ЗСУ проводять «стабілізаційні дії» на Покровському напрямку, він залишається найгарячішим – Генштаб

«Агресор активізував свої зусилля на витісненні підрозділів Сил оборони з лівобережної частини Дніпра на Придніпровському напрямку»

US and China hold first informal nuclear talks in 5 years, eyeing Taiwan

HONG KONG — The United States and China resumed semi-official nuclear arms talks in March for the first time in five years, with Beijing’s representatives telling U.S. counterparts that they would not resort to atomic threats over Taiwan, according to two American delegates who attended.

The Chinese representatives offered reassurances after their U.S. interlocutors raised concerns that China might use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons if it faced defeat in a conflict over Taiwan. Beijing views the democratically governed island as its territory, a claim rejected by the government in Taipei.

“They told the U.S. side that they were absolutely convinced that they are able to prevail in a conventional fight over Taiwan without using nuclear weapons,” said scholar David Santoro, the U.S. organizer of the Track Two talks, the details of which are being reported by Reuters for the first time.

Participants in Track Two talks are generally former officials and academics who can speak with authority on their government’s position, even if they are not directly involved with setting it. Government-to-government negotiations are known as Track One.  

Washington was represented by about half a dozen delegates, including former officials and scholars at the two-day discussions, which took place in a Shanghai hotel conference room.  

Beijing sent a delegation of scholars and analysts, which included several former People’s Liberation Army officers.

A State Department spokesperson said in response to Reuters’ questions that Track Two talks could be “beneficial.” The department did not participate in the March meeting though it was aware of it, the spokesperson said.  

Such discussions cannot replace formal negotiations “that require participants to speak authoritatively on issues that are often highly compartmentalized within (Chinese) government circles,” the spokesperson said.

Members of the Chinese delegation and Beijing’s defense ministry did not respond to requests for comment.  

The informal discussions between the nuclear-armed powers took place with the U.S. and China at odds over major economic and geopolitical issues, with leaders in Washington and Beijing accusing each other of dealing in bad faith.  

The two countries briefly resumed Track One talks over nuclear arms in November but those negotiations have since stalled, with a top U.S. official publicly expressing frustration at China’s responsiveness.

The Pentagon, which estimates that Beijing’s nuclear arsenal increased by more than 20% between 2021 and 2023, said in October that China “would also consider nuclear use to restore deterrence if a conventional military defeat in Taiwan” threatened CCP rule.

China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control and has over the past four years stepped up military activity around the island.  

The Track Two talks are part of a two-decade nuclear weapons and posture dialog that stalled after the Trump administration pulled funding in 2019.  

After the COVID-19 pandemic, semi-official discussions resumed on broader security and energy issues, but only the Shanghai meeting dealt in detail with nuclear weapons and posture.

Santoro, who runs the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum think-tank, described “frustrations” on both sides during the latest discussions but said the two delegations saw reason to continue talking. More discussions were being planned in 2025, he said.  

Nuclear policy analyst William Alberque of the Henry Stimson Centre think-tank, who was not involved in the March discussions, said the Track Two negotiations were useful at a time of glacial U.S.-Chinese relations.

“It’s important to continue talking with China with absolutely no expectations,” he said, when nuclear arms are at issue.

No first-use?

The U.S. Department of Defense estimated last year that Beijing has 500 operational nuclear warheads and will probably field more than 1,000 by 2030.  

That compares to 1,770 and 1,710 operational warheads deployed by the U.S. and Russia respectively. The Pentagon said that by 2030, much of Beijing’s weapons will likely be held at higher readiness levels.

Since 2020, China has also modernized its arsenal, starting production of its next-generation ballistic missile submarine, testing hypersonic glide vehicle warheads and conducting regular nuclear-armed sea patrols.

Weapons on land, in the air and at sea give China the “nuclear triad” – a hallmark of a major nuclear power.

