Fdd's overnight brief

February 22, 2023

In The News


A 2015 agreement limited Iran’s uranium enrichment programme to make it harder for Tehran to develop nuclear arms, in return for international sanctions being lifted. Iran consistently denies harbouring any nuclear weapon ambitions. – Reuters

A senior member of a U.S.-based Iranian opposition group held by Iran and accused of orchestrating a deadly 2008 mosque bombing has been sentenced to death, authorities said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Iranian attacks in the waterways of the Middle East and elsewhere in the region “have the attention of everyone” as tensions rise over Tehran’s advancing nuclear program, the head of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Iran summoned the UK’s charge d’affaires in Tehran to protest new British sanctions and “baseless claims” against the Islamic Republic, state TV reported. UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Monday summoned Iran’s top diplomat in Britain over threats to London-based journalists, after Persian-language channel Iran International suspended its UK operations due to safety concerns. – Bloomberg

A German-Iranian man who was a resident of the US has been sentenced to death in Iran after being accused of organizing a bomb attack in 2008 and collaborating with the US and Israel, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. – Bloomberg

An Austrian has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail in Iran for spying, Vienna said Tuesday, adding it had summoned the Iranian ambassador. – Agence France-Presse

Israeli nuclear physicist Dr. Naama Charit Yaari doesn’t know for sure if Iran has really enriched uranium to 84% purity or left its supplies at “only” 60% as it has claimed. But she told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Monday that the bomb dropped by the US on Hiroshima, Japan that ended World War II had uranium with 80% purity, and if the Americans had had time to reach 93% or 94%, the damage would have doubled. – Jerusalem Post 

A credible military threat is the best way to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it becomes harder to do so the longer one waits, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Hartog National Security Conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night. – Jerusalem Post

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has held five secret discussions on the Iranian issue, in which it was decided to significantly raise the level of Israeli preparation and readiness for an attack on the nuclear facilities in the Islamic Republic, Channel 12 News reported on Tuesday. – Arutz Sheva 

Israeli security officials gave intelligence to the United Kingdom suggesting that Iran intended to harm journalists at a London-based opposition news station, leading them to shift their broadcasts to Washington, according to a Hebrew media report. – Agence France-Presse 

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has embraced a more active role in public life as he seeks to shore up the authority of the Iranian regime after the most intense demonstrations since the Islamic revolution. – Financial Times 

Speaking on a panel about the ongoing anti-regime protests in Iran at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said that the demonstrations could be a key pivot point for Iran if the international community offers strong support to the protesters. – Jewish Insider

Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, Nicholas Carl, Annika Ganzeveld, Zachary Coles, Johanna Moore, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The Mahsa Amini protest movement has likely entered a new phase, although it is unclear what the pattern and nature of anti-regime activity will characterize this new phase. Western media outlets have reported lingering discontent throughout the Iranian population, corroborating CTP’s prior assessment that conditions remain present for the resumption of significant anti-regime activity. […]Iran continues to face severe economic issues, which may fuel increased political attacks against President Ebrahim Raisi and his administration. The worsening economic conditions in Iran are facilitating solidarity and possibly cooperation between protest organizers and some domestic economic actors. The efforts of regime officials and protest groups to associate the protest movement with economic issues will complicate any regime effort to de-escalate with the population. – Institute for the Study of War

Russia & Ukraine

Russia called Tuesday for a special United Nations commission to investigate the explosions that blew up the Nord Stream undersea natural gas pipelines in September, based largely on an American journalist’s controversial allegation that a U.S. covert operation was responsible for the attack. – Washington Post 

In the last minutes of a nearly two-hour speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday artfully dropped one bombshell into an otherwise lackluster state-of-the-nation address — suspending Russian participation in New START, the last remaining nuclear arms control accord between Moscow and Washington. – Washington Post 

President Biden and Vladimir V. Putin laid out radically different visions on Tuesday for Ukraine’s future, offering sharply contrasting narratives about who is to blame for the bloody, yearlong war and seeming to agree on only one point: The conflict is nowhere near an end. – New York Times 

