4 June 2023

Can India’s Military Drone Ecosystem Fulfill its Potential?


Over the last few years, the Indian armed forces have stepped up the procurement of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, primarily for the purposes of surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, logistics, and precision strikes. The ongoing border standoff with China has provided a further impetus to this process. The Army recently ordered nearly 2000 drones to enhance its surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities along the India-China border and transport supplies to forward posts. It is further seeking drones to direct artillery fire, aiming to augment the accuracy and efficiency of its artillery systems deployed along the border.

The Indian armed forces see drones as a necessary force multiplier and intend to acquire several more in the coming years for a wide range of applications. This presents an opportunity for India to build up its military drone ecosystem. While India’s drone start-ups are increasingly able to equip the armed forces, unlocking the potential of India’s military drone ecosystem will require it to be sufficiently nurtured. It will also require the quick resolution of some key issues.


Although India’s drone industry is still in its infancy, it has grown rapidly over the last three years, and drone start-ups have been at the heart of this growth. While most of India’s 300-odd drone start-ups are geared toward civilian uses, a few make military drones as well. Besides this, some start-ups have developed dual-use drones, which meet both civilian and military requirements. For instance, a logistics drone that can be used to transport a package within a city can also be used to dispatch supplies to soldiers on the frontline.

Indian defense start-ups have the capacity to supply a range of military-grade drones to the armed forces. The Indian Army has already placed orders with start-ups such as ideaForge and Raphe mPhibr for drones to conduct surveillance and transport cargo in high-altitude areas along India’s borders. Moreover, another start-up, NewSpace Research & Technologies, is providing the Army with its first offensive swarm drone system. Here, a group of drones communicate with one another and work in tandem to hit targets, much like a swarm of insects. Although these orders indicate that an ecosystem for military drones is gradually being built, there is still a need to cultivate it further.

Pakistan in Crisis: Imran Khan vs. the Army Chief

Ayesha Siddiqa

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, center, leaves after appearing in a court, in Lahore

People in Pakistan and around the world have been sitting on the edge of their seats for months, and especially since May 9, watching intently the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s political contest with the army. There was hardly an eyebrow that didn’t lift on seeing his supporters damage military properties and attempt to forcibly enter the Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) in protest against their leader’s arrest for an inquiry in a corruption case.

Scenes of people ransacking and torching military buildings or memorabilia are not common in Pakistan, where the armed forces have been the protagonist in power politics for decades. But after all the drama, the Khan saga seems to be moving toward a happy ending for the politically powerful army, popularly referred as the establishment.

The army turned to an old playbook: cut a recalcitrant politician down to size by attacking both the leadership and the party. The May 9 chaos has now turned into a crisis for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as leader after leader is either leaving the party or politics altogether. We may soon see a situation where Khan is proverbially alone – a king without a party.

What is happening in Pakistan is partly a replay of the country’s almost 76-year history and partly unprecedented. Since Pakistan’s geographical-strategic consolidation after the 1971 war with India, in which the eastern wing separated and became Bangladesh, the events of May 9 represented the biggest popular outpouring of anger against the Pakistani military. Though Imran Khan now wants to walk away from the May 9 developments and is even suggesting that his party leadership was not involved in creating chaos following his arrest, the scenes of people barging into a lieutenant general’s house in Lahore and the Army’s GHQ, or pulling down old aircraft memorabilia, denoted fury against years of the military’s overt and covert control of state and society.

Is the new Taliban reign less extreme than it was in 2001?

Marc Martorell Junyent

August 2021 saw the Taliban return to power in Afghanistan after a two-decade hiatus.

Soon after the Taliban takeover, a key question emerged: were the Taliban the same kind of group that had imposed a reign of terror between 1996 and 2001, organizing public executions in football stadiums, secluding women at home, and forbidding music and cinema? Or had the Taliban somewhat moderated their extreme positions, aware that a return to their former practices would antagonize major sectors of the population and condemn Afghanistan to international isolation?

By the time Hassan Abbas, a professor at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, completed the manuscript of his book “The Return of the Taliban: Afghanistan after the Americans Left,” the Taliban had been ruling Afghanistan for over a year and a half. Abbas, drawing on his knowledge of Afghan politics and an impressive network of sources inside and outside Afghanistan, reaches a mixed verdict when assessing whether it is possible to speak of a “New Taliban.” In his view, it is uncertain whether the current version of the Taliban can, in contrast to its first period in power, behave as a less extremist movement prepared to make limited compromises.

Abbas sees the current Taliban as a group with at least two different souls. As he puts it, “there are two hands directing the show, only with different scripts.” This factionalism within the Taliban could be glimpsed in May 2022 when the leader of the movement, Hibaitullah Akhunzada, decreed that women must wear a burqa, a garment that fully covers the body and face of women. Two months earlier, he had announced that girls over sixth grade would not be allowed to go to school. Some of the more pragmatic Taliban in the ruling circle reportedly voiced their discontent in private. Muted dissent among some Taliban cabinet members was also the response when women were banned from attending university and working for international organizations in December 2022. Considering this, one could argue that there are indeed two scripts within the Taliban, but the hardline one is clearly coming out on top so far.

