21 May 2024

India And Russia In Central Asia: Opening The Doors Of Perception – Analysis

Ivan Shchedrov

Political pundits while analysing India’s foreign policy tend to examine its implementation in the Indo-Pacific region, where after the economic liberalization, the traditional cultural sphere of influence has been supplemented with economic imperatives. However, the keen interest in the Indo-Pacific maritime spaces may lead to a state of myopia, since other regions of the “extended neighbourhood” may often be overlooked.

One of them is Central Asia, which is of strategic importance for India’s security. In recent years, we witnessed an augmented political engagement in Central Asia’s political process by India, driven by the withdrawal of the American troops from Afghanistan in 2021. The increased interest is evidenced by the India-Central Asia Dialogue and the recently conducted First India-Central Asia Summit in 2022. The second meeting is anticipated to be held this year.

The intertwined political structure

In 1995, an Indian-born Professor at Columbia University, Jagdish Bhagwati, coined the term “spaghetti bowl” while depicting the framework of US preferential trading arrangements. It means interweaving and complexity of economic preferences between its trade partners.

Why Nepal Escalated Its Map Dispute With India

Rishi Gupta

On May 12, the economic adviser to the president of Nepal, Chiranjivi Nepal, resigned following his criticism of the government’s decision to print a contentious map showing disputed territories with India on new hundred-rupee notes. The government deemed his remarks damaging to the national interest, which led to his resignation.

The map issue has reignited the territorial disputes with India.

In 2020, the government of Nepal introduced a new map delineating areas contested with India – Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura – as its own, despite the ongoing talks through established diplomatic channels. Kathmandu was apparently responding to India’s construction of a new road in the disputed region. Nepal’s Parliament unanimously formalized the government’s new map through a constitutional amendment in June 2020.

The present ruling left-alliance government in Nepal – led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda, of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Center – has projected the printing of the controversial map as a nationalistic move asserting the country’s territorial sovereignty and integrity. But that’s not the only reason behind the inclusion of the map on Nepali currency.

Japan, Philippines Finalize Largest Maritime Security Pact Days After Chinese CG, Militia Aggression In SCS

Ritu Sharma

Under the project, Tokyo will fund the construction of five large patrol ships for the Philippines Coast Guard. Manila’s resistance to China’s belligerence in the South China Sea has become the face of the world’s open Indo-Pacific policy.

Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Enzo Kazuya exchanged notes on the third phase of the Maritime Safety Capacity Improvement Project (MSCIP) during a ceremony today in Manila.

The Philippine government approved the project in 2023 to augment the capability of the Philippine Coast Guard to “respond to threats and incidents within the country’s maritime jurisdiction” with a focus on securing “important sea lines of communication in the West Philippine Sea, Sulu-Celebes Seas, and the Philippine Sea” according to a National Economic and Development Authority release.

Yes, Japan Will Defend Taiwan

Ryan C. Bercaw

Japan officially maintains a policy of strategic ambiguity toward the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty. Taiwan’s security, however, is an unambiguous and essential interest in Tokyo. Should Beijing decide to unify Taiwan by force, Japan’s strategic interest, deep affinity for the Taiwanese, and security alliance with the United States will compel Tokyo to defend its southern neighbor. For Japan, peace in the Taiwan Strait is a matter of national survival.

Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has undergone a rearmament on a scale unseen elsewhere in the 21st century. Beijing is accelerating its military development to have the capabilities required to forcefully unify Taiwan by 2027. While 2027 is hardly a set date for invasion, it does point to the sense of urgency Beijing has toward wielding credible options to resolve the so-called Taiwan issue.

Japan is cognizant of these developments and explicitly affirmed Taiwan’s central importance to Japanese security in three national-level strategic documents released in recent years.

