11 July 2023

The Taliban Are Now Arms Dealers

Lynne O’Donnell

The U.S. military retreated from Afghanistan two years ago, leaving behind weapons that are now turning up in far-flung trouble spots where terrorists are fighting and killing America’s allies. In markets that have sprung up across the southern and eastern badlands, where the hottest fighting of the war took place, merchants with Taliban permits are offering U.S.-made automatic assault rifles and handguns for sale alongside hardware from Russia, Pakistan, China, Turkey, and Austria. Business, like terrorism, is thriving.

What Americans Don’t Understand About the Conflict in Myanmar

Zaw Wai Soe

FILE – Anti-coup protesters gesture with a three-fingers salute, a symbol of resistance during a demonstration during by police crackdown in Thaketa township Yangon, Myanmar, Saturday, March 27, 2021.Credit: AP Photo, File

For the past few weeks, I have had the privilege of visiting the United States, touring across the country and meeting with many Americans including elected dignitaries, State Department officials, and representatives of aid organizations who are interested in and supportive of the democracy movement in Myanmar. But sadly, it came to my attention that some American friends are not fully aware of the current situation in Myanmar. Hopefully, this piece can clarify some of those misconceptions.

Firstly, what’s taking place in Myanmar is not a civil war as many in the West often mis-portray it. It is a revolution. I cringe each time the Western media uses the term “civil war.” This is not a situation where factions are waging war against each other for control of territory. This is unarmed civilians directly revolting against an illegal junta that took power through a coup.

My other concern is clarifying the status of the National Unity Government (NUG), formed in the wake of the coup, of which I am one of the ministers. The NUG is neither an exile nor a shadow government. It is an interim, legitimate government constituted of representatives from the last democratic election and other ethnic organizations. Granted, some of the cabinet members reside outside of Myanmar for their safety, but most of the ministers are still residing inside the country or in the border areas of neighboring countries where the military junta does not have control (luckily, the territory where NUG ministers reside and the areas controlled by our ethnic allies are gradually expanding).

Another important misconception is that the NUG is made up of ethnic Bamar members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party that held power during the last administration led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who has remained imprisoned since the coup. The reality is that 53 percent of NUG cabinet members are non-Bamar ethnics, and only 38 percent are NLD members. The NUG’s objective is to establish a truly equal federal democratic union constructed together with the many ethnic resistance organizations (EROs) who are collaborating in our revolutionary fight to establish a democratic nation.

The myths and realities of China’s Military-Civil Fusion program

Kaiser Kuo

This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Elsa Kania, a Ph.D. candidate in Harvard University's Department of Government and adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security who researches China's military strategy, defense innovation, and emerging technologies. Elsa joins the show to talk about China’s push for “Military-Civil Fusion,” debunking some of the myths about the program that U.S. pundits and policymakers have imbibed.

Kaiser Kuo: Welcome to the Sinica Podcast, a weekly discussion of current affairs in China, produced in partnership with The China Project. Subscribe to Access from The China Project to get, well, access. Access to not only our great newsletter, the daily Dispatch, but to all of the original writing on our website at thechinaproject.com. We’ve got reported stories, essays and editorials, great explainers and trackers, regular columns, and, of course, a growing library of podcasts. We cover everything from China’s fraught foreign relations to its ingenious entrepreneurs, from the ongoing repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim peoples in China’s Xinjiang region to Beijing’s ambitious plans to shift the Chinese economy onto a post-carbon footing. It’s a feast of business, political, and cultural news about a nation that is reshaping the world. We cover China with neither fear nor favor.

I’m Kaiser Kuo, coming to you from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Military-Civil Fusion, or 军民融合 (jūnmín rónghé), is a phrase that’s been around for decades, but has only really gained broader attention in the last six or seven years. MCF, as it’s commonly abbreviated, arrived in American discourse on China policy on the heels of a lot of concern and commission over made in China 2025. You remember that industrial policy that was announced in 2015? Well, that gave a lot of ammunition to those people who were arguing for broader and stricter export controls of advanced technologies; efforts to keep them out of Chinese hands. After all, they said, the Chinese are explicitly calling for the civilian sector to be harnessed to the PLA.

Does Taiwan’s massive reliance on energy imports put its security at risk?

Joseph Webster

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has launched many useful comparisons about how Ukraine’s efforts to survive and repel Russian forces might be applicable to Taiwan’s defense against a potential attack by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan and its partners, for example, could directly apply a number of military and economic statecraft lessons against China. Energy security is more complicated, however. The Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine clearly demonstrated that energy security and national security are inseparable, yet Ukraine was a thoroughfare of Russian gas pipelines before the invasion and still has substantial coal reserves and nuclear power. Taiwan, in contrast, is one of the world’s most energy-insecure economies, relying on maritime imports for about 97 percent of its energy.

A review of Taiwan’s energy security challenges is urgently needed to assess its specific vulnerabilities and strengths in the face of attempted coercion by the PRC. Beijing appears increasingly capable of launching a quarantine, blockade, siege, or even invasion of the island.

