Fdd's overnight brief

April 25, 2022

In The News


The U.S. will return an embassy presence to Ukraine and increase military support for the country, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting in Kyiv, as Russia’s war shifts gears in eastern and southern Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

The far-right party of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has begun paying a settlement of 12 million euros—equivalent to $12.94 million—to a Russian military contractor under U.S. sanctions, part of a debt restructuring that granted her party more time to repay a loan it took from a Russian bank, according to Russian and French government records. – Wall Street Journal 

During lulls in the Russian shelling that has turned much of northern Kharkiv into a landscape of eviscerated high-rises, shrapnel-littered streets and burned-out cars, Tatyana Yevtukhova left her building’s basement to light a fire in what used to be a playground. – Wall Street Journal 

Some 8,000 luxury cars destined for Russia are parked at the Port of Zeebrugge in Belgium as authorities there try to navigate a maze of sanctions slapped on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

This year, with the world reeling from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Thai soldiers hosted American troops for Cobra Gold, annual military exercises that are one of the largest shows of force in the Asia Pacific. A few months before, they participated in Shared Destiny, peacekeeping drills run by the People’s Liberation Army of China. And in 2020, the Thais hedged their bets further, signing an agreement for their cadets to receive training at a defense academy in Moscow. – New York Times 

Top American officials promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hundreds of millions of dollars in new aid during the highest-level U.S. visit to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion two months earlier, while Britain said Monday that Moscow has yet to achieve a significant breakthrough in its offensive in the eastern industrial heartland of the country. – Associated Press 

Nearly two months into the Russian-Ukraine war, the Kremlin has taken extraordinary steps to blunt an economic counteroffensive from the West. While Russia can claim some symbolic victories, the full impact of Western sanctions is starting to be felt in very real ways. – Associated Press 

Russia’s top state investigative body said on Saturday it was looking into a Russian media report alleging that sabotage experts from Britain’s SAS special forces have been deployed to western Ukraine. – Reuters 

Russia said on Saturday it plans to deploy its newly tested Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles, capable of mounting nuclear strikes against the United States, by autumn. – Reuters 

Russia’s justice ministry on Friday added opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza to a list of “foreign agents”, which means he is subject to stringent financial reporting requirements and must preface anything he publishes with a disclaimer. – Reuters 

NATO must avoid a direct military confrontation with Russia that could lead to a third world war, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with Der Spiegel when asked about Germany’s failure to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine. – Reuters 

A new report claims that France and Germany sold nearly $295 million worth of military hardware to Moscow, including missiles, bombs, and guns that are likely being used in Ukraine. – New York Sun 

Ukraine has repelled numerous Russian attacks in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine that borders Russia , according to British military intelligence. – The Hill 

A Russian missile strike on Sunday killed eight people in Odesa, including a three-month-old baby girl, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. – The Hill 

A Russian commander claimed on Friday that Moscow now wants “full control” of southern Ukraine in addition to the Donbas region in the east. – Washington Examiner 

Ukrainian officials say they have identified mass graves outside the city of Mariupol, which they say adds to mounting proof of Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians. – CNN 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has devoted considerable airtime over the past few weeks to reassuring the Russian public that sanctions hurt the West more than they hurt Russia. – CNN

A journalist and vocal critic of the Kremlin is now the subject of a criminal investigation for spreading information about Russia’s war in Ukraine, which the government claims is fake – Washington Examiner 

The Pentagon expects the war in Ukraine to be “prolonged,” spokesman John Kirby stated during Friday’s briefing. Kirby’s comments come as the Russians’ invasion in Ukraine stretches into its eighth week. – Washington Examiner 

An evacuation set to escort Ukrainian civilians out of Mariupol was disrupted when the Russian military instead took them into “occupied territory” on Saturday, a Ukrainian leader said. – Washington Examiner 

Russian leaders have issued warnings accusing the United States and Ukraine of preparing to initiate false flag attacks against the Kremlin’s military. – Washington Examiner 

Vladimir Putin has lost interest in diplomatic efforts to end his war with Ukraine and instead appears set on seizing as much territory as possible, according to three people briefed on conversations with the Russian president. – Financial Times 

Despite predictions of doom for the heavily sanctioned Russian economy, nearly two months into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, his country’s oil exports to Europe and nations such as India and Turkey have actually risen, and its financial sector is so far avoiding a serious liquidity crisis. – Foreign Policy 

Editorial: Ukraine has paid dearly to protect its homeland in a war it didn’t choose. The West’s interest is in a Ukrainian victory that pushes Russia out and lets its people decide their own destiny. Russia without Ukraine is a much less significant threat to NATO and the U.S. – Wall Street Journal 

Ross Douthat writes: The situation in Ukraine is its own distinctive case. It is very unlikely that Putin will fall from power; it would be insane for us to try to force regime change. At the same time, there is a military on the ground that’s proven capable of countering him, with international support but without direct U.S. intervention. And this good news, however provisional, seems like what our president should be stressing — the real situation, not the escalatory hypothetical. – New York Times 

