20 December 2022

India’s Golden Multipolar Moment Is Here

Danny Teh Zi Yee

India’s long-waited opportunity to lead and set the agenda for global cooperation under a multipolar world order has arrived. After assuming the presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in December, New Delhi will also chair both the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the G20 in 2023. As a strong advocate of multilateralism, the presidency of these multipolar global bodies presents a historic opportunity for New Delhi to push for a “rules-based” multilateral order and elevate its global leadership role. It also gives the Modi administration a golden chance to shape the world agenda and put India in the global spotlight. However, India will face challenges as it assumes these global responsibilities at a challenging time.

UNSC: Fighting Terrorism and Reforming Multilateralism

India will serve as the president of the UNSC for the month of December, marking its second time as president in its two-year tenure as an elected non-permanent member of the council. Under India’s December presidency, countering terrorism and reformed multilateralism will be among the key priorities addressed during two major ministerial-level events held on December 14 and 15, respectively. The two signature events will be chaired by Indian external minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who continues to push hard for UNSC reforms and advocate for India’s permanent membership in the UNSC.

Building an Enduring U.S.-India Partnership to Secure a Free, Open, and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region

Jeffrey D. Graham

The United States has a national interest in a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, where international laws, rules, and norms are respected, state sovereignty is secure, and nations pursue economic growth in an environment of fair competition. A free and open Indo-Pacific underpins the security of the American homeland and U.S. allies, continued U.S. economic growth, and preservation of the rules-based international order.1 China poses the greatest threat to this interest by using its growing economic and military power to deprive the United States of intellectual property and military secrets, to limit economic and security choices for countries in the region, and to attempt to rewrite the rules governing the Indo-Pacific. By partnering with India, the United States can achieve the political aim of a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where a robust U.S.-India economic and security partnership counters China’s aggressive behavior, disregard for international law and norms, and efforts to recast international institutions.2

To achieve this aim, the United States should create an enduring U.S.-India economic partnership that drives India’s growth, increases bilateral trade and investment, and offers alternative public goods to countries in the Indo-Pacific region; support India in becoming a net exporter of security in the region; and leverage India, as the world’s largest democracy and supporter of the existing rules-based order, to strengthen regional institutions and set norms and standards. In addition to countering China’s coercive behavior, achieving these objectives takes advantage of opportunities presented by India’s growing market and expanding middle class to drive U.S. prosperity.

Afghanistan And Its Neighborhood: Stocktaking Of Regional Cooperation Since Taliban Takeover

Dr Jiayi Zhou

Twenty years ago, the six countries bordering Afghanistan signed a declaration expressing their shared commitment to help rebuild the country and a desire for ‘peace and stability in the region’ after the fall of the then Taliban government.

The situation in Afghanistan today is a far cry from what those six countries—China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan—envisaged in 2002. The abrupt withdrawal of United States and allied forces and the return to power of the Taliban in August 2021 has generated a host of new security and development challenges. Over a dozen transnational militant and terrorist groups are now present in Afghanistan, several under the auspices of the Taliban. Discrimination on the grounds of gender, ethnicity and religion is pervasive, as are human rights abuses. Already difficult humanitarian, developmental and economic conditions have further deteriorated into a crisis that is unlikely to end as long as the Taliban government—diplomatically isolated and under a range of international sanctions—remains recalcitrant in meeting demands to form a more inclusive government, uphold the rights of women, and counter rather than facilitate terrorist groups.

How Vietnam Can Balance Against China, on Land and at Sea

Khang Vu

Vietnam hosted its first international defense expo last week, in a move to diversify its weapons suppliers away from Russia. In addition to the technical aspect of weapons, the expo was also an opportunity for partners such as the United States or India to foster a closer defense relationship with Hanoi, and to signal to China that Vietnam is serious about modernizing and diversifying its armed forces.

