25 November 2022

Time To ‘Stop’ Zelensky! Indian Army General Decodes NATO’s Strategy & Draws Conclusion To Russia-Ukraine War

Major General SB Asthana (Retd)

With the crisis caused by a missile landing in Poland being watered down by NATO to avoid exposing its cracks, the Russian pullback from Kherson followed by consistent targeting of energy and critical infrastructure in Ukraine, and the twists and turns in War in Ukraine are becoming the new normal.

Russia-Ukraine War seems to be poised for dangerous escalation with multi-domain threats ranging from nuclear assertions/allegations, satellite references, energy grid targeting, cyber-attacks ever since drone attacks on Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet, sabotage of both Nord stream pipelines and bridge to Crimea giving it a renewed push after nine months.

General Mark A Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the USA, who has a thorough understanding of the military aspects of the conflict, has spoken out about the reality of the military situation in Ukraine, urging diplomacy and talks, which calls for serious consideration from American decision-makers, its NATO followers, and Zelensky.

‘Massive Blackout’: Russian Strikes Cause Outages in Lviv and Moldova

Mark Episkopos

Russian forces launched another wave of massive airstrikes against key Ukrainian infrastructure targets in their ongoing effort to collapse the country’s energy grid.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko noted, without providing further details on the extent of the damage, that missiles hit one of the capital’s infrastructure sites. “Several other explosions in various neighborhoods,” he added, according to Euronews. “Rescue services and doctors are on their way to the affected places.” Access to water has been cut off all throughout the city, Klitschko warned.

The strikes left the entire western city of Lviv without power, local officials said. “The whole city is without light. We are waiting for additional information from energy experts. There may be interruptions with water supply,” tweeted Lviv mayor Andriy Sadoviy. Serhii Hamalii, governor of the western Khmelnytskyi region, said most of the surrounding region, including part of Khmelnytskyi city, is suffering from outages. Officials in Mykolaiv, a major southern city to the north of Kherson, have reported mass outages and disruptions in access to water.

What’s the Harm in Talking to Russia? A Lot, Actually.

Raphael S. Cohen and Gian Gentile

Give diplomacy a chance.” This phrase gets repeated in almost every conflict, and the war in Ukraine is no exception. A chorus of commentators, experts, and former policymakers have pushed for a negotiated peace at every turn on the battlefield: after the successful defense of Kyiv, once Russia withdrew to the east, during the summer of Russia’s plodding progress in the Donbas, after Russia’s rout in Kharkiv oblast, and now, in the aftermath of Russia’s retreat from Kherson. The better the Ukrainian military has done, the louder the calls for Ukraine to negotiate have become.

And today, it’s no longer just pundits pushing for a negotiated settlement. The U.S. House of Representatives’ progressive caucus penned a letter to President Joe Biden calling for a diplomatic solution, only to retract it a short time later. Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy has promised to scrutinize military aid to Ukraine and push for an end to the war. Even Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley has reportedly pushed for Ukraine to negotiate, although he subsequently made clear that the decision should be Kyiv’s alone.


Aaron Horwood, Andrew Thueme and Travis Knight

Liquid fuel logistics is both the lifeblood modern military operations and its tether. Without it, strategy is mere fantasy, as it enables everything a military force does. If a command of logistics is what separates professionals from amateurs, then liquid fuel logistics is where the battlefield most ruthlessly enforces this axiom.

But what if the US military can break free of that tether? The Strategic Capabilities Office’s Project Pele is an innovative, small, mobile nuclear reactor designed to provide assured energy to DoD’s most critical assets. The actual value of Project Pele is not just this single output, however. The project is a pathfinder for future larger mobile reactors and a catalyst enabling the development of synthetic liquid fuel production technology. Together these capabilities could free DoD from its traditional supply chains, fundamentally changing how it does logistics.

Unfortunately, specious claims in a report by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project (NPPP) out of the University of Texas at Austin by the career antinuclear activist Dr. Alan Kuperman (and during an accompanying press conference with Dr. Edwin Lyman), an article in War on the Rocks by Jake Hecla, and a report from the RAND Corporation by a 1st Lt. Kyle Haak have badly misinformed the public risk analysis debate on Pele. There is ample room for debate about the best way ahead for DoD in its quest to solve a range of energy problems. Indeed, such debate is crucial. But it must be grounded in demonstrable facts.

