16 July 2023

India Launches a Lander and Rover to Explore the Moon’s South Pole

Aijaz Rahi and Ashok Sharma

The Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-3 lifts off from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, India, July 14, 2023.Credit: Twitter/ISRO

An Indian spacecraft blazed its way to the far side of the moon Friday in a follow-up mission to its failed effort nearly four years ago to land a rover softly on the lunar surface, the country’s space agency said.

Chandrayaan-3, the word for “moon craft” in Sanskrit, took off from a launch pad in Sriharikota in southern India with an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, in a demonstration of India’s emerging space technology. The spacecraft is set to embark on a journey lasting slightly over a month before landing on the moon’s surface later in August.

Applause and cheers swept through mission control at Satish Dhawan Space Center, where the Indian Space Research Organization’s engineers and scientists celebrated as they monitored the launch of the spacecraft. Thousands of Indians cheered outside the mission control center and waved the national flag as they watched the spacecraft rise into the sky.

“Congratulations India. Chandrayaan-3 has started its journey towards the moon,” ISRO Director Sreedhara Panicker Somanath said shortly after the launch.

The six-wheeled lander and rover module of Chandrayaan-3 is configured with payloads that would provide data to the scientific community on the properties of lunar soil and rocks, including chemical and elemental compositions, said Dr. Jitendra Singh, junior minister for Science and Technology.

India’s previous attempt to land a robotic spacecraft near the moon’s little-explored south pole ended in failure in 2019. It entered the lunar orbit but lost touch with its lander, which crashed while making its final descent to deploy a rover to search for signs of water. According to a failure analysis report submitted to the ISRO, the crash was caused by a software glitch.

With Chandrayaan-3 Launch, India Heads for the Moon

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

India launched Chandrayaan-3, its third mission to the Moon, on July 14. It was launched on a LVM3 heavy-lift launch vehicle, named “Bahubali,” from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in southern India. The Chandrayaan-3 will travel for more than a month to land on the surface of the Moon in early August. A successful mission will make India the fourth country in the world – after the United States, the Soviet Union, and China – to do a soft landing on the Moon. Following the launch, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), India’s civil space organization tweeted that the “LVM3 M4 vehicle successfully launched Chandrayaan-3 into orbit.”

This is India’s second attempt at landing on the Moon. Chandrayaan-3 comes four years after Chandrayaan-2 had a hard landing on the Moon’s surface in September 2019. Even though the mission reached the lunar surface, it ultimately failed because of a communication breakdown between the craft and the ground stations, at an altitude of just 2.1 kilometers from the surface of the Moon. Prior to that, in October 2008, India launched a Chandrayaan-1, which was largely an exploratory mission, but it also included a Moon Impact Probe. The mission confirmed the presence of water on the lunar surface. That mission also had a communication glitch that cut short the mission after slightly over 300 days, although the orbiter itself appears to have stayed up for several more years.

The Chandrayaan missions represent a major triumph for India and its space agency. India’s space program is largely focused on pursuing its developmental agenda through communications and earth observation satellites. Nevertheless, there has also been some focus on space exploration. For example, in 2014, India launched its Mangalyaan mission, a Mars orbiter, making India the first Asian nation to reach Martian orbit. It was also the first country to succeed in a maiden Mars orbiter attempt. China had previously attempted such a mission in collaboration with Russia in November 2011, but it failed. China subsequently launched a successful Mars orbiter and landing mission in 2021.

Al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan: Information Blackhole and Strategic (Mis) Communication

Shanthie Mariet D’Souza

In comments on June 30, U.S. President Joe Biden indicated that the United States has received indirect support from the Taliban in its counterterrorism pursuits, which has resulted in the flight of al-Qaida from Afghanistan lock, stock, and barrel. This assertion – which conflicts with other assessments – brings attention back to the information void that the August 2021 withdrawal by U.S. forces created in Afghanistan. This information blackhole must be addressed for the sake of regional as well as global security.

In the last two years, the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), the Taliban’s bête noire, has managed to garner much of the media’s focus for its repeated acts of violence in Afghanistan. On the other hand, al-Qaida, an ally of the Taliban, has managed to remain out of focus. An “over the horizon” effort did lead to the killing of al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in August 2022 in a U.S. drone strike. But since, there has been complete silence on the activities of al-Qaida’s fighters in Afghanistan.

Biden’s suggestion that there are no al-Qaida fighters left in Afghanistan has been seized on by the Taliban as an endorsement of their efforts and position. On July 1, Acting Foreign Minister of the Islamic Emirate Amir Khan Muttaqi said that the remark represents an “understanding of realities,” and hence the United States should “positively engage” with the Taliban, since the Islamic Emirate has remained committed to the fulfillment of its pledge to not allow the use of Afghan soil against others.

