25 July 2023

Compendium: Crisis Communications: Indian and Pakistani Perspectives on Responsible Practices


The focus of ‘Crisis Communications: Indian and Pakistani Perspectives on Responsible Practices’ is on how adversaries can communicate in ways that will both prevent crises from occurring in the first place, and should they occur, ensure that they are de-escalated as swiftly as possible. The key goal of our third-party facilitated dialogue, out of which this report has emerged, was to bring together Indian and Pakistani nuclear policy experts and journalists to explore the responsibilities of the governments, as well as those of the print and social media, in crisis situations. Held in Bangkok in December 2022, the dialogue followed the methodology and process outlined in the Nuclear Responsibilities Toolkit, jointly developed by BASIC and the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS) at the University of Birmingham.

The compendium contains: The Perils of (Not) Communicating in the Absence of Trust in a Dangerous Nuclear Dyad, by Ejaz Haider

Media Coverage for Mutual Understanding: What Way Forward for Indian and Pakistani Journalists?, by Nirupama Subramanian

Restoring Responsible Communication as a Key to Trust Building Between India and Pakistan, by Salma Malik

The Shared Responsibility of Reading the ‘Other’ Right, by Kamal Madishetty

Tu Tu-Main Main: Policy, Scholarship, and India-Pakistan Communications, by Rabia Akhtar and Ruhee Neog

Sri Lankan President’s Visit to India Signals Growing Economic and Energy Ties

Krutika Pathi and Bharatha Mallawarachi

Sri Lanka and India signed a series of energy, development and trade agreements on Friday, signaling growing economic ties between the neighboring countries.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe arrived in New Delhi a day earlier for the official visit, his first since taking up the top job last year after an economic meltdown forced his predecessor to flee.

On Friday, he held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the two leaders unveiled agreements on technology, renewable energy and greater connectivity designed to deepen bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka.

“My visit to India has provided an opportunity to review our bilateral relationship, leverage the strength of geographical and civilizational links, reinforced trust and confidence for our future prosperity in the modern world,” Wickremesinghe said.

Modi said the two leaders adopted a vision to boost their economic cooperation, including strengthening maritime, air and energy connectivity between their citizens and accelerating cooperation in tourism, trade and higher education.

“The past one year has been full of challenges for the people of Sri Lanka. Being a close friend, as always, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Sri Lanka,” Modi said in his remarks.

Relations between the two countries surged last year when Sri Lanka was mired in its worst economic crisis in modern history, triggered by a severe foreign currency crunch that saw essential items run out and citizens queue for fuel for days. It also suspended its repayment of foreign debt last year.

Why You Should Care about the Afghanistan War Commission

Andrew Baker

This summer, the bipartisan, congressionally mandated Afghanistan War Commission (AWC) will kick off a four-year inquiry into the origins, conduct, and conclusion of America’s war in Afghanistan. You should care about this Commission, and you should care about the report they are going to issue. If the AWC produces a quality report—fair, comprehensive, evidence-based—it will guide and inform the next generation of U.S. foreign and security policy.

The AWC presents a rare opportunity: America’s democratic institutions roused to ask pointed questions of the men and women charged with our country’s national security. The Church Committee of the 1970s, and more recently the 9/11 Commission, suggest these types of congressionally-mandated inquiries happen once a generation. A British historian once joked that Britons acquired their empire in a fit of absentmindedness. That is an astute observation. For anyone, myself included, who has patiently explained to friends, family, the pharmacist, the grocer, and others that yes, we really were still in Afghanistan more than two decades after the initial invasion, it certainly rings true. As a nation, we obligated the authorizations and signed the checks without giving much thought about what it is we were authorizing, what we were paying for, or why.

The AWC’s report could ultimately prove to be a consequential moment for the United States. If we get a quality report; if the American people are allowed to read it and consider its meaning and implications for the whole nation, and not just this or that slice of America; and if the report ultimately informs real reforms; it will be significant. More importantly, if you’re looking for proof that democracy in America still works, it counts for something that, after two decades of war, the U.S. government has appointed capable, public-spirited people to investigate and explain clearly and openly what went down in Afghanistan. Exploring and identifying exactly what happened, however, will require AWC members to ask pointed questions ranging the entire breadth of America’s longest war.

Who Was Actually in Charge?

Ukraine and Pakistan Call for Restoring Black Sea Grain Deal After Talks in Islamabad

Munir Ahmed

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari plant a tree of friendship at the Pakistan Foreign Office during Kuleba’s visit to Islamabad, Pakistan, July 21, 2023.

The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Pakistan called Thursday for the restoration of the Black Sea grain initiative to ensure global food security, days after Russia halted the wartime deal that had allowed grain to flow from Ukraine.

The two sides made the demand at a news conference after Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met with his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari after arriving on his first visit to the Islamic nation.

Kuleba also met with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, according to a government statement. It quoted Sharif saying that the conflict in Ukraine has had a significant global impact that has hurt the economies of many countries.

Kuleba briefed Sharif on the current situation in Ukraine, recalling that their countries had always enjoyed long-standing and cordial relations grounded in cooperation and friendship with the common objective to contribute towards global peace and regional stability.

