Fdd's overnight brief

July 8, 2022

In The News

Russia & Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called out Russia for blocking Ukrainian grain exports amid rising global food prices in a contentious closed-door session at a meeting of the top diplomats of the world’s largest economies on Friday. – Washington Post

Foreign analysts say Russia may be temporarily easing its offensive in eastern Ukraine as the Russian military attempts to reassemble its forces for what it hopes could prove decisive new assault on its neighbor. – Associated Press 

A disputed cargo ship carrying allegedly stolen grain from Ukraine has returned to Russian territorial waters, Turkish sources told AFP on Thursday, drawing angry condemnation from Kyiv. – Agence France-Presse 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday dismissed the what he cast as the West’s “frenzied” criticism of the war in Ukraine at a G20 meeting, scolding Russia’s rivals for scuppering a chance to tackle global economic issues. – Reuters

A Chinese state-owned company has been accused of aiding Russia’s military during its war against Ukraine — but the Biden administration insists it hasn’t seen China provide military equipment to the Kremlin. – Washington Examiner

A top Russian lawmaker warned the United States that Russia may seek to reclaim Alaska in retaliation for U.S. sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine. – Washington Examiner

Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, one of the prices that Russia was expected to pay, even in the event of the country’s speedy occupation was protracted partisan warfare. As Russia, despite the disappointing achievements so far, extends its grip on Ukrainian territory, such partisan warfare has begun. On June 24, 2022, Dmytro Savluchenko, Director of the Department for Youth Policy in the Kherson occupation government was assassinated. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Russian forces used more air strikes to push ahead with their effort to take control of the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine amid a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia has not yet started its campaign in earnest. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Editorial: The U.S. must not yield to Putin’s blackmail. This is a test of resolve. The only appropriate response is to make Russia pay an escalating cost for what it is doing. The U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists — it should not negotiate over Moscow’s terrorist-style activity. – Washington Examiner

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write: He has therefore turned to tried and trusted methods once employed by Stalin to keep his elite on a short leash. The reality in Russia is getting more Stalinist not only for the opposition and protesters, but for Putin’s people as well – and the only question now is how brutal the repression needs to become to make Putin happy. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Poland confirmed Thursday that a Polish national has been detained in Iran after Iranian media reports claimed a number of foreigners had been taken into custody on suspicion of spying. – Washington Post

The United States and Israel are seeking to lay the groundwork for a security alliance with Arab states that would connect air defence systems to combat Iranian drone and missile attacks in the Middle East, four sources familiar with the plan said. – Reuters

Britain’s Royal Navy said on Thursday one of its warships had seized Iranian weapons, including surface-to-air-missiles and engines for cruise missiles, from smugglers in international waters south of Iran early this year. – Reuters

An order by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to enforce the country’s hijab and chastity law has resulted in a new list of restrictions on how women can dress. –  Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi’s self-made deadline for saving the Iran nuclear deal passed on Thursday without the Islamic Republic complying with his demand to reactivate his nuclear inspectors’ surveillance cameras. – Jerusalem Post

Israel intends to demand that President Joe Biden strengthen regional cooperation against Iran during his visit to the country next week, as talks with world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear deal are expected to resume soon. – Haaretz


Waheeda Hasan, a reporter for the Afghan broadcaster Tolo News, on a recent morning got out of the car, hid her phone in the folds of her head scarf and walked to the protest site, a busy intersection here. – Wall Street Journal

The Taliban and the United Arab Emirates are poised to strike a deal for the Gulf nation to run Kabul airport and several others in Afghanistan that could be announced within weeks, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. – Reuters

Sadiq Amini writes: An active engagement strategy would allow for Afghanistan to be recognized by the international community. Such recognition would facilitate greater diplomatic presence on the ground in Kabul and much greater international assistance for the Afghan people. This would also allow the United States and its allies to detect and prevent possible future threats emanating from Afghanistan at minimum cost. […]Lastly, it would ensure Afghanistan is a stable and responsible member of the international community, which would contribute to regional and international stability and economic prosperity. – Foreign Policy


