The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 54

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday, March 4th, 2024

Good morning everyone,

Let’s jump right in today.

In Europe, European countries backpedal on Macron comments, the EU continues it’s crusade against monopolies, and Azerbaijan establishes further control in Artsakh.

Over in the Middle East, the war in Gaza continues with no ceasefire, the EU refunds UNRWA, and the United States uses AI to identify targets in Yemen.

Meanwhile, in Africa, Senegal witnesses more political developments, Kenya and Haiti sign a security deal, and the DRC’s President agrees to meet with a regional rival.

In the Americas, Colombia halts arms purchases from Israel, Haitian gangs launch a massive prison break, and several Guatemalan soldiers are charged with the deaths and injuries of several protestors.

In Asia and Oceania, US Special Forces deploy to Taiwan, Japan still deals with their political-funds scandal, and South Korea and the US meet over military equipment.

All in all, it’s just another day at the office. Let's dive in:

- Joshua Paulo, Sebastien Gray, Trent Barr, & the Atlas team

Abrams Loss In Ukraine Featuring AFV Recognition

February 28th, 2024: (3 Minute Read) The recent loss of the first US-made M1A1SA Abrams tank near Berdychi, Avdiivka, adds to the growing evidence that, despite their advanced technology and design, NATO tanks are not as invulnerable as public opinion believed. 

This incident, caused by a FPV kamikaze drone operated by the UAV platoon of the Russian Central Military District’s 15th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, marks a significant moment in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. It demonstrates the evolving nature of warfare, where technological advancements and tactical innovations continually reshape battlefield dynamics.

The Abrams tank, a product of meticulous engineering by Chrysler Defense (now General Dynamics), is celebrated by US crews following Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom for its robust armour and firepower, designed with the paramount importance of crew safety in mind. Among its notable safety features are the blowout panels above the ammunition stowage. These panels are strategically designed to channel explosions upward, away from the crew compartment, in the event of a direct hit. This mechanism, further enhanced by a blast door controlled by the loader, significantly increases the likelihood of crew survival by offering a controlled escape route for explosive forces.

US tank crews adhere to an immediate action drill for such scenarios, which involves closing the hatches, traversing the turret 90 degrees to protect the power pack and fuel cells from fire, turning off the engine, and waiting for the ammunition to burn out before safely exiting.

In the wake of the attack, a thorough examination revealed that the tank’s blowout panels functioned as intended, effectively limiting the damage within the crew compartment. Nevertheless, the emergence of smoke from the turret hatches post-impact has led to speculation regarding the state of the tank at that moment. It is possible that the ammunition blast door was left open or that a secondary munition impacted the tank after the crew had safely exited, a tactic often employed to prevent enemy forces from capturing and using the equipment.

The Abrams’ destruction behind the frontline highlights not only the operational freedom of drones but also the strategic challenges in recovering such valuable assets amidst the fast-paced advances of Russian forces. 

Furthermore, the (in my opinion, largely overlooked) loss of an M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV) a few days ago to a Russian tank attack underlines the critical importance and scarcity of vehicles designed for specific roles such as mine clearance, emphasising the high stakes involved in maintaining technological and tactical superiority. 

This event serves as a poignant reminder of the inherent vulnerabilities of even the most advanced military equipment. As the first US-made Abrams tank to be destroyed in the conflict, its loss underscores the continual need for adaptation and innovation in military strategy. It reflects the harsh realities of modern warfare, where the balance between technological prowess, strategic ingenuity, and human resilience is constantly tested.

The destruction of the Abrams tank in Ukraine, while a stark reminder that offensive capabilities often outstrip defensive measures and crew survivability, does not signify a strategic loss for Ukraine. With 30 more Abrams tanks at their disposal, this incident underscores the relentless pace of technological evolution in warfare, where threats evolve quicker than the defences designed to counteract them. As NATO observes and learns from these engagements, it prompts a critical inquiry: Could Active Protection Systems (APS) have altered the fate of this tank? The system has seen widescale success in Gaza in use on the Israeli Merkava Mark 4 countering incoming projectiles. This situation highlights the ongoing need for adaptability and the rapid advancement of both offensive and defensive technologies. It serves as a call to arms for accelerating innovation, aiming to narrow the widening gap between emerging threats and the development of effective protective measures.