Canada Intensifies Sanctions on Iran, But Further Action Needed

Latest Developments

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service is investigating Iranian death threats against Canadians who have publicly criticized Tehran, the spy agency said last week. The announcement appears to reflect Ottawa’s increasing efforts to hold Iran accountable for its bloody suppression of anti-regime protests. Last Wednesday, Canada imposed its fifth round of sanctions this year against regime targets pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act, bringing Ottawa’s total number of designations to 280. However, Ottawa has stopped short of perhaps the most impactful step it could take: designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization pursuant to Canada’s Criminal Code.

Expert Analysis

“If Canada’s goal is to have a real impact, to thwart the rampant human rights abuses of the Iranian people, to meaningfully deter threats from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards abroad, to stem the use of Canada for laundering money by regime cronies, and to begin to see cracks in the regime itself, sanctions need to have more teeth and be fully enforced.” – Toby Dershowitz, FDD Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Strategy

Iran Aids Russia’s Imperialist War Against Ukraine

 John Hardie

Tehran has agreed to help Moscow produce hundreds or even thousands of Iranian drones in Russia, according to new intelligence reports cited by The Washington Post and CNN. This agreement could boost Russia’s stocks of Iranian loitering munitions, commonly called “kamikaze drones,” which are helping Russian forces wreak havoc on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, and exacerbating Kyiv’s shortage of air defense systems and interceptors.

The Russian-Iranian agreement, reportedly reached in early November, is just the latest form of Iranian support for the Kremlin’s imperialist war against Ukraine. Since August, the Islamic Republic has supplied Russia with multiple types of drones, along with Iranian advisors to train Russian operators, helping Moscow compensate for its limited drone production capacity and dwindling supply of cruise missiles.

Jihadis issue vague threats against World Cup


In online statements, both al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al Qaeda’s general command issued vague threats against the FIFA World Cup and its host Qatar. Islamic State supporters have additionally published their own call to arms against the small Arab state.

In all cases, however, the warnings serve as general rallying cries for supporters rather than any explicit threat against the football tournament.

Over the weekend, AQAP became the first jihadist group to issue a statement condemning the Qatari state for hosting the World Cup. In a brief communique, the al Qaeda branch chastised the Qatari state for “spreading obscenity and homosexuality” and promoting “infidels of all races” by hosting the games.

It goes on to say that “Qatar has panted for more than ten years to win this immoral and frivolous occasion, diverting efforts that could have been in the service of Islam, the issues of Muslims, or in service of its nation’s issues and problems.”

Fake Facebook and Instagram accounts promoting US interests had ties to US military, Meta says

Sean Lyngaas

People “associated with the US military” were likely behind a network of phony Facebook and Instagram accounts that promoted US interests abroad by targeting audiences in Afghanistan and Central Asia, Facebook parent firm Meta said Tuesday.

It’s a rare case of a US tech giant tying a coordinated online influence operation to Washington rather than a foreign government.

Meta said it removed roughly three-dozen Facebook accounts and two-dozen Instagram accounts that violated the platform’s policy against “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

Meta did not tie the activity to a particular US military command. But the Pentagon opened a sweeping review in September into the units that engage in online influence operations, including US Central Command, The Washington Post previously reported.

Red line over Taiwan question reiterated in talks between Chinese, US defense chiefs

Liu Xuanzun

The defense chiefs of China and the US met face to face for the first time in Cambodia on Tuesday since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's provocative visit to Taiwan island in early August, which was responded with large-scale military exercises around the island by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe drew the red line of the Taiwan question to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin once again after Chinese President Xi Jinping had done so to US President Joe Biden at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last week.

Aside from urging the US to honor the commitments made by Biden so that the China-US relations can resume healthy, stable development, the talks released a positive signal that would hopefully lower the risk of an unpredictable military confrontation and put the two countries' worsening military relations back on track, analysts said.

