25 May 2023

Is India “Ready” for Semiconductor Manufacturing?


Summary: India’s technological prowess has largely been built on software. It may now be time to look at hardware, especially semiconductors, where things look promising but more needs to be done.

On March 10, 2023, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal inked a memorandum of understanding on establishing a semiconductor supply chain and innovation partnership. It was the latest in a flurry of bilateral initiatives signed between the United States and India regarding high-technology cooperation. For instance, in January 2023, the ambitious Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) also singled out semiconductors as one of the areas for cooperation between the countries.

However, there were no specific projects singled out for semiconductor collaboration in the factsheet about the iCET released by the White House, unlike the other high-technology areas dealt with in the initiative, such as space, defense innovation, and technology cooperation. For instance, regarding space, there was a mention of cooperating on India’s Gaganyaan program and working together on NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. Similarly, for defense innovation, there was talk about cooperation on jet engines and even a mention of General Electric’s jet engines possibly being jointly produced with Indian entities. When it came to semiconductors, the terminology employed was thought-provoking. The factsheet welcomed the creation of a task force by the U.S.-based Semiconductor Industry Association and the India Electronics and Semiconductor Association to develop a “readiness assessment” regarding near-term industry opportunities.

Calling the task force a “readiness assessment” might have come across as disparaging to some in India’s semiconductor ecosystem. The name implied that India’s attempts and policies to integrate itself into global semiconductor supply chains merit a closer look and require further scrutiny. However, it is an inescapable fact that India’s capabilities in large-scale semiconductor manufacturing are almost nonexistent, something that needs to be acknowledged and addressed. Perhaps just as well and timely is the phenomenon of friendshoring, which will have a critical role to play in augmenting India’s hardware capabilities.

Konark Bhandari is an associate fellow with Carnegie India.


Why Did China and India Support a UN Resolution Acknowledging ‘Russian Aggression Against Ukraine’?

Syed Basim Raza and Ureeda Khan

From left: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019.Credit: Indian Ministry of External Affairs

China and India have maintained a neutral stance since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly in order to avoid direct condemnation of Moscow. Beijing and New Delhi have close diplomatic ties with Russia and decided to maintain those relationships while adhering to their strategic interests in the region. As a result, both China and India have consistently advocated for conflict resolution in a peaceful manner via dialogue and negotiation.

However, a recent development suggests a possible shift in the stance of these states regarding the Ukrainian crisis. On April 26, both China and India cast their votes in favor of a U.N. resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe,” which categorically acknowledged Russian aggression against Ukraine. The resolution recognized “unprecedented challenges now facing Europe following the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, and against Georgia prior to that.”

Russia and its staunchest supporters, including Belarus and North Korea, voted against the resolution. Most of the countries that have been striving for a neutral stance – including the Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – abstained or did note vote. But China and India voiced their support for the resolution, as did a few other countries that have typically abstained (Mongolia and Kazakhstan, for instance).

This development alone may not objectively indicate a change in China’s and India’s position toward Russia. But it is notable, given both states’ preference to abstain from previous U.N. resolutions criticizing Russia for the invasion of Ukraine.

Indian diplomacy in overstretch mode


Indian Foreign Secretary Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra’s special briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Asia-Pacific tour (May 19-24) dovetailed skillfully into three summit meetings, and brings to mind an institution of the Middle Ages known as the “wandering minstrels.”

Wealthy people used to employ minstrels to entertain them in their homes. These wandering minstrels told stories, recited poems, sang ballads and played musical instruments. Employing simple rhymes, their ballads told stories that were of interest and at times even dealt with the problems of the poor.

Modi’s first stop was Hiroshima, Japan, where he was a special invitee to a gathering of the club of rich nations, the Group of Seven, which was born as a result of mounting economic problems, in particular the oil shock and the collapse of the Bretton Woods in the mid-1970s.

According to Kwatra, the G7’s outreach with India was to be “structured around three formal sessions,” relating to food, health, development, gender equality, climate, energy, environment and a “peaceful, stable and prosperous world.”

Japan, as holder of the G7 presidency, also hosted Australia, Brazil, Comoros, the Cook Islands, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and Vietnam as “special invitees.” It was a motley crowd that made little sense as movers and shakers of the world order.

But the Western media were awash with reports that the West’s preoccupations with China and Russia would be the leitmotif of the G7 Summit. Therefore, the last-minute decision by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to attend the summit in person electrified the air in Hiroshima, giving the goings-on there on the weekend the look of a foreplay leading to the making of an endgame in the Ukraine war, if and when that happens.

In such a scenario, of course, there are vital roles that could be assigned by the US to Brazil and India – both BRICS members – and to South Korea, which has actually lived through a “frozen conflict.”

The Impact of Political Instability on Pakistan’s Internal Security

Abdul Basit

Pakistani security officials close a road outside the former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday, May 18, 2023.Credit: AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary

Terrorist groups are byproducts of conflicts and instability. They thrive in such conditions and exploit them to further their narratives, and draw recruits and funding. Terrorist groups also use anarchy as a cover to undermine the adversarial state’s writ and use it to carry out attacks, particularly in high-security zones. The greater the chaos, the more the chances for terrorist groups to flourish in a society.

