Fdd's overnight brief

April 4, 2022

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Russia has failed in its efforts to take Ukraine’s capital, but the suburbs around Kyiv have been decimated in the assault. Among the rubble and wreckage: The remains of the massive Antonov AN-225 airplane — also called Mriya, or “dream” in Ukrainian — which had set a Guinness world record for being the largest aircraft by weight. – Washington Post 

Explosions rocked Odessa early Sunday as Russia said its missiles struck an oil refinery and fuel storage facilities — sending thick dark plumes of smoke into the sky in the first major strikes on the strategic Black Sea port city’s downtown. – Washington Post 

The president’s effigy was propped up on a stake, stuffed with straw and clad in a suit bursting with bank notes. Dozens of people gathered around, some with flaming torches. Within moments, they set Vladimir Putin ablaze. – Washington Post 

Ukrainian troops recaptured territory around Kyiv on Saturday as Russian forces pulled back from towns they had seized in the opening days of the war and left in their wake scenes of destruction and horror, including the abandoned bodies of dead civilians. – Washington Post 

Tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border in early February, Western intelligence officials warned of an imminent invasion and key senators worked furiously to assemble a sanctions package that they hoped would deter Russian President Vladimir Putin — or at least demonstrate bipartisan U.S. resolve to oppose him. – Washington Post 

The Kremlin had banked on a quick, trouble-free decapitation to solve the problem of a neighbor appearing to stray too far from Moscow’s orbit. But after its vaunted army thundered across the border, very little went according to plan. – Washington Post 

Treacherous ground conditions tempered hopes of humanitarian relief on Friday for the bomb-ravaged southern city of Mariupol, where tens of thousands of Ukrainians remained trapped under Russian siege as aid workers tried desperately to reach them. – Washington Post 

The Russian military began its spring draft Friday, aiming to sign up 134,500 conscripts and stoking fears among young men that they may end up on the front lines of the invasion of Ukraine. – Washington Post 

No Russian troops were near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site early Friday, Ukraine’s State Agency on Exclusion Zone Management said, following reports a day earlier that the site has been handed back to Ukrainian personnel. – Washington Post 

Haunting images of dead bodies littering the streets of a Kyiv suburb and reports of civilian executions are triggering new international condemnation against Russia, as Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded accountability for what he said amounts to “genocide.” – Washington Post 

Ukrainian officials said they have asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to visit the mass graves seen in Bucha, a suburb northwest of Kyiv, so experts can gather evidence of possible Russian war crimes. – Washington Post 

Though Russia is the country that invaded its neighbor Ukraine, the Kremlin’s version relentlessly warns social media users across Latin America that the U.S. is the bigger problem. – Associated Press 

The former chief prosecutor of United Nations war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda has called for an international arrest warrant to be issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin. – Associated Press 

The Biden administration has insisted western sanctions against Russia are working despite a rebound in the value of the rouble against the US dollar. – Financial Times 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the mothers of Russian soldiers in an emotional Sunday night speech — saying he wants them to see the carnage their sons have caused after hundreds of executed civilians were discovered in a mass grave in a Kyiv suburb. – New York Post 

A glimmer of hope for an end to Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine emerged Saturday, with a peace treaty draft “sufficiently developed” to allow the two countries’ leaders to meet for direct talks – but as officials in Kyiv claimed to have regained complete control of the capital region, locals made horrifying reports of Russian atrocities. – New York Post 

Russian soldiers returning or redeploying from Ukraine frequently try to sell looted goods to Belarusians in southern border districts, according to interviews with multiple residents. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Top U.S. and NATO officials declined Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” to label Russia’s actions in Ukraine as “genocide,” at least not yet. – Politico 

The director of Russia’s space program said economic sanctions aimed at the country threaten partnerships at the International Space Station and he supports a move to end future cooperation with other agencies. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: The West’s goal shouldn’t be some abstract “strategic defeat” but an actual defeat that is obvious to everyone, including the Russian public. Ukraine will have to decide how long it is willing to fight. But as long as it is willing, the U.S. and NATO should provide all of the military and sanctions support it needs. If Mr. Putin gains from this war, there will be more invasions, more war crimes, and more horrific scenes like those in Bucha in the future. – Wall Street Journal 

Matt Bai writes: We hope that Russia’s generals would act as a brake on Putin’s worst impulses, should it come to that — but hope, as it’s often said, isn’t much of a strategy. – Washington Post 

Ross Douthat writes: No, if we intend to make economic war on Russia for a generation, we should be cleareyed about the calculus. In the hopes of making a dangerous great power as weak as possible, we will make it more likely that Putinism rules for decades, and that Russia remains our deadly enemy for as long as anyone can reasonably foresee. – New York Times 

Gary M. Shiffman writes:  Putin has wealth, wealthy friends and a massive military, but he cannot stop a legion of young adults on their smartphones. Russian citizens opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, amplified by like-minded people around the world, make change feasible. And that creates a tipping point for the end of Putin’s power. – The Hill 

