Fdd's overnight brief

July 27, 2022

In The News

Russia & Ukraine

The Biden administration, prompted by Kyiv’s recent successes in blunting Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, has begun reversing course on potentially providing advanced weapons like fighter aircraft that it earlier said could escalate the conflict with Moscow. – Wall Street Journal

Five months into the war, thousands of Ukrainians who fled the Russian invasion and occupation can’t find steady employment or places to live and are heading back home—even if that means trekking across the front lines into Russian-occupied territory. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s president accused Russia of waging a “gas war” on Europe, following Moscow’s announcement that it would further reduce natural-gas deliveries to the region, and urged Ukraine’s allies to hit back at Russia with additional sanctions. – Wall Street Journal

Russia on Tuesday announced it will withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) project after 2024, signaling an end of an era in one of the last remaining areas of cooperation between Russia and the United States.-  Washington Post

Dmytro Podrezov’s booming logistics company once sent tens of thousands of tons of grain by ship each year from the port city of Odessa to customers around the world, but the war changed everything. – Washington Post

Ali Pirbudagov’s weapons are parked under the cover of trees and camouflage nets. They’re all older than he is, dating back to a time when Ukraine and Russia fought together in the Red Army. Now, Pirbudagov has to use them against Russian troops attacking with more-modern equipment. – Washington Post

Mr. Yashin’s arrest highlights the rapidly constricting avenues for dissent inside Russia as Mr. Putin cracks down on any divergence from the official narrative of the invasion. Beyond that, it has reignited the debate among the Russian opposition over how leading figures like Mr. Yashin can best serve the cause of undermining Mr. Putin: outside the country they want to reform, or inside a penal colony? – New York Times

Britain said on Tuesday it had sanctioned Kremlin-imposed officials in the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces in eastern Ukraine as well as 29 regional governors across Russia in response to Moscow’s invasion of the former Soviet republic. – Reuters

Authorities in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Kherson have closed the city’s only bridge across the Dnieper river after it came under fire from U.S.-supplied high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS), according to Interfax and TASS reports on Wednesday. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has nominated Andriy Kostin, a lawmaker from the president’s Servant of the People party, to be the country’s next prosecutor general. – Reuters

Russia targeted Ukraine’s southern Black Sea regions of Odesa and Mykolaiv with airstrikes Tuesday, hitting private buildings and port infrastructure with missiles fired from long-range bomber aircraft, the Ukrainian military said. – Associated Press

Major U.S. and European banks should be prosecuted for “committing war crimes” over their financing of trade with the Russian regime, according to a top aide to Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. – CNBC

Russia will hold wide-ranging military drills in the country’s east as it continues regular troop training despite the action in Ukraine, Russia’s military authorities said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has approved a plan to treat wounded Ukrainian troops at a US military hospital in Germany, according to several media reports. – Business Insider

Samuel Charap and Jeremy Shapiro write: The lack of precise Russian red lines might mean that supplying the longer-range munitions Biden is withholding would not be as problematic as feared. But even if no specific weapon system will itself cause a major escalation, simply throwing more and better weapons into the mix is unlikely to solve the problem. Western weapons have clearly sustained the Ukrainian military on the battlefield, but the Russians have been willing to counter with whatever level of resources and destruction will be necessary to win or at least not to lose. – New York Times

Tom Rogan writes: In both of these developments, we see a window into Putin’s strategy. At once nuanced and brutal, the former KGB lieutenant colonel seeks to keep his adversaries off-balance with the application of nominally deniable pressure points and the occasional suggestion of compromise. But Putin’s end objective is unwavering: He wants the West to buckle under his hard choices. And cede Ukraine to his dominion. – Washington Examiner

Andreas Kluth writes: As is their wont, the EU 27 this week settled their latest spat about gas savings in the usual way: They fudged and wangled a compromise. Gas will be saved — somewhere, somehow — but so many countries will have opt-outs, loopholes and exceptions that you’d need a magnifying glass to find the solidarity. Putin saw nothing in Brussels this week to make him nervous. – Bloomberg


