2 March 2023

Is Sikh Militancy Returning to India’s Punjab State?

Sudha Ramachandran

On February 23, scores of gun- and sword-brandishing followers of Amritpal Singh, a self-styled radical Sikh “preacher” and head of a so-called pressure group, Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab), stormed a police station at Ajnala near Amritsar in India’s border state of Punjab. The mob was trying to force authorities to release a jailed associate of Singh.

In Singh’s words, the assault on the police station was a “show of strength.” It worked. Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government caved in to his demand and released the aide.

This could boost Singh’s stature in the Sikh separatist and radical religiopolitical space in Punjab.

Singh, who propagates the formation of Khalistan, a sovereign state for Sikhs, is drawing large crowds in rural Punjab. This is a matter of concern as Sikh separatist militancy ravaged Punjab in the 1980s and was wiped out only in the mid-1990s.

Global Spillover Effect and Pakistan’s Economic Woes

Sania Zeb

Pakistan is facing existential economic challenges, political instability, and a natural calamity of historical proportions that has exacerbated structural fault lines.

Although its problems are primarily made in Pakistan, regional and international economic realities have aggravated the economic situation. Surging inflation and deteriorating macroeconomic fundamentals in Pakistan are a byproduct of globalization and a highly interlinked supply chain mechanism, besides domestic supply and structural issues. It impacts lower-income groups with a higher intensity, which escalates fragmentation in society.

The World Bank reports that the ongoing Ukraine conflict has dramatically altered the already volatile post-COVID financial, energy, and fertilizer markets. It has led to skyrocketing food inflation and increased the cost of living by 200-300 percent. The global economic outlook remains grim, even though consumer price index (CPI) inflation rates have started to decline slowly in recent months. Central banks continue to raise interest rates amid fears of persistent underlying inflationary pressures.

The most pressing concern is a persistent increase in food inflation, which can lead to a decline in purchasing power, a reduction in consumer spending and ultimately impact economic growth.

In Afghanistan, increased repression causes fatigue and international backlash

Meladul Haq Ahmadzai

In the last three months, in Afghanistan, we continue to see increased repression of women’s rights because of the Taliban takeover. With all the bans on the education and public sector for not allowing women to work or go to school has resulted in international backlash. Moreover, life expectancy for children and for most Afghans in general will continue to degrade if the issue is left unchecked.

According to the Crisis Group, “Two thirds of the population, or 28 million people” needing essential aid like food, water, shelter and healthcare to survive. The humanitarian crisis appears to only be getting worsened. According to OCHA, in 2022, 24.4 million people required aid, but today, it is estimated that some 28.3 million people are in need (an increase of 3.9 million population).

My initial analysis shows that increased repression causes fatigue which leads to hunger, and results in life expectancy to degrade among Afghan population. Furthermore, this shows that Taliban’s ban on education and on NGO workers are both negative contributing factors; that is, causing life expectancy to lower. However, this trend will continue to hurt the Afghans if action by the international community is not forcefully enforced. While the international community has been monitoring the situation for quite some time, but the Taliban continues to take the shots, with no justification.

Bangladesh’s Economy Gets New Momentum Through Export Of Agricultural Products – OpEd

Jubeda Chowdhury

According to Bangladesh Export Development Bureau, significant agricultural exports are vegetables, tea, flowers, fruits, various spices, tobacco, dry food etc. However, Bangladesh has made significant progress in the export of dry food. These dry foods include various products like biscuits, chanachurs, cakes, potato crackers and nuts.

Of the $100 million agricultural products exported from Bangladesh in the last financial year, the share of processed food products is high. There are more than five hundred companies involved in the production of agro-processed food products. Among them there are 20 large and medium enterprises. And more than 100 companies are exporting.

Tax rebate and 20 percent cash assistance is being given for export of agricultural products and export of food processing products. As a result, the export earnings in this sector have increased for the last four years. He feels that the entrepreneurs of this sector have started exporting new products keeping in view the demand of the global market, which is showing a positive effect.

Due to the corona pandemic, the demand for agricultural and processed food has increased in the global market. The government wants the entrepreneurs of the country to make use of this opportunity and in that case the necessary assistance will be provided. Major exports of agro-processed foods are dry foods like bread, biscuits and chanachur, edible oils and similar products, fruit juices, various spices, beverages and various sugar confectionery like jams and jellies.

