Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Wednesday, 07 June 2023.
- FIRST UP: China-Russia joint air patrols rile Japan, South Korea
- Chinese and Russian strategic bombers completed a second joint air patrol over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea this morning, riling Japanese and South Korea national security officials.
- Japan and South Korea scrambled fighters in response, while Japanese officials expressed their “serious concern”.
Why It Matters: Japan is on alert due to increased Russian activities around its disputed Kuril Islands and Chinese activities around its disputed Senkaku Islands. Japan could be forced to defend both island chains in the next Pacific conflict.
- HYPERSONIC: Iran unveils new hypersonic missile system
- The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) unveiled a new hypersonic missile reportedly capable of reaching speeds of Mach 13-15.
- In a possibly related development, the U.S. Treasury yesterday sanctioned a number of Iranian and Chinese individuals and business entities over association with Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Why It Matters: Despite bragging that the hypersonic missile is domestically produced, it’s possible that Iran had some help from the only two countries with a demonstrated hypersonic capability: Russia or China. Iran could now be in a position to deny access to the Arabian Gulf as the U.S. lacks the capability to stop hypersonic missiles.
- MUNITIONS: U.S. Army behind on munitions production
- Army Secretary Christine Warmuth said that the U.S. Army needs to reconsider the current just-in-time approach to the munitions inventory.
- “Obviously we’ve seen huge usage of munitions in Ukraine, and I think that the just-in-time sort of approach to logistics and munitions is an assumption that we need to relook. So we are really looking at ramping up our production so that we’ll have much deeper magazines in the future.”
Why It Matters: The U.S.-Taiwan deterrence strategy is severely undercut by the U.S. military’s low munitions stocks and its slower, longer, and more costly munitions production cycle. The defense establishment believes China could launch operations against Taiwan between 2025-2027, and the U.S. Army is just now “really looking” at increasing munitions production rates to replace 3-7 years worth of stocks transferred to Ukraine.
- COLD WAR: Russia likely to increase its Cuban military presence
- Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that Russia is ready to begin joint oil production with Cuba, during a press conference with Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz.
- Cuban officials said that Russia would also help restart a steel mill, develop the country’s sugar industry, and invest in dozens of other ventures.
Why It Matters: Russian trade and investment deals are likely aimed at three outcomes. First, strengthening a U.S. adversary in the Western Hemisphere. Second, strengthening the Cuban dictatorship against internal unrest. And third, revitalizing the Soviet-era strategic relationship that will almost certainly see Russia’s military presence on the island grow.
- DE-DOLLARIZATION: House to hold hearing on USD dominance
- The U.S. House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing this morning on protecting the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency.
- They will likely discuss H.R. 556, the “21st Century Dollar Act,” which directs the U.S. Treasury Department to identity a strategy to keep the USD as the world reserve.
Why It Matters: An increase in non-dollar trade among BRICS and other countries is so far producing more smoke than fire, but dollar threats are mounting. Dollar dominance will almost certainly be eroded this decade, although the dollar is likely to remain the least bad option among far worse currencies for the foreseeable future.
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.