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Press review EX - 23 February

Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including geopolitcs, cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference, disinformation, international law, national security.

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The World After Taiwan’s Fall | Services Australia finds 'high risk' vulnerability in identity exchange | Pentagon and Microsoft investigating leak of military emails | Google claims breakthrough in quantum computer error correction | China news

  • War games, exercises, and books can tell us what it might look like if China attacks Taiwan. But they say little about why Taiwan matters and is worth defending. This new study examines what the world would lose if Taiwan falls — and what happens next Pacific Forum

  • Services Australia said it has “actioned” several security-related vulnerabilities found in an identity exchange it operates for the government’s digital identity system, including one rated 'high risk'. The exact nature of the vulnerabilities isn’t discussed, but they are broadly described as “ICT security-related” and relate to how the identity exchange handles personal information. iTnews

  • The Defense Department and Microsoft Corp. are investigating an error that exposed at least a terabyte of military emails including personal information and conversations between officials, people familiar with the matter said, an episode that highlighted the security risk of moving sensitive Pentagon data to the cloud. Bloomberg

  • Google has claimed a breakthrough in correcting for the errors that are inherent in today’s quantum computers, marking an early but potentially significant step in overcoming the biggest technical barrier to a revolutionary new form of computing. Financial Times


The World After Taiwan’s Fall

Let us start with our bottom line: a failure of the United States to come to Taiwan’s aid—politically, economically, and militarily—would devastate the Unites States’ credibility and defense commitments to its allies and partners, not just in Asia, but globally. If the United

States tries but fails to prevent a Chinese takeover of Taiwan, the impact could be equally devastating unless there is a concentrated, coordinated U.S. attempt with likeminded allies and partners to halt further Chinese aggression and eventually roll back Beijing’s ill-gotten gains.

This is not a hypothetical assessment. Taiwan has been increasingly under the threat of a military takeover by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and, even today, is under attack politically, economically, psychologically, and through so-called “gray zone” military actions short of actual combat. The U.S. government, U.S. allies, and others have begun to pay attention to this problem, yet to this day, they have not sufficiently appreciated the strategic implications that such a takeover would generate. To address this problem, the Pacific Forum has conducted a multi-authored study to raise awareness in Washington, key allied capitals, and beyond about the consequences of a Chinese victory in a war over Taiwan and, more importantly, to drive them to take appropriate action to prevent it.

The study, which provides six national perspectives on this question (a U.S., Australian, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and European perspective) and fed its findings and recommendations into the second round of the DTRA SI-STT-sponsored (and Pacific Forum-run) Track 2 “U.S.-Taiwan Deterrence and Defense Dialogue,” outlines these strategic implications in two alternative scenarios. In the first scenario, China attacks Taiwan and it falls with no outside assistance from the United States or others. In the other scenario, Taiwan falls to China despite outside assistance (i.e., “a too little, too late” scenario).

Click here to download the full report.


Australia top target of Chinese trade restrictions - study Reuters China issued threats and trade restrictions against 19 countries between 2020 and 2022, with Australia the top target of such "coercive diplomacy", a report by an Australian security think tank said on Wednesday.

The Strategist

John Coyne

Most academics agree that a universal definition of right-wing extremism is unattainable at this stage. But that consensus isn’t stopping some from characterising a range of ideological groups, from ‘incels’ to white supremacists, as right-wing extremists. Social media has created the kind of anonymity that has emboldened the expression of extremist views and perspectives that would never be publicly shared in the real world. Some have used it to legitimise hate speech as simply personal expression. Easy access to encryption and the dark web has created global echo chambers for the most committed and active extremists. Extremists share views and knowledge within these spaces, sometimes encouraging real-world violence.


Services Australia finds 'high risk' vulnerability in identity exchange iTnews Ry Crozier Services Australia said it has “actioned” several security-related vulnerabilities found in an identity exchange it operates for the government’s digital identity system, including one rated 'high risk'. The exact nature of the vulnerabilities isn’t discussed, but they are broadly described as “ICT security-related” and relate to how the identity exchange handles personal information.

