Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

16 August 2022

Tracking the Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis (Updated August 12)

As U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan on August 2-3, China responded with forceful and coercive military, economic, and diplomatic measures. Developments are still unfolding, but the large-scale and unprecedented military exercises taken by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) far exceed the operations China engaged in during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis that took place in 1995-1996. Chinese escalation has precipitated the Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis, leading to international calls for China to immediately halt its military activities.

This page tracks and analyzes key developments as they occur and will be updated regularly. Click the links below to jump to a specific section of the page:Timeline of Key Chinese Military 

Timeline of Key Chinese Military Activities

Prior to Speaker Pelosi’s Arrival

In the leadup to Speaker Pelosi’s travel to Taiwan on August 2, the PLA took a series of actions to demonstrate its resolve and willingness to escalate, with the hope of deterring Speaker Pelosi from setting foot on the island and backing up China’s increasingly stern public warnings with action. This included military drills and operations across multiple theater commands, including to the north, west, east, and south of Taiwan.On July 28, China began testing Taiwan’s defenses by sending unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over Taiwan’s Dongyin Island, a well-defended Taiwan outpost that is part of its Matsu Islands located close to mainland China. This marked the first time that China has sent drones over Taiwan’s airspace.

I wrote NATO’s lessons from Afghanistan. Now I wonder: What have we learned?

John Manza

It has been one year since the collapse of Afghanistan, and while the world has moved on to other issues, it’s important to remember the key lessons of that conflict—if for no other reason than to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.

As assistant secretary general for operations at NATO, I was responsible for writing the Alliance’s lessons of Afghanistan in late 2021. While the full document remains classified, the key lessons themselves are not. In fact, they’re obvious to any student of national security, conflict, or international affairs.

First, the Alliance fought in a strategically irrelevant place against the wrong enemy. Second, although driven by good intentions, allies expanded the scale and scope of the mission well beyond the strategic level of interest. Third, NATO sought to build security forces that were badly out of step with Afghan culture and technological capacity. Finally, the allies fooled themselves and their publics about the conditions on the ground.

Taiwan’s reunification countdown has begun


China’s People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said in a statement on Monday (August 8) that joint drills in the sea and airspace around Taiwan were continuing.

The notice did not specify the precise location of the exercises or when they would end. Whether the six danger zones for the August 4-7 exercises remain in effect is unclear. The PLA never officially announced the end of the war games.

The announcement will likely leave US officialdom as clueless – or at any rate pretend-clueless – as was betrayed by their statements when Taiwanese officials said Chinese aircraft and warships had rehearsed an attack on the island on Saturday.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby complained that the Chinese “can go a long way to taking the tensions down simply by stopping these provocative military exercises and ending the rhetoric.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China’s actions over Taiwan showed a move from prioritizing peaceful resolution toward the use of force.

15 August 2022

A bloody mess’ with ‘terrible loss of life’: How a China-US conflict over Taiwan could play out


WASHINGTON — A US Marine Littoral Regiment stationed in southern Taiwan is holding off hostile forces conducting an amphibious invasion near Tainan City. The MLR’s land-based, anti-ship missiles have slowed the Chinese fleet’s advances considerably, but the unit is running low on ammunition. It will need to be resupplied soon or face long odds in continuing to repel the invaders.

Despite the risks, the US sends in a C-17 Globemaster to restock the Marines’ precious supply of missiles — and the plane is summarily shot down by the Chinese. It’s a tragedy the kind the US has rarely faced for decades, but this far into the first major war between the US and China, with tens of thousands of lives committed to the conflict, the grim reality is this: There is no turning back for anyone.

It’s not a pleasant scene, but it is a realistic one, according to a series of wargames hosted in early August at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a DC-based think tank. The goal of the wargames — determining what would happen if China tried to take Taiwan through military force — is both an existential one for America’s security posture and an unintentionally timely one.