Curiously, however, the Taliban had criticized the killing of al-Zawahiri as an affront to Afghanistan’s sovereignty and a violation of the Doha accord, and at the same time, had feigned ignorance about his presence in Kabul. Since then the Taliban have appointed dual-hatted al-Qaida operatives as governors of some provinces.

In spite of the criticisms Biden’s remarks have attracted from various quarters, including Rahmatullah Nabil, a former intelligence chief of the deposed Ashraf Ghani government, it is in sync with the U.S. intelligence assessments, which have been downplaying the influence of al-Qaida in Afghanistan after the killing of al-Zawahiri. For instance, two weeks after the successful strike, an intelligence report said that since the withdrawal of U.S. troops, al-Qaida “has not reconstituted its presence in Afghanistan.”

IMF Approves Much-awaited $3 Billion Bailout for Pakistan

Munir Ahmed

The International Monetary Fund approved a much-awaited $3 billion bailout for Pakistan on Wednesday, the global lender said, a move that’s likely to save the nation from defaulting on its debt repayments.

The IMF said its executive board approved an agreement to release the funds over nine months to support Pakistan’s economic stabilization program.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Pakistan and the IMF agreed to the plan following meetings with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and other officials.

“The arrangement comes at a challenging economic juncture for Pakistan. A difficult external environment, devastating floods, and policy missteps have led to large fiscal and external deficits, rising inflation, and eroded reserve buffers” in the fiscal year 2023, the IMF said in a statement.

Later, IMF head Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement that “Pakistan’s economy was hit hard by significant shocks last year, notably the spillovers from the severe impacts of floods, the large volatility in commodity prices, and the tightening of external and domestic financing conditions.”

She said the $3-billion bailout, if “implemented faithfully” by Pakistan, will give it an opportunity to regain macroeconomic stability and address imbalances through consistent policy implementation.

Sharif quickly welcomed the IMF decision, saying it was a major step forward in the government’s efforts to stabilize the economy.

“It bolsters Pakistan’s economic position to overcome immediate to medium-term economic challenges, giving the next government the fiscal space to chart the way forward,” he said in a tweet. “This milestone, which was achieved against the heaviest of odds & against seemingly impossible deadline, could not have been possible without excellent team effort.”

Bangladeshi Diaspora Journalists Push Back Against Democratic Backsliding at Home

Mubashar Hasan

Bangladeshi artists carry an artwork during a protest against the arrest of journalist Rozina Islam in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 20, 2021.Credit: AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu

In December 2022, the Bangladeshi High Commission in Canada issued a statement that sent shockwaves through the Bangladeshi Canadian community. The statement urged all “peace-loving and patriotic Bangladeshi-Canadians to be aware of those spreading anti-Bangladesh propaganda from Canada” and warned that individuals and media involved in such activities would not receive consular services.

This announcement has had a chilling effect on many Bangladeshis living in Canada. Fearing persecution of their relatives back home, some of them have toned down their calls for the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights in their home country.

Explaining his decision to curtail his activism following the High Commission statement, one Bangladeshi, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I have to go back to Bangladesh, as my parents are living there. So, I do not want to be arrested or put my family in danger for posting criticism against Bangladesh on Facebook.”

Despite Bangladesh’s economic growth and development under the Awami League (AL) government, the country paints a grim picture on several internationally recognized indicators of democracy, freedom, and human rights as it slides toward authoritarianism. The global Press Freedom Index (PFI) 2023 ranks Bangladesh at 163, several rungs lower than even Afghanistan at 152. In 2022, Bangladesh was ranked at 162, lower than Afghanistan at 154 and Russia at 155.

Human rights groups are drawing attention to a disturbing pattern of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and imprisonment of critics and political opponents under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s regime.

Russia, China and their no limits friendship

Brian Davidson

If, like me, you follow coverage of the war in Ukraine closely but aren’t an expert on Sino-Russian relations or a historian, you probably think Russia and China are best friends. After all, the bromance between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping has ‘no limits’, or so we are led to believe. I’ve grown to accept this narrative, although with a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that this isn’t as accurate a description as the narrative intends. So, when I saw a book called The Amur River, Between Russia and China, I thought I should give it a read to find out more. I bought it, read it and will share my thoughts about it with you today.

A good travel story either tells you about a place you don’t know much about or a journey that not very many people have travelled. This book does both. The British author Colin Thubron, who speaks Russian and some Mandarin, does a nice job of describing the history of this complex region as he meets a cast of interesting characters along his journey. He is 84 years old, and began this journey and started writing this book only a few years ago. Sharp intellectually, impressive physically, as highlighted by him travelling for weeks with a cracked rib and sprained ankle, before fishing, drinking and talking politics with burly Russians in remote Siberia.

