14 April 2023

China in the Cyber Domain, Major General PK Mallick, VSM, Prints Publications Pvt Ltd. 2022. ISBN:978-93-936740-4-3

Colonel Rajiv Kumar Srivastava

Millions of smartphones or computers and their hardware all over the world with made-in-China tags provide a sense that the Dragon country is perhaps one of the most advanced IT-enabled countries. PLA soldiers are safe behind their high-tech Digital Fortress. Most of us have lived in this delusion for so many decades. General PK Mallick not only dispells this myth but also tears into the Chinese Digital Fortress. He brings out that China may have an advantage in hardware production. Still, for the lack of indigenous production of semiconductors, an essential component for IT, their dependency on other countries for connected software coding and its components has its inherent vulnerability fallout through the backdoor. Chinese cyber firewall may not be impregnable. American or Russians and not Chinese have dominated the antivirus domain. The reader will know about ‘Eight Guardian Warriors’ of America, whose software is the backbone of Chinese Cyber architecture. Even their exclusive IT manufacturing company, like Huawei’s smart products switches and hardware, may have been contaminated by the National Security Agency of America. In this book on Cyber domain of China, a closer look provided by General PK Mallick peels open hidden weaknesses of the Chinese Cyber Domain to the core.

PLA is creating situations unworthy of a professional army of the twenty-first century with their uncivilised and hooliganism along the Line of Actual Control with India in fighting with ancient barbaric tools like maces spiked with nails. On the other hand, China brought in their sophisticated satellite tracking vessel Yuan Wang 5 at Hambantota Port of Sri Lanka (16 -22 August 22). The importance of this sophisticated warship disguised as a civilian marine survey ship would not have come to the fore without detailed knowledge of military-civil fusion for creating dual-purpose hardware platforms of PLA. It is becoming more prudent to examine the hard and soft military power of PLA as it will continue to manifest soon. While frontline warriors will fight Kinetic War for occupation of legitimised land, the importance of winning the mind game through soft power will remain. This book looking into the contemporary soft power of China will facilitate not only an understanding of the digital fortress of PLA in forward areas by frontline warriors but also national planners to think and plan aggressively to counter threats of the cyber domain.

A new Asian order takes shape

Mohammed Soliman

By building up the notion of the Indo-Pacific as a critical region, Shinzo Abe, the late Japanese prime minister, created a strategic framework that presaged the geopolitical and economic integration now taking place across Asia and parts of Africa. As South Asian and Middle Eastern countries merge into West Asia, a new continental order could reshape the global balance of power.

During his first visit to India as prime minister, in August 2007, Abe delivered his seminal ‘Confluence of the two seas’ speech to the Indian parliament. Abe drew his speech title from a book written by the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh in 1655, which explored the commonalities between Islam and Hinduism as neighbouring religious and civilisational constructs. The Pacific and Indian Oceans also share many commonalities, Abe noted. The ‘dynamic coupling’ of these ‘seas of freedom and of prosperity’ would transform not only the Indo-Pacific region but also ‘broader Asia’.

But Abe, who was assassinated last July, had more than just maritime metaphors in mind. His overarching goal was to build the most consequential bilateral relationship in the Indo-Pacific: India and Japan. As one of the first Asian leaders to recognise the global and regional impact of China’s rise, Abe went on a one-man crusade to create a viable new balance of power. By expanding the geopolitical dimensions of the Asia–Pacific region and pushing it westward towards the Indian Ocean, he helped shift the region’s strategic profile.

Abe’s 2007 speech highlighted the intellectual vacuum in Washington at the time. While the United States was at the height of its ill-fated ‘war on terror’ and mired in two protracted, costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Abe sought to redefine the Indo-Pacific on Japan’s terms, as a rival to the China-centric ‘community of common destiny’.

What Do We Know About India’s New Space Policy?

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

On April 6, the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security approved India’s space policy. The Indian Space Policy 2023, as it is titled, clarifies the role and responsibilities of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), and the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe), as well as that of the private players in the Indian space sector. The government is yet to issue the text of the policy, but Minister of State for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Jitendra Singh’s interactions with media, as well as media reports, detail the various provisions in the policy.

The new space policy opens up the Indian space sector, providing a place for the private sector to play an active role in augmenting the development and competitiveness of the Indian space program. Facilitating an enhanced role of the private sector allows the ISRO to focus on aspects like the research and development of advanced space technologies, space exploration and other such non-commercial missions.

One of the key aspects of the new policy appears to be the clear outlining of the roles and responsibilities of the different institutional arrangements in India’s space program. A clear outline of the roles and responsibilities of ISRO, NSIL, and IN-SPACe can provide the private sector the clarity that it has long sought.

Singh told the media that the new space policy “will offer clarity in the role of the components set up (in the recent past).” He added that it will facilitate participation of the private sector in end-to-end space activities including building rockets, satellites, and launch vehicles, as well as in data collection and industry.

When Exactly Will India Surpass China as Most Populous?

Mike Schneider and Sibi Arasu

India will surpass China’s population this month. Or maybe in July. Or, perhaps it’s happened already?

Demographers are unsure exactly when India will take the title as the most populous nation in the world because they’re relying on estimates to make their best guess. But they know it’s going to happen soon, if it hasn’t occurred by now.

China has had the most people in the world since at least 1950, the year United Nations population data began. Both China and India have more than 1.4 billion people, and combined they make up more than a third of the world’s 8 billion people.

