Fdd's overnight brief

February 23, 2022

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


For weeks, a parade of European leaders sought to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine. But even as they engaged in a flurry of diplomacy, they found a Russian leader who adopted a steadily harder position, say diplomats, even as he appeared to keep the door open to diplomacy. – Wall Street Journal 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered the mobilization of reservists as Russian troops poured into Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region and Western nations announced measures to punish Moscow for recognizing two Russian-controlled statelets there as independent, signaling the potential rising economic price on Russia for further aggression. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. and its European allies on Tuesday announced a range of sanctions against Russia for what President Biden called “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” measures that included blacklisting two major banks and halting the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. – Wall Street Journal 

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to send troops into two breakaway regions of Ukraine has sent relations between Moscow and the West spinning to their lowest point since the Cold War. The incursion is an integral part of his broader strategy to redraw the security map set with the collapse of the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago and split the U.S. from its European partners, many of which rely heavily on Russia’s rich energy reserves. – Wall Street Journal 

Two weeks ago, President Biden made a major foreign policy promise that “there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2” natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany if Russia sent troops into Ukraine. But even at the time, it wasn’t clear how that would take place — or how much Germany was onboard, given that its leaders repeatedly declined to explicitly echo Biden’s declaration. – Washington Post 

Experts described the initial wave of European sanctions — together with those announced Tuesday by the United States — as incremental and unlikely to alter Putin’s calculations in the short term. Instead, the response by the West set the stage for a protracted pressure campaign, with Putin and European leaders all weighing their next moves. – Washington Post 

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Tuesday that he had canceled a planned meeting with his Russian counterpart, but that the United States would continue to pursue diplomacy if Russia takes steps to de-escalate its aggression against Ukraine. – New York Times 

As President Biden announced sanctions against Russia and warned of more if President Vladimir V. Putin did not withdraw his forces from Ukraine, former President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday praised Mr. Putin’s aggression as “genius” and called the Russian leader “very savvy” for describing the troops aligned on the Ukrainian border as peacekeepers. – New York Times 

Russia’s recognition of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine could threaten important investments of Western oil giants and further drive up global energy prices in the next few weeks. – New York Times 

If Russian officials are firm in that mind-set, the Biden administration might find it has to impose the absolute harshest sanctions — ones that would inflict suffering on many ordinary citizens — or look for a noneconomic option, such as giving greater military aid to an insurgency in Ukraine. Mr. Biden has said he will not send American troops to defend Ukraine. – New York Times 

Fears of an armed conflict in Ukraine after Russia ordered troops into separatist territories pose a new threat to a global economy that has been struggling to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and coping with record levels of inflation – New York Times 

Surging energy prices and the Russia-Ukraine conflict are making European leaders think hard about energy security — particularly their decades-old reliance on Moscow for natural gas. – Associated Press 

Britain on Tuesday slapped sanctions on five Russian banks and three billionaires, in what Prime Minister Boris Johnson called “the first barrage” of measures in response to the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse 

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged Russia to fully comply with the global body’s charter, condemning Moscow’s recognition of the “independence” of two breakaway Ukrainian regions. – Agence France-Presse 

Former national security adviser John Bolton said Russia will win in Ukraine due to President Joe Biden failing to unite NATO over the possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. – Newsweek 

Three Russian guided-missile cruisers have been arrayed across the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to counter three NATO carrier strike groups, causing concern in the Pentagon, a U.S. defense official told USNI News on Tuesday. – USNI News 

President Joe Biden announced a raft of new sanctions against Russia he said would cut off its government from Western financing and punish elites who benefit from the Kremlin’s corrupt policies, after President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to move into the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine. – Politico 

