8 March 2023

China’s Increased Attention to Tibet’s Borders With India

Apa Lhamo

During his visit to Nyingtri and Lhasa in July 2021, Chinese leader Xi Jinping showed a renewed resolve and fortitude to obliterate the cohesion of Tibetan nationalism, identity, and the Tibetan people’s steadfast faith in Buddhism. He spoke about the need to Sinicize Tibetan Buddhism, instill a collective sense of the “Chinese nation,” and make Tibetans identify with China, Chinese people, Chinese culture, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Importantly, Xi also stressed the need to consolidate and securitize Tibet’s borders. He asked people to “take root” (resettle) in the border areas, guard the borders, and defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. The Sino-Indian border in the Tibetan region is disputed, with China claiming the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as “South Tibet.”

The geopolitical significance of Tibet is increasingly important for the CCP. It has only gained prominence since Xi came to power in late 2012, with subsequent border clashes with neighboring India at Doklam on the Bhutan-China border in 2017 and Galwan Valley (located on the western sector of the China-India border) in 2020, and a more recent skirmish at Tawang in December of last year.

The composition of the delegation from the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) for the 20th Party Congress also strongly substantiates the increasing importance the CCP gives to Tibet’s borders. Out of the 20 representatives of Tibetan ethnicity from the TAR for the 20th Party Congress, six were from the border villages of Lhoka, Nyingtri, Shigatse, and Ngari. In addition, the party secretaries (all of Han ethnicity) of critical border prefectures like Nyingtri, Lhoka, and Ngari were part of the delegation.

Tibetans living in the border areas of the TAR are thus duty-bound to be the “guardian of the land and builders of happy homes.” They are given subsidies to patrol and protect the borders and are coerced to relocate to the border areas.

A Dangerous Game: Pakistan’s Ruling Class Plays Politics as Terrorism Brews

Ali Malik

Police officials and others attend the funeral prayer of a police officer, a victim of Monday’s suicide bombing, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Feb. 2, 2023.Credit: AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad

The grandstanding of Pakistani politicians and their inability to negotiate are consistent elements of the nation’s politics. But the elites’ penchant for prioritizing political gain over the welfare of the state threatens to impose more self-inflicted pain on Pakistan’s most significant asset: its provincial security infrastructure.

While Pakistan’s municipal and provincial security forces are resilient, no institution can be expected to heal, much less thrive, as it encounters one devastating trauma after another. As if biblical floods, cyclical debt, and an energy crisis weren’t enough, an old enemy has reared its head once more to threaten Pakistan’s precarious security situation: the Pakistani Taliban (TTP).

It is time for Pakistan’s political and military establishment to wake up and reconcile with the fact that they can’t negotiate their way to peace. The state must wage war against the Pakistani Taliban and their ideology before they inflict more violence on Pakistan.

On January 30, an estimated 100 people, primarily police officers, lost their lives at the hands of a TTP suicide bomber in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, with over 217 injured. On February 17, the TTP targeted the office of the Karachi police chief; four people were killed and 19 were injured. This new wave of bold terrorist activity follows a breakdown in talks between the Pakistani political and security establishment and the TTP last November.

The decision to negotiate rather than destroy the Pakistani Taliban was undertaken under the auspices of both the former Prime Minister Imran Khan, and, as new rumors indicate, former Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa. Khan and Bajwa’s rationale for engaging with the TTP is excruciatingly simple: They are Pakistani citizens and would like to come back to the country.

The Biden administration’s two-track Pakistan policy misses the mark

Madiha Afzal 

The U.S.-Pakistan relationship has weathered several bumps in the road over the past two years, including, most prominently, the fallout from the Afghanistan withdrawal and the Taliban takeover. The Biden administration has now settled on a bureaucratic division of labor in its policy toward Pakistan: a lack of engagement from the White House; robust, well-defined engagement from the State Department; and a continuation of long-standing military and defense ties. The new equilibrium is different from the past: President Joe Biden is the only U.S. president in recent memory not to have engaged with a Pakistani prime minister (neither Imran Khan nor his successor, Shehbaz Sharif). The bilateral relationship is also notably no longer centered solely around America’s interests in Afghanistan, as it was prior to August 2021: there is an effort by both sides to broaden its base.

Unfortunately, the overall relationship is weak at best. Here are the factors that have shaped the relationship over the last two years:


At the beginning of the Biden administration, Pakistan recognized the need to redefine the bilateral relationship, until then focused on Afghanistan, as the U.S. withdrawal from that country drew close. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government pitched the need for a comprehensive relationship with the United States, one based on “geo-economics” — Pakistan’s catch-all for trade, investment, and connectivity — as opposed to a relationship focused on security concerns. The Biden administration wasn’t responsive, and the relationship got off to a cold start. At the time, the United States was focused on Afghanistan and the need for Pakistan to exercise pressure on the Taliban to push it toward an intra-Afghan peace. Then, as the Taliban undertook a systematic military takeover of Afghanistan while the United States withdrew, the relationship cooled further. In the months afterward, although Pakistan helped in evacuations from Kabul and in taking in Afghan refugees, the ignominy of the withdrawal — that the war ended with a clear Taliban victory and in view of Pakistan’s close relationship with the Taliban — pushed relations to a relative low point.


