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.

The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 29 September 2022

This is the 29 September 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 29 September 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 – 22 September 2022

This is the 22 September 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 22 September 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 Alternative Red Scenario for the war between Ukraine and Russia

(Art direction: Jean-Dominique Lavoix-Carli)

The September 2022 Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russia is hailed as very successful. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the “true heroes” who allowed for a “very rapid liberation” of 8000 sq km by 14 September 22 “in the east, notably in the Kharkiv Oblast, and the south, notably in the Kherson oblast”, (e.g. BBC News, 12 September 22; CNN, 14 September 22).

Yet, U.S. President Joe Biden and other American officials, as well as Germany Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht first cautioned against a feeling of “premature victory”, of a “turning point in the war”, even though they acknowledge the territorial gains (Lolita Baldor and Ellen Knickmeyer, “US leaders avoid victory dance in Ukraine combat advances“, AP, 13 September 22; Reuters, “Too early to tell if Ukraine counter-offensive is turning point, Germany says“, 14 September 22). As time passed, on 18 September, President Biden appeared as far more confident in an interview, stating that “They’re defeating Russia” (Reuters, “Zelenskiy vows no let-up as Ukraine says troops cross Oskil river in northeast“, 19 September 2022).

What lies ahead?

With this article we shall first briefly stress why it is important to look at a comprehensive set of scenarios, and why it matters even more in the context of a war where information is degraded by the use of propaganda or psyops. Then, we shall focus not on the scenario favoured in the West, which predicts a victory of Ukraine, as this scenario is well-known, but describe another scenario, different from the most common narrative. We shall call it the Red Scenario, in reference to red teaming (taking the point of view of the enemy). We mainly present explanations rather than scenario narrative (story-telling), using maps tracking the evolution of the control of the terrain in Ukraine by the two protagonists and established daily by the Institute for the Study of War. First we present our key hypotheses and then develop an explanatory narrative according to phases during the war.

The need for alternative scenarios

Useful and actionable scenarios are constituted in a set with evolving likelihoods

Many commentators tend to focus on a single scenario highlighting a Ukrainian victory and a Russian defeat. The current Ukrainian counter-offensive goes hand in hand with the Russian “debacle”, “rout”, “disaster”, “disintegration”, etc. This is indeed one scenario. Its narrative runs more or less as follows:

The current counter-offensive heralds coming successes for the Ukrainian army while showing deep seated problems within Russian forces that will lead to a string of defeats, until Moscow is vanquished.

However, proper foresight must consider all possible scenarios (see FAQ on scenarios), even those that are unlikely, contrary to one’s objectives or unpalatable. Actually those scenarios are even more interesting because they are those that allow for the best planning, for truly countering the enemy and finally for victory and success.

The likelihood of seeing a scenario taking place actually is something that is separated from the narrative of the scenario itself. The key variables for a set of scenarios are used both to craft the narrative and then to assess the probability of the scenario. Yet, to create a specific scenario for this set does not mean that this scenario is more likely than another. A good set of scenarios must consider all possible scenarios. Then according to reality the probability of each scenario is assessed, varies and evolves. This is where scenarios become most useful, because they help steer policy. However, to be able to reach this lofty aim, we need first to have a complete set of scenarios, and not only a couple of pleasant scenarios that fit our aims, beliefs and wishes.

Overcoming potential propaganda

Furthermore, a swift Ukrainian victory by heroes in the framework of a Russian rout could also be a way to narrate events that is part of the information operations (I/Os – psyops) of Ukraine and its allies (see Helene Lavoix, “Information Warfare and the War in Ukraine“, The Red Team Analysis Society, 24 May 2022). More surprisingly but not impossible, it could even be part of Russian I/Os and deception, as Russia is meant to be a master at using “reflexive control” (refleksivnoe upravlenie / рефлексивного управления).

As during war information is degraded and as we shall not know with certainty what is truly taking place on the ground until archives are opened – i.e. in 30, 60, or 100 years according to cases and countries, we need to rely on scenarios. Scenarios allow to make hypotheses and to take into account uncertainty, which is key when information is lacking or of dubious quality. Furthermore it will help us stretching our minds, asking inconvenient questions and thus think out of the box.

