27 November 2022

Artillery Is Breaking in Ukraine. It’s Becoming a Problem for the Pentagon.

John Ismay and Thomas Gibbons-Neff

WASHINGTON — Ukrainian troops fire thousands of explosive shells at Russian targets every day, using high-tech cannons supplied by the United States and its allies. But those weapons are burning out after months of overuse, or being damaged or destroyed in combat, and dozens have been taken off the battlefield for repairs, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

A third of the roughly 350 Western-made howitzers donated to Kyiv are out of action at any given time, according to U.S. defense officials and others familiar with Ukraine’s defense needs.

Swapping out a howitzer’s barrel, which can be 20 feet long and weigh thousands of pounds, is beyond the capability of soldiers in the field and has become a priority for the Pentagon’s European Command, which has set up a repair facility in Poland.

Western-made artillery pieces gave Ukrainian soldiers a lifeline when they began running low on ammunition for their own Soviet-era howitzers, and keeping them in action has become as important for Ukraine’s allies as providing them with enough ammunition.

Is Imran Khan Pakistan’s Comeback Kid?

Lynne O’Donnell

Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician and Pakistan’s last prime minister, is the man considered most likely to become Pakistan’s next prime minister.

A populist whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has racked up impressive victories in most of the elections it has contested since he was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April, Khan draws huge crowds as he calls out corruption and the military’s influence in politics. He has a penchant for conspiracy theories, disdains journalists, yet loves smartphones and social media.

Khan is recovering from bullet wounds to his legs sustained in an assassination attempt on Nov. 3 during one of his many mass marches. He has blamed his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, for ordering the shooting. Speaking from his fortified home in Lahore, Khan sat down with Foreign Policy to discuss his legacy and aspirations, his relations with Washington, and how he’d deal with inflation, unemployment, and soaring national debt if he retook power.

The White House Is Pushing Congress to Rein in Big Tech Before the GOP Takes Over the House


With only a few weeks left to pass two high-profile antitrust bills targeting Big Tech, the White House is privately pushing the offices of the Democratic leaders in Congress to pass the legislative package during the lame duck session, according to sources familiar with the matter.

In private meetings with the staffs of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, multiple sources say, White House officials have emphasized that it’s a priority to pass the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICO) and the Open App Markets Act (OAMA) before Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January. The officials have also said they believe the bills have more than 60 votes needed to pass the Senate, as the Biden Administration has been holding a series of meetings with Senate and House leaders to orchestrate a campaign to get the legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk, sources say.

What We Lose if We Lose Twitter

Howard W. French

In the United States, the daily news accounts of Twitter’s decline and possible demise can give the impression that Elon Musk’s disastrous early days as the owner of the social media company is a largely American story.

One day, the headlines are dominated by Musk polling his Twitter followers to determine whether former U.S. President Donald Trump should be allowed to return to the platform. Unsurprisingly, given Musk’s politics, he was. Another day, the public learns that Marjorie Taylor Green, one of the most radical exponents in Congress of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement, has been granted renewed access to Twitter. And at virtually the same moment, Canadian psychologist and media personality Jordan Peterson, a long-standing provocateur in the United States’ culture wars and notable opponent of the protection of rights of transgender and nonbinary people, was welcomed back to Twitter.

Ukrainians Returning to Liberated Towns Find Utter Destruction

Sam Skove

Standing in the ruins of his niece’s house in eastern Ukraine, Mykola Myroneko, an upbeat 58-year-old man with a trim white beard, seemed oddly at peace with the devastation caused by months of fighting after Russia’s invasion.

It wasn’t clear which army had destroyed the house. It could have been Ukrainian soldiers, battling to push out any Russians who had gained a foothold there. But Myroneko didn’t have harsh words for the Ukrainian soldiers who may have shelled it. “If I was a soldier, I would have done the same,” he said on a gray day in October. “If there had been Russians in my home, I would have said let’s bomb it.”