Why Is South Asia’s Finest Natural Harbor Still Undeveloped? – Analysis

P. K. Balachandran

While the Trincomalee port’s intrinsic value is well-known, its exploitation has been stymied by a variety of factors

The natural endowments and the strategic value of Trincomalee port have been well-known for long time. Yet, to date, very little concrete has been done to develop and use it. There has been no dearth of reports and plans. But except for the partial development of the giant oil tanks in collaboration with India, there has been no development of the port and the hinterland.

According to an ADB report, Trincomalee is a large natural harbor with water depths ranging from CD -20 m to CD -40 m. It is also the only entirely sheltered harbor in the South Asian sub-continent. In the Polonnaruwa era of Sri Lankan history (1055-1232 CE) it was a major commercial port. The Western powers sensed Trincomalee’s strategic value in the 18th.Century. British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806) said that Trincomalee was “the most valuable colonial possession on the globe” as it gave Britain’s Indian Empire a kind of security that “it had not enjoyed since the Empire’s establishment.” When the British took over Trincomalee in 1796 from the Dutch, Napoleon remarked: “He who controls Trincomalee controls the Indian Ocean.”

The first Indian to write about the strategic importance of Trincomalee for India was the historian-diplomat K.M.Panikkar. In his seminal work India and the Indian Ocean: an essay on the influence of sea power on Indian history published in the 1940s, he stressed the importance of Colombo and Trincomalee ports for the defense of India.

Desperate for Babies, China Races to Undo an Era of Birth Limits. Is It Too Late?

Nicole Hong and Zixu Wang

In China, a country that limits most couples to three children, one province is making a bold pitch to try to get its citizens to procreate: have as many babies as you want, even if you are unmarried.

The initiative, which came into effect this month, points to the renewed urgency of China’s efforts to spark a baby boom after its population shrank last year for the first time since a national famine in the 1960s. Other efforts are underway — officials in several cities have urged college students to donate sperm to help spur population growth, and there are plans to expand national insurance coverage for fertility treatments, including I.V.F.

But the measures have been met with a wave of public skepticism, ridicule and debate, highlighting the challenges China faces as it seeks to stave off a shrinking work force that could imperil economic growth.

Many young Chinese adults, who themselves were born during China’s draconian one-child policy, are pushing back on the government’s inducements to have babies in a country that is among the most expensive in the world to raise a child. To them, such incentives do little to address anxieties about supporting their aging parents and managing the rising costs of education, housing and health care.

Will China Create a New State-Owned Enterprise to Monopolize Artificial Intelligence?

Shaoshan Liu

With the recent releases of large-language models, such as ChatGPT, artificial intelligence (AI) capability has leapfrogged, attracting intense attention around the globe. Inspired by the success of ChatGPT, many Chinese technology companies, such as Baidu, rushed to announce their own plans for developing a Chinese version of ChatGPT. However, to everyone’s surprise, the Chinese government recently banned tech companies from offering ChatGPT-like services and will potentially impose more regulations on the development of AI.

Since AI has gradually evolved into a foundational part of societal infrastructure essential to national interests, China may create a new state-owned enterprise (SOE) to monopolize AI foundation in China, similar to how SOEs monopolize the energy and telecommunication sectors.

Traditionally, China’s SOEs have controlled industries that are deemed essential to national interest and China’s economy. It has been estimated that the share of SOEs in China’s GDP is at least 23 percent. Particularly, as China is transitioning from an investment-driven export economy to an innovation-driven economy reliant on domestic consumption, the role of SOEs has become increasingly more important, as these state-owned firms are driving China’s economic transition. Furthermore, one study indicated that Chinese SOEs form an integrated system to not only economically benefit the state but also to guarantee that the whole country stays within the state’s control.

Transcript: CIA director William Burns on "Face the Nation," Feb. 26, 2023

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Director, thank you for making time.

CIA DIRECTOR BILL BURNS: Nice to be with you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've got the whole world to watch right now, so I know you're a busy man. I want to start on Ukraine and Russia with this anniversary. On the cusp of Russia's invasion, you flew to Kyiv and you told President Zelenskyy, tell me if this is right, the Russians are coming to kill you. Was that the very first thing you said?

