6 December 2022

Why India Chose Neutrality on Ukraine

Sukalpa Chakrabarti

Throughout the war in Ukraine, India has declined to support U.S. and Western sanctions against Russia. This is occurring despite the fact that India is an increasingly important security partner for the United States in the Indo-Pacific, as Washington and New Delhi cooperate on containing Chinese aggression and expansionism. What explains their divergence on Ukraine?

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs previously described the relationship between Russia and India as a “special, privileged strategic partnership.” This relationship was recently strengthened when President Vladimir Putin met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on December 6. The two leaders extended a program for military and technological cooperation until 2031 and signed a number of bilateral defense agreements, including one for the manufacturing of assault weapons. Putin and Modi hold frequent meetings and yearly conferences.

Bringing The G20 Baton To Delhi From Bali – OpEd

On the return flight from Bali, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suitcase contained a special object: the gavel of the G20 President. Set to stay in India for a year, it is the symbol of honour that comes with presiding over the world’s premier forum for global economic cooperation. But it also signifies responsibility and proffers an unprecedented opportunity for India’s leadership to shape the international response to pressing challenges. This is the moment when India can step forward to transition from being a rule-taker to being a rule-maker.

Can India handle this mission successfully? It must. Given the oppressive overlay of geopolitics on the G20’s core agenda this year, it will fall on India to steer the G20 away from those rocky waters towards stability and the fulfillment of its promise. In this vein, Narendra Modi’s indication that India’s will be an activist presidency is welcome. The task is difficult, and its first success will lie in reading the outcome of the Bali summit accurately and drawing the right lessons.

Inheriting the Storm: Beijing’s Difficult New Relationship with Kabul

Raffaello Pantucci

The Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021 left China with a dilemma. Not only did Beijing now share a border with a country ruled by a group considered a terrorist pariah by much of the world, but China was also the closest strategic ally of the Taliban’s principal supporter in the international arena, Pakistan. As the rest of the world withdrew from Afghanistan, Beijing suddenly found itself in an influential position by default, juggling a number of key relationships without having the shield of U.S. hard power to ultimately hide behind.

In many ways, the image of a sea receding from shore is a useful analogy. While the United States and its allies were present in Afghanistan bolstering the Republic government, a sea washed over Afghanistan that hid a number of issues. As the U.S. and its allies left, this tide retreated, exposing brutal realities on the ground. Among those was the fact that China has no real choice but to engage with Afghanistan given its geographical position and its security concerns on the ground. 

'China is worried!' Taiwan ready for Beijing threat should Xi launch 'information war'


A former spy chief has told Express.co.uk that China is "very worried" that its attempts to attack Taiwan could fail due to strong cyber defences that could bat away the threat from Beijing if it tries to launch a so-called "information war" in the build-up to a physical conflict. Fears that China could invade the island nation in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims sovereignty over, continue to soar.

But Nigel Inkster, former British Secret Intelligence Service’s former Director of Operations and Intelligence, says that China is "very worried" about the defence capabilities of Taipei and the West, despite China's "relentless attempts to launch information attacks" alongside military incursions.

He said: "In terms of what China is doing now in relation to Taiwan, which the Chinese refer to as 'Grey Zone' activity, military incursions, areal and naval incursions, all of these are accompanied by a relentless series of cyber attacks. In particular, disinformation attacks."

How Chinese Netizens Swamped China’s Internet Controls


A WEEK AGO, demonstrators took to the streets of the northwestern city of Urumqi to protest China’s strict zero-Covid policy. That night, a much bigger wave of protest crested on Chinese social media, most notably on the super app WeChat. Users shared videos of the demonstrators and songs like “Do You Hear the People Sing” from Les Misérables, Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up,” and Patti Smith’s “Power to the People.”

