2 July 2023

America’s India Problem

Akhilesh Pillalamarri

A woman holds a Kashmir flag during a protest outside the United Nations against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sept. 27, 2019 in New York, U.S.Credit: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was received in the United States for a state visit that included a dinner at the White House and an address to a joint session of Congress. Few other world leaders have addressed Congress twice. There is no doubt that the U.S. government was trying to demonstrate its commitment to increasingly close relations with India.

From a political and strategic point of view, the trip was a success for both the U.S. and India, judging by the effusive praise the political leadership of both countries heaped upon each other and by the quality and quantity of deals signed. Particularly important is a deal to produce General Electric Aerospace jet engines in India, a sign of growing military ties between the two countries. Moreover, leading businessmen, such as Elon Musk have expressed excitement about investing more in India.

The reaction from the U.S. media, think tanks, and activist groups on the other hand, was more muted.

Leading U.S. think tanks, newspapers, and magazines such as the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), The New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, Time, and Vox all ran articles last week that advised caution, questioned U.S. President Joe Biden’s warm reception of Modi, and at times even purported to be mortified at improved relations between the two countries, primarily because of human rights issues in India.

Modi’s visit thus engendered two very different types of reactions from elites in the United States. This could definitely be problematic for India going forward if not checked because think tanks, journalists, and activists all influence policymakers. Indeed, the perception is growing in American media and activist circles — without correction — that democracy has “decayed” in India, that India’s government is supported by “fascist forces,” and that the “genocide” of its Muslim minority is imminent.

Updating America’s Asia strategy

China’s rapid growth in economic power, military strength, and diplomatic influence has sparked concerns in Washington and elsewhere about whether China is on a trajectory to become the dominant power in Asia, displacing the United States from its post-World War II leadership role in the region. This has generated worry about whether a more Sino-centric Asia would generate illiberal tailwinds in the international system. It also has led to misgivings about whether a more dominant China would seek to curtail American access to Asia, the engine of the global economy in the coming century, thereby diminishing America’s long-term competitiveness.

In the face of these risks, the United States and its partners have been advancing a concerted strategy to build a more densely integrated web of relationships in the region. Through a combination of partnerships, alliances, issue-specific groupings, and formalized structures, countries in the region have begun cohering to hedge against risks from China.

Even so, China continues to grow its military, strengthen its central position in the regional economy, and make diplomatic inroads across the region. Meanwhile, there is a latent perception in parts of Asia that the United States is failing to meet the moment. This assessment is most pronounced on trade issues, where the United States finds itself on the outside of the region’s two main trade agreements, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

To evaluate the merits of these anxieties and identify potential policy remedies, Ryan Hass, Bruce Jones, and Mireya Solís convened 10 Brookings scholars for a written dialogue on steps the United States could take to strengthen its overall strategy in Asia. These experts, drawn from a range of disciplines, were asked to offer recommendations on regional economic strategy, diplomatic strategy, and security strategy.

The following are a few key takeaways from the exchanges that included David Dollar, Patricia Kim, Tanvi Madan, Joshua P. Meltzer, Chris Meserole, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Eswar Prasad, Melanie W. Sisson, Tom Stefanick, and Andrew Yeo:

Tracking the Evolution of Conflict: Barometers for Interstate and Civil Conflict

Gary Goertz; Paul F. Diehl; Andrew P. Owsiak; Luis Schenoni

This paper presents news ways to track violent conflict over time, providing conflict barometers for interstate and civil conflict, respectively. After critiquing previous efforts at measurement, the authors discuss general principles concerning the utility of conflict barometers. The interstate barometer is based on establishing a baseline for the relationship between a pair of states and then using the incidence and severity of militarized confrontations to track variations around those baselines. The resulting Interstate Conflict Severity Barometer (ICSB) is scaled from 0 (no violent conflict) to 1,000 (rivalry plus severe militarized confrontations) for 2,631 different state-state relationships over the period 1900–2015. Data are available in the form of monthly conflict barometer scores for those pairs of states, and there are over 1 million observations in the data. Short narratives are matched with barometer scores for five illustrative cases: India-Pakistan, Israel-Egypt, France-Germany, US-China, and Ecuador-Peru. The Civil Conflict Barometer (CCB) is built on a combination of armed violence deaths, military coups, and substantial human rights violations. Ranging from 0 (high-quality negative peace) to 1,000 (serious and widespread violent conflict), the CCB covers 79 different countries at risk for conflict over the period 1989–2019. Data are available on a yearly basis for these countries, and there are 2,432 individual data points. Short narratives are matched with barometer scores for three illustrative cases: Haiti, Venezuela, and Mozambique.
About the Authors

Gary Goertz, independent scholar, Ann Arbor, MI

Paul F. Diehl, independent scholar of international relations, Champaign, IL

Andrew P. Owsiak, professor of international affairs, University of Georgia

Luis Schenoni, assistant professor of political science, University College London

This research was funded by USIP’s Grants and Inclusive Peace Processes and Reconciliation Programs, which are solely responsible for the accuracy and thoroughness of the content. The views expressed in this discussion paper are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Institute of Peace.

Military Coup Has Inflicted ‘Permanent’ Damage on Myanmar, World Bank Says

Sebastian Strangio

Myanmar’s economy has been “permanently scarred” by the military coup in February 2021, and the conflict and economic distortions that have since resulted, the World Bank said in a new report.

