28 November 2023

Hamas Still Holding 15 Thai Nationals in Gaza, Bangkok Says

Sebastian Strangio

The Palestinian militant group Hamas is still holding 15 Thai nationals hostage, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, after 17 were freed over several days during a truce between Hamas and Israel.

In a statement today, the Ministry said that it “warmly congratulates the recently released hostages and their families and thanks all parties involved in the efforts towards this latest release.”

“For the remaining 15 Thai hostages, the Royal Thai Government continues to exert all efforts towards their safe release at the earliest opportunity,” it added, “while preparing to bring back the now 17 Thais who have already been released, back to Thailand after their preliminary checks as soon as possible.”

The Ministry said that the Thai nationals were released in three groups beginning on Friday with the release of 10 people. It later issued two updates as news of further releases, of four and three Thai hostages, became clear. These releases were accompanied by photographs of those released meeting doctors at a medical center in Israel.

The released Thais were among the 240 people taken hostage on October 7, when Hamas launched brutal incursions into southern Israel, killing more than 1,200 people, according to the Israeli government’s figures, and sparking the current war. Thai nationals were the largest foreign contingent to fall victim to the attacks, with the Foreign Ministry initially claiming that 39 were killed in the raids and another 25 captured.

Is Hamas buying time with hostage releases?


The hostage deal reached late Wednesday in the Israel-Hamas war is set to halt fighting in the conflict for at least four days, but its open-ended nature raises concerns about whether the pause may assist Hamas strategically, as the U.S. and Israel both hope to wipe out the terrorist organization.

The Israel-Hamas war began early last month when Hamas militants killed 1,200 Israelis in a brutal surprise attack on border settlements and took about another 250 people hostage.

The deal reached this week is set to free 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for a temporary cessation of hostilities and the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners to the West Bank.

But critics of the agreement note that any pause in fighting may only play into Hamas’ hands and allow the group to extend its fight against Israel.

That criticism marks a division within Israel and among its allies, University of New Haven national security senior lecturer Ken Gray told The Hill.

“For the IDF, this pause causes problems because it gets time for Hamas to realign their forces, to try to shore up some areas that they may not have had people in at that time,” Gray said. “It gives [Hamas] a chance to retrench themselves.”

“In many ways, there is a conflict as to what the primary mission is,” he continued. “The IDF’s primary mission is to be able to remove Hamas as a threat, while others in Israel want to try to resolve this peacefully and as quickly as possible in order to get the hostages back.”

Assessing the Legality of Ousting Hamas

Nguyen Quoc Tan Trung

In the last few weeks, there have been many authoritative articles discussing the legality of the Israel–Hamas incursion that has now escalated into a full-scale war. However, most of these articles refer almost exclusively to the jus in bello aspects of the war, which are the area of the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law. For example, an informative article by David J. Scheffer of the United States Council on Foreign Relations briefly concluded that “International law does not explicitly prohibit the use of force to eliminate an organisation such as Hamas…” before moving on to the discussion of the Geneva Convention and the possibility that there have been war crimes in this conflict. Similarly, the threat posed by Hamas to Israel might, presumably, render Israel’s new war aims proportionate under jus ad bellum, according to Amichai Cohen and Yuval Shany’s detailed work on Just Security. Again, the authors focus more on jus in bello legality, insisting that even if the objective is legitimate, the conduct of war needs to conform to the principles of humanitarian law.

While agreeing with the above analysis, the author of this article wishes to reverse the direction of the argument. That is to say, it discusses whether the complete removal of Hamas is an acceptable war objective in international law, and this assessment should, in return, contribute to the way in which we consider the test of proportionality and ceasefire demands.

The debates on the “occupied status” of Gaza will not be revisited here. Resolution A/ES-10/L.25, (October 2023), makes it clear that the majority of the international community continues to follow the existing UNGA/UNSC resolutions, asserting that Israel is the “occupying power” in Gaza and the rest of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories”. Indeed, as the story unfolds, the capacity of the Hamas administration to prepare for a full air/ground invasion into Israeli territory challenges the argument that Israel can effectively make its superior authority felt inside Gaza. Nevertheless, if we accept the proposition that Israel is the occupying power of Gaza, Hamas would be seen as the de facto “local government”, “local authorities”, “local institutions”, or “public officials” of Gaza, to use the language of the US DoD Law of War Manual (Rule 11.8) and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 (Article 50, 54, and 56). Such a description seems to fit with the reality that governments and news media often communicate.

