The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 24 November 2022

This is the 24 November 2022 issue of our weekly scan for political and geopolitical risks or, more largely, conventional and unconventional national and international security (open access). Scroll down to access the scan.

The signals of this weekly are neither edited nor sorted out. They are the raw result of the algorithmic process and of crowdsourcing. They remain nonetheless relevant, even more though this year considering the high level of tension.
You can use these issues to test your skills in selecting signals from noise, and in experimenting the fuzzy boundaries between categories.

Using horizon scanning, each week, we collect weak – and less weak – signals. These point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve.

As every week, below the scan itself, we briefly explain what is horizon scanning and what are weak signals.

The Scan

The 24 November 2022 scan→


Horizon scanning, weak signals and biases

We call signals weak, because it is still difficult to discern them among a vast array of events. However, our biases often alter our capacity to measure the strength of the signal. As a result, the perception of strength will vary according to the awareness of the actor. At worst, biases may be so strong that they completely block the very identification of the signal.

In the field of strategic foresight and warning, risk management and future studies, it is the job of good analysts to scan the horizon. As a result, they can perceive signals. Analysts then evaluate the strength of these signals according to specific risks and dynamics. Finally, they deliver their findings to users. These users can be other analysts, officers or decision-makers.

You can read a more detailed explanation in one of our cornerstone articles: Horizon Scanning and Monitoring for Warning: Definition and Practice.

The sections of the scan

Each section of the scan focuses on signals related to a specific theme:

  • world (international politics and geopolitics);
  • economy;
  • science including AI, QIS, technology and weapons, ;
  • analysis, strategy and futures;
  • the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • energy and environment.

However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement.


Featured image: Image of the Swedish-ESO 15m Submillimeter Telescope (SEST) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. The photo was taken by Stefan Seip, one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors.

The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 17 November 2022

(The photo was taken by Stefan Seip, one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors

This is the 17 November 2022 issue of our weekly scan for political and geopolitical risks or, more largely, conventional and unconventional national and international security (open access). Scroll down to access the scan.

Using horizon scanning, each week, we collect weak – and less weak – signals. These point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve.

The 17 November 2022 scan→


Horizon scanning, weak signals and biases

We call signals weak, because it is still difficult to discern them among a vast array of events. However, our biases often alter our capacity to measure the strength of the signal. As a result, the perception of strength will vary according to the awareness of the actor. At worst, biases may be so strong that they completely block the very identification of the signal.

In the field of strategic foresight and warning, risk management and future studies, it is the job of good analysts to scan the horizon. As a result, they can perceive signals. Analysts then evaluate the strength of these signals according to specific risks and dynamics. Finally, they deliver their findings to users. These users can be other analysts, officers or decision-makers.

You can read a more detailed explanation in one of our cornerstone articles: Horizon Scanning and Monitoring for Warning: Definition and Practice.

The sections of the scan

Each section of the scan focuses on signals related to a specific theme:

  • world (international politics and geopolitics);
  • economy;
  • science including AI, QIS, technology and weapons, ;
  • analysis, strategy and futures;
  • the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • energy and environment.

However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement.


Featured image: Image of the Swedish-ESO 15m Submillimeter Telescope (SEST) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. The photo was taken by Stefan Seip, one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors.

The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 10 November 2022

This is the 10 November 2022 issue of our weekly scan for political and geopolitical risks or, more largely, conventional and unconventional national and international security (open access). Scroll down to access the scan.

Using horizon scanning, each week, we collect weak – and less weak – signals. These point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve.

The 10 November 2022 scan→


Horizon scanning, weak signals and biases

We call signals weak, because it is still difficult to discern them among a vast array of events. However, our biases often alter our capacity to measure the strength of the signal. As a result, the perception of strength will vary according to the awareness of the actor. At worst, biases may be so strong that they completely block the very identification of the signal.

In the field of strategic foresight and warning, risk management and future studies, it is the job of good analysts to scan the horizon. As a result, they can perceive signals. Analysts then evaluate the strength of these signals according to specific risks and dynamics. Finally, they deliver their findings to users. These users can be other analysts, officers or decision-makers.

You can read a more detailed explanation in one of our cornerstone articles: Horizon Scanning and Monitoring for Warning: Definition and Practice.

The sections of the scan

Each section of the scan focuses on signals related to a specific theme:

  • world (international politics and geopolitics);
  • economy;
  • science including AI, QIS, technology and weapons, ;
  • analysis, strategy and futures;
  • the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • energy and environment.

However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement.


Featured image: Image of the Swedish-ESO 15m Submillimeter Telescope (SEST) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. The photo was taken by Stefan Seip, one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors.

The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 3 November 2022

This is the 3 November 2022 issue of our weekly scan for political and geopolitical risks or, more largely, conventional and unconventional national and international security (open access). Scroll down to access the scan.

