6 June 2023

25 Years of Nuclear India and Pakistan: Crisis Communications Must be Made a Priority

Manpreet Sethi

In May 1998, two countries, India and Pakistan, emerged as states with nuclear weapons. They also happened to be neighbours with disputed territorial claims. International reactions not only criticised and imposed sanctions on both, but also expressed anxiety about the two states getting themselves and the region into trouble, given their frequent crises, which now could lead up to nuclear escalation.

Fears about the region becoming a nuclear flashpoint were strengthened when a conflict ensued at Kargil in 1999, where regular Pakistani soldiers clandestinely occupied Indian territory. India, however, conducted its military operations with a controlled use of force to avert escalation. Simultaneously, the international community called out Pakistan for its nuclear blackmail. Military and diplomatic pressure eventually compelled Pakistan to withdraw.

Another crisis, however, came along soon thereafter, when terrorists, supported, trained, and equipped by Pakistan, attacked the Indian Parliament in December 2001. India resorted to full scale military mobilisation and Pakistan responded similarly. After a tense, year-long stand-off, the situation de-escalated when then Pakistani President Gen. Musharraf committed to preventing his country from being used as staging ground for terrorist attacks on India. The promise, unfortunately has not been kept. Terror attacks, supported and enabled by Pakistan, have been a regular disruptor of India-Pakistan relations.

During such disruptions, India and Pakistan have normally reduced or cut-off their communications as a way of expressing displeasure. While this is not uncommon behaviour between adversarial dyads, the worry is that such a political state-of-affairs could exacerbate crisis situations. The resultant trust deficit can lead states into hedging strategies and offence-defence capability build-up, thereby creating potential for more crises.

Common sense demands communications during crisis—to arrest, contain, limit, and terminate it. This is especially critical between nuclear possessors, and they bear a special responsibility, for their own sake, to keep some accepted channels of communication open. In fact, many things can go wrong in the absence of clear crisis communication protocols.

Pakistan’s always-troubled democracy is on the brink once again

Madiha Afzal 

Pakistan’s ongoing political crisis has reached a crescendo this month with former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s arrest and its fallout. The contours of the conflict are clear: it is Khan versus Pakistan’s military establishment. And the gloves are off.

Khan was arrested on May 9 from the premises of the Islamabad High Court, whisked away by dozens of paramilitary troops in riot gear, ostensibly for a corruption case. But the manner and timing of his arrest — coming just after he had doubled down on his allegations that a senior intelligence official was responsible for an assassination attempt against him last November — indicated that the arrest was more about the confrontation between Khan and Pakistan’s military which began last spring with his ouster in a vote of no-confidence.

The arrest set off protests on the same day across Pakistan, some of which turned violent and involved vandalism against military installations. In unprecedented scenes, protesters attacked the gate of the army headquarters in Rawalpindi, the corps commander’s house in Lahore, and other buildings, including the Radio Pakistan offices in Peshawar. At least eight people died in clashes with the police. The country’s telecommunications authority shut off access to mobile internet services and social media for several days. In response to the protests, police have arrested thousands of Khan’s party workers, reportedly harassing their families in the process; many of them are yet to be produced in court. They also arrested senior leaders of Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and key members of his former cabinet: his former foreign minister, finance minister, human rights minister, and information minister.

On May 11, Pakistan’s Supreme Court deemed Khan’s arrest from the premises of a court unlawful, and the Islamabad High Court granted him bail the following day. As he was released, he pointed a finger at one man: Pakistan’s army chief, General Asim Munir.

Khan’s confrontation with the military has now devolved into an existential, zero-sum fight between the country’s most popular politician and its most powerful institution. Khan, once the military’s favored politician, has since last year stoked popular resentment against the institution, which he blames for his ouster. The attacks on military buildings after Khan’s arrest damaged the institution’s veneer of invincibility. The military — long Pakistan’s sacred cow, its one institution deemed untouchable — has not taken kindly to Khan’s dissent. It has responded forcefully to the protests on May 9 — which it has called a “black day” — saying that violent protesters will be tried in military courts. Trying civilians in army courts would violate Pakistan’s obligations under international human rights law. But Pakistan’s National Security Council backed the military’s decision and its civilian government has lined up behind it, dealing a blow to the constitution and rule of law in the country. This week, an anti-terrorism court in Lahore allowed the handing over of 16 civilians to the military for trials.

Pakistan inflation hits record for second consecutive month

Pakistan’s annual inflation rate has risen to 37.97 percent in May, the statistics bureau said, setting a national record for the second month in a row.