So where does this expo fit into Vietnam’s general security strategy? While the country prioritizes maintaining good relations with China to avoid unnecessary conflicts, it is looking for options that can help minimize the negative impact of aggressive Chinese behaviors in the short term and to prepare for the worst in the long term. Vietnam will balance against China once deferring to it does more harm than good. The expo without a doubt fits the country’s “Three Nos” non-aligned foreign policy, for it does not commit Hanoi to other powers but assists its arms production and modernization. But the key question remains: how can Vietnam balance against China?

A country has two main ways to balance against a threat: internal balancing via domestic arms production and external balancing via military alliances. Vietnam’s non-aligned foreign policy means that it has picked the first option while reserving the second option for the future. But while it is tempting to suggest that Hanoi’s picking of the first option is due to its own agency, ignoring the geographical source of that decision is detrimental to understanding the systemic factors that have driven Vietnam’s grand strategy since the country’s founding in 1945. Vietnam’s geography is deeply hostile to it nurturing an alliance relationship with any external great power other than China, and it is geography that has pushed Vietnam to adopt the option of internal balancing.

The Saudi-China Deal Tells Us What Autocracies Want From Each Other


The new strategic-partnership agreement between China and Saudi Arabia illustrates how autocracies are finding common cause in resisting Western pressure on human rights, even if they sometimes find themselves on opposite sides of a conflict.

The agreement—between China, which is aligned with Russia, and Saudi Arabia, a bitter rival of Iran—was signed the same week that White House and Pentagon officials warned of growing military ties between Moscow and Tehran.

But Beijing and Riyadh’s mutual interest can be seen in the memorandum of understanding that will lead Chinese telecom giant Huawei to provide the Saudi Arabian government with cloud computing capabilities and other IT services. The United States has long warned that Huawei products could enable the Chinese government to steal information from their users. But the Saudi government has few other options for technology, which it uses to track dissent inside and outside of the country. It’s the sort of thing that Western technology companies try to avoid, out of fear of public backlash. China meanwhile sees Saudi Arabia as a potential source of funding and fuel.

Asian States Are Worried the U.S. Is a Perennially Distracted Superpower

Isheika Cleare

When the Biden administration imposed export controls to restrict the transfer of sensitive technology to China, it signaled the United States’ final abandonment of the once-popular political theory that China’s integration into the global economy would make it freer and friendlier. Washington is proactively enacting more aggressive policies to delay China’s rise to global preeminence. But it doesn’t want to do this alone and has already reached out to allies in Europe and elsewhere. The most difficult sell, however, is likely to be to China’s neighboring states.

For Indo-Pacific states, this is a fraught request, as picking sides risks jeopardizing regional stability and economic growth. U.S. officials want Asian states to help it hold back China’s rise by withholding material support and cooperation or, even better, by actively pushing back against Chinese expansion. Most Pacific states, from Vietnam to the Philippines, want to continue to enjoy trade with China, one of their biggest economic partners, while receiving security protection, explicit or otherwise, and regional balance from the United States. This strategy allows them to maintain neutrality and avoid alienating either power. Calm coexistence and the continuance of the status quo is their best bet.

China’s Borderland Problems

Antonia Colibasanu

Protests erupted in Mongolia more than a week ago, culminating in an attempt by demonstrators to storm the State Palace on Dec. 8. Standing in the freezing cold, they demanded accountability for government officials who had been implicated in an embezzlement scheme, in which more than 30 individuals stole 385,000 tons of coal worth more than $120 million. A public hearing is scheduled to take place on Dec. 21, but it may be too little, too late for citizens whose problems extend well beyond a single act of corruption.

One such problem is its location. Mongolia is a landlocked country caught between two regional powers, Russia and China. Geographically, its most prominent feature is its vast steppes. Much of the country lies in a plateau, but in the west, the Altai Mountains rise to Mongolia’s highest point, more than 14,000 feet (4,300 meters), while the Gobi Desert stretches across the country’s southern border. The country may have once been the seat of a vast Eurasian empire, but much of its recent history has been spent under Chinese or Russian control. As recently as 1968, the Soviet Union had six military divisions in Mongolia, effectively relegating the country to buffer zone status until the bloc fell in 1992.

