6 January 2023

China–India-Pakistan Nuclear Trilemma and the Imperative of Risk Reduction Measures

Ramesh THAKUR, Shatabhisha SHETTY and Waheguru Pal Singh SIDHU

Geopolitical tensions in Southern Asia are characterised by shared borders, major territorial disputes, history of wars, political volatility and instability. This fraught dynamic is compounded by China–India–Pakistan nuclear relations or the nuclear “trilemma” which is shaped by military developments, threat perceptions, as well as alliance, adversary and deterrence relations between the three nuclear-armed states. To mitigate the growing risks in Southern Asia and the impact across the Asia-Pacific, the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and the Toda Peace Institute have collaborated on a research project to map the contours of the China–India–Pakistan nuclear trilemma. The series of articles published in this special issue of the Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament is a selection of nine papers commissioned for the project that address different aspects of the trilemma, examining bilateral, trilateral and plurilateral drivers; exploring practical nuclear risk reduction, crisis stability and confidence building measures and a potential nuclear restraint regime; and identify mechanisms and opportunities for tension reduction and conflict resolution in order to normalize interstate relations and promote people-people ties.

This essay by Ramesh Thakur, Shatabhisha Shetty, and Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu is an introduction to the China-India-Pakistan Nuclear Trilemma project and the project’s special reports. The nine reports, their conclusions, and policy recommendations are summarised here.

Geopolitical “Entanglements” and the China-India-Pakistan Nuclear Trilemma

Lou Chunhao

Lou Chunhao analyses the geopolitical trends in Southern Asia and their implications for the China, India, Pakistan triangular nuclear relationship. He writes that the geopolitical situation in South Asia is witnessing entangled trends, which are reflected as chronic India-Pakistan confrontation, the frigid China-India relationship and the increasing US-China competition. Even though China may not want to be involved in an India-Pakistan confrontation in the region, China is undeniably an important factor shaping the India-Pakistan interaction to some extent. As an extra-regional power, the United States has a long history of being involved in regional affairs of South Asia. Given its strategic competition between with China, however, the US-China bilateral relationship is likely to face fierce challenges before it can reach a new balance. Chunhao argues that both, India and Pakistan, will get dragged into this balancing act between China and the United States. Though nuclear weapons, functioning as a strategic deterrence tool, will constrain all concerning parties from going to an all-out war, the geopolitical entanglement will have serious impacts on the regional nuclear situation in Southern Asia. This paper also gives recommendations for managing this complex interaction. Chunhao recommends that all concerned parties should strive to overcome the security dilemma and maintain peace and stability in this region by strengthening confidence-building measures, conducting strategic dialogues and improving crisis management mechanisms.

The latest flashpoint on the India-China border: Zooming into the Tawang border skirmishes

Nathan Ruser & Baani Grewal

On 9 December 2022, Indian and Chinese troops clashed at the Yangtse Plateau along the India-China border. The confrontation was the most serious skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops since Galwan in 2020.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s latest visual project provides satellite imagery analysis of the key areas (including 3D models) and geolocates military, infrastructure and transport positions to show new developments over the last 12 months.

Tawang is strategically valuable Indian territory wedged between China and Bhutan. The Yangtse Plateau is an important location in Tawang because it enables visibility over key Indian supply routes to the region.

Our analysis reveals that rapid infrastructure development along the border in this region means the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) can now access key locations on the Yangtse Plateau more easily than it could have just one year ago. While India maintains control of the commanding position on the plateau's high ground, China has compensated for this disadvantage by building new military and transport infrastructure that allows it to get troops quickly into the area.


This report is edited by Vera Kranenburg and Maaike Okano-Heijmans of the Clingendael Institute, with contributions by Indian and European experts.Please scroll down for the full table of contents.

In an era of multipolarity, India – expected to become the world’s most populous nation soon – will be a significant geopolitical player. This necessitates European Union (EU) member states to shift their policies to engage one of the world’s largest consumer and industrial markets.
Strategic clarity and a shared narrative

In the current international and geopolitical context, there is ample reason for the two sides to deepen their ties further. Strategic clarity about the objectives and benefits of closer ties will help build a clear narrative that will steer policymakers and other stakeholders in the desired direction, towards implementation.

The EU and its member states are investing in economic resilience and open strategic autonomy. A key question is therefore: can India help the EU move closer towards strategic autonomy – more specifically, reduce EU dependence on China?
India is seeking to promote its own manufacturing and production capabilities through its ‘Make in India’ campaign, which seeks to diversify existing value and supply chains that currently often rely on China. A key question for India is: can the EU help India to move closer towards strategic autonomy – more specifically, reducing Indian reliance on Russia?
Military technologies and critical technologies

India’s International Cyber Operations: Tracing National Doctrine and Capabilities

Arindrajit Basu

Cybersecurity has been recognized by Indian decision makers as a key foreign policy and security priority. However, at this stage, there has been no clear public articulation of any intention by India to conduct international cyber operations.