The bureau’s announcement on Thursday worsens the economic crisis in the South Asian country as crucial bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) remain stalled and the risk of defaulting on debts looms.

The bureau in April said Pakistan’s consumer price index (CPI) was at 36.5 percent – already the highest in the country as well as the South Asian region. Sri Lanka, which is slowly recovering from a two-year economic crisis, posted annual inflation of 25.2 percent in May.

Pakistan’s month-on-month rise in May was 1.58 percent, the bureau said in a statement, adding vegetables, pulses, wheat, wheat flour, rice, eggs and chicken in food items and fuel and gas prices caused the increase.

“Everyone is worried,” 42-year-old Muhammad Safeer told the AFP news agency at an Islamabad market. “Where will we get the money from? Personal debt will only go up.”

Inflation has been on an upward trend since early this year after the government took painful measures as part of fiscal adjustments demanded by the IMF to unlock stalled funding.

Video Duration 01 minutes 55 seconds01:55IMF forecasts Pakistan’s economy to slump, inflation to rise

The IMF demands include the withdrawal of subsidies, a hike in energy prices, a market-based exchange rate and new taxation to generate extra revenue in a supplementary budget.

Islamabad says it has met the demands, but the IMF has yet to release the $1.1bn funding stalled since November as part of the $6.5bn Extended Fund Facility agreed in 2019.

The funding is critical for Pakistan to unlock other bilateral and multilateral financing.

Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2023

The Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment examines key regional security issues relevant to the policy-focused discussions of the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier defence summit. The dossier is launched each year at the Dialogue and the issues analysed within its covers are central to discussions at the event.

This edition of the Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment, publication of which coincides with the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue, is the tenth in the series. Among its highlights are analyses of the challenges posed by not only various dimensions of China's growing power and increasingly active posture in the Asia-Pacific, but also the impact of the war in Ukraine on the regional balance of power. Topics covered in the volume's chapters include US-China relations and the growing threat to Taiwan; Asia-Pacific naval capabilities and operations; the progress of China's Belt and Road Initiative over the decade since it was launched; Japanese security and defence policy under Prime Minister Kishida Fumio; and the conflict in Myanmar and the international responses it has provoked. Authors this year are drawn exclusively from IISS experts.

In this launch of the Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2023, chaired by Dr Lynn Kuok, co-editor of the dossier, authors discuss key regional security challenges and respond to questions from the audience. It was held in-person for those attending the Shangri-La Dialogue and also online to allow for other interested colleagues and friends to join in. We trust that the analyses provided in the Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment will contribute to important, timely and policy-relevant discussions at the Dialogue and beyond.

Dr Euan Graham is Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for Indo-Pacific Defence and Strategy at IISS-Asia in Singapore, and is responsible for furthering research within the IISS on defence and security in northeast Asia and the western Pacific. He previously served with the UK government for seven years as a research analyst in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, variously covering the Korean Peninsula, Japan and Southeast Asia. He has written and commented widely for international media on a range of Asia-Pacific security issues.

Chinese Hackers’ Attack on Key US Bases on Guam Is Part of Unrestricted Warfare: Military Expert

Jenny Li & Olivia Li

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is docked at Naval Base Guam in Apra Harbor amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 27, 2020. (Tony Azios/AFP via Getty Images)

In response to the Five Eyes Coalition’s discovery of a Chinese hacker attack on American military bases in Guam, a U.S. military expert told The Epoch Times that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is either rehearsing for an impending war or has already launched some form of war against the United States.

Together with various cybersecurity agencies under the Five Eye alliance, Microsoft released details of the covert malware attack on May 24.

The attack was carried out by Beijing-sponsored hacker group codenamed “Volt Typhoon” and relied on “living-off-the-land techniques,” according to the Microsoft report.

“Volt Typhoon has been active since mid-2021 and has targeted critical infrastructure organizations in Guam and elsewhere in the United States,” it said.

Microsoft believes that the hackers are “pursuing development of capabilities that could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises.”

The organizations affected include communications, manufacturing, utility, transportation, construction, maritime, government, information technology, and education sectors, as identified by the report.

Security experts observed that the hackers intended to perform spying activities and maintain access for as long as possible without being detected.

“For years, China has conducted aggressive cyber operations to steal intellectual property and sensitive data from organizations around the globe. Today’s advisory highlights China’s continued use of sophisticated means to target our nation’s critical infrastructure,” said Jen Easterly, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in a news release on May 24.

