20 July 2023

If India Has a Natural Ally, It’s Probably France

Mohamed Zeeshan

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, France, to mark the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the strategic partnership, July 14, 2023.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a charm offensive overseas, as he seeks to shore up his image as a global statesman ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections. Last month, Modi went to the United States and Egypt. This month, he has already visited France and the United Arab Emirates.

Much is made of India’s strategic partnership with the United States. In Washington last month, U.S. President Joe Biden called it “one of the defining relationships of the 21st Century.” Last year, his Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called India and the U.S. “natural allies.”

Yet, of all those countries which Modi visited, France is perhaps the one with which India has the most common ground.

Take defense — the backbone of India-U.S. ties in contemporary times. In recent years, India has tried to diversify its defense supplies, which have traditionally been dominated by Russia. But even as New Delhi has done that, the biggest winner has not been the United States but France.

Before 2016, France accounted for less than 5 percent of India’s annual arms imports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). But between 2018 and 2022, some 30 percent of India’s arms came from that country. France is now India’s second-largest arms supplier behind Russia and ahead of the U.S.

Part of this is because France is more able and willing than the U.S. to share advanced technology at affordable prices. As one report by the Stimson Center in Washington put it, “The United States is seen as a second-tier technology partner behind Russia, Israel, and France in terms of ease of working with U.S. companies, technology-sharing, and costs.”

G-20 Finance Chiefs to Address Global Challenges Like Climate Change and Rising Debt

Krutika Pathi

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the G-20 finance ministers meeting at Gandhinagar, India, July 17, 2023.Credit: Twitter/G20 India

Finance ministers from the Group of 20 nations meeting in India on Monday are poised to address critical global economic challenges, including the threats posed by climate change and rising debt among low-income countries.

India, which is hosting the global grouping, said the G-20 will focus on strengthening the global economy as growth remains uneven and below average.

“What we need are coordinated international efforts to navigate this challenging period,” India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her opening remarks ahead of the meetings being held in Gandhinagar, a city in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

Earlier on Monday, Sitharaman and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the two countries were working together to further the group’s agenda. They spoke after holding talks on the sidelines of the G-20 meetings, a sign of the importance of their countries’ relationship at a time of tension with China.

“The world is looking to the G-20 to make progress on key challenges like climate change and pandemics as part of our work to strengthen the global economy and to support developing countries,” Yellen said.

Sitharaman said a priority for the G-20 and host India is strengthening global development banks and reaching a consensus on “intractable issues associated with rising indebtedness of low and middle-income countries.” Yellen added that it was vital to “press for more ambition and specific reforms” with respect to global development banks.

Both leaders emphasized the need to tackle debt issues facing low- and middle-income countries and to improve the multilateral debt restructuring process.

How the Taliban Suppressed Opium in Afghanistan—and Why There's Little to Celebrate


For years, the international community tried and failed to rein in Afghanistan’s drug economy, which in 2021 amounted to at least 14% of the country’s GDP. But the Taliban, which swept into power that August after the U.S. withdrawal, appears to have now suppressed opium poppy cultivation by almost 90%. On the surface, that is a remarkable development. Vast, illegal drug production amplifies corruption, predatory rapaciousness, and lawlessness helped bring down the U.S.-backed Afghan Republic, not to mention setting off high addiction rates. But suppressing opium production without offering economic alternatives creates grave socioeconomic harms to the already suffering Afghan people. And it is setting up the world for far worse public health consequences.

According to David Mansfield of consulting firm Alcis, the Taliban’s enforcement of its 2021 ban on drug production more or less wiped out poppy cultivation in Helmand and Nangahar, two major production areas. The countrywide decline seems to be on par with the Taliban’s highly effective poppy ban in 2000. And just like then, the economic and social consequences of the ban are severe.

The Taliban has been remarkably effective in maintaining brisk trade and crucial minerals exports, stabilizing the Afghan economy, significantly reducing corruption in taxes and customs, and generating some $2 billion in yearly revenues—the same as what the Afghan Republic did under far more generous international circumstances. But according to Mansfield’s estimates, the current opium ban has cost the Afghan economy $1.3 billion and 450,000 jobs at the farm-level alone, and that doesn’t include the high economic losses downstream. What’s more, most of the Taliban’s budget is used to fund its military and security apparatus, leaving little for the Afghan people. As the economist Bill Byrd puts it, the Taliban’s economic stabilization is one of a “famine equilibrium.” With 90% of the population stuck in poverty, what has kept Afghans from starving is humanitarian aid. Yet that aid has been rapidly declining this year—by at least $1 billion out of the $3 billion provided in 2022.

