OE Watch Issue # 01, 2024

OE Watch, Vol 14, Issue 01, 2024; click image to download magazine

(Click image to download magazine.)


China Celebrates New Turbofan Engine Design as Giving It a Strategic Advantage
By Cindy Hurst

Chinese and Vietnamese Leaders Meet Over Tensions in South China Sea
By Alpha Ngo

Chinese Media Defends PLA Navy in Maritime Dispute With the Philippines
By Jacob Zenn

China Nears Completion of Large Port in Peru With Dual-Use Capabilities
By Ryan Berg


Russian Military Working To Respond to U.S. “Multi-Domain Operations”
By Chuck Bartles

Russia Details Plan To Overcome Military Drone Deficiencies
By Dodge Billingsley

Russia’s Federal Budget Puts Economy on War Footing
By Dodge Billingsley

Russian Arctic Naval Activity and Capability Continue To Expand
By Les Grau

Russia Denies that North Korea Is Supplying It With Weapons for Use in Ukraine
By Lionel Beehner


Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Seeks Dominant Role in Maritime Development
By Michael Rubin

Iran’s Supreme Leader Announces Maritime Development Strategy
By Michael Rubin

Iran Seeks To Assert Global Leadership in Determining International Cyber Policy
By Michael Rubin

Belarus and Iran Form Alliance Against the West
By Paris Gordon


Drug Trafficking a Prime Source of Financing for Venezuela’s Maduro Regime
By Ryan Berg

Syrian Regime, Opposition Wary of Hamas Despite Support for 7 October Attacks on Israel
By Lucas Winter

Fears of Gaza Violence Prompt Egypt To Reinforce the Sinai Border
By Lucas Winter

Pakistan Deporting Approximately 1.7 Million Undocumented Afghanis in Response to Terrorist Attacks
By Christopher Betts

Malian Coup Leader Faces Challenges Reconquering Kidal
By Jacob Zenn


Israel’s Operation in Gaza Compounding Logistical Delays for India’s Armed Forces
By Matthew Stein

Azerbaijan’s Joint Exercise With Turkey Sends Familiar Warning Message to Armenia
By Matthew Stein

African Government Support for Palestinian Territories Spreads
By Jason Warner

Ukraine Launches Counteroffensive in Sudan and Across Africa To Minimize Russian Influence
By Jason Warner

Ukraine Launches Counteroffensive in Sudan and Across Africa To Minimize Russian Influence

Following its invasion by Russia, Ukraine is now launching a counteroffensive against Russian influence in Africa.

“Ukraine’s involvement in attacking Wagner forces in Africa signifies a limited yet noteworthy expansion of the Ukrainian conflict.”

While the diplomatic implications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine have been felt in Africa,[i] the security implications have been less so. That appears to be changing. As the first accompanying article from the Nigeria-based Military Africa monitoring site suggests, members of the Ukrainian special forces appear to have targeted members of the Russian Wagner Group operating in Sudan supporting the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). In April 2023, fighting erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary RSF, two groups that had previously worked together to oust Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir in 2019, and then led a subsequent military coup in 2021. As tensions between the two groups rose post-2021 coup, fighting broke out in the spring of 2023. Reporting has suggested that Wagner Group forces—which have been in Sudan since 2017 to support deposed President Al-Bashir—are now aiding the RSF, providing the faction surface-to-air missiles and other support. Notable is that Ukrainian special forces have taken their fight against Russia to Sudan, allegedly working with members of the SAF to attack the rival RSF/Wagner contingents in the country. As the article notes, other reporting has suggested that Ukrainian mercenaries not officially associated with the government may also be participating in fighting in Sudan on the side of the SAF. Indeed, this news from Sudan falls in line with Ukraine’s August 2023 pledge to radically revive Ukraine’s relations with African countries to lessen what one Ukrainian diplomat called Moscow’s “grip” on the continent based on “coercion, corruption, and fear.”[ii] Showing that the African continent is emerging as part of the broader landscape of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the second article from the Nigerian newspaper Premium Times describes how, even during its war, Ukraine plans to invest $25 million to create ten new embassies in Africa over the coming years, adding to the current eleven. Sudan is among the ten countries in which Ukraine plans to open a new embassy. Commenting on the opening of new Ukrainian embassies in Africa to counter Moscow, President Zelensky has noted: “We are not afraid of Russia’s presence in any African country.”


“Africa emerges as the new battleground between Russia and Ukraine,” Military Africa (Nigeria-based military news aggregator), 9 November 2023. https://www-military-africa.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.military.africa/2023/11/africa-emerges-as-the-new-battleground-between-russia-and-ukraine/?amp=1

Recent reports suggest that Ukrainian special services may have played a role in a series of attacks against forces affiliated with Russia’s Wagner Group and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan, thousands of miles from the main theater of war.

But, since the outbreak of war in Sudan earlier this year, there have also been reported suspicions of Ukrainian mercenaries fighting on the side of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in their battle against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). This April, CNN reported that Wagner had supplied RSF paramilitaries with missiles.

Notably, the action didn’t occur within Ukraine’s borders, but rather against forces associated with Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) and the RSF….

The videos depict a special unit sniper of the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Directorate (GUR) conducting precision strikes on Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) forces in Sudan. This expands the theater of the Ukraine-Russia conflict into Africa, with Ukraine’s intelligence agency vowing to hunt down Wagner forces anywhere in the world…

Ukraine’s involvement in attacking Wagner forces in Africa signifies a limited yet noteworthy expansion of the Ukrainian conflict.

Chiamaka Okafor, “Ukraine to invest $25 million in establishing embassies in Africa,” Premium Times (Nigeria), (Lagos, Niger-based daily), 15 November 2023. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/643589-ukraine-to-invest-25-million-in-establishing-embassies-in-africa.html

The Government of Ukraine on Wednesday said it is set to invest $25 million in establishing nine embassies in African countries. This was revealed by Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv while meeting with African journalists. He said the establishment of these embassies was a part of Ukraine’s African renaissance and rekindling its relationship with its African counterparts…

Ukraine, according to the prime minister, already has 11 embassies in Africa and is ready to open 10 more. Clarifying, he said plans to open an embassy in Ghana have already been finalised and not included in the $25 million budgeted for the other nine. The other nine countries include Sudan, Mozambique, Botswana, Mauritania, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Tanzania.

