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

Open newsletter – march 21, 2022

AFGHANISTAN

  • In the middle of a bazaar in western Afghanistan, Arezo Akrimi takes out her smartphone and, after a few taps of the screen, changes some cryptocurrency for a bundle of hard cash. Akrimi, 19, is one of the 100 students in Herat receiving approximately $200 a month in cryptocurrency since September thanks to the American NGO Code To Inspire. Al Jazeera – Crypto provides fix for some in crisis-hit Afghanistan

AUSTRALIA

  • During World War II, hushed voices in Nazi-occupied Europe shared the words, ‘The Americans are coming!’ At the time, it was a message of hope among many Europeans who felt utterly helpless. February marked the 80th anniversary of the first Japanese bombing of Darwin Harbour in that same war, and both the Americans and Japanese are again coming, but under very different circumstances. Today, similar words are freely spoken in northern Australia whenever discussions of the economy arise. Everyone knows that the American military is already in Darwin. There’s plenty of Chinese (Darwin Port) and Japanese (Inpex) foreign investment as well. However, this time around, ‘the Americans are coming’ is a reference to what the US Department of Defense is spending, or might be willing to spend, on construction and infrastructure in Australia’s north. John Coyne – The Strategist – Defence needs a clear plan for investment in northern Australia
  • As Australia must close the gap between its First Nations peoples and other Australians, so it must open the door to Melanesians. The two needs are distinct and separate. Yet they share elements of necessity and symbolic importance. Graeme Dobell – The Strategist – Australia should open the door to Melanesians

BELGIUM 

  • Belgium’s federal government has decided to allow Doel 4 and Tihange 3 to continue operating until 2035 in order to allow the country to “strengthen its independence of fossil fuels in turbulent geopolitical times”. The coalition government had earlier agreed to phase out the use of nuclear energy by 2025. World Nuclear News – Extended operation of two Belgian reactors approved : Nuclear Policies

CYBER SECURITY 

HUNGARY

  • One month ago, Hungary’s upcoming parliamentary elections were poised to be a plebiscite about the actions of one man: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. But Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has dramatically altered the rules of engagement and confronted Hungarians with an altogether starker choice: do they re-elect the man who has long been Putin’s most reliable EU ally, or align themselves with the new European security consensus?  Mateo Szlapek-Sewillo – The Interpreter – As Hungary nears an election, Brussels and Moscow will be watching

KOREAS

ITALY – QATAR

  • Leonardo partecipa a DIMDEX (Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference) dal 21 al 23 marzo – stand H4-212. In mostra le sue capacità nella difesa e aerospazio, pronte a supportare la sicurezza del Qatar e del Medio Oriente. Analisi Difesa – Leonardo al DIMDEX 2022 in Qatar
  • Ha preso oggi il via a Doha il salone della Difesa qatarino DIMDEX, giunto alla sua settima edizione. Il Qatar è uno dei “big spender” in campo militare ed il salone rappresenta dunque un’eccellente vetrina per fare il punto della situazione sui grandi programmi portati avanti da questo piccolo Emirato del Golfo – molto diverso dai suoi vicini con i quali le tensioni non si sono ancora sopite del tutto, e con il grande evento dei Mondiali di Calcio ormai in vista: un appuntamento storico, che partirà nella seconda metà di novembre e che sta catalizzando tutta l’attenzione e gli sforzi del Paese, un Paese che per sua caratteristica e struttura, nonché per una certa vicinanza all’Iran, con il quale condivide il mega giacimento di gas SOUTH PARS, costituisce un po’ il vaso di coccio tra i vasi di ferro, ovvero Arabia Saudita ed Emirati Arabi Uniti. Pietro Batacchi – RID – Rivista Italiana Difesa

NIGERIA

QUAD – INDO PACIFIC

NIGER – TURCHIA

  • Il Niger ha ordinato un numero imprecisato di  veicoli blindati trasporto truppe (APC) dalla società turca Nurol Makina, oltre ai velivoli senza pilota armati Bayraktar TB2 e ai velivoli da addestramento/attacco leggero a turboelica Hurkus (nella foto sotto). Analisi Difesa – Il Niger si riarma in Turchia per combattere i jihadisti

RUSSIA – UKRAINE (impact, reactions, consequences) 

