Fdd's overnight brief

April 11, 2022

In The News


Seven weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has appointed a new top commander, Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, in a major reshuffle. He assumes oversight of the campaign amid mounting civilian deaths, widespread destruction and slow advances, with Russian forces mired in logistical problems and military blunders, according to Western officials and analysts. – Washington Post 

Russian forces bombarded several towns in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, destroying an airport and damaging several civilian targets, as the war careens toward a pivotal new phase. The shift of the war and fears of full-scale military confrontation on open terrain prompted Ukrainian officials to again call for Western alliances to step up weapons supply efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s position on the battlefield. – Washington Post 

European leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, visited Kyiv and announced the reopening of embassies in the capital Saturday in a diplomatic show of support a day after a devastating attack at a Ukrainian rail station. – Washington Post 

Ukraine and Russia poured reinforcements into eastern Ukraine this weekend, preparing for what are likely to become the war’s biggest battles as refugees continued to flee the looming Russian assault. – Wall Street Journal 

Ukrainian authorities are urging citizens in the separatist east to flee as the military battens down for a renewed assault by Russian forces to capture the region. – New York Times  

The U.S. and its European allies are imposing a widening array of economic penalties on Russia in punishment for its invasion of Ukraine, and pressure for tougher action is rising after Ukraine alleged that Russian forces committed potential war crimes against civilians. Punitive measures rolled out so far target Russia’s financial sector, major companies, President Vladimir Putin, his daughters, other government officials, members of Russia’s elite and the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline. The U.S. and European governments say more are forthcoming. – Wall Street Journal 

Hundreds of thousands of professional workers, many of them young, have left Russia since its invasion of Ukraine, accelerating an exodus of business talent and further threatening an economy targeted by Western sanctions. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia reorganized the command of its flagging offensive in Ukraine on Saturday, selecting for the mission a general accused of ordering strikes on civilian neighborhoods in Syria, as Western nations poured more weapons into the country in anticipation of a renewed Russian assault in the east. – New York Times  

Japan is stepping up its rhetoric and economic measures against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, furthering Moscow’s economic isolation and joining the United States and European nations in calling for investigations into accusations of war crimes. – New York Times  

Trucking firms in Ukraine say they are increasingly strained by wartime difficulties, especially growing fuel shortages, that threaten their ability to operate as drivers navigate roads that run close to rocket attacks, artillery shelling and airstrikes. Recent Russian missile attacks on an oil refinery and several fuel depots around the country have reduced Ukraine’s already limited diesel supplies and raised fresh challenges for truckers delivering food, medicines and cargo. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia has tapped a new Ukraine war commander to take centralized control of the next phase of battle after its costly failures in the opening campaign and carnage for Ukrainian civilians. U.S. officials don’t see one man making a difference in Moscow’s prospects. – Associated Press 

Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer will on Monday become the first European leader to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine began six weeks ago. – Financial Times 

Russia has complained to Turkey over its sale of Bayraktar TB2 armed drones to Ukraine, a high level Turkish bureaucrat said on Friday, but added the sales were by a private Turkish company and not state-to-state deals. – Reuters  

Russia lost a colonel, yet another death of a high-ranking military official roughly six weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Washington Examiner 

The U.K. imposed sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s daughters, following the same move by the U.S. and tightening the squeeze on the Russian president following the invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg  

Russia’s finance minister said the country would take legal action if it’s forced to default on its external debt, the Izvestia newspaper reported on Monday. – Business Insider  

More European Union sanctions on Russia are an option, the bloc’s top diplomat said on Monday when asked if the EU was ready to consider a Russian oil embargo in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters  

Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova confirmed on Sunday that Russia and Ukraine had carried out a prisoner exchange. – Reuters  

Sanctions and inflation are complicating and delaying the ability of the Russian Defense Ministry to purchase defense products, and of Russian defense companies to meet orders, the Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate (GUR) claimed on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post  

Moscow withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council after 93 nations, including Israel, supported a General Assembly resolution to suspend its council membership as a protest statement against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.d of Russian defense companies to meet orders, the Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate (GUR) claimed on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post  