Ilya Yablokov writes: From battles of words on talk shows and online, conspiracy theories have effectively turned into a weapon that kills real people. That’s scary enough. But the most frightening thing is that Mr. Putin, waging war without restraint, seems to believe them. – New York Times 

Mark R. Whittington writes: Russia lost the moon race in 1969 because it lacked the wherewithal to win. It is losing the moon in 2022 because of horrible decisions made by Putin. Russia will be a generation recovering from the blunder if it does so at all. – The Hill 

Rebekah Koffler writes: Now finding himself cornered in an unwinnable position, Putin is invoking the concepts of “total war” and an “existential threat” to keep the US and NATO out of the conflict. Meanwhile, the May 9 anniversary of Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany approaches, a date that is driving Putin to launch an even greater offensive to declare victory in Ukraine. All the while, he knows that Russia’s Dead Hand is what scares the West more than anything. – New York Post 

Jonah Goldberg writes: None of this is to say we should send our own troops into Ukraine — not that we wouldn’t be morally justified. Igniting a direct war between two nuclear superpowers is a bad idea. Besides, Ukraine isn’t asking for that. It is asking for the modern equivalent of the arsenal of democracy, and we should give it to them, fast. Because Putin is now doubling down on his crimes in eastern Ukraine just to save face. It’s not in our interest that he succeed. And, as the bad guy, he deserves to lose. – New York Post 

Gideon Rose writes: As the fighting grinds on, however, the war is looking more familiar and increasingly resembles many other conflicts over the last seven decades. This suggests that general, structural features of the situation are imposing themselves on the belligerents, guiding their choices into surprisingly well-worn grooves. Ukraine, in short, is following the pattern of limited war in the nuclear age, echoing a script written in Korea and copied many times since. […]And even the new phase is playing by the same old rules—with significant implications for the remainder of the war and beyond. – Foreign Affairs 

Walter Clemens writes: By the logic of Nuremberg, President Putin should be arrested if he enters the jurisdiction of any UN member and brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or special tribunal to adjudicate war crimes in Ukraine. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Jeremy Mankoff writes: Despite the unimpressive performance of its military thus far and the potentially crushing impact of the sanctions it now faces, Russia could still emerge victorious on the battlefield—but only at a very high cost. Its odds of maintaining a long-term protectorate appear to be plummeting with each day Ukraine holds out. The ultimate outcome of the conflict will depend on the West’s response and, above all, on Ukrainians’ willingness to fight for a nation Putin believes does not and should not exist. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Caleb Larson writes: Though the Marine Corps and Navy would like to focus exclusively on the threat posed by a rising China, Russia will pose a serious and credible threat for a long time yet to come. – The National Interest 


Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on Iran to release a U.S. citizen he said had been held for years as a “political pawn.”Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

A fifth round of talks has been held between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iranian media reported.Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran’s parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf is facing calls to resign after members of his family were reported to have gone on a recent shopping spree in Turkey. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have seized a foreign vessel in the Gulf for smuggling 200,000 litres of fuel, a senior Guards commander told the semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday. – Reuters 

Gunmen opened fire on a car carrying a senior Revolutionary Guards commander in restive southeastern Iran early on Saturday, killing a bodyguard, Iranian state media reported. – Reuters 

Tehran has raised its military budget for the first time in four years, a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found. Iran raised its military budget to $24.6 billion in 2021, an increase of 11%, the report said, despite ongoing economic problems in the country because of years of sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic by the United States. – Jerusalem Post 

Iran won’t back down from its assassination campaign targeting former U.S. officials over the killing of General Qasem Soleimani, a top Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander said. – National Review 

Iranian rowing Asian gold medalist Bahman Nasiri has left the national team as he emigrated to the Republic of Azerbaijan. The head of Iran’s canoeing and rowing federation, Alireza Sohrabian, said on Saturday that Nasiri wanted to be employed by the federation, but it didn’t happen, making him leave the team. – Iran International 

Michael Rubin writes: Iranians are capable of democracy; they almost achieved it in the first decade of the 20th century. It is time the White House stops throwing obstacles in their way. – Washington Examiner 


A four-day blitz of terrorist bombings across Afghanistan has left the country reeling after months of relative calm, raising fears that the Taliban — which spent years fighting the Afghan state and its U.S. backers — will be unable to maintain the peace. – Washington Post 

Afghanistan’s acting defence minister said on Sunday that the Taliban administration would not tolerate “invasions” from its neighours after protesting against airstrikes it says were conducted by neighbouring Pakistan. – Reuters 

The Taliban announced on Thursday a ban on the popular video app over allegations that it was leading Afghan youth “astray.” – Washington Examiner 


Turkey has banned Russia’s armed forces from using its airspace to reach Syria in a bid to increase pressure on Vladimir Putin as Ankara tries to revive peace talks with Ukraine. – Financial Times 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Ankara before heading to Moscow next week to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and then to Ukraine for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a statement said. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday he discussed with Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan the need for the immediate evacuation of civilians from the mostly Russian-occupied port city of Mariupol. – Reuters 


