Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners


Quotes of the Day:

"I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion."
- Alexander the Great

"Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality."
- Warren Bennis

"Plans are nothing; planning is everything."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower




1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, MAY 10 (PUTIN'S WAR)
2. US, Western Europe fret over uncertain Ukraine war endgame
3. Ukrainians stop Russian gas at one hub, make gains in east
4. Fact Sheet on U.S. Security Assistance for Ukraine
5. Small Drones Are Giving Ukraine an Unprecedented Edge
6. Special Ops Software Office Takes on Pentagon Bureaucracy
7. Rather than wreck it, Berger’s vision will save the Marine Corps from itself
8. First Public UFO Hearing In Over 50 Years To Be Held By Congress Next Week
9. Putin’s Bad Math: The Root of Russian Miscalculation in Ukraine
10. Will Washington Learn from China’s Successful Stroke in the Solomon Islands?
11. To Win Wars, Cut the U.S. Defense Budget
12. Russia hacked an American satellite company one hour before the Ukraine invasion
13. RUSSIAN GENERAL OFFICER GUIDE - MAY 11
14. Ukraine Accuses Russia of Stealing Its Grain
15. Intelligence and the War in Ukraine: Part 1
16. Ukraine After the War
17. America Must Embrace the Goal of Ukrainian Victory
18. Threading the Needle in Southeast Asia
19. The Ukraine War Might Kill China’s Nuclear No First Use Policy
20. What Victory Will Look Like in Ukraine
21. China’s Covid crisis is Xi’s to lose
22. Russia actually isn't as good at information warfare as everyone thought





1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, MAY 10 (PUTIN'S WAR)
RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, MAY 10
May 10, 2022 - Press ISW

Karolina Hird, Mason Clark, and George Barros
May 10, 7:15pm ET
The Ukrainian counteroffensive north of Kharkiv City continued to successfully push Russian forces toward the Russia-Ukraine border on May 10. Ukrainian forces liberated several towns north of Kharkiv City and continued pushing north of the recently liberated Staryi Saltiv to capture several towns northeast of Kharkiv: a Russian source claimed that Ukrainian troops advanced to within 10km of the Russian border, though ISW cannot independently confirm these specific claims.[1] Russian forces from the Izyum area are reportedly redeploying northwards to attempt to alleviate the pressure of this counteroffensive and stymie further northward advances toward the Russian border.[2] The Ukrainian counteroffensive will likely continue to divert Russian troops and resources from deployment to other axes of advance where fighting has been similarly stalled out by the successful Ukrainian defense. The counteroffensive will impede the ability of Russian artillery to target the northeastern suburbs of Kharkiv City, will potentially enable Ukrainian forces to threaten Russian rear areas with their own shelling and further attacks, and—if Ukrainian forces are able to further advance the counteroffensive or Russian forces collapse along the Kharkiv axis and withdraw further—unhinge Russian offensive operations around Izyum.
The Belarusian Ministry of Defense escalated its false claims of US and NATO preparations to attack Belarus while announcing the start of a second stage of ongoing military exercises on May 10. However, Belarus remains unlikely to join the war in Ukraine. Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin announced the second stage of ongoing rapid response forces exercises on May 10 in response to what he falsely claimed were NATO escalations.[3] Belarusian First Deputy Minister of Defense Victor Gulevich accused the US and its allies of building up a military presence around Belarusian borders and claimed that Poland and the Baltic states are threatening Belarusian territory through reconnaissance, sabotage, and special operations.[4] Gulevich announced that Belarusian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) will subsequently advance to the Western and Northwestern operational zones as part of a ”whole range of measures aimed at countering possible threats” in these areas.[5] Gulevich additionally stated that the presence of 20,000 Ukrainian troops in Belarus’ Southern Operational District have necessitated a deployment of unspecified Belarusian troops to three tactical directions near the Ukrainian border, which is consistent with Ukrainian General Staff reporting that certain Belarusian units have deployed to the Ukraine-Belarus border area for a combat readiness check.[6]
The rhetoric of threats to Belarus’ borders is not new and was frequently employed by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in the early stages of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[7] The Belarusian exercises, which are concentrated on Belarus’ borders with Poland and the Baltic States rather than Ukraine, are likely primarily demonstrative and signal Belarus’ continued political support for Russia‘s war in Ukraine. The exercises are likely additionally intended to draw NATO attention and possibly disrupt NATO aid to Ukraine, rather than threatening an actual military operation—similar to Russian efforts to destabilize Moldova that are likely intended to distract Romania and NATO rather than directly threaten Odesa. Belarus remains unlikely to join the war in Ukraine. Lukashenko successfully repressed domestic opposition in 2020 and 2021 but remains vulnerable to further domestic unrest if his security apparatus weakens; he is likely unwilling to risk losing his military in a stalled and deteriorating Russian war in Ukraine.
Key Takeaways
  • The Ukrainian counteroffensive in northern Kharkiv took further ground and have possibly closed to within 10km of the Russian border.
  • Belarusian authorities are escalating rhetoric accusing NATO and the US of threatening Belarusian borders, but Belarus remains unlikely to join the war.
  • Russian operations around Izyum remain stalled.
  • DNR and Russian forces are advancing efforts to consolidate their control of the ruins of Mariupol, including reportedly attempting to reopen steel plants to produce military equipment.
  • Russian forces in eastern Ukraine continued attempts to encircle the Severodonetsk area and reportedly reached the Donetsk-Luhansk administrative border from Popasna.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces did not conduct any significant attacks on the southern axis.

We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.
ISW has updated its assessment of the five primary efforts Russian forces are engaged in at this time:
  • Main effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of one subordinate and four supporting efforts);
  • Subordinate main effort- Encirclement of Ukrainian troops in the cauldron between Izyum and Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts
  • Supporting effort 1 — Mariupol;
  • Supporting effort 2—Kharkiv City;
  • Supporting effort 3—Southern axis;
  • Supporting effort 4—Sumy and northeastern Ukraine.
Main effort—Eastern Ukraine
Subordinate Main Effort—Southern Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: Encircle Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine and capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces did not make any confirmed advances in any direction from Izyum on May 10. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces around Izyum are focusing on regrouping, replenishing equipment, and conducting reconnaissance to create conditions for renewed offensives east towards Lyman and Slovyansk.[8]
Russian forces continued ground attacks and shelling along the line of contact in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts and made marginal westward advances on May 10. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that Russian forces moved west from Popasna and reached the administrative border of Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts, though ISW cannot independently confirm this claim.[9] Ukrainian sources reported intense fighting to the north, west, and south of Severodonetsk in Vojevodivka, Toshkivke, Rubizhne, Lysychansk, Orikhove, Hirske, and Bilohorivka as Russian forces attempt to encircle the town.[10] Ukrainian forces notably destroyed a Russian pontoon bridge across the Siverskyi Donets River in the vicinity of Bilohorivka, which may allow Ukrainian forces to develop a line west of Severodonetsk and disrupt the intended Russian encirclement of the Rubizhne-Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area.[11]
Russian troops continued attacks in Donetsk Oblast around Oleksandrivka and Shandryholove in order to move west to the Donetsk-Kharkiv administrative border.[12] Russian forces additionally continued unsuccessful frontal assaults around Donetsk City but did not make any confirmed advances on May 10.[13] Pro-Russian reporter Aleksandr Sladkov, who is operating around Donetsk City, complained that Russian forces are fighting Ukrainians at a 1:1 assault force ratio and have not been able to push Ukrainian forces from their positions in Donetsk.[14]

Supporting Effort #1—Mariupol (Russian objective: Capture Mariupol and reduce the Ukrainian defenders)
Russian forces continued to conduct air and artillery strikes and ground assaults against Ukrainian positions in the Azovstal Steel Plant on May 10.[15] Deputy Ukrainian Prime Minister Iryna Vershchuk reported that there are 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the plant and that hundreds are wounded.[16] A senior US defense official noted that Russian forces are increasingly relying on “dumb bombs” to assault Mariupol because they have expended precision-guided munition supplies.[17] Russian authorities are continuing to prepare Mariupol for economic integration. Advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol Petro Andryushchenko claimed that occupation authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) are trying to call workers back to the captured Ilyich Iron and Steel Work Plant to launch production of military equipment to supply Russian and proxy forces.[18]

Supporting Effort #2—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Retain positions on the outskirts of Kharkiv within artillery range of the city and prevent further Ukrainian counterattacks)
Ukrainian forces reportedly pushed Russian troops further north from Kharkiv City toward the international border on May 10. The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed on May 10 that Ukrainian forces recaptured Cherkasy Tyshky and Ruski Tyshky, both within 10 kilometers of the northeast boundary of Kharkiv City, after unverified reports on May 7 and 9 that Russian forces withdrew from the two towns.[19] Ukrainian units reportedly also took control of Pytomnyk, 10 kilometers directly north of Kharkiv City.[20] The Ukrainian 227th Kharkiv Territorial Defense Battalion claimed that they successfully advanced north of Staryi Saltiv (about 40 kilometers east of Kharkiv City) and liberated Bairak, Zamulivka, Verkhnii Saltiv, and Rubizhne (a different Rubizhne than the town of the same name in Kharkiv Oblast) on May 10.[21] A Russian source claimed that Ukrainian troops are as far north as Vovchansk, which is less than 10 kilometers south of the Russian border.[22] ISW cannot independently confirm this claim, but it is consistent with the overall Ukrainian push toward the Russian border over the last few days.
The Borivka Village Council reported that Russian forces are withdrawing en masse from Borova and Bohuslavka, southeast Kharkiv Oblast, and moving north in the direction of Kupyansk.[23] Russian forces are likely prioritizing reinforcing their grouping northeast of Kharkiv to prevent further Ukrainian counteroffensives in the direction of the international border at the expense of offensive operations to the southeast.[24] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that elements of the 138th Separate Mechanized Brigade of the 6th Combined Arms Army withdrew to Belgorod due to losses sustained in Kharkiv Oblast.[25]

Supporting Effort #3—Southern Axis (Objective: Defend Kherson against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Russian and Ukrainian troops clashed on the line of contact between Kherson and Mykolaiv Oblasts but neither side made any confirmed advances on May 10.[26] Russian forces continued to shell Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, and Mykolaiv oblasts.[27] Russian forces additionally intensified airstrikes against Odesa.[28] Transnistrian authorities announced that they will extend the “red level” terrorist threat until May 25.[29]


Supporting Effort #4—Sumy and Northeastern Ukraine: (Russian objective: Withdraw combat power in good order for redeployment to eastern Ukraine)
There were no significant events on this axis in the past 24 hours.
Immediate items to watch
  • The Belarusian Defense Ministry announced the second stage of rapid response force exercises, but Belarus remains unlikely to join the war in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces will likely continue to merge offensive efforts southward of Izyum with westward advances from Donetsk in order to encircle Ukrainian troops in southern Kharkiv Oblast and western Donetsk.
  • Russia is likely setting conditions to integrate occupied Ukrainian territories directly into Russia, as opposed to creating proxy “People’s Republics.” Russian forces have apparently decided to seize the Azovstal plant through ground assault and will likely continue operations accordingly.
  • Ukrainian counteroffensives around Kharkiv City are pushing back Russian positions northeast of the city towards the international border and will likely continue to force the Russians to reinforce those positions at the cost of reinforcing Russian offensive operations elsewhere.
  • Russian forces may be preparing to conduct renewed offensive operations to capture the entirety of Kherson Oblast in the coming days.
[2] https://t dot me/stranaua/41184; https://t dot me/borova_gromada/962
[3] https://t dot me/stranaua/41338; https://t dotme/modmilby/14146; https://tdotme/modmilby/14147; https://t dot me/modmilby/14148
[4] https://t dot me/modmilby/14150
[5] https://t dot me/modmilby/14150
[9] https://t.me/mod_russia/15591; https://t dot me/epoddubny/10493
[16] https://t dot me/stranaua/41342; https://t.me/polkazov/4472
[18] https://t.me/andriyshTime/779; https://t dot me/stranaua/41371
[22] https://t dot me/readovkanews/33382
[23] https://t dot me/stranaua/41184; https://t dot me/borova_gromada/962
[26] https://t dot me/readovkanews/33382; https://twitter.com/JackDetsch/status/1524064392026992646



2. US, Western Europe fret over uncertain Ukraine war endgame


Excerpts:

“To be honest, we are still not talking about the endgame,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis lamented to the The Associated Press in an interview on Monday. He said any territorial concessions in Ukraine would usher in a world where the “rules-based order” has been replaced by a “jungle rules-based order.”
Landsbergis suggested that Western nations issue public statements about what success would be. “Where we would consider what we would take for victory, actual victory? What would be the scenario that we would like?”
Landsbergis has been outspoken in calls for Putin to be ousted as Russia’s leader, going well beyond the U.S. position and that of other NATO leaders. He says regime change in Moscow is the only way to protect European and Western security in the long term.
“Coming from me it’s much easier to say we need regime change in Russia, so we’ve been quite blunt and open about it,” he said. “Maybe for United States it’s much more difficult to be open about it, but still, at some point we have to talk about this because it’s so important.”
US, Western Europe fret over uncertain Ukraine war endgame
AP · by MATTHEW LEE · May 11, 2022
WASHINGTON (AP) — An interminable and unwinnable war in Europe? That’s what NATO leaders fear and are bracing for as Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds into its third month with little sign of a decisive military victory for either side and no resolution in sight.
The possibility of a stalemate is fueling concerns that Ukraine may remain a deadly European battlefield and a source of continental and global instability for months, or even years, to come.
Energy and food security are the most immediate worries, but massive Western support for Ukraine while the world is still emerging from coronavirus pandemic and struggling to deal with the effects of climate change could deepen the toll on the global economy. And should Russia choose to escalate, the risk of a broader conflict rises.
The U.S. and its allies are pumping a steady stream of lethal weaponry into Ukraine to keep it in the fight. While most analysts say Kyiv is holding its own at the least, those infusions must continue if they are to support President Volodomyr Zelenskyy’s vow to win, or at least continue to match or beat back, Moscow’s advances.
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Just as Russian President Vladimir Putin has not signaled a willingness to intensify the invasion with either a general mobilization of troops or the use of unconventional arms, neither has he shown any sign of backing down. Nor has Zelenskyy, who is now asserting that Ukraine will not only beat back the current Russian invasion but regain control of Crimea and other areas that Russia has occupied or otherwise controlled since 2014.
“It’s very difficult to see how you could get a negotiated solution at this point,” said Ian Kelly, a retired veteran diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Georgia, another former Soviet republic on which Russia has territorial designs.
“There’s no way that Ukraine is going to step back,” Kelly said. “They think they’re gonna win.”
At the same time, Kelly said that no matter how many miscalculations Putin has made about the strength and will of Ukraine to resist or the unity and resolve of the NATO allies, Putin cannot accept defeat or anything short of a scenario that he can claim has achieved success.
“It would be political suicide for Putin to withdraw,” Kelly said. “It’s very difficult to see how you could get a negotiated solution at this point. Neither side is willing to stop fighting and probably the likeliest outcome is a war that lasts a couple of years. Ukraine would be a festering sore in the middle of Europe.”
U.S. officials, starting with President Joe Biden, seem to agree, even after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin raised eyebrows by saying after a visit to Kyiv last month that Washington’s goal is not only to help Ukraine defend itself but to “weaken” Russia to the point where it does not pose a threat.
Putin “doesn’t have a way out right now, and I’m trying to figure out what we do about that,” Biden said on Monday even after he signed legislation designed to reboot the World War II-era “lend-lease” program and appealed to Congress to approve a $40 billion package of military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
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So what to do? French President Emmanuel Macron has placed a premium on a negotiated settlement that saves face for both Russia and Ukraine.
“We will have a peace to build tomorrow, let us never forget that,” Macron said on Monday. “We will have to do this with Ukraine and Russia around the table. The end of the discussion and the negotiation will be set by Ukraine and Russia. But it will not be done in denial, nor in exclusion of each other, nor even in humiliation.”
U.S. officials aren’t so sure, although they allow that the endgame is up to Ukraine.
“Our strategy is to see to it that Ukraine emerges from this victorious,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said this week. “Ukraine will do so at the negotiating table. Our goal is to strengthen Ukraine’s position at that negotiating table as we continue to place mounting costs on the Russian Federation.”
But, the high-stakes uncertainty over what constitutes a “victorious” Ukraine has alarmed officials in some European capitals, notably those in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which are NATO members bordering Russia and especially worried about Moscow’s possible future intentions.
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For Baltic nations and other countries on NATO’s eastern flank, the threat is real and memories of Soviet occupation and rule remain fresh. Concessions to Russia in Ukraine will only embolden Putin to push further west, they say.
“To be honest, we are still not talking about the endgame,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis lamented to the The Associated Press in an interview on Monday. He said any territorial concessions in Ukraine would usher in a world where the “rules-based order” has been replaced by a “jungle rules-based order.”
Landsbergis suggested that Western nations issue public statements about what success would be. “Where we would consider what we would take for victory, actual victory? What would be the scenario that we would like?”
Landsbergis has been outspoken in calls for Putin to be ousted as Russia’s leader, going well beyond the U.S. position and that of other NATO leaders. He says regime change in Moscow is the only way to protect European and Western security in the long term.
“Coming from me it’s much easier to say we need regime change in Russia, so we’ve been quite blunt and open about it,” he said. “Maybe for United States it’s much more difficult to be open about it, but still, at some point we have to talk about this because it’s so important.”
AP · by MATTHEW LEE · May 11, 2022


3. Ukrainians stop Russian gas at one hub, make gains in east

Ukrainians contributing to "sanctions" in their own way.

Excerpts:

Benchmark European gas futures seesawed Tuesday and Wednesday on the news, meaning consumers may face higher energy bills — at a time of already rising prices.
Higher prices would benefit Russia, though it has massive foreign reserves now given the rapid rise in crude oil prices in recent months as global travel and business resumed in the wake of mass coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.
The hub in question handles about a third of Russian gas passing through Ukraine to Western Europe. Russia’s state-owned natural gas giant Gazprom put the figure at about a quarter.
The move came as Western powers have been looking to ratchet up economic pressure on Moscow and bolster Ukraine’s defenders. The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $40 billion Ukraine aid package Tuesday.
Ukrainians stop Russian gas at one hub, make gains in east
AP · by ELENA BECATOROS and JON GAMBRELL · May 11, 2022
ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine stopped the flow of Russian natural gas on Wednesday through a hub that feeds European homes and stoves, while Kyiv’s military claimed it made some gains in grinding battles near a key northeastern city.
In 11 weeks, the war has played out on battlefields in Ukrainian towns and cities but also in energy and financial markets, as Ukraine’s allies in the West have sought to deprive Russia of money needed to fund the war with sanctions and energy embargoes.
The practical impact of Wednesday’s gas cutoff for European households was not immediately clear: Ukraine’s pipeline operator said it would switch supply to another hub, and an analyst said transit should not be affected.
But Russia’s state-owned giant Gazprom indicated some falloff: It said it was sending gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine in the amount of 72 million cubic meters, apparently down 25% from the day before.
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Preliminary flow data suggested higher rates moving through a second station in Ukrainian-controlled territory. Russian gas flows to Europe through other pipelines as well.
It was also not clear if Russia would take any immediate hit, since it has long-term contracts and other ways of transporting gas.
But the move could hold symbolic significance as the first time Ukraine has disrupted the flow westward. It comes as the European Union has sought to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, phasing out its use of coal and considering doing the same for oil. Gas presents a more complicated problem, given both how much Europe uses and the technical difficulties in sourcing it elsewhere.
On the battlefield, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s military had pushed Russian forces out of four villages near Kharkiv — the country’s second largest city, and a key to Russia’s offensive in the eastern Donbas.
After his forces failed to overrun the capital in the early days of the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin switched his focus to the region, which is Ukraine’s industrial heartland and has also been the site of fighting between Moscow-backed separatists and Ukrainian troops for years.


Zelenskyy suggested the military was gradually pushing Russian troops away from Kharkiv. As his forces appear to gather steam in a nascent counteroffensive, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba voiced what appeared to be increasing confidence — and expanded goals — on Tuesday. He suggested to the Financial Times newspaper that Ukraine could go beyond just forcing Russia back to areas it held before the invasion began 11 weeks ago.
Kuleba’s statement seemed to reflect political ambitions more than battlefield realities: Russian forces have made advances in the Donbas and control more of it than they did before the war began. But it highlights how Ukraine has stymied a larger, better-armed Russian military, surprising many who had anticipated a much quicker end to the conflict.
Meanwhile, the British Defense Ministry said Ukraine was targeting Russian forces on Snake Island in the northwestern Black Sea, in an effort to disrupt Moscow’s attempts to expand its influence.
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Russia has sought to reinforce its garrison on Snake Island, while “Ukraine has successfully struck Russian air defenses and resupply vessels with Bayraktar drones,” the ministry said on Twitter. It said Russian resupply vessels had minimum protection after the Russian Navy retreated to Crimea after losing the flagship of its Black Sea fleet.
Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press show fighting there.
But the statement warned: “If Russia consolidates its position on (Snake) Island with strategic air defense and coastal defense cruise missiles, they could dominate the northwestern Black Sea.”
Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said it would stop Russian shipments through a hub in a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists because of interference from “occupying forces,” including the apparent siphoning of gas. It also complained about interference along the route last month.
Benchmark European gas futures seesawed Tuesday and Wednesday on the news, meaning consumers may face higher energy bills — at a time of already rising prices.
Higher prices would benefit Russia, though it has massive foreign reserves now given the rapid rise in crude oil prices in recent months as global travel and business resumed in the wake of mass coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.
The hub in question handles about a third of Russian gas passing through Ukraine to Western Europe. Russia’s state-owned natural gas giant Gazprom put the figure at about a quarter.
The move came as Western powers have been looking to ratchet up economic pressure on Moscow and bolster Ukraine’s defenders. The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $40 billion Ukraine aid package Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian officials said a Russian rocket attack targeted an area around Zaporizhzhia, destroying unspecified infrastructure. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The southeastern city has been a refuge for many civilians who have fled a Russian siege in the devastated port city of Mariupol.
With much of the fighting focused in the east, some analysts suggested Russia may be trying to spread Kyiv’s forces thin, by striking the southern port of Odesa, a major gateway for grain that feeds the world as well as a key transit point for Western weapons. Russia targeted the city with several missile strikes this week, the Ukrainians said Tuesday.
To protect Odesa, Kyiv might need to shift forces to the southwest, drawing them away from the eastern front in the Donbas, where they are fighting near Kharkiv to push the Russians back across the border.
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Russian aircraft twice launched unguided missiles Tuesday at the Sumy area northeast of Kharkiv, according to the Ukrainian border guard service. The region’s governor said the missiles hit several residential buildings, but no one was killed. Russian mortars hit the Chernihiv region, along the Ukrainian border with Belarus, but there was no word on casualties.
___
Gambrell reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Yesica Fisch in Bakhmut, David Keyton in Kyiv, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkiv, Lolita C. Baldor in Washington, Kelvin Chan in London and AP’s worldwide staff contributed.
___
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
AP · by ELENA BECATOROS and JON GAMBRELL · May 11, 2022


4. Fact Sheet on U.S. Security Assistance for Ukraine


Fact Sheet on U.S. Security Assistance for Ukraine
Immediate Release
May 10, 2022

The United States has committed more than $4.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $3.8 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion on February 24.
On May 6, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced the authorization of a Presidential Drawdown of security assistance valued at up to an additional $150 million tailored to meet critical Ukrainian needs for today’s fight as Russian forces launch a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine. This authorization is the ninth drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.
United States security assistance committed to Ukraine includes:
  • Over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems;
  • Over 5,500 Javelin anti-armor systems;
  • Over 14,000 other anti-armor systems;
  • Over 700 Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
  • 90 155mm Howitzers and over 200,000 155mm artillery rounds;
  • 72 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers;
  • 16 Mi-17 helicopters;
  • Hundreds of Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles;
  • 200 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers;
  • Over 7,000 small arms;
  • Over 50,000,000 rounds of ammunition;
  • 75,000 sets of body armor and helmets;
  • 121 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
  • Laser-guided rocket systems;
  • Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems;
  • Unmanned Coastal Defense Vessels;
  • 17 counter-artillery radars;
  • Four counter-mortar radars;
  • Two air surveillance radars;
  • M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions;
  • C-4 explosives and demolition equipment for obstacle clearing;
  • Tactical secure communications systems;
  • Night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, optics, and laser rangefinders;
  • Commercial satellite imagery services;
  • Explosive ordnance disposal protective gear;
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear protective equipment;
  • Medical supplies to include first aid kits;
  • Electronic jamming equipment;
  • Field equipment and spare parts.
The United States also continues to work with its Allies and partners to identify and provide Ukraine with additional capabilities to defend itself.