Instability in Pakistan increases risks for UAE, Saudi Arabia

Harry Clynch

Since Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted from office in a no-confidence vote last April, the country has been embroiled in both a political and economic crisis. Volatility in Pakistani politics reached a zenith this month after the arrest of Khan on corruption charges, sparking violence in major cities across the country.

The uproar has caused concern among Pakistan’s allies in the Gulf, particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, which have both previously pledged financial support for Pakistan as it battles extreme economic turbulence.

Partly fueling the political chaos in Pakistan is the country’s severe economic situation. Inflation has recently hit a record high of 35.4%. The Pakistani rupee has lost half its value against the US dollar in the last year alone. Perhaps most seriously for the government, Pakistan is facing an external debt crisis.

In December 2022, Islamabad’s external liabilities stood at over $126 billion. Amid an environment of higher interest rates and a stronger greenback, these dollar-denominated debts have become more expensive to service. Particularly as the country’s foreign exchange reserves dwindle — the State Bank of Pakistan announced in December that its foreign exchange reserves had fallen to a four-year low of just $6.7 billion — there are increasing concerns that Islamabad will default on its debts.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been in discussions with Pakistan over a bailout package to avoid a default. In 2019, Pakistan signed a $6 billion deal with the IMF, with a further $1 billion agreed a year later. However, the IMF has refused to release the first payment of $1.1 billion until the organization receives guarantees that Pakistan’s international allies — particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and China — are prepared to back Islamabad financially as well.

Mohammed Sohail, CEO of Topline Securities, a brokerage house in Karachi, told Al-Monitor that such demands are a normal part of the process but raised doubts as to whether the UAE and other allies will be prepared to offer further funds given the escalating political crisis.

Who Are the Taliban Now?

Steve Coll

Nearly two years after the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul, the UN refers to the regime only as “the de facto authorities,” to avoid any hint of formal recognition of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban call their government. By any name, the Taliban today control Afghanistan’s territory, as well as federal ministries and local administrations. They also preside over a nation in severe crisis. Food insecurity haunts at least half of the population; a country shattered by more than four decades of war again faces the shadow of famine.

A succession of edicts by Taliban clerics has disrupted the delivery of vital international aid. The Taliban have forbidden girls and women from attending school beyond sixth grade and from working for NGOs, prompting dozens of international aid groups to suspend or reduce operations. In April the Taliban extended their work ban to the four hundred Afghan women employed by the UN, a decision that threatens about $3 billion in annual food, medical, and other humanitarian assistance. (The US and other wealthy donor nations funnel their Afghan aid mainly through UN agencies, to prevent the Taliban from controlling the funds.)

The Biden administration and European governments have many quarrels with the Taliban, but the regime’s policies denying education and work to women lie at the heart of the current emergency over international aid. “This extreme situation of institutionalised gender-based discrimination in Afghanistan is unparalleled anywhere in the world,” Richard Bennett, the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in Afghanistan, and Dorothy Estrada-Tanck, chair of a UN working group on gender discrimination, reported in May, after an eight-day visit to the country. The Taliban’s practices amounted to an “apparent…crime against humanity,” they concluded.
The Taliban’s position is that their gender policies are an internal matter and that shielding Afghan women from foreign-run workplaces is necessary to prevent sin.

Emulating Russia, China Is Improving Its Ability to Operate in the Gray Zone

Colin P. Clarke

While the United States and its allies struggle with operating in the gray zone – competition between peacetime and war – the West’s adversaries, including China and Russia, have no such issue. Russia has long been comfortable exploiting non-kinetic actions to advance its interests vis-à-vis its rivals and now Beijing is emulating Moscow, leveraging asymmetric means that include offensive cyber operations and disinformation campaigns designed to press the advantage without evoking a counterattack from its rivals.

Last week, Microsoft announced that it had uncovered a malicious cyberattack emanating from China dubbed Volt Typhoon, which was launched with the objective of disrupting critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia in the midst of a potential future crisis. Western intelligence agencies have determined with significant confidence that the hacking campaign is state-backed and operated by elite hacking units within China’s military.

In order to advance its national interests, China relies on a range of gray zone tactics, non-military activities that span geopolitical, economic, and actions in and through the information environment. These tactics can be executed at multiple levels, including international, bilateral, or as part of grassroots campaigns in target countries through direct action or via proxies and clients. Cyberattacks are becoming a weapon of choice for many countries, favored for their anonymity or difficulty with ascertaining attribution or responsibility, hallmark characteristics of gray zone operations, the digital equivalent of “little green men.” Chinese cyberattacks are the non-kinetic equivalent of a weapons test, an initial probe to see how its targets respond. The target’s response is then used to calibrate future action plans.

And while cyberattacks are nothing new, analyzing China’s pattern of behavior over the past several years shows a clear indication that China is attempting to replicate Russia’s playbook against the West, operating outside of the margins of formal conflict and obfuscating its true intentions in an effort to frustrate a Western response. Beijing went a step further in the recent incident, not just denying responsibility for the hacking campaign but gaslighting the United States, with China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning commenting, “Apparently, this has been a collective disinformation campaign launched by the U.S. through the Five Eyes to serve its geopolitical agenda. It’s widely known that the Five Eyes is the world’s biggest intelligence association, and the NSA the world’s biggest hacking group.” The denial was unsurprising, as China typically answers accusations of espionage with deflections, as occurred after high-profile economic espionage cases, incidents of hacking efforts against U.S. vaccine production during the pandemic, and most recently following the spy balloon scandal that brought tensions between China and the U.S. to the forefront.