Israel on Sunday closed its civilian border crossing with the Gaza Strip, preventing thousands of Gazans from getting to work in Israel, in an effort to pressure Gaza’s ruler Hamas to halt rocket attacks against southern Israel. – Wall Street Journal 

Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday rejected a request to reopen an investigation into the deaths of four Palestinian children who were killed by an Israeli airstrike while playing on the beach in the Gaza Strip during a 2014 war. – Associated Press 

U.S. President Joe Biden will visit Israel in the coming months following an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Bennett’s office and the White House said on Sunday. – Reuters 

As Jerusalem saw escalating clashes last week between Palestinian rioters and Israeli police, Palestinian Authority TV aired an imam’s call for the “extermination” of Jews, an Israeli media watchdog said Sunday. – Algemeiner 

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid reiterated Sunday that Israel has no intention to divide Jerusalem’s Temple Mount between religions or permit non-Muslims to pray there, as violence continued to erupt this week around the holy site. – Algemeiner 

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) defended Israeli police for their recent actions to break up riots on the Temple Mount, and to remove rioters from the Al Aqsa Mosque. – Arutz Sheva 

Almost half of the Israeli public (47%) is worried that another Holocaust will befall the Jewish people, according to a poll conducted by the “Pnima” movement on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Wednesday, April 27. – Israel Hayom 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency might allow other UN agencies to help service Palestinian refugees for the first time in its 73-year history, in a move that has angered the Palestinians who fear that it’s the first step in UNRWA’s dissolution. – Jerusalem Post 

Hamas is responsible for the rocket attack launched from Gaza onto southern Israel last week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post 

Michael Oren writes: Can Israel do more? Yes and I believe it should. Along with the helmets and flak jackets it has just approved to send to Ukraine, Israel should help strengthen its cyber defenses. The Knesset should enact laws empowering the government to officially impose sanctions. Such measures would reinforce Israel’s Jewish and democratic identity. It would also strengthen Israel’s diplomatic and moral hand as it grapples with the threat of the Biden administration renewing a nuclear deal with Iran. – Wall Street Journal 

Shmuel Lederman writes: Israel’s prospects of recovering its image among Democrats, including Jewish youth, depend to a significant extent on its ability to regain its moral stature among these audiences. Changing quite blatantly immoral positions on issues unrelated to the Palestinian matter – from selling military equipment to ruthless regimes to its refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide – might help in this task. In the long run this might prove to be more important than the most profitable collaboration with Turkey. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This doesn’t mean it’s Israel’s fault. Israeli security forces are responding. But the fact that Israel doesn’t seem to prepare better for these incidents before the onset of the holidays shows how every year the wheel is reinvented in Jerusalem. Groups like Hamas benefit from this short-sighted reaction to each incident. The question is whether the rest of Ramadan will see more clashes, or whether both sides can learn from past ones. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This is an example of how powerful lobbies of authoritarian regimes such as Ankara are able to overshadow not only history but modern-day, human-rights issues. With the conflict in Ukraine, we see once again how massacres of civilians can go unpunished and also how larger foreign-policy issues can get in the way of truly caring for human rights and historical fact. – Jerusalem Post  

Herb Keinon writes: Lone-wolf attackers on the streets? Flood the streets with police and plug holes in the security fence with soldiers. Rioting on the Temple Mount? Act swiftly and without causing fatalities to remove the rioters, and then allow the Ramadan prayers to continue. Rockets from Gaza? Respond to each rocket, if not by striking back militarily, then by removing the carrot of permits for Palestinian workers. – Jerusalem Post  

Steve Postal writes: Until the PA ceases its support for terrorism toward and defamation of Israel, the PA cannot be a productive peace partner. Only when the PA completely ends its hostility to Israel can the Palestinians hope to have durable normalization with Israel. – New York Sun 


The IDF fired dozens of artillery shells toward sites in southern Lebanon after a rocket was fired into northern Israel near the town of Shlomi. – Jerusalem Post 

Survivors of a doomed migrant boat blamed the Lebanese navy on Sunday for sinking it, saying a naval vessel rammed the packed ship while trying to force it back to shore. – Associated Press 

Toni Nissi writes: Those of us who labored long and hard to bring this event to fruition are bracing for a response by those in the country who do not place the interests of the Lebanese people first. We feel emboldened, however, by the expressions of support we have received from both sides of the aisle in the U.S. – Wall Street Journal 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Hezbollah also slammed the US and Saudi embassies in Lebanon for “their interference in the Lebanese elections.” As such, its goal now is to increase tensions with Israel and then to use this to increase its role in the elections. Hezbollah wants to portray opposition to it in Lebanon as tools of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US. – Jerusalem Post 