If Russian President Vladimir V. Putin were to order tanks into other European countries, the nine nations along NATO’s eastern flank would be the likeliest targets. – New York Times 

The Biden administration is expected to impose fresh sanctions on about 200 Russian individuals and entities this week, according to people familiar with the matter, in a push to tighten the sanctions net around the country a year after its invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would step back from the last remaining major nuclear-arms-control treaty between the U.S. and Russia, and vowed to continue the military campaign in Ukraine as the diplomatic gulf widened between Moscow and the West. – Wall Street Journal

Russia’s flagship frigate equipped with new generation hypersonic cruise missiles has arrived in the South African port of Richards Bay for exercises that will include China, Russia’s RIA state news agency reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

Russia has urged U.N. states to vote against an “unbalanced and anti-Russian” move at the General Assembly by Ukraine and others to mark one year since Moscow invaded, as China said on Tuesday it could release a “position paper” on the war within days. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday delivered a warning to the West over Ukraine by suspending a landmark nuclear arms control treaty, announcing that new strategic systems had been put on combat duty, and threatening to resume nuclear tests. – Reuters

Russia’s parliament moved on Wednesday to suspend Moscow’s participation in the New START treaty, as officials lined up to blame the United States and the West for the breakdown of the last remaining nuclear pact between Washington and Moscow. – Reuters

Russia’s first criminal case against a member of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, accused of forcibly seizing power and ill-treatment of civilians, went to court, the state TASS news agency reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces were maintaining their positions on the front line in the east after Russia reported it was advancing on its main target in the area. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy brushed off criticism from Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday, saying Italy’s ex-prime minister had not had to live under daily bombardment and blackouts caused by Russian air strikes.- Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been sparring verbally, presenting starkly different views of the world and the Ukraine war, with Biden promising to defend democracies and Putin asserting the West was a threat to Russia. – Reuters

Ukraine has exchanged a number of clergymen from a minority branch of the Orthodox Church with historically close ties to Moscow to win the release of soldiers captured in Russia’s invasion, two security officials said. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin revoked on Tuesday a 2012 decree that in part underpinned Moldova’s sovereignty in resolving the future of the Transdniestria region – a Moscow-backed separatist region which borders Ukraine and where Russia keeps troops. – Reuters

The owner of the Russian private military company Wagner accused Russia’s defense minister and chief of general staff on Tuesday of starving his fighters in Ukraine of ammunition, which he said amounts to an attempt to “destroy” the force. – Associated Press

The European Union on Tuesday urged its member countries to provide more ammunition to Ukraine from their stockpiles and from any orders that they might have already placed with the defense industry to help defeat invading Russian forces. – Associated Press  

Russia’s stocks of Iranian-made drones appear to be running low, according to the latest assessments of European officials, who say their use against Ukraine has fallen significantly over the past 10 days. – Bloomberg

US President Joe Biden was slated to meet in Warsaw with eastern European leaders who have supported Ukraine with weapons deliveries and by taking in millions of refugees fleeing Russia’s war. – Bloomberg

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a blow to China’s plan to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday, just days before their war reached its one-year mark. – Newsweek

Russian President Vladimir Putin began his address before Russia’s parliament on Tuesday by underlining the stakes of his war in Ukraine. – The Hill

Editorial: Officials said the resignation was a run-of-the-mill government reshuffle. But it was also the indirect result of a Russian pressure campaign, including a sharp reduction of natural gas supplies that has triggered a severe energy crisis and helped drive soaring inflation. Moldovan political parties backed by Moscow have staged street demonstrations, some of which feature “protesters” who are paid. And President Maia Sandu, elected in 2020 on a pro-Western platform, said Moscow has been planning a coup to install a pro-Russian government in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital. – Washington Post 