To Compete with China, Promote Internet Freedom from Space

Luke Hogg

In June 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally designated Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE as national security threats, effectively banning their equipment in the United States. “We cannot treat Huawei and ZTE as anything less than a threat to our collective security,” commented FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. “America has turned the page on the weak and timid approach to Communist China of the past … and our efforts will not stop here.”

Now, the world is facing a new threat from telecom providers backed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But this time the threat resides not in cell phone towers, but in low-earth orbit.

The satellite internet industry has experienced a boom in recent years and competition is beginning to heat up. The CCP has selected its national champion and plans to launch nearly 13,000 satellites, with the intent of further expanding its influence in the developing world. If the United States and its allies are to counterbalance China’s growing influence and promote internet freedom internationally, it is imperative that the U.S. create a regulatory ecosystem that fosters domestic competition in satellite internet.

Less than a decade ago, satellite internet networks offered relatively spotty, low-speed service that was ill-fitted for mass commercial uptake. But in 2019, SpaceX’s Starlink was the first to take a new approach. Rather than operating a low number of high-flying satellites as others had done, SpaceX took advantage of declining launch costs, thanks in part to its successful Falcon 9, to begin launching constellations consisting of a large number of satellites in low-earth orbit (LEO). These new LEO satellite internet networks have proven to be a gamechanger, offering consumers service with higher throughput, lower latency, and more global coverage than older networks.

With nearly 3,500 active satellites and more than 1 million subscribers, Starlink is reaping the benefits of being the first mover. But it isn’t the only project vying for this growing market. London-based OneWeb has nearly completed the first phase of its satellite constellation and projects that it will have global coverage by the end of the year. Amazon’s Project Kuiper plans to launch its first satellites early next year and to begin providing services to consumers soon after.

China and Russia's Growing BRICS Bloc Speeds Decline of U.S. Influence


As the United States struggles to maintain influence across vast parts of the Global South, the expanding BRICS bloc led by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is receiving more applications than ever before, signaling a growing shift in the international economic order.

The top diplomats of the five core BRICS nations began their latest high-level meeting Thursday in Cape Town, South Africa, a prelude to the 15th annual leaders' summit scheduled to take place in Durban, on the country's eastern coast, in August. Long dismissed by Western analysts as a mere multilateral marriage of convenience, this year's BRICS gatherings serve as an opportunity to discuss how far the group has come and where its future lies amid growing calls to challenge the Western-led global financial system and the U.S. dollar.

But Anil Sooklal, a veteran diplomat who serves as South Africa's ambassador-at-large to BRICS, asserts that "BRICS is not a group of countries that is in opposition to any particular grouping."

"We would like to cooperate with all of our global partners both in the Global North and South to collectively address some of the challenges that we are facing," Sooklal told Newsweek, "in terms of reforming the global governance architecture, to make it more inclusive, more equitable, and more just and fair, which many of us continue to feel that it's not."

And while Sooklal identified a number of factors driving this inequality, including climate change, the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing global technology gap, he argued that deficiencies in the existing order led by the wealthiest nations was at the heart of why more countries were choosing BRICS.

"We see an erosion of the global multilateral architecture," Sooklal said, "unilateral measures, unilateral sanctions becoming the norm of the day, an uneven global architecture, and countries wanting to have a greater say in terms of how the new evolving global order pans out."

"So, I think these are some of the areas that finds attraction with countries from the Global South who increasingly want to identify with the BRICS group," he added.

Elon Musk tears up the decoupling script in China


As the global economic intelligentsia debates how to “decouple” or “de-risk” from China, Elon Musk clearly didn’t get the memo.

The Tesla founder was feted like a returning king in Beijing this week. From the moment his private jet arrived on Tuesday, Musk is reportedly being called “Brother Ma,” putting him in rarified league with Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma.

There are many takeaways from Musk’s first China visit in three years. One is that not everyone is decoupling from China, least of all the globe’s most influential electric vehicle (EV) evangelist and owner of Twitter. Another: the future of EV production and innovation is shifting toward Asia’s biggest economy.

Yet the most important one may be how Beijing is putting out a huge welcome mat for foreign chieftains – from Musk to JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon – to signal that China really is open for business again.

The perception that China is becoming hostile toward foreign capital intensified after Ma ran afoul of Xi Jinping’s regulators in late 2020.

In March, China’s leader installed a new premier, Li Qiang, to take the lead in changing that narrative. And what better way than Musk visiting China and reaffirming his commitment to producing more Teslas in mainland factories?

Of course, Li and Ma go way back. It was Li, back in his days as Shanghai party boss, who lobbied Musk to open a Tesla “gigafactory” in the city. The facility, which opened in April 2022, was Tesla’s first outside the US.

Now, here is Musk, controversial as he is, hinting at an even bigger production presence in China. In 2022, Tesla contributed roughly one-quarter of Shanghai’s overall total automotive production.

