The Intelligence Review | volume 3 | issue 6 |

This volume is the product of a collaboration between the European Intelligence Academy (EIA) and the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB), a pre-professional body supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, United States. Four CIB analysts tackle some of the most pressing and timely questions confronting intelligence observers today. Topics in this issue include the current and projected state of Sino-Russian relations, as well as recent and projected developments relating to the state of Russia’s Armed Forces. There is also an essay that focuses on the current and projected state of the Sinaloa cartel, one of Mexico’s most prolific organized criminal groups, whose leader, Joaquín Guzmán (also known as el Chapo), is currently serving a life sentence in an American Supermax prison. Last but not least, the present compendium includes an analysis of the leadership prospects of Israel’s embattled Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

This volume is the product of a collaboration between the European Intelligence Academy (EIA) and the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB), a pre-professional body supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, United States. Four CIB analysts tackle some of the most pressing and timely questions confronting intelligence observers today. Topics in this issue include the current and projected state of Sino-Russian relations, as well as recent and projected developments relating to the state of Russia’s Armed Forces. There is also an essay that focuses on the current and projected state of the Sinaloa cartel, one of Mexico’s most prolific organized criminal groups, whose leader, Joaquín Guzmán (also known as el Chapo), is currently serving a life sentence in an American Supermax prison. Last but not least, the present compendium includes an analysis of the leadership prospects of Israel’s embattled Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.


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The current state of Russian-Chinese relations

The current state of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico

The Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu

The current state of the Russian Armed Forces



The current state of Russian-Chinese relations

The current state of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico

The Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu

The current state of the Russian Armed Forces







European Intelligence Academy www.euintelligenceacademy.eu

The European Intelligence Academy (EIA) was established in 2013 as an

international network of intelligence studies scholars, specialists and students,

who are dedicated to promoting research and scholarship across the European

Union (EU), as well as between the EU and other parts of the world. One

of the primary aims of the EIA network is to highlight the work of emerging

graduate and undergraduate scholars in the intelligence studies field, while

encouraging cooperation in research and scholarship between students of

intelligence. The EIA is an initiative of the Research Institute for European

and American Studies (RIEAS).

Chanticleer Intelligence Brief www.cibrief.org

The Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB) was established in 2015 as a studentled

initiative supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina

University (CCU) in Conway, South Carolina, United States. It operates as

an ancillary practicum for students in the National Security and Intelligence

Studies program who wish to cultivate and refine their ability to gather, present,

and analyze information in accordance with techniques used in the analytical

profession. The goal of the CIB is to train aspiring intelligence professionals in

the art of producing well-researched, impartial and factual analytical products.

The European Intelligence Academy

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Table of Contents

Foreword page 7

Dr. John Nomikos

Introduction page 11

Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis

The Current and Projected State of Russian-Chinese Relations page 15

Connor Lewis

The Current and Projected State of the Sinaloa Cartel page 25

Madison Scholar

Will the Israeli Government of Benjamin Netanyahu Survive in 2019? page 31

Jared Ross

The Current and Projected State of the Russian Armed Forces page 39

Alex Clark

Biographical Notes on Contributors page 47




The Research Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS)

was founded in 2006 with the aim of promoting the understanding

of international affairs. Special attention is devoted to transatlantic

relations, intelligence studies and terrorism, European integration,

international security, Balkan and Mediterranean studies, Russian

foreign policy as well as policy-making on national and international


Last year, RIEAS founded The Journal of European and American Intelligence

Studies (JEAIS), an international academic-led scholarly publication that

focuses on the field of intelligence and related areas of study and

practice —such as terrorism and counterterrorism, homeland and

international security, geopolitics, and international relations. The

JEAIS has already published two issues and has become known as an

all-inclusive academic platform that allows junior and senior scholars

and practitioners from both the public and private sectors, to share

their knowledge, ideas and approach to intelligence studies.

In 2013, RIEAS launched the European Intelligence Academy (EIA)

project in order to promote the field of intelligence studies in European

academic institutions, in cooperation with the United States. The EIA

aims to advance the intelligence profession by setting standards, building

resources, sharing knowledge within the intelligence field, and promoting

a strong intelligence culture in European Union member states. It

also promotes cross-border research and scholarship cooperation


etween intelligence scholars in the EU and scholars in other parts

of the world. Furthermore, the EIA highlights the work of emerging

postgraduate and undergraduate scholars in the intelligence studies

field and provides a forum for them to exchange ideas and pursue

relevant research. Ultimately, one of the main goals of the EIA is to

connect young scholars who focus their undergraduate and postgraduate

studies on intelligence in Europe, the United States, and the

rest of the world.

With that in mind, I salute the sixth issue of The Intelligence Review, Vol.3,

No.6, April 2019, edited by Professor Joseph Fitsanakis of Coastal

Carolina University’s Intelligence and National Security Studies program,

and published by the EIA in association with the Chanticleer

Intelligence Brief. My heartfelt congratulations go to all the young

scholars whose work has been included in this seminal publication.

Dr. John Nomikos

Director, European Intelligence Academy





Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis

Associate Professor, Intelligence and National Security Studies program,

Coastal Carolina University

Deputy Director, European Intelligence Academy

From its very conception in 2015, the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief

(CIB) has represented a radical departure from traditional models of

instruction in the intelligence and national security studies field. Its

primary mission has always been to remove inspiring intelligence analysts

from the predictability of the instructional environment, and expose

them to the irregularity and randomness of real-life intelligence work.

In the four years of its existence, the CIB has helped over 100 aspiring

intelligence analysts learn how to grapple with the unpredictability of

having to assess, evaluate and often forecast national and international

developments that are unfolding in real time.

Upon joining the CIB, analysts join ‘Sections’ —teams of other analysts

who specialize in a common geographical region, or topic. They work

collaboratively to issue measurable periodic estimates on current events

that relate to their region. Additionally, each analyst is given the task

of answering a specific question about an ongoing development that

relates to his or her area of expertise. The following is an example of

a question posed to an analyst: “will there be another Palestinian uprising


in 2019?”. Another example is, “will the Venezuelan government of Nicolás

Maduro remain in power by December of this year?”. Inevitably, attempts to

provide comprehensive answers to these questions generate sets of

interrelated sub-questions, which occupy analysts for months at a time.

Throughout that intense period, analysts are expected to brief the

entire CIB analytical team on a weekly basis, and answer challenging

questions by their instructors and peers. They must do so while remaining

faithful to the diagnostic methods and briefing conventions of the

intelligence profession —a set of skills that forms the basis of their

evaluation by the course instructor.

In some cases, analysts are asked to produce what is known as ‘current

intelligence’, namely research that focuses on immediate concerns

and threats of an ongoing nature. In other cases, they are asked to

engage in ‘estimative intelligence’ —efforts to anticipate future

developments, with various degrees of certainty. The latter is arguably

the most challenging task of an intelligence analyst, and the one that

leaves his or her analytical products most open to dispute. These tasks

are extremely challenging for the junior analyst who is called to apply

the theoretical foundations of intelligence analysis to a real-life topic

that is unfolding daily, and sometimes hourly. As can be expected,

CIB analysts are startled and stimulated in equal measure during the

initial stages of their assignments. Gradually, however, they begin to

deepen their understanding of the topic that has been assigned to

them and to see the connections between it and many of the topics

that have been assigned to other analysts. More importantly, they

start to perceive patterns of interactivity between developments that

may initially seem disconnected and unrelated, and to make sense of

developments on a progressively wider scale.

