2 January 2023

To Deter China, Taiwan Must Prepare for War

Ethan Kessler

China’s threat to take Taiwan by force looks more credible by the day as Beijing’s military power grows. The U.S. is taking the lead in response. But that needs to change if Taiwan wants to secure itself from invasion.

China’s Communist Party promised in 1949 to absorb Taiwan, where the Chinese Nationalists had fled in defeat. For most of the seven decades since, China’s lackluster military capabilities meant it couldn’t enforce the claim. That has changed. Following years of increased military spending and modernization, China is gaining the capacity to blockade and even invade Taiwan. From 2012 to 2021, Beijing nearly doubled its military spending to about $210 billion a year, according to a recent Pentagon estimate. This increased spending has bought enhanced air, naval, missile and amphibious-assault capabilities.

In response, Washington wants to make Taiwan more defensible. The National Defense Authorization Act, which President Biden signed last Friday, provides $10 billion in new security assistance to Taiwan over the next five years. And like the Trump administration, the Biden administration has pressed Taipei to steer its arms purchases and force structure toward an asymmetric defense strategy aimed at offsetting Taiwan’s weaknesses with relatively cheap, easily distributed weapons.

If China Cracked U.S. Encryption, Why Would It Tell Us?

Georgianna Shea Annie Fixler 

When Alan Turing cracked the Enigma code during the Second World War, neither the United Kingdom nor the United States immediately published a paper announcing the achievement. Instead, they kept it to themselves so they could keep reading Nazi messages encrypted using Engima machines. Last month, in contrast, Chinese academics from government-run laboratories and research organizations published a paper claiming to have developed a new mathematical strategy to break RSA encryption, today’s standard.

If the Chinese government can crack RSA encryption, then they can break into every U.S. government and private sector system, seeing and exfiltrating anything and everything, achieving true information dominance over Washington and its allies and partners.

There are reasons to doubt the accuracy of the paper’s claims, however, and even more reasons to question why Chinese researchers would show their hand if they really cracked our codes.

Some day, computer scientists will break RSA encryption. But before that happens, they will need to have the right tools. Based on the current understanding of math, breaking RSA encryption will require quantum computers, which harness the principles of quantum physics to accelerate problem-solving exponentially.

The race to quantum computing is well underway. In November, IBM launched the largest quantum computer yet, the Osprey. This milestone “brings us a step closer” to “the coming era of quantum-centric supercomputing,” IBM’s director of research said. But the Osprey cannot yet solve the complex mathematical problems facing those who want to break RSA encryption. Beijing, however, claims it can break RSA encryption with a hybrid approach combining classical computing and quantum computing using a smaller quantum computer.

China’s Brute Force Economics: Waking Up from the Dream of a Level Playing Field

Liza Tobin

In 2017, China’s chief justice, Zhou Qiang, told legal officials in Beijing to resist “erroneous” ideas from the West like “constitutional democracy,” “separation of powers,” and “independence of the judiciary.” His statements shocked some Western observers who had watched in cautious optimism as Zhou, a well-educated jurist with a reputation as a reformer, spearheaded efforts to make China’s courts more professional.1 Behind Zhou’s words was a hard truth: Reforms could only go so far before they collided with the reality that, in the People’s Republic of China, the judiciary is subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party.

This dynamic matters beyond China’s borders. Cooperative trading relations require a common set of rules or expectations that ensure that economic competition occurs on a level playing field. Beijing’s rejection of the rule of law as a fundamental operating principle means that the normative commercial structures upon which modern trade depends are at the mercy of a powerful and ideologically motivated political party. The Chinese Communist Party’s ruthless pursuit of techno-economic dominance in a range of strategic sectors has distorted activities that are usually thought of as positive sum — trade and technology cooperation — into zero-sum games.

The time has come for the United States and its allies to abandon the notion that competing on a level playing field with China’s state-led economy is possible and confront the reality of what I am calling the country’s brute force economics. I use this term as an analytic frame to summarize the aggressive, evolving, and often opaque web of policies and tactics that Beijing employs to give its national champions — corporations acting to advance government policy — an advantage and seize a dominant global market share in strategic sectors. The litany of specific practices is long: market access restrictions in strategic sectors, massive subsidies that fuel domestic overcapacity and enable Chinese firms to wipe out foreign competition, requirements for foreign firms to transfer technology in order to access the Chinese market, economic coercion, intellectual property theft, cyber- and human-enabled espionage, and forced labor. China’s brute force economics playbook puts competing firms out of business and destroys entire industries in rival nations. Once international competitors to Chinese national champions are either acquired or eliminated, trade partners have no choice but to rely on Chinese firms for critical technology products or inputs.

