21 February 2023

Towards Nuclear Stewardship with China

With the rising risk of complex crises and military escalation in the Pacific region, the United States should invite China into a process of nuclear restraint and confidence-building, which we call ‘nuclear stewardship’. This process could start with a joint bilateral declaration that neither superpower would use nuclear weapons first against the other or its formal allies. This would acknowledge that neither side could gain by striking first with a nuclear device. This declaration could be the leading edge of a broader set of discussions on strategic stability and eventual implementation of confidence-building measures designed to enhance mutual understanding and trust in the US–Chinese nuclear relationship.

While some might argue that a no-first-use (NFU) pledge is flawed because it could be ignored in a crisis, it would nonetheless help start a process aimed at reducing mutual suspicion about the nuclear motives of the other party. And such a pledge could be reinforced in peacetime by monitoring the military exercises of the other party and in a crisis by America’s overwhelming nuclear strength. The benefits far outweigh the risks.

Such an initiative would introduce a cooperative pursuit in an otherwise fraught relationship, while also setting an example for other nuclear-weapons states. Conventional deterrence in the region can be sustained with strong US and allied defence efforts, and Asian allies can be further reassured that the US will defend them conventionally and deter nuclear strikes on their territory. The US declaration would not apply to Russia, North Korea or Iran (should that nation cross the nuclear threshold). The timing for this initiative is propitious.

China's Influence Activities in India

Joshua Kurlantzick

In recent years, under autocratic top leader Xi Jinping, China has increasingly tried to meddle in Indian politics and society, using disinformation on social media platforms to try and wield influence directly or indirectly. Over the past decade, Beijing has embarked upon a similar strategy to wield influence within politics, local discourse, societies, online discussions, universities, and media in several countries. To do this, China uses media and information tools. Beijing is expanding state media outlets, leveraging international social media platforms, using training programs for foreign journalists, and signing content-sharing deals with media in other countries to extend its sphere of influence. It also uses more traditional methods—including using the United Front Work Department (UFWD), a major intelligence agency within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—to wield influence with the Chinese diaspora, foreign politicians, businesses, and universities abroad.

In China, a Web of Actors Weave Foreign Policy

Carlo J.V. Caro

A CNN article published last Thursday reported that U.S. officials believe that the balloon which crossed over the United States in early February might be part of a broader intelligence surveillance program, but that President Xi Jinping might not have been aware of that specific operation.

While I do not have the information necessary to determine if Xi was aware or not, the reality is that while China is a one party state, its foreign policy does not belong to any single actor. The Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the provincial governments, among other actors, all have divergent interests and influences that affect how China acts and reacts to a particular event.

While decision-making and power in Mao’s China were extremely centralized, after Deng Xiaoping reforms, an increasing number of actors, each possessing a degree of autonomy, political power and the independent capacity to shape foreign policy became influential. And while these actors might have opposing objectives, the Chinese Communist Party relies on all of them for political and economic balance. Thus Xi Jinping and the CCP are unable to ignore their influence in China’s foreign policy.

Does China Want to Rule the World? It's Not That Simple | Opinion


What was the Chinese leadership thinking in flying an easy-to-spot low-tech balloon over U.S. nuclear installations? Did they want to get caught? Was one branch of a fragmented autocracy trying to embarrass another?

Maybe the CIA or NSA or another agency knows the answer. But whatever IT MAY BE, it's not addressing the right question. What we should be asking is what does China want?

It's widely assumed that China seeks global primacy sometime soon, perhaps by the middle of the 21st century (by the Gregorian calendar, to be clear). But do they?

This is more than a vulgar game of nations grasping for advantage in material resources and a near monopoly on violence, this is an ideological clash. Our era is one of fevered competition between liberal democracy and authoritarianism (whether it pretends to be democratic, the way Turkey and even Russia and Iran feebly do, or not).

Liberal democracy went through a spasm of arrogance around the time of the West's victory over the Soviet Union. Three decades later it's clear what we got wrong: it was a victory over communism (an economic system that is antithetical to human nature), but not over authoritarianism (a political system that, alas, is not).

China says it’s ‘open for business’ again after zero-covid. Here’s what that means.

