1 March 2023

Why The Wheels Are Coming Off Pakistan’s Economy

Richa Gandhi

A perfect storm of adverse economic conditions threatens to bring Pakistan to its knees. Hoping to avoid the kind of crisis that hit Sri Lanka recently, it has reached out to the IMF for a bailout. Richa Gandhi delves into the factors that led to this situation

Dwindling Forex Reserves

The immediate worry for Pakistan is finding enough dollars to fund its imports of oil and other essential items. Amid the double whammy of pandemic-related disruptions and the Ukraine war it is faced with what is called a balance of payments crisis. With earnings from foreign trade choked, the country has been draining its reserve of dollars to make international purchases. The State Bank of Pakistan reported in January that the country’s foreign exchange reserves were at a 10-year low of $3.1 billion, meaning money was available for just a few weeks of purchases. Pakistan runs the risk of defaulting on its debt repayment obligations, which would severely impact its ability to raise further loans internationally.

The West Lives On in the Taliban’s Afghanistan

It was almost midnight in Kabul. I was in a Turkish-style café on the top floor of Afghanistan’s only shopping mall with a few young Afghans, waiting for green tea and rice pudding. My Afghan friends were chatting loudly, in a fluid blend of Pashto and English. I, only half-understanding them, was puffing away at a cigarette while I watched Terminator: Dark Fate subtitled in Persian on the television above us. A few tables away, some Talibs were talking quietly and occasionally glancing over at the other patrons smoking hookah and thumbing their phones.

I glanced at Google Maps to see just where we were. We were in the heart of Kabul, in the area once reserved for government elites and foreign diplomats, and thus with the highest concentration of hotels, restaurants, and government offices. Next to the mall was the office of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, now shuttered. The new Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, charged with ensuring compliance with Taliban social regulations, had claimed the building. Half a mile away was the house where the leader of al-Qaeda had been pulverized by an American drone strike a few months before I arrived; Google still marked it as the “Ayman al-Zawahiri Residence.”

Our rice pudding arrived and I looked out the window. In the daytime, Kabul is anything but pretty: millions of people—no one really knows just how many—arranged chaotically in dense and disordered enclaves, sprawling endlessly, with beige hovels nestled into the mountains that ring the city. But at night, the hills of Kabul can be surprisingly beautiful, unfolding endlessly, sparkling with the lights of amusement parks and Indian-style wedding halls, curiously reminiscent of Los Angeles.

China Crosses "Red Line" Advancing Russia's War Effort

Judith Bergman

It has been known for quite a while that China has been undercutting Western sanctions against Russia.... and in their own national currencies. When, however, it was recently reported that "China is providing technology that Moscow's military needs," including "navigation equipment, jamming technology and jet-fighter parts," the move seemed to take the Biden administration by surprise.

China has already supplied significant military aid in the form of dual-use products that have both civil and military uses, including semiconductors used in a wide variety of weapons including fighter jets, helicopters, drones and guided missiles.

US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield was even more explicit: If China provided lethal military aid to Russia, she said, it would cross a "red line."

It is highly questionable at this stage whether the Chinese will pay any heed to Blinken's or Thomas-Greenfield's warnings: In March 2022, the Biden administration delivered similarly worded threats to China -- that helping Russia evade sanctions would lead to "consequences." China did exactly that; a year later, "consequences" have yet to be seen.

These revelations are not only an embarrassment for the Biden administration -- which should have known and acted upon them long ago -- but also serve as yet another black hole in the ability of the United States to deter adversaries.

Beijing’s top diplomat in Hong Kong lays down ‘3 red lines’ for America’s local envoy, prompting defiant consulate response

Lilian Cheng

Beijing’s foreign affairs representative in Hong Kong has drawn three red lines for the United States’ local top diplomat that included a warning not to endanger national security, prompting the consulate to issue a defiant statement saying it would continue to express its concerns over the “erosion” of the city’s high degree of autonomy.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office in Hong Kong on Thursday said Commissioner Liu Guangyuan met US Consul General Gregory May to “lodge solemn representations and express strong disapproval” over his mission’s “inappropriate words and deeds” that interfered in local affairs.

