17 April 2023



India has invested significant sums and resources in constructing and negotiating its military footprint in the Indian Ocean. Delhi has expanded its presence in the Andaman Islands and developed Mauritius’ Agaléga into a base. However, despite its tacit support spanning decades, one key island has remained off limits to Indian military planners: Diego Garcia.

Despite India signing a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the United States in 2016, Indian military use of Diego Garcia remained too politically fraught. Dating back to the 1980s, Mauritius and the United Kingdom have sparred over sovereignty of the Chagos, an archipelago Britain illegally dismembered from the Colony of Mauritius in 1965, so the United States could build a Cold War military facility. Today, the base on Diego Garcia is an anchor of U.S. predominance in not just the Indian Ocean, but also Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. India – a founding Non-Aligned Movement member and self-professed champion of the Global South – has abstained from utilizing Diego Garcia. Taking advantage of Diego Garcia, a base associated with colonial injustice, would open India to accusations of double standards, and upset close relations with Mauritius. Analyst Abhijit Singh in 2020 characterised India’s Diego Garcia conundrum as “a predicament with no easy answers.”

However, news in November 2022 that the United Kingdom and Mauritius will open negotiations for the Chagos, aiming at an agreement in early-2023, should alter India’s strategic calculations. Britain intends to conclude an “agreement on the basis of international law to resolve all outstanding issues,” which strongly hints at a sovereignty transfer to Mauritius in line with the 2019 International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the Chagos.

Such an agreement would partly remove India’s self-imposed pretext for shirking Diego Garcia. Indeed, on announcing upcoming negotiations, UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly stated that Britain “recognize[s] the United States’ and India’s interests and will keep them informed of progress.”

India in a Ukraine peace-negotiating pickle

Bharat Karnad

China’s unexpected diplomatic success in finessing a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran — the poles, respectively, of sunni and shi’ia Islam between which the Muslim world is ostensibly strung, has sparked a little peace-making race.

Because all international negotiations are for geopolitical gain, it may be reasonably assumed that Beijing’s planting itself so conspicuously in Riyadh and in Tehran, has ensured for China virtually limitless sources of oil and gas to meet its burgeoning energy needs. With Gwadar on the Baloch coast too in its grasp, the prospect of its energy traffic through Malacca and Sunda Straits being disrupted at will by India, US and any hard-headed littoral and offshore state in Southeast Asia, singly or in groups, is now less of a strategic concern. With this combination of energy source and Gwadar, the Malacca-Sunda bottleneck stands outflanked, making possible an apparently uninterrupted and uninterruptible energy lifeline to serve both its “all-weather friend”, Pakistan, and its Far-western provinces (Chinese-occupied Tibet and Xinjiang, in the main) that are otherwise cutoff from the sea and, therefore, the world.

Encouraged by its negotiating success in West Asia, China may be preparing to reprise its role in Ukraine. It has had the immediate effect of blunting the effects of bad press its military coercion against Taiwan is attracting. With Emannuel Macron, the peripatetic President of France who, perhaps to escape the labour unrest he uncorked in his country has taken to foreign travel to calm the political jitters, is in the forefront of European leaders asking Chinese President Xi Jinping to capitalise on his close relations with the Russian bossman,Vladimir Putin, and end the conflict in Ukraine. Realizing he may have gone out on a limb in courting Xi Macron, post-Beijing visit, urged all countries to eschew following either US or China!

Apple Takes a Bite Out of India

Rishi Iyengar

During an earnings call in early February where Apple announced it had more than 2 billion active devices worldwide, CEO Tim Cook dropped a few hints about where he thinks the next billion will come from. “I’m very bullish on India,” he said.

Pakistan-Aligned Hackers Disrupt Indian Education Sector

Alessandro Mascellino 

The threat actor known as APT36 or Transparent Tribe has been observed targeting the education sector in India with malicious Office documents distributing Crimson RAT.

The group has been active since at least 2013, but according to a new advisory by SentinelOne, it is now shifting from attacking Indian military and government personnel targets to also disrupting educational institutions.

“Crimson RAT is a consistent staple in the group’s malware arsenal the adversary uses in its campaigns,” wrote senior threat researcher at SentinelLabs Aleksandar Milenkoski.

According to the technical write-up, the names and content of the lure documents, as well as the associated domains and the use of Crimson RAT, suggest that the recent activities observed by SentinelOne are part of a previously reported campaign by Transparent Tribe.

“The documents that Transparent Tribe distributes have education-themed content and names,” reads the advisory. “Based on known behavior of this group, we suspect that the documents have been distributed to targets as attachments to phishing emails.”

SentinelOne explained the team has observed several Crimson RAT .NET implementations with timestamps between July and September 2022.

“Crimson RAT variants implement different obfuscation techniques of varying intensities, for example, simple function name malformation and dynamic string resolution,” Milenkoski wrote.

Crimson RAT can exfiltrate system information, capture screenshots, start and stop processes, and enumerate files and drives.

A new Asian order is here largely thanks to Shinzo Abe


WASHINGTON – By building up the notion of the Indo-Pacific as a critical region, Shinzo Abe, the former 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 that explored the commonalities between Islam and Hinduism as neighboring religious and civilizational 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 recognize 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 toward 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.”

