Fdd's overnight brief

April 8, 2022

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Outraged by the grisly images emerging after nearly seven weeks of war, the U.N. General Assembly suspended Russia from its Human Rights Council, a rarely used penalty that comes as Western powers boost military aid to fend off a Russian assault on Ukraine’s eastern provinces. – Washington Post 

The U.N. General Assembly’s Thursday vote suspending Russia from the body’s Human Rights Council drew a newly clear delineation of the global order in ways that seemed to go far beyond allegations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. – Washington Post 

Prominent Russian newspaper editor Dmitry Muratov was attacked on a train Thursday, doused with a paint and acetone mixture that left his eyes burning, his newspaper said. – Washington Post 

Ukrainian officials called for more weapons to fight Russia as both sides mobilize forces in the east for what are expected to be some of the fiercest battles of the war so far. – Wall Street Journal 

The shootings on Yablunska were part of what residents and Ukrainian officials say was a spree of killing, raping and looting that marked Russia’s monthlong occupation of Bucha, a well-heeled town on the northwestern outskirts of Kyiv. Several hundred civilians were killed there, say Ukrainian officials, who want to make Bucha a prime exhibit for an investigation into potential war crimes in areas occupied by Russian forces. – Wall Street Journal 

Hundreds of volunteers from Belarus have joined a dedicated Belarusian battalion and other formations of Ukrainian armed forces since Russian President Vladimir Putin triggered the invasion on Feb. 24, with more than a 1,000 others still awaiting vetting and training, Belarusian opposition leaders say. – Wall Street Journal  

A Russian strike on a train station in Kramatorsk, which had been a main point of evacuation for thousands of people trying to flee the embattled eastern regions of Ukraine, left “dozens” dead and injured on Friday morning, according to the governor of the Donetsk region. – New York Times 

Ukrainian leaders predicted there would be more gruesome discoveries in the days ahead after retreating Russian forces left behind crushed buildings, streets strewn with destroyed cars and mounting civilian casualties that drew condemnation from across the globe. – Associated Press 

The United Nations’ humanitarian chief said Thursday he’s not optimistic about securing a ceasefire to halt the fighting in Ukraine following high-level talks in Moscow and Kyiv that underscored how far apart the two sides are. – Associated Press 

With Russian hopes for storming Kyiv and other major cities in northern Ukraine dashed by stiff resistance, Moscow has refocused its efforts on the country’s east, seeking to make gains there and use them to dictate its terms in talks on ending the conflict. – Associated Press 

The European Union nations have agreed to ban Russian coal in the first sanctions on the vital energy industry over the war in Ukraine, but it has underlined the 27 countries’ inability to agree so far on a much more sweeping embargo on oil and natural gas that would hit Russia harder but risk recession at home. – Associated Press 

Nato member states have agreed to supply new types of advanced weaponry to Ukraine, alliance representatives said, as Kyiv prepares for an offensive by Russia in the country’s east. – Financial Times 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that if Finland and Sweden joined NATO then Russia would have to “rebalance the situation” with its own measures. – Reuters 

The Kremlin said on Thursday that it would make a decision on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a G20 summit later this year in Indonesia based on how events evolve. – Reuters 

Russia gave its most sombre take yet on the six-week long war in Ukraine, describing the “tragedy” of rising troop losses and the economic pain of sanctions, as Ukrainian authorities rushed civilians out of the way of a looming big offensive in the east.. – Reuters 

Russian gas deliveries to Europe via the Yamal-Europe pipeline reversed direction to flow from Germany to Poland on Thursday morning and supplies via Ukraine also eased, all in line with requests from customers. – Reuters 

Russian forces have now fully withdrawn from northern Ukraine to Belarus and Russia, British military intelligence said on Friday. – Reuters 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday he had told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that peace talks with Russia can be held in Turkey from now on. – Reuters 

Aluminium producer Rusal became the first Russian company to publicly call for a thorough and impartial investigation into the alleged war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha and call for an early end to the conflict in Ukraine. – Financial Times 

