22 April 2023

India Is Passing China in Population. Can Its Economy Ever Do the Same?

Mujib Mashal and Alex Travelli

India has a young, vast work force that is expanding as China’s ages and shrinks. But the country’s immense size also lays bare its enormous challenges.

India’s leaders rarely miss a chance to cheer the nation’s many distinctions, from its status as the world’s largest democracy to its new rank as the world’s fifth-largest economy, after recently surpassing Britain, its former colonial overlord. Even its turn this year as host of the Group of 20 summit is being celebrated as announcing India’s arrival on the global stage.

Now, another milestone is approaching, though with no fanfare from Indian officials. The country will soon pass China in population, knocking it from its perch for the first time in at least three centuries, data released by the United Nations on Wednesday shows.

With size — a population that now exceeds 1.4 billion people — comes geopolitical, economic and cultural power that India has long sought. And with growth comes the prospect of a “demographic dividend.” India has a work force that is young and expanding even as those in most industrialized countries, including China, are aging and in some cases shrinking.

But India’s immense size and lasting growth also lay bare its enormous challenges, renewing in this latest spotlight moment a perennial, if still uncomfortable, question: When will it ever fulfill its vast promise and become a power on the order of China or the United States?

“The young people have a great potential to contribute to the economy,” said Poonam Muttreja, the executive director of the Population Foundation of India. “But for them to do that requires the country to make investments in not just education but health, nutrition and skilling for employability.”

Failings that Led to the Collapse of Afghanistan Now Fund the Taliban and Prevent Allies from Entering the United States

Anthony H. Cordesman

The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has just issued two devastating reports to Congress on American Failures in Afghanistan. Both should be required reading for everyone in the U.S. national security community.

The first is has a remarkably bland title for its contents: Testimony of John F. Sopko Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. It was presented as part of Sopko’s testimony to the Committee on Oversight and Accountability of the U.S. House of Representatives on April 19, 2023. The testimony is available here.

The sheer blandness of the title hides the fact that it is probably the best and frankest description to date of the problems that led to the collapse of the Afghan government and forces – and a sweeping Taliban victory. Unlike far too many other reports, it does not focus on the final days of the Afghan government or the problems in evacuating Americans and Afghans out of the airport in Kabul.

This testimony for the record is actually a detailed report that builds on more than a decade of SIGAR’s warnings to Congress about the major problems in the U.S. military and civil aid efforts. It traces the key causes of the collapse that were triggered by the decision of the United States to leave Afghanistan under the Trump and Biden Administrations, and by the fact the United States engaged in unilateral peace negotiations with the Taliban—and an agreement to leave the country—because it could not deal effectively with the Ghani government.

It shows, however, that the United States had little other choice in dealing with Ghani, and that the collapse of the Afghan government and forces were the result of policies that began long before both the Trump and Biden Administrations, which led to major failures in building up effective Afghan forces and governance, as well as massive corruption.

China Leverages Exposed Secrets to Keep the United States on Its Heels


In early April 2023, the China Cybersecurity Industry Alliance (CCIA) published a report that reviewed notable cyber attacks allegedly conducted by U.S. intelligence agencies, using analysis from cybersecurity organizations, news sources, and supposed leaked U.S. intelligence documents. The report chronicled some of the most advanced malware observed since 2010, and suspected U.S. exploitation of IT products and encryption standards, the expanse of U.S. cyber activities, tools used, and an advanced persistent threat (APT) group believed to be tied to at least one U.S. intelligence agency. Moreover, the report linked these actions to some of the bigger threats facing the global community to include attacks on key infrastructure, supply chain compromise, and cyber weapon development. The implication is clear: Beijing is putting forth its thesis that the United States is not the benevolent cyber actor it portends to be. It appears that Beijing is capitalizing on the political divide in the U.S., a tumultuous geopolitical landscape, and a distracted U.S. foreign policy to take an aggressive stance against Washington.

There is little doubt that the United States is the primary cyber power in the world. Its two primary intelligence services’ prominent cyber capabilities are accepted by most, even if they are not overtly acknowledged by the agencies themselves. And while some of the U.S. Cyber Command’s “hunt forward” missions have made it into news cycles, those of the CIA and NSA have not, a node to the nature of their covert and clandestine work. However, by primarily using the analysis and findings of outside sources from creditable non-U.S. cybersecurity companies as well as other media, Beijing is shining a light on the type of questionable cyber activities that Washington has typically called other countries out on to include the weaponization of cyberspace, jeopardizing infrastructure security, compromising the integrity of information technology development, and undermining state sovereignty and the larger global cyber order.

Filling Out the China Grid

Micah Meadowcroft

Keep it simple, if you can. We impose paradigms on a complicated world because we must—without these patterns we could not act, only react. In my interview with Sen. J.D. Vance earlier this year, the freshman from Ohio presented a tool for thinking about American policy towards China. He described a classic two-by-two grid: On the x axis we can put China should make all our stuff and China should not make all our stuff; on the y axis, place We should go to war with China and We should not go to war with China. There are, then, according to this paradigm, only four fundamental American responses to an emerging bipolar world order. I have returned to Vance’s quadrant model often since our conversation; I hope filling it out some here is useful.

