20 June 2023

What Modi's Visit to Washington Tells Us About Indian American Voters


India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) talks with US President Joe Biden (C) as India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar looks on during the first working session of the G20 leaders' summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on Nov. 15, 2022.

Narendra Modi was once shunned by the U.S. In 2005, the then-chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat was denied a diplomatic visa amid accusations he tacitly supported Hindu mobs during communal violence three years earlier that left more than a thousand people, most of them Muslim, dead.

But he is shunned no more. On June 22, Washington will roll out the red carpet for Modi, who will become just the third world leader (after France’s Emmanuel Macron and South Korea’s Yoon Suk Yeol) to be invited by President Joe Biden for a state visit and dinner, the highest of diplomatic receptions typically reserved for only the closest of allies. That Biden has chosen to fete Modi in this way is indicative of the “deep and close partnership” between their two countries, the White House said in a statement, especially on matters of foreign policy. But it is perhaps also emblematic of the growing visibility and electoral heft of the Indian American community.

India and the U.S. Can Together Make Tech More Accessible to All

Samir Saran

The growing partnership between India and the United States has the potential to shape both the global technology landscape and 21st-century geopolitics. The two democracies must ensure that technological advances work toward a more secure and prosperous world. There is already momentum: The U.S.-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET), announced last year, made strides to strengthen the connections between the U.S. and Indian innovation ecosystems in January. As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington this month, now is the moment to aim even higher.

The Modi-Biden Dynamic for Next Steps in India-U.S. Relations


Summary: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the United States, India-U.S. relations merit a closer look. This article outlines the likely next steps for continuing successful bilateral relations between the two countries.

The year 2000 marked the beginning of a new phase of sustained consolidation of relations between India and the United States. Alongside the growing convergence of interests, each successive U.S. president and Indian prime minister has brought their own vision and imprint to bear on the evolution of the India-U.S. relationship.

Former president Bill Clinton pioneered this phase. In the wake of the nuclear tests conducted by India in May 1998 and the subsequent, strident criticism and sanctions from the United States, he tasked then deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott with starting a series of deep-dive discussions with his Indian counterpart, Jaswant Singh, who was mandated by the prime minister (and who later became India’s foreign, defense, and finance minister at various times). These discussions aimed to understand strategic compulsions and explore convergence. In addition to these efforts, Clinton’s visit to India in March 2000 set the countries on a new path. Speaking at the Indian Parliament on March 22, Clinton evoked the idea of “two nations conceived in liberty, each finding strength in its diversity, each seeing in the other a reflection of its own aspiration for a more humane and just world.” He added: “We welcome India’s leadership in the region and the world . . . we want to take our partnership to a new level, to advance our common values and interests.” 1

Following Clinton’s example, former president George W. Bush tasked Condoleezza Rice with focusing on developing relations with India even before he formally launched his presidential campaign in 1999. This is attributed, inter alia, to his experience with Indian-origin professionals in Texas, including their support for his political campaigns. Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on November 19, 1999, Bush said, “Often overlooked in our strategic calculations is that great land that rests at the south of Eurasia. This coming century will see democratic India’s arrival as a force in the world.”2 After becoming president, he asked his administration to find ways to deepen the U.S.-India partnership. This led to the internal conclusion that the United States needed to remove existing civilian nuclear technology restrictions on India to enable higher-level technology releases for strengthening economic and investment links and a robust defense partnership. These efforts culminated in the pathbreaking Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, signed in 2008.3 Discussions to finalize the agreement started in 2005, but bureaucratic and nonproliferation-related concerns and advocacy in the U.S. Congress and policy community repeatedly caused roadblocks. It is acknowledged that it often took Bush’s personal intervention and push for agreed outcomes to keep the process moving. During his final meeting with Bush on September 25, 2008, visiting Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh said that “the people of India deeply love you” (at a time when Bush had become extremely unpopular in the United States on account of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the failure and losses from that effort). Singh added, “When history is written, I think it will be recorded that President George W. Bush played a historic role in bringing our two democracies closer to each other.” 4

Can a Defense Innovation Bridge Elevate India-U.S. Defense Cooperation?



India and the United States are set to launch INDUS-X, an innovation bridge under the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) that will connect the defense innovation ecosystems of both countries. India and the United States hold defense cooperation as a major pillar of their strategic partnership, and defense ties between the two countries have deepened considerably over the last two decades. However, defense innovation cooperation has been noticeably absent from the relationship. Could INDUS-X bridge this gap?


Over the last decade, the emergence of the defense private sector in India has opened new avenues of cooperation with the United States. Some American companies have already partnered with Indian entities to leverage their low-cost production capabilities. For instance, Boeing and Lockheed Martin have established joint ventures with the Tata Group to manufacture fuselages of Apache AH-64 helicopters and wings for F-16 fighters, respectively. General Electric has similarly partnered with Indian firms such as Tata, Mahindra, and Godrej to manufacture aero engine components.

Rahul Bhatia is a research analyst with the Security Studies Program at Carnegie India. His research focuses on India’s borders and India’s foreign and defense policies.