The private meeting took place early this week, according to a diplomatic source.

“Liu urged the [consul general] to abide by diplomatic ethics and not to go further down the wrong path,” a ministry office spokesman said. “[He] also drew three red lines for US consul general and US consulate general in Hong Kong, which is not to endanger China’s national security, not to engage in political infiltration in Hong Kong and not to slander or damage Hong Kong’s development prospect.”

Wang Yi’s fruitless diplomacy in Europe


China has begun a diplomatic “charm offensive”, a seeming shift from the aggressive “wolf warrior” tone of recent years. Last month, Vice Premier Liu He travelled to Davos for the World Economic Forum to declare to world economic leaders that “foreign investments are welcome in China, and the door to China will only open up further”.

Now Wang Yi, member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee and Director of China’s Foreign Affairs Commission is in the midst of a concerted diplomatic foray through Europe. With an itinerary including attendance at the Munich Security Conference and visits to Paris, Rome, Budapest and Moscow, Wang’s objective is to reinvigorate both economic ties and diplomatic relations with Europe as China’s relations with the United States continue to deteriorate and the country seeks to break out of its Covid-zero-induced economic slowdown.

Wang’s chances appear fruitless due to both the atmospherics surrounding his tour and Beijing’s inability (or unwillingness) to see how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reshaped European security perceptions.

The ongoing fall-out from the Chinese surveillance balloon controversy and the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in particular, have placed many European capitals in a bind vis-à-vis their relations with Beijing. China’s ongoing refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion and claims (as yet unsubstantiated) by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that China may soon provide “lethal aid” to Russia in the form of arms and ammunition has made for awkward balancing acts by a number of European capitals, such as Paris and Berlin, that have been keen to reengage economically and diplomatically with Beijing.

Is China at the Forefront of Drone Technology?

Over the last two decades, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become increasingly embedded in militaries around the world. The duties of these systems range from strikes against insurgents in conflict zones to surveillance gathering in support of multilateral disaster relief operations. The commercial sector also relies on unmanned platforms for a variety of services, including aerial photography, crop monitoring, and infrastructure inspection. Amid its ongoing economic development and military modernization, China has emerged as one of a handful of global leaders in the development of unmanned systems. As China continues to advance its UAV technology, it is poised to play a dominant role in shaping industry trends.

How Microchips Migrate From China to Russia

Nathaniel Taplin

The U.S. invented microchips and it has threatened sanctions on anyone who sells many, if not most, varieties to Russia. Still, recent leaks—and some publicly available data—make clear that they keep showing up on Russian shores. At the center of the trade is China and, allegedly, a few other intermediary countries such as Turkey.

The adaptability of global trade networks in response to sanctions and tariffs isn’t a new story: For another recent example, look no further than global energy markets, which have adapted with remarkable speed to the West’s decision to wean itself off Russian energy. But stemming the flow of semiconductors—which power both everyday appliances and military equipment—into Russia presents a particularly tough problem.

One key reason is that China, which has refused to join Western sanctions on Russia, sits at the center of the global chip trade. It is the world’s electronics factory floor and the largest global importer of chips, as well as a significant manufacturer of low-end chips itself. Its publicly available export statistics also omit comprehensive information on overseas business partners.

HNA Was Once China’s Biggest Dealmaker. Now It Faces Bankruptcy.

Alexandra Stevenson

HONG KONG — Its lenders are pushing for bankruptcy. Its chairman and co-founder has been quietly stripped of power. Nearly $10 billion of its money has been embezzled.

HNA Group, the vast Chinese conglomerate that threw tens of billions of dollars at trophy businesses around the world, is nearing the biggest corporate collapse in recent Chinese history. Its dismantling is an extraordinary turn of events for the company that began as a regional airline in China’s southern province of Hainan and grew to own large stakes in Hilton Hotels, Deutsche Bank, Virgin Australia and others. At its height, HNA employed 400,000 people around the world.