Pakistan’s New Nuclear Strategy Is a Crisis in the Making

Manpreet Sethi Radm Sudarshan Shrikhande Arun Sahgal

Proposals to deploy front-line tactical nuclear weapons, on the basis that India will not respond to their usage, is folly. Yet that is precisely what Pakistan’s military leadership is seemingly proposing.

At the recent NATO summit in Vilnius, world leaders expressed concern over Russia’s nuclear posture and the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, given the ongoing conflict between Russia and Western-backed Ukraine. Yet the international community also ought to pay attention to equally-as-important developments in the Indian subcontinent. A recent speech by Pakistan’s Lt. General Khalid Kidwai has sent shockwaves across the region, potentially signaling that Islamabad may have just changed its own nuclear doctrine, and not for the better.

If implemented, these changes could be highly destabilizing not just for the region, but also for the rest of the world. Washington ought to take notice and consider this development will affect its Indo-Pacific strategy.

The Nuclear “Horizontal” and “Vertical”

Kidwai’s speech, delivered on the 25th anniversary of Pakistan’s nuclear tests, matters for two major reasons.

The first reason is that it came from Kidwai himself. As the former head of the Strategic Plans Division—which administers all policies and strategies regarding Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs—and an adviser to the country’s National Command Authority, Kidwai is one of Pakistan’s most senior and decorated generals. He has been described as the mastermind behind Pakistan’s nuclear policy and deterrence doctrines, and “the architect” of the country’s nuclear energy program. He is, in effect, the foremost author and authority on Pakistan’s nuclear strategy.

Meet Al-Mahatta: Hezbollah’s New Digital Mouthpiece

Rany Ballout

Employing a rhetorical claim of “independent, but not neutral” journalism and utilizing YouTube, this channel engages in a malicious propaganda campaign that ultimately benefits Hezbollah.

Confrontational and often accusatory, Al-Mahatta, a Lebanese YouTube channel, is emerging as a de facto digital mouthpiece for Hezbollah. Its aim is to consolidate its influence by gaining a broader digital audience while continuing to cater to its well-established constituency in Lebanon.

The success of this channel should come as no surprise, as many members of Al-Mahatta’s team are either originally from or still affiliated with Al Akhbar—a Beirut-based, daily leftist Arabic newspaper widely regarded as a mouthpiece for Hezbollah. Despite Al-Mahatta’s attempts to present itself as a novelty in the Lebanese media landscape, employing a rhetorical claim of “independent, but not neutral” journalism and utilizing YouTube—a popular platform for political commentary in the Arab world—the familiar language and recurring themes clearly demonstrate that Al-Mahatta’s coverage is nothing more than an audiovisual extension of Al Akhbar’s agenda.

The Origins and Agenda of Al-Mahatta

To better understand Al-Mahatta, it is necessary to explore its precursor, Al Akhbar.

Conceived in the aftermath of the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006, it was emerged out of an alliance between the Lebanese left and Hezbollah (and its allies) in opposition to the neoliberal economic policies initially championed by the late Lebanese former prime minister Rafik Hariri in the 1990s. To this day, it unabashedly articulates resistance against Israel and holds an anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal stance, particularly against U.S. policies in the Middle East.

Takshashila SlideDoc - China’s Quest for Innovation and Technological Advancement

China’s rapid advancement in various domains of science and technology have become a topic of significant interest. There have been several explanations that seek to explain how China has been able to compete with established players, especially the United States in bolstering its domestic innovation potential. However, some common explanations such as forced technology transfer, industrial espionage, theft or state capitalism do not entirely explain how China has been able to become one of the global innovation powerhouses.

Several foundational factors such as strengthening its basic health and education metrics, along with 'Creative Insecurity' due to geopolitical competition with the US have facilitated improvements in China's innovation capacity. Furthermore, China's unique political and bureaucratic structure allows it to implement a top-down approach to policymaking. Through what has been described as "Selective Authoritarian Mobilisation and Innovation Model," China has often sought to promote research and development through this top-down approach. This ranges from direct state intervention, buying machinery from abroad, facilitating easy access to finance, promoting foreign direct investment and even industrial espionage. These policy tools have had varied levels of success. Download the Full Report (PDF)

Xi Jinping’s foreign minister has vanished from public view. His prolonged absence is driving intense speculation

Nectar Gan

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang has not been seen in public for three weeks, an unusually long absence during a busy period of diplomatic activity in Beijing, sparking intense speculation in a country known for its political opaqueness.

Qin, 57, a career diplomat and trusted aide of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, was promoted to foreign minister in December, after a brief stint as ambassador to the United States.