President Vladimir Putin is betting his troops can deliver a victory in Ukraine’s east to rescue Russia’s faltering invasion after failing to seize the capital Kyiv with a lightning war. He still faces a tough task. – Bloomberg 

A former adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Ukraine’s military is using “Terminator drones” to trick Russian soldiers into thinking they are being chased by “Skynet.” – Newsweek 

The U.S. Congress has voted overwhelmingly to remove favorable trade status for goods from Russia and Belarus and to ban the import of Russian oil and other energy products. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley argued Thursday that land mines have been critical for Ukrainian forces’ success against Russian armored vehicles. – Military.com 

Nearly six weeks into the war in Ukraine, merchant ships in the Black Sea have become stranded, halting the import and export of vital commodities, a situation that could have wide-ranging impacts on the global economy. – USNI News 

In a recent interview with the anti-liberal Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin, the interviewer Katerina Sazhneva claimed that Dugin liberally invoked Dugin’s writing including in his February 24, 2022 address to the nation upon the launch of the special operation in Ukraine. Dugin modestly replied that both he and Putin were inspired by the golden pages of Russian history and this accounted for the similarity. […]The “solar” Putin was now completely ascendant. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: Ukraine won the battle of Kyiv, but the battle for the Donbas in the east is likely to be even more savage. Ukraine knows that if Mr. Putin occupies a quarter or so of the country, he can freeze the conflict and re-arm for future attacks. He may also be planning an assault on the port city of Odessa to cut all of Ukraine from access to the Black Sea. This war could be long, and the West’s resolve will have to match Mr. Putin’s brutality. – Wall Street Journal 

David Ignatius writes: U.S. officials keep repeating that only Zelensky can make the ultimate decisions about war and peace. They’re right. It should be up to Ukrainians to decide what they are willing to concede, and how much risk and punishment they are willing to endure. But if the Ukrainians are determined to repel the invaders, the United States has a moral duty to do what it can to help them succeed. – Washington Post 

Marc A. Thiessen writes: But the United States should force a vote and make every nation go on record — because Russia’s presence on the Security Council is a disgrace. The Putin regime is raping, murdering and massacring innocent men, women and children in Ukraine. If the United Nations can’t impose consequences on Putin and his henchmen for those crimes, then Zelensky is right — “the U.N. can simply be dissolved.” – Washington Post  

Jonathan Capehart writes: If war is hell then there are no words to describe the horrific images coming out of Bucha, Ukraine. The video Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed after his speech to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday is confirmation of the barbarity we feared Russian President Vladimir Putin would unleash on the democratic nation. And it is a warning of what could happen to other neighbors if he isn’t stopped. – Washington Post 

Jemima Kelly writes: There might be another lesson to be drawn from all of this as well. In recent years many on both the right and left have become embroiled in a culture of “competitive victimhood”. Ukraine has shown the world not only what genuine victimhood looks like, but also the value of true heroism. – Financial Times 

David Asher writes: US-Russia sanctions are important, but will only work as one element in a comprehensive hybrid warfare strategy. This should have a singular aim: to strangle Putin financially and lay the groundwork so internal opponents can depose him. – Financial Times 

Hal Brands writes: Bad judgment catches up with countries and rulers eventually, just as it is catching up to Putin today, and perhaps with Xi and Orban next. What happens in the meantime is rarely good for anyone. The specter of the cunning, aggressive strongman has long been haunting American strategists. Yet the autocrat whose judgment has been dulled by his own unchallenged authority is menacing enough. – Bloomberg 

Tom Rogan writes: There’s also the possibility that the Biden administration does not actually want Ukraine to win the war fully by dislocating Russian forces from Ukraine. […]For this war to end, Putin must understand that he cannot possibly bear its costs. If the Russian military suffers sufficient losses to its lines of communication, its front lines will collapse. Putin will then have to choose between the bloody implosion of his field army or a face-saving withdrawal. That means giving Ukraine every possible weapon now in order to rout Putin’s forces. – Washington Examiner  