Surveillance tech that ‘predicts crime before it happens’ used in 40% of Australian stores Crikey Cam Wilson Little-known company Auror provides a 'crime intelligence' product used in stores such as Bunnings and Coles. Privacy experts have concerns. Auror is a little-known “crime intelligence platform” used in thousands of stores across Australia, including Coles and Woolworths. Promising to help combat retail crime, Auror users share information about suspects with each other and police, alert each other when people or cars enter their stores, and even use analytics to “prevent crime before it happens”. The company works closely with Australian police forces, who have access to the data collected by Auror’s users on millions of Australians. Now privacy experts are raising concerns about how the use (and potential misuse) of a private company’s crime surveillance network without oversight.

Alice Springs crime Facebook page suspended for ‘bullying and harassment’ Crikey Cam Wilson An influential Alice Springs crime Facebook page, Action for Alice 2020, has been suspended for “bullying and harassment”. Earlier this month, Crikey reported on the controversial Facebook page which posts photographs and videos of alleged crime and antisocial behaviour to its 60,000 followers. The page’s posts — which predominantly depict Indigenous Australians, including young locals — has fuelled racism and calls for vigilante justice from its followers.

Gov to close long-running telco metadata loophole iTnews Richard Chirgwin The government will finally close a loophole in Australia's metadata retention laws that enabled over 100 agencies, from councils to the RSPCA and environmental authorities, to access telecommunications data. The formal commitment comes only after a change in government and the passage of almost two-and-a-half years since a parliamentary review of the metadata retention scheme recommended the loophole be shut.


Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has called for strengthening basic research to consolidate the country's self-reliance and strength in science and technology.

Vessels of the 42nd Chinese naval escort taskforce arrived at Richards Bay, South Africa, on February 19, to participate in the joint maritime exercise of China, Russia and South Africa. The South African Navy held a welcoming ceremony for their arrival at the dock, where, Acting Chinese Consul General in Durban Sun Anlin, leaders of the South African military and representatives of local overseas Chinese gathered to welcome.

China on Tuesday released "The Global Security Initiative Concept Paper."

Please see the attachment for the full text of the Paper.

China tells big tech companies not to offer ChatGPT services Nikkei Asia Cissy Zhou Regulators have told major Chinese tech companies not to offer ChatGPT services to the public amid growing alarm in Beijing over the AI-powered chatbot's uncensored replies to user queries. Tech companies will also need to report to regulators before they launch their own ChatGPT-like services, the sources added.

China tops nuclear fusion patent ranking, beating U.S. Nikkei Asia Rimi Inomata China has raced ahead of the pack in filing patents in nuclear fusion technology, pointing to its ambition to master the science and take the lead in the development of an alternative to fossil fuels. China came first in a nuclear fusion patent ranking compiled by Tokyo-based research company astamuse -- partly owned by Nikkei -- ahead of second-placed U.S., which was followed by the U.K. and Japan.

China’s tech rainmaker vanishes, and so does business confidence The New York Times Li Yuan Bao Fan’s firm says he’s unreachable, and others in the tech sector are worried for him and fear what his disappearance says about China’s heavy hand in business.

Leaking chip secrets to China results in jail terms for ex-Samsung employees The Wall Street Journal Jiyoung Sohn A court in South Korea found seven ex-employees of a Samsung Electronics Co. subsidiary guilty of illegally obtaining and transferring semiconductor-related technology to Chinese companies, a case that underscores the intensifying efforts countries are making to protect their chip technologies.

Chinese Studies

Journal of Contemporary China

  • Innovation Network Formation and the Catalyzing State: A Study of Two Innovative Industry Clusters in China

  • Rising Income and Wealth Inequality in China: Empirical Assessments and Theoretical Reflections

The authors...find that the top 1% income share roughly equals that of the bottom 50%. The personal wealth share going to the top 1% exceeds by 5 times the wealth going to the bottom 50%. Failures in redistributive policies have primarily caused these growing income and wealth gaps. Sectoral and national development policies favoring the real estate industry at the expense of the manufacturing industry have also resulted in large-scale wealth shifts, with Chinese households holding increasing housing assets and residential mortgages. This article shows that Piketty’s patrimonial capitalism not only applies to capitalist countries but also extends to China’s socialist market economy."

