10 July 2023

U.S. Looks to Restrict China’s Access to Cloud Computing to Protect Advanced Technology

Yuka Hayashi

WASHINGTON—The Biden administration is preparing to restrict Chinese companies’ access to U.S. cloud-computing services, according to people familiar with the situation, in a move that could further strain relations between the world’s economic superpowers.

The new rule, if adopted, would likely require U.S. cloud-service providers such as Amazon.com AMZN 1.11%increase; green up pointing triangle and Microsoft MSFT -1.19%decrease; red down pointing triangle to seek U.S. government permission before they provide cloud-computing services that use advanced artificial-intelligence chips to Chinese customers, the people said.

The Biden administration’s move on cloud services comes as China said Monday it would impose export restrictions on metals used in advanced chip manufacturing.

This high-stakes conflict over supply-chain access to the world’s most advanced technology is escalating in the days ahead of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to China, a trip the Biden administration hopes will ease tensions. Yellen’s talks in Beijing are expected to touch on macroeconomic conditions in each country, as well as climate change and debt in the developing world.

The U.S.’s proposed cloud restrictions are seen as a means to close a significant loophole. National-security analysts have warned that Chinese AI companies might have bypassed the current export controls rules by using cloud services.

These services allow customers to gain powerful computing capabilities without purchasing advanced equipment—including chips—on the control list, such as the A100 chips by American technology company Nvidia NVDA 0.95%increase; green up pointing triangle.

“If any Chinese company wanted access to Nvidia A100, they could do that from any cloud service provider. That’s totally legal,” said Emily Weinstein, a research fellow at Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

The Commerce Department is expected to unveil the action within the coming weeks as part of an expansion of its semiconductor export control policy implemented in October, the people said.

China’s Commercial Space Ventures Pose A Variety of Threats, DOD Officials Say


China has ramped up its space mission, with plans to surpass 70 launches—commercial and military—this year. And while the Pentagon has been vocal about the clear military threat China’s rocket program poses to U.S. satellites, officials say China’s growing commercial space activity also poses a threat.

“There's been a long debate about state-owned enterprises, and really the viability of a separate commercial sector given the laws that are in place in the PRC, and the necessity to maintain a relationship and frankly, exposure to the PRC leadership in particular, on what's going on and those commercial enterprises,” said Maj. Gen. David Miller, the Space Force’s director of operations.

The U.S. must presume a Chinese satellite is a threat regardless of whether it is commercial or military, he said. The most obvious concerns are the potential threats posed by satellite weapons in space, and by Chinese launch technology to destroy U.S. satellites. Less obvious, but still concerning, are China and Russia’s future market shares in space-based services like satellite communications, position navigation and timing, and space-based images.

Consider the role unclassified commercial space imagery played in preparing the world for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Firms like Maxar and Planet Labs provided open-source information that shaped public opinion, allowing for the swift passage of sanctions packages that have undermined Russia’s war effort.

China is also getting into the Earth-imaging business, as evidenced by a new launch in December. Given Chinese abilities in generative adversarial networks and other AI tools that lend themselves to image manipulation, does that pose an information warfare threat, given how important satellite images have become to public understanding of geopolitical crises?

That’s “something that we not just think about, but we look at—and it's not just Russia, China,” John Huth, defense intelligence officer for space and counterspace at the Defense Intelligence Agency told Defense One in an interview at DIA’s headquarters in June.

Hypersonic War: Chinese YJ-21 vs. US HALO .. Both China & US Fast-Track Air-Launched Hypersonics

Kris Osborn

The Navy is fast-tracking prototypes of a first-of-its-kind air-launched hypersonic weapon able to destroy enemy ships from F-35Cs and F/A-18s, an effort which may quickly close the gap with China's development of similar weapons.

The weapon, called Hypersonic Air-Launched Offensive, appears to be showing promise for the next phase of development as the Navy analyzes initial prototype submissions. The Navy is likely fast-tracking the weapon to ensure it does not fall behind or operate with a hypersonic weapons "gap" with China in the Pacific given Chinese claims about air-launched hypersonic weapons.

A recent essay in the Chinese-government-backed Global Times says its H6K bomber is capable of being armed with an air fired hypersonic weapon called the YJ-21. While this weapon has been fired from PLA-Navy ships in tests in recent years, it has not previously been cited as existing in an air-launched variant. The Chinese paper cites an YJ-21 air-launched variant for what appears to be the first time in the context of "encircling" Taiwan with the H6K bomber.

“The H-6K bomber is capable of carrying a wide variety of munitions including the KD-20 land attack missile, the YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missile and the YJ-21 hypersonic missile,” the Global Times reports.

The race for operational air-launched hypersonic weapons is extremely critical as their existence could well provide an unparalleled advantage in the realm of maritime warfare. Part of why the US Navy is likely fast-tracking its HALO as it does not want to operate with a "deficit" when it comes to hypersonic weapons. Should China have even a short-term window through which they believe to have air-launched hypersonic weapons superiority, they could well seek to exploit the deficit before it closes with surprise hypersonic attacks on Taiwan or allied ships performing security missions in the area.

The HALO is likely becoming increasingly critical given that the Air Force has "paused" the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic missile. Could the US fall behind China with the ability to attack from the air with hypersonic projectiles?