Andrew Latham writes: But one thing is already crystal clear: While the war is not yet over, Ukraine has lost. Grasping that, we must first bring the fighting quickly to an end. Then we must mourn the dead. And, finally, we must get on with the task of rebuilding the country that Vladimir Putin has destroyed. – The Hill 

Jeffrey Kucik writes: Europe’s response to the invasion of Ukraine shows that this decision is not straightforward. While some countries were quick to sanction Russian banks, the much tougher test is reducing reliance on energy imports. Russia is the European Union’s primary gas supplier and moves to cut these ties have been understandably slow. Add to this mix China’s centrality as a global source of manufactured goods, and many of the would-be participants in a new, democratic trade bloc are caught in a difficult position. – The Hill 

Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay write: These challenges will require skillful diplomacy to resolve. As leaders in Washington, Brussels, Tokyo, and other capitals navigate such problems, they should be looking to formalize the cooperation that Putin’s brutality has prompted by creating the core of a new alliance of democracies that many have long called for. In the years to come, there will likely be more geopolitical threats, such as Russian revanchism, and they will need to be countered with strong, institutionalized cooperation among the major democracies. – Foreign Affairs 

Mason Clark, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Karolina Hird write: Russian forces will continue reinforcing the Izyum-Slovyansk axis and attempting to advance to and through Slovyansk to encircle Ukrainian forces. Russia is likely cohering forces in Donbas to attempt a major offensive in the coming days or weeks. […]Some Russian forces are likely to return to home stations in Russia while others will re-enter the fighting in the east. – Institute for the Study of War 

Gary Anderson writes: Although Putin’s stature and reputation are much diminished, President Joe Biden and the other leaders of NATO still appear to reluctant to supply Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy with the Polish aircraft, long-range air defense systems, and the quantity of munitions that the Ukrainians would need to launch a truly effective counteroffensive. That is a shame, as it would be a worthwhile attempt to allow Ukraine to win decisively and quickly. As fighter pilots like to say: “No guts, no glory.” – Military.com 

Scott Sweetow writes: As Russia appears to be pivoting to a more limited goal of securing the Donbas region and creating a land bridge to Crimea, Putin’s prospects for any sort of victory appear increasingly pyrrhic. Whether or not history assesses the Russian adventure as a loss, Russia is going to pay a terrible cost in dead soldiers and billions of dollars in destroyed equipment — a toll that is rising daily. Each insurgency has the potential advantage of copying techniques from those that proceeded it. Ukraine’s high-tech insurgency of drones, vehicle-based explosives, roadside bombs, and projectiles will also increasingly play out on social media. – War on the Rocks 


The top U.S. general said on Thursday that he does not support removing Iran’s Quds Force, an arm of its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), from a list of foreign terrorist organizations. – Reuters 

The two men accused of impersonating federal agents over the course of several years will remain in jail pending a detention hearing Friday, a federal magistrate judge ruled Thursday. … Law enforcement sources told CBS News that investigators are looking into the possibility that the two suspects have ties to Iranian intelligence including to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite component of the Iranian military that conducts special operations, or the Quds force. – CBS News 

The presence of officers from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) at the 2022 Doha International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX), held on March 21-23, garnered extensive media attention. This is especially in light of the fact that the U.S. administration is considering revoking the U.S. designation of the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, as part of efforts to renew the nuclear deal (the JCPOA) with Iran. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

The Counterbalance Podcast returns with hosts Marshall Kosloff and Mike Doran assessing the state of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions with Iran in the Middle East. Primarily, Doran dismantles the politically trendy idea that the U.S. doesn’t need explicitly military tools to deter global threats anymore. – Hudson Institute 

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Spencer Faragasso write: The Institute found a general lack of responsible state actions among the 89 countries that have signed or acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, or TPNW) to date, compared to those countries that have abstained from signing it. […]Notably, Iran has not signed the Ban Treaty, despite voting for the treaty in 2017. Is Iran hesitating to sign because of concerns about its past and possibly ongoing nuclear weapons program?. – Institute for Science and International Security 

