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Newsletter – march 1, 2022

Ripubblichiamo i contenuti del diario geostrategico di oggi di The Science of Where Magazine

RUSSIA-UKRAINE

Atlantic Council

There is an old saying: “In Russia, everything changes in twenty years; nothing changes in two hundred years.”. But maybe it gets to the heart of the recent crisis, when the unthinkable became the inevitable. Lord George Robertson: What’s driving Putin’s invasion of Ukraine? A former NATO chief who met him explains

As Russia further escalates its military assault on Ukraine—and with the future of European security and the post-Cold War international order at stake—check back here for the latest insights, analysis, and reporting from the Atlantic Council’s experts as events unfoldLIVE: Fresh Russian strikes on Ukraine amid peace talks, ruble crash

Brookings

Over the weekend, Ukraine has succeeded in stalling Russia’s onslaught, publics across the world have rallied behind Ukraine, and trans-Atlantic allies have taken their response to Russian aggression to a whole new level. These developments have forced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — who, ahead of Friday’s NATO meeting to discuss the Russian invasion, had criticized his allies as being all talk and no action — to end his own inaction on Ukraine’s Thursday request for Ankara to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, and with them access to the Black Sea, to Russian warships per the 1936 Montreux Convention. The Turkish minister of foreign affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, on Sunday announced that what was unfolding in Ukraine was indeed a “war,” effectively closing the straits to the warships of belligerents. Erdoğan on Monday gave his implicit blessing to the decision by declaring how Turkey intends to continue to implement the convention in a manner to prevent crisis escalation, underlining that Turkey desires peace in the region. He expressed disappointment that Turkey’s offers of mediation/arbitration did not bear fruit and that Turkey does not wish to give up good relations with both countriesKemal KirişciErdoğan’s straits of indecision in the Russia-Ukraine war

Bruegel

After a turbulent winter that began with very low gas storage levels and has continued with historically low supplies from Russia, the European Union will make it through until the summer on the back of record-high LNG imports. The urgent question is what comes next? How can the EU better prepare for next winter in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? Preparations must be made for a complete termination of all Russian gas flows to EuropePreparing for the first winter without Russian gas

In the days before Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, the United States and its European allies announced stringent economic sanctions on Russia, including its energy sector. Germany, for its part, formally suspended approval of the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline, owned by Russia’s state-owned gas company, designed to deliver Russian gas to Germany. The question now is whether and how Moscow will retaliate. There is a growing fear across the continent that Russia could hit back at Europe where it hurts most: cutting off countries that depend most on Russian natural gasThe Kremlin’s gas wars

CSIS

Within hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reports began to emerge of serious harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure, including apartment buildings and hospitals damaged by Russian forces, and even a preschool being hit by cluster munitionsReports from Kharkiv on February 28 indicated large-scale attacks on the commercial district of that city. Marti Flacks: Will There Be Accountability for Russian Abuses in Ukraine?

CSIS’s Andrew Lohsen, who lived in Ukraine until recently, joins the podcast to discuss Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and how it might backfire on himPutin’s Gross Miscalculation

Defense News

Italy on Monday joined a long list of countries promising weaponry to Ukraine as the East European country defends itself against an invasion by Russia. The pledge by Rome took the number of nations in line to deliver military hardware and funding to Kyiv to over a dozen, including the United States and CanadaTom KingtonItaly joins growing list of weapon donors to help Ukraine’s defense

The U.S. for the first time has approved the direct delivery of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine as part of a package approved by the White House last week. During the Cold War, the CIA covertly supplied Stingers to Afghan guerrillas fighting Russian forces. Now Ukrainian forces locked in an intensifying fight to repel Russia will get more of the shoulder-fired weapon, which has a 4-kilometer range

Defense One

Russia has not yet brought its cyber “A-game” to its invasion of Ukraine, but the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee expects that to change—possibly triggering a wider conflict. Meanwhile, Ukraine is working with SpaceX to boost its internet resiliency and is calling for volunteers for an “IT army.”. Patrick Tucker: Ukraine Braces for Sharper Russian Cyber Attacks

As intense fighting continues in Ukraine, the country is offering Russian troops amnesty and money to surrender, Ukraine’s defense ministry said Monday on its official social media channels. “We offer Russian soldiers a choice: to die in an unjust war, or full amnesty and 5 million rubles of compensation if they put down their guns and voluntarily surrender to prison,” the ministry said on its official Facebook page and Twitter account. Tara Copp: Ukraine Offers to Pay Russians Who Surrender, While Pentagon Assesses Moscow’s Nuke Posture

