1 June 2023

Will India’s USD2 billion push end the Mohali fab’s orchestrated slumber?

The modernisation of India’s only fab, the Semi-Conductor Laboratory (SCL), is still a thought process despite the government’s pledge to spend USD2 billion on it. What is dragging the SCL’s fortunes as the nation seeks to emerge as a semiconductor powerhouse?

In three years, about 400 Vande Bharat trains are expected to connect various destinations in India. Railway minster Ashwini Vaishnaw terms the Vande Bharat trains “computer on wheels”, as a single unit is powered by 30,000 to 32,000 chips. Ironically, none of these are likely to be manufactured by the Semi-Conductor Laboratory (SCL), India’s only fab spread across a 50 acre facility in Mohali, 250km from Delhi. To be sure, SCL has not even

China wishes India on new Parliament building; says world can accommodate rise of both nations together

An op-ed stated that while India is removing remnants of colonial rule, it must be aware of the West’s exploitation. It said that the West has repeatedly flattered India over China, and that India must be aware of it.

China wished India on the inauguration of its new Parliament building and said that its wishes for India’s development are sincere We wish India success in achieving its goals with the least possible cost,” China said The Global Times, stated that while India is removing remnants of colonial rule, it must be aware of the West’s exploitation

China and India have had their differences on multiple issues, especially border clashes, but the former wished India on the inauguration of its new Parliament building and said that its wishes for India’s development are sincere.

An op-ed titled ‘We morally, emotionally support India's decolonisation’ in the Chinese state mouthpiece, The Global Times, stated that while India is removing remnants of colonial rule, it must be aware of the West’s exploitation. It said that the West has repeatedly flattered India over China, and that India must be aware of it.

The new Parliament building is “an important part of the Indian government's series of decolonisation measures and will become a great symbol”, said the news site. It, however, added that the most challenging part would be to remove the remnants of colonialism from the culture and hearts of the people.

“The extent to which decolonization can be achieved remains uncertain. We wish India success in achieving its goals with the least possible cost,” it said.

The op-ed offered a “friendly reminder” to India to remain vigilant against the West’s manipulation that “carries new forms of neocolonialism while eradicating the remnants of old colonialism”.

Imran Khan: Ex-Pakistan PM tells BBC crackdown on party is 'untenable'

Caroline Davies

Pakistan's ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan has had a tough few weeks. Thousands of his supporters are in jail. Dozens from the leadership of his party have left - and it it could even be banned. Mr Khan himself could potentially be called before a military court.

"You think it is a big crisis for me, I don't," he tells me.

We are sitting inside a portacabin in the courtyard of his home in Lahore, Zaman Park. It has been turned into a media room where Mr Khan now conducts his live broadcasts on his social media platforms and his interviews - trying to win the narrative argument that he hasn't lost his chance at re-election.

That's a difficult argument to make with his Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party so depleted. This week he lost more than two dozen colleagues, including Fawad Chaudrey, the PTI's former senior vice president, and Sherin Mazari, previously Mr Khan's human rights minister.

"Firstly, we will fill in all the positions of people who have left," he says. "So have younger blood, newer people coming in. They'll probably get arrested, too."

I ask if a political party can be run that way.

"You can use these terror tactics for only a short time. The whole situation is untenable."

But there's no suggestion that the crackdown on his party is about to let up.

Behind the scenes his supporters acknowledge that the situation is tough, although some insist that this is when Mr Khan is at his best - relishing a fight-back.

He is looking increasingly isolated. Gone are the crowds of supporters who had been ever-present at the gates to his home on all our previous visits to Lahore. Now many those inside the security gates are the party's lawyers.

Mr Khan is sounding more conciliatory. He is widely believed to have lost power because of a rift with the army, but now wants to talk to them. To suggest the military would have no role in Pakistan's politics is a "fool's paradise", he says.

The U.S. Is Losing Ground to China in Southeast Asia

Joshua Kurlantzick

Over the past five years, Beijing has adopted a much more assertive military and diplomatic approach in Southeast Asia, as it has in many other parts of the world. It has stepped up its militarization of the South China Sea as well as its use of fishing vessels—and even troops—to keep fishing boats from Southeast Asian states from operating in regional waters. It has increasingly menaced Taiwan, and its diplomats around the world have adopted an aggressive, sometimes bullying “wolf warrior” style of diplomacy.

While one could reasonably expect this to negatively affect China’s standing in the region, the opposite is the case. According to a striking and comprehensive new study by the Australian think tank the Lowy Institute, China’s influence in Southeast Asia has soared in the past five years. Not only that, but China’s rising influence has come largely at the expense of the United States, which is seeing its own influence rapidly ebb in one of the most vital arenas of competition between Beijing and Washington.

The Lowy Institute’s report, titled, “Asia Power Snapshot: China and the United States in Southeast Asia,” used a variety of indicators to rank the two countries’ regional influence across four categories: economic relationships, defense networks, diplomatic influence and cultural influence. It concludes that the U.S. “has lost influence to China in Southeast Asia over the past five years in all four.” Similarly, a recent study by the ISEAS Yusof-Ishak Institute in Singapore found that a majority of respondents in a poll found that China was now the most dominant economic and political-strategic power in Southeast Asia.