A Red Scenario – Main hypotheses

Our first hypothesis for this scenario is that Russia has two major territorial aims in Ukraine and only two.

The first territorial objective, as declared when Russia launched its “special operation”, is to free and protect the territory of the two separatist Republics of the Donbass: the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) (Address by the President of the Russian Federation, February 24, 2022, 06:00, The Kremlin, Moscow).

The second aim can be inferred from the same Russian Address, and consists in protecting Crimea (Ibid.). This means creating strategic depth for the peninsula, which would allow protecting it from any Ukrainian threat.

North Crimean Canal. Connects the Denpr at the Kakhovka reservoir with the east of Crimea – Berihert, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The importance of that goal is highlighted by one of the first actions of the Russian army on 24 February 22, thus at the very beginning of the war. It restored water flow to the North Crimean canal (Pivnichno-Krymskyi kanal) between the Dniepr River in Ukraine and Crimea, which had been cut off by Ukraine in 2014 (Reuters, “Russian forces unblock water flow for canal to annexed Crimea, Moscow says,” 24 February 2022).

These territorial aims are shown on the map below. The size of the necessary strategic depth for Crimea is an estimate and may vary according to other factors. It is against this map that operations elsewhere will be evaluated.

War in Ukraine 2022 – Russian objectives – Red scenario (on an ISW map as background)

The second hypothesis is that the Russian leadership is neither mad nor stupid, nor completely out of touch with reality, nor any of the extreme epithets and ungrounded emotional assertions that have been made about the Russian political authorities. This does not mean that leadership cannot be surprised. As for any system, analyses and evaluations may be flawed. Actions may not go as planned. The fog of war operates.

The third hypothesis or rather principle is that if something cannot be explained or understood when using prior reasoning and framework for understanding, then it is likely that the initial line of thinking is flawed.

A Red Scenario – Phases in the war

Phase 1 – 24 Feb 2022 to 29 March 2022

Creating the conditions for the conquest of the South (outside Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts)

Considering the Russian territorial objectives for this scenario, all operations carried out outside Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and the southern part of Zaporizhzhia oblasts are either “decoy” operations or “negotiation” ones.

They aimed at focusing the attention and effort of the enemy and its allies on non-essential, indeed false aims. At best, if gains are achieved, they will be used for exchange during negotiation, against the territory that constitutes the real aim, or against other key objectives such as the neutrality of Ukraine.

This phase ended on 29 March 22. Then, in the framework of the negotiations taking place in Istanbul, Russian Ministry of Defence announced to “fundamentally reduce military activity in the direction of Kiev and Chernihiv” in order to “increase mutual trust for future negotiations to agree and sign a peace deal with Ukraine” (DW; Asia Times 29 March 22).

As far as its territorial objectives are concerned, in one month, the Russian side succeeded in creating strategic depth for Crimea by taking a large part of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts. It made the junction with Donetsk Oblast or rather, from a Russian perspective, the DPR. It gave the latter its connection to the sea. Finally, it conquered a large part of Luhansk.

However, hardly any progress was made in the western part of Donetsk Oblast, which remained strongly in Ukrainian hands. There, the 2015 “contact line” acts as a quasi border where an attrition war started and would last.

All other territorial gains and operations – which includes Kiev, despite Western beliefs – were secondary or part of Russian psyops and could be abandoned to consolidate the territory taken that is part of the objectives.

“Contact line” or “line of contact”: “A stretch of land that separates conflict-affected people residing in Government (GCA) and non-Government-controlled areas (NGCA) of eastern Ukraine” (UNOCHA). It runs over approximately 420km. It has hardly moved between 2015 and February 2022 (ICG, Conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas). Defined in the Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements, 12 Feb 2015.