According to the prime minister’s office, the plan to establish these embassies in Africa and other parts of the world had been developed in 2019 by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy until the war derailed the plans. Asked if he was concerned by the growing presence of Russia’s Wagner Group in Africa, he said, “We are not afraid of Russia’s presence in any African country…”He added that the presence of Wagner in any part of the world is a bad signal although “no third party will stop us from moving forward.”


[i] For more reading on the ways that Africa has responded to the Ukraine-Russia war, see: Jason Warner, “Morrocco Sending Military Equipment to Ukraine,” OE Watch, 02-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/morocco-sending-military-equipment-to-ukraine/; Jason Warner, “African Stances on the Russia-Ukraine War Demonstrate Reliance on, Antipathy Toward West,” OE Watch, 09-2022. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2022/african-stances-on-the-russia-ukraine-war-demonstrate-reliance-on-antipathy-toward-west/

[ii] For more on the August 2023 Ukrainian declaration of a revival of its relations with Africa to lessen Russia’s grip, see: “Ukraine announces a long fight against the “Russian hold in Africa,” AfricaNews.com, 17 August 2023. https://www.africanews.com/2023/08/17/ukraine-announces-a-long-fight-against-the-russian-hold-in-africa/

Image Information:

Image: Following its invasion by Russia, Ukraine is now launching a counteroffensive against Russian influence in Africa.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Africa_Ukraine_Locator.png
Attribution: BY-SA 4.0

Israel’s Operation in Gaza Compounding Logistical Delays for India’s Armed Forces

Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the India-Israel Business Summit, in New Delhi on January 15, 2018

“Consequently, in light of the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and now in Gaza, Russia and Israel, he warned, could well end up either failing to meet India’s numerous materiel requirements or delaying deliveries interminably.”

Two months after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, India began to experience delays in deliveries of weapons and equipment from Russia. The Israeli operations in Gaza have only compounded the delays.[i] The accompanying excerpted article from the independent English-language news website The Wire reports on the ongoing delays of military equipment from not only Russia, but now Israel, as it carries out its Gaza operation. The article examines how two of India’s main suppliers of weapon systems and equipment, Russia and Israel, are currently engaged in conflicts. It also notes how Israel has not provided India with major platforms or systems like Russia has but provided components for various systems as well as different munitions. These components have been implemented into systems of all branches of the Indian Armed Forces making it difficult to quantify the number of Israeli systems in Indian platforms. The author of the article ends by mentioning that Russia’s and Israel’s conflicts could motivate India to pursue alternatives to continue building its defense industry. While the article does not offer specifics on how India will deal with the delays, the situation may push India to seek other partners to find short and long-term solutions to grow the country’s defense industry.


Rahul Bedi, “Ukraine and Gaza May Impact Russia and Israel’s Ability to Sustain Materiel Exports to India,” The Wire (an independent English-language news website in India), 14 October 2023. https://thewire.in/security/ukraine-gaza-materiel-exports-to-india

The involvement of India’s two principal materiel providers – Russia and Israel – in their respective wars and conflicts has the potential to impact the inflow of defence equipment supplies into the country, warned a cross-section of service veterans and military analysts.

…This equalled a whopping 55% or so of Russian and Israeli military imports for India…

Retired Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle of the Security Risks Asia consultancy in Delhi said that while the BJP-led government had launched the atamnirbhar initiative to indigenise Indian military needs, Delhi still topped the global list of defence equipment importers.

Consequently, in light of the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and now in Gaza, Russia and Israel, he warned, could well end up either failing to meet India’s numerous materiel requirements or delaying deliveries interminably.

Unlike Russia, Israel does not provide India any major platforms, but supplies critical and innovative force multipliers like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), assorted missile, guidance and avionics systems, precision-guided munitions, diverse sensors and surveillance and targeting radars, amongst other equipment.

Most of this was fitted onto combat aircraft, helicopters, warships, submarines and armoured vehicles.

But such equipment and component diversity made it difficult to quantify the exact or even near-precise percentages of Israeli military equipment in service with India’s armed forces.

…(though) Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza against Hamas was ‘unlikely’ to impact military hardware and spares supplies to India in the short term, they cautioned that an extended conflict could jeopardise deliveries.

…Once diplomatic ties with Israel were instituted under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in 1992, the two sides fast-tracked their strategic and defence relationship based on mutual security and commercial interests.

Israel, for its part, rightly perceived a commercial opportunity, while India looked upon Tel Aviv as a reliable and ‘no-questions-asked’ materiel provider, especially of varied ammunition and missile systems which India’s military badly lacked, and still does.

Nonetheless, it still took another six-odd years and the BJP’s ascent to power under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for Israel’s defence machinery to definitively establish itself in India…

However, it was the 11-week long Kargil war with Pakistan in 1999 that catapulted Israel’s defence industry to centre stage domestically.

As the seriousness of the deadly conflict unfolded, commercially savvy Israel dug deep into its military reserves to supply India high-end hardware, especially badly-needed 155mm rounds for its FH-77B Bofors howitzers, laser-guided munitions and other ordnance that contributed largely to the Pakistan Army vacating the mountainous region’s siege and ending hostilities.

Two decades later, the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) Mirage 2000H fighters in their attack on a Pakistani militant training camp at Balakot in Pakhtunkhwa in February 2019, fired specifically configured Israeli Crystal Maze Mk2 missiles (variants of the Rafael Advanced Defence Systems AGM-142 Raptor Have Nap/Popeye missile)…

…And though India had reduced its dependence on Russia for military equipment by some 33% between 2011 and 2020 in an effort to diversify its network of materiel suppliers, switching entirely to alternate sources was not an option military-planners in Delhi desired, as it entailed colossal expenditure, reworked infrastructure, inordinate delays and doctrinal changes.Perhaps the individual wars in Ukraine and Gaza and the constraints these could impose on Russia and Israel’s ability to export defence equipment may end up providing alternative routes to sustain and modernise India’s military through indigenous efforts.


