18 February 2023

Pakistan’s Government Is Choosing Extremist Islam Over Economic Stability

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

On Feb. 3, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocked Wikipedia nationwide. In its statement before the ban, the PTA said the online encyclopedia had refused to remove “sacrilegious contents” from the website. In 2020, Pakistan had threatened legal action against Google and Wikipedia for “disseminating sacrilegious content,” regarding Islamic beliefs held by minority Muslim sects. And while the ban on Wikipedia was overturned three days later, there’s an evident surge in Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy policymaking targeting Muslim minorities, which in turn is further emboldening Islamist vigilantes.

On Feb. 11, a Muslim man was lynched by a mob in the eastern city of Nankana Sahib over allegations of desecrating the Quran. The victim was killed inside the local police station, with the law enforcement authorities being hapless bystanders. Often, local police are complicit in victimizing individuals and communities once Islamist thugs conjure the accusation of blasphemy. And this thuggery has the backing of the state, which is now expanding its already notorious blasphemy codes.

While Pakistan is yet to execute anyone for sacrilege, its blasphemy laws continue to encourage mob violence.

The Geopolitics of Sri Lanka’s Energy Crisis

Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

Two top foreign officials visited Sri Lanka within a fortnight spanning late January and early February. The optics of these tightly choreographed events may have obscured the nuts-and-bolts objectives sought by the United States and India. As Quad members, the two powers are on the same page in their bid to counter China’s influence the region. With Sri Lanka going through its worst-ever economic crisis and on its knees for an IMF bailout, diplomatic interactions with such visitors take place in the shadow of a glaring power imbalance.

The verbal sparring from U.S. Under Secretary Victoria Nuland, who claimed that China is “not doing enough” to help Sri Lanka get IMF funds, was to be expected. But little is known regarding other issues that she discussed with President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Did she ask about the status of the New Fortress Energy project – where a U.S. company gobbled up a 40 percent stake in West Coast Power Ltd which owns the Yugadhanavi power plant, along with an unsolicited contract, bypassing the usual tender process, to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) needs for the next five years?

The September 2021 deal included rights to build an offshore floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU). The relevant agreements were signed despite Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) unions protesting they had already called for bids for these very purposes. Apparently the cabinet nod had been given – former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa secured their approval, though cabinet members had not been briefed ahead of time.

China Sanctions Lockheed Martin and Raytheon as Tensions Over Balloon Increase

Dave Sebastian

HONG KONG—China has imposed fresh sanctions on the U.S.’s two largest defense contractors, a largely symbolic gesture that nevertheless signaled escalating tensions between the world’s two largest economies following the shooting down of a Chinese balloon by an Air Force jet fighter.

On Thursday, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said it blacklisted Lockheed Martin Corp. LMT -1.93%decrease; red down pointing triangle and an arm of Raytheon Technologies Corp. RTX -0.48%decrease; red down pointing triangle over the companies’ arms sales to Taiwan. Putting the companies on its “unreliable entities list” prohibits them from export and import activities related to China.

The sanctions have little real effect since American defense companies are broadly barred from making military sales to China. Raytheon is also one of the largest sellers of commercial jet engines and aircraft parts to Chinese airlines.

The sanctions come on the heels of Washington’s blacklisting of six Chinese companies it said were linked to Beijing’s surveillance-balloon program after the U.S. shot down one that had traversed the U.S. Washington has slapped sanctions in recent years on an increasing array of Chinese tech companies as well as entities that it says are tied to China’s military.

China and Strategic Instability in Space: Pathways to Peace in an Era of US-China Strategic Competition

Bruce W. MacDonald; Carla Freeman, Alison McFarland

Recent defense white papers published by the Chinese government refer to outer space as the “commanding heights” in international strategic competition, and the United States has explicitly identified space as a warfighting domain. While current strains in the US-China relationship have made managing potential conflict in space difficult, it is not impossible. This report identifies several areas in which the United States and China, as two of the world’s three most formidable space powers, urgently need to improve communication and manage differences.

SummaryUS-China competition in space is intensifying against a backdrop of rapid advances in technology, China’s commitment to developing its already formidable space capabilities, and the increasingly confrontational nature of US-China relations.