Pakistan has been a regular importer of wheat from Kyiv in recent years — as much as 1 million tons in 2021 by Kuleba’s estimate. The grain deal, negotiated in July 2022 among Turkey, the United Nations, and Russia, had allowed grain to flow to countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa where hunger is a growing threat and high food prices have pushed more people into poverty.

China’s AI Regulations and How They Get Made


China is in the midst of rolling out some of the world’s earliest and most detailed regulations governing artificial intelligence (AI). These include measures governing recommendation algorithms—the most omnipresent form of AI deployed on the internet—as well as new rules for synthetically generated images and chatbots in the mold of ChatGPT. China’s emerging AI governance framework will reshape how the technology is built and deployed within China and internationally, impacting both Chinese technology exports and global AI research networks.

But in the West, China’s regulations are often dismissed as irrelevant or seen purely through the lens of a geopolitical competition to write the rules for AI. Instead, these regulations deserve careful study on how they will affect China’s AI trajectory and what they can teach policymakers around the world about regulating the technology. Even if countries fundamentally disagree on the specific content of a regulation, they can still learn from each other when it comes to the underlying structures and technical feasibility of different regulatory approaches.

Matt Sheehan is a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where his research focuses on global technology issues, with a specialization in China’s artificial intelligence ecosystem.

In this series of three papers, I will attempt to reverse engineer Chinese AI governance. I break down the regulations into their component parts—the terminology, key concepts, and specific requirements—and then trace those components to their roots, revealing how Chinese academics, bureaucrats, and journalists shaped the regulations. In doing so, we have built a conceptual model of how China makes AI governance policy, one that can be used to project the future trajectory of Chinese AI governance (see figure 1).

China and Russia: The Weight of History


This year marks the 60th anniversary of the split between the Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic of China bursting out into the open with some bitter polemics. Unsurprisingly this anniversary has not excited much comment. The hostility between the two communist giants eased during the 1980s. The Soviet Union no longer exists and its legatee, the Russian Federation, now claims a close friendship with China. It’s possible that this piece of international history has not registered with many policy-makers. They might therefore assume the Sino-Russian relationship to be on far firmer foundations than is the case and so miss the opportunities for some creative Western diplomacy.

A bit more history: Nixon’s China diplomacy

By the end of the Cold War, the point at which history may start for many of the current generation of think-tankers and policy-makers, relations between Moscow and Beijing were relatively calm and cordial. Before that, however, there had been a period of great tension.

When the split first became apparent in 1963, triggered by Moscow’s reluctance to help Beijing develop its own nuclear weapons, American officials were nonplusssed. Up to that point they had always spoken of a ‘Sino-Soviet bloc’ to underscore the combined power of international communism. Now the conflict between the two could not be ignored. By 1969 it was so deep that they appeared to be close to war, with border skirmishing where the Amur and Ussuri rivers come together. Moscow made it known that it was contemplating launching a preventive strike before China had an operational nuclear arsenal. This crisis passed but during the 1970s both the Soviet Union and China developed their armed forces with each other in mind as much as the ‘imperialist’ Americans.

Russia-China ties deepen as Beijing buys a record amount of oil from the warring nation in the first half of 2023

Phil Rosen

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a welcome ceremony before Russia - China talks in narrow format at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 21, 2023 Sputnik/Sergei Karpukhin/Pool via REUTERSChina imported 2.13 million barrels per day of Russian crude in the first half of 2023.

China imported a record amount of Russian crude oil in the first half of 2023, snapping up more than two million barrels per day from the warring nation.

Over the last six months, China imported 11.4 million barrels per day of crude, an 11.7% jump from the same time last year according to Financial Times data. Of that, 2.13 million barrels a day came from Russia, with those imports peaking to 2.57 million in June.

Meanwhile, China imported 1.88 million barrels a day from Saudi Arabia in the first half of the year, with Iraq, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Brazil falling in line afterward.

Chinese customs data cited by the FT implies that Russian barrels have come cheaper than those from other OPEC+ nations since the start of the war in Ukraine.

At any rate, Russia has had to increasingly rely on China over the last year and a half, since thousands of companies have pulled out of the country and other nations have shunned trade with Moscow. The bulk of Russia's exports are sent to China, but the reverse isn't true: Russia is far down on the pecking order when it comes to Beijing's most prominent trade partners.

"Clearly Russia is much more dependent on China to provide it with the imports and advanced manufactured products it needs, while Russian markets represent a negligible secondary opportunity for Chinese businesses," according to Yale researcher Jeffrey Sonnenfeld.

3-to-5 years from now is the danger time when the US could face both China and Russia


In this Q&A with Justin Bronk, senior research fellow for Airpower and Technology on the Military Sciences team at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a London-based defense and security think tank, we discuss: a scenario when China and Russia simultaneously present challenges designed to break NATO’s Article 5; the state of European air forces in terms of future production and fleet mixture in light of Ukraine; and how the air chiefs see all-domain operations.

Breaking Defense: The threat to Ukraine is clear, but what are the threats to NATO countries? The nuclear threat has always been there, so what’s changed?

Bronk: There are two different categories. There is the inadvertent escalation threat, which is essentially nuclear. Even though neither side wants the conflict, somebody does something stupid, it escalates, we don’t find a way out of it and everything ends up nuclear, because Russia has no capacity to fight NATO conventionally, at least for now.

As long as Ukraine continues as an active conflict, Russia probably does not have the capacity to pose a conventional threat to Europe. That’s the inadvertent nuclear escalation threat.

