TUESDAY PDB – Russia Positioning Helicopters Against Ukraine, Putin to Withdraw Troops From Kazakhstan, China’s Possible New Pacific-Island Bases, Iran’s Growing Naval Might, Biden’s Afghan Crisis Grows as Afghans Face ‘Freeze or Starve’ Choice

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Today’s PDB includes a variety of critical national security issues.


China Threat

Pacific may be most likely to see ‘strategic surprise’ – US policymaker Campbell. The Pacific may well be the part of the world most likely to see “strategic surprise,” the U.S. Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Monday, in comments apparently referring to possible Chinese ambitions to establish Pacific-island bases.

Russia Threat – Ukraine

Russia has begun positioning helicopters, a possible sign that planning for an attack against Ukraine continues. The step, which could be an indication that planning for an attack continues, comes as the number of Russian troops at the border has remained steady in recent weeks, despite U.S. expectations of a surge.

Russia-US talks hit impasse over NATO expansion as Moscow denies plans to invade Ukraine. The United States and Russia remained deadlocked after crisis talks Monday over Moscow’s desire to block any future NATO expansion to the east, but officials agreed to continue discussions on other high-stakes security issues that the Biden administration hopes can avert another invasion of Ukraine.

BIDEN WEAKNESS – In Russia talks, US floats deal to limit missiles and war games. In talks with Russia on Monday, U.S. officials raised the possibility of limiting missile deployments in Eastern Europe and the size and scope of its military exercises, if Russia reciprocates, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters..

Russia Threat – Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan shows that Russia still trumps China’s power in central Asia. Beijing’s huge investments in the region increasingly rely on Russian protection.

Russian-led troops to start leaving Kazakhstan in 2 days -president. A Russian-led military bloc will begin withdrawing its troops from Kazakhstan in two days’ time after fulfilling its main mission of stabilizing the Central Asian country after serious unrest, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Tuesday.

Putin claims victory in defending Kazakhstan from revolt. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory on Monday in defending Kazakhstan from what he described as a foreign-backed terrorist uprising and promised leaders of other ex-Soviet states that a Moscow-led alliance would protect them too.

Russia Threat

US military tracking Russian military vessel near Hawaii. The U.S. military is tracking a Russian spy ship in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, officials confirmed today.

Iran Threat

Iran seeks to grow naval power as it prioritizes asymmetric warfare. In 2021 alone, Iran’s naval forces and Revolutionary Guard added the Alvand destroyer, four Martoob al-Sabehat 15 Type submarines and 110 combat speedboats.

North Korea Threat

Neighbors say North Korea launched second missile in a week. This month’s launches follow a series of weapons tests in 2021.

Biden’s Afghan Disaster

US announces $308 million in aid for Afghans as crisis grows after retreat. The White House has announced $308 million in additional humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, offering new aid to the country as it edges toward a humanitarian crisis since the Taliban takeover nearly five months ago.

As Afghanistan’s harsh winter sets in, many are forced to choose between food and warmth. The snow started falling early, prettily dusting trees and fences in the Afghan capital this week but turning unpaved neighborhood alleys into treacherous sludge. In many poor homes, the heat provided by used coal chips and wood scraps in old metal stoves had died long before daybreak.

Military and Space

Soldiers ‘seeing’ outside the Bradley with Army high-tech goggle. The Army’s upcoming “do-it-all” goggle could turn soldiers in the back of fighting vehicles from passive passengers to plugged-in fighters.

Who’s in charge of US space policy? Space professionals worry the National Space Council is ceding its defense portfolio.


Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank. - paulcrespo.substack.com - PAULCRESPO.COM

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