‘China’s is the hand behind Hamas attack on Israel’

Joyeeta Basu

Massive quantities of Chinese arms, ammunition, military grade communication and other intelligence gathering equipment were found in Hamas warehouses in Gaza during the raids conducted by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in the aftermath of the 7 October 2023 attack on Israel by the Palestinian terrorist group. At least two tunnel engineers from China’s People’s Liberation Army were captured by the IDF, suggesting that extensive Chinese help was given to Hamas to construct the huge network of tunnels under Gaza city. Apart from this, PLA has been giving military training to the Hamas. In fact, the head of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, who masterminded the attack on Israel, lived in the PRC for years, and maintains deep contacts with the PLA and CCP. Allegedly, he even has two Chinese Muslim wives. This was disclosed by Guermantes “G-Man” Lailari, a retired US Air Force Foreign Area officer specializing in counterterrorism, irregular warfare and missile defence. Lailari says that it is time nations held PRC to account for the support it offers to various terrorist groups, including Hamas.

People’s Republic of China’s connection with the 7 October 2023 attack on Israel by the Hamas has been a matter of speculation. Lailari alleges that in spite of Chinese denials of any involvement with Hamas’ attacks, there is enough evidence to take China to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for its support to terrorism. He says that it is not Iran, but PRC that is the hidden hand that green-signalled Hamas’ attack on Israel, the evidence of which goes beyond the circumstantial.

How Resilient Is China’s ‘World’s Factory’ To Supply Chain Shifts? – Analysis

Marina Yue Zhang

The Yiwu International Trade Market in Zhejiang, China, is a sprawling 4 million square metre housing complex over 75,000 shops. As the 2024 Paris Olympics approach, it has been a hive of international trade, with merchants rushing to fulfil Olympic-related orders.

The market is currently abuzz with French-themed products catering to the Olympic fever. Yiwu’s exports to France soared by 42 per cent in the first two months of 2024 compared to the previous year, reaching nearly 75 million euros. Sports goods exports surged by 70 per cent. This reflects China’s robust manufacturing capabilities and pivotal role in global supply chains.

Most products traded in Yiwu’s market belong to labour-intensive light industries, such as textiles and consumer goods manufacturing. In 2023, these products accounted for over 40 per cent of Yiwu’s export value and 52 per cent of its export growth. Despite global supply chains shifting towards countries like Vietnam, the share of labour-intensive goods in China’s total exports has only slightly decreased, from 18 per cent in late 2017 to17 per cent in 2023.

China an ‘epoch-defining challenge,’ new UK spy boss warns


Britain’s top cyber spy warned that China represents an “epoch-defining challenge” and accused it of seeking to undermine international norms in her first major speech on Tuesday.

Anne Keast-Butler, director of U.K. signals intelligence agency GCHQ, said responding to China was the spy agency’s “top priority.”

The country has been blamed for a string of cyberattacks on British institutions, including the Electoral Commission, elected politicians and its armed forces.

“Russia and Iran pose immediate threats. But China is the epoch-defining challenge,” Keast-Butler said.

China’s purported ‘drone carrier’ could be used for testing, shows PLA ‘learning’ mindset: Analysts


China has produced what experts say could be a small carrier dedicated to drones at the shipyard of Jiangsu Dayang Marine, a development that, if confirmed, would demonstrate what one PRC military analyst called the Chinese military’s “real ability to be flexible and innovative.”

The ship was revealed this week in a report by Naval News based on analysis by John Michael Dahm, a senior fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and a former US Navy intelligence officer. It is a catamaran, hardly a conventional choice for any kind of aircraft carrier, and Dahm conceded in an email to Breaking Defense that until the ship “is complete and operational, we probably won’t know its true purpose.”

But he also said that if it is a drone carrier — as his analysis concludes — the vessel “will allow the PLA Navy Blue Force to launch and recover fixed-wing drones at sea instead of the helicopter drones we’ve seen launched from ships thus far. The ship may contribute to test and evaluation of fixed-wing drone operations. This may support the eventual integration of drones onboard China’s new Type 075 Yushen-class amphibious assault ship.”