The European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Tuesday he has proposed a new draft text to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying there is no room left for further major compromises. – Reuters

Iran’s income from oil and condensates exports is 580% higher in the first four months of the Iranian year (March 21 to July 21) compared with the same period a year ago, the Iranian economy minister said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Iran is close to becoming a nuclear state and military action will no longer be effective in stopping the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, former prime minister Ehud Barak warned this week. – Jerusalem Post

An Iranian mother mourning the death of her son who was shot in the heart by security forces during a protest over high fuel prices in 2019 is facing 100 lashes after being convicted for speaking out against her son’s killing. – Arutz Sheva

Ali Bakir and Omer Ozkizilcik write: The Iranian threat might have been foiled for now, but it is a given that Tehran will continue to pursue the same regional policies that helped bring Ankara and Tel Aviv back together. In the future, Iranian action might even create a common ground and a shared interest for more regional countries to come closer to each other and broaden their cooperation and coordination regarding the rising Iranian threat in the region, demonstrating an even greater failure on Iran’s part to keep the region separate. – Washington Institute

Anna Borshchevskaya writes: When it comes to the Middle East, dismissing Russia and Iran as weak actors gives the two countries strategic initiative in places such as Syria. Together, they can still thwart Western interests and threaten regional security. Even more than before, Russia and Iran are integral parts of the same strategic set. – 19FortyFive

Josep Borrell writes: It is now time for swift political decisions to conclude the Vienna negotiations on the basis of my proposed text and to immediately return to a fully implemented JCPOA. The deal serves the cause of non-proliferation in return for sanctions lifting, showing that in turbulent times balanced international agreements are still possible. If the deal is rejected, we risk a dangerous nuclear crisis, set against the prospect of increased isolation for Iran and its people. It is our joint responsibility to conclude the deal. – Financial Times

Farhad Rezaei writes: The Iranians do not take the Jerusalem Declaration, a new security pact that President Joe Biden signed recently, seriously. The declaration commits the United States and its top Middle East allies to “be ready to use all elements of their national power to ensure that Iran stays nuclear-free.” However, the Iranians have a very low opinion of Biden, and they don’t expect Washington to deliver the type of muscular support needed for kinetic action. – The National Interest


The lives of Afghan women and girls are being destroyed by a “suffocating” crackdown by the Taliban since they took power nearly a year ago, Amnesty International said in a report released Wednesday. – Associated Press

House Republicans are calling on the Biden administration to release information related to the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops almost a year ago that preceded the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban retaking power. – Washington Examiner

Travelling through the scenic Andarab valley north of Kabul there is no visible sign of conflict. But whilst the Taliban are more powerful and better armed than ever before, here and in neighbouring province of Panjshir they are facing a nascent armed resistance to their rule in Afghanistan. – BBC

“Political pressure” was applied in 2016 to narrow the focus of a military police investigation into allegations of summary killings by SAS soldiers in Afghanistan, according to a legal claim made in the high court on Tuesday. – The Guardian

Lynne O’Donnell writes: The Taliban’s failure to make the leap from insurgency to governance is coming under scrutiny this week as they meet with representatives of countries that are growing increasingly concerned that after almost year in power, the extremists have again transformed Afghanistan into a global terrorist haven. – Foreign Policy


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will hold a one-day visit to the Russian resort of Sochi on August 5, his office said on Tuesday. – Reuters

On Tuesday, CNN Turk reported that while meeting with members of the AK Party Central Executive Committee, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Putin recently approached him about creating a Baykar drone factory in Russia. – Newsweek

The Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), established as part of a landmark deal to resume grain exports from Ukraine, has started work in Istanbul, Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday – Reuters


Israel said on Tuesday that its military jets came under Russian anti-aircraft fire over Syria in May but they missed their target, describing the confrontation as a “one-off incident”. – Reuters

