24 June 2023

India-US Space Cooperation Takes Off

Anuttama Banerji

On June 22, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Washington, D.C. for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden, the White House announced a major step forward in bilateral space cooperation. According to a senior Biden administration official, India will be signing the Artemis Accords and the two countries’ space agencies will pursue a joint mission to the International Space Station in 2024.

That breakthrough was part of a longer trend of forging closer India-U.S. cooperation in space. The U.S. Department of State Export Control and Border Security Group (EXBS) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) hosted the U.S.-India Space Technology Industry Workshop on Export Controls in April 2023. The aim of this workshop, as per the communique, was “to expand India’s commercial and defense cooperative engagement in the space sector.”

This meeting came close on the heels of the signing of the agreement on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) and the Space Situational Awareness Arrangement settled in April 2022 under the rubric of the India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue – platforms that have provided opportunities for public-private collaboration in the space sector between India and the United States. A meeting of the U.S. India Civil Space Joint Working Group had preceded the signing of these agreements, as India and the United States attempted to formulate the possible best practices within the space sector – giving a further boost to the space sector within the spectrum of the wider India-U.S. relationship.

These initiatives have brought to the fore India’s burgeoning partnership with the United States in the space sector, at a time when the maritime partnership within the Indo-Pacific has been the focus of the bilateral partnership. Space, within the contours of the India-U.S. iCET framework, has emerged as a key pivot of the evolving relationship.

Modi’s visit and India’s strategic decision point


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to meet with President Joe Biden and members of Congress during his first official state visit to the U.S. this week. The visit is a vital one, with the potential to significantly elevate the strategic partnership between India and America. For that to happen, however, requires some sober thinking in New Delhi about shortcomings in India’s foreign policy that are holding it back from becoming one of the world’s next responsible superpowers, and what role the U.S. can and should play in India’s rise.

Since 1961, India has simultaneously maintained trade ties and defense partnerships with both the U.S. and Russia, a state of affairs that has prevented either relationship from achieving its full potential. That balancing act prevailed for much of the “post–Cold War” era, but recent years have seen the global landscape shift for India in two major ways.

The first is China’s growing presence in the Indo-Pacific, which poses a serious threat to India’s security and its regional sphere of influence. While ties between Delhi and Beijing have always been tense, recent years have seen the Sino-Indian relationship shift to intense competition over everything from economic markets to international politics to border disputes. Through its sprawling Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), China has built a vast range of military ports and bases strategically positioned to encircle the Indian Ocean region, and is working to secure supply lines, energy resources and military power across the Indo-Pacific. At the same time, Chinese economic projects, like the $62 billion China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, compete directly with India while creating a number of security and sovereignty concerns.

The second is Russia. Currently, India is caught in a Catch-22, as its longstanding relations with Russia run counter to the country’s ambitions to grow economically, militarily and politically. While Delhi has made efforts to diversify its supply of military weaponry and decrease its dependence on Moscow in recent years, little concrete progress has been made on that score —an estimated 60-70 percent of India’s arsenal is made up of Russian equipment. India’s dependence on Russian energy, meanwhile, is deepening. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, India has taken advantage of heavily discounted Russian energy, purchasing more than ten times as much oil and four times as much coal from Moscow in 2022 than it did the previous year. Russian oil now accounts for one-third of India’s total oil imports. But while this collaboration is advantageous in the short term, it is bound to come at a high reputational and strategic cost in the long run. As a result of its war in Ukraine, Russia’s international isolation is deepening and will inevitably drag its strategic partners (like India) down with it.

World Cannot Ignore Security Threats Emerging from Afghanistan

Luke Coffey

The latest report by the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team regarding the peace and security of Afghanistan was published this month. Unsurprisingly, this report, the 14th since 2011, makes for grim reading. Running 27 pages long, it lays out in detail the growing transnational terrorist threats that have evolved in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over almost two years ago.

When reading the UN’s report, it is worth remembering what the flawed 2021 agreement made between the Trump administration and the Taliban said about terrorism. In the agreement, the Taliban pledged that it would “prevent any group or individual, including Al-Qaeda, from using the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.” The reality on the ground in Afghanistan today could not be more different.

There are an estimated 21 different terrorist groups operating freely in Afghanistan. Some have global ambitions, while some are more regionally focused. The vast majority of these terrorist groups enjoy the hospitality and protection of the Taliban. The two most dangerous groups in Afghanistan that have grown in size since the Taliban’s takeover are Al-Qaeda and Daesh.

Even though Al-Qaeda was specifically mentioned by name in the Taliban’s agreement with the Trump administration, no meaningful action has been taken by the Taliban to stop the group from operating in Afghanistan. In fact, the exact opposite is happening. Senior members of Al-Qaeda, who had not set foot in Afghanistan for almost two decades, are now roaming the land freely.

Al-Qaeda’s reestablished presence in Afghanistan was best highlighted when its leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, was killed in a US drone strike in Kabul last summer. According to the latest UN report, Al-Qaeda “maintains a low profile, focusing on using the country as an ideological and logistical hub to mobilize and recruit new fighters while covertly rebuilding its external operations capability.” It also states that “the relationship between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda remained close and symbiotic, with Al-Qaeda viewing Taliban-administered Afghanistan a safe haven.”