As their perceptive capacity both deepens and widens, analysts begin

to display the unmistakable signs of analytical confidence. This can

be witnessed in their daring forecasts, which they issue with

increasingly high levels of confidence. Successful forecasts by CIB

analysts have included the anticipation of Venezuela’s announcement

of its voluntary withdrawal from the Organization of American

States, several weeks before it occurred on April 26, 2017, as well as

the stated expectation that Saudi Arabia would lift its ban on women

drivers many months before it the royal decree was announced in

September of 2017. Other analysts anticipated with remarkable accuracy

the results of the first round of the 2017 presidential election in France

(The Intelligence Review, Vol. 2, No. 3), and the United States’ abandonment


of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran

nuclear deal (The Intelligence Review, Vol. 3, No. 5).

At the conclusion of each semester, every CIB analyst produces a

brief —though markedly dense— analytical product that aims to

provide an informed and accurate answer to their analytical question.

The present compendium, issue 6 of The Intelligence Review, showcases

some of the best intelligence products written by CIB analysts in the

fall 2018 academic semester. It covers timely topics, such as the

current and projected state of Sino-Russian relations, as well as recent

and projected developments relating to the state of Russia’s Armed

Forces. There is also an essay that focuses on the current and

projected state of the Sinaloa cartel, one of Mexico’s most prolific

organized criminal groups, whose leader, Joaquín Guzmán (also known

as el Chapo), is currently serving a life sentence in an American Supermax

prison. Last but not least, the present compendium includes an analysis

of the leadership prospects of Israel’s embattled Prime Minister,

Benjamin Netanyahu, which showcases some of the estimative analytical

skills discussed above. These reports represent a small sample of the

CIB’s extensive and regular output. It is presented in the hope that

readers will benefit from the precision, astuteness and analytical clarity

of these very timely reports produced by a talented team of young analysts.

Since its founding, the CIB has developed from a student-led club to a

pre-professional body that operates as an ancillary practicum for students

in Coastal Carolina University’s Intelligence and National Security

Studies program. It has launched a website (www.cibrief.org), a

television program and radio show, and the present publication,

which is the result of a transatlantic cooperation between the CIB

and the European Intelligence Academy. During this time, CIB

alumni have joined the analytical divisions of numerous intelligence,

security and law enforcement agencies in the United States, while

many others are exercising their skills in the private sector. An

increasing number of CIB analysts have combined their regional

expertise with rigorous academic research and studies abroad, in

Africa, Central America, the Middle East, Russia and Central Asia,

the Far East, and Europe. These experiences have only helped to

improve the quality of the analytical output that is exhibited in these

pages. The quality of our output has also been enhanced by the

constructive critiques of current and former members of the United

States Intelligence Community. It is with their support, as well as with

the support of Coastal Carolina University and the European Intelligence

Academy, that we hope to continue our work in the future.



The Current and Projected State of

Russian-Chinese Relations

Connor Lewis

Since the downfall of Soviet global hegemony in 1989, the Sino-Russian

rapprochement has become a geopolitical phenomenon that has both

interested and puzzled Western scholars (Wishnick 2018: 355). Both

countries are recognized as great powers with a substantial influence

on international relations. For this reason, understanding the current

and projected state of the Sino-Russian relationship is paramount in

determining the current and future state of global politics.

During the past several months, Sino-Russian military, diplomatic,

and economic cooperation has appeared to strengthen exponentially.

Both Russia and China’s presidents have lauded their countries’ growing

bilateral ties and claimed that their relationship is at a historic “high

point” (Wood 2018). In addition, Chinese and Russian relations with

the United States (US) have become increasingly strained over trade

and foreign policy. Therefore, it is estimated with moderate-to-high

confidence that Sino-Russian relations currently resemble a strong,

amicable partnership that will continue to strengthen in the future if

tensions with the US escalate.



After decades of hostility during the Cold War, tensions between Moscow

and Beijing began to thaw during the Gorbachev-Xiaoping era. In the

second half of the 1980s, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and

Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping chose to focus less on their

countries’ respective ideological differences and instead look at the

bilateral relationship with more pragmatism (Yeung and Bjelakovic

2010:246). Due in part to the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union

and the West’s pressure on China over Tiananmen Square, the two

countries normalized relations between 1989 and 1991 (Yeung and

Bjelakovic 2010:246).

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Russia and China gradually

increased their bilateral cooperation in various fields; this would

eventually lead to their landmark Treaty of Good Neighborliness and

Friendly Cooperation in 2001 (Chase and Medeiros 2018:3). Four

years later, the two countries surprised the international community

by holding their first joint military exercise (Finn 2005). Since then,

Russia and China have signed multiple bilateral agreements and have

participated in several joint military exercises. These developments

demonstrate that the Sino-Russian relationship has undergone a

gradual, positive rise that has evolved into a strategic partnership in

the 21 st century (Yujun et al. 2018).

Vostok 2018

Sino-Russian military relations appeared to reach a new level of

cooperation this past September. On September 11, 2018, Chinese

troops participated alongside the Russian armed forces in the threeweek-long

Vostok military exercise —thought to be Russia’s largest

war games since the Soviet era (BBC 2018). According to Real Clear

Defense, the exercise consisted of roughly “297,000 Russian service

members, about 36,000 pieces of equipment, and more than 1,000

aircraft, complemented by 3,200 Chinese soldiers and an unknown

number of Mongolians” (Myers 2018). Although some speculate that

the Russians may have exaggerated their troop numbers (Galeotti

2018), even reduced figures would make this joint Sino-Russian

exercise the largest to date (Zhou 2018).


Sino-Russian Diplomacy and the DPRK

A few weeks following the military exercise, Russian and Chinese

diplomats met in Moscow to discuss their support for North Korea

(DPRK) amid the country’s denuclearization negotiations with the

US (Jeong-ho 2018). The diplomats announced that they shared

support for a plan of “phased and synchronized measures” (Gehrke

2018), which would mean that the DPRK would receive gradual

sanctions relief as it takes steps in denuclearizing. This approach

directly contrasts the US position, which is to keep all sanctions in

place until after the DPRK has completely dismantled its nuclear

weapons program (Imran 2018). Despite American dissatisfaction

with the statements, Russia and China have stated that they will

continue to lend bilateral support for the DPRK throughout their

denuclearization talks with the US (Gehrke 2018).

Sino-Russian Energy and Trade Relations

In addition to military and diplomatic engagements, Sino-Russian

cooperation has recently accelerated in areas of energy and trade.

According to the Chinese General Administration of Customs

(GAC), Sino-Russian trade turnover reached $77 billion in September

and was projected to reach $100 billion by the end of December

(Guillar 2018). In January of 2019, the GAC released a statement

claiming that trade turnover between the two countries rose by nearly

30% throughout the previous year, amounting to a record $107.06

billion (Russia Today 2019b). Although this number is miniscule in

comparison to China’s trade with its other major trading partners,

including the US (Huasheng 2018), the unprecedented level of Sino-

Russian trade cooperation signaled that the two countries’ trade

relations may be healthier than expected.

Furthermore, the Russians cemented their position as China’s largest

energy supplier in 2018 through a new energy deal and the ongoing

construction of a natural-gas pipeline (Tass 2018). On November 29,

the Russian oil company Rosneft stated that it signed a one-year deal

with a state-run Chinese manufacturing company that will increase

Russian oil exports to China by roughly 48,197 barrels per day

(Griffin 2018). The Russians also projected that their construction of

the Power of Siberia —a natural gas pipeline that would transport

energy from Russia’s Far East directly to China— would be completed

by the end of the year (Pipoli 2018). Although the construction has


yet to be completed, Russia claimed in late February of 2019 that the

pipeline’s construction was 99% complete (Russia Today 2019a).

