17 October 2023

South Asian Countries Are Divided on Hamas Attacks

Santosh Sharma Poudel

On October 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel. Hamas militants entered Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip, killed hundreds of people, and took dozens of hostages. This is Hamas’ most ambitious strike against Israel launched from Gaza.

Israel declared war against Hamas and has counter-attacked Gaza Strip and Hamas bases with airstrikes. It has called for a complete seizure of Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to destroy Hamas and warned that the offensive against the group would continue “without reservation and without respite.”

Over 2,900 people have died within a week of the conflict. Scores of foreigners are among the victims.

Though geography separates the conflict zone from South Asia, the violence has impacted the region directly and indirectly. Only four of the eight countries in the region — Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan — have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Ten Nepali citizens have died in the attacks, with hundreds of others taking shelter in bunkers. On October 12, Nepal air-lifted 253 citizens from the war zone. They are students who were “learning and earning” in Israel. Kathmandu is preparing the logistics to bring back the bodies of the 10 victims.

Similarly, India is preparing for “Operation Ajay” to facilitate the return from Israel of Indian citizens.

China, India on a tightrope over Gaza-Israel war


As Hamas militants launched a sudden attack across the Gaza border, a group of United States senators were in Beijing. When China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement about the attack, it was studiedly neutral, merely calling for “calm” and an immediate ceasefire.

The most senior senator on the trip, the Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, criticized the statement on social media while still in the country, saying he hoped for stronger condemnation of Hamas.

China has shrugged off the criticism, but it points to a hard reality facing Asian countries that seek to be power brokers in the Middle East – politics hasn’t gone away.

Asia’s powerful countries have often looked at America’s influence in the Middle East with envy, and have tried to grab a slice of it. But as the escalating war in Israel demonstrates, there are still hard, unresolved political tensions in the region. And when they explode, it isn’t enough for Asian countries to watch from the sidelines – the countries of the Middle East expect support.

China’s diplomacy is a particularly difficult balancing act, as it has sought to deepen ties with both Israel and the Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, visited the country in June, with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled to follow later this year.

Snubbed by Russia, Israel and Ukraine draw closer after Hamas attack

Rina Bassist

Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn't reached out to Israel since the attack by Hamas last Saturday, focusing his statements in the past few days instead on the rights of the Palestinian people.

"The Palestinian problem is in the heart of every person in this region…And everything that is happening — not only now, but what has been happening for decades — is perceived as a manifestation of injustice, which has been elevated to some incredible degree," Putin said on Wednesday.

This lack of a strong condemnation by Moscow and what is being perceived in Israel as false equivalence between Hamas and the Israeli government, reflects an increase in the chilling of relations between Russia and Israel.

Speaking at the Arab League meeting on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow was “deeply concerned that hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians have died and that the Gaza Strip has been declared a target for Israeli retaliation,” without pointing a finger at Hamas.

Two days earlier, Al Jazeera reported that the members of the United Nations Security Council failed to reach an agreement on a text condemning Hamas. The tv chain said it was apparently Russia who blocked the text.

How the Israel-Hamas war exposed the EU’s irrelevance


At least Europe no longer has to endure that hackneyed Henry Kissinger quip about whom to call if you want “to call Europe.”

No one’s calling anyway.

Of the myriad geostrategic illusions that have been destroyed in recent days, the most sobering realization for anyone residing on the Continent should be this: No one cares what Europe thinks. Across an array of global flashpoints, from Nagorno-Karabakh to Kosovo to Israel, Europe has been relegated to the role of a well-meaning NGO, whose humanitarian contributions are welcomed, but is otherwise ignored.

The 27-member bloc has always struggled to articulate a coherent foreign policy, given the diverse national interests at play. Even so, it still mattered, mainly due to the size of its market. The EU’s global influence is waning, however, amid the secular decline of its economy and its inability to project military might at a time of growing global instability.

Instead of the “geopolitical” powerhouse Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised when she took office in 2019, the EU has devolved into a pan-Europeanminnow, offering a degree of bemusement to the real players at the top table, while mostly just embarrassing itself amid its cacophony of contradictions.