  • Invented Borders: The Tension Between Grassroots Patriotism and State-Led Patriotic Campaigns in China

"Patriotic campaigns and mass mobilization draw on existing xenophobic attitudes of the public, reinforcing the ‘us vs. them’ dualism between China and ‘the West’. However, patriotic campaigns are not always top-down, state-led, nor are they always primarily driven by political ideology. Patriotic content appeals to a growing nationalist audience who consumes a mixed feeling of perceived victimization at the hand of foreign aggression and the pride arising from being a Chinese citizen. This paper argues that the profitability of patriotic content circulating on social media exacerbated the tension between market-driven grassroots patriotism and state-led patriotic campaigns. The tension grows out of, and is manifested in, the online popular debate around economically driven, grassroots ‘patriotic’ content that can challenge the state state-led patriotic rhetoric. While the state sometimes strategically co-opts some patriotic contents into its own patriotic narratives, it also delegitimises other undesired ones"

  • Does China’s Case Falsify Modernization Theory? Interim Assessment

"This study revisits the question of whether China's economic development has brought democratic changes within the country or not. While the modernization theory suggests that economic development should lead to democratization, scholars claim that China has not made democratic progress despite its economic growth. By comparing these two competing perspectives and examining the evidence behind each assessment, I argue that there has been a certain degree of democratic progress in China, in terms of increasing social aspirations for a more open and free society among the Chinese people. I explain why and how scholars reach different conclusions about democratic progress in China, and emphasize the importance of understanding discrepancies between (1) the lack of change in the state’s system, (2) oscillation between liberal and illiberal policies, and (3) progressive changes in society...It also discusses how Chinese people's local understanding of democracy affects the assessment of modernization theory's applicability in explaining China's case."

China Quarterly

  • Direct Election, Bureaucratic Appointment and Local Government Responsiveness in Taiwan

  • Policy Experimentation under Pressure in Contemporary China

"Many studies put forward the argument that local policy experimentation, a key feature of China's policy process in the Hu Jintao era, has been paralysed by Xi Jinping's (re)centralization of political power – otherwise known as “top-level design.” This narrative suggests that local policymakers have become increasingly risk-averse owing to the anti-corruption campaign and are therefore unwilling to experiment. This article, however, argues that local governments are still expected to innovate with new policy solutions and now will be punished if they do not...the authors highlight new features developing within current experimental policy cycles. Local cadres now have no choice but to experiment as the political risk of shirking the direct command to experiment may be higher than the inherent risk of experimentation itself."

  • Governing Rural Poverty on Urban Streets: Guangzhou's Management of Beggars in the Reform Era

  • The Cultural Governance of Death in Shenzhen

  • Does Performance Competition Impact China's Leadership Behaviour? Re-examining the Promotion Tournament Hypothesis

"How can China develop so quickly and yet maintain stability? Most scholars pinpoint the efforts of China's local government leaders as a primary factor. Regarding what motivates these leaders, however, scholars display wide disagreement. The widely accepted “promotion tournament” hypothesis stresses competition among local leaders as the driving force, but empirical test results vary considerably and create controversy. We argue that tests of promotion competition should target leadership behaviour rather than institutional inducements; the latter are, at best, a necessary condition of the former...Our test results show, however, that competition for promotion has no significant impact on local leaders’ behaviour, thereby indicating that the promotion tournament hypothesis cannot be the primary explanation for China's economic achievements and regime resilience. In so doing, our study illuminates the oversimplified assumptions behind a prevailing proposition in Chinese politics and offers empirically informed insights into the tensions between political institutions and leadership behaviour.

  • From Cold War Geopolitics to the Crisis of Global Capitalism: The History of Chinese Wireless Network Infrastructures (1987–2020)

Twentieth-Century China

  • Making a Coastal Revolution: Farmers, Fishers, and Socialism, 1946–1959

  • The Korean War, Anti-US Propaganda, and the Marginalization of Dissent in China, 1950–1953

"This article investigates the workings of the anti-US propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the marginalization of dissent in the public realm of China during the Korean War. Through an examination of the actions and reactions of both propagandists and people at the grassroots, this study demonstrates that China's eruption of patriotism and anti-Americanism during the war was far from spontaneous or natural but rather resulted from the interplay between the CCP's propaganda activities and people's reception of the propaganda. I argue that the CCP strategically appropriated war memories and coordinated public articulation and collective sharing of war suffering and of atrocities perpetrated by Japan and by the United States, allowing the CCP to legitimize the promotion of hatred against the United States and the labeling of dissenting voices as connected to China's deadly enemies, the United States and the Nationalists."