The grid was also presented by Peter Thiel late last year, very briefly towards the end of his remarks at the National Conservatism Conference. We can, Thiel said, be economically hawkish towards China or economically dovish; we can be militarily hawkish towards China, or militarily dovish. Those familiar with Thiel’s written work will find it reminiscent of another two-by-two quadrant model from Zero to One, which he co-wrote with Blake Masters. That model describes his principle of definite optimism—as opposed to indefinite optimism or definite and indefinite pessimism.

The definite optimist intervenes, works in the world, for a better future. He builds things. The definite pessimist guards against specific expected trouble. Meanwhile, the indefinite optimist trusts in progress, and the indefinite pessimist bemoans decline. The paradigm is ostensibly about business and technology, but of course really it marks out more fundamental human postures to the future and the status quo. Do we have agency and responsibility, or are we subject to historical forces beyond our control?

Vance is a definite optimist, and he thinks the right view of the national interest is: China should not make our stuff, and we should try to avoid war with China. To that end, he and his team have focused on industrial policy and protecting a productive American middle class. His chief piece of legislation and most high profile activity as senator thus far have been concerned with railway safety and the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. But his comments to me and others, his Senate staffing choices, and his allies in Washington all point to an emphasis on economic statecraft on the world stage.

What Will Happen in Sudan?


The current crisis exposes the motives of the men with guns. It requires, paradoxically, the intervention of a distracted international community that has done little to support a democratic transition.

The men in suits are back in their combat fatigues: Composite image of head of the Rapid Support Forces, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, ‘Hemedti’, and Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who has led Sudan since 2019. Courtesy Wikicommons, and credit for Hemedti photo (Russian Federation); and Burhan photo (Govt of Azerbaijan).

Despite an announced humanitarian ceasefire, fighting continues into a fifth day in Khartoum and elsewhere in Sudan. International appeals for renewed talks have so far fallen on deaf ears. The Sudan Amed Forces (SAF) controlled by the head of Sovereignty Council, General Abdel Fattah al Burhan continue to fight for control of key infrastructure with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) controlled by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as ‘Hemedti’, and officially the deputy leader of the military junta. It is to all intents and purposes a violent struggle for power between rival military chiefs.

That much is common knowledge. But it does not take place in a vacuum. Sudan presents a graphic illustration of the difficulty of reconstructing politics after an extended period of authoritarian rule, in Sudan’s case under former President Omar al Bashir; and of the difficulty of bringing influence to bear from an international community that, while none will gain from a Sudan in chaos, have very different interests.

The 2019 revolution that evicted Bashir from power was the result of popular protest, particularly led by women, which forced the military to accept a power-sharing arrangement with democratic groups. The Forces for Freedom and Change (FCC) accepted a transitional arrangement in which Abdulla Hamdok took the role of Prime Minister with Al-Burhan as President. When the time came for the two to switch positions, Burhan refused, and the democrats were evicted from power. Sudan’s transition to democracy remains unfinished.

The Pentagon Is Increasingly Relying on Billionaires’ Rockets. And It’s OK with That.


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado—The U.S. Space Force is not concerned about relying on mercurial billionaires to provide space capabilities, according to top service leaders.

The service’s ability to put large satellites in space rests primarily on the shoulders of Elon Musk, whose SpaceX test-flew a new heavy-lift rocket for the first time on Thursday, and Jeff Bezos, whose Blue Origin is slated to deliver engines to United Launch Alliance.

A potential problem is illustrated by Musk’s behavior toward Ukraine. In the months that followed Russia’s invasion, SpaceX donated some 20,000 of its satellite internet terminals and millions of dollars’ worth of service to the Ukrainian military. But in October, SpaceX wrote the Pentagon that it would cease its subsidy. Three months after that, Starlink officials said they had taken steps to hinder Ukraine’s use of the terminals on the battlefield; Musk declared, in apparent contradiction of Starlink’s work for the Pentagon, that the service was “never intended to be weaponized.” Ukrainian and Pentagon officials have said they would seek alternatives to Starlink.

But despite Musk’s hot-and-cold attitude, the U.S. Space Force is not concerned about heavily relying on these companies, Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman said Wednesday at the Space Symposium.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall echoed Saltzman’s comments, saying, “The Pentagon relies on executable and enforceable contracts with industry.”

“I think that history will show that commercial capabilities have been used in all domains, in all aspects of conflict across full spectrum operations and quite frankly, that is because we can't afford to keep all of the capabilities inside the military—the bill’s too much,” Saltzman told Defense One.

However, Saltzman said that the Space Force has not yet had a chance to talk through specific policies with industry to decide how it will use commercial satellites during conflict.

Economic Security and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Daniel M. Gerstein, Douglas C. Ligor

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) contributions to U.S. economic security and, by extension, the economy itself are often misunderstood and undervalued. The country's economic prosperity depends increasingly on the flow of goods and services, people and capital, and information and technology across U.S. borders — both visible and invisible.

The challenges the United States faces from an interconnected world have never been more significant. As witnessed during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the American public has been affected greatly, and many of these challenges are rooted in previously unforeseen vulnerabilities to the U.S. economy. To ensure its economic security now and in the future, the United States should ensure both continued global economic leadership and security of its key economic advantages. To this end, the United States must continue to lead in trade, technology, information systems, innovation, human capital acquisition (through both education and immigration), and travel. These are all areas in which DHS is uniquely postured to support, facilitate, and promote U.S. economic leadership.

