19 November 2022

Russian War Report: Ukrainians celebrate in Kherson as Russia evacuates the city

As Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) is keeping a close eye on Russia’s movements across the military, cyber, and information domains. With more than seven years of experience monitoring the situation in Ukraine—as well as Russia’s use of propaganda and disinformation to undermine the United States, NATO, and the European Union—the DFRLab’s global team presents the latest installment of the Russian War Report.

Ukrainians celebrate as Russia evacuates Kherson

Footage across social media confirmed for the first time that Russia had abandoned the city of Kherson and were withdrawing southeast across the Dnipro River. In photos and video shared on Telegram, Twitter, and elsewhere, Ukrainians could be seen in the center of the city waving Ukrainian flags and celebrating the Russian withdrawal.

Memo to the G20: The fierce urgency of food security

Peter Engelke

In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. stood atop the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, and gave a speech for the ages. “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now,” he so eloquently said, calling for immediate action against racial injustice in the United States.

Decades later, at the Atlantic Council’s Global Food Security Forum, held on the sidelines of this week’s Group of Twenty (G20) Summit in Bali, Indonesia, speaker after speaker echoed King’s theme—if not explicitly then at least in spirit. During an unprecedented global food crisis, they said, the plight of the world’s hungry must not be ignored. As was true in King’s time, the fierce urgency of our own time also is a moral one: to take decisive action to correct a great injustice and source of global instability.

At the Forum, which the Atlantic Council co-hosted with the Gaurav & Sharon Srivastava Family Foundation as well as Indonesia’s Ministry of Defense and Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment, leading officials and experts from around the world examined the complexity, fragility, and unsustainability of today’s global food system. They assessed the numerous and often complex roots of global food insecurity and the many equally complex consequences. These roots range from near-term shocks to the global food system—for example, the awful destructiveness of the war in Ukraine or unforeseen spikes in energy prices—to longer-term and more structural challenges such as the significant and possibly catastrophic impacts of climate change on food production. The consequences then ripple through global food supply chains, reflected in the increasing prices of grain, fertilizers, and foodstuffs. Price spikes in turn harm all who depend on price stability, most especially the world’s poor.

Could Ukraine Retake Crimea? Not Easily


The striking success of the counter-offensive against Russian forces has led many to speculate that the Ukrainian military might keep rolling in a bid to retake Crimea. But experts caution that such a campaign would be far more difficult than Ukraine’s retaking of Kharkiv or the hard-won territory of Kherson.

Ever since it illegally annexed the Black Sea peninsula in 2014, Russia has worked to fortify Crimea militarily—installing bases, missile launchers, and more; building a bridge to Russian territory—and diplomatically, warning that any arrival of NATO troops might draw a nuclear response.

Is an attempt to retake Crimea in the cards? In June, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov called that a “strategic objective for Ukraine because it's Ukrainian territory.” But Reznikov in June also said his government would consult with allies and partners on how to do so.

Ukraine Won’t Ignite a Nuclear Scramble Why Russia’s War Might Boost Nonproliferation

Eric Brewer, Nicholas L. Miller, and Tristan Volpe

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has unleashed a wave of concern about the global nuclear order. Such worries are understandable. A nuclear-armed state invaded and is trying to conquer its nonnuclear neighbor, threatening to use nuclear weapons to win if necessary. Making matters worse, that neighbor, Ukraine, had agreed not to become a nuclear-armed state, returning the arsenal it inherited from the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War in exchange for security assurances from Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Russia’s blatant violation of those assurances and its threats to use nuclear weapons to deter outside intervention in Ukraine, according to many analysts, sends a powerful signal to nonnuclear states: get nuclear weapons as fast as you can, lest you become the next Ukraine. As Michael O’Hanlon and Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution have argued, if Washington doesn’t help Ukraine defend itself and ensure that it remains territorially intact, former U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s prediction that the world could see up to 25 nuclear-armed states “may wind up just being premature, not wrong.” These concerns are shared by more than just nongovernment experts. At a meeting of parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in August, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent “the worst possible message” to any state considering nuclear weapons for its security.