There is no publicly known overarching declaratory doctrine, policy or legislative framework that captures India’s strategic interests, ambitions and restraints in this arena. However, the cyber institutional machinery and policy landscape are evolving rapidly, with several new institutions set up in the last decade and several policies in the nascent stages of development or due to be released soon, most notably the National Cyber Security Strategy. Further, public statements by public officials on India’s cyber doctrine and operations could serve as evidence of intent to conduct international cyber operations.

Therefore, at this stage, India’s present capabilities and strategy can be inferred from an informed analysis of existing State practice and institutional architecture and a combined reading of existing laws and policies. However, India’s approach to cybersecurity is rooted in its appraisal of strategic interests. As these interests and threats evolve, India may more proactively disclose capabilities and frame a governing doctrine in order to robustly project power in cyberspace.

Russia’s War Could Make It India’s World

By Roger Cohen

Roger Cohen, the Paris bureau chief, and Mauricio Lima spent almost two weeks in India, traveling between New Delhi, Varanasi and Chennai, to write and photograph this piece.

Seated in the domed, red sandstone government building unveiled by the British Raj less than two decades before India threw off imperial rule, S. Jaishankar, the Indian foreign minister, needs no reminder of how the tides of history sweep away antiquated systems to usher in the new.

Such, he believes, is today’s transformative moment. A “world order which is still very, very deeply Western,” as he put it in an interview, is being hurried out of existence by the impact of the war in Ukraine, to be replaced by a world of “multi-alignment” where countries will choose their own “particular policies and preferences and interests.”

Certainly, that is what India has done since the war in Ukraine began on Feb. 24. It has rejected American and European pressure at the United Nations to condemn the Russian invasion, turned Moscow into its largest oil supplier and dismissed the perceived hypocrisy of the West. Far from apologetic, its tone has been unabashed and its self-interest broadly naked.

“I would still like to see a more rules-based world,” Mr. Jaishankar said. “But when people start pressing you in the name of a rules-based order to give up, to compromise on what are very deep interests, at that stage I’m afraid it’s important to contest that and, if necessary, to call it out.”

The G20 and G Minor


MUMBAI – In December, India began its yearlong G20 presidency, taking over from Indonesia amid rising geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty. Surging inflation has raised the specter of a global recession. Supply chains, made more efficient but also more vulnerable by globalization and the digital revolution, are crumbling under the weight of COVID-related disruptions and the war in Ukraine, both of which have revealed and deepened the fault lines of the international order.

During the Great Recession of 2008-09, the G20 arguably helped to prevent a worse crisis by persuading the world’s biggest economies to coordinate their fiscal and monetary policies. With the global economy at a critical juncture, following decades of relentless globalization that have made markets increasingly interconnected, the group could once again play this role.

To confront the looming global crisis, G20 countries must, first and foremost, coordinate macroeconomic policies. During and after the Great Recession, developed economies attempted to boost growth by keeping interest rates at or close to zero – or even negative. While this was necessary, ultra-low rates soon became a trap, preventing countries that wanted to raise interest rates from doing so, lest their currencies appreciate and their exports decline.

China-Pakistan Relations: The “All-Weather” Partnership Navigates Stormy Times

Syed Fazl-e-Haider


In a joint statement issued during Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s two-day visit to China in November, Beijing reiterated that relations with Islamabad will always be given the highest priority, reaffirming its support for Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and development (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China [FMPRC], November 2). The Chinese leadership also expressed appreciation for PM Sharif’s long-standing dedication to the China-Pakistan friendship (Dawn, November 3). On the other side, Pakistan emphasized that the bilateral relationship is the cornerstone of its foreign policy and expressed its commitment to the One-China policy and support on the issues of Taiwan, the South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet. The two sides exchanged views on the state of their partnership as well as the regional situation and international political landscape. Both sides agreed on the “importance of the China-Pakistan All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership amidst the emerging global challenges,” said the joint statement (Express Tribune, November 2). Closing out the year on this positive note indicates probable further growth in bilateral ties in 2023 and beyond as both sides seek to manage intersecting global and domestic challenges.