  • Who Are the Hui? A Necessary Footnote of Inconvenience

"This article addresses two issues germane to the scholarly quest for Hui identity in the modern era. First, it adds to recent historiography on the Hui by constructing an account of the amalgamation of this corporate identity over the twentieth century. I argue that this conglomeration may only be maintained by overlooking the divergence between the territorially compact Hui communities in Northwest China and the deterritorialized Muslim minority members in China's eastern provinces. This article also cites the continued circulation of the Perso-Arabic xiao'erjin script as evidence for the distinctive northwestern Hui identity. I argue that decentering the eastern provinces and their Chinese language print culture results in a new typology of the Hui, one in which the state-defined negative attribute of "three lacks"—common script, common territory, common economic life—may define the widely dispersed eastern Hui but does not describe the Hui in the northwestern heartland.

  • Visualizing Folk Love Songs: De/politicization of Sinicized Cartoons in North China under Japanese Occupation

Asian Studies

Journal of Contemporary Asia

  • “The Food Delivered is More Valuable Than My Life”: Understanding the Platform Precarity of Online Food-Delivery Work in China

Politburo study session on science and technology - Xi chaired a Politburo Study session on “basic research for self-reliance in science and technology”. The discussant was Gong Qihuang, a physicist specializing in optics who is president of Peking University. The scale of ambition is remarkable. I have included a fairly long translated excerpt of the readout.

Wang Yi meets Putin - Wang Yi’s meeting with Putin was today, Wednesday. From the limited readouts it is hard to see any signs of a shift in the PRC’s relationship with Russia or its position on the war in Ukraine.

Qin Gang in Indonesia - Qin received a warm welcome, met with the Indonesian President, both reiterated the desire to avoid “picking sides” or being drawn into Cold War-like competition. Has anyone suggested a Bandung Conference 2.0?

US-Taiwan meetings - Senior officials including Wendy Sherman, John Finer, Kurt Campbell. Ely Ratner, Rick Waters, Daniel Kritenbrink and others met Tuesday outside DC with a group led by Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. Taiwan media recorded video of US officials arriving and departing. It is unclear if US officials were not trying to hide their meeting at AIT yesterday to send a message to Beijing or they just did not care about being seen. Congressman Mike Gallagher was recently in Taiwan, on an unannounced visit.

  1. Xi is not weakened - So argues Chris Johnson over at Foreign Affairs.

  2. Inner Mongolia mine disaster - There was a collapse at an open pit mine, several are confirmed dead, dozens are missing, Xi has issued an order for “all out” rescue efforts. The company that owns the mine has had repeated issues.


Pentagon and Microsoft are investigating leak of military emails Bloomberg Peter Martin, Dina Bass, Anna Edgerton The Defense Department and Microsoft Corp. are investigating an error that exposed at least a terabyte of military emails including personal information and conversations between officials, people familiar with the matter said, an episode that highlighted the security risk of moving sensitive Pentagon data to the cloud.

U.S. Supreme Court raises doubts about suit against Twitter over Istanbul massacre Reuters Andrew Chung, John Kruzel U.S. Supreme Court justices expressed skepticism on Wednesday toward a lawsuit against Twitter Inc by the family of a Jordanian man killed in an Istanbul nightclub massacre as they weighed for a second straight day whether to hold internet companies accountable for contentious content posted by users.

Chips Act will test whether U.S. can reverse semiconductor exodus The Wall Street Journal Yuka Hayashi The Biden administration kicks the $53 billion Chips Act program into gear this week—and with it, a test of the U.S. government’s ability to reverse an overseas exodus of the domestic semiconductor industry.

Inside Taiwanese Chip Giant, a U.S. Expansion Stokes Tensions The New York Times John Liu, Paul Mozur Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s biggest maker of advanced computer chips, is upgrading and expanding a new factory in Arizona that promises to help move the United States toward a more self-reliant technological future. But to some at the company, the $40 billion project is something else: a bad business decision. Internal doubts are mounting at the Taiwanese chip maker over its U.S. factory, according to interviews with 11 TSMC employees, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Many of the workers said the project could distract from the research and development focus that had long helped TSMC outmaneuver rivals. Some added that they were hesitant to move to the United States because of potential culture clashes.


Canadian military found Chinese monitoring buoys in the Arctic The Globe and Mail Robert Fife, Steven Chase The Canadian military found and retrieved Chinese monitoring buoys in the Arctic this past fall, a development whose public exposure adds another item to a list of pressing concerns about Beijing’s interventions in Canadian affairs, including interference in recent federal elections.