Editorial: But Mr. Obama’s weakness toward Russia, reinforced by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is one reason Mr. Putin felt he could act with increasing aggressiveness and get away with it. No one should believe Mr. Obama’s varnished Russia history. – Wall Street Journal 

Thomas L. Friedman writes: In sum, having the Russian people produce a better leader is a necessary condition for the world to produce a new, more resilient global order to replace the post-Cold War order, which Putin has now shattered. What is also necessary, though, is that America be a model of democracy and sustainability that others want to emulate. – New York Times  

Adrian Karatnycky writes: Transferring Russian cash to Ukraine would require American leadership. The U.S., U.K., Canada and perhaps Japan are most likely to endorse such an initiative. But countries like Germany and France likely would require significant persuasion. This means that the Biden administration would need to take the first step. And if the administration proves reluctant, the idea would likely resonate among U.S. lawmakers and voters. – Wall Street Journal  

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro writes: Still, that so many leading America-firsters are parroting the Kremlin’s narrative suggests the movement has taken a dangerous turn. The reasonable goal of reducing military adventurism has regressed toward extreme isolationism, producing a self-described antiwar movement that preaches peace while callously ignoring war crimes. – Wall Street Journal 

Theodore Lapkin writes: Mounting evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine gives rise to the question of what legal punishment, if any, will be meted out against the perpetrators. But it’s unlikely that redress of any substance will come from the formal institutions of the organized international community. – New York Sun 

Janusz Bugajski writes: Western governments are failing to grasp the significance of this historic moment. Incremental measures to assist Ukraine and sanction Russia allow the aggressor to make military and economic adjustments to stay afloat. The time for deimperializing the Russian Federation is here, not through Western military intervention but by massively bolstering Ukraine’s armed forces, cutting all trade and energy links with Russia, and helping this artificial state to embroil itself in internal conflicts. – Washington Examiner  

Dennis Ross writes: It was not provocation that led Putin to invade Ukraine. It was his reading of Ukrainian and Western weakness. Others — whether China’s President Xi Jinping, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, or Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — watch, as Putin did, for signs of U.S. strength, not weakness. The former makes them careful; the latter, aggressive. – The Hill  

Douglas London writes: The United States and its allies have the means to apply significant pressure in the shadows and asymmetrically. What Washington can’t afford to do is expect that incentives might lure Putin into cooperation. […]Neither can the United States afford to coast on existing sanctions without escalating the pressure for which the Russian leader might otherwise adapt and survive if given the breathing space. For years, Putin has employed covert means to keep the West off balance, divide and conquer, stress its political fabric, and redirect its focus inward. The time has come to return the favor—and the United States has the means to do so. – Foreign Affairs 

Stephen Kotkin writes: Others will continue to debate whether great-power conflict and security dilemmas are unending. Yet the important point here is not theoretical but historical: the contours of the modern world established by World War II persisted right through the great turn of 1979 and the lesser turn of 1989–91. Whether the world has now reached another greater or lesser turning point depends in large measure on how the war in Ukraine plays out, and on whether the West squanders its rediscovery of itself or consolidates it through renewal. – Foreign Affairs 

Mark Episkopos writes: Nevertheless, regime change remains a distant prospect; in the short to medium term, Putin will continue to respond to Western sanctions and aid to Ukraine by intensifying the Russian war effort until he succeeds in imposing a military solution. – The National Interest 


Iranian lawmakers have set their conditions for any revival of the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement, including legal guarantees approved by the U.S. Congress that Washington would not quit it again, Iranian media reported on April 10. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

U.S. President Joe Biden should lift some sanctions on Iran to show his goodwill towards reviving the international nuclear agreement with Tehran, Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Sunday. – Reuters  

The United States insisted Friday on keeping the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps on its designated list of terror groups, as Washington pushes on with negotiations to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. – Agence France-Presse 

Iran said on Saturday it had imposed sanctions on 24 more Americans, including former Army Chief of Staff George Casey and former President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, as months of talks to revive a 2015 nuclear deal have stalled. – Reuters 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday Tehran would not give up its right to develop its nuclear industry for peaceful purposes, and all parties involved in talks to revive the 2015 nuclear accord should respect this. – Reuters  

Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian envoy to the Vienna talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, received a thoroughly undiplomatic dressing down from his French interlocutor on Friday over a tweet concerning Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. – Algemeiner 

US President Joe Biden shares the view that members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force are terrorists, State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter said in a press briefing on Friday. – Jerusalem Post 

A Swedish-Iranian scientist sentenced to death in Iran has reportedly been assaulted by prison officials in Tehran, a human rights group reported Saturday. – Iran International 

Several of Russia’s top state-controlled nuclear companies stand to gain billions of dollars in revenue as part of a new nuclear accord with Iran that will waive sanctions on these firms so that they can build up Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure, according to a U.S. government-authored document reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. – Washington Free Beacon 

Iran’s foreign minister said Sunday that Washington is “imposing new conditions” in the negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement. – Agence France-Presse  

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have seized a foreign boat smuggling fuel in the Gulf and arrested its 11 crew members, a senior justice official said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse  

Iran said the 2015 nuclear deal is alive but lingering in the “emergency room,” with its fate resting on a decision by the U.S. that could lift sanctions on Tehran’s economy and oil exports. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: A bipartisan coalition in Congress believes that the administration is giving Iran far too much and getting a precious nothing in return. If the old nuclear deal or some version of it is restored, expect major resistance on Capitol Hill that will only grow if Republicans take back control of Congress in November. – Washington Examiner  

Editorial: It would be better to have no deal at all and to be free to take action than to have a bad deal which allows Iran to increase its nuclear capabilities, provides it with an influx of funds that can be used to continue funding terror and restricts the action of those who try to combat this threat and protect global peace. – Jerusalem Post 

David Ignatius writes: The war in Ukraine has been dominating the headlines, for good reason. But U.S. tensions with Iran may be about to ratchet upward if the IRGC issue leads to a breakdown in the nuclear talks and an escalation in Middle East tensions. To paraphrase a saying attributed to Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky: You may not be interested in the Middle East, but the Middle East is interested in you. – Washington Post 

Eric Lob writes: It was against the backdrop of the Islamic Republic’s neglect of Africa and loss of longtime allies and top trading partners on the continent under Rouhani that Raisi likely aspired to reset Iran-Africa relations. So far this effort seems to have made limited headway, as Raisi has only met with African officials from countries of second- and third-tier commercial importance in terms of bilateral trade, namely Mozambique, Togo, and Guinea-Bissau, rather than first-tier ones like Sudan, Djibouti, and Somalia — all of which cut ties with Iran under Rouhani.- Middle East Institute  

Lahav Harkov writes: It’s unclear whether Congress would buy removing IRGC sanctions while keeping them on the Quds Force, lifting much of the political pressure on the administration. And beyond that, the door on Iran talks is not yet closed. Whether the latest on Iran and the IRGC is, in fact, a win for Bennett’s and Lapid’s tactic of talking to, rather than yelling at, the Biden administration remains to be seen. – Jerusalem Post 


All is not quiet on the Afghan front. A new claim by the Afghan National Resistance Front that terrorist groups are once again operating in Afghanistan underscores the dangers of a conflict classified as “worsening” by the Council on Foreign Relations — and with potentially critical impact on American interests. – New York Sun 

America’s top military officer conceded this week it is “possible” the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan contributed to Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine — an argument Republicans have made for weeks. – Washington Examiner  

Since coming to power in Afghanistan eight months ago, the Taliban have touted their success in repressing the Islamic State group, but the militants have expanded into neighboring Pakistan, stepping up attacks there. Analysts say IS has morphed into a borderless terrorist group, one of the deadliest in a region that has spawned many violent, radical organizations. – Associated Press 


Israel carried out airstrikes on government-held positions in Syria on Saturday afternoon, the state news agency SANA said, without reporting any casualties. – Times of Israel  

Syrian air defences confronted an “Israeli air aggression” on Saturday in the country’s central region, Syrian state media reported. – Reuters 

Women and children living in some of the hardest-to-reach camps in north-west Syria face chronic and high levels of violence and depression, with some women forced to engage in “survival sex”, a new report has revealed. – The Guardian 