Old Faces Dominate China’s ‘New Era’

Jarek Grzywacz

New members of the Politburo Standing Committee, front to back, President Xi Jinping, Li Qiang, Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang, and Li Xi arrive at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 23, 2022.Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File

In the hierarchical structure of the Chinese party-state, lower level cadres with good career prospects always try to avoid being stuck in a post for too long without a meaningful promotion. The rules of elevation are rather vague and competition usually fierce, but one of the most transparent factors is the age constraint. To climb the career ladder successfully, the lower levels have to be passed early enough.

For the most ambitious and fortunate, the coveted provincial-ministerial rank (governors and ministers), which opens a chance for a further national level career, usually has to be attained in their early 50s. Outstanding cadres with aspirations for national leadership get there in their 40s.

The age limits were codified in 1982, at the beginning of the Reform and Opening era, and since then strictly applied. The regulations stipulated the retirement age for provincial-ministerial level top jobs at 65, and for their deputies and all other senior cadres at 60.

In 1997 the customary age requirement of 67 was introduced as the age limit for nominations to the highest national level posts, especially to the Politburo and its Standing Committee. Those age limits were widely regarded by the leadership as a necessity to renovate the party structures in a way that assured stable and predictable generational changes.

China's Attack on U.S. Over TikTok Ban Spectacularly Backfires


China's retort to a forthcoming TikTok ban in the United States backfired on Tuesday in unexpected ways after Chinese social media users ridiculed Beijing's own policing of the internet.

Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, accused the U.S. of lacking in self-confidence after the White House moved this week to purge all government devices of the short-video app over cybersecurity concerns related to ByteDance, TikTok's Beijing-headquartered parent company.

"How unsure of itself can the world's top superpower be to fear a young people's favorite app like that?" Mao said, according to the ministry's official translation of her remarks. "The U.S. has been over-stretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress foreign companies. We firmly oppose those wrong actions."

"The U.S. government should respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing the companies and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies in the U.S.," she said in a response that went viral on Weibo, China's main social media website.

"Mao Ning says U.S. too unconfident," read a hashtag that has been viewed 150 million times in 24 hours. Weibo users piggybacked the same trending topic to direct veiled criticisms at their own government for its sweeping restrictions on American social media platforms, including bans on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other services since 2009.

"This is like slapping yourself in the face," one user wrote. "Google, Facebook and ChatGPT are all banned here. How do you explain that?"

"I only have one question: What is TikTok?" one commenter wrote. Another asked: "What kind of app is TikTok? Can we use it here? If the U.S. is unconfident, how confident are we?"

Russia-Ukraine conflict ‘a reminder’ for China to enhance cyber defense line: political advisor

Chen Qingqing and Bai Yunyi

What has happened in the Russia-Ukraine conflict has shown that the internet battlefield is closely related to the battlefield of a hot war, as cyberattacks could lead to power outage and cutoff of energy and food supplies, a Chinese political advisor told the Global Times, whose proposal to this year's two sessions also focuses on enhancing cybersecurity capabilities and considering replacing some technologies with domestic products.

Qi Xiangdong, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee and chairman of a leading security provider Qi An Xin Group, said that an important national security challenge that China is currently facing is the theft of state secrets and sabotage of the state facilities by third countries or hostile individuals both domestic and foreign.

The damage of those cyberattacks has been rising from "small troubles" to "national affairs." In the digital age, cyberattacks could lead to power outage, supply cut-off of meat and oil as daily food necessities and broadcast interruption, having an incalculable impact on people's lives, enterprise production and social stability, Qi said.

In recent years, traditional security threats and non-traditional security threats have been intertwined, and the cyberspace has become one of the main battlefields of the game between great powers. China is also facing a more complex national security situation, in which network and data security has become one of the most complex and severe non-traditional security issues that it faces, according to analysts.

"We have seen that in the cyber warfare of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, critical infrastructure has become a key target of attack, and the cybersecurity crisis has actually occurred, and it may be staged in real life at any time in the future," said the Chinese political advisor.

From the perspective of attack level, the attackers are also changing into professional groups with certain background, Qi said. "In the past, it was viruses like Panda Burning Incense that threatened us, which did not cause any substantial harm except for minor incoviniences. Now, cyber attackers are often high-level, professional and nationally-backed attack organizations."

"Their attack is like a hand in the shadows, always ready for a surprise attack, which must be defended with systematic, practical, and normalized network security capabilities," Qi said.

China Is Relentlessly Hacking Its Neighbors

New details reveal that Beijing-backed hackers targeted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, adding to a string of attacks in the region.

IN MAY 2022, Joe Biden was on a charm offensive. The US president invited the leaders of 10 Southeast Asian nations to the White House for the first time for talks about the region, which is home to more than 600 million people. High on the agenda was China—a key trading partner for all the countries, but also a potential threat to their stability. Biden promised $150 million in extra support for the nations to help improve their security, infrastructure, and ongoing pandemic response.