In the days that followed, protests spread. A mostly masked crowd in Beijing's Liangmaqiao district held up blank sheets of paper and called for an end to tough Covid policies. Across the city at the elite Tsinghua University, protesters held up printouts of a physics formula known as the Friedmann equation because its namesake sounds like “free man.” Similar scenes played out in cities and college campuses across China in a wave of protest that has been compared to the 1989 student movement that ended in a bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

Targeting Tiandy: The Case for Blacklisting a Chinese Tech Firm Tied to Crackdowns on Uyghurs and Iranian Protestors

Craig Singleton


China remains the undisputed leader in developing and fielding technologies that enable government control and manipulation of foreign and domestic populations, otherwise known as techno-authoritarianism.1 The firms that produce these technologies consist of both Chinese state-owned companies and China-based private entities susceptible to Beijing’s pressure to censor and surveil. One of those private firms is Tiandy Technologies Co., Ltd. (天津天地伟业数码科技有限公司), based in Tianjin province in northern China. Both Tiandy testimonials and Chinese government press releases advertise the use of the company’s products by Chinese officials to track and interrogate Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province.2 According to human rights groups, Chinese authorities also employ Tiandy products, such as “tiger chairs,” to torture Uyghurs and other minorities.3

The Chinese firms that equip Beijing’s surveillance state market facial recognition software, emotion-detecting artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, surveillance drones, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) capabilities to other autocratic regimes, including Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to Tiandy Iran’s website and Instagram account, the company has sold surveillance equipment to Iran’s security, police, and military services.4 The Internet Protocol Video Market (IPVM), a U.S.-based security industry research group and trade publication, also obtained documents that report such sales.5 The products reportedly sold to Iran include network video recorders that digitize and store surveillance videos, using microchips that Tiandy produced in partnership with U.S. manufacturer Intel.6

Does the Pentagon report on China’s military correctly judge the threat?

Michael E. O’Hanlon

This week, the Pentagon released its annual report on Chinese military and security developments over the past year. That capped a busy season for the Government Printing Office: the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, Nuclear Posture Review, and Missile Defense Strategy all came out publicly last month.

All the documents, not just this most recent one, emphasize China. Although it is Russian President Vladimir Putin who is raining down death and destruction on Ukraine, issuing nuclear threats to the West, and distorting energy as well as food markets worldwide, China gets pride of place as security challenge number one — even though China has not employed large-scale military force against an adversary since its 1979 war with Vietnam. Given Beijing’s capacities, the Pentagon is convincing when it describes China as its “pacing challenge.” But we Americans have demonstrated before the veracity of the slogan that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing — and we are tending towards overhyping the China threat in a way that could raise the risks of war.

Experts react: What this wave of protests means for the future of the Chinese Communist Party

Atlantic Council experts

They’re spreading like wildfire. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) restrictive policies to limit COVID-19 have sparked a wave of protests from Xinjiang province to Beijing to Shanghai. And the protesters are looking for much more than an end to severe lockdowns; some are also pushing for Xi Jinping to step down and for the party to stop censoring dissent. How is the CCP likely to scramble to save face—and will its efforts even work? Our experts give their takes on what the future holds. 

When the real crisis for the CCP starts 

China’s Communist Party (CCP) is boxed in by its zero-COVID policy (ZCP). It’s much more than a branding that served CCP political goals until Omicron variants hit them. The CCP doesn’t have the health infrastructure to do what the US government or some Western European governments did—fail at many public-health measures but ride it out and push vaccinations while accepting large numbers of deaths. If they “let it rip,” a collapsed healthcare system (with sick or dead doctors and nurses) and 1.6 million dead (primarily those over age sixty who remain largely unvaccinated) could be an optimistic result. 