This article was written and researched in collaboration with AFV Recognition, an Instagram-based armored warfare expert. All credit and thanks belongs to them for their expertise lent to Atlas News. If you would like to see their other work, you can follow these links to their Twitter, Instagram, Youtube channel, Telegram, and you can check out their incredibly useful armor identification app on the Apple App Store and Google Play.


February 27th, 2024 - Britain, Germany, Poland, and other European countries are against troop deployment in Ukraine. These announcements were made after French President Emmanuel Macron said during a support conference that “there is no consensus at this stage... to send troops on the ground” and that “nothing should be excluded. We will do everything that we must so that Russia does not win.” Headlines around the world ran with the potential for NATO troops fighting for Ukraine until European, US, and NATO leaders openly denied the possibility. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to the idea of NATO members sending troops to fight in Ukraine by saying, “In that case, we would need to talk not about the probability, but about the inevitability (of a direct conflict).”

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the end of the conference. (Photo - Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)

March 4th, 2024 - The European Union has fined Apple nearly $2 billion in it’s first anti-trust lawsuit against the tech giant for favoring it’s own streaming service over rivals. Apple stopped app developers from “fully informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services outside of the app,” stated the European Commission. This led to users paying “significantly higher prices for music streaming subscriptions,” according to the Commission. The $1.8 billion fine is part of a wider crackdown by European Union officials on several major corporations.

March 3rd, 2024 - The former parliament building of the self-declared Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) in Stepanakert has reportedly been partially demolished by Azerbaijan. The demolition of the building seemingly began in February. The building formerly hosted the government of Artsakh, a region populated by Armenians but internationally recognized as Azeri territory. Artsakh had operated independently since 1991; however, this ended after an Azeri military operation in September of 2023 caused the republic to capitulate. Following this, approximately 99% of the region’s 120,000 Armenians left Artsakh for Armenia itself, and Azerbaijan has asserted full control over the region. At this time, the republic was also formally dissolved.

Middle East

February 29th, 2024 - President Biden walked back his hopefulness about a ceasefire in Gaza by March 4th as the casualty count surpasses 30,000 Gazans. Biden had announced his hopes earlier this week that a temporary ceasefire would be reached in Gaza by Monday after several weeks of negotiations in Paris between Israel, Qatar, the US, France, and Egypt aimed at bringing about a temporary ceasefire. Biden stated in an interview that his “national security adviser tells me that we’re close. We’re close. We’re not done yet” when speaking about the proximity of a ceasefire. According to the United Nations, the death toll in the Gaza Strip has now surpassed 30,000 people, with over 70,000 injured.

March 3rd, 2024 - The European Union will resume funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) since there was a halt after Israeli claims that 12 members of the agency were involved in the October 7th attack. Those accusations have been found to lack solid evidence, which is the main reason the EU has decided to begin funding the organization again. The first tranche payment of 2024 will consist of 50 million euros, with an approved funding budget of 82 million euros for the next year. Many governments, including the United States, halted funding for the UNRWA after the Israeli accusations surfaced. However, there has been much speculation about the validity of those claims.

February 29th, 2024 - Reports indicate that artificial intelligence (AI) systems were used to identify Houthi emplacements for targeting. These emplacements ranged from underground weapons storage facilities to air defense systems and radars. According to Steven Feldstein, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, AI can “aggregate bulk information and identify targets and locations”. The Houthis are a Yemen-based and Iran-backed terror group that has recently been attacking cargo ships and naval assets of the US, UK, and their allies in support of the Palestinian cause. The US has engaged in retaliatory airstrikes against the Houthis in light of their attacks on international shipping and due to the death of 3 US service members in Iraq from an attack by an Iranian-backed militia. 