North Asia

Japan to push for body to form digital transfer rules at G-7: minister Nikkei Asia Shiko Ueda When ministers from the Group of Seven major economies meet in Japan this spring to discuss the digital economy, they are expected to agree on forming an organization to craft a common rulebook for cross-border data transfers, Japanese Digital Affairs Minister Taro Kono tells Nikkei.

Southeast Asia

IBM report says Asia-Pacific region faced the brunt of cyberattacks in 2022; manufacturing industry most targeted The Hindu The Asia-Pacific region continued to be the most attacked region in 2022 for the second consecutive year, accounting for 31% of all incidents remediated worldwide, according to a report by IBM. Manufacturing sector topped the list of industries attacked in the region with 48% of cases. It was followed by finance and insurance with 18% of cases.

Ukraine - Russia

Russian propagandists are buying Twitter blue-check verifications The Washington Post Joseph Menn Accounts pushing Kremlin propaganda are using Twitter’s new paid verification system to appear more prominently on the global platform, another sign that Elon Musk’s takeover is accelerating the spread of politically charged misinformation, a nonprofit research group has found. The accounts claim to be based outside of Russia, so they can pay for verification without running afoul of U.S. sanctions. But they pass along articles from state-run media, statements by Russian officials, and lies about Ukraine from Kremlin allies, according to the research group Reset, which shared its findings with The Washington Post.


Internet providers urge immediate action against ransomware CAJ News Africa Tintswalo Baloyi South Africa’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has urged local companies to routinely evaluate ransomware defences and regularly test disaster recovery procedures as local firms are increasingly in the sights of organised cyber criminals.

Middle East

IDC explores the rise of the digital economy as it hosts 16th Annual Middle East CIO Summit in Dubai IDC Sheila Manek International Data Corporation (IDC) today launched the 16th edition of its annual IDC Middle East CIO Summit at Dubai's Atlantis, The Palm. With more than 500 of the region's most influential ICT decision makers in attendance, the two-day event — which this year runs under the theme 'Enabling the Digital Economy's Leaders' — was opened by IDC's global president, Crawford Del Prete, as he presented the summit's keynote, 'Strategies for the CIO and Enterprise Innovation'.

Big Tech

Google claims breakthrough in quantum computer error correction Financial Times Richard Waters Google has claimed a breakthrough in correcting for the errors that are inherent in today’s quantum computers, marking an early but potentially significant step in overcoming the biggest technical barrier to a revolutionary new form of computing.

Tesla board misrepresented Musk’s $55 billion pay package, judge told Bloomberg Jef Feeley Tesla Inc. directors misrepresented a $55 billion pay package they recommended for Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, a lawyer for shareholders said in closing trial arguments in a suit challenging Musk’s compensation. Board members filled proxy disclosures with “half-truths” about the package, which would be the largest-ever awarded to a CEO, the lawyer, Greg Varallo, said Tuesday in Delaware Chancery Court.

Meta plans to cut thousands of jobs, after CEO predicted no more layoffs The Washington Post Naomi Nix Facebook parent company Meta is preparing for a fresh round of job cuts, deputizing human resources, lawyers, financial experts and top executives to draw up plans to deflate the company’s hierarchy, in a reorganization and downsizing effort that could affect thousands of workers.

Elon Musk to open up Twitter’s algorithm to public The Sydney Morning Herald Matthew Field Elon Musk has pledged to publish Twitter’s internal algorithms within days as part of attempts to turnaround the social media company. The tech billionaire said he would make Twitter’s internal code “open source”, meaning anyone can view it.

Artificial Intelligence

Amazon’s cloud unit partners with startup Hugging Face as AI deals heat up Bloomberg Dina Bass Inc.’s cloud unit is expanding a partnership with artificial intelligence startup Hugging Face Inc., which is developing a ChatGPT rival, the latest move as the biggest technology firms line up allies in an attention-getting market for generative AI systems.

Microsoft flip-flops on reining in Bing AI chatbot The Washington Post Gerrit De Vynck Microsoft is backpedaling on the restrictions it imposed on its Bing artificial intelligence chatbot after early users of the tech got it to engage in bizarre and troubling conversations.