For China’s leadership, HNA is now a cautionary tale. Its story offers a glimpse of how Beijing treats its most powerful entrepreneurs. China has been taking a firmer grip on the economy, and regulators have recently circled in on another empire — that of China’s most famous billionaire, Jack Ma.

“It’s a sharp reminder to China’s private sector and big highflying companies and executives that you’re never more important than the Communist Party,” said Jude Blanchette, a China scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The reining in of big corporations is not exactly central planning, but it’s certainly putting guardrails on corporate behavior to make sure that they are heading in the right direction.”

The BRI in Kazakhstan: The Chinese Dream with Kazakh Characteristics?

Antonios Vitalis

The unprecedented rise of China politically and economically in the last decade especially seen through its announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative in Astana, Kazakhstan, has understandably elicited significant alarm and apprehension within the Western community (Bank, 2018; Brautigam, 2020; Bolton, 2017). This is no less the case with scholars within the domain of IR. Indeed, curiosity, fascination, and interest in understanding the motivations and consequences of China’s rise have merit. Certainly, when Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s rhetoric declares that once “all roads” led to Rome but that “today, they lead to Beijing,” the lifespan of the contemporary Western liberal order would appear to be under threat (Frankopan, 2018; Beeson, 2018; Kumar, 2021). The extensive nature of transit and economic networks, along with substantial infrastructure projects driven by the BRI as far as Latin America and Africa, let alone its recent forays into Eastern Europe, portrays, for some observers, “unmistakable imperial overtones” beckoning the growing reality that Sino-centric world order is imminent (Kumar, 2021, p. 3; Yu, 2019; Callahan, 2016).

Are concerns regarding China’s ambition and dream of establishing a Sino-centric world order through the implementation and realisation of the BRI justified? Does the BRI reflect an extension of a Chinese Grand Strategy acting as an instrument of Chinese geoeconomic might? Though these questions are wide-ranging in scope and focus, this paper offers insight, however remote, into whether the BRI achieves the aims and objectives of China’s Dream and Grand Strategy — and the implications it has on China’s BRI partners (Pröpper, 2020; Winter, 2019; Cai, 2018). It does so in a manner that dispels the paradigmatic constraints of singular theoretical IR analysis by incorporating analytic eclecticism as the applied framework (Friedrichs, 2009; Garlick, 2020a). It is from this framework that this research advances its enquiry.

US foreign policy: China is important but the top priority is stopping Russia

Richard D. Hooker, Jr.

A significant part of America’s foreign policy establishment, in both the executive and legislative branches as well as the think tank community, embraces a “China First” perspective that argues against prioritizing the war in Ukraine and, more broadly, NATO and Europe. National Security and National Defense strategies describe China as the “pacing” threat, while many argue that US foreign policy and national security priorities should be focused squarely on the Indo-Pacific, leaving “free-loading” Europeans to largely fend for themselves.

This thinking is influenced in part by the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia, but also by the Trump administration’s severe criticism of NATO and the EU, and by former Obama administration officials now serving in the Biden administration. In fact, NATO and Europe remain essential to US prosperity and security, while success in Ukraine is inextricably tied to a stable international order. China must surely be a high priority. But the transatlantic relationship is just as important.

From a national security perspective, the need to deter and contain Russia remains paramount. Russia retains by far the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and often threatens to use it. Unlike China, Russia is engaged in active hostilities against democratic states that directly threaten the global economy, international trade, energy prices, and global food security.

Russian war sanctions show why U.S. must rethink its strategies

Brahma Chellaney

The flight of a Chinese reconnaissance balloon across the continental U.S. for several days before it was shot down has put into stark relief the fact that a rising China, not a declining Russia, poses the biggest threat to America.

Indeed, a number of observers believe that the biggest beneficiary of Western sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine has been Beijing, not Kyiv. This reminder of sanctions’ side effects should be moving Washington to rethink its approach, rather than relying ever more heavily on trade penalties.

Sanctions have long been a favorite foreign policy tool of the White House and the U.S. Congress, even though they rarely change the behavior of targeted countries. But with the relative decline of American power, the efficacy of sanctions has been noticeably eroding.

