24 April 2023

A New Superpower? India's Economic Rise Holds Promise for the Country and Beyond

Laura Höflinger

It wouldn’t be the first time that the world order shifted with billionaire Nandan Nilekani playing playing a part in it.

With his company, he experienced firsthand what a meteoric rise feels like. And if it were up to him, the miracle would happen again – but this time for his entire country. "I haven’t seen that kind of excitement for a long time."

Nilekani, 67, is sitting in the meeting room of his foundation in Bangalore. Inside, it is cool and quiet, while the streets outside are buzzing with mopeds and cars competing for road space. Within just 20 years, the population of this southern Indian metropolis has doubled to an estimated 13 million people. Almost every large tech company in the world has an office here, with shining buildings among the palm trees. Bangalore is the epitome of outsourcing and globalization. Hundreds of thousands of jobs at IT companies and call centers that left the United States and Europe in the 1990s have ended up in this city.

It was a process that made people like Nilekani wealthy. More than 40 years ago, he and a handful of colleagues founded Infosys, with an initial investment of $250. Today, the IT giant employs more than 340,000 people and generates annual revenues of $18 billion. One of the company’s founders is British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s father-in-law.

The Sino-Indian Rivalry Is Reshaping Asia


NEW DELHI – Three years after China stealthily began encroaching on India’s territory in the Himalayas, no end is in sight for the two countries’ border standoff. While the rival military buildups and intermittent clashes have received little attention in the West, the escalating border confrontation has set in motion a long-term rivalry that could reshape Asian geopolitics.

By locking horns with China despite the risk of a full-scale war, India has openly challenged Chinese power in a way no other world power, including the United States, has done in this century. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s strategic overreach has caused India to shift away from its previous appeasement policy and accelerate its military buildup, turning a potential partner into an enduring foe, while appearing determined to forestall a Sinocentric Asia.

Similarly, Xi’s muscular revisionism and geopolitical ambitions have forced Japan and Australia to readjust their strategic frameworks and work to counter China’s expansionism in the Indo-Pacific. By drawing up plans to double defense spending by 2027, Japan has effectively abandoned its pacifist postwar national-security policy. Australia, for its part, has renounced its previous hedging approach and joined the AUKUS defense pact with the US and the United Kingdom.

Modi’s Marketing Muscle

Manjari Chatterjee Miller

If you go almost anywhere in New Delhi, India’s capital, you won’t be far from a giant poster advertising its presidency of the G-20—a group of 19 large economies plus the European Union—alongside a portrait of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Switch on the TV or pick up a newspaper, and you’ll encounter gushing media coverage about how India’s term in charge of the group represents a moment for the country to showcase its global leadership. Recently, one of us received a mass email from a local research organization offering a training course on India’s G-20 presidency, with the promise of a formal certificate of completion.

The Taliban Are Throwing Pakistan a Googly

Lynne O’Donnell

It’s getting difficult to determine which one among Pakistan’s myriad crises will finally engulf the country. Inflation is hitting historic highs, unemployment is pushing young men into the ranks of extremists, the military is torn between its loyalty to the state and the terrorists it helped create, and leading politicians are engaged in a battle for mutual destruction. The reality is that Pakistan is fighting for its survival.

Bangladesh's Sheikh Hasina. Photo Credit: UK Prime Minister's Office, Wikipedia Commons.

Dr. Delwar Hossain

Japan was one of the first nations to provide support in the development of the post-independence war-torn Bangladesh and historically is considered an all-weather friend of Bangladesh. Japan has been Bangladesh’s major partner since then, especially in the development field.

However, the relationship between Bangladesh and Japan is no longer confined to the development domain rather it has upgraded to a strategic partnership in the changing political landscape. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the “Comprehensive Partnership” between Bangladesh and Japan is now poised to be upgraded to a “Strategic Partnership”. Both Bangladesh and Japan can multiply the existing areas of cooperation to attain multiple benefits. One of the key elements of the growing “Japan-Bangladesh Comprehensive Partnership” is highlighted in the strategy. On the occasion of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Japan, the two nations are prepared to advance their bilateral relations to a strategic level.
Japan’s Emerging Security Quest in the Indian Ocean

Since the period of the previous prime minister Shinzo Abe, Japan’s stance on security and defense has changed. Given that Japan imports a significant share of its raw materials from the Middle East to fulfill the demands of its industries, and given that roughly 80% of its maritime trade is carried through this sea-trade route, the Indian Ocean has particularly emerged as a lifeline for Japan. Via its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China deepened its commercial relations with nations bordering the Indian Ocean and has continued to develop deep seaports worldwide.

As a result, Japan’s marine trade will surely find itself in a challenging situation in the future if there is any unrest in this region. Because of this, a new strategy for Japan’s foreign policy is the growth of its strategic ties with the nations of the Indian Ocean. To counter China’s BRI in the Indo-Pacific area and maintain uninterrupted access to its maritime lanes, Japan has already established ‘QUAD,’ a collaborative security venture with Australia, India, and the United States.