‘Regime Change’ in Islamabad and China-Pakistan Relations in 2022

Pakistan has experienced tremendous political upheaval this year, due to the removal of PM Imran Khan’s government by parliament in an April no-confidence vote. Following the ouster of the Khan government, a new coalition government led by Shehbaz Sharif assumed office (Dawn, April 11). China kept a close eye on developments during the no-confidence vote against former Prime Minister Khan. PRC Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “China is committed to non-interference policy, adding that as an all-weather strategic cooperative partner and friendly neighbor of Pakistan, it is our sincere hope that all parties in Pakistan will stay united and uphold the major interests of the country’s developments and stability” (Geo TV, April 1).

Khan declared that his ouster was the result of a “foreign conspiracy” due to his pursuit of an independent foreign policy (China Brief, April 8). In accusing the U.S. of seeking to orchestrate his removal from office, he claimed that foreign funding was being used to produce regime change in Islamabad and blamed the leadership of the main opposition parties for being part of this foreign conspiracy (Express Tribune, April 1).

Dollar’s demise about to explode Asia’s 2023

William Pesek 

TOKYO — If you want to know how worried Asian officials are over a sliding US dollar this year, look no further than the frantic scene at Bank of Japan (BOJ) headquarters.

For at least five days now, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s team has been making massive unscheduled bond purchases. The reason: the yen’s surge in the two weeks since Kuroda announced a widening of the range in which the 10-year yield can trade to about 0.5% from 0.25%.

For the BOJ, it was the monetary equivalent of opening a can of worms. The December 20 shift aimed to reduce strains as US and Japanese rates pulled in diverging directions.

But Kuroda leaned into an already sliding dollar amid US recession fears. Now the BOJ is struggling to keep the yen from rallying too much, too fast and slamming Japan’s exporters.

It’s a preview of the year to come for Asia. “The table is set for continued dollar weakness,” says Michael Purves, chief executive officer at Tallbacken Capital Advisors.

From Beijing to Jakarta, 2023 is looking like the flip side of 2022. Over the last 12 months, the region dealt with the fallout from the dollar’s 8% trade-weighted rise that siphoned tidal waves of capital from markets everywhere. Driven by the most aggressive US Federal Reserve tightening in 27 years, the dynamic caused extreme volatility in currency and asset values.

Now, it’s time for Asia to brace for a falling dollar, a perhaps chaotic downward move that has global investors pivoting to an even more aggressive “risk-off” crouch.

The big worry is that investors have at least four good rationales to dump dollars. One is the fast-rising odds of negative US growth this year. Two, the worst inflation in 40 years that will probably prove stickier than markets believe. Three, an unsustainable national debt rising toward US$32 trillion. Four, toxic partisanship on a level Capitol Hill not seen in a dozen years.

Nepal: Maoists Back At The Helm

Ajit Kumar Singh

In a dramatic, though expected, development in Nepal’s politics, on December 26, 2022, Maoist veteran Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda took the oath as Prime Minister of Nepal for the third time. He had earlier served as Prime Minister in 2008-2009 and 2016- 2017.

On November 20, 2022, elections for 165 seats of the House of Representatives (HoR) were held under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system in a single phase. In accordance with the constitutional arrangement, 110 seats are allocated under the Proportional Representation (PR) system. There are a total of 275 seats in the HoR.

As per the final results submitted by the Election Commission to President Bidya Devi Bhandari, the then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba-led Nepali Congress (NC) emerged as the single largest party with 89 seats (57 FPTP+ 32 PR), followed by the K.P. Sharma Oli-led Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), 78 seats (44 FPTP+ 34 PR); Prachanda-led Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist Centre (CPN-MC), 32 seats (18 FPTP+ 14 PR); Rashtriya Swatantra Party (RSP), 20 seats (7 FPTP+ 13 PR); Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), 14 seats (7 FPTP+ 7 PR); Janata Samajbadi Party, Nepal (JSP-N), 12 seats (7 FPTP+ 5 PR); Madhav Kumar Nepal-led Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Socialist (CPN-US), 10 FPTP seats; Janamat Party, six FPTP seats, Loktantrik Samajwadi Party-Nepal (LSP-N), four FPTP seats; Nagarik Unmukti Party, three FPTP seats; and Rashtriya Janmorcha and Nepal Mazdoor Kisan Party, one FPTP seat each. Independents secured five seats.

Beijing spies stole bomb secrets on every U.S. warhead to build nuclear forces

Bill Gertz

Beijing‘s rapid buildup of nuclear forces has been assisted by American nuclear and missile technology obtained by Chinese spies and through U.S. space and nuclear cooperation in the 1990s, according to a review of Chinese technology records and internal U.S. government documents.

The Pentagon disclosed last month that China‘s warhead stockpile will reach at least 1,500 strategic nuclear warheads by 2035, up from 200 just a few years ago and 400 warheads today.

