WORLD ROUNDUPThe Secret World of China’s Hackers for Hire | Taiwan’s Theory of the Fight | The Two-State Mirage, and more

Published 22 February 2024

·  Why Zelensky Replaced Ukraine’s Top General and What It Means for the War
The civil-military rift became untenable, but the way ahead is not going to be easy

·  Germany Is Failing Ukraine—and Europe
Berlin is scared of acknowledging Russia’s real threat

·  The Dragon Won’t Bring China a Baby Boom
In the Chinese zodiac cycle, children born in the year of the dragon are considered lucky—but it’s unlikely to cause a bump in 2024

·  Taiwan’s Theory of the Fight
In crowded field of work by scholars and officials exploring Taiwan’s security, Lee Hsi-ming’s Taiwan’s Plan for Victory stands out

·  The U.S. Is Playing the Wrong Game in the Competition with China
Washington should take a page out of Beijing’s playbook and rebalance its investments and energy towards economic and diplomatic interactions while at the same time moving toward a smaller but still robust defensive capability

·  The Two-State Mirage
How to break the cycle of violence in a one-state reality

·  Leaked Files Show the Secret World of China’s Hackers for Hire
China has increasingly turned to private companies in campaigns to hack foreign governments and control its domestic population

Why Zelensky Replaced Ukraine’s Top General and What It Means for the War  (Eric Ciaramella, Lawfare)
President Volodymyr Zelensky’s replacement of Ukraine’s top military leadership in early February—the most significant shake-up in Kyiv since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion two years ago—was long in the making. Zelensky cast his decision to replace Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhny and other senior officers as necessary to rejuvenate the war effort after last year’s failed counteroffensive. But, although Zelensky and Zaluzhny had clashed over certain aspects of Ukraine’s military strategy, the decision ultimately stemmed from politics and an interpersonal conflict between the two men that had escalated steadily since the earliest days of the war.
The political dimension of their quarrel was also about certain aspects of military strategy. The two leaders clashed over the requirements for further mobilization, and neither wanted to bear the political responsibility for championing an unpopular decision. They also disagreed at times about certain operational issues, most notably during the Battle of Bakhmut in early 2023. Zelensky wanted to hold the city at all costs, especially after his address to the U.S. Congress in December 2022, when he depicted the battle as a pivotal one that would determine the trajectory of the war. Zaluzhny urged a tactical withdrawal once it became clear that the battle was unwinnable, fearing that continuing to fight there would deplete the more experienced Ukrainian brigades that were needed for the impending counteroffensive. 
But on one thing at least, they agreed: Both Zelensky and Zaluzhny viewed last year’s counteroffensive as Ukraine’s best chance to break through Russian lines and sever the land bridge to Crimea. It did not go according to plan. The reasons for the operation’s failure are complex. But as Ukrainian forces struggled to penetrate Russia’s prepared defenses in summer 2023, the Office of the President and the General Staff began to trade blame for what went wrong—at first through anonymous quotes in Ukrainian and Western media, and eventually in the open.