Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners




Quotes of the Day:



“When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent.”
- Isaac Asimov, American Writer Biochemist

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture. In 1984, Huxley added, "people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us".
~Neil Postman

“The moral responsibility of the American humorist is the deriding of shams, the exposure of pretentious falsities, and the laughing of stupid superstitions out of existence. Thus, the humorist is the natural enemy of royalties, nobilities, privileges, and all kindred swindles, and is the natural friend of human rights and liberties.”
- Mark Twain




​1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 28 (Putin's War)

2. China's Xi warns Biden over Taiwan, calls for cooperation

3. The Changing Face of Insurgency

4. Sir Stephen Lovegrove speech at CSIS, Washington DC

5. Russia attacks Kyiv area for the first time in weeks

6. Biden and Xi Conduct Marathon Call During Time of Rising Tensions

7. Readout of President Biden’s Call with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China

8. The Paradoxes of Escalation in Ukraine

9. How to Survive the Next Taiwan Strait Crisis

10. Russia Created a Refugee Crisis, and Now Putin Is Weaponizing It

11. FDD | Algeria Leads Campaign to Rehabilitate Assad Regime

12. Puzzles deepen in the context of Shabaab’s attempted Ethiopian invasion

13. Climbing the escalation ladder in Ukraine: A menu of options for the West

14. A Credible Source on Putin's Trolls

15. New MOS and formations could come to Army spec ops in tech-savvy era

16. USS Ronald Reagan strike group enters South China Sea amid Taiwan tensions

17. U.S. defense contractor and wife who were photographed in KGB uniforms charged with stealing identities of dead children in Texas





1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 28 (Putin's War)


Maps/graphics: https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-28




RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 28

Jul 28, 2022 - Press ISW


understandingwar.org

Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, Layne Phillipson, Katherine Lawlor, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan

July 28, 7:30 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.

The Russian grouping in Donetsk Oblast is likely seeking to capitalize on recent marginal gains southeast of Bakhmut by continuing to attempt to advance in that area. Russian forces may be de-emphasizing attempts to take Siversk in order to concentrate on Bakhmut, but it is too soon to tell. Russian forces continued efforts to advance northward on Bakhmut from recently gained positions around Novoluhanske and the Vuhlehirska Power Plant while pursuing southwestward advances along the T1302 highway from recently captured positions in Berestove. By contrast, Russian forces have been struggling to make concrete gains around Siversk and have not made any confirmed advances toward the city since the capture of the Luhansk Oblast Administrative border in early July. Russian command is likely, therefore, seeking to maintain momentum around Bakhmut, potentially at the expense of continued pressure on Siversk. Russian forces remain unlikely to take Bakhmut itself, despite recent incremental advances in its direction.

Putin replaced Colonel-General Gennady Zhidko as deputy defense minister and head of the Main Military-Political Directorate on July 28.[1] Putin signed a decree appointing Colonel-General Viktor Goremykin to Zhidko’s position and has not publicly announced the appointment of Zhidko to a new position.[2] ISW previously reported that Zhidko would become the overall commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, a report that appears to have been incorrect.[3]

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces in Donetsk Oblast likely seek to capitalize on recent marginal territorial gains around Bakhmut and may deprioritize efforts to take Siversk.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground assaults northwest of Slovyansk and northeast and southwest of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces may be intensifying offensive operations around Avdiivka to reduce Ukrainian strikes in and around Donetsk City.
  • Russian forces may be setting conditions for renewed offensive operations toward Kharkiv City.
  • Russian forces attempted a limited ground offensive on the Southern Axis but are likely facing territorial losses in Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian forces are attempting to preserve their ground lines of communication over the Dnipro River connecting Kherson City to rear areas in eastern Kherson Oblast.
  • The Kremlin continued measures to compensate for officer and manpower losses in Ukraine.
  • The Kremlin is continuing to institutionalize its occupation administrations in occupied parts of Ukraine to prepare for sham referenda, annexation, and integration into Russia.
  • Russian occupation forces are continuing to pressure Ukrainian civilians in occupied areas to use Russian rubles and passports and to attend Russian-run schools, setting conditions for longer-term social control in occupied territories.


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 two 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
  • Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts
  • 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 conducted a series of limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk on July 28. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops conducted an unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force attempt near Brazhkivka, about 25 km northwest of Slovyansk in contested territory.[4] Russian troops also reportedly attempted to advance from the Dovhenke area to Mazanivka, about 20 km northwest of Slovyansk, and from Pasika to Dolyna, about 20 km northwest of Slovyansk.[5] On July 27, the Ukrainian General Staff indicated that a Russian reconnaissance group operated near Ukrainian positions in Pasika, seemingly suggesting a limited Ukrainian counterattack in the area.[6] However, reports of a Russian attempt to advance southwest of Pasika toward Dolyna confirm ISW’s control of terrain assessment that Pasika remains in Russian-controlled territory. Russian forces additionally continued shelling settlements northwest of Slovyansk along the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border and northeast of Slovyansk around Pryshyb and Tetyanivka.[7]

Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in the Siversk area and Ukrainian positions around Siversk City on July 28.[8]

Russian forces continued efforts to advance southwest toward Bakhmut along the T1302 highway and conducted ground attacks southeast of Bakhmut on July 28. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops conducted an unsuccessful reconnaissance attempt in the direction of Berestove to Nahirne, which is along the T1302 and about 20 km northeast of Bakhmut.[9] Russian forces continued to fight on the outskirts of Soledar (less than 10 km northeast of Bakhmut) and attempted to advance around Volodymyrivka and Stryapivka.[10] Russian forces additionally conducted limited ground assaults southeast of Bakhmut around Vershyna, Vidrodzhennya, Semihirya, Klynove, and Myronivskyi and are likely attempting to leverage ground gained around Novoluhanske and the Vuhlehirske Power Plant to support attempts to advance north. [11] Russian forces continued artillery strikes in the vicinity of Bakhmut.[12]

Russian forces may be intensifying offensive operations in the Avdiivka area to reduce Ukrainian strikes on the Donetsk City area. Deputy Head of the Ukrainian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate Oleksii Gromov stated that Russian forces are deploying elements of the 2nd Army Corps (forces of the Luhansk People’s Republic) and other unspecified formations to the Avdiivka area to form offensive groups, which suggests that Russian forces may be increasingly interested in committing combat power to assaults on Avdiivka.[13] The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian forces resumed assault operations in the direction of Avdiivka and Pisky, just southwest of Avdiivka.[14] Multiple Russian sources reported that Russian troops are increasing artillery pressure on Avdiivka in order to support more serious ground attacks against Ukrainian lines of defense surrounding the city.[15] Russian milbloggers are progressively emphasizing the increase in the pace of operations in the Avdiivka area and claiming that Ukrainian forces are using positions around Avdiivka to target Russian positions in Donetsk City.[16] This recent Russian push is likely premised on extending the Russian defensive pocket around Avdiivka and pushing Ukrainian forces out of fortified positions that have existed since 2014 in order to relieve pressure against Russian assets in Donetsk City. This push likely does not indicate that Russian forces are opening up a new offensive in the southwestern sector of Donetsk Oblast intended to drive far into the oblast.


Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum and prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border)

Russian forces did not make any territorial gains on the Kharkiv Axis on July 28 but may be setting conditions for renewed offensive operations in the Kharkiv City direction. The Derhachi City Council reported that Ukrainian and Russian forces continued fighting in Kozacha Lopan, Tsupivka, Dementiivka, and Velyki Prokhody, north of Kharkiv City.[17] Russian Telegram channel Rybar claimed that Russian forces conducted successful raids on Ukrainian positions near Borshchova, Sosnivka, and Petrivka, which could later enable Russian forces to advance on Kharkiv City from the Ruska Lozova salient to Borshchova, approximately 28 km northeast of Kharkiv City.[18] Russian forces launched an airstrike near Rusky Tyshki, approximately 25 km north of Kharkiv City, and continued launching tube and rocket artillery strikes at Kharkiv City and settlements to the north, northeast, and southeast.[19] Successful Russian offensive operations in Kharkiv are extremely unlikely, but the Russians will likely try to gain more ground in the oblast before the September referenda.


Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)

Russian forces attempted a limited ground assault on the Southern Axis on July 28 but are likely suffering territorial losses in Kherson Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian ground assault toward Brukivka-Bikohirka, Kherson Oblast, and that Russian forces in the Kryvoriz'kyi direction in northern Kherson Oblast are focusing on regaining lost positions.[20] Deputy Head of the Ukrainian General Staff’s Main Operative Command Brigadier General Oleksii Gromov reported that Russian forces are transferring reserves from the Kharkiv and Luhansk directions to the Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih directions.[21] The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted artillery duels around Novovoznesensk, Potemkyne, and Vysokopillya, south of Kryvyi Rih.[22] Russian forces shelled the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River near Lozove, Kherson Oblast, confirming that Ukrainian forces retain a bridgehead over the Inhulets River.[23] Russian forces continued shelling along the entire line of contact.[24]

Ukrainian forces continued striking Russian military infrastructure on the Southern Axis on July 28. Ukrainian Mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov reported that Ukrainian forces struck the Melitopol airfield after Russian forces began to repair the airfield from the July 23-24 strikes.[25] Fedorov stated that Russian forces use the airfield as a hub for weapons and equipment deliveries.[26] Ukrainian forces likely struck Russian military infrastructure in Chornobaivka on the northern outskirts of Kherson City. Footage of Chornobaivka shows a large smoke plume rising from the city, and Ukrainian Kherson Oblast Administrative Head Serhiy Khlan posted a picture of the smoke plume with a caption suggesting that Ukrainian forces conducted a successful strike.[27]

Russian forces are attempting to preserve their ground lines of communication over the Dnipro River connecting Kherson City to rear areas in eastern Kherson Oblast. Russian forces established a ferry crossing under the Antonivskyi Bridge to allow passenger traffic to cross the Dnipro after Ukrainian strikes on July 27 rendered the bridge unusable.[28] Russian occupation authorities repaired the Darivka Bridge east of Kherson City enough to reopen the bridge to passenger traffic; they tore down the previously reported pontoon bridge erected after Ukrainian strikes on the bridge on July 23.[29]


Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)

Russian military authorities continued to take measures to compensate for personnel losses in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on July 28 that Russian military leadership has begun to assign the officer rank of junior lieutenant to non-commissioned officers (NCOs) without requisite education or experience on a widespread basis.[30] The GUR additionally reported that the Russian military leadership is forming specialized medical commissions to identify servicemembers who are faking illnesses to get out of service requirements.[31]

Russian federal subjects continued to form regionally-based volunteer battalions. Russian media outlet Bez Formata reported on July 28 that the “Bootur” battalion from Russia’s eastern Sakha Republic (also known as “Yakutia”) has been formed with 105 volunteers for deployment into Ukraine.[32] The GUR notably reported that servicemembers from eastern regions such as Yakutia are reluctant to participate in the war in Ukraine partially due to the fact that these volunteer units are not formed on a professional basis.[33] ISW has updated the map of volunteer battalions to reflect developments in the Sakha Republic.

The Kremlin is continuing to leverage private military companies (PMCs) to support operations in Ukraine. Commander of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) General Stephen Townsend stated on July 27 that the Wagner Group PMC has transferred an unspecified number of forces from Libya to fight in Ukraine.[34] The Kremlin is increasingly relying on the Wagner Group as its premier strike group and Wagner Group leadership likely seeks to maintain its presence in Ukraine (and by extension, its positive perception with Russian military leadership) through importing fighters from other areas of operation.[35]


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)

The Kremlin is continuing to institutionalize its occupation administrations in occupied parts of Ukraine to prepare for sham referenda, annexation, and integration into Russia. Russian Senator Andrei Klishas said on July 28 that he “fully admits” that the primary objective of the autumn session of the Russian Duma will be “the integration of new territories into the legal space of the Russian Federation.”[36] The autumn session is scheduled to begin on September 12, one day after the most likely date for sham annexation plebiscites to be held in occupied territories. In the meantime, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) announced on July 28 that it has created “temporary departments” and deployed MVD employees to occupied Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts to support occupation authorities in “ensuring order on the streets,” assisting in the formation of local police departments, conducting operational-search activities, fighting extremism, and assisting in the “permanent issuance” of Russian passports.[37] The Kremlin has likely been unable to recruit many Ukrainians to enforce occupation laws and combat resistance efforts in occupied territories.

Russian occupation forces are continuing to pressure Ukrainian civilians in occupied areas to use Russian rubles and passports instead of Ukrainian hryvnias and identification documents. Acting Ukrainian Head of Kherson Oblast Dmytro Butrii said on July 28 that Russian occupation forces have banned the use of the hryvnia in Kherson and that occupation police are patrolling local markets to threaten and punish those using hryvnias.[38] Butrii also reported that occupation officials have begun to remove ATMs from local markets, suggesting that the Kremlin may be attempting to not only eliminate the use of the hryvnia, but also limit cash access to civilians who cooperate with the occupation administration. The Kremlin could also attempt to drive occupied areas toward a cashless (and therefore more trackable) economy. Russian milblogger Boris Rozhin claimed that 10% of Zaporizhia Oblast residents had received or were in the process of receiving Russian passports as of July 28.[39] He also claimed that passportization is underway in occupied parts of Kharkiv Oblast and claimed that the slow formation of Kharkiv occupation administration accounts for the low percentage of Kharkiv residents in the passport process so far.

Russian occupation authorities are also advancing their efforts to influence schools and curricula in occupied territories in the face of some Ukrainian resistance. Ukrainian Mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov claimed that all Zaporizhia Oblast school leaders have refused to cooperate with occupation authorities as of July 28.[40] Fedorov said that occupation officials have decided to consolidate four unspecified universities in occupied areas down to one and that 2,000 students would return at an unspecified date, compared to peacetime university attendance of 14,000 students in the oblast. Russian Zaporizhia Occupation Administration Head Yevheny Balitsky claimed on July 28 that his agenda for a meeting with senior occupation officials included not only discussions of price controls, social payments, and the annexation referendum, but also preparation for the new academic year, demonstrating the degree to which occupation officials are prioritizing control over Ukrainian education in occupied territories.[41]

Ukrainian advisor to the mayor of Mariupol Petro Andryushchenko reported that Ukrainian teachers from Donetsk and Mariupol completed a pre-certification course for “knowledge and teaching of Russian propaganda” to children in occupied territories. Occupation officials likely brought in Russian specialists to reform Ukrainian curriculums and may be forcing Ukrainian teachers who hope to keep their jobs to re-certify their educational credentials to match Russian standards and curricula. Evacuees from near Mariupol told NPR on July 9 that Russian forces threatened to take children from their parents if they did not attend schools with Russian teachers, suggesting that children in occupied areas will be largely forced to attend Russian-controlled educational institutions.[42] That Russian effort is one component of the Kremlin campaign to set conditions for longer-term Russian social control throughout occupied parts of Ukraine.

[1] https://t.me/mod_russia/18010; http://publication.pravo dot gov.ru/Document/View/0001202207280001

[2] https://t.me/mod_russia/18010; http://publication.pravo dot gov.ru/Document/View/0001202207280001

[24]

[30] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/okupanty-popovniuiut-defitsyt-ofitseriv-za-rakhunok-serzhantskoho-skladu-ta-namahaiutsia-vyiavliaty-symuliantiv-za-dopomohoiu-spetsializovanykh-medkomisii.html

[31] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/okupanty-popovniuiut-defitsyt-ofitseriv-za-rakhunok-serzhantskoho-skladu-ta-namahaiutsia-vyiavliaty-symuliantiv-za-dopomohoiu-spetsializovanykh-medkomisii.html

[32] https://yakutsk.bezformata dot com/listnews/otryad-bootur-iz-yakutii-otpravilsya/107871469/; https://yakutsk.bezformata dot com/listnews/otryad-bootur-iz-yakutii-otpravilsya/107871469/

[33] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/okupanty-popovniuiut-defitsyt-ofitseriv-za-rakhunok-serzhantskoho-skladu-ta-namahaiutsia-vyiavliaty-symuliantiv-za-dopomohoiu-spetsializovanykh-medkomisii.html

[35] https://meduza dot io/en/feature/2022/07/14/a-mercenaries-war

understandingwar.org



2. China's Xi warns Biden over Taiwan, calls for cooperation


Cooperation, sure. Let's cooperate. But Iif China is serious about cooperating then it needs to end its strategy: China seeks to export its authoritarian political system around the world in order to dominate regions, co-opt or coerce international organizations, create economic conditions favorable to China alone, and displace democratic institutions.


And a friend and colleague shared this useful insight long ago:  "Chinese unification by force is untenable., Chinese peaceful unification is impossible. So the only option is unification by coercion."



China's Xi warns Biden over Taiwan, calls for cooperation

AP · by JOE McDONALD · July 29, 2022

BEIJING (AP) — President Xi Jinping warned against meddling in China’s dealings with Taiwan during a phone call with his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, that gave no indication of progress on trade, technology or other irritants, including Beijing’s opposition to a top American lawmaker’s possible visit to the island that the mainland claims as its own territory.

