18 July 2023

Chinese Hackers Breached Government Email Accounts, Microsoft Says

Julian E. Barnes, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan

Chinese hackers intent on collecting intelligence on the United States gained access to government email accounts, Microsoft disclosed on Tuesday night.

The attack was targeted, according to a person briefed on the intrusion into the government networks, with the hackers going after specific accounts rather than carrying out a broad-brush intrusion that would suck up enormous amounts of data. Adam Hodge, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, said no classified networks had been affected. An assessment of how much information was taken is continuing.

Microsoft said that in all, about 25 organizations, including government agencies, had been compromised by the hacking group, which used forged authentication tokens to get access to individual email accounts. Hackers had access to at least some of the accounts for a month before the breach was detected, Microsoft said. It did not identify the organizations and agencies affected.

The sophistication of the attack and its targeted nature suggest that the Chinese hacking group was either part of Beijing’s intelligence service or working for it. “We assess this adversary is focused on espionage, such as gaining access to email systems for intelligence collection,” Charlie Bell, a Microsoft executive vice president, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday night.

Although the breach appeared to be far smaller in scale than some recent intrusions like the SolarWinds hack by Russia in 2019 and 2020, it could provide information useful to the Chinese government and its intelligence services, and it threatened to further strain relations between the United States and China.

Chinese PSCs in South Asia: The Case of Pakistan

Sergey Sukhankin

Executive SummaryBeing the central pillar of Beijing`s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) strategy in South Asia, economic and investment activities in Pakistan pose a series of security risks and challenges for the People’s Republic of China. For now, in pursuit of physical security of Chinese nationals and assets in the country, the Chinese side mainly relies on local security providers. Yet, given the growing number of security incidents and frequent inability of the Pakistani side to ensure the safety of those Chinese nationals working in the country, Beijing has intensified its requests concerning the option of using its own security providers on Pakistani soil.

While several Chinese private security companies (PSCs) are known to have operated on Pakistani territory, their activities were not conducted on a permanent basis; nor were the Chinese permitted to either use force or act independently from their Pakistani counterparts.

Public perception of the prospects for Chinese PSCs’ deployment in Pakistan—acting on a permanent basis and as de-facto semi-independent agents—is viewed negatively by Pakistani experts, policymakers and politicians. In addition to growing anti-Chinese sentiments (in certain parts of the country that are particularly dependent on the BRI), the deployment of Chinese PSCs in Pakistan might lead toward a surge of Sinophobia in the country, which most likely will be used by Islamic radicals and underground militants for their own purposes.

The majority of Pakistani experts do not believe that Chinese PSCs will be deployed in Pakistan (on a permanent basis) anytime soon. Nor do they believe that they will become an effective tool in solving the grave security issues faced by Chinese nationals in the country. They believe instead that deployment of Chinese PSCs might result in both further aggravation of the security milieu in the country and lead toward a weakening of ties between Islamabad and its other strategic partner, the United States.

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.”

The Myth of Neutrality

Richard Fontaine

As the U.S.-Chinese rivalry intensifies, other countries increasingly confront the dilemma of siding with either Washington or Beijing. This is not a choice that most countries wish to make. Over the past decades, foreign capitals have come to enjoy security and economic benefits from association with both the United States and China. These countries know that joining a coherent political-economic bloc would mean forgoing major benefits from their ties to the other superpower.

The chips battle

David Leonhardt

Good morning. We’re covering the fight over semiconductors with China, a strike of Hollywood actors and Wimbledon’s strawberries.

Publicly, the U.S. and China have turned down the heat recently on their relationship. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have both visited Beijing in recent weeks partly to improve communication between the two countries. “President Biden and I do not see the relationship between the U.S. and China through the frame of great-power conflict,” Yellen said at the end of her trip.

But the underlying reality is unchanged: The U.S. and China remain competitors for global supremacy. The two countries are great powers, and they are often in conflict.

Look at what’s happened since Yellen returned home on Sunday:

U.S. officials announced that in the run-up to Blinken’s trip last month, hackers apparently affiliated with the Chinese government broke into the email accounts of top U.S. officials, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, a noted critic of China’s policies. The spy balloon that flew over the U.S. early this year may have received more attention, but the hacking of high-level email accounts seems more belligerent.

Biden administration officials appear close to announcing rules restricting American firms from investing in many cutting-edge Chinese technology companies. Advocates say the rules are intended to keep Americans from financing threats to U.S. national security. Biden’s aides have held off on announcing the policy, partly to avoid disrupting the recent diplomatic outreach. (Here is a Times story with more details.)

The U.S. continues to enforce a strict set of restrictions intended to hamper China’s ability to produce advanced semiconductors. The Biden administration put the restrictions in place Oct. 7. “If you’d told me about these rules five years ago, I would’ve told you that’s an act of war — we’d have to be at war,” said C.J. Muse, a semiconductor expert at Evercore ISI, an investment advisory firm.

Choke points

Chinese Scientists Are Leaving the United States

Christina Lu and Anusha Rathi

Facing an increasingly suspicious research climate, a growing number of Chinese scientists are leaving the United States for positions abroad, the latest indicator of how worsening U.S.-China relations are complicating academic collaboration and could hamstring Washington’s tech ambitions.

Microsoft: China accused of hacking US government emails

Annabelle Liang

China-based hackers have gained access to the email accounts of around 25 organisations, including government agencies, Microsoft says.