Xi Jinping tied himself to zero-Covid. Now he keeps silent as it falls apart

For nearly three years, China’s leader Xi Jinping has staked his political legitimacy and prestige on zero-Covid.

Styling himself as the “commander-in-chief” of a “people’s war” against the virus, he has lauded the hard-line policy for “putting people and their lives first,” and held up its success as proof of the superiority of China’s authoritarian system.

Now, as his costly strategy gets dismantled in an abrupt U-turn following nationwide protests against it, Xi has fallen silent.

Across the country, Covid testing booths, health code scanning signs and lockdown barriers are being removed at dizzying speed. As infections run rampant, authorities have scrapped a virus-tracking app and given up on reporting asymptomatic infections altogether (they accounted for the bulk of the country’s official caseload). The rest of the case count has been rendered meaningless too, as cities roll back mass testing and allow people to use antigen tests and isolate at home.

Hardened Shelters and UCAVs: Understanding The Chinese Threat Facing Taiwan

Arlington, VA | November 9, 2022 — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies announces a new entry in its Forum Paper series, Hardened Shelters and UCAVs: Understanding The Chinese Threat Facing Taiwan by non-resident fellow Daniel Rice.

This analysis of unclassified aerial imagery concludes that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) airfields adjacent to the Taiwan Strait are intended for permanent, sustained operations in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan. Previous analysis of commercial satellite images and public reporting on the airfields closest to Taiwan have overlooked the number of hardened aircraft shelters built at the airfields. Other analysis has suggested that several of these airfields are “deployed locations” and that permanent aircraft and operations are not stationed out of them. However, combining imagery analysis, doctrinal research, and expert opinions, one could conclude that the hardened shelters provide secure facilities for maintenance, refueling, and rearmament in the event of surge operations during conflict. These airfields may also be instrumental in a broader PLAAF strategy to conduct large-scale attack drone operations against Taiwan. In the event of a PLA attack on Taiwan, it would be critical for Taiwan and the United States to suppress these airfields to blunt short-range fighter operations against Taiwan.

Decoding China’s COVID-19 Policy U-Turn

Brian Wong

On November 30, several districts in the southern hub metropolis Guangzhou took the lead in lifting a large number of COVID-19-related lockdowns, as well as suspending testing requirements. This was followed shortly by similar measures in Shanghai, Beijing, and other leading cities in the country. It had – by then – become increasingly clear that the Chinese administration was shifting away from a “zero-tolerance” approach to COVID-19, toward an approach where home isolation, paired with triaging and prioritizing severe cases by clinics and hospitals (where public healthcare infrastructure would permit), would be the new norm.

The reopening campaign gained further traction in early December. On December 7, China declared a nation-wide loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, significantly cutting down the frequency and scope of mandatory PCR testing, emphasizing that lockdowns would now be a measure of last resort, and suspending – for once and for all – the highly sophisticated health code for a vast range of districts and spaces. Attempts were made to actively allay public worries concerning the rapid spread of the virus: A recent public statement from China’s top medical adviser, Zhong Nanshan, suggested that Omicron’s death rates – at present – were comparable to those of the flu.

How Realistic Are China’s Plans to Expand CPEC to Afghanistan?

Mariyam Suleman Anees

In October this year, Islamabad played host to the 11th China-Pakistan Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting to discuss the progress of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). New projects and progress on existing ones as well as the expansion of CPEC were the main items on the agenda of the meeting.

The meeting was important for both countries. When the last JCC meeting was held in 2021, Imran Khan was the prime minister. In April this year, his government was ousted from power after it lost a no-confidence vote in parliament. A new coalition government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has taken charge since. With new ministers heading ministries in the federal government, it was important for both sides to review CPEC projects; discuss new projects, especially in the areas of energy, transport and infrastructure; address security concerns; and explore the inclusion of a third party – Afghanistan – in CPEC.

