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

Open newsletter – march 9, 2022 a.m.

CHINA

East Asia Forum

  • In September 2021, ten Chinese state bodies jointly declared all cryptocurrency (‘crypto’) transactions illegal, while the National Development and Reform Council promised to phase out crypto mining completely. While the ban ostensibly undermines China’s vaunted semiconductor capacity development aims, it gets China out of a potential losing battle with the United States in mining rig exports. But how does the mining ban play into China’s semiconductor trade war? Nanda Min Htin – China’s crypto ban chips into the semiconductor war

IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS

Reuters

ISRAEL

Defense News

PANDEMIC – GLOBAL INCOME INEQUALITY

Brookings

  • In this paper we provide an initial assessment of the economic losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic in two ways: as output contractions in 2020-2021 and as growth revisions (the estimated cumulative output loss in 2020-2030 based on growth forecasts before and after COVID-19). We find that, whereas the immediate GDP impact seems to favor poorer countries that were less intensely hit by the virus, the long-term economic cost correlates negatively with the country’s initial per capita GDP, worsening global income inequality. The note identifies empirically some of the key drivers of these country differences (e.g., informality, tourism dependence, fiscal space) and provides broader estimates of COVID-related economic loss that incorporate the costs associated with fiscal stimuli, excess deaths, and education lockdowns. Federico Filippini and Eduardo Levy YeyatiPandemic divergence: A short note on COVID-19 and global income inequality

RUSSIA – CHINA – USA

Defense News

RUSSIA – UKRAINE

The New York Times (live)

