13 April 2023

Troubled Waters: India, Pakistan, and the Indus Water Treaty 2.0

Rahul Mahadeo Lad and Ravindra G. Jaybhaye

The Indus Water Treaty (IWT), one of the most effective water sharing mechanisms in the world, recently came back into the spotlight as a result of Indian action. In an official statement in January of this year, India announced its intention to amend the 62-year-old treaty with Pakistan. This action, which served to notify Pakistan and demand a response within 90 days, could cause the water sharing agreement to fall apart and trigger new round of negotiations.

For the first time since the treaty’s signing in Karachi on September 19, 1960, the notification initiated the procedure for amendments to the treaty. India took this action in retaliation for what it referred to as Pakistan’s “intransigence” in settling disputes regarding the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects, both of which are situated in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan’s “unilateral” decision to approach an arbitration court based in The Hague was also opposed by India.

Late last week, Pakistan replied in a letter. Although the specific details of the reply have not been reported, some Pakistani media outlets have quoted anonymous officials as saying the reply indicated Islamabad’s willingness to discuss New Delhi’s concerns. A spokesperson for India’s External Affairs Ministry said the Indian side was examining the Pakistani response.

For a long time, the IWT has been the only stable area in the otherwise unstable relations between India and Pakistan. Since its inception, the treaty has drawn condemnation from both sides, but it has persisted nevertheless. Under the terms of the treaty, the waters of the eastern rivers (the Sutlej, Ravi, and Beas) are allocated to India and those of western rivers (the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab) largely to Pakistan. As per the treaty, Pakistan is primarily responsible for managing the waters of the western rivers, while India is primarily responsible for those in the east.

China’s Military Modernisation: Recent Trends

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has undergone many changes since Xi Jinping became general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2013. Efforts at modernising the PLA have been conducted in earnest for the past 10 years through the overhaul of the organisation and the introduction of latest technologies to make it battle-ready. This paper describes these capability-related and institutional changes in China’s military, which have also led to the PLA coming firmly under the control of the CPC. This paper updates an earlier version published by ORF in 2021.

Attribution: Kartik Bommakanti and Harris Amjad, “China’s Military Modernisation: Recent Trends,” ORF Occasional Paper No. 398, April 2023, Observer Research Foundation.


The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has undergone dramatic changes since its first push for modernisation in the 1980s and 1990s. The modernisation has involved both constant updates of doctrine, as well as improvement of equipment and organisational structure to better reflect the changing demands of warfare. Doctrinally, the PLA has moved away from the ideals espoused by the republic’s founding father Mao Zedong—whose main concern was a major conflict with the erstwhile Soviet Union—to one where the military would be more heavily involved in localised conflicts.[1] The former Chinese Defence Minister Zhang Aiping observed in 1983, seven years after Mao’s death: “The principle of war is to achieve the greatest victory at the smallest cost. To achieve this we should depend not only on political factors, but also on the correct strategy and tactics of the war’s commander, the sophisticated nature of our military equipment, the quality of our personnel who use the equipment etcetera.”[2] The implementation of this strategy is apparent in the ongoing stand-off between India’s and China’s forces in Ladakh, along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Drawing lessons from China’s war against Vietnam in early 1979, the PLA took serious steps in reorganisation.[3] Recognising the diminishing likelihood of a total war,[4] the Central Military Commission (CMC) under Deng Xiaoping instituted crucial changes between 1985 and 1995—in doctrine, organisation, and equipment, while keeping in mind local yet intensive wars.[5] Some of these changes included greater emphasis on joint operations, production of indigenous equipment, and converting the PLA into a leaner and more efficient fighting force, reducing its total personnel from 13.3 million in 1985 to 5.4 million in 1995 (See Table 1).

China Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Daniel R. DePetris

On 3 April, the Philippines government of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr formally unveiled four additional locations where U.S. forces will be permitted to operate. Two of those locations, in Santa Ana and Lal-lo, are located in Cagayan, the Philippines’ northernmost province, approximately 440 kilometres from Taiwan’s southern coastline. The announcement occurred two months after Washington and Manila concluded negotiations on the new basing arrangements, which come on top of the five locations the U.S. military already uses. Both sides lauded the deal as an example of a strong U.S.-Philippines alliance. “It seems to me,” Marcos said after the talks concluded, “that the future of the Philippines, and for that matter the Asia-Pacific region, will always involve the United States”.

It’s tempting to congratulate the individual U.S. and Philippine negotiators for this week’s news. But China and its President Xi Jinping really deserve much of the credit.

China’s conduct in the Indo-Pacific, more than the talent of the U.S. diplomatic corps, Washington’s renewed focus on Asia, or Marcos’ attempt to make a name for himself, is the biggest motivator for the balancing behaviour that can be seen in the region. If it weren’t for Beijing’s incessant campaign to press its territorial claims on land and at sea, it’s highly unlikely new access arrangements for the U.S. would have been discussed.

The Philippines is hardly the only country taking stock of its own geopolitical surroundings.

China’s rising power is the fuel driving what can only be described as a rapid transformation in Japan’s strategic outlook. Tokyo, careful in the past to ensure that its actions in the defence realm weren’t needlessly provocative to Beijing, is today making no apologies for crafting and resourcing a more assertive defence policy. Japan, which for decades kept itself pegged to an artificial one per cent defence spending-to-GDP ratio, aims to double its total defence budget by 2027 – a sum that, if implemented, would make Tokyo the third-largest military spender in the world.

