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Security Brief: PACOM Week of April 10, 2022

April 10 - 13, 2022 | Issue 3

Francesca Cavazzuti, Halle Morel, PACOM Team

Hannah Norton, Editor; Demetrios Giannakaris, Senior Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff



Chinese Y-20 Plane[1]



Date: April 11, 2022

Location: China

Parties involved: Chinese Air Force; Serbian military; US government; Russian government; Ukrainian government; Kosovo government; UN; EU; NATO

The event: China stated its Air Force flew six Y-20 transport planes to Serbia, delivering arms to Serbia believed to be HQ-22 surface-to-air missiles in its largest overseas operation.[2] Serbia and China have a history of arms deals and infrastructure investments through China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).[3] Serbia has attempted to join the EU, but its continuous military deals with China and Russia inhibit its entry. Kosovo is a former province of Serbia and proclaimed its independence in 2008. China, Russia, and Serbia do not recognize Kosovo’s independence.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • This large-scale operation very likely indicates China’s growing confidence in its military capabilities. China’s developing bilateral relations with European nations will likely result in opportunities for greater military cooperation. This military cooperation will very likely increase the import of Chinese military and technology equipment to Europe, and encourage defensive information sharing between China and partnered European nations. This will almost certainly raise US and European concerns over potential Chinese interests to undermine European efforts for security cooperation.

  • The HQ-22 missiles will likely raise concerns by the NATO allies over potential Serbian military aid to Russia. If Serbia deploys the missiles to support Russia, they would likely cross over Romania, a NATO member, to reach Ukraine. This would very likely require the deployment of NATO troops to Romania and potentially expand the conflict beyond Ukrainian borders.

  • Countries like Kosovo will almost certainly perceive Serbia’s military advancements as a security threat, likely resulting in a regional security dilemma. Serbia and Kosovo will likely increase their military preparedness and monitor the shared border for threatening activity. If tensions escalate, it is likely that ethnic Serbs will protest heightened security measures implemented by Kosovo’s government. It is unlikely that full-scale conflict will break out but small-scale pre-emptive attacks along the border are likely.


Date: April 10, 2022

Location: Lay Kay Kaw, Karen State, Myanmar

Parties involved: Myanmar’s army; Myanmar’s Prime Minister Min Aung Hlaing; Karen National Union (KNU); People’s Defense Forces (PDFs); Myanmar citizens

The event: Myanmar's military launched airstrikes on the KNU, an ethnic rebel group active in the rural Karen State near the Thai border. After the army took power last year, the area became a refuge for pro-democracy supporters. A KNU spokesman said clashes occurred after the KNU attempted to push army troops out of the town of Lay Kay Kaw. He also stated the army appeared to be reinforcing the area by sending more troops.[5] The attack came after Hlaing announced that military forces would increase their efforts against domestic opposition groups operating throughout the country, like the PDFs.[6]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The arrival of more government troops almost certainly suggests the army’s intention to conduct more intense offensive operations against the KNU to rapidly defeat them. Because Karen State’s jungle can be difficult to navigate, the army will very likely increase its use of airstrikes, which will likely allow the army to target a larger area and minimize military personnel losses. Government forces will very likely target villages and towns to prevent rebel groups from seeking refuge and supplies.

  • Due to increased military personnel and frequent airstrikes, KNU forces will very likely hide in the jungle to reorganize. KNU forces will very likely retaliate by conducting guerrilla attacks on military bases and target weapons deposits. They will also likely target military roads in northern Karen State, which will likely allow the KNU to disrupt reinforcement arrivals, destabilize the army, and regain territory. The army will likely have limited capability to reorganize from these attacks, since its engagement with opposition groups in other rural regions of Myanmar likely challenges its ability to combat rebel groups effectively.


Date: April 11, 2022

Location: Pyongyang, North Korea

Parties Involved: North Korea; North Korean Foreign Minister; South Korea; Russia; UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC); UN General Assembly; US government; Japanese government

The event: North Korea's foreign minister condemned Russia’s suspension from the UNHRC, calling it an "unreasonable act" by the West to maintain political hegemony and exert political pressure. On April 7, the UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the UN body based on reports of "gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights." North Korea opposed Russia’s suspension. North Korea has conducted several missile tests this year, raising concerns by South Korea and the US that North Korea is planning to restart nuclear testing.[7] The UN and countries like the US have been imposing sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear program.[8]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Relations between Russia and North Korea will likely improve based on their mutual interest in reducing the perceived hegemonic power of the US. North Korea will very likely maintain its support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since it likely welcomes conflict challenging the US’s ability to maintain its security interests abroad, like supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty. North Korea likely hopes that if countries like Russia pressure US interests, the US will respond by retracting its position. This will very likely be advantageous to North Korea and its missile testing and nuclear programs which the US opposes.

  • In the short term, North Korea will very likely reject the possibility of negotiating with the US and South Korea, likely to challenge the US after Russia’s suspension. North Korea will very likely increase its missile testing, especially ballistic missiles, to display its military capabilities and intimidate neighboring countries. This will almost certainly lead Japan and South Korea to further militarize and request additional US military support to counter North Korea’s regional threat. North Korea will very likely limit its missile testing to the sea rather than against land targets, which likely risk a counter response from South Korea or Japan.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1]Y-20 at Airshow China 2016“ by Alert5 licensed under Creative Commons

[2] China says ‘regular military supplies’ delivered to Serbia, The Associated Press, April 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-aleksandar-vucic-belgrade-serbia-nato-054211af534ec825441577e8bde45251

[3] Serbia: China’s Open Door to the Balkans, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, January 2019, https://carnegieendowment.org/2019/01/01/serbia-china-s-open-door-to-balkans-pub-78054

[4] China Makes Semi-Secret Delivery of Missiles to Serbia, Voice of America, April 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/china-makes-semi-secret-delivery-of-missiles-to-serbia/6523269.html

[5] Myanmar army launches air strikes against rebels near Thai border, CNA, April 2022, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/myanmar-army-launches-air-strikes-against-rebels-near-thai-border-2619531

[6] Myanmar leader vows to ‘annihilate’ opponents of army rule, AP News, March 2022, https://apnews.com/article/race-and-ethnicity-myanmar-army-min-aung-hlaing-aung-san-suu-kyi-cc6402c492edbc1fbaefef5e6e9dbf21

[7] North Korea minister denounces U.N. suspending Russia from human rights body, Reuters, April 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/nkorea-minister-denounces-un-suspending-russia-human-rights-body-2022-04-11/

[8] U.S. hits NKorean officials with sanctions after missile test, The Associated Press, January 2022, https://apnews.com/article/science-europe-russia-north-korea-pyongyang-67d8f69670440b6481c4a1df382ca8c6

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