CCP Is Conducting ‘A Form of Warfare’

China Is Flirting With AI Catastrophe

Bill Drexel and Hannah Kelley

Few early observers of the Cold War could have imagined that the worst nuclear catastrophe of the era would occur at an obscure power facility in Ukraine. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster was the result of a flawed nuclear reactor design and a series of mistakes made by the plant operators. The fact that the world’s superpowers were spiraling into an arms race of potentially world-ending magnitude tended to eclipse the less obvious dangers of what was, at the time, an experimental new technology. And yet despite hair-raising episodes such as the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, it was a failure of

China Investing in Open-Source Intelligence Collection on the U.S.

Julian E. Barnes

China’s intelligence agencies are investing deeply in open-source intelligence to learn more about the capabilities of the American military in the Pacific and beyond, according to a new report.

The analysis, by the threat intelligence company Recorded Future, details efforts by China’s government and companies to collect publicly available data from the Pentagon, think tanks and private firms — information Beijing’s military can use to help plan for a potential conflict with the United States.

Why It Matters: Beijing’s open-source intelligence collection could give it an advantage.

As the relationship between the United States and China has become more adversarial, both countries are investing more in their intelligence collection capabilities.

With Beijing’s investments in big data management, mining publicly available sources of information could give China an advantage in collecting intelligence on the United States and its allies.

While autocratic countries like China hide information about their military, the United States — as a democracy that tries to be responsive to its public — puts out a plethora of information about its military capabilities, doctrine and planning.

China can mine that information, looking for material it can use to its own military advantages. For example, the report details some of the work one prominent Chinese open-source intelligence company has done to analyze publicly available insights from the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon’s in-house think tank. Recorded Future also outlined how China has tried to gather information put out by the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

“The U.S. Naval War College has a China Maritime Studies Institute, and it produces a lot of open-source research on China,” said Zoe Haver, a threat intelligence analyst with Recorded Future. “This is done in an academic setting, but ultimately foreign governments consider this valuable intelligence.”

China is trading more with Russia—but so are many US allies and partners

Josh Lipsky and Niels Graham

Is China providing a lifeline to the Russian economy? Yes, but it’s not alone. Recent analyses of China’s deepening relationship with Russia, including one from our colleagues at the Atlantic Council, have focused on rising trade volumes between Beijing and Moscow. While this is an important data point, looking at China in isolation misses the broader trend. A number of countries have stepped up trade with Russia since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine caused many Western nations to enact sweeping sanctions and export controls.

Several countries have increased their trade with Russia since early 2022, including non-aligned countries and even some European Union (EU) members. Such surges in trade, however, are not necessarily an indicator of support for Putin’s war. Instead, it is more likely they are predominantly the result of companies—and countries—pursuing legal opportunities for cheaper exports and new gaps in the Russian market.

As you can see from the chart above, China is one of several countries stepping up trade with Russia. Additionally, Russia is not the only country experiencing a rise in trade with China. In 2022, most of Beijing’s top twenty trading partners saw growth of 10 percent or more in their imports from China. Australian and Indian imports of Chinese goods, for example, jumped by around 20 percent in 2022.

It is important to understand what is driving China’s trade with Russia. It is not only about Ukraine. Starting in 2013, Russia initiated a “Pivot to the East,” to China first and foremost. This has paid off for Moscow. Over the previous five years (excluding pandemic-wracked 2020) trade grew by an average of around 23 percent annually.

While the recent year-over-year trade increase of 27 percent was well above this trend-line growth, other factors make the data seem even more dramatic than it in fact is. In 2022, for example, the yuan depreciated against both the dollar and the ruble, increasing the competitiveness of Chinese exports to Russia.

China stands to gain from a weakened Russia. The West should prepare now.

Andrew A. Michta

As the war in Ukraine enters yet another phase with the coming Ukrainian offensive, it is clear that China is positioning itself to benefit from the outcome regardless of which side ultimately prevails. China has already been able to pocket significant gains in its relations with Russia as Moscow has grown more dependent on Beijing for its economic survival and for political support. China also has gained ground in its relations with the European Union, especially with Germany and France, which appear to have recognized Beijing’s growing role in shaping relations between Kyiv and Moscow. Although there is no consensus in Europe on relations with China going forward, the series of recent high-level visits to China by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock have driven the point home that, though geographically distant, China is increasingly a power in Europe.