Turkey is seeking to sell Malaysia a batch of armed drones, according to two defense industry officials familiar with the matter, in its latest bid to project military influence and build alliances through defense exports. – Bloomberg

Pursuant to the recent understanding between Israeli interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, a new aviation agreement between Israel and Tűrkiye was initialed Thursday. – Arutz Sheva

Ukraine summoned the Turkish ambassador, citing an “unacceptable situation” after authorities in Turkey released a Russian vessel that Kyiv said was shipping grain seized from the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk. – Bloomberg


The IDF may be poised to carry out the largest eviction of Palestinians in decades, warned European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff on Thursday as he visited some of the 11 endangered West Bank South Hebron Hills herding communities. – Jerusalem Post

Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday to discuss security coordination ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and the West Bank next week. – Times of Israel

In his first ceremonial speech since assuming office last week, newly-installed Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday emphasized the significance of maintaining a cohesive social fabric and restoring “trust” in the government. – Algemeiner

Shots were fired Thursday night at two Israel Defense Forces positions near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, the military said. No soldiers were hurt in the incidents, the first which occurred between the illegal Gilad Farm outpost and the settlement of Yitzhar, and the second near the settlement of Einav. – Times of Israel

Israeli defense officials have held 150 meetings with their counterparts in the region since the Abraham Accords pact, Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed. – Jerusalem Post

Lazar Berman writes: Macron was sure to embrace Lapid in front of the cameras — though the enthusiasm did become somewhat awkward in practice — and walk into the palace with his arm around the man he clearly hopes will be leading Israel in 2023 and beyond. – Times of Israel

Khaled Abu Toameh writes: The renewed talk about Hamas’s ostensible scheme to stage a coup in the West Bank is yet another sign of the continuing tension between the Islamist movement and Fatah. – Jerusalem Post


On June 22, 2022, Al-Manar TV (Hizbullah-Lebanon) aired a report about Hizbullah’s military buildup. The report showcased Hizbullah’s rocket arsenal and described how in the 40 years since its founding, Hizbullah has turned Lebanon into a “model of powerful resistance” and deterrence. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

The drones that Hezbollah launched toward the Karish gas rig last week were Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Defense Minister Benny Gantz confirmed. – Jerusalem Post

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Thursday that “Israel maintains the right to respond” to attacks by Iran-backed Hezbollah, calling on the Lebanese government to “stop Iranian aggression from its territory.” – Haaretz

Assaf Orion writes: Developing collection alternatives to air reconnaissance is one option, but Israel likely still faces a dilemma: either accept gradual degradation of its intelligence picture over time or expose its air reconnaissance missions to Hezbollah’s air defenses. In Syria, Israel has shown a willingness to destroy defense systems that threaten its aircraft, but in Lebanon it has acted differently so far. The IDF and Hezbollah have long been walking the tightrope between deterrence and escalation, prudently managing to avoid the latter. Yet with Hezbollah raising the bar against a vital tool of Israel’s national security, the stakes are becoming even higher. – Washington Institute

Saudi Arabia

A U.S. special envoy said on Thursday she discussed prejudice towards Jews with officials in Saudi Arabia ahead of a visit by President Joe Biden next week that could help bring the kingdom and Israel closer. – Reuters

Joe Biden will hold talks with Saudi Arabia’s controversial Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — but only as part of a larger delegation — when the US president visits the oil-rich nation next week, the White House said Thursday. – Agence France-Presse 

Douglas London writes: As opposed to his predecessors, who tied their legitimacy and authoritarian rule to religion, culture, and history, MbS appears to be looking at another model, and perhaps sees that in his perception of China’s. At the risk of over simplifying, the likely future king seems committed to preserving his absolute authority in exchange for providing a high quality of life shared by the masses, not merely the most privileged. In a conservative society with little history of individualism or political appetite, MbS is counting on the kingdom’s ability to generate the resources required to mitigate against the distractions of Western liberalism, which he hopes will remain unappealing to his people. – Middle East Institute 