A key point the U.S. side wanted to discuss, according to Santoro, was whether China still stood by its no-first-use and minimal deterrence policies, which date from the creation of its first nuclear bomb in the early 1960s.

Minimal deterrence refers to having just enough atomic weapons to dissuade adversaries.

China is also one of two nuclear powers – the other being India – to have pledged not to initiate a nuclear exchange. Chinese military analysts have speculated that the no-first-use policy is conditional – and that nuclear arms could be used against Taiwan’s allies – but it remains Beijing’s stated stance.  

Santoro said the Chinese delegates told U.S. representatives that Beijing maintained these policies and that “‘we are not interested in reaching nuclear parity with you, let alone superiority.'”  

“‘Nothing has changed, business as usual, you guys are exaggerating’,” Santoro said in summarizing Beijing’s position.

His description of the discussions was corroborated by fellow U.S. delegate Lyle Morris, a security scholar at the Asia Society Policy Institute.  

A report on the discussions is being prepared for the U.S. government but would not be made public, Santoro said.

‘Risk and Opacity’

Top U.S. arms control official Bonnie Jenkins told Congress in May that China had not responded to nuclear-weapons risk reduction proposals that Washington raised during last year’s formal talks.  

China has yet to agree to further government-to-government meetings.

Bejing’s “refusal to substantively engage” in discussions over its nuclear build-up raises questions around its “already ambiguous stated “no-first-use” policy and its nuclear doctrine more broadly,” the State Department spokesperson told Reuters.  

China’s Track Two delegation did not discuss specifics about Beijing’s modernization effort, Santoro and Morris said.

Alberque of the Henry Stimson Centre said that China relied heavily on “risk and opacity” to mitigate U.S. nuclear superiority and there was “no imperative” for Beijing to have constructive discussions.

China’s expanded arsenal – which includes anti-ship cruise missiles, bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarines – exceeded the needs of a state with a minimal deterrence and no-first-use policy, Alberque said.  

Chinese talking points revolved around the “survivability” of Beijing’s nuclear weapons if it suffered a first strike, said Morris.

The U.S. delegates said the Chinese described their efforts as a deterrence-based modernization program to cope with developments such as improved U.S. missile defenses, better surveillance capabilities, and strengthened alliances.

The U.S., Britain and Australia last year signed a deal to share nuclear submarine technology and develop a new class of boats, while Washington is now working with Seoul to coordinate responses to a potential atomic attack.

Washington’s policy on nuclear weapons includes the possibility of using them if deterrence fails, though the Pentagon says it would only consider that in extreme circumstances. It did not provide specifics.  

One Chinese delegate “pointed to studies that said Chinese nuclear weapons were still vulnerable to U.S. strikes – their second-strike capability was not enough,” said Morris.


Africa defense chiefs to gather in Botswana for US military conference

Gaborone, Botswana — Defense chiefs from 30 African countries will gather in Botswana next week for a two-day military conference to discuss the continent’s security and stability challenges. The meeting, organized by the United States Africa Command, or AFRICOM, will be the first to be held in Africa since the inaugural conference in 2017 

“The aim [is] to tackle the pressing security challenges on the African continent and to find ways to work together for a safer, more secure Africa,” said Lt. Commander Bobby Dixon, a spokesman at AFRICOM.  “From counterterrorism efforts to cyber threats and peacekeeping missions, this conference will cover it all. Experts and military leaders will share insights, strategies, and forge partnerships that will strengthen the collective defense capabilities for all of Africa. This is more than just a conference — it’s a significant step towards a unified approach in safeguarding the African continent.”

AFRICOM says the meeting will build on the success of previous conferences. Last year’s meeting held in Rome, Italy, attracted the highest turnout, with 43 countries in attendance.

“It is evident that Africa faces a series of challenges,” said Jakkie Cilliers, a political scientist at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria. “It is not always clear that the model that the U.S. presents is appropriate for Africa. In recent years, we have seen a variety of coups in Africa, sometimes executed by African forces that have been trained in the U.S., the U.K. and France. And it is also evident that a number of U.N. peacekeeping missions, such as that in the DR Congo and Mali, are withdrawing from Africa.