Brian Klein

Confusion, it seems, is the main feature of analysis of China’s economy these days. The country’s prospects are everything, everywhere, all at once: We hear that the Chinese economy is about to drive world growth to new heights after a post-covid reopening; that the economy is in crisis; and that a full recovery remains uncertain. These analyses come from reputable sources, each with plenty of data to support them. And, of course, all the prognosticating matters beyond feeding the prediction industry; businesses are using these forecasts to make investment decisions, and world leaders are reassessing the strength and character of their China relationships. And where money flows, politics follow.

Now China is hoping to get the money flowing again. The government has announced with some fanfare that it is “open for business” — after the “zero-covid” clampdown that slowed manufacturing and consumer spending and all but shut down business travel to and from China. Liu He, the outgoing Chinese vice premier and among the last of the country’s senior economic reformers, said at the January Davos conference, “Foreign investments are welcome in China, and the door to China will only open up further.”

Cybersecurity: Why we need to shift the narrative to build a cyber-ready workforce

Santha Subramoni

Cybersecurity was named as one of the top issues facing the world at . Experts urged for a global response to the ‘cyber storm’, observing that the next pandemic could be the cyber pandemic. The acute shortage of relevant first responders, i.e. cybersecurity professionals, further complicates and exacerbates the issue.

It’s well known that most of an iceberg sits below the water surface, and this is a good way to think about the skills gap we are facing in cybersecurity.

At the tip are the skills that spring to mind immediately when we think of hackers and warding off those with malicious intent. But just as 90% of the iceberg is hidden, the all-too apparent need for those skills belies a wider need for competencies that support and underpin the broader goal.

These include audit skills, coding and system integration skills, an understanding of law and policies, and the ability to build relationships with multiple stakeholders and lead in crisis situations.

Are We Beating China Economically?

Derek Scissors

It’s widely accepted that the U.S. should compete economically with China, even though it sometimes still feels as if only one side is competing. What’s not settled is how to win or who is likely to do so. As the impact of China’s “zero Covid” mistake fades, that nation’s economy will recover in 2023 and 2024, to cheers from Wall Street and American technology firms. When that happens, it may seem that America is failing to keep pace.

But the longer term looks much better for the United States. Economic fundamentals and, to a lesser extent, the policies tied to them show America outperforming China on a durable basis. The main question is not who will win the competition but whether the U.S. will take advantage of a clearly superior situation and put the People’s Republic of China (PRC) well into the rearview mirror.

Economic comparisons typically start with the national economy’s size and individual citizens’ prosperity, as seen in part in gross domestic product (GDP). But size and prosperity are outcomes, flowing from development policies and four fundamental features of the economy: labor, capital, land, and innovation. Those are the sources of growth no matter how it is measured.

Blinken Has Tense Meeting With Chinese Official Amid Spy Balloon Furor

Michael Crowley and David E. Sanger

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken held what American officials described as a confrontational meeting with his Chinese counterpart on Saturday night in Munich, warning him that the flight of a Chinese surveillance balloon across the United States “must never happen again.”

He also cautioned Beijing against providing “material support” to Russia’s war in Ukraine, a prospect he later suggested China was now “strongly” considering.

The U.S. description of the meeting, which resumed diplomatic contact between Washington and Beijing after it broke down over the balloon episode, said nothing about how the Chinese official, Wang Yi, responded. But a brief summary on official Chinese state media described an equally sharp exchange.

Mr. Wang, according to that account, said it was up to the United States to “solve the damage caused by the indiscriminate use of force” when it shot down the large balloon off South Carolina.

The United States, China, and the “new non-aligned” countries

Madiha Afzal, Bruce Riedel, and Natan Sachs


In his National Security Strategy, U.S. President Joe Biden outlined his view of global competition with China and the American desire to “work in lockstep with our allies and partners and with all those who share our interests.”[1] But this desire for cooperation faces an obvious problem: Many countries would rather not choose sides, and they gain leverage from playing great powers off each other. The problem is especially acute in regions where America’s emphasis on liberal democracy contradicts the interests of some of the regions’ governments.

This policy brief focuses on China’s engagement with these new “non-aligned” countries in global competition, especially countries in South Asia, the Middle East, and the Horn of Africa. There is a risk of taking Cold War analogies — such as non-alignment — too far, of course. Here we mean countries that prefer a less-then-clear alignment with the United States or China. China’s relationship with Pakistan is examined closely, as it may best exemplify Beijing’s model for dealing with such countries, but it is important to recognize that China has no one-size-fits-all approach to great power competition and, therefore, neither should the United States. In many countries, China has used extensive economic engagement as a prequel and precursor for strategic and political influence — using economic clout to yield a strategic advantage. Beijing’s model is truly global: As one senior Western official put it, “They are putting their pieces all over the board.”[2] The model meets the needs of regional countries that are seeking to diversify their relationships in what they perceive as an increasingly multipolar world. These factors present a challenge as well as an opportunity for U.S. policy.