The space environment is facing unprecedented and destabilizing challenges. Drivers of instability include the entanglement of conventional and nuclear space sensor systems; the testing of kinetic energy direct ascent anti-satellite weapons; and the dramatic growth of constellations of tens and even hundreds of thousands of commercial satellites.
China is a key factor in all three of these issues, each of which reflects the fact that the infrastructure of space governance has not kept pace with technological change and the burgeoning number of actors in space.

Will China Become the World’s Technology Superpower?

Mesut Özcan

In today’s fraught international environment, technological innovations such as artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, quantum technology, and space technology generally provide exceptional advantages to states and shape global power competition. China, which has attracted attention with its investments and policies in these areas, has started to emerge as a significant opponent of the United States.

China aims to take advantage of the political, economic, military, and commercial opportunities offered by innovative technologies to become the world leader in technology. China’s strategy, in which all Chinese state mechanisms act together, intends to increase support for state-owned enterprises, prioritize research and development activities, ensure high-tech industrialization, and boost innovation programs. But what does this approach, which has recently worried Western countries, mean?

China’s technological pragmatism

In early 2006, China’s cabinet declared that it sees innovative technology as a strategic choice within the National Medium and Long-Term Plan for the Development of Science and Technology (2006-2020). In this context, China, which focuses on reinforcing its capabilities in areas such as unmanned aerial vehicles and space, has started to popularize using digital technologies and automation in line with its five-year development plans. Under the 973 Program, which started in 2009 under the coordination of the Ministry of Science and Technology, China has increased its support for many scientific programs, including quantum technology, space and satellite technologies, cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, automation systems, and robotics.

US Woos Other Nations for Military-AI Ethics Pact


The U.S. will spell out ethics, principles, and practices for the use of artificial intelligence in military contexts in a new declaration Thursday, with the hope of adding cosigners from around the world. The announcement is intended to highlight a "contrast" between the U.S. approach and what one senior defense official called "the more opaque policies of countries like Russia and China."

U.S. Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins will announce the declaration at an AI in warfare conference in the Netherlands.

“The aim of the political declaration is to promote responsible behavior in the application of AI and autonomy in the military domain, to develop an international consensus around this issue, and put in place measures to increase transparency, communication, and reduce risks of inadvertent conflict and escalation,” Jenkins told Defense One in an email.

One of the key aspects of the declaration: any state that signs onto it agrees to involve humans in any potential employment of nuclear weapons, a senior State Department official told reporters Wednesday. The declaration will also verbally (but not legally) commit backers to other norms and guidelines on developing and deploying AI in warfare— building off the lengthy ethical guidelines the Defense Department uses. Those principles govern how to build, test, and run AI programs in the military to ensure that the programs work as they are supposed to, and that humans can control them.

Washington’s China Hawks Take Flight

Robbie Gramer,  and Christina Lu

Barack Obama and Xi Jinping casually strolled around the exclusive Sunnylands retreat near Palm Springs, California, smiling to display warm and friendly U.S.-China relations. It was the summer of 2013, and things seemed to be going well between the reigning superpower and the ascendant one.

Obama was a fairly seasoned second-term president; Xi, the new Chinese leader, had just taken the reins from Hu Jintao, and nearly everyone in Washington viewed him as the embodiment of a new, more hopeful chapter in U.S.-China relations. Obama spoke of a “new model of cooperation” with China and said the United States welcomed the “continuing peaceful rise of China as a world power.” It was the beginning of a new era in U.S.-China relations.

Except it wasn’t.

A decade later, all the goodwill that Obama and Xi seemed to have built at Sunnylands has completely evaporated. At home, Xi has cemented his authoritarian power over the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He has carried out a sweeping crackdown on ethnic Uyghurs and other minorities in China’s Xinjiang region in what the United States considers a genocide and has overseen the country’s most ambitious military buildup since World War II. In Washington, the so-called doves who long championed engagement with China have been completely sidelined. Policymakers and lawmakers across the increasingly wide political spectrum have coalesced into a consensus: It’s time to get tough on China—whatever that means in practice.