“On the other hand, the role of Russia and the so-called Africa Group [pls check the audio; it is usually called the Africa Corps] is expanding. So, it’s clear that Africa is facing a security challenge, and partners can and should do as much as possible to help.”

Cilliers added that there is a need for the Gaborone conference to come up with effective solutions to the continent’s security challenges. 

“Are we seeing a new model developing where African governments are considering alternative security arrangements, mostly by other African countries?” he said. “And of course, the role of private companies is also increasing. These events occur at a time of significant shifts in the global balance of power, and Africa again is an area of competition. One hopes all these issues will be discussed at the upcoming conference in Gaborone, and that real solutions will come to the fore.”

In March, following its Peace and Security Council meeting, the African Union expressed “deep concern” over the scourge of conflicts on the continent and their impact on socioeconomic development.

НБУ заборонив використання кредитних коштів для участі в азартних іграх

20 квітня президент України Володимир Зеленський своїм указом увів в дію рішення Ради національної безпеки й оборони «Щодо протидії негативним наслідкам функціонування азартних ігор в мережі Інтернет»

Очільник МВС вважає, що у розслідуванні про бізнес родини Вигівського «все не так однозначно»

Клименко повідомив, що жодних внутрішніх розслідувань щодо глави Нацполу Івана Вигівського та походження статків його родини у міністерстві не проводять

US bans Russia’s Kaspersky antivirus software

Washington — U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday banned Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky from providing its popular antivirus products in the United States over national security concerns, the U.S. Commerce Department said.

“Kaspersky will generally no longer be able to, among other activities, sell its software within the United States or provide updates to software already in use,” the agency said in a statement.

The announcement came after a lengthy investigation found Kaspersky’s “continued operations in the United States presented a national security risk due to the Russian Government’s offensive cyber capabilities and capacity to influence or direct Kaspersky’s operations,” it said.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said, “Russia has shown time and again they have the capability and intent to exploit Russian companies, like Kaspersky Lab, to collect and weaponize sensitive U.S. information.”

Kaspersky, in a statement to AFP, said the Commerce Department “made its decision based on the present geopolitical climate and theoretical concerns,” and vowed to “pursue all legally available options to preserve its current operations and relationships.”

“Kaspersky does not engage in activities which threaten U.S. national security and, in fact, has made significant contributions with its reporting and protection from a variety of threat actors that targeted U.S. interests and allies,” the company said.

The move is the first such action taken since an executive order issued under Donald Trump’s presidency gave the Commerce Department the power to investigate whether certain companies pose a national security risk.

Raimondo said the Commerce Department’s actions demonstrated to America’s adversaries that it would not hesitate to act when “their technology poses a risk to the United States and its citizens.”

While Kaspersky is headquartered in Moscow, it has offices in 31 countries around the world, servicing more than 400 million users and 270,000 corporate clients in more than 200 countries, the Commerce Department said.

As well as banning the sale of Kaspersky’s antivirus software, the Commerce Department also added three entities linked to the firm to a list of companies deemed to be a national security concern, “for their cooperation with Russian military and intelligence authorities in support of the Russian government’s cyber intelligence objectives.”

The Commerce Department said it “strongly encouraged” users to switch to new vendors, although its decision does not ban them from using the software should they choose to do so.

Kaspersky is allowed to continue certain operations in the United States, including providing antivirus updates, until September 29, “in order to minimize disruption to US consumers and businesses and to give them time to find suitable alternatives,” it added.  

Підозрюваній в нарузі над могилами військових у Києві призначили судово-психіатричну експертизу

«За результатами експертизи буде прийматися рішення, чи буде скерований до суду обвинувальний акт, чи будуть примусові заходи медичного характеру»