Fdd's overnight brief

August 1, 2022

In The News

Russia & Ukraine

The key Black Sea port of Mykolaiv suffered on Sunday “one of the most brutal shellings” since the war began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, as dozens of Russian rockets destroyed homes, schools and infrastructure. Among those killed in the city was one of Ukraine’s richest business executives, who founded an agriculture company that helped facilitate the country’s grain exports. – Washington Post

Though Russia has complained that Bout was entrapped by the DEA, many U.S. officials and analysts believe that its anger is not linked to the merits of the case, but rather Bout’s links to Russian military intelligence. – Washington Post

Amnesty International and the European Union have backed Kyiv in calling for an investigation into footage circulating online that appears to show pro-Russian forces castrating and executing a captive Ukrainian fighter. – Washington Post

Federal authorities charged a Russian man Friday with a years-long malign influence campaign targeting American politics — alleging that he used American groups in Florida, Georgia and California to sow discord and push pro-Russia propaganda. – Washington Post

Dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war from the famed Azov Regiment were killed Friday in a strike against their detention center in the Russian-occupied eastern region of Donbas, but it was unclear how the attack happened or who carried it out. – Washington Post

The first ship carrying grain departed a Ukrainian port early Monday under a United Nations-brokered deal to ease a global food crisis sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The departure of the cargo vessel loaded with corn from Odessa came despite fears that the deal, signed in Istanbul in late July, would fall apart after a recent Russian attack on the port. – Washington Post 

Anatoly Chubais, who resigned as a top Kremlin adviser shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was hospitalized on Sunday in a western European country in critical condition with the symptoms of a rare neurological disorder. – New York Times

The International Committee of the Red Cross has not received confirmation that it will be allowed to visit the detention center where dozens of Ukrainian prisoners were killed in an explosion, the organization said in a statement on Sunday. – New York Times

A senior U.S. Defense Department official acknowledged those advances at a news briefing on Friday and said there was growing evidence that steep Russian losses had left some units ill-prepared to fight. – New York Times

The top Russian and American diplomats spoke on Friday for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, to discuss a possible prisoner swap involving the American basketball star Brittney Griner. Although no breakthrough was reported, it marked a resumption of direct communication between Washington and Moscow. – New York Times

The U.S. Senate supports it unanimously. So does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and the Ukrainian Parliament. But Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is not so sure. For weeks, pressure has mounted on Mr. Blinken to formally declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, a label currently reserved for North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Iran. – New York Times

Russia has invited experts from the United Nations and the Red Cross to probe the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners in a jail held by Moscow-backed separatists, the defence ministry said on Sunday. In a statement, the ministry said it was acting “in the interests of conducting an objective investigation” into what it called an attack on the jail earlier in the week – Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Washington was not living up to promises regarding the exemption from sanctions for the supply of food from Russia, Moscow said. – Reuters

A week into Moscow’s war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a gesture of solidarity with his soldiers at the front: injured men could claim compensation of three million roubles, equivalent to about $50,000 or the amount an average Russian worker would earn in four years. – Reuters

A small explosive device carried by a makeshift drone blew up Sunday at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean Peninsula, wounding six people and prompting the cancellation of ceremonies there honoring Russia’s navy, authorities said. – Associated Press

There was already plenty of trouble to talk about when a major U.N. meeting on the landmark Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was originally supposed to happen in 2020. Now the pandemic-postponed conference finally starts Monday as Russia’s war in Ukraine has reanimated fears of nuclear confrontation and cranked up the urgency of trying to reinforce the 50-year-old treaty. – Associated Press

Russian missiles pounded the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv, killing the owner of a major grain exporter, while a drone strike hit Russia’s Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol. Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said more than 12 missile strikes, probably the most powerful on the city in five months of war, hit homes and schools, with two people confirmed killed and three wounded. Missile strikes continued into Sunday evening. – Reuters

Britain said on Monday that Russia had continued to attempt tactical assaults on the Bakhmut axis in eastern Ukraine over the last four days, but had only managed to make slow progress. – Reuters

Britain’s defence minister Ben Wallace said on Friday that Russia was failing in “many areas” in its war in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin might seek to change strategy again. – Reuters

European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday condemned the atrocities committed by Russian armed forces and their proxies in Ukraine. “The European Union actively supports all measures to ensure accountability for human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law committed during the Russian aggression in Ukraine,” Borrell said in a statement. – Reuters

Ukraine’s security agencies on Friday demanded the United Nations and Red Cross immediately react to killing of prisoners of war in a Russian-held jail, noting the two bodies had given guarantees the detainees would be well treated- Reuters

Ukraine’s president visited a Black Sea port on Friday to show his country is ready to start exporting grain under a U.N.-brokered deal aimed at easing global food shortages, and said Kyiv was awaiting the signal for the first shipment – Reuters

Moscow and Kyiv on Friday accused each other of bombing a jail holding Ukrainian prisoners of war in Russian-held territory, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying more than 50 were killed and calling the attack a war crime. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: After decades of complacent dependence on Russia, European nations are scrambling to adopt new plans to reduce energy use and expand sustainable wind and solar power. The war in Ukraine ought to catalyze similar investments by the United States, which is a net energy exporter but remains dependent on fossil fuel imports. – New York Times