As foreign minister, Qin has delivered searing rebukes of Washington after relations plunged to a new low in the aftermath of a suspected Chinese spy balloon that was shot down over the US.

He has also played a key role in subsequent efforts by both sides to stabilize rocky ties and restore communication, including meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his visit to Beijing in mid-June.

But the high-profile diplomat has not been seen in public since June 25, after he met with officials from Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Russia in Beijing.

In his last public appearance, a smiling Qin was seen walking side by side with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko, who flew to Beijing to meet with Chinese officials after a short-lived insurrection by the Wagner mercenary group in Russia.

“Given China’s status and influence in the world, it’s indeed very strange that its foreign minister has not appeared in public for more than 20 days,” said Deng Yuwen, a former editor of a Communist Party newspaper who now lives in the US.

When asked about Qin’s prolonged absence at a press briefing Monday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said she had “no information to provide,” adding that China’s diplomatic activities are being carried out as usual.

China finalizes first-of-its-kind rules governing generative A.I. services like ChatGPT

Arjun Kharpal

Chinese regulators on Thursday said it finalized first-of-its-kind rules governing generative artificial intelligence as it looks to ramp up oversight of the rapidly-growing technology.

The powerful Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said it worked with several other regulators to come up with the new regulation that will come into effect on Aug. 15.

Generative AI is a fast-growing area of technology in which artificial intelligence services are able to generate content such as text or images.

Chinese regulators on Thursday finalized first-of-its-kind rules governing generative artificial intelligence as the country looks to ramp up oversight of the rapidly growing technology.

The powerful Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said it worked with several other regulators to come up with the new regulation that will come into effect on Aug. 15.

Generative AI is a fast-growing area of technology in which artificial intelligence services are able to generate content such as text or images. ChatGPT, developed by U.S. firm OpenAI, is the most well-known example and allows users to prompt the chatbot and receive replies to queries.

Chinese Private Security Companies in Latin America

Leland Lazarus and R. Evan Ellis

Security guarding Chinese President Xi Jinping run alongside the car transporting him in Quito, Ecuador, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Xi Jinping is in Ecuador for two days before heading to Peru for the APEC summit.Credit: AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa

The enormous expansion of global engagement by China and its companies over the past two decades has generated a corresponding need to protect Chinese operations and personnel in the dangerous environments where they sometimes operate. Awareness of such needs for protection among the Chinese public was most obviously expressed in the “Wolf Warrior” movies, in which Chinese citizens working abroad are threatened by foreign mercenaries and must be rescued.

The need to evacuate Chinese citizens from Libya in 2011 and Yemen in 2015 due to political turmoil in those countries, as well as recent attacks against Chinese nationals in Pakistan, highlighted the imperative for Beijing to protect its people, as well as its growing military and other capabilities for doing so. It also illustrated how China’s desire to project itself as respectful of the sovereignty of other nations – reflected in its 2015 Military Strategy and 2019 Defense Strategy White Papers – restricts its options for official military action.

China-based companies have responded to these risks to their overseas operations through a combination of working with local authorities and contracting private security companies (PSCs). In recent years, private security companies have begun to form in China to support operations both at home and abroad. The proliferation of Chinese PSCs has arguably been based on the presumption that the cultural familiarity, common language, and relationships with fellow Chinese will give such companies an inside track with Chinese companies in need of protection.

By 2022, there were an estimated 7,000 Chinese PSCs, with 20-40 such PSCs operating abroad in as many as 40 countries.

How America Can Escape China’s Rare Earth Pincer

J. Peter Pham

Bookending Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s recent fence-mending trip to Beijing were two largely overlooked, but nonetheless ominous, developments which demonstrated unambiguously China’s dominance over global supply chains for critical minerals needed for the energy transition because of their use is essential in various applications—including electric vehicles (EVs), wind turbines, and solar panels. Unless the United States and its allies can escape the pincer, their ambitions for net-zero carbon emissions—to say nothing of those for other future technological innovations—may well be stillborn.

China’s Rare Earth Metals Monopoly

On July 3, citing national security interests, Chinese authorities announced export restrictions beginning next month on gallium and germanium, two metals that are key to high-speed computer chips and fiber optic cables as well as some sensitive military uses like night-vision and satellite imagery. China produces 80 percent of the world’s supply of gallium and 60 percent of that of germanium. Beyond the implications for chipmakers and other manufacturers, the move sparked concern about supply chains for rare earth elements (REEs)—the group of seventeen metals with strategic applications in defense, aerospace, energy, and transportation technologies—over which China has an even tighter grip, controlling more than 90 percent of global output. After the Independence Day holiday, even President Joseph Biden tweeted, “China has dominated the production of raw materials needed for critical products for too long.”

