Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security and Policy Insights – May 23, 2023
Global Security Matters
Military & Defense
- The US military posted pictures of a the GBU-57, known as the “Massive Ordnance Penetrator,” a bomb intended to penetrate deep into the earth to destroy weapons of mass destruction in protected facilities. The publication of these photos came as tensions increased over Iran’s nuclear program. The Airforce took the photos down, reportedly due to the sensitive details.
- On Saturday, the leader of Russia’s Wagner Group claimed that his unit had captured Bakhmut after 224 days of fighting. Ukraine has since denied the claims and said the city has not fallen and is being flanked by Ukrainian forces. Additionally, it was reported last week that a Russian bomber was downed by the Patriot air defense system used by Ukrainian soldiers. The US is assisting Ukraine in fixing another Patriot system damaged in attacks last week. A group of anti-Putin Russian nationals aligned with Ukraine dealt another blow to Russia yesterday. The group is responsible for an attack in Russian’s southwestern region of Belgorod. They claim to have “liberated” a settlement in the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine.
- On Monday, China’s foreign ministry urged the US to bring back bilateral relations and meet China halfway. A ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, made the remarks in response to President Biden suggesting a shift in US-China relations. Biden made the statement at a press conference after a three-day summit with G7 leaders.
- Russia issued an arrest for the British prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as retribution for the arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin issued in March. The arrest order sought to detain Karim Khan, who has served as the ICC prosecutor since 2021 and played an important role in the arrest order against Putin. Russia also added a host of new American officials to its list of individuals barred from entering the country.
- Iranian President Ebrahim Raisia appointed a new official to take over the post of secretary of the country’s Supreme National Security Council on Monday. The decree replaces Ali Shamkhani with Ali Akbar Ahmadian, the former chief of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard’s strategic center. Shamkhani faced corruption allegations and has been implicated in a scandal for having close ties with British-Iranian Ali Reza Akbari, who was hanged on spying charges earlier this year in Iran. The Fars news agency described Ahmadian as a “trenchmate” of General Qassem Soleimani.
- Hezbollah invited foreign reporters to attend a military training exercise on Sunday. The training involved hundreds of Hezbollah members and a new arsenal of tanks, cannons, and rocket launchers. According to senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine, this exercise was meant to “confirm our complete readiness to confront any aggression” by Israel. This exercise came a few days before “Liberation Day” which celebrates the withdrawal of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from Lebanon in 2000.
- The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) created a Telegram channel. The CIA explained the channel will help them reach people in countries where Telegram is more prominently used. The first post on the Telegram was a video in Russian which invites “courageous Russians” to contact the CIA and share information.
Covid-19 & Pandemics
- WHO (World Health Organization) and partners are launching a global network to help protect people from infectious disease threats through the power of pathogen genomics. Pathogen genomics analyzes the genetic code of viruses, bacteria and other disease-causing organisms.
- Cuba’s homegrown vaccines against Covid-19 received the sanitary registration granted by the Center for State Control of Medicines, Medical Equipment and Devices (CECMED) for its proven efficacy.
- US Department of State Travel Advisories
- CISA: nation-state cybersecurity threats and other resources for cybersecurity matters.
- Our most recent blog post looks at the controversy around security for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.