If that sounds harsh, consider the past 72 hours: In the wake of Hamas’ massacre of hundreds of Israeli civilians over the weekend, European Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi announced on Monday that the bloc would “immediately” suspend €691 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority. A few hours later, Slovenian Commissioner Janez Lenarčič contradicted his Hungarian colleague, insisting the aid “will continue as long as needed.”

Israel Must Not React Stupidly

George Packer

If 10/7 was Israel’s 9/11, as many of the country’s leaders have said, the meaning of the comparison is not self-evident. Its implications still have to be worked out, and they might lead to unexpected places.

The horror is comparable, but the scale isn’t. The 1,000 or more civilians butchered on Saturday by Hamas are, relative to Israel’s population, many more than the 3,000 killed in the United States by al-Qaeda; a proportionate number of dead on 9/11 would have been close to 40,000. Al-Qaeda, a transnational group based in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan, had the ability and will to strike terror anywhere in the world, but it could not destroy the United States. Hamas threatens Israel’s very existence—both in principle, according to the genocidal goals set out in its founding manifesto and subsequent statements, and also in practice, as an arm or ally of the more powerful entities in the region that share its aims, Hezbollah, Syria, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Facts like these suggest that the analogy has no more value than most historical comparisons.

And yet something makes Israelis reach back to September 11, 2001. The facts are different, but the feelings are the same: profound shock, unbearable grief, humiliation, rage, and solidarity. Shock because nothing this terrible had ever happened before, even to Israel. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, like the George W. Bush administration, seemed to discount evidence of a coming attack—a failure of intelligence and preparedness that was, perhaps, at bottom a failure of imagination. Solidarity demonstrated in the spontaneous effort of ordinary Israelis, without waiting for official directives, regardless of ideological differences, to save and comfort one another. Ours didn’t last long; neither will theirs. May the memory endure as a reproach to the stupidity and tribalism that plague Israeli politics and ours.

Hamas Has Fractured the Arab World

Ghaith al-Omari

In the days since Hamas launched its ferocious October 7 terrorist attack on Israel and Israel began its massive response in the Gaza Strip, Arab governments have been caught in a difficult bind. Several Arab countries had entered, or were in the process of making, historic normalization agreements with Israel, and Israel’s immediate neighbors and long-standing peace partners, Jordan and Egypt, have enjoyed mutually beneficial diplomatic and security relations that contributed to regional security. At the same time support for the Palestinian cause runs high among Arab populations, and amid a war that seems likely to cause massive destruction in Gaza, Arab leaders must walk a careful line to avoid triggering a domestic and diplomatic backlash. Meanwhile, the floundering Palestinian Authority, long in power in the West Bank, faces escalating challenges of its own. And with a months-long security breakdown, the PA now faces the real possibility that the West Bank could be drawn into Hamas’s war with Israel, as the fighting gets bloodier in Gaza.

As this explosive situation unfolds, sharp divisions have begun to emerge in the Arab world. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which have entered the Abraham Accords with Israel, have issued statements clearly condemning Hamas. In turn, Qatar, Hamas’s main Arab backer, has lashed out at Israel and adopted language very similar to Hamas’s. Jordan and Egypt, meanwhile, with the most at stake on the ground, have remained cautious, navigating between their own national security concerns and restive domestic audiences. And then there is Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally and perhaps the most consequential regional player today. Saudi Arabia was making progress on historic, U.S.-brokered talks with Israel at the time of the attack, yet it also seeks to maintain or perhaps even bolster its leadership role in the Arab world and support for the Palestinians.

What Was Hamas Thinking?

James Robbins

It must be dawning on Hamas that it has made a serious mistake. A senior Hamas official said the group was open to discussing a truce with Israel, having “achieved its targets.” What he meant was that the terrorists desperately want a ceasefire since they are now the targets of Israeli strikes. Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, responded succinctly to the truce offer: “every member of Hamas is a dead man.”

The international community is rightly disgusted by the brutal Hamas terror attacks in Israel. The images over the weekend were beyond revolting: Families were slaughtered in their homes, elderly people massacred at a bus stop, and hundreds of young revelers at a peace festival hunted down and shot. Not to mention the scores of people kidnapped—including Americans—and the sight of screaming young women being hauled away by Hamas thugs to suffer unspeakable acts.

Amid this nightmare, it is fair to ask: What was Hamas thinking?