Tennis has a Russia problem


Ukrainian players have a message for world tennis: You cannot be serious.

Just as the world’s top stars are battling their way through the first week of Wimbledon, tennis is grappling with how to handle all the Russian players near the top of the game. Ukraine’s players, for their part, reckon the sport is failing them.

There is staunch locker room support among some Russian players for President Vladimir Putin’s brutal war on Ukraine, as well as links between a top Russian star and a company which finances the Kremlin’s aggression — and even a family connection between a Russian Olympic tennis gold medalist and a tournament in honor of a Wagner Group mercenary fighter.

The war has triggered fervent, heated discussion between Russian players behind closed doors in the men’s locker room.

At a tournament in Belgrade in April 2022, Russian player Karen Khachanov — currently the men’s world No. 11 — rounded on compatriot Andrey Rublev, who had professed some desire to see peace between his country and Ukraine, and had written “No War Please” on a TV camera lens in February, just as Putin sent his forces toward Kyiv.

Khachanov, according to one locker room figure familiar with the row, argued that talks should not be conducted from a position of strength with the weaker side. Russia, he yelled, should demonstrate its power through the conflict on Ukraine and show its greatness to the world.

When asked about the confrontation by this journalist, Khachanov took the tried and tested line beloved of sportspeople who’ve found themselves in an awkward political spot. “It was our private conversation. I am an athlete, not a politician,” he said.

The previously unreported contretemps exposes some of the depth of support among some top Russian tennis stars for Putin’s onslaught against Ukraine, which has razed cities, caused thousands of civilian casualties and resulted in war crimes.

Ukraine gained advantage in war against Putin with custom-built AI: 'unprecedented testing ground'

Peter Aitken

Fox News senior foreign affairs correspondent Greg Palkot reports from Ukraine, where there were 'dueling drones' overnight with Russia.

Ukraine has developed and implemented its own artificial intelligence (AI) platforms under the most stringent conditions to create something beyond what Western militaries have considered possible.

"The Ukrainians are doing a ton of stuff," Brett Velicovich, a Fox News contributor embedded in Ukraine, told Fox News Digital. "I mean, this innovation on the battlefield is out of this world right now. And, honestly, the U.S. government, Western governments, have no idea the innovation that's taking place.

"They can't keep up with it," he added. "The Ukrainians are moving too fast."

AI has quietly played a significant role in how Ukraine has managed to perform so well against a larger and seemingly stronger opponent in Russia, providing the smaller nation a wide range of advantages it might not otherwise have.

Crashed Storm Shadow Missile Falls Into Russian Hands (Updated)


AStorm Shadow air-launched cruise missile that was donated by the United Kingdom to Ukraine has reportedly fallen into Russian hands in a partially intact state.

The missiles, which are launched from Su-24 Fencers using adapted pylons from now-retired RAF Tornado strike jets, are the longest-range weapon provided to Ukraine and have been used in the fight against Russia's invasion since early May.

The images out of the conflict zone show a Storm shadow that either mechanically failed or was brought down by enemy fire in a field, with its rear fuselage nearly fully intact. Its BROACH penetrating tandem warhead and other components can be seen laying nearby, too. We don't know if this is the first time this has happened, or if this is the most complete example, but it is the first that has been publicly documented.

The technological risk of a Storm Shadow falling into Russian hands is well known and certainly factored heavily into the United Kingdom's decision to provide them to Ukraine. The type's use in Syria has already set a precedent, but that theater is quite different compared to Ukraine. There is no access into Russian controlled terrain or airspace in Ukraine.

The Storm Shadows are being used to strike high-value targets deep inside Russian-controlled territory that is heavily defended. Losing some due to enemy fire and malfunction is a certainty. We have even seen indications that other high-end capabilities have been employed to help ensure the survival of these prized weapons as they make their way to their targets.

War in Ukraine is already horrific. The U.S. is set to make it worse.

Hayes Brown

The U.S. has been providing a steady flow of arms and other military support to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022. But the U.S. is expected to announce Friday that it will, for the first time, send cluster munitions to Kyiv. Sending such weapons will not only undercut much of the moral high ground the West has taken in the conflict, but it will also threaten the safety of Ukrainian civilians. Those costs would make any victory against dug-in Russian forces a pyrrhic one.

Created during World War II, cluster munitions essentially break apart into many smaller bombs — also known as submunitions, or “bomblets” — in flight. That signature trait, and the fact that Kyiv is requesting the kind that can be used with howitzers or other ground-based rocket launchers, makes them particularly useful in Ukraine. A former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe told The Economist that “cluster munitions could suppress Russian fire from trenches and artillery, giving Ukraine more time to clear a path through minefields.”

The very thing that makes cluster munitions so effective makes them a long-term threat where they’re used.

But the very thing that makes cluster munitions so effective makes them a long-term threat where they’re used. American arms makers are required to ensure that fewer than 1% of their bomblets remain unexploded before hitting the ground. But those that do remain can function essentially as land mines, injuring or killing civilians who encounter them.

CNN reported in December that the U.S. was weighing a request from Ukraine to provide cluster munitions. It was only in recent weeks that the Pentagon began to hint that a decision was coming, including in testimony before Congress last month.