DIRECTOR BURNS: It wasn't the very first thing I said to President Zelenskyy, but President Biden had asked me to go to Kyiv to lay out for President Zelenskyy the most recent intelligence we had, which suggested that what Vladimir Putin was planning was what he thought would be a lightning strike from the Belarus border to seize Kyiv in a matter of a few days, and also to seize an airport just northwest of Kyiv called Hostomel, which he wanted to use as a platform to bring in air- airborne troops, as a way again, of accelerating that lightning conquest of Kyiv. And I think President Zelenskyy understood what was at stake and what he was up against. Our Ukrainian intelligence partners also had good intelligence about what was coming as well. But I do think that the role of intelligence in this instance, what we're able to provide to President Zelenskyy, not just on that trip, but you know, throughout the course of the war, have helped him to defend his country with such courage and tenacity. And I think that made a contribution early, you know, just before the war started.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Being able to share that intelligence?

Russia Unleashes ‘Leopard Hunter’ UGVs; German Report Admits AI-Enabled Marker Big Threat To Ukraine’s Tanks

Parth Satam

Russia’s combat Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) Marker can reportedly operate autonomously for days, and network with other UGVs and Markers, while sharing critical military data.

Marker’s Artificially Intelligence (AI)-enabled system helps identify friendly vehicles and soldiers through camouflage patterns on their combat uniforms and insignia patches.

These staggering capabilities were revealed in a German media report that interacted with the representatives of the private company that developed the UGV, touted as a “Leopard tank killer.”

And while the UGV’s AI-Machine Learning system is being updated with images and information on Western tanks to identify them, Russian soldiers on the frontlines have undertaken exciting battlefield innovation and assembled their ground combat robot.

Videos of this makeshift UGV, armed with a machine gun and a pair of Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) externally, went around on various Telegram groups. Appearing to be put together hastily, it still might have significant utility if used well against Ukrainian trenches, infantry, and built-up areas.

Russia’s military chiefs go to war … with each other


An increasingly bitter quarrel between Russia’s top generals and Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the mercenary Wagner Group, looks like it is coming to a head after the paramilitary boss accused the country’s defense ministry of “treason” by intentionally withholding munitions from his fighters in Ukraine.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has allowed the rise to prominence of outspoken mavericks like Prigozhin — who takes many of his recruits from jails — and Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, exposing jostling rivalries between Russian commanders that could ultimately pose a threat to the Kremlin. Wagner Group has been leading the monthslong assault on the town of Bakhmut, where its forces have gained infamy for their suicidal “meat wave” attacks that the Ukrainians claim are resulting in extremely heavy Russian losses.

Moscow’s defense ministry has denounced as “absolutely false” Prigozhin’s claim that it has been keeping back ammunition from his fighters. “All requests for ammunition for assault units are met as soon as possible,” it said. While praising the “courage” of Russian “volunteers” in Ukraine it slammed efforts to sow divisions, which are “counterproductive and which only play in favor of the enemy.”

In a seven-minute audio message posted online Monday, Prigozhin lambasted Russia’s military high-brass saying he had been required to “apologize and obey” in efforts to secure supplies for his men. “I’m unable to solve this problem despite all my connections and contacts,” he fumed. He blamed the shortage of ammunition on people who were “eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner off golden plates.”

NATO on the precipice

Source Link

WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS — The images tell the story.

In the packed meeting rooms and hallways of Munich’s Hotel Bayerischer Hof last weekend, back-slapping allies pushed an agenda with the kind of forward-looking determination NATO had long sought to portray but just as often struggled to achieve. They pledged more aid for Ukraine. They revamped plans for their own collective defense.

Two days later in Moscow, Vladimir Putin stood alone, rigidly ticking through another speech full of resentment and lonely nationalism, pausing only to allow his audience of grim-faced government functionaries to struggle to their feet in a series of mandatory ovations in a cold, cavernous hall.

With the war in Ukraine now one year old, and no clear path to peace at hand, a newly unified NATO is on the verge of making a series of seismic decisions beginning this summer to revolutionize how it defends itself while forcing slower members of the alliance into action.