Using horizon scanning, each week, we collect weak – and less weak – signals. These point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve.

The 3 November 2022 scan→


Horizon scanning, weak signals and biases

We call signals weak, because it is still difficult to discern them among a vast array of events. However, our biases often alter our capacity to measure the strength of the signal. As a result, the perception of strength will vary according to the awareness of the actor. At worst, biases may be so strong that they completely block the very identification of the signal.

In the field of strategic foresight and warning, risk management and future studies, it is the job of good analysts to scan the horizon. As a result, they can perceive signals. Analysts then evaluate the strength of these signals according to specific risks and dynamics. Finally, they deliver their findings to users. These users can be other analysts, officers or decision-makers.

You can read a more detailed explanation in one of our cornerstone articles: Horizon Scanning and Monitoring for Warning: Definition and Practice.

The sections of the scan

Each section of the scan focuses on signals related to a specific theme:

  • world (international politics and geopolitics);
  • economy;
  • science including AI, QIS, technology and weapons, ;
  • analysis, strategy and futures;
  • the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • energy and environment.

However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement.


Featured image: Image of the Swedish-ESO 15m Submillimeter Telescope (SEST) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. The photo was taken by Stefan Seip, one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors.

Can You Unbias Analysis? The Russian Nuclear Threat

Starting in mid-September 2022, the Western media and political world has been abuzz with a Russian threat of nuclear Armageddon. Against such evil, the West, supporting Ukraine, may only show outrage, unveil the real malevolent nature of Russia and increase pressure to try to deter Russia, so runs the narrative.

On 27 October 2022, reputable news agency Reuters published a fact-box on the said Russian nuclear threat: “Factbox: Has Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons?“. Because this is a factbox and Reuters publishing it, then we are meant to believe not only what is included in the article, but, also, most importantly, the implicit conclusion: Russia is guilty of unwarrantedly threatening the world with a nuclear strike.

The article by Reuters is a perfect example of what should NOT be done if one wants to have a clear understanding of an escalation process. The way Reuters looks at evidence leads to a biased analysis, be it intentionally, for propaganda motivation or for the sake of political correctness, or unintentionally by lack of analytical skill.

Can you do better than Reuters? With this article we open a competition with an award at the end: re-publication of the best result first received as a complete article and complimentary registration to our online course “Mitigating biases“.

First we shall explain what is wrong with Reuters’ analysis. Out of this explanation we shall highlight what should have been done and what you must do if you want to participate in the competition. Share your chronology with us either as comment for this article or by using our contact form (paste your text in the message box).

To help you we shall stress what we identified in open source as a major starting point for the “Russian nuclear threat”.

What’s wrong with Reuters’ analysis?

When you read Reuters’ article, you immediately notice that only a couple of statements are presented, that they are most often only a sentence extracted from a speech, without context, that the exact references (dates, place, type of speech) are not given and replaced by a link to another Reuters’ article. In the meanwhile, the gist and the reasons for the statements are lost. If the reader does not make the effort to read the other article, assuming the other article is unbiased, then s/he cannot have a proper understanding of the reference used. These are already major flaws for a proper analysis.

Then, and this is the major issue, in the first and last part of the article, only one side’s statements, the Russian one, are highlighted.

Imagine that you are watching a film, and that you only hear what actor A says and see what actor A does. Meanwhile, everything related to the other actors, B, C, D, etc. is muted and blackened. This film would be neither very interesting nor actually understandable.

Yet, this is what readers accept from journalists – and unfortunately often from academics and researchers. This is also what many so-called analysts offer to decision-makers.

Yet, statements in international politics, especially considering the stakes of a nuclear war – mutual assured destruction (M.A.D.), can NEVER be considered without what other actors express and do. Similarly, actions cannot be understood without also looking at relevant others’ actions. Note that domestic politics and interactions should also ideally be taken into account, and here we mean the whole political sphere in the noblest and most complex meaning of the term, not politician politics.

In this exercise, though, we shall only limit ourselves to international statements.

A correct approach to analysis and what you must do

Once we know that international politics is about interactions, then what must be done is easy to understand.

What you will get is certainly not the final resulting analysis. It is however the basis for a good analysis. Once you obtain this foundation, then you can add other elements to refine your understanding. Alternatively, if you do not do this first step right, then everything else will most probably be flawed, however brilliant your other reasonings and well documented your other pieces of information.

We must build a chronological record of relevant statements (and ideally actions) by relevant actors, and read them and understand them as chronological INTERACTIONS.

Thus, for this competition, what we challenge you to do is to rebuild this chronology of main relevant statements (with proper references).

To use again the film metaphor, we ask you to make appear major relevant actors B, C, D, E, etc. alongside Russian and allied actors A(s). In doing so, you will give the audience the sound when everyone speaks – and for the bravest among you – the image when everyone acts.