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi princes have sold more than $600 million worth of real estate, yachts and artwork in the U.S. and Europe since the kingdom’s de facto ruler tightened the purse strings of the ultrawealthy ruling family. – Wall Street Journal 

President Joe Biden intends to nominate career diplomat Michael Ratney to be U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the White House said on Friday, amid strained relations between Washington and its traditional Gulf allies. – Reuters 

Oman facilitated the release of 14 foreigners, including a British national, who were held in Yemen and transferred them from the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital Sanaa to Muscat on Sunday, Oman’s foreign ministry said. – Reuters 

Google investors are poised to raise hackles over a controversial Saudi Arabia project at the search giant’s shareholder meeting, warning that the company risks serving up “sensitive data on a silver platter to Saudi’s top hitmen.” – New York Post 

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisia’s president seized control of the country’s election commission on Friday, saying he would replace most of its members in a move that will entrench his one-man rule and cast doubt on electoral integrity. – Reuters 

Jordan’s King Abdullah headed to Cairo on Sunday for trilateral talks with Egyptian and Emirati leaders that were not previously scheduled, the royal palace said. – Reuters 

Honeywell International (HON.O) seeks to invest about $200 million in petrochemicals and the production of green fuels for aircraft in Egypt, the Ministry of Petroleum has quoted Honeywell’s country president for Egypt as saying. – Reuters 

Editorial: It is very suspicious and must be thoroughly investigated. Egypt holds thousands of political prisoners and shows utter disregard for basic human rights while accepting more than $1 billion a year in aid from the United States. Only a fraction of the aid has been withheld because of the rights abuses. More aid should be held back until Egypt ends its systemic brutality. – Washington Post 

Daniel Byman writes: The question is not about a choice between the terrorism threat and the great power competition challenge. Rather, it is how to use the weapons America has honed and wielded for two decades more effectively, recognizing that the challenge differs and the response must change as well in this new era. – The National Interest 

Korean Peninsula

Mr. Yoon, a prosecutor who entered politics only last year, won last month’s election for Korea’s main conservative party by a razor thin margin. He takes office May 10 for a five-year term at a time of significant friction between Washington, a longtime military ally, and Beijing, the country’s largest trading partner. He will need to navigate the security fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and contend with a North Korea that has embarked on a new round of weapons tests. – Wall Street Journal 

There’s a saying in South Korea that “you only see what you know,” which has particular resonance for defectors from North Korea who have moved from one of the most isolated countries on earth to one of the most connected and feel like they “know” very little. – Washington Post 

North Korea has yet to hold a military parade after showing signs of preparing for one to mark the Monday anniversary of the founding of its army, Yonhap News Agency said, delaying an event where it could showcase weapons to threaten the U.S. and its allies. – Bloomberg 

North Korean state media on Sunday trumpeted how the country has gained an “invincible power that the world cannot ignore and no one can touch” under Kim Jong Un, an apparent reference to its nuclear weapons, as Pyongyang prepares for a military holiday. – Reuters 

South Korea’s outgoing President Moon Jae-in has asked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to stay committed to inter-Korean cooperation, saying restarting dialogue was now up to the incoming government of Yoon Suk-yeol, Moon’s spokeswoman said on Friday. – Reuters 


U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday said it was worth considering taking steps to lower U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods given the “desirable effects” such a move could have on lowering U.S. inflation, which has hit 40-year highs this year. – Reuters 

Overseas investors extended their selling of Chinese shares into April, after dumping them in the previous month, on mounting worries about the impact of prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns, growth and the fallout of the Ukraine-Russia war. – Reuters 

China’s securities watchdog is holding regular talks with U.S. regulators over audit cooperation and expects a deal soon, a Chinese regulatory official said on Thursday about a dispute that could lead to delistings of U.S.-listed Chinese firms. – Reuters 

FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Sunday that the current scale of espionage and cybersecurity threats from China were “unprecedented in history.” – The Hill 

Chinese president Xi Jinping implicitly criticized the United States’ approach to economic sanctions against Russia on Thursday, claiming at a high-profile international conference that he opposed “the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction.” – The National Interest 

Russia’s RBC news outlet reported earlier this week that UnionPay, China’s largest payment processing service, ended its operations in Russia over concerns that continuing to work in the country could lead it to run afoul of Western sanctions. For Russia, this cuts off a potential alternative to U.S.-based payment processors, such as Visa and Mastercard, that withdrew from the country in the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – The National Interest 

Editorial: The secrecy is a trademark of how China’s party-state has dealt with many disasters, from train wrecks to baby food contamination. The SARS outbreak that began in 2002 was characterized by a coverup and government bungling. Supposedly, China had fixed the problems with a real-time direct infectious-disease reporting system. But in Wuhan, it failed. […]The scientists, they concluded, “seem to have been collectively silenced.” – Washington Post 

