15 July 2024

Why Modi and Putin Are Friends

ASTHA RAJVANSHI

Hours before India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Moscow on July 8, Russia fired missiles on Ukraine that killed at least 41 people, including four children at a children's hospital in Kyiv. The attack sparked widespread global condemnation, yet Modi was smiling as he posed for photos with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During Modi’s two-day visit to the Kremlin—his first trip to Russia since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022— the two leaders hugged each other outside Putin’s suburban residence in Novo-Ogaryovo, before holding informal talks over tea and taking a tour of the grounds. Putin told Modi he was “very happy” to see his “dear friend,” according to Russia’s TASS state news agency, while Modi called the visit a “wonderful opportunity to deepen ties” between the two countries in a post on the social media platform X.

In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Modi’s visit “a huge disappointment” on X, saying it was “a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hug the world’s most bloody criminal in Moscow.”

It became clear, however, that Modi did not plan on challenging Putin over his actions in Ukraine during the visit, and instead used the trip to affirm longstanding strategic and economic ties between the two countries. The Indian leader’s engagement appears to be in part an attempt to stem the Kremlin’s dependence on regional rival China while he continues to walk a tightrope between the East and the West. “As the first state visit of his third term, Modi’s visit to Russia seeks to reassure Putin of the importance of the bilateral relationship at a time when India is deepening relations with the West,” says Chietigj Bajpaee, a senior research fellow for South Asia at Chatham House.

The Jarring Opulence of Anant Ambani’s Big Fat Indian Wedding

ASTHA RAJVANSHI

One would be forgiven for thinking that Anant Ambani, the youngest son of Asia’s richest man, had already gotten married to pharmaceutical heiress Radhika Merchant months ago. After all, the billionaire Ambanis—who run Reliance Industries, India’s largest conglomerate—have hosted several lavish wedding festivities since December.

There was an engagement party in January, followed by a three-day pre-wedding celebration in March in the family’s refinery township of Jamnagar in the state of Gujarat. The star-studded bash caught the world’s attention with its 1,200-person guest list, which included tech billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, and an exclusive performance by Rihanna. In May, the Ambanis set off on a four-day European cruise starting in the Italian city of Palermo, featuring on-deck concerts from the Backstreet Boys, Pitbull, and David Guetta. A masquerade ball at the Chateau de la Croix des Gardes mansion in France that month had a performance by Katy Perry, while an evening event in Portofino on the Italian Riviera, also in May, featured Andrea Bocelli. In July, a musical night traditionally known as the sangeet, saw Justin Beiber perform at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Center, an arts venue founded by the groom’s mother, Nita Ambani. Earlier this week, there was also a private haldi ceremony, a Hindu wedding ritual where friends and family typically bless a couple by applying turmeric paste to the bride and groom.

But the mammoth celebrations are yet to culminate in an actual wedding ceremony where Anant Ambani will finally tie the knot with Merchant. The event, which will be held from July 12 at the Jio World Convention Center in Mumbai, is promised to be the most lavish wedding of the year, with festivities extending until July 14.

The West Is Misreading China in the South China Sea

F. Andrew Wolf, Jr.

In spite of the abundance of opinions voiced almost daily by foreign policy experts and international relations academics there is no consensus about China’s strategic and tactical motivations regarding the South China Sea (SCS). But if one considers China’s history, as well as its geography, resources, and economy clues emerge which give us some perspective about why China is so categorical in its resolve about the South China Sea.

Beijing claims roughly 90% of this sea, which lies in the Pacific Ocean, encompasses an area of around 3.5 million square kilometers (1.4 million square miles), and is shared by Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Several of these states, some of which are United States allies, are engaged in territorial and maritime disputes over a number of islands, reefs, and waterways.

Some like the Philippines have accused China of bullying and intimidation to force its sovereignty over the areas it claims as part of its mainland. They claim that China has constructed a number of artificial islands in the SCS and that its warships routinely patrol and harass the navies of other Southeast Asian countries.

The tension noticeably grew in 2023, prompting the 11-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to express concern that the disputes could “undermine peace, security, and stability in the region.” China is not a member of ASEAN but is the bloc’s largest trading partner.

The United States has weighed in on the South China Seas by supporting its allies in the region; in March of this year, it condemned Chinese naval action in the dispute with the Philippines: “The PRC’s actions are destabilizing to the region and show clear disregard for international law,” a US State Department statement said. The statement went on to reaffirm the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense treaty.

Adapting Security: The Intersection of Turkiye’s Foreign Policy and Defence Industrialisatio


Turkiye’s defence-industrial partnerships have shifted over time as the country’s position in international politics has changed. In this report, as part of a joint project with the IISS, researchers from the Center for Foreign Policy and Peace Research explore how this process has developed and the tensions in the country’s current position.

Following decades of investment and reform, Turkiye’s defence industry is emerging as a serious player in international defence markets. The path to its success, however, has not been straightforward. As an emerging power, Turkiye has had to balance its desire for strategic autonomy against a multitude of other factors, includ­ing relations with the United States, other NATO allies and the European Union. Moreover, just as domestic leaders have left their individual marks on Turkiye’s foreign policy, they have also influenced the country’s defence-industrial policies.

Ankara’s defence interests have both reflected the international political system and been used by national decision-makers to help navigate international politics. For example, alignment with the US led to an influx of Western defence equipment during the early Cold War. Though this allowed the Turkish Armed Forces to rapidly modernise, the glut of equipment retarded the development of the country’s nascent arms industry. Restrictions imposed on the use of US-supplied weapons during the Cyprus Crisis (1963–64) exposed the limits of US alignment. Also important have been the numerous arms embargoes (both official and unofficial) by allied states, which have perpetuated a sense of injustice within Turkiye and driven the country’s defence-industrial policies.