Xi also warned against splitting the world’s two biggest economies, according to a Chinese government summary of Thursday’s unusually lengthy, three-hour call. Businesspeople and economists warn such a change, brought on by Chinese industrial policy and U.S. curbs on technology exports, might hurt the global economy by slowing innovation and increasing costs.

Meanwhile, Xi and Biden are looking at the possibility of meeting in person, according to a U.S. official who declined to be identified further. Xi has been invited to Indonesia in November for a meeting of the Group of 20 major economies, making it a potential location for a face-to-face meeting.

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The Chinese government gave no indication Xi and Biden discussed possible plans by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan, which the ruling Communist Party says has no right to conduct foreign relations. But Xi rejected “interference by external forces” that might encourage Taiwan to try to make its decades-old de facto independence permanent.

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The tough language from Xi, who usually tries to appear to be above political disputes and makes blandly positive public comments, suggested Chinese leaders might believe Washington didn’t understand the seriousness of previous warnings about Taiwan.

“Resolutely safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Friday. “Those who play with fire will perish by it.”

Taiwan and China split in 1949 following a civil war that ended with a communist victory on the mainland. They have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars of trade and investment. Both sides say they are one country but disagree over which government is entitled to national leadership.



A Ministry of Defense spokesperson said ahead of Thursday’s call that Washington “must not arrange for Pelosi to visit Taiwan.” He said the ruling party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, would take “strong measures to thwart any external interference.”

Xi called on the United States to “honor the one-China principle,” according to Zhao, referring to Beijing’s position that the mainland and Taiwan are one country. The United States, by contrast, has a “one-China policy” that says Washington takes no position on the question but wants to see it resolved peacefully.

“China’s opposition to to interactions between the United States and Taiwan is clear and consistent,” Zhao said.

A foreign ministry summary of the conversation cited Biden as saying the United States doesn’t support independence for Taiwan.

Coverage of the conversation in China’s entirely state-controlled media on Friday was limited to repeating government statements.

Pelosi has yet to confirm whether she will go to Taiwan, but if she does, the Democrat from California would be the highest-ranking elected American official to visit since then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

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Beijing criticized Gingrich for saying the United States would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack but did little else in response to his three-hour visit to the island.

Since then, China’s position on Taiwan has hardened as the mainland economy grew to become second-largest after the United States. The ruling party poured hundreds of billions of dollars into developing fighter jets and other high-tech weapons including “carrier killer” missiles that are thought to be intended to block the U.S. Navy from helping to defend the island.

The conflict over a possible Pelosi visit is more sensitive to Beijing in a year when Xi, who took power in 2012, is expected to try to break with tradition and award himself a third five-year term as party leader.

Xi, who wants to be seen as restoring China’s rightful historic role as a global leader, has promoted a more assertive policy abroad. The People’s Liberation Army has sent growing numbers of fighter planes and bombers to fly near Taiwan in an attempt to intimidate its democratically elected government.

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The United States has no official relations with Taiwan but has extensive commercial ties and informal political connections. Washington is obliged by federal law to see that Taiwan has the means to defend itself.

Xi called for cooperation on reducing the risk of economic recession, coordinating macroeconomic policies, fighting COVID-19 and “de-escalation of regional hot spots,” according to the government statement.

He also warned against decoupling, or separating, the U.S. and Chinese economies for strategic reasons.

Businesspeople and industry analysts have warned global industries might be split into separate markets with incompatible products due to China’s pressure on its companies to develop their own technology standards and U.S. restrictions on Chinese access to technology that Washington see as a security risk. That might slow innovation and increase costs.

“Attempts at decoupling or severing supply chains in defiance of underlying laws would not help boost the U.S. economy,” the statement said. “They would only make the world economy more vulnerable.”

AP · by JOE McDONALD · July 29, 2022


3. The Changing Face of Insurgency


This review has made me move up David Ucko's book on my "to read list."​


Excerpts:


Like their infiltrative cousins, ideational insurgents also put the state in a difficult position as it tries to stamp out the ideologies that undermine it. Ucko suggests states will have to deny ideological insurgents access to the online population. But removing insurgents and their messages from specific online platforms is a challenge in democracies with strong free-speech traditions, he admits.
Because this strategy is so new, the few instances limit The Insurgent’s Dilemma’s ability to define it fully. Unlike the comprehensive treatment of the previous two insurgent strategies, readers will likely find the two chapters on ideational insurgency unsatisfying. So would Ucko, I imagine. The book wrings as much as it can out of its two examples of ideational insurgency and uses political theory to describe the rest of the strategy’s contours. Still, Ucko deserves credit for taking a risk. By warning the irregular warfare community now, instead of waiting twenty or thirty more years to have a definitive answer, there is time to respond.
​...
Nevertheless, The Insurgent’s Dilemma is a valuable book for irregular warfare practitioners and policymakers. Ucko’s provocative framework for recognizing emergent forms of insurgencies makes a compelling argument for why other instruments of power will need to crowd out the military when developing counterinsurgency strategies. His call for a whole-of-government approach is a cri de coeur that he has made before while assessing the concept of counterinsurgency, defending the utility of counterinsurgency, and critiquing the United States’ approach to counterinsurgency—and it is time for practitioners and policymakers to listen.
After finishing the book, I tried to imagine a state response to the strategies Ucko lays out. I no longer heard the screaming of helicopter engines flying to a target for a direct-action raid, and I no longer saw large train-and-equip missions for partner-nation militaries. Instead, when I thought about how well suited the United States and its partners are to respond to these emergent forms of insurgency, there was only silence and darkness. David Ucko rests his case.​





The Changing Face of Insurgency - Modern War Institute

mwi.usma.edu · by Tobias Bernard Switzer · July 28, 2022

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David Ucko, The Insurgent’s Dilemma: A Struggle to Prevail (Hurst, 2022)

When imagining counterinsurgency, I think about flying a helicopter full of US Navy SEALs and their Iraqi commando counterparts in the middle of the night to raid a target near Ramadi. The memory of conducting tactical air reconnaissance over an objective near Kabul with a mix of US and Afghan crewmembers also comes to mind. Others who have served in uniform likely have similar memories of their experiences with counterinsurgency.

But David Ucko wants me to stop. Ucko, a professor at the College of International Security Affairs, the Department of Defense’s irregular warfare college, claims insurgency is changing. And in response, the United States’ militaristic approach to counterinsurgency must change, too, Ucko warns in his latest book, The Insurgent’s Dilemma: A Struggle to Prevail. Analyzing the major trends affecting insurgencies and how they might adapt in the future, Ucko urges policymakers “to move the discussion beyond the military institutions which have dominated the conversation” and on to a whole-of-government approach.

A tiny body of scholarly works—such as Seth Jones’s excellent book Waging Insurgent Warfare—study irregular warfare from the insurgent’s perspective. These works, which correlate different characteristics of insurgencies with outcomes, are useful but rearward looking. The Insurgent’s Dilemma also looks at the generalized form of insurgencies but offers something different. As a speculative work about how insurgents are adapting in response to current trends, The Insurgent’s Dilemma, if true, provides irregular warfare practitioners and policymakers the rare opportunity to catch a fundamental change in the security environment early and formulate thoughtful policy responses.

The Waning Appeal of Military Confrontation

According to Ucko, direct military confrontation with a state is becoming less attractive to would-be insurgents due to three significant changes in the post–Cold War international security environment.

First, urbanization is accelerating, making it easier for states to control their populations, including insurgents. After 9/11, states strengthened their internal security tools while citizens granted their governments broader legal authorities to combat terrorism at home and abroad. Second, much of the international community looked the other way during the post–World War II anticolonial movements, but today, states are far less tolerant of regional instability created by violent insurgencies. Finally, and most importantly, while regional powers continue to meddle in their neighbors’ affairs by sponsoring insurgents, superpowers are less likely to offer military support.

Together, Ucko explains, these trends make an insurgent group’s odds of success far less favorable in a direct military confrontation than in the Cold War era. The insurgent’s dilemma is the decision to either threaten the state militarily, thereby risking the decimation of the group, or to keep its activities at a low but ineffective level. Although insurgents are increasingly cut off from traditional strategies of direct military confrontation, among maligned populations worldwide there is no shortage of grievances with their states. Thus, the time is ripe for innovation.

While Ucko does a masterful job exploring the first two trends, the argument for the third is thin. He posits that declining rates of state-sponsored insurgencies in the first two decades of the twenty-first century indicate a structural change in the international security environment. However, The Insurgent’s Dilemma ignores the intensified security contest between the United States, Russia, and China. As these superpowers attempt to avoid clashing directly while managing nuclear escalation, supporting insurgencies may become even more attractive in the future, not less. Regardless, not every insurgent group will have a powerful state underwriting it, and the opportunity is still ripe for insurgents to adapt along the lines Ucko describes.

Three Successful Variants

In studying examples of post–Cold War insurgencies, some successful and others not, Ucko identifies three strategies with the potential to resolve the insurgent’s dilemma: localized, infiltrative, and ideational insurgencies. Violence plays an essential role in all three strategies. However, the modern insurgent’s path to victory no longer solely depends upon violently wresting power from the state, Ucko finds.

Localized Insurgency

The first strategy is a localized insurgency in which insurgents carve out a geographic section of the country to control instead of trying to govern the entire state. In many cases, rural, inaccessible regions and marginalized urban sectors are ripe for insurgent takeover, and these areas of neglect create conditions for accommodation between the insurgents and the government. Familiar versions of this type of insurgency that Ucko cites include the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia in Colombia, which, at times, governed vast sections of the country’s Amazonian jungle with impunity, and the Jaysh al-Mahdi militia in Baghdad, which controlled large areas of the city.

This type of insurgency is particularly pernicious, according to Ucko, because it often appears to provide a long-term equilibrium or even a symbiotic relationship between localized insurgent groups and the state. As a parastate, insurgents govern parts of the country abandoned by the national government, which focuses on the concerns of the elite. While this may sound like a win-win scenario, this tacit cooperation is inherently unstable, Ucko argues. The insurgents are always free to renegotiate—violently—to further weaken the fragile state’s institutions and to attract criminal and extremist outsiders.

The international community often mislabels a country that governs itself without national sovereignty over its territory as a failed or failing state. This misdiagnosis is the result of a blind spot in our thinking about political science, Ucko argues, which holds up strong, centralized, and comprehensive governments—think Canada or Japan—as the norm instead of as historical exceptions. The concept of the idealized state distorts our counterinsurgency strategies and leads policymakers to prioritize a military response. Instead, Ucko asserts, pragmatic thinking about how to lash the periphery and the center closer together will yield more useful efforts. By building on existing informal institutions—economic, governance, and judicial, for example—increased security and stability are more likely to follow. This process may lead to a stable mix of centralized and decentralized decision-making power: what Ucko calls a mediated state.

Infiltrative Insurgency

Countries with open political systems are vulnerable to a second strategy, the infiltrative insurgency. Instead of overthrowing the state in a violent contest, this type of insurgent subverts the government by accessing legal avenues to power and then turning political institutions against the state, Ucko finds. His examples, the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland and the Movimiento al Socialismo party in Bolivia, show that democratic states with deep social schisms are the most susceptible to the infiltrative insurgent. While the infiltrative insurgent enters politics openly as a political party, it trades in ambiguity to hide its true intention.

The infiltrator has two unseen characteristics that make it dangerous and set it apart from legal competitors. First, while the insurgent group publicly foreswears violence to hide its spots, it uses violence selectively to exacerbate social tensions and intimidate political actors, Ucko writes. Infiltrative insurgents separate their military and political wings, allowing them to use sleight of hand to mask their violent actions and even, duplicitously, condemn those acts. Second, unlike traditional political parties committed to the democratic process, the infiltrative insurgent uses democracy instrumentally. Once elected to power, according to Ucko, insurgents subvert the state’s power to neuter counterbalancing institutions and lock in their power indefinitely.

Dealing with an infiltrative insurgent is an excruciating challenge and requires a delicate hand, Ucko finds. The state must first unmask the insurgent’s true intentions. Then, it must find a way to circumscribe democracy to save it. The state can try to eliminate the insurgent’s political party, make it morally repugnant by refusing to deal with it, or make it illegal. Unfortunately, Ucko warns, these are the same tactics repressive regimes use to stifle dissent and maintain power, so states will find it difficult to suppress democratic expression while maintaining legitimacy in the eyes of the populace.

Ideational Insurgency

While the localized and infiltrative insurgencies are well-defined strategies, the third type of insurgency Ucko identifies, the ideational insurgency, has less historical precedent. The ubiquity of internet access and the mass migration of social life to online spaces have created structureless, networked insurgencies. Ucko finds explicit expressions of this new form of nonhierarchical insurgency within white supremacist movements in the United States and the Sunni jihadist Islamic State. Insurgents employing this strategy seize on existing tensions to reshape ideas and perceptions over who and what is to blame. By swaying the population to its interpretations of events and sowing doubt about the state and traditional sources of authority, the ideational insurgent erodes norms, changes culture, and influences policy.

Insurgents embrace the ideational approach in online spaces in direct response to their security dilemma. By becoming ephemeral and leaderless, ideational insurgents deny the state the ability to target individuals leaving only the ideology for it to confront. By sharing information, stories, memes, and other content online that serve the ideology’s narrative but fall short of advocating for or directing violence, the insurgents keep the state at bay. Ideational insurgents employ violence by inspiring random followers to commit acts of terrorism and harassment without explicit direction.

Like their infiltrative cousins, ideational insurgents also put the state in a difficult position as it tries to stamp out the ideologies that undermine it. Ucko suggests states will have to deny ideological insurgents access to the online population. But removing insurgents and their messages from specific online platforms is a challenge in democracies with strong free-speech traditions, he admits.

Because this strategy is so new, the few instances limit The Insurgent’s Dilemma’s ability to define it fully. Unlike the comprehensive treatment of the previous two insurgent strategies, readers will likely find the two chapters on ideational insurgency unsatisfying. So would Ucko, I imagine. The book wrings as much as it can out of its two examples of ideational insurgency and uses political theory to describe the rest of the strategy’s contours. Still, Ucko deserves credit for taking a risk. By warning the irregular warfare community now, instead of waiting twenty or thirty more years to have a definitive answer, there is time to respond.

Relevant to Practitioners and Policymakers

The Insurgent’s Dilemma suffers from two faults: one of omission and one of style. As mentioned previously, the book breezes over the intensified security competition between the world’s three superpowers—a development likely to increase the chances, in my mind, of state sponsorship of insurgencies. The second fault is Ucko’s use of overly complex language. His choices of “polycephalous” instead of multiheaded, “etiology” instead of causes, and “fissiparous” instead of unstable—to take just a few examples—indicate a disconnect with the pragmatic nature of his intended readership.

Nevertheless, The Insurgent’s Dilemma is a valuable book for irregular warfare practitioners and policymakers. Ucko’s provocative framework for recognizing emergent forms of insurgencies makes a compelling argument for why other instruments of power will need to crowd out the military when developing counterinsurgency strategies. His call for a whole-of-government approach is a cri de coeur that he has made before while assessing the concept of counterinsurgency, defending the utility of counterinsurgency, and critiquing the United States’ approach to counterinsurgency—and it is time for practitioners and policymakers to listen.

After finishing the book, I tried to imagine a state response to the strategies Ucko lays out. I no longer heard the screaming of helicopter engines flying to a target for a direct-action raid, and I no longer saw large train-and-equip missions for partner-nation militaries. Instead, when I thought about how well suited the United States and its partners are to respond to these emergent forms of insurgency, there was only silence and darkness. David Ucko rests his case.

Tobias Bernard Switzer is an active duty Air Force foreign area officer, a nonresident fellow with the Irregular Warfare Initiative, and an adjunct senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security. Formerly a special operations helicopter pilot, combat aviation advisor, and Olmsted Scholar, he has deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Central America in various counterinsurgency roles.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, Department of the Air Force, or Department of Defense.

Image credit: Sgt. Desmond Martin, US Marine Corps

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mwi.usma.edu · by Tobias Bernard Switzer · July 28, 2022








4. Sir Stephen Lovegrove speech at CSIS, Washington DC


Excerpts:


From a UK perspective, integrated deterrence means bringing together all of the levers of state power – political, diplomatic, economic and military – to deliver effect.
It means tailoring our responses, be they military, diplomatic or economic, to the specific context – taking into account our understanding of our adversaries’ motivations.
Integrated deterrence also means working in a more joined up manner across government and society more broadly.
It means working more closely with our allies and our partners - through NATO, but also through new groupings such as AUKUS, and strengthening our relationships with partners in the Euro-Atlantic, Indo-Pacific and around the world.
And we must give due, arguably overdue, regard to improving and strengthening deterrence by denial. In an age of revanchist aggressive powers, committed to the concept of spheres of influence, we must ensure that the vulnerable have the ability to defend themselves, thereby deterring aggression in the first place.
A central challenge though is to avoid this leading to inevitable proliferation.





Sir Stephen Lovegrove speech at CSIS, Washington DC

gov.uk

Introduction

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, thank you to Dr John Hamre and Seth Jones, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies for hosting us today.

And thank you to all joining us here at CSIS or virtually.

I must begin by talking about the war in Ukraine.

We recently passed the grim milestone of 150 days since Putin launched this unprovoked, illegal war, bringing untold suffering to the innocent people of Ukraine.