David Von Drehle writes: Contrary to Xi’s implications, no interference by a bloc of Western nations was needed to stir the desire of Ukrainians for freedom. NATO and the European Union recruit their members by offering prosperity and human rights, not mass graves and starvation. The attraction for bullied and brutalized people is obvious. If that constitutes a “Cold War mentality,” so be it. Free nations have no choice but to resist Orwellian tyrannies that call murder “peace” and oppression “security.” – Washington Post 

Steve Kelman writes: So, I suggest that in taking on authoritarianism we return to yet another retro concept from the 1950s; the “free world.” It is fascinating to me that a Chinese student friend who doesn’t like the Communist Party often uses the phrase “free world” in messages he sends me. I think this is an idea with wider resonance and appeal. We should be talking about it more. – The Hill 

Andrew Latham writes: Indeed, the changes stemming from recent developments in North Korea and China are likely to have far more transformative effects on world politics than whatever the geopolitical fallout from the Russo-Ukraine war turns out to be. Does anyone doubt this? If yes, they simply aren’t paying attention to the world beyond the eastern marches of the Europe Union. – The Hill 

South Asia

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. would expedite defense exports to India and provide expertise to help the country build its own equipment, as the West seeks to wean the South Asian nation off its reliance on Russian military hardware. – Wall Street Journal 

The International Monetary Fund said on Saturday it held “fruitful technical discussions” with Sri Lanka on its loan request, while the World Bank said it was preparing an emergency aid package for the crisis-stricken country. – Reuters 

Pakistan’s National Security Council, a body of top civil and military leaders, on Friday rejected ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s accusations that United States had conspired to topple his government through a parliamentary vote of confidence. – Reuters 

India wants to be strong friends with the “liberal world” but it needs Russia’s assistance to defend its borders, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told Bloomberg in an interview in Washington. – Reuters 

The EU is preparing to announce the creation of a new trade and technology council with India as part of efforts to deepen their relationship and respond to the rising economic power of China. – Financial Times 

Sri Lanka’s beleaguered prime minister came under increased pressure to step down on Saturday, as a cabinet minister and other senior party members backed street protests calling for resignations over a worsening economic crisis. – Agence France-Presse 


Japan is sending a vice foreign minister to the Solomon Islands on Monday amid worry over a recent security agreement that the South Pacific nation struck with China that could increase Beijing’s military influence in the region. – Associated Press 

Japan and South Korea look set to try to revive a relationship that has hit new depths in recent years, with President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol offering an olive branch to Tokyo weeks before U.S. President Joe Biden is likely to visit both countries. – Bloomberg 

A senior-level U.S. delegation met the Solomon Islands’ leader on Friday and warned that Washington would have “significant concerns and respond accordingly” to any steps to establish a permanent Chinese military presence in the Pacific island nation. – Reuters 

The Vatican and Vietnam have agreed to upgrade their relations, which have been slowly improving since a total break after the communist victory in the Vietnam War nearly half a century ago. – Reuters 

Australia’s government on Sunday defended its response to China’s courtship of nearby Solomon Islands which culminated in a security pact, ahead of a general election next month where it had hoped to highlight its national security credentials. – Reuters 

Japan’s foreign minister promised his country would bolster its military to help the United States maintain regional security during a visit on Saturday to a U.S. aircraft carrier patrolling Asian waters. – Reuters 

Japan and Russia struck a deal on Tokyo’s fishing quota to catch salmon and trout born in Russian rivers, Japan’s fisheries agency said on Saturday, despite worsening ties over the crisis in Ukraine. – Reuters 

Taiwan is developing missiles that can attack enemy air bases and bring down cruise missiles, and drones that can target their firing locations, according to a report by the military-owned body making the weapons. – Reuters 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a press conference on Saturday he is hoping Asian countries will “change their attitude” towards Ukraine as European countries have done. – The Hill 

Weifeng Zhong writes: Biden is set to host a summit next month with leaders of Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam included. Washington would be remiss not to consider bringing relations with Hanoi to the next level. – Washington Examiner 

Huong Le Thu writes: Amid deepening global divisions over the war in Ukraine and its consequences, Southeast Asia faces trying times. Not only is ASEAN a major representative of smaller- and medium-sized countries, but its members hold significant convening power in other multilateral forums this year. This spotlight will make them appreciate an understanding and subtle partner and interlocutor even more. Japan appears to be such a partner. And while Tokyo’s efforts alone, or in coordination with partners and allies, will not fix the issues that multilateral institutions face, they might prevent further fracturing. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Sunday, an adviser to the Ukrainian president said, in the highest-level visit by U.S. officials to Ukraine since the start of the war. – Wall Street Journal 

French President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected by a wide margin, according to projections based on early ballot counts, overcoming deep divisions among voters worried about inflation, the war in Ukraine and the impact of immigration on France’s national identity. – Wall Street Journal 

Those startups, including Seattle-based BRINC Drones Inc. and Silicon Valley’s Skydio Inc., are rushing to fill a gap in Ukraine after government officials called out products supplied by Chinese company SZ DJI Technology Co., the world’s largest commercial drone maker, as a security risk for Ukraine’s military and civilians. – Wall Street Journal 