The tunnels: How Hamas buried Gaza's future


Consider the New York City subway system. Launched in 1904, it carried 1.8 billion passengers last year, over 248 route miles beneath the sprawling city, covering Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Amazing. It is hard to imagine life in the city without its metro.

There is another “metro.” It is the web of tunnels beneath Gaza. Its goal is not to facilitate life but to bring death. And it is at long last seen by Israel as an existential strategic threat that must be destroyed. To do so will take creative thinking and a massive ground invasion, facing huge difficulties.
How large is the Gaza ‘metro’?

Truly staggering. The tunnels stretch for miles beneath the length and breadth of Gaza. An IDF website notes that since January 2014, some 4,680 trucks carrying 181,000 tons of gravel, iron, cement, wood, and other materials passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza – from Israel. Yes, we Israelis were fully complicit in this.

The Hamas-CNN axis is from China’s ‘Go to War’ playbook

Kerry K. Gershaneck

Early on the morning of Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists savagely massacred roughly 1,400 Israelis and took hostage about 400 more, the press was in place, ready — and seemingly eager — to record the action. News media collaboration with Hamas is not unprecedented, but this time, America must pay attention. In the not-too-distant future, we will see such media collaboration with China’s forces attacking American troops and installations as part of its much broader political warfare playbook. We are not prepared.

According to Reporters Without Borders, photojournalists affiliated with CNN, Associated Press, The New York Times, and Reuters knew where to be when the Hamas butchery began. Some were apparently embedded with the terrorists as they infiltrated Israel on their mission of sadistic mass murder and abduction. International news organizations published the reporters’ images and reports, in effect assisting Hamas’ psychological warfare and propaganda campaign.

Like these news organizations, China is also supporting Hamas’ psychological warfare and propaganda. While news media collaboration with Hamas is not without precedent, Beijing’s increasingly sophisticated political warfare support for Hamas is unprecedented. Beijing has not condemned Hamas’ mass murder and hostage-taking, and its propaganda platforms block all reports about Hamas’s savage attack while sensationalizing Israel’s military response. Further, anti-Israeli propaganda on Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-affiliated TikTok is having a global impact. Finally, China is coordinating its propaganda campaign with Russia and Iran, complicating efforts to detect and defeat it.

In fact, Hamas’ co-option of the news media is straight out of China’s political warfare playbook. George Kennan defined political warfare as all means a nation uses to achieve its strategic objectives short of kinetic war. China‘s political warfare includes media warfare, legal warfare, psychological warfare, United Front operations, active measures like assassination, and a seemingly endless array of unrestricted warfare. As China’s playbook unfolds in the Hamas-Israel conflict, we see what will unfold when Beijing initiates kinetic war. Like Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre, that war may come faster than expected.

Tagore’s Early Twentieth Century International Thought

Liane Hartnett

Endeavours to deprovincialize the discipline of International Relations (IR) including the embrace of global IR (Acharya and Buzan 2019), the recovery of neglected and erased political figures’ international thought (e.g., Owens, Rietzler, Hutchings and Dunstan 2022; Kapila 2021; Vitalis 2015), and the turn to literature as a site of international theorising (e.g. Hunt 2022; Mrovlje 2017) have collectively served to create space for a renewed focus on Rabindranath Tagore’s contribution to IR. Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali polymath who described himself as a confluence of many cultures. After becoming the Nobel Laureate in Literature in 1913, he acquired the status of an international celebrity and traversed multiple political circles. In many ways, then, he was no marginal figure. Scholarship on Tagore’s life and works have long flourished in South Asia (e.g., Chakravarty and Chaudhuri 2017; Tuteja and Chakraborty 2017; Puri 2015; Haque 2010). A few prominent political theorists offer close and compelling engagements with his work (Berlin 2019; Nussbaum 2015; Sen 2006). Yet, but for some notable exceptions (e.g., Shani 2022; Devare 2018; Rao 2010), Tagore remains largely understudied in IR. This article seeks to redress this by offering a brief introduction to Tagore and contextualising and situating his early twentieth century international thought in the IR lexicon.