I’ve always loved travel and feel that it is the best way to learn about life. I’ve done a few epic(ish) trips so far – travelling through South America, parts of Africa and the Middle East – which has given me a strong reference point for a lot of how I see the world today. Nowadays, I get most of my news and information about the world from behind a desk in London. So, even though I consider myself open-minded, my worldview now is bound to be biased and imbalanced. A fresh perspective is needed.

Thubron’s story starts in the marshes of Mongolia and ends close to Sakhalin Island in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. The river separates Russia and China for hundreds of kilometres, before flowing north through Russia. Because more of the river flows through Russia than China, and because it flows into the sea in Russia, I think it is fair to say that the river has more significance for the former than the latter.

Book on Xi's thought on boosting China's strength in cyberspace published

BEIJING, July 11 -- A book on the thought of Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on boosting China's strength in cyberspace has been published by the People's Publishing House.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has attached great importance to cybersecurity and informatization and put forward strategic goals of cyber development. The cybersecurity and informatization work has seen historic achievements and changes.

Xi's thought on cyber development is a summary of the CPC's experience regarding cyberspace regulation and a guide for developing cybersecurity and informatization.

The Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission organized the compilation of the book, which consists of 10 subjects. The book elucidates Xi's thought on cyber development from various aspects including the theoretical tool and action guide for boosting China's strength in cyberspace, and strengthening the Party's overall leadership of the cybersecurity and informatization work.

China-based Hackers Breached Government and Individual Email Accounts, Microsoft Says

Zen Soo

China called a Microsoft report that a China-based hacking group breached government-linked email accounts “disinformation,” saying Wednesday that the accusation was meant to divert attention from U.S. cyber activities.

In a blog post published Tuesday, Microsoft said the group, which it identified as Storm-0558, gained access to email accounts linked to 25 organizations, including Western European government agencies. The breach was detected weeks later when customers complained to Microsoft about abnormal mail activity.

“We assess this adversary is focused on espionage, such as gaining access to email systems for intelligence collection,” Charlie Bell, Microsoft’s executive vice president of security, said in a separate post.

A Washington Post report cited a statement from U.S. officials claiming Storm-0558 also breached unclassified email accounts linked to the U.S. government.

“No matter which agency issued this information, it will never change the fact that the United States is the world’s largest hacker empire conducting the most cyber theft,” Wang said in a routine briefing.

“Since last year, the cybersecurity organizations of China and other countries have issued many reports exposing the cyberattacks on China by the U.S. Government over a long period of time, but the U.S. has not made a response so far,” he said.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who is at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, along with U.S. President Joe Biden, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the investigation into the latest hack is ongoing.

“We detected it fairly rapidly and we were able to prevent further breaches,” Sullivan said. “The matter is still being investigated, so I have to leave it there because we’re gathering further information in consultation with Microsoft and we will continue to appraise the public as we learn more.”


Noah B. Cooper 

Is China genuinely willing to risk massive military losses, suffer international opprobrium, and heighten global tensions and the prospects for conflict for a generation to achieve its policy goal of uniting the mainland and Taiwan? This question challenges defense theorists, policymakers, and others across the US government daily. It is a vexing question in its own right, but if the answer is yes, it raises a range of even more difficult ones: What are the specific US interests in the case of a Chinese military invasion? What should US assistance to Taiwan’s defense involve? And most fundamentally, how would a war over Taiwan actually unfold?

China’s actions in the past two decades demonstrate the necessity of planning for an invasion contingency. It has militarized the South China Sea, embarked on a military modernization program designed to execute a rapid amphibious assault on Taiwan and corresponding joint fires capabilities to keep the United States and its allies at bay, and issued explicit statements from Chinese leaders testifying to nation’s goal of absorbing Taiwan into a single, unified China.

The scope of China’s activities, the risks associated with an outbreak of a major war that could pit great powers against one another, and the sheer uncertainty about the shape such a conflict would take stretch traditional planning tools to their limits. But other, less conventional tools, are available—like fiction. Mick Ryan, a retired major general in the Australian Army, provides a unique and insightful perspective on the character of such a war in his new novel, White Sun War: The Campaign for Taiwan. Ryan’s book falls into the growing genre known as “FICINT,” a term coined by his fellow military futurist and author August Cole to describe works of fiction that set out to realistically depict a future war scenario. Ryan’s exploration of a war over Taiwan is a welcome addition for those seeking to better visualize how such a war will proceed, to witness the conflict from the perspective of an array of characters, and to envisage how such a future conflict will be fought by both friendly and adversary forces alike.

