Global SITREP for Wednesday, 21 June 2023 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Wednesday, 21 June 2023

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Wednesday, 21 June 2023

  1. FIRST UP: Biden labels Xi Jinping a dictator
  • The Chinese Foreign Ministry took umbrage to President Joe Biden’s comments yesterday, calling President Xi Jinping a dictator. “The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment in it was he didn’t know it was there. That’s a great embarrassment for dictators, when they didn’t know what happened. That wasn’t supposed to be going where it was. It was blown off course,” Biden said.
  • “They’re an open political provocation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said of Biden’s comments.

Why It Matters: Weeks ago, Biden told reporters to expect a “thaw” in U.S.-China relations. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent trip to Beijing was heralded as a step in the right direction, which appears to have been erased by another Bidenism… not that relations would have improved greatly, anyway.

  1. STATE VISIT: Biden “won’t lecture Modi” during D.C. visit
  • A group of Democratic lawmakers are pushing back on the fanfare surrounding Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S., criticizing him for having a poor human rights record. Some 75 Democratic lawmakers want President Biden to address “areas of concern” with Modi during a White House visit.
  • White House national security advisor Jake Sullvan said that Biden “won’t lecture” Modi during his state visit to D.C., but will bring up these concerns.

Why It Matters: Modi is receiving mixed reception in D.C. as India is simultaneously a key partner in the U.S. strategy to contain China, a key part of BRICS moving to de-dollarize portions of its international trade, and has a government that officially sanctions Hindu nationalism and repression of religious minorities. Somehow, I think the Biden administration can look past Modi’s record, and Modi knows that, too.

  1. VIETNAM: South Korea’s Yoon calls for closer defense ties
  • South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called to “strengthen security cooperation with Vietnam, so a rules-based order will be able to take firm root in the Indo-Pacific region.”
  • Yoon also said he hoped that both countries’ defense industries could cooperate.

Why It Matters: Yoon is in Vietnam this week to cement progress on economic and defense relations. He implied that South Korea could provide high tech weaponry to Vietnam, which would help the embattled country become a harder target for China – a policy shared by both India and Japan. On a related note, Japan’s helicopter destroyer JS Izumo pulled into Vietnam for a port call yesterday so defense officials could discuss maritime defense and security cooperation. Defense officials from three regional powers (India, Japan, and South Korea) are in Vietnam in the same week, by the way.

  1. WORLD WAR 3: Former U.S. General says Crimea could be liberated by end of summer
  • Retired U.S. Army LTG Ben Hodges renewed previous calls that Ukraine could push the Russians out of Crimea by the end of summer. (I believe he previously predicted they would.)
  • Hodges called on the Biden administration to arm the Ukrainians with Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), which would enable strikes into Russian defense facilities in Crimea.

Why It Matters: Hodges believes the Ukrainians could cripple Crimea by cutting off supply lines, destroying air facilities, and forcing Russian ships out of port with indirect fire from ATACMS, provided the Ukrainian counter offensive breaks through Russian defensive lines. There’s a greater chance that Kiev gets leveled before the Ukrainians force Russia to give up Crimea – a significant escalation that could spiral quickly.

  1. CARDENZA: Lavrov, CSTO to hold talks on future action
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to attend talks with other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – Russia’s equivalent of NATO that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
  • Talks will center on “multilateral cooperation, … prospects for future interaction,” and the “international and regional [security] situation,” according to Russian media.

Why It Matters: Officials from Belarus and Russia have both claimed that Western countries are trying to destabilize Central and Southwest Asia, such as the Caucasus and Afghanistan, respectively. Talks will most likely center on a collective response to these regional security liabilities, such as the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Armenia has long complained, and even threatened to leave the CSTO, due to collective inaction.

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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