But even though the U.S. hasn’t yet provided such weapons to Ukraine, Ukraine has still been using them. Kyiv and Moscow had substantial stockpiles of them at the beginning of the war, and Russia in particular has been using them heavily, shrinking its supply and killing hundreds (if not more) in the process. Cluster Munitions Coalitions, a disarmament group devoted to monitoring the use of these weapons, estimated in August that cluster munitions had already killed almost 700 people in Ukraine.

US military calls for better weapons to fight artificial intelligence

Hope Hodge Seck

WASHINGTON — After years of catching grief for exquisite weapons acquisition programs with creeping requirements leading to lengthy delays and budget overruns, the Pentagon now finds itself with a different sort of headache: how to stop weapons and systems that are dirt cheap.

The growing problem of inexpensive unmanned systems employing autonomy and artificial intelligence has been a longtime subject of military study and discussion.

But the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has underscored just how effective smart tech accessible to anyone may be in neutralizing the elaborate tools of conventional warfare. In one example from the war, Ukraine reportedly used a Chinese-made DJI drone worth $2,000 to destroy a Russian T-90 tank worth millions of dollars.

Drawing on a newfound urgency, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for research and engineering published a need statement in May, calling on industry to help develop new weapons that can effectively meet the new threat from unmanned, autonomous and AI defense-driven systems.

“Multi- and cross-domain Uncrewed Systems (UxS) continue to be a threat to U.S. forces around the world. This threat is expanding in all domestic and international regions,” the need statement begins, citing the directive in the 2022 National Defense Strategy to stay ahead of the problem. “This threat is no longer just in the aerial domain, but also from ground, subterranean, sea, and undersea domains. Near-peer adversary nations are rapidly incorporating robust UxS capabilities into their military formations, and non-state actors are using UxS to increase their asymmetric advantage.”

While aerial drones have had the most opportunities to make a mark on the battlefield, both in Ukraine and the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the South Caucasus, undersea systems may not be far behind.

The High Price of Dollar Dominance

Michael Pettis

At an April summit of the so-called BRICS—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva demanded to know why the world continues to base nearly all its trade on the U.S. dollar. To thunderous applause, he asked, “Why can’t we do trade based on our own currencies? Who was it that decided that the dollar was the currency after the disappearance of the gold standard?”

How America Broke Its War Machine

Michael Brenes

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the United States pledged its “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.” This support has materialized in over $75 billion in security assistance to date, with the United States committed to aiding Ukraine until the fighting stops. As U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in announcing a new installment of weapons to Ukraine: “The United States and our allies and partners will stand united with Ukraine, for as long as it takes.”

Coalition Kill Chain for the Pacific: Lessons from Ukraine

Majors Dylan Buck and Steven Stansbury

Russia’s war in Ukraine offers a critical case study on why—and how—to build a more robust kill chain that leverages partners’ and allies’ capabilities. A more expansive satellite communications (SATCOM) network that enables a real-time integrated common operational picture (COP) will be necessary to generate the relative combat power advantage over the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Russia initiated combat operations in Ukraine with cyberattacks on SATCOM to disrupt Ukraine’s kill chain—the methodology for finding, fixing, targeting, tracking, engaging, and assessing (F2T2EA) an adversarial objective. The United States, alongside partners, allies, and industry, was able to blunt Russia’s invasion by reconstructing Ukraine’s SATCOM network and sharing critical intelligence. However, the kill chain architecture leveraged against Russia does not exist in the first island chain of the western Pacific.

The 2022 National Defense Strategy identified China as “the most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security,” with integrated deterrence as the primary means for responding. It also stated that “greater intelligence and information sharing, and combined planning for shared deterrence challenges” are vital to effectively implement the strategy for integrated deterrence. To achieve the capability required to deter the PLA, the Department of Defense (DOD) must further develop SATCOM architecture in the first island chain and expand partners and allies’ access to the COP to build a coalition kill chain that can mass fires.

Expand SATCOM and the COP

As the battlefield becomes more expansive across domains, it will inherently become more dependent on SATCOM to enable combatants to close kill chains. A valuable lesson observed from Russia’s invasion is that the joint force can enhance its kill chain by proliferating and diversifying SATCOM infrastructure and expanding access to intelligence. To do this, the United States had to create more permissive policy for intelligence sharing for more effective targeting. Furthermore, kill chains in the Pacific are more dependent on SATCOM as submarine internet cables are more vulnerable and likely already compromised by China.

Ukraine's attacks on Russian commanders have the US Army worried about its own 'fat and ponderous' command posts


US Army soldiers in a tactical command post during an exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in February 2015.US Army/Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Crisp
Ukraine's military has been using its long-range weapons to attack Russian command posts.
Such attacks have affected Russian command and control, disrupting its troops' ability to operate.

Ukraine's success in destroying Russian command posts has raised a troubling question for the US military: If Ukraine can do this to Russian headquarters, can other militaries, especially China's, do it to American HQs?

Command posts are battlefield nodes for commanders, intelligence and communications specialists, and other troops who oversee military operations. They are usually packed with electronic equipment and are hubs for vehicle traffic, giving them a distinct electronic and physical footprint.

In recent wars, facing diminished threats from the air and long-range weapons, US Army command posts have gotten larger, with more people and more emissions, and can easily be spotted and struck by the sensors and precision weapons now crowding the battlefield.