China warns of artificial intelligence risks, calls for beefed-up national security measures

China’s ruling Communist Party has warned of the risks posed by advances in artificial intelligence while calling for heightened national security measures.

The statement issued after a meeting Tuesday chaired by party leader and President Xi Jinping underscores the tension between the government’s determination to seize global leadership in cutting-edge technology and concerns about the possible social and political harms of such technologies.

It also followed a warning by scientists and tech industry leaders in the U.S., including high-level executives at Microsoft and Google, about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind.

The meeting in Beijing discussed the need for “dedicated efforts to safeguard political security and improve the security governance of internet data and artificial intelligence,” the official Xinhua News Agency said.

“It was stressed at the meeting that the complexity and severity of national security problems faced by our country have increased dramatically. The national security front must build up strategic self-confidence, have enough confidence to secure victory, and be keenly aware of its own strengths and advantages,” Xinhua said.

“We must be prepared for worst-case and extreme scenarios, and be ready to withstand the major test of high winds, choppy waters and even dangerous storms,” it said.

Xi, who is China’s head of state, commander of the military and chair of the party’s National Security Commission, called at the meeting for “staying keenly aware of the complicated and challenging circumstances facing national security.”

China needs a “new pattern of development with a new security architecture,” Xinhua reported Xi as saying.

Words and policies: “De-risking” and China policy

Paul Gewirtz 

The Group of Seven (G-7) countries have recently agreed on a central part of their economic approach to China — “de-risking” — and, just as importantly, “de-risking, not decoupling.” This phrase originated with the European Union, so the agreement seems wide.

“De-coupling” any major country’s economy from China was always impossible and sounds harshly radical, but it’s been a commonly used and divisive word in China policy circles. The word “de-risking” sounds considerably more moderate, makes intuitive sense, and has now produced a highly publicized consensus on China policy among a large variety of different countries.

But in reality, the word “de-risking” is extremely ambiguous and its meaning uncertain. The word itself tells us very little about China policy. Its scope all depends on how the word is interpreted. Very likely, different countries will interpret and apply “de-risking” differently, creating divergence and not consensus — in some countries producing a modest scope of economic separation, in some potentially a policy similar to “de-coupling.”

There are three parts to the massive uncertainty about what “de-risking” means and the likely divergences in its application.

First, what does the “de” in “de-risking” mean? Some leading dictionaries define “de-risking” as “to eliminate risk” or “to remove risk.” Others define it as “reducing the possibility that something bad will happen” or making something “less risky.” The U.S. State Department in a non-China context defines “de-risking” as “to avoid, rather than manage, risk.”

These different definitions would produce very different “de-risking” policies. If you define the de-risking goal with China as “eliminating” the relevant risks, rather than “reducing” them, you will take far more sweeping actions.

The second major uncertainty is what counts as a relevant risk. Even if you define de-risking as reducing rather than eliminating risk, the potential scope of de-risking and the degree of economic separation from China depends on what problems are treated as relevant risks.

ITOW: PRC Anti-Espionage Law

The “In Their Own Words” series is dedicated to translations of Chinese documents in order to help non-Mandarin speaking audiences access and understand Chinese thinking. CASI would like to thank all of those involved in this effort.

In the “In Their Own Words” series, CASI and its collaborators aim to provide Chinese texts that illustrate thoughtful, clearly articulated, authoritative foreign perspectives on approaches to warfare at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.

This translation and publication does not constitute approval by any U.S. Government organization of the contents, inferences, findings and conclusions contained therein. Publication is solely for the exchange and stimulation of ideas.

Ukraine war blurs lines between cyber-crims and state-sponsored attackers

Jeff Burt

A change in the deployment of the RomCom malware strain has illustrated the blurring distinction between cyberattacks motivated by money and those fueled by geopolitics, in this case Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, according to Trend Micro analysts.

The infosec vendor pointed out that RomCom's operators, threat group Void Rabisu, also has links to the notorious Cuba ransomware, and therefore assessed it was assumed to be a financially driven criminal organization.

But in a report published this week, the researchers wrote that Void Rabisu used RomCom against the Ukraine government and military as well as water, energy, and financial entities in the country.

Outside of Ukraine, targets included a local government group helping Ukrainian refugees, a defense company in Europe, IT service providers in the US and the EU, and a bank in South America. There also were campaigns against people attending various events including the Masters of Digital and Munich Security conferences.
The evolution of RomCom

The usage pattern seems to have started shifting last autumn.

One campaign inside of Ukraine used a fraudulent version of the Ukrainian army's DELTA situational awareness website to lure victims into downloading RomCom through improperly patched browsers.

"Normally, this kind of brazen attack would be thought to be the work of a nation state-sponsored actor, but in this case, the indicators clearly pointed towards Void Rabisu, and some of the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used were typically associated with cybercrime," Trend's researchers wrote.

The firm has been tracking Void Rabisu since mid-2022 and believes the gang has added evasion techniques to make it more difficult for security tools to detect the malware. The gang has also used fake websites that appear to promote real or fake software – including ChatGPT, Go To Meeting, AstraChat, KeePass, and Veeam – to entice victims into downloading malicious code.

