Global SITREP for Tuesday, 20 June 2023 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Tuesday, 20 June 2023

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Tuesday, 20 June 2023

ADMIN NOTE: In yesterday’s report, I wrote that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was true when it was written. Blinken did, however, meet with Xi unexpectedly on the tail end of his trip. – M.S.

  1. FIRST UP: China’s Project 141 targets Cuba
  • China and Cuba are in talks to build a joint military training facility, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • U.S. officials have reportedly pressured Cuba against the decision, which has reportedly not been finalized.
  • The proposed joint training facility is part of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Project 141 to build out a global military support and logistics footprint, according to U.S. intelligence. This would be the first Chinese military facility in the Western Hemisphere.

Why It Matters: The Cuban economy is in dire straits. Food, fuel, fertilizer, and equipment imports are unfunded because the country is running out of foreign reserves. The Cubans seem willing to trade a foreign military presence for much-needed aid, while the facility would allow China its first PLA foothold in the Western hemisphere – likely to be a thorn in the side of the U.S.

  1. NATGAS: Qatar, China announce 27-year gas deal
  • Qatar Energy and China National Petroleum Corporation signed a 27-year agreement for Qatar to provide natural gas to China. This is the second big deal this year.

Why It Matters: China is in the process of diversifying its oil, gas, food, and other commodities sources. China’s biggest push over the past couple years is rerouting the flow of oil and gas through land-based pipelines from the Middle East, instead of relying on shipping through the vulnerable Malacca Strait through which 80% of their oil and gas passes through today. 

  1. SHIPPING: Pakistan, China sign nuclear power deal
  • Pakistan and China announced a nearly $5 billion deal to build a nuclear power plant in the Punjab region of Pakistan.
  • “Investment from China in this project to the tune of $4.8 billion sends a message loud and clear that Pakistan is a place where Chinese companies and investors continue to show their trust and faith,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said.

Why It Matters: Pakistan’s Punjab Province is an important area for shipping and transportation from ports in Gwadar and Karachi, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. While Pakistan appreciates foreign direct investment that weans them off fossil fuels, China’s investment is aimed at keeping the flow of oil and gas coming through Pakistani ports.

  1. RUNNING OUT: Germany down to less than 10% of required artillery rounds
  • The German military is down to just 20,000 artillery shells due to transfers to the Ukrainian military. 
  • That’s less than 10% of the 230,000 required by NATO.

Why It Matters: Germany is down to just a couple of days of artillery rounds in a high intensity war. We’ve noted similar inventory problems in other NATO countries. This is probably pushing NATO to pursue a ceasefire in Ukraine, as opposed to keeping the war going indefinitely. 

  1. BUDDING: Vietnam, India further defense cooperation
  • Vietnamese and Indian military leaders are again discussing boosting defense cooperation, specifically looking at improving maritime security and defense.
  • India gifted Vietnam with a naval corvette to improve the country’s naval defense capabilities. It follows a donation of other defense vessels last year.

Why It Matters: China’s maritime militia and fishing boats continue to batter Vietnamese waters, spurring high demand in Vietnam for foreign defense support. Meanwhile, India has been expanding its own maritime and naval capabilities, and last year signed a naval logistics pact with Vietnam. We probably won’t see India defending Vietnamese waters from China, although the growing relationship is in part an effort to push back on Chinese bullying.

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.

Mike Shelby is a former Intelligence NCO and contractor. He's now the CEO of Forward Observer.

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