For Abe and his successors, fostering cooperation across the Eurasian and African rimlands through extensive networks of defense and trade ties was the key to realizing the vision of a broader Asia. In placing the Indo-Pacific at the heart of this vision, they drew on the insights of the 19th-century American admiral, Alfred Mahan, and the British naval historian, Julian Corbett.

Getting the Thermonuclear Bomb

Bharat Karnad

[Explosion of the Russian “too big to use” 60 megaton — “Czar Bomba” over the test site at Semipalatinsk on 30th October 1961]

A bit of serious reading is required by Indian decisonmakers and lay public alike on the issue of the missing thermonuclear security of the country in a milieu in which, even in government and the military, “opinions”, not informed views and perspectives, generally prevail. Hence, I am reprodcing below an article that the Indian army’s thinktank — Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi, requested me to write for the winter 2022 edition of its professional publication — CLAWS Journal. It is featured in pages numbered 25-43 of the recently released Journal issue.

Abstract: India has been an economic and military punching bag for China. This is India’s fault because it has done less than nothing to counter the pummeling except occasionally reacting (as on the Galwan) and then only defensively. It is time India, a nuclear laggard, adopted the strategy conventionally weak nuclear weapons states (Pakistan against India, North Korea against the US) have successfully wielded against stronger adversaries by threatening nuclear first use, and by substantiating such threat by laying down short fuse, forward nuclear tripwires. For an India that has historically quailed before China, making this new more assertive stance credible will require significant measures — resumption of thermonuclear testing, emplacing a differentiated two-tiered doctrine that replaces the impractical “massive retaliation” strategy with flexible and proportional response notions pivoting on nuclear first use but only versus China while retaining the “retaliation only” concept for everyone else, and alighting on a tiered posture supported by the buildup of ‘soft’ strategic infrastructure (a separate strategic budget, specialist nuclear officer cadres in the three services, and a mechanism for oversight of nuclear weapons designing activity). It is a doable strategy the Indian government should not shy away from.

German Foreign Minister Visits Beijing Amid European China Debate

Tim Hildebrandt

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is currently visiting China as part of a longer trip to East Asia, to be followed by trips to South Korea and Japan, where she will attend a meeting of G-7 foreign ministers. The official communication from the German Foreign Office already indicates the strained situation in which Baerbock’s inaugural visit to China is embedded, describing China as a “partner, competitor, and systemic rival.”

The visit to China is likely to be followed particularly carefully, both in Asia and the West. While the German government coalition, consisting of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Liberal Party (FDP), and the Green Party, of which Baerbock is a member, has recently come under strain, what really tightens the current situation are the statements made by French President Emmanuel Macron after his recent trip to China.

On his return flight earlier this week, Macron stated in an interview that Europe must reduce its dependence on the United States to avoid being drawn into a confrontation between the U.S. and China over Taiwan. Macron stressed that Europe must achieve strategic autonomy and become a third superpower. While this statement is in line with a long-standing French position that Europe should seek spheres of influence outside Europe, become a great power, and pursue geopolitical interests, the statement has caused considerable unrest.

In particular, the reference to Taiwan has raised eyebrows in the United States. Macron was heavily scrutinized in the press for his statements, which came amid intensive Chinese military drills in the Taiwan Strait. U.S. politicians from the opposition Republican Party accused the French president of betraying Taiwan. Considerable criticism has also come from Central and Eastern European countries, who point out that U.S. support is now needed more than ever in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Considering that much of Eastern Europe itself was a victim of Russian imperialism until less than 35 years ago, a focus on protection by the U.S. through NATO in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine seems only logical.

How Serious Were China’s Latest Military Drills Near Taiwan?

Brian Hioe

Taiwanese troops track China’s aircraft carrier, the Shandong, as it transits the Bashi Channel to the southeast of Taiwan, Apr. 5, 2023.Credit: Ministry of National Defense, ROC (Taiwan)

Following the meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy in California on April 5, the People’s Liberation Army announced three days of exercises that took place from April 8 to April 10, termed “United Sword.”

McCarthy had originally indicated an interest in visiting Taiwan, along the lines of his predecessor Nancy Pelosi, who had visited Taiwan in August of last year. China responded to Pelosi’s trip with a series of unprecedented military drills that took place closer to Taiwan than during the Third Taiwan Straits Crisis.

But according to a scoop from the Financial Times, McCarthy was later persuaded to instead meet with Tsai in California after the Taiwanese government shared intelligence with McCarthy about what it expected China’s reaction to be. McCarthy has not ruled out visiting Taiwan in the future, however.

Clearly, the shift in location for the Tsai-McCarthy meeting was not enough to prevent China from reacting with military drills. Nevertheless, China might have reacted with military drills even if Tsai had not met the U.S. House speaker.

Tsai’s meeting with McCarthy took place during a stopover by Tsai on her way to visit Guatemala and Belize, Taiwan’s remaining allies in Central America. Taiwanese presidents frame visits to the United States as “stopovers” or transit stops rather than official diplomatic visits as a way to avoid provoking China. Tsai did not meet with any Biden administration officials during her visit.