The Islamist Threat Bordering Pakistan’s Political Crisis

Samaya Anjum

Supporters of Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s religious party block a highway, while protesting against the government, near Karachi, Pakistan, Nov. 15, 2019.Credit: AP Photo/Fareed Khan

On May 9, a months-long political crisis in Pakistan culminated in a direct challenge to the stability of the state following the arrest of the former Prime Minister Imran Khan. In the immediate aftermath, as supporters of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) took to the streets of several major cities across the country, the military and state apparatus struggled to gain control of the situation. Security forces deployed across the Pakistani heartland resorted to a violent crackdown against protesters, and the resulting breakdown in law and order created the sort of volatile environment in which terrorist networks and economies are generally known to thrive. This gave rise to security concerns regarding Islamist terror outfits active within Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

In Pakistan, nearly two dozen Islamist factions are currently operational, all of whom share a common ideological orientation and pursue the long-term goal of introducing a hardline Islamic system of governance. However, they are not allied with each other in a common front against other political actors and follow sharply divergent strategies to achieve their ultimate objectives. A number of them have been banned by the state, while others participate in mainstream electoral politics or attempt to do so. In addition, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP or the “Pakistani Taliban”) is engaged in a violent conflict with the state that represents an increased threat following the Afghan Taliban’s takeover of the central government in Kabul in August 2021. In light of this complex situation, it is important to understand the “Islamist security threat” to Pakistan in a differentiated and nuanced way.

Interactions Between Radical Groups and the State Apparatus

When it comes to a war with Taiwan, many Chinese urge caution

It takes little to spark fury among nationalist netizens in China, especially when the topic is Taiwan. Any action that could be viewed as a challenge to China’s claim to the island arouses a chorus of calls for war. Their voices alarm Western officials, who fret that Chinese policymakers may make concessions to their public’s swelling nationalism and the bellicosity it has spawned. Last year China’s leader, Xi Jinping, hinted that the West may be right to worry. He warned President Joe Biden that, concerning Taiwan, the views of Chinese citizens “cannot be defied”.

During a recent trip to Beijing, Antony Blinken, the first American secretary of state to visit China in five years, met Mr Xi, who made conciliatory comments about “stabilising China-us relations”. But for the rest of Mr Blinken’s visit the message was clear. “There is no room for compromise or concessions on Taiwan,” China’s most senior foreign-affairs official, Wang Yi, warned him. Qin Gang, the foreign minister, declared that Taiwan was “the most prominent risk” in bilateral relations.

China Considers Countermeasures to US HIMARS Missile System

Lyle Goldstein and Nathan Waechter

U.S. Army Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 14 Field Artillery, 214th Fires Brigade form a line to transport their M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) vehicles after successfully firing 12 rockets, March 6, 2015.Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nathan Clark

In shaping patterns of future warfare, there is little doubt that militaries across the world will be seeking to absorb the key lessons of the Russia-Ukraine War, ranging from the employment of tanks to the use of anti-ship cruise missiles and the ubiquitous drones. For the Chinese military, these lessons might even assume a greater importance, since the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) lacks recent major combat experience, and has also leaned heavily on Russian weapons and doctrine for its rapid modernization over the last few decades.

Chinese media coverage of the war in Ukraine has been extensive. The close nature of the China-Russia “quasi-alliance” means that Chinese military analysts have not engaged in the ruthless critiques of Russian military performance that have been commonplace in the West. Yet, Chinese military analyses are still probing deeply for lessons to understand the shape of modern warfare. They have taken particular interest in the U.S. employment of novel weapons and strategies.

To fully grasp the scope and depth of these Chinese analyses it is important to take assessments from a full range of Chinese military media, which is more extensive than is often appreciated in the West. These articles are generally associated with research institutes that are directly involved in the Chinese military-industrial complex.

This exclusive series for The Diplomat will represent the first systematic attempt by Western analysts to evaluate these Chinese assessments of the war in Ukraine across the full spectrum of warfare, including the land, sea, air and space, and information domains. Read the rest of the series here.

China’s Strategic Response To India’s Regulatory Measures On Chinese Companies – Analysis

He Jun

India, with its large population, is an appealing market for many foreign companies. From a global perspective, India possesses several advantages. Firstly, its population of 1.4 billion provides a considerable demographic dividend, offering a substantial labor force and a potential consumer market. In recent years, numerous foreign investments and companies, including those from China, have intended to harness its vast market potential.

However, for many of them, India can also be a challenging environment, as foreign businesses often encounter allegations such as tax evasion and illegal fund transfers when conducting business in the country. Chinese companies, in particular, have been singled out and scrutinized by relevant government departments in India.