The West Needs a Strategy to Avoid Exhaustion in Ukraine

Gerald F. Hyman

If the current trajectory continues, the billions of dollars in weapons, munitions, and infrastructure provided by the NATO allies to Ukraine and the even greater amount of armor, rockets, missiles, and personnel available to Russia is likely to produce a long, agonizing stalemate, a war of attrition, without Moscow creating a subservient Ukraine or Ukraine “regaining every inch of territory.” But that trajectory is unlikely to continue.

Russia is losing manpower at a rate beyond its replacement capacity. It is losing a surprisingly large number of its officer corps, including very senior officers up to and including generals. It seems to have little coherent strategy and lost its initial first-strike attempt to decapitate Ukraine and take the entire country in one swift advance. It is also losing armament faster than it can weather.

Ukraine had a far smaller force (minuscule in comparison), few tanks, almost no rockets or air assets, and far less equipment in general. In no way was it close to a match for Russia. The NATO allies quickly made up for some of the equipment disparity but none of the manpower. They have now provided tanks, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, armored vehicles, helicopters, anti-artillery rocket systems, drones, ammunition, and recently long-range missiles like the U.S. HIMARS, but Ukraine remains unable to reach much beyond the Russian border, certainly not into Russia’s heartland or its armament factories. The NATO allies now seem about to reverse their previous policy and will provide NATO-conforming jet fighters. Ukraine has relied on the elan of its troops, and, without exaggeration, they have proven to be heroic as has the Ukrainian public. Ukraine has astonished its allies, has shocked Russia, and has surprised maybe even itself.

Germany’s Ukraine Problem Europe’s Largest Country Needs Time to Adjust to a Dangerous New World

Wolfgang Ischinger

In late July 2022, it emerged that Germany’s plan to help its eastern European allies arm Ukraine had made little progress. According to the scheme, countries such as Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic would supply Kyiv with Soviet-era weaponry from their armed forces; in turn, Germany would transfer its own Western-made equipment to replenish the stock of those countries. Yet despite months of talks, no such transfers of German weapons have been made.

This was not the first example of Berlin having difficulties carrying out its promises on Ukraine. In early spring, Germany pledged to provide heavy weapons directly to Kyiv, but as late as July, only a few such weapons had been delivered. For policymakers in Washington and Brussels, the pattern has become something of a running theme in discussions about the German government: promises followed by foot-dragging. The delayed action is especially concerning since Germany already suffers a deficit of trust among many European allies for its close energy relationship with Moscow, and in particular for refusing to suspend the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project until just days before the Russian invasion began. Instead of providing strong foundations for European action, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has often seemed to be struggling to catch up to his more resolute peers.

14 August 2022

The Strategic Importance Of Snake Island In Past And Present

Matija Šerić

On February 24, 2022, the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops occupied Snake Island, a small but strategically important position in the Black Sea about 140 km south of Odessa. The 13 Ukrainian soldiers stationed there bravely repelled the Russian attacks twice, but they could not continue the fight because they ran out of ammunition. Photos and audio recordings of Ukrainian defenders defying Russian attackers have gone viral. Ukraine celebrated the story with patriotic fervor, issuing a commemorative postage stamp. All the defenders were believed to have died and were posthumously honored by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, however it was later reported that they had survived and were in captivity. When Ukraine regained control of Snake Island on June 30, it marked a huge and much-needed morale boost for Ukrainian soldiers.

Snake Island is a key strategic point of Ukraine in the Black Sea. The reason is the proximity of Romania (a member of NATO) and the fact that it is located on the edge of Ukrainian territorial waters in the Black Sea. The island has an X shape, an area of ​​0.205 square km. The highest point on the island is 41 meters above sea level. The island does not have a prominent mountain, but rather a hilly area with low slopes. Despite its small size, the American think tank Atlantic Council concluded that Snake Island is “the key to Ukraine’s maritime territorial claims”. The rocky islet is located 35 km southwest of the mainland of Ukraine, east of the Danube delta. It has strategic value for controlling the northwestern Black Sea, Ukrainian coastal cities and shipping routes that form an important part of the global grain supply chain.