Alberto M. Fernandez writes: But the sense in the region is that, JCPOA-2 or not, the confrontation with an already emboldened Iran is almost inevitable – a more direct confrontation than previously seen in past proxy wars – and America is not to be fully counted as being on the Israeli/Arab side. The result could be something we have not seen in the region before, a sort of “regional world war” involving not just attacks on or by proxies but between various states and players at the same time. – Middle East Media Research Institute 



At least two people were killed and eight others injured after a gunman opened fire at pub goers in central Tel Aviv, in what appears to be Israel’s fourth terrorist attack in a little over two weeks. – Wall Street Journal 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock condemned the Thursday evening terrorist attack on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street, labeling the perpetrators “cowards.” in one of the many high-profile international figures reacting to the attack. – Jerusalem Post  

Shouts of joy were heard around the Jenin home of the Dizengoff Street terrorist on Friday morning, KAN reported, joining the chorus of celebration by terrorist organizations and supporters on the streets of Palestinian towns and on social media. – Jerusalem Post 

Josh Rogin writes: The current political turbulence in Israel could open up a chance for a shift in policy — or it could muddle matters further. Regardless, Israel, as the country born out of the Holocaust, has a special responsibility to stand against mass atrocities wherever they occur. As Elie Wiesel said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” – Washington Post 

Amos Harel writes: This security threat, does not only belong to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett but also to Yair Lapid as a transitional prime minister (in the event of an early election). Benny Gantz, too, might have to deal with it, if a Kahol Lavan-Likud government were to be established. Over time, the absence of internal stability in Israel is seen as weakness by the neighboring countries. – Haaretz 


Lebanon and the International Monetary Fund on Thursday reached a tentative agreement for comprehensive economic policies that could eventually pave the way for some relief for the crisis-hit country, after Beirut implements wide-ranging reforms. – Associated Press 

Lebanon’s parliament is ready “with great seriousness” to secure the necessary legislation and reforms to make a programme supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a success, parliament speaker Nabih Berri said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen on Thursday announced a return of their ambassadors to Lebanon in a sign of improving ties that hit rock bottom last year when the kingdom and other Gulf states withdrew their envoys. – Reuters 


Months after a rebel movement aligned with Iran seized control of Yemen’s capital in 2014, Saudi Arabia pulled together a military coalition and unleashed a rain of bombs aimed at driving the rebels back to their homes in the mountains. It didn’t work. Instead, it set off an escalating cycle of violence that heavily damaged Yemen’s cities and killed an untold number of civilians while creating new threats to the global oil supply and maritime traffic around the Arabian Peninsula. – New York Times  

Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who ceded his powers to a presidential council on Thursday, fell foul of foes and allies in his efforts to cling to power from exile in Saudi Arabia, while often blocked from visiting his war-torn nation. – Reuters 

James Phillips and Nicole Robinson write: The Biden Administration should adopt a more balanced and effective strategy for ending the war in Yemen through negotiations. That goal can be reached only after Houthi efforts to score a military victory have been defeated, but the Houthis and their Iranian backers have interpreted the Administration’s policies, however well-intentioned, not as a sign of U.S. goodwill but as a sign of weakness. This has encouraged the Houthis to seek a military victory and has intensified the threat they pose to Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as to American citizens living in those countries and Yemen. – Heritage Foundation 

Gerald M. Feierstein writes: Beyond the ability of the new government to paper over differences in the anti-Houthi coalition and provide the degree of governance needed to carry Yemen into a political process is the question of Houthi reaction. Specifically, will the Houthis see the changes in government leadership as an invitation to engage in the U.N.-led peace process? – Middle East Institute 

Middle East & North Africa

As many as four Americans were injured after shelling at a base used by U.S. forces in Syria, while a rocket attack hit an oil field in Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. – Wall Street Journal 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez met with King Mohammed VI of Morocco, seemingly ending a years-long feud between Madrid and its biggest African business partner that had imperiled economic and security cooperation. – Bloomberg 