The decisions in front of NATO will place the alliance — which protects 1 billion people — on a path to one the most sweeping transformations in its 74-year history. Plans set to be solidified at a summit in Lithuania this summer promise to revamp everything from allies’ annual budgets to new troop deployments to integrating defense industries across Europe.

The goal: Build an alliance that Putin wouldn’t dare directly challenge.

The Bomb in the Background

Nina Tannenwald

In a major speech this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he was suspending his country’s participation in the New START treaty, Russia’s only remaining major nuclear arms control agreement with the United States. He also threatened to resume nuclear weapons tests. The declarations sent jitters through the international community. These actions constituted yet another example of Putin’s willingness to leverage his nuclear arsenal, dangling it like the sword of Damocles over the West in order to limit NATO’s support for Ukraine.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last February, Russian leaders have issued numerous explicit nuclear threats against Ukraine and NATO. In April, Putin promised to respond to outside intervention in the conflict with “swift, lightning fast” retribution. “We have all the tools for this,” he added, “ones that no one can brag about.” So far, however, there has been no significant or observable change in the operational readiness of nuclear weapons in either Russia or in Western countries.

Ukraine War: Will Russia Declare another Round of Mobilization?

Francis Lee-Saunders

Another round of mobilization in Russia is likely this year. The prospect of a second round of the draft has hung over Russian society since the first one in September 2022, and both Ukraine and Western officials cited in the press in the past couple of months have publicly said Russia is moving towards such a decision.

Behind this decision is a dilemma that reaches to the very heart of Russia’s invasion plan. This is continued tension between Russia’s military capabilities, President Putin’s ambitious strategic objectives for the war, and the Kremlin’s unwillingness to scale down these objectives. This leaves it with little option but to pursue any measure that can potentially help Russia’s military succeed. While mobilization is no silver bullet to all of Russia’s military failings, it would nonetheless provide Moscow with another boost in troop numbers, make it more difficult for Ukraine to advance, and set the scene for a protracted, attritional war.

In September, Russia claimed it recruited 300,000 new troops as part of a ‘partial’ mobilization. However, the mobilization process appeared chaotic in practice and the number of recruits much less clear. Some students faced the draft, despite explicit pledges to the contrary. There were also protests across cities in Russia, though the police and authorities quickly quashed most of them.

Africa’s Development And The Threat Of Geopolitical Changes – Analysis

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou

Introduction: Rich Africa

Africa is undoubtedly the continent best endowed with natural resources. With a surface area of approximately 30.3 million square kilometers, if one includes the island areas, the continent covers about a sixth of the surface of the globe and one-fifth of the world’s land mass. Today, it is home to approximately 1.2 billion people, or 17 percent of the world’s population, unevenly distributed over 55 states. As a whole, it has a population density average, of about 35 people per square kilometer compared to 47 per square kilometer globally. This average is 4 times lower than that of the European Union, for example. However, the average population growth is very high, and according to population projections, the African population is expected to double by 2050. (1)

For the National Geographic Society, (2)

‘’Africa is sometimes nicknamed the “Mother Continent” due to its being the oldest inhabited continent on Earth. Humans and human ancestors have lived in Africa for more than 5 million years.’’

Africa’s wealth lies in its soil. The continent has 24 percent of the world’s arable land, yet it generates only 9 percent of agricultural production. The fertile land is unevenly distributed, with large desert areas in the Sahelian basin and wet, highly fertile areas around water basins and along the major rivers. While some are unable to exploit all of their lands, others struggle to cultivate staple crops, resulting in episodes of extreme famine. (3)

Russia's air force is struggling to hit targets in Ukraine, but its missiles can still keep Ukraine's jets at bay

Michael Peck

Russia's air force is having better luck hitting targets in the air than on the ground.

Limited quantities of guided air-to-ground munitions have hindered Russia's ability to carry out effective airstrikes. However, a potent mix of air-to-air missiles — some of which out-range their Ukrainian counterparts — have helped keep Ukrainian aircraft at bay.

Indeed, both the Russian and Ukrainian air forces are depleting their missile stockpiles, according to analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British defense think tank. Several experts spoke at a briefing for the launch of the 2023 edition of the institute's Military Balance, an authoritative tally of the weapons owned by nations around the world.