Abdel Hamid al-Youssef said 25 members of his family, including his wife and infant twins, were killed when poison gas was dropped on their town in Syria in 2017, in an attack a U.N.-backed inquiry concluded was launched by the Syrian state. – Reuters 

The overcrowded camp is controlled by the autonomous Kurdish administration and lies less than 10 kilometres (six miles) from the Iraqi border. Araji called on foreign governments to repatriate their citizens from Al-Hol, and urged rapid dismantlement of the camp. – Agence France-Presse 


When Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s Soviet-born finance minister, condemned the apparent atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, this past week, he was careful not to blame Russia. – New York Times  

The current surge in terrorist attacks in Israel has been framed by Palestinian parties and militant groups as a logical consequence of the entrenchment of Israel’s 55-year occupation of the West Bank, of Israel’s control over sensitive religious sites in Jerusalem, and of the dwindling commitment from some key Arab leaders to the creation of a Palestinian state. – New York Times  

A burst of terrorist attacks on civilians and rising religious tensions in Jerusalem are testing Israel’s U.S.-backed policy of eschewing peace talks and trying instead to improve Palestinian quality of life while building deeper ties with Arab countries aligned against Iran. – Wall Street Journal 

The Israeli military says it has carried out more than 400 airstrikes in Syria and other parts of the Middle East since 2017 as part of a wide-ranging campaign targeting Iran and its allies, offering its fullest picture yet of its undeclared war with Tehran. – Wall Street Journal 

Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians, including an unarmed woman, in confrontations across Israel and the occupied West Bank on Sunday, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. It was the latest in a growing wave of violence that has broken out during the holy month of Ramadan. – Associated Press 

Once Israel launches a major pushback against Arab terror, the Western press is expected to ramp up coverage of the situation in that country. With it, sympathy in world capitals, expressed as at least 14 Israelis are killed by terrorists in less than two weeks, will almost certainly turn toward hostility. – New York Sun 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday condemned the overnight vandalism of the religious holy site of Joseph’s Tomb near the West Bank city of Nablus by Palestinian extremists, vowing to bring the perpetrators to justice. – Algemeiner  

Two Hasidim were shot in Shechem (Nablus) overnight Sunday as they tried to approach Joseph’s Tomb, which was vandalized the night before. The two claimed they were making their way to the compound in order to repair the damage from the vandalism. – Arutz Sheva 

Ziad Al-Nahala, leader of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, does not rule out the possibility of a military confrontation with Israel. – Arutz Sheva 

Four attacks with a total of 14 people killed within 15 days is already a wave of terror, in the Israeli media and psyche. But so far, the wave still defies clear description. There is no clear organizational connection between the attacks, or even a clear common motive. How it will be remembered has a lot to do with how it continues; whether it will peter out or escalate. – Haaretz 

A Palestinian woman was shot dead on Sunday by Israeli forces in Hebron, after stabbing a Border Police officer, according to Israeli authorities. – Haaretz 

Israel plans to rebuild 40 kilometers of its 470-kilometer West Bank security barrier in the northern Samaria area by replacing the wire fencing with nine-meter-high concrete blocks. – Jerusalem Post  

The government on Sunday approved the establishment of a committee to examine the removal of state benefits such as pensions and other grants from the families of citizens who’ve committed acts of terror. – Times of Israel  

Israel hopes the Biden administration’s reported decision to not remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps from the US terror blacklist could be a “dealbreaker” for Iran in talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, a senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office said Saturday. – Times of Israel  

Herb Keinon writes: That scenario is only remotely realistic if Netanyahu would either voluntarily give up his aspirations to lead the country again or be shown the door by his Likud colleagues, at which point perhaps Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party, or New Hope together with Yisrael Beytenu, might be willing to vote no confidence in the government and agree on another prime minister, and government, to lead the nation. – Jerusalem Post  

Benjamin Kerstein writes: Two decades of low-intensity conflict, missile fire and periodic mayhem have not changed this. Israelis today are, if anything, even less likely to give up on what little strategic depth they have in hopes of peace with an enemy they do not trust. Nonetheless, in the face of such an impasse, an eruption of nihilistic violence is morally reprehensible but not necessarily surprising. – New York Post 

