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

Open newsletter – march 25, 2022

OUR TOPICS

  • RUSSIA – UKRAINE (impact, reactions, consequences) 
  • LOOK IN CHINA
  • AROUND THE WORLD. CRISIS AND CONFLICTS
  • ON LIFE (technology, the future of the internet, cybersecurity)
  • INTELLIGENCE
  • DEFENSE
  • MARKETS & BUSINESS
  • HORIZONS

 

RUSSIA – UKRAINE (impact, reactions, consequences) 

  • NATO leaders agreed to boost military protection of the alliance’s border with Russia, while ignoring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s plea for additional military equipment. Jacqueline Feldscher – Defense One – NATO Ignores Zelenskyy’s Plea For 1% of Its Tanks, Jets
  • President Joe Biden warned on Monday that Vladimir Putin “is considering using” chemical weapons in Ukraine, pointing to baseless Russian allegations that Ukraine has these banned weapons. Moscow, which has actually used such weapons in attempts to assassinate opponents of the Putin regime, spouted similar lies about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. As Russian forces suffer heavy losses and increasing resort to scorched-earth tactics to overcome staunch Ukrainian resistance, Putin may believe that chemical weapons attacks—blamed on Ukraine—could provide a military advantage or boost his war’s domestic legitimacy. Anthony Ruggiero, Andrea Stricker – Defense One – Deter Russia’s Use of Chemical Weapons in Ukraine
  • Vladimir Putin can be forced end his war in Ukraine if enough Russians turn against it. Information warfare targeting Russians and appealing to the nation’s history and sense of greatness may force him to back down. Dell Dailey, James P. Farwell – Defense One – How Strategic Messaging Can Help Turn Putin Around
  • As Russia continues to prosecute its war of aggression against Ukraine, shelling power plants, hospitals, and military targets with seemingly indiscriminate artillery rounds, Poland has called for an armed peacekeeping mission to Ukraine to stop the bloodshed. The proposal, bound to dominate the discussion at Thursday’s emergency NATO summit, is no doubt born of a noble desire to help a neighbor in need. But no matter how noble the intent, no humanitarian outcome can warrant the risks of sending a nuclear-backed NATO contingent into the line of Russian fire. Jan Gerber – Defense One – A Proposed NATO Peacekeeping Mission to Ukraine Could Deepen the Conflict
  • Ukrainian troops are recapturing towns east of Kyiv and Russian forces who had been trying to seize the capital are falling back on overextended supply lines, Britain said on Friday, one of the strongest indications yet of a shift in momentum in the war. – Reuters – Ukrainian forces advance east of Kyiv as Russians fall back
  • The recent announcement that United States will send switchblade drones to Ukraine reflects the changing character of war and the importance of swarming. Swarming involves saturating a target with multiple small strikes as opposed to one decisive blow. By expanding arms transfers to include more capable swarming systems like the Israeli loitering munitions seen in Nagorno-Karabakh as well as new U.S. Marine capabilities like the Hero-120, the West can help Kyiv break the Russian sieges currently holding Ukrainian cities hostage. Benjamin Jensen – CSIS – Send In the Swarm
  • It is clear that there are no easy choices for India in the New Cold War and it would want to avoid a scenario where China has the last laugh. A weak and isolated Russia is not in India’s interests and New Delhi will make efforts to help its traditional friend in its hour of need, writes Raj Kumar Sharma, Post-Doc Fellow, Delhi School of Transnational Affairs, University of Delhi. Valdai Discussion Club – India’s Diplomatic Stand on Russia-Ukraine Crisis
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 sparked sweeping sanctions that ripped the country out of the global financial fabric and sent its economy reeling. A month on, Russia’s currency has lost a large part of its value and its bonds and stocks have been ejected from indexes. Its people are experiencing economic pain that is likely to last for years to come. Reuters – Four weeks of war scar Russia’s economy