A Myriad Minded Man

Rabindranath Tagore was born on 7 May 1861 to Sharada Devi and Debendranath Tagore in Calcutta (present day Kolkata). At the heart of the Bengal Renaissance, the Tagores were the first family of Bengal (Vajpeyi 2012). Rabindranath’s grandfather ‘Prince’ Dwarkanath Tagore was a trader, banker and philanthropist who was a guest of Queen Victoria and King Louis Phillipe. His father, ‘Maharshi’ (Great Sage) Debendranath Tagore co-founded the religious reform movement, Brahmoism (Dutta and Robinson 1997; Collins 2012). Among Tagore’s many accomplished family members were the mathematician, philosopher, and poet, Dwijendranath Tagore, the first Bengali woman novelist, Swarnakumari Tagore, the artist and founder of the Bengal School of Art, Abanindranath Tagore, and the woman of letters, Kadambari Devi (Dutta and Robinson 1997).

Growing up in this immensely creative environment profoundly shaped Tagore’s development. It more than compensated for his unconventional formal education which included brief and often unsuccessful stints at four schools, and later, University College London. Indeed, in 1913, Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1915, in recognition of his services to Literature, he was awarded a knighthood. In 1940, the University of Oxford conferred him with an honorary doctorate. Upon gaining independence, India and Bangladesh adopted his compositions as national anthems. Less celebrated – but no less significant – were his ecological or ‘rural reconstruction’ initiatives at Sriniketan, and the founding of his global university, Visva Bharati. The former influenced both the government of India’s development practices and inspired the formation of Dartington Trusts (Dutta and Robinson 1997), while the latter was dedicated to the study of humanity and had among its many visitors, the International Relations scholar, Merze Tate (Vitalis 2015). Tagore, then, was a myriad minded man: he was a poet, author, artist, composer, ecologist, educator, and a political figure.

Pentagon’s AI initiatives accelerate hard decisions on lethal autonomous weapons


Artificial intelligence employed by the U.S. military has piloted pint-sized surveillance drones in special operations forces’ missions and helped Ukraine in its war against Russia. It tracks soldiers’ fitness, predicts when Air Force planes need maintenance and helps keep tabs on rivals in space.

Now, the Pentagon is intent on fielding multiple thousands of relatively inexpensive, expendable AI-enabled autonomous vehicles by 2026 to keep pace with China. The ambitious initiative — dubbed Replicator — seeks to “galvanize progress in the too-slow shift of U.S. military innovation to leverage platforms that are small, smart, cheap, and many,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said in August.

While its funding is uncertain and details vague, Replicator is expected to accelerate hard decisions on what AI tech is mature and trustworthy enough to deploy - including on weaponized systems.

There is little dispute among scientists, industry experts and Pentagon officials that the U.S. will within the next few years have fully autonomous lethal weapons. And though officials insist humans will always be in control, experts say advances in data-processing speed and machine-to-machine communications will inevitably relegate people to supervisory roles.

That’s especially true if, as expected, lethal weapons are deployed en masse in drone swarms. Many countries are working on them — and neither China, Russia, Iran, India or Pakistan have signed a U.S.-initiated pledge to use military AI responsibly.

Ex-Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Hints at Return to Politics

Mong Palatino

Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that he would come out of retirement if his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, is impeached by Congress.

“You know what, if you do that, I shall be returning to politics, I will be forced, either I run for senator or vice president even if I am old already,” Duterte said on his TV show on November 20.

“I do not lose anything. I am retired. If that (impeachment) happens and I am still alive and do not have dementia yet, I will run.”

The former president is reacting to reports that some lawmakers are planning to file an impeachment complaint against the younger Duterte over the use of confidential funds.

After the end of his term as president in June 2022, Duterte announced his retirement from politics, but his three children continue to hold elected positions. Under the 1987 Constitution, he is barred from seeking another term as president but can run for other positions.

Meanwhile, Vice President Duterte is accused of improperly spending her confidential funds in just 11 days in December 2022. Confidential funds are not subject to normal auditing procedures because they are assumed to involve sensitive national security matters.

During this year’s budget debate, opposition lawmakers questioned the use of confidential funds by civilian agencies. Duterte initially rebuffed the criticisms and accused critics of being enemies of the state. After Congress realigned the confidential funds, Duterte relented and withdrew the funding request as she acknowledged that the issue had become divisive.