The longer term, more serious threat for NATO is the three-to-five-year outlook with Russia. As the ongoing high-intensity conflict shakes out — whether Ukraine does extremely well in the upcoming offensive and takes back lots or even all of its territory, or if they don’t take back nearly that much or they take back some but ultimately they run out of steam — the outlook from the end of this year onwards is probably a frozen conflict one way or the other.

The problem for NATO in that context — the threat that I see that we need to be ready for — is in the three-to-five-year context. The war in Ukraine in its current form probably can’t last that long in active phase because both sides will exhaust too much of their manpower and ammunition stocks. Maybe [that’s not the case], but we’d have to have a total transformation of the industrial base for military production to support that.

Xi hails ‘old friend’ Kissinger during meeting that harks back to an era of warmer ties

Nectar Gan

Chinese leader Xi Jinping hailed Henry Kissinger as an “old friend” during a meeting with the 100-year-old former US Secretary of State who is in Beijing this week for a surprise visit.

Xi met Kissinger at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, a diplomatic complex in western Beijing where Kissinger was received during his first visit to China in 1971, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Since then, Kissinger has visited China more than 100 times, Xi noted in the meeting.

In July 1971, Kissinger became the first high-ranking US official to visit Communist China. His secret meetings with Chinese leaders paved the way for then US President Richard Nixon’s “ice-breaking” trip the following year.

In the decades that followed, US-China ties blossomed alongside their economic interdependence. But in more recent years the relationship between the world’s two largest economies has deteriorated markedly.

For Xi, Kissinger’s presence was a reminder of less rocky times.

“We never forget our old friends, and will never forget your historic contribution to the development of China-US relations and the enhancement of friendship between the two peoples,” Xi told Kissinger.

“China and the United States are once again at the crossroads of where to go, and the two sides need to make a choice again,” he said, urging Kissinger and like-minded Americans to “continue to play a constructive role in bringing China-US relations back to the right track.”

Kissinger replied that it is a “great honor” to visit China, and thanked Xi for choosing to meet him in the same building where he met Chinese leaders for the first time, according to CCTV.

Rich lode of EV metals could boost Taliban and its new Chinese partners

Gerry Shih and Lorenzo Tugnoli

Correspondent Gerry Shih and photographer Lorenzo Tugnoli drove 15 hours from Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, along boulder-strewn roads to the remote northeast of the country to explore its lithium industry, hiking two hours up a mountain to reach the mine shafts. Shih is The Washington Post’s New Delhi bureau chief, responsible for covering much of South Asia, and Tugnoli is a Pulitzer Prize-winning contract photographer for The Post based in Barcelona.

CHAPA DARA, Afghanistan — Sayed Wali Sajid spent years fighting American soldiers in the barren hills and fertile fields of the Pech River Valley, one of the deadliest theaters of the 20-year insurgency. But nothing confounded the Taliban commander, he said, like the new wave of foreigners who began showing up, one after another, in late 2021.

Once, Sajid spotted a foreigner hiking alone along a path where Islamic State extremists were known to kidnap outsiders. Another time, five men and women evaded Sajid’s soldiers in the dark to scour the mountain. The newcomers, Sajid recalled, were giddy, persistent, almost single-minded in their quest for something few locals believed held any value at all.

“The Chinese were unbelievable,” Sajid said, chuckling at the memory. “At first, they didn’t tell us what they wanted. But then I saw the excitement in their eyes and their eagerness, and that’s when I understood the word ‘lithium.’”

A decade earlier, the U.S. Defense Department, guided by the surveys of American government geologists, concluded that the vast wealth of lithium and other minerals buried in Afghanistan might be worth $1 trillion, more than enough to prop up the country’s fragile government. In a 2010 memo, the Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, which examined Afghanistan’s development potential, dubbed the country the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” A year later, the U.S. Geological Survey published a map showing the location of major deposits and highlighted the magnitude of the underground wealth, saying Afghanistan “could be considered as the world’s recognized future principal source of lithium.”

Talking to China isn’t nearly enough


There’s talk and there’s productive talk. You would sometimes think US officials are paid by the word and are content with the former sort of talk.

Recently, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen went to China. Now, Climate Czar John Kerry is visiting the country. These trips and attendant dialogues are invariably described as “candid and constructive.”

Other popular adjectives for them are “direct, substantive, and productive” and vital to “maintain open channels of communications,” “responsibly manage competition,” “reduce risk of misperception and miscalculation” and “learn more about each other.”

And the subtext is that if the Americans stop talking, then war with China is just around the corner.

The idea seems to be that enough talking and the right words or incantations will bring Beijing to its senses. Exactly how isn’t clear. It’s not as if the Chinese didn’t understand what the Americans are saying.

Maybe they’ll just get fed up with blabby Americans and concede? Or maybe it’s Blinken’s, Yellen’s and Kerry’s sheer animal magnetism that Washington counts on to win over the Chinese communists?

China’s Okinawa Policy Attracts Attention


Chinese President Xi Jinping gestures as he meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, June 19, 2023.Credit: Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP

A possibly more aggressive policy toward Okinawa by China has been attracting attention in East Asia recently. The perception stems from an express reference made by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan’s southernmost islands, known as the Ryukyu, in early June during a visit to the China National Archives of Publications and Culture (CNAPC) and the Chinese Academy of History, a repository of Chinese classical books. It is rare for a Chinese president to make such a reference, giving rise to speculation that an underlying motive may be at play: a visit to China earlier this month by Denny Tamaki, governor of Okinawa Prefecture as part of a delegation from Japan.