But although Russia’s war has created nuclear risks, the risk that it will unleash a wave of nuclear proliferation is lower than many believe. There are good reasons to fear the spread of nuclear weapons and related technologies, particularly among Washington’s allies and partners. Some have begun to question the credibility of U.S. security commitments, for instance, and the United States’ ability to dissuade these countries from going nuclear by providing (or denying) civil nuclear energy assistance has diminished as Russia and China have become more competitive providers of such technology. Finally, strained relations among great powers have made cooperation on nonproliferation far more difficult. But these challenges predate the crisis in Ukraine. And far from making them worse, the war may actually offer the United States an opportunity to halt or at least ameliorate some of the most worrying proliferation trends.

John Mearsheimer on Putin’s Ambitions After Nine Months of War

Back in February, a few days after Russia launched its war in Ukraine, I spoke with the political scientist John Mearsheimer. A longtime observer of U.S. foreign policy—on which he has tended to cast a skeptical eye—Mearsheimer largely blamed Putin’s invasion on the West, arguing that, by expanding nato, the West had cornered Russia, and made a conflict with Ukraine much more likely. Mearsheimer, a dedicated realist, had been making a version of this argument for some time. In 2014, when Putin annexed Crimea and offered support to separatists in Eastern Ukraine, Mearsheimer said that it was predominantly the fault of Europe and the United States. This June, a couple of months after our first conversation, against the backdrop of a war that was dragging on with increasing brutality, Mearsheimer said in a speech, “The United States is principally responsible for causing the Ukraine crisis.”

Recently, Mearsheimer and I spoke by phone again. He had just returned from a trip to Hungary, where he met with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, an ally of Putin. (Mearsheimer is the author of multiple books, perhaps most famously “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” which he co-wrote with Stephen Walt.) During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed why he thinks Putin told the truth about his motives for invading Ukraine, why he doesn’t believe Putin is trying to recreate the Russian imperial era, and why he doesn’t want to discuss his meeting with Orbán.

Beijing’s foreign-policy decisions aren’t determined by its political calendar

Mark Parker Young

Do Chinese leaders really react more strongly to external provocations in the runup to sensitive political events, such as last month’s Twentieth Party Congress or the National People’s Congress scheduled for March?

Milestones like this party congress, party plenums, or even leaders’ informal conclaves at the Beidaihe resort­ do heighten Beijing’s determination to control domestic narratives and security in advance of these gatherings. Thus, it is logical to assume that this sensitivity also shapes Beijing’s responses to crises and challenges from abroad. But in practice, there is little connection between the timing of these events and the strength of Beijing’s responses to external provocations.

Global policymakers contemplating the timing of their own major decisions that affect China have nothing to gain by deliberately poking Xi on the eve of a political event. But they shouldn’t distort their timetables out of a misplaced fear of provoking a disproportionate reaction.

How will the next Congress affect US policy on Ukraine, China, the economy, and more?

Ukraine aid will keep flowing

Counter to previous expectations, the outcome of the midterm elections does not portend a change in US policy towards Ukraine. Prior to the vote, some analysts predicted that a strong Republican victory with populist candidates in the vanguard would strengthen the hand of those who want to sharply decrease US assistance to Ukraine. While it was never certain that such an election result would have led to those consequences, it appears that the Republican wave never materialized. While the Republicans will hold the majority in the House in January, it will not be a large one; and the Democrats held the Senate. Another factor is the underperformance of the populist or Donald Trump wing of the party; this suggests that their influence in Congress—and possibly against aid to Ukraine—will not increase. Bottom line? Strong support for Ukraine will continue. The outgoing Congress will likely ensure adequate funding for Ukraine through 2023 during the lame-duck session; and the incoming Congress is also likely to maintain that support.

There’s a fight brewing over the debt limit. Here’s what to watch.

