10 June 2023

India Not Planning to Invite Ukraine to G20 Summit in September

Ashok Sharma

India is not planning to invite Ukraine to the summit of the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations in September, its external affairs minister said Thursday.

“In our view, G-20 participation is for members and organizations we have invited. That list we declared as soon as we assumed the G-20 presidency” in December, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told reporters.

Ukraine is not a G-20 member, but Russia is part of the grouping. In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine and the two remain at war. India has avoided condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine and has sought to end it through diplomacy and dialogue.

Inviting Ukraine to the G-20 summit “is not something that we have reviewed and it is not something very honestly which we have discussed with anybody,” Jaishankar said.

The Ukraine war and the disruption in global food and fuel supplies are expected to be high on the agenda of the G-20 summit in New Delhi.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was invited to participate in last year’s G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, and Zelenskyy has made appearances at other major summits, such as the G-7 summit last month in Hiroshima, Japan. The G-7 is a grouping of seven industrialized nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Until 2014 it was the G-8, but Russia was expelled after its illegal annexation of Crimea.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Zelenskyy on the sidelines of the G-7 summit last month in Japan. It was their first meeting since Russia invaded Ukraine last year.

India hopes to deepen trade with Russia, its Cold War ally, from whom it has continued to buy record amounts of crude. It also depends on Russia for about 60 percent of its defense equipment.

India’s Economic Jog

Derek Scissors

Last week India announced GDP results for its fiscal year—it didn’t receive much attention. Outside India, there is a great deal of hype aimed at luring investors and boosting stock prices, not pesky facts. Inside India, most hype is about a future time when everything is great. The latter at least makes some sense: While India is growing fastest among large economies, it is also by far the poorest. This will remain true, indefinitely.

Fiscal 2023 real GDP growth was reported at 7.2 percent. This is slower than FY22, when recovery from the COVID shock began. Growth also slowed in the fourth quarter of FY23, at 6.1 percent, and is expected to be slower in FY24 than FY23. Nominal growth for the fiscal year was 16 percent, implying very fast inflation, which is now subsiding. In dollar terms, annual GDP was $3.3 trillion.

India is more dynamic than the rest of the seven largest national economies, whose 2022 growth ranged from 1.3 percent to 4.1 percent. Even with a faster pace, though, the increment to GDP is smaller than in the US or China, due to their larger size. For individuals, of course, the situation is more stark. India’s main personal income estimate rose not quite $300, China’s rose more than $400 in 2022, America’s rose $1200.

And the Indian trajectory is not ideal. Using GDP per capita, China was near India’s current level in the mid-2000s. At the time, it was in the midst of 23 consecutive years of GDP expanding faster than India’s FY23 performance, including double-digit gains in the years closest to current Indian per capita GDP. The world has changed, making fast growth more difficult. But math hasn’t changed: India is nowhere close to a new China.

One reason is that, while India government officials often look to the very long-term in their statements, they often don’t in their policies. Delhi puts the central deficit at 6.4 percent of GDP. (The 2022 US federal budget deficit was 5.5 percent of GDP). Why is the supposedly best performing major economy borrowing so much, when it should see balanced budgets or surpluses? No answer to this question bodes well for India becoming rich.

A better result: Investment led the economy in FY23, rather than India’s norm of consumption leading. Bank deposits to finance the investment accelerated. For this to be sustained, though, the country will need extremely large amounts of capital. Foreign direct investment declined sharply in FY23, due more to global than Indian factors but in any case far below what would meaningfully assist durable investment-led growth.

Border Clashes and Water Disputes Complicate Taliban-Iran Relations

Parisa Abbasian

Iran and Afghanistan exchanged heavy gunfire on May 27, killing two Iranian border guards as well as one Taliban solider, and wounding several others. Qassem Rezaei, the deputy commander of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), accused the Taliban forces of starting the conflict by shooting at the Iranian side. In an interview with Islamic Republic National News Agency (IRNA), Rezaei said, “Without observing international laws and good neighborliness, Taliban forces started shooting at the Sasoli checkpoint … drawing a decisive response.” On the other hand, the Taliban’s Defense Ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khawarazmi accused the Iranian forces of firing toward Afghanistan in Nimroz province.

The outbreak of this clash on the border brought tension between Tehran and Kabul to a new high.

Disagreements over water rights have been the leading cause of recent border clashes between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. For decades, Iran and Afghanistan had a dispute over Helmand (Hirmand) River water supplies to Iran’s eastern provinces, mainly Sistan and Baluchistan, and Khorasan-e Razavi. The Helmand’s water is an essential source for the two countries on which they are heavily dependent for agriculture, fishing, and human consumption.

The roots of the dispute date back to the second Pahlavi era in Iran when Afghanistan constructed two dams — the Kajaki and Grishk — to curtail the Helmand’s flow into Iran. Since this issue had a negative impact on the relations between the two countries, in 1973, Tehran and Kabul signed an agreement over the apportionment of the lower Helmand River water. Under this agreement, Iran was entitled to receive 26 cubic meters of Helmand water per second, or 850 million cubic meters per year. However, the chain of event in the following years, including the 1979 Iranian revolution, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the emergence of the Taliban in 1994, prevented the full implementation of the agreement, leaving the two countries in dispute over their water rights.

