Fdd's overnight brief

July 12, 2022

In The News

Russia & Ukraine

United Nations will investigate the death of children in Ukraine. UN Secretary Genera, Mr. Guterres made the announcement on Monday in his annual “Children and Armed Conflict” report, with Ukraine being included in it for the first time. – New York Times

Ukrainian authorities were working to pull people from the rubble of a residential building in the east of the country, which Ukrainian officials described as one of a series of civilian sites hit by Russian missiles or long-range artillery in recent days. – Wall Street Journal

Within a war between Russia and Ukraine is another war: between Chechens who have pledged their loyalty to Moscow and Chechens who say those fighters are traitors for joining forces with the country that bombarded their towns and cities decades ago. – Washington Post

Taira, a famed Ukrainian medic is one of the thousands of Ukrainians believed to have been taken prisoner by Russian forces. Mariupol’s mayor said recently that 10,000 people from his city alone have disappeared either by capture or while trying to flee. The Geneva Conventions single out medics, both military and civilian, for protection “in all circumstances.” – Associated Press

Russia is using the simplified procedure for issuing passports to tighten the noose around the necks of residents of the temporarily occupied territories of our state, forcing them to participate in the criminal activities of the occupying administrations and the Russian army of aggression, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Associated Press

Britain’s leading role in providing weapons to Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion will endure, whoever replaces Boris Johnson as prime minister, the country’s ambassador to NATO has said, amid concerns in Kyiv that a successor could fail to match his focus on the war. – Financial Times

A ruling by a Russian court that threatened to halt oil exports along Kazakhstan’s most important pipeline has been overturned, temporarily easing fears about a further disruption to global oil supplies. – Financial Times

At least seven people were killed in an attack by Ukrainian armed forces on Monday in the Russian-held town of Nova Kakhovka in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, Russian state news agency TASS said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The global price of oil could surge by 40% to around $140 per barrel if a proposed price cap on Russian oil is not adopted, along with sanction exemptions that would allow shipments below that price, a senior U.S. Treasury official said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The Russian parliament’s organising council was due to meet on Monday to decide on calling an extraordinary meeting of parliament on July 15, but it was not immediately clear what was to be discussed. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan plan to meet in the near future after a phone conversation in which they discussed efforts to facilitate grain exports from Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Monday. – Reuters

The Kremlin falsely claims the worst Nazis were actually Jews, and seeks to downplay the role of antisemitism in Nazi ideology, a report by US administration reads. – Times of Israel

Yevgeny Yunakov, chief administrator of Velikyi Burluk, a Russian occupied town in Khariv, Ukraine has been killed by a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group. – Reuters

Hal Brands writes: The war in Ukraine has shattered the stability of Eastern Europe. It is also straining one of the great American and global achievements of the postwar era: A system that kept the club of nuclear-weapon states small and exclusive. – Bloomberg

Alena Popova writes: It is imperative to continue to fight against Russia’s total surveillance regime and its monopoly over sources of information. Effective solutions include increasing citizens’ digital literacy to help to spread the use of VPNs, developing state-independent access to the internet such as Elon Musk’s Starlink system, actively promoting alternative information via the internet and excluding from sanctions the equipment necessary to ensure the operation of the internet. Russians need to be provided with access to alternative sources of information. Only then can Russian civil society change the current political regime. – The Hill

David Lingelbach writes: Another way in which Putin might secure his domestic legacy is to establish a new Russian capital beyond the Urals, further from perceived Western military threats and closer to Eurasia’s epicenter. […]Whatever direction he takes, it seems increasingly clear to Putin that Russia will eventually be able to declare some kind of victory in Ukraine. He seems ready to move on and lean in even further to the uncertainty his actions have created. Uncertainty that creates new opportunities for him and for Russia. What’s next? More change, not less. – The Hill

Daniel Altman writes: Ever since proposals for a no-fly zone failed, the desire to do more for Ukraine has struggled to crystallize around a prudent and realistic plan. Foreign volunteers is the right policy to explore. Coupled with abandoning unnecessary limits on which arms NATO members send to Ukraine, this is how NATO can more effectively support Ukraine without starting World War III. – Foreign Affairs


Iran is preparing to provide Russia with drones for the battlefield in Ukraine, as well as training for its forces to use them, a senior White House official said Monday. – Wall Street Journal