"Our command posts have mutated away from the lean, mean, killing machines we need and are instead fat and ponderous," three American officers said in an essay in Military Review, the Army's professional journal.
A command post set up at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in California during a training exercise.US Army/Col. Scott Woodward

The Ukraine war illustrates that the most vulnerable part of an army is its brain. Disrupt its command and control, and even the strongest unit becomes almost helpless.

Hypersonic Missiles: Threat and Deterrence?

Yehoshua Kalisky

The importance of hypersonic missiles has led the superpowers to invest considerable sums in order to achieve a strategic advantage. The article surveys different types of maneuvering hypersonic missiles, the geostrategic significance of these missiles in the battlefield, and possible means of defense by Israel against them

The operational use of maneuvering hypersonic missiles by Russia in the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the threat inherent in such weapons. Maneuvering hypersonic missiles travel on an aerodynamic trajectory at a speed that is 5-10 times the speed of sound (Mach 5-10), and have excellent navigation and maneuvering capabilities that make it difficult to detect and track their trajectory, and consequently to intercept them. Such missiles can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads, and have the ability to strike moving targets precisely, such as aircraft carriers. This article surveys the various kinds of maneuvering hypersonic missiles and the leading countries developing them. In addition, it discusses the geostrategic implications of hypersonic missiles on the battlefield and possible ways of defending against them.

What is a maneuvering hypersonic missile, and why the deep concern about its potential use? This is a missile equipped with a powerful engine that can reach speeds of 5-6 times the speed of sound. There is speculation that the Russians have overcome the problems inherent in alleviating the heat from the missile's shell while in flight, the endurance of the engine's components to high temperatures and pressures, and control and navigation problems, and have succeeded in developing a hypersonic missile that travels at a speed of Mach 10. In addition to speed, a hypersonic missile has a long range and cruise and control capabilities (controlled flight): unlike a ballistic missile, whose ability to maneuver to a target is limited as it travels on a predetermined ballistic trajectory, a hypersonic missile can maneuver in flight and can navigate precisely until hitting its target. This is in contrast with various kinds of ballistic missiles that reach hypersonic speeds when traveling toward the target on a ballistic trajectory but lack maneuverability. Moreover, a hypersonic missile can carry a nuclear warhead.
Types of Maneuvering Hypersonic Missiles

There are two types of maneuvering hypersonic missiles:

Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner Group: The Roots of the Phenomenon and its Effects on Russia following the June 23, 2023 Mutiny

The mercenaries led by businessman and former underworld figure Yevgeny Prigozhin surprised the world with their mutiny and their threats to reach Moscow in an armed column. Who is Prigozhin, whose name is now familiar to all of us? How will this historic event affect the stability of the Russian establishment? And at this point, should Jerusalem look differently at its relations with Moscow?

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Russian mercenaries, known as the Wagner Group, while comprising a relatively small part of the Russian forces in general, played an important role in Russia’s war against Ukraine, not only thanks to their military skills, but also due to Prigozhin’s political and media capabilities. Indeed, they have influenced the battlefield and the situation within Russia. On June 23, 2023, increasing friction between Prigozhin, who emerged during the war as an independent anti-establishment political player (he has no formal position in the establishment), and the Russian military establishment, led to an armed uprising against the military-security leadership, unprecedented in modern Russian history. The rebels took control of a provincial capital as an armed column advanced on Moscow. Although one day later the sides reached agreement and Prigozhin left Russia, the cries of support he received from soldiers and civilians are evidence of a deep change in the structure and balance of forces within Russian society, and between it and the various elites. The Russian establishment no longer looks as stable as was generally thought – and perhaps Israel should take these changes into account in its relations with the Putin regime.

The Wagner Private Military Company, also known as the Wagner Group, has been active for many years, unofficially promoting Russia’s political interests as well as the economic interests of its owner – businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former underworld figure. The Group is well known to anyone who follows the war in Syria, where it has worked in coordination with the Russian forces and the Assad regime forces since 2015. In 2022 the Group returned to the headlines due to its prominent involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war, particularly in the battles for the city of Bakhmut – part of the frontline where the most intense battles took place until the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Bakhmut was finally captured in late May 2023 by Wagner troops after almost a year of fighting. Subsequently, most of the Group moved to camps away from the front, and the Ministry of Defense asked it to regulate its status and sign an official contract. On June 23, 2023, the Group, led by Prigozhin, tried to stage a mutiny against the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff, while many (but not all) Russian forces refrained from opposing Group forces as they sped toward Moscow. Now, after Prigozhin’s agreement to stop the advance and disband the revolt, the Group’s future as an independent entity seems unclear.

Ukraine and Lessons for Future Military Leaders


Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, there have been a multitude of documents that provide initial observations about the war. While these reports are too numerous to list here, some of the best compilation of lessons include the reports from the Royal United Services Institution, a recent report from T.X. Hammes, and this week, an excellent series of articles in The Economist by defence correspondent, Shashank Joshi.

Mostly, the observations produced so far have fallen into one (or more) of three categories.

First, there are the observations about equipment. This includes the multitude of different combat and support equipment, as well as munitions and other materiel used to underpin combat operations and the defence of military forces and civilian infrastructure.