More importantly, for the defense innovation bridge, India is now home to a budding defense and space startup ecosystem. Today, Indian defense startups are developing a wide spectrum of cutting-edge technologies for the Indian armed forces to employ. These range from unmanned platforms and body armor to surveillance systems and advanced imaging capabilities. The Indian Army has recently procured unmanned aerial systems (UAVs) or drones from Indian defense startups such as ideaForge, NewSpace Research & Technologies, and Raphe mPhibr to enhance its surveillance capabilities along the India-China border and transport supplies to soldiers in forward posts.

Indian space startups, too, have been abuzz with activity since the Indian government announced its plans to liberalize the sector in 2020. Skyroot Aerospace recently launched India’s first private rocket and aims to put a satellite into orbit this year. Digantara, another startup, has built an observatory to track space debris and military satellites over the South Asian region. Some space startups, such as Pixxel and Dhruva Space, have also committed to building satellite manufacturing and assembly facilities—something that would benefit from scale if there were a possibility to build for defense applications as well.


Endemic Violence In Manipur: Successive Governments Had Set The Tone By Weaponizing Ethnic Issues – Analysis

P. K. Balachandran

Binalakshmi Nepram, founder-leader of the Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network (MWGSN) blames successive Indian central governments since 1949 for the current ethnic violence in Manipur which has so far claimed more than 100 lives and displaced more than 50,000 people.

In an article Binalakshmi Nepram wrote with Brigitta W. Schuchert for the United States Institute of Peace on June 22, she says that since independence, successive governments in New Delhi have weaponized ethnic issues in Manipur and other parts of India’s North East region and that this is at the root of the perennial violence witnessed in Manipur and the North East.

” The state (Manipur) government’s response has largely echoed the strategies India has previously employed during unrest in the Northeast or Jammu and Kashmir. This has included issuing military curfews, suspending internet services and deploying approximately 17,000 troops and paramilitary forces with shoot-on-site orders in extreme cases,” Nepram and Schuchert say.

Further: “While the violence in Manipur is some of the worst witnessed in the state in decades, it is not an unfamiliar occurrence in India’s Northeast, where the identities of different ethnic communities have repeatedly been weaponized to serve the interests of a powerful few.”

“Any moves toward peace-building in the medium- to long-term will have to reckon with what has long been a weaponization of colonial fault lines — as even decades after India’s independence, very little has been done to foster understanding between different communities regarding one another’s history, culture and traditions.”

Opposition to the manner in which Manipur was merged with India in 1949 laid the groundwork for the separatist movements that appeared over the years, Nepram and Schuchert say.

How India And China Revved Up Russian Resilience To Economic Distress – Analysis

Subrata Majumder

Arguments, debates and surprises spun on Russia circumventing set back to the economy, like recession or stagnation, even after continuing war with Ukraine over a period of one year, coupled with sanctions by most rich nations. In contrast, Germany went under recession, owing to the Ukraine war. About 37 countries have imposed sanctions on Russia since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia’s economy shrank by 2.1 percent in 2022, but was positive for the bounce back in 2023. According to latest IMF outlook, GDP of Russia is expected to inch up by 0.7 percent in 2023. These demonstrate that Russian economy avoided recession, unlike Japan and Germany, which are more damaging to the economy in longer term.

Russia is the 8th largest economy by nominal GDP and 6th largest economy by PPP. Oil and gas accounted for about 40 percent of Russia’s federal Budget Revenue and 60 percent of exports in 2019.

The underlying factors leveraging Russian resilience to economic distress were energy trade and partisan in the global trade. Buoyancy in trade with India and China played a key role in boosting Russian resilience. Surging imports by India and China from Russia triggered revenue exchequer to save the economy from the distress.

In 2022-23, India’s imports from Russia spurred by 368.2 percent. It is a consequential leap over and above the spur in imports in the preceding year. India’s imports from Russia increased by 79.9 percent in 2021-22.

So did the China’s bubbling growth in imports from Russia. In 2022, China’s imports from Russia leaped by 43.4 percent. For the first time, Russia became one of the top ten trade partners of China. Much to the surprise and which is unusual, China borne the trade deficit with Russia. In 2022, China’s import from Russia was US$114.5 billion, against export of US$76.1 billion, leaving much cushion to Russia to earn revenue to tide over the war and sanction fall out.

In both the cases, energy was the primary reason for surge in imports from Russia.

Imran Khan’s Ill-Fated Revolution

Husain Haqqani

Pakistan is adrift in a sea of troubles. Its economy is in a tailspin. GDP growth in the past year shriveled to only 0.29 percent. Annual inflation has soared to 36 percent, and annual inflation in food prices stands at a whopping 48 percent. The country faces a balance-of-payments crisis, and negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over a bailout have stalled. Catastrophic floods in 2022 have forced the country, until recently a wheat exporter, to import wheat.

Compounding the economic misery is the ongoing security threat posed by the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group that has grown increasingly brazen in its attacks on civilian and military targets across the country. Internationally, Pakistan’s standing is at an all-time low. Relations with the United States, once an ally and the source of billions of dollars in military and economic assistance, have waned since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. India, a rival ever since the two countries emerged from the partition of British India in 1947, refuses to engage its neighbor until Pakistan acknowledges its role in backing terrorism across the border and clamps down on militants. Even traditional partners and friends, including China and countries in the Arab and Islamic world, seem weary of Pakistan’s metastasizing crises.