  • Anonymous collective claims it has hacked Omega Company, which is the in-house R&D unit of Transneft, the Russia-based state-controlled oil pipeline company. Pierluigi Paganini – Security Affairs – Anonymous leaked data stolen from Russian pipeline company Transneft
  • About half of the staff who were on shift on the day Russian forces took control of the Chernobyl site on 24 February, have been able to return home, Ukraine’s nuclear regulator has told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). World Nuclear News – First Chernobyl staff rotate, after 25 days : Regulation & Safety
  • Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today that around half of the staff at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) had finally been able to rotate and return to their homes after working at the Russian-controlled site for nearly four weeks, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said. IAEA – Update 27 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine
  • Giorni dopo in cui avevamo accennato, in questa newsletter, alla possibilità che un incidente informatico in qualche modo collegato alla situazione in Ucraina avesse creato problemi ai servizi satellitari di Viasat – azienda americana che fornisce connettività satellitare a molti utenti in Europa – il quadro si è fatto più dettagliato e inquietante. E forse possiamo dire che questo sembra essere uno degli episodi cyber più significativi emersi dalla guerra in Ucraina (se confermato che l’attacco informatico sia riconducibile a uno degli attori in campo). Per ora abbiamo molti indizi. Carola Frediani – Guerre di Rete, Analisi Difesa – Guerra in Ucraina: tracce di “cyberwar”
  • Tra le tante conseguenze “dell’operazione speciale” scatenata dalla Russia in Ucraina quella forse meno scontata era di riuscire a trasformare l’Italia in una nazione “belligerante e bellicosa”, pronta a fornire armi letali all’Ucraina in guerra, a impostare l’addestramento dei nostri militari alla guerra (senza se e senza ma….) e a varare incrementi delle spese militari senza precedenti al punto da veder definire un “falco” il nostro ministro della Difesa. Gianandrea Gaiani – Analisi Difesa – La guerra in Ucraina e il riarmo dell’Italia
  • The possibility of a Russian amphibious operation has been on the table since the escalation of tensions between Ukraine and Russia. There have been strong indications pointing to a future landing operation, such as the deployment of additional landing ships to the Black Sea, the conduct of naval exercises based on amphibious operations in conjunction with airborne operations, etc. Tayfun Ozberk  – Naval News – Russia’s amphibious operation dilemma
  • Sanctions by Western nations targeting Russia — in response to its invasion of Ukraine as well as the humanitarian and cultural crisis it has created — have geopolitics once again dominating the world’s (and investors’) attention. Scott Sacknoff – Defense News – How sanctions on Russia impact Western defense companies
  • Russian forces did not make any major advances on March 20. Russian forces around Kyiv are increasingly establishing defensive positions and preparing to deploy further artillery and fire control assets. Ukrainian forces repelled continuing Russian efforts to seize the city of Izyum, southeast of Kharkiv, and Russian forces did not conduct any other offensive operations in northeast Ukraine. Russian forces continue to make slow but steady progress on Luhansk Oblast and around Mariupol, but did not conduct any offensive operations towards Mykolayiv or Kryvyi Rih. ISW – Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 20