DHS plays a crucial role in proactively identifying and addressing the harmful influence on U.S. economic actors or sectors that would result in a geopolitical disadvantage to the United States and limit U.S. persons, companies, or entities from prospering in the global economy. This Perspective describes DHS's role in supporting economic security now and into the future. It begins by describing the evolving strategic environment and concludes by examining DHS's critical role in economic security.

Ukraine’s lessons for military space

Debra Werner

The 2023 Space Symposium international military panel discussion included: U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. David Julazadeh, deputy chief of staff for capability development for NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander; Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, commander of the United Kingdom Space Command; and Lt. Gen. DeAnna Burt, U.S. Space Force deputy chief of space operations for operations, cyber and nuclear. Credit: Tom Kimmell Photography

COLORADO SPRINGS – Ongoing fighting in Ukraine continues to underscore the importance of combining military, civil and commercial space capabilities, international military space leaders said April 18 at the Space Symposium.

Ukraine has been able to fend off Russian forces with the help of space-based weather data, communications, GPS, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, said Lt. Gen. Eric Kenny, Royal Canadian Air Force commander. Even the surface-to-air missiles Canada donated to Ukraine depend on space systems like GPS and satellite communications, he added.

At the outset of the war, commercial satellite imagery played a critical role in helping Ukraine and its allies counter Russian propaganda, said Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, commander of the U.K. Space Command.

When Russia claimed that Ukrainians killed their fellow civilians in the town of Bucha, Maxar Technologies’ unclassified time-stamped satellite imagery appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the world in April 2022 to prove the claim wrong.

“We were able to fend off that false narrative,” Godfrey said. “Do not underestimate the deterrent effect that that had on the Russians.”
Protecting Commercial Assets

The Battle for Eurasia’s Borderlands

Antonia Colibasanu

Borderlands have long been an object of scrutiny in the realm of geopolitics, as they represent a point of convergence, interaction and oftentimes conflict between nations and political systems. The significance of these regions cannot be overstated, as they often serve as a crucible for political and military struggles, as well as a site for intricate diplomatic negotiations and maneuvers. In addition, borderlands frequently witness the interplay of different economic and social systems, giving rise to distinct hybrid cultures and identities.

Classical geopolitical analysis, which focuses on the political, economic and military domains to understand a country’s geopolitical imperatives, has traditionally been ill-equipped to account for the complexities of borderland regions, beyond their geographical location. However, my own research project related to an upcoming book I’m currently writing on the borderlands, beginning with the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and my work on current events for Geopolitical Futures, have highlighted the diversity of roles played by borderlands in regional and global stability.

Core Borderlands and Geopolitical Nodes

As I delved deeper into the theories of Halford Mackinder, Nicholas Spykman and Alfred Thayer Mahan – all prominent geopolitical thinkers from different eras and political environments – I began to discern a common denominator for the world’s borderlands or, more precisely, the borderlands of the world’s continents. These regions are characterized by their strategic location, distinctive socio-economic features, and sustained interest from major and middle powers seeking to ensure their stability. Indeed, the very stability of these borderlands is paramount, as without it, the risk of war and conflict looms large, threatening to spill over into neighboring regions and potentially reshaping the geopolitical landscape of an entire continent.

What’s Perfectly Round, Made Of Metal, And Keeping Russia From Replacing the 2,000 Tanks It’s Lost In Ukraine?

David Axe

A shortage of modern optics is throttling Russia’s ability to manufacture new T-72BM3 and T-90M tanks, and restore older T-72s, T-80s and T-90s, to make good the thousands of tanks it’s lost its wider war on Ukraine.

But optics aren’t the only thing in short supply in the Russian armored vehicle industry. The Russians also are desperately short of ball-bearings, which they used to get from the United States and Europe before the United States and Europe tightened their sanctions on Russian industry.

A new study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. confirmed what independent analysts have been saying for months. Tanks and other modern armored vehicles need a lot of ball-bearings. And Russia doesn’t have enough bearings to maintain steady production of new vehicles.

Especially considering that the Russian war effort—indeed, the whole Russian economy—utterly depends on trains for transportation. And trains also need a lot of ball-bearings. The Russians have a choice. Build more tanks and let the rail system fall apart. Or keep the trains moving, and slow tank-production.

“Historically, Russia has imported most of its high-quality bearings from Western manufacturers,” CSIS analysts Max Bergmann, Maria Snegovaya, Tina Dolbaia, Nick Fenton and Samuel Bendett noted. “In 2020, for instance, Russia imported over $419 million worth of ball bearings, around 55 percent of which originated in Europe and North America; Germany was Russia’s largest trading partner, taking up 17 percent of its total imports that year.”

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What’s Perfectly Round, Made Of Metal, And Keeping Russia From Replacing the 2,000 Tanks It’s Lost In Ukraine?

David Axe

A shortage of modern optics is throttling Russia’s ability to manufacture new T-72BM3 and T-90M tanks, and restore older T-72s, T-80s and T-90s, to make good the thousands of tanks it’s lost its wider war on Ukraine.

But optics aren’t the only thing in short supply in the Russian armored vehicle industry. The Russians also are desperately short of ball-bearings, which they used to get from the United States and Europe before the United States and Europe tightened their sanctions on Russian industry.

A new study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. confirmed what independent analysts have been saying for months. Tanks and other modern armored vehicles need a lot of ball-bearings. And Russia doesn’t have enough bearings to maintain steady production of new vehicles.

