5 February 2023

Russo-Indian Economic Ties During Wartime: Oil, Currency and the Arctic

Sergey Sukhankin

Following the launch Russia’s all-out war of aggression against Ukraine and growing international economic-political isolation, the Kremlin’s contacts with major regional and international powers have shrunk to three primary players: China, India and Turkey. Specifically, current and prospective ties are being cultivated between Moscow and New Delhi in the realm of economic and business cooperation. Overall, Russia and India are considering the use of national currencies in bilateral trade, India`s future moves in the trade of non-renewable energy resources and cooperation in the Arctic.

To begin with, Moscow and New Delhi have been discussing using their respective national currencies in bilateral trade. On December 21, 2022, Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s special representative to Afghanistan and director of the Second Asia Department at the Foreign Ministry, solemnly stated that Russia and India had rejected the use of the US dollar and the euro for trade arrangements between the two sides (Vedomosti, December 21, 2022). Later, it was reported that at least six Russian banks—including Sberbank and VTB—received permission to open special accounts in India’s financial institutions, including the Reserve Bank of India. This move allows the Russian entities to make direct transactions for Indian goods in rupees (Kommersant, December 13, 2022). Presented by mainstream Russian experts and information outlets as an undisputed success, the value of this move may be seriously undermined by three main factors: an extremely low trade dynamic between both countries, a visible imbalance in bilateral trade, as well as challenges related to the use of the Indian rupee.

What’s behind the Pakistani Taliban’s insurgency?


ISLAMABAD (AP) — When a suicide bomber struck a mosque inside a police compound in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Monday, suspicion immediately fell on the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP.

In a post on Twitter, a commander for the group, Sarbakaf Mohmand, claimed responsibility for one of the deadliest attacks on security forces in recent months.

But more than 10 hours later, TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani distanced the group from the bombing, saying it was not its policy to target mosques or other religious sites, adding that those taking part in such acts could face punitive action under TTP’s policy. His statement did not address why a TTP commander had claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The TTP’s denial also came after the Afghan Foreign Ministry condemned attacks on worshippers as contrary to the teachings of Islam.

Relations already are strained between Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers, who are sheltering the TTP leadership and fighters.

A look at the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has waged an insurgency in the country for 15 years:

How the Taliban’s ‘War on Drugs’ Could Backfire

Lindsey Kennedy and Nathan Paul Southern

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan—As Afghanistan plummets deeper into a devastating economic crisis, the Taliban have declared a war on drugs that snatches away the sole cash crops relied on by many struggling rural families—opium poppy and ephedra, a plant that contains a precursor for manufacturing methamphetamine—putting millions at risk of starvation and potentially alienating the group’s own long-suffering support base.

High-ranking Talibs insist that drugs have been fully eradicated from the country and the ban is a matter of ethics; opium and meth are simply “dangerous for the world,” as one senior narcotics official put it. Farmers, low-level soldiers, and rural leaders say they’ve been told it’s a necessary sacrifice to secure recognition and desperately needed humanitarian aid. But in Kabul, where prices have soared and users are rounded up and imprisoned in hellish so-called rehab centers, dealers and users are adamant that supply is undiminished—and that Taliban soldiers still control the trade.

The road from Kabul to Kandahar—Afghanistan’s former capital in the south, where most opium poppies are grown—is just 300 miles long but takes 15 hours to drive. When we made the trip in October 2022, it was peak harvest time for the region’s famous pomegranates, but the landscape was arid. Clouds of dust and sand periodically swirled around our 1991 Toyota Camry, making it harder to spot craters left by roadside bombs or even the groups of small children kneeling in the middle of the road, begging with hands outstretched to oncoming trucks that lurched to avoid them just in time.

Is Islamic State In Hind Province Regrouping? – Analysis

Balasubramaniyan Viswanathan

After a relative lull in activities and propaganda targeting India last year, the Islamic State in Hind Province (ISHP) appears to have revived its Indian campaign.

The last known attack attributed to ISHP was in July 2022 in Jammu & Kashmir. The attack killed a policeman, and was claimed by ISHP’s official media outlet, Amaq News Agency. On the propaganda front, the last issue (#27) of the India-centric mouthpiece “Sawt Al Hind” (Voice of Hind) was released in May 2022. Since then, ISHP has been maintaining a low profile for reasons unknown. But now, ISHP appears to have restarted its campaign against India sometime around the beginning of 2023. This sudden flurry of propaganda activity appears to indicate a sense of urgency on the part of ISHP to reignite its campaign, which had been sagging of late.