Indonesian Government Claims ‘Positive’ Progress in Myanmar Talks

Sebastian Strangio

Indonesia’s government says that it has hosted a meeting of some of the “major stakeholders” in Myanmar’s civil war, at which each gave a “positive indication” about holding an inclusive dialogue soon.

In a statement Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the November 20-22 meetings in Jakarta were attended by “multi-stakeholders representing the Spring Revolution,” including representatives of ethnic resistance forces and the opposition National Unity Government (NUG). The military administration was represented by “interlocutors,” the statement said, though it did not elaborate on their identity.

The aim of the meeting, which involved parallel meetings, was to “push forward the implementation” of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s Five-Point Consensus peace plan, which calls for “the convening of inclusive dialogues for a comprehensive and durable political solution to the crisis in Myanmar.”

The meetings were also attended by a representative of the government of Laos, which will chair ASEAN next year.

According to the Ministry, the Office of the Special Envoy “also facilitated the exchanges of ‘messages’ from each group that were expected to pave the way for a possible preliminary dialogue, leading towards inclusive national dialogues in order to find a durable and comprehensive solution to the crisis.”

Taiwan Draws Clear US-Versus-China Battle Lines in Key Election

Jennifer Creery

Taiwan’s voters in January will have the chance to reset the island’s fraught relationship with China, and cool down one of the world’s key geopolitical flashpoints.

With less than seven weeks to go until polling day, that prospect now hangs in the balance after opposition parties that seek better relations with Beijing failed to unite behind a single candidate, despite weeks of chaotic and often acrimonious negotiations that played out in public.

The collapse of the opposition alliance makes Chinese President Xi Jinping’s stated goal of voluntary unification with Taiwan more remote, with pro-Beijing votes scattered among the challengers to the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party. That would benefit the ruling party’s candidate, Vice President Lai Ching-te, who wants to further strengthen Taiwan’s ties with Washington.

Standing in Lai’s way are the Kuomintang’s Hou Yu-ih and the Taiwan People’s Party’s Ko Wen-je, both of whom have said they plan to restart direct talks with Beijing. Foxconn Technology Group founder Terry Gou withdrew from the presidential race just hours before Friday’s registration deadline, saying he did so for the “greater good” to give the two remaining opposition candidates a better chance of unseating the DPP.
Taiwan Presidential Preference

Polls numbers in percent

Despite the fractured opposition, an unprecedented third straight term in power for the DPP is by no means a foregone conclusion. After almost eight years in power, there’s growing unhappiness with the party and a desire for change, especially among younger voters. Support for Lai dipped to 31.4%, leaving him just a fraction ahead of the KMT’s Hou on 31.1%, according to a survey by the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation released Friday. Ko trails in third place on 25.2%.

Can Taiwan Continue to Fight Off Chinese Disinformation?

Tiffany Hsu, Amy Chang Chien and Steven Lee Myers

Suspicious videos that began circulating in Taiwan this month seemed to show the country’s leader advertising cryptocurrency investments.

President Tsai Ing-wen, who has repeatedly risked Beijing’s ire by asserting her island’s autonomy, appeared to claim in the clips that the government helped develop investment software for digital currencies, using a term that is common in China but rarely used in Taiwan. Her mouth appeared blurry and her voice unfamiliar, leading Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau to deem the video to be almost certainly a deepfake — an artificially generated spoof — and potentially one created by Chinese agents.

For years, China has pummeled the Taiwanese information ecosystem with inaccurate narratives and conspiracy theories, seeking to undermine its democracy and divide its people in an effort to assert control over its neighbor. Now, as fears over Beijing’s growing aggression mount, a new wave of disinformation is heading across the strait separating Taiwan from the mainland before the pivotal election in January.

Perhaps as much as any other place, however, the tiny island is ready for the disinformation onslaught.

Taiwan has built a resilience to foreign meddling that could serve as a model to the dozens of other democracies holding votes in 2024. Its defenses include one of the world’s most mature communities of fact checkers, government investments, international media literacy partnerships and, after years of warnings about Chinese intrusion, a public sense of skepticism.

J-20: How China's Stealth Fighter Could Become Even Deadlier

Maya Carlin

China is upgrading its Chengdu J-20 fighter - This month, the Pentagon’s newly released China Military Power Report outlined how Beijing is experimenting with upgrades pertaining to its J-20 stealth fighter.

According to the report, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force is looking to introduce manned-unmanned teaming concepts to its newest fighter platform.