United Front Work and Beyond: How the Chinese Communist Party Penetrates the United States and Western Societies

Martin Purbrick

Growing concerns exist in the US and other Western countries that there are systematic efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to undermine their societies. This concern has arisen from the developing observation and analysis of more offensive-based CCP activities outside of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

These offensive activities have become far more apparent during the tenure of CCP Secretary Xi Jinping (from 2012), and seem to be part of efforts to move from a defensive to an offensive posture in a variety of areas. This can be characterized as a “Strategy of Sowing Discord,” a Chinese proverb that refers to efforts to make internal disputes amongst the enemy so deep that they become distracted from the conflict. By taking offensive influencing measures against US and other Western societies, the CCP aims to distract foreign attention from repression within China’s borders and also to pressure the increasingly broad diaspora of dissidents from the Mainland, Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, as well as Taiwanese separatists. In addition, this offensive posture is part of efforts to promote a more positive perspective of the PRC around the world, which may resonate with potential partner countries in the “Global South,” used here to refer generally to low or middle income states across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The FBI and Britain’s MI5 have made clear statements regarding the threat to their societies from malevolent PRC government agencies. Their concerns relate to actions against Chinese dissidents outside the PRC, influencing the Chinese diaspora to support the CCP, the coerced return of fugitives to the PRC, the covert theft of trade secrets, the acquisition of intellectual property by the purchase of specialized companies, the exploitation of academic research for military uses, the use of cyber-attacks, and interference in US and Western political systems through “United Front” work and other methods.

What Exactly Does Washington Want From Its Trade War With Beijing?


Five years ago, then president Donald Trump launched a tariff-fueled trade war with China designed to reduce the bilateral trade deficit. His successor, President Joe Biden, then added a decoupling focus by restricting high-tech exports and curtailing professional and financial links. Both wanted to reduce imports of manufactured goods and bring home more jobs.

Huang is a senior fellow in the Carnegie Asia Program, where his research focuses on China’s economy and its regional and global impact.

How should one judge the effectiveness of their policies? Back then, and even more so today, the logic of Trump’s fixation on trade deficits made little sense. But security concerns have now become the rationale for reducing America’s trade relations with China and undercutting China’s growth potential. Against these yardsticks, the results are mixed but on balance unconvincing, given the costs in the form of inflationary pressures, repressed export growth, and a projected decline in global output. But U.S. politicians from both parties strongly support these restrictive measures because the costs are not obvious to their constituents, while the benefits from appearing to be tough on China resonate well with voters.

The recent U.S. Census Bureau data indicate that the politically sensitive U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China was larger in 2022 than when Trump became president, while America’s overall trade deficit hit an all-time high of $1.18 trillion. This reinforces the views of nearly all the economists surveyed at the launching of Trump’s trade war: that the tariffs would not reduce U.S. trade deficits and the costs would be paid largely by Americans.

Genevieve Slosberg is a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow in the Carnegie Asia Program.

What’s Really Going on Between Russia and China

Alexander Gabuev

“There are changes happening, the likes of which we haven’t seen for 100 years,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping said to Russian President Vladimir Putin last month at the end of a state visit to Russia. “Let’s drive those changes together.” To this, the Russian leader responded, “I agree.”

This seemingly improvised yet carefully choreographed scene captured the outcome of Xi’s trip to Russia and the trajectory on which he and Putin have set Sino-Russian relations. Xi’s visit last month was first and foremost a demonstration of public support for the embattled Russian leader. But the truly significant developments took place during closed-door, in-person discussions, at which Xi and Putin made a number of important decisions about the future of Chinese-Russian defense cooperation and likely came to terms on arms deals that they may or may not make public.

The war in Ukraine and ensuing Western sanctions on Russia are reducing the Kremlin’s options and pushing Russia’s economic and technological dependence on China to unprecedented levels. These changes give China a growing amount of leverage over Russia. At the same time, China’s fraying relationship with the United States makes Moscow an indispensable junior partner to Beijing in pushing back against the United States and its allies. China has no other friend that brings as much to the table. And as Xi prepares China for a period of prolonged confrontation with the most powerful country on the planet, he needs all the help he can get.


Senior figures in the Chinese Communist Party have openly discussed the need for a closer partnership with Russia because of what they perceive as an increasingly hostile U.S. policy aimed at containing China’s rise. Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told Chinese state media after the trip that the partnership with Russia is very important at a time when some forces are advocating “hegemonism, unilateralism, and protectionism” and are driven by a “Cold War mentality”—all CCP code words for U.S. policy toward China. Putting this reason front and center is revealing, and it explains why Xi decided to go to see Putin in person, despite the unfavorable optics of visiting just after the International Criminal Court had issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader. The message of Xi’s trip was clear: China sees many benefits in its relationship with Russia, it will continue to maintain those ties at the highest level, and it will not be deterred by Western critics.

China Rises As The Ideal Civilizational State


Zhang Weiwei is the director of the Institute of China Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. From 1983 to 1988, he was an interpreter for the Chinese leadership, including Deng Xiaoping. The author of the best-selling book “The China Wave: The Rise of a Civilizational State,” he was invited in 2021 by the Chinese Communist Party Politburo to conduct a “collective study session” on his ideas.