The software giant has not provided details of where the government agencies are based.

However, the US Department of Commerce has confirmed to the BBC that Microsoft notified it about the attack.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo was among the individuals impacted by the breach, according to reports.

"Microsoft notified the Department of a compromise to Microsoft's Office 365 system, and the Department took immediate action to respond," a US Department of Commerce spokesperson told the BBC.

"We are monitoring our systems and will respond promptly should any further activity be detected," they added.

US media reported that the State Department had also been targeted by the hackers.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a BBC request for comment.

China's embassy in London told the Reuters news agency that the accusation was "disinformation" and called the US government "the world's biggest hacking empire and global cyber thief."

Microsoft said the China-based hacking group - which it refers to as Storm-0558 - had accessed email accounts by forging digital authentication tokens required by the system. The tokens are typically used to verify a person's identity.

"Storm-0558 primarily targets government agencies in Western Europe and focuses on espionage, data theft, and credential access," the firm said.

U.S. Must Change the Game on Taiwan

In the western movie Hombre, villain Richard Boone swaggers up a hill to order an outgunned Paul Newman to hand over the cash. Rifle in hand, Newman replies, “I have one question: How are you getting down that hill?” Newman then shoots him.

That’s called changing the frame of reference. Similarly, it’s time to change the frame of reference about Taiwan. Chairman Xi Jinping intends to control that island of 24 million people by 2027. The U.S. has said it may defend Taiwan, or it may not. For half a century, that “strategic ambiguity” has served America well. U.S. policy recognizes neither China’s sovereignty over Taiwan nor Taiwan as a sovereign country. China’s bellicosity has increased, however, while the U.S. response has been tractable. Obviously, Xi is pushing for the U.S. to treat Taiwan as a local conflict between two feuding Chinese neighbors and stay out of the fight.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has recommended Admiral Sam Paparo to be the new chief of naval operations (CNO). Admiral Sam Paparo should disabuse both Xi and the U.S. foreign-policy community of the notion that a fight for Taiwan is local. In so doing, there is a strong naval precedent for the new CNO to follow. In the late ’70s, the U.S. foreign-policy community was focused on the threat of a Soviet blitzkrieg against Western Europe. In that context, our Navy was seen as largely irrelevant. This concerned Admiral Jimmy Holloway, the chief of naval operations at the time. According to a history of that period, “Holloway initiated a rigorous study at the Naval War College in 1977. Called Sea Plan 2000, the study proposed an aggressive approach to the use of naval forces in the Cold War.”

As the director of Sea Plan 2000, I met with Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, who doubted that a NATO war would leap to other theaters or heavily involve the U.S. Navy. He approved, as a test, war games with hundreds of participants. War games, while a limited tool that cannot predict war’s outcome, do indicate trends. Year after year, the NATO-versus-Warsaw Pact/USSR game went global, with the U.S. Navy attacking Russia’s flanks and eliminating its surface fleet and submarines. Gradually, the consensus of the foreign-policy community changed. Under President Reagan, an aggressive secretary of the Navy, John Lehman, conducted naval exercises near key Russian bases. Gorbachev later remarked that the demands of his admirals for more resources for defense were a factor in his conclusion that the Soviet Union could not compete with America. The U.S. Navy had upset the Soviet hope to restrict the concept of battle to the European landmass, where the Soviets enjoyed a numerical advantage.

Shaky China: Five scenarios for Xi Jinping's third term

In March 2023, Xi Jinping sealed a third term in power heading both the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese state. In “Xi III”, China is entering a phase of increasing uncertainty. Whatever path China takes will have serious implications for its own people and the rest of the world. This study lays out five scenarios for China’s path over the coming years to help formulate strategic responses.

The baseline scenario of the report is a “Shaky China”. In this unstable "status quo" scenario, China’s economy, politics and engagement with the world follow the trends seen at the outset of Xi’s third term in office: the centralization of power, slower growth and external pressure. 


Whether this less stable and less predictable China becomes the “new normal”, or whether the country experiences more radical shifts, will depend on developments in different political, economic and technological arenas. 
Scenario methodology

The scenarios described in this study were developed at MERICS in 2022, with methodological guidance from the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI). They identify key factors, analyze their interactions and seek to create plausible, coherent pictures of the future. 
Scenario descriptions

European policy makers and private businesses alike need to understand the realities of a more “Shaky China” and the possibility of a shift into more extreme scenarios. The other scenarios outlined in the report are "Confrontational China", "Successful China", "Restrained China" and "Reform China". 

China’s global debt holdings are increasingly a liability for Beijing

Will China stall new plurilateral debt rescheduling or gain status in a new international framework?

Many developing economies have been pitched into dire financial circumstances by the toxic mix of the Covid-pandemic, high prices for food and commodities, a stronger US dollar and heightened financial uncertainties. In the last three years, there have been as many sovereign defaults as in the previous decade, which already had a substantial number of default in the aftermath of the global financial crisis . These simultaneous crises have reactivated international discussions among creditors on how to develop a coordinated approach to international debt rescheduling. Amid the pandemic, the G20 and official lenders groups (the Paris Club) launched the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) at first, and later the Common framework in 2020 to provide more structural debt relief in close coordination with IMF programs.