Second, there are observations about ideas – the tactics and strategies used by either side. This has included observations about poor integration of combat arms, particularly by the Russians, as well as Ukrainian tactics to defeat the Russians north of Kyiv. More recently, observations have been made about Russian Z Storm Units and evolved tactics for the use of drones, Wagner human wave tactics, the employment of artillery and drones to close the detection to destruction gap and the evolving integration of the Ukrainian air defence network.

Third, there are observations about organisations. Early in the war, many observations were made about the utility of the Russian battalion tactical groups. Since then, other observations have been made about Ukrainian drone attack companies and Russian private military companies. Michael Kofman and Rob Lee have also written about the larger force design of the Russian military.

All three of these topics provide useful insights. But in many cases, these observations are too early to describe as lessons. This is because many institutions are still assessing which observations from Ukraine are relevant to only this war, and which ones might have much broader utility. The United States Army has good definitions for what a lesson is. A lesson is “knowledge or understanding gained by experience. Successes and failures are both considered sources of lessons.” Further, a lesson learned is “when you can measure a change in behavior.”

Analyst sheds light on Ukraine and challenges in OSINT

George Allison

The recent episode of the OSINT Bunker Podcast revealed key insights about the current state of the Ukraine war and the future of open-source intelligence (OSINT).

In their latest episode, the panel discuss the Russian Wagner PMC march towards Moscow and the possible fall-out of that incident, the ongoing fighting in Ukraine and the Oryx Team’s OSINT work tracking equipment losses on both sides in the conflict.

The panel includes @DefenceGeek, @geoallison and @AnAustinThing2 with a guest appearance from Jakub Janovsky of the Oryx Project (@Rebel44CZ)

In this podcast episode, Jakub Janovsky, a member of the Oryx project, joins the hosts to discuss the conflict in Ukraine.

The Oryx project, which Jakub mentions is “planning to document Ukrainian and Russian losses until the end of the war,” and that they “don’t intend to continue the Oryx blog,” due to the workload and “the reality of burnout,” is a massive open-source intelligence (OSINT) effort that analyzed military equipment losses during conflicts, with a focus on the Ukraine war.

Jakub gives insights into the situation on the ground in Ukraine, highlighting that “Ukraine has a chance to break the stalemate, but it will be slow and bloody.” He believes it’s unlikely that all occupied Ukrainian territory will be liberated by force in the near term, with progress dependent on “how much further support the West is willing to provide.”

Jakub and the hosts discuss an interesting new trend they’ve observed: older, less effective military equipment being converted into vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs).

Jakub notes, “We’ve seen a lot of T-55 tanks, very old Soviet equipment, being converted into VBIEDs.” This trend may reflect “the condition of these vehicles and lack of immediate prospects for repair,” or the simple fact that repairing or maintaining old equipment can be logistically challenging, particularly for equipment like the Soviet-era T-55 tanks, which were last manufactured in the 1970s.

Ex-US Diplomats in Secret Russia Peace Talks: Reports

Several former U.S. officials have been holding secret talks with Russians who are close to the Kremlin — including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — to prepare for possible negotiations to end the war in Ukraine, NBC News reported Thursday.

The former officials include Richard Haass, a former director of policy planning at the State Department and outgoing president of the Council on Foreign Relations; Europe expert Charles Kupchan, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama; Mary Beth Long, a former U.S. assistant defense secretary; and Thomas Graham, a former Russia director on the National Security Council.

Kupchan and Graham are fellows at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Lavrov met with members of the group for several hours in April in New York, NBC said, citing four former U.S. officials and two current officials.

The Biden administration was aware of the talks but did not direct them, NBC reported. The former officials who spoke with Lavrov briefed the National Security Council afterward.

Russian government spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denied the NBC's report, state newswire RIA Novosti said, describing it as "misinformation."

In addition to Lavrov, the talks have included Russian academics, foreign policy experts, and other seen as close to President Vladimir Putin or other Kremlin decision-makers, the sources told NBC.

These participants weren't named to protect their safety.

A member of the American group made at least one trip to Russia, the report said.

A spokesman for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy declined to comment on the report, but told NBC that only Ukraine would set the terms for a peace deal.

Climate Security is National Security


The military mission was traditional, straight-forward, right from the manual: Navy warships would ferry some 1,200 Marines to the western Pacific, where the force would assault a hostile island. ­­As the ships advanced, Navy meteorologists tracked a gathering storm—at a safe distance, they judged. But by the time the winds reached catastrophic typhoon level, it had changed course, and the super storm slammed into the Navy and Marine forces at sea. Giant troughs scattered the warships from their formation. Howling winds made air operations and air rescue impossible. Communications were shredded.

The cascading effects of the extreme storm only grew worse, since years of climate change meant that local islands and the local populations, still recovering from previous mudslides, power failures, and broad infrastructure disruptions brought by other typhoons, could offer no safe port in this storm.

This “mission” occurred seven years from now, in October 2030, as played out in the first-ever war game conducted by the Navy and Marine Corps to assess the challenge that climate change is presenting to the military’s ability to carry out its mission. The table-top exercise, held in June 2022, garnered scant public attention, but it sounded a clarion across the maritime services.