Shivshankar Menon writes: But Russia’s invasion does not draw a line in the sand between the allies of the free world and its foes. A global Manichaean struggle is not in the offing. Those observers hoping for a conflict of that scope to arise from the rubble of Mariupol and Kharkiv will be disappointed. – Foreign Affairs 

Lawrence Kudlow writes: We need to toughen up the sanctions. We need to provide more military assistance. And we need to openly support a Ukrainian victory. In his more wakeful, cognitive moments, Mr. Biden has called Mr. Putin a war criminal, and said he cannot remain in power. So prove it, Joe. – New York Sun 


After months of grueling negotiations, Iran and world powers appeared to be on the threshold of agreeing to restore a landmark 2015 nuclear deal. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The United States and Iran go into the World Cup with political and football grudges that their coaches, Gregg Berhalter and Dragan Skocic, are keen to defuse before the teams meet in November. – Agence France-Presse 

A German-Iranian dissident facing the threat of the death penalty in Tehran has been allowed to call his family from solitary confinement for the first time in seven months, his family said on Friday. – The National News 

Glenn Kessler writes: Dealing with Iran often involves difficult choices for U.S. officials. The regime is holding U.S. citizens as hostages and, no matter what the diplomatic artifice constructed, Iran may conclude such seizures are a profitable way to get its money back. Despite official denials, it may also be the case that the detainees and the nuclear deal are linked, at least from Iran’s perspective. – Washington Post 

Omri Nahmias writes: And indeed, the issue of delisting the IRGC remained at the heart of the disagreement between the countries. One month later, the fate of the agreement remains uncertain. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Tasnim notes that “during the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi conveyed the warm greetings of the Chinese President to the President of Iran, thanked the Iranian side for its participation in the third Afghanistan Neighbors Summit and for close cooperation and consultation between the two sides to implement the 25-year document.” The two sides also exchanged views on the latest developments related to the Vienna talks and stressed the need to confront unilateral and illegitimate sanctions on some Western countries, Iran’s media said. – Jerusalem Post 


The Taliban commander’s sneakers had soaked through from the melting snow, but that was the least of his problems. It was avalanche season in the Salang Pass, a rugged cut of switchback roads that gash through the Hindu Kush mountains in northern Afghanistan like some man-made insult to nature, and he was determined to keep the essential trade route open during his first season as its caretaker. – New York Times 

The Taliban announced on Sunday that cultivating opium poppy in Afghanistan was banned, a move that will have far-reaching consequences for the many farmers who have turned to the illicit crop as a brutal drought and economic crisis have gripped the country. – New York Times 

An American and a U.S. resident have been freed from detention in Afghanistan, the State Department said on Friday, and one of the pair identified themselves as brothers who were engaged in humanitarian work when the Taliban arrested them. – Reuters 

An explosion in the center of the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday killed one person and wounded at least 59 others, hospital officials said. – Associated Press 

Two bombs placed at a playing field in Afghanistan’s western Herat province killed five people and wounded 25 on Friday, Taliban officials said. Earlier in the day, five children died in southern Helmand province when an unexploded shell they had found went off. – Associated Press 

Forces belonging to Afghanistan’s National Resistance Front have killed 10 members of the Taliban and severely wounded a dozen others today in an ambush that was reported by the NRF spokesperson, Sibghatullah Ahmadi. – New York Sun 

Melanne Verveer and Roya Rahmani write: There is no excuse for the Taliban’s move against girls’ education, and while world leaders may not have as much leverage as they’d like, they certainly have enough to get these girls back in the classroom. – Washington Post 


Turkey moved another step closer on Friday to transferring the trial for the murder of the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, a decision that would effectively kill the last case that rights groups hoped would serve a measure of justice for a grisly crime that shocked the world. – New York Times 

In an unusual move, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly condemned the three recent terror attacks that claimed 11 lives, in a call with President Isaac Herzog on Friday. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: Mr. Erdogan, an authoritarian who has intensified repression in Turkey since a failed coup attempt against him in 2016, has badly mismanaged the nation’s economy, with inflation soaring above 50 percent. This prompted him to seek better relations in the region, including with long-standing rival Saudi Arabia. Thus the abdication on justice for Khashoggi, a crude and sad betrayal of his friend. – Washington Post 


A recent wave of terrorist attacks in Israel, the deadliest in seven years, has presented a stark challenge to Israel’s fragile coalition government, which has come under criticism from both ends of the political spectrum for policies that critics claim have compounded the risk of violence. – New York Times 

Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) argued on Thursday that the United Nations’ repeated investigations of Israel may be part of a campaign to delegitimize and potentially withdraw recognition of the Jewish state in the body’s General Assembly. – Jewish Insider 