Especially considering that the Russian war effort—indeed, the whole Russian economy—utterly depends on trains for transportation. And trains also need a lot of ball-bearings. The Russians have a choice. Build more tanks and let the rail system fall apart. Or keep the trains moving, and slow tank-production.

“Historically, Russia has imported most of its high-quality bearings from Western manufacturers,” CSIS analysts Max Bergmann, Maria Snegovaya, Tina Dolbaia, Nick Fenton and Samuel Bendett noted. “In 2020, for instance, Russia imported over $419 million worth of ball bearings, around 55 percent of which originated in Europe and North America; Germany was Russia’s largest trading partner, taking up 17 percent of its total imports that year.”

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Europe’s New Energy Map


MILAN – The war in Ukraine is transforming Europe’s energy map. With Europeans increasingly purchasing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Norway, Qatar, and the United States, as well as natural gas from North African and Central Asian producers, Russia is no longer the key supplier. The composition of European oil imports is also changing now that EU bans on Russian crude and petroleum products are in force, targeting around 2.5 million barrels per day (b/d).

The world’s poor should not be paying the price for disagreements among the world’s largest creditors. But that will continue to happen until the international community – especially the United States, China, and other major IMF shareholders – strengthens and streamlines the debt-restructuring process.

The Middle East is likely to benefit most from these adjustments, allowing it to reclaim the prominent market position that it partly lost with the US shale revolution and the global transition to cleaner energy sources over the past decade.

In theory, redrawing the oil map is easier than redrawing the gas map. The oil market is globally integrated and largely free of major barriers to the international flow of crude shipments. By contrast, the natural-gas market is more regionally fragmented, because gas has traditionally been transported through pipelines. A massive global proliferation of liquefaction and regasification facilities would be required to make the LNG market as wide-ranging and efficient as the oil market.

In practice, however, the variability of oil from one country to another tends to limit substitutability. The two primary qualities that differentiate one type of oil from another are weight and “sweetness.” Heavy oil evaporates slowly and contains material used to make industrial products like asphalt. Light oil requires less processing and accounts for a greater percentage of gasoline and diesel than does heavy oil.

When Diplomacy Goes to War

Walter M. Braunohler

BOTTOM LINERussia’s invasion of Ukraine has weakened its ground forces, strengthened NATO, and humbled aggressors who resort to military force to advance foreign policy.

US diplomatic efforts were initially restrained, but are now critical to helping Ukraine with moral and material support to preserve its sovereignty.

Going forward, the challenge for the United States is how it can help Ukraine win its war while avoiding escalation with Russia and long-term entanglement that characterized the past twenty years of US foreign policy in the Middle East and Central Asia.

As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, several questions remain about what the US government would have, could have, and should have done differently since the war started. Should the United States have funneled more weapons and advanced weapons to Ukraine earlier? Could it have imposed sanctions on Russia differently? But just as it is hard to imagine that the chaos and Ukrainian suffering of this needless war continues, it is worth looking at what the US government—particularly diplomats in Washington, Kyiv, and throughout the world—got right, and how they continue to adapt to this horrific war.

While the latest invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022, it is worth remembering that the current conflict really began in 2014. Then, Russia manufactured a crisis, invaded, and subsequently occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and orchestrated a war in eastern Ukraine using Russian personnel as well as local proxy forces that Russia led, trained, supplied, and financed. At the time, Secretary of State John Kerry said that Russia was behaving “in a 19th century fashion” by conquering Ukrainian territory in what he outlined as “an incredible act of aggression” by President Vladimir Putin. Analysts failed to understand Russia’s foreign policy had imperial aims.

Europe Upgrades its Cybersecurity Arsenal — Frightening the US

Janna Brancolini

The EU’s emphasis on privacy in its mission to advance cybersecurity could drive a wedge between public and private partners.

Three days after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Europe’s interior ministers gathered for an extraordinary meeting to address an urgent issue: How would European governments work together to repel a Russian cyberattack that could take down their essential networks?

What happened surprised them and the world: Russia’s cyberattacks on Ukraine’s digital infrastructure failed. Ukraine’s banks kept operating. Trains continued to run. Although cruise missiles hit the Ukrainian government’s data center, Microsoft, VMware, and other Western companies had protected the data by dispersing it outside of the country. 1

Ukraine’s success depended on strong private-public partnerships and a willingness to put aside counterproductive ideas about digital sovereignty. Today, the unanswered question is whether European policymakers have learned these lessons. Will they seek to strengthen private-public partnerships? Or will they respond by mandating counterproductive cloud certification and data-localization schemes?
Europe’s Legislative Landscape

Europe approaches cybersecurity differently than the US, which sees it primarily as a national security issue. In the European Union, the emphasis is on protecting privacy and warding off economic danger, says Sandra Joyce, head of global intelligence at Mandiant, a cybersecurity leader. 1 Cybercrime costs Europe an estimated €5.5 trillion ($5.9 trillion) per year, according to the European Commission. 2

Behind The Lines: Russia Seeks ‘Cannon Fodder’ in Occupied Ukraine

Elina Beketova

As Russian casualties mount, the Kremlin is deploying ever-more desperate tactics to fill the ranks with soldiers from the occupied territories.

“Volunteer” battalions and “people’s militias,” even waiving the need for Russian passports, are all strategies employed by the occupiers to replace their dead and wounded. But in Crimea and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics of Eastern Ukraine, the supply is starting to dry up despite conscription and mobilization.