Editorial: The risks of backing Ukraine are real, but the risks of abandoning it are greater. The Ukrainians have put up an audacious fight but, absent more advanced U.S. arms, this story could still end with Mr. Putin a greater menace to Europe, China emboldened, and the United States weaker. That’s not a peace to desire. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: With Russia at war against the West, and China refusing to negotiate while it rapidly builds its nuclear force, rebuilding U.S. nuclear deterrence will have to be a U.S. priority. Holding out hope that Mr. Putin will change his mind about New Start is a fool’s errand. – Wall Street Journal

Emily Rauhala writes: There have been signs of progress; Poland’s Parliament has passed legislation aimed at unblocking the funds. But last week, the European Commission said it would refer Poland to the E.U. Court of Justice over rulings from the country’s Constitutional Tribunal that it believes undermine E.U. law — a sign that conflict will continue, though perhaps at a slower boil. Western leaders and officials now appear more focused on praising Polish leadership than on calling the country out. Pain points endure, said Baranowski, but he would be “shocked if President Biden said, ‘Poland really needs to fix its relations with Brussels and get its act together with its judiciary.’” – Washington Post 

Michael O’Hanlon, Constanze Stelzenmüller and David Wessel write: And so the war has not ended quickly. Pressure to make peace could rise within and outside Ukraine and Russia in 2023 (or thereafter). But the data doesn’t suggest that will happen right now. Yet another reality is this: Little about war is predictable. Dynamics often change when least expected. But they don’t change capriciously, or on their own. Someone has to make the change happen. – Washington Post

David E. Sanger writes: Finally, another treaty only between Moscow and Washington no longer makes sense to many nuclear experts. The Pentagon now estimates that China, which is rapidly expanding its arsenal, could deploy 1,500 weapons in the next dozen years, matching the American and Russian arsenals. So an arms control treaty that left out one of the three major powers would be all but useless. And so far, China has showed no interest in joining negotiations — if there were any. – New York Times 

James Stavridis writes: Putin this week called the war “a watershed moment for our country,” and he’s right. But as much as he plays at channeling Stalin, the course he has set will more likely lead to an ending like that of Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia, who was brutally overthrown just over a century ago. That, frankly, would be just the right amount of history. – Bloomberg

Leonid Bershidsky writes: Implicitly, it’s up to Ukrainians to inflict defeat — and, in Putin’s reality, to exhaust themselves in an endless war of attrition. In both cases, Russia’s future is in the hands of Ukrainians, an unexpected result from a year of the bloodiest fighting seen anywhere this century. – Bloomberg

Tony Barber writes: In effect, Putin was warning business elites that the reconfigured state and society of his imagination would have no place for the western-leaning tendencies that began to shape much of Russia’s economy during the 1990s rule of Boris Yeltsin, the nation’s first post-communist president. […]In this way, the president sought to cloak his rule in the legitimacy of what he sees as the pre-communist tradition of a powerful, centralised state that organises Russian society behind a common purpose. For Putin, one element of that common purpose is an unrelenting and still incomplete military campaign in Ukraine. No end to the war seems probable in the near future. – Financial Times 

Joseph Bosco writes: Biden’s visit to Ukraine also could have beneficial spillover effects on the U.S.-China relationship, by conveying America’s resolve to stand by democratic allies and partners under attack by an authoritarian neighbor — especially if the visit offsets some of the more pessimistic comments emanating from other administration officials. – The Hill

Dalibor Rohac writes: These electoral pressures, together with the ideological solidity of the older and wiser members of the Republican party, make it clear that the USA will not give way in Ukraine. Putin’s dream that the Republicans will hand him victory on a silver platter is just that, a fantasy fit for a fool. – American Enterprise Institute