Bangladesh 2024: A New Game in Town

Anish Mishra

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced that the next general election in Bangladesh will take place in January 2024. This means that we should anticipate contests in all 300 parliamentary constituencies six months from now. Given the scale of the country’s polity, such a large-scale general election typically involves extensive preparations, campaigning, and resource mobilization. However, it is peculiar that even residents of Dhaka, the capital city, have not observed any indications that an election is on the horizon. Moreover, there is minimal discussion in the mainstream Bangladeshi media attempting to predict the possible electoral outcomes in 2024.

The lukewarm interest of the Bangladeshi population in the general election can be explained through a retrospective analysis of the country’s recent political history.

The fall of President Gen. Hussain Mohammad Ershad’s regime in December 1990 led to an era of competitive civilian rule, whereby Sheikh Hasina and Khalida Zia alternated as prime minister from 1991 until 2006. The 1991 election was held under the stewardship of Acting President Shahbuddin Ahmed operating in a non-partisan capacity. The Bangladesh National Party (BNP) government led by Zia passed the 13th amendment to the constitution of Bangladesh in 1996, as demanded by the opposition Awami League. This provision required the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) and the Cabinet to be dissolved 90 days prior to a general election, and the state to be administered by a neutral interim caretaker government.

The incumbent BNP government lost the June 1996 Bangladeshi general election to the Awami League, allowing Hasina to become prime minister for the first time with the support of the Jatiya Party (JP). In the 2001 general election, the incumbent Awami League was defeated by the BNP, and Zia became prime minister for the second time.

It is noteworthy to mention that no incumbent government has ever won successive terms in a general election held under the supervision of a neutral caretaker government.

Chinese ‘Tiger’ Roars In Ukraine War; Pro-Russia Troops Flaunt Chinese Military Vehicles For SMO

Sakshi Tiwari

For the first time, Chinese-origin “Tiger” Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) manufactured by Shaanxi Baoji Special Vehicles have been spotted with pro-Russian military forces despite Chinese claims that it has not supplied military aid to Moscow.

On June 7, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov showed a video flaunting what he called the “new vehicles purchased for Chechen units participating in the SMO” at his palace.

The footage featured over eight Shaanxi Baoji Special Vehicles Manufacturing Co. “Tiger” armored personnel carriers.

Since the start of the invasion, Ramzan Kadyrov’s unit Akhmat has been officially a part of the Russian Guard and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation and has been actively taking part in the war against Ukraine.

The armored vehicles were seen to be unarmed, although they do have a weapon mount. This may be the first incident where Russian-allied troops are directly fighting the war against Ukraine and have received Chinese military vehicles.

“We have purchased (since the beginning of the war – ed.) more than a thousand items of military equipment for our soldiers, including 128 items of armored vehicles,” Chechen government officials said.

The Chinese government exports the Tiger internationally, with many going to internal security units worldwide as military aid, but these APCs do need export authorization from Beijing.

The footage has come to light when Ukraine has been pushing against the Russian positions while accruing more international aid, including tanks and APCs.

The Kremlin has not acknowledged that the Chechen units have received Chinese military vehicles, although the cooperation between Moscow and Beijing remains at an all-time high.

Earlier this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that American intelligence suggested that China is considering joining Russia’s war effort by providing the country with weapons and ammunition, which would be a “serious problem.”

Countries Buy Defective Chinese Military Equipment. Why?

Cindy Zheng

China’s defense industry has exported malfunctioning and defective military equipment in recent years — leaving countries short of what’s needed for their security while also draining military budgets.

Nigeria’s military reported several technical problems with the Chinese-made F-7 aircraft delivered starting in 2009. A handful were lost in crashes or accidents. By 2020, of the nine remaining, seven had to be sent back to China for deep maintenance and repair.

The military junta ruling Myanmar found that the Chinese-made radar on its JF-17 aircraft have poor accuracy, and the aircraft itself lacks beyond-visual-range missile and airborne interception radar. Bangladesh reported problems with firing the ammunition loaded into its Chinese-built K-8W aircraft just shortly after their delivery.

Pakistan, the largest importer of Chinese military equipment, expressed dissatisfaction with Chinese-produced F-22P frigates, including technical issues, engine degradation, and poor overall performance. Pakistan also found that the onboard imaging device of the FM90 (N) missile system had a defective infrared sensor (IR17) system and SR-60 radars. As a result, the missile system was unable to lock onto targets. The IR17 sensors had to be discarded completely.

China attracts customers for its military equipment with cut-rate pricing and financing, but there are hidden costs — especially when gear malfunctions. A lack of technological compatibility with the Chinese military equipment can prove particularly expensive. Countries often do not have the personnel with the expertise and training to resolve issues. They also can have difficulty acquiring replacement parts.

Chinese suppliers have demonstrated little accountability for maintenance or repair. That has pushed some countries to recruit help from third countries. For instance, the Myanmar military forged partnerships with Pakistani technicians to solve its technical problems with the JF-17. Delays in getting equipment working can significantly slow down recipient countries’ military modernization timeline.

So why do countries continue to order military equipment from China?