Michigan shooting | An Indian student in the US writes: Universities don’t prepare you for the reality that you could be shot

Ramona Mukherji

A shooting at Michigan State University on Monday left three people dead and five students in critical condition. Students across the US are reeling, but mass shootings are no longer shocking.

I grew up in Gurgaon before moving to Los Angeles to attend college at UCLA. While I had heard of bomb threats in nearby Delhi, they never posed an immediate danger. The last major bombing incident in Delhi happened in 2011, nearly 12 years ago. However, school and university shootings are all too common in the US. In 2022, there were more than 600 mass shootings, alongside even more firearm-related homicides and suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive. It was a record year for school shootings, with around 46 incidents in K-12 schools. This year alone, there have been more than 60 mass shootings.

As a student living in Los Angeles, the once-distant threat of gun violence is now a reality. It’s only been three weeks since California experienced back-to-back mass shootings. One of those incidents occurred in Monterey Park, only about an hour’s drive from campus. Some of my classmates and friends had loved ones in the community.

U.S. Global Security Challenges and Strategy

Bonny Lin

Senior fellow for Asian security Bonny Lin testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. global security and competition with near-peer rivals, as Congress begins consideration of the FY 2024 NDAA.

Chairman Reed, Ranking Member Wicker, and distinguished members of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, thank you for the opportunity today to testify at this important hearing on “U.S. Global Security Challenges and Strategy.”

My testimony today will focus on three issues: the nature of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) challenge; what the United States is doing; and how China is responding.
The PRC Challenge

There is growing U.S. bipartisan consensus on the challenge that the PRC poses to the United States and international community. The October 2022 U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) appropriately identifies China as “the only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order, and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to do it.” Similarly, the NSS points out that “Beijing has ambitions to create an enhanced sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and to become the world’s leading power.”

It is in the interest of the US and the West to end this conflict with Russia

It is challenging to find anything original to say about Russia’s ‘Special Operation’ in Ukraine, amidst the ubiquitous coverage of the last eleven months. Western mainstream sources are almost unanimous in their condemnation of what they claim to be ‘Russia’s unprovoked and barbaric aggression’. More impartial observers tend to agree that the invasion of Ukraine was not unprovoked nor was it calculated to cause casualties in Moscow’s perspective[i]. Indeed, a deal was indeed soon struck in Turkey, mediated by President Erdogan, only to be reneged on by Ukrainian President Zelensky, a former pop video dancer and stand-up comedian with no political experience, under the influence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson who carried the joint US-British brief for Ukraine to fight on, with the promise of unlimited military and financial support, in order to recover Crimea and the Donbas by decisively ‘defeating Putin’.

Thence the conflict rose in intensity; starting as a long simmering regional, almost internecine feud about disputed borders, it has turned into a protracted clash between the NATO bloc and the Russian Federation. The US plan was simple and fairly straightforward: build up the Ukrainian armed forces and paramilitary groups trained by NATO since 2008: the year after President George W Bush officially proposed to admit Ukraine and Georgia into NATO and met with opposition from Berlin and Paris. The goal was to use ‘remote controlled’ Ukrainian armed forces for wearing down Russia’s military capabilities[ii] while waves of crushing sanctions would seek to destroy its economy and create major internal unrest[iii]. The West would not risk boots on the ground and the US and its partners would recover their financial contributions in the long term with Ukrainian national assets to be used as collateral for the loans and lend-lease arrangements provided to the Kyiv regime[iv].

What Putin Got Right

Stephen M. Walt

Russian President Vladimir Putin got many things wrong when he decided to invade Ukraine. He exaggerated his army’s military prowess. He underestimated the power of Ukrainian nationalism and the ability of its outmanned armed forces to defend their home soil. He appears to have misjudged Western unity, the speed with which NATO and others would come to Ukraine’s aid, and the willingness and ability of energy-importing countries to impose sanctions on Russia and wean themselves off its energy exports. He may also have overestimated China’s willingness to back him up: Beijing is buying lots of Russian oil and gas, but it is not providing Moscow with vocal diplomatic support or valuable military aid. Put all these errors together, and the result is a decision with negative consequences for Russia that will linger long after Putin has left the stage. No matter how the war turns out, Russia is going to be weaker and less influential than it would have been had he chosen a different path.

