Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

"My father was born on Christmas Day in 1934. He grew up in what is now part of North Korea. When the Korean War began, my father was 16, and he found passage on an American refugee ship,thinking he'd be gone for just a few days, but he never saw his mother or his sister again."
- Min Jin Lee

"General Bradley said that we must draw the line [against communist expansion] somewhere. The President stated he agreed on that. General Bradley said that Russia is not yet ready for war. The Korean situation offered as good an occasion for action in drawing the line as anywhere else."
- From the official minutes of President Harry S. Truman's meeting with his top military and foreign-policy advisers at the Blair House on the evening of June 25th, 1950

"I will defend Korea as I would my own country—just as I would California."
- Gen. Douglas MacArthur to Dr. Syngman Rhee, president of the two-month-old South Korean Republic, October 1948




​1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JUNE 24 (PUTIN'S WAR)
2. China ‘no-limits’ vow with Russia raises Pentagon urgency to prepare for Guam attack: US commander
​3. It’s Time to Base Fifth-Gen Fighter Jets on Guam, INDOPACOM Chief Says
4. A Perspective on Russian Cyberattacks and Disinformation
5. House committee votes to ban sale of U.S. farmland to Russia and China
6. The KGB vs. CIA: World-Class Spies?
7. Russia’s Disinformation Cannot Hide its Responsibility for the Global Food Crisis
8. Now Russia threatens POLAND: Putin claims to have 'killed 80 Polish fighters' in east Ukraine
9. Meta Made Millions in Ads From Networks of Fake Accounts
10. Why We Fall for Disinformation - The psychological mechanisms at work.
11. 'Increased threat' of foreign terrorists, election influence operations in 2022: DHS
12. Suspected Russian spy was well-liked by classmates, but something just seemed a little off
13. Eric Greitens’ Embarrassing Fantasies of Political Violence
14. Exclusive: Ukraine's top military spy says captured American fighters could be released in prisoner swap
15. Congress is bringing back the idea of a 'limited' nuclear war
16. The Ukraine War Is Bleeding Russia Dry
17. Beijing Is Still Playing the Long Game on Taiwan
18. Ukraine Says Russia Aiming To Drag Belarus Into War After Strikes




1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JUNE 24 (PUTIN'S WAR)



RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JUNE 24
Jun 24, 2022 - Press ISW

Kateryna Stepanenko, Mason Clark, George Barros, and Grace Mappes
June 24, 7:15 pm ET
Click here to see ISW's interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.
Ukrainian officials ordered a controlled withdrawal of troops from Severodonetsk on June 24. Luhansk Oblast Administration Head Serhiy Haidai announced that Ukrainian forces are withdrawing from “broken positions” in Severodonetsk to prevent further personnel losses and maintain a stronger defense elsewhere.[1] Severodonetsk Regional Military Administration Head Roman Vlasenko stated that several Ukrainian units remain in Severodonetsk as of June 24, but Ukrainian forces will complete the full withdrawal in “a few days.”[2] An unnamed Pentagon official noted that Ukrainian withdrawal from Severodonetsk will allow Ukrainian troops to secure better defensive positions and further wear down Russian manpower and equipment.[3] The Pentagon official noted that Russian forces pushing on Severodonetsk already show signs of “wear and tear” and “debilitating morale,” which will only further slow Russian offensive operations in Donbas. Russian forces have been attempting to seize Severodonetsk since at least March 13, exhausting their forces and equipment over three months.[4]
Ukrainian forces will likely maintain their defenses around Lysychansk and continue to exhaust Russian troops after the fall of Severodonetsk. Ukrainian forces will occupy higher ground in Lysychansk, which may allow them to repel Russian attacks for some time if the Russians are unable to encircle or isolate them. Russian forces in Severodonetsk will also need to complete river crossings from the east, which will require additional time and effort. Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Head Leonid Pasechnik claimed that Russian forces will completely encircle Lysychansk in the next two or three days after fully interdicting Ukrainian ground lines of communications (GLOCs).[5] Russian forces have successfully secured access to Ukrainian GLOCs along the Hirske-Lysychansk highway by breaking through Hirske on June 24, but Russian forces will need to cut Ukrainian logistics routes from Bakhmut and Siversk to fully isolate Lysychansk. Russian forces are likely to face challenges completing a larger encirclement around Lysychansk due to a failed river crossing in Bilohorivka, northwest of Lysychansk, in early May. Ukrainian forces will likely conduct a deliberate withdrawal from Lysychansk if Russian forces threaten Ukrainian strongholds in the area.
Ukrainian intelligence warned that Russian forces will carry out false-flag attacks in Belarus to draw Belarusian forces into the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that Russian sabotage groups and mercenaries arrived in Mozyr, Belarus, to detonate apartment buildings and civilian infrastructure around the city.[6] The GUR noted that Russian saboteurs will follow a pattern similar to apartment bombings in Chechnya in the early 2000s. Ukrainian officials have previously reported on possible false-flag attacks in Belarus throughout the past four months.
Unidentified assailants resumed attacks against Russian military recruitment centers on June 24, indicating intensifying discontent with covert mobilization. Russian outlet Baza reported two incidents where unknown attackers threw Molotov Cocktails at military recruitment offices in Belgorod City and Perm on June 24.[7] Baza also reported that Belgorod Oblast Police started a search for four contract servicemen—one sergeant and three ordinary soldiers–who have deserted their military unit stationed in Belgorod Oblast.[8]
Key Takeaways
  • Russian forces continued to drive north to Lysychansk and have likely encircled Ukrainian troops in Hirske-Zolote.
  • Ukrainian officials announced that Ukrainian forces are fighting their last battles in the industrial zone of Severodonetsk before withdrawing from the city.
  • Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations west of Izyum and north of Slovyansk. Russian forces will likely prioritize encircling Ukrainian troops in Lysychansk and interdicting remaining GLOCs northwest of the city before resuming a full-scale offensive operation on Slovyansk.
  • Ukrainian forces are continuing to launch counteroffensive operations along the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border and are threatening Russian forces in Kherson City.
  • Ukrainian partisans continued to attack Russian collaborators in Kherson City.

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.
  • Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of one subordinate and three supporting efforts);
  • Subordinate Main Effort—Encirclement of Ukrainian troops in the cauldron between Izyum and Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts
  • Supporting Effort 1—Kharkiv City;
  • Supporting Effort 2—Southern Axis;
  • Activities in Russian-occupied Areas
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 continued to advance toward Lysychansk from the south and launched assaults on Severodonetsk. Russian forces continued to push on Lysychansk from Vovchoyarivka and Bila Hora in its southern outskirts on June 24.[9] Luhansk Oblast Administration Head Serhiy Haidai stated that Ukrainian forces are fighting their last battles in the city’s industrial zone before their full withdrawal.[10] Severodonetsk Regional State Administration Head Roman Vlasenko stated that Russian forces are launching assaults on settlements just southeast of Severodonetsk.[11] Ukrainian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk reported that Russian forces intensified airstrikes throughout the Luhansk Oblast frontline and deployed S-300 anti-aircraft missiles systems to cover their air offensive group.[12] Combat footage indicates that Russian forces are using air attacks to destroy the remaining bridges and roads to Lysychansk.[13] Russia’s Defense Ministry also posted footage of Russian Central Military District Commander Alexander Lapin in occupied Stepove (just west of Luhansk City) on June 23.[14] Lapin’s arrival in Luhansk may indicate that the Kremlin is preparing to declare victory in Severodonetsk in the coming days.
Russian forces likely encircled some Ukrainian forces in Zolote and continued to attack Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) along the T1303 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway. Hirske District Head Oleksiy Babchenko reported that Russian forces occupied all settlements in Hirske district following a breakthrough from the east.[15] Hirske is situated just northeast of Ukrainian fortifications in Zolote, and Russian control of the settlement indicates that Russian forces have successfully bypassed and encircled Ukrainian positions. Babchenko said that Ukrainian officials ordered a withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Zolote three to four days ago. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Russian forces encircled 1,800 Ukrainian servicemen in Zolote-Hirske, but ISW is unable to verify the number of Ukrainian servicemen remaining in the settlement.[16] Ukrainian forces also lost access to the T1303 Hirske-Lysychansk highway and adjacent roads, with the last humanitarian shipment arriving in Hirske on June 17.[17] Motuzyanyk reported that Russian forces are fighting in Mykolaivka and Berestove to interdict the adjacent T1303.[18]

Russian forces launched unsuccessful offensive operations north of Slovyansk and west of Izyum on June 24. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repulsed Russian assaults on Borhorodychne and Dolyna, on the E40 highway to Slovyansk.[19] Ukrainian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk noted that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked Kurulka and Virnopillya in an effort to set conditions for a renewed offensive operation on Barvinkove, approximately 35 km southwest of Izyum.[20] Motuzyanyk added that Russian forces are accumulating additional reserves and deployed a battery of Uragan MLRS to Novoselivka, a settlement northwest of Lyman, to resume offensives on Slovyansk.[21]
Russian forces will likely prioritize completing the operational encirclement of Lysychansk from Lyman in the future, rather than conducting a ground assault on Slovyansk. Russian forces continue to shell Siversk (approximately 28 km northwest of Lysychansk), likely in an effort to interdict the remaining Ukrainian GLOCs to Lysychansk.[22] Russian milblogger Yuri Kotyenok noted that Russian forces will attempt to seize Lysychansk before mid-July ahead of the rainy season, which would complicate Russian advances due to muddy roads.[23] Kotyenok added that Russian forces do not have enough manpower to encircle heavily fortified Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, or advance north of Avdiivka. Russian forces will need recovery time to initiate advances on Slovyansk, following the grinding campaign to capture Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Withdraw forces to the north and defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum)
Russian forces focused on preventing Ukrainian advances toward the international border and from threatening Russian forces operating in the Izyum-Slovyansk area.[24] Russian forces continued heavy shelling of settlements northeast and southeast of Kharkiv City and launched two Iskander ballistic missiles at the city on June 24.[25] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces intensified the use of sabotage and reconnaissance groups in settlements and are attempting to resume offensive operations to improve tactical positions beyond the international border.[26] Ukrainian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk noted that Russian forces began accumulating personnel and engineering equipment in Velykyi Burlyk, a settlement on Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast, likely in a continuing effort to maintain Russian logistics routes to Izyum and Luhansk Oblast.[27]

Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Russian forces did not conduct offensive operations in Kherson Oblast amidst Ukrainian counteroffensives along the Kherson-Mykolaiv and Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast borders on June 24. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that half of the Russian forces retreated to Olhine, just south of the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border, following a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in the area.[28] Russian forces continued to launch airstrikes and fire artillery at Ukrainian positions on the western bank of the Inhulets River.[29] Ukrainian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk also noted that Russian forces conducted artillery strikes on settlements just 20 km northwest of Kherson City in an effort to suppress Ukrainian counteroffensives toward the city.[30] Russian outlets reported that Head of the Russian National Guard (Rosguardia) Viktor Zolotov arrived in an unspecified Kherson Oblast settlement on June 24 to distribute awards to Russian servicemen, although the full intentions of his visit remain unclear.[31]

Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of occupied areas; set conditions for potential annexation into the Russian Federation or some other future political arrangement of Moscow’s choosing)
Ukrainian partisans continued to target Russian collaborators in Kherson City and are complicating Russian efforts to establish local occupation administrations. Ukrainian and Russian sources confirmed that Ukrainian partisans detonated an improvised explosive device and killed the occupation director of youth policy management Dmytro Savluchenko in Kherson City on June 24.[32] The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command noted that Kherson Oblast residents also refuse to collaborate with Russian occupation authorities and are slowing down Russian preparations for a referendum on September 11.[33] Ukrainian partisan activity may discourage other Russian collaborators from accepting local administration positions and further strain Russian occupation personnel shortages.
Ukrainian civilians continue to flee Russian occupied settlements in southern Ukraine. Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov estimated that over 35,000 Melitopol residents left the city last month.[34] ISW previously reported that Enerhodar residents are also leaving the city to avoid collaborating with Russian officials.[35]
[1] https://t.me/luhanskaVTSA/3723; https://suspilne dot media/253500-zsu-dovedetsa-vijti-z-severodonecka-na-bils-ukripleni-pozicii-gajdaj/; https://t.me/luhanskaVTSA/3727
[5] https://t.me/miroshnik_r/7737; https://www.kp dot ru/daily/27409/4607409/
[6] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/kreml-planuie-pidryv-zhytlovykh-budynkiv-u-mozyri-shchob-vtiahnuty-bilorus-u-viinu-proty-ukrainy.html;https://t.me/DIUkraine/734https://t.me/Bratchuk_Sergey/14355
[11] https://www dot radiosvoboda.org/a/news-vidstup-zsu-z-lysychanska-syevyerodonetsk/31913046.html; https://t.me/stranaua/48623
[12] https://www dot ukrinform.ua/rubric-ato/3514341-vorog-mae-pevni-takticni-uspihi-na-okremih-dilankah-zavdaki-perevazi-v-artilerii-motuzanik.html; https://t.me/luhanskaVTSA/3730
[18] https://www dot ukrinform.ua/rubric-ato/3514341-vorog-mae-pevni-takticni-uspihi-na-okremih-dilankah-zavdaki-perevazi-v-artilerii-motuzanik.html; https://www dot radiosvoboda.org/a/news-vidstup-zsu-z-lysychanska-syevyerodonetsk/31913046.html; https://t.me/stranaua/48623
[19] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/347169520929466; https://www dot ukrinform.ua/rubric-ato/3514341-vorog-mae-pevni-takticni-uspihi-na-okremih-dilankah-zavdaki-perevazi-v-artilerii-motuzanik.html
[20] https://www dot ukrinform.ua/rubric-ato/3514341-vorog-mae-pevni-takticni-uspihi-na-okremih-dilankah-zavdaki-perevazi-v-artilerii-motuzanik.html
[21] Ukrainian sources likely incorrectly reported that Motuzyanyk referred to Novoselivka in Kharkiv Oblast. Motuzyanyk likely referred to Novoselivka in northeastern Donetsk Oblast, sitauted near Lyman, Sviatohisrk, and Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border. https://www dot ukrinform.ua/rubric-ato/3514341-vorog-mae-pevni-takticni-uspihi-na-okremih-dilankah-zavdaki-perevazi-v-artilerii-motuzanik.html
[25] https://www dot radiosvoboda.org/a/novyny-pryazovya-mykolayiv-obstrili-senkevych/31911643.html?fbclid=IwAR2trXw_eKhzEEPeMQbbP8auGDCTNaP9YcIzFyNbm5hiS0gVsoKPcOnIGhE; https://t.me/stranaua/48615; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/346810547632030; https://t.me/der_rada/1679;
[27] https://www dot ukrinform.ua/rubric-ato/3514348-rosiani-namagautsa-otociti-ukrainski-vijska-v-rajoni-lisicanska-minoboroni.html; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...
[30] https://www dot ukrinform.ua/rubric-ato/3514348-rosiani-namagautsa-otociti-ukrainski-vijska-v-rajoni-lisicanska-minoboroni.html
[31] https://www dot gazeta.ru/army/news/2022/06/24/17996228.shtml; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/37797
[32] https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2022/06/24/v-hersoni-pidirvaly-shhe-odnogo-kolaboranta/; https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/06/24/car-bomb-kills-russia-installe...
[34] https://www dot unian dot net/war/v-melitopole-rossiyane-gotovyatsya-k-referendumu-sozdali-shtab-novosti-vtorzheniya-rossii-na-ukrainu-11877771 dot html; http://ukrstat dot gov dot ua/druk/publicat/kat_u/2021/zb/05/zb_chuselnist%202021 dot pdf



2. China ‘no-limits’ vow with Russia raises Pentagon urgency to prepare for Guam attack: US commander

Excerpts:

“The most concerning aspect of [Russia’s war in Ukraine] is that the People’s Republic of China has declared a no-limits policy in support of Russia and what that means to both the Indo-Pacific and the globe,” US Indo-Pacific Commander Admiral John C Aquilino said.
“If those two nations were to truly demonstrate and deliver a no-limits policy, I think what that means is we’re currently in an extremely dangerous time and place in the history of humanity, if that were to come true,” he said in a discussion hosted by Foundation for Defence of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank.