  • For more than a hundred years, Turkey, Russia’s southern neighbour across the Black Sea has hosted waves of refugees and exiles. In the 19th century, Circassians fled to the Ottoman Empire from a genocide by tsarist Russia. – Al Jazeera – Ukrainian refugees, Russian exiles seek shelter in Turkey
  • As the human and economic toll of the war in Ukraine mounts, efforts to reach a negotiated settlement have intensified. Over the weekend, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who last week travelled to Moscow and Kyiv, expressed optimism about the progress of negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials. In an interview to Turkish daily Hürriyet, he said there was “convergence on the two countries’ positions on the critical issues”. Mariya Petkova – Al Jazeera – Russia-Ukraine: How will the war end?
  • The European Union’s foreign policy chief has called Russia’s attack on the Ukrainian port city Mariupol “a massive war crime”, as a string of member states pushed for sanctions on Moscow’s key energy sector. “What’s happening now in Mariupol is a massive war crime, destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody,” Josep Borrell said at the start of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday. Al Jazeera – Top EU diplomat decries Russia’s ‘massive war crime’ in Mariupol
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had posed difficult questions for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and exposed the costs of pursuing a more diversified series of diplomatic, economic and military relationships. The two Gulf states are in effect experiencing the “diversification dilemma” – how to diversify without having to choose, or be seen to choose sides. While Russia is the focus of international opprobrium, Saudi Arabia and the UAE remain upset at the United States in general, and the Biden administration in particular, on several fronts. Rodger Shanahan – The Interpreter – The Gulf’s diversification dilemma
  • Russia’s war has stalled. There are small advances, but at high cost. Russian forces started the war with simultaneous attacks across Ukraine. They have not been able to do such advances for almost two weeks now.   The Ukrainian armed forces are taking advantage of this and inflicting a grinding rate of attrition. Worse, the Russian force’s lines of resupply are long, under attack and unable to be adequately protected. There is already an insurgency underway in areas that Russia claims it has captured; really, Russia only “holds” some major roads connecting Russia to its forward deployed forces. Peter Layton – The Interpreter – Scenarios for the war in Ukraine
  • Moscow’s latest invasion of Ukraine has turned Vladimir Putin’s Russia into a pariah state, essentially overnight, and seen the country saddled with an unprecedented international sanction regime. The long-term implications of freezing cooperation and dialogue with Russia are significant – even for the future of far distant areas of the global commons, such as Antarctica. Elizabeth Buchanan – The Interpreter – The end of Antarctic exceptionalism?
  • Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv has witnessed relentless bombardment by Russian forces since the start of the war nearly a month ago. The barrage of artillery shelling has laid waste to residential areas and government buildings, leaving dozens dead and wounded. On Sunday, five people – including a nine-year-old boy – were killed in a Russian artillery attack, according to local authorities in the northeastern city, about 50km (31 miles) from the border with Russia and home to many Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Al Jazeera – ‘No place to come back to’: Kharkiv under relentless bombardment
  • US President Joe Biden will travel to Poland on Friday to discuss the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has sparked a “humanitarian and human rights crisis”, the White House has said. Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with President Andrzej Duda in capital Warsaw, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Sunday. Al Jazeera – Biden to travel to Poland to discuss Ukraine war with PM Duda
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has generated significant debate about deterrence, focused principally on Ukraine’s non-membership of NATO and the extent to which its membership aspirations represent a legitimate security concern to Russia. – The Strategist – Will Putin’s war force more medium-sized states to seek nuclear weapons?
  • In his 1960 book, Crowds and power, Elias Cannetti observed that paranoid autocrats who identify as ‘survivors’ will surround themselves with empty space so that they can see any approaching danger. The only dependable subjects are those who will allow themselves to be killed. With each execution that the dictator orders, he accrues ‘the strength of survival’. How better to describe to Vladimir Putin? Russia’s autocrat prefers to sit alone at the end of a long white table—issuing ultimatums, launching invasions and ordering the arrest (or assassination) of his political opponents. Putin has built his power through bloody wars in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria and now Ukraine. His survival depends on ending others’ existence. Mark Leonard – Project-Syndicate, The Strategist – Europe’s return to the geopolitical jungle

SOUTH KOREA – UK

TURKEY – QATAR

UK

  • Sellafield Ltd’s Programme and Project Partners (PPP) has announced the winners of a mechanical and pipework framework agreement. Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick and Doosan Babcock have been appointed to the framework, which is worth GBP112-237 million (USD148-312 million) over the 18-year life of the programme. World Nuclear News  – PPP awards third Sellafield framework : Corporate

USA

  • As the US Administration unveiled its “bold decadal vision” to accelerate fusion energy, the Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to UDS50 million of federal funding to support US scientists conducting experimental research in fusion energy science at tokamak and spherical tokamak facilities at home and overseas. World Nuclear News – US Administration shares vision for commercial fusion : New Nuclear
  • The intelligence community wants to invest heavily in emerging technologies to solve problems like being able to identify improvised explosive devices and their respective networks. But to better ensure its needs are met, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence mapped out a four-year investment strategy to make it easier for companies to connect with program managers.  Lauren C. Williams – Nextgov – The IC’s 4-year Emerging Tech Investment Plan
  • 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 – Nextgov – A Planned Mars Rover Is the Latest Victim of Russia’s War on Ukraine
  • The Biden administration’s decision to preemptively debunk—“pre-bunk”—Russia’s attempts to paint invasion as something other than naked aggression was key to rallying the world to Ukraine’s aid. This success underscores the need for a Center to Counter Foreign Malign Influence that can anticipate, identify, and defuse foreign-backed disinformation—not just in the face of impending war, but day to day, to keep it from undermining the foundations of our democracy. Brian Murphy – Defense One – The US Needs a Center to Counter Foreign Malign Influence at Home

USA – SAUDI ARABIA

  • The Biden administration has transferred a significant number of Patriot antimissile interceptors to Saudi Arabia, fulfilling an urgent request from the kingdom that has become a point of contention in relations between Washington and Riyadh, according to reports. Senior US officials told reporters on Sunday that the weapons systems were sent to Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, which the kingdom had been requesting since late last year to fend off missile and drone attacks by Yemen’s Houthi group, The Associated Press news agency and the Wall Street Journal reported. Al Jazeera – US sends Patriot interceptors to Saudi to ease tensions: Reports