The U.S. Air Force implementing the same concept in its Next Generation Air Dominance fighter program.

Other upgrades being incorporated in China’s J-20 platform were also detailed in the report: “(China) is preparing upgrades for the J-20, which may include increasing the number of air-to-air missiles (AAM) the fighter can carry in its low-observable configuration, installing thrust-vectoring engine nozzles, and adding super cruise capability by installing higher-thrust indigenous WS-15 engines.”

As tensions continue to mount between Washington and Beijing, prospects for a future kinetic conflict are also increasing.

Introducing China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter

The Chengdu J-20 “Mighty Dragon”is China’s fifth-generation air-superiority fighter platform.

China, US exchange accusations over US vessel in South China Sea

China and the United States exchanged accusations at the weekend over the disputed South China Sea, after China's military said it had driven away a U.S. warship that the U.S. Navy said was on a routine freedom of navigation operation.

According to a post on the official WeChat social media account of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Southern Theatre Command on Saturday, the Chinese military deployed its naval and air forces to "track, monitor and warn away" the U.S. destroyer.

The U.S. Navy said on Sunday that the Hopper had "asserted navigational rights in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law".

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce, including parts claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 said China's claims had no legal basis.

The Philippines and Australia began their first joint sea and air patrols in the sea on Saturday, days after Beijing accused Manila of enlisting foreign forces to patrol the South China Sea, referring to joint patrols by the Philippine and U.S. militaries.

Development and Authoritarianism: China’s Political Culture and Economic Reforms

Vivian Le

The opening-up of China (or domestically as 改革開放 gai ge kai fang—reforms and opening-up) refers to a series of economic changes implemented in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) during the latter part of the 20th century, which are often described as “socialism with Chinese characteristics” and “socialist market economy”. Prior to 1978, the Chinese economy under Chairman Mao Zedong maintained centrally planned, state-controlled, and enclosed from foreign investments. After the death of Mao, Deng Xiaoping guided reforms within the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) on December 18, 1978, during the “Buoluan Fanzheng” (撥亂反正—eliminate chaos and rectify the state) period. These reforms led to significant economic growth in China within the following decades. China surpassed Japan in 2010 to become the world’s second-largest economy in terms of nominal GDP, and then in 2017 it overtook the United States to become the world’s largest economy by GDP, as measured by PPP (Purchasing Power Parity). The exponential growth is often termed the “Chinese miracle”.[1] What is unique is that whilst other economically developed countries, such as the US and Japan, are ruled by liberal democratic governments, China has been ruled under a one-party authoritarian system, which is generally not associated with robust economies. Despite claiming that it is democratic, China’s economic development in the absence of political liberalisation is an intriguing case in the international arena. China has undoubtedly taken a turn to open up towards the West, and the rest of the world, by integrating its economy into the global market. Whilst the economic integration could have potentially allowed for further political liberalisations, it did not happen in China’s case. What complexities in China’s political culture, history, and economic reform stages prevented it from embracing liberal democratisation like other third-wave countries, and how did the CCP use nationalism as a defence mechanism against political liberalisation? With China and the Soviet Union both initiating reforms in the 1980s, what factors led to China’s success and the USSR’s collapse, and what implications does China’s experience have for international relations and politics?

The first part of the dissertation explores two factors: China’s political culture and its economic evolution. Under the culture factor, Confucianism, legalism, bureaucratic authoritarianism, nationalism and patriotism, and the role of the CCP will be examined. Under the economic evolution factor, the ideological foundation of the political and economic reform will be assessed prior to analysing the stages of economic reform. The second part of the dissertation explores the different trajectories of the Soviet Union and China, before assessing the potential applicability of the “China model”.

How did humans get to the brink of crashing climate? A long push for progress and energy to fuel it


Amidst record-high temperatures, deluges, droughts and wildfires, leaders are convening for another round of United Nations climate talks later this month that seek to curb the centuries-long trend of humans spewing ever more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

For hundreds of years, people have shaped the world around them for their benefit: They drained lakes to protect infrastructure, wealth and people. They dug up billions of tons of coal, and then oil and gas, to fuel empires and economies. The allure of exploiting nature and burning fossil fuels as a path to prosperity hopped from nation to nation, each eager to secure their own energy.