In the latest issue of its semi-annual Myanmar Economic Monitor, released yesterday, the World Bank predicted that the country is far from recouping the 18 percent contraction that the World Bank reported following the coup. At the current pace, it is unlikely to reach its pre-coup and pre-COVID-19 levels until 2027 or 2028.

“In the medium-term, the deep contraction in 2021, the ensuing weak and uneven recovery, and increasing policy distortions will leave the economy permanently scarred,” stated the report.

The coup and the nationwide conflict that has ensured have punched a gaping hole in the side of Myanmar’s economy, which has been impacted by the imposition of Western sanctions, the withdrawal of major international investors, a sharp spike in unemployment, and a collapse in the value of the kyat currency. This is to say nothing of the direct effects of the civil war itself: according to the United Nations, more than 1.5 million people have been displaced by conflict since the coup. Around 60,000 civilian properties have been destroyed and more than 23,000 people have been arrested.

The World Bank projected Myanmar’s GDP to increase by 3 percent in the year to September 2023, the same rate as last year, reflecting “tentative signs of stabilization” in the economy in the first half of the year after the “significant volatility” that characterized much of 2022. Among the signs that it noted was the relative stabilization of the kyat, easing inflation, and the beginnings of a recovery for many economic indicators.

America, China, and the Virtue of Low Expectations

Ryan Hass

In the days since U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s highly anticipated visit to Beijing this month, many commentators have lamented the paltry results of the trip. Although it was the first visit to China by a U.S. secretary of state in five years and Blinken was even accorded an audience with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the trip did not yield any major breakthroughs or changes in relations between the two countries. Nor were there signs that either side was altering its basic strategic assessment of the other.

China’s Foreign PR Enablers

Sarah Cook

It has long been common for Chinese diplomats to publish op-eds in major foreign news outlets. Other familiar features of Beijing’s international media influence efforts include articles that promote Huawei telecommunications technology while downplaying the firm’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), or invitations to journalists and university leaders for all-expenses-paid trips to China.

But how do the relevant actors in the Chinese system identify and make contact with the appropriate individuals and institutions in each foreign society? Increasingly, this service is performed by local public relations (PR) firms – in exchange for lucrative fees.

Country case studies and other research from a recent Freedom House report, “Beijing’s Global Media Influence,” reveal the extent to which PR firms have been working to get Beijing’s message out and co-opt local voices in countries as diverse as the United States, Panama, Taiwan, and Kenya. In at least some cases, the effort involves covert, coercive, or potentially corrupting activities.

Rare Insight Through a US Law

Uncovering the details of collaboration between Beijing and local PR firms is a major challenge, but public filings under the United States’ Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) shed some light on the phenomenon.

A case study on Beijing’s media influence efforts in the United States since 2019, published by Freedom House last month, highlights a contract between the Chinese embassy and Brown Lloyd James (BLJ) in which the embassy paid the firm $144,000 in the first half of 2020 to help diplomats with “crafting, editing, and placing op-eds,” as well as maintaining the embassy’s social media accounts. During those six months, then-Ambassador Cui Tiankai had articles published by the Washington Post, the New York Times, Bloomberg, and possibly other outlets. Since the contract ended, Cui’s successors have been much less prolific.

China offers closer military cooperation with Vietnam

BEIJING, June 27 (Reuters) - China is willing to work with Vietnam to strengthen high-level communication and cooperation between their militaries, Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu said on Tuesday as he met his Vietnamese counterpart.

In their meeting in Beijing, Li said the international situation was chaotic and intertwined, and the security of the Asia-Pacific region was facing challenges, the Chinese defence ministry said in a statement.

"China and Vietnam should continue to work hand in hand and closely unite in the new journey of socialism, safeguard the common strategic interests of the two countries, and make positive contributions to regional peace and stability," Li said in the talks with Vietnam's defence minister, Phan Van Giang.

Li told Phan that relations between their militaries had developed well, adding that China's military was willing to push relations to a new level.

Their meeting came after the USS Ronald Reagan made a stop in the Vietnamese port of Danang on Sunday - the third by a U.S. aircraft carrier since the end of the Vietnam War.

The U.S. navy visit comes amid tension between China and the United States in the South China Sea, most of which China claims, as the two powers jostle for influence in the energy-rich region.

In the past few weeks, Li has met South Africa's defence force commander and Thailand's army chief but he has not held talks with U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Both Li and Austin attended a security summit in Singapore in early June but Li declined the offer of a meeting.

Li, appointed defence minister in March, is under U.S. sanctions over his role in a 2017 weapons purchase from Russia's largest arms exporter. China has said it wants the sanctions dropped to facilitate discussions.

Erdogan wins the presidency: Causes, implications and horizons

To navigate internal and external challenges, Erdogan and his government need a disciplined approach at home combined with a flexible posture abroad. [AP]

The run-off in Turkey’s presidential race on 28 May 2023 gave President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a second and final term in office. Despite the country’s economic crisis, the devastating earthquake earlier this year, the months of speculation about Erdogan’s impending loss, and the unprecedented alliance backing his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Erdogan won with nearly the same percentage of votes as the 2018 poll. Various reasons have been cited to explain the result—Kilicdaroglu’s lack of a coherent platform and his inability to develop a compelling electoral strategy—but Erdogan’s victory is attributable to more fundamental factors. It is clear that identity politics still carry much weight in Turkey, that the conservative voting bloc remains the largest, and that the majority of this bloc continues to believe in Erdogan and his ability to lead the country.