On March 30, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Algeria, an ally of Russia and one of the major gas producers Europe depends on, following the increase in prices from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Blinken’s message was clear: Algeria should limit its ties with Russia, join efforts to secure gas for Europe, and improve diplomatic relations with its neighbor, Morocco, which it declared war on in November. – Washington Examiner 

Omar Abu Layla writes: All of these issues cast a shadow on Russia‘s power in Syria. Its interest in Syria has naturally diminished since the outbreak of its war against Ukraine. As Russia shifts its resources away from Syria and reallocates them to fight in Ukraine, a vaccuum of power will continue to widen for Iran, which is already seeking to expand its control. – Washington Institute 

Korean Peninsula

South Korea’s incoming president, who has promised to take a tougher stance on North Korea, hasn’t taken office yet. The tone between Seoul and Pyongyang is already getting more adversarial. – Wall Street Journal 

North Korea is demolishing a South Korean-owned hotel at a North Korean resort that was one of the last symbols of inter-Korean engagement, according to Seoul officials who called for the North to stop the “unilateral” destruction. – Associated Press  

North Korea might be considering conducting a nuclear test next week to coincide with national celebrations to mark the birthday of its deceased founder, the Biden administration’s point man for Pyongyang warned. – Bloomberg 


Contracts between China’s top state-owned shipbuilding firm and Taiwan’s leading shipping company are likely lowering the costs of upgrading China’s navy, posing security concerns for the island claimed by Beijing, a U.S. think tank said on Thursday. – Reuters  

Taiwan’s spy catchers have launched probes into around 100 Chinese companies suspected of illegally poaching semiconductor engineers and other tech talent, a senior official at the island’s Investigation Bureau told Reuters. – Reuters 

Dozens of Chinese firms have built software that uses artificial intelligence to sort data collected on residents, amid high demand from authorities seeking to upgrade their surveillance tools, a Reuters review of government documents shows. – Reuters 

China’s abstentions on U.N. votes to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are a “win”, said the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, underscoring how Beijing’s balancing act between its partner Russia and the West may be the best outcome for Washington. – Reuters 

Matthew P. Funaiole, Brian Hart, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. write: Given CSSC’s lack of transparency and its central role in supporting the PLAN, foreign companies should exercise more caution when engaging with it and other Chinese shipbuilders.  For democracies, especially those in the region that must weather the brunt of China’s rising assertiveness, these ties are more than just worrying. They present a tangible threat to national security. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Julian G. Ku writes: China is either so committed to Russia that it will abandon a core principle of the U.N. Charter it once valorized—or it sees itself as a nation that does not need to be bound by such rules. Neither option is attractive, and both require us to rethink the nature of China’s position in the global order and the viability of such principles as the prohibition on the use of force in that order. – Foreign Policy 

South Asia

Pakistan’s top court ruled Thursday that Prime Minister Imran Khan acted unconstitutionally when he dissolved Parliament in an effort to avoid a vote of no-confidence, setting the stage for lawmakers to vote him out of office. – Wall Street Journal 

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the country on Friday evening after the Supreme Court overturned his plan to hold an election, a move that could bring the opposition to power within days. – Bloomberg 

India is optimistic about talks next week with the U.S. on military cooperation even as the Biden administration becomes more vocal in rebuking New Delhi over its reluctance to criticize Russia’s war in Ukraine, people familiar with the matter said. – Bloomberg  

Javid Ahmad writes: Pakistan’s next government likely will try to make amends with Washington, but no U.S. economic incentives will change Pakistan’s perennial mistrust of America as a partner. Despite the court’s ruling against Mr. Khan, he is there to stay. Whether he is ousted in a no-confidence vote or resigns, he will double down on his nationalist platform and conspiracies to mobilize his base for the coming elections. America faces a rapidly changing and unmanageable Pakistan as Imran Khan becomes even more dangerous. – Wall Street Journal 

