Friday 2 Dec. 2022 Update: Indo-US Military Exercises Spark Chinese Objections.

China’s objections to the joint Indo-US military exercises conducted just 100 km from the Sino-Indian border seem to have fallen upon deaf ears. On Thursday, a spokesperson of the Indian Foreign Ministry stated that the exercises have “nothing to do with the 1993 and 1996 agreements” in place with the People’s Republic of China. “Since these were raised by the Chinese side, let me emphasize that the Chinese side needs to reflect and think about its own breach of these agreements of 1993 and 1996.” The ’93 agreement centers on maintaining peace along the Line of Actual Control. This is the area where the 2020 border clashes between Indian and Chinese troops occurred, which led to multiple deaths on both sides. So it goes without saying that the appearance of US troops in Uttarakhand and conducting exercises with Indian forces served to rub Beijing the wrong way. Defense ties between the US and India have grown strong in recent years. China’s behavior and actions have helped push together the US and Indian desire to counter and contain the PRC.  

The budding military rivalry between China and India is not restricted to the Himalayas. The two Asian giants are maneuvering for influence and control in and around the Indian Ocean region. Geopolitically, Beijing’s encroachment here is motivated at least partly by China’s determination to be regarded as the ascendant leader among Great Power equals. The ‘String of Pearls’ doctrine in the IO region was intended to encircle India. By investing in ports, infrastructure and defense exports to India’s immediate neighbors China has laid the foundation for future military bases and cooperation in the event of a large Sino-Indian war.  

Ukraine Update: 28 November, 2022

Nine months into the war finds Ukraine’s allies struggling to keep Ukraine supplied with arms and ammunition. As a rule, expenditure of ammunition and material in a war will exceed pre-war estimates. Ukraine is a classic example of this, requiring an almost constant resupply from the West to keep its armies fighting. Both Russia and Ukraine are burning through ammo and material at a pace not seen in Europe since World War II.  This incessant demand for weapons, ammunition and other material is starting to wear down European, and even US supplies and war stocks. Armories in many NATO nations have been stripped of artillery, anti-tank missiles, ammunition and air defense missiles for Ukraine. There is dangerously little remaining in NATO stockpiles. Now, the West scrambles to continue supplying Ukraine while simultaneously replenishing its own stockpiles.

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As Russian missile attacks against Ukraine’s power facilities increases, the Ukrainian government is considering a limited evacuation of Kiev residents to other areas where services have not been disrupted. The Russian attacks have brought on power outages and the water supply in much of Kiev has been disrupted. Kiev’s mayor, former heavyweight boxer Vitaly Klitschko told the British Broadcasting Company, “This is a temporary relocation of certain categories of people to the suburbs, where there may be services.”

With damage caused by Russian attacks and winter weather setting in, the national power grid is going to be taxed immeasurably between December and late February in many areas of Ukraine. Emergency cut-offs of electricity will become more common as the days go by. It is almost assured that Ukraine will need assistance from abroad to prevent a collapse of its electrical grid.

Author’s Note: I apologize for the longer-than-expected delay. That bug was a little more resilient than expected. It would seem the end of 2022 is shaping up to be busy so I’m getting on the ball. China update tomorrow and then we’ll go from there.

US and Chinese Defense Chiefs Likely To Meet In Cambodia

Following the pre-G20 meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as Xi’s apparent diplomatic outreach at the G20, China’s defense ministry is open to meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at a gathering of ASEAN defense ministers in Cambodia set for Tuesday or Wednesday. An actual meeting between Austin and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe has not been officially scheduled, but it does seem likely the two defense chiefs will meet while in Cambodia. Austin and Wei have not met or communicated since China suspended dialogue with the US in August after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. On the surface this appears to be the latest indication that relations between the US and China are moving in a more positive direction now.

Whether this holds true remains to be seen, but it’s evident that Beijing wants to at least be viewed as seeking a more productive relationship with the US and nations in the Western Pacific. For the domestic audience it portrays an image of China being treated as an equal. This has the potential to provide much needed political dividends for Xi down the line as the future of COVID-19 restrictions remains fluid. On the international stage the image of a less assertive and belligerent China should give Xi a temporary buffer and allow him to either deal with the slew of domestic matters or set the stage for the next phase of maneuvers on the geopolitical chessboard. Or both, perhaps.

North Korea Test-Fires Hwasong-17 ICBM On Friday Morning

North Korea reached another milestone on its path towards a seventh underground nuclear test when it test-fired a Hwasong-17 ICBM on Friday. The missile landed near Japanese waters, raising already high tensions in the region even more. The Hwasong-17 is an intercontinental ballistic missile still under development by the North. It has a range estimated at greater than 9,000 miles and will have the ability to hold MIRVs, or in layman’s terms more than one nuclear warhead.

 On Sunday, the US, South Korea and Japan released a statement condemning North Korea’s recent wave of ballistic missile firings. The leaders of the three nations also pledged to work closer to strengthen deterrence. Condemnation of this particular missile test came swiftly from the United States and many of its allies in the region. The US Vice President, in Bangkok attending a Asian-Pacific Cooperative Forum said, “We strongly condemn these actions, and we again call for North Korea to stop further unlawful, destabilizing acts. On behalf of the United States, I reaffirm our ironclad commitment to our Indo-Pacific Alliances. Together the countries represented here will continue to urge North Korea to commit to serious and sustained diplomacy.” A canned political statement to be sure, and between the lines it appears to confirm the US will continue regarding North Korea’s increasing boldness as a nuisance rather than a direct threat to the United States.  

Washington’s continued indifference could turn out to be a cataclysmic mistake which costs hundreds of thousands of NK, ROK and American lives one day.

Missile That Landed In Poland Was A Ukrainian SAM

After yesterday afternoon’s mass rush to judgment by many in the media regarding the missile that landed in Poland, this morning they are being forced to walk back their initial claims. As have a number of politicians and government officials in Ukraine, Poland and across Europe. The reason for this because the preliminary investigation has revealed the missile was not fired by the Russian military. It seems the missile was likely launched by Ukrainian air defense forces likely during a Russian cruise missile attack. Components of the missile, an SA-10 Grumble, came down near the Polish village of Przewodów and killed two Poles.

Both NATO and the Polish government said earlier there is no indication of a deliberate Russian attack. In Ukraine, the government in Kiev has amended its position on the matter. After vociferously blaming Russia for the act, government officials have become rather quiet and are requesting access to the site of the blast. In Brussels NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said there will be no Article 4 meeting until the investigations have been completed.

Yesterday’s incident caused anxiety and concern around the Western world. Since the start of the war in Ukraine the possibility of the fighting spilling across the border into the territory of a NATO member-state and widening the conflict has been a major concern from Washington to Brussels. The first reports from Poland made it appear as if NATO’s  greatest fear was coming to life. Luckily, as time went on it became clear this was not the case.