Posted by BW Actual on Jan 13th 2023



  • The Secretary of Ukraine's Security Council assessed that Russia's three fighting groups - the Armed Forces, Wagner Group, and the new armed wing of the security forces - are going to lock themselves into a power struggle for control over the war in Ukraine. Recently it's seemed like Wagner has gotten the best opportunities to prove itself, although Bakhmut is proving to be a challenging test for it.
  • Here's the Institute for the Study of War's (ISW's) lukewarm analysis of this week's appointment of a Kremlin insider and Russia's most senior military official, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, to lead Russia's Armed Forces in Ukraine:
"Putin has repeatedly demonstrated he misunderstands the capabilities of Russian forces and has not abandoned his maximalist war aims in Ukraine. Putin may have appointed succeed a series of theater commanders to oversee a major offensive that Putin — likely incorrectly — believes Russian forces can accomplish in 2023."
  • The (very lengthy) full ISW analysis is here.
  • Separately, Russia released Trevor Dudley, a U.S. citizen and Navy veteran it's held since almost a year ago when Dudley accidentally crossed from Poland into Russia on a backpacking trip. Former New Mexico governor - and now frequent hostage negotiator - Bill Richardson helped secure Dudley's release.
  • The U.S. and Japan announced plans to strengthen their military alliance as a counterweight to China's rising influence in the Pacific. The new agreement will see U.S. forces in Japan reorganized to better challenge China at sea.
  • Japan also signed a new defense agreement with the UK that allows both countries to send troops to the other.


  • Iran sentenced a former deputy defense minister (and joint UK citizen), Alireza Akbari, to death for treason, according to the accused's wife. Akbari claims he was tortured and drugged into confessing because Iran wants to "take revenge" on the UK, and the UK is requesting consular access and appealing the death sentence.
North Korea
  • So far, South Korea's reaction to the North's nuclear provocations has been to strengthen its military alliance with the U.S., but yesterday - for the first time - Pres. Yoon said the South might consider developing its own nuclear arsenal if the North continues to provoke.
  • The peace process in Tigray is actually making progress: Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) commanders are handing in their heavy weapons and withdrawing from battle areas.
  • One possible wrench in the plan is the continued presence of thousands of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia: they fought the Tigrayans alongside Ethiopian forces last year, and Pres. Afewerki has thus far refused to pull them back (he has beef with the TPLF dating back to the 1998-2000 civil war).
  • Following meetings with M23 leaders, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta says the rebels agreed to honor an earlier ceasefire agreement and withdraw from North Kivu. The M23 has moved slowly on its prior promises and probably won't rush to withdraw from mineral-rich North Kivu.
  • Venezuela assigned a new cargo of crude oil to Chevron. The gesture was probably part of the November agreement that saw Chevron's U.S. license reinstated.
  • Separately, Pres. Maduro said Venezuela's economy grew 15% in 2022 - its first growth year since 2013, when Maduro began to wreck the Venezuelan economy with disastrous policies.
  • CIA Director Bill Burns made a surprise trip to Libya, where he met with Prime Minister Dbeibah and eastern commander Khalifa Haftar - but not Dbeibah's rival Prime Minister, Fathi Bashagha. The CIA declined to comment on Burns's meetings.