On 23 January 2023, Al-Jauhar Media, which is linked to the Islamic State, released its first English-language magazine entitled Serat-u-Haq. The publication, which consists of six pages, criticizes local politicians and issues related to “Love Jihad.” It is still not clear if Al-Jauhar Media is officially recognized and linked to ISHP. This comes close on the heels of images showing purported members of ISHP pledging allegiance to new Islamic State leader Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurashi. In Dec 2022, Amaq News Agency released a set of pictures showing individuals from Wilayah Hind pledging Bayah (oath of allegiance) to the new Islamic State leader, who was announced as the Caliph in November 2022.

Taliban Asks Pakistan Not to Blame Them for Violence at Home

Rahim Faiez

Afghanistan’s Taliban-appointed foreign minister Wednesday asked Pakistani authorities to look for the reasons behind militant violence in their country instead of blaming Afghanistan.

The comments from Amir Khan Muttaqi came two days after Pakistani officials said the attackers who orchestrated Monday’s suicide bombing that killed 101 people in northwest Pakistan staged the attack from Afghan soil.

During a ceremony to inaugurate a drug addiction treatment center in the capital of Kabul on Wednesday, Muttaqi asked Pakistan’s government to launch a serious investigation into Monday’s mosque bombing in Peshawar.

He insisted that Afghanistan was not a center for terrorism, saying if that was the case then attacks would have also taken place in other countries.

“If anyone says that Afghanistan is the center for terrorism, they also say that terrorism has no border,” Muttaqi said. “If terrorism had emanated from Afghanistan, it would have also impacted China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan or Iran.”

China’s Futuristic City Is a Test of Its Planning Power

Andrew Stokols

About 60 miles south of the center of Beijing, a new city is being built as a showcase of high-tech ecologically friendly development. Its massive high-speed rail station and “city brain” data center have been heralded by Chinese state media as evidence of the speed and superiority of China’s growth model—not least because the city is a “signature initiative” of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xiongan New Area is also a test for whether China can boost domestic innovation and climb into the ranks of advanced nations in the face of slowing economic growth and efforts by the United States and others to restrict its access to advanced technology.

Xiongan offers a window into what Xi’s vision of state-led innovation looks like on the ground. Xi has called the city his “personal initiative” and a qiannian daji, or “thousand-year plan of national significance.” The plan for Xiongan, which was formally unveiled in 2017 to relieve pressure on Beijing and promote the “coordinated regional development” of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, has faced financial struggles due to the huge investment costs—even more of a problem given China’s mounting real estate crisis. Overall, the new area encompasses about 650 square miles, with a planned population of around 3 million; currently, the three counties comprising the zone have around 1.4 million long-term residents. As of September 2022, 400 billion yuan (about $57 billion) in completed investment had been reported in the city overall.

Is China a ‘Paper Tiger’?

Karman Lucero

While leading the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Mao Zedong often referred to the United States as a “paper tiger,” an entity that appeared fierce and powerful but that was ultimately flimsy and incapable of acting on its apparent power. At the time, the United States was one of two global superpowers with the world’s largest economy. To a certain extent, however, the critique made sense. Despite all its power, the United States, with its complex political system and deep integration with the world economy, faced multiple constraints that limited its decision-making to an extent that the wishes and words of U.S. politicians could not always be matched by deeds.

Xi Jinping is the most powerful leader China has seen since Mao. After a years-long anti-corruption campaign that targeted political rivals, Xi filled the country’s highest-level political body, the Politburo Standing Committee, with loyalists during the 20th Party Congress in October 2022. His power over and within the Chinese political system is unmatched by any other leader in Chinese Communist Party history, with the exception of Mao himself.

The China that Xi rules today, however, is very different from the China that Mao ruled. No longer an isolationist, majority-poverty country, China today is a global superpower that is the world’s second largest economy and deeply integrated with the rest of the world. Despite Xi personally having so much power, the complexity of contemporary Chinese society places limits on how much power can advance China’s domestic and international policy goals.

Viewpoint: Emerging ‘Offset-X’ Strategy Addresses Chinese Threat

Mark Montgomery and Luke Vannurden

The People’s Republic of China has emerged as the United States’ top strategic competitor, and the pacing challenge for the U.S. military.

In the words of the recently published 2022 National Defense Strategy, China aims “to target the ability of the Joint Force to project power to defend vital U.S. interests and aid our allies in a crisis or conflict” as part of its “endeavor to refashion the Indo-Pacific region and the international system to suit its interests and authoritarian preferences.”