I’m afraid the conflict fits a pattern of Russia acting deliberately and recklessly to undermine the global security architecture. That’s a pattern that includes the illegal annexation of Crimea, the use of chemical and radiological weapons on UK soil, and the repeated violations that caused the collapse of the INF Treaty.

And we will continue to hold Russia to account for its destabilising actions as an international community.

A new security order

What is happening in Ukraine is also a manifestation of a much broader contest unfolding over the successor to the post-Cold War international order.

This contest has profound implications.

It will decide whether we live in a world in which regionally-aggressive powers such as China and Russia can pursue ‘might is right’ agendas unchecked – or a world in which all states can ensure their sovereignty, competition does not spill over into conflict, and we cooperate to protect the planet.

As this contest unfolds, we are entering a dangerous new age of proliferation, in which technological change is increasing the damage potential of many weapons, and those weapons systems are more widely available.

We need to start thinking about the new security order.

Both elements that have guaranteed strategic stability in the past – effective deterrence in all of its forms, combined with a renewal of a functional arms control framework – need urgent attention.

Policy makers have been urged recently to learn to navigate the absence of order. That is in part good advice. But it is important to build some handrails to guide our thinking as we prepare to negotiate the complex landscape ahead.

In the 1950s and 60s, policy makers faced similarly uncertain terrain.

The advent of nuclear weapons had created a tension between ‘strength’ and ‘stability’.

‘Strength ’– having the speed, initiative, and surprise to ensure security – and ‘stability’ – there being nothing for either side to gain from striking first.

Out of this period, academics and policy makers developed the concept of strategic stability, building on the work of Thomas Schelling, Herman Kahn and Samuel Huntington.

In simple terms, strategic stability meant establishing a balance that minimised the risk of nuclear conflict. It recognised that an atmosphere of ‘competitive armament’ generated the need for continuous dialogue.

It was delivered through two core components – deterrence and arms control.

In Madrid last month, NATO reaffirmed strategic stability as essential to our collective security.

But we should be honest – strategic stability is at risk.

During the Cold War, we thought in terms of escalation ladders thanks to Herman Kahn: largely predictable, linear processes that could be monitored and responded to.

Now, we face a much broader range of strategic risks and pathways to escalation, driven by developments of science and technology including rapid technological advancement, the shift to hybrid warfare, and expanding competition in new domains such as space and cyber.

These are all exacerbated by Russia’s repeated violations of its treaty commitments, and the pace and scale with which China is expanding its nuclear and conventional arsenals and the disdain it has shown for engaging with any arms control agreements.

Indeed, Rebecca Hersman and Heather Williams – former and current directors of the CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues – have argued that we are now more likely to see escalation wormholes – sudden, unpredictable failures in the fabric of deterrence causing rapid escalation to strategic conflict.

Moreover, the Cold War’s two monolithic blocks of the USSR and NATO – though not without alarming bumps – were able to reach a shared understanding of doctrine that is today absent.

Doctrine is opaque in Moscow and Beijing, let alone Pyongyang or Tehran.

So the question is how we reset strategic stability for the new era – finding a balance amongst unprecedented complexity so there can be no collapse into uncontrolled conflict.

The new NATO Strategic Concept sets the direction on which we must now build.

This will be difficult. But we have a moral and a pragmatic duty to try.

A more expansive and integrated approach

The circle can only be squared if we renew both deterrence and arms control, taking a more expansive and integrated approach to both.

In March last year, the UK published the Integrated Review, our broadest and deepest review of national security and international policy since the end of the Cold War.

The Integrated Review’s emphasis on integration was a deliberate response to the blurring of the boundaries between war and peace, prosperity and security, trade and development, and domestic and foreign policy.

In both the US and UK, we have already started moving to deeper integration in our approach to deterrence.

From a UK perspective, integrated deterrence means bringing together all of the levers of state power – political, diplomatic, economic and military – to deliver effect.

It means tailoring our responses, be they military, diplomatic or economic, to the specific context – taking into account our understanding of our adversaries’ motivations.

Integrated deterrence also means working in a more joined up manner across government and society more broadly.

It means working more closely with our allies and our partners - through NATO, but also through new groupings such as AUKUS, and strengthening our relationships with partners in the Euro-Atlantic, Indo-Pacific and around the world.

And we must give due, arguably overdue, regard to improving and strengthening deterrence by denial. In an age of revanchist aggressive powers, committed to the concept of spheres of influence, we must ensure that the vulnerable have the ability to defend themselves, thereby deterring aggression in the first place.

A central challenge though is to avoid this leading to inevitable proliferation.

So the next step should be to develop our thinking on integrated arms control, advancing a dynamic new agenda that is multi-domain, multi-capability and draws together a much wider set of actors.

Historically, arms control has consisted of a set of regimes imposing limits on specific capabilities, alongside strategic stability dialogues focused on risk reduction.

Much of the existing architecture remains vital - such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

That last, the NPT, has been the cornerstone of nuclear security and civil nuclear prosperity for the last 52 years, and the UK remains committed to its implementation in full.

We will work with all States Parties at the forthcoming Review Conference to strengthen the treaty as the irreplaceable foundation and framework for our common efforts.

The reality, however, is that current structures alone will not deliver what we need a modern arms control system to achieve.

Many other long-standing agreements have fallen apart as a result of Russian violations, despite them offering the conflict management, confidence building and transparency that Moscow claims to seek, and that logic would dictate it should desire.

These include the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe; the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and Open Skies, all of which were designed to provide stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.

Other proposals – such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – simply do not address the obstacles that must be overcome to achieve lasting global disarmament.

And many of the frameworks that are still in place were designed for a world that no longer exists:

  • They offer patchy coverage and don’t cover all capabilities, including some dangerous new and emerging technologies;
  • They often rely upon a clear distinction between civilian and military-use cases;
  • They were largely designed for a bipolar context;
  • They do not fully take into account for the pace of technological development and information-sharing, which can challenge the efficacy of control lists; and.
  • And they rely on an information environment that is increasingly susceptible to corruption and disinformation.

Integrating arms control across categories of proliferation

Further integrated arms control will need to extend across several interlinked and overlapping categories of proliferation.

First, we need to look at the increasingly large set of weapons where the barriers to entry and ownership are low and getting lower such as cyber weapons, low-tech drones, small arms and light weapons, and chemical and biological capabilities.

These weapons alone may not change the strategic balance – though the jury is still out on cyber – but they will interact in unpredictable ways with broader strategic competition.

Second, we need to look at new weapons systems or technologies that only the most powerful states could develop and that threaten to upset the strategic balance. Again, cyber is a key capability in this category, alongside space-based systems, ‘genetic weapons’, nuclear-powered cruise missiles, directed energy weapons and hypersonic glide vehicles.

We must also remain vigilant as technological development means that some of this second category could – over time – shift into the first.

For example, the International Institute for Strategic Studies has assessed that in 2001 only three states possessed dedicated land-attack cruise missiles.

Today, at least 23 countries and one non-state actor have access to these weapons. And that last point is important. Many non-state actors could, absent proper control, develop further capabilities.

A third category, we must be eternally vigilant for traditional nuclear weapons being developed by rogue states, dangerous in its own right of course but also potentially sparking a rush amongst regional neighbours to do the same.

As the P5 leaders agreed in January this year, and to use Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev’s resonant phrase, a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

And a fourth category, we must acknowledge that existing nuclear states are investing in novel nuclear technologies and developing new ‘warfighting’ nuclear systems, which they are integrating into their military strategies and doctrines and into their political rhetoric to seek to coerce others.

For example, we have clear concerns about China’s nuclear modernisation programme that will increase both the number and types of nuclear weapon systems in its arsenal.

Combined, this is a daunting prospect.

Binding legal frameworks should remain our long-term goal.

But there is no immediate prospect of all of the major powers coming together to establish new agreements.

So, as we agreed in the NATO Strategic Concept, our immediate focus should be getting on with the work of strategic risk reduction.

Principles for integrated arms control

Today I propose four principles to guide our approach to integrated arms control.

The first principle is that we should have a pragmatic focus on establishing and regulating behaviours.

That does not rule out the possibility of new formal agreements to regulate capabilities. We should keep pursuing them where they are useful and achievable, and look for opportunities to update existing ones, as the UK did in supporting the extension of New START.

But the breadth and complexity of the proliferation landscape means there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We need to establish new norms for behaviour in the context of hybrid- and tech-enabled conflict, setting red-lines for the grey-zone as it emerges as the new arena for strategic competition.

It is more likely that we will be able to find initial common ground and mutual benefit by raising our thinking above tit-for-tat exchanges on individual systems or technologies.

And we can take encouragement from, for example, the work our two countries have led in the UN to introduce a framework to reduce space threats through norms, rules and principles.

This has helped to galvanise a global discussion on what constitutes responsible space behaviour.

Here I commend the US commitment earlier this year not to conduct destructive, direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing.

This behaviours and norms model is one that already has strong foundations for expansion.

For example, the UK Attorney General spoke earlier this year about the importance of bringing non-intervention principles to life in the context of cyber.

She proposed an international congress on the kinds of cyber behaviours that could be unlawful in peacetime – such as using cyber to disrupt supply chains for essential medicines or vaccines.

The second principle is that we should widen the conversation.

Strategic stability has historically been the business of major powers.

But in the current context, strategic stability cannot be negotiated by this group alone.

There remains a clear need for certain, specific conversations between limited partners. But we need to make a far stronger case that building and maintaining stability is in every nation’s interest and that there is a shared pool of responsibility.

Future deliberations on arms control should – where appropriate – be global by design, extending not just to traditional allies and partners in Europe but to a much wider group of countries.

And we need to create a bigger tent, thinking beyond states to industry experts, to companies and technologists who will play a critical role in understanding the risks and opportunities of dual-use and other new technologies, and in setting the standards that govern them.

The third principle is that we should start with dialogue.

We must create and preserve space and channels for dialogue to build trust and counter disinformation.

In time, this may lead towards our long-term aim of new or updated binding agreements.

But there is a significant intrinsic value in dialogue itself. In the obligatory Churchill quotation, we want “jaw-jaw, not war-war”.

During the Cold War, we benefited from a series of negotiations and dialogues that improved our understanding of Soviet doctrine and capabilities – and vice versa.

This gave us both a higher level of confidence that we would not miscalculate our way into nuclear war. Today, we do not have the same foundations with others who may threaten us in the future – particularly with China.

Here the UK strongly supports President Biden’s proposed talks with China as an important step.

Trust and transparency built through dialogue should also mean that we can be more active in calling out non-compliance and misbehaviours when we see it.

And at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in August, we will stress the importance of Russia respecting its obligations under the NPT, in both deed and word.

The final and fourth principle is that we should take early action to renew and strengthen confidence-building measures.

The goal of confidence-building measures is to contribute to, reduce, or even eliminate the causes of mistrust, fear, tension and hostility.

They help one side interpret correctly the actions of the other in a pre-crisis situation through an exchange of reliable and interrupted, often private information on each other’s intentions.

Confidence and trust grow when states are open about their military capabilities and plans. That is why governments can report every year their national military spending to the UN, as well as their recent weapons transfers.

I’m afraid Is there any clearer example of the collapse of these mechanisms than the invasion of Ukraine?

When I and others questioned the build-up of forces on the border we were assured “it’s just an exercise”. We didn’t believe it, and were right not to do so. Nevertheless, we must try to get back to a point where “reassurances” like that are worth something.

So we now need to re-energise the existing Euro-Atlantic architecture, and extend the approach into new geographic regions.

As we seek to strengthen confidence-building measures there is also a major opportunity to harness new technology and make better use of open source materials to improve our capabilities and capacity to identify, share and verify information.

For example, the UK’s recently-published Defence AI strategy sets a clear ambition for Artificial Intelligence to play a key role in counter-proliferation and arms control, including for verification and enforcement.

Again, confidence building is an area where I believe we should – as a global community – be able to make progress irrespective of wider political contexts. The indices of self-interest and mutual benefit are both clear to see.

Conclusion

Let me be clear: this new agenda for arms control will be difficult to deliver. We will need to take incremental steps, but we can make progress.

History shows us that we can forge a path through uncertainty.

After World War Two, the world had no template for managing the atom bomb’s destructive power. So we created new frameworks.

It took years. But it was possible. And it was done. And it was possible despite the advent of the Cold War.

Indeed, some of the most significant breakthroughs in arms control – including both nuclear arms control and the advent of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe – came when tensions between the West and the USSR were at their peak.

Let me be clear: arms control frameworks, open to abuse and violation as they always have been, are only one side of the coin. Effective deterrence mechanisms and capabilities, tailored to the current and developmental threats are indispensable.

So let us not neglect either side of the coin – deterrence or arms control – and start on the foundations from which we can build a strategic stability in these perilous times.

Thank you.

gov.uk


5. Russia attacks Kyiv area for the first time in weeks

Excerpts:

He said that the attack ruined one building and damaged two others, and that Ukrainian forces shot down one of the missiles in the town of Bucha.
Fifteen people were wounded in the Russian strikes, five of them civilians, Kyiv regional Gov. Oleksiy Kuleba said.
Kuleba linked the assaults to the Day of Statehood, a commemoration that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy instituted last year and Ukraine marked for the time on Thursday.
“Russia, with the help of missiles, is mounting revenge for the widespread popular resistance, which the Ukrainians were able to organize precisely because of their statehood,” Kuleba told Ukrainian television. “Ukraine has already broken Russia’s plans and will continue to defend itself.”




Russia attacks Kyiv area for the first time in weeks

AP · by SUSIE BLANN · July 28, 2022

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces launched a missile attack on the Kyiv area for the first time in weeks Thursday and pounded the northern Chernihiv region as well, in what Ukraine said was revenge for standing up to the Kremlin.

Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, announced a counteroffensive to take back the occupied Kherson region in the country’s south, territory seized by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces early in the war.

Russia attacked the Kyiv region with six missiles launched from the Black Sea, hitting a military unit in the village of Liutizh on the outskirts of the capital, according to Oleksii Hromov, a senior official with Ukraine’s General Staff.

He said that the attack ruined one building and damaged two others, and that Ukrainian forces shot down one of the missiles in the town of Bucha.

Fifteen people were wounded in the Russian strikes, five of them civilians, Kyiv regional Gov. Oleksiy Kuleba said.

Kuleba linked the assaults to the Day of Statehood, a commemoration that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy instituted last year and Ukraine marked for the time on Thursday.

“Russia, with the help of missiles, is mounting revenge for the widespread popular resistance, which the Ukrainians were able to organize precisely because of their statehood,” Kuleba told Ukrainian television. “Ukraine has already broken Russia’s plans and will continue to defend itself.”

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Chernihiv regional Gov. Vyacheslav Chaus reported that the Russians also fired missiles from the territory of Belarus at the village of Honcharivska. The Chernihiv region had not been targeted in weeks.

Russian troops withdrew from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions months ago after failing to capture either. The renewed strikes come a day after the leader of pro-Kremlin separatists in the east, Denis Pushilin, urged Russian forces to “liberate Russian cities founded by the Russian people — Kyiv, Chernihiv, Poltava, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Lutsk.”

Elsewhere around the country, five people were killed and 25 wounded in a Russian rocket attack on the city of Kropvynytskyi, about 250 kilometers (150 miles) southeast of Kyiv, according to the deputy governor of Ukraine’s Kirovohrad region, Andriy Raikovich. He said the attack hit hangars at an air academy, damaging civilian planes.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, also came under a barrage of shelling overnight, according to the mayor. Authorities said a police officer was killed in Russian shelling of a power plant in the Kharkiv region.

The southern city of Mykolaiv was fired on as well, with one person reported injured.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military kept up a counterattack in the Kherson region, knocking out of commission a key bridge over the Dnieper River on Wednesday.

Ukrainian media quoted Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich as saying the operation to liberate Kherson is underway, with Kyiv’s forces planning to isolate Russian troops and leave them with three options — “retreat, if possible, surrender or be destroyed.”

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Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said the Russians are concentrating maximum forces in the direction of Kherson, warning: “A very large-scale movement of their troops has begun.”

The British military said Ukraine has used its new, Western-supplied long-range artillery to damage at least three of the bridges across the Dnieper that Russia relies on to supply its forces.

Ukraine’s presidential office said Thursday morning that Russian shelling of cities and villages over the past 24 hours killed at least five civilians, all of them in the eastern Donetsk province, and wounded nine.

Fighting in recent weeks has focused on Donetsk province. It has intensified in recent days as Russian forces appeared to emerge from a reported “operational pause” after capturing neighboring Luhansk province.

Ukrainian emergency authorities said two civilians were killed in a Russian bombardment of the town of Toretsk. A missile struck a residential building there early Thursday morning, destroying two floors, officials said.

“Missile terror again. We will not give up. ... We will not be intimidated,” Donetsk regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.

Military analysts believe Russian forces are focusing their efforts on capturing the cities of Bakhmut and Siversk in Donetsk province.

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Zelenskyy instituted the Day of Statehood to remind Ukrainians about the country’s history as an independent state. The commemoration honors Prince Vladimir, who made Christianity the official religion of the medieval state of Kyivan Rus more than 1,000 years ago.

“You could say that for us, every day is a statehood day,” the president said in a Day of Statehood address.

