Fdd's overnight brief

January 24, 2022

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The United States is unlikely to strike an agreement with Iran to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal unless Tehran releases four U.S. citizens Washington says it is holding hostage, the lead U.S. nuclear negotiator told Reuters on Sunday. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he discussed Iran on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, warning there was only a brief window to bring talks to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to a successful conclusion. – Reuters 

Iran is expected to regain its vote in the U.N. General Assembly after South Korea paid Tehran’s delinquent dues to the world body with frozen Iranian funds in the country, South Korea said on Sunday. – Reuters 

As part of an effort to revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, Russia has discussed a possible interim agreement with Iran in recent weeks that would involve limited sanctions relief in return for reimposing some restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program, according to two U.S. officials, one congressional official, one former U.S. official and four other people familiar with the discussions. – NBC 

The Biden administration is withholding a “secret agreement” with Iran from Congress as negotiations over a revamped nuclear deal continue in Vienna, according to two Republican lawmakers. Reports emerged late Friday that Russia proposed an interim nuclear deal to Iran with the knowledge of U.S. officials. The deal would reportedly lift some sanctions on Iran in exchange for a limited set of restrictions on the country’s nuclear program. – The Washington Free Beacon 

Iran’s oil ministry on Sunday urged people to wear warm clothes to reduce a surging demand for gas, as people turn up their heaters to cope with bitterly cold winter temperatures. – Agence France-Presse 

Iran accused Israel of exploiting the death of six million Jews during World War II to justify its crimes against the Palestinian people after the UNGA passed a resolution to combat Holocaust denial. – Jerusalem Post 

Michael Rubin writes: If Biden wants bipartisan support, he must start his negotiations at home and address the real concerns that Republicans have with his Iran strategy. America is at its most effective on the world stage when its strategies have bipartisan backing. Conversely, when the White House tries a political end run, what results is not a triumph, but a train wreck. – Washington Examiner 

Mehdi Khalaji writes: The U.S. government should also consider emphasizing constitutional reform in Iran, particularly efforts to recognize freedom of conscience and equality of all citizens before the law. […]The regime’s abuses on this front should be seen as an inextricable part of its identity, vision, and general behavior—now more than ever, the factors that lead Tehran to violate human rights at home are the same drivers behind its destabilizing regional activities and expansionist military agenda abroad. – Washington Institute 

Lahav Harkov writes: The longer the US and E3 complain about Iran negotiating too slowly, but are unwilling to do anything about it, the more Iran will take full advantage of the situation. Nearly two months after the negotiations resumed in Vienna, the question remains: How many more weeks will nuclear talks still be weeks from ending? – Jerusalem Post 

Alex Vatanka writes: On his third foreign outing since he took over as president in August 2021, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited Moscow this week. To his supporters, Raisi’s trip, on which he was accompanied by Iran’s foreign, oil, and economy ministers, is a turning point in Iranian-Russian relations, and those supporters might be right. – Foreign Policy 


As winter deepens, a grim situation in Afghanistan is getting worse. Freezing temperatures are compounding misery from the downward spiral that has come with the fall of the U.S.-backed government and the Taliban takeover. – Associated Press 

A Taliban delegation led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Sunday started three days of talks in Oslo with Western officials and Afghan civil society representatives amid a deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. – Associated Press 

Leading charities working in Afghanistan are demanding that the World Bank and its key shareholders release more than $1.2bn in frozen funds to pay teachers and other government workers and prevent the collapse of essential services. – Financial Times 

A bomb attached to a packed minivan exploded in Afghanistan’s western Herat province on Saturday, killing at least seven civilians and wounding nine others, Taliban officials said. – Associated Press 

Islamic State claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Saturday in the western Afghan city of Herat, it said in a post on Telegram on Sunday. – Reuters 

