Putin’s War Is America’s Opportunity – by Walter Russell Mead (Wall Street Journal – May 29, 2023)


Ukraine will emerge as a formidable force in Europe—and one aligned with the U.S.

American policy conversations about Ukraine often assume that Ukraine is a problem. For some, it represents a distraction from China. Others fear Russian escalation and retaliation. Still others worry about the financial cost of supporting Ukraine’s army and propping up its war-blighted economy.

These concerns are real and have their place, but they miss the main point. Vladimir Putin’s ill-judged, ill-planned and ill-prosecuted war has ignited a national awakening in Ukraine. The country emerging from Putin’s War will be a formidable new force in Europe whose interests and outlook place it firmly in alignment with the U.S.

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China’s ironic reticence on land grab in Ukraine – by Jeff Pao (Asia Times – February 25, 2023)


Reviving map use of old Chinese names for Russian-conquered territory, Beijing won’t call out Moscow over Donbas

China’s newly-released plan to promote peace talks between Ukraine and Russia conspicuously fails to say clearly whether Moscow should withdraw its troops from the Donbas region now.

China’s foreign ministry released a 12-point statement on Friday, the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling on both sides to cease fire and open a dialogue to resolve their conflicts politically. The statement does not go beyond saying in generalized language that the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries should be protected in accordance with international laws, including the UN Charter.

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Opinions: How Western scholars overlooked Russian imperialism – by Botakoz Kassymbekova (Al Jazeera.com – January 24, 2023)


Botakoz Kassymbekova is an Assistant Professor of Modern History at the University of Basel

For far too long, Western academia has ignored the legacies of the Russian Empire and colonisation.

When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, discussions emerged about the imperial nature of the war. Scholars who spoke up about it were quickly dismissed in certain Western academic and political circles.

Some, especially the self-professed “anti-imperialists”, claimed Russia was “provoked” and portrayed Ukraine’s resistance as a “Western imperial” plot. Others considered analyses of Russian imperialism as having a pro-war, hawkish agenda or being a reflection of narrow ethno-nationalist sentiments.

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How to win the hot war in Ukraine and the cold war that will follow it (The Economist – February 23, 2023)


After a year there is so much to mourn. The dead, on both sides. The living, scattered across Europe by Russian missiles. The world’s poor, struggling to buy bread. But, addressing his nation this week, Vladimir Putin was unrepentant.

Ukraine’s allies can congratulate themselves that they have done their part to counter Mr Putin’s remorseless assault—though, with its courage and resolve, Ukraine itself deserves most credit. They have converged on two principles: that Ukraine must win, and that it is for President Volodymyr Zelensky to define what victory means. When he visited Kyiv on Tuesday, President Joe Biden was living proof of America’s commitment.

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Russian Mercenaries Are Destabilizing Africa – by Colin P. Clarke (New York Times – January 31, 2023)


One of the groups that have risen to international prominence (or infamy) with the invasion of Ukraine is Wagner, a Kremlin-backed mercenary outfit that regularly employs former criminals. In Ukraine, they often fight when conventional Russian Army troops flee the battlefield, and they are noted for their brutality.

But it’s Wagner’s activities in Africa, especially the geopolitically important Sahel region, that require closer attention. Formed in 2014 by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a longtime loyalist of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Wagner was created to support Russia’s initial foray into Ukraine nine years ago.

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Japan ups the ante on defence spending – by Derek H. Burney (National Post -January 24, 2023)


Germany and Japan are injecting needed spine into the security posture of America’s allies. But where is Canada?

Shortly after Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared that, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany would bolster defence spending for national and regional security, the Japanese government released its long-awaited military strategy for the next decade.

Japan labelled China as its “biggest security challenge” and declared that it would increase military spending dramatically to US$51.4 billion in 2023 and a total of US$318 billion over five years “to deal with the most severe and complex security environment since World War II.” This marks a significant shift from its military’s previous defensive-only postwar posture.

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Congress authorizes 8% defense budget increase – by Bryant Harris (Defense News – December 15, 2022)


WASHINGTON — The Senate voted 83-11 on Friday to authorize an 8% defense budget increase over fiscal 2022 levels. The FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act adds $45 billion to what the White House requested in its defense budget proposal.

The $858 billion NDAA — which includes roughly $817 billion in Defense Department spending — also includes a 4.6% pay raise for troops as well as billions of dollars in additional funding to help the Pentagon cope with inflation, expand capacity for the defense industrial base to produce major weapons systems and continue certain programs the Biden administration had sought to cancel.

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Don’t Fear Putin’s Demise – by Garry Kasparov and Mikhail Khodorkovsky (Foreign Affairs – January 20, 2023)


Victory for Ukraine, Democracy for Russia

GARRY KASPAROV is Chair of the Human Rights Foundation, Co-Founder of the Russian Action Committee, and a former world chess champion. MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY is Co-Founder of the Russian Action Committee and a former political prisoner in Russia.

The regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin is living on borrowed time. The tide of history is turning, and everything from Ukraine’s advances on the battlefield to the West’s enduring unity and resolve in the face of Putin’s aggression points to 2023 being a decisive year. If the West holds firm, Putin’s regime will likely collapse in the near future.