The novel feature of these debt rescheduling negotiations is that a “developing economy” – China – is a participant on the lender-side. China is not just a creditor. In most cases it is the largest creditor. And, true to its revisionist approach to the international economic order, Beijing has its unique approach to international lending and debt restructuring. For international development lending, it favors higher rates, has higher appetite for risk, less transparency and bigger loans. Its debt restructuring is also uniquely opaque and bilateral. The world of official lending has its faults, but past crises have pushed traditional lenders to establish some constraints, especially some transparency, for loans and restructuring, to avoid chaotic, standalone restructurings.
The biggest external risk to China’s economy is a novel one

In a decade, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has become the major bilateral lender to developing countries (which with market-debt, mostly bonds on foreign markets, makes up for the external debt of countries). China went from being marginal actor to the number one official creditor, investing USD 450 billion in net lending.

How to End a War: Some Historical Lessons for Ukraine

Russia has failed to achieve its stated purpose of taking political control of Ukraine, but still appears able to sustain the war at its current level. There is no prospect that the West will recognise Russia’s de jure the annexation of Ukrainian territory. Within the West, however, disagreement may arise on the means, pace or conditions of the restoration of full territorial integrity. If Ukraine’s counter-offensive yields meaningful gains, Ukraine and its Western partners might consider a dispensation analogous to the ‘Adenauer option’.

History is replete with wars between states that turned out to be either considerably shorter or substantially longer than any of the belligerents had expected. In just the last century, there was the Arab–Israeli Six-Day War in 1967, on the one hand, and the Sino-Japanese War that started as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 and lasted eight years, on the other. The latter conflict arguably began even earlier, in 1931, with rogue Japanese forces’ act of sabotage, which led to Japan’s limited takeover of Manchuria.1

The Russian war against Ukraine is not untypical of historical precedent, ancient or recent, and indeed bears some resemblance to the multiple-step Sino-Japanese War – right down to the Kwantung Army’s insubordination, which is broadly analogous to the Wagner Group’s recent mutiny. The war began with a minimal-force invasion of Crimea, a Ukrainian region that Russia annexed in March 2014, followed by lethal proxy operations in parts of the Donbas, another Ukrainian region. It became a geographically confined war, with more than 14,000 fatalities, including hundreds of Russian soldiers.2 On 24 February 2022, Russia undertook a full-scale attempt to seize the capital of Ukraine and to invade and occupy the country as a whole. Similar in conception to the largely bloodless Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 and the lethal and initially effective takeover of Kabul on 27 December 1979, this so-called ‘special military operation’ failed in its political objective of replacing the incumbent Ukrainian government, which the Kremlin expected to fall within four days.3 It did succeed in rapidly infiltrating a swathe of northern Ukraine up to Kharkiv and a broad expanse of southern Ukraine. At the peak of the invasion in March–April 2022, the Russians occupied close to 140,000 square kilometres, more than one-fifth of the territory of Ukraine, which is the largest wholly European country. At the time of writing, Moscow’s troops held some 109,395 square kilometres, including the territory linking Crimea and the Donbas and most of Luhansk oblast, as well as the regions occupied before 24 February 2022, namely Crimea and much of Donetsk.

The US and its faux ‘rules-based order’

Assal Rad

There was an intense exchange last week between Western parties and Iran and Russia after Ukraine was invited to join a U.N. Security Council meeting on the implementation of resolution 2231 — which endorsed the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The U.S., UK and France argued that Iran supplying drones to Russia was a violation of the JCPOA which impacts Ukraine directly, giving it the right to be present. Russia and Iran countered that the decision to include Ukraine was political and inappropriate, given that Ukraine is not a party to the JCPOA.

Whatever the specifics of this debate, it is indicative of a larger problem that plagues the ethos of internationalism. On one hand, Iran’s violations of the nuclear agreement are pertinent to the discussion of resolution 2231. However, Iran’s violations can only be understood in the context of U.S. violations of the deal. After all, it was the U.S. that unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed broad-based sanctions in violation of the JCPOA while Iran was in full compliance.

Yet, if one listens to the rhetoric of the West — even the U.S., which was the original wrongdoer — that context is entirely absent from the discussion.

Despite the fact that President Biden lambasted the Trump administration for the decision to quit the deal and suggested he would return to it during his presidential campaign, the Biden administration has yet to formally return the United States as a party to the agreement. Unlike the Obama administration that compartmentalized the JCPOA talks and focused on the nuclear issue — the same logic that informed arms treaties between the United States and the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War — the Biden administration has essentially maintained Trump era policies vis-à-vis Iran rather than returning to the policies of the administration he served as vice president.

Rather than fixing an issue of its own making, the U.S. has masked the growing nuclear predicament with Iran in the pretense of Iranian violations of the deal and issues outside the nuclear file. The case of the JCPOA, including U.S. violations of the deal and its obstinate refusal to accept responsibility, reveal a larger dilemma in the West and of U.S. foreign policy specifically: hypocrisy.

How Much Aid Has the U.S. Sent Ukraine? Here Are Six Charts.

Jonathan Masters and Will Merrow

Every year, the United States sends billions of dollars in aid—and much more than any other country—to beneficiaries around the world in pursuit of its security, economic, and humanitarian interests.

Heading into 2022, U.S. foreign assistance was driven by various priorities of the Biden administration, including combating climate change, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and countering authoritarianism. But since Russia’s invasion in February of that year, Ukraine has become far and away the top recipient of U.S. foreign aid. It’s the first time that a European country has held the top spot since the Harry S. Truman administration directed vast sums into rebuilding the continent through the Marshall Plan after World War II.