“We fight every day so that everyone on the planet can finally understand: We are not a colony or enclave or protectorate, not a province, an eyalet, or a crown land, not a part of foreign empires, not a part of a country, not a federal republic, not an autonomy, not a province, but a free, independent, sovereign, indivisible and independent state,” Zelenskyy said.

The Kremlin also lays claim to the heritage of the Kyivan Rus. In 2016, Putin erected a monument to Prince Vladimir near the Kremlin.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

AP · by SUSIE BLANN · July 28, 2022



6. Biden and Xi Conduct Marathon Call During Time of Rising Tensions


Better to jaw jaw than war war.



Biden and Xi Conduct Marathon Call During Time of Rising Tensions

By Peter Baker and Jane Perlez

The New York Times · by Jane Perlez · July 28, 2022

White House officials characterized the call, which lasted two hours and 17 minutes, as a relationship-tending mission.

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President Biden spoke to President Xi Jinping of China for over two hours on Thursday.Credit...Cheriss May for The New York Times


By Peter Baker and

July 28, 2022

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WASHINGTON — President Biden and President Xi Jinping of China confronted each other over Taiwan during a marathon phone call on Thursday, but neither side reported any concrete progress on that longstanding dispute or any of the other issues that have flared between the two powers in recent months.

In their first direct conversation in four months, Mr. Xi sharply warned the United States against intervening in the conflict with Taiwan while Mr. Biden sought to reassure his counterpart that his administration was not seeking to upset the current situation between the two sides and cautioned that neither should either of them.

“President Biden underscored that the United States policy has not changed and that the United States strongly opposes anyone who will change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, told reporters after the call, which lasted two hours and 17 minutes.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called it a productive conversation but pushed back against what it considers American provocations without directly mentioning a prospective trip to Taiwan by Speaker Nancy Pelosi that has riled Beijing in recent days.

“Playing with fire will set yourself on fire,” the ministry said in a statement, repeating a metaphor it used in November as well. It said that Mr. Xi told Mr. Biden that China “firmly” opposed “interference by external forces” on Taiwan’s status and that China would “never leave any space for Taiwan independence forces in any form.”

“Public opinion cannot be violated,” the statement added, a reference to China’s position that Taiwan belonged to the government in Beijing. “I hope the U.S. side can see this clearly.”

The call took place as Ms. Pelosi’s possible trip to Taiwan has raised hackles in Beijing, which has made ominous threats of retaliation if she goes through with it. No trip has been officially announced, but Ms. Pelosi has asked other members of Congress to join her next month for what would be the first visit by a House speaker in 25 years to the self-governing island.

The White House has been concerned that the trip would unnecessarily provoke China even as the United States and Europe are consumed with helping Ukraine fight off Russian invaders. Mr. Biden publicly said that the military thought it would be a bad time for Ms. Pelosi to go. And while officially White House officials say it is up to the speaker to decide her own schedule, the unspoken message interpreted on Capitol Hill has been pressure on her to postpone or cancel.

Tensions have been high in the region for months as China has refused to join the American-led effort to isolate Russia, made assertive claims of control over the Taiwan Strait and engaged in several close midair encounters with American, Canadian and Australian aircraft. The war in Ukraine is being watched carefully for implications for Taiwan, another small neighbor coveted by a large and aggressive power.

Mr. Biden vowed in May to use force to defend Taiwan if it is attacked as Ukraine was, the third time he has said so during his brief presidency, even though he and aides later insisted that he was not changing the longstanding American policy of “strategic ambiguity” over how it would respond in such a circumstance. The president’s language at the time heartened Taiwan and American hawks even as it drew condemnation in Beijing. His language on Thursday seemed aimed at diminishing the impression that he was taking a more assertive stand than past presidents.

Read More on the Relations Between Asia and the U.S.

  • Countering China: In a bipartisan vote, the Senate passed a $280 billion bill aimed at building up America’s manufacturing and technological edge to counter China. It is the most significant U.S. government intervention in industrial policy in decades.
  • Taiwan: The Biden administration has grown increasingly anxious that China might try to move against the self-governing island over the next year and a half — perhaps by trying to close off the Taiwan Strait.
  • Trade Policy: The new trade deal announced by President Biden during a trip to Asia is based on two big ideas: containing China and moving away from a focus on markets and tariffs.

China’s aggressive behavior internationally comes as Mr. Xi faces significant troubles at home before a critical November party congress in which he is expected to be confirmed for a third term. China’s “zero Covid” lockdown policies have been deeply unpopular, and the economy has slowed considerably, as youth unemployment is on the rise and mortgage and debt crises are afflicting some regions. Analysts said he wants to show that he can stand up to the United States heading into the congress.

In the lead-up to the Thursday call, Beijing issued louder than usual statements about Ms. Pelosi’s planned trip, implying that China might use military force if the speaker went ahead with her plans. The United States would “bear the consequences” if Ms. Pelosi traveled to Taiwan, a spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, said this week.

The strong rhetoric was intended to dissuade Ms. Pelosi from making the trip, but it did not mean China would use force, said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. “The Chinese have made clear they want Pelosi’s visit canceled, but Beijing surely does not want military conflict right now,” he said.

But the atmosphere was “remarkably worse” than in March, when the two leaders last spoke on a call, he added.

The mood and outcome of the call could influence whether Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi meet in person later in the year.Credit...Pool photo by Selim Chtayti

In the region, the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan carrier group left Singapore on Tuesday and headed north into the South China Sea, in the direction of the Taiwan Strait, which could increase pressure between the two nations.

A spokeswoman for the Seventh Fleet, Cmdr. Hayley Sims, described the movement as the carrier’s “continuing normal, scheduled operations as part of her routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.” She declined to say if or when the carrier would reach the vicinity of Taiwan.

China has supported Russia’s war in Ukraine, buying large amounts of Russian oil and blaming the conflict on NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe. The Chinese statement issued after Thursday’s call said the leaders “exchanged views” on Ukraine, referring to the war there as a “crisis,” a nod to China’s basic support of Russia that Mr. Biden has often criticized.

American officials said the two presidents also discussed American tariffs imposed on China by former President Donald J. Trump and that Mr. Biden is considering lifting them, but no agreement was reached during the call.

China seemed sensitive to the industrial bill passed by Congress on Thursday to boost the American semiconductor industry and reduce reliance on China and other foreign manufacturers. “Attempts at decoupling or severing supply chains in defiance of underlying laws would not help boost the U.S. economy,” the Chinese statement said. “They would only make the world economy more vulnerable.”

Ms. Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan in early August comes at a particularly sensitive time for the Chinese military. The Communist leader, Mao Zedong, founded the People’s Liberation Army on Aug. 1, 1927, a date that is one of the most important in the army’s calendar.

An integral part of China’s military training is how to stage a future takeover of Taiwan, an island of 23 million people that China claims as its own and has vowed to conquer if necessary.

Ms. Pelosi would travel on a military plane if she makes the trip, as is traditional. One question raised by her planned visit was whether the Chinese air force would attempt to escort Ms. Pelosi’s aircraft, or interfere with it in any way, as it approached Taiwan.

The mood and outcome of the call could influence whether Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi meet in person later in the year in what would be their first in-person encounter since Mr. Biden became president, said Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center in Washington.

The two men have known each other since 2011, when they were both vice presidents, and met in China on a “getting to know you” trip by Mr. Biden. They are both likely to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, known as APEC, in Bangkok in November.

Peter Baker reported from Washington, and Jane Perlez from Seoul. Li You contributed research from Shanghai.

The New York Times · by Jane Perlez · July 28, 2022


7. Readout of President Biden’s Call with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China




​Not much from a 2 hour and 17 minute phone call. :-) But seriously, talking is good. Hopefully this will ease tensions. But it probably will not. I think for domestic political reasons in the PRC Xi will continue to appear aggressive to show strength at home.


Readout of President Biden’s Call with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China | The White House

whitehouse.gov · by The White House · July 28, 2022

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke today with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The call was a part of the Biden Administration’s efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication between the United States and the PRC and responsibly manage our differences and work together where our interests align. The call follows the two leaders’ conversation on March 18th and a series of conversations between high-level U.S. and PRC officials. The two presidents discussed a range of issues important to the bilateral relationship and other regional and global issues, and tasked their teams to continue following up on today’s conversation, in particular to address climate change and health security. On Taiwan, President Biden underscored that the United States policy has not changed and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

###

whitehouse.gov · by The White House · July 28, 2022


8. The Paradoxes of Escalation in Ukraine

But do the paradoxes lead to paralysis? Does our fear of escalation paralyze us from doing what is necessary to ensure Ukraine can successfully defend itself?


The two sentence conclusion below is excellent food for thought.


Excerpt:

But only some kinds of operations can be kept secret, and carrying out too many such attacks is dangerous—especially in Ukraine. A wider war in Europe would ruin economies and unleash carnage on soldiers and civilians, and it could upend domestic stability for all involved. In the most horrific scenario, nuclear weapons might be used in war for the first time since 1945. There’s a reason that both the West and Russia want to limit the conflict.
Some might think that Western governments made a mistake by not sending Ukraine lethal aid at the beginning of the invasion. But because limits evolve during war, being cautious was the right move. Notions of escalation evolve through trial and error. What NATO gets away with today is different from what it could do in February 2022. The West’s evolving approach to Ukraine—with its gradual expansion in volume and lethality of aid—has allowed it to find the forms of escalation that matter to Russia.
NATO members can continue to ramp up the lethality of their assistance. Yet they should do so gradually. A patient approach allows the West to gauge Moscow’s reaction and watch for signs of new Russian retaliation. Consider the question of whether to send MiG jets to Ukraine. Although this form of aid would not explicitly violate the war’s most important boundaries, because the planes could be used to attack Russia’s territory, Moscow could consider it an act of escalation and respond by, say, launching missile strikes closer to NATO territory or enacting new cuts to Europe’s gas supply.
Much of escalation is murky territory. But by going slow, the West can tease out the ambiguities without starting World War III.



The Paradoxes of Escalation in Ukraine

Slowly but Surely, Russia and the West Are Drawing Their Redlines

By Austin Carson

July 29, 2022

Foreign Affairs · by Austin Carson · July 29, 2022

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a paradox about escalation has emerged. The West carefully avoids certain kinds of involvement—such as sending Kyiv MiG fighter jets, setting up no-fly zones, and putting boots on the ground—for fear that it will provoke a greater war with Moscow. But Western countries do supply Ukraine with sophisticated artillery and intelligence targeting Russian officers and ships. They have sent intelligence personnel and special forces to Ukraine to share information and move military equipment within the country. The distinctions between these kinds of assistance can seem arbitrary and change over time. Yet those differences are taken seriously by both Russia and the West, and they have helped stop the war from spreading.

In Ukraine, the two most important limits are clear: the West has not directly attacked Russian forces, and every party keeps their operations confined to Ukrainian territory. Yet such boundaries are hardly the only ones at play. NATO, for example, has refrained from involvement that would fall safely within these limits, such as providing jets or organizing volunteer units, because Moscow might see such assistance as provocative. Russia’s response would likely also remain within those proxy and geographic limits. But such caution on the part of NATO is sensible, because a harsh Russian reaction could harm Ukraine’s civilians and its government, as well as the West, in new ways.

The complexity surrounding what lines NATO, Russia, and Ukraine are willing to respect—and which ones they are not—reflects the fact that the rules of limited war are messy. In Ukraine and other conflicts, escalation is an intricate dance, informed by history, geography, and universal distinctions between different kinds of wartime conduct. Both sides feel out what the other will tolerate, usually converging on a shared understanding of what is fair game and what is not.

To keep conflicts limited, then, warring parties must gradually test each other’s boundaries, as the West has wisely done. By moving slowly, the United States and its allies have managed to help defend the Ukrainians while gauging Russia’s tolerance. NATO should continue to up its involvement at only a gradual pace, figuring out Russia’s redlines by carefully watching how the country responds to Western moves. A deniable Russian drone strike in Poland, for example, could be a sign that NATO has pushed Moscow too far, in which case it should pull back. Above all, NATO must continue to obey the clearest of redlines, fighting only through Ukrainian forces and the keeping actual combat to Ukrainian territory. Otherwise, it risks a far more dangerous conflict.

SETTING BOUNDARIES

In one sense, the war in Ukraine hardly qualifies as limited. Few of the people who fled their homes in the wake of Russia’s invasion would see it as such. But the size and scope of a conflict is relative, and the scale of human suffering would be larger if the war spread to new territory or if combatants used new weapons. To stop this conflict from spiraling, it is critical that its participants grasp how their enemies think about escalation.


Thankfully, when governments try to feel out their adversaries’ limits, they aren’t fumbling in the dark. Writing during the early Cold War, the game theorist Thomas Schelling observed that limits in war—and thus what is considered escalatory—derive from crisp differences. Rivers, mountains, lines of latitude, political borders, uniforms, and weapons define the contours of escalation. During war, what counts as escalatory must be sorted out on the fly, but governments do not start from scratch.

Geography, for instance, offers guidance. During the Korean War, the twists of the Yalu River, the waterway separating North Korea and China, were a powerful marker. Bombing on the wrong side of the Yalu was seen by U.S., Chinese, and Soviet leaders alike as highly escalatory. In Ukraine, the Dnieper River, the borders with Poland and Russia, the location of the capital, and the distinction between eastern and western Ukraine similarly help define which military operations fall within the war’s established limits.

To keep conflicts limited, warring parties must gradually test each other’s boundaries.

Other context-specific features can influence ideas of escalation, including culture, racial stereotypes, and language. In the Korean War, U.S. officials suspected that the Soviet Union might send volunteer units from communist bloc countries. A 1951 telegram from Alan Kirk, the U.S. ambassador in Moscow, noted that, if this happened, Soviet leaders might use personnel from “an Oriental satellite,” such as Mongolia, to be more deniable and less provocative—the implication being that European soldiers would have been more clearly foreign and thus escalatory than Asian ones. The Soviets never took this step, but the report showed how historically specific conceptions of racial similarity can inform what is considered escalatory.

Escalation is also shaped by universal ideas, many of which are simple distinctions in the laws of war. A country’s shift from bombing only military sites to civilian ones, or from factories to hospitals, is clearly escalatory. And some weapons are more provocative than others. In the 1980s, when U.S. leaders covertly supplied the mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, for example, they initially sent Swiss-made shoulder-fired missiles, believing that Moscow would react more harshly if they sent the U.S.-made Stinger system. Eventually, after observing the Soviet reaction, Washington did send Stinger missiles.

But when countries cross important limits, their adversaries do not always retaliate. In the first weeks of Moscow’s invasion, Western governments declined to send air defense systems, instead opting for smaller antitank ones. Some states refused to send lethal aid at all. But the West rapidly changed its mind. Within a month, the United States and the United Kingdom sent man-portable air defense equipment. Soon after, NATO countries began sending powerful artillery systems, including the U.S.-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), which can hit targets behind Russian lines. These shifts are easily recognizable as escalatory: assistance that shoots down planes is different from aid that stops tanks, and long-range artillery is clearly more aggressive than the short-range kind. Yet Russia has tolerated many of these gradual increases in lethality. One reason may be that such assistance still falls short of violating the war’s most important limits.

Russia’s lack of response shows that although the boundaries of escalation may be crisp, they aren’t always fixed: what is considered provocative in war can change dramatically. Early in the Vietnam War, for instance, the United States bombed North Vietnam sparingly, because doing so was seen as potentially escalatory. Gradually, however, such operations became routine as Washington realized it would not incite Soviet or Chinese retaliation. American targets crept northward. Toward the end of the war, U.S. President Richard Nixon even looked for targets that had been considered off-limits, such as ones in Cambodia. His goal was to gain leverage during peace talks by showing the North Vietnamese he would go where his predecessors would not.

THE LIMITS OF LIMITED WAR

Russia, Ukraine, and the West have similarly adjusted their behavior as they learn about the goals and pain thresholds of the other side. Escalation is not infinitely flexible, however. Some limits are more important than others. To prevent a wider war, NATO and Russia have carefully avoided direct, sustained military clashes between their own personnel. This is why proposals for no-fly zones are different from those calling for deadlier weapons. Although opinions differ about how aggressively to arm Ukraine, Western analysts agree that intervention must run through Ukrainians.


Ukraine’s borders are another universally understood limit. Even if they are disputed by Russia, they provide a powerful and intuitive way to contain the war. In March, Russia fired missiles near the Polish border but stopped short of targeting supply routes in the territory of a NATO member. Such restraint did not go unnoticed. Russia continues to avoid striking NATO members, despite having the capability.

These two lines are political and define the most explosive forms of escalation. A direct clash between NATO and Russia in the skies over Ukraine would invite a tit-for-tat response, fully upending the war as a proxy one and pressuring leaders on both sides to directly attack. Sustained military strikes by Russia into Poland would trigger NATO’s mutual-defense promise. If Ukraine openly attacked Russian territory, Moscow would feel compelled to respond in new ways. These transgressions would be distinct and ominous.

An exception to these limits is deniable operations. During the Korean War, Soviet pilots covertly flew for China’s air force, and American leaders knew but stayed silent. In the Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force secretly bombed Laos, and the Soviets only complained privately. States often hide activity during war that breaks bedrock limits. Rivals may tacitly agree to stay quiet about these transgressions to avoid a larger war. Moscow may have done so in response to the rumored Ukrainian sabotage of fuel depots and factories within Russia.