[i] For more information on India’s issues with deliveries of ordnance since the war in Ukraine began, see: Matthew Stein “India Takes a Step Away from the Russian Defense Industry,” Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, 31 July 2023. https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/JIPA/Display/Article/3475660/india-takes-a-step-away-from-the-russian-defense-industry/

Image Information:

Image: Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the India-Israel Business Summit, in New Delhi on January 15, 2018
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Prime_Minister,Shri_Narendra_Modi_and_the_Prime_Minister_of_Israel,_Mr._Benjamin_Netanyahu_at_the_India-Israel_Business_Summit,_in_New_Delhi_on_January_15,_2018(2).jpg
Attribution: Government Open Data License – India (GODL)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Announces Maritime Development Strategy

Iran’s rugged but underdeveloped Makran coast littoral is pictured. Iran’s Supreme Leader has recently articulated a maritime development plan.

“It is necessary to make use of the coasts, offshore areas, and the seas effectively.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei recently announced a new, multi-decade approach to develop Iran’s coasts. While it is unclear if and how fast Iran might reconfigure or reorient its economy towards a maritime development strategy, the ambition of the maritime plan and its announcement by Khamenei set it apart from previous Iranian economic strategies and proposals.[i]

As per the excerpted article from the official web portal of the Iranian Supreme Leader, Khamenei called for a whole-of-government approach in his nine-point directive, with the formation of new bodies and government reorganization to accomplish the ambitious plan. Khamenei does not describe where Iran will acquire the billions of dollars needed to actualize this plan. Regardless, he provides the clearest indication to date that Iran seeks to develop the Makran Coast beyond the port of Chabahar, and that Khamenei envisions greater ties to Pakistan and Azerbaijan, two traditional rivals.[ii] Khamenei’s statement also provides diplomatic endorsement for ambitious north-south and east-west commercial corridor schemes involving trade across Iran to Russia through Azerbaijan and from China through Pakistan.[iii] Though his call to defend maritime resources from exploitation from other countries may signal a subtle warning about China, a country with whom Iran has developed warm diplomatic relations.[iv] Among Indian Ocean littoral states, China has a record of overfishing and illegally exploiting other country’s maritime resources. While Khamenei signals that Iran seeks to become a regional hub for commerce, his emphasis that any development should conform to Islamic-Iranian values might undercut the attractiveness of foreign investment, especially among Iran’s non-Persian, non-Islamic neighbors. Still, Iran’s attempts to reorient its economy bear watching and, if even partly successful, this regional economic integration can have great impact on the operational environment.


“Ablagh-e Siyasatha-ye Kali Tawse’ah-e Darya Mahavar” (Communicating Sea-Oriented Development Policies),” Khamenei.ir (official web portal of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei), 7 November 2023.

The oceans are divine gifts with rich reserves and resources for the development of science and technology, for achieving job growth and increased wealth, for the provision of vital needs, and for increasing the country’s strength. Since Iran has a privileged geographical position and is located between two seas with thousands of kilometers of beaches as well as islands, many of which remain untouched, it is necessary to make use of the coasts, offshore areas, and the seas effectively…. Accordingly, we have determined General Sea-based Development Policies as follows:

 1. The establishment of an integrated policy for sea-based affairs, for the division of work at the national level, and for an active, efficient management of the sea in order to make maximum use of the sea’s capacities to attain a fitting global position and to reach a top position in the region.

2. The development of sea-based-economic activities and the creation of advancied sea-based development centers to speed growth on the coasts, islands, and hinterlands in such a way that sea-based economy will always be at least twice the country’s economic growth rate over the next ten years.

3. The facilitation and development of domestic and foreign investments and partnerships by creating the necessary legal, economic, and security frameworks.

4. The formulation of a comprehensive sea-based development plan that includes zoning of the sea, the coast, and the backshore… with emphasis on an Iranian-Islamic identity….

5. Maximum, optimal utilization of the capacities, resources, and reserves of the marine ecosystem by preventing the destruction of the marine environment, especially by other countries.

6. The provision and advancement of committed, efficient human capital and management….

7. The expansion of economic and commercial cooperation…with neighboring and other countries….

8. Increasing the country’s share in sea-based transport and transit by establishing and strengthening a combined transport network.9. Supporting native and local investors in development projects… and also backing small and medium enterprises in local communities in various areas including fishing, agriculture, industry, and tourism.


[i] Across the Middle East, populations settled and cities grew alongside coastlines and rivers. See: Baghdad, Beirut, Benghazi, Cairo, Casablanca, Tel Aviv, Tunis, and Tripoli for example. Iran has been the exception. Cities developed across the Iranian plateau, separated from the Persian Gulf, Caspian Sea and Indian Ocean by mountain ranges or inhospitable badlands. While the 20th century oil boom brought some development to the Persian Gulf coast, nine of Iran’s top ten cities by population are landlocked, with Ahvaz connected to the Persian Gulf by the Karun, Iran’s only navigable river.

[ii] For previous discussion of Chabahar development, see: Michael Rubin, “Iran: Construction Begins on the Chabahar-Zahedan Railway” OE Watch, December 2020. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/379863

[iii] For background into Iran’s developing ties with Azerbaijan, see: Michael Rubin, “Iran Agrees To Gas Swap with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan” OE Watch, 01-2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/403778

[iv] For background about Iran-China economic ties, see: Michael Rubin, “Iranian Trade With China Is Up, but So Is Political Risk” OE Watch, 08-2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/42208

Image Information:

Image: Iran’s rugged but underdeveloped Makran coast littoral is pictured. Iran’s Supreme Leader has recently articulated a maritime development plan.
Source: https://www.ibena.ir/files/fa/news/1401/9/27/24702_342.jpg
Attribution: Ibena.ir

Russia Denies that North Korea Is Supplying It With Weapons for Use in Ukraine

Meeting of Russian and North Korean Defense Ministers at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang on 25 July 2023.

“The accusations made by the ‘collective West’ of ‘illegal’ military-technical cooperation between Russia and North Korea are unfounded and unsubstantiated.”

