7 March 2024

My Experiment With MonetisingKnowledge

My Experiment With MonetisingKnowledge

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM(Retd)

"Only a fool learns from his own mistakes.

The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

- Otto Von Bismarck.

I have tried many things,especially after retirement. Most of the time, I failed. I want to share two of my experiences so that wise people can learn from the mistakes of fools like me.

Monetising Website.

I run a website strategicstudyindia.com

Joe Biden’s Ruinous War

Joe Buccino

In the days following Hamas's ghastly attack on Israel, President Biden dug into his political strengths as a vessel for empathy, comfort, and humanity. He announced unflinching support for the Jewish state. He publicly hugged controversial Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Weeks later, Biden promised to push tens of billions of dollars to Israel and to continue to do so for as long as the war in Gaza lasts, affirming his support to Israel.

Joe Biden comes alive in such moments. As a comforter of the afflicted, he is a man of great decency and dignity. It’s a shame he’s abandoned those principles as they relate to the suffering of the Palestinians.

After promising aid, Biden and his cabinet recommended Israel against a large ground assault into Gaza. The Biden team pushed for a more surgical, intel-driven approach to drive down the risk of civilian casualties while dismantling Hamas battalions and targeting its leaders. Netanyahu and his defense minister Yoav Gallant took the American money and proceeded with a massive ground offensive anyway.

In the months since, Israel has engaged in a ruinous bombing campaign in Gaza, indiscriminately killing tens of thousands of civilians. Macabre images and video of the carnage in the enclave revealed the size and scope of the death. Israeli forces eschew precision-guided bombs in favor of much less accurate and larger-diameter "dumb" bombs, causing significantly more devastation than necessary. Israel Defense Forces troops opened fire on a crowd of starving Gazans waiting for desperately needed food in a slaughter that killed more than 100 and injured hundreds. Through all the butchery, the Biden administration keeps the money flowing to Israel.

Last week saw perhaps the most duplicitous photo op of the war yet. U.S. Central Command's public affairs team released images of American troops airdropping 38,000 meals – enough to provide a single meal for fewer than three percent of the Gazan population – into southern Gaza. Those meals were dropped on a city turned into a dystopian hellscape by bombs provided by the United States – through weapons sales for which President Biden bypassed the U.S. Congress.

Revealed: Israel’s plan to hunt down Hamas killers


The first strike in Israel’s campaign to hunt down those responsible for the Oct. 7 attacks is likely to have already taken place.

On an early evening in January, a drone punched a gaping hole into a multistory building in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh. Firefighters and paramedics — arriving to the sounds of sirens and the cacophonous honking of car alarms — were confronted by a roadside strewn with scorched, severed limbs.

The first responders went about their grim task of removing the corpses (and gathering the scythed body parts) of seven men. They were attending a high-level meeting between top officials from the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Jama’a Islamiya, a Lebanese political faction that recently revived its armed wing to join the conflict with Israel.

Among the dead was Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chairman of the political bureau of Hamas and a co-founder of its armed wing. He was also Hamas’ top military commander for units based in the West Bank — and a man the Israeli government believes was a key planner of the Oct. 7 attack out of the Gaza Strip in which some 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage.

Israeli officials have not officially confirmed they were behind the strike. Nor have they denied it, and many of the remarks they have made since can be read as between-the-lines acknowledgments of a campaign to track down and eliminate those they hold responsible for the assault, in which some 2,000 attackers rampaged through southern Israel, attacking military bases, homes and a music festival.

“Our position is anyone in the Hamas command structure who was responsible for the Oct. 7 massacre will pay a price,” Mark Regev, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told reporters in Tel Aviv 10 days after the Beirut strike. “We will reach them, and justice will be done.”

India’s Firm Foreign Policy or Indian Firms’ Foreign Policy?

Krzysztof Iwanek

As per the original plan, the Hanimaadhoo airport in the Maldives should open this year. From the international perspective, the important aspect is that the infrastructure is coming up thanks to a loan offered by India in a country where New Delhi’s influence continues to clash with that of Beijing. But there is more to this factor – while the credit was sourced from a public Indian institution, Exim Bank, the company that is undertaking the project, JMC Projects, is a private firm from India.

In Sri Lanka, another small island nation in South Asia where New Delhi and Beijing are competing for influence, the West Container Terminal is being developed by the Adani Group. The group is one of the largest private Indian companies and an ally, so to speak, of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in New Delhi.

These two examples are part of a bigger trend; Indian private companies are playing an increasingly large role in New Delhi’s foreign policy. Another firm, GMR Group, is the only Indian company to manage airports outside Indian territories, in the Philippines and Indonesia; it is also taking part in developing an airport in Greece. These states cannot be considered the most important from the perspective of the Indian government’s foreign policy, and thus such undertakings most probably represent the company’s own initiatives – in the sense of picking an objective solely for profit, not to partially assist the government in achieving its political goals.

There are, however, recent cases of Indian firms stepping in where New Delhi needed them to (not necessarily where they would choose go on their own). Indian private companies were involved, among others, in projects in Afghanistan and were to do so also in Iran (as part of the Chabahar project). In both cases, the projects failed to yield concrete, long-term profits for India due to external factors – the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and U.S. sanctions on Iran – but had this not happened, private capital would have given New Delhi more elbow room in both countries.