Luke Coffey & Can Kasapoğlu write: Ankara’s Black Sea policy is not neutral, let alone aligned with Russia. Turkey has a deep-rooted defense partnership with Ukraine. Ankara and Kyiv enjoy a growing military cooperation portfolio, ranging from coproducing Turkey’s indigenous MILGEM-class corvettes in Ukrainian docks to flying Turkish drone-maker Baykar’s first turbofan-powered unmanned aircraft, Kizilelma, with Ukrainian aerial engines. Endorsing and encouraging the Turkey-Ukraine defense partnership should be a geopolitical priority for the US and other NATO members. In the long term (and especially if Ukraine is to become a NATO ally), the bilateral Turkey-Ukraine defense ties could become a military alliance, forming a natural geopolitical counterbalance against Russian aggression. – Hudson Institute


A senior lawmaker from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party called on Tuesday for the country to stop “fence-sitting” on Ukraine and provide it with military defences against Russia, which he accused of “terrorism”. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Tuesday for a dialogue with opponents of his proposals to overhaul the judiciary which have drawn mass protests and criticism from around the world. – Reuters

The United Nations’ human rights chief on Tuesday voiced concern that a proposed overhaul of Israel’s judicial system would “drastically undermine” the ability of the judiciary to uphold human rights and the rule of law. – Reuters

Israel’s parliament took a step towards approving a controversial judicial reform Tuesday despite weeks of mass protests against the legislation critics see as a threat to democracy. – Agence France-Presse 

The United Nations on Tuesday urged the Israeli government to pause its judicial overhaul process, saying it risked weakening human rights protections by drastically undermining the judiciary’s ability to protect individual rights. – Agence France-Presse

EU leaders expressed surprise and regret Tuesday after the Israeli government barred a member of the European Parliament from entering the country on an official visit and deported her to Spain. … A spokesperson for the Israeli Mission to the EU said: “The only reason that she was not allowed to enter is the issue that she tried to enter [Israel] illegally.” This referred to Miranda’s participation in a flotilla in 2015 that aimed to break the naval blockade of Gaza by Israel. – Politico

On February 12 and 13, 2023, the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published a two-part interview by the daily’s chief editor, Ghassan Charbel, with Leila Khaled, a former terrorist in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and a current member of the Palestinian National Council. Khaled was involved in the hijacking of a TWA flight to Tel-Aviv in 1969 and in the attempted hijacking of an El-Al flight to New York in 1970. – Middle East Research Media Institute

Martin Wolf writes: It is worth noting in this context that Israel’s economic history demonstrates that the legal system about which the government now complains so bitterly did not prevent its past success. That also suggests that these dramatic reforms are unneeded in themselves and targeted at objectives other than the ostensible ones. Benjamin Netanyahu must think again before he does irreparable damage. – Financial Times


The death toll rose to six from another strong earthquake that rattled parts of Turkey and Syria on Monday night, just two weeks after a pair of quakes unleashed the worst destruction in the region in decades. – Wall Street Journal

Two senior German ministers travelled to southern Turkey on Tuesday to visit areas hit by a devastating earthquake more than two weeks ago, to underscore Berlin’s support for the victims and reconstruction efforts. – Reuters

Tensions have flared recently, but Greece was one of the first countries to send rescue workers to help pull survivors from the rubble after a devastating earthquake hit Turkey this month, killing tens of thousands. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

The head of Tunisia’s press syndicate said on Tuesday he faced a police complaint over a protest last year, calling it an attempt to intimidate his organisation and silence criticism of the president. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia deposited $1 billion into the central bank of Yemen’s internationally recognized government Tuesday in a bid to bolster the country’s ailing economy, state media said. – Associated Press

Shoshana Bryen writes: In the broader arena, Iran has wrecked Yemen—Israel’s outlet from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean—as well as Lebanon and Syria, seeking bases and factories for precision-guided missiles and drones on Israel’s borders. All along, Iran continues its progress toward a nuclear weapon, which sometimes features ballistic missiles that have “Death to Israel” written in Hebrew up along the side. – Newsweek