Relations between Russia and North Korea are drawing concern as new evidence emerges that Pyongyang has supplied Moscow with conventional munitions and missiles for use in Ukraine. Satellite activity from October 2022 revealed that North Korea supplied an arsenal of weapons – including short-range ballistic missiles, anti-tank missiles, and portable anti-air missiles as well as rifles, rocket launchers, mortars and shells.[i] If confirmed, North Korean sales of weapons to Russia would violate several UN Security Council resolutions  (1718, 2270, and 2321) going back to 2006, which ban the sales of all arms, ballistics systems, and related materials to and from Pyongyang. 

It is estimated Russia received some 350,000 artillery shells from North Korea. At a rate of fire of 10,000 per day at its high at the time of this writing (down from an estimated peak of 60,000 per day in 2022[ii]), that gives Russia just short of a two months’ supply. To put that figure in comparison, given American production levels of 24,000 artillery shells per month, that is more than the US produces in an entire year. The slower pace of Russian missiles fired (based on the 10,0000 per shells per day statistic) on Ukrainian cities could reflect its lack of supply, or it could be a sign of stockpiling in anticipation of a winter offensive, as some analysts suspect.[iii]  

For its part, Russia’s foreign ministry has vehemently denied any violations. According to the excerpted article in the pro-Kremlin news site Sputnik News, Russia denies any “illegal” weapons transfers. Yet satellite imagery starting in August 2023 captures some 1,000 containers leaving North Korea’s Rajin port bound for an ammunition dump near Ukraine’s border.[iv] Indeed, as of October 2023, research from CSIS indicates that cross-border activity at North Korea’s Tumangang Rail Facility has spiked to its highest levels since before the pandemic.

In exchange, Russia has reportedly provided technical support to North Korea’s nascent space program, as well as ICBM technology. Such assistance is likely needed given Pyongyang’s two previous attempts to launch reconnaissance satellites failed due to booster malfunctions. Theodore Postol of MIT has suggested that Russia also supplied North Korea with the Topol-M [R1] ICBM, the basis for its solid-fuel Hwasong-18 [RG2] missile.[v] Though these reported arms transfers are notable, the Russia-North Korean nexus is not new. After the Cold War, observers raised fears that out-of-work Russian nuclear scientists were assisting Pyongyang to develop nuclear weapons. Today, fears of an arms race are rising in Seoul.[vi] That has prompted South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. to begin sharing real-time missile warning data emanating from North Korea.[vii] Experts disagree whether the Russia-North Korea nexus is a sign of Russian weakness (Russia is badly in need of arms) or strength (Moscow has allies and an arsenal it can call on rapidly for arms). Whatever the assessment, this nexus bears attention from the U.S. Army.


“МИД РФ отрицает нарушение резолюций СБ ООН по Северной Корее (Russian Foreign Ministry Denies Violating UNSC Resolutions on North Korea),” Sputnik News (pro-Kremlin news outlet directed at foreigners), 11 November 2023. https://sputnikglobe.com/20231111/russian-foreign-ministry-denies-violating-unsc-resolutions-on-north-korea-1114884101.html  

“The accusations made by the ‘collective West’ of ‘illegal’ military-technical cooperation between Russia and North Korea are unfounded and unsubstantiated … Russia is responsible in fulfilling its international obligations, including Security Council resolutions. This does not prevent us from deepening traditional relations of friendship and cooperation with our neighbors, including North Korea,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted as saying by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Russian Foreign Ministry Ambassador at Large Oleg Burmistrov told Sputnik that Russia thoroughly abides by its international obligations towards Pyongyang within the Security Council’s resolutions.

Earlier in the day North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement distributed by the Korean media that friendship between Russia and North Korea will only strengthen in the future, and the United States will face a “powerful and coordinated response” if it attempts to disrupt stability in the region.“Relations of friendship and cooperation between two countries – Korea and Russia, striving for independence, peace and friendship, will unshakably strengthen and develop, and any attempts by the United States and its satellites aimed at disrupting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region will face a powerful and coordinated response from independent sovereign states,” the statement said. It said the US administration should get used to the “new realities of Korean-Russian relations.”


[i] Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.Victor Cha and Jennifer Jun, “Ongoing Arms Transfer Activity at Najin Port,” Beyond Parellel, CSIS, 17 October 2023. https://beyondparallel.csis.org/ongoing-arms-transfer-activity-at-najin-port/

 [ii] Jeff Schogol, “Russia is hammering Ukraine with up to 60,000 artillery shells and rockets every day,” Taks and Purpose. 13 June 2022. https://taskandpurpose.com/news/russia-artillery-rocket-strikes-east-ukraine/

[iii] Dara Massicot, “Putin’s Cannon Fodder: Foreign Affairs Interview,” Foreign Affairs, 2 November 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2sUEB_rRhA

[iv] The shipment came shortly before the leaders of Russia and North Korea met for five hours at Russia’s Vostochny Spaceport, according to TASS, the Russian News Agency. See: Five hours at Vostochny Spaceport: Putin, Kim Jong Un meet again four years later,” TASS (Russia’s main state news agency), 13 September 2023. https://tass.com/politics/1674459: The satellite imagery is further backed up by recent analysis by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) that found that two Russian vessels made at least five round trips between North Korea and Russia, believed to be arms transfers. See: Song Sang-Ho, “2 Russian ships made 5 trips between N. Korea, Russia since mid-Aug. in suspected arms transfers,” YonHap News Agency (South Korea’s leading news agency) 17 October 2023. https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20231017000351315

 [v] Theodore Postol of MIT suggests that Russia also had supplied North Korea with the Topol-M ICBM, the basis for its solid-fuel Hwasong-18 missile. See: Theodore Postol, “The Transfer of a Russian ICBM to North Korea?” Beyond Parallel, 17 August 2023. https://beyondparallel.csis.org/the-transfer-of-a-russian-icbm-to-north-korea/

[vi] Simon Hutagalung, “Russia and North Korea relations in transition,” Korea Times (English-language newspaper in Seoul), 5 November, 2023. https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/opinion/2023/11/137_362456.html

[vii] Anastasia Kostina, “Учения обстоятельств: США и Южная Корея отработают оборону от КНДР (Exercises of circumstances: the United States and South Korea will practice defense against the DPRK: How Pyongyang and Beijing react to the maneuvers of Washington and Seoul),” Izvestia (Russian news outlet), 30 October 2023. https://iz.ru/1596255/anastasiia-kostina/ucheniia-obstoiatelstv-ssha-i-iuzhnaia-koreia-otrabotaiut-oboronu-ot-kndr

Image Information:

Image: Meeting of Russian and North Korean Defense Ministers at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang on 25 July 2023.
Source: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meeting_of_Russian_and_North_Korean_Defense_Ministers_(2023)_01.png
Attribution: CCA 4.0

Russian Arctic Naval Activity and Capability Continue To Expand

The Knyaz Oleg arrives at the Northern Fleet in February 2022. The Knyaz Oleg is the fifth Borei-class submarine on active duty.