The pattern for local recruitment was established before the February 2022 all-out invasion. Russian forces began issuing call-up papers in Luhansk, Donetsk, and Crimea after the 2014 occupations and, according to the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office for Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, 2021 marked the 14th illegal round of conscription on the peninsula. Since 2015, the occupiers have called up 34,000 Crimeans into Russia’s armed forces. Countless others have refused to serve.

Tamila Tasheva, the Ukrainian president’s representative to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, said many fled after Russia’s full-scale invasion to avoid being forced into the army. There were several waves of departures, particularly during the conscription and mobilization campaigns of April and September 2022, she said.

“The only way to avoid mobilization was to leave Crimea. A lot of people left, including whole families, especially Crimean Tatars,” Tasheva said in an interview. The mobilization targeted the Tatars because they were seen as the least likely to be loyal to Moscow.

War and Fragility: Global Economic Dominance at a Turning Point

Didier Darcet

If inflation in consumer goods does not fall back below the 2% target, the euthanasia of the Western rentier will continue. [Al Jazeera]

In physics, a disturbance, or stress, is represented by the pressure wave of a shrill scream in the night similar to the one below:

Below is an economic wave portraying the quarterly GDP growth of the United States over the last twenty years. To the left is the 2008 crisis; to the right, the Covid-19 crisis.

Russia Has Achieved Key Goals in Ukraine, Says Diplomat


In an exclusive interview with Newsweek, Ukraine's ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko says there is an "unhealthy" obsession with his nation's planned counteroffensive this spring.
Prystaiko believes Russia will be content to maintain the land bridge to Crimea it has secured following its February 2022 invasion.
Fighting, he says, will be difficult for Ukraine as it has not received all of the weapons it needs from Western allies.
But even if Ukraine temporarily fails to take back territory lost to Russia, there is a "beauty" that few see to have survived and pushed back against Moscow's violent offensive, Prystaiko said.

Ukraine will have to reverse significant Russian achievements in a coming spring counteroffensive that could prove both militarily and politically pivotal, Kyiv's representative in London has said.

Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko—Ukraine's former foreign minister, ambassador to Canada, and top representative at NATO—told Newsweek in an interview at Kyiv's mission in the British capital that Western allies are simultaneously overly focused on Ukraine's planned spring operation, while also not doing enough to ensure its success.

Ukraine and its foreign partners, Prystaiko said, risk playing into the hands of President Vladimir Putin, who is looking to break the West's will and freeze the conflict while his troops are still in possession of contiguous swathes of invaluable Ukrainian territory.

"The whole importance of the counteroffensive, all the hopes we put on this—this is very unhealthy," Prystaiko said. "If anything goes wrong, or it's not successful enough—and what is enough?—people will have all these excuses. They will say they knew that was going to happen, and now we must get to the table and negotiate something."

Video of Russians 'Chilling' Under Burning Tank Goes Viral


ATwitter user shared footage of what appears to be Russian soldiers lying calmly underneath a burning military vehicle who don't appear to be in a hurry to move anytime soon.

Special Kherson Cat, an account that tweets video from the war in Ukraine, shared a 24-second clip in which a military vehicle can be seen on fire from a distance. The camera then hones in on the bottom of the vehicle, underneath which there appear to be two soldiers lying down and looking relatively unconcerned as they peer outwards.

"Russians chilling under a burned BMP," said the tweet, referring to the Soviet-era infantry fighting vehicle which is used by both Ukrainian and Russian forces.

"Trying to understand this. What is the soldiers impression of the threat level on the front when they find it safer to hide under a burning vehicle that may explode than to run," wrote one Twitter user in response to the video.

As of Wednesday, the clip, which has not been independently verified, had been viewed more than 156,000 times. The date and location of the clip were not given.

Newsweek reached out to Special Kherson Cat via Twitter and the Russian Defense Ministry via email for comment.

It comes as authorities in Odesa said that Russia had launched a drone attack on the Ukrainian southern port city of Odesa, although there were no reports of casualties.

Yuriy Kruk, head of the Odesa district military administration, said in a statement on Telegram that Ukrainian air defenses had destroyed most of the Shahed-136 Iranian drones but some civilian infrastructure targets had been hit.

Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov reported on Wednesday that two people had been killed by a Russian air strike on the city of Vovchansk the previous day.

Russia having difficulty making new weapons, but might have enough older ones, report says

Brad Lendon

A destroyed Russian tank is seen at a compound of an international airport after Russia's retreat from Kherson, in Chornobaivka, outside of Kherson, Ukraine, on November 16, 2022.Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters/File

Battlefield losses and Western sanctions have left the Russian military in a state of decline, but Moscow will still have enough firepower to extend the war in Ukraine, according to a new independent analysis.

The report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies gives stark numbers of Russian military losses – almost 10,000 units of key equipment such as tanks, trucks, artillery pieces and aerial drones, according to one estimate.

But it also says Russia can dip into Cold War-era and older stocks on the front lines to make up in numbers what it may have lost in technology.

“The quality of the Russian military in terms of advanced equipment will likely decline, at least over the near term,” the CSIS report says.

Here’s what the leaked US war files tell us about Europe


Europe has special forces on the ground in Ukraine. Poland and Slovenia are providing nearly half of the tanks heading to Kyiv. And Hungary may be letting arms through its airspace.