Adm. Charles Richard, until Dec. 9 the commander of the U.S. nuclear forces, further sounded the alarm on the Chinese nuclear expansion last month when he formally notified Congress that the size of Chinese nuclear forces for the first time exceed those of the United States in one of three unspecified areas — warheads, long-range missiles or launchers.

A year earlier Adm. Richard notified Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that China had formally reached “strategic breakout.”

“A strategic breakout denotes the rapid qualitative and quantitative expansion of military capabilities that enables a shift in strategy and requires the DoD to make immediate and significant planning and/or capability shifts,” he said in congressional testimony on April 5.

Peter Huessy, president of Geostrategic Analysis who has studied China’s nuclear buildup, said the expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal is both alarming and based substantially on American know-how legally and illegally obtained by Beijing over the decades.

Defining the 'Minerals Heartland' of the Future — From Africa to Central Asia

Michelle Michot Foss

By now, the messages should be clear. For our future energy transitions, however they unfold, we will require enormous resources in the form of energy, minerals, metals and other materials along with all of the underpinnings. We also will require ample human talent and vast financial commitments.

The purpose of our knowledge paper is to examine the possibilities for an old world geography to lead future development of minerals and metals. The Minerals Heartland, where first use of native metals by humans occurred, reaches from Africa through the Middle East and into Central Asia. Long traditions of harvesting resources along ancient storied trade routes characterize the region. To seize their future possibilities, Heartland countries must build platforms that can support mining industries responding to rapidly changing and advancing technologies that are transforming businesses with deep implications for labor and practices. Of great interest is whether the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (the KSA) could serve as an investment hub for new ventures that stem from the KSA’s own diversification ambitions. Can the KSA capitalize on its global heft in oil, gas and chemicals and its huge financial reserves to help spur expansion of Heartland minerals supply and value chains?

This report was written in partnership with the Future Minerals Forum (FMF) and is available to download here. For more information on FMF and FMF23, please visit https://www.futuremineralsforum.com/.

What Explains Chinese Aggression?

Denny Roy

The consensus among outside analysts that China’s foreign policy has recently (since about 2010) become more “assertive” has fueled a new round of discussion on the possible causal relationship between China’s domestic politics and its external behavior. The issue is whether tensions between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and other states stem from China simply being a great power, or from China’s unique internal characteristics—an authoritarian state, ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with a particular historical background. Both explanations are partially correct.

The two most recent U.S. presidential administrations have embraced the idea that China’s domestic political characteristics generate external conflict. Under the Trump administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued that the United States and other free countries could not be safe in a world where the CCP controls China. President Joe Biden has attributed the crisis in U.S.-China relations to the PRC’s authoritarian political system.

Much of China’s foreign policy, however, is not idiosyncratic, but is typical of relatively large and powerful countries. This may be called “great power behavior with Chinese characteristics.” Beijing has its own unique way of describing its behavior, but the bottom line is pressuring or forcing smaller and weaker countries to accept a self-interested Chinese agenda while arguing that this agenda makes the world a better place—just as previous great powers such as Britain, the United States, Russia, and Japan have done. Where America had the Monroe Doctrine, China similarly demands a sphere of influence on its periphery, sometimes using the justification of irredentism, but if necessary by getting right to the point that “China is a big country, and other countries are small countries.”

How to define and tackle Islamist Extremism in the UK

Maaha Elahi, Julian Hargreaves

This article presents a legal and public policy analysis of Shakeel Begg v British Broadcasting Corporation, a British libel case brought before the High Court in 2016. Begg v BBC provides a lens through which current debates on extremism and counter-extremism in the UK may be analysed. More specifically, the authors use their analysis of the case to address criticisms levied against the UK Government’s counter-extremism strategy, including the conceptualisation and definition of “Islamist extremism”. The article offers two main contentions. First, that the judgment in Begg v BBC has been undervalued by politicians and policymakers in the UK, as well as by scholars, journalists and other commentators. Second, that Lord Justice Haddon-Cave’s judgment in Begg v BBC provides a useful framework for those wishing to define, identify and tackle Islamist extremism, and extremism of any kind, in the UK and elsewhere.

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How Huthi-Saudi Negotiations Will Make or Break Yemen

What’s new? Yemen’s war has been on uneasy pause since a UN-brokered truce lapsed on 2 October. Whether fighting will resume or not depends mostly on an opaque, Omani-facilitated Saudi-Huthi channel for talks, rather than the main UN-led track.