The city of Haifa is set to become an increasingly significant east Mediterranean shipping hub, with Chinese and Indian firms buying into its ports as Israel normalizes ties with its Gulf Arab neighbours under a U.S. diplomatic push. – Reuters

Russia has legal questions regarding a non-profit organisation that helps Jews emigrate to Israel but this should not be “projected” onto bilateral relations between the two countries, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. – Reuters

A United Nations human-rights investigator spoke of the Jewish lobby and the overuse of antisemitism in a wide-ranging interview with the Mondoweiss website that was published on Monday. He questioned Israel’s membership in the 193-nation global body. – Jerusalem Post

South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said Tuesday that Israel should be classified as an apartheid state and that the United Nations General Assembly should establish a committee to verify whether it satisfied its requirements, Al Jazeera reported. – Jerusalem Post

The Military Censor allowed Israeli media to publish one of the country’s worst-kept secrets last week — that the Israel Defense Forces uses armed drones as part of its offensive capabilities. – Times of Israel

Ilan Berman writes: Even more fundamental, though, is a difference of perception about China. Simply put, the U.S. now increasingly sees China as a major strategic threat and competitor. Israel, on the other hand, see it as a neutral—perhaps even a beneficial—actor. […]Nevertheless, it’s clear that Israel is working hard to strike a balance between its own economic interests and a new, and changed, global landscape that has U.S.-China competition as a defining feature. Other American allies should be watching closely, because they will soon be expected to follow suit. – Newsweek

Giora Eiland writes: Even if someone, unlike me, does consider the Jewish Agency in Russia to be a matter of national interest, then he or she should be willing to have discreet talks with Moscow … and be ready to pay a price for it. – Ynet

Amos Harel writes: Just as Israel shouldn’t have pretended to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, it has no reason to outflank Western countries from the right by spearheading the global military aid effort to Kyiv. […]Israel has more important considerations than preserving the Jewish Agency’s freedom to operate in Russia, or even than the sacred continuance of the “war between the wars” for all eternity. With regard to Ukraine, it would be wiser not to remain on the wrong side of history. – Haaretz 


A retired British geologist is to be released from an Iraqi prison after his conviction for attempted artefact smuggling was quashed, according to his family. – Bloomberg

A dispute between Iraq and Turkey over a recent deadly attack in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region escalated at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday. – Associated Press

Iraq’s Air Defence Command (ADC) will receive Thales radars in addition to the Lockheed Martin TPS-77. This was announced during a ceremony marking the start of construction of a new operations centre for the military branch on 24 July. – Janes


Lebanese lawmakers on Tuesday voted to use a $150 million World Bank loan to pay for wheat imports into the cash-strapped country. – Associated Press

Lebanon’s parliament on Tuesday passed long-awaited amendments to a banking secrecy law, according to a Reuters witness, in the first step towards reforms required by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). – Reuters

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) on Tuesday morning participated in a national conference, sending a message to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. – Arutz Sheva

Officials in Israel believe that the maritime dispute with Lebanon is on the brink of a solution, Kan 11 News reported on Tuesday. – Arutz Sheva

Anna Ahronheim writes: Should Nasrallah follow through with his threats, Israelis across the country need to be ready. It would not look like a war with Hamas, and it would not look like the war between Russia and Ukraine. A war with Hezbollah would drag the entire region into a war that would also see all terror groups and Iranian proxies take part. And the complete destruction and deadly consequences of the war would be on Nasrallah, not the IDF. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began a multiday tour of Greece and France on Tuesday, his first official visit to Europe since the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi sparked international condemnation and led Western governments to shun the kingdom’s de facto leader. – Wall Street Journal

Greece and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday sealed a deal to lay an undersea data cable that will connect Europe with Asia and discussed the possibility of linking their power grids to supply Europe with cheaper green energy. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s decision to grant Israeli airlines the right to fly through its airspace is not a step in the direction of normalization, the country’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations Mohammed Al-Ateeq said on Tuesday. –  Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisians approved a new Constitution that cements the one-man rule instituted by President Kais Saied over the past year, according to the results of a referendum released on Tuesday, dealing a body blow to a democracy built with immense effort and high hopes after the overthrow of the country’s dictator more than a decade ago. – New York Times