Editorial: As in this country, Canada and Britain have established sponsorship programs, among other methods of entry, under which Ukrainians are resettled in homes. Under the U.S. version of that arrangement, called Uniting for Ukraine, roughly 30,000 migrants have been resettled, and another 30,000 or so have been approved for travel. Applications from would-be sponsors continue to roll in at a brisk pace; many are Ukrainian Americans around New York and Chicago. In Britain and Canada, too, tens of thousands more migrants are expected in the coming months. – Washington Post

Editorial: In its sweeping reach into domestic society, foreign affairs, and the military, the FSB has begun to look less like its late-Soviet predecessor, the KGB. It now resembles something much scarier: the NKVD, Stalin’s notorious secret police, which conducted the great purges of the 1930s.” There have been 16,403 detentions of people taking a stance against the war in Ukraine since it began. These are once again dark days for Russia. – Washington Post

Serge Schmemann writes: But it is more important that American citizens should know that if they are imprisoned in a country with a dubious legal system, the U.S. government will do all it can to get them back. “I am an American citizen” should carry the full faith and promise of the American government, no matter where in the world those words are spoken. And that is as true for Mr. Fogel as it is for Ms. Griner or Mr. Whelan. – New York Times

Julian Lee writes: This will be the first OPEC+ meeting in more than a year without a pre-agreed output plan. That ought to allow the group to make a proper assessment of what the world really needs from it, but I fear the heavy hand of the Kremlin will forestall any meaningful attempt to bring down oil prices. – Bloomberg

Will Marshall writes: These steps would demonstrate U.S. and European resolve to win today’s test of wills with Putin. If he succeeds in biting off large chunks of Ukraine and destabilizing the democratic government of Volodymyr Zelensky, he wouldn’t stop there. Moldova, another former Soviet province also plagued by pro-Russia separatists, fears that it will be next. Putin’s bellicose expansionism poses the greatest threat to European peace and security since the Cold War ended. It will require sacrifice and steady nerves, but the NATO allies have all the tools they need to stop him in Ukraine. – The Hill

James M. Dubik writes: The war at both levels is worth fighting. And both, worth winning. Preventing future war starts with stopping Putin in Ukraine. Those who are suggesting that we negotiate with Putin now are not thinking about what’s at stake should Putin’s aggression pay off. The Zelensky government, the Ukraine people, and its allied supporters still have the ability to write the outcome. – The Hill 


The U.S. is considering sanctions that would target a United Arab Emirates-based businessman and a network of companies suspected of helping export Iran’s oil, part of a broader effort to escalate diplomatic pressure on Tehran as U.S. officials push to reach a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. – Wall Street Journal  

A man was arrested on Friday after he was found with a loaded AK-47 assault rifle outside the Brooklyn home of an Iranian American journalist who was the target of an international kidnapping plot said to be orchestrated by an Iranian intelligence network last year, according to the journalist, a court document and a person briefed on the matter. – New York Times

 Iran has responded to top European Union diplomat Josep Borrell’s proposal aimed at salvaging Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, and seeks a swift conclusion to negotiations, the top Iranian nuclear negotiator said on Sunday. – Reuters

Talks to revive the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers will “probably” resume within days in Vienna, a senior Iranian lawmaker told the semi-official ISNA in an interview. – Bloomberg

Iran has the technical capability to produce an atomic bomb but has no intention of doing so, Mohammad Eslami, head of the country’s atomic energy organisation, said on Monday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. – Reuters

Iranian agents have arrested a Swedish citizen suspected of spying, the intelligence ministry said Saturday. The statement said the suspect was in touch with several other figures in Iran, and has visited Israel, Iran’s foe. The statement accused Sweden of proxy spying for Israel. There was no immediate response from Sweden. – Associated Press

As prominent cultural figures in Iran urge the authorities to stop using force against protesting civilians, Tehran is resorting to arrests and the activation of old jail sentences in an attempt to silence them. It is a well-worn tactic of class warfare, observers say, that is intended to prevent dissent from spreading from the marginalized masses to the country’s more urban and affluent. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iran expert Ben Sabti tweeted that an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “Telegram channel threatens to produce atomic warhead for missiles,” citing the channel’s message: “Iran can immediately return to Emad project and build an atomic bomb if Natanz facilities are attacked.” – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Clearly Iran is plotting to take advantage of the global crises, openly saying what it wants to do. The regime has been trying to develop north-south rail and transport lines for years so that it can hook up Turkey with southern Iran and also develop links to Central Asia and Pakistan or even India.  – Jerusalem Post


Clashes between Taliban forces and Iran border guards on Sunday have left at least one dead on the Afghanistan side, an Afghan police official said. “We have one killed and one wounded; the cause of the clash is not clear yet,” the police spokesman of the southern Afghan province of Nimroze, Bahram Haqmal, told Reuters. – Reuters

China will resume issuing visas to Afghans from August 1 and allow 98% of Afghan imports to enter tax free, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday. Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced the measures when he met Afghanistan’s Taliban-appointed foreign affairs chief in Uzbekistan on Thursday, according to a statement on the ministry website. – Reuters 