The shift of a few seats in the House could have major real-world global economic repercussions. The most pressing challenge is finding a way to raise the debt ceiling. According to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the United States may reach its limit as soon as the summer of 2023. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised before then, the consequences could be credit downgrades, spiraling interest rates, and shocks in the stock market. Of course, both parties know this, and no one wants to increase pain during an economic slowdown. Instead, a looming default can be used as negotiating leverage on other priorities such as spending cuts. The question is: Will Congress play chicken with the debt limit amid the possibility of a global economic recession? The world will be carefully watching this fight play out over the coming months and hoping cooler heads prevail. One thing to watch out for is an effort by Democrats to pre-empt the battle by raising the debt limit during a lame-duck session before the new Congress is sworn in. Biden may be hoping that they can push the issue past the 2024 election. Markets would breathe a sigh of relief, but there are only a few weeks to pull it off and complicated legislative maneuvers to make it work.

The United States and NATO at a Crossroads regarding the War in Ukraine

Eldad Shavit, Shimon Stein

The United States administration persists in its determined statements regarding Russia's actions in the war in Ukraine. In response to Russia's decision to annex four regions of Ukraine's territory, President Biden condemned the move, defined it as illegitimate, and stated that the United States will continue to help Ukraine restore its control over its territory by strengthening its military and diplomatic capabilities. Biden also warned Moscow that Washington would defend every inch of NATO territory. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized that Russia's actions constitute a rhetorical escalation the likes of which have not been seen since the beginning of the war.

President Putin's "implicit" threats regarding the possibility of using nuclear weapons have received considerable attention in Washington. The administration is increasingly concerned that in light of Ukraine's success in its counterattack, the likelihood of this scenario has increased, even if at the present time sources at the Pentagon emphasize that no concrete signs have been identified. In any case, the administration and its NATO allies have repeatedly stated that the response to any use of nuclear weapons will be "decisive." The US National Security Advisor emphasized that the administration has "communicated directly, privately and at very high levels to the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia, that the US and our allies will respond decisively, and we have been clear and specific about what that will entail.”

A World in Crisis: The “Winter Wars” of 2022–2023

Anthony H. Cordesman, Paul Cormarie

It is obvious that the world now faces a wide range of potential wars and crises. What is far less obvious is the level of confrontation between the U.S. and its strategic partners with both Russia and China, the rising levels of other types of violence that are emerging on a global level, how serious these wars and crises can become, and what kind of future could eventually emerge out of so many different crises, confrontations and conflicts, and trends.

These issues are addressed in depth in a new analysis by the Emeritus Chair in Strategy at the CSIS entitled A World in Crisis: The “Winter Wars” of 2022–2023. This analysis is attached at the end of this announcement and is also available on the CSIS website at https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/221115_Cordesman_Winter_Wars.pdf?hONBZbcu.qIpPxSpMtQASsMIP4sguQfI

This analysis explores the risk on the basis that war does not have to mean actual military conflict. Here, it is important to note that avoiding or minimizing combat is scarcely peace. As Sun Tzu pointed out in the Art of War well over 2,000 years ago, “war” does not have to involve the use of military force or any form of actual combat. His statement that “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting” applies to every form of major military confrontation and gray area warfare between opposing powers.

The Value in NATO Being NATO

Kathleen McInnis, Daniel Fata

On November 15, 2022, Poland reported that Russian missiles struck its territory, killing two civilians. Initial information about the attacks suggested that this incident may make the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s strategic calculations regarding the war in Ukraine significantly more complicated. Poland is, after all, a NATO member with a fierce anti-Russian streak in its strategic culture. And foundational to NATO is the Article 5 commitment to ally members that an attack on one is—upon agreement by allies—to be treated as an attack on all. Put these data points together and the casual observer could easily conclude that NATO was about to go to war.