You can post the reconstructed chronology below in the comments, with a valid email if you want to make sure you will be able to win the free access to our online course “Mitigating biases“. You do not have to give your real name if you are afraid to do so, but the email must be valid. You can also use our contact form (paste your text in the message box).

How it all began

To help you, we share what we identified as the start of this newly perceived threat, as highlighted by the media.

Reuters takes as starting point President of Russia Vladimir Putin 21 September 2022 televised address to the nation as described in the corresponding Reuters’ article: Guy Faulconbridge, “Putin escalates Ukraine war, issues nuclear threat to West“.

The real, primary reference is Address by the President of the Russian Federation, in relation to the Executive Order on partial mobilisation in the Russian Federation, the two being dated 21 September 2022, published on the website of the President of Russia.

If you want to properly understand what is truly happening, the original text of the address must be read, not the commentary by Reuters. Commentaries are best read after the primary material.

If you read attentively both the original address and Reuters’ article verbatim quote, you notice that first President Putin stresses the perception of threat felt by Russia as created by the West, he labels “the nuclear blackmail”:

“Washington, London and Brussels are openly encouraging Kiev to move the hostilities to our territory. They openly say that Russia must be defeated on the battlefield by any means, and subsequently deprived of political, economic, cultural and any other sovereignty and ransacked.

They have even resorted to the nuclear blackmail. I am referring not only to the Western-encouraged shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, which poses a threat of a nuclear disaster, but also to the statements made by some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO countries on the possibility and admissibility of using weapons of mass destruction – nuclear weapons – against Russia.”

Address by the President of the Russian Federation, 21 September 2022, reference

It is only after this explanation of the Russian perceptions that we find President Putin’s sentence highlighted by Reuters and others as the threat to use nuclear weapon:

“In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.”

Address by the President of the Russian Federation, 21 September 2022, reference

Thus, first, to read the integrality of a speech chronologically gives us insights into the perceptions and understanding of others, which is truly key for a good analysis and even more important in terms of foresight as well as prevention.

Second, we can note that there is nothing new here in Putin’s statement, compared to the Russian nuclear doctrine, as detailed in the Executive Order of the President of the Russian Federation of June 2, 2020 No.355 – “Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence”, notably paragraph 19 (access text through Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation – long upload time – or through Defense Media, St Petersburg; for a Western analysis explaining the Western fear regarding this doctrine, Mark B. Schneider, “Russian Nuclear Threats, Doctrine and Growing Capabilities“, RealClear Defense, 28 July 2022).

19. The conditions specifying the possibility of nuclear weapons use by the Russian Federation are as follows:

a) arrival of reliable data on a launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of the Russian Federation and/or its allies;

b) use of nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction by an adversary against the Russian Federation and/or its allies;

c) attack by adversary against critical governmental or military sites of the Russian Federation, disruption of which would undermine nuclear forces response actions;

d) aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.

Many in the U.S., however, tend to perceive the Russian nuclear doctrine as a kind of right to use nuclear weapons in case of any type of defeat against the West. This perception is now largely spread as the reality of the Russian nuclear doctrine, even so it is only an American interpretation of the doctrine. Indeed, even in the U.S., controversies exist regarding this understanding. The American perception and controversies are well described in a U.S. Congressional Research Service’s document: “Russia’s Nuclear Weapons: Doctrine, Forces, and Modernization, Updated April 21, 2022:

“This doctrine has led some U.S. analysts to conclude that Russia has adopted an “escalate to de-escalate” strategy, where it might threaten to use nuclear weapons if it were losing a conflict with a NATO member, in an effort to convince the United States and its NATO allies to withdraw from the conflict. Russian officials, along with some scholars and observers in the United States and Europe, dispute this interpretation; however, concerns about this doctrine have informed recommendations for changes in the U.S. nuclear posture.”

Congressional Research Service’s document: “Russia’s Nuclear Weapons: Doctrine, Forces, and Modernization, Updated April 21, 2022

Finally, Putin confirms what a regular reading of international news and a bit of memory tells us, other actors related to NATO have made statements or acted in such a way that a feeling of threat related to nuclear deterrence was prompted in Russia.

Since 2007 for the most recent phase, many episodes of heightening tension regarding nuclear threats can be traced throughout historical interactions between the West and notably the U.S., on the one hand, and Russia on the other, as reminded by Schneider (ibid.). For the latest spat, which is of concern to us, President Biden in a one hour interview recorded on 15 September 2022 and aired on 18 September, prompted by the speculations of the journalist, was the first to greatly hype a possible Russian nuclear threat:

Scott Pelley: As Ukraine succeeds on the battlefield, Vladimir Putin is becoming embarrassed and pushed into a corner. And I wonder, Mr. President, what you would say to him if he is considering using chemical or tactical nuclear weapons.

President Joe Biden: Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. You will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II.