Rising Russian-Chinese Tensions Over NSR Could Spark Russian Military Clash With West

Paul Goble

In March 2023, at his summit meeting in Moscow with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he was ready to create a joint Chinese-Russian working group to develop what the Russians call the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and the Chinese the Polar Silk Road (TASS, March 21). Putin saw this step as a way to simultaneously attract Chinese resources to help Russia develop this route and cement a burgeoning alliance between Moscow and Beijing against the West (see EDM, June 4, 2020). But it is becoming increasingly obvious, even in Russia at least among experts, that China’s plans are fundamentally at odds with those of the Kremlin and that these differences, along with China’s development of railway routes south of Russia through Central Asia and the Caucasus, mean that Beijing is more a competitor than an ally vis-à-vis Moscow in the transit sector (see EDM, March 28, April 4).

Over the long term, this pattern means that China, not Russia, is likely to be the great beneficiary of any present cooperation with Moscow. But in the short term, it may mean something more serious as far as the West is concerned. That is because the current situation could lead the Kremlin to play up military tensions between Russia and the West to signal to China that it needs Russian military might in the Arctic to counter the West. This means Beijing must cooperate with Moscow to ensure that Russian military force will be used to enable China to pursue its geo-economic and geopolitical goals in the North, a calculation that is already informing Russian commentaries and likely affecting Moscow’s overall calculus as well (Fondsk.ru, April 13). To the extent that this is the case, differences between Russia and China in the Arctic may soon lead Russia to risk sparking a military conflict with the West in the region, as it becomes ever-more obvious to the Kremlin itself what China’s true goals are and why the only resource Moscow has to keep Beijing in line is to militarize the issue.

Why China Backtracked on Military Assistance to Russia and Why the Policy Will Stick

Nicholas Khoo

Amajor crisis in U.S.-China relations has just been averted. Speaking on April 14 at a news conference with the visiting German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang issued an assurance: “Regarding the export of military items, China adopts a prudent and responsible attitude. China will not provide weapons to relevant parties of the [Ukraine] conflict, and [will] manage and control the exports of dual-use items in accordance with laws and regulations.”

This episode is a textbook case of deterrence theory in action. It is a successful example of the United States practicing coercive diplomacy to deter China from providing military aid to Russia. The Biden administration directly warned China on several occasions not to provide Russia with military assistance. And after careful and repeated consideration over slightly more than a year, China has weighed the costs and benefits and complied with the threat.

A Year of Warnings

This U.S. diplomatic success came close to failing. The recent alleged leaking of intercepted U.S. intelligence records by Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, has provided us with some insight. According to a February 23 U.S. intelligence summary of Russian “signals intelligence,” China’s Central Military Commission had “approved the incremental provision” of weapons and wanted it kept secret. Yet at some point between that date and April 14, Beijing changed its mind.

To best understand then why China opted not to arm Russia, it is necessary to highlight the critical role of a series of direct U.S. warnings to China that taken place for more than year.

The first warning occurred during National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s March 2022 meeting with Yang Jiechi, the then-Director of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission. According to Sullivan, “we are communicating directly, privately to Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them.”



Lawmakers walked away from this simulation determined to warn the U.S. business community of the impending crisis. The committee doesn’t believe that American companies are taking it seriously enough.

“We are well within the window of maximum danger for the Chinese Communist Party invasion of Taiwan, and yesterday’s war game stressed the need to take action to deter CCP aggression and arm Taiwan to the teeth before any crisis occurs,” Representative Mike Gallagher (R., Wisc.), the committee’s chairman, told National Review this morning.

The simulation was overseen by the Center for New American Security think tank, whose experts played the role of the Chinese military. The members of Congress took the role of the president’s national-security team.

While the committee did not complete the war game (because there wasn’t enough time), it spotlighted the stakes for the lawmakers who participated.

“Last night’s exercise reaffirmed what we already know: Xi is running hypothetical invasion scenarios in his head every single day,” said Representative Ashley Hinson (R., Iowa), a member of the committee.

During the game, China’s access to SWIFT was cut off, following a simulated attack on Taiwan by invading People’s Liberation Army forces. Ships stopped going through the region, and supply chains were severely disrupted.

“There will be huge economic consequences for the world if China attacks Taiwan and companies need to prepare for this,” a source close to the committee said. “They are not planning for this scenario and they need to be, or else they risk a dereliction of their fiduciary duties.”

AI, Hypersonic, Cyber Warfare & Space: How Global Powers Are Investing In ‘Disruptive Tech’ To Thwart Russian & Chinese Monopoly

Prakash Nanda

Anytime now, the US will release its “National Defense Science and Technology Strategy.” The draft is ready and waiting for the final clearance of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

However, Austin’s Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Heidi Shyu, has given enough indications that “to counter threats from adversaries, including China and Russia,” the Pentagon will showcase, through this strategy, three main focus areas: joint operations; creation and deployment of capabilities at speed and scale; and establishment of an enduring advantage through the cultivation of talent and pursuit of basic research.