But in the last year, these myriad woes have been driven to the margins by the crisis occupying center stage, a political drama that has convulsed the whole country. Since the spring of 2022, Pakistani politics have been gripped by the struggle between Imran Khan—the populist former prime minister who was ousted by a parliamentary vote of no confidence last year—the country’s powerful military, and the ruling civilian political parties.

Khan once enjoyed the backing of the army, which helped steer him to power in 2018, but he fell out of favor and tumbled out of power in 2022. Ever since, he has led rallies and marches across the country, blaming the United States for conspiring to remove him from office, decrying the government that replaced his, and denouncing senior military commanders. The situation came to a head on May 9, when Khan was arrested on corruption charges, an event that sent his supporters into the streets. Mobs attacked the army headquarters and several military installations, precipitating a crackdown. Khan’s followers have been arrested en masse, and many leaders of his party have quit, some under pressure from the military. It seems unlikely that Khan’s challenge to the ruling establishment will ever be able to regain the strength it once seemed to possess. Khan, often lampooned as a populist hothead, fought for himself more than for democracy, and his orchestration of violence to demonstrate his popularity could precipitate his defeat by the army. Instead of safeguarding Pakistan’s fragile democracy, Khan’s refusal to compromise with other civilian parties has added to the abiding strength of the generals and the tenacity of their grip on the country.


Ongoing upheaval in Pakistan unlikely to destabilise military ties with China: Report

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 16 (ANI): The military cooperation between China and Pakistan is “extensive and deep.” The ongoing political and economic upheaval in Pakistan is unlikely to affect the military relationship between China and Pakistan, Observer Research Foundation reported.

The depth of cooperation between China and Pakistan can be assumed by Wang Yi, who was China’s erstwhile foreign minister and now director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission (OFAC) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) statement that China backs Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, stability, and unity despite the ongoing domestic crisis in Pakistan, Kartik Bommakanti, Senior Fellow with the Strategic Studies Programme at the Observer Research Foundation wrote in the report.

The Peoples Liberation Army’s (PLA) senior leadership and Central Military Commission (CMC), do not consider the current crisis of Pakistan affecting the bilateral ties, Observer Research Foundation reported. During the Pakistani Navy Chief Amjad Khan Niazi’s visit to China in 2023, Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu stressed that military cooperation stood at the core of the bilateral ties.

Steadiness is a constant in the strategic ties between China and Pakistan. The closeness of the Sino-Pak military poses a security challenge to its immediate neighbour India. China aids Pakistan by directly transferring its nuclear technology. Beijing also supplied Pakistan with ballistic missiles such as the M-9 and M-11, as per the report.

The ties between China and Pakistan in the space sector cover Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and satellite navigation services. China has extended cooperation with Pakistan in space exploration, science, and astronaut training areas for many years. China has also involved Pakistan in their indigenously-built BeiDou Satellite Navigation (SatNav) system since 2013.

Russian Roulette in Taliban-Held Afghanistan

Shanthie Mariet D’Souza

Abdul Salam Hanafi, a deputy prime minister in the Taliban’s interim government, left, speaks to members of his delegation during talks involving Afghan representatives in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021.Credit: AP Photo/ Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool

Russia found a rare strategic opportunity to regain its foothold in Afghanistan as the United States withdrew forces and the Taliban took power in August 2021. This opportunity has, however, been squandered as Moscow dedicates nearly all its military muscle and strategic thinking toward the war in Ukraine. Russia’s policy toward the Taliban and Afghanistan today is inconsistent, to say the least. It is divided between trying to protect Russia’s security concerns and at the same time trying to placate the Taliban, as part of the nascent China-led effort to fill the vacuum left by the withdrawal of the United States and NATO.

The Taliban’s capture of power in August 2021 was a welcome event for the Russians. Reports suggest that Russian and Iranian funding and equipment helped the insurgents achieve their objective with breakneck speed. However, Moscow’s hope for the inclusion of Russian allies and proxies in Afghanistan in a coalition government headed by the Taliban was left unfulfilled. The faction-ridden Taliban held onto power, dismissing any prospects of including former President Hamid Karzai, deposed CEO Abdullah Abdullah, Ahmad Mashud, the Hazara groups, or the Tajik Jamiat-i Islami. In October 2021, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was withholding recognition from the Taliban until promises they made when they took power, including on the political and ethnic inclusivity of the new government, are fulfilled.

However, over the next couple of months, the Russians were forced to swallow the bitter pill and pursue their Plan B, i.e. doing business with the Taliban anyway. Not surprisingly, the Russian embassy in Kabul remained operational. In January 2022, along with Pakistan, Russia emphasized the need for “practical engagement” with the Taliban. In April 2022, Russia handed over the Afghan embassy in Moscow to the Taliban’s representatives.

IMF Slams New Pakistan Budget Proposal

Munir Ahmed

The International Monetary Fund slammed Pakistan’s government on Thursday over its proposal for the new annual budget, saying it failed to implement a more fair tax system in the draft.