Two Visions of Digital Sovereignty

Sujit Raman 

If bipartisan agreement in the United States is rare, in at least one area, it is increasingly clear: “economic security is national security.” As global events have pushed Europe and the United States closer together, the convergence of these concepts—both at home and abroad—has begun shifting the tenor of the long-turbulent transatlantic relationship.

Consider cross-border data flows. In the recent past, issues concerning digital trade and digital security—from who creates, derives value from, and accesses data, to how it is shared, where it’s stored, and for how long—gave rise to considerable friction and persistent misunderstanding. Today, those same issues provide glimpses of opportunities for transatlantic collaboration and the development of mutual trust.

The good news is that policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic appear to recognize the possibilities of a moment in which digital commerce issues run parallel to, and perhaps even coterminously with, digital security issues, and in which the two can be mutually reinforcing. (If nothing else, the recent record 1.2 billion euro fine against Meta should accelerate implementation of the new EU-U.S. Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework (TDPF).)

But if momentum on transatlantic data issues is to last over the long run, at least one concept popular in recent European policy discourse will need to be reimagined. That concept—“immunity to non-EU law”—refers to the idea that any private-sector entity, in order to be entrusted with storing sensitive EU data, must be subject exclusively to EU jurisdiction and, therefore, must be “independent” of the concurrent reach (including for legitimate law enforcement purposes) of any foreign sovereign’s law.

This immunity concept is integral to a pending EU cybersecurity proposal that also would require the localization of sensitive data within Europe and would impose strict citizenship and control requirements on qualifying cloud service providers (CSPs). Typically justified in security terms, such provisions would subject the relevant data to heightened, rather than diminished, cybersecurity risk. And by “practically excluding American and other international cloud providers”—including, perhaps unwittingly, the leading EU-based providers, as well—“from the EU market,” these requirements would have a hard-edged commercial impact. Most importantly, the contemplated immunity requirements could have a catastrophic impact on transatlantic data flows generally and on the TDPF specifically. At bottom, “immunity to non-EU law” is an artifact of the not-too-distant past in which “digital sovereignty” essentially meant digital autarky and in which ideas regarding digital commerce and digital security mixed in confused, often misinformed ways—usually to the detriment of both.

Western Industrial Policy and International Law


NEW YORK – With the enactment last year of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the United States fully joined the rest of the world’s advanced economies in combating climate change. The IRA authorizes a major increase in spending to support renewable energy, research and development, and other priorities, and if estimates about its effects are anywhere near correct, the impact on the climate will be significant.

True, the design of the law is not ideal. Any economist could have drafted a bill that would deliver much more bang for the buck. But US politics is messy, and success must be measured against what is possible, rather than some lofty ideal. Despite the IRA’s imperfections, it is far better than nothing. Climate change was never going to wait for America to get its political house in order.

Together with last year’s CHIPS and Science Act – which aims to support investment, domestic manufacturing, and innovation in semiconductors and a range of other cutting-edge technologies – the IRA has pointed the US in the right direction. It moves beyond finance to focus on the real economy, where it should help to reinvigorate lagging sectors.

Those who focus solely on the IRA’s imperfections are doing us all a disservice. By refusing to put the issue in perspective, they are aiding and abetting the vested interests that would prefer for us to remain dependent on fossil fuels.

Chief among the naysayers are defenders of neoliberalism and unfettered markets. We can thank that ideology for the past 40 years of weak growth, rising inequality, and inaction against the climate crisis. Its proponents have always argued vehemently against industrial policies like the IRA, even after new developments in economic theory explained why such policies have been necessary to promote innovation and technological change.

To Protect Europe, Let Ukraine Join NATO—Right Now

Andriy Zagorodnyuk

In July, the heads of NATO’s 31 countries will convene in Vilnius, Lithuania, for a summit—their fourth one since Russia invaded Ukraine. Like each of the last three, the proceedings will be dominated by how to address the conflict. The countries’ leaders will consider what Kyiv needs to keep fighting and what their states can offer. They will welcome Finland, which joined in April, prompted by the invasion. They will discuss Sweden’s pending application. They have invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, so they will discuss Ukraine’s bid as well. If past is prologue, they will affirm that Kyiv is on track to join the organization.

“All NATO allies have agreed that Ukraine will become a member,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in April. “Ukraine’s future is in NATO.”

Ukrainians, however, have heard that many times before. For the better part of the last two decades, Kyiv has sought NATO membership. And for the better part of the last two decades, NATO has left it twisting in the wind. In 2008, the alliance promised to eventually let Ukraine in, but it has never seriously considered Kyiv’s application. Instead, it first concluded that admitting the country was not worth the damage to Western-Russian relations. Then, after the Kremlin annexed Crimea in 2014, NATO decided that Ukraine’s membership would demand too much of the alliance and for too little in return.

But that was before Russia launched its full-scale invasion. In the 15 months since, everything has changed. The West’s ties with Russia have rapidly unraveled. NATO states began pumping Ukraine full of military aid. Kyiv has used this assistance to halt Russia’s attacks and push the country back. It has forced the Kremlin to burn through ammunition and gear at an astounding rate, degrading Russia’s overall strength. In doing so, Ukraine proved that it is not a drain on NATO but, in fact, an incredible asset. NATO exists to help protect Europe, and since Moscow’s invasion began, no other state has done more to keep Europe safe.