Why does it matter? A Huthi-Saudi compact is preferable to renewed hostilities. But if it is poorly conceived, too generous to the Huthis or simply infeasible, as previous proposals have been, it may embolden the Huthis to shirk negotiations, push other parties to act as spoilers or lead to a messier phase of combat.

What should be done? Yemen’s anti-Huthi factions are despondent about the Huthi-Saudi negotiations, from which they are excluded. If the UN were to start discussions aimed at an inclusive political settlement, it would likely find considerable buy-in. The Saudis should ensure that any agreement with the Huthis funnels negotiations back in the UN’s direction.


Yemen’s war is in an anxious state of suspended animation. In April, the UN arranged a truce that lasted for six months, expiring on 2 October. Since it lapsed, the Yemeni and regional parties to the conflict have observed a truce-without-a-truce, largely holding their fire while the Huthi rebels pursue bilateral negotiations with Saudi Arabia, which they view as their true adversary. But as these talks sputter along, the Huthis and their Yemeni rivals in the internationally recognised government, the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), have begun preparing for another round of fighting and escalated a parallel economic war. If Sanaa and Riyadh can strike a deal, the fighting will stay paused. But such a pact may also convince the Huthis that they can sidestep negotiations with the PLC, boding ill for prospects of inclusive national dialogue. If there is no deal, meanwhile, another military showdown beckons. The UN and outside powers should push the Saudis and Huthis to find common ground, while laying the groundwork for multiparty talks and making clear that a Huthi-Saudi agreement, by itself, cannot bring peace to the country.

Russia’s Rebound How Moscow Has Partly Recovered From Its Military Setbacks

Barry R. Posen

“All the dumb Russians are dead.” So said Ukrainian officials in July 2022 as they sought to explain why the Russian army had abandoned the overambitious strategy and amateurish tactics that defined its conduct in the early weeks of the war. It was probably too early to make this quip. The Russians continued to do many dumb things and indeed still do. But broadly speaking, the Ukrainians’ intuition in the summer now appears correct: when it comes to overall military strategy, Moscow seems to have gotten smarter.

Russian strategic decisions are finally starting to make military sense. The partial mobilization of reservists that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered in September has strengthened Russian forces at the front. The bombing campaign against Ukrainian energy infrastructure that began in October is forcing Ukraine and its allies to divert resources toward the defense of the country’s urban population, vulnerable to bitter winter weather in the absence of electricity. And the withdrawal of Russian forces from the city of Kherson in November has saved capable units from destruction and freed them for action elsewhere.

In July, I argued that the war was stalemated. Given Ukraine’s subsequent successes in liberating territory in and around the cities of Kherson and Kharkiv, my assessment was clearly premature. But it is worth noting that Ukraine achieved these successes during the period in which Russia’s forces were at their weakest and its leadership was at its poorest. Despite Kyiv’s advances, the grim truth remains that then and now, the ratio of Russian casualties to Ukrainian casualties stands at one to one, according to U.S. estimates.

This is not a war that is simply cascading in Ukraine’s favor. Rather, it is turning into a war of attrition, a contest in which any gains by either side will come only at great cost. Even the dim outlines of this future should make both Ukraine and Russia wish to avoid it, but neither country seems ready to negotiate, much less make the difficult compromises that might provide the ingredients of a settlement.

Ukraine and its backers may hope that Russia comes to its senses and simply abandons the war, but that outcome looks unlikely. They may also hope for a Russian collapse at the front or at home, but the chances of either scenario are also slim. The most promising course would be for the United States to nudge the two sides to the negotiating table, since only Washington has the power to do so. But it has decided not to do so. And so the war goes on, at a tragic human cost.

Putin’s initial plan—to overthrow the Ukrainian government in a raid by special operations and airborne forces—failed spectacularly. The Russians tried to salvage the campaign by moving large numbers of tanks, artillery, infantry, and supporting troops overland, but that effort fared little better in the face of constant Ukrainian ambushes.

A new world energy order is taking shape

Rana Foroohar 

On Valentine’s Day in 1945, US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt met Saudi King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud on the American cruiser USS Quincy. It was the beginning of one of the most important geopolitical alliances of the past 70 years, in which US security in the Middle East was bartered for oil pegged in dollars.

But times change, and 2023 may be remembered as the year that this grand bargain began to shift, as a new world energy order between China and the Middle East took shape.

While China has for some time been buying increasing amounts of oil and liquefied natural gas from Iran, Venezuela, Russia and parts of Africa in its own currency, President Xi Jinping’s meeting with Saudi and Gulf Co-operation Council leaders in December marked “the birth of the petroyuan”, as Credit Suisse analyst Zoltan Pozsar put it in a note to clients.