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva on Thursday slammed the appointment of a new U.N. special rapporteur handling Palestinian issues, saying “we don’t expect to receive from her any fair and objective treatment.” – Jewish Insider 

At least 10 people were arrested during a second consecutive night of clashes between Arabs and Israel Police at the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday night, according to police. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel’s goal is to break the wave of terrorism, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday during a tour of the security barrier. “We are in a period of ‘alert routine,’ in which we want the citizens of Israel to return to their routine and security forces to be at high alert,” he said. – Jerusalem Post 

Israeli police last week found a secret 20 sq.m. “cannabis tunnel” underground in Tel Sheva that was of such complexity that it could rival the secret Hamas tunnels from Gaza into Israel. – Jerusalem Post 

Three members of a terror cell were killed in a firefight with Border Police’s Counterterrorism Unit officers in Araba near Jenin on Friday night, according to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service). – Jerusalem Post 

Israel’s Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked met with the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary Priti Patel on Thursday in London, England. – Jerusalem Post 

The United Nations Human Rights Council approved four anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian resolutions, including a call for a limited arms embargo against the Jewish state, as it wrapped up its 49th session. – Jerusalem Post 

The Israeli Air Force said its forces trained “wing-to-wing” last week with counterparts from seven other countries during an aerial exercise simulating combat scenarios. – Algemeiner 

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi has ordered the Israeli military to prepare for a protracted military operation, lasting at least a month. – Arutz Sheva 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Jordan’s King Abdullah II spoke by phone Sunday with the advent of the holy month of Ramadan and amid rising tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. – Ynet 

Nahum Barnea writes: Someone who is unlikely to join the summit next year are the Palestinians. As far as Bennett and Lapid are concerned, that’s good news. But, as we sadly learned over the past week, the Palestinians have their own way, usually a violent one, of forcing themselves into every discourse. – Ynet 

Stephen M. Flatlow writes: Five foundational myths about the Palestinian Arab war against Israel. All five shattered to pieces by the latest terrorist attack. What more do we need to know? – New York Sun 


A two-month truce between the warring parties in Yemen went into effect on Saturday, providing some hope for a reduction of violence in a war that has roiled the Arabian Peninsula and caused a crushing humanitarian crisis. – New York Times 

The warring sides in Yemen’s seven-year conflict reportedly have broken what was meant to be a two-month ceasefire just hours after it came into effect. The announcement was welcomed by the UAE, according to state media. – Jerusalem Post 

A tanker carrying badly needed fuel arrived in Yemen’s blockaded port of Hodeida on Sunday, as a cease-fire meant to stop the fighting in the war-torn country for two months entered its first full day. – Associated Press 

Gulf States

As Joe Biden moved to open US strategic oil reserves, his two biggest oil-producing allies have kept their tanks firmly shut. The UAE and Saudi Arabia continue to rebuff the US president as he attempts to counter soaring oil prices prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And both countries have been unusually frank about their refusal to step in. – The Guardian 

In recent weeks, as Western sanctions on Russia over its war in Ukraine have roiled global energy markets, Saudi Arabia has continued to decline requests from U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration that it increase oil production. – Foreign Affairs 

Jon Gambrell writes: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates appear to be leveraging record gasoline prices at the pump to extract American concessions on Yemen. – Associated Press 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It’s not clear if the attacks will increase or if Turkey will ever respond. Turkey and Iran have had decent relations over the last years, and they are both part of Russian-backed discussions regarding Syria. However, Turkey has also sought to pivot in its foreign relations in recent years. Iran likes to use proxy groups in places like Iraq to attack other countries, and has used Iraqi-based militias to target Saudi Arabia and Israel. – Jerusalem Post 

Middle East & North Africa

Prince Hamzah of Jordan said he would relinquish his title in the fallout of a feud with his half brother, King Abdullah II. – Bloomberg 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Friday “to reaffirm the deep strategic relationship between the United States and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.” – Jerusalem Post 

The regime in Jordan is facing increasing criticism at home and especially amid the warming of relations with Israel, which has recently been reflected in the signing of bilateral agreements and a series of visits by senior Israeli officials to Amman. – Arutz Sheva 

Bobby Ghosh writes: There are growing signs that Tunisians are beginning to see through the president’s promises. There have been few pro-Saied rallies of late. Few people have cared to participate in the online “national consultation” process that he said would inform the new constitution. […]With the tide turning against him, it’s no wonder Saied was spooked by the online challenge from the suspended lawmakers. It is time for the West to loosen his grip around the neck of Tunisia’s democracy. – Bloomberg 

Ronald S. Lauder writes: The US and Israel must become active partners in a regional defense alliance that will provide the moderate Arab world with a strategic Iron Dome; Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and other Arab nations should become active partners in mitigating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and preventing a One-State catastrophe; and the American-Arab-Israeli alliance should work together to prevent Iran’s nuclearization and safeguard the West’s energy security in light of the uncertainty caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Jerusalem Post 