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5. Small Drones Are Giving Ukraine an Unprecedented Edge

Excerpts:
While the use of consumer drones in conflicts is not new, the machines are not designed for a hostile environment. “The downside of these drones is that they're not military-grade,” Bendett says, adding they can be targeted by anti-drone technology designed to take them out of the sky. All the drone specialists we spoke to for this article say they haven’t seen as many incidents of drones being shot out of the sky as they would have expected—particularly by Russian forces.
“Flying a simple commercial drone in conflict puts the operators in danger as well,” Bendett says. Civilians, journalists, and humanitarian workers using drones in Ukraine are being put at greater risk when they fly consumer drones, Greenwood adds. “The big problem with consumer drones and conflict zones, which humanitarian aid workers are very conscious of, is that you can't tell them apart; they look exactly the same.” A consumer drone being flown by a civilian appears no different from the same drone being flown by a soldier.
This means there are questions about what will happen under humanitarian laws if people flying drones are targeted, Greenwood says. “What happens if an aid worker is flying a drone and people assume it's a drone, it must be being flown by a combatant, and therefore this is a valid target and I'm going to kill it?”
Small Drones Are Giving Ukraine an Unprecedented Edge
From surveillance to search-and-rescue, consumer drones are having a huge impact on the country’s defense against Russia.
Wired · by Condé Nast · May 6, 2022
In the snowy streets of the north Ukrainian town of Trostyanets, the Russian missile system fires rockets every second. Tanks and military vehicles are parked on either side of the blasting artillery system, positioned among houses and near the town’s railway system. The weapon is not working alone, though. Hovering tens of meters above it and recording the assault is a Ukrainian drone. The drone isn’t a sophisticated military system, but a small, commercial machine that anyone can buy.
Since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine at the end of February, drones of all shapes and sizes have been used by both sides in the conflict. At one end of the scale are large military drones that can be used for aerial surveillance and to attack targets on the ground. In contrast, small commercial drones can be flown by people without any specific training and carried around in a suitcase-sized box. While both types of drones have been used in previous conflicts, the current scale of small, commercial drone use in Ukraine is unprecedented.
Drone videos shared and posted to social media depict the brutality of the war and reveal what has happened during battles. Drones have captured fighting in the destroyed Ukrainian city of Bucha, with lines of tanks moving around streets and troops moving alongside them. Commercial drones have helped journalists document the sheer scale of destruction in Kyiv and Mariupol, flying over burnt-out buildings that have been reduced to rubble.
Russian troops have been caught on camera allegedly shooting at citizens holding their hands in the air. Drone videos show Ukrainian troops shelling Russian positionsmonitoring their movements in real time, and ambushing Russian troops. In one video, a drone spots Russian military vehicles leaving troops behind—they run after the transport and fall in the snow. In another, the drone hovers in the air and records a helicopter being shot down as it flies past.
“Drones changed the way the war was supposed to be,” says Valerii Iakovenko, the founder of Ukrainian drone company DroneUA. “It is all about intelligence, collecting and transferring data about enemy troops' movements or positionings, correcting artillery fire. It is about counter-saboteurs' actions, and it is of course search-and-rescue operations.” Iakovenko estimates that Ukrainian forces are operating more than 6,000 drones for reconnaissance and says these can link up with Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite systems to upload footage. “In 2014, drones became the center of attention of intelligence units, but their scale cannot be compared to what we see today,” he says. (Russia first began its invasion of Ukraine in 2014 with its annexation of Crimea.)
Both Ukraine and Russia have used military drones during the war—and Ukraine received donations of drones from the US. These military drones can often fly at high altitudes for long periods of time and fire upon targets, including ships. However, the use of smaller commercial drones in such high numbers stands out, researchers say. These drones, which can sometimes be flimsy and can’t fly far from their operators or stay in the air for long periods, have provided tactical advantages in some cases. (Commercial drones have been used in previous conflicts, for instance in Syria, but not as extensively as in Ukraine.)
A Ukranian serviceman stands next to a downed Russian drone in the area of a research institute, part of Ukraine's National Academy of Science, after a strike, in northwestern Kyiv, on March 22, 2022.
Photograph: ARIS MESSINIS/Getty Images
Civilian drone researcher Faine Greenwood has tracked and logged almost 350 incidents in which consumer drones have been used in Ukraine, with the video footage shared on Twitter, Telegram, YouTube, and other social media. Many of the clips, which Greenwood has also mapped, are recorded by military forces, but others have been captured by civilians and journalists. The documented incidents are likely to be only a small fraction of the drone usage in Ukraine. Iakovenko says that in addition to collecting footage for possible war crimes, drones are being used to inspect buildings that have been hit and to help restore power supplies that have been damaged or knocked out.
“You get cheap airborne surveillance, or even strike capabilities, by using these,” says Ulrike Franke, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations who has studied the use of drones in war. The drones allow troops on the ground to immediately surveil forces around them, retarget weapons, and take action that could stop enemy advances or save lives. “You have individuals or small militia groups that all of a sudden have their own airborne surveillance capability—that’s something you wouldn’t have had 10 years ago. There certainly have been tactical advances and tactical victories because of that.”
Beyond providing direct surveillance that can contribute to intelligence, the videos being captured by consumer drones could contribute to accountability after the war ends. “This is one of the first cases we have had where drones have collected so much really applicable information for war crimes investigations against civilians,” Greenwood says. Although there are questions about what kinds of footage will be admissible in trials, Greenwood and others are backing up and saving video from drones in Ukraine.
Chief among the commercial drones being used in Ukraine are those from Chinese firm DJI, particularly its Mavic line of devices. Its consumer drones are considered to be some of the easiest to purchase and fly. Both Ukrainian and Russian forces have been seen using the drones, Greenwood says. Early in the war, Ukrainian authorities accused DJI of allowing Russian forces to use its drone detection system to target troops, although the company strongly denies this and no strong evidence has been presented.
At the end of April, DJI announced it was temporarily suspending sales in both Russia and Ukraine. The company has consistently said it doesn’t market its products for military use, and it has refused to enable modifications that would allow such use. “DJI has taken this action not to make a statement about any country, but to make a statement about our principles,” DJI spokesperson Adam Lisberg says. “DJI abhors any use of our drones to cause harm, and we are temporarily suspending sales in these countries in order to help ensure no one uses our drones in combat.”
Despite DJI’s opposition to military uses of its products, the drones have been weaponized during the war. “I don't think people have expected commercial DJI drones to be used at such scale,” says Samuel Bendett, an advisor with nonprofit research organization CNA who focuses on Russia and unmanned and autonomous military systems. “This raises the question of whether drone proliferation can be stopped altogether in any conflict.” Charities, companies, and individuals have donated consumer drones from around the world to Ukrainian forces. (Greenwood says they have seen claims that the Russian military is being supplied with donated drones, too. They also point out Telegram messages that claim to show pro-Russian fighters discussing the use of commercial drones).
While the use of consumer drones in conflicts is not new, the machines are not designed for a hostile environment. “The downside of these drones is that they're not military-grade,” Bendett says, adding they can be targeted by anti-drone technology designed to take them out of the sky. All the drone specialists we spoke to for this article say they haven’t seen as many incidents of drones being shot out of the sky as they would have expected—particularly by Russian forces.
“Flying a simple commercial drone in conflict puts the operators in danger as well,” Bendett says. Civilians, journalists, and humanitarian workers using drones in Ukraine are being put at greater risk when they fly consumer drones, Greenwood adds. “The big problem with consumer drones and conflict zones, which humanitarian aid workers are very conscious of, is that you can't tell them apart; they look exactly the same.” A consumer drone being flown by a civilian appears no different from the same drone being flown by a soldier.
This means there are questions about what will happen under humanitarian laws if people flying drones are targeted, Greenwood says. “What happens if an aid worker is flying a drone and people assume it's a drone, it must be being flown by a combatant, and therefore this is a valid target and I'm going to kill it?”
More Great WIRED Stories
Wired · by Condé Nast · May 6, 2022


6. Special Ops Software Office Takes on Pentagon Bureaucracy


Special Ops Software Office Takes on Pentagon Bureaucracy
nationaldefensemagazine.org · by Meredith Roaten
5/9/2022
By

iStock illustration
Special Operations Command is aiming to deliver software at a rapid pace, keeping up with industry standards for speed and flexibility.
Almost two years after it was stood up, the Special Operations Forces Digital Applications program office is barreling past the infamous Defense Department bureacracy to attract nontraditional vendors.
While its original goal was to field software such as artificial intelligence and machine learning every six months, the office’s program executive officer Col. Paul Weizer said staff have achieved a quarterly delivery pace and hope to move even faster.
When asked about his proudest accomplishment during his tenure at the SDA, Weizer said the office surviving was an accomplishment on its own.
“It’s new and because what we were doing didn’t align with the same strategy people had observed or witnessed in the past, there was some reticence in different areas that I think we overcame when people saw the potential and the attitudes and the desire to achieve something,” he said in an interview with National Defense.
When the office was stood up in the summer of 2020, Weizer said he didn’t understand how quickly it could move when he set the biannual goal of delivering capability — meaning anything from minor software bug fixes to major applications.
“Initially, that’s a good goal because the government never delivers anything that fast,” he said.
But through the speed of other transaction authorities and a greater prioritization of software Pentagon-wide, the office is meeting deadlines every quarter and aiming eventually for a two-week rate, he said.
This is fast even for other government programs that claim to use “agile software development,” an iterative software process that promotes rapid delivery.
The Government Accountability Office released a report last fall and found six of 36 weapons programs that used this process were delivering software in less than three months. The report, “DoD Software Acquisition: Status of and Challenges Related to Reform Efforts,” said efforts to eliminate faster delivery cycles have been stymied by difficulty hiring experienced software developers.
“DoD officials noted that the department continues work to address challenges and acknowledged that the transition to Agile will take years and require sustained engagement throughout DoD,” according to the report.
Other transaction authorities, or OTAs, have been a key tool for the office, Weizer said. When program officers start working on a project, they won’t know exact specifications of the software they need. OTAs allow the programs to adapt as user needs change, he explained.
“They were able to negotiate, in situ, what’s going on, to develop this capability,” he said.
Using this type of authority also allows better relationships with software developers. Because software is constantly evolving throughout the development and production process, creators want flexibility, he said.
“Even in the production of software, they’re still in development,” he said. “That’s the difference between a typical hardware program where, at some point, you lock down your design.”
Meanwhile, Weizer said the office’s efforts will contribute to the Pentagon’s strategy for connecting sensors and shooters known as joint all-domain command and control, or JADC2.
The digital applications office was involved with the design of the JADC2 strategy early on, he noted. Though other programs are starting to go after an open systems approach, some are hemmed in by their focus on their individual services, he said.
“Many of the other services kind of focus in their domain,” he said. ”We’re advantaged in that we operate in the joint space on that.”
Mission command is one of the software programs SDA has identified as providing situational awareness in line with JADC2 by this summer, Weizer said. Because the government owns the code for the program, it can be adapted for use across the services.
Furthermore, the concept of JADC2 has helped the SOF community understand the need for investment in software capabilities.
Last year, the Digital Applications program obligated more than $150 million toward software capabilities, according to the office. Weizer said the investment demonstrates that Congress and the Biden administration are focusing for the future fight.
“This is one of those consumers of investment, where we’re looking at those next things: refining AI, getting better focus in that area, machine learning, all the way to the edge,” he said.
One of the most advanced projects in the digital applications’ portfolio is Mission Command Systems/Common Operational Picture. Software developments created applications to generate a visualization for large volumes of data that is accessible in real time.
Weizer said the project met its minimum viable product status in February and will be at minimum product viable release in late May. More than half of the 14 contractors working on the project are nontraditional, and a couple of them have never worked with the Defense Department before, he said.
Special Operations Command awarded the company CAE USA, a subsidiary of CAE, to lead the integration and architecture development efforts for the program last summer.
The program and CAE’s integrated digital ecosystem solution are directly related to the company’s modeling and simulation expertise, Daniel Gelston, group president of defense and security at CAE, said in a press release.
“Integrating data analytics, artificial intelligence and digital immersion technologies into a synthetic environment has the ability to create an incredibly powerful tool for analysis, planning, and decision support,” he said.
The office is using “iterative, agile, human-centered design to develop software with high impact mission outcomes” for mission command, according to a SOF year-in-review document.
The program was also first to go down the Defense Department’s new software acquisition pathway, which was created in January 2020.
Meeting the office’s goals has meant taking a more “hands on” in software development, Weizer said. In other software development acquisition programs, submitting a request for proposals and hiring contractors gives vendors control of the software outcome, he explained.
“We kind of took the reins back,” he said.
Weizer created the chief software integration officer and hired Dan Lynch last March to bring technical expertise in software development to the team. Lynch said having a technical expert overseeing the four major programs under the organization’s umbrella allows them to benefit from each other.
“Historically speaking, a lot of DoD software has been: ‘Hey, write requirements, take three years, then deliver a product,’” he said. “And when you deliver that product, it’s fairly siloed off, you don’t necessarily share a lot of your information or you’re not encouraged to share.”
Pentagon leadership wants software solutions that military staff know everything about so they break down complex software into separate parts, Lynch said. Then, separate parts of the software solution can be applied to other needs across the joint force.
“We get these monolithic solutions that provide the application and provide the platform for the infrastructure,” he said. “But we don’t know how to separate it, and we don’t know what we don’t need.”
This can be where nontraditional contractors can come in handy, Weizer explained. Many traditional defense companies are interested in creating “soup to nuts” solutions, he said. Finding traditional firms who are willing to work together to provide the best elements of their product can be challenging, he said.
Of the more than 250 industry engagements in nearly two years, Weizer said more than 80 percent of his interactions involved nontraditional vendors.
Breaking down software into smaller components also speeds up the development and production process, Lynch noted. He said in the future, the software delivery rate may be as fast as weekly or daily.
If the Digital Applications program can continue to embed more personnel from software testing and security agencies in its teams, he said iterations of software could become more and more frequent.
“That gives us a lot of flexibility to meet future needs,” he said.
The Tactical Assault Kit portfolio is one area where Lynch said industry is showing progress breaking software down. The program fielded mobile situational awareness tools for SOF close combat air assistance among other missions, according to the office.
Additionally, industry still has to meet the military in the middle on intellectual property accommodations, Lynch said. Streamlining third party software integration will allow special ops forces to benefit from industry’s innovation.
“We’ve got a little ways to go to kind of get at this pace really fast,” he said.
nationaldefensemagazine.org · by Meredith Roaten

7. Rather than wreck it, Berger’s vision will save the Marine Corps from itself


Rather than wreck it, Berger’s vision will save the Marine Corps from itself
marinecorpstimes.com · by Col. Tom Hanson (Retired) · May 10, 2022
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger is facing vociferous opposition, allegedly from all living retired Marine four-star generals.
His crime? To operationalize the comments of his predecessor, Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, who in 2017 observed that the Corps no longer was “organized, trained, or equipped” to fight against a conventional peer or near-peer enemy.
Berger’s Force Design 2030 outlines his vision to “adapt, remain relevant, and outmaneuver our adversaries,” whether they be Islamofascist irregulars or members of Communist China’s People’s Liberation Army.
His opponents appear to want the Corps to remain a slimmer, smaller version of the U.S. Army.
RELATED

One retired 3-star says he is "saddened beyond belief" knowing the Corps won't soon be "the ready combined-arms force that our nation has long depended upon."
By Lt. Gen. Paul K. Van Riper (Retired)
To his supporters, Berger is a courageous ­visionary struggling to retain a central role for the Marine Corps in a future fight anywhere in the world. To his many detractors, he is myopically focused on a single threat, willfully dismantling the foundation upon which the Corps’ ethos and professional success rest.
Organizational change is hard, because it calls into question those shared values — the “principles, goals, and standards [considered] to have intrinsic worth” that members of the organization have accepted and internalized.
As historian and Marine Corps veteran Allen Millett noted in the book “The Culture of Military Organizations,” “[t]he Marine Corps … wants to be a community of ‘family’ members bound by loyalties.”
It follows that members who renounce those values endanger not only themselves but the entire “family unit;” group survival demands that the offender be publicly rejected and ostracized.
The tone of retired Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper’s attack on Berger’s plan takes exactly this approach. He argues that, should Berger’s reforms take hold, the Corps “will become something unrecognizable to those legions of Marines who went before.”
In his book “Leading Change,” John Kotter recommended eight steps for proposed changes to become enduring transformations. Arguably, Berger failed to include the second step, “create a guiding coalition,” by not bringing in every retired Marine general officer with an interest in the project.
Setting aside for a moment the difficulties of coming to a consensus on such a momentous plan using a committee of dozens, retired Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold observed that, “it was apparent that course had been set and counsel [from beyond a small circle] was not needed or accepted.”
What Newbold and others, notably former ­Secretary of the Navy and U.S. Senator James Webb, conveniently have downplayed is that, far from having sprung the changes on an unsuspecting Corps or inattentive Congress, Berger and his supporters did yeomen’s work in communicating the need for change and the justifications for specific decisions.
At its root, opposition to Force Design 2030 appears to derive from a perception that Berger’s plan challenges the Corps’ culture and is “antithetical to the Marine Corps’ sense of identity.”
Although to date only two authors have invoked former commandant Gen. Alexander Vandegrift’s 1947 “No Bended Knee” speech to the Senate Armed Services Committee, such allusions permeate the narratives of Berger’s opponents, who bemoan the supposed loss of the Corps’ status and reputation as “a homogeneous, all-encompassing ‘force in readiness’ that can go anywhere and fight anyone on any level short of nuclear war.”
Despite retired Gen. Anthony Zinni’s prediction that Berger’s plan “to convert the whole Marine Corps to one concept of employment” is wrong-headed, an identical decision is what created the very foundation on which the Corps’ current identity rests.
During the 1933–1934 academic year, the students and faculty of the Marine Corps Staff College developed a completely new doctrine, aligned with War Plan Orange, in order to prevent the Corps from becoming simply an adjunct of the Army. In doing so, those long-ago Marines created the very precedent that Berger now follows.
This is exactly what the Department of Defense and federal legislation expect him to do.
Title 10 of the federal legal code stipulates that the Marine Corps “shall be organized, trained, and equipped to provide fleet marine forces of combined arms, together with supporting air components, for service with the fleet in the seizure or defense of ­advanced naval bases and for the conduct of such land operations as may be essential to the prosecution of a naval campaign.”
Note that the code does not specify the make-up or specific capabilities of the combined-arms formations to be included.
Finally, it must be acknowledged that every one of Berger’s retired Marine general officer opponents boasts a career path that bears far more congruence to those of their U.S. Army contemporaries than their Marine antecedents. Since the Korean War, Marines have fought in ways that have made the Corps indistinguishable from the United States Army.
The United States Marine Corps has not conducted an operationally significant amphibious forced-entry operation in combat since Sept. 15, 1950, when the 1st Marine Division (and the US Army’s 7th Infantry Division!) landed at Inchon, Korea.
The United States does not need and cannot afford two armies with identical capabilities.
Berger’s plans aim to return the Corps to its traditional maritime focus and identity, a move that, like the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi in February 1945, “will ensure the survival of the Marine Corps for the next 500 years.”
Berger has taken to heart U.S. Army Gen. Eric Shinseki’s admonition that, “If you don’t like change, you’ll hate irrelevance.”
It’s time for his critics to do so as well.
Tom Hanson is a retired infantry Army colonel with over 28 years of service. He earned a Ph.D. in history from The Ohio State University and is a professor of military history at the U.S. Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies.
The opinions above are his alone, and do not reflect the position of the School of Advanced Military Studies, Army University or the U.S. Army.

8. First Public UFO Hearing In Over 50 Years To Be Held By Congress Next Week

Dana Scullly: “The truth is out there. But so are lies.”

First Public UFO Hearing In Over 50 Years To Be Held By Congress Next Week
Congress will hold its first open hearings on UFOs since the end of Project Blue Book over five decades ago.
BY
MAY 10, 2022 3:51 PM
thedrive.com · by Howard Altman · May 10, 2022
Two senior U.S. military officials are scheduled to testify next week at the first open Congressional hearing on UFOs in more than 50 years.
“Americans need to know more about these unexplained occurrences,” Indiana Democrat Andre Carson announced Tuesday morning in a tweet.
Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security Ronald S. Moultrie and Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott W. Bray are scheduled to testify May 17 before the House Intelligence Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation Subcommittee.
“The American people expect and deserve their leaders in government and intelligence to seriously evaluate and respond to any national security risks - especially those we do not fully understand,” Carson, the subcommittee chairman, said in a media release.
The hearing comes as U.S. officials have a heightened concern about what the Pentagon is calling “unknown aerial phenomenon” or UAPs. But really, this latest chain of events begun with a New York Times article in late 2017 detailing the existence of a past DoD program that looked into UFOs (among other bizarre things) and how the issue remains unresolved according to a bevy of new sightings.
Since then, there has been a five-year trickle of new evidence, the emergence of a Pentagon UFO whistleblower of sorts, a media blitz by other DoD employees and intelligence officials, and closed hearings on Capitol Hill, all of which resulted in a highly anticipated but inconclusive official report on the issue that was made public in June of 2021. Not long after, the Pentagon created a new organization to search for answers about mysterious objects in the sky, especially over military installations and training ranges, and the demand from Congress to take the topic seriously was codified into law.
As it sits today, the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, nested in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security, will investigate where those objects came from and what threats they might pose.
“Incursions by any airborne object into our [Special Use Airspace] pose safety of flight and operations security concerns, and may pose national security challenges,” the Pentagon said at the time. “DOD takes reports of incursions — by any airborne object, identified or unidentified — very seriously, and investigates each one.”
Nearly six months later, however, that new organization, with the unwieldy acronym of AOIMSG, is still staffing up, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told The War Zone Tuesday afternoon.
“We're still working to sufficiently staff that organization and get them into a battle rhythm," Kirby said.
Of huge concern to the military is whether at least some of these objects are adversary drones or other platforms that have been able to freely penetrate areas used for the military's most sensitive training, something The War Zone examined in detail. You can read the full report on that here.
Kirby said the Pentagon doesn't "have a view on" whether these objects might belong to an adversary like China or Russia.
"There's been enough of the sightings, particularly in terms of training ranges, that we have legitimate safety of flight concerns here," Kirby told The War Zone. "But the department hasn't come to a conclusion about what all these phenomena are - what they represent. That's why we're putting this group together so that we can do a better job of just collating information."
The Pentagon has previously taken an "ad hoc" approach toward reports about these objects, Kirby said, "in terms of a pilot here or a pilot there seeing something. And then reporting procedures haven't been consistent. So what we're trying to do with this group, is get together a process here."
Among the more troubling such episodes was a series of 2019 incidents involving unidentified drones stalking US Navy vessels over several nights in the waters off of Southern California. The sea service appeared to struggle to identify either the aircraft or their operators. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday later clarified that the aircraft were never identified, and that there have been similar incidents across the service branches and allied militaries.
You can read our full reporting on these incidents herehere, and here.
An examination by The War Zone of Federal Aviation Administration records last year not only found several incidents we previously reported - including nearly two dozen unusual incidents involving military aircraft or training ranges - but also leads on new and highly unusual incidents. They range from puzzling high altitude encounters to craft described as cylinders and even discs.
You can read the full report on those incidents here.
And, if you want to investigate for yourself, check out our interactive database with thousands of FAA drone and unidentified aircraft incident reports here.
Next week's hearing will focus on the AOIMSG, and “ensure the Department of Defense's ongoing work is rigorous, stigma-reducing, and focused on key national security objectives, as well as ensure this work is conducted with the transparency that the American people expect and deserve,” a committee official told The War Zone Tuesday afternoon.
“This hearing - the first open hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on UAPs - will help answer basic questions for the American public and further oversight of the Department of Defense,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the nature of the hearing.
Congress, said the source, “has tasked the Department to establish a task force aimed at answering the serious questions around UAPs, and to ensure their work is rigorous; stigma-reducing; focused on key national security objectives; and transparently communicated to the public. This hearing is part of the effort to ensure the Department is on the right track.”
After the hearing, the subcommittee will hold a closed, classified hearing on the same topic.
The last time there was a Congressional hearing into UFOs was after the Air Force wrapped up “Project Blue Book” in 1969.
Blue Book examined more than 12,000 UFO sightings between 1947 and 1969 and found more than 700 remained unidentified.
However, there are differences between Project Blue Book and the ongoing Pentagon review.
While there has been no link to extraterrestrials in either (so far at least), Project Blue Book found whatever was out there to be far more benign.
“No UFO reported, investigated, and evaluated by the Air Force has ever given any indication of threat to our national security,” according to a National Archives summary of the findings. “There has been no evidence submitted to or discovered by the Air Force that sightings categorized as "unidentified" represent technological developments or principles beyond the range of present-day scientific knowledge.”
There remains major controversy surrounding the report and its aftermath.
Given that there is now a national security concern over these objects, and it is unknown, at least publicly, the science behind these objects, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, wants answers from the Pentagon.
“There's still much to learn about unidentified aerial phenomena and the potential risks they may pose to our national security,” said Schiff. “But one thing is sure – the American people deserve full transparency, and the federal government and Intelligence Community have a critical role to play in contextualizing and analyzing reports of UAPs.”
Kirby told The War Zone the Pentagon is "looking forward to the upcoming opportunity to engage members of Congress on this very important matter."
The Pentagon, he said, is "absolutely committed to being as transparent as we can with the American people and with members of Congress about our perspectives on this and what we're going to try to do to make sure we have a better process for identifying these phenomena, analyzing that information in a more proactive, coordinated way than it's been done in the past. And that we also are doing what we need to do to mitigate any safety issues, as many of these phenomena have been sighted in training ranges and in training environments."
Contact the author: howard@thewarzone
thedrive.com · by Howard Altman · May 10, 2022


9. Putin’s Bad Math: The Root of Russian Miscalculation in Ukraine

Conclusion:

American leaders, military officers, strategists, and commentators have been euphoric watching the vaunted Russian war machine sink up to the axle in Ukrainian mud, but it was not that long ago that the United States was embroiled in a costly quagmire of its own. Our schadenfreude should be tempered by the realizations that this has happened to us in the past and can happen again unless we correct our military math. As we peer into the mists and squalls of the unknown future, we would be wise to heed the words of Winston Churchill. “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.”