The unprecedented American-led sanctions against Moscow have had a global impact without reining in the Kremlin’s war machine or pushing Russian President Vladimir Putin to the negotiating table. At the same time, they are helping China to advance its economic and strategic interests.

Putin Should Have Known His Invasion Would Fail

David V. Gioe and Marina Miron

Putin got his Ukraine assessment so wrong for two primary reasons, as an article co-written by one of us recently showed in detail. First, Putin’s distorted views of Ukraine’s viability and legitimacy as an independent nation state beyond Russia interfered with his ability to consider dissenting perspectives. And second, Putin sits atop an intelligence and policy machinery that tells him only what he wants to hear. Russian intelligence and security services are clear that the path to success is giving the boss assessments that mirror his own.

Underscored by such sycophancy masquerading as intelligence, Putin’s invasion was thus predicated on a theory that a lightening drive toward Kyiv to topple the Zelensky government would enable the Ukrainian people to free themselves from the West’s decadent temptations and dutifully—if not gleefully—return to the fraternal embrace of imperial Russia.

But what could Putin have known if he had bothered to look? Quite a lot, including publicly available polling from researchers in Ukraine in addition to a secret survey conducted at the behest of his own security services. But institutional habits and Putin’s own blinkered view prevented him from taking the totality of such sentiments from Ukraine seriously. Russian leaders (and their intelligence services) have a long history of prizing ideology over understanding and dismissing publicly available information. It must not be worth knowing if it isn’t stamped “secret” or purloined by a secret agent. As a popular idiom in Russia goes, “The only free cheese is in a mousetrap.”

This belief led Putin’s intelligence agencies, especially the Federal Security Service (FSB) and military intelligence service GU (formerly GRU), to dismiss or ignore the wealth of publicly available useful information upon which to base a strategic assessment about Ukrainian views. For instance, a 2021 study conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in conjunction with the Moscow-based Levada Center showed that, as of November 2021, 41 percent of Ukrainians had a “mostly good” to “very good” attitude toward Russia, whereas 42 percent had a “mostly bad” to “very bad” attitude toward Russia—and those attitudes toward Russia were getting worse.

Russia’s information war against Ukraine went stealth after Meta crackdown


Initially one of the most prolific purveyors of information operations on Facebook, Russian operatives have during the course of the war in Ukraine found themselves taking a “smash-and-grab” approach to gain influence online, substituting quality with quantity.

The new assessment of Russian influence operations comes from data that Meta, Facebook’s parent company, released Thursday just as the war in Ukraine nears its one-year anniversary. Similarly, data out this week from other social media researchers concludes that Russian state-sponsored media influence operations aren’t as potent as they once were.

Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Meta, described the newer, more covert operations as a “‘throw the spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks’ approach.” Instead of slowly building up an audience, influence operatives are now flooding the platform with low-quality accounts hoping some evaded Meta’s detection.

The dog that didn’t bark? – Cranfield cyber experts reflect on the war in Ukraine

Dr Danny Steed, Lecturer in Cyber Security and Robert Black, Lecturer in Information Activities at Cranfield University, comment on the role that cyber warfare has played in the Ukraine conflict so far:

On the lead up to the 2022 invasion

Dr Steed said: “As outlined in my comments when the invasion last year first took place, that Russia has long been experimenting with offensive cyber means. We saw it in Estonia in 2007, Georgia in 2008, and have seen it in Ukraine since 2014.

“The first big sign for cyberattacks was the BlackEnergy attack on Ukrainian power stations in December 2015. From that point, Ukraine became Russia’s experiment lab for cyber warfare. The clearest affirmation of this was the NotPetya ransomware attack in 2017, which cost more than $10 billion to corporations worldwide but was above all an attack on Ukraine.”

Rob Black added: “This also shows another lesson for cyber war. Cyberattacks cause collateral that is not likely to be bounded by the physical and geographical dimensions of a traditional conflict. NotPetya had a global impact; Maersk shipping had its global IT system completely destroyed. The Viasat attack at the start of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in 2022 also disrupted other organisations with no direct link to the conflict area, such as a wind turbine operator in Germany.”