Dore Feith and Ben Noon write: While the United States and Saudi Arabia have had their disputes—mainly over the oil embargo in the 1970s, the export of radical Islamist ideology in the 2000s, and, most recently, the killing of Khashoggi—improving their relationship would now greatly benefit both countries. China makes the argument that the United States is no longer a reliable strategic partner. Biden’s task is to show Saudi Arabia why the United States’ influence in its region is far preferable to China’s. – Foreign Policy

Middle East & North Africa

The United Nations Security Council will continue negotiating Friday on extending authorization of aid transfers across Syria’s border, one day after a scheduled vote was scrapped following disagreement between Russia and the West. – Agence France-Presse 

On June 19, 2022, a conference was held at Al-Umma University in Gaza under the title “Palestinian Sovereignty, the Strategic Variables and Future Paths.” The speakers at the conference included Hamas political bureau chief Isma’il Haniya, political bureau member Moussa Abu Marzouq and other officials. […]In light of this, the Hamas officials stressed the importance of opening up to America’s rivals, Russia and China,  and of forming strategic alliances with all forces that support the resistance, in order to attain the liberation of Palestine and the right of return. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

The US is working to finalize the transfer of a pair of Red Sea islands from Egyptian to Saudi control in an agreement that would see Riyadh take a series of steps to normalize ties with Israel, an Arab diplomat told The Times of Israel. – Times of Israel

David Schenker writes: The Biden administration should be credited with trying to finalize the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia—a move that could help improve the dismal state of U.S.-Saudi relations, create additional points of contact between Riyadh and Jerusalem, and ultimately advance the cause of regional peace. […]To ensure regional stability and Israeli security, any agreement on Tiran and Sanafir should include more than just a deposited Saudi pledge to honor freedom of navigation. Like so many challenges in the Middle East, transferring these islands is much more than just a real estate deal. – Washington Institute

Michael Rubin writes: America’s so-called friends in Iraq play Washington for fools. It is time to put an end to such games. The path to a moderate, responsible Baghdad does not pass through Erbil. Further, Barzani’s backroom shenanigans should clarify the U.S. position: a Kurdistan Democratic Party presidency in Baghdad would be a grave danger to American interests throughout the country. – The National Interest

Zine Labidine Ghebouli writes: The war in Ukraine poses an unconventional test for Algiers’ sovereigntist and principled doctrine. It is safe to say that Algeria is interrogating itself about its regional and international roles, which implies a sober assessment of its needs and comparative advantages.  […]While Algiers does not respond well to pressure, the continuation and deterioration of the war in Ukraine will force the Tebboune administration to make some hard choices. This will likely trigger an unofficial dialogue within the establishment in anticipation of Algeria’s 2024 presidential elections, and only a national agreement can prevent dangerous sociopolitical polarization and mitigate underlying geostrategic risks. – Middle East Institute 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The overall context here is that while the Turkey-Iran-Qatar relationship is important, the Turkey-Qatar axis is a key to the region because both countries back the Muslim Brotherhood, including groups like Hamas, which Iran also backs. Meanwhile, all these countries also do deals with Russia. Understanding how these countries are working closely together is important because of many reasons, such as the recent NATO meeting in Madrid, Ankara’s threats against letting democracies join NATO, Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Iran deal. – Jerusalem Post

Aaron David Miller and Steven Simon write: If there’s a silver lining in this cloud, it’s that U.S. risk aversion has prompted greater risk tolerance on the part of Gulf Arab countries and Israel to reach out to each other for their collective security. The United States has incubated them and kept them safe while they matured into regional powers, which they now see themselves to be. Empty nest syndrome can lead to undue involvement in the lives of one’s offspring. As Biden undertakes his first trip to the Middle East as president, he might well resist this temptation. – Foreign Policy