Editorial: At this late date nothing may stop Mr. Putin’s desire for conquest. But the mistake the West has made for more than a decade is to think the Russian autocrat can be a reasonable geopolitical partner. He doesn’t want to be part of the current international order. He wants to blow it up. It’s depressing to have to say this, but Cold War II is here. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: Every recent U.S. President has misjudged Mr. Putin, hoping for a better relationship even as the Russian schemed against the U.S. Mr. Biden is the latest to have learned the hard way. The ’80s did get their foreign policy back, and Mr. Biden could do worse than to invite Mr. Romney to help fight the new Cold War. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: Judging by Mr. Putin’s delusional, sneering remarks this week, he may not be deterred by these or any economic sanctions and has already factored the costs into his coercion against Ukraine. But he may have gambled that the United States and its allies would splinter. Instead, fortunately, they have acted in unison on the threshold of war. In the next step, when and if warranted by Russian aggression, sanctions must hit the large Russian banks, and the West should cast a wide net to punish Mr. Putin’s friendly oligarchs and clans. – Washington Post 

David Satter writes: A liberal Russian journalist who reported on organized crime in the 2000s told me that when Mr. Putin massed troops on the Ukrainian border, even Russians who had quarrels with the regime were ready to give it their support. The situation evokes memories of a powerful past. There is furious diplomatic activity and Russia becomes the center of attention. The danger for Mr. Putin is that, in his drive to protect his corrupt regime, he will underestimate his opponent and go too far. – Wall Street Journal 

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: Mr. Putin may have thought he was testing the Trump administration. He erred. He was testing a system of government and politics and global engagement that’s bigger than one man. – Wall Street Journal 

William A. Galston writes: This is no time for hesitation. President Biden must lead without ambivalence, and members of the Western alliance must endure short-term discomfort to protect democracy’s future. The alternative is a repetition of 1938. – Wall Street Journal 

Philip Bump writes: In the past several days, there have been a flurry of alleged attacks near the Ukraine-Russia border, ones attributed to Ukrainian actors in Russian media. Over the same period, the Russian government attempted to argue that it was de-escalating its position, moving troops away from the region. But it is no longer 1999 and, thanks in part to Russia’s pattern of misinformation centered on Ukraine, Russia’s apparent efforts to mislead the world have been quickly dismantled. – Washington Post 

Marc A. Thiessen writes: How does all this come across to Putin? As weakness. Putin has long believed Biden is bluffing when he threatens serious consequences — just like he correctly assessed that the Obama-Biden administration was bluffing in 2014 when it warned of repercussions if Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. – Washington Post 

Charles Lane writes: Now that Putin’s aggression has forced Berlin to put Nord Stream 2 on ice, will anyone in Germany have the political courage to advocate a realistic, geopolitically solvent, energy policy, including zero-carbon nuclear power and liquefied natural gas imports from the United States? – Washington Post 

David Von Drehle writes: In its response, the West must keep a grip on reality. The way to deal with a Stalin wannabe is the same way the world dealt with the original: Surround, contain and hold that line with steely patience. It’s crazy to think that the Cold War is resuming — but that appears to be exactly what is happening. The same alliance that won the first time will win again, if only the West can keep its wits. – Washington Post 

Henry Olsen writes: No humane person wants war. But it’s better to prepare for one than to fight at a time and place of an enemy’s choosing. Putin has thrown down the gauntlet. The West must pick it up. – Washington Post 

Madeline Albright writes: If Mr. Putin feels backed into a corner, he has only himself to blame. As Mr. Biden has noted, the United States has no desire to destabilize or deprive Russia of its legitimate aspirations. That’s why the administration and its allies have offered to engage in talks with Moscow on an open-ended range of security issues. But America must insist that Russia act in accordance with international standards applicable to all nations. – New York Times 

Tara D. Sonenshine writes: None of this is to suggest that Putin isn’t a dictator bent on rewriting the end of the Cold War. But we are not blameless. We are guilty of passivity. At some point, we must turn to each other and ask: “How do we get out of this futile cycle of internal hatred and distraction?” How do we go from internal weakness to global strength? Can we respond to the situation in Ukraine by paying full attention and getting our own house in order? That is our charge. – The Hill 