Shin Bet to further question twenty citizens in their attempts to aid the efforts of an Iranin agent to gather intelligence in Israel. – Times of Israel

The PM of Jordan has expressed that the country has never treated Iran as threat to its national security, despite earlier statements by both Jordan’s King Abdullah II and security officials in the country to the contrary. – Jerusalem Post

There is one issue connecting US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel with his participation at the I2U2 forum (with Israel, the UAE and India) and his visit to Riyadh, which will include a GCC summit of the Gulf countries. This issue is Iran. – Jerusalem Post

Bobby Ghosh writes: But the Brits shouldn’t exhale just yet. Indeed, the events of last week should put all Western governments on high alert for diplomatic theatrics and threats from Tehran as Iran is backed into a corner by crises at home and abroad. Arresting high-profile foreigners, or even claiming to, and parading them on TV allows the regime to shift blame for what ails the country onto perfidious outsiders and gives it bargaining chips for negotiations with the West. – Bloomberg

Michael Eisenstadt writes: Washington should be prepared for the possibility that Iran or one of its proxies will try to upstage the president’s visit, as happened in 2017. […]Finally, Washington should quietly remind Tehran that its last attempt to disrupt a U.S.-GCC summit set in motion a series of events that ultimately did not end well for the Islamic Republic, and had long-term consequences that it still has not recovered from. – Washington Institute

Mahmood Sariolghalam writes: The emerging multipolar international order suggests that Iran will be able to mobilize the political and economic resources needed to perpetuate the status quo — at least to an extent. Yet history and tradition may make this increasingly difficult in the coming years: To what extent will Iran’s society, educational system, and even industry, accustomed to Western habits and ideas, be willing to adapt to Russian and Chinese practices and orientations? Even if Iran, for the sake of security, intends to diversify its national security and economic options, it will still have to reach a modus vivendi with the West. – Middle East Institute

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran must consider, before acting, how it will cause the US, UK, France and others to be united against its actions. In addition, with the Iran deal talks continuing, Tehran must weigh whether it wants to upend the potential deal or use its threats to achieve one. Pushing countries in the region together into forming a defensive alliance by provoking and escalating against them could harm Iran’s interests. – Jerusalem Post


U.S. President Joe Biden wants to use his Middle East trip this week to deepen Israel’s integration in the region and will work to make progress on more normal relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the White House said on Monday. – Reuters

Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday he hoped a regional visit by U.S. President Joe Biden this week will lead to a common Middle East market that includes Saudi Arabia. – Reuters

For more than two years, the Biden administration has said that Palestinians are entitled to the same measure of “freedom, security and prosperity” enjoyed by Israelis. Instead, they’ve gotten U.S. aid and permits to work inside Israel and its Jewish settlements. – Associated Press

The family of a teenage Israeli American girl who was killed in a 2001 Palestinian suicide bombing is hoping to secure a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss pressuring Jordan to extradite one of the perpetrators. – Washington Examiner

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has said that Israel would bring Joe Biden up to speed on progress toward building a regional military alliance against Iran during the US president’s visit this week. – Times of Israel

In advance of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and to Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian leadership, headed by President Mahmoud ‘Abbas, clearly articulated what it expected the visit to yield – namely the fulfilment of a series of commitments they claim Biden made them during his election campaign and since the start of his presidency. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Zev Chafets writes: The Biden-Netanyahu meeting could be an opportunity for Bibi. Trump is rumored to be on the verge of announcing another presidential run. He may want Bibi’s support, but he shouldn’t get it. Bibi no longer needs Donald Trump. Bibi’s voters belong to him. Trump, in Israeli politics, was just a prop. – Bloomberg

Anna Ahronheim writes: According to a senior defense source, Iran and its proxies have launched more missile and UAV attacks against Gulf States than at Israel. As rocket and drone attacks by Iran have increased, there have been talks between Israel and several Gulf states to understand what is most relevant to counter the threats. The countermeasures may include a regional alliance, an implementation of defense systems or both. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia

The full normalization of diplomatic ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia is likely to take time and unfold in a series of smaller steps rather than the sweeping agreements signed with other Arab states, Israel’s deputy foreign minister Idan Roll said on Monday. – Bloomberg