In his final term in office, Erdogan faces several domestic challenges. Firstly, there is the now two year-long economic crisis. For more than a decade, the Turkish government has encouraged the private sector to borrow from abroad to support steady economic growth, in the process racking up short-term loans of more than $250 billion. With investors exiting the Turkish market, the result has been the depreciation of the Turkish lira and skyrocketing inflation. While the policy direction of the new government is still uncertain, Erdogan’s appointments so far indicate his determination to form an economic team trusted by the Turkish and international market.

Secondly, a new civilian constitution is needed to replace the document written under the post-coup regime of 1980, in order to address thorny issues of citizenship and nationhood, revisit freedoms and rights, and treat the shortcomings that marred the transition to a presidential system. But the People’s Alliance, led by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), does not have the parliamentary majority needed to approve a new constitution. The drafting process will therefore require a national debate and the forging of a broad political consensus.

Publication: The Economics of Water Scarcity in the Middle East and North Africa: Institutional Solutions

de Waal, Dominick Khemani, Stuti Barone, Andrea Borgomeo, Edoardo

Despite massive infrastructure investments, countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continue to face unprecedented water scarcity due to climate change, population growth, and socioeconomic development. Current policy regimes for managing water across competing needs are primarily determined by state control of large infrastructure. Policy makers across the region understand the unsustainability of water allocations and that increasing investments in new infrastructure and technologies to increase water supply place a growing financial burden on governments. However, standard solutions for demand management—reallocating water to higher value uses, reducing waste, and increasing tariffs—pose difficult political dilemmas that, more often than not, are left unresolved. Without institutional reform, the region will likely remain in water distress even with increased financing for water sector infrastructure.The Economics of Water Scarcity in the Middle East and North Africa: Institutional Solutions confronts the persistence and severity of water scarcity in MENA. The report draws on the tools of public economics to address two crucial challenges facing states in MENA: lack of legitimacy and trust. Evidence from the World Values Survey shows that people in the region believe that a key role of government is to keep prices down and that governments are reluctant to raise tariffs because of the risk of widespread protests. Instead of avoiding the “politically sensitive” issue of water scarcity, this report argues that reform leaders and their external partners can reform national water institutions and draw on local political contestation to establish a new social contract. The crisis and emotive power of water in the region can be used to bolster legitimacy and trust and build a sustainable, inclusive, thriving economy that is resilient to climate change.

Air University PressJournal of Indo-Pacific Affairs,

Fortifying Stability in Space: Establishing the US Space Force

Small States in Space: Space Club Relevancy and National Interest Influence

NATO’s Role in Space: How and Why NATO Member States Should Expand Their Purpose and Capabilities in Space

Pushing Boundaries: Can the Indian Military Transform?

Developing the Direction of Military Space Capabilities in South Korea

China and Brazil’s Cooperation in the Satellite Sector: Implications for the United States?

Cosmic Collision Course: Power Dynamics and Geopolitical Implications of Space Debris Management in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue Countries

The Art of Thriving in Space: A Resilience Strategy for India’s Future in Space

Putin’s Beast That Would Now Devour Him

Roger Cohen

Over the course of a month I spent in the Russian capital, the red-and-black billboards of Yevgeny V. Prigozhin’s Wagner paramilitary group multiplied. “Join the team of victors!” they said, beneath an image of menacing mercenaries in balaclavas and masks, only their eyes visible.

A possible implication was that the Russian forces on the other mushrooming Moscow billboards — regular soldiers recruited by the Ministry of Defense pictured above slogans like “Real Work!” or “Be a hero!” — were the losers of President Vladimir V. Putin’s reckless gamble in Ukraine.

As heedless Muscovites headed for their offices and gyms, their Italian or Japanese restaurants, their bars and nightclubs, this military recruitment drive on two fronts offered the sole image in the capital of the Russian scramble to contain the fallout, and hide the full impact, of the invasion that began 16 months ago. Easier to order a latte than dwell on lost lives in Mariupol.

Now, with his blunt depiction of that invasion as a “racket” that “wasn’t needed to demilitarize or denazify Ukraine,” and his apparently short-lived armed uprising, Mr. Prigozhin has played on one of Mr. Putin’s worst fears: division and rebellion, with tanks on the streets, as in the mayhem of the 1990s from which Mr. Putin, a former K.G.B. officer, abruptly emerged as the inscrutable president and Mr. Stability.

Since then, over 23 years, Mr. Putin has steadily consolidated his power, using his wars that began in Chechnya to cement nationalist sentiment, terrorizing the opposition to the point that dissent has become a crime, and shaping a wildly unequal economy around a coterie of handpicked oligarchs. He has reverted Russia to type as an autocratic police state under an all-powerful latter-day czar after its brief but heady post-Communist flirtation with a freer society.

“The system Putin built is very stable,” a Western ambassador in Moscow told me this month. “But if I woke up one morning and saw tanks on the street, I would not be totally astonished.”

Plot Thickens: Russian Generals Supported Wagner Mutiny but Backed Out – US Intelligence

Kyiv Post

Reports are appearing, in The New York Times and elsewhere, that senior Russian military officers may have known about chief of the Wagner mercenary force chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plans in advance and may have indicated they would support him or may have actually helped plan it.