The harsh criticism by Esther Perez Ruiz, IMF’s representative for Pakistan, raised new concerns about the success of months-long talks between the cash-strapped Islamic nation and the lender over a stalled bailout tranche.

However, Perez Ruiz also said the IMF was offering to “work with the government in refining its strategy” for the budget.

The government in Islamabad last week presented the budget in the National Assembly, or lower house of the parliament, for the next fiscal year, starting July 1. The draft also introduced a new tax amnesty scheme and skipped some of the anticipated taxes.

The proposal was likely an attempt by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to avoid anti-inflation protests and bring relief to the poorest people, with an eye toward general elections later this year.

However, it also envisages an up to 35 percent increase in salaries for government employees, drawing criticism as experts questioned how the administration would generate resources for development projects and salaries at a time when the fiscal deficit was widening to an alarming level.

Lawmakers are expected to debate and vote on the budget sometime later this month.

According to Perez Ruiz, the Pakistani government is missing “an opportunity to broaden the tax base in a more progressive way, and the long list of new tax expenditures reduces further the fairness of the tax system and undercuts the resources needed for greater support for vulnerable” people.

As Beijing’s intelligence capabilities grow, spying becomes an increasing flashpoint in US-China ties

Simone McCarthy

US sailors recover a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon that was downed by the United States off the coast of South Carolina, on February 5, 2023.U.S. 

For the second time this year, concerns of Chinese spying on the United States have cast a shadow over a planned visit to China by the US’ top diplomat as the two superpowers try to improve fractured ties while keeping a watchful eye on each other.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to land in Beijing over the weekend following the postponement of his earlier trip planned for February after a Chinese surveillance balloon meandered across the continental US, hovering over sensitive military sites before being shot down by an American fighter plane.

But with Blinken poised to make a trip seen as a key step to mend fractured US-China communications, another espionage controversy has flared in recent days following media reports that China had reached a deal to build a spy perch on the island of Cuba.

Beijing has said it wasn’t “aware” of the situation, while the White House said the reports were not accurate – with Blinken earlier this week saying China upgraded its spying facilities there in 2019.

The situation is just the latest in a string of allegations of spying between the two in recent months. They underscore how intelligence gathering – an activity meant to go on without detection, out of the public eye – is becoming an increasingly prominent flashpoint in the US-China relationship.

CIA Director Bill Burns secretly traveled to China in May to meet counterparts and emphasize the importance of maintaining open lines of communication in intelligence channels, CNN reported earlier this month.

Amid US de-risking talk, as the world relies more on China’s exports, China is learning to rely more on itself

Yukon Huang

Led by calls from the United States, the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, highlighted a need to reduce the Group of Seven nations’ dependency on China for critical goods and shift their supply chains towards friendlier nations. Senior US officials laboured to point out that the intention was not to decouple but to de-risk.

This represents a shift from former US president Donald Trump’s fixation on curbing the trade deficit with tariffs after he took office in 2017. President Joe Biden’s foreign policy has been guided by the theme of protecting America’s middle-class workers. He has added more restrictions on China’s access to US hi-tech products and curbed financial relations. Beijing sees these measures as a threat to China’s technological ambitions and growth prospects.

So far, Washington’s actions have little to show for results. According to official US data, America’s merchandise trade deficit with China was larger last year than when Trump took office, and the overall trade deficit is at a record high. Moreover, US imports of manufactured goods have not moderated, with import penetration rising to 34 per cent from 31 per cent in 2017.

But there has been a dramatic decline in China’s importance to US trade. China accounted for 47 per cent of the US trade deficit in 2017, but just 32 per cent last year. US imports increased by about US$900 billion from 2017 to 2022, but China’s share declined from 22 per cent to 17 per cent.

Meanwhile, China’s exports to the world have risen to record highs in recent years. China may be exporting less directly to the US, but it is exporting more indirectly – supplying key inputs to other countries that have stepped up exports to the US, especially Vietnam and Mexico. China’s exports to Vietnam, for example, have more than doubled since 2017, nearly tripling the trade surplus to US$60 billion last year.

Let’s Stop Pretending Spying Is a Big Deal

Howard W. French

When U.S. officials complained at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore early this month that a Chinese naval vessel had dangerously cut off a U.S. destroyer in international waters as it passed through the Taiwan Strait, China’s defense minister had a ready-made answer for how such hazards could best be avoided in the future.

Why Hong Kong can’t afford to keep its currency pegged to the US dollar

Laura He

Hong Kong’s currency is facing its biggest test since the global financial crisis of 2008.

The former British colony still pegs the value of its money to that of the US dollar. It’s an arrangement that dates back almost four decades and has long been considered a guarantee of financial stability and prosperity.

But in recent months, the Chinese city’s de facto central bank has had to burn through a huge chunk of cash buying Hong Kong dollars to maintain the peg to the US currency.

Traders are exploiting uncertainty over Hong Kong’s future as an international financial center and differences in interest rates between the city and the United States. Geopolitical tension and Beijing’s tighter grip, in particular, are denting its long-term outlook as a global financial hub.

Hong Kong’s aggregate balance, a gauge of liquidity levels in the banking system, has declined rapidly over the past year, and is down more than 90% from its peak in 2021. It fell to just 44.76 billion Hong Kong dollars ($5.7 billion) by Monday, the lowest level since November 2008.