How China has stood to benefit from Russia’s war has changed over the last year and a half. In early February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met shortly before Russian forces launched their full-scale invasion of Ukraine. If Putin divulged his plans then, Xi evidently did not dissuade him from launching the brutal attack. The joint statement coming out of this meeting proclaimed a “no limits” partnership. Had Russia succeeded in its initial invasion and taken Kyiv in the first days, the rules-based international order would have been weakened. Having extended support to Ukraine for so long, the United States and its allies and partners would have had their commitments called into question. Autocratic might would have won the day. All of this, of course, would have been music to Xi’s ears, and all without Beijing firing a shot.

How Beijing benefits now

Today, it’s a different story, but China nonetheless stands to benefit. A protracted war of attrition in Ukraine serves Beijing’s interests in that it will lead to the long-term weakening of Russia, thereby fundamentally shifting the Sino-Russian power balance decisively in China’s favor for years to come. China is also benefitting from cheap Russian energy, which is supporting its economy and improving China’s competitive position in world markets. Measured by value, Russia’s pipeline gas exports to China increased two-and-a-half times in 2022, while its liquefied natural gas exports to China more than doubled. Last year China also increased its volumes of Russian coal by 20 percent.

A long march: China’s military-industrial espionage


This article is adapted from the authors’ new book, Battlefield Cyber: How China and Russia are Undermining our Democracy and National Security (Prometheus, August 2023, available for preorder here).

Recent revelations that Chinese state-sponsored hackers penetrated US critical infrastructure and have the ability to disrupt oil and gas pipelines, rail systems, and the US Navy’s communications in the Pacific theater should come as no surprise. China’s pursuit of digital dominance has been decades in the making.

Reveille for China’s planners was sounded in the early 1990s during the Gulf War, in which the United States and its allies effortlessly toppled Iraqi forces. The first conflict of the digital era demonstrated to Chinese strategists the critical role of information technology on and off the battlefield.

Chinese leaders watched with dismay as the American military routed and dismantled the Iraqi military in what is considered one of the most one-sided conflicts in the history of modern warfare.

Going into the first Gulf War, Iraq’s military was ranked fourth in the world – having ballooned to more than a million troops who had been trained on weapons financed by the West to fight its bloody eight-year war with Iran.

The Chinese military, although larger in headcount at the time, paled in technological comparison with the forces commanded by Saddam Hussein. At the time, China’s air force consisted of a few fighter jets, mostly of its J-7 model – an indigenously produced replica of the Russian 1960s-era MiG-21.

Iraq’s air force, by contrast, was made up of far more advanced fighters, such as the Russian MiG-29, and its planes were supported by advanced antiaircraft missile defense systems. Yet even those advanced weapon systems proved wholly ineffective against 1990s-era American technology.

Ukraine war hasn’t changed China’s thinking around possible attack on Taiwan, report says

Simone McCarthy

China remains the “leading long-term challenge” to the existing international order and there is no evidence that Russia’s faltering invasion of Ukraine has changed Beijing’s thinking around “the timescale or methodology” for any potential attack on Taiwan, a top strategic think tank said ahead of a regional security summit in Singapore.

The grinding conflict in Europe may also accelerate trends in the Asia-Pacific region toward increased military spending and efforts to develop military capabilities, said a report released Friday by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which hosts its annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore this weekend.

The war and its reverberations in the Asia-Pacific region – as well as the growing contest between the United States and China – will be overarching themes at the security summit, the sidelines of which have long provided a platform for top security officials to meet face-to-face.

Attendees are expected to include US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

US and Chinese defense chiefs are not expected to meet this year – a mark of the depth of the fracture in relations between the two countries.

Austin on Thursday said it was “unfortunate” China declined a US offer to meet at the conference and warned the ongoing lack of communication could result in “an incident that could very, very quickly spiral out of control.”

Beijing earlier this week refuted the claim it was blocking American defense officials’ efforts to communicate, instead blaming the US for creating “artificial obstacles, seriously undermining mutual trust between the two militaries.”

Focus on Taiwan

Opinion The United States can no longer assume that the rest of the world is on its side

As I was following Turkey’s recent general election, I was stunned to hear one of the country’s top officials, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, speaking to a crowd from a balcony. Jubilant, he promised that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would “wipe away whoever causes trouble” for Turkey “and that includes the American military.” Earlier, Soylu declared that those who “pursue a pro-American approach will be considered traitors.” Keep in mind that Turkey has been a member of NATO (with U.S. bases in the country) for about 70 years.