“Actually, there is no way we can know exactly when India will surpass China,” said Bruno Schoumaker, a demographer at Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium. “There is some uncertainty, not only about India’s population, but also China’s population.”

Mathematical calculations from a range of surveys, as well as birth and death records, project that India will overtake China sometime in the middle of April. But demographers warn that it should be taken with a grain of salt since the numbers are fuzzy and could be revised.

“It’s a crude approximation, a best guess,” said Patrick Gerland, chief of the population estimates and projections section at the U.N. in New York.

Not long ago, India wasn’t expected to become the most populous until later this decade. But the timing has been sped up by a drop in China’s fertility rate, with families having fewer children.

Demographers at the U.N. Population Division make estimates based on projections from a wide variety of data sources to get what they believe are the most up-to-date demographic numbers. The last update to the data used for these calculations for both India and China was July 2022, said Sara Hertog, a U.N. population affairs officer in New York.

A Historical Evaluation of China’s India Policy: Lessons for India-China Relations


The violent clash in the Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh in 2020 fundamentally altered the dynamics of the India-China relationship. China’s increasing transgressions and attempts at coercion in the border areas since 2008–2009 have put the boundary question to the center of the India-China relationship. The salience of this question has also increased because the geopolitical backlash to China’s actions in 2020 has been greater than in previous instances, and because India’s policymakers and strategic community are no longer willing to give Beijing the benefit of the doubt regarding its intentions and actions. This has prompted a comprehensive relook in India at the past, present, and future of the relationship. While much of this has focused on the relationship from the Indian perspective and on trying to understand India’s China policy, the current chill in ties has highlighted the necessity of understanding China’s India policy. Thus, using Chinese sources, this paper analyzes the drivers of that policy and the options available to Indian policymakers to engage with, adapt to, and mold it.

This paper argues that from the time of Mao Zedong’s rise to the helm of the Chinese Communist Party and the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China’s India policy has been shaped by its view of the larger great power strategic triangle of China, the Soviet Union (later Russia), and the United States. As this triangle has evolved, this has had a direct effect on the India-China relationship. For much of the past seventy years, China was the weakest corner of the triangle and therefore driven by goals of security and status. In that context, it saw India—another large, developing country in Asia—as a competitor for security and status alike. As a result, China always looked at India through the lens of its own relations with the Soviet Union and the United States. It did not view India on its own merits, or credit it with agency, but as unequal as well as untrustworthy. China’s objective during the Cold War was to keep India as neutral as possible. In the post–Cold War period, the goal evolved to limit through containment and coercion India’s capacity to harm China’s strategic goal of hegemony.

This paper analyzes China’s India policy in three phases. In the first phase between 1949 and 1962, China viewed the United States as its primary adversary and its core objective was to keep India neutral and away from the U.S. camp on matters of concern to Beijing. Flowing from this was the secondary objective of utilizing India’s influence in the developing world to build “Asian solidarity” to stem U.S. inroads into Asia.

Analysing China’s threat perception of India-United States relations

Anushka Saxena 

As India and China are engaged in continued dialogue on resolving the boundary issue, including through the recently conducted high-level meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, China faces a challenging theatre in its neighbourhood — the India-US alliance. Due to its threat perception of increasing proximity between India and the US, China inflates narratives of discord between the two countries, while also hyping up the nature of the challenge it faces, in order to arm-twist India into maintaining a more autonomous policy.

China’s geopolitical ambitions and strategies are dominated by competition with the US. This can be gauged from the conflicting responses of the two parties on critical tech supply chain resilience and self-reliance, the Russia-Ukraine war, or the larger hierarchy of power prevalent in the Indo-Pacific. Naturally, China is also wary of US interference in India’s China policy. For example, this wariness plays out in how China narrativises the US’ presence in the Indo-Pacific, and what role it sees for India in it.

The Chinese project India as a “key variable” in the US’ Indo-Pacific Strategy, and view India’s enhancing engagement with the Quad as an active effort to balance and contain it. Even recently, in November 2022, China criticised joint India-US military drills in Uttarakhand as “not conducive to the trust between India and China.”

At the same time, they express relief at India’s withdrawal from the trade pillar of the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. In India’s move, Chinese analysts find the implication that India and the US have an unresolvable dispute over the mechanism, which means that the “Western hype of ‘the US succeeded in winning over India’” is “nonsense.” Overall, in the endeavour to make more believable the threat of an India-US nexus, China inflates such narratives, and acts to coerce India into maintaining an autonomous policy.

United States Institute for Peace report on deepening China–Pakistan military relations inspires calls for the West to wake up

As per a study titled The China Index 2022 conducted by the China in the World (CITW) network of the Taiwan-based anti-disinformation group Doublethink Lab, Pakistan stands at the top of a list of 82 countries over which China exercises most influence.

According to the study, which was published in December last year, China’s influence in Pakistan was most active in the domains of technology, foreign policy and military.

All these three spheres find mention in the 22 March Special Report titled ‘A Threshold Alliance: The China-Pakistan Military Relationship’ by Sameer Lalwani, senior fellow at the Stimson Center, for the United States Institute for Peace (USIP).

Lalwani’s focus, though, was on the deepening military relationship between Beijing and Islamabad.

The expanding contours of that relationship that were highlighted by Lalwani led some to question whether it dwarfed even the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as far as Chinese influence over Pakistan was concerned.