The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that Egypt needed to make “decisive progress” on fiscal and structural reform as Cairo seeks a new round of support from the fund. – Reuters

Neeshad Shafi writes: What is needed in this instance is not to place blame on Middle Eastern countries but rather to push the oil and gas industry to get on board with accelerating the clean energy transition — and in doing so, to acknowledge that the reliance on such fuels over the medium and long term poses hazards to the environment, economy, and national security of every country. Only then will the adoption of clean energy technologies become properly aligned with the new security imperatives made evident by the war in Ukraine. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea used the anniversary of the armistice that halted fighting on the peninsula 69 years ago to warn of a “second Korean War,” blaming the US and South Korea for inflaming hostilities. – Bloomberg

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol was already struggling with surging inflation, rising Covid cases and historically low approval numbers. Then, he launched into a potentially explosive feud with the nation’s police force. – Bloomberg

North Korea’s economy shrank in 2021 for a second straight year after suffering its biggest contraction in more than two decades the previous year amid U.N. sanctions and COVID-19 lockdowns, South Korea’s central bank said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Brendan Balestrieri and Won-geun Koo write: In addition, maybe it is time for the South Korean Army Reserve to become a serious conversation for the South Korean-U.S. alliance in terms of combined training events and use of American forces to help with training South Korean reserve units. – War on the Rocks


President Biden will speak Thursday with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, a U.S. official said, amid new tension over Taiwan, the war in Ukraine and a decision over whether to remove some Trump-era tariffs. – Wall Street Journal

President Joe Biden has still not decided whether to end some trade tariffs on China ahead of a phone call expected this week with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, a senior official said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Senator Marco Rubio wants the US to sanction China’s purchases of oil and other energy supplies from Russia in an effort to cut off funding for that country’s war against Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Indonesian President Joko Widodo invited China’s Xi Jinping to attend the Group of 20 summit in November, as the two leaders held a rare meeting in Beijing amid strict Covid controls. – Bloomberg

A handful of Biden administration and Department of Defense officials have issued public warnings about the increased threat from China. Ely Ratner, the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, said on Tuesday at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event that “in recent months,” the United States has “witnessed a sharp increase in unsafe and unprofessional behaviors by [Chinese] ships and aircraft.” – Washington Examiner

China and Russia are in the final stages of building the first pipeline that can send gas from Siberia to Shanghai. “Power of Siberia” — as the portion located in Russia is called — began delivering natural gas to northern China in December 2019, according to Chinese state media. – CNBC

The Chinese government tried to obtain sensitive internal information and build a network of influence and informants inside the Federal Reserve, according to a new report released Tuesday by Republican staff members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. – CNBC

Zhao Weiguo, the former head of an expansive Chinese conglomerate with state backing and deep investments in the global technology sector, has been placed under investigation by officials in Beijing, according to local media. – Financial Times

John Bolton writes: Chris Wray has more than enough to occupy his time at the FBI, so his public focus on the threat of Chinese espionage demonstrates just how serious he judges the threat to be. American businesses and government should pay more attention to what he is saying. – The Hill

South Asia

Sri Lanka’s former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa is set to extend his stay in Singapore by another 14 days, the Straits Times reported, without citing where it got the information from. – Bloomberg

Pakistan’s top court canceled an election that placed the national ruling alliance’s candidate as chief minister of the country’s largest province and ordered to install former premier Imran Khan-backed leader as the head of the provincial government. – Bloomberg

Bangladesh has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to start negotiations for a loan, the finance minister told the Prothom Alo newspaper, while adding that the economy was “no way in trouble”. – Reuters