The Indian government has imposed restrictions on foreign companies, under the pretext of tax issues. Chinese companies like VIVO, OPPO, Xiaomi, and South Korea’s Samsung have all grappled with difficulties related to these issues in India. Xiaomi, in particular, has confronted such hurdles. In 2021, there were requests for access to data and details of Xiaomi smartphones and components. In 2022, import taxes totaling INR 6.53 billion were imposed on the phonemaker. On June 11 of this year, the agency responsible for investigating financial crimes in India accused Xiaomi’s Indian subsidiary of violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), leading to the freezing of INR 55.51, a move tantamount to the seizure of Xiaomi’s assets.

According to an article in the Economic Times on June 13, informed sources stated that Indian government departments recently summoned Chinese companies such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Realme, and Vivo to attend a meeting, requesting these Chinese smartphone manufacturers to induct Indian equity partners in their Indian operations. The report further mentioned that these companies were also required to appoint Indian executives to key positions, such as CEO, COO, CFO, and CTO. Additionally, Indian authorities instructed the Chinese companies to designate Indian manufacturing partners to enhance local manufacturing capabilities up to the component level through joint ventures with Indian enterprises, expand exports from India, and employ local distributors. Previously, Indian media reported that Chinese companies seeking to establish component factories in India would require Indian capital to hold a 51% stake in the joint venture. An Indian official stated that is for the Indian partners to have control over the management and board of directors.

China Is A Dying Paper Dragon


The global order is ending and is being replaced by an accelerating disorder obvious to any observer of international affairs. The old order of warring empires was destroyed by World War II, so the United States and its allies met in 1944 at Bretton Woods to decide what would replace it. There, the victorious Americans laid the foundations of today’s order, a system that would contain the Soviet Union’s empire in a Cold War, initiate globalization, and bring us 75 years of prosperity and growth unmatched in human history. That globalization is now giving way to a disorder that will change the world and end the Communist Peoples Republic of China.

The Bretton Woods deal that America made with its allies was simple. First, the American market would be open to all its allies. Second, the United States and its navy, the most powerful fleet the world had ever known, would guarantee the safety of all ocean supply chains. And third, in exchange for that largesse the allies would side with us against the Soviet Union. China joined that system in 1980 and together with cheap labor, industrial espionage, and intellectual property theft rapidly became the workshop of the world. Not only was China the most populous country in the world, it promised to overtake the United States economy, become the world’s leader in technology, and dominate the emergent global world order. Those dreams are now being terminated by the impacts of demographics, geography, and “Xi Jinping thought.”

Xi Jinping became General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2012 and President the following year. Along the way to becoming China’s dictator for life, Xi systematically eliminated everyone who could possibly challenge him, whether party members, government officials, or billionaire leaders of industry. Prominent individuals and even CCP members were jailed or just disappeared.

China urged to boost home prices or face recession


Economists and property experts have called upon the Chinese government to stimulate home prices and resolve local debt problems that were highlighted when housing markets slumped last month.

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, on Tuesday lowered the one-year loan prime rate (LPR) from 3.65% to 3.55%, and also cut the five-year rate from 4.3% to 4.2%. It is the first time the bank has slashed LPRs in 10 months, following last week’s reduction of the medium-term lending rate from 2.75% to 2.65%.

The move also follows an announcement by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on June 16 that more Chinese cities had recorded property price drops in May than in April.

Some analysts said property developers had tried to raise prices in April but then faced huge resistance from homebuyers, so they cut prices again in May. They said such a trend resulted in downward pressure on the secondary markets in most Chinese cities last month.

Some property experts and economists say the worsening local government debt problems have hurt homebuyers’ confidence in recent months. Media reports say Yunan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces have warned that they may default this year.

Zhao Yanjing, vice president of the China Association of City Planning and a professor at Xiamen University, says in an article that the central government should help local governments resolve their debt problems, prevent them from selling lands at discounts, extend bank loans for families, companies and local governments, and also limit capital outflow.

“China’s current economic slowdown is not related to external trade, which has remained stable over the past three years despite the negative impact of the trade war, the Russian-Ukrainian war and the epidemic,” he says. “The real cause of the crisis is that we have a big debt problem on our balance sheets.”

He adds: “Since July 2021, property markets have been suppressed by policies, leaving a lot of homes and land in the markets. In this situation, families, companies and local governments dumped their assets, resulting in further contraction in asset prices and a vicious cycle of debt problems.”

Ukraine’s Chances Of Victory In 2023 Are Vanishingly Small

Daniel Davis

Judging by recent headlines in Western media and quotes from retired U.S. generals, the American public would be forgiven for believing Ukraine’s long-anticipated counteroffensive is going well. The cold military reality, however, is the opposite.

It is now a virtual certainty that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s troops will fail to drive Russian forces from Ukraine. And if Zelensky does not manage the volatile situation very deftly over the remainder of the year, he might lose the war.
The Cornerstone of Counteroffensive Success

Here are a few sample headlines from the past few days: “Ukraine Liberates Eight Settlements As Counteroffensive Pushes On,” “Ukraine Forces carry out successful counteroffensive operations,” and “Ukraine prepares biggest blow.” Famous retired U.S. generals seem to back these positive impressions.