The strengthening Chinese dominance over Pakistan is emerging as a cause of worry for the rest of South Asia, with regional experts also calling upon the West to wake up on the issue.

The USIP Special Report avers that geopolitical shifts in South Asia over the past decade, driven by sharper US-China competition, a precipitous decline in China-India relations, and the 2021 withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, have pushed the Chinese and Pakistani militaries closer together. The countries’ armies and navies are increasingly sharing equipment, engaging in more sophisticated joint exercises, and interacting more closely through staff and officer exchanges. The report examines how China and Pakistan appear to be building these shared capabilities and interoperability through arms transfers, exercises, and basing. It explores China-Pakistan military cooperation through three areas: arms transfers and co-development, military diplomacy and exercises, and military basing preparations and contingencies.

The Shared Poison of China’s Democracy Charade

Aaron Rhodes

The 2023 Summit for Democracy, initiated by the United States and co-hosted by Zambia, South Korea, the Netherlands, and Costa Rica, concluded on March 30, after affirming that “free, fair, and transparent elections” are “the foundation of democratic governance.” A week before, the People’s Republic of China held its own Second International Forum on Democracy. It took up such anodyne topics as “Democracy and Sustainable Development,” “Democracy and Innovation,” “Democracy and Global Governance,” “Democracy and the Diversity of Human Civilization” and “Democracy and the Path to Modernization.”

China’s Forum on Democracy was not about ensuring political freedom and self-government, but rather detaching the idea of democracy from its essence before an audience in the grip of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). At its philosophical core, the project is being mirrored by developments in Western democracies.

Manipulation of the concept of democracy by the CCP began before its takeover in 1949; the revolution would succeed with a promise of democracy, then abandon it when power had been achieved. During his long struggle to assume control of China, Mao Zedong proposed the “New Democracy” concept to establish “a democratic republic under the joint dictatorship of all anti-imperialist and anti-feudal forces led by the proletariat.” Mao believed the Chinese Revolution should be done in “two steps“: the first step was to defeat imperialism and feudalism, and establish a new, democratic society through a democratic revolution; the second step was to continue the socialist revolution based on this foundation, and gradually transition China into a socialist society.

Mao scrapped “New Democracy” in the early 1950s, but subsequent Chinese leaders unveiled other democratic concepts to promote their programs. Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zeming advocated for “socialist democracy,” claiming that “without democracy, there can be no socialism, and without socialism, there can be no modernization. The purpose of political system reform is to eliminate disadvantages and develop a socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics.”

Confronting China and Catching Up on Chips

Christopher Cytera

The US and the EU are gearing up to spend large amounts of public funds to boost domestic semiconductor production. Success is far from certain.

The United States and the European Union (EU) are aligned on the security risks of an unstable semiconductor supply chain—and yet they risk fighting over how to repair it.

Both Washington and Brussels fear that Chinese chips in Western electronics could be used for surveillance and intelligence gathering. Both have launched expensive public-funded programs to build up their own industries. At the transatlantic Trade and Technology Council (TTC), a key focus is to ensure these semiconductor support programs are complimentary, not competitive. The TTC is also developing “an early warning system to address and mitigate semiconductor supply chain disruptions.” 1

While it is hard to justify state intervention in most areas of a free market economy, the desire to mitigate security risks justifies extraordinary government intervention. Semiconductors drive the essential tools of contemporary life, from smartphones to automobiles. They are crucial to military prowess, guiding missiles, controlling jets, and running secure communications systems. While the industry is cyclical, demand is expected to boom in the coming decade. The global semiconductor market exceeded $500bn in sales in 2022 and is expected to expand into a trillion-dollar industry by 2030, according to a recent McKinsey & Company report. 2

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a shortage of chips wreaked havoc on entire industries, causing deep economic pain and generating geopolitical tensions. In response, the United States, the EU, and China have unveiled ambitious public-funded programs to strengthen their chip industries.

Even so, the EU and US projects entail big risks. The European and US timelines differ: The United States already has approved its chips plan, while the EU continues to debate its legislative proposal. Despite their avowed aim of avoiding duplication, critics fear an inevitable overlap. The giant European and US state-funded subsidy programs could end up spent on white elephant chip-manufacturing facilities, producing a global glut. Signs of a short-term chips glut are already becoming evident. 3

Conflict in a Crowded Sea: Risks of Escalation in the South China Sea

Alexander C. Tan and Neel Vanvari

Since the Russian-Ukraine War began in February 2022, speculation about the possibility of China attacking Taiwan has been rife. Several U.S. and Taiwanese officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, have voiced concerns about China’s enhanced military capabilities and the possibility of China invading Taiwan as early as 2025 or 2027.

However, while the world’s attention remains fixated on the Taiwan Strait, concurrent developments in the South China Sea indicate that the possibility of the sea becoming a flashpoint should not be ignored.

Wargame exercises undertaken by the Center of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a U.S.-based think tank, concluded that the cost of war across the Taiwan Strait will be high for all sides. Accounting for the possibility of the United States and its allies like Japan and Australia getting involved in such a conflict as well, the study concludes that the economic cost for Beijing is going to be considerable. This alone is going to be a significant factor influencing China’s decision making when it comes to Taiwan.

The dynamics at play in the South China Sea are different from the Taiwan Strait. Unlike the Taiwan Strait, a conflict in the South China Sea may not require the invasion of the sovereign land territory of a rival claimant state. The source of the conflict is competing territorial claims made at sea, which are contested and not recognized by other littoral states in the region.