The situation is further complicated by the rapid development of numerous emerging technologies that are changing the character of war, creating opportunities for both China and the United States to develop new ways to employ force.

If the United States does not meet this challenge with bold and deliberate action, the consequences could be dramatic — a global shift in power, and an upending of the relative peace, development, and stability that the United States has underwritten in the Indo-Pacific for almost 80 years. The U.S. military needs a competitive strategy, grounded in its asymmetric strengths to develop, deploy and employ capabilities that will restore its military-technological superiority.

Let's Bring Greater Transparency to Foreign Influence on Policy Making - Opinion


In the corridors of power in our nation's capitol, it's an open secret that the more money foreign governments spend on lobbying and influence peddling, the more they will be able to influence policy decisions that affect their interests.

Sometimes, attempts to influence U.S. policy are conducted in plain sight in the form of direct foreign government payments to lobbyists. These lobbyists must register as foreign agents under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). More often, however, this purchase of influence is achieved by funneling money through supposedly objective, independent think tanks.

Many of these think tanks have enormous sway on Capitol Hill. Their experts testify at congressional hearings and help staff draft legislation. Think tanks wield an outsized influence with legislators, who often adopt their positions wholesale, presenting foreign governments a chance to covertly shape U.S. policy. But what happens when the "experts" filling these roles are effectively paid agents of foreign governments like China, Russia, Iran, and Qatar?

There is currently no way for members of Congress to discern which think tanks are funded by foreign governments—making think tanks effective vehicles for foreign funders to shape U.S. policy right under our noses. There exists a widespread belief that think tanks are exempt from FARA disclosure requirements. While that belief is mistaken, FARA is unlikely to be an effective tool to promote transparency around think tank funding.

Launching Into the State of the Satellite Marketplace

Kari A. Bingen

Kari A. Bingen, Director, Aerospace Security Project and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, on the commercial space sector, China’s efforts to dominate the commercial space market, regulatory reform for U.S. federal agencies, and Congress’ role in promoting private sector space activity

Chairwoman McMorris Rodgers, Ranking Member Pallone, Subcommittee Chairman Latta, Ranking Member Matsui, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss space technology trends, the state of foreign competition in space and its security implications, and ideas for maintaining U.S. leadership in space. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) does not take policy positions, so the views represented in this testimony are my own and not those of my employer.

I have the privilege of leading the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where I examine these issues largely through a national security lens, drawing from my experiences working at a U.S. space technology startup, serving in the Department of Defense (DoD) guiding defense intelligence and security activities, and supporting the House Armed Services Committee.

Russia’s economy is now forecast to grow faster than Germany’s and Britain’s in 2023. How is that possible?

Nikhil Kumar

They look, on the face of it, like mistakes. This week, number crunchers at the International Monetary Fund released forecasts saying that over the coming year, Russia’s economy will grow, while Britain’s will contract. And that Russia will actually grow faster than Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse.

But there are no mistakes — just surprising turns of events, in all the countries involved.

The numbers would have been hard to imagine in the early days of the war, when Western sanctions sent the Russian stock market and the local currency, the ruble, into free fall, and hundreds of international firms — from McDonald’s to Boeing — pulled out of the country. In March 2022, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen confidently predicted that “the Russian economy will be devastated.”

Even the Russians expected a deeper economic crisis. The Russian finance ministry was reported to be bracing for a fall in GDP of more than 10 percent. As recently as December, a Reuters poll of 15 economists forecast a 2.5 percent drop for the coming year.

And yet here we are, at the beginning of 2023, and the IMF now predicts that the Russian economy, after contracting by 2.2 percent last year, will start growing again in 2023, expanding by 0.3 percent, and then 2.1 percent in 2024. As for those European powerhouses? The U.K. is expected to contract by 0.6 percent; Germany will still be in the black, but only just; growth this year is expected to come in at an anemic 0.1 percent.

‘Smart’ Cities Are Surveilled Cities

Robert Muggah and Greg Walton

Cities around the world are getting smarter. A growing number even designated themselves “smart cities.” There are, of course, as many definitions of smart cities as there are cities professing to be smart. Very generally, smart cities deploy a host of information communication technologies—including high-speed communication networks, sensors, and mobile phone apps—to boost mobility and connectivity, supercharge the digital economy, increase energy efficiency, improve the delivery of services, and generally raise the level of their residents’ welfare. Becoming “smart” typically involves harnessing troves of data to optimize city functions—from more efficient use of utilities and other services to reducing traffic congestion and pollution—all with a view to empowering public authorities and residents.