But if we are honest with ourselves—and being ruthlessly honest is essential in wartime—we should acknowledge that Russia’s president got some things right, too. None of them justify his decision to start the war or the way Russia has waged it; they merely identify aspects of the conflict where his judgments have been borne out thus far. To ignore these elements is to make the same mistakes that he did: that of underestimating one’s opponent and misreading key elements of the situation.

The Adani Group Saga Is Far From Over


It’s been three weeks since Hindenburg, a New York-based short-selling firm, accused Adani Group of “pulling the largest con in corporate history” through stock manipulation, accounting fraud, and other malfeasance. In response to Hindenburg’s allegations, Adani Group issued a 413-page reply calling the short-sellers claims “stale, baseless, and discredited allegations.”

But the allegations have nevertheless had an immediate knock-on effect, with more than $100 billion wiped from the group’s market value, as well as Gautam Adani losing his status as both Asia and India’s richest man. Adani Group also canceled a $2.5 billion share sale, pledging to refund its investors. Adani said that the group’s balance sheet was “healthy and assets robust” in a video statement after the sale was called off, adding that the group has an “impeccable track record of fulfilling our debt obligations”.

This week, India’s markets regulator confirmed in a Supreme Court filing that it would be investigating the allegations and studying “market activity” around the report. The continued scrutiny of Adani group has led many to wonder what will happen next.

Who blew up Nord Stream?

Ian Bremmer

The controversial Nord Stream gas pipelines connecting Russia to Germany and Europe made headlines last September when several sections mysteriously exploded deep underwater, causing the surface of the Baltic Sea to bubble.

Multiple investigations determined the explosions were an act of sabotage, but they failed to identify a culprit. Most experts in the West pointed the finger at Russia, suspecting it was an attempt to worsen the winter prospects of an already energy-starved Europe to weaken its resolve to support Ukraine.

But I never fully bought into that theory.

Why would Russia blow up its own multi-billion-dollar infrastructure and destroy its biggest source of leverage over Germany, Europe, and the West? While the pipelines were already offline, the Russians were counting on the Europeans eventually getting weary of going without their cheap gas. The ability to turn the tap back on was Moscow's best bet to undercut Western support for Ukraine.

The Kremlin’s Grand Delusions

Fiona Hill and Angela Stent

Despite a series of blunders, miscalculations, and battlefield reversals that would have surely seen him thrown out of office in most normal countries, President Vladimir Putin is still at the pinnacle of power in Russia. He continues to define the contours of his country’s war against Ukraine. He is micromanaging the invasion even as generals beneath him appear to be in charge of the battlefield. (This deputizing is done to protect him from blowback if something goes badly wrong in the war.) Putin and those immediately around him directly work to mobilize Russians on the home front and manipulate public views of the invasion abroad. He has in some ways succeeded in this information warfare.

The war has revealed the full extent of Putin’s personalized political system. After what is now 23 years at the helm of the Russian state, there are no obvious checks on his power. Institutions beyond the Kremlin count for little. “I would never have imagined that I would miss the Politburo,” said Rene Nyberg, the former Finnish ambassador to Moscow. “There is no political organization in Russia that has the power to hold the president and commander in chief accountable.” Diplomats, policymakers, and analysts are stuck in a doom loop—an endless back-and-forth argument among themselves—to figure out what Putin wants and how the West can shape his behavior.

China Battles West for Raw Material of the Future

Heiner Hoffmann and Arsène Mpiana 

The ceiling panels in the Manono community center are disintegrating. A crack runs through the cement floor, diagonally across the room. There is also no electricity, though event organizers have set up a generator outside for the large speakers and microphones. But most of the meeting participants don’t really need any technical assistance as they loudly share their points of view.

In the faded Grande Salle of Manono, a small town in the Democratic Republic of Congo located a two-day drive from the nearest big city, the focus is on global politics. The question is: Who should be allowed access to the minerals of the future located in the earth below their feet? "The Chinese," or "the people from the West?"

Manono must once have been a splendid city. In 1915, abundant deposits of tin were discovered, and Belgian colonialists built up a vast mining operation.