Scott Pelley: And the consequences of that would be what?

President Joe Biden: I am not going to speculate–

Scott Pelley: What would the U.S. response be?

President Joe Biden: You think I would tell you if I knew exactly what it would be? Of course, I’m not gonna tell you. It’ll be consequential. They’ll become more of a pariah in the world than they ever have been. And depending on the extent of what they do will determine what response would occur.

President Joe Biden: The 2022 60 Minutes Interview – 18 September 2022

Here, President Biden expresses the American pervasive fear and perception created by the 2020 Russian nuclear doctrine. This fear is real. Furthermore, Russia is also perceived as a real danger to the U.S. national interest as we explained previously (see Hélène Lavoix, The American National Interest, The Red Team Analysis Society, 22 June 2022).

This 15/18 September interview, added to the repeated absurdity of accusing Russia to bomb itself on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, may be taken as a possible origin or trigger for the Russian perception of Western nuclear blackmail as expressed by Putin on 21 September (e.g. Jacopo Barigazzi, “G7 calls for return of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to Ukraine control“, Politico, 23 October 2022).

Thus, if we look at the chronology, it is the American fear of the Russian nuclear threat, that is the origin of the near panic regarding that threat, not Putin’s statements. Of course, Putin’s statements in reply then alimented the American fear. we have here a perfect case of escalation.

Meanwhile, the claim by Reuters that “The recent surge in concern over a possible nuclear escalation come after two Putin speeches last month in which he clearly indicated that he would, if needed, use nuclear weapons to defend Russia”, is false.

To examine the right sequence of statements and events, in the right order, shows why there is escalation, how it could be avoided or on the contrary intensified. It also highlights perceptions and thus would help in acting properly to achieve objectives. For example, assuming peace were really the aim, understanding perceptions would show how fears could be assuaged and the situation progressively stabilised. However, up until November 2022, the aim in the Western world appears to have been more about supporting Ukraine so that it achieves victory, than about peace (e.g. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin: ““Ukraine needs our help to win today. And they will still need our help when the war is over”, Speech at Ramstein Air Base, Politico, 26 April 2022 British Foreign Minister James Cleverly : “We will support them [Ukraine] until this war is won. We will support them until their sovereignty is restored”, “UK Vows to See Ukraine ‘Through to Victory’ Over Russia, The Defense Post, 4 October 2022; EU Van der Leyen: “I’m deeply convinced you will win this war… There’s one clear rule: The conditions are defined by Ukraine. It’s your decision,” Oleksiy Sorokin, Kiev Independant, 15 September 2022 – note that in early November 2022 support might be changing towards negotiation, e.g. Missy Ryan, John Hudson and Paul Sonne”U.S. privately asks Ukraine to show Russia it’s open to talks, Washington Post reports”U.S. privately asks Ukraine to show it’s open to negotiate with Russia“, The Washington Post, 5 November 2022).

Can you now reconstruct a proper timeline of statements for all sides on the nuclear threat issue and improve on Reuters’ article? We are looking forward to reading your chronologies.

Featured image: Firestorm cloud over Hiroshima, United States Army, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – 6 August 1945: “This image was identified in March 2016 as the cloud created by the firestorm that engulfed” Hiroshima after the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb on the city, “a fire that reached its peak intensity some 3hrs after the bomb… Earlier estimates derived solely from the quantity of fuel in the city, and more recently on the height of the Pyrocumulonimbus cloud both point at approximately 1000 times the equivalent energy of the bomb having been released by this firestorm. During the birthing of this cloud, 20 mins after detonation soot filled black rain began to fall on survivors. Climate scientists suggest that 100 of these identical firestorm clouds could cause 1-2 celsius of “catastrophic” global cooling, which is termed a small “nuclear winter”.

The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 27 October 2022

This is the 27 October 2022 issue of our weekly scan for political and geopolitical risks or, more largely, conventional and unconventional national and international security (open access). Scroll down to access the scan.

Using horizon scanning, each week, we collect weak – and less weak – signals. These point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve.

The 27 October 2022 scan→


Horizon scanning, weak signals and biases

We call signals weak, because it is still difficult to discern them among a vast array of events. However, our biases often alter our capacity to measure the strength of the signal. As a result, the perception of strength will vary according to the awareness of the actor. At worst, biases may be so strong that they completely block the very identification of the signal.

In the field of strategic foresight and warning, risk management and future studies, it is the job of good analysts to scan the horizon. As a result, they can perceive signals. Analysts then evaluate the strength of these signals according to specific risks and dynamics. Finally, they deliver their findings to users. These users can be other analysts, officers or decision-makers.

You can read a more detailed explanation in one of our cornerstone articles: Horizon Scanning and Monitoring for Warning: Definition and Practice.