US Intelligence agencies believe that General Sergei Surovikin, the deputy commander of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine may have supported Wagner’s move as a precursor to the removal of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

Surovikin, who the Russian media gave the sobriquet “General Armageddon” because of his “scorched earth” tactics in Syria, was appointed head of operations in Ukraine in October.

However, shortly after taking over in November, he humiliatingly had to withdraw his troops from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson. In January, in a sign that Putin had lost faith in Surovikin’s leadership, he was replaced by Gerasimov. Surovikin, who is also commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces supporting operations in Ukraine, remained as deputy.

Prigozhin and others, such as Igor Girkin a staunchly pro-war Russian milblogger and war criminal, made no secret of their disdain for Russia’s military leaders and blamed them for the failure of Putin’s “special military operation”. It is suspected that Surovikin shared that view, and it was suggested that, because of this, he may well have helped plan Mr. Prigozhin’s actions last weekend, an accusation that US Intelligence is said to be investigating.

Taiwan tracks pair of Russian warships off island’s eastern coast


Taiwan scrambled aircraft and dispatched ships late Tuesday to monitor the passage of two Russian warships off its eastern coast, according to the island’s Ministry of National Defense.

Two Russian frigates traveled northward along the coast toward the East China Sea around 11 p.m. Tuesday, the ministry said in a news release Tuesday. It did not specify how far offshore the ships were.

In response, Taiwan’s military used “joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance methods” and “dispatched mission aircraft, ships and shore-mounted missile systems to closely monitor” the Russian vessels, according to the release.

The ships continued on course and left Taiwan’s “response area” southeast of Suao, a city on the island’s northeastern edge that is also home to a logistics support naval base, according to the Defense Ministry.

While Taiwan reports near-daily activity from the Chinese military off its western coast in the Taiwan Strait — 49 Chinese aircraft and 20 ships have been reported in the waterway since Sunday — Russian activity is less common.

The warships’ passage comes less than a week after the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary outfit, organized a brief, two-day rebellion against the Russian government that began Friday with the group taking over military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don and concluded Saturday after they stood down and withdrew from the city.

It also comes just over a week after Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Beijing to meet with high-level Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, which Blinken described as “candid and constructive” but failed to secure the United States’ top priority of renewed communication between the two countries’ militaries.

Tommy Tuberville speculates US involved in Russia military uprising

Ruth Serven Smith

President Joe Biden has said the United States was “not involved” in the short mercenary uprising in Russia, but Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, claims otherwise.

“President Biden said we’re not involved in that, which is probably the biggest lie you can tell,” Tuberville said Tuesday on an Alabama talk radio show. “There’s no way we’re not involved in it to some degree with our CIA.”

It’s not clear whether the senator was simply speculating or had received additional information from intelligence briefings. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

According to news reports, U.S. officials were in frequent contact with Russia over the tumultuous weekend but stressed that they saw the issue as an internal dispute.

Tuberville said he thought the U.S. should be more involved in working with Ukraine and Russia to resolve the conflict.

“Biden should be on the phone every day talking to Putin and Zelensky,” he said, naming the leaders of the two countries. “It just amazes me how little input the White House has had over the past year. There have been hundreds of thousands of people killed. It’s just been devastating.”

“We’re over there doing things we shouldn’t be doing, spending money we shouldn’t be spending.”

The United States just announced a new $500 million package in military aid for Ukraine.

Tuberville also said he will continue to push Alabama’s request to house Space Command headquarters and to block military promotions in protest of the Department of Defense’s abortion policy.

There Are Fancy Ukrainian Brigades—Then There’s The 31st Mechanized. The Unassuming Unit Just Pulled A Daring Maneuver.

David Axe

The Ukrainian army’s 31st Mechanized Brigade on Sunday liberated the village of Rivnopil in southern Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast.

The small victory marks the continued slow progress of Ukraine’s long-anticipated counteroffensive, which kicked off on June 4 with simultaneous assaults on Russian positions along at least three major southern axes.

What’s most notable about the fight for Rivnopil, a tiny cluster of homes two miles south of the former front line, is who liberated the town ... and how.

The 31st Mechanized Brigade isn’t one of the nine new brigades the Kyiv’s foreign allies equipped and trained to a rough approximation of NATO standards. Instead, it’s one of the brigades the Ukrainian army recently formed on its own, with mostly ex-Soviet equipment.

But the 2,000-person brigade’s inexperience, and its mix of mostly older weaponry, didn’t prevent it from seemingly executing a smart maneuver on the fields around Rivnopil last week.

Riding in Soviet-style T-64BV tanks and American-made MaxxPro armored trucks, the brigade advanced around Rivnopil, signaling to the Russian garrison in the village—possibly from the 394th Motor Rifle Regiment—that they were about to get surrounded and cut off.

Despite holding the high ground, the Russians retreated—and the 31st Mechanized Brigade’s 2nd Mechanized Battalion entered Rivnopil. The brigade posted a video announcing the village’s liberation. “The orcs are running,” one soldier said. “And we are moving forward.”

The 31st Mechanized Brigade’s win in Rivnopil makes a mockery of Russian propaganda. On the first full day of the counteroffensive, Russian state media claimed the 31st and a partner mechanized brigade, the 23rd, suffered such extreme losses northeast of Rivnopil that Kyiv dissolved the units and combined their survivors into a single new fighting formation.

No Water Wars?