Putin’s Bad Math: The Root of Russian Miscalculation in Ukraine - Modern War Institute
mwi.usma.edu · by Joseph M. Donato · May 10, 2022
The bear is snared. After more than two months of war, the Russian campaign in Ukraine has stalled. The stalemate settling across the battlefield has left legions of analysts, strategists, and statesmen bewildered. Some predicted a quagmire from the outset, but most seasoned military observers expected Russia to dominate the battlefield within the opening week of the war. Despite Russia’s claim that its “special military operation” is proceeding according to plan, the signs of a grave military miscalculation are mounting. The UK minister of defence estimates that over fifteen thousand Russian troops have been killed in action since the start of the war, and Russian factories are straining to replace the hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles that have been destroyed. As the battered Russian forces regroup in the Donbas, the Western military commentariat is assiduously assessing how Europe’s largest conventional army became embroiled in a grinding war of attrition against an ostensibly inferior opponent.
Some attribute the morass in Ukraine to megalomania on the part of Vladimir Putin, or the poor planning of the Russian military high command. Of course, the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people has played its part. But I argue that the root cause of the Russian crisis in Ukraine is more mundane. The Russian military has stalled because the theory of victory that undergirded its campaign was based on an assessment of will, not means. This flaw is rooted in a common transposition of military mathematics. Devising a theory of victory that hinges on breaking the will of the enemy, as opposed to overwhelming the enemy’s capacity to resist, is tenuous at best, and catastrophic at worst. This oft-ignored but sobering reality is playing out before the eyes of the world in Ukraine.
On the matter of exertion of strength in war, Clausewitz wrote, “If you want to overcome your enemy you must match your effort against his power of resistance, which can be expressed as the product of two inseparable factors, viz. the total means at his disposal and the strength of his will.” In his classic analysis. “Theory of Victory,” J. Boone Bartholomees Jr. expresses this dictum as a mathematical formula: r = m x w, in which r represents the power of resistance, m the total means available, and w the strength of will. In this formulation, victory is reached when r approaches zero, through the reduction of m or w. Since human will is mercurial and incorporeal, however, the measure of material means must carry the greatest weight in the estimation of enemy resistance and the formulation of military strategy. One can never be sure of the intentions of the adversary, but one can be sure of the destructive power of Javelin missiles.
Material means and will are inseparable in war, and the complex interplay between the two presents innumerable challenges for a strategist. Indeed, Napoleon Bonaparte famously observed that in war “the moral is to the physical as three is to one.” Prudence dictates, therefore, that theories of victory factor in the multiplicative power of will on means. Tolstoy noted in War in Peace that “the relative strength of bodies of troops can never be known to anyone.” Indeed, a battalion in the enemy order of battle might fight with the combat strength of a battalion or a division depending on its disposition, equipment, and motivation. It would be improvident, therefore, to assume the former when devising a campaign plan. This is not to say that the enemy order of battle should be automatically multiplied for the sake of an axiom, but it would be wise to consider the possibility, especially when troops are fighting to defend their native soil. Too often in war, planners place their hope for victory on the collapse of the ever-mercurial enemy will. This strategy obviates the cardinal virtue of prudence that should guide sound strategy.
The Rhythm and Rhyme of History
In Barbarossa, his classic history of the struggle between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union, the British historian Alan Clark describes Adolf Hitler’s appraisal of Russian fighting potential on the eve of the campaign as such: “Hitler dismissed the latent strength of [the Red Army]. He believed that the Soviet military machine was so riddled with Communism, insecurity, suspicion, and informants, and so demoralized by the purges that it could not function properly. . . . ‘You have only to kick in the door,’ he told Rundstedt, ‘and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.” In the mind of the German dictator, the Soviet Union was a house of cards that would implode under the weight of the onslaught. German intelligence estimates of Russian military strength were ominously vague in the run-up to the invasion, but this did not deter Hitler. The latent economic and military might of the Soviet Union was irrelevant. The looming struggle would be a triumph of the will. Six months into the campaign, however, the “whole rotten structure” stood firm. Despite the shock and fury of the German attack, the battered Russian armies remained in the field, roused to the heroic defense of their motherland. Forests and swamps teemed with guerrillas, hampering the movement of Nazi supplies and harassing overstretched lines of communication. In blinding snow, the German advance ground to a halt at the gates of the Russian capital and doomed Hitler to his downfall.
More than a century before the panzers clattered across the Russian frontier, another invader endeavored to conquer Russia. Despite his tactical and operational genius, Napoleon was prone to strategic miscalculation. This was rooted in his deep and abiding faith in his superior intuition, intellect, and destiny. This sense of superiority was not altogether undeserved but nonetheless clouded his judgment at a crucial moment in his rule of France and led him into one of the greatest blunders in military history. On the eve of his fateful invasion of Russia, Tsar Alexander I emphatically warned Napoleon that if he chose war, “he [Napoleon] would have to go to the ends of the earth to find peace.” During their last peacetime meeting, the tsar spread a map over the table and swept his hand across the vast expanse of Russian territory to emphasize his point. The French emperor was unmoved and chose to challenge the sincerity of the tsar’s declaration when he sent his Grande Armée streaming across the river Niemen.
Napoleon had few illusions about the vastness of Russia, its punishing climate, or the size of its population, but he wagered that he could force the tsar to terms before those forces were brought to bear. As he advanced deeper and deeper across the boundless expanse of European Russia, he clung ever more tenaciously to this hope. Not even the greatest military commander since Alexander the Great was immune to wishful thinking. At the height of summer, he confidently told an aide that the tsar would sue for peace within two months. In retrospect, his boast was based on a tangle of fallacies and illusions about the mettle of his opponent, rather than a sober assessment of the means the tsar could mobilize to resist the French invasion.
Vladimir Putin is not Hitler or Napoleon, but there are striking similarities between the flawed theory of victory that undergirded his foray into Ukraine and their doomed invasions of Russia. Putin was convinced that the whole structure of the Ukrainian state would come crashing down under the weight of the Russian attack. He seized on a theory of victory that obviated the need to comprehensively defeat the Ukrainian army in the field. He expected his forces to crash across the border in strength and swiftly collapse the unpopular government in Kyiv, enabling a resurgent Russia to decisively disarm, dismember, and dominate its wayward western neighbor.
The deadlock in the Donbass underscores the folly of Putin’s prewar plans. Did he dismiss the vast stocks of Ukrainian weapons and ammunition, or overlook the difficulty of the terrain and complexity of the logistics needs? The Russian army has salient structural flaws, but despite the claims of some Western scholars, it is not fundamentally incompetent. The Russian army is struggling to win this war because it did not plan to fight a general war against a determined and resilient enemy. It did not mobilize the mass and firepower necessary to overwhelm the Ukrainian forces in the opening phase of the war. Its leaders kept tens of thousands of soldiers in the dark about the operation, setting the state for a crisis in morale. Russian planners chose a needlessly complex operational scheme of maneuver and failed to stockpile sufficient supplies and ammunition to sustain their momentum. It is counterfactual, but still valuable, to assess how the war might be going if the Russian army had been prepared. I do not assert that any combatant can fight a flawless campaign, but I attribute the bulk of the Russian setbacks to the flawed theory of victory, not a fundamental lack of military competence.
The Strange Voyage
Russia is not doomed to defeat in Ukraine. Indeed, the Russian forces may yet blast and bludgeon their way across large tracts of eastern Ukraine. At some point in the future, Putin might mount the rostrum in Red Square and declare mass mobilization of the Russian people. Unwilling or politically unable to cut his losses, he might commit his country to total war. In the end, the weight of Russian numbers may tip the scales in his favor, but the fruits of that kind of victory would be little more than ashes in his mouth. The declared strategic aim of the campaign—the disarmament of Ukraine—does not appear imminent or even attainable unless Russia commits to a longer war. That is because the central assumption of the Russian campaign—that Ukrainian will would collapse—was born of a delusion. These delusions, like most wishful thinking, arise in the delta between available means and desired ends. Rather than accept that a political goal might be unattainable, proud leaders often sink into wishful thinking; they ignore the potential parade of horribles that any war invites and fixate on a formulation that will deliver their desired aims. This should ominously resonate with American strategists.
No matter how the Russian campaign unfolds from here, the “special operation” has devolved into a costly mess. Russian forces are stalled, their losses are mounting, and the economic screws are tightening. Adam Smith wisely noted that there is a great deal of ruin in a nation, so Russia will likely weather the storm of sanctions, but as the war drags on, the economic crisis will deepen and the pressure on the Putin regime will mount. At this point, a negotiated settlement seems to be the only sensible option, but wounded authoritarians are prone to double down when facing failure. The forlorn but evidently palpable hope that Putin will cut his losses and slunk back across the border seems detached from the reality of the existential crisis facing the Russian leadership. What incentive does Putin have to deescalate? Propriety, decency, and a regard for human life? Such considerations rarely enter the minds of revanchist despots.
American leaders, military officers, strategists, and commentators have been euphoric watching the vaunted Russian war machine sink up to the axle in Ukrainian mud, but it was not that long ago that the United States was embroiled in a costly quagmire of its own. Our schadenfreude should be tempered by the realizations that this has happened to us in the past and can happen again unless we correct our military math. As we peer into the mists and squalls of the unknown future, we would be wise to heed the words of Winston Churchill. “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.”
Joe Donato currently serves as a military intelligence officer in the United States Army Reserve. He is a veteran of Operation Inherent Resolve, where he served as a political-military advisor to the commander of a combined joint task force in Iraq from 2018 to 2019. He holds a BA in history from Seton Hall University and an MA in security studies from Georgetown University. He lives in Washington, DC.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.
Image credit: kremlin.ru, via Wikimedia Commons
mwi.usma.edu · by Joseph M. Donato · May 10, 2022


10. Will Washington Learn from China’s Successful Stroke in the Solomon Islands?
Excerpts:
If the Chinese are smart, they will immediately deploy a team to remove the UXO left by the U.S. and the Empire of Japan, an PR opportunity that will play well at home and in the Solomons by making the Japanese the co-culprit and exploiting still-strong Chinese memories of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.
As the world embarks on the Asian Century, America must decide if its “with us or against us” catechism is relevant in the contest with a rival that will be more economically and militarily powerful, and more culturally coherent, than the Soviet Union. Its road show performance in the Solomons may be a preview of how it will behave on opening night.
Will Washington Learn from China’s Successful Stroke in the Solomon Islands? | Defense.info
05/10/2022By James Durso
defense.info · May 10, 2022
China has no shortage of political sages but, in its recent move on the Solomon Islands, Beijing was channeling the American philosophes Woody Allen (“80 percent of success is showing up”) and George Washington Plunkitt (“I seen my opportunities and I took ’em.”)
Washington, which probably confused the Solomon Islands with American Samoa, reacted with fury that China was trying to establish close relations with another Pacific nation. But someone found a map and a bevy of officials was dispatched, arriving too late to avert the signing of the framework agreement on security cooperation – which was not shared with the Americans, to their dismay.
The last Americans to leave in such a rush for the Solomons were the U.S. Marines in 1942 as Japan started building naval and air bases in the islands. But since then, it’s been flyover country.
The head of the U.S. delegation said the U.S. would respond – and didn’t rule out military action – if China established a military presence on the islands. U.S. ally Australia played the bad cop and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison thundered a Chinese base would be a “red line” for his country and the U.S., and was likewise vague about retribution.
In a follow-on statement the U.S. offered less stick and more carrot, promising “[to] expedite the opening of an embassy in Solomon Islands; advance cooperation on unexploded ordinance; launch a program on maritime domain awareness; dispatch the Mercy hospital ship to address public health; advance a dialogue on the return of the Peace Corps; deliver additional vaccines; and advance initiatives on climate, health, and people-to-people ties.”
The prime minister of the Solomons, Manasseh Sogavare, then accused Australia of hypocrisy by not informing it in advance that Canberra would join the anti-China AUKUS security pact with the U.S. and UK. Prime Minister Morrison noted the Solomons didn’t raise any objections when informed of the pact, but that was probably because the smaller nation knew it would be wasting its time.
The issue has roiled national politics in Australia where the opposition Labor party accused the governing coalition of failing to act when news about the pending pact surfaced in 2021. Since the “China threat” is the rage these days, Prime Minister Morrison accused China of timing the agreement to influence Australia’s federal elections in May.
Washington and Canberra will be anxious to move on and not reflect on the policy or intelligence failures that abetted China’s success. Threatening “red lines” to a country whose exports to the U. S. in 2020 amounted to $3.3 million, most of that processed fish, is absurd and an aid-in-kind donation to China’s propaganda work.
On the other hand, the Solomons exported $316 million dollars in goods to China in 2020, most of that rough wood and aluminum ore. Exports to China have increased at an annualized rate of 26.9%, from $815k in 1995 to $316M in 2020, and China is the #1 export destination of the islands.
Despite Obama administration talk of a “pivot to Asia,” the U.S. was distracted by its two-decade campaign in the Middle East and Afghanistan. But China paid attention to its neighbors and did the logical thing by expanding its trade, military, and diplomatic presence in the region. As a status-quo power, the U.S. finally reacted, but probably only because ally Australia is concerned.
Washington can respond by increasing naval patrols in the area to deter China, but that may not work given China’s increasingly assertive military moves in the South China Sea and over Taiwan. And sending naval vessels to the South Pacific may further tax the U.S. Navy which has too few ships that are suffering from readiness shortfalls, and may actually help China by pulling assets away from the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. And the Navy’s rusty warships won’t impress China’s admirals.
What the U.S. can send is money, and that may have been Sogavare’s plan all along. If the U.S., Australia, Japan, and China send cash to Honiara he may get a boost in next year’s election, though the U.S. and its allies will probably support his opposition (just don’t call it “election interference!”)
In the 1970s, USAID’s development spending shifted away from “technical and capital assistance programs,” that is, hard infrastructure like roads, bridges, and airports to a “basic human needs” approach focused on food and nutrition, health, and education. It was probably thought this tack would build long-term relationships and influence with client groups in the target counties. But that relationship building is unattractive to politicians in many countries that want to focus on economic development and don’t welcome the cat’s paw of foreign assistance that looks a lot like building their political opposition.
U.S. relations with the Solomons have focused on things like climate change, small-scale infrastructure, forestry, small enterprise development, water and sanitation, and pandemic response, but nary a word about investment that generated kilowatt-hours or road-miles.
Meanwhile, China has become the world’s go-to supplier of roads, bridges, airports, seaports, railroads, and telecoms infrastructure. It lacks America’s soft power so has elected to master civil engineering to counter the West’s program of social engineering.
The Solomons joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2019 and the key project is the $825 million investment in the Gold Ridge mine that will include development of power and port facilities, roads, rail and bridges, an effort that strikes some observers as excessive for a single mine with a known production history. The Gold Ridge project is financed by China, but future projects may be financed by Chinese loans which have come under scrutiny lately with allegations China is practicing “debt-trap diplomacy.”
China’s loan agreements are written to benefit the lender (no surprise there), and its expectations are transparent, like not hosting the Dali Lama or backing Taiwan. Beijing’s terms and the fact that it does not involve itself in the formation of political institutions in countries that receive development aid may make it attractive, especially in parts of the world where “American values” now means transgender bathrooms, urban violence, and rampant drug abuse, and no one recalls the successes of the U.S.-fostered Green Revolution and Plan Colombia.
And countries like the Solomons won’t cede the moral high ground to the U.S. and Australia after they blocked a proposal to the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual property rules and allow widespread production of the vaccines (though the U.S. reversed its stance in early 2021, and Australia and the COVAX program later provided AstraZeneca vaccines and China provided the Sinopharm vaccine.)
And if the Aussies whinge about serving in the Solomons alongside “ruthless” Chinese units that repressed demonstrators in Hong King, Canberra sure won’t appreciate Chinese spokesmen reminding them of the war crimes committed by their elite commando unit in Afghanistan.
What to do?
First, stop bullying every country that seeks to establish mutually beneficial relations with China. Every successful move by China isn’t a strategic disaster for the U.S. and, if America hadn’t blown its allowance in Afghanistan, it would have the bandwidth and money to pre-empt Beijing’s moves. Panicking just motivates China and encourages foreign leaders to get close to China to force the Americans to pay attention and pay up.
Second, understand that China will continue to expand in its neighborhood. Former U.S. president Barack Obama said Iran and Saudi Arabia must “share the neighborhood,” so will the U.S. and China do the same in the Pacific? China probably thinks it’s playing defense and countering the numerous U.S. bases that are within 200 miles of its mainland, by hopping over the Second Island Chain, a barrier controlled by the U.S. and its allies that will be used help to encircle China and deny it access to the wider Pacific.
As its wealth grows, Beijing becomes more confident and soon its GDP will exceed America’s in exchange-rate terms, possibly by 2029. (China’s GDP already exceeds America’s in Purchasing Power Parity terms.) China will have more people and more money (it doesn’t have the burden of America’s worldwide military commitments that may soon cost it $1 trillion a year) and may be able to concentrate its military, economic, and political forces on its priority objectives in the Pacific.
Public hyperventilating that the agreement has transformed the Solomons – which are 1200 miles from Australia, and 6,000 miles from the U.S. – into a “Pacific flashpoint” won’t contribute to a constructive solution, but will contribute to the national security establishment’s habit of threat inflation which distracts from real problems, but increases budgets and influence.
Third, Goose meet Gander. If the U.S. thinks Ukraine can freely choose to join NATO, why can’t the Solomon Islands freely choose its partners?
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared, “When we say that we want a free and open Indo-Pacific…we mean that on a state level, that individual countries will be able to choose their own path and their own partners.” The U.S. has no obligation to pay for projects in the Solomons if it aligns itself with China, but an appreciation that a small country should be free to choose its own path will increase Washington’s credibility in the long term, even if it doesn’t win every round. But Washington is probably sensitive to the appearance of a second retreat in a year after the NATO defeat in Afghanistan, so it’s making a last stand on the Solomons.
Fourth, make a better offer. The U.S. hates bidding wars as it feels its offering is above all others, but you can’t eat politics and “engagement” – unless you are one of the local NGO cup-bearers who scores a U.S. contract.
Development scorecards, like the one for the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s effort in the Solomons highlight statistics for the usual stuff like “civil liberties” and “government effectiveness” but nary a mention of “jobs created.” Business isn’t the strong suit of development bureaucrats and diplomats, but the U.S. government can steal a march on China if it makes local job creation Job One without the hard to quantify (and that’s no accident) stuff like “Investing in People.” This will strike China’s weak spot as it is notorious for importing Chinese labor for its investments instead of training and hiring locals.
Last, clean up those unexploded World War 2 bombs. It has been almost 80 years since the end of the war in the Pacific but cleaning up the unexploded ordnance (UXO) is apparently only a priority for the Solomons. The U.S. Department of Defense admits UXO is “a serious hazard to the population and preventing land from being used by the very poor population,” an accurate assessment that is not backed up by real money which, in the early 2010s, amounted to less than $1 million annually for all the Pacific Islands.
If the Chinese are smart, they will immediately deploy a team to remove the UXO left by the U.S. and the Empire of Japan, an PR opportunity that will play well at home and in the Solomons by making the Japanese the co-culprit and exploiting still-strong Chinese memories of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.
As the world embarks on the Asian Century, America must decide if its “with us or against us” catechism is relevant in the contest with a rival that will be more economically and militarily powerful, and more culturally coherent, than the Soviet Union. Its road show performance in the Solomons may be a preview of how it will behave on opening night.
James Durso (@james_durso) is a regular commentator on foreign policy and national security matters. Mr. Durso served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years and has worked in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Central Asia.
Featured Graphic: Photo 177250393 / Solomon Islands China © Liskonogaleksey | Dreamstime.com
defense.info · May 10, 2022