The economic and technological convergence of globalization did not lead to a singular cosmopolitan order, but to a great divergence, in which prospering emergent nations, most notably China, once again attained the wherewithal to chart a path forward based on their own civilizational foundations. Economic and technological strength engenders, not extinguishes, cultural and political self-assertion.

This development has led Bruno Maçães to argue we are seeing the return of “civilization states,” such as Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Xi Jinping’s China, that are pushing back against the universalist claims of a liberal world order.

In this series, we asked several thinkers, including Shashi Tharoor, to assess Maçães’s argument.

— Nathan Gardels, Noema editor-in-chief

SHANGHAI — The rise of China is not that of an ordinary country, I have long believed, but a country sui generis — a civilizational state, an amalgam of the world’s oldest continuous civilization and a huge modern state. Its rise is a new model of development and a new political discourse that questions many of the Western assumptions about democracy, good governance and human rights.

Lebanon Edges Toward Civil War

Hilal Khashan

Many Lebanese, especially Maronite Christians, have grown increasingly wary about Syrian refugees’ presence in Lebanon. Since 2011, when Syrians began fleeing their country to escape the escalating violence, the government in Damascus has either destroyed the homes of many refugees or given them away to Assad loyalists. Many in Lebanon now fear that the refugees will not return to Syria and could create an imbalance in the country’s precarious demographics. This is especially a concern for Lebanon’s Christian community, which is increasingly fed up with not just the Syrian refugee issue but also Hezbollah’s dominance of their country. The Christian Free Patriotic Movement has called for greater decentralization, demanding that Christian-majority areas be allowed to administer themselves autonomously.

Amid these conditions, tensions between Lebanon’s various demographic groups have been rising. A prominent Syrian dissident called on Syrian refugees in Lebanon to take up arms to block any attempts at forced eviction. One Lebanese political analyst responded by saying that Lebanese will purify their country of the refugees when the time is right. The prospects for violence between Lebanese Christians and Syrian refugees are growing, as many Christians believe that they can’t achieve autonomy without a military confrontation, which could convince the West to support their demands.

Syrians in Lebanon

Even before the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, Syrians were present in many parts of Lebanon, including Christian areas. Many Syrians arrived in the country after Lebanon’s civil war ended in 1989, in search of jobs. Lebanese benefited greatly from Syrian laborers because most Lebanese were reluctant to do manual work, which Syrians were generally better at anyway.

Lebanon’s refugee policy has shifted over time. The country did not ratify the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention, even though it ardently supported a 1946 U.N. General Assembly resolution to protect refugees and displaced persons. The government reversed its refugee policy after the influx of predominantly Muslim Palestinians in 1948, choosing to safeguard Lebanon’s precarious sectarian balance instead. Lebanon received more than 100,000 Palestinian refugees, and what the government expected to be a temporary arrangement turned into a permanent situation.

Will we ever be able to predict earthquakes?

Richard Gray

The unfolding tragedy amid the crumpled buildings of south-east Turkey and northern Syria highlights how unexpectedly earthquakes can strike. Scientists are searching for ways to spot the early warning signs of these most unpredictable of natural disasters.

They hit suddenly and without warning. The two devastating earthquakes that struck south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria have claimed thousands of lives and left many more injured or without shelter. Occurring in the early hours of 6 February, most of the victims would have been inside sleeping when the first 7.8 magnitude earthquake brought their homes crashing down on top of them.

The first indication semiologists had that a major disaster was unfolding were the abrupt flashes of activity on their sensitive instruments spread throughout the world as the seismic waves produced by the first earthquake reverberated around the globe. A few hours later this was followed by a second large earthquake of 7.5 magnitude.

The relative shallowness of both quakes meant the intensity of the shaking was particularly severe. And as the area continues to shudder with aftershocks, experts at the United States Geological Survey have warned that those who survived, and the rescue workers now flocking to the region to help, face significant risks from landslides and ground liquefication as a result of the shaking.

But as the world races to provide aid to the shattered communities on either side of the border between Turkey and Syria, some are wondering why we didn't see this coming.

The East Anatolian fault system where the earthquakes occurred is part of a tectonic "triple junction" where three tectonic plates – the Anatolia, Arabia and Africa plates – grind against each other. Since 1970, only three earthquakes of magnitude 6 or larger have hit the region, and many geologists believed the region was "overdue" for a large earthquake.

Out of Stock? Assessing the Impact of Sanctions on Russia’s Defense Industry

Max Bergmann , Maria Snegovaya , Tina Dolbaia , Nick Fenton , and Samuel Bendett 

This report examines the overall impact of Western sanctions and allied export regulations on Russia’s defense sector to date, as well as the Kremlin’s ability to overcome them. It analyzes Russia’s supply and production of the core weapons and systems that make up its war machine, including tanks, missiles, uncrewed aerial vehicles, aircraft, and electronic warfare systems. It also looks at the key foreign components, restricted by the allied export control measures, needed to produce high-end Russian defense technology, such as optical systems, bearings, machine tools, engines, and microchips. The report then examines the Kremlin’s efforts to mitigate the ramifications of the international sanctions regime through methods such as import substitution and sanctions-evasion techniques.