The steep fall is a sign that investors are ditching the Hong Kong dollar. The city still has ample foreign reserves that can be used to prop up the currency, according to officials. But that hasn’t quelled market worries. Some analysts are urging the city to cut loose from the US dollar completely.

“Hong Kong’s currency peg to the dollar is not sustainable. The city risks being increasingly led by US monetary policy,” independent economist Andy Xie wrote last month. “As global yuan demand grows, switching to that currency would boost Hong Kong’s financial fortunes.”

Logan Wright, partner and head of China market research at the Rhodium Group, pointed out in March that risks to the Hong Kong dollar peg come mainly from market uncertainty about Beijing’s intentions for the currency. Worries that money might be leaking out of China — despite strict capital controls — via Hong Kong could prompt Beijing to act if the flight of cash intensifies, he added.

Some hedge funds, such as billionaire Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management, have reportedly taken large positions against the Hong Kong dollar. Ackman tweeted in November that “it is only a matter of time” before the peg breaks.

Germany’s National Security Strategy and the China Challenge

Tim Hildebrandt

On May 14, the administration of Chancellor Olaf Scholz adopted Germany’s first national security strategy. Until now, the Ministry of Defense has been primarily responsible for developing German security and defense policy. The new national strategy places security policy issues on a more comprehensive and interdepartmental footing. This comprehensive approach shows that national security issues have been politically upgraded in Germany, a consequence of the political “turning of times” –­ Zeitenwende – prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

In the context of the German government’s announced but much-delayed China strategy, the national security strategy can provide a first indication of the direction in which Berlin is moving in its dealings with Beijing. While the security strategy contains explicit statements on China, the first official list of Germany’s interests, the German security environment, and the planned measures to improve the security situation are also revealing indicators from which conclusions can be drawn about the federal government’s view of China.

The strategy defines Germany as an actor anchored in the Euro-Atlantic alliance, whose international role is values-based and whose actions serve to protect and strengthen democracy, the rule of law, and human rights at the international level. In this context, there is a clear reference to individual liberties. The strong reference to values is in line with the feminist foreign policy recently presented by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Furthermore, the German interest in preserving the international order created after World War II is emphasized.

Building on the definition of Germany and its values and interests as the basis for political action, the strategy constructs a security policy environment for Germany. It begins by acknowledging the fact of an already existing multipolar world order, while avoiding naming the poles. The strategy then accuses China of wanting to change the current world order in its own favor, which clearly contradicts Germany’s stated interests.

Is Russia’s Hypersonic Missile Vulnerable?


The first reported use of a hypersonic weapon in combat was on 18 March 2022, when a Russian Kinzhal missile destroyed an alleged underground weapons depot of the Ukrainian armed forces in Deliatyn. Another such attack came the next day, then more in April and May, and still more eight months later. The largest salvo was fired on 9 March 2023 as part of a barrage that included other missiles and drones.

There is some dispute as to whether the Kinzhal qualifies as a true hypersonic weapon, namely, one that can fly faster than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) while maintaining the ability to maneuver—a combination of features that supposedly makes the missile immune to existing countermeasures. But just this month the world discovered that the Kinzhal was not immune. It seems, in fact, far from it.

On 6 May Ukrainians shot down a Kinzhal outside Kiev using a Patriot air-defense system, supplied by the United States just weeks before. It was reported that the Kinzhal was specifically targeting that system when it was shot down. Three days later, the Russian military reportedly launched a series of six Kinzhal missiles at Ukrainian sites; the Ukrainians shot down five of the six. The sixth Kinzhal damaged, but did not destroy, a Patriot battery.

The matter is being closely scrutinized not only in Ukraine but throughout the world, because hypersonic missiles now figure prominently in the military calulations of great powers. Over the past five years, China and Russia have introduced them into their arsenals, prompting the United States and other nations to develop their own hypersonic weapons and enhanced air-defense systems to counter this threat. Each move and countermove shaves away the time available for leaders to decide how to respond to a possible nuclear strike. This destabilizes nuclear deterrence, without doubt the cornerstone of military competition.

The Other Counteroffensive to Save Ukraine

Lawrence H. Summers, Philip Zelikow, and Robert B. Zoellick

Local residents and rescuers work amidst the rubble at the site of a heavily damaged residential building hit by a Russian missile, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the town of Uman, Cherkasy region, Ukraine 

As Ukrainians risk their lives battling for national survival, the United States, European countries, and their allies should prepare a counteroffensive of their own against Russian aggression: a massive new European recovery program to begin operation by next year. This counteroffensive would be nonviolent, centered on economic and political reconstruction. But it would help secure a lasting Ukrainian victory. An ambitious recovery program that recalls the Marshall Plan would sustain Ukraine, make Europe more secure, brighten the future of surrounding regions, and revitalize the European project itself. That would be a real triumph over Russia’s effort to plunge Europe

Opinion: I asked intelligence experts to decode Trump’s top secret documents. Here’s what they said

Peter Bergen

'He is not a victim here': Bill Barr rebuts Trump's claims about DOJ indictment

Editor’s Note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America, a professor of practice at Arizona State University, and the host of the Audible podcast “In the Room with Peter Bergen” also on Apple and Spotify. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.