11. To Win Wars, Cut the U.S. Defense Budget

Excerpts:
It is time to slash America’s defense budget. The money wasted on weapon systems designed to win last century’s wars is staggering, as are the opportunity costs. Cutting the defense budget will improve national security. First, the money saved could be redistributed among the inter-agency more evenly, where it is needed. It is stunning that the Department of Defense receives more discretionary funding than the rest of the inter-agency combined, and it accounts for 11% of all federal spending. If firepower alone won wars, as conventional war strategists assume, then Afghanistan would not have been the longest war in American history. And the United States still lost. Instead, invest in non-kinetic capabilities like savvy coercive diplomacy, cash reserves for economic warfare, and technologies that counter foreign disinformation campaigns. Alternatively, take the Pentagon Dividend and reinvest elsewhere for domestic needs. Secondly, cutting the Department of Defense’s budget will make it hungry and innovative. Scrapping expensive conventional war weapons is a good start. We do not need to cut troops, but we should re-organize, train, and equip them to win the unconventional fight. Ironically, it is what the United States did for the Ukrainian forces; now, let’s do it at home.
“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” This pun on Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s famous words “We have met the enemy and they are ours,” speaks volumes about why strong militaries do not win wars anymore. Conventional warfare is an antiquated form of warfare, and those who rely on it will fail—a lesson President Putin is learning. However, American national security circles must learn it too. Some get it, like retired Admiral Jim Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). So does General David Berger, Marine Commandant. He stripped the tanks and helicopters out of the Corps and is re-configuring it into smaller, nimbler units. Conventional warriors are freaking out, but rigid strategic culture is the enemy of progress.
​Conclusion:​
Warfare has changed since the glory days of 1945. Going forward, we need improved strategic education focused on critical thinking, so our strategists can detect the changing character of war before we fall victim to it, as the French did with their Maginot Line. Otherwise, we spend trillions of dollars preparing to fight the only kind of war we will not face in the future—conventional war—leaving us dangerously vulnerable.
To Win Wars, Cut the U.S. Defense Budget | Merion West
merionwest.com · by Sean McFate · May 9, 2022
(Hisham F. Ibrahim/Getty Images)
“It is time to slash the United States defense budget. The money wasted on weapon systems designed to win last century’s wars is staggering, as are the opportunity costs.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the tank-shot heard around the world, especially by American defense hawks. President Joe Biden is now one of them, shocking his Democratic base. The White House requested $813.3 billion for national defense for the 2023 budget, the largest request in history. To put that big number into perspective, it is about 40,000 new high schools. It is more than Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by a whopping 18%. Were it seconds, it would be 25,763 years. Measured in miles, it is 95 roundtrips to Pluto at its farthest point from Earth. The United States spends more on defense than the next 11 biggest militaries combined, including Russia and China, and has been for years.
Defense spending is Washington’s cocaine habit. Some cheer for it. The obvious winners are Beltway Bandits like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamic, and Northrup Grumman, whose stocks have risen sharply since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. On Capitol Hill, the war has become a cause célèbre for hawks, making it a key talking point for the upcoming midterm elections. 40 Republicans from the Senate and House Armed Services Committees urged President Biden to include a 5% increase above inflation for defense in his proposed 2023 budget. Democrats are seething. Less than a year after the United States’ shambolic withdrawal from Afghanistan that ended a 20-year war, President Biden is boosting the military budget by nearly $30 billion. The Left had hoped to shift money away from overseas wars toward domestic problems. However, even some Democrats are pushing for more defense spending in the face of an increasingly belligerent Russia and China.
But why does everyone assume that more money means more security?
Colossal defense budgets did not win American wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where we struggled against Luddites fighting in flip-flops and AK-47s. Expensive tanks and fighter jets proved worthless in these wars, while the enemy used cheap, low-tech roadside bombs that American forces could never fully defeat. There should be a lesson here for American strategists, but they refuse to learn it. Instead, they increase the defense budget, the very definition of insanity. Rather than throw money at the problem, let’s solve it.
Washington suffers from a low strategic IQ. Remember all those experts and retired generals on television during the first week of the Russian invasion and how they expected Ukraine to fall within a week? It is what President Vladimir Putin thought, too. They were all spectacularly wrong, yet somehow still employed. In the defense world, this level of blunder is called “strategic surprise”; think of Pearl Harbor, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and September 11th. Intelligence failures of this scale are due to “cognitive limitation,” a social science term for stupidity.
There is a saying: “Generals always fight the last war, especially if they won it.” This truism happens to be true. When it comes to seeing the future of war, nations turn to the past—or, rather, past successes. We like to study victories that make us feel good and ignore the unpleasant lessons of failure. This is how we get sucker-punched by the future, usually at a heavy cost. On the eve of World War I, European militaries were practicing Napoleonic horse drills, leaving them unprepared for the slaughter of the trenches. Afterwards, the victorious Allies remained fixated on static trench warfare and built the Maginot Line only to be blindsided by the blitzkrieg of World War II. The Germans evolved their way of warfare while the French remained stuck in the past and were conquered.
Like the French in the 1930s, one of the United States’ most serious problems today is that we do not know what war is, and, if we do not understand it, then we cannot win it. French historian Marc Bloch witnessed the German blitzkrieg crush the French military in 1940 and lamented how “our leaders…were incapable of thinking in terms of new war…[their] minds were too inelastic.” American minds are too inelastic today. Instead of preparing for modern war, we are stuck in our own Maginot mentality. We imagine future wars based on our past successes rather than current conflict trends, and this guarantees strategic surprise.
The American paradigm of war is World War II, the last time the United States won a big war decisively. My grandfather fought and was shot in the Battle of the Bulge, and he called it the “good war.” Others say it was fought by the “greatest generation.” Nearly 80 years on, the demand for World War II movies appears unstoppable, and the supply is inexhaustible. Like a handsome man in uniform, World War II films never really go out of style. There are over 400 unique titles of World War II movies, and at least four more this past year. This war remains iconic because it is the last time the West won authoritatively, unlike today. The frustrations that followed, from Korea to Afghanistan, are either forgotten or dismissed as “quagmires.”
World War II remains paradigmatic for experts too, who view this style of warfare as timeless and universal. Generals describe it using normative language: conventional war, symmetrical war, and regular war. I like the term “conventional war,” but they all mean the same thing. So strong is this dogma that other types of warfare are labelled unconventional, asymmetrical, or irregular. These are snubs. Wars waged by non-state actors are not legitimized as “war” but as mere criminality. For example, “Narco-Wars” in Latin America can kill more people than wars in the Middle East in a given year, yet they are inexplicably not considered war by the international community. Over 800,000 people were killed in 90 days during the Rwandan Genocide, yet it is somehow not war but a mass homicide. By contrast, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan combined over 20 years total about 929,000 deaths. To claim that Rwanda is “sub-war” compared to the Middle East is ignorant and a sign of conventional warfare bias.
World War II is the epitome of conventional warfare: state-on-state conflict where the primary instrument is brute force and big battles determine nations’ fates. Think of how Stalingrad, D-Day, and Midway changed the course of WWII victory and how we celebrate them. Other elements of national power such as diplomacy, economics, and information take a subordinate role to the military, which fights with industrial strength armed forces. It is a military-centric vision of international relations and why armed forces cling to it and remain smitten to its call. Honor matters, as do the laws of war, and citizens are expected to serve their country in uniform with patriotic zeal. It is why we say, “Thank you for your service” to vets in the airport.
The high priest of conventional war theory is Carl Von Clausewitz, a Prussian general from the Napoleonic era. A hagiography exists around the man, and his book On War is enshrined as the Bible of war. When I teach this text to senior officers at the war college, the room grows silent with reverence. His ideas constitute the DNA of American strategic thought, and a few of his concepts have even made it into popular culture, like the “fog of war.”
There is just one problem: No one fights “conventionally” anymore. Until this year, the last conventional wars took place in the 1980s, and the last one in Europe was sparked by Hitler. Like most things, conventional warfare is neither timeless nor universal but has a beginning, middle, and end: Napoleon, the Crimean War, and World War II, respectively. Today, there is nothing more unconventional than a “conventional war.” The Uppsala Conflict Data Program, a respected data set in social sciences, evidences this trend: Interstate and extrastate wars since World War II have declined to near zero, yet violence has not waned. Armed conflict has increased since the Cold War, and the number of conflict deaths in 2015 surpassed any in the post-Cold War period.
Conventional warfare went extinct because it no longer delivers victory. The nuclear age made conventional warfare between great powers untenable for fear of mutual annihilation. Instead, they fought indirectly through proxy wars around the world, but even these were not conventional. Superpowers that tried to fight conventionally failed: The French lost in Indochina and Algeria, the British in Palestine and Cyprus, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and the United States in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In each case, the superpower tried to adapt its conventional military to non-conventional circumstance and flopped. They won battles but lost wars. Nothing exemplifies this trend better than President George W. Bush standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier and declaring “mission accomplished” after the American military achieved perfect battlefield victory over the Iraqi armed forces in 2003. According to conventional theory, it should produce decisive victory. But it was irrelevant, and “mission accomplished” has become a meme for clueless failure. Battlefield victory no longer guarantees success in war because conventional warfare is obsolete in today’s geopolitical landscape. Other things win, and some of the best weapons do not fire bullets.
We are not alone in our low strategic IQ. Until recently, President Putin was a case study in strategic savvy, capturing the Crimea with ease in 2015 and turning Russia into a feared power once more. Until recently. Russia is failing in Ukraine because it mounted a conventional warfare invasion in a post-conventional warfare era. Like American television pundits, President Putin assumed his conventional war juggernaut would crush the Ukrainians in days. But the Russian Blitzkrieg did not cow Ukrainians any more than the United States’ “shock and awe” campaign intimidated Iraqis in 2003. The tank-on-tank battles expected by traditionalists have not occurred, and they probably will not.
Russia’s 40-mile column of Russian tanks stuck on the road to Kyiv is an apt example of conventional warfare’s problems today. Exasperated, President Putin has abandoned conventional warfare and is opting for full-on medieval warfare. His new commander General Aleksandr Dvornikov is notorious for cruelty such as flattening cities and massacring civilians, as seen in Grozny, Aleppo, and Bucha. For him, war crimes are not a problem but a tactic. Russia’s new approach takes from the Conan the Barbarian school of strategy: Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!
Meanwhile, the plucky Ukrainians are winning using unconventional warfare strategies and guerilla tactics. The humble Javelin missile costs $174,000 and has thwarted, with Ukrainian courage, a billion-dollar-a-day Russian conventional force. Two Neptune anti-ship missiles sank the Russian flagship Moskva, a blow to Russian might. Both demonstrate the obsolescence of tanks and big ships in modern warfare. Unsurprisingly, neither played an important role in any United States war since World War II. While Russia is rolling armor, Ukraine is mobilizing memes and social media to denigrate President Putin and cast Ukraine as David battling evil Goliath. Zingers like President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s “I don’t need a ride, I need more ammunition” win global hearts and minds—and ammunition.
Russia’s conventional war failures are a cautionary tale for Americans who blindly want to increase defense spending as the solution. Like President Putin, American national security circles are largely stuck in the past with a conventional warfare mindset. They imagine future conflicts as World War II with just better technology, a symptom of the Maginot Mentality. They think power challenges by China or Russia will be resolved ultimately on the battlefield. Pentagon planners imagine tank-on-tank combat in eastern Poland and a wargame Battle of Midway-scenario in the Taiwan Straits fought by Ford-class carriers, F-35s, and drones. Yet conflict trends since 1945 are clear: Conventional battles do not win wars anymore. President Putin is learning this the hard way.
Meanwhile, the United States is investing trillions of dollars to win future battlefield fights because their strategic thinking is stuck in the 1940s. Budgets are moral documents because they do not lie. Examining which weapons the Congress and Pentagon buy reveals the kind of war they expect to fight. Every year, the top acquisitions are the same: fighter jets, warships, and tactical vehicles like tanks. These are conventional warfare weapons for a post-conventional warfare age, and they are ridiculously expensive. The Ford class aircraft carrier costs $13 billion per ship, more than Ukraine’s entire defense budget. The F-35 fighter plane program costs $1.7 trillion, more than Russia’s GDP. They are obsolete war junk. Predictably, they played no meaningful role in two decades of wars and would not deter Russian or Chinese aggression. Yet the United States is buying more and pitching allies to do the same.
It is time to slash America’s defense budget. The money wasted on weapon systems designed to win last century’s wars is staggering, as are the opportunity costs. Cutting the defense budget will improve national security. First, the money saved could be redistributed among the inter-agency more evenly, where it is needed. It is stunning that the Department of Defense receives more discretionary funding than the rest of the inter-agency combined, and it accounts for 11% of all federal spending. If firepower alone won wars, as conventional war strategists assume, then Afghanistan would not have been the longest war in American history. And the United States still lost. Instead, invest in non-kinetic capabilities like savvy coercive diplomacy, cash reserves for economic warfare, and technologies that counter foreign disinformation campaigns. Alternatively, take the Pentagon Dividend and reinvest elsewhere for domestic needs. Secondly, cutting the Department of Defense’s budget will make it hungry and innovative. Scrapping expensive conventional war weapons is a good start. We do not need to cut troops, but we should re-organize, train, and equip them to win the unconventional fight. Ironically, it is what the United States did for the Ukrainian forces; now, let’s do it at home.
“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” This pun on Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s famous words “We have met the enemy and they are ours,” speaks volumes about why strong militaries do not win wars anymore. Conventional warfare is an antiquated form of warfare, and those who rely on it will fail—a lesson President Putin is learning. However, American national security circles must learn it too. Some get it, like retired Admiral Jim Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). So does General David Berger, Marine Commandant. He stripped the tanks and helicopters out of the Corps and is re-configuring it into smaller, nimbler units. Conventional warriors are freaking out, but rigid strategic culture is the enemy of progress.
Warfare has changed since the glory days of 1945. Going forward, we need improved strategic education focused on critical thinking, so our strategists can detect the changing character of war before we fall victim to it, as the French did with their Maginot Line. Otherwise, we spend trillions of dollars preparing to fight the only kind of war we will not face in the future—conventional war—leaving us dangerously vulnerable.
Sean McFate is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, Professor at Georgetown University, and author of The New Rules of War: How America Can Win—Against Russia, China, and Other Threats.

merionwest.com · by Sean McFate · May 9, 2022


12. Russia hacked an American satellite company one hour before the Ukraine invasion

Excerpts:
How effective these attacks have been remains an open question. A senior Ukraine official said the Viasat hack resulted in a “huge loss in communications in the very beginning of war” but offered no detail.
Cyber is supporting military operations, but it’ll be a long time before we get a full view of all of the operations in play during this war. It’s clear from the way AcidRain was built, though, that we will likely see it in action again.

Russia hacked an American satellite company one hour before the Ukraine invasion
Technology Review · by Patrick Howell O'Neillarchive page
The attack on Viasat showcases cyber’s emerging role in modern warfare.
By
May 10, 2022

Scenes of destruction on February 25 in Kyiv. Russian hackers launched their own attack just the day before.Pierre Crom/Getty Images
Just an hour before Russian troops invaded Ukraine, Russian government hackers targeted the American satellite company Viasat, officials from the US, EU, and UK said today.
The operation resulted in an immediate and significant loss of communication in the earliest days of the war for the Ukrainian military, which relied on Viasat’s services for command and control of the country’s armed forces.
The Viasat cyberattack is the biggest known hack of the war, says Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade, a threat researcher at the cybersecurity firm SentinelOne "because it’s the most concerted effort to disable Ukrainian military capabilities.” It is also one of the first real-world examples of how cyberattacks can be targeted and timed to amplify military forces on the ground by disrupting and even destroying the technology used by enemy forces.
The attack, on February 24, launched destructive “wiper” malware called AcidRain against Viasat modems and routers, quickly erasing all the data on the system. The machines then rebooted and were permanently disabled. Thousands of terminals were effectively destroyed in this way.
Related Story
Soldiers and tanks may care about national borders. Cyber doesn't.
Guerrero-Saade, who has been at the forefront of research into AcidRain, says that where previous malware used by the Russians was narrowly targeted, AcidRaid is more of an all-purpose weapon.
“What’s massively concerning about AcidRaid is that they’ve taken all the safety checks off,” he says. “With previous wipers, the Russians were careful to only execute on specific devices. Now those safety checks are gone, and they are brute-forcing. They have a capability they can reuse. The question is, what supply-chain attack will we see next?”
The attack has turned out to be typical of the “hybrid” war strategy employed by Moscow, say experts. It was launched in concert with the invasion on the ground. That exact kind of coordination between Russian cyber operations and military forces has been seen at least six times, according to research from Microsoft, underlining the emerging role of cyber in modern warfare.
“Russia’s coordinated and destructive cyberattack before the invasion of Ukraine shows that cyberattacks are used actively and strategically in modern-day warfare, even if the threat and consequences of a cyberattack are not always visible for the public,” the Danish defense minister, Morten Bødskov, said in a statement. “The cyber threat is constant and evolving. Cyberattacks can do great damage to our critical infrastructure, with fatal consequences.”
In this instance, the damage spilled over from Ukraine to affect thousands of internet users and internet-connected wind farms in central Europe. And the implications are even bigger than that: Viasat works with the US military and its partners around the world.
“Obviously, the Russians messed it up,” says Guerrero-Saade. “I don’t think they meant to have so much splash damage and get the European Union involved. They gave the EU pretext to react by having 5,800 German wind turbines and others around the EU impacted.”
Just a few hours before AcidRain began its destructive work against Viasat, Russian hackers used another wiper, called HermeticWiper, against Ukrainian government computers. The playbook was eerily similar, except instead of satellite communications, the targets were Windows machines on networks that, in those early hours of the invasion, would be important for the government in Kyiv to mount an effective resistance.
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How effective these attacks have been remains an open question. A senior Ukraine official said the Viasat hack resulted in a “huge loss in communications in the very beginning of war” but offered no detail.
Cyber is supporting military operations, but it’ll be a long time before we get a full view of all of the operations in play during this war. It’s clear from the way AcidRain was built, though, that we will likely see it in action again.
Technology Review · by Patrick Howell O'Neillarchive page


13. RUSSIAN GENERAL OFFICER GUIDE - MAY 11

A long read with a lot of information about Russian generals.

RUSSIAN GENERAL OFFICER GUIDE - MAY 11
May 10, 2022 - Press ISW


May 11, 2022 Edition
By Mason Clark, Karolina Hird, and Kateryna Stepanenko 
Introduction
This is a guide to the current command structure of the Russian Armed Forces at the General Staff, Military District, and Army/Corps levels. It includes key officers in the Russian General Staff and identifies the commander, chief of staff, and deputy commander for Russia’s four main military districts and their subordinate army and corps-level formations. The current officers occupying each of those roles are included, as well as their biography and verifiable career history. 
This document is not exhaustive, and ISW will update it over time—both to fill information gaps and to expand its coverage to other key structures in the Russian military. This document was assembled using entirely open sources. We have confirmed all of the information herein to the best of our abilities, though there are necessarily gaps—including both unknown officers at different command positions as well as gaps in the biographies of individual officers. We will periodically update this document as new information becomes available and when the occupants of the currently included positions change. We will also expand this document over time to cover other echelons and components of the Russian military. As of now, this document notably does not include Russia’s Northern Military District (previously known as the Northern Fleet), officers at the division echelon and below, the heads of the Russian military’s various Directorates, and branch chiefs.  
We intend this publication as a resource for the military, government, and other researchers. This guide does not include analysis of the implications of Russian career paths, the skills of individual officers, or forecasts of changes in the Russian command structure. We offer it as a resource to policymakers, military researchers, the media, and other NGOs both as a reference and ideally as a springboard for future research – such as identifying the officers responsible for Russian atrocities in Ukraine. We welcome suggestions on use cases or further improvements. We intend to produce updated editions in the future.
Acronyms
CAA- Combined Arms Army
WMD- Western Military District
EMD- Eastern Military District
SMD- Southern Military District
CMD- Central Military District
LNR- Luhansk People’s Republic
DNR- Donetsk People’s Republic
CSTO- Collective Security Treaty Organization
GUR- Ukraine's Main Intelligent Directorate
KIA- Killed in Action


14. Ukraine Accuses Russia of Stealing Its Grain

The nature of the Putin regime. Another crime family cult like organization?
Ukraine Accuses Russia of Stealing Its Grain
Officials say Russian trucks loaded with Ukrainian produce are heading to Russian-annexed Crimea; local collaborators called for incorporation into Russia
Updated May. 11, 2022 7:38 am ET

Russian troops in Ukraine are shipping grains and produce critical to the Ukrainian economy to Crimea, the country’s officials alleged, adding to their list of grievances against Russian occupying forces, as local collaborators called for incorporation into Russia.
The military administration of the Zaporizhzhia region said that a column of Russian trucks loaded with Ukrainian grain had left the occupied town of Enerhodar on Tuesday with a Russian military escort. They said it was bound for the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. The administration also said that vegetables and sunflower seeds are being taken.
The Kremlin and the Russian Ministry of Defense didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, authorities in the Russian-occupied southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, of strategic importance for its access to the Black Sea, plan to submit a request to Moscow to be formally accepted as part of Russia, a Kremlin-aligned official said Wednesday.
“There will be a request to introduce the Kherson region as a full-fledged entity of the Russian Federation,” said Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the military-civilian administration of the region, said during a news conference, in comments carried by Russian state news service TASS. The region will prepare the legal framework to join Russia by year’s end, TASS cited authorities as saying.
The development comes months after Moscow recognized the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk republics within their constitutional borders. Mr. Putin had ordered Russian troops into the two breakaway regions of Ukraine after recognizing their independence in February.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday residents of the Kherson region would have to decide their own fate.
“Such momentous decisions must carry an absolutely clear legal basis, a legal justification and be absolutely legitimate, as was the case with Crimea,” Mr. Peskov said.
Ukraine and most of the international community regard Crimea as occupied Ukrainian territory.
Ukraine provides about 10% of global wheat exports, 14% of corn exports and roughly half of the world’s sunflower oil, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, the department has cut its outlook for the world’s wheat trade in the current season by more than 6 million tons, or 3%, as expectations for lower Russian and Ukrainian exports outpace anticipated increases elsewhere.
“Without our agrarian exports, dozens of countries in different parts of the world already found themselves on the verge of a deficit,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday. “And with time the situation can become really terrible.”
Ukraine has alleged other Russian theft in the food sector.
In late April, officials in Zaporizhzhia region said Russian forces had taken over an agricultural business in the town of Kamianka-Dniprovska and seized 61 tons of wheat.
Ukrainian farmers have accused Russian forces of stealing their equipment, including tractors and trucks. They also say that Russia has destroyed equipment and mined their land in what they believe is a deliberate attempt to hobble Ukraine’s lucrative agriculture sector.

The internal components of a cluster munition in a field near Lysychansk, eastern Ukraine, on Tuesday.
PHOTO: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

An injured Ukrainian soldier at a front-line field hospital near Popasna, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, on Monday.
PHOTO: ROMAN PILIPEY/SHUTTERSTOCK
“The looting of grain from the Kherson region, as well as the blockade of shipments from Ukrainian ports and the mining of shipping routes, endangers global food security,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said referring to another part of the country’s south.
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said shiploads of stolen Ukrainian grain had reached the Mediterranean Sea on Russian-flagged vessels bound for the Middle East. In the past week, Egypt has turned away two Russian ships that were carrying stolen Ukrainian wheat, Ruslan Nechai, Ukraine’s chargé d’affaires in Egypt, told The Wall Street Journal on Monday.
Large parts of Kherson have been occupied by Russian forces since the start of the war. The agriculturally rich regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are among the most productive for Ukraine’s agricultural sector, often referred to as the breadbasket of Europe for the area’s vast wheat and grain production.
Wheat stockpiles were already running low and prices were the highest in years, owing to two years of poor growing weather, when Russia’s invasion jammed up Black Sea trading. The war has pushed up prices and prompted fears of food shortages in countries fed with imported grain.
The World Bank recently warned of a global food catastrophe stemming from Russia’s invasion.
Poland and Lithuania are in talks with Ukraine to have the country export its summer grain harvest through their ports, circumventing Russia’s naval blockade in the Black Sea. To move Ukraine’s wheat out to global markets, Poland would make space available at its seaports in Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin, and put those ports at the disposal of Ukraine, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said in an interview.
Ukraine says it isn’t only vital produce that is being forcibly relocated to Russia, but also thousands of people living in the Russian-controlled breakaway states of eastern Ukraine and other towns and cities occupied by Russian forces. The head of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, which Russia seeks full control over, has said that 30,000 people have been taken to Russia from the city of Mariupol alone.
Russia denies forcing Ukrainians to leave their homes, and said late Tuesday that 8,800 people were evacuated from Ukraine onto its territory in the past 24 hours, including more than 1,000 children. It said more than 1.2 million people have been evacuated to Russia since the start of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
In other developments, the U.K.’s National Institute of Economic and Social Research said global economic output would be around $1.5 trillion lower at the end of 2022 than had Russia not invaded Ukraine, a loss of about 1% of world gross domestic product.
In its first report on the global economic outlook since the start of the war, the institute said global activity would be diminished by higher energy and food prices as a result of the conflict, as well as by blows to household and business confidence.
The U.K.’s leading independent economic research body said it now expects the global economy to grow by 3.3% this year, having forecast a 4.2% expansion in January. For next year it sees growth of 3.2%, down from 3.5% in January.
Ukraine began reducing flows of Russian natural gas through its territory to Europe on Wednesday, introducing a new threat to the energy security of a continent already racing to sever its dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
The company that runs Ukraine’s pipeline network halted the flow of gas through a major entry point in the east of the country, blaming interference by Russian troops with critical gas infrastructure.
The Gas TSO of Ukraine shut off Russian exports through the Sokhranivka entry point on the border between the Luhansk region of Donbas and Russia. The border crossing accounts for a third of Russian gas exports through Ukraine to Europe and feeds 3% of the European Union’s overall gas consumption.

A damaged house in Sloboda-Kukharivska, Ukraine, on Tuesday.
PHOTO: ALEXEY FURMAN/GETTY IMAGES

The city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine. The head of Ukraine’s Donetsk region has said that 30,000 people have been taken to Russia from the city.
PHOTO: STRINGER/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Alistair MacDonald and Mauro Orru contributed to this article.
Write to Matthew Luxmoore at Matthew.Luxmoore@wsj.com