China has a Growing Presence in Arab Hearts and Minds

Merissa Khurma 

Growing up in the Middle East in the 1980s, the first references to China I heard glorified its imperial past and elevated its place in history as a bastion of knowledge, science, and technology. In mandatory religion classes, the Prophet Mohammad’s saying to “seek knowledge as far as China” was often highlighted. But modern-day China was not so much a topic of conversation in our living rooms, and even more rarely in our classrooms, particularly outside the context of Cold War history.

The picture could not be more different today where both the younger and older generations across the region are much more exposed to China, its economic might, competition with the United States and the West, and technologies like 5G. CGTV Arabic has been live streaming Chinese news, dramas, and other shows into millions of homes across the region. A national Chinese project, the channel launched in the UAE 2009 costing more than $4 billion USD. CGTV is China’s soft power tool in the Arab world, home to more than 450 million people. So how has it impacted perceptions of China?
A positive reputation

In the Arab Barometer’s survey of nine countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that includes 23,000 interviews, “China remains more popular than the US,” with Morocco being the only exception where the US is more popular overall. In another survey of more than 50 cities across the region focused on Arab youth, including in the UAE, a key economic partner to China, the vast majority of interviewees identified China as a key ally to their nation.

The Chinese emphasize in their coverage that their country has not been militarily involved in the Arab world, unlike the United States.

That is not at all surprising given the narrative China amplifies in the region. First, the Chinese emphasize in their coverage that their country has not been militarily involved in the Arab world, unlike the United States. Further, coverage is very much focused on the Chinese economic success story and the economic cooperation between China and the region. The figures that the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning shared in December 2022 ahead of the Arab-China Summit helps explain why the economic narrative trumps all.

Real estate is China's economic Achilles heel


This is the second in a short series of posts about China’s economy. The first post, from last week, was entitled “Where China is beating the world”.

I once joked to a friend that if I were a CIA operative and I wanted to slow down China’s economy, I’d try to get everyone in the country to be obsessed with real estate. (The reason it was a joke is because the real estate obsession happened a very long time ago, and because I had just written a Bloomberg post about it.)

If you want, you can think of a country’s economy as composed of two pieces — the stuff the country sells to other countries (exports), and the stuff it sells to itself. Exports are probably disproportionately important, because of the local multiplier effect, and because they help raise productivity. Export industries generally have to be pretty competitive, since the competition pool is much bigger — as an exporter you’re going up against companies from all the most technologically advanced and business-savvy countries in the world. And in fact, we do find that productivity in manufacturing, which is generally more exposed to global competition since manufactured products are easy to export, tends to converge to global averages more rapidly than in other industries — it’s sink or swim.

This is one reason why when we think of “what a country does” economically, we think of export products — Germany “makes cars”, Taiwan “makes electronics”, and so on. But for big countries, most of what that country does is to sell stuff to itself. China has a reputation as an export powerhouse, and it runs a big trade surplus, but exports are only 20% of its GDP, and that number has fallen in recent years.

How the US could cut off Middle East oil to China if it wanted

Edward Hunt

As the dominant power in the Middle East, the United States maintains a great deal of leverage over China, which is dependent on the region for its energy needs.

In the event of a conflict between China and the United States, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) could direct U.S. military forces to block energy shipments to China, thereby preventing the country from accessing resources to fuel its economy and military forces.

“God forbid there’s ever a conflict with China, but we could end up holding a lot of their economy at risk in the CENTCOM region,” General Erik Kurilla, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told Congress at a hearing in March.

For decades, the United States has been the dominant power in the Middle East. Many of the region’s countries are closely aligned with the United States, relying on U.S. military and economic assistance. Several countries host U.S. military bases, and more than 30,000 U.S. soldiers are deployed throughout the region.

“U.S. posture in the Middle East remains significant,” Defense Department official Celeste Wallander explained in a written statement to Congress.

Having fought several major wars in the region—in Afghanistan, in Iraq, against the Islamic State—the U.S. military has built an infrastructure that enables it to quickly surge U.S. forces into the area.

“DoD is ready to rapidly flow significant forces into the region and to integrate those forces with partners based on decades of military cooperation to enhance interoperability and address any contingency,” Wallander noted.

U.S. officials value the CENTCOM region for its energy resources. The area includes nearly half of the world’s known oil reserves and more than 40 percent of its natural gas. It currently produces 37 percent of the world’s oil and is home to several top oil producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), including Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Russia faces a new neighbourhood threat: China

Bradley Jardine, Edward Lemon

On May 18, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a lavish ceremony in the ornate Tang Paradise theme park in Xian, the heart of the ancient Silk Road, for five visiting Central Asian presidents who had arrived for the inaugural China-Central Asia summit. Conspicuously, the summit took place at the same time as the G7 meeting of wealthy nations in Hiroshima. Commenting on the two summits, China’s state-run Global Times claimed that the “G7 speaks the language of an outmoded Cold War mentality” while the Xian summit focused on the “promotion of cooperation and inclusiveness”.

In his welcoming remarks, Xi hailed the summit as signalling “a new era of China-Central Asia relations”. Xi said that “China is ready to help Central Asian countries strengthen capacity building on law enforcement, security and defence in an effort to safeguard peace in the region”. The summit resulted in a string of economic agreements signalling that China is again open for business after two years of COVID-19 border restrictions.