According to Pozsar, “China wants to rewrite the rules of the global energy market”, as part of a larger effort to de-dollarise the so-called Bric countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, and many other parts of the world after the weaponisation of dollar foreign exchange reserves following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

What does that mean in practice? For starters, a lot more oil trade will be done in renminbi. Xi announced that, over the next three to five years, China would not only dramatically increase imports from GCC countries, but work towards “all-dimensional energy co-operation”. This could potentially involve joint exploration and production in places such as the South China Sea, as well as investments in refineries, chemicals and plastics. Beijing’s hope is that all of it will be paid for in renminbi, on the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange, as early as 2025.

That would mark a massive shift in the global energy trade. As Pozsar points out, Russia, Iran and Venezuela account for 40 per cent of the world’s proven oil reserves, and all of them are selling oil to China at a steep discount. The GCC countries account for another 40 per cent of proven reserves. The remaining 20 per cent are in north and west Africa and Indonesia, regions within the Russian and Chinese orbit.

Russia says soldiers’ cellphone use led to the deadly Makiivka strike.

Victoria Kim

The Defense Ministry said the use of phones helped Ukraine home in on the troops’ location, while influential military bloggers said that explanation ignored commanders’ mistakes.

Workers in Makiivka, Ukraine, removing debris on Tuesday from the destroyed building that Russian soldiers had been using as a barracks.Credit...Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Amid anger in Russia over one of the deadliest strikes on Moscow’s forces in the war, official blame has fallen on the targeted soldiers themselves, with the suggestion that their cellphone use enabled Ukrainian forces to home in on their location.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Wednesday that it was clear the “main reason” for the strike, which took place on New Year’s Day in the city of Makiivka in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, was the collective use of cellphones by personnel within reach of Ukraine’s firepower.

They were using the phones despite a ban, the ministry said.

Russian soldiers’ use of open cellphone lines in Ukraine has been a known vulnerability for its military, often revealing forces’ positions. Intercepted calls have revealed the disarray and discontent in Russia’s ranks.

The world in 2023: ten issues that will shape the international agenda

Text finalised on December 15, 2022. This Nota Internacional is the product of collective reflection by CIDOB’s research team in collaboration with EsadeGeo. Coordinated and edited by Carme Colomina, it includes contributions from Inés Arco, Anna Ayuso, Jordi Bacaria, Ana Ballesteros, Paula Barceló, Pol Bargués, Moussa Bourekba, Victor Burguete, Anna Busquets, Carmen Claudín, Anna Estrada, Francesc Fàbregues, Oriol Farrés, Agustí Fernández de Losada, Marta Galceran, Matteo Garavoglia, Blanca Garcés, Patricia García-Durán, Seán Golden, Berta Güell, Josep Mª Lloveras, Ricardo Martínez, Esther Masclans, Óscar Mateos, Sergio Maydeu, Pol Morillas, Viviane Ogou, Francesco Pasetti, Cristina Sala, Héctor Sánchez, Ángel Saz, Reinhard Schweitzer, Antoni Segura, Cristina Serrano, Eduard Soler i Lecha, Marie Vandendriessche and Pere Vilanova, while the work of other CIDOB members was vital to its preparation.

Limits, both individual and collective, will be tested in 2023, whether it be inflation, food security, the energy crisis, rising pressure on global supply chains and geopolitical competition, international security and governance systems breaking down, and the collective capacity to respond to it all.

The impacts of this permacrisis contribute directly to worsening household living conditions, which translate into rising social unrest and citizen protests, which will only increase. Cracks are widening and deepening – geopolitical, social and in the access to basic goods.

The war in Ukraine has made it clear that the more risks are associated with a geostrategic confrontation, the more obsolete the collective security frameworks built to deal with them appear. The mismatch between means, challenges and deterrence instruments worsens.

In 2023, limits, both individual and collective, will be tested, whether it be inflation, food security, the energy crisis, rising pressure on global supply chains and geopolitical competition, international security and governance systems breaking down, and the collective capacity to respond to it all. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the unexpected scenario of 2022 that became decisive because it accelerated the erosion of the post-1945 order. However, the true scope and depth of the war’s global impact is only starting to become clear. We face not only a crisis of enormous dimensions, but a new process of structural change whose end remains unknowable.

Like the white ball on a pool table, the war in Ukraine has given new momentum to various transformations and crises that were already underway, which then began colliding with each other, increasing the sense of global disorder and acceleration, of geopolitical uncertainty, and of social upheaval. Where will the balls triggered by the war in Ukraine stop? What level of disorder will prevail when they do? Of all the many crises, which could be the black ball that drops into the pocket too soon and produces a new existential threat? Above all, as continuous vulnerability and uncertainty become the new normal, what collective responses are being built?