A senior Pentagon official on Tuesday warned of an unprecedented spike in “direct, aggressive, unsafe” behavior by China against U.S. and partner military forces in the skies above the South China Sea, predicting the trend would probably worsen as Beijing works to expand its regional dominance. – Washington Post

Taiwan’s president told a gathering of U.S. senators and former U.S., Australian and Japanese defense ministers that a coordinated response was necessary in the face of “unprecedented challenges,” as the island conducted a five-day flurry of military and civilian-preparedness exercises. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. officials say they have little fear that China would attack Nancy Pelosi’s plane if she flies to Taiwan. But the U.S. House speaker would be entering one of the world’s hottest spots where a mishap, misstep or misunderstanding could endanger her safety. So the Pentagon is developing plans for any contingency. – Associated Press

Japanese defence forces will participate for the first time in military exercises in Indonesia next month alongside the United States and Australia, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday after talks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo. – Reuters

The United States should focus on whether Taiwan has weapons that “are adequate to the threat that may come from mainland China,” U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday. – Reuters

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is getting bipartisan support for a possible trip to Taiwan, with some lawmakers from both parties arguing that it’s important that the top leader in the US Congress show no sign of giving in to pressure from China’s government. – Bloomberg

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Tuesday said China’s “escalatory” rhetoric ahead of a potential trip from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Taiwan is “clearly unhelpful and not necessary.” – The Hill

Defense chiefs from across the Indo-Pacific gathered this week to bolster their connections against a backdrop of China’s ongoing campaign to expand its influence and military presence in the region. – Associated Press

A Chinese unmanned air vehicle flew through the Miyako Strait of Japan before lingering off Taiwan’s west coast on Monday. The UAV approached the island as Taiwan began its annual Han Kuang military exercise, the nation’s largest military exercise that is geared towards countering an invasion of Taiwan. – USNI News

The increasingly frequent aggressive actions by the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force like “chaffing” an Australian patrol aircraft in international waters and causing a Canadian patrol aircraft to alter its course to avoid a collision off North Korea “look like a pattern and policy” dictated by Beijing rather than random acts by pilots, the Pentagon’s senior official on Indo-Pacific security said Tuesday. – USNI News

The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s probable visit to Taiwan sparked numerous reactions among in the Chinese media. Chinese media outlet Global Times commentator Hu Xijin wrote that China should respond to “Washington’s provocation” with “resolute countermeasures.” Hu suggested that warplanes of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) should “accompany” Pelosi’s plane, enter the island at the same time as she does, “skim over” her landing site, and then “fly over the island and return to the Chinese mainland.” – Middle East Media Research Institute

Editorial: As the co-signer of the Joint Declaration, the U.K. has a particular obligation to Hong Kong. Current Prime Minister Boris Johnson has done a good deed by giving asylum in the U.K. to residents of Hong Kong who aren’t British citizens but hold British National (Overseas) passports. But the British government shouldn’t forget its citizens languishing in Communist jails. – Wall Street Journal

Joseph Bosco writes: Added to the U.S. shortcomings on Ukraine is Biden’s failure so far to guarantee security to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on her noble intention to visit Taiwan. Together, the shortcomings send a dispiriting message of hesitation and weakness that must surely worry the Taiwanese and other countries in the region and embolden Beijing. – The Hill

Hal Brands writes: A country whose proclaimed willingness to compete exceeds its actual willingness to keep pace with its rival will eventually find the worst kind of trouble. A test of strength over Taiwan is coming, and America is perilously ill-prepared. – Bloomberg

Donald Kirk writes: Strong voices with Pentagon ties contradict the view that maybe she should hold back. Some analysts think it would be great if she called Beijing’s bluff and went there in a blaze of publicity that would surely enhance her image as a fighter. – New York Sun


European Union governments Tuesday agreed on a plan to reduce natural gas consumption amid looming shortages, although after resistance from southern European countries the measures are more limited than originally conceived. – Washington Post

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday presented Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with the Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award, drawing comparisons between the two leaders in times of crises. – Associated Press