While China consolidates its hegemony in Eurasia, it is also promoting a viable competitive vision to the current United States-led order. Yet it is presenting itself as an alternative leader not just to the US, but also to Russia, which it aims to gradually displace from Central Asia.
An uneasy partnership

China has grown into the largest economic actor in Central Asia. Total Chinese investments in the region ballooned from $40bn in 2020, to over $70bn by the end of 2022. Russia, which accounted for 80 percent of the region’s trade in the 1990s, now accounts for less than two-thirds of Beijing’s trade.

Lurking beneath these big numbers is a growing asymmetry between China and Central Asia. In 2020, an estimated 45 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s external debt, and 52 percent of Tajikistan’s was owed to China. Meanwhile, 75 percent of Turkmenistan’s exports depend on Chinese consumers. The growing debt burdens have been linked to high-level corruption scandals and have resulted in political instability, also undermining Beijing’s credibility.

China’s New Conscription Rules Reveal Concerns


Recent revisions to the regulations that govern China’s draft highlight some of the military’s deepest insecurities about its own capabilities and people.

In April, China’s Central Military Commission announced that it had revised the “Regulations on Conscription Work.” Released by the Xinhua state news agency, the announcement said that the revisions were carried out to implement “Xi Jinping Thought on strengthening the military” and improve the quality of conscripts to the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA. Yet certain changes inadvertently highlight some of the PLA’s deepest insecurities about its own capabilities and people.

Perhaps most notably, the updated Regulations have a brand-new chapter about the wartime conscription process. The new rules allow the CMC to adjust conscription requirements at will after issuing a national defense mobilization order. It also indicates that during wartime, former soldiers can be called up as a supplement to active service units.

All this strongly suggests that the PLA is thinking not just about what it would actually need in wartime, but also how it continues to suffer from poor retention of its personnel. In particular, better-educated personnel tend to leave after their two-year enlistment is up, put off by the harsh conditions and attracted by more appealing options in the private sector.

In recent years, the PLA has made numerous efforts to boost retention. In 2021, for example, leaders changed the policy that demobilized all conscripted personnel who were not promoted to NCO. Those who wished to stay on could do so in a “second enlistment.” Although the PLA has not released details on the decision to create the second enlistment program, the new Regulations indicate it has not made the headway it hoped in retaining talent.

The Regulations also add a section on punishments—and the crimes that will incur them, such as evading a conscription call, refusal to serve once recruited, obstructing citizens from fulfilling their military service obligations, corruption and malpractice, and dereliction of duty. While the Regulations do not specify punishments, the PLA has been known to issue fines of up to $6,760, and prohibit the recruit from resuming college, going abroad, obtaining government aid or subsidies, obtaining civil service or state-owned enterprise employment, or receiving a business license.

Iran’s Relations With Azerbaijan Get Heated Over Attacks, Baku’s Ties To Israel – Analysis

Michael Scollon

For the second time in just months, Baku has warned its citizens against traveling to Iran in the wake of a deadly attack on the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran in January that it blamed on the “unstable situation in the Islamic republic.”

In what has become a habit in recent weeks, Iranian officials have been angered over the perceived obstinacy of its northwestern neighbor and the encroachment of regional adversaries on what Tehran believes to be its backyard.

Azerbaijan’s increasingly cozy relations with Iran’s archfoe, Israel — highlighted by defense deals, the opening of an embassy in Tel Aviv in March, and Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s first visit to Azerbaijan last month — has become a reliable trigger for Tehran as its own ties with Baku hit new lows.

Tehran does not officially recognize Israel, which it refers to disparagingly as a Palestinian-killing “Zionist regime” and accuses of having designs on sabotage and unrest within Iran’s borders.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan has warned against the travel of its citizens to Iran! This is the same policy that the president of the fake, child-killing, and occupying Zionist regime took during his recent trip to Baku,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani tweeted on June 5. “What should scare the people of Azerbaijan is the Zionist regime, not civilized and Islamic Iran.”
Complicated Relationship

Herzog’s visit, during which he said he and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev discussed in depth “the regional security structure that is threatened by Iran,” appeared to have struck a nerve in Tehran.

“From the standpoint of the Islamic republic, the close relations of Azerbaijan with Israel is a major problem, [as is] the active presence of Israel in the military sphere [of Azerbaijan] and providing it with weaponry and the tight economic and security ties between the two countries,” Iran analyst Touraj Atabaki, professor emeritus and chairman of the social history of the Middle East and Central Asia at Leiden University, told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda.

But Baku’s budding ties with Israel are just one among many factors straining Iran’s relationship with Azerbaijan, a fellow Shi’a-majority country.

Russian troops 'swept away by floodwaters'

Russian soldiers were swept away by floodwaters following the Kakhovka dam breach as they tried to flee the east bank of the Dnipro River, Ukrainian sources claimed.

When the dam collapsed on Tuesday “no one on the Russian side was able to get away,” Captain Andrei Pidlisnyi, an officer in Ukraine’s armed forces, told CNN. “All the regiments the Russians had on that side were flooded.”

He said that many Russian troops were killed or wounded in the chaos.

Captain Pidlisnyi said his unit watched the events unfold using drones and troops on the ground.