China ‘no-limits’ vow with Russia raises Pentagon urgency to prepare for Guam attack: US commander​
  • ‘Extremely dangerous’ if Beijing and Moscow were to make good on recent doubling down of partnership, says US Indo-Pacific Commander John Aquilino
  • Admiral calls China’s advances in terms of naval ships, missile technology and nuclear capabilities ‘the largest military build-up’ since the second world war

+ FOLLOW
Published: 2:40am, 25 Jun, 2022
By Robert Delaney South China Morning Post3 min


US Indo-Pacific Commander John C Aquilino, left, arriving at Clark Air Base in the Philippines in March. Photo: AP
The commander of US military forces in the Pacific said on Friday that Beijing’s declaration of a “no-limits” partnership with Russia has raised the Pentagon’s sense of urgency in efforts to prepare for a missile attack by Chinese military forces on Guam.
“The most concerning aspect of [Russia’s war in Ukraine] is that the People’s Republic of China has declared a no-limits policy in support of Russia and what that means to both the Indo-Pacific and the globe,” US Indo-Pacific Commander Admiral John C Aquilino said.
“If those two nations were to truly demonstrate and deliver a no-limits policy, I think what that means is we’re currently in an extremely dangerous time and place in the history of humanity, if that were to come true,” he said in a discussion hosted by Foundation for Defence of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank.
The Chinese government strengthened its partnership with Russia to one that has “no limits” and “no forbidden areas”, three weeks before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his country’s all-out attack on Ukraine on February 24.
Beijing has also refused to condemn Russia’s actions and has amplified some of the Kremlin’s talking points about the conflict. This has added tension to a US-China relationship that was already under strain on multiple fronts, including efforts by the administrations of US President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump to bolster relations with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.
Aquilino called China’s advances in terms of naval ships, missile technology and nuclear capabilities “the largest military build-up” since the second world war. He said this raises the risk that Beijing’s forces could attack Guam, an American territory in Micronesia.
“Guam has a 360-degree threat, so our ability to defend it and to be able to operate from there is absolutely critical,” he said. “I won’t have any timeline so I could see a continuous improvement and a continuous threat, and what that leads me to to do is to move with a sense of urgency.
Aquilino’s comments on the military front echoed remarks made last week by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who said in a discussion hosted by the Centre for a New American Security that the lack of a forceful response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “would send a message to other would-be aggressors, including China, that they could do the same thing”.
Beijing’s stance on Russia has become one of the key issues that the two sides have sparred over in recent high-level meetings.
China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and Sullivan held a seven-hour meeting in Rome on March 14 focused primarily on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the issue was discussed by the two again when they held a 4½ hour meeting in Luxembourg last week.
Robert Delaney is the Post’s North America bureau chief. He spent 11 years in China as a language student and correspondent for Dow Jones Newswires and Bloomberg, and continued covering the country as a correspondent and an academic after leaving. His debut novel, The Wounded Muse, draws on actual events that played out in Beijing while he lived there.



3. It’s Time to Base Fifth-Gen Fighter Jets on Guam, INDOPACOM Chief Says

What is the Chinese name for Guam? - It is called Target.

Excerpts:
“Guam is absolutely a strategic location. We will need to operate from Guam, we will need to both fight for and from Guam, and it will provide a variety of capabilities and support functions should we end up in some crisis situation,” Aquilino said.
One thing the island currently lacks is enough missile defenses, he said, reiterating a long-time INDOPACOM concern. Comprehensive missile defense for Guam has been the command’s top funding priority for nearly four years. In May, the Missile Defense Agency said it hopes to build an integrated missile defense command-and-control center on the island.



It’s Time to Base Fifth-Gen Fighter Jets on Guam, INDOPACOM Chief Says
China’s buildup means F-35s or F-22s should do more than exercise from the Pacific island, Aquilino said.
defenseone.com · by Elizabeth Howe
The U.S. should permanently station fifth-generation combat jets on Guam to counter China’s increasing military capability, the leader of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said Friday.
“What we are seeing, from my seat, is the largest military buildup in history since WWII,” Adm. John Aquilino said at a Foundation for Defense of Democracies event Friday.
F-35s have operated from the island’s Austere Airfield since last year, but only on a temporary basis scheduled around key exercises. Aquilino says having fifth-generation aircraft—whether that be F-35s or F-22s—permanently stationed in the theater is “critically important to the ability to deliver deterrence.”
The U.S. military presence on the Pacific island is already “extremely important,” the admiral said.
“Guam is absolutely a strategic location. We will need to operate from Guam, we will need to both fight for and from Guam, and it will provide a variety of capabilities and support functions should we end up in some crisis situation,” Aquilino said.
One thing the island currently lacks is enough missile defenses, he said, reiterating a long-time INDOPACOM concern. Comprehensive missile defense for Guam has been the command’s top funding priority for nearly four years. In May, the Missile Defense Agency said it hopes to build an integrated missile defense command-and-control center on the island.
“The [Chinese military] rocket forces are clearly developing continuous advanced capabilities and longer range. Guam has a 360-degree threat so our ability to defend it, and to be able to operate from there is absolutely critical,” Aquilino said.
Now, Aquilino says, fifth-generation aircraft will need to be defended too—as well as the infrastructure, service members, and supply chains needed to maintain those capabilities.
“To do this, it will take the entire joint force,” Aquilino said.
The F-35, which can operate as a stealthy attack fighter, reconnaissance aircraft, and even a command-and-control platform for autonomous wingmen, is key to going up against a potential adversary like China, he said.
“We are continuing to work on ways to ensure that our [communications and command and control] is resilient. We expect to be attacked in that domain and we have to put in place the structure and the formations that allow us to command and control no matter where we are, whether it's inside the first island chain, outside the first island chain, all the way back to headquarters. So this view of being able to deliver a picture across a node of nodes is the approach we're taking and I'm confident we can do,” he said.
Aquilino discussed how the Pacific Air Forces are experimenting with a new approach to operations called Agile Combat Employment or ACE, which is meant to allow rapid shifts from base to base as a battle develops.
“The concept makes the force more survivable. You combine that with some offenses and now we have an airborne capability that can deliver dilemmas from anywhere,” he said.
The Defense Department’s proposed 2023 budget includes funding for “delivering capabilities” to Guam and nearby strategic headquarters, including nearly $1 billion to develop the island’s missile defenses, Aquilino said.
​​”So the key is to take tremendous effort and the budget and then move forward to deliver that capability against all those threats,” he said.
Patrick Tucker contributed to this post.
defenseone.com · by Elizabeth Howe

4. A Perspective on Russian Cyberattacks and Disinformation

Excerpts:

Mr. Gerstell shared a brief history of cyberattacks against Ukraine, including the December 2015 attacks against the company’s electricity grid resulting in around quarter of a million people losing access to power, and the destructive 2017 NotPetya attack that caused billions of dollars of damage worldwide. Both attacks were attributed by the U.S. and other governments to Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency.
More recently and even before the conflict started, Mr. Gerstell noted the attacks against Ukraine attributed by U.S. and U.K. governments to the GRU: immediately before the invasion, around 70 government websites were defaced including the websites of the Ukrainian Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs. Multiple denial of service attacks made many services, including online banking, inaccessible. Additionally, wiper software destroyed data on hundreds of computers in Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania, according to cybersecurity company ESET and satellite communications company Viasat Inc was disrupted. Mr. Gerstell commented that the intent was to disrupt Ukrainian military communications, but the attack affected satellite terminals throughout Europe.



A Perspective on Russian Cyberattacks and Disinformation

By Rob Sloan , Research Director, WSJ Pro
June 21, 2022 5:10 pm ET
WSJ · by Rob Sloan, Research Director, WSJ Pro

Glenn Gerstell, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former general counsel of the National Security Agency, was interviewed at a Wall Street Journal event in San Francisco in front of a live audience. The discussion focused on Russian cyberattacks against Ukraine and Russia’s use of disinformation. Highlights of the discussion follow.
“Russia has a well-earned reputation for cyber malevolence around the world, particularly focused against the United States and Europe and most significantly, against their cyber punching bags – the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.”
— Glenn S. Gerstell, Senior Advisor, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Why Cyberattacks Fail to Produce Strategic or Enduring Effects
Mr. Gerstell said it is very hard to use cyberattacks to produce “a strategic or enduring effect.” Generally, attacks result in transient effects such as stopping a server from working properly or stealing information, which can be damaging, but victims can recover from these setbacks relatively quickly. Using cyberattacks in certain circumstances can however achieve a more strategic effect. Attacks on operational technology to knock out electricity grids or telephone and internet infrastructure can be highly damaging, for example, but such attacks take a lot of planning and are difficult to execute at scale.
Another way to achieve a strategic impact is to couple cyberattacks with disinformation. According to Mr. Gerstell, alongside the attacks on Ukrainian banks and ATMs, Russia sent text messages to citizens in some of the eastern cities, telling them they wouldn’t be able to withdraw money. “What else do you need to do to cause panic?” he said.
Among the reasons cyber attacks do not appear to have played a more prominent role in the conflict, Mr. Gerstell suggested some or all of the following may have been a factor:
  • There was a lack of coordination between the three Russian agencies that have a cyber capability – the SVR–Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the FSB–a security service that succeeded the KGB and the GRU–Russia’s military intelligence directorate – reflecting the lack of coordination between other parts of Russia’s military.
  • The planned invasion of Ukraine was not widely and fully disclosed to all parts of the intelligence apparatus.
  • Russia’s leadership expected to be victorious in days and did not want to take over an economy with no electricity grid or communications infrastructure.
Disinformation Hits and Misses
Mr. Gerstell shared a mixed assessment of Russia’s disinformation operations that targeted three key audiences: the Russian population; the Ukrainian population; and the U.S. and other western governments.
“The Russian misinformation and disinformation machine has been really successful internally in selling the Russian population on the validity of this war.” He added that as a means of governing, disinformation is rooted deeply in Russian history. But the Russian government has been less successful in reaching the Ukrainian people and far less effective against the U.S. and other countries belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Russia sought initially “to make sure Europe didn’t come together on sanctions, which of course was a total failure,“ he said.
More broadly, Mr. Gerstell sees disinformation as the number one threat to U.S. national security. “Russia, and to a lesser extent, China, are very adept at exploiting and fermenting and amplifying [domestic] disinformation,” he said.
Russia’s Offensive Cyber Campaign Against Ukraine
Mr. Gerstell shared a brief history of cyberattacks against Ukraine, including the December 2015 attacks against the company’s electricity grid resulting in around quarter of a million people losing access to power, and the destructive 2017 NotPetya attack that caused billions of dollars of damage worldwide. Both attacks were attributed by the U.S. and other governments to Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency.
More recently and even before the conflict started, Mr. Gerstell noted the attacks against Ukraine attributed by U.S. and U.K. governments to the GRU: immediately before the invasion, around 70 government websites were defaced including the websites of the Ukrainian Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs. Multiple denial of service attacks made many services, including online banking, inaccessible. Additionally, wiper software destroyed data on hundreds of computers in Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania, according to cybersecurity company ESET and satellite communications company Viasat Inc was disrupted. Mr. Gerstell commented that the intent was to disrupt Ukrainian military communications, but the attack affected satellite terminals throughout Europe.

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5. House committee votes to ban sale of U.S. farmland to Russia and China



House committee votes to ban sale of U.S. farmland to Russia and China
agriculture.com · June 24, 2022
6/24/2022


Photo credit: USDA
Companies from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran would be barred from purchasing U.S. agricultural land under language approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. “More needs to be done to ensure the U.S. food supply chain is secure and independent,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse, lamenting that there are no federal safeguards against land purchases by authoritarian regimes.
By voice vote, members of the House Appropriations Committee added Newhouse’s provision to the annual USDA-FDA funding bill. The committee later cleared the $195.6 billion bill for floor debate on a party-line, 31-26 vote, with Republicans, including Newhouse, dissenting. Fiscal 2023 funding would be nearly $39 billion below this year’s funding, because of the expiration of pandemic relief programs.
It was the second year in a row that appropriators agreed with Newhouse’s warnings about foreign investment in U.S. farmland, Last year, the Appropriations Committee voted to ban China from acquiring additional U.S. farmland. The proposal was eventually revised to a request for a USDA report on the matter.
“We’ve agreed to include additional adversaries to the base amendment this year given the horrific events in Ukraine at the hands of Russia and the Putin regime,” said Newhouse during the three-hour committee markup of the USDA-FDA bill. “As many members of this committee know, China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran are not our allies.”
Foreign investors owned 37.6 million acres, or 2.9%, of U.S. agricultural land — forest and farmland — at the end of 2020, according to a USDA report. Holdings have increased by an average of nearly 2.2 million acres a year since 2015. Forests accounted for 46% of agricultural land held by foreigners. Some 29% was cropland, and pastures and other ag land accounted for 23%.
China was the most active of the investors, said Newhouse, a Republican from Washington State. Alabama Rep. Robert Aderholt, also a Republican, said, “We’ve seen a surge in Chinese ownership,” with Alabama farmers being pushed aside when land was offered for sale.
To watch a video of the committee meeting, click here.
To read the report that accompanied the USDA-FDA bill, click here.
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agriculture.com · June 24, 2022


6. The KGB vs. CIA: World-Class Spies?

An interesting historical comparison.