However, in the weeks leading up to the meeting, according to a cybersecurity alert seen by WIRED, hackers working on behalf of China were stealing thousands of emails and sensitive details from the Southeast Asian nations. The cyberespionage, which has not been previously reported, is the latest in a string of incidents where Chinese-linked hackers have quietly compromised neighboring countries, looking to gain political and economic information.

According to the cybersecurity alert, Chinese-linked hackers were able to break into mail servers operated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in February 2022 and steal a trove of data. The ASEAN organization is an intergovernmental body made up of 10 Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. This was the third time the organization has been compromised since 2019, the document says.

The hackers were able to steal “gigabytes” of emails sent by ASEAN countries, and the data was stolen “daily,” according to the cybersecurity alert. It’s believed that the attackers stole more than 10,000 emails, making up more than 30 GB of data. The incident “impacts all ASEAN members due to correspondence that was compromised,” the alert says. The notification was sent to cybersecurity agencies, foreign affairs ministries, and other governmental organizations in all 10 of the ASEAN member countries.

Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab, the CEO of CyberSecurity Malaysia, an agency under the country’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, says it received the alert in 2022, notified officials within the country, and generally condemns hacking. Other nations impacted declined to comment or did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment. The ASEAN group itself did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

China's embassy in the US did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amplified Voices, Quiet Theft

China’s Censors Are Afraid of What Chatbots Might Say

Nicholas Welch

ChatGPT has made quite the stir in China: virtually every major tech company is keen on developing its own artificial intelligence chatbot. Baidu has announced plans to release its own strain sometime next month. This newfound obsession is in line with paramount Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s strategic prioritization of AI development—dating back to at least 2017—in China’s race to become the world’s dominant AI player and ultimately a “science and technology superpower.” And while the development of large language model (LLM) bots such as ChatGPT is just one facet of the future of AI, LLMs will, as one leading AI scientist recently put it, “define artificial intelligence.” Indeed, the sudden popularity of ChatGPT has at Google “upended the work of numerous groups inside the company to respond to the threat that ChatGPT poses”—a clarion indicator of the arguably outsized importance of LLMs.

Yet, China’s aspirations to become a world-leading AI superpower are fast approaching a head-on collision with none other than its own censorship regime. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) prioritizes controlling the information space over innovation and creativity, human or otherwise. That may dramatically hinder the development and rollout of LLMs, leaving China to find itself a pace behind the West in the AI race.

According to a bombshell report from Nikkei Asia, Chinese regulators have instructed key Chinese tech companies not to offer ChatGPT services “amid growing alarm in Beijing over the AI-powered chatbot’s uncensored replies to user queries.” A cited justification, from state-sponsored newspaper China Daily, is that such chatbots “could provide a helping hand to the U.S. government in its spread of disinformation and its manipulation of global narratives for its own geopolitical interests.”

Searching China - OSINT Way

The Chinese internet, also known as the "Great Firewall of China," presents unique challenges for researchers looking to conduct open-source intelligence (OSINT) analysis. With strict government censorship and monitoring, finding and accessing information can be difficult. Yet, it is possible to undertake efficient OSINT research on the Chinese internet with the proper tools and methodologies. Here are some tips for conducting OSINT research on the Chinese internet:

Use VPNs and proxies: To access websites that are blocked in China, researchers can use virtual private networks (VPNs) or proxies. These tools can help researchers access information that would otherwise be unavailable.

Understand Chinese search engines: Chinese search engines, such as Baidu, are different from Western search engines like Google. It is important to understand how these search engines work and what search terms to use to find the information you need.

Use Chinese-language tools: Chinese-language OSINT tools, such as Sogou and Youdao, can be used to search for Chinese-language content that may not be available through Western search engines.

Monitor social media: Social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo are popular in China and can provide valuable insights into Chinese social and political issues. Researchers can use tools like WeiboScope to monitor these platforms and identify trends and patterns.

Work with local contacts: Having local contacts can be invaluable when conducting OSINT research on the Chinese internet. These contacts can provide insights into local issues and help researchers navigate the Chinese internet and proper slang.

Examples of OSINT tools for searching the Chinese internet include:

Xi on China's Economic Challenges and Policy Responses

On February 15, the Communist Party journal Qiushi published an article by Xi Jinping: "Major Issues in Current Economic Work" . A translation of the article is below.

The article is based on Xi's speech at the Central Economic Work Conference in December. It identifies China's most significant economic challenges and calls for a suite of policy initiatives and measures to address them, as outlined in its subsection headings (bold by me):

1. Strive to expand domestic demand

2. Accelerate the development of a modern industrial system

3. Implement the “Two Unswervings” earnestly

4. Attract and utilise foreign investment with greater efforts

5. Prevent and resolve major economic and financial risks effectively


Major Issues in Current Economic Work

Author: Xi Jinping

Published: February 15, 2023

The following year’s economic work will be complex. We must take a strategic and comprehensive approach, focusing on critical challenges and starting with specific measures to improve social and psychological expectations for development. We must prioritise the major elements below and ensure they are thoroughly planned and successfully executed across the board.