Through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China foresees a future of vast expansion of road, rail, and port networks, and consequently, unprecedented growth in its global economic influence. The more countries that sign up for the BRI, the larger will be China’s global business footprint. And CPEC has been described as the “crown jewel” of the BRI.

CHIPS on the table: Escalating US-China tech war impacts the Mideast

John Calabrese

Semiconductors — chips that can process digital information — have become an essential part of daily life. They can be found in almost everything from computers and mobile phones to cars, home appliances, and medical equipment. They are a key enabling technology that will shape the future of digital economies worldwide. But the semiconductor market is notoriously cyclical, subject to gluts and shortages.[1] The current chip shortage,[2] which began in early 2020, is the result of surging demand for products containing chips and pandemic-driven production disruptions, as well as other unforeseen events that have snarled supply chains and logistics.[3]

The US Department of Commerce reported that shortages of semiconductors dented economic growth by nearly a quarter-trillion dollars in 2021 and revealed the worrying extent to which the US relies on Taiwan for the most advanced chips.[4] The economic fallout and heightened concern about vulnerabilities and dependencies resulting from the disruptive shortage has also fueled the tech war between the United States and China. Spurred to action, Washington has adopted a strategy that not only seeks to boost US competitiveness and tackle supply chain fragility but to thwart China’s aim to produce advanced semiconductors.

Senate passes bill to ban TikTok on government devices

Shawna Chen

The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to pass a bill that would ban TikTok on government-issued devices.

Why it matters: A growing number of states have barred state employees and contractors from using the popular social media app on government devices in recent weeks amid FBI warnings about the possibility of surveillance and "influence operations" by the Chinese government.Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last month said the app presents "legitimate national security concerns" to the U.S.

Meanwhile, one of the five commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission has called for a national TikTok ban entirely.

The big picture: TikTok is owned by the Chinese company Bytedance, which is largely subject to China's government, given the country's party-state system.TikTok itself doesn't operate inside China, however, and the company doesn't store U.S. user data in China.
Oracle began vetting TikTok's algorithms and content moderation models earlier this year to ensure they aren't manipulated by Chinese authorities.

Japan is building up its military. Good.

Henry Olsen

Japan announced on Friday that it plans to double its defense spending by 2027. That’s good. We will need it if the United States and its democratic allies are to contain China’s aggression.

Japan has long punched below its weight in global affairs. Despite its massive economy, still the world’s third largest, its tiny military has hobbled its ability to project power.

This was by design. Due to Japan’s humiliating defeat in World War II, combined with its neighbors’ resentment stemming from its aggressive war of conquest, the island nation adopted a pacifist sentiment that persists to this day. Even during the Cold War, Japan spent only about 1 percent of its gross domestic product on self-defense forces.

That’s now going to change. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says Japan will raise that to 2 percent of GDP in five years. This will fund items such as increased cyberdefense capabilities and the conversion of two ships into small aircraft carriers, Japan’s first since World War II. It will also include the purchase of U.S. Tomahawk missiles and the upgrading of Japanese-produced missiles so they can strike targets as far away as China. Together, these weapons will give Japan its first truly offensive military capability in nearly 80 years.

Volodymyr Zelensky and his generals explain why the war hangs in the balance

Two books stand out in the stacks resting on the desk of Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president. One is a collection of essays on Ukrainian history by Mykhailo Hrushevsky, a 19th-century thinker who helped forge the country’s national identity. The second is “Hitler and Stalin: the Tyrants and the Second World War”, by Laurence Rees, an English historian. The books hint not only at the president’s outlook, but also his changed circumstances.

When The Economist last spoke to Mr Zelensky, in March, the conversation took place in a situation room. He was living in a secret bunker full of instant noodles and a sense of existential peril. Now he is back in his old wood-panelled office in central Kyiv. An Oscar statuette, lent for good luck by Sean Penn, a Hollywood actor, stands on a shelf. Though sandbags and tank traps remain, gone is the adrenalin of those early weeks. Mr Zelensky’s routine typifies the change. At 6am each morning he dons his reading glasses and flicks through 20 or so pages of each book.