As the Turkish economy began to liberalise in the 1980s, Turkiye’s defence industry adapted by pursuing joint ventures with Western firms. In exchange for access to Turkish markets, Western companies brought in new technologies and capital to co-manufacture their products in Turkiye. By the early 1990s, the collapse of the Soviet Union also allowed Turkiye to establish good relations with the newly formed Russian Federation. At the same time, membership in the EU became a pivotal theme in Turkiye’s post-Cold War foreign-policy trajectory.

Angola’s growing strategic significance for the UAE

Albert Vidal Ribe

The United Arab Emirates is deepening its economic ties with Angola – and elsewhere in Africa – by promising significant investments in critical sectors spanning energy, technology and maritime logistics. In turn, Angola offers the UAE the possibility of greater food security, potential access to critical minerals, a growing consumer market and the opportunity to deepen its influence on the continent amid waning Chinese investment.

Emirati engagement with Angola is increasing as national champions – such as Masdar, DP World, AD Ports Group, EDGE Group and G42 – invest in key sectors of the Angolan economy, including ports and defence. In exchange, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) continues to import Angolan diamonds and hopes to turn Angola into a reliable food supplier in the coming years. Emirati interests are also growing across Africa as part of the country’s broader strategy to become a hub connecting Africa, the Middle East and Asia. At a time when Chinese investment in Africa is drying up, the expanding Emirati presence calls for a more nuanced view of regional dynamics that reflects the emergence of a multinodal world order.

Growing African potential Between 2012 and 2022, Emirati foreign direct investment in Africa totalled US$59.4 billion, the continent’s third-largest source after China and the United States. Emirati interest in Africa stems from the growth prospects of emerging economies such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania and their growing potential as both food suppliers and energy consumers. The UAE seeks a first-mover advantage to benefit from these countries’ fast-paced transformation and hopes to position itself as a connector between Africa and Asia, channelling both capital and goods while also strengthening its access to food supplies and critical minerals.

NATO and Countering Hybrid Warfa

Daniel Byman

This series—featuring scholars from the Futures Lab, the International Security Program, and across CSIS—explores emerging challenges and opportunities that NATO is likely to confront after its 75th anniversary.

In the future, NATO countries must step up their efforts to protect against Russian-backed extremists as well as Russian hybrid warfare.

Countries in NATO have long-battled against terrorist and other violent extremist organizations. Ethnic terrorism plagued Northern Ireland and Spain for many years, and left-right violence troubled many European states. State-sponsored groups, Hezbollah, and various Palestinian organizations targeted Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. Well before 9/11, France saw a series of jihadist terrorist attacks that emerged out of the Algerian civil war in the 1990s. In the post-9/11 era, Al Qaeda prioritized attacks on Europe, launching devastating strikes in London, Madrid, and other areas, and after 2014 the Islamic State followed suit with strikes throughout much of Europe. Europe also sees regular anti-immigrant and other white supremacist violence.

NATO itself, however, has played only a limited role in fighting terrorism in Europe. Much of the struggle has involved intelligence cooperation, and that has usually been done bilaterally. In addition, domestic intelligence services have often played the leading role, and these are not integrated with NATO. The alliance did play important roles in fighting jihadist-linked violence in out-of-area operations, however. Wars in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and in Syria against the Islamic State involved NATO forces.

Jihadist and right-wing violence will remain concerning, and intelligence agencies should rightly focus on these dangers. NATO similarly has an important role to play in combating the emerging threat of Russian hybrid warfare. Hybrid warfare involves a mix of conventional and unconventional security instruments, ranging from traditional conventional warfare to information warfare and support for terrorism. Before Moscow’s outright invasion of Ukraine in 2024, it was already employing a mix of methods—including assassinations, disinformation, subversion, and support for insurgents—to undermine its adversaries.

The Ukraine War Proves Europe Must Spend More On Defense Now

Robert Peters

A member of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment fires a Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW)...Paratroopers have demonstrated the firepower that they could bring to bear during combat missions as the British Army’s global response force. ..As the culmination of a course in support weapons skills, paratroopers staged a firepower demonstration on Salisbury Plain. ..The Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) is the first, non-expert, short-range, anti-tank missile that rapidly knocks out any main battle tank in just one shot by striking it from above...NLAW utilises predicted line of sight guidance and has overfly top and direct attack modes, and it is easy to use, making it a valuable tank destroyer for light forces that operate dismounted in all environments, including built up areas...It also has night vision capability and is designed for all climate conditions and environments..

Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine served as a wakeup call to NATO, reversing a decades’ long trend of European members disarming at the end of the Cold War.

To that end, many (but not all) have been increasing their defense budgets and restarting weapons production lines—not only to supply Ukraine, but to enable a longer-term rearming of the European continent to deter potential future Russian aggression.

A M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank in 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division fires at a prop target during a live fire exercise on Feb. 17, 2023 in Petrochori Training Area, Greece. American armored units along with Greek armored units spent the past couple days training force-on-force and other combat simulation exercises.

This is a welcome development, but we should not forget that in many ways, Europe’s security challenges are a direct consequence of its past decisions.

At the height of the Cold War in 1970, NATO fielded a military force that included over 10 million people in the active and reserve military (out of a population over 500 billion), with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of almost $2 trillion. This force included tens of thousands of aircraft, tanks, and artillery rounds, with nations such as Germany and the UK stationing hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the front lines of NATO, squaring off against the Warsaw Pact.