“Each of the Borei submarines can carry 16 ballistic Bulava missiles, each armed with 4 to 10 nuclear warheads.”

Despite the fighting in Ukraine, a military commitment in Syria, and Western sanctions, Russia continues to test new strategic systems and expand its Northern Fleet[i]—but not without a few hiccups. According to the excerpted article from Norway-based The Barents Observer, a Russian Borei-class strategic ballistic missile firing submarine, the Imperator Aleksandr III, is currently undergoing sea trials in the Arctic. The Imperator Aleksandr III is the seventh Borei-class [R1] submarine in operation with three more under construction and an additional two planned, for a total of twelve. The article notes that the Imperator Aleksandr III launched a Bulava strategic missile across the Russian Arctic from the White Sea to Kamchatka as part of its sea trials.[ii] The article also notes that a nuclear triad exercise on 25 October featured a canceled Bulava launch. According to the second excerpt, from the Russian Telegram channel Sirena, there have been six failed or canceled missile tests since June 2023. Despite the setbacks, and if a Bulava ballistic missile was fired from the Imperator Aleksandr III, Russia would continue to improve its missile capabilities and advance its strategic power in the Arctic.


Thomas Nilsen, “Newest submarine launched Bulava [R1] missile from White Sea,”

The Barents Observer (independent Norwegian news site in Russian and English currently blocked in Russia), 5 November 2023. https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/security/2023/11/newest-strategic-submarine-launched-bulava-missile-white-sea

It was Sunday morning, 5 November, when the Defense Ministry in Moscow reported that the Imperator Aleksandr III was sailing under the surface in the White Sea and launched a Bulava. A few minutes after breaking the surface in Russia’s northwestern region, the missile hit the designated target at the Kura range on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

The Imperator Aleksandr III (K-554) was launched in December last year from the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk and has since been undergoing state trials at sea and while at berth at the yard.

The submarine is the 7th Borei-class submarine and will likely be transferred to the Navy before New Year. Like the sixth submarine in the class, Generalissimus Suvorov, also the Imperator Aleksandr III will cross under the Arctic ice and sail for Russia’s Pacific Fleet.

Each of the Borei submarines can carry 16 ballistic Bulava missiles, each armed with 4 to 10 nuclear warheads. Three more subs of the class are currently under construction in Severodvinsk, and two more are planned, but no contracts have been signed.

When Russia tested its nuclear deterrence triad on October 25, the only submarine-launched ballistic missile fired was an older Sineava, fired from the Northern Fleet’s Delta-IV class Tula in the Barents Sea.

“Шесть испытаний российских ракет отменились или провалились с июня (Six Russian missile tests have been canceled or failed since June). Sirena (Russian Telegram Channel), 1 November 2023. https://t.me/news_sirena/20870

Since June 30, 2023, at least six unsuccessful rocket tests have taken place in Russia, a source at one of the rocket and space industry enterprises told Sirena . Some launches failed altogether. Here are the details:

On June 30, the Poseidon device was tested unsuccessfully – an underwater nuclear torpedo that should hit coastal areas, ships and naval bases. According to our source, the cooling sensor showed a lack of coolant, the reactor did not start, and the Poseidon was thrown out of the shaft, after which it sank. The next launch was planned for late October – early November, but it has been postponed.

On August 30, the third launch of the Sarmat complex did not take place. It was postponed due to a failure in the missile’s centralized control system, Sirena’s interlocutor claims.

On October 25, “presidential launches” took place – Putin led the tests. The Kremlin then stated that all the objectives of the exercises had been completed. Our source says that the Yars missile fell during the second stage of flight, and the Bulava launch was canceled at the last moment.

On October 31, the next Sarmat launch failed because the telemetry system failed. According to the source, this was explained by a mistake by the maintenance staff.

Today, the Sarmat fell 77 seconds into the flight, 300 kilometers from the launch site. This already happened to the complex in February. Test participants do not have clear versions of why something goes wrong.In September, the head of Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, said that the Sarmat complexes were put on combat duty. Sirena’s source believes that the Russian authorities were “obviously in a hurry” with this.


[i] It was previously reported that the Northern Fleet is expanding its capability by acquiring ice-class minesweepers for their Arctic waters.  See: Atle Staalesen, “Three ships of Russia’s new class of minesweepers are being built for Arctic waters,” The Barents Observer (independent Norwegian news site in Russian and English currently blocked in Russia), 22 June 2023. https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/security/2023/06/new-minesweepers-coming-northern-fleet

[ii] For more information on the Bulava nuclear capable submarine launched ballistic missile see: RSM-56 Bulava (SS-N-32), MissileThreat, CSIS Missile Defense Project, CSIS, 2 August 2021. https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/ss-n-32-bulava/

Image Information:

Image: The Knyaz Oleg arrives at the Northern Fleet in February 2022. The Knyaz Oleg is the fifth Borei-class submarine on active duty.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_submarine_Knyaz_Oleg – /media/File:K-552_at_Northern_fleet.jpg
Attribution: CC by 4.0

Russia’s Federal Budget Puts Economy on War Footing

The new Russian budget, 2024-2026, will throw a lifeline to the Russian defense industry as well as the war in Ukraine. Russian pavilion at a previous International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) held in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

“Everything for the front, everything for victory,” – Head of the Ministry of Finance, Anton Siluanov