On June 6, the second day of the Ukrainian offensive, former CIA Director and retired four-star general David Petraeus told Germany’s Deutsche Welle, “I think the (Ukrainian) offensive will be much more successful than many of the more pessimistic analysts have been offering.” The reason for his optimism? First, because the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) will be equipped with large amounts of NATO gear and training, and second, Petraeus thinks the Russians “are not well trained, they’re not well equipped, and they’re not well led.”

A week later, retired four-star general Ben Hodges went so far as to say he still believes “that Ukraine can liberate Crimea, the decisive terrain of this war, by the end of this summer, that is to say, by the end of August.” Even last Thursday, Hodges optimistically wrote in the Washington Post that “Ukraine has just taken a decisive step down the path of driving Russian forces from its territory.” Mounting physical evidence on the battlefield, however, makes painfully clear that despite the buoyant optimism, the offensive has gotten off to a disastrous start. Conditions going forward bode ill for Zelensky’s forces.

What challenge does Chinese military spending really pose?

Matthew Teasdale

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent trip to China highlighted the need to manage the increasingly militarized competition between Washington and Beijing. Blinken appered to succeed in stabilizing relations but failed to resume military-to-military communication channels amidst worry over China’s naval and nuclear expansion.

Although it is sometimes argued that China’s official $292 billion expenditure is insignificant beside America’s $877 billion military budget, due to vastly different budgeting and accounting processes, direct comparisons between American and Chinese defense spending are misleading at best. China’s true military budget is hard to determine considering budget discrepancies and differences in purchasing power between China and the United States. Additionally, Beijing’s numbers omit, obfuscate, and hide spending programs and are likely much higher than those publicly announced.

While many suggest this unconstrained spending growth should sound the alarm about an imminent invasion of Taiwan, that fear is misplaced; rather, it signals an emerging arms race in Northeast Asia that could become a self-sustaining cycle of escalation without renewed regional stability talks to mitigate regional threats. The People’s Republic of China’s growing arsenal of strategic nuclear weapons should similarly be integrated into wider discussions. With renewed great power competition, the watchword in military circles, there is as much danger in overestimating as underestimating Beijing’s swelling military muscle.

The PRC’s military expenditure is shrouded in mystery. The Ministry of Finance’s military budget contradicts that of the Ministry of Defense, amounting to discrepancies of several billions of dollars. Additionally, the People’s Liberation Army does not release pricing information on its goods and services, making it difficult to measure the purchasing power parity of its budget and products relative to other countries. Moreover, any information on advertised prices in the PRC should be taken with a grain of salt because Beijing’s state-run economy means that products may be artificially valued by state intervention.

China’s Real Military Budget Is Far Bigger Than It Looks

Mackenzie Eaglen

With the passage of Congress’ debt ceiling agreement, defense spending seems to be locked in at President Biden’s proposed $886 billion for fiscal year 2024.

While the highest nominal defense budget in history, when taken as a portion of gross domestic product (GDP), this budget will be among the slimmest for the Pentagon since before World War II. When accounting for inflation and other must-pay bills, this military’s budget is declining by three percent.

Despite this concerning statistic, the American public is too often put at ease in believing that the US military remains far ahead of any of its competitors since US spending on defense dwarfs the next ten countries combined.

However, cracks and strains are evident across the armed forces as inflation is cutting into the Pentagon’s buying power and further reducing the little share left to decision makers to fund new equipment, technology, concepts, and posture.

When contrasted with potential adversaries, such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which has near-term military ambitions heavily weighted in their own neighborhood, the strain on the Pentagon’s budget becomes more apparent. For the US to properly compete on the other side of the globe requires significant power projection capabilities that are costly. As a global power, the United States must also simultaneously balance other priorities, such as deterring Iran, countering Russian aggression, and shoring up allied commitments. As a three-theater force, buying power is further diluted as choices must be made where to allocate different forces, and the total US defense budget is spread more thinly through multiple theaters.

In Deterring China, Dialogue Is No Substitute for Budgets, Hard Power

Brent Sadler


This is not to say China is itching for a fight, but it is trying to test its potential wartime foe in a controlled way.

President Biden continues to focus on advancing his progressive domestic agenda, while trying to deter China on the cheap with words and not a defense budget.

Shrinking defense budgets while doggedly pursuing dialogue at any cost signals weakness. Beijing can only interpret that as a green light to push harder.

At last week’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin proudly announced that the “fiscal year 2024 budget request includes the largest procurement request in the history of the Department of Defense.”

There are two problems with this statement: It’s not true when you adjust the numbers for inflation, and it doesn’t match what is needed to counter today’s threats.

Mr. Austin’s Singapore trip was bookended by a dangerous Chinese air intercept and a purposeful near-collision with a U.S. warship.

Clearly, China’s leadership is taking such risky, provocative actions to test U.S. resolve. Yet thus far, leaders such as Mr. Austin and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese seem resolved only to continue chasing after “no conditions” talks with Beijing to cool tensions.