The sections of the scan

Each section of the scan focuses on signals related to a specific theme:

  • world (international politics and geopolitics);
  • economy;
  • science including AI, QIS, technology and weapons, ;
  • analysis, strategy and futures;
  • the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • energy and environment.

However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement.


Featured image: Image of the Swedish-ESO 15m Submillimeter Telescope (SEST) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. The photo was taken by Stefan Seip, one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors.

The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 20 October 2022

This is the 20 October 2022 issue of our weekly scan for political and geopolitical risks or, more largely, conventional and unconventional national and international security (open access). Scroll down to access the scan.

Using horizon scanning, each week, we collect weak – and less weak – signals. These point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve.

The 20 October 2022 scan→


Horizon scanning, weak signals and biases

We call signals weak, because it is still difficult to discern them among a vast array of events. However, our biases often alter our capacity to measure the strength of the signal. As a result, the perception of strength will vary according to the awareness of the actor. At worst, biases may be so strong that they completely block the very identification of the signal.

In the field of strategic foresight and warning, risk management and future studies, it is the job of good analysts to scan the horizon. As a result, they can perceive signals. Analysts then evaluate the strength of these signals according to specific risks and dynamics. Finally, they deliver their findings to users. These users can be other analysts, officers or decision-makers.

You can read a more detailed explanation in one of our cornerstone articles: Horizon Scanning and Monitoring for Warning: Definition and Practice.

The sections of the scan

Each section of the scan focuses on signals related to a specific theme:

  • world (international politics and geopolitics);
  • economy;
  • science including AI, QIS, technology and weapons, ;
  • analysis, strategy and futures;
  • the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • energy and environment.

However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement.


Featured image: Image of the Swedish-ESO 15m Submillimeter Telescope (SEST) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. The photo was taken by Stefan Seip, one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors.

The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 13 October 2022

This is the 13 October 2022 issue of our weekly scan for political and geopolitical risks or, more largely, conventional and unconventional national and international security (open access). Scroll down to access the scan.

This week, the signals are the raw result of the algorithmic process and of crowdsourcing. They are neither edited nor sorted out. They remain nonetheless relevant, even more though considering the current high level of tension.
You can use this issue of the Weekly to test your skills in selecting signals from noise, and in experimenting the fuzzy boundaries between categories.

Using horizon scanning, each week, we collect weak – and less weak – signals. These point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve.

The 13 October 2022 scan→


Horizon scanning, weak signals and biases

We call signals weak, because it is still difficult to discern them among a vast array of events. However, our biases often alter our capacity to measure the strength of the signal. As a result, the perception of strength will vary according to the awareness of the actor. At worst, biases may be so strong that they completely block the very identification of the signal.

In the field of strategic foresight and warning, risk management and future studies, it is the job of good analysts to scan the horizon. As a result, they can perceive signals. Analysts then evaluate the strength of these signals according to specific risks and dynamics. Finally, they deliver their findings to users. These users can be other analysts, officers or decision-makers.

You can read a more detailed explanation in one of our cornerstone articles: Horizon Scanning and Monitoring for Warning: Definition and Practice.

The sections of the scan

Each section of the scan focuses on signals related to a specific theme:

  • world (international politics and geopolitics);
  • economy;
  • science including AI, QIS, technology and weapons, ;
  • analysis, strategy and futures;
  • the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • energy and environment.

However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement.


Featured image: Image of the Swedish-ESO 15m Submillimeter Telescope (SEST) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. The photo was taken by Stefan Seip, one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors.

The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 6 October 2022

This is the 6 October 2022 issue of our weekly scan for political and geopolitical risks or, more largely, conventional and unconventional national and international security (open access). Scroll down to access the scan.

Using horizon scanning, each week, we collect weak – and less weak – signals. These point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve.

The 6 October 2022 scan→


Horizon scanning, weak signals and biases

We call signals weak, because it is still difficult to discern them among a vast array of events. However, our biases often alter our capacity to measure the strength of the signal. As a result, the perception of strength will vary according to the awareness of the actor. At worst, biases may be so strong that they completely block the very identification of the signal.

In the field of strategic foresight and warning, risk management and future studies, it is the job of good analysts to scan the horizon. As a result, they can perceive signals. Analysts then evaluate the strength of these signals according to specific risks and dynamics. Finally, they deliver their findings to users. These users can be other analysts, officers or decision-makers.

You can read a more detailed explanation in one of our cornerstone articles: Horizon Scanning and Monitoring for Warning: Definition and Practice.

The sections of the scan

Each section of the scan focuses on signals related to a specific theme:

  • world (international politics and geopolitics);
  • economy;
  • science including AI, QIS, technology and weapons, ;
  • analysis, strategy and futures;
  • the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • energy and environment.

However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement.


Featured image: Image of the Swedish-ESO 15m Submillimeter Telescope (SEST) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. The photo was taken by Stefan Seip, one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors.

