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Cyber Security, Digital Transition, Technology Geopolitics & Worlds In-Defense In-Security Pensiero Strategico

Open newsletter – April 20, 2022

TODAY:

  • AROUND THE WORLD
  • DEFENSE – MILITARY
  • HORIZONS
  • TECH

 

AROUND THE WORLD

Arctic

  • April 20. By Valdai Discussion Club. Any approach to regional cooperation in the Arctic that excludes Russian involvement in the long term will be difficult. However, according to some Western analysts, if the nature of Russian policy does not change, the continuation of cooperation with Russia within the framework of the Arctic Council over the long term will be problematic, writes Natalya Vyakhireva, Expert and Program Manager of the RIAC. (read more)

Australia – Southeast Asia

China

  • April 20. By Kenton Thibaut, Atlantic Council. As China’s military and economic power has grown, so too has its investment in propaganda and influence operations. Following Xi Jinping’s rise to power and China’s adoption of a more confrontational foreign policy, the country saw a need to sway global public opinion in its favor. Beijing refers to this as “discourse power,” a strategy to increase China’s standing on the world stage by promoting pro-China narratives while criticizing geopolitical rivals. The end goal is to shape a world that is more amenable to China’s expressions, and expansion, of power. (read more)

China – Pacific

  • April 20. By , The Strategist. In the Xi Jinping era, the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries promotes the Belt and Road Initiative, a strategic, political and economic vehicle driving towards a China-centred global order. Commonly known as the Friendship Association, or Youxie, this vast network is managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and oversees relationships below the national level by leveraging links with sister cities and sister provinces and coordinating friendship associations and relations with pro-China elites in almost every country and territory. (read more)

China – Solomon Islands

  • April 20. By Al Jazeera. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has been defending the security pact his government signed with China on Tuesday. Sogavare told parliament the agreement with Beijing was necessary to deal with the Solomon Islands’s “internal security situation”. (read more)

El Salvador

  • April 20. By Al Jazeera. A group of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in El Salvador has asked the country’s judiciary to declare as unconstitutional recent law reform that journalists have warned could criminalise reporting on gangs. (read more)

India

  • April 20. By
  • April 20. By Niharika Rustagi, East Asia Forum. It has been 25 years since the Women’s Reservation Bill — a constitutional amendment proposing that 33 per cent of seats in India’s central and state assemblies be reserved for women — was first introduced to the Indian Parliament in 1996. The representation of women in different legislative bodies remains low across India. (read more)

Islamic State – Syria

Israel

  • April 20. By Agence France-Presse, Al Monitor. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday barred far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir from entering Muslim areas of Jerusalem’s Old City and holding a rally, in a bid to stem further violence. (read more)

Israel – Jordan

  • April 20. By Rina Bassist, Al Monitor. Jerusalem reacted angrily April 19, after Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh hailed Palestinian rioters in the Temple Mount compound. The riots broke out early Friday morning, with Palestinians hurling stones at the Western Wall Plaza below and barricading themselves in a building on the site. Police detained several hundred people, and at least 152 Palestinians were injured in clashes with the police. (read more)

Israel – Palestine

  • April 20. By Mark Muhannad Ayyash, Al Jazeera. Another Ramadan, another attack on Palestinian worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem. In explaining the Israeli attacks, the majority of Euro-American politicians, media analysts, and commentators, exemplified in this predictably inane CBC report, are emphasising the “high tensions” that come along with the confluence of three major religious events, and framing Israeli actions as a response to the “Palestinian terrorist attacks” in four Israeli cities. (read more)

Japan

  • April 19. By Masakazu Toyoda, East Asia Forum. Few people would have thought that the Ukraine crisis would come a few months after the COP26 climate conference. People around the world are now reflecting on the added complexity of achieving decarbonisation at the same time as ensuring energy security. (read more)

Libya

  • April 20. By Mustafa Fetouri, Al Monitor. Human rights violations, violence, forced disappearances, and murder have been a daily occurrence in Libya, without any accountability in most cases. Hundreds of activists, human rights campaigners, and lawyers, including women, have been killed or disappeared without a trace. (read more)

Lithuania

  • April 19. By World Nuclear News. Lithuania’s State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (Vatesi) recently issued two licences to the Ignalina nuclear power plant (INPP) to start industrial operation of solid radioactive waste management and storage facilities. It also granted a permit for the transportation of waste to a very-low-level radioactive waste repository. (read more)

