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

Open newsletter – April 30, 2022

TODAY:

  • AROUND THE WORLD
  • DEFENSE – MILITARY – SPACE
  • HORINZONS
  • TECH & CYBER

 

AROUND THE WORLD

Arctic

  • April 26. By Jean-Louis Lozier, IFRI. Through multiple international initiatives, including the creation of the Arctic Council at the end of the Cold War in 1996, the Arctic appears to be one of the last areas of peaceful cooperation in the world. This “Arctic exception” is also devoid of any serious territorial dispute between the neighboring countries, some of which are nevertheless great powers: Russia, the United States, Canada, but also Sweden, Norway, Denmark (via Greenland), Iceland and Finland. (read more)

China

  • April 29. By John S. Van Oudenaren, The Jamestown Foundation. The Chinese government is currently focused on sustaining its “dynamic clearance” zero-COVID strategy, while also mitigating the negative externalities of this approach, including shortfalls in food supply and access to medical services in Shanghai and other major urban centers (China Brief, April 8). Last Friday, netizens temporarily overwhelmed censors on WeChat to widely share the video- “Voices of April” (四月之声, si yue zhi sheng), which highlights the nightmarish lockdown experiences of many Shanghai residents (China Digital Times, April 23, 2022). Mounting popular frustration with the government’s pandemic response underscores how environmental factors, which include not only diseases but also natural disasters, threaten the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) political standing. Water-related disasters such as the severe flooding that devastated Henan province last summer, and the extended drought that hit southeast China beginning in late 2020 are a rising risk due to climate change and extensive environmental degradation in China (Xinhuanet, July 31, 2021; Sina, December 9, 2021). (read more)
  • April 29. By Amrita Jash. At the fifth session of the 13th National People’s Congress in early March, the Chinese government announced a defense budget of 1.45 trillion yuan (about $229 billion) for fiscal year 2022, which is a 7.1 percent year-on-year increase from 2021 (Xinhua, March 5). After years of double digit increases in the 2000s and early 2010s, this is the seventh consecutive year that China’s defense spending has grown by single digits. Nevertheless, China has moved up in the global defense spending rankings, and is now second only to the United States in expenditures. In the Indo-Pacific region, China’s military spending increasingly dwarfs that of its neighbors. For example, China now spends more on its military than Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and India combined (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute [SIPRI], April 2021). For instance, at $229 billion, China’s military spending is three times that of India’s $70 billion figure for 2022 (The Economic Times, March 5). (read more)
  • April 29. By Lars Oehler, Mathias Lund Larsen, The Jamestown Foundation. Across the world, energy investments are gradually shifting towards renewables as part of commitments to curb global warming. In this trend, China is seen as both a climate hero and a climate criminal – the country is simultaneously by far the largest investor in both renewable energy and coal power (IEA, June, 2021). As China’s global role expands, its energy investments have an increasing impact outside its borders. However, there is a significant difference in the proportion of fossil fuels and renewables in China’s domestic energy development, and in its overseas energy investments. China invests in both renewables and fossil power generation domestically, but a clear majority of its investment is in clean energy. Yet, overseas, fossil fuel power generation comprises the majority of Chinese investment (Fudan University, February 2). According to a recent study by the authors, an often overlooked reason for this disparity is the nature of the Chinese financial system. This highlights the need for Chinese government intervention to align energy investment with the goals of the Paris Agreement. [1] This discrepancy is also particularly notable as Chinese President Xi Jinping stipulated in his September 2021 UN General Assembly address that China would cease construction of new coal power plants overseas, but did not provide a timeline for doing so (State Council Information Office. October 27, 2021; CGTN, September 22, 2021). (read more)

