19 February 2024

U.S. Plans to Send Weapons to Israel Amid Biden Push for Cease-Fire Deal

Jared Malsin and Nancy A. Youssef

ISTANBUL—The Biden administration is preparing to send bombs and other weapons to Israel that would add to its military arsenal even as the U.S. pushes for a cease-fire in the war in Gaza, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The proposed arms delivery includes roughly a thousand each of MK-82 bombs, KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munitions that add precision guidance to bombs, and FMU-139 bomb fuses, the officials said. The arms are estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars. The proposed delivery is still being reviewed internally by the administration, a U.S. official said, and the details of the proposal could change before the Biden administration notifies congressional committee leaders who would need to approve the transfer.

The planned weapons transfer comes during a crucial moment in the war in Gaza as Israel prepares to launch an assault on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, where more than one million Palestinians are sheltering from the war. Israel has said it needs to expand its military offensive in the area to attack Hamas militants hiding among civilians who have fled there from other areas of the strip.

The White House referred questions to the State Department and Defense Department, which both declined to comment. The Israeli Defense Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office didn’t respond to requests for comment. The Israeli military referred questions to the Defense Ministry.

Israeli strikes on Lebanon kill 9 amid concerns over cross-border escalation

Navya Beri

People work in the area where a rocket landed after it was fired from Lebanon, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Kiryat Shmona close to Israel's border with Lebanon in northern Israel February 13, 2024 Photograph:(Reuters)

The Israeli military said on Wednesday (Feb 14) said that its fighter jets "began a series of strikes in Lebanon".

An Israeli strike on south Lebanon claimed the lives of at least nine people, including seven civilians on Wednesday (Feb 15), reported news agency AFP quoting official sources.

On the other hand, the Israeli military said that it lost one of its soldiers in cross-border rocket fire.

While no group immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket attack, the exchange of deadly fire, which led to the worst single-day civilian death toll in Lebanon since the war broke out between Israel and Hamas on Oct 7, has raised concerns over heightened tensions and escalation of conflict between Israel and the militant group Hezbollah.

An Israeli strike on a residential building in the city of Nabatiyeh killed four civilians from the same family "including two women" on Wednesday, said a Lebanese security source as per AFP reports.

The Tale of 2 Economies: Navigating the Growth Paradox in China

Marina Yue Zhang

China presents a compelling case of the growth paradox, where robust economic indicators mask underlying disparities and societal sentiments. The dichotomy between China’s impressive economic figures and the lived realities of its businesses and people indicates how these contradictions coexist. Understanding these divides and seeking solutions to bridge them can have a significant impact on the nation’s economic trajectory and its global standing.

A Growth Paradox

On January 17, the National Bureau of Statistics announced that China’s GDP growth for 2023 reached 5.2 percent, a growth rate that is highly commendable and ranks prominently on the global stage. That figure would suggest that the Chinese economy has achieved stable and rapid growth, again.

However, the reality shows clear signs of strain: Consumers are saving their shrinking disposable incomes instead of spending them, and enterprises are suspending their investments due to fear of declining profitability and company value.

In 2023, the total market value of A-shares in China decreased by approximately 8.5 trillion yuan, an amount equivalent to the total cost of the Belt and Road Initiative over its lifetime (estimated to be between $1.2-1.3 trillion, or about 8-9 trillion yuan). This decline occurred against the backdrop of growing capital markets in the United States, various European countries, and India. In the first trading week of 2024 alone, an additional 7 trillion yuan was lost. Stock markets mirror the collective sentiments of investors, currently indicating a loss of confidence in China’s growth prospects.

A strategy to counter malign Chinese and Russian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean

Matthew Kroenig, Jason Marczak, and Jeffrey Cimmino

The United States and its allies are engaged in a global strategic competition with China and Russia. The primary theaters for this contest are Europe and the Indo-Pacific, but China and Russia also are increasing their malign influence in the Global South, including Latin America and the Caribbean. Their malign actions threaten the United States in its own hemisphere and must be a high priority for US foreign and defense policy.

The United States must actively compete with Russia and, especially, China; otherwise, nations in the region may continue to be persuaded to prioritize engagement with these autocratic rivals over the United States in all or most sectors. Unfortunately, the US approach to the region has been marked by strategic errors, including a problematic lack of attention and inadequate efforts to use all tools of national power to compete with China and Russia.

