late 1970s of deliberate ambiguity about whether or not it would come to Taiwan’s aid if it were attacked. The most recent occasion prompted yet another round of questions about whether strategic ambiguity is dead and warnings that abandoning strategic ambiguity is unwise.[1]

Many policymakers and analysts are concerned that Biden’s declarations of military support will dampen Taiwan’s incentives to reform its defenses or encourage Taiwan to declare formal independence and precipitate a Chinese invasion. There are certainly risks to abandoning a posture of strategic ambiguity but also many good reasons to do so, including that both Taiwan and China have taken unexpected paths that now moot the normative and geopolitical functions of strategic ambiguity.

In the 1970s, China’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP) deferred resolving the Taiwan question—invading Taiwan to defeat the Kuomintang (KMT) and claim that territory—because it prioritized achieving economic development that required access to and integration with international trade and capital markets. Meanwhile, the posture of strategic ambiguity taken by the U.S. sought to stabilize the Taiwan Strait with dual deterrence of both Chinese attack and Taiwanese declaration of independence. This policy rested on two premises—that China would remain committed to peaceful and non-coercive merger, if any, and that Taiwan’s independence was not essential to American foreign policy interests—neither of which holds today.

Ongoing Pentagon push to arm Ukraine will have three-star general leading from Germany


STUTTGART, Germany — A three-star general will lead a new Army headquarters in Germany that will include about 300 U.S. service members responsible for coordinating security assistance for Ukraine, a senior U.S. military official said this week.

Formation of the Security Assistance Group Ukraine, or SAGU, which will be based out of U.S. Army Europe and Africa headquarters in Wiesbaden, was announced Friday.

Now, a lieutenant general will need to be nominated and confirmed as the new headquarters takes shape, the official said Monday. The aim is to have the unit running by early 2023.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Lt. Gen. Antonio Aguto Jr., head of the First U.S. Army headquarters at Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois, was regarded as a leading candidate for the new job.

Air Force’s Electronic Warfare Boss On Fighting Future Conflicts In The Most Contested Domain


Col. Josh Koslov, commander of the U.S. Air Force’s 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing, and his team are laser-focused on dominating and winning in the electromagnetic spectrum.

While anything but new, this invisible battlespace has taken on a whole new level of importance as the United States pivots to confronting peer-state threats. Having only been stood up a little over a year and a half ago, and with Col. Koslov having taken on the wing commander role even more recently than that, not much is known about the 350th and its critical and fascinating mission. Now we hope to change that.

How Washington and New Delhi Can Further Tech Ties



On May 24, 2022, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden launched the bilateral Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) in Tokyo. The initiative is “spearheaded by the National Security Councils of the two countries,” and its primary objective is to “expand partnership in critical and emerging technologies.” Scientific and technological cooperation between India and the United States goes back to the Green Revolution. Since then, a range of government-led initiatives have set out joint funds for projects, created dialogue platforms to focus on easing export controls, and set up forums and projects to focus on clean energy, among other creative initiatives.

Yet, what sets the iCET apart from any other initiative thus far is that it is co-led by the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) in India and the National Security Council (NSC) in the United States. From AI to space to quantum computing to semiconductors, the NSCS and the NSC are tasked to “forge closer linkages between government, academia and industry of the two countries.” As those who have long worked in government and industry in both countries put it, the NSCS and the NSC have the potential to coordinate a set of imperatives that is focused, outcome-oriented, and implementation-minded.

The Army’s Distributed Command Posts of the Future Will Need More than Videochats


A recent Army exercise out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord sought largely to test ways to distribute command and control—to, say, replace big command posts with small cloud-connected teams scattered around the Pacific region. But what the I Corps’ IT team discovered was just how much of the service’s vision of future warfare will depend on turning a morass of data into well-structured bundles.

The experiment was set up to use unstructured data, the kind that accounts for much of the information the Army moves around: PDFs, PowerPoint slides, emails, calendar invites, etc. It takes a lot of human brainpower to assemble this information into forms that can help commanders make decisions.

That’s not good enough for the future battlefield, says Col. Elizabeth Casely, who runs I Corps’ communications, networks, and services.

Ten Myths about US Aid to Ukraine

Luke Coffey

Ukraine is in a national struggle that will determine its geopolitical future: the country will either be a firm member of the Euro-Atlantic community or become a Russian colony. The outcome of this struggle will have long-term implications for America’s global interests, the future of the transatlantic community, and the notion of national sovereignty in the twenty-first century.

Russia is a top geopolitical adversary for the United States. For Americans who believe in strong and secure national borders, the primacy of national sovereignty, and the right to self-defense, support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression is natural. Considering America’s other geopolitical concerns, such as a rising China and a healthy economic relationship with Europe that benefits the American worker, US support for Ukraine is an imperative.

Ukrainians are not asking for, nor do they want, US troops to help them fight Russia. All they ask for is the equipment, weapons, munitions, and financial resources required to give them a fighting chance. Providing Ukraine what it needs to fight Russia effectively will not be cheap.

Will China Prove the Doomsayers Wrong?


ATHENS – The new leadership team selected by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China failed to impress financial markets at home and abroad. In the week following the announcement of Xi’s new team, Hong Kong’s stock market declined by 8.3%, and the Shanghai Composite Index, China’s largest stock exchange, dropped 4%, despite the Chinese government’s intervention to prop up prices. US-listed Chinese stocks plunged by 15%.

Investors have good reason to worry. Though financial markets had already priced in Xi’s third term, investors had hoped that he would appoint a team of more moderate, experienced officials capable of putting pragmatism above politics. Instead, Xi packed the Politburo and its Standing Committee with loyal allies and protégés.