According to geologists, though, the earth beneath Manono contains what might be the largest lithium deposit in the world. Completely untouched. Among the old documents from the former Belgian mine operators, there is a geologic study from 1952. Almost as an aside, one sentence in the study mentions the presence of "spodumene," a mineral that contains lithium. It was a significant obstacle to the miners back then, basically waste that just got in the way. But today, it is one of the world's most sought-after raw materials. Experts believe that demand for it will vastly exceed supply before long.

Lithium, lightest metal on earth, carries heavy geopolitical weight


“Control oil and you control nations,” former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said. Today, it could be argued that to control lithium – white oil as it were – is to control nations. Lithium has become a critical mineral in green technologies, with lithium-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles, and to store wind and solar energy.

Like oil, lithium, is not evenly distributed in the world. Nearly 80 per cent of known deposits are in four countries – the South American lithium triangle of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, and Australia. However, holding less than 7 per cent of the world’s lithium reserves, China is the world’s largest importer, refiner and consumer of lithium, buying 70 per cent of lithium compounds and supplying 70 per cent of lithium production, largely to domestic lithium battery makers, six of which are among the top ten in the world.

China’s lithium dominance has caused concerns. Both the European Union and the United States have prioritised building greater self-sufficiency in raw materials, lithium included, in their industrial policies, aiming to curb their reliance on China and boost homegrown green technologies. This exposes China’s vulnerabilities in its transition to clean energy.
Can and should China be contained?

Geopolitics Are Changing. Venture Capital Must, Too.

Hemant Taneja and Fareed Zakaria

The era of American hegemony is ending. It is being replaced by a new geopolitical world order defined by great power competition and increased nationalism, a transition that will have enormous consequences for the global economy. This new environment will mean the end of, or at least a shift away from, the unique conditions that fueled global growth and development for the past 30 years, and will introduce increasingly complex, systemic challenges that will require new types of technology, innovation, and collaboration to solve.

Simply put, the technologies and companies that will thrive in this new era will require more capital, more patience, and greater levels of governance than before. In order to build and support the next generation of enduring businesses, we need to develop a new approach to company building, one that transcends, and ultimately redefines, venture capital.
The Return of Politics and Rise of Re-Globalization

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 seemed to mark what Francis Fukuyama termed the “end of history,” meaning the end of centuries of contestation over the best political and economic model for nations. Soon after, the collapse of the Soviet Union reconfirmed the U.S.’s role as the world’s sole, uncontested superpower, and for nearly three decades thereafter, the world experienced something very rare: the absence of great power competition. This led to the adoption of American policy preferences in many parts of the world — free market economics and trade, democratic politics, and open technology platforms. These developments fueled enormous global growth, leading countries to de-prioritize their national political interests in the pursuit of economic prosperity, a phenomenon that Thomas Friedman called the “golden straitjacket.” Even China prioritized economic reform over centralized government control during this period by opening its economy to foreign investment and global trade — a tectonic shift in the Chinese Communist Party’s governing ideology.

An EMP or Solar Incident Could Result in Blackout Warfare

Gunnery Sergeant Joshua E. Owen, U.S. Marine Corps

Russia and China have the ability to destroy the U.S. power grid and degrade military capabilities with a nonkinetic first strike—not only through the electromagnetic effects of nuclear and nonnuclear weapons, but also by means such as cyberattacks. The sun could similarly destroy all or parts of the system through a natural event.

The 1962 Starfish Prime high-altitude nuclear test (seen here from Honolulu, 1,300 kilometers away) generated an electromagnetic pulse that caused electrical surges and streetlights to blow out. Electrical and communication grids were much better protected from EMP at the time, because they relied on solid-state systems, rather than today’s highly vulnerable silicon-based microprocessors. Public Domain

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is the electromagnetic radiation from a nuclear explosion caused by Compton-recoil electrons and photoelectrons from photons scattered in the materials of the nuclear device or a surrounding medium. It can also be caused by nonnuclear weapons, though their effects are usually more geographically limited. The resulting electric and magnetic fields may couple with electrical or electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges. Depending on the burst type, it can cause power spikes ranging from several hundred volts per meter up to more than 1 million volts per meter. Furthermore, it can cause component or subsystem burnout or degradation and system upset.