It’s worth defining these terms. In a PRC quarantine of Taiwan, Beijing would employ the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, to interdict all shipping under the guise of inspecting for military kit but allow food and some supplies to pass through. It is possible the PRC believes this insidious tactic is its most attractive option in a Taiwan scenario, due to the limited costs and commitments it would require; the ambiguities it would impose on Western policymakers; and the potential that world public opinion, at least in parts of the developing world, would side with Beijing over the West as economic costs mounted.

Other options appear less probable, but much more coercive and potentially violent. In a blockade scenario, the PLAN would prevent all shipments from entering Taiwan, aiming to coerce the island into surrendering. A siege is a subset of both a blockade and invasion. In this scenario, Beijing would degrade the island’s defensive capability for months before launching an invasion. In the invasion scenario, Beijing would attempt a snap assault, hoping to leverage the element of surprise and secure Taiwan with minimal resistance. A snap invasion is extremely unlikely, however. The weeks that Russia built up its forces on its border with Ukraine before its full-scale invasion—in full view of the world—suggest that the PRC will almost certainly be unable to conceal mobilization for an extremely complicated, massive amphibious assault.

Xi Jinping May Be Souring on His ‘Best, Most Intimate Friend’

Ryan Hass

When Xi Jinping ascended to the pinnacle of Chinese power a decade ago, he saw Vladimir Putin as a strong leader who shared his hostility to the Western-dominated international system. They bonded over mutual paranoia about threats to their rule and exchanged best practices for imposing control at home and making the world more accommodating of their authoritarian impulses. Mr. Xi referred to Mr. Putin as his “best, most intimate friend.”

In the wake of the Wagner affair, Mr. Xi’s big bet on the Russian leader isn’t looking so safe.

The disastrous Russian war effort, culminating in last month’s aborted insurrection by the Wagner group’s paramilitary chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has exposed Mr. Putin’s Russia for what it is: a weakened, unpredictable nuclear state on China’s border, with a wounded leader whose long-term hold on power is not assured.

Mr. Xi cannot afford to abandon Mr. Putin altogether. He has invested too much in the relationship, and Russia remains useful to China. But the bromance that has caused so much concern in the West has probably peaked.

If Mr. Xi is to achieve his strategic goal of surpassing U.S. strength around the world, he will need to rebalance his foreign policy to account for Mr. Putin’s vulnerabilities. That may mean stronger Chinese support for ending a war that has backfired so severely on the Russian leader and a potentially less confrontational Chinese approach toward the United States and Taiwan.

There are signs the Xi-Putin bonhomie may already be cooling. Beijing offered only a muted response to the Wagner episode, calling it an “internal affair,” but hints of alarm over the failed mutiny have appeared in Chinese state-run media. Mr. Xi would not benefit by giving a blank check of support to Mr. Putin now. Doing so could invite questioning at home about Mr. Xi’s foreign policy judgment, which might only worsen if Mr. Putin were to suffer further setbacks.

KJ-600: The Eye in the Sky for China’s Future Carriers

Rick Joe

As of mid-2023, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has two ski jump (STOBAR) aircraft carriers in service and a single catapult (CATOBAR) aircraft carrier in fitting out awaiting sea trials. Additional CATOBAR carriers are expected to be produced in coming years, even if the exact timing and configuration of them are not yet known.

One of the benefits that a CATOBAR carrier offers is the ability to launch a wider variety of aircraft types under a wider array of conditions than STOBAR carriers. One of the most significant additions are fixed-wing carrier-based airborne early warning and control (AEWC) aircraft.

Presently, there is only one fixed-wing carrier-based AEWC in service in the world, the E-2 family. It was developed by the U.S. company Northrop Grumman, and is operated by the U.S. Navy and several other nations. However, China is developing the KJ-600 (also known as H-600), a similar aircraft developed by Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation (XAC) and 603 Institute. The KJ-600 first flew in mid-2020.

This article will review the status of this aircraft, some of the common discussion points, and consider the future milestones it is expected to meet.

As of this writing (in early July 2023), it is thought that at least six KJ-600 prototype airframes are in various stages of testing. At least one of these is likely to be a static test frame, while the others are flying prototypes serving various roles.

Notably, so far there has been no visual evidence (photo, video, or satellite) to suggest that KJ-600s have undergone catapult launch or arrested recovery testing from the land-based catapult test site at the PLAN Carrier Aviation Test and Training Base. However, it is also highly possible such tests have occurred without being captured, as a natural result of usual PLA operational security and the relative infrequency of satellite imagery overpass.

Overall, prototype flight testing continues, and the KJ-600 program is likely to be on the verge of low rate initial production, which would somewhat dovetail with the fitting out, and anticipated sea trials and aviation trials that CV-18 Fujian (Carrier 003) will undergo in the near future.

Configuration and Subsystems

Understanding China’s Gallium Sanctions

Alexander Holderness , Nicholas Velazquez , Henry Carroll , and Cynthia Cook

On July 3, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that it would impose restrictions on the export of gallium and germanium for reasons of national security. The move, widely seen as a response to U.S. restrictions on technology sales and transfers to China, targets key elements within the Department of Defense’s (DOD) supply chain. The announcement has sparked renewed concern in the United States about its dependence on critical mineral imports from China. However, current and future production capacities in Japan, Germany, and Australia undermine the power of this most recent Chinese economic swipe at the United States.