Russian officials also announced that they expect to begin exporting

natural gas to China through the pipeline beginning on December 1,

2019 (Kallanish Energy 2019).


Sino-Russian synergy comes at a time when both countries’ relations

with the US are becoming increasingly strained. Russia’s economy has

been hit hard with US sanctions, and China continues to engage in

tense trade relations with Washington over tariffs. China and the US

have also been at odds over Beijing’s territorial claims in the South

China Sea, which has increased the likelihood of a Sino-American

military confrontation in the eastern Pacific.

China’s decision to participate in Vostok, the massive Russian

military exercise, may have been made in order to send a message to

Washington: we will not hesitate to align ourselves with the Russians

in the face of American pressure. The Chinese are highly concerned

about the America’s strategic military presence in the Pacific and

likely see the proximity of American bases to their borders as a

challenge to their national interests. Moreover, the US has continually

disregarded Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea by

sailing naval vessels into disputed waters (Zhenhua 2018). The

Chinese may be signaling that they do not view the Russians as an

imminent security threat and that they are willing to align themselves

with Moscow, if necessary.

Russia and China have also showed their willingness to cooperate

diplomatically, particularly regarding the potential for denuclearization

in the Korean Peninsula. Both countries affirmed their willingness to

support the DPRK after the country’s denuclearization talks with the

US stagnated in late 2018 and again in early 2019 (US New 2018).

Russia and China likely see the stagnation as an opportunity to pursue

their foreign policy objectives, which could be to oversee the

denuclearization process and mitigate the US’ influence in the region

(Jeong-ho 2018). Sino-Russian control over the denuclearization process

could lead to the DPRK’s weapons being transferred to Russia

and/or China instead of the US and its allies. This would allow Russia

and China to tout their ability to responsibly handle tense regional

dilemmas and appear as international peace brokers. Moreover, both

Russia and China appear to be disgruntled with the US’ status as an


international watchdog and would welcome the prospect of the

American led-global order being overturned in their favor (Maçães

2019). Lastly, it is also possible that Russia and China could make it

difficult for the US to verify the degree of the DPRK’s weapons

dismantlement if they were to take over the denuclearization process.

Additionally, both Russia and China have a mutual interest in seeing

the American military presence in South Korea (ROK) diminished.

The US has kept a substantial military presence in the ROK since the

Korean War in the early 1950s, relatively close to both Russia and

China’s borders. By bilaterally supporting the DPRK during the talks,

Russia and China can pursue their goal of mitigating American influence

in the region, particularly in the ROK. Following US President Donald

Trump’s second summit in Vietnam with the DPRK’s Chairman Kim

in late February, US defense officials announced that annual joint US-

ROK military exercises would cease in the upcoming spring (Kube et

al. 2019). Although the US claims this action is solely intended to ease

US-DPRK relations (Kube et al. 2019), Russia and China may view

their bilateral cooperation with the DPRK as having brought about

beneficial results.

In terms of economics, American sanctions imposed on Moscow and

Washington’s protectionist stance against Beijing may be incentivizing

Russia and China to bolster their trading and energy relations. Since

2014, sanctions implemented on Russia as a result of their annexation

of Crimea have taken a toll on the Russian economy (Guillar 2018).

The Russians have been forced to find new energy consumers outside

of the European Union (Guillar 2018). Although Moscow has been

wary of becoming Beijing’s ‘resource appendix’ (Lubina 2017:167),

Russia’s geographic location and its vast array of natural resources

makes the country a practical Chinese energy supplier.

The Trump Administration’s tough stance on Sino-American trade

policies has also incentivized the Chinese to find alternative trading

partners (Corera 2018). Russia has agreed to fill the US’ niche in some

of these industries. For example, the Chinese have turned to Russia

as a major soybean supplier after tariffs dissuaded the country to

continue their imports from the US (Grove and Kurmanaev 2019).

Both countries have also stated that they plan to work on enhancing

their relationship in rice, pork, poultry, and fish (Medetsky and

Durisin 2018). Although ongoing trade negotiations may ease Sino-

American tensions, the likelihood that Russia and China’s bilateral

cooperation will increase strengthens as their tensions with the US rise.



The previous analysis indicates several reasons for the likely continuation

of increasing Sino-Russian bilateral cooperation. First, China may be

cooperating militarily with the Russians in order to deter what it sees

as American provocations in the South China Sea. The US has long

held a strategic military posture throughout the eastern Pacific region,

much to China’s dismay. It is likely that Chinese do no perceive the

Russians as an immediate threat, which incentivizes them to cooperate

with them militarily.

Second, Russia and China see the stagnation in the US’ denuclearization

talks with the DPRK as an opportunity to diplomatically pursue joint

foreign policy interests. The US’ decision to mitigate its military

exercises in the ROK may also signal to the Russians and Chinese

that their cooperation with the DPRK is proving fruitful. Lastly,

increasing their mutual economic cooperation allows Russia and

China to bolster their energy and trade markets without succumbing

to pressure from the US. Both countries are wary of the USdominated

world order, and their mutual economic cooperation allows

them to navigate around pressure from the US.

Although tensions with the US may not be the only factor causing

Russia and China to increase their bilateral cooperation, the present

analysis indicates that they likely are playing a major role. The

correlations indicated here suggest that American pressure may be the

primary reason behind the rise in Sino-Russian bilateral cooperation

in recent months. Therefore, it is estimated with a moderate-to-high

degree of confidence that Sino-Russian relations currently resemble

a strong partnership that will strengthen in the future if tensions with

the US continue to escalate.


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The Current and Projected State of

the Sinaloa Cartel

Madison Scholar

It can be stated with moderate confidence that the Sinaloa cartel will split

apart as a result of the conviction of Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán. Under

Guzmán’s rule, the Sinaloa cartel has become one of the most powerful

cartels in Mexico. Guzmán alone was convicted of trafficking over $14

billion worth of drugs across the US-Mexico border (Grillo 2018). During

Guzmán’s trial, witnesses disclosed new information regarding the cartel’s

inner workings that may aid law enforcement in future counter-narcotics

operations. With Guzmán in prison, the Sinaloa faces internal conflict due

to lack of leadership. We see a pattern of disloyalty to Guzmán displayed

by prior members, betraying their organization’s leader for personal gain.

Guzmán unsuccessfully pled “not guilty” on 10 separate counts including

multiple murders and assaults, money laundering, narcotics trafficking, and

instigating prison escapes (Kennedy 2017).


The Sinaloa cartel controls territory across the Pacific Coastal region of

Mexico and in its home state of Sinaloa, Mexico (US Drug Enforcement

Administration 2017:2). Additionally, it maintains more international territory

than any other Mexican cartel, particularly in the US (US Drug Enforcement

Administration 2017:2). It distributes narcotics to hubs in major US cities


including Phoenix, Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago (US Drug Enforcement

Administration 2017:2). The Sinaloa cartel was formed after a split in the

Guadalajara cartel, which resulted because of the arrest of Felix Gallardo,

its head kingpin (Sommerlad 2018). When the Guadalajara cartel split, the

Sinaloa cartel was created and eventually taken over by Joaquín ‘El Chapo’

Guzmán along with Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada Garcia, his right hand man

(Sommerlad 2018). Throughout his reign, Guzmán escaped from prison

twice. The US had requested his extradition for years, arguing that Mexican

officials did not have the capability to keep Guzmán behind bars (Feuer and

Palmer 2018). On 8 January 2016, Guzmán was arrested for the third time

after escaping Mexico’s maximum security Puente Grande prison, where he

was supposed to serve a 20-year sentence (Sommerlad 2018). He was extradited

to the US soon after Mexican officials announced that his legal appeals were

exhausted (Williams 2017). He then awaited his trial in solitary confinement

in a maximum-security prison in Manhattan, New York (Riotta 2018).