How China Is Using Vladimir Putin

Michael Schuman

Back in the 1960s, China and Russia squandered their chance to defeat the West when they became bitter rivals during the Cold War. Today, their presidents—who are expected to confer again this week—are trying to correct that fateful error. The world’s most powerful autocracies have joined forces for an assault on the liberal order led by the United States and its allies—a threat made all too real when Russia invaded democratic Ukraine in February with Chinese support. Authoritarianism was again on the march, and the world’s major democracies faced a grave challenge to their unity and resolve.

As 2022 has unfolded and the true nature of the Russia-China relationship has become more apparent, the danger it poses seems less acute. What has emerged is nothing like an axis of autocrats, but a lopsided partnership in which the terms are defined by its alpha member, Xi Jinping, primarily to serve China’s interests. This tells us a lot about the foreign-policy principles of China’s leaders and how those ideas may hamper Beijing’s quest to reshape the world order.

Historically, relations between China and Russia have been fraught with distrust and confrontation. The two came frighteningly close to nuclear war in the late 1960s, at the height of their Cold War schism. More recently, though, Beijing and Moscow have found common cause. Economically, they are mutually beneficial trading partners, with China’s industrial machine importing Russian oil, gas, coal, and other raw materials in exchange for high-tech Chinese goods.

Xi and Putin Meet Again, Two Strongmen in a Weak Moment

David Pierson and Anton Troianovski

When China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia declared a “no limits” partnership 10 months ago, the pair projected an aura of strength in a direct challenge to the United States and the West.

As the two leaders met again on Friday via video, they found themselves in positions of weakness, encumbered by geopolitical and economic threats to their informal authoritarian alliance. Both now have little room to maneuver, making the relationship all the more important, albeit also a lot more complicated.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Mr. Putin has been isolated and highly dependent on China to maintain a semblance of diplomatic and financial stability. His needs have intensified in recent months as the Kremlin has suffered setbacks on the battlefield in a grinding war that has killed thousands of civilians and left Russia’s economy vulnerable.

This month, Mr. Xi has seen his much-touted coronavirus pandemic strategy unravel and Covid cases explode, marring the image he wants to present to the world as the leader of a superior political system. With the current crisis, he can neither fully throw his weight behind Mr. Putin and risk sanctions, nor abandon him and risk losing a key geopolitical ally to counter the West.

Turkey’s Growing Foreign Policy Ambitions

Kali Robinson

Founded in 1923 from the remains of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey pursued a secular, Western-aligned foreign policy by joining NATO and seeking closer ties with the EU.

In recent decades, Ankara has angered some neighbors with its territorial claims; refugee policies; and military interventions in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere.

Facing economic upheaval, President Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party now seek to repair some of Turkey’s bilateral relationships and deepen ties with China and Russia.


Following its founding as a republic in 1923, Turkey forged close economic and military ties with the West as part of its vision of becoming a modern, secular nation. But in the two decades since the rise of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has sought to rebrand Turkey as a free agent and a world power in its own right.

Islamic State Sympathizer Arrested for Carrying Out Jerusalem Bombings


On Tuesday, the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and Israeli Police announced the arrest of 26-year-old Aslam Faroukh, an Islamic State sympathizer and a resident of Israel suspected of carrying out two bombing attacks in Jerusalem on November 23.

Israeli authorities alleged that Faroukh, a mechanical engineer by trade, learned to make explosive devices by researching the subject online. In the days following the bombings, investigators located a scooter used to transport materiel in the attack, five pipe bombs, clothing, a helmet and other items. Investigators also recovered an explosive device that was intended to be used in another attack by Faroukh.

On the day of the bombings, Faroukh drove his scooter to a hitchhiking station where he placed the first charge behind bushes, and the second charge was placed at Ramot station. Approximately one hour after placing the explosives, Faroukh detonated the charges via a cell phone. The bombings resulted in the deaths of two civilians and the injury of more than 20 people.