Alina Polyakova and Daniel Fried writes: The United States is long overdue to rethink its Russia strategy. Successive attempts to reframe relations have been tried and found wanting. Putin’s aggression has brought this on. Washington’s task is to see that Putin fails and that the West’s democratic alternative—based on a rules-based, liberal world order—prevails. – Foreign Affairs 

Frederick W. Kagan writes: We must face reality, however. It takes one to make war, not two. Putin has shown that he is willing to fight to gain what he wants, and what he wants is the destruction of the Western alliance that kept the peace in Europe for more than seven decades. We must be willing to fight to defend it — and we must be willing to pay the price of doing so. – The Hill 

Mark Voyger writes: It is up to democracies to act now, decisively and swiftly at that, lest Putin’s glorified past become Ukraine’s (and ultimately, the world’s) dreaded future. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Dov S. Zakheim writes: In addition, Washington, and NATO, should not only sanction the breakaway provinces but Russia itself. The current “wait and see” attitude leaves the initiative to Putin. Sanctions, especially on gas and oil supplies can always be lifted if Putin pulls back his forces. […]For the past fourteen years, ever since Russia seized Abkhazia and North Ossetia, Putin has been playing a game of chicken with the West, and up to now has succeeded. It is time to turn the tables on him once and for all. – The National Interest 


Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are in the home straight, delegates say, though some important issues remain unresolved and it is still unclear whether an agreement will be clinched. – Reuters 

Talks on restoring a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme and ease sanctions are near conclusion, a Russian envoy said on Tuesday, and sources close to the negotiations said a prisoner swap between Iran and the United States is expected soon. – Reuters 

Any agreement for prisoner releases alongside a nuclear accord would mirror steps taken when the original 2015 nuclear deal was officially implemented. The accord limited Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief. – Reuters 

Israel accused Iran on Tuesday of planning to arm drones supplied to Venezuela with precision-guided munitions, remarks that appeared aimed at raising American alarm as world powers try to conclude a new nuclear deal with Tehran. – Reuters 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told gas exporters on Tuesday to avoid any “cruel” sanctions such as those imposed by the United States on Tehran, and his government said any revival of Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord with world powers must lift such curbs. – Reuters 

After months of negotiations in Vienna, the various sides have indicated a new deal is close, perhaps in the coming days. But instead of the “longer, stronger” agreement originally promised by the U.S., the deal is expected to do little more than reinstate the original pact, whose key restrictions on Iranian nuclear activity expire in a few years. – Associated Press 

Iran has returned 820,000 donated COVID-19 doses because they were manufactured in the United States. – The Hill 

A hardline Iranian publication has baselessly accused an Israeli rabbi who visited Iran of being a Mossad agent, demanding that the Islamic Republic’s authorities be held accountable for allowing him into the country. – Algemeiner 

Iran on Tuesday chimed in on the tensions between Russia and Ukraine and made sure to blame the United States and NATO for the situation. – Arutz Sheva 

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said on Sunday that Israel would not be bound by any agreement made between the U.S. and Iran. – Jewish Insider 

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: The first time period in which the IAEA was able to ratchet up pressure on Tehran was around June 2020, when Khamenei had been heavily violating the nuclear deal for more than a year. Once Iran is complying with the deal’s formal provisions, any IAEA threats are likely to be viewed by Khamenei as empty. – Jerusalem Post 

Herb Keinon writes: Yet Israel made that decision because it felt it had no other choice. Whether it takes action against Iran after a deal is signed, and what kind of action it takes, will be a true indication of how existential a threat it truly believes an Iran with a path to nuclear capability genuinely is, and whether it feels that now – as at other critical moments in its past – it really has no other choice. – Jerusalem Post 


Israel fired a number of missiles on positions in Syria’s border province of Quneitra on Wednesday, causing “material damage,” the Syrian military said in a statement. – Reuters 