The Himalayan Triangle: Bhutan’s Courtship With India and China

Passang Dorji

Following its fourth parliamentary elections and the swearing in of a new government in January, those watching Asia’s geopolitical dynamics would be wise to turn their eyes to Bhutan, a tiny kingdom uncomfortably squeezed between the giants of China and India. How is this small state with limited strategic space and even fewer options to marshal agency balancing the competing interests of its two nuclear-armed great power rival neighbors?

To date, Bhutan does not have official diplomatic relations with China, while it maintains a “special relationship” with India. But the triangular relationship is not as simple as it might appear.

Bhutan shares a dilemma with most small states: How to achieve a favorable strategic geopolitical balancing act. It is not easy, but Bhutan has defied the traditionally accepted foreign policy wisdom that in such situations, a country would either balance or bandwagon. Nor has Thimphu resorted to pitching China and India against one another – a common temptation for smaller states. This nuanced approach arguably should be credited for the comparatively stable triangular relations between Bhutan-China-India in the critical Himalayan sphere.

With a narrow margin of error in Bhutan’s foreign policy posturing toward its powerful neighbors, Thimphu’s efforts to ensure predictable ties with China and India – and between them – are linked to its very survival. Thus, the country’s foreign policy pathways are navigated within the broader systemic constraints that the competitive and confrontational China-India relations pose.

Central to Bhutan’s bilateral and multilateral engagements is the driving force of China-India relations. They are not only powerful nations, but immediate neighbors whose state behaviors bear great implications for smaller nations on their periphery.

Never Say Never: Learning Lessons from Afghanistan Reviews


In this study, we undertake a review of reviews: we look at the processes and content of the most substantive reviews on the international intervention in Afghanistan conducted by various countries and international organizations carried out to date, with a view to learning from how others have tried to learn. We look at processes (in terms of the format and organization of each review, including its independence, membership, mandate, access to information, and budget) and at content (in terms of its main findings and recommendations).

We have also sought to examine the implementation of lessons, looking – as far as possible – at whether the lessons identified have actually been learned. Finally, we ask whether we can learn together. If Afghanistan has been a massive joint international endeavor, are there signs that different actors have jointly learned from it?

One of the most fundamental lessons to emerge from the reviews we examined is the warning we have used as the title of this report: ​“Never say never,” as former US diplomat Laurel Miller quotes the 1983 James Bond film, is a stark counterpoint to the common reading that the era of massive intervention is over and that most of the challenges faced in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2021 are irrelevant for the future.

In Sri Lanka, the Political Opposition Remains as Fragmented as Ever

Uditha Devapriya and Rumeth Jayasinghe

Like a number of other South Asian countries, Sri Lanka will hold elections this year. Both the government and the opposition are busy preparing themselves for polls. Presidential elections are expected to take place in September or October, though timelines have not been announced yet. Some analysts believe general elections will follow a presidential election, while others believe they will precede it.

The island nation, which faced its worst-ever economic crisis in 2022, has managed to bring about some political and economic stability – though this stability remains fragile and superficial, if not deceptive.

The government, headed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, has seemingly managed to get things back in order. The country has imposed on itself several painful austerity measures, with assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and Asian Development Bank, in addition to support from other countries, including India.

Since 2022, Sri Lanka’s economy has seemingly fared well. The country managed to secure an agreement with the IMF on an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program in 2023. While the economy grew by 1.6 percent in the third quarter of 2023, inflation, which stood at 56 percent in December 2022, came down to 4.2 percent a year later.

However, while the situation has improved on some fronts, political uncertainty looms large over the island, as policy decisions have fueled polarization nearly everywhere. They have also ruptured conventional political divisions and patterns.

So far, Sri Lanka has made progress on restructuring around $11 billion of bilateral debt. It expects to come into an agreement with private creditors and bondholders, though the latter remain cautious if not wary.

The Future of Monarchies in Southeast Asia - Opinion

Pavin Chachavalpongpun

It is a conventional wisdom that monarchy has become an anomaly. In the case of Southeast Asia, this axiom is valid only up to a point. Despite the institutional upheavals, caused by colonialism and its dismantling, the region contains one ruling monarchy (Brunei), and three varieties of constitutional monarchy (Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand) of some political import. Whether the anomaly of monarchies surviving is due to the persistent and natural workings of traditional political values, or whether their existence, besides being partly fortuitous, is now manipulated by elites (even by monarchs themselves), in order to pre-empt the destructive or destabilising effects of modernisation – the very modernisation which seems to make the survival of the monarchy rather unpredictable. The purpose of this short article is not to treat the subject as an anomaly, but to provide some pointers to the survival of monarchies in Southeast Asia under the new political climate.