Is Iran On the Verge of Another Revolution?

Bobby Ghosh

What to expect in 2023:

Going into the new year, I’ll be keeping my eye on two stories that could dramatically change the geopolitics of the Middle East: the protests in Iran and the general election in Turkey. I’ll focus on the former here, and come back to the latter in a column soon.

The most important question about the Iranian protests is whether they can evolve into a full-blown revolution capable of toppling the Islamic Republic. Some argue that bridge has already been crossed: What began as sporadic demonstrations against the restrictive dress code for women — sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police — has long since evolved into full-throated calls for the downfall of the regime.

Three months after Amini’s death, the protests have lasted longer than any previous expressions of public dissent since the 1979 Islamic revolution that led to the creation of the theocratic state. In the past four decades, the political system installed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has left Iran isolated in world affairs, debilitated its economy and denied its people both economic opportunities and a political voice.

Unsurprisingly, the mostly young protesters want the entire edifice of that state dismantled. The regime’s heavy-handed crackdown — including mass imprisonment, rape, torture and executions — has not cowed them. If anything, their voices have grown more strident, their demands more insistent. It is the regime that is showing signs of strain: Diverting an aircraft to prevent the family of a famous soccer player from leaving the country, apparently because he is a prominent supporter of the protests, smacks of desperation. Calls for the death of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are now routine, as are the destruction of statues and posters of the regime’s heroes, such as the military commander Qassem Soleimani.

‘Special pay’ keeps Pentagon’s cyber experts from jumping ship

Colin Demarest and Molly Weisner

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military is paying tens of millions of dollars each year above set compensation rates to keep sought-after cyber experts onboard and engaged on the digital front lines, according to a federal watchdog.

The services “spent at least $160 million on cyber retention bonuses annually” from fiscal 2017 to 2021, the Government Accountability Office said in a workforce evaluation published this month. Staffing levels across most related career fields that the auditor studied, including in the Army, Air Force and Navy, remained above 80% in the same timeframe.

Special pay is meant to help ensure the military holds on to its top performers, has people in hard-to-fill roles and maintains much-needed expertise amid rivaling opportunities with outside companies or other federal agencies. The services determine how to distribute the incentives, with guidance flowing from the Department of Defense.

The department’s ability to sustain a ready and sufficient cyber cohort is critical to the shielding of its networks and its most sensitive information as well as the execution of digital strikes or influence campaigns on foreign countries or militant groups. Recruitment woes, however, have consumed headlines; the U.S. Army, for example, suffered a shortfall of 15,000 recruits in fiscal 2022. That left the service 20,000 or so troops short of its end-strength number authorized by Congress.

U.S. says it killed nearly 700 Islamic State suspects this year

Dan Lamothe

American military personnel, together with local forces in Iraq and Syria, killed nearly 700 suspected members of the Islamic State in 2022, officials said Thursday, highlighting an aggressive counterterrorism campaign that quietly endures five years after a U.S.-led coalition destroyed the militant group’s caliphate.

U.S. forces conducted 108 joint operations in the past year against alleged ISIS operatives in Syria and an additional 191 in Iraq, U.S. Central Command said in a statement, which notes that American troops undertook another 14 missions by themselves and only inside Syria. Nearly 400 suspects were detained, it says.

“The emerging, reliable and steady ability of our Iraqi and Syrian partner forces to conduct unilateral operations to capture and kill ISIS leaders allows us to maintain steady pressure on the ISIS network,” Maj. Gen. Matt McFarlane, the top commander of the task force overseeing these operations, said in the statement.

Last year, following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden declared at the United Nations that the United States would no longer “fight the wars of the past.” But in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon maintains contingents of about 2,500 and 900 troops, respectively, who still occasionally come under enemy fire.

The Biden administration tries to stop Iran from supplying Russia with drones.

David E. Sanger, Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has launched a broad effort to halt Iran’s ability to produce and deliver drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, an endeavor that has echoes of its yearslong program to cut off Tehran’s access to nuclear technology.

In interviews in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, a range of intelligence, military and national security officials have described an expanding U.S. program that aims to choke off Iran’s ability to manufacture the drones, make it harder for the Russians to launch the unmanned “kamikaze” aircraft and — if all else fails — to provide the Ukrainians with the defenses necessary to shoot them out of the sky.