It appears, however, that the missile strike was not an intentional Russian strike on Polish territory but rather a tragic, accidental effect of Ukrainian military forces trying to defend Kyiv against a barrage of incoming enemy fire. While there were immediate calls on both sides of the Atlantic to respond to show alliance unity, it turned out that NATO did what NATO needed to do: get the facts, verify what happened, consider possible prudent courses of action, and just breathe.

NATO has to date charted a sophisticated path when it comes to supporting Ukraine while staying out of the war itself. NATO members have individually provided weapons and military assistance, but the alliance to date has confined itself to providing nonlethal support to Ukraine—and is therefore not a belligerent in the conflict.

What U.S. Engagement With Nepal Means for India

Vedant Choudhary Avinav Singh Khatri Sukalpa Chakrabarti

Strategically, India and the United States have recently converged on a plethora of issues. The two nations have collaborated on regional issues despite their differing views on Russia. Yet as the United States advances its interests in the Indo-pacific region, it should seek to avoid conflict with India’s geopolitical endeavors and not militate against India’s regional interests and strategy. Therefore, India welcomes the United States’ engagement with Nepal, as long as such dialogue between Kathmandu and Washington either promotes New Delhi’s interests or promotes the interest of either party without causing harm to New Delhi’s interests in the region.

New Delhi and Washington’s foreign policy is essential to their relations with China. A vital feature of Indian foreign policy is maintaining a safe distance from China. Further, New Delhi also desires a safe and peaceful Indo-pacific, which is being threatened by Chinese aggression and expansion. At the same time, Washington is interested in checking China’s increasing influence in the Indo-pacific region. Therefore, broadly, Indian and U.S. interests are converging on China.

Xi Jinping’s Vision for Artificial Intelligence in the PLA

Koichiro Takagi

Xi Jinping, at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on October 16, stated that more quickly elevating the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to a world-class army is a strategic requirement for building a modern socialist country in all respects. At the 19th Party Congress five years ago, Xi insisted China would build a world-class army by the middle of this century; this time he did not mention a definite deadline but clearly stated that he would achieve the goal more quickly.

How is Xi trying to accelerate the construction of a world-class military? The PLA is seeking to capitalize on the introduction of advanced technology, with a particular focus on the use of unmanned weapons and artificial intelligence. In this report, Xi Jinping mentioned the word “intelligent” (智能化) three times. The concept of “intelligent,” which refers to the use of weapon systems based on artificial intelligence, has rapidly gained attention since the release of the 2019 National Defense White Paper.

Claude Arpi on China’s Interest in Arunachal Pradesh

Sudha Ramachandran

Sixty years ago, on November 21, China declared a unilateral ceasefire against India bringing to an end the month-long India-China border war. Of the territory it occupied in the war, China retained control of Aksai Chin in the western sector of the disputed border but, although it took control of almost all of the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) or today’s Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern sector, it withdrew 20 kilometers north of the McMahon Line. The pullback of Chinese forces north of the McMahon Line suggested that China was perhaps not serious about pressing its claims in the eastern sector. However, since the mid-1980s, it has robustly asserted claims over some 90,000 square kilometers of territory in India’s northeast, which roughly approximates the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh or what China calls Southern Tibet.

In a conversation with The Diplomat’s South Asia Editor Sudha Ramachandran, author, historian and Tibetologist Claude Arpi points out that China “has not always claimed” NEFA/Arunachal and that its assertion of claims here is to gain leverage over India in a future border settlement.

When the war ended on November 21, 1962, China retained control of Aksai Chin but pulled back from India’s Northeast. Why?

The Implications of North Korea’s Shifting Deterrence Strategy

Rodger Baker & Scott Kardas

North Korea's strong response to recent U.S.-South Korean military exercises reflects a test of Pyongyang's new calibrated escalation capabilities, and may represent a lasting shift in North Korea's coercive strategy. As we noted in February, North Korea's recent focus on short-range conventional weapons systems will ''provide Pyongyang with more ways to manage its political and security needs by enabling North Korea to increase pressure on adversaries in ways far less likely to trigger a full-scale war.'' It appears North Korea is growing more confident in its ability to manage escalation, meaning Pyongyang will likely take more aggressive actions to dissuade South Korea-U.S. defense exercises and reshape its own security environment.