Erdogan often uses stridently anti-Western rhetoric himself. About a week before the election’s first round, he tweeted that his opponent “won’t say what he promised to the baby-killing terrorists or to the Western countries.”

Erdogan might be one of the most extreme representatives of this attitude, but he is not alone. As many commentators have noted, most of the world’s population is not aligned with the West in its struggle against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. And the war itself has only highlighted a broader phenomenon: Many of the largest and most powerful countries in the developing world are growing increasingly anti-Western and anti-American.

When Brazil elected Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the presidency last October, many heaved a sigh of relief that the mercurial populist Jair Bolsonaro had been replaced by a traditional and familiar left-of-center figure. Yet in his few months in office, Lula has chosen to pointedly criticize the West, rage against the hegemony of the dollar, and claim that Russia and Ukraine are equally to blame for the war. This week, he hosted Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, whose brutal reign has led millions to flee his country. Lula lavished praise on the dictator and criticized Washington for denying Maduro’s legitimacy and imposing sanctions on his regime.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had a reputation as a practical, business-friendly moderate who had strong ties with the West. But South Africa under him has veered closer to the Russian and Chinese orbit. The country has refused to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has hosted the Russian and Chinese navies for joint exercises, and now stands accused by the United States of supplying arms to Russia, allegations that South Africa has denied.

Use of NATO arms for attack in Russia raises doubts about Kyiv’s controls

Alex Horton, John Hudson, Samuel Oakford and Isobel Koshiw

The Russian fighters aligned against Moscow who launched a cross-border raid from Ukraine into the Belgorod region of Russia last week used at least four tactical vehicles originally given to Ukraine by the United States and Poland, U.S. officials said, raising questions about the unintended use of NATO-provided equipment and Kyiv’s commitments to secure materiel supplied by its supporters.

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

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.

Five more years for Erdogan. What’s first on his agenda?

Atlantic Council experts

Turkey marks a hundred years as a republic this year. First as Turkey’s prime minister and then as its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been at the political helm of the republic for a fifth of that century. His victory on Sunday in a runoff election now sets him up for five more years in power.

At the same time, Turkey is beset by change, including a reeling economy at home and open conflict in its neighborhood. To its north, Russia wages war on Ukraine. To its south, Syria is on edge. Below, Atlantic Council experts share their insights on what to expect on these issues and more.

It’s time for Turkey to shift its economic policy

Turkey is getting ready for another five-year term under Erdoğan with an AK Party-led alliance holding a majority in the parliament. Given the presidential system and with a parliament majority behind him, the reelection of Erdoğan will give Turkey a five-year stable term without elections, except for municipal elections to be held in ten months. Erdoğan’s reelection means Turkey will be entering another era of centralized decision-making, however this five-year term can also be regarded as securing political stability for Turkey. If Turkey’s economic team can go back to credible and more conventional economic policies that can fix the current problems through setting strong economic benchmarks and implementing crucial structural reforms, then I believe Turkey can be a destination for foreign capital in time, given the current state of other emerging markets.

The Turkish economy currently has serious problems, including a high inflation rate and low currency reserves caused in part by a controlled exchange rate regime. Current unconventional policy is not helping Turkey achieve a high growth rate or a boost in its exports. In short, the economy needs to be addressed quickly. It is important for Erdoğan and the new government to reassure confidence in the Turkish economy both for domestic and foreign investors. With a strong economic team and more conventional and independent policies, this is possible. In his victory remarks, Erdoğan discussed the Turkish economy at length, which shows that he is determined to deliver a stronger road map for the economy. Regarding regional energy policies, I do not expect any shift there. Current policies will continue. We will be hearing from the new cabinet this weekend, if not by Friday, but early news signals that the economy is a major priority for Erdoğan.

Russian War Report: Moscow is on edge after the latest drone attack

As Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) is keeping a close eye on Russia’s movements across the military, cyber, and information domains. With more than seven years of experience monitoring the situation in Ukraine—as well as Russia’s use of propaganda and disinformation to undermine the United States, NATO, and the European Union—the DFRLab’s global team presents the latest installment of the Russian War Report.

One week after the incursion in the Belgorod region allegedly orchestrated by Russian Volunteer Corps, Russia’s border has become more permeable to Ukrainian attacks. Nearly a month after the first attack against the Kremlin’s Senate building in Moscow, another drone attack was reported in the morning of May 30.