Nigeria

  • April 20. By Al Jazeera. Nigeria’s air force has said it has ordered an inquiry after a military training aircraft crashed in the northwestern state of Kaduna, claiming two lives. (read more)
  • April 20. By Al Jazeera. Three people were killed and 19 injured after an explosion at a crowded market in Nigeria’s Taraba state in the country’s northeast, local police have said. (read more)

Pakistan

  • April 19. Unit 3 of the Karachi nuclear power plant in Pakistan passed acceptance tests on 18 April, marking the Chinese-supplied Hualong One reactor’s entry into commercial operation, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced. (read more)

Russia – Ukraine (impact, reactions, consequences)

  • April 20. By Al Jazeera. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has spoken with his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenge, for the first time as concerns persist in Washington that Beijing could provide military support to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the exchange on Wednesday between Austin and Wei was a “follow-up” to a call between US President Joe Biden and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping in March, in which the US leader warned that there would be “costs” if China supported Russia militarily. (read more)
  • April 20. By Al Jazeera. The United Nations’ refugee agency says more than five million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their country in less than two months since the Russian invasion, creating an unprecedented refugee crisis. The Geneva-based UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday said 5.01 million Ukrainians had left the country since Russia invaded on February 24. (read more)
  • April 20. By Al Jazeera. Politicians in Finland are due to start debating whether the country should seek membership in the NATO military alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted a spike in political and public support for joining the transatlantic bloc. The parliament session on Wednesday comes despite warnings by Russia of a nuclear buildup in the Baltic should Finland and neighbouring Sweden join NATO. (read more)
  • April 18. By Atlantic Council. Telegram channel MediaKiller, which was among a broader set that published a falsified BBC video on April 13, deliberately distorted a Ukrainian official’s comments in order to blame Ukraine for Russia’s invasion. In an April 13 interview with BBC Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said the country anticipated Russia to start its invasion on February 22. “To accuse us of not preparing is completely incorrect. We could not go out and publicly say to the population: ‘Friends, on February 22, the war begins.’ These are unacceptable things from the point of view of public administration. But we were preparing,” he said. However, Danilov said Ukraine did not expect Russian forces to attack from Belarusian territory.  (read more)
  • April 18. By Doug Klain, Atlantic Council. Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine War is not going according to plan, with Ukrainian forces rebuffing attempts to capture Kyiv and forcing a general Russian retreat from the north of the country. Nevertheless, there remains no end in sight to hostilities, with every indication that Moscow is preparing for a long campaign. As the Russian military begins a new offensive in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin is accelerating efforts to indoctrinate young Russians and consolidate the pro-war consensus on the domestic front for a further generation. (read more)
  • April 19. By Andrei Kolesnikov, Carnegie Moscow Center. A significant number of those Russians who support Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine vehemently refuse to listen to any arguments that would challenge their blinkered vision of the world. This is a sign of a society that is no longer authoritarian, but partly totalitarian, and accepts the state position as its own. (read more)
  • April 19. By Ladislav Zemanek, Valdai Discussion Club. The Ukrainian crisis has had multiple impacts on the international order but also on the relations between Russia and the European Union. The Czech Republic as one of the member states of both the EU and NATO plays a specific role in the recent development for it has been used as a “laboratory” of the de-Russification project. The process underwent several stages delimited by three major affairs in the last three consecutive years. The country´s example demonstrates a longer-term anti-Russian strategy which makes it a relevant study case to be explored. (read more)
  • April 20. By World Nuclear News. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the re-establishment of direct phone communication between the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) and Chernobyl was an “important step in the process of resuming Ukraine’s regulatory control of the site”. (read more)
  • April 20. By Hans-Christian Hagman, ORF. Although only two months have passed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine commenced, the impact has, indeed, been global on several levels. The world has been reminded of the horrors of war, of the heart-wrenching civilian plights and that some states must fight for their sovereignty, freedom, and right to exist. (read more)
  • April 19. By Jacqueline Feldscher, Defense One. Though France has been skeptical about growing the European Union in the past, Ukraine’s request for membership amid Russia’s invasion is “absolutely a game changer,” France’s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday. (read more)
  • April 20. By Vani Swarupa Murali, The Interpreter. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a food shortage – or crisis for some – in unexpected places across the world. For wheat, maize, barley and sunflower oil, Russia and Ukraine are among the biggest global producers. Russia is also the world’s top exporter of fertiliser and the war has resulted in a gridlock. Sanctions, import restrictions, damage to crucial infrastructure, a refugee crisis and supply chain disruptions are inflating food prices and diminishing stockpiles. (read more)
  • April 20. By Dominique Fraser, Juliette McIntyre, The Interpreter. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine has laid bare the brutality of the campaign, there have been increasing debates over whether it constitutes genocide. On 12 April, US President Joe Biden accused Russia of committing genocide, later clarifying that he “called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian”. (read more)
  • April 20. By , The Strategist. Wars seldom end in military victory so complete that losers simply accept the victors’ terms. The war in Ukraine is unlikely to end that way. Fighting will cease only if some agreement, formal or informal, is reached between the warring parties. (read more)
  • April 20. By Alexander Korolev, East Asia Forum. As the war in Ukraine drags on, the international community’s accusatory glare has extended beyond Russia to other states that allegedly support the war. China’s diplomatic dance to reconcile ‘respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty’ and ‘Russia’s legitimate security interests’ in Ukraine stands out in this regard. Given the gravity of the situation, the pressure on China from the United States and its allies to assign blame for the war is growing. (read more)
  • April 19. By Yunis Sharifli, The Jamestown Foundation. The Russo-Ukrainian war has cast doubt on the sustainability of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative’s (BRI) “Northern Corridor” because of mounting Western sanctions on this overland route’s key links—Russia and Belarus (see EDM, April 818). The growing vulnerability of the Northern Corridor, which carries the bulk of railway trade between China and the European Union, has led to new discussions about potential alternatives, particularly the so-called “Middle Corridor,” which traverses Central Asia and the South Caucasus, entirely bypassing Russian territory (AzerNews, March 17; Rail Turkey, March 22). (read more)
  • April 19. By Alla Hurska, The Jamestown Foundation. On February 24, without officially declaring war, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine (Dpsu.gov.ua, February 24). The aggressor attacked Ukraine by land, air and sea. But alongside those military operations, Russia continued to wage its warfare in the cyber and information domains. (read more)
  • April 19. By Paul Globe, The Jamestown Foundation. Moscow has long counted on young males from the North Caucasus to ensure that each seasonal Russian military draft is filled. Men from that region typically view military service as a social lift out of the extreme poverty most find themselves in, a way of displaying solidarity with their comrades who have chosen a life in uniform, and even as a manifestation of the martial traditions that many peoples in that region do not want to give up. One consequence of that is that North Caucasians are overrepresented in the Russian military, a pattern that puts them at risk of being the first victims of any serious conflict (see EDM, March 1). In the case of Ukraine, soldiers from the North Caucasus have been among the first to die; and their deaths are having an impact not only on the attitudes of their families and home republics about the war and military service in general, but also on Moscow and its approach to Ukraine and the military. (read more)