Syria supports the decision of its ally Russia to recognise two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, Syrian state TV quoted the Syrian foreign minister as saying on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Ashley Jordan, Samy Akil, and Karam Shaar write: In conclusion, it is important to reiterate that the dangers of premature return throughout the whole of Syria are very serious. All host countries should end the use of force, coercion, and incentives to drive Syrians back to Syria before it is safe, especially while there is a near complete absence of monitoring and safeguarding measures. […]Syrians are subject to many types of risks and violations, as our research shows; these can be both explicit and implicit, and based on varied factors including political affiliations, area of origin, religion, gender, tribe, and more. – Middle East Institute  


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan cancelled a planned trip to Guinea-Bissau and is returning home from Africa early to participate in an online meeting with NATO leaders, his office said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

President Tayyip Erdogan told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday that Turkey opposed any decision targeting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, after Russia said it was recognising two regions in eastern Ukraine as independent. – Reuters 

When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his decision to recognise two breakaway regions in east Ukraine as independent, NATO member and Black Sea neighbour Turkey swiftly criticised the move, but stopped short of announcing any punitive measures. – Reuters 


Israeli troops killed a Palestinian boy in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, the Palestinian health ministry said, in an incident the army described as the shooting of a firebomber. – Reuters 

Israel considered condemning Russia’s moves toward invading Ukraine on Tuesday. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz weighed what kind of statement to release that would not undermine military coordination with Russia in Syria. – Jerusalem Post 

Arc Solutions, a Dubai-based telecom infrastructure solutions provider, has signed an agreement with Israel’s leading internet service provider (ISP) and IT solutions provider, Bezeq International, to deploy its network in Bezeq International’s data center in Tel Aviv. – Jerusalem Post 

Glenn Yago writes: MSCI has undertaken the right steps as it weighs this reassignment — a move that more appropriately reflects Israel’s market status in a global orbit rather than one hemmed in by a fixed geographic designation dating back to a century ago. – Financial Times 

Ehud Eiran writes: However, tensions between Israel and the standard-bearers of western liberalism have been heightened in recent decades over its continued control of disenfranchised residents of the territories and its military pressure on Gaza. The latest Amnesty International report highlights the doubts by some human rights organizations, an important bastion of the global liberal camp, over the moral validity of Israel’s political model. – Jerusalem Post 

Melissa Langsam Braunstein writes: The term “apartheid” evokes horrific images from nearly half a century of South African oppression. Given how charged a word it is, it’s imperative that those applying it to other contexts substantiate the allegation with solid evidence. A recent report from Amnesty International fails in that regard. – The Dispatch

Gulf States

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to end Iraq’s requirement to compensate victims of its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, with Baghdad having paid out more than $50 billion to 1.5 million claimants. – Associated Press 

Major gas exporting nations said Tuesday they could not guarantee prices or supplies at a summit overshadowed by the worsening Ukraine crisis which has pushed costs to record highs in Europe. Qatar’s emir, who hosted the talks, said gas producers were working to ensure “credible and reliable” supplies, on the same day as Europe’s concerns over deliveries from Russia were further hit by Germany’s decision to halt the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. – Agence France-Presse 

The U.S. State Department approved a potential foreign military sale to the government of Kuwait of design and construction of the Kuwait defense ministry headquarters complex and related equipment for an estimated cost of $1 billion, the U.S. Defense Department said. – Reuters 

Neither Qatar nor any other single country has the capacity to replace Russian gas supplies to Europe with liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the event of disruption due to a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Qatar’s energy minister said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani received a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday concerning ways to support and strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries as well as issues of mutual interest, the Qatari state news agency said. – Reuters 

Bilal Y. Saab writes: Through the vehicle of defense reform, the Biden administration has an opportunity to engage the Saudis on critical national security matters while safeguarding U.S. strategic interests and honoring American values. It’s a wise form of U.S. assistance that isn’t politically controversial, doesn’t cost much U.S. taxpayer money, and doesn’t require a significant U.S. presence on the ground. It is perhaps the only way to reset the relationship by gradually rebuilding trust between the two sides. – Middle East Institute 