1. Strive to expand domestic demand

High Cost of Taiwan Invasion Will Dissuade China, Pentagon Official Says

John Grady

Taiwanese Marines on Jan. 11, 2023. Taiwan Ministry of National Defense Photo

China will not attempt to invade Taiwan before the end of the decade because it understands the high cost, the senior Pentagon official in charge of Indo-Pacific security said Thursday.

“Deterrence is real; deterrence is strong” today and tomorrow, said Ely Ratner, the assistant secretary for the Indo-Pacific. The United States can likely deter Beijing from attacking the self-governing island 100 miles off the Chinese coast, he said.

Speaking at a Hudson Institute event Thursday, Ratner cited the administration’s position that the Peoples Republic of China “is the only country with the capability and intent to overthrow the international order.”

But in the past year, Washington, its allies and partners have built-up capabilities to “ensure that kind of coercion and bullying” – from threats of attack to interfering with transiting aircraft and shipping – doesn’t succeed, he said.

Ratner termed what’s happening regionally “as a breakthrough year for alliances and partnerships” in countering China’s military and territorial ambitions. He pointed to Japan’s decision to ramp up defense spending and work on counter-strike weapons, the agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines on establishing four new sites in the island republic for U.S. forces and the progress on the technology sharing agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

He also cited the “new technology dialogue” with India that will lead to more co-development and co-production activities “that make our defense industrial bases more compatible.”

Ratner’s comments come after Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl testified before the House Armed Services Committee this week that he does not think China will attempt to invade Taiwan before 2027.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also does not see an imminent Chinese threat to Taiwan, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said Thursday during a press briefing.

China Increasingly Seen as Antagonist in Diplomatic Talks Around the World

Edward Wong

Tensions over China arise in many gatherings of global leaders and diplomats, as Beijing increasingly plays a spoiler role, often siding with Russia.

A worker moving a Chinese national flag before the opening session of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi on Thursday.Credit...Manish Swarup/Associated Press

NEW DELHI — When the top diplomats of four major Asia-Pacific nations met here in the Indian capital on Friday to discuss issues in the region, one had a direct message for the behemoth whose shadow loomed over the talk.

China must “act under the international institutions, standards and laws” to avoid conflict, Yoshimasa Hayashi, the foreign minister of Japan, said on a public panel that included his counterparts from the United States, India and Australia.

That request is one that every official on that stage has made on many occasions. Although Russia’s war in Ukraine has dominated diplomatic dialogue around the globe this past year, the dilemma of dealing with an increasingly assertive China is ever-present — and for many nations, a thornier problem than relations with Moscow. They subscribe to the framing that President Biden and his aides have presented: China is the greatest long-term challenge, and the one nation with the power and resources to reshape the American-led order to its advantage.

At the heart of this predicament is the fact that the United States and its allies maintain deep trade ties with China even as their security concerns and ideological friction with the nation’s leader, Xi Jinping, and the Chinese Communist Party escalate.

Losses ‘ghastly’ in war game; China seen losing

A war game by a Japanese think tank simulating a Chinese invasion of Taiwan resulted in a defeat for Beijing, with ghastly losses of troops and equipment on both sides, the Nikkei Asia magazine reported yesterday.

The tabletop simulation conducted by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation envisioned the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launching an amphibious attack on Taiwan in 2026 against the combined forces of Taiwan, Japan and the US, it said.

The exercise was conducted over four days through Jan. 21, with close to 30 participants, including retired Japanese military officers, and academics and researchers from the US and Japan, it said.

The army’s 564 Armored Brigade poses with the national flag in Kaohsiung on Jan. 11.

The Chinese offensive failed to seize Taiwan after a two-week struggle that cost the PLA 156 warships, including two aircraft carriers, 168 fighter jets, 48 transport aircraft and more than 40,000 soldiers killed or wounded, it said.

The victory came at a heavy price for the defending forces, who lost more than 26,000 military personnel, scores of warships and hundreds of aircraft, the report said.

The exercise had a PLA command center for the Taiwan front that was capable of deploying all of China’s aircraft, submarines and surface combat capabilities, it said.

In response, the US sent two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and advanced stealth fighter jets to the theater, while Tokyo permitted the US to operate from Japan Self-Defense Forces bases and civilian airports on Okinawa and Kyushu after invoking a state of emergency, the report said.

After detecting Chinese plans to attack its military bases being used by the US, Japan designated the conflict as an existential threat, prompting Japanese F-35s and warships to join the US in launching missile attacks against the PLA, it said.

The US and Japanese forces overwhelmed China’s, cutting the PLA’s supply lines before seizing control of the airspace over Taiwan in a decisive blow that terminated the battle, it said.

The exercise ended with casualties among Taiwan’s armed forces totaling 13,000 killed, wounded or captured, while 18 warships and 200 warplanes were lost.