Hoover's China Leadership Monitor

China Leadership Monitor, Winter 2022, no. 74 

Xi’s New Central Military Commission: A War Council for Taiwan?

New Faces of Leaders, New Factional Dynamics: CCP Leadership Politics Following the 20th Party Congress

Policy Continuity with Rhetorical Escalation: Parsing Xi Jinping’s Political Report to the 20th Party Congress

The Covid–19 Pandemic and China’s Economic Slowdown

Hoover Institution

Strategika, no. 82 

Deterrence, Air Defense, and Munitions Production in a New Missile Age

Thinking About the Unlikely but Thinkable

Putin’s Nuclear Risk and Reward Calculation

An Annual Check-Up for the Climate Movement


BERKELEY – This year was a tumultuous one in many ways. While climate-related shocks became even more prevalent and severe, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a global energy crisis that continues to affect millions of peoples’ lives and livelihoods. Following that shock, unprecedented heatwaves across Europe, Asia, and North America, and then devastating flooding in Pakistan, highlighted the urgency of reducing our fossil-fuel dependency and reshaping our energy systems.

Fortunately, other big developments in 2022 offered grounds for hope. The passage of the US Inflation Reduction Act – the largest emissions-reduction investment in the country’s history – is a landmark achievement. Historically, the United States has been the world’s biggest carbon polluter and one of the biggest laggards in international fora. But now, the IRA should put it on a course to reduce its own emissions sharply, which will help drive down prices of renewable energy around the world. Many emerging markets and developing countries will have a chance to leapfrog past coal-fired power plants.

Yes, fossil-fuel lobbyists are pushing governments in Africa and elsewhere to invest in natural-gas development in response to the energy crisis. Many newly planned projects would be “carbon bombs” that would emit more than one billion tons of carbon dioxide over their lifetimes. But the climate movement has wasted no time in calling out these efforts, and in denouncing the “dash for gas” in Africa.

U.S. Space Force Primer

Kari A. Bingen, Kaitlyn Johnson

Founded on December 20, 2019, the United States Space Force (USSF) became the sixth branch of the armed services within the Department of Defense (DOD). Officially established by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the USSF garnered bipartisan support.

Organized within the Department of the Air Force, the USSF functions at an equal level as the U.S. Air Force, similar to how the U.S. Marine Corps is structured within the Department of the Navy. Under Title 10, Section 9081, of the U.S. Code, the USSF has the responsibility to organize, train, and equip space-focused military forces. Specifically, the USSF is responsible for space launch, satellite operations, surveillance of the space environment, satellite defense, and some missile defense functions. Previously, space forces and missions were scattered throughout the DOD. With the establishment of the USSF, the DOD envisions consolidating all or many of these missions, forces, and authorities within the purview of the USSF. The USSF will then provide space support to other branches of the armed forces.

Developing Military Learners’ Communication Skills Using the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

by Dr. Megan J. Hennessey

This volume examines research by military educators on methods for teaching military officers to communicate more effectively. It highlights the emphasis that senior military leaders have recently placed on improving communication in all its forms, and the efforts of these researchers to accomplish that mission. Research designs, findings, and recommendations are shared using the scholarship of teaching and learning as a framework.

Editor • Dr. Megan J. Hennessey

Year • 2022

Pages • 91

ISSN • 978-1-58566-319-4 Print | 978-1-58566-320-0 Digital

AU Press Code • B-177

Confidence-Building Measures for Artificial Intelligence: A Framing Paper

Ioana Puscas

The increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in military operations and weapons systems introduces a wide range of risks, including risks of misuse and inadvertent escalation in conflict. While the international community has begun to address some of these concerns both at the national level and in regional and multilateral forums, further dedicated efforts are needed to map and mitigate risks.

Confidence-building measures (CBMs) for AI can provide flexible options for the future development and deployment of AI-enabled systems. This framing paper introduces a new UNIDIR project, which aims at developing a possible roadmap for the future elaboration of CBMs for AI.

The first phase of the project consists of a risk-mapping analysis, unpacking risks of the technology and assessing how they may translate into risks for international peace and security. The second phase of the project will consider pathways for the elaboration of CBMs in a series of multi-stakeholder engagements.

Cyber Stability Conference: Protecting Critical Infrastructure And Services Across Sectors

Camino Kavanagh

This report provides a short summary of the 2022 edition of UNIDIR’s Cyber Stability Conference (CS2022) held in Geneva on 5 July 2022. The event focused on discussing the protection of critical infrastructure and critical information infrastructure supporting essential services to the public.