Charlie Campbell writes: To win an election without military backing would be a feat even more remarkable than Khan’s fabled 1992 cricketing triumph. Still, the attacks Khan has weathered over the last week have already roused the PTI rank and file, energizing supporters whom Khan has already ordered out onto the street in a show of force, heightening the always looming specter of political violence. – TIME 

Katherine B. Hadda writes: The U.S.-India partnership will likely continue to grow. Many of the countries’ strategic interests will remain aligned for the foreseeable future, including concerns over Chinese aggression, the need for pandemic preparedness, and a desire to create more diversified and resilient regional manufacturing supply chains. Because Indian states will continue to play a key role in how much of the bilateral agenda plays out, state elections and governance warrant close attention by U.S. policymakers and other Americans who have a stake in U.S.-India ties. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


U.S. authorities have arrested a leader of a Japanese crime syndicate on charges of plotting to distribute drugs in the United States and purchase weapons including U.S.-made surface-to-air missiles, prosecutors said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Japan will unveil further sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine as early as Friday after coordinating with Group of Seven (G7) allies on further punitive steps, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Australia will impose financial sanctions and travel bans on an additional 67 Russians over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Thursday, taking the total number of people and entities sanctioned to almost 600. – Reuters 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it had imposed entry bans on 228 Australian government members and lawmakers, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in response to sanctions from Canberra. – Reuters 

Australia is expected to trigger a national election in the coming days, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison seeking to clear thorny political issues as his three-year term nears its end. – Reuters 

Australia will donate 20 Bushmaster armored combat vehicles to Ukraine following a direct request from President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the locally-made equipment to help repel the Russian invasion. – Bloomberg 

Policymakers and companies in Japan and South Korea are making moves to curb Russian coal imports, adding to pressure on Moscow after the European Union imposed a ban on its fuel. – Bloomberg 

Ariel Cohen writes: The war in Ukraine may be the opening salvo of a much broader conflict that will engulf the world. Central Asia is a critical theater as it is surrounded by the four nuclear powers—Russia, China, Pakistan and India—and the aspirant Iran. Controlling this area will be critical to combating the hegemonic aspirations of Moscow and Beijing. – Wall Street Journal 

Gregory Gleason writes: Western partners should encourage rather than fight this trend. Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are too dependent and too vulnerable to be expected to act independently. But their economic activity is so marginal that it will not weaken the sanctions. Turkmenistan can be expected to retain its “positive neutrality.” Georgia’s position regarding Russia is unambiguous. The states that matter are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. […]But key people in these countries know the sanctions are “pro-Ukraine,” not “anti-Russian.” They know the sanctions are not against them, and they don’t want to be dragged into the Kremlin’s slipstream. That is exactly why they should be helped. – War on the Rocks  

Harry Halem and Eyck Freymann write: Taiwan faces formidable geographic and technological disadvantages in the face of a looming military threat from the mainland. Air defenses are not a silver bullet, but Ukraine has proven that they are a valuable asymmetric tool. By helping Taiwan build a resilient and layered network of air defenses, the United States won’t just help Taipei gain the capacity to buy time in a direct confrontation. It will also go a long way toward deterring such a confrontation in the first place. – War on the Rocks 


In the international game of spy vs. spy, Europe has dealt Russia a potentially crippling blow. Nearly two dozen European countries have expelled hundreds of Russian government personnel from embassies and consulates since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February and more recently was accused of war crimes against civilians. A significant number are probably spies posing as diplomats, according to U.S. and European officials. – Washington Post 

Leading candidates for the French presidency staged their final campaign rallies on Thursday, three days before a vote that appears increasingly likely to result in a tight runoff between President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen. – Washington Post 

The top Ukrainian diplomat made a pointed appeal to NATO on Thursday to expedite arms supplies to Ukrainian forces, weaponry he said is urgently needed before Russia launches an expected offensive in the eastern part of the country. – Washington Post 

France — Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader making her third attempt to become president of France, already had the backing of voters who came to listen to her recently in Stiring-Wendel, a former coal-mining town struggling to reinvent itself. – New York Times 

Finland will clarify next steps regarding a possible decision to seek NATO membership in the coming weeks, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters after attending a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Thursday. – Reuters 

Nato is stuck on a cold war footing in Europe and needs to acknowledge its eastern expansion by deploying far more forces in the Baltic states to repel a potential Russian attack, according to Estonia’s prime minister. – Financial Times 

Joseph C. Sternberg writes: The threat to the European Union has never been that charity cases such as Hungary will leave the bloc. The danger is that the large creditor states will give up if or when they conclude the EU no longer serves their values. Mr. Orbán’s genius is to find a way to profit politically from giving Brussels its own opportunity to virtue-signal. It feels like a piece of bad performance art, although to suggest either side planned it is to give them both too much credit. – Wall Street Journal 

Harrison Stetler writes: In 2022, France’s political culture is becoming a circle, with Mr. Bolloré drawing the circumference. Whoever wins the election, Mr. Bolloré will probably reflect on a job well done. – New York Times 

Grzegorz Kolodko writes: Taken together, a European fund, debt cancellation and Chinese assistance would give a tremendous boost to Ukraine’s recovery from the war’s destruction. As soon as political conditions permit, Ukraine must be helped economically, because it cannot cope on its own. – Financial Times  

Chris Bryant writes: The crux of the problem is that while Germany is scouring the world for alternative gas supplies, these won’t be sufficient to fill a Russian shortfall in the near-term and the required liquified natural gas infrastructure isn’t ready yet. So if Russian gas imports are halted now, Germany would likely face shortages by the winter. Households and social services that rely on gas for heating have priority. Therefore parts of German industry might have to curtail production or shut down. – Bloomberg 

Therese Raphael writes: Ukraine will need supplies for reservists and recruits who are being sent to the front as beleaguered forces there are rotated out. NATO countries need to facilitate the transition of some of Ukraine’s defenses, including air defenses, to platforms that can be better supported (at a time when those countries are worried about their own supply). There is also a pressing need for humanitarian support and economic aid to keep the economy from colapse. – Bloomberg 

Gen. Wesley Clark writes: But to lead, the Biden administration must recalibrate its own strategy. Ukraine is not a distraction from its long-term alignment to deter and thwart China. Rather, Ukraine is the key to strengthening trans-Atlantic unity, assuring greater stability in Europe and dissuading bloated Chinese ambitions. Strengthening Ukraine — giving it the tools it needs to secure its own territory — must be the first order of business for the United States and our NATO allies. If we seek to avoid World War III, this is the moment to arm Ukraine. – New York Post 

Mariana Budjeryn writes: But it is not too late to help Ukraine defend itself and, in so doing, defend the nonproliferation regime. Ukraine should have everything it needs in terms of armor, air and coastal defenses, aircraft, and intelligence support to successfully repel the Russian invasion and recover its territory. The United States and the United Kingdom should also communicate clear redlines—such as the use of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons—that if crossed would prompt them to reconsider their nonintervention stance. – Foreign Affairs 

Péter Krekó writes: Hungary now lacks an effective opposition, leaving the administration is free to behave much as it wishes. Attacks on the judiciary, the last, still partially free branch of government, could become more acute, and free speech might become still more constrained, while a fast-deteriorating economy might push the administration towards greater authoritarianism, especially if popular discontent rises. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


The top U.N. envoy in Mali demanded Thursday that the country’s military leaders allow U.N. peacekeepers to visit a town where Human Rights Watch says the Malian army and foreign soldiers suspected to be Russian recently killed an estimated 300 men, one of several alleged rights abuses denounced by the U.S., Britain and France. – Associated Press 

Sudan’s coup leaders were warned against pushing through a deal for a new transitional government that formalizes the army’s grip on power, with people familiar with the proposal saying it wouldn’t lead to the resumption of crucial Western aid. – Bloomberg 