March 2nd, 2024 - Kenyan President William Ruto and Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry have signed a ‘reciprocal arrangement’ in order to facilitate a Kenyan police deployment to Haiti. The need for the arrangement arose after the Nairobi High Court again struck down the Kenyan government’s deployment in January. The court stated that the deployment of national police outside the country was unconstitutional; however, it added that if a “reciprocal arrangement” was signed, it may fulfill any legal requirements. It is unclear thus far if the document signed between Haiti and Kenya will fully satisfy the needs of the court. The signing of the document took place while PM Henry was visiting Kenya. Meanwhile in Haiti, however, several of Port-au-Prince’s gangs launched a number of attacks throughout the city as a means of ‘protest’, primarily in the downtown. Ensuing clashes with police caused most of the businesses there to close, airlines to halt flights, and thousands of people to flee downtown. 

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry (back left) and Kenyan President William Ruto (back right) witness the signing of the reciprocal arrangement between the two nations in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 1st, 2024 (Photo - Kenyan State House).

March 1st, 2024 - Senegalese President Macky Sall’s proposed ‘Amnesty Bill’ has passed through the Senegalese cabinet, marking its first step towards potentially being enacted. The amnesty bill seeks to release from jail hundreds of people who were arrested during protests and other political events since 2021, including those arrested recently in February’s protests against the government's delay of the February 25th election. The amnesty bill is part of President Sall’s attempted mitigation of the political crisis that ensued after the election delay. The largest question about the amnesty bill is whether it will free opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. Sonko is one of, if not the most popular, opposition candidate in Senegal and is thought to be the largest threat to the ruling party. However, he has been in jail for several months and was barred from running in the February 25th election.

February 27th, 2024 - The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi, has agreed ‘in principle’ to meet with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. The agreement was reached during dialogue between President Tshisekedi and Angolan President Joao Lourenco, who also established the ‘Luanda Roadmap’. Tensions between Rwanda and the DRC have repeatedly threatened to boil over into war. The tensions have largely arisen from alleged Rwandan support for the M23 rebel group, one of the largest and most active armed groups within the DRC’s turbulent east. Rwandan support for the group has escalated recently, especially after the UN claimed to have spotted a Rwandan surface-to-air missile system operating within M23 territory in the North Kivu province. The missile system was spotted after it fired upon a UN observation drone. Notably, several “roadmaps” aimed at solving the crisis within the DRC have been established before, thus far to no avail.

The Americas

March 2nd, 2024 - Criminals in Haiti launched a bold attack on the National Prison in the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, on Saturday, continuing a trend of violence within the island nation following the assassination of Prime Minister Jovenel Moise in 2021, leaving President Ariel Henry to manage the nation in his stead. The siege is reported to have lasted for several hours, with a number of police officers fleeing the battleground, exhibiting the current inability of the authorities to control the escalating unrest within the country. The prison, the largest within Haiti, was thought to hold over 3,000 prisoners, according to prison records from February of last year, with many of the prison’s most recent residents now believed to be roaming free on the streets of Port-au-Prince. The siege follows calls from former police officer turned crime lord Jimmy Cherizier to overthrow Henry’s administration. The current situation in Haiti is further exemplified by an ongoing political struggle between Ariel Henry and his various political opponents who would like to wrestle control of the government from his hands. Two of Henry’s biggest threats other than the gangs consist of police chief and convicted felon Guy Philippe, and Moïse Jean-Charles, leader of the Pitit Dessalines party. Opponents to Henry have pointed to the Prime Minister’s failure to hold elections and stand down as Prime Minister as he previously promised to do so by early February.

(Photo - Ralph Tedy Erol/Reuters)

February 29th, 2024 - Colombian President Gustavo Petro rebuked the Israeli government on Friday, stating that the Colombian government would no longer purchase arms from the Middle Eastern nation after a massacre reportedly perpetrated by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) resulted in over 100 deaths and left hundreds more wounded. The President further labeled Israeli operations as a “genocide” before stating that “the world must block Netanyahu” from continuing Israel’s operations in Gaza. Those killed were reportedly waiting for food at a humanitarian aid truck operated by Israeli authorities. One Israeli authority claimed the civilians began to “approach the forces in a manner that posed a threat” while awaiting assistance, forcing Israeli forces to open fire on the crowd. The IDF has released an official response to the alleged massacre, putting blame solely on those seeking aid, claiming that the crowd “began violently pushing and even trampling other Gazans to death, looting the humanitarian supplies.”