Iran Is Filling Armenia’s Power Vacuum

Gabriel Gavin

The town of Kapan, a sleepy mining community nestled in the mountains of southeastern Armenia, is an unlikely hub for international diplomacy. But in October, Armenian officials gathered in its central square to cut the ribbon on a brand-new consulate—and welcome the delegation arriving from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Just two miles away from the site of Tehran’s newest international mission is the border with Azerbaijan. The surrounding Armenian region of Syunik—of which Kapan is the capital—is at the heart of the growing dispute between Yerevan and Baku, which fought a brief but bloody war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in 2020. Now, Tehran is wading into the dispute, throwing political and military support behind Yerevan.

Days before the consulate opened, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced its troops were staging “massive” war games on Iran’s border with Azerbaijan. According to Iranian Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, the drills were designed to send a message of “peace and friendship” to countries in the region, while demonstrating their ability to “respond decisively to any threat.”

Biden Administration Turns a Blind Eye to Iranian Regime's Brutal Crackdown

Majid Rafizadeh

The Biden administration appears to be repeating Obama administration's policy of choosing to be silent in the face of the Iranian regime's bloodshed, human rights violations, and crackdowns that kill and wound peaceful protesters -- and has the same policy regarding brave Chinese protestors as well.

One hospital staff member wrote in a message to CNN about a female detainee: "When she first came in, [the officers] said she was hemorrhaging from her rectum... due to repeated rape. The plainclothes men insisted that the doctor write it as rape prior to arrest...." -- CNN Special Report, "How Iran's security forces use rape to quell protests," November 21, 2022.

Will the Biden administration ever stop appeasing the regime of Iran, called by the US Department of State "the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism"?

Will the Biden administration ever start standing with Iranian -- and Chinese, Brazilian and Venezuelan -- men and women asking only for what we purport to care about -- liberty and freedom -- but who suffer brutality and suppression from their own governments?

The risks and rewards of Erdogan’s next military operation

Rich Outzen

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signaled his intent to soon launch the ground phase of Operation Claw-Sword, a military operation designed to clear areas along Turkey’s southern borders of fighters from affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, which the United States lists as a terrorist organization.

A major new operation has been referenced by Erdogan since at least June of this year, but he has consistently emphasized that the timing will be of his choosing: “suddenly in the middle of the night.” Preparations for the ground operation appear nearly complete, so the clock could strike proverbial midnight within days.

The new escalation was prompted by a deadly November 13 bombing on Istanbul’s iconic and crowded Istiklal street that killed six people. Turkey has carried out arrests and interrogations identifying the bomber and her support network, and has detailed alleged ties to the PKK’s Syrian branch, the so-called People’s Defense Units or YPG. PKK affiliates including the YPG have conducted attacks in Turkey and against Turkish targets in Syria both before and since the beginning of Claw-Sword, so in Ankara’s view the particulars of the bombing are secondary. More important is Erdogan’s commitment to removing the YPG from within thirty kilometers (18.6 miles) of the Turkish border, at least west of the Euphrates River. This likely means an operation against Tel Rifaat and Manbij, areas jointly controlled by the YPG and forces of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime, from which Turkish forces and their Syrian National Army partners have been attacked.

Biden and Macron’s Historic Opportunity

Marie Jourdain and Celia Belin

When French President Emmanuel Macron made his first state visit to Washington in 2018, he was in the midst of a fleeting bromance with U.S. President Donald Trump and the transatlantic alliance was in disarray. A champion of both multilateralism and pragmatism, the French president was on a mission to convince Trump to remain in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and maintain a significant U.S. military presence in northeastern Syria—neither of which was to be.

Macron’s second state visit, on December 1, 2022, will take place in a very different context. It comes a year after a public spat between

Pentagon eyes major expansion of Ukraine military training

Dan Lamothe and Karen DeYoung

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other top Pentagon officials are weighing a major expansion in training for the Ukrainian military, a move that could significantly enhance its ability to evict Russian forces from occupied areas even as it deepens U.S. involvement in the war.

The plan, under discussion for weeks, according to senior U.S. defense officials, would build on the billions of dollars in weaponry and other aid Washington has provided Ukraine by showing its military how to wage a more sophisticated campaign against the struggling Russian army.