Takshashila Position Paper - Chinese Economy: A Bird’s Eye View

The Chinese economy has suffered serious setbacks across sectors due to the disruptions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The restrictions and crackdown imposed as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s flagship zero-COVID policy exacerbated the economic impact of the pandemic. Since the scrapping of the zero-COVID policy in early December and the subsequent easing of policies related to the property sector, most international financial institutions forecast that China’s GDP growth will be around 5%.

However, we observe that despite positive projections, significant medium-to-long-term structural challenges persist. The quest to boost growth in the near term, in fact, will likely delay further action to address these.

Shifts in economic policy, occurring in the three-month period between November 2022 and January 2023, indicate a more extensive focus on stimulating growth by easing fiscal and monetary policies. The immediate concerns focus on boosting confidence, addressing COVID-related challenges, generating employment, ensuring food and energy price and supply stability, supporting the property sector, expanding domestic consumption through supply-side investments and not exacerbating local government budgetary challenges.

Some areas that are likely to see advances are industrial upgradation, core technologies-related work, market diversification, green technologies and low-carbon development. However, reforms needed to address long-term, structural challenges, such as fiscal & tax reform, hukou reform, demand-side consumption support, and developing an enhanced social security net, are unlikely to be pursued.

Finally, China continues to play a central role in the global economy, and broad-based economic decoupling does not appear to be taking place. However, there is intensifying friction with regard to emerging technologies, where splits in the international ecosystem are evident. In addition, Chinese government actions over the past three years, have eroded foreign governments’ and investors’ faith in the predictability, reliability and efficiency of Chinese policymaking.

How The U.S. Navy Could Destroy China’s Aircraft Carriers In A War

Kris Osborn

STRAIT OF MALACCA (June 18, 2021) The Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) transits the South China Sea with the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67). Reagan is part of Task Force 70/Carrier Strike Group 5, conducting underway operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rawad Madanat)

Would China’s new aircraft carrier fleet survive in a war against the U.S. military?

Most research suggests Chinese aircraft carriers would be highly vulnerable in an engagement with the U.S. Navy for several reasons. Here is a quick survey of all of the ways China’s carriers could be placed in danger by the U.S. Navy:


There are near-term or immediate U.S. Navy threats Chinese carriers would face as well as mounting threats in coming years.

For instance, should the U.S. Navy succeed in arming its Zumwalt-class destroyers with hypersonic missiles by 2025 and continue rapid progress to mature and operationalize warship-fired laser weapons, its ability to destroy Chinese carriers will expand immeasurably in coming years.

How Viable Is Russia and Iran’s ‘Sanctions-Evasion’ Corridor?

Yigal Chazan

Isolated by the West, Russia and Iran are looking to ease sanctions pressure by forging a new economic corridor that boosts bilateral trade and connects them with fast-growing India – but the project’s effectiveness could yet be undermined by sanctions as well as logistical challenges and geopolitical tensions.

The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200 km road, rail and maritime link, runs from St Petersburg through southern Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, then on to Mumbai. The corridor, which includes a section across the Caspian Sea and an additional route via Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, has been talked about for a number of years but only really gained momentum since the Ukraine War. Moscow sees the corridor as a means of replacing European trade lost to sanctions. For all those involved, the project substantially reduces transport costs by bypassing the Suez Canal.

The ramping up of US and EU sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine has spurred Russia to bolster trading links with Iran and reach out to India, whose Russian imports have quadrupled. Delhi has defied the West by maintaining economic ties with Moscow and has ambitions to use INSTC to strengthen commercial engagement with Central Asia and Europe.

Corridor countries are investing heavily in the enterprise, Russia and Iran reportedly to the tune of $25 billion. The first shipments began last year – the annual cargo transit target 30 million tonnes by 2030. But there are big obstacles.

The project remains incomplete, a fact highlighted by Russia’s close ally Belarus. While wanting to join INSTC, Belarussian prime minister, Roman Golovchenko, has spoken of “the need to address the problem of missing infrastructure.” One of the main gaps is the long-delayed 164 km Rasht-Astara railway line in Iran. Funding issues have held up its completion, though now Russia has apparently agreed to finance the work.

The Iranian economics daily the Financial Tribune cites other Iranian logistical issues, such as a major shortage of rail cargo wagons and road transport capacity as well as bureaucratic obstacles that slow down transit traffic. The publication also points to the small size of the Iranian fleet in the Caspian Sea; the limited number of roll-on/roll-off ships trading between Iran and Russia along the waterway; the fact that the southern Russian port of Astrakhan freezes in the winter, seriously restricting access; and the lack of dredging in the Volga River and the Volga-Don Canal decreasing ship-loading capacity.

Putin’s Peril The Kremlin’s Strongman Is Not as Secure as He Seems

Tatiana Stanovaya

In just under a year, on March 17, Russians will head to the polls for the 2024 presidential election. Given the country’s current social and political conditions, few people doubt that President Vladimir Putin will easily receive a sixth term. According to some Russian media outlets, Putin’s team plans on making sure the president gets more than the record-breaking 77 percent of the vote he won in 2018.

In theory, this target should be easy to meet. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is broadly supported at home, and polling from the independent Levada Center shows that Putin’s approval rating is at a near-record high. The Kremlin dominates Russia’s media and can easily arrest or otherwise silence any critics. Russia’s controlled opposition groups—the pliant political parties authorized by the Kremlin to field candidates against Putin—have never been more supportive of the president. As it stands, they are unlikely to nominate a presidential candidate who could take even modest shares of the vote. They might actually outwardly align with the Kremlin to ensure that Putin hits his desired electoral margins.

