5 April 2023

From Babri to Mumbai and Beyond: India’s Journey Into Darkness

Ajai Sahni

There is a clear continuum from the events that led up to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 to the looming darkness that confronts India today. But it’s not what you think.

1992 was an age of incoherence in India. A succession of weak, fractious, inept, and short-lived governments had pushed the country to the brink of bankruptcy and chaos. A fledgling Congress Party-led coalition under the leadership of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao was struggling to consolidate its position in Parliament and the administration, and to restore economic stability through a slew of reforms.

There were raging insurgencies in multiple theaters across India, the worst of these in Punjab, where a total of 3,883 people lost their lives in 1992 to a Sikh separatist movement before it was defeated, abruptly and comprehensively, the following year. In the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, Islamist separatist terrorism backed by Pakistan resulted in 1,909 fatalities; multiple insurgencies in India’s Northeast saw 492 killed. Another 788 persons were killed in a widening Naxalite (left-wing extremist) rebellion along India’s eastern board, spanning large areas from Andhra Pradesh to Bihar. The combined toll of all such violence was 7,072 fatalities in 1992 (all data from the South Asia Terrorism Portal).

OneWeb Launch an Important Success for India’s Space Program

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

On March 26, India’s civil space organization, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) carried out a successful launch of 36 satellites, weighing 5,805 kg, into orbit. The satellites, belonging to the U.K.-based company, OneWeb, were launched using the LVM3 launch vehicle, what used to be called the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III, a three-stage medium-lift launch vehicle developed by the ISRO.

An ISRO press release said that with this launch, NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of the ISRO that entered into a contract with the OneWeb, has “successfully executed” the launch of OneWeb’s 72 satellites to Low Earth Orbit. OneWeb later confirmed acquiring signals from the 36 new satellites. This is the second time that OneWeb has contracted the NSIL to launch its satellites. With the satellite launch in March, OneWeb’s satellite constellation now has a total of 618 satellites. OneWeb is preparing to launch its global services soon, providing connectivity for governments, businesses, and others. OneWeb notes the enormous ability of the LEO-based satellites to offer high-speed, low latency solutions across the world, involving not only business communities but “towns, villages, municipalities and schools, including the hardest-to-reach areas across the country.”

Understanding the Indo-Pacific: The Island Way


In the last decade, governments around the world have determined that the next major geopolitical shift will emerge and be decided in the Indo-Pacific. The United States, China, India, and others have crafted maritime strategies toward the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Developments in and around the island nations in these oceans—from Sri Lanka to the Solomon Islands—are therefore important to great power competition in the twenty-first century. But these island nations are often ignored. They are not at the forefront of shaping the Indo-Pacific agenda, despite it being very much about and influenced by them.

In an effort to better study the perspectives and ideas of leaders and policymakers from island nations, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Tokyo hosted “Ocean Nations: The 2nd Annual Indo-Pacific Islands Dialogue” in September 2022. This article is based on the conversations, discussions, and themes that emerged from the event.


The second Islands Dialogue took place before the historic U.S.-Pacific Islands summit hosted by the White House in September 2022. As a Pacific power, the United States has great stakes and interests in the Pacific Ocean. However, this was Washington’s first initiative to host leaders of Pacific Island nations at the summit level. The engagement was understood to be accelerated by an agreement inked between China and the Solomon Islands earlier that year. Such developments contributed to discussions at the Islands Dialogue about how islands are often viewed through the lenses of great power competition and strategic rivalry.

Is the Chinese Dream Turning into a Chinese Nightmare for Beijing?

Ronald H. Linden

Far from being astride the globe, the “China Dream” globally—China’s economic power, political attraction, and standing—are all eroding.

The question “are the United States and China in a new cold war?” is not particularly challenging. The answer is yes. A more intriguing question might be, “can the United States and China avoid the mistakes of the previous Cold War?”

One of these mistakes was a fear-driven credulousness; a tendency to take all boasts and claims of the rival power (think Nikita Khrushchev’s pronouncement of “We will bury you!”) as accurate, and in doing so, miss a chance to craft sensible, non-escalatory responses. Currently, after Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow and boasts about China being ready to “stand guard over the world order,” it might be worth taking a closer look at China’s foreign policy environment. Do its boasts match reality, or is China’s global position weakening like a seaside home at high tide?

Far from being astride the globe, the “China Dream” globally—China’s economic power, political attraction, and standing—are all eroding. Several key indicators reveal that, in the epic clash with the United States and the “collective West,” China is weaker than at any time in the last ten years.