Xi Jinping's 48-hour plan to invade Taiwan | Defence in Depth

Dominic Nicholls

The ripples from the war in Ukraine have spread far and wide; they’ve even reached the South China Sea - so it’s time to talk about Taiwan.

According to diplomatic sources in the UK, Beijing believes there is a 48-hour window in which it can attack Taiwan before any international consensus forms.

In that time Chinese forces would need to get across the Taiwan Strait, onto the land and cut off the political and military leadership in Taiwan.

That’s a tall order.

China wants Taiwan to be reunified with the mainland, and it is said that no Chinese premier would be able to stay in position if they renounced their claim to Taiwan.

So Xi Jinping is on a one-way journey - there’s no status quo here. He’s not going to allow Taiwan to exist as an independent sovereign state and doesn’t hide his view that Taipei will unify with the communist mainland.

It’s just a question of when, not if. So when can we expect a confrontation?

Well, President Xi has made no bones about saying that 2027 is the date that he wants the Chinese army to be ‘ready’ to take back Taiwan. Now, that doesn’t mean that they will invade in 2027, but certainly implies a significant milestone.

Ely Ratner, the senior Pentagon official in charge of the Indo-Pacific region, has said he doesn’t expect anything to happen before the end of the decade.

There is just too much diplomatic turbulence going on at the moment and something else on top of that would be a huge shock to the diplomatic system; and with China yet to see the full results of the war in Ukraine, their confidence in being able to act in the next few years remains unclear.

Leaked U.S. Documents Spark Fear in Russian Pro-War Blogging Community: ISW


Russian pro-war bloggers have responded to the leak of what is reported to be confidential U.S. military documents covering a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive with "speculative anxiety," according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The U.S.-based think tank said on Friday that several prominent Russian milbloggers are "fixated on the possibility that the released documents are disinformation" deliberately leaked to confuse the Russian military.

There is growing speculation that Ukrainian troops will launch a counteroffensive in the coming months in a bid to regain territory from occupying Russian forces. The Russian military has spent the last few months attempting to capture the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, with limited success. However, according to a recent British intelligence report, Moscow has "regained some momentum" over recent days.

It comes after a second set of supposedly confidential documents, covering not just Ukraine, but also U.S. relations with China and various powers in the Middle East, were posted on messaging board 4chan on Friday.

A Ukrainian Special Forces serviceman fires a weapon during a training exercise in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on Thursday. Russian pro-war bloggers have responded to the leak of what is reported to be confidential U.S. military documents covering a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive with "speculative anxiety," according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/GETTY

The first set of documents appeared on social media, including Telegram and Twitter, but appear to have been "modified," The New York Times reported on Thursday. This may "point to an effort of disinformation by Moscow," the newspaper added, in what it described as a "significant breach of American intelligence in the effort to aid Ukraine." The documents included in the leak also showed discussion of the training, armaments, and offensive capabilities of various Ukrainian military units.

Artillery usage could show the future course of the Ukraine war


In the war in Ukraine, artillery has emerged as perhaps the signature weapon of war, and that reality is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. By watching trends in its use in the coming weeks, we may be able to deduce a good deal about the likely future course of the conflict — even as debates intensify over whether to provide Ukraine fighter jets and more tanks, among other key technologies.

The intensity of artillery usage in the Ukraine war harkens back to the days of World War I, when artillery dominated the battlefield. In that tragic conflict, during which at least 10 million perished, hundreds of thousands of rounds were often employed by the belligerents daily. In this war, there are important differences, to be sure. Rates of fire are measured in the thousands or, at most, the low tens-of-thousands of rounds a day. Industry, ironically, seems less able to keep up with demand today than a century ago. Much artillery on the Ukrainian side is now precise and longer-ranged in capability and character. And, while Ukraine, like the belligerents of WWI, has largely directed its fire against enemy fighting positions, Russia has followed the classic Vladimir Putin model — dating back to the Chechnya and Syria wars — of simply leveling civilian buildings and neighborhoods to drive out the opponent’s forces, regardless of the ensuing losses of innocent life.

The big-picture story on artillery usage over the past 14 months goes something like this. Russia has used far more artillery than Ukraine, but both sides have used a lot. The most intensive period was last spring and summer, when Russia sought to expand control of the four provinces of eastern and southern Ukraine that, along with Crimea (back in 2014), it has “annexed.” A significant breakthrough occurred in late summer when Ukraine gained access to a couple dozen high-mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) and their precision-guided munitions able to range some 70 kilometers. Since early fall, however, the fighting has slowed overall, breakthroughs have been scant, and both sides have faced artillery supply shortages.

Some Ukrainian Troops Are Still Using Soviet Methods, Despite US Trainin


Soon after Ukraine blunted Russia’s 2022 invasion, senior U.S. officials attributed some of the defenders' success to the help Americans had provided them before the war’s start.

Training with U.S. troops transformed Ukraine’s Soviet-style military to a more NATO-style force, then-Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in April 2022.

"They have better command and control," he said. “That didn't happen by accident.”

U.S. and allied training made Ukraine a “more battlefield-effective” force, a senior Defense Department official added.

But experts and one U.S. officer involved in the process say that while the training did help, it isn’t possible to draw a straight line to Ukraine success. Experts in particular pointed to a Ukrainian officer-corps still rife with Soviet-style thinking.