The European Union says it is reestablishing a “minimal” presence in Afghanistan for humanitarian purposes as a major economic crisis has pushed millions of Afghan into poverty, though the bloc stressed the move doesn’t mean it is formally recognizing the Taliban-led administration. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Melissa Skorka writes: If the United States is able to limit and contain the power of the Haqqanis in the new Taliban state, it would go a long way toward preventing Afghanistan from becoming a breeding ground for terrorism. […]But the United States will need international partners for any such strategy to be successful. Even in minimal form, a multilateral approach among the United States, Russia, China, and other nations toward the Haqqani threat in Afghanistan would do much to limit the expansion of ISIS-Khorasan and al Qaeda into the broader region and potentially stave off a devastating wave of destabilization from the new global terror threat. – Foreign Affairs 

Richard Weitz writes: Taliban leaders seem to anticipate that, as with their long-fought military victory, they simply need to stand firm and eventually the international community will recognize their government. […]Most foreign governments will remain aloof as long as the Taliban’s internal policies remain essentially repressive, its ties with foreign terrorist groups like al-Qaeda remain indeterminate, and positive incentives for comprehensive international engagement remain so elusive. – Middle East Institute


A U.S.-backed force in Syria said Sunday it was still fighting to regain full control of the country’s largest prison for Islamic State suspects, as the extent of the losses in a three-day standoff became clearer. – Washington Post 

Clashes between U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters and militants continued for a fourth day Sunday near a prison in northeastern Syria that houses thousands of members of the Islamic State group, the Kurdish force said. – Associated Press 

Syrian and Russian military jets jointly patrolled the airspace along Syria’s borders on Monday and plan to make such flights regular, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s defence ministry as saying. – Reuters


A prominent Turkish journalist was jailed Saturday after being charged with “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in what her lawyer and media advocacy groups described as an unusually harsh measure that could further chill press freedoms. – Washington Post 

The lira was firmer on Monday after Turkey’s finance minister was cited as saying inflation may rise to some 40% in the months ahead, lower than most estimates, and that interest rate hikes should not be expected by the central bank. – Reuters 

Rapid developments in Kazakhstan in January 2022 outpaced the Turkey-led Organization of Turkic States’ ability to respond with more than offers of support to the Kazakh government. Ankara’s initial response to the Kazakh crisis was limited to calling for stability and peace. […]The CSTO deployment, the first time the organization invoked its collective security provision, likely motivated Ankara to take more vigorous steps to ensure Turkey retains a role in Kazakhstan.[2] Kazakhstan remains under a state of emergency imposed in response to widespread unrest that began with localized fuel protests. – Institute for the Study of War 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: As long as Ankara’s analysis of its Jerusalem relations is that Israel is a naive country that doesn’t remember how Erdogan compared it to Nazi Germany at the UN in 2019, or how Ankara hosts Hamas and can profit off Israel’s gas needs without giving anything in return, the story of Israeli-Turkish ties will continue to be problematic. – Jerusalem Post


A leaked summary of an Israeli investigation into the death of a Palestinian American in the West Bank after Israeli troops detained him this month suggested that no soldiers were likely to be prosecuted despite investigators confirming that the man was dragged from his car, blindfolded and handcuffed and then fell silent while being held at a construction site. – Washington Post 

Israel’s Cabinet approved Sunday the launch of a state investigation into an affair involving the purchase of submarines and other warships from Germany, a case that has embroiled close confidants of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Associated Press 

The Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers on Sunday tried to distance themselves from a protest staged by a pro-Iranian militant group that harshly attacked Saudi Arabia over its role in Yemen’s civil war. – Associated Press 

Israel is considering its position as tensions rise on the Russia-Ukraine border, and the Foreign Ministry plans to deliberate the matter on Monday. – Jerusalem Post 

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs head Hussein al-Sheikh met on Sunday, in the first meeting to be made public between Lapid, who is also alternate prime minister, and a senior Palestinian figure. – Jerusalem Post 

Last year was the most antisemitic year in the last decade, with at least 10 antisemitic incidents happening on average every single day, according to the annual Antisemitism Report published by the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency. – Jerusalem Post 

Shabtai Brill writes: It is time, I believe, to plan a preemptive strike against Hezbollah, initiated by Israel at the right time. For this purpose, Israel must arm itself with a large amount of precise surface-to-surface missiles, which will destroy Hezbollah’s mid- and long-range missiles and rockets that are especially dangerous to us. – Jerusalem Post 