The consequences of inaction are too high. What might start, for example, as a set of seemingly harmless infrastructure projects could end up with Chinese control of vital chokepoints for sea lines of communication, such as the Panama Canal. More broadly, a failure to act appropriately now will leave the region under the influence of America’s chief authoritarian rivals.

How the United States can counter malign Chinese and Russian influence in the Western Hemisphere

The United States and its allies are engaged in a global strategic competition with China and Russia. The primary theaters for this contest are Europe and the Indo-Pacific, but China and Russia also are increasing their malign influence in the Global South, including Latin America and the Caribbean. Their malign actions threaten the United States in its own hemisphere and must be a high priority for US foreign and defense policy.

The United States must actively compete with Russia and, especially, China; otherwise, nations in the region may continue to be persuaded to prioritize engagement with these autocratic rivals over the United States in all or most sectors. Unfortunately, the US approach to the region has been marked by strategic errors, including a problematic lack of attention and inadequate efforts to use all tools of national power to compete with China and Russia.

The consequences of inaction are too high. What might start, for example, as a set of seemingly harmless infrastructure projects could end up with Chinese control of vital chokepoints for sea lines of communication, such as the Panama Canal. More broadly, a failure to act appropriately now will leave the region under the influence of America’s chief authoritarian rivals.

China and Russia have different goals and capabilities in the region. China seeks to leverage its economic power to increase its influence in the other areas of competition, with significant success to date, whereas Russia continues to support anti-American authoritarian regimes militarily and spread disinformation throughout the region to undermine US interests. China’s economic engagement often aims to cement access to resources or shift the policies of countries in the region: guaranteeing access to critical minerals in Peru for example, or pushing countries to loosen ties with Taiwan. China also operates spy stations in Cuba and has a hand in the US fentanyl epidemic that continues to cost tens of thousands of lives, with chemical precursors reaching Mexico via China. Russia, for its part, has pursued military partnerships with Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, including sending Russian forces to the region.


Ashka Jhaveri, Johanna Moore, Amin Soltani, Alexandra Braverman, and Nicholas Carl

The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.

Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.

Click here to see CTP and ISW’s interactive map of Israeli ground operations. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.

Key Takeaways:Northern Gaza Strip: The Israel Defense Forces continued targeting Hamas commanders and fighters in the northern Gaza Strip.

Southern Gaza Strip: Israeli forces found medications belonging to Hamas-held hostages and weapons in Nasser Hospital in western Khan Younis.

West Bank: A Palestinian resident of east Jerusalem conducted a shooting attack in Kiryat Malachi on February 16, injuring four and killing two.

Southern Lebanon and Golan Heights: The Israel Defense Forces conducted a training exercise to increase the combat readiness of forces stationed on Israel’s northern border.

Iraq: Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al Sudani met with the commander of NATO Allied Joint Force Command Naples to discuss NATO’s Mission Iraq.

Yemen: The Houthis likely conducted a missile attack targeting an unspecified Panama-flagged commercial vessel in the Red Sea.

Pentagon Used Six-Bladed ‘Ginsu’ Weapon to Kill Iraqi Militia Leader

Gordon Lubold and Nancy A. Youssef

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon killed a Kataib Hezbollah leader in downtown Baghdad last week using a weapon that employs six long blades to shred its target and minimize civilian casualties, defense officials said.

The modified Hellfire missile, which inside the military is referred to colloquially as “the flying Ginsu,” recalling the popular knives sold on TV infomercials in the 1970s, was used to target Abu Baqr al-Saadi, the leader of Kataib Hezbollah in Syria. The U.S. use of the Ginsu in the Baghdad strike hasn’t been previously disclosed.

The strike on al-Saadi, who was traveling in a car, was part of a retaliatory response to the Iranian-backed group for their role in attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and Jordan, where a Jan. 28 attack on a base killed three American soldiers, the officials said.

The weapon, formally known as the R9X, is an inert Hellfire missile designed by the Pentagon and the CIA to kill terrorist leaders. It was employed, in part, because of concerns that killing innocent bystanders could inflame an already tense political situation in Iraq, which hosts roughly 2,500 American troops, the officials said.