But what is even more telling is what has happened with REEs, prized for their strong magnetic properties allowing for energy efficiencies in EVs and other electric devices as well as military uses, including lasers, missile guidance systems, aircraft, and satellites. Instead of rising as watchers might have expected given the export curbs on the gallium and germanium, the price of praseodymium neodymium alloy, for example, subsequently sunk to its lowest level since 2020, down more than two-thirds since January of last year. While part of this is attributable to a slackening of demand—new wind power installations are down globally—a significant part of this appears to be intentional policy. As one analyst told Reuters, “If you’ve got 90 percent market share of magnet processing capacity, there’s a goldilocks price where you earn a return but you don’t encourage anyone else in the rest of the world to build capacity.”

China’s Export Restrictions on Germanium and Gallium Shake Up Global Order

Marina Yue Zhang

Two metallic elements, tucked deep within the periodic table, have emerged as key drivers of world politics. On July 3, China’s Ministry of Commerce and China Customs announced export controls on gallium and germanium products (including compounds), effective August 1. This action, aimed at “safeguarding national security and interests,” according to Chinese officials, has stirred global panic within various industries, governments, and media outlets.

Although these two rare metals only account for several hundred million dollars in global trade—a figure that pales in comparison with the chipmaking industry’s value of over $600 billion—they are critical strategic resources in the defense and high-tech sectors. Infrared optics, fiberoptic communications, solar cells, and compound semiconductors are useless without them. Any disruption in the supply of these metals would therefore unsettle downstream markets valued in the trillions of dollars.

Further exacerbating the anxiety is China’s dominance in the global supply of these metals. In 2022 alone, China manufactured 90 percent of gallium-related products and 68 percent of germanium-related products. Chinese authorities argue that export restrictions on products involving these metals are standard international practice and not targeted at any specific country.

Weaponizing Critical Minerals

China’s role in the technological competition with the United States bears similarities to an apprentice learning from its master by leveraging its dominance in critical technologies or resources. China appears to be employing a “chokepoint strategy”—weaponizing its stronghold over these critical rare metals.

China’s strategic use of these minerals conveys a compelling narrative. Despite the chokepoints it faces in its chipmaking supply chain—stemming from limited access to critical technologies, a gap it might close independently over the next five to eight years—the potential disruption in the supply of these essential metals could stymie the United States and its allies’ progress in defense-related and high-tech manufacturing.

Deterrence Won’t Stop China’s Unification with Taiwan

Jinghao Zhou

This article expresses my understanding of the viewpoints regarding the U.S. deterrence strategy over potential Taiwan Strait conflicts, made by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, Mark Milley, on June 30, 2023. By examining the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) principle of unification with Taiwan in the context of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and explaining why the continuation of implementing this historical mission is unstoppable in the new era, I attempt to argue that relying solely on deterrence to stop Xi Jinping’s ambition would be imprudent and could even jeopardize U.S. national security although the deterrence strategy influences China’s decision-making process. I hope that the three parties, the PRC, Taiwan, and the United States, will reevaluate their strategies and adopt the right approach to promote peaceful triangular relations.

When Milley gave a speech at a National Press Club event in Washington on June 30, 2023, he commented on Xi’s stance on Taiwan. According to Milley, there is no concrete evidence suggesting that Xi has made a firm decision on ordering a military unification with Taiwan by 2027, but the decisionmaking process is still underway. Milley suggested the United States and its allies build up deterrence to ensure that every single day Xi wakes up and says today is not that day, and that decision never comes.

It is understandable when Milley emphasizes the significance of a deterrence strategy in influencing China’s decision-making process based on the historical experience of U.S. foreign policy and implementation. However, it would be imprudent and could even jeopardize U.S. national security if the policymakers believe that the deterrence strategy alone could change Xi’s determination to fulfill China’s historical mission of reunification of Taiwan in the context of China and the vision of the CCP.

Assessing U.S. Data Policy Toward China: A Proposed Framework

Samm Sacks, Peter Swire

Access to and use of personal data is at the forefront of the U.S.-China technology conflict. Republicans and Democrats have found common ground in the concern that unacceptable national security and privacy risks arise from Beijing’s access to U.S. persons’ data through open commercial channels. Over the past several years, U.S. policymakers have expanded their earlier focus on cyber theft and industrial espionage to grapple with new risks posed by Chinese firms handling U.S. persons’ data or data flowing to China by data brokers or other means.