Rights groups also accuse the regime of reviving the brutality that characterised their insurgency and previous rule. While the Taliban last year announced an amnesty for members of the former government and armed forces, international monitors have alleged multiple violations. – Financial Times

An explosion has occurred inside Kabul’s main cricket stadium during a domestic league match, killing at least two people and briefly halting the game, officials said. The blast happened at a match between Band-e-Amir Dragons and Pamir Zalmi in the Afghan domestic T20 league at the Kabul International Cricket Stadium packed with hundreds of spectators on July 29. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Shabana Basij-Rasikh writes: Many girls in these camps have not had schooling of any kind for a year or even longer. To ignore these girls is to do the Taliban’s job for them. The men who rule my nation fear what an educated girl can become and what an educated woman can create. I say, let them fear us. They remember who led the way in reviving Afghanistan after the demise of their first regime. By investing in the education of Afghan refugees, we work to make that past prologue. – Washington Post

Ashraf Haidari writes: What is more, UNAMA’s report misleadingly blames the “majority” of the “2106 civilian casualties (700 killed, 1406)” on the Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISKP) without pointing out the fact that inorganic ISKP could hardly emerge and operate in Afghanistan without the enabling ideological and operational ecosystem that the “de facto government” has provided not just for Al Qaeda and ISKP but also for a large number of other major global and regional terrorist networks. – National Interest

Raffaello Pantucci and Alexandros Petersen write: China is still concerned about its security interests in Afghanistan, but, as in the past, its answer has been to largely seal itself off, hardening its own and nearby borders. Through a web of multilateral engagements, China has offered itself as a host and discussant but never a moderator—in other words, China is willing to be involved but does not want to take the key role of confronting actors and forcing them to resolve their issues. Beijing is certainly doing more than it did before, but it is clear that it is not going to step into a leadership role. – Foreign Policy


Turkey’s foreign minister urged Germany on Friday to be “an honest broker” and not always side with Athens in disputes between Turkey and Greece. Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made the comments during a tense news conference with his visiting German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, where the two volleyed grievances back and forth, including over Turkey’s plans for a new military incursion into Syria and its human rights issues. – Associated Press

Turkish and German foreign ministers argued over a range of issues in a tense and drawn-out news conference on Friday, trading barbs over disputes between Ankara and Athens, jailed Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala and Kurdish militants. – Reuters

A Russian state-owned company is transferring money to a subsidiary that’s building a $20 billion nuclear power plant on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, alleviating concerns the project could be delayed by war sanctions. – Bloomberg

The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain has set off from the port of Odesa, Turkey’s defense ministry said Monday. The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship, Razoni left the port of Odesa for Lebanon, the ministry said. A statement from the United Nations said the Razoni is carrying over 26,000 tons of corn. – Associated Press

Neville Teller writes: If he carries out his plan, Erdogan will undoubtedly enhance his political standing at home, ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2023. So it is odds-on that Erdogan’s new offensive will take place, and that vast numbers of reluctant Syrian refugees will be relocated to his “safe zone.” – Jerusalem Post


Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday upped pressure on the United Nations to disband a commission investigating Israel, appealing to the secretary-general over “anti-Semitic” remarks from a member of the body. – Agence France-Presse

 Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank on Friday, killing a 16-year old and wounding five people, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. – Associated Press

Lebanon’s Hezbollah on Sunday aired drone footage of Israeli ships in a disputed gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, highlighting the tension at the center of U.S.-mediated maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel. – Associated Press

By beating war drums and ramping up military provocations, Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group has been doing everything to indicate it is ready to wage war with Israel over offshore gas extraction near a disputed maritime border between the countries. – Times of Israel

Israel’s security cabinet on Sunday voted to withhold almost $180 million from tax revenue that the country collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), to offset funds paid to families of Palestinian terrorists. – Algemeiner

13 Palestinian terror suspects were arrested overnight Sunday, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced. All are affiliated with Hamas. – Jerusalem Post

The Trump administration’s decision to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem was almost scrapped due to then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indifference toward the move, Jared Kushner wrote in his upcoming memoir. – Jerusalem Post

The Israel Air Force will be halting training flights for its squadrons of F-35 Adir stealth fighter jets after the United States military grounded its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet over a problem with the ejection seats. – Jerusalem Post

The Hamas terror group on Sunday claimed that a facility where the body of an Israeli soldier was being held captive was bombed in an IDF airstrike during last May’s fighting. – Times of Israel

The families of dozens of Palestinians held in Palestinian Authority prisons and detention centers have called for the release of the detainees. The families and Palestinian human rights activists claimed that some of the detainees were brutally tortured while being held in the PA’s Jericho Prison, which is notoriously referred to by many Palestinians as the “Jericho Slaughterhouse.” – Jerusalem Post

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman went rogue when he told then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Trump administration would back plans to annex large parts of the West Bank, ex-White House senior adviser Jared Kushner maintains in a new book slated to be published later this month. – Times of Israel

Editorial: The time has come to put an end to the farce. The Commission of Inquiry into Israel does nothing to further peace. On the contrary, it empowers and emboldens those terrorist organizations that would like to destroy Israel. Ultimately, the UN’s bias and double standards harm that once august body as much as they harm Israel. – Jerusalem Post


Influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for changing Iraq’s constitution and election procedures a day after his supporters occupied its parliament building, deepening his standoff with an alliance of Iran-backed Shiite rivals. In a statement released on Twitter, Mr. Sadr called the takeover of the parliament a “revolution” and an “opportunity for radical change” in the political process that shouldn’t be wasted – Wall Street Journal  

Iraqi protesters loyal to the nationalist Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr thronged Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone for the second time in a week on Saturday to prevent the formation of a new government. – New York Times

A retired British geologist jailed in Iraq for antiquities smuggling has been freed and has left the country, his family said Sunday. Jim Fitton, 66, was sentenced in June to 15 years in an Iraqi prison. A Baghdad appeals court overturned the conviction and last week ordered his release. – Associated Press


Lebanese authorities said Friday that they were investigating a Ukrainian claim that a Syrian ship under U.S. sanctions that docked in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli was carrying Ukrainian grain stolen by Russia. – New York Times

US envoy Amos Hochstein arrived in Beirut Sunday to push talks to resolve a bitter maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel over Mediterranean waters with offshore gas fields. – Agence France-Presse

Discrimination and violence against Syrian refugees in Lebanon has soared in recent weeks as the country grapples with high food prices and shortages, the U.N. refugee agency told the Associated Press on Friday. – Associated Press

Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun stated that security forces “will not allow chaos or strife to find its way to our country,” addressing military personnel on the occasion of 77th Army Day. […] The army chief’s warning came as Lebanese protesters stormed the Ministry of Energy in Beirut on Thursday, chanting: “We will continue the journey as free revolutionists until the fall of the thugs’ rule.” – Arab News

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi expressed outrage at the treatment of Maronite clerics and demanded that the Lebanese government meet the church’s demands during a sermon Sunday, after Maronite Archbishop of Haifa and the Holy Land Moussa El-Hage was reportedly detained recently while carrying money and aid from Lebanese people living in Israel to their relatives in Lebanon. – Jerusalem Post

Herb Keinon writes: If indeed Hochstein can mediate an agreement between Israel and Lebanon, and it is an agreement in which Israel makes some concessions on the Qana field, Nasrallah will try to take credit, saying it was his organization’s threats that led to these concessions. In that scenario, the interests of Israel, the US and the Lebanese government will coincide: to make clear that Hezbollah’s bluster and threats had nothing to do with it at all. – Jerusalem Post


After more than a year of brittle stability, Libya is again tipping toward the chaos that shattered it after rebels overthrew Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi, the dictator of more than 40 years, in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. The upheaval left this North African country split in half, east and west, carved up by two rival governments and dozens of rival militias that operate above the law. – New York Times

A Virginia judge has entered a default judgment against a Libyan military commander after he repeatedly failed to show up for depositions in a federal lawsuit in which he is accused of war crimes. – Associated Press

The U.N. Security Council voted Thursday to extend its political mission in Libya, but at Russia’s insistence for only three months rather than a year-long mandate. The council’s three African members abstained to protest Russia’s blocking the longer extension they say is needed to help the divided country move to elections and stability. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

Pressure is mounting in the United States for the United Arab Emirates to release a Virginia lawyer who represented Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist who was murdered and dismembered by Saudi agents in 2018. – New York Times

Thousands of protesters marching towards Sudan’s presidential palace were blocked by police firing tear gas, as an anti-military campaign entered its 10th month. Protests have continued weekly since an Oct. 25 military takeover that halted a transition to democracy and plunged the country into turmoil. – Reuters 

Israel will accelerate the process of establishing the Jordan Gate, a shared industrial zone with Jordan, the cabinet decided on Sunday. Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Jordanian King Abdullah II finalized the plans during the former’s visit to Amman last week. Former prime minister Naftali Bennett previously put the project on hold, after Jordan’s prime minister praised Palestinians who assaulted Israelis in April. – Jerusalem Post

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI used an address on Saturday to “once again” reiterate his openness to restoring ties with Algeria, which broke off diplomatic relations with Rabat last year. – Arutz Sheva

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In addition, Turkey’s conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in northern Iraq also harms civilian life. It appears that Ankara has expanded its war in northern Iraq, meaning that the stability of the Kurdistan region is threatened. – Jerusalem Post

Alan Baker writes: Facilitating international funding for supporting and encouraging Palestinian terror, including providing funds for salaries and benefits of terrorists serving prison sentences, would appear to be the very antithesis of any genuine, positive and bona fide international action to encourage human rights, peace and stability in the Middle East. – Jerusalem Post

Zalman Shoval writes: Perhaps one of the most important benefits of Biden’s visit to Israel, was his signaling to the anti-Israel elements – and in part antisemitic wing of the Democratic Party which supports BDS, opposes military aid to Israel and calls for sanctions against it – that the moderate majority in the Democratic Party will be steadfast in its support of the Jewish State. – Jerusalem Post

Syed Fraz Hussain Naqvi writes: The U.S.-led MEAD could be a threat to their regional objectives; therefore, a strong response is inevitable. Fifth, Biden’s shift toward the GCC states is a source of discomfort for Washington’s Indo-Pacific allies. While the United States has been calling for a “rules-based order” in Indo-Pacific, its policy in the Middle East reflects an “interest-based order.” Hence, America’s renewed focus on the Middle East may compromise its Indo-Pacific objectives, with its allies in the region bearing the costs – National Interest