He suggested the Russian unit in question may not have been given a warning by the Russian forces he claimed blew up the dam to maintain the element of surprise.

Russia is known to have built up defensive fortifications on the low-lying east bank on the river, which bore the brunt of much of the floodwater.

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Putin calls Kakhovka dam attack a 'barbaric act' in first reaction

President Vladimir Putin has called the attack on the Russian-occupied Kakhovka dam, which Moscow has blamed on Ukraine, a “barbaric act”, in his first public reaction to the situation.

Putin told Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call that the breach was “a barbaric act which has led to a large-scale environmental and humanitarian catastrophe”, the Kremlin said in a statement.

In the wake of the dam’s collapse, Volodymr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president accused Moscow of deliberately bringing down the 30-metre-high structure with pre-laid explosives.

Engineers and munitions experts told the New York Times a deliberate explosion was the most likely cause of the collapse.

Britain warns of more flooding from dam break as thousands trapped

Neorealism Realized in Ukraine: Another Notch in the Post for Realpolitik

Brent Lawniczak


The Russian invasion of Ukraine may have come as a surprise to some foreign policy and military experts. Yet, that a state would carry out such an act of “naked aggression” should not come as a surprise to any who have engaged in even a cursory study of international politics.[1] While some scholars have noted that humans, thence states, have become less violent or that states have grown more inclined to cooperate over time, the historical record bears out a contradicting set of facts.[2] The fact is that the nature of human beings, and the nature of international politics, is such that there will always be bad actors. The result is that states, to ensure their own security and survival, must recognize this fact and prepare accordingly. A brief overview of liberal and neorealist international relations thought allows us to examine, in light of the war in Ukraine, select key assumptions of the liberal and neorealist international relations paradigms that have been challenged and validated, respectively.

The Risk of Validating Military Operational Lessons Learned Too Early

The Strategy Bridge second quarter call for submissions included an interesting set of observations from senior U.S. military leaders. These observations point to some of the potential biases career professionals can bring to the discussion and the risk of determining lessons to be learned while combat operations continue.

Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, General James McConville, repeated the maxim that amateurs study tactics and professionals study logistics; General Mark Kelly, Commander of Air Combat Command, pointed to a lack of air superiority as Russia’s problem; while General David Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, used the conflict to argue that ‘winning the reconnaissance/counter-reconnaissance fight early on [is] critical.’[3]

Though each observation may be accurate on its own terms, each is also incomplete. These officers, like most, view the world through the lens they have developed over a career in their particular branch of service and career specialty. A bureaucratic model of politics suggests that “where you stand depends on where you sit.”[4] You see what you see, you study that which you see, and the evidence sought and found will tend to support predetermined notions.

Jamming JDAM: The Threat to US Munitions from Russian Electronic Warfare

Dr Thomas Withington

The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) began life in the wake of the US-led Operation Desert Storm which evicted Iraq from Kuwait in 1991. Lessons learned from the campaign by the US armed forces included the need for an all-weather precision munition. The concept would harness the US Global Positioning System (GPS) Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) satellite constellation. GPS had been a star performer in Desert Storm. Catapulted into the public consciousness, GPS systems used by the Coalition helped weapons find their targets and troops reach their objectives. Since then, GPS has become a standard feature of military and civilian life.
What is JDAM?

The JDAM’s name is – to an extent – a misnomer, as it is not a weapon per se. Instead, the term covers a panoply of kits outfitting an array of ‘dumb’ bombs. These kits equip the mid- and tail-section of an unguided bomb and contain the GPS and an Inertial Guidance System (INS). The INS, which does not depend on GPS PNT signals, also helps the weapon’s precision. Today, 15 different JDAM kits are in service, equipping a range of bombs weighing from 500 lb (225 kg) to 2,000 lb (900 kg).

The basic concept of operations for JDAM is for the guidance kit to be loaded with the target’s coordinates, most probably latitude and longitude. These coordinates are either transferred from the aircraft or loaded before the sortie. Target coordinates can also be updated during the mission. The weapon is released, and the tail unit continually receives signals from the GPS constellation on the bomb’s position relative to the target. The bomb’s trajectory is continually adjusted by the fins on the tail unit as it heads towards the target, based on the PNT information it is receiving and the data provided by its INS. Publicly available figures indicate that JDAM guidance kits can hit within 5 m (16 ft) of a target or less. Should the GPS signal be unavailable, the INS can steer the bomb to within 30 m (98 ft) of the target.
Into Ukraine

U.S. had intelligence of detailed Ukrainian plan to attack Nord Stream pipeline

Shane Harris and Souad Mekhennet

Details about the plan, which have not been previously reported, were collected by a European intelligence service and shared with the CIA in June 2022. They provide some of the most specific evidence to date linking the government of Ukraine to the eventual attack in the Baltic Sea, which U.S. and Western officials have called a brazen and dangerous act of sabotage on Europe’s energy infrastructure.

The European intelligence report was shared on the chat platform Discord, allegedly by Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira. The Washington Post obtained a copy from one of Teixeira’s online friends.

The intelligence report was based on information obtained from an individual in Ukraine. The source’s information could not immediately be corroborated, but the CIA shared the report with Germany and other European countries last June, according to multiple officials familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence operations and diplomatic discussions.