15. Intelligence and the War in Ukraine: Part 1


Excerpts:
Historically, intelligence success often came in lockstep with secrecy. More than any other event in the last fifty years, the Russian invasion of Ukraine drives home the degree to which this is no longer true. In his seminal study of intelligence success and failure, Erik Dahl observed that for intelligence to be useful it should be both precise and actionable. As he noted, “precise tactical intelligence, and strong policymaker receptivity toward intelligence — are necessary for the prevention of a surprise attack.” The public awareness of warning intelligence is littered with horror stories of failures of precision, actionability, and receptivity. The current crisis stands apart as a moment when all three of these requirements for effective warning meshed almost seamlessly. The quality and timeliness of the assessments did not, of course, deter Putin’s cloistered siloviki coterie enough to prevent the war. But it did give time to prepare across a range of military and political fronts, to marshal alliances and partnerships, and allowed both Ukraine and the Western powers to go into the current crisis forearmed because they were forewarned.
Another important insight offered by Dahl is that it is as important to learn from intelligence success as from failure, juxtaposing and interrogating both in concert. There will be a temptation, in the wake of the current crisis, to take the warning success of the Ukraine invasion for granted because that’s how it ought to work. In fact, the recent warning success warrants just as exhaustive and revelatory a post-mortem as the worst warning failures, in order to glean every single lesson and insight that can help prepare us for the next crisis, even the next war. Because they will come, sooner or later.
Intelligence and the War in Ukraine: Part 1 - War on the Rocks
NAVEEN SHAABAN ABDALLA, PHILIP H. J. DAVIES, KRISTIAN GUSTAFSON, DAN LOMAS, AND STEVEN WAGNER
warontherocks.com · by Naveen Shaaban Abdalla · May 11, 2022
Almost every descent into war comes with speculation, accusations, and counter-accusations of intelligence failure. And, indeed, it is obvious to note that intelligence agencies are most often criticized when things apparently go wrong. Politicians especially enjoy the deflective properties of the term “intelligence failure.” It redirects attention from poor political decisions toward the usually anonymous technocrats of the intelligence world, a community as consistently doubted and demonized in the public discussions as it is lauded and lionized. Since the Bush administration’s dissembling over Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, intelligence communities derided the public use of intelligence products. Once bitten, twice shy. The role of intelligence during the run-up to, and since, the invasion of Ukraine represents an entirely new chapter in the political and diplomatic use of intelligence in international affairs. This is for two distinct but related reasons. First, the year preceding the Russian invasion represents a resounding and instructive success in a branch of intelligence more notorious for its miscalls: strategic warning intelligence. Second, decades of growing public transparency about intelligence, paired with unprecedented transformations in the capabilities and availability of open-source intelligence, made it possible for politicians, diplomats, and defense communities to reveal, challenge and warn of Russia’s warlike preparations and intentions.
In this first part of our discussion, we shall pay particular attention to initiatives taken by the United Kingdom, the United States, and some of Europe’s smaller states, whose effective use of warning intelligence allowed Western states to confront Russia and support Ukraine well in advance of Feb. 24. Successful warning offered lead time to assist, equip, and train the Ukrainians in their defensive preparations. Western governments were willing to declassify information and assessments to support warnings of imminent Russian aggression. They, and media organizations, also drew from open-source intelligence instead of averring obliquely to unspecified secret sources to make their warnings more compelling to the public and allied governments. This made it possible to seize the initiative from Russian attempts at denial, deception, and prevarication, refuting and discrediting such efforts before they could happen through a policy of pre-emptive “prebuttals.” While the invasion could perhaps not be prevented, this live case study represents a step-change that demonstrates the positive use of intelligence for “impact.”
Success or Failure?
In almost every conflict and crisis, accusations of “intelligence failure” arise almost automatically. This may be to allocate or shift blame, and it often appears that strategic warning is particularly susceptible to both. Warning intelligence utilizes the ‘indicators and warning’ methodology in which one tries to identify the detectable footprint of concealed intentions and capabilities. No system is perfect, and the risk of surprise persists, as cases like the Argentine attempted seizure of the Falklands in 1982 and the successful Russian conquest of the Crimea in 2014 attest.
Warning is always, however, a judgment call. Despite the impressive abilities demonstrated by Western allies to detect Russian activities and the willingness to share that information, not all allies and partners reached the same conclusions. They also shared this data and their assessments with their Ukrainian counterparts who, as we shall see, struggled with their own appreciation of the situation. Naturally, while more pieces of the jigsaw have yet to emerge, the feast of open-source — and often real-time — information on Moscow’s military build-up gave an apparently solid foundation for assessment. The role of the private sector and the wider open-source community allowed even journalists and the public to watch Russia’s buildup. Imagery from U.S. space technology company Maxar, and collected social media posts portrayed a very public build-up of Russian forces, a picture no doubt even clearer to those with access to state-based intelligence capabilities. One might conclude that the warning should have been obvious, as Russia’s build-up took place in plain sight. But while detecting capabilities — personnel, equipment, infrastructure — is relatively straightforward, assessing intent is not. For the latter, the warning analyst must look for and recognize actions that the adversary would not otherwise take unless they intended to invade.
Assessments from the Western powers provided stark reading, coming on top of Russian military exercises in 2021. In April, Russia conducted a “surprise check” of its southern and western fronts, in response to supposedly aggressive moves by the United States and NATO allies, sparking fears that conflict was likely. “We’re now seeing the largest concentration of Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders since 2014,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a meeting at NATO headquarters, leading President Joe Biden to reaffirm U.S. commitments to Ukraine. At the time, analysts suggested the numbers of Russian troops exceeded the numbers involved in the 2014 annexation of Crimea, with Ukrainian sources suggesting as many as 80,000 troops.
Analysts were also fully aware of the Zapad-21 exercise, one of a rolling series of training exercises rotating across Russia’s four main military districts each year. Zapad-2021 illustrated Russia’s longer-term goal of integrating Belarusian forces into Russian-led structures. It took place against a backdrop of tensions between Russia and NATO, and Moscow’s own efforts to reinforce security interests in Belarus after failed pro-democracy protests in August 2020. Though the figures involved in Zapad-21 were grossly inflated — Russia even suggesting up to 200,000 troops participated — the exercises gave warning about the position of Belarus in any future conflict.
Though Moscow’s ultimate intentions were unclear, Western intelligence officials were fully aware of the military build-up. Intelligence briefings seen by the Washington Post in December 2021 showed that U.S. officials believed that Russia had deployed 70,000 troops, and would be capable of deploying up to 175,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, comprising 100 battalion tactical groups and capable of an offensive in early 2022. Despite the build-up, the deployments were, officials said, designed to “obfuscate intentions and to create uncertainty.” This intelligence picture formed the basis of Blinken’s warning to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during talks in Copenhagen that Russia would face “serious consequences” if an invasion took place.
UK officials became increasingly concerned about the prospect of an invasion around the same time, as key or high-profile units deployed for Zapad-21 did not redeploy back to their home locations, but rather remained in Belarus, along with large ammunition stockpiles. Satellite imagery revealed the gradual build-up of Russian troops and, crucially, the deployment of supporting units needed to sustain an invasion. U.S. officials were also concerned about the distribution of medical supplies, while Estonia’s foreign intelligence service (Välisluureamet) pointed to large-scale operations. “In our assessment, the Russian Armed Forces are ready to embark on a full-scale military operation against Ukraine from the second half of February,” said their annual report. “Once military readiness has been achieved, only a political decision is required to launch the operation.” Estonian estimates suggested there were upwards of 150,000 troops, deploying from across Russia’s military districts. “This is,” officials concluded, “the single largest military build-up by Russia in the past 30 years.”
Nonetheless, there were differences across NATO allies. Speaking to journalists in March, France’s Chief of the Defense Staff Thierry Burkhard suggested that a Russian invasion was “part of the options” in 2021. Indeed, French officials maintained that any attack, if likely, would be delayed pending “favorable weather conditions,” disagreeing with U.S. and U.K. counterparts over the likely outcome. “The Americans said that the Russians were going to attack,” said Burkhard. “Our services thought rather than the conquest of Ukraine would have a monstrous cost and that the Russians had other options.” Burkhard has suggested that French military intelligence only came round to the view that an attack was imminent having received intelligence from NATO allies the evening before the attack. In March, it was reported that Gen. Eric Vidaud, director of military intelligence, would leave his post prematurely, sources citing “insufficient” briefing on the Russian threat to Ukraine. French officials were not alone in underestimating the danger. Security sources told Der Spiegel that the head of Germany’s BND, Bruno Kahl, had to be rescued by a hastily arranged special forces mission, having been in Ukraine for scheduled talks when the invasion started.
Projecting one’s own reasoning into the mind of the adversary is a common analytical error. Indeed, the French may yet be proved right in that the invasion has already come at a “monstrous cost” to the Russians, at least to contemporary European eyes. In this case, the French failed to understand what costs the adversary was willing to take to achieve their aims. The values and concerns of Western governments — economies, jobs, trade, public well-being, popularity, and re-electability — are perhaps not as relevant to Russia’s often-unchallenged strategic calculus. Putin has been far less concerned with civil society and human costs — a common characteristic of authoritarian leadership.
France was not alone in this regard. Armed with British and American assessments in addition to those of his own staff, an intelligence advisor close to Zelensky said that he believed Putin was bluffing until D-Day. He expected Putin would achieve his goals without invading. Zelensky’s approval rating was low, and the political situation was unstable. Why should Russia strike now? Why not wait? Ukrainian advisers fell prey to two critical failings, the first of which was a hesitance to believe that Putin might invade, contrary to good sense. Additionally, this may also have been down to Kyiv’s goals of not causing panic – something Zelensky had said pre-invasion. The second, more cautionary failing was that Kyiv had “anchored” — fixated — on one specific indication of the imminent intent to invade. This indicator was orders for certain tactical preparations that the Ukrainians considered essential for a successful invasion, but which never materialized before Feb. 24. Unfortunately, just because Ukraine would not be so stupid as to launch an operation without such measures, did not mean Russia wouldn’t do so. Thankfully, this anchoring did not undermine Ukraine’s defensive strategy. Perhaps this was a case of hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. If so, it displays a very solid understanding of the interaction between intelligence and planning by the Ukrainian high command, which we discuss in part 2 of this article.
Western analysts may have fallen subject to some analytical pathology in predicting — not unlike the Russians — that Ukraine would fall quickly to the Russian invasion. As some U.S. officials passed to journalists, “a Russian invasion could overwhelm Ukraine’s military relatively quickly, although Moscow might find it difficult to sustain an occupation and cope with a potential insurgency.” They went on to add that an invasion, “would leave 25,000 to 50,000 civilians dead, along with 5,000 to 25,000 Ukrainian soldiers and 3,000 to 10,000 Russian ones. It could also trigger a refugee flood of one to five million people, mainly into Poland.” Perhaps still stinging from the rapid collapse of Afghanistan to the Taliban, there may have been some reluctance to be optimistic about Ukraine’s chances. Still, London and Washington moved to bolster Ukraine’s defenses quickly — and this support made a significant difference in both the physical capacity of Ukraine’s forces and their morale. The estimates on casualties and displaced persons are within the margin of error provided by U.S. officials. In this case, it would be unfair to say Western estimates of the chances of Ukrainian resistance constitute an intelligence failure. This is the paradox of intelligence warning: if analysts warn of a dire event, and this prompts state action which averts it, was the initial estimate wrong? No. The differences in intelligence assessments from Ukraine and various NATO allies highlight the precarious nature of strategic warning.
Warning
The timing of an attack is always difficult to forecast. On the one hand, intelligence officials are always wary of when to warn. A warning threshold that is too low will cause future warnings to fall on deaf ears. If the warning threshold is too high, the intelligence may no longer be actionable. On the other side, the final decision to attack can be made in a relatively short space of time. “Once troops are in a position to go,” wrote Grabo, “orders to attack usually need to be issued no more than a few hours ahead.” It is a conclusion backed up by a report by U.K. intelligence official Douglas Nicoll, who, in the 1980s, was asked to look at strategic warning. As Nicoll concluded, “The essential point to note is that while planning, preparation, and training may last for up to a year from the initial order to the armed forces to prepare, the period of readying, mobilization, and deployment of forces may be quite short.”
The problem has always been assessing when states will attack, an issue illustrated by the history of the Joint Intelligence Committee. This becomes more complicated when trying to understand the intentions of autocratic leaders such as Vladimir Putin. Did Putin hope to wage a diplomatic war of nerves against Ukraine and the West? Would Moscow carry out a limited operation, or pursue maximalist goals for the whole of Ukraine? And when would it all happen?
Despite the build-up of Russian forces, U.S. officials kept an open mind on whether a decision had been made to invade. In December, following a visit by CIA Director Bill Burns to Moscow, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan reiterated that the intelligence showed that, “[Putin] had not yet made a decision,” even if analysts believed “the Russian government is giving serious consideration and operational planning to such an exercise” — a view that remained dominant into January. Just under a week before the invasion, President Biden said he was “convinced” an attack would take place in the “coming days.” The U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Putin wouldn’t decide until the last minute was certainly an accurate one, the invasion surprising some NATO allies and even members of the Russian government and armed forces. Blinken himself called off talks with Lavrov two days before the invasion, following Russian recognition of the separatist regions.
Is Prebuttal a Success?
If the warning intelligence success is, essentially, an adept application of methods and techniques a century in the making, the “prebuttal” strategy deployed against Russian disinformation and prevarication represents a significant innovation. Any credible prebuttal effort was going to require carefully thought out but rapid declassification of intelligence for timely publication. Such a campaign aims to bombard the media space with truth — visible, measurable, even tangible data and analysis about the Russian buildup and military campaign. Historically, governments have always declassified sanitized intelligence to support policy decisions or offer alternatives, although the scale and speed of this effort are remarkable. The campaign follows a classic model: it is grounded in truth, it repeats a theme from different angles, and it is well-timed and geared toward a specific objective.
The Ukraine case saw — and continues to see — extensive reference to intelligence in public. This January, the United States preempted Russian moves by publishing information on Russian subversion. “Russia has directed its intelligence services to recruit current and former Ukrainian government officials to prepare to take over the government of Ukraine,” reported Blinken, “and to control Ukraine’s critical infrastructure with an occupying Russian force,” a message reinforced by an intelligence-led statement from U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
Shortly before Russia’s invasion, the U.K. Chief of Defence Intelligence Lt. Gen. Sir Jim Hockenhull told journalists, “We have not seen evidence that Russia has withdrawn forces from Ukraine’s borders. Contrary to their claims, Russia continues to build up military capabilities near Ukraine.” U.K. Ministry of Defence communications, using information supplied by Defence Intelligence, tweeted likely avenues of attack — lines that proved to be correct.
The publication of intelligence should not be overplayed, despite its current hype. Moscow may have been forced to respond to intelligence releases, yet the release of information by governments should never, and can never, be seen as part of a strategy to deter an assault. Officials and policymakers also need to be careful with what they release for several reasons. Firstly, the prebuttal approach was successful because the events that officials forecasted came true. Domestically, the reputation of U.S. and U.K. intelligence has been restored after the Iraq fiasco. Recently, however, released assessments have been based on medium to low confidence. As one official said, “It doesn’t have to be solid intelligence when we talk about it. It’s more important to get out ahead of them — Putin specifically — before they do something.” Releasing statements that may turn out to be untrue could impair future use of prebuttal, as it could undermine the trust that has been carefully built up. In other words, releasing low confidence assessments to keep up with Russia’s information games would be counterproductive, and reduce the release of intelligence to mere propaganda. Secondly, preempting Russia might be an important goal, yet revealing information can be just as dangerous, however well disguised the actual source is. Prebuttal remains an important tool, yet source protection will always be paramount.
So What?
Historically, intelligence success often came in lockstep with secrecy. More than any other event in the last fifty years, the Russian invasion of Ukraine drives home the degree to which this is no longer true. In his seminal study of intelligence success and failure, Erik Dahl observed that for intelligence to be useful it should be both precise and actionable. As he noted, “precise tactical intelligence, and strong policymaker receptivity toward intelligence — are necessary for the prevention of a surprise attack.” The public awareness of warning intelligence is littered with horror stories of failures of precision, actionability, and receptivity. The current crisis stands apart as a moment when all three of these requirements for effective warning meshed almost seamlessly. The quality and timeliness of the assessments did not, of course, deter Putin’s cloistered siloviki coterie enough to prevent the war. But it did give time to prepare across a range of military and political fronts, to marshal alliances and partnerships, and allowed both Ukraine and the Western powers to go into the current crisis forearmed because they were forewarned.
Another important insight offered by Dahl is that it is as important to learn from intelligence success as from failure, juxtaposing and interrogating both in concert. There will be a temptation, in the wake of the current crisis, to take the warning success of the Ukraine invasion for granted because that’s how it ought to work. In fact, the recent warning success warrants just as exhaustive and revelatory a post-mortem as the worst warning failures, in order to glean every single lesson and insight that can help prepare us for the next crisis, even the next war. Because they will come, sooner or later.
Dr. Neveen Shaaban Abdalla is a lecturer in international relations (defense and intelligence) at Brunel University London. Dr. Abdalla specializes in terrorism and counterterrorism and security in the Middle East and North Africa.
Prof. Philip H.J. Davies is the director of the Brunel University Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies. Professor Davies has written extensively on U.K. and U.S. intelligence, joint intelligence doctrine, and counterintelligence.
Dr. Kristian Gustafson is a reader in Intelligence & War. Dr. Gustafson is deputy director of the Brunel Centre for Intelligence & Security Studies and has conducted consultancy and advisory work for the MOD’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, including an integral role in developing U.K. Joint Intelligence Doctrine.
Dr. Dan Lomas is a lecturer in Intelligence and Security Studies at Brunel University London. He specializes in contemporary U.K. intelligence and is currently co-editing a history of U.K. intelligence reviews for Edinburgh University Press.
Dr. Steven Wagner is a senior lecturer in international security at Brunel University London. Dr. Wagner is a historian of intelligence, security, empire, and the modern Middle East.
Part II of this article will deal with the other side of the equation: the apparent failure of Russian intelligence to assess the likely course of their offensives into Ukraine. As well, it will show how the Russians likely made grave errors in planning their operation, and how intelligence from the Ukrainian government, its citizens, and Western governments has helped tip the balance in Ukraine’s favor. It has also confirmed a change or rebalancing in the locus of intelligence power in war from secret toward open-source intelligence.
warontherocks.com · by Naveen Shaaban Abdalla · May 11, 2022

16. Ukraine After the War

“If you concentrate exclusively on victory, while no thought for the after effect, you may be too exhausted to profit by peace, while it is almost certain that the peace will be a bad one, containing the germs of another war.” B.H. Liddel-Hart

Excerpts:

With large swaths of Ukraine’s cities damaged or destroyed, a more immediate problem will be fixing the country’s physical infrastructure. Alexander Shevchenko, an urban planner who until now consulted on regeneration in the rust-belt and already war-blighted east, has pulled together more than 100 professionals to start thinking about how to rebuild Ukraine as a whole. Members of his team are looking into methods already developed in Sweden for recycling concrete rubble; others are considering ways of preventing new settlements of displaced people in the west of the country from turning into ghettos. The destruction also presents an opportunity to rethink how new urban districts are designed, and make them more community-minded and less clogged with traffic.
Not all of these dreams—of security, a thriving modern economy, returning families, well-planned new cities—are likely to come true. (Shevchenko puts the chance of a real cleanup of corrupt local planning departments at 30 to 40 percent.) But the fact that they are being discussed at all, even as a brutal war continues to unfold, shows how determined Ukrainians are to win, and how their unity and sense of identity has been strengthened by the Russian threat. Natalukha said that he views the country not as a wreck but as “a sandbox,” meaning a place for experiments. “There’s no conventional way to restore a country half of whose GDP has been destroyed,” he said. “We’re in a situation where everything is acceptable—the most incredible ideas, the boldest concepts.”
Ukraine After the War
Planning for a Country With More Military and Tech Power—but Fewer Ukrainians
By Anna Reid
May 11, 2022
Foreign Affairs · by Anna Reid · May 11, 2022
Ten weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is hard to see how and when the war will end. At the end of March, the Russian army withdrew from around Kyiv, but it is still pounding Kharkiv and Mariupol and slowly advancing, in the face of defiant Ukrainian resistance, in the east and south. The Black Sea port of Kherson, which fell to Russia early on, is being put through a process already familiar to inhabitants of Crimea and the eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, who lived through Russian—or Russian-backed—takeovers eight years ago. Kherson’s occupiers have violently broken up protests, invaded city hall, and taken national broadcasters off the air in favor of Russian channels and a new pro-Moscow local station. About 400 inhabitants have been arrested, and although some have been released with broken ribs, relatives of others have no news. At the end of April, Internet and mobile phone communications were suspended, and there are now rumors of a coming “referendum” aimed at turning the region into the “Kherson People’s Republic”—another Russian puppet statelet.
A moral tuning point of the war has been the discovery of the Russian army’s atrocities against civilians. Among the most shocking sights in liberated Bucha, and other commuter towns on the outskirts of Kyiv, are the temporary graves that inhabitants had to dig for their relatives outside their apartment blocks and the abandoned cars that the Russians shot up as residents tried to flee. These cars—bright new family hatchbacks or shabby old Soviet Zhigulis, with white cloths tied to the radio antennas and handwritten “children” signs taped to the windshields—are riddled with bullet holes and often filled with their owners’ possessions: a hair dryer, a child’s scooter, a plastic bag full of neatly folded flannels, a 62-year-old woman’s medical records, a packet of fish food. To try to grasp the level of anger and disgust Ukrainians feel about this, one needs to imagine it happening in New York’s Chappaqua or London’s Ealing—the kind of leafy outer suburb that Bucha resembled until Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces reduced it to rubble and twisted sheets of roofing tin.
All over the country, Ukrainians—those who have not fled—live a day-to-day existence, often separated from their families and with no assurance, even if they are far from the frontlines, that their country will ever be whole again or that a long-range missile will not fly in tonight through their bedroom wall. Many cope by throwing themselves into the war effort. From west to east, people are working seven-day weeks driving vans loaded with food or medical supplies, weaving cut-up clothes into camouflage nets, running clubs for displaced children, or handing out rolls and tea at railway stations. The khaki-clad, often older men who work the checkpoints in the newly liberated towns around Kyiv are volunteers, too, their spectacles and ready smiles unmistakably civilian.
Yet despite all the misery and uncertainty, some are already beginning to think about what kind of country they want to rebuild when relative peace returns. (“Victory” is the word they use—nobody talks about “the end of the war.”) Security will be paramount: even in the most optimistic scenarios, Ukrainians recognize that they will likely face a future of continued conflict in the east, perhaps lasting for years to come. The country will also need to address the loss not only of much of its economy, but also of more than five million of its citizens who have fled the country and will have to be persuaded that there is something to return to. At the same time, it will take exceptional effort for the Ukrainian government not relapse into corruption, even as it pleads for tens of billions of dollars in desperately needed reconstruction money. And it remains unclear just what status the country will have in the West when all is said and done.
BIG ISRAEL
How well Ukraine is able to address these challenges will of course depend on the outcome of the war itself—first and foremost on how much of its territory the country ends up controlling. Given that any meaningful negotiations with Moscow are currently off the table, that question will likely be decided on the battlefield. Thanks to the Ukrainian army’s unexpectedly (to the West) good performance, an absolute Russian conquest now seems improbable. But a war that grinds on for years, as some of the more dire projections predict, could be nearly as devastating, reducing Ukraine to a depopulated, economically moribund shell. At the other end of the scale, Ukrainians dream of a coup in the Kremlin or of a Russian military collapse that gives them all their old territory back, including Donetsk and Luhansk. (They are not quite as “maximalist” about Crimea, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson put it after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in early April.) Perhaps one of these things will happen; the Kremlin and the Ukrainian army both have a way of springing surprises. But far likelier is an emerging stalemate toward the end of the year, with the Russian army digging in as the autumn rains start. A new line of contact, taking in some or all of the east and its Black Sea coast, would take hold, as the two sides settled back into semi-frozen conflict. Such an outcome would be dismal and radically unjust. But barring a dramatic change of tack by Moscow—or unexpected gains by increasingly well-armed Ukrainian forces in the east—it seems highly plausible. How much territory Russia takes and holds will depend largely on whether Russian forces or their Ukrainian counterparts are able to re-arm the quickest. Hence U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s call, at a meeting with donor nations on April 26, for weapons and supplies to be sent to Ukraine “at the speed of war.”

Assuming a return to long-term frozen conflict, Ukraine’s leaders will be confronted by a particular set of challenges. For one thing, the country that emerges will have to remain defense oriented. In a press conference on April 5, Zelensky talked about Ukraine becoming “a big Israel.” As he explained, “We will have representatives of the armed forces or the national guard in cinemas, in supermarkets. … Security will be issue number one for the next ten years.” The comparison may have been aimed at the Israeli government, which has been ambivalent about sanctioning Russia. But it struck a chord at home, too. As Dmytro Natalukha, a prominent young member of Parliament, told me: “We’ll have to stay very militarized, we’ll have to stay strong on IT, and very integrated with the West—in banking, trade and everything else.”

A long, grinding war could reduce Ukraine to a depopulated, economically moribund shell.
The idea of centering Ukraine’s future economy on information technology is not fanciful. Before the current war, Kyiv, Lviv, and Kharkiv were all fast-growing tech hubs, employing around 200,000 developers and accounting for more than eight percent of GDP. Ukraine boasted five billion-dollar tech startups, the best known of them Grammarly, the prose-improving app. Information technology is also an important part of the war effort. Ukrainian hackers spar with the enemy online, and apps warn people of air raids, allow them to register the location of Russian troops and vehicles, and even enable them to post information about potential war crimes. Open-source investigators identify and track enemy units. (In one example, a Ukrainian man followed the Russian soldiers who had looted his house using the “Find My” function for his stolen earphones.) Many programmers have also been able to keep earning despite the war, often doing wartime volunteer work during the day and their usual, offshore jobs at night. One London-based venture capitalist recently reported that nearly all the 100-plus programmers working for the startups he was investing in have continued to deliver on their assignments and are asking for more. Some are doing this even from besieged Kharkiv.
Other sectors of the economy are doing far worse. As of April, the World Bank estimated that just repairing damaged infrastructure and buildings would cost about $60 billion. Another enormous job will be clearing unexploded ordnance. The British landmine-clearing charity, the HALO Trust, which has been at work in Ukraine for six years, estimates it could take decades. Before the war, HALO teams worked to help the country clear rural areas of mine belts left over from Russia’s 2014 seizure of Donetsk and Luhansk. But their new task—sifting through collapsed apartment blocks for rockets, bombs, artillery shells, and cluster munitions the size of tennis balls—will be much harder.
And if Ukraine loses control of its entire Black Sea coast, especially the important port of Odessa, it will have to reroute by land the bulky commodity exports—particularly grain—on which much of its economy depends.
ODESSA SYNDROME
Even as Ukraine searches for new sources of revenue, it will also face the challenge of spending wisely what it already has. Since the war began, Western leaders have been almost silent on the question of corruption. But ever since Ukraine achieved independence in 1991, corruption has been endemic, especially in the public sector, and the problem is unlikely to get better with an influx of postwar aid. Although Ukraine’s political culture is a world away from Russia’s—it has free media, unpredictable elections, and a vibrant civil society—it has been unable to shake some Soviet-era practices. Daily life, from getting a doctor’s appointment to top marks in a university exam, is routinely eased by personal contacts or bribes. The courts and prosecution service are lazy and politicized, and oligarchs often pull strings from behind the scenes. Odessa in particular is known for organized crime.
In the years before the invasion, international pressure succeeded in pushing through some reforms in Kyiv, including an online government procurement system, a National Anti-Corruption Bureau, and a new High Anti-Corruption Court vetted by foreign jurists. But in 2021, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index still ranked Ukraine 122 out of 180 countries, tying it with Eswatini and ranking it only a few places ahead of Russia itself. Last November, Zelensky signed new anti-oligarch legislation into law but then made sure that its first target was his political rival and predecessor as president, the confectionary mogul Petro Poroshenko. The problems have continued even during the war. Although the international press reported it only briefly, in March Hungarian customs officers discovered $28 million in cash in the luggage of the wife of a former Ukrainian parliamentarian.