A Stronger NATO for a More Dangerous World

Jens Stoltenberg
Source Link

Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine is a turning point in history. War has returned to Europe and great-power rivalries are growing. Authoritarian regimes are coming together to challenge the global rules and institutions that underpin peace and stability. Russian President Vladimir Putin is clamping down on freedoms and deepening divisions within his own country, as the Wagner paramilitary company’s rebellion clearly demonstrated. But no one should underestimate Russia or the dangers facing the world today.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is responding to a more unpredictable world with unity and strength. NATO allies in Europe and North America, and our partners across the globe, have provided unprecedented economic and military support to Ukraine. Over the last decade, NATO has implemented the largest reinforcement of our collective defense in a generation. We have strengthened our military presence in eastern Europe and increased defense spending. With Finland’s membership—and soon Sweden’s—NATO is growing stronger and larger.

We must continue this momentum and maintain our strength and unity. This is exactly what NATO leaders will do when we meet for our summit in Vilnius tomorrow. I expect NATO allies to confirm our unwavering support for Ukraine, continue to strengthen our own defense, and increase our cooperation with our European and Indo-Pacific partners to defend the global rules-based order. These are my main priorities for Vilnius and beyond, as I have the honor to serve this alliance for another year.

What we do—or do not do—now will define the world we live in for generations. So we will send a clear message: NATO stands united, and authoritarian aggression will not pay off.


When I visited Ukraine this spring, I witnessed the terrible suffering, but also the tremendous bravery and resolve, of the Ukrainian people in defending their freedom. On the train to Kyiv, I was struck by how many fresh graveyards lined the railway tracks. I visited Bucha, just north of the capital, and heard about the horrors of Russian occupation. I also saw the efforts to rebuild a better, stronger Ukraine.

Should Ukraine Negotiate With Russia?

Dmytro Natalukha; Alina Polyakova and Daniel Fried; Angela Stent; Samuel Charap

In “An Unwinabble War” (July/August 2023), Samuel Charap makes the case that Washington should “start facilitating an endgame” for the war in Ukraine. His argument rests on his assumption that a definitive outcome is out of reach. Russia cannot conquer Ukraine, in his view, but neither can Ukraine expel Russian troops from its 1991 borders. Yet there is a reason that Ukraine defines victory as liberating every inch of its territory. Any territorial concession to Russia, even a small one, would invite further aggression. The pretext might be different, but the objective would be the same: subduing Ukraine. As long as it avoids outright defeat, Russia will use any disputed territory as a launching pad for its next round of expansion, as it did after the Minsk agreements that were supposed to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s paramount objective is to avoid a crushing defeat on the battlefield. Nothing less than the survival of his regime is at stake, as the humiliating mutiny led by the Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin demonstrated last month. Therefore, Russia needs to create at least the illusion of military achievement. Doing so will allow the Kremlin’s propaganda machine to spin a narrative of revanchism and stoke popular demands for further aggression against Ukraine. This was the playbook Russia followed in Chechnya in the first decade of the millennium, when Putin leveraged claims of success in the fight against “terrorism” to concentrate power, weaken democratic institutions, sideline local authorities, and pacify a rebellious region.

But even as Putin fights for his political life, many in the West are still considering short-term solutions that would help keep in him power. Sixteen months of war in Europe have not forged an unconditional anti-Putin coalition. Yet a unified Western policy on Putin, or rather on the need for his removal, is essential for marshaling the material support Ukraine needs to win a decisive victory on the battlefield. The sooner Western governments reach a consensus on Putin—as they did on Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Bashar al-Assad in Syria—the sooner Ukraine will be able to destroy Russia’s invading forces and bring the war to an end.

Ukraine Is Using Highly Advanced Artificial Intelligence In Its War With Russia: It’s “Out Of This World”

Artificial intelligence is showing up all over the place. And now, Ukraine is using it in its war against Russia. Ukraine has successfully engineered and deployed its unique artificial intelligence (AI) platforms. Brett Velicovich, a Fox News contributor in Ukraine, reported that the innovation on the Ukrainian battlefield is so advanced that Western governments struggle to keep pace with it. AI has been a crucial factor in Ukraine’s remarkable performance against its larger and ostensibly more potent adversary Russia. The advanced technology has offered Ukraine an array of benefits that would otherwise be unreachable. George Dubynskiy, Ukraine’s deputy minister of digital transformation, noted that the country’s decision to develop its AI platform has played a crucial role in its approach to the war. The Ukraine ministry assessed 10 different AI platforms before deciding to develop a unique platform. The platform, which launched in mid-2022, also enables Ukraine to use only the data it needs, avoiding potential mishaps of sending confidential information to commercial firms. Fox commented on the technology saying, “this innovation on the battlefield is out of this world right now.”

Opinion With the counteroffensive underway, 12 charts show the latest from Ukraine

Michael O’Hanlon, Constanze Stelzenmüller and David Wessel

Michael O’Hanlon is the Philip H. Knight chair in defense and strategy and director of the Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology at the Brookings Institution. Constanze Stelzenmüller is the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings. David Wessel is the director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings. The authors comment individually on the data that they and their Brookings Institution colleagues have gathered below.