Mapping the Semiconductor Supply Chain: The Critical Role of the Indo-Pacific Region

Akhil Thadani and Gregory C. Allen

The semiconductor industry and its supply chain increasingly rival oil and gas in terms of their importance to international relations, the attention they receive from senior leaders in government and business, and their use as a tool of foreign policy. Across a diverse range of global opportunities and geopolitical challenges, the semiconductor industry supply chain is increasingly at the center of the story. While the semiconductor industry is truly global, the Indo-Pacific is its critical region. Taiwan, Japan, China, and South Korea all play pivotal roles in the Indo-Pacific and particularly the global semiconductor landscape. This paper provides an analysis of the role that the Indo-Pacific region plays in the global semiconductor industry across the various stages of the semiconductor supply chain. Since the United States is a critical Pacific power and a leader in the global semiconductor industry, this analysis also includes the United States when referring to key semiconductor players in the Indo-Pacific region.

This report is part of a collaborative project between CSIS's Asia Program, Wadhwani Center for AI and Advanced Technologies, and Scholl Chair in International Business. This is one of two reports in a series that maps semiconductor supply chains and opportunities for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. The accompanying report, "Semiconductor Supply Chains in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity: Squaring the Circle on Deeper Cooperation," can be found here.

The Size of the Semiconductor Industry

Today, the word “semiconductors” most commonly refers to integrated circuits (aka “computer chips”), and the semiconductor industry is among the most critical sectors of the global economy. Annual sales of semiconductors are staggeringly large: more than half a trillion dollars in 2022.[1] More importantly, however, the semiconductor industry is an irreplaceable enabler of tens of trillions of dollars of annual economic activity worldwide. Semiconductors are found not only in data centers, laptops, and mobile phones, but also in automobiles, washing machines, light bulbs, nuclear missile guidance systems, and electrical grid infrastructure. In the United States, semiconductors account for only 0.3 percent of GDP, but they are an important production input to 12 percent of GDP.[2] The importance of semiconductors is best demonstrated by the drastic economic consequences of the recent semiconductor shortage. Analysis by the U.S. Department of Commerce found that “the [chip] shortage shaved an estimated $240 billion off U.S. GDP in 2021. The auto industry alone produced 7.7 million fewer cars in 2021 due to lack of chips.”[3] In other words, U.S. GDP was a full 1 percent lower than it would have otherwise been had the semiconductor shortage never occurred. For comparison, the average U.S. GDP annual growth rate over the past 10 years has been 2 percent.[4]

Third Country With Hypersonic Missile: After Russia & China, Will Iran ‘Outspeed’ The US To Deploy Mach 5+ Weapons?

Iran will soon present a new hypersonic missile after conducting all the necessary tests, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, said on Monday.

“The tests of this (hypersonic) missile have been conducted, and it will be demonstrated soon,” Iranian news agency IRIB quoted him as saying.

The commander added that the new missile can fly at a speed of 12-15 Mach (8,893-11,116 miles per hour), is maneuverable both inside and outside the atmosphere, and is capable of targeting enemy missile defense systems.

In November 2022, Tehran said it had developed the first national hypersonic ballistic missile. The United States said at the time that it was “skeptical” of Iran’s reports.
Are Hypersonic Missiles Invincible?

Hypersonic missiles might not be the ultimate invincible weapon as boasted by China and Russia. At least, the US defense establishment appears to believe so.

Hypersonic missiles are the new lethal weapons in the arsenal of Russia and China to project their power. In the Ukraine-Russia war, the Kinzhal has been received with awe and terror.

Most recently, China war-gamed to destroy a US aircraft carrier group with its latest long-ranging hypersonic ballistic missile DongFeng-27 to signal the arrival of its “Blue Dragon” strategy in the Indo-Pacific.

This arch-nemesis of the US have been quite boastful of its hypersonic weapons program and have already been deploying them to deny area access to the US. But the US hypersonic weapons programs are trailing owing to a lack of a plan, technological gaps, and a belief that ballistic missiles are a better and cost-effective bet against an adversary.

The US Army, Navy, and Air Force have their own non-nuclear hypersonic missile development program to develop weapons that fly five times faster than the speed of sound and spend most of their flight in the Earth’s atmosphere.

China’s Youth Unemployment Problem


CHICAGO – This month, China released official statistics showing that its unemployment rate for young people (16-24 years old) reached a record high of 20.4% in April. Worse, the news comes just one month before another 11.6 million students will graduate from college and vocational schools and enter the job market.

True, the lockdowns under the government’s zero-COVID policy were much more draconian and economically damaging than other countries’ containment policies, and they were enforced for more than a year longer in most cases. So, it is not surprising that China’s economic recovery has lagged others. For comparison, the US youth unemployment rate hit 14.85% at its pandemic peak in 2020, before declining to 9.57% in 2021, and to 6.5% today.

But while most of China’s pandemic-related obstacles to employment have been lifted, the fundamental conditions for reducing China’s youth unemployment are not improving. While the long-run post-pandemic jobless rate will be lower than it is now, it is still likely to remain higher compared to the pre-pandemic years. There are many reasons for this, but one key issue is the large gap between the “reservation wage” rate that young graduates are willing to accept and the rate that firms are willing to pay.

This mismatch reflects the extent to which the cost of living has outpaced the growth in salaries. According to a 2021 survey, jobs for new graduates in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing paid an average of only CN¥5,290 ($749) per month. That is just enough to rent a 25-square-meter (269 square feet) apartment (Chinese cities now have some of the world’s most expensive real estate). And these young people can see that a job with such a low starting salary is unlikely to provide the income progression needed to support a family ten years down the line. Since urban white-collar workers are typically expected to work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days per week, a dual-career couple with a child must rely heavily on a nanny. Yet in Shanghai and Beijing, nannies, who usually come from the countryside and often have not graduated from high school, earn CN¥6,000 per month on average – more than recent college graduates.