U.S. Army Col. Andrew Clark has commanded the service’s Security Assistance Training Management Organization since August 2021. Among the organization’s responsibilities is teaching other countries U.S. military strategies through its Doctrine Education Advisory Group.

The unit had members stationed in Ukraine before the outbreak of the war and they worked to revise the teaching curriculum at the Ukrainian staff colleges that trained the country’s officers. Their work was akin to a gentle push that gradually improves a partner’s force over time, Clark said. “We build these small custom teams for a long-term engagement,” he said. Some members even lived full-time in Ukraine.

By contrast, the U.S. soldiers training Ukrainian forces in Germany now have no prior training in security assistance.

From Discord to 4chan: The Improbable Journey of a US Intelligence Leak

Aric Toler

In recent days, the US Justice Department and Pentagon have begun investigating an apparent online leak of sensitive documents, including some that were marked “Top Secret”.

A portion of the documents, which have since been widely covered by the news media, focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while others detailed analysis of potential UK policies on the South China Sea and the activities of a Houthi figure in Yemen.

The existence of the documents was first reported by the New York Times after a number of Russian Telegram channels shared five photographed files relating to the invasion of Ukraine on April 5 – at least one of which has since been found by Bellingcat to be crudely edited.

These documents appeared to be dated to early March, around the time they were first posted online on Discord, a messaging platform popular with gamers.

However, Bellingcat has seen evidence that some documents dated to January could have been posted online even earlier, although it is unclear exactly when. Bellingcat also spoke to three members of the Discord community where the images had been posted who claimed that many more documents had been shared across other Discord servers in recent months.

As the channels were deleted following the controversy generated by the leaked documents, Bellingcat has not been able to confirm this claim.

Leaked US, NATO documents on Ukraine’s military operation show ‘serious disunity within the West’

Yang Sheng

The recent leak of classified US and NATO documents on the Ukrainian military and Kiev's much-anticipated "spring counteroffensive" has exposed that disunity, distrust and divergences among the US, the West and Ukraine are serious and keep worsening, said Chinese experts. They noted that the incident further proves that Washington is the biggest obstacle for the international community to promote a cease-fire and peace talks for the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

According to US media, the US Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the leak that was posted on social media in recent weeks.

CNN reported on Saturday that the investigation comes as new documents surfaced Friday covering everything from US support for Ukraine to information about key US allies like Israel, widening the fallout from the already alarming leak. The Pentagon on Thursday said it was looking into the matter after social media posts of apparently classified documents on the war in Ukraine had emerged.

"They look real," a US official told CNN about the leaked documents. CNBC News also reported on Saturday that the documents that appeared online "are likely real" and "the result of a leak," but that some of the documents may have been altered before they were posted, a senior US official said on Saturday.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement on Telegram that the leak is a "Russian information operation" and does not reveal Kiev's "actual operational plans," the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

A Chinese expert on international security and intelligence who asked for anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday that "the leak is unlikely caused by Russian intelligence agencies, because this does not make sense."

The Biggest Exposure of Classified Secrets Since Edward Snowden


I’m back, and thanks to Noah Rothman and Dominic Pino for holding down the fort during my vacation. On the menu today, the U.S. government and its allies are grappling with the biggest exposure of classified secrets since Edward Snowden, revealing what the U.S. knows about dwindling Ukrainian air-defense assets and ammunition, our spying on ally South Korea, a possible Mossad role in Israel’s recent protests, and a Russian hack on a Canadian natural-gas pipeline that the Canadians say didn’t happen.

Roughly 1.3 million Americans have top-secret security clearance, and apparently one of them with a bottle of Gorilla Glue on their desk decided to take pictures of those documents. Read on.

A Whole Bunch of America’s Biggest Secrets, Revealed on the Internet

There are often harmful consequences when government agencies that deal with national security “stovepipe” intelligence — that is, keep it to themselves and don’t share it with other agencies. For the U.S. government to operate effectively when dealing with little-known or little-noticed threats or attempting to persuade or influence other governments, multiple government agencies need to know who’s doing what, where, and when, and coordinate their actions.

But when agencies don’t stovepipe sensitive or classified information, and, say, the Central Intelligence Agency shares a lot of what it knows with the Pentagon, they can end up with problems like the one currently wracking the highest levels of the U.S. government, as the Wall Street Journal lays out:

The intelligence leak is shaping up to be one of the most damaging in decades, officials said. The disclosure complicates Ukraine’s spring offensive. It will likely inhibit the readiness of foreign allies to share sensitive information with the U.S. government. And it potentially exposes America’s intelligence sources within Russia and other hostile nations.

Ukraine has exposed the limits of drone warfare

As Ukraine prepares for an expected offensive in the spring or summer, key weapons from western countries are bolstering the country’s armed forces. Among the war machines that are expected to make a major impact on the battlefield are Leopard Tanks and other armoured vehicles from the West. What isn’t getting many headlines today are drones for Ukraine. This is a major contrast from the early days of the war, when Ukrainian drones were heroes of the war effort. On the Russian side the reliance on Iranian-made kamikaze drones has also appeared to have diminishing returns for Moscow. The Ukraine war now illustrates the limits of a future dominated by drones on the battlefield.