The report finds that sanctions create shortages of higher-end foreign components and force Moscow to substitute them with lower-quality alternatives. For now, Moscow’s efforts at state-backed import substitution remain largely unsuccessful. This ultimately impacts Russia’s ability to manufacture, sustain, and deliver advanced weapons and technology to the battlefield in Ukraine. Therefore, while the quality of the military equipment used by the Ukrainian army continues to improve thanks to the Western aid, the quality of Russia’s weapons continues to degrade. At the same time, the Kremlin still possesses a significant degree of adaptability to Western sanctions, taking advantage of its prewar stockpiles of older equipment, as well as countries willing to supply Moscow with restricted dual-use items and technology via a web of illicit supply chains. Considering Russia's existing capabilities and limitations, it will likely opt for a slower-paced attritional campaign in Ukraine, putting pressure on Kyiv and its Western partners, but thereby further stressing its military and industrial base already stretched thin by sanctions and the last 12 months of the invasion.

This publication was funded by the Russia Strategic Initiative, U.S. European Command. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Defense or the United States Government.

Macron And Multipolarity: Why The French President Might Have A Point

Peter Harris

Multipolarity is a popular idea. Instead of chastising Macron for impolitic and disloyal remarks, critics in the United States and Europe would do better to understand what might be driving the French President to reject their own Manichean view of world politics. They might learn something interesting in the process.

Whose side is Emmanuel Macron on? For a long time, it appeared as though France was tightly aligned with the United States when it came to balancing against a rising China in the Indo-Pacific. Now, however, Macron has prompted commentators and critics to ask whether Paris can be counted upon to stand shoulder to shoulder with Washington, Taipei, and others in the face of Chinese assertiveness. Is Macron going soft on China?

The catalyst for this recent round of amateur Macronology was an interview given by the French President to Politico. On a plane back from China – a visit that included a lengthy one-on-one meeting with Xi Jinping – Macron rejected the idea that France ought to follow America’s lead in world politics, especially when it comes to handling China and the issue of Taiwanese security. Instead, he suggested, the international community would be better served by a France that could say “non” to its friends and competitors alike.

It is hardly unusual, however, for a French President to make the case for European strategic autonomy. This is a longstanding feature of French foreign policy. Macron himself is on record as supporting the creation of a “true European Army” and cautioning against relying on the United States to ensure transatlantic security. It has never been a secret that Macron would prefer Europe to provide for its own defense and develop capabilities to project military power beyond its borders.

Nor should anyone be surprised that Macron railed against the idea of Europe becoming a “vassal” of the United States. Macron was only repeating what generations of French (and other European) leaders have said before him: that Europe should be treated as a top-tier world power in its own right. This is a fairly tame ambition, and certainly not evidence that France is drifting closer to Beijing.

#Reviewing Inheriting the Bomb

Shawn Conroy

Mariana Budjeryn’s Inheriting the Bomb: The Collapse of the USSR and the Nuclear Disarmament of Ukraine looks at the diplomatic process that led to the removal of nuclear weapons on the territories of newly independent Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, with a focus on the latter. She argues Ukraine’s efforts to alter the terms and conditions of denuclearization failed because the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was “too comprehensive a regime” for a nascent state to challenge amid substantial diplomatic pressure.[1] Inheriting the Bomb contributes to a resurgence of interest in Ukraine’s denuclearization in the wake of Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014. This discussion has spurred speculation on an alternative history where Ukraine never denuclearized. With her book, Budjeryn provides an “evidence-based account of Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament to the debates that are often more mired in myth than grounded in fact.”[2]

Budjeryn highlights the complexity (a myriad of factors) rather than contingency (one factor) that affected Ukraine’s denuclearization. The normative framework of international arms treaties, as well as contemporary domestic and international developments, restricted the number of options available to Ukraine. Ukraine had hoped that, in asserting its ownership over the nuclear warheads on its territory as a successor state to the Soviet Union, it could have secured international recognition, economic aid, and security guarantees prior to denuclearization. However, the Non-Proliferation Treaty had no category for a temporary nuclear state. The treaty only stipulated the existence of nuclear-weapon states (NWSs) and non-nuclear weapon states (NNWSs). Because the United States and Russia shared the view that Russia should inherit the Soviet Union’s spot as a nuclear-weapon state, they managed to combine their political, diplomatic, and economic influence to pressure Ukraine to abide by the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Russia jams US GPS-guided weapons given to Ukraine, leaked info shows


Russian forces can jam some of the GPS-guided weapons that the United States has given Ukraine, including Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, according to Business Insider, which cited leaked documents.

The report leaked online found that four of nine extended-range JDAMs used by Ukrainian forces had missed hitting Russian targets, possibly due to jamming, and it recommended that the Russian jammers be taken out, Insider reported on Tuesday.

The information about Russia’s ability to jam JDAMS and other precision-guided weapons was included in a massive data leak the Justice Department is investigating. The Pentagon has also launched an effort spanning several Defense Department organizations to look at the national security consequences of classified documents being leaked online.

It is unclear how many JDAMs the Ukrainians have. The Defense Department’s latest fact sheet on U.S. military assistance to Ukraine does not say exactly how many “precision aerial munitions” and “precision-guided rockets” Ukraine has received.

