20 May 2023

Row over Russian energy sanctions gatecrashes EU-India summit


BRUSSELS — Talk at an EU-India summit on Tuesday was meant to be about tech and trade. But the first high-level meeting of its kind ended up being overshadowed by an apparent loophole in Western sanctions against Russia that allows countries like India to buy up cheap oil, refine it, and then ship it back to Europe for a hefty profit.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar denied criticism that his country was helping Moscow circumvent sanctions. Saying he did not "see the basis" for such allegations, New Delhi's top diplomat said EU rules mandate that "if Russian crude is substantially transformed, it’s not treated as Russian anymore."

In earlier comments to the Financial Times the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell broke ranks to say that Brussels should move to crack down on third countries refining Russian oil and selling the products on to the bloc. "If diesel or gasoline is entering Europe ... from India and being produced with Russian oil, that is certainly a circumvention of sanctions and member states will have to take measures," he said.

The row intruded on what was supposed to be an upbeat summit as Brussels hosted the first meeting of the newly created EU-India Trade and Tech Council, designed to foster cooperation between two of the world's largest democracies. It comes in a week of hectic summit diplomacy that will culminate in a G7 summit in Japan where Russia sanctions will top the agenda.

Indian Trade Minister Piyush Goyal said the EU-India relationship has the potential to be the "defining partnership of the 21st century." The EU is meanwhile keen to build closer ties with India in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has also moved to resume negotiations with India on a stalled free trade deal.

However, data from shipping platform Kpler, seen by POLITICO, shows that the South Asian nation has become one of the biggest winners from energy sanctions imposed by the West on Russia in the wake of the war in Ukraine. No longer competing for supplies with Europe and other major economies, India has saved around $89 per ton of crude, an analysis from one state-controlled bank reports.

As a result, since the start of Moscow's full-scale invasion, Indian imports of Russian crude oil have shot up from around 1 million barrels a month to more than 63 million barrels in April alone.

Biden Cowed by China's Aggression

Gordon G. Chang

[Hostile elements in senior Chinese Communist Party circles], thanks to the State Department, now have additional incentives to engage in belligerent conduct, and, in light of Washington's craven behavior, every nation that looks to America for security has to be extremely concerned.

[Rick Waters, deputy assistant secretary of state for China and Taiwan] informed subordinates that Secretary of State Antony Blinken... had delayed already-planned actions [in response to China's spy balloon] to avoid increasing tensions with Beijing.

Those planned actions included export-control licensing rules for Huawei Technologies and sanctions on China's officials for repression of Uyghurs. Reuters reported that these China measures "have yet to be revived."

Why did the Biden administration delay taking action? It is still devoted to policies that have failed for three decades. "The recent revelation that senior State Department officials purposefully directed the postponement of actions against China following the discovery, and eventual shootdown, of a probable PLA reconnaissance balloon reflects a return to the ideology of engagement at all costs," James Fanell of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy told Gatestone.

In short, China has successfully intimidated the American government.

Defenders of the State Department's postponement of the Huawei and Uyghur measures have suggested that Washington will gain support among fence-sitting countries by showing that the United States was doing all it could to accommodate Beijing, ultimately making China appear the recalcitrant party.

Such an argument might have made sense three decades ago, but certainly not at this late date. If countries by now do not perceive the danger posed by China, they never will. The way to obtain that consensus is Reagan-style American leadership — and American coercive diplomacy. Both, at the moment, are in short supply.

China Winning New Central Asia Foothold, Edging U.S. Out of Russian Bastion


In a landmark summit that overlaps with U.S. President Joe Biden's travel to the Group of Seven (G7) meeting in Japan this weekend, China is stepping up its position in Central Asia, showcasing a campaign to boost economic, political and security relations in a region long within the sphere of Russian influence.

The two-day gathering, set to begin Thursday in the Chinese city of Xi'an, will bring together President Xi Jinping with his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It will mark the Chinese leader's latest high-profile engagement at a time when Beijing and Washington are grappling for global clout.

Coming just a week after the heads of state of all five Central Asian nations traveled to Moscow to attend Victory Day celebrations marking the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II despite regional reservations over Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine, the first-ever China-Central Asia Summit demonstrates a "regional unity and regional consensus that is shown towards Russia and China," according to Niva Yau, nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council's Global China Hub.

"I think the Central Asian countries have made up their mind with regards to the fact that the fate of the region is in the hands of Russia and China," Yau told Newsweek.

For China, in particular, she argued, "it's a very good opportunity to come in and further strengthen its various dominance in the region, in terms of economy, in terms of security and social things, and so on and so forth."

"And, of course," she added, "for China, the biggest goal that it has in Central Asia is to have the region strengthen its legitimacy over Xinjiang, the region that feeds the Chinese economy in terms of energy and raw material."

Xinjiang, whose eight international borders include three Central Asian countries, is also at the center of Washington's accusations against Beijing of committing "genocide" against China's largely Muslim community of Uyghurs in the form of mass detentions. The People's Republic vehemently denies the allegation, arguing that it is a security issue rooted in a Uyghur militancy with the potential for resurgence in the wake of the U.S. military withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan.