Smadar Perry writes: Nonetheless, this two-day regional summit – headed by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid – is an impressive display of power, all the more so considering it came mere days after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Sisi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Egypt. – Ynet 

Korean Peninsula

The Kim Jong Un regime championed it as the next-generation Hwasong-17. Japan agreed that the missile represented new technology, but South Korea said it appeared to be just a dressed up version of its predecessor, the Hwasong-15. The U.S. has stayed silent on the weapon’s nomenclature. – Wall Street Journal 

Two officials of North Korea’s ruling party, including the sister of leader Kim Jong-Un, criticized South Korea’s defense minister for comments about his country’s missile capabilities. – Bloomberg 

South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol on Sunday announced his intent to name a seasoned former prime minister and economic expert to serve as the country’s No. 2 official under his incoming government. – Associated Press 

Nicholas Hanson writes: Suppose that Yoon can partially divest South Korea’s foreign policy and national security establishment from North Korea. In that case, he will have more assets to devote to what he sees as a long-overdue priority: recalibrating relations with China. Yoon laments Seoul’s past accommodation to Beijing’s economic retribution and compromise on what he views as South Korea’s “core security interests,” including challenges to its national sovereignty. While its decision to join the Quad will certainly draw Beijing’s ire, paradoxically, it will allow Seoul to chart a more independent geopolitical path that is less susceptible to Chinese coercion. – The National Interest 


Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she won’t seek a second term in office, as she nears the end of a five-year stint as the city’s top official that was marred by the biggest social turmoil in more than half a century and a recent Covid-19 wave that has killed thousands and proved hard to control. – Wall Street Journal 

China’s apparent retreat from one of its most important policy initiatives is showing how hard it is to remake the country’s economy and reduce inequality nearly a decade into Xi Jinping’s rule. – Wall Street Journal   

U.S. accident investigators arrived in China on Saturday to help authorities look for clues into what caused last month’s crash of a Boeing jetliner with 132 people aboard. – Associated Press 

China says it will back neighbor Myanmar “no matter how the situation changes,” in the latest show of unequivocal support for the ruling military that seized power last year. – Associated Press 

China on Friday renewed its criticism of Western sanctions against Russia, as top European Union officials sought assurances from Beijing that it would not help Moscow circumvent the economic measures imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Associated Press 

China reacted mutedly to allegations that Russian troops had committed atrocities against civilians in Ukraine as Beijing attempted to balance its support for Moscow with the growing fallout from the invasion. – Financial Times 

The inquiry in Australia has revealed that about A$900mn ($674mn) of transactions have been processed in Star’s casinos using China UnionPay—China’s version of Visa and Mastercard — by gamblers. The use of the payment network for gambling contravenes both Australia’s anti-money laundering rules and Chinese capital outflow laws. – Financial Times 

Beijing has revised its audit secrecy laws in a bid to stop around 270 Chinese companies from being delisted from US exchanges, in a significant concession to pressure from Washington. – Financial Times 

Xi Jinping has called on the EU to act more independently of the US as China and Brussels clashed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the bloc’s leaders warned Beijing not to aid Moscow’s war effort. – Financial Times 

China launched a massive cyber operation against the Ukrainian military and its nuclear facilities before Russia began its invasion, according to UK intelligence reports obtained by The Times. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: It is encouraging to see that the FBI understands the stakes involved in these cases. Each of these efforts represents a direct assault on U.S. sovereignty by a hostile, authoritarian regime bent on global domination. China is a unique threat to the U.S., which is why the Biden administration should reconsider its decision to end the DOJ’s China Initiative. – Washington Examiner 

Editorial: Mark that to the attention of the British, Australian and Canadian judges who remain a part of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. They surely view themselves as protectors of the law, but at some point they become enablers of the Communist Party’s lawlessness. – Wall Street Journal  

Brent D. Sadler writes: China’s move in the Solomons is remarkably troubling. To wield a small Navy effectively, retain allies, and uphold freedom of the sea, the U.S. needs to better constrain the metastasis of Chinese military posture. – Real Clear Defense 

South Asia

Public anger is flaring in Sri Lanka over the government’s handling of an economic crisis that has led to rolling blackouts, hourslong waits for basic goods such as diesel fuel, and cooking gas and food inflation hitting 30.2% last month. – Wall Street Journal  

Pakistan’s embattled prime minister, Imran Khan, outmaneuvered his political opponents Sunday as they attempted to oust him from power through a vote of no confidence. Within two hours, Parliament had been dissolved at Khan’s request so the country can prepare for new elections. – Washington Post 

The tussle to oust Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will likely be decided within days. For the winner, the much bigger challenge ahead will be to fix an economic crisis that threatens to leave the country unable to pay its debts. – Wall Street Journal 