Several years ago, the defeat of Armenian forces by Azerbaijan in clashes in the south Caucasus led to a discussion about whether unmanned aerial vehicles with missiles, or acting as kamikaze-style drones, would put an end to the role of large, expensive lumbering tanks on the battlefield. We now see in Ukraine that there are limitations to what drones can do, especially when they are not deployed in large numbers.

The truth is that these drones can’t survive modern day air defenses

To understand the role of drones on the battlefield, it’s worth making a quick distinction between the large number of machines usually called ‘drones’. There are a plethora of unmanned systems that are now deployed by modern armies. These include new types of unmanned vessels being studied by US forces in the Persian Gulf, everything from small boats to hi-tech sailboards, that can provide navies with eyes at sea that can do more than people in a patrol boat might be able to accomplish. There are also different types of small drones, like the Raven, which is launched the same way a person might throw a paper airplane into the air. It weighs around 4lbs and can fly for up to 90 minutes. US forces conducting a drill in the harsh conditions of Alaska recently used these for reconnaissance.

Is Giorgia Meloni stoking Britain’s migrant crisis? 

Japan’s Official Security Assistance: The Sleeping Giant Stirs?

James Kaizuka

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio (right), shows a seat to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the start of their talks at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023.Credit: Kimimasa Mayama/Pool Photo via AP

Japan’s new National Security Strategy (NSS), approved in late 2022 by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s administration, continues a long transition from the pacifist isolationism of the post-war era to what academics and advocates of a greater security role alike call “normalization” of the status of Japan’s armed forces.

Written in the context of numerous perceived challenges to Japan’s safety, such as continued North Korean missile testing and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the new NSS was never likely to reverse these long trends. Still, the growing confidence of Tokyo to take steps to defend itself against the hostile environment it perceives for itself is telling of how far the politics of security both in the Japanese political system and in the wider region have come since the publication of the first NSS in 2013.

Official Security Assistance (or OSA) is a new and untested field for Japan. It is a testament to both the possibilities created by the changing security discourse and the constraints it still faces. On the one hand, it promises equipment, supplies, and deepened security cooperation with “like-minded countries” which value peace, stability, and the rule of law, and it specifically cites the enhancement of deterrent capabilities as an objective. It is no stretch to say that such statements would have been unthinkable only a short while ago.

On the other hand, it continues to be bound by the existing Principles on the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology, which among other considerations prohibits the transfer of equipment to countries party to an active conflict (excluding Ukraine from the OSA framework), and it emphasizes the word “peace” or derivatives thereof no fewer than 18 times within the course of the three-page Implementation Guidelines document. Considering these contradictions, what can be learned from this new initiative?

The Cold War Mystery The U.S. Military Can’t Afford to Forget


Gordon F. Sander is a writer and historian based in Riga, Latvia. He is the author of several works of military and Cold War history, including most recently, The Finnish Factor: Kekkonen, Kennedy, Khrushchev and The Cold War.

Seventy-three years ago this week, the first lethal clash of the Cold War lit up the skies over the Baltic Sea. Ten American airmen on a secret — and well-disguised — mission disappeared, never to be heard from again. Most likely you have never heard about them. But at a time when Russia and the U.S. once again have daggers drawn, their story is one we cannot afford to forget.

Latvia certainly hasn’t forgotten. Every April the U.S. ambassador to Riga, along with representatives of the Latvian government and military, presides over a solemn ceremony on the beach promenade of Liepāja, a coastal city overlooking the Baltic Sea, to honor the 10-man crew of the U.S. Navy Privateer reconnaissance aircraft PB4Y-2, flight 59645, which was shot down by four Soviet jets on April 8, 1950. This year’s commemoration took place on Thursday, featuring a speech by Christopher Robinson, the new American ambassador. “This commemoration is particularly relevant in light of our renewed confrontation with authoritarianism,” he told me.

Leaked Pentagon documents show how deep US has penetrated Russian intelligence

Cami Mondeaux, Congressional Reporter & Mike Brest, Defense Reporter 

A trove of Pentagon documents that were leaked online show just how deeply the United States has penetrated Russian security and intelligence services, allowing military officials to warn Ukraine about planned attacks amid the Kremlin’s invasion.

The documents detail Russia’s weaknesses as it struggles to overcome Ukrainian forces in its 14-month invasion, indicating several compromises in the military’s communications. The documents show several instances in which U.S. intelligence agencies have been tipped off about Russian strikes, allowing the U.S. to warn Ukraine ahead of time.

The papers also show that the U.S. has been keeping an eye on Ukrainian military leaders, which also appears to have several weaknesses as it attempts to stave off a Russian invasion. However, the reports indicate that U.S. officials have a far deeper understanding of the Russian military than that of Ukraine.

The recent revelations come after a trove of classified Pentagon documents was posted online on social media in the last few weeks, prompting widespread concerns among U.S. intelligence officials as they continue to monitor the war in Ukraine. The documents don’t explicitly detail how the U.S. has penetrated Russian intelligence, but it’s not yet clear whether the Kremlin can cut off their information sources.

The Justice Department announced it would open an investigation into the leak of documents, which saw the release of U.S. intelligence related to Ukraine to China to Israel. The Defense Department is also investigating the matter.

“The Department of Defense is actively reviewing the matter, and has made a formal referral to the Department of Justice for investigation,” a DOD spokesperson told the Washington Examiner.