The KGB vs. CIA: World-Class Spies?
thecollector.com · by Stephanie Jelks · June 25, 2022
KGB emblem and CIA seal, via pentapostagma.gr
The Soviet Union’s KGB and the United States’ CIA are intelligence agencies synonymous with the Cold War. Often viewed as being pitted against one another, each agency sought to protect its status as a world superpower and maintain its dominance in its own sphere of influence. Their biggest success was presumably the prevention of nuclear war, but how successful were they really in achieving their aims? Were technological advances as important as espionage?
Origins & Purposes of the KGB and the CIA
The KGB, Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, or Committee for State Security, existed from March 13, 1954, to December 3, 1991. Before 1954, it was preceded by several Russian/Soviet intelligence agencies including the Cheka, which was active during Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution (1917-1922), and the reorganized NKVD (for most of 1934-1946) under Josef Stalin. Russia’s history of secret intelligence services stretches back to before the 20th century, on a continent where wars were frequent, military alliances were temporary, and countries and empires were established, absorbed by others, and/or dissolved. Russia also used intelligence services for domestic purposes centuries ago. “Spying on one’s neighbors, colleagues and even family was as ingrained in the Russian soul as privacy rights and free speech are in America.”
The KGB was a military service and it operated under army laws and regulations. It had several main functions: foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, the exposure and investigation of political and economic crimes committed by Soviet citizens, guarding the leaders of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and Soviet Government, organization and security of government communications, protecting Soviet borders, and thwarting nationalist, dissident, religious, and anti-Soviet activities.
The CIA, Central Intelligence Agency, was formed on September 18, 1947, and had been preceded by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The OSS came into being on June 13, 1942, as a result of the US’s entry into the Second World War and it was dissolved in September 1945. Unlike many European countries, the US didn’t have any institutions or expertise in intelligence collection or counterintelligence throughout most of its history, except during wartime.
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Before 1942, the State Department, Treasury, Navy, and War Departments of the United States carried out American foreign intelligence activities on an ad hoc basis. There had been no overall direction, coordination, or control. The US Army and US Navy each had their own code-breaking departments. American foreign intelligence was handled by different agencies between 1945 and 1947 when the National Security Act came into effect. The National Security Act established both the US’s National Security Council (NSC) and the CIA.
When it was created, the CIA’s purpose was to act as a center for foreign policy intelligence and analysis. It was given the power to carry out foreign intelligence operations, advise the NSC on intelligence matters, correlate and evaluate the intelligence activities of other government agencies, and perform any other intelligence duties that the NSC might require. The CIA has no law enforcement function and officially focuses on overseas intelligence gathering; its domestic intelligence collection is limited. In 2013, the CIA defined four of its five priorities as counterterrorism, nonproliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, informing American leaders of important overseas events, and counterintelligence.
Nuclear Secrets & the Arms Race
The United States had detonated nuclear weapons in 1945 before the existence of either the KGB or the CIA. While the US and Britain had collaborated on developing atomic weapons, neither country informed Stalin of their progress despite the Soviet Union being an ally during the Second World War.
Unknown to the United States and Britain, the KGB’s predecessor, the NKVD, had spies who had infiltrated The Manhattan Project. When Stalin was informed of the progress of the Manhattan Project at the Potsdam Conference of July 1945, Stalin showed no surprise. Both American and British delegates believed that Stalin didn’t understand the import of what he had been told. However, Stalin was all too aware and the Soviet Union detonated their first nuclear bomb in 1949, closely modeled on the US’s “Fat Man” nuclear bomb which was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945.
Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States competed against each other in the development of hydrogen “superbombs,” the space race, and ballistic missiles (and later intercontinental ballistic missiles). The KGB and the CIA used espionage against each other to keep an eye on the other country’s progress. Analysts used human intelligence, technical intelligence, and overt intelligence to determine each country’s requirements to meet any potential threat. Historians have stated that the intelligence provided by both the KGB and CIA helped to avert nuclear war because both sides then had some idea of what was going on and, therefore would not be surprised by the other side.
Soviet vs. American Spies
At the start of the Cold War, they did not have the technology to gather intelligence that we have developed today. Both the Soviet Union and the US used a lot of resources to recruit, train, and deploy spies and agents. In the 1930s and ‘40s, Soviet spies had been able to penetrate top levels of the US government. When the CIA was first founded, the US attempts to collect intelligence on the Soviet Union stuttered. The CIA continually suffered from counterintelligence failures from its spies throughout the Cold War. Additionally, the close cooperation between the US and the UK meant that Soviet spies in the UK were able to betray the secrets of both countries early in the Cold War.
As the Cold War went on, Soviet spies in the US could no longer gather intelligence from those in high US government positions, but they were still able to obtain information. John Walker, a US naval communications officer, was able to tell the Soviets about every move of the US’s nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet. A US Army spy, Sergeant Clyde Conrad, gave NATO’s complete defense plans for the continent to the Soviets by going through the Hungarian intelligence service. Aldrich Ames was an officer in the CIA’s Soviet Division, and he betrayed over twenty American spies as well as handing over information about how the agency operated.
1960 U-2 Incident
The U-2 aircraft was first flown in 1955 by the CIA (although control was later transferred to the US Air Force). It was a high-altitude aircraft that could fly to altitudes of 70,000 feet (21,330 meters) and was equipped with a camera that had a resolution of 2.5 feet at an altitude of 60,000 feet. The U-2 was the first US-developed aircraft that could penetrate deep into Soviet territory with a much lower risk of being shot down than previous American aerial reconnaissance flights. These flights were used to intercept Soviet military communications and photograph Soviet military facilities.
In September 1959, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev met with US President Eisenhower at Camp David, and after this meeting, Eisenhower banned U-2 flights for fear that the Soviets would believe that the US was using the flights to prepare for first-strike attacks. The following year, Eisenhower gave in to CIA pressure to allow the flights to recommence for a few weeks.
On May 1, 1960, the USSR shot down a U-2 flying over its airspace. Pilot Francis Gary Powers was captured and paraded before the world media. This proved to be a huge diplomatic embarrassment for Eisenhower and shattered the thawing of US-USSR Cold War relations which had lasted for eight months. Powers was convicted of espionage and sentenced to three years of imprisonment and seven years of hard labor in the Soviet Union, although he was released two years later in a prisoner exchange.
Bay of Pigs Invasion & the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban leader Fidel Castro, via clasesdeperiodismo.com
Between 1959 and 1961, the CIA recruited and trained 1,500 Cuban exiles. In April 1961, these Cubans landed in Cuba with the intention of overthrowing Communist Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Castro became Cuba’s prime minister on January 1, 1959, and once in power he nationalized American businesses – including banks, oil refineries, and sugar and coffee plantations – and then severed Cuba’s previously close relationship with the US and reached out to the Soviet Union.
In March 1960, US President Eisenhower allocated $13.1 million to the CIA to use against Castro’s regime. A CIA-sponsored paramilitary group set out for Cuba on April 13, 1961. Two days later, eight CIA-supplied bombers attacked Cuban airfields. On April 17, the invaders landed in Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, but the invasion failed so badly that the Cuban paramilitary exiles surrendered on April 20. A major embarrassment for US foreign policy, the failed invasion only served to strengthen Castro’s power and his ties to the USSR.
Following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and the installation of American ballistic missiles in Italy and Turkey, the USSR’s Khrushchev, in a secret agreement with Castro, agreed to place nuclear missiles in Cuba, which was only 90 miles (145 kilometers) from the United States. The missiles were placed there to deter the United States from another attempt to overthrow Castro.
In the summer of 1962, several missile launch facilities were constructed in Cuba. A U-2 spy plane produced clear photographic evidence of the ballistic missile facilities. US President John F. Kennedy avoided declaring war on Cuba but ordered a naval blockade. The US stated that it would not allow offensive weapons to be delivered to Cuba and demanded that the weapons that were already there be dismantled and sent back to the USSR. Both countries were prepared to use nuclear weapons and the Soviets shot down a U-2 plane that had accidentally flown over Cuban air space on October 27, 1962. Both Khrushchev and Kennedy were aware of what a nuclear war would entail.
After several days of intense negotiations, the Soviet premier and the American president were able to reach an agreement. The Soviets agreed to dismantle their weapons in Cuba and send them back to the USSR while the Americans declared that they would not invade Cuba again. The US blockade of Cuba ended on November 20, after all Soviet offensive missiles and light bombers had been withdrawn from Cuba.
The need for clear and direct communication between the US and USSR saw the establishment of the Moscow-Washington hotline, which was successful in reducing US-Soviet tensions for several years until both countries started expanding their nuclear arsenals again.
KGB Success at Thwarting Anti-communism in the Eastern Bloc
While the KGB and the CIA were the foreign intelligence agencies of the world’s two most incredible superpowers, they did not exist solely to be in competition with each other. Two of the KGB’s significant successes occurred in the Communist Eastern Bloc: in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.
On October 23, 1956, university students in Budapest, Hungary, appealed to the general population to join them in protest against Hungarian domestic policies that had been imposed upon them by a government installed by Stalin. Hungarians organized revolutionary militias and captured local Hungarian Communist leaders and policemen. Many were killed or lynched. Anti-Communist political prisoners were released and armed. The new Hungarian government even declared its withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact.
While the USSR had initially been willing to negotiate the withdrawal of the Soviet Army from Hungary, the Hungarian Revolution was repressed by the USSR on November 4. By November 10, intense fighting led to the deaths of 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet Army soldiers. Two hundred thousand Hungarians sought political refuge abroad. The KGB was involved in crushing the Hungarian Revolution by arresting the movement’s leaders before the scheduled negotiations. KGB chairman Ivan Serov then personally supervised the post-invasion “normalization” of the country.
While this operation was not an unqualified success for the KGB – documents declassified decades later revealed that the KGB had difficulty working with their Hungarian allies – the KGB was successful in reestablishing Soviet supremacy in Hungary. Hungary would have to wait another 33 years for independence.
Twelve years later, mass protest and political liberalization erupted in Czechoslovakia. The reformist Czechoslovakian First Secretary of the Communist Party tried to grant additional rights to the citizens of Czechoslovakia in January 1968, in addition to partially decentralizing the economy and democratizing the country.
In May, KGB agents infiltrated pro-democratic Czechoslovak pro-democratic organizations. Initially, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was willing to negotiate. As had happened in Hungary, when negotiations failed in Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union sent in half a million Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country. The Soviet military thought it would take four days to subdue the country; it took eight months.
The Brezhnev Doctrine was announced on August 3, 1968, which stated that the Soviet Union would intervene in Eastern bloc countries where communist rule was under threat. KGB chief Yuri Andropov had a more hardline attitude than Brezhnev did and ordered a number of “active measures” against Czechoslovak reformers during the post-Prague Spring “normalization” period. Andropov would go on to succeed Brezhnev as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1982.
CIA Activities in Europe
Italian propaganda poster from the 1948 election, via Collezione Salce National Museum, Treviso
The CIA had also been active in Europe, influencing the Italian general election of 1948 and continuing to intervene in Italian politics until the early 1960s. The CIA has acknowledged giving $1 million to Italian centrist political parties, and overall, the US spent between $10 and $20 million in Italy to counter the influence of the Italian Communist Party.
Finland was also considered a buffer zone country between the Communist East and Western Europe. Starting at the end of the 1940s, US intelligence services were gathering information about Finnish airfields and their capacities. In 1950, Finnish military intelligence rated American troops’ mobility and action capability in Finland’s northern and cold conditions as “hopelessly behind” Russia (or Finland). Nevertheless, the CIA trained a small number of Finnish agents in conjunction with other countries including the UK, Norway, and Sweden, and gathered intelligence on Soviet troops, geography, infrastructure, technical equipment, border fortifications, and the organization of Soviet engineering forces. It had also been considered that Finnish targets were “probably” on the list of US bombing targets so that NATO could use nuclear weapons to take out Finnish airfields to deny their use to the Soviet Union.
KGB Failures: Afghanistan & Poland
The KGB was active in the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Elite Soviet troops were air-dropped into Afghanistan’s main cities and deployed motorized divisions crossed the border shortly before the KGB poisoned the Afghan president and his ministers. This was a Moscow-backed coup to install a puppet leader. The Soviets had feared that a weak Afghanistan might turn to the US for help, so they convinced Brezhnev that Moscow would have to act before the US did. The invasion triggered a nine-year civil war in which an estimated one million civilians and 125,000 combatants died. Not only did the war wreak havoc in Afghanistan, but it also took its toll on the USSR’s economy and national prestige. Soviet failure in Afghanistan was a contributing factor to the USSR’s later collapse and breakup.
During the 1980s, the KGB also tried to suppress the growing Solidarity movement in Poland. Headed by Lech Wałęsa, the Solidarity movement was the first independent trade union in a Warsaw Pact country. Its membership reached 10 million people in September 1981, a third of the working population. It aimed to use civil resistance to promote workers’ rights and social changes. The KGB had agents in Poland and also gathered information from KGB agents in Soviet Ukraine. The Communist Polish government instituted martial law in Poland between 1981 and 1983. While the Solidarity movement had sprung up spontaneously in August 1980, by 1983 the CIA was lending financial assistance to Poland. The Solidarity movement survived the communist government’s attempts to destroy the union. By 1989, the Polish government initiated talks with Solidarity and other groups in order to defuse growing social unrest. Free elections took place in Poland in mid-1989, and in December 1990, Wałęsa was elected as the President of Poland.
CIA Failures: Vietnam & Iran-Contra Affair
In addition to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the CIA also faced failure in Vietnam, where it had started training South Vietnamese agents as early as 1954. This was due to an appeal from France, which had lost the French-Indochina War, where it lost possession of its former colonies in the region. In 1954, the geographical 17th parallel north became Vietnam’s “provisional military demarcation line.” North Vietnam was communist, while South Vietnam was pro-Western. The Vietnam War lasted until 1975, ending with US withdrawal in 1973 and the fall of Saigon in 1975.
The Iran-Contra Affair, or Iran-Contra Scandal, also caused huge embarrassment to the US. During President Jimmy Carter’s term in office, the CIA was covertly funding pro-American opposition to the Nicaraguan Sandinista government. Early into his presidency, Ronald Reagan told Congress that the CIA would protect El Salvador by preventing the shipment of Nicaraguan arms that might land into the hands of Communist rebels. In reality, the CIA was arming and training Nicaraguan Contras in Honduras with the hope of deposing the Sandinista government.
In December 1982, the US Congress passed a law restricting the CIA to only preventing the flow of arms from Nicaragua to El Salvador. Additionally, the CIA was prohibited from using funds to oust the Sandinistas. To circumvent this law, senior officials in the Reagan administration began secretly selling arms to the Khomeini government in Iran to use the proceeds of the sales to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. At this time, Iran itself was subject to a US arms embargo. Evidence of the sale of arms to Iran came to light in late 1986. A US Congress investigation showed that several dozen Reagan administration officials were indicted, and eleven were convicted. The Sandinistas continued to rule Nicaragua until 1990.
The KGB vs. the CIA: Who Was Better?
The question of who was better, the KGB or CIA, is difficult, if not impossible, to answer objectively. Indeed, when the CIA was formed, the Soviet Union’s foreign intelligence agency had far more experience, established policies and procedures, a history of strategic planning, and more highly defined functions. In its earlier years, the CIA experienced more espionage failures, in part due to the fact that it was easier for Soviet and Soviet-backed spies to infiltrate American and American ally organizations than it was for CIA agents to gain access to Communist-controlled institutions. External factors such as each country’s domestic political systems and economic strength also influenced the operations of the two countries’ foreign intelligence agencies. Overall, the CIA had the technological advantage.
One event that somewhat caught both the KGB and the CIA off guard was the disintegration of the Soviet Union. CIA officials have admitted that they were slow to realize the imminent collapse of the USSR, although they had been alerting US policymakers about the stagnating Soviet economy for several years in the 1980s.
From 1989, the CIA had been warning policymakers that a crisis was brewing because the Soviet economy was in severe decline. Domestic Soviet intelligence was also inferior to the analysis gained from their spies.
“While a certain amount of politicization enters assessments in Western intelligence services, it was endemic in the KGB, which tailored its analysis to endorse the regime’s policies. Gorbachev mandated more objective assessments once he came to power, but by then it was too late for the KGB’s ingrained culture of communist political correctness to overcome old habits. As in the past, KGB assessments, such as they were, blamed Soviet policy failures on the evil machinations of the West.”
When the Soviet Union ceased to exist, so did the KGB.
thecollector.com · by Stephanie Jelks · June 25, 2022