Sure, the group rolled out its usual talking points. Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh praised the attackers and the scenes of heroic deeds, sacrifices, courage, and pride. Hamas politburo member Moussa Abu Marzouk denied that the terrorists had purposefully targeted civilians. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei lauded Hamas while also saying Iran was uninvolved. (Meanwhile, Iranian citizens booed the Palestinian flag at a soccer match.) Hamas fellow traveler groups, like those at Harvard, rushed out implausible statements blaming Israel for the bloodshed. Progressives in Congress demanded an immediate ceasefire, backing the Hamas line, and now face calls they be expelled.

A trap has been set for Israel


Israel’s forces are massed at the border awaiting orders to launch a “full offensive” against Gaza. For days, airstrikes and artillery have been bombarding the Gaza statelet where Hamas has its warfighting machinery honeycombed inside city blocks. “You will have the ability to change the reality here,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told the waiting Israeli soldiers on Tuesday. “Gaza will never go back to what it was.”

What Gaza was, it is now clear, had been catastrophically misjudged. With few exceptions, Israel’s leaders believed that Hamas was contained, while Washington’s smart set held that increased aid and normalisation would induce Hamas to moderate its positions and play a constructive role in “dialogue”. In 2008, Robert Malley, the lead White House negotiator with Iran for both Obama and Biden, provided what would become the dominant conceptual framework among America’s foreign policy mandarins. “None of them are crazies,” Malley told an interviewer of Hamas and Hezbollah. “They may do things that we consider to belong to a different realm of rationality, but within their own system it’s often very logical.”

Given the chance, Hamas rationally manifested the core tenets of its political vision on Saturday by massacring as many Jews as it could: soldiers and civilians, men, women, and children along with non-Jews, the collateral in its praxis of deliberate extermination. The attack was an extraordinary victory for them and an abject blow to Israel. How did a group thought to be muzzled and incapable manage to gain the strategic initiative against a far more powerful enemy?

Three factors played into Hamas’s success: complacency and unpreparedness inside Israel exacerbated by internal schism; the strengthening of Hamas’s great power-backer Iran; and the rapid unravelling of America’s global leadership, vacillating between reckless provocations and delusional attempts to integrate Iran, while pressuring Israel to embrace its enemies.

On Point: Beijing, Pay Attention: Don't Let Ukraine-Gaza Lead to WWIII Taiwan

Austin Bay

FACT ONE: A major land war rages in Europe. Twenty months ago, Russia invaded Ukraine without provocation and the horror grinds on with mass casualties and World-War-I-like attrition.

FACT TWO: War in the Middle East. An Iranian proxy army, Hamas, launches a complex and well-planned attack on Israel. Mass atrocity by Islamist terrorists shocks the civilized world -- at least what's left of civilization.

OK, the Gaza Strip is a confined space. FACT THREE: Iranian proxies have fired into northern Israel -- from Syria and Lebanon. Israel could hit the proxies, then retaliate against Iran. Thus the Hamas War can quickly escalate to a regional conflict involving the Persian Gulf's energy-exporting states. The global economic effects are dire.

Is war in Asia the next explosion igniting World War III?

To be accurate, several wars afflict Asia -- and several of these wars involve powerful communist China.

China wages a frozen war with India in the Himalayas -- the Sino-Indian War of 1962 is not over. Since the 1990s China has waged a slow but calculated war of territorial aggression in the South China Sea. In July 2016, The Hague's international arbitral tribunal, relying on the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea treaty (UNCLOS), issued a ruling supporting the Philippines' claims that China had violated Filipino territory in the South China Sea by seizing islets and "sea features."

How Hamas Fooled the Experts


For the past 20 years, the best minds in Washington and Jerusalem treated Hamas as a pragmatic political operator whose leaders were satisfied living in the same world as the rest of us. Their charter, first adopted in 1988, endorsed a set of bloodcurdling millenarian goals. But despite the open madness and world-making ambitions of their public pronouncements, Hamas remained a semi-legitimate player, treated as just one unremarkable thread in the Middle East’s rich tapestry of mildly threatening, gun-toting political dreamers. Even to the most hardened Israeli security officials they were a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot whose extreme rhetoric and regrettably unshakable habit of murdering Jewish civilians could be understood within the normative politics of “resistance movements.” Their behavior could therefore be modulated and controlled through a proper combination of sticks and carrots.