U.S. forces are helping Ukraine’s military target the sites where the drones are being prepared for launch — a difficult task because the Russians are moving the launch sites around, from soccer fields to parking lots. And they are rushing in new technologies designed to give early warning of approaching drone swarms, to improve Ukraine’s chances of bringing them down, with everything from gunfire to missiles.

But all three approaches have run into deep challenges, and the drive to cut off critical parts for the drones is already proving as difficult as the decades-old drive to deprive Iran of the components needed to build the delicate centrifuges it uses to enrich near-bomb-grade uranium.

$100 Billion For Ukraine? Congress Needs To Explain Why

Daniel Davis

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last week became the first foreign wartime leader since Winston Churchill in December 1942 to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. While he received a rousing standing ovation for his remarks and will likely secure $47 billion in additional support from Congress, it is now necessary for Congress to explain to the American people how U.S. interests are being advanced by the nearly $100 billion we’ve given Ukraine to date, what this new support will be used for, and how we will know if the money has been wisely spent.

First, let’s examine what Ukraine got as a result of Zelensky’s trip. The marquis capacity was Biden’s formally announcement that the U.S. Patriot air defense system will be sent to Ukraine, along with over 200,000 rounds of artillery, rockets, and tank rounds. While many in the U.S. and Ukraine were excited about the Patriot announcement, it is important to understand what one battery can and cannot do.
Limited Effect of a Patriot

Last week Russia launched its ninth round of strategic missile strikes against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure since mid-October, crippling almost half of the country’s electricity generation. Zelensky has been pleading for air defense from the United States and the West almost since the beginning of the war. In the past months, however, the West has been more than generous, providing large numbers of modern air defense systems. The question: Does adding this Patriot battery represent a game-changer for Ukraine? The honest short answer: no.

Russia's Wagner militia is openly and angrily feuding with its main military over the faltering invasion of Ukraine


The leader of the pro-Russian Wagner Group private army endorsed a stinging criticism of Russia's official military, the Daily Beast reported, escalating the in-fighting around the war in Ukraine.

The intervention by Yevgeny Prigozhin came after a foul-mouthed video from his rank-and-file mercenaries attacking Russia's top general, accusing him of leaving them to do all the hard fighting.

It is the latest salvo in a bitter rift between Russia's formal military leaders and Wagner, the private army smiled upon by President Vladimir Putin and which is supporting the country's invasion of Ukraine.

On Monday, Prigozhin commented on a video that has circulated for a few days, the Beast reported.

In the video, a Wagner fighter addresses comments to the Chief of the General Staff of Russia's army, Valery Gerasimov: "You are a fucking motherfucker," he said, per the Beast's translation.

Why Europe Struggles With US Export Controls on China

Antonia Hmaidi and Rebecca Arcesati

In October 2022, the United States imposed the most sweeping export controls on China to date. The rules seek to curtail China’s access to advanced semiconductor technology, including chips and the tools and expertise to make chips or to produce China’s own semiconductor manufacturing equipment (SME). The aim is to swiftly use U.S. leverage to blunt China’s supercomputing and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, based on the rationale that these enable China to develop advanced weapon systems like hypersonic missiles and surveillance infrastructure linked to human rights abuses.

The new controls significantly escalate China-U.S. tech competition. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has said his government wants to “maintain as large of a lead as possible” in AI and other “force-multiplying technologies.” Washington now treats China’s strategy of civil-military fusion and draconian surveillance programs, as well as advanced computing and semiconductor fabrication, as a threat to national security. Its protective measures are also inevitably hitting commercial technologies and industries in the United States and elsewhere.

A New Age for South America’s Lithium Triangle?

Scott B. MacDonald

Latin America and the Caribbean have gone through several different cycles with commodities—elevating the region’s importance in the global economy and shaping the region’s socioeconomic development. King sugar is synonymous with the Caribbean as is gold, silver, and, later, tin with Bolivia. In the twenty-first century, lithium, a soft, silvery-white alkali metal, is on the rise. It is regarded as one of the so-called “clean metals,” central to the great energy transition of the twenty-first century, the shift from fossil fuels to renewables. Without lithium, the world of long-life batteries, electric vehicles (EVs), and non-fossil fuel power plants is not a possibility. As the world looks for an energy revolution, Latin America’s lithium triangle—Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile—is estimated to hold close to 60 percent of global lithium reserves.