According to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines (as cited in support of a bill requiring licenses to export certain personal data to China and other countries): “There’s a concern about foreign adversaries getting commercially-acquired information as well, [I] am absolutely committed to trying to do everything we can to reduce that possibility.”

The Biden administration and Congress are building on the effort (which started in the Trump administration) by putting forward a range of measures that aim to create new guardrails for data flows to China. These include executive orders and rules for reviewing transactions involving foreign adversaries’ access to U.S. persons’ sensitive data, bans on Chinese software applications, and creating blacklists of countries approved to receive U.S. persons’ data as an export-controlled item, among other actions. Many proposals remain in draft form, unresolved amid debate that does not map onto political party lines.

To date, we have not seen any systematic approach to address what limits on data flows should apply and for what reasons. In a new report, published with the Cross Border Data Forum, we offer a framework to conceptualize current U.S. data policy toward China, identifying four distinct policy models and analyzing the costs and benefits of each, drawing on the perspectives of trade and economics, national security, and privacy. Rather than advocate for a particular policy solution, our aim is to inform policymaking by discussing the ripple effects of different options.

Four Models

Blast on Vital Bridge Linking Russia to Moscow-Annexed Crimea Leaves 2 Dead. Here's What to Know

A helicopter drops water to stop fire on Crimean Bridge connecting Russian mainland and Crimean peninsula over the Kerch Strait, in Kerch, on Oct. 8, 2022. Traffic on the key bridge connecting Crimea to Russia’s mainland has been halted on July 17, 2023 amid reports of explosions.

Vehicle traffic on the single bridge that links Russia to Moscow-annexed Crimea and serves as a key supply route for the Kremlin’s forces in the war with Ukraine came to a standstill Monday after one of its sections was blown up, killing a married couple and wounding their daughter.

Rail traffic across the 19-kilometer (12-mile) Kerch Bridge also stopped but resumed after about six hours.

The strike was carried out by two Ukrainian sea drones, Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee said.

Ukrainian officials were coy about taking responsibility, as they have been in past strikes. But in what appeared to be a tacit acknowledgment, Ukrainian Security Service spokesman Artem Degtyarenko said in a statement that his agency would reveal details of how the “bang” was organized after Ukraine has won the war.

White House Defends Plan to Send Ukraine Cluster Munitions

The attack was the second major strike on the bridge since October, when a truck bomb blew up two of its sections.

Video posted by Crimea 24 online news channel showed a section of the bridge tilted and hanging down, but there was no indication any portion had fallen into the water.

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.


Jon Schwarz

WHAT DOES ELON MUSK firing 6,500 people at Twitter have to do with the Writers Guild of America and actors in SAG-AFTRA going on strike? How is Meta axing 21,000 employees connected to more and more doctors wondering if they have to unionize? And how is this all related to Donald Trump taking a government map of Hurricane Dorian’s projected path in 2020 and scrawling on it with a Sharpie?

The answer is that America’s owners have opened a new front in their battle against everyone else, declaring war on the class of technocrats who once were their greatest allies.

In Adam Smith’s famed 1776 disquisition on economics, “The Wealth of Nations,” he ponders the behavior of the “great proprietors” of feudalism. They owned the most valuable property available — i.e., land — and with their income from this property supported a class of attendants and retainers, and, below them, a class of tenants of the land.

But the proprietors gradually lost the taste for this. They eventually wished to consume “the whole surplus produce of their lands … without sharing it either with tenants or retainers. All for ourselves and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.”

“The Wealth of Nations” is full of this kind of ferocious criticism of the psychology of the powerful, so it’s peculiar how today’s powerful champion the book so frequently. There was even a vogue among male members of the Reagan administration for wearing ties with little pictures of Adam Smith. The most likely explanation here is America’s top apparatchiks don’t waste their time reading stuff.

Russia halts landmark deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain at time of growing hunger


LONDON (AP) — Russia on Monday halted a breakthrough wartime deal that allowed grain to flow from Ukraine to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where hunger is a growing threat and high food prices have pushed more people into poverty.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Black Sea Grain Initiative would be suspended until demands to get Russian food and fertilizer to the world are met. An attack Monday on a bridge connecting the Crimean Peninsula to Russia was not a factor in the decision, he said.

“When the part of the Black Sea deal related to Russia is implemented, Russia will immediately return to the implementation of the deal,” Peskov said.

Russian representatives at the operation center for the initiative were more definitive, calling the decision “a termination,” according to a note obtained by The Associated Press. Russia has complained that restrictions on shipping and insurance have hampered its agricultural exports, but it has shipped record amounts of wheat since last year.