Recent Developments

Guzmán’s trial began on 13 November 2018, when he pled “not guilty” to

10 charges that covered over 30 years of criminal activity (Riotta 2018). This

included multiple accounts of murder and assault, money laundering, narcotics

trafficking, instigating prison escapes, and others (Kennedy 2017). US District

Court Judge Brian Cogan headed the trial at the Brooklyn Federal Court in

New York (Hurowitz 2018b). The US Marshals Service took extreme security

measures to ensure protection of key witnesses and the 12 jurors, even

though Guzmán’s lawyer publicly stated that his client would not kill anyone

involved in the trial (Hurowitz 2018b). As part of a deal made with Mexican

officials, the US had agreed not to seek the death penalty for the case (Williams

2017). At the end of the two and a half month-long trial in February 2019,

Guzmán was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison (Moghe and Sanchez

2019). Authorities have not revealed where he will be jailed, but sources say

that it is likely he will go to the US’s most secure super-maximum security

(supermax) prison located in Florence, Colorado (Hanna 2019).

During the trial, US government prosecutors had access to numerous key

witnesses who had been previously extradited. Over 200 hours of testimony

were recorded from the 56 witnesses who spoke at the trial (Moghe and

Sanchez 2019). Jesus Zambada García, who was arrested in 2012 for

operating drug warehouses for the Sinaloa cartel, struck a deal with federal

authorities to testify against Guzmán in exchange for a shorter sentence

(Hurowitz 2018a). Zambada recalled details of numerous murders, which

alone is a charge that could have sentenced Guzmán to life in prison

(Hurowitz 2018a). Zambada also disclosed information regarding his brother,

Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada Garcia, who may hold equal responsibility for

leadership of the cartel (Hurowitz 2018a). Zambada claims his brother bought


protection from Mexican government officials and law enforcement, which

is why he has never been arrested (Hurowitz 2018a). He explained that he

personally met with García Luna, who was Mexican President Felipe

Calderòn’s head security official, in 2005 to exchange over $3 million for

protection (Hurowitz 2018a). Allegations of bribery intensified when Alex

Cifuentes, another close associate of the Sinaloa, testified that former

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto had taken a $100 million bribe from

Guzmán (Alexander 2019) in exchange for the drug kingpin’s freedom.

Cifuentes stated that after taking the bribe, President Nieto contacted

Guzmán to inform him that he no longer had to hide from Mexican

authorities (Alexander 2019). Mexican officials denied all accusations of

bribery, but the testimony exposed a potential corruption scandal of

monumental proportions at the very top of the Mexican government

(Alexander 2019). Throughout the trial, witness testimonies brought light

to new information about the inner workings of the cartel. Zambada was

the first of many to open up to authorities and disclosed some of the most

relevant information that led to Guzmán’s prosecution.

Without Guzmán, the cartel is suffering from lack of organization. If

Guzmán had a plan for succession after his death or arrest, it has fallen

through (Agren 2017). Iván and Jesús Guzmán, Guzmán’s sons, were not

ready to take over so soon, expecting that their father would be around

longer (Agren 2017). As a result, internal conflict over who will control the

cartel is at an all-time high. In February 2017, one of Guzmán’s closest

associates, Dámaso López Núñes, attempted to kill Ismael Zambada and

two of Guzmán’s sons, who were expected to take their father’s position

(Goi 2017). Núñes was arrested and extradited to the US in May 2017. He

too testified at the trial, attempting to expose Guzmán’s wife, Emma

Coronel Aispuro, for her assistance in one of Guzmán’s prison breaks

(McCoy 2019). Núñes serves as one of many examples of a member who

violently attempted to take leadership of the cartel. Additionally, Ismael

Zambada, who is believed to currently be in control of the cartel, is known

to be suffering from diabetes (Anon. 2018). Due to his illness, it is highly

likely that Ismael Zambada’s partial reign will end soon (Anon. 2018).

Starting around the time of Guzmán’s second arrest, internal attacks and

conflict caused a spike in violence throughout Mexico, particularly in the

state of Sinaloa (Goi 2017). The 2015 Mexico Peace Index ranked the state

of Sinaloa as the third most violent state in Mexico as a direct result of cartel

conflict (Institute for Economics and Peace 2015:15).


Guzmán’s trial offered US authorities the opportunity to extract new

information from motivated members that not only reveal Guzmán’s

criminal life, but also some of the secrets of the cartel. Law enforcement can


use these new leads during future counter-narcotics missions. This pattern

of disloyalty showed us that numerous senior members are willing to

jeopardize the cartel’s secrets if it benefits them personally. We have also

seen in some cases, such as those of Jesus Zambada García and Dámaso

López Núñes, that loyalty to Guzmán and the Sinaloa cartel is quickly

diminishing. If law enforcement can continue to exploit the interests of

captured members, they may gain insight to help better-counteract the cartel.

Similarly to the Guadalajara cartel, who split up after the arrest of their

leader, the Sinaloa may face similar results without the uniting entity that

was Guzmán. The Sinaloa cartel functions similarly to a federation of allied

groups, with certain groups working in specific areas, also called factions

(Woody 2017). Guzmán often times mediated disputes and served as a

higher authority between the factions (Woody 2017). Without him, there is

nobody to prevent aggressive altercations that occur within the cartel,

resulting in violent internal conflict. This could potentially force members

to take sides and split apart.


The information revealed by the 56 witnesses in the trial gave law enforcement

an advantage and insight into the cartel’s inner workings. Additionally, unless

a new leader is established, the cartel will continue to struggle internally.

Guzmán will not be able to return to his position as mediator between the

factions because he will be serving a life sentence in a US prison. The

Guadalajara cartel is an example of what could happen to the Sinaloa and

shows us the potential effects of losing a key leader. Therefore, it can be

stated with moderate confidence that the Sinaloa cartel will split apart as a

result of the recent arrest and conviction of Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán.


References Cited

Agren, D. (2017) “Mexico After El Chapo: New Generation Fights for

Control of the Cartel”, The Guardian, 5 May , accessed

on 28 November 2018.

Alexander, H. (2019) “Mexico’s Former President Enrique Pena Nieto ‘Took

$100M Bribe From El Chapo’”, The Telegraph, 16 January , accessed on 19 February 2019.

Anonymous (2018) “As El Chapo’s Day In Court Begins, El Mayo Fights

to Control the Sinaloa Cartel”, Mexico News Daily, 5 November , accessed on

27 November 2018.

Feuer, A., and Palmer, E. (2018) “Inside El Chapo’s Vast Network: What

We Know After the Trial’s First Week”, The New York Times,18 November


accessed on 27 November 2018.

Goi, L. (2017) “Internal Cartel Conflict Could be Behind Spike in Western

Mexico Violence”, InSight Crime, 9 February ,

accessed on 27 November 2018.

