Global SITREP for Tuesday, 25 July 2023 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Tuesday, 25 July 2023

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Tuesday, 25 July 2023.

  1. FIRST UP: Russia threatens harsh retaliation after Ukraine drone strikes on Moscow skyscrapers.
  • A spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Russia reserves the right to take tough retaliatory measures following drone strikes in Moscow and Crimea this week.
  • The U.S. said on Monday that it does not support Ukrainian attacks on targets inside Russia.

Why It Matters: The domestic backlash from the largely symbolic Ukrainian drone attacks on Moscow and Crimea is hitting the Putin regime. Hard right nationalists, disappointed with Russia’s performance in Ukraine, are taking to blog posts and media to demand a harsh response from Moscow. Russia’s robust air attacks on Odesa and Kiev this week are helping the Kremlin domestically, so expect some further retaliatory action in response to Ukraine’s recent drone strikes. – M.M.

  1. SECOND U.S. NUKE SUB TO SOUTH KOREA: The U.S. military sent a second nuclear-powered submarine to South Korea for a port visit.
  • The USS Annapolis is a nuclear-powered attack submarine with conventional munitions that conducts anti-ship and antisubmarine operations. 
  • The Annapolis docked at a South Korean naval base on the island of Jeju for resupply.

Why It Matters: Recent U.S. nuclear submarine deployments have triggered North Korea, although their presence on the peninsula is mostly performative. U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarines could strike North Korea from anywhere in East Asia, and its attack submarines routinely patrol international waters in the region. North Korea has conducted a series of test launches of ballistic and cruise missiles in retaliation for the deployments; however, Pyongyang has a history of rattling its sabers over nearly every U.S. military movement or exercise in the region. – M.M.


  1. MORE MILITARY AID TO UKRAINE: The Biden administration is sending an additional $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.
  • The aid package includes a variety of munitions, advanced air defense systems, and a number of small surveillance Hornet drones.
  • The weapons are being provided through presidential drawdown authority, allowing the Pentagon to take items from its stocks quickly.

Why It Matters: The U.S. is also sending artillery ammunition and 32 Stryker armored vehicles, demolition equipment, mortars, Hydra-70 rockets, and 28 million rounds of small arms ammunition, all of which will come from present U.S. military war stocks. The depletion of U.S. ammunition and weapons supplies, set aside for training and contingency operations, will impact U.S. military readiness during increased geopolitical tensions abroad, including a potential conflict with China in the Pacific. – M.M.

  1. U.S. SANCTIONS MALI DEFENSE OFFICIALS: The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions on a number of Mali’s senior defense officials on Monday.
  • The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Mali’s Defence Minister, Air Force Chief of Staff, and Deputy Chief of Staff for working with Russia’s Wagner Group paramilitary contractor in local counterterrorism operations against Islamic militants.
  • French and United Nations forces were asked to leave Mali in 2021 after eight unsuccessful years of counterterrorism and peacekeeping operations.

Why It Matters: Mali has been the subject of a brutal Islamic extremist insurgency. After years of what Malian officials considered ineffective military assistance from the West, Malian officials brought in Russia’s Wagner Group to put down the insurgency. The U.S., French, and United Nations have since complained of overly aggressive combat operations, which have allegedly produced higher civilian casualties. The Mali government’s embrace of Russia’s Wagner Group appears to be a thorn in Washington’s side, and a sanctions regime against Malian officials was a predictable outcome. – M.M.

  1. CHINA’S FOREIGN MINISTER OUT: China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang was removed from his post after a mysterious month-long absence.
  • Former Foreign Minister Wang Yi will replace Qin.
  • Qin served as China’s ambassador to the U.S. until July 2021.

Why It Matters: Qin Gang was a trusted advisor to China’s President Xi Jinping and rapidly rose through the ranks. His mysterious disappearance is a hallmark of the Chinese Communist Party Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and Qin was likely caught up in either corruption or ethical issues regarding associations with foreign entities or politically questionable Chinese officials. Qin’s removal from the foreign minister position is unlikely to significantly impact China-U.S. relations. – M.M.

DON’T MISS my next Early Warning report, focusing on developments in the global balance of power. It’s released to DailySA subscribers each Friday.

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.

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