The suspension marks the end of an accord that the U.N. and Turkey brokered last summer to allow shipments of food from the Black Sea region after Russia’s invasion of its neighbor worsened a global food crisis. The initiative is credited with helping reduce soaring prices of wheat, vegetable oil and other global food commodities.

Ukraine and Russia are both major global suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other food that developing nations rely on.

The suspension of the deal sent wheat prices up about 3% in Chicago trading, to $6.81 a bushel, which is still about half what they were at last year’s peak. Prices fell later in the day.

Some analysts don’t expect more than a temporary bump in food staples traded on global markets because countries such as Russia and Brazil have ratcheted up wheat and corn exports. But food insecurity worldwide and prices at local stores and markets have risen as developing countries also struggle with climate change, conflict and economic crises. Finding suppliers outside Ukraine that are farther away also could raise costs, analysts say.

The grain deal provided guarantees that ships would not be attacked entering and leaving Ukrainian ports, while a separate agreement facilitated the movement of Russian food and fertilizer. Western sanctions do not apply to Moscow’s agricultural shipments, but some companies may be wary of doing business with Russia.

After Suffering Heavy Losses, Ukrainians Paused to Rethink Strategy

Lara Jakes, Andrew E. Kramer and Eric Schmitt

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.

“They all burned,” said the soldier, who identified himself as Sgt. Igor. “Everybody is hoping for a big breakthrough,” he said, adding a plea that those scrutinizing from afar appreciate the importance of slow and steady advances.

Small, Hidden and Deadly: Mines Stymie Ukraine’s Counteroffensive

Andrew E. Kramer

Andrew E. Kramer has been reporting from near the front lines of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south.

It was a grisly scene of bloody limbs and crumpled vehicles as a series of Russian mines exploded across a field in southern Ukraine.

One Ukrainian soldier stepped on a mine and tumbled onto the grass in the buffer zone between the two armies. Nearby lay other Ukrainian troops, their legs in tourniquets, waiting for medical evacuation, according to videos posted online and the accounts of several soldiers involved.

Soon, an armored vehicle arrived to rescue them. A medic jumped out to treat the wounded and knelt on ground he deemed safe — only to trigger another mine with his knee.

Five weeks into a counteroffensive that even Ukrainian officials say is off to a halting start, interviews with commanders and soldiers fighting along the front indicate the slow progress comes down to one major problem: land mines.

The fields Ukrainian forces must cross are littered with dozens of types of mines — made of plastic and metal, shaped like tins of chewing tobacco or soda cans, and with colorful names like “the witch” and “the leaf.”

Ukraine grain deal expires after Russia pulls out

Antoinette Radford & Kathryn Armstrong

The deal allowing Ukraine to safely export grain via the Black Sea has officially expired after Russia pulled out of the crucial agreement.

Moscow notified the UN, Turkey and Ukraine on Monday that it would not renew the deal, accusing the West of not keeping its side of the bargain.

The decision has been condemned by world leaders, who say it will affect some of the planet's poorest people.

Russia said it would return to the agreement if its conditions were met.

The deal formally came to an end at midnight Tuesday Istanbul time (2100 GMT). It had let cargo ships pass through the Black Sea from the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had long complained that parts of the deal allowing the export of Russian food and fertilisers had not been honoured. In particular, he said grain had not been supplied to poorer countries, which was a condition of the agreement.

Russia also repeatedly complained that Western sanctions were restricting its own agricultural exports. Mr Putin repeatedly threatened to pull out of the agreement.

The country's foreign ministry on Monday reiterated these grievances, accusing the West of "open sabotage" and of "selfishly" putting the commercial interests of the deal ahead of its humanitarian goals.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters he believed that Mr Putin "wants to continue the agreement" and that they would discuss the renewal of the deal when they meet in person next month.

The grain deal is important as Ukraine is one of the world's largest exporters of sunflower, maize, wheat and barley.

Ukraine’s top general, Valery Zaluzhny, wants shells, planes and patience

Isabelle Khurshudyan

KYIV, Ukraine — For Ukraine’s counteroffensive to progress faster, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the top officer in Ukraine’s armed forces, says he needs more — of every weapon. And he is telling anyone who will listen, including his American counterpart, Gen. Mark A. Milley, as recently as Wednesday, that he needs those resources now.

In a rare, wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post, Zaluzhny expressed frustration that while his biggest Western backers would never launch an offensive without air superiority, Ukraine still has not received modern fighter jets but is expected to rapidly take back territory from the occupying Russians. American-made F-16s, promised only recently, are not likely to arrive until the fall — in a best-case scenario.