All of this was backed up by over 6,000 American tactical nuclear weapons stationed in Europe itself. In 1970, the United States committed 8% of its GDP on defense—more than twice the 3% the average European NATO member spent on defense. The end result: an effective—and, therefore, credible—military that deterred Soviet aggression.

Oil economics could sway the US election

EMILIE RUTLEDGE

Oil continues to influence global economics and politics like no other finite natural resource. In the 2024 US presidential election, the strategic commodity will be an important domestic issue.

As the biggest producer and consumer of oil on the planet, the US has a particularly strong relationship with the black stuff. And the candidates know it.

Donald Trump has promised to “drill, drill, drill” and reportedly courted the financial backing of industry giants. Those giants have responded by donating US$7.3 million to Trump’s campaign – three times more than for his 2020 run.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has attempted to reduce dependence on fossil fuels with his green energy policy and other legislation. Yet at the same time, he has overseen an increase in domestic oil production and promised motorists he will keep petrol prices low.

It’s an important promise in the US, a country whose love affair with cars is well known. Out-of-town shopping malls, long highways and a lack of government investment in public transportation have fuelled car dependency, with many cities being designed around huge road systems.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that pump prices are a significant factor influencing voters. Research has even shown that gasoline prices have an “outsized effect” on inflation expectations and consumer sentiment. As fuel prices go up, confidence in the economy goes down.

Operational Misconceptions: A Response to Operational Incompetence 2030

Mark J. Desens

Generals Boomer and Conway’s June 15, 2024, article critiquing the Marine Corps Force Design plans was a step forward in the dialogue. While the title was unfortunate (but catchy), the tone was less shrill than what we’ve seen from some of our retired generals.

Like the other three and four-star generals who have offered critiques, these are legendary men from my time on active duty. General Boomer led a two-division breach of Saddam’s defenses and a rout of Iraqi forces in the retaking of Kuwait in 1991. General Conway led the Corps next attack eleven years later to finish Saddam’s evil rule and served as our 34th Commandant. I had the pleasure of serving in General Conway’s command in early 2003 as a planner with the 3rd Marine Air Wing and again from 2006-2008 in the Operations Division for the Marine Corps in the Pentagon. Both are men whom I greatly admire. However, I could not disagree more with their assessments.

The root of the problem is that their experiences are from a different era. The character of warfare has shifted. Their generation appears unable to comprehend the nature of today’s fight. First, that the deadliest and most important fight may be getting to the fight and, second, that modern technology has greatly diminished the value of legacy formations and equipment. To be clear, these are smart men. But individual experiences can make for stubborn anchors to change. The paradigm of warfare has shifted while they haven’t.

When Marine Expeditionary Forces fought Iraq in 1991 and 2003, Marines had the luxury of moving their forces to the theater – primarily by sea over a period of several months – in virtually uncontested waters. An amphibious assault was not a real factor in either contest. The threat of simple floating mines – one of which damaged the USS Tripoli - was enough to keep an entire Marine Expeditionary Brigade (5th MEB) from ever reaching landfall in 1991. An amphibious assault in the 2003 invasion was never seriously considered.[i] Despite the warnings, these men never questioned the value of amphibious power projection or our ability to move force across the globe. In their view, getting to the fight was the Navy’s problem. How they were able to all but ignore Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD) threats remains a mystery.

One-third of U.S. military could be robotic, Milley predicts

Colin Demarest

Robots and other smart machinery will comprise up to one-third of the U.S. military in the next 10-15 years, retired Army Gen. Mark Milley, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at an Axios event today.

Why it matters: Such widespread adoption of unmanned and artificial intelligence-fueled tools of war would be a major reshaping of the force — one that would also raise serious ethical questions.

What they're saying: "It'll be a fundamental change, and I would argue that other nations' militaries are going to be similarly designed," Milley said at Axios' Future of Defense event.The number of human troops, he added, "will probably be reduced as you move toward robotic systems."

Catch up quick: Militaries have for years tinkered with armed drones, robo-dogs, mechanical mules and more. They now look more viable than ever, with an alley-oop from a digital-first defense industry.The Army is experimenting with what's known as human-machine integrated formations, where soldiers fight alongside automatons.
The Air Force is seeking so-called "collaborative combat" aircraft that can fly alongside human pilots to collect intelligence, confuse enemy electronics and even blow up targets.
The Navy is in pursuit of a hybrid fleet, with unmanned surface and underwater vehicles augmenting the firepower of sailors and Marines. One pioneer is Task Force 59 in the Middle East.

Friction point: A crew-less tank or pilot-less fighter jet paired with ultra-fast decision-making software stokes fears of killer robots. But safeguards are in place.

An argument against establishing a U.S. Cyber Force

ALAN BRIAN LONG JR.ANDMAJ. ALEX PYTLAR

Over the past twenty plus years, the Department of Defense has made significant progress normalizing cyberspace operations. After United States Cyber Command was established in 2010, DOD continued to conduct most facets of DOD cyberspace operations through the command. This Cybercom-centric approach, built on centralized authorities and control, has resulted in many significant operational outcomes for the nation. Despite that progress, DOD struggles with recruiting, training, retaining, and tracking operational readiness of its cyberspace forces.

Through several National Defense Authorization Acts, Congress mandated studies focused on these challenges. The Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Principal Cyber Advisor, Cybercom, and the rest of the DOD cyberspace operations community are currently supporting DOD’s response to each study. Cybercom 2.0 is the capstone response which will include the command’s recommendations to the secretary of defense and Congress. Recent academic examination and inquiry into these challenges has produced a variety of solutions — not all informed by realism or logic. Some academics, military leaders and politicians believe that establishing a U.S. Cyber Force will address challenges faced by the DOD cyberspace operations community. We disagree.