Xi Jinping’s comment was made during his tour of the CNAPC, when he stopped in front of an exhibit and listened to the curator’s explanation. It even warranted a mention in the People’s Daily. The comment came in response to the curator’s explanation about the “Records of the Imperial Title-conferring Envoys to Ryukyu” of the Ming Dynasty. This book describes the envoys dispatched by the Ming Dynasty to Ryukyu to convey Ryukyu’s position as a tributary state of the Ming Dynasty. The work is widely known in China as it is believed to be the oldest record showing that the Senkaku Islands (known in China as the Diaoyu Islands) are Chinese territory. (In Japan, the passage in question is not considered to constitute proof of this.)

When the curator mentioned the passage relating to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Xi remarked: “When I was working in Fuzhou, I knew that Fuzhou had a Ryukyu Museum and a Ryukyu tomb, and that Fuzhou had a deep relationship with Ryukyu, and that the 36 clans of Fujian went over to the Ryukyu Islands and settled there.” The Ryukyu Museum commemorates the envoys who came to China from Ryukyu to pay tribute to the Ming dynasty, and the Ryukyu tomb is the resting place of the Ryukyu people who died in Fuzhou. The 36 clans of Fujian, also referred to as the 36 clans of Kume, came to Ryukyu and oversaw its commitment to pay tribute to the Ming Dynasty.

China Studies Nuclear Risk in the Context of the Ukraine War

Lyle Goldstein and Nathan Waechter

In shaping patterns of future warfare, there is little doubt that militaries across the world will be seeking to absorb the key lessons of the Russia-Ukraine War, ranging from the employment of tanks to the use of anti-ship cruise missiles and the ubiquitous drones. For the Chinese military, these lessons might even assume a greater importance, since the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) both lacks major, recent combat experience, and has also leaned heavily on Russian weapons and doctrine for its rapid modernization over the last few decades.

Chinese media coverage of the war in Ukraine has been extensive. The close nature of the China-Russia “quasi-alliance” means that Chinese military analysts have not engaged in the ruthless critiques of Russian military performance that have been commonplace in the West. Yet, Chinese military analyses are still probing deeply for lessons to understand the shape of modern warfare. They have taken particular interest in the U.S. employment of novel weapons and strategies.

To fully grasp the scope and depth of these Chinese analyses it is important to take assessments from a full range of Chinese military media, which is more extensive than is often appreciated in the West. These articles are generally associated with research institutes that are directly involved in the Chinese military industrial complex.

This exclusive series for The Diplomat will represent the first systematic attempt by Western analysts to evaluate these Chinese assessments of the war in Ukraine across the full spectrum of warfare, including the land, sea, air and space, and information domains. Read the rest of the series here.

Few issues are more salient to evaluate than how Beijing views the nuclear shadows surrounding the present bloody conflagration in Eastern Europe. There is some reasonable hope that Chinese pressure could cause the Kremlin to completely rule out nuclear escalation, and this indeed may have been a major theme of Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow back in March 2023.

The beginning of the Ukrainian offensive: Obstacles and perspectives

Volodymyr SolovianMykhailo Samus

Since the beginning of June, the Ukrainian army has carried out a number of tactical offensives in the south of Ukraine aiming to achieve a breakthrough in the Russian defensive lines. In response, Russia intensified missile and drone attacks on Ukraine's military infrastructure.

In this paper, the authors assess the operational situation in which Ukraine and Russia have approached the decisive phase of the current year's campaign, and the prospects and challenges of the Ukrainian offensive.
The operational situation on the fronts of the Russian-Ukrainian war


During the winter-spring campaign of 2023, the Russian command focused on establishing advantageous front configuration in Donbas on the eve of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Based on the history of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the most effective defence strategy is one that utilises water barriers such as rivers and channels. Therefore, the Russian command planned to turn the Siverskyi Donets-Donbas canal into the frontier of its defence system in the Donetsk region. This obstacle determined the concentration of Russia’s main efforts in Bakhmut, as gaining control over the city provides access to the eastern bank of the canal.

As a result of the nine-month assault, the Russians managed to capture the ruins, which were a cozy and economically developed town with a population of 70,000 just a year ago. This "victory" of the Russian army and the Wagner PMC could be called pyrrhic. However, despite the public statements of the Russian side, it is too early to summarise the results of the Battle of Bakhmut.

Australian Defence College (ADC)

Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies, v. 5, no. 1, 2023 

A More Dangerous Neighbourhood: Implications of Indo-Pacific Arms Modernisation for Australian Defence Strategy
India in 2050: Will being the World’s Third Largest Economy Translate into Military Power to Reshape India’s Strategic Environment?

A War that Defies Expectations

Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine: The War of Surprise

Absolutism, Spiritualism, Exceptionalism and Convulsion: The Core of Vladimir Putin’s War in Ukraine against the West

What is Putin’s Foreign Policy Strategy Now?