China's 5 Biggest Military Advantages

Michael Muir

In March 1999, Admiral Dennis C. Blair testified before Congress that China was not a serious threat to the United States. He claimed that it would be “several years” before the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could mount a serious challenge to the United States military.

A lot can happen in a quarter century and it’s clear that the Chinese military has made some considerable strides forward in recent years. In an address to the National Congress in 2017, Xi Jinping outlined his vision for a new era of Chinese strength. Among his policy goals was to develop a world-class military by 2035. This article will look at where the PLA has made the most progress and assess five of China’s key military advantages.

Without firing a shot: China focuses on non-military ways to take Taiwan, reports warn

Bill Gertz

China is engaged in information warfare across multiple sectors of Taiwan and plans a takeover of the self-ruled island through political coercion and cyber spying influence operations, with military force a key option, according to two new think tank reports.

China’s military is playing a central role behind aggressive activities that seek what Chinese President Xi Jinping has called the “complete reunification” of Taiwan as a historic mission the Chinese Communist Party, states a report by analysts from the intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. The report warns that a Chinese takeover of Taiwan either through cyber and influence operation or full-scale military action poses an “unacceptable risk” to global security.

GCHQ boss says China's 'genuine' cyber threat 'weakens security of internet for all'

Mickey Carroll

GCHQ now "devotes more resource to China than any other single mission," according to the intelligence agency's director, Anne Keast-Butler.

China poses an "epoch-defining challenge" to the UK, she said at CyberUK, the National Cyber Security Centre's conference in Birmingham.

Last week, Sky News discovered China had hacked the Ministry of Defence's payroll system and in March, Chinese hackers were accused of stealing data about UK voters from the Electoral Commission.

After news about last week's attack, China's foreign ministry said it "firmly opposes and fights all forms of cyber attacks" and "rejects the use of this issue politically to smear other countries".

However, the UK's cyber security leaders are clear.

Saudi Arabia Leads Offers To Help Iran After Crash Of Helicopter Carrying President Raisi

Saudi Arabia expressed its support for Iran and said it was ready to provide any assistance required after a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashed on Sunday.

The Foreign Ministry said the Kingdom was following reports about the crash with “great concern.”

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government said in a statement it had instructed its interior ministry, the Red Crescent and other relevant bodies to offer help to neighboring Iran in the search mission.

Iranian search and rescue teams were scouring a fog-shrouded mountainside after the helicopter carrying the president and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian went missing in an “accident” on Sunday, state media said.

Fears grew for Raisi after contact was lost with the helicopter carrying him in East Azerbaijan province, reports said.

Raisi was visiting the province where he inaugurated a dam project together with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, on the border between the two countries.

Ebrahim Raisi, The Hard-Line Iranian President Tipped As Next Supreme Leader – Analysis

Kian Sharifi

Ebrahim Raisi, the ultraconservative Iranian president, is widely tipped to become the country’s next supreme leader.

Raisi, a longtime protege of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a former judicial chief who also allegedly played a role in one of the darkest chapters of the Islamic republic.

On May 19, a helicopter carrying Raisi crashed in Iran’s mountainous northwest on its way back from a visit to the border with Azerbaijan. His fate was not immediately clear.

As president, the hard-line cleric has overseen the brutal suppression of the unprecedented monthslong antiestablishment protests that erupted in 2022 and the tightening of the country’s morality laws.

Hundreds were killed and thousands arrested as government forces crushed the demonstrations, one of the biggest challenges to the country’s clerical rulers in decades. Raisi defended the bloody crackdown and accused foreign powers and opposition groups of instigating the unrest.

Ukraine Struggles To Hold Eastern Front As Russians Advance On Cities

Even if Ukrainian forces can hold out until all the American ammunition and weapons get through to the front, the challenge ahead remains daunting, according to many of those fighting.

For Ukrainian gun commander Oleksandr Kozachenko, the long-awaited US ammunition can’t come fast enough as he and his comrades struggle to hold off relentless Russian attacks.