Why Russia has failed to win the cyberwar in Ukraine

The printers of the offices of the European Commission, in Brussels, were working at full capacity in the spring of 2022. Names, phone numbers and other staff contact details were being put on paper, along with other documents containing all the necessary information for the European Union to continue to be operational in the event of an IT blackout, a genuine concern after Russia invaded Ukraine in February of that year. However, such a blow has not materialized. Although the shadow of a
major cyberattack with international consequences has loomed over Europe since the beginning of the war, a week before the first anniversary of the Kremlin’s assault, cyberwarfare still has not played a significant role in the conflict.

There were persuasive reasons to believe it would be a more decisive factor. Between 2015 and 2016, not long after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, Russia launched one of the most sophisticated attacks on energy infrastructure in history – the BlackEnergy virus – which left several Ukrainian cities without heating in the dead of winter. Later, in 2017, Kremlin-related groups launched the NotPetya attack. Initially aimed at Ukrainian companies and public institutions, this cyberweapon took on the appearance of ransomware, which encrypts a system and releases it in exchange for money, although NotPetya didn’t offer that option: it simply destroyed information. It eventually spread to a large part of the world, with at least 300,000 computers affected, and is still considered one of the most powerful cyberattacks in history.

The “Chips Alliance”: How will the Global Technology War Affect Israel?

Ariel Sobelman

The CHIPS and Science Act signed by President Biden in August 2022 changes the dynamics and norms of global technology commerce. The US has imposed unprecedented restrictions on the export of advanced chips to China, making it difficult for China to obtain essential equipment for artificial intelligence technologies that it could possibly use to undermine global stability. The US is currently recruiting its allies to join the struggle and setting up a “chips alliance.” How should Israel respond to a move that is perceived as the Cold War of the 21st century?

The global technology war has entered its third year, and it appears that the struggle between the United States and China has reached a new peak. A few months ago President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which allocates $52 billion to encourage the construction of semiconductor fabrication plants in the United States, and more than $200 billion over the next decade to ensure the continued research and development that is an essential condition for success in the field of artificial intelligence and super and quantom computing abilities. At the same time, it unveiled a comprehensive list of restrictions on the export of chips and technology to China, aimed at preventing Beijing from developing advanced technologies. On the face of it, this is an economic move intended to secure the technological superiority of the US, but it is in fact part of a larger struggle over the nature of the global order, in which the United States is determined to change the course of global trade in an unprecedented way, inter alia, with the aim of preventing attacks on the values of democracy.

The War Over the World's Most Critical Technology: A Conversation with Chris Miller

David Sacks and Chris Miller

Chris Miller is the author of Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology, which tells the history of semiconductors, a product that more than any other provides the foundation for economic, military, and geopolitical power. The battle to control this vital technology is at the forefront of U.S.-China competition, while dependence on Taiwan to produce the vast majority of the most complex chips has become a major focus for U.S. policymakers. The Financial Times named Chip War its Business Book of the Year, while the Economist and the New Yorker both listed it as a book of the year. What follows is a conversation between Chris Miller and David Sacks about his book and the future of semiconductors.

Why are chips so important and what drew you, as an economic historian who studies Russia, to this story?

I wanted to understand why some countries can produce certain advanced technologies and not others. Russia has a complex track record when it comes to technology. It has brilliant scientists, an impressive education system, and some real technology successes, like being the first country to launch a satellite and the second to explode an atomic bomb. But it utterly failed at producing computing power. I wanted to understand why and discovered that a key reason was that Russia could never manufacture cutting-edge chips—the tiny pieces of silicon that produce all the world’s computing power.

The AI Arms Race Is Changing Everything


To create is human. For the past 300,000 years we’ve been unique in our ability to make art, cuisine, manifestos, societies: to envision and craft something new where there was nothing before.

Now we have company. While you’re reading this sentence, artificial intelligence (AI) programs are painting cosmic portraits, responding to emails, preparing tax returns, and recording metal songs. They’re writing pitch decks, debugging code, sketching architectural blueprints, and providing health advice.