Pakistan is no stranger to political instability and terrorism, but the current spate of political tensions pitting former Prime Minister Imran Khan, the country’s most popular political leader, against the army chief Gen. Asim Munir, the country’s most powerful man, is unprecedented. Presently, Pakistan is confronted with a three-fold reinforcing crisis of political instability, economic volatility, and resurging terrorism.

Khan’s dramatic arrest by the paramilitary Punjab Rangers on May 9 sparked protests and riots by his supporters. They targeted the Pakistan Army’s installations, symbols and check posts, pushing political tensions to a breaking point.

Against this backdrop, terrorist groups in Pakistan, particularly Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Baloch separatists, can be expected to exploit the current political tensions to motivate their fighters. The leadership of these groups will seek to signal to their rank-and-file that concerted militant campaigns can push them closer to their goals.

The Pakistani state’s highhandedness in dealing with the political opposition, and the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government’s inability to control skyrocketing prices of commodities and finalize a deal with the International Monetary Fund to stop the devaluation of the rupee, have eroded public confidence in the current dispensation. In a situation where the franchise and the right to peaceful protest, notwithstanding the violent riots after Khan’s arrest, are blocked, angry youth could resort to violence, particularly in peripheral conflict zones.

Why the US Should Be Neutral in Bangladesh

Joseph Rozen

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abdul Momen at the State Department in Washington, DC, on April 10, 2023.

General elections in Bangladesh, which are set to take place in January 2024, are quite significant. Despite being poor and underdeveloped, Bangladesh is growing fast and on a path to becoming a developing country by 2026.

In addition, Bangladesh has geostrategic significance. It serves as a connecting bridge between South Asia and East Asia, and between South Asia and the Middle East. It has drawn the attention of China and the United States. The outcomes of its upcoming elections will have political and economic ramifications beyond its borders, influencing the broader region.

There are concerns over corruption and violation of civil rights in Bangladesh. It is crucial to preserve the democratic process and make sure that the upcoming elections are free and fair and will restore political stability in the country.

The opposition has called for elections to be held under a caretaker government. However, this will be counterproductive in protecting democratic institutions in Bangladesh and might hinder the progress of the country, freeze international aid, and eventually hurt the Bangladeshi people.

The last caretaker government in Bangladesh (2006-2008) was backed by the military. It pushed the country further away from democracy. In a national effort to clean the political system, leading figures on both sides of the political divide were charged with corruption and graft.

China’s Position on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Below is a list of key actions and statements summarizing China’s official position on Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022. Items highlighted include China’s official government statements, press conferences, messages to the international community, media publications, and where available, leaked internal Chinese Communist Party (CCP) guidance for media and propaganda outlets.

(For a Timeline of key events prior to February 21 in the lead up to the invasion, visit https://www.uscc.gov/research/china-russia-interactions-leading-invasion-ukraine)

Entries are organized into the following categories:[Action]: Chinese government activity which impacts the conflict in Ukraine
[Sanctions]: Chinese efforts to undermine international sanctions on Russia
[Statement]: Statements by Chinese government officials on the Ukraine conflict
[Media]: Chinese media stories reflecting official positions and censorship guidelines

[Timeline in reverse order, most recent event on top]

April 26, 2023[Action] General Secretary Xi Jinping speaks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

China’s Status Anxiety

Rohan Mukherjee

In early February, the United States shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina. China’s response was angry and defiant: an official spokesperson accused Washington of frequently flying its own spy balloons over Chinese territory and said the United States should “reflect on itself and change course, rather than smear and instigate a confrontation.”

This kind of tit-for-tat response is becoming increasingly commonplace as China’s power grows. In domains as diverse as international trade, human rights, maritime law, and military surveillance, Beijing has accused the United States of hypocrisy and double standards—while responding

How a CCP Propaganda Campaign Targeted the Dalai Lama

Magnus Fiskesjö

This, in itself, wasn’t news. The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, has lived in exile in India since 1959, when he was forced to flee his homeland, occupied by Mao’s China. He remains deeply loved in Tibet, but the Chinese regime has made it a criminal offense even to have a photo of him. And ever since 1959, Chinese officials have been vilifying him in every medium possible.

But while this latest round is almost certainly also disinformation “Made in China,” it represents a new approach: Attempting to paint the Dalai Lama as a pedophile. The trick succeeded beyond belief, with millions of people in the United States, Europe, and beyond – due to prior prejudice coupled with the self-righteous tendency to jump to conclusions, combined with widespread ignorance about Tibet.

As the Tibetan exile activist Lhadon Tethong pointed out in a recent public conversation, the goal was very likely also to distract the world from the new dramatic oppression inside Chinese-occupied Tibet. U.N. human rights experts just issued a warning that Chinese authorities are detaining large numbers of both children and adults in Tibet, to erase their culture and turn them into Chinese-speaking laborers – modeled after the massive parallel genocide against the Uyghurs.

Others suggest that the smear campaign had an element of revenge, for the recent successful inauguration of a ethnic Mongol boy born in the United States, to the third highest reincarnated post in Tibetan Buddhism – in the presence of 600 Mongol VIP guests in Dharamsala, India, the Dalai Lama’s home in exile. This shows the global vitality of Tibetan Buddhism, which China has struggled for decades to stamp out, and strengthens the Tibetan community’s hand for the eventual designation of a successor to the Dalai Lama himself.