It is not just modernisation that has contested the political relevance of the monarchies, democratisation has posed a threat to their existence too. In the age of democratic consciousness, a question emerges: is monarchy compatible with democracy? So far, some monarchies have successfully entrenched their rule against the tide of democracy. Some are potentially becoming the target of annihilation. For example, the youth-led protests in Thailand in 2020 called for immediate royal reforms. Protesters risked violating the draconian lèse-majesté law which forbids critical discussions on the monarchy. This was the first time in the Thai history in which the monarchy has been made a public agenda. Talks on republicanism in Thailand have remained a taboo. Yet they are proliferating.

I argue that the future of monarchies in Southeast Asia depends on the combination of their personal and political capabilities and how they transpire as a non-threatening factor to democracy, at three levels: personal, national and international.

Map Shows US Military Projecting Power Around China

John Feng

The services of the U.S. armed forces have led or joined at least 20 multinational training events in the Western Pacific since January, many with the aim of maintaining readiness to face adversaries including North Korea and strategic rivals like China.

In the Indian and Pacific oceans—a combined theater of operations the Pentagon says will remain a priority for decades to come—American troops have been deployed for nearly 10 weeks in various bilateral, trilateral and multilateral exercises. This is according to public releases by the Hawaii-based U.S. Indo-Pacific Command or its regional constituents.

Last month, on the second anniversary of the Biden administration's Indo-Pacific strategy, the National Security Council said "historic progress" had been made to ensure the region remained favorable to the United States and American staying power in an age of great power competition.

Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing 2 fly in formation during a multi-large deck event on January 31 in the Philippine Sea. U.S. 

Advisers of President Joe Biden, who campaigned on a promise to reinvigorate existing alliances in the region, have touted successes including a growing trilateral defense partnership between the U.S., South Korea and Japan. This was once thought unlikely because of decades-long wartime grievances.

The U.S. Military Has a New Strategy to Fight China in a Taiwan War

Denny Roy

Summary: The U.S. is adopting asymmetric strategies to counter China's military expansion, particularly around Taiwan. Historically reliant on its manufacturing prowess and technological edge, the U.S. military now emphasizes missiles and drones to offset China's numerical superiority. Initiatives like the "Replicator" program and the revival of Cold War-era projects aim to enhance U.S. capabilities against a larger Chinese force. Despite rapid advancements, the sustainability of U.S. regional influence hinges on reviving its defense industrial base, as large stockpiles of advanced weaponry are essential for maintaining strategic parity. These developments underscore a strategic pivot, focusing on innovative solutions to counterbalance China's growing military threat.

China once relied on asymmetric warfare to compensate for its military disadvantages against the United States. Now, the reverse is happening, partially offsetting the Chinese military buildup that threatens Taiwan.

The U.S. is accustomed to enjoying industrial and technological superiority over its adversaries, including the ability to overwhelm an adversary with more significant numbers of military platforms such as warships, aircraft, and tanks. At the end of World War II, the United States accounted for half the world’s manufacturing capacity.

Until recently, the Chinese military was clearly and thoroughly inferior to the force the USA could bring to bear in a Pacific Rim conflict.

In 1996, for example, the US Navy boasted 12 aircraft carriers, 82 cruisers and destroyers, and 79 attack submarines. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy had 52 destroyers and frigates of mostly 1970s and 1980s vintage and 77 submarines that were obsolescent, noisy, and lacked sufficient trained crewmen. China’s air forces would have been unable to protect a Chinese fleet attempting an invasion of Taiwan. That year, the US Navy put the PLA Navy to shame by dispatching two aircraft carrier battle groups in response to PRC exercises intended to intimidate Taiwan.

China “Invasion Threat” Gives Sleepless Nights To Russia; Moscow Held Wargames For Six Years – Leaked Docs

Ritu Sharma

The documents are about the war games conducted by Russia from 2008 to 2014. These exercises considered how China is fomenting unrest in Russia by paying protestors and attacking its sparsely populated areas in the far east of the country.

Russian military documents leaked to the Financial Times quote wargames written by the Russian officers. The conflict simulations talked about the population in the eastern cities of Russia rising in violent protests and clashing with police. In the meantime, smugglers brought in arms across the borders to carry out attacks on police stations and military barracks.

And as tensions reach their tipping point, China increases its defense production and shores up its deployment along the border while accusing Russia of “genocide.”

These wargames were ongoing even as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Xi Jinping were professing their commitment to a “no limits” partnership.

The Russian government has cast aspersions on the veracity of the documents, and the Chinese ministry has re-iterated previously articulated thoughts about “eternal friendship and non-enmity.”

The Chinese foreign ministry said the “threat theory” has no place in ties between China and Russia.

Despite making the right noises and the Ukraine invasion leaving Russia with few choices in terms of friendly countries, the Chinese government has not failed to remember the territorial disputes between the two countries.

On February 14, 2023, the Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources published a new version of its world map – directing a return to using the Chinese names of eight cities and areas occupied by the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Yemen’s Houthis Blame UK And US For ‘Glitch’ In Red Sea Undersea Cables

The Houthi Transport Ministry in Yemen said on Saturday there had been a “glitch” in undersea communication cables in the Red Sea as a result of actions by U.S. and British naval vessels.

The actions “endangered the security and safety of the international communications and the flow of information,” the ministry said in a statement, reported by the Houthi-run Saba news agency, without giving details.