Nextgov

As Russia uses technology to advance its invasion of Ukraine, the goal of aligning U.S. and European policy approaches has taken on new urgency but remains—as ever—beyond reach. “I’m arguing with Europeans these days on whether cloud services providers in Europe should not only have to localize data, but [also] be 61% European-owned, right when this whole idea of an open and universal and interoperable internet is really under pressure on many fronts,” said Peter Harrell, senior director for international economics and competitiveness at the White House. “I think it’s important we have this conversation today … the kind of crisis in Russia really crystallizes what’s actually a broader and longer, longer-term challenge.”. Mariam Baksh: US-EU Alignment on Tech Policy Shaky in Face of Russian Aggression

U.S. federal law enforcement warned on Saturday that destructive “wiper” malware aimed at Ukraine government and critical infrastructure systems by Russia could spill over into other countries and pose risks to the United States. In an Feb. 26 alert, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency shared details on the destructive malware being observed in Ukraine, noting that the campaign targets Windows-based networks, and is designed to render systems inoperable by compromising the master boot record, potentially leading to the destruction or unavailability of system dataAdam MazmanianCISA, FBI Warn on Cyber Threats Targeting Ukraine

New U.S. sanctions on Russia will encompass Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, according to a speech U.S. President Joe Biden gave on Feb. 24, 2022. In response to these sanctions, the head of Roscosmos on the same day posted a tweet saying, among other things, “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?”Wendy Whitman CobbRussian Invasion of Ukraine and Resulting US Sanctions Threaten the Future of the International Space Station

The Interpreter

Vladimir Putin’s second invasion of Ukraine has not gone to plan. He has overestimated the capability of his own armed forces, while underestimating the strength of Ukrainian resistance, and the unity of the Western response. After failing to take Kyiv with a lightning raid that would have forced Ukraine to sue for peace, his army is getting bogged down. And while he retains the upper hand in terms of qualitative military superiority, he faces the prospect of a long insurgency against a Ukrainian population and military that have proven more than keen to fight. Matthew Sussex: Ukraine: what are Putin’s options now?

It wasn’t that long ago that sanctions busting was a relatively straightforward, if risky, gig. As Australian wheat exporter AWB showed when Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was under sanction in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was a case of lining up a few officials, throwing in some kickbacks and getting creative on payment terms. Not cheap or easy, but not beyond major organisations such as governments and multinationals. These days, it’s clearly more complicated. But the means are still there. And Vladimir Putin is well aware of them. JJ Rose: Will cryptocurrency allow Russia to bust sanctions?

On the morning of 26 February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a short video on social media from outside of his office. His face looked exhausted after another sleepless night in the capital of Kyiv where Russian forces tried to enclose the government quarter. Zelensky is apparently their primary target but he refused to leave for a safer place. “Much fake information is circulating that I’m calling our army to lay down the arms, and I’m being evacuated,” he said smiling. “I’m here. We will defend our country because our weapon is our truth. Our truth is that it’s our land.”. Bermet Talant: Russia is losing the information war

The Jamestown Foundation 

On February 21, a few days before Russia launched its large-scale re-invasion of Ukraine, 53 political and non-governmental organizations registered in Georgia published an “open letter” to Russian President Vladimir Putin requesting that he help them achieve a “neutral status” for their country (Radiotavisupleba.ge, February 21). The vast majority of the organizations and persons who signed the letter to Putin were still unknown to the Georgian public and expert community. The only major exception on this list was Irma Inashvili’s Alliance of Patriots (AP) party (Netgazeti, February 21). Giorgi Menabde: Russian Aggression Against Ukraine Activates Pro-Russian Groups in Georgia

On February 26, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka expressed anger about President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine rejecting the idea of the Ukrainian delegation coming to Minsk right away to hold talks with the Russians. “Listen, Kyiv is actually surrounded, and they are pontificating. People are dying, and they are still ranting,” Lukashenko said indignantly (Lenta, February 26). Subsequently, the city of Gomel was proposed as the venue for the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations, but the Ukrainian side rejected the idea (Interfax, February 27), only to change its mind after Lukashenka spoke with Zelenskyy directly. Grigory Ioffe: Alyaksandr Lukashenka and the War in Ukraine

Russia’s war in Ukraine—or as President Vladimir Putin has termed it, “special military operation” (Kremlin.ru, February 24)—not only spotlights the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation but also lays bare the apparent lengths Moscow is ready to go to when confident of its supposed righteousness and impunity. Maxim StarchakRussian Strategy and Strategic Capabilities in the War With Ukraine

The Strategist

When the United States offered to evacuate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky two days after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of his country, he replied, ‘The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.’. Many of the fence-sitting Western democracies have now agreed to provide that ammunition, including Germany, which has abandoned its ludicrous position that it was somehow legitimate to sell weapons to Middle Eastern autocracies but not to a neighbouring democracy that is fighting for its life. Marcus Hellyer: Australian Spike missiles could have helped Ukraine, but they’re not even being built yet