How Telegram became the battlefront of the Russia-Ukraine cyberwar

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, many warned that the conflict could escalate into a global cyberwar. These fears intensified as ransomware gangs and hacking groups sympathetic to the Russian government appeared ready to strike. A self-styled IT Army allied with Ukraine declared a counter-offensive. Governments — and companies — around the world are prepared for widespread digital incursions. Yet, for all their bluster, these groups failed to impact the ground campaign significantly.

Instead, the war’s digital presence manifested in other ways. A year after the war began, Cybersixgill investigated how the war echoed on the deep and dark web, the context of hybrid conflict, and how cybercriminals kept business humming.

Telegram has been the central deep web venue for the war. Many conversations about the war occurred on large, existing cybercrime channels, and the invasion spawned many new channels.

Chatter on Telegram tended to follow events in the war. War-related posts in Russian or Ukrainian peaked at over 122,000 per week in mid-October, coinciding with the strike against the Crimean bridge and subsequent Russian missile attacks.

Is the U.S. Military Capable of Learning From the War in Ukraine?

Raphael S. Cohen and Gian Gentile

At its core, a country’s defense strategy is a very expensive gamble. Every year, the United States spends hundreds of billions of dollars on defense—all on the assumption that such investments will allow it to win the next war. Absent a conflict in which the United States is directly involved, policymakers rarely get a window into whether these bets have actually paid off. One window is when other countries fight a war using U.S. military equipment and tactics—such as the one in Ukraine today. Another example is the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, also known as the Yom Kippur War, when Israel’s near-defeat prompted a thorough reexamination of U.S. weapons and tactics in Washington. Today, Russia’s war once again poses the question whether the United States needs to reexamine the way it prepares for future conflict: not only which weapons it buys, but also how it envisions great-power wars in the 21st century—whether they will be short, sharp affairs or grinding, protracted struggles.

When, in 1973, the United States last had a window into the future of conflict without fighting in one, Israel was caught flat-footed by the surprise attack of an Egyptian-Syrian-led coalition. Although Israel prevailed in the end, the war was a debacle for the Jewish state. Despite having a seasoned military leadership with decades of collective combat experience—and being equipped with U.S. weaponry—Israel lost more than 800 armored vehicles and 100 attack aircraft. Just six years after Israel stunned the world by quickly crushing a combined Arab army during the Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War stood in stark contrast: It dragged on for weeks, required emergency U.S. assistance to backfill equipment losses, and brought Israel uncomfortably close to defeat.

Russia Engages With Ukraine on Cyber Battlefield


Cyber activity will ramp up more before a physical war since it is being used as a tool in an attempt to disrupt and weaken countries.

Ukraine and several other countries, including NATO bore the brunt of the myriad of cyber attacks from Russia, Zac Warren, chief security advisor of EMEA at Tanium, a Kirkland, Wash.-based provider of converged endpoint management, told TheStreet.

"We need to understand that, moving forward, we’re going to be seeing more cyber activity as preemptive activity to physical war," he said.

Ukraine battled hackers last year while fighting Russia when its troops attacked major cities.

Cyber warfare is used as a strategy to "weaken a target before moving in," Warren said.

Hackers are targeting critical infrastructure of a nation such as its power grid, utilities and hospitals.

"There is a great deal of critical infrastructure that could be easily taken out or slowed down by a cyberattack," he said. "The conflict in Ukraine demonstrated that cyber is now the starting point for modern warfare and it’s high time we prepare for the realities of future conflict."

Fragile States Provide Extremists Fertile Ground to Recruit and Grow

Mona Yacoubian

How important is state fragility — as compared to, say, ideology — when it comes to enabling terrorism?

I think it’s difficult to assign a relative measure of importance or significance when comparing state fragility to ideology or other drivers of terrorism. Terrorism arises from a web of causal factors that interact with each other to contribute to the phenomenon.