The Discord Leaks

Dozens of highly classified documents have been leaked online, revealing sensitive information intended for senior military and intelligence leaders. In an exclusive investigation, The Post also reviewed scores of additional secret documents, most of which have not been made public.

Who leaked the documents? Jack Teixeira, a young member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was charged in the investigation into leaks of hundreds of pages of classified military intelligence. The Post reported that the individual who leaked the information shared documents with a small circle of online friends on the Discord chat platform.

What do the leaked documents reveal about Ukraine? The documents reveal profound concerns about the war’s trajectory and Kyiv’s capacity to wage a successful offensive against Russian forces. According to a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment among the leaked documents, “Negotiations to end the conflict are unlikely during 2023.”

What else do they show? The files include summaries of human intelligence on high-level conversations between world leaders, as well as information about advanced satellite technology the United States uses to spy. They also include intelligence on both allies and adversaries, including Iran and North Korea, as well as Britain, Canada, South Korea and Israel.

What happens now? The leak has far-reaching implications for the United States and its allies. In addition to the Justice Department investigation, officials in several countries said they were assessing the damage from the leaks.

End of carousel

The Ukraine-Russia Culture War


BERKELEY/KYIV – When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, few believed resistance would last longer than a few days. In both Russia and the West, Russian troops were expected to sweep into Kyiv, parade uniforms in hand, install a proxy government, and effectively end Ukrainian statehood.

But whereas Western leaders believed that Ukraine was no match for Russia militarily, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s confidence in a swift victory rested on a more fundamental assumption: Ukrainians would have little will to resist, because they had never actually existed. In Putin’s eyes, Ukraine’s history and identity were so bound up with Russia that its people would have no reason to risk their lives and property for the sake of sovereignty.

The war is rooted in this imperial miscalculation. The strength of Ukraine’s resistance has depended less on the military assistance provided by NATO members than on the Ukrainian people’s insistence on their own agency and destiny. Ukrainians understand that the fight is for their national survival, and that cultural decolonization is essential to it.

This has caused much handwringing in the West, where Ukrainians’ unwillingness to share the stage with Russians is still raising eyebrows. In May, for example, the Russian-American writer Masha Gessen resigned from the board of PEN America in response to the cancellation of a panel they were chairing with two Russian writers at the organization’s World Voices Festival. Two Ukrainian writers – both active soldiers – had refused to participate in an event with Russians, so the Russians were sent packing. (A similar episode occurred in Estonia earlier the same month.)

While some decried “the impulse to censor anyone Russian,” Gessen’s response to the episode was sympathetic to the Ukrainians and nuanced in justifying their resignation (Gessen uses they/them pronouns). While recognizing that “Ukrainians are constantly confronted with Russian dominance in cultural spheres and in academia,” their concern was for the “human victims” – the curators, musicians, and writers whose work was in danger of being “erased.”

The West isn’t ready to give Ukraine the security pledges it wants


Ukraine is pleading for binding security guarantees to ensure long-term survival. Allies just aren’t ready to do that yet.

Despite months of conversations about the subject, the Western alliance is still divided over nearly every element of how to respond to the request, according to five European diplomats.

Should NATO, which Ukraine is aspiring to join, be having that conversation? Or should the world’s biggest military powers provide individual pledges? Are any guarantees short of NATO membership worthwhile?

And, officials are wondering, what even constitutes a “security guarantee”?

All these questions remain open, the diplomats said, even as allies are only five weeks away from gathering in Vilnius for a key NATO summit. Ukraine has set the summit as a sort of deadline, pushing for allies to make explicit commitments at the gathering about letting Ukraine into NATO and providing security guarantees along the way.

“Ukraine is the most experienced country in the world in hearing ‘no’ from NATO,” lamented Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Olha Stefanishyna.

“We need clarity,” she added, “that Ukraine’s NATO membership is inevitable and will not be some kind of bargain chip.”

Kyiv’s backers are thus grappling with an awkward reality: many don’t actually want to give Ukraine a concrete timetable for joining NATO at the moment. But they also don’t want to leave Ukrainians disappointed or vulnerable to yet another invasion down the line.

As a result, a number of Western European leaders are increasingly stumping for security guarantees and offering more upbeat language about membership. But underneath the rhetoric, the actual planning is muddled — a reflection of the difficulty of getting a diverse group of governments on the same page as fighting rages on the ground in Ukraine.

Japan’s New Security Strategy, Part 2: The Ongoing Debates

Pascal Lottaz

In December 2022, Japan announced a new National Security Strategy, including a significant increase of the defense budget and the acquisition of offensive weaponry. While the decision has been praised among the hawks of U.S. and transatlantic foreign policymaking, it is stirring up old ghosts of Japanese militarism in East Asia. At the same time, Japan has been advocating for nuclear disarmament, including at the recent G-7 meeting in Hiroshima; made tremendous headway in mending relations with South Korea; and engaged in meaningful dialogue with China, including a meeting between defense ministers in Singapore on June 3.

Japan is on a multi-dimensional security trajectory, but what does that mean for the future of Asia? This three-part series explores some of the implications. The first article discussed key aspects of Japan’s past security policies; this second article summarizes the recent security debate in Tokyo; and the third article will evaluate the country’s new security strategy.