His unit’s US-supplied M777 howitzer, which once hurled 100 shells a day at the encroaching enemy, is now often reduced to fewer than 10.

“It’s a luxury if we can fire 30 shells.”

America says it’s rushing ammunition and weapons to Ukraine following the delayed approval of a $61 billion aid package by Congress last month. As of early May, though, two artillery units visited by Reuters on the eastern frontline said they were still waiting for a boost in deliveries and operating at a fraction of the rate they need to hold back the Russians.

The Dangers of an Ungovernable Gaza

Dana Stroul

In early April, in the seventh month of Israel’s campaign to dismantle Hamas, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) withdrew the majority of its ground troops from the Gaza Strip, leaving just one brigade in the central part. This included pulling Israeli forces out of Khan Younis, the sprawling area in southern Gaza below which U.S. intelligence officials believe Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is hiding in an extensive tunnel network. In explaining the decision to pull these soldiers out, Israeli officials pointed to their military campaign’s success in destroying 18 of Hamas’s 24 battalions. Israeli forces needed time to rest before returning to Rafah in the southernmost part of Gaza to dismantle the four Hamas battalions based there. For several weeks, daily life in Gaza was not dominated by continuous airstrikes and ground forces’ maneuvering. But neither humanitarian groups nor civilians knew where to look for basic security, for no one is running Gaza.

That is why some UN officials now refer to Gaza as “Mogadishu on the Mediterranean.” In some areas, remnants of Hamas-run ministries are providing services or diverting humanitarian aid, while in others criminal networks loot and then distribute it. Elsewhere, communities and humanitarian groups are contracting with armed groups other than Hamas to provide security. Gaza is an ungoverned space with parallel and competing authority structures taking root. The conditions for long-term instability have already emerged.

Time To Deploy Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons at Sea

Joe Varner

The U.S. needs to break out of its post-Cold War posture and move to a warfighting doctrine with forward deployed theatre level or tactical nuclear weapons on warships to deter China and others.

The last decade has seen China threaten its Indo-Pacific neighbors with violence and claims on their territory including U.S. allies South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Many expect China to try and seize Taiwan by force of arms by 2027. Taiwan’s offshore front-line positions near the Chinese coast and the Pratas are under constant threat of attack and seizure. Beijing routinely pushes Japan on the Senkaku Islands and now has started with so-called ancient claims on Okinawa. The last few years have seen China force its way into the Philippines exclusive economic zone to try and seize territories it claims like Thitu inhabited by Philippine citizens.

Recent articles and reporting have focused on the threat posed to the U.S. and its allies by China and its growing military power. We have witnessed the more than doubling of China’s nuclear warheads, its large and diverse missile force, growth of the Chinese navy to 355 warships, and Beijing’s program to catch up to the U.S. on quality and quantity of fighter aircraft. The U.S. is concerned on several levels by the challenge posed by Chinese military forces in the Indo-Pacific, particularly their dual-capable cruise, ballistic and hypersonic missile forces, and Beijing’s more self-interested and aggressive intentions. .

Which Makes Better Soldiers: DEI or Assimilation?

Maj. Gen. Joe Arbuckle (USA, Ret.)

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is divisive, as it emphasizes differences based on race, ethnicity, biological sex, gender identities, etc., which is opposed to the time-tested, traditional military culture emphasizing unity, teamwork, selflessness, sacrifice, and assimilation into the warrior ethos.

May 1969, a commercial bus full of sleepy recruits stopped during darkness at Fort Ord, CA. Two Drill Instructors (DIs) jumped on the bus and started screaming, “get off my bus, you dirtbags, and line up outside.” A diverse assortment of now wide-awake young men lined up in four rows and then shuffled/marched to sterile appearing billets with a platoon of 50 recruits in each open bay, gray double-decker bunks with sheets and a wool blanket on both sides of an aisle running down the middle of the bay. They were awake until 0200 scrubbing the billet floors and latrine; up at 0530 the next day.

