Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Thursday, 22 June 2023.
- FIRST UP: Ukraine targets a bridge to Crimea
- Ukrainian forces damaged the Chonhar bridge to Crimea this morning in an effort to disrupt Russian supply lines to the peninsula both countries claim as their own.
- Russian officials have promised retaliation. [READ MORE]
Why It Matters: Kiev remains committed to the narrative they’ll retake Crimea this year. While I believe that’s unlikely, these kinds of strikes will fuel the narrative that they can or will. The potential battle for control of Crimea represents a flashpoint in the conflict, as Russian officials repeatedly say attacks on Crimea represent a red line. If Ukrainian threats on Crimea increase, so will the likelihood of potentially catastrophic Russian attacks.
- TAIWAN: U.S., China in tit-for-tat Taiwan Strait operations
- A U.S. Coast Guard cutter, operating under the Navy’s 7th Fleet, conducted freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday.
- A day later, a Chinese carrier strike group sailed through the Strait with its J-15 fighters carrying out simulated attack runs against Taiwanese targets. [READ MORE]
Why It Matters: While USCG FONOPs transits through the Strait are rare, Coast Guard cutters are being tasked with expanded operations in the Indo-Pacific to fill in gaps of the U.S. Navy’s presence.
- GEOPOLITICS: China blocks UN Security Council vote on notorious terrorist
- China blocked a United National Security Council vote to designate Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Sajid Mir to the list of global terrorists and blacklist him under international terrorism sanctions. Mir is accused of plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 175 people.
- Indian diplomats denounced the move as the result of “petty geopolitical interests”. [READ MORE]
Why It Matters: A Chinese explanation was not available as of this morning, however, the act does appear purely geopolitically-motivated. China has repeatedly blocked designations of known terrorists wanted by India, which may be China’s way of exercising power over India and the United States on the international body.
- SPYING: Apple fixes vulnerability used to spy on Russians
- U.S. tech company Apple reported that it had fixed an iPhone vulnerability reportedly used by the U.S. National Security Agency to spy on Russian officials.
- Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky identified the vulnerability after claiming some its own employees were targets of cyber espionage. [READ MORE]
Why It Matters: Intelligence exploitation of U.S. electronics companies will continue driving the “de-risking” trend between East and West, as de-risking cuts both ways. Foreign governments, such as Russia and China, famously began transitioning away from Microsoft Windows software and U.S. computer manufacturers following revelations that backdoors enabled NSA spying.
- LOBBYING: U.S. officials try to convince non-aligned countries to sanction Russia
- U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan is scheduled to meet officials from Brazil, India, and South Africa – and possibly China and Turkey – in an attempt to push them to condemn or sanction Russia over the war in Ukraine.
- Sullivan will also propose conditions for a resolution to the conflict at the meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. [READ MORE]
Why It Matters: The meeting looks like a desperate attempt to build pressure among Russia’s friends to lobby for an end to the conflict – something you’d expect if the Ukrainian counteroffensive were unlikely to succeed. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this week that the counteroffensive against Russia was going “slower than desired,” a possible sign that both he and Western leaders are looking for a ceasefire instead of absolute victory.
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.