China’s three ‘grey rhinos’ – demographic crisis, debt and decoupling – are growing, threatening economic growth

Zhou Xin

The nation’s birth rate is plunging, its debt bubble is threatening to burst, and its allure as the world’s factory is losing its shine

Chinese authorities have already taken measures to prepare for these highly probable, high-impact threats, but more needs to be done

China’s three biggest “grey rhinos” are growing. The term, coined by American author Michele Wucker to describe highly probable and high-impact threats, aptly describes the country’s demographic crisis, its mountain of debt and its decoupling with other major economies.

With China’s birth rate already falling off a cliff, the first grey rhino turns out to be far more menacing than previously expected. The country has already lost its title as the world’s most populous nation to India. The latest rumour is that China’s number of births could drop below 8 million this year, in another deep fall from 9.56 million in 2022, according to pregnancy records compiled by hospitals up till May.

If true, that would mark the lowest numbers since the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949. It would also add fresh evidence that the country is plunging into the low-fertility trap that it created through decades of birth restrictions.

The ageing Chinese town where the one-child policy worked too well

Some Chinese researchers have argued that the country, with improved education and a massive labour force, would continue to benefit from new “demographic dividends” – favourable conditions for economic growth owing to the sheer size of the population.

But the argument is false because a rapidly ageing population is not a dividend. In fact, the demographic shift has already started to erode China’s growth momentum, and the problem will only get worse in the foreseeable future.

The second grey rhino – China’s debts, in particular local government debts – has been in view for years, and authorities have been trying to de-leverage for a long time. Although China has successfully avoided a debt crisis so far, room to muddle through this issue is shrinking fast.

How China Integrates Drones Into PLA Operations Surrounding Taiwan

Olli Pekka Suorsa and Adrian Ang U-Jin

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have become synonymous with modern warfare. During the early phases of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the latter’s Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2s made international headlines by destroying scores of Russian tanks, armored vehicles, and air-defense systems with seeming impunity. TB2s also participated in some of the war’s most daring operations, such as the recapture of Snake Island and the sinking of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s flagship, Moskva. More importantly, perhaps, Ukraine successfully utilized the Bayraktar’s grayscale targeting turret imagery as an effective propaganda tool.

Recently, Chinese drones also made headlines by circumnavigating Taiwan twice in one week. In this article we take a closer look at People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drone operations near Taiwan.

We noted previously in The Diplomat that the first acknowledged deployment of a drone by the PLA occurred on September 5, 2022, when Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) released the flight path of a PLA BZK-007 reconnaissance UAV. That drone was part of a larger nine-sortie incursion into Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ. Since then, the PLA’s sizable portfolio of drones have become a regular fixture in incursions into the island’s ADIZ, averaging 16 sorties per month. What garnered attention most recently, however, were two PLA UAV sorties within the space of a week that circumnavigated Taiwan.

According to the MND’s daily ADIZ report, on April 27 a TB-001 medium-altitude and long endurance (MALE) UAV conducted a counter-clockwise (south to north) circumnavigation of Taiwan. The TB-001 crossed the Median Line and entered Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ, passing through the Bashi Channel before flying up along the island’s eastern coast and returning to the mainland via the northeastern end of the Median Line. The TB-001 was accompanied by another UAV, a BZK-005 that entered the southeastern ADIZ and flew halfway to the eastern side of the island before turning back. The TB-001’s circumnavigation flight occurred as part of a 19-sortie incursion that saw PLA fighters (J-10s) and fighter-bombers (Su-30s and J-16s) cross the Median Line while a KQ-200 anti-submarine warfare maritime patrol aircraft (ASW-MPA) and Y-8 RECCE entered the Bashi Channel.

America and China Are on a Collision Course


The G7 countries may have set out to deter China without escalating the new cold war, but the perception in Beijing suggests that they failed to thread the needle at their recent summit in Hiroshima. It is now clear to all that the United States, its allies, and any partners they can recruit are committed to containing China’s rise.

NEW YORK – Following the May G7 summit in Hiroshima, US President Joe Biden claimed that he expects a “thaw” in relations with China. Yet despite some recent official bilateral meetings – with US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen expressing hopes for a visit to China soon – relations remain icy.

In fact, far from thawing, the new cold war is getting colder, and the G7 summit itself magnified Chinese concerns about the United States pursuing a strategy of “comprehensive containment, encirclement, and suppression.” Unlike previous gatherings, when G7 leaders offered mostly talk and little action, this summit turned out to be one of the most important in the group’s history. The US, Japan, Europe, and their friends and allies made it clearer than ever that they intend to join forces to counter China.

Moreover, Japan (which currently holds the group’s rotating presidency) made sure to invite key leaders from the Global South, not least Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In reaching out to rising and middle powers, the G7 wants to persuade others to join its more muscular response to China’s rise. Many will likely agree with the depiction of China as an authoritarian, state-capitalist power that is increasingly assertive in projecting power in Asia and globally.

While India (which holds this year’s G20 presidency) has taken a neutral position on Russia’s war in Ukraine, it has long been locked in a strategic rivalry with China, owing partly to the fact that the two countries share a long border, much of which is disputed. Thus, even if India does not become a formal ally to Western countries, it will continue to position itself as an independent, rising global power whose interests are more aligned the West than with China and China’s de facto allies (Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan).

Moreover, India is a formal member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a security grouping with the US, Japan, and Australia whose explicit purpose is to deter China; and Japan and India have longstanding friendly relations and a shared history of adversarial relations with China.

Can China Escape the Malacca Dilemma?