It’s time for a reckoning with Chinese big tech

It has been a bumpy week for China’s beleaguered technology giants. They are under increasing scrutiny overseas, and the communist party continues to tighten the screws on them at home. In many ways they are also their own worst enemies.

The UK has become the latest government to ban the Chinese-owned TikTok from government devices over security concerns. Parliament has also banned the app from its network. This follows similar bans from the European Union and 11 countries, including France, New Zealand, Denmark and the US. Western lawmakers are unconvinced by TikTok’s often cack-handed attempts to distance itself from its Chinese parent, ByteDance, and that company’s obligations to the Chinese communist party.

TikTok called Parliament’s move ‘misguided,’ and said it was ‘based on fundamental misconceptions about our company’.

But for Alicia Kearns, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, it was just a start. ‘It was a relief to see it happen,’ she told me. ‘It should have been a wider ban, and the reality is we are still not acting effectively enough on tech-authoritarianism.’ TikTok has spent lavishly on expensive lobbyists and lawyers to press its case and pounce on any criticism in western capitals. But on the evidence so far, it has not been money well spent.

In Washington, TikTok’s lacklustre CEO, Shou Zi Chew, faced hostile questioning from US lawmakers. ‘Let me state this unequivocally, ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,’ he claimed to widespread scepticism.

China Has Been Waging a Decades-Long, All-Out Spy War

Calder Walton

One week ago, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was questioned by members of the U.S. Congress, before the world’s media, about whether the Chinese government uses the wildly popular video-sharing app to spy on Americans. His testimony came several weeks after the appearance of a Chinese spy balloon floating across the United States. What are we to make of these two stories, which are at their core both about Chinese espionage?

To borrow a phrase from Mission: Impossible: Relax, it’s much worse than you think. We are now witnessing some of the effects of a decision made years ago by China to use every means and medium of intelligence-gathering at its disposal against the West. Its strategy can be summarized in three words: collect, collect, collect. Most Westerners do not yet appreciate just how sweeping China’s intelligence onslaught directed at their countries is; for decades, their own governments likewise didn’t understand because their attention was largely directed elsewhere.

After 9/11, the U.S. intelligence community was overwhelmingly geared toward counterterrorism. U.S. spy chiefs followed priorities for this agenda set by decision-makers in Washington. The U.S. government’s strategic focus on combating terrorism took place at the expense of focusing on resurgent states such as China and Russia. As we pass the 20th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, it is useful to understand how China’s intelligence and national security establishment reacted at the time.

The strategy that China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), its principal civilian intelligence service, took toward the United States after 9/11 followed a Chinese saying, ge an guan huo, which roughly translates as “watch the fires burn from the safety of the opposite river bank, which allows you to avoid entering the battle until your enemy is exhausted.” The MSS followed this saying to a T. Its long-term aim was to contain the United States, and then supplant it, in Southeast Asia. As the United States was mired in the Middle East, the gains being made by the MSS went by largely undetected or appreciated by U.S. intelligence.

‘When China Attacks’ – and the US goes down to defeat


“It’s a year or two from now” and here’s what we see: explosions at Pearl Harbor and nearby Hickam Air Force Base, a drone attack at Naval Base San Diego, the collision of a Chinese-crewed fishing vessel with a US oil tanker departing Hawaii for the Western Pacific. Meanwhile, “the People’s Liberation Army is ashore on Taiwan in large numbers.”

Its internet and other communications down, Taiwan is cut off from the world. The US government is caught flat-footed. The Marines never make it to Taiwan and US Navy ships on their way from Singapore, Guam and even West Coast ports are hit by missiles before they have time to react. Chinese special forces launch attacks in Hawaii, Guam and Japan.

“Taiwan realizes no help is coming. It sues for terms and gives up. Immediately, the rest of Asia gets the message.” The reputation of the US has been shredded. Its First Island Chain of defense in the Western Pacific is broken. China can no longer be contained and it will not stop at Taiwan.

This fictional “informed speculation” kicks off Grant Newsham’s new book “When China Attacks: A Warning to America.” It is a wake-up call for anyone who thinks the dispute between the US and China can be solved by reasonable discussion.