Russia and China hit back at a G7 that saw them as a threat

Simone McCarthy

G7 leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pose for a photo before a working session on Ukraine during the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 21.

Moscow and Beijing lashed out against the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima, where leaders of major democracies pledged new measures targeting Russia and spoke in one voice on their growing concerns over China.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday slammed the G7 for indulging in their “own greatness” with an agenda that aimed to “deter” Russia and China.

Meanwhile China’s Foreign Ministry accused G7 leaders of “hindering international peace” and said the group needed to “reflect on its behavior and change course.”

Beijing had made “serious démarches” to host country Japan and “other parties” over their decision to “smear and attack” China, it said.

Both Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine and how to handle an increasingly assertive Beijing have loomed over the three-day gathering of the world’s leading industrialized democracies taking place in Japan – just across regional seas from both countries – where Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise, in-person appearance.

G7 member countries made the group’s most detailed articulation of a shared position on China to date – stressing the need to cooperate with the world’s second-largest economy, but also to counter its “malign practices” and “coercion” in a landmark joint communique Saturday.

Leaders also pledged new steps to choke off Russia’s ability to finance and fuel its war, and vowed in a dedicated statement to ramp up coordination on their economic security – a thinly veiled warning from members against what they see as the weaponization of trade from China, and also Russia.

US Policy on Myanmar and Taiwan: Shifting Strategies to Counter China’s Influence

Zaw Tuseng

As China increases its support across all the elements of national power – diplomatic, informational, military, and economic – for the military junta that seized power in Myanmar in February 2021, the United States must take a proactive approach to counter its growing influence in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region. I argue here for a broadening of the U.S. policy on Myanmar to include U.S. national security interests and strategic competition dimensions in addition to human rights and democracy. Myanmar is an essential component in the integrated deterrence against China in the Indo-Pacific.

The U.S. has a long history of advocating for democracy and human rights around the world, including in Myanmar. It has supported pro-democracy movements and imposed economic sanctions on past military juntas, but recent events have shown that these measures have not been sufficient to prevent the military from seizing power and cracking down on pro-democracy activists.

In the 2000s, I co-managed the lobbying grants that the Open Society Foundations made to Washington-based Myanmar advocacy organizations, responsible for passing the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008, and other congressional resolutions regarding Myanmar.

At that time, as my interest was primarily focused on Myanmar, I was completely blind to the U.S. national security interest. I also thought that I would one day return to Myanmar and live there. Since I become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2016 and my son was born in New York in the following year, my perspectives and positions have changed.

With my positions vested in both the U.S. national interest and democracy in Myanmar, where my other immediate family members and extended relatives reside, I am obliged to serve the interest of both countries. I now want to see my taxes go to adopting a balanced foreign policy to protect American interests while assisting in the restoration of democracy and war-affected communities in Myanmar.

Henry Kissinger explains how to avoid world war three

In beijing they have concluded that America will do anything to keep China down. In Washington they are adamant that China is scheming to supplant the United States as the world’s leading power. For a sobering analysis of this growing antagonism—and a plan to prevent it causing a superpower war—visit the 33rd floor of an Art Deco building in midtown Manhattan, the office of Henry Kissinger.

On May 27th Mr Kissinger will turn 100. Nobody alive has more experience of international affairs, first as a scholar of 19th-century diplomacy, later as America’s national security adviser and secretary of state, and for the past 46 years as a consultant and emissary to monarchs, presidents and prime ministers. Mr Kissinger is worried. “Both sides have convinced themselves that the other represents a strategic danger,” he says. “We are on the path to great-power confrontation.”

To Compete With China on Tech, America Needs to Fix Its Immigration System

Eric Schmidt

When the U.S. Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act in August 2022, it committed $53 billion to fund semiconductor research and manufacturing in the United States. As a result of this legislation, advanced chip manufacturers have been racing to build new U.S. factories. Since then, however, it has quickly become apparent that fabrication capacity alone will not be enough to make the United States a semiconductor powerhouse. What the country lacks is not raw materials or capital. The main constraint is a shortage of talent.

Party Ties: Vietnam, Cuba and China’s Relations with Other Marxist-Leninist States

John S. Van Oudenaren

General Secretary Xi Jinping meets with VCP Politburo Member and Head of the VCP Central Committee Organization Commission Truong Thi Mai in Beijing on April 26, (source: Xinhua)

Last month, on the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership (中越全面战略合作伙伴关系), Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping met with Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) Politburo Member and Head of the Central Committee Organization Commission Truong Thi Mai and asked her to convey his greetings to General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (People’s Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs [FMPRC], April 26). [1] The visit to Beijing by Mai, who has headed the VCP’s powerful organization commission since 2021 and was appointed to the Secretariat in March, occurred days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Vietnam (NhanDan, April 15; VN Express, March 6). As the maritime dispute between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea has intensified over the past fifteen years, Washington has deepened its ties with Hanoi based on overlapping geostrategic interests. Nevertheless, the Biden administration’s ability to achieve its goal of upgrading the U.S. relationship with Vietnam to a “strategic partnership” this year to mark the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the U.S.-Vietnam “comprehensive partnership” remains in question (Fulcrum.sg, April 20).