Since the war began, the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress have directed more than $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine, which includes humanitarian, financial, and military support, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German research institute. The historic sums are helping a broad set of Ukrainian people and institutions, including refugees, law enforcement, and independent radio broadcasters, though most of the aid has been military-related. Dozens of other countries, including most members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union, are also providing large aid packages to Ukraine.

Just How Much Aid Has the U.S. Sent to Ukraine?

Bilateral aid to Ukraine between January 24, 2022, and May 31, 2023

Grants and loans provided through the Foreign Military Financing program

The biggest obstacle to Ukraine’s counteroffensive? Minefields.

Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kamila Hrabchuk

ZAPORIZHZHIA REGION, Ukraine — In a painstakingly slow process that has come to define the speed of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, small groups of sappers on the front lines are crawling across minefields — sometimes literally on their stomachs — to detonate Russia’s defenses and clear a path for troops to advance.

The long buildup to the counteroffensive, which began about a month ago across multiple segments of the battlefield in the country’s east and south, gave the Russians time to prepare, soldiers said. Areas between 3 and 10 miles deep in front of the Russians’ main strongholds have been densely mined with antitank and antipersonnel mines and trip wires. These defenses have been successful in stalling the Ukrainian advance, they said.

As a result, Kyiv’s forces have changed strategy, Ukrainian military personnel said. Rather than try to break through with the infantry fighting vehicles and battle tanks that Western allies provided to aid Ukraine in this counteroffensive, units are moving forward, slowly, on foot.

“You can no longer do anything with just a tank with some armor, because the minefield is too deep, and sooner or later, it will stop and then it will be destroyed by concentrated fire,” Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s military chief, said recently in an interview with The Washington Post.

Ukraine’s struggles on minefields have exposed vulnerabilities of the personnel carriers and tanks — especially the newly arrived American Bradley fighting vehicles and German Leopard tanks — that officials had hailed as being key for Ukraine to seize back occupied territory from the Russians. The vehicles have won praise from soldiers — even after they’ve hit mines, most people inside survive with just minor injuries — but they have not been able to breach Russia’s defenses alone. Zaluzhny has said modern fighter jets, such as the U.S.-made F-16, and other systems are needed to better support ground operations.

Information warfare is the new battlefield facing the U.S.

Drew Varner 

With the Fourth of July now behind us, it is crucial to reflect on the significance of our independence and sovereignty. Safeguarding our liberties is a responsibility we must uphold, as America faces psychological attacks on multiple fronts. We find ourselves amidst what experts refer to as fifth generation warfare, specifically information warfare. Distinguished researchers from Virginia, Drs. Jill and Robert Malone, are diligently studying and documenting this fifth Generation Warfare in their forthcoming book titled “PsyWars: The 21st Century Battlefield.” Newsletter Email newsletter signup Sign up for our daily email newsletter According to the Malones, fifth-gen warfare builds upon strategies and tactics of asymmetric and insurgent warfare, integrating both conventional and unconventional military methods, including the exploitation of political, religious, and social causes. This modern form of warfare leverages the internet, social media and the 24-hour news cycle to manipulate the cognitive biases of individuals and organizations. It can be conducted by various groups, organized or decentralized, and led by nation states, non-state actors, organizations, NGOs, or even individuals. 

An essential characteristic of fifth gen warfare is its concealed nature, aiming to disrupt and defeat opponents by instilling new cognitive biases. This style of warfare employs a combination of truth and falsehood to achieve a particular outcome—propaganda. The intention is to use falsehoods to persuade and weaponize the American mind, aligning it with the agenda of those in control. Presently, this psychological warfare permeates various aspects of American society, including schools, social media, television, mainstream media,and involves foreign agents, pseudo statesmen, federal government agencies and wealthy individuals. It is our duty to resist this psychological warfare and safeguard the minds of our children from being weaponized. Today’s warfare differs significantly from conflicts of the past, and we should not expect it to conform to traditional notions. 

After Suffering Heavy Losses, Ukrainians Paused to Rethink Strategy

Lara Jakes, Andrew E. Kramer and Eric Schmitt

Ukrainian recruits in the Azov regiment disembarking from an American tactical vehicle during training in March.Credit...Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Lara Jakes reported from Rome, Eric Schmitt from Washington and Andrew E. Kramer from Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.
July 15, 2023

In the first two weeks of Ukraine’s grueling counteroffensive, as much as 20 percent of the weaponry it sent to the battlefield was damaged or destroyed, according to American and European officials. The toll includes some of the formidable Western fighting machines — tanks and armored personnel carriers — the Ukrainians were counting on to beat back the Russians.

The startling rate of losses dropped to about 10 percent in the ensuing weeks, the officials said, preserving more of the troops and machines needed for the major offensive push that the Ukrainians say is still to come.

Some of the improvement came because Ukraine changed tactics, focusing more on wearing down the Russian forces with artillery and long-range missiles than charging into enemy minefields and fire.

But that good news obscures some grim realities. The losses have also slowed because the counteroffensive itself has slowed — and even halted in places — as Ukrainian soldiers struggle against Russia’s formidable defenses. And despite the losses, the Ukrainians have so far taken just five of the 60 miles they hope to cover to reach the sea in the south and split the Russian forces in two.