Juan Cole, China Hangs Washington Out to Dry in the Middle East

In some sense, the most recent events in the Middle East, described vividly today by TomDispatch regular Juan Cole, creator of the must-read Informed Comment website, should be seen as yet more fallout from Washington’s version of the Ukraine war. I’m thinking, of course, about how, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush and crew decided to invade a country that had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden or his al-Qaeda associates and presented no danger whatsoever to the U.S. Who could forget Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld telling an aide in the ruins of the just attacked Pentagon on September 11, 2001: “Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

That “and not” was most distinctly Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. From there, of course, it just went downhill. If there’s a difference, in criminal terms, between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the American invasion of Iraq, it might only be that Ukraine was, at least, a neighboring country. Iraq was a truly distant land. Today, 20 years later, there are still thousands of American troops in Iraq and neighboring Syria, while victory in what came to be known as “the global war on terror” was never in sight.

In fact, from George W. Bush to Donald Trump — who, I suspect, would never have been elected president without this country’s disastrous twenty-first-century wars — to the aged Joe Biden, ours has long been a tale of self-imposed imperial decline and, in a country that still “invests” more money in its military than the next 11 countries combined, it has yet to end by any means. Meanwhile, in that region where so much of the disaster began, Iran is evidently coming ever closer to having the know-how necessary to produce nuclear weapons and China is now the rising power. But let Juan Cole explain how the once-upon-a-time “American century” is now playing out in the Middle East. Tom

China and the Axis of the Sanctioned

How America's Divide-and-Rule Strategy in the Middle East Backfired

Ukraine's military may not be able to retake Crimea, but it can make life hell for Russians there, experts say

Michael Peck

Ukraine is gearing up for what's expected to be a counteroffensive against Russian forces.

There's debate inside and outside of Ukraine about whether and how Kyiv can recapture Crimea.

Rather than a costly ground offensive to liberate Crimea from Russian control, there may be an easier way: Use unmanned boats to attack Russian forces and blockade the peninsula, argue two American experts.

Ukraine does not "need to drive occupying forces out of Crimea to render it less hospitable to Russia's purposes," William Courtney and Scott Savitz, two researchers at the RAND Corporation think tank, wrote in an essay published by The Moscow Times in April.

Defending the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia invaded and annexed in 2014, has historically presented a quandary. A land invasion from the northwest — the direct route — must cross the narrow and easily defended Perekop isthmus between the peninsula and the mainland.

On the other hand, a hostile army can just as easily block communications between Crimea and the mainland. This would force Russia to supply the peninsula either by sea or by road and rail using the 11-mile Kerch Strait bridge on the eastern side of the peninsula, which connects Crimea with the Taman peninsula in southern Russia.
Smoke billows from a fire on the Kerch Strait bridge after an explosion on October 8. AFP via Getty Images

In October, a Ukrainian truck bomb badly damaged the bridge, which Ukrainian officials recently said they would target as part of the counteroffensive.

The result is that Russia's ability to supply and reinforce its military in Crimea — or retreat, if need be — by land depends on two precarious chokepoints.

Don’t Count China Out as a Peacemaker in Ukraine

Minxin Pei

President Xi Jinping’s decision to dispatch special envoy Li Hui to Europe this week marks a subtle but important evolution in China’s position on the war in Ukraine. Li, China’s former ambassador to Russia, is for now unlikely to do much more than gather and report back to Xi the views of his interlocutors in Ukraine, Russia, Poland, France, and Germany. Instead of downplaying the trip as a PR stunt, though, the US and its allies should seek to exploit it.

Optically at least, Li’s visit is yet further confirmation that Xi is hoping to extricate himself from a no-win situation. The Chinese leader made his first move in late April by calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. This was followed by a previously unannounced meeting between Xi’s top foreign policy adviser, Wang Yi, and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan last week in Vienna. Notably, the war in Ukraine dominated their agend

Secret Chinese Port Project in Persian Gulf Rattles U.S. Relations With U.A.E.

Gordon Lubold and Warren P. Strobel

WASHINGTON—U.S. intelligence agencies learned this spring that China was secretly building what they suspected was a military facility at a port in the United Arab Emirates, one of the U.S.’s closest Mideast allies, according to people familiar with the matter.

Alarmed, the Biden administration warned the Emirati government that a Chinese military presence in its country could threaten ties between the two nations. After rounds of meetings and visits by U.S. officials, construction was recently halted, according to people familiar with the matter.

Chinese Security Engagement in Latin America

Evan Ellis

Military engagement is an important and officially acknowledged part of the growing interactions between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Latin America and the Caribbean. The 2008 and 2016 Chinese policy white papers toward Latin America, as well as the 2015 China Defense Strategy White Paper, all define military and other security activities as an important, if not necessarily leading, component of China’s overall engagement with the region.

PRC economic activities in Latin America arguably eclipse military activities, both in terms of the resources and people involved and in terms of the attention given through official government discourse and interaction. This economic focus, along with Chinese leaders’ general avoidance of threatening rhetoric or provocative military actions in Latin America, should not distract from the fact that security sector activities are an integral part of China’s multidimensional engagement in pursuit of its strategic objectives—both in the region and globally.