But today in Moscow, little is certain about the future. The war has thrust Russia into a period of pervasive unpredictability in which no one feels safe and it is impossible for policymakers to engage in even short-term planning. Recently leaked recordings of a conversation between the famous Russian music producer Iosif Prigozhin and the former senator Farhad Akhmedov showed that both were enraged at Russia’s leadership and believed the country’s policymakers lacked the capacity to make critical decisions. They also alleged that several of Russia’s most powerful people, including the leader of its National Guard, were plotting against the country’s defense minister. Their statements are representative of what Russian elites say to one another when they think no one is listening, and they suggest high levels of discontent.

U.S. in crisis mode with allies after Ukraine intel leak


Senior U.S. officials are racing to placate frustrated and confused allies from Europe to the Middle East to Kyiv following the leak of highly classified information about the war in Ukraine and other global issues.

After the news of the leak broke last week, senior intelligence, State Department and Pentagon officials reached out to their counterparts to quell worries about the publishing of the intel, according to four officials — an American, two European and one Five Eyes member — familiar with those conversations.

One said that members of the Five Eyes — the intelligence consortium of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand — have asked for briefings from Washington but have yet to receive a substantive response. Inquiries have been sent separately to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Meanwhile, officials in London, Brussels, Berlin, Dubai and Kyiv questioned Washington about how the information ended up online, who was responsible for the leak and what the U.S. was doing to ensure the information was removed from social media. They also questioned whether the Biden administration was taking steps to limit the distribution of future intelligence. As of Monday morning, U.S. officials had told allies the administration was investigating and that they were still trying to understand the full scope of the leak, the European officials said.

Mark Esper, others question 'trust' amid classified leak

The woman at the heart of Europe

Just days after Ursula von der Leyen returned from a visit to China on April 7th, the president of the European Commission had been due to fly to South America to nudge a trade deal along. In a small act of mercy, the meeting with the Brazilian president has had to be postponed. She probably needs the breather. In the last four months her diary has included a visit to President Joe Biden in Washington, a well-received address to the Canadian parliament, tea with King Charles near London, a guest appearance at a German cabinet meeting, repeat summits of the eu’s 27 national heads in Brussels and trips to see the leaders of France, Italy, Sweden, Estonia, Britain, Norway and Ukraine. Next month she will jet off to attend the g7 summit in Japan.

These jaunts are no grandstanding indulgence. The eu is in the midst of upheaval. War on the European continent has forced a recasting of its six-decade peace project. Mrs von der Leyen is shaping the response to the challenges buffeting the eu, from missing Russian gas to anaemic defence spending. Its economy, just out of covid-19, is on a new set of tracks, the better to counter America’s protectionist green subsidies, lessen Europe’s over-reliance on China and deal with the imperatives of climate change.

Finland’s Long Road West

Bradley Reynolds 

The removal of the last remaining Lenin statues in Finland in 2022 highlighted a change in how perceptions of Russia have shifted in Finland post-February 24, 2022.

A rethinking of Finland’s post–Cold War (1990–2021) relationship with Russia has grown in the past year, much as happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union some three decades earlier. Previously, the end of the Cold War was considered the end of Finlandization and Moscow trying to limit Finland’s sovereignty. Finland’s decision to seek NATO membership and the sea change in public sentiment and foreign policy toward Russia mark a definitive pivot in the relationship between these two geographic neighbors.

In September 2022, national surveys highlighted that 70 percent of Finns were in favor of ending visa issuances to Russian citizens. The head of the organization that conducted the survey interpreted the data by saying “the majority [of Finns] want to push back against Russia” and that Finns’ opinions have shifted to the same camp as the Baltic countries’ and Poles’ opinions. Finns’ previous reticence regarding America is also argued to be on the decline.

Understanding Finlandization

Finnish NATO membership was termed by the head of the National Coalition Party, Petteri Orpo, a final step in Finland joining the West. While this perspective is not uniformly accepted domestically, some researchers have endorsed it, saying that “the dust of Finlandization has been brushed off” and that Finnish NATO membership is the “culmination of Finland’s post–Cold War history.”

In international politics, “Finlandization” is considered a foreign policy strategy whereby a smaller state adapts certain domestic and foreign policies to the interest of a larger, often neighboring, country. In Finland, the term has emotional resonance and has influenced the debate on the country’s political culture, as well as over how Russia should be discussed in domestic politics. In this way, Finlandization became a keystone for debating the morality of Finland’s Cold War relationship with Russia.

Pentagon Diversity Degrades Meritocracy

Forrest Marion

Recently, “Real Time” host Bill Maher came out in favor of meritocracy. Maher identified professional sports as the “last refuge of meritocracy in America.” He continued, “Sports is the last place where it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, just what you do.” Until the last few years, one might have expected the U.S. Department of Defense to have held stubbornly to Maher’s newsworthy “just what you do” matters observation.

Since 2021 the Pentagon’s unmistakable abandonment of meritocracy in lieu of “diversity” has contributed to an overall decline in combat readiness – one documented by the Heritage Foundation, among others. This dangerous trend is despite an end to U.S. contingency operations in Afghanistan and reduced operations in Southwest Asia, which under normal circumstances ought to have facilitated a degree of reconstitution of forces and resulting increased readiness.