South Africa – Eswatini

  • April 20. By Thabi Myeni, Al Jazeera. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), South Africa’s third-largest political party, has organised peaceful protests along the country’s borders in the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces with the neighbouring Eswatini. (read more)

Sri Lanka

  • April 20. Al Jazeera. Police have kept up a curfew in central Sri Lanka, a day after the killing of an anti-government demonstrator triggered international condemnation. The government on Wednesday promised investigations into allegations that police used excessive force to disperse people protesting across the island against high fuel prices and demanding President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation over the worsening economic crisis. (read more)
  • April 20. By Al Jazeera. The International Monetary Fund said discussions with Sri Lanka on a potential IMF loan program are at an early stage and any deal would require “adequate assurances” that the island country’s debts can be put on a sustainable path. (read more)
  • April 19. By World Nuclear News. The visit to Sri Lanka by a team of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts was to review the country’s readiness to make a “knowledgeable commitment” to establishing a nuclear power programme. (read more)

Turkey

  • April 20. By Mustafa Sonmez, Al Monitor. Turkey’s galloping inflation, on course to top 100% in the fall, has been causing daunting income transfers from the poor to the rich, worsening further the income distribution gap in the country, economic data show. (read more)

UK 

  • April 19. By World Nuclear News. The chairman of Rolls-Royce SMR, Paul Stein, has told the Reuters news agency he hopes to get regulatory approval for its small modular reactor (SMR) design by mid-2024, with grid power able to be produced by 2029. (read more)

United Arab Emirates

  • April 20. By Adam Lucente, Al Monitor. The United Arab Emirates announced Tuesday a small increase in the non-oil sector’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