Vietnam undoubtedly perceives the PRC’s drive to consolidate control over the South China Sea as its main geopolitical challenge. Moreover, Vietnam’s relationship with its larger northern neighbor is colored by mistrust derived from historical memories of Chinese occupation and a long legacy of conflict, including the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War and the subsequent series of border and naval clashes in the 1980s. However, the VCP, particularly the conservative faction, now views the U.S. as posing its primary ideological threat and is fearful that Washington aims to undermine its grip on power (Nikkei Asia, May 11, 2022). As two scholars at Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences note in a recent analysis, Hanoi’s reluctance to upgrade ties with the U.S. stems not only from fear of angering China but also from concern with “Washington’s excessive focus on press freedom, religious freedom, and human rights as an internal intrusion and potential threat to Vietnam’s political security.” [2] Hence, Beijing is able to arrest Hanoi from drifting towards closer alignment with Washington by leveraging their shared Communist systems and mutual concerns about Western efforts to facilitate the “peaceful evolution” of communist states into liberal democracies.

Serving the Real Economy: From De-dollarization to RMB Internationalization?

Nathaniel Sher

In March, the yuan became the most widely used currency by China in cross-border payments, surpassing the U.S. dollar for the first time (Guancha, April 27). This rising usage of China’s currency has coincided with the government’s renewed push for “Renminbi (RMB) internationalization” (人民币国际化). On April 14, People’s Republic of China (PRC) President Xi Jinping and Brazilian President Lula da Silva agreed to “strengthen local currency trade” (加强本币贸易) (Xinhua, April 14). On April 27, Argentina’s Economy Minister announced that the country would begin buying $1 billion worth of monthly imports from China using RMB (Sina, April 26). Last September, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) released a “roadmap for the gradual increase in the share of national currencies in mutual transactions” (SCO, September 16, 2022).

Two global shocks—the Russia-Ukraine war and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hiking cycle—explain the recent momentum behind RMB internationalization. Beijing is promoting the RMB to insulate itself from U.S. sanctions, reduce exposure to foreign exchange rate fluctuations and ultimately gain the prestige of a great power with a great currency. Nevertheless, in the near term, the Chinese Community Party (CCP) is more interested in de-dollarization than RMB internationalization. The government remains highly attuned to the risks associated with capital-account liberalization, including capital flight and exchange-rate volatility. For this reason, Beijing is elevating the RMB in a gradualistic fashion: first promoting the RMB as a medium of exchange for cross-border trade settlement and, then gradually expanding capital-account convertibility to facilitate the long-run development of the RMB as a reserve currency. In short, RMB internationalization remains a work in progress.

Promote RMB Internationalization in an Orderly Manner

Over the past decade, the path of RMB internationalization has been neither steady, nor orderly. The first wave of RMB internationalization began during the global financial crisis, when the U.S. credit crunch created a global dollar shortage. Starting in 2009, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) began extending currency swap lines to the central banks of China’s major trading partners, thereby reducing the risk of liquidity shortfalls. In 2011, Chinese regulators announced a pilot program to allow Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (RQFII) to invest in domestic securities (People’s Daily, December 19, 2011). In 2015, the PBOC allowed full access to the interbank bond market for long-term investors. These reforms ultimately led to the Renminbi’s inclusion in the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket in 2016 (PBOC, September 2022).

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

Martin Purbrick

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

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

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

The PRC government’s more assertive attempts to influence foreign societies are often related to United Front efforts, which have developed since 1921 from being a means of co-opting political and social groups in China to support (or at least tacitly accept) the dominance of the CCP, to become a key tool of the CCP to engage with Chinese people in politically peripheral areas (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan) and the global diaspora, as well as gain support from non-Chinese people in business, education, and other sectors. “United Front” work represents a broad strategy that not only involves the spread of influence, but also exists as an espionage tool for PRC government agencies such as the Ministry of State Security (MSS).

Jamestown Foundation

Terrorism Monitor, May 12, 2023, v. 21, no. 10 

Brief: ISWAP Attacks Northern Nigerian State of Jigawa for First Time

Brief: Belgium Grapples with Lasting Impact of Islamic State Attacks

The Implications of the Arrest of Imran Khan on Pakistan's Stability

West Papuan Insurgents Increase Attacks in Bid to Gain International Attention

US-Backed Proxy Strengthens Iranian Hand in Intra-Kurdish Struggle

Turn Ukraine Into a Bristling Porcupine

Franz-Stefan Gady

The Spanish American philosopher George Santanaya once remarked that “only the dead have seen the end of war.” In truth, however, all high-intensity wars eventually end, and Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine will end at some point, too. When this happens—whether as a result of victory or mutual exhaustion, whether the guns remain silent or some degree of fighting continues along a static front line—the West needs a game plan to deter future Russian aggression. It must make sure that this will not be a repeat of 2014, when Russia paused its invasion in Crimea and the Donbas while it prepared for a full-on war. This time, there must not be a follow-on war a few years down the road.