Grillo, I. (2018) “Inside the Trial of Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, the World’s

Most Infamous Drug Baron”, Time, 10 May , accessed on 26 November 2018.

Hanna, J. (2019) “El Chapo is Likely Going to the Same Prison Where

Ted Kaczynski and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Are Held”, CNN, 13 February


accessed on 19 February 2019.

Hurowitz, N. (2018a) “El Chapo Trial: Witness Alleges Presidential Bribes,

Cartel Brutality”, Rolling Stone, 21 November ,

accessed on 27 November 2018.

Hurowitz, N. (2018b) “Inside El Chapo Trial Jury Selection”, Rolling Stone,

8 November , accessed on 26 November 2018.

Institute for Economics and Peace (2015) “Mexico Peace Index”, Institute

for Economics and Peace, Sydney, Australia.

Kennedy, M. (2017) “Notorious Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Pleads Not Guilty

to Federal Charges”, National Public Radio, 20 January , accessed on 27 November


McCoy, K. (2019) “Witness Implicates El Chapo’s Wife in the Alleged Drug

Lord’s Most Daring Prison Escape”, USA Today, 23 January


accessed on 19 February 2019.

Moghe, S., and Sanchez, R. (2019) “Mexican Drug Lord Joaquin ‘El

Chapo’ Guzman is Found Guilty on All Counts”, CNN, 13 February

, accessed on 19 February 2019.

Riotta, C. (2018) “El Chapo trial: Live Updates: Latest Witness in Joaquin

Guzman Case to Remain Anonymous Due to Security Fears”, The Independent,

26 November < https://www.news2.fr/2018/11/27/el-chapo-trial-liveupdates-latest-witness-in-joaquin-guzman-case-to-remain-anonymousdue-to-security-fears/>,

accessed on 26 November 2018.

Sommerlad, J. (2018) “El Chapo: Who Is the Mexican Drug Baron and

Sinaloa Cartel Kingpin and How Was He Brought to Justice?”, The

Independent, 13 November ,

accessed on 27 November 2018.

US Drug Enforcement Administration (2017) “National Drug Threat

Assessment”, United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Washington,

DC, United States.

Williams, P. (2017) “Why El Chapo’s Extradition From Mexico Surprised

US Officials”, NBC News, 21 January ,

accessed on 27 November 2018.

Woody, C. (2017) “El Chapo Guzman’s Powerful Sinaloa Cartel is Withering

While He Sits in a US Jail”, Business Insider, 3 July ,

accessed on 27 November 2018.


Will the Government of Israeli Prime

Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Survive

in 2019?

Jared Ross

Benjamin Netanyahu was first elected as Prime Minister of Israel in

1996. He served for one term before losing to Ehud Barak. After he

lost his first election as an incumbent, he served from “1999 [to] 2002

as a consultant to high tech companies and public speaker, 2002-2003

Minister of Foreign Affairs, 2003-2005 Minister of Finance, 2005-

2009 Chairman of Likud, Leader of the Opposition” (Prime

Minister’s Office n.d.). From August to December of 2018, the Prime

Minister has been dealing with bribery allegations; and on November

14, 2018, he lost his Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, over a

ceasefire agreement with Hamas. Despite these two issues,

Netanyahu was able to maintain his position as prime minister

through the end of 2018. However; Netanyahu and his coalition

government agreed to disband and call for early elections. The early

election will be held on April 9, 2019. It is estimated with moderate

to high confidence that Benjamin Netanyahu will be re-elected as

Prime Minister in 2019.


The Structure of Israel’s Government

The government of Israel is a Parliamentary Democracy. It is made

up of an Executive Branch, a Legislative Branch, and a Judiciary

Branch. “The system is based on the principle of separation of

powers, in which the executive branch (the government) is subject to

the confidence of the legislative branch (the Knesset) and the

independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by law” (Israel Ministry

of Foreign Affairs n.d.). The current President of Israel is Reuven

Rivlin; the president also holds the title as being the head of state.

The president holds a number of powers. The president has the

power to “pardon offenders and to lighten penalties by the reduction

or commutation thereof” (The Knesset n.d.). The president also has

the power to “sign every Law, other than a Law relating to its powers”

(The Knesset n.d.). In addition to these powers, the president has the

responsibilities of “opening the first meeting of the first session of a

new Knesset, receiving the credentials of new ambassadors of foreign

states, approving the appointment of civil and religious judges”

(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs n.d.). Israel also has a prime

minster, and the current one is Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime

minister is the head of the Executive Branch of the Israeli

government. The prime minister’s powers consist of “the head of the

Israeli government and chief executive of the state” (Anon. n.d.).

Under the prime minister, the Executive Branch has 26 additional

ministers who oversee the various sectors of Israel.

The Legislative Branch of Israel is called The Knesset. The Knesset

has the power to “exclusive authority to enact laws. The Knesset may

pass laws on any subject and in any matter, as long as a proposed law

does not contradict an existing basic law, and the legislative process

is carried out as required by the law” (The Knesset n.d.). The Knesset

is a unicameral house that is made up one hundred and twenty seats.

The Knesset also has a speaker who “represents the Knesset in its

contacts with external bodies, and is also in charge of the Knesset

Administration, the Knesset Secretariat and the preparation and

implementation of the Knesset's budget” (The Knesset n.d.). The

Knesset is also made up of different parties who hold different

numbers of seats. Currently, the majority party in the Knesset is the

Likud Party, which currently holds 30 seats. The second biggest party

is the Zionist Union, which controls 24 seats, and is also the main

opposition party. Altogether, there are 11 political parties with seats


in the current Knesset. The Judiciary branch is made up of different

courts. The Supreme Court of Israel holds the highest judicial powers.

According to the Knesset website, “the Supreme Court hears appeals

against the authorities of the state and other public bodies, and it has

broad discretionary authority to rule on matters in which it considers

it necessary to grant relief in the interests of justice” (The Knesset

n.d.). The Judiciary Branch is also made up of “The District Courts

of Law, the Magistrates Courts (the first instance) —and in general,

the Court of Traffic Offenses, Family Courts and Juvenile Courts,

National Labor Court, Regional Labor Courts” (Israeli Ministry of

Foreign Affairs n.d.). Israel also has religious courts. “There are

religious courts of the four main religious denominations: Jewish,

Muslim, Christian and Druze. Each religious court can only try cases

applying to members of its own religious community” (Ministry of

Foreign Affairs n.d.).

Netanyahu’s Government

Benjamin Netanyahu has been the Prime Minister of Israel since

2009. The current government is made up of a coalition of the Likud

Party, the Kulanu Party, the Habayit Hayehudi Party, the Shas Party,

the United Torah Judaism Party, and —until November 14, 2018—

the Yisrael Beiteinu Party. That was so until Avigdor Lieberman, the

head of the party within the coalition resigned as defense minister

and pulled his party out of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government.

According to reports, there were two reasons why he pulled out of

the government; the first was the agreed upon ceasefire with Hamas.

Mr. Lieberman was quoted as saying: “we are buying quiet for the

short term at the price of serious damage to national security in the

long term" (Anon. 2018a). The second reason for his resignation was

that the Israeli government allowed fuel and money into the Gaza

Strip from Qatar: “Mr. Lieberman revealed he had similarly opposed

recent decisions to allow into Gaza fuel for the territory's power plant

and $15m in cash from Qatar intended to fund the salaries of unpaid

civil servants” (Anon. 2018b). The decision by Mr. Lieberman to pull

out of the coalition proved impossible to overcome due to the slim

lead it left the government in the Knesset. In late December 2018,

Netanyahu and his coalition unanimously agreed to call for early

elections. These early elections will take place on April 9, 2019.