Gerald M. Feierstein writes:  Although there are clearly differences in how the three competitors are viewed in the region, it’s also clear that public opinion in the Arab Barometer Wave 7 survey echoes the views of political leaders that they seek to maintain positive political and economic relations with all three. As noted, the potential impact of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine on MENA popular attitudes remains to be measured. But that variable aside, unlike the post-World War II Cold War era, these populations will favor strongly remaining non-combatants in any new cold war. – Middle East Institute 

Jeff Jager writes: As these two examples illustrate, and as the assessments by Kahl and Milley above suggest, dislodging Russia from its prepared defensive positions in Ukraine will be a daunting task for the Ukrainian military. – Middle East Institute 

Ben Fishman writes: With deft diplomacy, Washington can use this week’s Libya meeting to build on the apparent thaw in Egypt-Turkey relations, creating momentum for further conversations about how they can mutually benefit from relaxing their friction over Libya. At the same time, such efforts could facilitate the most important change in the Libyan landscape in months, giving Bathily the space he needs to create an elections timeline. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s official newspaper said on Wednesday that relying on external aid to cope with food shortages would be equal to taking “poisoned candy”, urging economic self-reliance despite deepening hardships amid sanctions and coronavirus lockdowns. – Reuters

If North Korea follows through on its threat to turn the Pacific Ocean into a “firing range”, it would allow the isolated and nuclear-armed state to make technical advances in addition to signalling its military resolve, analysts said. – Reuters

North Korea could test-fire intercontinental ballistic missiles on a lower, longer trajectory and conduct its seventh nuclear test this year to perfect its weapons capabilities, South Korean lawmakers said on Wednesday, citing intelligence officials. – Reuters

North Korea on Wednesday accused U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of “an extremely unfair and imbalanced attitude,” as it lambasted him for condemning its recent missile test but ignoring alleged U.S. hostility against the North. – Associated Press 

Choe Sang-Hun writes: In the past week, North Korea has vowed to take “persistent and strong” countermeasures against the joint military drills the United States and South Korea have planned for this spring. It launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on Saturday. Kim Yo-jong, the sister and spokeswoman for the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, also warned Seoul and Washington of launching more missiles into the Pacific, threatening to use the ocean “as our firing range.” – New York Times 

Jongsoo Lee writes: As the Indo-Pacific has become more important than ever before, it is high time that the G7 adapted itself to this changing reality. Such adaptation begins by evolving the G7 from a club of mostly European and North American powers to a body more representative of the world’s economies and populations. Welcoming South Korea as a G8 member would be an effective and welcome first step, and should be supported by all current G7 members. – The National Interest

Victor Cha and Ellen Kim write: Moreover, these exercises constitute an important demonstration of U.S. extended deterrence commitments to South Korea, particularly amid acute public concern about North Korea’s explicit nuclear threats. It is highly unlikely that the United States and South Korea will cancel any upcoming military exercises. And there remains the elusive seventh nuclear test, which North Korea has yet to execute despite indications that all preparations have been completed at the test site. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Chinese leader Xi Jinping is preparing to visit Moscow for a summit with Russia’s president in the coming months, according to people familiar with the plan, as Vladimir Putin wages war in Ukraine and portrays himself as a standard-bearer against a U.S.-led global order. – Wall Street Journal

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing next Tuesday with top officials on China policy to identify gaps in pursuing what it called a “more holistic approach” to countering aggression by the Chinese Communist Party. – Reuters

China said it was troubled by Japan’s military build up and Tokyo took aim at Beijing’s military ties to Russia and its suspected use of spy balloons during the Asian powers’ first formal security talks in four years on Wednesday. – Reuters

China issued threats and trade restrictions against 19 countries between 2020 and 2022, with Australia the top target of such “coercive diplomacy”, a report by an Australian security think tank said on Wednesday. – Reuters

China is “deeply worried” that the Ukraine conflict could spiral out of control, foreign minister Qin Gang said on Tuesday, and called on certain countries to stop “fuelling the fire” in an apparent dig at the United States. – Reuters

China imported 20,000 tonnes of Australian cotton in 2022, compared to 400,000 in 2019, according to Chinese customs data. But the diplomatic thaw following a meet between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese last November has already seen trade restrictions on coal partly lifted. – Reuters