Ibrahim Jalal writes: One looming fear among many Yemenis is that, under such a situation, the cycle of violence would resume in a more internalized manner, especially along the Marib front. In that event, two questions would arise: whether these revived hostilities would constitute the end of the truce, and whether the Saudi-led coalition would be willing to re-employ air power to prevent the fall of Marib. The answers to both questions will have consequences for the lives and livelihoods of millions of Yemenis. – Middle East Institute

Fatima Abo Alasrar writes: The U.S. must also prove that it is not just driven to re-engage with Saudi Arabia and other countries for the sake of responding to a global crisis like the war on Ukraine or to domestic economic challenges at home, but that it is committed to re-engaging because it understands the value of these partnerships in the long run and the benefits they can yield for the stability of the region. – Middle East Institute


China said its most powerful rocket fell back to Earth, as NASA criticized Beijing for failing to share crucial data about its trajectory. The Long March 5B rocket, which weighs more than 1.8 million pounds, blasted off from the Wenchang spaceport on July 24 — carrying another module to China’s first permanent space station, Tiangong, which is in the process of being constructed. – Washington Post

The United States has seen no evidence of looming Chinese military activity against Taiwan, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday when asked about a possible visit to the island by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. – Reuters 

China accused the United States of double standards at the United Nations on Friday for challenging Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan while emphasizing the principle of sovereignty for Ukraine after Russian forces invaded. – Reuters 

Russia supports Beijing’s “One China” policy on the issue of Taiwan, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday after Chinese President Xi Jinping warned U.S. President Joe Biden not to play with fire over the island. – Reuters 

Prominent Chinese commentator Hu Xijin said on Saturday he deleted a tweet warning of military retaliation should U.S. fighter jets escort House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on any visit to Taiwan, after Twitter blocked his account. – Reuters 

The head of the Swiss agency that implements economic sanctions expects the neutral country to adopt any punitive measures the European Union launches against China if it invades Taiwan, she said in a newspaper interview. – Reuters 

British businesses are cutting ties with China due to concerns about political tensions, a shift that is likely to stoke inflationary pressures, the head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said in an interview published on Saturday. – Reuters

Facing a growing threat from China, the Navy envisions drone ships keeping an electronic eye on enemy forces across the vast Pacific Ocean, extending the reach of firepower, and keeping sailors out of harm’s way. The Navy is speeding development of those robotic ships as an affordable way to keep pace with China’s growing fleet while vowing not to repeat costly shipbuilding blunders from recent years. – Associated Press

Zambia’s official creditors led by China have agreed to provide debt relief to the southern African nation, paving the way for an IMF bailout and setting a precedent for how Beijing could work with other lenders to tackle the threat of a wave of defaults across emerging markets. – Financial Times

New investment in Russia through China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) fell to zero in the first half of 2022, while Chinese outlays in Pakistan dropped by 56 percent during the same period. […] The BRI’s rapid expansion since 2013 has helped China become the world’s largest source of development credit, and how Beijing navigates the program’s future will have global consequences. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Tommy Steiner writes: China will continue pursuing its Middle East interests, even if Saudi Arabia’s financing might leave a dent in its Belt & Road initiative at the behest of the US. Nevertheless, with the US actively seeking to diminish its adversary’s influence in the region, China may find that working in the Middle East is ever more difficult. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Which brings us back to Speaker Pelosi. China is the world’s second-largest economy and a sick Chinese economy is a geostrategic danger. Mr. Xi is seeking a third term as the country’s leader at a Party meeting later this year. A weak economy leaves nationalism shaded with militarism as one of his strongest political cards. It’s been said for some time that “managing China’s rise” is the West’s main strategic challenge. But managing China’s economic trouble might be as difficult. – Wall Street Journal  

Michel Gurfinkiel writes: The available evidence—books, op-eds, reports—suggests that scholars have rediscovered the classic Anglo-American geopolitists since the early 2000s in the context of increasing Chinese and Russian aggressiveness but failed to elaborate it fully until recently. At the government level, the Trump administration laid the foundations of a new containment strategy once it overcame its early neo-isolationist temptation, and the Biden administration was wise enough to keep up the momentum. – Wall Street Journal 

Rushan Abbas and Anne Basham writes: Many businesses are to be applauded for their voluntary efforts to withdraw from these countries as a protective measure, but a beneficial prevention measure would be the use of TIP Report tier rankings to aid in the decision of where to conduct business in the future. Let’s sideline countries who exploit human beings while they simultaneously plot the demise of the West. – The Hill

Walter Lohman writes: This turn away from continuity with the previous administration’s China policy to one of greater deference to China was brought home in a report by Nikkei Review in June that the Department of Treasury had given investors in the aforementioned blacklisted companies a green light to hold on to their shares. So maybe the Biden administration carrying Beijing’s water in opposition to the Pelosi trip shouldn’t be so surprising after all.Let’s hope it fails, because cancellation of the speaker’s trip to Taiwan would be a terrible sign of declining U.S. leadership in Asia. – Heritage Foundation