The military does not have the luxury of debating climate change, a reality now adding a powerful, destabilizing force to fragile, unstable areas of the world. Once-in-a-century ocean storms happen several times each season. Drought prompts food shortages, civil unrest, mass migration. Island nations that once served as safe ports could vanish under rising seas. All of these complicate the Defense Department’s efforts to combat global instability, even as it has to admit that the American armed services are the world’s largest consumers of fossil fuels.

The enemy gets a vote, says a military axiom, and climate change is a new enemy.

A deterrence response monitoring capability for the US Department of Defense

Melanie W. Sisson, Dan Patt

Deterring the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from initiating war is a necessary but not sufficient condition for preventing war. The Department of Defense must also be prepared to respond safely and effectively to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) operations that threaten local and regional U.S. interests and that erode the standards and expectations of behavior that reflect and perpetuate U.S. leadership throughout the Western Pacific and beyond.

Such a response will require deploying increasingly sensitive and comprehensive indications and warnings (I&W) chains. The United States must also design strategies of deterrence that have both a high likelihood of successfully conveying U.S. intent, and a low likelihood of miscommunication, confusion, and unintended escalation. Combining a suite of readily available and rapidly advancing commercial technologies into a deterrence response monitoring (DRM) capability can help achieve both goals. Developing such a capability not only is technologically feasible and affordable, it also is compatible with the Department of Defense’s evolving technology bureaucracy.


The enormity of the consequences of war between the United States and China means that the primary objective of the Department of Defense (DoD) must be to minimize the likelihood that war will happen. It is reasonable to assume that the PRC shares that objective, for the same reason. This means that if war does occur, it almost certainly will be the result of miscommunication, misperception, miscalculation, or accident. The value of emerging technologies to the Department of Defense, therefore, will not be realized through their contributions to the conduct of war, but rather through their central role in preventing it.

The likelihood of a surprise nuclear or high-end conventional attack is low. The U.S. nuclear arsenal and its conventional forces are robust and ready deterrents, and the interagency has well-established mechanisms for recognizing and responding to any large-scale use of force. Deterring the PRC from initiating war, however, is not enough to prevent war entirely. Preventing a U.S.-PRC war also requires reducing the likelihood that any one conflict of interest will devolve into an escalatory action-reaction crisis, fueled by misunderstanding and fear. The DoD must therefore be prepared to respond safely and effectively to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) operations that threaten local and regional U.S. interests, and that erode the standards and expectations of behavior that reflect and perpetuate U.S. leadership throughout the Western Pacific and beyond.

‘Dig, Dig, Dig’: A Russian Soldier’s Story

Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Natalia Yermak

The Russian soldier was captured only days after arriving on the front line in eastern Ukraine. He had little training. But he knew how to disassemble and fire his rifle and where to put a tourniquet.

The soldier, who went by the call sign Merk, was lured into the hands of Ukrainian soldiers near Bakhmut last month when he heard cries for help from a comrade, he said.

With permission from his Ukrainian captors, Merk, 45, agreed to an interview by New York Times journalists just hours after his capture. A Ukrainian soldier sat in the next room during the interview.

Over the course of an hour, the prisoner provided a rare account of the invasion of Ukraine from a Russian perspective, a viewpoint that rarely emerges in Western news media and that the Kremlin tries to define for the world in its effort to sway public opinion.

We met Merk on a bloodstained floor in an otherwise tidy and well-lit basement in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk. He was mostly uninjured, and his eyes were covered by tape and gauze. His hands were bound. The restraints were removed by his captor upon our arrival.

The State of the WarMilitary Aid: Breaking with several of its closest allies, the Biden administration said it would provide Ukraine with cluster munitions, which are known to cause grievous injuries to civilians and are widely banned.

Fund-Raising Effort: Donations have been critical for supplying Ukraine’s military. But as contributions lag, some soldiers are turning to unconventional means, including viral videos and painting sales, to raise money.

The Wagner Mystery: After Yevgeny Prigozhin staged a brief insurrection in Russia, President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus said that his country had taken him in. A few days later, the Belarusian leader and reports in the Russian media suggested otherwise.

Inside Ukraine's tech push to counter Russian 'suicide' drone threat

Tom Balmforth

KYIV, July 5 (Reuters) - In a basement in downtown Kyiv late last month, away from prying eyes, hundreds of engineers and innovators met senior military officials to brainstorm ways to better neutralise the cheap Russian suicide drones that still devastate Ukrainian cities.

It was a rare, close-up glimpse into Ukraine's technology arms race with Russia that draws on private sector innovation seeded with state venture capital, and which is pumping out thousands of combat drones in a booming wartime industry.

"The war today is technological, with changes in technology and on the battlefield happening every day," Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's deputy prime minister and minister for digital transformations, said on the sidelines of the gathering.

Reuters was the only media outfit invited to the event, where high-ranking army officials and ministers mingled with engineers and eccentric enthusiasts. One man arrived in shorts and a baseball cap with a large drone under his arm.

Organisers distributed $3 million in prize money among three teams of experts deemed to have presented the best drones or electronic warfare technology against Russia's "Shahed", drones of Iranian origin which cruise in swarms to their targets and detonate on impact.