  • Hong Kong organizations in Britain on Wednesday called on Priti Patel, Britain’s home secretary — who has in the past been criticized for tough measures against asylum seekers — to waive visas for Ukrainians fleeing the war. In 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a visa program that has allowed thousands of Hong Kong residents worried about a sweeping Beijing national security law to work and live in Britain. (Isabella Kwai)
  • Ken Rhee, a former special warfare officer in the South Korean Navy and a YouTuber, could face criminal charges for leaving the country to fight as a volunteer soldier in Ukraine, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday. The South Korean government has barred its citizens from traveling to Ukraine without permission. (Yu Young Jin)
  • China’s foreign ministry announced that it would provide the equivalent of nearly $800,000 in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and that the first shipments had already begun. China has faced criticism for not condemning Russia’s invasion and defending President Putin’s security demands. (Steven Lee Myers)
  • When McDonald’s opened its doors in Moscow’s Pushkin Square in 1990, it was welcomed by more than 30,000 Russians who happily waited hours in line, eager to spend a sizable chunk of their daily wages for a taste of America. Through burgers and fries, a food diplomacy was forged, one that flourished over the past three decades as corporations like McDonald’s and PepsiCo, private investment firms, and individuals plunged billions of dollars into building factories and restaurants to bring food, culture and good-old American capitalism to Russia. It was perestroika and glasnost sandwiched between two buns. “McDonald’s was more than the opening of a simple restaurant,” Marc Carena, a former managing director of McDonald’s Russia, told Voice of America in 2020 when the Golden Arches celebrated the 30th anniversary of its first location in what was the Soviet Union. “It came to symbolize the entire opening of the U.S.S.R. to the West.”. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed everything, and food companies and restaurant chains have struggled with how to respond. Amid mounting pressure to act, McDonald’s announced on Tuesday that it was temporarily closing its nearly 850 locations in Russia and halting operations in the country. Soon after the McDonald’s announcement, other prominent food companies and restaurants followed. Starbucks said it, too, was closing all of its locations in Russia, where they are owned and operated by the Kuwaiti conglomerate Alshaya GroupCoca-Cola said it was halting sales there. McDonald’s, which has invested millions of dollars into building restaurants in Russia and is a symbol of American culture, has felt the impact of geopolitics before. In 2014, when the United States and other nations imposed economic sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea, the authorities suddenly closed down a number of McDonald’s locations in Russia, including in Pushkin Square, citing sanitary conditions. The Pushkin Square location reopened 90 days later. (Julie Creswell)
  • In an effort to prop up the ruble, Russia’s Central Bank told Russians they can only withdraw as much as $10,000 in foreign currency from their accounts. The ruble has lost about 35 percent of its value since the invasion of Ukraine. (Ivan Nechepurenko)
  • Heineken’s chief executive, Dolf van den Brink, said in a statement that the company would stop producing, advertising and selling beer in Russia. Heineken had previously announced a halt on new investments and exports to the country. (Mike Ives)
  • Oil prices climbed Wednesday, and gold soared to nearly a 19-month high as investors looked for safe havens. Asian stocks initially rose but were later weighed down by regional news. European and U.S. stocks were expected to gain following a volatile Tuesday. (Alexandra Stevenson)
  • Vice President Kamala Harris will begin a three-day trip to Poland and Romania on Wednesday, as the United States and its NATO allies try to find a way to help Ukraine defend itself without getting pulled into a wider war against Russia. NATO countries have been sending antitank missiles, surface-to-air missiles and other weapons into Ukraine at a furious pace since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24. That is risky, even if no NATO soldier ever crosses into the country, because the arms supplies will likely be seen by the Kremlin as a not-so-disguised intervention into the war. NATO members have already rejected the possibility of directly intervening against Russian forces, including by imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine. They are still considering whether to send Soviet-era fighter jets into the country, as President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has requested. The United States and Poland, however, publicly disagree on how that should be done. On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the United States was exploring the idea of supplying jets to Poland should Warsaw choose to send its own to neighboring Ukraine. But Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland said his country would not send fighter jets to Ukraine, though it does “significantly help in many other areas,” his office said on Twitter. On Tuesday, Poland’s Foreign Ministry said the country was ready to deploy its Soviet-era MiG-29 jets to a United States air base in Germany, and that it requested other owners of such jets within NATO to “act in the same vein.”. But Victoria Nuland, the U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs, told lawmakers at a hearing on Ukraine that the Polish proposal had caught her off guard. The Pentagon also said the proposal was not “tenable.”. The White House announced Ms. Harris’s trip to Poland and Romania last week, before American and Polish officials publicly aired their disagreement on the fighter jet question. The announcement said that Ms. Harris planned to discuss “security, economic, and humanitarian assistance” to Ukraine with the leaders of Poland and Romania. It did not elaborate or provide any details about military assistance. Even if no fighter jets are sent to Ukraine, Poland will remain a critical part of NATO’s efforts to help Ukraine and contain Russia. It is a major recipient of Ukrainians fleeing the war and hosts thousands of American soldiers. The Pentagon said on Tuesday that it was sending two Patriot antimissile batteries to Poland from elsewhere in Europe, as a way to guard against “any potential threat to U.S. and allied forces and NATO territory.”. But it was careful to add that such systems have been used for years to protect American troops in Middle East and “will in no way support any offensive operations.” (Mike Ives)