"I think one of the things that struck us all on the panel has been the high utilization rates, certainly, of air-launched guided weaponry," said Douglas Barrie, IISS senior fellow for military aerospace. "You see capability gaps and a lack of inventory depth both on the part of Moscow and Kyiv."

Russia reeling after 'unexplained explosions' hit ammo cache, fuel depots and steel works Explosions have reportedly rocked a number of locations in Russian-occupied Mariupol in Ukraine.


Blasts are reputed to have struck two fuel depots, a steel mill that Russia employs as a military base, and an ammo cache at an airport, according to a statement by the British Ministry of Defence. Mariupol was widely devastated earlier in the war but is still important to Russia because it is the largest city that Russia captured in 2022 and currently controls, and it is also located on a crucial logistics route.

The MoD update stated: "Since 21 February 2023, pro-Russian officials have reported at least 14 explosions around the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol.

"Sites of the incidents have included an ammo cache at the airport, two fuel depots, and a steel works that Russia uses as a military base. Mariupol lies at least 80km away from the front line.

"Russia will likely be concerned that unexplained explosions are occurring in a zone it had probably previously assessed as beyond the range of routine Ukrainian strike capabilities.

"Although widely devasted earlier in the war, Mariupol is important to Russia because it is the. largest city Russia captured in 2022 that it still controls, and sits on a key logistics route."

The Cost Of Deglobalization


When the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s Arizona fabrication facility held its “tool-in” ceremony last December, Morris Chang, who founded the company in 1987, called this event the “end of the beginning” — as in the end of the beginning of TSMC’s $40 billion investment in Arizona, but also the “end” of the beginning of deglobalization. Even though the tide of deglobalization, friendshoring and onshoring has been gaining strength for many years, TSMC’s foray into the U.S. is a landmark moment of this important shift.

As Chang proclaimed: “Globalization is almost dead. Free trade is almost dead. And a lot of people still wish they would come back, but I really don’t think they will be back for a while.”

The semiconductor industry was globalizing long before “globalization” became the norm, as Chris Miller chronicled in his book, “Chip War.” More than perhaps any other company, TSMC epitomizes all the forces of globalization — from free trade and hyper-specialization to international supply chains anchored on a presumed sense of geopolitical stability. When globalization was all well and good, these forces interacted and interconnected without much friction or impediments, propelling companies like TSMC to incredible success.

Now that TSMC is at the center of the reverse trend, its endeavors in Arizona also serve as a case study of how friendshoring really works and how much deglobalization really costs. The chip-making juggernaut revealed some of these details in its Q4 2022 earnings report.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine was also accompanied by large-scale operations in cyberspace

Russia's invasion of Ukraine was accompanied by large-scale operations in cyberspace even before it began. And since February 24, Kiev has officially recorded more than 2,000 cyber attacks by Moscow.

But after the Kremlin's initial limited successes, the volume and effectiveness of cyber operations fell away, according to Western experts.

As the war dragged on, Russian hackers were unable to compensate for failures on the battlefield -- not least because of the support Ukraine has received, including in cyberspace.

"One of the things that it [the war] has demonstrated is that when you have a coalition, a group of not only state and non-governmental actors, but also the commercial sector really trying to come together and provide defense in depth -- this war has really shown that there's a lot of power in that kind of coalition," Gavin Wilde, senior fellow in the Technology and International Affairs programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Euronews.

According to Kyiv, Moscow tries to back up almost any military strike with attacks on digital infrastructure.

But according to experts, the effectiveness of the hackers' operations is dependent upon success on the battlefield. Cyberwars alone are not enough.

Russia’s Descent into Warlordism

Olga Lautman

Stung by a string of defeats in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has chosen to outsource the war to warlords and their mercenary armies. As these warlords gain power, rival groups are emerging to challenge them.

Russia’s irregular forces — most notoriously the Wagner Group, which musters around 50,000 men — not only form a key element of Russia’s invasion forces in Ukraine, they are increasingly, and unprecedentedly, engaging in verbal battles with the Russian state. This signals an erosion of the social order in Russia and its ultimate consequences are unclear.