On 1st April 2022, the massacres of Bucha and other locations around Kiev was then revealed, creating widespread outrage (e.g. Eliot Higgins, “Russia’s Bucha ‘Facts’ Versus the Evidence“, Bellingcat, 4 April 22). The negotiations stopped, despite initial Turkish hope to see them continuing (Daily Sabah, “Turkey expects more Russia-Ukraine peace talks, FM Çavuşoğlu says“, 7 April 22).

Phase 2 – April 2022

Withdrawal from the north and repositioning of forces on real territorial objectives with, as potential “decoy area”, Kharkiv Oblast

Throughout April, the Russian forces withdrew from all northern territories as stated at the end of March. They repositioned their forces where territory matters in terms of main goals and started consolidating what they had already conquered. Meanwhile they also began the slow grinding progress to conquer or free according to side the territory of Luhansk oblast for the LPR and of Donetsk Oblast for the DPR.

The only remaining territory not belonging to their main goals is in Kharkiv oblast. This area could then be used as “decoy” or way to pin down Ukrainian forces on areas that did not matter to the Russian side. The slow withdrawal from Kharkiv region started then.

Phase 3 – May 2022 to date

Attrition warfare, freeing/conquering Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts territory, keeping as much as possible of the southern oblasts.

Phase 3-1 – The conquest of Luhansk Oblast – Attrition warfare elsewhere

By 25 June 2022, in Luhansk, Severodonetsk fully fell to the Russian army (ISW, Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 25). Lysychansk followed suit on 2 July and the border of the Luhansk Oblast was reached on 3 July (ISW, Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 3).

Kharkiv Oblast remains a zone that is dispensable and does not belong to true Russian objectives. It is partly in Russian hands, but by mid-May, Ukrainian forces have regained a small part of this territory, east of Kharkiv (city).

Elsewhere, the frontline hardly moved compared with previous periods. Attrition warfare settled, with rather offensive objectives in Donetsk Oblast and defensive aims in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.

Assuming the new weapons Ukraine received from Western allies, notably the U.S., as well as intelligence and special forces support, and consequent Ukrainian actions do not change the strategic situation for Crimea, it is likely that Russia will mainly seek to consolidate its gain in the south.

The western part of Donetsk remains, however, apparently stubbornly out of reach. As it is the last objective that needs to be met, then it should be the focus of the next phase.

Hypothetical Phase 3-2 – Conquering Donetsk, Keeping what was taken and Ending the War?

Reflexive control again?

Russia must find a way to conquer what remains of the Donetsk oblast, which represents a large part of territory and demands overcoming entrenched Ukrainian defense. Meanwhile, it must also preserve what matters, the territory conquered that corresponds to its real objectives.

This also means countering the Ukrainian counter-offensive officially started on 29 August 22, but with earlier premises (Reuters, “Ukraine says long-anticipated southern offensive has begun“, 29 August 2022, Oleksiy Yarmolenko, Tetyana Lohvynenko, “The Russian army sacrificed a massive offensive in Donbas to strengthen its position in the south‘, 12 August 22).

By 14 September, Ukrainian troops have re-conquered 8000 sq km of Kharkiv oblast (DW, “Ukraine stabilizes counteroffensive gains in northeast“, 14 September 2022). Notably the Ukrainian army could mobilise enough men, with a smart strategy to surprise “the rather small Russian forces of the 144th Motorised Division reinforced with disparate independent units” (Michel Goya, “1918 en Ukraine ?“, La Voix de l’Epée, 11 September 2022). Russian forces did not really fight and the “massive Russian forces stationned in Izium retreated eastwards” (ibid.). Izium was re-taken by Ukraine (Ibid.). Actually, according to the maps below, the territory liberated seems to have stabilised on 12 September, and even up to 18 September with different declarations however (see below).

Whatever the rhetoric used to explain Ukrainian successes in Kharkiv oblast, be it withdrawal of Russian troops for repositioning elsewhere (Russian MoD Telegram) or plain defeat in losing a territory (by Western analysts and Russian nationalists military bloggers and discussions in the Duma as stressed by the ISW “Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, September 13“), it remains that the territory held in Karkhiv was not part of the main Russian objectives. This area could, of course, have a tactical, operational and strategic use, but yet it was not part of the Russian aims. Furthermore, its value in obtaining territorial gains in Donetsk may not have been that high considering the absence of results of the previous months. Hence losing it may not be as crucial as commentators, whatever their nationality, including Russian, may think, if – and this is a key “if” – a new front line along the river Oskil, or along the border of Luhansk oblast is established.