The next day they marched with DIs yelling commands, to the long quartermaster warehouse to be issued clothing and gear. But, first a stop at the barber building with a line of barbers ready to buzz hair off which they did quickly leaving about 1/4 inch on the top and almost none elsewhere.

Russia May Push Buffer Zone Into NATO Nation: Putin Ally

Rachel Dobkin

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia and ally of President Vladimir Putin, spoke of potentially creating a "sanitary zone" either on the border with or inside Poland.

On Friday, Ukraine hit fuel depots, oil facilities and a power station in southwestern Russia and Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula that Moscow has occupied since 2014. The Russian Defense Ministry said via Telegram on Friday that Moscow intercepted more than 100 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on Thursday night. The day before, Ukraine fired missiles that hit an airfield in Crimea. The drone strikes came after Russian forces advanced into northeastern Ukraine last week.

Medvedev, a former Russian president and prime minister, wrote in a Telegram post translated into English on Friday: "This is not the first time that President Putin has said that for a quiet life, our country will have to create a sanitary zone, within which the neo-Nazi regime will not be able to hit targets on the territory of Russia [including, of course, all the lands that have returned to our state]."

Army soldiers not impressed with Strykers outfitted with 50-kilowatt lasers, service official says


Earlier this year the US Army sent four Stryker-mounted 50-kilowatt laser prototypes to the Middle East for soldiers to test out against aerial threats. Initial feedback is rolling in and it’s not overwhelmingly positive, according to Army acquisition head Doug Bush.

“What we’re finding is where the challenges are with directed energy at different power levels,” Bush told members of the Senate Appropriations airland subcommittee on Wednesday. “That [50-kilowatt] power level is proving challenging to incorporate into a vehicle that has to move around constantly — the heat dissipation, the amount of electronics, kind of the wear and tear of a vehicle in a tactical environment versus a fixed site.”

Dubbed the Directed Energy Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD), the service tasked Kord Technologies with integrating a 50-kilowatt class RTX laser onto a Stryker to down class one to three aerial drones and incoming rockets, artillery and mortars. In total, four prototypes were produced, and Breaking Defense first reported that all four were sent to the US Central Command (CENTCOM) region in February.

Israel’s wartime government frays as frustration with Netanyahu grows.

Aaron Boxerman and Ephrat Livni

Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Israel’s war cabinet, said on Saturday that he would soon leave the country’s emergency wartime government unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu worked to immediately answer major questions about the future of Israel’s war.

“If you choose the path of zealots, dragging the country into the abyss, we will be forced to leave the government,” Mr. Gantz said in a televised news conference. “We will turn to the people and build a government that will earn the people’s trust.”

Mr. Gantz, who leads the National Unity party, said he would give Mr. Netanyahu until Jun. 8 — about three weeks — to reach an agreement in Israel’s war cabinet on a six-point plan to bring back the hostages, address the future governance of Gaza, return displaced Israelis to their homes and advance normalization with Saudi Arabia, among other issues.

Russians Poured Over Ukraine’s Border. There Was Little to Stop Them

Michael Schwirtz, Jeffrey Gettleman, Maria Varenikova and Constant Méheut

Russian troops punched across Ukraine’s northern border with such speed and force last week that Ukraine’s meager fortifications offered almost no obstacle. Some Ukrainian soldiers, caught totally by surprise, fell back from their positions, and villages that had been liberated nearly two years earlier suddenly came under relentless shelling, forcing hundreds to flee in scenes reminiscent of the early days of the war.

“They are erasing streets,” said Tetiana Novikova, 55, a retired factory worker who said she barely escaped with her life on Friday when her village of Vovchansk came under withering fire from Russian forces. As she fled the village where she had spent her whole life, she said, not a single Ukrainian soldier was in sight.