Mr Rees’s study of Hitler and Stalin, two men who swallowed swathes of Europe, hints at how Mr Zelensky views Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart. Hrushevsky’s writing emphasises the importance of popular forces in Ukrainian history. Mr Zelensky’s war aims reflect both thoughts. “People do not want to compromise on territory,” he says, warning that allowing the conflict to be “frozen” with any Ukrainian land in Russian hands would simply embolden Mr Putin. “And that is why it is very important…to go to our borders from 1991.” That includes not just the territory grabbed by Russia this year, but also Crimea, which it seized and annexed in 2014, and the parts of the Donbas region overrun by Russian proxies at the same time.

The Sleeping Japanese Giant Awakes

History is on speed-dial these days, and the latest seismic shift is Japan’s announcement Friday of a new defense strategy and the spending to implement it. This is an historic change, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida deserves credit for taking the political risk to educate his country about the growing threats from China and North Korea and how to deter them.

Tokyo said it will increase defense spending to 2% of the economy by 2027, double the roughly 1% now. The accompanying strategy documents are right to call the current moment “the most severe and complex security environment” since the end of World War II.

The strategy explicitly mentions the “challenge” from Beijing. Recall that five Chinese ballistic missiles landed in Japan’s nearby waters in August. North Korea routinely lobs missiles over the islands. Tokyo says it will prepare “for the worst-case scenario.”

Notably, the strategy calls for acquiring longer-range missiles that can strike enemy launch-sites and ships, perhaps including the purchase of some 500 U.S.-made Tomahawk cruise missiles. This is the kind of capability that forces other countries to think twice before attacking a sovereign neighbor.

Putin adopting style of warfare abandoned by modern armies, says UK

Rachael Burford

Vladimir Putin's army has adopted a style of warfare abandoned by most modern militaries, the British Ministry of Defence said on Friday.

The Russians have used huge amounts of energy and resources constructing "extensive defensive positions" and digging trenches along the front lines in Ukraine.

Russia's military planning has remained "largely unchanged since the Second World War", the MoD said.

In it's morning briefing, it added: "As shown by imagery, in recent weeks, Russian forces have continued to expend considerable effort to construct extensive defensive positions along the front line.

"They have likely prioritised the northern sector around the town of Svatove.

"The Russian constructions follow traditional military plans for entrenchment, largely unchanged since the Second World War. Such constructions are likely to be vulnerable to modern, precision indirect strikes.

Ukraine air defenses counter Russian barrage, but missiles hit energy grid

David L. Stern and  Jeff Stein

KYIV, Ukraine — Russia launched another ferocious barrage of missiles at Ukraine on Friday, again pummeling critical infrastructure. At least three people were killed and more than a dozen were injured when a residential building was hit in Kryvyi Rih, one of seven cities targeted in the attack.

Damaged cities — including Kharkiv and Sumy in the northeast, Poltava, Dnipro and Kyiv, the capital — reported power outages after the strikes, even though Ukrainian officials said that their bolstered air defenses had succeeded in intercepting and destroying 60 of 76 missiles fired by the Russians.

It was not possible for The Washington Post to independently verify the Ukrainian claims, but Kyiv’s Western supporters have been rushing to send additional air defense systems to the country since Russia began its bombing campaign against infrastructure in early October.

Ukraine’s air force said in a statement that Friday’s strikes were a “massive” attack on “critical infrastructure facilities and fuel.” The missiles were launched from ships and aircraft in the Caspian, Azov and Black seas, as well from areas farther inside mainland Russia.

Germany Shirks Its Defense Pledge, Imperiling the Asia ‘Pivot’

Mike Watson

There have been growing calls in Washington foreign-policy circles for a “pivot to Asia,” a strategic shift of American military, diplomatic and economic resources away from other parts of the world and toward the Indo-Pacific. With China as the main U.S. adversary, the case for the pivot is obvious enough. But it’s a move that comes with costly trade-offs. The U.S. is a global power and has global interests. A pivot can work only if America’s allies tend to those interests in its absence.