Imagery of the strike on al-Saadi, showing the remnants of a burning but largely intact vehicle, was reminiscent of others involving the Ginsu. A weapon with an explosive warhead, like the traditional Hellfire missile, would have likely destroyed the vehicle.

U.S. military officials declined to comment on the use of the Ginsu.

Inert, but Lethal

Three Million Shells. That’s How Much More Artillery Ammo Russia Thinks It Needs To Defeat Ukraine.

David Axe

15,000 shells per day. That’s how much artillery ammunition the Kremlin believes it needs to blast Ukrainian forces into surrender and win the war in Ukraine in 2025.

That’s 5,000 more shells than Russian batteries currently are firing every day in Ukraine—and 9,000 more shells than Russian industry produces every day.

To make up the shortfall, the Kremlin has two options, neither without its limits. One, it can try to restore some of the roughly three million old shells that still are sitting in long-term storage in Russia.

Two, it can try to secure additional shipments from Iran and, more importantly, North Korea—on top of the two million or more shells Russia already has acquired from those countries.

It’s all easier said than done, and Russian forces face “a significant shortfall” of their main 152-millimeter shells next year, according to a new report from the Royal United Services Institute in London.

The Russian army’s thousands of howitzers fired with abandon in the early months of Russia’s wider war on Ukraine beginning in February 2022. According to the Estonian defense ministry, Russian batteries initially fired as many as 60,000 shells per day.

That incredible sustained barrage quickly burned through millions of rounds in just a few months, more or less consuming every 122-millimeter and 152-millimeter round Russian forces had on hand before the war.

Eighteen months later in late 2023, the Russians were shooting just 10,000 shells a day—and the Ukrainians, flush with a million South Korean shells the Americans had bought for them, roughly matched that firing rate.

Making Attrition Work: A Viable Theory of Victory for Ukraine

As the Russia–Ukraine war enters its third year, Ukraine faces a daunting task: how to restore its military advantage. The 2023 summer offensive, which dragged into autumn, was unsuccessful. Planning for the offensive appears to have been overly optimistic and poorly connected to how the Ukrainian armed forces actually fight, despite numerous analyses warning that the operation would prove costly and difficult, and that manoeuvre warfare was unlikely to attain a quick breakthrough against a well-prepared defence.

Conditions are not propitious for another major ground offensive in 2024. Our observations during field trips to Ukraine over the past year indicate that, to maximise Ukraine’s chances of eventual victory, Western countries need to recognise that the driving engine of Ukraine’s effectiveness has been a destruction-centred approach, resulting in high levels of attrition – that is, reducing an enemy’s capacity to fight by inflicting higher losses in personnel and materiel than one’s own side is suffering, which privileges firepower over mobility and direct attack or prepared defence over flanking action. Attempts at manoeuvre against a prepared defence have consistently floundered, especially in the absence of a decisive force advantage. While manoeuvre is still relevant on the battlefield, it will need a lot of help from attrition to bear fruit.

The West should focus on resourcing Ukraine’s ability to establish a decisive advantage in fires – meaning, typically, tube and rocket artillery, battlefield strike drones, long-range precision-strike systems and support by tactical aviation. No less important, the West needs to help Ukraine scale its capacity to employ units so that it can exploit that advantage in offensive operations. Western countries should also help Ukraine ramp up industrial production of those capabilities that provide the greatest advantages in an attritional war. The West will need to be appreciative of Ukrainian force structure and military culture, as well as the challenges posed by an increasingly mobilised military, which means avoiding the temptation to try to convert the Ukrainian military to a more Western, manoeuvre-centred way of fighting.

Saving America’s future from the Blob


Never believe what bipartisan foreign policy establishment hacks say about China and Russia. They don’t believe what they say, either. The Blob (as Obama aide Ben Rhodes called it) learned through generations of strategic blunders that if everyone closes ranks and sticks to the same story, its members will survive a strategic disaster of any magnitude with their careers intact.

The same principle explains why not a single American banker went to jail after the subprime collapse of 2008, the biggest fraud in all financial history. The Blob’s logic is simple: If you go after one of us, then you have to go after all of us, and who will be left to put things back together?

Whether or not it was right for America to go abroad seeking monsters to destroy in Moscow and Beijing, the way we went about it was abominably stupid.

“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared,” Machiavelli advised.