“We are implementing this strategy in the President’s FY24 budget request, which continues historic levels of investment in research and development,” Shyu told members of the House Armed Services Committee’s Cyber, Innovative Technologies and Information Systems subpanel lawmaker recently.

“It prioritizes the delivery of near-term capabilities at speed and scale; direct support to joint warfighting concepts; and building the science and technology foundation for tomorrow,” she added.

It may be noted that President Joe Biden’s US$886.3 billion fiscal 2024 defense budget request includes as large as US$145 billion for research and development into emerging technologies to create new weapons systems using artificial intelligence (AI), hypersonic munitions, and electromagnetic swarms.

Interestingly, the US$886.3 billion FY24 defense request includes US$842 billion for the Pentagon with emphasis on the “growing multi-domain threat posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” which the DoD (Pentagon) has again named the nation’s most pressing “pacing challenge.”

It is said that the proposed US$145 billion research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) budget is up 12% from this year, with the Air Force receiving one-third of the requested outlay. The Science and Technology component of the RDT&E budget request is US$17.8 billion, up 8.3 percent over this year’s US$16.5 billion budget.

Significantly, the Pentagon’s seriousness on emerging technologies has come in the wake of mounting criticisms from many quarters that there is always a big gap between what the US government says and does.

“In our time serving in the Defense Department, we have found that the United States does not have an innovation problem, but rather an innovation adoption problem,” the Atlantic Commission, a Washington, DC-based think tank, said in an interim report released on April 12.

Israel’s defense chief warns of multi-front war, says Iran 'driving force'

Rina Bassist

An Israeli soldier walks on the turret of a Merkava Mark IV battle tank stationed at a position along Israel's northern border with Lebanon in the vicinity of the village of Shtula on April 6, 2023. - OREN ZIV/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned on Thursday that the IDF must prepare for a multi-front war in which Israel faces many serious security threats at the same time involving Iran's proxies in the Middle East.

Briefing reporters, Gallant said that "the era of limited conflicts" is over. He saw Israel as facing a new security era with possible threats to all arenas simultaneously. "We operated for years under the assumption that limited conflicts could be managed, but that is a phenomenon that is disappearing. Today, there is a noticeable phenomenon of the convergence of the arenas.”

Gallant said that Iran is the force driving this new phenomenon of anti-Israel fronts coming together, stating, “Iran is the driving force in the convergence of the arenas. It transfers resources, ideology, knowledge and training to its proxies.”

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The defense minister was referring to Palestinian militant groups operating in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, Lebanon-based Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militias across the region.

On the level of resources, Gallant said that Iran has increased its financial support to its proxies. According to the Israeli Defense Ministry's data, Hezbollah received $700 million from Iran last year as well as “knowledge and strategic weaponry” such as precision-guided munitions. Hamas received $100 million and tens of millions of dollars went to the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad group. Iran also transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to Iranian-backed militias in Syria and to the Syrian government.

Who's Tackling Classified AI?

Ashley Deeks 

On April 8, the Washington Post reported that members of Congress have “vowed to tackle AI.” The article describes the anxiety that is growing among lawmakers as they try to get a handle on what recent advances in artificial intelligence portend. “Something is coming. We aren’t ready,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted.

It will be good news if members of Congress are able to get smarter about what AI tools are, what they can and can’t do, and what good and bad uses of AI will realistically look like. But the work shouldn’t stop with unclassified AI systems alone. Classified AI tools that U.S. national security agencies build and use should also be consistent with the basic values we expect of the U.S. government: legality, competence, effectiveness, and accountability. Innovations in the unclassified setting can provide ideas on how to do so.

Regulating in the Unclassified Space

Almost all of the discussion about what Congress—and the Biden administration—might do to regulate and de-risk AI is focused on domestic and unclassified manifestations of AI tools. Government actors are concerned about ways in which AI tools such as ChatGPT will help malicious actors commit fraud and spread propaganda and misinformation. They are also worried about the prospect that AI will replace people’s jobs. One set of responses to AI development could be legislative, informed by congressional hearings and lobbying on Capitol Hill by companies that produce AI systems. Another could be technocratic, led by actors like the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. A third—and ambitious—approach, one proposed by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), could be a combination of the first two: a congressionally created government commission to assess AI risks and potentially a new federal agency to oversee AI.

What Northern Ireland Teaches Us About Ending the Ukraine War


While no party in Northern Ireland achieved everything it wanted during these negotiations, every faction could realize some of what it sought – and more than any could hope to accomplish through fighting. The war between Russia and Ukraine will begin to end only when both sides come to the same realization.

NEW YORK – There are many reasons to celebrate the recent 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Reached in 1998, it has provided a political framework that has dramatically reduced violence in a part of the United Kingdom that experienced something very close to civil war for the preceding three decades.