Q1: What is gallium and why does gallium nitride matter?

A1: Gallium is a “soft, silvery metallic element” that has a similar structure to silicon and is used in advanced microelectronics. Gallium compounds have a wide range of applications, ranging from semiconductors to LEDs. Primary gallium production is a by-product of bauxite or zinc processing and generally relies on sodium aluminate or zinc sulfate solution to extract gallium. Recycling plants can recover gallium from production scrap of other gallium-based devices. Refineries use fractional crystallization and zone refining to increase the purity of gallium created by primary production or recycling. Globally, gallium production is geographically constrained, and the United States is wholly dependent on foreign sources—including China.

Gallium compounds are key inputs to some advanced U.S. defense systems and, by extension, the DOD supply chain. Gallium nitride (GaN) is used in the U.S. Navy’s AN/SPY-6 radar and the U.S. Marine Corps’ AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR radar. Additionally, GaN is increasingly used in advanced microelectronics. These two industrial applications mean that gallium is essential to the global supply chain for both military and civilian applications.

Q2: How large is China’s role in the global market, and how could that impact the effectiveness of these restrictions?

China restricts exports of critical metals used in semiconductors and solar panels

On July 3, China published a notice restricting the export of certain key metals used in the production of advanced semiconductors and solar panels.1 Issued by the Ministry of Commerce, the directive targeted two types of critical metals: gallium and germanium,2 both on the country’s national strategic mineral list. China produces over 80 percent of gallium and 68 percent of germanium and their alloys worldwide. However, these metals differ from the rare earth metals whose global reserves are concentrated in China. In the case of gallium and germanium, other countries can turn to recycling and their own reserves in the short run, as the Chinese export restrictions start to bite. 

In the long run, other producing countries are likely to increase their outputs as demand pushes up prices. Thus, China may not enjoy a long-term international advantage from the new export ban, as global supplies diversify, although domestic semiconductor firms might be incentivized to produce more advanced chips. Gallium is critical in the making of certain types of high-speed and energy-efficient chips. 

Although silicon-based chips are used in most of the world’s semiconductor devices and integrated circuits, the physical properties of silicon materials limit their use in optoelectronics and high-frequency, high-powered devices. Gallium and other materials are well suited for so-called later generation semiconductors, which can overcome some of these challenges and excel in harsher conditions. It is used to produce high-performance microwave and millimeter-wave devices and light-emitting devices, which makes it promising for defense, aviation, aerospace, oil exploration and optical storage purposes. Gallium nitride can reduce energy loss by more than 50 percent and greatly reduce the volume of equipment required, compared to silicon-made components, making it s

Personnel Is Power: Why China Is Winning at the United Nations

Brett D. Schaefer

In the new era of strategic competition, international organizations have become a battleground for amassing influence and establishing international norms.

When Chinese nationals have been elected to lead U.N. organizations, Beijing has used these opportunities...to promote their national interests.

The U.S. needs to be more effective at alerting U.S. citizens of U.N. employment opportunities, guiding their applications, and supporting them after they apply.

In the new era of strategic competition, international organizations have become a battleground for amassing influence and establishing international norms. Countries compete against one another not only by asserting power through the United Nations General Assembly, the Security Council, or other U.N. organizations but also through employment of their nationals in the U.N. system.

While American citizens have historically enjoyed relatively high levels of employment at the United Nations, they have fallen short of expected levels of employment. Many U.N. organizations link staff recruitment to geographical distribution, membership status, financial contributions, and share of the global population. As the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted when it examined the issue more than a decade ago, “In 2009, the United States was underrepresented, based on formal and informal targets, at all five of the U.N. organizations GAO reviewed…. This follows general U.S. underrepresentation at most of these organizations from 2006 to 2009.”

The GAO is conducting an updated assessment, but U.N. statistics suggest that report will conclude, once again, that the U.N. system should employ more American nationals than it does.

Evan Gershkovich: A Timeline of His 100 Days in Detainment

Evan Gershkovich, a Russia correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, was detained 100 days ago while he was in Yekaterinburg on a reporting trip. He has been held since then in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison and accused of espionage, which he, the Journal and the U.S. government vehemently deny. Gershkovich, the 31-year-old American son of Soviet émigrés, has brought uncommon insight to the stories of everyday Russians.

He has committed no crime. He only did his job as a journalist.

Day 1: March 29, 2023

Gershkovich, who was accredited by Russia’s Foreign Ministry to work as a journalist, was detained in Yekaterinburg. He was subsequently taken to Moscow, where the Federal Security Service accused him of espionage, a charge he, the Journal and the U.S. government deny. Russian state television showed Gershkovich being escorted by plainclothes FSB officers.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was escorted by officers from a court in Moscow on March 30. PHOTO: ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Day 12: April 10

NATO’s Next Decade

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Dmytro Kuleba, Kristi Raik, Angela Stent, Liana Fix, Ulrich Speck, A. Wess Mitchell, Ben Hodges, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Stefan Theil

What was NATO before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? A Cold War relic in search of a mission, a drain on Washington as it pivoted to Asia, a needless irritant to a nonthreatening Russia—or so a chorus of academic and media pundits told us. French President Emmanuel Macron, Europe’s pundit-in-chief, famously summed up the mood by calling the alliance “brain-dead.”