However one defines them, data-enabled cities are booming. By one estimate, there are over a thousand smart city projects underway around the world. Rankings and indices are also proliferating, with such cities as Singapore, Helsinki, Seoul, and Zurich routinely topping the list. Notwithstanding global enthusiasm for hyperconnected cities, this futuristic wired urban world has a dark side. What’s more, the pitfalls may soon outweigh the supposed benefits.

That’s because “smart” is increasingly a euphemism for surveillance. Cities in at least 56 countries worldwide have deployed surveillance technologies powered by automatic data mining, facial recognition, and other forms of artificial intelligence. Urban surveillance is a multibillion-dollar industry, with Chinese and U.S.-based companies such as Axis, Dahua, Hikvision, Huawei, and ZTE leading the charge. Whether they are in China or elsewhere, smart cities are usually described in benign terms with the soothing promise of greener energy solutions, lower-friction mobility, and safer streets. Yet in a growing number of places from New York to Hong Kong, there are growing concerns about the ways in which supercharged surveillance is encroaching on free speech, privacy, and data protection. But the truth is that facial recognition and related technologies are far from the most worrisome feature of smart cities.

Something Has to Give in Postwar Syria

Charles Lister

Syria’s crisis is set to enter its 13th year in March. Although the level of violence across the country remains relatively low today compared with earlier years, the crisis is a long, long way from over. Within Syria, at least six distinct conflicts involving internal actors and foreign governments are ongoing to this day, and all of them show more signs of escalating than calming down.

The country remains in ruins, society has been torn apart, and Bashar al-Assad’s regime rightly remains an international pariah. Every poll of Syrian refugees in Syria’s neighboring states continues to underline their complete lack of intent to return to a Syria ruled by Assad, and in 2022, illegal Syrian migration to Europe rocketed by 100 percent. That is likely a harbinger of what is to come in 2023.

With the exception of the ongoing campaign against the Islamic State, Syria has become an afterthought for most. In recent years, it has become increasingly common to hear claims that “Assad has won” or that “the war is over.” Whether driven by fatigue or genuine analysis, these assertions were as inaccurate in 2019 as they are today. With Turkey’s impending elections, Russia’s struggles in Ukraine, Iran’s energy crisis, and persistent regional hostilities associated with Iran, the prospect for major destabilizing developments in Syria this year are significant.

Blankets, Food Banks, and Shuttered Pubs: Brexit Has Delivered a Broken Britain

Liz Cookman

PENRITH, England—A man in overalls whitewashes the front window of yet another shop closing on the city’s main street. Families stockpile blankets to ward off the cold as they sit shivering in their homes with no heating while lines of people who cannot afford to feed their children form at the local food bank. Bars shut their doors early, and some days, they don’t even open at all.

I’m not in Ukraine, where I’ve spent the last year reporting on the devastation caused by Russia’s war. This is life in broken Britain, a quagmire of misery and problems, where even February’s weather is predicted to be colder and glummer than usual.

In Penrith, a Conservative Party-supporting town in the far north of England, most of the shops now close their doors at 4 p.m. and don’t even bother opening three or four days a week. A popular pub—the third in recent months—and a local grocer have announced they are closing after 25 years and 18 years, respectively. Even a local store that sells cut-price clothing, which is (in fact) stock from insolvent chain stores, is closing due to a 50 percent slump in sales.

For the first time in my life, supermarket shelves sit empty due to supply chain problems. There is an egg shortage, a potato shortage, and a shortage of Wi-Fi bars; working in war-torn Ukraine is easier and more comfortable (missiles aside) than trying to do the same in peace-shattered Penrith. Britain’s troubles are legion: the fallout from COVID-19, high inflation, an energy crisis, a cost of living crisis, transport and health sector strikes, food shortages, rising poverty and inequality, the first war in Europe in a generation, and a possible recession. If the winter of discontent does sequels, we’re in it. Chief among all the culprits is the destructive effect of Brexit and bad governance.

The Problem With European Militaries’ Indo-Pacific Push

Rupert Schulenburg

In recent years, European countries have been engaged in an effort to “pivot” to the Indo-Pacific in order to counter China’s rise and its more assertive behavior. But in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this is not the best way Europe can contribute to allied security priorities.