USA

  • April 20. By Frank Konkel, Nextgov. The Energy Department on Tuesday issued a request for information, or RFI, seeking input on $84 million in investment toward enhanced geothermal systems pilot demonstration projects. The funding, which stems from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, will support four competitively selected pilot projects with the goal of providing information that could spur the growth of geothermal energy. (read more)

USA – Iran

  • April 20. By Francesco Fontemaggi, Al Monitor. US President Joe Biden seems increasingly determined to keep the “terrorist” designation on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which Tehran is demanding be removed before it returns to a deal on curbing its nuclear program. (read more)

DEFENSE – MILITARY

  • April 20. By Atlantic Council. After a lengthy build-up—then delays prompted by Russia’s war in Ukraine—the public release of the next National Defense Strategy (NDS) is finally upon us. And although the full reveal is expected in the next few weeks, we have already received a glimpse at the contours of the document that will guide the Pentagon’s policy making over the coming years. (read more)
  • April 20. By Joe Gould, Defense News. The Defense Department has awarded the first contract of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative’s $300 million budget for this year, a $19.7 million deal with AeroVironment for a small, hand-launched surveillance drone called the RQ-20 Puma AE. (read more)
  • April 20. By Tayfun Ozberk, Naval News. The PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) just released a video showing the launch of a new hypersonic missile from a Type 055 cruiser. The missile is likely the Eagle Strike YJ-21… (read more)
  • April 20. By Xavier Vavasseur, Naval News. Indian shipbuilder Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) today launched “Vagsheer”, the final Scorpene type submarine for the Indian Navy. (read more)
  • April 20. By Naval News. Early-stage British maritime technology company Kraken Technology Group (KTG) announced on 19 April that it has completed a further private funding round to support development of its Kraken K50 precision engagement craft, prior to an anticipated priced investment round later this year. (read more)
  • April 20. By Naval News. At DIMDEX 2022 French countermeasures specialist Lacroix was showcasing its naval Decoy Launching Systems (DLS) with a real SYLENA MK2 as the centerpiece of its booth. (read more)
  • April 19. By Naval News. Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the grinding war that has followed, will be studied by war colleges for years, perhaps even decades. Among the many lessons learned during this conflict, one that will likely be most prominent is the vital importance of logistics in warfare. (read more)
  • April 19. By Naval News. The United States and NATO allies have completed the multinational exercise Northern Viking 2022 in Keflavik, Iceland. (read more)
  • April 19. By Naval News. Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) established a new international naval task force April 17 to enhance maritime security in the Red Sea region. (read more)
  • April 19. By Naval News. On April 18, Austal welcomed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison MP to the company’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia, where he announced that the Department of Defence will order two more Evolved Cape Class Patrol Boats (ECCPB) for the Royal Australian Navy, valued at $124 million. (read more)
  • April 19. By Marcus Weisgerber, Defense One. Rising inflation and pandemic supply chain disruptions could push the cost of the F-35 stealth fighter higher than expected, delaying the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin from reaching a deal for hundreds of new jets, company executives said. (read more)

HORIZONS

  • April 20. By , Project-Syndicate, The Strategist. Through no fault of their own, developing countries face a perfect storm of famine, political upheaval and debt crises. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Western-led sanctions it triggered are partly to blame, as are Covid-19 lockdowns in advanced economies, which deprived poor countries of vital tourism and export revenue. Millions of lives are now at risk, but mitigation is possible. It should start at this month’s spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. (read more)
  • April 19. By James Andrew Lewis, CSIS. Pursuing a balance of power was a central goal for diplomacy in the great power competition of the nineteenth century. A balance of power meant preserving a rough parity with potential opponents, using alliances and military expansions. Alliances and military parity created stability. The objective was not to allow any single actor to dominate others. As a shaping concept for policy, balance of power has fallen into disuse. But it can provide a framework for the comparison of the relative strengths of states or groups of states, somewhat akin to the old Soviet concept of “correlation of forces.”. (read more)

TECH

  • April 19. By Alexandra Kelley, Nextgov. Officials within the Department of Energy are looking to apply practical uses of artificial intelligence technology to helping underserved communities. Speaking during a FedScoop discussion panel, Pamela Isom, the director of the Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office at Energy, explained the importance of using AI technology to strategically help, as it becomes more and more ubiquitous in daily life. (read more)