Events in 2022
As Russian Federation’s Invasion of Ukraine Creates New Global Era, Member States Must Take Sides, Choose between Peace, Aggression, General Assembly Hears | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases (un.org)
Latest developments | Allegations of Genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Ukraine v. Russian Federation) | International Court of Justice (icj-cij.org)
19.03.2022 – First ever use of a hypersonic missile in warfare:
Events in 2021
20.10.2021 – Russia hosts multilateral talks on Afghanistan.
‘The talks, to which neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and China have been invited, are notable because they will also include Afghanistan’s de facto rulers, the Taliban. The group was not invited to last week’s G20 talks on Afghanistan.
A “large Taliban delegation” will be present in Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the media. The summit will be one of the first to include the Taliban since it seized control of Afghanistan in August, even as no government has so far recognised the group as the country’s legitimate rulers.
The talks are likely to focus on rebuilding Afghanistan’s economy, currently in ruins. Most of the foreign aid it depends on was suspended after the Taliban takeover. The talks are likely to largely focus on rebuilding Afghanistan’s economy, currently in ruins. Most of the foreign aid it depends on was suspended after the Taliban takeover. Trade and the country’s financial system have been frozen since the new authorities took power. 95 per cent of Afghans aren’t getting enough to eat, according to the UN’s World Food Programme. Some parents, pushed into utter destitution, are selling their children to settle their debts.
Terrorism will also be on the agenda: Russia is keen to push the Taliban to contain IS-K, a local affiliate of the Middle Eastern jihadist group opposed to the new authorities and responsible for several recent attacks, including one at Kabul Airport during the last days of the Western evacuation in which about 170 people died.
Afghanistan matters to Russia in part because it shares an extensive and largely unpoliced border with Tajikistan, a former Soviet state in which Russia maintains a military base. The Tajik government has emerged as one of the staunchest opponents of the Taliban.
Tajikistan’s ruler, Emomali Rahmon, has hosted the leaders of the “Panjshir resistance”, the handful of militants who held out in the Panjshir Valley, the last area of Afghanistan to fall to Taliban control. Rahmon, who was in power the last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s, worries about the group’s links to the drug trade, as well as the potential for Islamist radicalism to be exported into Central Asia and a refugee crisis destabilising his country. …’
(World Review by Ido Vock, International Correspondent of the New Statesman 18.10.2021).
27.07.2021 – China tests a hypersonic missile.
‘One test in particular, conducted on July 27, has intrigued US government scientists. China launched a Long March rocket that used a system to propel a highly manoeuvrable, nuclear-capable glider into orbit, allowing it to speed towards its target at five or more times the speed of sound, according to people with knowledge of the test who declined to be identified because the information is classified. An unknown element in the test has prompted US scientists to suspect Beijing may have achieved a new military capability, suggesting that China is making even quicker progress developing weapons that could shift the balance of power between the two countries. …
What does China’s hypersonic test launch reveal about the global arms race? …
Could this new defence system-busting weapon change the balance of power?‘
Extract from an article published in the FT (28.10.2021) ‘What China’s hypersonic test launch reveals about the global arms race’ by Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington, Kathrin Hillie in Taipei and Sylvia Pfeifer in London.
‘The race for hypersonic missile technology is significant in itself. The US, China and Russia have in recent years all been locked in a competition to master it. The term “hypersonic” implies speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10 (so five to ten times the speed of sound). But the three traits that set such technology apart from conventional intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are not about speed but direction: they glide, travel in a low orbit and are more manoeuvrable than ICBMs, all of which makes them harder to track and destroy. If China masters such missiles before the US, that gives it capabilities that the larger superpower lacks.
James Black, defence researcher at RAND, says: “The ability to change the flight path, potentially multiple times, rather than follow a predictable arc like a typical ballistic missile or rocket does, means you can more easily avoid detection, evade defensive counter-measures or seek to conceal your intended target until relatively close to impact.”.
But the news also captures a wider and more fundamental story. For most of the Cold War, the US and USSR economies were pitted against each other in the quest to build the biggest stockpiles of broadly similar weapons. In the contest between the US and China, the goal is not to be the wealthiest, but something distinct: to have weapons of a totally superior degree of sophistication to those of one’s opponent.
Black says: “If reports of China making progress in development and testing of such systems are accurate, this could signal the latest move in an ongoing race for technological advantage between China’s People’s Liberation Army, on the one hand, and the US military and its allies, on the other.” …
Ultra-advanced technology, not GDP, will be the decisive factor.
The Pentagon’s assumption, as Adam puts it, is that the US – with its remarkable and unique ability to attract the world’s brightest scientists and harness their work – has a natural superiority in this new contest of brains over brawn. But there is another vision of the future, in which a ruthless China beats the US in this race.
Take 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, published in March, which imagines the US military being overwhelmed by a technologically superior China in the Pacific in the mid-2030s. What the thriller lacks in literary merit it makes up for in insight into the US elite’s darkest fears: one of its two co-authors is James Stavridis, a former US admiral and a bastion of the American military establishment. The book neatly documents that establishment’s worst nightmares.
Beijing’s hypersonic missile test is just one instance of China leading on one form of technology. There are still strong reasons to believe that the US, with its dynamic, agile society and its ability to attract and fund the world’s best minds, has the best chances in this new age of technological competition. And China has its own often-underestimated internal weaknesses, demonstrated by its current property market and energy crises, as I wrote in my column recently. Yet the news that it has beaten its US counterparts in this particular area is a sobering reminder that the race remains competitive – and for an often complacent West, perilously so.’
Extract from the New Statesman (22.10.2021) ‘What the race for hypersonic technology says about the US-China arms rivalry – The US still attracts the world’s best minds, but China’s latest test of military hardware shows it is very much in the race’, by Jeremy Cliffe.
‘China’s test of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile has given new fuel to critics of President Joe Biden’s ambitious agenda to scale back America’s nuclear arsenal, with intelligence and defense officials warning that the Chinese launch marked a significant technological leap that could threaten the US in new ways.
News of the launch is coming to light publicly as the administration nears the end of its nuclear posture review. Biden’s national security team has been working toward a policy of increased restraint and more limited spending on nuclear modernisation and production. The President has also been weighing a “no first use” policy for U.S. nuclear weapons, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Others within the administration are waving red flags, however. Intelligence officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee in private briefings that the Chinese test — which they tracked closely as it was happening — marked a substantial advancement in China’s ability to launch a strategic first strike against the United States, according to people familiar with the briefings.’ (CNN 22.10.2021).
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