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Open newsletter – march 18, 2022 a.m.

AFRICA

  • Migration linked to climate change—often presented as a devastating picture of the plight and flight of vulnerable Africans—is becoming a daily feature on the 24-hour news. While these graphic images are worth a thousand words, they are far removed from the complexity of the factors at play. The narrative often precludes a focus on long-lasting sustainable solutions. Simeon K. Ehui and Kanta Kumari Rigaud – Brookings – Climate migration—deepening our solutions

CHINA – PAKISTAN

  • Over a period of several months in 2019, Pakistani and international media shone a spotlight on cases of bride trafficking that had been taking place around the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the $62 billion flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The practice involved cases of fraudulent marriage between Pakistani women and girls — many of them from marginalized backgrounds and Christian families — and Chinese men who had travelled to Pakistan. The victims were lured with payments to the family and promises of a good life in China, but reported abuse, difficult living conditions, forced pregnancy, or forced prostitution once they reached China. Madiha Afzal – Brookings – Bride trafficking along the China-Pakistan economic corridor

DIGITAL – TECHNOLOGY – CRYPTOCURRENCIES – CYBER SECURITY – SPACE

MALI – WAGNER GROUP

  • America’s top commander for Africa said Thursday he personally urged Mali’s ruling military junta not to invite in Russian mercenaries the Wagner Group before it did just that. The West African country’s transitional government has reportedly allowed in as many as 1,000 mercenaries from the Russian private contractor since December, highlighting competing efforts by Russia and the U.S. to wield influence in the region. The private military company has been linked by the U.S. government to a former Russian intelligence officer with deep Kremlin connections. Joe Gould – Defense News – AFRICOM’s chief warned Mali about the Wagner Group. It didn’t work

RUSSIA – UKRAINE (impact, reactions, consequences)

  • China’s close relationship with Russia means it’s better positioned than most countries to help negotiate the end of the war in Ukraine, but experts said Thursday that even Beijing is unlikely to be able to stop Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s siege that has killed or injured more than 2,000 civilians. President Xi Jinping’s role in ending the war, which has lasted three weeks so far, is expected to be a topic of discussion when he speaks with President Joe Biden on Friday, the first time the two leaders will speak directly since a virtual call in November. Jacqueline Feldscher – Defense One – Don’t Expect China to Save Ukraine

  • The European Space Agency has suspended its joint program with Russia to send a rover to Mars, citing the “impossibility” of working with the government that launched a war on Ukraine. Tara Copp – Defense One – A Planned Mars Rover Is the Latest Victim of Russia’s War on Ukraine
  • Most discussions of “great power competition” have mentioned the three great powers themselves: the United States, China, and Russia. But the pitiful performance of Russia’s Potemkin military during its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has revealed Moscow as little more than a second-rate power. The demotion of one great power is more than semantics; it presages an accelerated competition between the remaining two. Colin P. Clarke – Defense One – How Russia’s War in Ukraine will Accelerate U.S.-China Competition
  • A stop to Russian oil and coal supplies would push Europe into a short and painful adjustment period. But if managed well, disruptions would remain temporary.   – Bruegel – Can Europe manage if Russian oil and coal are cut off?
  • India’s disagreements with Russia’s actions are being overridden by more immediate security interests. Aaditya Dave – RUSI – India’s Diplomatic Tightrope on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
  • The panel discusses the significance of the Russian invasion on Ukraine’s southern front and implications for the Black Sea region. Chatham House – War on Ukraine: Storm on the Black Sea
  • On 24 Feb 2022, President Putin commenced a “special military operation” against Ukraine attacking airports and military headquarters. Tanks and troops rolled in from Russia, Russian-controlled Crimea and Belarus[1].Three main thrusts[2] by the Russian army were over land into North Ukraine (from Russia/ Belarus) towards Kyiv, into north east Ukraine (from Russia) towards Kharkiv/Donbass and into southern coast of Ukraine from Crimea. The thrust from the south (Crimea) was leading west towards Odessa port and to the east towards Mariupol port to the east. Shashank Sharma – VIF – Russo-Ukraine Conflict – View from the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean
  • On 21st February 2022, President Vladimir Putin recognised the independence of Ukraine’s breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk and decided to support Moscow-backed separatists with a military operation [1]. Three days later, when Russia started its air and missile strikes in Ukraine’s Donbas region, ittransformed into a full-blown war[2]. The attack led to strong condemnation from most Western countries, followed by economic sanctions. As the economic sanctions imposed by both US and EU failed to persuade Russia from withdrawing its troops, on 27th February, US and 94 countries called an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly, the first emergency meeting in 40 years. The goal of the motion was to adopt a resolution condemning Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine as violating Article 2, paragraph 4 of the Charter of the United Nations. Samir Bhattacharya – VIF – Russia-Ukraine Crisis: Where do African Countries Stand?
  • Western reactions to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine have notably included provisions of lethal military equipment to the besieged country. These donations are crucial not only to Ukraine’s successful defense but also for securing the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and deterring further westward incursions by Russia. From the perspective of decision-makers in Moscow, NATO’s level of determination in backing Ukraine translates directly to the resilience of the Alliance’s eastern frontiers. Jakub Bornio – The Jamestown Foundation – Transfer of Polish Fighter Jets to Ukraine: An Attempt to Internationalize the War? (Part Two)
  • Russia’s failed attempts to seize major Ukrainian cities continue to attract attention (see EDM, March 16), but Moscow has gone a long way toward achieving one of its key war aims elsewhere. In the southeastern portion of Ukraine, it has taken control of a land corridor between the Russian Federation and Russian-occupied Crimea, along the shore of the Sea of Azov, something Russian officials say Moscow has no intention of giving up even when combat operations end. This move is geopolitically important for three reasons. Paul Globe – The Jamestown Foundation – Russian Forces Claim Control of Land Corridor to Occupied Crimea, but Face Vehement Ukrainian Resistance
  • A fourth round of Russian-Ukrainian “peace” negotiations started on March 14 and is continuing as of today (March 17), the 21st day of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine’s interior. Russia’s deliberate attacks on Ukrainian population centers and civilian infrastructure, its superior firepower, and its seizure of sizeable chunks of Ukrainian territory has compelled President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to initiate these negotiations. Kyiv’s uppermost goal was a ceasefire, but Russia refuses it and is likely to continue the hostilities—prioritizing civilian targets—unless and until Kyiv offers major political concessions. Vladimir Socor – The Jamestown Foundation – Russia Smashing Ukraine Into Pax Russica
  • As the world sees the impact of Russian aggression in Ukraine, and particularly the wanton slaughter of civilians by Russian forces, European and American audiences are searching for a way to put additional pressure on Russia to end the war. Sanctions, despite their undeniable effect on the Russian economy, are insufficiently instantaneous and emotionally unsatisfying. And so like the title monsters in a bad zombie movie, the no-fly zone has become the idea that will not die. In this fantasy story, the no-fly zone has become a method of mitigating the effects on civilians while supporters of the idea cling to the pretense that it “might” not escalate or, in one particularly inexplicable falsehood, that “a no-fly zone would not make NATO a direct combatant.” Views like these are a dangerous fantasy, and serve only to obscure the three central facts about a no-fly zone option in Ukraine: a no-fly zone is inherently escalatory, it will have little effect in protecting Ukrainian civilians from attack, and it is likely to be ineffective militarily. Instead, the no-fly zone is about the worst way for NATO to enter the war on Ukraine’s side, delivering a risky and poorly matched airpower option in place of an appropriate use of airpower to smash adversary combat capabilities. – Modern War Institute – Inherently Escalatory: The No-Fly Zone in Ukraine
  • As we see the Russian invasion continue, all of us are witnessing the fastest-growing refugee flow in modern history. As we write these lines, over 3.1 million Ukrainians have fled their homes seeking refuge in other countries—nearly 2 million of them to Poland, representing an about 5 percent increase in its population. Countries like Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia are also receiving large, unprecedented numbers of refugees in relation to their populations.  Dany BaharChris Parsons, and Pierre-Louis Vezina – Brookings – Countries should seize the opportunity to take in Ukrainian refugees—it could transform their economies
  • Billions of people around the world are watching helplessly as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine accelerates into its third week, continuing to kill more innocent people every day, while destroying infrastructure throughout the country and forcing millions of refugees into neighboring European countries. Robert E. Litan – Brookings – Russia can be made to pay for Ukraine damage now