Mitigating the risks of an unconstrained Iranian nuclear programme

The United States withdrew in 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Since then, Iran has taken steps that will allow it to build one or more nuclear weapons, should it choose to do so. Such a decision could lead to a series of potentially dangerous consequences, including further nuclear proliferation in the Gulf region and the potential for a wider regional war. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, in the meantime, have already begun to react to what they see as an inevitable outcome – a nuclear-capable Iran – and are reorganising their economic, military and diplomatic relations accordingly. The Gulf preference now is a coordinated policy of deterrence, containment and engagement. This opens the door for possible engagement from other states, such as the United Kingdom, to encourage further convergence among the GCC states on threat perceptions and policies to deal with Iran moving forward.

This report explores the options and tools available to the United Kingdom to mitigate the threats posed by an unconstrained Iranian nuclear programme in conjunction with its regional partners, especially the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).1 The United States’ and Israel’s options for addressing Iran’s nuclear programme have been analysed in depth elsewhere, and the IISS has a separate project to examine options regarding Iran’s development of increasingly long-range, high-precision, nuclear-capable missiles. In contrast, the perspectives of the regional states and the opportunities and challenges presented by their policy preferences remain largely absent from the discussion. The report addresses this gap by focusing on the perceptions and policy preferences of the GCC states and the policy options available to the UK. IISS analysts investigated the differences between the regional partners’ respective preferences through interviews and workshops with government officials and experts in defence, foreign policy, non-proliferation and international relations from across the six GCC states, and by examining recent developments in diplomacy, military acquisitions, the growth of economic ties and the implementation of sanctions. The report maps the collected threat perceptions and policy preferences of the GCC states and identifies policy tools and likely regional reactions, given the GCC states’ emerging preferences and the regional security situation.

Ensuring America Wins Tech Race Against China

Saxby Chambliss, Kent Conrad

It is imperative for lawmakers to focus on enacting policies that promote innovation and ensure our brightest minds in the public and private sectors have the runway they need to pioneer the cutting-edge breakthroughs of tomorrow.

The United States is in danger of losing the tech race to China.

Two weeks ago, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) issued a startling report revealing that China is leading the United States in researching and developing thirty-seven of forty-four critical or emerging technologies across key sectors, such as defense, space, artificial intelligence (AI), energy, environment, biotechnology, advanced materials, robotics, and quantum computing. The findings, which are the result of a year-long initiative in which ASPI examined 2.2 million data points, offer one of the clearest illustrations to date of China’s efforts to position itself as the global leader in science and technology.

This comes amid a collection of recent studies published over the past few years documenting China’s advances in technological innovation and research and development.

In December 2021, Harvard University’s Belfast Center warned that China is outpacing the U.S. in high-tech manufacturing and 5G and could soon overtake us in quantum computing. A study from The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence revealed that China is poised to overtake the United States as the world leader in AI by 2030. And earlier this year, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) issued an alarming report finding that China has now surpassed the United States in total innovation output and has already established itself as the world leader in the implementation of key, cutting-edge technologies.

America Must Avoid Losing Its Weapons in Ukraine Like It Did in Afghanistan

Wesley Satterwhite

American-supplied Stingers went missing after the Soviet-Afghan war and ended up in the wrong hands. The same cannot happen with Ukraine.

As the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine passed, there are promising signs that the war may soon end.

In something of a Christmas miracle, President Vladimir Putin made an advent day announcement that Russia is “prepared to negotiate some acceptable outcomes” in regard to the war. Last month, China announced its peace plan for the conflict, and President Xi Jinping visited Moscow to explore the plan’s feasibility.

Both Russia and Ukraine are locked in a bitter stalemate, with no real changes on the battlefield in recent months. Now seems to be the perfect time for some sort of ceasefire, armistice, or similar agreement.

As the momentum begins to shift, it is time to think about what will happen after the war. Specifically, billions of dollars’ worth of American military equipment will remain in a country rebuilding from war with the possibility of weak institutions, a pro-Russian insurgency, and occupied territories.

To date, the United States has given some $34 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, 48 percent of a total of $48 billion dollars in combined humanitarian and financial aid. Of the total military aid, $12.7 billion have been provided in the form of weapons and equipment from existing Department of Defense stocks, along with $1.3 billion in grants and loans to purchase more defense articles.

Biden’s State Department Needs a Reset

Stephen M. Walt

It is a truth universally acknowledged that America’s diplomatic institutions—and especially the State Department—are under-resourced. This truth is especially evident when you compare the State Department or Agency for International Development budgets with the money allocated to the Defense Department or the intelligence services. It’s even more obvious when you take America’s lofty global ambitions into account. It’s also a truism that the president’s time—and that of top cabinet officials such as Secretary of State Antony Blinken—is the scarcest resource of all.