Gas wars: How Putin sent EU energy prices rocketing


Russia's invasion of Ukraine prompted most of the EU to wake up to the danger of depending on the Kremlin for its natural gas.

But moving away from Russian gas, which last year accounted for 40 percent of EU demand, is a painful process — and Russian President Vladimir Putin isn't pulling any punches.

Even before the invasion of Ukraine, his state-backed export monopoly Gazprom slowly began selling less natural gas to European buyers, draining storage and slowing pipeline flows to a trickle.

Those supply changes — coupled with Putin's bombastic statements, false promises and periodic jokes at Brussels' expense — caused energy prices to spike, plunge, recover and dip again, as anxious traders tried to predict how much gas they could count on come winter.

Europe’s Energy Crisis May Get a Lot Worse

David Wallace-Wells

I don’t think many Americans appreciate just how tense and tenuous, how very touch and go the energy situation in Europe is right now.

For months, as news of the Ukraine war receded a bit, it was possible to follow the energy story unfolding across the Atlantic and still assume an uncomfortable but familiar-enough winter in Europe, characterized primarily by high prices.

In recent weeks, the prospects have begun to look darker. In early August the European Union approved a request that member states reduce gas consumption by 15 percent — quite a large request and one that several initially balked at. In Spain, facing record-breaking heat wave after record-breaking heat wave at the height of the country’s tourist season, the government announced restrictions on commercial air-conditioning, which may not be set below 27 degrees Celsius, or about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In France, an Associated Press article said, “urban guerrillas” are taking to the streets, shutting off storefront lights to reduce energy consumption. In the Netherlands a campaign called Flip the Switch is asking residents to limit showers to five minutes and to drop air-conditioning and clothes dryers entirely. Belgium has reversed plans to retire nuclear power plants, and Germany, having ruled out the possibility of such a turnabout in June, is now considering it as well.

India’s Challenge to Belt and Road in Asia

Dr. Imran Khalid

Over the past few years, and most notably during recent border clashes in Ladakh’s Galwan valley, China-India relations have been visibly more acrimonious, confusing, and inimical in diplomatic and military domains, despite their huge mutual business interests.

In 2021, trade between the two neighbors grew by 44 percent. India’s imports from China grew from $66.7 billion in 2020 to $97.5 billion, and during the same period, the volume of Indian exports to China jumped to $28.1 billion, displaying hefty growth of 34.9 percent. But ironically, this gigantic volume of bilateral trade has not been able to muffle the ever-growing mutual suspicion and distrust between Beijing and New Delhi. Particularly, after the launch of China’s third and most advanced indigenously-built carrier Fujian on June 17, India’s deliberate attempts to increase its sphere of activities in the South China Sea and Asia Pacific are now becoming more rancorous. India hastily completed the fourth phase of sea trials of its indigenously built INS Vikrant on July 10, with a target of its commissioning on August 15 to commemorate Independence Day celebrations, dubbed “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.”

Liz Truss Is Ready to Flex London’s Muscles Abroad

Ben Judah

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is on the verge of becoming Britain’s next prime minister. Truss’s political journey has been a tangled one. A former student Liberal Democrat, anti-monarchist, and campaigner for legalized cannabis, she became a David Cameron loyalist and firm Remainer in the Brexit campaign. A disastrous speech on pork in 2014 got her widely mocked. But now the much-photographed face of the post-Brexit foreign policy that the government dubs “Global Britain” is not only endorsed by the hard-right Daily Mail but seen by the most radical Leavers as a champion of their cause.

It would be easy to make one of two mistakes about Truss: either she doesn’t believe in anything or she believes everything she’s saying at any one time. But, according to Westminster sources I spoke to, she’s a more complicated mix of chameleon politics over a solid framework of belief—especially on geopolitics.