It would see Ukrainian combat units with hundreds, or possibly even thousands of troops, training together in Grafenwoehr, Germany, where the U.S. military has instructed Ukrainian forces in smaller numbers for years. Austin is keen to boost Ukraine’s ability to maneuver on the battlefield with a more modern style of warfare that relies less on launching thousands of rounds of artillery per day at Russian troops in what has become a grinding, bloody war of attrition.

Russia Using Caspian Sea To Launch Strikes Against Ukraine

(RFE/RL) — “[Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] soldiers are firing Grads at civilians, hitting residential areas, orphanages, maternity hospitals with ballistic and cruise missiles. Ukraine is our home!”

This is the last social media post by 28-year-old Valeria Hlodan from Odesa.

On April 23, a Russian missile fired from the Caspian Sea hit the 16-story building where Valeria and her family lived. The fourth and fifth floors of the building collapsed, and the house caught fire. Twenty people were injured and eight died. The rocket claimed the lives of three generations of the family living on the fourth floor: Valeria; her 3-month-old daughter, Kira; and Valeria’s mother, LyudmylaYavkina.

Shortly before the attack, Valeria’s husband, Yuriy Hlodan, had gone to the store to buy groceries. Yuriy rushed home and demanded that rescuers let him into the burning apartment. He found the bodies of his wife and her mother. Later, rescuers carried out the body of his daughter.

Should Ukraine rein in its patriotic hackers?

Daryna Antoniuk

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, a 23-year-old from Kyiv who goes by Vlad decided to fight back. But instead of a rifle, he picked up the weapon he knows how to use best — his computer.

Vlad, who works as an information security specialist, and his friends started to hack Russian websites and leak sensitive data. They also took control of Russian surveillance cameras to monitor the movement of enemy troops.

Vlad declined to go into detail about his activities and asked The Record not to use his last name due to safety concerns — he does not serve in the military and may be criminally liable for his cyberattacks, as well as targeted by Russia.

He is one of thousands of cybersecurity specialists in Ukraine who have found themselves in a similar situation. When the war began, they joined the digital fight against Russia — some working individually and some as part of a group, including IT Army, a hacktivist collective that organizes distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on Russian sites.

The Crimea question: Why Ukraine’s final battle might be the Western alliance’s toughest test

Joshua Keating

The official position of the Ukrainian government is clear: Its forces will continue fighting until they have recaptured all of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory. That is, not just the areas Russian forces have captured since their February invasion, but all the territory they have occupied since 2014. This includes the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow formally recognized as its own after staging a hasty and flawed referendum eight years ago.

In the early days of the war, a battle for Crimea seemed highly unlikely; the Ukrainians had enough to worry about simply halting the Russian advance. But now the Ukrainians are on the offensive. And now senior Ukrainian leaders are sounding optimistic about retaking the peninsula.

Windfall: How Russia managed oil and gas income after invading Ukraine, and how it will have to make do with less

Charles Lichfield


Russia’s economy has demonstrated impressive resilience in the face of Western sanctions, so far. Forecasts of gross domestic product (GDP) downturn have been consistently revised on the upside, and inflation, though high, is lower than in Italy and in line with global trends.

This resilience stands in stark contrast to the consensus in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that unprecedented Western sanctions would at least give the Kremlin pause. While observers knew the export controls on key technologies and inputs would take time to bite, it was hoped that the financial sanctions and the blocking of the Central Bank’s reserves would be so disruptive that Russia just might reconsider. Many, including this author, fell for this kind of reasoning.1

However, the factors that have spared Russia an immediate financial crisis and allowed it to finance the war are relatively few, and not guaranteed to remain in place. Many good recent reports delve deeper into production and how export controls are running down inventories and damaging entire sectors. This report takes a different tack by looking at the Russian government and the Central Bank’s management of oil and gas income, and how they’re preparing for the years to come. Difficulties are likely to compound as income falls and spending increases.