What NATO gets away with today is different from what it could do in February 2022.

But only some kinds of operations can be kept secret, and carrying out too many such attacks is dangerous—especially in Ukraine. A wider war in Europe would ruin economies and unleash carnage on soldiers and civilians, and it could upend domestic stability for all involved. In the most horrific scenario, nuclear weapons might be used in war for the first time since 1945. There’s a reason that both the West and Russia want to limit the conflict.

Some might think that Western governments made a mistake by not sending Ukraine lethal aid at the beginning of the invasion. But because limits evolve during war, being cautious was the right move. Notions of escalation evolve through trial and error. What NATO gets away with today is different from what it could do in February 2022. The West’s evolving approach to Ukraine—with its gradual expansion in volume and lethality of aid—has allowed it to find the forms of escalation that matter to Russia.

NATO members can continue to ramp up the lethality of their assistance. Yet they should do so gradually. A patient approach allows the West to gauge Moscow’s reaction and watch for signs of new Russian retaliation. Consider the question of whether to send MiG jets to Ukraine. Although this form of aid would not explicitly violate the war’s most important boundaries, because the planes could be used to attack Russia’s territory, Moscow could consider it an act of escalation and respond by, say, launching missile strikes closer to NATO territory or enacting new cuts to Europe’s gas supply.

Much of escalation is murky territory. But by going slow, the West can tease out the ambiguities without starting World War III.



Foreign Affairs · by Austin Carson · July 29, 2022


9. How to Survive the Next Taiwan Strait Crisis



​Excerpts:


In addition to such assurances, the U.S. government should improve Taiwan’s combat capabilities. The United States should assist Taiwan in reforming its reserve forces and developing territorial defense forces while pushing Taipei to increase its defense spending and invest in asymmetric capabilities such as missiles, sea mines, and portable air defenses. U.S. policymakers must also work with Taiwan to prepare its civilian population for a potential Chinese attack. This would entail planning for how to maintain adequate food, fuel, and medical supplies during a conflict.
Meanwhile, to lower the chances of a conflagration, the United States should reconsider gestures that will inflame tensions but do not meaningfully increase deterrence or Taiwan’s resilience. Bilateral security cooperation between the United States and Taiwan will need to grow in the coming years, but such activities should not be made public. High-level U.S. officials should visit when there is a substantive reason for doing so, such as discussing U.S.-Taiwanese trade relations or cooperation on global health issues. If the United States believes that a crisis is brewing, a high-level symbolic trip could be useful to send a signal to China, but until that day arrives senior officials should not touch down in Taipei just for the sake of doing so.
By that standard, Pelosi’s planned visit is ill advised. Although Taiwan is unlikely to secure any tangible gains, it will bear the brunt of any Chinese response. But Pelosi seems unlikely to cancel her trip; she may feel that this is her last opportunity to show her support for Taiwan, given that she is unlikely to remain Speaker following the midterm elections. Plus, a bedrock of her political career has been taking a tough stance on China. Now that the visit has become public and there is significant bipartisan support in Congress for her trip, there will also be political fallout if her plans end in a cancellation.
The best outcome, then, would be for Pelosi to delay her trip until after the midterms but before the next session of Congress, which would coincide with the aftermath of China’s Party Congress. Xi will likely sell any delay as a Chinese victory, much as Chinese President Jiang Zemin cast the 1995–96 crisis in the same light, and Pelosi would still be able to count a trip as part of her legacy. In the meantime, Pelosi could introduce legislation that would increase Taiwan’s defense capabilities, potentially including provisions such as prioritizing arms deliveries to the island or starting a foreign military financing program with Taipei. A bill could also grant the Biden administration authority to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal with Taiwan. In preparing for a future crisis over Taiwan, such substantive measures would be far more meaningful than any symbolic gesture.



How to Survive the Next Taiwan Strait Crisis

Washington Must Be Ready For a Showdown With or Without A Pelosi Trip

By David Sacks

July 29, 2022

Foreign Affairs · by David Sacks · July 29, 2022

“The military thinks it’s not a good idea right now.” That was U.S. President Joe Biden’s observation in late July about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s planned trip to Taiwan, which is reportedly scheduled for next month. Such trepidation seems to be well warranted. Pelosi herself acknowledged as much; when asked about the president’s remarks, she said, “maybe the military was afraid our plane would get shot down or something like that by the Chinese.” Those statements reveal that the United States likely has intelligence or a private warning from China that it is planning an unprecedented, highly escalatory response if Pelosi does indeed visit Taipei.

A two-hour phone call between President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on July 28th appears to have done little to defuse the situation. China’s official summary of the conversation quoted Xi warning President Biden that “[t]hose who play with fire will perish by it.”

Pelosi’s potential visit leaves U.S. policymakers with few good options. If she cancels the trip, it would likely embolden China to increase its coercion of Taiwan and deal a blow to the Taiwanese public’s confidence in their future. On the other hand, a visit would probably provoke a crisis, as China would feel compelled to respond lest its threats be seen as hollow. It would be wrong to think, however, that Pelosi’s travel plans will determine whether a showdown materializes in the Taiwan Strait. In reality, the United States and China are barreling toward such a crisis—and it will be far riskier than previous standoffs. China, possessing significant military capabilities and less concerned about preserving its relations with the United States, is now far more willing to respond to a perceived provocation with escalation than it was during previous crises.

Given the probability of a crisis or even a conflict, the United States should prioritize ensuring that it has the capability to come to Taiwan’s defense and helping Taiwan ready itself for a potential invasion. This agenda, more than symbolic gestures, should guide the U.S. approach in the critical years ahead.

Not the First Time

For all the attention that Pelosi’s trip is attracting, it is not unprecedented. There have been similar visits in the past, which are fully consistent with the U.S. one-China policy, under which the United States recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, acknowledges (but does not endorse) China’s position that there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China, and maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan. Pelosi is not the first Speaker of the House to visit: Newt Gingrich met with Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui in Taipei in 1997. To be sure, Gingrich was a Republican Speaker during a Democratic administration; Pelosi and Biden, in contrast, belong to the same party. For that reason, Chinese officials believe she is acting in coordination with the White House.


Still, congressional delegations routinely visit Taiwan. Past administrations have sent cabinet-level officials to the island; in 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar visited Taipei. Pelosi would travel on U.S. military aircraft, but that is also nothing new; in June 2021, for instance, three U.S. senators arrived in Taiwan aboard a U.S. Air Force plane.

What sets Pelosi’s visit apart is that it would occur at a time when Beijing believes that the United States is moving away from its one-China policy. And there have been noticeable changes in U.S. diplomacy toward Taiwan in recent years. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his congratulations to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on her inauguration in 2020. The Trump administration hosted Taiwan’s diplomats at the State Department and in other federal government buildings, which has remained the practice during the Biden administration. Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly referred to Taiwan as a “country.” The Biden administration extended an invitation to Taiwan’s representative in the United States to attend Biden’s inauguration and invited Taiwan to participate in its Summit for Democracy. Administration officials also leaked to the media that U.S. military personnel are in Taiwan training its forces. None of these moves are tantamount to diplomatic recognition, but Beijing may view Pelosi’s trip as an opportunity to send a message that the United States must stop what China sees as an intentional pattern.


Beijing believes that the United States is moving away from its one-China policy.

Aside from attempting to halt the strengthening of U.S.-Taiwanese ties, China’s reaction to Pelosi’s potential visit is in part the product of unfortunate timing. Chinese President Xi Jinping will be seeking an unprecedented third term as head of the Chinese Communist Party this fall. He likely fears that high-level, public U.S. support for Taiwan would make him look weak and not in control of critical relationships and undermine his standing.

More important, Beijing’s reaction reveals its growing comfort with the prospect of a crisis over Taiwan. As Xi faces economic headwinds at home and growing resentment over his strict zero-COVID policy, he may have concluded that a Taiwan crisis could rally the public and shore up his popularity. Xi may also have decided that international support for Taiwan is growing too strong, especially in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both Taiwan and Ukraine are relatively young democracies that exist next to much larger authoritarian neighbors with long-standing designs on their territory; leaders around the world have taken note of the parallels. Xi may feel he needs to deter countries from working with Taipei to increase its defenses and resilience. He could also find Pelosi’s visit to be an advantageous pretext for large-scale military exercises, which could test the People’s Liberation Army’s preparedness for complex operations. That could provide him clues as to whether China’s military would fare better than Russia’s did in Ukraine and gauge how the United States and Taiwan would react.

China Arms Up

The last Taiwan Strait crisis occurred more than a quarter century ago. The instigating event was the 1995 address Lee gave at his alma mater, Cornell University, on what he dubbed “Taiwan’s democratization experience.” The fact that the Taiwanese president was granted a visa to visit the United States after Secretary of State Warren Christopher assured his Chinese counterpart that Lee would not be allowed to enter the country enraged Beijing. In retaliation, the Chinese military conducted missile tests and exercises in the Taiwan Strait. This prompted Secretary of Defense William Perry to announce that the United States would dispatch two aircraft carrier strike groups to the area, demonstrating that the United States was prepared to intervene to repel a Chinese invasion.

Since then, China has developed a more robust toolkit to punish Taiwan. Whereas Taiwan’s military budget exceeded China’s in 1994, China now outspends Taiwan by a factor of 20. In recent years, China has become bolder in its coercive military maneuvers: look no further than its near-daily incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. To send a message, China will now have to do something that rises significantly above that kind of baiting, which means its options are increasingly escalatory.


In addition to its military advantage, China has significantly more leverage over Taiwan’s economy. At the time of the 1995­–96 crisis, Taiwan’s exports to the mainland accounted for one-third of one percent of its total exports; today, that figure is 30 percent. China could choose to cut off its market to many Taiwanese goods, a move that would be difficult for Taiwan—or the United States—to counter.

It is not just relations between China and Taiwan that have evolved. During previous crises, China had an overriding interest in preserving a constructive relationship with the United States. This was true during the 1995–96 crisis, the standoff sparked by the accidental U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999, and an incident in 2001, when a Chinese fighter jet collided with a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft. In all these cases, Chinese leaders ultimately sought a way to de-escalate tensions. Now, however, with U.S.-Chinese relations in a free fall, Xi may believe there is little left to preserve.

Trouble Ahead

A far more dangerous era for cross-strait relations is in the offing. Xi has set an objective of achieving China’s “great rejuvenation” by 2049; unification with Taiwan is a precondition for that goal. And he may want to move more rapidly than that timeline suggests: Xi is unlikely to live to see 2049 (he would be approaching 100 years old) and has said that this issue cannot be passed from generation to generation. That implies he would like to at least make significant progress on the question of Taiwan’s status or resolve it altogether on his watch. As CIA Director William J. Burns recently said, “I wouldn’t underestimate President Xi’s determination to assert China’s control—the People’s Republic of China’s control—over Taiwan. . . . I think the risks of that become higher, it seems to us, the further into this decade that you get.” After cementing his rule at the upcoming Party Congress and having sidelined rivals and placed loyalists in critical positions, Xi will have a freer hand for pursuing his objectives.

To head off the worst possible outcomes of this dangerous new phase, the Biden administration should initiate a comprehensive review of U.S. policy toward Taiwan. This is overdue, given that the last such review took place in 1994, and there have been significant changes in cross-strait dynamics in the intervening years. A guiding principle of U.S. policy should be deterring a Chinese attack on Taiwan. To that end, the United States should make clear that it would use force in coming to Taiwan’s defense.


The U.S. government should improve Taiwan’s combat capabilities.

In addition to such assurances, the U.S. government should improve Taiwan’s combat capabilities. The United States should assist Taiwan in reforming its reserve forces and developing territorial defense forces while pushing Taipei to increase its defense spending and invest in asymmetric capabilities such as missiles, sea mines, and portable air defenses. U.S. policymakers must also work with Taiwan to prepare its civilian population for a potential Chinese attack. This would entail planning for how to maintain adequate food, fuel, and medical supplies during a conflict.

Meanwhile, to lower the chances of a conflagration, the United States should reconsider gestures that will inflame tensions but do not meaningfully increase deterrence or Taiwan’s resilience. Bilateral security cooperation between the United States and Taiwan will need to grow in the coming years, but such activities should not be made public. High-level U.S. officials should visit when there is a substantive reason for doing so, such as discussing U.S.-Taiwanese trade relations or cooperation on global health issues. If the United States believes that a crisis is brewing, a high-level symbolic trip could be useful to send a signal to China, but until that day arrives senior officials should not touch down in Taipei just for the sake of doing so.

By that standard, Pelosi’s planned visit is ill advised. Although Taiwan is unlikely to secure any tangible gains, it will bear the brunt of any Chinese response. But Pelosi seems unlikely to cancel her trip; she may feel that this is her last opportunity to show her support for Taiwan, given that she is unlikely to remain Speaker following the midterm elections. Plus, a bedrock of her political career has been taking a tough stance on China. Now that the visit has become public and there is significant bipartisan support in Congress for her trip, there will also be political fallout if her plans end in a cancellation.

The best outcome, then, would be for Pelosi to delay her trip until after the midterms but before the next session of Congress, which would coincide with the aftermath of China’s Party Congress. Xi will likely sell any delay as a Chinese victory, much as Chinese President Jiang Zemin cast the 1995–96 crisis in the same light, and Pelosi would still be able to count a trip as part of her legacy. In the meantime, Pelosi could introduce legislation that would increase Taiwan’s defense capabilities, potentially including provisions such as prioritizing arms deliveries to the island or starting a foreign military financing program with Taipei. A bill could also grant the Biden administration authority to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal with Taiwan. In preparing for a future crisis over Taiwan, such substantive measures would be far more meaningful than any symbolic gesture.


Foreign Affairs · by David Sacks · July 29, 2022



10. Russia Created a Refugee Crisis, and Now Putin Is Weaponizing It


Just what the American people want to hear. I agree we must act but we also must be able to explain to the American people why we must act while the US is going through all that is happening now. It is going to get more and more difficult to "sell" aggressive foreign policy to the American homeland.


The conclusion will be read by Americans in "flyover country" and ask how is this bad for us? (It will be). Part of the "information campaign" must be to inform and educate the American people and the threats and effects.


Conclusion:


The refugee crises caused by Putin’s war in Ukraine pose a serious threat to the domestic stability of countries in the EU. The U.S. must rally its European partners and respond as a united front with military aid and information campaigns before it is too late.



Russia Created a Refugee Crisis, and Now Putin Is Weaponizing It

With Russia causing two migration crises—one by bloodshed in the east and the other by famine in the south—the United States must act now.

Ivana Stradner and Iulia Sabina-Joja

Jul 28

thedispatch.com · by Ivana Stradner

People, mainly women and children, pass through Przemysl train station in Poland after fleeing from war-torn Ukraine. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.)

Vladimir Putin’s hybrid war in Ukraine has created a multifaceted humanitarian crisis that the Kremlin plans to weaponize against the West to further provoke instability and chaos. Refugees have poured out of Ukraine since his February 24 invasion, and Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s agricultural sector—from grain-export blockades to theft to strikes on agricultural facilities—are creating disruptions to the global food supply that are likely to create even more refugees worldwide. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is touring Africa this week, blaming the West for the food crisis. Western leaders must realize the full destabilizing potential of Russia’s weaponization of the refugee crisis. In response, the United States should combine conventional military support with multilateral information operations to counter Russia’s plans.

We know Putin’s playbook well. After Putin’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, 1 million Ukrainians took refuge in Poland. Putin’s 2015 intervention in Syria pushed 1.4 million refugees into the European Union. While the effects of refugee crises are not as apparent as other wartime security threats, these refugee surges exacerbated and caused other social crises, which then contributed to the rise of the far right across Europe.

As Western leaders have delayed a response to the refugee crisis, the Kremlin has built on its successes. While refugee rates from Putin’s conflicts in 2014 and 2015 were 1 million per year, Putin’s current war in Ukraine has already displaced 13 million Ukrainians. The Kremlin has engaged in tactics like missile terrorism, where troops launch missiles at Ukrainian towns to sow terror and push more refugees west. While the West continues to debate whether Putin would consider fighter jets for Ukrainian defense an escalation, Ukraine is running out of fighter jets and its missile defense system is insufficient to protect civilians.

Ratcheting up its missile terrorism is only one way that the Kremlin could intensify the refugee flow to the West. The Kremlin could also open a second front in Ukraine’s western regions by invading Lviv from Belarus, which would push up to 10 million Ukrainians toward the European Union. This crisis would be especially acute because millions from Ukraine’s east have sought safe haven in the country’s west, and Poland and Slovakia next door have already taken in all the refugees they can handle.

Putin’s war has also increased the potential for influxes of refugees into Europe from Africa. Putin has implemented grain blockades, stolen grain, and targeted agricultural facilities to attack the global food supply. Ukraine is known as the “breadbasket” of Europe, with Russia and Ukraine exporting a third of global wheat supplies. While rising food prices have impacted the whole world, countries in Africa are being hit the hardest. With countries like Tunisia, Somalia, Libya, and Eritrea importing almost half of their wheat from Ukraine, many of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s projected 47 million people who will experience “acute food insecurity” from the war will be in Africa. Nothing suggests that the Kremlin will stop. A deal to lift Russia’s Black Sea blockade took months to negotiate. The morning after agreeing to the deal Moscow struck Odesa’s port, the very place from which Ukrainian grain is transported to Africa and the Middle East. As of Wednesday, 80 ships are ready to leave Ukrainian ports but have been unable. Further, finding workers willing to serve on the crews of these ships is proving a challenge.