Those are just a few of the eye-catching details about Europe’s participation in the war buried in a 53-page dossier POLITICO reviewed from a leak of unverified U.S. military intelligence documents.

The disclosure has generated a tempest of head-spinning revelations that has the U.S. playing clean-up with allies. The documents detail American doubts about Ukraine’s spring offensive, suggest it was spying on South Korea and display intelligence accusing Egypt of plotting to prop up Russia’s quixotic war.

Yet Europe, for the most part, has been spared these relationship-damaging divulgences.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t knowledge to be gleaned about Europe’s war effort from the documents, however. The leaked files contain insights on everything from a U.K.-dominated special forces group in Ukraine to how — and when — France and Spain are getting a key missile system to the battlefield. The documents also contain allegations that Turkey is a potential source of arms for Russian mercenaries.

POLITICO has not independently verified the documents, and there have been indications that some of the leaked pages were doctored. But the U.S. has acknowledged the intelligence breach and arrested a suspect late on Thursday.

Here are a few of POLITICO’s findings after poring over the file.
Europe has boots on the ground

There is a Europe-heavy special forces group operating in Ukraine — at least as of March 23 — according to the documents.

The Logic of American Strategy and War

George Friedman

In recent weeks I have focused on the social and economic evolution of the United States. Obviously, we also need to discuss U.S. strategic policy. Domestic policy tends to be more dynamic than strategic policy, which follows from more persistent things like imperatives. The United States is secure from an attack on land. Neither Canada nor Mexico has the ability to wage or interest in waging a land war against the United States. Therefore, the fundamental threat to American national security must come from the sea. Still, American strategy has within it a logic. It lacks the cyclical logic of domestic politics but is shaped by the necessities imposed by place and enemies.

America’s entry into World War I was triggered by a German attack on U.S. shipping. In World War II, Washington’s key motive was the same. If Germany cut off lines of supply between the U.S. and Britain, it could isolate Britain and attack it at will. Having secured the Atlantic and a base of operations in Britain, Germany could threaten the East Coast. In the Pacific, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, if fought sensibly, could have secured sea lanes from Hawaii to the West Coast and possibly enabled Japan to impose its will there. Even the Cold War was primarily naval. Germany was indeed the line of contact with the Soviet Union, but the vital supply lines ran from the U.S. to Europe, and NATO could be crippled by cutting off those supplies. Toward that end, the Russians deployed submarines and supersonic anti-ship systems.

The Germans (twice), the Soviets and the Japanese each saw the defense of their nations as rooted in maritime war against the United States. The German failure permitted D-Day to take place, the Soviet failure made a Soviet ground offensive in Europe impossible, and the Japanese failure led to Hiroshima and the U.S. occupation of Japan. In each case, the ability of the U.S. to maintain lines of supply and block enemy attacks was the key to the defense of the United States and its economy, and in each case, American strategy was built on deterrence. In the event that U.S. security was not entirely at risk at sea, Washington created barriers to block enemy powers from moving assets toward Atlantic or Pacific ports. It was understood that the immediate threat might be trivial compared to the long-term threat. Therefore, it was essential to engage Germany as early as possible – to contain the long-term threat while it still entailed combating ground forces and before the sea threat had fully materialized. This was also critical in the Pacific against Japan. It should be noted that in Vietnam, where the U.S. had no land-sea strategy, matters ended badly.

The Strategic Consequences of a Kılıçdaroğlu Victory Over Erdoğan


Whether in the first round on May 14 or the second on May 28, Turkey’s presidential election will ultimately be fought between the incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

If the former wins another five-year term, the script is already written. Although the Turkish leadership might dial down some of its divisive rhetoric, tensions over Turkey’s foreign policy orientation and the decay of democratic freedoms would remain obstacles to meaningful improvements. Western partners would have to manage continued disruption.

If the opposition candidate wins, Western leaders will need to face massive consequences. Ankara will move promptly to normalize its relationship with NATO. But some of the current divergences, for example on Cyprus and Syria, will not go away. On the positive side, the rule of law will be reinstated and relations with the EU improved—though not eased.

By far the most significant change will concern security and defense.

If, as announced, a new Turkish leadership would return to a playing a more constructive role within NATO while maintaining solid economic relations with Russia, the strategic implications would be momentous.

Francesco Siccardi is a senior program manager and senior research analyst at Carnegie Europe.

First, Turkey would make efforts to stop Russia evading Western sanctions in a number of sectors. Second, Ankara may immediately end its opposition to Sweden’s accession to NATO. Third, it may decide a sizeable military involvement in the alliance’s reassurance operations on its Eastern flank, from Estonia to Romania. Fourth, it may consider ending the presence on Turkish soil of S-400 missile batteries delivered by Russia in July 2019. And fifth, as a consequence of the previous move, Turkey may engage in discussions about acquiring and/or developing a NATO-compatible missile defense architecture. This would facilitate the modernization of Turkey’s air force fighters’ fleet.

Involving by nature the United States, the EU, and NATO, these discussions would have a tangible impact on the security of the European continent. They would also radically change the political perception of Turkey. Conversely, each and every of these moves would be fought back by Russia, which would pressure Turkey using various means: gas supplies and transit; the Akkuyu nuclear-powered electricity plant it owns and will operate; tourists flows; agricultural purchases.