Proponents of USCF establishment often cite excision of the U.S. Army Air Corps from the Army to form the U.S. Air Force as precedent for their argument. Equating the creation of the USAF to the proposals for a USCF is built on flawed logic and a fundamental misunderstanding of DOD cyberspace operations missions.

Can the West Still Win? Analyzing Claims of Ukraine's Coming Tech Supremacy Over Russia

SIMPLICIUS

Welcome to this month’s first exclusive paid content. It’s another thorough, ~5,400 word article that seeks to answer the question I’ve been asked by some readers over the past few months: is there a possibility that Ukraine can still achieve victory in this war? I look at the question through the technological lens, as whatever real chance at victory Ukraine may have remains tied into its one and only arguable advantage: the Western-supplied drone and AI tech.

I leave the first ~2,000 words open to free subscribers: if you like what you read, please consider signing up for a paid subscription today, so you don’t miss my most hard-hitting exclusive content in the future.

Recently we’ve talked a lot about Ukraine’s ongoing collapse—all the myriad dysfunctions and vulnerabilities of the Kiev regime which are sure to lead to its demise in the next year or so.

But hidden beneath this sometimes overly-rosy picture are the many faults of Russia’s own military campaign, as well as the inroads being made by the vast NATO apparatus bringing up the rear of Kiev’s operations.

In this report, we’ll explore some of those potential threats to Russia’s military predominance.
Project White Stork and AI Supremacy

The first and most significant concept to understand is that the West is using the Ukraine war as an unprecedented testbed for the launch of a new era of AI warfare.

What was left unsaid in the more boilerplate offering above was hinted elsewhere by ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Him and his cohorts believe that in a year’s time, Ukraine could achieve a technological supremacy of AI warfare that would effectively deadlock the war. Note I said deadlock not turn around; nothing Ukraine can do will be able to turn the tide so much as to allow Ukraine to retake lost territories or make Russia surrender. Offensively speaking, Ukraine is as good as done. But the question is, can Russia successfully prosecute advances indefinitely to the point where it achieves all of its battlefield objectives? Or will it get mired down in a technological bog that simply precludes all possibility of breakthrough, a la the stalemates of World War One?

As NATO Countries Reach Spending Milestone, Is 2 Percent Enough?

Liana Fix and Caroline Kapp

NATO leaders stand next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he speaks on the sidelines of the 2023 NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. Kay Nietfeld/Getty Images

It has taken longer than many NATO militaries had hoped, but it seems that the alliance has finally turned the corner on so-called burden sharing. This year, for the first time, most members are expected to meet their decade-old defense spending pledges. But with the slogging Russia-Ukraine war on the borders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and uncertainties about future U.S. commitments to European security, even reaching this goal could be insufficient.

Following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, NATO countries committed to the goal of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense. A decade later, renewed Russian aggression culminating in the 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine brought this commitment, particularly many European member countries’ failure to meet it in recent years, into the spotlight.

In 2023, only the United States and a handful of European countries in Russia’s vicinity met or exceeded the spending benchmark. Many of Europe’s largest economies—Germany, France, Italy, and Spain—fell short. This year, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the alliance, which will be marked with a summit in Washington in July, will look different. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that in 2024 non-U.S. NATO allies will meet the 2 percent target on average for the first time, and twenty-three out of the thirty-two total member countries will meet or exceed the 2 percent target, including France and Germany.

At the NATO Summit, Containment Plus for Russia

John Tefft and William Courtney

This piece is part of a commentary series on the upcoming NATO summit in Washington in which RAND researchers explore important strategic questions for the alliance as NATO confronts a historic moment, navigating both promise and peril.

At this week's summit in Washington, NATO will celebrate 75 years of the most effective defensive alliance in modern history. Alliance leaders seem likely to recommit to what amounts to a “containment-plus” policy toward Russia.

A containment-plus policy seeks to stop or limit some of Russia's harmful activities, such as evading oil sanctions and preventing Russian sabotage in Europe, and to roll back others, such as its occupation of parts of Ukraine.

Russia's attempt to subjugate Ukraine is a direct threat to the security of Europe, and NATO members are confronting it. NATO and its members seek not just to hold aggression in check, but to roll back Moscow's conquests in Ukraine and its expanding hybrid war in Europe.

This is the right policy, so long as Russia is ruled by a regime as aggressive and oppressive as President Vladimir Putin's. As our colleague, former U.S. ambassador to NATO Alexander Vershbow, wrote last year, “Russia needs to understand that there can be no normalization of relations until it once again upholds the fundamental principles laid down in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, the 1990 Paris Charter, and the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act.”

Russia's attempt to subjugate Ukraine is a direct threat to the security of Europe, and NATO members are confronting it.Share on Twitter

Legendary career diplomat George Kennan, the intellectual father of post–World War II containment policy, wrote in 1947 that “the main element of any U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.”

Peace and US Interests in the South Caucasus

Kamran Bokhari

Peace negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia are an opportunity for the United States to expand its influence in the South Caucasus. A U.S.-brokered peace agreement would give Washington another foothold in Russia’s traditional sphere of influence between the Black and Caspian seas. But this won’t happen if Washington doesn’t improve relations with Azerbaijan and thus balance its ties with Armenia.

On July 1, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia is achievable, and it seems as though the State Department is putting in the work to make it happen. He has spoken with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev several times over the past few months, most recently on June 20, and on June 28, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien told reporters in Baku that Azerbaijan and Armenia had been invited to the foreign minister-level NATO meeting, which will be held July 9-11. Meanwhile, Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan said in a statement July 1 that his country had made progress in negotiations with Azerbaijan on the delimitation of their border and that they will soon finish a relevant common document.