Washington has wounded Russia and China but not disabled them, setting in motion a tragic sequence of responses that in the worst case will lead to war, but more likely will leave the United States with vastly diminished strategic standing.

The rise of China and the resilience of Russia have persisted through serried waves of tech restrictions, $125 billion of NATO support for Ukraine and an unprecedented sanctions regime against Russia, including the seizure of $300 billion in reserves, among other measures.

How Navalny Changed Russia

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan

The announcement on Friday that the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has died in a remote Russian prison colony has left observers of the country in shock. For years, the most fearless critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the pervasive corruption of Putin’s inner circle, Navalny had been serving a draconian 19-year sentence for extremism. Indeed, it was highly unlikely that he would ever be released as long as Putin was in power. But apparently, even that was not enough. According to the Russian prison service, Navalny collapsed after a short walk in the prison yard and lost consciousness and died soon after. The details of his death have yet to emerge, but in a Friday news conference, U.S. President Joe Biden expressed the consensus view of observers in Russia and around the world: “Putin is responsible.”

As brazen and heinous as it would be, a decision by Putin to kill Navalny should not come as a surprise. For the Russian president, silencing him once and for all makes perfect sense, even if the Kremlin’s spin doctors try to deny it. After all, Navalny was a master of social media who had often managed to beat the Kremlin at its own information game, exposing terrible abuses and misdeeds by the regime in Moscow and broadcasting them to millions of people over YouTube and other platforms—even as the government did everything it could to silence him. In December 2020, he even managed to get a confession out of his own would-be government assassins, who had embarrassingly bungled an effort to poison him on a flight from Tomsk in Siberia to Moscow in August 2020.

Even more dangerous was Navalny’s extraordinary, boundary-defying popularity. Unlike any Russian opposition figure since Putin came to power almost a quarter century ago, Navalny was able to build a following that went far beyond Russia’s urban elites. He reached people from every corner of the country, including workers and IT engineers as well as liberals and professionals. His supporters were often equally fervent at home and abroad. And he was especially good at galvanizing young Russians who might otherwise have turned away from politics altogether.

The US Military Already Has a Decades-Old Countermeasure for Russian Space Nukes

Jared Keller

The national security of the United States is currently imperiled by a new threat from Russia, according to the White House: a "troubling" emerging, anti-satellite weapon that, while ostensibly incapable of "physical destruction" on the ground, could severely disrupt U.S. military and civilian operations in outer space. Some U.S. government officials suspect the system may be nuclear, a prospect that raises concerns that the Russian government could not only disable strategic satellites in orbit, but, in turn, deal a major blow to the U.S. economy by degrading both government and civilian space-based operations. The threat is apparently so dire that lawmakers in Congress are sounding alarm bells to the public.

Luckily, the U.S. military has a relatively simple countermeasure in place to deal with space-based weapons: just send up a fighter jet to blow the damn thing out of the sky. After all, the Air Force had done it before -- once.


Riley Bailey, Karolina Hird, Angelica Evans, Grace Mappes, Christina Harward, and Frederick W. Kagan

Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.

Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.

Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2:20pm ET on February 16 (excluding information pertaining to Avdiivka). ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 17 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Ukrainian forces have begun to withdraw from Avdiivka, and Russian forces appear to be focused on complicating or preventing a complete Ukrainian withdrawal. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi stated early in the morning Ukrainian time on February 17 that he ordered Ukrainian forces within Avdiivka to withdraw to more favorable defensive positions in order to avoid encirclement and save the lives of Ukrainian personnel.[1] Syrskyi’s announcement comes after several confirmed Russian advances on the outskirts of Avdiivka in the past 24 hours. Geolocated footage published on February 16 indicates that Russian forces advanced further south along Hrushevskoho Street on Avdiivka’s western outskirts and south of the Avdiivka Coke Plant in northwestern Avdiivka, made marginal gains in dacha areas in northeastern Avdiivka, and captured the Avdiivka City Park in central Avdiivka.[2] The Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces acknowledged earlier on February 16 that Ukrainian forces withdrew from an established fortified position south of Avdiivka and that Ukrainian forces are withdrawing from unspecified positions to new prepared defensive positions.[3] Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces are transferring reinforcements to the area to stabilize the situation and further degrade attacking Russian forces.[4] It is normal practice to bring in reinforcements to function as a receiving force that can allow withdrawing units to reconstitute behind prepared defensive positions. Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces are withdrawing en masse and that Ukrainian withdrawals are becoming increasingly chaotic and costly.[5] ISW has not observed any visual evidence of large or chaotic Ukrainian withdrawals, however, and the continued marginal rate of Russian advance in and around Avdiivka suggests that Ukrainian forces are currently conducting a relatively controlled withdrawal from Avdiivka.