Some of what explains the accord’s success is specific to Northern Ireland. But other factors have broader relevance, providing guidance for approaching conflicts elsewhere, even the war between Russia and Ukraine.

The most fundamental lesson is that diplomacy can succeed only where and when other tools cannot. Successive British prime ministers – Margaret Thatcher, John Major, and Tony Blair – created a context that by the late 1990s gave diplomacy a chance. This required two things: First, the UK introduced sufficient security forces so that those in Northern Ireland who sought to shoot their way to power could not succeed. Violence could not be prevented from disrupting lives, but it was not allowed to create political facts.

At the same time, British authorities combined their tough stance against violence with an openness to political dialogue. While no party in Northern Ireland achieved everything it wanted during these negotiations, every faction could realize some of what it sought – and more than any could hope to accomplish through fighting. Getting the protagonists to this point, to where they accepted (no matter how reluctantly) the inevitability of compromise, was essential to move the conflict toward resolution.

Russia’s Main Strategy: Demonize Ukraine and Hope for Weakening Western Support

Ksenia Kirillova

As the United States continues to investigate the massive leak of classified Pentagon documents that include key strategic insights into plans for a Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russian propaganda is trying to make the most of the situation (Euromaidan Press, April 10). In doing this, propagandists are utilizing diametrically opposing messages.

On the one hand, they argue that the leaks have caused enormous reputational damage to the US. Russian expert Malek Dudakov notes that the further evidence regarding the United States watching its allies has already angered Israel and South Korea. Dudakov’s assumption is that “many are threatening that they will share less intelligence with America. And I believe that this can really happen” (Lenta.ru, April 11).

On the other, many pro-Kremlin experts insist that the published information is a carefully planned disinformation campaign by US intelligence agencies. According to these commentators, it indicates that Washington is reconsidering its position on aid to Ukraine and looking for an excuse to cut back. The propagandists claim that the “uncontrollable” behavior of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or difficulties in relations with allies could serve as a pretext for such a move (YouTube, April 9).

It seems that betting on the weakening of Western aid to Ukraine is indicative of growing desperation in the Kremlin, considering its inability to score any significant military victories and proliferating rumors of an impending Ukrainian counteroffensive. To this end, besides stoking fears of World War III (Izvestiya, March 11) and claiming that sanctions are mostly hurting Western countries (Sputnik.kg, April 18, 2022), Moscow is actively trying to demonize Ukraine.

As the Russian oppositionists note, the purpose of such an approach is to create a negative image of the victim, which can alienate, if not Western, then at least neutral countries. This opinion was expressed by Russian opposition political scientist Vladimir Pastukhov and former political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky when discussing the murder of a pro-Putin war correspondent and ex-combatant Maxim Fomin, known under the pseudonym Vladlen Tatarsky (YouTube, April 5).

Moscow Faces Serious Obstacles In Making Karelia A ‘Second Kaliningrad’ – Analysis

Paul Goble 

Since the demise of the Soviet Union, Moscow has viewed Kaliningrad as an important Russian outpost in the West—first under Boris Yeltsin as a bridge to Europe and then as an advanced post for projecting Russian power. More recently, in response to Finland’s decision to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Kremlin has expressed the hope that it can transform Karelia into a “second Kaliningrad,” a center of Russian military power that could check any expansion of the Western alliance into Scandinavia and the Arctic.

In addition, in the event of a crisis, it could prevent NATO from severing the single-track rail line connecting central Russia and the Kola Peninsula, where a large portion of Russia’s strategic arms are located (Eastwest.eu, June 27, 2022). Such a calculation is entirely reasonable from Moscow’s perspective, but the Russian authorities face serious obstacles in achieving their goal—and, quite possibly as a result of such an overreach, may trigger precisely those centrifugal forces in the North that the Kremlin so fears (Sever.Realii, October 22, 2021).

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced these intentions earlier this year as part of his plans for the expansion of the Russian army over the next several years. As Finland’s accession to NATO will mean that the direct border between Russia and the Western alliance will expand by more than 1,200 kilometers, the defense minister stressed that the creation of a Russian military force there is vital. This would involve the formation of a new Russian army corps of some 100,000 men in Karelia. That force would represent the revival of the 6th All-Forces Army, which existed in the region until 1998 but was then disbanded, This field army would rely both on infrastructure that has survived from Soviet times and on the construction of new facilities to be paid for almost entirely by the republic’s government (RBC, January 17; Gov.karelia.ru, January 18).

Both Artur Parfenchikov, Russian head of the Karelian government, and Russian analysts, such as Vladimir Klimanov, head of the Moscow Center for Regional Policy, are upbeat about this possibility, with Klimanov arguing that an army corps in Karelia would become “a driver of economic growth” in the depressed region of 528,000 people (Rueconomics.ru, February 19).

Is Russia a Problem or an Opportunity for China?

Valerie M. Hudson

In March, the new foreign minister of China, Qin Gang, waxed eloquent about the state of Sino-Russian relations. “The more unstable the world becomes the more imperative it is for China and Russia to steadily advance their relations . . . The strategic partnership will surely grow from strength to strength.”