This view is untenable after this weekend, but I understand why it existed for so long. I once held versions of it myself. I visited the Gaza Strip on a two-day reporting trip in the winter of 2014, a couple of months after what was naively thought of as a major round of fighting between Israel and Hamas. I joined the ranks of journalists stupid enough to believe what we thought we’d seen there.

The Hamas statelet, though no poorer than places I’d been in Egypt and Jordan, and materially better off than Somalia or South Sudan, possessed its own special feeling of isolation that had the weight of an ambient despair. It was unnerving to turn on the radio and hear martial chanting about avenging Al-Aqsa, or to constantly look at billboards of Knesset member Yehuda Glick in a sniper crosshair. Members of the Strip’s Hamas-controlled police force used the empty lot down the street from my hotel on the Gaza City waterfront as a drilling ground.

In the wake of tragedy, Israelis unite


In the wake of the unspeakably horrific events of October 7, Israelis have demonstrated a remarkable unity that speaks to the indomitable spirit of our nation.

President Isaac Herzog remarked on Wednesday that the attack had awakened a profound sense of solidarity among the Israeli people. This heartening unity is palpable across the country as citizens come together to offer unwavering support for one another. Herzog, recognizing this inspiring display of resilience, visited Sderot on Wednesday to witness these efforts firsthand and meet the brave first responders.

Sderot, a city that has borne the brunt of conflict for decades, stands as a prime example of how Israeli society unites in times of crisis. Countless volunteer groups have converged at a local community center, generously providing essential supplies, including food and diapers, to its residents. Lev Ahad, one such group, has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to supporting the Sderot community. Even as some Sderot residents seek temporary refuge in hotels near the Dead Sea and other locations, volunteers continue to pour in.

At the city’s entrance, a food truck selflessly offers complimentary meals to soldiers, first responders, and police officers. Religious groups have arrived to sing and foster a sense of community and joy during these trying times. Members of Ahim Laneshek, a group that had recently protested against the government, are now coming together to provide food and other essential donations at the community center.

Why Perpetual Conflict Suits Palestine’s Terrorist

John Lee

Hamas, the designated terrorist group in control of the Gaza Strip, is promising its assault and invasion of Israel will extend all the way to Jerusalem and the West Bank. The entity’s military commander, Mohammed Deif, has urged Arab citizens of Israel to join with Iranian-backed proxies in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria to take up arms against their own homeland. As Deif explains, this is the day of the great revolution –meaning the beginning of the end of Israel.

We don’t yet know whether a coordinated attack against Israel will occur or, if it does, how it will play out.

Regardless, one can make two assessments concerning the Hamas offensive. The first is that the Albanese government’s decision in August to refer to Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied” rather than “disputed” territories will now seem naive, ill-thought through and even untenable. The second is that a two-state solution is now even more unlikely than it has ever been.

In designating these regions as occupied Palestinian territory, one might argue the Labor government was merely adopting a terminology endorsed by most members of the United Nations, and, in any event, it changes little in practical terms.

To the extent that it matters, supporters of this position argue that the symbolic shift creates better momentum for the widely endorsed two-state solution. Indeed, this was the justification offered. Symbolism – even if that is all it is – does matter. Otherwise, why do it?

Why Bangladesh Pays Billions To Idle Power Plants

Nazmul Ahasan and Kamran Reza Chowdhury

Bangladesh – a country that often suffers from blackouts – has capacity to produce electricity that far outpaces demand, and pays tens of millions of dollars monthly to power plants when they are idle, government officials say.

That’s because the government has spent more than U.S. $9 billion since 2009 to subsidize power firms using an overly upbeat forecast for economic growth – resulting in a bloated electricity capacity that the government has committed to paying for, government documents show.

“It’s like a wedding party where you expected 10,000 guests, but in the end, only half showed up,” said Khondaker Golam Moazzem, an industrial economist at the Center for Policy Dialogue, a prominent think-tank in Dhaka. “Since you already committed to paying the costs for hosting those guests, you will have to pay the money even if much of the venue remains unused.”

In September, Nasrul Hamid, state minister for power, energy, and mineral resources, told Parliament that the government had paid 7.5 trillion taka (about $7.5 billion) to 82 large private producers as a “capacity charge” and 2.8 trillion taka (about $2.8 billion) to smaller oil-fired power producers as rental payment over 14 years.