Yossi Yehoshua writes: Police must also come up with their own new protocols for handling a terror event inside a civilian center that includes participation of special military forces. Other than their special anti-terror unit, all other police forces that were at the scene on Thursday seemed out of sorts. – Ynet 

Anna Ahronheim, Matthew Levitt, and Ghaith al-Omari write: Despite the heightened tensions and increased security presence in Israel and the West Bank over the past few weeks, Hamas has not threatened to fire rockets into Israel, nor has Palestinian Islamic Jihad threatened vengeance after some of its operatives were killed. For its part, Israel has refrained from instituting restrictions on Palestinians visiting the Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif. It is clear that neither side wants a repeat of the May 2021 military conflict. Although the next month will be very tense, the pressure will probably taper off toward the end of Ramadan. Attacks during Passover are unlikely, as is a third intifada—most Palestinians do not want it or the Israeli crackdown that would follow. – Washington Institute  

Ido Levy writes: Overall, the recent attacks are a chilling reminder that IS can pose a real terrorist threat to Israel, albeit not an existential one. The IS threat has gone unaddressed in Israel or dismissed as a negligible concern. And while the Israeli response to the immediate security threat has been strong, the fact that the attacks caught the defense establishment by surprise should be seen as a failure. The same shortcomings in properly discerning and addressing the threat are also prevalent in Israel’s inadequate management of IS detainees. – Washington Institute

Khaled Abu Toameh writes: Meanwhile, there’s no overstating the impact of the ongoing incitement against Israel on these men. Although most of the incitement is taking place on social-media platforms, it is also coming straight from the horse’s mouth: Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, the Gaza Strip, Qatar and Lebanon. – Jerusalem Post  

Arabian Peninsula

Two decades later, the third-biggest U.S. bank has again found favor in the kingdom as one of the foreign lenders helping Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman modernize its oil-heavy economy. – Wall Street Journal 

Bahrain on Friday condemned the attack that took place in Tel Aviv late on Thursday, describing it as a “terrorist operation” and offering condolences to the families of the victims and the Israeli government. – Reuters 

The Gaza Strip-based terrorist group Hamas slammed Turkey and Bahrain Friday night for condemning a terrorist attack in which a Palestinian gunman shot and killed three Israeli civilians in the heart of Tel Aviv. – Ynet 

A Saudi-led military coalition has fully reimbursed the Pentagon for one piece of America’s involvement in Yemen’s ongoing civil war, but another $17 million sum remains unpaid more than three years after the U.S. stopped some air support for the conflict. – Military Times  

The head of Yemen’s new presidential council said on Friday he would end the seven-year-long war via a peace process, in his first speech since power was delegated to the body by the Saudi-backed president this week. – Reuters 

Middle East & North Africa

Military commanders in eastern Libya said on Saturday they had suspended participation in a U.N.-backed joint military council, accusing the Tripoli-based government of failing to hand power to a new cabinet and calling for the road west to be closed. – Reuters 

Editorial: The withheld aid is only a fraction of the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. assistance to Egypt. If the Biden administration won’t be tougher, then it is up to Congress to firmly link U.S. assistance to sustained and genuine improvement on human rights. It could start with releasing political prisoners, including Mr. Abdel Fattah and others. To them, the United States must pledge: You will not be defeated. – Washington Post 

Robert Satloff writes: With the current administration, many Arabs point to multiple embarrassments. There is Iran’s practice of retaliating against Israeli attacks by targeting U.S. assets because it knows America won’t respond. […]Washington has limited its response to multiple Iranian missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, refusing to impose any direct cost on Iran for its aggression. The result is that, in the eyes of many Arabs, America’s impressive military assets throughout the Middle East are a decoy that masks a withdrawal of commitment and resolve. – Wall Street Journal 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea praised Kim Jong Un’s leadership in developing nuclear weapons, touted his political achievements, and unveiled new portraits and exhibitions to celebrate his 10 years in charge of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). – Reuters 

The man whom the president-elect of South Korea is expected to name as foreign minister wound up today a fence-mending mission to Washington dedicated to reversing the downward trend of American-Korean relations and reviving rapport on dealing with North Korea. – New York Sun 