“Any glitch in these cables as a result of the militarization of the Red Sea by U.S. and British naval vessels represents a serious threat to the information security and economic and social stability for all countries of the world,” the statement read.

The Houthis, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, have launched exploding drones and missiles at commercial vessels since Nov. 19 as a protest against Israel’s military operations in Gaza.

The United States and Britain have carried out several strikes against Houthi targets in response.

Washington Cannot Justify Its Troop Presence in Syria | Opinion

Alexander Langlois

The United States is reportedly exploring options for a military withdrawal from Syria—something it should have done long ago. A withdrawal is necessary considering Washington's mission has been rudderless for years after defeating the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Amid ever-worsening global instability, the United States should limit its military footprint abroad, including a full withdrawal from Syria.

The inertia of U.S. foreign policy has blocked this decision. Like clockwork, numerous analysts and former officials condemned any withdrawal from Syria, resorting to the same tired arguments about the need to defeat ISIS. Washington's foreign policy establishment never fails to fearmonger while elevating so-called credibility and moral arguments for military adventurism abroad—with Syria constituting an excellent case study.

Hawkish arguments do not match facts on the ground. The Islamic State was territorially defeated in 2019 following the battle for Baghuz in northeast Syria. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), while expressing some concerns about the group's activities in recent years, regularly assesses that the terrorist group does not pose a threat to the United States.

The latest DoD report stated that "[ISIS] remained incapable of mounting large, complex attacks locally or externally." This hardly suggests U.S. forces should be on the ground fighting ISIS. Rather, the group lacks any serious capacity to threaten more than the occasional Syrian Army convoy or small village, just like most non-state armed actors.

To be sure, Syrian civilians deserve security and dignity, just as any other person. But this does not justify arguments in support of a U.S. military presence in Syria when considering alternative policy options and understanding Washington cannot fight every armed terror group around the world.

As such, it is possible to cede security operations against ISIS to other actors with a much higher degree of interest in operating in this space. The list of stakeholders is long.

It should not be lost on anyone that Iran, via its militias in Iraq, played a huge role in defeating ISIS and has a strong presence in Syria. Equally important are the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)—Washington's partner in Syria. Other regional actors with an interest in Syrian security can and should play a role, not limited to Turkey, Russia, Jordan, Iraq, and the Syrian government. Simply put, there is no reason previous competition should block shared interests when it comes to ensuring ISIS never again holds territory.

A U.S. soldier patrols an area in the town of Tal Hamis, southeast of the city of Qameshli in Syria's northeastern Hasakeh governorate, on Jan. 24, 2024.

Washington's foreign policy elite dismiss these alternatives. To be sure, it is incredibly unpalatable—especially in today's world of hyper-competition—to cede any ground along any front to Tehran, Moscow, or Damascus. These governments brutalize their populations and the people of other countries, with Iran and Russia openly backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's horrific annihilation of any political opposition during a 13-year-old war that has killed at least 500,000 people.

These issues could be addressed in a just world. But Syria is not an arena for positive or just policy outcomes—only the best-worst options. Assad won the war years ago and is being welcomed back into the regional diplomatic fold. He will likely rule until the warring parties reach a political solution. Until that time, Syria will remain rife with instability that is only worsened by the presence of multiple competing foreign armies, leaving U.S. troops increasingly exposed in the process.

Critical to Washington's Syria policy is the scope of its Syria mission, which has nothing to do with Assad and everything to do with ISIS. The United States is applying a 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) focused on Al-Qaeda to justify its military operations in Syria, arguing that ISIS grew out of the terror group that conducted the 9/11 attacks in 2001. This AUMF does not apply to the Syrian government or Iran.

Disregarding Assad or Iran, the legal justification for the U.S. military presence in Syria to fight ISIS is legally dubious. The Islamic State is not Al-Qaeda, even if many of the latter's members joined the former after the 2001 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. And the decimated ISIS of today is not the same threat it was when the group governed territory. Any effort to deter Iran—explicitly stated as a goal by U.S. officials—similarly fails to fall under this AUMF.

Even while some argue the U.S. Syria mission is a relatively low-cost, high-reward operation, the reality is murky. United States personnel regularly face attacks from Iran-backed militias in remote bases across Syria that are increasingly difficult to defend. The deaths of three U.S. soldiers in a similarly remote base on the Jordan-Syria border should not be lost on those willing to bargain U.S. lives for ill-defined and unending military operations. Worse, one unresolved conflict in a region abounding with instability is a net negative for that region, ultimately compounding complications for an overstretched and hyperactive U.S. policy.

Ultimately, removing U.S. troops from Syria is wise. Washington should expedite this process in collaboration with partners and foes sharing an interest in Syria's stability. In the end, even rivals like the United States and Russia can agree on the need to stifle the Islamic State. U.S. policymakers are obligated to consider creative solutions that meet U.S. interests—not create more forever wars.

Russia abandons Armata tank due to its high cost

Dylan Malyasov

The head of the Russian defense conglomerate Rostec, Sergey Chemezov, confirmed that the state-of-the-art Russian tank, the T-14 “Armata,” is not being deployed in the war in Ukraine, which the Kremlin has labeled a “special military operation.”