People who claimed the power to control nature and the energy resources around them saw the environment as a tool to be used for progress, historians say. Over hundreds of years, that impulse has remade the planet’s climate, too — and brought its inhabitants to the brink of catastrophe.


Mexico City traces its roots to a settlement centuries ago on islands in the midst of Lake Texcoco. These days, most of the lake is gone, drained long ago to make room for the building and growth that today has more than 22 million people sprawling toward the edges of the Valley of Mexico.

Biden will convene his new supply chain council and announce 30 steps to strengthen US logistics


President Joe Biden on Monday will convene the first meeting of his supply chain resilience council, using the event to announce 30 actions to improve access to medicine and needed economic data and other programs tied to the production and shipment of goods.

“We’re determined to keep working to bring down prices for American consumers and ensure the resilience of our supply chains for the future,” said Lael Brainard, director of the White House National Economic Council and a co-chair of the new supply chain council.

The announcement comes after supply chain problems fueled higher inflation as the United States recovered from the coronavirus pandemic in 2021. While consumer prices are down from last year’s peaks, polling shows that inflation remains a political challenge for Biden going into the 2024 presidential election.

Among the 30 new actions, Biden, a Democrat, will use the Defense Production Act to have the Health and Human Services Department invest in the domestic manufacturing of needed medicines that are deemed crucial for national security. The Cabinet agency has identified $35 million to invest in the production of materials for injectable medicines.

S-500 Missile System: How Russia Would Attack F-22 and F-35 Fighters

Maya Carlin

Back in March, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu revealed that Moscow would complete its missile defense systems modernization efforts by the end of 2023. Russia began prioritizing its aerospace defense capabilities in 2020, when the Kremlin announced its State Armament Program. Under the latest iteration of the program, dubbed GPV-2027 in Russia, the production of the new S-500 system will be accomplished.

Russia’s latest anti-aircraft missile defense system, “Prometheus,” is expected to become a staple of the Kremlin’s aerospace defense system.

The combat capabilities of the Prometheus reportedly blow its predecessor’s abilities out of the water.

However, while Moscow may claim that this new system could easily take down fifth-generation fighters like the F-22 Raptor or the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, little remains confirmed about the S-500.

A Brief History of the S-500 Missile System

Back in 2010, Moscow began developing the successor to the first batch of S-400 systems deployed a few years prior. Like the earlier S-300 and S-400 models, the S-500 Prometheus was designed to be capable of defeating ballistic and cruise missile threats.

Russia says it downed dozens of Ukrainian drones headed for Moscow, following a mass strike on Kyiv

Russian authorities on Sunday claimed that Ukraine tried to attack Moscow with dozens of drones overnight, just a day after Russia launched its most intense drone attack on Kyiv since the beginning of its full-scale war in 2022, according to Ukrainian officials.

Russian air defenses brought down at least 24 drones over the Moscow region — which surrounds but does not include the capital — and four other provinces to the south and west, the Russian Defense Ministry and Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin reported in a series of Telegram updates. Neither referenced any casualties.

Andrei Vorobyev, governor of the Moscow region, wrote on Telegram that the drone strikes damaged three unspecified buildings there, adding that no one was hurt.

Russian Telegram channels reported that one drone crashed into a 12-story apartment block in the western Russian city of Tula, about 180 kilometers (113 miles) south of Moscow, injuring one resident and frightening others.

Moscow’s Vnukovo and Domodedovo airports also briefly shut down because of the drone attack, according to Russia’s state-run news agency Tass. Both appeared to have resumed normal operation by 6 a.m. local time, according to data from international flight tracking portals.

Russian Telegram channels speculated that Ukrainian forces had deployed a previously unseen type of drone in the purported strike, pointing out some similarities to the Iranian-made weapons Moscow routinely employs in its attacks on Ukraine.

Five wounded in Kyiv by largest drone attack yet on Ukraine

Max Hunder

Ukraine's capital suffered what officials said was Russia's largest drone attack of the war on Saturday, leaving five people wounded as the rumble of air defences and explosions woke residents at sunrise after a week of intensifying attacks.

Saturday's six-hour air raid, on the day Ukraine commemorates the 1932-33 Holodomor famine that killed several million people, began hitting different districts of Kyiv in the early hours, with more waves coming as the sun rose.

Oleksiy Kuleba, the Ukrainian president's deputy chief of staff, said that over the course of the week, Russia had carried out 911 attacks across the country, killing 19 Ukrainians and wounding 84.