Ukraine Withdraws From Besieged City as Russia Advance

Isabel Coles

Russian forces raised their flag over the eastern city of Avdiivka after Ukraine’s top military commander ordered his outgunned troops to withdraw, giving Moscow its first major gain in months.

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskiy said early Saturday that he was pulling back troops to better defensive lines in order to prevent encirclement and preserve lives. Russian forces had pushed rapidly into the city in recent days as Ukraine’s lack of artillery ammunition hamstrung efforts to hold the invaders back. The Biden administration said the fall of Avdiivka was the price for Congress’s failure to send further military aid to Ukraine.

Russia’s capture of Avdiivka following a monthslong assault represents the biggest victory for President Vladimir Putin since his forces seized the eastern city of Bakhmut in May 2023. Moscow has retaken the initiative in the war as Ukraine is short on personnel and military equipment after a failed counteroffensive last year.

Russian military bloggers posted images of their flag hoisted over the local administration building and the sprawling Avdiivka Coke Plant, which had been a bastion for Ukrainian forces in the city.

Cult of the drone: UAVs have changed war but not outcomes


Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, have been central to the war in Ukraine. Some analysts claim that drones have reshaped war, yielding not just tactical-level effects, but shaping operational and strategic outcomes as well.

It’s important to distinguish between these different levels of war. The tactical level of war refers to battlefield actions, such as patrols or raids. The operational level of war characterizes a military’s synchronization of tactical actions to achieve broader military objectives, such as destroying components of an adversary’s army. The strategic level of war relates to the way these military objectives combine to secure political aims, especially ending a war.

In the war in Ukraine, what have drones accomplished at these three levels?

Mounting evidence, including my own research as a military scholar who studies drone warfare, suggests that drones have delivered some tactical and operational successes for both Ukraine and Russia.

Yet they are strategically ineffective. Despite its increasing use of drones, Ukraine has not dislodged Russia from the Donbas region, and Russia has not broken Ukraine’s will to resist.
Drone warfare in Ukraine

The drone war in Ukraine is evolving in ways that differ from how other countries, especially the United States, use UAVs.

First, the US uses drones globally, and often in conflict zones that are not recognized by the United Nations or do not have U.S. troops on the ground. Unlike this pattern of “over-the-horizon” strikes, Ukraine and Russia use drones during an internationally recognized conflict that is bounded by their borders.

Avdiivka, Longtime Stronghold for Ukraine, Falls to Russians

Carlotta Gall, Marc Santora and Constant Méheut

Ukraine ordered the complete withdrawal from the decimated city of Avdiivka before dawn on Saturday, surrendering a position that had been a military stronghold for the better part of a decade, in the face of withering Russian assault.

“Based on the operational situation around Avdiivka, in order to avoid encirclement and preserve the lives and health of servicemen, I decided to withdraw our units from the city and move to defense on more favorable lines,” Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, Ukraine’s top military commander, said in a statement issued overnight.

The fall of Avdiivka, a city that was once home to some 30,000 people but is now a smoking ruin, is the first major gain Russian forces have achieved since May of last year. After rebuffing a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the summer and fall, Russian forces in recent weeks have been pressing the attack across nearly the entire length of the 600-mile-long front.

The Ukrainian withdrawal on Saturday follows a bloody endgame that saw some of the fiercest fighting of the two-year-old war. Relying on its superiority in personnel and weaponry, Russia pounded the city with aerial bombardments and ground assaults, even as its fighters suffered a staggering amount of casualties.

Outgunned Ukrainian forces had begun withdrawing from positions in the southern part of the city on Wednesday, and since then have been engaged in a desperate battle to avoid encirclement inside the city as Russian forces advanced from multiple directions. As Russian bombers pummeled Avdiivka, Ukraine said its forces had targeted and shot down three Russian warplanes.

From US Abrams To German Leopards – Russia Develops ‘Neural Network’ That Can Identify Big Weapons In Warzone?