Will the US succeed in starving China of semiconductors?

William Yang

As the US and its allies increase efforts to restrict China's access to advanced semiconductor chips, experts say the measures could impact Beijing's development. But they will also cause collateral damage to US firms.

China's semiconductor industry is facing renewed pressure from the United States and its allies after Japan announced on May 23 that it would impose export restrictions on 23 types of chipmaking technology, including advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

The measure will come into effect in July.

The move comes after the US and the Netherlands introduced similar measures in recent months as Washington and its allies try to limit China's access to advanced semiconductor chips and equipment.

Last October, the US government introduced a series of export controls on advanced semiconductor chips. Since then, Washington has been lobbying the Netherlands and Japan to join its efforts to limit the development of China's semiconductor sector.
How did China react to the move?

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Chinese Commerce Department said Beijing "strongly opposed" Tokyo's decision to impose export control on items related to advanced semiconductor manufacturing, saying the move goes against free trade and international trade regulations and it's an abuse of export control measures.

Some Chinese semiconductor industry executives have expressed concern over the potential impact of Japan's measures and experts said they will "stifle" China's attempt to develop new processes to manufacture advanced semiconductor chips in the future.

"The development of China's semiconductor industry will likely be limited to the 14 nanometers (nm) process, and it will be more difficult for China to move beyond this standard in the future as they won't be able to get advanced equipment from Japan, the US or the Netherlands," Pei-Chen Liu, an expert on the semiconductor industry in Asia Pacific at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, told DW.

Ukraine War May Become a Proving Ground for AI

James Stavridis

James Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. A retired U.S. Navy admiral, former supreme allied commander of NATO, and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, he is vice chairman of global affairs at the Carlyle Group. He is on the boards of American Water Works, Fortinet, PreVeil, NFP, Ankura Consulting Group, Titan Holdings, Michael Baker and Neuberger Berman, and has advised Shield Capital, a firm that invests in the cybersecurity sector. @stavridisj

Artificial intelligence is, suddenly, everywhere. We are awash in ideas about how we can use AI productively — from agriculture to climate change to engineering to software construction. And, equally, there are plenty of cautionary notes being struck about using AI to control societies, manipulate economies, defeat commercial opponents, and generally fulfill Arthur C. Clarke’s visions of machines dominating man in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Thus far, however, relatively little has been written about the implications of AI on warfare and geopolitics. For better and worse, those arenas also lend themselves to a variety of ways in which new technologies can suddenly break apart paradigms. Think of Agincourt in 1415, a medieval battle in which the flower of the French nobility — sporting the key technology of that age, plate armor — were slaughtered at long range through an emerging technology, English longbowmen led by King Henry V. Military technology — submarines, radar, sonar, nuclear weapons — can change the global balance in an instant.

Are we at such a moment with AI? Perhaps. A good point of comparison might be the advent of nuclear weapons, when the most experienced warrior of his age, General Douglas MacArthur, saw the atomic bombs used on Japan and said simply that “warfare is changed forever.” Yet the hand-to-hand combat in Ukraine, the dug-in Russian forces in their extensive trenches awaiting the promised Ukrainian summer offensive, and the endless artillery duels between the two sides all seem oh-so-19th century, frankly.

Thinking About Post-War Ukraine

Henrik Larsen

As the war in Ukraine continues, it is not too early to consider the significant financial assistance that will be required to help Ukraine recover, once the war comes to an end. Henrik Larsen lays out a road map for how to ensure that post-war Ukraine can function as a bulwark against Russia, including imposing clear and measurable conditions for aid.

The transatlantic West has a significant interest in ensuring that Ukraine prevails in Russia’s war of aggression. As the West shows unprecedented levels of solidarity, it is the supply of weapons — which types and how many — that occupies most of the debate about how to best support Ukraine. However, it is not too soon to evaluate the enormous funding that Western countries are committing to give Ukraine in order to ensure that it can continue to function as a state under the considerable duress of war and that it will be able to recover. Macro-financial assistance and the costs of reconstruction may exceed $1 trillion, depending on how long the war will continue and how much further destruction it will cause.

Such a significant financial commitment requires Western supporters to consider how they can achieve a transformed post-war Ukraine that can function as a bulwark against Russian imperialism anchored inside the European Union. In such a scenario, Ukraine would need to embrace the rule of law and start to generate significant economic growth that would enable it to become self-sustaining, rather than in perpetual need of external subsidies. Political realism should guide this thinking. Ukraine’s track record since the 2014 Euromaidan revolution shows the necessity of tackling the fundamental problem of backlashes against reforms. It also highlights that, when it comes to the most crucial issues, the country’s elites have sought to undermine their official commitments to reform. Ukraine surely hopes to avoid the tragic fates of Turkey and the Western Balkan countries, whose prospects of joining the European Union after 15 to 25 years of waiting appear slim.