Ho Ting Hung

Despite China’s growing assertiveness in the competition for marine resources, Beijing has openly discussed its vulnerabilities in the Strait of Malacca. In November 2003, then Chinese president Hu Jintao coined the term “Malacca Dilemma,” referring to China’s vulnerability to a naval blockade at the strait—the shortest sea route connecting the Middle East and East Asia. Although imposing a naval blockade could incur high economic and diplomatic costs to all involved, intensifying tensions in the Indo-Pacific region increase its possibility of happening. This is of great concern to China’s leaders, as the Malacca Strait is an effective choke point in China’s economic network because of Beijing’s huge dependence on importing energy and its lack of reliable allies in the region. Seeking to remedy this situation, China, by promoting its recently proposed Global Security Initiative (GSI) to expand its security partnership with countries around the region, can potentially minimize the impact caused by the Malacca Dilemma.

The Malacca Dilemma

The Strait of Malacca is an 805-km stretch of water that falls between the Malay Peninsula on the northeast and the Indonesian island of Sumatra on the southwest. It connects the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea in the Pacific Ocean, making it an important marine route for hydrocarbon, container, and bulk cargo shipments between Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. About a quarter of the world’s traded goods and one-third of total global petroleum and other liquids production transported using marine routes pass through the strait annually, making it the second-largest oil trade chokepoint in the world after the Strait of Hormuz. Additionally, 80 percent of China’s exports pass through here, meaning China’s economic destiny is heavily tied to the strait’s stability.

The strait, however, is itself a narrow stretch of water only 65–250 km wide, meaning that it could easily be blocked by nearby nations with sufficient force. To China, this is especially threatening because of the political dynamics in the region. The strait is surrounded by neutral countries like Malaysia, U.S. allies like Singapore, and geopolitical rivals like India, which also recently joined the United States’ Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. Some of these countries have a central geographic location in the region and possess outlying islands like the Andaman and Nicobars (controlled by India), which could allows said nations project naval power and control the strait more easily. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy (the 7th and 5th Fleets), which operates in the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East, is the only force capable of guarding the strategic sea lines of communication stretching from the shores of Africa to East Asia. As such, the United States still maintains tight control over the Strait of Malacca—something Beijing is ever conscious about.

What Xi can learn from Tsar Nicholas


As Europe was rocked by uprisings and revolutions during the 1830s and 1840s, one nation remained unaffected, secure in the grip of its authoritarian ruler. Russia’s Tsar Nicholas I watched while groups as disparate as English Chartists and Polish nobility protested and rose against monarchy, culminating in the Revolutions of 1848. As political upheaval set Europe alight, the Russian Empire seemed impermeable to the virus of reform, a society frozen in time, unchanging, eternal, and ultimately becoming the bulwark of ideological reaction.

All this was due to Nicholas, who came to the throne in 1825 with the potential of turning into an enlightened ruler, supposedly being opposed to the serfdom of the Russian peasant. As Adam Ulam notes in his magisterial book The Bolsheviks, however, the aristocratic Decembrist revolt that welcomed Nicholas’s accession forever stamped a suspicious mindset on the autocrat.

For the next 30 years, until his death in 1855, Nicholas created the prototype of the modern police state. The infamous Third Section, the forerunner of secret police throughout the modern world, penetrated all levels of society. Nearly a quarter-century after the Decembrist revolt, Nicholas’s police crushed the reformist Petrashevsky Circle, comprised of lower officials and small landowners, including Fyodor Dostoevsky, cruelly waiting until the very last minute to commute the decreed death sentences to Siberian exile.

On the surface, Nicholas’s domination of Russian society seemed complete. Yet his iron grip had two fatal results. First, in the words of Ulam, “the stability and the power of the regime were bought at the price of neglecting the needed reforms and of leaving the Russian Empire incomparably farther behind Western Europe” at Nicholas’s death in 1825. As tragically demonstrated in the 1854-56 Crimean War, and then more devastatingly in the Great War that erupted in 1914, Russia could no longer match the national power of the Western capitalist-industrialist nations.

Second, Ulam concludes that Nicholas’s complete control over Russian society taught its intellectuals and elites the “dangerous lesson that everything in the last resort is dependent on politics”. Unwittingly, the autocracy itself prepared the ground for professional revolutionary parties and the socialism that ultimately overthrew the Romanovs.

'We Have No Plan': United States and United Kingdom Struggle to Combat Chinese Influence, Officials say

Adam Kredo

The United States and United Kingdom are struggling to counter China’s increasingly hostile political warfare operations, according to sources briefed on recent high-level meetings between officials from both countries.

During this month's summit between British leaders and members of the House Select Committee on China, officials acknowledged that while both countries have strategies in place to handle a military confrontation with China, "we have no plan" to combat Chinese aggression off the battlefield, according to a source briefed on the contents of the private discussions.

The CCP’s political warfare operations were raised as a concern in several meetings during the transatlantic summit, a sign that both countries are struggling to beat back China’s growing global footprint. Officials from both countries expressed concerns about a burgeoning "international order with Chinese characteristics," according to the source briefed on the meetings.

China has expanded its global influence operation in recent years in a bid to exert dominance over the international community. Beijing has poured resources into a global campaign of economic coercion and worked to shape narratives and peddle propaganda through international institutions like the United Nations. These efforts were on full display during the coronavirus pandemic, when China successfully prevented the World Health Organization from disclosing that the virus likely emerged from a Wuhan lab, as several U.S. intelligence reports have determined in recent months.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.), the China committee’s chairman who led the delegation to Britain, said he came away from the meetings concerned the British and American governments are not doing enough to detach their economies from China and fend off the CCP’s global spy operations. Both countries continue to rely heavily on Chinese supply chains, particularly in the technology sector, that are vulnerable to Communist Party coercion and spying.