Middle East & North Africa

Libya’s interim prime minister on Monday announced a plan for elections in the summer as he seeks to stay in office despite a push by parliament to dislodge him in favour of a new government. – Reuters 

Israel’s NewMed Energy (DEDRp.TA) is looking to join the exploration sector in Morocco after it developed natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean that supply Israel, Egypt and Jordan, the company’s chief executive said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Zine Labidine Ghebouli writes: The 2019 protest movement was a risky but necessary gamble. Algeria’s sociopolitical landscape is arguably worse now due to the Hirak, but it also initiated a process of change on a number of levels. It is hard to ignore the political role that the Hirak will continue to play as a symbolic reference for democracy. – Middle East Institute 

Haroro Ingram and Craig Whiteside writes: This victory came just in time. The debacle of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, along with Chinese aggression over Taiwan and Russian aggression over Ukraine, has caused allies to wonder if the United States can do two things at once: deter great powers and fight jihadists. With Qurayshi’s death, however, European capitals have breathed a long sigh of relief. If ISIS was planning terrorist attacks in European cities, chances are they are now a much lower priority for the group as it braces for the drama of having to choose a new leader again. – Foreign Affairs 

Korean Peninsula

Plans by South Korea’s leading opposition presidential candidate to buy an additional THAAD U.S. missile system risks economic retaliation from China, his top foreign policy adviser said, but that would provide a chance to “reset” testy diplomatic ties. – Reuters 

North Korea has conducted almost a dozen missile tests this year. The regime now appears to have hundreds of missiles of short, medium, and long ranges. Its biggest are large enough — have enough “throw-weight” — to reach the United States or Europe. – 19FortyFive 

Lee Jae-myung writes: For all these issues, a national consensus is paramount. The political leader of a country must lead by having the country come together through an open and democratic debate, believing in citizens’ collective wisdom, which always comes to the best decision with enough information, time, and deliberation. A pragmatic mindset, and a clear understanding of the challenges our country faces, is what South Korea needs most right now. – Foreign Affairs 


China did not explicitly endorse Moscow’s latest moves toward Ukraine but still recognized on Tuesday what it called Russia’s legitimate security concerns, in Beijing’s latest tightrope act over the crisis in Eastern Europe. – Washington Post 

China on Wednesday criticized the expansion of economic sanctions against Russia, saying that they were unlikely to solve the Ukraine crisis and that they had the potential to harm average people as well as the interests of Beijing. – New York Times 

China is concerned about the “worsening” situation in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday, repeating his call for all parties to show restraint and resolve differences through dialogue. – Reuters 

China is accusing the United States of creating “fear and panic” over the crisis in Ukraine. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Wednesday that China opposes new sanctions on Russia, reiterating a longstanding Chinese position. – Associated Press 

Hugh Hewitt writes: Anyone covering the Olympics who didn’t mention or who played down the human rights evils of this regime is complicit in the suffering in the Uyghur camps, the destruction of Tibet, the crushing of Hong Kong and the menacing of Taiwan. Citizens of China and Chinese expats around the world know the regime is fully Stalinist and will disappear anyone it needs to. The world should not have been there even if everyone knew it was about the money. The stain will never rub off the sponsors or the IOC. – Washington Post 

Salem Alketbi writes: China’s growing influence in international politics presents opportunities and challenges that NATO must address together, as an alliance, notes NATO’s March 2021 annual report. The following are some aspects NATO is concerned about. – Jerusalem Post 

Joseph Bosco writes: The ultimate bitter irony is that the Communist China that America under Nixon saved from an attack by the Soviet Union is now aligned with a revanchist Russian leader intent on reconstituting that aggressive empire in pursuit of their joint objective of defeating the West. History may well judge Nixon’s opening to China, and Kissinger’s 50-year shepherding of that policy over eight U.S. administrations, as the most colossal diplomatic blunder in U.S. diplomatic history. – The Hill 