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia appreciated India’s stance on the Ukraine invasion and is ready to cooperate on trade, as countries on both sides of the Ukraine war have ramped up efforts to pull New Delhi closer. – Wall Street Journal 

Fresh elections in Pakistan will be held in 90 days, State Minister for Information Farrukh Habib said on Sunday. – Reuters 

Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba met his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and inaugurated the Himalayan nation’s only railway link with its southern neighbour on Saturday in a summit meant to deepen relations. – Reuters 

Pakistan’s army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Saturday his country sought to expand its relationship with Washington, a day after Islamabad protested to the US embassy over alleged interference in its internal affairs. – Reuters 

The foreign ministers of Britain and Russia are visiting India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to maintain ties with both Moscow and Western nations despite the worsening Ukraine war and humanitarian crisis. – Associated Press 

Sri Lanka’s sports minister and the president’s nephew, Namal Rajapaksa, has resigned from his position amid growing public outrage over the country’s economic crisis and shortages of food, fuel and medicines. – Associated Press 

A recent court ruling upholding a ban on Muslim students wearing head coverings in schools has sparked criticism from constitutional scholars and rights activists who say that judicial overreach threatens religious freedoms in officially secular India. – Associated Press 

India is coming under pressure from the U.S. and Western countries to take a tougher position with Russia, a country with which it has long had strong ties. – The Hill 

Josh Rogin writes: In the end, democracies do have a fundamental shared interest in stopping autocracies from expanding. India, as the world’s largest democracy, ultimately belongs within that fold. But whether the leaders in Washington and New Delhi can overcome history and politics to realize that vision remains to be seen. – Washington Post 

Ruth Pollard writes: Pakistan’s constitution calls for the establishment of an interim government to take the country to the elections, which must be held within 90 days. […]The question now is how much unrest he and his opponents will incite before another poll can be held or the Supreme Court can sit. Tens of thousands of Khan’s supporters gathered in the capital Islamabad on March 26, which followed a major anti-government rally weeks earlier. Expect more of this, and all the danger it brings. Pakistan’s 220 million citizens deserve better. – Bloomberg 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It’s unclear how the US will feel about how Lavrov was greeted. However, the symbolism is already clear. India is pursuing an independent line while at the same time being a key friend of Israel and the UAE and other countries. […]That led some critics of Israel to see Israel as part of a group of authoritarian countries. Now Israel’s government is trying to have closer relations with Europe, and Israel recently hosted the Negev Summit with the foreign ministers of UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Morocco. The US Secretary of State was also in Israel. This is all part of this new world order that is being formed. – Jerusalem Post 


Hundreds of protesters in tightly controlled Singapore staged a rare demonstration against the death penalty Sunday as fears grow the city-state is set to carry out a wave of hangings. – Agence France-Presse 

An explosion struck a nightclub in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku early on Sunday, setting off a fire that killed one person and injured 31, the Associated Press reported. – Reuters 

Australia formally signed a trade deal with India on Saturday as the two nations signalled an intention to forge closer trade ties. – Reuters 

U.S. and Taiwanese officials have held talks on expanding Taiwan’s international participation including “opportunities” for the island to attend a major World Health Organization meeting next month. – Reuters 

Indonesia’s president and Malaysia’s prime minister looked on as officials signed an agreement Friday on the placement and protection of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia during a meeting in Jakarta. – Associated Press 

The Thai government on Saturday hailed “significant progress” in the latest talks with the main group fighting an insurgency in Thailand’s Muslim deep south after the sides agreed to stop violence during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan. – Reuters 

Daniel Moss writes: Leaders have cautioned that there will be no U.K.-style “Freedom Day” in Singapore, a big-bang moment when change comes suddenly, at the risk of a big jump in illness. It’s also possible things could go backward, with fresh crackdowns should new and more dangerous mutations of Covid develop. Singapore isn’t sprinting to the finish line — more like a brisk walk. As long as the direction is clear, I’ll drink to that. – Bloomberg 

Jagannath Panda writes: The EU aims to work with ASEAN against violent extremism; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats; transnational crime; maritime security; and cybersecurity, as well as building pan-Asian security arrangements for an enhanced EU presence in the region. Besides ASEAN, the EU’s security and defense bilateral cooperation partnerships with middle powers in Asia such as India, Japan, and South Korea will only be boosted in the future. – The National Interest 


As recently as eight weeks ago, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, trading quips at a joint news conference and defending Russia’s security demands as “normal.” – Washington Post 

The European Union is working to make its nine currencies available to the more than 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees now in the bloc, some of whom can’t pay for basic necessities because many EU banks aren’t converting their national currency, the hryvnia, into local currency. – Wall Street Journal  

A Berlin court has sentenced a 93-year-old German woman to 12 months in prison for denying that Jews were systematically murdered during the Holocaust. – Associated Press 