  • Ukraine’s new agriculture minister said on Friday that Ukraine’s grain stocks for export amount to $7.5 billion but did not say what the volume of grains for export was. Reuters – Ukraine’s new agriculture minister warns over global food prices
  • Ukrainian and Russian forces have exchanged prisoners, in what Ukraine said was the first soldier-for-soldier swap since Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, ordered troops into the neighbouring country late last month. “Following an order from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the first fully-fledged exchange of prisoners of war has taken place,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on Facebook on Thursday. Al Jazeera – Ukraine and Russia conduct soldier-for-soldier prisoner swap
  • The European Union and United States are set to unveil a deal on Friday to supply Europe with more US liquefied natural gas (LNG), sources told the Reuters news agency, as the European bloc seeks to quickly curb its reliance on Russian fossil fuels. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Europe’s top gas supplier, pushed already-high energy prices to records and has prompted the EU to pledge to cut Russian gas use by two thirds this year by hiking imports from other countries and quickly expanding renewable energy. Al Jazeera – EU clinches US LNG deal in bid to curb reliance on Russian gas
  • Japan will freeze the assets of 25 more Russians and prohibit exports to 81 Russian organisations in response to Moscow’s war in Ukraine, the country’s foreign ministry said on Friday. The move comes after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday Japan will take steps to revoke Russia’s “most favoured nation” trade status and prevent domestic cryptocurrency exchanges from carrying out transactions with sanctioned entities. Al Jazeera – Japan to freeze assets of 25 more Russians over Ukraine invasion
  • The fascism Ramzan Kadyrov has established in Chechnya has much in common with the fascism promoted by Vladimir Putin, says Akhmed Zakayev, head of the government in exile of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. But there is one critical difference that the international community must face head-on because it will make rooting out Kadyrov’s variety even more difficult than doing the same with Putin’s. Zakayev says that difference involves religion. Unlike Putin’s, Kadyrov’s fascism rests firmly on religious sectarianism, has deeper roots and may pose a direct threat to the Putin variety (The Chechen Press, March 17). Paul Globe – The Jamestown Foundation – Kadyrov’s Fascism Especially Dangerous Because It Is Rooted in Religion, Zakayev Says
  • For a long time, given Armenia’s security predicament, attempts to avoid antagonizing Russia have been one of the key features of the country’s policy. Obligations deriving from Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), or the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) have never been questioned. Thus, due to Armenia’s turn to preside over the CSTO in 2022, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian was the one who formally declared the “peacekeeping” operation in Kazakhstan in early January. Armenia also routinely voted against resolutions condemning Russia, particularly regarding Russia’s occupation of parts of Georgia and Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and other international fora. At the same time, it also kept following a policy of non-recognition of Georgia’s and Ukraine’s breakaway regions. Armen Grigoryan – The Jamestown Foundation – Armenia’s Attempts of Maneuvering Amidst the Russian-Ukrainian War
  • Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, conceived as a “blitzkrieg,” has gone on already for a month, inflicting colossal damage to Ukraine and making life in Russia substantially worse. Nevertheless, pro-government sociological centers claim that the popular approval for Vladimir Putin continues to grow, affirming that as of March 13, it was at 77.2 percent (Ren.tv, March 18). They are echoed by several independent sociologists, who confirm that nearly three-quarters of Russians support the war against Ukraine. Over the past weeks, this percentage has grown even further (Hvylya.net, March 16). At the same time, other sociologists note that “the chauvinistic euphoria of 2014 is unlikely to be duplicated.” Still, some warn that the people fear to say what they think and therefore, the value of today’s sociological data is not very high (Еuronews, March 13). Kseniya Kirillova – The Jamestown Foundation – Putin Opens a Second Front: The Battle Against ‘Traitors’ Inside Russia
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine grinds on. So far, Ukrainian conventional forces and resistance groups have mounted a stiff defense against Russia’s numerically superior forces. The Ukrainian people, meanwhile, have rallied behind their government and seem willing to join the fight. Over the past few weeks, civilians have blocked armor with their bodies and prepared Molotov cocktails; Ukrainian women and children have started weaving camouflage netting; and civilian casualties from Russian fire are mounting. All of this is deliberately disseminated through a savvy Ukrainian social media campaign that has successfully reverberated in Western countries.  and  – Modern War Institute – Don’t Underestimate the Bear—Russia Is One of the World’s Most Effective Modern Counterinsurgents
  • Russian forces continue to make slow but steady progress in Mariupol, entering the city center on March 24, but conducted few offensive operations elsewhere in the country. Ukrainian counterattacks northwest of Kyiv in the past several days continue to relieve pressure on the city, and Russian forces continued to dig in. Ukrainian forces repelled limited Russian attacks northeast of the city and around Kharkiv. Mason Clark, George Barros, and Kateryna Stepanenko – Institute for the Study of War – Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 24

LOOK IN CHINA

  • China will allow local and foreign investors access to more sectors of the economy after cutting its so-called negative list for market access. China’s state planner on Friday released a shortened list of industries that are either restricted or prohibited to investors. Al Jazeera – China eases investment curbs amid ‘unprecedented’ investor exodus

AROUND THE WORLD. CRISIS AND CONFLICTS

China – India

  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is set to meet his Indian counterpart in New Delhi, India’s foreign ministry said, after Yi arrived in the city unannounced in the first such visit since deadly border clashes in 2020 soured ties between the two countries. Wang met Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at 11am (0530 GMT) on Friday, a ministry spokesperson told Reuters news agency, without giving details. Indian media reports said he had already met India’s powerful national security adviser, Ajit Doval. Al Jazeera – Chinese FM makes surprise trip to India, first since 2020 clashes

Middle East

North Korea

Pakistan

  • Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing the biggest political crisis of his career as the opposition prepares to move a no-confidence motion against Khan in parliament and bring down his government, which has ruled the country since August 2018. The parliament met at 11am local time (0600 GMT) on Friday in capital Islamabad and the decisive vote to remove the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led coalition government could take place within a week. Cyril Almeida – Al Jazeera – Why is Pakistan’s opposition seeking PM Imran Khan’s removal?

