Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Friday, 21 July 2023.
- FIRST UP: Poland repositions military units to border in response to Wagner operations in Belarus
- Poland’s Security Committee decided to move the military units on Wednesday following the commencement of Wagner training exercises with Belarus special forces.
- The move follows Warsaw deploying 500 additional police to maintain border security.
Why It Matters: Poland is on higher alert now that the Wagner Group is in Belarus, reportedly to train Belarusian military forces. Estimates are that between 25,000 and 30,000 Wagner paramilitaries are in Belarus now – a considerable number of combat-experienced soldiers. Despite comments by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigohzin that Wagner would not participate in the war in Ukraine, both Kiev and Warsaw need to honor the threat of an army corps-sized military force on their borders. – M.M.
- PUTIN: AN ATTACK ON BELARUS IS AN ATTACK ON RUSSIA: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that an attack by Poland on Belarus would be considered an attack on Russia.
- Putin’s comments were about Poland repositioning military units to its border with Belarus following the arrival of Wagner mercenaries in Belarus.
- Putin emphasized that Belarus is part of the Union State and, as such, has security guarantees from Moscow.
Why It Matters: In Putin’s response, he mentions a rumored Polish-Lithuanian military group reportedly training to enter western Ukraine to assist Kiev in its fight against Russia. Putin claims that this unit may also attempt to seize some Belarusian territory. While Poland has denied its intention to enter the conflict, it is possible that if Kiev fails in its counteroffensive, a NATO force could enter western Ukraine as a stabilization force to ensure the Russian advances do not cross the Dnieper River or threaten Kiev. – M.M.
- MI-6 USING AI TO SPY: The U.K. foreign intelligence agency MI-6 reportedly uses artificial intelligence to hamper the supply of weapons to Russia.
- MI-6 chief Richard Moore said the agency was combining their skills with AI and bulk data to identify and disrupt the flow of weapons to Russia for use against Ukraine.”
- Moore added that malicious actors will use AI in the future, and intelligence agencies like MI-6 will need to develop the ability to track and disrupt its use.
Why It Matters: Moore gave a public speech in which he revealed that intelligence agencies worldwide are using AI to trawl through big data sets to discover hidden information. He also stressed the importance of the human factor in employing AI to influence decisions inside governments and other targeted groups. For years intelligence agencies have sought a way to move beyond “the human driver” and employ AI to manage cross-functional information collection platforms. Moore’s comments say they have achieved that goal. – M.M.
- SOUTH KOREA TEST NEW NUKE-CAPABLE MISSILE: South Korea successfully tested a new type of nuclear-capable ballistic missile for its new arsenal ship.
- The Hyunmoo-V missile has a range of 1,860 miles and carries an eight-ton conventional warhead, but it can carry a nuclear payload.
- The missile was designed to destroy enemy underground command centers, nuclear missile bases, and other critical infrastructure.
Why It Matters: South Korea is not a nuclear state, but it may have a covert nuclear program with an eye on building a nuclear deterrent against China and North Korea. The U.S. deployment of a nuclear missile submarine to South Korea this week may have been a U.S. effort to address South Korea’s nuclear deterrence requirement, but it is unlikely to replace Seoul’s long-term efforts in that direction. – M.M.
- BOLIVIA NOW LITHIUM KING: Bolivia increased its confirmed lithium reserves to 23 million tons on Thursday, making it the country with the world’s largest known deposits of the rare earth metal.
- The increase came after geological studies in the Coipasa and Pasto Grandes salt flats.
- Last month Bolivia signed a mining deal with China’s Citic Guoan and Russia’s Uranium One Group to exploit Bolivian lithium deposits.
Why It Matters: Lithium is a primary component in electric vehicle batteries and is a highly sought-after rare earth metal. Control of vast reserves of lithium deposits is now in China and Russia’s hands. While electric vehicles have a minimal relative value in military hardware and weapons, the commercial lithium market could bring in considerable revenue, which countries like China and Russia could use to influence Western economies and markets. – M.M.
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THAT’S A WRAP: This does it for today’s edition. Thank you for reading. If you know folks who would also like to receive this email, would you please forward it to them? We appreciate you spreading the word. – M.M.