Tech war: US, Taiwan, Japan gallop ahead in advanced semiconductors while China remains stuck at mature-node chips

Che Pan

The chip technology gap between China and the West is likely to further widen as the US, Taiwan and Japan forge ahead with leading-edge projects while mainland Chinese foundries remain stuck at mature nodes due to US export controls, according to analysts.

The 5-nanometre Arizona plant developed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) is expected to hold an official opening ceremony next month and TSMC founder Morris Chang said this week that an expansion to the more advanced 3-nm process was planned for the Arizona site.

At home, TSMC’s next-generation 3-nm process is expected to begin mass production in Tainan, southern Taiwan, in the second half of this year.

TSMC is developing the more sophisticated 2-nm process in Hsinchu, where its headquarters are located, while early stated 1-nm development is focused on a facility in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan.


The Kremlin appears to be setting information conditions for a false-flag attack in Belgorod Oblast, Russia, likely in an effort to regain public support for the war in Ukraine. Kremlin propagandists have begun hypothesizing that Ukrainian forces seek to invade Belgorod Oblast, and other Russian sources noted that Russian forces need to regain control over Kupyansk, Kharkiv Oblast, to minimize the threat of a Ukrainian attack.[1] These claims have long circulated within the milblogger community, which had criticized the Russian military command for abandoning buffer positions in Vovchansk in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast following the Russian withdrawal from the region in September.[2] Russian milbloggers have also intensified their calls for Russia to regain liberated territories in Kharkiv Oblast on November 22, stating that such preemptive measures will stop Ukrainians from carrying out assault operations in the Kupyansk and Vovchansk directions.[3] Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov also published footage showcasing the construction of the Zasechnaya Line fortifications on the Ukraine-Belgorod Oblast border.[4] Wagner Group financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin clarified that Wagner is building the Zasechnaya Line after having changed its name from Wagner Line because “many people in [Russia] do not like the activity of private military company Wagner.”[5] Private military companies are illegal in Russia.

Confronting Iran Protests, Regime Uses Brute Force but Secretly Appeals to Moderates

Benoit Faucon and David S. Cloud

As antigovernment protests swept across Iran last month, its top leaders made a secret appeal to two of the Islamic Republic’s founding families, the moderate Rafsanjani and Khomeini clans that hard-liners had pushed out of power, said people familiar with the talks.

Iran’s national-security chief, Ali Shamkhani, asked representatives of the families to speak out publicly to calm the unrest. If that happened, he said, liberalizing measures sought by demonstrators could follow, the people said.

The families refused, the people said.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his inner circle face a quandary after two months of nationwide protests. Their purges of prominent rivals and reformists from the government in recent years have narrowed their options for putting down one of the most serious internal challenges to their rule in the clerical regime’s 43-year history.

Russia’s New Cyberwarfare in Ukraine Is Fast, Dirty, and Relentless


SINCE RUSSIA LAUNCHED its catastrophic full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, the cyberwar that it has long waged against its neighbor has entered a new era too—one in which Russia has at times seemed to be trying to determine the role of its hacking operations in the midst of a brutal, physical ground war. Now, according to the findings of a team of cybersecurity analysts and first responders, at least one Russian intelligence agency seems to have settled into a new set of cyberwarfare tactics: ones that allow for quicker intrusions, often breaching the same target multiple times within just months, and sometimes even maintaining stealthy access to Ukrainian networks while destroying as many as possible of the computers within them.

At the CyberwarCon security conference in Arlington, Virginia, today, analysts from the security firm Mandiant laid out a new set of tools and techniques that they say Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency is using against targets in Ukraine, where the GRU’s hackers have for years carried out many of the most aggressive and destructive cyberattacks in history. According to Mandiant analysts Gabby Roncone and John Wolfram, who say their findings are based on months of Mandiant’s Ukrainian incident response cases, the GRU has shifted in particular to what they call “living on the edge.” Instead of the phishing attacks that GRU hackers typically used in the past to steal victims’ credentials or plant backdoors on unwitting users’ computers inside target organizations, they're now targeting “edge” devices like firewalls, routers, and email servers, often exploiting vulnerabilities in those machines that give them more immediate access.