If this is the case, then why-oh-why did the Biden administration devote any time at all to a second Summit for Democracy? It’s not just the time that U.S. President Joe Biden, Blinken, and other senior officials devoted to this talkfest. Putting something like this together also burned up hundreds of hours of staff time that might have been used to address other problems.

I raise this issue because the Biden administration took office vowing to put diplomacy at the center of U.S. foreign policy, yet it has relatively few diplomatic achievements to show for its first two-plus years. On the plus side, U.S. allies are far more comfortable with Biden and Blinken than they were with former President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and they’ve been willing to forgive some of the administration’s early blunders (such as the unnecessary snub of the French during the AUKUS submarine deal in 2021). But apart from improved optics, the administration’s diplomatic record is unimpressive.

Diplomats in Robes? The Supreme Court’s Unwelcome Forays Into Foreign Policy

Aziz Huq and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar

Last December, U.S. President Joe Biden sought to end a controversial immigration program put in place by his predecessor, Donald Trump. That scheme, known as Title 42, relied on an old public health statute to expel more than 2.4 million migrants, including thousands of unaccompanied minors, at the southern border. But before Biden could end Title 42, a coalition of Republican-led states petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and block the federal government from winding down the expulsions. Without any hearing, and despite grave doubts about whether these states even had the legal right to lodge such a challenge, the Court summarily agreed: it forced Biden to continue the Trump-era program, which remains in place to this day.

The Court’s ruling reflected a growing judicial habit of embracing aggressive legal interpretations to issue decisions that could significantly limit what the United States can and cannot do in the world. Led by the U.S. Supreme Court, domestic courts are poised to reshape the implementation of a vast array of laws and regulations critical to U.S. foreign policy, affecting migration, the treatment of people detained on terrorism-related grounds, and the authority of government agencies crucial to diplomatic initiatives related to health, environmental, and technology policy. This legal activism comes at a time when Congress has largely withdrawn from foreign policy and when the country’s polarization has made it difficult for federal lawmakers to approve new international agreements, especially Senate-ratified treaties, or major statutory changes. As a result, the Biden administration’s foreign policy priorities depend ever more on whether executive branch initiatives invite the scrutiny of an emboldened and antagonistic judiciary.

Global Technology Summit 2022 Action Points



Carnegie India, in collaboration with India’s Ministry of External Affairs, organized its seventh annual Global Technology Summit (GTS), themed “Geopolitics of Technology,” in New Delhi from November 29 to December 1, 2022.

The summit included a range of debates, panel discussions, and keynote addresses on diverse and cutting-edge topics, including digital infrastructures, digital public goods (DPGs), interoperability of cross-border payments, cybersecurity, quantum technology, semiconductors, biosafety and biosecurity, lessons from the war in Ukraine, geopolitics of data transfers, India’s growing space sector, and the India-U.S. tech alliance.

In addition to public sessions, the summit hosted several closed-door discussions on wide-ranging topics at the intersection of technology, finance, governance, and geopolitics, such as semiconductors, principles for real-time payment systems, principles for digital health architectures, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), safeguarding modern bioscience and biotechnology innovation, improving access to welfare through DPGs, and India’s Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022.

Some of these discussions weave directly into India’s Group of Twenty (G20) priorities, while others form a part of our research program.

Xi’s visit to Moscow exposed Russia’s weakness

The recent trip by the Chinese president highlighted the strained and asymmetrical nature of the relationship between Beijing and Moscow.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Moscow on 20–22 March 2023 was the first meeting of the two leaders that either has hosted since Russia’s second invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Despite the effusive public respect that always marks their summits, it revealed mismatches in power and interests exacerbated by war and exposed tension between Russia’s needs and China’s choices.

Russia’s war against Ukraine now dominates its resources and attention. Moscow is increasingly organising every aspect of domestic and foreign policy around this. The war has also laid bare Russia’s weakness in every domain of power: military, informational, cyber and economic. Russia is more diplomatically isolated and sanctioned than at any point during the Cold War and its leader is an indicted war criminal. Rarely has the test of war changed perceptions of a major power so quickly and drastically. With a diminished capacity and narrowed focus, Russia is behaving like a regional power.

By contrast, China has a global portfolio of major interests. Some it shares with Russia, especially the desire to form a bloc against Western power. They also share a paranoia of ‘colour revolution’ regime change – a concern highlighted in the joint statement that concluded Xi’s visit. To this end, China is now reportedly helping Russia to block YouTube, a major source of anti-war digital content.