South Korea’s President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol nominated Choo Kyung-ho to be the next finance minister as the leader assembles his economic team to battle accelerating inflation and shore up the economy. – Bloomberg  


China has accelerated an expansion of its nuclear arsenal because of a change in its assessment of the threat posed by the U.S., people with knowledge of the Chinese leadership’s thinking say, shedding new light on a buildup that is raising tension between the two countries. – Wall Street Journal 

Inflation in China picked up in March as soaring global commodity prices and lockdowns in major cities drove up prices for consumers and businesses. The overall inflationary picture in China remains far more benign than in the U.S. and other major economies, though, giving the government and central bank ample room to support the slowing economy with stimulus. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: For now at least, the invasion has awoken the West to Putin’s true nature. But the world still needs to admit that Xi is every bit as much an enemy of civilization. – New York Post 

Graham Allison and Fred Hu write: As Roosevelt put it at the signing of the peace treaty between Russia and Japan: “It’s a mighty good thing for Russia and a mighty good thing for Japan.” If Xi can take the lead to make peace in Ukraine, it would certainly be a mighty good thing for the world. – Washington Post 

Richard Holwill writes: It is also quite possible that the Chinese are nurturing a longer-term opportunity by staying close to the Russians through this crisis. The Chinese fully understand that when Putin’s war in Ukraine is over, Russia will be weakened, isolated and desperate. At that point, Putin could be motivated to lease or even sell large parts of the RFE to China. – The Hill 

Mike Gibbons writes: Finally, China is building illegal military bases in the South China Sea and is threatening to invade Taiwan. Domestically, the Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the Buddhists in Tibet face concentration camps, forced sterilization, and extermination. When Trump came into office, he was mocked for standing up to China. But he was right. He gave those of us in the business community who were concerned about China a voice, and it’s one of the reasons why I proudly served as the Ohio finance co-chair for his 2016 campaign. – Washington Examiner  

Anthony B. Kim writes: According to Washington’s latest Indo-Pacific Strategy document, “China’s coercion and aggression spans the globe, but it is most acute in the Indo-Pacific.” To achieve a more free and open region, the document points out that the U.S. will build coalitions by deepening treaty alliances and strengthening relationships with leading partners such as Taiwan, New Zealand, and Singapore. – Heritage Foundation  

Sean Durns writes: Nor are concerns about Chinese manipulation unwarranted. As Helberg highlights, “in recent years, researchers have noted instances of internet traffic being ‘rerouted’ through China, including a notable 2016 incident where communications between the United States and a Milan-based bank were transmitted to China.” The data traversing those cables, he warns, “could be compromised, shared with the government in Beijing, and then used to further Chinese state interests.” After all: There is no need to damage or destroy what you already own or can readily manipulate. – The National Interest  

South Asia

Pakistanis woke up Sunday feeling whiplashed by a political crisis that had barely been averted. While relieved at the peaceful ending to a chaotic struggle over removing their prime minister, they are also bracing for more partisan confrontation and economic free fall. – Washington Post 

President Joe Biden is set to speak with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday as he presses world leaders to take a hard line against Russia’s Ukraine invasion. – Associated Press 

Shehbaz Sharif, expected to become Pakistan’s new prime minister Monday after leading the opposition alliance that ousted Imran Khan, is a tough administrator with a penchant for quoting revolutionary poetry. – Agence France-Presse  

A Pakistani court has jailed Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed, founder of the militant group blamed by the United States and India for a deadly 2008 attack in India, for 31 years in connection with terrorism financing, court documents showed. – Reuters 

Cash-strapped Sri Lanka’s central bank hiked interest rates by a record 700 basis points Friday as police fired tear gas at hundreds of students protesting over the economic crisis. – Agence France-Presse  

Now that the Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan, and facing an economic and humanitarian crisis due to a lack of money and international isolation, Qatar is arguably their most important foreign partner. – Reuters 

Christina Goldbaum and Salman Masood write: While the public support may not be enough to win Mr. Khan’s party a significant number of seats in the coming election, he still enjoys significant support within its ranks — opening the door for his possible return to the office of prime minister in the future after the top brass with which he is at odds retires. – New York Times  