  • When Ivan Kozlov landed in France with the Kyiv City Ballet on Feb. 23, the drumbeat of a possible Russian attack on Ukraine was growing louder. But he still didn’t think that President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces would invade. “Honestly, I couldn’t believe it would happen,” said Mr. Kozlov, 39, who has directed the company since its creation in 2012. “I thought he was trying to scare us by putting soldiers at the border, that’s it.”. But the day after the company’s arrival in Paris, hours before its first performance, the troupe’s 30 or so dancers woke in the pre-dawn hours to news of airstrikes and troop movements flashing across their phones. War had broken out. That made it nearly impossible for the company to return to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, after the end of its French tour, in mid-March. “Every one of us was in shock,” Daniil Podhrushko, 21, one of the dancers, said through a translator. “We were in disbelief.”. Two million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war, according to the United Nations. Like their compatriots, Ukrainian ballet dancers have found themselves caught in the middle of the conflict — trying to flee or stuck abroad on tour or forced to remain in Ukraine. Now, theaters and opera houses around Europe are scrambling to offer help, shelter or work. In Paris, City Hall stepped in to help the stranded Kyiv City Ballet by giving it a temporary residency at the Théâtre du Châtelet, one of the city’s most famous stages, where the dancers will have access to dressing rooms and rehearsal spaces and may even put on shows. Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris and the Socialist candidate in France’s upcoming presidential election, said Ukraine needed weapons to fight and diplomatic support from the international community. But Ukrainian artists also need help, she said. “You can only create when you are free, and we need to hear what they are expressing, so that’s what we are offering them today,” Ms. Hidalgo told reporters at the Théâtre du Châtelet on Saturday after chatting with members of the ballet company on the stage. “They will be here for as long as it takes; I am absolutely not setting any deadline.” (Aurelien Breeden and 
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency said its director general had “indicated” that the agency was no longer receiving data from monitoring systems at the former Chernobyl nuclear plant, north of Kyiv. The agency did not elaborate, saying only that it was “looking into the status” of similar monitoring systems around Ukraine. Russian forces took control of the plant last week. (Mike Ives)
  • Bumble’s parent company said it was discontinuing operations in Russia and removing its apps from Apple and Android platforms there and in Belarus. The company said those countries, along with Ukraine, accounted for about 2.8 percent of it revenue last year. Nearly all of its revenue in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine came from its dating app Badoo. (Mike Ives)
  • Vice President Kamala Harris will begin a three-day trip to Poland and Romania on Wednesday, amid questions over how the United States and NATO allies will help Ukraine fight Russia without getting pulled into a wider war. The Pentagon is sending two Patriot anti-missile batteries stationed in Europe to Poland, but it has rejected an offer from the Polish government to send its MiG-29 fighter planes to a U.S. air base in Germany for eventual use by Ukraine. (Mike Ives)
  • The Pentagon on Tuesday rejected an offer from the Polish government to send its MiG-29 fighter planes to a United States air base in Germany for eventual use by Ukraine, a rare note of disunity between two NATO allies as they confront Russia. The disagreement underscored the pressures the United States and its allies are under as they seek to provide military aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia without getting pulled into a wider war. Ukraine has been pleading for more warplanes, and American officials have raised the possibility that Poland could supply Ukraine with its older Soviet-era fighters in return for U.S. F-16s to make up for the loss. Ukrainian pilots are trained on the Russian aircraft. Poland’s minister of foreign affairs said in a statement earlier on Tuesday that the country was ready to deploy its MiG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where they would be placed at the disposal of the U.S. government. In return, Poland expected the U.S. to provide it with used aircraft of comparable capabilities, the statement said. But a Pentagon spokesman, John F. Kirby, said Poland’s proposal to send the planes to a U.S. base in Germany, which caught American diplomats by surprise, was not workable. In a statement, he said the prospect of fighter jets departing from a U.S.-NATO base in Germany and flying into “airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance.”. “We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one,” he said. The Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, speaking at a news conference in Oslo on Tuesday, said that while his country was prepared to hand its fleet of jet fighters over to the United States military at Ramstein, Poland will not act unilaterally to give the warplanes directly to Ukraine. “Any decisions on delivering offensive weapons have to be taken by the entire NATO and on a unanimous basis,” he said. He added that Poland was not a party to the war. Ukraine’s president, Volodomyr Zelensky, has pleaded with the NATO allies to establish a no-fly zone over the country, but so far the alliance has rejected the proposal because it would almost certainly lead to a wider war between the allies and Russia. The NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Friday that a no-fly zone could cause a “full-fledged war in Europe involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering.”. On Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry had warned neighboring countries against holding Ukrainian military aircraft, saying that it “could be considered as those countries’ engagement in the military conflict.”. Poland has become a critical piece in NATO’s efforts to help Ukraine and contain Russia. More than 10,000 American soldiers are now stationed there as part Washington’s attempt to shore up the alliance’s eastern flank. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees have crossed the Polish border. It is a measure of the importance of Poland’s position on issues like the MiG-29 fighter planes that Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the country on Wednesday on a trip that will also include a stop in Romania. Ms. Harris will discuss with the leaders of both countries how NATO can support Ukraine through security, economic, and humanitarian measures “in the face of Russian aggression,” according to a White House statement. (Ada Petriczko)