On Nov. 1, North Korea warned of ''more powerful follow-up measures'' in response to U.S.-South Korea Vigilant Storm exercises, a four-day joint air training exercise that kicked off on Oct. 31. The next day, Pyongyang launched several missiles from numerous locations — including one that landed south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the maritime border between the two Koreas — for the first time since North Korea began testing ballistic missiles in the 1980s. Pyongyang also fired roughly 100 artillery shells into the maritime buffer zone that was set up in 2018 as part of negotiations with Washington and Seoul. Less than two hours later, South Korean and U.S. aircraft responded by firing three air-to-surface missiles into the sea north of the NLL.

Between Chinese Overreach and American Overreaction

Paul Heer

China’s international behavior has grown increasingly assertive, but it also appears to be increasingly counterproductive. Beijing’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy, economic coercion, extensive influence operations, and episodic saber-rattling have alarmed and risk alienating many other countries. They have also elevated both resentment and threat perceptions of China, and provided the impetus for collective pushback, especially among U.S. allies and partners.

Given these negative effects, many observers have questioned why Beijing has been acting in ways seemingly inimical to its own interests and efforts to cultivate a positive global image. Susan Shirk, a distinguished scholar of Chinese affairs who also has policy experience as a former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, has offered an answer to that question in Overreach: How China Derailed Its Peaceful Rise. Her explanation flows from the nature of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) politics.

Shirk’s central argument is that “China’s political system itself—both in its collective leadership and personalistic leadership forms [exemplified in turn by the tenures of Hu Jintao (2002-12) and Xi Jinping (since 2012)]—impedes the exercise of self-restraint necessary for a peaceful rise.” The internal dynamics of the CCP regime have led Beijing to “overreach” in both its domestic and foreign policies, thus inviting the self-inflicted problems and backlash that China now confronts.

Techno-Authoritarianism Is Here To Stay: China And The Deep State Have Joined Forces

John and Nisha Whitehead

No matter who runs for office, no matter who controls the White House, Senate or the House of Representatives now or in the future, “we the people” have already lost.

We have lost because the future of this nation is being forged beyond the reach of our laws, elections and borders by techno-authoritarian powers with no regard for individuality, privacy or freedom.

The fate of America is being made in China, our role model for all things dystopian.

An economic and political powerhouse that owns more of America’s debt than any other country and is buying up American businesses across the spectrum, China is a vicious totalitarian regime that routinely employs censorship, surveillance, and brutal police state tactics to intimidate its populace, maintain its power, and expand the largesse of its corporate elite.

As Russian Influence Plummets, China Capitalizes In Central Asia – Analysis

Emil Avdaliani

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has finally initiated its highly anticipated railway project to Uzbekistan. On the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit held in September 2022, the official decision was made to begin actively working on the railway (The Diplomat, September 26). This fits into trends across Eurasia over recent months, which signal that Russia is quickly losing its grip over the South Caucasus and Central Asia due to its re-invasion of Ukraine. The Central Asian states are especially vulnerable to repercussions from Moscow’s disastrous war, with the region already reeling from the negative economic and political consequences.

A major downside for the Kremlin in losing regional influence is its weakening position as the primary security guarantor for its peripheral nations. The unstated “division of labor” with Beijing, in which Russia largely aids with stability via military and policing assistance and the PRC serves as the economic heavyweight, is quickly unraveling, as Moscow is no longer considered a responsible partner and ally.

As trust dissipates, so too does the willingness of the Central Asian states to rely on Russia. For instance, during the latest SCO summit, the escalation of the border conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan was especially discomfiting for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the warring sides are Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) members. Moscow failed to intervene and was even tacitly accused by many in Bishkek of supporting Tajikistani President Emomali Rahmon (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, October 17).