In May, Russia attacked Ukraine with a record monthly total of more than 300 drones, official data shows, a challenge for planners anxious to protect energy supplies this winter. Last winter Russia tried to cripple the power grid with air strikes.

"We want to prepare for the... next winter to respond to these challenges," Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said.

The Iranian drones fly so low that they can avoid detection by air defences, while their navigation systems are robust enough to make it hard to take them down with anti-drone electronic warfare weapons that disrupt radio frequencies.

Russia Warns Ukraine Plans to Draw U.S. Into 'World War III' After Setbacks


In comments shared with Newsweek, Russia's ambassador to the United States dismissed media reports suggesting that Moscow was planning a false-flag provocation at Europe's largest nuclear power plant, located in Ukraine, and alleged that Kyiv was using the narrative to draw NATO into a devastating conflict.

With Ukrainian officials expressing frustration over the pace of the country's counteroffensive against Russian forces, Ambassador Anatoly Antonov appealed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's international supporters to prevent an escalation.

"We call on the curators of the Kiev regime to exercise responsibility and exert influence on their 'wards' in order to avoid a large-scale catastrophe," Antonov told Newsweek. "Western ruling elites should understand that the failures on the battlefield make Kiev eager to create a pretext for the deployment of the NATO contingent to Ukraine, thereby to inflate a regional conflict into World War III."

"American and European citizens are hardly ready to march in orderly rows to the hell, into which the Zelensky government is dragging the entire planet," he added.

Antonov's comments came as Russian and Ukrainian officials accused one another of plotting to stage an attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP). Zelensky himself alleged in a public address Tuesday that objects resembling explosives were detected on the roof of the site, "perhaps to simulate an attack on the plant."

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has inspectors on-site, said Wednesday that no such explosives have been observed at the facility. IAEA Director Rafael Grossi also said the U.N. atomic watchdog's experts have requested additional access to parts of the nuclear plant.

Reached for comment, the Ukrainian Embassy to the United States referred Newsweek to Zelensky's interview with CNN broadcast Wednesday in which he asserted that he had possession of "documents" that proved Russian personnel had planted mines and were "technically ready" to conduct an attack on the plant. The Ukrainian leader said that the IAEA team did not have sufficient personnel to detect the suspected devices, which he alleged could be detonated remotely.

Emerging technologies don’t just solve big problems – they reshape possibility

Jeremy Jurgens

The World Economic Forum's 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions convenes in Tianjin, China, from 27–29 June 2023.

The meeting comes as artificial intelligence and its impact on the global economy dominate headlines.

The public and private sector must continue to come together to scale the distribution of advancing technologies to benefit more people.

The last time the World Economic Forum held its “Summer-Davos” in Tianjin, China, in 2018, experts predicted artificial intelligence (AI) would be a technology to transform our world. Today, we are seeing the effects of accessible AI on our economies and societies. With OpenAI or LangBoat, the power of AI has become accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

AI and its impact on jobs, the economy and international relations is dominating headlines around the globe. It’s no surprise to find generative AI spotlighted in the Top 10 Emerging Technologies 2023 report, released 26 June. But beyond flashy headlines is the daily, cumulative process of designing, developing, implementing, and scaling technologies to solve many small problems with the potential to add up to big impact.

This year’s meeting, back in Tianjin, celebrates incremental, sometimes quiet, often technical advances – as well as the necessary failures – along the pathway of innovation. From specially designed plant sensors that can increase food security to sustainable aviation fuel that can help decarbonize the aviation industry, these technologies show the power of big ideas to not only tackle giant issues but slowly unlock progress.

Consider the potential of technology to increase global food production by 70% to feed the growing world’s population in 2050.

The Challenge of Defending Underwater Communication Infrastructures

Israel is connected to the world through a single-digit number of underwater cables, providing the main communication channel with the world for all civil and defense-related information. How should this critical infrastructure be defended?

Underwater infrastructures are a rapidly evolving domain – worldwide, as well as in Israel. This developing phenomenon stems from the need to define and address the emergence of potential threats and disruptions endangering worldwide communication infrastructure. Such infrastructure can be differentiated by the depth of its deployment, and thus the investment in force buildup differs accordingly. Shallow water defense, up to 50 meters, draws most of the attention, while deeper deployed assets should be dealt with by intelligence and alert, prevention, and deterrence, damage containment, reconstruction, if necessary, and redundancy. At the same time, intelligence and technological efforts are required to cope with the accelerated development of autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles in recent years. The world of underwater infrastructures in general, and underwater communication infrastructures in particular, is fertile ground for international cooperation, since these infrastructures are submerged in national and international territorial waters. The challenges evolving from the need to protect and maintain such infrastructures, along with the complexity and costs involved in developing the relevant capabilities, are shared by many states, especially those near the Mediterranean.

Underwater Communication Infrastructure

The vast majority of global communication is supported and provided by underwater cables. More than 95 percent of global communications (voice and data) pass through these cables, while the remaining 5 percent are satellite-based. More than 500,000 miles of underwater communication cables are positioned on the ocean floor providing communication for globalization networking. These cables are primarily fiber optic, with data rate roughly equal to 150 million simultaneous phone calls. Israel is connected to the world through a single-digit number of underwater cables, providing the main communication channel with the world for all civil and defense-related information.