It’s not yet clear how the documents found their way online, but some U.S. officials said it was likely Russia or a group backing them, according to Reuters. However, the officials clarified that is an informal opinion and not the result of any investigation.

Russia plans air defence reform, to bolster defences near Finland

The Finnish and European Union flags flutter at the border crossing between Finland and Russia, as Finland becomes member of NATO, in Vaalimaa, Finland, April 4, 2023. REUTERS/Tom Little

MOSCOW, April 10 (Reuters) - Russia plans to overhaul its air defence forces after gaining new experience in the war in Ukraine and will also bolster its air defences to counter Finland's accession to the NATO military alliance, a commander in Russia's aerospace forces said.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year in what it calls "a special military operation", the fighting has descended into a grinding artillery war with extensive use of drones and missiles, testing the air defences of both Russia and Ukraine.

In an interview published on Monday with the Red Star newspaper, Lieutenant General Andrei Demin, deputy commander-in-chief of aerospace forces, said air defence forces had faced a number of challenges in the face of Ukrainian strikes.

Russia, he said, had added more than 50 mobile radar stations and A-50 early warning and control aircraft patrolled 24 hours a day while missile and anti-aircraft installations in regions next to Ukraine had been bolstered.

In Ukrainian regions under Russian control, air defence units had been set up to defend key installations, Demin said, while Russia had ramped up production of the RLK-MC anti-drone system.

Reforms "are undoubtedly planned and will be implemented," Demin told the defence ministry's newspaper. "The purpose of the upcoming changes is the development of the armed forces, aimed at improving the air defense system of the Russian Federation."

Russia Is Burning: Who Or What Is Behind The Fires?

David Hambling

A column of smoke rose into the sky about Moscow on Wednesday: official news agency TASS reported that a small fire had briefly broken out and had been quickly extinguished with no casualties. Nothing to see here, apparently. The fact that the fire took place at the headquarters of Russia’s Defence Ministry, and that the building is a stone’s throw from the Kremlin, may be mere incidental details. But major fires are increasingly common in Russia these days, as a new report by OSINT agency Molfar details.

Before the war, Molfar was a commercial company reporting on markets, companies and individuals. Now their volunteers support Ukraine with open-source intelligence. Previous projects have included identifying war criminals and refuting Russian propaganda – and, in January, an analysis of the number of major fires breaking out in Russia, noting in particular that the rate of fires went up by 26% in both November and December, suggesting an exponential rate of increase.

"There's been a bit of a change in how information about fires at military plants and energy facilities in Russia is being handled," Daria Verbytska of Molfar told Forbes. "It seems like the media over there isn't reporting on these incidents as much as they used to, and when they do, they're either omitting important details or downplaying the extent of the damage. Luckily, the Molfar team was able to get their hands on some detailed information from a reliable source with the necessary access. They could even use some "closed" statistics from the state register of the RF's emergencies to verify everything. So, they've got the full picture and can double-check everything."

The new report confirms that the number of fires is continuing to increase sharply. The first three months of 2023 saw 212 fires, compared to 414 for the whole of 2022. Each of these is a multi-million dollar event, hitting Russia at a time when the economy is already in steep decline.

Russia ‘Blows Up’ 70,000 Tons Of Ukrainian Fuel With High-Precision Missile Strike, RuMoD Claims

Parth Satam

The Russian military bombed a massive fuel storage facility in Ukraine in Donbas, the Defense Ministry (RuMoD) claimed.

“In the city of Zaporozhye, a high-precision missile strike destroyed a storage facility with 70,000 tons of fuel accumulated to support the operations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Donbas, the RuMoD said on Telegram.

In addition, they claimed to neutralize the warehouses of rocket and artillery weapons and ammunition of the 102nd Territorial Defense Brigade and the 72nd Mechanized Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine near Orekhov in the Zaporozhye region and Vuhledar in the DPR.

The report claims that the Russian air defense systems intercepted ten HIMARS and Smerch multiple launch rockets, as well as one Grom-2 operational-tactical missile and 14 Ukrainian UAVs.

Leaked Info On Russia-Ukraine War

Pro-Russian strategists believe the leaked documents detailing American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) war plans for Ukraine are a ruse to let Russia its guard down and assume the Ukrainian military cannot mount a credible offensive or defense.

Vladimir Rogov, leader of the ‘We Are Together With Russia’ and member of the main council of the breakaway pro-Russian Zaporizhzhia region, called it a “disinformation campaign.”

Rogov and other pro-Russian social media pages based in Ukraine’s East point to increased Ukrainian military activity; persistent attempts to break through Russian lines on the frontline; massive mobilization in the depth areas despite taking heavy losses; and the consistent arrival of Western military equipment, including drones and tanks to support their theory.

While Rogov is not a part of the direct Russian military decision-making apparatus, he does somewhere reflect the overall Russian strategic view since the council he is a member of also includes senior Russian military officers.

Ukraine likely to face bloody Crimea fight, satellite images show

John Psaropoulos

An analysis of satellite images by Al Jazeera has revealed that Russian forces are fortifying the Crimean peninsula in anticipation of a Ukrainian attempt to recapture it.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, eight years before launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. As the war grinds on for more than a year, Ukraine’s political and military leadership has made it clear that it defines victory as reclaiming its 1991 borders, which Russia had recognised. The United Nations and all of Ukraine’s Western allies also recognise those borders, which include Crimea.