Parth Satam

Russian scientists have reportedly developed a technology to help identify and differentiate between enemy installations and equipment.

To be used on drones, the NAKA technology has been described as a “neural network” that can spot European and US systems like the Leopard main battle tank (MBT) and the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle (IFV).

Moscow has been accelerating indigenous drone technology and producing homegrown UAV components and electronics since 2022 after the war exposed its weaknesses in the sector.

President Vladimir Putin, too, has mentioned artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum technology as focus areas by giving a fillip to the domestic technology industry.

Interestingly, it had developed similar technology for its Lancet-3 loitering munitions and the Marker unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), besides a system that can control UAVs with “brain impulses.”

It, however, appears that these efforts are separate, undertaken by individual state research institutes, universities, and private companies, and are yet to be integrated into a combined endeavor.

‘Neural Network’ that Can Identify Enemy Tanks

RIA Novosti quoted Hardberry-Rusfactor director Alexey German as saying, “NAKA makes it possible to accurately identify enemy objects and equipment in the special operation zone, including Leopard tanks, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and any other vehicles.”

Infographic - Impact of sanctions on the Russian economy

The content on this page is provided for reference purposes only. This content has not been altered or updated since 12/10/2023

Since Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Council has adopted 10 packages of sanctions against Russia and Belarus. The sanctions aim to weaken Russia’s ability to finance the war and specifically target the political, military and economic elite responsible for the invasion.

The restrictive measures do not target Russian society. That is why areas such as food, agriculture, health and pharmaceuticals are excluded from the restrictive measures imposed.Timeline - EU restrictive measures against Russia over Ukraine (background information)

Economic indicators are showing that the restrictive measures taken in Europe and elsewhere against Russia have had an impact on the Russian economy.
The Russian economy is shrinking

According to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2022 was a bad year for the Russian economy. It is estimated that in 2022, Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by 2.1%.

Russia’s economy may continue to shrink in 2023. Its GDP is forecast to decline by 2.5% in the worst-case scenario (OECD) or by 0.2% according to the World Bank. The IMF expects growth in 2023 (0.7%).
Russia’s GDP – evolution from 2018 to 2023

(base 100 in 2018)

Ukraine’s microphone-laden balloons that battle Russian drones awe US

Christopher McFadden

The United States military is considering developing novel acoustic sensors to counter drone threats, The War Zone reports. Inspired by Ukrainian prototypes currently in use to find and track Russian drones, the sensors could provide a much-needed interim measure before the U.S. planned E-7A "Wedgetail" fleet comes online. Such sensors could provide much-needed early-warning systems to U.S. personnel to defend against long-range kamikaze drones in places like the Middle East.

General James Hecker, who leads the US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA), and NATO's Allied Air Command, recently shared information about Ukraine's acoustic sensor network and addressed air and missile defense issues during a press roundtable at this year's Air & Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium.

At the event, Hecker explained how the Ukrainian military has implemented a network comprising thousands of acoustic sensors nationwide to detect and track Russian kamikaze drones.

This network enables them to alert their air defenses in advance and dispatch teams to shoot down the drones. While far more sophisticated, any lover of military history will immediately think about using acoustic mirrors before and during the Second World War.

Before the invention of radar, military air defense forces used these large concrete parabolic passive listening devices called experimental parabolic sound mirrors.

GOP Lawmaker Warns of ‘Serious National-Security Threat’

Dustin Volz , Gordon Lubold and Siobhan Hughes

WASHINGTON—A senior Republican lawmaker publicly warned about an unspecified “serious national-security threat” to the U.S. and requested President Biden to declassify information to allow for open discussion about how to respond to it, a move that sparked confusion in Congress just as lawmakers were debating whether to reauthorize a controversial spying program.

The unusual statement, issued by Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that classified intelligence had been made available to all members of Congress to review.

The classified intelligence is highly sensitive and relates to a Russian military capability involving incomplete ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon in space that could be used to target satellites, according to people familiar with the matter. One of the people said the issue was serious, but something that select lawmakers had in their possession for a number of weeks and didn’t present imminent urgency that should alarm the American public or allied countries.

Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters Wednesday that he had reached out to the so-called Gang of Eight—the Democratic and Republican leaders of each chamber and the heads of the intelligence committees—to schedule a briefing on a national-security matter that is set for Thursday. Sullivan didn’t specify what the issue was, but did note that it was “highly unusual” for the national security adviser to reach out to members of Congress directly for such a briefing.

The Ukraine War at Two: Time for some reality

Martin Stanton


The Ukraine war which the Russians so ill-advisedly began two years ago has been fascinating to watch. Not only for the emergence of new technologies and methods of warfighting but for the sheer grit, determination, and imagination of the Ukrainians in successfully (to a point) fending off their much larger Russian adversaries. The Russians on the other hand put lie to their pre-war claims that they were professionalizing their military by conducting an invasion that looked far more like their ham-handed interventions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia during the 1950s and 1960s than the Red Army’s textbook 1945 campaigns in Germany and Manchuria. For a time, it seemed to many observers (not all of whom were untrained) that the Ukrainians might be able to pull off a complete battlefield victory and eject the Russians from their country entirely. Unfortunately, that optimism perished in the dense minefields north of Tokmak this past summer. The fronts have been frozen (literally and figuratively) for months now, while each side girds itself for the spring.

Ukraine – Still potent, but they’re running out of things we can’t give them.

Despite the failure of their offensive this past summer, Ukraine’s armed forces remain formidable and innovative, they have caused serious attrition to the Russians Black Sea fleet and conducted strikes deep inside of Russia proper. They have lost no ground that matters and unit for unit are superior to their Russian adversaries. Unfortunately, time is not on their side.

Much has been made of the Ukraine funding bill currently stalled in the US legislature, but it’s all drama and political maneuvering. Some resources are going to be allocated for Ukraine in a timely manner, sufficient for them to fight through the summer of 2024. But even if the whole 60 Billion (+) USD was approved tomorrow there are two key issues the Ukrainians cannot overcome.

The Legacy of Irregular Warfare Masters

Sal Artiaga 

Engulfed within the nebulous terrain that delineates the boundaries of irregular warfare, a domain characterized by its defiance of conventionality and its asymmetrical tactics, we find ourselves confronted with a pantheon of enigmatic leaders whose tales are etched in the annals of history. These leaders, whose inherent amalgamation of idiosyncratic traits and characteristics demarcates them from their contemporaries, also serve as indomitable beacons illuminating the path toward victory. While history has lauded leaders like Mao Zedong, T.E. Lawrence, Michael Collins, and Vo Nguyen Giap for their contributions in this arena, a closer examination of their strategies reveals both triumphs and controversies that surrounded their methods. The following discussion aims to dissect and reveal the finely woven tapestry that captures the essence of these historical giants, highlighting unique qualities that have immortalized their respective contributions to irregular warfare, while also revealing the threads that bind them together.Photo by shark ovski on Unsplash

The Confluence of Adaptability and Innovation Epitomized by Mao Zedong

An inimitable figure whose colossal shadow continues to loom large over the rich tapestry of the Chinese Communist revolution, Mao Zedong was a quintessential embodiment of the symbiotic confluence of adaptability seamlessly intertwined with an unyielding spirit of innovation. His intricate collection of guerrilla warfare tactics stands as a testament to his unparalleled malleability and innovative strategic acumen in navigating the ever-shifting sand dunes of the warfare landscape. Armed with an astute comprehension of the multifarious socio-political intricacies that shaped the tumultuous epoch of the Chinese Civil War, Mao astutely adapted his guerrilla warfare strategies in alignment with the needs of the populace, thereby securing their unwavering allegiance and support. However, it is essential to note that his tactics, while effective, also contributed to significant civilian upheaval and suffering. These tactics include but are not limited to forced collectivization and the Great Leap Forward, violent land reforms, and the cultural revolution. Acknowledging these dual aspects of Mao’s leadership offers a more nuanced understanding of his legacy. Mao’s groundbreaking masterpiece on the complex web of guerilla warfare is still read today, serving as a lasting reminder of his strategic acumen.

Cognitive Sovereignty in the Era of Machine Learning and ‘Big Data’

Professor Lee Bygrave

We live in a world where automated decisional systems based on machine learning (ML) and ‘Big Data’ increasingly govern our behaviour. These systems promise a range of benefits, yet they also throw up a congeries of challenges, not least for our ability as humans to understand their logic and ramifications. This presentation considers such challenges through the prism of ‘cognitive sovereignty’ – a notion coined by Ulrich Beck in his famous work Risikogesellschaft (1986).