As Russia provokes this food crisis, it has been spreading disinformation in Africa to redirect resentment toward the West. In May, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vasiliy Nebenzya asserted that Europe was “hoarding” grain to use in “grain for weapons” exchanges with Ukraine. Within Africa, Russia’s embassies in Egypt and Zimbabwe reported that “illegal unilateral sanctions” and “Western interference” were to blame.

Many Africans will likely attempt to migrate to Europe and “generate instability in the EU,” according to Yale history professor Timothy Snyder. Placing the blame on the West in this way creates the potential for extreme resentment towards the West and adds to the already existing risk of instability and conflict in Western Europe.

With Russia causing two migration crises—one by bloodshed in the east and the other by famine in the south—the United States must act now. In Ukraine, Washington must deliver the military capabilities needed to stop the Kremlin’s missile terrorism, such as fighter jets and air defense systems. In Africa, the U.S. must counter Russian disinformation campaigns. While a recent State Department report on “the Global Food Crisis” is a good starting point to spread awareness, the U.S. should also, with the help of likeminded democracies, wage an information campaign on social media platforms. Content should include short social media videos, “myth vs. fact” analyses, and other information related to the food crisis to debunk Russian disinformation campaigns. The U.S. and others should also conduct preemptive information campaigns in Europe to warn audiences about Moscow’s plans.

The refugee crises caused by Putin’s war in Ukraine pose a serious threat to the domestic stability of countries in the EU. The U.S. must rally its European partners and respond as a united front with military aid and information campaigns before it is too late.

Ivana Stradner is an adviser to the Barish Center for Media Integrity at the Foundation of Defense of Democracies, where her research focuses on Russia and information operations. Iulia Sabina-Joja teaches at Georgetown and George Washington University, runs the Middle East Institute’s Black Sea program in Washington, D.C., and is co-host of the AEI podcast “Eastern Front.”

thedispatch.com · by Ivana Stradner



11. FDD | Algeria Leads Campaign to Rehabilitate Assad Regime


Excerpts:

The Biden administration should signal to Algeria and other Arab states that it firmly opposes normalization with Assad. The White House should then set an example by terminating its support for Syria’s inclusion in the regional energy agreements.
The departments of State and the Treasury should also clarify that the United States will punish Algeria-based violators of the Caesar Act. A week before Algiers sent its foreign minister to Damascus, the Assad regime established a Syrian-Algerian Business Council chaired by Khaled al-Zubaidi, one of the first individuals sanctioned pursuant to the Caesar Act. If the Biden administration remains committed to “putting human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy,” as Secretary of State Antony Blinken put it in February 2021, it should end its tacit support for Assad’s rehabilitation.



FDD | Algeria Leads Campaign to Rehabilitate Assad Regime

fdd.org · by David Adesnik Senior Fellow and Director of Research · July 28, 2022

While visiting Damascus to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra called on Monday for Syria’s return to the Arab League. Lamamra’s trip to Damascus is part and parcel of a regional trend toward higher-level engagement with the Assad regime that accelerated after the Biden administration advocated Syria’s inclusion in regional energy agreements.

This coming November, Algeria will host the next summit of the Arab League, which expelled and imposed sanctions on Syria in 2011 amid the regime’s bloody suppression of mass protests. Syrian participation in the summit depends on a consensus of member states. A senior League official, Hossam Zaki, said support for Syria’s return is growing. While its reinstatement “is not a distant matter, it is not a close matter either,” Zaki asserted.

Last month, Bahrain returned its ambassador to Syria after a nearly 11-year absence. In March, the United Arab Emirates hosted Assad himself, becoming the first country other than Russia and Iran to welcome the Syrian leader, who denies he has used chemical weapons or perpetrated other atrocities.

Unlike most Arab states, Algiers has maintained diplomatic relations with Damascus throughout the war in Syria. The Emirates initially supported opposition forces but reopened its Damascus embassy in December 2018, just days after President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeast Syria. (Trump reversed his order several weeks later.) Nevertheless, Arab outreach to Damascus remained relatively muted, especially after a bipartisan majority in Congress passed a tough new sanctions law targeting the Assad regime, the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act.

The Biden administration initially said it recognized the Caesar Act as the law of the land and would enforce it accordingly. However, the Biden team pivoted away from that position last August. That month, the administration announced its support for including Damascus in a pair of regional energy deals that will net the regime an estimated $40 million to $50 million. (Assad and his counterparts have approved the deals but are waiting on the World Bank to fund the initiative.)

Arab capitals understood the signal from Washington and rushed to initiate ministerial-level meetings with Damascus, which they had avoided since 2011. King Abdullah II of Jordan even accepted a personal phone call from the Syrian leader despite previously calling on him to step down.

The Biden administration insists its policy toward Syria has not changed, yet senior lawmakers from both parties warned the president in a January letter that “[t]acit approval of formal diplomatic engagement with the Syrian regime sets a dangerous precedent for authoritarians who seek to commit similar crimes against humanity.” Just one month later, the atrocities that accompanied the Russian invasion of Ukraine affirmed the risks of impunity.

The Biden administration should signal to Algeria and other Arab states that it firmly opposes normalization with Assad. The White House should then set an example by terminating its support for Syria’s inclusion in the regional energy agreements.

The departments of State and the Treasury should also clarify that the United States will punish Algeria-based violators of the Caesar Act. A week before Algiers sent its foreign minister to Damascus, the Assad regime established a Syrian-Algerian Business Council chaired by Khaled al-Zubaidi, one of the first individuals sanctioned pursuant to the Caesar Act. If the Biden administration remains committed to “putting human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy,” as Secretary of State Antony Blinken put it in February 2021, it should end its tacit support for Assad’s rehabilitation.

David Adesnik is research director and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where he also contributes to FDD’s Center on Economic and Financial Power (CEFP). For more analysis from David and CEFP, please subscribe HERE. Follow David on Twitter @adesnik. Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD and @FDD_CEFP. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focused on national security and foreign policy.

fdd.org · by David Adesnik Senior Fellow and Director of Research · July 28, 2022


12. Puzzles deepen in the context of Shabaab’s attempted Ethiopian invasion



Excerpts:

However, the two concerted efforts within the span of a week demonstrate Shabaab’s growing ambition, regional capabilities, and opportunism to exploit regional geopolitics, especially as the Abiy Ahmed government struggles to contain the various insurgencies inside Ethiopia.
These raids also come as Shabaab has made it a point to intensify its attacks inside northeastern Kenya. In just the last week alone, the group has claimed authorship for at least five attacks in Kenya’s Mandera and Garissa Counties, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal.
Meanwhile, in southern Somalia, at least 13 people were killed a suicide bombing in the town of Merca yesterday. Those killed included the town’s mayor. At least 19 suicide bombings conducted by Shabaab have been recorded this year, according to data kept by FDD’s Long War Journal.
As Shabaab continues to resurge inside various parts of Somalia, it also continues to expand its violence across East Africa. Much like with the violence inside Kenya, the recent incursions into Ethiopia are part of this expansion project.




Puzzles deepen in the context of Shabaab’s attempted Ethiopian invasion | FDD's Long War Journal

BY CALEB WEISS & RYAN O'FARRELL | July 28, 2022 | ryanmofarrell@gmail.com |

longwarjournal.org · by Caleb Weiss & Ryan O'Farrell · July 28, 2022

Last weekend, Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, attempted to mount a sizable incursion into Ethiopian territory. The foray lasted at least three days, with possibly hundreds of Shabaab militants involved, before regional troops from Ethiopia’s Somali State fought the jihadists back into Somalia.

Over the last few days, however, new information has come to light that warrants further discussion of Shabaab’s raids and the possible intentions of its incursions. This includes a purported second attempt by Shabaab to mount a concerted raid into Ethiopia.

Independent reporting has focused on Shabaab’s attempts to establish its own frontline inside Ethiopia, while Ethiopian officials and media continue to double-down on Shabaab’s alleged links with the ethnic Oromo insurgent group, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).

On July 21, at least 500 Shabaab militants first entered Ethiopian territory after a separate unit of Shabaab’s forces attacked the Somali border towns of Aato and Yeed the previous day. The two towns hosted bases of the Liyu Police, an ethnic Somali paramilitary force used by Ethiopia inside both Somali State and Somalia itself.

According to Harun Maruf of Voice of America, the strikes on the Liyu Police bases were meant as a diversionary tactic meant to allow the larger Shabaab force time and space to mount the incursion into Ethiopia itself. Shabaab’s propaganda has solely focused on the attacks on the Liyu Police.

This includes an open declaration of war made against the Liyu Police by Shabaab’s shadow governor of Somalia’s Bakool Region, Osman Abu Abdi Rahman, just days after the battles. Fu’ad Mohamed Khalaf, one of Shabaab’s top leaders, also recently denounced the Liyu Police after visiting Aato, which Shabaab says it still controls.

These initial raids marked a rare occasion as only a handful of Shabaab attacks have been recorded inside Ethiopia itself since 2007. Shabaab has made Ethiopia a prime target within its propaganda since the country first intervened against the group in 2006. It has thus tried on numerous occasions to mount terrorist attacks inside Ethiopia, though the plots have all largely been thwarted or have failed on their own.

Regional forces from Ethiopia’s Somali State eventually stopped the militants in their progression, reportedly killing around 100 jihadists. While this number cannot be independently verified, the United States Africa Command has confirmed that the militants were able to penetrate as much as 150km into Ethiopian territory.

It is unclear if other Shabaab militants remain that deep inside Ethiopia. The purported direction the militants were heading, however, presents several interesting developments.

According to Horn of Africa analyst Matt Bryden, Shabaab’s plan was to make it to Ethiopia’s Bale Mountain range in the country’s Oromia State. It should be noted that Bale is more than double the distance from the border than the 150km incursion cited by US Africa Command.

Shabaab members were reportedly arrested inside Oromia’s Bale Zone earlier this year, though it is unclear to what extent – if any – those militants played in Shabaab’s attempts to erect a base of operations in the mountains.

The Bale Mountains, which are situated in Ethiopia’s southeast, are already host to another insurgent group, the aforementioned Oromo Liberation Army. The OLA is an ethnic Oromo militant group fighting for autonomy or even independence for Ethiopia’s Oromia State and is mobilized by secular nationalism.

Second incursion and more allegations of Shabaab aiding Oromo nationalists

It is through this context that Ethiopian officials continue to double-down on the contention that Shabaab was attempting to aid the OLA. After Shabaab’s initial three-day incursion was pushed back, official’s from Ethiopia’s Somali State remarked that the jihadist group was attempting to link up with the OLA.

This line was again repeated earlier this week when Shabaab reportedly attempted to mount a second concerted raid into Ethiopia. According to Somali State officials, the jihadists again entered Ethiopian territory on July 25 through the Ferfer district of the Somali State’s Shabelle Zone, which borders Somalia’s Hiraan and Galguduud regions.

Much like the first incursion of last week, Somali State officials reported its forces beat the jihadists back, with at least 85 additional Shabaab militants being killed in the second attempted incursion.

Somali State officials then again stated that this second attempted incursion was meant to also link up with the OLA in Oromia.

This is unlikely to be the case. While Shabaab most likely has ethnic Oromo members within its ranks, the OLA, as previously stated, is a secular Oromo nationalist group and employs no religious rhetoric. It explicitly aligns with other ethno-nationalist insurgent groups, most notably the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), all of which are also secular nationalists.

Salafi militancy has remained a marginal force within Ethiopia’s complicated militant landscape, which has always primarily organized itself along ethno-nationalist lines.

There is also historical precedent for Shabaab rejecting secular insurgencies inside Ethiopia. When accused in 2014 of working alongside the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), an ethnic Somali insurgent group in Ethiopia’s Somali State, Shabaab explicitly stated it views such organizations as “un-Islamic” and therefore unworthy of its support.

Moreover, Bale has long served as an important area in the history of armed Oromo nationalism, as the site of a major revolt – amounting to the first armed Oromo uprising – in the 1960s against the imperial government of Emperor Haile Salassie. In this 1970s and 80s, the original Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) began in West Hararghe and was concentrated in eastern Oromia and Bale.

Though armed action by the OLA in Bale Zone remains less frequent than in nearby Guji Zone – where the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project recorded at least 30 clashes since the beginning of the year – it is unlikely that the OLA would willingly tolerate the presence of the al Qaeda branch in its claimed territory.

Furthermore, the OLA has been repeatedly accused of staging violent attacks on Amhara civilians elsewhere in Ethiopia – though the OLA has repeatedly denied responsibility and instead blames the Ethiopian government – and it is unlikely that it would risk further damage to its international legitimacy by forging ties with a group like Shabaab.

Raising further questions are reports that ethnic Somali militiamen unaffiliated to Shabaab have staged a series of attacks on Oromo civilians in Bale’s Gura Damole district over the preceding two months, resulting in the displacement of 1038 households in June.

Longstanding tensions over land had previously resulted in a series of bloody attacks by Oromo and Somali paramilitaries in both Oromia and Somali regions in 2016 and 2017, killing hundreds and displacing hundreds of thousands.

Further, the Liyu Police, the same paramilitary group attacked by Shabaab on July 20 inside Somalia, was blamed in July 2018 for killing at least 98 Oromo civilians in the Bale Zone during the 2016-2017 violence by the Ethiopian government’s Human Rights Commission, in addition to attacks in other parts of Oromia’s border with Somali region.

It is possible that Shabaab may attempt to capitalize on inter-ethnic violence in the border areas between Oromia and Somali region, though the degree to which Shabaab is cognizant of these issues or capable of taking advantage of them is unclear.

It also remains unclear how Shabaab might entrench itself in Bale given the presence of hostile Oromo and Somali paramilitary groups engaged in active violence against civilians, the government, and each other.

Shabaab are no supporters of the Liyu Police (or the aforementioned ONLF) and are unlikely to work alongside them inside Ethiopia, though other Somali paramilitary groups inside Ethiopia may elicit different feelings for Shabaab.

It is possible that Shabaab could take a more proactive role in the future, though, provided it actually establishes a firm presence inside Ethiopia.

Ethiopia in the sights of Shabaab’s regional expansion

Nevertheless, it is much more likely that Shabaab views the Bale Mountains as a suitable area for it to base its units in order to launch a more sustained pace of attacks inside Ethiopia itself, separate from the indiginous conflicts taking place in the area.

Indeed, a former Shabaab member quoted by Harun Maruf stated that “the group’s plan is to erect their black flag inside Ethiopia.”

Especially in Somalia’s northern region of Puntland – and to a lesser extent in northeastern Somaliland – Shabaab has found refuge in the Bari and Golis Mountains.

The remote and rugged terrain provides enough sanctuary for the group to mount attacks inside Puntland and occasional excursions into Somaliland – the latter of which has also been helped by pro-Shabaab members of the Warsangali, a minority Darod sub-clan inside northeastern Somaliland.

It is thus much more likely Shabaab is attempting to replicate this model for Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains for its own purposes – effectively striking inside its longstanding enemy of Ethiopia – than assisting an ethnic Oromo insurgent group.

Much like with some elements of the Warsangali in northeastern Somaliland, it is possible that Shabaab could cultivate some friendly ties with local Somali clans in eastern Ethiopia. Though this remains to be seen.

The impact and implications of Shabaab’s two attempted incursions into Ethiopian territory are still being uncovered.

However, the two concerted efforts within the span of a week demonstrate Shabaab’s growing ambition, regional capabilities, and opportunism to exploit regional geopolitics, especially as the Abiy Ahmed government struggles to contain the various insurgencies inside Ethiopia.

These raids also come as Shabaab has made it a point to intensify its attacks inside northeastern Kenya. In just the last week alone, the group has claimed authorship for at least five attacks in Kenya’s Mandera and Garissa Counties, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal.

Meanwhile, in southern Somalia, at least 13 people were killed a suicide bombing in the town of Merca yesterday. Those killed included the town’s mayor. At least 19 suicide bombings conducted by Shabaab have been recorded this year, according to data kept by FDD’s Long War Journal.

As Shabaab continues to resurge inside various parts of Somalia, it also continues to expand its violence across East Africa. Much like with the violence inside Kenya, the recent incursions into Ethiopia are part of this expansion project.

Both authors are senior analysts at the Bridgeway Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to ending and preventing mass atrocities.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

longwarjournal.org · by Caleb Weiss & Ryan O'Farrell · July 28, 2022




13. Climbing the escalation ladder in Ukraine: A menu of options for the West


I hope it is a ladder and not an escalator or an express elevator.


Seriously, I wonder how this list compares to the OPTs in the Pentagon and at NATO and EUCOM. I would like to compare white boards. I miss the days of sketching out options.