On 27 November 2023, Russian President Putin signed the federal budget for 2024-2026. The budget dedicates a dramatic 30 percent of total expenditures to the Armed Forces and military industrial complex. According to the excerpted article from the Russian and English-language independent online newspaper The Moscow Times, the increase in funds dedicated to the military establishment is “2.3 times more than [was appropriated] in 2022.” For comparison, funds dedicated to the military represented only 17 percent of the federal budget in 2022 and 19 percent in 2023. That percentage will increase to 29.5 percent in 2024. The Russian government will also spend “another 3.338 trillion rubles under the heading ‘national security,’ which includes the budgets of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Guard, the special services and the FSIN[i] system. Thus, in total, nearly “40 percent of the [federal] budget will be spent on law enforcement agencies.” To make this happen, Russia will have to pull funds from other parts of its economy including healthcare (which will be cut by 10 percent), aid to small businesses (which will lose 20 percent), and the “development of Infrastructure for Scientific Research,” (which will be reduced by 25 percent). Notably, “funding for state propaganda,” a line item of Russia’s federal budget and a critical part of its war in Ukraine, would remain the same as in the last budget. The signing into law of the new budget comes in conjunction with multiple other significant financial changes, including the Russian reintroduction of capital controls[ii] to stabilize the ruble against the dollar and other global currencies.[iii] Taken together, the signaling demonstrates Russia’s determination to see the war to a positive outcome—at a time when funding for Ukraine in the U.S. and among other Western powers is under scrutiny.


“Путин утвердил рост расходов на армию до рекорда со времен СССР (Putin approved an increase in spending on the army to a record since Soviet times),” The Moscow Times (a Russian-English language online newspaper), 27 November 2023. https://www.moscowtimes.ru/2023/11/27/putin-razreshil-rosnefti-idesyatkam-goskompanii-zasekretit-informatsiyu-osebe-a114361

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, November 27, signed the law on the federal budget for 2024-26. According to the document, which was adopted by the State Duma on November 15 and approved by the Federation Council a week later, next year, for the first time since Soviet times, the Russian authorities intend to allocate almost a third of all expenditures on maintaining the army and the military-industrial complex.

For the year, under the item “national defense” the budget will spend 10.775 trillion rubles – 70% more than in 2023 (6.8 trillion), 2.3 times more than in 2022 (4.7 trillion), and three times higher than the pre-war 2021 indicators (3.5 trillion).

The share of military expenditures in the budget, the total size of which will be 36.66 trillion rubles, will reach 29.5%. For comparison: the current year’s budget initially included only 19% of defense spending (5 trillion rubles out of 26.1 trillion); in the first year of the war with Ukraine, this share was 17% (4.7 trillion rubles out of 27.8 trillion).

The USSR spent a third of its budget on defense in its final years. Thus, in the 1990 budget, 71 billion rubles out of 241.3 billion, or 29.4%, were allocated for “military purposes” (data published in the archive of ex-Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Yegor Gaidar).

According to the budget law, the government will spend another 3.338 trillion rubles under the heading “national security”, which includes the budgets of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Guard, the special services and the FSIN system. Compared to the current year, these expenses will increase by 163 billion rubles. Thus, in total, almost 40% of the budget will be spent on law enforcement agencies.

To make ends meet, the government will cut costs to support the national economy: they will decrease from 4.125 to 3.889 trillion rubles. Funding for education and medicine – 1.6 trillion rubles each – will be “frozen”, and in real terms – taking into account inflation – will be reduced.

Expenses under the national Healthcare project are planned to be cut by 10%, from 321.3 to 289.9 billion rubles, and the sequestration will affect almost all of its subprograms. Expenses under the federal project “Modernization of Primary Health Care” will be reduced by 14%, to 81.64 billion rubles. The federal project “Fighting Cancer” will lose weight by 8%, to 147.4 billion rubles. Expenditures on the development of children’s healthcare will be reduced by almost half – from 19.5 to 10.2 billion rubles; for the development of primary medical care – by 20%, to 7.677 billion rubles.

The national project to support small businesses will lose almost 20% of funding (67.7 billion rubles); Expenses for the federal project “Development of Infrastructure for Scientific Research” are reduced by 25% – to 47 billion rubles. Allocations for the state program “Development of the Aviation Industry” will be cut by 28% – 37.3 billion rubles. In addition, the government plans to save on supporting the regions: transfers to them from the federal budget will be less by 4% – 1.474 trillion rubles.

Funding for state propaganda will remain at record levels: state media will receive 121.3 billion rubles from the budget compared to 122 billion this year. Expenditures under the item “culture and cinematography,” which includes budgets for the creation of war propaganda films, will increase by 11%, to 234 billion rubles.“Everything for the front, everything for victory,” said the head of the Ministry of Finance Anton Siluanov in September, commenting on the document. He urged people not to worry that there would not be enough money in the treasury. “But there will be enough for what is planned. A normal, healthy budget,” the minister emphasized.


[i] FNIS is the Federal Penitentiary Service (ФСИН России), the federal authority for the detention of suspected and convicted persons, and the security and maintenance of prisons in Russia.

[ii] Capital Controls are measures taken by a government to limit the flow of foreign capital in and out of the domestic economy. Since the war in Ukraine began in February 2022, Russia has sought, among other regulatory actions, to stabilize the ruble by requiring that a large portion of all foreign currency profits made by Russian exporters be converted into rubles. For a recent discussion on some of the capital controls recently imposed by Russia, see: “Russia has tightened capital controls to help prop up ruble, report says,” The Guardian, 31 October 2023. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/31/russia-capital-controls-rouble-vladimir-putin

[iii] For more on other Russian moves to reduce the dominance and dependency of the U.S dollar, see: Dodge Billingsley, “Russia Enlists Partners To Attack U.S. Dollar To Fund War In Ukraine,” OE Watch, 09-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/russia-enlists-partners-to-attack-u-s-dollar-to-fund-war-in-ukraine/

Russia Details Plan To Overcome Military Drone Deficiencies

Russia and Ukraine are engaged in a drone war.  Here, an unidentified Ukrainian Special Forces soldier with small quadcopter UAV that will be modified to carry a small explosive charge.

“The military still faces a serious shortage of drones for strategic reconnaissance and subsequent strikes over fairly long distances. Saturating the troops with them would greatly increase our ability to identify and destroy enemy equipment accumulations and other priority targets.”