Putin’s Shakespearean Demons

Robert D. Kaplan

Geopolitics will take you only so far in explaining foreign affairs. The more important element is Shakespearean. Ukraine is a perfect example.

Ukraine is engulfed by Russia on the north and east, its history and language entwined with its neighbor’s. But the greater part of the story concerns the personality of Vladimir Putin. The geopolitical argument that Mr. Putin invaded Ukraine because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was expanding completely disregards the Russian leader’s Shakespearean demons.

Mr. Putin’s decision to invade represented not the collective thinking of the Russian elite but his own thoughts. Many oligarchs and security heavies near him were as surprised by the decision as people in the West. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, pressed by an oligarch to explain how Mr. Putin could have planned such an invasion without his inner circle knowing, reportedly replied: “He has three advisers. Ivan the Terrible. Peter the Great. And Catherine the Great.”

Given Mr. Putin’s paranoia, isolation and delusions of grandeur, the question arises: Would Europe today be at peace with Mr. Putin’s Russia had NATO not expanded east after the Cold War and had there been a Western guarantee of recognizing Russian interests in Ukraine? Certainly not.

The Risks of the CHIPS Act No One’s Talking About

Howard W. French

For more than a decade, I have taught classes that try to cast light on the enormous challenges that so-called developing countries face as they seek to raise the standard of living of their people and hopefully become prosperous.

The fact is that, since the end of World War II, very few non-Western societies have joined the restricted circle of rich countries; so few of those nations are large ones that with little practice, one can easily reel off most of their names: Japan, South Korea, and for obvious special reasons, a handful of oil-rich states in the Middle East.

Across this time span, most of the world’s population has remained stuck with low per capita income or absolute poverty, with little obvious prospect of ever climbing out of this station. Members of another group of countries have enjoyed periods of remarkable economic advancement before regressing or just running in place, never quite making it to the dreamed-of winner’s circle, which one might think of as a virtual continent composed exclusively of countries whose citizens enjoy high average per capita income.

These countries are commonly said to be stuck in a so-called middle-income trap—and as disparate as they may at first seem, whether Brazil and the Soviet Union in the 1960s or (for many) China today, certain elements of their trajectories and of the strategies they have employed to sustain high growth have so much in common that they bear a close look as a group.

To launch their high-growth phases, most of these middle-income countries invested surpluses from agricultural exports in developing manufacturing. In an earlier age, this might have been textiles or processed foodstuffs. More recently, countries such as China launched their industrialization by focusing on relatively easy-to-master things like toy manufacturing using injection plastics or simple assembly processes, say, with basic electronics.

Ukraine War: Why Russian ‘Precision Strikes’ On Ukrainian Military Infra Are Failing To Hit The Bulls Eye

Ashish Dangwal

Russia has reportedly been facing challenges in carrying out precision missile attacks in the ongoing war with Ukraine due to the poor performance of its military and communication satellite systems.

According to a report, the issue is not related to the inadequacy of Russia’s orbital hardware. Russia has an extensive network with over 160 satellites orbiting the Earth, of which over 100 are military systems.

The report claims that Russia’s deficiency lies in the absence of an appropriate mix of satellites and a lack of ground systems and procedures necessary to receive and distribute data to those requiring it.

Russia reportedly lacks the reconnaissance capability necessary to carry out precision strikes despite having a network of several satellites in orbit.

The future of Russian satellite funding is uncertain, and investment in reconnaissance systems has been obstructed due to Western sanctions imposed after the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Furthermore, the shortage of satellite communication equipment for soldiers worsens Russia’s rigid and compartmentalized military command structure.

Japan Breaks With U.S. Allies, Buys Russian Oil at Prices Above Cap

Peter Landers

TOKYO—The U.S. has rallied its European allies behind a $60-a-barrel cap on purchases of Russian crude oil, but one of Washington’s closest allies in Asia is now buying oil at prices above the cap.

Japan got the U.S. to agree to the exception, saying it needed it to ensure access to Russian energy. The concession shows Japan’s reliance on Russia for fossil fuels, which analysts said contributed to a hesitancy in Tokyo to back Ukraine more fully in its war with Russia.

While many European countries have reduced their dependence on Russian energy supplies, Japan has stepped up its purchases of Russian natural gas over the past year. Japan is the only Group of Seven nation not to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was the last G-7 leader to visit Ukraine after Russia’s invasion.