Alon Pinkas writes: That makes much more sense, certainly if a statement on an improvement in Israeli-Saudi relations is made. But it still raises the question of whether all this justifies a presidential visit and expending political capital when America is in internal turmoil. […]Only if Biden’s trip is really about Russia and Iran does it makes foreign policy sense. Otherwise, it could turn out a complete waste of time – something Biden cannot afford right now. – Haaretz

Korean Peninsula

The scandal exploding today in South Korea over the decision of the previous president to return two defectors to certain death in North Korea is illuminating a bigger question — the efforts of the former president, left-winger Moon Jae-in, to appease the North. – New York Sun

Donald Kirk writes: North Korea’s desire to deliver a quick knockout blow evokes memories of its invasion of South Korea in June 1950 when Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, was convinced he could wipe out ill-equipped South Korean forces within weeks. The great difference this time would be that North Korea could attack with nuclear-tipped, short-range missiles before the U.S. and South Korea could respond. – The Hill

Trevor Filseth writes: Although North Korea was already one of the world’s most centralized and totalitarian states before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, outside observers have speculated that the central government’s control over North Korean society has been strengthened as Pyongyang has placed increasing restrictions on travel and economic activity in an effort to keep the country free of coronavirus. – The National Interest


China’s government dismissed a joint U.S.-U.K. warning to businesses that Beijing seeks to steal their corporate secrets, alleging instead that Washington represents the biggest threat to world peace. – Wall Street Journal

China and Russia have maintained normal exchanges and promoted cooperation in various fields and cast aside any “interference”, showing the “strong resilence” and “strategic resolve” of their relations, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday. – Reuters

China’s military said on Friday it recently held joint combat readiness exercises, patrols and combat drills in the sea and airspace around Taiwan, as a senior U.S. senator visited Taipei for a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen. – Reuters

A senior Chinese military officer warned his U.S. counterpart on Thursday that any “arbitrary provocations” would be met with a “firm counterstrike” by China, but added that the two sides should strengthen dialogue and controls risks. – Reuters

John Thornhill writes: Second, in an increasingly datafied world, there is no such thing as an apolitical company. To date, Musk has played an artful game in China hailing the country’s economic achievements, ostentatiously abiding by its data laws and steering clear of politics. Musk’s many fans there still applaud the entrepreneur as the “Silicon Valley Iron Man”. Yet, as he is rapidly discovering, Tesla’s connected cars are also connected to geopolitics. – Financial Times

Howard W. French writes: The West is great at generating slogans and names for economic partnerships with acronyms that will be quickly forgotten, but in the meantime, because of its failure to change the way it thinks about the opportunity the global south represents to the West and the world, it risks seeing the future pass it by. – Foreign Policy


Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, one of the country’s most prominent political figures, has died after being shot at a campaign event Friday, public broadcaster NHK said, shocking a nation where firearms laws are among the world’s strictest and gun violence is rare. – Washington Post

Foreign ministers from the Group of 20 countries begin meeting on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on Friday with little prospect for achieving the kind of lofty consensuses on weighty issues that have been a hallmark of past gatherings. – Associated Press

Dressed in military camouflage with an assault rifle at the ready, “Prof” Yeh peers from behind a vehicle in a parking lot outside Taipei, scanning his surroundings and waiting for a signal to advance. Yeh actually works in marketing, and his weapon is a replica — but he is spending the weekend attending an urban warfare workshop to prepare for what he sees as the very real threat of a Chinese invasion. – Agence France-Presse 

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the country’s new government wants to stabilise its relationship with Beijing but will not make any concessions on national interest when she meets her Chinese counterpart on Friday. – Reuters

Jacinda Ardern has called for a de-escalation of the tensions between China and the US and its allies in the Indo-Pacific, warning that the region risked embracing a “self-fulfilling prophesy” and sparking a conflict. – Financial Times

Japan’s push to restart nuclear reactors, shut down after the Fukushima disaster a decade ago, could get a tailwind as the governing coalition looks set for gains in a national election on Sunday. – Reuters