Intelligence leaks are an opportunity as well as a threat, says Thomas Rid

Over the past dozen or so years, America’s government and its intelligence apparatus has suffered five mega-leaks: the release of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks in 2010; the disclosures by Edward Snowden in 2013; the publication of National Security Agency (nsa) and cia hacking tools in 2016 and 2017; and, now, the appearance of large amounts of intelligence reports on Discord, a messaging platform.

On April 13th Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was arrested on suspicion of leaking highly sensitive documents. Whoever made the leak uploaded “hundreds and hundreds” of documents, says Aric Toler of Bellingcat, an investigative group, who interviewed several members of the Discord channel to which the files were uploaded. Most media organisations reporting on the leaks have access to approximately 50 of these documents. About 20 pages of those are so-called “serial reports,” concise one-paragraph missives on world events, prepared by multiple intelligence agencies. The rest are maps and tactical updates relating to the war in Ukraine, some with dazzling levels of detail.

For Japan, ‘Ukraine is the Future of Asia’

C. Raja Mohan

As much of the world was focused on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s high-profile visit to Moscow last month, it was lost to many observers that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was in Kyiv at the same time on an equally consequential visit. Making an unannounced trip to see Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Kishida offered Japan’s solid support.

All Unquiet on NATO’s Eastern Flank

Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch

NATO is steadily bulking up its military footprint along its eastern flank in a show of force to Russia, but behind the scenes Eastern European allies fear that most of their Western European counterparts are still too slow to respond to the threat from Russia.

The West Needs a New Strategy in Ukraine

Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan

After just over a year, the war in Ukraine has turned out far better for Ukraine than most predicted. Russia’s effort to subjugate its neighbor has failed. Ukraine remains an independent, sovereign, functioning democracy, holding on to roughly 85 percent of the territory it controlled before Russia’s 2014 invasion. At the same time, it is difficult to feel sanguine about where the war is headed. The human and economic costs, already enormous, are poised to climb as both Moscow and Kyiv ready their next moves on the battlefield. The Russian military’s numerical superiority likely gives it the ability to counter Ukraine’s greater operational skill and morale, as well as its access to Western support. Accordingly, the most likely outcome of the conflict is not a complete Ukrainian victory but a bloody stalemate.

Against this backdrop, calls for a diplomatic end to the conflict are understandably growing. But with Moscow and Kyiv both vowing to keep up the fight, conditions are not yet ripe for a negotiated settlement. Russia seems determined to occupy a larger chunk of the Donbas. Ukraine appears to be preparing an assault to break the land bridge between the Donbas and Crimea, clearing the way, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky often asserts, for Ukraine to fully expel Russian forces and restore its territorial integrity.

The West needs an approach that recognizes these realities without sacrificing its principles. The best path forward is a sequenced two-pronged strategy aimed at first bolstering Ukraine’s military capability and then, when the fighting season winds down late this year, ushering Moscow and Kyiv from the battlefield to the negotiating table. The West should start by immediately expediting the flow of weapons to Ukraine and increasing their quantity and quality. The goal should be to bolster Ukraine’s defenses while making its coming offensive as successful as possible, imposing heavy losses on Russia, foreclosing Moscow’s military options, and increasing its willingness to contemplate a diplomatic settlement. By the time Ukraine’s anticipated offensive is over, Kyiv may also warm up to the idea of a negotiated settlement, having given its best shot on the battlefield and facing growing constraints on both its own manpower and help from abroad.

Russian War Report: Belarus accuses Ukraine of plotting terrorist attack

As Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) is keeping a close eye on Russia’s movements across the military, cyber, and information domains. With more than seven years of experience monitoring the situation in Ukraine—as well as Russia’s use of propaganda and disinformation to undermine the United States, NATO, and the European Union—the DFRLab’s global team presents the latest installment of the Russian War Report.

Belarus accuses Ukraine of plotting terrorist attack against Russian consulate

On April 4, Belarusian state-controlled TV channel ONT aired a documentary titled “Loud failures of the Ukrainian special services in Belarus. Gaspar did not get in touch.” Reports from Belarus’ State Security Committee (KGB) informed much of the program, which asserted that, under the leadership of Ukrainian special services, a network of Russian and Belarusian citizens planned several terrorist attacks in the Belarusian city of Grodno. The alleged perpetrators reportedly planned to target several facilities, including the Consulate General of Russia, a military enlistment office opposite Zhiliber Park, a military unit in southern Grodno, and two oil depots.

The KGB claimed that Vyacheslav Rozum, an alleged employee of the Main Directorate of Intelligence in the Ukrainian defense ministry, planned the attacks. Ukrainian authorities had not commented on the accusations at the time of writing. According to the documentary, Rozum asked Russian citizen Daniil Krinari, known as Kovalevsky, to form a network of people to carry out terrorist acts. Krinari was reportedly arrested in Grodno in December 2022 and extradited to Russia at the request of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). He was charged in Russia for cooperating with Ukraine and acting in the interests of Ukraine. The Belarusian KGB asserted that, before his extradition, Krinari managed to recruit at least two people, Russian citizen Alexei Kulikov and Belarusian citizen Vadim Patsenko. Kulikov had allegedly fled Russia in 2022 to avoid conscription and moved to Belarus.