"The enemy is intensifying its attacks, trying to destroy Ukraine and Ukrainians," he said in a post on the Telegram messaging app. It was doing so deliberately, "just like 90 years ago, when Russia killed millions of our ancestors," he said.

Ukraine's air force initially said 71 of the 75 drones had been shot down, but subsequently revised the number of downed craft to 74. Its spokesperson said on television that 66 of those had been downed over Kyiv and the surrounding region.

Air force chief Mykola Oleschuk praised the effectiveness of 'mobile fire' units - usually fast pickup trucks with a machine gun or flak cannon mounted on their flatbed. According to him, these downed nearly 40% of the drones.

Does the US Actually Want Ukraine to Defeat Russia?

David Brennan

Ukraine's 2023 fighting season is drawing to a close under a cloud of unmet expectations. Its soldiers and citizens, who are steeling themselves for a Russian winter blitz, will not be warmed by the memories of summer success, Kyiv's long-awaited counteroffensive operation having failed to achieve the breakthrough needed to collapse Moscow's occupation of the south of the country.

President Volodymyr Zelensky and top commander General Valerii Zaluzhnyi have admitted Ukraine's shortcomings. "There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough," Zaluzhnyi said in an interview with The Economist earlier this month. Zelensky, meanwhile, told citizens that "all attention should be focused on defense."

As Kyiv works to maintain its Western coalition, stress fractures are forming. In Europe, a wave of right-wing populism threatens to derail the continent's political establishment, while in the U.S. President Joe Biden is heading into a fierce re-election contest with a Republican Party cowed by former President Donald Trump and shifting into open Ukraine-skepticism.

A common refrain since February 2022 is that the U.S. is giving Ukraine enough military aid to survive, but not enough to win. In this telling, Washington, D.C. fears that a strategic Kremlin defeat in Ukraine could prompt chaos within Russian borders, perhaps the unseating of President Vladimir Putin, and a vicious regional struggle to fill a power vacuum littered with weapons of mass destruction. With the China challenge looming, Eurasian anarchy would pose many new problems for the White House.

Russia held these Ukrainian teens captive. Their testimonies could be used against Putin.

Siobhán O'Grady and Anastacia Galouchka

The Russian missing child poster went up in Crimea soon after Rostyslav Lavrov escaped last month.

“HELP FIND,” it read. “17 years old, born 2006 … Height 160 cm, thin build, dark hair, blue eyes.”

“Anyone who knows anything about the whereabouts of the teenager is asked to report this.”

The attached photo — which Lavrov said was taken several months ago when Russian authorities holding him against his will tried to issue him a Russian ID card — showed the Ukrainian teen sullen in a white shirt and tie.

He is one of three Ukrainian teenagers who fled Russia or Russian-occupied Crimea this summer and shared their experiences with The Washington Post in lengthy interviews in Kyiv and Kherson. They each described systematic efforts by Russian officials to keep them in Russian-controlled territory.

Ukraine says there are thousands of Ukrainian children like Lavrov who were forced to move to Russia or Russian-occupied territory, including Crimea, since Russia’s February 2022 invasion. What makes Lavrov exceptional is that he got out, carrying with him memories of his experience that could one day be used in court to prove Russia committed war crimes by relocating children.

On March 17, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, which accused them of war crimes for unlawfully deporting and transferring Ukrainian children. Lvova-Belova herself adopted a Ukrainian teen from the occupied city of Mariupol. The Kremlin has denounced the warrants and said they have no legal validity in Russia.

How the West lost the artillery shell race and what it means for Ukraine

Joe Barnes

As the weather worsens and front lines are frozen in place, Ukraine is struggling to secure enough artillery shells to change the equation.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned key shipments of 155mm munitions have dropped off after fighting erupted between Israel and Hamas last month.

Both Ukraine and Russia have struggled to maintain stockpiles of shells after nearly two years of long-range duels across vast battlefields.

But recently Moscow has received one million shells from its ally North Korea in 10 separate shipments since August, according to South Korea’s intelligence service.

This has helped sustain Russian forces in a renewed attempt to capture Avdiivka, pummelling the Donetsk region town relentlessly with artillery fire.

At the same time, the European Union has conceded its one-year target to deliver a million shells to Kyiv by next March will not be reached.