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen highlighted a proposed price cap on Russian oil on a phone call with British Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi on Tuesday, a move to reduce the impact of the war in Ukraine on global energy prices. – Reuters

Despite the turmoil in her own government, Kallas was intent on sending a message to the rest of the world about yielding to Russian demands on Ukraine. – Yahoo News

Several Eastern European countries concerned about Russian aggression are moving forward with deals to secure long-range missile systems after watching Ukrainian forces successfully use them against Russia. – Newsweek

James Kirchick writes: Europe would not be facing an energy crisis today had more of its leaders seen through the third and final illusion, that of a continent blessed with perpetual peace. Putin’s belief that he could subjugate Ukraine — the precipitating cause of the imminent energy crisis — owes a great deal to Western Europe’s lackluster military support for its embattled neighbor as well as its own anemic defense outlays. […]The decrepit state of European militaries, Germany’s in particular, similarly signaled a lack of seriousness about defending the continent from Russian predation. – Washington Post


Uganda is seeking Russian assistance to develop East Africa’s first nuclear power plant and expand its space-research capabilities, President Yoweri Museveni said. – Bloomberg

At least 15 people were killed and dozens of others injured during two days of demonstrations in Congo’s east against the United Nations mission in the country, officials said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Sudanese security forces killed at least one person while violently dispersed anti-coup protesters Tuesday in the capital of Khartoum and other cities, a medical group said. – Associated Press

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Tuesday he saw no reason to criticise Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, extolling Russian-African friendship in remarks that will have delighted his visitor, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron described the global food crisis as one of Russia’s “weapons of war” during a visit to Cameroon on Tuesday, dismissing suggestions Western sanctions were to blame. – Reuters

South Africa’s Kumba Iron Ore (KIOJ.J) hopes China’s economic stimulus spending on infrastructure will restore demand for iron ore after the Asian giant’s COVID-19 lockdowns and property crisis hit prices in the first half of the year. – Reuters

Carine Kanimba is set to testify about a malware attack on her phone allegedly carried out by the Rwandan government led by President Paul Kagame, which has labeled her father a terrorist for his links to an armed opposition group accused of carrying out attacks in the country. – The Hill

The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he would place a hold on U.S. security assistance to Rwanda in Congress over concerns about the Rwandan government’s human rights record and role in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. – Reuters

Anthony Grant writes: Following his initial whistle-stop at Cairo, Mr. Lavrov will be visiting Ethiopia, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Would it not be a statement if Mr. Blinken had the prescience to dispatch some of our own to Africa and show Mr. Lavrov some resolve and elbow? If Mr. Blinken cannot see the warning signs blinking on the global dashboard, and get off Twitter and start speaking and acting accordingly, then it is time for Mr. Biden to find his replacement. – New York Sun

The Americas

El Salvador said on Tuesday that it planned to buy back $1.6bn of its sovereign bonds in an attempt to allay fears of default in the Central American country that adopted bitcoin as legal tender last year. – Financial Times

Suspected gang members set fire to a courthouse near Haiti’s capital early Tuesday in the most recent incident targeting the country’s crumbling judicial system. – Associated Press

Violence is increasing in many rural areas of Colombia despite a 2016 peace deal between the government and the country’s largest guerrilla group, the United Nations Human Rights Office said in a report. It called on the government to boost rural development and take steps to encourage members of Colombia’s remaining illegal groups to demobilize. – Associated Press

The Biden administration has bolstered efforts to sign big oil importers on to a plan to cap prices they offer for Russian crude, concerned that without it the world faces a damaging surge in fuel costs. – Financial Times

Bret Stephens writes: The first crisis is one of international credibility. The war in Ukraine is not merely a crisis unto itself. It is a symptom of a crisis, which began with a withdrawal from Afghanistan that telegraphed incompetence and weakness and whose consequences were easily predictable. – New York Times