7. Russia’s Disinformation Cannot Hide its Responsibility for the Global Food Crisis


From the State Department

Russia’s Disinformation Cannot Hide its Responsibility for the Global Food Crisis - United States Department of State
This bulletin is also available in ArabicChineseFrenchPersianPortugueseRussianSpanishUkrainian, and Urdu.
“As with its decision to start this unjustified war, responsibility for the disruption of these supplies and the suffering that it’s causing around the world lies squarely and solely with the Russian Government.”
Lying to the World About Global Food Security
Russian President Putin’s illegal and unprovoked war against Ukraine has had catastrophic effects on Ukraine, its neighbors, and people across the globe. The Kremlin’s war in Ukraine has wreaked death and destruction, killing thousands of civilians displacing millions , making refugees of millions more, and massively damaging civilian infrastructure . The devastating effects of Russia’s aggression have disrupted Ukraine’s economy , which in turn has exacerbated global food insecurity. Ukraine has long been the “breadbasket of Europe, ” feeding millions of people across the globe. It is a top grain supplier to dozens of African and Middle Eastern countries. Now, after Russia’s February 24 all out invasion, Ukraine has turned “from a breadbasket to a breadline, ” while the Russian government uses disinformation to mislead the world about the cause of this crisis.
Food insecurity has risen because of Putin’s war of choice. It was not caused, as the Kremlin claims, by sanctions that the United States and many other countries have imposed in response to Russia’s horrific aggression against Ukraine. Food insecurity was rising before the invasion, and Putin’s war exacerbated that trend. Russia mined Ukrainian grain fields, attacked merchant shipping on the Black Sea, and blocked Ukrainians from exporting their own grain. Russia is also plundering Ukrainian grain for its own profit, pilfering grain from Ukrainian warehouses according to credible reports. All these actions have worsened food insecurity around the world.
Conversely, the United States and its partners have taken great care to avoid exacerbating food insecurity. U.S. sanctions, for example, are specifically written to prevent food insecurity: they include carveouts for agricultural commodities and permit transactions for the export and re-export of food to and from Russia, even with a sanctioned individual or entity. Moreover, the United States has pledged $2.6 billion this year in humanitarian food assistance to help alleviate world hunger, with an added $5 billion to be added over the next five years.
The Kremlin’s Blame Game and What it Hopes to Accomplish
Russia’s government officials, Russian state-funded media, and Kremlin-aligned proxy disinformation actors are attempting to deflect attention from Russia’s responsibility for worsening global food insecurity by blaming sanctions, “the West,” and Ukraine. In fact, the Kremlin and its proxies’ massive disinformation campaign is heavily targeting the crisis’s most heavily impacted regions – the Middle East and Africa. These false narratives are amplified by Kremlin-controlled state outlets such as RT Arabic and RT en Francais , as well as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) state media .
As it has with past false narratives about bioweapons in Ukraine , the Russian government’s top diplomats and its embassies spread disinformation, often concentrating on African and Middle Eastern audiences. Some recent false claims include:
  • Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain “Western and Ukrainian disinformation .”
  • In his May 19 United Nations Security Council speech on conflict and food security, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasiliy Nebenzya accused Europe of “hoarding” Ukrainian grain and engaging in “grain for weapons ” exchanges with Kyiv.
  • Russia’s embassy in Egypt blamed “illegal unilateral sanctions ,” while Russia’s embassy in Zimbabwe claimed “Western interference ” in the Global South.
  • In his May 25 Africa Day speech, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attempted to de-legitimize Ukraine and urged African ambassadors in Moscow to demand the removal of “illegal, anti-Russian” sanctions in order to strengthen food security.
  • OneWorld , a website with ties to Russia’s military intelligence, according to U.S. officials, echoed Lavrov’s claims, accusing President Zelenskyy of supporting a U.S.-led “global food cartel ” that will wield control over global food supply as a “new hybrid weapon ” against the Global South.
  • In his May 26 interview with RT Arabic, Foreign Minister Lavrov accused the West of neo-colonialism and of blackmailing African and Arab countries to join “anti-Russia” sanctions, in a bid to build solidarity against what Russia’s propaganda calls the “imperial West .”
This disinformation is intended to both hide Russia’s culpability and persuade leaders of at-risk countries to support an end to sanctions designed to stop Russia’s unjust and brutal war in Ukraine.
Conclusion: Where the Blame Really Lies
The Russian government’s attempts to deflect responsibility for its actions by blaming others for the worsening crisis in the global food system are reprehensible. This crisis is keenly felt in many Middle Eastern and African countries that import at least half of their wheat from Ukraine. According to World Food Program, millions of people are at risk of famine and malnutrition in these regions, as Putin’s reckless war increases the price of bread, taking money from the pockets of the most vulnerable families. “Russia is solely responsible for this food crisis … despite the Kremlin’s campaign of lies and disinformation,” said European Council president Charles Michel as Russia’s UN Ambassador Nebenzya stormed out of a June 6, 2022, UN Security Council meeting.
The Russian government continues spreading disinformation about its unjustified war’s disastrous consequences, including global food insecurity. The Russian government should stop weaponizing food and allow Ukraine to safely ship out its grain so that millions of hungry people in the Middle East and Africa can be fed.


8. Now Russia threatens POLAND: Putin claims to have 'killed 80 Polish fighters' in east Ukraine

Well if an attack on Poland comes to pass it would be more than a game changer. It could really be the start of WWIII.


Now Russia threatens POLAND: Putin claims to have 'killed 80 Polish fighters' in east Ukraine and removes flag from memorial to WW2 Poles killed by Soviet Union amid fresh tensions mount over Kaliningrad enclave
  • Russia claimed a 'precision strike' wiped out 80 Polish fighters in the Donbas 
  • On same day Russia admitted taking down Polish flag from Katyn massacre site 
  • Poland has called on NATO to reinforce Suwalki Gap to support Lithuania 
  • Lithuania is enforcing a blockade on Kaliningrad that has infuriated Moscow 
PUBLISHED: 08:10 EDT, 25 June 2022 | UPDATED: 08:28 EDT, 25 June 2022
Daily Mail · by Walter Finch For Mailonline · June 25, 2022
Tensions between Russia and NATO member Poland have been cranking up to boiling point in recent days amid Russian claims that it has killed 'up to 80 Polish mercenaries' in missile strikes.
The reported losses come on the same day that Russia confirmed it has removed a Polish flag from a memorial commemorating the murder of thousands of Poles by the Soviet Union in 1940.
To the north, Moscow has been furious over Lithuania's blocking of EU-sanctioned goods from reaching the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between the Baltic state and Poland.
This has prompted Poland to call on NATO to further bolster its security presence in the Suwalki Gap, the narrow corridor of territory that connects the three Baltic states to the rest of their NATO allies and separates Kaliningrad from Russian ally Belarus.
'We are going to seek the reinforcement of this corridor... in our talks with our partners from NATO,' Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference in Brussels after a European Union summit.
Kaliningrad and the Suwalki Gap, on Polish territory, would be ground zero for any military conflict between NATO and Russia, as Vladimir Putin would immediately move to cut the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia off from the rest of NATO and shore up the isolated exclave from inevitable NATO strikes.

The Suwalki Gap - named after the town of Suwalki that sits between the Russian territory of Kaliningrad and the Belarus border - is a strategic choke point that Poland has called on NATO to reinforce in order to strengthen Lithuanian security

The aftermath of a Russian missile strike on a warehouse building in Druzhkivka, just a few miles away from the Megatex zinc factory in Konstantinovka, where Russia has claimed a 'precision strike' killed 80 Polish fighters

Freight cars stand on the railroad tracks of the freight station in Kaliningrad on Tuesday after Lithuania enforced a blockade against EU-sanctioned goods crossing its territory from Belarus to Kaliningrad

Estonia's military said in a statement that the Russian MI-8 helicopter (pictured flying over St Petersburg) entered the country's airspace in southeastern Estonia and simulated missile strikes
This week Moscow warned of 'very tough actions' against Lithuania after deliveries of coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology were stopped passing through its territory on the way to Kaliningrad.
The Lithuanian chargé d'affaires in Moscow was told that unless cargo transit was resumed in the near future, Russia reserves the right to act to protect its national interests.
Such talk has prompted Poland to request additional NATO fortifications around the town of Suwalki in order to safeguard Lithuania's security from Russian incursions.
Russian claims of wiping out 80 Polish fighters will only add to the tensions.
'Up to 80 Polish mercenaries, 20 armoured combat vehicles and eight Grad multiple rocket launchers were destroyed in precision strikes on the Megatex zinc factory in Konstantinovka' in the Donetsk region, the Russian defence ministry said in a statement which could not be independently verified.
It is a common Russian tactic to accuse Western volunteers fighting within the Ukrainian armed forces of being paid mercenaries and thus exempt from the Geneva Convention rules on the treatment of prisoners of war.
The irony not being lost on those in Ukraine that Russia employs genuine mercenaries of the Wagner Group, which it pays a far higher pay packet than its own troops.
Poland fully endorsed Lithuania's blockade of Russian materials to its Baltic exclave and it has been reported that Russian Railways has temporarily suspended some cargo transit from Belarus to Poland.
Russia is framing this as a routine disruption but the timing of it gives the appearance of a tit-for-tat retaliation.
And Estonia's military said in a statement Tuesday that a Russian MI-8 helicopter entered the country's airspace in southeastern Estonia in the Koidula area - not far from the Russian city of Pskov - without permission on Saturday evening and simulated missile attacks.
The helicopter was in Estonia's airspace for almost two minutes, Estonia's military said, adding that it hadn't presented a flight plan, had its transponder switched off and failed to maintain radio contact with Estonian Air Navigation Services.
The alleged intrusion was one of multiple violations of Estonia's airspace this year and comes less than a week before a scheduled NATO summit in Madrid.
And to escalate tensions between the two historical enemies even further, Russian authorities have removed a Polish flag from a memorial commemorating the murder of thousands of Poles by the Soviet Union.

Members of a Polish Historic Group participate in the Katyn Shadow March reconstruction at the Monument To Those Who Fell or Were Murdered in the East in Warsaw, Poland, 14 April 2013

A Polish girl scout carries a candle she accepted from mourners to lay it outside the Presidential Palace in memory of late Polish President Lech Kaczynski on April 12, 2010 in Warsaw

Pictured: An outpouring of grief at the gate of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw on April 10 2010, after news spread of the tragic crash of the presidential plane near Smolensk airport earlier in the day
Historians and visitors to the Katyn memorial in western Russia's Smolensk region noted the flag's disappearance on social media on Friday.
The mayor of Smolensk city confirmed the removal on Friday evening, publishing a photo showing the Russian flag flying alone at the memorial's entrance.
'There cannot be Polish flags on Russian monuments. Even less so after the frankly anti-Russian comments by Polish political leaders,' Andrei Borisov said on social media platform VKontakte.
'The culture ministry of the Russian Federation made the right decision by removing the Polish flag. Katyn is a Russian memorial.'
The Katyn memorial was erected in memory of the 25,000 Poles, mostly army officers deemed anti-communist, massacred by the Soviet Union's political police in a forest near Smolensk in 1940 on the orders of Joseph Stalin.
The Soviet Union had long denied responsibility for the killings, accusing the Nazis of the crime, before admitting the truth in 1990.
The episode poisoned already hostile relations between Russia and Poland.
In 2010, a Smolensk-bound plane carrying the Polish president crashed on the way to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, killing all its 96 passengers including most of the Polish government.
The investigation into the incident sparked a plethora of conspiracy theories and became another source of tension after the countries tried to improve their ties.
Daily Mail · by Walter Finch For Mailonline · June 25, 2022

9. Meta Made Millions in Ads From Networks of Fake Accounts

Excerpts:
Wiley says that Meta’s reports obscure how little researchers and the public still know about what goes on within the company, and on its platforms. In a January report, Meta said that due to evolving threats against its teams, it would “prioritize enforcement and the safety of our teams over publishing our findings,” which could make transparency worse.
“Is this the tip of the iceberg? Unfortunately, I think it is,” says Wiley.
“Over the last five years we’ve shared information about over 150 covert influence operations that we removed for violating our coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB) policy. Transparency is an important tool to counter this behavior, and we'll continue to take action and report publicly," says Meta’s Gleicher.
“It’s strategic transparency,” Wiley says. “They get to come out and say they're helping researchers and they're fighting misinformation on their platforms, but they're not really showing the whole picture.”
Even when a campaign is taken down, it can still be useful, according to Atkin. “They're still able to get an incredible amount of audience insight,” she says. “They would see who clicked on [their ads], who the suckers are, and then they would be able to use that list in order to retarget them.”




Meta Made Millions in Ads From Networks of Fake Accounts
The social media giant banned accounts promoting disinformation, spam, or propaganda—and kept the money it made from ads.
Wired · by Condé Nast · June 23, 2022
When Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify before Congress in 2018, he was asked by Senator Orin Hatch how Facebook made money. Zuckerberg’s answer has since become something of a meme: “Senator, we run ads.”
Between July 2018 and April 2022, Meta made at least $30.3 million in ad revenue from networks it removed from its own platforms for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB), data compiled by WIRED shows. Margarita Franklin, head of security communications at Meta, confirmed to WIRED that the company does not return the ad money if a network is taken down. Franklin clarified that some of the money came from adverts that didn't break the company's rules, but were published by the same public relations or marketing organizations later banned for participating in CIB operations.
A report from The Wall Street Journal estimates that by the end of 2021, Meta absorbed 17 percent of the money in the global ad market and made $114 billion from advertising. At least some of the money came from ads purchased by networks that violated Meta’s policies and that the company itself has flagged and removed.
“The advertising industry globally is estimated to be about $400 billion to $700 billion,” said Claire Atkin, cofounder of the independent watchdog Check My Ads Institute. “That is a large brush, but nobody knows how big the industry is. Nobody knows what goes on inside of it.”
But Atkin says that part of what makes information, including ads, feel legitimate on social media is the context they appear in. “Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, this entire network within our internet experience, is where we connect with our closest friends and family. This is a place on the internet where we share our most intimate emotions about what’s happening in our lives,” says Atkin. “It is our trusted location for connection.”
For nearly four years, Meta has released periodic reports identifying CIB networks of fake accounts and pages that aim to deceive users and, in many cases, push propaganda or disinformation in ways that are designed to look organic and change public opinion. These networks can be run by governments, independent groups, or public relations and marketing companies.
Content
This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.
Last year, the company also began addressing what it dubbed “coordinated social harm,” where networks used real accounts as part of their information operations. Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Meta, announced the changes in a blog post, noting that “threat actors deliberately blur the lines between authentic and inauthentic activities, making enforcement more challenging across our industry.”
This change, however, demonstrates how specific the company’s criteria for CIB is, which means that Meta may not have documented some networks that used other tactics at all. Information operations can sometimes use real accounts, or be run on behalf of a political action committee or LLC, making it more difficult to categorize their behavior as “inauthentic.”
“One tactic that's been used more frequently, at least since 2016, has been not bots, but actual people that go out and post things,” says Sarah Kay Wiley, a researcher at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. “The CIB reports from Facebook, they kind of get at it, but it's really hard to spot.”
Content
This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.
Russia accounted for the most ads in networks that Meta identified as CIB and subsequently removed. The United States, Ukraine, and Mexico were targeted most frequently, though nearly all of the campaigns targeting Mexico were linked to domestic actors. (Meta’s public earnings documents do not break down how much the company earns by country, only by region.)
More than $22 million of the $30.3 million was spent by just seven networks, the largest of which was a $9.5 million global campaign connected to the right-wing, anti-China media group behind the Epoch Times.
Of the 134 campaigns that involved paid ads that Meta identified and removed, 56 percent were focused on domestic audiences. Only 31 percent were solely focused on foreign audiences, meaning users outside the country where the network originated. (The remaining 12 percent focused on a mix of domestic and international audiences.)
Content
This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.
Many of the largest networks that Meta removed were run by public relations or marketing firms, like the Archimedes Group in Israel and Pragmatico in Ukraine. When this happens, Meta will remove and ban every account and page associated with that firm, whether or not it is involved in a particular CIB campaign, in an effort to discourage businesses from selling “disinformation for hire” services.
CIB campaigns and disinformation are not limited to Facebook and Instagram. Twitter, which labels such activity “information operations,” has identified and removed thousands of accounts on its own platform. Though researchers have identified disinformation campaigns on TikTok, the company’s Community Guidelines Enforcement Reports do not indicate whether or how the platform deals with artificially boosted content.
Wiley says that Meta’s reports obscure how little researchers and the public still know about what goes on within the company, and on its platforms. In a January report, Meta said that due to evolving threats against its teams, it would “prioritize enforcement and the safety of our teams over publishing our findings,” which could make transparency worse.
“Is this the tip of the iceberg? Unfortunately, I think it is,” says Wiley.
“Over the last five years we’ve shared information about over 150 covert influence operations that we removed for violating our coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB) policy. Transparency is an important tool to counter this behavior, and we'll continue to take action and report publicly," says Meta’s Gleicher.
“It’s strategic transparency,” Wiley says. “They get to come out and say they're helping researchers and they're fighting misinformation on their platforms, but they're not really showing the whole picture.”
Even when a campaign is taken down, it can still be useful, according to Atkin. “They're still able to get an incredible amount of audience insight,” she says. “They would see who clicked on [their ads], who the suckers are, and then they would be able to use that list in order to retarget them.”
Updated 6/23/2022 4:45 pm ET: This story has been updated to include additional information Meta provided on the record after this story was originally published, stating that part of the $30.3m in ad revenue was generated by ads that did not break its standards but that were published by organizations that participated in CIB. The article's headline has also been updated to reflect that the ad revenue came from fake accounts spreading a range of content, not just disinformation.
Wired · by Condé Nast · June 23, 2022