China – NATO

  • April 29. By Jagannath Panda, The Jamestown Foundation. On March 15, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg called on China to withdraw its support for Russia and to condemn its “brutal” invasion of Ukraine (NATO, March 15). The next day, the nationalistic state media outlet Global Times issued a scathing criticism of NATO as a “puppet” of the United States that is “stained with blood” (Global Times, March 16). China’s aversion to NATO is hardly new. However, as China continues to rise and the global center of gravity shifts to the Indo-Pacific region, Beijing’s fears that U.S. is seeking to establish an “Asian NATO” via partnerships like the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), have also increased (China Daily, June 6, 2004; Global Times, October 11, 2020). Concurrently, China’s exponential rise, its coercive behavior and Beijing’s ‘special’ relationship with Moscow have significantly altered its relationship with NATO. (read more)

Ethiopia

  • April 29. By US Department of State. Millions of people in Ethiopia continue to face acute food insecurity and extreme hunger as a direct result of conflict. (read more)

Europe

  • April 29. By Thomas Gomart, Dorothée Schmid (et al.), IFRI. Relations between southern European member states have often been marked by a loose cooperation or, worse, by logics of competition. Precisely when regional groupings within the European Union are increasingly shaping the agenda, these dynamics have hindered the capacity of France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain to pursue shared interests and objectives, while acting as a force for good for the European integration project. Recent events such as the post-pandemic recovery or the war in Ukraine show that, when cooperation occurs, positive results can be achieved. (read more)
  • April 29. By , Bruegel. The European Union should apply a tariff on imports of Russian oil; it can be accompanied by a quota for a gradual, conditional phase-out of all Russian oil imports. (read more)
  • April 29. By Simone Tagliapietra, Bruegel. As energy security risks increase, European governments must stop subsidising oil and gas, and ask people to consume less. (read more)
  • April 29. By , Bruegel. Policymakers must think coherently about the joint implications of their actions, from sanctions on Russia to subsidies and transfers to their own citizens, and avoid taking measures that contradict each other. This is what we try to do in this Policy Contribution, focusing on the macroeconomic aspects of relevance for Europe. (read more)

Europe – China

  • April 25. By John Seaman, Francesca Ghiretti, Lucas Erlbacher, Xiaoxue Martin, Miguel Otero-Iglesias, (eds.) with Marie Krpata, IFRI. The idea that Europe has grown dependent on China is now a common refrain, but just how is this notion understood in capitals across the continent? (read more)

France

  • April 29. By Rakesh Sood, ORF. France has voted, Europe is relieved, and the French President needs to move fast to douse the flames of polarisation. (read more)

India

  • April 29. By Sanjeev S. Ahluwalia, ORF. The Ukrainian crisis has negatively impacted the Indian economy, but the rising global demand and domestic fiscal management could help cushion the blow. (read more)
  • April 29. By Ramanath Jha, ORF. Complications are arising over the need to establish special planning authorities (SPAs) within the physical boundaries of urban local bodies (ULBs). (read more)

India – West

  • April 29. By Harsh AV. Pant, ORF. India’s ties with Europe have grown notwithstanding its stance on Russia over Ukraine. (read more)

North Korea

  • April 29. By Victor Cha, Katrin Fraser Katz, CSIS. CSIS hosted a panel of experts—moderated by Victor Cha and featuring Ankit Panda, Joe Bermudez, Sue Mi Terry, and Markus Garlauskas—for a discussion of the impact of the recent surge in North Korea’s missile testing. The group discussed North Korea’s recent provocations and what they mean for its overall capabilities, what to expect next from North Korea, and steps Washington could take to strengthen its position vis a vis Pyongyang. The full video and transcript are available on the CSIS website. (read more)

Russia

  • April 29. By RUSI. Juliana Suess, Research Analyst and Policy Lead for Space Security, explores the impact of sanctions on Russia’s space programme in this week’s episode of RUSI Reflects. (more)