Chemezov attributed this decision to the tank’s exorbitant cost, indicating that the military is opting for the more economical T-90 tanks instead. He underscored the prohibitive expense of the Armata as a deterrent to its immediate deployment, stressing the need for funds to develop newer and more cost-effective tank models.

“In terms of its functionality, it certainly surpasses existing tanks, but it’s too expensive, so the army is unlikely to use it now. It’s easier for them to buy the same T-90s,” Chemezov said.

Despite this, Chemezov confirmed that the T-14 “Armata” remains part of the Russian Army’s arsenal.

The T-14 “Armata” has been the subject of much speculation since its unveiling, with Russian propaganda previously claiming its active participation in combat operations as early as 2023. However, no concrete evidence has surfaced to support these claims, casting doubts on the tank’s actual deployment in battle.

Developed as part of the Armata standardized platform, the T-14 tank was intended to be a significant advancement in Russian military technology. Despite initial plans to procure a large fleet of T-14s, delays and cost concerns have tempered its widespread adoption.

"Foreign Policy" is Fake!

George Bernard Shaw wrote “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.”

And, he who cannot teach, does “foreign policy” in Washington, DC.

You know who they are.

Tune into CNN or flip through the pages of Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs.

You’ll find the same names, carrying titles like “senior fellow” (both resident and nonresident) and “former assistant secretary” (of offices either obscure or opaque).

As the government grows, so does the circle of “foreign policy” experts.

Now, it does look like a lot of fun to be a “foreign policy” expert, sitting pretty on symposium stages in Munich and Halifax, wearing decorative socks and jaunty pocket squares, debating when China will invade Taiwan, how long it will take Mr. Putin to march on Poland, how soon until Iran launches that devastating nuclear attack.

No question is too big, no threat too remote for the “foreign policy” expert’s courageous imagination.

Sure beats the hell out of debating property tax hikes back home in Muncie.

“We must build a distributed posture in the Indo-Pacific,” they say.

“Mr. Putin is a dictator; ipso facto, he will march on Europe next.”

“We must reimagine regime change for a modern Iran.”

Notice a theme?

“Foreign policy” experts speak only in abstract, synthesizing thousands of years of history, decanting theories and probabilities in real-time, on-air, arriving at solutions so muddled and uncertain you wouldn’t dare repeat them to anyone beneath the rank of O-6—people who would have to be that “posture” in the Indo-Pacific, or dig fighting holes to defend against a “marching” dictator in Europe, or carry out yet another harebrained scheme against a dictator, benevolent or malevolent, in Iran or someplace else.

How will Russia’s war on Ukraine end?

Paul Dibb

As Russia’s war on Ukraine enters its third year, we need to ask how will this war end? I will examine first, how the military fight is changing and what the prospects are for winners and losers. Second, what are the possibilities for a ceasefire and negotiations aimed at an enduring peace? Third, what are the risks of this war extending further into neighbouring NATO countries? Fourth, if the aim of the US and its NATO allies is to ‘defeat’ Russia how will this be achieved against a country with 1,500 strategic nuclear warheads? And fifth what would a defeated Russia look like? A Weimar Germany? Or can we conceive of other outcomes under a new Russian leadership?

But before we examine these critically important questions, we need to remind ourselves of the reasons why President Putin alleges he went to war. In that context, we need to take notice of the words of CIA director William Burns: ‘One thing I have learned is that it is always a mistake to underestimate Putin’s fixation on controlling Ukraine and its choices. Without that control he believes it is impossible for Russia to be a great power.’

Putin repeatedly states that there is no such country as Ukraine and that Ukrainians and Russians are one people sharing the same historical and spiritual space, speaking the same language, and believing in the same Orthodox faith. Before he died in 2008, Alexander Solzhenitsyn proclaimed that Russia (Great Russians), Belarus (White Russians) and Ukraine (Little Russians) should be recreated as a unified Slavic country. After two years of vicious war, most Ukrainians are, if anything, even more determined to reject this Great Russian imperial view.

Putin claims that if Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, it will become a direct national security threat to Russia or, as one of his advisers Sergei Karaganov puts it, ‘a spearhead aimed at the heart of Russia’. America’s George Kennan called the expansion of NATO ‘the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era’. And the former British ambassador to Moscow from 1988 to 1992 and chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee from 1992 to 1993, Rodric Braithwaite, argues that Western negotiators gave Gorbachev ambiguous assurances that NATO did not intend to expand any further than a unified Germany. However, Braithwaite acknowledges that Gorbachev did not request, nor was he offered, anything in writing.