Myroneko had come back to visit his home of Dolyna, a tiny village in eastern Donetsk, after taking refuge for months in western Ukraine. A sweeping Ukrainian counteroffensive in September had finally made it safe for Myroneko and his nieces, Maryna Snizhinska and Nina Karpets, to return. The village was in ruins. Maryna’s home had been hit by direct artillery fire at least 12 times. In the garden, the tailfin of a Grad rocket stuck up like a flower.

All the Kremlin’s Trolls

Amy Mackinnon

In the summer of 2018, a little-known Russian journalist arrived in Washington with a bold plan to test the limits of U.S. freedom of speech. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was in full swing, and the media pulsated with stories of alleged Russian spies, collusion, and plots to undermine U.S. democracy.

Alexander Malkevich was the latest emissary of Russia’s hopes for poisoning U.S. political discourse, this time using a news site called USA Really, tied to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the wealthy ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin behind the infamous social media “troll factory” and sponsor of the mercenary outfit Wagner Group. Unlike previous Russian influence efforts, Malkevich spoke openly about his plans, which included opening an office a block from the White House. “I want to make this media interesting and very much involved in the everyday life of Americans,” he told Foreign Policy in an interview at the time. “And maybe, in some years I can be a Pulitzer Prize winner.”

As Winter Descends, Europe Cools on Ukrainian Refugees


When he finally arrived in Dublin on Oct. 21, Serghey Chudaev was flooded with relief.

A comedian and television producer from Kyiv, he had spent the previous months organizing benefits in Ukraine and Poland to raise money and supplies for fellow Ukrainians suffering from the effects of the war. But with the Russian army again bombarding his home city, the situation had become so difficult he felt he could no longer stay.

After landing at Dublin airport he was transported to Citywest, a convention center turned transit hub where refugees are issued the temporary protection documents that grant them the right to stay in Ireland and receive benefits. Once he received his papers, Chudaev was outfitted with a wristband to grant him access to a cot and meals at the center while the state located more permanent housing for him. But it wasn’t long after an official secured the pink bracelet around his wrist that it was cut off again.

The Solution to Climate Change Isn’t Demilitarization

Erin Sikorsky

Since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in 2021, the U.S. military has released a Climate Adaptation Plan, a Climate Risk Analysis, various climate strategies, and a new National Defense Strategy that calls climate change a “destabilizing and potentially catastrophic transboundary challenge.” This month, the Defense Department sent a high-level delegation to the United Nations climate change conference (or COP27) in Egypt, led by the department’s first-ever chief sustainability officer. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has called climate change an “existential threat,” and many organizations—including the one I direct, the Center for Climate and Security—have lauded the U.S. military’s growing focus on climate risks.

For Neta C. Crawford, author of The Pentagon, Climate Change, and War: Charting the Rise and Fall of U.S. Military Emissions, these initiatives are likely too little, too late. All of this activity, in Crawford’s estimation, merely nibbles around the edges of the larger, more systemic problem of “a long-term cycle of economic growth, fossil fuel use, and dependency,” which is driven in part by “militarization and war.” Crawford is skeptical of security analysis that identifies risks of conflict and instability stemming from climate change. That analysis, she argues, will justify further military expansion under the guise of fighting “climate wars.” Instead, Crawford believes that a significant reduction of the U.S. military writ large will be necessary to meaningfully cut the world’s emissions.

The Franco-German Motor Is on Fire

Caroline de Gruyter

One day during the 1990s, former European Commission official Riccardo Perissich, an Italian citizen, bumped into then-European Commissioner Manuel Marín in a corridor of their office building in Brussels. Clearly upset by something, the commissioner, a Spaniard, said to him: “Riccardo, do you know what you are? You are a question.” When Perissich looked puzzled, Marín went on: “Only the French and Germans are allowed to have problems in this place. The British are allowed to have difficulties from time to time. The rest of us are only allowed to have questions.”

Perissich, now retired, recently brought up this anecdote when describing the importance of a well-functioning Franco-German relationship for the European Union. As he indicated, there is a lot of friction between France and Germany at the moment. Germany stands accused of behaving in an un-European manner with its large national energy subsidy packages for citizens and industry, its continued unilateral deal-making with China, and its insufficient financial and material support for Ukraine. It’s so bad that a joint parliamentary meeting was canceled in October. Perissich points out, however, that in the EU there are almost always problems between France and Germany. And solving them often has priority over solving other countries’ problems.