That struck some in the West as disingenuous. After all, Russia is getting a bloody nose in Ukraine, which is not only embarrassing from a power politics point of view (who wants to be seen as backing the losing horse?) but has also served to increase the unity and size of NATO. Furthermore, the Chinese were apparently told by the Russians to expect a more limited “special military operation”—not a full-scale invasion, complete with crimes against humanity. A crippled ally may turn out to be a burden and a hindrance; an ally that potentially crosses the nuclear threshold spells disaster.

And China’s got bigger fish to fry, after all. It dreams of supplanting the Western-led order with a China-led one, and it plans its own invasion of a territory it considers part of its national heritage. Some feel that China’s recently proposed twelve-point peace plan shows its desire to see its ally Russia back down from a long, grinding proxy war with the West while saving face. Negotiations over such a ceasefire would also save China the painful choice of whether or not to bring down Western economic sanctions on its head if it were to be forced to arm the Russians lest they be defeated.

After all, it was the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu who stated, “Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems.” While there are definitely some downsides to China in its current relationship with Russia, there’s also a very bright side.

A stumbling ally becomes even more dependent on you—as China has become indispensable to Russia’s survival, and that offers China significant leverage over its neighbor. Beijing has already negotiated big price cuts on the energy resources it buys from Moscow. Russia needs the rubles, and China is quite willing to play ball, for a price. In addition to those energy price cuts, China has negotiated favorable terms for Chinese investment in key Russian infrastructure, such as roads and ports, and even farmland. Though the terms of these agreements are not public, similar Chinese investments in other countries have been conditional on greater-than-average control over the resulting assets.

Why Russian Military, Armed With Best Of Fighters & Missiles, Fails To Stop NATO’s Weapons Supply Into Ukraine?

Why is Russia not able to stop the inflow of NATO military equipment into Ukraine? File Image: Su-34

A Russian military expert says that NATO keeps pouring arms into Ukraine despite bombing basic infrastructure like roads and bridges.

This is because of the difficulty of sending special forces deep into Ukraine and the inability of missiles or bombs to hit the bridge columns. Yuri Knutov, the director of the Museum of the Air Defense Troops, stated this while speaking about strikes by Russian Su-34 aircraft.

New technologies in Russia -Ukraine war

Every war brings in a new kind of technologies which are meant to amplify the magnitude of war and also the impact of the weapons with more precision guided and cluster munitions which can affect larger areas as well as more casualties among both civilians and military personnel. During the Russia Ukraine war which has been one of these kinds of technology demonstrator given the fact that many of the European countries have been helping Ukraine with new kind of weapons and equipment. Russia, on the other hand, has been toying with the idea of utilising hypersonic missiles and tactical weapons to hit the strategic locations across Ukraine. Important aspect related to the new kind of technologies has been primarily missile defence, command and control, surface to air missiles, and use of hyper missiles technologies.

One important element in this war has been extensive use of information warfare and cyber war. If one looks into the amount of military aid which was closer to US $46.6 billion along with other countries such as UK and the EU nations have surpassed more than U.S. dollar 50 billion dollars as military aid to Ukraine. In terms of military aid the United states has supplied Ukraine with javelin anti tank missiles, stingers, Abraham tanks, anti UAV technologies, patriot missiles and air defence systems. In fact the use of air defence systems has been able to control the Russian air raids across Ukraine. Furthermore, very recently Germany has provided 18 leopard tanks which are seen as state of the art technologies while UK has provided 14 challenger II tanks. Russia has been using Iranian made drones and which included 6 Mohajir drones which are delivered to the Russian Navy. Iran has also supplied 12 Shahid 191 and 129 drones.

The Secret Behind Russia's Swarms of Deadly Drones


The off-white hull of a captured drone lies on the floor of an undisclosed Ukrainian military facility, its triangular shape accented by the hardwood’s herringbone pattern. Investigators from the nonprofit Conflict Armament Research (CAR) are trying to learn more about this new weapon. Open compartments on the wings reveal wires, tiny motors, and circuit boards. Yellow, brown, and pink cables spill over the sides.

The investigators probe the drone with the care of medical examiners, delicately lifting flaps and tugging on electrical wires. On the tail is the name Geran-2—written in Russian Cyrillic characters as a ploy to disguise the drone’s true origin.

The attack drone is one of four types that Ukraine’s military has collected from various sites across the country. After removing the deadly warheads, they handed them over to CAR last November. In addition to the one lying on the wooden floor, Ukraine has also requested that the group investigate a smaller version called Geran-1, along with a reconnaissance spy drone that looks like the U.S.-made Predator and one other undisclosed model.

In the previous months, Ukraine had come under intense fire from swarms of drones like the ones now being inspected. Throughout fall and winter, Russia deployed the weapons against the country’s electricity distribution infrastructure. The drones crashed into substations and transformers, spreading blackouts across Kyiv and other cities. Some hit apartment buildings, killing civilians. They were unlike any other weapon Ukraine had thus far defended against—and they were devastatingly effective. More troubling was the fact that there appeared to be an unlimited supply of them.