How the Wagner revolt could change Russia’s cyber operations

The developments in the Russian Federation in recent days have taken me by surprise. In just under two days, forces employed by the Wagner Group - the now-infamous mercenary outfit run by oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin and deployed by the Russian government for more than a year in the brutal battle for Bakhmut - crossed from bases in Ukraine into Russia to stage a mutiny.

Much remains unknown about these events, including exactly who knew about the attempted revolt ahead of time and what precisely Prigozhin's aims were. Regardless, the ongoing episode stands as one of the most incredible developments of the decade - perhaps of the century so far - with far-reaching implications for the regime of Vladimir Putin, the war in Ukraine, and Russia's role as a key driver of global insecurity.

Prigozhin's revolt has prompted Western commentators to ruminate primarily on the terrestrial military and political consequences of events. However, the resolution to the incident and the resultant, apparent instability of Russia's internal political conditions also has implications for global cybersecurity. In the short-term, these are likely to stem from Prigozhin's links to Russia's military intelligence apparatus, his patronage of the notorious Internet Research Agency, and the evolving information war that may come with his banishment to Minsk. In the long-term, shifts in the patronage dynamics that define Russian power politics suggest real possibilities for heightened cyber aggression that is nonetheless less coherent in its tie to Moscow's interests.

This said, it's not all bad news. Information continues to come out about who knew about Prigozhin's plans and even supported them. As Putin tries to stabilize his hold on power, it's entirely possible that those elites closest to the Wagner boss will be forced out of their jobs (or perhaps a third-story window), a process that indeed already appears to be underway.

This has a real potential to replace the hyper-aggressive cyber strategy to bolster information confrontation with the West - one favored by the GRU spy agency that most closely liaised with the Wagner Group - with an alternative perspective. This improves conditions for Western digital defenders along several lines, not the least of which is growing tactical know-how about Russian operations at a time when the Kremlin's mission control capabilities are being weakened.

Why France Is Burning

Michele Barbero

PARIS—In France, the police killing of a teenager of Algerian and Moroccan descent and the devastating riots that ensued have laid bare the deep tensions that linger between security forces and the Black and Arab communities living in the country’s poorest urban areas, casting a fresh light on accusations of systemic violence and racism by French cops who are already more heavy-handed than their European counterparts.

Why the United States Is Winning the AI Race—for Now

Ravi Agrawal

Artificial intelligence has gone from being a relatively niche area a year ago to a topic that the broader public seems obsessed with. Some of this new interest, to be fair, is because of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. When it launched late last year, its performance resonated with non-experts because it started doing well at human tasks such as school tests or the bar exam. As a result, it spurred a bigger debate about AI’s role in society, its impact on jobs, the economy, and much else.

Countering Violent Extremism Online

Joanne Nicholson, Sean Keeling, Marigold Black

Research QuestionsWhat opportunities exist to enhance counters to VE online?

Does VE online require different policy settings?

In this report, the authors seek to understand how violent extremists behave in an increasingly complex online ecosystem. This ecosystem, which is characterised by technological innovation and diversification of platforms, offers significant utility and advantages to violent extremists. By interrogating the variety of tactics and strategies being used globally, the authors have identified gaps in the understanding of the expansive contours of the violent extremism (VE) online landscape. The study highlights the extent to which these challenges require enhanced policy settings.

Violent extremists have learned to adjust their behavioural posture through a variety of tactical measures to evade common counters. Although law enforcement agencies are conscious of how enforcement and denial actions change behaviours, there will always be a trade-off between keeping extremists where they can be monitored online and deplatforming them to reduce potential harm. Some of the ongoing adaptations of violent extremists are illustrated in this report, using case studies and examples from a variety of different platforms. At the strategic level, the authors dissect the ways in which violent extremist networks engage across alternative-technology and mainstream platforms according to the opportunities afforded by each platform. Developing a greater, more detailed understanding of the online VE landscape is imperative because of the extraordinary proliferation of VE activity online.

Key Findings

Technological advancement, the ubiquity of the internet and the growth of online extremist activity change much about the dynamics of the extremist landscape and the ways in which extremism is both encountered and countered. Against this backdrop, there is a point of inflection at which this evolved version of VE might be countered.

VE exists as multiple complex ecosystems that transcend platforms. These ecosystems are widely accessible and host content that continues to be curated in a sophisticated manner, despite deplatforming measures.

Keeping America Safe in an Age of Danger: Q&A with Andrew Hoehn and Thom Shanker

Thom Shanker and Andrew Hoehn

America has entered an age of danger that may come to rival anything in its history, Andrew Hoehn and Thom Shanker argue in a new book. Yet even as the nation faces a growing array of threats, from cyber attacks to climate change, it still relies on a national security system that was built for the Cold War and has been focused on terrorism.

That system “needs an overhaul,” Hoehn and Shanker write, “a retooling that rivals the major changes made at other critical turning points in history,” such as after World War II. Chapter by chapter, they lay out the risks that system needs to anticipate—adversaries like Russia and China, but also mounting threats from germs, storms, and new technologies.