This month, the secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg, made a trip to Asia to try to deepen the alliance’s ties with the region. This trip took place after years of deepening European involvement in Indo-Pacific security. For instance, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the European Union published Indo-Pacific policy documents; the United Kingdom deployed a carrier strike group to the region as part of its self-declared “tilt” to the Indo-Pacific; NATO members held their first dedicated debate on Taiwan; and Germany took part in the Australian Air Force’s multinational exercise “Pitch Black” for the first time. Just last month, the U.K. and Japan signed an access agreement that would allow the U.K.to base troops in Japan.

Scholars have also written about how NATO should assume a greater role in countering China. In even more granular terms, a recent report by the RAND Corporation outlined how the United States and France could improve Army cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

Will Russia’s Mid-War Military Restructuring Work?

Jorge L. Rivero

Last month, Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu unveiled a new plan to restructure the Russian military away from the brigade model and back to its pre-2008 division structure. These details are being announced as the Russian military struggles to maintain momentum in Ukraine and as NATO membership for Finland and Sweden looms into 2023. Even though implementing such military reforms is not new in the history of the Soviet and Russian militaries, these new restructuring attempts seek to create a new army postured to safeguard Russian interests vis-à-vis NATO, closely mirroring Soviet threat perception of large-scale war.

Even though Russian proposals and their outcomes are often quite different, Western analysts will soon have to contest the feasibility of these reforms and how they will affect Russian force posture across Eastern Europe. The Russian Armed Forces will have to make drastic investments in human capital, both in manpower and training and in equipping these new formations. After massive losses in Ukraine, reaching these new goals can prove troublesome for the Kremlin.

Soviet and Russian Reforms

With or Without Western Tanks, Escalation Is Coming to Ukraine

Steve Cimbala, Lawrence J. Korb

The decision by the United States and NATO to provide Abrams and Leopard II main battle tanks to Ukraine for its war against Russia is a logical follow-on to the events of the past calendar year. Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine in February 2022 did not turn out as well as the Kremlin expected. Instead of a coup de main that toppled the government in Kyiv, Russia has found itself locked into a costly protracted war of attrition. The Russian forces’ military performance has also been disappointing to its political and military leadership, and a periodic reshuffling of field commanders has not improved matters very much. Heavy fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces continues in the east and south of Ukraine. Russia is now maintaining a 1,300-kilometer defensive line and regrouping in order for what many expect will be a major offensive later this year.

To meet the expected Russian offensive in the late winter or early spring, Ukraine needs additional components for modern air-land battle, including main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, long-range artillery, advanced missile defense systems, and trained operators who can use this up-gunned equipment to good effect. Thus the announcements by President Joseph Biden and NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg on January 25 that the United States would send thirty-one Abrams tanks to Ukraine—in order to clear the way for Germany, Poland, and other NATO members to send hundreds of Leopard tanks to that beleaguered country—appears as only an incremental upping of the ante.

Your Adversary is Rational, Just Not the Way You Want Them to Be

It almost goes without saying that war is an intimately human endeavor. The human costs of war bring justifiable emotional turmoil, angst, and shock. Especially in the western world, war thrusts millions into the position of trying to make sense of it. In Russia’s renewed invasion of Ukraine, so much of the sense-making revolves around the narrative of irrationality. People ask, “In modern Europe, what sort of madman makes this possible?” It simply does not make sense in the value system of the West. The only answer must be that the actors causing this pain are mad, insane, or irrational.

While explanations like these may provide emotional refuge, they simply aren’t true. In fact, our adversaries continue to demonstrate their rationality on a daily basis. First, I would offer that when we confuse immorality with irrationality, the issue begins. Among several definitions, rationality can be thought of the logic of achieving one’s goals, whatever those goals might be. At its roots, rationality is about ratios, the weighing of outcomes or chances against each other. In other words, to understand how the world is, the values of the actor are paramount, not whether those values are compatible with our own.

Ukraine’s Uncrewed Raid on Sevastopol and the Future of War at Sea

Dr Sidharth Kaushal

The use of uncrewed surface vessels by Ukraine to inflict damage on the Russian navy has attracted widespread attention. But does it really herald a new era of naval warfare as some are suggesting?

In late 2022, Ukraine launched an audacious raid on the Russian Black Sea Fleet using a combination of UAVs and uncrewed surface vessels (USVs). The innovative use of USVs as ‘suicide craft’ was of particular note to many commentators, with some heralding the attack as the portent of a new era in warfare at sea. While this is understandable, the significance of the attack should be caveated, and the use of autonomous capabilities set within a wider context.