Mental Health on the Line (of Control)

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On February 25, 2021, India and Pakistan reaffirmed their commitment to a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and all other sectors. This brought immense relief to the border communities, as the preceding period was marked by a high level of cross-border violence. This violence has significantly harmed the mental health of the border communities over the past two decades. Given this, the current interval of peace should be utilized to develop and shore up the mental health resources in the border areas by overcoming the challenges pertaining to the lack of infrastructure, minimal access to available facilities, and lack of personnel.


The unrelenting nature of ceasefire violations (CFVs) from 2008 to 2021 has meant that the millions of people living along the border were affected and continue to be affected.

Every aspect of life, from education to employment to healthcare, was subject to interruptions. In contrast to the well-documented physical impact of casualties and fatalities to the civilians, the grave impact on the mental health of border communities is seldom focused upon.

Experts Explain: How will the metaverse change our lives?

Anna Bruce-Lockhart

We’ve all heard of the metaverse - an immersive virtual world that’s a digital twin of the real world - or a bit like ‘climbing into the internet’, depending on who you talk to. But how many of us know exactly how it works?

Despite the increasingly slick headsets, the hype and bold predictions, the real potential of the metaverse is not obvious.

To help us understand the technology, we talk to Stanford University’s Jeremy Bailenson. He’s been researching the metaverse and virtual reality for decades. He started Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab and co-founded the VR-focused tech company Strivr.

In this episode of Experts Explain, Bailenson paints a compelling picture of a virtual world where you can be any size, shape or gender you wish, where you can interact with 3D projections of real people and non-fungible objects, experience haptic sensations and have ‘intense experiences that solve hard problems’.

Global defence spending – strategic vs economic drivers

Fenella McGerty

Global defence spending contracted in real terms for the second consecutive year in 2022, even as a full-scale war raged in Ukraine and tensions rose in East Asia. Inflation presented a key challenge for policymakers and served to erode increases to defence spending that were implemented.

Data in the 2023 edition of The Military Balance indicates that although competing strategic drivers served to push defence spending upwards, economic challenges weighed on public-spending decisions. These included soaring rates of inflation, weaker currencies and ongoing supply-chain disruption.

In nominal terms, global defence spending has been on a strong upward trajectory over the last five years, increasing from a nominal USD1.7 trillion in 2017 to USD2.0tr in 2022. Until recently, the same could be said of defence spending in real terms, but this upward trend stalled in 2021 and 2022 owing to escalating inflation, leading to a widening delta between nominal and real spending. Using 2015 as the base year for real terms calculations, the difference came to USD101bn in 2020. This more than doubled to USD222bn in 2021 and increased again to USD312bn in 2022.

Indeed, since 2017, the cumulative impact of inflation on defence expenditure has wiped nearly USD850bn from the effective purchasing power of global defence investment, even as governments have seen their security challenges sharpen. Had inflation continued on the steady trajectory evident before 2021, the cumulative impact would have been much lower, closer to an estimated USD580bn.

The Psychology of Nuclear Brinkmanship

Reid Pauly

Conventional wisdom sees nuclear brinkmanship and Thomas Schelling’s pathbreaking “threat that leaves something to chance” as a solution to the problem of agency in coercion. If leaders cannot credibly threaten to start a nuclear war, perhaps they can at least introduce uncertainty by signaling that the decision is out of their hands. But human emotions can introduce chance into bargaining in ways that contradict the expectations of the rational cost-benefit assumptions that undergird deterrence theory.

Double Win: How Russian Oil Companies Defied Sanctions and Paid Less Tax

Sergey Vakulenko

Western sanctions and boycotts targeting Russian oil exports to Europe meant that transparency over their routes vanished not only for Western watchers, but for the Russian government too, which was too preoccupied to see that the state budget was being deprived of a substantial share of oil revenues.

Within a few months of Russia invading Ukraine, the fiscal machine that had for decades been the foundation of the Putin regime was broken: not by international sanctions and boycotts, but by people inside the Russian system—including figures close to President Vladimir Putin himself. The international oil price—meant to serve as an independent benchmark defining the base for half of all Russian state revenues—was being manipulated, and as in the 1990s, oil revenues were once again being transferred to the offshore arms of Russian oil companies.