Natasha Hall

Last month, the Taliban and Iran violently clashed over water rights along their shared border.

Though the battle lasted only two hours, the incident seemed to contradict a prevailing consensus in academic literature that wars have not and will not be fought over water. But water mismanagement’s contribution to conflict and instability is difficult to isolate—while it rarely causes war, it exacerbates tensions, undermines cooperation, and strengthens hardline voices. In a vicious cycle, it then becomes a victim of ongoing hostilities and lack of cooperation.

For three decades, a debate over the future of water wars has raged on. In the 1990s, scholars and high-ranking officials from UN secretary-general Kofi Annan to the vice president of the World Bank warned that increased water scarcity and rising populations would lead to wars over water. Aaron Wolfe at Oregon State University and other water experts discredited the theory using extensive databases that tabulated every recorded instance of cooperation or dispute over water.

For over 20 years, this camp emphasized that cooperation, not conflict, typifies struggles over water. The argument is essentially that no war has been fought solely over water for thousands of years of human history. Between 1945 and 1999, instances of cooperation between riparian countries outnumbered conflicts by two to one. Water, even in arid regions, does not typically culminate in conflict. To make the case, these experts often cite the hundreds of water treaties signed throughout history. Though European and North American countries signed two-thirds of those treaties, according to one study, only 31 treaties were signed in Asia (which includes the Middle East in the study) for five river basins, each shared by four or more countries.

Decades of mismanaged water resources are putting stress on the maintenance of peace within and across borders.

The Turmoil In Russia And What It Means For China – Analysis

He Jun

Amidst the ongoing stalemate in the Ukrainian war, a major internal conflict has erupted within Russia with the mutiny of the mercenary Wagner Group.

On June 23, Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, took to social media to accuse the Russian Ministry of Defense of launching an attack on Wagner’s camp, resulting in significant losses for Wagner personnel. However, the Russian Ministry of Defense swiftly dismissed these allegations as baseless. Prigozhin stated that Wagner armed personnel had crossed into Russia from Ukraine and were prepared to confront the Russian military. He warned that his forces would “destroy everything that gets in our way”. However, he also claimed that his criticism and actions against the Russian military were a just cause rather than a coup. On June 24, Wagner troops entered Russia’s Rostov Oblast and engaged in combat with the Russian military, even shooting down a Russian helicopter. According to the information tracked by ANBOUND’s research team, on the same day, a convoy of Wagner mercenaries appeared at Lipetsk Oblast, just 400 kilometers away from Moscow.

After the outbreak of the incident, General Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, released a video urgently appealing to Wagner to cease the “rebellion” and peacefully resolve the issue “before it is too late”, in obedience to the will of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In response to it, the Russian authorities took immediate action. The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation announced the initiation of criminal proceedings against Prigozhin for inciting rebellion. According to TASS news agency on June 24, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that many Wagner members “have already realized their mistake and asked for assistance in their return to places of permanent deployment”. The Russian military also stated that they would ensure the safety of Wagner armed personnel who were not involved in the rebellion. Regarding the rebellion, Russian President Putin delivered a televised address to the nation on June 24. He mentioned that Russian government will take “decisive actions”.

Prigozhin Showed Russians That They Might Have a Choice

What happened in Russia over the weekend? It began as a mutiny within the armed forces, continued as what looked like a mafia sit-down, seemed briefly to transform into a coup, then ended abruptly the way that a hostage-taking may end, with the terrorist given safe passage, immunity from prosecution, and a bunch of promises.

Stage 1: Mutiny. It had been brewing for months. All through the winter and spring, Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose private army, the Wagner Group, was fighting the Ukrainian military for control of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, had been accusing the Russian Defense Ministry of sabotaging his actions and failing to supply enough armaments. Prigozhin and his men—many of them convicted felons conscripted from prison colonies, an approach he didn’t invent but was the first to apply during this war—alternated between being plaintive and menacing. They threatened to abandon Bakhmut. On social media, they hurled insults at military brass, including the Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu, and the chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov. In response, the Ministry of Defense, Russia’s official, taxpayer-funded Army, which has been fighting alongside Prigozhin’s private force, apparently moved to limit Prigozhin’s power. For months the Ministry of Defense has reportedly been drafting from prison colonies, appropriating Prigozhin’s know-how and presumably cutting off his supply of able-bodied men with nothing to lose. In mid-June, the state military tried to put its house in order by requiring all fighters to sign identical contracts with the Ministry of Defense. It wasn’t clear if the measure applied to the Wagner Group—if it did, Prigozhin could effectively lose control of his army. On June 23rd, Prigozhin accused the Ministry of Defense of striking his bases and, in a series of statements, declared an armed rebellion. “The evil being wrought by the military leadership of this country must be stopped,” he said. “Justice in the ranks of the military will be restored—and then justice for all of Russia.” His men crossed the border from Ukraine into Russia. He claimed that they numbered twenty-five thousand. “This is not a military coup,” he said. “This is a march for justice.”

Joshua Yaffa on how the Russian President outsourced his military ambitions to the mercenary force—until it turned against him.

His Glory Fading, a Russian Warlord Took One Last Stab at Power

Paul Sonne and Anatoly Kurmanaev

Well before Yevgeny V. Prigozhin seized a major Russian military hub and ordered an armed march on Moscow, posing a startling and dramatic threat to President Vladimir V. Putin, the caterer-turned-mercenary boss was losing his own personal war.