Kraken, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, is under federal investigation, suspected of violating U.S. sanctions by allowing users in Iran and elsewhere to buy and sell digital tokens, according to five people affiliated with the company or with knowledge of the inquiry. – New York Times

Even as cryptocurrency markets face economic turbulence, there’s one segment of blockchain-based industries where business is booming: blockchain security. – CyberScoop

Israel’s National Cyber Directorate (INCD) and the United States Department of Homeland Security have joined forces with Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation on a new cybersecurity initiative – BIRD Cyber. – Jerusalem Post

Elisabeth Braw writes: Of course, tech entrepreneurs would not be mere students: they have expertise in a world that most government officials struggle to keep up with. If students were able to share their knowledge of areas such as quantum and blockchain, then national security training for the tech community would be a win-win. – Financial Times

Matt Erickson writes: Instead, we should work to make sure all software on satellites and other critical systems for national security are built from the beginning with security as the fundamental feature: true zero-trust architecture. By doing so, we can forestall China’s ability to mount a cyber Pearl Harbor at the outset of a conflict by using its massive national resources against the technology on which we depend. – 19FortyFive


Tens of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans stand to benefit as Congress nears the finish line on massive legislation to expand health coverage for those exposed to toxins during their military service. – The Hill

The Army announced the creation of a new program Tuesday dedicated to helping aspiring recruits meet the service’s requirements to enlist. The Future Soldiers Preparatory Course pilot program will start next month at Fort Jackson, South Carolina , and will provide education and training to help these possible soldiers overcome academic and physical barriers. – Washington Examiner

The chief of naval operations has updated his strategic vision for the U.S. Navy to tie it more directly to the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy, in the hopes of making it more likely to be funded and implemented. – Defense News

The U.S. Air Force needs more flying tankers to bridge the gap between current capabilities and the next-generation KC-Z refueling aircraft it is planning. The Boeing KC-46A is one option, as is Lockheed Martin’s LMXT, which is a modified version of Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport. – Defense News

The latest plan to design a future force calls for a fleet of 373 manned ships, buttressed by about 150 unmanned surface and underwater vehicles by 2045, according to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday’s update to his Navigation Plan for the Navy. – USNI News

Secretary Frank Kendall said today that the Air Force should waste no time in resolving a question that could result in a major expansion to the capability of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Is the service prepared to fund a new, adaptive engine for the jet, or will it choose more budget-friendly upgrade for the existing F135 engine? – Breaking Defense

Bryan Clark writes: The Navy’s undersea forces are coming to grips with the need to fight their way into enemy waters. Learning from aviation history, submariners could use unmanned vehicles to defeat the undersea defenses opponents like China and Russia are establishing to protect their future aggression. The Navy needs to align its UUV portfolio around these missions or risk losing its longstanding undersea advantage. – Breaking Defense

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: Complacency concerning a bureaucracy on cruise control means that the budget will be unable to match the defense strategy. The fixed and fenced costs throughout the U.S. defense budget will prevent even the most well-intentioned Pentagon team from achieving better purchasing power for defense strategy outcomes. – Defense One

Long War

Regional forces in southeast Ethiopia killed 85 al Shabaab militiamen during border clashes on Monday, the state broadcaster and a regional commander said, days after the insurgents staged rare raids in the area. – Reuters

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the four Americans who died in the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. – The Hill

The 22-year sentence for a Libyan militant convicted of four terrorism charges for his involvement in the 2012 Benghazi attack is “unreasonably low,” a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. – The Hill

In an unusually brazen move, an Israeli undercover force arrested Tuesday two Palestinian terror suspects in broad daylight on the outskirts of the city of Bethlehem in the West Bank. – Ynet

Lindsey Graham writes: If we do nothing, the rise of terrorism in Syria and the human suffering that exists today will worsen. I recognize there is no easy solution. However, we must take steps now to ensure the safety of our homeland. Preventing ISIS or a similarly hateful ideology from reemerging must remain a top priority. The protection, safety, and security of the people depends on it. – Washington Examiner