Ukraine has begun its long-awaited counteroffensive after withstanding a months-long and ongoing battering from Russian missiles and drones. Nine new Ukrainian brigades, totaling perhaps 30,000 troops, with modern armored vehicles and well-trained soldiers (though little air power) are moving into action. But because Russia has prepared for them, they face uncertain prospects. Even the recent Putin-Prigozhin melodrama might not change the standoff substantially — though it is too soon to be sure how Wagner mercenaries will perform with their former leader on the ropes.

Russia’s economy has limped along better than expected, even as price caps on its oil and gas exports have limited the country’s revenue. Ukraine continues to have strong backing from most NATO countries and other like-minded states, including a steady supply of weaponry and financial and humanitarian aid. Russia has so far received military aid only from the likes of Iran and North Korea.

NATO is not yet ready to welcome Ukraine into the alliance. Much hinges on how the war proceeds over the next few months.
Stalemate continued

O’Hanlon: Ukraine’s territorial division by share of land mass remains only slightly changed since last fall. Sustained Russian attacks through the winter and spring around Bakhmut, in Ukraine’s east, yielded only modest gains for President Vladimir Putin; Ukraine’s counteroffensive to date has also had only modest effects. Russia still holds just over 17 percent of Ukraine, including the 7 percent (Crimea and eastern Donbas) that it stole from Kyiv’s control before its full-scale invasion began on Feb. 24 last year.

Spurred by Ukraine conflict, US Army conducts new tests of kinetic, microwave counter-UAS systems


WASHINGTON —The Russian military’s use of one-way attack drones, like Iranian Shahed-136s, against Ukrainian targets has prompted the Pentagon to ramp up its hunt for kinetic and high-powered microwave systems to down them before they can do damage, according to a US Army official.

“The threat is always going to evolve. We actually see this every day when we watch what’s happening in Ukraine and Israel and in other areas,” said Col. Michael Parent, the lead for the Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) group within the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO). “So that threat that’s evolving, will always be a challenge. And it’ll be a challenge for kinetic as well as [high-powered microwave], as well as a high-energy laser and any other effector, as well as sensors.”

To wit, C-sUAS were the stars of the show at Yuma Proving Ground last month as the Army tested out five companies’ solutions against single, group 3 (up to 1,320 pounds) one-way attack unmanned aerial systems, also known as suicide drones. It was the second demo in a row against such a threat set. But this time the service tested out new capabilities against threats traveling at a slant range of four kilometers or greater instead of at a slant range of two kilometers or greater, Parent told reporters today.

In the kinetic category this time around, Thales brought its Lightweight Multi-role Missile (LMM) that is a tripod that can be mounted on different platforms and fires laser guided missile. A proximity fuse on the missile goes off as it approaches the target. Three companies — Invariant, MSI Defense, and the Science Applications International Corporation — also showed off different ways to launch Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) guided rockets at large, one-way attack drones.

Unlike the previous event in the January-February timeframe, the service this time also looked at high-powered microwaves (HPM), specifically, Lockheed Martin’s Mobile Radio Frequency-Integrated UAS Suppressor (MORFIUS). That system is a tube-launched, fixed-wing UAS of its own that flies close to the targeted UAS and emits HPM pulses to down the aircraft.

Investment in Clean Energy Is Booming

The International Energy Agency expects $2.8 trillion of investment in energy this year, with roughly 60 percent of that going toward clean energy. In the past two years, clean energy investment has risen 24 percent compared with 15 percent for fossil fuels. Producers of fossil fuels reaped huge profits in 2022, but less than half their cash flow is going toward new supply. Unsurprisingly, Middle Eastern producers lead in terms of spending on new supply.

Why NATO Won’t Back Automatic Membership For Ukraine

Daniel Davis

As the NATO Summit opens in Vilnius, Lithuania, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would issue an invitation to Ukraine to join NATO when “members agree and conditions are met.” Zelensky fired back that NATO was showing “weakness” and that its unwillingness to issue a firm commitment was “absurd.” It doesn’t take much sober analysis of what has happened on the Ukrainian battlefield over the past seven months to understand NATO’s reticence.

Last fall, the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) had a series of major tactical victories. One of the most impressive came in the Kharkiv area of northern Ukraine. The UAF afflicted the Russian troops with a serious gash, recapturing a staggering six thousand square kilometers of territory in barely a month.

By November, under steady pressure from Ukrainian troops, the Russian Minister of Defense announced his troops would abandon Kherson city.

Zelensky claimed the twin victories marked “the beginning of the end of the war” for Kyiv.

The reality turned out to be different.

Russia On the March

Reeling from the failures, the Russians rushed stop-gap measures initially to stem the tide.