His troops also should be firing at least as many artillery shells as their enemy, Zaluzhny said, but have been outshot tenfold at times because of limited resources.

So it “pisses me off,” Zaluzhny said, when he hears that Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive in the country’s east and south has started slower than expected — an opinion publicly expressed by Western officials and military analysts and also by President Volodymyr Zelensky, though Zaluzhny was not referring to Zelensky. His troops have gained some ground — even if it’s just 500 meters — every day, he said.

“This is not a show,” Zaluzhny said Wednesday in his office at Ukraine’s General Staff headquarters. “It's not a show the whole world is watching and betting on or anything. Every day, every meter is given by blood.”

“Without being fully supplied, these plans are not feasible at all,” he added. “But they are being carried out. Yes, maybe not as fast as the participants in the show, the observers, would like, but that is their problem.”

For the past 16 months, Zaluzhny, 49, has had the monumental challenge of leading Ukraine’s military against a larger, better-armed Russian force that still occupies about one-fifth of his country, even after successful counteroffensives last fall. He has managed it, in part, by transforming his soldiers into a modern, nimble force, schooled in NATO tactics, and by shedding the overly centralized Soviet-style command structure that was still in place when he first entered training.

Ukraine’s Powerful Stryker Brigade Is Still Waiting For the Order To Join The Counteroffensive

David Axe

Nearly six weeks into Ukraine’s long-anticipated 2023 counteroffensive, one of the Ukrainian military’s most powerful units—the new 82nd Air Assault Brigade—still hasn’t joined the fight.

But a video that appeared online on Friday is a reminder that the 2,000-person formation—with its 14 Challenger 2 tanks, 40 Marder tracked infantry fighting vehicles and 90 Stryker wheeled IFVs—is ready to roll into action at the time and place of Ukrainian commanders’ choosing.

Ukraine’s American allies have anticipated the day when the 82nd Brigade finally makes contact with the Russians. The United States already is sending fresh vehicles to replace the brigade’s eventual combat losses.

The Friday video depicts Strykers, apparently belonging to the 82nd Brigade, speeding along a dirt road presumably somewhere in southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Oblast, the locus of the counteroffensive.

The 82nd’s vehicles—plus the two dozen 105-millimeter howitzers that support them—together form a potent assault force. One that could breach Russian defenses, or exploit an existing breach.

The 71-ton, four-crew Challenger 2 with its thick composite armor—equivalent to nearly 2,000 millimeters of steel on the turret front—might be the best-protected tank in Russia’s wider war on Ukraine. The United Kingdom donated powerful depleted-uranium rounds for the tanks’ 120-millimeter rifled guns.

Those 14 Challenger 2s may be the best weapons the Ukrainians have for a direct assault on Russian fortifications. And they’ll have powerful back-up in the form of the 40 Marders.

The 31-ton Marder—which carries three crew and six infantry and packs a 20-millimeter autocannon and Milan anti-tank missile launcher—has sloped frontal armor offering protection equivalent to between 53 and 70 millimeters of steel, if not more. Protection along the sides is equal to at least 33 millimeters of steel.

NATO’s Vilnius Summit: Hints of a New Cold War

Dr. Hasim Turker

The Vilnius Summit, convened by the NATO Heads of State and Government on July 11-12, 2023, concluded with the release of an extensive communiqué. This document distinguishes itself from a typical summit declaration, serving instead as a strategic roadmap that outlines NATO’s future direction in an ever-evolving world order.

The communiqué, detailed in its exposition of pivotal policy directions and strategic initiatives, encapsulates the collective vision of NATO members. Owing to its depth and breadth, this essay will focus on the salient points that underscore a significant shift in NATO’s role and strategic posture.

The document signals the advent of a New Cold War, indicative of a shift in global power dynamics with NATO positioning itself against strategic competitors, notably Russia and China. Additionally, it broadens the traditional concept of security to incorporate the global commons, including oceans, space, technology, and cyberspace.

Released on July 11, 2023, the Vilnius Summit Communiqué heralds a new epoch in international politics. This era, while echoing past rivalries, is shaped by contemporary realities. The subsequent analysis dissects the communiqué’s main points and their implications for this emerging New Cold War.

NATO’s Evolution and the Advent of a New Cold War

NATO, established on shared values of individual liberty, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, was originally formed as a defensive alliance against the Soviet Union. Over time, NATO has had to redefine its role in a rapidly evolving world order, particularly in the post-Cold War era. This period brought into question NATO’s identity and purpose in a world that seemed to have moved beyond the bipolar power dynamics of the Cold War.