With the launch of its war against Ukraine in February 2022, Russia became a pariah state—at least in the West—and began facing immediate difficulties in maintaining its exports of oil and oil products. Russia’s flagship Urals crude blend was sold at substantial discounts, and the published Urals price stayed persistently low during 2022. The macro picture suggests a story of principled buyers refusing to buy blood oil.

Trouble at the Roof of the World

Lisa Curtis and Derek Grossman

In recent years, the disputed border between China and India has become the site of growing tensions. Chinese encroachment has sparked clashes along the mostly rugged, mountainous border, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which threaten to lead to all-out conflict between the two Asian giants.

U.S. officials should take this possible flash point more seriously, mentioning it in every strategic document and speech relating to the Indo-Pacific.

These mounting tensions affect the United States and its Indo-Pacific strategy. Military hostilities between the two large, nuclear-armed countries risk escalating into a conflagration that could involve a third nuclear power: Pakistan. Such a widening conflict would be catastrophic for the region, though it now remains a remote prospect. More likely, border tensions will continue to simmer as China and India strengthen their military capabilities and build up infrastructure along the border. Washington should assist New Delhi in deterring further Chinese attempts to nibble away at Indian territory and be ready to respond quickly in case events spiral out of control.

Don’t just target terrorists — deny them safe havens


U.S. commandos raided a remote mountainous cave complex in northern Somalia on Jan. 25, killing a key facilitator for the Islamic State’s global network. The raid adds to a growing series of operations to capture or kill those involved in plotting transnational attacks. Over the past year, at least nine Islamic State leaders have been removed from the battlefield — two of whom were taken alive.

Targeting high-value individuals within the Islamic State weakens it, but raids and airstrikes won’t be enough to win this fight. The Islamic State has routinized its leadership succession to overcome rapid losses, which means the U.S. must refocus on denying terrorists the safe havens needed to recruit and plan for attacks.

Bilal al-Sudani (a.k.a., Suhayl Salim Abdul-Rahman) — the recent raid’s target — facilitated foreign fighter travel to Somalia since 2007 and even had networks that extended into South Africa. His specialized skill set generated support for Islamic State groups across Africa and funneled money through Yemen to Afghanistan. Essentially, Sudani made significant contributions to strengthening the Islamic State’s branches worldwide. Having matured, those branches will survive without such support.

Russia's Evolution Toward a Unified Strategic Operation

Clint Reach, Alyssa Demus, Michelle Grisé

For decades, the Russian military has been faced with the same problem: how to overcome the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) strategic depth in a time of strategic nuclear parity. In the late Soviet era, this was done by building up massive numbers of ground forces to overcome prepared defenses. In 2008, Russia drastically reduced its land forces in the hopes that long-range strike could compensate for a lack of mass on the ground in a regional war. Russian strategists have since focused on the ways and means through which Russia can conduct offensive actions throughout the entire depth of NATO without large numbers of ground forces.

As of 2021, Russia was still reliant to some degree on nonstrategic nuclear weapons (NSNW) for regional warfighting. Recent evidence suggests that Russian planning for regional war is trending toward a unified strategic operation. This notional concept is intended to more effectively organize and allocate Russia's conventional strike and nonkinetic attack capacity as it fills the role of Russian NSNW in regional war over the coming decades.

To understand why this trend is occurring, this report examined Russia's evolution toward a unified strategic operation and associated capability development, focusing on four areas: long-range conventional strikes against critical military and civilian targets; electronic warfare (EW) to disrupt NATO command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; counterspace actions; and cyberattacks against critical infrastructure.

Axis of Convenience: Why Iran’s Partnership With Russia Endures

Dina Esfandiary

In July 2022, as Russia’s offensive in Ukraine was sputtering and Moscow was running low on weapons, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan made a major announcement: Iran was providing or preparing to send Russia unmanned aerial vehicles. Tehran denied the accusation, but it quickly became apparent that Sullivan was correct. Between September and November, Russia bought hundreds of Iranian-made Shahed-136 kamikaze drones. Moscow then used these drones, which are small, simple, and hard to detect, to target Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure, helping knock out roughly half the country’s power. The drones also helped exhaust Ukrainian resources, allowing the Russians to preserve their own.