10. Why We Fall for Disinformation - The psychological mechanisms at work.

Excerpts:

Despite their impact on the spread of disinformation, these mechanisms can be generally healthy and useful to us in our daily lives. They allow us to filter through the onslaught of information and images we encounter regularly. They’re also the same mechanisms that advertisers have been using for years to get us to buy their cookies, cereal, or newspaper. The current information environment, however, is far more complex than it was even 10 years ago, and the number of malicious actors who seek to exploit it has grown. These normal thought patterns now represent a vulnerability we must address to protect our communities and our nation.
The U.S. government is already working on technological means of thwarting state and nonstate actors spreading disinformation in and about the United States. And an increasingly robust conversation about legislative action might force more aggressive removal of disinformation from social media platforms. Our analysis, suggests another path that merits additional attention: empowering individual citizens to reject the disinformation that they will inevitably encounter. Our work outlines two promising categories of techniques in this vein. One is to provide preventive inoculation, such as warning people about the effects of disinformation and how to spot it. The other is to encourage deeper, analytical thinking. These two techniques can be woven into training and awareness campaigns that would not necessarily require the cooperation of social media platforms. They could be simple, low-cost, and scalable. A comprehensive approach to breaking the cycle of disinformation will address not only where disinformation messages are sent, but also where and how they are received.





Why We​ ​Fall for Disinformation
The psychological mechanisms at work.
Posted June 23, 2022 |  Reviewed by Lybi Ma


KEY POINTS
  • Messages of persuasion are not just on billboards, but in memes, images, and shared online content.
  • The goals of today’s disinformation campaigns are difficult to discern, and the content creators are harder to identify.
  • Here are the key psychological mechanisms that make people vulnerable to persuasion.
As humans evolved, we developed certain psychological mechanisms to deal with the information surrounding us. But in the 21st-century media environment, where we are exposed to an exponentially growing quantity of messages and information, some of these time-tested tools make us dangerously vulnerable to disinformation.
Today, messages of persuasion are not just on billboards and commercials, but in a host of non-traditional places like in the memes, images, and content shared online by friends and family. When viewing an Oreo commercial, we can feel relatively confident that it wants to persuade us of the cookie’s excellence and that the creator is likely Nabisco. The goals of today’s disinformation campaigns are more difficult to discern, and the content creators are harder to identify. Few viewers will have any idea of the goal or identity of the creator of a shared meme about COVID-19 vaccines. And since this content appears in less traditional locations, we are less alert to its persuasive elements.
In a recent study, we examined how, in this disorienting information environment, normal information-processing and social psychological mechanisms can be exploited by disinformation campaigns. Our report, The Psychology of (Dis)Information: A Primer on Key Psychological Mechanisms, identifies four key psychological mechanisms that make people vulnerable to persuasion.
Initial information processing: Our mental processing capacity is limited; we simply cannot deeply attend to all new information we encounter. To manage this problem, our brains take mental shortcuts to incorporate new information. For example, an Iranian-orchestrated disinformation campaign known as Endless Mayfly took advantage of this mental shortcut by creating a series of websites designed to impersonate legitimate and familiar news organizations like The Guardian and Bloomberg News. These look-alike sites were subject to less scrutiny by individual users who saw the familiar logo and assumed that the content was reliable and accurate.
Cognitive dissonance: We feel uncomfortable when confronted with two competing ideas, experiencing what psychologists call cognitive dissonance. We are motivated to reduce the dissonance by changing our attitude, ignoring or discounting the contradictory information, or increasing the importance of compatible information. Disinformation spread by the Chinese government following the 2019 protests in Hong Kong took advantage of the human desire to avoid cognitive dissonance by offering citizens a clear and consistent narrative casting the Chinese government in a positive light and depicting Hong Kong’s protestors as terrorists. This narrative, shared via official and unofficial media, protected viewers from feeling the dissonance that might result from trying to reconcile the tensions between the Chinese government’s position and that of the Hong Kong protestors.
Influence of group membership, beliefs, and novelty: Not all information is equally valuable to individuals. We are more likely to share information from and with people we consider members of our group, when we believe that it is true, and when the information is novel or urgent. For example, the #CoronaJihad hashtag campaign leveraged the emergence of a brand new disease. one that resulted in global fear and apprehension, to circulate disinformation blaming Indian Muslims for its origins and spread.
Emotion and arousal: Not all information affects us the same way. Research demonstrates that we pay more attention to information that creates intense emotions or arouses us to act. That means we are more likely to share information if we feel awe, amusement, or anxiety than if we feel less-arousing emotions like sadness or contentment. Operation Secondary Infektion, coordinated by the Russians, tried to create discord in Russian adversaries like the U.K. by planting fake news, forged documents, and divisive content on topics likely to create intense emotional responses, such as terrorist threats and inflammatory political issues.
Despite their impact on the spread of disinformation, these mechanisms can be generally healthy and useful to us in our daily lives. They allow us to filter through the onslaught of information and images we encounter regularly. They’re also the same mechanisms that advertisers have been using for years to get us to buy their cookies, cereal, or newspaper. The current information environment, however, is far more complex than it was even 10 years ago, and the number of malicious actors who seek to exploit it has grown. These normal thought patterns now represent a vulnerability we must address to protect our communities and our nation.
The U.S. government is already working on technological means of thwarting state and nonstate actors spreading disinformation in and about the United States. And an increasingly robust conversation about legislative action might force more aggressive removal of disinformation from social media platforms. Our analysis, suggests another path that merits additional attention: empowering individual citizens to reject the disinformation that they will inevitably encounter. Our work outlines two promising categories of techniques in this vein. One is to provide preventive inoculation, such as warning people about the effects of disinformation and how to spot it. The other is to encourage deeper, analytical thinking. These two techniques can be woven into training and awareness campaigns that would not necessarily require the cooperation of social media platforms. They could be simple, low-cost, and scalable. A comprehensive approach to breaking the cycle of disinformation will address not only where disinformation messages are sent, but also where and how they are received.
In addition to the full report, The Psychology of (Dis)information: A Primer on Key Psychological Mechanisms, a companion report, The Psychology of (Dis)information: Case Studies and Implications, looks in detail at the real-world examples cited above and explores the national security implications of this analysis.
This also appears on CNA InDepth.

About the Author

Online: CNA.org



11. 'Increased threat' of foreign terrorists, election influence operations in 2022: DHS


Excerpts:

Chinese state-sponsored actors "aggressively target U.S. political, economic, military, educational, and critical infrastructure personnel and organizations to steal sensitive data, key technologies, intellectual property, and personally identifiable information."
The department assessed that PRC-sponsored hacking compromised at least 30,000 organizations by exploiting an an email server, DHS says.
"We assess that the PRC will seek to engage in a range of activities to support policies favorable to Beijing and its interests and will likely prioritize messaging against US audiences in the run-up to midterm elections to influence political outcomes favorable to Beijing," DHS says.
The malign influence campaign from China "use at least 30 social media platforms and more than 40 websites and niche forums in several languages, including English, Russian, German, Spanish, Korean, and Japanese, to target US audiences."
Additionally, ransomware will continue to increase, according to DHS, because it has been profitable for cybercriminals.
"We assess that ransomware attacks targeting US networks and infrastructure will increase in the near and long term because cybercriminals have developed effective business models to increase their financial gain, likelihood for success, and anonymity," the Department says.




ABCNews.com · by ABC News
The Department of Homeland Security recently warned that the threat from foreign terrorist organizations and cyberthreat from adversaries like Russia, including election interference, will likely increase in 2022 according to an intelligence analysis obtained by ABC News.
The document, titled "Key Threats to the Homeland in 2022" and dated June 8, asserts that the greatest threat to the United States this year comes from lone wolf actors and small groups of individuals motived by a cadre of extremist beliefs like the alleged shooter in Buffalo, New York who is currently facing hate crimes charges for killing 10 African-American shoppers at a grocery store. Federal law enforcement agencies including the DHS and Justice Department have previously prioritized combatting domestic violent extremism since the start of the Biden administration.
But DHS also warned about the potential for a resurgence of foreign terrorism due to the relaxing pandemic travel restrictions and said they will be "highly visible" online -- focused on messaging inspiring homegrown terrorism.
"Foreign terrorists probably will continue to hone their abilities to facilitate international travel, expand their networks, raise funds, and organize, ultimately to improve their ability to target the United States and the Homeland," the bulletin says. "While some travel was very likely curtailed by COVID-19 travel restrictions, we anticipate an increased threat from these actors in 2022 as travel restrictions are relaxed."
Some with terrorist connections may seek to travel to the United States and apply for tourist visas, DHS says.
"What this assessment reinforces is other intelligence indicating that the U.S. continues to experience unacceptable levels of violence by individuals inspired by extremist content promoted online by a diverse array of foreign and domestic threat actors," said John Cohen, an ABC News contributor and former acting undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at DHS. "Law enforcement officials are particularly concerned about the potential for targeted acts of violence directed at law enforcement, election, other elected officials due to increase calls for violence by domestic violent extremists."
Threats to the nation's cyberspace stem from three countries according to DHS: China, Russia and Iran, according to the assessment. Russia will continue to target U.S. critical infrastructure through various cyberattacks and sow discord in the country as it has in previous elections, according to DHS, in some cases leveraging emerging technology like artificial intelligence.

"Russian malign influence actors likely will attempt to dissuade U.S. voters from participating in the 2022 midterm elections using similar tactics employed during the 2020 and 2016 presidential elections, such as targeting audiences with false information about voting logistics, exacerbating racial tensions, and levying attacks or praise on candidates from either political party," the memo said.
"Russia probably could use emerging technologies to enhance its cyber and malign influence efforts when attempting to affect the outcome of U.S. elections. For instance, advancements in artificial intelligence allow for automated data analysis, classification, creation, and manipulation of digital content, which could be deployed in future foreign malign influence and disinformation campaigns."
Russia, according to the Department, embeds intelligence officers "to establish front companies and recruit Russian emigres and American citizens to steal sensitive US academic, government, and business information."
"It is a threat environment in which a diverse array of foreign and domestic threat actors use internet-based communication platforms to spread content intended to sow discord, inspire violence, undermine confidence in government institutions and achieve other illicit objectives," Cohen, the ABC News contributor, said.
Chinese state-sponsored actors "aggressively target U.S. political, economic, military, educational, and critical infrastructure personnel and organizations to steal sensitive data, key technologies, intellectual property, and personally identifiable information."
The department assessed that PRC-sponsored hacking compromised at least 30,000 organizations by exploiting an an email server, DHS says.
"We assess that the PRC will seek to engage in a range of activities to support policies favorable to Beijing and its interests and will likely prioritize messaging against US audiences in the run-up to midterm elections to influence political outcomes favorable to Beijing," DHS says.
The malign influence campaign from China "use at least 30 social media platforms and more than 40 websites and niche forums in several languages, including English, Russian, German, Spanish, Korean, and Japanese, to target US audiences."
Additionally, ransomware will continue to increase, according to DHS, because it has been profitable for cybercriminals.
"We assess that ransomware attacks targeting US networks and infrastructure will increase in the near and long term because cybercriminals have developed effective business models to increase their financial gain, likelihood for success, and anonymity," the Department says.
The bulletin was first reported by the Daily Beast.
ABCNews.com · by ABC News


12. Suspected Russian spy was well-liked by classmates, but something just seemed a little off

All the graduate schools of security studies and international relations and policy in the DC area are foreign intelligence targets. Cultivating relationships with future US policy makers and members of the intelligence community is a worthwhile investment for countries that take a long term view. When I was at Georgetown with the Security Studies Program I regularly engaged with the FBI and was told because the program was the largest contributor of grad students to the intelligence community it was the top target for foreign intelligence services. Despite the criticism in this excerpt below, the problem with universities is two fold. First, master's programs are cash cows for universities and they want any student who will pay full tuition and most international students pay full tuition. Second, the admissions committee is generally ill-suited to conduct counterintelligence vetting of international students. It is not an admissions criteria for most unless there are members of the committee who try to consider this informally or unofficially (and if the university knew anyone was doing this they would probably not be working a the university for long).

Short war story: When I was the Associate Director a young man walked into my office and introduced himself and gave me his business card that said he was a Major in the GRU assigned to the US embassy. He had read an article I had written about north Korea and wanted to get my views on the security situation in Northeast Asia. I told him I did not have anything to add to what I had written and published. I wondered why he was still here since this was just after about 30 Russian diplomats were declared PNG ater the 2016 election. I said he must not be a very important spy. He laughed and then asked if he could come back to visit me in the future. He said he often comes to the Georgetown Library to do "research" (it is open to the public) which is just a block away from our offices. I am sure his "research" was "spot, assess, recruit." I told him the next time he wants to see me to call ahead and make an appointment. As soon as he left I reported him to both university security and the FBI. 

And then there are the Chinese, but that is another story.

Excerpts:
One class that Muller either enrolled in or audited was on strategic diplomacy, popular with US military and intelligence professionals, and taught by Steinberg, a former deputy secretary of State in the Obama administration and current dean of SAIS, according to one of the former SAIS students.
SAIS faculty and students have been left stunned by the revelation that the Brazilian student with the funny accent was, in fact, a Russian spy. SAIS faculty who spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity say that the school’s communication to them has been bare bones, little more than an acknowledgment of the public reporting.
“It’s off-putting,” said the former SAIS student who pressed Cherkasov on his accent. “For me, it raises a lot of questions about how he was admitted to SAIS, how he was able to travel.”