Billionaires Won’t Save Ukraine’s Internet

Olga Boichak

On Oct. 3, tech billionaire Elon Musk tweeted a strikingly ill-informed proposal to end Russia’s war in Ukraine—one that experts called both unhelpful and straight out of the Kremlin playbook. Among other measures, Musk suggested Ukraine cede Crimea to Russia and hold elections in other Russian-occupied territories. Faced with tremendous backlash from the public, including many Ukrainians, Musk on Oct. 14 announced his intention to stop supporting Starlink operations in the country and demanded the Pentagon pick up the bill. Then, in yet another tweet on Oct. 16, he reversed this decision, writing, “The hell with it … we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free.”

Musk’s flippant statements came in stark contrast to his previously constructive relationship with Ukrainian authorities. In the days following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Musk agreed to supply Ukraine with Starlink satellite internet technology—built by his company SpaceX—to ensure data connectivity for the country’s armed forces and civilians in regions that had experienced Russian cyberattacks or infrastructural damage.

Lessons for Europe from China’s quest for semiconductor self-reliance

Alicia García-Herrero Pauline Weil

1 Introduction

Semiconductors are China’s main import item, ahead of oil. They are a critical input to information and communication technology production, which China dominates globally, and also to other industries which China either already dominates (solar panels) or wants to dominate (electric vehicles and 5G-ready telecommunications hardware, among others).

Chinese policymakers are fully aware of their country’s semiconductor production limitations. Since 2014, the Chinese government has supported its semiconductor industry, alongside several other strategic industries, through an industrial policy that is oriented towards reducing excessive dependence on the rest of the world (so-called ‘dual circulation’). The semiconductor industry is probably the most important of all strategic sectors because semiconductors are an essential input to many other sectors and, thus, essential to climbing up the value chain. In addition, the United States’s push to contain China’s technological development is very much centred around the semiconductor sector, which is perceived as China’s technological Achilles’s heel. In fact, the US’s so-called ‘Entity List’, or list of Chinese companies, organisations and individuals targeted by US trade restrictions imposed by the Trump Administration[1], focuses on limiting China’s access to high-end semiconductors, among other products. This US pressure has accelerated China’s quest for self-reliance, as clearly reflected in President Xi dual circulation strategy, announced on 14 May 2020 (García-Herrero, 2021).

India’s military: a tech leap risks a nuclear chasm


Propelled by the Himalayan face-off with China, India’s military machine has been rapidly incorporating a range of new equipment to defend its borders. The bigger drive is to undertake a technological leap and build a truly powerful military by acquiring capabilities stemming from the newest technologies such as cyber, artificial intelligence (AI), drones, hypersonic vehicles and directed energy weapons.

But, in the pursuit of higher levels of security, India’s armed forces have yet to take full cognisance of the nuclear risks associated with the acquisition of what are viewed as conventional applications of high technology. This is evident from the limited attention given to the linkage between the conventional and nuclear domains.

While the problem of “cross-domain” effects of weapons systems has drawn considerable attention globally, Indian policymakers and military officials do not appear to have given sufficient thought to it. Senior officials are not unaware of the complexities of the issue: Lt Gen (retd) Rakesh Sharma has written on the subject and then army chief General Manoj Naravane acknowledged it in 2020. But much remains to be considered about the problems arising from the incorporation of these technologies.
The advent of the new technologies has accelerated the pace at which decisions may have to be taken in times of crisis.

Xi Jinping is not looking to go to war over Taiwan anytime soon

Derek Grossman

Derek Grossman is a senior defense analyst at the think tank RAND Corp. in Santa Monica, California and adjunct professor in the practice of political science and international relations at the University of Southern California. He formerly served as an intelligence adviser at the Pentagon.

For well over a year now, a growing chorus of American government and military officials have cited 2027 as Chinese President Xi Jinping's potential deadline for the forcible unification of Taiwan with the mainland.

