New Russian Military Exercises in Serbia
Recent reports indicate that what appears to be an entire Russian airborne battalion from the 7th Guards Air Assault Division has entered Serbia and is conducting joint exercises with the Serbian Army near the Hungarian border. So far, there have been no border crossings, but there are reports of live fire near the border. Hungarian Defense Forces are on high alert.
Serbian relations with the West soured considerably following the Fourth Balkan War, in which Western forces intervened in the dispute between Serbia and Kosovo for the second time. The aftermath of that war saw Serbia drawn far more firmly into Russia’s orbit.
With Russian forces pushing along the borders of Slovakia and Poland, ostensibly to create a “security buffer zone” between Russian-occupied territory and the war that erupted in Slovakia last year, this new movement presents a matter of some grave concern.
Chinese Naval Forces Shift Focus
Following reports of violence on and around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, including the reported—though vehemently denied by PLAN spokesperson Bai Guanting—sinking of several PLAN destroyers and severe damage done to the PLAN aircraft carrier Shandong, it appears that the People’s Liberation Army Navy has, for the most part, withdrawn from the South China Sea, leaving the bulk of the Spratly Islands to the Philippines.
Beijing insists that this is and will remain only a temporary redeployment of forces, due to growing Japanese naval activity in the Senkaku Islands and off the coast of Taiwan. Bai Guanting did allow that there had been an uptick in what he called terrorist and pirate activity in the South China Sea, aimed at legitimate Chinese security operations. However, he insisted that the terrorists were being dealt with and that there is no correlation between that activity and the redeployment north, closer to the mainland Chinese coast.
Increased Chinese Presence in Kashmir and Pakistan
While a series of bombings and growing violence between not only Pakistan and India, but also Pakistani authorities, the Pakistani Taliban, and Lashkhar e Taiba has been cited as the reason for the increased security presence of PLA soldiers in Pakistan, some analysts believe that China is making a move to completely control lines of communication through Central Asia, particularly after the recent withdrawal of PLAN forces from the Spratly Islands.
It does appear that most of the Chinese security forces in Pakistan and Kashmir are concentrated along railroad and ground transportation routes, as well as protecting the new oil pipeline coming from Karachi, as well as mineral routes out of Afghanistan. There are even reports of PLA Special Forces infiltrating into Afghanistan, ostensibly to advise local security forces of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, though many analysts suspect they are moving in to strike at any threats to Chinese mining interests in that country.
While many deny its plausibility, especially given the ruggedness of the country in between, it appears that the People’s Republic of China is actively working to secure a new logistical route for strategic materials, separate from the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea. Time will tell.
New Wave of Terror and Infrastructure Attacks Rock East Coast
Power went down across large swathes of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, as a cyber attack struck the RFC in conjunction with multiple bombing and arson attacks on major substations. Shortly thereafter, drone strikes on Capitol Hill in Washington DC killed three and temporarily forced lawmakers to take cover in a secure area. No one has taken responsibility for the attack, though Representative Claire Wolverton immediately called a press conference to call for further sanctions and the mobilization of the National Guard to quash the “right-wing terrorist militia” known as “The Triarii.” Senator Trent Corwin, however, pointed out that it was Triarii counter-drone teams that kept the attack from being much worse.
Unrest, instability, supply chain and energy grid disruptions, as well as out-and-out terrorism continue to be facts of life for much of the United States, now a year after the cyber attacks that crippled nearly sixty percent of the power grid in the Lower 48. The worst part of this chaos, however, appears to be an ever-widening rift between states, as more and more Americans blame each other for the disruption and the violence.
Balkanization Continues to Harden in the Lower 48 States
While it could be argued that the United States has been in a cold civil war for the better part of a decade, it has always been a relatively low-intensity conflict, largely carried out on a social and political level—even if that “social level” included riots and mass demonstrations. For the most part, while there has been plenty of political warfare between various states and the federal government, it always stayed mostly within the realm of rhetoric and legal wrangling, if occasionally spilling over into the realm of economics, as state governments attempted to place boycotts on other states with different politics.
All of that has changed over the last two to three years. Not only has political violence intensified—and there is no mistaking the fact that, despite known foreign activity behind many of the terrorist incidents since the cyber attack last year, much of it has been fed by domestic organizations for political purposes—but the divisions between states have become far sharper.
With the non-governmental organization known as “The Triarii” taking on more and more local and interstate security tasks, and the country appearing to fall into “Triarii States” and “Federal States,” this divide can only get worse.
Months after the Fall of Brussels, Europe still has no Peace
While it appeared that the war between the US and the European Defense Council ended with the capture or death of the permanent members of the Council itself, stability has not followed the fall of the EDC.
Crime is rampant throughout the former EDC countries, particularly Germany and France. An uneasy truce has been declared along the line running from Toulouse to Marseilles, while the Nouveau Gallia group refuses to stand down. Rumors abound of a separatist movement in Bavaria, while the crime wave throughout the rest of Germany hits new heights.
US Army spokesperson Major Jane Kinsey refused to consider parallels to Iraq from 2004 to 2007, insisting that the Army is working closely with the Bundeswehr and Bundespolizei to ensure stability and peace in the region, and that while the European Defense Council might be no more, the German government is still intact and working toward a new Europe, despite those rare opportunists who would try to use the chaos to further their own goals. While Major Kinsey did not specifically name Russia, the implications, given the growing Russian advances in Poland and eastern Slovakia, are unavoidable.