Advocates of a pivot have hoped to shift focus to the Indo-Pacific while U.S. allies pick up the slack in Europe. Over the past year, many European states have responded appropriately to Russia’s belligerence. Eight North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies are contributing a greater share of their gross domestic products to Ukraine than the U.S. is. The British and the Eastern Europeans have especially distinguished themselves.

There are laggards, however, the major one being Germany. There was a brief moment of hope in February, when Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany “will now—year after year—invest more than 2% of our gross domestic product in our defence.” But since then Germany has fallen back into old habits. Mr. Scholz’s spokesman offered only a “cautious expectation” last week that Germany will hit its defense spending target by 2025. The buildup is kaput.

‘Wiped out’: War in Ukraine has decimated a once feared Russian brigade

Greg Miller, Mary Ilyushina, Catherine Belton, Isabelle Khurshudyan and Paul Sonne

HELSINKI — Nuclear-armed submarines slip in and out of the frigid waters along the coast of Russia’s Kola Peninsula at the northern edge of Europe. Missiles capable of destroying cities are stored by the dozens in bunkers burrowed into the inland hills.

Since the Cold War, this Arctic arsenal has been protected by a combat unit considered one of Russia’s most formidable — the 200th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade — until it sent its best fighters and weapons to Ukraine this year and was effectively destroyed.

The 200th was among the first units to plunge into Ukraine on Feb. 24, as part of a fearsome assault on the city of Kharkiv. By May, the unit was staggering back across the Russian border desperate to regroup, according to internal brigade documents reviewed by The Washington Post and to previously undisclosed details provided by Ukrainian and Western military and intelligence officials.

A document detailing a mid-war inventory of its ranks shows that by late May, fewer than 900 soldiers were left in two battalion tactical groups that, according to Western officials, had departed the brigade’s garrison in Russia with more than 1,400. The brigade’s commander was badly wounded. And some of those still being counted as part of the unit were listed as hospitalized, missing or “refuseniks” unwilling to fight, according to the document, part of a trove of internal Russian military files obtained by Ukraine’s security services and provided to The Post.

Winning the Majority: A New U.S. Bargain with the Global South

Sarang Shidore

Executive Summary

The ongoing Ukraine war has exposed the waning influence of the United States in the vast arc of the world stretching from Latin America to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands known as the Global South. Most Global South states, while opposed to the Russian invasion, have not backed the United States on its strategies of sanctioning Russia or seeking a defeat of Moscow. Some have explicitly criticized what they see as Washington’s double standards.

Despite the region’s great diversity and heterogeneity, a new nonalignment is emerging in the Global South. However, it is not the same as its previous version (of the Non-Aligned Movement) in important respects — being much less institutionalized, less ideological, and based more on national interests. This makes it more durable and harder to counter through tools that the United States has traditionally employed.

Despite the region’s great diversity and heterogeneity, a new nonalignment is emerging in the Global South.

The United States cannot succeed in a world where power is increasingly diffuse without strong ties to the Global South. It is the region where the majority of humanity lives. It contains sites of crucial natural resources, supply chains, major markets, and increasing innovation. It is an essential partner to solve the climate challenge. Its states are wealthier and more assertive when it comes to their interests and resources. Over the past two decades, most have built deep economic ties with China, and continue to value ties with Russia.

Crisis propaganda

Gregory Asmolov

Starting from February 2022, the Russian authorities initiated a large-scale information campaign with the aim of justifying the war against Ukraine and neutralising potential protest-oriented attitudes. In addition to maintaining the legitimacy of authorities in the context of worsening living conditions for Russians, propaganda has systematically downplayed the value of human life on both sides of the conflict. On the one hand, propaganda continues its efforts to justify civilian deaths on the ‘enemy’ side while, on the other, it explains the inevitability of fatalities on the propagandist’s side. The Russian information campaign has also conjured up a simplified picture of the world, which helps to find answers to potential difficult questions. According to researchers, the demand for such simplifications rises in crisis situations, and propaganda turns into a tool for mass therapy through news.