Can Beijing Seize the “Opportunity of the Century”?

Willy Wo-Lap Lam

As President Xi Jinping said farewell to his host and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the end of his visit to Moscow last month, a few Western media outlets caught the Chinese strongman’s parting words to his good friend on the doorstep of the Kremlin: “Let’s join hands in seizing [the opportunity provided by] changes that only appear once in a century” (Radio Free Asia, April 1; VOA Chinese, March 24).

Xi has sought to take full advantage of these “big changes that only come once in a century” (百年未有之大变局),or the “best opportunity in 100 years,” as a primary foreign policy goal since attaining “party core” status at the 19th Party Congress in 2017. More than five years ago, he indicated that the Chinese leadership was “facing the biggest changes [on the global scene] not seen in the past century.” The President and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary explained that since the dawn of the 21st century, “a large number of countries with newly developed markets … are growing at an expedited pace.” Moreover, Xi added that “the multi-polarization of the world is developing rapidly, and the global distribution of power has become more balanced by the day,” and that “the currents and major trends of the world cannot be negated” (Netease, January 14, 2022; Sohu.com, January 19, 2018). This viewpoint was buttressed by Xi’s revival of one of his favorite Chairman Mao quotations: “The East is rising and the West is declining” (People’s Daily, November 24, 2022; Radio Free Asia, September 23, 2022).

Xi urged party cadres and comrades to “develop a strategic outlook and establish a global point of view.” He stressed that “while being conscious of the historical opportunity, we must assiduously fix our direction in accordance with once-in-a-century opportunities.” The supreme leader, who heads the CCP’s China’s policy-setting Central Foreign Affairs Commission as well as the Central Military Commission, also indicated that “never have the world’s [developing] countries’ been so united [in the quest] for equal economic opportunities and for a say in global rule-setting” (Qstheory.cn, August 27, 2021; Gov.cn, December 28, 2017). This touches on a related theme in Xi’s style of international diplomacy, which is working to forge a “universe with a common destiny,” particularly with countries barred by the U.S.-led Western coalition from playing a significant role in global affairs (Xinhua, September 3, 2018).

Turkey’s Electronic Warfare Capabilities: The Invisible Power Behind its UACVs

Ali Bakir

In modern warfare, the increasing dependence on radars, radio signals and satellites to command, control and coordinate the movement of or communicate with military assets requires sophisticated electronic capabilities in the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). A country lacking such capabilities risks endangering its military assets on the battlefield and therefore losing a war before it starts.

Currently, a number of countries are advancing electronic warfare systems (EWSs), including Russia, the US and China. The last few years, in particular, have witnessed intensified competition between these countries to dominate the EMS.

Turkey realised the importance of this field as early as the 1970s. Over the past two decades, the government has directed more funds towards several national defence companies and scientific institutions, such as ASELSAN, HAVELSAN and TUBITAK, to develop its EWS capabilities.

ASELSAN is Turkey’s leading defence company specialised in electronic technologies and system integration. It was established by the Turkish Army in 1975 to meet its communication needs. Defense News’ 2020 annual ranking of the top 100 defence companies globally included seven Turkish companies; two of them – ASELSAN and TAI – already made the 2019 SIPRI ranking for global defence companies.

This achievement is often attributed to the government’s ambition, aggressive strategy, and quest for strategic autonomy. Over the past decade, Turkey’s homegrown defence industry has been rapidly expanding, allowing Ankara to add more critical defence systems to its inventory than ever before.

Top Turkish defence companies

Nagorno-Karabakh: The History And Present Situation Of Bloody Conflict – Analysis

Matija Šerić

When any objective observer looks at the geopolitical map of the world and its crisis hotspots sooner or later he will reach Nagorno Karabakh in the South Caucasus. This ethnically Armenian region within Azerbaijan has been the subject of a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan for a century. Because of it, two countries and two peoples have been at war for more than 100 years, of course at intervals.

Fragile peace reigns there for the most part, but wars and incidents occasionally break out, resulting in heavy casualties. What’s worse, that remote mountainous region is toxically poisoning Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, and there is no end in sight to the conflict. Although there are crisis hotspots around the globe, in terms of the use of force, the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh can only be compared to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even during the most peaceful periods, it is a matter of a week or a month when the blood of soldiers or civilians will be spilled.

General information about the province

The name of the province has interesting roots. The word nagorno means “mountainous” in Russian, while the word “karabah” is a combination of Turkish and Persian words that together mean “black garden”. The region is located between Lower Karabakh and Syunik on the southeastern massif of the Lesser Caucasus. Through Nagorno-Karabakh flow several small, fast-moving rivers that pass through mineral-rich country on their way to the central valley. The result is rugged but agriculturally rich land with a handful of forests. The area of the region is 4,400 square kilometers. That it is a mountainous area is indicated by the fact that, on average, the region is 1,100 meters above sea level. The capital is Stepanakert, which in practice is the capital of the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh.

The region does not directly border Armenia, but it is connected to it through the Lachin Corridor – a mountain pass that has been under the control of Russian peacekeeping forces since the end of 2020. The natural environment varies from the steppe in the lowlands to dense forests of oak, hornbeam and beech on the lower mountain slopes to birch forest and alpine meadows. The region has numerous resources such as mineral springs and deposits of zinc, coal, lead, gold, marble and limestone. Relatively close, somewhat further north, important oil and gas pipelines from the direction of Azerbaijan to Turkey and the European Union pass, therefore the energy importance of the province is visible. Any conflict threatens to disrupt Europe’s oil and gas supply.