But many younger Ukrainians hope that the chance to build a new country out of the ashes of war will jolt the establishment into reforms that really bite. One possibility is that reconstruction money could be overseen by an independent board, bypassing the government altogether. As a 23-year-old computer programmer explains, unlike his parents’ generation, young people refuse to take corruption for granted. “A woman who works in the tax office buys a brand new Ford,” he said. “My father says, ‘She works in the tax office. Why shouldn’t she?’ But I say, ‘Why should she?’”
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
Equally great is the question of whose country the new Ukraine will be. Although it has been little discussed until now, many in Kyiv are concerned that the more than five million Ukrainians who have left the country since February—one of the most rapid exoduses anywhere in the world since the end of the Cold War—will not all return. By the latest estimates, nearly three million Ukrainians have gone to Poland alone. And since men between 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave, the refugees are overwhelmingly women and children. Though the western city of Lviv is crammed with families from farther east—on a warm spring evening, crowds of children scoot about its central Freedom Square—in Kyiv there is hardly a child to be seen. If fighting continues, the United Nations expects another three million will leave by the end of the year. Altogether, that would represent 20 percent of Ukraine’s pre-invasion population, and it would leave behind a skewed demographic, in particular a deficit of working-age women.
To persuade people to come home again, the government in Kyiv will have to provide them with jobs. As Natalukha, the young parliamentarian, said, refugees “will come back out of patriotism, but if after a month, a year, they can’t find work, they’ll have to leave again.” Forward-looking nongovernmental organizations already see themselves in a race to restart the country before refugees build permanent new lives abroad. “Every week,” the co-founder of a Lviv-based social entrepreneurship fund told me, “maybe 50,000 people are leaving forever.” Others complained that international organizations like the Red Cross are needlessly helping people who are in Lviv, which is safe, to go to Poland. But another driver of the outflow is education. Ukrainian schools have been closed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now even those that are far from the fighting have been commandeered as temporary housing for internally displaced people. At best, children—those remaining in the country as well as those who have fled abroad—have some online instruction. If European countries manage to come up with new school places for Ukrainian refugee children, and those children settle into them happily, that will provide a strong incentive for families to stay abroad. The opposition deputy Alyona Shkrum (also Natalukha’s wife) thinks the Ukrainian government should legalize dual citizenship; otherwise, people may be forced to choose between their job and their passport. Better to encourage workers to come and go, she argues, paying taxes and maintaining links to the mother country even if they are primarily employed abroad.
The extraordinary population upheaval, however, could ultimately bring benefits. Given its large population and relatively low income levels, it remains highly unlikely that Ukraine will be granted full membership in the European Union any time soon. But the population outflows have created important European ties of their own. As a result of the war, a generation of young Ukrainians has not only been forced to be exceptionally resourceful and adaptable, many of them are also developing crucial foreign contacts and language skills—capacities that will prove especially useful if the EU makes good on promises to give Ukraine some of the benefits of union ties.
Poland, in particular, sees itself forging a new partnership with Ukraine. Even before the current war, Poland was home to more than a quarter of a million Ukrainian guest workers, and as that number has ballooned with the arrival of millions of refugees, the potential for larger economic ties between the countries is already clear. Ukrainian workers have filled the same sort of role in the Polish economy that Poles themselves did, pre-Brexit, in the British economy. Both sides stress the broad sympathy Ukrainians have drawn from the Polish public. As Jacek Stawiski, a Polish broadcaster, puts it: “We simply do not see our own independence as safe unless Ukraine is secure. Of course there will be tensions, and marginal politicians who try to capitalize on them, but I really don’t think it’s an issue.”
THE SANDBOX IN THE RUBBLE
With large swaths of Ukraine’s cities damaged or destroyed, a more immediate problem will be fixing the country’s physical infrastructure. Alexander Shevchenko, an urban planner who until now consulted on regeneration in the rust-belt and already war-blighted east, has pulled together more than 100 professionals to start thinking about how to rebuild Ukraine as a whole. Members of his team are looking into methods already developed in Sweden for recycling concrete rubble; others are considering ways of preventing new settlements of displaced people in the west of the country from turning into ghettos. The destruction also presents an opportunity to rethink how new urban districts are designed, and make them more community-minded and less clogged with traffic.
Not all of these dreams—of security, a thriving modern economy, returning families, well-planned new cities—are likely to come true. (Shevchenko puts the chance of a real cleanup of corrupt local planning departments at 30 to 40 percent.) But the fact that they are being discussed at all, even as a brutal war continues to unfold, shows how determined Ukrainians are to win, and how their unity and sense of identity has been strengthened by the Russian threat. Natalukha said that he views the country not as a wreck but as “a sandbox,” meaning a place for experiments. “There’s no conventional way to restore a country half of whose GDP has been destroyed,” he said. “We’re in a situation where everything is acceptable—the most incredible ideas, the boldest concepts.”

Foreign Affairs · by Anna Reid · May 11, 2022


17. America Must Embrace the Goal of Ukrainian Victory

Excerpts:

A long-term Ukrainian victory will also require both the country’s greater integration into Europe and a monumental international campaign to help rebuild Ukraine, akin to the Marshall Plan in the aftermath of World War II. Ukraine is already making swift progress in its campaign to join the EU: the Ukrainian government has submitted a formal questionnaire for EU membership, and the country could be granted candidate status within weeks. The United States admittedly has limited influence over these proceedings, but it can still project soft power—and give diplomatic nudges to allies in Europe—to encourage the expedited conferral of EU candidate status to Ukraine. As for the issue of reconstruction, the EU is planning to establish a so-called solidarity trust fund for Ukraine. The United States—as well as the United Kingdom and any other willing democratic countries—should also rally to the cause of economic revival in Ukraine. Public-private partnerships seeded with a combination of grants, private equity, and asset seizures and forfeitures from Russia could direct funds to rebuild Ukraine’s economy and infrastructure. These funds could be guided and managed by both an EU integration process and a board of directors drawn from Ukraine and the United States to ensure accountability, but Ukrainian oversight would be crucial in shaping an effective economic plan for the country.
This long-term vision for victory will not be realized, however, until security is reestablished and guaranteed in Ukraine. If peace will come only on the heels of a military breakthrough, then the United States has an obligation to help Ukraine win on the battlefield. Those worried about escalation with Russia must understand that the risks of a Ukrainian victory are greatly exaggerated. The risks of a Ukrainian loss are far greater and would entail irreversible damage to the liberal order, international law, security norms, and global stability. That is an outcome that the United States cannot afford and should be doing everything in its power to avoid.

America Must Embrace the Goal of Ukrainian Victory
It’s Time to Move Past Washington’s Cautious Approach
May 11, 2022
Foreign Affairs · by Alexander Vindman · May 11, 2022
For years before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Ukrainians had been growing frustrated with U.S. leadership. A former high-level Ukrainian official described U.S. policy to the country in this way: “You won’t let us drown, but you won’t let us swim.” Washington has earned this mixed reputation in the decades since Ukraine broke free from the Soviet Union in 1991. Although Ukraine saw the United States as an indispensable partner and greatly appreciated U.S. security and economic assistance, many Ukrainians were aggrieved that the United States remained reluctant to more fully and forthrightly support them in the face of Russian provocations and aggression—even following Ukraine’s pivot toward the West after the tumult of 2014, when protests toppled a pro-Russian government in Kyiv and Russia responded by annexing Crimea and invading the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. With few exceptions, Ukrainian pleas for increased military aid, greater economic investment, and a concrete road map for integration with Europe fell on deaf ears in Washington. The Ukrainians could not understand why the U.S. national security establishment continued to privilege maintaining stable relations with Russia—an irredentist and revanchist authoritarian state—over support for Ukraine, a democratic state that had made important strides in weeding out corruption and implementing democratic reforms.
In the two months since Russia attacked Ukraine, the United States has thus far lived up to this ambivalent reputation. It has committed aid to Ukraine in fits and starts and has sought to avoid an escalation with Russia at the expense of more uncompromising support for Ukraine’s defense. But Washington can and should do more. The United States can shore up regional stability, global security, and the liberal international order by working to ensure a Ukrainian victory. To achieve this goal, Washington must finally abandon a failed policy that has prioritized trying to build a stable relationship with Russia. It needs to discard the desire—which seems to shape views on the National Security Council—to see Ukraine ultimately compromise with Russia for the sake of a negotiated peace. And the United States must give Ukraine the support it needs to bring this war to a close as soon as possible.
A FIGHTING CHANCE
Thus far, the National Security Council has stubbornly refused to end its policy of incremental assistance and adopt a strategy for supplying continuous aid to Ukraine. Such elevated support could prove to be a deciding factor on the battlefield. As it stands, the United States has missed one opportunity after the other to help precipitate a decisive Ukrainian victory and stop Russia from making gains in the Donbas. Instead of foreclosing the possibility of a Russian success, Washington’s strategy of metering incremental military aid to Ukraine—based on a flawed assessment of the risk of escalation and the potential consequences of a Russian defeat—has provided Moscow with the time and space to continue its war, even as it now shifts to defending the territory it has seized since February 24.
Ukraine has already demonstrated that it can successfully hit operational military targets in Russia, such as rail lines, airfields, depots, and materiel stockpiles, in a restricted and responsible manner. With new long-range firing capabilities delivered by the United States, Ukraine would be able to strike farther into Russia and destroy militarily relevant targets, thus reducing Moscow’s capabilities and limiting its potential for further offensive attacks. Ukrainian forces have given Washington good reason to trust in their restraint and have refrained from conducting strikes on strategic targets or civilian targets that could stoke escalatory tensions with Russia. Given such evidence, the United States has little reason to wring its hands over shipping additional and more powerful weapons to Ukraine that could undermine Russia’s war effort.
The war has reached a critical inflection point, with Russia on its heels after a disastrous start and now seeking to consolidate control over the east of Ukraine. Even in the face of Russia’s humiliating military blunders, Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to accept a cease-fire or peace deal on unfavorable terms. He continues to believe that Russia has the resources and equipment necessary to win a war of attrition. He could be wrong—the Ukrainian military has performed masterfully, and the Ukrainians themselves have rallied in extraordinary numbers to repulse the Russian attack—but he may not reach this conclusion until months down the road. By that time, more Ukrainian cities will have been reduced to rubble, and untold numbers of Ukrainians will have been raped, maimed, slaughtered, deported, or displaced.
NO MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL
Short of direct intervention, the United States can prevent further massacres of Ukrainian civilians and further destruction of the country only by supplying more lethal aid. That effort starts at home by training and preparing the Ukrainians to use advanced NATO military equipment and simultaneously replenishing U.S. allies’ capabilities as they transfer Soviet-era systems to Ukraine. The United States must also continue to pressure European leaders who have been overly cautious and indecisive in their military support for Ukraine’s defense, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. They must come to understand that there can be no return to business as usual with Russia as long as Putin rules from the Kremlin. Momentum may be on Ukraine’s side, but Kyiv alone cannot bring an end to this war. Without a steady stream of supplies from the United States and its allies to replace its lost or exhausted equipment, Ukraine may find itself mired in a drawn-out war of attrition. Even if Russia’s ground forces prove ineffective, the Kremlin can still sustain combat operations with air power and long-range shelling over an extended period of time, during which Russia may attempt to regroup for a broader offensive or seek to consolidate its territorial gains. The West must deny Russia that window of opportunity.

Many analysts and advisers believe the United States should stagger its support to Ukraine to encourage Kyiv to make what they see as necessary concessions to Moscow. Overt calls for appeasing Russia have become more muted—especially as Ukraine performs superbly on the battlefield and as many Western observers see the conflict as a battle between democracy and autocracy. But many in Washington still privately express their belief that any peace deal will require Ukraine to cede some territory to Russia. This camp believes that boosting U.S. support may make Ukraine unwilling to compromise. But the fact remains that one or both sides need to think they can lose to pave the way for fruitful negotiations, and neither Kyiv nor Moscow has reached this point, with both states unwilling to accept the other’s demands.

Washington is fretting over how it can prevent a Russian defeat while limiting the scope of a Ukrainian victory.
Why, then, is the United States looking to Kyiv to bend in the face of Russian aggression rather than working to convince the Kremlin that it will lose this war? To avoid destabilizing Russia too much. Some experts fear that a Russian loss—or some other inglorious outcome for Moscow—may precipitate a broader war or nuclear escalation. Washington, in other words, is fretting over how it can prevent a Russian defeat while limiting the scope of a Ukrainian victory. As thousands of Ukrainians die defending their country, and as Putin wields the threat of nuclear escalation to frighten his opponents in the West, U.S. policymakers should move forward with one explicit goal: helping Ukraine win on the battlefield to the fullest extent possible.
This option carries obvious risks, but the alternate scenarios—including a cyberwar between Russia and NATO, Russian conventional attacks on NATO arms shipments to deter external assistance for Ukraine, a NATO intervention in the conflict, and potential accidents or miscalculations that could precipitate a broader war—will grow only more likely the longer the war drags on. The solution to the present crisis is not to wait until the war spills over into the rest of Europe or draws other countries into the conflict. Acting now will reduce the probability of catastrophes further down the line. Moreover, the risk of a nuclear escalation has been overstated and remains exceptionally small: even Putin understands the extraordinary taboo he would be breaking by employing nuclear arms. Rhetorical threats and political theater abound in the Kremlin, but there have been no movements or changes in Russia’s nuclear forces that would indicate that a nuclear strike is under consideration, no matter Russia’s warnings that continued arms shipments to Ukraine from the West could prompt such a response.
Stepping up military assistance for Ukraine would not be a reckless shot in the dark. Rather, it is a risk-informed move that is unlikely to provoke any meaningful retaliation from Moscow. It remains in Russia’s interests to prevent the conflict from escalating. Deploying a nuclear weapon would provoke swift, severe, and unpredictable reactions from the international community. The threshold for Russia’s use of weapons of mass destruction, let alone a nuclear weapon, remains almost impossibly high. Russia cannot use such weapons against NATO and the West without provoking a concomitant response, per the doctrine of mutually assured destruction. Even the prospect of the use of weapons of mass destruction against Ukraine seems highly unlikely, as the United States has warned Russia that such an attack may draw NATO into the conflict. Russia is loath to set off a war with NATO, particularly when its military is already experiencing humbling setbacks in Ukraine.
WHAT THE WEST OWES UKRAINE
As the war in Ukraine drags on, Kyiv may ultimately opt for a negotiated settlement. Until such time as Ukraine feels ready to approach the negotiating table on its own terms, however, it is not the West’s place to coerce Kyiv into accepting an armistice, much less a cease-fire, merely for the sake of cooling tensions with Russia. Even if Putin declares victory, the West should not rein in Ukraine’s efforts to liberate occupied regions in the hope that the conflict will fade away. Such an agreement could even prove counterproductive: a pause in the fighting could give the Russian military an opportunity to regroup and rearm for a new push into Ukrainian territory and simultaneously deprive the Ukrainian military of precious momentum on the battlefield. Russia would also get a chance to consolidate its gains in eastern and southern Ukraine. There are already signs that the Kremlin may attempt to stage another referendum on the establishment of the so-called Kherson’s People’s Republic in the territory Russia has newly occupied in southern Ukraine. If any hypothetical agreement were to leave Ukrainians in these occupied territories, then it would be with the full knowledge that torture, rape, killing, kidnapping, and deportation would continue, much as they have in the Russian-occupied territories in the Donbas and Crimea since 2014.

Given these circumstances, peace in Ukraine must—and will—come only through Kyiv’s victory, not its capitulation. Nothing in Putin’s track record suggests that he will voluntarily end the conflict in Ukraine on Kyiv’s terms, and there is no reason to believe that the Kremlin will honor a new agreement any more than it has honored past treaties or cease-fires. The Ukrainians believe in and are fighting for their victory. Despite the toll of the invasion, polling data and anecdotal evidence suggest that morale in the besieged country remains extraordinarily high. On the other hand, some in the West seem to peddle the idea that the United States and NATO are fighting Russia down “to the last Ukrainian.” But the Ukrainians are not fighting the West’s war, and they do not need to be coerced into resisting Russia’s aggression. There is no shortage of fighting spirit in Ukraine—or of faith in the country’s skill and potential. It is the West, apparently, that still needs convincing.
HOW TO BEAT RUSSIA
A Ukrainian victory against Russia will be defined, first and foremost, by the Ukrainians themselves. Ukraine’s triumph will likely entail the liberation of Ukrainian territories occupied after Moscow’s initial assault on February 24. This is entirely within Ukraine’s power: Ukrainian forces already succeeded in expelling Russian forces north of Kyiv in a matter of weeks and are winning back areas around the city of Kharkiv. With a constant flow of Western support and training, they will also succeed in the battle for the east and the south.
This is where Washington can and must do more: although the Biden administration’s recent announcement of $34.7 billion to fund five months’ worth of military aid is welcome, the Ukrainian army increasingly needs new and advanced weapons to fend off Russia’s military, air power, and long-range weapons. The weapons included in current U.S. packages—including towed howitzers, Soviet-era helicopters, tactical vehicles, armored personnel carriers, unmanned coastal defense vessels, and military surveillance and reconnaissance drones—are more of the same. This materiel is merely replacing what Ukrainian forces have lost or used up rather than bolstering Ukraine’s capacities; it will not hasten Russia’s defeat on the battlefield. Ukraine still needs more advanced military technology and the comprehensive training to accompany arms shipments from the West. Moreover, although the United States and its allies have provided assistance that categorically checks boxes in some areas, the total volume of aid has also been insufficient. Ukraine needs squadrons of advanced unmanned combat aerial vehicles, battalions of multiple rocket launchers, and multiple batteries of surface-to-air missile and antiship missile systems.

Peace in Ukraine must—and will—come only through Kyiv’s victory, not its capitulation.
Providing this breadth and depth of support will require institutional changes in Washington to speed up the current incremental approach to lethal aid packages. The U.S. government is already taking some important steps in this direction, albeit too slowly. The president recently signed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022—a program that I called for in these pages—into law, which will expedite arms transfers and give the president greater authority to enter into agreements with Ukraine to lend or lease defense equipment. This arrangement must be transformed from an ad hoc one to a recurring, continuous supply of arms. Otherwise, piecemeal arms shipments will continue to put out small fires in Ukraine without changing the state of play in the broader conflict. To fully implement a lend-lease program, NATO must begin to consolidate the equipment Ukraine will need for the coming weeks and months of war and establish warehouses for supplies just across the border from Ukraine in Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. Depots and stockpiles can then be organized for Ukraine to draw whatever it needs without going through a protracted requisition and delivery process. Furthermore, NATO should use its competencies in planning for war to identify what Ukraine needs to sustain the war effort now, rather than waiting for the Ukrainians to make resupply requests themselves. And as for those who are concerned that such efforts will allow Ukraine to beat Russia too soundly, such as the leaders of the National Security Council, they would do well to remember that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has consistently expressed his willingness to resolve these issues diplomatically; any failure in diplomacy thus far falls squarely on the Kremlin.
A long-term Ukrainian victory will also require both the country’s greater integration into Europe and a monumental international campaign to help rebuild Ukraine, akin to the Marshall Plan in the aftermath of World War II. Ukraine is already making swift progress in its campaign to join the EU: the Ukrainian government has submitted a formal questionnaire for EU membership, and the country could be granted candidate status within weeks. The United States admittedly has limited influence over these proceedings, but it can still project soft power—and give diplomatic nudges to allies in Europe—to encourage the expedited conferral of EU candidate status to Ukraine. As for the issue of reconstruction, the EU is planning to establish a so-called solidarity trust fund for Ukraine. The United States—as well as the United Kingdom and any other willing democratic countries—should also rally to the cause of economic revival in Ukraine. Public-private partnerships seeded with a combination of grants, private equity, and asset seizures and forfeitures from Russia could direct funds to rebuild Ukraine’s economy and infrastructure. These funds could be guided and managed by both an EU integration process and a board of directors drawn from Ukraine and the United States to ensure accountability, but Ukrainian oversight would be crucial in shaping an effective economic plan for the country.
This long-term vision for victory will not be realized, however, until security is reestablished and guaranteed in Ukraine. If peace will come only on the heels of a military breakthrough, then the United States has an obligation to help Ukraine win on the battlefield. Those worried about escalation with Russia must understand that the risks of a Ukrainian victory are greatly exaggerated. The risks of a Ukrainian loss are far greater and would entail irreversible damage to the liberal order, international law, security norms, and global stability. That is an outcome that the United States cannot afford and should be doing everything in its power to avoid.

Foreign Affairs · by Alexander Vindman · May 11, 2022

18. Threading the Needle in Southeast Asia


Excerpts:
Since the end of the Vietnam War, the United States has been remarkably consistent and successful as an offshore balancer in Southeast Asia, maintaining the stability of the region and preventing it from falling under the sway of any hegemonic power. But times have changed. Although China is a formidable competitor, it does not pose the same type of existential threat to the United States as the Soviet Union did during the Cold War. There is thus no longer any reason for Americans to bear any burden or pay any price to maintain order. ASEAN needs to better understand that U.S. priorities now revolve around domestic issues more than in previous periods. Washington, therefore, expects its partners and allies to carry more of the costs of maintaining order. ASEAN need not do everything the Biden administration may ask of it, but ASEAN urgently needs to discuss the parameters of what it is prepared to do—and equally important, what it is not prepared to do—with the United States to meet the common challenge of China.
In the absence of such clarity, the Biden administration will still politely call ASEAN “central” and attend its meetings, but Washington will in fact place much more emphasis on other partnerships such as the Quad and on particular bilateral relationships in Southeast Asia. If the United States does not prioritize ASEAN, the diminished value of the regional body may cause China, too, to take it for granted, and it will lose leverage with both powers. ASEAN and its members must better understand that strong relations with the United States are not an alternative to close relations with China but the necessary condition for such ties. ASEAN imagines itself at the center of the geopolitical competition in Southeast Asia, but it could well find itself on the margins, no longer a major actor in its own arena.

Threading the Needle in Southeast Asia
How Biden Can Work With Countries That Can’t Afford to Alienate China
May 11, 2022
Foreign Affairs · by Bilahari Kausikan · May 11, 2022
After years of their relative neglect under former U.S. President Donald Trump, the United States is once more seeking to strengthen its ties with the governments of Southeast Asia. An in-person summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will be held this week in Washington, as U.S. President Joe Biden seeks to better position his country in the wider geopolitical competition with China. The summit’s significance lies in its timing; it is being held as war rages in Ukraine, demonstrating that the United States has not lost its focus on the Indo-Pacific. But even though U.S. officials ritually invoke the importance and “centrality” of ASEAN, the regional organization is not as central to U.S. policy as many once thought it to be.
Just before Trump left office in January 2021, his administration hastily declassified and released a secret 2018 cabinet memorandum entitled “U.S. Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific” that outlined U.S. interests in the region and the means by which Washington intended to secure them. The Biden administration’s equivalent paper, issued this past February, overlapped considerably with that of its predecessor. That consistency in stated policy contrasts with the fact that, in practice, the Biden administration’s approach to the region has so far been rather different than that of Trump, who never displayed much interest in Southeast Asia and indeed could barely conceal his disinterest at regional meetings, when he deigned to attend them at all. Trump’s indifference stemmed less from a flawed strategy and more from the fact that he was erratic and undisciplined. The Biden administration marks a welcome return to normalcy by merely doing what it is supposed to do.
High-ranking U.S. officials have met with Southeast Asian leaders and toured the region. Biden attended a joint virtual summit with ASEAN in October 2021, the first U.S.-ASEAN summit since 2016. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines in July 2021 and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visited Singapore and Vietnam in August 2021. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo visited Singapore and Malaysia in November, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Malaysia and Indonesia in December 2021.
This flurry of visits and meetings was refreshing after the Trump administration’s fitful and reluctant engagement with Southeast Asia. But in common with its predecessor, the Biden administration’s approach to the region does not necessarily prioritize ASEAN, Southeast Asia’s only regionwide organization. Biden has focused on building up the security partnership between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, known as the Quad, as well as the announcement of strong new ties with Australia and the United Kingdom under the AUKUS security pact. Within Southeast Asia, the emphasis has been as much on—and perhaps more so—bilateral relationships as on working with ASEAN. This has left the organization uncertain about how central it really is in American eyes, an insecurity enhanced by Biden’s not yet having bothered to nominate an ambassador to ASEAN, a post vacant since U.S. President Barack Obama’s last appointee left the position in 2017.
More important, just practicing diplomacy as usual will not win the United States many prizes in its strategic competition with China. If the Biden administration is to really to build on its promising start in Southeast Asia, it must embrace two realities of the region. The focus in Washington on maritime competition with China misses the importance of the land; without greater U.S. engagement, Beijing’s dam-building along the upper reaches of the Mekong River gives it a potential stranglehold over the five ASEAN members through which the river runs. Relationships with capitals in the region could also be in jeopardy if the Biden administration pushes the ideological dimensions of its rivalry with China too insistently.
STILL INDISPENSABLE
When it became clear that Biden would win the presidency, many U.S. partners in Asia, including in Southeast Asia, were concerned that the new president, like Obama in his second term, would be reluctant to use hard power to counter Chinese assertiveness. These fears about the new administration have not materialized. Early actions in the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea, where U.S. warships have asserted the right to freedom of navigation in the face of extravagant Chinese maritime claims and attempts at intimidation, provided reassurance that the Biden administration would not repeat Obama’s fundamental mistake of believing that eloquent speeches could substitute for the exercise of military muscle.