Someone in my life wired through intermediaries some aid money to Ukrainians in the early days of the war. He received back a story of a Ukrainian woman who fed Russian soldiers several times after they came to her door. Then one day, while retrieving food from the kitchen, she heard a thud and, returning to another room, found her husband with his throat slit. And then she was taken upstairs and raped repeatedly.

I cannot confirm the report, but it is plausible. Many such horrors have been confirmed and reported.

I have wanted to share this particular horror story and to write something about the war. The enormity of the topic has left me wordless. But President Zelensky, of Ukraine, asked that the world think at Christmas about the sufferings of his people at Christmas, so herewith a handful of thoughts.

We should not assume that atrocities such as those committed against the woman and her husband are necessarily absent from just wars. But we should not draw a false moral equivalence, either. The purpose and conduct of a war matter. A just war in which an atrocity is committed will be just in part if the perpetrators of the injustice are punished justly.

Putin’s End-of-Year Message — Embrace the Forever War

Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov

For weeks, the Russian media struggled with uncertainty as the Kremlin failed to signal whether Putin’s annual address to the Federal Assembly (both chambers of parliament) would take place. Finally, it was called off.

The leader’s traditional end-year press conference was also canceled, for the first time in a decade. And on December 20, the Day of the Chekist, the Russian president didn’t make it to the celebration, and limited himself to a video address. This is not a day like any other; it is the annual professional holiday for Russian state security officers, and a favorite of Putin’s, himself a former head of the FSB. By this point, the rumor mill was in overdrive.

Finally, Putin appeared in person, choosing the conference of the Ministry of Defense on December 21 to deliver a speech.

The Russian leader sounded irritated by Western counterparts who had failed, time and again, to understand his logic on Ukraine. Unlike the generals here before me, he told his uniformed audience, you at least know what I’m talking about. The message was plain enough; the head of state and his military were marching in lockstep.

First Javelins. Then HIMARS. Now Patriot. What’s next?


The evolving war in Ukraine will present difficult new tests in 2023 for the self-imposed red lines Western nations have placed on the weapons they provide to the country.

The bar might be harder to cross as the war grinds on, however as advanced fighter planes like American-made F-16s, U.S. and German-made tanks, and drones on the Ukrainian wish list await more difficult decisions in Western capitals about how much high-end equipment they can — or want to — send in the short-term.

The continued savage, close-quarters combat in Bakhmut and increasingly static frontlines in the south and east of the country augur a war that will grind on. The U.S. and Europe already have billions more in the pipeline to keep Ukraine fighting until a path to ending the war emerges. The question for the West and Ukraine now is: What sort of end should they be aiming for, and how do we get there?

That answer likely hinges in large part on what new weapons the U.S. and its European allies sign off on sending to Kyiv in the coming months, current and former officials say.

West’s Double Standards: Pursuit For Human Rights Or A Tool For Dominance

With the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, it was hoped that the world especially the eastern part of the globe would have at least peace at borders and within. The regional power competitors were looking for regional prosperity through development and multilateralism.

However, the emerging situation in Ukraine since 2014 was a preparation for another regional chaos, which exacerbated as the Ukraine – Russia war. The US planned and secretly pushed the war to Russian borders. US since 2014, has provided around $22.1 billion to Ukraine in security assistance for training and equipment, and to help maintain its territorial integrity, secure its borders, and improve interoperability with NATO. In response to Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine, US and its allies sided with Ukraine and supported it to safeguard it sovereignty and territorial integrity. Furthermore, other than military assistance, disinformation is also employed as one of the chief weapons to manipulate the international arena with fabrication.

Moreover, in controlling states’ behaviour, weapon modernization – a tactic to engage the world into arm race to ensure negative peace and stability through deterrence is massively employed. On one hand, through weapon modernization, countries come under heavy debt, the donors’ economy flourish and these recipient states suffer at home due to multiple encumbrances. Security assistance in that regard is a trap by U.S.