Suspected Russian spy was well-liked by classmates, but something just seemed a little off | CNN Politics
CNN · by Katie Bo Lillis,Sean Lyngaas · June 24, 2022
Washington CNN —
Victor Muller’s accent just didn’t sound right.
The man now alleged to be a Russian spy was studying at the prestigious Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies, an elite graduate program favored by US military personnel, young diplomats and, sources say, future spies.
Gregarious, smart, and often seen toting a helmet for his beloved motorcycle, “Muller” was known, and even liked, by his fellow students and the faculty at SAIS. But his muddled accent caught the ear of a few classmates. On one occasion, a fellow student asked him outright: Are you Russian?
The spy brushed off the question. He was from Brazil, he said in what turned out to be part of the elaborate cover identity he spent years building.
“Looking back, it was a red flag,” the former classmate told CNN, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I remember thinking at the time it didn’t really make sense.”
“Muller” graduated from SAIS in 2020. Last week, a Dutch intelligence agency publicly identified him as Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, a Russian military intelligence officer who in April traveled to the Netherlands to start an internship at the International Criminal Court (ICC). From there, he would have had a perch to spy on war crimes investigations into Russian military actions in Ukraine and elsewhere, sources say.
Dutch officials stopped him at the border and sent him back to Brazil, where he had been living under the forged identity of a Brazilian man whose parents are deceased, according to Brazilian police.
It was not immediately clear when the US became aware of Cherkasov’s true identity. The FBI has an active investigation open, according to one source familiar with the intelligence. US and Dutch intelligence agencies shared information about Cherkasov some time ago, according to a separate US official, though it’s not clear when that occurred. Yet another US official wouldn’t address how the Russian intelligence connection came to light, adding that the FBI worked closely with the Dutch authorities on tracking his activities.
The revelation of Cherkasov’s true identity has roiled faculty at SAIS. But to former intelligence officials, Cherkasov fits a well-known pattern: Russia, among other foreign powers, seeks to place young intelligence operatives in American academic institutions to help build their deep cover identities.
Often, the mission of so-called “illegals” – a spy operating under an identity not linked to the Russian government in any way – is to do little more than simply establish legitimacy as a student, said John McLaughlin, a former deputy director of the CIA who now teaches at SAIS.
“It’s not unusual,” McLaughlin said. “My sense is that passing through SAIS was a kind of laundering experience for him. These Russian illegals tend to go through a long process of credentialing themselves in order to establish credibility as who they claim to be.”
SAIS declined to comment when reached by CNN on Friday. But in an email to faculty and students obtained by CNN, SAIS dean Jim Steinberg confirmed that Cherkasov graduated in 2020.
“We are continuing to monitor developments, but we have no further information to share at this time,” Steinberg wrote.
Cherkasov did not respond to a phone call or text message seeking comment on Friday.
‘Teacher’s favorite’
Cherkasov appears to have carried out that mission quite successfully. One of Cherkasov’s professors – who taught a class on genocide – wrote his reference letter for the internship at The Hague.
In another SAIS class, “he was the teacher’s favorite,” said another classmate, who like other former classmates spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation from the Russian security services. “He was a very nice guy, very open-minded, very active in class.”
“This guy I would have never suspected [of being a spy],” the former classmate told CNN.
A third former classmate of Cherkasov, a US military officer, struck up a conversation one day with Muller about their shared love of motor bikes. Eventually he got the impression that he and Muller might go for a ride together, the military officer told CNN.

Cherkasov attended Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies
Noel St./SAIS Hopkins/Facebook
But then, he asked Muller if he spoke Russian, since it sounded like he might based on his accent.
Muller denied being able to speak Russian and became withdrawn, the military officer said. The motor bike ride never happened.
Multiple former intelligence officials told CNN it would not be unusual for US counterintelligence officials to allow a Russian “illegal” to continue his studies in order to watch him and try to learn who his contacts are, whether he is operating in a larger network inside the United States, and how he is building his cover. It’s possible the US tipped off the Dutch intelligence service, these people said.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the case.
But another former counterintelligence officer noted that US intelligence services sometimes aren’t aware of student spies until they become more actively engaged in carrying out espionage – and only then, do they trace their histories back to SAIS or other academic institutions in the United States with a foreign policy bent.
‘Insider threat’
Why the Kremlin would want to plant a spy in the International Criminal Court is clear, former intelligence officials say: It would offer Russia a crucial window into the investigation into alleged Russian war crimes – in Georgia in 2008 and in Ukraine in 2022.
“For those reasons, covert access to International Criminal Court information would be highly valuable to the Russian intelligence services,” Dutch intelligence said in its statement.
Effectively planting a spy is increasingly difficult for intelligence services across the globe, thanks to ubiquitous surveillance technology and the degree to which most people live their entire lives online in 2022. An online profile that only popped up a few years ago, or a profile that suddenly goes inactive, can be a tip-off for counterintelligence officers trying to spot spies.

A Dutch intelligence agency publicly identified "Victor Muller" as Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov.
Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov/Facebook
The problem is equally difficult for American spies operating abroad under “nonofficial cover,” a so-called NOC.
“Any sort of durable long-term illegal is not a dying breed but far more difficult to do now than it once was,” said one former US counterintelligence official. “And that’s true for everybody.”
The US arrested and deported 10 Russian operatives as part of a spy swap with Moscow in 2010, one of whom had graduated from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government 10 years before and had been living in Cambridge with his wife and two children. Harvard subsequently stripped Andrey Bezrukov – who went by the name Donald Heathfield – of his degree. His wife, Elena Vavilova, graduated from McGill University and was deported as part of the same swap.
Cherkasov had similarly sought to quietly build an alternate identity over the course of years. The Dutch intelligence agency published a crude “legend” that it says was probably written by Cherkasov in mid-2010, laying out his false history as a Brazilian man born in Rio de Janeiro in 1989. He details this fake family history through multiple generations, offering a myriad of small personal idiosyncrasies: a hatred for fish, a beloved aunt, a crush on a geography teacher.
In 2014, Cherkasov began attending college at Trinity College Dublin, studying political science and graduating in 2018. The same year, he traveled to the United States to obtain his master’s degree at SAIS.
Unanswered questions
Throughout his time as a student, Muller maintained an active digital life. In 2017, he started a blog on geopolitics, according to the open-source intelligence company Bellingcat. He maintained a Facebook and a Twitter account, full of friends from both schools and, in September 2018, published a YouTube video introducing his new motorcycle. In the video, a man whom Bellingcat identifies as Cherkasov can be heard chuckling and greeting at a trolley of tourists riding near the Potomac River.
Although it’s not clear how far back Russian intelligence plotted to place Cherkasov at The Hague – some former intelligence officials said it might have been opportunistic rather than a long-running plan – Cherkasov did take classes that made sense for a student interested in The Hague as a career path, including a class on genocide.
A policy memo that Cherkasov wrote for one of his SAIS classes exhibits the sober and anecdote-rich analysis one might expect from a student of international affairs. The memo, obtained by CNN, advocates potential US responses at the United Nations to help stop a genocide. It’s the sort of US policy discussion that has in recent months applied to trying to curtail Russian violence in Ukraine.
And according to multiple people familiar with him while at SAIS, Cherkasov was a good student – smart, engaged and talkative in class.
One class that Muller either enrolled in or audited was on strategic diplomacy, popular with US military and intelligence professionals, and taught by Steinberg, a former deputy secretary of State in the Obama administration and current dean of SAIS, according to one of the former SAIS students.
SAIS faculty and students have been left stunned by the revelation that the Brazilian student with the funny accent was, in fact, a Russian spy. SAIS faculty who spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity say that the school’s communication to them has been bare bones, little more than an acknowledgment of the public reporting.
“It’s off-putting,” said the former SAIS student who pressed Cherkasov on his accent. “For me, it raises a lot of questions about how he was admitted to SAIS, how he was able to travel.”
CNN’s Evan Perez and Natasha Bertrand contributed to this story.
CNN · by Katie Bo Lillis,Sean Lyngaas · June 24, 2022


13. Eric Greitens’ Embarrassing Fantasies of Political Violence

I wish USSOCOM could disavow him but that would cause more problems and give him more attention and stir up those who believe in Greitens. He is an embarrassment to the SOF community, I am told that he never even commanded a SEAL platoon and his four deployments were staff and liaison positions and not as a SOF operator.

Eric Greitens’ Embarrassing Fantasies of Political Violence
TIME · by Phil Klay
BY PHIL KLAY JUNE 25, 2022 7:00 AM EDT
Klay, a National Book Award-winner, is the author of Missionaries and teaches at Fairfield University's MFA program. His new book is Uncertain Ground: Citizenship in an Age of Endless War
There’s always been something a little pathetic with how Eric Greitens publicizes himself. After the Osama bin Laden raid, he went on cable show after cable show, hawking his memoir and explaining how SEALs like himself operate, but always forgetting to mention that he’d never actually served with a SEAL team in combat. Later, when he ran ads for Governor in Missouri, he again highlighted his SEAL background despite pushback from the SEAL community over how they felt he was misrepresenting himself. He succeeded in that campaign, only to lose the governorship amid allegations of blackmail, campaign finance violations, and felony invasion-of-privacy charges. But now that he’s running for Senate, he’s reached a sad nadir with his latest ad, in which he leads a gun-toting, camouflage-wearing team into a suburban house to go “RINO hunting,” in other words, hunting and killing Republicans who aren’t sufficiently hardline. You can even purchase a “RINO hunting permit” on his website for $25. Playing with advocating political violence is clearly an attempt to generate horrified backlash, and perhaps to distract from recent allegations from his ex-wife that Greitens abused her and their children.
But Greitens has a long history of successfully leveraging American attitudes toward the military in service of his own projects, first in the nonprofit world, and then in politics, and so what’s interesting about his recent campaigning is not what it says about him as a candidate, but about what he thinks his constituency wants from former Navy SEALs. And it isn’t defending American from foreign terrorists.
He’s also not alone. During the Senate campaign in Georgia, Texas House Representative Dan Crenshaw cut a much more expensively produced ad in the style of a Marvel movie where, after jumping from a helicopter, he lands on a car in Georgia filled with two members of Antifa, and proceeds to attack them. The cringe inducing performance shared similar images of militarized politics and a hatred of domestic rivals (though this flirtation with violence didn’t help him when a group of far right protesters, shouting “Eyepatch McCain,” assaulted his campaign staff at Republican Party of Texas).
It’s a common enough thing, in the wake of failed wars, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, for people to look for internal enemies. “We were stabbed in the back” has been the rallying cry of so many disappointed veterans through the centuries. “This feeling pours out into a state of general indictment,” wrote German World War I veteran Ernst Junger in 1932, “into a literature of the blind, who are constantly in search of those responsible.” When things go awry in your country, you either have the fortitude to look in the mirror, or you hunt for scapegoats.
Greitens used to take a different approach. In the first decade of the post-9/11 wars, he spoke of selfless service and a commitment to rebuild American communities. He’d tell a story of visiting amputees and burn victims at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, veterans who had been thanked repeatedly for what they’d done for their country but, in his telling, were energized by four simple words: “We still need you.” He went on to found a nonprofit that “redeployed” veterans to their communities to work on service projects, and he spoke at Harvard about how as a country “we need to connect with people and tell them that they are needed” to serve.
In the second decade of the wars he decided to run for governor as a Republican, and he brought a harder edge to his use of his service. Gone was the sophisticated, service-minded intellection. Instead, he cut ads shooting guns and blowing things up while selling bumper stickers reading “ISIS Hunting Permit” and bragging, “Liberals will go crazy when they see these.” This earlier version of his current RINO hunting permits was crass trolling as well, though at least it directed itself toward genocidal terrorists. But overseas military failures have left little taste for that kind of bluster on the newly isolationist right, and so the fantasy he’s selling now is violence toward fellow Americans.
Greitens and Crenshaw, both former Navy SEALs, are leaning heavily on their backgrounds, though that doesn’t mean they’re representative of veterans as a whole. A recent survey of the civic health of veterans (done in partnership with Greitens’ old nonprofit, The Mission Continues) found that not only do veterans vote and volunteer more than the civilian population, but that they had improved on these metrics in the past half decade, a change driven by younger veterans. That call to service which Greitens used to champion drives many of us more than ever, no matter how far Greitens has fallen away from the values he used to profess.
What Greitens and Crenshaw are doing is less indicative of a military mindset, then, than a kind of playacting for civilians who like the iconography of the military, but without the tricky-to-uphold military values and nonpartisan commitment to the nation. Let’s toy with the thrill of violence, but do it with a smirk that dares you to be enough of a rube to take it seriously.
No, I don’t take it seriously. I take it as an expression of a lack of talent, an inability to genuinely inspire people. After the Second World War, the Ukrainian-born writer Vasily Grossman once argued that “the superman is born of the despair of the weak, not from the triumph of the strong.” A commitment to social equality and the creative force of the people speaks to self-confident strength. It is the vicarious despair of impotence which confuses violence for strength and sees “the man sowing a vast wheat field as inferior to the thug who smashes him over the back of the head with crowbar.”
Is this really what Americans want? Greitens is currently leading in the polls, so his schtick, however embarrassing, clearly has an audience. And even outside of these two egregious examples, contempt has replaced disagreement in far too much of our political discourse.
It’s fun to imagine destroying your enemies, but hard putting in the work to build a better country and better future. Ads like Greitens are made for the weak and humiliated, who want to fantasize about violence without having the guts to admit that’s what they’re doing. I don’t think Americans are a pathetic people. But we are hurting. And it’s in times like this when candidates show us whether they’re capable of moral leadership.
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TIME · by Phil Klay


​14. Exclusive: Ukraine's top military spy says captured American fighters could be released in prisoner swap



Exclusive: Ukraine's top military spy says captured American fighters could be released in prisoner swap
USA Today · by Kim Hjelmgaard
Ukraine's top military intelligence official said his country has spies inside the Kremlin, one of several rare disclosures he made in an interview with USA TODAY,
| USA TODAY