NATO members mull secret plans for responding to Russia attack

Ian Davis

As NATO looms ever larger as a major actor in global affairs in the wake of the war in Ukraine, the lack of transparency that characterizes its long-range military planning processes poses a serious challenge to democratic oversight.

That observation applies in particular to the regular tri-annual meetings of NATO’s most senior generals, the Chiefs of Defence, or CHODs. The latest of these meetings, in a format known as the NATO Military Committee, took place on May 10 in Brussels. While media coverage was marginally better than usual — see, for example, this Reuters article —concerns remain that member countries’ parliamentarians and publics are being kept in the dark about one of the most opaque but consequential processes within NATO.

At the Vilnius Summit in July, NATO’s political leaders will be asked to approve thousands of pages of secret military plans that will detail for the first time since the Cold War how the alliance would respond to a Russian attack. Most of these plans were drawn up behind closed doors by the permanent Military Representatives at NATO headquarters in Brussels and other NATO and national defense officials, without any prior scrutiny by parliamentary bodies and independent experts.

In a press conference after the CHODs meeting, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer (a Lieutenant admiral in the Royal Netherlands Navy) described it as “historic” because of the “unparalleled integration of NATO and national military planning.” Bauer added that NATO will “for the first time since the end of the Cold War” have “objective, threat-based capability targets to offer to nations.” And this will enable the alliance “to do exactly what the NATO flag symbolises: we will all follow the same compass.”

A compass is often regarded as a failsafe piece in a kit. But as any hiker knows, you also need a map and a very clear idea as to what should happen under your feet as you walk on your compass bearing. If this is not happening, alarm bells should ring, and you need to re-evaluate your path. No such guardrails are in place with NATO’s compass.

Did Ukraine just win the war?

Adam Simpson

As Ukraine’s ‘shaping’ activities continue across Russian-occupied Ukraine—and parts of Russian territory—ahead of its much-anticipated counteroffensive, the global political environment is gradually, but significantly, shifting in Ukraine’s favour.

In the week leading up to this month’s G7 summit in Japan, and during the meeting itself, the symbolism and political decision-making surrounding Ukraine demonstrated more unified and unqualified support for President Volodymyr Zelensky, and may represent a turning point in the conflict.

Indeed, it may turn out to be the moment Ukraine won the war.

That has not always been the most likely outcome.

As Russia’s troops withdrew from around Kyiv six weeks after its unjustified but poorly planned invasion of Ukraine in February last year, it looked very much like Russia had lost the war, particularly in relation to its original aims of overrunning Kyiv and installing a Russia-friendly puppet regime.

However, since that time, and despite significant Ukrainian victories, including the retaking of vast swathes of territory in the Kharkiv region and Kherson city late last year, NATO governments have been focused primarily on ensuring that Ukraine is not overrun, rather than providing it with the tools and weapons to win the war.

The result has been a drip-feed of weapons, initially short-range missiles such as anti-tank Javelins that helped halt the Russian advance, and then eventually more substantial weapons such as HIMARS and missiles with a range of around 80 kilometres, Patriot air-defence systems and NATO main battle tanks.

The fight for Syria’s skies: Turkey challenges Russia with new drone doctrine

Ali Bakeer

In February Turkey began ramping up its military presence in Syria’s Idlib Province, sending a huge number of reinforcements to enforce the de-escalation zone outlined in the 2018 Sochi agreement with Russia and prevent the Assad regime from displacing millions of civilians toward the Turkish border as it sought to recapture the last major opposition stronghold.

Amid the escalating tensions, the situation changed dramatically on Feb. 27 when an airstrike killed 33 Turkish soldiers and injured more than 30 others. Some experts suggested that the attack was carried out by Russia, although Moscow denied responsibility, blaming the Assad regime instead. However, it would have been impossible for the Syrian regime to do so because the strike took place at night and Damascus has neither the technology nor the precision-guided bombs needed to launch attacks at night.

Regardless of who carried out the airstrike, its objective was clear: to force Turkey out of Syria by raising the cost of conflict and creating an internal debate in Ankara over the feasibility of an anti-Assad operation. Yet, it proved to be counterproductive. In retaliation, Ankara launched “Operation Spring Shield” (OSS) against the Syrian regime and the pro-Iranian militias supporting it. Despite being unable to rely on its fleet of F-16s due to Russia’s control of the Syrian airspace over Idlib, Turkey managed to successfully wipe out a large portion of Assad’s army in the area within just a couple of days by making innovative use of drones.

The Assad regime suffered heavy losses as a result of the drone campaign: 3,000 soldiers, 151 tanks, eight helicopters, three drones, three fighter jets (including two Russian-made Sukhoi Su-24s), around 100 armored military vehicles and trucks, eight aerial defense systems, 86 cannons and howitzers, ammunition trucks and dumps, and one headquarters, among other military equipment and facilities.

This drone-on-drone dogfight in Ukraine is a glimpse of the future of war


Early this week the Ukrainian armed forces posted a short video to social media showing its drones in operation, flying over convoys, surveilling battlefields and in one brief bit of footage, taking out a Russian drone by crashing into it at top speed.

The video, set to electronic music, offers a glimpse into the low-tech approach soldiers are taking to dealing with high-tech tools.