Hosting Russian Nuclear Weapons Will Have Far-Reaching Consequences for Belarus

Artyom Shraibman

The fate of Belarus as a state is becoming increasingly tied to the outcome of a future peace settlement. It will be hard for any subsequent government in Minsk to distance itself from Russia economically and politically of its own accord. But once Belarus starts hosting Russian nuclear weapons, it will be downright impossible.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent announcement that Russia would station nuclear weapons in Belarus made global headlines, but in many ways it was entirely predictable. Moscow is escalating the conflict at a time when other efforts to convince the West to stop increasing its military aid to Ukraine have failed. After all, Western leaders have no choice but to take the nuclear threat seriously.

In addition, Russia is presenting the deployment not just as a decision made by both countries, but as a response to long-standing requests by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. This is Russia’s tried-and-tested way of showing respect for its ally, previously cited when dispatching Russian troops to Belarus for training exercises both last February—ahead of the invasion—and in October.

It’s not yet clear when Russian weapons could appear in Belarus. Putin said only that starting in April, Belarusian pilots will receive training in piloting planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and that a nuclear weapons storage facility will be built in Belarus by July 1. According to the Russian president, control of the weapons will not be handed over to Belarusian troops.

The War in Ukraine and the Way Forward

On 24 February 2022, conventional interstate conflict returned to Europe after Russia launched an unprovoked war against Ukraine. Although some predicted at the time that Kyiv would fall in a matter of days, the Ukrainian people continue to fight to defend their homeland and push Russia out. Their bravery and determination should be saluted, and the international community should continue to show solidarity towards Ukraine.

Russia’s invasion is a major breach of international law, specifically the principle that the borders of recognised states should not be changed by the force of arms. Ukrainians voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and the USSR’s
successor state, the Russian Federation, recognised Ukrainian independence in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Allowing Russia’s aggression to stand would weaken this principle and provide a precedent for other aggressive states to extend their frontiers by force.

It is unclear how much longer the war will last. Russia has remained committed to waging war against Ukraine, and Ukraine has ruled out any peace that does not involve the return of all its occupied provinces, including the province of Crimea. Furthermore, the land that Ukraine is seeking to free from Russian occupation is perceived by both sides as part of their national identity, but it remains Ukrainian under international law. This means that the chances for a sustainable peace deal are currently rather slim. The EU must therefore prepare for a protracted Russo-Ukrainian war, characterised by intermittent periods of escalation and de-escalation.

‘I’ve never seen anything like this:’ One of China’s most popular apps has the ability to spy on its users, say experts

Nectar Gan, Yong Xiong and Juliana Liu

It is one of China’s most popular shopping apps, selling clothing, groceries and just about everything else under the sun to more than 750 million users a month.

But according to cybersecurity researchers, it can also bypass users’ cell phone security to monitor activities on other apps, check notifications, read private messages and change settings.

And once installed, it’s tough to remove.

While many apps collect vast troves of user data, sometimes without explicit consent, experts say e-commerce giant Pinduoduo has taken violations of privacy and data security to the next level.

In a detailed investigation, CNN spoke to half a dozen cybersecurity teams from Asia, Europe and the United States — as well as multiple former and current Pinduoduo employees — after receiving a tipoff.

Multiple experts identified the presence of malware on the Pinduoduo app that exploited vulnerabilities in Android operating systems. Company insiders said the exploits were utilized to spy on users and competitors, allegedly to boost sales.

War of the drones: How Russia and Ukraine have utilised modern UAV technology against one another since Putin's invasion… and how their unmanned fleet compares


The constant buzzing of drones in the skies amid the roar of artillery fire has become part of daily life for soldiers on the front lines in Ukraine.

Drones - small in size and often cheap - have the capacity to locate soldiers and ammunition supplies, drop bombs and provide better visuals of what is happening on the battlefield.

And in the year since Russia invaded Ukraine they have become an integral part of the war, with both sides playing a game of 'cat and mouse' to see who can come up with the best technology and tactics.

While Russia has far greater resources - both in terms of soldiers and equipment - Kyiv believes drone innovation is one area where it can begin to catch up with Moscow.

For Dr David Jordan, Co-Director of the Freeman Air & Space Institute at King’s College London, Ukraine has gained a 'greater benefit' from drones compared to Russia as they have acted 'instantaneously' to real-time intelligence gained from the UAV's data.