The new aircraft had significantly longer range and looked radically different than any known Russian-made drone; its wing shape made it look something like a giant paper airplane. Unable to identify it, soldiers and citizens came up with their own names; they called it “the Dorito” or sometimes “lawnmower” for the motor’s distinctive whining.

All eyes turned to an unlikely source: Iran. Last July, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned that he believed the nation had signed a deal to supply several hundred drones to Russia. Both Iran and Russia have denied the existence of an arms deal, but the distinctive shape of the drones is hard to overlook. The flying wings resemble the Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones that were used in 2019 by the Houthi—a breakaway rebel group in Yemen—and in 2021 by Iran to attack an ocean tanker off the coast of Oman.

Bizarre Plot To Steal Russian Jets Ends In Ukrainians Charged With Treason


An undisclosed number of Ukrainian service members have been charged with treason, the Ukrainian State Security Service (SBU) announced Thursday, after a bizarre plot to convince Russian pilots to steal their aircraft apparently backfired. As a result of the ensuing Russian investigation, its forces launched a "massive missile attack" on Ukraine's "Kanatove airfield on July 23, 2022.” It killed a commander, wounded 17 airmen, destroyed two fighter jets and caused “significant damage” to the airstrip and several buildings, SBU stated in a release.

Just two days after the deadly attack, Bellingcat Russia investigator Christo Grosev described the plot in a Twitter thread as a “crazier-than-fiction story of triple-agents, fake passports and faux girlfriends.” Bellingcat, he said, was chronicling this plot as it unfolded, via a documentary about “one of the wackiest counter-counter-intel operations of all time.”

It was a tale, he said, that Russia's FSB security agency falsely accused him of being involved in.

The genesis of this operation was based on a new Ukrainian law offering money to Russians who provide Kyiv with military hardware, Grosev said.

“A team of Ukrainian operatives decided to approach Russian pilots with an offer based on this law,” Grosev wrote. “We found out about the initiative, and assured ourselves a front seat – to make a documentary about this brazen operation.”

He was quick to point out that the operation “was not a project of either SBU or GUR [Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Directorate]. (If it were, there'd be no way we would - or want to - get access to it). It was organized by maverick ex operatives whom we got to know” via a previous Bellingcat investigation.

Nizhny Tagil on the edge: Russia cannot catch up with tank losses

Boyko Nikolov 

The Russian city is home to the UralVagonZavod, the largest among other Russian tank factories. Currently, its capacity is the production of 20 tanks per month. For at least a year, the tanks have been only one model – the T-90M Proriv. Annually, this makes 240 tanks. Let’s round them to 250 because there are circumstances that can go either way.

This is extremely insufficient for the intentions expressed by the Kremlin – 1,600 tanks per year. This is insufficient compared to the monthly losses of the Russian army in Ukraine. According to Ukrainian sources, Russia loses 150 tanks per month of all models and types. There is no way that Nizhny Tagil can load production to the scale of 50 tanks, let alone 150 tanks.

Circumstances have also changed in the last year. Moscow issued an order that pushed military production to full capacity. They no longer work eight hours a day, but 12, sometimes 14 hours. Moscow gave freedom to anyone who wanted to work – to do so, including the night shift.

However, Nizhny Tagil does not have such classified personnel. The population of the city is over 300,000 people. Moscow is forced to appoint people from other parts of Russia. But these are additional costs – accommodation, gas, electricity, water, food, and transport. Salaries at UralVagonZavod are not high, especially after the war started.

Why The War In Ukraine Won’t End Anytime Soon

Daniel Davis

I’m going to be bluntly honest and make a declarative statement and then provide the rationale: peace and security in Europe is unequivocally available, relatively easy, and available. Peace is an outcome in the Russia-Ukraine war that can be selected by multiple parties. It isn’t near as elusive as commonly believed – that is not to say, however, that there is a snowball’s chance in hell in the current environment, with the current crop of leaders, that peace will be sought.

It won’t even be genuinely considered.

The cold reality of why no one in the West will choose this peace is virtually no one in a position of power wants peace. The West wants to crush Russia. Other interests are relegated to secondary status. For there to be an end to the war, the collective West would have to alter their priority list.

The three objectives that ought to drive American policy are: a) the security of the United States, b) the security and well-being of the Ukrainian population, and c) the security and well-being of our European NATO allies. If those were the top priorities (instead of weakening Russia as is currently the case), then peace would have been accomplished many months ago. Here’s what peace would look like and how it would be put into effect.

To be upfront and coldly honest from the outset, what follows is based on the realities at play, the balance of power between the various actors, and what is genuinely possible. It is not based on Western preferences (which are a Ukrainian victory, a Russian defeat, and Ukraine in NATO – all of which fall into the category of militarily and politically unattainable). One last admission: what follows is the equivalent of taking bitter medicine: no one is going to like taking it, but it is necessary to preserve life.