The investigation by Al Jazeera’s Sanad news verification and monitoring unit found that between February and March, the Crimean border and surrounding areas were transformed into a fortified barrier ahead of an expected spring counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces.

In particular, an extensive network of trenches and defences was constructed and now extends across the border villages of Crimea. Construction and expansion of several significant military bases also took place during the same period, according to the images provided to Sanad by SkySat and Planet.com.

Europe must resist pressure to become ‘America’s followers,’ says Macron


ABOARD COTAM UNITÉ (FRANCE’S AIR FORCE ONE) — Europe must reduce its dependency on the United States and avoid getting dragged into a confrontation between China and the U.S. over Taiwan, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview on his plane back from a three-day state visit to China.

Speaking with POLITICO and two French journalists after spending around six hours with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his trip, Macron emphasized his pet theory of “strategic autonomy” for Europe, presumably led by France, to become a “third superpower.”

He said “the great risk” Europe faces is that it “gets caught up in crises that are not ours, which prevents it from building its strategic autonomy,” while flying from Beijing to Guangzhou, in southern China, aboard COTAM Unité, France’s Air Force One.

Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party have enthusiastically endorsed Macron’s concept of strategic autonomy and Chinese officials constantly refer to it in their dealings with European countries. Party leaders and theorists in Beijing are convinced the West is in decline and China is on the ascendant and that weakening the transatlantic relationship will help accelerate this trend.

“The paradox would be that, overcome with panic, we believe we are just America’s followers,” Macron said in the interview. “The question Europeans need to answer … is it in our interest to accelerate [a crisis] on Taiwan? No. The worse thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. agenda and a Chinese overreaction,” he said.

Just hours after his flight left Guangzhou headed back to Paris, China launched large military exercises around the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which China claims as its territory but the U.S. has promised to arm and defend.

Those exercises were a response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen’s 10-day diplomatic tour of Central American countries that included a meeting with Republican U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy while she transited in California. People familiar with Macron’s thinking said he was happy Beijing had at least waited until he was out of Chinese airspace before launching the simulated “Taiwan encirclement” exercise.

Putin’s Second Front

Andrei Kolesnikov

For more than two decades, ordinary people in Vladimir Putin’s Russia could count on at least one fundamental right: the right to remain passive. As long as they were willing to turn a blind eye to corruption at the top and the never-ending rule of the Putin regime, they were not required to demonstrate active support for the government. Whatever Russia was doing in the world need not concern them. Provided that they did not interfere in the affairs of the elite, they were free to live their lives.

Since the Russian government announced its “partial mobilization” in September–October 2022, that right has been taken away. No longer is it possible to stay disengaged. More and more, Russians who are economically dependent on the state are finding that they have to be active Putinists—or, at the very least, pretend to be. Conforming to the regime and showing support for the “special operation” have now become almost essential to good citizenship. It is still possible to avoid showing feality to the autocrat, and Russia is not yet a fully totalitarian system. But a significant stratum of society—teachers, for example—are forced to participate in public acts of support, such as the patriotic lessons that are now mandatory in schools on Mondays. Often these are mere rituals, but sometimes the sentiments are real. Voluntary denunciations have become frequent and are, in fact, encouraged. Consider the infamous case of the teacher who denounced a 13-year-old girl for drawing an antiwar picture: the girl’s father was arrested, and she was placed in an orphanage. In April, former President Dmitry Medvedev called on civilians to denounce those who receive money or jobs from Ukrainian sources.

For Putin, the creation of this new obedient Russia is in some ways as important as what happens in Ukraine. Almost since the start of the invasion, the Kremlin has been fighting a second war in Russia itself, and this war is unlikely to go away even if the conflict in Ukraine becomes frozen. Russian civil society will continue to face systematic suppression. The regime understands that by creating an atmosphere of hatred and mutual distrust, it can make part of society itself more intolerant of those who oppose Putin and the war. Whereas former Soviet heroes were people such as Yuri Gagarin, who was the first to conquer space, now the examples of “heroic” behavior are by members of separatist formations or pro-war bloggers with a criminal past—such as the recently murdered blogger with the pseudonym Vladlen Tatarsky. The war has vaulted these people to the top and turned them into “heroes.”

Pentagon lags on software buying reforms, GAO says

Carten Cordell

The Defense Department continues to emphasize rapid software acquisition and agile development to keep pace with near peer competitors like Russia and China, but a new Government Accountability Office report issued Wednesday found that the bulk of the recommendations meant for achieving those goals remain unimplemented.

With software procurement becoming more essential for quickly deploying both critical weapons and information technology systems, two advisory bodies tasked with providing the DOD with advice on technology acquisition practices — the Defense Science Board and Defense Innovation Board — offered 17 recommendations between 2018 and 2019 on how to address antiquated practices and speed up development.

Those recommendations spanned areas like workforce development, acquisition pathways, software testing and verification, source code access, authority to operate reciprocity and others designed to make buying software more efficient and developing it more iterative.

But the GAO found that while defense officials have taken steps to streamline software development and acquisition, and have fully or substantially implemented four recommendations, they have yet to completely implement 13 others.

"DOD officials told us that, while they are not required to implement these actions because the DSB and DIB are federal advisory boards, they expect they may implement some of them through future software modernization efforts," the report said. "These officials told us that, in other cases, they have determined that implementing the recommended actions would be impractical."