Cyber Power is a Key Element of Sea Power

Commander Robert “Jake” Bebber, U.S. Navy

China has embarked on a program to replace the liberal world order with a techno-authoritarian model dominated from Beijing. Central to this program is a desire to control the maritime commons. China is now a (in some measures perhaps the) leading sea power. It boasts the world’s largest navy, coast guard, and maritime paramilitary forces; a top-five merchant fleet; significant shipbuilding capacity; and growing control over a global network of maritime ports.

Meanwhile, decades of questionable acquisition decisions, strategic blunders, and debilitating intellectual frameworks on maritime and cyber power have eroded U.S. advantages and access to the sea and electromagnetic spectrum. The United States is well within the envelope of strategic surprise, and time is not on our side.

Understanding a New Era of Strategic Competition

Michael J. MazarrBryan FrederickYvonne K. Crane

The U.S. strategic focus has increasingly turned to major-power competition, but there is currently no framework for understanding U.S. competition with near-peer rivals China and Russia. Drawing on extensive research on the economic, military, and geopolitical dimensions of U.S. strategic competition with these countries, RAND researchers assembled high-level findings and recommendations to support immediate policy decisions to ensure the U.S. competitive advantage. In the process, they developed a framework for assessing a competition between major powers in four dimensions: (1) overall context for the competition, (2) national power and competitiveness, (3) international position and influence, and (4) shape and standing of bilateral contests. This guide to understanding and succeeding in the new era of strategic competition brings together historical lessons and the latest data on global alliances, economic interdependencies, technological and military advantages, national interests, and more, highlighting broad sets of priorities for U.S. policy and investment.

Cybersecurity of weapon systems: Assuring they’re ready when needed

For warfighters, few considerations are more important than knowing that their weapon systems, positioning, communications, and networks are fully operational for any mission. All too often, though, systems haven’t been hardened against dynamic cyber threats and procurement contracts used to acquire the systems don’t address cybersecurity requirements in the first place.

It’s something that the Defense Department and industry understands that it needs to address in order for the DoD to execute on its new concepts of operation such as Joint All Domain Command and Control and multi-domain operations — both of which are network enabled, and by definition, vulnerable to cyberattack.

In this Breaking Defense eBrief on weapon systems cybersecurity, we discuss the progress being made in this area with: Young Bang, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics & Technology; and Army Col. Mark Taylor, project manager, Defensive Cyber Operations at Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems.

The Benefits and Risks of Extending Weapons Deliveries to the Cyber Domain

Valentin Weber

In September, NATO members met to coordinate weapons supplies being sent to Ukraine, identify gaps in weapons stockpiles, and coordinate manufacturing. But all of the talk about delivering HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems), javelins, and tanks overlooks the important role that unconventional, nonkinetic capabilities, such as cyber tools, can play in defense. This article weighs the arguments in favor of and against delivering cyber weapons to Ukraine or other countries that might request them even if those countries are vital to NATO security and face an acute threat.

Paragraph 41 of NATO’s latest strategic concept is clear in noting that “[t]he security of countries aspiring to become members of the Alliance is intertwined with our own.” The concept explicitly identifies Ukraine and Georgia as such countries. In these states, NATO members aim to build resilience and capabilities against malign influence. Although Georgia has been a recipient of Turkish armored vehicles, French short-range air defense weapons systems, and U.S.-built M240 rifles, a lot of recent effort has gone into supplying Ukraine with conventional weapons equipment. Western countries and companies have also shared cyber defense capabilities with Ukraine. This includes U.S. Cyber Command being deployed on “hunting forward” missions (pre-invasion), the EU activating its cyber rapid-response teams, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency sharing intelligence with Ukrainian counterparts, and Microsoft transferring Ukrainian government entities’ data to safer locations for free.