The fallout from the war in Ukraine, which has sent global oil prices higher, has created an opening to put relations between Washington and the world’s biggest crude producer back on track, and deliver dividends for both sides, officials and analysts in the US and the Gulf say. – Financial Times

The Biden administration is discussing the possible lifting of its ban on U.S. sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia, but any final decision is expected to hinge on whether Riyadh makes progress toward ending the war in neighboring Yemen, according to four people familiar with the matter. – Reuters

President Joe Biden has not met with the widow or family of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi ahead of his pending trip to Saudi Arabia. Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to the press on Monday about the trip, but when his prepared remarks ended, the first questions he was asked concerned Khashoggi and whether Biden has met with his family. – Washington Examiner

Fred Ryan writes: President Biden needs the Saudis to increase their oil production to help keep global energy prices in check. His trip to Saudi Arabia sends the message that the United States is willing to look the other way when its commercial interests are at stake. – Washington Post

Hasan Ismaik writes: The US and Saudi Arabia need one another’s support equally. If approached respectfully, the Biden visit can lead to the establishment of a new basis for Arab action in helping resolving the complex, multifaceted issues in the Middle East and international affairs. If so, history will record that the US’s renewed its partnership with Saudi Arabia, helped the world avoid the scourge of a new world war and saved millions of lives. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

The Egyptian president has raised a report about the collective grave of Egyptian soldiers during the Six Day War with Israel. President Lapid has directed his military secretary “to examine the issue in-depth and to update Egyptian officials,” the statement from his office reads. – Reuters

The Biden administration is exploring the creation of a new international committee to document and report on human rights violations in Yemen, months after a Saudi lobbying campaign quashed an independent United Nations investigation into possible war crimes. – The Guardian

 A spokesman for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi published a statement on Sunday night, following the President’s phone call with Prime Minister Yair Lapid. The Spokesman for the Presidency said Lapid “extended greetings to President Al-Sisi on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha. For his part, President Al-Sisi congratulated Prime Minister Lapid on assuming the duties of his new post.” – Arutz Sheva

The U.N. Security Council appears set to allow U.N. deliveries of aid to some 4 million people in northwest Syria from Turkey until January, diplomats said on Monday, after days of wrangling with Russia over how long to let the huge operation continue. – Reuters

President Joe Biden directed the National Security Council to meet with the Syrian government to discuss detained journalist Austin Tice, according to his parents. – Washington Examiner

Korean Peninsula

South Korea is beefing up security for high-profile figures in light of the assassination of Japan’s former premier Shinzo Abe, officials said on Tuesday, including for an LGBTQ pride parade that the new U.S. ambassador is expected to attend this weekend. – Reuters

More than a year after Shanghai and South Korea stock exchanges signed an agreement to cross list exchange traded funds, issuers in China and South Korea say there has been no progress. – Financial Times

South Korea is expected to purchase 20 new F-35A Block 4 Lightning II stealth fighters for the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) – indicating plans for a wider shift in the defense posture of South Korea and signalling a change in the threat priorities as viewed from Seoul. – USNI News

South Korea will establish a strategic command by 2024 to oversee the country’s preemptive strike strategy and the assets to execute it, the Defense Ministry said during a meeting with the newly elected president. – Defense News


Hundreds of bank customers demonstrating over frozen deposits were attacked by men in plainclothes in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, marking a violent end to one of China’s largest public protests in recent years. – Wall Street Journal

The top U.S. diplomat in Hong Kong on Monday urged China to ease political pressure on the city, warning that the “crude and chilling” use of a sweeping national security law threatened its role as an international business hub. – Reuters

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said on Monday that countries should avoid being used as “chess pieces” by global powers in a region that he said was at risk of being reshaped by geopolitical factors. – Reuters

China has handed the US a blueprint for their co-existence in Asia Pacific, as the world’s two largest economies continue to clash in the region on security issues. – Bloomberg

Brent D. Sadler writes: Given the nature of the Chinese threat, this integration will mean that the United States must develop the capacity to build, sustain, and recapitalize losses of a larger fleet needed to deter and fight a long war with China. Doing so requires new designs allowing ships to be built in multiple shipyards and at faster rates, without jeopardizing the viability of existing shipyards that are producing major combatants, such as nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. Getting the balance of mission, capability, and production times right will be critical in this shipbuilding race with China. – Heritage Foundation