The Russian “recognition” of defeat in Kharkiv that is hailed in the West as something new (see details in ISW, “Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, September 13“) may not matter that much either, as long it is not followed by other defeats or series thereof in areas corresponding to main territorial objectives. In that light, the loss of a very small part of Luhansk oblast on 10 September may be far more important, if it were to be followed by other losses.

Moreover, considering Russian practice of reflexive control and psyops, we should not forget the possibility that not only the change of rhetoric regarding the Ukrainian victory in Kharkiv – i.e. Russia recognising defeat there – but also, most importantly the very swift loss of territory could actually be part of an information operation.

This could be a Russian version of Operation Fortitude, when the allies deceived the Germans about where they would land on D-Day. In terms of reflexive control, we may imagine that the Russians acted in such a way that they prompted the decision by Ukraine and its allies to attack militarily on Kharkiv oblast.

One possible indication that deception could have been at work comes from an inconsistency highlighted by military experts. Specialists wonder about the inability of the Russian army to detect “five armoured-mechanised brigades near the front in Zmiv”, despite all the Russian intelligence capabilities (Goya, “1918 en Ukraine ?“). The only explanations that are offered are a failure of tactical assessment in the chain of command and failure of understanding at highest level (e.g. Goya, “1918 en Ukraine ?“). Of course, these explanations may very well be correct. Yet, one possibility is not envisioned: would it be possible that detection took place and that nothing was done, purposefully, because something else is at work, indeed deception.

The questions we would need to ponder would then be: what would be the interest of the Russian leadership in not defending and thus losing territory? Then in acknowledging defeat? Which goals could this serve? Answers to these questions are multiple. For example, as far as acknowledging defeat is concerned, the ISW details some of them, notably in terms of Russian domestic politics with bearings on Ukraine. To these, we should also add answers, for example, that would be related to really repositioning Russian and pro-Russian forces on major objectives, to pinning down Ukrainian troops away from main Russian objectives, as well as answers related to creating conditions that could favour over-confidence in Ukrainian forces.

Of course, an alternative would be that indeed the Russian tried to focus their war effort elsewhere considering that Kharkiv oblast was not part of the main aims, that American and Ukrainian intelligence spotted it and that they smartly took advantage of the Russian strategy. If ever a “Reflexive Control” operation was at work, then in would have backfired.

Whatever the explanation, the Ukrainian advance also signals the disappearance of the last non-key position held by Russia, while a large part of Donetsk oblast remains to be conquered. A new line of front must be established that will be a defense line to protect Luhansk oblast, i.e. from a pro-Russian perspective, the LPR. This new front line could run along the Oskil River with as main cities Logachevka-Dvorichana -Kupyansk-Boroza-Lyman, possibly joining the Siverskyi Donets river. It would allow Russia to keep use of the railway, and protect le LPR “border”.

However, by 19 September 22, Ukraine would already be on the Eastern bank in some ares, and either fighting to keep that position, while Russia tries to repel Ukrainian forces (e.g. ISW, “Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, September 18“), or in full control of it according to Ukrainian Armed Forces and President (Reuters, “Zelenskiy vows no let-up as Ukraine says troops cross Oskil river in northeast“, 19 September 2022).

If Russia proved unable to construct and hold that new front line, or if it considered the threat has now increased considerably considering the support given to Ukraine, then Russia might resort to escalate longer range attacks behind the front line to disrupt Ukrainian advances, as signaled by attacks during the first part of September (e.g. The Guardian, “Russian strikes knock out power and water in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region“, 11 September), or to other means. This could mean a change towards enlarging the scope of war. Russia could justify these attacks by a similar strategy used by Ukraine that now utilises longer range armament besides support such as intelligence provided by its allies, notably Americans, as well as foreign “mercenaries” and “advisors”.

