Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Monday, 12 June 2023.
- FIRST UP: Saudi officials ignore Western concerns in deepening China ties
- Saudi Arabian Investment Minister Khaled Al-Faleh said that the Arab region and China must become strategic partners, not competitors. Al-Faleh characterized the ties as a new modern Silk Road as Saudi Vision 2030 becomes integrated with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Saudi Economic Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said that he ignored Western concerns over growing ties because “as a business person… you will go where opportunity comes your way.”
Why It Matters: Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest corporation, just finalized two multi-billion dollar deals to develop an oil refinery and petrochemical facility in China. Aramco will almost certainly begin accepting payments in Chinese yuan, striking a blow to the petrodollar and opening the door to third-party countries also using the yuan. Chinese defense manufacturer Norinco, by the way, owns a controlling share of the planned Saudi-backed oil refinery, which makes it a much-needed fuel supplier to the People’s Liberation Army.
- FRIENDS: North Korea’s Kim to “hold hands” with Putin
- North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un said he would “hold hands” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and develop “closer strategic cooperation”.
Why It Matters: North Korean weapons have been recovered on the Ukraine battlefield, although it’s uncertain if these are legacy weapons Russia had before the war. Kim’s comments have solidified the Russian alliance, opening the door to increased weapons trade.
- CONGRESS: Send U.S. ATACMS to Ukraine
- A bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives are pushing the Biden administration to provide Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to Ukraine. ATACMS have a much greater range than previously-supplied missile systems.
- A handful of Republicans and Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees urged the White House to also send F-16 fighters, tying the success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive directly to U.S. materiel support.
Why It Matters: The Biden administration’s pattern over the past year is to reject the transfer of more advanced weapons to Ukraine, and then decide to send the next round of more advanced weapons, anyway. The provision of ATACMS would allow Ukraine to strike deep within Russian support zones, including into Russian territory.
- EXERCISE: IAF plans largest exercise ever
- The Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning its largest air exercise ever later this year.
- Up to a dozen countries, including the United States, are expected to take part.
Why It Matters: The Indian military over the past year has conducted the largest exercises in the country’s history. Along with increasing the size and scope of its own, India is sending its forces abroad to participate in joint military exercises. This is part of the “New India” campaign to establish the country as a global economic and military power.
- HUNT FORWARD: U.S. CYBERCOM sends first ever cyber team to Central/South America
- Speaking at the annual Cyber Summit last week, Brigadier General Reid Novotny announced that U.S. Cyber Command sent its first cyber team to the Southern Command area of responsibility in Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
- The team took part in “hunt-forward” operations, designed to root out foreign malign cyber actors from U.S. and allied defense information networks. [READ MORE]
Why It Matters: U.S. Cyber Command’s “defend-forward” and “hunt-forward” missions are intended to counter the growing cyber capabilities of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and other countries. Although BG Novotny didn’t say which Latin American country was involved, Colombia is the United States’ strongest Latin America ally and is also coming under increased interest from China.
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.S.