Two Weeks at the Front in Ukraine

Soldiers on the front in Ukraine adhere to a maxim that grows more sacrosanct the longer they survive: If you want to live, dig. In mid-March, I arrived at a small Army position in the eastern region of the Donbas, where shock waves and shrapnel had reduced the surrounding trees to splintered canes. Artillery had churned up so much earth that you could no longer distinguish between craters and the natural topography. Eight infantrymen were rebuilding a machine-gun nest that Russian shelling had obliterated the previous week, killing one of their comrades. A torn piece of a jacket, from a separate blast, hung on a branch high above us. A log-covered dugout, where the soldiers slept, was about five feet deep and not much wider. At the sound of a Russian helicopter, everyone squeezed inside. A direct hit from a mortar had charred the timber. To refortify the structure, new logs had been stacked over the burned ones. Ukrainian soldiers often employ netting or other camouflage to evade drone surveillance, but here subterfuge would have been futile. Russian forces had already pinpointed the position and seemed determined to eradicate it. As for the infantrymen, their mission was straightforward: not to leave and not to die.

The helicopter deployed several rockets somewhere up the tree line. The soldiers climbed back into the light, found their shovels, and resumed working. One of them, called Syava, had a missing front tooth and wore a large combat knife on his belt. The others began mocking the knife as unsuitable for a modern industrial conflict.

“I’ll give it to you as a gift after the war,” Syava said.

“ ‘After the war’—so optimistic!”

G7 triumphs and the debt ceiling quagmire provide a glimpse into competing futures for US global leadership

Frederick Kempe

The collision of this weekend’s Group of Seven (G7) meetings and the ongoing drama of US debt ceiling negotiations—prompting US President Joe Biden to cut his Asia trip short—underscores both the enduring promise of the United States’ global leadership and the growing perils of its decline.

On the positive side, Biden’s common cause with fellow leaders of the world’s democracies has produced new progress in supporting Ukraine’s military ahead of a crucial spring offensive (including the United States training of F-16 pilots and eventual provision of advanced fighter jets), additional steps sanctioning Russia for its criminal war, and its first statement by the G7 ever aimed at Chinese economic coercion.

In a powerful message of support to the world, the G7 in Japan hosted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alongside invited guests from the Global South—including seating him beside Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi—who has been the most prominent leader of a major democracy who has failed to side with Ukraine’s struggle.

Seldom since the birth of the G7 ahead of the oil crisis of 1973 has the group been this unified and effective. The meeting also underscored the staying power of the G7, based on a commitment to pluralism and representative government, that as of 2020 accounted for half of the world’s net wealth ($200 trillion).

That said, it represents only 10 percent of the world’s population, comprised of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus the European Union (EU) as a “non-enumerated member.” (The EU has full membership rights, though it cannot chair meetings and is not counted as the eighth member.)

On the downside, US partners around the world regard the US domestic political dysfunctions that the debt-ceiling negotiations have highlighted as new evidence that Washington cannot be relied upon to provide the financial or political stability they all crave. How, they ask, can a country whose own domestic fabric is so frayed be relied upon to prevent the unraveling of the global system of institutions, values, and rules that these same democracies forged after World War II?

Russia's Military is Transforming—NATO Is Rushing to Compete


Anew Russian military is emerging from the devastated battlefields of Ukraine. On NATO's eastern flank, alliance militaries are now preparing to face a Russian Army that is mangled but more experienced, less sophisticated but more brutal, and mauled but still well-stocked.

Russia's military quagmire in Ukraine has bought NATO time to restock and expand national militaries that for decades have been primarily concerned with low-intensity, far-flung counterinsurgency conflicts.

During the Lennart Meri Conference in Estonia last week, NATO military officials told Newsweek the alliance is not ready to face whatever Russia emerges from its drubbing in Ukraine.

Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur told Newsweek it will take "some years" for the Russian armed forces to return to their pre-invasion capabilities. "Even losing equipment and men in Ukraine, they still pose a threat for Estonia, and this also means for NATO," Pevkur said in an interview at the Defense Ministry in Tallinn.

German Bundeswehr soldiers ride a camouflaged Boxer armored fighting vehicle during a NATO exercise on March 7, 2023, in Pabrade, Lithuania. NATO has been expanding its footprint along Russia's frontiers following Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Pevkur and others stressed that Russian losses are disproportionately within the ground forces. Moscow's naval and air power, which includes its long-range missile capabilities, are still in relatively good shape.

"The Russian Navy has not suffered a lot," Pevkur said. "The air force suffered, but not so much also."

"The army, yes," the minister added. "Yes, they have a lack of tanks, but they still have thousands of tanks in their reserves. Okay, they are very old. They can refurbish or renovate one tank from three, and they would still have thousands of tanks.

"This is what we have to understand, that Russia is a threat for NATO, for Estonia, for Latvia, for the eastern flank of NATO. And this is why we have to be prepared as quickly as we can."
The Mauled Bear

EU Emerging as Leader in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Mark Temnycky

This month, tensions have renewed between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. Numerous ceasefire violations were reported, and several Armenian and Azerbaijani servicemembers have been injured. A few soldiers have died during this recent skirmish as well.