Major Munitions Transfers from North Korea to Russia

Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Victor Cha and Jennifer Jun

The Ukraine war has “become a battle of ammunition,” as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated last month as NATO signed an ammunition deal to help replenish Ukraine’s depleted stockpiles.1 Russia, on the other hand, has turned to North Korea and Iran. The transfer of North Korean munitions to Russia began last year, as confirmed by the White House on October 13, 2023. Last month, the White House further stated that a series of North Korean-produced missiles have been fired into Ukraine from Russia, and the South Korean Defense Minister estimated more than 2.5 million rounds of North Korean artillery shells have been supplied to Russia since August 2023.2 The White House also estimated that between September and late February, North Korea has shipped “more than 10,000 containers of munitions or munitions-related materials to North Korea.”3 The Ukrainian Prosecutor General has also accused Russia of firing at least 24 North Korean KN-23/24 series missiles in recent weeks.4 In return, North Korea is suspected of seeking a range of Russian military technologies.5

CSIS analysis of hundreds of commercially available satellite imagery since August, along with other open-source information, shows the continuing transfer of large quantities of munitions between North Korea and Russia. Notably, dark vessel movement between Najin (Rason/Rajin) in North Korea and Dunai (Dunay) and Vostochny Port in Russia continues to be observed, along with some changes in vessel activity between these locations since late December 2023.

Additionally, active development and expansion of existing infrastructure in Russia to store the munitions closer to the front lines of the war are observed at the Tikhoretsk Munitions Storage Facility, Mozdok Munitions Storage Facility, and Yegorlykskaya Airfield, which has been converted into a munitions storage facility.

Finally, analysis of satellite imagery was undertaken for both the North Korea-Russia Tumangang-Khasan rail crossing and Vladivostok International Airport to explore the potential use of these locations in ongoing or future transfer operations.

Germany’s Economic Reckoning

Sudha David-Wilp and Jacob Kirkegaard

When Russian forces invaded Ukraine two years ago, Germany braced for a painful reckoning. The German military was underfunded and unprepared to respond to a security threat on this scale. Roughly half of Germany’s coal and natural gas, plus a third of its oil, was imported from Russia—a dependence Moscow could weaponize if it chose. Berlin had enjoyed the savings that came from keeping its armed forces small and purchasing inexpensive Russian gas. But Germany could no longer afford to neglect its military capacity, nor could it allow its reliance on Russian energy to give the Kremlin the power to undermine the German economy and divide Europe.

Berlin has made progress on the military front. Just days after the Russian invasion, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a Zeitenwende, or turning point, to meet Germany’s new geopolitical challenges. The policy may not be perfectly executed—bureaucratic red tape and decision-making delays have slowed its implementation—but efforts to increase the German defense budget and modernize the country’s military are underway. With the help of a special allocation of 100 billion euros, Germany is on track to reach NATO’s defense spending target of two percent of GDP this year. Scholz has pledged to maintain this spending level over the long term, and his defense minister has suggested increasing the budget even further. Germany has come a long way from its paltry offer to send helmets to Ukraine at the start of the war—today, the country’s military assistance to Kyiv is second only to that of the United States.

When it comes to the German economy, however, recent trends are more concerning. The loss of cheap Russian gas has undermined Germany’s industrial model. Although the initial spike in energy prices after the 2022 invasion has abated, costs are not expected to return to prewar levels any time soon. In 2023, Germany’s economy shrank by 0.3 percent. Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck, warning of “rough waters” ahead, has projected that the country’s 2024 growth will reach a mere 0.2 percent. New pressures account for the recent contraction, but Germany’s economic problems run deeper. Over the last decade, Berlin has avoided making critical investments and reforms to attract skilled workers and adapt to a data-driven world. And Berlin has often insisted that what is good, restrained fiscal policy for Germany is also right for the EU—a prevailing mindset that, by limiting public investment in many member states, has prevented European economies from adapting to new conditions.

After Prigozhin: The Anatomy of Russia’s Evolving Private Military and Mercenary Industry

Sergey Sukhankin

Executive Summary:
  • The Russian mercenary industry has transformed since Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 with private military companies (PMCs) and other paramilitary formations taking on a more prominent role in Russia’s military operations.
  • PMCs and other mercenary groups have become key players in the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine and in projecting power abroad—most prominently in Africa.
  • Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner Group’s aborted mutiny created a power vacuum that is now being filled by PMCs subordinated to the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and other locally based formations.
  • Russia’s mercenary industry is comprised primarily of siloviki-affiliated groups and formations, so-called “governors’ armies,” as well as semi-private mercenary formations owned by oligarchs and state corporations.
  • The MoD has relied on various mercenary formations and PMCs at different times in Ukraine, blurring the lines between private groups and government-subordinated entities.
  • Except for Wagner, Russian PMCs have achieved marginal success in Ukraine and have upset some Kremlin officials.
  • The proliferation of these “private armies” and their participation in the war has turned the Russian Armed Forces into a “patchwork of loosely coordinated formations” rather than strengthening their overall performance and capabilities.
  • Moscow will likely continue to rely on these entities for as long as possible to avoid large-scale, coercive mobilization that could induce widespread protests and criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • The emergence of new PMCs and paramilitary formations will inevitably result in the further paramilitarization of Russian society and the general spread of violence.
  • The growth of these structures may soon threaten the Putin regime’s hold on power, especially if Russian forces continue to trade heavy losses for minimal gains on the Ukrainian battlefield.
  • The widespread “privatization of force” is causing the Kremlin to lose its monopoly over the use of force, which may trigger the Russian state’s eventual rupture.