The PRC’s core objective—as expressed in its own leadership statements, such as President Xi’s “China Dream” speech, and in policy documents such as “Made in China 2025”—is arguably the creation of a prosperous and secure state. In economic terms, achieving this objective involves building a strong and diverse economy, complemented by a robust commercial relationship with the rest of the world. By achieving dominant positions, Chinese companies would capture significant portions of the value added in global supply chains, own strategic assets giving China predictable access to markets and factor inputs (on terms that give decision authority to Chinese managers), and channel benefits to Chinese companies and the Chinese people. The PRC is building this strategic position by fundamentally mercantilist means, focusing on controlling or dominating sufficient parts of agricultural production, extractive industries, and other sectors in the interdependent global economy to achieve both security of supply and market access. Since the movement of goods is an integral part of the global economy and the generation of value added, a critical element of the Chinese approach is the control of transportation hubs, routes, and supporting infrastructure. China’s Belt and Road initiative was first launched in 2013 and extended to Latin America in 2018. Consistent with its historic concept of the “Silk Road” and the treasure fleet of Admiral Zheng He, it reflects the contemporary mercantilist vision of building and restructuring global infrastructure—including transportation, electricity, telecommunications, and finance—to facilitate favorable flows of commerce and transfers of wealth from the global periphery to the Chinese center. As will be discussed later, the strategic imperative of protecting this expanding China-oriented infrastructure, and the associated operations of PRC-based companies and persons in Latin America and elsewhere, complements the more traditional mission of preparing for a conflict against the United States by creating imperatives for engagement by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Chinese state in Latin America.

China’s Digital Advance in Latin America


This work examines activities by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and its companies in digital technologies and associated economic sectors in Latin America, including telecommunications, surveillance, eCommerce, fintech, data centers, and smart cities. It finds that, despite obstacles arising from both resistance in the region and internal PRC politics, Chinese companies have made significant advances in these sectors, creating opportunities for them to leverage these positions to advance in other areas, while also giving them significant opportunities to collect intelligence on both government and commercial targets, putting at risk the ability of its governments to make sovereign decisions about the PRC and its companies, and to protect the intellectual property of the companies operating within its territory.[1]

Key Words: China, Latin America, eCommerce, digital, surveillance, telecommunications, Fintech, data centers


As the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has worked to re-orient Latin America and other parts of the world to its economic advantage, the region’s digital economy and associated technologies have emerged as a key focus of its efforts. These areas received significant focus in Made in China 2025[2] and the PRC’s 2015 “Digital Silk Road” initiative.[3] Two of the 8 pillars[4] in China’s “Global Development Initiative”[5] the digital economy, and connectivity,[6] are tied to them. The China-CELAC 2022-2024 plan explicitly prioritizes China’s engagement with the region in a broad range of digital sectors, including “digital infrastructure, telecommunications equipment, 5G, big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, smart cities, Internet+, universal telecommunication services,”[7] and “radio spectrum management.”[8]

Such digital technologies are particularly valuable for China’s advance both as the leading edge of current business innovation, while affording those who dominate them unparalleled leverage over the economic activities they support, and information about government and commercial processes and leaders using or otherwise touched by those networks. PRC dominance of digital technologies in Latin America and elsewhere thus provides the opportunity to know, compromise, and otherwise exploit the sovereign decision processes of those governments and competitors, in advancing Chinese interests.
The Structure of the Chinese Digital Opportunity and Challenge

Here’s How to Read Turkey’s Election Results—So Far

Steven A. Cook

Turkey’s presidential runoff election set for May 28 appears to favor longtime incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with little chance that he will ease up on his authoritarian ways.

Though Erdogan now faces a runoff, was the first round a success for him?

The two weeks heading into the runoff will be hard fought, but President Erdogan has all the advantage going into the second round after winning 49.5 percent of votes in Sunday's first round. That puts him more than 4 percentage points ahead of his main challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The third-place candidate, Sinan Ogan, who garnered about 5 percent of the vote in the first round, is a nationalist and has all but ruled out supporting Kilicdaroglu and the Nation Alliance because it receives support from the Kurdish party. If Ogan throws his support to Erdogan, it will be even more difficult for Kilicdaroglu to win.

Was the election process considered free and fair?

Most of the problems in this and recent Turkish elections have come before Turks went to the polls. For example, in December 2022, one of Erdogan’s primary rivals, Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, was banned from politics and sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly insulting the judges of the Supreme Election Council. This was clearly an effort to keep Imamoglu from challenging Erdogan. (The case is on appeal and Imamoglu is one of the opposition’s candidates for vice premier.) The Justice and Development Party (AKP)-controlled judiciary has also sought to shut down the Kurdish-based People’s Democratic Party and ban its rank-and-file politicians from politics for five years.

In addition to mobilizing the media (the vast majority of which is in AKP-friendly hands) to promote President Erdogan and the party, the government has used coercion to ensure that Erdogan’s narrative remains unchallenged. Just one day before Turks went to the polls, Turkish officials demanded that Twitter block tweets from certain accounts in Turkey or the service would be barred in the country. The offending accounts were presumably opponents of the president and ruling party who have significant followings.

Putting Russia’s Army in the Shadow of the Storm

Dr Jack Watling

Holding Russia’s logistics and command and control at risk is a key contributor to shaping the conditions for successful Ukrainian offensive operations.

The decision by the UK government to gift Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine provides a significant capability for disrupting Russian logistics and command and control, and will likely prove useful in support of forthcoming Ukrainian offensive operations. At more than £790,000 a munition, however, they will have to be expended carefully.

In June 2022, the Russian military was having the fight it wanted: having blinded Ukrainian forces in Donbas, Russian artillery was unleashing an overwhelming volume of fire. Ukraine found itself taking unsustainable levels of attrition. This situation was reversed when Ukraine’s partners provided GMLRS systems and means for finding Russian ammunition and command and control nodes, enabling Ukraine to cut the ammunition supply and coordination from Russia’s artillery.