Russia – Ukraine

  • April 29. By Olga Khakova, Atlantic Council. With less than twenty-four hours of notice, Russia delivered on its promise to halt all natural gas exports to Poland and Bulgaria, launching a direct attack on European energy security and tarnishing the remnants of its spotty energy supplier reputation in the eyes of millions of Europeans. These unprecedented contractual breaches came on the heels of Russia’s warning that “unfriendly countries”—particularly those supporting sanctions against Russia and providing military and humanitarian support for Ukraine—must pay for natural gas imports in rubles, despite the fact that 97 percent of natural gas contracts were denominated in euros or dollars. (read more)
  • April 29. By Atlantic Council. On April 27, residents of Russian-occupied Kherson held a pro-Ukraine rally that ended with protesters being dispersed by tear gas and stun grenades. At least four people were injured. Later that night, starting around 11:00 p.m. local time (8:00 p.m. UTC), the first reports of explosions in the city began to appear on Telegram. Ukrainian outlet Pravda reported that an antenna was struck, resulting in residents losing the signal to Russian TV channels that began broadcasting one week ago. However, the TV channels resumed broadcasting almost immediately.  (read more)
  • April 29. By At least five states are sending aging M113 armored personnel carriers to Europe to support the Pentagon’s race to send equipment to Ukraine. As of Friday, the governors of Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia announced that, at the request of the Defense Department, they’re turning M113s from their fleets over to Ukraine. The aid stems from President Joe Biden’s announcement April 13 of an $800 million package that included 200 M113s, among more than a dozen other capabilities. (read more)
  • April 29. By Andrew White, Breaking Defense. The ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war represents the first time in recent history in which a well-equipped special operations force (SOF) has had to conduct ongoing, high intensity combat operations against a “peer” adversary. And SOF communities all around the world are taking note of both tactics and technology that are being employed. (read more)
  • April 29. By Aaron Klein, Brookings. With today’s update of the Brookings Sanctions Tracker, it is more clear than ever that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered a global response. Many of the world’s major democratic nations are engaging in economic warfare against Russia by implementing “the most comprehensive set of multilateral economic sanctions ever applied to a major global economy.”. (read more)
  • April 29. By IAEA. Ukraine formally informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today about the situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which is controlled by Russian forces but still operated by its Ukrainian staff, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said. (read more)
  • April 29. By Karolina Hird, Mason Clark, and George Barros, ISW. Russian forces made limited advances west of Severodonetsk on April 29 but remain stalled south of Izyum.Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine are likely successfully conducting a maneuver defense rather than holding static positions, redeploying mechanized reserves to resist attempted Russian advances. Concentrated Russian artillery is enabling minor Russian advances, but Ukrainian positions remain strong. Limited Ukrainian counterattacks around Kharkiv city may additionally force Russian forces to redeploy units intended for the Izyum axis to hold these positions. (read more)

Sri Lanka

  • April 29. By Roshni Kapur, ORF. The deteriorating economic crisis in Sri Lanka has grown into a political movement against the government who secured a landslide victory in the 2020 parliamentary elections. (read more)

Syria

  • April 29. By US Department of State. We strongly condemn the atrocities depicted in a recently released video, which appears to show blindfolded, unarmed civilians being shot point-blank by an Assad regime official before falling into a mass grave in Tadamon, Syria, during a 2013 massacre that reportedly killed hundreds of Syrian civilians. (read more)
  • April 29. By US Department of State. Representatives of the Arab League, Egypt, the European Union, France, Germany, Iraq, Jordan, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States met in Paris on April 28 to discuss Syria. (read more)

UK – India

  • April 29. By Harsh V. Pant, Vivek Mishra, ORF. The British government’s Integrated Review brought out in 2021 places a high priority on its partnership with India. (read more)

USA

  • April 29. By Patrick Tucker, Defense One. The swift backlash to a new federal anti-disinformation board shows how quickly misconceptions can spread—and also how the slow evolution of federal law is hampering efforts to counter them. On Wednesday, Department of Homeland Security leaders announced the formation of a Disinformation Governance Board to counter harmful false information aimed specifically at migrants. Such disinformation has “has helped to fuel sudden surges at the U.S. southern border in recent years,” according to an AP article on the new board. (read more)