Our military insiders’ views of the new National Defense Strategy

Last month, the US Department of Defense (DOD) released its 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS). This document outlines clear priorities for the department, namely: defense of the homeland; deterring strategic attacks on the United States, allies, and partners; deterring Chinese and Russian aggression while simultaneously maintaining readiness for conflict; and building a resilient Joint Force.

While the document’s strategic prioritization is clear, what remains uncertain is how this strategy will ultimately be implemented across DOD. Defense leadership recognizes this, as the document states that “this strategy will not be successful if we fail to resource its major initiatives or fail to make the hard choices to align available resources with the strategy’s level of ambition.”

How can DOD meet the strategic priorities laid out in the 2022 NDS? The Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security’s military fellows—active-duty officers who are serving a one-year rotation at the Atlantic Council—weighed in, addressing potential gaps between budgets and strategy, force employment mechanisms, sustainment and logistics, and security partnerships. The opinions, conclusions, and recommendations expressed or implied here are solely those of the authors and do not represent the views of DOD or any other US government agency.
Investing in security partnerships: The US should take larger risks to bolster Taiwan’s defense

The Freedom Academy An old idea resurfacing

Matt Armstrong

A quick note on the conference. It took place 11-12 January 2017. Four “western” presenter were paired with four Russian presenters. From the conference description:

The conference organizers had some interesting challenges as the Russians were all travelling from Russia and the UK FCO was hesitant to allow visas to at least some of the participants. You can listen to the conference on SoundCloud.

That’s all to say that I was chuffed when I saw

Asha Rangappa launched her substack entitled The Freedom Academy with Asha Rangappa. It’s not a coincidence her substack uses the Freedom Academy name as the FA was, she wrote, an inspiration for the project. Though I know at least my WOTR article and possibly my chapter made it to her through a mutual friend, if not through other channels, but I don’t know if these had any impact on her thinking. I do encourage you to subscribe – I did – to The Freedom Academy with Asha Rangappa. Also, I recommend reading

Russian Total War in Ukraine: Challenges and Opportunities

Oleksandr V. Danylyuk

The Russian aggression in Ukraine, which at first was conceived as a blitzkrieg and then in May turned into a war of attrition, has now moved into a stage of total war. The scale and forms of mass mobilisation in Russia indicate that the actual number of those mobilised may be significantly higher than the 300,000 people announced by Putin. According to Ukrainian intelligence, Russia is possibly attempting to mobilise between one and three million people. This is also indirectly indicated by the removal from preservation and transfer to troops of obsolete weapons and military equipment. It is obvious that Russia does not have the ability to provide such a large number of troops with modern equipment in such a short period of time.

Since May 2022, the Russians have been betting on absolute fire superiority due to a greater number of artillery systems and a practically unlimited amount of ammunition. Despite certain successes that the Russian troops were able to achieve thanks to this in Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, they failed to turn the tide of the war. The successful offensive by Ukrainian troops in the Kharkiv region in September was a clear indicator that without a significant change in strategy, the Russians could suffer a crushing defeat as early as next year. When planning its new strategy, the Russian leadership obviously focused on achieving a quantitative advantage in manpower. This decision was probably due to the fact that Russia – with a population of 144 million – has a greater mobilisation resource (25–27 million people) than Ukraine, with a population of about 40 million. A significant increase in the number of troops, as planned by the Russians, should strengthen the defence of the already captured territories, as well as allow them to carry out offensive operations from the north, including from the territory of Belarus.

Afghanistan opium cultivation in 2022 up by 32 percent: UNODC survey

The 2022 opium crop in Afghanistan is the most profitable in years with cultivation up by nearly one-third and prices soaring, even as the country is gripped by cascading humanitarian and economic crises, according to a new research brief from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Opium cultivation in Afghanistan – latest findings and emerging threats is the first report on the illicit opium economy since the Taliban, which assumed power in August 2021, banned cultivation of opium poppy and all narcotics in April 2022. This year’s harvest was largely exempted from the decree, and farmers in Afghanistan must now decide on planting opium poppy for next year amid continued uncertainty about how the de facto authorities will enforce the ban. Sowing of the main 2023 opium crop must be done by early November 2022.