At the heart of the case of “United States of America v. Donald J. Trump and Waltine Nauta” are 31 classified documents that former President Donald Trump kept at his Mar-a-Lago club, each briefly described in the indictment against him.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and given a variety of defenses for his handling of the documents.

Those 31 documents are alluded to in the indictment using an intelligence shorthand, such as one labeled: “TOP SECRET//[redacted]/[redacted]// ORCON/NOFORN” that is followed by a brief description: “Document dated June 2020 concerning nuclear capabilities of a foreign country.”

To decipher the intelligence markings of the classified documents and how sensitive the intelligence they contain might be, I turned to two of the United States’ leading experts on intelligence.

Douglas London is a retired, 34-year veteran of the CIA’s Clandestine Service with multiple postings in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, who spent much of his career recruiting agents in foreign countries and who has written a very interesting book about his experiences, “The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence,” along with frequent contributions to CNN Opinion.

I also spoke to Mark Stout, a historian who has written or co-edited several books about intelligence and who also served for more than a decade as an intelligence analyst at the State Department and the CIA.

Ukraine's Counteroffensive Is Underway. How It's Going Isn't Clear


This week, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Ukraine’s long awaited counteroffensive has begun. Ukrainians are trying to regain territory by attacking the Russian front lines and looking for weak points.

So far, Ukrainian forces have reported retaking several villages in the Donbas region. That includes Blahodatne, Makarivka, Neskuchne, and Storozhov in Donetsk province, as well as Lobkove, Levadne, and Novodrivka in Luhansk province. Fighting is also taking place in the southeast portion of the front in Zaporizhzhia, in the province of the same name.

“The Ukrainian forces are just probing Russian defenses right now. They are making gains but not decisive ones,” says Nicolò Fasola, a research fellow at the University of Bologna whose research focuses on Russia’s military strategies. “The breakthroughs that the Ukrainian forces have achieved are localized.”

To succeed, Ukraine will have to penetrate heavily fortified Russian defense lines and quickly redistribute their forces.

“Once they identify a possible breakthrough point, one of the key factors for success will be the ability to redeploy and concentrate their forces which are now spread across the entire line of attack,” Fasola says. “It’s going to come down to efficiency and numbers.”

In most battles, the defending army has a strategic advantage so going on the offensive is going to be costly for the Ukrainians. Since Ukraine’s last counteroffensive operation last fall, which saw the successful recapture of 7,500 square miles in Kharkiv region, Russia has had time to prepare and also introduced another round of conscription, though Moscow has said it will not be sending any new conscripts to Ukraine.

Adam Tooze: Can Ukraine’s Counteroffensive End the War?

Cameron Abadi

In the first week of its counteroffensive, the Ukrainian military managed to seize control of seven villages—comprising about 35 square miles. But Kyiv supporters are anticipating much more from Ukraine’s military operation, which is expected to last several months. Many are hoping that it could lay the groundwork for an end to the war—whether through negotiation, an outright victory for Ukraine, or some deepening relationship between Ukraine and the West.

Why Putin Will Never Agree to De-escalate

Maxim Samorukov

As Ukraine accelerates its counteroffensive across several sections of the front, a rational person might conclude that 2023 must surely be the last year of Russia’s war against its neighbor. Russian military resources are depleted, Moscow’s long and bloody winter offensive in the Donbas has yielded meager results, and Russian society longs for the return of prewar stability. Logic dictates that the Kremlin has no better option than to seize any opportunity to cut short its disastrous war, saving face as far as possible by clinging to the shreds of its territorial gains. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed this line of thinking at a press conference this week, when he said that a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive could have the effect of “causing Putin to finally focus on negotiating an end to the war that he started.”

Is There a Future in Politics for Russia’s Wagner Boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin?

Andrei Kolesnikov

In the current political system, Prigozhin can only be against the elite so long as he is for Putin. It would take the slightest sign from the president for the Wagner boss to disappear.

No one in Russia embodies the anti-elite essence of populist politics today like Yevgeny Prigozhin, formerly known as “Putin’s chef,” more recently as the boss of a vast troll network, and right now as head of the infamous Wagner mercenary army.

The maverick businessman has made the “special operation” against Ukraine—which in his rhetoric is an all-out war—the mainstay of his identity and a way of aligning himself with ordinary Russians rather than with the establishment, including the Defense Ministry. Indeed, following the Defense Ministry’s recent announcement that all “volunteer detachments” would now have to sign contracts with the ministry, Prigozhin was quick to insist his fighters would be doing no such thing, as that would only damage the private military company’s efficiency.

In his logic, it was politicians who started the “special operation,” but they have proven unable to finish what they started. Now, only the people—represented by Prigozhin himself—can secure a victory and an end to hostilities. Prigozhin represents an emerging leader who speaks to the people without intermediaries, just as befits a populist and true leader as described back in the 1930s by the German political theorist Carl Schmitt.

The only problem is that Russia already has such a leader: President Vladimir Putin. He may not tour the trenches or make videos at the graves of fallen fighters like Prigozhin does, but his claim to leadership lies in his direct, intuitive, and mesmeric contact with “the people.”