Southeast Asian countries generally welcomed Biden’s bold correction of a 20-year-old error in Afghanistan to refocus on the more strategically important Indo-Pacific, even if the botched evacuation evoked echoes of the United States’ withdrawal from Vietnam and reawakened old concerns about the reliability of U.S. commitments. Notwithstanding the upcoming summit, Ukraine has since absorbed most of the day-to-day attention of U.S. policymakers. This is understandable, as a relatively peaceful and stable Southeast Asia is always going to seem less urgent to Washington when fires are burning elsewhere.
Still, the war in Ukraine has also underscored the importance of regional balances and the vital role that the United States plays in maintaining such balances. Singapore came to this conclusion decades ago. Even if they are not prepared to say so publicly, other Southeast Asian countries, too, now better understand that they have no option but to rely on U.S. power to maintain a balance in the region. Aggressive Chinese behavior in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific has underscored the reality that the United States is an irreplaceable element of any strategic balance in the wider region. The United States’ indispensability renders concerns about its reliability moot.
Biden has begun well in Southeast Asia by merely doing what he is supposed to do.
Vietnam has been cautiously establishing defense relations with the United States. Despite his anti-American bluster, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte renewed in 2021 the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement, which provides the legal basis for the presence of U.S. forces in the Philippines and for enhanced relations with Australia and Japan, the principal U.S. allies in the region. Indonesian and Malaysian diplomats might have criticized AUKUS and are wary about the Quad, but their defense establishments quietly hold different views and both countries conducted high-profile military exercises with the United States in 2021.
Singapore’s Yusof Ishak Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) 2022 State of Southeast Asia Survey, a survey of elite opinion in the ten ASEAN member states, showed that 63 percent of those surveyed welcomed U.S. regional, political, and strategic influence and 52 percent trusted the United States to do the right thing to contribute to global peace, security, prosperity, and governance. Only 19 percent said the same about China. The United States was the second most trusted major power among respondents in Southeast Asia, after Japan. The European Union was third. As in previous surveys, China remained the least trusted power, with 58 percent professing distrust of Beijing.
That doesn’t mean that the United States can rest on its laurels. Southeast Asians recognize the importance of China to the region’s future. In 2022, almost 77 percent of those surveyed by ISEAS considered China the most influential economic power in Southeast Asia, compared to a meager ten percent who thought that the United States was most influential. Nevertheless, around 76 percent worried about China’s political and strategic influence. Asked which they would choose if ASEAN were forced to align itself with either China or the United States, 57 percent of respondents chose the United States and 43 percent chose China. There is clearly an opening for the Biden administration to improve the U.S. position in Southeast Asia if it chooses to take it.
TRADE IS STRATEGY
The most obvious gap in U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific is economic. Despite China’s growing economic weight in Southeast Asia, the United States remains an important bilateral economic partner for most ASEAN members, and a preferred source for quality non-infrastructure investment, particularly at the technologically higher end of the value chain. Washington needs to leverage this advantage through more proactive and coordinated public-private efforts to promote U.S. trade and investment. That cannot be left to ad hoc efforts by the private sector or to market forces.

What’s missing is a multilateral economic program. This year, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership—an ASEAN initiative intended to rationalize its existing free trade agreements with Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand—came into force. Since the United States does not have a free trade agreement with ASEAN, it does not qualify to join the RCEP. Trump’s withdrawal in 2017 from the Trans-Pacific Partnership has proved to be a huge mistake; the move left the United States an outlier in a region where trade is strategy.
Blinken speaking in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 2021
Pool / Reuters
There is little prospect of the United States joining the TPP’s successor, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Recognizing this political reality, the Biden administration has proposed an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. But this framework is only just that—an outline whose contents have yet to be filled in. At present, it is a motley list of issues—facilitating trade, making supply chains more resilient, developing clean energy, investing in infrastructure, and shaping standards for technology, labor, and the digital economy—that need to be fleshed out into practical policies. Still, the framework at least recognizes that there is a missing economic piece to be filled. But even with more detail, these proposals are not substitutes for U.S. involvement in a multilateral deal of the scale and scope of the CPTPP.
ASEAN countries understand that the domestic politics of trade in the United States are complex. But the Biden administration should not foreclose any possibility of the United States eventually joining the CPTPP. China has applied to join the pact. Not all its members are eager to admit China, but those with reservations will find it easier to delay or block China if U.S. reentry seems plausible; they can then argue that China and the United States should be admitted together. The Biden administration should try to turn the bipartisan consensus on competition with China to its advantage by systematically recasting the CPTPP in a strategic, and not just economic, light.
DAMS AND DEMOCRACY
In its second year, the Biden administration should keep two points in mind when crafting policy on Southeast Asia. First, the land is as important as the sea. The dams that China has and continues to construct on the upper reaches of the Mekong River, which runs through the five mainland ASEAN member states, not only pose an immense ecological hazard but, together with north-south railways and highways, could entrench a dependence on Beijing that would reshape the strategic geography of Southeast Asia and could turn the boundaries between southwestern China and Southeast Asia into just lines on maps.
In 2009, the Obama administration initiated the Lower Mekong Initiative, which promised a new U.S. interest in and emphasis on the Mekong region that could balance China’s presence there. In Obama’s second term, however, the administration seemed to lose interest in its own project, perhaps because it failed to understand its strategic importance. The initiative accomplished little. It remains on the table but was overshadowed by China’s Lanchang-Mekong Cooperation Initiative. (Lanchang is what China calls the headwaters of the Mekong in its territory.) It was not until late in 2020 that the Trump administration attempted to resurrect the initiative, rebranding it as the U.S.-Mekong Partnership.
Biden should not try to enlist Southeast Asian governments in a larger clash between democracy and autocracy.
The Biden administration is reportedly in the process of crystalizing its own Mekong strategy. This will require an adequate allocation of resources and consistent and high-level attention to succeed. Mekong River issues have not received such attention from any previous administrations. The Mekong should be approached strategically in the broader context of U.S. policy toward the Indo-Pacific, rather than piecemeal as a cluster of discrete technical or environmental issues, such as water management or climate change.

Second, Washington should avoid assuming that the United States’ decentralized democracy, in which distrust of the state is ingrained, is well understood in Southeast Asia, where centralized government is the norm and a strong state is the aspiration—even if not always achieved in practice. Ideological efforts in the vein of Biden’s Summit for Democracy, convened last December, risk alienating partners in Southeast Asia. An event framed in terms of a supposedly universal contest between democracy and authoritarianism—both protean terms—would limit rather than expand support for Washington in the region. Malaysia, one of only three ASEAN members invited, declined to attend because it did not want to constrict its space to maneuver between China and the United States. In general, Southeast Asians neither find all American values attractive nor all aspects of the Chinese system abhorrent. An approach that invokes a clash between democracy and autocracy will only risk alienating governments that do not look at the world in such absolutist and simplistic binary categories and have no wish to be forced into them. The Biden administration would be ill advised to pursue such ideological projects much further in Southeast Asia.
FROM THE CENTER TO THE MARGINS
Since the end of the Vietnam War, the United States has been remarkably consistent and successful as an offshore balancer in Southeast Asia, maintaining the stability of the region and preventing it from falling under the sway of any hegemonic power. But times have changed. Although China is a formidable competitor, it does not pose the same type of existential threat to the United States as the Soviet Union did during the Cold War. There is thus no longer any reason for Americans to bear any burden or pay any price to maintain order. ASEAN needs to better understand that U.S. priorities now revolve around domestic issues more than in previous periods. Washington, therefore, expects its partners and allies to carry more of the costs of maintaining order. ASEAN need not do everything the Biden administration may ask of it, but ASEAN urgently needs to discuss the parameters of what it is prepared to do—and equally important, what it is not prepared to do—with the United States to meet the common challenge of China.
In the absence of such clarity, the Biden administration will still politely call ASEAN “central” and attend its meetings, but Washington will in fact place much more emphasis on other partnerships such as the Quad and on particular bilateral relationships in Southeast Asia. If the United States does not prioritize ASEAN, the diminished value of the regional body may cause China, too, to take it for granted, and it will lose leverage with both powers. ASEAN and its members must better understand that strong relations with the United States are not an alternative to close relations with China but the necessary condition for such ties. ASEAN imagines itself at the center of the geopolitical competition in Southeast Asia, but it could well find itself on the margins, no longer a major actor in its own arena.

Foreign Affairs · by Bilahari Kausikan · May 11, 2022

19. The Ukraine War Might Kill China’s Nuclear No First Use Policy

Excerpts:
This thinking would build on the premise that China enjoys an asymmetry of commitment: for Beijing, Taiwan is a piece of Chinese territory and a litmus test of the CCP’s fitness to rule China, while for Washington, Taiwan is only one of many security partners in a region far from the U.S. homeland. The CCP government is therefore prepared to sacrifice millions of lives to annex Taiwan, while it doubts whether Americans could continue fighting a war that resulted in the loss of a single capital ship.
If Beijing decides it is willing to issue a nuclear threat in the hope that this will win a cross-strait war for China, it must dispense with the obstacle of NFU. The Chinese government could announce an amendment to NFU stipulating that it does not apply to the Taiwan situation or, more generally, to cases of foreigners using military force to “split Chinese territory” – in other words, a “no first use” policy that actually allows for first use. Alternatively, Beijing could say it is dropping NFU altogether, justifying the change as appropriate for China’s new great power status and necessary to counter alleged intensified U.S. efforts to “contain” China.
If it abrogated NFU, the Chinese government would correctly claim that China was only bringing its policy in line with those of the other nuclear powers. But this development would be ugly indeed if inspired by Putin’s war in Ukraine and if intended to facilitate a new and equally odious war to conquer Taiwan.
The Ukraine War Might Kill China’s Nuclear No First Use Policy
Putin has used nuclear threats to prevent direct NATO intervention in the Ukraine War. Could China do the same in a Taiwan conflict?
thediplomat.com · by Denny Roy · May 11, 2022
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China and India are the only nuclear-armed countries in the world with a nuclear “no first use” policy (NFU). Beijing pledges that in the event of a conflict, China would use its nuclear weapons only after an enemy nuclear strike against China. It is in the interest of the United States and other potential adversaries that China maintain NFU, which is a unilateral Chinese strategic self-restriction. China’s NFU, however, is increasingly under strain, and the Ukraine war might provide the final persuasive impetus for Chinese leaders to dump the policy.
Strategists in China are already questioning the usefulness of NFU, proclaimed in 1964, in an era when China is a nascent great power confidently moving to change the strategic status quo in the Asia-Pacific region.
NFU seems disconnected from the dramatic expansion of China’s nuclear capabilities. The U.S. Department of Defense assesses that China’s estimated total of 250 nuclear warheads will likely increase to 1,000 by 2027. China recently demonstrated hypersonic glide vehicle and fractional orbital bombardment capabilities and is shifting its readiness posture toward keeping some of its missiles loaded with nuclear warheads in peacetime.
Chinese analysts who dislike NFU have argued that China is already at a nuclear disadvantage vis-a-vis the United States, which has a much larger arsenal, and therefore cannot afford the additional disadvantage of unilaterally restricting its own options through NFU. NFU takes away the option of attempting to block an unwanted move by an adversary by credibly threatening to escalate to the use of a tactical nuclear weapon in certain circumstances.

Furthermore, some enemy military attacks against China using conventional weapons could produce damage comparable to an attack by a tactical nuclear weapon. An example is a hypothetical strike on the Three Gorges Dam, which could cause massive death and destruction. Hence, some analysts argue that China should not base its policy on a meaningless distinction between the most powerful conventional weapons and a small nuclear weapon.
Finally, some Chinese analysts have already suggested that a “large-scale foreign military intervention” attempting to impede China’s conduct of a “war of safeguarding national unity” – obviously referring to a Taiwan Strait war scenario – should be an exception to NFU.
NFU would not be the first principle Beijing discarded because it had become obsolete. For example, during the Cold War the Chinese government proudly cited its lack of foreign military bases as proof of China’s benevolence, in contrast to “imperialist” countries such as the United States that had many overseas bases. That stance became non-viable as China grew into a major economic power with global interests that needed protecting. Beijing has dropped this position since acquiring its first unambiguous foreign base, in Djibouti, in 2017. More are on the way.
There is also precedent for Beijing interpreting, or re-interpreting, principles in a way that effectively negates them in practical policy terms. In 2015, Chinese leader Xi Jinping told U.S. President Barack Obama that “China does not intend to pursue militarization” of its newly-built artificial islands in the South China Sea. Americans understood that to mean China would not turn them into military bases. Subsequently, however, the Chinese placed fighter jets, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, and signals jamming equipment on the artificial islands. Shortly after the Obama-Xi summit, a Chinese government spokesperson had explained that not “militarizing” the islands would not preclude the installation of “necessary military facilities for defense purposes only.” She added, “There is no such thing [as] China ‘militarizing’ relevant islands and reefs.” Beijing had stated what seemed a clear principle but then defined it in a way that justified behavior that seemingly violated the principle.
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Some U.S. observers have long been skeptical about Beijing’s willingness to honor NFU in practice. Statements by People’s Liberation Army generals have sometimes stoked this skepticism, even if misunderstood. One well-known anecdote involves a Chinese general, often identified as Xiong Guangkai, reportedly telling U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Chas Freeman in 1996 that China was confident U.S. forces would not try to stop China’s military conquest of Taiwan because Americans “care more about Los Angeles than they do about Taiwan,” seemingly implying that China would respond to a conventional conflict by nuking a city on the U.S. mainland – and also implying that the PLA did not take NFU seriously. Freeman, however, later clarified that what his Chinese interlocutor actually said was that unlike during the 1950s, the United States could no longer expect to cow China with nuclear threats because China now has its own nuclear retaliatory capability. It was not a disavowal of NFU, even if many Americans mis-remember it that way.
In 2005, PLA Major General Zhu Chenghu told a group of visiting Hong Kong journalists that China would use nuclear weapons if the United States intervened in a cross-strait military conflict. Zhu was then a professor at China’s National Defense University, not directly involved in formulating China’s military policy. The Chinese government reportedly reprimanded him for speaking out of turn.
There are several aspects of the Ukraine War that should discourage China from attempting to forcibly annex Taiwan. Ukraine has put up a surprisingly tough fight against a much larger and better-armed opponent, thwarting some of Russia’s apparent objectives. The swiftness and harshness of international sanctions to punish Russia for its aggression, even by countries that do significant business with Russia, was also surprising. And the war has jolted Taiwan into making better preparations against a possible military attack from China.
At the same time, however, the Chinese government saw the Russians demonstrate the utility of threatening to escalate to the use of nuclear weapons. Just before invading Ukraine on February 24, Putin publicly warned that “whoever tries to interfere” would suffer “consequences that you have never experienced in your history,” a thinly veiled reference to nuclear weapons. That threat colored NATO’s early response to the war. Discussions of the risks of a no-fly zone highlighted the danger that Russian President Vladimir Putin would retaliate with a nuclear strike. Former U.S. ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker lamented that “we have been intimidated by Russia, fearing that [Putin] might reach for a nuclear weapon.”
Beijing’s main concern in a Taiwan Strait war is the likelihood of U.S intervention, which would probably also bring in Japan as a combatant against China. Keeping the United States and Japan out of the conflict would dramatically increase the PLA’s prospects for victory. Xi’s advisers might believe there is a fair chance that if Beijing issued a Putin-like threat to go nuclear if the U.S. military got involved, Washington would decide the risk of losing a U.S. city or even an aircraft carrier battle group is unacceptable.
This thinking would build on the premise that China enjoys an asymmetry of commitment: for Beijing, Taiwan is a piece of Chinese territory and a litmus test of the CCP’s fitness to rule China, while for Washington, Taiwan is only one of many security partners in a region far from the U.S. homeland. The CCP government is therefore prepared to sacrifice millions of lives to annex Taiwan, while it doubts whether Americans could continue fighting a war that resulted in the loss of a single capital ship.
If Beijing decides it is willing to issue a nuclear threat in the hope that this will win a cross-strait war for China, it must dispense with the obstacle of NFU. The Chinese government could announce an amendment to NFU stipulating that it does not apply to the Taiwan situation or, more generally, to cases of foreigners using military force to “split Chinese territory” – in other words, a “no first use” policy that actually allows for first use. Alternatively, Beijing could say it is dropping NFU altogether, justifying the change as appropriate for China’s new great power status and necessary to counter alleged intensified U.S. efforts to “contain” China.
If it abrogated NFU, the Chinese government would correctly claim that China was only bringing its policy in line with those of the other nuclear powers. But this development would be ugly indeed if inspired by Putin’s war in Ukraine and if intended to facilitate a new and equally odious war to conquer Taiwan.
GUEST AUTHOR
Denny Roy
Denny Roy is a senior fellow at the East-West Center.
thediplomat.com · by Denny Roy · May 11, 2022


20. What Victory Will Look Like in Ukraine


Excerpts:

Russia has been complicit in ghastly doings for the past several decades—think Grozny and Aleppo, not to mention Crimea and Donbas. But now it bears the mark of Cain. Brother-murder is the oldest human crime, and until February 24, 2022, Russia claimed the Ukrainians as brothers. The utterly unjustified nature of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, its exceptional brutality, the shamelessness of Russia’s lies and threats, and the grotesqueness of its claims to hegemony in the former Soviet states will make it more than usually difficult to bring it back into a Eurasian order that it, and no one else, has attempted to destroy.
This will be the hardest task of American statecraft going forward: dealing with a Russia reeling from defeat and humiliation, weakened but still dangerous, isolated but not without sympathizers or at least willing collaborators around the world. Containment in its original form presupposed a Soviet Union dominated by a rationalist ideology that would, sooner or later, perish of its own recognized failure to deliver the goods. This will be much more like dealing with a rabid, wounded beast that claws and bites at itself as much as it does at others, in the grip not of a millennial ideology but a bizarre combination of nationalism and nihilism.
Yet the West will not have much choice other than to strengthen the states on Russia’s periphery, in Central Asia as in Eastern Europe, and to hope against hope that the new “sick man of Europe” will, somehow and against the odds, recover something like moral sanity. There will be no return to normalcy or status quo ante here. We are, instead, looking at a long, well-armed, and watchful wait.
What Victory Will Look Like in Ukraine
There will be no return to normalcy or status quo ante.
The Atlantic · by Eliot A. Cohen · May 11, 2022
Staff officers often seethe quietly at an absence of precise political objectives for a war. After all, they frequently think, the really hard part is the marshaling and direction of air, land, and sea forces against a reacting enemy. Surely politicians could make that task easier by providing clear and constant purposes. Alas, the officers are invariably disappointed, and the war in Ukraine shows why.
One might think Ukrainian objectives should be clear. Not so. They include independence, a free form of government, and the restoration of sovereignty within Ukrainian territory. But Kyiv will have to decide what the last goal means—accepting the loss of further terrain in the east and south, pushing for the restoration of the pre–February 24 line of contact, recovering portions of Donbas lost in the 2010s, or recovering everything, including Crimea, that was part of Ukraine in 2007.
Ukrainian politicians must decide, too, whether to seek reparations and reconstruction aid, and whether freedom to join the European Union and the possibility of joining NATO have to be part of the eventual peace settlement. That assumes, of course, that there is one, rather than a frozen conflict of the kind that has cost thousands of Ukrainian casualties in Donetsk and Luhansk from 2014 to the present.
Russian objectives were clear enough at the beginning: overthrowing the Zelensky government, occupying all of Ukraine (or at least all of eastern Ukraine), and reducing the country to client status (much like Belarus), or even reincorporating it into what would effectively be a reestablished Russian empire.
Defeat on the outskirts of Kyiv forced a change in Russian objectives to the complete occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas, and of the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, including Odesa. Their objectives then shifted once again, to the creation of a land bridge from Russia to the Crimean peninsula, and the occupation of almost all of Donbas. Objectives may eventually shift once more, to the creation of a frozen conflict that will cripple the Ukrainian state. Meanwhile, the surprisingly robust Western response will almost certainly make relief from Western financial and trading sanctions a crucial Russian objective. And should Russia face more tangible and costly battlefield defeats, the preservation of Vladimir Putin’s rule—not in play before the war—will become a crucial objective as well.
From the point of view of Ukraine’s Western allies, objectives have also shifted. Originally their purpose was supporting a plucky but doomed Ukrainian conventional battle for survival and helping lay the groundwork for an insurgency that would make Russia pay a price for its aggression. When it became clear that Ukraine could bleed Russian forces dry and even defeat them, the goals subtly changed. As Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently said, the U.S. now aims to weaken Russia to the point that it is incapable of similar future aggression against Ukraine or any NATO states.
These are the more or less tangible objectives of each side. There are the intangible ones as well, captured in words like humiliationdignityreputationretribution, and vindication. War is about passion and ideas no less than slices of territory. Ignoring the importance of those emotions, which are just as real as the more concrete purposes often discussed, would be a mistake.
Thus, in this war, as in so many in the past, it is not simply the objectives that shape the battles, but also the battles that shape the objectives. Some objectives may be stated, others implicit, some barely admitted even privately. Retaining a sense of direction in war is a constant struggle for political and military leaders at the top, and so the staff officers (and the commentary journalists) are doomed to frustration. It was ever thus: In 1939, Britain’s war to preserve Polish independence became a war to overthrow Hitler and remake Germany; by 1945, America’s war to contain Japan’s Asian expansionism and retaliate for Pearl Harbor had become nothing less than a project to eliminate European empires, establish an open global economic order, and rescue Europe from Communist, and not just Nazi, dictatorship.
The United States, as leader of the Western coalition, still has a lot of thinking to do about political objectives in this war. The most important given is one already laid down in American policy—namely, that it will be up to Ukraine to decide what it wishes to accomplish. That country is bearing the burdens of blood and sacrifice on a scale not seen since World War II, and its cause is indisputably just. It has every right to decide what it can and cannot accept and strive for.
The battlefield facts, as far as we can know them, are that Ukraine is winning the war. A brutal and incompetent Russian military has suffered terrible losses; its reserves consist largely of untrained men who would draw on stocks of weapons and ammunition that have been badly maintained or rotted out by corruption. Its generals have proved unable to orchestrate a campaign to gain air superiority or launch concentrated thrusts into Ukrainian territory. And it has acted with unspeakable barbarity in the matters of pillage, deportation, rape, and murder—activities that carry with them the curse of indiscipline as well as criminality. These are moral facts that will, and should, modify or even outweigh coolly geopolitical calculations of the European balance of power.
The Ukrainians, though, while still under pressure, are less outnumbered than one might think—they may very well, for example, have more tanks in the theater than the Russians do, in part because of captures. In theory, drawing as they can on a population of 40 million, they can put large armies in the field. Unlike the Russians, they have (thanks to the U.S., Europe, and others, such as the Australians and Japanese) sources of weapons not likely to be disrupted by sanctions or sheer inefficiency. From the same sources, they also have far more extensive methods for collecting and analyzing intelligence than the Russians enjoy. Their combat motivation is unquestionably higher, and they have shown far greater ingenuity and combat skill than a Russian army that still relies on vast volumes of artillery fire, laying down devastation through which indifferently trained and maintained tanks and infantry-fighting vehicles advance.
As the Ukrainians accumulate more battlefield successes, they will raise their sights. The Russian army, having suffered tens of thousands of casualties and lost much of its frontline equipment, is making what might be its final, convulsive efforts at destroying Ukrainian forces in the south and east of that country. Like their previous efforts, these too will probably fail, and the possibility will open up of Russian routs along their 300-mile-long front line. A stalemate is also conceivable, and would create one set of plausible objectives for each side; a collapse of the Russian military is somewhat more so, and would create very different objectives.
Every war must end, and this one will as well. One set of follow-on objectives for the West is clear: helping Ukraine rebuild and put itself in a condition to defeat further Russian aggression. Similarly, it is both necessary and likely that NATO will emerge from this conflict larger, more united, and more powerful than before.
But all of this leaves the problem of Russia. It will not be reconstructed from without, as Germany and Japan were after World War II. If it is convulsed from within, it is less likely to be dominated by liberals (many of whom have fled the country) than by disgruntled nationalists. Putin may go, but his replacements are likely to come from similar backgrounds in the secret police or, possibly, the military. And it will not be able to rejoin the international community as it was.
Russia has been complicit in ghastly doings for the past several decades—think Grozny and Aleppo, not to mention Crimea and Donbas. But now it bears the mark of Cain. Brother-murder is the oldest human crime, and until February 24, 2022, Russia claimed the Ukrainians as brothers. The utterly unjustified nature of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, its exceptional brutality, the shamelessness of Russia’s lies and threats, and the grotesqueness of its claims to hegemony in the former Soviet states will make it more than usually difficult to bring it back into a Eurasian order that it, and no one else, has attempted to destroy.
This will be the hardest task of American statecraft going forward: dealing with a Russia reeling from defeat and humiliation, weakened but still dangerous, isolated but not without sympathizers or at least willing collaborators around the world. Containment in its original form presupposed a Soviet Union dominated by a rationalist ideology that would, sooner or later, perish of its own recognized failure to deliver the goods. This will be much more like dealing with a rabid, wounded beast that claws and bites at itself as much as it does at others, in the grip not of a millennial ideology but a bizarre combination of nationalism and nihilism.
Yet the West will not have much choice other than to strengthen the states on Russia’s periphery, in Central Asia as in Eastern Europe, and to hope against hope that the new “sick man of Europe” will, somehow and against the odds, recover something like moral sanity. There will be no return to normalcy or status quo ante here. We are, instead, looking at a long, well-armed, and watchful wait.
The Atlantic · by Eliot A. Cohen · May 11, 2022

21. China’s Covid crisis is Xi’s to lose

Excerpts:
Its policies – reliance on vaccines developed in China, failure to ensure that more vulnerable older people were fully vaccinated – therefore look like crucial errors, and ones for which the country is now paying a high price, both socially and economically. These errors have been ruthlessly exposed by the more transmissible omicron variant.
Given the Communist Party’s longstanding reliance on economic growth for support, it now faces an enormous challenge ahead of the autumn Party Congress, which some think will set Xi up as leader for life.
While the authorities can censor criticism and information on the economic and social costs of its strategies, the threat of major outbreaks across China’s largest cities mean the risks remain high for Xi and his party. It will be a long six months until the Party Congress.
China’s Covid crisis is Xi’s to lose
China’s Covid dilemma complicated by the difficulty of challenging a ‘zero-Covid’ strategy so closely associated with the top leader
By JANE DUCKETT, MEIXUAN CHEN And WILLIAM WANG
MAY 11, 2022
asiatimes.com · by Jane Duckett · May 11, 2022
More than two years after a deadly strain of coronavirus was first identified in the central city of Wuhan, China remains locked in a Covid crisis. Around 400 million people are currently thought to be living under some form of lockdown across the country.
One of China’s largest cities, Shanghai, has been paralyzed for the past month, with many of its residents hemmed in by hastily erected metal fences. The capital, Beijing, is now striving to avoid a similar fate.
The extraordinary story of China’s ongoing, and increasingly desperate, struggle against Covid-19 combines hubris at its own early public health successes with a failure to sufficiently vaccinate its elderly people, and is fuelled by rising anti-Western sentiment over the last five years.