Yet some of Ukraine’s key partners continue to resist supplying Kyiv with the weapons it needs to deliver the knockout punch. The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden in particular seems afraid of the chaos that could accompany a decisive Kremlin defeat.

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It’s Costing Peanuts for the US to Defeat Russia – by Timothy Ash (CEPA.org – November 18, 2022)


Former President Trump, and others in the US including some Democrats as well as Republicans, have criticized continued US support for Ukraine in its war with Russia. They have called for military and financial support to Ukraine to be cut, even ended. They downplay the risk from Russia and argue that the money should be spent at home.

Yet from numerous perspectives, when viewed from a bang-per-buck perspective, US and Western support for Ukraine is an incredibly cost-effective investment.  Altogether, the Biden administration received Congressional approval for $40bn in aid for Ukraine for 2022 and has requested an additional $37.7bn for 2022. More than half of this aid has been earmarked for defense. 

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Tesla needs nickel to dominate the car industry. It just signed a $5 billion deal with the metal’s largest source – by Nicholas Gordon (Fortune Magazine – August 11, 2022)


If Elon Musk wants to sell 20 million cars a year by 2030, he’ll need a lot of nickel—a key metal used in the electric batteries that power Tesla cars. And now, after years of wooing, the largest source of the metal seems to have won the Tesla CEO over.

On Monday, an Indonesian cabinet minister told CNBC Indonesia that Tesla had agreed to buy $5 billion worth of nickel products from the Southeast Asian country over the next five years. Indonesia is the world’s biggest source of nickel, with about 23.7% of the world’s reserves, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. (The U.S. imports most of its nickel—which is also used to make alloys like stainless steel—from Canada, Norway, Finland, and Australia).

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Russia’s Potanin dodges politics and sanctions to flourish (Reuters – May 4, 2022)


May 4 (Reuters) – So far, at least, “Nickel King” Vladimir Potanin is Russia’s ultimate survivor. Unlike many of Russia’s notable oligarchs, he has not been sanctioned by the United States or the European Union for his closeness to President Vladimir Putin.

And as Western companies quit Russia because of those sanctions, imposed as retaliation for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, he has snapped up assets to expand his own banking business. On Monday, Potanin’s Interros holding company said it had bought United Card Services, the Russian unit of U.S.-listed Global Payments, for an undisclosed sum.

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The Battery Boom Will Redraw Geopolitical Maps – by Tsvetana Paraskova (Oil Price.com – May 03, 2022)


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed, once again, the vulnerability of the global energy markets and economy to the actions of petrostates with the power to weaponize their energy resources for political purposes. In the biggest shock to oil flows since the 1973 Arab oil embargo, the war in Ukraine and the hesitancy of Europe to immediately punish Putin threw into sharp relief the geopolitical power that countries with huge oil and gas resources currently hold.

The European Union’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is to wean off Russian energy as soon as possible and reduce overall fossil fuel consumption in the longer term in order to stop being beholden to malign actors for energy sources.

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The Geopolitics of the Rare-Metals Race – by Guillaume Pitron (The Washington Quarterly – April 25, 2022)

The Washington Quarterly

The 20th century was the era of black gold; the 21st will
undoubtedly be the era of metals

In 2010, a team of Pentagon officials and American geologists uncovered Afghanistan’s best kept secret: a plethora of mining resources such as lithium, copper, cobalt—including 1.4 million metric tons of rare-earth elements, estimated to be worth more than $1 trillion, all of them essential to modern industry.

After this development, Afghanistan, according to The New York Times, rapidly became heralded as a country which could “be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world.” More than a decade later, however, US forces filing out of Afghanistan were leaving these resources untapped, attracting the interest of neighboring nations.

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Trilateral AUKUS defence pact expands to hypersonic missiles and electronic warfare – by Steven Chase (Globe and Mail – April 6, 2022)


A defence pact among three of Canada’s allies that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has dismissed as merely a submarine sale arrangement on Tuesday expanded its scope to include two major security threats: hypersonic missiles and electronic warfare.

The United States, Britain and Australia announced they will work together to develop their capacity to launch and intercept hypersonic missiles – which travel five times the speed of sound and can change course in mid-flight – as well as electronic warfare, which is the use of the electromagnetic spectrum to disrupt enemy operations.

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America’s ‘Invisible Aircraft’- As Russia Controls Titanium Supply Chain, How US Secretly Sourced This Mineral To Build The Blackbird – by Tanmay Kadam (EurAsian Times – March 28, 2022)


The Russia-Ukraine war has the aerospace companies worried as it may disrupt the supply of titanium, a key mineral used in the manufacture of various components of modern aircraft.

Kevin Michaels, managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory, a supply-chain consulting firm, has sounded an alarm by saying that Russian President Putin can shut down the commercial aerospace business if he chooses to do so.

VSMPO-AVISMA Corporation based in Verkhnyaya Salda, Russia, is the world’s largest titanium producer. It supplies 30-35% of the titanium used by the aviation sector globally. Aerospace giants such as Boeing and Airbus are heavily dependent on Russian titanium.

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