The bloc has delivered around 300,000 shells, mainly from national stockpiles, since the programme started on Feb 9.

Diplomats and ministers moved to blame Europe’s production capabilities and a failure to significantly ramp up manufacturing, for the lacklustre performance.

Ukraine was estimated to be firing around 6,000 155mm rounds a day, according to Western intelligence figures, whereas Russia was firing 20,000 a day – the same amount produced by European manufacturers each month.

Realism, Liberalism and War

Stephen McGlinchey and Dana Gold

Realists and liberals are divided when it comes to understanding why war exists, and what can be done about it. Realists believe it is an ever-present ‘feature’ of our system as international anarchy drives conflict because security is scarce. As a result, states look to acquire territory, resources or to eradicate/absorb a competitor to enable them to feel more secure. Mearsheimer called this The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001) as the very nature of the global system appears to make this cycle perpetual. Mearsheimer’s ‘offensive realism’ is one of the most pessimistic quadrants within the theory family, yet even its less pessimistic bedfellow, ‘defensive realism’, still includes war as a feature – albeit not occurring as often. Defensive realists, like Jervis (1978), posit that states are incentivised to act moderately as they understand that aggression will lead to war, which reduces security and is therefore best avoided except when absolutely necessary.

On the other hand, liberals see war as more of a recurring ‘bug’ that can be addressed by the growing preponderance of democracy and the spread of institutions such as the United Nations. When goods, services, culture, laws and people are seen to be moving freely back and forth between and among states, liberals feel confident that the incentives for war are shrinking. Like a bug is reported and worked on by a developer when it does enough damage to draw the ire of users, liberals see evidence that people, and states, want to enjoy the fruits of a more peaceful global system. Liberals do not deny that the bug exists, or that it is pervasive and seems to pop up in unexpected times and places – but they believe that we have the tools to gradually reduce its damaging effects and perhaps, one day, to fully eliminate it with the right skill and effort.

The New Maneuver Warfare Handbook

William S. Lind

Special Tactics is proud to have collaborated with William S. Lind, LTG(ret) James Dubik and Don Vandergriff in creating The New Maneuver Warfare Handbook. Since the original Maneuver Warfare Handbook was published in 1985, understanding of maneuver warfare has broadened and deepened. Here, the author of the original book, William S. Lind, shares that new knowledge with readers. The New Maneuver Warfare Handbook offers novel insights in military theory while remaining focused on the people who do the fighting, Marines and soldiers from Battalion level on down through staff NCOs and NCOs. The New Maneuver Warfare Handbook is not a replacement or “new edition” of the original, but rather augments the original book in ways useful to commanders at every tactical level.

The original book included an appendix by Marine Colonel Mike Wiley’s called “An Introduction to Tactics.” In the new book, the Special Tactics Staff has written a new version of this appendix and we have done our best to carry on the high-standards set by Colonel Wiley in the original. The new version differs from the original in that it places an increased emphasis on small-unit tactics in an effort to better relate to and capture the attention of junior officers and NCOs who lead and command at the small unit level. Some believe that maneuver warfare theory only starts to apply at the company or battalion level. They argue that squads and platoons are not really capable of independent initiative and thus must base their actions on more rigid drills. We disagree strongly with this perspective and believe that small unit excellence and initiative, down to the squad or even fire team level, is critical for success in maneuver warfare.

Australia to form rapid cyber assist teams for Pacific Islands

Australia said on Wednesday it would spend A$26.2 million ($17 million) to establish "rapid assistance" teams to respond to cyber crises in the Pacific region, and another A$16.7 million to identify cyber vulnerabilities in the Pacific Islands.

The cyber security boost comes after Australia and the United States committed last month to funding two new undersea cables to be rolled out by Google in the Pacific Islands to increase connectivity for eight remote island countries.

Minister for the Pacific Pat Conroy said the rapid response teams would "build long-term resilience in the Pacific" and provide critical support.

Last year, Vanuatu's government, hospitals and court were locked out of computer systems and email for weeks by a hacker, days after a new government was elected, and Australia sent security experts to assist.

Fiji's government said on Tuesday that a new undersea cable to be rolled out by Google, connecting the United States and Australia via Fiji, would bring FJD $200 million ($89 million) in investment to Fiji and see the first Tier 3 datacentre built in the Pacific Islands.