These events are just the latest developments in the ongoing conflict. For over thirty years, these two countries have been fighting over this territory. Thousands have died during the conflict, and numerous individuals have been injured.

Russia and Turkey have previously attempted to serve as intermediaries in the conflict, but neither has succeeded. In 2020, both countries were instrumental in implementing a new ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Russians deployed two thousand soldiers to serve as peacekeepers in the region. Meanwhile, Turkey has sought to establish good relations between both countries.

Recent events have preoccupied both Russia and Turkey. To date, Russia is still launching its invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands have died during the war, and the Russians have lost billions in military equipment. Despite these losses, Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to continue the illegal invasion. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has distracted the Russians from other matters in the region. As a result, Russia’s involvement as an intermediary in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has dwindled.

As for Turkey, a variety of factors have impacted this country’s ability to serve as an intermediary. Inflation and a declining economy have put many on edge, and Turkish politicians have been preoccupied with domestic affairs. In addition, Turkey is currently having its presidential election. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is determined to hold onto power, and as the election enters its runoff phase later this month, he will seek to defeat his opposition. As a result, Turkey’s interest in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has declined.

Realizing these two countries are preoccupied with their own affairs, Armenia and Azerbaijan have decided to explore other avenues to try and resolve their disputes. Earlier this month, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met with American officials in Washington to discuss the ongoing conflict.

Russia’s Estimated Storage of Cruise Missiles, May 2023

Pavel Luzin

The massive Russian missile attacks against Ukraine in recent days together with evidence of the increasing efficiency of Ukraine’s air and missile defense make it necessary to re-examine the state of Russia’s arsenal of cruise, ballistic and air-launched missiles with a range of more than 300 kilometers (Ukrainska Pravda, May 17; The Moscow Times; Kyiv Independent, May 18). The following estimates do not pretend to be complete or unquestionable, but they intend to initiate expert discussion regarding the correct assessment and understanding of Russia’s actual military capabilities. The proposed estimates are based on official Ukrainian data of those Russian missiles fired during the war, as published in the previous several months, as well as on expert estimates of Russia’s missile storage made in previous years and fragmented data from Russian sources regarding domestic production rates. It should be taken into account that the estimates presented below may be adjusted as new data appears.

For its part, Ukraine regularly publishes available statistics of each Russian missile attack, including the number and types of missiles (if available) and the number of fired and intercepted missiles. However, these statistics usually do not include missiles that detonated immediately or soon after firing. Overall, it is likely that the number of such missiles is insignificant. On January 3, the Ukrainian Armed Forces published an assessment of Russia’s missile storage and production rates (Twitter.com/oleksiireznikov, January 6). Based on this data, the picture of the Russian arsenal of cruise, tactical ballistic and air-launched missiles with a range over 300 kilometers after the latest attack on May 18 is estimated as follows:

Of course, Ukraine may have revised its assessment of production rates since January 2023, but that re-assessment has not yet been published in open sources.

Prigozhin Takes On Russian Ministry of Defense

Alex Horobets

The Battle of Bakhmut remains in the international spotlight, even as the active combat zone on the Ukrainian frontlines now stretches for over 900 miles (Zelenskiy Official, March 18). The Russians need Bakhmut to facilitate their further efforts to advance the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. As urban warfare is challenging and costly as far as manpower is concerned, from the outset, Russian command has employed assault units from the notorious Wagner Group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin.

However, Wagner’s involvement has yet to “speed up” complete capture of the city. In fact, on May 16, Ukrainian forces claimed to have regained 20 square kilometers around Bakhmut, though conceding that Russian units had advanced “somewhat” within the city itself (Kyiv Independent, May 16). In hoping to achieve even minimal advances through Ukraine’s defenses, the Russians have utilized massive artillery barrages and so-called “human wave” tactics, which have resulted in heavy losses on the Russian side (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, January 13). As these losses continue to climb, Prigozhin has become more vocal in criticizing the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD)—a dispute that has reached a new level in recent weeks.

On May 5, the Wagner chief issued a brazen statement that his fighters would pull out from their positions in Bakhmut due to “ammunition hunger” and heavy losses. According to Prigozhin, his “Wagnerites” were supposed to take the city by May 9 and then hand their positions over to the regular Russian forces. He also claimed his units were expected to capture “2 out of 45 square kilometers” of the city (Kommersant, May 6).

Then, on May 7, Prigozhin claimed the Russian MoD had promised sufficient ammunition in support of Wagner’s assaults. He also announced that General Sergey Surovikin, former commander of the Russian forces in Ukraine, was appointed to supervise communications and act as “a link” between Wagner and the MoD (Ura.ru, May 7, 2023).

Gold, Arms, and Islam: Understanding the Conflict in Sudan

Andrew McGregor

Sudan ended over a quarter-century of Islamist-military rule with the 2019 overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir, whose rule was based on Islamism, Arab supremacy, and the ruthless application of military power. A joint civilian-military government was formed to lead the transition to a civilian-led democracy. However, an October 2021 coup led by Sudan’s military and security forces ended all progress toward civilian rule, severing at the same time most of Sudan’s economic and financial ties to the West.