Putin Has A Plan To Get Out Of His ‘Unwinnable’ Ukraine War

Robert Kelly

Russia is desperate to find a gimmicky definition of “victory” to end what has become a quagmire in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion expecting a quick victory, akin to his Crimea land grab in 2014. A much-hyped Russian military modernization probably fed his belief this was achievable.

Russian Lancet Drone Attack on Ukraine

Scolding Isn’t a Foreign Policy

Walter Russell Mead

Wonder Land: Republicans need to decide if their support for Taiwan and Ukraine is real or not. Images: Bloomberg News/Shutterstock/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

Internationally, it was another grim week for the Biden administration, the United States of America, and world peace. Brazil, the country with the largest population, economy and landmass in Latin America, reinforced its alignment with China as its president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva pledged to work with Xi Jinping to build a new global order and called on the European Union and the U.S. to stop shipping weapons to Ukraine. Indian officials reported that China is supporting the development of a military listening post on Myanmar’s strategic Great Coco Island in the Bay of Bengal. Saudi Arabia, which flirted a few weeks ago with opening diplomatic relations with Israel, is intensifying its oil cooperation with Russia and now seeks a meeting with Hamas. Farther south, a Sudanese military faction backed by Russia’s Wagner Group battles for control of Africa’s third-largest nation.

The usual spinners and makeup artists are doing their best to make the disorderly unraveling of the American-led world order look like a visionary triumph of enlightened foreign policy, but former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers expressed a more cogent view. Describing America’s increasing loneliness on the world scene, Mr. Summers said, “Somebody from a developing country said to me, ‘What we get from China is an airport. What we get from the United States is a lecture.’ ”

CSIS Releases Landmark Report on State-Level Barriers to Meeting India’s Ambitious Climate Goals

Neelima Jain Richard M. Rossow

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 19, 2023 – The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies today released a landmark report with actionable policy recommendations to help India meet its goal of installing 450 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2030.

The report, Accelerate: 175—A Plan for Targeted Renewable Energy Cooperation with Key Indian States, offers one of the most comprehensive examinations to date of the unique state-level challenges facing Indian policymakers as they work to realize the country’s climate objectives.

As the now most populous nation in the world and one of the globe’s largest economies, India’s growing renewable energy generation capacity will be critical to supporting global efforts to combat climate change. The Indian government undertook several initiatives towards achieving a goal of installing 175 GW of renewable energy generation by the end of 2022. While the country fell short of its original target by 30 percent—or 54 GW—India installed an impressive 119.6 GW of wind and solar energy by the end of 2022.

In 2019, the government renewed its target, now aiming to achieve installation of 450 GW of renewable energy generation by 2030. To meet the government’s target, India’s states will need to address systemic, evolving challenges.

This report finds that approximately three-quarters of the shortfall in India’s 2022 renewable energy generation target can be traced back to six states—Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. The authors conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with state-level energy officials from these states to understand unique challenges faced by each state and to explore potential partnership areas from which the states can benefit. The authors identified several challenges, including slow-moving distributed renewable energy, poor financial health of distribution companies (discoms), limited infrastructure, and lack of technical expertise. The authors also looked at two states that exceeded their original renewable energy generation targets—Gujarat and Rajasthan—to analyze their success and understand their unique challenges.

The 5 Biggest Problems With Blockchain Technology Everyone Must Know About

Bernard Marr

Blockchain technology has undeniably captured the imagination of the tech world and beyond, offering the promise of decentralized, transparent, and tamper-proof systems. From its inception with Bitcoin to the development of smart contracts, non-fungible tokens, and decentralized finance, blockchain has been hailed as a groundbreaking innovation with potential applications in numerous industries.

But along with blockchain’s advantages come some significant challenges — and to reach its full potential as a game-changing technology, these issues will need to be overcome.

Let’s take a look at some of the most pressing problems facing blockchain today.


Blockchain networks can be slow and inefficient due to the high computational requirements needed to validate transactions. As the number of users, transactions, and applications increases, the ability of blockchain networks to process and validate them in a timely way becomes strained. This makes blockchain networks difficult to use in applications that require fast transaction processing speeds.

Traditional blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum rely on consensus algorithms like proof-of-work and proof-of-stake, which can be slow and resource-intensive. As a result, these networks face limitations in transaction throughput, often leading to congestion and high transaction fees.

Various solutions have been proposed to try to overcome scalability issues, including scaling systems for creating off-chain channels that allow for faster and more cost-effective transactions.

Large language models: fast proliferation and budding international competition

The capabilities of large language models have improved significantly in recent years and have come to broader public attention with the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November 2022. The sudden general interest in these models includes attention from potentially malicious actors, who may seek to misuse them, and attention from policymakers, who are now increasingly invested in national competition over language-model development and securing access to the massive amount of computing power needed to support innovation in this domain.

On 30 November 2022, the American technology company OpenAI released a large language model called ChatGPT that allows the public to converse with an artificial-intelligence (AI) chatbot. The model, which mimics human language, attracted over 100 million active users by January 2023, becoming the fastest software application ever to reach this milestone. Many users, however, noted that the model – like others such as Microsoft Bing, created using an updated version of OpenAI software – sometimes produced outputs that were offensive, shocking or politically charged. These outputs underscored the fact, which researchers have long emphasised, that the language-modelling subfield of AI will be susceptible to use and abuse by propagandists and other malicious actors.