The result is that China now faces a dilemma: either the high numbers of deaths and overwhelmed health services that would result from a rampant virus, or the rapidly mounting social and economic costs of prolonged lockdowns and stay-at-home orders nationwide.
But resolving China’s Covid dilemma and finding a route out of the pandemic is complicated by the difficulties of challenging a “zero-Covid” strategy so closely associated with China’s top leader, Xi Jinping.
Xi is due to be re-appointed for a controversial third term as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party at its five-yearly Congress in the autumn. He will not want a rampant virus and high death rates to tarnish his reputation and undermine his, and the Party’s, claims that they have handled the pandemic better than other countries.
How did China get to this point? And what can it do to resolve a crisis that threatens not just the health and security of its people, but of the world’s largest economy – and those of the many countries that rely on its vast supply chains.
At the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Centre for China Research, we have been tracking the rollercoaster evolution of the Chinese government’s Covid strategy, and the impacts of its containment measures, since news of the virus first reached us in early 2020.

Combining on-the-ground reports from researchers with reviews of policy documents and social media outpourings, this is our analysis of China’s Covid crisis – present, past and future.
Groundhog day
“Every day I wake up to find it is the first day of the 14-day cycle.” This is the title of a Wechat blogpost (now deleted) by Wei Zhou, a well-known reporter, columnist and long-term resident of Shanghai. The city he shares with more than 26 million people has been under a strict Covid lockdown for more than a month now.
Wei Zhou’s title refers to the regulation that states a residential compound’s 14-day lockdown period must reset to zero every time someone new tests positive. As a result, residents find themselves in a world of Kafka-esque absurdity, potentially subject to the ire of their neighbors if they test positive, unsure about what happens next.
Drone video footage of deserted Shanghai streets.
But just as Shanghai residents may now regard every day as Groundhog Day, the Communist Party leadership might also be wondering how China can escape this pandemic – and the dilemma it has created. More than two years after the first Covid lockdown in Wuhan, China is again struggling to contain the spread of the latest variant, omicron.
In a desperate attempt to avoid the socio-economic chaos and political damage seen in Shanghai, China’s capital Beijing began eight rounds of mass testing in early May following an outbreak of cases. It has re-opened a mass isolation center, forbidden dining in all restaurants, and closed kindergartens, schools and colleges until at least May 11.

The situation is fast-changing: all 6.6 million residents of Chaoyang and Haidian districts have just been told to follow stay-at-home orders, three metro lines have been suspended and six others partially closed.
Meanwhile, in Shanghai, whose streets remain hauntingly empty despite falling infection rates, the future is unclear. Since cases began to appear in early March, residents have experienced a series of measures that demonstrate the authorities’ still-evolving approach to dealing with outbreaks.
After first sealing off Shanghai, cutting transport links in and out, they rolled out mass testing across the entire population, dividing the city into two halves and preventing movement in between.
They then introduced three-zone prevention and control measures that divided the city into “sealed control zones” subject to stay-at-home orders, “managed control zones” allowing people limited local mobility, and “precautionary zones” with (supposedly) fewer restrictions.
In theory, this approach would avoid a city-wide lockdown through highly localized measures. In practice, it has done the opposite because the rules have been implemented so strictly.

Despite infection rates falling steadily since mid-April, even residents in precautionary zones still need a permit to leave their immediate area and go on to the streets. Private cars require a permit to move around the city. University students in Shanghai have been notified their classes will continue online until at least the end of June.
At the same time as doubling down on their efforts to contain omicron, the Chinese authorities have done their best to downplay them. Local governments sometimes employ euphemistic terms while asserting they are not deploying city-wide lockdowns.
The three-zone policy is an example, but while it creates confusion for residents – such that Tencent and other online companies now provide real-time maps of restrictions in different neighborhoods and cities – it also offers some hope of a route to fewer restrictions. In so doing, it may switch residents’ attention from criticizing the government to caring about case numbers in their neighborhoods.
Residential buildings sealed off by Covid fences in Shanghai’s Pudong district. Photo: Shutterstock via The Conversation
And while Shanghai’s lockdown has made the news internationally, it is far from the only place to be experiencing severe restrictions. Reliable national figures on the extent of travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders are difficult to acquire, but it has been estimated that between 45 and 87 of China’s cities, from the north-east to the south-west, may now have some form of stay-at-home order in place.
Even before Beijing and Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, went into lockdown on May 4, estimates suggested as many as 375 million people were affected.
The countryside is being hit too, even in less densely populated rural areas. Farmers in some parts of the northeast require “spring sowing certificates” to be able to work their fields. At least one farmer has been detained for breaking Covid restrictions while simply working alone in his field.
Rising social and economic costs
For some Chinese citizens, the social costs of the authorities’ stringent measures have been extremely serious – and in some cases, fatal.
With stay-at-home orders heavy-handedly enforced by officials under pressure to prevent the virus spreading, we have seen numerous reports on social media of delivery drivers being confined in residential compounds, shoppers returning home to find they are unable to get back into their apartments, and children as young as two being separated from their parents and forced to quarantine in isolation centers.
With highways and service areas around Shanghai closed at short notice, many drivers have been trapped inside their trucks, including one who spent two weeks on the road between Chongqing and Shanghai – a drive that should have taken two days.
In some parts of Shanghai, residents have suffered food shortages. Others have been unable to seek hospital treatment because they cannot get the permits they now need for treatment of even chronic and terminal illnesses.
A 98-year-old woman died while waiting for a Covid test result before she could get medical treatment for chronic renal failure, and an elderly man died because he could not get his regular dialysis treatment.
A retired infectious disease expert, Dr Miu Xiaohui, estimated in a subsequently-censored blogpost that the excess mortality from diabetes alone during Shanghai’s one-month lockdown had been 2,141 people.
Suicides, mental health issues and other social problems have been reported on Chinese social media. In Shanghai, a female journalist apparently fell from a building on May 5 after her anti-depressants ran out and a district health official reportedly took his own life while at work on April 13 due to the stress of his Covid enforcement duties.
Meanwhile, across China’s locked-down cities, we have seen reports that domestic violence is on the rise. The charity Orange Umbrella, which campaigns against gender violence, published three posts on May 5 under the heading: “A Guide for Seeking Help in Lockdown.”

And then there are the economic costs. In Shanghai, suspended manufacturing activities can only restart if businesses commit to “closed-loop management” – a system used during the recent Winter Olympics in Beijing that creates a self-contained environment so the virus cannot be brought in.
Employees are required to remain on site at all times – difficult for employers with no dormitory facilities. Production problems, compounded by difficulties transporting goods due to travel restrictions, are currently disrupting supply chains in the Shanghai area, with knock-on effects for global supply chains.
Within China, consumer demand is down, negatively affecting financial markets, and China’s currency, the Renminbi, has been weakened. The International Monetary Fund has revised down its economic growth forecast for China in 2022 from 5.5% last October to 4.4% in April, with some investment banks even less optimistic.
There are more than 70,000 foreign-invested companies in Shanghai alone. According to a survey by the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, 65% of responding EU companies’ logistics and warehousing and 53% of their supply chains are being “significantly” disrupted by China’s zero-Covid strategy.
It reports: “Supply chains have taken a pounding … 23% of respondents are now considering shifting current or planned investments out of China to other markets – more than double the number that were considering doing so at the beginning of 2022, and the highest proportion in a decade.”
Frustration, criticism and censorship
As the social and economic costs rise, the Chinese authorities are encountering more dissatisfaction and online criticism than at any time in the pandemic. In Shanghai in particular, some residents have reached the end of their tether, leading to disputes with local officials in the streets, and refusals to take tests or go into centralized isolation facilities.
A blog entitled “Shanghainese endurance has reached the extreme point”, published by the anonymous Ordinary Shanghainese, received more than 20 million hits.
A residential building is locked down by a medical worker in Shanghai’s Pudong district. Photo: Shutterstock via The Conversation
While the government stubbornly maintains its dynamic zero-Covid strategy, overzealous implementation by local officials has sparked outrage and a sense that the anti-Covid policies are more damaging than the virus itself. A fierce argument broke out in Shanghai, for example, when local officials tried to seal residents’ front doors to keep them in their apartments, attracting widespread attention.
Confined to their homes, Chinese citizens can still share their experiences and frustrations online using the social media platforms WeChat, TikTok and the microblogging site Sina Weibo. Despite government efforts to censor this content, our researchers pick up some of what is being said before it is removed, while some also reach international audiences via Twitter in particular.
These netizens’ posts and videos show citizens coming together to bulk-buy food and basic necessities, as well as satirizing the authorities and exposing problems. A video of an official brutally killing a pet dog inspired outrage across Chinese social media before being censored.
A video called Voices of April, a compilation of Shanghai citizens’ pleas for help and cries of distress, also went viral, as have rap songs mocking the government’s policies and slogans. Other users have collated online data about deaths – so far they claim at least 197 – linked to the Shanghai containment measures rather than the virus itself, using blockchain so their statistics cannot be deleted.

Residents’ online reports and opinions are mixed with those of medical researchers, local officials and Covid volunteers. These personal, family stories demystify and sometimes defy the official picture of omicron, which continues to dominate state-affiliated television, radio and social media accounts. China’s generational digital divide means older people who are dependent on traditional media for their information may typically be much less critical of the situation.
Despite some attempts to question how the pandemic is currently being handled, the Chinese government’s policy remains “dynamic zero” or “static management” – enforcing localized lockdowns throughout the country. But why? First, an uncontrolled spread of Covid coupled with its low vaccination rates among older people could lead to overwhelmed hospitals and high fatality rates, as was seen recently in Hong Kong.
But there is also a political dimension to the dilemma facing China’s authorities. President Xi has personally advocated the zero-tolerance approach and is closely associated with it.
He is reported to have told the World Health Organization’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, that he was “personally commanding” the response. He restated his commitment to the policy this year and, during the Winter Olympics in February, quoted an international athlete saying that China deserved a “gold medal” for its COVID control.
Should the virus spread out of control, the damage to Xi could be highly significant in this politically important year. The 20th Communist Party Congress will take place sometime in the autumn, and a devastating spread of the virus could jeopardize Xi’s chances of reappointment. This means there is even greater pressure on local officials to prevent and contain outbreaks, and the result is the excesses that have been seen.
Local officials have sometimes deployed mass testing and stay-at-home orders even when there have been only a handful of cases – for example, in Baotou after two cases, in Baoding after four cases, and in Shaoyang in Hunan province after just one case. Elsewhere, the city government of Qian‘an in Hebei province has demanded that its residents should hand over the keys to their homes to prevent them from leaving.
How did China get here?
When the opthalmologist Li Wenliang warned colleagues in his WeChat group of a dangerous new virus spreading in Wuhan in late December 2019, he was silenced and reprimanded for spreading rumors.
The local government covered up and played down the seriousness of the situation. Yet three weeks later, the Chinese authorities were forced to publicly acknowledge “human-to-human” Covid-19 transmission, and announce the sudden lockdown of this entire city.
When Li died of Covid in early February 2020, public outrage appeared briefly to be threatening the Communist Party’s authority and legitimacy. Yet the Party managed to turn this situation around.
It deployed its substantial powers to censor online criticism and generate positive (often nationalist) media narratives, calling for the Chinese nation to support its heroic doctors and locked down citizens in Wuhan.
Wuhan stands empty during the first city-wide Covid lockdown in 2020. Photo: Shutterstock via The Conversation
Many of the personal tragedies in Wuhan during January and February 2020 were widely shared on social media: the teenager with cerebral palsy who died after his carers were taken away to an isolation center; the migrants without work and income; people dragged from their homes after testing positive.
But the Party’s internet and traditional media censors and controls gradually established a more positive narrative while removing these stories and accounts of overwhelmed hospitals, morgues and crematoriums.
At the same time, the authorities mobilized all their resources to create and adapt containment measures, building two enormous (temporary) cabin hospitals and ensuring supplies of food, medicine and doctors into Wuhan.
Travel restrictions and strictly policed stay-at-home orders, mass testing and “centralized isolation” of close contacts – though painful for some citizens – appeared to be vindicated when infections fell to zero and the number of reported deaths remained static at fewer than 5,000.
State-controlled media began to boast that this demonstrated the superiority of China’s political system as compared with Western democracies. They reported the high numbers of Covid deaths in the US and Europe, building on the Party’s call in 2012 for greater national confidence, and ratcheting up nationalist and anti-western rhetoric that had been fuelled by a trade war with the US during the Trump administration.
After Wuhan was reopened in early April 2020, just as Covid cases were soaring around the world, the Chinese authorities moved to hone the approach they had developed. They shifted from whole-city lockdowns to a more targeted approach that restricted movement only in residential areas where cases emerged.
In late summer 2020, this “dynamic zero” approach successfully contained isolated outbreaks in Hebei and Beijing, then elsewhere during 2021. The Party-led “war against Covid” had seemingly turned the situation around.
China’s key mistakes
It now looks, however, as though hubris over the successful containment of Covid in 2020 and 2021 led the Chinese leadership to underestimate the importance of vaccinating the most vulnerable of its population. Furthermore, nationalist rhetoric around the pandemic has led it to rely solely on Chinese-produced vaccines.
As the world raced to develop Covid vaccines in 2020, the Chinese authorities pumped resources into their own vaccine development. But Chinese vaccines, which use long-established techniques, have proved less effective than new mRNA vaccines available internationally: Hong Kong scientists have recommended a fourth shot of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine to ensure full protection.
Despite this, the Chinese authorities still have not imported vaccines, instead investing in developing mRNA vaccines – yet to be approved – at home.
Covid vaccination rates remain low among older Chinese people. Photo: Shutterstock via The Conversation
Compounding the problems of this nationalist vaccine strategy, the authorities sought first to vaccinate healthcare workers and other frontline workers, rather than older cohorts of the population.
This made sense in 2020, when infection rates nationwide were low, but as vaccinations were rolled out nationwide, we saw an insufficient push to reach the elderly. So while overall levels of vaccination seem high at around 86%, older people are still much less likely to be adequately vaccinated.
In April 2022, China’s National Health Commission reported that 44% of people aged 60–69, 52% of people aged 70–79, and 81% of people aged over 80 had not had a third (booster) dose. This means some 92 million people in China over the age of 60 are at risk of serious illness and death.
In Hong Kong, which had a similar pattern (58%, 69% and 83% in the same three age groups) but used the better-performing BioNTech vaccine as well as CoronaVac, an outbreak of the omicron variant from mid-February to April 2022 led to the world’s highest-recorded death rates.
The reason for the low vaccination rates among older Chinese people is not well understood. However, it seems to be a combination of China’s policy of not prioritizing older groups, a lack of trust in the vaccine and fears about adverse health effects of the vaccines on the elderly. More recently, the available medical resources have been concentrated on mass testing, perhaps at the expense of vaccinating people.
Today, the Chinese government still reports relatively low rates of Covid infections and deaths compared with many other countries around the world. Indeed, until recently, its reported deaths had barely increased since the original Wuhan outbreak was brought under control.
However, official deaths in the Shanghai outbreak are creeping up: by May 7, 535 deaths caused by Covid had been declared, taking the total in China since the start of the pandemic to 5,166. But a recent BBC report questioned the reliability of these numbers, suggesting that many Covid-related deaths were going unrecorded.
President Xi’s leadership is due to be extended in the autumn. Photo: Shutterstock via The Conversation
Because Xi and the rest of the Communist Party leadership have made clear their priority is to minimize Covid deaths, and since they have used their low death figures to tout the superiority of their political system, officials nationwide are under pressure to keep deaths low and may be encouraged to under-count or under-report them.
But herein lies another dilemma: if the Shanghai numbers are so low, this leaves the authorities open to criticism that its anti-Covid policies are excessive, with as many people at risk from the consequences of containment than from the virus itself.
Another challenge to China shifting its Covid policy may, in fact, be its success in communicating how deadly the virus is. In early March 2022, when some university students tested positive in Jilin Province, fellow students on the same dormitory floor were distraught – horrified they might die from Covid.
Another citizen was reportedly relieved to have been diagnosed with lung cancer rather than Covid. And in Shanghai last month, some residents refused to have any contact with their neighbors who had returned from a cabin isolation center, even after they had tested negative for the virus.
Policy shift ruled out
Even if Covid is contained in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities, China’s citizens face the continued prospect of restrictions being imposed at any moment. There is no indication that the Communist Party leadership intends to modify its approach, despite several high-profile medical professionals recently signaling that an exit strategy is needed.
On May 5, Chinese state media reported a speech by President Xi in which he not only reiterated the leadership’s commitment to the zero-Covid policy, but also signaled that dissenting voices had been noticed but would not be heeded. A carefully choreographed shift in policy now seems to have been ruled out at least until the end of this year.
The leadership knows that any relaxation of the zero-Covid approach is likely to result in escalating deaths across the country, particularly given the pattern of vaccinations.
Its policies – reliance on vaccines developed in China, failure to ensure that more vulnerable older people were fully vaccinated – therefore look like crucial errors, and ones for which the country is now paying a high price, both socially and economically. These errors have been ruthlessly exposed by the more transmissible omicron variant.
Given the Communist Party’s longstanding reliance on economic growth for support, it now faces an enormous challenge ahead of the autumn Party Congress, which some think will set Xi up as leader for life.
While the authorities can censor criticism and information on the economic and social costs of its strategies, the threat of major outbreaks across China’s largest cities mean the risks remain high for Xi and his party. It will be a long six months until the Party Congress.
Jane Duckett is Professor and Edward Caird Chair of Politics, University of GlasgowMeixuan Chen is Affiliate Researcher (School of Social & Political Sciences), University of Glasgow, and William Wang is Affiliate Researcher, Scottish Centre for China Research, University of Glasgow
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
asiatimes.com · by Jane Duckett · May 11, 2022


22. Russia actually isn't as good at information warfare as everyone thought

Excerpts:
“It is not meant to direct you in any which way,” Lautman said. “It is not meant for a critical thinker. It is more meant to pollute the information space with so much disinformation that the person can’t get to the truth.”
Separately, the Russians also launch very targeted propaganda campaigns against specific people or on certain issues, and those efforts tend to be more thought out, she said. For example, the Russians are currently putting a lot of time and effort into claims that the Ukrainian government is kidnapping journalists to silence them.
Since Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, though, its information operations have been weaker than in the past because foreign media have been on the ground to discredit Russian propaganda, Lautman said. The New York Times recently exposed Russia’s lies about the massacre of Ukrainian civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
As long as the media coverage continues, Russia’s propaganda campaign will remain weak, Lautman said. “When it wanes, then you will see Russia’s disinformation operations being a lot more successful because they’ll be able to get their message across,” she said.

Russia actually isn't as good at information warfare as everyone thought
Russian memes are working about as well as Russian tanks.
BY JEFF SCHOGOL | PUBLISHED MAY 11, 2022 8:45 AM
taskandpurpose.com · by Jeff Schogol · May 11, 2022
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Prior to kicking off its mega-sized Charlie Foxtrot in Ukraine, the Russians were widely regarded as masters of deception and propaganda.
Whether it was Russian troops masquerading as “little green men” in Crimea in 2014 or the successful hacking of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the Kremlin set the gold standard for subterfuge. As Russian President Vladimir Putin was poised to send his forces into Ukraine in February, the State Department warned that Russia’s invasion could be preceded by an elaborately staged “false flag” operation as a pretext for war, just as the Nazis had done in 1939 when they claimed Poland had attacked Germany.
But far from being the juggernaut of neo-Soviet disinformation that the West had expected, Russia’s information operations about the war in Ukraine have largely sucked. Just prior to the invasion, Russia claimed that a Ukrainian roadside bomb had killed three people inside separatist-held eastern Ukraine, yet the skull of one of the charred bodies that the Russians paraded in front of sympathetic media showed signs that it had undergone an autopsy procedure, meaning the person was dead before being placed at the scene of the alleged attack.
A Ukrainian man climbs over a destroyed Russian tank near Makariv, Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine on May 2, 2022. (Wolfgang Schwan/Getty Images)
Since then, Russia has claimed that the reason its troops were forced to abandon their advance on Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv was that Russia never wanted the city anyway, and the initial attacks were just part of an elaborate ruse meant to distract Ukrainian forces from Russia’s real military objectives in the Donets Basin. (As comebacks go, this is one step above: ‘Fine, I didn’t want to be your date to the stupid prom in the first place!’)
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More recently, Russia’s government has unconvincingly claimed that the Ukrainians did not sink the cruiser Moskva, once the flagship Russia’s Black Sea Fleet; and Russian propaganda has accidentally used pictures of criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow as well as a Marine in World War II to honor the Soviet Union’s victory over the Nazis in the Great Patriotic War.
Even russian propaganda fails! pic.twitter.com/aUHx5WkWRr
— Adin of Crimea (@AdinOfCrimea) May 5, 2022
One reason why Russian information operations are flailing is “they don’t have a lot of material to work with,” said Marek Posard, an expert on disinformation with the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization.
“There’s only so much you can do when X number of your generals are being killed in theater,” Posard told Task & Purpose. (In this case, the Ukrainians claim to have killed 12 Russian general officers.)
The United States and other Western nations tend to do better at information warfare when they tell the truth, and right now the facts are not in Russia’s favor, because the invasion of Ukraine has revealed how the Russian military is not as professional as many thought it was.
“The military operations in Ukraine clearly are not going well for the Russians,” Posard said. “You can’t hide the fact that civilian casualties are high. You can’t hide the fact that the Russians are shelling targets that they should not be shelling. You can’t hide the fact that there are Russian soldiers lying dead and there’s tanks on the side of the road that have been blown up.
A Ukrainian serviceman walks on a destroyed Russian fighting vehicle in Bucha, Ukraine, Thursday, April 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
However, the Russians have often made mistakes and used flimsy claims as part of their propaganda efforts because their goal is to flood the airwaves with as much disinformation as possible, said Olga Lautman, an expert on Russia and Ukraine.
Back in 2014, Russian media claimed without any evidence whatsoever that the Ukrainian military had crucified a 3-year-old boy in the city of Slovyansk, said Lautman, a senior fellow with the Center for European Policy Analysis, a nonprofit research institution.
While the story was discredited in western media, Russian information operations are not supposed to make sense, she said. Instead, these operations are intended to create confusion.
“It’s just meant to put out so much propaganda and so many different points to make the person throw their hands up and just say, ‘I don’t know what the truth is,’” Lautman told Task & Purpose.
A man looks at russian T-72 tank destroyed during Russia’s invasion to Uktaine, Ivanivka village, Chernihiv area, Ukraine, 20 April 2022 (Photo by Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
In fact, sometimes the Russians will cook up completely contradictory narratives in which some propaganda claims discredit other propaganda assertions, Lautman said.
“It is not meant to direct you in any which way,” Lautman said. “It is not meant for a critical thinker. It is more meant to pollute the information space with so much disinformation that the person can’t get to the truth.”
Separately, the Russians also launch very targeted propaganda campaigns against specific people or on certain issues, and those efforts tend to be more thought out, she said. For example, the Russians are currently putting a lot of time and effort into claims that the Ukrainian government is kidnapping journalists to silence them.
Since Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, though, its information operations have been weaker than in the past because foreign media have been on the ground to discredit Russian propaganda, Lautman said. The New York Times recently exposed Russia’s lies about the massacre of Ukrainian civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
As long as the media coverage continues, Russia’s propaganda campaign will remain weak, Lautman said. “When it wanes, then you will see Russia’s disinformation operations being a lot more successful because they’ll be able to get their message across,” she said.
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Jeff Schogol is the senior Pentagon reporter for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 15 years. You can email him at schogol@taskandpurpose.com, direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter, or reach him on WhatsApp and Signal at 703-909-6488. Contact the author here.

taskandpurpose.com · by Jeff Schogol · May 11, 2022







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David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com
Web Site: www.fdd.org
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
VIDEO "WHEREBY" Link: https://whereby.com/david-maxwell
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FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

V/R
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com
Web Site: www.fdd.org
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
Subscribe to FDD’s new podcastForeign Podicy
FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

If you do not read anything else in the 2017 National Security Strategy read this on page 14:

"A democracy is only as resilient as its people. An informed and engaged citizenry is the fundamental requirement for a free and resilient nation. For generations, our society has protected free press, free speech, and free thought. Today, actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. Adversaries target media, political processes, financial networks, and personal data. The American public and private sectors must recognize this and work together to defend our way of life. No external threat can be allowed to shake our shared commitment to our values, undermine our system of government, or divide our Nation."
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