Chinese utilities and traders have stepped up purchases of Australian coal in February, encouraged by signs of further policy relaxation after trade partially resumed last month following a two-year hiatus. – Reuters

Russia’s security head on Tuesday held talks with the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign policy chief, calling for closer cooperation with Beijing to resist Western pressure. – Associated Press

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who discussed the debt issue with China’s outgoing Vice Premier Liu He in January, said earlier this month that China is holding up narrow debt negotiations in places like Zambia and Sri Lanka over broader debates about the US-led global financial system. – Bloomberg

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg echoed US concerns on Tuesday that China could supply Russia with weapons to help it pursue its war against Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse

China has warned western countries against “adding fuel to the fire” in Ukraine and reiterated calls for peace talks ahead of an expected visit to Moscow by Beijing’s most senior diplomat Wang Yi. – Financial Times 

Mike Gallagher writes: We need to make sure that General Secretary Xi Jinping wakes up every morning and looks toward Taiwan, calculates the balance of power across the Taiwan Strait, calculates the risk to his party if the Chinese people were inundated with the truth, and says to himself: “Today is not the day.” – Wall Street Journal

Christopher Johnson writes:  Indeed, the mostly performative meeting last weekend between the countries’ foreign ministers in Munich, echoed the toxic March 2021 exchange in Anchorage, Alaska. Consequently, the longer the Biden administration insists on prioritizing political point scoring at home the harder it will be to get relations back on track. – Foreign Affairs

South Asia

Pakistan is looking for breakthroughs in agriculture and information technology during the first ministerial level meeting of a U.S.-Pakistani trade and investment body in seven years, Pakistan’s commerce minister said on Tuesday. – Reuters

India does not want the Group of 20 nations to discuss additional sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine during New Delhi’s one-year presidency of the bloc, six senior Indian government officials told Reuters. – Reuters

Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan said his allies plan to get arrested en masse on Wednesday in protests designed to destabilise the government, which is urgently seeking to secure an IMF bailout to avert a default. – Financial Times


Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Wednesday she appreciates China’s support for regional bloc ASEAN’s five-point peace consensus agreed to bring about an end to hostilities in military-ruled Myanmar. – Reuters

The Philippines and Australia on Wednesday discussed pursuing joint patrols in the South China Sea, days after the Southeast Asian country held similar talks with the United States to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the disputed waterway. – Reuters

AUKUS is seen as an effort by the Western allies to push back against China’s growing power and influence, particularly its military buildup, pressure on Taiwan and deployments in the contested South China Sea.-  Reuters

Japan and China will work towards launching a direct communication line for security from this spring, Japan’s defence ministry said on Tuesday in a statement after talks between senior defence officials from both countries. – Reuters

Australia’s spy chief has hit out at former military pilots who turn to working for authoritarian regimes, describing them as “lackeys, more ‘top tools’ than ‘top guns'” in his annual security threat assessment. – Reuters

Russia summoned the ambassador of Bangladesh on Tuesday to protest over Dhaka’s decision to block the entry of Russian ships into Bangladeshi ports. – Reuters

China on Wednesday sharply criticized a visit to Taiwan by a senior Pentagon official and reaffirmed it has sanctioned Lockheed Martin and a unit of Raytheon for supplying military equipment to the self-governing island democracy. – Associated Press 

A delegation of U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday met with Taiwan’s president, who promised to deepen military cooperation between the two sides despite objections from China, which claims the island as its own territory. – Associated Press

Papua New Guinea security forces are prepared to use lethal force to free a foreign national and three citizens of the South Pacific island nation from armed criminals, the police commissioner said. – Associated Press   

A United Nations torture monitoring agency has cancelled a visit to Australia because two states won’t give them free access to detention centres. – BBC