The Weapons That Win World Wars

Asymmetric advantages disappear when the gloves come off.
The Keys to Winning High Intensity Conflicts

In a previous post, I covered what the US military is doing to counter China. Both countries have a relatively short-term view of hostilities, opting for complicated weapons and platforms that take years to build. But what happens if a war breaks out and both sides want to keep fighting? The munitions, ships, and planes required might be very different.
Maximizing Destruction Per Dollar

Several useful strategies emerge when fighting an existential war.

Cheap Precision

In total war, boutique weapons won't be able to destroy enough enemies even if they are tactically successful. It is also challenging to produce and transport the mind-boggling mass inaccurate weapons require. The sweet spot is accurate but cheap weapons. These can be classic smart weapons like GPS-gravity bombs but also include an Abrams tank that can reliably kill adversaries 3000 meters away with unguided shells.

Avoid Unreliable Systems

An enemy can grind unreliable weapons into the ground by forcing a high tempo. The twenty US B-2 Bombers could deliver a one-time nuclear strike but could not eliminate thousands of Chinese ships, bases, and troop concentrations because of their low sortie rate and limited numbers.

Manage Survivability vs. Expendability Carefully

There are many tradeoffs when designing weapons. The math tends to push design choices towards cheap, less survivable systems or pricier, long-lasting ones. Survivability can come from the ability to take damage (like having armor) or from deception (stealth, electronic interference, speed).

The cheap system could lack the capability to score any kill against superior weapons or end up still being too expensive. The expensive one could be more vulnerable or less effective than hoped. What capabilities a country has and its strategic position matter when choosing.

Blundering Into Baghdad The Right—and Wrong—Lessons of the Iraq War

Hal Brands

“The whole horrible truth about the war is being revealed,” wrote the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in 1923, just five years after World War I had ended. “Every new book destroys some further illusion. How can we ever again believe anything?” Americans had once hoped that the Great War would make the world safe for democracy. But by the 1920s, a darker interpretation held sway. Revisionist scholars argued that the Allies were just as responsible for starting the war as the Germans were. They contended that the conflict had simply empowered one set of voracious empires at the expense of another. Most

Cybersecurity, surveillance, and military retaliation: Why some balloons bust–and others don’t

Kathryn Hedgecock, Lauren Sukin

The Chinese surveillance balloon that began drifting across the United States on January 28 prompted headlines suggesting the incident was a foreboding indicator of malign United States-China competition. Some scholars, however, emphasized that these assertions were nothing but hot air. After all, the balloon is one of several that have been detected in the United States airspace since 2017, and merely a physical manifestation of an ongoing trend of Chinese espionage that is often much more clandestine.

So, what was it about this particular incident that generated such swift, bipartisan calls for a military response? Our recently-published research shows that it was more likely the unequivocal, timely public attribution of this surveillance balloon to its country of origin (China), rather than the actual effects of the surveillance or the more unusual means of its collection.

How valuable is surveillance? China is believed to have used surveillance balloons to collect intelligence for the past several years, though the origin of the balloon program has yet to be disclosed. These balloons have been observed in American airspace before–including four times during the Trump administration–as well as in airspaces throughout the world. China is not the only country to use this technology. In early February, South Korea also spotted a North Korean surveillance balloon over its territory.

Importantly, balloons are just one of many surveillance technologies designed to intercept electronic signals and communication. States routinely run cyber espionage operations. In most cases, the information gleaned by these cyber operations—though they vary in their size and effects—is much more consequential than what could be detected with a simple balloon. Several major, Chinese-sponsored cyber operations have been discovered in United States networks.

The role of cyber weapons in Russia's war on Ukraine

Jenna McLaughlin

A year after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Russian cyber war many had expected has not quite materialized, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been a key piece of the story. NPR's cyber security correspondent Jenna McLaughlin spoke with over a dozen intelligence analysts who've studied the role that cyber weapons have played in the conflict and how those lessons might be applied to future wars.

JENNA MCLAUGHLIN, BYLINE: On a recent chilly winter afternoon, I made my way to DuPont Circle to visit the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. I met there with a contemplative man wearing glasses and a hoodie.

JUAN ANDRES GUERRERO‑SAADE: So my name is Juan Andres Guerrero‑Saade. Most people call me JAGS because that's a mouthful.

MCLAUGHLIN: Juan, or JAGS, has been following Russian hackers for years. His rolled-up sleeves reveal tattooed lines of digital code. He remembers the confusing, tense days before the invasion, because for the cybersecurity community, that's when the war really began.

GUERRERO-SAADE: The cybersecurity space, threat intelligence space was involved in analyzing the components of the Russian invasion hours before other people had even accepted that the invasion was happening. I mean...

MCLAUGHLIN: JAGS, who's with the cybersecurity firm SentinelOne, speaks quickly and eagerly about that time, full of technical detail and personal memories.

GUERRERO-SAADE: I remember being in a painfully boring corporate, you know, conference, some sales kickoff event. And I believe colleagues just posted like a malware hash on Twitter, and it just changed the rest of our day completely. My whole team, we were, you know, ordering Chinese food in some room somewhere until 6 o'clock in the morning, analyzing malware.