Pathway to Victory: the Ukrainian Strategy of Corrosion

Russian Cyber and Information Warfare Capabilities in the War on Ukraine: Expectations, Reality and Lessons Learned for the Future

Russia–China Relations and the Indo-Pacific

Russian Influence in Australia at a Time of Undeclared War

Resistance Strategy: Lessons from the Russo-Ukraine Conflict for Europe, Australia and the Indo-Pacific

Sovereign Capability: Made in Australia or Product of Australia?

The Australian Command and Staff College Writes Doctrine: The Case of LWD 3-0-1 Counterinsurgency, 2008–09

Ukraine Situation Report: U.S. Cluster Munitions Hit The Battlefield


Ukraine is now using cluster munitions on the battlefield “quite effectively,” and they already having an affect on Russian forces, the White House confirmed Thursday.

"We have gotten some initial feedback from the Ukrainians, and they're using them quite effectively," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at a news briefing Thursday. He added the cluster munitions are having an impact on Russian defensive formations and maneuvering, Reuters reported. At the Pentagon, Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh also confirmed Ukraine is now using the cluster munitions.

The Pentagon two weeks ago announced it was sending Ukraine “hundreds of thousands” of rounds of controversial cluster munitions known as Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICMs). They are 155mm artillery munitions that contain individual submunitions, or bomblets.

The DPICMs are being provided for two main reasons, the Pentagon has previously explained. The U.S. has a large stock of them and giving some to Ukraine won’t have the same effect on supplies as the donation 155mm unitary rounds. The U.S. alone has donated more than two million of those to Ukraine.

The other main reason is that bomblets scatter over a wide area, which would help Ukraine defeat the massive amount of fortifications and trenches Russia has built up, in addition to hitting counter-battery and time-sensitive targets more efficiently.

By pulling out of the Ukrainian grain deal, Russia risks alienating its few remaining partners

By pulling out of a landmark deal that allowed Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking a gamble that could badly damage Moscow’s relations with many of its partners that have stayed neutral or even been supportive of the Kremlin’s invasion of its neighbor.

Russia also has played the role of spoiler at the United Nations, vetoing a resolution on extending humanitarian aid deliveries through a key border crossing in northwestern Syria and backing a push by Mali’s military junta to expel U.N. peacekeepers — abrupt moves that reflect Moscow’s readiness to raise the stakes elsewhere.

Putin’s declared goal in halting the Black Sea Grain Initiative was to win relief from Western sanctions on Russia’s agricultural exports. His longer-term goal could be to erode Western resolve over Ukraine and get more concessions from the U.S. and its allies as the war grinds toward the 17-month mark.

The Kremlin doubled down on terminating the grain deal by attacking Ukrainian ports and declaring wide areas of the Black Sea unsafe for shipping.

But with the West showing little willingness to yield any ground, Putin’s actions not only threaten global food security but also could backfire against Russia’s own interests, potentially causing concern in China, straining Moscow’s relations with key partner Turkey and hurting its ties with African countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who helped broker the grain deal with the U.N. a year ago, has pushed for its extension and said he would negotiate with Putin.

Turkey’s role as a top trading partner and a logistical hub for Russia’s foreign trade amid Western sanctions strengthens Erdogan’s hand and could allow him to squeeze concessions from Putin, whom he calls “my dear friend.”

Putin cut deal with Wagner ‘to save his skin,’ MI6 chief says in rare speech

Nick Paton Walsh

It was a rare moment when the publicly visible Kremlin matched the reality behind closed doors.

That is according to the head of Britain’s MI6, who in a rare speech in Prague, gave the first confirmation from Western intelligence that private military group Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin did indeed strike a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his advance on Moscow during the failed rebellion of June 24. And he had, it seemed, been welcomed into the Kremlin to meet Putin days later.

The MI6 chief, known as C, also expressed some bafflement at the tremors around the Kremlin that weekend, and the speed in which loyalties were spurned and returned.

“If you look at Putin’s behaviors on that day,” Richard Moore said of June 24. “Prigozhin started off I think, as a traitor at breakfast. He had been pardoned by supper and then a few days later, he was invited for tea. So, there are some things and even the chief of MI6 finds that a little bit difficult to try and interpret, in terms of who’s in and who’s out.”

Moore also gave a rare indication of the continued health and whereabouts of Prigozhin himself, whose characteristically profane and frequent audio messages published on Telegram have recently stopped. Asked by CNN if Prigozhin was “alive and healthy,” Moore replied the Wagner leader was still “floating around,” per his agency’s understanding.

Western intelligence agencies have been reticent to comment on the failed rebellion, for fear of providing a false backbone to Russia’s familiar excuse for internal dissent - that it is arranged and fueled by Western spies. Yet the on-camera speech provided an opportunity for Moore’s expression to convey how shocking the weakness betrayed by Putin that weekend had been.

“He really didn’t fight back against Prigozhin,” Moore said. “He cut a deal to save his skin, using the good offices of the leader of Belarus,” he said, referring to the intervention of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko who struck the deal. “Even I can’t see inside Putin’s head,” he added. “He has to have realized, I am sure, that something is deeply rotten in the state of Denmark - to quote Hamlet - and he had to cut this deal.”

Britain’s Spy Master Says Putin Cut Deal With Wagner Mercenary Chief

Megan Specia and Julian E. Barnes

The chief of Britain’s intelligence agency, MI6, said on Wednesday that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had “cut a deal” with Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner mercenary group, during Mr. Prigozhin’s failed rebellion last month.