South Asia

Ahmad, a 30-year-old Afghan who worked for the German military, is now in hiding in Kabul in fear of his life. Like many other local staff who worked for Western governments and their armies, Ahmad was left behind when the International Security Assistance Force pulled out in August. – Reuters 

The United States has restricted the import of cultural and historical items from Afghanistan, hoping to prevent “terrorists” from profiting, the State Department said Tuesday, but experts voiced fears about the unintended consequences. – Agence France-Presse 

Pakistan’s prime minister will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, authorities said Tuesday, as the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine seemed imminent. – Associated Press 

Salman Masood and Zia ur-Rehman write: Still, senior Pakistani civil and security officials remain sanguine about the future, or, at the very least, stress that a stable Afghanistan is essential for a stable Pakistan. It’s a position that puts Pakistan in a tight corner: The country must continue to help the new Taliban government, while also contending with the growing security and economic risks to Pakistan that have come with the new regime. – New York Times 


Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, on Wednesday ordered the island’s armed forces and security personnel to step up surveillance and strengthen defenses as she sought to reassure those who see, in the Ukraine conflict, echoes of the self-governed territory’s own existential crisis. – New York Times 

Taiwan is nervous that Beijing may take advantage of a distracted West to ramp up pressure on the island amid the crisis in Ukraine, but there have been no unusual manoeuvres by Chinese forces in recent days, officials in Taipei say. – Reuters 

The United Nations human rights expert on Myanmar on Tuesday said Russia and China were providing the junta with fighter jets being used against civilians, and urged the U.N. Security Council to halt the flow of weapons enabling atrocities. – Reuters 

Hamas officials work openly with Malaysian Islamist charities to route money and supplies to government ministries and charities in Gaza, new findings by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) show. The charities also use their humanitarian veil to promote the violent rhetoric of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups. – Investigative Project on Terrorism 

Kathrin Hille writes: That is why doubts over Washington’s engagement in the Ukraine issue are weighing so heavily. Government officials in some Asian capitals believe that the crisis saddles the US with a dilemma. One the one hand, if Washington becomes too deeply involved it will be distracted from Asia and China, the country the Pentagon calls its “pacing challenge”. On the other, failure to help protect Ukraine from a Russian invasion will further undermine confidence in US ability to protect the global rules-based order. – Financial Times 

John Feng writes: Taiwan’s anxieties about China are long-established; the likelihood of a bloody cross-strait war has been a matter of debate for decades. Unlike Ukraine, Taiwan is separated from its belligerent neighbor by a body of water, the Taiwan Strait, an inhospitable maritime buffer that is still 80 miles across at its narrowest point. Crucially, the Taiwanese retain overwhelming faith in the United States—its strongest international backer in the postwar period. – Newsweek 

Chris Dougherty writes: Just as there is no easy solution to the challenges China’s rise poses to U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific, there is no easy way to surmount the obstacles to strengthening U.S. Indo-Pacific posture. […]After 20 years spent failing to address Chinese threats to U.S. bases and forces in the Indo-Pacific, it is time for senior Pentagon leadership and Congress to stop trusting the process and start reforming it. Only then will we be able turn rhetoric into reinforced concrete. – War on the Rocks 


Russia’s troop deployment to two breakaway regions of Ukraine threatens to extend Europe’s energy crisis, after Germany put a major natural-gas pipeline on hold and traders grew concerned Moscow would withhold gas in retaliation. – Wall Street Journal 

The Pentagon is moving up to eight F-35 fighter jets and a slew of other warplanes to Eastern Europe, the Baltics and Poland to shore up support for NATO allies following what President Biden called the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – New York Times 

German prosecutors said Tuesday they have indicted a businessman on suspicion of breaking arms control laws by helping Russia purchase sophisticated machinery that could be used to make chemical weapons. – Associated Press 

Europe braced for further confrontation Wednesday and Ukraine urged its citizens to leave Russia after tensions escalated dramatically when Russia’s leader got the OK to use military force outside his country and the West responded with a raft of sanctions. – Associated Press 