Turkey

USA – Mexico

ON LIFE (technology, the future of the internet, cybersecurity)

Technology

  • Landmark EU rules targeting Alphabet (GOOGL.O) unit Google, Amazon (AMZN.O), Apple (AAPL.O), Meta (FB.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) are likely to set a global benchmark and may even force the tech giants to be more innovative, lawyers and experts said. Europe’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager on Thursday won backing from European Union members and EU lawmakers for her proposal, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), to rein in the powers of the tech giants via legislation for the first time, rather than lengthy antitrust investigations. – Reuters – Analysis: New EU rules regulating U.S. tech giants likely to set global standard

Cybersecurity

INTELLIGENCE

  • Once a year, the intelligence community (IC) produces an unclassified survey of global threats. This exercise comprises two pieces: a written product called the Annual Threat Assessment (ATA) and testimony before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, called the Worldwide Threats Hearing (WWTH). This year, more than most, the written and verbal testimony diverged. Emily Harding, Jake Harrington – CSIS – Lessons from The Intelligence Community’s Annual Threat Assessment
  • In my previous article, “The Many Faces of Threat Intelligence: Part 1”, I outlined six common enterprise threat intelligence domains and their associated use cases: 1) Cyber Threat Intelligence 2) Reputation Intelligence 3) Fraud Intelligence 4) Platform Intelligence 5) Protective Intelligence and 6) Third-Party Intelligence. In this article, I will discuss the capabilities needed to achieve positive outcomes to the problems faced in those domains. These capabilities range from open osource research to more technical tradecraft, including active reconnaissance which is often seen in early-stage application testing. Intelligence and investigations with incomplete or poorly defined findings are not likely to be useful to business stakeholders, so it’s important to identify and understand the benchmarks that ensure success for mature security programs. Landon Winkelvoss – SecurityWeek – Achieving Positive Outcomes With Multi-Domain Cyber and Open Source Intelligence

DEFENSE

MARKETS & BUSINESS

HORIZONS

Geostrategic perspectives

  • The United States faces a new era of great power competition as a rising People’s Republic of China (PRC) and revisionist Russia challenge key aspects of the post–Cold War international security and economic landscape. The two countries pursue distinct strategies in their efforts to carve out their own spheres of influence and vision for the international order. Vladimir Putin’s Russia uses a coercive mix of diplomacy, propaganda, military threats, and cyberattacks to reverse the Cold War settlement. Primarily concerned with maintaining its influence over the former Soviet Union, Russia is seeking to prevent countries like Ukraine and Georgia from moving closer to the West. These dynamics are currently playing out in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia has also pushed beyond its near abroad in recent years through its 2015 military intervention in Syria and deployment of private military contractors in the Central African Republic and Libya. But its economic and development power remains limited—largely constrained by the rise and fall of energy markets—and it poses far less of a multifaceted challenge to the United States than the PRC. Conor Savoy, Janina Staguhn – CSIS – Global Development in an Era of Great Power Competition
  • The dramatic events taking place in Eastern Europe have lead to a truly massive military escalation in relations between the nuclear superpowers, so we can hardly look to the future with optimism or seriously think about the likelihood of a new international order, such as those that have arisen repeatedly in the history of clashes of states in international politics. However, for the time being, we can assume that what is happening will have a stabilising effect in relation to the orders that emerged as a result of the Cold War, correcting existing distortions, but not eliminating their fundamental basis. Timofei Bordachev – Valdai Discussion Club – Peacebuilding in Eurasia

Terrorisms

  • On August 16, 2021, the world watched in awe as the Taliban marched into Kabul unopposed and nonchalantly shot photos in the Afghan presidential palace. The group’s rapid seizure of territory and capture of Kabul so stunned the world that the United States failed to evacuate thousands of its Afghan allies in time (though it did get some 120,000 people out before leaving). But the Taliban’s lightning advance should not have been a surprise. Despite an entrenched tendency to conceptualize jihadist groups as intrinsically irregular combatants—born out of two decades of US military experience during the post-9/11 wars—several such organizations have demonstrated a capability to effectively adopt conventional warfighting methods.   – Modern War Institute – Becoming Armies: When, Why, and How Jihadist Groups Choose to Fight Conventionally