Amid air strikes and explosions in the Black Sea port of Odesa, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias arrived on April 3 to deliver badly needed aid to the strategic city of 1 million people as the head of a humanitarian mission. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Peter Marki-Zay, the man challenging Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in national elections on April 3 on behalf of a united opposition, has warned of worsening isolation under Orban’s “illiberal” model and likened him to a “traitor” putting Hungarians at risk. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Official results from Hungary’s general election on Sunday showed nationalist Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party had won a fourth term in office by a much greater margin than pre-election polls had suggested, after a campaign overshadowed by the war in neighbouring Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse  

Ukrainian photographer and documentary maker Maks Levin has been found dead near the capital Kyiv after going missing more than two weeks ago, presidential aide Andriy Yermak said on Saturday. – Agence France-Presse 

With Serbian citizens set to vote in presidential, parliamentary, and municipal elections on April 3, a retired army general and a leading opposition candidate for the presidency, Zdravko Ponos, recently appeared on one of Serbia’s most popular political talk shows, Utisak Nedelje (Impression of the Week). There he was asked to clarify comments he had made about General Ratko Mladic, a convicted war criminal and the military leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the Yugoslav wars. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Serbia’s leader Aleksandar Vucic claimed a landslide victory in general elections Sunday paving the way for another term as president and extending his decade-long rule in the Balkan nation. – Agence France-Presse 

Just four months ago, the idea of Finland joining Nato this year would have seemed far-fetched. Now, the prospect of Russia’s once-neutral neighbour applying to become a member of the western military alliance seems all but inevitable. – Financial Times 

Lithuania has become the first EU country to cut off Russian gas supplies completely, with the two other Baltic states also temporarily stopping its flow in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. – Financial Times 

As Russian missiles hammer Ukraine and the world worries about the war escalating beyond its borders, European nations with a history of military non-engagement are examining whether the time has come to dump their long-held neutrality. – Financial Times 

As the Ukraine war grinds on, Italy is renewing its vow to meet a NATO spending target of two percent of gross domestic product but has confirmed it will delay it by four years amid a domestic political row over budgets. – Defense News 

Editorial: President Biden’s announcement that the United States would accept up to 100,000 is a good start, but the country can do more, especially when public support for welcoming Ukrainian refugees is strong. The United States has been a key player in Ukraine over the years, from encouraging Ukrainians to stand up to Russia to persuading Ukrainians to agree to the removal of nuclear weapons from their territory following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a decision that many Ukrainians deeply regret today. – New York Times 

David Ignatius writes: Maybe that is a building block for a real settlement. For a European Ukraine would represent a profound defeat for Putin’s dream of hegemony over Kyiv. That’s an essential requirement for a peace deal, along with stopping the killing. – Washington Post 

Katerina Sergatskova writes: Looking at the news about the destruction of Mariupol, Kharkiv and Kyiv, we hear many voices and the same mantra: After the war, we will rebuild it all; we will take back our cities and restore what cannot be destroyed — our culture. – New York Times 

Garry Kasparov writes: The outcome in Ukraine will define a new world order, for good or ill. Taiwan and China are watching closely. Xi Jinping’s natural alliance with his fellow dictator is looking less attractive after the free world’s outpouring of support for Ukraine. The U.S. can restore its leadership of the free world, or it can lead from behind while democracy continues to lose ground. – Wall Street Journal   

James Sherr writes: It is no secret that Kyiv’s terms were drawn up largely by Zelensky’s presidential office, with little input from the foreign and defence ministries. The stamp of amateurism is all too visible. Solace can be derived from Zelensky’s assurance that the Ukrainian people will be given the last word. He might be surprised by what they say. – Financial Times 

Lawrence Freedman writes: Kyiv has all but accepted that while it will never agree in principle to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, in practice this is a fait accompli. But it will not agree to Russian control over the Donbas, the area for which Putin went to war. – Financial Times 

John Dizard writes: Europe cannot maintain its competitive position while paying those high spot prices. It can only grab more certain and secure LNG capacity with long-term contracts, even if doing so contradicts a decade-long policy goal. – Financial Times 

Helen Thomas writes: But you can’t magic away the need for physical checks on meat and dairy, say. Unless, that is, you strike a deal with the EU on food and hygiene standards, which is a no-no for Brexit hardliners. Or you fundamentally overhaul how we enforce food safety, shifting to a ‘trusted trader’ scheme with officials in-country inspecting and monitoring standards at source. – Financial Times 

Sarah Wheaton and Cristina Gallardo write: Without much hope of actually holding Ukraine, Putin opts for systematic destruction, making the cost of rebuilding the country prohibitively expensive. […]Reality check: NATO is staying out in order to avoid a Third World War. But a drawn-out war has global consequences. Ukrainian refugees flooding into the West won’t be able to go home. And they won’t be the only new arrivals: People from the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia imperiled by the crashing Russian economy and halted food exports would renew migration as a wedge issue in Western democracies. – Politico 