In recent weeks, several senior U.S. officials have warned that the time frame could even be 2023 or 2024. However, after meeting with Xi on Monday ahead of the Group of 20 Summit in Bali, U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to walk back these assessments by stating, "I do not think there is any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan."

India Boosts Its Border Infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh

Rajeev Bhattacharyya

Hectic construction and repair of roads and bridges are visible in large parts of the Indian border state of Arunachal Pradesh, which witnessed military action during the brief war between India and China from October 20 to November 20, 1962.

Six decades after the end of the war, and despite countless rounds of negotiations between the two neighbors to resolve the border dispute, tensions continue to simmer. They have triggered occasional clashes.

The schemes to upgrade overland connectivity infrastructure are part of a larger project being implemented by the Indian government to improve infrastructure and enhance surveillance along the 3,488 kilometers-long disputed border with China.

China claims 90,000 square kilometers in India’s frontier region of the northeast, roughly including the whole of Arunachal Pradesh. There have been frequent reports of intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army into territory under Indian control. There have been allegations too of China surreptitiously grabbing chunks of territory in Arunachal Pradesh. Currently, there are six zones considered “disputed” and four that are “sensitive” spread across the state.

Space and Technology Were Big Winners at China’s 20th Party Congress

Namrata Goswami

For China, investing in indigenous development of space tech as well as more general science and technology (S&T) has been a priority issue for a couple of decades now. Self-reliance in S&T implies assuming leadership positions, which, as per President Xi Jinping in a speech given in 2021 to China’s elite Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and the National Congress of the China Association for Science and Technology, is China’s key strategic goal for the next two decades. The key aspect of this shift in prioritization is the critical strategic contribution that S&T brings to national development. In fact, Xi has made it clear that S&T is now a “core” interest for China, for which there will be no compromise.

This shift occurred during the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2017 and was reiterated in the 20th National Congress held in October of this year. Some of the areas identified as “core” now by the CCP are quantum information, stem cell research, brain science, lunar and Mars missions, artificial intelligence, satellite internet, and robotics. Reflecting back on the 20th National Congress, key S&T priority areas will guide China’s development for the next two decades.

Dawn of the Drone Age in Central Asia

Francisco Olmos

The Central Asian republics have in the recent years increased their stock of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), common called drones. Whether triggered by overall changes in warfare or specific events such as the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan or the conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the region has been increasingly arming itself with drones.

However, not all the countries are looking to enhance their drone capabilities in the same way. Their specific defense strategy, budgetary position and choice of foreign partners are factors that shape which type of UAVs they are purchasing and from which providers.

A Kyrgyz-Tajik Drone Race?

Last September military drones in Central Asia were involved in attacks for the first time. The action took place during the armed clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Tajik authorities accused the Kyrgyz of employing their Turkish-made TB2 Bayraktar drones to bombard Tajik territory and footage emerged on social media of the alleged Kyrgyz drone attack. It was reported that the Kyrgyz TB2 were responsible for the destruction of Tajik military hardware, including two tanks, one multiple rocket launcher, and an ammunition truck. Earlier in the same week that hostilities broke out between the two countries, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov had inaugurated a base for the country’s new TB2 drones.

'A Nation Cannot Exist Without Confidence in its Ruler'

Lawrence Kadish

"Tsekung asked about government and Confucius replied: 'People must have sufficient to eat; there must be a sufficient army; and there must be confidence of people in the ruler.' 'If you are forced to give up one of these three objectives, what would you go without first,' asked Tsekung. Confucius said, ' I would go without the army first.' 'And if you were forced to go without one of the two remaining factors, what would you rather go without,' asked Tsekung again. 'I would rather go without sufficient food for the people.... [A] nation cannot exist without confidence in its ruler.'"