Though in some ways relatively primitive, the uncrewed capabilities used by Ukraine could presage a wider shift in the conduct of war at sea. The USVs, which appear to be equipped with electrooptical and infrared sensors as well as Starlink antennae, represent a relatively simple uncrewed capability, powered in part by commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology including a propulsion system from a recreational power jet. This is not the first time uncrewed explosive boats have been used effectively: the Houthis, for example, utilised remotely operated uncrewed boats in a 2017 attack on the Saudi frigate Al Madinah. Moving forward, uncrewed swarming capabilities could become more sophisticated. For example, the Chinese company Yunzhou Tech has conducted demonstrations of action against hostile targets by coordinated swarms of USVs that can designate targets and engage them autonomously. As likely advances in areas like lithography drive exponential increases in the processing power of semiconductors, increasingly sophisticated algorithms can be run on ever smaller platforms. It is not, then, entirely surprising that some commentators see swarms of smart uncrewed capabilities as being a central feature of the future battlefield, and raise serious concerns about the risks to expensive multi-mission platforms.

Whispers of A.I.’s Modular Future

Pierre Buttin

One day in late December, I downloaded a program called Whisper.cpp onto my laptop, hoping to use it to transcribe an interview I’d done. I fed it an audio file and, every few seconds, it produced one or two lines of eerily accurate transcript, writing down exactly what had been said with a precision I’d never seen before. As the lines piled up, I could feel my computer getting hotter. This was one of the few times in recent memory that my laptop had actually computed something complicated—mostly I just use it to browse the Web, watch TV, and write. Now it was running cutting-edge A.I.

Despite being one of the more sophisticated programs ever to run on my laptop, Whisper.cpp is also one of the simplest. If you showed its source code to A.I. researchers from the early days of speech recognition, they might laugh in disbelief, or cry—it would be like revealing to a nuclear physicist that the process for achieving cold fusion can be written on a napkin. Whisper.cpp is intelligence distilled. It’s rare for modern software in that it has virtually no dependencies—in other words, it works without the help of other programs. Instead, it is ten thousand lines of stand-alone code, most of which does little more than fairly complicated arithmetic. It was written in five days by Georgi Gerganov, a Bulgarian programmer who, by his own admission, knows next to nothing about speech recognition. Gerganov adapted it from a program called Whisper, released in September by OpenAI, the same organization behind ChatGPT and dall-e. Whisper transcribes speech in more than ninety languages. In some of them, the software is capable of superhuman performance—that is, it can actually parse what somebody’s saying better than a human can.

Ukraine Proves U.S. Troops Need Quick Access to Commercial Technology


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has all the traditional hallmarks of a conventional war, with troops and tanks on the ground and airstrikes from above. But even as today’s battles resemble wars of old, Ukraine has been successfully defending itself beyond expectations in part because of the courage and determination of its people who have used new technology in ways that are changing how wars are fought.

Historically, the speed and accuracy of information that reaches decision-makers has been an Achilles heel of armies. But Ukraine is showing the world how a smaller force can fend off a larger military foe using a readily available mix of military and commercial technologies, especially for communications. The Russia-Ukraine war is a warning: to ready the U.S. military for future conflicts our nation needs far more public-private collaboration, and fast.

When Russian strikes in early 2022 hit Ukraine’s infrastructure and knocked out the ability for Ukrainian military leaders to communicate with their troops, Ukraine moved fast to use commercially available, satellite-based internet access via Starlink and logistics services like FedEx to reopen lines of communication. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians have used technology to report critical battlefield information to the government, such as enemy troop movements and local intelligence.

Russia Versus Ukraine and the Role of Software-Defined Radios


With the current war in Ukraine, it’s clear that Russia’s modernization program has involved electronic warfare and signals intelligence and played a huge part in Russia’s combat advances and overall positioning leading up to the actual invasion.

Electronic warfare is now at the heart of modern warfare, a complementary component or even a replacement to traditional combat. Battles and wars can be won or lost based on defeating the opponent’s technological advantage in the radio frequency spectrum and can also be used to infiltrate communications during times of peace. Radio frequency technologies—tactical radios, radar, positioning and navigation signals, weapons systems and various detectors to coordinate operations and find the enemy—are pivotal to military forces and have become increasingly important to disrupt, detect and deceive these adversarial capabilities. Electronic warfare can be broken down into three components: electronic attack, electronic protection or countermeasures, and electronic support.