The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on three Lebanese nationals and 10 companies it said were part of an international Hezbollah network, accusing them of evading sanctions on the powerful group with an armed militia that is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by Washington. – Reuters  

Lebanon’s leading Sunni Muslim politician Saad al-Hariri is expected to announce on Monday he will not run in a May election that his movement may boycott, party members said, a potential political earthquake during a national financial collapse. – Reuters 

Kuwait’s foreign minister said on Sunday Lebanon must not be a platform for hostile acts or words toward Gulf Arab states, an indirect call for curbs on the Iran-backed group Hezbollah in order to improve strained ties. – Reuters 

Lebanon’s government met on the budget Monday for the first time in more than three months as talks with the International Monetary Fund about the country’s economic meltdown were poised to resume. – Associated Press

Arabian Peninsula

The United Arab Emirates said it intercepted two ballistic missiles launched by the Houthi rebels in the most recent attack targeting its capital of Abu Dhabi that threatens to widen Yemen’s yearslong civil war across the region. – Wall Street Journal 

The United Arab Emirates has banned the flying of drones in the country for recreation after Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed a fatal drone attack on an oil facility and major airport in the country. – Associated Press 

The U.S. Navy announced Sunday it seized a boat in the Gulf of Oman carrying fertilizer used to make explosives that was caught last year smuggling weapons to Yemen. The British royal navy said it confiscated 1,041 kilograms (2,295 pounds) of illegal drugs in the same waters. – Associated Press 

The US is holding talks with Qatar and other large gas exporters to plan contingency measures in case a Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupts supplies to Europe. – Financial Times 

The United Arab Emirates has long been considered a desirable destination for doing business. Now, the Gulf nation appears poised to become a global hub in the burgeoning — but controversial — field of cryptocurrency. As more and more countries seek to ban or impose strict regulatory measures on cryptocurrency, the world’s largest crypto trading platform, the Chinese company Binance, is going all-in on the UAE. – Jewish Insider 

The cabinet approved the establishment of a bi-national industrial research and development fund with the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, which will support requests for joint operations between Israeli and Emirati companies. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Israel has expressed solidarity with the UAE in the face of attacks. However, the overall context of the Iranian expansion of the Houthi war to the skies of Abu Dhabi shows how the Iranian threat to the region is rapidly growing to include a hand in attacks across an arc of some three thousand kilometers from Lebanon to the Gulf. […]While Israel and the UAE want to invest in technology to improve the quality of life, the message of Iran is that it can seek to destabilize the quality of life throughout the region. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Taken together, the story of the use of interceptors to stop some of the threats to the UAE is good news because it shows that some were detected and neutralized. However, it is also problematic news because the Houthi threat was known, and the escalation had been threatened for days before the attack. That a US base and the UAE were still threatened and some projectiles got through means the region must learn the lesson from the attack. – Jerusalem Post


The death toll from a Saudi-led coalition airstrike that hit a prison run by Yemen’s Houthi rebels has climbed to at least 82 detainees, the rebels and an aid group said Saturday. – Associated Press 

Most of Yemen faced a third day without internet on Sunday after air strikes on the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, the main landing point for the country’s undersea web connection, damaged its telecoms infrastructure. – Reuters 

Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) condemned over the weekend the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen, drawing sharp criticism from Arabs in the Gulf. – Jerusalem Post 

Congress is moving to reapply sanctions on the Houthi rebels in Yemen following the Iranian-backed terror group’s strike this week on Abu Dhabi that drew widespread condemnation from the Biden administration and U.S. lawmakers. – The Washington Free Beacon 

Saudi Arabia

Thailand’s prime minister will visit Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the Saudi foreign ministry said, in what will be the first high-level meeting between the two countries since a diplomatic row over a jewellery theft nearly three decades ago. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia will remain the busiest of the Middle East’s stock markets, even as the United Arab Emirates pushes more companies to go public, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. – Bloomberg 

Saudi Arabia said it didn’t attack a prison in Yemen’s Saada region Friday morning, state-run SPA reported, citing defense ministry spokesman Turki al-Maliki. – Bloomberg 