David Kirichenko writes: For over two decades, Ukraine has stood as a steadfast ally of Azerbaijan, consistently supporting its territorial integrity since the first ceasefire in 1994. This unwavering stance, which has become more robust and consistent in the face of Russia’s aggression, speaks to the strategic importance of preserving internationally recognized borders in the post-Soviet space. Armenia’s dependence on the Russian state as an ally has put it at odds with Ukraine, making it unlikely that relations between both countries improve until Armenia distances itself from Russia. – The National Interest

Hiroyuki Suzuki writes: In this context, the role of a bridge between the inward-looking U.S. market and the Indo-Pacific market will be particularly important. In sum, with the United States and China at the point where domestic factors make it difficult to demonstrate a cooperative stance on global issues, it seems incumbent on Japan to provide leadership and fill the vacuum created by tensions in U.S.-China relations and global geopolitics. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of Italy met with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in Kyiv on Tuesday, and pledged to continue to provide military, financial and humanitarian support. She also said she backed Ukraine’s entry into the European Union and that she would ensure that any peace agreement with Russia would be brokered on Ukraine’s terms. – New York Times 

Two decades ago, when Poland rallied behind the United States in the contentious lead-up to the Iraq war, the president of France chided Warsaw, saying it had “missed a good opportunity to shut up.” Today, nobody — other than Russia — is telling Poland to keep quiet, at least not over the war in Ukraine. – New York Times 

Investigations by Denmark, Germany and Sweden into explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines have not yet concluded, the three countries said on Tuesday as the U.N. Security Council met to discuss the September incident. – Reuters

The European Union is close to a 10th sanctions package against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and EU governments hope to reach a deal on Wednesday if they can overcome differences about a ban on Russian rubber and diamond imports, EU diplomats said. – Reuters

The leader of Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party said on Tuesday there was still work to be done to find a resolution to a dispute between Britain and the European Union over their post-Brexit trading arrangements with the province. – Reuters

The European Union’s Brexit chief said on Tuesday that the finishing line was in sight for talks on easing post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland ahead of a second successive day of discussions with his British counterparts. – Reuters

Serbia said on Tuesday it would buy loitering munitions, a type of drone that flies to a target and detonates, from the United Arab Emirates, signalling a further distancing from longtime ally and arms supplier Russia. – Reuters

Nearly a year after Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “turning point” that would trigger weapons shipments to a nation at war and a massive increase in Germany’s military spending, the turnaround for his country’s armed forces still has a long way to go. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden is wrapping up his whirlwind, four-day visit to Poland and Ukraine by reassuring eastern flank NATO allies that his administration is highly attuned to the looming threats and other impacts spurred by the grinding Russian invasion of Ukraine. – Associated Press 

Aformer Kosovo rebel commander has pleaded not guilty to war crimes, calling the charges “fabricated” as his trial opened on Tuesday for alleged abuses and murder in 1999 during Pristina’s independence struggle. – Agence France-Presse

Moldova’s foreign minister has called on the EU to impose sanctions on a fugitive oligarch whom he accuses of helping Russia wage a hybrid war against the government in Chișinău. – Financial Times 

As Poland threw out the red carpet for an American president, Hungary was again serving as Communist China’s doormat. Visiting Poland, President Joe Biden is showing due recognition of that nation’s commitment to its U.S. ally. – Washington Examiner

“Estonia firmly believes that the world has to do whatever it takes to deal Russia a clear, decisive defeat in Ukraine,” Prikk said. “And Ukraine has to win this fight. The aggressor has to fail.” – Washington Examiner- Washington Examiner


Three peacekeepers from Senegal were killed and five seriously injured after their convoy hit an improvised explosive device in central Mali, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country and Senegal’s army said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Jill Biden headed for Africa on Tuesday, first stop Namibia, declaring as she departed Washington that she had “a lot to accomplish” during a five-day visit focused on empowering women and young people and addressing food insecurity. – Associated Press 