Kazakhstan’s president called for diversifying the country’s oil supply routes, a day after a Russian court suspended operations on a major export pipeline. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hazen Williams writes: As the United States and Australia continue to support Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in Papua, both administrations are unlikely to take bolder stances. International action in the situation is likely to remain limited to the Pacific Islands for the foreseeable future. Indonesia’s decision to label OPM as terrorists has not achieved its desired end of eliminating separatism in Papua. Instead, separatist violence, having shown its resiliency to Indonesia’s attempts to control the region, is thus likely to continue. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Boris Johnson said he would step down as British prime minister after a wide-scale rebellion in his party, capping an astonishing fall from grace for a politician who once looked poised to dominate U.K. politics for years. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Western heavy weapons are starting to have an effect on the battlefield but urged speedier deliveries, particularly of antiaircraft systems, as Russia continued lobbing missiles into Ukrainian cities. – Wall Street Journal

The news that Boris Johnson will resign disappointed many in Ukraine, where the British prime minister has won countless fans—from the country’s leaders to ordinary citizens—for his support for Kyiv’s fight against Russia’s invasion. – Wall Street Journal

Finland’s Parliament on Thursday passed amended legislation on border security that allows for the closure of crossing points with Russia amid fears that Moscow could choose to send large numbers of migrants to the frontier. – Associated Press 

A top Ukrainian official has stated that Belarus has given “full control” of the Zyabrovka airfield near the Ukraine-Belarus border to Russia, materializing previous fears that a growing number of Belarusian assets are intensifying war-time pressures. – Newsweek

Parliamentary talks in North Macedonia over a French proposal to unstick Skopje’s EU negotiations have been delayed amid finger-pointing and calls for calm after a fifth straight night of clashes over possible concessions on sensitive cultural and historical issues. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Editorial: There is no obvious successor to Mr. Johnson, though there is an obvious governing agenda for him or her: It is to conduct the prime ministership in a manner becoming the office while correcting Mr. Johnson’s course on Brexit and revitalizing the British economy. – Washington Post

Editorial: The exception to this record is foreign policy. Mr. Johnson has emerged as a strong and effective supporter of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, a vital counterweight to Germany’s Olaf Scholz and France’s Emmanuel Macron. The Kremlin is cheering his fall. – Wall Street Journal

Fareed Zakaria writes: Winter is coming. Homes in Europe might not have enough heat. Troops in Ukraine will find it harder to dislodge Russians once the snow blankets the land. Time is not on our side. – Washington Post

Timothy Garton Ash writes: Logically, however, it is entirely possible to articulate respect for an EU without the UK. This should be all the easier because Britain has not abandoned the larger post-1945 project of pursuing a Europe whole and free — witness its stalwart support for Ukraine. In short, there is a good story to tell about a potential new cross-Channel partnership. We just need somebody to start telling it. – Financial Times

Pankaj Mishra writes: That majority in the West is very likely to grow; it could even become indifferent to the fate of Ukrainians as the economic outlook worsens. Abandoning Ukrainians to their ruthless persecutor would be as much a disgrace as abandoning Afghans to the Taliban was. Yet we must prepare ourselves for the grim possibility that another hasty and ill-conceived intervention backed by political and media elites will become a messy failure, hurting the very people it was supposed to help. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: The question for Washington and Brussels, then, is what is the American and European response? The tendency in both capitals to sigh with relief when a crisis passes serves NATO poorly when what really transpired with Turkey was a dry run to destroy NATO from within. – 19FortyFive

Emil Avdaliani writes: Looking ahead, despite some progress on its EU path, Georgia’s position will remain weakened by internal division. The political battle risks undermining the country’s Western credentials, as does the fear of a hostile Russian response. No less traumatic will be the ties with EU officials – acrimonious exchanges of the past several months are likely to haunt future bilateral relations. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Tom McTague writes: Within about six months of becoming prime minister, Johnson completely undid the complex, imperfect, and specifically British version of EU membership that had taken 50 years to construct. Whether Johnson was right to argue for Brexit, ever believed in it at all, or used it only for personal advancement is beside the point. In place of that membership, he negotiated a thin trade agreement with the EU and an internal trade border within the United Kingdom itself. – The Atlantic