The two biggest threats that could cause Prime Minister Netanyahu

to lose the upcoming elections are bribery charges and his very slim

majority hold on seats in the Knesset. There are three sets of corruption

allegations against Prime Minister Netanyahu. The first corruption

investigation took place from 2014-2017 and focused on the fact that

the prime minister also oversaw the Office of Communications. Netanyahu

allegedly influenced regulators “so that Bezeq, an Israeli telecom company

owned by his friend Shaul Elovitch, benefitted financially” (Nota 2018).

The second set of allegations center of claims “that the prime minister

received unlawfully expensive gifts from friends” (Nota 2018). The third

allegation is that Netanyahu “secretly attempted to negotiate a deal

with the publisher of one of Israel’s daily newspapers in which

negative news coverage was reduced in exchange for limiting of the

distribution of a rival paper” (Nota 2018).

Prime Minister Netanyahu has denied all allegations. A further threat

to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government is the current hold on seats

in the Knesset by his coalition parties. They currently hold 61 out of

the 120 seats. If the government loses the majority of seats then the

opposition can enact Article 28 of Basic Law, which “determines that

the expression of no-confidence in the Government shall be done by

means of a resolution of the Knesset” (The Knesset n.d.). The Prime

Minister almost lost his majority in November of last year, when

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett threatened to leave the

coalition if he was not given the Defense Minister position. He

recanted after a meeting with Netanyahu and was quoted at a press

conference saying “[i]t’s better that the prime minister beats me in a

political battle than [the Hamas leader, Ismail] Haniya beats Israel”

(Holmes 2018).

The potential threat to Netanyahu’s bid to win a fourth term as Prime

Minister comes in the form of a merger of the two main opposition

parties to his Likud Party. The two parties that merged together are

Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) and the new Hosen L'Yisrael (Israel

Resilience). The two men who will be heading up the ticket, known

as the “Blue and White Ticket” are Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid.

Both of these parties can be described as center-left. The Yesh Atid

platform states that the party seeks to “fight against political

corruption, advocate for the sharing of the national burden, support

the right and responsibilities of all Israeli citizens, to bring down the


cost of living, etc.” (Yesh Atid n.d). Moreover, it states that the party

aims to “bring about a diplomatic agreement between Israel and the

Arab world” (Yesh Atid n.d.). According to the Security Doctrine

manifesto of Yesh Atid, the party aims to do this by “possessing

overwhelming strength” (Yesh Atid n.d.). Similarly; the Hosen

L’Yisrael party aims to do the same thing, which is the main reason

why the two parties merged. The agreement between the two parties

states that “the deal struck between the two party leaders means that

Gantz would be prime minister for two and a half years, with Lapid

becoming prime minister after that, if they form the next

government” (Levinson and Lis 2019). Additionally; the merger was

a response to the merging of the Jewish Home Party with the Otzma

Yehudit Party. The agreement to merge the two parties cost

Netanyahu two ministerial seats for the next coalition government,

should he win. It also appears that the Otzma Yehudit Party is not

the only party that has been absorbed by, or merged with, with the

Jewish Home. An article in The Times of Israel states that it has also

merged with the “far-right National Union” Party and is in the

process of merging with “Eli Yishai’s Yachad” Party. These mergers

are an attempt to ensure that Netanyahu has enough seats and

influence to form a new coalition, should he win the election.


Despite the corruption allegations and the slim majority hold over

Knesset seats, Prime Minister Netanyahu resisted the call for early

elections until late December 2018. The analysis seems to indicate

that he faces a potentially difficult election on April 9. However; it is

essential to point out that Netanyahu has faced worse odds in the

past and still won. The most relevant example of this is when he was

running for Prime Minister in 1996. He came back and won after

being down by 31 points due to the attacks on the Jaffa Road bus

bombings, allegedly by Hamas suicide bombers, which killed 45

people. The belief that Israel’s national security was more important

than a peace agreement with the Palestinians won over the voters and

made him prime minister. This message still resonates very strongly

with many in Israel and despite the Blue and White Ticket sharing

similar beliefs it is estimated with moderate to high confidence that

Netanyahu will win in his re-election bid on April 9, 2019, unless he

is indicted by the pending corruption allegations against him before

that date.


References Cited

Anonymous (2012) “Yesh Atid led by Yair Lapid”, , accessed on 23 February 2019.

Anonymous (2018a) “Benjamin Netanyahu Rejects Calls for Election

and Takes Defence Portfolio”, The Guardian, 18 November,


accessed on 3 December 2018.

Anonymous (2018b) “Israel Defence Minister Lieberman Resigns

Over Gaza Ceasefire”, BBC, London, 14 November, , accessed on 3 December


Anonymous (n.d.) “Israeli Politics: Prime Ministers (1948-present)”,

Jewish Virtual Library, ,

accessed on 3 December 2018.

Fulbright, A. (2019) “Netanyahu Promises Jewish Home 2 Ministries

to Join With Extremist Party”, The Times of Israel, 20 February,

, accessed on 23 February


Holmes, O. (2018) “Israeli Education Minister Vows not to Resign in

Reprieve for Netanyahu”, The Guardian, 19 November, ,

accessed on 3 December 2018

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (n.d.) “Israeli Democracy: How

Does It Work”, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Givat Ram,

Jerusalem, Israel, , accessed on 3 December 2018.

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (n.d.) “The State: Political

Structure”, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Givat Ram,

Jerusalem, Israel, , accessed on

3 December 2018.

Kirk, M. (2016) “Netanyahu’s War”, Public Broadcasting Service,

Arlington, Virginia, first broadcast on 5 January.

Levinson, C., and Lis, J. (2019) “Political Bombshell as Gantz,

Lapid Join Forces to Replace Netanyahu”, The Guardian, 21



1.6957403>, accessed on 23 February 2019.

News Corps Australia Network (2018) “Israel’s Netanyahu Says

Coalition Agrees ‘Unanimously’ to Disband Government, Hold

New Election”, ABC, 25 December, , accessed on 23 February 2019.

Nota, B. (2018) “Israeli Authorities Recommend Charges of Bribery,

Fraud for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”, ABC News, 3

December, , accessed on 3 December 2018.

Prime Minister’s Office (n.d.) “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”,

Prime Minister’s Office, Hakirya, Jerusalem, Israel, , accessed on 3 December 2018.

The Knesset (n.d.) “Basic Law: The President of the State (1964)”,

The Knesset, Givat Ram, Jerusalem, Israel, , accessed on 3 December 2018.

The Knesset (n.d.) “Currently Functioning Parliamentary Groups”,

The Knesset, Givat Ram, Jerusalem, Israel, , accessed on 3 December 2018.

The Knesset (n.d.) “Knesset Speaker’s Role”, The Knesset, Givat

Ram, Jerusalem, Israel, , accessed on 3 December 2018.

The Knesset (n.d.) “Motion of No-Confidence in the Government”,

The Knesset, Givat Ram, Jerusalem, Israel, , accessed on 3 December 2018.

The Knesset (n.d.) “Powers and Functions of the Knesset”, The

Knesset, Givat Ram, Jerusalem, Israel, , accessed on 3 December 2018.

The Knesset (n.d.) “The Supreme Court”, The Knesset, Givat Ram,

Jerusalem, Israel, , accessed on 3 December 2018.