Joe Liberman writes: We departed Munich confident that the world order of law and freedom established after World War Two and the Cold War, which Putin has attacked in Ukraine more directly than anyone since Adolf Hitler, will be defended until victory is achieved and will prevail to our benefit on into a better future. – The Hill

Amaka Anku writes:  But the issues that the United States and other countries signal their commitment to—whether through spending or official statements—do matter. Nigeria’s international partners must direct more funding to and say more about the things that Nigerian voters have repeatedly rated as top concerns: personal safety, jobs, electricity, and infrastructure. Failure to do so risks rolling back the democratic gains of the last two decades. – Foreign Affairs

Latin America

Peru’s attorney general’s office said on Tuesday on Twitter that the U.S. State Department had agreed to extradite former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo on corruption charges. – Reuters

A former Mexican law enforcement official once in charge of his country’s fight against drug traffickers was convicted on Tuesday on U.S. charges that he took millions of dollars in bribes from the infamous Sinaloa cartel. – Reuters

President da Silva of Brazil, in the latest step in the entente with Communist China, will visit Beijing next month for a meeting to discuss trade, investments, and the war in Ukraine. – New York Sun

United States

A series of high-profile events on the international stage has laid bare the perilous state of great-power relations as Russia and China challenge the U.S.-led global order and raised the prospect that they could deteriorate further.- Wall Street Journal

President Biden struck a defiant tone in an address rallying allies and declaring that Russia would never prevail in its war with Ukraine, which is now entering its second year. – Wall Street Journal

Andreas Kluth writes: No matter whether we label our era multi- or bipolar, it’s unlikely to be pleasant. Thinking in terms of “spheres of influence” is back in fashion, to the detriment of smaller countries who find themselves pawns on other people’s game boards. Multilateralism — that is, regulated cooperation among all or most players — will become increasingly elusive, even as climate change makes it indispensable. Only academics will call any of this “order.” – Bloomberg


Extortion payments from ransomware, a hacking scourge that has crippled hospitals, schools and public infrastructure, fell significantly last year, according to federal officials, cybersecurity analysts and blockchain firms. – Wall Street Journal

The Supreme Court declined to hear a constitutional challenge to a secretive government surveillance program, dealing a setback to privacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union ahead of a looming debate in Congress over whether to renew the law that authorizes the intelligence tool. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese authorities have urged state-owned firms to phase out using the four biggest international accounting firms, signaling continued concerns about data security even after Beijing reached a landmark deal to allow US audit inspections on hundreds of Chinese firms listed in New York. – Bloomberg

The Defense Department’s U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) launched an investigation this week following a report that said that the unit had an exposed server that was leaking sensitive but unclassified emails online. – The Hill


Lockheed Martin will have a ship-based hypersonic missile launcher ready for flight tests next year, the company said, as part of the development work covered by a contract awarded Feb. 18. – Defense News 

The day President Joe Biden ordered a Chinese spy balloon shot down, sailors at Naval Expeditionary Combat Command began thinking through their potential involvement in recovering debris. – Defense News 

Two major American defense firms, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies, have put high energy laser (HEL) technology among their center stage offerings at the international arms expo IDEX 2023 in Abu Dhabi, hoping to catch the eye of potential foreign partners or buyers. – Breaking Defense

Negotiations over the potential sale of F-35 stealth fighters and MQ-9 Reaper drones between the United States and the United Arab Emirates are still underway, according to a senior US State Department official, but even if they are successful, it will take years before the Emirati receive the combat aircraft. – Breaking Defense

Long War

Security forces in Somalia have ended a siege by al-Shabab extremists that killed 10 people and wounded three others at a home in the capital, Mogadishu. – Associated Press

The Israeli military said Tuesday it has sentenced a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group to 22 months in prison after his arrest helped spark three days of heavy fighting in Gaza last year. – Associated Press

Supreme Court justices on Tuesday seemed skeptical about a lawsuit seeking to hold YouTube liable for suggesting videos promoting violent militant Islam, but some did raise questions about the scope of immunity that internet companies enjoy. – NBC News