Top world financial officials gathered in Washington this past week confronted a grim picture of the growing economic costs of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the challenges they face to help pay Ukraine’s short- and long-term bills. – Wall Street Journal 

President Volodymyr Zelensky, bolstered by an influx of heavy weapons from Western nations, expressed increasing confidence on Saturday that Ukraine was prepared to defeat Russian forces in what is expected to be a long and brutal battle for control of the eastern industrial heartland. – New York Times 

On the evening of Dec. 9, 2005, 17 days after Gerhard Schröder left office as chancellor of Germany, he got a call on his cellphone. It was his friend President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. – New York Times 

Britain has proposed changes to legislation that would ban its health service from buying medical supplies made in China’s Xinjiang region, after pressure from rights groups over Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghur people. – Reuters 

Ukraine has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency for “a comprehensive list of equipment” it needs to operate nuclear power plants during the war with Russia, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said on Saturday. – Reuters 

The Moldovan foreign ministry said it had summoned Moscow’s ambassador on Friday to express “deep concern” about comments by a top military commander, who suggested the country’s Russian-speaking population was being oppressed. – Reuters 

Ukraine will be victorious in its war against Russia very soon, its prime minister said on Friday, after Britain’s Boris Johnson said it remained a realistic possibility Russia could still win. – Reuters 

Eight weeks into the war, the Biden administration’s decision to dramatically ramp up delivery of artillery guns to Ukraine signals a deepening American commitment at a pivotal stage of fighting for the country’s industrial heartland. – Associated Press 

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said on Saturday that it is working to facilitate the release of members of its special monitoring mission in Ukraine amid concerns that they have been “deprived of their liberty.” – The Hill 

The European Union (EU) on Thursday released a series of steps and actions citizens can take to reduce energy usage as part of an effort to support to support Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. – The Hill 

The United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police has received roughly 50 referrals alleging war crimes by Russian forces in Ukraine. – Washington Examiner 

The United Kingdom is planning to reopen its embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, weeks after it shut down amid Russia’s invasion. – Washington Examiner 

The head of the world’s largest ship manager has urged Nato to provide naval escorts for commercial vessels passing through the Black Sea, which lies off Ukraine’s southern coast, as dozens remain stuck in the conflict zone. – Financial Times 

Germany’s interior minister denounced pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Berlin Saturday, who chanted antisemitic and anti-Israel slogans, attacked police officers and harassed journalists. – Algemeiner 

Since the beginning of March, more than 400 Russian diplomatic staff have been expelled from embassies and diplomatic missions across the continent, including in most EU countries. The majority of those expelled are suspected of being Russian intelligence operatives. – Business Insider  

Finnish and Swedish opposition leaders traveled to Washington this week to meet with U.S. officials as their countries kick-start debates on joining NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Foreign Policy 

Editorial: Focusing on pro-growth reform—rather than climate obsessions or populist gestures like limiting executive pay—would help restore the economic vitality that Mr. Macron originally promised. It would also make it less likely for a radical like Ms. Le Pen or Mr. Mélenchon to take power in five years. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: The latter event, of course, makes it more vital than ever that the political center can hold in this key European country. If Mr. Macron draws the right lessons from his country’s populist surge, responds to his critics’ valid concerns and governs accordingly, France’s center can continue to hold and, Americans must hope, expand. – Washington Post 

Editorial: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has served as a turning point in many ways. Putin is finding that there are consequences for unprovoked aggression, intended and unintended. His distorted casus belli means that the very thing he fears — an enlarged and focused Nato — is the very thing he begets. – Financial Times 

Anders Fogh Rasmussen writes: NATO’s previous posture of deterrence with Russia did not work: It failed to avoid a full-scale war in Europe. If Mr. Putin succeeds in Ukraine, he is not likely to stop there. He will continue to test NATO wherever he sees weak links. Countries that are closely aligned with the Western alliance but not protected by its Article 5 — such as Sweden and Finland — will be at risk. – New York Times 

Dan Hannan writes: The West, in short, turns out to be a small collection of rich nations grouped around the Anglosphere. Many of us had assumed that, after the fall of communism, our values would spread, as people recognized that open societies based on individual freedoms were happier as well as more successful. Boy, were we wrong. – Washington Examiner 

Richard Milne writes: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine looks increasingly likely to lead to Finland and Sweden applying to join Nato. But whereas Helsinki appears to be doing so with something resembling gusto, Stockholm is inching towards the western military alliance more reluctantly. – Financial Times 