In May 2021, the firing of Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier served as an early indicator of the Biden Pentagon’s commitment to radical, ideologically based priorities at odds with traditional merit-based readiness. Lohmeier, a U.S. Space Force squadron commander, had just published a book that addressed his views on quasi-Marxist influences within the U.S. military. During a podcast promoting his book, Lohmeier stated that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was promoting “diversity, inclusion, and equity [DIE or DEI],” which are “rooted in critical race theory [CRT], which is rooted in Marxism.” Lohmeier was immediately relieved of command on the grounds of participating in “prohibited partisan political activity.” Following Lohmeier’s firing, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) wrote a letter to Secretary Austin to express his concerns, beginning with the fact that Lohmeier had been relieved prior to any investigation. Wicker declared,

Report: U.S. military satellite antennas overdue for upgrades

Sandra Erwin
Satellite Control Network. Credit: GAO

WASHINGTON — The ground terminals used to operate U.S. military and intelligence satellites are running out of capacity and in dire need of upgrades, warns a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

GAO auditors spent more than a year investigating the state of the Satellite Control Network, operated by the U.S. Space Force. The network of 19 parabolic antennas, first established in 1959, is distributed across seven locations around the world.

The SCN is facing “obsolescence challenges and potential capacity gaps as DoD and other agencies launch more satellite systems that will rely on the network,” says GAO in the report released April 10.

Russia Reveals Plan to Combat New Wave of Western Weapons: 'Tank Hunters'


Russia is assembling and training anti-tank units to counter Ukraine's Western-supplied armor.
Ukraine has already received powerful German and British tanks, and American Abrams tanks are set to arrive by this fall.
Russia's so-called "tank hunters" are currently being trained by veteran instructors, according to a report from Russian state media.
The anti-tank units will reportedly be equipped with guided missile launchers and reconnaissance drones.

Russia is assembling and training troop units of what's been dubbed "tank hunters" to combat modern armor provided to Ukraine from its Western allies, according to an official who spoke to Russian state media.

Evgeny Arifulin, who heads a military training center in Russia, told the Kremlin-owned Zvezda TV channel on Sunday that Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov had ordered the creation of these so-called "tank hunters" or "tank killers."

Ukraine recently received Challenger 2 tanks from the United Kingdom and German Leopard 2 tanks, as well as Cougar armored trucks and Stryker fighter vehicles from the United States. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's forces are also expected to be delivered American Abrams tanks later this year after the U.S. announced in March that it would send older M1-A1 models since a new version of the tanks would take a year or more to arrive to the war-torn country.

"This is large-scale, systemic work which is being carried out at state level," Arifulin said to Zvezda TV, according to a translation by Russian state outlet RT. "We know all [the tanks'] strengths and weaknesses and train the personnel [to fight the vehicles]."

Washington Does Damage Control on Ukraine War Leaks

Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer

The Biden administration and Ukrainian officials have jumped into damage control mode after they became aware late last week that a large cache of alleged secret U.S. military documents revealing granular details of Ukraine’s dwindling supplies and troop dispositions had been leaked, raising fears of a possible rupture in trust between Washington and Kyiv and other U.S. allies more than a year into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Pentagon leak reinforces what we already know: US-NATO in it to win

Anatol Lieven

The documents on the war in Ukraine leaked from the Pentagon and other U.S. security bodies only confirm what anyone paying attention already knew: that the United States and NATO are massively and critically involved in arming and training Ukraine, and providing detailed intelligence to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Without this help, Ukraine might perhaps be able to stand on the defensive, but it could never hope to launch its planned offensive to recapture the remaining territory lost to Russia. According to the leaked documents, the Pentagon has assessed the most favorable moment for this offensive as mid-May, once the mud created by Spring rains has dried out (and as I can testify from my own trip to Ukraine last month, mud is still a really serious obstacle to movement there).

Nonetheless, the leak provides some interesting granular detail, which with one exception, appears to be genuine. Figures were apparently doctored to make U.S. estimates show higher Ukrainian and lower Russian casualties. But this is a relatively unimportant point, since the documents themselves state that the casualty assessments are of low reliability — as I have found myself in trying to form even a very rough estimate of Ukrainian losses.

The authenticity of the documents has been acknowledged by Pentagon sources, and the Department of Justice has launched an investigation into who was responsible for the leak. Among the details revealed are that nine out of twelve “combat credible” Ukrainian brigades being prepared for the forthcoming offensive are fully trained and equipped by NATO. Training for these troops is being provided not only in the West but by 71 U.S. military personnel who are stationed within Ukraine, together with 97 NATO special operations soldiers.

The Pentagon’s Purported Classified-Document Leak: The Biggest Takeaways and Questions So Far

Nancy A. Youssef

The U.S. is seeking to assess the damage from an intelligence breach that could be one of the most significant leaks of highly classified U.S. documents in recent history after U.S. officials discovered images of such purported documents circulating online in early April.

The Wall Street Journal wasn’t able to independently authenticate the documents, but they contain enough detail to give them credibility. Defense officials have said they believe some of the documents could be authentic, though some also appear to have been altered.

The unauthorized disclosures appear to provide details about the war in Ukraine, intercepted communications about U.S. allies such as Israel and South Korea, and details of American penetration of Russian military plans, among other topics. Officials have said the leak is likely to have an impact on U.S. national security worldwide. Here’s our guide to the leak:
What classified documents were leaked?