“Afghan farmers are trapped in the illicit opiate economy, while seizure events around Afghanistan suggest that opiate trafficking continues unabated,” said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly upon the survey’s launch.

Major semiconductor producing countries rely on each other for different types of chips

Gary Clyde Hufbauer  and Megan Hogan 

The global semiconductor production system is complex, integrated, and not easy to disentangle. Each of the five major global semiconductor producers—China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the United States—is also a large chip importer. Not all chips are equal, and no producer specializes in every chip category, leaving even the largest exporters reliant on imports.

The need to preserve trade in semiconductors is evident in the disparities in average export prices per chip between the major source countries. US chip exports were the most expensive, fetching an average price of $2.16 per chip in 2021, reflecting advanced US chip production techniques and its specialization in more sophisticated chips. Unit values for chips imported by the United States from other producing countries are far lower, as the US manufacturing sector imports simpler, low-value chips that it does not produce itself.

Poland Is Building A Military Machine To Fight Russia (If It Has To)

Peter Suciu

The Polish government and its people have a lot of reasons to mistrust Russia. The two nations share a long and complicated relationship, with very little love between Warsaw and Moscow. While it was Poland that invaded Russian lands in the Middle Ages, by the 17th century, the tables turned, and the once mighty Poland was squeezed and partitioned by the powers of Prussia, the Habsburg monarchy, and the Russian Empire.

Much of Poland, including Warsaw, thus fell under Russian control for more than a century until the nation was restored following the First World War. Even then, Poland was forced to fight for its survival. The newly independent nation was invaded by the Bolshevik Red Army, which was only pushed back after the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, known today as the Miracle on the Vistula.

Poland and Russia: Two Very Different Peoples

There are cultural differences. Both nations speak Slavic languages, but there is only about a 38% lexical overlap – compared with 56% for English and German. As for religion, Poland is a Catholic nation, while Russia is predominantly Eastern Orthodox.

Formidable but Not Invincible Why the United States Should Not Overreact to China and Russia

Ali Wyne

Just 30 years after the end of the Cold War and 50 years after the U.S. opening to China, the United States’ two principal challengers seem to be on the march and dictating Washington’s foreign policy decisions. Russia defied many observers’ expectations by invading Ukraine, and it shows no sign of relenting nine months into its brutal campaign. Meanwhile, following a visit to Taiwan by U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in August, China launched a spate of short-range conventional ballistic missiles—including, for the first time, over Taiwan—terminated its military dialogue with the United States, and stated that it would conduct regular patrols around Taiwan, raising anxiety that Beijing may soon move on Taipei.

Beyond the pressing concern that the United States could find itself in concurrent wars with two nuclear-armed powers, U.S. officials have a broader fear: that the global balance of power could be at a troubling inflection point. In the National Security Strategy that it released last month, the Biden administration warns that the “terms of geopolitical competition between the major powers will be set” over the coming decade. The administration is most concerned about “powers that layer authoritarian governance with a revisionist foreign policy,” particularly Russia and China.

Why Defense Budgets Will Stay High After the Ukraine War


HALIFAX, Canada — Even after Russian forces retreat from Ukraine, Western governments should expect higher defense budgets, and to continue to contribute to Ukraine’s defensive capabilities to ward off another Russian invasion, military and government officials said at the recent Halifax International Security Forum. They should also invest more in renewable energy to blunt the economic impact of using less Russian oil and gas.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told Defense One that the United States will still need to deter a defeated Russia.

“A critical part of ending the war and beginning reconstruction is ensuring that we are providing for Ukraine’s security going forward,” Coons said. “If you look back at the example of the American Revolution, we signed a peace treaty in 1783. But we were back at war with Great Britain in less than 20 years. Every Ukrainian you talk to expresses his concern that even if the fighting stops, even if they reach a ceasefire, even if they reach a peace treaty, they will be concerned about the prospects that Putin will restart the war … I think they deserve investments in their future defense capabilities.”