Joel C. Rosenberg writes: Prime Minister Bennett should make a bold offer to King Salman and MBS – quietly, of course, so that the Saudis have room to consider such an offer without immediate public or international pressure or scrutiny. But this may be just the move the Saudi royals need to convince their population that peace with Israel comes with real and tangible benefits for them. Especially as the Iranian threat worsens by the day. – Jerusalem Post 

Middle East & North Africa

Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah on Sunday called for a constitution to be established before holding delayed presidential and parliamentary elections. – Agence France-Presse 

Oil prices rose on Monday on worries about supply disruption amid concerns about Russia-Ukraine discord and rising tensions in the Middle East, which could make an already tight market even tighter. – Reuters 

Qatar will establish an escrow account with both Gaza’s electricity and electricity distribution companies to cover the costs of gas supply and generating electricity through Gaza’s only power plant, the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday. – Reuters 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s flurry of new missile tests, including what it calls “hypersonic” weapons, has underscored the importance of the country’s missile engineers and scientists, a group that is high profile within his government but opaque to outsiders. – Reuters 

North Korea may be looking at test firing its first intercontinental ballistic missile in more than four years as the strongest move it could soon make to ratchet up tensions with the U.S., a South Korean lawmaker said after a briefing by the country’s spy agency. – Bloomberg 

Ross Niebergall writes: While some might dismiss North Korea’s recent actions as a plea to be respected as a nuclear power or an attempt to lift economic sanctions, there is a history of North Korea exporting military technology to other rogue adversaries, such as Iran. The difference this time is that hypersonic missiles cost only a fraction to develop compared to a full-fledged conventional military force, and result in highly disruptive impacts on regional and global power dynamics. – Defense News 


With the Games only days away, China has delivered. It has plowed through the obstacles that once made Beijing’s bid seem a long shot, and faced down new ones, including an unending pandemic and mounting international concern over its authoritarian behavior. – New York Times 

With less than two weeks to go before the start of the Winter Games in Beijing, several Olympics sponsors are skipping what is usually an Olympics-themed advertising blitz. – Wall Street Journal 

The western alliance has threatened the Kremlin with “massive” and “unprecedented” sanctions if Russia attacks Ukraine. But, as the Ukraine crisis reaches boiling point, western efforts to isolate and punish Russia are likely to be undermined by the support of China — Russia’s giant neighbour. – Financial Times 

China said it opposed sanctions by the U.S. on three Chinese companies accused of engaging in the proliferation of missile technology. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: The IOC has promised that, starting in 2024, it will take greater account of potential host nations’ human rights records; it’s an easy promise, since Western democracies have already been awarded the Games through 2028. Meanwhile, Mr. Bach continues to inveigh hypocritically against the “politicization” of the Games. In fact, the 2022 Winter Games shape up as yet another opportunity for China to further its paramount political goal: forcing the world to see it as the Communist Party prefers, not as it really is. – Washington Post 

Editorial: Palihapitiya and other big-tech billionaires have enriched themselves for far too long by doing business with the Chinese communists and their related corporate enterprises. Neither the Chinese regime nor the Communist Party respects U.S. laws or sovereignty. It is far past time for Congress to explore ways to decouple the U.S. economy from that of China. – Washington Examiner 

Kevin Rudd writes: The Chinese economy could face even tougher times in 2022, leading many to expect the stimulus spigot to be opened for Mr. Xi’s election year. If so, we should expect the rumblings of political discontent to get louder. But given the president’s control over much of the party’s security apparatus and personnel files, and his gifts for the dark arts of internal Chinese politics, Mr. Xi is likely to continue in power come November. – Wall Street Journal  

Rebeccah L. Heinrichs writes: War is always a tragic outcome — but it is sometimes not the worst outcome. We could simply let the Chinese Communists take democratic Taiwan and the rest of Eurasia while we focus on worthy domestic debates and crises at home; and when we are finished with those domestic fights, we will look up to see that our country is at the mercy of Xi Jinping’s Chinese Communism. It is not a good trade. We can successfully take on our domestic challenges while deterring CCP domination, and in doing so, preserve and strengthen American security and the American way of life — and we must. – The Federalist