The rise of one man in particular, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Soviet-era convict who helped organize Russian interference in US elections, has caught widespread attention. So far, Prigozhin has had Putin’s support. His Wagner Group has provided plausible deniability for Putin in Syria and Africa, as well as Ukraine.

Another warlord, Ramzan Kadyrov, the notorious Chechen leader, and self-publicist, has also contributed an “impressive number” of soldiers to the war in Ukraine. His ambitions don’t end there — he said on February 19 that he planned to follow Wagner’s example. “When my service to the state is completed, I seriously plan to compete with our dear brother Yevgeny Prigozhin and create a private military company. I think it will all work out.”

Lab Leak Most Likely Origin of Covid-19 Pandemic, Energy Department Now Says

Michael R. Gordon

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Energy Department has concluded that the Covid pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak, according to a classified intelligence report recently provided to the White House and key members of Congress.

The shift by the Energy Department, which previously was undecided on how the virus emerged, is noted in an update to a 2021 document by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines’s office.

The new report highlights how different parts of the intelligence community have arrived at disparate judgments about the pandemic’s origin. The Energy Department now joins the Federal Bureau of Investigation in saying the virus likely spread via a mishap at a Chinese laboratory. Four other agencies, along with a national intelligence panel, still judge that it was likely the result of a natural transmission, and two are undecided.

The Energy Department’s conclusion is the result of new intelligence and is significant because the agency has considerable scientific expertise and oversees a network of U.S. national laboratories, some of which conduct advanced biological research.

Impact of Ukraine-Russia war: Cybersecurity has improved for all

Joseph Menn

SAN FRANCISCO — Russia’s cyberspace attacks on Ukraine during the past year have erased data, degraded communication and stolen information, but they have fallen far short of the destruction that many predicted after the invasion a year ago.

In fact, the campaign may have helped inoculate Ukraine against more devastating attacks, experts say, by revealing Russian tactics when the stakes were highest, proving the value of faster collaboration and other defensive measures, and destroying the myth of Russia as an unstoppable cyber superpower.

“We are not only better prepared, we are able to share our lessons learned,” said George Dubynskyi, deputy minister for security in Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation.

That is resonating in Europe and the United States, which have worked closely to protect Ukraine and now are importing strategy and intelligence in defense of their own cyber networks.

“The Russian invasion did prompt greater cyber cooperation between the U.S. and key allies, particularly in Eastern Europe,” said Brandon Wales, executive director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and coordinator of the American interagency defensive response. “When it comes to work across domestic critical infrastructure sectors, the war turbocharged the operational collaboration that we had kicked off.”

How the Ukraine War Has Changed Russia’s Cyberstrategy

Rishi Iyengar

Over the years, Russia has built up one of the world’s most formidable cybercriminal ecosystems, with Russian hacker groups linked to disruptive cyberattacks including takedowns of one of the United States’ most critical oil pipelines and the world’s largest meat producer.

Now, Russia’s war in Ukraine has thrown that ecosystem into disarray, according to multiple new reports. The yearlong war has led to a splintering of many cybercriminal groups in both countries—and in Russian ally Belarus—along political and ideological lines. Russia’s brain drain of technology professionals as a result of the war has further weakened its capabilities, according to a report released Friday by the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future.

“Cybercrime … is entering into a new era of volatility as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine,” the report reads. Google researchers reached a similar conclusion in a separate report this month, finding that “[w]hile ransomware groups continue to be disruptive, the ecosystem itself has been disrupted with some groups declaring political allegiances and prominent operators shutting down.”

Ransomware attacks, in which hackers gain control of an organization’s computer systems and demand large sums of money to return access, were among the biggest concerns when Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago. While there were some isolated ransomware attacks on Ukraine and Poland late last year that Microsoft attributed to Russian military-affiliated hackers, attacks on the scale that hit Colonial Pipeline and meat processor JBS in 2021—resulting in millions of dollars of ransom payments—have largely been absent from the conflict. Ransomware payments declined by double-digit percentages across the board in 2022, according to cybersecurity firms and analysis groups.

A Year Into Russia's Invasion of Ukraine, We're Still Bracing for a Massive Cyberwar

Bree Fowler

Over the past year, the Russian military has wreaked havoc on Ukraine. More than a hundred thousand people have died, and billions of dollars in property has been destroyed. The global political balance has been turned on its head.