In a way, it made perfect sense for Iran to sell weapons to Russia. Iran and Russia are now both isolated from most of the world’s great powers, and so they need all the help they can get. Yet the degree of cooperation between Tehran and Moscow in Ukraine is remarkable in light of the two powers’ acrimonious past. There is no love lost between Russia and Iran, which have a tumultuous history of distrust and betrayal. They fought against each other in multiple wars. Russia meddled in domestic Iranian affairs. Even on geopolitical issues where they famously cooperate, such as the Syrian civil war, the two countries have frequently sparred.

The current relationship between Iran and Russia is still not exactly warm; it looks much more like a business partnership than a genuine friendship. But although a formal alliance between Iran and Russia is still a long way away, their cooperation could prove highly effective. The two sides have grown adept at compartmentalizing different facets of their relationship to ensure that they can partner when it suits them. Their ties span the economic, political, and military spheres. And both Iran and Russia have discovered that the other has much to offer. “We are both antisanctions and against the intervention of the West in the affairs of other countries,” a Iranian diplomat told me, speaking on the condition of anonymity. (The Iranian government has a fraught internal debate over just how close its ties to Moscow should be.) Their partnership, he said, “was only natural.”

Putin Is Angry: Russia Has Suffered 200,000 Dead Or Wounded In Ukraine

Stavros Atlamazoglou

It is no secret that Russian forces have taken heavy casualties in Ukraine. But the exact numbers have been up for debate, with each warring party and independent entity claiming a different figure.

Recently, U.S. officials came out with an assessment that the Russian forces have suffered around 200,000 killed and wounded troops.

Now, British Military Intelligence is corroborating those numbers in its latest operational update on the conflict.
Heavy Russian Casualties in Ukraine

The British Military Intelligence assesses that the Russian military and mercenary forces “have likely suffered” between 175,000 to 200,000 casualties since the start of the war on February 24.

These figures include between 40,000 to 60,000 troops killed in action.

Asia’s coming great demographic divide


The trend of Asian populations growing and moving to cities — providing cheap labor, demand for modern infrastructure and high economic growth — has reached a turning point with China now joining countries with shrinking populations in the region.

Still, the aging and shrinking countries of Northeast Asia are likely to continue to be Asia’s major powers for the foreseeable future but will link in new ways to Asia’s still-growing states.

Asia’s dominant economies — China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan — are together experiencing unprecedented rapid population aging. It was only in 1999 that any major country had ever reached a median age above 40, with Japan at 40.4.

Japan continued to have the highest median age in the world in 2021 at 48.4, and its neighbors are close behind. In contrast, the majority of the world’s population lives in poor countries with young median ages — including several Indo-Pacific states such as India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Putin Doesn’t Have a Plan to Win

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

The similarities between Saddam Hussein and Vladimir Putin deserve more notice than they often get, from their exceptionally brutal childhoods, to their knack for dutifully serving and then displacing mentors, to their imperial and historical dreams.

Their propensity, or that of anyone in their position really, for miscalculation also always seemed likely to become an important theme sooner or later.

Saddam’s final choice wasn’t a miscalculation, though. His adversaries in the George W. Bush administration demanded his sole nonnegotiable: relinquishing power. They were prepared even to send armored brigades to Baghdad to enforce their will.

Nothing like that has been required of Mr. Putin.

Russia’s emerging new offensive in Ukraine, explained by an expert

Michael Bluhm

The war in Ukraine may be entering a critical new phase with the launch of a major offensive by Vladimir Putin’s armies.

For weeks, reports from the ground have been spreading about an imminent Russian offensive, as Moscow shipped troops and materiel to Ukraine. And in the past few days, fighting has intensified, as Putin’s forces have launched a wave of attacks on the ground and in the air in the hope of breaking through Ukrainian lines.

What do we know about the offensive so far? What are Russia’s plans and goals? How strong are the countries’ respective militaries now? And what does this push from Russia mean as the war approaches its first anniversary?

To answer these questions and others, I spoke with Robert Hamilton, a research professor at the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute. Hamilton is a retired colonel and 30-year veteran of the US Army, and he now analyzes conflict and security issues in the former Soviet Union and the Balkans.