The footage of the specific incident is short but shows what is starting to happen more and more in Ukraine. With both Russia and Ukraine making heavy use of uncrewed aerial vehicles, UAV dogfights are starting to pop up as the two warring parties try to keep the skies clear. It’s a risky strategy, given that both drones will likely be taken out, and a pretty rudimentary solution for dealing with 21st century technology. But if it’s dumb and it works, it’s not dumb.

Given the damage drones can do, counter-drone defenses have become a priority as the war has dragged on. Beyond electronic countermeasures, both sides have tried to shoot down enemy UAVs. Given that many are quite small, that can be a challenge, as can trying to ram a similarly small quadcopter into another. However it’s clear that is being tried, and somehow working.

Often drones end up targeting groups on the ground, not each other. Ukraine recently used its drone arsenal to strike Russian assets in the east and in Crimea. Both sides in the war are using uncrewed surface vessels and aerial vehicles for a variety of purposes — for reconnaissance, as targeting systems for older artillery systems and to launch attacks on ground forces. Every so often the drones themselves are the weapons, smashing into the targets.

This isn’t the first time two drones duked it out over the skies of Ukraine. In October 2022, footage of another instance hit social media, again set to eastern European techno music. That clip showed more of a standoff, with each UAV trying to maneuver around to avoid strikes and land a killing blow.

Considering Maskirovka

George Friedman

Soon after Josef Stalin signed a mutual defense pact with Adolf Hitler, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said that Russia was a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Russian military planners were undoubtedly pleased by what they might have taken as praise. One of the foundations of their military doctrine is the principle of maskirovka, or the use of various deceptions and denials to mask their true intentions. Maskirovka doesn’t always work, but when it does, it can utterly transform a battle, even a war.

Trusting in the common perception of the state of the Russian military can be designed to be fatal. I have long wondered about the chaotic structure of Russian forces in Ukraine and about the amount of time and resources Russia devotes to secondary targets. It’s tempting to assume that Moscow is foundering or that it was fated to defeat, but the fact that maskirovka is embedded so deeply in the Russian military psyche makes it necessary to periodically rethink Russian plans and resources. These things are unknown by design, but what if it turns out that the Russian bungling is a ploy, its real force and intention hidden, waiting to strike? When thinking about the Russians, creating a model diametrically opposed to what you believe, and then taking it apart, is essential.

The current consensus is that Russia has lost the organization, resources or trained manpower necessary to do more than hold its ground or perhaps advance with very limited objectives. This view is based on command confusion in which the Russian armed forces are competing with the Wagner Group, rather than commanding it. It would explain the extended battle in Bakhmut – to say nothing of Russia’s general inability to cripple Ukrainian forces and penetrate deeper into Ukraine. Penetration and destruction are the essence of warfare. A divided chain of command could explain the failure, and the inability to repair it could easily lead an enemy to assume that a Russian victory is all but impossible.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Russia built the battle of Bakhmut to draw the Ukrainians forward into a more vulnerable position. A smashing defeat of Ukraine there would create a massive crisis in the Ukrainian command and stoke serious tensions with allies. If the disparity of force were sufficient, Russian forces might move decisively to Ukraine’s western border. The purpose of the battle, then, would be to convince Ukraine to carry out a broad attack in the hope of breaking Russia’s will. For Russia, the true goal would not be to end the battle quickly but to significantly weaken Ukraine’s defense of the heartland and to encourage forces planned for the offensive to form into large units. The next step would be massive airstrikes on the concentrations using drones. The key would be the generation of military targets for air attack, followed by a massive, decisive infantry attack into the heartland (the type Russia should have opened with).

How not to innovate: Russia plays catch-up to Ukraine on drones


A Russian soldier prepares an Orlan-10 scout drone for flight over Ukraine in 2022 (Russian Ministry of Defense photo via Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON — Drones have proved decisive in fights across Ukraine, with countless videos of destruction flooding social media. Both sides rely on unmanned aircraft, especially cheap off-the-shelf quadcopters, to scout for targets and to strike them — but Russia has had a harder time adapting than Ukraine, according to a recently released report from the Center for Naval Analyses.

The irony is Moscow started out ahead. In 2014, Russian-built drones like the 35-pound, 75-mile-range Orlan-10 pinpointed poorly prepared Ukrainian units for devastating artillery strikes, while Russian jammers blinded Ukrainian communications and reconnaissance. But since then, Ukrainian troops have gotten much better, thanks to a heady brew of Western aid, off-the-shelf technology, and home-grown, bottom-up innovation.

Meanwhile, Russia has struggled to get out of its own way, with grass-roots civilian groups fighting to get imported Chinese quadcopters past the Soviet-style bureaucracy to the troops in the field, while only Iran is willing to sell Moscow military-grade models. Drone warfare has become a microcosm of the military, economic, and cultural differences between the warring sides.

“Three important things happened,” said Samuel Bendett, a CNA Russia expert who co-authored the report, told Breaking Defense in an email:“The absolutely rapid and explosive growth of commercial drone technology makes it cheap, easy and affordable to acquire commercial-type quadcopters and FPV [First-Person View] drones in very large numbers.

“The Russian military’s acquisition cycle and its research and development cycle have not caught up with this commercial technology. Simply put, the Russian MOD [Ministry of Defense] remains a very large, bureaucratic, top-heavy and overburdened apparatus that takes a long while to move in the right direction.

“The unprecedented degree of openness on social media like Telegram has enabled an open and candid discourse on how the Russian military conducted this invasion. The whole story of why volunteer organizations stepped up to assist so quickly, and why the MOD has not officially interfered with them, is something we will be studying for years.”