The book is based on dozens of interviews Hoehn and Shanker conducted with top national security leaders, as well as their own experiences inside the Pentagon. Hoehn, RAND's senior vice president for research and analysis, previously served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy. Shanker, now the director of the Project for Media and National Security, is a former national security and foreign policy editor at The New York Times. He coauthored the New York Times bestseller Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda.

What got this project rolling?

ANDREW HOEHN A few times a year, Thom and I would sit down and have lunch, just catching up. On one of those occasions, we were lamenting that, for all the enormous strength and power and capability of this country, many problems were getting worse, not better. We thought, well, maybe there's a story here. We decided we would sit down and talk to smart people about what we were sensing, this mounting set of dangers.

THOM SHANKER We first began focusing on problems that aren't getting enough attention. We called them ticking time bombs. And initially, we thought that would be our book: a list of these ticking time bombs for which we aren't prepared. But we realized a book like that could be an infinite number of pages long. So we tried to come up with an analytical approach that would help America prepare for the problems we identified but also problems we couldn't possibly predict.

What was the main message you took from those conversations you were having?

Riots Again in France

Alain Destexhe

These responses -- skirting due process at the highest levels of government -- show the fear that the suburbs instill in those in power: the fear of a generalized conflagration, the fear of another death, the fear that control of the situation is slipping away, the fear of the inability to control these uprisings or the root causes that breed them.

Some of these suburbs have long since become lawless zones, or rather zones of "alternative law," where drug kingpins and Muslim imams now rule the roost, and where the police only move in force from time to time. In some neighborhoods, drug dealers have set up physical obstacles that make it difficult for the police to gain access when they decide to intervene by force, when the authorities can pretend that they still control something.

It is necessary to deal with the cause -- excessive and uncontrolled immigration -- both legal (through family reunification and the right of asylum) and illegal. When you are faced with a leak in a boat that is on the verge of sinking, as French society is, you not only have to have to bail out the water, but also plug the breach.

There are "two Frances" facing each other. One is violent, ready to riot at the first opportunity, encouraged by political parties who see it as an electoral reservoir. The other, still in the majority, is dignified and peaceful, outraged by the behavior of these young people of immigrant origin -- but who remain silent and do nothing.

France seems slowly heading for civil war.

Inside the Secretive Russian Security Force That Targets Americans

Joe Parkinson and Drew Hinshaw

For years, a small group of American officials watched with mounting concern as a clandestine unit of Russia’s Federal Security Service covertly tracked high-profile Americans in the country, broke into their rooms to plant recording devices, recruited informants from the U.S. Embassy’s clerical staff and sent young women to coax Marines posted to Moscow to spill secrets.

On March 29, that unit, the Department for Counterintelligence Operations, or DKRO, led the arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, according to U.S. and other Western diplomats, intelligence officers and former Russian operatives. DKRO, which is virtually unknown outside a small circle of Russia specialists and intelligence officers, also helped detain two other Americans in Russia, former Marines Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed, these people said.

The secretive group is believed by these officials to be responsible for a string of strange incidents that blurred the lines between spycraft and harassment, including the mysterious death of a U.S. diplomat’s dog, the trailing of an ambassador’s young children and flat tires on embassy vehicles.

The DKRO’s role in the detention of at least three Americans, which hasn’t been previously reported, shows its importance to Russia under Vladimir Putin, a former KGB lieutenant colonel who led the Federal Security Service, or FSB, before rising to the presidency. The unit intensified its operations in recent years as the conflict between Moscow and Washington worsened.

As with most clandestine activity carried out by covert operatives, it is impossible to know for certain whether DKRO is behind every such incident. The unit makes no public statements. But officials from the U.S. and its closest allies said that DKRO frequently wants its targets to know their homes are being monitored and their movements followed, and that its operatives regularly leave a calling card: a burnt cigarette on a toilet seat. They also have left feces in unflushed toilets at diplomats’ homes and in the suitcase of a senior official visiting from Washington, these people said.

The DKRO is the counterintelligence arm of the FSB responsible for monitoring foreigners in Russia, with its first section, or DKRO-1, the subdivision responsible for Americans and Canadians.

NATO is drafting new plans to defend Europe

When the boxer Mike Tyson was asked ahead of a fight whether he was concerned about an opponent’s plan, he was blunt: “Everybody has a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.” With nato it has been the other way around. For 42 years the alliance prepared for conventional and nuclear war with the Soviet Union and its allies. In 1991 the Warsaw Pact fell apart and the plans fell into abeyance. Now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlights the need for new strategies.

The Lasting Strategic Impact Of the War in the Ukraine

Anthony H. Cordesman

The Emeritus Chair in Strategy is circulating a working draft of a new analysis of the war in Ukraine. It is being circulated for comment and corrections, which should be sent to Anthony H. Cordesman at acordesman@gmail.com. It is entitled The Lasting Strategic Impact of the War in the Ukraine. It is available on the CSIS website at https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/2023-07/230705_Cordesman_StrategicImpact_WarUkraine.pdf?VersionId=DbYdDMdHvBcZ5wfVhMkBQXWA39GRRMYJ, and a downloadable copy is attached to the end of this transmittal.