China flew 39 warplanes toward Taiwan in its largest such sortie of the new year, continuing a pattern that the island has answered by scrambling its own jets in response. – Associated Press 

The popular Chinese messaging application WeChat appears to have blocked access to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s account, leading one senator to call for a parliament-wide boycott of the service. – Bloomberg 

President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday used their first formal meeting to discuss concerns about China’s growing military assertiveness that’s causing increasing disquiet in the Pacific. – Associated Press 

Armenian President Armen Sarkissian has resigned from the largely ceremonial role after four years. – Bloomberg 

Four presidential aspirants in the Philippines had varying strategies to resolve disputes in the South China Sea including through building alliances with other nations and boosting military presence in the region, according to interviews with GMA News. – Bloomberg 

Twitter Inc. suspended more than 300 accounts reportedly promoting Philippines presidential frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., citing a violation of its policies against platform manipulation and spam. – Bloomberg 

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev vowed to take on the country’s entrenched oligarchs after protests over fuel price increases early this year swelled into deadly riots in the central Asian nation. – Bloomberg 

Arif Rafiq writes: Pakistan put nearly all of its eggs into one basket and is learning the limits of what it means to be an “ally” of China. Its predicament offers lessons for other smaller countries on navigating a new era of the U.S.-China rivalry: Don’t blindly pursue China as an alternative to the United States. In commerce and trade, China’s approach is mercantilist for friends and foes alike. – New York Times 

Svante E. Cornell writes: Washington has an instrument for dialogue that is regional in nature. A first step should be to convene a meeting of the C5+1 mechanism including America and the five regional states to signal that America continues to care about developments in the region and is ready to step up efforts to support reform initiatives and regionalism in Central Asia. […]While much remains to be done, these steps would kickstart a reboot of U.S. policy toward Central Asia. – The National Interest 


The Biden administration is threatening to use a novel export control to damage strategic Russian industries, from artificial intelligence and quantum computing to civilian aerospace, if Moscow invades Ukraine, administration officials say. – Washington Post 

An increasingly anxious Europe is waking up to the threat posed by Russia’s military buildup on the borders of Ukraine, but deep divisions among and within European nations stand in the way of a unified Western response. – Washington Post 

Ukraine is counting on the support of the United States and other Western nations to ward off a potential renewed invasion by Russia, which has massed some 100,000 troops near the former Soviet republic’s border. Moscow also recently moved forces into Belarus, Ukraine’s Kremlin-aligned neighbor, in what the Russians are portraying — to widespread Western skepticism — as a regular exercise. – Washington Post 

The British government on Saturday accused Russia of organizing a plot to install a pro-Moscow government in Ukraine, as the Kremlin masses troops and materiel near the Ukrainian border in what Western officials fear is an impending military assault on the neighboring nation. – Washington Post 

Germany’s dependence on Russian gas has left Europe short of options to sanction Moscow if it invades Ukraine—and itself vulnerable should Russia stop gas exports to the West. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States and Russia scaled back their confrontational rhetoric over Eastern European security on Friday, agreeing to extend negotiations as the Biden administration pursues a fragile diplomatic path to averting a Russian invasion of Ukraine. – New York Times 

The European Union does not plan to withdraw diplomats’ families from Ukraine at the moment, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday after Washington announced such a move, pointing out a military attack by Russia could come at any time. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected pressure to immediately escalate sanctions on Russia for its military buildup around Ukraine, saying it would limit western options in the future. – Bloomberg 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday rejected a British claim that the Kremlin is seeking to replace Ukraine’s government with a pro-Moscow administration, and that former Ukrainian lawmaker Yevheniy Murayev is a potential candidate. – Associated Press 

Editorial: U.S. and European officials should stress that while NATO is not actively advancing Ukraine’s candidacy, the process will not be canceled at Putin’s behest — and that future decisions about expansion will depend on Russia’s conduct toward its neighbors. Biden should back leaders in Finland and Sweden and endorse proposals for their countries to gain quick membership in NATO if Russia invades Ukraine. The message to Putin should be unmistakable: Any further escalation in Ukraine will result in a larger and better-armed NATO. – Bloomberg 