OpenAI researchers trained ChatGPT’s underlying model, updated on 13 March 2023 from the model known as Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) to GPT-4, using massive amounts of internet text with the goal of probabilistically predicting the next word in any sequence of text. The fact that these models are essentially next-word predictors means that they mimic content acquired from training data even when that content is biased, untrue or harmful. And yet, despite being trained on this simple task, many language models have demonstrated novel capabilities such as writing computer code, translating between languages and even distinguishing between legal and illegal moves in chess. Meanwhile, the capabilities that as-yet-released models might acquire – and the social and political ramifications thereof – remain unclear. The sudden general interest in these models includes attention from potentially malicious actors, who may seek to misuse them, and attention from policymakers, who are now increasingly invested in national competition over language-model development and securing access to the massive amount of computing power needed to support innovation in this domain.

‘A new way of thinking’: US Army talks artillery strategy with allies in Poland


U.S. and NATO military leaders receive a tour of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System during a three-day summit in Torun, Poland, April 18, 2023. (John Schoebel/U.S. Army National Guard)

The U.S. Army held an “artillery summit” this week with allies in Poland, where commanders strategized how to better incorporate a much-lauded rocket system into their fighting formations.

V Corps, at a Polish base in the north-central city of Torun, brought senior leaders together for the European High Mobility Artillery Rocket System Initiative.

The Corps headquarters described it as a “pathbreaking” effort to enhance how allies fight together with long-range firepower.

“We see this as the underpinning of an expanded ability to fight with joint fires in support of large-scale combat operations,” V Corps commander Lt. Gen. John S. Kolasheski said in a statement Wednesday.

NATO Deterrence and Defense: Military Priorities for the Vilnius Summit

Franklin D. Kramer

At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s July summit in Vilnius, the focus will necessarily be on support to Ukraine. But as NATO’s Strategic Concept makes clear, the Alliance also needs to respond to a broader set of challenges, with those arising from Russia particularly acute. This issue brief focuses on the conventional military threat from Russia, and sets forth six priority actions that NATO should undertake to enhance its deterrent and defense posture.

In summary, the report recommends:

enhancing NATO’s mobility capability to meet the force-posture goals established at the Madrid summit through a combination of prepositioning; regular division, brigade, and air-wing forward training and exercises; establishment of new training areas; and increased host-nation support;

establishing a sustainment initiative so that NATO maintains stocks sufficient to fight an extended-duration conflict, and that the defense industry has the capability to replenish such stocks in a timely manner;

establishing effective relationships with key private-sector companies that will engage in operational activities during a conflict, initially focused on cybersecurity for critical infrastructure, ensuring the continuity of information technology and communications networks and the utilization of private-sector space capabilities;

establishing through the Defense Planning Process requirements for low-cost unmanned air and maritime vehicles, including with artificial-intelligence (AI) capabilities, and reviewing the potential role of mines as a deterrent capability;

revising NATO’s command-and-control structures at Joint Forces Command Brunssum and Joint Forces Command Naples to be regional commands capable of directing high-intensity warfare and focused on the east/north and the south, respectively; and utilizing currently available commercial technology to establish the capability for prompt command and control of multidomain operations; and

establishing the requisite funding to achieve the foregoing, including a pledge by NATO nations of 2.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) as a floor for defense spending and supporting the European Union (EU) creation of an EU security and defense budget focused on mobility, sustainment, and critical-infrastructure resilience.

I. The Russian conventional threat

In Defense of the Fence Sitters

Matias Spektor

As countries in the global South refuse to take a side in the war in Ukraine, many in the West are struggling to understand why. Some speculate that these countries have opted for neutrality out of economic interest. Others see ideological alignments with Moscow and Beijing behind their unwillingness to take a stand—or even a lack of morals. But the behavior of large developing countries can be explained by something much simpler: the desire to avoid being trampled in a brawl among China, Russia, and the United States.

Across the globe, from India to Indonesia, Brazil to Turkey, Nigeria to South Africa, developing countries are increasingly seeking to avoid costly entanglements with the major powers, trying to keep all their options open for maximum flexibility. These countries are pursuing a strategy of hedging because they see the future distribution of global power as uncertain and wish to avoid commitments that will be hard to discharge. With limited resources with which to influence global politics, developing countries want to be able to quickly adapt their foreign policies to unpredictable circumstances.

In the context of the war in Ukraine, hedgers reason that it is too early to dismiss Russia’s staying power. By invading its neighbor, Russia may have made a mistake that will accelerate its long-term decline, but the country will remain a major force to reckon with in the foreseeable future and a necessary player in negotiating an end to the war. Most countries in the global South also see a total Russian defeat as undesirable, contending that a broken Russia would open a power vacuum wide enough to destabilize countries far beyond Europe.

Western countries have been too quick to dismiss this rationale for neutrality, viewing it as an implicit defense of Russia or as an excuse to normalize aggression. In Washington and various European capitals, the global South’s response to the war in Ukraine is seen as making an already difficult problem harder. But such frustrations with hedgers are misguided—the West is ignoring the opportunity created by large developing countries’ growing disillusionment with the policies of Beijing and Moscow. As long as these countries feel a need to hedge their bets, the West will have an opportunity to court them. But to improve relations with developing countries and manage the evolving global order, the West must take the concerns of the global South—on climate change, trade, and much else—seriously.