The White House’s top Asia official is preparing to travel to the Solomon Islands in a rare high-level visit that underscores alarm in Washington over the Pacific nation’s security pact with China. – Financial Times 

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison called federal elections for May 21 on Sunday, launching a come-from-behind battle to stay in power after three years rocked by floods, bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic. – Agence France-Presse  

Indonesian President Joko Widodo appeared to dismiss a plan floated by senior cabinet official to extend his time in office as thousands of university students are set to protest in Jakarta over the move along with the rising costs of basic goods. – Bloomberg  

After reports of alleged war crimes in Ukraine by Russian forces, Japan said it will follow the European Union and Group of Seven countries and ban imports of Russian coal. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the country will secure alternative sources of energy in a speedy manner, although no time frame was given. But shifting away from Russian fuel will be easier said than done for resource-poor Japan. – Bloomberg  

Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the need to exercise restraint to maintain peace in the South China Sea, Manila’s presidential office said on Saturday. – Reuters 


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on leaders of Western democracies to “follow the example of the United Kingdom” during British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday. – Washington Post 

President Emmanuel Macron will face Marine Le Pen, the French far-right leader, in the runoff of France’s presidential elections. – New York Times  

European governments, having decided last week to phase out purchases of coal from Russia, are set to begin a debate this week about a more ambitious target: weaning themselves off Russian oil. Wall Street Journal 

Polish and Ukrainian authorities have for years accused Russia of trying to provoke hostility between their neighboring nations as part of a broader effort to divide and destabilize the West — and the concerns have gained greater urgency since Russia invaded Ukraine. – Associated Press 

Russian ally Serbia took the delivery of a sophisticated Chinese anti-aircraft system in a veiled operation this weekend, amid Western concerns that an arms buildup in the Balkans at the time of the war in Ukraine could threaten the fragile peace in the region. – Associated Press 

Russia has made a “massive strategic blunder” as Finland and Sweden look poised to join NATO as early as the summer, The Times reported on Monday, citing officials. – Reuters  

The United States is committed to providing Ukraine with “the weapons it needs” to defend itself against Russia, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday as Ukraine seeks more military aid from the West. – Reuters 

Ukraine has banned all imports from Russia, one of its key trading partners before the war with annual imports valued at about $6 billion, and called on other countries to follow and impose harsher economic sanctions on Moscow. – Reuters 

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky, who has urged NATO to take stronger actions throughout Russia’s invasion, said in an interview that aired Sunday he is “no longer interested in their diplomacy.” – The Hill 

The European Union’s top diplomat is urging member states to quickly provide Kyiv with the weapons it has asked for, as Ukraine braces for Russia to step up its campaign in the country’s east, according to people familiar with weekend discussions. – Bloomberg  

Editorial: Ukraine pleads for weapons not only because it needs them to fight now, but also because it is transitioning to a prolonged war. So comes a political gut check to its supporters: Are we with it for the duration? In response, the United States and its fellow democracies must not equivocate. – Washington Post 

Editorial: Ms. Le Pen talks as if she thinks Mr. Putin should be a French ally, and she is deeply hostile to NATO. Her economics are a right-wing version of dirigiste government intervention hostile to free trade. But such politicians can prosper in times of economic insecurity and a war in Europe’s east. Mr. Macron will have to fight for a second term, and he can start be renewing his case for revitalizing the French economy. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: Britain is sending 120 armored vehicles and new antiship missiles to Ukraine. The latter could help deter a Russian attempt at a marine landing against Odessa on the Black Sea. The Biden Administration says it’s also sending more weapons, but our sources say the flow is still too slow. – Wall Street Journal 

Claire Berlinski writes: But Macron is unquestionably the least Russophile candidate in the race. If, God forbid, through the kind of accident that can happen in democracies — high abstention rates, a moment of populist petulance, a Russian-engineered last-minute surprise — one of his rivals wins the presidency, the Atlantic alliance is in deep trouble. None of his rivals can be trusted. Their enthusiasm for Putin is not a bluff and it is not a game. – Politico  