Since the beginning of Moscow’s hybrid war against Ukraine in 2014, Russia’s mercenary industry has been regularly evolving. Virtually absent from public discussion until 2018, Russian paramilitary formations began to emerge from the shadows after their involvement in the Libyan Civil War and continued “adventures” in Sub-Saharan Africa (see “War by Other Means”). Analyzing the industry, however, remained taboo for many investigative journalists and experts due to the all-too-real security threats (see Terrorism Monitor, June 26, 2020; see EDM, January 20, 2021; May 12, 2021).

In 2022, that all changed when the notorious private military company (PMC), Wagner Group, and its curator, Yevgeny Prigozhin, emerged as rising stars in Russia’s military endeavors. For many Russians, they represented the zenith of wartime “patriotism.” The Kremlin allowed Prigozhin to recruit violent criminals from Russia’s prisons to boost Wagner’s manpower, and the Wagnerites soon became key assault units for offensive operations in Ukraine’s east. This significantly boosted Prigozhin’s confidence and led to an acute conflict with the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). The Wagner chief’s increasingly public criticism of the MoD’s failures in Ukraine culminated with his aborted mutiny in June 2023 (see EDM, August 18, 2022, July 11, 2023, July 24, 2023, August 3, 2023). In August 2023, Prigozhin died in a mysterious plane crash, with many considering his death as retribution for the rebellion. Prigozhin’s death was followed by a complete subordination of the Wagner Group to the Russian state.

Turkey: An Emerging Global Arms Exporter

Over the past decade, Turkey’s defence industry has undergone rapid development and its products have repeatedly proved their military capability. The Bayraktar-TB2 drone – a product of the Turkish manufacturer Baykar – is exported to numerous coun­tries. In Ukraine, it is being used extensively against the Russian army. In Nagorno-Karabakh, it turned out to be a game changer in favour of Azerbaijan in the conflict with Armenia. And it has left its mark on the battlefields of Syria as well as in northern Iraq and Libya. But the TB2 drone is only the most visible sign of what is a new era for Turkey’s defence policy. The innovation ecosystem that has emerged in the Turkish military-industrial complex is intended to position the country as a “tekno-nation”. For Turkey’s NATO partners, this recalibration presents strategic challenges for fur­ther cooperation with Ankara.

Turkey’s defence and security policy is in­creasingly characterized by the goal of achiev­ing autonomy. The country is striving to reduce its reliance on foreign partners in conceptual, technological and logistical terms as well as with regard to the manu­facture of military hardware; in other words, Ankara is focusing on local produc­tion capacity while curtailing procurement from abroad. In order to achieve this policy objective, companies operating in the de­fence sector are being institutionally inter­connected, local supply chain networks are expanding and relevant research capabilities are subject to coordination from the centre.

Armament projects such as the develop­ment of the unmanned TB2 drone system, the Atak helicopter, the Altay tank, the Anka-3 stealth drone and the KAAN stealth fighter jet all demonstrate that decision-makers in Ankara are pursuing three stra­tegic defence and security priorities. The first such priority is to become increasingly independent of international providers. The second is to systematically promote and fi­nancially support technological innovation through cooperation with “teknoparks”, start-ups and universities. And the third priority is to steadily increase Turkey’s capacity to export various weapons systems. As the share of local manufacturing in domestic production increases, the number of export restrictions decline.

Turkey’s current armament policy is based on the main objective of developing and producing weapons systems under the trademark “Made in Turkey”. However, such marketing slogans cannot disguise the discrepancies between the political and strategic decisions taken in Ankara and the execution capacity of companies involved in Turkey’s military-industrial complex.

Georgia’s Largest County Is Still Repairing Damage From January Cyberattac

Georgia’s largest county is still repairing damage inflicted on its government a month ago by hackers who shut down office phone lines, left clerks unable to issue vehicle registrations or marriage licenses and threatened to publicly release sensitive data they claimed to have stolen unless officials paid ransom.

The ransomware syndicate LockBit took credit for the cyberattack in late January that temporarily crippled government services in Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta. The group demanded payment, threatening to dump data online, including residents’ personal information. It also claimed to have stolen records related to the county’s pending criminal case against former President Donald Trump.

To boost the odds of getting paid, ransomware groups routinely steal data before activating network-encrypting malware. Some cybersecurity analysts questioned whether the Fulton County hackers actually possessed Trump-related files.

The hackers’ deadline passed Thursday, less than two weeks after law enforcement agencies in Europe and the U.S. announced they had disrupted LockBit’s operations, seized the group’s systems and arrested two people overseas.

Soon after the takedown, LockBit resurfaced on the dark web and renewed its threat against Fulton County. But no stolen data was released after the deadline lapsed, and county officials refused to pay.

“We are not aware of any data having been released today so far,” Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts told reporters Thursday afternoon. “That does not mean the threat is over by any means. And they could release whatever data they have at any time — today, tomorrow or sometime in the future.”

Pitts said county officials are still working to restore phone service and online systems still down more than a month later, though all county offices have reopened and resumed serving residents to at least some degree.