Bonny Lin and Jude Blanchette write: Beijing’s efforts to revitalize and expand existing organizations such as the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization also face obstacles. India, for instance, is a member of both blocs and may constrain any openly anti-American efforts. But even marginal improvements in the capabilities and cohesion of these groupings would help Beijing blunt any coercive or punitive moves that the United States and its allies may make against China in the years ahead. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

Sri Lanka’s new president said the country has experienced the worst of its economic crisis and that restoring political stability will allow it to begin turning a corner, starting with finalizing negotiations for an International Monetary Fund bailout that had stalled due to recent turmoil – Wall Street Journal  

China said on Friday it hoped “relevant parties” would refrain from interfering with its legitimate maritime activities, after New Delhi voiced concern over a Chinese military ship’s planned visit to a port in India’s southern neighbour Sri Lanka. – Reuters 

Pakistan’s powerful army chief appealed to Washington to use its leverage to secure the early release of International Monetary Fund money, Pakistani sources said on Friday, as the South Asian nation struggles to stave off an economic crisis. – Reuters 

One soldier was killed and six insurgents were dead after an overnight operation in Pakistan’s volatile southwestern Baluchistan province, the military said Saturday. The military said in a statement that during exchange of fire with separatists the Hoshab area of Kech district, another soldier was injured. – Associated Press


The details of her husband’s death were shocking. The South Korean fisheries official was shot and burned by North Korean sailors who interrogated him after he had drifted into Pyongyang’s territorial waters nearly two years ago. – Wall Street Journal  

Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office released an itinerary for the House speaker’s planned trip to Asia that listed at least four stops — but made no mention of Taiwan. Reports that the California Democrat was planning to visit the democratic, self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own had sparked anger and threats in China, where officials vowed to do what was necessary to “firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” – Washington Post

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Singapore early Monday, kicking off her Asian tour as questions swirled over a possible stop in Taiwan that has fueled tension with Beijing. – Associated Press

A Japanese government spokesman confirmed on Monday that a Japanese man has been detained in Myanmar and said the government is calling for his release as soon as possible. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara told a news conference that a Japanese man in his 20s who had been filming a demonstration on July 30 had been detained and that the Japanese embassy in Myanmar was pressing the government for his release. – Reuters 

The head of Myanmar’s junta, Min Aung Hlaing, will extend the state of emergency in the country for a further six months, state media said on Monday, reporting that the junta’s national defence and security council had given its approval – Reuters 

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi sounded the alarm about China’s behavior in the Indo-Pacific during a visit to Washington on Friday, saying the “logic of brute force” was gaining more traction over the rule of law in the region. – Reuters

Some 4,000 soldiers mostly from Indonesia and the United States will conduct a joint military exercise next week that underscores “the importance we place on a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” a senior U.S. military official said on Friday. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Cambodia for a U.S.-ASEAN minister’s meeting next week during which he will address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, Myanmar and the war in Ukraine, the State Department said on Friday – Reuters 

The United States and Japan launched a new high-level economic dialogue on Friday aimed at pushing back against China and countering the disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel next week to the Philippines to meet new President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., with Washington expecting a close alliance despite rights concerns. – Agence France-Presse

A Japanese video journalist has been detained by security forces in Myanmar while covering a protest against military rule in the country’s largest city, pro-democracy activists said Sunday. – Associated Press

The commander of the United States military in the Pacific said Monday he wants to expand and strengthen its ties with New Zealand. The visit to Wellington by Adm. John Aquilino, head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, comes as the U.S. is looking to increase its presence in the region amid deep concerns over China’s growing ambitions in the Pacific. – Associated Press

There was no reported damage in a western Philippine region where debris from a rocket that boosted part of China’s new space station reportedly fell, a Filipino official said Monday. Philippine Space Agency official Marc Talampas said authorities have been advised to be on the lookout for the rocket debris, which may have splashed down into seawaters off Palawan province. – Associated Press

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday urged China to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and “use its access and influence to help bring an end to the conflict.” Ardern, speaking at the China Business Summit in Auckland, said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression posed a threat to her small nation, a major trading partner of China. – The Hill

Three Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) hydrographic survey ships transited the Japanese Straits this week while a PLAN corvette sailed south past the Senkaku Islands last week, according to Japan Ministry of Defense releases. – USNI News

Howard Chua-Eoan writes: The united front against Marcos and his legacy has long collapsed. It is tragic that Ramos lived to see it happen. He was, nonetheless, that rare combination in Philippine history: general, technocrat, democrat. And he imparts at least one great lesson for his country: Caution can give way to courage — and courage can part the waters. – Bloomberg

Ramakrishna Pathanaboina and Sanjeet Kashyap writes: Finally, the influence of the restraint variant of grand strategy in the United States might lead to the drawdown of its direct entanglement in the region. While there exists a significant debate among restrainers on tackling the China challenge, almost all variants would involve allies picking up more burden for self-defense. – National Interest


A dispute over license plates between the Balkan nations of Kosovo and Serbia, from whom Kosovo split 14 years ago, yielded protests and gunfire Sunday night, prompting fears that the violence could escalate as Western countries are focused on the war in Ukraine. – New York Times