Reports posted on Telegram channel SHOT revealed footage taken by civilians showing drones and explosions in suburban Moscow. Throughout the day, Moscow Oblast Governor Andrey Vorobyov and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin confirmed several drones had struck various locations, which resulted in evacuation of civilians. According to Russian media outlet Mediazona, drones hit residential buildings in three different parts of the city. Two civilians were reportedly injured, although their condition did not require them to be hospitalized; there were no reported fatalities.

Russian officials, including government spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, accused “the Kyiv regime” of orchestrating the attack as “retaliation for effective drone attacks against Kyiv’s decision-making centers on Sunday [May 29]”. This theory was also embraced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose comments also referenced the “effective work of the air defense systems.” Meduza reported that the Kremlin ordered Russian media to cover the drone attacks using specific talking points, though this has not been independently confirmed. In contrast, the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office recommended that bloggers and the media refrain from commenting on the incident, as unverified claims would be punishable by law. The Moscow Investigative Committee launched an investigation into the drone attacks as an act of “terrorism.”

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.

Using Starlink Paints a Target on Ukrainian Troops


Operating behind enemy lines, one soldier fighting for Ukraine knows the Russians will hunt for him the second he sets up his portable Starlink internet dish.

He and his team set up the device only in urgent situations where they need to communicate with their headquarters. The Russians “will find you,” the soldier said, who goes by the call sign Boris. “You need to do it fast, then get out of there.”

The soldier, an ex-French Foreign Legionnaire who now operates as part of a reconnaissance-and-sabotage unit, is just one of Ukraine’s many soldiers for whom the Starlink service is a double-edged sword. Like other soldiers interviewed for this article, Boris asked to be referred by his call sign for security reasons.

On the one hand, Ukrainian soldiers say the device is key to their operations, notably its ability to help coordinate devastating artillery strikes. On the other, they report a variety of ways in which the Russians can locate, jam, and degrade the devices, which were never intended for battlefield use.

The end result is a MacGyver-esque arms race, as Ukraine rushes to innovate and Russia moves to overcome these innovations.

In Boris’s case, Russian signals-intelligence equipment is likely pinpointing the devices by scanning for suspect transmissions, said Todd Humphreys, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who has studied Starlink devices.

One Ukrainian drone operator with the call sign of “Professor” also reported prolonged jamming that prevented his team from using his Starlink unit.

Professor said the jamming began two to three months ago, and that its intensity varied from place to place. “In one place everything’s fine, and in another—it doesn’t work,” Professor said.

Pentagon Buying Musk’s Starlink for Ukraine


The Pentagon is buying SpaceX’s satellite communications for Ukraine, despite Elon Musk’s erratic relationship with the Pentagon.

The Defense Department confirmed the contract award Thursday, saying in a statement that satellite communications are a “vital layer in Ukraine’s overall communications network and the department contracts with Starlink for services of this type.”

But the Pentagon would not disclose additional information about the cost or scope of the contract for “operational security reasons and due to the critical nature of these systems.” Bloomberg first reported the contract with SpaceX.

“We continue to work with a range of global partners to ensure Ukraine has the satellite and communication capabilities they need,” the department said.

SpaceX’s Starlink constellation is made up of 4,000 small satellites that reside in low Earth orbit.

Musk’s company donated 20,000 of its satellite internet terminals and millions of dollars’ worth of service to the Ukrainian military in the months that followed Russia’s invasion.

However, in October, SpaceX said it would stop those donations and asked the Pentagon to pay for the services instead. Three months after that, Starlink officials said they had taken steps to prevent Ukraine’s use of the terminals on the battlefield; Musk declared, in apparent contradiction of Starlink’s work for the Pentagon, that the service was “never intended to be weaponized.”

In March, lawmakers and the commander of U.S. Space Command Gen. James Dickinson expressed concern about SpaceX’s move to limit Ukraine’s use of Starlink.

“I was personally disappointed to see discontinuation of full services at such a critical time for Ukraine self-defense,” Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., told Dickinson. “Do you feel there's a connection between the availability of this capability to our partners in Ukraine in this conflict, and relationships we have with companies like SpaceX?”

Dickinson answered plainly: “Yes.”

How to use Google Bard (2023): A comprehensive guide

Andy Wolber

This is a complete guide on how to use Google Bard. Learn how Google Bard can help you boost your productivity, creativity and more.Illustration: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Bard is Google’s public entry into the highly competitive field of artificial intelligence chatbots, which also includes OpenAPI’s ChatGPT. Google intends Bard to be a “creative and helpful collaborator” that people may chat with using natural language. The following guide covers what you need to know as you chat and explore the capabilities of Google Bard.