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NATO considers sending more weapons to Ukraine
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said nations need to step up support for Ukraine.
Ariana Triggs, USA TODAY
  • Ukraine's top military spy says the country has spies inside the Kremlin.
  • The defense intelligence chief predicts 'wins' in war with Russia 'obvious to world community' by mid-August.
  • Maj. Gen. Kyrylo O. Budanov expects two American fighters in Ukraine detained by Russia to be returned within a few months.
KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine has a network of spies inside the Kremlin, its military will soon score "obvious" victories in its unprovoked war with Russia, and two American volunteer fighters for Ukraine captured by Russia's military will likely be released within "a few months" in a prisoner swap, Ukraine's top military intelligence official said in an exclusive USA TODAY interview.
Maj. Gen. Kyrylo O. Budanov made the rare disclosures, some of them on extremely sensitive topics, in a wide-ranging interview Wednesday at the Defence Intelligence unit of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine's well-fortified Kyiv headquarters.
Budanov said that Ukraine's spies are embedded in Russia's presidential administration, in its parliament and in several branches of Moscow's intelligence services. He also predicted in the interview that if Ukraine's military continues to receive substantial military aid from its allies, then by mid-August it will start scoring decisive "wins" in its four-month-old war with Russia that "will be obvious for the world community." His prediction came as Russian forces overwhelmed more villages in eastern Ukraine amid a slow but systematic advancement through the industrial heart of Ukraine.
On the two American volunteers fighting for Ukraine who were captured by Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk, and who the Kremlin says could face the death penalty: "We are working on it," Budanov said. "The way of resolving it is not easy ... but we do see a way to resolve it. It will be more or less related to a prisoner swap. We have at our disposal people who the Russians want very much, who they need to get back very much ... but it also won't happen in a week or two. It will take a few months."
New phase of Russia's war in Ukraine:'Two heavyweights that are just slugging it out'
Budanov confirmed Russian media reports claiming the two U.S. citizens – Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, from Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, from Hartselle, Ala. – are being held in a prison in the Donbas. He said Ukraine knows which prison it is. He declined to comment on how the Americans are being treated for fear of jeopardizing ongoing efforts to secure their release. During the interview, a bright yellow folder with information about the Americans was placed prominently on Budanov's desk.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on a possible prisoner swap. But the State Department’s chief spokesman Ned Price said last week that U.S. officials had been in touch with both Russian and Ukrainian authorities about Americans who may have been captured while fighting in Ukraine.
“We are pursuing every channel, every opportunity we have, to learn more and to support their families, especially in this difficult hour,” Price said during a June 21 press briefing.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told NBC News on Friday the men were “heroes” and vowed to fight for their release.
Budanov said that based on "human intelligence" information that Ukraine's operatives have collected from inside the Kremlin, it appears Russian President Vladimir Putin is suffering from several "grave" illnesses and "doesn't have a long life ahead of him." Budanov said his office believes Putin will die from these illnesses within two years.
He did not provide any specific evidence for these claims. Putin's health has long been a source of rampant speculation, with unverified reports alleging he is perhaps suffering from a form of blood cancer or Parkinson's disease. Many Russia experts have dismissed these claims about Putin's poor health as wishful thinking. The Kremlin does not respond to questions about the president's personal health.
It's highly unusual for an intelligence chief of any country to be so forthright about espionage operations and it was not immediately clear why Budanov revealed specific information about where Ukraine's operatives are embedded. Russia and Ukraine are involved in an information war as well as one on the battlefield.
Zelenskyy may replace the chief of Ukraine's Security Service, its domestic intelligence agency known as the SBU, over perceived failures during the early days of Russia's invasion that may have caused it to lose some territory, Politico reported Thursday. There are numerous examples of Russian spies infiltrating the SBU.
'Consequences you have never seen': How to read Putin's nuclear threats
Reports suggest the CIA has occasionally managed to place moles inside the Kremlin, but the current status of its spying operation in Russia is not publicly known.
Budanov declined in the interview to elaborate on what Ukraine's forecasted "wins" would look like, saying only that Ukraine is working to restore its "territorial integrity step-by-step." He acknowledged future victories are dependent on military aid from Western partners. He further predicted that "closer to winter there will be a downturn in hostilities" and "the fighting is likely to reach its lowest point" by early next year.
"We see small victories every day," Budanov said. "And, of course, sometimes there are also defeats. We cannot escape that."
Russia appears to have the upper hand in intense battles currently underway for control of the eastern cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, where Ukrainian forces are outnumbered. Ukrainian troops are retreating from Sievierodonetsk, a move described Friday by a senior U.S. defense official as tactical move to protect their forces.
In an interview with USA TODAY last November, Budanov predicted that Russia in late 2021 would gradually escalate a series of false-flag provocations as a pretext to launch an invasion, sparking an energy crisis, economic turmoil and food insecurity in countries that rely on Ukraine's exports. All of these things have now happened.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, initially seeking to gain control of the capital Kyiv and other cities. After Ukrainian forces rebuffed that assault and recaptured large areas around Kyiv in early April, Russia abandoned its push toward the capital.
For the last few months, Moscow has pivoted its military attacks to Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas region, where Russian-backed separatists held large swaths of Ukraine's territory before the invasion. Russian forces have continued to bombard key Ukrainian locations with missile strikes and artillery shelling. Its forces have made slow but steady progress in Donetsk and Luhansk, where they have more heavy weaponry in place than Ukraine which has suffered high casualties, according to intelligence assessments by the British government and others.
However, The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based policy research organization, concluded this week that Russian offensive operations will likely stall in the coming weeks due to substantially degraded "quantities of Russian personnel, weapons, and equipment."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently warned that the war could last for years and said sending more weapons to Ukraine would make its victory more likely.
Dmitri Alperovitch, chairman of the Washington-based think tank Silverado Policy Accelerator, wrote in a recent Twitter thread that he believes this winter is "likely the earliest time for ending the hostilities." Alperovitch, one of the few independent Russian policy observers to correctly predict Russia's invasion of Ukraine before U.S. intelligence assessments came to the same conclusion, said that having "failed at his original (and wildly unrealistic) plan of replacing Zelensky's government in 3 days and not having the forces to go back for major new offensives, Putin's best bet for achieving strategic success is now at the negotiation table."
Alperovitch said this winter is "when the impact of (Russia's) Black Sea blockade and the games that Putin is playing with Europe's gas supply will really start to have a major impact on the West (and everyone else)."
A port city, a steel cage, a palace:: Steps that made Putin 'richest man in the world'
Budanov said that four months into the war, Russia has not achieved any of its "strategic tasks" in Ukraine, including the total seizure of territory in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Among the other topics discussed by Ukraine's top military spy:
  • Ukrainian operatives have already started hunting to kill Russian military personnel who they believe are responsible for war crimes in Ukraine; "torturers," as the Ukrainians call them. "Amid the fog of war sometimes the Russians cannot clearly differentiate if a person just died in a battle or if there's been a targeted assassination," Budanov said of these activities. He said these operations have also taken place inside Russia, successfully targeting mid-ranking Russian officers.
  • Budanov confirmed previous remarks he made to Ukrainska Pravda, an online newspaper, that Putin survived an assassination attempt two months before he launched his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Budanov said the unsuccessful attempt on Putin's life took place in the Caucus region, an area between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The incident was not reported on at the time, he said.
USA Today · by Kim Hjelmgaard


15. Congress is bringing back the idea of a 'limited' nuclear war

Excerpts:

As for the notion that nuclear war could be limited to low-yield weapons, Kristensen called the idea a “dangerous illusion.”
“There is no reason to believe that either side would back down after a few detonations but that all would escalate and seek to defeat the other side and win,” Kristensen said. “Limited scenarios are created by warfighters as tactical means of achieving certain war objectives but are over-sold by theorists and advocates who try to make nuclear weapons sound more acceptable.”



Congress is bringing back the idea of a 'limited' nuclear war
“To me, it is all about deterrence. We need some capacity to be able to fill a deterrence gap. If we leave the gap, then we are at risk.”
BY JEFF SCHOGOL | PUBLISHED JUN 24, 2022 9:00 AM
taskandpurpose.com · by Jeff Schogol · June 24, 2022
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Lawmakers are betting $45 million that a nuclear war does not automatically mean the end of the world.
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) recently added an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act that would provide $45 million for the Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile, even though President Joe Biden’s administration has indicated it wants to stop the program.
Defense officials have not said publicly how powerful the Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile is, but Pentagon spokesman Oscar Seára described it as a “low-yield weapon.”
The missile would give the U.S. military a relatively small nuclear weapon that is meant to deter Russia and China from using their own low-yield nuclear weapons because they assume the United States would not respond with far more powerful strategic weapons.
“Expanding flexible U.S. nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression,” according to the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. “It will raise the nuclear threshold and help ensure that potential adversaries perceive no possible advantage in limited nuclear escalation, making nuclear employment less likely.”
The Biden administration continues to stand by its decision to cancel the Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile in the proposed Defense Department budget for fiscal 2023, a National Security Council spokesman said. That decision was based on the findings of the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review – which the Pentagon completed earlier this year but has not yet released an unclassified version of the review – as well as an interagency process led by the Defense Department.
It is too early to tell whether funding for the missile will be included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which will likely be negotiated by lawmakers at a conference committee much later this year. Even if the $45 million is included in the final law, the House Appropriations Committee did not include any money for the missile in its version of the defense appropriations bill, which funds the U.S. military.
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Still, the fact that money for the missile was included in the House version of the latest defense policy bill shows that several lawmakers believe the United States needs to be prepared to fight a limited nuclear war. Once you accept that there is such a thing as a “limited nuclear war,” it’s not much of a logical leap to assume it is possible for the United States to escape mutually assured destruction by limiting a nuclear exchange with Russia or China to low-yield weapons.
However, the purpose of having the Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile in the U.S. military’s arsenal is to deter adversaries from launching nuclear attacks rather than making it easier to wage limited nuclear conflicts, said retired Navy Rear Adm. Vic G. Mercado, who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities from July 2019 to January 2021.
“To me, it is all about deterrence,” Mercado told Task & Purpose. “We need some capacity to be able to fill a deterrence gap. If we leave the gap, then we are at risk.”
The Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile is meant to fill that gap by providing the U.S. military with the types of weapons that Russia already has, he said.
“If deterrence has failed and they decide to use a low-yield weapon, then what’s our option: Accept it or go high,” Mercado said. “But you want to deter that in the future, and how can you deter that if you don’t have that option?”
Moreover, experts continue to debate whether the United States would launch a full-scale retaliation against any sort of nuclear attack, even those involving low-yield weapons, he said.
“If you were the decision-maker and the president and somebody pops an EMP [electromagnetic pulse] – a low-yield EMP, or something – then would you nuke an entire country?” Mercado said.
When discussing any gaps in the U.S. government’s deterrence posture, however, it is worth remembering the United States consistently overestimated the Soviet Union’s nuclear capabilities during the first decades of the Cold War. In the 1950s, the U.S. government feared the Soviets had more bombers than the Air Force, but the “bomber gap” turned out to be nonexistent. Beginning in 1958, future President John F. Kennedy argued that the Soviets had more nuclear missiles than the United States, but the “missile gap” also turned out to be a fantasy. The movie Dr. Strangelove famously parodied this type of thinking in a scene in which military advisers were discussing the need for underground fallout shelters ahead of a nuclear apocalypse and an Air Force general decried, “Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!
Then there’s the question of exactly how much deterrence value the Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile actually has.
“Critics have argued that the capabilities highlighted by advocates of SLCM-N deployment — regional presence, lower yield, and discriminate attack options — would lower the threshold for nuclear use and increase the likelihood of nuclear war,” according to an April report from the Congressional Research Service. “They argue that by adding those capabilities to its nuclear force posture, the United States would be adopting a war-fighting posture rather than pursuing a doctrine based on deterrence.”
The Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile may also prove to be redundant because the Air Force is developing the Long-Range Standoff Weapon, which could be capable of carrying warheads with yields ranging from five to 150 kilotons, said Hans M. Kristensen, of the Federation of American Scientists, a non-profit group that seeks to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world.
It is likely that the Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile would be equipped with warheads that would deliver similar yields that could be programmed to explode both in the air and on the ground, Kristensen told Task & Purpose.
As for the notion that nuclear war could be limited to low-yield weapons, Kristensen called the idea a “dangerous illusion.”
“There is no reason to believe that either side would back down after a few detonations but that all would escalate and seek to defeat the other side and win,” Kristensen said. “Limited scenarios are created by warfighters as tactical means of achieving certain war objectives but are over-sold by theorists and advocates who try to make nuclear weapons sound more acceptable.”
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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 · June 24, 2022


16.  The Ukraine War Is Bleeding Russia Dry

​Putin's War is bleeding Russia dry.

The Ukraine War Is Bleeding Russia Dry
19fortyfive.com · by ByRobert Kelly · June 24, 2022
As the Ukraine war grinds into its fifth month, it is increasingly unclear what Russia could possibly win which might justify the massive costs it is incurring for its invasion. Conquest is supposed to pay, otherwise war is irrational. Yet after just a few months, it is obvious that a cost-benefit analysis of the war is negative and trending worse for Russia. But Russian President Vladimir Putin is disinterested in peace talks. At this point, he appears to be fighting the war simply for prestige – to prove that Russia is still a great power. This is ironic, because the war itself is destroying Russia’s very claim to be a great power.
Devastated Conquests Don’t Pay
In eastern Ukraine, Russia is finally making progress. It is conquering territory. It appears close to fully capturing Luhansk and Donetsk, the Donbas territories Russia claims are independent countries. And Russia controls much of Ukraine’s coast. So Putin might soon be able to declare a kind of ‘victory.’
But this is success in only the most basic, blunt-force way. It is true that Russia now controls a bit more territory than it did before, and that territorial control is a zero-sum game because there is only so much land-space in the world. Russia now controls more than it did in February, which is a success of sorts. But this victory has otherwise been very limited.
Russia expected to defeat Ukraine quickly and, possibly, occupy much of the country. Instead, its territorial gains are narrow and vulnerable to counter-attack. And the conquered territory itself is devastated. Russia has pounded the ground it is taking with relentless air and artillery strikes. The physical infrastructure in these areas is being destroyed and the population killed or driven off.
Occupying these conquests will be expensive, because a major military or police presence will be needed to prevent revolts. (Ukraine was a hotbed of resistance to both the Nazis and Soviets.) Reconstruction, in order to extract any economic value from these spaces, will be another drain. Most of the world will not recognize these conquests as Russian territory. This means investment and trade will be minimal. Business will also be deterred by the ruined infrastructure. Nor will economically productive people move into such conflict-ridden regions. Only the old and frail will likely stay.
In short order, these conquered areas will require subsidization from the Russian government to survive. This has been a pattern in other Russian ‘frozen conflicts.’ They become an expense and a burden. This is not a sustainable model of expansion, nor is it conquest that pays.
On top of these costly conquests are the wider economic ramifications of the war. The invasion will isolate Russia from the Western economy for decades. Even if gas purchases are eventually restored, the West will slowly disentangle itself from Russia. Western companies will not return; sanctions will linger; access to Western banking will sharply contract, along with access to international financial institutions like the IMF; travel to the West for leisure and education will become much harder; critical imports and technologies will be cut off; dependence on China will skyrocket. These costs are scarcely felt now, but over the medium-term, they will noticeably reduce Russian growth and worsen its brain drain. If Putin stays in charge, Russia will slide into Soviet levels of isolation from the rest of the world.
Wars for Prestige are a Terrible Idea
By the material benchmarks sketched above, the war is a disaster for Russia. The value of its territorial acquisitions is low, probably negative, given the devastating nature of these spaces due to Russian shelling and the ensuing political-economic limbo they will fall into as unrecognized conquests. These realities would counsel Russia to stop the war, and there seems to be some dissent in the Kremlin around these points.
But Putin marches on, suggesting that the war is not about any particular valuable conquest anymore, but victory for its own sake. This is an awful reason to fight a war. Ignoring the material balance of costs in pursuit of a victory for prestige is a proven means of sliding into an unwinnable quagmire. This is quite close to the logic of the US in the later stages of the Vietnam War.
In that conflict, much of the US national security establishment recognized that the war could not be won at reasonable cost – without, for example, invading North Vietnam or nuking it. Henry Kissinger apparently felt this way as early as 1966. Yet President Lyndon Johnson did not want to be the first American president to lose a war, and his successor, President Richard Nixon, wanted an elusive ‘peace with honor.’ American credibility was at stake.
The reason to keep fighting became, in a circular logic, because the US was already at war. Winning became the point of winning, not any identifiable material or strategic goal. Both Johnson and Nixon became so vested in the conflict that they struggled to move on from it, generating enormous political tension at home, alienating allies abroad, and igniting economic problems which led to the troubles of the 1970s.
Putin is probably sliding into this dilemma. He started the war. Victory or defeat reflects on him. And Russia’s perception as a great power could be damaged by a stalemate in the war – even as the war itself undercuts Russia’s claim to be a great power by illustrating the myriad inadequacies of its military and costs piling up on the Russian economy.
Just as the US kept fighting in Vietnam for the specter of credibility, so, likely, Putin will keep fighting in Ukraine. The material costs of the war are increasingly irrelevant to him, which will only make them that much worse in the end.
Dr. Robert E. Kelly (@Robert_E_Kellywebsite) is a professor of international relations in the Department of Political Science at Pusan National University. Dr. Kelly is a 1945 Contributing Editor as well.
19fortyfive.com · by ByRobert Kelly · June 24, 2022




17. Beijing Is Still Playing the Long Game on Taiwan


Excerpts:
None of this is reason for American or Taiwanese complacency. China is following the dictum of the ancient strategist Sun-tzu: “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” If Beijing eventually succeeds in taking Taiwan, it will fatally undermine Washington’s credibility with its Asian—and even its European—allies, challenging Australia, Japan, South Korea, and other countries to either come to terms with China or prepare to defend themselves without American help.
The only way to defeat China’s Taiwan strategy of strategic patience is to exercise corresponding patience, continually adapting American and Taiwanese deterrence as Chinese arms and training present an ever-changing and ever-growing threat. This is a tall order for the United States at a time when its share of global GDP has declined to less than 25 percent (from 40 percent in 1960) and the U.S. Navy complains that it doesn’t have enough ships to perform all the missions it is charged with. It is an even taller order for an island that spends only 2.1 percent of its GDP on defense and that has only recently begun to move away from an unrealistic reliance on expensive advanced platforms to stave off a Chinese attack and toward a more realistic “porcupine strategy” involving mines, short-range missiles, civil defense, and guerilla resistance. But if a prolonged standoff in the Taiwan Strait is the most likely prospect for the future, the side that that stays in the game the longest is the one that is likely to come out on top.