Climbing the escalation ladder in Ukraine: A menu of options for the West

By Francis ShinDamir Marusic, and Tyson Wetzel

atlanticcouncil.org · by dpeleschuk · July 28, 2022

Conflict Crisis Management NATO Politics & Diplomacy Russia Security & Defense Ukraine

New Atlanticist

July 28, 2022

After making slow but steady gains in eastern Ukraine recently, Russia has inched closer to its recalibrated goal of seizing the entire Donbas region. Even though its military has sustained heavy losses—and while the Kremlin’s current objectives are much smaller than its initial goal of capturing Kyiv and overthrowing the government—the chances of escalation in this war persist. The Ukrainians’ successful use of Western-supplied, high-precision weapons such as the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) might compel the Kremlin to boost its aggression.

Although seemingly unfeasible, Moscow could still attempt to conquer all of Ukraine at a later date, or simply wear down the Ukrainian military with eye toward forcing Kyiv into once-unthinkable concessions. Carpet bombing or chemical or biological attacks could be used to quash Ukrainian resistance in major occupied cities such as Kherson—especially if a looming Ukrainian counteroffensive risks ousting the Russian military there. While also remote, there is a chance of the use of low-yield tactical nuclear weapons to break the entrenched and battle-hardened Ukrainian lines in the Donbas.

In short, the Kremlin’s invasion may have slowed to a war of attrition against the Ukrainian military—but it still has enough tools at its disposal to escalate the war.

This is why the West needs to prepare itself for intensified warfare between Ukraine and Russia, or even between Russia and the West (chiefly of a hybrid nature). How will it seek to aid beleaguered Ukraine should Russia choose to escalate? What will it do in direct response to heightened Russian aggression? And what can it do right now to dissuade Russia from taking dangerous next steps that could precipitate a wider war?

We have assembled a list of possible policy responses the West ought to consider according to the approximate level of escalatory severity. Each choice is accompanied by an assessment of how it might play along the consequence/appropriateness spectrum, based on its impact on Ukraine, Europe, and the rest of the transatlantic community. Each set of measures is set off by separate crisis triggers, but they are still listed in order of escalating intensity.

1. Approximate level of current violence

The following steps should be considered if Russia continues its indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure and population centers, but on a larger scale. The measures listed here are more prudent—designed to bolster Ukraine’s fighting strength without pushing Russia into mutual escalation and paving the way to a war between the United States or NATO and Russia.

Formalize military aid through lend-lease: NATO and the European Union (EU) should follow the United States’ lead by formalizing their military aid program to Ukraine, modeling it on the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022. Such a program could be an opportunity for former Eastern Bloc states and Finland (which has military equipment compatible with Warsaw Pact-era specifications) to ship their old surpluses to Ukraine while replacing them with modern military technology with a focus on offensive weapons, including attack aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles, armored vehicles, and ground-based fires such as multiple-launch rocket systems and long-range artillery.

Institute radical openness toward dissidents and soldiers: During the Cold War, the West maintained a policy of radical openness toward people wanting to flee from the Soviet Union or the Eastern Bloc. The United Kingdom and European Union should revisit this policy by lifting their travel bans on sanctioned Russians and Belarusians who may wish to defect. They should also support Ukraine’s efforts to accept defecting Russian soldiers who fear returning to a home that is under increasingly totalitarian rule. The West should also consider extending their openness to these defectors in case Ukraine runs out of capacity to accept them.

Close sanctions loopholes: Several large loopholes in existing sanctions regimes, such as the US Treasury’s decision in May to begin blocking Russia’s debt payments, have already been closed. But other loopholes remain intentionally open, such as the eighteen-month exemption for Russian pipeline oil built into the EU’s ban on 90 percent of Russian oil imports by February 2023. Nonetheless, many structural vulnerabilities still exist in the West’s economic defenses against Russian weaponized corruption and energy coercion, such as dependence on gas and official corruption, which need to be addressed to ensure the effectiveness of sanctions.

2. Russian economic retaliation intensifies

Facing the brunt of Western economic sanctions, the Kremlin increases its retaliatory measures against Europe and other Western economies—such as limiting or outright stopping oil and gas shipments to Western countries reliant on Russian hydrocarbons, as well as terminating contracts with individuals and entities the Kremlin designates through sanctions as adversarial to Russia. Primarily economic in nature, the measures listed below would limit Russia’s participation in the global financial system beyond the steps already taken by the West.

Expand the scope of de-SWIFTing: As of June, only seven Russian banks have been removed from the SWIFT payment network (though the European Commission has proposed removing three more). The United States should work with the European Commission to identify more Russian banks to be disconnected from SWIFT, on a scale similar to what was used to remove hundreds of Iranian banks in 2012. Such a measure would raise the costs on Russia by reducing the ability of its banks to interact with the global financial system, decreasing the funds that the Kremlin could use for its war chest.

Bring about crash decarbonization: While a total cut-off from Russian hydrocarbons would have a severe impact on the EU’s economy, US President Joe Biden could issue an executive order based on the Defense Production Act to develop a US green industrial policy. It would produce and export a huge number of heat pumps, solar panels, and other sustainable energy technology to Europe under terms similar to the World War II-era Lend-Lease program. This would ensure that the reduction of Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas is not merely transferred to other petroleum-exporting authoritarian states.

Pull a reverse OPEC: Before the oil embargo is fully implemented, Europe could impose a price cap, reducing Russian energy imports into Europe piecemeal while forcing new customers to pay rents for continued business with Europe. The idea is already under consideration by the Group of Seven (G7) nations. This arguably could be more successful than a full-scale embargo in terms of crippling Putin’s war chest, as it would cut into Russian export income from oil and gas globally, not just from Europe, and would protect consumers feeling the impact of inflation. The only response the Kremlin could have would be to reduce its oil exports, which would only cut into its own oil revenues. But for this to be effective, the G7 and the EU would need to impose secondary extraterritorial sanctions on countries that continue to import Russian oil and gas—such as Turkey, India, and China—which would mean forcing them to pay up to the price cap. (While this may push them closer to Russia, diplomacy on this issue has proven unsuccessful in getting these countries to reduce their oil imports from Russia.) Further, Western naval authorities could boost their efforts in tracking down Russian oil tankers that have “gone dark” to avoid detection.

Establish common European debt: To facilitate the big increase in military spending promised by NATO members and the mass production required for crash decarbonization, the EU must consider implementing a burden-sharing scheme in the form of joint EU bonds. If member states all commit to increasing their military spending to at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product, that alone would increase overall expenditure for the entire bloc by 25 percent, according to Reuters. This way, states that are not on potential front lines with Russia (and also not as reliant on Russian hydrocarbons) would be able to ensure that the cost of these policies does not rest so heavily upon the EU citizens more at risk of Russian aggression and manipulation.

3. Russia stages a cyberattack

Bogged down in its land war and facing mounting economic difficulties, Russia decides to stage a cyberattack similar to the one it deployed against Estonia in 2007—but on a much larger scale, targeting critical infrastructure such as oil pipelines (similar to the Colonial Pipeline attack in 2021). The West’s response will need to be calibrated in order to show the public that it is fighting back in this new zone of warfare. It should include to following measures to apply additional non-kinetic pressure on Russia.

Freeze or wipe Ukraine’s debt: Russia could launch a cyberattack as the first step in escalation against NATO itself, which is why it would be especially critical for NATO to streamline military aid to Ukraine to continue tying down conventional Russian military forces—therefore limiting Russia’s offensive abilities to the cyber domain. This can be partly achieved by freezing or wiping Ukraine’s debt. As of May, Ukraine’s public debt had ballooned to $101.4 billion. The G7 finance ministers are discussing the necessity of suspending or even wiping Ukraine’s national debt so it can maintain its war economy and continue production for military equipment and defenses. Part of Ukraine’s national debt could also be offloaded through swap lines to its central bank, ensuring that Kyiv will not default on its debt and face serious difficulty in maintaining funding for its military. (It’s worth noting, however, that Kyiv has not publicly requested the freezing or wiping of its debt.)

Kick Russia off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF): The Financial Action Task Force is an intergovernmental organization that sets international standards against money laundering and other financial crime. While Russia remains a FATF member as of June despite its invasion, it was barred from holding any leadership or advisory roles (among other steps to limit its influence within the group). Even with these new restrictions, its continued membership in FATF remains tenuous, and a cyber-warfare campaign conducted against fellow FATF members could compel the organization to expel Russia entirely—since targeting critical infrastructure with a hack would be a step far beyond sanctions or economic retaliation. Although there is no official rule preventing FATF members from joining the FATF blacklist, Russia’s expulsion would make it much more likely to join the blacklist. This would make it harder for Russia to recover financially even if most sanctions against it were lifted, since the global private sector would hesitate to do business with a blacklisted country.

Build a global ‘Anti-Invasion Coalition’: As an emergent form of warfare, a large-scale Russian cyber-warfare campaign against the West would likely spark concern across the world, especially from countries that fear similar attacks from China and North Korea. This is why Western allies should work closely with major partners like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore—and consider reaching out to less-developed states in Africa and Latin America that have expressed similar fears—to exchange information about protecting critical infrastructure and identifying potential cyber threats. This development of cyber defense and deterrence would form the basis of the anti-invasion coalition.

Mount a cyber response: If Russia attacks the United States and/or its European allies, Washington must be prepared to respond with either a proportionate or disproportionate response, depending on the scope and effect of the Russian cyberattack. Targets could include Russian military networks and systems, President Vladimir Putin’s cabal of advisers, and influential Russian oligarchs, aimed at disabling the political and cyber structures that ordered and executed the cyber-warfare campaign.

Retaliate with a horizontal response: The West could also respond by countering Moscow’s influence in another area. For example, Western partners could close their ports to at least the Russian navy with the possibility of closing off other ports to all Russian ships as an extension of sanctions policy (if there is consensus for it). This policy has already begun in the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe. Other options for a horizontal response would escalate ongoing public influence campaigns against the Wagner Group of Kremlin mercenaries in Syria, Africa, and anywhere else they operate.

4. Ukrainian troops face a battlefield defeat

The following steps should be considered if Russia successfully regroups and conducts a major new offensive against the Ukrainian military that threatens to shatter their defenses in the Donbas or southern Ukraine (or both). The measures listed here are designed to both address the humanitarian catastrophe that would likely result from this level of fighting and put greater pressure on Russian forces.

Repurpose seized Russian assets: Once sanctions loopholes have been closed, Russian overseas assets can be seized more easily. In addition to crippling Putin’s war chest, assets seized from oligarchs could be used to fund humanitarian aid to refugees and for internally displaced people still in Ukraine. For this purpose, US Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) have introduced the Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act, which would repurpose any assets of sanctioned oligarchs since February 2022 that exceed five million dollars to fund humanitarian aid efforts, post-war reconstruction, and communications technology to ensure information about the war and protests against the Kremlin remains uncensored. The assets would include (but not be limited to) residential properties, superyachts, and private jets. But before taking this option, the United States should take care that the overseas assets of the Russian central bank would be covered by this act as well—and may open an awkward precedent if this route is taken.

Undertake a naval convoy operation to recover grain: After a Russian missile strike threw into question the recent deal to restart grain shipments from Ukraine’s blocked Black Sea ports, it may take a naval convoy to secure this critical route and feed the world. Taking some inspiration from Operation Earnest Will, which the US Navy implemented in the Persian Gulf during the late 1980s, US and NATO naval forces should declare to the Kremlin that they will implement a naval convoy operation to escort grain-carrying merchant ships from Ukrainian ports. This operation, endorsed by former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis, would need to account for a reduced naval presence in the Black Sea due to the Montreux Convention’s limits on the number of naval forces moving through the Turkish Straits. Turkey would also need to be convinced to change its position on blocking all NATO traffic into the Black Sea. However, a smaller-scale operation would likewise reduce the possibility of escalation from the United States and NATO. This convoy would require protection from US or NATO aircraft as well.

Declare a military buffer zone: The defeat of the Ukrainian military in the south and/or east would open up Kyiv and other major cities and strategic zones to Russian advances. Should there be a renewed Russian offensive that encroaches upon territories that had earlier been considered relatively safe, the United States and NATO should announce a twenty-mile-wide neutral “buffer zone” along the border between Poland and Ukraine. This would merely be an official declaration of the existing de-facto situation on the ground, as NATO anti-air and anti-artillery capabilities already cover this twenty-mile-wide zone into Ukrainian territory. The purpose would be to develop political capital to deter further Russian aggression in the area and to potentially open up opportunities to declare protected zones deeper inside Ukrainian territory (see below). NATO forces will defend this buffer zone from Russian air and missile strikes, to ensure no Russian aircraft or missiles enter NATO territory directly. NATO would engage any aircraft or missiles threatening the zone.

Create a protected humanitarian zone: Following the establishment of the buffer zone, if there is an escalation in Russian bombing campaigns anywhere in the country, NATO should expand the military buffer zone into a humanitarian protection zone covering the three westernmost regions of Volyn, Lviv, and Zakarpattia. NATO and the EU would then establish humanitarian-aid camps there and conduct humanitarian airlifts into Lviv and surrounding airfields to rescue Ukrainians aiming to flee into Europe. The zone will be protected by NATO aircraft and air-defense units. Rules of engagement will prevent NATO from taking military action outside of it and will only engage Russian (or Belarusian) forces or weapons that attack the zone.

Launch humanitarian airlifts: Intensified levels of conflict across Ukraine, rather than being concentrated in its east, would spark an increase in refugees into neighboring countries like Poland, Hungary, and Moldova. These refugees will need to be more widely distributed to avoid overloading neighboring countries. Once the airspace above NATO’s eastern flank has been secured in the humanitarian zone, airlifts of Ukrainian refugees from Poland, Hungary, and Moldova to other countries in Europe (like Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Sweden, and Britain), and possibly to Canada and the United States as well, will be much safer.

Undertake a limited military operation: The United States, along with any allied or partner nations wishing to join, would execute a limited military operation to prevent the annihilation of Ukrainian forces. Beyond increasing the ongoing sharing of battlefield intelligence with Ukrainian forces to enhance their force lethality and survivability, the United States would also augment Ukrainian forces by deploying unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missile strikes against critical Russian targets within Ukraine.

5. Russia uses weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine

The following steps should be considered if Russia uses biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons in Ukraine. But these would be difficult—and potentially irreversible—decisions that will require serious sacrifice on the part of Western publics. They will also raise tensions with Russia to new levels and make normalization seemingly impossible once the shooting stops.

Establish and enforce a no-fly zone in the Donbas: The United States and participating NATO members should announce the establishment of a no-fly zone in the Donbas region. Russian air defenses in the Donbas would be struck, and any Russian planes, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and drones flying in the Donbas airspace would be destroyed.

Undertake a punitive military operation to reestablish the pre-February 24 line of contact: The United States and participating NATO members should execute a limited air, missile, and naval operation to augment Ukrainian forces in dislodging Russian forces from territory gained since the initiation of the Russian invasion. Allied forces would destroy Russian air and air-defense forces to establish air superiority, and air and missile strikes would be used to attack and decisively defeat Russian ground forces, command-and-control nodes, reinforcements, logistics and supply routes, as well as Russian naval vessels that have instituted a blockade of Ukrainian ports and cut off the nation from resupply by sea. The scope of this option could be expanded to include dislodgment of Russian forces from all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea and separatist-held portions of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. This step is at the top of the ladder and should be reserved for only the most extreme Russian provocation, given the real risk that it could lead to World War III.

Francis Shin is a research assistant at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center.

Damir Marusic is a resident senior fellow at the Europe Center.

Tyson Wetzel is a nonresident senior fellow in the Forward Defense practice of the Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy.

atlanticcouncil.org · by dpeleschuk · July 28, 2022




14. A Credible Source on Putin's Trolls



Alas... annothe rbook for hte "to read" pile.


Excerpts:


Aro also describes in great detail the history of Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act as well as Russian propaganda attacks on a senior Lithuanian diplomat, who supported the Belarus opposition, a Norwegian journalist, and a Serbian political analyst. Interestingly, Aro also highlights the white hat cyber warriors including Ukrainian Infonapalm and Bellingcat, which has distinguished itself via extraordinary reporting on the Russian downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger aircraft in 2014.
Aro details the extent to which U.S. networking and social media enabled Russian cyber operations including launching attacks against her and other journalists as well as disseminating the Kremlin’s propaganda. (In 2018, the Helsinki District Court found three Finns guilty of defamation against Aro.)
Aro makes a tremendous contribution to our understanding of Russian propaganda operations, all the more important given Finland’s trajectory towards full membership in NATO. One can only expect Russia to increase the intensity of its already full throttled cyber information warfare against Finland. Aro would do well to take on this issue and others in a follow up to which effectively concludes its narrative in 2019.

I am always reminded of this expert from the 2017 NSS:


"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."

Access NSS HERE





A Credible Source on Putin's Trolls

thecipherbrief.com

More Book Reviews

July 28th, 2022 by Putin's Trolls, |

BOOK REVIEW: Putin’s Trolls: On the Frontlines of Russia’s Information War Against the World

By Jessikka Aro / Ig Publishing

Reviewed by Dan Hoffman

The Reviewer — Dan Hoffman is a former senior CIA Officer where he served as a three-time station chief and a senior executive Clandestine Services officer. His assignments included tours of duty in the former Soviet Union, Europe, and war zones in the Middle East and South Asia. He is a national security analyst with Fox News.