One Ukrainian soldier said in an interview this week that his unit’s drone picked up footage of a half-dozen Western armored vehicles caught in an artillery barrage south of the town of Velyka Novosilka.

Russians told 'hour of reckoning has come' as TV sabotage exposes country's brutal losses


A pro-Ukranian group is thought to be behind a major hack of Russian state television this week. The hack meant that millions of ordinary Russians watched a Ukraine defence ministry video as they tuned into their usual TV programmes. The infiltration exposed the reality of the war in Ukraine, as the hack broadcast footage of attacks by Ukrainian forces on Russian troops.

The warzone clips also showed Ukrainian forces advancing on the battlefield.

This was then followed with a message in Ukrainian, accompanied by the crest of its defence ministry, warning: "The hour of reckoning has come."

Following the Ukrainian military footage, ballet clips of Swan Lake appeared on the screen.

This appears to be a historical Russian reference, as Swan Lake was played on a loop after the deaths of Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko.

The hack meant that millions of ordinary Russians watched a Ukraine defence ministry video (Image: SOCIAL MEDIA)

It was also broadcast on state television again during the attempted overthrow of Mikhail Gorbachev, which hastened the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.

The sabotage hit mainstream state TV channels in multiple time zones across the Urals and Siberia.

Channel One, the biggest television station in Russia, as well as Zvezda, which is owned by the Russian defence ministry, were both affected.

Ren TV, a channel run by President Vladimir Putin’s long-rumoured lover Alina Kabaeva, was also hacked.

Rishi Sunak responds to Ben Wallace's Ukraine comments

Prigozhin's Other Rebellion

Andreas Umland

Known until recently only among Eastern Europe experts, the sixty-two-year-old leader of the Kremlin-affiliated private military company Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has become world famous. The one-day, unsuccessful but nonetheless spectacular violent show of force by the mercenary chief and his heavily armed group revealed the fragility of the Putin system. It has abruptly been proven that the Russian emperor has no clothes.

What has received less attention within the context of the uprising is Prigozhin's questioning of a central Kremlin justification for Russia's ongoing attack on Ukraine. Since February 2022, Putin and other Kremlin spokesmen have repeatedly claimed that Russia's aggression against Ukraine is a preemptive and defensive war. Even some Western observers consider Putin's claim that NATO is threatening Russia to be a legitimate argument.

In contrast, Prigozhin announced in a video message on June 23, 2023, shortly before the start of his "March for Justice" on Moscow:
Nothing extraordinary had happened on February 24, 2022. The Russian Defense Ministry is fooling the public, now pretending that Ukraine behaved insanely aggressively, as if Ukraine and all of NATO wanted to attack us. The special operation that began on February 24 has a completely different background.

Prigozhin then attacked the Russian military leadership. The latter, he said, had been bent on a quick victory in Ukraine and subsequent promotions in Moscow:
What was the war necessary for? The war took place for a bunch of crap to simply triumph, to present themselves in public and show what a strong army they are. […] The war was not necessary for bringing back to our area de facto Russian citizens. Not for demilitarizing and denazifying Ukraine. The war was necessary for a star [on the epaulette of Sergei Shoygu]. [...]

How We Can Help Ukraine While Genuinely Prioritizing Asia


It seems increasingly clear that the demands of sustaining Ukraine’s defense against Russia will be enduring. We can hope that there will soon be a just and durable end to this conflict, but predicating our strategy on such a hope would be imprudent. Rather, we must assume that Russia will remain a threat to Ukraine and NATO for the foreseeable future. This means America and Europe need to prepare for the long-haul in addressing European security, even as America must urgently shift to prioritizing readying for a conflict with China in the Western Pacific.

It is critical to think clearly and realistically through this prism about how to prevent Russia from subordinating Ukraine. Crucially, this must be done with a forthright, clear-eyed recognition that China and Asia must be the priority for our military, geopolitical, and economic efforts. A war in the Western Pacific is distinctly possible in this decade, losing it would be catastrophic, and we are not preparing for it with the urgency, scale, or focus needed.

Rectifying this must be the absolute overriding priority of U.S. efforts in every respect. Any resources that could be useful for defeating a Chinese attack along the first island chain should be reserved to that end. This includes strike weapons like HIMARS, ATACMS, GMLRS, and tactical UAVs as well as defensive systems such as Patriot, NASAMS, Harpoons, Stingers, and Javelins that Taiwanese or U.S. defenders could use to degrade an invasion force. Importantly, it also includes things other than weapons, including money, political capital, intelligence resources, and defense industrial base attention and capacity.

But that is by no means the same as saying the U.S. should stop helping Ukraine. To the contrary, the U.S. has an important interest in Ukraine’s survival. Most significantly, if Russia subsumed Ukraine or so weakened it as to be able to use it as a basis for attacks against NATO, then a Moscow that appears to be mobilizing for long-term confrontation with the West would pose a more significant and direct threat to Europe. It is in America’s interest to avoid that outcome by ensuring Ukraine can defend itself effectively, but we must pursue that interest in a manner consistent with our highest priority of restoring a formidable denial defense along Asia’s first island chain. There is a way to do that.