What is Google Bard?

Google Bard is an AI chatbot: After you enter a text prompt, Bard generates a response. Importantly, Bard can access the internet to leverage Google search for its responses.

Google launched Bard in early 2023 as an experiment that is based on a conversational large language model.

What is Google Bard used for?

The biggest roadblocks facing the future of mobility - and how to tackle them

Mike Thoeny

Technological advancements in electrification and software-defined vehicles are reshaping mobility, creating opportunities for industry, consumers, and society.

The automotive software market will be valued at over $80 billion by 2030.

Collaboration between automakers and a range of partners, including semiconductor companies and tech startups, is essential to scale software-defined vehicles and meet consumer demands.

From electrification to software-defined vehicles, rapid technological advancements are reshaping the way people move from point A to B. Innovations underpinning electric vehicles (EVs), advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), and the path to autonomous driving is creating transformational opportunities for industry, consumers, and society alike.

Yet the road to achieving the promise of next-generation mobility is fraught with societal and business challenges and enormous technological complexities. Against this backdrop, the automotive industry is recovering from several years of significant global supply chain disruptions alongside other macroeconomic headwinds.

Automakers and their networks of suppliers must work together to overcome the biggest roadblocks facing mobility’s future. Now is the time for the industry to develop a next-generation ecosystem that enables deeper collaboration between both traditional and non-traditional ecosystem partners.

Scaling software-defined vehicles quickly to meet consumer demand

From new features and capabilities to predictive maintenance, today’s consumers increasingly expect real-time software updates to improve safety, enhance their driving experience and reduce repair costs. With the automotive software market expected to grow to over $80 billion by 2030, it’s clear the stakes and opportunities are higher than ever for automakers.

What are critical minerals - and why are they key to a greener future?

Morgan Bazilian, Simon Moores

Critical minerals are vital for modern technology and the advent of electric vehicles have driven them to the top of the geopolitical agenda.

However, there is a big gap between supply and demand, as well as a disconnect between miners and users of these key raw materials.

Stakeholders must act now to enable the energy storage revolution, with decisions made now impacting the geopolitical order of the next century.

Critical minerals – the once forgotten elements crucial to modern day technology – have made it to the top of the geopolitical agenda. A global battery arms race, driven by the advent of electric vehicles (EVs), has seen a step change in demand for lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, manganese and rare earths.

A supply demand mismatch, especially for lithium, has created a tremendous raw material disconnect between those building gigafactories and EVs – and those that mine these elements critical for their function.

We have moved from a world where traditional commodities have taken second stage to the commodities of the future. And lithium-ion batteries and their key raw material inputs have taken centre stage in policy, namely the US Inflation Reduction Act.

But, other major economies such as the European Union, UK, and Australia are all establishing large-scale funding and associated legislation. The G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communique mentions critical minerals 10 times, India’s lithium reserves made front pages, as did Chile’s proposed nationalization of the element. The EU just passed the Critical Raw Materials Act, and the US National Security Advisor mentioned minerals several times at his recent major policy speech.

How does the inventor of the metaverse envision its future?

Kelly Ommundsen, Jaci Eisenberg

The World Economic Forum, Accenture and Microsoft's Global Collaboration Village recently hosted author Neal Stephenson to share his thoughts about the metaverse.

Stephenson coined the term "metaverse" and is regarded as a key figure in its responsible development and popular use.

In the session, Stephenson discussed the impact the metaverse can have on society and what needs to happen to see its meaningful adoption.

In his seminal work, Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson's protagonist finds himself in an intricate web in the metaverse involving hackers, the mafia, and computer viruses. Snow Crash popularized the terms "metaverse" and "avatar", and is still seen as a major inspiration in tech circles in Silicon Valley.

While the character Hiro's entry into the metaverse in Snow Crash was science fiction in the early 1990s when Stephenson published the novel to critical acclaim, today, this universe is reality.

In a recent discussion, as part of the Global Collaboration Village, the World Economic Forum hosted Neal Stephenson to hear his perspectives on the potential for interaction in this immersive virtual medium.

An open and collaborative metaverse

As the conversation got underway, Stephenson was quick to point out the importance of nurturing an open and collaborative approach to developing the metaverse.

"We can and should take an open and responsible approach to develop the metaverse. Here is a technology, like so many other amazing innovations of the last few decades in the internet space, that can truly enrich billions of lives and connect individuals from around the world."