The UN and international diplomats have been trying to guide negotiations for a democratic transition between the military and the civilian Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition. The final version of the Framework Agreement on transition was to be signed on April 6. However, the deadline passed when the security forces indicated they were not prepared to sign due to the inability of two competing elements of the military to agree on integration and military reform provisions.

The Framework Agreement called for the integration of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF, or al-Quwwat al-Musallaha al-Sudaniya) and Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF, or al-Quwat al-Da’m al-Sari). The SAF is led by Lieutenant General ‘Abd al-Fatah al-Burhan, who is Sudan’s de facto leader as Chair of the Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC), while the RSF is a 30,000-strong paramilitary led by the number two figure in Sudan, TSC Deputy Chair Muhammad Hamdan Daglo “Hemeti.” The Framework Agreement was intended to lead Sudan to civilian rule. The SAF, however, is highly politicized, and many of its senior officers adhere to an Islamist ideology that rejects the idea of secular government. Rather than unifying the security forces, the Framework Agreement ultimately brought their differences to a head. Supporters of the former president in the SAF are seemingly using the dispute to create a state of political insecurity favorable for a return to Islamist-military rule. Nation-wide fighting finally broke out on April 15 between the two factions.

The RSF, which was loyal to al-Bashir until his overthrow, has sought international support by accusing the army of mounting a “coup d’état” and seeking “to repeat the failed experiences of the rule of the Islamic Movement that conquered our country and destroyed the dreams of our people for thirty years” (Facebook/RSFCommand, April 16). The paramilitary now refers to their former military partners as “fascist military leaders” supported by “a crowd of corrupt Islamic people thirsty for the blood of the Sudanese people” (Facebook/RSFCommand, April 17). In a February 19 televised speech, Hemeti described the 2019 military coup as a “mistake” that has become “a gateway for the return of the former regime” and warned of efforts by Islamists to restore the Bashir regime (Radio Dabanga, February 21; BBC, February 20).

Abraham Accords: Can They Transform The Middle East?

Maya Carlin

President Donald J. Trump is joined by Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, left; Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley, right, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in the Situation Room of the White House monitoring developments as U.S. Special Operations forces close in on notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria with a mission to kill or capture the terrorist. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The third anniversary of landmark agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, known as the Abraham Accords, is approaching. Joint normalization between the Jewish state, Sudan, and Morocco later followed, growing the number of countries in the region that recognize Israel.

Now is a good time to revisit the peace treaties to see how they have reshaped the trajectory of Middle East relations.

Named after the father of three monotheistic religions founded in the Middle East — Judaism, Islam and Christianity — the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords made history as the first time in more than two decades that any country in the Middle East and North Africa region normalized ties with the Jewish state.

In 1979, Egypt became the first country in the region to establish a peace treaty with Israel, followed by Jordan in 1994.

Since the Abraham Accords were first penned almost three years ago, normalization has opened new opportunities for defense cooperation, collaboration on food and water security, and much more.

A Brief Overview

Why is Bakhmut important in the Russia-Ukraine war?

The symbolic importance of the small city in Ukraine’s east now far outweighs any strategic value for either side.

Russia claims it has fully captured Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, but Kyiv says it still controls part of the city.

Bakhmut, which once had a population of about 70,000 people, has seen eight months of fierce fighting in the bloodiest battle since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated his troops and the Wagner Group private army for “liberating” the city on Saturday, but Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that although Russian troops are in Bakhmut, the city is “not occupied”.

Colonel General Oleksandr Syrsky, commander of the Ground Forces of Ukraine, said on Sunday that Ukrainian troops are approaching the capture of the city in a tactical encirclement. Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said Ukrainian troops are advancing “in the suburbs on the flanks” and have “semi-encircled the city”.

Does America Still Need Europe?

Emma Ashford, Joshua R. Itzkowitz Shifrinson, and Stephen Wertheim; Michael J. Mazarr

As French President Emmanuel Macron travelled back from Beijing in April, he sparked an uproar. Speaking to reporters, Macron stated that European and U.S. interests were diverging, particularly in their approaches toward Asia. “The worst thing for Europe,” he said, “would be just when we have finally managed to clarify our strategic position, we end up pulled into a world of crises that are not our own.”

Washington greeted Macron’s comments with dismay. The Biden administration has been at pains to project an image of Western unity under stable U.S. leadership. However, the French president’s remarks intensified the simmering debate over whether the United States should seek to pull European states into its competition with China, or should instead reduce its leading role in the defense of Europe in order to prioritize security needs in Asia.

For many analysts in Washington, the latter move would be a costly mistake. As the political scientist Michael Mazarr recently wrote in Foreign Affairs (“Why America Still Needs Europe,” April 17), significantly downgrading the United States’ defense commitments in Europe would “validate the grim picture that China and Russia now paint of a United States that is pitilessly self-interested and transactional, and would severely undermine the United States’ painstaking attempts to build a reputation as that rare great power that offers something to the world other than naked ambition.”

This is a common refrain among those who believe that any meaningful U.S. military drawdown from Europe—most likely involving other states stepping up to shoulder the lion’s share of the defense burden—would sever U.S. ties with the continent and even the world. Pulling back, they argue, is prohibitively risky, would save little money, and could destroy broader cooperation between the United States and Europe.