Mr. Prigozhin’s private army had been sidelined. His lucrative government catering contracts had come under threat. The commander he most admired in the Russian military had been removed as the top general overseeing Ukraine. And he had lost his most vital recruiting source for fighters: Russia’s prisons.

Then, on June 13, his only hope for a last-minute intervention to spare him a bitter defeat in his long-running power struggle with Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu was dashed.

Mr. Putin sided publicly with Mr. Prigozhin’s adversaries, affirming that all irregular units fighting in Ukraine would have to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense. That included Mr. Prigozhin’s private military company, Wagner.

Now, the mercenary chieftain would be subordinated to Mr. Shoigu, an unparalleled political survivor in modern Russia and Mr. Prigozhin’s sworn enemy.

With an eye on Ukraine, head of British Army says ‘mass is still indispensable’


The British Army has invested significantly in a Challenger 3 main battle tank upgrade program (UK MoD)

BELFAST — The British Army’s most senior leader has hailed the need for combat mass as one of the major lessons to be drawn from the Ukraine war and strongly advised against any further cuts to UK land capabilities.

Gen. Patrick Sanders, British Army Chief of the General Staff, said that the war has shown “mass is still indispensable” and called those that argue for the service to receive reduced funding, based on the geography of the UK, “wrong.”

He also said that the UK would need greater capacity itself and should not “simply hide behind the armies of other NATO contributors” — comments that come amid a wider debate over the British Army’s ability to independently carry out high intensity warfare campaigns at scale.

Making the remarks at the Royal United Services Institute’s (RUSI) Land Warfare Conference on Monday, Sanders, however, also cautioned against taking other insights from the fight in Ukraine too far.

“We should treat many of these lessons with caution; one wonders what shape we would be in if, in the first few days after the Russian invasion, we had sold off our armor to invest in [Turkish made Bayraktar] TB2 or one-way attack drones,” he said.

Capability In Question, But Sanders Awaits Transformative Modernization

The question of UK land capability credibility rose to the surface recently when reports emerged that Germany was asked by NATO to consider an assessment into whether it could take control of the alliance’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF] for an additional year — beginning in 2024 — undoing an original plan for the UK to lead the mission. The UK Ministry of Defence has since denied the reports and said it is committed to undertake the VJTF role from January 2024.

Thales looks to new air defense capabilities after watching Ukraine, shows off radar


PARIS AIR SHOW — Like US military planners, the battles fought in Ukraine have thrown into sharp relief lessons for French defense contractor Thales, especially in the field of air defense, according to a senior executive there.

“The Ukrainian conflict showed that a wide spectrum of threats come from the skies [in] different sizes, from planes and helicopters to hypersonic missiles, and small and large drones, which we didn’t face in the past,” Thales executive vice president for land and air systems Christophe Salomon told Breaking Defense in an interview last week.

As such, Salomon said the company is working to expand its air defense offerings by integrating a new array of sensors to detect threats and countermeasures to defeat them efficiently.

“The integrated air defense system has an open architecture that connects all this equipment together, allowing us to integrate new sensors and effectors that we are in [the] process of developing now,” Salomon said.

The idea of air defenses working efficiently is especially a priority. For example, Salomon noted the interest in directed energy weapons that the company is developing “in order to counter these [UAV] threats, knowing it is not feasible and cost effective to destroy a threat costing €10,000 with a €1 million missile.”

Salomon said the company is “also in the process of developing new products to counter ballistic missiles through HF — high frequency bands.”

“With these kind of missiles there is a very short time to respond, and the sooner the detection, the more time we have for reaction. Hence, we are developing the UHF wavefront (Ultra high frequency) family,” he said.

What is the fallout of Russia’s Wagner rebellion?

Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, Pavel K. Baev, Jessica Brandt, Federica Saini Fasanotti, Vanda Felbab-Brown, James Goldgeier, Ryan Hass, Steven Heydemann, Suzanne Maloney, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Elizabeth N. Saunders, Constanze Stelzenmüller, Caitlin Talmadge

Much of the media analysis after this weekend’s 23-hour Wagner rebellion is about the weakness of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime. True, personalized autocracies bypass rules and institutions and, as such, are inherently weaker than democracies.

But autocrats are also more dangerous precisely for the same reason — especially when they feel that their survival is at stake.

It is wrong to assume that the Russian military is toothless or that the Prigozhin saga is “the beginning of the end” for Putin. Putin was humiliated and, as Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin argues, the Russian military is corrupt and inefficient — but there is no indication that the regime is unraveling. We do not have a clear sense of what really happened. Was Prigozhin trying to stage a coup, as early reports suggested, or is this simply infighting among warlords in an opaque system?

Most likely the latter.

The Wagner chief never really publicly criticized Putin throughout this episode and has always said his feud was with the military leadership, namely Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. Prigozhin may have been set up by the regime to go on a drunken rage or may have just assumed, after months of ranting publicly, that Putin, too, agrees with his criticism of the army. In the end, Russian elites did not come to his support.

The impact of the mini-rebellion on the Ukraine war might also work in both ways. While many assume that, with the Russian military embroiled in infighting, the Ukrainians can now find openings to reclaim more territory, a humiliated Putin would likely get more belligerent in order not to be perceived as weak. (Several weeks after the failed coup attempt in Turkey, Ankara waged a massive incursion into Syria, in part for the same reason.) He might increase domestic repression and take his assault inside Ukraine up one more notch.