Who decided on the boundaries of the ‘Russian World’? A brief history of Donbas separatism

Story by Konstantin Skorkin. English-language version by Emily Laskin.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, but the armed conflict started eight years earlier when pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas tried, with Moscow’s support, to secede from the rest of the country. But the groundwork for the 2014 separatist movement and Donbas “self-determination” had, in fact, been laid decades before that, in the years surrounding the collapse of the Soviet Union. By the time the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) appeared in news headlines, Russian political forces had already spent years promoting the idea of the “Russian world” in the Donbas and sowing local distrust of Ukraine’s other regions. Putin used Donbas separatists as a pretext for the full-scale invasion, claiming they needed protection from Ukrainian nationalists, an idea that had been carefully prepared and disseminated by the Donbas separatists and the Russian authorities. Konstantin Skorkin, a researcher in Ukrainian politics, describes how these ideas were born in the Donbas, who set them in motion, why Russia co-opted them and what made the events of 2014 — and everything that followed — possible. This article is adapted from an issue of Kit, a newsletter from the creators of Meduza. You can subscribe to Kit (it’s in Russian) here.

Where does space begin? Chinese spy balloon highlights legal fuzziness of ‘near space’

Lauren Morello

The Chinese spy balloon the U.S. shot down earlier this month highlights a curious gap in international relations: There is no widely accepted definition of where a country’s sovereign airspace ends and space begins.

Whether and how that threshold is ever defined could change how craft like planes, balloons and drones operate in “near space,” which is a vast layer sandwiched between the altitudes where commercial jets fly and the lowest band of satellites orbit the Earth. Various legal treaties establish space as free for use by all, while international agreements and customary law give nations control over their own airspace.

What was once a philosophical debate about the concept of near space has become more relevant as countries develop and deploy more craft capable of operating in or passing through this zone, from an ever-growing number of commercial rockets to the uncrewed vehicles known as high-altitude pseudo-satellites.

“You’re not really supposed to fly over another country without their permission,” said Scott Anderson, a former U.S. diplomat who is now a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. “It’s worth noting that there’s no agreement around where the vertical limit of that is.” In the simplest terms, he added, “we know it stops somewhere short of outer space, because there’s a whole separate set of legal norms and treaties that govern outer space.”

Implementing NATO’s Strategic Concept on China

Hans Binnendijk and Daniel S. Hamilton

Set against the backdrop of Russia’s war on Ukraine, the June 2022 Madrid NATO Summit set the tone for the next decade of the Alliance’s shared future. Allies made it clear that they consider Russia their most immediate and direct threat. Yet they also made headlines by addressing challenges emanating from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Allies laid out actions to be taken across the diplomatic, economic, and military spheres. Now the Alliance must implement those responses. Beijing will be watching closely.
I. China in transatlantic security relations

During much of the past decade, the United States and its NATO allies had diverse perspectives on the nature of the Chinese challenge. Many European countries relied heavily on trade with China and on Chinese investment, neglecting the dependencies and Chinese opportunities for coercion that those economic ties created. Most had no security obligations in Asia. The United States, on the other hand, had defense commitments to several Asian allies, which gave Washington a more complicated assessment of China’s challenges. Those differences were amplified by US President Donald Trump’s “America First” economic warfare with China.

It took Chinese behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic, human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, Chinese diplomatic and economic coercion in Europe, and enhanced Chinese security ties with Russia to generate a higher degree of transatlantic cohesion on the nature of the China challenge. NATO’s ability to address traditional and unconventional threats in Europe became intertwined with related challenges to Alliance security interests posed by China.1 These challenges include the following:

Russian War Report: DFRLab confirms Russia’s push to encircle Bakhmut

Valentin Châtelet, Ruslan Trad, Kateryna Halstead, and Nika Aleksejeva

As Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) is keeping a close eye on Russia’s movements across the military, cyber, and information domains. With more than seven years of experience monitoring the situation in Ukraine—as well as Russia’s use of propaganda and disinformation to undermine the United States, NATO, and the European Union—the DFRLab’s global team presents the latest installment of the Russian War Report.


Wagner forces attempt to encircle Bakhmut and cut off vital Ukrainian supply routes

After gaining control over Soledar in mid-January, Wagner Group soldiers are attempting to encircle Bakhmut. The DFRLab confirmed the progression of a bloc of forces that includes Wagner, the People’s Militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic, and Russian armed forces. At the end of January, Wagner shared a photo of its soldiers standing in front of a sign reading “Blahodatne” as evidence they had seized the village of the same name. On February 7, the Russian MoD also stated that it had seized Blahodatne. The small village is strategically located on the key Ukrainian E40 highway, which serves as a supply route to Krasna Hora and Bakhmut. A photo of a burning Russian tank geolocated by OSINT researcher @Neonhandrail suggests that attempts to cut off the supply route have thus far been unsuccessful.