An Excluded Russia? Not for Asia – Anthropocene Wars (6)

(Art direction: Jean-Dominique Lavoix-Carli)

From 1 September to 16 September 22, Vladimir Putin, President of the Federation of Russia, presided the Russian military exercises Vostok 2022. Besides the Russian military, the exercise gathered troops from 14 countries, including India and China (Arang Shidore, “Vostok military exercises indicate that Russia is far from isolated”, Responsible Statecraft, September 1, 2022).

On 5 September, he opened the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. There, high level representatives from 60 countries, including, once again, India and China, and numerous Asia-Pacific countries attended the forum (“Putin speaks at forum in Russia’s far east region”, Reuters, September 7, 2022).

On 15 and 16 September, President Putin attended the 2022 session of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in Uzbekistan, where he met Xi Jinping, President of China, as well as heads of state and governments from 14 countries (“Putin, Xi and Modi attend SCO summit”, Barron’s from AFP News, September 16, 2022).

Most of the countries attending these three international military, economic and security events are also members of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, also One Belt One Road – OBOR), which includes 138 member states. Furthermore, some OBOR members are also members of the International North South Transport Corridor that links Russia, Central Asia and India.

As it happens, while the war in Ukraine is raging, the status of Russia in Asia rapidly changes and strengthens, largely because of its growing importance for the energy and food security of China.

We are even going to argue that Russia is becoming a major component of the climate resiliency of India and China. The Russian new status is inseparable of the new continental network of transport infrastructures. Those are composed of the continental networks of railways and oil and gas pipelines that integrate Russia, China, India and the Central Asia countries.

Hence, the convergence of attendance to Russo-Asian military and diplomatic events and imports of Russian cereals, oil and gas by China and India in a time of climate shocks begs the question of the real state of the relations between these three major countries.

The war in Ukraine and Russia’s Asian centrality

The internationalization of Vostok 2022

At the beginning of September 2022, the Ukrainian military started an offensive against the Russian forces in the region of Izium and Kherson. While quite successful, the Ukrainian army claiming to have taken back 9000 km2 by 24 September, it appears that, at the start of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, the Russian President and the highest members of the general staff were in the Russian far east, presiding and leading the Vostok 2022 military manoeuvres (Hélène Lavoix, “An Alternative Red Scenario for the War Between Ukraine and Russia”, The Red Team Analysis Society, September 19, 2022 and “Vostok 2022: Russian military joined by allies in major drills”, DW, 01/09/2022; Ukrainian army has already liberated 9,000 sq.km. in the east, – Ukraine’s President, 24 sept 2022).

In the context of the war in Ukraine, those quadrennial manoeuvres gather troops from fourteen nations that send military units working with Russian military for a highly scrutinized military and political session.

Those 14 nations are China, Algeria, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria and the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It must noted that, during the 2018 edition, there were 300.000 Russian troops. At the time, the “only” other participating nations were China and Mongolia (Jean-Michel Valantin, “Militarizing the Warming Arctic – The Road to Neo-Mercantilism(s)“, The Red Team Analysis Society, November 12, 2018). In 2022, there were 130.000 Russian troops, the other troops being mobilized by the war in Ukraine.

This military gathering reveals that the Russian military and geopolitical influence extends to the whole of Central Asia, to South and Eastern Asia, to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as well as to Central America. From a diplomatic point of view, this also means that the Chinese and Indian governments wish to be seen training their military with Russia.

Each of those two countries representing 1,4 billion people, their combined demographic weight is of almost 3 billion people, meanwhile their sheer force is far from being light as they are the two mammoth Asian powerhouses (see also Hélène Lavoix, “China: With or Against Russia?”, The Red Team Analysis Society, 28 February, 2022).

In this context, one must note that the maritime side of the manoeuvres took place in the Sea of Japan. The Russian, Chinese and Indian fleets are thus gathered in a region that is in a state of constant dispute between China and Japan (Hélène Lavoix, “From the Diaoyu Islands, with Warning”, The Red Team Analysis Society, March 22, 2022). It is difficult not to see in these manoeuvres a silent challenge not only to Japan, but also to the Western and Asia-Pacific “Quad” alliance of which Japan is a member, alongside the U.S., Australia and Great Britain (Hélène Lavoix, “The East Seas Security Sigils”, The Red Team Analysis Society, March 16, 2022).

Samarkand forever

On 15 and 16 September, the heads of states and governments of Russia, India and China met during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand, the capital of Uzbekistan. They gathered with other heads of state from Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizistan, Tadjikistan, and Uzbekistan. The observer states were Iran, Mongolia and Belarus, while the invited guests were Turkey, Azerbaidjan, and Turkmenistan (“Leaders of SCO states sign Samarkand summit declaration”, CGTN, 16 September 2022).