New Strategy: Counterstrike Yes, Counterattack No

In December 2022, the Kishida government decided to double Japan’s annual defense related expenditures over the next five years to 2 percent of GDP. Although only 70 percent of that will go directly to the military, Japan is now approaching the same defense expenditure level that NATO countries are committed to. Simultaneously, the government published a new National Security Strategy (NSS) together with two more reports, outlining that Japan needed “counterstrike capabilities” in the form of offensive missile systems with the ability to strike deep into the North Korean and Chinese heartlands.

In Western media, this has been widely regarded as a major policy shift and even a departure by Japan from its post-war peace-oriented defense policy. A cover-page Time magazine article even featured the title “Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wants to abandon decades of pacifism – and make his country a true military power.”

Interview with Eric Schlosser: Why we can’t trust the government’s figures about nuclear close calls

Dan Drollette Jr

In the world of accidents, close calls, and near-misses, perhaps nothing is more chilling than incidents involving nuclear weapons.

For years, the US military has said that the number of unintentional launches, detonations, thefts, or losses of nuclear weaponry—often referred to as “Broken Arrows”—has been no more than 32.

But investigative journalists such as Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, assert that the Pentagon’s list includes inaccuracies and is missing key events. Due to the looseness with which a nuclear weapons accident is defined, there may be hundreds more accidents. In this interview, Schlosser tells the Bulletin’s Dan Drollette Jr what led him to that realization.

More important, the large number of close calls and near-misses shows that no system for safeguarding nuclear weapons can ever be 100-percent effective—meaning that the United States (and other nuclear weapons nations, which have Broken Arrows of their own) can never completely eliminate the potential for catastrophic nuclear error. Says Schlosser: “These are the most dangerous machines ever invented, and we need to reduce the number of them—and eventually get rid of them. But until the day that nuclear weapons are abolished, we need to spare no expense in terms of their safety and their management and take them deadly seriously.”

Dan Drollette Jr: As an investigative journalist, you’ve written on quite a number of different subject areas: fast food, the underground economy, and the history of nuclear weapons systems and accidents involving nukes in the United States…

Eric Schlosser: …and now a book on prisons.

Drollette: What’s the common thread?

Schlosser: I’d say it’s things that are bad for you. Slaughterhouses, nuclear weapons, and prisons are all things you try to avoid.

Why the World Still Needs Trade

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The international economic architecture built after 1945 was based on a powerful idea: economic interdependence is crucial, if insufficient, for global peace and prosperity. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the predecessor to the World Trade Organization were founded in response to the three preceding decades of ceaseless instability, when the world had been devastated by two world wars, the Great Depression, and political extremism. It had also been a period of deglobalization, in which countries retreated into increasingly isolated trading blocs. In the rubble of World War II, governments sought to construct a new system that, by linking countries in a dense web of economic ties, would consign such chaos and division to history.

For much of the past 75 years, policymakers from across the world recognized the power of economic interdependence. Countries tore down trade barriers, opening their economies to one another. On balance, their record was impressive. Closer economic integration went hand in hand with rising global prosperity, an unprecedented reduction in poverty, and an unusually long period of great-power peace. Since 1990, the share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has fallen by three-quarters. At the center of this great leap in human well-being was a 20-fold increase in international trade volumes, which helped lift per capita incomes by a factor of 27 over the last six decades.

This economic vision is now under attack, and its achievements are in danger. A series of shocks in the space of 15 years—first the global financial crisis, then the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine—have created an alternative narrative about globalization. Far from making countries economically stronger, this new line of thinking goes, globalization exposes them to excessive risks. Economic interdependence is no longer seen as a virtue; it is seen as a vice. The new mantra is that what countries need is not interdependence but independence, with integration limited at best to a small circle of friendly nations.

The Shocking Economic Damage To Ukraine From Russia’s Invasion

Sebastien Roblin

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has killed tens of thousands of people, traumatized millions more, and destroyed many cities in eastern Ukraine.

And this is all for naught. Putin’s hopes of overthrowing Ukraine’s government and seizing its Black Sea coastline were decisively dashed in 2022.

In addition to the human and material destruction, the economic harm of Putin’s failed war is nothing short of tremendous, as outlined in the first issue of a new Ukrainian Recovery Digest released by the Kyiv School of Economics.

The digest’s findings are in line with an interview I had last November with the school’s president, former Economic Minister Tymofiy Mylovanov, regarding the scope of that damage, as well as Ukraine’s efforts to deepen democracy and fight corruption.

Mylovanov highlighted the report’s key findings in a Twitter thread. This piece provides additional context on their significance.
Ukraine GDP Cratered, Defense Spending Flew

Cumulatively, the loss of territory, business, and people due to Russia’s invasion and bombardments and its occupation or blockade of critical Black Sea ports caused Ukraine to lose 29.1% of its pre-war gross domestic product. Industrial output fell even more, at a 36.9% loss. The only silver lining is that this nosedive is projected to halt in 2023, with GDP expected to grow by 2%.

It is not exactly shocking that Ukraine’s government in 2022 dedicated 80% of its tax revenue to defense and security, spending defense dollars at nine times its monthly rate in 2021. Existential struggles for survival will do that to national budgets. Much of the cost goes to salaries for Ukraine’s mobilized armed forces. These have added hundreds of thousands of personnel to reach roughly 1 million men and women at arms in various services.

