Good morning. Here’s your Daily Situational Awareness for Friday, 12 November 2021. You can receive this daily briefing by signing up at https://forwardobserver.com/daily-sa
- Increased European hostilities called “unsettling”
- Food shortages raise concerns of logistical crisis
- Biden and Xi to meet next week
- New terror warning focuses on domestic actors
- U.S. wants to expand intel sharing to combat China
“UNSETTLING”: The U.S. briefed NATO and European Union officials on Russian military movements near Ukraine and Belarus. In contrast to April’s military buildup, current Russian activity is largely done at night and away from the prying eyes of social media users. Calls between U.S., European, and Russian officials remain unproductive as the Kremlin asserts Western aggression in the Black Sea, Ukraine, and EU border regions. One EU official described the U.S. intelligence briefing as “unsettling.” Ukraine’s foreign minister believes the Belarusian border is “a potential frontline and shouldn’t be underestimated.” (AC: Deepening cooperation between Russian and Belarusian military assets provides Putin a less provocative avenue to strategically maneuver forces. Belarus’ Lukashenko is openly calling for a Russian military presence, saying, “There is no time for jokes. The situation is very serious there…[and] the Russians and Belarusians must jointly control this situation.” -D.M.)
FOOD: Rising food prices and supply chain shortages continue to ripple throughout the world. After experiencing rolling blackouts across the country due to coal shortages, China is now facing higher corn prices due to heavy rains and winter storms. China restricted coal exports, which has led to a shortage of urea in India and South Korea. Urea is commonly used in India as fertilizer, and higher costs will lead to higher food prices. South Korean truckers use urea to curb diesel emissions. “Prolonged shortages could spell a logistics crisis” such as a stoppage of trucks carrying imports from South Korean ports, warned one logistics firm. – M.S.
CHINA: President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are tentatively scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss a number of issues ranging from COVID response to trade and nuclear weapons. “Following the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, China stands ready to work with the United States to enhance exchanges and cooperation across the board,” reads a statement from the Chinese. (AC: Senior officials from the Chinese Communist Party just met at the Sixth Plenum, where party members will likely approve Xi’s third term and possibly anoint him president for life. Considering China continues to steal up to $600 billion of U.S. intellectual property each year, describing “mutual respect” and “win-win cooperation” is diplo-speak with little basis in reality. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken recently warned American businesses not to share technology with Chinese-owned entities, but added if China really wants it, “the state will get it.” – M.S.)
TERROR THREAT: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued updated its National Terrorism Advisory System, providing insight to the department’s priorities. Threats from the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations are likely to remain “highly visible online” to inspire lone-wolf attacks in the U.S. Domestic Violent Extremist (DVE) groups remain the highest priority as “pandemic-related stressors have contributed to increased societal strains and tensions.” The department expects an increase in attacks from DVEs over public health restrictions, Afghan refugees, and anti-government sentiment. In response, DHS is “engaging industry partners to help them identify and respond to the spread of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and false narratives.” (AC: DHS continues to cite social media and encrypted messaging platforms as their biggest blindspot in mitigating foreign and domestic terror threats. The department’s actions are unlikely to have a measurable impact on preventing threats, but increased cooperation between the government and social media companies will induce further anti-government sentiment. – D.M.)
NINE EYES: Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) authored an amendment to the pending National Defense Authorization Act to expand U.S. intelligence sharing. Rep. Gallego wants to add Japan, Korea, India, and Germany to the “Five Eyes” program. The amendment says, “The committee acknowledges that the threat landscape has vastly changed… in confronting great power competition, the Five Eye countries must work closer together, as well as expand the circle of trust to other like-minded democracies.” Cyber Command’s Gen. Nakasone doesn’t want to expand the intelligence partnership and recommends new bilateral agreements to improve information sharing. (AC: India and Germany raise the most concern for information sharing as their military and economic relationships with Russia could jeopardize future operations. Approval of a “Nine Eyes” framework would likely push the U.S. and near-peer nations closer if China remains aggressive toward its neighbors. The U.S. likely believes Chinese incursions into India provide an opportunity to contain the communist nation, with proper materiel and intelligence support. – D.M.)
HURRICANE SEASON: Nothing significant to report.
In today’s Early Warning, Mike and Dustin dive into the threat of green energy as a geopolitical weapon. Upgrade your Situational Awareness to Early Warning here: https://forwardobserver.com/subscribe