Since that moment, the Russian military has adapted to the GMLRS threat. Its main logistics hubs now sit 120 km from the front, beyond GMLRS range. Its command and control has been relocated to hardened structures, or dug into bunkers at brigade and battalion level. These command posts have largely been connected via field cable to Ukraine’s civilian telecommunications system, rendering them difficult to detect, while GMLRS munitions lack the warhead to destroy them. Russian air defences, meanwhile, have also been reorganised and are now intercepting a non-trivial proportion of Ukrainian strikes in depth.

The result of the Russian reorganisation has been the shortening of the Reconnaissance Fire Circuit (the Russian term equivalent to kill chain) and the ability for Russian artillery to control fires in a much more dynamic manner than they had previously. This poses serious problems for Ukrainian offensive operations, since limited Ukrainian breaching capability means that assaults will have to be infantry-heavy, and their progress depends upon disrupting Russian artillery.

The risks of learning the wrong lessons in Ukraine


As seen from an aerial view, a destroyed Russian T-80 tank, its turret blown upside down, sits on a former frontline on February 27, 2023 in Bogorodychne, in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The war in Ukraine is giving US strategists and war planners an unprecedented look at modern conventional combat. But in the op-ed below, analyst Joshua Huminski said there’s a risk in relying too much on what’s happening in Eastern Europe, when a fight halfway around the world would be very different.

The militaries of the United States and its European partners are rightly watching the war in Ukraine and seeking to divine lessons from Kyiv’s tactical and operational activities. The hope is that in closely observing both Ukraine’s successes and failures, Western militaries will learn, adapt, and find themselves better prepared for future conflicts. This observation and ingesting of lessons learned is part and parcel of adaptation and innovation.

Yet, especially for the US, there are two attendant risks in slavish observation and the “lessons learned” processes, both of which are intimately tied to the most pressing geopolitical, military, and security challenge of the 21st century—China.

First, there is the risk of learning the wrong lessons and ignoring critical context of the right ones. Operational lessons drawn from Ukraine’s successes are not wholly applicable to a conflict in the Indo-Pacific over Taiwan. Second, and equally as important, the US is not the only military watching what is happening in Ukraine. China, too, is observing the successes and failures of Moscow, Kyiv and Western supporters of Ukraine – meaning any revelations the US would hope to turn to its advantage in the Pacific could run headlong into countermeasures by a prepared and learning People’s Liberation Army.

Regulate AI to Boost Trustworthiness and Avoid Catastrophe, Experts Tell Lawmakers


AI’s greatest promise and biggest danger are the same for the civilian world as it is for the military: the potential to reveal or obscure truth. That power could be the difference between fair and unfair elections, or life or death in battle.

On Tuesday, key innovators in AI appeared before lawmakers to discuss how new tools are delivering value to investors and makers—even as they are used to sow confusion and deceive people.

On the one hand, new artificial intelligence tools are proving useful not just for writing essays but for a sort of prescience. A group of Harvard and MIT researchers recently demonstrated that generative AI models can predict, more accurately than polls, how people will vote based on the media that they consume. Clearspeed, whose products are used by the U.S. military, insurance companies, and other customers, offers an AI tool that uses sentiment analysis to tell whether an interviewee is responding truthfully to yes-or-no questions. Steve Wisotzki, a former Navy SEAL who manages government relations for the company, told Defense One the tech was pioneered to help U.S. and Afghan forces detect insider threats. Lots of new data has helped the company refine the model, Wisotzki said, to the point where it can pinpoint the “risk” that an interview subject is lying with more than 97 percent accuracy, based on fewer than ten questions.

But the use of AI to obscure truth, rather than reveal it, is also growing. In testimony to lawmakers, Gary Marcus, a neuroscientist, author, and entrepreneur, described potential threats posed by the simple tools already available. “They can and will create persuasive lies at a scale humanity has never seen before. Outsiders will use them to affect our elections, insiders to manipulate our markets and our political systems. Democracy itself is threatened. Chatbots will also clandestinely shape our opinions, potentially exceeding what social media can do. Choices about datasets that AI companies use will have enormous unseen influence; those who choose the data will make the rules shaping society in subtle but powerful ways.”

Sam Altman, who founded OpenAI, maker of the popular new tool ChatGPT, told lawmakers that “My worst fears are that we…the technology industry cause significant harm to the world…It's why we started the company. It's a big part of why I'm here today.”

National security experts: War in Ukraine is an ‘unmitigated disaster’

Blaise Malley

An open letter calling for a swift diplomatic end to the war in Ukraine was published on Tuesday in the New York Times. The letter’s 14 signatories consisted mostly of former U.S. military officers and other national security officials, including Jack Matlock, Washington’s former ambassador to the Soviet Union; Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel and former diplomat; Matthew Hoh, a former Marine Corps officer and State Department official; and Ret. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff.

Many are longtime critics of U.S. foreign policy and post-9/11 war policies.

The letter calls the war an “unmitigated disaster” and cautions that “future devastation could be exponentially greater as nuclear powers creep ever closer toward open war.”

While condemning Vladimir Putin’s “criminal invasion and occupation,” the letter, which notes the serial invasions of Russia by foreign adversaries, encourages readers to understand the war “through Russia’s eyes.”