Making Ukraine’s political-financial elites give up their power base begins with recognizing that supporting Ukraine does not ensure a convergence of interest in transforming its domestic governance. What Ukraine needs is not enhanced technical advice, but conditions that are linked to the enormous financial assistance it will be receiving in the coming years. Western sponsors need a more dedicated and targeted plan for overcoming domestic resistance to change. This will require honesty in both diagnosing the problems and identifying the cure. The key challenge is how to tighten the financial bolts sufficiently and consistently enough over time to prevent backlashes against reform. Tough love, in other words, is needed to make sure that elite incentives do not deviate from an official commitment to economic liberalization and the rule of law.1

Defense AI Observatory (DAIO)

Satellite Data Could Boost Border Security, Disaster Response


ST. LOUIS—Data should join radios, flashlight, and maps as indispensable tools in disaster response and border operations, Department of Homeland Security leaders say.

“It's not always conducive to operations to just give somebody a radio. I also need to be able to see where they're at,” said Dan Steadman, the acting assistant chief for U.S. Border Patrol, during the GEOINT conference.

Steadman recalled the fatal shooting of a border patrol agent by a fellow agent in 2012. He said he heard shots fired over the radio, and he believes the death could have been prevented with the right technology and information, namely the Team Awareness Kit or Tactical Assault Kit, known as TAK.

If TAK were available in 2012, the agents “would have seen each other, they would have known where each other were, they would have been able to respond appropriately to the situation that was going on. Being able to respond to sensors, they would have had overall situational awareness and that increased officer safety,” he said.

Initially developed in 2010 for military use, TAK can be used via app or software plugin on Android or iOS devices, web browsers, and with virtual or augmented reality tech. So far, about 80 percent of CBP's 20,000 border patrol agents are trained to use TAK, Steadman said. But the expansion wasn’t easy.

“The buy-in was difficult to begin with, especially with agents who were just thinking, ‘Well, this is just big brother.’ We have proven that it is not just big brother. We have proven that this is a life saving technology that can help us,” he said.

DHS has expanded TAK’s use since 2018 to mobile devices and other accessories for every border patrol agent. And the agency would like to use geospatial intelligence and satellite imagery for better maps that can be used offline, Steadman said.

Ukraine-Russia border ‘demilitarised zone’ floated for peace deal

Adviser to Ukraine’s presidential office Mykhailo Podolyak said the demilitarised zone should be between 100-120km wide.

A demilitarised zone between 100 and 120 kilometres wide (62 to 75 miles) should be established in Russian border territory with Ukraine as part of any post-war settlement, an adviser to Ukraine’s presidential office has said.

Mykhailo Podolyak, the adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said the demilitarised zone should cover the Russian regions of Belgorod, Bryansk, Kursk and Rostov in order to protect adjacent territories in Ukraine.

“To ensure real security for residents of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions and protect them from shelling, it will be necessary to introduce a demilitarisation zone of 100-120km,” Podolyak wrote in a tweet on Monday.

Such a zone, which cannot be used or occupied by military forces, would likely require “a mandatory international control contingent at the first stage”, Podolyak said.

A demilitarised zone should be a “key topic” of a post-war settlement, said the presidential adviser, who has 1.2 million Twitter followers, adding that such a buffer would “prevent the recurrence of aggression in the future”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says there are detailed rules for the creation and recognition of demilitarised zones and the concept is not far removed from hospital zones and other areas deemed neutral during conflicts.

An aide to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also said on Monday that Ukraine had no interest in any ceasefire that locks in Russian territorial gains.

Chief diplomatic adviser Ihor Zhovkva also pushed back against international peace initiatives from China, Brazil, the Vatican and South Africa, saying that the time for mediation with Moscow had passed.

Winning the innovation war on cybersecurity


Advancements in technology like cloud computing, AI, and blockchain are creating new vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to exploit. To combat these challenges, banks must continually invest in cybersecurity innovation and remain vigilant in their efforts to detect and prevent cyberthreats.

Banks are prime targets for cybercriminals who are always looking for new ways to steal money, data, and customer information. Institutions are effectively in a constant battle of innovation, where banks need to continue to invest heavily, to predict and combat emerging threats from sophisticated criminals.

There are several factors driving the innovation battle in cybersecurity in banking. These include:The rise of new technologies, such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain, as it creates new vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit.
The increasing expansion and complexity of financial systems, which unfortunately makes them harder to secure.
The ever-increasing sophistication of cybercriminals and their ability to use the newest technology and advanced techniques to penetrate financial institutions.

To stay ahead of the curve, banks of all sizes need to invest in new technology, such as AI and machine learning. Training for their customers, employees, and future employees is also critical, as human error is often the cause of a cybersecurity breach.

Institutions should also consider working closely with relevant organisations at both a national and regional level, like the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA). They should embrace regulation, such as the Network and Information Systems Directive (NIS Directive), in a way that drives collaboration rather than stifling innovation.

A.I. Poses ‘Risk of Extinction,’ Industry Leaders Warn

Kevin Roose

A group of industry leaders warned on Tuesday that the artificial intelligence technology they were building might one day pose an existential threat to humanity and should be considered a societal risk on a par with pandemics and nuclear wars.

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from A.I. should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks, such as pandemics and nuclear war,” reads a one-sentence statement released by the Center for AI Safety, a nonprofit organization. The open letter was signed by more than 350 executives, researchers and engineers working in A.I.