Nuclear Security During Armed Conflict

Ali Alkış


Responsibility for nuclear security rests entirely with a state, while the international nuclear security regime both helps states to reinforce national regimes and provides guarantees to other states. However, nuclear security during an armed conflict needs further international attention as the consequences would extend beyond the parties involved in the conflict.

The current international rules that govern the security of nuclear facilities, i.e., the International Atomic Energy Agency’s GC(53)/DEC/13 and Article 56 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention, have implementation challenges. Thus, the current crisis in Ukraine, as well as the increasing number of prospective nuclear power states, including in regions prone to instability, point to the need for a strengthened international framework to address nuclear security challenges during armed conflict.
Nuclear Security and Armed Conflict

Nuclear Security

Nuclear security focuses on protecting nuclear and radioactive materials along with related facilities to prevent negligent and/or malicious human actions. Over time, the nuclear security community’s thinking has evolved from focus on acts of state-sponsored diversion, sabotage, or espionage1 to include the threat of non-state actors capable of unauthorized and malicious actions. Global politics, especially after 9/11, resulted in intensified nuclear security efforts under the international nuclear security regime with various rules and laws, resolutions, treaties, conventions, initiatives, summits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society efforts.2 While traditional approaches to security of nuclear materials have focused on improving physical protection, in short, the ‘guns, guards and gates’ approach,3 the changing nature of the threats against nuclear materials has resulted in a growing recognition that the traditional approach to nuclear security is unlikely to be effective against the full spectrum of today’s risks and threats.4

Navy’s amphib Bataan receives first permanent metal 3D printer for parts


WASHINGTON — The US Navy for the first time has permanently installed a 3D printer capable of producing metal components onboard the amphibious ship Bataan (LHD-5), paving the way for the fleet to much more rapidly and effectively maintain vessels at sea.

The service announced on Friday morning the installation was completed. The printer itself is similar in size an SUV, weighing 4,700 pounds and standing six-and-a-half feet tall, 68 inches back to front and 8 feet wide.

The printer has “already proven itself shipboard on a handful of aircraft carriers and at least one submarine tender,” Jim Pluta, additive manufacturing program manager for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Breaking Defense in an interview prior to the installation.

But the Bataan is the first to permanently receive a metal-based printer. In addition to the metal printer, the ship also received a polymer-based printer that weighs roughly 100 pounds.

Chinese Influences in Africa 2. Myths and Realities in Economic Relations

Etudes de l'Ifri

China and Africa share a strong relationship since the wave of African independences in the 1960s. Nevertheless, China-Africa trade has experienced an unprecedented surge since the late 1990s and has been accompanied by the rise of a discourse of "win-win" partnership between China and Africa.

For many African governments, China represents a viable alternative to Africa’s traditional donors and trading partners. Similarly, China sees many opportunities in developing its relationship with Africa, including the exploitation of raw materials and international influence.

Nevertheless, these relations are also highly controversial. "Chinafrica" is not characterized by mutual interdependence, but rather by a renewed economic and financial asymmetry between Africa and China. In contrast to a monolithic conception of "China’s presence" in Africa, this paper insists on the multiple "Chinese influences" on the continent through the economic, political, diplomatic and security relations. Through a historical perspective, this paper highlights the diversity of actors and sectors of cooperation involved.

Pentagon seeks more ‘jointness’ for JADC2 as OSD stands up new office


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon plans to establish a new office aimed at bringing all the different efforts between the military services together under its currently disparate Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) effort, according to a Defense Department acquisition official.

“We are establishing a new office in [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] called the Acquisition, Integration Interoperability Office and our first task is to take a look at how are we going to integrate — truly get JADC2 talking across the department,” Chris O’Donnell, deputy assistant secretary of defense for platform and weapon portfolio management in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (OUSD A&S), said Wednesday at the Association of Old Crows conference. He added that Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks has also “assigned the Chief [Digital] and AI Officer as the person who’s going to integrate all the data from JADC2.”

“So… there needs to be more jointness and we’re working towards that with those two offices,” he said. The new office, O’Donnell said, will be headed by Dave Tremper, director of electronic warfare in OUSD A&S.

Hybrid CoE Paper 15: Exploiting cyberspace: International legal challenges and the new tropes, techniques and tactics in the Russo-Ukraine War

Peter B.M.J. Pijpers

The Russian invasion of Ukraine saw new actors and novel activities exploiting cyberspace: Numerous non-state actors, hacker groups and commercial enterprises have entered the virtual battlespace without necessarily being belligerent entities. While states were already struggling with how to regulate activities in cyberspace, the new tropes, techniques and tactics have increased legal uncertainty. Intentionally exploiting these variances, in turn, will create legal asymmetry. Therefore, NATO and the EU could benefit from aligning their legal interpretations of international law applicable to cyberspace.

Pentagon: Xi and Putin ‘edging toward an alliance’

Joe Gould

WASHINGTON ― The Pentagon says Russia and China appear to be “edging toward an alliance” at a time when Western nations are seeking to isolate Moscow over its war on Ukraine.

Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, told reporters on Tuesday that “we should expect the Russia-China relationship to deepen.” Nine months ago China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin signed off on their so-called “no limits” strategic partnership just days before Russia invaded Ukraine.

“They’ve really been much more willing to signal this thing is edging towards an alliance as opposed to a superficial partnership,” Kahl said, pointing to their joint military exercises ― which involved more than 50,000 troops for a week in early September.

China appears to view Russia as a counterweight to the U.S., while Russia, hemmed in by Western sanctions and export controls, “increasingly has nowhere else to go” and could depend more and more on China “economically, technologically and potentially militarily,” Kahl said.