U.S. Central Command finally gets a taste of disruption

David Ignatius

If you’re wondering how a hidebound U.S. military is going to compete against smart, aggressive adversaries in the future, consider the example of Schuyler C. Moore, the recently appointed, 30-year-old chief technology officer of U.S. Central Command.

Moore told me bluntly that in her new job of managing innovation at Centcom, 70 percent of the challenge is overcoming “bureaucratic processes, old ways of thinking and legacy systems.” She’s absolutely right. Those obstacles have frustrated would-be defense modernizers for decades. Now, it seems, Centcom may be empowering people to begin fixing them.

Moore’s résumé is a reminder of what makes America exceptional. She’s an Asian American from California who studied at Harvard and was a champion platform diver there. But following an injury, she took a leave and taught school in Afghanistan. After Harvard, she got a master’s in strategic studies at Georgetown, worked for a fancy defense consulting group, advised the Defense Innovation Board and worked for Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), an Iraq vet and defense reform advocate.

Then Moore did something even more interesting. She joined the U.S. Navy Reserve as an intelligence officer. She was deployed to Bahrain last year as part of a new Centcom Navy unit called Task Force 59 that was experimenting with unmanned systems and artificial intelligence. After she served eight months there, Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, the Centcom commander, named her his chief technology officer.

China’s Approach to Military 5G Networks and Related Military Applications

Henry Wu

This article summarizes thinking, plans, and activities of the People’s Republic of China in leveraging 5G networks for military purposes, and developing associated military applications. The paper analyses Chinese original sources, including government strategy documents, articles and essays by government officials and scholars, and commercial documents like due diligence and market analysis reports. The paper argues that China intends to capture the strategic value of 5G for the military, including through conceptual research on the role of 5G in future warfighting. Chinese research institutions and private companies have filed patents and developed dual-use applications for 5G networks, which could be used for military and national security purposes. The paper recommends to continue monitoring China’s plans and activities in these areas. 

The U.S. Military’s Great Relearning

James Holmes

Last week the amphibian pundit CDR Salamander had some tart words for Joint Chiefs chairman Mark Milley. General Milley recently held forth on the Ukraine war, maintaining that “a big lesson learned” from the Russian invasion is “the incredible consumption rates of conventional munitions” even in a limited regional conflagration. A war in Korea or the Taiwan Strait would consume far more. A major war means a major expenditure of ordnance. Who’d’ve thought?

Last week the amphibian pundit CDR Salamander had some tart words for Joint Chiefs chairman Mark Milley. General Milley recently held forth on the Ukraine war, maintaining that “a big lesson learned” from the Russian invasion is “the incredible consumption rates of conventional munitions” even in a limited regional conflagration. A war in Korea or the Taiwan Strait would consume far more.

A major war means a major expenditure of ordnance. Who’d’ve thought?

Sal traces this “gobsmacking” statement from America’s top-ranking uniformed military officer to faulty wargaming, and there’s doubtless truth to that. Any system of logic is founded on assumptions that can be neither proved nor disproved within the system. They’re taken as self-evident, much like the “givens” from which students try to work proofs in grade-school algebra or geometry.

Assumptions are powerful things. If they’re deeply flawed, a game based on them tends to produce results incongruent with reality. Garbage in, garbage out.

Ukrainian Challenger 2 And Russian T-55 Tanks Could Meet in Ukraine. The Last Time They Clashed, It Was A Massacre.

David Axe

Ukraine’s ex-British Challenger 2 tanks are heading toward the front at the same time Russia is reactivating long-stored T-55 tanks and potentially sending them to the front, too.

It’s possible the 20-year-old Challenger 2s and 70-year-old T-55s eventually will meet in combat. If so, and if history is any guide, it almost certainly will be a short and lopsided fight.

The last time the modern Challenger 2 clashed with the obsolete T-55, it was “like the bicycle against the motor car,” one British tank crewman told The Guardian.

It was late March 2003. Coalition forces were storming across Iraq in the early weeks of what would turn into a disastrous, nearly decade-long occupation.

Fourteen Challenger 2 tanks from C Squadron of the British Army’s Royal Scots Dragoon Guards were supporting a British brigade fighting for control of the Al Faw Peninsula in oil-rich southern Iraq.

On March 27, 20 years ago, a company of 14 Iraqi army T-55 tanks counterattacked. Rolling from concealment in a wooded area near Basra, the ex-Soviet tanks initially moved as a group.

British artillery scattered the formation. That’s when the Challenger 2s joined the fight. “It was hard going,” Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum curator Stuart Kennedy told Britain at War.