South Asia

Sri Lankan politics were in turmoil as opposition parties worked to form an interim government, despite confusion over the whereabouts of the president, who hasn’t yet personally confirmed that he will step down to make way for new leadership. – Wall Street Journal

Sri Lanka’s central bank governor signalled on Monday he would stay in the job but warned that prolonged political instability in the country may delay progress on negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package. – Reuters

Kapil Komireddi writes: The calamity unfolding in Sri Lanka is the culmination of a perfect storm of causes — debilitating debt, China’s geopolitical ambitions, the pandemic, the turmoil in global food and fuel markets caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and — underlying it all — the hubris and recklessness of the Rajapaksa dynasty. – New York Times


The recent attendance by four Asia Pacific leaders at the NATO summit reflects a “consequential shift” in the U.S. transatlantic security partnership which Washington seeks to expand to better counter China, a senior U.S. diplomat told Reuters. – Reuters

Taiwan would be “happy” to see its chip firms invest in the European Union but deeper ties with the bloc akin to Taipei’s relations with Washington could help pave the way for that, a senior Taiwanese official told Reuters. – Reuters

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will emphasize the strength of the U.S. economy despite high inflation and a 1.6% annualized drop in first quarter gross domestic product when she meets with Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki on Tuesday, a senior Treasury official told reporters. – Reuters

Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles has called for the US to grow its military presence in the Indo-Pacific, warning that a failure to maintain the balance of power in the region could be “catastrophic.” – Bloomberg

Senior US officials are spreading out across Asia following Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s brief trip to the region, in the next phase of a diplomatic charm offensive that comes after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi carried out extensive travel there in recent weeks. – Bloomberg

Editorial: The proposed amendment would only legalize what is already reality — Japan has land, sea and air forces. It would not repeal the renunciation of war, but would ease Japanese help with collective security, possibly including defense of Taiwan. – Washington Post


The flow of natural gas from Russia to Germany via a crucial undersea pipeline stopped on Monday, as the link went offline for a 10-day scheduled maintenance period, testing Europe’s resolve to wean itself off abundant Russian fuel supplies.- New York Times

The revelations between between Uber and Macron during his time as economy minister have prompted mounting calls for a parliamentary inquiry, with some members of the opposition describing the content of the documents as a looming “state scandal” and potential evidence of a “collusion of interests.” – Washington Post

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would resign once a successor is chosen, after senior members of his government turned against him and urged him to stand down following a series of scandals. It is a stunning reversal for a politician who has dominated politics since the campaign to pull the U.K. out of the European Union, and leaves the ruling Conservative Party with a difficult choice—who should replace him? – Wall Street Journal

The United States supports Canada’s decision to return a repaired turbine to Germany that is needed for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, the State Department said on Monday, a move aimed at ensuring continued flows of energy to Europe amid shortages that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters

Police detained a man with an explosive device in a downtown Warsaw street where over 300 people werewere taking part in a remembrance march for the victims of World War II massacres of Poles. – Associated Press

A fatal stabbing incident at an anuual political event in Sweden is now being labelled as an act of terror. The accused has links to the neo-Nazi group NMR, the Nordic Resistance Movement – Associated Press

Editorial: The hope may be that renewables (and the battery technology to make them suitable for an industrial economy) will develop quickly enough to make this a moot point soon. But that’s only a hope. It’s more likely that coal will be needed for years as Berlin abandons the nuclear investment and know-how that could have served Germany for years to come. The big lesson from this year’s energy crisis is that Europe’s vulnerabilities were a choice, not an inevitability. Rather than learning from that mistake, German politicians have chosen to repeat it. – Wall Street Journal


Seven people were killed and two injured in an explosion in northern Togo on Saturday night, the army said in a statement late on Sunday. – Reuters

A Spanish court has ruled that an autopsy be performed on the body of Angola’s former president José Eduardo dos Santos who died in a clinic in Barcelona on Friday at the age of 79, a court spokeswoman said on Monday. – Reuters

Police are hunting for five attackers who burst into a bar in Soweto, South Africa and killed 15 customers in a hail of at least 137 bullets over the weekend, the police minister said on Monday. – Reuters