“In diplomacy, one must attempt to see with strategic empathy, seeking to understand one’s adversaries,” according to the letter. “This is not weakness: it is wisdom.”

“Since 2007, Russia has repeatedly warned that NATO’s armed forces on Russian borders were intolerable – just as Russian forces in Mexico or Canada would be intolerable to the U.S. now, or as Soviet missiles in Cuba were in 1962,” the letter reads. “Russia further singled out NATO expansion into Ukraine as especially provocative.”

The missive, which appeared on page 5 of the Times’ print edition, lays out the history of warnings by key U.S. national security officials, politicians, and others about the dangers of NATO expansion in the late 1990s, and again in 2008 when then-U.S. Ambassador to Russia and current CIA director William Burns cautioned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice against pushing for NATO membership for Ukraine.

Accompanying the text is a timeline of the deterioration in relations between Moscow and the West that begins in 1990, when Secretary of State James Baker assured Russia that NATO would not expand eastwards, until Russia’s invasion in February of last year.

The Dangers Of Overhyping Ukraine’s Counteroffensive

Maksym Skrypchenko

The Western media’s incessant discussions about Ukraine’s counteroffensive are not only counterproductive, but they also risk creating dangerous illusions.

By continually focusing on the supposed inevitability of a successful counteroffensive, the media is fostering the belief that Ukraine has already been supplied with everything it needs to accomplish the task of driving back the invading Russians. This framing is misleading and ultimately harmful, as it overlooks the challenges and limitations faced by Ukraine’s armed forces.
What Ukraine Lacks

First, it is important to recognize that Ukraine does not possess air superiority. While the country has requested F-16 aircraft to support ground operations and protect its cities from Moscow’s aerial assaults, these requests have gone unfulfilled. Without the proper long-range weapons and aircraft, Ukraine’s offensive operations have been delayed as Kyiv scrambles to gather tanks from Europe and to procure artillery shells.

Second, the Russians, cognizant of Ukraine’s plans, have relocated their command centers beyond the effective range of HIMARS rocket launchers. Offensive operations typically begin with the disruption of an enemy’s logistics and command centers, so this move severely hampers Ukraine’s ability to strike effectively. Furthermore, Russia has been increasingly successful in styming HIMARS missiles by employing electronic jammers to cause rockets to miss their targets.

Third, delays in the delivery of promised military equipment have further hindered Ukraine’s efforts to begin a counteroffensive. For example, the United States has pledged to supply Ukraine with 31 M1-A1 Abrams tanks, but these will not arrive until the fall of 2023 — significantly later than the timeframe anticipated for a counteroffensive.

How the Russia-Ukraine War Has Changed Europe


Germany’s announcement on Saturday that it will send Ukraine another $2.9 billion worth of weapons—as much as it has previously sent in the 15 months since Russia’s invasion—is being hailed as the clearest sign yet of Berlin’s all-in support for Kyiv’s war effort.

Over the same weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky flew to Italy, France, and Britain, as well as Germany, where more arms and unflagging support were pledged from all parties. Even Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni—who ran for office last fall as a populist friendly to Russian President Vladimir Putin—declared, “We bet on the victory of Ukraine.”

The events, combined, bolster the impression that we are witnessing a significant shift happening in Europe. The old, post–Cold War Europe was marked by a casual attitude toward national defense and accommodation with Moscow (on the theory that open trade promotes peace). The new Europe—a phrase that popped up just days after the invasion, along with a Europe “profoundly transformed”—is boosting defense spending, severing ties with Russia, and forging tighter bonds of unity than the European Union or the NATO military alliance have ever felt.

But how deeply woven, how real, are the strands of this New Europe, not just in words but in deeds, and not just for the moment but for months and years to come? And to what extent is Germany—the continent’s largest, wealthiest nation and its most bountiful arms supplier to Ukraine—stepping up to what might seem to be a logical role as its leader? The answers to both questions have huge implications for the shape and unity of Europe; its relations with the rest of the world; and, most urgently, its success in helping Ukraine beat back Putin’s aggression.

I spent a month this spring as writer-in-residence at the American Academy in Berlin, trying to get a grip on these questions by talking (mainly on background) with foreign policy leaders in the Bundestag (Germany’s parliament), national-security advisers, think-tank specialists, and political journalists.

Africa faces a mounting debt crisis

A year ago Ghana’s finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, eschewed talk that his country would need a bail-out from the imf. Ghana had at that point been in and out of 16 Fund programmes since attaining independence in 1957. “We have forgotten how difficult and tenacious that master from Washington was,” he said.

Yet now Ghana is about to enter a $3bn programme. The imf’s board is expected to approve it on May 17th, based on assurances from Ghana’s bilateral creditors, including China, that they will restructure its debt. Ghana expects a first tranche of $600m immediately, though further infusions will probably require progress on cutting its debt burden. Zambia, which like Ghana is in default on its sovereign loans, has struggled to agree detailed terms for restructuring its debt. But it hopes to achieve a deal next month.

Nothing short of NATO membership will deter the future resumption of Russia's war on Ukraine. Francis Fukuyama's latest.

Francis Fukuyama

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As the Ukrainian counteroffensive to retake its territory from Russia gets underway, there has been a great deal of uncertainty regarding scenarios for how the war might end. There is general consensus within the NATO alliance that peace talks and a ceasefire under present circumstances will be very bad for Ukraine, leaving Russia in control of the Donbas, Crimea, and the country’s southern coast. The deeper problem is that as long as Vladimir Putin remains in power, any “settlement” under such terms will simply provide Russia with breathing space to rearm and re-equip its forces in anticipation of a later resumption of the war. It will not bring peace but a brief respite highly beneficial to Russia.

