FRIDAY PDB – China Will Use Nuke Coercion to Seize Taiwan by 2027, the Fierce Battle for Mariupol, Russians Tearing Holes in ‘Digital Iron Curtain,’ Conflicts in Israel, DARPA Plans Nuke-powered Rockets

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THIS IS SERIOUS – China likely to use ‘nuclear coercion’ in bid to take Taiwan by 2027, STRATCOM chief says. China is closely watching the war in Ukraine and “will likely use nuclear coercion to their advantage in the future,” Adm. Charles Richard, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, or STRATCOM, told lawmakers on Wednesday. “Their intent is to achieve the military capability to reunify Taiwan by 2027.” Adm. Richard urged Congress to restore funding for a ship-based, variable-yield nuclear missile, since low-yield nukes are crucial to deterrence.


LET FREEDOM RING – How millions of Russians are tearing holes in the Digital Iron Curtain. Daily downloads in Russia of the 10 most popular VPNs jumped from below 15,000 just before the war to as many as 475,000 in March. As of this week, downloads were continuing at a rate of nearly 300,000 a day, according to data compiled for the Washington Post by the analytics firm Apptopia, which relies on information from apps, publicly available data and an algorithm to come up with estimates.

CRITIICAL BATTLE, BRAVE RESISTANCE – Mariupol steel mill battle rages as Ukraine repels attacks. Heavy fighting raged Thursday at the besieged steel plant in Mariupol, as Russian forces attempted to finish off the city’s last-ditch defenders and complete the capture of the strategically vital port.

Russia-Ukraine live news: Battle rages in Azovstal ‘hellscapes.’ Ukraine’s forces in the Luhansk region are preparing for more powerful offensives from the Russians in the next three to four days, the region’s governor has said. In the town of Mykhailivka, businessmen are registered and taxed “according to occupiers’ rules”, while in the village of Chernihivka farmers have to report land they own and rent before they are allowed to till it, it said.

US Army in Germany resumes training Ukrainian forces, with focus on Western weaponry. A Ukrainian officer had an encouraging message for the contingent of U.S. soldiers that left a Ukrainian military base shortly before Russia launched its full-fledged invasion of the country in February.

MORE FLEXIBILITY AFTER ELECTION – For first time, France talks openly about sending weapons to Ukraine. France has been tight-lipped about what it is sending to Ukraine, until a few days after President Emmanuel Macron won a second term.

US cyber squad boosts Lithuanian defenses amid Russian threat. The U.S. military said it dispatched a cyber team to Lithuania to expose malign activity and strengthen the country’s networks amid mounting Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.

Belarusian president, a Putin ally, did not expect war to ‘drag on.’ Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko — Russia’s staunch ally — said he did not expect the war in Ukraine to “drag on this way.”


Three people killed in suspected Palestinian attack in Israel. Police set up roadblocks to try to catch the assailants who fled the scene, about 15 km (9 miles) from Tel Aviv. On television, Elad’s mayor urged residents to stay indoors while security forces were still operating.

Israeli forces storm Al-Aqsa as hundreds of settlers gather. Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday, injuring at least 16 Palestinians and arresting dozens.

Rights groups slam Israeli ruling that allows razing of villages. Rights groups have decried a decision by an Israeli court that paves the way for Israeli forces to forcibly expel Palestinian Bedouin communities in Masafer Yatta, an area in the southern occupied West Bank.

OPPOSING US NOT LOOKING AS GOOD NOW – Nicaragua quietly seeks to re-engage with US -sources. Laureano Ortega’s overture comes as he, other family members and those in his father’s inner circle face U.S. sanctions, and Managua’s ally Russia is increasingly isolated by Washington and other Western powers over President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.


New ruling threatens Coast Guard’s high seas counter-drug mission. The Coast Guard spends more than $2 billion annually as part of the effort to stop illegal narcotics from entering the United States.

COOL – DARPA’s nuclear space propulsion project advances to next phase. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is kicking off the next phase of a program to demonstrate the feasibility of nuclear-powered propulsion systems operating between Earth and the moon in what’s known as cislunar space.

What a general’s court-martial means for the military’s ‘old boys’ club.’ No general in the 75-year history of the Air Force had ever been through a court-martial, let alone been convicted. But in April, both happened.


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.COM

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