  • The United States is sending two Patriot antimissile batteries stationed in Europe to Poland to protect U.S., Polish and other allied troops in the country, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. Sending Patriot systems reflects an increasing fear in Warsaw and in Washington that Russian missiles, fired deliberately or inadvertently from the war in neighboring Ukraine, could come whistling Poland’s way at a time when the country is not only receiving hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing Moscow’s invasion but has also become a major staging area for Western arms and equipment being shipped into Ukraine. “This defensive deployment is being conducted proactively to counter any potential threat to U.S. and allied forces and NATO territory,” the military’s European Command said in a statement. The statement added that the deployment of the defensive missile systems that have been used for years to protect American troops deployed to the Middle East “will in no way support any offensive operations.”. Nearly 10,000 American troops are now stationed in Poland as part of the Biden administration’s commitment to reassure NATO allies on the alliance’s eastern flank and in the Baltics that Washington will stand up to any further aggression by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. (Eric Schmitt)

Brookings

  • Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been heralded as marking the end of the post-Cold War period, and the start of (or return to) a more dangerous era of great power conflict. Given China’s recent reaffirmation of its “no limits” partnership with Russia, and the release of an unprecedented Sino-Russia joint statement just 20 days before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine, Beijing’s role in Putin’s war of aggression has rightly come under scrutiny. While it’s still too soon to know how the war in Ukraine ends and what role Beijing will play through its course, China’s choices will be pivotal in shaping not just the outcomes of the immediate crisis, but also the new order that rises from the ashes. Patricia M. KimChina’s choices and the fate of the post-post-Cold War era
  • The war in Ukraine could not have come at a worse time for the global economy—when the recovery from the pandemic-induced contraction had begun to falter, inflation was surging, central banks in the world’s largest economies were gearing up to hike interest rates, and financial markets were gyrating over a formidable constellation of uncertainties. Indermit GillDeveloping economies must act now to dampen the shocks from the Ukraine conflict
  • If there was any doubt before, the answer is now clear. Vladimir Putin is showing that a world without American power — or, for that matter, Western power — is not a better world. For the generation of Americans who came of age in the shadow of the September 11 attacks, the world America had made came with a question mark. Their formative experiences were the ones in which American power had been used for ill, in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the Middle East more broadly, and for much longer, the United States had built a security architecture around some of the world’s most repressive regimes. For those on the left, this was nothing new, and it was all too obvious. I spent my college years reading Noam Chomsky and other leftist critics of U.S. foreign policy, and they weren’t entirely wrong. On balance, the U.S. may have been a force for good, but in particular regions and at particular times, it had been anything but. Shadi HamidThere are many things worse than American power

Defense News

  • The Pentagon on Tuesday evening pushed back against an announcement by Poland proposing a multinational fighter jet swap that could bolster Ukraine’s air force.
  • The ongoing conflict in Ukraine should serve as a wake-up call to U.S. leaders regarding our military’s inability to meet the scale of modern threats, especially when it comes to airpower. Two decades of low-intensity operations in Afghanistan and Iraq masked a precipitous capability and capacity erosion. Never has the Air Force fielded such an old, small aircraft inventory. The FY23 budget request will stand as an important test as to whether the Biden administration takes action to reverse this trend. The time has come for topline growth, while also spending the money we have more effectively.

Defense One

Reuters

SOUTH KOREA

East Asia Forum 

South Korea’s 2022 presidential race has finally reached its finishing line. The election has rightly been characterised in the media as anomalous — stained by more hatred, aversion and divisions than ever. Amid all the political vitriol: labour is near-invisible in the presidential race. Byoung-Hoon Lee – The rum hand dealt to labour in South Korea’s presidential race

SUB SAHARAN AFRICA

Brookings

TAIWAN

Defense News

  • With the world’s attention fixed on the national security and humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine caused by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion, a similar disaster is brewing in the Pacific. Taking a page from Putin’s playbook, the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, is methodically assembling combat power to coerce or conquer the free people of Taiwan. Preventing that from happening will require Washington to learn the right lessons from the disaster in Ukraine. Among them is the need for Washington to spend less time worrying about provoking authoritarian bullies and more time working to defend threatened democracies before the invasion starts.

TUNISIA

Reuters

As Tunisia’s president prepares to rewrite the constitution after dismissing parliament last year and ruling by decree, he has called for citizens’ input by setting up a voluntary multiple-choice questionnaire online. and Tunisian questionnaire on constitution is met with a nationwide shrug

USA

Brookings

  • In President Biden’s State of the Union speech last week, he highlighted the importance of addressing the lasting impact of COVID-19 on our nation’s children in part through the elevation of the community schools strategy. The long-standing community schools movement has never had such high-level national attention. In fact, the president’s proposed budget would increase funding for the community schools’ strategy by over 10 times the current level from $30 million to over $400 million. Hayin KimnerLorenna Maysonet, and Rebecca WinthropCommunity schools and a critical moment in the fight against education inequality
  • By 2017, nearly all Republican politicians, including President Trump, believed that the Obama administration had overreached in the sphere of regulatory policy, with scores of regulations in need of rolling back. Indeed, deregulation was a central priority of Trump’s administration. “We slashed more job-killing regulations than any administration had ever done before,” Trump claimed in his farewell address. Putting aside all questions of whether Trump’s deregulatory agenda was good or bad for the country, it seems that it should be rather straightforward to determine whether this claim is accurate. To what extent did the Trump administration succeed in reversing the regulatory achievements of Barack Obama and his predecessors, and to what extent should such claims be understood as bluster? Philip A. Wallach and Kelly KennedyExamining some of Trump’s deregulation efforts: Lessons from the Brookings Regulatory Tracker
  • Technology industries hold out the potential for decentralized economic vitality. However, for decades, tech has remained highly concentrated in a short list of coastal “superstar” cities—places such as San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. More recently, though, the rise of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic has spawned new hopes for the spread of tech jobs into the U.S. heartland. Given that possibility, this report probes the latest trends in the geography of tech over the past decade and through the pandemic. Specifically, the analysis examines detailed employment data as well as location-specific job postings to assess local and national hiring trends. Mark Muro and Yang YouSuperstars, rising stars, and the rest: Pandemic trends and shifts in the geography of tech

Defense News

VENEZUELA – USA

Reuters