Among the recommendations still outstanding are all seven from the DSB, including those that concern software factors — which use cloud capabilities to develop software tools to collectively develop applications faster — as well as practices for workforce upskilling, establishing iterative development, instituting risk reduction metrics, reviewing software sustainment documentation and verifying and validating machine learning.

The report notes that the DOD has partially taken steps to implement those recommendations, such as issuing guidance on assessing agency and vendor software factories, it did not require its use.

Bill Gates Weighs in on the Opportunities and Responsibilities of a ChatGPT-based AI Future


As far as a “hype cycle meticulously intertwined with a true technology inflection point” – and the signal-to-noise ratio of it all – nothing quite matches this ChatGPT moment. As Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates recently pointed out:

“In my lifetime, I’ve seen two demonstrations of technology that struck me as revolutionary.

The first time was in 1980 when I was introduced to a graphical user interface—the forerunner of every modern operating system, including Windows. I sat with the person who had shown me the demo, a brilliant programmer named Charles Simonyi, and we immediately started brainstorming about all the things we could do with such a user-friendly approach to computing. Charles eventually joined Microsoft, Windows became the backbone of Microsoft, and the thinking we did after that demo helped set the company’s agenda for the next 15 years.

The second big surprise came just last year. I’d been meeting with the team from OpenAI since 2016 and was impressed by their steady progress.

In mid-2022, I was so excited about the work that I gave them a challenge: train an artificial intelligence to pass an Advanced Placement biology exam. Make it capable of answering questions that it hasn’t been specifically trained for. (I picked AP Bio because the test is more than a simple regurgitation of scientific facts—it asks you to think critically about biology.) If you can do that, I said, then you’ll have made a true breakthrough.

I thought the challenge would keep them busy for two or three years. They finished it in just a few months.

In September, when I met with them again, I watched in awe as they asked GPT, their AI model, 60 multiple-choice questions from the AP Bio exam—and it got 59 of them right. Then it wrote outstanding answers to six open-ended questions from the exam. We had an outside expert score the test, and GPT got a 5—the highest possible score, and the equivalent to getting an A or A+ in a college-level biology course.

Once it had aced the test, we asked it a non-scientific question: “What do you say to a father with a sick child?” It wrote a thoughtful answer that was probably better than most of us in the room would have given. The whole experience was stunning.

I knew I had just seen the most important advance in technology since the graphical user interface.

In an Open Letter, Tristan Harris, et. al. Call for a Pause on the Training of AI Systems More Powerful than GPT-4

We take a look at the recent open letter – with prominent signatories from the world of AI – based on its hard-to-ignore impact.

Ex-Google Design Ethicist Tristan Harris and The Center for Humane Technology

“The real problem of humanity is the following: We have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology.”

While we are essentially in agreement with some of the warnings included in the recent “AI Open Letter”, the real headline is the presence of one of the less well-known signatories to the letter. We have been looking for the right context to make sure the OODA Loop community is familiar with Tristan Harris – the Executive Director of the Center for Humane Technology.

An ex-Google employee, Harris and the work of the Center have been vital in framing the negative impacts of social media. OODA Board Member and OODA Network Member Dawn Meyerriecks (in her presentation at OODAcon 2022 , Swimming with Black Swans – Innovation in an Age of Rapid Disruption) highlighted The Center for Humane Technology as an invaluable resource and a “New and Different Partnership Model” that should be on everyone’s radar. The Center provides the following description of their origin story:

Our journey began in 2013 when Tristan Harris, then a Google Design Ethicist, created the viral presentation, “A Call to Minimize Distraction & Respect Users’ Attention.” The presentation, followed by two TED talks and a 60 Minutes interview, sparked the Time Well Spent movement and laid the groundwork for the founding of the Center for Humane Technology (CHT) as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2018.

While many people are familiar with our work through The Social Dilemma, our focus goes beyond the negative effects of social media. We work to expose the drivers behind all extractive technologies steering our thoughts, behaviors, and actions. We believe that by understanding the root causes of harmful technology, we can work together to build a more humane future.”

Cybersecurity for the IoT: How trust can unlock value

Jeffrey Caso, Zina Cole, Mark Patel, and Wendy Zhu

For today’s fragmented Internet of Things (IoT) to reach its potential as a fully interconnected ecosystem, the answer may lie in the convergence of cybersecurity and the IoT.

The Internet of Things (IoT) poses dramatic possibilities for transforming work and everyday life. The IoT, in plain terms, is the intersection of the physical and digital world, with devices of all kinds harnessing the power of interconnectivity to provide seamless experiences for consumers and businesses alike.

At the moment, however, the IoT is at a crossroads. Will it continue to provide incremental value amid siloed clusters, or will it unlock massive value as a fully interconnected IoT ecosystem? That “unlock ”—and thus the answer to that question—depends on the transition to a truly integrated IoT network within and across industry verticals.

Core obstacles must be confronted to achieve such a network. Chief among them is cybersecurity risk, which stands in the way of the trust needed to integrate IoT applications and networks. The solution lies in the convergence of the IoT and cybersecurity—the combination of any technical, functional, or commercial element of the IoT with cybersecurity to form a new, integrated whole. We shouldn’t understate how significant this breakthrough could be for key applications (such as automobiles, healthcare, and smart cities).