Several years ago, my colleague Paul Stares and I developed what we called an “epidemic model” to help understand the spread of violent extremism. We concluded that terrorism does not arise in a vacuum. Ideology was a factor, but far from the only one.

State fragility certainly has a key role to play in facilitating the spread of extremism. Time and again and across disparate regions of the world, we’ve seen where corruption, repression, poor governance, inadequate public services and a lack of accountability contribute to the rise of extremism and recruitment into terrorist groups.

In 2019, the U.S. Institute of Peace published an in-depth report detailing the connection between fragility and extremism and recommended a strategy focused on prevention of extremism in fragile states through a multifaceted approach that highlights the need for inclusive institutions, accountable governments and broad civic participation.
Operationally, how do terrorist organizations benefit from fragile states?

India, China may have prevented Russia from nuking Ukraine, says US

By India Today World Desk: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russian President Vladimir Putin might have already used nuclear weapons on Ukraine, to end the war, if not for India and China.

Blinken, ahead of his visit to India for the G20 summit, credited India and China for having “a little bit more influence with Russia these days” in opposing the use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield.

In an interview to The Atlantic, Blinken said, "Putin might react more, even more irrationally, and there was language coming out of Moscow that suggested that he would look to the use of tactical nuclear weapons. It was a concern."

"We urged, and I think successfully, other countries that might have a little bit more influence with Russia these days, like China, but also other countries like India, to engage him [Vladimir Putin] directly about their absolute opposition to any use of nuclear weapons. And we know that they conveyed those messages, and I think that had some effect," he added.

China May Give ‘Lethal Support’ to Russia. Here’s What Those Weapons Might Be


Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reported this weekend that China could be on the verge of providing “lethal” support to Russia. In comments to CBS, Blinken said that such aid would cause a “very serious problem” between the U.S. and China. If China provided arms, it would still not overcome serious problems in the Russian military, and Beijing would directly position itself as an adversary of the West.

“Lethal Support”

Secretary Blinken, appearing on Face the Nation, charged that China has already provided “non-lethal support” to Russia for use in Ukraine. The aid was provided by Chinese companies, but as Blinken noted, “there’s really no distinction between private companies and the state.”

Blinken also stated, “the concern that we have now is based on information we have that they’re considering providing lethal support.”

It’s Time to Rethink the Idea of the “Indigenous”

Identity evolves. Social categories shrink or expand, become stiffer or more elastic, more specific or more abstract. What it means to be white or Black, Indian or American, able-bodied or not shifts as we tussle over language, as new groups take on those labels and others strip them away.

On August 3, 1989, the Indigenous identity evolved. Moringe ole Parkipuny, a Maasai activist and a former member of the Tanzanian Parliament, spoke before the U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Populations, in Geneva—the first African ever to do so. “Our cultures and way of life are viewed as outmoded, inimical to national pride, and a hindrance to progress,” he said. As a result, pastoralists like the Maasai, along with hunter-gatherers, “suffer from common problems which characterize the plight of indigenous peoples throughout the world. The most fundamental rights to maintain our specific cultural identity and the land that constitutes the foundation of our existence as a people are not respected by the state and fellow citizens who belong to the mainstream population.”

Parkipuny’s speech was the culmination of an astonishing ascent. Born in a remote village near Tanzania’s Rift Valley, he attended school after British authorities demanded that each family “contribute” a son to be educated. His grandfather urged him to flunk out, but he refused. “I already had a sense of how Maasai were being treated,” he told the anthropologist Dorothy Hodgson in 2005. “I decided I must go on.” He eventually earned an M.A. in development studies from the University of Dar es Salaam.

Opinion – What a Stronger Japanese Military Posture Means for Okinawa

Carmina Yu Untalan

Fumio Kishida’s premiership marks a significant development for Japan’s military posture. On 16 December 2022, the Japanese government released a revised National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy and Defense Buildup Program. A week later, the Prime Minister unveiled unprecedented military spending targets, raising this year’s budget by 26.3 percent (6.82 trillion yen or $51.4 billion). Japan’s revised defense outlook also aims to meet NATO standards of allocating 2 percent of the country’s GDP by 2027, which will make it the third largest military budget next to the US and China. The abrupt changes toward strengthening Japan’s military posture signals the country’s readiness to face the changing regional and global security environment, particularly the perceived tripartite threat from China, North Korea and Russia.