This analysis differs sharply from most other analyses of the war—which focus on the current fighting and the prospects for some decisive set of battles between the Ukraine and Russia. It provides a detailed analysis of the war’s potential strategic impacts in three different ways. First, how the fighting between Russia and the Ukraine might proceed or end, and the potential real-world outcomes of any settlement. Second, the war’s lasting impact on the confrontation between Russia, NATO, and the West. And finally, its global impact, including its impact on Russian and Chinese relations.

The Strategic Impact of the Probable Outcomes of the War on the Ukraine and Russia

In broad terms, it concludes that the attempt of Yevgeny Prigozhin to use his Wagner forces to move on Moscow provides yet another warning that the course of the war can suddenly change in unpredictable ways because of the decisions of a single individual, a given military offensive, or shifts in the level of outside support by other nations.

At the same time, there is a significant possibility that the fighting in Ukraine will go on for years, that it will unleash broader forces that will make any settlement or “peace” highly unstable, and that the war will lead to a new and lasting form of Cold War between the West and Russia, as well as have broader global impacts.

Grounded in reality: Ukraine’s air defence and the implications for Europe

The provision of a first SAMP/T system to bolster Ukraine’s extended-range ground-based air and missile defence is a fillip for Kyiv, but it also serves to expose European political and industrial tensions over how the continent should address future needs. Giorgio Di Mizio considers the implications.

French President Emmanuel Macron heralded the delivery of the first Eurosam SAMP/T surface-to-air missile (SAM) battery to Kyiv as ‘Europe defending Europe’. At the same time, however, it underscored the continuing vulnerability of Ukraine to air and missile attack and broader concerns about Europe’s capacity to fully address such threats.

Macron’s comments, made at a European air- and missile-defence conference on 19 June 2023, also laid bare continuing tensions between Paris and Berlin over how to address air and missile defence. Paris favours a ‘European’ defence-industrial approach while Berlin is looking to the United States and Israel for key systems. The more immediate issue, however, remains how to continue to support Ukraine’s ground-based air defence.

The missile threat in Ukraine Russia’s extensive use of land-attack cruise missiles (LACM), such as the air-launched Raduga Kh-101 (RS-AS-23A Kodiak) and the Novator 3M14 (RS-SS-N-30A Sagaris) naval LACM, and short-range surface-to-surface missiles, such as the 9K79-1 Tochka-U (RS-SS-21B Scarab) and 9K720 Iskander-M (RS-SS-26 Stone), has spurred the West’s desire to fortify Ukraine’s defence, but it has also caused Europe to reflect on how it would deal with such threats.

MIM-104 Patriot units have successfully engaged the Kinzhal (RS-AS-24 Killjoy) aero-ballistic missile, though potentially only through a high expenditure of interceptors. Kyiv’s use of Soviet-era long-range S-300 (RS-SA-10 Grumble) and medium-range 9K37 Buk (RS-SA-11 Gadfly) SAMs in countering the Russian air threat, while broadly successful, has depleted the stock of these missiles. Unlike with the Patriot however, Kyiv cannot access the original supplier to replenish this arsenal.

The SAMP/T battery, provided by France and Italy, is equipped with the Aster 30 Block 1 missile, supported by the Thales Arabel radar, and could be complemented by the Thales Ground Master 200 (GM 200) radar.

Winning the Advanced-Network Race


WASHINGTON, DC – No industry embodies US ingenuity more than telecoms. American innovators spearheaded the development and commercialization of the telegraph, the telephone, the internet, and the cellphone. Today, the latest generations of these telecom networks, including 5G and 6G technology, coupled with the artificial-intelligence revolution, are driving even more powerful capabilities.

The result is a rapid convergence of the physical and digital domains, which could bring huge economic rewards. In the future, 5G-enabled factories could see 20-30% productivity gains, and greater industrial automation, in the form of smart robots, could make workers more efficient. Smart cities could leverage cloud-connected sensors and AI capabilities to redirect traffic flow and optimize energy grids, saving money and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The deployment of 5G is projected to contribute up to $1.7 trillion to US GDP in the next decade, while enabling an estimated $13.2 trillion of global economic output by 2035.

But the United States has almost allowed these opportunities to slip away, with potentially dire consequences for national security and prosperity. As part of a brute-force strategy to displace the rules-based world order, China has sought to use national firms Huawei and ZTE to dominate next-generation network infrastructure. American missteps also contributed to China racing ahead in the production and export of network hardware, leaving the US and other countries vulnerable to economic coercion and threats to sensitive data and critical infrastructure.

No longer oblivious to the danger, the US has taken steps to address these vulnerabilities, including a ban on new Chinese-backed telecom equipment. But those of us who served in government while Huawei surged ahead to become the world’s largest telecom equipment producer had nothing to offer when partner countries asked for an exportable, end-to-end American alternative.

6 things that threaten Europe, according to … the EU


The European Commission on Thursday unveiled its annual strategic foresight report, setting out its focus for the coming years.

The 21-page document illustrates the EU’s take on where the world is going. It's also a rough guide to understand the ideology of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who still hasn’t indicated whether she intends to continue in her role for another five years.