This means that any durable settlement will need to include much stronger security guarantees for Ukraine. Mere verbal commitments from Western powers will not be sufficient. They made such commitments in the Budapest Memorandum in 1994 whereby Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange promises to respect the country’s territorial integrity. These commitments were honored neither by the Russians nor by Ukraine’s Western backers. Today, nothing short of membership in NATO with its Article Five guarantee would be sufficient to deter a future Russian resumption of the current war.

Neither Russia nor the NATO allies are ready to accept Ukrainian membership at the present moment, while the largest war in Europe since 1945 is still raging on its territory. But there are conditions under which such an outcome might become possible by the end of 2023.

NATO membership will become a real possibility if the Ukrainian counter-offensive successfully reclaims a critical piece of territory. This is not the Donbas bordering Russia in the East, but the two southern oblasts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia bordering the Black Sea coast. This region is critical to Ukraine’s bargaining position for three reasons.

Russia’s Military Has Improved — The West Should Take Note

Chels Michta

The world has learned more about Russia’s armed forces in the last 15 months than in the previous 20 years. Now it needs to understand that Russia is adapting.

The army that Russia took into Ukraine in February 2022 was clearly not fit for purpose, even if neither Moscow nor Washington recognized it at the time. The limits of the Kremlin’s force of arms were laid bare.

The invasion exposed Russia’s boast that it had the second-strongest military in the world, and the initial phase of the war saw massive failures across the chain of command, including dysfunctional logistics and repeated evidence of poor training and equipment. A planned blitzkrieg-like seizure of Kyiv dissolved into a hard-fought battle in which the Russians failed to seize the critical Hostomel airport and were subsequently routed despite a seemingly decisive numerical advantage.

The early phase of the invasion saw the rapid unraveling of the myth that the Russian army was modern and capable of matching Western standards. Other assumptions about its operational planning and tactics also melted in the heat of battle. Having failed in the early stages of the war, its commanders reverted to a traditional Soviet-era approach to warfare, using massive artillery bombardment coupled with the wanton expenditure of soldiers’ lives in mass wave attacks.

Notwithstanding its much-touted modernization, the incompetence and corruption of the Russian military leadership, poor weapons maintenance and logistical blunders revealed that Moscow’s armed forces had not changed much since the Soviet era, especially its land forces.

The much-vaunted Serdyukov reforms, named after Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, saw a major structural reorganization of Russian forces which began in 2009. They built on the Soviet-era experience in Afghanistan and used battalion tactical groups (BTGs) of approximately 800 troops, which were deployed as combined-arms maneuver units and reportedly kept at high readiness. Serdyukov wanted to fold BTGs into standing brigades while also reducing the size of the army, shrinking the command structure, standing up a professional NCO corps, and improving readiness.  

Yes, Russia Is Using Ancient Tanks in Combat in Ukraine. But Not as Tanks.


In late March, photos of tank-laden trains unearthed on Russian social media strongly suggested that Russia had finally begun reactivating some of its thousands of old T-54B tanks in deep storage for use in combat in Ukraine, due to massive losses of more modern T-72, T-80 and T-90 main battle tanks.

The T-54 entered production in the late 1940s, and has a crew of four—unlike Russia’s modern three-person tanks.

Photos in April showed the tanks had indeed arrived in Ukraine, without much in the way of visible upgrades such as add-on bricks of explosive reactive armor.

Now, according to social media posts by Andrei Tarasenko, proprietor of tank-themed Russian-language website btvt.info, sources in the Russian military say that T-54s are indeed being deployed into combat—supposedly used not so much as tanks, but as armored artillery vehicles firing indirect shells at distant targets.

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The post states a company of T-54Bs and T-55s (ordinarily 10 or 13 tanks in the Russian military) was transferred to an artillery regiment active in southern Ukraine. Despite a T-54 ordinarily requiring a crew of four (commander, driver, gunner, loader), the post claims these T-54s were operated by crews of three, presumably due to the limited need to simultaneously move and shoot. Reportedly, the crews were drawn from both the artillery and tank branches—instead of just the latter—and received just one week of training. Elsewhere, he posts that there already exist artillery firing tables for the T-54/55 and their 100-millimeter guns.

Ukraine's Counteroffensive Window 'Shrinking'—NATO Member


Czech President Petr Pavel has warned that Ukraine's window for major offensive operations against occupying Russian troops will again close in the autumn, and urged fellow NATO nations to provide Ukraine with "all necessary equipment and ammunition" before spring turns to summer.

Speaking at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit in the Danish capital on Monday, Pavel—who previously served as the chairman of the NATO Military Committee and as the chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces—said allies must not wait to send potent weapons to Ukraine.

"Ukraine has a chance to launch a significant counterattack this summer, and the window is shrinking now," the Czech president said in Copenhagen. "The later the contributions come, the less useful they will be, because in the fall there will again be a stop to large military operations because of weather conditions and ground conditions."

"To use properly the time window that is available, we should have provided Ukraine with all necessary equipment and ammunition in the springtime, at the latest," Pavel added.