UK 

  • How essential are satellite communications to defence? What is the difference between a military and a commercial satellite? And what are the UK’s SATCOM capabilities right now? RUSI – Episode 8: Why Comms is Key
  • New economic crime legislation is welcome, but without bolder systemic reforms it will have little impact on the UK’s dirty money problem. Helena Wood, Kathryn Westmore and Maria Nizzero – RUSI – The Economic Crime Act 2022: A Starting Point, Not an End

UK – POLAND

  • A British air-defense system that has only been in service for a few months is being deployed to Poland to bolster that country’s capabilities, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced during a visit to Warsaw March 17. The move is part of a wider upgrade of NATO assets in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, which has seen personnel and equipment deployed to the region to deter possible Russian aggression. Defense News – Britain sends its ‘Sky Sabre’ air-defense system to guard Polish skies

UK – USA

  • A joint British-U.S. effort to power drones using synthetic kerosene have taken a step forward with a 20 minute flight of a test vehicle, the Ministry of Defence here said March 16. British company C3 Biotechnologies, supported by the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Navy, produced 15 liters of fuel in a laboratory to test the engine and undertake a successful flight from an airfield in southwest England. Defense News – British-US team reports first drone flight on synthetic fuel

USA

  • Commercial satellite communications company OneWeb has stood up an American-based proxy board as the firm looks to expand its business to the U.S. military, intelligence community, and other federal agencies. The London-based company has named Sue Gordon, a former No. 2 official at the office of the director of national intelligence, the chair of the three-person panel. Richard Spencer, a former Navy secretary, and Ryan McCarthy, a former Army secretary, have also been named to the board. Marcus Weisgerber – Defense One – OneWeb Stands Up US Board As Communications Company Eyes American Business
  • The Federal Reserve faces substantial turnover at the top over the next year and half. President Joe Biden has three slots on the seven-member Federal Reserve Board to fill. Two of the 12 regional Fed bank presidents will hit the mandatory retirement age early in 2023 (Chicago and Kansas City), and there is a vacancy at the Dallas Fed. David Wessel – Brookings – Who has to leave the Federal Reserve next?
  • The government-sponsored housing finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) were rescued with large taxpayer injections of capital and placed into legal conservatorship during the financial crisis of 2008. They remain in conservatorship today, controlled on a daily basis by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) with the Treasury Department’s legally binding agreement (PSPA) giving Treasury substantial legal authority to go along with its ownership of 79.9 percent of each companies stock. Brookings’ Center on Regulation and Markets convened a diverse group of housing finance experts to discuss the future of the GSEs. This is a recap of that conversation. Aaron Klein – Brookings – Housing finance reform: The path forward gets rolling

USA – GREECE