But while Washington calls for dialogue, China lets the phone ring, unanswered, and acts. This is not to say China is itching for a fight, but it is trying to test its potential wartime foe in a controlled way.

The Naval War College’s Ryan Martinson argued that today’s provocations and future ones should be viewed as part of a Chinese approach called “training from contact with the enemy.” How the U.S. responds to such tests could either delay or accelerate a future military showdown with China.

Blinken’s Chamberlain-Like China Trip: We Can’t Ignore Beijing’s Threat Any Longer

We are, for all intents and purposes, already at war with China, although the Biden administration apparently did not get the memo. The war may not be a kinetic one — not yet, at least — but all the other attributes of conflict are in place: cyberattacks, intellectual property theft, the probing of our homeland by a variety of means, the spread of disinformation, the interruption of freedom-of-navigation operations and other belligerent acts, such as operating a spying station in Cuba just 90 miles off the U.S. coast.

This means that China, in effect, has engaged the U.S. in everything but a kinetic war. The current set of offensive actions should be viewed as just as dangerous as a physical conflict, with such engagement shedding light on the moral center of the problem: What the U.S. wants long term and what China wants have no equivalence.

Americans want what they already have: a peaceful, rules-based world where every sovereign country can make their own laws and live the way they want to live. China wants global hegemony and a state-run planet. The country’s recent actions have shown that there is no circumstance in which the United States and nearly all of its allies can ever square that circle.

These two types of global communities cannot coexist. It’s one or the other. And those of us living in democracies know that China can easily have our version and thrive, but we can never have theirs.

With this as our North Star, what must America’s next steps be?

We must treat China as if we already are in conflict with it — but that rapprochement is always possible and is the ultimate goal. We must act like the global power that we are. We should not set foot in the country unless we are treated like royalty. Begging for meetings with their leaders is not a good look for the U.S. because it implies a shift in power that we can never allow to happen.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he went to China to “strengthen high-level challenges of communication, to make clear our positions and intentions in areas of disagreement, and to explore areas where we might work together when our interests align on shared transnational challenges.” He claims those goals were met. I disagree. What happened instead is that we gave the world the impression that we’ve ceded the upper hand to Beijing, with Blinken playing the role of a modern Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich with a meaningless agreement in 1938.

Air Force's Elite Close-Air Support Jobs May Be Cut by 44%

Thomas Novelly

As Congress moves toward retiring more A-10 Warthogs from service, the Air Force also aims to cut over the next three years the number of elite airmen responsible for calling in close-air support on the battlefield.

Rose Riley, a Department of the Air Force spokeswoman, confirmed to Military.com that the service plans to shrink the Tactical Air Control Party, or TACP, job field to about 2,130 positions -- a decrease of 44%, according to the service. The Air Force said the manning is now "roughly" 3,700 airmen.

"Currently, there are no plans to retrain TACPs to other career fields in light of the manning reduction, but the Air Force is opening opportunities for those who would prefer to pursue other careers," Riley said.

Tactical Air Control Party airmen are part of a special warfare job in the Air Force and embed with other services to help scout and guide air support in the heat of battle. It's one of the service's toughest jobs and involves rigorous physical training and hazardous assignments.

But these cuts come as the Air Force seeks to reassess its close-air support capabilities amid escalating tensions with China, even looking to scrap more A-10 Warthogs -- one of the main airframes that TACPs have worked with -- in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.

In the next three fiscal years, the Air Force is asking to decrease TACPs by "44% to approximately 2,130 positions with a reduction of roughly 370 positions in FY23, 610 positions in FY24, and 600 positions in FY25," Riley said in an emailed statement.

The Tactical Air Control Party field has remained, historically, around 80% manned, Riley said. The service would try to make cuts from that unmanned 20% first.

The decrease from 3,700 down to 2,130 airmen is just over a 42% cut, and it was not immediately apparent how the Air Force was calculating the slightly higher reduction.

Ukraine Situation Report: Counteroffensive Slowed By 77,000 Square Miles Of Mines


Regardless of what happens with his counteroffensive, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the war is "not a Hollywood movie" and that Ukraine won’t negotiate with Russia until its forces have left his nation’s sovereign territory.

"No matter how far we advance in our counter-offensive, we will not agree to a frozen conflict because that is war, that is a prospectless development for Ukraine," Zelensky told the BBC Wednesday. "Some people believe this is a Hollywood movie and expect results now. It's not."

Zelensky added that while Ukraine has liberated eight villages so far, the counteroffensive was not going easily because 200,000 sq km (77,220 sq miles) of Ukrainian territory had been mined by Russian forces.

"Whatever some might want, including attempts to pressure us, with all due respect, we will advance on the battlefield the way we deem best," Zelensky told BBC.

Ukrainian forces have made most of its progress in the southern section of the roughly 200 mile front that runs from northern Donetsk Oblast to central Zarporizhzhia Oblast, Kyiv’s deputy defense minister said Wednesday.

“The defense forces of Ukraine continue to conduct offensive actions in the Melitopol and Berdyansk directions,” Hanna Maliar said on her Telegram channel. “During the past day, they had partial success, they consolidated at the achieved boundaries and leveled the front line.”