Kyiv has been preparing—and teasing—its next counteroffensive for several months. Western heavy armor, other vehicles, long-range missiles, drones, and huge amounts of ammunition have been arriving to support Kyiv's troops, thousands of whom have been undergoing training at NATO bases spread across alliance nations.

So-called "shaping operations"—operations that create a beneficial environment for the offensive's eventual push—appear to already be underway, with Ukrainian deep strikes targeting Russian logistics and command hubs in a bid to erode Moscow's capabilities.

Forget jets – Ukraine needs tanks, artillery and drones for its counter-offensive against Russia, experts say

David Parsley

President Volodymyr Zelensky
does not require fighter jets to mount a
successful counter-offensive in south-east Ukraine this summer as long as he does not attempt to wrest back control of Russian-occupied Crimea, security and military experts have told i.

As the long-awaited offensive draws closer, experts are agreed that Kyiv has until the beginning of November to break Russian forces in the Donbas region before another winter sets in.

Former British Army general Lord Dannatt, who was chief of the general staff until 2009, told i that jets were not the key to Ukraine’s counter-offensive.

“It’s about tanks, artillery and drones,” he said. “The jets will come later.”

In the past week the UK has confirmed it is providing Ukraine with anti-aircraft defence systems armed with hundreds of missiles, long range drone bombs, as well as long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles.

During President Zelensky’s visit to Chequers on Monday, Rishi Sunak also committed the UK to training Ukrainian pilots, but there remains no sign that Kyiv is going to receive the US F-16 fighter jets that it has requested since the outset of the war in the near future.

One defence source told i that the UK had completed its latest round of military support for Ukraine and Mr Sunak would be urging other allies to bolster Ukrainian supplies in the coming days.

US Army preps for fresh mobile communications experiment

Colin Demarest

FORT MYER, Va. — The U.S. Army is planning a second experiment where the latest networking technologies will be tested for potential outfitting aboard armored vehicles.

The assessment, known formally as the Armored Formation Network On-The-Move Pilot, is scheduled for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2024, and will likely happen at Fort Bliss, Texas, according to John Gillette, the product manager for mission network at the Army’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T.

Armored formations now lack the connectivity Army leaders want, and network modernization is among the service’s top priorities as it prepares for potential large-scale conflicts with China in the Indo-Pacific or Russia in Europe.

Armor often can’t afford to stop — or stop for too long, lest be targeted — and runs the risk of digitally disconnecting as it thunders across the landscape. The heavy-duty machinery also presents unique challenges to designers, integrators and crew: Tight quarters make every inch precious, power consumption needs to be balanced, and constant rumbles and vibration require rugged hardware.

The upcoming on-the-move pilot will ultimately help “outfit the armored units” as well as inform the next wave of development, Gillette said at an event this month at Fort Myer, Virginia. Future equipment, he added, will be “a lot simpler and a lot more resilient, and then also lighter on the vehicle.” PEO C3T is moving away from what were known as capability sets, batches of upgraded equipment rolled out every other year, to what is now recognized as the “division as a unit of action network design,” meant to address the Army’s 2030 and 2040 goals.

As the U.S. Army prepares for potential conflicts in the Indo-Pacific or Europe, it is placing increasing emphasis on the division, some 15,000 soldiers.

Conversations on National Security: An Interview with General Kevin Chilton (USAF, Ret.), No. 554, May 15, 2023

An Interview with General Kevin Chilton (USAF, Ret.), former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command

Gen. Chilton addresses the Biden Administration’s nuclear policies, the threats posed by China and Russia, and the importance of having a credible nuclear deterrent in a dynamic international strategic environment. This interview was conducted by David J. Trachtenberg, Vice President of the National Institute for Public Policy.

Q. The Biden Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) did not adopt many of the policies advocated by supporters of nuclear disarmament, including eliminating the land-based ICBM leg of the U.S. strategic Triad and adopting a “No First Use” policy. How do you assess the NPR?

The strengths of this NPR lie mostly in what it was silent on, to include declarations of “no first use” and “sole purpose” policies (which would have been detrimental if not destructive to U.S. non-proliferation efforts), and any backing away from the recapitalization of all three legs of the nuclear triad (which would have weakened strategic stability). On the proactive side, the NPR supports continued investments in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) efforts to reconstitute the ability of the United States to produce nuclear weapons as opposed to merely sustaining the current stockpile, which will of course eventually age out and become useless. On the other hand its shortcoming include: 1) the failure to commit to a plutonium pit production rate and weapons production infrastructure writ large that will hedge against what has now become a certain, as opposed to an “uncertain” future, given the rapid buildup of China’s arsenal, and one that will do more than just sustain the current U.S. deployed stockpile; 2) the failure to support a new nuclear armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile (again critical to non-proliferation as well as to deterring Chinese aggression in the Western Pacific); and 3) the failure to articulate a strategy that counters the imbalance in theater weapons vis-à-vis the Russian stockpile. All are critical shortcomings in the document.

Q. On balance, does it properly reflect the current international strategic environment and are its recommendations for U.S. policy appropriate to the threats we face?

In short, no to both.

Ukraine knocks down swarm of Russian hypersonic missiles attacking Kyiv

Michael McKennaJoseph CurlJed Babbin

Ukraine’s air defenses knocked out a wave of Russian missiles early Tuesday, including at least six hypersonic Kinzhal missiles aimed at Kyiv that Moscow claimed were invulnerable, military officials said.