The Arsenal of Democracy Is Back in Business

Robbie Gramer

The United States nearly doubled the number and price tag of approved arms sales to NATO allies in 2022 compared with 2021, as alliance members scramble to stock up on high-end weapons in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In 2021, the U.S. government approved 14 possible major arms sales to NATO allies worth around $15.5 billion. In 2022, that jumped up to 24 possible major arms sales worth around $28 billion, including $1.24 billion worth of arms sales to expected future NATO member Finland, according to a Foreign Policy analysis of two years of data from the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

While not all arms sales will be finalized with the same numbers outlined in the proposals, the sharp uptick in these plans reflects a massive shift in Europe’s security landscape after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February. After some European countries allowed their defense capabilities to atrophy for decades, Russia’s invasion jolted Europe into a scramble to rapidly boost military spending.

“Everyone is trying to lock down arms sales deals as quickly as possible,” said one Eastern European defense official, who spoke to Foreign Policy on condition of anonymity. “Russia’s invasion has brought a cold new reality to Europe.”


During the day, Russian forces launched 2 air strikes, 2 missile strikes and more than 10 attacks from MLRS systems.

Russia continues offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas and tries to improve the tactical position in the Lyman areas. In other directions, Russian forces are defending.

President of Ukraine delivered the annual Message to the Verkhovna Rada and presented state awards to Ukrainian defenders

Since the start of war, 94,000 tenders for UAH 120 billion held on Prozorro

More than 700 critical infrastructure facilities damaged in Ukraine since the beginning of full-scale russian invasion

MFA of Ukraine expresses a strong protest in connection with the illegal entry of the official of the administration of the President of the Russian Federation Serhii Kiriyenko to the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine in the Zaporizhzhia region, including his stay at the Ukrainian nuclear facility – the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Comment of the MFA of Ukraine on the decree of the president of the russian federation “On certain issues of acquiring citizenship of the russian federation”

Assessing War Commentary

Lawrence Freedman

Following Sam’s example I thought I should try to assess my own performance over the past year. From the moment we set up the substack it was clear that the big issue for me was going to be the Russian threat to Ukraine. I wrote five pieces in the period before the war and another 35 once it started. In the pre-war pieces the question was whether there was going to be a war and if so what form it might take. Once the war began the issue became one of its likely course. The big questions were - and sadly still are - about who was ‘winning’, how long the fighting would last and what it would take to bring it to an end, along with the risk of nuclear use and the economic dimensions of the war.

Many of my posts have been as much backward as forward looking, trying to explain the background to events. When looking forward I have been wary of predicting. One person above all is responsible for this terrible wars, and while trying to make sense of Vladimir Putin’s priorities and presumptions is essential to any analysis, I cannot claim any special insight into his decision-making. Moreover, while one can normally expect a stronger force to prevail over a weaker one, the tactics and strategies employed make a difference, as they have done to a remarkable extent in this case. This war has been extremely focused, in that it has largely take place on Ukrainian territory. At the same time it has involved many countries, most committed to supporting Ukraine, a few sympathetic to Russia, others looking to mediate, and all taking to varying degrees an economic hit from the knock-on effects of the war.

My preference therefore has been to talk about trends, possibilities, and developments coming into view. Wars pass through stages, depending on the fortunes of the two sides in battle, their ability to keep forces supplied and reinforced, and the shifting impacts of such factors as terrain and weather. One also has to be aware that both sides are trying to shape perceptions. On the Russian side the habitual lying means that the inclination is just to dismiss whatever the Kremlin says, although it has been important to try to explore the ongoing debates in Moscow. On the Ukrainian side, at times military prospects have been played up to boost morale and to encourage support, and then played down, to underscore the dire consequences if more Western support is not forthcoming.


Angela Howard, Riley Bailey, Karolina Hird, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan

Russian forces conducted another massive series of missile strikes against Ukrainian critical infrastructure on December 29. Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces launched 69 cruise missiles and 23 drones at Ukraine and that Ukrainian air defenses shot down 54 of the missiles and at least 11 of the drones.[1] Ukrainian sources reported that Russian forces struck targets, primarily infrastructure facilities, in Lviv, Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, and Donetsk oblasts causing widespread disruptions to energy, heating, and water supplies.[2] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces also struck targets in Sumy, Chernihiv, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia, Khmelnytsky, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk, and Zaporizhia oblasts.[3] The Belarusian Ministry of Defense claimed that Belarusian air defenses shot down a Ukrainian S-300 air defense missile during the wave of Russian strikes and that wreckage fell onto Belarusian territory.[4] It is currently unclear whether Ukrainian air defenses may have been responding to Russian missile launches from Belarusian territory, which Russian forces have used repeatedly in support of their campaign against Ukrainian critical infrastructure.[5]