James Stavridis writes: The U.S. and Europeans will probably work quietly on both India and China to move them to a more critical posture toward Russia. […]Even as Western leaders seek to keep democracies aligned in opposition to Putin, they will need to focus on seeing the conflict from the Asian perspective, understanding the nuances of the region. A hot war is raging in Ukraine, but the looming cold one with China is more important to America’s long-term interests. – Bloomberg 

Hal Brands writes: But the true lesson of Ukraine may be that there is no shortcut to deterrence. Sure, nonmilitary tools give the U.S. added ability to pummel the bad guys. Yet if Washington and its allies lack the military capability and will to blunt Russian or Chinese aggression, then the promise of economic pain may not suffice to keep the peace. And if America is to deter its adversaries effectively, it must avoid the trap of forgetting that those adversaries fear escalation as much as we do, and thus suffering from asymmetric timidity in a crisis. – Bloomberg 

Niall Ferguson writes: Explicitly calling Putin a war criminal and for his removal from power meaningfully increases the risk of either chemical or nuclear weapons being used in Ukraine. And if nuclear weapons are used once in the 21st century, I fear they will be used again. An obvious consequence of the war in Ukraine is that numerous states around the world will intensify their pursuit of nuclear arms. For nothing more clearly illustrates their value than the fate of Ukraine, which gave them up in 1994 in exchange for worthless assurances. The era of nonproliferation is over. – Bloomberg 

Andreas Kluth writes: Part of freedom is choosing our communities, allegiances and loyalties. And part of tolerance is respecting the choices of others. In the modern world, those decisions are sometimes confusing, other times urgent and clear. Just ask the brave Ukrainians fighting for their country right now. – Bloomberg 

Gideon Falter writes: For the first time, British Jews were also asked how they felt about antisemitism in universities and on social media. Almost every respondent said they believed both were a problem, underlining the need for action. […]Britain cannot be content when almost half of a long-established minority community feels the need to hide in public or that the authorities are failing to protect them. It is not too late to make the right changes in politics, at universities, online and in criminal justice, but the time for action is now. – Jerusalem Post 

Frederick W. Kagan, George Barros, and Karolina Hird write: The withdrawal of the main body of Russian forces along both banks of the Dnipro River is likely complete. The disorderly nature of the withdrawal, which apparently left numerous individual Russian soldiers and possibly small pockets of Russian troops behind, makes precise assessments of the situation throughout Kyiv and Chernihiv Oblasts impossible at this time. – Institute for the Study of War 

Luke Coffey writes: It should be the priority of the United States to ensure that Russia pays a high price for its invasion of Ukraine. For Americans who believe in strong and secure national borders, the primacy of national sovereignty, and the right to self-defense, support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression is natural. Now that Ukrainians are having some success on the battlefield it is time to double down on supporting them. – Heritage Foundation 

Yasmeen Serhan write: Just as the war in Ukraine has affected these elections, their outcomes will invariably affect Ukraine too—specifically on how Europe responds to the crisis there, whether it maintains the status quo or shifts its policy. Macron winning would represent a victory for those who have advocated for a stronger Europe, a position of his that has largely been vindicated by the Russian invasion. – The Atlantic  


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service informed some hunters last month that it would allow the import of six elephant trophies into the United States from Zimbabwe. The African elephant carcasses will be the first allowed into the country in five years. – New York Times 

Across East Africa, below-average rainfall has created some of the driest conditions in four decades, according to the United Nations, leaving more than 13 million people facing severe hunger. Seasonal harvests have hit their lowest in decades, malnourished children are filling hospitals and many families are walking long distances to find help. – New York Times 

In a major breakthrough, South Sudan’s rival leaders sealed an agreement Sunday on a key military provision of their faltering peace deal following mediation by neighbouring Sudan. – Agence France-Presse 

Sudan’s military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has threatened to expel the United Nations’ special representative, accusing him of overstepping his mandate. – Reuters 

Burkina Faso’s interim president, Paul-Henri Damiba, said on Friday that the 36-month transition timeline to democracy could be revised if the security situation improves. – Reuters 

The M23 rebel group has declared a unilateral ceasefire after several days of clashes with the army in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, its spokesman said in a statement on Friday. – Reuters 

The United States is following “extremely disturbing accounts” of large numbers of people killed in a village in central Mali, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Sunday. – Reuters 

A separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, has ordered residents to stay at home every Monday as they continue their call for Nigeria’s southeast to become an independent country. – Associated Press 

Ethiopian journalist Amir Aman Kiyaro, who is accredited to The Associated Press and has been imprisoned for four months without charges, has been released on bail. – Associated Press 

The central African nation of Congo has joined the East African Community, widening the trade bloc’s footprint with the admission of its seventh member. – Associated Press 

A convoy of trucks carrying food aid entered territory controlled by fighters loyal to the fugitive leaders of Ethiopia’s Tigray region on Friday, the first humanitarian convoy to do so since Dec. 14, the U.N. World Food Program said. – Associated Press 