Beijing Is Still Playing the Long Game on Taiwan
Why China Isn’t Poised to Invade
June 23, 2022
Foreign Affairs · by Andrew J. Nathan · June 23, 2022
Concern is growing in Taiwan, in the United States, and among U.S. allies in Asia that China is preparing to attack Taiwan in the near future. Testifying before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee last year, Admiral Philip Davidson, then the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, warned that Beijing might attempt to seize the island in the next six years. Unifying Taiwan with mainland China is a key element of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Chinese dream.” And as the political scientist Oriana Skylar Mastro has argued in these pages, Xi wants “unification with Taiwan to be part of his personal legacy,” suggesting that an armed invasion could come before the end of his third term as secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party in 2027 and almost certainly before the end of his probable fourth term in 2032.
Putin’s war in Ukraine has intensified these concerns. Xi’s announcement just before the Russian invasion of a “no limits” partnership with Moscow, coupled with his failure to condemn Putin’s actions and the Chinese media’s endorsement of Russian propaganda, seem to signal Beijing’s support for Russia’s territorial aggression. Beijing may see a strategic opening now that U.S. political and military resources are tied up in Europe. Moreover, Chinese leaders may have interpreted the West’s response to the Russian attack as an indication that the United States will not intervene militarily to defend a country to which it is not bound by a defense treaty, especially against a nuclear-armed adversary. As David Sacks of the Council on Foreign Relations has argued, “Chinese policymakers may conclude that Russia’s nuclear arsenal effectively deterred the United States, which would be unwilling to go to war with a nuclear power over Taiwan.”
But fears of an imminent Chinese attack are misplaced. For decades, China’s policy toward Taiwan has been characterized by strategic patience, as has its approach to other territorial claims and disputes—from India to the South China Sea. Far from spurring China to jettison this approach in favor of an imminent military assault on Taiwan, the war in Ukraine will reinforce Beijing’s commitment to playing the long game. The price Moscow has paid, both militarily and in the form of international isolation, is but a fraction of what China could expect if it were to attempt to take Taiwan by force. Better to wait patiently for Taiwan’s eventual surrender, as Beijing sees it, than to strike now and risk winning the island at too high a cost—or losing it forever.
IMPENDING ATTACK?
Fear that China will attack Taiwan had been growing well before Putin invaded Ukraine. As Robert Blackwill and Philip Zelikow observed in a 2021 report published by the Council on Foreign Relations, Taiwan is “becoming the most dangerous flash point in the world for a possible war that would involve the United States of America, China, and probably other major powers.” In addition to its historical and economic motives for controlling Taiwan, Beijing feels the need to prevent other powers from using the island as a base to pressure China militarily or subvert it politically. For its part, the United States has strong motives for insisting on what Washington has referred to since 1972 as the “peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue”—which, given the anti-unification sentiments of the Taiwanese people, means an open-ended and perhaps permanent state of de facto autonomy for the island. Although there is much emotion on both sides—for China, nationalism; for the United States, commitment to democracy—what makes the Taiwan issue truly nonnegotiable are the two countries’ security interests.
In 1979, when the United States broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan to normalize relations with China, Beijing had a reasonable chance of winning over Taiwan without using force. Taiwan was diplomatically isolated, militarily weak, and increasingly economically dependent on the mainland. China encouraged this dependence by establishing a host of incentives for Taiwanese enterprises to do business on the mainland, by purchasing Taiwanese exports, and by sending Chinese tourists to the island. Beijing also invested in Taiwanese media with the aim of generating favorable news coverage and held exchanges with leaders of the anti-independence Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party.

But these efforts proved insufficient to stem the tide against unification in Taiwanese public opinion and politics. According to opinion polls, the share of Taiwanese voters favoring unification fell from 28 percent in 1999 to less than two percent in 2022. An overwhelming majority favor “maintaining the status quo,” which in the language of Taiwanese politics means sustaining autonomy without formally declaring independence. Since 2016, the anti-unification Democratic Progressive Party has controlled both the presidency and the legislature, and it looks well positioned to win the next set of national elections in 2024.

Fears of an imminent Chinese attack are misplaced.
These trends have prompted China to adopt a more threatening posture toward Taiwan. Beijing has stepped up measures to isolate the island diplomatically, slowed imports and the tourist trade, trained the Chinese military to conduct the complicated joint operations necessary for a cross-strait invasion, and conducted frequent probes of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. China has also developed what the Pentagon calls “anti-access/area denial” capabilities—including long-range precision missiles, submarine-launched torpedoes, antiship ballistic missiles, cybertools, and space capabilities—designed to hold at bay a U.S. defense of Taiwan.
These moves have fed speculation that China is building up to a full-scale attack. In addition to Xi’s desire to secure his legacy, the shifting balance of power between China and the United States is often cited by U.S. analysts as a possible motivation for Xi. The scholars Michael Beckley and Hal Brands, for instance, have suggested that China may attack in the near term because it has reached the peak of its national strength—and China’s leaders know it. China is looking at a period of decline caused by a combination of unsustainable debt, rising labor costs, an aging population, declining productivity, and a critical water shortage. Meanwhile, the United States and Taiwan have recently started to readjust their military postures to counter the asymmetric threat China poses. The Biden administration is pulling Japan and South Korea together around a commitment to “stability in the Taiwan Strait,” and Western businesses are gradually moving their production sites out of China because of rising labor costs, lack of a level playing field in the Chinese market, and COVID-19 restrictions. As this reorientation gathers steam, the West’s economic incentives to avoid war with China will diminish. By this logic, Beijing has reason to strike before its adversaries are ready.
WAITING GAME
The facts on which such forecasts are based are not wrong, but they are incomplete. A fuller set of facts suggests that China is still pursuing a strategy of strategic patience when it comes to Taiwan. First, Chinese leaders—rightly or wrongly—seem confident that they can handle their own problems better than the West can handle its problems. They don’t deny the challenges that Beckley and Brands highlight, but they believe the West is in decline, hobbled by ill-managed and slow-growing economies, social divisions, and weak political leaders. However, Chinese strategists do not seem to believe that China has yet reached a favorable power balance with the West. As Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University, has argued, “China’s global reach still has its limits. Despite being a major power, China also thinks of itself as a developing country—and rightly so, considering that its GDP per capita remains far behind those of advanced economies.”
Beijing can afford to wait for power in the Western Pacific to tip decisively in its favor. When Washington comes to understand that the cost of defending Taiwan is beyond its means, and Taiwanese officials realize that Washington no longer has the appetite for a clash with China, Taiwan will pragmatically negotiate an arrangement that Beijing can accept. In the meantime, China needs only to deter Taipei and Washington from attempting to lock in formal Taiwanese independence. Beijing’s shows of force are not precursors of an imminent attack, therefore, but measures intended to buy time for history to take its course.
Second, contrary to the common portrayal of China as itching for war, Beijing has demonstrated strategic patience in pursuit of its other goals. A good example is Beijing’s behavior in the South China Sea, where China has built and militarized seven sand islands without triggering a war with the United States or rival territorial claimants. It did so by building only on landforms it already controlled, claiming all along that it wasn’t doing what it was doing. The rival territorial claimants were too weak to confront China, while the United States lacked a justification for doing so because it has no territorial claims where China was building. Beijing restricted access to but refrained from seizing a landform it contests with the sole U.S. treaty ally involved in these disputes—the Philippines—which in any case lacked an appetite to invoke its alliance with Washington by moving militarily to defend itself.


The conflict in Ukraine is reminding Xi that war is unpredictable and rule over a resisting population is costly.
China likewise changed the strategic status quo without triggering an armed conflict over the contested Senkaku Islands, known in China as the Diaoyu Islands, by escalating from an occasional maritime presence in Japanese waters to a permanent one, supplementing its naval forces with less confrontational coast guard, maritime militia, and fishing vessels. Beijing followed a similar playbook in the contested Ladakh region of India, where Chinese troops gradually advanced their positions and established a series of new lines of control with only one confirmed outbreak of shooting that was quickly contained.
China has invested in ostensibly civilian port projects across the Indian Ocean and beyond that could serve as foundations for future naval operations, raising some alarm but no counteraction. Beijing has also used its economic and diplomatic influence in Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Oceania and its norm-setting power in international institutions to incentivize governments to align with China’s interests, again generating some alarm but no effective resistance. Such diplomatic, economic, and military “gray zone tactics” illustrate that China’s strategic behavior is geared toward the long term rather than the short term, moving from no presence to sustained presence in a host of arenas without generating substantial pushback, much less armed conflict (with the exception of the fighting in Ladakh). That same strategic caution has so far been evident in China’s policy toward Taiwan, where Beijing has dialed up tension and deterred a Taiwanese drive for independence without precipitating a crisis.
Finally, the lesson Xi is likely drawing from Putin’s war in Ukraine is not that territorial aggression would go unpunished militarily by the West but that it would be both difficult and costly. There is no reason to believe that Xi is surrounded, as Putin seems to be, by yes men who will tell him that a war over Taiwan can be easily won. Even if he is, however, the grinding conflict in Ukraine is reminding him that war is unpredictable and rule over a resisting population is costly. The amphibious operation China would need to undertake to seize Taiwan would be far more difficult than the land invasion Russia has carried out in Ukraine. Xi has been reforming the Chinese military’s command structure and ramping up training for such an operation, but Chinese forces remain untested in actual combat operations. Meanwhile, the chances that the United States would intervene to defend Taiwan have increased as anti-China sentiment has risen in the United States and Europe—and after U.S. President Joe Biden remarked last month that defending Taiwan is “the commitment we made.”
Even if Beijing could win a war over Taiwan, it is unclear that it could win what would come next. As painful as Russia’s isolation from Western economies has been for Moscow, the postwar scenario for the Chinese economy would be even more damaging. China imports 70 percent of its oil and 31 percent of its natural gas; it is the world’s largest coal producer but still needs to import more. Although it is striving for food self-sufficiency, China is the world’s largest importer of food, especially corn, meat, seafood, and soybeans. Some of these energy and food imports come from Russia, but many come from countries that would sanction China if it invaded Taiwan. And even if they did not, China’s navy doesn’t have the global reach to defend the shipping routes across which these and many other vital commodities flow. Any war over Taiwan, even a successful one for Beijing, would deal a devastating blow to the Chinese economy, creating conditions that would threaten domestic political stability and usher in the failure, not the realization, of the Chinese dream.
FIGHTING PATIENCE WITH PATIENCE
None of this is reason for American or Taiwanese complacency. China is following the dictum of the ancient strategist Sun-tzu: “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” If Beijing eventually succeeds in taking Taiwan, it will fatally undermine Washington’s credibility with its Asian—and even its European—allies, challenging Australia, Japan, South Korea, and other countries to either come to terms with China or prepare to defend themselves without American help.
The only way to defeat China’s Taiwan strategy of strategic patience is to exercise corresponding patience, continually adapting American and Taiwanese deterrence as Chinese arms and training present an ever-changing and ever-growing threat. This is a tall order for the United States at a time when its share of global GDP has declined to less than 25 percent (from 40 percent in 1960) and the U.S. Navy complains that it doesn’t have enough ships to perform all the missions it is charged with. It is an even taller order for an island that spends only 2.1 percent of its GDP on defense and that has only recently begun to move away from an unrealistic reliance on expensive advanced platforms to stave off a Chinese attack and toward a more realistic “porcupine strategy” involving mines, short-range missiles, civil defense, and guerilla resistance. But if a prolonged standoff in the Taiwan Strait is the most likely prospect for the future, the side that that stays in the game the longest is the one that is likely to come out on top.

Foreign Affairs · by Andrew J. Nathan · June 23, 2022


18. Ukraine Says Russia Aiming To Drag Belarus Into War After Strikes




Ukraine Says Russia Aiming To Drag Belarus Into War After Strikes - The Moscow Times
The Moscow Times · by AFP · June 25, 2022
Ukraine on Saturday said Russia was aiming to drag its ally Belarus into the war, after reporting that missiles which struck a border region near Kyiv came from Belarusian territory.
Twenty rockets fired from Belarusian territory and the air targeted the village of Desna in the northern Chernigiv region at around 05:00 a.m. (02:00 GMT) on Saturday, Ukraine's northern military command wrote in a statement on Facebook.
Ukraine's intelligence service said six Russian bombers fired 12 cruise missiles from the town of Petrykaw in southern Belarus after taking off from a Russian airbase.
It added that Russian forces hit targets in the northern Kyiv and Sumy regions.
The Ukrainian intelligence service said on Telegram that the action was "directly linked to Kremlin efforts to pull Belarus as a co-belligerent into the war in Ukraine."
The "massive bombardment" struck infrastructure but had not caused any casualties, the Ukrainian army added.
Desna, a small village with a pre-war population of around 7,500 people, lies 70 kilometers (43 miles) to the north of Kyiv and a similar distance to the south of Ukraine's border with Belarus.
The strikes come as Russian President Vladimir Putin meets his Belarusian counterpart and close ally Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg on Saturday.
Moscow's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to visit Belarus on Thursday and Friday.
Belarus has provided logistical support to Russia's invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24, especially in the first weeks of the offensive, although it officially remains a non-belligerent at this stage.
The country, ruled by Lukashenko with an iron fist since 1994, has also been targeted by Western sanctions aimed at Russia over its assault on Ukraine.
Lukashenko, 67, has accused the West of being "at war with Russia" and elevating "Nazism to the rank of state ideology" over its military and financial support for Ukraine.
He has also demanded that Belarus be included in any talks and a deal to end the conflict.
Steadfast support
Belarus had previously been hit by Western sanctions after the authorities carried out a heavy-handed repression of widespread protests following a 2020 election that the opposition said Lukashenko had stolen.
Putin's steadfast support for Lukashenko helped the man dubbed "Europe's last dictator" to overcome the challenge to his leadership.
Opposition leaders who fled Belarus in the wake of the crackdown, including Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, have sought refuge in Western countries.
Sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who sought the protection of staff at last year's Tokyo Olympics after saying she feared being forcibly returned to Belarus, received refuge in neighboring Poland.
The forced diversion of a Lithuania-bound plane to Belarus to arrest opposition activist Roman Protasevich and his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega in 2021 further soured relations between Minsk and the West.
The Moscow Times · by AFP · June 25, 2022






De Oppresso Liber,
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Senior Fellow, Global Peace Foundation
Senior Advisor, Center for Asia Pacific Strategy
Editor, Small Wars Journal
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David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
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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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