Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Tuesday, 23 May 2023.
WHAT: The Global SITREP is a free daily email briefing about geopolitics and defense from Forward Observer.
WHY: We want to share five important global developments shaping Cold War 2.0.
BOTTOM LINE: We’re sending out this email Monday through Friday on a trial basis through the end of the month, so be sure to let us know if you want it continued. Thank you! – M.S.
- FIRST UP: Israel sees “high potential” for “big war” with Hezbollah
- Israeli intelligence chief Aharon Haliva warned that the country could be on the verge of war. Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah “is close to making a mistake that could plunge the region into a big war. He is close to making this mistake from Lebanon or Syria.” [READ MORE]
Why It Matters: The warning coincides with unconfirmed reports of Iran moving chemical weapons into Syria.
- CROSS BORDER: Ukraine launches raid into Belgorod, Russia
- Members of a Ukrainian special operations force conducted a raid into Belgorod. Russian officials released video of the force approaching the Grayvoron border checkpoint following an artillery bombardment.
- As of early this morning, Russian authorities were still sweeping the area, looking for the Ukrainian force, allegedly made up of Russian partisans.
Why It Matters: Ukrainian attacks into Russia to date have been focused on destroying logistics depots and transportation nodes. The raid into Grayvoron is reportedly an effort to seize tactical nuclear warheads from the nearby Strategic Rocket Forces nuclear storage facility 15 km from Grayvoron.
- LONG HAUL: German intelligence chief says Putin not weakened
- According to German Intelligence, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not been weakened by the Ukraine war. “We see no cracks in the Putin system,” BND chief Bruno Kahl said.
- “Russia is still capable of waging a [long term] war” in terms of equipment, munitions, and manpower, according to the BND’s assessment. [READ MORE]
Why It Matters: This is the exact opposite of mainstream reporting in the United States, where Putin has become weak and insular, and is in constant fear for his life. This German intelligence assessment is also in line with a Lithuanian intelligence assessment from earlier this year, which reported that Russia has enough supplies to continue the Ukraine war for at least two years.
- ARMEXIT: Armenia considering leaving the CSTO
- Armenia is considering an exit from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Russia’s Central Asian equivalent of NATO.
- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan expressed his unhappiness with the lack of CSTO action to mediate the border war with Azerbaijan.
Why It Matters: Armenia is increasingly frustrated that neither Russia nor CSTO have intervened on its behalf in the Azerbaijan conflict. Armenia’s exit would be a black eye for Russia and CSTO.
- DEFENSE ONLY: Papua New Guinea not a “blank check” for US war
- Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said the recent U.S. defense cooperation deal is not a “blank check” to launch attacks against China.
- Papuan officials welcomed internal defense and infrastructure development the U.S. deal will provide.
Why It Matters: These comments are likely intended to calm Chinese fears over similar U.S. defense deals with the Philippines and Micronesia. While these smaller, weaker island nations will receive security and economic benefits, the flip side is that they also become potential targets during a U.S. war with China.
THAT’S A WRAP: This does it for today’s edition. If you want us to keep going, let us know in the comments or via email. And sign up below to receive this report in your inbox each day, Monday through Friday.