Putin ordered 300,000 troops mobilized. The Russian command rushed many of those mobilized troops directly into action to stop Ukraine’s forward progress in Kharkiv. Russian forces also blew up four bridges over the Dnieper River after their withdrawal from Kherson City to prevent any further UAF advances in the south. Those actions brought the Ukrainian offensives to a halt and solidified the frontlines.

US Needs More Holistic Response to Emerging Axis

Lawrence J. Haas 

With NATO’s latest gathering this week in Vilnius, Washington is understandably focused on what the United States and its allies should do next to help Ukraine rebuff Russia. Moscow’s invasion, however, is part of a larger, multi-nation challenge to which Washington has not yet developed a comprehensive response.

That challenge is the axis of deepening diplomatic, military, and economic cooperation between China, Russia, and Iran. Washington is responding to individual provocations in ways that seem to contradict one another.

To be sure, the China-Russia-Iran axis is no formal alliance; the relationship is more a marriage of convenience. What unites them is a deep antipathy to the U.S.-led global order, a desire to upend it, and a belief that the “American experiment” in self-government — as well as America’s global supremacy — are creaky and vulnerable to challenge.

For all their bluster, however, the regimes in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran are the ones that have more glaring vulnerabilities. And by confronting their expansionism more aggressively and promoting freedom for those who suffer under their autocratic rule, Washington could put these autocrats on their heels.

Here are three elements of a comprehensive, internally consistent approach that would boost U.S. global leadership.

First, Washington should promote NATO membership for Ukraine.

Seasoned foreign policy afficionados worry that doing so would draw Washington and its allies into a direct military confrontation with Moscow. But NATO’s Article V, which declares that an attack on one member “shall be considered” an attack on all, directs members to “assist” an attacked nation as they choose — and not inevitably with “the use of armed force.” The robust military and economic support that the West is already providing to Kyiv seems to constitute a reasonable Article V-like response to Moscow’s invasion.

Liberté, Disparité, Fraternité

David A. Andelman

The images without question were shocking—cars overturned and burning on the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe standing mute witness as mobs screamed through the streets demanding justice. But none of this was half as shocking as the few seconds on a cellphone camera that had already become seared into the national conscience here in France and far beyond—a police officer shooting in the head a defenseless seventeen year-old in his car at a routine traffic stop.

It’s hardly a new phenomenon. The French have been taking to the streets their manifold beefs against their leaders, their bureaucracy, and their state since the first revolutionaries burst into Versailles on October 6, 1789, and carried off Louis XVI, at the time ten years younger than the present ruler of France.

The host of deep-seated fault lines that have sent many into the streets here on so many occasions runs very deep. Vast disparities persist in rank, wealth, privilege, and opportunity between classes; and now—with the increasingly diverse nature of French society—in the distrust, fear, and hatred of individuals who do not look, sound like, nor believe in the same fundamentals as the bulk of the French people.

Perhaps none of this was brought home to me more immediately or viscerally than by a prescient remark from one of France’s great strategic thinkers—Count Alexandre de Marenches, the longest serving head of French intelligence and counselor to presidents from Charles de Gaulle to François Mitterrand.

"The greatest, perhaps mortal, danger for France is the vast community that is living within our nation whose language we do not speak, whose religion we do not embrace, whose customs we do not understand or accept,” he told me in the early 1990s, when we were working on our book The Fourth World War. This is still France's greatest danger today.

France is already sending Ukraine long-range missiles


France has begun delivering cruise missiles to Ukraine, weapons with the kind of range that the Biden administration has so far resisted sending.

“Deliveries have been going on for some time, so it has been anticipated,” said Laurent Bili, France’s ambassador to the United States, said at a Wednesday event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Bili spoke one day after French President Emmanuel Macron announced more vaguely that he had approved the transfer of deep-strike munitions.

"I have decided to increase deliveries of weapons and equipment to enable the Ukrainians to have the capacity to strike deeply,” Macron said.

Macron declined to say how many missiles would be sent. Reuters reported that the shipments would include 50 MBDA SCALP missiles drawn from existing French military stocks.

An unnamed French military source quoted by Agence France Presse yesterday likewise stated that deliveries were already underway.

SCALP is the French name for the Storm Shadow cruise missile, which Britain began sending in May.

“It has been a long discussion with the president,” Bili said. “The decision was made because we think it’s the right thing to do. We need to give Ukraine the means to win the war.”

The SCALP/Storm Shadow missile has a range of 250 kilometers, much farther than the 70-kilometer range of the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) weapons that the U.S. has given Ukraine.

Wagner fighters neared Russian nuclear base during revolt

July 11 (Reuters) - As rebellious Wagner forces drove north toward Moscow on June 24, a contingent of military vehicles diverted east on a highway in the direction of a fortified Russian army base that holds nuclear weapons, according to videos posted online and interviews with local residents.