But what's surprising is the one thing that has yet to occur: an all-out cyberwar.

There have been cyberattacks against Ukraine, along with attempts to disrupt political activities and launch disinformation campaigns in the countries that have supported Ukraine, but as the conflict rolls into its second year, the cyber Armageddon some experts predicted hasn't materialized.

This runs counter to conventional wisdom and expectations. Before the invasion, cyberattacks in Ukraine that were attributed to Russia had attempted to shut down the country's electrical grid, which would knock out power to hospitals and other critical infrastructure. Malware from prior attacks disabled some systems and inadvertently spilled out to companies far outside Ukraine's borders.

Losing heat and electricity during Ukraine's brutal winters could have deadly consequences. But since the invasion, a full-on assault on the grid hasn't happened, at least not yet. Instead, Russia has focused on more traditional methods of warfare, like missile strikes and troops on the ground. Though tragic and deadly, this game plan has kept the destruction within Ukraine's borders.

How the Russia-Ukraine war has changed cyberspace


The Russia-Ukraine war has shattered the digital wall that often separated the government’s cyber experts from the private sector, forcing a new level of transparency on potential threats and engagement on geopolitical crises.

“I think the war in Ukraine has acted as a forcing function for governments, particularly the U.S., to reconsider how they communicate and declassify cyber threat information with the private sector,” said Jason Blessing, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

It’s no secret that government agencies tend to move slower than private actors when it comes to communicating and sharing threat information, so it makes sense to join forces, he added.

“I think you’re seeing the needle move in the right direction in terms of information sharing,” he added.

Nathaniel Fick, the head of the cyber bureau at the State Department, recently said that the war has made concrete changes to how the U.S. government and the private sector work together to counter cyberattacks.

“When I was a cybersecurity CEO, public-private partnership was a feel-good buzz term,” Fick said. “It generally meant I shared my data with the government, the government classified it, and I got nothing back.”

Deepfake, propaganda and disinformation | How Russia and Ukraine battled the information war


Three weeks had passed since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. The world and global organisations were expecting Kyiv to fall soon, finding it difficult to believe that the war-hit nation can sustain even a month of offensive.

At such a crucial point, a video appeared in which Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his signature green attire, was seen addressing his soldiers from behind a podium on which the Ukrainian state emblem was present.

In the video, Zelensky was seen asking his soldiers to lay down their weapons and go back to their families. “There is no need to die in this war. I advise you to live,” he was seen as saying. The video was massively circulated on social media and briefly ran on Ukraine's television which suggested that the leader had fled from Kyiv. The video clearly indicated that the war is about to end, contrary to the fact that it's been now one year of war and the end is not in sight.


We must treat cyber wars the same as we treat conventional military encounters


Pictures and videos emanating from Ukraine show the widespread destruction wrought by Russian troops during a year-long war that continuously generates news coverage. But there is another side to this conflict that is lesser known and harder to see.

A parallel war has been running alongside Russia’s conventional ground invasion, one that involves unrelenting cyber attacks across various segments of Ukrainian society, if with less success than many experts initially anticipated. Mixed results aside, this cyber warfare at times has been significant enough that lines are being blurred between where cyber attacks stop and conventional warfare begins.

Since the start of the invasion in late February 2022, Russian actors have attacked Ukraine with two primary goals: to damage critical infrastructure and to exfiltrate or destroy data. According to Ukraine’s Computer Emergency Response Team, more than 2,000 cyber attacks plagued Ukraine in 2022 alone. Taking it a step further, at least eight different forms of malware have been used by Russian saboteurs in the past year, according to Microsoft, 40 percent of which were targeted at “critical infrastructure sectors.” Other targets included Ukrainian government websites, financial institutions, energy and communication service providers, and media outlets.

Sleepwalking Toward Accidental Conflict


NEW HAVEN – Too many observers have lost sight of one of the key lessons of World War I. The Great War was triggered by the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914, which occurred against the backdrop of a long-simmering conflict between Europe’s major powers. This interplay between conflict escalation and a political spark has special resonance today.

With war raging in Ukraine and a cold-war mentality gripping the United States and China, there can be no mistaking the historical parallels. The world is simmering with conflict and resentment. All that is missing is a triggering event. With tensions in Taiwan, the South China Sea, and Ukraine, there are plenty of possible sparks to worry about.