The comments from Richard Moore, the head of MI6, in a rare speech in Prague at an event hosted by Politico, offer insights from a Western intelligence official into the stunning but short-lived revolt by Mr. Prigozhin last month.

The Wagner leader staged a mutiny against Russia’s military last month, which saw his mercenary forces marching toward the capital before abruptly halting. More than two weeks later, the Kremlin disclosed that Mr. Prigozhin and other Wagner leaders had met with Mr. Putin for three hours in the days after the rebellion ended.

“I think he probably feels under some pressure,” Mr. Moore said of Mr. Putin, speaking at the British ambassador’s residence in the Czech capital. “Prigozhin was his creature, utterly created by Putin, and yet he turned on him. He really didn’t fight back against Prigozhin; he cut a deal to save his skin using the good offices of the leader of Belarus.”

Mr. Moore also reflected on the head-spinning nature of the Wagner forces’ sudden march toward Moscow, the swiftness with which they stopped, and Mr. Prigozhin’s seeming escape — so far — from the grim fate of many Kremlin critics.

The State of the WarA Barrage on Odesa: As Moscow ended its participation in a deal that had allowed Ukraine to export its grain by sea, the Russian military bombarded Odesa, Ukraine’s largest port, and other shipping centers. The White House warned that the Kremlin might be setting the stage for attacks on commercial transport ships.

Wagner Mutiny Aftermath: Russian investigators detained a leading nationalist critic of Russia’s conduct of the war in Ukraine, in a sign that the brief rebellion by Wagner mercenaries in June has further reduced tolerance of any dissent, even among those who support Moscow’s invasion.

Military Aid: The United States will send $1.3 billion in financial assistance to Kyiv in order to purchase a host of new military equipment and ammunition.

Navy’s Pacific information warfare command coordinating vast capability across region


The Navy’s recently created Fleet Information Warfare Command Pacific is proving invaluable to the region, particularly when it comes to coordinating and integrating the capabilities of various tactical entities, according to officials.

One of the reasons for the FIWCPAC‘s standup in 2022 was to help coordinate effects across the vast information space, including through interservice and allied partners.

Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Samuel Paparo requested the organization “to be stood up to focus specifically on the integration of information operations and his whole campaign in the Pacific,” Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, commander of Naval Information Forces, said during an event Tuesday hosted by Navy Memorial.

While there are tactically oriented information warfare entities, they lack authority and responsibility to integrate capabilities at the operational level and across other Department of Defense capabilities.

“The O-6 Information Warfare Commanders on our Carrier Strike Group staffs provide outstanding capability at the tactical level, but lack the position, authority, and scope of responsibility to integrate at the operational level and across the breadth of DoD capabilities,” a Pacific Fleet spokesperson told DefenseScoop.

We Will Never Run Out of Resources

Marian L. Tupy and David Deutsch

The world’s population has increased eightfold since 1800, and standards of living have never been higher. Despite increases in consumption, and contrary to the prophecies of generations of Malthusians, the world hasn’t run out of a single metal or mineral. In fact, resources have generally grown cheaper relative to income over the past two centuries. Even on the largest cosmic scale, resources may well be limitless.

How can a growing population expand resource abundance? Some of the ways are well known. Consider increased supply. When the price of a resource increases, people have an incentive to find new sources of it. Geologists have surveyed only a fraction of the Earth’s crust, let alone the ocean floor. As surveying and extracting technologies improve, geologists and engineers will go deeper, faster, cheaper and cleaner to reach hitherto untouched minerals.

Efficiency gains also contribute to resource abundance. In the late 1950s an aluminum can weighed close to 3 ounces. Today it weighs less than half an ounce. That smaller mass represents considerable environmental, energy and raw-material savings. Market incentives motivated people to search for opportunities or new knowledge to reduce the cost of an input (aluminum) to produce a cheaper output (a Coca-Cola can). Technological improvement drives a continual process whereby we can produce more from less.

Innovation creates opportunities for substitution. For centuries spermaceti, a waxy substance found in the heads of sperm whales, was used to make the candles that provided light in people’s homes. Long before the whales might have run out, we switched to electricity. Are you worried about having enough lithium to power all those electric vehicles on the road? Quick-charging sodium-ion batteries are already on the horizon. There is far more sodium than lithium on or near the surface of the Earth.

We’re living in an era of dematerialization. Not long ago, every hotel room in the U.S. was equipped with a thick blue copper cable to connect the guest’s laptop to the internet. Nowadays guests use Wi-Fi—no cables necessary. Likewise, the smartphone has minimized, if not eliminated, the need for paper calendars, maps, dictionaries and encyclopedias as well as for metal or plastic radios, cameras, telephones, stereos, alarm clocks and more.

The Parable of F-16s for Ukraine

A U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter takes off at Jagel Air Base in Jagel, Germany, June 23 PHOTO: DANIEL REINHARDT/DPA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

U.S. officials are whispering to the press that the Ukrainians aren’t performing up to snuff in Europe’s bloodiest fighting in decades. What an unseemly exercise: The Biden crowd withholds the heavy firepower the Ukrainians need to defeat a Russian invasion, and then laments that Kyiv isn’t retaking enough territory fast enough.