Amid increasing concern over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Czech drone manufacturer Primoco UAV has announced the company will halt its activities in the Russian market and sell its local subsidiary AO Primoco BPLA. – Defense News 

Despite sharing an 830-mile border with Russia, a senior Finnish defense official said he did not see an immediate military threat from Moscow. – USNI News 


Eighteen civilians were killed when their transport vehicle came under attack in a part of western Niger frequently targeted by Islamist militants, the government said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

China has appointed senior diplomat Xue Bing to a newly created post of special envoy for the Horn of Africa, a strategically important, conflict-wracked region where China has investments and a naval base on one of the world’s main shipping routes. – Reuters 

The U.S. and France criticized mercenaries in the Central African Republic from the Russian security company Wagner, accusing them on Tuesday of executing civilians, attacking U.N. peacekeepers and targeting predominantly Muslim communities in their military operations. – Associated Press 

The Americas

Russia has agreed to postpone some debt payments owed to it by communist-run Cuba until 2027, its lower house of parliament said on Tuesday, just days after the two countries announced they would deepen ties amid the spiraling Ukraine crisis. – Reuters 

Venezuela must reinforce its separation of powers, especially the independence of its judicial branch, to give more autonomy to its electoral commission and improve the voting process, the European Union’s electoral observation mission said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega became one of the first world leaders to back Russia’s stance over Ukraine on Monday, saying President Vladimir Putin was right to recognise two regions controlled by Moscow-backed separatists as independent. – Reuters 

A group of lawmakers sent a letter to President Biden on Tuesday amid escalating tensions in Ukraine to remind him that he must seek authorization from Congress before sending in troops or launching military attacks. – The Hill 

David Gattie and Michael Hewitt write: America must understand its post-WWII legacy and responsibilities, including its legacy and responsibilities in nuclear power leadership. Otherwise, it risks permanent “contemporary amnesia” of where it came from and how dangerous the world would be without U.S. leadership. – The National Interest 


Six European Union countries are sending a team of cybersecurity experts to Ukraine to help deal with cyber threats after Russia formally recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, Lithuania’s deputy defence minister said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine puts neighboring EU countries at risk of disruption from cyberattacks and the spread of disinformation, officials warned Tuesday. – Politico 

Ukraine’s government is preparing to wipe its computer servers and transfer its sensitive data out of Kyiv if Russian troops move to seize the capital, a senior Ukrainian cyber official said Tuesday. – Politico 

The UK government alluded yesterday that it might launch offensive cyber operations against Russia if the Kremlin attacks UK computer systems after an invasion of Ukraine. – The Record 

Cyberspace needs a “new social contract” where “isolated individuals, small businesses and local governments” no longer shoulder “absurd levels of risk,” says a top U.S. cyber official. – CyberScoop 


ARTEMIS, which stands for Airborne Reconnaissance and Target Exploitation Multi-Mission System, has been conducting operations over Eastern Europe since the beginning of the month, logging 14 sorties between Feb. 1 until Feb. 21, according to Amelia Smith, a hobbyist plane-spotter who has been using flight data to track ISR missions over Europe. – Breaking Defense 

Patty-Jane Geller and Brent Sadler write: If the United States is to sustain a viable national strategic deterrence force against rapidly expanding threats, the assumptions made in 2011 regarding the Columbia-class submarine must be revisited. Most important is the need to reconsider how many of these submarines will be needed and what their SLBM capacity per hull will need to be relative to a diversified threat that includes North Korea and a potentially nuclear Iran. Finally, in the immediate future, plans to field an SLCM-N to meet emerging targeting requirements should be accelerated. – Heritage Foundation 

John E. Whitley and Jamie Graybeal write: America’s soldiers and civilians will both benefit if the White House promotes partnerships between military and civilian trauma-care units while directing the Department of Defense to expand its research in this area. Reducing preventable deaths would be a major accomplishment domestically and save lives at the start of the next war. – War on the Rocks