The signatories included top executives from three of the leading A.I. companies: Sam Altman, chief executive of OpenAI; Demis Hassabis, chief executive of Google DeepMind; and Dario Amodei, chief executive of Anthropic.

Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio, two of the three researchers who won a Turing Award for their pioneering work on neural networks and are often considered “godfathers” of the modern A.I. movement, signed the statement, as did other prominent researchers in the field. (The third Turing Award winner, Yann LeCun, who leads Meta’s A.I. research efforts, had not signed as of Tuesday.)

The statement comes at a time of growing concern about the potential harms of artificial intelligence. Recent advancements in so-called large language models — the type of A.I. system used by ChatGPT and other chatbots — have raised fears that A.I. could soon be used at scale to spread misinformation and propaganda, or that it could eliminate millions of white-collar jobs.

A New Generation of Chatbots

Governing the Unknown


ITHACA, NEW YORK – Technology is changing the world faster than policymakers can devise new ways to cope with it. As a result, societies are becoming polarized, inequality is rising, and authoritarian regimes and corporations are doctoring reality and undermining democracy.

For ordinary people, there is ample reason to be “a little bit scared,” as OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently put it. Major advances in artificial intelligence raise concerns about education, work, warfare, and other risks that could destabilize civilization long before climate change does. To his credit, Altman is urging lawmakers to regulate his industry.

In confronting this challenge, we must keep two concerns in mind. The first is the need for speed. If we take too long, we may find ourselves closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. That is what happened with the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: It came 23 years too late. If we had managed to establish some minimal rules after World War II, the NPT’s ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament might have been achievable.

The other concern involves deep uncertainty. This is such a new world that even those working on AI do not know where their inventions will ultimately take us. A law enacted with the best intentions can still backfire. When America’s founders drafted the Second Amendment conferring the “right to keep and bear arms,” they could not have known how firearms technology would change in the future, thereby changing the very meaning of the word “arms.” Nor did they foresee how their descendants would fail to realize this even after seeing the change.

But uncertainty does not justify fatalism. Policymakers can still effectively govern the unknown as long as they keep certain broad considerations in mind. For example, one idea that came up during a recent Senate hearing was to create a licensing system whereby only select corporations would be permitted to work on AI.

The Future Of Generative AI Beyond ChatGPT

Bernard Marr

Generative tools like ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion have got everyone talking about artificial intelligence (AI) – but where is it headed next?

It’s already clear that this exciting technology will have a big impact on the way we live and work. UK energy provider Octopus Energy has said that 44% of its customer service emails are now being answered by AI. And the CEO of software firm Freshworks has said that tasks that previously took eight to 10 weeks are now being completed in days as a consequence of adopting AI tools into its workflows.

But we’re still only at the beginning. In the coming weeks, months, and years we will see an acceleration in the pace of development of new forms of generative AI. These will be capable of carrying out an ever-growing number of tasks and augmenting our skills in all manner of ways. Some of them may seem as unbelievable to us today as the rise of ChatGPT and similar tools would have done just a few months back.

So, let’s take a look at some of the ways we can expect generative AI to evolve in the near future and some of the tasks it will be lending a hand with before too long:

Beyond ChatGPT

Text-based generative AI is already pretty impressive, particularly for research, creating first drafts, and planning. You might have had fun getting it to write stories or poems, too, but probably realized it isn’t quite Stephen King or Shakespeare yet, particularly when it comes to coming up with original ideas. Next-generation language models – beyond GPT-4 – will understand factors like psychology and the human creative process in more depth, enabling them to create written copy that’s deeper and more engaging. We will also see models iterating on the progress made by tools such as AutoGPT, which enable text-based generative AI applications to create their own prompts, allowing them to carry out more complex tasks.

Generative Visual AI

The Power of AI: Why Nvidia became the first chipmaking company to enter $1 trillion club

FP Explainers 

AI-driven GPU demand has pushed NVIDIA to become the first US chip maker to reach a valuation of $1 trillion. With this, NVIDIA will soon join the likes of Meta, Apple, Alphabet aka Google, Microsoft, and Amazon

Nvidia on Tuesday became the first chipmaking company to enter the elite $1 trillion club.

The past three trading sessions on Wall Street have seen Nvidia stock rise more than 31 per cent including a three per cent gain on Tuesday – though its market cap soon fell below that $1 trillion mark.

Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon are all members of the $1 trillion club, while Meta is a former member.

But why is the share price of Nvidia, a company famed for making graphics processing units (GPUs) favoured by hardcore gamers, zooming?

Let’s take a closer look:

Experts say Nvidia is benefitting from the hype and craze surrounding Artificial Intelligence.

The stock’s value has tripled in less than eight months, reflecting the surge in interest in artificial intelligence following rapid advances in generative AI, which can engage in human-like conversation and craft everything from jokes to poetry.

According to CNBC, the company’s powerful chips are a favourite of researchers who use them to train and run advanced AI programmes.

“Training these programmes involves processing large amounts of data and performing complex mathematical computations. Nvidia’s GPUs excel in these tasks by efficiently handling parallel computations, which accelerates the training process,” the piece noted.