Once the Wagner fighters reach more rural regions, the surveillance trail goes cold – about 100 km from the nuclear base, Voronezh-45. Reuters could not confirm what happened next, and Western officials have repeatedly said that Russia's nuclear stockpile was never in danger during the uprising, which ended quickly and mysteriously later that day.

But in an exclusive interview, Ukraine's head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said that the Wagner fighters went far further. He said that they reached the nuclear base and that their intention was to acquire small Soviet-era nuclear devices in order to "raise the stakes" in their mutiny. "Because if you are prepared to fight until the last man standing, this is one of the facilities that significantly raises the stakes," Budanov said.

The only barrier between the Wagner fighters and nuclear weapons, Budanov said, were the doors to the nuclear storage facility. "The doors of the storage were closed and they didn't get into the technical section," he said.

Reuters was not able to independently determine if Wagner fighters made it to Voronezh-45. Budanov did not provide evidence for his assertion and he declined to say what discussions, if any, had taken place with the United States and other allies about the incident. He also didn't say why the fighters subsequently withdrew.

A source close to the Kremlin with military ties corroborated parts of Budanov's account. A Wagner contingent "managed to get into a zone of special interest, as a result of which the Americans got agitated because nuclear munitions are stored there," this person said, without elaborating further.

A source in Russian occupied east Ukraine, with knowledge of the matter, said this caused concern in the Kremlin and provided impetus for a hastily negotiated end to the rebellion on the evening of June 24, brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Ransomware Attacks Are on the Rise, Again

AMID A CONCERTED effort by global law enforcement to crack down on ransomware attacks, payments to hackers and even the volume of attacks fell in 2022. But the trend doesn’t seem to be holding for 2023, and attacks have shot up again.

Data from cryptocurrency tracing firm Chainalysis indicates that victims have paid ransomware groups $449.1 million in the first six months of this year. For all of 2022, that number didn’t even reach $500 million. If this year’s pace of payments continues, according to the company’s data, the total figure for 2023 could hit $898.6 million. This would make 2023 the second biggest year for ransomware revenue after 2021, in which Chainalysis calculates that attackers extorted $939.9 million from victims.

The findings track with general observations from other researchers that the volume of attacks has spiked this year. And they come as ransomware groups have become more aggressive and reckless about publishing sensitive and potentially damaging stolen information. In a recent attack against the University of Manchester, hackers directly emailed the UK university’s students telling them that seven terabytes of data had been stolen and threatening to publish "personal information and research" if the university didn’t pay up.

“We think as a result of their budgetary shortfalls in 2022 we’ve seen these more extreme extortion techniques, ways to kind of twist the knife,” says Jackie Burns Koven, head of cyber threat intelligence at Chainalysis. “In 2022 we were very surprised to find that decline. Then we talked to external partners—incident response firms, insurance companies—and they all said, yeah, we’re paying less, and we’re also seeing fewer attacks.”

Chainalysis and other organizations attributed the slump in 2022 to a number of factors. Expanded security protections and preparedness played a role, as did the availability of decryption tools offered by private companies and the FBI to help ransomware victims unlock their data without paying attackers. Chainalysis also believes that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine impacted the day-to-day operations of a number of prominent ransomware groups, which are primarily based in Russia.

The Department of Defense’s digital logistics are under attack.

Jason Wolff

The threat is real and present. In May 2023, the United States discovered one of the most extensive cyber-espionage campaigns by a Chinese hacking group in the U.S. territory of Guam.1 This attack compromised critical communication and transportation infrastructure, raising concerns that it could degrade or disrupt the Department of Defense (DOD) logistics system, thereby endangering operations and resulting in the catastrophic loss of life and property. The United States must take steps to prevent this risk by hardening the DOD logistics system against incursions and better securing its logistical data across the digital line of communication. Logistics are foundational to U.S. global power projection and the ability to provide and sustain humanitarian aid/disaster relief or armed forces operations anywhere in the world.

The current DOD approach to logistics involves deploying multiple systems to support any operation, presenting vulnerabilities. This paper will examine the vulnerabilities in the DOD logistic systems and the weaknesses of transmitting logistic information over multiple non-classified systems. The recommendations are to immediately utilize supply chain risk management (SCRM) to integrate artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and distributed ledger technology (DLT) using blockchain and directed acyclic graph (DAG) transactions into existing systems to reduce risk and secure logistic information from external and internal attacks. This should be followed by the appointment of an executive agent with the authority to mandate a single DOD enterprise resource planning system. These actions would mitigate the DOD logistic system’s vulnerabilities, reduce opportunities for degradation or disruption by adversaries, and enable the United States to outpace adversaries and support allies now and in the future.

When a crisis happens, the DOD has logistical capabilities and systems to conduct and sustain operations in diverse environments. The primary function of logistics information is to synchronize the transportation and sustainment of people and equipment in those environments.2

AI and the next digital divide in Education

Michael Trucano

The evolution of the “digital divide”:

The first digital divide: The rich have technology, while the poor do not.