The ONT documentary includes interviews with Kulikov and Patsenko, who argue that Rozum asked them to take photos and videos of the target facilities in Grodno. Moreover, Patsenko argued that Vyacheslav tasked him with blowing up an oil depot with a drone. The program claims Ukrainian special services promised Kulikov and Patsenko $10,000 each. While Patsenko and Kulikov allege that Ukrainian security services were involved in the operation, the ONT program does not include concrete evidence to prove this claim.

NATO should offer Ukraine a membership plan now

Franklin D. Kramer

While the coalition of allies and partners supporting Ukraine has been highly effective in providing operational support, it has not had the same degree of effectiveness in undermining Russia’s strategic goal of ending Ukraine’s independence. Ultimately, ensuring that Ukraine maintains its sovereignty over the long term will require Ukraine’s membership in NATO, as that would provide the country with the same critical security support that the Alliance currently provides for its members.

Though it is improbable that Ukraine would be admitted into NATO during the ongoing war with Russia, the Alliance should provide Ukraine with a membership action plan that makes clear that over the long term, Ukraine’s sovereignty is of critical consequence to NATO, its members, and democracy in Europe. Recently, media reports have indicated that the United States (and some other allies) currently do not support such an approach; but, considering today’s geopolitics and NATO’s values, offering a membership action plan is the most effective and appropriate response to the challenge Russia presents.

The concept of a NATO membership action plan was set forth at the 1999 Washington Summit—following the accessions of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland—in order to both make clear that there would be further accessions and guide the implementation of those accessions. NATO offers these plans—which include advice, assistance, and support to potential members—in order to help the countries reform to meet NATO’s criteria. The key elements of a membership action plan have historically focused on the candidate country’s military capabilities, economic circumstances, democratic status, and border stability.

Ukraine fulfills or is well along in each of these criteria except, of course, the last one. Most obviously, Ukraine has demonstrated outstanding military capabilities and, as a member of NATO, would be a strong security provider. Economically, Ukraine is generally aligned with the economies of NATO members and will become even more so as it works its way forward on such matters as limiting the influence of oligarchs, which is one of the requirements for accession to the European Union (for which Ukraine is a candidate country). Democratically, Ukraine is a free country, and while Kyiv must address remaining issues, including corruption and the selection of judges, it has been undertaking actions even while the war with Russia is ongoing.

Ukraine Wants A Robot Army

Will Knight

Greetings! It’s easy to assume that the most exciting and important new technologies spring from Silicon Valley. But the San Francisco Bay Area doesn’t have a monopoly on innovative thinking, and in other parts of the world the need for new technology can be more urgent—even a matter of life and death.

The country’s digital minister Mykhailo Fedorov says software has been crucial to the war effort and that smarter drones will boost Ukraine's defenses.

The war in Ukraine, now into its 14th grueling month, has displaced millions, sparked global food shortages, and threatened to spiral into wider conflict. It has also highlighted how new technologies—especially ones drawn from the commercial sector—are upending conventional military doctrine.

Ukraine has resisted and repelled Russia’s much larger military force, thanks in large part to a willingness, borne of necessity, to adopt and experiment with novel technologies, not all of them originally designed for military use.

I recently spoke with Ukraine’s 32-year-old minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, about the country’s interest in tapping new technology to boost the war effort. Fedorov spoke over Zoom, via an interpreter, from an undisclosed location in Ukraine, about plans to produce more sophisticated drones and other autonomous systems, and to incubate military startups.

“Technology has affected and improved our situation, and right now we are trying to improve our military technology,” Fedorov says. He cites Ukraine’s Army of Drones initiative, which encourages foreign individuals and companies to donate commercial drone hardware, as a success that Ukraine hopes to build on.

Pentagon seeks $75M for new program to accelerate quantum tech transition


The Office of the Secretary of Defense is requesting $75 million in fiscal 2024 to initiate a brand new pursuit intended to both accelerate the commercialization and operationalization of quantum devices for Pentagon purposes, and mature the U.S. supply chain underpinning the making of emerging quantum technologies.

Tucked into the Defense Department’s latest batch of budget justification documents, this new-start project is referred to as Quantum Transition Acceleration.

“The [DOD’s] research and development of quantum technologies is critical to maintaining the nation’s technological superiority,” officials wrote in the Defense-wide justification book for fiscal 2024 budget estimates.

Broadly, quantum information science (QIS) encompasses the investigation and application of complex phenomena happening at atomic and subatomic levels to process and transmit information.

Experts largely predict that this field will enable disruptive, transformational science, engineering and communication applications in the not-so-distant future.

“Quantum technology is approaching a tipping point that will determine how quickly it can make an impact. If the [U.S.] can stay on pace, many important outcomes for the [DOD] can be realized including robust position, navigation and timing for DOD freedom of operations with precision strike even with contests in spectrum, space, or cyber operations,” Pentagon officials wrote in the budget justification documents.

Leading the Cyber Battle

Martin Crilly

In comparing the career pathways of civilian and military cyber leaders what can we learn from both perspectives?