As expected, the Biden Administration, which pledged to straighten out Trump’s erratic relations with its Indo-Pacific allies, welcomed Japan’s proactive defense policy. In the 2023 Kishida-Biden statement, the long-term allies reiterated their commitment to the Japan-US Alliance and to defending the international rules-based order. As both sides celebrate these developments, neither seems willing to confront the elephant in the room: what about Okinawa?

How Ukraine’s Trains Kept Running Despite Bombs, Blackouts, and Biden

TWO DAYS AFTER Russian troops retreated from Kherson on November 11, Ukraine Railways CEO Alexander Kamyshin arrived in the city accompanied by Ukrainian special forces and a small team of railway workers. They reached the central train station even before the regular army arrived to secure the city, and got to work. Six days later, the first train from Kyiv rolled into liberated Kherson.

“It was a magic day,” Kamyshin says. “We saw the faces of the people seeing the train, crying, waving their hands. Trust me, it was unforgettable. That’s one of the days to remember forever.”

Since Russia began an intense assault on Ukraine a year ago today, Kamyshin and his colleagues have worked ceaselessly to keep Ukraine’s trains running. They’ve moved 4 million refugees and more than 330,000 metric tons of humanitarian aid, sending trains right up to—and sometimes beyond—the front lines of the conflict. With air travel all but impossible, Ukraine Railways has brought at least 300 foreign delegations into Kyiv in a program it calls “iron diplomacy.” Earlier this week, a train dubbed “Rail Force One” secretly carried US president Joe Biden to the Ukrainian capital for a symbolic visit.

All that work has taken place under near constant attack. “[The Russians shell] tracks, stations, bridges, power stations, cranes, they shell everything,” Kamyshin says. “Two hundred and fifty people died, 800 people injured. That’s only railwaymen and women. That’s the price we paid in this war.”

UK military intelligence team wins Western Europe’s ‘largest cyber warfare exercise’ held in Estonia

Alexander Martin

A team from British military intelligence placed first at a cyber warfare exercise described as “Western Europe’s largest” hosted at the CR14 cyber range in Estonia, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced this week.

The exercise, titled Defence Cyber Marvel 2 (DCM2), was organized by the British Army and featured 34 teams from 11 countries, including the United Kingdom, India, Italy, Ghana, Japan, the U.S., Ukraine, Kenya, and Oman. It concluded on February 17th.

The specific tasks the teams had to take on were not disclosed, however the MoD described a seven-day competition in which participants responded to “common and complex simulated cyber threats including attacks to networks, industry control systems and unmanned robotic systems.”

The challenges were “simulating some of the tactics Russia used to disrupt Ukrainian cyberspace in the early days of the invasion one year ago,” the MoD stated.

It took place at the CR14 in Tallinn — the digital equivalent of a traditional military shooting range. The Estonian Ministry of Defence described the range when it opened in 2019 as “a system capable of imitating the functioning of a complex computer network and providing the opportunity to practice various cyber operations without endangering regular computer networks.”

One year of Russia’s cyberwar in Ukraine: what we have learned

Gintaras Radauskas

Moscow was thought to be a superpower in cyber warfare, but Russia hasn’t been able to hit Ukraine’s networks as hard as it has been doing by kinetic means this past year. Cybernews went looking for an explanation.

One year after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, some analysts say it’s quite clear Moscow hasn’t accomplished much.

Yes, the invading forces and the incoming missiles have destroyed thousands of military and civilian lives, while Russia continues to occupy much of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region and the southern coast.

However, as US president Joe Biden noted on a surprise visit to Ukraine’s capital city this week: “Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.” The country is very much functioning and continues to resist the invaders, who some analysts say have lost tens of thousands of troops.