Talks between the two have indeed gained momentum, especially since a meeting of their foreign ministers in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, in early May. Despite facing considerable opposition at home, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan says his country is prepared to sign an accord by November. Yerevan has already handed back control of four key villages to Baku, effectively redrawing eight miles of border.

Armenia’s interest in concluding a peace agreement stems from its defeat in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war with Azerbaijan, whose outcome dramatically reversed the balance of power in the South Caucasus. What little control Armenia retained in the disputed region was taken in September 2023 by Azerbaijan as part of a cease-fire agreement in November 2020. There are a variety of reasons that Armenia lost, including Turkish support for Azerbaijan, but the government in Yerevan came away from the conflict feeling betrayed by its erstwhile ally Russia, which it believed failed to deliver on much-needed military support. Bilateral relations deteriorated, and in May Russia withdrew nearly all its forces from Armenia save small contingents on its borders with Turkey and Iran. Last month, Armenia announced a withdrawal from the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization.

Hamas believes it has won. Why it now wants to unburden itself of Gaza

Taylor Luck

After nine months of war with Israel, Hamas’ postwar strategy – based on what it sees as its impending victory – is starting to take shape.

As talks with Israel, mediated by the United States, Egypt, and Qatar, continue toward a deal on a cease-fire and release of hostages, the militant Islamist movement is eyeing its postwar plans.

They include riding an electoral wave to power in the West Bank while evading responsibility for the massive reconstruction of Gaza – and for the vast devastation and loss of life there from the war it incited.

Ever since Hamas triggered a calamitous war in Gaza last October, questions have been asked: What were its aims? How could it win? What was it thinking? Today it sees victory at hand, and its stated ambitions are soaring.

It has the feel of an audacious, “have your cake and eat it, too” agenda.

But polling of Palestinians suggests that simply by surviving and shaking up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and through careful messaging, the movement could be on track to achieve its postwar aims.

“Victory” is not a term Hamas uses often in public, knowing that it is an emotionally charged, raw term for Palestinians in Gaza, where some 38,000 people have been killed and 70% of homes have been damaged or destroyed, according to the United Nations. In a recent survey, 61% of Gazans said at least one family member had been killed in the war.

How did the auto dealer outage end? CDK almost certainly paid a $25 million ransom

Sean Lyngaas

Vehicles sit in a row outside a car dealership, June 2, 2024, in Lone Tree, Colo. CDK Global, a company that provides software for thousands of auto dealers in the US and Canada, was hit by a cyberattack in June. David Zalubowski/AP
CNN —

CDK Global, a software firm serving car dealerships across the US that was roiled by a cyberattack last month, appears to have paid a $25 million ransom to the hackers, multiple sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

The company has declined to discuss the matter. Pinpointing exactly who sends a cryptocurrency payment can be complicated by the relative anonymity that some crypto services offer. But data on the blockchain that underpins cryptocurrency payments also tells its own story.

On June 21, about 387 bitcoin — then the equivalent of roughly $25 million — was sent to a cryptocurrency account controlled by hackers affiliated with a type of ransomware called BlackSuit, Chris Janczewski, head of global investigations at crypto-tracking firm TRM Labs, told CNN.

A week after the payment was made, CDK said that it was bringing car dealers back online to its software platform. Cryptocurrency allows for the exchange of digital assets outside of the traditional banking system, but a record of those transactions is accessible on the blockchain.

Janczewski did not identify who sent the payment, but three other sources closely tracking the incident confirmed that a roughly $25 million payment had been made to BlackSuit affiliates and that CDK was very likely the source of that payment. Those sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

The cryptocurrency account that sent the ransom payment is affiliated with a firm that helps victims respond to ransom attacks, one of the sources said, declining to identify the firm.

The Yemen Model

Alexandra Stark

Since November 2023, Yemen's Houthis have launched dozens of attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea. So far, they have managed to hijack one ship, sink another, and damage several more. But the Houthi attacks have had even further-ranging effects on global trade: up to 40 percent of traffic has been rerouted around Africa, adding significant time and cost to the journey.

In response, the United States and a coalition of forces in the Red Sea have downed a number of Houthi UAVs and missiles, launched retaliatory attacks on Houthi territory in Yemen, and attempted to prevent more hijackings. The Deputy Commander of U.S. CENTCOM described these actions as the first U.S. engagement in naval combat at this scale since World War II. The Houthi attacks haven't stopped, but while they slowed in May, down from a recent peak of 28 UAVs shot down by coalition forces on March 9, they spiked again in June.

U.S. and coalition strikes may have degraded the Houthis' launching systems, command and control nodes, and possibly stockpiles of missiles and UAVs.Share on Twitter

There are at least four possible reasons for the slowdown. First, U.S. officials believe that U.S. and coalition strikes may have degraded the Houthis' launching systems, command and control nodes, and possibly stockpiles of missiles and UAVs. These assessments, however, are clouded by a lack of clarity about the size of the Houthis' weapons stockpiles before the U.S.-led strikes began and the Houthis' ability to be resupplied by Iran.

Second, as per public reporting, U.S. officials have apparently been engaged in private conversations with Iran, which could include discussions of de-escalation in the Red Sea.


NATO’s Biggest Test Since the Cold War Is Still Ahead

Eugene Rumer

At this week’s celebration of NATO’s seventy-fifth anniversary, there will be plenty of self-congratulatory speeches about the strongest, most enduring, and most successful alliance in history and promises to keep it that way well into the future. Such optimism looks increasingly detached from the reality facing the allies as they struggle to fulfill their most important missions since the Cold War—to support Ukraine and to help it defeat Russia.