For the purposes of the presentation, cognitive sovereignty essentially denotes our moral and legal interest in being able to comprehend our environs and ourselves. The presentation argues that focus on cognitive sovereignty fills a blind spot in scholarship and policy discourse on the challenges arising from increasing use of ML-enhanced decisional systems. Not only is the notion an important constituent for an overarching conceptual framing of these challenges, it is also vital for grounding normative claims for greater explicability of machine processes. Further, the presentation assesses briefly the role of law, focusing on the provisions of data protection law that specifically concern automated decision-making. It shows that data protection law provides considerable but limited support for our cognitive sovereignty. At the same time, the application of legal norms operating with broad-brush criteria of proportionality, balance, and fairness carries a danger of ‘grey-box’ decision-making whereby the ‘black boxes’ of ML-enhanced decisional systems are assessed according to woolly, relatively subjective notions of propriety that are also rather opaque.

When AI Helps Generate Inventions, Who is the Inventor?

Hello, I’m Ylli Bajraktari, CEO of the Special Competitive Studies Project. In this edition of 2-2-2, SCSP’s Rama Elluru and guest writer Andrei Iancu, CSIS Renewing American Innovation Project’s Senior Advisor, discuss the USPTO’s recent release of guidance on patent inventorship when AI helps generate inventions so that our patent system continues to incentivize innovation.

Note: This newsletter builds on a recent opinion piece by Rama and Andrei in Context which was published on January 31, 2024.

Please join us on May 7-8, for the AI Expo for National Competitiveness, the first of its kind in Washington, D.C., in coordination with the second Ash Carter Exchange on Innovation and National Security.

With roots in our Constitution, patent rights provide an exclusive property right in new inventions like drugs, new ways to make things like energy, and synthetic materials. However, as artificial intelligence (AI) – and specifically generative AI – are increasingly integrated across all fields such as health, education, and science, uncertainty exists in what inventions can be protected by patent rights when AI is part of the invention creation process.

In our government, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is working on resolving this and related questions. On Tuesday, in response to President Biden’s Executive Order, the USPTO issued Inventorship Guidance for AI-assisted Inventions to stakeholders and personnel on how the USPTO will analyze inventorship issues as AI systems play an increasing role in the invention creation process, as well as seeking public comment on this guidance.

Here at SCSP, we also sought to answer this difficult question. We launched a Task Force on IP in the AI Era (IP Task Force) – in collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Renewing American Innovation Project (CSIS). Over the past year, the IP Task Force studied these patent inventorship issues through a series of workshops.

The Conceptualization of Irregular Warfare in the Indo-Pacific Region

Dr. Sandor Fabian and Gabrielle Kennedy

This report is the second in a series of volumes in which the Irregular Warfare Center (IWC) explores the commonalities and differences of the conceptualization of irregular warfare across U.S. allied and partner stakeholders in regions important for U.S. national security. This volume focuses on the Indo-Pacific region.

The Indo-Pacific region stretches from the U.S. Pacific coastline to the Indian Ocean. Home to more than half of the world’s population, nearly two-thirds of the world’s economy, and seven of the world’s largest militaries, the Indo-Pacific has long been recognized as vital to the security and prosperity of the United States. The region faces several challenges that have major implications for U.S. security and partnerships in the region. The Indo- Pacific governments are confronted with natural disasters, resource scarcity, internal conflicts, and governance challenges. Additionally, the People`s Republic of China (PRC) is combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological might to pursue a sphere of influence in the region while the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) continues to expand its illicit nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States (February 2022) clearly states that “the United States is committed to an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient. To realize that future, the United States will strengthen our own role while reinforcing the region itself. The essential feature of this approach is that it cannot be accomplished alone: changing strategic circumstances and historic challenges require unprecedented cooperation with those who share in this vision.”1

To contribute to the success of this vision, the IWC has compiled its second volume in a series of reports in which IWC strives to understand the commonalities and differences of the conceptualization of irregular warfare (IW) across U.S. allies and partners. Understanding and bridging the gaps between the conceptualization of IW on the part of the United States and its allies and partners is a key first step to future cooperation and greater resiliency in the face of inevitable irregular threats.