The Stage Is Set For US Combat Troops In Ukraine

Mike Whitney

There’s no doubt that the retreat from Kherson was a black-eye for the Russian Army. There’s also no doubt that the general who ordered the evacuation made the right decision. True, the optics are terrible, but optics don’t win wars. Strategy, valor and firepower wins wars. Russian General Sergey Surovikin appears to grasp that fact which is why he made the unpopular decision to retreat.

Surovikin could have made the more politically acceptable choice and defended Kherson to the end, but the risks far outweighed the benefits. By all accounts, the 25,000 Russian troops in the city could have easily been encircled and annihilated by Ukrainian artillery. Additionally, Surovikin would have been forced to commit more troops to a rescue mission that would not have advanced Russia’s overall military strategy in the slightest. Russia’s immediate goal is to complete the liberation of the Donbas, a task that is not yet finished and which requires more of the troops that had been pinned-down in Kherson.

G20 leaders’ declaration condemns Russia’s war ‘in strongest terms’

Nectar Gan and Rhea Mogul

Russia’s international isolation grew Wednesday, as world leaders issued a joint declaration condemning its war in Ukraine that has killed thousands of people and roiled the global economy.

The Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, concluded Wednesday with a leaders’ statement that “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine.”

Speaking after the closing of the summit, Indonesian President and G20 host Joko Widodo told a news conference that “world leaders agreed on the content of the declaration, namely condemnation to the war in Ukraine” which violates its territorial integrity. However, some of the language used in the declaration pointed to disagreement among members on issues around Ukraine.

At G20 Summit, Xi and Biden Offer Rival Visions for Solving Global Issues

Chris Buckley, Sui-Lee Wee and Katie Rogers

BALI, Indonesia — While President Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, have eased tensions between their countries, they are vying for influence in Asia and beyond, offering competing stances on how to address poverty and the war in Ukraine.

Mr. Xi has cast China as a steadfast partner to the region, rejecting what he described as the United States’ “Cold War mentality” of forming security alliances. At the Group of 20 summit on Tuesday, he spoke loftily about China’s “global initiatives” to fight poverty and strife, while remaining publicly vague about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and President Vladimir V. Putin’s nuclear saber rattling.

“Drawing ideological lines or promoting group politics and bloc confrontation will only divide the world, and hinder global development and human progress,” Mr. Xi told the opening session of the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

Biden-Xi Talks Mark Shift in U.S.-China Ties Toward Managing Fierce Competition

Andrew Restuccia

NUSA DUA, Indonesia—A few weeks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s August visit to Taiwan, advisers to President Biden quietly opened back-channel talks with a senior Chinese diplomat. Beijing had largely severed lines of communication with the U.S. government, and the two sides were looking for a way forward.

Over frequent video and phone calls throughout the subsequent weeks, the group laid the groundwork for the first face-to-face meeting between the U.S. and Chinese presidents since Mr. Biden was elected, according to U.S. officials. The negotiations continued up to the day of the meeting, with senior Biden administration officials huddled with their Chinese counterparts until 3 a.m. on Monday at a hotel in Bali, Indonesia, before that day’s talks, U.S. and Chinese officials said.

The meeting between Mr. Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping stretched over three hours, covering thorny issues such as their differences over Taiwan, Russia’s war in Ukraine and ways to ensure that the U.S.-China rivalry doesn’t flare into open conflict. Mr. Xi offered a firm defense of Communist Party rule in China and grew particularly animated when he spoke about Taiwan, providing a detailed history of the self-ruled island that Beijing sees as part of its territory, according to Chinese officials.

FBI director says he's 'extremely concerned' about China's ability to weaponize TikTok

Suzanne Smalley

Wray said during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on worldwide threats that application programming interfaces, or APIs, that ByteDance embeds in TikTok are a national security concern since Beijing could use them to “control data collection of millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which can be used for influence operations.”