BLUF: As the information and communication technologies (ICT) used today by militaries are largely civilian, the cyber-security defence of these environments should be led by experienced civilian experts. However, the weaponisation of these same technologies that provide an offensive capability for Defence should be led by experienced military experts responsible for leading the cyber battle. Traditional leadership and management skills alone, without technical proficiency, will not inspire cyber professionals. The demarcation of complementary skills, techniques, and balance between the military and civilian realms need to be decided and agreed.


Leading cyber

The commoditisation of technology, the growth of the cloud and the widespread use of networks has resulted in modern military ICT environments being virtually identical to those of civilian organisations. Both environments have for some time been deploying the same advanced ICT infrastructures, using similar ICT processes. They have also been developing/inspiring the next generation of cybersecurity professionals using the same talent development philosophies.

The Hacking of ChatGPT Is Just Getting Started


IT TOOK ALEX Polyakov just a couple of hours to break GPT-4. When OpenAI released the latest version of its text-generating chatbot in March, Polyakov sat down in front of his keyboard and started entering prompts designed to bypass OpenAI’s safety systems. Soon, the CEO of security firm Adversa AI had GPT-4 spouting homophobic statements, creating phishing emails, and supporting violence.

Polyakov is one of a small number of security researchers, technologists, and computer scientists developing jailbreaks and prompt injection attacks against ChatGPT and other generative AI systems. The process of jailbreaking aims to design prompts that make the chatbots bypass rules around producing hateful content or writing about illegal acts, while closely-related prompt injection attacks can quietly insert malicious data or instructions into AI models.

Both approaches try to get a system to do something it isn’t designed to do. The attacks are essentially a form of hacking—albeit unconventionally—using carefully crafted and refined sentences, rather than code, to exploit system weaknesses. While the attack types are largely being used to get around content filters, security researchers warn that the rush to roll out generative AI systems opens up the possibility of data being stolen and cybercriminals causing havoc across the web.

Underscoring how widespread the issues are, Polyakov has now created a “universal” jailbreak, which works against multiple large language models (LLMs)—including GPT-4, Microsoft’s Bing chat system, Google’s Bard, and Anthropic’s Claude. The jailbreak, which is being first reported by WIRED, can trick the systems into generating detailed instructions on creating meth and how to hotwire a car.

The jailbreak works by asking the LLMs to play a game, which involves two characters (Tom and Jerry) having a conversation. Examples shared by Polyakov show the Tom character being instructed to talk about “hotwiring” or “production,” while Jerry is given the subject of a “car” or “meth.” Each character is told to add one word to the conversation, resulting in a script that tells people to find the ignition wires or the specific ingredients needed for methamphetamine production. “Once enterprises will implement AI models at scale, such ‘toy’ jailbreak examples will be used to perform actual criminal activities and cyberattacks, which will be extremely hard to detect and prevent,” Polyakov and Adversa AI write in a blog post detailing the research.

War is not a game, but we should play it like one

Frank Zagare
In one sense, war most certainly is not a game. People’s lives are at stake. But a branch of mathematical thinking named ‘game theory’ can help us understand relationships between warring states, and how to best navigate them, by treating their interactions as ‘games’. This could help us avoid ever recreating the near human suicide of Mutually Assured Destruction, and could help us find a way out of the Russia-Ukraine war and the tensions between China and the USA, writes Frank Zagare.

Game theory is the science of interactive decision-making. So, it should not be a surprise that it has influenced military planners and strategic thinkers in both academic and governmental circles across the globe. To understand why, first a little background.

A game is any interactive situation in which the outcome depends on the choice of at least two individuals or two decision-making units. Games, therefore, can run the gamut from lighthearted diversions such as a board game to very serious interactions up to and including war. The current relationship between the United States and China, for example, can be thought of as a game. But so can less contentious relationships such as those that exist among some members of the European community.

The participants in a game are called “players.” The players are assumed to be “rational.” This assumption is widely misunderstood. In game theory a rational player is simply a purposeful player. Players in a game can have just about any goal including those that a game theorist might consider fanciful, misguided, or immoral. The assumption that state actors and their leaders have goals is a common, yet usually unstated, assumption among defense intellectuals.

Army short-range air defense laser prototypes take down drones at Yuma

Jen Judson

WASHINGTON — Downed drones littered the battlefield at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona during a live-fire test of the Stryker-based Short-Range Air Defense system prototypes with 50-kilowatt lasers, according to the director of Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office.

“When they got out on the range, they were knocking targets out of the sky, Group 1, Group 2, Group 3 [unmanned aircraft systems],” Lt. Gen. Robert Rasch said told Defense News in an interview. “Very, very effective.”

While the lasers made short work of drones, some challenges remain in taking out rockets, artillery and mortars, he said.

The Army is now receiving its first platoon-set of the systems, taking the first two of the Directed Energy Maneuver-SHORAD prototypes to Yuma earlier this year for training with soldiers. The third prototype is about to go into acceptance testing, according to Rasch, and the fourth will be delivered within the next couple of months.

Delivering the first platoon-set — four DE M-SHORAD prototypes — will complete RCCTO’s mission, but the office won’t stop there.

Developmental testing with soldiers will continue over the next quarter and in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023, the Army will begin developing tactics, techniques and procedures for the systems, Rasch said.

“There’s a lot, when you look at fielding a capability, you don’t just field a technology, you have to figure out how to integrate that technology into a warfighting capability,” Rasch said.