Will US Treasury Bonds Default? – Analysis

Wei Hongxu

The controversy surrounding the U.S. debt ceiling increase has intensified recently as the deadline for potential default draws near. Despite multiple rounds of negotiations, the U.S. government and Congress have yet to reach a final agreement on raising the debt ceiling. Consequently, the possibility of a government default has become a focal point in the capital markets and international economy. On May 24, Fitch Ratings, one of the major credit rating agencies, downgraded the outlook for the U.S. sovereign debt rating from AAA to negative, expressing concerns about the prospects of reaching a consensus on the debt ceiling.

Although the U.S. debt ceiling issue is fundamentally a technical matter related to the country’s finances, it has become increasingly politicized. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives currently seeks to tie the increase in the debt ceiling to deficit reduction, using it as a political tool to weaken the governing power of the Democratic Party. Conversely, the Democrats argue that the U.S. government’s long-term deficits and debt expansion are longstanding problems, not solely attributable to the current Democratic administration. They highlight the historical trend of debt expansion, including significant borrowing during the previous Republican administration under ex-President Donald Trump to finance increased spending. Accordingly, the Democrats advocate for an unconditional increase in the debt ceiling. In the highly divided U.S. political landscape, where the two parties struggle to reconcile, both sides seize this opportunity for political maneuvering, making it unlikely that an agreement will be reached until the last moment. This outcome is not entirely surprising, as many analysts have already deemed the annual debt ceiling spectacle largely without significance, as Fitch Ratings affirmed.

However, as the approaching date of June 1, referred to as the “X-date”, is drawing near, researchers at ANBOUND believe that if both parties struggle to effectively control the progress, the U.S. may unexpectedly face a technical default on its debt. This uncontrolled situation could trigger market turmoil, causing concerns across various sectors. Especially in the context of severe partisan confrontation, the prospects of cooperation and mutual understanding between the two sides are not optimistic. This is one of the factors considered by Fitch Ratings when adjusting the rating outlook. The agency states, “The brinkmanship over the debt ceiling, failure of the U.S. authorities to meaningfully tackle medium-term fiscal challenges that will lead to rising budget deficits and a growing debt burden signal downside risks to U.S. creditworthiness”.

Biden’s five mistakes in Ukraine

Marwan Bishara

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, much has been said about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s miscalculations. Last October, I wrote about Putin’s vanity and megalomania which led him to overestimate Russian military capabilities, underestimate Ukrainian capacity for resistance, and miscalculate NATO’s unity and America’s strategic resolve.

But the Russian president is not the only one making bad judgements with devastating consequences in Ukraine and beyond.

As the war drags on with no end in sight, it is important to address US President Joe Biden’s – and his Western allies’ – miscalculations in Ukraine as well. These, unsurprisingly, mirror Russia’s own failures, as both leaders prove incapable of learning the lessons of imperial hubris.

From the start, Biden took the moral high ground, framing the conflict in Ukraine as a global one between democracy and autocracy, between respect for international law and national sovereignty and the scourge of Russian aggression. Yet, he pleaded with world autocrats to join the crusade and disregarded America’s own illegal wars.

He underestimated the power of Russian nationalism and rejected Moscow’s fears of NATO expansion towards its borders as baseless excuses for Russian imperialism.

In the months leading up to the war, Biden undermined efforts to implement the Minsk agreements signed in 2014 and 2015 to end the conflict in the Donbas region. They were meant to pave the way for the creation of two autonomous Russian areas in eastern Ukraine and stave off the expansion of Russian intervention in the country.

Both Ukraine and Russia had signed on, but France and Germany, which helped conclude and refine these agreements, failed to push hard enough for their implementation. Despite having much to lose from a devastating European war, European powers did little to stop the escalation.

The opposition chose the wrong candidate and ran a poor campaign.

Sinan Ciddi

Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s loss against incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should be seen as a loss not only for the people of Turkey but for democracy worldwide. It is difficult to see the silver lining from Erdogan’s 52-48 percent victory against Kilicdaroglu, and Turkey is likely to slip further into authoritarian, even autocratic rule. On a systemic level, Erdogan’s victory adds credence to the view that removing authoritarian leaders by elections is less than likely. Expectations that Erdogan would lose the presidency ran high in early 2023. How do we explain this electoral upset, given that Erdogan presided over widespread economic mismanagement, corruption, and undemocratic governance?

For a large part, the uncomfortable truth is that Erdogan won because Kemal Kilicdaroglu was his opponent. The Nation Alliance, the opposition’s political coalition, chose to nominate Kilicdaroglu largely due to his insistence. The Republican People’s Party (CHP), under Kilicdaroglu and since 2010 conducted primaries to select parliamentary candidates. For some reason, Kilicdaroglu’s own nomination as the opposition candidate was not determined by party members. It was not even favored by all members of the Nation Alliance, causing Meral Aksener (leader of the Good Party), to briefly abandon her coalition partners.

Put simply, Kilicdaroglu’s nomination was imposed from the top, with little to no deliberation. Was there a better candidate? Polling suggests as much: ahead of his nomination, these consistently indicated that Kilicdaroglu was not the best candidate to defeat Erdogan, who continuously trailed the more popular candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, the CHP’s mayor of Istanbul. This option was railroaded over due to concerns that if Imamoglu had been nominated he would have been banned from running, owing to a lawsuit that was pending against him. This is true, but if had been nominated and banned by the courts, Kilicdaroglu would still have had the opportunity to become the candidate as his successor. It was pure political greed on the part of Kilicdaroglu to insist on his own nomination, and it has cost Turkey dearly.