MCLAUGHLIN: Those early days were fraught. Russia was creating chaos in cyberspace, but they didn't shut down whole cities with cyberattacks. And a whole year later, that remains the case. So has cyber really been important if the ultimate impact has been limited? Brad Smith, the vice chair and president of Microsoft, says yes.

Battle For Bakhmut: Russian Army’s ‘Military Manual’ To Win The Highly Contested Region ‘Seized’ By Ukraine?

Russian military appears to be adopting a new tactical-level organizational structure to break through the Ukrainian defensive lines in eastern Ukraine, as per a Russian Army manual ‘captured’ by Ukraine’s military.

The documents were shared by a famous Twitter handle named @Tatarigami_UA, belonging to a Ukrainian Army reserve officer. He is known to be deployed near the frontlines in Vuhledar.

The documents, according to @Tatarigami_UA, describe a new organizational structure called the Assault Detachments, which involve infantry advancing on foot, supported by armored vehicles on their flanks.

Theoretically, such an organizational structure is believed to offer lower-level officials more means to carry out battlefield tasks instead of depending on assets controlled by higher-echelon leaders.

Battalion Tactical Group

Russian military relied on the organizational structure of battalion tactical groups (BTG), which entailed every regiment or brigade pooling its equipment to form two or three reinforced BTGs centered around mechanized infantry backed by a tank company and two or three artillery batteries.

However, these BTGs did not enjoy much success in the large-scale multi-pronged invasion, as they were heavy on vehicles and long-range firepower but lacked the infantry to protect these assets, which was reflective of the Russian Army’s intention to bombard Ukrainian positions from long distances, instead of engaging in close combat battles.

The lack of infantry cover and the failure to secure the urban terrain before penetrating with armored vehicles allowed Ukrainian troops to get into good positions for ambushing the Russian armored columns with anti-tank guided munitions (ATGMs).

Also, the massive multi-pronged assault on Ukraine created long supply lines vulnerable to Ukrainian interdiction, which led several Russian vehicles to run out of fuel and spares, forcing their crew to abandon them.

The failure appears to have led the Russian military to reconsider its BTG concept. This is possibly why the Russian Army looks different in 2023 than the one that invaded Ukraine a year earlier.

One Year Later In Ukraine: Washington And NATO Got It Very Wrong – Analysis

Ryan McMaken*

It’s been a year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In spite of claims from the regime and its media allies that Russia was the next Third Reich and would soon roll through half of Europe, it turns out that was never even remotely true.

In fact, things have unfolded more or less just like we predicted here at mises.org: the Russians aren’t even close to occupying any place in Europe beyond eastern Ukraine. It’s not Munich 1938. Economic sanctions have not crippled the Russian regime. Most of the world remains ambivalent on the conflict. The conflict will likely end with a negotiated settlement—contrary to what the Washington wants.

The fact is that in spite of the United States’ and North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) efforts to turn Ukraine into World War III, the war in Ukraine remains a regional conflict. It seems most of the world is uninterested in making sacrifices to carry out US policy in Ukraine and that many see the inherent hypocrisy behind US talk about respecting national sovereignty.

There’s also an important lesson here about listening to the war maximalists who incessantly promote full-scale war as the “solution” to every international crisis. The US clearly wants to fight the war to the last Ukrainian, in what the US is packaging as a global crusade in the style of World War II. But, it seems now that more pragmatic thinkers—i.e., the French and the Germans—recognize that negotiations are the more humane solution.

They Wanted a “Munich Moment”

Within days of the Russian invasion, the Western global hegemonists got to work claiming the invasion was essentially a war of global conquest. For instance, Matthew Kroenig in Foreign Policy stated that Vladimir Putin had shown a clear interest in “resurrecting the former Russian Empire, and other vulnerable Eastern European countries—Poland, Romania, or the Baltic states—might be next.” Kroenig immediately concluded that the US’s military budget should be doubled.

Russia will be out of 'military tools' by spring, Ukraine's top military spy says

Kim Hjelmgaard

KYIV, Ukraine – Russia will run out of "military tools" to achieve its war aims in Ukraine by the end of the spring, Ukraine's top military intelligence official predicted in a USA TODAY interview.

Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov's forecast comes amid considerable uncertainty about what the next phase of the war will look like as it moves into its second year. For weeks, Ukrainian officials had signaled that Russia was planning a major new offensive to coincide with the one-year anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. A notable new offensive has yet to materialize.

"Russia has wasted huge amounts of human resources, armaments and materials. Its economy and production are not able to cover these losses. It's changed its military chain of command. If Russia's military fails in its aims this spring, it will be out of military tools," Budanov said in his heavily guarded, fortified Kyiv office, which he shares with two pet frogs, poisonous-gas detecting canaries and a range of ammunitions.

Budanov further predicted that Ukraine and Russia would fight "a decisive battle this spring, and this battle will be the final one before this war ends." He did not provide any specific evidence to back up his claims. And it's important to note that Moscow and Kyiv are involved in an intense information war as well as fighting on the battlefield. Some military experts have cautioned that both sides need to be prepared for a long fight.

"Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has belied many expectations, to say nothing of predictions. Still, this much, at least, can be said with certainty: We are nowhere near the end of this war. Despite mounting calls for a diplomatic settlement, no such breakthrough is on the horizon. Russia and Ukraine both continue to believe they will prevail if they keep fighting. No mediator can break this impasse," Rajan Menon and Benjamin H. Friedman, of the Washington, D.C.-based Defense Priorities think tank, said in a joint statement last week, a year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Why Is Trincomalee Port Still Undeveloped?

P.K. Balachandran

The natural endowments and strategic value of Trincomalee harbor in eastern Sri Lanka have been well known for a long time. Yet, to date, very little concrete action has been taken to develop and use the port. 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 Asian Development Bank 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 natural harbor in the South Asian subcontinent.

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 and 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.

As war clouds gathered in the 1930s, the British turned Trincomalee into an energy hub and built 101 giant oil tanks. Wanting to retain their security assets on the island even after Sri Lanka’s independence, they took the precaution of entering into a Defense Pact in 1947. After these assets were taken back by the nationalist government of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1957, Trincomalee port and the oil tanks fell into disuse. Successive Sri Lankan governments concentrated on the development of the western coast and the Colombo port for political and logistical reasons.

It’s Time to Appoint a US Special Envoy for Semiconductors

Alexandra Seymour

A seismic shift in U.S. semiconductor strategy is at risk of short-circuiting. The cause? Disconnected diplomacy.

Semiconductors emerged from relative obscurity to the top of national security-related policy discussions last year, such that they were highlighted in U.S. President Joe Biden’s most recent State of the Union address. However, though messaging is forefront, it is not coordinated. Like the semiconductor supply chain, this issue is complex, with both domestic and international implications.

A successful U.S. semiconductor strategy, therefore, requires a special envoy for semiconductors.

Think about it: For an issue that is a top priority for the United States, messaging comes from the Commerce Department, State Department, and the White House, with no clear line of responsibility. While the United States created a special envoy for critical and emerging technology, this position has a broader mission, which includes biotechnology, AI, and quantum. Semiconductors are important enough to warrant a dedicated person at the State Department.

In the absence of a gatekeeper, the United States has still moved ambitiously in the past year to secure semiconductor advancements. In August 2022, national security imperatives enabled bipartisan passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, which includes $52 billion worth of investments for onshoring semiconductor manufacturing. Following this, Washington unleashed its most aggressive export controls on China yet. The October 7 rules cut off access to high-end chips that could accelerate China’s military capabilities, and they included notable restrictions on U.S. persons who help support chip development and production.

How Open-Source Intelligence is Transforming the Conflict in Ukraine

Alexander Gale

The conflict in Ukraine has seen an uptake in the use of open-source intelligence (OSINT). Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters / Wikimedia Commons CC0

The use of Open-source intelligence, known to practitioners as OSINT, in Ukraine, is transforming the way information and intelligence are collected, analyzed, produced, and disseminated.

Although intelligence has been a crucial element of warfare since time immemorial, the increasingly widespread availability of open-source intelligence tools to civilians is dramatically changing the intelligence landscape.

In Ukraine, OSINT has been used to predict attacks, track troop movements, document alleged war crimes, and provide up-to-date live coverage of events. For intelligence agencies, the rising prevalence of OSINT poses opportunities and difficulties. Given the high intensity and significant geopolitical consequences posed by the war in Ukraine, the conflict will set new precedents for the use of OSINT and intelligence in the future.

What is OSINT?

According to the European Union’s definition, “Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is the practice of collecting and analyzing information gathered from open sources to produce actionable intelligence.”

Open sources are those which are publically available. Social media content and imagery provided by commercial satellites are among the most common sources of OSINT.

OSINT analysts often work in the private sector for commercial firms. A niche community of amateur enthusiasts is also active online and often share their output on social media sites like Twitter.

National intelligence services are likewise heavily involved in the collection, processing, and analysis of OSINT, which is used in combination with more traditional forms of intelligence like human intelligence (HUMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT).

The potential usefulness of open-source intelligence in the Ukraine war became immediately evident at the outset of the conflict.

A Private Company Is Using Social Media to Track Down Russian Soldiers

Jack Hewson

On Oct. 12, 2022, Russian soldier Aleksey Lebedev logged onto VKontakte, Russia’s most popular social network, and uploaded a photo of himself in military fatigues crouching in a large white tent. He had been smart enough to obscure his face with a balaclava, but unfortunately for Lebedev and his comrades, he did not obscure the exact location from which he had posted: Svobodne village in southern Donetsk.

Lebedev’s post was picked up by a Ukrainian military investigations company called Molfar. This lead was transferred to an analyst in its open-source intelligence (OSINT) branch, and investigators spent the next few hours constructing a target location profile for Lebedev and his military unit. The unit’s location was believed to be a training base for Russian and pro-Russian separatist troops. After discovering two other photos posted from the same location by pro-Russian servicemen—as well as other corroborating evidence, which was shared with Foreign Policy—Molfar passed its findings onto Ukrainian intelligence.