Spoiler alert: There are no major surprises. The report includes many of Brussels’ favorite words: “open strategic autonomy,” “resilience,” “sustainability,” and “geoeconomics.” The overarching idea is that the EU needs to beef up its autonomy as the golden age of globalization comes to an end. But in so doing, it must push forward its green transition at the cost of €620 billion per year and clamp down on domestic inequality.

POLITICO unpacks the details and answers critical questions about the EU's big-picture exercise.

1. The return of geopolitics

The world is ever more divided between the West and China — and Europe cannot be a bystander. “The time where liberal democracy was the model of obvious choice is over,” said Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič in a press conference on Thursday when the report was unveiled.

The Commission foresees a “battle of offers” as Europe and the U.S. jostle with Beijing to lure developing nations over to their side. The key takeaway is that the old model of globalization — built on free trade and global supply chains — is gone. Instead, we’re entering a new era of “geoeconomics.” In a nutshell, that means Europe must cut back its strategic dependencies on other countries and instead tap its domestic resources and boost production on the Continent.

2. A sustainable economic model

Why no one can end the Ukraine war


At an otherwise newsy event last month, Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato chief, made a low-key administrative announcement: “We are working on a multi-year package with substantial funding…”

Not the stuff of headlines, but a rather sobering admission that, as the war approaches its 500th day tomorrow, there is no end in sight. Not this year, or next year or the year after. That should be deeply concerning, especially because, contrary to received wisdom, all those who really matter — the Ukrainians, Russians and the Americans — are actually trying very hard to end it.

For it is not true, contra widely held opinion, that Zelenskyy wants the world to support him forever as he completes a full Reconquista — including Crimea. His current offensive — the push towards the Black Sea to cut off Russian forces further west – is a clear demonstration of this. It was deliberately calculated to push Moscow to the negotiating table or risk losing tens of thousands of soldiers to captivity or death.

But Zelenskyy has consistently refused to spell out the fact that he has a “limited aim” of reaching a negotiated peace without Crimea. And he has done so for both military and personal reasons.

The military reason is straightforward and common to every war: to advance at all, Ukrainians on the front line cannot fight in a “limited” way. They must believe that their absolute commitment and self-sacrifice can end the war in victory.

The personal reason is that Zelenskyy is a Jew, as is his defence minister, Oleksii Resnikov. And like the countless Jews who fought for their countries up and down Europe in the last century, the pair remain suspect in the eyes of the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who are commonly antisemitic.

Syria’s ‘Forgotten War’ Highlights Russia’s Strategic Reach

James F. Jeffrey

AWashington Post piece by Ishaan Tharoor on June 30, “The Battle In Syria That Looms Behind Wagner’s Rebellion,” on the Wagner Group’s role as an armed tool of Kremlin foreign policy in Syria and its 2018 attack on American forces, raises attention to the new “great game” being played in Syria.

This involves five outside military forces — the U.S., Russia, Israel, Turkey and Iran — and campaigns within campaigns. Those include the still simmering civil war between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and much of his population; the conflict between most everyone and Islamic State (IS) remnants; Turkey’s struggle against the PKK terrorist organization’s Syrian Kurdish offshoot, the YPG (renamed the “Syrian Democratic Forces” or SDF to downplay PKK ties); and Israel’s air campaign against Iran’s Syrian missile deployments. The SDF is also America’s partner against the IS.

But the most strategic conflict is between the U.S. and Russia, a conflict that is heating up. Central Command's (CENTCOM) commander, Gen. Michael Kurilla, recently told Congress that Russian President Vladimir Putin “views [Syria] as a base from which to project power and influence throughout the region and into Europe and Africa.” And the U.S. has just announced deployment of F-22 stealth fighters to combat Russia’s aggressive behavior, described by Kurilla as a spike in “unprofessional Russian behavior in Syria,” including flights by armed Russian aircraft over U.S. bases there.

Russia has had a decades-long military alliance with Syria, and from the onset of the Syrian internal conflict in 2011, has supported the Assad regime against much of the Syrian citizenry backed by the U.S., Turkey and many Arab states. Russia’s goals were initially defensive, preserving a security relationship and basing rights, and its assistance to Assad was indirect, mainly weapons transfers, diplomatic backing in the United Nations Security Council, and a deal with Washington supposedly to eliminate Syrian government chemical weapons and forestall U.S. air strikes in 2013. But in 2015, Russian air units, military advisers and some ground troops, as well as Wagner, joined Iran in intervening directly in the fighting, reversing the opposition’s battlefield gains and securing Assad’s control over a rump Syrian state.

Russia Risks Degraded Troops Amid Lack of Combat-Ready Reserves: ISW


Russia is risking troops "degradation" amid the war in Ukraine due to a lack of "combat-ready" reservists, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

A report published on Thursday by the U.S.-based think tank cited pro-Russian military bloggers who said that Russia's army was lacking defensive capabilities in southern Ukraine due to an inability to "rotate" troops in and out of combat. ISW suggested that the shortcoming would impact Moscow's ability to defend against the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said in a tweet earlier this week that the Ukrainian counteroffensive—focused on Russian-occupied regions in southern and eastern Ukraine—had "been particularly fruitful" in recent days, maintaining that progress was being made "calmly, wisely, step by step."