To achieve a sustainable peace, the West’s leaders should privately tell Zelensky that open-ended military, political, and financial support from the West will end by a given time and he must therefore make the best deal he can with Putin to end the war, putting an end the destruction of his cities and preventing any more Ukrainian citizens from suffering unnecessary deaths.

Japan Wades into Foreign Defense Assistance

Mark Soo

On April 5, 2023, the Japanese government announced that it has established the Official Security Assistance (OSA) framework to provide assistance for militaries and other related organizations of friendly (developing) countries, an initiative that is partially based on Tokyo’s experience in providing Official Development Assistance (ODA). The new framework is taken from the National Security Strategy (NSS) paper released on December 16, 2022, which states that OSA will improve “defense capabilities as well as enhance the security and deterrence capabilities of like-minded countries in order to prevent unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, ensure the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region in particular, and create a security environment desirable for Japan”. The paper also states that Japan will provide the necessary military-based materials and equipment to strengthen the country’s various security requirements. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno stated that countries to be considered for OSA assistance include Bangladesh, Fiji, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

However, Japan will have a long road in implementing OSA effectively, as both Japan and the OSA recipients will need to abide by the rules of the Three Principles on Defense Equipment Transfers. Japan will also face stiff competition from other countries that have provided similar military aid packages to various Indo-Pacific countries.

Under the Three Principles on Defense Equipment Transfers, military hardware will be provided for areas not related to international conflict. This means that Japan will expect OSA recipients to follow through with the conditions of using them in activities related to ensure peace and stability. This also includes not sending any material to countries that are under arms sanctions under the United Nations (UN) or certain states. Examples of these stability activities include counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, search and rescue (SAR) and peacekeeping operations. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) also said that policies being put into place to ensure OSA packages are implemented properly include transparency on what type of aid Japan will provide and strict guidelines on not transferring any military hardware to third parties and the prevention of extra-purpose use.

Why SpaceX's Starship Explosion Is No Big Deal


To hear the folks in charge tell it, you’d think that SpaceX’s Starship rocket—the biggest, grandest, most powerful rocket ever built—didn’t blow up over the Gulf of Mexico this morning, just four minutes into its maiden flight and barely 39 km (24 mi.) above ground on what was supposed to be an around-the-world orbital journey.

For one thing the company didn’t call the incident an explosion. Starship instead experienced a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” SpaceX tweeted.

For another thing, the apparent failure was met less with hung heads than high fives. “Congrats to @SpaceX on Starship’s first integrated flight test!” tweeted NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Every great achievement throughout history has demanded some level of calculated risk, because with great risk comes great reward. Looking forward to all that SpaceX learns, to the next flight test—and beyond.”

SpaceX founder and boss Elon Musk was no less sanguine. “Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship!” he tweeted. “Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months.”

Again, just for the record, the 40-story rocket—whose upper stage is intended to serve as the lunar landing vehicle on NASA’s crewed Artemis 3 mission in the late 2020s—blew up rather than going to space. There is no prettifying that unhappy fact. But there is no arguing with one other fact too: Blowing up or crashing is what rockets do—lots of times, over and over, throughout the history of uncrewed space flight. And this inevitable part of the testing process is essential to success in space.

On Feb. 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, launching aboard an Atlas rocket that had previously exploded in roughly 50% of its uncrewed test flights. On March 23, 1965, Gus Grissom and John Young strapped themselves into their Gemini 3 spacecraft, becoming the first astronauts to fly atop a Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile that had failed in more than a dozen of the test launches intended to qualify it to carry humans. On Dec. 21, 1968, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, the Apollo 8 crew, became the first astronauts to fly the Saturn 5 moon rocket, one flight after an uncrewed Saturn 5 suffered engine failures and vibrations violent enough to nearly cause it to shake itself to pieces. But Borman, Lovell, and Anders flew anyway, becoming the first human beings to orbit the moon and returning safe and whole to Earth.

Space travel, as has been said again and again and again, is hard. And SpaceX knows that as well as anyone, following a build fast, fly fast, fail fast, and fly again R&D model that has today made it one of the world’s leading launch providers; its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket has successfully flown 217 times since 2010, including 61 launches in 2022 alone.

Ursula von der Leyen Might Be Too Pro-American for Europe

Anchal Vohra

Last month, a few weeks after returning from Washington and a few days before leaving for Beijing, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tried setting a new tone for Europe’s China policy. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), she said in a speech on March 30, was pursuing a “systemic change of the international order” with China at its center and moving into a “new era of security and control,” alluding to how Beijing was emerging as a parallel power center in opposition to the U.S.-led Western dominance of global politics.

Ukraine’s Spring Offensive Is Waiting on Weapons

Jack Detsch

The snow is melting in eastern Ukraine, and for a brief moment in a year of full-scale war with Russia, things have felt oddly normal. Over the weekend, Ukrainians painted Easter eggs, baked sweet bread, and dressed up in traditional embroidered vyshyvanka shirts.