In the east, “our defenders continue to restrain the large-scale offensive of Russian troops in the Lyman and Bakhmut directions,” she said. "Particularly heavy fighting continues in the Lyman direction in the Yampolivka and Serebryansk forestry districts of the Donetsk region. In the direction of Bilogorivka-Shypylivka, our troops conducted offensive actions and had partial success. Now they are fixed at the achieved boundaries.”

House committee passes resolution calling on US to send long-range missiles to Ukraine


The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution Wednesday calling for the Biden administration to supply Ukraine with long-range missiles, upping the pressure on the White House and Pentagon to provide a key piece of advanced weaponry U.S. officials have long resisted sending.

The resolution calls for the U.S. to immediately provide the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) to Ukraine, which would allow Ukrainian forces to strike at targets up to 200 miles away.

It also calls for the transfer of similar weapons systems from the U.S. and its allies to Ukraine, saying the failure to provide long-range missiles will prolong the war against Russia.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the committee, said, “ATACMS are critical to Ukraine’s success in the counteroffensive.”

“There’s no reason to give Ukraine just enough to bleed but not enough to win,” he said. “It’s been my criticism all along — if we’re going to be helping them, either go all in or get out.”

The ranking member on the committee, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), also backed the resolution, saying he supported an effort to “prudently send long-range missile capabilities to Ukraine’s capable warfighters.”

There was some opposition from more conservative lawmakers.

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) said he would not support sending more weapons to Ukraine without a defined mission behind support for Ukraine, concerned there may be a larger goal in Washington to grind down Russia and create regime change in Moscow.

“When you don’t define the mission, no one can be held accountable,” said Davidson. “We owe it to the [American] men and women, if we commit to a war — even a proxy war — that we define the mission before we commit to the mission.”

A Tale of Two Invasions


NEW YORK – The leader of an authoritarian country with enormous energy reserves builds up his armed forces along the border of a weaker neighbor, one he claims has no right to exist as an independent country. He then proceeds to launch an invasion, with the goal of swallowing his neighbor and erasing it from the map. The world is faced with the immediate but difficult question of what to do in response.

This is what happened in the summer of 1990, when Saddam Hussein marshaled his military forces on Iraq’s border with Kuwait and, to the surprise of many, launched an all-out invasion. Within days, Iraqi forces took control of the entire country, which Saddam maintained was a province of Iraq.

Now substitute Russian President Vladimir Putin for Saddam, Russia for Iraq, and Ukraine for Kuwait. Everything written above would approximate what took place in February 2022, when Putin gathered Russia’s military along its border with Ukraine, a country whose independence he had rejected in an essay published the previous July, in which he wrote, “I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.”

At issue in both crises was the most basic of all norms influencing international politics: that the borders of sovereign countries ought to be respected and not altered by armed force. In both instances, the leader initiating the aggression overestimated his chances of succeeding – and in both instances, much of the world underestimated the threat, thinking it was a bluff until it proved to be anything but.

Diplomacy and economic sanctions fell short of meeting the challenges posed by Iraq and Russia. What was required was military force, and a great deal of it. US leadership also proved essential to reversing aggression in one case and resisting it in the other.

But important differences between the two scenarios highlight just how much the world has changed. Start with Russia. In 1990, bilateral relations between the US and the then-Soviet Union were relatively good, enabling a peaceful end to the Cold War – the sort of outcome that history suggests is anything but automatic. The Soviet Union extended diplomatic support to the US in its effort to resist Iraqi aggression, even though Iraq had long been a close partner.

The End of Democratic Capitalism?

Daron Acemoglu

The world is in the throes of a pervasive crisis. The gap between rich and poor has widened in most countries. Although industrialized economies are still growing, the real incomes of people working in them have barely increased since 1980, and in some places, such as the United States, the real wages of low-skilled workers have dropped sharply. The economic malaise has a corollary in politics: democracy is floundering. According to Freedom House, more countries have lost freedom than gained it every year for the past 17 years. Authoritarianism seems to be on the rise. For many governments, China’s statist form of capitalism offers a tempting model. Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, has launched the biggest war in Europe since the end of World War II. The twenty-first century so far has been marked by repression, turbulence, and the disintegration of democratic institutions.

Two thought-provoking recent books seek to anatomize these pessimistic times in fresh ways. In The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism, Martin Wolf, a veteran economics commentator at the Financial Times, suggests that the root cause of this malaise lies in the breakdown of the relationship between capitalism and liberal democracy. In A World of Insecurity, the economist Pranab Bardhan argues that the ills plaguing the world are best understood not in terms of inequality but in terms of insecurity—simmering economic and social anxiety about job loss, declining incomes, poverty, and cultural change.