Once the retreat, plus holding of the new front line, and repositioning are done, Russian and pro-Russian forces will likely focus on their main objectives, Donetsk oblast, while defending elsewhere, with the right bank of the Dniepr in Kherson Oblast – which includes Kherson – as potential focal line of defence for the south.

The choice of an offensive on Donetsk oblast could be supported by Russian advances south of Bakhmut over the second week of September, as shown on the maps below. Fighting also takes place in Spirne, Adviivka and south of Marinka. Russian advances are still small in terms of area, and the moves forward have only taken place on less than one week. We are thus more in the realm of signals than of certainty.

Ending the war? Patience and length of time…

Finally, we may ponder the following hypothetical situation. Let us imagine that Russia would conquer the whole of Donetsk oblast, and succeed in keeping what it has conquered elsewhere. How would it then end the war?

The polarisation at work in Ukraine and among its allies – i.e. the U.S. and Europe, would probably forbid any peace negotiations allowing Russia and the separatist Republics of the Donbass to keep the territory conquered. (e.g. Reuters, “Zelenskiy vows no let-up as Ukraine says troops cross Oskil river in northeast“, 19 September 2022)

If we assume that the Russian leadership is well aware of this key pitfall, then we may wonder if one possible Russian strategy is not to buy time or to be ready to wait until international conditions have changed.

The key actors which positions would need to change are Ukraine’s allies. The latter, from a Russian point of view, need to favour stopping the war and reaching a negotiated settlement recognising the territory conquered by Russia, the DPR and the LPR, plus probably the neutrality of Ukraine.

The Russian political authorities may thus position themselves for a kind of “intense frozen war” that would last at least over the winter 2022-2023.

Their bet would be that Europe notably will not be able to sustain a winter without energy or with a complicated energy situation, while a deep recession is very likely to be triggered (Blackrock commentary 12 September 2022; Jennifer Sor, “Europe will spiral into a severe recession as the energy crisis hikes inflation and weighs on GDP, BlackRock says“, 12 September 2022).

Relatively, Russia may suffer less of the sanctions it faces, all the more so it benefits from the rise in energy prices. Indeed, for example, a Russian economy ministry document expects to see “Russian earnings from energy exports to $337.5 billion this year, a 38% rise on 2021 revenue from oil” (Reuters, 17 August 22). However, Russia still has to face recession and probably long term economic damage (Bloomberg, “Russia Privately Warns of Deep and Prolonged Economic Damage“, 6 September 22).

Nonetheless, Russia is also most likely to withstand pain with more equanimity, compared with European populations, which are already showing signs of rebellion against energy prices (Reuters, “Can’t pay, don’t pay” – Italian group urges energy bill strike“, 15 September 2022).

Furthermore, the very aggressive American actions worldwide, aiming at remaining the leader of the world and enforcing its international order, notably against China, only strengthen the partnership and friendship between Russia and China (e.g. Al Jazeera, “French, US delegations visit Taiwan as tension with China festers“, 8 September 2022; Helene Lavoix, “The War between China and the U.S. – The Normative Dimension“, 4 July 2022, and “The American National Interest“, 22 June 22, The Red Team Analysis Society)Ministry of foreign affairs of the People’s Republic of China, “President Xi Jinping Meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin“, 15 September 2022). As a result, Russia is likely to have time on its side. Finally, the American stance may get out of hand, fundamentally upsetting the global strategic terrain.

Hence, Russia may choose to wait and keep waiting, while war goes on in Ukraine with its pains and hardships, and both Europe and Russia suffer of deep recession.

Winter is coming.

Featured image: Russian T-90 tanks during a parade in Volgograd region; 2010, www.volganet.ru, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 15 September 2022

This is the 15 September 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 15 September 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 – 8 September 2022

This is the 8 September 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.

Over the summer, the signals of the 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.

The 8 September 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 – 1 September 2022

This is the 1 September 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.

Over the summer, the signals of the 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 1 September 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 – 25 August 2022

This is the 25 August 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.

Over the summer, the signals of the 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 25 August 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.

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