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) responded to ongoing Western assessments that it has severely depleted its stock of high-precision weapons systems amidst the massive strike against Ukraine by stating that it would never run out of Kalibr missiles.[6] ISW has previously assessed that Russian forces have significantly depleted their arsenal of high-precision weapons systems but will likely continue to threaten Ukrainian critical infrastructure at scale in the near term and cause substantial suffering to Ukrainian civilians.[7] Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate Chief Kyrylo Budanov stated on December 26 that Russian forces had enough missiles to conduct two or three more large-scale strikes.[8] ISW assesses that the Russian campaign to break the Ukrainian will to fight through large-scale missile strikes against critical infrastructure will fail even if the Russians are able to conduct more barrages than Budanov estimated.[9]

US Military Develops AI Systems to Counter Iranian Drone Threats

General Michael "Erik" Kurilla, Commander of US Central Command, announced during a press briefing that the US military has developed three innovative AI military systems to counter Iranian threats in the Middle East region. These systems, which cover land, sea, and air capabilities, are being implemented in response to the sophisticated and expanding capabilities of Iranian drones in the region. Kurilla specifically highlighted the increasing range and deadlier payloads of these drones as a threat to the US and its partner militaries.

"Iranian drones are a threat in the region. Iran commands an arsenal of drone systems ranging from small, short-range to modern intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance units. They are building larger drones that can fly further with increasingly deadly payloads," Kurilla explained.

To address these emerging threats, the US is downsizing its ground presence and instead relying on interconnected AI systems that will integrate with the region's militaries. One of these systems, Task Force 59, will consist of a fleet of over 100 maritime vessels based in Bahrain and Aqaba, Jordan, working together and communicating to provide a common operating picture to all participating militaries. Task Force 99, based in Qatar, will operate aerial drones equipped with tailored payloads and other capabilities to observe, detect, and gather data for an operations center. Task Force 39, the land component, will test concepts and technology, including a fleet of unmanned and manned ground vehicles, to defeat Iranian drones.

Strategic Communication and Security Force Assistance: Critical Components for Ukrainian Success?

Dr. Olga R. Chiriac, Dr. Jahara "Franky" Matisek


On 15 February 2022, deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation voted to support the resolution “on the appeal of the President” and the “need to recognize the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR).”[1] One week after this resolution passed the Duma, in his 21 February address, President Putin played out an alternative version of the situation in Ukraine, one in which he emphasized a common “history, culture and spiritual space.”[2] By the morning of 24 February, Putin took to TV once again, announcing the initiation of a “special military operation” to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine. Such events are likely to re-shape the post-Cold War international. Moreover, political and military leaders are rethinking how their armed forces should function in the new battlespaces. The Information Age of warfare places increasing value on using non-kinetic capabilities to influence and shape battlefields and audiences around the world.[3] Months into the conflict, the international community, and especially the West, are astonished by the resolve and effectiveness of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) against a numerically superior aggressor. Naturally, the question arises, which elements contributed to said resolve and effectiveness, and are there any lessons that can be drawn from the example of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war?

Political and military leaders are rethinking how their armed forces should function in the new battlespaces. The Information Age of warfare places increasing value on using non-kinetic capabilities to influence and shape battlefields and audiences around the world.

‘Dangerously’ close: Video shows Chinese jet buzzing US spy plane

Stephen Losey

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Thursday released video it said showed a Chinese fighter jet coming dangerously close to a U.S. Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea last week.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy pilot flew the J-11 fighter in front of, and within 20 feet of, the Rivet Joint’s nose during the Dec. 21 intercept, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.

A U.S. military spokesperson said the Chinese fighter first came about 10 feet from the Rivet Joint’s wing, before moving in front of the U.S. plane. In that position, the spokesperson said, it was unlikely the Chinese pilot could safely see the RC-135.

The spokesperson said the Air Force plane maintained its course and speed, and the Chinese fighter “dangerously drifted within 20 feet of the RC-135′s nose.”

This was “an unsafe maneuver ... forcing the RC-135 to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision,” INDOPACOM said.

The command also said the Rivet Joint was in international airspace at the time, conducting “routine operations.”