Artificial intelligence has already had a pervasive impact on our lives. AIs are used to price medicine and houses, assemble cars, determine what ads we see on social media. But generative AI, a category of system that can be prompted to create wholly novel content, is much newer.

Fog of war: how the Ukraine conflict transformed the cyber threat landscape

Shane Huntley

Nearly one year ago, Russia invaded Ukraine, and we continue to see cyber operations play a prominent role in the war. To provide more insights into the role of cyber, today, we are releasing our report Fog of War: How the Ukraine Conflict Transformed the Cyber Threat Landscape based on analysis from Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG), Mandiant and Trust & Safety. The report encompasses new findings, and retrospective insights, across government-backed attackers, information operations (IO) and cybercriminal ecosystem threat actors. It also includes threat actor deep dives focused on specific campaigns from 2022.

Coming together to support Ukraine

Since the war began, governments, companies, civil society groups and countless others have been working around the clock to support the Ukrainian people and their institutions. At Google, we support these efforts and continue to announce new commitments and support to Ukraine. This includes a donation of 50,000 Google Workspace licenses for the government; rapid Air Raid Alerts system for Android phones in the region; support for refugees, businesses, and entrepreneurs; and measures to indefinitely pause monetization and limit the reach of Russian state news media.

Hacks, leaks and wipers: Google analyzes a year of Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine


On March 16, 2022, just weeks after the start of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, hackers attacked an unnamed Ukrainian organization with destructive malware designed to wipe its hard drives. The same day, suspected Russian attackers infiltrated a Ukrainian media company to spread a bogus story that Kyiv would surrender to Moscow. Soon thereafter, a crude deepfake appeared online showing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying the country would soon give up its fight.

That sequence of events, which occurred as fighting intensified, exemplifies how Russia executed its hybrid approach to warfare — with mixed results — over the past year, combining the use of digital weapons and online propaganda alongside traditional military operations in an attempt to win its brutal campaign.

There’s “a pattern of concurrent disruptive attacks, espionage, and [information operations] — likely the first instance of all three being conducted simultaneously by state actors in a conventional war,” according to a new report from Google’s Threat Analysis Group, the tech giant’s team that monitors and works to thwart government-backed hacking against its 1 billion users worldwide.

Cyber risks go beyond geopolitics

Following a meeting of the Counter Ransomware Initiative in Washington DC in November 2022, Australia has taken the lead in creating the International Counter Ransomware Task Force, which includes 37 countries. This shows that nation-states are understanding the risks of a cyber attack, and getting much more involved in trying to prevent these. However, cyber risks also go beyond geopolitics. The challenge is no longer about being attacked (which has a very high probability) and the chances of an attack being successful (low to moderate impact) but rather about the chances of a major attack (low to moderate probability) on a specific target that might have a high to very high impact.

Different types of attackers and targets

Inter-state cyberwar remains one of the major risks facing the global economy, but it only represents one part of the vulnerabilities of the digital world. Cyber attacks have become ubiquitous, happening as often as every 11 seconds (according to a Cybersecurity Ventures estimate), but the majority fail. Microsoft reports that the most basic cyber security protection can stop as many as 98% of these attacks.

Cyber Warfare & National Cybersecurity in the 21st Century: Five Key Takeaways


At the end of November, the SafeBreach team brought together two of our most experienced cybersecurity professionals—our CISO Avishai (Avi) Avivi and Director of Security Research Tomer Bar—for a discussion on cyber warfare and its impact on national cybersecurity. Guest host Jenny Radcliffe, ‘The People Hacker’ and world-renowned social engineer, and Kevin Fielder, CISO at the FNZ Group, joined in on the conversation. The group covered a wide range of topics in a far-reaching and fascinating conversation. In case you missed it, we’ve recapped the five most important takeaways for you below.

#1: It can be difficult to know where to draw the line—is cyber warfare actually war?

One of the first points acknowledged by our panel was that while conventional warfare is largely a plain, unavoidable fact, the term “cyber warfare” is much more difficult to define. What is the main goal of cyber warfare? According to Kevin, it’s often stealing intellectual property, which is nothing new. He made the observation that much of what could be defined as cyber warfare could just as easily be classified as traditional, good-old-fashioned espionage, not necessarily all out war.