The stunning incursion into the Kharkiv Region lays bare the challenges facing Ukraine’s weary and thinly stretched forces as Russia ramps up its summer offensive. The Russian troops pouring over the border enjoyed a huge advantage in artillery shells and employed air power, including fighter jets and heavy glide bombs, to disastrous effect, unhindered by depleted Ukrainian air defenses.

The Marine Unit Charged With Digitally Connecting Everything Over The Battlefield


The organizational structure of the United States Marine Corps' Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VMX-1) has mostly stayed the same since its creation in 2016. However, one big change came in 2020 with the creation of the Tactics and Integration Department (T&I). The birth of the department was the direct result of the planning guidance put forward by former Marine Commandant Berger, known as ‘Force Design 2030.’

To make Force Design 2030 happen, VMX-1 needed to make sure all Marine assets could communicate and fight together. The squadron was participating in several warfighting venues and ventures of future capability, but there was an assumption in the Marine Corps that everything was communicating on a level that was not necessarily true of reality. Former VMX-1 Commanding Officer Byron ‘Shrek’ Sullivan created the new department to absorb that integration mission and try to make those critical data connections where they did not already exist.

Weathering the Crisis

Michael Rubin & Akhil Ramesh

For the US-India bilateral relationship, the first four months of 2024 was a repeat of the quarters of the last three years. Differences in attitudes toward Cold-War era partnerships surfaced and upset the calm in bilateral relations. Still, there were significant strides in the economic and trade front. The dispute over the killing in Canada of a Khalistan separatist designated a terrorist by India marred the security partnership. Still, Washington continued diplomatically to support India vis-à-vis China’s provocations such as bestowing Chinese names on Indian towns. Visits by top American military brass underscored the growing security cooperation between the two democracies. The nature of electoral democracy, though, created some diplomatic tension. While heated rhetoric and polemical campaign statements in India provided fodder for the Western press to question the supposed “values-based” partnership with India, President Joe Biden’s suggestion that Japan and India were as xenophobic and anti-immigrant as Russia and China angered many in India.

These episodes were minor squalls compared to the hurricanes the bilateral relationship has endured over the last 50 or 60 years. While elections and security divergences made headlines, the relationship continued to build on pillars of trade and technology cooperation.

This November, your data privacy will be on the ballot, too


This fall, voters will be contemplating a risky decision — and I’m not referring to the presidential candidates. I am talking about the real issue this election season: protecting voter data privacy.

With the Cambridge Analytica scandal still in recent memory, voters are concerned about the security of their personal information online. Ahead of this year’s election, which is happening in tandem with the rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI), voters must be aware that there are heightened risks to the security of their personal information. There are also steps that businesses can and should take to ensure they are protecting customer data from bad actors.

During election seasons of years past, inboxes got fuller, campaign cold-calls ticked up and mass texts exploded. We all know this to be true. It’s an age-old challenge that dates back to before the AI boom.

Just think back to the November 2022 primary season. The Federal Election Commission approved a request from Google that allowed political senders to bypass spam filters on their way to Gmail inboxes. Essentially, a candidate, party, or political action committee could apply for the pilot program and, as long as its emails didn’t contain content prohibited by Gmail’s terms of service (phishing, malware, illegal content), they were accepted into the program.

Boom! A brief history of the 84mm Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle


The SAAB Carl-Gustaf 84mm recoilless rifle is generally referred to as the “Gus” (pronounced ‘goose’) or just the “Gustaf” by most soldiers and Marines, who have employed the powerful weapon during countless military operations over the past two decades. To this day, it remains the prime anti-tank weapon for special operations units.

“In a standard war with an enemy that’s actually using light armor to heavy armored vehicles, that’s where the Gustaf will shine,” said Wayne Capacillo, a former Army Ranger with four combat deployments while assigned to 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

He’s spent countless hours training on the Gustaf and training others how to use it. “It is very, very capable, and for the size of it and the number of rounds that you can get downrange and the type of missions that you can complete with it — it’s very, very versatile.”