Two and a half years into what has become a war of attrition, the outlook for Ukraine is grim. Last year’s optimistic forecasts about putting Russian forces in an untenable situation during the Ukrainian counteroffensive and forcing Putin to negotiate in earnest have not materialized. Despite intense fighting and massive losses by both sides, the line of contact remains today essentially where it was at the end of 2022. Ukraine’s armed forces have dug in and transitioned to a long-term defensive strategy. Such a strategy represents a fundamental change from President Volodymyr Zelensky’s long-standing goal of liberating all Russian-occupied territory. An open-ended stalemate is not a convincing theory of victory.

In contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s theory of victory is clear. Since his initial blitzkrieg plan collapsed, the Russian leader has bet on winning at attrition warfare against Ukraine. The Russian army is making incremental gains on the battlefield, but the main Russian action is against Ukrainian cities and towns, infrastructure, and the spirit of the people of Ukraine. Relentless Russian bombardment has resulted in the destruction of well over half of Ukraine’s power generation capacity. Western allies and partners are scrambling to provide Ukraine with as much air defense capability as they can get their hands on, but Russia appears to have no trouble getting more bombs and missiles to sustain its campaign. And the damage to Ukrainian infrastructure is already done and is unlikely to be repaired in the foreseeable future. Putin’s bet is brutally transparent and simple—in a war of attrition, the side that has more of everything wins. And Russia has more of everything, including time. Putin is under no pressure to end this war.

A Better Path for Ukraine and NATO What Kyiv Could Do Now for a Place in the Alliance

M. E. Sarotte

We know what will not happen at NATO’s 75th anniversary summit in Washington this week: Ukraine becoming the alliance’s 33rd member. U.S. officials are talking instead about giving Ukraine “a bridge to NATO,” as National Security Council Senior Director for Europe Michael Carpenter put it recently. But when it comes to membership, many of the alliance’s leaders—including the United States and Germany—remain concerned that a formal move will be impossible as long as Kyiv is at war, given the centrality of the alliance’s Article 5 guarantee that an attack against one will be considered an attack against all.

Yet such concerns, while understandable, do not take sufficient account of either the current state of U.S. politics or the war itself. Ukraine’s “bridge to NATO” could easily become a bridge to nowhere if Donald Trump wins the November U.S. presidential election. Trump has threatened to withdraw from the alliance—or, as former NATO and Trump administration officials wrote together in Foreign Affairs recently, he could undermine the alliance by “withholding funding, recalling U.S. troops and commanders from Europe, and blocking important decisions in the North Atlantic Council.” He has also pledged to end the war in Ukraine in a single day.

Even without a Trump victory, it is unlikely that the flow of assistance from the U.S. and European governments will continue at anywhere near the levels of the past two and a half years. Chances of a major Russian advance or breakthrough will grow. Those could cause destabilizing refugee movements and panic among Russian border states (and beyond). Some countries might respond by doing what French President Emmanuel Macron proposed—sending their own forces to Ukraine, which could provoke retaliation against their NATO-protected home territories.

Russia Conducting 'Shadow War' To Destabilize European Countries, Leaders Say

Erin Osborne and Todd Prince

Russia is carrying out a "shadow war" against European countries through cyberattacks, disinformation, sabotage, and other measures and it's time to recognize it and respond, according to European leaders attending the NATO summit.

"There is a shadow war going on that is clear in all those domains," Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said at a panel discussion on July 10 on the sidelines of the summit in Washington.

"I think we have to raise awareness," said Kallas, who was joined by Czech President Petr Pavel and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. "We see this in our intelligence, but I'm not sure that everybody does see this in the same way.”

Russia is believed to be behind a series of cyber-intrusions, arson attacks, and other nonkinetic attacks across Europe this year.

Pavel, a retired Czech Army general and former chairman of the NATO Military Committee, told the panel that Russia was in "continuous conflict" with European countries. The tools Moscow is using, he said, are "much cheaper" and "more effective" than bombs and guns.

Israeli army 'failed in mission' to protect kibbutz from Hamas attack

Nick Beake

Israel's defence minister has called for a state inquiry into what led to the Hamas attacks on 7 October, as the military admitted it failed in its duty to protect a small community were 101 people were killed.

Yoav Gallant made his comments after the first in a series of official Israeli military reports laid bare how the army operated in Kibbutz Be’eri, which is near the Gaza perimeter fence.

More residents died at the kibbutz than any other Israeli community on 7 October, after gunmen crossed from Gaza and rampaged through their homes.

Mr Gallant said an independent national inquiry was needed to examine the actions of all those in power, including Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, in relation to how Hamas had grown in strength and capability over the past decade.

Around 1,200 people were killed and 251 others were taken back to Gaza as hostages in the unprecedented assault last autumn.

It led to the major Israeli military operation in Gaza which has killed more than 38,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Marines release new AI strategy

JON HARPER

The U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters conducted a joint test mission for the XQ-58A on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The joint effort focused on the Penetrating Affordable Autonomous Collaborative Killer-Portfolio Program. (Photo by Matthew Veasley)

The Marine Corps issued a new artificial intelligence strategy that is expected to guide the service’s efforts to integrate the technology across its enterprise, from the back office to the battlefield.

Lt. Gen. Matthew Glavy, deputy commandant for information, described the release of the document, which was announced publicly Wednesday, as a major milestone in the Marines’ pursuit of digital modernization.

“Our fight for and with information needs AI now,” he wrote in the foreword for the strategy, noting that the war in Ukraine is demonstrating how the tech can enable faster decision-making.

“This strategy sets the conditions for delivering modern AI capabilities to support decision advantage in expeditionary advanced base operations and littoral operations in contested environments,” Glavy added.