In Bangladesh, in this context, “capacity charge” and “rental payment” are understood as subsidies awarded to private power plants in the event that the government doesn’t need to buy electricity from them.

A Rail Line From China To Myanmar

Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray

The Meeting

On 25-26 September 2023, China hosted the Global Sustainable Transport Forum in Beijing. Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng attended the opening ceremony and read a congratulatory letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping. The forum, reported by Chinese media, was an opportunity for China to stress that it is committed to ‘promoting global transport cooperation and providing the world with new opportunities through its own development.’

In attendance, among others, was Mya Tun Oo, deputy prime minister and transport minister of the State Administration Council (SAC), formed by the Myanmar military. On the sidelines of the meeting, he reportedly discussed the Muse-Mandalay rail project with the Chinese.

The Project

The proposed Muse-Mandalay railway project (MMRP), unveiled in 2011, is a major part of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) and the broader Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China that includes the construction of a Pan-Asian Railway Network running through Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. Proposed to be built by Myanmar’s state-run Myanma Railways and the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group (CREEG), the MMRP would link Kunming, the capital of China’s southern Yunnan province, and Mandalay in central Myanmar through the Muse border in Shan State. It is projected as a 431-kilometre-long standard-gauge railway project with an estimated cost of US$9 billion.

Under the CMEC framework, the proposal is also to further extend the line from Mandalay to the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (KP SEZ) and the New Yangon City, the two other key sites of China-Myanmar infrastructure projects. China is developing a deep-sea port at Kyaukphyu, a city on the Bay of Bengal in Rakhine State. An 800-kilometre China-Myanmar Oil and Gas Pipeline, which began operations in 2009, has been running from Kyaukphyu through Mandalay and Magway regions, and northern Shan state. Once completed, the rail line will allow Chinese trade to bypass the congested Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia and boost development in landlocked Yunnan. More crucially, Beijing wants to avert the worst-case scenario of a foreign power disrupting its oil shipments from the Middle East by blockading the straits.

US must be ready for simultaneous wars with China, Russia

Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON, Oct 12 (Reuters) - The United States must prepare for possible simultaneous wars with Russia and China by expanding its conventional forces, strengthening alliances and enhancing its nuclear weapons modernization program, a congressionally appointed bipartisan panel said on Thursday.

The report from the Strategic Posture Commission comes amid tensions with China over Taiwan and other issues and worsening frictions with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

A senior official involved in the report declined to say if the panel's intelligence briefings showed any Chinese and Russian nuclear weapons cooperation.

"We worry ... there may be ultimate coordination between them in some way, which gets us to this two-war construct," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The findings would upend current U.S. national security strategy calling for winning one conflict while deterring another and require huge defense spending increases with uncertain congressional support.

"We do recognize budget realities, but we also believe the nation must make these investments," the Democratic chair, Madelyn Creedon, a former deputy head of the agency that oversees U.S. nuclear weapons, and the vice chair, Jon Kyl, a retired Republican senator, said in the report's preface.

Did China Really Lose a Nuclear Submarine?


ONE OF THE CHALLENGES of reporting on China, for the media and intelligence agencies alike, is sifting through the constant river of mis- and disinformation stimulated by the habitual secrecy of the Chinese Communist Party and exacerbated by its most rabid enemies.

The problem goes back to Mao’s time, when the country was basically “closed” to all but friendly visitors. Despite its 1972 rapprochement with the United States, the practice has continued under successive leaders, more recently by China-sponsored foreign vloggers who strive to present a positive view of the People’s Republic, “telling China’s story well.” Likewise, opponents of China never waste an opportunity to exaggerate Beijing’s problems, with some promoting conspiracy theories, a situation aggravated by the current leadership’s push to hinder or make illegal the gathering of even the most mundane of business and academic data.

Now comes a series of reports, repeating articles last week from the UK tabloid the Daily Mail, saying a Chinese submarine crashed in the Yellow Sea on Aug. 21 with the loss of all 55 aboard. Citing “a secret UK report,” it identified the vessel as a type 093, dubbed by NATO a “Shang class” submarine.