The use of unmanned armed vehicles (UAVs), or drones, on the battlefields of Ukraine has increased dramatically since the conflict began in February 2022. While Ukraine may have held the initial advantage, Russia continues to prioritize its drone capabilities.[i] In a recent meeting of the Ministry of Defense regarding weapons procurement, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu detailed the state of military drone procurement. According to the excerpted article from the Russian online publication Free Press, Shoigu noted that “Russia has trained 93,000 specialists to service the latest types of weapons, a significant part [of this workforce] of which are drone operators.” Shoigu also noted that drone operators were being trained at several military training centers “at universities,” and that the number of these training centers would soon rise from only 16 in 2022 to 139, although no timeline was given as to when all 139 training centers would be operational. The Free Press article also included an interview with Igor Korotchenko, the editor-in-chief of National Defense,[ii] a magazine focused on Russian defense and security issues, who noted that although Russian front-line troops were being “saturated” with drones, “the military still faces a serious shortage of drones for strategic reconnaissance and subsequent strikes over fairly long distances.” Korotchenko also noted that drones with these capabilities are being delivered to the frontlines but “the task is to saturate our battle formations with them as much as possible.” Finally, the article notes that at the end of 2022, Putin had declared Russia would boost spending on its military drone program from 4.4 billion rubles (approximately $48 million) to 92 billion rubles (approximately $1 billion) effective immediately, increasing spending up to 200 billion rubles (approximately $2.2 billion) by 2030.


“СВО: Российской армии срочно нужны дроны для наступления. По мере изменений тактики будут видоизменяться и модели боевых БПЛА (SVO: The Russian army urgently needs drones for the offensive. As tactics change, combat UAV models will also change),” Free Press (Russian socio-political online publication specializing in political, socio-economic and cultural news), 21 November 2023. https://svpressa.ru/war21/article/395461/ 

Supplies of unmanned aerial vehicles to the army have increased 16 times compared to the beginning of last year. Sergei Shoigu announced this at a meeting of the Ministry of Defense dedicated to state defense procurement. The head of the military department also cited other figures: the number of basic types of missile and artillery weapons in the troops increased by 4.9 times, high-precision long-range missiles by 5 times, and armored weapons by more than 3 times. In total, the supply of the army with various means of defeating the enemy has been increased 12 times. At the same time, the state defense order for the needs of the Northern Military District is clarified and adjusted 2-3 times a month depending on the needs of the front. The breakthrough in the field of unmanned aircraft can be considered a special achievement because before the SVO, we paid practically no attention to this type of weapons, and in the first months of the operation, the superiority of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in this component looked deafening. Our soldiers had to make do mainly with Chinese quadcopters, which caring citizens bought for the front in regular stores. Sergei Shoigu also said that in 2023, Russia has trained 93 thousand specialists to service the latest types of weapons, a significant part of which are drone operators. A certain percentage of them are now serving in the Northern Military District zone. Students at military training centers at universities are also learning to control combat drones. The number of such centers will soon reach 139, although the first 16 were created only last year. Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine, told Free Press about which drones are currently being used by our military in the Northern Military District zone, and which ones are in greatest need. Thus, the time when soldiers and officers had to master the control of quadcopters directly in combat conditions is over. And the drones that are now going into the army are no longer a mishmash of different Chinese toys. They are collected in Russia and are sufficiently standardized. — The Northern Military District zone is being massively saturated, first of all, with tactical-class drones, which are used for reconnaissance and attack operations against the enemy on the line of contact and the front line. These are mainly quadcopters. They can conduct surveillance and then be used like kamikazes. Such UAVs are most intensively used by the troops today,” says a military analyst. “The military still faces a serious shortage of drones for strategic reconnaissance and subsequent strikes over fairly long distances. Saturating the troops with them would greatly increase our ability to identify and destroy enemy equipment accumulations and other priority targets. The most important task is to hit vehicles with weapons and ammunition in a timely manner. And if we consider that our enemies are now preparing to redeploy F-16 [R1] fighters and ATACMS missiles with a range of more than 300 km to Ukraine, which can be launched from HIMARS[R2]  installations, then our strategic drones must be able to identify and destroy such targets. This task is now No. 1 for our engineers and designers. Until the end of 2022, drones remained in short supply in our troops. In December, Vladimir Putin instructed the government to prepare a national project for the development of unmanned aircraft. And in April, the president visited the capital’s Rudnevo technology park, which became a cluster for the production of UAVs. A meeting was also held there with the government and drone manufacturers. The talk in the open part was about unmanned civil aviation, but it is clear that any aircraft or copter initially has a dual use. During the meeting, the president gave a number of instructions. Among them is to increase the portfolio of government orders for unmanned aerial vehicles from 4.4 billion rubles to 92 billion, and by 2030 to 200 billion.

Technoparks for the production of UAVs, similar to the Moscow one, should be organized in all federal districts, and better yet, in all regions. Begin organized training and retraining of specialized specialists in the production and operation of UAVs.


[i] For additional reading on Russia’s increasing use of drones on the battlefield, see: Charles Bartles, “Russia Plans To Add Remote Mining UAV Platoons To Engineer Units,” OE Watch, 09-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/russia-plans-to-add-remote-mining-uav-platoons-to-engineer-units/

[ii] National Defense magazine is tied to Russia’s military industry complex and bills itself as covering a “wide spectrum of problems related to safeguarding Russia’s National Security.” For more information about National Defense, see its website: https://oborona.ru/

Image Information:

Image: Russia and Ukraine are engaged in a drone war.  Here, an unidentified Ukrainian Special Forces soldier with small quadcopter UAV that will be modified to carry a small explosive charge.
Source: Combat Films and Research
Attribution: By permission of Combat Films and Research

Russian Military Working To Respond to U.S. “Multi-Domain Operations”

“The main difficulty in conducting defense in the context of the enemy’s implementation of the “multi-domain battle” concept is that units, occupying strong points, positions and areas, are not able to quickly and effectively respond to enemy actions, especially when changing the direction of action and carrying out flanking maneuvers.”