During this diplomatic sequence, it must be noted that if the Prime minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping expressed some political reservations about the war in Ukraine, they also explicitly attended official and private meetings with the Russian president, and reasserted friendship and cooperation.  

It is also worth noting that, historically, Samarkand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia and in the world. The city has been one of the main points and stage of the Silk Road. During the last 1500 years, it has been a place of confluence, conflicts and exchange between Russia, China, the Mongol empire and the Persian empire (Peter Frankopan, “The Silk Roads, A New History of the World”, 2015).

Thus, choosing to host the SCO summit in this city is also a message in itself by the SCO. This message recalls and asserts the political and economic combined weight of its powerful and internationally strategic member states.

It is important to note that in an article about the summit, the Chinese Government’s sponsored international media Global Times, highlighted that:

“During the summit, Xi said China is also willing to deepen pragmatic cooperation in such areas as trade, agriculture and connectivity”. 

Xi called for both sides to strengthen coordination within the SCO, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, BRICS and other multilateral mechanisms to promote solidarity and mutual trust among related parties, according to Xinhua… (and that) … Analysts said the two leaders’ summit is a crucial guarantee for the steady development of bilateral ties, signaling that China-Russia relations will not be affected by external noises. At the same time, China will also be on high alert against attempts by the US and the West to tie China and Russia into a political and military bloc and drive a wedge between the pair and the rest of the world…

“Even before the Ukraine crisis, the US and some Western countries had tried to drive a wedge between China and Russia, fearing the pair would get closer. But after the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out, they tied China and Russia into one camp, playing the pair off against the rest of the world”, Yang said. 

China’s interests are worldwide, and it can cooperate with Western countries on economic, cultural and even some major security issues, but there is no reason why China can’t strengthen cooperation and exchanges with Russia, which also has the right to interact with the world, the Beijing-based expert said.”

Wang Qi, “Xi, Putin meet at SCO summit, forging closer times amid US-caused World turbulences”, Global Times, September 15, 2022.

This vision is what China broadcasts to the world. In other words, Beijing affirms its ties with Moscow and its will to reinforce them. While doing so, China will develop its economic ties with Western countries. Beijing also asserts that the Russia-China relationship is a partnership, however not an alliance.

All is well on the Indian front

In parallel, narendramodi.in, the official web site of the Indian Prime minister summarizes his discussions with President Vladimir Putin (Narendra Modi, “PM Modi Holds Bilateral meeting with President Putin of Russia in Samarkand”, narendramodi.in, September 16, 2022).

He writes that:

“The leaders discussed important issues of bilateral cooperation as well as regional and global issues of interest. Discussions also pertained to global food security, energy security and availability of fertilizers in the context of the challenges emanating from the current geo-political situation. In the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Prime Minister reiterated his call for an early cessation of hostilities and the need for dialogue and diplomacy…. They agreed to say in touch.”

(Narendra Modi, “PM Modi Holds Bilateral meeting with President Putin of Russia in Samarkand”, narendramodi.in, September 16, 2022)

This was followed by a tweet from Prime minister Modi writing :

Text of the tweet « Had a wonderful meeting with President Putin. We got the opportunity to discuss furthering India-Russia cooperation in sectors such as trade, energy, defense and more. We also discussed other bilateral and global issues. »

In other words, the Indian Premier and Chinese President have reasserted they are going to deepen the relations between their countries and Russia. And the war in Ukraine does not seem to be an obstacle to these plans.

However, this situation begs the question of understanding why giant China and India are so keen on cultivating their relationships with Russia in such a visible way.

The stupendous impact of climate change on Asia is certainly a major factor in explaining the  importance of the “Russian pivot” for India. It also helps to explain the reinforcement of the Sino-Russian already strong relationship.

Furthermore, those Asian relationships are strongly bolstered by the series of climate mega catastrophes of 2021 and 2022. Those have hammered China and India, as well as the whole South Asia continent in 2021 and 2022.

China’s and India’s climate shocks

The 2021-2022 agricultural crisis

Well-ordered charity begins with oneself

Since 2021, a growing number of major agricultural countries restrict or ban exports of their own production. The process started in June 2021. At the time, the Russian government imposed taxes on grain exports, trying to stabilize domestic food prices.

Then, in December 2021, Argentina took a similar step (Clément Vérité, “Argentina stops exports of soybean oil and soybean meals “until further notice“, Newsendip, 14 March, 2022). Since then, the Argentinian political authorities limit corn and wheat export volumes. They do so in order to control domestic food prices. In March, the Argentinian government tightened these measures.

Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Turkey, Serbia, Hungary, and Kuwait took similar steps. (Weizhen Tan, “India is not the only one banning food exports. These countries are doing the same”, CNBC, 17 May, 2022).

Then, since February 2022 and the Russian offensive in Ukraine, the exports of grain from Ukraine and Russia are also largely down. This diminution comes from the blocking of the Black Sea ports.