Ukraine and Russia Need a Great-Power Peace Plan

Stephen M. Walt

If those leaked documents from the Pentagon are to be believed—and I think they are—the United States needs a Plan B for Ukraine. As much as we’d all like to see the swift liberation of Ukrainian territory, the under-equipped, under-trained Ukrainian forces now gearing up for a spring offensive are unlikely to make far-reaching gains against Russia’s defenses. The administration’s bold promises of an eventual Ukrainian triumph will probably not be borne out, and Ukraine will suffer additional damage in the meantime. What Ukraine needs is peace, not a protracted war of attrition against a more populous adversary whose leader does not much care about how many lives are sacrificed in the maelstrom.

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.

Terminators in Khartoum


Mat Nashed is a journalist and political analyst specializing in the Middle East and North Africa, with a focus on Sudan. He has been closely following events in Sudan since a popular uprising erupted against long-time autocratic president Omar al-Bashir in December 2018. His work has appeared at Al-Jazeera English, Newlines Magazine, the New Humanitarian, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, and other outlets. Diwan interviewed him in mid-April to discuss the outbreak of violence in Sudan between the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces.

Michael Young: What was behind the outbreak of the fighting in Sudan?

Mat Nashed: In my view, it was the result of failed international mediation from the United Nations mission, the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. The West was pushing for any deal to end the impasse that followed the military coup of October 25, 2021. After cutting development aid and pausing billions of dollars in debt relief in response to the power grab, the West needed a pretext to resume both, indicating that they were most concerned with stability through the lens of economy when it came to Sudan.

This eventually led to the signing of an ad-hoc agreement known as the Framework Agreement on December 5, 2022. The agreement ostensibly aimed to address, in just a few days or weeks, very contentious topics such as security sector reform. The rushed process proved the West was not ready to make a concerted international effort to address major issues in Sudan before a deal was signed. There was not enough investment in terms of time and political capital. That was clear when the parties held only one session, on March 29, about security sector reform, before the expected signing of the deal on April 1. The deal would have stitched together a new civilian administration in name—with the junta in de facto control of the state—before holding new elections. But the session on March 29 didn’t go well and ended quickly, so the signing of a new agreement was postponed to a later date in April.

In short, the success of the political process effectively depended on the two forces that organized the coup—the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). But outside parties wanted to hash out the most sensitive issue in Sudan, between the most militarized actors, in one of the most militarized regions in the Horn of Africa in a tight timeframe. It was unrealistic and heightened tensions because neither the military nor the RSF saw eye to eye on security sector reform.

European air traffic control says attack by ‘pro-Russian hackers’ not affecting flights

Julia Horowitz and Catherine Nicholls

A Ryanair airplane in seen on the runway at Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas Airport passing by the air traffic control tower.

Europe’s air traffic control authority says it has been battling an ongoing attack, claimed by pro-Russian hackers, since Wednesday.

There hasn’t been any impact on flights, though access to its website has been affected, according to the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, or Eurocontrol.

“The attack is causing interruptions to the website and web availability,” a Eurocontrol spokesperson said in a statement. “There has been no impact on European aviation.”

The International Air Transport Association also said air traffic was operating normally.

“There has been no inconvenience to commercial air traffic, no disruption and no delays because of the cyberattack,” the industry group said.

Eurocontrol is an inter-governmental organization that helps manage Europe’s airspace and ensure the smooth operation of tens of thousands of flights every day by sharing information between commercial and military actors.

The group has 41 member states, including countries outside the European Union such as the United Kingdom and Israel, and is headquartered in Brussels.
Cyber warfare

ChatGPT Unbound

Jim Baker 

The sudden prominence of several new generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools—such as the large language models (LLMs) ChatGPT, GPT-4, and Bard—has brought a cascade of stories about the broad capabilities of such tools and the impact they might have on the world. The term “generative” is usually intended to mean that the tool can produce new content (text, video, audio, etc.) that is derived from having been exposed to other sources. Some commentators have highlighted what such AI tools could do in fields as varied as education, media, and software engineering. Others have focused on the dark side of the technology and the efforts of some early users to prompt the tools to produce a variety of negative outputs. Some have described those tools as one of humankind’s most significant inventions, describing such AI as a new Prometheus.

Given the potential power of such tools, it seems sensible to place safety restrictions on them to minimize any real-world harm that might come from their use. But what if we flipped all of that on its head? What if it is in the best interests of society for ChatGPT-4, for example, to follow instructions or answer questions that are likely to produce harmful responses, in certain limited circumstances? In particular, what if those questions were posed by trusted law enforcement and national security authorities for the purpose of identifying, understanding, and mitigating important societal risks? What if ChatGPT-4 were not constrained by its rules and could answer any question those who are charged with protecting society could think of to ask?

What if ChatGPT-4 were unbound?