USA – China – Pacific

  • April 29. By William Yuen Yee, The Jamestown Foundation. International attention has returned to the Pacific island countries (PICs) after China and the Solomon Islands signed a broad security agreement permitting Beijing to send its armed forces to the nation “to assist in maintaining social order” (CGTN, March 31; The Jakarta Post, April 1). Although the pact reportedly does not involve the immediate installation of a Chinese military base, the deal nevertheless sparked the anxieties of other key external actors in the PICs- the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, and provides a cautionary tale about the consequences of overlooking this strategic region (China Brief, February 25). In response, the Biden administration dispatched a coterie of senior officials to the region, including National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, who visited the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea (White House, April 18). The Solomon Islands now finds itself caught in the crossfire of U.S.-China competition, and it’s not the only one. Several other island countries including Tonga, Fiji, and Kiribati have also emerged as flashpoints in this rapidly escalating great-power contest that is playing out across the Pacific. (read more)

DEFENSE – MILITARY – SPACE

  • April 29. By Andrew Jones, SpaceNews. A Long March 2C rocket sent a pair of optical remote sensing satellites into orbit early Friday to provide commercial remote sensing imagery. (read more)
  • April 29. By  , SpaceNews. A pair of satellites from Malaysia and India are slated to launch in late June on the Ariane 5 rocket’s first flight of the year.  (read more)
  • April 29. By Jason Rainbow, SpaceNews. Saudi Arabian fleet operator Arabsat has ordered its first fully software-defined geostationary satellite to provide flexible coverage across the Middle East, Africa and parts of Europe. (read more)
  • April 29. By Jeff Foust, SpaceNews. Sierra Space says it is making good progress on its first Dream Chaser spaceplane as the company looks ahead to versions of the vehicle that can carry crews and perform national security missions. (read more)
  • April 29. By Xavier Vavasseur, Naval News. On 29 April, the first of the four force replenishment vessels (BRF – Bâtiments Ravitailleurs de Force in French) of the FLOTLOG program was launched in Saint-Nazaire. (read more)
  • April 29. By Naval News. Huntington Ingalls announced on 28 April that Virginia-class submarine New Jersey (SSN 796) was recently launched into the James River at the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division. (read more)
  • April 29. By Naval News. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Eglin’s Integrated Test Team demonstrated a new low-cost, air-delivered capability for defeating maritime threats April 28, 2022, that successfully destroyed a full-scale surface vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. (read more)
  • April 29. By Tayfun Ozberk, Naval News. Turkish state-owned ASFAT Inc. announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC), the government entity for the development of the Philippine aerospace industry, during ADAS (Asian Defense and Security) 2022 in Manila, Philippines. (read more)
  • April 29. By Marcus Weisgerber, Defense One. Well, here’s something new. As we close out earnings week for the big six U.S. defense companies, L3Harris Technologies is shaking up how they relay financials to investors. (read more)
  • April 29. By Colombia’s Air Force has chosen a mix of TA-50 and FA-50 Golden Eagles as its next jet trainers, military sources told Defense News. The Air Force plans to acquire at least 20 advanced jet trainers with air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities under a project estimated to be worth $600 million. (read more)
  • April 29. By U.S. Army officials say it’s too early to take definitive lessons from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though they are learning from the conflict. “We’re 61 days into a major ground combat operation in Europe. It gives us a really unique opportunity to see how ground combat could be fought in the future based on what we’re seeing today,” said Director of Intelligence and Security at Army Futures Command Ed Mornston at the GEOINT Symposium in Denver on April 25. “But it’s really early – in my mind – to say that we have learned anything that we are going to 100% export into future concepts or change the trajectory of our technology investments.”. (read more)
  • April 29. By The first of the U.S. Air Force’s new fleet of trainer jets, Boeing’s T-7A Red Hawk, was unveiled to the public in a rollout ceremony Thursday in St. Louis, Missouri. The event, held in a Boeing facility at Lambert International Airport, marked the first delivery of 351 planned T-7s, which will replace the more than 5-decade-old T-38 Talon aircraft. (read more)
  • April 29. By Naval Group Belgium inaugurated two new research-and-development laboratories in Brussels this week, focusing on novel mine countermeasures and cybersecurity, the company announced Thursday. Officials from across the Belgian Ministry of Defence joined senior Naval Group leaders at the company’s headquarters in the capital to formally launch the MCM Lab and the Cyber Lab. The two collaborative R&D centers are meant to bring together government, industry, and academic partners working on innovative solutions in the two capability areas, Naval Group said in a press release. (read more)
  • April  29. By Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday mused about a day when the U.S. Navy might be able to buy a dozen or more ships each year. The Navy would be given the funding levels, and the surface ship industrial base would have grown the capacity, to support building three destroyers a year, two or three frigates a year, an amphibious transport dock every other year, and a larger number of supply ships. But as he made clear in his remarks this week, that day is not today. (read more)
  • April 29. By
  • April 29. By Arie Egozi, Breaking Defense. Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel’s largest defense firm, is seeking to dramatically deepen its inroads in the US market, IAI President and CEO Boaz Levy told Breaking Defense in a recent interview. (read more)
  • April 29. By Theresa Hitchens, Breaking Defense. NATO is mulling a new, and somewhat surprising, effort to directly buy imagery from commercial providers in a move that industry sources say appears to have irked the US spy satellite agencies that have traditionally filled that role. Interested companies have until the close of business today to respond to NATO’s request for information (RFI). (read more)