As foreign secretary, her worldview has been deeply shaped by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Truss would be the continuity-plus candidate for the foreign policy promoted by outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson—and extremely active in promoting it. She was fully behind Johnson as he embraced a form of muscular Atlanticism toward Russia and China: sending heavy weapons to Ukraine early on, positioning London as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s closest partner, heartily increasing U.K. defense spending, standing up for Hong Kong with a generous visa offer, and seeking to bolster Britain’s role in the Indo-Pacific with the AUKUS pact, in partnership with the United States and Australia, while beginning to disentangle the U.K. from Beijing on sensitive matters such as Huawei’s 5G technology.

13 August 2022

How Europe aims to achieve strategic autonomy for semiconductors

Paul Timmers

Amid heightened geopolitical tensions and growing challenges posed by disruptive innovation, European policymakers are seeking ways to strengthen the continent’s strategic autonomy—particularly with respect to technology. A key part of this effort is the EU Chips Act, which provides billions in financial support to set up factories for advanced chip production (so-called “fabs”) and step up semiconductor research in the EU. Just as U.S. policymakers are attempting to strengthen the American semiconductor industry via the CHIPS and Science Act signed into law on Tuesday, lawmakers in Europe are attempting to build a more independent technology industry. First put forward in April by the European Commission, the EU Chips Act aims to address semiconductor supply shortages and years of decline in semiconductor investment in the EU, boosting Europe’s share of global chip production capacity to 20% from its current level of about 10%. The act is expected to be adopted in the first half of 2023 and has already had an impact on major semiconductor companies’ investment decisions.

What Makes The Green Berets Special? A Former Army Special Forces Officer Explains

Steve Balestrieri

The U.S. Army’s Special Forces are known to most as the Green Berets. These legendary soldiers have been honored in books, films, and songs.

In September, troops past and present will gather in Colorado Springs to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Special Forces.

At any given time, Army Special Forces can be found in 80 to 90 countries around the world, conducting missions essential to U.S. and allied nations’ security. They are the shadow warriors, the “quiet professionals.” The training pipeline is long. Candidates must pass through several phases before they can earn the right to wear the Green Beret and bear the title.

What makes these troops so unique? While the paragraphs below will spell out several key reasons, the short answer is: everything.

12 August 2022

Will Biden Stumble into a New World War?

Douglas Macgregor

In 1979, President Carter formally abandoned the 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan. Carter’s action abruptly ended Washington’s commitment to defend Taiwan against attack from the Chinese mainland. Yet, in an answer to a journalist’s question about whether he would use military force in response to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, President Biden stated, “Yes, that's what we are committed to.”

When it comes to defense and foreign policy, there are very few stone-cold realists in Washington’s policy-making circles. Since 1945, with a few notable exceptions, most American presidents have tended to put short-term political celebrity or ephemeral liberal causes ahead of tangible, concrete national interests in America’s relations with other nation-states. Biden is no exception to the rule.

Guided more by impulse and emotion than reason or knowledge of the facts, President Biden, like most of Washington’s ruling political class, may be privately pleased with Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. When Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is viewed in the context of Biden's self-evidently thoughtless remark, however, it is clear that the combination is having a negative impact across Asia.

The Battle for the Soul of Golf

Stephen M. Walt

There are lots of things one might say about the new Saudi-sponsored LIV Golf tour, a blatant attempt to “sportswash” the kingdom’s shaky public image. The new initiative has roiled the ranks of professional golf, though its initial events haven’t drawn much of a crowd. Although the Saudi initiative may never manage to compete with the Masters Tournament, it illustrates the obstacles that new challengers face when they try to compete with an established order. Indeed, one sees similar forces impeding China’s efforts to supplant the present array of international institutions with ones that are better suited to Chinese preferences.