The brutal, senseless murder — which was videotaped by witnesses and shared thousands of times on social media — has shocked Italians, stirred political bickering ahead of national elections in September and spawned fresh debate over racism in Italy, even though, for now, investigators do not believe that the crime was racially motivated. – New York Times

Belarus recalled its ambassador to Britain on Friday in response to what it called “hostile and unfriendly” actions by London. In a statement, Belarus’ foreign ministry said Britain had adopted policies that were “systematically aimed at causing maximum damage to Belarusian citizens and legal entities,” citing sanctions on its companies, a ban on national airline Belavia and restrictions on Belarusian state media. – Reuters

The deteriorating war of words between the U.S. and China over Taiwan “could easily escalate” and is being closely watched in European capitals, according to senior diplomats. – Politico

As Europe faces its worst energy crunch in decades amid the war in Ukraine, national capitals have been scrambling to shore up their gas reserves ahead of the winter. But another fuel could also soon be in short supply: coal. – Politico

Russian energy giant Gazprom Saturday suspended gas supplies to Latvia following tensions between Moscow and the West over the conflict in Ukraine and sweeping European and US sanctions against Russia. – Agence France-Presse

Europe’s economy is proving surprisingly resilient against soaring energy and food prices, data showed Friday, as tourism boosted France and Spain but export powerhouse Germany stalled, keeping recession fears alive. – Agence France-Presse

The leaders of the European Parliament’s main parties on Saturday condemned Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for “openly racist” comments he made about racial mixing. – Agence France-Presse

The conflict in Ukraine is prodding militaries in Europe to supplement and modernize their ground forces, evidenced most recently by France’s order for artillery to backfill systems given to Ukraine and Germany’s plan to modernize a rocket artillery system. – Breaking Defense

Editorial: If there’s any silver lining to this crisis, it’s that the proper response could supercharge the transition to a low-carbon future. In all likelihood, the coming winter will severely test European resolve. The response needs to be more than fig-leaf solidarity. Only adequate preparation can forestall the worst. – Bloomberg

Richard Seymour writes: It was the dormant British nation of the postwar era ­— or at least the nostalgic memory of it — that Brexit was supposed to revive. The exit of Mr. Johnson, Brexit’s most charmed cheerleader, marks the demise of that fantasy. In its place, unmistakable and unstinting, comes crisis. – New York Times

Cameron Khansarinia and Kaveh Shahrooz write: Finally, Europe must recognize that, ultimately, the only sustainable path to having a stable relationship with Iran is to support the Iranian people’s democratic aspirations. Otherwise, such steps are merely kicking the proverbial can down the road.  While Sweden showed courage in the face of Iran’s murderous behavior, in recent weeks, Belgium demonstrated cowardice. We urge our European friends to change course and adopt Sweden’s approach. – Politico

Aaron Stein writes: The expansion of the U.S.-Greek defense ties has heightened Turkish paranoia, but Turkey tends to be paranoid no matter what the United States does or says. (…) The United States has a bevy of options in the region and, if it exploits them, it can creatively use its footprint to retain the capabilities to project power through the Mediterranean, Levant, and North Africa. – War on the Rocks 


The shooter approaches from behind, raising a pistol to his victim’s head. He pulls the trigger and “pop,” a lifeless body slumps forward. The shot cuts to another execution, and another. The video was posted on Facebook, in a large group of al-Shabab and Islamic State supporters, where different versions were viewed thousands of times before being taken down. – Washington Post

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel next month to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, the State Department announced Friday, as Washington ramps up diplomacy in Africa to counter a Russian charm offensive. – Agence France-Presse

UN chief Antonio Guterres said he was “outraged” after two people were killed and several others injured when UN peacekeepers opened fire during an incident in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on the Uganda border on Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

At least 32 people were killed in Madagascar in an area north of the capital on Friday after local bandits known as “dahalo” set homes on fire, according to statements by the defence ministry. – Reuters 

Zambia’s creditors pledged to negotiate a restructuring of the country’s debts on Saturday, a move IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva welcomed as “clearing the way” for a $1.4 billion Fund programme. – Reuters 

Qatar seeks to hold a ministerial summit in early August to seal an accord between Chad’s military government and opposition rebels on a national peace dialogue, negotiators said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

Thousands of Sudanese protesters rallied in the capital Sunday to demand an end to military rule and tribal clashes that have killed over 100 people, AFP correspondents said. – Agence France-Presse

The new US envoy for the Horn of Africa called Saturday for progress in holding Ethiopian peace talks and for unrestricted aid deliveries to stricken areas of the country. – Agence France-Presse

Danielle Resnick writes: Yet, the geopolitical context is remarkably different today, with recent EU interest in Senegal’s natural gas reserves, concerns about the spread of Sahelian insurgency to the littoral states on the Gulf of Guinea, and anxieties about Russia’s growing infiltration of Francophone West Africa, all taking on outsized importance for Senegal’s traditional Western allies. Collectively, these dynamics could alter the degree to which the United States and EU will be compelled to push the Senegalese leader to uphold democratic practices. – Foreign Policy 

The Americas

An award-winning journalist in Guatemala has gone on a hunger strike to protest his arrest by authorities amid growing signs of a crackdown on political dissent in the country. José Rubén Zamora was arrested at his home in Guatemala City on Friday night as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering, blackmail and influence peddling, according to prosecutors. – Washington Post