U.N. officials will investigate the killing and wounding of children in Ukraine, Ethiopia and Mozambique, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said on Monday in a report that found 2,515 children were killed and 5,555 maimed in global conflicts in 2021. – Reuters

Tony Elumelu writes: We need a catalyst for a sustained, substantive relationship between Africa and the U.S. There is so much to gain from our shared history, culture, and outlook. The second summit could be the beginning of a new chapter in U.S.-Africa relations, one in which we engage as equal partners, leverage the power of the private sector, and reimagine support in a form that promotes self-reliance and independence. – The Hill

Gyimah-Boadi writes: The last five years, and especially the last two, have seen a dangerous turn toward authoritarianism in West Africa, one that is threatening to unwind the hard-won democratic gains of the last two decades. But it is too early to write the region off. A fierce resistance is taking shape, led by young people whose material expectations and aspirations for democracy have, for too long, gone unmet. Bold and tech savvy, these activists are reinvigorating the fight against corruption and poor governance and the crusade for human rights. To win, however, they need international support. – Foreign Affairs

The Americas

María Elvira Salazar and Brendan Carr write: America has a unique role in the world. We are the bastion of liberty and remain the brightest beacon of hope and freedom history has ever known. The Cuban people wave the American flag when they take to the streets of Havana for that reason. It is time that we stand with the Cuban people and implement Operation Starfall, restoring internet services in Cuba. – FOX News

The United States will renew but not expand Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans in the country, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Monday, a move that leaves tens of thousands of recently arrived Venezuelans without access to the humanitarian program. – Reuters

Gideon Rachman writes: The biggest threat to a revival of U.S. global leadership, however, lies at home. American democracy has rarely seemed so fragile. If Donald Trump retakes the White House on the back of conspiracy theories and ethnic nationalism, most of the EU will be appalled—and the Western alliance will be in severe trouble, once again. – The National Interest

Latin America

Brazil is negotiating to buy cheaper diesel from Russia as part of a strategy to reduce domestic fuel prices, according to President Jair Bolsonaro. – Bloomberg

Argentina needs to achieve a balanced budget and fulfill its agreement with the International Monetary Fund, new Economy Minister Silvina Batakis said in an attempt to calm market jitters after a turbulent week. – Bloomberg

A U.S. citizen who has been detained in Venezuela for several years is calling on President Biden to negotiate his release from a Venezuelan prison. Jorge Toledo, who was sentenced to prison along with five other American oil executives in 2020, was convicted of corruption charges after traveling to Venezuela on a work trip with oil company Citgo. – The Hill

Parjanya Christian Holtz writes: I originally set out to explain the tactics the Cuban government has used to keep its population in check for more than half a century. I do that with this short film. But in meeting Barrero and Jiménez Enoa, the conceptual story became a personal one. They were told they are not wanted by their own country because they need to speak and write freely, to not be persecuted, arrested or tortured for demanding basic rights. This video exposes the propaganda machine that sold Cubans and the world a lie about Castro’s revolution, and the costs of correcting the record. – Washington Post


Washington has worked closely over the last three decades with the private sector and allies to promote a vision of a global, open, secure, and interoperable internet, but the reality of cyberspace is now starkly different. – The Record

An investment fund supported by the White House and partially bankrolled by tech heavyweights Peter Thiel, Eric Schmidt and Craig Newmark is making a big bet that “deep technologies” will give the U.S. the edge over China — especially when it comes to cybersecurity. – CyberScoop

Growing worries about digital assaults on critical infrastructure compounded by the war in Ukraine are reviving questions about the ability of cybersecurity insurance to cover the risks of a catastrophic attack. – CyberScoop


As the US Air force service shifts from the last 20 years of fighting in the Middle East toward a potential conflict against China or Russia and their modern militaries, it needs to change how it rescues downed pilots and other personnel to account for the far more complex threat environments they’d face. – Defense News

NASA made history, forever changing deep-space astronomy, when it released the first full-color image from its James Webb Space Telescope on Monday. – Business Insider

One of the U.S. Navy’s elite air-fighters, an F/A-18 Super Hornet, was lost at sea last week near Naples, Italy, after it was blown overboard by “unexpected” heavy winds, a Navy official said. – FOX News