The most well-known of these is electronic attack, which includes jamming of various systems or signal deception and usually involves a transmitter overpowering the waveform and signals of a hostile radar or radio. Jamming ensures that important signals and messages are unable to go through, while deception can relay incorrect messages and traps. Electronic protection and countermeasures involve techniques used to protect the integrity of signals and prevent them from being intercepted or jammed in the first place.

Cyber Insights 2023 | The Geopolitical Effect

Geopolitics describes the effect of geography on politics, and usually refers to the political relationship between nations. That relationship is always mirrored in cyber. The Russia/Ukraine war that started in early 2022 has been mirrored by a major disturbance in cyber – and that disturbance will continue through 2023.

The physical conflict has forced much of the world to take sides. The US, NATO, the EU, and their allies are providing major support – short of troops – to Ukraine. China, Iran, and North Korea are all supporting Russia. The cyber conflict is similar, largely conforming to the George W Bush ‘axis of evil’ (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, with the popular addition of Russia and China) versus the US, EU, and their allies.

Here we’re going to discuss how the current state of global geopolitics might play out in cyber during 2023.


“Russia may well resort to increased cyber offensive actions as it contends with on-the-ground setbacks in Ukraine,” comments Bob Ackerman, MD and founder of AllegisCyber. This has been considered likely throughout 2022, but as Russian military setbacks have increased toward the end of 2022, so the likelihood of increasingly aggressive Russian cyber activity will rise. Such offensive actions will not simply target Ukraine – they will be aimed at all countries seen to be supporting Ukraine.

We asked the new AI to do some simple rocket science. It crashed and burned


Computers have been used in rocketry for half-a-century, so it's possible to think that the new AI programs could help. They struggled to grasp the basics.NPR staff generated imagery using Midjourney

Tiera Fletcher carefully read through an artificial intelligence chatbot's attempt at rocket science.

"That's true, that's factual," she said thoughtfully as she scanned the AI-generated description of one of the most fundamental equations, known simply as "the rocket equation."

Then she got to the bot's attempt to write the rocket equation itself – and stopped.

"No ... Mmm mmm ... it would not work," she said. "It's just missing too many variables."

Fletcher is a professional rocket scientist and co-founder of Rocket With The Fletchers, an outreach organization. She agreed to review text and images about rocketry generated by the latest AI technology, to see whether the computer programs could provide people with the basic concepts behind what makes rockets fly.

We Don't Have the Missiles to Stop China. Time For Drone Swarms


The war in Ukraine made plain several well-known challenges with precision weapons: they are expensive, rely on complicated supply chains, and take time to build. With Russia’s invasion stretching into its second year and military leaders warning of a looming war with China, analysts, Congress, and defense officials are all arguing for dramatically increased spending on the sophisticated long-range missiles needed for war in the Indo-Pacific.

This is a failure of both analysis and imagination by the world’s largest and most expensive defense establishment.

Decades of funding and policy decisions have led to a “right-sized” defense industry that can produce precision-guided missiles only at a peacetime replacement rate. Efforts to accumulate more PGMs could draw on the excellent recommendations made by recent studies: multi-year purchases, better management of existing stocks, and, yes, increased spending. Yet the fundamental limits remain: rocket fuel, explosives, microelectronics, and skilled technicians are all in short supply. Ramping up production of key missiles, therefore, will take two years or more.

Reviewing Military Alliances in the Twenty-First Century

Davis Ellison

In this welcome addition to the literature on alliances, international relations scholar Alexander Lanoszka makes an optimistic case for the continued salience of the U.S.-led alliance system. In his two-hundred-page study, he reviews the most common areas that past studies have focused on: alliance formation, fears of entrapment and abandonment, burden-sharing, warfare, and alliance termination.


The most useful element of the book is its detailed survey of the theoretical literature of the international relations sub-field. Evincing no preference for a single model, he approaches the broad range of arguments in each of the five areas and weighs the respective strengths and weaknesses, most often finding weakness in traditional international relations school models. Such criticism is as applicable to Stephen Walt’s theory on the origins of alliances[1] as it is to Christopher Hemmer and Peter Katzenstein’s use of constructivism.[2] Accessible to both graduate students and seasoned authors on alliances, the book provides a compendium of theoretical support and criticism for alliances from international relations scholars.