The conference convened representatives from international organizations, industry, governments, and civil society to reflect on how to further progress in multilateral discussions and support more efficient policy interventions by national governments for critical infrastructure protection.

ASEAN Digital Generation Report: Digital Financial Inclusion

This report, written in collaboration with Sea, calls for a targeted and multistakeholder approach to tackling barriers to financial inclusion for the ASEAN region’s digital generation. These barriers include significant digital and financial literacy gaps, safety and security concerns, limited adoption of advanced financial services and low access to international payment services.

This report, written in collaboration with Sea, calls for a targeted and multistakeholder approach to tackling barriers to financial inclusion for the ASEAN region’s digital generation. These barriers include significant digital and financial literacy gaps, safety and security concerns, limited adoption of advanced financial services and low access to international payment services.

Based ona survey of more than 90,000 respondents in the ASEAN region, this report aims to offer statistical insights to inform relevant policy choices in the region. As the sixth report in the series, it explores the current landscape of financial services digitalization, identifies relevant gaps and outlines the actions needed to advance digital financial inclusion. Access to finance is not universal within ASEAN’s digital generation, particularly with regard to digital savviness and financial know-how, both of which are vital to the adoption of digital financial services. By increasing access to digital financial services, the ASEAN region can strengthen resilience and build a more vibrant, inclusive and sustainable economy.

Pentagon Leveraging 5G To Fight in Electromagnetic Spectrum

Mikayla Easley

Whether it’s to look up funny cat videos or operate a robotic system using wireless internet, 5G has become a staple in the everyday lives of many.

But for the Pentagon, the communications technology has become a key enabler for another more critical function — the ability to harness the electromagnetic spectrum for operations.

A significant amount of military weapon systems and applications depend on the electromagnetic spectrum — the range of frequencies or wavelengths of electromagnetic energy — to operate, according to a Congressional Research Service report published August 2021.

The spectrum supports military operations today by linking wireless communications, satellites, signal intelligence and radar technologies that support situational awareness and electronic warfare, said the report, titled “Overview of Department of Defense Use of the Electromagnetic Spectrum.”

To ensure the United States maintains its advantage over adversaries across an increasingly complex, congested and contested electromagnetic spectrum, or EMS, the Defense Department released its Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy in 2020. It called on the department to develop capabilities and policies that support electromagnetic spectrum operations — coordinated actions to exploit, attack, protect and manage the electromagnetic environment.

“In modern warfare, EMS superiority is a leading indicator and fundamental component of achieving superiority in air, land, sea, space or cyberspace,” the document said.

Four organizations win DARPA contracts to simulate threats in networks for SMOKE program

Mark Pomerleau

Four organizations were recently awarded contracts for the Signature Management using Operational Knowledge and Environments program overseen by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The SMOKE program aims to develop signature management technologies and automate threat-emulated infrastructure in order to provide realistic simulations of threats for a more holistic network picture.

The organizations that landed contracts for the effort include BlackHorse Solutions, Inc. – a Parsons Company – Cynnovative, Georgia Tech and Punch Cyber Analytics Group, according to a DARPA spokesperson.

The approximate total program value is $55 million.

The project is currently in the research-and-development phase. It kicked off in October 2022 and is slated to run over the next three years.

The program is divided into two technical areas: automated planning and execution of attribution aware cyber infrastructure, and discovery and generation of infrastructure signatures. According to the original broad agency announcement, it was expected that the winners for each technical area would deliver components on an iterative and incremental basis.

The Army Has a New Flow Battery. It Could Change Military Power.


The U.S. Army is testing a new flow battery from Lockheed Martin at Fort Carson in Colorado.
Flow battery technology features electrolyte storage for long-duration, large-capacity clean energy storage.
The GridStar flow battery, which can provide up to one megawatt for up to 10 hours, should be operational in 2024.

The U.S. Army recently began testing something called a “flow battery” at Fort Carson, Colorado. If successful, the flow battery, which is powered by two chemical components dissolved in liquids that are pumped through the battery system, could someday help bring long-duration, large-capacity energy storage to many U.S. military bases.

In partnership with Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center team at the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) Operational Energy broke ground late last year on GridStar Flow, a rechargeable redox flow battery featuring electrochemistry consisting of engineered electrolytes.

“Bottom line is, the Lockheed Martin flow battery will provide a feasible means of long-duration grid scale energy storage to Fort Carson and their mission-critical assets that no other Army installation currently possesses,” Tom Decker, Army program manager, said in a news release. “This is a significant tool and has potential to make an impact on future military bases.”