But Putin is a member of the elite, while Prigozhin is positioning himself as a counter-elite—despite being a product of the Putin regime and government contracts. Like any classic populist, he sends anti-elitist messages to the public. Yet he is like every other oligarch, and owes everything to his ties with the state and the resources outsourced by that state.

Prigozhin is scornful of people from Moscow’s elite Rublyovka neighborhood, but he comes from the same place as they do: from the very depths of the system. The sleep of reason produces monsters; authoritarian regimes produce multifaceted monsters; and he is just one of them. Outside of ties with the state and its resources, the phenomenon of Prigozhin could not exist.

Who Pays for Extreme Weather?


On June 22, join Carnegie California for its inaugural event on the state’s role as a global policy leader. Sign up for the livestream here.

All across the United States, extreme weather is costing people money. In the Northeast, air pollution from drought-fueled, record-breaking wildfires in eastern Canada briefly made New York City’s air quality the worst in the world. In California, wildfire damages totaled $102 billion in 2018 alone. In the South, the average homeowner has seen huge rises in homeowners’ insurance premiums in flood-prone Florida, while Texas regulators are spending tens of billions to protect the power grid from more weather-driven blackouts.

Noah J. Gordon is acting co-director of the Sustainability, Climate, and Geopolitics Program and a fellow in the Europe Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC.

The development of insurance for physical assets such as buildings, boats, warehouses, and commodities was among the foundational developments of modern capitalism. But the limits of insurance are being tested, leaving behind the question of who should pick up the tab. The three most populous U.S. states—California, Florida, and Texas—are taking different approaches. And the different, often increasingly divergent, directions these states take will do much to influence other jurisdictions, both within the United States and beyond.

In California, the five largest wildfires on record have all occurred since 2018, and private insurers are no longer willing to bear the risk of future destruction. State Farm, California’s largest homeowner insurance company, announced last month that it will stop selling new coverage to homeowners, not just in fire zones but everywhere in the state. Allstate took a similar step last year, explaining that “the cost to insure new home customers in California is far higher than the price they would pay for policies due to wildfires, higher costs for repairing homes and higher reinsurance premiums.” State regulators had been forcing private companies to renew policies they would have liked to cancel, but insurers seem to have had enough.

How Not to Help Ukraine

Raphael S. Cohen

Over the past 16 months, perhaps the most discussed aspect of Washington’s policy toward Ukraine has been whether or not the U.S. Congress will continue providing Kyiv with weapons. The question has dominated the news and opinion pages for good reason: There is a loud but vocal minority, particularly among Republicans, that has promised either to increase scrutiny of Ukraine aid or to cut it off entirely. After this month’s deal on the debt limit, these calls have only intensified. The threat of an end to aid has raised the stakes for Ukraine’s nascent counteroffensive, too. Given that the United States is far and away the largest and most important military donor to Ukraine, any move to curtail military supplies would have profound consequences for the war.

Cyberattack wave in Ukraine linked to Russia’s GRU, Microsoft says

Colin Demarest

WASHINGTON — A wave of cyberattacks hitting Ukrainian government agencies and information-technology vendors has been traced back to hackers associated with Russia’s military intelligence service, the GRU, an official with Microsoft said in a blog post.

The ongoing digital belligerence is attributed to a group dubbed “Cadet Blizzard,” allegedly active since 2020, Tom Burt, corporate vice president for customer security and trust, said in the post. The company also connected the group to destructive data-wiping attacks that plagued Ukraine ahead of Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Russia historically uses cyber to project power, soften targets and meddle in foreign affairs. An International Institute for Strategic Studies report in 2021 placed the country in tier two of its cyber powerhouse rankings, alongside China but behind the U.S.

In addition to targeting Ukraine, Cadet Blizzard is focusing efforts on NATO members that are funneling military aid into Eastern Europe, Microsoft said. Countries have committed billions of dollars in equipment, ordnance and combat vehicles to Ukraine to help battle back Russian forces.

“While it has not been the most successful Russian actor, Cadet Blizzard has seen some recent success,” Burt said in the post. “Microsoft’s unique visibility into their operations has motivated us to share information with the security ecosystem and customers to raise visibility and protections against their attacks.”

U.S. leaders have for more than a year urged the private and public sectors to step up their cybersecurity practices and keep an eye out for virtual irregularities.

Russia-Ukraine war sending shockwaves into cyber-ecosystem

James Hayes

SPONSORED FEATURE When military historians come to chronicle the first 15 months of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, they won't find any shortage of battlefront bulletins to inform their accounts.

From smartphone video grabs to satellite camera surveillance, almost every devastating engagement between the combatants has given actions both on and behind the frontlines high visibility across digitalised media.

Yet the Russo-Ukrainian conflict is also being fought on another, less evident frontline – that of cyber warfare. And while verifiable information about skirmishes and assaults across digital frontiers are proving largely impossible to verify, as hostilities enter their second year their effects are starting to resound ominously across global digital ecosystems.

The war has been described as the first to deploy significant – if largely immeasurable – levels of cyber operations by the belligerent parties. Despite the disparity in state size and military might, it's a contest in which both sides appear almost equally matched in terms of human and cyber resources; neither side, it seems, has established cyber dominance – yet.