REVIEW — Finns like to say “Ei se pelaa, joka pelkää” (“No guts, no glory”) about people like Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro, who have the courage to act during the most trying of times. In spite of having faced repeated death threats and slander, Aro bravely exposes the truth about the Kremlin’s propaganda machine in her book, Putin’s Trolls.

Putin’s Trolls delivers a comprehensive history of the Kremlin’s aggressive information warfare against Ukraine beginning in 2014, when Russian state media portrayed the Kiev government (and still does today), as “fascist” and full of Nazis. Aro reveals how Russia deployed Soviet era propaganda techniques designed to influence the local Russian speaking population in the Donbas.

One of the reasons the book works so well is because Aro has extensive experience as a journalist and is a substantive expert on Russia. She worked as a foreign affairs correspondent for Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat; as a journalist in Petrozavodsk, Karelia; attended Moscow State University; and currently works for Finland’s public service broadcaster YLE (Yleisradio). As part of her research, she visited and conducted interviews at the St Petersburg based Internet Research Agency aka Russian Troll Farm, that is infamous for creating fake online accounts used to influence U.S. public opinion during the 2016 presidential election.

Just how significant has Russian cyber action been in Ukraine and what does it mean for you? Register today for the Cyber Initiatives Group Summer Summit on Wednesday, August 17th.

Aro also describes in great detail the history of Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act as well as Russian propaganda attacks on a senior Lithuanian diplomat, who supported the Belarus opposition, a Norwegian journalist, and a Serbian political analyst. Interestingly, Aro also highlights the white hat cyber warriors including Ukrainian Infonapalm and Bellingcat, which has distinguished itself via extraordinary reporting on the Russian downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger aircraft in 2014.

Aro details the extent to which U.S. networking and social media enabled Russian cyber operations including launching attacks against her and other journalists as well as disseminating the Kremlin’s propaganda. (In 2018, the Helsinki District Court found three Finns guilty of defamation against Aro.)

Aro makes a tremendous contribution to our understanding of Russian propaganda operations, all the more important given Finland’s trajectory towards full membership in NATO. One can only expect Russia to increase the intensity of its already full throttled cyber information warfare against Finland. Aro would do well to take on this issue and others in a follow up to which effectively concludes its narrative in 2019.

This book earns a prestigious four out of four trench coats.

Read Under/Cover interviews with authors and publishers in The Cipher Brief

​15. New MOS and formations could come to Army spec ops in tech-savvy era





New MOS and formations could come to Army spec ops in tech-savvy era

armytimes.com · by Davis Winkie · July 28, 2022

The Army’s special operations forces are considering new tech roles and unit structures to complement their growing partnership with space and cyber personnel across the Defense Department, according to Army Special Operations Command’s top general.

Some of changes could be accomplished internally, though others, like any new jobs, would require Army approval.

Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga raised the potential moves when asked during a Wednesday Association of the U.S. Army event about lessons the Army SOF community is learning from the war between Russia and Ukraine, plus other recent conflicts.

Army Times also interviewed Braga via phone after the event, where he pitched a new irregular warfare triad that features SOF, space capabilities and cyber units.

“How we’re organized was optimized for counter-terrorism, and we recognize that a lot of that has to change to be ready for large-scale combat operations,” he said. “I cannot imagine a future state of warfare that does not have more drone technology and an application of AI.”

Currently, the service’s publicly acknowledged special operations forces don’t have a clear career pathway for operators who are skilled in modifying and using small drones, 3D printing, AI and coding, or similar skills.

Braga wants to change that, and he says the options on the table extend to curriculum modifications at USASOC’s schoolhouses and shifts in force structure.

“We’re experimenting even with force design...What is the SOF unit of action of the future?” he speculated. “Is it two people and 20 drones? Is it one person and 100 drones?”

The 12-solder Operational Detachment-Alpha, the default unit of the service’s Special Forces, is even up for review. Braga highlighted that its structure was set in 1952, when the three domains of warfare were land, sea and air.

“Today, that same organization, that unit of action has to operate in land, sea and air, cyber and space and the information environment and do all the things they were doing previously,” the USASOC commander said. " So can you ask those same people to do all of those same things?...Those are the things I think we have to to really take a hard look at.”

Could a new Special Forces MOS be on the way?

After the panel, Braga offered insight on where discussions to innovate USASOC tech talent management currently stand. He thinks that many of the people who could fill tech-centered roles are already in the SOF community — they just need a chance to specialize and advance.

“We have some amazing individuals who are building drones from scratch...programming drones, creating backdoors, 3D printing, learning Python on their own. These people already exist,” he argued. “What we don’t have right now is a proper career field and pipeline for them to maintain that talent and reinforce that [technology in special operations] can still be a successful career [for them].”

The general indicated the command is leaning towards proposing a warrant officer career field specializing in technology on the modern battlefield — with potential roles including “drone operator, drone integrator, drone builder, robotics, manned-unmanned teaming, leveraging artificial intelligence, coding, tactical cyber” and more.

But because creating a new MOS requires significant study and Army-level approvals, “an immediate target” is finding other ways to identify and retain tech-savvy soldiers, like through additional skill identifiers, Braga explained.

The USASOC chief isn’t sure, though, whether such a future career field would need to be an 18-series MOS code alongside the other Special Forces troops, which require prospective members to pass selection and a rigorous qualification course. There’s a chance that ongoing Army-wide efforts to integrate technology and small drone technology could “adapt and absorb” any ARSOF-specific role.

“I could envision a future where I would need and want and desire, an 18-series who might be needed to go further in the contact layer, and maybe do something that might be more physically demanding on a physical operation,” explained Braga. “I could envision someone who I don’t need to do that...[they] might be a drone integrator, drone builder, drone operator, that could [fight] remotely.”

And although the analysis process for establishing a new career field can take time, Braga is confident that his command has the resources and flexibility to ensure that his operators have access to the skills and tech they need in the interim.

USASOC controls three centers of excellence that produce its operators, plus “we own our whole warrant officer pipeline, we have a lot of flexibility,” explained Braga.

“This is where we’re going...because I think we have to move out.”

About Davis Winkie

Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.



​16. USS Ronald Reagan strike group enters South China Sea amid Taiwan tensions



A Reagan big stick carrying on for the late President.



USS Ronald Reagan strike group enters South China Sea amid Taiwan tensions

Stars and Stripes · by Philip J. Heijmans and Tony Capaccio · July 28, 2022

The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) approaches the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199) to conduct a fueling-at-sea, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. The USS Ronald Reagan and strike group have entered the South China Sea as part of what the 7th Fleet said was a scheduled operation amid rising tensions with China over a potential Taiwan visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Daniel G. Providakes/U.S. Navy)


A U.S. aircraft carrier and strike group have entered the South China Sea as part of what the 7th Fleet said was a scheduled operation amid rising tensions with China over a potential Taiwan visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier, made its way to the disputed waters following a five-day port call to Singapore, departing Changi Naval Base on Tuesday, the US 7th Fleet said in reply to a query from Bloomberg News. The trip follows remarks this week by China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian that Beijing was getting "seriously prepared" for the possibility that Pelosi could visit Taiwan, a self-governing island that China considers part of its territory.

While the 7th Fleet declined to say where the carrier was heading following its first trip to the city-state since 2019, it had already been conducting maritime security operations in the South China Sea prior to its arrival, having left for its annual spring patrol in May from Yokosuka, Japan, where it's based. Those included flight operations with fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, maritime strike exercises and coordinated tactical training between surface and air units.

"USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group are underway, operating in the South China Sea following a successful port visit to Singapore," said Cmdr. Hayley Sims, a public affairs officer for the Japan-based US 7th Fleet. "I will add that Reagan is continuing normal, scheduled operations as part of her routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific."

China claims more than 80% of the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest shipping routes, based on a 1947 map showing vague markings that has since become known as the "nine-dash line." The U.S. estimates that more than 30% of the global maritime crude oil trade passes through the waters.

"The United States, once again, sent vessels to the South China Sea to flex its muscles," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a regular briefing Thursday. "It is clear to us who is the biggest threat to security in the South China Sea and beyond."

China has ramped up military activity around Taiwan to signal its displeasure with past high-profile visits. While the People's Liberation Army could step up sea and air patrols during Pelosi's potential visit to Taiwan, anything more severe is unlikely, said Blake Herzinger, an Indo-Pacific defense policy specialist.

"I really don't think the PLA is going to start a war over Pelosi visiting Taipei," he said. "If you believe that Beijing is planning an imminent-ish invasion of Taiwan, as some do, kicking off a war next week would be suicide for their plans."

President Joe Biden is set to speak with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday amid the fresh tensions over Taiwan, according to people familiar with the matter. Biden told reporters last week that the U.S. military didn't think Pelosi's trip was a good idea, prompting consternation in Taiwan.

Pelosi is looking at a visit to Japan in early August as part of her trip to the region, Kyodo News reported. Officials from the biggest U.S. ally in Asia have increasingly spoken out about how Taiwan's security directly affects Japan, but Tokyo has emphasized there is no change to its policy on ties with Beijing, which sees the island as part of its territory.

Former Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba told Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen he wanted to see talks between Tokyo and Taipei aimed at fending off any contingency in the region.

"We must make preparations to ensure no contingency occurs in this region," Ishiba said during a visit to Taipei by a group of lawmakers. "What kind of situation do we foresee, based on what kind of treaties, based on what kind of laws, what kind of troops would be used? If both sides don't understand each other, there will be no deterrence," he added.

The carrier's movements in the South China Sea this month occurred as the USS Benfold, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, conducted a transit through the Taiwan Strait. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said onboard the USS Ronald Reagan last week without naming names that countries "misrepresent" U.S. maritime operations, including those of the Benfold and Ronald Reagan, and "aim to claim the resources of others."

"Unfortunately, there are nations in the world that would have one believe their sovereign territories extend well beyond the established rules and norms," he said.

Bloomberg's Isabel Reynolds and Dan Murtaugh contributed to this report.

Stars and Stripes · by Philip J. Heijmans and Tony Capaccio · July 28, 2022



17. U.S. defense contractor and wife who were photographed in KGB uniforms charged with stealing identities of dead children in Texas


A bizarre story. Truth stranger than friction?  


Some fiction writer could not sell this story to publishers so he had to make it a true story.




U.S. defense contractor and wife who were photographed in KGB uniforms charged with stealing identities of dead children in Texas

CBS News

A U.S. defense contractor and his wife who lived for decades under the identities of two dead Texas children have been charged with identity theft and conspiring against the government, according to federal court records unsealed in Honolulu.

Walter Glenn Primrose and Gwynn Darle Morrison, both in their 60s, who allegedly lived for decades under the names Bobby Edward Fort and Julie Lyn Montague, respectively, were arrested Friday in Kapolei on the island of Oahu.

Prosecutors are seeking to have the couple held without bail, which could indicate the case is about more than fraudulently obtaining drivers' licenses, passports and Defense Department credentials. According to a criminal complaint obtained by Hawaii News Now, Primrose was allegedly issued a total of five U.S. passports under the identity of Bobby Fort. Morrison was issued a total of three U.S. passports under the name of Julie Montague, the complaint says.


Those documents helped Primrose get secret security clearance with the U.S. Coast Guard and as a defense contractor and old photos show the couple wearing uniforms of the KGB, the former Russian spy agency, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Muehleck said in court papers. Faded Polaroids of each in uniform were included in the motion to have them held.

This combination of undated photos provided by the United States District Court District of Hawaii shows Walter Glenn Primose, left, also known as Bobby Edward Fort, and his wife Gwynn Darle Morrison, also known as Julie Lyn Montague, purportedly in KGB, the former Russian spy agency, uniforms. / AP

A "close associate" said Morrison lived in Romania while it was a Soviet bloc country, Muehleck said.

Morrison's attorney said her client never lived in Romania and that she and Primrose tried the same jacket on as a joke and posed for photos in it. Even if the couple used new identities, attorney Megan Kau told The Associated Press, they have lived law-abiding lives for three decades.

"She wants everyone to know she's not a spy," Kau said. "This has all been blown way out of proportion. It's government overreaching."

"She is not a spy," Megan Kau, attorney for alleged Russian spy Gwynn Morrison claims her client posed in a KGB uniform for fun in the 1980's.
Gov't accuses her, husband Walter Primose of stealing the identities of dead babies. More: https://t.co/gwVHFQieMR #hawaiinewsnow pic.twitter.com/SkXNFuo6Bc
— Lynn Kawano (@LynnKawano) July 28, 2022

"She has nothing to do with Russia," Kau told Hawaii News Now.

Prosecutors said there is a high risk the couple would flee if freed. They also suggested that Primrose, who was an avionics electrical technician in the Coast Guard, was highly skilled to communicate secretly if released.

The couple is also believed to have other aliases, Muehleck said.

A lawyer for Primrose declined comment. A bail hearing was scheduled for Thursday in U.S. District Court.

The secret clearance Primrose had provides access to information that is "enormously valuable to our enemies," said Kevin O'Grady, a Honolulu defense attorney not involved in the case.

The Coast Guard works closely with the Army and Navy, helps with counterintelligence and serves as the country's maritime border patrol, said O'Grady, an Army reservist and lieutenant colonel judge advocate.

"The Coast Guard has a unique perspective on our vulnerabilities," he said, including how to infiltrate the country through water ports. Hawaii, a major military center, "is a prime target for a lot of espionage and such," he said.

O'Grady told Hawaii News Now that Primrose's security clearance could have provided the Russians with valuable information.

"They engage in counter terrorism and counter drug operations and things like that," he said.

For one family whose deceased child's name was stolen, the news Wednesday came as a shock.

John Montague, who lost his daughter Julie in 1968 at 3 weeks of age, was stunned to learn someone had been living under her name for so long.

"I still can't believe it happened," Montague, 91, told AP. "The odds are like one-in-a-trillion that they found her and used her name. People stoop to do anything nowadays. Let kids rest in peace."

Primrose and Morrison were born in 1955 and they attended high school together in Port Lavaca, Texas, and then went to Stephen F. Austin University, according to court records. They married in 1980.

There is no indication in court papers why the couple in 1987 assumed the identities of deceased children who would have been more than a decade younger than them. But an affidavit filed by Special Agent Dennis Thomas of the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service noted that the couple lost their home in Nacogdoches, Texas, to foreclosure that year.

They remarried under their assumed names in 1988, Thomas said.

Court records don't provide any information about what happened from the time they assumed their new identities until 1994, when Primrose, then about 39, enlisted in the Coast Guard as Fort, who would have been about 27.

If there was an obvious age discrepancy between what Primrose looked like and the birth certificate he presented, "that's an abject failure," O'Grady said.

"That's something if they can figure it out now, they should have caught it then," he said.

Montague said that "somebody's not doing their jobs."

Primrose was in the service until 2016, when he began work for an unnamed defense contractor at the U.S. Coast Guard Air station at Barbers Point.

"While he held that secret clearance with the U.S. Coast Guard, defendant Primrose was required to report any foreign travel," prosecutors wrote. "Investigation has revealed that defendant Primrose did not report several trips to Canada while he did report other foreign travel."

The couple lived in a Honolulu suburb in a modest two-bedroom bungalow beneath palm trees. They owned a neighboring house they rented to military personnel, said Mai Ly Schara, who lived next door.

She knew them as Bob and Lynn, with Morrison apparently Julie Lyn Montague's middle name.

Primrose did yard work for Schara for $50 a month, she said. Morrison took in, fed and spayed and neutered cats. She also had several rabbits and dedicated a room to the pets.

"They kept to themselves, but they were friendly," Schara said. "They just kind of were, like, a little nerdy."

Schara wasn't sure what Primrose did for a living, but thought it was military related. Morrison once worked as a parking attendant at a Waikiki hotel but had been tutoring neighborhood children.

The FBI created a scene in the quiet neighborhood when they searched the house and took photos.

"It was just shocking, like, oh my gosh," Schara said. "It was pretty crazy."

Other neighbors told Hawaii News Now the couple kept a low profile. Joshua Guieb-Pangan said they were friendly.

"When we would drive by, they'd always give us a wave," Pangan told the station.

The State Department declined to comment on the arrests.

The couple is charged with conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S., false statement in passport application and aggravated identity theft.

Fort, who lived fewer than three months, died in October 1967 at the same hospital where Julie Montague passed away about three months later in January 1968. They are buried 14 miles (23 kilometers) apart.

When Tonda Ferguson learned from her father that Morrison had used her late sister's birth certificate to create an alias, she thought of her mother, who died in 2003, and how many years had gone by.

"For all the mothers who are living and have to know this happened to their babies, I can't even begin to imagine," Ferguson said. "I'm glad my mama's with the Lord. This would be so traumatic for her."

Ferguson was in eighth grade when her sister died. She never got to see her little sister or hold her. She was buried in Burnet, Texas, the small town where they lived at the time outside of Austin.

"She came from a place of love, deep love," Ferguson said. "For someone to turn around to steal her identity for evil, it's tough. It's hurtful. ... I hope they rot."

CBS News









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

Twitter: @davidmaxwell161

VIDEO "WHEREBY" Link: https://whereby.com/david-maxwell

Phone: 202-573-8647

email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com


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

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

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

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