The Current and Projected State of

the Russian Armed Forces

Alex Clark

The Russian Armed Forces have been working diligently to not be

seen as an outdated military from the Soviet era, but to be recognized

as a modern and advanced force capable of competing against any

adversary. Correspondingly, the Russian Federation has been

asserting its military bravado in conflicts around the world. Some of

these conflicts have sparked political as well as military responses by

Moscow, with some resulting in increasingly hostile relationships. As

a result, it can be asserted with moderate confidence that the Russian

government will continue to modernize and make advances in all

branches and arsenals of its Armed Forces. This includes a complete

modernization of all aspects of the Armed Forces as well as the

additions of technologically advanced weaponry to Russia’s arsenal.


The Russian Federation came about as a result of the collapse of its

predecessor, the Soviet Union, on December 25, 1991. Since that

time, Russia’s military has undergone years of neglect and no longer

projects the image of a global superpower; however, Russia’s Armed


Forces are currently in the midst of a historic overhaul (Masters

2015). Russia has been rebuilding its Armed Forces to limit its

geopolitical losses during the period of its weak status. The

modernization of Russia’s Armed Forces took a major leap forward

in 2008, when Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov

proclaimed a new stage of military reforms (US Congress 2011:1).

The envisioned evolution of the Armed Forces under Serdyukov’s

plan involved a complete restructuring and modernization of the

entire military. His series of vigorous reforms resulted in the most

radical transformation of the country’s military since the creation of

the Red Army in 1918 (Defense and Security Section 2012:3). The

reforms focused on improvements in several different areas. One

major area of focus was on transforming the military from a force

designed for protracted large-scale conventional military conflicts

into a more modern, compact, technology-driven force —a military

redesigned to secure operational aims with intensity and swiftness

(Giles 2017). A major aspect of the restructuring has involved training

troops to move and maintain in large numbers following rapid

deployment without showing signs of decreased performance over time.

Russia has shown significant progress in military drills and even more

so during ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, starting in 2014, and Syria in

2015. Russia has taken full advantage of these conflicts by conducting

training exercises in an active battlefield to maximize the troops’

exposure to operating conditions. The conflicts in Ukraine and Syria

have also served as testing grounds for a host of modern

advancements in weaponry and equipment, including electronic

warfare systems, reactive armor, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

systems and much more (Giles 2017). For several years, therefore,

Russia has continued to unveil and test new weapons and equipment

as a means of reforming its military and modernizing its Armed Forces.

Recent Developments

In October 2018, the commencement of the North Atlantic Treaty

Organization (NATO)-led military exercise Trident-Juncture in Norway,

sparked Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold a meeting with top

military and law enforcement officials to discuss Moscow’s concerns

and potential responses surrounding the exercise. President Putin stated

during the meeting that, along with unveiling previously commissioned

weaponry, Russia’s arsenal would be further modernized to ensure

protection from any potential threat (Anon. 2018). Sergei Shoigu,


Russia’s Minister of Defense, also discussed additional weapons

hardware that the Northern Fleet would be acquiring, which included

five new warships and support vessels, as well as 15 new aircraft by

the end of the year (Anon. 2018). Since that meeting, the Russian

Armed Forces have not acquired the promised new warships,

however they did receive fifty new aircraft by the end of 2018 (Anon.

2019a). Additionally, Russia also began conducting military exercises

within close proximity to the NATO drills, a move that furtherincreased


On October 20, 2018, United States President Trump announced

Washington’s intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range

Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty as a result of Russia’s alleged violation

of the terms of the Treaty. The alleged breach stems from Russia’s

newly tested missile, Novator 9M729, which has the capability to

enable Russia to launch missile strikes from a range of 500 km to

5,500 km, which is forbidden by the INF Treaty (US Congress

2018:2). Russia has denied the accusations, asserting that the Novator

missile does not violate the prohibited range, and has accused the

United States of violating the Treaty with a component of its missile

defense system. On February 2, 2019, the US and Russia finalized

their decision to withdraw from the Treaty, thus suspending all their

obligations under the INF (Anon. 2019b). The withdrawal from the

INF Treaty has amplified friction between the two rival nations and

has created the conditions for potential conflict with other nations

unassociated with the Treaty. Having abandoned the Treaty, the US

has indicated its intent to place nuclear weapons in several European

countries. On February 19, President Vladimir Putin warned the US

and Europe that Russia would be forced to create and deploy

weaponry to be used against nations that pose a direct threat to

Moscow. President Putin went on to state that Russia’s new missiles

would be pointed at the US if Washington were to expand its nuclear

missile network into Europe (Ferris-Rotman 2019).

On March 1, 2018, President Putin boasted during his state-of-thenation

address about the conventional and nuclear capabilities of

Russia’s newest hypersonic arsenal addition, the Avangard glide

missile. The first hypersonic missile to be tested was the Kinzhal

cruise missile, which was launched from an airplane and has the

potential to maneuver at a speed of Mach 5, according to the Missile

Defense Advocacy Alliance group (Maza 2018). The second missile,

the Avangard, is designed to be launched from an intercontinental


allistic missile and can operate at speeds closer to Mach 20

(Majumdar 2018). The newest missile to be successfully developed

was announced on February 20, 2019, and is called the Tsirkon. This

hypersonic missile is launched from a ship or submarine and can

travel approximately two miles per second, moving at a speed of

Mach 9 with a range of 1,000 km (Reid 2019). These highly advanced

missiles have caused concerns among US defense planners, because

the missile defense system currently in place in the US is believed to

be unable to defend against such fast and maneuverable missiles.


Even though Russia was informed and briefed about the NATO

exercise ahead of time, Moscow still expressed irritation at the close

proximity of the drills, which were held in a region of Norway that

borders Russia. This, on top of a number of military conflicts in

which Russia is involved, such as Ukraine and Syria, have caused

President Putin to make public pronouncements ensuring Russians

that the country’s Armed Forces would undergo major modernization.

Furthermore, the NATO exercise pushed forward the announcement

of the new additions to Russia’s arsenal. This development is reflective

of the seriousness of Putin’s commitment to the transformation of

the Armed Forces. The Russian president deemed it necessary to inform,

not just his country’s military leadership, but all Russians and Russia’s

adversaries, about these changes. The subsequent incorporation of

new vehicles and other equipment into the military demonstrates that

Russia has since taken steps in the direction of modernization.

The dissolution of the INF Treaty brings with it the potential of

monumental instability worldwide, by encouraging the proliferation

of nuclear weapons both in Russia and the US. In addition,

Washington’s decision to withdraw from the INF has put regions like

Europe, which are not affiliated with the Treaty, in danger of

suffering a counter-strike from Russia for being suspected by

Moscow of hosting US missiles (Astakhova and Osborn 2018). At

the same time, the termination of the INF Treaty encourages both

the modernization and advancement of the Russian Armed Forces,

by prompting them to develop more modern, technologically

advanced nuclear missiles similar to the type of missile that prompted

the initial debate on alleged INF violations.