The Ukrainians are struggling to break through heavily fortified Russian defenses. “It’s not quite connected trench lines like World War I,” Gen. Mark Milley said on Tuesday, “but it’s not dissimilar from that, either—lots of complex minefields, dragon’s teeth, barbed wire, trenches.” Ukrainian equipment is getting chewed up by Russian mines, and Kyiv’s troops need more help to clear the explosives.

The offensive is still in early days, and Ukraine hasn’t committed most of its troops trained by the West. But U.S. officials are telling press outlets without attribution that the Ukrainians aren’t excelling at combined arms—that is, working tanks, infantry, air power and other assets in coordination.

But no Western military would execute this offensive without controlling the skies. Ukrainian troops are vulnerable to Russian attack, and they lack the air power to support ground troops and go on offense against Russian positions without risking awful losses.

F-16 fighters would be a big improvement. Russian surface-to-air missile sites “can be lucrative targets” for F-16 pilots, as retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright wrote in February. Long-range precision weapons could help “destroy Russian air defense systems near the borders, and kill Russian tanks, artillery, and dug-in positions in the Eastern part of Ukraine.”

Western allies are supposed to start training Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16 next month. But the truth is Ukraine could have had such pilots up and flying by now. The U.S. has known from the start that Ukraine’s Soviet-era jet fleet isn’t equipped to compete with Russia’s larger and more advanced force. The Ukrainians have nonetheless used U.S. anti-radiation missiles in ingenious ways, eluding Russian air defenses to achieve pockets of air superiority.

Mines are proving one of the biggest challenges for Kyiv’s slow-moving counteroffensive

Isabel Coles

BAHATYR, Ukraine—The Ukrainian soldiers set off in pitch black, stealing through shell-cratered fields to carry out one of the most important tasks of the counteroffensive—and one of the most dangerous.

Armed with a metal detector, a shovel and a grappling hook, the combat engineers—known as sappers—hunt for mines along the front line with Russian forces, while trying to remain undetected by the enemy nearby.

“You can’t afford to be nervous,” said a 49-year-old sapper with the call sign Fisherman who leads a group of 50 within Ukraine’s 68th Jaeger Brigade.

After an initial thrust using Western-donated tanks and other armored vehicles foundered in a Russian minefield in early June, Ukrainian forces turned to men like Fisherman to clear a way forward.

Russia built some of the most extensive battlefield fortifications seen since the World Wars during the months that Western forces were training and equipping Kyiv’s forces to go on the offensive. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has lamented that Western allies didn’t move faster, giving Russia time to mine an area larger than California.

‘You can’t afford to be nervous,’ says Fisherman, a 49-year-old sapper.

Despite the challenge, Ukraine has clawed back more territory since the start of the counteroffensive more than six weeks ago than Russia seized over the same number of months. And Kyiv has yet to throw all its forces into battle, keeping back some Western-trained units to exploit any breach in Russia’s defenses.

Vietnam War Legacies and America’s Controversial Support for Ukraine

Phan Xuan Dung

The recent decision by the United States to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine has sparked a wave of criticism from U.S. Congressmen, human rights advocates, and the international community. The deployment of these weapons, notorious for their indiscriminate nature and the risks associated with unexploded ordnance (UXO), raises alarming concerns about civilian safety. Many stressed that the U.S. has failed to heed the lessons of the Vietnam War, where the devastating impact of cluster bombs continues to afflict civilians in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, even after the passage of more than half a century.

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. dropped 12.7 million tons of ordnance on Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Many of these munitions failed to detonate upon impact, posing an ongoing threat to anyone who crosses their path, from children to soldiers. More than 200,000 people in the three countries have been killed or maimed by unexploded ordnance since the war ended. Estimates suggest that more than 20 percent of the land in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam remains contaminated by UXO and the process of clearing this could require a century or more to complete, given the current pace.

Both Laos and Cambodia have urged the U.S. to reconsider the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine, which stirred painful memories of the U.S. dropping similar bombs on their soil to disrupt North Vietnam’s logistical transportation system.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen warned Ukraine not to use cluster munitions and called on U.S. allies to prevent the deployment of these weapons. He highlighted the potential long-term dangers these weapons pose to the Ukrainian people, drawing upon Cambodia’s own painful history with U.S. cluster munitions and UXO. Likewise, Laos, the world’s most bombed country in per capita terms, expressed “profound concern” over the potential use of cluster munitions, calling countries “to refrain from all use, production, transfer and stockpiling” of these weapons.

ChatGPT is creating new risks for national security

Christopher Mouton

Large language models like ChatGPT and Claude offer a wide range of beneficial applications. However, there are significant risks associated with their use that demand a coordinated effort among partner nations to forge a solid, integrated defense against the threat of malign information operations.

Large language models can assist in generating creative story plots, crafting marketing campaigns and even creating personalized restaurant recommendations. However, they often produce text that is confidently wrong. This design has profound implications, not only for routine use of artificial intelligence, but also for U.S. national security.

AI-generated content can exhibit a phenomenon known as “truthiness” — a phrase coined by television host Stephen Colbert in the early 2000s to describe how information can feel right. This concept emphasizes that, despite lacking factual accuracy, content with a highly coherent logical structure can influence how smart, sophisticated people decide whether something is true or not.

Our cognitive biases mean well-written content or compelling visuals have the power to make claims seem more true than they are. As one scholar who has studied “truthiness” describes it: “When things feel easy to process, they feel trustworthy.”