Leaders of the Corps see opportunities for AI applications across warfighting functions as well as business operations.

However, the service faces AI-related challenges, including misalignment of the technology with mission objectives, competency gaps, difficulty deploying capabilities at scale, governance frameworks that hinder innovation, and barriers to collaboration, according to the strategy.

AI frenzy takes Taiwan's TSMC to record peak, puts it in trillion dollar club

Reuters

SINGAPORE, July 11 (Reuters) - Taiwan's TSMC (2330.TW), opens new tab scaled a record high on Thursday after posting strong second-quarter revenue on booming demand for AI applications, cementing its position as Asia's most valuable company.

TSMC also topped a trillion dollar market value this week.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

The AI frenzy has sparked a rally in chipmaker stocks across the globe. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, whose customers include AI poster child Nvidia (NVDA.O), opens new tab, has especially benefited from the soaring demand for AI-capable chips.

Foreign investors have poured $4.8 billion so far this year into Taiwan's stock market, which is dominated by TSMC. Asian funds, however, according to HSBC, still remain underweight on Taiwan, suggesting there could be room for further inflow.

BY THE NUMBERS

Shares of TSMC, whose customers also include Apple (AAPL.O), opens new tab, have jumped nearly 80% this year, widely outperforming the benchmark Taiwan SE Weighted Index (.TWII), opens new tab, which is up 35%.

On Thursday, TSMC's Taipei-listed shares rose more than 2% to a record T$1,080, taking the company's market value to T$28 trillion ($861 billion) and making it Asia's most valuable publicly listed company.

TSMC's ADRs , first listed on the NYSE in 1997, jumped 4.8% to a record $192.79 on Monday, briefly boosting the firm's market value to $1 trillion. On Wednesday, the ADRs closed at $191.05.

TSMC is due to report its full second-quarter earnings on July 18.

Cyber Threat Intelligence In The Age Of Automation

Dan Sorensen

Even today, organizations face sophisticated and advanced persistent cyber threats (APT) in today's ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape. One powerful tool in the cybersecurity arsenal is cyber threat intelligence (CTI). By harnessing CTI, organizations can gain valuable insights into emerging threats, adversaries' tactics, techniques, procedures (TTPs) and vulnerabilities in their environment. I have outlined some key strategies to enhance proactive defense measures and strengthen overall cybersecurity posture.

Types Of CTI Data, Considering The Forecasted Threats

Strategic Intelligence: Essential for anticipating long-term trends and emerging threats like the rise of state-sponsored cyberattacks and the weaponization of artificial intelligence (AI).

Operational Intelligence: Critical for focusing on specific threats, such as the predicted surge in supply chain attacks and ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) models.

Tactical Intelligence: Vital for immediate detection and response, especially considering the forecast increase in zero-day exploits and fileless malware attacks.

Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT): Social media platforms and underground forums are valuable sources for tracking threat actor discussions and identifying emerging attack techniques focused on exploiting new vulnerabilities in popular software and systems.

14 July 2024

How India’s Manufacturing Boom Hinders China’s Supply Chain Dumping – Analysis

Subrata Majumder

Manufacturing in India, which slipped to negative growth during the COVID 19 period, made a sparkling growth in the post COVID 19 period. It boomed to 9.9 percent growth in 2023-24, against a fall by 2.3 percent in the previous year in the GDP growth trajectory.

Nevertheless, the irony is notwithstanding India pitches one of the fastest growth in the economy in the world, manufacturing was trailing behind. This raised a grave concern for the policy makers as manufacturing is the key driver to increase employment and decimate bulging unemployment , the crucial issue for an healthy economy.

Lackluster growth in manufacturing warranted a change in the policy perspectives to reshape the manufacturing landscape in the country. Initially, focus on manufacturing under “Make in India“ was making goods from beginning to finished products domestically. The concept failed to achieve the target of 22 percent of GDP in 2022.

Meantime, with the onset of COVID, a dramatic change was evoked in the world manufacturing landscape for supply chain. China, which topped in manufacturing, receded in its hegemony. Foreign investors were flying out of China and shifted to other South East countries and India. Vietnam emerged as a substitution for China. But, soon it faded its potential since it depends upon China substantially for raw materials and intermediates.

Building Capabilities and Capacities for India - Policy suggestions for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government 2024


The Vivekananda International Foundation has published a report Building Capabilities and Capacities for India: Policy Suggestions for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government 2024. It makes several policy suggestions in areas ranging from foreign policy, defence technology and strategic manufacturing to climate change, cybersecurity and culture and civilisation. Based on the expert-level discussions held at the VIF, the report suggests an expansion of diplomatic capacity to enable deeper engagement with the world. It underscores the need to bring out a National Security Strategy, and a Foreign Policy Concept for an uncertain world. Taking note of the need to remain constantly engaged with the world, it suggests the appointment of regional and thematic special envoys to complement the normal diplomatic exchanges. It recommends setting up an office of International Trade Negotiators to improve India's trade negotiation capabilities.

It emphasises the need for reexamining joining the RCEP and concluding a BIMSTEC FTA. On the economic front, the report recommends increased focus on the aspirations of the youths, creating more jobs, raising per capita income and recommends the inclusion of petrol and diesel under the GST. Noting the complexity of the energy transition to net zero, the report recommends that nuclear power should be given the status of green energy and should be provided incentives on par with renewable. Taking cognisance of the serious negative impact of climate change on the economy and society, the report recommends that climate change should be factored into all policies and plans. 