In addition to the Kinzhal missiles launched from MiG-31 jet fighters, Russia fired nine Kalibr cruise missiles from ships in the Black Sea and at least three land-based Iskander missiles, Col. Gen. Mykola Oleschuk, Ukraine’s air force commander, said on his Telegram social messaging page.

“All missiles were destroyed,” Gen. Oleshuk said.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov called Tuesday’s operations “another unbelievable success for the Ukrainian Air Forces.”

“Russian terrorists have no chance of prevailing over Ukraine. Their weapons can and should be countered by Western ones,” Mr. Reznikov tweeted.

The Kinzhal is one of the most sophisticated weapons in Moscow’s arsenal. In 2021, Sergey Chemazov, CEO of the state-owned Rostec defense conglomerate, said there were no effective countermeasures to it.

“They are precise; they hit their target at a long distance, plus, they have a very high speed. It is effectively impossible to intercept such a missile,” Mr. Chemazov told the state-owned TASS news agency.

The latest mission comes a week after Ukraine shot down a Russian Kinzhal with a U.S.-manufactured Patriot air defense missile.

Russia’s forces ‘greatly eroded’ on ground but remain a multidomain threat, US Army’s Cavoli says


STUTTGART, Germany — U.S. European Command’s Gen. Christopher Cavoli said Russia’s total military force has sustained less damage during the war in Ukraine than its battlefield failures might suggest, and that some of its capabilities remain untouched since last year’s invasion.

Cavoli, speaking Sunday during a security conference in Estonia, said Russian air power, sea power and cyberwarfare units have continued mostly intact in the time since Moscow’s full-scale attack in February 2022.

“It's very easy to look and to think that the Russian military has collapsed or is in dire trouble, but in fact, it's been uneven,” Cavoli said during the Lennart Meri Conference in Tallinn.

During more than a year of fighting, Russia’s army has been hard hit. The U.S. estimates that Russian casualties have been as high as 100,000 killed or injured in just the last several months of the war alone. Yet Moscow has been able to replenish its ground force ranks, Cavoli said.

Challenging the Colossus of the North: Mexico, CELAC, and the Implications of Replacing the Organization of American States with a New Regional Security Organization

Richard J. Kilroy, Jr. Associate Professor

In September 2021, Mexican president Andrés Manual López Obrador (AMLO) hosted the sixth meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). This regional organization was inaugurated in 2011 by then president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS) and United States (US) dominance in that regional organization (O’Boyle 2015). As current president of CELAC, AMLO continued to push the separatist agenda established by Chávez, proposing that CELAC model the European Union, with its political, economic, and social integration as a supranational organization (GOB 2021), thus eliminating the need for the continuing alliance of the OAS.1 The OAS was created in 1948, as a collective security alliance in the Western Hemisphere, before the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. It had a similar goal as NATO, to serve as a unified front against communism during the Cold War. 

It never formed into a formal military alliance like NATO, but it clearly focused on security relations between states in the region, with the United States as the dominant actor in setting the agenda for the organization.2 Its anti-communist stance solidified in 1962 with the expulsion of Cuba as a member following Fidel Castro’s successful revolution and before the Cuban missile crisis. Throughout the Cold War, the OAS continued to function as a regional security organization to promote democracy and condemn communism (Red Tide). After the Cold War, the OAS led the charge against authoritarianism and Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) or Pink Tide movements. In fact, on September 11, 2001, the OAS foreign ministers were meeting in Lima, Peru, condemning Chavez’s anti-democratic policies, signing the Inter-American Democratic Charter. They quickly transitioned to condemning terrorism (the first international organization do so) and shortly after on September 21st in Washington, D.C. signed a resolution, Strengthening Hemispheric Cooperation to Prevent, Combat, and Eliminate Terrorism (US Mission n.d.).

Truth Decay and National Security

Heather J. Williams, Caitlin McCulloch

The authors of this Perspective explore how Truth Decay — the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life — affects U.S. national security, what should be done about it, and what future research on this topic should focus on. They highlight research gaps in this field, identify pathways to further discuss and explore in this overlap area, and encourage a shared foundation and framework for future research.

Radio Frequency Detecting Satellite Fleet Expanding

Stew Magnuson

HONOLULU — Hawkeye 360, which provides radio frequency detection from space, will be launching an additional nine satellites this year to expand its services.

Brandon Lickey, product marketing manager at the Herndon, Virginia-based company, said there will be three launches with clusters of three satellites each, with the first scheduled in early April.

Radio frequency energy has been called the lifeblood of modern industry, but is invisible to the naked eye, company literature noted.

Hawkeye 360’s main customers are the defense and intelligence communities, which have found value in the company’s ability to spot the energy produced by everything from radars to push-to-talk radios, he said in an interview on the sidelines of the Pacific Operational Science and Technology conference in Honolulu.

The company takes data and overlays it on maps for its customers. The company’s satellite constellation can revisit a site about every hour, he said.

One of its main applications so far is the detection of so-called “dark vessels,” which have not turned on their Automatic Identification System beacons.

“We can still detect them,” he said. The energy signature from their maritime radars gives them away.

The company recently helped root out illegal gold miners in Nigeria who were using radios to communicate, but under thick jungle canopy.

“Push-to-talk radios were being used in heavily forested areas. Using imagery, you wouldn't be able to see anything going on, but since we can see through the coverage of forested areas, we can kind of tell you that something's happening,” he said.