February 28th, 2024 - Seven Guatemalan soldiers were convicted of murder and inflicting bodily injury in connection to the deaths of six Native American protestors, belonging to the Maya K'iche people, and the injuries of dozens of others in 2012, while two others, a colonel and another unranked soldier, were acquitted of the charges. The conviction was handed out on Wednesday, nearly 12 years after the protestors’ deaths. Six of the seven soldiers were convicted of inflicting bodily injury, while a single other was convicted of murder after the judge deemed it impossible to verify if the other soldiers were among those who killed the protestors. The killings are often referred to as the first state massacre since the end of the Guatemalan civil war, which tore the nation apart from 1960 to 1996. Hundreds of protestors had blocked the Pan-American Highway in protest of rising prices for electricity and the recent closure of a teacher’s college. The army claims the deaths of the protestors came after a security guard in a cement truck fired into the air in an attempt to disperse the protestors, angering the protestors and forcing military forces who responded to the protest to also fire into the air. However, protestors claim the armed forces fired directly into the group of massed protestors in a purposeful attack. Six Maya K'iche men were killed, and more than 34 other protesters were injured during the shooting.

Asia and Oceania

February 29th, 2024 - Taiwan News reported that a US special forces group would be permanently stationed in Taiwanese territory. Members of the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Group would be stationed on the Kinmen and Pescadores Islands alongside members of the Taiwanese Marine Corps’ (TMC) 101st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion. They will also work and train alongside the Taiwanese Army’s Airborne Special Service Company, specifically working on UAV operations. The Kinmen Islands are 6.2 miles from the Chinese coast. The Pescadores Islands are off the western coast of Taiwan and are around 90 miles from the coast of China. Initially, these special forces operators were deployed temporarily, until the decision was made to make the deployment permanent.

Taiwanese soldiers during a military drill in Taoyuan city, Nothern Taiwan on October 9th, 2018. (Photo - AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

February 29th, 2024 - Japanese Prime Minister (PM) Fumio Kishida apologized for actions described as “inviting suspicion and distrust in politics” due to a recent public funds scandal currently affecting the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Kishida made the comments during a televised session of the House of Representatives political ethics committee. He also said he would promise to “promote reforms to safeguard compliance in ruling party governance” by taking “a leading role”. The PM’s appearance was criticized by the opposition, which claimed Kishida failed to contribute to discovering more information on the scandal because he repeated comments he made previously. Kishida pledged to amend the political funds control law by introducing a “guilt by association” amendment. The amendment would force lawmakers to quit or bar them from participating in elections if members of their staff were convicted.

March 1st, 2024 - Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro met with senior shipbuilding industry officials in South Korea on February 27th to view their advanced shipyards. Additionally, discussions described as “very productive” were held to bring Korean investment in commercial and naval shipbuilding to the United States. Del Toro arrived in Seoul on the 25th and met with Hanwha Vice Chairman and CEO Dong Kwan Kim and HD Hyundai Vice Chairman and CEO Kisun Chung. Chung gave Del Toro a tour of the company’s Ulsan shipyard and later met with Chung and Hanwha Ocean CEO Hyek-woong Kwon on Geoje island and toured the island’s shipyard. Del Toro said of these meetings: “In each of these engagements, I brought up to the table a simple, yet profound opportunity: invest in America. I was enormously gratified by the strong interest expressed by the leaders of each of these world-class shipbuilders in establishing U.S. subsidiaries and investing in shipyards in the United States.”

To access all the benefits of an Atlas News subscription, sign in or subscribe.

Thanks for reading.

Join the fastest-growing news company in the world. Covering geopolitics, conflict, terrorism, crime, business, wall-street, underreported stories, and places in the world you've never heard of. Comments, twitter-style brief updates, long-form articles, full podcasts, and documentaries. Join 30,000+ members today on the Atlas News App.

Atlas News

What do you think of todays Atlas Newsletter?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.


If you'd like to get involved in anyway with Atlas News, please reach out to us with your experience or ideas. If you're a solid fit, we'll be in touch. – The Atlas News Team

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2022 Atlas News.1