Oxana Schmies writes: This war of aggression is a battle between Russia, an authoritarian regime with imperial aspirations and a young European democracy. This battle is decisive for Europe’s future. It does not allow for the luxury of neutrality or half-heartedness. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Nicholas Nelson writes: Of the many lessons learned from the disastrous evacuation from Afghanistan and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the biggest takeaways for Europe are that it can no longer outsource its defense and must be able to provide for itself. European democracies no longer have the luxury of excluding defense from ESG criteria and must adapt to incentivize investment in their own defense companies and technologies. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Stefano Graziosi and James Jay Carafano write: In addition to dealing with the aftermath of the war on Ukraine, the transatlantic community will have to resolve these fault lines if it plans to move forward to a safer, more prosperous future. How they will resolve the contradictions in the community will be key. The decisions made, perhaps even more than the actions of Beijing, Moscow and Tehran, will determine how the future unfolds. – Heritage Foundation 

Tom McTague writes: Nevertheless, right now there is every chance that Macron could become the defining European figure of our age, eclipsing even Merkel, whose legacy is unraveling before our eyes. The French president is not as clever as he thinks he is. He is selfish; he is arrogant; he believes himself the center of the world. And yet, he may well become great. – The Atlantic 

Tom McTague writes: The challenge in France, as in the rest of the Western world, is similar to that of the Edwardians before the collapse of their world in that cataclysm of the Western Front, as well as that faced by de Gaulle half a century later: to reconcile the extremes into something new and not simply to try to protect the old world that is going. An Emmanuel Macron victory—reassuring though it may be for the liberal order—will not be enough to accomplish that alone, just as Joe Biden’s was not enough in the U.S. The system itself needs to show that it can meet voters’ discontent. – The Atlantic 

Mark Temnycky writes: Therefore, the corridor to Ukraine must remain open, and the international community should continue to arm Ukraine. If Syrian and Chechen mercenaries join the fight, and if the Belarusians cut off the international community’s supply chain to western Ukraine, Ukraine’s chances of winning the war will be significantly diminished. However, swiftly providing Ukraine with the lethal and nonlethal aid it needs will help it win the war. Time is of the essence. – The National Interest 

Erik Brattberg writes: Against the backdrop of Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, NATO’s summit in June must be a major turning point for the alliance. While allied leaders are expected to agree on bolstering NATO’s eastern military presence and adopt a new Strategic Concept, embracing Finnish and Swedish membership in the alliance would also serve as a powerful rebuttal of Putin’s war in Ukraine, demonstrate NATO’s enduring vitality, and enhance the alliance’s security at a critical juncture. – The National Interest 


Hundreds of Arab militia fighters, many riding motorbikes or driving vehicles mounted with guns, attacked a village in Sudan’s western Darfur region on Sunday, torching homes and shops and killing at least 150 people, aid groups and United Nations officials said. – New York Times 

Fifteen people were killed, including nine soldiers, in coordinated jihadi attacks in northern Burkina Faso on Sunday, the army said. – Associated Press 

A series of attacks targeted three military bases in Mali on Sunday, killing at least six soldiers and injuring nearly a dozen more, the West African nation’s army said. […]While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State has ravaged the nation for eight years. – Associated Press 

A bomb blast by Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels hit a popular seaside restaurant in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, killing at least six people, ambulance service officials say. – Associated Press 

When abuses were reported in recent weeks in Mali — fake graves designed to discredit French forces; a massacre of some 300 people, mostly civilians — all evidence pointed to the shadowy mercenaries of Russia’s Wagner Group. – Associated Press 

Since Sudan’s military staged a coup six months ago many former allies of toppled autocrat Omar al-Bashir have been allowed to rejoin the civil service while others have been freed from jail in an apparent push to form a government and reassure donors. – Reuters 

A blast in the capital of Nigeria’s northeastern Taraba state on Friday evening injured 11 people including children, police said, days after an explosion claimed by Islamic State killed 3 people at a marketplace in a rural town in Taraba. – Reuters 

Charred bodies were left scattered among burnt palms, cars and vans on Sunday after a weekend explosion which killed more than 100 people at an illegal oil refining depot on the border of Nigeria’s Rivers and Imo states. – Reuters 

Niger lawmakers on Friday approved a bill allowing the deployment of more European special forces to help stem a jihadist insurgency across the Sahel, a move rejected by some parties that oppose Western military influence. – Reuters 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reached a staff-level agreement with Benin on a new 42-month extended credit facility worth $658 million, the IMF said in a statement on Friday. – Reuters 

The seven countries of the East African Community (EAC) have agreed to set up a regional military force to try to end decades of bloodshed caused by militant activity in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya said. – Reuters 

Latin America

The Nicaraguan government said Sunday it is closing the Nicaragua offices of the Organization of the American States and expelling the staff. – Associated Press 

A U.S. judge on Friday ordered former Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez to be detained pending a possible bail application by his lawyers, in Hernandez’s initial court appearance on U.S. drug trafficking and weapons charges. – Reuters 

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: The recent change in relative prices for wheat and other agricultural products ought to be a blessing for Argentina. In a free market, higher prices would act as a motivating factor to grow, sell and export more. As the value of harvests, measured in hard currency, went up, the nation would also become richer because dollar inflows would strengthen its buying power. To put it another way, the improvement in terms of trade would boost GDP. – Wall Street Journal 