The ISW report suggests that it may become more difficult for Moscow to halt the counteroffensive the longer it continues. The report notes a military blogger's claim that Russian troops mobilized in the southeastern Ukraine region of Zaporizhzhia had "been on the frontlines since October 2022 without any rotations," due to "no available personnel to replace them."

Russian President Vladimir Putin is shown on June 27, 2023. A report from the Institute for the Study of War on Thursday said that Russia was risking troops "degradation" due to a shortage of battle-ready reservists.CONTRIBUTOR

"Russian forces likely lack combat-ready reserves," ISW said. "The failure to conduct any rotations will likely result in a quicker rate of degradation for Russian formations defending against Ukrainian counteroffensives in southern Ukraine."

The ISW report went on to cite claims that the Russian military may be launching attacks on Ukrainian military equipment that had already been destroyed "to report inflated Ukrainian losses."

Adam Tooze: How Apple Became the World’s Largest Company

Cameron Abadi

Apple reached a valuation of $3 trillion this past week, making it the first company to ever cross that threshold (it crossed that line last year but only briefly). As a designer and manufacturer of technology products, Apple has become ubiquitous in our culture. But the company is also worthy of consideration as a macroeconomic and political actor in its own right.

E2E encryption: Should big tech be able to read people's messages?

Joe Tidy

Meta's Mark Zuckerberg is on a collision course with the UK government over continued plans to build super-secure messaging into all his apps despite a potential landmark law that could effectively outlaw the technology. Around the world, governments that also oppose the popular technology are watching the showdown closely to see who will blink first.

"End-to-end encryption", "backdoors" and "client-side scanning" - the biggest row in technology sounds very complicated.

But really it comes down to a very simple question. Should technology companies be able to read people's messages?

That is the crux of a row that has been brewing for years between Silicon Valley and the governments of at least a dozen countries around the world.

WhatsApp, iMessage, Android Messages and Signal all use the super-secure system called end-to-end encryption.

The technology means only the sender, at one end, and the receiver, at the other, can read messages, see media or hear phone calls. Even the app makers cannot access the content.

Big switchover

In the past 10 years, end-to-end encrypted apps have become increasingly popular, with billions of people using them every day.

Most governments and security agencies reluctantly accepted the technology's rise - until four years ago, when Mr Zuckerberg announced on stage the Messenger app and then Instagram would move to end-to-end encryption as standard.

"We're going to enable more than two billion people around the world to have their most personal conversations with each other privately," he said.

North Korea’s hackers are after intel, not just crypto

For a country that allows only a trusted few onto the internet, North Korea is a prolific troublemaker online. In 2005 Kim Jong Il, the country’s then dictator, said that “if the internet is like a gun, cyber-attacks are like atomic bombs.” His son, Kim Jong Un, took this observation to heart, not only studying computer science at university, but significantly expanding the country’s cyber-warfare capabilities after he assumed power in 2011. Its plundering of cryptocurrency—$1.7bn worth in 2022 alone—grabs headlines, but a new report suggests that North Korea uses its “all-purpose sword”, as the senior Kim once called his country’s cyber-attack capability, to seek information more than cash.

The military’s next mission? Reinvent logistics

John Ridge’s tenure as Chief of Joint Force Operations for the UK Armed Forces began with a baptism of fire. “It was the Thursday of my first week, and I was told to deploy a task force,” he recalls. The year was 2017, and Hurricane Irma had begun a trail of destruction in the Caribbean. Ridge found himself organizing the relief effort, and it was an almighty logistical puzzle. “It meant a whole load of people from the Commando forces, a whole load of aircraft, helicopters, ships. It was all about planning where stuff was coming from, how it was transported, where it would end up, sequencing everything, then taking out the bits and pieces that we needed when they arrived and supplying them forward. The challenge of doing that was really, really hard.”

Ridge is now Director of Defence Innovation at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), where he’s responsible for introducing new technology across the Armed Forces. Experiences such as Hurricane Irma, alongside his 24 years of service in the Royal Engineers—including two tours of Afghanistan—have made him acutely aware of the critical importance of logistics in any military operation. “Amateurs talk tactics,” he says, referencing a famous defense maxim. “Professionals talk logistics.”

The future of military logistics, however, is fraught with problems. “It’s only going to get more difficult. Our current model of deploying a force involves building a very large base, which becomes your center of gravity, and then you deploy forward from that,” says Ridge. “But everything that we understand about how our adversaries are now thinking, tells us that we actually need a much more dispersed force—which is a completely different logistics challenge and a really difficult one.”

This kind of dispersal not only adds complexity to the supply chain but can also bring new risks, according to Dr Sarah Ashbridge, a research Fellow in Military Science at the Royal United Services Institute. “A large number of deaths in Afghanistan were incurred during combat logistics supply operations,” she says. “A dispersed force, and the associated dispersed logistics, create unique human security risks.”

“Amateurs talk tactics. Professionals talk logistics.”



A new world of defense logistics will require new solutions. And the technological innovations already found in industry are likely to provide many of them.