We don’t know what the future holds for Russia. Putin might one day be ousted. But for now, consolidation and escalation seem more likely than a regime collapse.

Minefields and Menace: Why Ukraine’s Pushback Is Off to a Halting Start

Andrew E. Kramer and Eric Schmitt

The Ukrainian Army is encountering an array of challenges that has complicated the early stages of its counteroffensive, especially the large swaths of minefields. But its leaders are urging patience, insisting the main push is yet to come.

Soldiers from Ukraine’s 36th Brigade fire on nearby Russian trenches from a rare hidden position on the front line in southern Ukraine.Credit...

The column of Bradley armored vehicles rumbled forward, filled with Ukrainian soldiers, bringing a new and potent American weapon to the war’s southern front.

But then one hit a mine. The explosion blew off one of the vehicle’s bulldozer-like tracks, immobilizing it. The entire Ukrainian column reversed direction, pulling back.

Three weeks into a counteroffensive critical to Ukraine’s prospects against Russia, its army is encountering an array of vexing challenges that complicate its plans, even as it wields sophisticated new Western-provided weapons. Not least is a vast swath of minefields protecting Russia’s defensive line, forming a killing field for Ukrainian troops advancing on the open steppe of the south.

“Everything is mined, everywhere,” said Lt. Ashot Arutiunian, the commander of a drone unit, who watched through a drone’s video link as the mine exploded under the Bradley and halted the column’s advance.

Over the weekend, a mutiny on Russian soil by mercenary forces raised hopes in Ukraine that its army might find the going a bit easier, even though the rebellion quickly died out.

But Ukrainians still face hurdles that differentiate this campaign from their swift push through the Kharkiv region in September and even from the more arduous offensive that recaptured Kherson in November.

Behavioural influence interventions in the information environment: Underlying mechanisms and techniques

This paper explores the application of (neuro)scientific and psychological insights to systematically influence the judgment, reasoning, and decision-making of various actors in the context of information warfare. This paper by J.E. (Hans) Korteling, Beatrice Cadet and Tineke Hof begins by examining the neuro-evolutionary origins of cognitive biases and their subconscious effects on human thinking, which often deviate from logical, probabilistic, and plausible reasoning.

The authors propose that information warfare can effectively exploit these cognitive biases to achieve desired outcomes. Using examples, the authors demonstrate how these biases can be subtly manipulated in both offline and online environments to influence decision-making and behaviour. The paper argues for the development of a comprehensive framework and methodology, including subtle influence interventions, operational procedures, risk-management strategies, and support tools, while adhering to democratic, juridical, and ethical principles. This paper presents the authors progress and findings in developing such an approach.

The military application of information has a long history in influencing the outcome of war and conflict on the battlefield. Be it by deceiving the opponent, maintaining troop confidence, or shaping public opinion. These tactics are placed under the banner of influencing human behaviour. Behavioural influencing is the act of meaningfully trying to affect the behaviour of an individual by targeting people’s knowledge, beliefs and emotions. Within the Dutch armed forces these tactics fall under title of Information Manoeuvre. With the ever-larger and more evasive employment of information-based capabilities to target human cognition, the boundaries of the physical and cognitive battlefield have begun to fade.  

For this paper series scholars, experts and policymakers submitted their papers on the employment of information-related capabilities to influence human behaviour in the military context. From the perspective of an individual European or NATO country’s perspective. The Information-based behavioural influencing and Western practice paper series is edited by Arthur Laudrain, Laura Jasper and Michel Rademaker. Download PDF

Advanced Packaging and the Future of Moore’s Law

Sujai Shivakumar and Chris Borges

Fundamental to all digital technologies, semiconductor chips are a major focal point in twenty-first-century geoeconomic competition. Nations see it as an imperative to invest heavily in semiconductor innovation to produce more powerful and cost-effective chips as a means to advance their growth, competitiveness, and national security.

In this regard, advanced packaging has emerged as a significant pathway for producing more powerful chips. Given the importance of semiconductors to national and economic security, it is critical to appreciate the scope for innovation in advanced packaging and its implications for the global semiconductor industry. This need is recognized in the CHIPS and Science Act, which authorizes at least $2.5 billion in FY 2022 alone for a newly established National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing program.

Q1: What is advanced packaging?

A1: There are three main steps in the semiconductor manufacturing process—design, fabrication, and “post-fab,” which consists of assembly, test, and packaging (ATP). While assembly, test, and packaging are distinct steps in the semiconductor manufacturing process, they are often performed by the same company at the same facility and are therefore grouped together.

Packaging is the process of encasing fabricated chips in various materials such as metal, glass, or plastic to protect them against corrosion and enable them to connect to external devices. Packaging is essential to semiconductor manufacturing—without effective packaging, semiconductors would not function.

Advanced packaging is a subset of traditional packaging. It is not one specific packaging technique, but rather an assortment of approaches for packaging chips that boost computational capabilities while lowering power consumption and cost. For example, fan-out wafer-level packaging and three-dimensional packaging are distinct packaging methods that are both considered advanced packaging techniques.

10 questions Congress should ask incoming Joint Chiefs nominees


US President Joe Biden announces his nomination of Air Force General Charles Brown, Jr. (R), to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, May 25, 2023. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The congressional confirmation process offers US lawmakers, and through them the American public, the important chance to ask direct questions of the nation’s military leaders about how they see threats abroad and weaknesses at home. In the op-ed below, AEI’s John Ferrari highlights 10 (okay, 11) key questions that he says should be on senators’ lips as the Joint Chief nominations come before them.