As 2021 drew to a close, the prospect of a full-scale war in Europe appeared unlikely to most, if not unfathomable. What a difference two months can make. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has set in motion an urban conflict between Europe’s two largest states the likes of which has not been seen since World War II. Andrew Heiner: Preparing for the next phase in the Ukrainian conflict

No one who has observed Indonesian foreign and strategic policy probably needs reminding of how differently Jakarta sees and engages with the world to the way Australia does. But in responding to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal and indefensible assault on Ukraine, Indonesia’s foreign ministry has reminded us anyway. The official statement from Indonesia’s foreign ministry (Kemlu) is a masterpiece of its genreIndonesia’s wholly inadequate response to Russia’s war on Ukraine

AFRICA

Brookings

At the beginning of 2020, national school feeding programs were delivering school meals to more children than at any time in human history, making school feeding the most extensive social safety net and the largest multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral program in the world. In fact, more than 65 million children received school meals across Africa in 2019, a massive increase from 38.4 million in 2013, according to the latest edition of the African Union Biannual Report on School Feeding in AfricaBoitshepo Bibi GiyoseCarmen Burbano de Lara, and Donald A.P. BundyGovernments across Africa are rebuilding home-grown school feeding (HGSF) programs to help their recovery from the pandemic

AUSTRALIA-USA

The Interpreter

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has seen a return to the political alignments of the 20th century, with the United States as the leader of a grouping of democracies against a Russian dictatorship uneasily partnered with China. But Donald Trump has offered a radically different response, expressing his admiration of Putin’s “genius”, a description he has also applied to himself. John Quiggin: What if Trump wins again?

BELARUS – EUROPE

Defense News

The European Union has voiced its worries over Sunday’s Belarusian referendum which enables the authorities there to modify the constitution’s article describing Belarus as a “nuclear-free zone” and a “neutral” state, potentially allowing Russia to deploy additional nuclear weapons along NATO’s eastern flank. Josep Borrell, the head of the European Union’s foreign affairs and security policy, said in a tweet Monday the vote was carried out by Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko “to gain additional tools to further consolidate his power.”Jaroslaw AdamowskiEU decries potential Russian nuclear weapons deployment after Belarus referendum

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

Brookings

Inflation has defied expectations everywhere. Half of all inflation-targeting central banks in developing economies now face inflation rates above their target range. Economic growth is slowing in low- and middle-income economies. And a cycle of monetary-policy tightening has begun that already is unlike any in recent memory. A month from now, the U.S. central bank is expected to raise interest rates, and investors are bracing for a big increase—the largest in more than 20 years. Indermit Gill: Developing economies face a rough ride as global interest rates rise

IRAN

The Strategist

Forty-three years ago, Iranians took to the streets to celebrate the end of the shah’s regime and welcome the return of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who, in exile, had become the shah’s leading critic. Iranians opposed the shah for many reasons. Political dissidents despised his human rights abuses. Many Iranians felt left behind by the booming oil economy. The shah’s liberal reforms chafed religious conservatives. Khomeini himself had gone into exile after opposing the shah’s embrace of religious equality, secular education and women’s enfranchisement. Michael Rubin: Iranians are clear: the Islamic regime has lost legitimacy

NORTH AMERICA

Brookings

In January 2021, Brookings launched the USMCA initiative. Created as a multiyear project, the USMCA initiative focuses on key developments, identifying how the 2018 trade agreement could create a more competitive, inclusive, and sustainable North American economy. Following USMCA-related issues, such as labor rights and environmental commitments, the initiative utilizes Brookings’ reputation as a world-class non-partisan public policy research organization to identify the many ways USMCA can strengthen and deepen North American economic relationsUSMCA Forward: Building a more competitive, inclusive, and sustainable North American economy

NORTH KOREA

North Korea said Monday it tested cameras to be installed on a spy satellite, a suggestion that it’ll likely soon conduct a banned long-range rocket launch to modernize its weapons arsenal and apply more pressure on the Biden administration. The United Nations and others view a satellite launch by North Korea as a cover for tests of missile technology, as ballistic missiles and rockets in satellite liftoffs share similar bodies, engines and other technology. Concerns about a North Korean satellite launch flared after it recently threatened to lift a four-year moratorium on big weapons tests to cope with what it called U.S. hostility. Hyung-jin Kim, AP: North Korea says it tested cameras for spy satellite

PAKISTAN – USA

East Asia Forum 

Wading through Pakistan-US relations and keeping them on track, even at the best of the times, is a challenge. The nature of and the confusion emanating from the American withdrawal from Afghanistan has further exposed the brittleness of this relationship. The Taliban victory is seriously testing Pakistan’s long fraught bilateral relationship with America. Sajjad Ashraf: Pakistan and the United States are turning into strangers