HORIZONS

  • April 29. By Akhilesh Sati, Lydia Powell, Vinod Kumar, ORF. Reports of working groups I, II, and III to the sixth assessment report (AR6) of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) that assesses the scientific basis and impact of climate change to offer solutions were widely covered by the media in the last six months. The dominant reporting flavour was that of ‘climate doom’ with a focus on climate impacts in the worst-case scenario.  The key message conveyed was that unless sweeping technological, economic, and social transformations are made immediately climate catastrophe is assured.  The coverage of the report of working group III on mitigation of climate change was slightly more optimistic as it reflected technological optimism with the message that carbon emissions can be halved by 2030. The blame was assigned to countries and their leaders who were failing to act even though technology offered solutions. (read more)

TECH & CYBER

  • April 29. By The leader of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said American networks have yet to experience significant cyberattacks by Russian operatives amid the ongoing belligerence in Ukraine. “To date, we have not seen specific attacks on the U.S.,” CISA Director Jen Easterly said April 28. “What we are concerned about is the fact that Russia’s malicious cyber activity is part of their playbook.”. (read more)
  • April 29. By Mark MacCarthy, Brookings. Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter raises the issue of social media content moderation in an especially urgent form. Despite the regulations looming in the United Kingdom and the European Union, to which Musk’s Twitter must conform, no legal requirement will prevent Musk from running Twitter according to whatever editorial policy he chooses to adopt. It’s his candy store. (read more)
  • April 29. By Jessica Dawson and Tarah Wheeler, Brookings. The United States and China are increasingly engaged in a competition over who will dominate the strategic technologies of tomorrow. No technology is as important in that competition as artificial intelligence: Both the United States and China view global leadership in AI as a vital national interest, with China pledging to be the world leader by 2030. As a result, both Beijing and Washington have encouraged massive investment in AI research and development. (read more)
  • April 25. By Alice Pannier, IFRI. Computing power plays a key role in enabling data analytics and machine learning, in cybersecurity, for scientific research, and in military domains like nuclear warhead design and detonation simulation. (read more)