Android voice chat app leaves database unprotected, leaks private user data: Report The Hindu OyeTalk, which describes itself as a social audio platform with over 5 million downloads on Google Play Store, left its database open to the public exposing users’ private data and conversations, a report from cybernews shared.


Duelling narratives of vitality and victimhood on right-wing TikTok: Exploring the #Pureblood trend Global Network on Extremism and Technology Meghan Conroy, Abbie Richards COVID-19 vaccines emerged as a flashpoint for contention on a global scale and remain controversial to this day. Underscoring this point, a TikTok trend surfaced wherein some anti-vax users have adopted the term ‘pureblood’ to proudly share their unvaccinated status. In spite of the trend’s continued prevalence into early 2023, analysis of this particular social media trend has all but ceased. Despite waning interest by the media, the trend reflects an ongoing embrace of fascist talking points and is therefore deserving of further investigation.

Issues & Insights Vol. 23, WP2 – Digital China: The Strategy and Its Geopolitical Implications Pacific Forum Dr. David Dorman, Dr. John Hemmings In the first installment of a three-part research project, Dr. Dorman and Dr. Hemmings lay out the rise of China’s overall digital grand strategy, Xi’s role in it, and how it has been organized to fulfil Party objectives. The report tracks the rise of the strategy over the past 10 years, the acceleration of that rise during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the current state of the strategy.

Shielding Democracy: Civil society adaptations to Kremlin disinformation about Ukraine National Endowment for Democracy Lily Sabol One year since the Kremlin’s unprovoked, full-scale invasion, Ukraine and its allies appear to be winning the battle in the information space, at least across much of the transatlantic community. Civil society organizations in Ukraine and across Central and Eastern Europe have been critical to this success, countering Moscow’s efforts to delegitimize the Ukrainian state, obscure Russian atrocities, and fracture the Western alliance. How has civil society adapted and innovated to push back on Kremlin disinformation? What might others learn from their efforts?

One size does not fit all Assessment, safety, and trust for the diverse range of AI products, tools, services, and resources Center for Security and Emerging Techology Heather Frase The spread of artificial intelligence across business, defense, and security sectors has the potential to improve the speed of operations, provide new capabilities, and increase efficiencies. Along with the integration of AI comes an upsurge in risk and potential harm from AI accidents, misuse, and unexpected behavior. The growing concern about AI having unforeseen negative impacts on U.S. commercial, social, infrastructure, and national security highlights the need for AI assessment that can help reduce potential harm from AI and ensure that AI applications and technologies are safe and trustworthy. The Center for Security and Emerging Technology has published studies related to AI safety, accidents, and testing. Building on this work, CSET has launched a new line of research titled “AI Assessment” to investigate the development and adequacy of current AI assessment approaches, along with the availability and sufficiency of tools and resources for implementing them.

Just Security

(With introduction by Viola Gienger) Kira Rudik, leader of the liberal party Golos, or “Voice,” in the Ukrainian Parliament, has a striking backdrop for her Zoom calls. It’s an array of four flags, with the now-iconic blue and yellow bicolor of Ukraine and the red flag with white emblem of her party in the center, flanked by the flags of NATO and the European Union. She calls the latter “the two institutional requirements of the Ukrainian people that are written in our Constitution — to join the EU and NATO.”

“This is not like a political statement of somebody,” she says. “It is something that we have all agreed on…And I do hope it will happen really, really soon.”

In the interview below, Rudik, a former tech entrepreneur, describes the harrowing year in Ukraine’s Parliament (the Verkhovna Rada, or “Rada” for short) since Russia’s full-scale assault, including periodic bombings of the capital Kyiv, and far worse massacres and leveling of entire towns, cities, and swaths of countryside in the east and south. Even as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy captures the world’s attention – and admiration — for staying in the country during the war and for his inspirational rallying cries to Ukrainians and the world, the Rada has labored mostly behind closed doors. News cameras and reporters are largely absent as the Parliament meets without public notice, for security.

February 22, 2023

Feb. 24, 2022 was a test for Ukraine’s institutions, none less than its Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. Would the enemy army frighten us? Two hours after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, almost 300 out of 423 parliamentarians gathered at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada to vote for laws that would be necessary to counteract the armed aggression of one of the most powerful militaries in the world. In the year since then, Ukraine has demonstrated how it would preserve its democracy even during Russia’s persistent aggression. The Ukrainian people and the Parliament have done what many around the world believed was impossible.

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