USA

Brookings

School teachers have dominated news headlines in the past month. On the heels of the omicron variant surge, many teachers, parents, and school leaders are exhausted. Whether it is adapting on the fly to new safety protocols, finding child care when schools close due to COVID-19 outbreaks or inclement weather, growing external pressure about what should be taught in public schools (and how), or simply finding time to rest and recharge in year two of a seemingly relentless pandemic, everyone involved in the care and education of children is stressed. Teaching has long been a uniquely challenging profession to be sure; the recent perfect storm of a pandemic, an increasingly hostile and partisan political climate, and a general reckoning of racial injustice have only amplified those challengesSeth GershensonMichael Hansen, and Constance A. LindsayPrioritize educator diversity to address racial injustices

Defense News

In Norse mythology, the thunder god Thor used his legendary hammer Mjölnir to slay giants. In the Avengers films, it was wielded by superheroes to battle the evil Thanos. But the Air Force is now working on its own Mjölnir, one it hopes will prove to be a revolutionary drone killer. Stephen Losey: Killing drones with Thor’s hammer: Air Force eyes counter-UAS ‘Mjölnir’ weapon

A defense-contracting giant and a software powerhouse are now working together on 5G technologies meant to bolster U.S. military communications. The collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Microsoft focuses on the intersection of the former’s hybrid base station, a multi-network gateway and cell tower in a box, and the latter’s Azure cloud services, according to a Feb. 27 bulletin. Colin Demarest: Lockheed and Microsoft collaborating on 5G military tech

The Space Development Agency announced prototype agreements with three companies to develop a total of 126 communication satellites that will lay the foundation of the agency’s networked data transport architecture. The other transaction agreements, which total about $1.8 billion, went to York Space Systems, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, each to develop 42 satellites to build out SDA’s Transport Layer. That layer will be composed of a mesh network of communication satellites connected by optical links that allow them to transfer data from space sensors to the ground. Courtney Albon: Space Development Agency awards $1.8 billion to build out satellite communications layer

Palantir Technologies recently received a $34 million order supporting the modernization of a military network used to relay information across the globe. The Army Intelligence Data Platform deal includes software, training, cybersecurity activities and help with testing and initial standup of the capability, the Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors said in an announcement Feb. 22. Colin Demarest: Palantir scores $34M order for Army data platform (defensenews.com)

Nextgov

A federal grand jury indicted the founder of a cryptocurrency investment and trading platform on charges related to fraud and creating a “global Ponzi scheme.”. 36-year-old Indian national Satish Kumbhani is the founder of BitConnect, an online trading platform for investors to exchange virtual currencies. Kumbhani allegedly misled investors about BitConnect’s lending operations, which were said to have used proprietary technology that gave crypto investors large returns on market transactions. Alexandra Kelley: Founder of Crypto Trading Platform BitConnect Indicted for $2 Billion ‘Global Ponzi Scheme’

USA – CHINA

East Asia Forum 

Fifty years on from what US president Richard Nixon called ‘the week that changed the world’, it is appropriate to recall one of the most radical policy turnarounds of all time. Nixon’s opening to Communist China reversed two decades of animosity and war, containment, isolation and non-recognition, two crises in the Taiwan Strait and threats of nuclear attack. Evelyn Goh: 50 years on: changing China policy

On 28 February 1972, the United States and China issued the Shanghai Communique. The document marks a pivotal moment in the history of China’s modern international relations, comparable to its historical treaties at Nerchinsk, Nanjing and Shimonoseki. Sourabh Gupta: The Shanghai Communique’s relevance endures in an age of US–China strategic competition

USA – PACIFIC

Defense News

The U.S. Marine Corps this week will officially stand up its first Marine littoral regiment, a linchpin of its plans to conduct small-unit expeditionary advanced base operations and to move high-end gear into and throughout the Pacific. Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith told reporters the 3rd Marine Regiment in Hawaii will on March 3 officially be redesignated the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment. The MLR will be subdivided into numerous EABO units of about 75 to 100 Marines, each highly trained in and equipped for their particular mission area. Megan Eckstein: Standup of Marine littoral regiment will usher new gear into Pacific theater

USA – RUSSIA

Defense One

The United States and Russia are maintaining their peaceful, working relationship in space despite the crisis in Ukraine, a senior NASA official said on Monday—but America’s space agency is weighing its options if Russia does not hold firm on its responsibilities associated with the International Space Station. Brandi Vincent: Despite U.S.-Russia Tensions, the First All-Commercial Flight to ISS is Still On