Our election integrity is under assault, as is our Constitution. We have lost confidence in our rulers. We have lost confidence in how we elect our rulers. As of this writing, the US midterm election has been over for more than two weeks; in Arizona, which reported massive voting problems – from voting machines that failed to work to "mixed ballots" -- the result still has not been tallied. We have lost confidence in mail-in ballots -- a reservation about which the Carter Commission warned in 2005; in ballot-harvesting and "ballot hunting" as opposed to verifiable voting with one-man-one-vote. We have lost confidence in the hundreds of "dirty," uncleaned voter rolls and the lack of voter identification in many states.

Liberty Is Worth the Fight Freedom's future always depends upon the courage of a lonely few.

J.B. Shurk

"There comes a time," Martin Luther King Jr. advised, "when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right." Moral imperative, in other words, outweighs personal security, political correctness, and the psychological comfort of identifying with the crowd. During troubling times of human violence and suffering, it is always the lonely few — either blessed with innate courage or made resolute through private, grinding struggle — who dare to take a stand against encroaching evils tacitly accepted by the many. Such is the power of individual free will when man chooses principle as his guide.

Today is a time for the voices of the few to coalesce. What is at stake is nothing less than individual control over one's life, liberty, property, privacy, and pursuit of happiness. Freedom of speech hangs in the balance, as do freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. That many of these natural rights were recorded together in America's First Amendment is not accidental. They are intimately interwoven. To weaken any one, weakens them all.

To freeze the bank accounts of Freedom Convoy protesters demanding freedom from unwanted experimental "vaccines," as was done in Canada, is to threaten speech, assembly, bodily autonomy, religious objection, property rights, and public resistance to government-caused harm.

William Hartung, A Hall of Shame of U.S. Weapons Sales

As retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and historian William Astore wrote recently at his Bracing Views blog, while the Republicans didn’t experience their expected “red tide” on November 8th, Donald Trump had a genuinely dismal night, and the Democrats lost (even if barely) control of the House of Representatives, there was still a clear election winner. It just wasn’t any of the crew being covered in the media. It was the military-industrial complex. In fact, you can always count on one thing: whatever congressional Democrats and Republicans won’t agree on in the next two years — and that, by definition, will be more or less everything else — they will agree on upping the Pentagon budget, which, even before this election, was projected to hit a trillion dollars by 2027 or so.

You can certainly ask what such sums — nearing $900 billion annually ($1.4 trillion, if you’re talking about the full national security state budget) — buy us. The answer has been disastrous, unwinnable wars that, in this century, have left parts of the planet in ever greater chaos. And however under the radar such conflicts have gone in 2022, some of them are indeed still underway in Africa and parts of the Middle East, even if ever more by proxy.

In light of great power competition, DOD reevaluating irregular warfare and info ops

Mark Pomerleau

As the Department of Defense is still transitioning from over two decades of counterinsurgency operations and doctrine to now challenging nation-states, it is examining what irregular warfare and information operations look like against these sophisticated actors.

“What we’re struggling with right now [is] how do we evolve irregular warfare and our understanding thereof for great power competition, for challenging Beijing and Moscow, maybe differently than we were in the global wars on terror over the last couple of years,” Richard Tilley, director of the Office of Irregular Warfare and Competition, whose office is also tasked with force design updates, said during the NDIA SO/LIC Symposium Nov. 18. “We’re in a period of transition where we’re trying to figure out what is irregular warfare in this new era.”

Tilley said that the lessons from the counterinsurgency era are still valuable as the DOD continues to contend with violent extremist organizations and proxy fights will persist into the future, noting that the conflict in Ukraine is providing a “crash course” for a population to resist an invader or occupier.

Russia Is Running Low on Ammo

Jack Detsch

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT—Russia is experiencing significant shortages of artillery that are impacting its fire-focused military to carry on the fight in its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday.

In a sign of ongoing logistics struggles that have plagued Russia throughout the war, in recent weeks the Kremlin has continued outreach to Iran and North Korea to try to get more artillery munitions to take the fight to Ukrainians, especially as Western sanctions and export controls have bitten into Russia’s ability to make precision-guided rounds. But the situation, first worsened by Ukrainian targeting, has become more dire as Russian troops have lost nearly half of the territory gained in the early days of the full-scale invasion, mostly in Kharkiv and Kherson.