However, Russian propaganda has had an Achilles’ heel right from the outset of the aggression in February: the war coverage by the Russian media built an expectation of imminent victory. The further the hostilities dragged on, the more difficult it became to construct an ‘image of victory’, especially given that the Ukrainian successes were associated with strikes against targets with high symbolic value, be it the Moskva warship or the Crimean Bridge. The unattainability of victory presumably generated increased frustration and a wave of rising negative emotions. Once control over these emotions is lost, they could be directed not only at external targets, but also ones within the political system.

An Alternate Reality: How Russia’s State TV Spins the Ukraine War

Paul Mozur, Adam Satariano and Aaron Krolik

As Russian tanks were stuck in the mud outside Kyiv earlier this year and the economic fallout of war with Ukraine took hold, one part of Russia’s government hummed with precision: television propaganda.

Spinning together a counternarrative for tens of millions of viewers, Russian propagandists plucked clips from American cable news, right-wing social media and Chinese officials. They latched onto claims that Western embargoes of Russian oil would be self-defeating, that the United States was hiding secret bioweapon research labs in Ukraine and that China was a loyal ally against a fragmenting West.

Day by day, state media journalists sharpened those themes in emails. They sometimes broadcast battlefield videos and other information sent to them by the successor agency to the K.G.B. And they excerpted and translated footage from favorite pundits, like the Fox News host Tucker Carlson, whose remarks about the war were shown to millions of Russians.

“Be sure to take Tucker,” one Russian news producer wrote to a colleague. The email referred to a clip in which Mr. Carlson described the power of the Chinese-Russian partnership that had emerged under Mr. Biden — and how American economic policies targeting Russia could undermine the dollar’s status as a world-reserve currency.

How Putin Is Pushing Russia Toward De-Dollarization

Axel de Vernou

As Western countries continue to push for Moscow’s ostracization from global financial markets, the Kremlin will test how long its raw materials can serve as a source of profit and regime stability. In the long run, Russia’s rapprochement with China, which is developing alternative financial systems to the dollar, will enable it to persevere through this year’s sanctions if the West does not pursue more far-reaching methods.

Last month, the London Metal Exchange (LME) attracted international attention when it bucked the trend of intensifying bans on Russian goods. Expecting Russian metals to continue generating strong profits in 2023, the LME has chosen not to prohibit their importation despite the European Union’s ban on Russian semi-finished steel imports in October.

In late September, the European Commission received a joint letter from nine European steel companies warning of the “consequences of a potential import ban,” citing the lack of substitutes for Russia. While the EU pushed forward with the ban nonetheless, it is unlikely that it will last for long because, ironically, European industry once again made its voice heard in late October when Washington proposed additional aluminum bans. In other words, when the EU took a step to minimize Russian imports, the United States could not match its ally because of an alarmed concert of European industrial groups worrying about repercussions for the EU.

China-US Competition Seems to be Working for Africa

Chensi Li and Sena Voncujovi

During this week’s U.S.-Africa Summit, it was obvious that every official had been briefed not to mention one word: China. In response to journalists’ questions about U.S. plans to counter the influence of China in the African continent, officials quickly rebuffed these ideas and – in our view rightly – emphasized Africa’s own importance in the world as driving Washington’s Africa+1 Summit.

Indeed, after an eight-year hiatus, the Biden administration’s U.S.-Africa Summit marked a turning point in the United States’ foreign policy regarding Africa.

Three areas stand out: clear and significant financial commitments; the promise to support African diplomatic interests at the United Nations and G-20; and the references and MOUs signed related to African development frameworks and flagship projects such as the African Continental Free Trade Area. These were all major new achievements compared to Barack Obama’s 2014 U.S.-Africa Summit.

How Can Japan Help Taiwan?