Clandestine communications in cyber-denied environments

Tony Ingesson & Magnus Andersson

Both intelligence operatives and criminals have a constant need to be able to communicate clandestinely, circumventing surveillance efforts carried out by highly capable adversaries. The recent highly-publicized breaches of internet-based clandestine communications technology and targeted malware attacks, in combination with increasingly sophisticated methods for surveillance of internet traffic has arguably resulted in a cyber-denied environment. This paper employs a red-teaming approach to explore how clandestine communications can be structured using platforms that are physically separated from the internet and thus not vulnerable to internet-based surveillance or attacks. Recent developments in computer-based radio software can be combined with legacy radio technology to provide robust solutions for clandestine communications in a cyber-denied environment. Drawing on case studies from the Cold War, contemporary observations of clandestine radio networks in use today, and technical tests carried out by the authors, this paper stresses the importance for counterintelligence and law enforcement to be prepared for a potential shift in how clandestine communications are implemented by both hostile intelligence services and organized crime. Finally, the paper addresses the issue of proactively countering these techniques by presenting concrete methods for use by counterintelligence and law enforcement to detect radio-based clandestine communications and secure evidence.

In 2020, the supposedly secure Encrochat network was found to have been penetrated by law enforcement (Symonds, Citation2021). The year after, Sky ECC was compromised by European law enforcement, and ANOM was revealed to be an FBI plot (Osborne, Citation2021; Westcott, Citation2021). In a similar development, practitioners of human intelligence (HUMINT) were supposedly struggling in the battle against new surveillance technology (Lucas, Citation2019). This includes the new myriad ways of tracking internet-connected phones as well as methods for intercepting, analysing and eavesdropping on computer network traffic.

Law enforcement (LE) and counterintelligence (CI) organizations have also had the ability to infect targets with surveillance software for more than a decade (Cluley, Citation2011). This kind of software will compromise communications regardless of the platform used, by logging keystrokes, capturing the contents of the user’s screen, downloading updates and communicating with a remote website.

Disengaging and Reintegrating Violent Extremists in Conflict Zones

Andrew Glazzard

Dealing with people who leave violent extremist groups has become one of the most pressing security issues of our time. Drawing on new primary research conducted by the author in Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria, and existing research on disengagement and reintegration, this report underscores the challenges of administering rehabilitation programs in conditions of chronic insecurity—and of doing so at a scale sufficient to make a difference to hundreds or even thousands of people in short order.This former Boko Haram commander was photographed in Maiduguri, Nigeria, on September 8, 2021. (Photo by Tom Saater/New York Times)

Violent extremism in conflict or postconflict zones, such as Nigeria’s North East region, northeastern Syria, and northern Iraq, presents a different set of challenges from terrorism in stable contexts. The threat posed by people who have been radicalized or recruited by extremist groups is highly context-dependent: people join or associate with violent groups for many reasons, but in conflict zones there is more forced and circumstantial recruitment.

Conflict zones are also different because violence and fragility create challenging conditions for programs that address violent extremism, including those that seek to disengage and reintegrate former violent extremists. Basic security and safety cannot be guaranteed, access to expertise is limited, and the prospects for former extremists are uncertain. Lacking control over these factors, disengagement and reintegration programs in conflict zones generally have fewer resources and less agency than those in stable settings. Conflict zones also present particular legal and ethical problems, including questions about the legal status of former suspected militants and supporters who have not been subjected to any legal process. Stigmatization is a particularly significant barrier to rehabilitation in conflict zones, and programs have the potential to aggravate as well as to mitigate stigma.

THOR Hammers Drone Swarm with High-Power Microwaves

Greg Hadley

An experimental directed energy weapon developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory successfully disabled a swarm of drones last month—its first test on such a scale.

The Tactical High-power Operational Responder, or THOR, has been in development for years now, generating high levels of interest within the military and beyond. THOR uses bursts of high-power microwave energy to disable small unmanned systems, causing them to drop from the sky.

An April 5 demonstration at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., pitted “numerous” drones of a sort THOR had not faced before against the weapon in the “first test of this scale in AFRL history,” according to a release.

“THOR was exceptionally effective at disabling the swarm with its wide beam, high peak powers, and fast-moving gimbal to track and disable the targets,” said Adrian Lucero, THOR program manager, in the release.

Ken Miller, AFRL’s high power electromagnetics division chief, declared the demonstration a “success.”

An AFRL spokesperson declined to say how many or what kinds of drones were used or whether calling the test a success could be taken to mean THOR successfully downed every drone in the swarm. Regardless, however, defeating a drone swarm significantly exceeded the 2019 demonstration at Kirtland of the system knocking down a single drone.

The 2019 test was followed in 2020 by an announced overseas demonstration alongside other directed energy weapons, but results of that demonstration were never disclosed. In 2021, the lab announced the U.S. Army was investing in the system.

Also in 2021, AFRL announced it was developing a follow-on system to THOR called “Mjolnir,” the name of the hammer wielded by the Norse god Thor. In 2022, the lab selected Leidos to build Mjolnir, saying the new weapon would use the same technology as THOR “but will add important advances in capability, reliability, and manufacturing readiness.”