Nigeria’s security forces on Thursday recaptured 27 inmates who fled from a prison in the capital in Abuja following an attack claimed by Islamic State, the correctional service said. – Reuters

Fresh clashes between M23 rebels and soldiers erupted in eastern DR Congo on Thursday, officials said, as the militia declared that it was not bound by a ceasefire agreement. – Agence France-Presse 

Former Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaore returned to Ouagadougou on Thursday after eight years in exile, members of his entourage and an airport source told AFP. – Agence France-Presse

The Americas

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday that the economic sanctions imposed by the West against Russia had not worked, echoing comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin. – Reuters

Canada will send 39 General Dynamics-made (GD.N) armored vehicles to Ukraine later this summer to help Kyiv in its defense against the Russian invasion, Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said on Thursday. – Reuters

Canada’s Ukrainian community is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to refuse to compromise the country’s sanctions against Russia in order to return a turbine that Moscow says is critical for supplying natural gas to Germany. – Reuters

Editorial: Deportation is a poor substitute for policy. Washington retains substantial influence in Haiti, and could exert it by mustering international support for steps to rein in rampant violence, jumpstart prosecutions in connection with the Moïse assassination, and promote a transition to a government with some semblance of legitimacy. Lacking that, Haiti’s torments will only grow. – Washington Post


Former officials in Poland have been identified among the victims of attempted phone hacking with the use of the powerful Pegasus spyware developed by Israel’s NSO Group, a rights watchdog said Thursday. – Associated Press

How do you win a war before a single bullet is fired? According to the top Marine Corps general, it means striking in a whole different domain: the information space. – Breaking Defense

The group claiming responsibility for cyberattacks on multiple Iranian steel facilities last month posted on Thursday what it called a cache of nearly 20 gigabytes of data containing corporate documents that reveal the facilities’ affiliation with Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. – CyberScoop

A leading congressional voice on cybersecurity is seeking to amend the annual defense policy legislation to include cyber protections for the nation’s most vital critical infrastructure. – CyberScoop

Chinese hacking groups are targeting the Russian government and organizations in the telecommunications industry, according to a new report from cybersecurity company SentinelOne. – The Record

Russian intelligence has been using state-controlled media and other disinformation channels to disseminate propaganda designed to divide the Western coalition supporting Ukraine, according to a report the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future released Thursday. – CyberScoop


The U.S. Army wrapped up the first round of tests of its Improved Turbine Engine Program engine that will power AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, UH-60 Black Hawk utility helos and the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft. – Defense News 

The U.S. Army said it identified a power problem associated with new communications and network tools and Stryker combat vehicles during a live-fire exercise in Europe. – Defense News  

At a time when the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) is under considerable strain, the Defense Department still lacks a “consolidated and comprehensive strategy to mitigate risks” to industry, according to a new watchdog report. – Breaking Defense

Tom Rogan writes: Largely unsupported by Congress and tasked with using an insufficient fleet to conduct an excessive range of operations (the recent deployment of two more destroyers to Europe being a perfect example), the admirals pressure fleet commanders to maintain exceptionally high workloads. But where mistakes are made, it is those at sea who find their careers killed off. Spitzer’s award shows there are two Navy standards: standards ashore and standards at sea. At a minimum, this incident sets an exceptionally poor example for future leaders and will damage morale. At worst, it reflects a broader rot. Considering China’s rising threat, neither possibility is tolerable. – Washington Examiner

Robert Farley writes: On the other hand, President Putin clearly values the prestige and intimidation factor that large, powerful surface ships can offer. It remains to be seen whether Russia will make the investments necessary to preserve the power projection capabilities offered by its surface fleet. – 19FortyFive