Taiwan is a leading candidate. Even if, like me, you do not accept the US view that President Xi Jinping has consciously shortened the timeline for reunification, recent actions by the US government may end up forcing his hand. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taipei last August, and her successor, Kevin McCarthy, seems intent on doing the same. The newly established House Select Committee on China appears likely to send its own mission shortly, especially following the unannounced recent visit of its chairman, Mike Gallagher.

Meanwhile, a just-completed visit to Taipei by a senior official from the Pentagon, in the aftermath of the December enactment of the $10 billion Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act, leaves little doubt about US military support for China’s so-called renegade province. While the US squirms to defend the One China principle enshrined in the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué, there can no longer be any doubt about US political support for preserving Taiwan’s independent status. That is a red line for China – and a geopolitical flashpoint for everyone else.

Army chief envisions software coders defeating ‘camouflage of the future’


Anticipating a cat-and-mouse game where military forces will try to fool their adversaries’ artificial intelligence systems, the U.S. Army’s chief of staff sees a need for coders that can quickly reprogram algorithms so they won’t be tricked.

Concealment has long been a key tool for survival on the battlefield, and armed forces around the world have employed tactics and technologies to help hide themselves and detect their foes. But in the evolving digital age, soldiers need to be prepared to defeat “the camouflage of the future,” Gen. James McConville told reporters during a Defense Writers Group meeting on Thursday.

“Right now, we use all this green stuff, we paint our face, we put trees on us and do all this different type [of] thing. But in the future, you’re going to have maybe a tank that you want to make look like a bus against an algorithm [designed to find and identify enemy forces for targeting or other purposes]. So how do you do that? You stick something on the side, and then someone will go, ‘Hey, they stuck something up on the side,’ so you’ve got to write a code that, hey, if they stick something on the side of the tank, it’s actually still a tank, you know, it’s not a bus or [something else]. So all those type things are going to play out in the future,” McConville said.

The Digital Forensic Research Lab on Narrative Warfare and the Invasion of Ukraine


In a new report, the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) team analyzed upwards of 10,000 articles from Kremlin and pro-Kremlin media that used false and misleading narratives in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late 2021 and early 2022.

These narratives were used to:
Provide a justification for the attack;
Obfuscate operational planning; and
Deny responsibility for the war.

Narrative Warfare: How the Kremlin and Russian news outlets justified a war of aggression against Ukraine

From the report:

“In the weeks and months leading up to Russia invading Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the Kremlin and pro-Kremlin media employed false and misleading narratives to justify military action against Ukraine, mask the Kremlin’s operational planning, and deny any responsibility for the coming war. Collectively, these narratives served as Vladimir Putin’s casus belli to engage in a war of aggression against Ukraine. To research this report, the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) identified recurring pro-Kremlin narratives over two timeframes: the 2014–2021 interwar period and the seventy days leading up to the 2022 invasion. For the interwar period, we reviewed more than 350 fact-checks of pro-Kremlin disinformation. We then collected more than ten thousand examples of false and misleading narratives published by fourteen pro-Kremlin outlets over the seventy-day pre-invasion period. To understand how these narratives evolved, we cataloged them by themes, sub-narratives, and relationships to pre-invasion escalatory events. This allowed us to produce a timeline of false and misleading Kremlin narratives encompassing the year leading to the invasion, showing how Russia weaponized these narratives as its actions on the ground escalated toward war.

Russia’s New Drone Warhead Is a ‘Complex Engine of Destruction’


Russia is bombarding Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure with hundreds of one-way attack drones in an attempt to shut down the power grid and freeze Kyiv into submission. Investigators who took apart one of the Shahed-131 drones supplied by Iran—the Russians have rebranded it as Geran-1, but experts aren’t fooled—discovered a surprisingly sophisticated, multifunctional warhead.

“This multipurpose warhead was designed to ensure maximum damage to targets such as critical infrastructure, while also having a significant impact on the ability to undertake quick repair efforts,” according to a new report this month from investigators at Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a U.K.-based non-governmental organization that “identifies and tracks conventional weapons and ammunition in contemporary armed conflicts.”