The second digital divide: The rich have technology and the skills to use it effectively, while the poor have technology but lack skills to use it effectively.

The third digital divide?: The rich have access to both technology and people to help them use it, while the poor have access to technology only.

The theme of the most recent Education World Forum (EWF), the world’s largest annual gathering of education ministers, was “new beginnings.” The program featured perspectives from education leaders from all over the world on a variety of topics, many of them evergreen: access to education; educational quality; equity; jobs; skills; the role of teachers; gender; and sustainability. Post-pandemic, more attention was paid to issues of building resilience in education systems than it had been in past years. Reflecting larger societal trends, discussions of the role of education vis-a-vis climate change were heard more often, and at a higher volume. However, one new topic did serve as a sort of thematic connective tissue across all three days of discussions, infusing doses of concern, confusion, worry, and excitement into considerations of whatever was on the formal agenda for ministerial deliberation: the potential role and impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in education.

I sat in on one well-attended and lively discussion session in which a participant recounted a recent assembly at a university in a lower-middle income country in Asia where a student asked a question about the use of ChatGPT—the chatbot that ignited the current explosion of excitement about AI use in education when it was released late last year. The head of the university quickly interrupted, noting that such questions were largely theoretical at the institution as the tool was not yet used in the country in any real way. The speaker then asked the few hundred students in the audience if they had ever used ChatGPT—100 percent of them raised their hands. (Eighty percent of the students kept their hands up when asked a follow-up question: “And how many of you have used it in the last 24 hours?”) Responses in the EWF event hall were a mix of looks of concern and knowing chuckles.

‘Network-centric’ security ‘killing us’ on JADC2 initiatives: USAF general


WASHINGTON — While the Air Force tries to ramp up its contribution to the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) initiative, a key official warned Monday that the US military’s “network-centric view of security is killing us.

“Our ability to push data in the places and to the people that need to get it right now is confined by whether or not you’re on a network that allows me to talk to you. My ability to scale from an ABMS perspective is significantly constrained by that fact,” Brig Gen. Luke Cropsey, the Air Force’s integrating program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications and Battle Management (C3BM), said during a discussion hosted by the Air & Space Forces Association when asked how the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) considers allies and partners.

To broaden JADC2 capabilities, Cropsey said he needs new tools to enable better data transfer, ones he cautioned would not materialize in a “silver bullet” solution.

“Until I get to a good identity management system that’s coupled in with a good zero trust capability that allows me to start to get to network-agnostic data flows, our ability to integrate both across services and with partners is going to continue to be challenged,” he said. Translated, he means operators need a simple and secure way to share data with whomever they want.

The Air Force recently overhauled its ABMS effort, and it’s now subsumed under what’s called the Department of the Air Force Battle Network. But ABMS is still continuing to develop the digital infrastructure that would enable various Battle Network efforts to plug into cloud-based command-and-control.

Though the data-sharing challenges remain, Cropsey said officials aren’t “waiting for the system to go figure that part of it out,” and are instead working within existing structures “to accommodate those things when and where we need to in order to get the mission done.”

SPECIAL REPORT: Navy Testing Secret JADC2 Technologies

Josh Luckenbaugh

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Navy has revealed little about its contribution to the Defense Department’s joint all-domain command and control initiative but has started experimenting with systems that will bring the concept to life at sea, service leaders say.

The Army has held annual Project Convergence experiments and Air Force leadership has openly discussed its plans for the Advanced Battle Management System, but the Navy has remained tight-lipped about Project Overmatch, the service’s component of the JADC2 initiative to connect sensors to shooters across all warfighting domains.

The aim of Project Overmatch is to “create a more interoperable force, allowing more pieces of the Navy — more ships, more aircraft, more unmanned systems later on — to be able to connect with one another and talk to one another, using the Navy’s wildly diverse collection of communication systems,” said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute.

Like the other services, the Navy has a variety of communication systems that are not necessarily interoperable, “and you have to create gateways that connect them together, or you’ve got to put multiple radios on everything in the force to be able to allow them to communicate,” Clark said in an interview. “What Project Overmatch is designed to do is” use software to translate “automatically between different communication systems,” he said.

Once operational, Project Overmatch will ultimately flow into a “joint command structure,” said Rear Adm. Doug Small, the commander of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command and the program manager for Project Overmatch. But while the “joint” part of JADC2 is important, each service faces different command-and-control challenges, he said.

“The operational architecture that we’re developing … is all about naval power on behalf of the Joint Force,” Small said during a panel discussion at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference in April. “That’s what the project is about. I can’t get into specifics — only thing I can say is that each service has unique needs for how to command and control forces” in the operating environment.