To defeat Russia, Ukraine’s top commander pushes to fight on his terms

Isabelle Khurshudyan

Now, Ukraine’s top commander in a war with a Russian force larger and better-equipped than his own is asking himself a new question: How can I reduce the loss of life? He starts each morning by learning how many soldiers were killed or wounded following his orders the day before. Sometimes he stumbles across a contact in his cellphone who is dead. He refuses to delete them.

Zaluzhny said he’s saving the grieving for later. Mourning now would distract him from his important work as the man Ukrainians trust to keep them safe and Western partners trust with billions in security assistance. Both expect him to re-create Ukraine’s earlier underdog success on the battlefield.

But if it were up to Zaluzhny alone, this is not how he would get the job done. He would fight with air superiority. He would fire back at least as many shells as the Russians are firing at his troops. And he would have cruise missiles that could match Moscow’s. Instead, modern fighter jets, such as the U.S.-made F-16, are not expected on the battlefield until next year. Ukraine’s ammunition supply is constrained, with the Russians often shooting three times as much in a day.

And Western allies, citing fears of escalating the war with Russia, have placed a condition on the longer-range missiles and other materiel they’ve so far provided: They can’t be used to strike Russian soil.

So, Zaluzhny said, he uses weapons made in Ukraine for the frequent strikes across the border that Kyiv never officially acknowledges as its own.

“To save my people, why do I have to ask someone for permission what to do on enemy territory?” Zaluzhny recently told The Washington Post in a rare interview. “For some reason, I have to think that I’m not allowed to do anything there. Why? Because [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will … use nuclear weapons? The kids who are dying don’t care.

Hydrogen Is the Future—or a Complete Mirage

Adam Tooze

With the vast majority of the world’s governments committed to decarbonizing their economies in the next two generations, we are embarked on a voyage into the unknown. What was once an argument over carbon pricing and emissions trading has turned into an industrial policy race. Along the way there will be resistance and denial. There will also be breakthroughs and unexpected wins. The cost of solar and wind power has fallen spectacularly in the last 20 years. Battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) have moved from fantasy to ubiquitous reality.

Ukraine’s ground counteroffensive ushers in a new phase of the conflict in cyberspace

Cyberattacks against Ukraine have surged, linked to attacks on the ground, but their effectiveness has been blunted, according to observers including the deputy chairman of Ukraine’s cyber warfare service.

As its campaign against Ukraine grinds on well into its second year, Russia appears to be making greater use of hacktivists, "patriotic" cybercriminals, and mercenaries in its attacks on the smaller nation. Meanwhile, Western countries neighboring Russia, including recent NATO entrant Finland, have seen an upsurge in hostile attacks that pose a threat to both businesses and government institutions.

Attacks by Russia against Ukraine's government, media outlets and utilities predate the full-scale invasion of its southern neighbor by Russian forces in February 2022, stretching back to the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Notable attacks include the NotPetya wiper malware in June 2017 and attacks on Ukraine's power grid in December 2015 that temporarily left about 225,000 customers without power. The latter was subsequently attributed to Sandworm, a unit of Russian military intelligence (GRU).

With the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, feared attacks leading to the degradation of critical infrastructure services failed to materialize -- thanks to the experience, preparations, and expertise of Ukrainian cyber-defenders. Assistance by Ukraine's Western allies also helped to build resilience in the face of determined assaults.
Russia's cyberattacks against Ukraine have surged

Cyberattacks have nonetheless continued throughout the conflict, accompanied by something of an upsurge in activity since the start of 2023. The Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA) handled 701 incidents between January and April of 2023, with utilities at the sharp end of attacks. About a quarter of the attacks were aimed at government agencies and the military with many of the remainder targeting the power grid, finance, transport, telecoms, and other elements of Ukraine's critical infrastructure. This compares to 2,194 attacks logged by CERT-UA throughout the whole of 2022.

Military planes should be built with quantum technology in mind: UK official


A wireframe fighter jet sits on a computer chip. (Getty images / Breaking Defense graphic)

RIAT 2023 — Military use of quantum computing is still in the theoretical stages, but Western nations need to be designing their next-gen aircraft with the ability to use that technology when its ready, the UK’s Minister of State for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, proclaimed Thursday.

Addressing delegates in his keynote address at the Global Air Chiefs conference in London, Heappey said the “arrival of quantum” would be the “really big threshold” which could unlock the full potential of “AI automation.” And given that jets being flown and designed today will be in service for decades to come, nations need to be planning right now for how to incorporate quantum in the future.

“All of them will be in service when quantum computing arrives so we have to be able to buy aircraft, design aircraft, where the moment that those computers are good to go, you can rip out whatever’s in there and chuck in the quantum computer, because I think that this is a ‘tank versus cavalry,’ ‘machine guns versus humans’ moment,” he said.

Quantum computing has implications across a host of national security applications, from quickly cracking traditional encryption to building ultra-precise sensors and navigation systems. But while the US government and others have played with the technology for years, no one can say how close it is to practical applications.

Yet, Heappey urged the conference, which featured air force leaders from around the world, that quantum computing would “change warfare in the most profound way”.

“At the moment, that thing that holds us back from being able to understand where a target is in the entire noise of the battlespace, is our ability to crunch the data. Very often it comes back to human judgement,” he said. Quantum computing could process the “vastness of the noise of the ocean; the vastness of the business of the skies; or the vastness of everything that’s happening within a human population on land.