India

In May 2022, India, the second largest wheat producer, decided to ban exports. The decision was based on the destructive effects of the massive heatwave that impacted India and Pakistan. The Indian crops yield lost 20% because of a month-long, climate-change driven extreme weather event. (Manavi Kapur, “India’s extreme heatwave is already thwarting Modi’s plan to “feed the world”“, Quartz, 28 April 2022).

China… and Russia

In the context of this global agricultural crisis, since 2021, China has developed massive stockpiles of grains. Indeed, China imported 28,2 million of tons of corn in 2021. (Shin Watanabe and Eiko Munakata, “China hoards over half the world’s grain, pushing up prices”, Asia Nikkei, 23 December 2021 and (“China corn imports soar to new records in 2021”, Reuters, 18 January, 2022). This is the equivalent of 152% of the 2020 annual record imports of 11,8 million tons.

In other terms, the globalized agriculture and food markets are going through a major “perfect storm”. (Jean-Michel Valantin, “War in Ukraine, The U.S Mega drought and the Coming Global Food Crisis”, The Red Team Analysis Society, May 1, 2022).

In the current strategic and climate context, imports of Russian grain are of special importance for the Chinese food security. This is because Russia is both a major producer and neighbour. Furthermore, since the launch by Xi Jinping, of the Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR) in 2013. Russia plays a central role in this project because the Chinese railways operate through Russia in order to reach Europe.

Hence, the development of OBOR infrastructures de facto augments the shipments capabilities between Russia and China. (Frederic de Kemmeter, “OBOR-One Belt, One Road”, Mediarail.be, January 2018 and Jean-Michel Valantin, “China, Russia and the New Silk Road in Central Asia – The great co-empowerment”, The Red Team Analysis Society, March 17, 2016). As it happens, a new railway bridge between Chinese Tongjiang and Russian Nizhnelenizskoye opened on 27 April 2022 and became operational during the 2022 summer.

It appears that, between January and March 2022, the trade turnover between Russia and China rose 28,7% year on year. It reached $38,17 billion for the first 2022 quarter. (“Russia-China trade surges in 2022”, The Moscow Times, 13 April 2022).

Inflation, energy and resiliency

These agricultural situations are interlaced with the energy needs of China and India. The “post” Covid economic recovery drives a rapid growth in oil and gas demand, thus driving energy prices higher. Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine triggers an overheating of oil prices. The prices err between $96 and $120 since the start of the war. (Scott Patterson and Sam Goldfarb, “Why are gasoline prices so high? Ukraine-Russia  War Sparks Increases Across the U.S“, Wall Street Journal, 1 April, 2022).

Meanwhile, given the daily needs of twice 1,4 billion people, India and China both benefit from the lower than market Russian oil and gas prices.

Inflation, energy and India’s resiliency through connectivity

That is why India’s import of oil from Russia have jumped from 2% of India’s oil imports to a staggering 12% in September 2022. Those imports are meant to try to control Indian inflation. This happens while Russia remains the first supplier of defense hardware for India (Aftab Ahmed, “India says it is importing Russian oil to manage inflation”, Reuters, September 8, 2022).

What makes these transactions possible is the International North South Corridor Transport (INSTC).

This 7.200 km transcontinental infrastructure is based on rail-sea-road interconnectivity from the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan and Central Asia, Iran and India and Europe. It links hinterlands, ports and sea routes. The INSTC involves 13 countries, for now. It was established in 2000 and developed ever since. It allows products from Russia to reach India in 25 days instead of 40 days by sea connections only (“The International North South Corridor” Wikipedia and Angelo Mathais, “India Ramps Up Russian trade Volumes via North-South Corridor”, The Load Star, 23/08/2022).

The Great Russia, China, India Connection

Some commentators try to analyse the INSTC and OBOR in terms of a competition of international routes (Eurasian Times Desk, “China and India battle for Global Influence with OBOR and NSTC projects”, The Eurasian Times, January 18, September 2018). Unfortunately, they miss a crucial point. In fact, there are multiple connections between the OBOR and the INSTC. Those interconnections are de facto installed through the countries involved in both INSTC and OBOR and their transport infrastructure, especially Russia, Kazakhstan and Iran.

Russia is especially at the intersection of the two international routes. That is why it is able to rapidly export growing volumes of agricultural and energy products to China and India. This is also the case in other Central and South Asian countries.

As we have seen, Russian exports play a major part in the resiliency of China and India. Those have to face the combination of the international inflationary trends as well as the planetary climate shocks. Their imports from Russia play a key role in their resiliency to these shocks.

So, it appears that China as well as India develop deep ties with Russia, which becomes a major actor of their national resiliency. This “Russ-asian” “triad” becomes a geopolitical new entity. And it is a mammoth powerhouse. Thus, it is hard to think that one of its members could be “isolated” on the international scene.

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