Russia’s development and testing of multiple types of hypersonic

weaponry is at a level substantially greater than the two other main

competitors in this category, namely the US and China. Russia’s

missile innovation —for example its creation of a nuclear weapon

that travls with the unparalleled speed of Mach 20— generates a

perceived advantage over its adversaries. Russia’s advancement of

this type of weaponry is important to the overall evolution of its

Armed Forces. But, such hypersonic weapons are not easy nor cheap

to make, and will pose a challenge, especially considering Russia’s

weakened economy. The current US-led sanctions that target Russia’s

economic infrastructure, including its banking and energy sectors, are

limiting the state’s income and have a detrimental effect on the

government’s defense budget. Russia’s defense budget dropped 17

percent in 2018, making this the first time since 1998 that Russia

reduced its military spending (Kottasová 2018). This reduction in

military spending could significantly halt the testing and production

of more advanced weapons and poses challenge’s to Moscow’s

defense planning.


The Russian government has been working relentlessly to modernize

its Armed Forces through a wide array of tactics. Considering all the

recent developments mentioned above, including the ongoing

economic sanctions and decreased levels of defense spending, an

analyst would do well to shy away from issuing high-confidence

estimates. Major developments in the past year, combined with the

effects of sanctions on Russia’s economy, lead to the assertion with

moderate confidence that the Russian government will continue to

modernize its weapons arsenal and implement technological

advancements to all branches of the Armed Forces.


References Cited

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in 2018”, Defense Blog, 13 January , accessed

on 20 February 2019.

Anonymous (2018) “Russia Threatens Response to Huge NATO

Exercise, Says its New Weapons Will Be Unrivaled Anywhere”,

Military Times, 25 October ,

accessed on 1 December 2018.

Anonymous (2019b) “The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

at a Glance”, Arms Control Association, 02 February , accessed on 22

February 2019.

Astakhova, O., and Osborn, A. (2018) “Russia Will Target European

Countries if They Host US Nuclear Missiles: Putin”, Reuters, 24

October ,

accessed on 2 December 2018.

Defense and Security Section (2012) “Military Reform: Toward the

New Look of the Russian Army”, Defense and Security Section,

Moscow, Russia.

Ferris-Rotman, A. (2019) “Putin Warns New Weapons Will Point

Toward US if Missiles are Deployed in Europe”, The Washington

Post, 20 February , accessed on 21 February 2019.

Giles, K. (2017) “Assessing Russia’s Reorganized and Rearmed Military”,

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 3 May ,

accessed on 30 November 2018.

Kottasová, I. (2018) “Russian Military Spending Drops for the First

Time in 20 Years”, CNN Money, 02 May , accessed on 22 February 2019.

Majumdar, D. (2018) “We Now Know How Russia's New Avangard

Hypersonic Boost-Glide Weapon Will Launch”, The National Interest,

20 March


accessed on 2 December 2018.

Masters, J. (2015) “The Russian Military”, Council on Foreign

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Moscow Investigates Leak of Classified Information on Missile

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accessed on 1 December 2018.

Reid, D. (2019) “Putin Confirms Development of Hypersonic

Cruise Missile Called Tsirkon”, CNBC, 20 February ,

accessed on 21 February 2019.

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Time Over Past 19 Years - Report”, Russian News Agency, , accessed on 2 December 2018.

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Congress, Washington, DC, United States.




Biographical Notes on Contributors

ALEX CLARK, from Long Island, New York, is a junior Intelligence and

National Security major at Coastal Carolina University. At the conclusion

of his first semester in the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief, he was elected

to serve as the organization’s Communications Officer. He currently serves

as the CIB’s Chief Operations Officer and head of the Russia Desk. In the

fall of 2018 Alex was awarded the CIB’s Intelligence Forecast Award for

having the most successful analytical forecast record of the semester.

Alex’s research interests include the Russian language, Russian military

capabilities, and human intelligence (HUMINT). He is also a member of

the National Society of Leadership and Success.

CONNOR LEWIS, from Chantilly, Virginia, majored in Intelligence and

National Security Studies at Coastal Carolina University, from which he

graduated in December of 2018. As a member of the Chanticleer Intelligence

Brief, Connor studied the development of Sino-Russian relations and the

significance of Sino-Russian relations for the United States. In November of

2018, he was selected to present his research findings at the 5 th Annual

Chanticleer Intelligence Brief Symposium in Conway, South Carolina. He

also appeared as a guest on the fourth episode of the CIB Intelligence

Report and was awarded the program’s Intelligence Analysis Award in

December of 2018 for delivering the highest-quality oral analytical

product during the semester. Connor is currently working as a technical

production hand for various events in and around the Washington Metro Area

and is seeking employment in the National Security community.

JARED ROSS, from Pineville, North Carolina, graduated from Rock Hill

High School in 2013 and transferred to Coastal Carolina University from

York Technical College in January of 2016. He joined the Chanticleer

Intelligence Brief soon afterwards and has been a member and analyst

ever since. In addition to his Intelligence and National Security Studies

major, he is minoring in Political Science. In the Chanticleer Intelligence

Brief, he has researched the security aspects of the ongoing dispute

between the two main Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah. He has also

researched the dynamics of the national politics of Israel, as well as the

internal politics of Fatah in the West Bank. In 2018, Jared was a panelist

at the 5 th Annual Chanticleer Intelligence Brief Symposium in Conway,

South Carolina. After graduating, his goal is to go into the Navy and work

for the Office of Naval Intelligence.


MADISON SCHOLAR, from Marietta, Georgia, is a senior Intelligence and

National Security major at Coastal Carolina University. In the fall of 2018,

Madison was accepted into the University of Manchester, where she will

continue her education and pursue a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict

Resolution in the spring of 2019. In May 2018, Madison was elected to

serve as the Chief of Operations for the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief,

where she also served as the head of the America’s desk. In the same

semester, she was awarded the Regional Expert Award for her expertise

on the topic of the Sinaloa Cartel. Madison’s research interests include

illegal narcotics trafficking, Mexican cartels, and marijuana legalization

in the United States. In December 2018, she was accepted into the Dyer

Fellows program, where she pursued in depth research on the security

effects of marijuana legalization. In the same semester, she was selected

as a panelist at the 5 th annual Chanticleer Intelligence Brief Symposium,

where she spoke about her analysis on the ‘El Chapo’ trial. In January

2019, Madison also received the Intelligence Student of the Year award

from the Intelligence and National Security Studies program at Coastal

Carolina University.

JOSEPH FITSANAKIS, PhD, is Associate Professor of Politics in the

Intelligence and National Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina

University, where he teaches courses on intelligence operations,

intelligence communications, national security, intelligence analysis, and

intelligence in the Cold War, among other subjects. Before joining Coastal,

Dr. Fitsanakis founded the Security and Intelligence Studies program at

King University, where he also directed the King Institute for Security and

Intelligence Studies. He has written extensively on subjects such as

international espionage, intelligence tradecraft, counterintelligence,

wiretapping, cyber-espionage, transnational crime and intelligence reform.

He is a frequent media commentator, syndicated columnist, and senior

editor at intelNews.org, an ACI-indexed scholarly blog that is cataloged

through the United States Library of Congress.

JOHN NOMIKOS, PhD, is Director at the Research Institute for European

and American Studies (RIEAS), Chairman of the Mediterranean Council

for Intelligence Studies (MCIS), Chairman of the Greek Intelligence Studies

Association (GISA), Chairman of the European Intelligence Academy (EIA), and

Founding Editor of the Journal of Mediterranean and Balkan Intelligence

(JMBI) and the Journal of European and American Intelligence Studies. He

is Assistant Professor at Webster University (Athens Campus) and Visiting

Scholar at the John Naisbitt University in Serbia and the University of Rome

(Tre) in Italy. He was previously Adjunct Professor at the Department of

International Relations at the University of Indianapolis (Athens Campus).







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