A Canadian man who was radicalized online, uprooted his life and joined the Islamic State in Syria, rising to a top position in the terrorist group’s English-language propaganda arm, was sentenced Friday to life in prison. – Washington Post

One man was wounded Saturday after gunmen opened fire on soldiers at a checkpoint providing area security for a visit by Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei to a town near the Mexican border. – Associated Press

Mexico deported 126 Venezuelan migrants who did not have proper permission to be in the country, the National Migration Institute (INM) said on Saturday. The 117 men and nine women were not able to prove their legal entry into Mexico, an INM statement said. – Reuters 

Tim Culpan writes: Reality often doesn’t matter in politics. The long-awaited funding for the Chips Act is being hailed a victory for the White House and proof of bipartisan collegiality, but in reality it’s a victory for America’s semiconductor laggards and the foreign companies that dominate them – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: Putting aside the White House’s absurd claims to the contrary, the U.S. cannot do everything, everywhere. European air forces collectively possess enough advanced fighter aircraft and crews to support NATO’s needed deterrent boost. The same is true when it comes to naval forces. But the threat posed by China clearly demands a singular U.S. focus. Let’s hope Beijing doesn’t test the Biden administration’s “we can do it all” strategy anytime soon. – Washington Examiner 

Latin America

After years of tilting rightward, Latin America is hurtling to the left, a watershed moment that began in 2018 with the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico and could culminate with a victory later this year by a leftist candidate in Brazil, leaving the region’s six largest economies run by leaders elected on leftist platforms. – New York Times

Gangs are increasing their chokehold on Haiti’s capital, using bulldozers to raze entire neighborhoods, overwhelming poorly armed police and taking their violence to within blocks of the seat of government. – New York Times

Opposition leader Juan Guaido’s rival Venezuelan government said Friday it was a step closer to taking control of the oil-rich country’s gold reserves, after the latest judgment by a UK court. – Agence France-Presse

Once a relatively peaceful neighbor of major cocaine producers Colombia and Peru, Ecuador has become a battleground for criminal gangs looking to control the drug trafficking trade, analysts and authorities say. – Agence France-Presse

London’s High Court has rejected President Nicolas Maduro’s latest efforts to gain control of more than $1 billion of Venezuela’s gold reserves stored in the Bank of England’s underground vaults in London. The court ruled on Friday that previous decisions by the Maduro-backed Venezuelan Supreme Court, aimed at reducing opposition leader Juan Guaido’s say over the gold, should be disregarded. – Reuters 

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: This is why the bank is trying to cultivate new partners, including Taiwan. China, predictably, is outraged. In a May email to the bank’s president and several IDB staff members, after a press release announced a project in Belize with Taiwanese backing, the Chinese representative to the IDB wrote: “My authorities see this as a very severe situation and reserve all the rights of further action.”Those who care about development can only hope that action might be for China to quit the bank and leave Latin America. – Wall Street Journal  


A federal grand jury indicted a Russian national on charges of attempting to disrupt U.S. elections beginning as early as 2014, spreading disinformation to further Moscow’s political aims and infiltrating various American political organizations to carry out his plans. – CyberScoop

Prosecutors in Germany have issued a warrant for the arrest of Pawel A, a Russian national they accuse of being part of the Berserk Bear hacking group within Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), according to German public broadcasters BR and WDR. – The Record

Ukraine’s state cybersecurity agency announced details of an expanded partnership with the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on Friday, revealing that the agencies will begin joint training exercises and enhance how they exchange technical information. – CyberScoop

Trevor Filseth writes: Foreign cyberattacks have increasingly targeted U.S. critical infrastructure, including power grids and water supplies. In May 2021, gas prices briefly shot up across the East Coast after the Colonial Pipeline, which carries oil from Texas to the southeastern United States, was targeted by a ransomware attack from the Eastern European Darkside group. The pipeline was eventually restored to operation after the operators paid the ransom in Bitcoin, and much of the money was later recovered. – National Interest

Ivan Arreguin-Toft writes: Europe is leading the way, and its efforts continue to face serious headwinds. But regulating the collection and use of big data and the algorithms they support is the only way we can enable the companies who collect and control our data to gain profits from innovations beneficial to humankind, while at the same time preventing present-day Heydrichs and Himmlers—and they are out there—from using our data to oppress and persecute those their authoritarian governments consider enemies of the state. – National Interest 


The U.S. military discovered a problem with the ejection seats used across its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet in April, but waited three months to ground those aircraft flown by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to fully investigate the issue, multiple sources told Air Force Times Friday. – Defense News

The U.S. State Department has approved a potential sale of over $8 billion worth of F-35 aircraft to Germany, moving closer to providing Berlin with new fighter aircraft for nuclear deterrence missions. – Defense News

Seeking to bolster its development of uncrewed vehicles, the Army is using a separate acquisition pathway for software, paving the way for future coordination among platforms of all sizes. – Defense News

The White House has issued its long-awaited implementation plan for combating the rapid growth of dangerous space debris, setting up a whopping 44 separate tasks for the Defense Department, NASA, the Commerce Department and other agencies — largely in the research realm, but including a review of best practices for operators. – Breaking Defense