This article explores the nature of that convergence, the opportunities it will offer, and the challenges involved in achieving it. Providers of integrated solutions can engage in transformative adaptations to consolidate today’s fragmented IoT and cybersecurity ecosystem. With strategies and partnerships aimed at the convergence of the IoT and cybersecurity, industry and consumers alike can realize the remarkable possibilities that lie ahead.1

The IoT and cybersecurity landscape

A question commonly asked by technology leaders across the globe: What are the key factors inhibiting wide-scale IoT adoption today? Driven by our hypothesis that the convergence of the IoT and cybersecurity can unlock a massive amount of new value, we explored the IoT landscape to understand better the obstacles to broad IoT adoption and how they might be overcome.2

Across industry verticals, applications of the IoT continue to expand, and a shift has occurred from clusters of siloed IoT devices to interconnected IoT environments. This is especially apparent in settings such as factory floors and automotive vehicles. However, the IoT hasn’t yet scaled as quickly as expected, and the IoT industry hasn’t achieved a genuinely seamless experience in which devices pass into and out of physical environments and are identified, trusted, and managed without a need for separate (and at times manual) authentication steps.

A Precautionary Approach to Artificial Intelligence


Artificial intelligence is a perfect example of a “post-normal” scientific puzzle, defined by empirical uncertainty, conflicting values, high stakes, and urgency. For these challenges policy cannot afford to wait for science to catch up.

FLORENCE – For policymakers anywhere, the best way to make decisions is to base them on evidence, however imperfect the available data may be. But what should leaders do when facts are scarce or non-existent? That is the quandary facing those who must grapple with the fallout of “advanced predictive algorithms” – the binary building blocks of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

In academic circles, AI-minded scholars are either “singularitarians” or “presentists.” Singularitarians generally argue that while AI technologies pose an existential threat to humanity, the benefits outweigh the costs. But although this group includes many tech luminaries and attracts significant funding, its academic output has so far failed to prove their calculus convincingly.

On the other side, presentists tend to focus on the fairness, accountability, and transparency of new technologies. They are concerned, for example, with how automation will affect the labor market. But here, too, the research has been unpersuasive. For example, MIT Technology Review recently compared the findings of 19 major studies examining predicted job losses, and found that forecasts for the number of globally “destroyed” jobs vary from 1.8 million to two billion.

The Promise and Peril of Generative AI


While tools like ChatGPT could displace millions of workers, they could also bring about the productivity growth needed to boost incomes and living standards. But to ensure that this powerful technology delivers widely shared benefits, we must heed the lessons of the last wave of digital innovation.

CAMBRIDGE – Ever since OpenAI released its ChatGPT chatbot last year, a growing number of analysts have been predicting that generative artificial intelligence will displace millions of workers and cause widespread economic upheaval. But how exactly will generative AI affect the global economy?

Recent estimates provide an indication of the looming labor-market disruption. Goldman Sachs economists, for example, anticipate that as many as 300 million full-time jobs could be automated as a result of the latest AI breakthroughs and that two-thirds of workers in Europe and the United States could be exposed to AI-based automation. A working paper by researchers at OpenAI finds that roughly 80% of the US workforce could see at least some of their tasks automated by the introduction of large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT. And some law firms and marketers have already begun to use generative AI tools.

But it is still unclear whether the new AIs will improve existing employees’ productivity by taking routine tasks off their hands, or simply make workers technologically redundant. To be sure, many white-collar workers would be delighted if AI tools could take on dull tasks like keeping minutes during meetings, answering routine queries, or filing expense claims. But many believe – as Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson recently argued – that the current generative AI arms race is geared toward reducing costs by replacing workers with algorithms, rather than harnessing the power of these technologies to augment human labor.

Troubled Waters: The Geopolitics Of Deep-Sea Mining – Analysis

Arman Sidhu

Following its decision to accept applications for deep-sea mining this July, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN affiliate organization, has renewed interest in an emerging realm of geopolitical competition. Despite concerns over the lack of scientific research and the potential environmental impact, the momentum for deep-sea mining stems from global demand for “battery metals” to fulfill the intricate supply chain needs for manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and clean energy infrastructure. Lucrative deposits of cobalt, nickel, manganese, and Rare Earth Elements (REEs) have all been linked to deep-sea mining, with China, Russia, and Norway representing some of the most eager of participants in the nascent and controversial industry.

Deep-sea mining is the process of extracting minerals from the ocean floor. Unlike traditional forms of mining, which involve extracting minerals from the earth’s crust, deep-sea mining involves collecting nodules, crusts, and other deposits that have formed on the ocean floor over millions of years. These deposits are often found in areas known as polymetallic nodules, which cover large swaths of the ocean floor. These nodules are in areas that are thousands of meters deep, requiring significant capex spending and specialized technical equipment to bring the metals to surface for processing.

At present, research on the potential long-term implications of deep-sea mining is limited, prompting calls for a global moratorium on the practice from NGOs like Greenpeace, as well as several governments, including France, Germany, and Chile. The dearth of available scientific research led the ISA to take a gradual approach toward the development of standards and regulations for deep-sea mining. However, given current ISA provisions, the body is required to vet applications for deep-sea mining using whatever regulations currently exist by the time the application is received. The ISA also requires prospective mining contractors to obtain sponsorship by an ISA member, but with only three months remaining to develop regulations, the likelihood of resolving existing concerns from the ISA’s pro-mortarium members is low.