In his opening remarks, Wray noted that while America faces cyberthreats from a variety of nations, “China’s fast hacking program is the world’s largest, and they have stolen more of Americans’ personal and business data than every other nation combined.”

Wray said the FBI has seen a surge in cybersecurity cases and as the numbers have increased so too has the complexity of the investigations. “We’re investigating over 100 different ransomware variants and each one of those with scores of victims as well as a whole host of other novel threats posed by both cybercriminals and nation-states alike.”

Biden’s Pentagon misses the target again

Robert Wilkie Robert Wilkie 
Source Link

On Oct. 27, the Biden administration released the public version of the National Defense Strategy (NDS). To start, the document uses faculty lounge aphorisms, such as referring to China — our greatest national security threat — as a “pacing threat.” A “pacing threat” implies no sense of urgency and is silent about the number and shape of American forces required to deter Beijing, Tehran and Moscow.

The National Defense Strategy is an illuminating subchapter of the Biden National Security Strategy (NSS). The NSS tells us what we presumed: This administration considers climate change — not China, Russia, North Korea or Iran — to be the greatest threat facing the American people. It mentions climate change 63 times, far more space than is allocated for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The Biden team prioritizes dialogue for its own sake and, in its own words, places cooperating with international bodies and the PRC above preparation for countering threats from a Leninist superstate. Indeed, as National Review notes, talk of military modernization and strategy “is cursory by comparison with the sections on the climate.”

Could Ukraine’s New Peace Plan End The War For Good?

Jack Buckby

Zelenskyy’s Plan for Peace With Russia to End Ukraine War: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used Tuesday’s G-20 gathering to propose a new 10-point peace plan designed to bring the conflict in Ukraine to an end.

Zelenskyy laid out the plan in a virtual address at the Bali, Indonesia, summit.

The plan comes just days after Russian forces withdrew from Kherson city and Ukrainian troops advanced into the city, reclaiming the first and only regional capital captured by the Russians. The announcement of the plan is significant for several reasons – not just because Zelensky previously refused to negotiate with Russia for as long as Vladimir Putin remains the president, but also because Ukraine is now arguably negotiating from a position of strength.

“I am convinced now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped,” Zelenskyy said.

Biden Hands China’s Xi Propaganda Victory at G-20

Michael Cunningham 

President Joe Biden just gave his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, a propaganda victory.

The two met Monday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, their first in-person meeting of Biden’s presidency. While it’s positive that the two leaders are communicating, the optics of the meeting might have done more harm than good.

If Biden wants to set the U.S.-China relationship on a more favorable track, he must engage Beijing from a position of strength. That’s not what happened Monday.

The timing of the summit couldn’t have been worse. Xi arrived in Bali fresh from the 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress, where he won a precedent-breaking third term and consolidated his power to an extent not seen since the Mao Zedong era.

Is A NATO Vs. Russia War Possible Over Poland Missile Strike?

Daniel Davis

Today has been the most consequential day of the war since Russia invaded Ukraine last February. First, Zelensky defiantly addressed the G20, then Russia responded with a massive missile attack against Ukrainian infrastructure. Then, late this afternoon reports emerged of a Russian missile going astray and landing on NATO-member Poland, killing two civilians.

Will Article 5 of the NATO charter draw Poland – and by implication, the rest of the alliance – into war with Russia?

The situation in eastern Europe is heating up fast, and it is crucial to ensure everyone in America understands what is at stake for our national security and what our obligations are both to our Constitution and our NATO allies.

The war between Ukraine and Russia has been raging since February, already undergoing numerous swings and shifts, with significant casualties being suffered by both sides. Things heated up early today when Zelensky addressed the G20 summit via videoconference. During his remarks, he again emphatically declared that “we will fight” until his forces regain all Ukrainian territory. He then issued what he called a 10-point “peace plan,” point 6 of which required Russia to unilaterally withdraw all troops from Ukraine and simply stop fighting.