Fiona Hill writes: But he assumes that some NATO allies will be reluctant to follow suit on these sanctions and other countries will look the other way. U.N. censure, widespread and vocal international opposition, and countries outside Europe taking action to pull back on their relations with Russia might give him pause. Forging a united front with its European allies and rallying broader support should be America’s longer game. Otherwise this saga could indeed mark the beginning of the end of America’s military presence in Europe. – New York Times 

John Bolton writes: Playing small ball with Putin, as Biden is doing, will not durably protect Ukraine or other endangered states. Biden’s inadequate and now incoherent policy is not deterring Russian military action, and timidity simply incentivizes Putin to increase his demands. We risk a downward spiral of NATO concessions to avoid military conflict today, but which will only increase its likelihood soon thereafter. – New York Post 

Abraham D. Sofaer writes: Given that neither NATO nor Europe will come to Ukraine’s defense, it should carefully consider its interests. If Putin insists on Ukraine’s capitulation, Ukraine will fight. But if Putin agrees to significant political and economic concessions, Ukraine should readily give up a NATO membership application that has no practical value. – The Hill 

Brian Atwood writes: The ball is now in Putin’s court. Let us hope that he will appreciate the costs his nation will incur for the “privilege” of trying to control a Ukrainian society united in its opposition to corruption and its support for freedom. – The Hill 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Russia knows that this model works. Western countries no longer do anything, and they are afraid to stand up to authoritarians. This means Russia might go farther than Iran does. The Islamic Republic relied on the West to sell itself a deal; Moscow can’t rely on the West to sell itself appeasement. This is because it already appeased Russia in other places. Russia’s calculation must look at the Iran model and other examples to see if it can get what it wants in Ukraine without a war. Once the war begins, it could be unpredictable and can’t easily be stopped. – Jerusalem Post 

Dalibor Rohac writes: There has been a change in European policies toward Russia, particularly after the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 in the summer of 2014. Given the puny response that Russian sabre-rattling is receiving this time around – and given the sorry state of Europe’s militaries – that change has not gone anywhere near where it should have. […]One can only hope that Europeans, particularly the Germans, can catch up without being forced into doing so by a major military conflagration at their doorstep. – The Spectator 

Edward Fishman and Chris Miller write: Russia may have the advantage on the battlefield in Ukraine, but the West has vast power over Russia’s economy. It should be prepared to use it — and also be prepared for the costs. – Politico 

Olga Lautman writes: Back home, emotions are far from cool. Since last month, the voices of the state (be they politicians, journalists, philosophers, or analysts) have been indulging in extreme language, some of which sounds like warmongering. Ruling party members of the Duma vie with one another to make ever-more outlandish and inflammatory comments. Take Deputy Yevgeny Fyodorov, who proposed a nuclear (or non-nuclear) warning strike against the United States, but targeted at one of the more sparsely populated areas, like the Nevada nuclear testing site. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Michael Kofman writes: This crisis reveals a problem in U.S. strategy. European security remains much more unsettled than it appears. The most militarily powerful state on the continent does not see itself as a stakeholder in Europe’s security architecture. […]The United States will have to manage China and Russia, at the same time, for the foreseeable future. For U.S. strategy, it was never going to be China only, but it will prove exceedingly difficult to make it China mostly — not as long as Russia gets a vote. –  War on the Rocks 

Melinda Haring writes: The most probable scenario is this: Russia bludgeons Ukraine with a massive cyberattack while cutting power and heat. […]The goal is simple—force the Ukrainian government to the negotiating table on its knees. But Ukrainians will resist, and that stout resistance could ensure that Moscow becomes enmeshed in a conflict that turns into a quagmire for it. Putin would do well to ponder the possible consequences of a gamble gone awry that could threaten his legacy. – The National Interest 


The State Department ordered the departure of all family members of U.S. Embassy personnel serving in Kyiv on Sunday, citing the “threat of Russian military action.” – Washington Post  

Britain seized the world’s attention on Saturday by accusing President Vladimir V. Putin of plotting to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, a dramatic late-night announcement that instantly thrust it on to the front lines of the most dangerous security crisis in Europe in decades. – New York Times 