Bridging the regulatory gap plus other AI stories to read this month

Cathy Li

This artificial intelligence round-up brings you the key AI stories from the last month.

Top stories: EU, US aim to bridge the AI regulatory gap; AI is an opportunity for creatives, says Bertelsmann CEO; Baidu, TikTok testing bots.

1. EU, US aim to bridge the AI regulatory gap

As the European Union pushes ahead with its AI Act, it is set to work more closely with the US government to establish minimum standards before legislation comes into force.

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager pointed out that while the policy process might be completed by the end of 2023, it would still take one or two years for the act to come into effect. Interim measures would be needed to bridge that gap, Reuters reports.

The Biden administration had set out its vision for AI governance in its Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights, published last autumn, while regulatory efforts are also being pursued at state level.

EU Commissioner Vestager told Reuters that bridging the regulatory vacuum would be one of the topics at the EU-US Trade and Technology Council meeting of ministers in Sweden later this month.

This follows a call to action from the leaders of the G7, meeting in Japan on 20 May, for technical standards to keep AI trustworthy and aligned to the group's shared values. G7 ministers have been tasked to set up a working group on AI by the end of the year.

Governments elsewhere are also accelerating their move towards regulating generative AI tools, including China, Britain and several individual European countries, while others are seeking input on future governance.

2. AI is an opportunity for creatives, says Bertelsmann CEO

Microsoft won over Washington. A new AI debate tests its president.

Cat Zakrzewski

In 2017, Microsoft president Brad Smith made a bold prediction. Speaking on a panel at the Davos World Economic Forum, he said governments would be talking about how to regulate artificial intelligence in about five years.

Another executive bristled at the idea, telling Smith no one could know the future.

But the prophecy was right. As if on schedule, Smith on Thursday morning convened a group of government officials, members of Congress and influential policy experts for a speech on a debate he’s long been anticipating. Smith unveiled his “blueprint for public governance of AI” at Planet Word, a language arts museum in Washington that he called a “poetic” venue for a conversation about AI.

Rapid advances in AI and the surging popularity of chatbots such as ChatGPT have moved lawmakers across the globe to grapple with new AI risks. Microsoft’s $10 billion investment in ChatGPT’s parent company, OpenAI, has thrust Smith firmly into the center of this frenzy.

Smith is drawing on years of preparation for the moment. He has discussed AI ethics with leaders ranging from the Biden administration to the Vatican, where Pope Francis warned Smith to “keep your humanity.” He consulted recently with Sen. Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who has been developing a framework to regulate artificial intelligence. Smith shared Microsoft’s AI regulatory proposals with the New York Democrat, who has “pushed him to think harder in some areas,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post.

His policy wisdom is aiding others in the industry, including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, who consulted with Smith as he prepared policy proposals discussed in his recent congressional testimony. Altman called Smith a “positive force” willing to provide guidance on short notice — even to naive ideas.

“In the nicest, most patient way possible, he’ll say ‘That’s not the best idea for these reasons,’” Altman said. “‘Here’s 17 better ideas.’”

But it’s unclear whether Smith will be able to sway wary lawmakers amid a flurry of burgeoning efforts to regulate AI — a technology he compares in potential to the printing press, but one that he says holds cataclysmic risks.

“History would say if you go too far to slow the adoption of the technology you can hold your society back,” Smith said. “If you let technology go forward without any guardrails and you throw responsibility and the rule of law to the wind, you will likely pay a price that’s far in excess of what you want.”

Goodbye ChatGPT: Here Are (New) AI Tools That Will Blow Your Mind

Nitin Sharma·

Artificial intelligence definitely altered how almost every business operates, and for good cause. Everyone appears to be jumping on board, and believe it or not AI-related tools and technology have limitless potential.

And for that, I’ve written a series of articles(the links are present at the end of this post) to share the best tools available because I’m fascinated by the most recent developments in AI. My readers responded favorably to the amazing AI-related tools I shared in my earlier articles.

And now I’m thrilled to share with you the most recent and innovative tools that are even better than before. These tools are made to help you reach your objectives more quickly and effectively while pushing the limits of what’s possible with AI technology.

Note: I wasn’t compensated to write this piece by any of these tools. In other words, I don’t receive any payment from their founders. There is no affiliate link, and most of these are free to use upto a certain limit. Also, most of them uses ChatGPT under the hood.

Let’s start.Gamma

Gamma is the first tool I’m going to discuss. It allows you to quickly make presentations, documents, as well as web pages.