Russia’s efforts, or lack of, in cyberspace have surprised many as well – Moscow’s cyberattacks do occur, but they have not had the intended impact. Ukrainians freely access the internet, where important battles for the hearts and minds of Western decision makers and voters are taking place.

11 Countries Take Part in Military Cyberwarfare Exercise

Eduard Kovacs

Countries such as the US, UK, Japan, India, Italy, Estonia, Ukraine, Ghana, Kenya and Oman were represented by 750 experts at the Defence Cyber Marvel 2 (DCM2) exercise. Many of them participated remotely.

The seven-day event, led by the British Army, tested the response of participants to common and complex cyber scenarios, including attacks on networks and industrial control systems (ICS).

One scenario simulated in NATO’s CR154 cyber range involved attacks on uncrewed robotic systems, a tactic used by Russia to disrupt Ukrainian cyberspace in the early days of its invasion.

The participating teams competed against each other and were judged based on their speed in identifying and responding to cyber threats. A team from Italy was declared the winner, followed by teams representing Estonia and the UK.

In Pursuit of a General Theory of Proxy Warfare

Major Amos C. Fox, U.S. Army


Buried deep in Carl von Clausewitz’s On War is the Prussian general’s ruminations on the differences that exist between limited and total war. Clausewitz argues, “We can thus only say that the aims a belligerent adopts, and the resources he employs, must be governed by the particular characteristics of his own position; but they will also conform to the spirit of the age and to its general character.”1 The astute scholar of war should pause at this statement and ponder what it means for both contemporary and future war. Specifically, what are the peculiarities of modern war, and what are the divergent effects of those idiosyncrasies?



Based on combatant commander (CCDR) assessments of their limited ability to compete successfully in strategic competition, at a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Tank on 19 June 2020, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) directed the development of a joint concept for competition to drive joint strategic planning and joint force development and design. The Joint Concept for Competing (JCC) advances an intellectual paradigm shift to enable the Joint Force, in conjunction with interagency, multinational, and other interorganizational partners, to engage successfully in strategic competition. For the purposes of this concept, strategic competition is a persistent and long-term struggle that occurs between two or more adversaries seeking to pursue incompatible interests without necessarily engaging in armed conflict with each other. The normal and peaceful competition among allies, strategic partners, and other international actors who are not potentially hostile is outside the scope of this concept.

What Really Happens to Military Pilots That Defect to America


One of the most memorable scenes from the 1990 film The Hunt For Red October is when the first officer of the submarine Red October, played by Sam Neill, describes how he would like to live as a defector. “I would like to live in Montana,” Captain Borodin says, who then goes on to describe how he would like to marry, own a pickup truck, maybe an RV, and travel from state to state . . . without having to carry travel papers on him.

Turns out, that’s pretty much how defectors actually live when they arrive in the West. After a decades-long hiatus, news that a Russian engineer who worked on the country’s bomber program is requesting asylum in the USA has brought the issue of defectors back into the spotlight.

Hot Pursuit! Armed With 4 Air-To-Air Missiles, Chinese J-11 Fighter Intercepts US P-8 Poseidon Over South China Sea

Ashish Dangwal

According to multiple US media outlets, a Chinese J-11 fighter jet with four air-to-air missiles intercepted an American P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft over the South China Sea on February 24.

The incident occurred while the US media journalists were aboard an American aircraft on a surveillance mission in the South China Sea. The reports said that the US P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft was shadowed by a Chinese J-11 fighter jet for well over an hour.

The American military aircraft first received a warning from a Chinese ground station. “American aircraft, this is the PLA air force. You are approaching Chinese airspace. Keep a safe distance, or you will be intercepted,” said the Chinese ground station.

Soon after, a Chinese J-11 fighter jet positioned itself barely 500 feet off the port side of the US aircraft to intercept it. The Chinese fighter jet was so close that the US journalists could see the red star on the tail fins of the J-11 and the weapons the aircraft was carrying.

A few dozen miles north of the Paracel Islands—which China and Vietnam both claim—was where the P-8 and the Chinese jet aircraft came into contact. China has built military installations on a few of the islands.