Jonathon Sweet writes: We cannot risk allowing Ukraine to falter in this war, or afterward. To begin the planning for its rebuilding after the conflict, we need to project Ukraine’s end state and list facts and assumptions. The most important assumptions are that Ukraine survives the invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky remains in power, and the Russian military departs the country voluntarily or by force. One simple fact looms large: Ukraine has been decimated. It will require a complete rebuilding of places that Russian artillery has leveled. – The Hill 

Wesley Culp writes: Russian hacking groups with a history of acting autonomously could prove to be spoilers for any future agreement reached by Moscow and Kyiv. Such groups frequently take matters into their own hands in support of what they see as the interests of the Russian government. […]Such groups often promise to attack entities associated with countries they perceive to be adversaries of Russia, and it is possible that they would feel unconstrained by any future agreement reached by Russian and Ukrainian negotiators. – The Hill 


A flurry of military coups across Africa has disrupted the U.S. strategy of enlisting local armies to counter Islamist extremists and other security threats. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States expressed concern on Friday about reports of ethnically motivated atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and called for an end to unlawful detentions based on ethnicity. – Reuters 

At least 12 soldiers and four paramilitary fighters were killed and 21 wounded in an attack on an army base in Burkina Faso’s insurgent-hit centre-north on Friday, the army said in a statement. – Reuters 

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress elected a former mayor who has been charged with corruption to a top post in one of its key regions, dealing a blow to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to clean up the party. – Bloomberg  

South Africa’s government extended a defense force mission to help combat piracy and other illicit activity in the Indian Ocean. – Bloomberg 

The Americas

Nine out of ten Mexicans voting on Sunday in an unprecedented recall election engineered by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador backed him to stay in office, underlining his domination of a polarized political agenda. – Reuters 

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Saturday that Mexico does not accept the Russian invasion of Ukraine in a video message released to coincide with a global event in support of Ukrainian victims of the conflict. – Reuters 

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) on Friday confirmed a ruling ordering Peru not to release jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori, who was on the verge of leaving prison last month after a presidential pardon was reinstated. – Reuters    

The State Department said on Sunday it was concerned about violence in El Salvador as well as recently passed legislation that criminalizes reporting on some gang activities. – The Hill  

Republican Senators Rick Scott and Mike Braun on Thursday introduced a bill that aims to prevent assistance from the federal government to go to Amnesty International. – Israel Hayom 

Editorial: The Biden administration has ruled out sending troops, instead paying lip service to finding a Haitian-led exit from the crisis. If there is such a way out — a big if — it might consist in a consensus between the Montana Accord coalition and Mr. Henry’s own forces. Forging such an agreement should be high on the Biden administration’s agenda. But there is little sign Washington is paying attention to events in the impoverished country — despite its long history of devolving into crises that then become impossible to ignore. – Washington Post 


Senior officials at the European Commission were targeted last year with spy software designed by an Israeli surveillance firm, according to two EU officials and documentation reviewed by Reuters. – Reuters  

Finland reported an attack on government websites and a suspected airspace violation by Russian aircraft just as speculation mounts that the Nordic nation will opt to apply for membership in the NATO alliance. – Bloomberg 

Microsoft says it has shut down internet infrastructure that Russian state-backed hackers used to attack the networks of organizations in Ukraine as well as government agencies and think tanks in the U.S. and European Union. – CyberScoop  


The U.S. Army has launched an effort to replace Stinger missiles with a next-generation interceptor for Short-Range Air Defense capability as the aging weapon system heads toward obsolescence, according to a solicitation recently posted to the government contracting website Sam.gov. – Defense News  

U.S. Space Command sent Congress a $74 million unfunded requirements aimed at positioning the command to better monitor and defend the space domain. – Defense News  

The Air Force Research Laboratory and L3Harris will begin integrated testing this summer of an experimental satellite with implications for a future hybrid precision, navigation and timing architecture. – Defense News  

As the Air Force gets ready for first flight of the highly classified B-21 bomber, service officials told Breaking Defense the secretive facility where it is being built has seen a rising number of incursions — suspected snoopers hoping to sneak a peak at the latest secret project. – Breaking Defense  

NATO is working on plans for a permanent military presence on its border in an effort to battle future Russian aggression, The Telegraph reported, citing NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. – Reuters