Night Watch

South Korea-North Korea: The first high-level meeting between the two Koreas in seven years ended without any agreement. The North demanded that Seoul postpone the upcoming military exercises with the United States until after the two Koreas hold reunions for families separated since the Korean War later this month.

"We've become clearly aware of North Korea's intentions, and this was also an opportunity for us to clearly explain our principles," an unidentified government official said.

Comment: The only innovation in the old carrot and stick tactics is the North's demand to hold the reunions hostage to a postponement, as opposed to a cancellation, of Allied exercises. The family reunions appear destined for cancellation.

India-Russia: Update. On 7 February, an Indian Navy Mig-29, flown by an Indian Navy pilot, landed successfully on the Indian aircraft carrier, Vikramaditya, formerly known as the Admiral Gorshkov. This is the first Indian flight activity on the carrier. The Russians decommissioned the carrier in 1996.

Vikramaditya was handed over to the Indian Navy on 16 November 2013 in Russia. It arrived at the new naval base in Kanwar, south of Mumbai on 5 January.

Sea trials will take up to four months this year, according to the Indian Navy. In other words, the ship will begin patrols in 2014. A team of Russian specialists arrived onboard the ship and will stay in India for a year to make any necessary repairs.

The Indian Navy commissioned its first squadron of MiG-29K/KUB carrier-based fighters in 2013. The squadron, dubbed the "Black Panthers," comprises 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat MiG-29KUBs. Eventually, the Vikramaditya is expected to carry up to 24 MiG-29K/KUB fighter jets.

Comment: This is, and will be for some time, the largest and most powerful warship permanently based in the Indian Ocean.

Afghanistan: One commentary today opined that the US finally has turned the tables on President Karzai by deciding to wait until after the presidential elections in April to try to get a security agreement.

What almost every commentator has forgotten is that Karzai said last year that he would not sign an agreement because he was leaving office and did not want to bind his successor. He has done precisely what he said he would do.

He has been vilified because American politicians, generals and diplomats apparently did not take him seriously. The relationship has been downhill ever since.

Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.

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