Nord Stream revelations should chasten Ukraine dam ‘hot takes’

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

This week’s bombshell news that the CIA knew of Ukraine’s plans to sabotage the Nord Stream pipeline three months before it blew up hasn’t given pause to some Western political leaders and commentators who are already suggesting that Russia might be behind the Kakhovka Dam explosion in Ukraine on Tuesday.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg blamed Russia without blaming Russia Wednesday, saying “this is an outrageous act, which demonstrates — once again — the brutality of Russia’s war against Ukraine.” An unnamed “senior NATO official” later told NBC that Russia would stand to benefit.

German chancellor Olaf Sholz was a bit more direct, saying he saw the attack as a “new dimension” of Russia’s war, and again, without coming right out and blaming Russia, said that it “fits the way Putin is waging this war.”

While it may be too soon to make “a definitive judgment,” said UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, if proven an intentional act, “it would represent the largest attack on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine since the start of the war” and “demonstrate new lows” on behalf of Russia, he told reporters Wednesday as he embarked on a trip to meet with President Biden in Washington.

Also on Tuesday, NBC News reported that “two U.S. officials and one Western official” told the news outlet that “the U.S. has intelligence that is leaning toward Russia as the perpetrator of the attack. U.S. officials were working to declassify some of the intelligence and share it as early as Tuesday afternoon.” Two days later, nothing more has been revealed as the White House continues to maintain that it is looking into Ukraine’s allegations that Russia sabotaged the dam, but doesn’t have any conclusive evidence to say so either way.

For its part, Russia has blamed Ukrainian sabotage for bursting the dam, citing Ukraine’s interest in thwarting Moscow’s own attacks in the Kherson region.

Meanwhile on Twitter, Yale professor Timothy Snyder unleashed a 10-tweet thread to his over 500k followers warning against repeating Russia’s claims, and “the temptation to bothsides a calamity. That’s not journalism.”

End US’ strategic ambiguity policy

Joseph Bosco

Warren Buffet just cast a vote of no confidence in the ability and/or will of the administration of US President Joe Biden to deter China from attacking Taiwan just as it failed to deter Russia from invading Ukraine while boasting that it knew the assault was coming.

Buffet voted with his feet by walking away from his once-formidable investment in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s leading chipmaker and Taiwan’s flagship high-tech company. His announcement came only days after Elon Musk said that China’s conquest and occupation of Taiwan was “an inevitability.” Other foreign corporations have also grown increasingly nervous about the prospect of war across the Taiwan Strait and the danger that it would lead to a US-China conflict.

Some political and national security pundits, such as US Senator Josh Hawley and Elbridge Colby, a deputy assistant secretary of defense during the administration of former US president Donald Trump, argue that US support for Ukraine drains military resources that would be needed to supply Taiwan for its self-defense.

That zero-sum approach is flawed, first because the nature of a cross-strait conflict would differ from the kind of grinding land war that is being waged in Ukraine, and would employ mostly different naval, air and missile systems.

Moreover, geostrategically, the West must do whatever it takes to defend both Ukraine and Taiwan to prevent either Russia or China from successfully upending the international order. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) have voiced their conviction that democracy must be defended everywhere that authoritarian powers are attacking it.

Biden and NATO have said they would support Ukraine’s defense for “as long as it takes” — after having looked the other way when Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Georgia in 2008 and eastern Ukraine and Crimea in 2014.

Putin, on the other hand, aided and abetted by his “no limits strategic partner,” Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), is betting that Western resistance would flag in the face of Russia’s brutal onslaught and the Putin-stoked fears of escalation.

New ICBM Delayed at Least a Year, GAO Says


The Air Force’s next intercontinental ballistic missile will arrive at least a year behind schedule, according to the Government Accountability Office’s annual evaluation of Pentagon weapons programs.

“Initial capability” for the LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM is now slated for April to June 2030, the report says—a year later than the May 2029 date given in the Pentagon’s most recent Selected Acquisition Report.

“Sentinel is behind schedule due to staffing shortfalls, delays with clearance processing, and classified information technology infrastructure challenges. Additionally, the program is experiencing supply chain disruptions, leading to further schedule delays. The prime contractor is working on multiple supply chain mitigations to address the issue,” GAO said.

The contractor, Northrop Grumman, is discussing the “potential changes” to the schedule with the Pentagon, GAO said.

Air Force leaders hinted at possible delays to the ICBM program earlier this year. Keeping the effort on schedule will be a “challenge,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told Congress at the end of April, because it’s a “very complicated, very large program.”

Indeed, it requires a “total system replacement of the intercontinental ballistic missile system’s 400 missiles, 450 silos, and more than 600 facilities over a 31,900 square-mile landmass,” GAO said.

The program told GAO that the Air Force is “actively working to address current and potential future macroeconomic pressures via an updated acquisition strategy.”

However, the missile’s first flight test is still on track for this year, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown said Wednesday at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

“We're continuing to work very closely with our industry partner on driving down any type of risk getting to that first flight, but also just over the long term, as well,” Brown said.

The ICBM replacement has also been criticized for its hefty price tag, which could exceed a quarter-trillion dollars.