The US’s New Tool for Deterrence Isn’t Ready


A “deterrence triad” that combines special operations, space, and cyber forces has been described as the “next step in terms of deterrence,” to give the U.S. the “ability to protect and the opportunity to disrupt.” But while the concept was announced in August, the actual where, how, and what of the triad remains “a work in progress,” according to special operations thinkers, leaders, and industry-movers who spoke last week at Global Special Operations Foundation’s Modern Warfare Week conference at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“The triad, in simple terms, is the converging and integrating of three very important organizations…and that is Army Cyber Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command,” said one speaker. The conference’s Chatham House coverage rules bar reporters from naming or attributing remarks to any specific panelist.

“It’s not any one leg of the triad—SOF, space, or cyber—that gets us to where we want to go, which is integrated defense,” a second speaker said. “It’s the combination of the three capabilities. It is the convergence of space, cyber, and SOF working together and being able to fundamentally speak a common language—which we don’t right now.”

What did Xi and Biden just accomplish?

Can a beach getaway repair this relationship? US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met for three hours today in Bali, Indonesia, ahead of this week’s G20 summit, with both leaders pledging to get the world’s most important bilateral relationship back on track and agreeing to restart climate talks. There “need not be a new Cold War,” Biden said afterward. Did the two leaders make any progress beyond the talking points? What flashpoints may emerge next? Our Sinologists read between the lines of the post-meeting diplomat-speak.

Good talk“The good news is that the US and China are talking,” Michael tells us, “after an especially icy stretch” that included US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and the unveiling of new US export controls to keep cutting-edge technologies away from China. And those talks will continue: Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Beijing to follow up.
“The bad news,” Michael adds, “is that too often the two sides seem to talk at each other rather than with each other” on everything from economics to human rights. “There still appears to be no acknowledgement from the Chinese of how their actions contribute to soured relations,” he says.

United We Stand (With Russia)? How Moscow’s Soft Power Shaped Views on the War


The 2022 Russian war against Ukraine elicited worldwide indignation. Wealthy democratic countries levied harsh sanctions on the Russian economy and provided humanitarian and military support to Kyiv. Muted behind the loud condemnation of war by the leaders of G7, EU, and NATO has been a sizable group of nations that are yet to show strong support for Ukraine or reprimand the Kremlin. From Nigeria and Senegal in Africa to India, Indonesia, and Vietnam in Asia and Peru, Educator, and Honduras in Latin America, scores of governments have been reluctant to call Russia the aggressor and unwilling to take sides in the war.

These cracks in the united front against the Russian war have received little attention. When acknowledged, these diverging positions have been attributed to the vagaries of domestic politics or the so-called “Southern” dimension defined by these countries’ colonial past or, in the case of the African nations, a non-alignment posture. This memo demonstrates how Russia’s arms sales, foreign aid, and information propaganda have also affected countries’ positions on Moscow’s war in Ukraine. It concludes that the growing hesitancy of the West to commit its resources to certain countries and regions, coupled with lagging anti-Western sentiments informed by past American and European foreign policies, have allowed Moscow to spread its influence abroad.

Assessing the Biden 2022 Nuclear Posture Review

John R. Harvey, Franklin C. Miller, Keith B. Payne

President Biden, as have his predecessors early in their first term, has conducted a wide-ranging review of U.S. nuclear policies, posture, and programs. That review—the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)—was completed early this year. After substantial delay, an unclassified version of the report was issued on October 27 on which we offer our joint assessment. Each of us, serving Presidents from both parties, have led in developing and implementing nuclear deterrence and arms control policy since the 1980s.

Making the 2022 NPR somewhat more complex is that it was carried out in the midst of the crisis in Europe caused by Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s increased nuclear threats to the West, China’s sprint from a minimum deterrent force to nuclear peer status, and Beijing’s increasingly strident threats to take Taiwan by force. At issue is whether the 2022 NPR goes far enough in addressing these evolving threats.