Russia is working to understand the U.S. Army’s “multi-domain operations” (MDO) concept,[i] Which can roughly be described as the coordinated employment of the domains of war (land, air, sea, space, cyber, etc.) to achieve an operational-level objective.  The accompanying excerpted article from the monthly Russian military periodical, Armeisky Sbornik, discusses the Russian Armed Forces’ understanding of the U.S. MDO concept, the potential effects of MDO if employed against the Russian Ground Forces, and what course of action a Russian Battalion Tactical Group (BTG) should execute to best overcome it.[ii] The authors believe that a successful first strike on a Russian BTG by a U.S. Army MDO Brigade could be decisive due to the attrition of the BTG’s command and control and combat capabilities. The authors posit that the best defense for a BTG against an attacking MDO Brigade is the use of positional defense (as opposed to maneuver defense), and a preemptive attack. To achieve this, up to one-third of the combined arms subunits in the BTG should act as flanking or raiding detachments and conduct preemptive actions to hinder the enemy. These actions might include defeating artillery, air defense systems, and command posts, and disrupting command and control and logistics, thereby disrupting the MDO Brigade’s ability to conduct a decisive counter-attack. It is important to note that the authors, and many other Russian commentators, see the so-called “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine as not only a testing ground for new Russian military technologies and tactics, but also as a testing ground for new U.S./NATO technologies and tactics by way of Ukrainian proxies. As such, this article will likely be the first of many analyses discussing the best ways for the Russian Armed Forces to counter  U.S. military technology and tactics based on the lessons from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


R. Shaykhutdinov, I. Starodubtsev, “Оборона батальонной тактической группы в условиях «многосферного сражения» (The conduct of a defense by a battalion tactical group under conditions of «multi-domain battle»),” Armeisky Sbornik (monthly Russian military periodical), October 2023. https://army.ric.mil.ru/Stati/item/521356/

Against the background of strengthening the military power of Russia and China, the United States began to develop new approaches that would ensure the superiority of its troops in military conflicts with an enemy of comparable combat capabilities. The basic principles and procedures for conducting combat operations as part of interservice and coalition groupings of troops in various operational environments at the strategic, operational and tactical levels were formulated…

Military experts F.I. Ladygin, S.V. Afanasyev and A.V. Khomutov argue that such a model provides for the creation in the US ground forces of “a new type of formations deployed in advance in forward areas – “ multi-domain brigade tactical groups”, which will be able to operate in all environments, in isolation from the main grouping of troops, in conditions of constant contact with the enemy to identify his vulnerabilities and ensure the involvement of the main forces in them”…

The main difficulty in conducting defense in the context of the enemy’s implementation of the “multi-domain battle” concept is that units, occupying strong points, positions and areas, are not able to quickly and effectively respond to enemy actions, especially when changing the direction of action and carrying out flanking maneuvers. Also significant is the inevitable disunity of battalion defensive strong points during defense — when on a wide front these strong points cannot provide mutual fire support to one another, which can allow the enemy to employ flanking and raid actions to infiltrate the battalion’s combat formation….

The analysis of the views of the US and NATO command on the offensive and the experience of conducting a special military operation in Ukraine raises the need to search for new ways of conducting combat actions at the tactical level. The enemy’s use of modern weapons supplied by the united West, especially during shelling of Donetsk, Lugansk and other liberated areas, requires improved methods of action of combined arms formations when defeating the enemy.

The extreme saturation of modern armies with guided anti-tank weapons, air defense and missile defense systems has sharply increased the importance of the positional defense. The combat formation of a battalion tactical group in positional defense is built primarily in one echelon and includes: the first echelon, combined arms reserve, artillery units, air defense units, anti-tank reserve, as well as regular and attached units and fire assets that remain directly subordinate to the commander of the battalion tactical group…

An analysis of the possible distribution of forces and means of a battalion tactical group shows that with a “typical distribution” of forces and means of a battalion, taking into account the fact that before an attack the enemy will inevitably lay indirect and direct fires, shows that most of the fire will fall on strong points of the first echelon companies (on 50–60% of the battalion’s forces). Losses of the battalion tactical group can reach up to 70%.  Consequently, the existing methods of conducting the defense of a battalion tactical group raise questions regarding the capabilities of successfully completing a combat mission.  To increase the effectiveness of the defense of a battalion tactical group, it must conduct “preemptive actions”.

The method is based on active use of offensive actions when conducting defense, going beyond the front line. At the same time, up to 1/3 of combined arms subunits, acting as flanking and raiding detachments, carry out preemptive actions against the enemy, such as defeating artillery, air defense systems, command posts, and disrupting command and control and logistics.The essence of preemptive attack is to defeat enemy targets by flanking and raid groups of combat vehicles operating forward of the front line of defense in order to prevent further enemy offensive actions…


[i] “The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028 concept proposes a series of solutions to solve the problem of layered standoff. The central idea in solving this problem is the rapid and continuous integration of all domains of warfare to deter and prevail as we compete short of armed conflict. If deterrence fails, Army formations, operating as part of the Joint Force, penetrate and dis-integrate enemy anti-access and area denial systems; exploit the resulting freedom of maneuver to defeat enemy systems, formations and objectives and to achieve our own strategic objectives; and consolidate gains to force a return to competition on terms more favorable to the U.S., our allies and partners.” TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations – 2028 (Fort Eustis, VA: TRADOC, 2018), iii. https://adminpubs.tradoc.army.mil/pamphlets/TP525-3-1.pdf

[ii] For an in-depth analysis of the Russian Battalion Tactical Group (BTG), see: Lester W. Grau and Charles K. Bartles, “Getting to Know the Russian Battalion Tactical Group,” Royal United Service Institute, 14 April 2022. https://www.rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/getting-know-russian-battalion-tactical-group

Chinese-Tajikistani Security Cooperation Gaining Momentum (Matthew Stein and Peter Wood) (January 2024)

(Click image to download brief.)

Key Takeaways:

  • China and Tajikistan share a 477km border and have an estimated $1.78 billion in bilateral trade, which is significantly imbalanced in favor of China.
  • Recent years have seen a significant improvement in relations between China and Tajikistan, with China constructing a military base in 2016 near Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan and a November 2022 bilateral agreement to increase security cooperation.
  • China’s security cooperation with Tajikistan does not appear to conflict or cause friction with Tajikistan’s main security cooperation partner, Russia, but nevertheless advances Chinese interests in the region at a time when Russian support is limited due to its invasion of Ukraine.