SpaceX admits blocking Ukrainian troops from using satellite technology

Alex Marquardt and Kristin Fisher

(CNN)The president of SpaceX revealed the company has taken active steps to prevent Ukrainian forces from using the critical Starlink satellite technology with Ukrainian drones that are a key component of their fight against Russia.

"There are things that we can do to limit their ability to do that," Gwynne Shotwell told reporters on Wednesday, referencing reports on Starlink and drone use. "There are things that we can do, and have done."

Starlink was never meant to be used militarily in the way that it has, Shotwell argued, saying the company didn't foresee how profoundly -- and creatively -- Ukrainian forces would rely on the technology.

"It was never intended to be weaponized," Shotwell told an audience at a space conference. "However, Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were unintentional and not part of any agreement."

Shotwell's admission that SpaceX, which was founded by Elon Musk, has prevented Ukrainian soldiers from fully using the technology confirms the long-standing belief that Musk and the company are uneasy with Ukraine's military use of Starlink.

100 Useful Chat GPT Prompts To Boost Creativity and Productivity

Chatbots have become integral to our daily lives, providing quick and easy access to information and assistance.

One of the most advanced chatbot technologies is GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), which uses deep learning algorithms to understand and respond to natural language inputs. This article will explore 100 workable GPT prompts that can help increase creativity and productivity in your everyday life.

These prompts will show how ChatGPT can help you streamline your daily routine and achieve your goals, from simple reminders to complex task management. So, let’s dive in and discover the endless possibilities of GPT!

100 Useful Chat GPT Prompts to Boost Your Creativity and ProductivityHow to create a website: Whether you’re building a personal blog or a business website, ChatGPT can help you with the technical aspects of website development, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript coding.

Stop Holding Recruits to One-Size-Fits-All Standards


If the U.S. military is to attract highly tech-skilled recruits for modern warfare, its recruiting philosophies must evolve. “We need data scientists, coders and engineers as much as we need pilots, submariners and infantry,” the secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. But they are still recruiting under the old vision that every soldier needs to have the physical abilities of a frontline infantryman.

The services need to let go of this antiquated requirement; they must also consider what billets can be better filled by Defense Department civilians.

What does the force actually need?

The all-volunteer force of the last 50 years has been able to be selective and set stringent, uniform requirements. There are clear needs for some of these. Pilots must have good eyesight, sailors must be physically able to perform damage control, and so on. However, many of these requirements are more culturally imbued, and limit eligibility to serve. Recent articles have highlighted that only 23% of Americans meet the minimum eligibility requirements to serve due to poor physical fitness, medical disqualification, education, and criminal history. Initiatives to increase the pool of availability are underway across each service. The Air Force and Space Force are allowing waivers for candidates who test positive for THC. The Army’s Future Soldiers Program provides opportunities to those who would not pass the physical or educational requirements. And the Navy raised the maximum enlistment age to 41 years old and is accepting lower scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. The above initiatives by each service are meant to expand that 23% eligibility, but they are still recruiting along the same uniform standards for frontline warfighting jobs. A soldier who was not academically qualified to serve isn’t going to be filling one of the data-scientist roles the Secretaries mentioned. These initiatives may eventually fill recruiters’ quotas, but they won’t answer the services’ critical needs.

Chapter 1: The Shadow of War

James Hackett

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 is reshaping the security environment in Europe and has ramifications elsewhere. The scale of Moscow’s miscalculation is apparent nearly a year on, but at the outset it was not clear that Russia would face such difficulty. One of the preliminary lessons offered by the war – beyond those for the belligerents – is that defence and intelligence specialists need to sharpen focus on methodologies important to the assessment of military capabilities, and in this case revise how they evaluate Russia’s armed forces. Other early take-aways include those related to the importance of aspects of military capability such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), longer range artillery and better targeting, and the importance of training and morale. Yet more concern resilience, both civil and military. Meanwhile, although the United States has led international military support for Ukraine, and Washington perceives Russia as the immediate threat, its longer-term focus remains what it views as the challenge from China. Beijing continues to modernise its armed forces at pace. Russia’s war also offers lessons for the US armed forces and its defence industry, both for its involvement in Europe, but also in possible contingencies elsewhere, including in Asia.