Gen-Z Will Fight: But First, They Need to Know Why

Lieutenant Ian Clark and Petty Officer Third Class Kyle Atkinson, U.S. Navy

Aristotle, writing in the 4th century BCE, noted that the young people of his day were “unable to resist their impulses” and “cannot bear to be slighted, but they are indignant when they think they have been wronged.” The philosopher laments that the young are naïve, having not yet “experienced want” or “witnessed much wickedness.” They are, he says, “high-minded because they have not yet been humbled by life,” and as a result “live more by the rule of moral character than by that of calculation.”1

Add a mobile phone and a TikTok account to the mix and Aristotle’s youth would be mostly indistinguishable from the current caricature of today’s so-called Gen-Z.2 But is this a true and fair assessment?

Assessing Gen-Z

Scholars, including Stanford University’s Dr. Roberta Katz, would only partially agree. It is indeed true that this generation is driven “more by the rule of moral character,” but Katz and her fellow researchers have also found that Gen-Zers are “self-driver[s]” who favor a rational and informed approach to problem solving.3 For Katz and others, Gen-Z is a “highly collaborative cohort” which “has a pragmatic attitude about the work that has to be done to address” important global issues.


Nathaniel L. Moir

In his 1961 book about warfare in Southeast Asia, Street Without Joy, Bernard Fall, the Howard University professor and former French Resistance fighter, explained, “A dead Special Forces sergeant is not spontaneously replaced by his own social environment. A dead revolutionary usually is.” Fall’s point was that military capabilities and technologies are important but insufficient when complex politics and long-standing grievances motivate diverse populations to engage in conflict. Through dozens of articles and seven books, including The Two Viet-Nams: A Political and Military Analysis, published in 1963, and Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu, published in 1966, Fall explained why France, the United States, and their allies in the Republic of Vietnam had such difficulty countering Vietnamese revolutionary warfare.

The problem the West and its anticommunist allies encountered was an inability to connect military outcomes with often conflicting and shifting political goals. In addition, the network of political organizations that Vietnamese communists created—through an administrative structure Fall called parallel hierarchies—was impossible to counter with military capability alone. These networks, ranging from village-level to large inter-zone regional command elements, thwarted superior military power wielded by the United States and the Republic of Vietnam. Motivation, when it intersected with Maoist-inspired political organization, enabled the Viet Minh and subsequent generations of Vietnamese communists to outlast French and American forces over almost three decades between 1946 and 1975.

James Lariviere, The Unchanging Nature of Russian Combat Methods, No. 546, February 2, 2023

James Lariviere

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches the one-year mark, Russia’s offensive operations appear to have stalled. Having failed to seize the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv during the initial invasion, Russian President Vladmir Putin downsized his strategic goals to occupying and annexing the Donbas region consisting of the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as two other oblasts, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. At the same time, Ukraine has launched a series of counteroffensives reclaiming lost territory and imposing significant costs on the Russian Army’s manpower and morale.[1] Published reports indicate the Russian Army suffers from logistical difficulties and equipment shortages.[2] Russia has reportedly turned to North Korea to resupply it with thousands of missiles and artillery shells and has received drones from Iran.[3] Russia’s initial assault on Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, was turned back and Russian troops have sought to consolidate their gains in the southeastern part of the country, especially in the illegally-annexed areas with large Russian-speaking populations and which Russia recognized as independent republics prior to incorporating them into the Russian Federation after holding staged and unlawful referendums.

According to most analysts, this major military attack on an independent and democratic neighbor—the largest Russian ground combat operation since 1945—has not achieved any of its key objectives. Military observers are puzzled by this apparent failure to subdue what was seen as a clearly inferior fighting force.

A decade of military modernization under Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was supposed to professionalize and modernize Russia’s armed forces. So why have these same armed forces failed so far to seize Ukraine? The answer may lie in the very nature of the Russian military and even the Russian people themselves.

The Ukraine War And Von Clausewitz: Strategy Vs. Mere Tactics

R. W. Zimmermann

It is hard to believe the hype that potential deployments of German Leopard and U.S. Abrams tanks have triggered in the western media. Every expert and wargamer seems eager to sell the new weapons offered to Ukraine as miracle solutions and so-called gamechangers.

This is blatant ignorance; war is not a game. Battles are fought at the tactical and operational levels, but wars are won and lost in the strategic realm.

Ukraine: A Matter of Ends and Means

As the great warfare theorist Carl von Clausewitz once noted, “No one starts a war or rather, no one in his sense ought to do so without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by the war and how he intends to conduct it.” Indeed, as a war planner you must know what you can and cannot achieve with the means available to you.

This basic principle is relevant to both parties in the current war. If Russia’s goal is to occupy, hold, and integrate the Donbas region and Crimea for national security purposes, its means may ultimately suffice, especially given the relatively manageable lines of communications it is dealing with.