We’re in Denial About the True Cost of a Twitter Implosion

Eve Fairbanks

WHEN I OPENED Twitter one day a couple of weeks ago, the first piece of “news” I read was that Sam Bankman-Fried killed Jeffrey Epstein. I was never a super-user, but my feed used to feel more relevant and coherent than that. In the first days after Elon Musk sacked the platform, the prospect of Twitter actually collapsing felt like a tail-end risk, something to meme on Twitter: Musk photoshopped onto the Game of Thrones Iron Throne surrounded by ashes. Or its end was presented as a moral necessity, something righteous users who hated Musk would effect by quitting.

Among the users I follow, the mood on the app ever since has resembled the giddiness of 2 am in a dorm room just after the last joint has been smoked, when it’s not clear whether the party is cresting—whether this is the part you’ll remember, the epic hour-long stretch your best man will reconstruct a decade later at your wedding—or whether the party is over and the coolest people have already left. People have tried to keep up the fun by outdoing themselves with jokes and bravado. "If Twitter dies," one friend bragged, “[you will] find me in the woods, no phone. I’ll be so happy.”

Preparing for victory: A long-haul strategy to help Ukraine win the war against Russia—and secure the peace

Stephen J. Hadley, William Taylor, John E. Herbst, Matthew Kroenig, Melinda Haring

Success. That’s the potential outcome that the United States, Ukraine, allied and partner governments, and private-sector actors must now prepare to confront. Ukraine’s counteroffensives, backed by expanded and accelerated US and allied support, continue to push Russian forces out of Ukrainian territory, although at a reduced rate. These hard-won successes, however, bring with them possible challenges that also must be addressed. 

In the short term, there are fresh threats from Moscow—attacks on electricity, water, and heat as winter approaches, sham annexations of occupied territories, mobilizations of new troops, reduced but persistent nuclear risk, and Russian prisoners to manage. Areas that Ukraine has liberated from Russian forces need immediate governance, cleanup, humanitarian assistance, and economic revival. Over the longer term, Ukraine will have to rebuild destroyed infrastructure; institute the economic and political reforms required for European Union (EU) membership; and be capable of ensuring its security. 

How exactly to meet these looming challenges while exploiting present and future opportunities?

‘General Frost’ Will Be Fighting for Both Sides This Time

Amy Mackinnon

While Ukraine has successfully reclaimed huge swathes of territory in the country’s east in recent months, U.S. officials expect the onset of winter will slow the pace of fighting as both the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces contend with muddy terrain, lack of ground cover, and a morale-sapping bitter cold.

The region’s icy winters have played to Moscow’s advantage in the past, helping to arrest advances by Napoleon and Adolf Hitler’s under-prepared forces, earning the nickname “General Frost” or “General Winter.” But in Ukraine, Moscow faces an adversary acclimatized to the winter conditions, while analysts expect the cold will help—and hinder—the two militaries in different ways.

“I think the main difference is that Ukrainian troops are better equipped to deal with the conditions,” said Michael Kofman, an expert on the Russian military with the Virginia-based think tank CNA. “But Ukraine is likely to have the more difficult task of pursuing offensive operations, whereas the Russian military seems largely set to defend.”

Russia And China Are Training Their Bombers Together. Why?

Peter Suciu

Russian and Chinese Bombers Conducted Joint Patrol Operations: Apart from the United States, Russia and China are the only nations that still operate long-range strategic bombers – and on Wednesday the two countries conducted an eight-hour-long joint patrol over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.

The aircraft included a Russian Tupolev Tu-95 (NATO reporting name “Bear”) and a Chinese Xian H-6, a licensed version of the Soviet-designed Tupolev Tu-16 (NATO reporting name “Badger”).

In addition to flying together over the neutral waters, the strategic bombers also made cross-landings at the airfields of both countries for the first joint aerial patrol.

China’s Defense Ministry described Wednesday’s patrols as a “routine” part of an annual cooperation plan between the two militaries.