Anthony B. Kim and Mateo Haydar write: For years Latin America’s freest, richest, and most resilient economy, Chile faces a challenging period of political and economic turbulence. Once the example of freedom and sustained growth in the region, much is uncertain about Chile’s future development prospects. – Washington Examiner 

Ryan C. Berg writes: At its core, the Maduro regime’s message that Venezuela se arregló (“Venezuela fixed itself”) attempts to cast aside discussions on the urgent need for political change. However, Venezuela’s economic recovery is deeply rooted in a peaceful path toward political transition. Prospects for an inclusive, robust economic recovery remain dim as long as the Maduro regime remains entrenched in power. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

North America

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he would meet with entrepreneurs from the United States and Canada on Friday. – Reuters 

Conrad Black writes: This challenge will have to be met, but in the meantime, Canada has incurred more gratitude in Europe for its military assistance than at any time since the First Canadian Army largely liberated the Netherlands in 1945. Prime Minister Trudeau should be commended for implying an armaments policy reversal in light of the barbarous Russian invasion. In a famous expression from Friedrich Schiller, “Late you come, but still you come” (if we really do). – New York Sun 

Tal Fortgang writes: Thank you for starting one of those “courageous conversations” we’re always supposed to have. This one not about gender or systemic racism or climate change, but about the burning debate over whether it is fantastic or merely acceptable that innocent Jews are being murdered in Israel. – Common Sense 


In April 2021, Russia’s financial intelligence unit met in Moscow with the regional head of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange. The Russians wanted Binance to agree to hand over client data, including names and addresses, to help them fight crime, according to text messages the company official sent to a business associate. – Reuters 

Spain’s ombudsman said on Sunday it would investigate the government’s alleged spying of Catalan separatist figures during the height of the region’s bid for independence, while the government announced a separate inquiry by its CNI intelligence agency. – Reuters 

Ukraine said on Friday that its postal service was hit by a cyberattack following the sale of a controversial stamp depicting a Ukrainian solider giving the middle finger to a Russian warship. – The Hill 

Google and Mandiant released reports this week saying the number of disclosed and exploited zero-days reached record highs in 2021. Mandiant said it identified 80 zero-days exploited in the wild, more than double the record volume they saw in 2019. The term zero-day refers to newly-discovered vulnerabilities in which a vendor has zero days to fix before a hacker can start exploiting it.” – The Record 

Glenn Nye and James Kitfield write: What is now urgently needed is a national awareness campaign explaining the role of every American citizen in preparing for the coming cyberwar. Not everyone needs to be a cyber engineer, but we all need better awareness of simple security techniques and how to identify threats that can be unleashed simply by clicking the wrong link in an email. – The Hill 


Global military expenditure has surpassed $2 trillion per year for the first time, and looks set to rise further as European countries beef up their armed forces in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

In its effort to quickly arm Ukraine against Russia, the Pentagon has announced the equivalent of an open casting call for companies to offer weapons and commercial systems that can be rushed to the fight. – Defense News 

The U.S. Navy’s artificial intelligence-enabled, autonomous drones are already functional, and many new types of systems are set to advance beyond the conceptual and prototype stages. The Navy intends for these systems to not only network with one another but also function autonomously. To expedite this process, the Navy is standing up and improving its Rapid Autonomy Integration Lab. – The National Interest 

In what could easily be called a drone explosion, the U.S. Navy is massively ac drone programs by developing, testing, and integrating a growing range of surface and undersea unmanned systems. Notably, these drones are being designed to be networked with one another and operate at various levels of autonomy. – The National Interest 

Arshan Barzani writes: NATO can no longer take such risks. Facing an unpredictable Vladimir Putin and a swaggering China, it must protect all members’ lands. Expanding Article 5 would let allies shift troops from places like the Falklands in the South Atlantic to the Russian naval threat in the north. It also would extend NATO’s deterrence in the Indo-Pacific, sending a message to China. – Wall Street Journal 

Dov S. Zakheim writes: Fortunately for the Army, two decades passed before it was called upon to play a major role in Operation Iraqi Freedom. By then it had restructured itself to meet the challenge at hand. Unlike the Army of the 1980s, however, Berger’s Marine Corps may not find that it has the luxury of two decades to reinvent itself. Neither Putin nor China’s Xi Jinping is likely to wait until it does. – The Hill 

Sean McFate writes: It’s time to slash the U.S. defense budget. The money blown on weapon systems designed to fight last century’s wars is staggering, as are the opportunity costs. Cutting the defense budget will improve U.S. national security. – The Hill 

Kris Osborn writes: The operational vision with both drone prototyping and its connection to Project Overmatch is to, for example, engineer a force-wide, multi-domain ability to connect surface warships with aerial drones, surface unmanned systems, and even undersea platforms. Should a platform receive navigational and targeting information faster than an enemy, the Navy would be in a position to gain a measurable tactical advantage in maritime warfare. – The National Interest