As Russia intercepts another US drone over Syria, official warns ‘triumvirate’ with Iran to force US out


An MQ-9 Reaper flies a training mission over the Nevada Test and Training Range, July 15, 2019. MQ-9 aircrew provide dominant, persistent attack and reconnaissance for comabtant commanders and coalition partners across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Rio Rosado)

WASHINGTON — Alongside yet another intercept of a US drone flight today, the Russian military also conducted a reconnaissance mission over the American garrison at al-Tanf in Syria, moves that a senior defense official said represent a “triumvirate” between the Russian, Syrian and Iranian governments to push the US military out of Syria.

“I see evidence of operational-level planning between mid-level [Iranian] Quds Force leadership that’s operating in Syria, Russian forces that are operating in Syria — kind of the same basic level, mid-level to upper echelon. And then with the Syrian regime, of course, we know they’re very tightly tied with the Russians,” the official told reporters on background at the Pentagon today.

“So that kind of leads to a triumvirate,” they continued. “The way I would characterize it is collaborative planning, collaborative understanding, intelligence sharing. Frankly the same sorts of things that we would do with our partners in the face of something we were trying to accomplish, we see them doing that on their side as they try to think about how they sync the different things that different arms of them are doing in order to put that pressure on us.”

Russian activity against the United States in Syria — where American troops are still fighting the remnants of the Islamic State (ISIS) — has ramped up since March, the official observed, most recently culminating in three separate incidents of Russian fighter jets harassing US drone flights last week.

“My assessment, and we have some evidence to support this, is that as Russia and Iran have pulled themselves closer together, that there is interest on both sides to push us out of Syria, to put a pressure campaign on us to have us leave,” the official said, pointing to the drone intercepts as a key example.

Intel leaders, White House argue for keeping digital spy powers


The controversial law used to digitally spy on foreigners in other countries is widely misunderstood, according to lawmakers and others who want to re-up the expiring legislation. The problem, they say, is that the information that could convince skeptics is largely classified.

“We desperately need to get 702 reauthorized,” Sen. Mark Warner, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Wednesday during the confirmation hearing for the next head of the National Security Agency. “We have not done a very good job, the [intelligence community] and the FBI and the administration, in making clear that the 702 we're talking about today is very different than the 702 that was reauthorized back in 2018,” he said, referencing reforms the FBI made to how it uses the database after the FISA court uncovered abuses that including “broad, suspicionless” queries.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows intelligence agencies to spy on foreigners that are not located in the U.S., but who use its infrastructure. The tool, a queryable database that can be accessed without a warrant, is used to prepare the president’s daily brief and has also been flagged for inadvertently collecting Americans’ data. Authority to use it is set to expire in December.

It’s a divisive law and practice. Intelligence leaders and some members of Congress support the reauthorization, while other lawmakers align with civil liberties groups that worry the law—even with reforms—infringes on Americans’ privacy. House members have been pushing for more reforms since earlier this year.

Jonathan Finer, the White House’s principal deputy national security advisor, said the administration is “prepared” to make changes to 702 that strengthen privacy and oversight, while keeping the tool viable.

It’s Time to Create a National Registry for Large AI Models


People around the world understandably greeted the seemingly sudden arrival of generative AI models like ChatGPT with a mix of enormous interest and more than a little confusion. Reacting to the remarkable new capabilities of these models, the White House convened an urgent meeting with the tech company CEOs developing the technology while the U.S. Congress debated potential options and G7 countries scrambled to consult about next steps.

Some observers warn about the enormous power of these models and the catastrophic or even existential risk they may pose. Others say this is Silicon Valley hype distracting from real problems like inequality and conflict. More tempered responses train attention on how this technology can help solve those very problems while also voicing concern about how generative AI could empower oppressive regimes or destabilize society. What if current or future models are used to produce dangerous biological or chemical weapons, for example, or they become widely available to North Korea or Russia?

These questions—and just about any other serious queries about the future of AI—make one thing perfectly clear: the public and government leaders lack sufficient visibility to know how to judge this moment in history, and who might be responsible for the benefits and risks that generative AI will bring. What policymakers know about existing generative AI models is entirely a function of what the relevant companies have chosen to disclose. Only the companies building this technology know what they are building or what safety tests they are performing, and even they can only guess about what their peers have. The public lacks a way to know who is building even more powerful models, and to whom those models may be made available.

That’s why the first step countries should take is to gather basic information about who is training the most sophisticated large generative models—a goal that can be accomplished through a simple process of registration that would furnish governments with basic insights into who is developing models and whether there is substantial risk that their use might violate export control limits or other laws.

Registration is a familiar feature of modern legal systems. Corporations are subject to registration so people and other businesses can have confidence that a company with which they are transacting is not a sham or a front for illegal activity. Broker-dealers of securities register with the government. So do companies handling nuclear materials for civilian purposes, or labs handling dangerous pathogens or toxins.

Artificial Intelligence: Cheat Sheet

Aminu Abdullahi

Discover the potential of artificial intelligence with our comprehensive cheat sheet. Learn more about the concepts, platforms and applications of AI.We may be compensated by vendors who appear on this page through methods such as affiliate links or sponsored partnerships. This may influence how and where their products appear on our site, but vendors cannot pay to influence the content of our reviews. For more info, visit our Terms of Use page.