This summer, there will be a remarkable change in the leadership of our nation’s military, with four of five service chiefs changing out, in addition to the chairman.

Military nominees are a special class within our political system because the Constitution splits the responsibility for our military between the executive and legislative branches. While the president is the Commander in Chief, Congress is tasked with “raising and maintaining” the military. Thus, while the president interacts with the Joint Chiefs routinely, the Senate must ensure that they too have access to the unvarnished professional military advice of the chiefs, starting with real questions and real answers during confirmation.

To date, the Senate has held a hearing for only one of these key positions: the commandant of the Marine Corps. As they prepare for the other hearings, here are 10 essential questions, with one bonus question, that the Senate should consider asking of each nominee.

Do you think the United States will be engaged in war before 2030 or after 2030?

This is an important question to understand decision-making within the Pentagon. Current Pentagon leaders are willing to take on risk this decade to build out the force we may need in 2030. Knowing where the prospective members of the Joint Chiefs stand on this is crucial to informing Congress’s own role in building up American forces.

AI And Cyber Defense 2025: Decoding Defense Strategies

Jason Lau

That principle resonates strongly in an era where the rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI) is causing tectonic shifts in cybersecurity. In response to these clear and present risks, I hold an optimistic vision for the prevailing good that can emerge from AI's intersection with cybersecurity.

In this third thought leadership piece of the series, where I previously addressed AI-powered malware at the 2019 RSA Conference and explored the risks of AI hacking our brains in my 2020 Forbes post, my aim is to illustrate how cybersecurity leaders can harness the power of AI for a "good offense" in cyber defense. By 2025, I envision the examples outlined below becoming widespread in the cyber defense landscape.

Offense in cybersecurity translates to establishing a strategic advantage over your adversary through proactive identification and neutralization of threats before they inflict damage—and continual learning from past incidents to improve future responses. This is where our journey into the world of AI-driven cyber defense begins. But a pertinent question arises: Should our approach in cybersecurity be laser-focused, running the risk of potentially missing out on the more common vulnerabilities, or should we strive for a broader focus that sweeps across a wider landscape while acknowledging the risk of missing the devil in the details hidden deep in the data?

The crux of our discussion lies in finding a balance between two strategic defense paradigms, Precision and Area Defense, concepts we borrow from the Bomber Mafia's tactics during World War II. Malcolm Gladwell’s eponymous book on the subject provides us with a historical backdrop, portraying the dramatic division between precision bombing and area bombing. It is here that we refer to the pragmatism of figures such as General Curtis LeMay, whose bombing strategy resonates in today's AI-driven cyber threat landscape.

This embodies the use of targeted, AI-powered tools to identify, understand, and neutralize specific threats—the cyber analogy of the strategic bombing approach of the Bomber Mafia.

Hope, fear, and AI


AI is about to change the world — the problem is, no one's quite sure how. Some look at the past year’s rapid progress and see opportunities to remove creative constraints, automate rote work, and discover new ways to learn and teach. Others see how this tech can disrupt our lives in more damaging ways: how it can generate misinformation, destroy or diminish jobs, and, if left unchecked, pose a serious threat to our safety.

Tech leaders, lawmakers, and researchers have all been weighing in on how we should handle this emerging tech. Some industry figures, like OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, want AI giants to steer regulation, shifting the focus to perceived future threats, including the “risk of extinction.” Others, like EU politicians, are more concerned with current dangers and banning dangerous use cases (while holding back positive applications, say skeptics). Meanwhile, many small artists would just like a guarantee that they won’t be replaced by machines.

To find out what people really think about AI and what they want from it, The Verge teamed up with Vox Media’s Insights and Research team and the research consultancy firm The Circus to poll more than 2,000 US adults on their thoughts, feelings, and fears about AI. The results tell the story of an emerging, uncertain, and exciting technology — where many have yet to use it, many are fearful of its potential, and many still have great hopes for what it could someday do for them.

Lockheed Martin wins contract for Army’s long-range electronic warfare program


Rendering of the Terrestrial Layer System, the Army’s next-generation tactical vehicle based system that delivers an integrated suite of signals intelligence, electronic warfare, and cyberspace operations capabilities. (Photo by John Higgins)

Lockheed Martin has won the second phase of the Army’s long-range electronic warfare program.

The contract is for Phase 2 of the Terrestrial Layer System-Echelons Above Brigade, a capability that will be designed for higher echelons — primarily division and corps — that will need to monitor and sense the battlefield across greater distances than lower, more tactically focused echelons. It will be used by the Army’s Multi-Domain Task Force.

The technology comes as advanced adversaries are forcing the Army to operate at greater distances, and therefore, the service needs to be able to sense farther and at higher echelons.

The other transaction authority agreement totals $36.7 million for a 21-month period of performance, the Army announced Tuesday.

Lockheed Martin, in a release, said that in the coming months, it will build a prototype system at its Syracuse, New York facility.

The Army last year awarded Lockheed and General Dynamics an initial contract to develop designs for the system during an 11-month competition period.

The Army had recently altered its approach to TLS-EAB, recognizing that a one-size-fits-all model might not be suitable. For example, a platform in Europe might not be the right tool for the operating environment in Asia.