Serbia says Chinese investment has helped it achieve economic growth of over 7 percent last year, among the highest in Europe.But the furor over working conditions has set back Serbia’s yearslong effort to join the European Union, whose view of China has become increasingly jaundiced. – New York Times 

The head of the German navy resigned on Saturday after saying that Russia would never surrender Crimea to Ukraine and that President Vladimir Putin only wanted respect, in comments that caused a diplomatic row between Berlin and Kyiv. – Wall Street Journal 

Germany is blocking North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally Estonia from giving military support to Ukraine by refusing to issue permits for German-origin weapons to be exported to Kyiv as it braces for a potential Russian invasion. – Wall Street Journal 

Ukraine’s military intelligence service said on Friday that Russia was sending mercenaries into rebel-held territories in eastern Ukraine, along with tanks, mobile artillery units and 7,000 tons of fuel, raising fears of military escalation in the region. – New York Times 

Estonia’s prime minister called for a greater US presence in the Baltics to deter Russia as she made a plea for the west to remain united and not give even the smallest concession to Moscow. – Financial Times 

The Baltic states have received approval from Washington to send American-made weaponry to Ukraine to help the country fend off a potential Russian invasion, according to a Jan. 21 joint statement by the defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. – Defense News 

Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Sunday the country had received a second consignment of weapons from the United States as part of defensive aid totalling $200 million. – Reuters  

Tom Rogan writes: Even when Germany pretends that it cares about the democratic international order, its lack of genuine interest quickly becomes obvious. […]Contrast Germany’s South China Sea experience with that of France, which has sent nuclear attack submarines to train with U.S. Navy counterparts for battle with an advanced adversary. Mr. Biden suggests that Germany is one of America’s most important allies. Given Berlin’s policies toward the nation’s two pre-eminent adversaries, it’s hard to see how Mr. Biden’s claim holds up. – Wall Street Journal 

David Ignatius writes: It’s a dizzying and frightening prospect, to imagine a war triggered by a doomed attempt to rewrite history. The most reassuring note is that Ukrainians, in the eye of the storm, don’t appear all that worried. I posed to Ukraine’s defense official the question asked by Gen. David H. Petraeus at the beginning of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, “Tell me how this ends.” The official answered without hesitation: with Ukrainian sovereignty over all of its territory. – Washington Post 

Oxana Schmies writes: Germany loves peace, but paradoxically, its historically grounded fear of war could fuel a conflict if it weakens Western deterrence. For now, a change in policy looks unlikely. Any change in outlook may arrive after the consequences of an overly pacific policy have become clear. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Nikos Tsafos writes: Therein lies a final irony in the European energy chessboard. Europe has built its defenses since the energy crises of 2006 and 2009. […]But the European attitude toward Russia may be changing, partly due to a crass effort by Russia to remind Europe of its dependence on Russian gas. Europe is much better insulated today against a disruption of gas supplies through Ukraine, even if such an interruption would still hurt. But Europe’s tolerance for such dependence, and Russia’s antics, might be dwindling. That is the front to watch as this crisis unfolds. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Alex Smith writes: And it so happens that a substantial part of Ukraine’s most productive agricultural land is located in its eastern regions, exactly those parts most vulnerable to a potential Russian attack. As the war clouds gather along Ukraine’s borders, one concern that has gone relatively unnoticed is the question of what happens to these regions—and to the countries around the world that depend on Ukraine for food—in the case of a Russian attack. – Foreign Policy


Gunfire erupted at military bases across this conflict-hit West African country early on Sunday as part of an attempted mutiny by soldiers angered by their government’s failure to halt a wave of Islamist militant attacks. – New York Times 

Burkina Faso President Roch Kabore has been detained at a military camp by mutinying soldiers, two security sources and a West African diplomat said on Monday, following heavy gunfire around his residence on Sunday night in the capital Ouagadougou. – Reuters 

Sunday’s mutiny underscores the political consequences of the growing Islamist insurgency across West Africa’s Sahel region. The militants have seized control of swaths of territory across landlocked Burkina Faso and neighbours Mali and Niger. – Reuters 