At least 50 documents with Secret and Top Secret classification markings have surfaced so far, and have been viewed by the Journal and a variety of independent intelligence analysts.

A Pentagon spokeswoman has said the department was reviewing and assessing the validity of the photographed documents “that appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material.” She said the U.S. had discussed the matter with allies over the weekend and was weighing the potential national-security impact of the breach.

Why do we think Putin won’t use ‘the bomb’?


Recently, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told Congress that the odds Russia would use nuclear weapons are low: “I don’t think they’re likely to do so.” The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War reported in March that “Russian invocations of nuclear threats … do not represent any material Russian intent to employ nuclear weapons.”

Why do we think Vladimir Putin will not use “the bomb” when there is so much evidence that he will?

Russia’s war in Ukraine has created many strategic risks, none more important to America than the possibility of a nuclear weapon. Western leaders wonder what “red lines” Putin might be watching and how to avoid crossing them while supporting Ukraine. But Putin is not waiting for a misstep by the West. He has been building the conditions for nuclear use since early in the war and is ready to use a nuclear weapon whenever he decides. He has done all this in the open, so there can be no doubt that he is serious about the nuclear threat.

In the first three months of 2023, Putin has taken several public steps to make his nuclear threats real. In February, he signed a law “suspending” Russia’s participation in the strategic nuclear arms treaty, START. In March, Putin announced he will “place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus,” where nuclear capable Iskander missile systems are already deployed. These steps come as Putin and his inner circle continue their threats to use nuclear weapons.

When asked the odds that Putin might use a nuclear weapon in the current struggle, we opine “not likely” or “less than 50 percent.” Similar assessments were wrong about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. We can’t afford to be wrong about nuclear weapons now.

So far, the threat of a nuclear strike has not been enough to convince the West to withdraw support of Ukraine, limit NATO, or end the so-called meddling in Russia’s near abroad — all demands by Putin. From Putin’s perch, continuing to threaten a nuclear attack without doing it carries perhaps as much risk as doing it.

The ongoing scandal over leaked US intel documents, explained

Jonathan Guyer

Jonathan Guyer covers foreign policy, national security, and global affairs for Vox. From 2019 to 2021, he worked at the American Prospect, where as managing editor he reported on Biden’s and Trump's foreign policy teams.

On Friday, news organizations realized something quite remarkable: A trove of 100 secret US military and intelligence documents had been posted in the far-flung corners of the internet.

The files reveal closely held information about US operations, like a suggestion there are up to 100 NATO special operations officials in Ukraine, and details about casualty counts for both Russia and Ukraine. They indicate that the US has infiltrated Russian intelligence groups and has inside knowledge of hacking attempts on a Canadian pipeline. And they show in some detail what the US has gleaned from spying on partners such as Israel, Egypt, and South Korea.

And most bizarrely, the documents surfaced more than a month earlier on anonymous, decentralized web forums dedicated to gaming, like a Discord channel devoted to Minecraft, and after that on 4chan.

The classified files emerged as recently photographed folded documents that may have appeared as daily briefings for the military’s top leaders. If they are authentic, the documents represent a major intelligence breach and offer insights into the US role in defending Ukraine from Russia’s invasion and other major geopolitical arenas.

For now, the documents’ ambiguous provenance, the somewhat surprising platform on which they were first posted, the signs that at least several were doctored, and the inability to independently verify them mean it’s difficult to draw sweeping conclusions. The motive for the documents’ publication is obscured by the jokey online exchanges in which they were shared.

Green Upheaval - The New Geopolitics of Energy

Jason Bordoff and Meghan L. O’Sullivan

It is not hard to understand why people dream of a future defined by clean energy. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow and as extreme weather events become more frequent and harmful, the current efforts to move beyond fossil fuels appear woefully inadequate. Adding to the frustration, the geopolitics of oil and gas are alive and well—and as fraught as ever. Europe is in the throes of a full-fledged energy crisis, with staggering electricity prices forcing businesses across the continent to shutter and energy firms to declare bankruptcy, positioning Russian President Vladimir Putin to take advantage of his neighbors’ struggles by leveraging his country’s natural gas reserves. In September, blackouts reportedly led Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng to instruct his country’s state-owned energy companies to secure supplies for winter at any cost. And as oil prices surge above $80 per barrel, the United States and other energy-hungry countries are pleading with major producers, including Saudi Arabia, to ramp up their output, giving Riyadh more clout in a newly tense relationship and suggesting the limits of Washington’s energy “independence.”

Proponents of clean energy hope (and sometimes promise) that in addition to mitigating climate change, the energy transition will help make tensions over energy resources a thing of the past. It is true that clean energy will transform geopolitics—just not necessarily in the ways many of its champions expect. The transition will reconfigure many elements of international politics that have shaped the global system since at least World War II, significantly affecting the sources of national power, the process of globalization, relations among the great powers, and the ongoing economic convergence of developed countries and developing ones. The process will be messy at best. And far from fostering comity and cooperation, it will likely produce new forms of competition and confrontation long before a new, more copacetic geopolitics takes shape.

Talk of a smooth transition to clean energy is fanciful: there is no way that the world can avoid major upheavals as it remakes the entire energy system, which is the lifeblood of the global economy and underpins the geopolitical order. Moreover, the conventional wisdom about who will gain and who will lose is frequently off base. The so-called petrostates, for example, may enjoy feasts before they suffer famines, because dependence on the dominant suppliers of fossil fuels, such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, will most likely rise before it falls. And the poorest parts of the world will need to use vast quantities of energy—far more than in the past—to prosper even as they also face the worst consequences of climate change. Meanwhile, clean energy will come to represent a new source of national power but will itself introduce new risks and uncertainties.