The death of the think-tanker


Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the most famous think-tanker of all time, passed away in June this year. But rather than any policy paper or legislative advocacy, he is remembered for an action then treated as treachery and now regarded as heroism. Following on from his work for the Rand Corporation, Ellsberg was hired by the US government in the Sixties to advise them in Vietnam. Eventually disgusted by what he saw, Ellsberg leaked the “Pentagon Papers”, the military’s secret internal history of the Vietnamese war. His actions led directly to the Watergate scandal, as President Richard Nixon began an obsessive campaign to root out internal enemies, eventually unravelling public support for the war and his own administration.

On 29 June 1971, in the midst of the uproar, the FBI sat General Edward Lansdale down for an “interview”. Lansdale was the godfather of US counterinsurgency warfare, often (falsely) believed to be the inspiration for The Quiet American by Graham Greene. He had supervised Ellsberg during their time in Vietnam and, asked about their relationship, Lansdale began to philosophise about the relationship between intellectuals and the leaders they advise. “Intellectuals are sometimes strange people,” he mused, adding that Ellsberg worked in a “cloistered atmosphere”. The FBI agents concluded that, in Lansdale’s view, Ellsberg “failed to realise the life and death of United States troops were involved” in the questions he dealt with. That last accusation might have come as a shock to Ellsberg, who had carried a rifle and walked into many life-and-death situations himself.

Lansdale’s interrogation notes formed part of Ellsberg’s FBI dossier, released after Ellsberg’s death under the Freedom of Information Act. And, read today, the files shed considerable light on the changing relationship between academia and power in the West. Ellsberg was one of the first generation of “think tankers”, originally freewheeling intellectuals drafted by the government to solve difficult problems. His line of inquiry would ultimately lead him to break the law and publicly oppose the government.

It’s Not Just America in Decline. Culture Wars Threaten Western Civilization

William Moloney

When in 1787 Benjamin Franklin emerged from the final day of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, a woman in the waiting crowd asked, “What do we have, doctor, a monarchy or a republic?” He famously replied, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.” Implicit in Franklin’s admonitory response was the recognition that to create a novel polity perched precariously on the edge of a continent-size wilderness was one thing; to nurture and preserve it was a different — and daunting — kind of challenge altogether.

Yet from those tentative and fragile beginnings, our fledgling republic would grow to become in less than two centuries a globe-girdling military and economic colossus and the principal architect of a rules-based international order that provided a stable framework for an era that would witness unprecedented advances in the material well-being of peoples around the world.

However, today that global order faces a growing series of interlocking crises so grave in nature as to potentially threaten its existence.

Indicative of this danger is a recent column in the Wall Street Journal by Walter Russell Mead, entitled “The Rules-Based International Order is Quietly Disintegrating,” in which he states that “the core institutions and initiatives of the American-led world order and the governments that back them are growing progressively weaker and less relevant.” By way of illustration, Mead describes tottering pillars of world order, including an increasingly paralyzed United Nations, an irrelevant World Court, a largely toothless World Trade Organization, disappearing arms control efforts, an apparent stalemate in the Ukraine war, and rapidly spreading chaos in sub-Saharan Africa.

Ukraine's 'free-spirited use' of anti-tank missiles is wrecking Russian armor, but it doesn't mean the tank's days are over

Michael Peck

Ukrainian troops with anti-tank missile launchers at a ceremony in Kyiv.

Anti-tank missiles have wreaked havoc against Russian tanks in Ukraine.

But the lessons of Ukraine aren't that straightforward. Military experts have argued the tank's poor showing in recent conflicts across Eurasia stems more from decisions about how to employ those tanks rather than from the failings of the tank itself.

"Ukraine mostly confirms that tanks remain survivable, and other conflicts confirm that some are more survivable than others," Sam Cranny-Evans wrote in European Security and Defence in January.

A question raised from the war in Ukraine is whether the ratio of anti-tank guided missiles, known as ATGMs, to tanks has been so extreme it would distort any conclusions. "One element of the war in Ukraine that is perhaps unique, however, is the sheer mass of ATGMs," added Cranny-Evans, who was previously a land-warfare researcher at the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank.

"They are present in such numbers that units feel comfortable using them to engage bunkers, trucks, light armored vehicles, personnel, and any other target that can be justified," Cranny-Evans wrote in reference to Ukrainian forces, noting that such "free-spirited use" of anti-tank missiles had been seen in previous wars, including by US forces in Afghanistan.