A French soldier has been killed in a mortar shelling attack on a base in Mali, the military said Sunday. The 24-year-old artilleryman, Alexandre Martin, was serving with France’s anti-insurgent force Operation Barkhane, according to a statement from the French army. – Associated Press 

Ivory Coast will spend 32 billion CFA francs ($55 million) to create jobs in the north in a bid to offer an alternative to jihadist recruitment. – Bloomberg 

Ethiopia’s military is planning to enter the Tigray regional capital of Mekelle and “eliminate” rebellious forces, a top military official said late on Friday amid diplomatic efforts to end conflict in the country’s north. – Reuters

The Americas

Mexico’s plan to favor its own state-owned electrical power plants and limit energy sales by private, foreign-built projects could affect U.S. investment in Mexico, officials said during bilateral talks this week. – Associated Press 

The U.S. Treasury Department banned transactions of a key bond issued by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company for one year, the longest since it first stepped in to shield its U.S.-based refining arm from creditors, amid its economic downfall and political crisis. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: The Havana regime really isn’t fooling anyone with the sham proceedings. […]The mere fact that some families of detainees are willing to tell their stories to the international media is encouraging. It is now more evident than ever that Cuba’s communists rule by force rather than consent. And they can’t imprison everyone. – Washington Post 

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: The Biden administration could counteract the regime’s disinformation by launching a high-profile campaign in favor of a transparent pathway for Cubans to receive dollar remittances directly like other nations do. Mr. López Calleja would refuse, of course, because as one Cuban who knows the general puts it, “Luis Alberto doesn’t like to share.” But that’s all the more reason to make it an issue. – Wall Street Journal 

United States

Florida police are investigating the origins of antisemitic fliers left overnight at hundreds of homes in the Miami Beach area, local officials said Sunday, denouncing the latest incident to rattle Jewish communities in the United States. – Washington Post  

The Biden administration’s top national security officials — nearly all of them with extensive foreign policy experience under previous Democratic presidents — knew when they took office that the world had changed since they had last served. – Washington Post 

In celebrating a $20 billion investment by Intel in a new semiconductor plant in Ohio, President Biden sought on Friday to jump-start a stalled element of his economic and national security agenda: a huge federal investment in manufacturing, research and development in technologies that China is also seeking to dominate. – New York Times 

Bret Stephens writes: There’s much to be thankful for about how things ended last week in Texas, and about the outpouring of love and support, across faiths, for a little Jewish community. But the wise counsel for Jews is to be grateful for last week’s good luck, while taking it as a warning that our luck in America may run out. – New York Times 


Russia has detained four members of the Infraud Organization, an international cybercrime ring, the state-run Tass news service reported. – Bloomberg 

Russia’s proposed ban on cryptocurrencies could destroy several technology industries and drive IT professionals abroad, said Pavel Durov, CEO and co-founder of the Telegram messaging app. – Bloomberg 

Intelligence reports suggesting one of Russia’s European allies perpetrated last week’s hacking of Ukrainian government websites are creating a new dilemma for the Biden administration — how to respond if other countries launch cyberattacks on Russia’s behalf. – Politico 


Despite repeated warnings from uniformed Pentagon leaders and lawmakers of both parties that a full-year continuing resolution will hurt national security, some defense industry advocates are still worried about an impasse. – Defense News 

A multibillion-dollar missile defense system owned by the United Arab Emirates and developed by the U.S. military intercepted a ballistic missile on Monday during a deadly attack by Houthi militants in Abu Dhabi, marking the system’s first known use in a military operation, Defense News has learned. – Defense News 

The U.S. Navy’s program office for amphibious connectors is confident it can get its Ship to Shore Connector production line up to the desired four-a-year delivery rate in 2022 — despite past technical problems that led to production line slowdowns. – Defense News 

The aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman and its strike group will team up with NATO forces next week in the Mediterranean Sea to launch a new maritime exercise: Neptune Strike ‘22. – Military Times 

The Air Force still has enough time to wrap up tests of its first hypersonic missile and begin production by the end of the fiscal year, the service’s program executive for weapons believes. – Breaking Defense