Adversaries of the U.S. can manipulate the potential for AI models to sound “truthy” — crafting coherent, well-structured and persuasive sentences, which can mimic human writing — to gain an advantage. The internet, with its global reach, has created a potent medium for foreign interference through subversive incursions of truthiness.

State actors are leveraging digital technologies to execute hostile information campaigns, using online tools and information operations to promote their interests. State actors can manipulate cognitive fluency bias and truthiness to shape the sociopolitical arena, expanding the potential misuse of AI-driven language models for malign information operations, large-scale spear phishing campaigns and increasingly believable deepfake media.

Hacking of Government Email Was Traditional Espionage, Official Says

Julian E. Barnes

The hack of Microsoft’s cloud that resulted in the compromise of government emails was an example of a traditional espionage threat, a senior National Security Agency official said.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, Rob Joyce, the director of cybersecurity at the N.S.A., said the United States needed to protect its networks from such espionage, but that adversaries would continue to try to secretly extract information from each other.

“It is China doing espionage,” Mr. Joyce said. “It is what nation-states do. We have to defend against it, we need to push back against it. But that is something that happens.”

The hackers took emails from senior State Department officials including Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to China. The theft of Mr. Burns’s emails was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by a person familiar with the matter. Daniel J. Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, also had his email hacked, a U.S. official said.

The emails of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo were also obtained in the hack, which was discovered in June by State Department cybersecurity experts scouring user logs for unusual activity. Microsoft later determined that Chinese hackers had obtained access to email accounts a month earlier.

In a new deal with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency announced on Wednesday, Microsoft agreed to provide access to cloud computing logs to more users so they could hunt for unusual activity or potential hacks.

Hundreds of thousands of emails were compromised, but U.S. officials have described the attack as a targeted one that used a compromised security key to penetrate selected Microsoft Outlook mailboxes.

Mr. Joyce said the attackers were able to impersonate authorization to read those emails.

Reaching the Tipping Point: Lessons from Combining Kinetic and Information Operations

Iain Cruickshank, Kirk Windmueller, Matt Benigni 

This article is part of a series hosted by Maj. Iain Cruickshank, Ph.D., that explores the idea of combining cyber operations with information operations to produce effects well beyond what each capability can accomplish alone.

One dark night in a far-off country, a circling drone launches a Hellfire missile. The missile strikes its target, destroying a vehicle carrying an insurgent leader who was attempting to move from one safe house to another. At roughly the same time, a military public affairs team releases a series of messages, giving a detailed description of the successful strike and tagging several key media outlets and local social media influencers. Later, as the sun rises, the insurgent group starts posting its own messages, calling the strike “a targeted attack on innocent civilians,” while remaining silent about the death of the group’s leader.

But the insurgents’ messages fall flat and fail to generate significant online engagement or to inflame the local population. Instead, social media chatter remains focused on the insurgent leader’s death and the precision strike that killed him. The military public affairs team’s intentional pairing of kinetic and information operations, in the physical and information dimensions, has served its purpose: to deny the insurgent group the effects they typically generate when they have uncontested control of the narrative. As a result, support for the counterinsurgency effort is untarnished by the kinetic strike, and the insurgency suffers a serious setback with the loss of a key leader.

Today, militaries are integrating information and kinetic operations more than ever before, and everyone is talking about multidomain operations (MDO). Formations are learning how a well-timed information operation can amplify the effects of a kinetic strike, deny an adversary first-mover status in the information dimension, or be used to seed psychological effects in an adversarial target audience. Moreover, timely and well-planned information operations can be used to complement a broad range of military operations and, when employed routinely, can be a force multiplier in MDO. While many of the operational details of combined kinetic and information operations remain classified, their effects are often visible in open-source reporting and are largely undeniable. By looking at examples of successful operational pairings, we illustrate how lessons learned from combining kinetic and information operations are applicable to other domains, like cyberspace.


Sam Biddle

A TECHNOLOGY WISH LIST circulated by the U.S. military’s elite Joint Special Operations Command suggests the country’s most secretive war-fighting component shares an anxiety with the world’s richest man: Too many people can see where they’re flying their planes.

The Joint Special Operations Air Component, responsible for ferrying commandos and their gear around the world, is seeking help keeping these flights out of the public eye through a “‘Big Data’ Analysis & Feedback Tool,” according to a procurement document obtained by The Intercept. The document is one of a series of periodic releases of lists of technologies that special operations units would like to see created by the private sector.

The listing specifically calls out the risk of social media “tail watchers” and other online observers who might identify a mystery plane as a military flight. According to the document, the Joint Special Operations Air Component needs software to “leverage historical and real-time data, such as the travel histories and details of specific aircraft with correlation to open-source information, social media, and flight reporting.”

Armed with this data, the tool would help the special operations gauge how much scrutiny a given plane has received in the past and how likely it is to be connected to them by prying eyes online.
“It just gives them better information on how to blend in. It’s like the police deciding to use the most common make of local car as an undercover car.”

Rather than providing the ability to fake or anonymize flight data, the tool seems to be aimed at letting sensitive military flights hide in plain sight. “It just gives them better information on how to blend in,” Scott Lowe, a longtime tail watcher and aviation photographer told The Intercept. “It’s like the police deciding to use the most common make of local car as an undercover car.”