Avi echoed this sentiment, but pointed out that classifying attacks isn’t the main issue. He argued that while many attacks would not be classified as an act of cyber war, there have likely been incidents that crossed the threshold into a legitimate act of war. The real problem, according to Avi, is figuring out an appropriate response, which he argues is “much less clear cut” than classifying attacks.

The Art Of Cyberwar: Understanding Your Enemy

Emil Sayegh

The ancient book on war, "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu, holds many lessons that are surprisingly applicable to today's cybersecurity operations. One of the most important lessons is captured in the following line:

"If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."

Cyber adversaries are often referred to as "hackers," but in reality they come in many forms and have varying motivations and techniques. Some groups are well-organized, while others are loosely structured. Some are government-affiliated, while others are purely criminal or terrorist organizations.

As Sun Tzu advised, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of one's enemies. In this series of articles, we will examine the major global hacking groups and discuss the best ways to protect against them.

As a New Space Age Dawns, the Artemis Accords Should Take Center Stage

Alex Dubin

The liftoff of Artemis 1 last November launched a new era in space, as the United States prepares to send humans beyond low-Earth orbit and back to the Moon for the first time in half a century. The Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion capsule finally made their debut after $23 billion and eleven years of development.

Back on Earth, another element that will define this new era in human exploration of the cosmos has also begun taking shape. The Artemis Accords are a set of shared, non-binding principles that aim to govern “responsible, peaceful, and sustainable” exploration of space, taking the form of bilateral agreements between the United States and twenty-two signatory countries. This new international space club saw nine nations sign on last year.

As we finally enter the Artemis Era, the Accords must play a more prominent role in U.S. space geopolitics and public diplomacy.

Artemis and its Predecessors

We Missed Social Media’s Dark Side. Let’s Be Smarter about the Metaverse


When I became the Pentagon’s acting spokesman in 2009, Secretary Robert Gates tapped me to draft the Department’s social media policy. I got it wrong.

I focused on the benefits of these newish technologies, not the dimly perceived problems that would grow into national threats. As today’s tech giants push toward a new vision of social media—an immersive experience sometimes dubbed extended reality or the metaverse—national-security leaders must not make the same mistake.

The potential dangers these social media platforms presented are now commonplace. Authoritarian and repressive governments (Russia, Iran, China, North Korea) exploit Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., to target their own populations and those of democratic countries. This digital axis of evil works hard to divide the populations of democratic nations, attempting to weaken their governments from the inside.

Our policy to allow unfettered access and use of these technologies did not lead to an increase in civic engagement nor the spread of democracy. It has done just the opposite.


Jahara Matisek, William Reno and Sam Rosenberg

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine was a strategic disaster for that aggressor, triggering a flood of security assistance from the United States and other international supporters of Ukraine. In 2022, the United States provided Ukraine over $20 billion in security assistance, a massive increase from the $2.8 billion in military aid from Washington between 2014 and early 2022—and this is on top of $9.9 billion in humanitarian aid and financial assistance of $15.5 billion. European Union institutions and countries provided over $51 billion of military, humanitarian, and financial assistance in 2022. Western political leaders responded with all the major instruments of national power—diplomatic, information, military, economic—to help Ukraine.

Practically every few weeks the administration of President Joe Biden asks US lawmakers to authorize billions in security force assistance (SFA) for Ukraine to fight Russian occupying forces. This overall effort encompassing training, advising, assisting, and equipping (TAAE) has translated into remarkable Ukrainian battlefield victories to reclaim territories in southern and eastern Ukraine. For most of 2022, TAAE was largely cobbled together by staffs at the US embassy in Ukraine, US European Command, the 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB), 18th Airborne Corps, Joint Multinational Training Group–Ukraine (JMTG-U), and other organizations. The November creation of the Security Assistance Group–Ukraine (SAG-U) at Wiesbaden aimed to address this fragmented approach to Ukrainian SFA and streamline US efforts alongside those of NATO allies. Meanwhile, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative allows the president to circumvent US military stocks by funding the direct industry purchase of armaments, such as the thirty-one brand-new Abrams main battle tanks the White House recently announced would be sent to Ukraine this year.