Frank Sobchak

Michael Gordon is without a doubt the best author that one can read to understand the strategic level of the conflict in Iraq. His access to American and Iraqi leaders, in-depth research, sound judgment, and superb writing are simply unparalleled and all his books on Iraq (the others being Cobra II and Degrade and Destroy) belong on this list. The Endgame is his opus, and it carefully charts the period from the fall of Saddam through the Iraqi civil war, the surge of US troops, and their eventual withdrawal. Gordon’s work is the best single volume book on the conflict, and it painstakingly captures the tragic arc of failed American strategy.

Emma Sky is a British civilian who had worked extensively in nongovernmental organizations that focused on conflict resolution. She opposed the war but volunteered to serve as part of the Coalition Provisional Authority and later as the political advisor for General Ray Odierno during several tours to Iraq. As such, she had a unique insider’s perspective of the conflict that was neither American nor military and her writing is tremendously valuable. The Unraveling is a firsthand tragic telling of what could have been, which fairly and accurately highlights both the failures of the Bush administration in the period after the fall of Saddam and the missteps of the Obama administration’s attempts at war termination.

When Weapons Fall Silent: Lessons for NATO from the First Year of the Ukraine War

Shannon Welch

“It's a victory when the weapons fall silent, and people speak up,” Volodymyr Zelensky stated in an interview in 2019, long before the invasion in Ukraine, when tensions were rising along the Ukrainian borders over the ongoing Russian occupation of Crimea.[i] Only six months in office, Zelensky quickly learned the difficulties in keeping peace with its largest neighbour, Russia, who had been committing boundary violations and human rights abuses in different regions throughout the south of the country, preparing him for the conflict that would define his presidency.

The Russian invasion Ukraine has passed its one-year anniversary, solidifying it as the most violent land war since WWII. According to the latest UN human rights office (OHCHR) data, at least 8,000 non-combatants have been confirmed killed—with nearly 13,300 injured—since the Russian invasion began.[ii] In 2022, the United States spent US $50 billion on Ukraine; in 2023, the war is anticipated to cost the German economy US $170 billion, or 4% of Germany's GDP.[iii] Despite the assistance from NATO, the EU, and the United States, the war continues without a probable end, complicating the strategy for the next possible year of the war.

Despite the difficulties for the region, this past year was full of successes for Ukraine and NATO, from securing Kyiv to US President Joe Biden's successful visit to the capital despite the soundings of air raid sirens and a war-torn horizon. Ukraine’s military and militias have fought hard to regain stolen land and protect the economy by remaining open and relying on new forms of income stimulation. The Ukrainians have been creative and resilient, allowing NATO and the West to pull from their successes observable and repeatable strategies to combat the Russian military structure.

The Russian General Staff Understanding the Military's Decisionmaking Role in a "Besieged Fortress"

The Russian General Staff is unlike any single organization within the U.S. defense establishment. The absence of an analog in the United States means that audiences within the U.S. civilian and military communities largely are unfamiliar with the concept of a General Staff. Because of the increasing militarization of Russian foreign policy since 2008, it is important to understand not only the formal authorities and responsibilities of this institution but also its capacity to influence Russia's national security decisionmaking process.

In this report, the authors develop a foundational text for policymakers and warfighters to improve collective understanding of the Russian General Staff. The authors first draw on a variety of primary and secondary Russian-language sources⁠—e.g., statutes, speeches by political and military elites, and academic military writings—to inform their characterization of the General Staff's statutory mandate. They then place the General Staff in a comparative institutional context, providing a high-level evaluation of the institutional roles, responsibilities, and authorities of the General Staff's U.S. counterpart—the Joint Staff. They consider what the formal roles and responsibilities of the General Staff suggest about the relative balance of power among Russia's political leaders, the General Staff, and the broader Russian military.

US, UK and German tanks not built for Ukraine war


German, British and American main battle tanks either already have arrived in Ukraine or will soon be on their way. But these tanks have some well-known weaknesses and the Russians are likely ready for them. Worse still, none of them have active defense systems, a critically important way of protecting tanks and tank crews from modern antitank weapons.

The German-made tanks are known as Leopards. Two different series of Leopard tanks are being sent to Ukraine, older Leopard-1 A-5s and Leopard 2 A-4 and A-6 tanks. The Leopard 2 series is regarded as one of the best-designed main battle tanks, comparing favorably to the US M1 Abrams, the Russian T-90 and the Israeli Merkava.