Two days later, according to Molfar, explosions and “fireworks” were observed at the site of Lebedev’s selfie, approximately 40 miles behind Russian lines. On its Telegram channel, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported the attack. It is unknown how many casualties were sustained during the blasts. Lebedev deleted his original photo afterward, indicating he survived the explosions. Molfar said that, based on his VKontakte posts, it appears that Lebedev has continued to fight Ukrainian forces, though he is now wise enough not to include his geolocation data.

A Lack of Machine Tools Is Holding Back Ammo Production, Army Says


A lack of machine tools is constraining the United State's ability to ramp up ammunition transfers to Ukraine, the Army's top weapons buyer said March 3.

The timeline for acquiring new machine tools “are often the long poles in the tent on getting capacity increased,” said Douglas Bush, assistant Army secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. “These machines are the size of buildings. You don’t just go buy it from a parking lot somewhere.”

U.S. and allied production of artillery ammunition has emerged as a key problem in supplying Ukraine, which burns through thousands of shells a day fighting Russia’s invasion. Ukraine may lose the war if it doesn’t receive enough supplies, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrel said Feb. 20.

Obtaining the raw materials might be a problem eventually, but not yet, Bush said at an event held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The U.S. already maintains large stockpiles of some key raw materials, such as the precursor chemicals for explosives, Bush said. But how much of other raw materials the U.S. should keep in reserve is an open question. “The issue is really stockpiling, Bush said, “It’s really a question of how much you can afford to do.”

The U.S. has no shortage of raw materials used for artillery shell manufacture, Bush added, citing more than adequate supplies of steel.

Bush also pointed to allied production capabilities as potentially taking the stress off of U.S. manufacturing, noting Polish interest in manufacturing the Javelin—an anti-tank guided missile—and Australian interest in manufacturing precision-guided munitions.

Energy and climate challenges will continue in 2023

Samantha Gross 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago turned global energy markets upside down. Although oil and gas prices have come down from their highest points and energy issues have faded somewhat from the news, the effects of the war in Ukraine on energy will continue and evolve in 2023.

Western oil consumers are trying a new tactic in response to Russia’s aggression — weaponizing their collective energy demand by sanctioning Russian oil and oil products. Not only have Western buyers pledged not to buy Russian oil, but their insurance and shipping companies are forbidden to insure or carry Russian oil unless it is sold below a specified price cap. This is a unique response to a specific problem — the world wants Russian oil supply to keep prices reasonable, but also wants to cut an important source of financing for Russia’s war machine. The measures’ effectiveness is not yet clear. The cap on oil products, which just came into effect in early February,[1] is likely to have greater effect through 2023, as global diesel supplies tighten further, and Russia reduces refinery runs in response to falling demand for its products.

The world’s first global natural gas crisis will continue, and perhaps worsen, during 2023. Before the war, Russia supplied nearly 40% of Europe’s natural gas, but it has now nearly cut off supply in an attempt to weaken Europe’s support for Ukraine in the war.[2] Liquified natural gas (LNG) has been a lifeline for Europe, but LNG markets have also spread the crisis globally, as Europe has pulled supply away from other consumers. Warm weather and conservation efforts have also helped Europe get through this winter without crisis, but next winter is likely to be more difficult. Demand for LNG will rise as China’s economy recovers and no significant new LNG supply will come online in 2023, making for tight markets and high prices. Europe should be pleased with its situation today but must continue efforts to conserve natural gas through next winter at least.

If the current energy market challenges have a silver lining, it is that they have clarified the need to feed the energy system we have today as we work to transform the system to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. The energy system cannot change overnight, and governments must consider future-friendly ways to meet today’s demand.

The government cannot win at cyber warfare without the private sector


The American and Chinese flags wave at Genting Snow Park ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 2, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China. Hackers working on behalf of the Chinese government broke into the computer networks of at least six state governments in the United States in the past year, according to a report released by a private cybersecurity firm. The report from Mandiant does not identify the hacked agencies or offer a motive for the intrusions, which began last May and continued through the last month.

On Feb. 17, the FBI announced that it is investigating a hack of its computer network. This hacking follows a 2020 Russian cyber espionage operation on many federal networks, a 2015 Chinese hacking of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that led to the theft of scores of employee records, and countless others that occurred in between. Digital dictatorships around the world, such as China and Russia, control and oppress their own people, to be sure, enabled by advanced and sophisticated high technology, but they also pose a direct threat to security and interests of the democratic world.

The hacking threat emanating from these two countries cannot be overstated. According to the U.S. Intelligence Community’s 2021 Annual Threat Assessment, “China can launch cyber attacks that, at a minimum, can cause localized, temporary disruptions to critical infrastructure within the United States,” while Russia “continues to target critical infrastructure, including underwater cables and industrial control systems, in the United States and in allied and partner countries.”

The Biden administration recognizes the scope of this issue and has made cyber attacks a major diplomatic front, but the executive and legislative branches have done little to stop these attacks. The government agencies charged with deterring and defeating this threat are not properly equipped for the task, and there is a lack of consensus about which methods will be most effective for countering digital dictatorship. That needs to change.