For those of you who don’t pay any attention to sports, the LIV Golf tour is a new set of golf tournaments backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. It has enticed a number of famous professionals to enter its events by offering big upfront payments to established stars, promising big purses to the winners, and guaranteeing that all participants will take home a sizable paycheck even if they finish dead last. In response, the PGA Tour and other prominent golf organizations (including the R&A Association, which operates the British Open) have declared that those who join the LIV tour will be ineligible for existing tour events.


On the evening of 29 July, Russian rockets hit the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, killing five people and injuring another seven. The Ukrainian military states that the city came under attack from the Tornado-S multiple rocket launcher system.

Images of the aftermath show damage to a number of residential buildings. The control module from one of these 300mm rockets was discovered relatively intact in the middle of a children's playground.

Earlier this year, RUSI staff conducting fieldwork in Ukraine inspected a recovered control module from the same rocket system, which possesses a sophisticated onboard satellite-guidance system to ensure that the rocket is accurate up to a range of 120 km. A close examination of the satellite-guidance system revealed that several of its critical microelectronics were produced by US companies.

Russian disinformation spreading in new ways despite bans


WASHINGTON (AP) — After Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the European Union moved to block RT and Sputnik, two of the Kremlin’s top channels for spreading propaganda and misinformation about the war.

Nearly six months later, the number of sites pushing that same content has exploded as Russia found ways to evade the ban. They’ve rebranded their work to disguise it. They’ve shifted some propaganda duties to diplomats. And they’ve cut and pasted much of the content on new websites — ones that until now had no obvious ties to Russia.

NewsGuard, a New York-based firm that studies and tracks online misinformation, has now identified 250 websites actively spreading Russian disinformation about the war, with dozens of new ones added in recent months.

11 August 2022

Rationing and blackouts are a possibility this winter

James Forsyth

The debate about energy in the UK has largely concentrated on just how high prices will go. This is understandable given how seismic the October and January increases in the energy price cap are likely to be. But today’s announcement from Norway that it will prioritise refilling domestic reservoirs over exporting hydropower to countries like the UK is a reminder that supply may soon become an issue too.

In a crisis, borders reassert themselves as Covid showed. What happened with PPE and medical supplies during the pandemic may well happen with energy this winter. This is a concern for the UK given that it imports large quantities of energy during the winter.

If there are circumstances in which Norway, France, Holland or Belgium limit exports because of the need to maintain domestic supply that will cause problems for the UK. The National Grid currently says that the UK will avoid blackouts this winter, but there is little room for unpleasant surprises in their calculations.

Loitering Munitions Proliferate as Tech Changes Battlefield

Stew Magnuson

PARIS — If there was ever one-stop shopping for anything an army would need as far as loitering munitions, it was all the way back in Hall 6, aisle F at the Eurosatory trade show in Paris in June.

There, attendees found the Uvision booth and its complete lineup of so-called “kamikaze drones,” ranging in six sizes along with all the accessories, including controllers and training systems.

A quadcopter drone also hung on display from the booth’s ceiling.

“Is that a loitering munition, too?” a reporter asked a company representative, having never seen a vertical takeoff and landing drone armed with a warhead.

“No, just for surveillance,” said the representative.

“But it could be armed. It is possible, right?”

The fallout from Europe's energy crisis


The European Union has called on members of the trading bloc to slash their use of natural gas as Russia cuts deliveries. European wholesale natural-gas prices jumped last week when Russia announced the reduction of flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which carries natural gas from Russia to Germany and is now down to 20 percent of normal capacity. Energy experts warn that a brutal heat wave, a hydropower shortage, and corrosion issues at French nuclear reactors are contributing to the continent's worsening energy crisis, according to The Wall Street Journal.

European leaders have accused the Kremlin of blackmailing them as punishment for supporting Ukraine's resistance to Russia's invasion. They are scrambling to find alternative fuel sources before winter and trying to reduce demand to help them stockpile fuel before cold weather hits. Spain, for example, published rules last week telling businesses not to cool indoor spaces below 81 degrees Fahrenheit, or heat them above 66 degrees. What does this energy crisis mean for Europe's future?