As Russian tanks began rolling into Ukraine and bombs fell across the country in February 2022, Europe bore witness to the largest conflict on European soil since World War II. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine wasn’t limited to physical operations; it also marked the start of the first all-out cyber war. It is important for the West to quickly study the lessons learned so far from this cyber war between Russia and Ukraine. Additionally, it is crucial to help the Ukrainians expand their capabilities on the cyber front, just as military assistance is needed on the physical battlefield. By applying these lessons, the UK and the West can strengthen their cyber defences and better prepare allies, such as Taiwan, for future cyber conflicts.

As the world became digitised and the Kremlin grew in its revisionist ambitions, Russia began using cyberattacks as a new tool to achieve its political aims. Starting in Estonia in 2007 to punish the country for what it deemed anti-Russia behaviour, Russia then waged cyberattacks against Georgia to accompany its physical attack on the country. It used Ukraine as a testing ground for cyber weapons before ultimately beginning the first all-out cyber war against Ukraine in February 2022. While Ukraine survived many of the most devastating attacks on critical infrastructure, the cyber war between Israel and Iran has also shown the extremes that these attacks can go to, such as the attack on Iran’s nuclear power plant.

While a successful coalition of Western governments and tech companies has played a vital role in keeping Ukraine's cyber defences resilient, much like on the physical battlefield, without offensive support, Ukraine is limited in its ability to match and overwhelm Russian cyberattacks. At the start of the invasion, Russia attempted to knock out vital communication systems for the Ukrainian military with an attack on Viasat satellites, marking its most damaging attack of the war so far on Ukraine’s telecom provider, Kyivstar. The intensity of the Russian cyberattacks is growing as the war drags on, and Ukraine should be armed to degrade Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities. Destroying the enemy’s ability to wage war is a key principle in warfare, whether conventional or cyber.

What Is OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus? Here’s What You Should Know


WHEN I LOGGED into OpenAI’s website last year to continue testing the new version of ChatGPT powered by GPT-4, the chatbot didn’t try to sabotage my relationship, write my emails, or unleash my creativity—it simply didn’t work. Demand was high that day, and the company was experiencing occasional outages. Greg Brockman, an OpenAI cofounder and president, was upfront about the model’s imperfection in a livestream around the same time. He also reminded listeners that they were not without blemishes themselves.

Generative AI remains a focal point for many Silicon Valley developers after OpenAI’s transformational release of ChatGPT in 2022. The chatbot uses extensive data scraped from the internet and elsewhere to produce predictive responses to human prompts. It was previously powered by the GPT-3.5 language model. While that version remains online, an algorithm called GPT-4 is also available with a $20 monthly subscription to ChatGPT Plus.

If you’re considering that subscription, here’s what you should know before signing up, with examples of how outputs from the two chatbots differ.

What Does Your Subscription Include?

The core service you pay for with ChatGPT Plus is access to GPT-4. You’re not buying an unlimited number of prompts, though. Subscribers are currently limited to inputting 40 prompts to GPT-4 every three hours. After hitting the prompt limit, users can always switch to the GPT-3.5 version. (In addition, you can experiment with a free version of GPT-4 by signing up for Microsoft’s Copilot chatbot.)

A ChatGPT Plus subscription also unlocks OpenAI’s newest software features. For example, Dall-E 3 is available inside the bot to generate images for you via text prompts. Subscribers can also use ChatGPT’s Bing integration to browse the web in real time for information that may be relevant to their prompts.

From Crossbows to Nuclear Weapons: Arms Control in an Imperfect World

John Erath

Around 1096, the Pope issued a decree banning crossbows as murderous and un-Christian weapons. Although a later Pope clarified that it was still allowable to kill heathens with crossbows, all Christian nations were supposed to refrain from the use of such devices in warfare or suffer eternal damnation. Unsurprisingly, the Pope’s attempt at medieval arms control failed, and Swiss action hero William Tell became a legend. In 12th century Europe, the primary threat to security came from armored warriors, and a crossbow could penetrate the armor of the time. If one wanted to secure one’s castle from being stormed by armored enemies, a few crossbows on the walls would have been an effective deterrent.

Almost one thousand years later, we are still trying arms control by the equivalent of banning crossbows. The Ottawa Convention banned antipersonnel landmines, yet over a million of the things have been sown in Ukraine, with more planted each day. It will come as cold comfort to Syrian villagers or Russian dissidents that the Chemical Weapons Convention made asphyxiating gas and Novichok illegal. There have even been well-meaning attempts to ban nuclear weapons on humanitarian grounds, yet there remain over 12,000 of the world’s most destructive weapons in the hands of nine countries. Just as with the crossbow ban, these efforts at arms control have been ineffective because they do not address the insecurities that have driven the acquisition of murderous weapons. Undoubtedly, there were some medieval Europeans who heeded the Pope and eschewed their crossbows, gaining the knowledge that their place in heaven was secure, but they were likely not those living in castles threatened by well-armed enemies. Similarly, of the dozens of nations which have achieved the diplomatic equivalent of paradise by agreeing to ban nuclear weapons, none are among those that felt compelled to acquire this dangerous technology in the first place.