Bardhan opens his book with a warning from the German novelist Thomas Mann, who wrote in 1938 that the biggest mistake that people in democracies can make is “self-forgetfulness.” Mann feared that it was dangerously easy for societies to take democracy for granted, erasing from the collective memory the difficult process of creating the institutions underpinning self-government and assuming that these institutions were invulnerable. This sentiment is shared by both authors. In a slew of countries, people have committed the sin that so concerned Mann, failing to uphold democracy, the duties of citizenship, and the goal of shared prosperity.

A Green Transition That Leaves No One Behind

PARIS – We are urgently working to deliver more for people and the planet. Multiple, overlapping shocks have strained countries’ ability to address hunger, poverty, and inequality; build resilience; and invest in their futures. Debt vulnerabilities in low- and middle-income countries present a major hurdle to their economic recovery, and to their ability to make critical long-term investments.

We are urgently working to fight poverty and inequalities. An estimated 120 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty in the last three years and we are still far from achieving our United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We should thus place people at the center of our strategy to increase human welfare everywhere on the globe.

We want a system that better addresses development needs and vulnerabilities, now heightened by climate risks, which could further weaken countries’ ability to eliminate poverty and achieve inclusive economic growth. Climate change will generate larger and more frequent disasters, and disproportionately affect the poorest, most vulnerable populations around the world. These challenges cross borders and pose existential risks to societies and economies.

We want our system to deliver more for the planet. The transition to a “net-zero” world and the goals of the Paris climate agreement are an opportunity for this generation to unlock a new era of sustainable global economic growth. We believe that just ecological transitions that leave no one behind can be a powerful force for alleviating poverty and supporting inclusive and sustainable development. This requires long-term investment everywhere to ensure that all countries are able to seize this opportunity. Inspired by the historic Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, we also need new economic models which recognize the immense value of nature for humanity.

We are convinced that poverty reduction and protection of the planet are converging objectives. We must focus on just and inclusive transitions to ensure that the poor and most vulnerable can fully reap the benefits of this opportunity, rather than disproportionally bearing the cost. We recognize that countries may need to pursue diverse transition paths in line with the Paris agreement’s 1.5° Celsius limit, depending on their national circumstances. There will be no transition if there is no solidarity, economic opportunities, or sustainable growth to finance it.

The Truth About Ukraine’s Failing Counteroffensive And The Peace That Could Have Been


With each passing day, it’s becoming clear that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is failing to achieve any of its originally stated objectives. Recall: The Biden administration’s bet was that the counteroffensive would roll back Russian territorial gains, cut the land bridge to Crimea, and force Russia to the negotiating table. That is almost certainly not going to happen. On the contrary, a stalemate is more likely, or even that Russia will take more territory and win the war, as John Mearsheimer has predicted.

What are President Biden’s options now? Either escalate or admit defeat. In preparation for NATO’s Vilnius Summit, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been floating a proposal to give “Israel status” to Ukraine. This means multi-year security guarantees including weapons, ammunition, and money that would continue even if Biden loses the next election.

This is not what the American people signed up for. Many Americans supported the $100-plus billion in appropriations for Ukraine, believing it was a one-time deal to reverse Russian territorial gains. If they had been told it was the basis for an annual appropriation in a new Forever War, they would have preferred an alternative, especially if they had known that one was available.

The Peace that Could Have Been

New evidence is emerging that a peace deal was achievable at the beginning of the war. At a recent meeting with the African delegation, Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly showed the draft of an outline or preliminary agreement signed by the Ukrainian delegation in Istanbul in early 2022. It allegedly provided that Russia would pull back to pre-war lines if Ukraine would agree not to join NATO (but Ukraine could receive security guarantees from the West).

Oil leaves invisible footprint on Gulf's non-oil economies

Sebastian Castelier

Touted progress in diversifying Gulf economies beyond the fossil fuel rent comes with a caveat. Oil and gas revenues indirectly propel large chunks of the non-oil economy through public expenditures such as wages, subsidies and infrastructure spending.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the non-oil segment of Gulf economies to grow 45% faster than the overall gross domestic product (GDP) this year, which includes the oil and gas sector. The figure is in line with the 2000-2019 average trend.

This follows a unique situation in 2022 when the Gulf’s overall gross domestic product expanded 57% faster than the non-oil segment after oil prices surged to their highest levels since 2008 as Western sanctions against Russia threatened to disrupt global oil supply. Even so, the World Bank noted in a May 2023 report that Gulf economies' “stellar growth” last year “was not just a result of buoyant hydrocarbon prices but also continued growth of non-oil economies.”

“Hopefully by 2030, I wouldn't care if the oil price is zero”, Saudi Arabia’s finance minister Mohammed Al Jadaan told CNN in 2017. But the prospect of decoupling the Gulf's overall economy from its main export commodity in the near future has long been exaggerated.

“It is a mixed picture,” said Justin Alexander, director of Khalij Economics, a consulting firm. “Looking at just non-oil GDP figures is misleading." Parts of the economy, he said, "are basically the result of the recycling of oil revenues through government spending rather than independent value creation.” Since oil revenues still account for about two-thirds of Saudi Arabia’s government revenue, the kingdom remains a petrostate.