What Could Happen if America Stops Supporting Ukraine

Michael “Mick” Patrick Mulroy and Chris Hyslop

There has been much debate on whether the United States should continue aid to Ukraine. That debate sharpened after Hamas attacked Israel last Saturday, with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) posting on X (formerly known as Twitter), “Israel is facing existential threat. Any funding for Ukraine should be redirected to Israel immediately.”

Support for additional aid to Ukraine among regular Americans has been softening. While 76% of Americans hope for a Ukrainian victory, only 59% are willing to provide the arms and resources necessary for that victory.

Such a position is untenable not only because it ignores the centrality of American equipment to Ukraine’s battlefield successes but also because it fails to reconcile itself with the reality of what would happen if American aid stopped.

What would the world look like if America gradually turns off the taps of military, economic, diplomatic, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine?

Without American support, Europe would try to fill the gap but ultimately fail. Although European aid to Ukraine is currently twice that of America’s, without American leadership, European resolve and support would weaken. In which case, overwhelming Russian force would eventually bow Ukraine by brute force and mass war crimes against civilians. A peace deal favorable to Russia would be struck, a Russia-friendly government installed, a sham referendum launched and 99.8% of “voters” in Russian-occupied land “deciding” to become Russia proper.


Mason Clark and Karolina Hird

This report contains two sections: an introductory essay on the regular Russian ground forces; and a fully sourced order of battle (ORBAT) of Russia’s regular ground forces down to the brigade and regiment echelon (with select independent battalions), including the army, ground forces controlled by the the navy, Airborne (VDV) units, and GRU Spetsnaz formations.

The following essay is intended as an introduction to the regular Russian ground forces for security studies professionals, policymakers, and journalists who are not necessarily Russia specialists. This report covers the federal-level structure of Russia’s armed services and General Staff; Russia’s personnel system; general characteristics of Russian ground capabilities; Russian organizational structure from the Military District to the brigade/regiment level; and a brief discussion of the Battalion Tactical Group (BTG). This report draws on the sources in the accompanying annotated bibliography and the authors’ study of the Russian armed forces, supplemented where necessary with footnotes exploring exceptions and adding further context.

This order of battle of the Russian regular ground forces is ISW’s assessment of the on-paper structure of the regular Russian ground forces as of January 2023. It covers the Army, ground forces of the Navy, VDV, and GRU Spetsnaz down to the regiment and brigade level. It does not cover the Aerospace (VKS) forces (including air and air defense armies); Navy surface warfare and submarine assets; or the strategic rocket forces. We have excluded the 1st and 2nd Army Corps (the armed forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic [DNR] and Luhansk People’s Republic [LNR],

Russia’s Bloodied Navy Remains a Threat

Gonzalo Vázquez

Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the Russian navy has suffered major naval losses in the Black Sea — including several of its large surface vessels. This failure to retain control against Ukraine´s Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) and cruise missile attacks highlights the difficulties that Russian naval forces face in the quest to meet the Kremlin’s ambitions.

But it would be wrong to assume that the Russian navy will no longer be a serious threat to NATO; particularly in the Pacific, the Mediterranean, and High North.

Since the outbreak of full-scale war early in 2022, the Russian Navy’s Back Sea Fleet has had a difficult time supporting its forces deployed on land. Through the effective employment of USVs to conduct surprise attacks and kamikaze strikes, Ukraine has managed to inflict a significant degree of material damage on its opponent. The loss of the cruiser Moskva to Neptune missiles in April 2022 was a watershed moment for the Russian navy and another milestone in its gradual decline into a green water force (that’s to say a force largely operating in its littoral areas) over the coming years.

Indeed, as indicated by the recent withdrawal of vessels from the Sevastopol naval base and their subsequent relocation to Novorossiysk, 350km (200-plus miles) to the east, the consequences of the conflict for the Black Sea Fleet have prompted a decline of Russian naval power both in the region and in the number of large surface combatants more generally.


Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Mason Clark

Ongoing Russian offensive operations throughout the Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast area on October 13 reportedly faced setbacks around the city. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces continued to attack areas north and south of Avdiivka, and geolocated footage published on October 12 and 13 indicates that Russian forces advanced south of Krasnohorivka (5km north of Avdiivka) and southeast of Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka).[1] Russian sources also published conflicting reports about previous claims by Russian sources of Russian control of the Avdiivka Coke Plant, and ISW has not observed any evidence to confirm that Russian forces control the plant as of publication.[2] Ukrainian military officials reported that Ukrainian forces continue to repel Russian attacks around Avdiivka.[3] A Russian milblogger noted that Ukrainian forces are using minefields to slow down Russian advances in the Avdiivka direction.[4] A Russian volunteer in the 4th Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Brigade (2nd Army Corps, Southern Military District) claimed that worn out barrels are reducing the accuracy of Russian artillery near Avdiivka, a complaint about Russian artillery that ISW has previously observed from Russian sources.[5] The volunteer assessed that Russian forces can ”compress the [Ukrainian] perimeter” by capturing less fortified Ukrainian-held territory near Avdiivka, but expressed concern that Russian generals will misinterpret these limited advances and try to speed up offensive efforts towards Avdiivka. The volunteer noted that such a misinterpretation may lead Russian forces to “beat on concrete” fortifications until these forces run out.

The Russian military command appears to be restricting discussion of the Russian offensive operations around Avdiivka in the Russian information space, likely in an attempt to adapt to previous information shocks and control any narratives that emerge in the Russian information space around these operations. A prominent Russian milblogger claimed on October 12 that the Russian military command was “dispensing information [about Russian offensive operations] in doses,” but then claimed on October 13 that the Russian military command was ”minimizing the release of information into the public domain” as the Russian military does not want “media hype” surrounding operations near Avdiivka.[6] Another Russian milblogger also claimed on October 13 that unspecified actors, likely Russian military leadership, instructed milbloggers to not discuss the details of the fighting near Avdiivka.[7]

The Geopolitics of EU Enlargement


The debate surrounding the European Union’s potential expansion is no longer really about Ukraine and the western Balkans. Enlargement is now an existential question with far-reaching implications for the EU and its ability to remain a prominent player in a rapidly changing global environment.

BERLIN – Where will Europe’s borders end? On October 6, EU leaders convened in Granada, Spain, to discuss a question that has captivated Eurocrats, think tanks, and journalists throughout the bloc since the start of the war in Ukraine.

While the European Union already granted Ukraine candidate status in June 2022, the European Council is expected to vote on beginning formal accession talks on December 15. But the debate in Spain shows that the question is no longer really about Ukraine and the western Balkans; it is now an existential question with far-reaching implications for the EU and its role in a fast-changing global environment.

The EU appears to be moving toward radical reinvention, a “refoundation” built on three pillars, each of which is the subject of fierce debate. It is looking for a grand bargain between geopolitical imperatives and liberal values.

The first pillar is security. As the EU shifts from a peace project to a war project, it is forced to reconsider some of its core assumptions. Most obviously, European leaders must give up their aversion to hard power. But it is still unclear how this process will play out: Can European governments unite and develop their own military capabilities, or will they squander their money on ready-made equipment from the United States and South Korea?

Upcoming Air Force demos aim to connect commercial satcom with military platforms


The Air Force Research Laboratory will conduct a set of demonstrations over the next few years that will seek to provide air- and ground-based military systems with ubiquitous connectivity using commercial satellite constellations.

The demonstrations are part of AFRL’s Defense Experimentation Using Commercial Space Internet (DEUSCI) program, which aims to leverage burgeoning commercial space internet services in order to establish resilient communications and data-sharing capabilities for warfighters. A notice on Sam.gov states the end goal is to establish “path agnostic communications” — or the ability to “reliably communicate to any location on the globe without explicitly specifying which nodes of a communication network to use.”

The program’s mission ties directly into the Pentagon’s vision for its new warfighting concept known as Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). The effort seeks to connect systems that are currently siloed across the battlespace under a single network, enabling warfighters to quickly send and receive critical decision-making data.

The lab initially began DEUSCI in 2017 and has since given awards to several defense contractors and commercial satcom providers to work on the effort. Earlier this year, AFRL awarded Northrop Grumman and L3Harris individual contracts for upcoming experiments that will focus on connecting military platforms with different commercial satcom constellations located in low-Earth, medium-Earth and geosynchronous orbits.