Artificial intelligence comes in many forms, from simple tools that respond to customers via a chat to complex machine learning algorithms that predict the trajectory of an entire organization. Despite years of overpromising, AI doesn’t comprise sentient machines that reason like humans. Rather, AI encompasses more narrowly focused pattern matching at scale to complement human reasoning.

In order to help business leaders understand what AI capabilities are, how to use artificial intelligence and where to begin an AI journey, it’s essential to first dispel the myths surrounding this huge leap in AI technology.

What is artificial intelligence?

AI is largely a pattern-recognition tool that can run at a scale that’s dramatically beyond any human, yet never quite replaces humans. Even at its best, AI delivers acceptable, though not perfect results, giving people the ability to step in, observe the data and reason from there.

Note that while we use AI throughout this cheat sheet, most enterprises actually engage with a subset of AI called machine learning or deep learning. We’ll use AI here as a shorthand that includes machine learning and deep learning.

Gartner: Due to stress, half of cyber leaders will change jobs, and a quarter will quit the field

Karl Greenberg 

Among the strategic propositions in Gartner's 2023-2024 cybersecurity outlook are that organizations need to institute cultural changes to lower pressure on security teams.We may be compensated by vendors who appear on this page through methods such as affiliate links or sponsored partnerships. This may influence how and where their products appear on our site, but vendors cannot pay to influence the content of our reviews. For more info, visit our Terms of Use page.

Gartner’s 2023-2024 cybersecurity outlook, which the consultancy presented this week, contains good news and bad. There has been a significant shift from three years ago when chief information security officers were struggling to exert board-level influence.

Partly due to emerging technologies such as Web 3.0, conversational artificial intelligence, quantum computing and supply chains, along with increasingly sophisticated attacks, security leaders now have more influence in the C-suite. However, as Craig Porter, director advisory for Gartner’s Security Research and Advisory team said, “Threat actors have access to powerful tools like ChatGPT, which can generate polymorphic malware code that can avoid detection, or even better, write a convincing email. What a fun time to be a security professional!”

What is compromising security? Teams under stress

Gartner predicts that by 2025 nearly half of cyber leaders will change jobs, with 25% moving to different roles entirely due to multiple work-related stressors.

“It’s another acceleration caused by the pandemic and staffing shortages across the industry,” said Porter, adding that security teams are in the spotlight when things go wrong, but not celebrated when attacks aren’t successful.

Generative AI Defined: How It Works, Benefits and Dangers

Owen Hughes 

The likes of ChatGPT and DALL-E, both from OpenAI, are rapidly gaining traction in the world of business and content creation. But what is generative AI, how does it work and what is all the buzz about? Read on to find out.

What is generative AI?

In simple terms, generative AI is a subfield of artificial intelligence in which computer algorithms are used to generate outputs that resemble human-created content, be it text, images, graphics, music, computer code or otherwise.

In generative AI, algorithms are designed to learn from training data that includes examples of the desired output. By analyzing the patterns and structures within the training data, generative AI models can produce new content that shares characteristics with the original input data. In doing so, generative AI has the capacity to generate content that appears authentic and human-like.
How does generative AI work?

Generative AI is based on machine learning processes inspired by the inner workings of the human brain, known as neural networks. Training the model involves feeding algorithms large amounts of data, which serves as the foundation for the AI model to learn from. This can consist of text, code, graphics or any other type of content relevant to the task at hand.

Once the training data has been collected, the AI model analyzes the patterns and relationships within the data to understand the underlying rules governing the content. The AI model continuously fine-tunes its parameters as it learns, improving its ability to simulate human-generated content. The more content the AI model generates, the more sophisticated and convincing its outputs become.

Examples of generative AI

Legion-X: Israel’s Elbit demonstrates man-machine teaming from UAS to ground robots


Breaking Defense attended a demonstration of Israel’s Elbit Systems’s autonomous technology in June 2023. (Seth Frantzman / Breaking Defense)

CENTRAL ISRAEL — In a dry field bordered by stands of trees and brush in central Israel are several sleek containers, each roughly the height of a person and several feet wide. They have doors on the top. Two of them open, each revealing a drone inside.

One by one, the large quadcopter drones lift off. Their buzzing soon fades after they rise several dozen meters into the air and fly off to scan a nearby field. Meanwhile two six-wheeled unmanned vehicles roll forward. One of them releases its own drone on a tether and the other ground vehicle, which has a weapon station with a machine gun, prepares to target a potential threat. Each of the systems work together, and the data they gather, including video and where they are in relation to one another, is projected onto a screen at a nearby observation post.

The drones working in combination to observe, investigate, track and target, were part of a demonstration put on by Israel’s Elbit Systems, which hoped to spotlight what unmanned capabilities, teamed with human operators, can achieve. The networked tech, dubbed Legion-X technology, is designed to link variety of unmanned systems, in this case the company’s Thor drones and Rook unmanned vehicle. The company sees the capability as an asset in the cross-domain digital space, knitting together different platforms and units. They describe this as connecting holistic elements into a “digital battlefield.”

Elbit says Legion-X is “an autonomous networked combat solution based on robotic platforms and heterogeneous swarms. … Designed to support a wide range of human-machine teaming (HMT) operations, Legion-X enables connectivity and control of air, sea (surface and sub-surface) and land (terrain and sub-terrain) unmanned platforms.” The company says Legion X can serve missions at forward operating bases, at the tactical ground forces level, or in urban warfare scenarios, among other areas.