The Vilnius Summit Communiqué describes NATO as “the unique, essential and indispensable transatlantic forum to consult, coordinate and act on all matters related to our individual and collective security.” This powerful reaffirmation underscores NATO’s central role in preserving peace and stability across the Atlantic. Furthermore, it emphasizes NATO’s commitment to defend each other and every inch of Allied territory at all times, thereby ensuring the protection of its one billion citizens and safeguarding freedom and democracy.

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


“The threat is always going to evolve. We actually see this every day when we watch what's happening in Ukraine and Israel,” said Col. Michael Parent, the lead for the RCCTO’s Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems office.

Remain of an Iranian Shahed 136 drone at an exhibition showing remains of missiles and drones that Russia used to attack Kyiv on May 12, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Oleksii Samsonov /Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

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.

Making Military Aid Work

Alexander Noyes, Richard Bennet

The U.S. effort to train and equip the Ukrainian military demonstrates the key factors for successful military aid.U.S. troops train their Ukrainian counterparts on trench clearing operations at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, near Yavoriv, Ukraine, on July 13, 2017. Photo credit: Sgt. Anthony Jones, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team/Public Domain.

Editor’s Note: U.S. efforts to train the Iraqi military seemed to fail in 2014 as Iraqi forces melted in the face of the Islamic State’s onslaught. Almost a decade later, the U.S. training of the Ukrainian military is heralded as a tremendous success. What went right? RAND’s Alexander Noyes and the Wilson Center’s Richard Bennet assess various U.S. efforts to train foreign militaries and argue that a mix of sequencing, conditionality, and narrow focus are the best ways to build partner capacity.

Ukraine launched its long-anticipated counteroffensive in June. Progress on the battlefield thus far has been slow, but U.S. support to Ukraine—regardless of the outcome of the counteroffensive—is already a success story. While the United States builds its armed forces to fight wars, some of the U.S. military’s most influential undertakings involve cooperation, not direct conflict.

The United States conducts security cooperation activities in more than 150 countries worldwide. These include everything from arms transfers, to training and advising, to joint exercises and military exchanges—all aimed at building the capabilities of foreign militaries to operate independently and alongside the United States. These efforts don’t always work, and recent failures are well known: U.S.-built militaries in both Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, collapsed quickly and spectacularly in the face of adversity. Just as worrisome, countries that have been close U.S. military partners over the past two decades—such as Egypt, Yemen, and Pakistan—have used the training and tools provided by the United States to advance illiberal goals and perpetrate human rights abuses.

Predicting the Future: What Could World War III Look Like?


You’ve likely clicked on this because you’re curious about what World War III might look like. Well, you’re not alone. It’s a topic in conversations, movies, and high-level strategic discussions. Though it’s an unsettling topic, it’s also fascinating, don’t you think?

Let’s get something straight, though – we’re not wishing for a third world war here, far from it. The goal is to understand the factors, the technologies, and the possible triggers that might contribute to such a conflict, should it ever occur.

From AI robots duking it out on the battlefield to silent but deadly cyber-attacks disrupting nations to a possible Star Wars-like showdown in space – the possibilities are as vast as they are, quite frankly, terrifying.

And in this ever-changing world, we must stay informed about the potential future of warfare.
What Could Possibly Trigger World War III?

It’s important to remember just because something could happen doesn’t mean it will. Here are some possible scenarios:
Resource Scarcity

Imagine a severe drought hitting the river basins of countries sharing the same water source, like the Nile River, which flows through several nations, including Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

As the water dries, these countries could be at odds over the remaining supply. If negotiations fail and desperation mounts, it could potentially spark a broader conflict.

Cyber Warfare

AI could replace equivalent of 300 million jobs - report

Chris Vallance

Artificial intelligence (AI) could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs, a report by investment bank Goldman Sachs says.

It could replace a quarter of work tasks in the US and Europe but may also mean new jobs and a productivity boom.

And it could eventually increase the total annual value of goods and services produced globally by 7%.

Generative AI, able to create content indistinguishable from human work, is "a major advancement", the report says.

Employment prospects

The government is keen to promote investment in AI in the UK, which it says will "ultimately drive productivity across the economy", and has tried to reassure the public about its impact.

"We want to make sure that AI is complementing the way we work in the UK, not disrupting it - making our jobs better, rather than taking them away," Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan told the Sun.

The report notes AI's impact will vary across different sectors - 46% of tasks in administrative and 44% in legal professions could be automated but only 6% in construction 4% in maintenance, it says.

BBC News has previously reported some artists' concerns AI image generators could harm their employment prospects.

'Lower wages'