Oil is sticky

Upcoming Space Force-NRO critical thinking wargame to focus on space conflict in 2030


SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.--Crews of the National Space Defense Center provide threat-focused space domain awareness across the nation security space enterprise. The NSDC was originally established in 2015 as the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center and was renamed in 2017 to more accurately reflect its mission. (U.S. Space Force photo by Kathryn Damon)

The Space Security Defense Program (SSDP) — a joint Space Force and National Reconnaissance Office organization — is planning a “great power space competition event” to brainstorm the technology and techniques that will be needed for the United States to compete in future conflicts in space.

The confab will bring together experts from industry, academia and government to think through challenges and what solutions — available both now and in the future — will be required, according to a solicitation posted on Sam.gov on Wednesday.

“The space operational environment is a complex web of state and non-state actors and private individuals; friendly, neutral, and hostile audiences; information networks; information systems and links; and information itself in a myriad of formats,” the document states. “The space information environment of 2030 will be even more complex due to geopolitical competition and conflict, new technologies, increasing prevalence of AI enabled operations and information manipulation techniques, and advancements in adversary space capabilities and systems.”

During the gathering, participants will be given a scenario that involves threats posed by adversaries across the entire range of space operations — including ground, link and on-orbit environments — and tasked to find “multidomain and multidimensional” solutions, according to the solicitation.

The SSDP will also ask participants to describe what the space operational environment could look like in 2030, what technologies will be needed to conduct space domain awareness and targeting, and how the United States could deter aggressive activity in space with capabilities and mission concepts.

The Constant Fight: Intelligence Activities, Irregular Warfare, and Political Warfare

Philip Wasielewski

The study of intelligence and nontraditional warfare is essential to fully understand the various, and sometimes indirect, means by which the United States can solve or manage national security threats beyond the traditional tools of diplomacy and military power.

Intelligence and nontraditional warfare activities are conducted daily to bring policymakers information necessary for decision-making, protect secrets, and implement policy decisions below the threshold of significant military action

Unfortunately, the constant fight of intelligence and nontraditional warfare are often not as well studied or understood as other traditional statecraft tools. Therefore, this new center at the Foreign Policy Research Institute will conduct scholarly research on intelligence and nontraditional warfare to facilitate understanding by the general public, as well as government and academic experts, on how these specialties provide for the nation’s security, caveats in their application, and lessons learned from past actions to inform future policy decisions.

With the war in Ukraine and fears of war over Taiwan, America’s national security focus has turned from the threat of terrorism to the more traditional threats of inter-state competition and conventional or even nuclear war. The concern about threats posed by major state competitors, particularly Russia and China, is understandable. Both are nuclear-armed revisionist powers. Russia’s war in Ukraine aims to overturn the rules-based order in Europe and establish regional hegemony over its former Soviet empire; China’s growing capability to seize Taiwan possibly presages a similar effort in East Asia. Hence, efforts to revive and strengthen America’s strategic and conventional warfighting capabilities and industrial base are wise and overdue.

Fortunately, major conventional wars are relatively rare. In the 125 years since the Spanish-American War made the United States a world power, it has engaged in major conventional warfare for only seventeen of those years. Unfortunately, conflict is not rare. In that same time frame, US military forces have engaged in what was once known as “small wars” and are now characterized as irregular wars in at least ninety-two of those 125 years.

The Space Race may already be won

Justin Fauntleroy

Justin Fauntleroy is a government contractor responsible for writing future concepts and doctrine for the U.S. military, specifically the Joint Staff and Naval Warfare Development Center. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master’s degree in national policy and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College, where he completed a master’s thesis on Space Deterrence for U.S. Strategic Command.

With little fanfare, SpaceX has unveiled its plan to completely revolutionize the space industry, and the world has collectively shrugged.

In early December 2022, SpaceX introduced its Starshield concept, a satellite program offering satellite-based secure communications and optional sensing payloads to government customers. However, despite its subdued announcement, Starshield is, in fact, a Trojan horse that will enable SpaceX to further dominate the space domain and dictate policy to businesses and national governments alike. With the new Starshield program, SpaceX is on the verge of transforming its dominance into a monopoly. Governments and businesses must act now to counter any attempts to monopolize the space industry in order to preserve consumer choice and to ensure national policy remains in the hands of elected governments.

SpaceX’s current dominance of the commercial space market is starkly illustrated by the fact that OneWeb, the nearest competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink, was forced to select SpaceX as its launch provider. SpaceX, a private company, can already control its competitors’ access to space and force its policies on national governments. There is simply no other company that can compete with SpaceX’s cost and responsiveness. And the peril of one company being able to dominate the space industry is currently being demonstrated on the battleground of Russia’s war in Ukraine. In October 2022, SpaceX is suspected of restricting the use of Starlink for advancing Ukrainian forces to comply with CEO Elon Musk’s belief that Ukrainian attempts to reclaim their territory were needlessly escalatory and should be stopped. Later, in February 2023, SpaceX explicitly forbade the use of Starlink for “offensive or defensive operations” but retained for itself the final authority on what defined offensive or defensive operations.