China’s newest quantum computer Wukong is expected to launch in July: report

China's newest quantum computer Wukong is expected to launch in July, which is now in the final stage of debugging and adjustment by its developer Origin Quantum Computing Technology Co, according to media reports.

The construction of an intercity backbone network of quantum communication in the Yangtze River Delta region was proposed at a recent meeting held in Hefei, East China's Anhui Province from Monday to Tuesday, gathering major provincial and city leaders in the region,according to a report by the Shanghai Securities Journal.

The backbone network will have a total distance of about 2,860 kilometers, forming a ring network with Hefei and Shanghai as core nodes while linking cities in the region.

The network will also adapt self-developed quantum service operation support system and satellite scheduling system to protect the space-ground integrated quantum confidential communication network, which also marks the first of a space-ground integrated quantum network in the world with protection coverage of thousands of kilometers.

The first quantum super collaborative innovation in the Yangtze River Delta region was also established by the Shanghai Supercomputing Center and the Origin Quantum, while the soon-to-be released new quantum computer "Wukong" now is in the final stage for adjustment, per the report from the Shanghai Securities Journal.

A 176-qubit quantum computing platform named Zuchongzhi went online for global users on May 31, which is expected to push forward the development of quantum computing hardware and its ecosystem, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Original Quantum has developed quantum computers and delivered one to a user, per a statement sent to the Global Times by the Anhui Quantum Computing Engineering Research Center in January, marking China the third country in the world with the ability to deliver a complete quantum computer.

How AI is Reshaping the Battlefield


The world is in the midst of a technological revolution in warfighting driven by the widespread deployment of artificial intelligence. This revolution’s relentless advance is demonstrated daily in Ukraine where we see the power of a tech-savvy, creative, and adaptable population develop and speed a range of new technologies to the battlefield to turn back a brutal Russian military. Ukraine’s community of engineers have formed a software army able to tap into multiple data sources and digital platforms, ranging from commercial satellite imagery to smartphone apps used to track Russian movements, that are then combined with cutting-edge AI. Spurred by the existential threat posed by Russia’s invasion, the Ukrainian military is the first to operationalize algorithmic warfare at scale.

Data, advanced algorithms, computing power – these are the weapons that will determine the fight for information. And it’s a fight the U.S. must win. AI enables the ability to sense and see the battlefield, to rapidly respond to adversary moves, to get ahead of the adversary’s decision cycle, and enable faster decision-making and targeting. Ukraine has integrated AI into kill chains to spot hidden and camouflaged Russian vehicles and greatly accelerate the targeting cycle, which is critical when trying to strike mobile targets. In similar fashion, our ability to deter potential Chinese aggression against Taiwan requires that we demonstrate the ability to reach into a highly contested environment and locate, identify, and strike large numbers of mobile platforms – the aircraft and ships that would be part of a Chinese assault.
The Chinese Communist Party is obsessed with information in modern warfare and has unabashedly touted the military advantages of AI which it sees as central to moving from today’s “informationized” ways of warfighting to future “intelligentized” warfare.

For its part, the Chinese Communist Party is obsessed with information in modern warfare and has unabashedly touted the military advantages of AI which it sees as central to moving from today’s “informationized” ways of warfighting, to future “intelligentized” warfare. It is convinced that integrating AI into intelligent unmanned systems and in support of command decision-making will lead to disruptive battlefield advantages. It also intends to destroy an enemy’s information systems and decision-making processes which it views as the most important targets in information warfare. The PLA’s “Systems Destruction Warfare” concept aims to systematically target the linkages and nodes that connect an advanced networked force.

Offset-X: Now is the time for the Pentagon to change how it approaches technology


Staff Sgt. Wendell Myler, a cyber warfare operations journeyman, monitors live cyber attacks on the operations floor of the 27th Cyberspace Squadron, known as the Hunter’s Den, at Warfield Air National Guard Base, Middle River, Md., June 3, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

With the threat of China looming over everything the Pentagon does, the Special Competitive Studies Project (SCSP), a private foundation with ties to a number of well-known names in Washington defense circles, has launched a new report calling for changes in how the DoD interacts with technology. In the following op-ed, two of the authors of that report lay out the group’s findings.

It is time for the Pentagon to implement a new military-technological competitive strategy. The war in Ukraine has shown that the convergence of new technologies and operational concepts is creating new areas for competition and new opportunities to gain military advantage, threatening to make legacy approaches less relevant.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has prepared for decades to exploit these changes in a potential confrontation with the US military. After the First Gulf War, the PLA determined that the Pentagon relies on an efficient command and control (C2) system, networked sensors, and precision munitions to win what the PLA calls “informatized warfare.” These capabilities give America a military edge, but come at the cost of centralization, which introduces glaring vulnerabilities. As a result, the PLA went about developing a theory of victory called system destruction warfare, which centered around degrading and deconstructing US C2 systems through a combination of electromagnetic, cyber, and kinetic attacks.

The good news, however, is that the US has a history of reorganizing to overcome challenges by ambitious rivals. At the outset of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had far more conventional military power in Europe than the allies. In response, the United States developed the First Offset Strategy, which created systems and trained personnel to keep bomber aircraft in the air at all times, empowered junior officers to man nuclear silos, and developed capabilities to stand watch on land, at sea, and below its surface.