Mina Pollmann

Last weekend, Hagiuda Koichi visited Taiwan and held a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen. Hagiuda’s visit, from December 10 to 12, was watched closely, as he is the chair of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) Policy Research Council. This was the first time since 2003 that such a high-ranking member of LDP visited Taiwan.

During their meeting, Hagiuda and Tsai confirmed that Japan and Taiwan would increase security cooperation in response to China’s increasing military pressure on Taiwan. Tsai stated, “Together, we would like to promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” and Hagiuda responded, “Taiwan is an important partner, and we share fundamental values.”

Hagiuda spoke strongly to reporters after the meeting, saying, “We confirmed our basic stance that Japan and Taiwan will firmly protect the Taiwan Strait and that we will not allow the changing of the status quo by force.”

A Wireless Intelligence Community ‘On The Horizon,' Official Says


Some wireless devices—phones, tablets, or maybe even smart watches—could soon be welcome inside secure facilities, according to an intel official.

“I think it's inevitable, in terms of the incorporation of wireless, into our community, into our facilities,” Douglas Cossa, the chief information officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency said Thursday. “I mean, when you look at it, look at all the technology you're driving in with through the gate, even what's on your car, your key fob, it's just inevitable that we're going to have to face that.”

And because companies aren’t going to develop technology just for the intelligence community, “we're going to have to adjust our posture and our policies to incorporate that in, and that includes wireless,” Cossa said during a panel at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information System, or DoDIIS, Worldwide Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Ultimately, he said, the challenge is in securing data, e.g. encryption, and “tearing down the walls” of command centers and offices built in response to crises.

Vision 2035: Global Response in the Age of Precision Munitions

Charles Krulak, Anthony Zinni

In the rush to restructure the Marine Corps from a global force focused on uncertainties to a regional force focused on the certainty of a single threat (China’s Navy), the Marine Corps jettisoned many capabilities needed to fight and win today and in the future. The magnitude of these divestments is reflected in the accompanying graphic.

Is the World Ready for the New Era of Deterrence?

Steve Cimbala, Lawrence J. Korb

The twenty-first century will challenge the concept of deterrence in new ways. Some are already apparent. There are at least nine important components of the new metaverse for deterrence (or meta-deterrence) that will be significant for military planners, policymakers, and theorists.

The first component of the new metaverse for deterrence is the growing threat to states’ cybersecurity and the possibility of cyberwar. Cyberwar among state and non-state actors is already a significant challenge to international security. Cyberattacks occur as solo excursions or as supplements to the kinetic use of force. Both the public and private sectors are vulnerable to cyberwar, and the possibility of a crippling attack against American infrastructure, including military forces and command systems, requires constant vigilance and upgrades to information systems. In the case of nuclear deterrence, a nuclear first strike would probably be preceded by cyberattacks against the opponent’s early warning, command-and-control, and response systems in order to introduce confusion or paralysis that could delay or forestall an effective response.

EXPLAINER: What can the Patriot missile do for Ukraine?


WASHINGTON (AP) — Patriot missile systems have long been a hot ticket item for the U.S. and allies in contested areas of the world as a coveted shield against incoming missiles. In Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific, they guard against potential strikes from Iran, Somalia and North Korea.

So it was a critical turning point when news broke this week that the U.S. has agreed to send a Patriot missile battery to Ukraine — something Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has sought for months to augment his country’s air defenses. U.S. officials have confirmed the agreement, and an official announcement is expected soon. But experts caution that the system’s effectiveness is limited, and it may not be a game changer in the war.

A look at what the system is and what it does:


The Patriot is a surface-to-air guided missile system that was first deployed in the 1980s and can target aircraft, cruise missiles and shorter-range ballistic missiles.

Each Patriot battery consists of a truck-mounted launching system with eight launchers that can hold up to four missile interceptors each, a ground radar, a control station and a generator. The Army said it currently has 16 Patriot battalions. A 2018 International Institute for Strategic Studies report found those battalions operate 50 batteries, which have more than 1,200 missile interceptors.