As the hostilities commenced, Moscow seemed to take the first-strike advantage by launching what might have been 'the world's largest-ever salvo of destructive cyber attacks' against multiple Ukrainian networks, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"Russia notably disrupted the Viasat satellite communications network just before its armed forces crossed the border, which is thought to have slowed Ukraine's defence of Kyiv," says Jon Bateman, Senior Fellow at the CEIP, "but no subsequent Russian cyber attack has had visible effects of comparable military significance, and the pace of attacks plummeted after just a few weeks of war."

Ukraine, for its part, has benefited from a very resilient digital ecosystem, years of prior cybersecurity investments, and a surge of cyber support from some of the world's most capable tech vendors and states.

Recruiting people power

Translation: Measures for the Management of Generative Artificial Intelligence Services (Draft for Comment) – April 2023

Seaton Huang, Helen Toner, Zac Haluza, Rogier Creemers' Graham Webster

This translation is by (in randomized order), Seaton Huang, Helen Toner, Zac Haluza, and Rogier Creemers, and was edited by Graham Webster. During editing, an alternative translation from China Law Translate was consulted.

Article 1: In order to stimulate the healthy development and standardized application of generative artificial intelligence (AI), on the basis of the Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China, the Data Security Law of the People’s Republic of China, the Personal Information Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China, and other such laws and administrative regulations, these Measures are formulated.

Article 2: These Measures apply to the research, development, and use of products with generative AI functions, and to the provision of services to the public within the [mainland] territory of the People’s Republic of China.

Generative AI, as mentioned in these Measures, refers to technologies generating text, image, audio, video, code, or other such content based on algorithms, models, or rules.

Article 3: The State supports indigenous innovation, broad application, and international cooperation in foundational technologies such as AI algorithms and frameworks, and encourages the prioritized use of secure and reliable software, tools, computing, and data resources.

Article 4: The provision of generative AI products or services shall abide by the requirements of laws and regulations, respect social virtue and good public customs, and conform to the following requirements:Content generated through the use of generative AI shall reflect the Socialist Core Values, and may not contain: subversion of state power; overturning of the socialist system; incitement of separatism; harm to national unity; propagation of terrorism or extremism; propagation of ethnic hatred or ethnic discrimination; violent, obscene, or sexual information; false information; as well as content that may upset economic order or social order.

Cyberattacks on renewables: Europe power sector's dread in chaos of war

Nora Buli, Nina Chestney and Christoph Steitz

OSLO/LONDON/FRANKFURT, June 15 (Reuters) - Saboteurs target a nation leading the world in clean energy. They hack into vulnerable wind and solar power systems. They knock out digitalized energy grids. They wreak havoc.

It's the stuff of nightmares for European power chiefs.

Henriette Borgund knows attackers can find weaknesses in the defences of a big renewables power company - she's found them herself. She joined Norway's Hydro (NHY.OL) as an "ethical hacker" last April, bringing years of experience in military cyberdefence to bear at a time of war in Europe and chaos in energy markets.

"I am not sure I want to comment on how often we find holes in our system. But what I can say is that we have found holes in our system," she told Reuters at Hydro's Oslo HQ, declining to detail the nature of the vulnerabilities for security reasons.

Hydro is among several large power producers shoring up their cyberdefences due in significant part to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which they say has ramped up the threat of hacker attacks on their operations, according to Reuters interviews with a dozen executives from seven of Europe's biggest players.

"We established last year, after the start of the Ukraine war, that the risk of cyber sabotage has increased," said Michael Ebner, information security chief at German utility EnBW (EBKG.DE), which is expanding its 200-strong cyber security team to protect operations ranging from wind and solar to grids.

The executives all said the sophistication of Russian cyberattacks against Ukraine had provided a wake-up call to how vulnerable digitalized and interconnected power systems could be to attackers. They're nervously monitoring a hybrid war where physical energy infrastructure has already been targeted, from the Nord Stream gas pipelines to the Kakhovka dam.

Maximizing the defender’s advantage: Five steps cyber leaders can take today

Dan VanBelleghem

Security teams have an inherent advantage over attackers. They know their environments better than anyone. They can monitor those environments, control user activity on their networks and plan and perform preparation training, all in an effort to prevent attacks and drive resilience. This gives cybersecurity leaders the “defender’s advantage” — albeit a temporary and fleeting one — over their attackers during a breach.

This means that even as the complexity of attacks and sophistication of the attackers evolve, careful and deliberate attention paid to preserving this advantage can serve an organization well. Federal agencies can take five important steps to maintain their defender’s advantage.
Incentivize collaboration

Federal agencies are big and comprised of multiple departments and functions. Often, in these environments, security is inadvertently compartmentalized from group to group and can destroy the defender’s advantage. Leaders should encourage their teams to view cybersecurity as an enterprise function and should incentivize collaboration across groups to facilitate the sharing of best practices, create a culture of cooperation and to strengthen the agency’s overall security posture. For example, leaders can implement a cross-functional cybersecurity task force with representatives from across IT, HR, legal and operations teams. This task force can meet regularly to share insights, discuss emerging threats and collaborate on incident response plans.

Know your environment and baseline assets