The report also covers areas such as Foreign Policy, International Trade, Arctic Issues, Maritime, Defence, Strategic Manufacturing and Exports, India as a drone hub, Space, Shipbuilding, Cybersecurity Startups, Project implementation, Climate Change and biodiversity, Economy, Energy Transition and Power Sector, Agriculture and Rural Development, Higher Education, Ayurveda, Legal system, Urbanisation, Infrastructure Development, Connecting Bharat with India, Delhi, the Capital city, Internal Security, Culture and civilisation and Special Missions (AI, Quantum technologies, Cyber-physical)

Don’t Be Fooled by China’s Third Plenum

STEPHEN S. ROACH

In the so-called Third Plenum to be held on July 15-18, China’s senior leadership will have an opportunity to establish the broad outlines of a policy framework that could reshape the country’s course for the next several years. Don’t count on it. There is good reason to think that China watchers in the West have unrealistic expectations of what is to come.

Such was the case in late 2013 when the 18th Central Committee gathered for a Third Plenum of its own. That policy conclave was widely heralded as a historic opportunity for a new leader – Xi Jinping – to put China on a different path after the unfinished reforms of the Hu Jintao era. There was a palpable sense of excitement in the air, and at first blush, the plenum appeared to deliver. A final communiqué listed more than 300 reform proposals covering a broad range of areas – from state-owned enterprises, land policy, and foreign trade to investment reforms and environmental and social-welfare policies.

In the end, however, the Third Plenum of 2013 didn’t meet Westerners’ lofty expectations. The implementation of reforms was disappointing and that plenum came up short on its biggest promise: to give the market a decisive role in guiding China’s economic development. Instead, Xi has presided over an increasingly state-dominated system. The intervening years have been shaped less by the successful execution of plenum-driven reforms, and more by the evolution of a leader-centric system of governance that quickly came to be known as Xi Jinping Thought.

US Ally Intercepts Chinese Spy Drone

Ryan Chan

Japanese fighter jets scrambled on Monday as China sent an unmanned aerial vehicle over a strategic waterway near the southwestern islands of Japan.

A Chinese TB-001 reconnaissance and attack drone flew from the East China Sea and transited the Miyako Strait, the Japanese Defense Ministry's Joint Staff Office said. Newsweek's map roughly illustrates the flight path taken by the drone as it circled over waters south of the strait before returning.

The Miyako Strait separates the Japanese island of Miyako and and Okinawa. It is an important gateway for Chinese naval deployments to the Philippine Sea and wider Pacific Ocean, as well as a potential maritime choke point in wartime due to U.S. and Japanese missile systems installed there.

The Japan Self-Defense Forces regularly monitor and report the movements of Chinese and Russian military aircraft inside Japan's air defense zone, shown in the map as a dashed white line.

China's Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a Newsweek email seeking comment about the TB-001's maneuvers.

For First Time, NATO Accuses China of Supplying Russia’s Attacks on Ukraine

David E. Sanger

After decades of viewing China as a distant threat, NATO on Wednesday accused Beijing of becoming “a decisive enabler of Russia’s war against Ukraine,” and demanded that it halt shipments of “weapons components” and other technology critical to the rebuilding of the Russian military.

The statement is contained in a declaration approved by the 32 leaders of the alliance, shortly before they headed to a dinner at the White House on Wednesday night. It is a major departure for NATO, which until 2019 never officially mentioned China as a concern, and then only in the blandest of language.

Now, for the first time, the alliance has joined in Washington’s denunciations of China’s military support for Russia.

But the declaration contains an implicit threat that China’s growing support for Russia will come at a cost. China “cannot enable the largest war in Europe in recent history without this negatively impacting its interests and reputation,” the declaration said, particularly calling out “its large-scale support for Russia’s defense industrial base.”

Why Turkey's Erdogan Is Breaking With Biden on Ukraine and Gaza

Tom O'Connor

As President Joe Biden looks to muster up international support for Ukraine against Russian battlefield advances and temper criticism of his support for Israel amid its ongoing war in Gaza, the U.S. leader faces an influential dissenting voice from ally Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In written responses shared exclusively with Newsweek as the Turkish leader arrived in Washington, D.C., for the annual NATO summit, Erdogan argued that Western powers were taking wrong and potentially dangerous approaches to the two conflicts, both of which he warned had the potential to spiral into far larger confrontations engulfing the Eastern European and Middle Eastern regions that his nation straddles.

On Ukraine, the spotlight issue of the annual NATO gathering, Erdogan reaffirmed his stance that "we will not be a party to this war" in spite of Biden's calls for greater NATO solidarity against Russia. With pledges of further military aid to Kyiv emanating from Western capitals in the lead-up to the summit, Erdogan was deeply critical of his allies' strategy.

"The solution is not more bloodshed and suffering, but rather a lasting peace achieved through dialogue," Erdogan told Newsweek. "The attitude of some of our Western allies towards Russia has only fueled the fire. This has resulted in more harm than good for Ukraine. In contrast, we have engaged in dialogue with both warring parties in an effort to bring them closer to peace."

Israeli military orders the evacuation of Gaza City, an early target of its war with Hamas

WAFAA SHURAFA AND SAMY MAGDY

The Israeli military urged all Palestinians to leave Gaza City and head south Wednesday, pressing ahead with a fresh offensive across the north, south and center of the embattled territory that has killed dozens of people over the past 48 hours.

The stepped-up military activity came as U.S., Egyptian and Qatari mediators met with Israeli officials in the Qatari capital, Doha, for talks seeking a long-elusive cease-fire deal with Gaza’s Hamas militant group in exchange for the release of dozens of Israeli hostages it is holding.

Israel says it is pursuing Hamas fighters that are regrouping in various parts of Gaza nine months into the war. But heavy strikes in recent days along the length of the territory also could be aimed at putting more pressure on Hamas in the cease-fire talks.