In the past five years, however, there has been an overhaul of the island nation’s tax laws. Sensitive to pressure from international regulators demanding greater scrutiny of offshore centres, Mauritius has dropped several elements of its previous tax system. – Financial Times 

Latin America

Costa Ricans on Sunday elected a former World Bank official accused of sexual harassment to be the country’s next president after a bruising campaign that was marked by low voter turnout. – Financial Times 

Sérgio Moro, a former judge who led a sweeping anti-graft crackdown in Brazil, has pulled out of the country’s presidential race, dashing hopes that the centrist politician might break the left-right polarisation in Latin America’s biggest democracy. – Financial Times 

A court in Honduras authorized prosecutors Friday to seize properties, bank accounts and vehicles linked to former President Juan Orlando Hernández. – Associated Press 

Global restrictions on transport and trade with Russia pose an especially serious problem for Cubans, whose socialist government has lived since the early 1960s under an embargo imposed by the nearby United States. Much of the island’s fleets of trucks, buses, cars and tractors came from distant Russia and are now aging, in need of parts. – Associated Press 

Chile went to the United Nations’ highest court Friday to seek a resolution to a long-running dispute with its Latin American neighbor Bolivia over the use of the waters of a small river that flows across both nations’ border. – Associated Press 

The prosecutor’s office of the International Criminal Court said Thursday that it will open an office in Venezuela as it investigates allegations of torture and killings by the South American country’s security forces. – Associated Press 

United States

The Pentagon will provide up to $300 million in military supplies to Ukraine, including drones, armored vehicles and machine guns, as part of a broader effort to boost Ukrainian forces fighting Russia’s invasion. – Washington Post 

More than a month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House is preparing for the possibility of a brutal, violent quagmire that could last several months or more and test the West’s resolve. – Politico 

Mexican and American officials met Thursday amid disagreements about an electrical power reform that seeks to limit foreign-built renewable energy plants and grant a majority market share to Mexico’s state-owned power utility. – Associated Press 

A prosecutor during the Watergate scandal believes that former President Donald Trump’s alleged crimes, which may have been obscured by missing White House phone logs, could be “incalculably worse” than former President Richard Nixon’s offenses. – Business Insider 

President Joe Biden is confident Hunter Biden didn’t break any laws despite an ongoing criminal investigation by the Justice Department and believes his son and brother James didn’t do any unethical business deals with China, according to the White House. – Washington Examiner 

Editorial: The Biden administration’s approach should vary, depending on its leverage in each country. There’s not much point using moral suasion on China, for example, though hints to Beijing of the price it would pay for re-arming Mr. Putin appear to be having some impact. For the rest, Washington should aggressively deploy moral suasion, trade and aid — economic as well as military. That’s what Russia has been doing; this country must respond in kind. – Washington Post 

Noah Rothman writes: The Biden administration loves a good stunt. We can expect many more in the future, if only because this White House’s contempt for your intelligence is rivaled only by its unearned regard for its own. – Commentary Magazine  

Peter Huessy writes: Indeed, given the growth of Russian and Chinese nuclear forces, Iran’s nuclear progress, and North Korea’s recent ballistic missile development, the United States is facing at least two peer adversaries and an array of other nuclear threats. To deter these forces, the cost of the U.S. nuclear deterrent is a bargain. – National Interest 


NASA on Friday began a critical two-day-long test of its giant Space Launch System (SLS) rocket complete with a simulated countdown, as the agency gears up to return humans to the Moon. – Agence France-Presse 

In a public ceremony delayed two years by the pandemic, President Joe Biden on Saturday commissioned the USS Delaware, a nuclear attack submarine, saying it would enhance national security, though he made no reference to the global turmoil from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Associated Press 

The U.S. Army will ask industry for prototype designs for its Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle replacement in June when it releases a final request for proposals, according to service officials in charge of the effort. – Defense News 

The U.S. Navy has awarded Raytheon Technologies a contract worth up to $3.16 billion to provide radars for as many as 31 ships over the next five years. – Defense News 

The Air Force is seeking $5.3 billion in fiscal 2023 to continue revamping its outdated facilities across the globe, nearly half of which comes in the form of major construction projects. – Defense News 

Long War

The U.S. military on Saturday delivered to Algeria a prisoner whose repatriation from Guantánamo Bay was arranged during the Obama administration but then delayed for five years. – New York Times 

Israeli forces killed three members of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad during a raid Saturday in the occupied West Bank, police said, the latest in a surge of violence. – Agence France-Presse 

Albanian prosecutor’s office said Friday it has charged an Iranian man of supporting terror organizations and abusing computer data. – Associated Press 

Mali’s military said it has killed over 200 Islamist militants in an operation in the centre of the West African country, the latest clash in a month of escalating violence. – Reuters