Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Wednesday, 12 July 2023.
- FIRST UP: Ukraine President Zelensky’s anger over the lack of an invitation to NATO upsets the Vilnius summit.
- Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was visibly angered by what he said was an “absurd” lack of a timeline for Ukraine to join NATO.
- NATO released an ambiguous statement saying that “when Allies agree and conditions are met” NATO will move forward on membership for Ukraine.
Why It Matters: There was no reasonable expectation that the NATO summit in Vilnius would invite Ukraine to join NATO while it is engaged in hostilities with Russia. Zelensky and his patrons’ continued petulance over the issue is likely to create more dissension within NATO on just how far to let Ukraine, or what is left of it after the war with Russia, into the Western fold. Ukraine has endemic corruption and structural democracy issues incompatible with the European Union and NATO frameworks. The added reluctance of NATO member states to set up an automatic trigger for Article V intervention in the conflict was probably not a surprise to anyone outside of Zelensky’s circle. – M.M.
- NORTH KOREA FIRES MISSILE INTO SEA: North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the East Sea after complaining this week about various alleged U.S. provocations.
- The U.S. military released a statement saying Pyongyang had fired an undetermined type of ballistic missile but did not provide additional details.
- North Korea’s state-backed media had alleged earlier this week that the U.S. was attempting to provoke Pyongyang with surveillance flights and the deployment of a nuclear submarine to South Korea.
Why It Matters: North Korea’s latest missile activity appears to be aligned with geopolitical agendas rather than actual tests of new capabilities. It is unlikely that Pyongyang would fire a ballistic missile at a U.S. or allied target without some type of additional ongoing conflict in the region. The occasional missile tests likely serve two purposes, the first being missile systems assurance checks and the second a sort of strategic “exclamation point” to whatever Pyongyang is complaining about at the moment. – M.M.
- TAIWAN SURROUNDED: Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said 38 Chinese warplanes and nine warships were detected around Taiwan this morning.
- 23 warplanes crossed the median line separating Taiwan territory from China
- The Shandong Carrier Strike Group was also noted operating in the area.
Why It Matters: China’s diplomatic language and military activities have become more aggressive in the past few months, indicating it may be considering aggressive actions against its neighbors or even U.S. forces routinely patrolling the South China Sea. – M.M.
- NATO CONCERNED ABOUT IRAN: NATO released a statement from Vilnius Tuesday calling on Iran to stop seizing foreign vessels in the Arabian Gulf and to halt its malicious activity in NATO member states.
- The statement also called for Iran to stop supporting Russia with arms and ammunition in its war against Ukraine.
- The NATO communique reiterated NATO’s “clear determination that Iran must never develop a nuclear weapon.”
Why It Matters: While NATO is mostly occupied with the Russia-Ukraine conflict, its communique from this week’s Vilnius summit did give a head nod to growing concerns that Iran will soon complete the construction of a nuclear weapon. Israel, which recently concluded its second full-scale rehearsal with the U.S. of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, is preparing to use kinetic means to disrupt Iran’s acquisition of such a weapon. – M.M.
- KREMLIN WARNS ON SECURITY ASSURANCES TO KIEV: The Kremlin said Wednesday that NATO member state security assurances to Ukraine would be a dangerous mistake.
- Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the proposed security assurance would impinge on the security of the Russian Federation and carry “highly negative consequences.”
- NATO is expected to announce a package of security guarantees for Ukraine later today.
Why It Matters: Since NATO cannot directly provide security guarantees within the framework of the alliance, it is marshaling individual member states to provide them. While on the surface, this is not a NATO security guarantee, it is in reality, and Moscow and its allies will likely view it as a fig leaf for NATO action. However, the Vilnius summit has produced mostly lukewarm communiques with little weight behind them so it is possible this package of security guarantees for Kiev will be more of the same. – M.M.
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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.