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that all trials of terrorism cases in Nigeria will henceforth be held in camera. – Reuters 

The Americas

Peru’s prime minister Thursday cited Adolf Hitler as a model in infrastructure development who turned Germany into a “leading economic power in the world,” a comment that drew outrage as his country continued to descend into political chaos. – Washington Post  

Peru’s government on Thursday ordered its armed forces to supervise the country’s highways for the next month, amid crippling protests nationwide over rising food and fuel prices. – Reuters  

The Biden administration is not doing enough to forge a long-term alliance with Brazil, Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s head of the international affairs division, told a press conference in Sao Paulo on Thursday. – Reuters 

Mexico will hold its first presidential recall referendum on Sunday, promoted by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on whether he should complete his six-year term — an exercise that has split public opinion. – Agence France-Presse 

The number of Ukrainians arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum in the United States since Russia’s invasion of its neighbor has more than doubled in less than a week, officials said. – Reuters  

After weeks of tough talk about defense spending, Justin Trudeau’s government unveiled a budget Thursday with only an incremental boost for Canada’s military. – Politico 


Facebook owner Meta Platforms (FB.O) said on Thursday it had removed a network of social media accounts with ties to the Brazilian military that posed as fake nonprofits to play down the dangers of deforestation. – Reuters 

Microsoft Corp says it has disrupted hacking attempts by Russian military spies aimed at breaking into Ukrainian, European Union, and U.S. targets. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Denys Iarmak, a high-level member of the criminal hacking group FIN7, was sentenced to five years in prison today by a U.S. judge. – CyberScoop 

U.S. Cyber Command has played a pivotal role in shielding networks and critical infrastructure stateside and abroad in the run up to and during Russia’s attack on Ukraine, its leader told Congress this week. – C4ISRNET 

Several Russian and Belarusian social media campaigns that targeted Ukrainians with espionage over the last two months have been disrupted by Meta, the company said Thursday in a new security report. – The Record 


The Navy that once wanted smaller, speedy warships to chase down pirates has made a speedy pivot to Russia and China — and many of those recently built ships could be retired. – Associated Press 

The supply chain crisis exacerbated by the pandemic drove the Pentagon to focus new attention on its crucial but shrinking industrial base, Navy officials said Tuesday. – USNI News 

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

The Senate on Thursday unanimously confirmed two key Defense Department officials, one for the Navy’s No. 2 civilian role and another to lead the office of acquisition and sustainment. – Defense News 

While the U.S. Navy is steaming full speed ahead in developing unmanned surface and undersea drones to augment the fleet of the future, the information technology and artificial intelligence that will drive these platforms remains a work in progress. The sea service needs to better map out its efforts, according to a government watchdog report released this week. – Defense News 

The Pentagon’s fiscal 2023 budget request includes a “huge jump” for hypersonic weapons testing and facilities, something the defense industry has sought, according to the department’s head of research and development. – Defense News 

The $1 billion in new money to track hypersonic missiles included in the Space Force’s fiscal 2023 budget request will be split among several different efforts, to include bringing the current “digital design” study of new satellites in the little-used Medium Earth Orbit into the “real,” according to a senior official at the service’s acquisition command. – Breaking Defense 

Quin Hillyer writes: In all, national security spending under Biden’s plan would reach $813 billion in 2023, just a 3% increase, even as inflation is roaring at well above 6%. By contrast, Biden proposes that domestic spending, which already has risen hugely for 20 years and by astronomical amounts in the past half-decade, receive yet another $100 billion increase, 14% above this year’s levels. The president’s priorities are way out of whack. It’s almost as if Biden is embarrassed by the idea that the U.S. or its just interests are worth defending. – Washington Examiner 

Frederico Bartels writes: There is also a clear, dismaying gap between what the budget says the Pentagon needs to protect America’s interests and what its own interim national security strategy document calls for. The administration accompanied its budget release with a short fact sheet outlining its yet-to-be published National Defense Strategy. – RealClear Defense