Biden Executive Order to Fight Cyber Threats Will Backfire

Dan Gouré

The Biden administration has decided to implement Executive Order (EO) 13984, promulgated during the Trump years with the ponderous title “Taking Additional Steps to Address the National Emergency with Respect to Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.” While the objective is laudable, the approach the EO takes will likely backfire, making it more difficult to defend against threats while having the unintended consequence of harming U.S. industry and consumers.

The IT ecosystem is continually evolving, expanding, and becoming more complex. An example is the rapid growth and increased sophistication of cloud computing. One area of cloud computing that is growing rapidly is called Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). In the IaaS model, the cloud provider offers users physical infrastructure that can include computing, data storage, and networking. The customer takes responsibility for acquiring, operating, and managing their applications and data.

The IaaS environment is increasingly popular with customers and thus a major target for malicious actors. IaaS poses some particularly difficult security challenges. The responsibility for security is shared between cloud service providers and their customers. Complicating the security situation is the fact that many customers acquire IaaS from multiple providers. Also, customers can acquire services for limited periods of time.

In addition, a whole ecosystem of cloud service resellers has emerged to act as middlemen between actual cloud operators and the customer base. As a consequence, it can be difficult to know the identity of customers, particularly those who are not citizens of the country in which the IaaS provider is operating. Similarly, malicious actors use the inherent flexibility of the IaaS model to rapidly move their activities between providers to escape detection and conduct hostile activities.

The EO focuses on the growing threat posed by foreign malign actors using IaaS products as a means for conducting malicious cyber activities. It is asserted that the fluid nature of the IaaS environment makes it particularly difficult to track foreign actors through existing legal means.

Biden Administration Weighs Possible Rules for AI Tools Like ChatGPT

Ryan Tracy

WASHINGTON—The Biden administration has begun examining whether checks need to be placed on artificial-intelligence tools such as ChatGPT, amid growing concerns that the technology could be used to discriminate or spread harmful information.

In a first step toward potential regulation, the Commerce Department on Tuesday put out a formal public request for comment on what it called accountability measures, including whether potentially risky new AI models should go through a certification process before they are released.

The boom in artificial-intelligence tools—ChatGPT is said to have reached 100 million users faster than any previous consumer app—has prompted regulators globally to consider curbs on the fast-evolving technology.

China’s top internet regulator on Tuesday proposed strict controls that would, if adopted, obligate Chinese AI companies to ensure their services don’t generate content that could disrupt social order or subvert state power. European Union officials are considering a new law known as the AI Act that would ban certain AI services and impose legal restrictions on others.

“It is amazing to see what these tools can do even in their relative infancy,” said Alan Davidson, who leads the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Commerce Department agency that put out the request for comment. “We know that we need to put some guardrails in place to make sure that they are being used responsibly.”

An Online Meme Group Is at the Center of Uproar Over Leaked Military Secrets

Kellen Browning and Stuart A. Thompson

Over the weekend, a niche community on the social media app Discord became a focus of international attention after it was learned that a user had posted images of leaked documents detailing secret Pentagon intelligence.Credit...Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Kellen Browning, who reported from San Francisco, writes about the video game industry. Stuart A. Thompson, who reported from New York, writes about online information flows.
April 11, 2023

An online community of a few thousand subscribers that followed a YouTube celebrity named wow_mao had for years occupied a small, very male-centric corner of the internet. It was hosted on Discord, a social media app, where young people who were fans of wow_mao swapped humorous digital images and told edgy, sometimes tasteless, jokes.

Over the weekend, wow_mao’s niche community became a focus of international attention after it was learned that a volunteer moderator in his Discord group had posted images of leaked documents detailing secret Pentagon intelligence.

It was all a bit much for wow_mao, who said in an interview on Tuesday that he was a 20-year-old college student who lives in Britain. In a YouTube video a day earlier, he said he was an “internet micro-celebrity, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

The collision of internet youth culture and national security may have seemed bewildering, but it has happened with increasing frequency in recent years. And the surfacing of classified documents on Discord was a reminder of how the digital world has increasingly affected real life in sometimes dangerous ways.

Army working to reduce network complexity for brigades and lower level formations


A U.S. soldier of 4th Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), communicates over the radio during Saber Junction 18 at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Sept. 23 , 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Dhy’Nysha Shaw)

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — As the Army is readying to field its next iteration of modernized network gear, it is now beginning to reduce its complexity for smaller formations, moving it up to the division level and higher.

The Army has been on a years’ long journey to modernize its tactical network with new gear making it easier for soldiers to establish communications and talk in a highly dynamic environment. In a future conflict against a peer adversary, officials say soldiers will have to move much faster across the battlefield than they did previously.

The Army has adopted a multiyear strategy involving the incremental development and delivery of new capabilities to its integrated tactical network, which involves a combination of program-of-record systems and commercial off-the-shelf tools. Those “capability sets” now provide technologies to units every two years — each building upon the previous delivery beginning with capability set 21 for 2021.

While the modernization efforts began about four years ago, in 2019, to provide a baseline level of capability, senior leaders have long been discussing that they need to get complexity out of brigade and below formations.