Fdd's overnight brief

June 10, 2022

In The News


With death sentences, criminal probes and aggressive rhetoric, Russia on Thursday lashed out at Western businesses, the Ukrainian government and three foreign fighters in separate moves that alarmed human rights advocates and underlined Moscow’s defiant stance 15 weeks into the war. – Washington Post 

Russian forces advanced toward the city of Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, pummeling Ukrainian troops with artillery as Russian President Vladimir Putin compared his quest to that of Russia’s first emperor, Peter the Great. – Washington Post 

President Vladimir Putin, who has often invoked history to stoke nationalist sentiments, compared himself to Peter the Great, the emperor who expanded Russian territory in the 18th century through protracted conflict, in remarks that underscored his revanchist ambitions. – Washington Post 

Russian investigators on Thursday said they had opened more than 1,100 cases into “crimes against peace” committed by the Ukrainian government, paving the way for what could turn into a mass show trial of hundreds of Ukrainian service members. – New York Times 

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grinds into its fourth month, officials in Kyiv have expressed fears that the specter of “war fatigue” could erode the West’s resolve to help the country push back Moscow’s aggression. – Associated Press 

Ukraine and the West denounced a pro-Moscow court that sentenced two British citizens and a Moroccan to death for fighting for Ukraine, calling the proceedings a sham and a violation of the rules of war. – Associated Press 

Ukraine said on Thursday its forces were holding their positions in intense fighting in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk and had retaken ground in the south, targeting gains in the biggest swathe of territory seized by Russia since the invasion started. – Reuters 

Russian gas delivery to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline across the Baltic Sea and through Ukraine remained stable on Friday morning, while eastbound flows rose along the Yamal-Europe pipeline to Poland from Germany, operator data showed. – Reuters   

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that no Iron Curtain would fall over the Russian economy despite the sanctions imposed by the West because Moscow would not close itself off from the world like the Soviet Union did. – Reuters  

Ukraine and its western backers must target Russia’s wealth to offset an estimated $600bn in damages caused by its invasion, and prevent similar wars from happening in the future, said a top economic adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. – Financial Times 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday seemingly alluded to Ukraine multiple times while speaking in Moscow to a group of young entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers at the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy park complex, better known as VDNKh, about Russian achievements. – Newsweek 

A member of Russia’s State Duma has submitted a bill to the country’s parliament to repeal the recognition by the USSR of Lithuania’s independence on Wednesday, saying that such a move could allow Russia to push NATO out of countries that joined after 1999. – Jerusalem Post 

Tom Rogan writes: Yet Putin’s theory has a problem. The Russian president forgets that as he gazes toward Narva, he faces one challenge that Peter the Great did not. Peter’s 1704 siege of Narva never had to contend with a rapid response brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division. Nor did he face the forces of those NATO allies such as Britain, Poland, and the Baltics, which are willing to fight. Thus, for all his mythology, the truth is that Putin isn’t actually a modern Peter. Instead, to borrow from Pushkin, he appears to be “a sick man in his troubled bed.” – Washington Examiner 

Andrei Soldatov writes: Despite all the efforts and the threats and the legislative tools of repression now in the state’s hands, independent Russian journalists and the Russian opposition still have direct access to the Russian public.  The new Iron Curtain, designed to stop ideas and truth, is already rusting. And that is very bad news for the Kremlin.  – Center for European Policy Analysis 


The head of the United Nations atomic energy watchdog said Thursday that Iran is removing 27 cameras used by the agency to monitor the country’s nuclear sites, a move that he warned could deliver a “fatal blow” to the stalled international negotiations to restore a 2015 nuclear deal. – Washington Post  

Iran expects an oil cargo confiscated by the United States off the coast of Greece to be returned in full, Tehran’s ambassador to Athens said on Thursday, following a Greek court ruling quashing the original decision to confiscate it. – Reuters 

France, Britain and Germany condemned on Thursday steps taken by Iran to essentially remove all the U.N. atomic watchdog’s monitoring equipment installed under a 2015 nuclear deal, saying the move cast a doubt on Tehran’s will to revive the accord. – Reuters  

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that Iran’s decision to remove nuclear monitoring equipment after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution critical of the country could lead to “deepening nuclear crisis and further economic and political isolation.” – Algemeiner 

Iranian regime’s security secretary, Mohsan Razai, who played a key role in the 1994 deadly bombing of the Jewish community center in Argentina, threatened Israel. – Algemeiner 

Editorial: There are few good options when dealing with rogue states that have or want the bomb, but rewarding Iran for its malign behavior is easily the worst. It’s all the more remarkable that the Iranians now seem to prefer humiliating the White House over taking the generous concessions apparently on offer. – Wall Street Journal 

David Albright and Sarah Burkhard write: Iran’s Nuclear Archive contains documentary evidence demonstrating Iran’s deceptions in its declarations to the International Atomic Energy Agency about its past military nuclear activities. These deception activities continue today. The extent of its duplicity, involving high level officials, false statements, and altered documents, is illustrated by the case of the Gchine uranium mine and yellowcake production plant, or “mill,” located in southern Iran near Bandar Abbas. – Institute for Science and International Security  

Danielle Pletka writes: Taken in tandem with the escalating hardening of economic blocs, Russia’s use of Iran to evade its own sanctions, and China’s newfound determination to inoculate itself from Western opprobrium, the world looks to be settling into Iran’s vision of a resistance economy—perhaps even a set of resistance economies—that may allow Tehran to have its nuclear cake and earn foreign exchange in the bargain. In short, the omens in Washington and in Tehran are bad for a resumption of the JCPOA as it was, let alone longer or stronger. Bob Menendez was right, the Iranians are “not there.” And neither, he might have added, is the U.S. Congress. – The Dispatch  

Michael Hirsh writes: Yet even now, there may be hope for further negotiation. The ongoing protests in Iran by retirees and ordinary working people are underlining how much Tehran needs to get out from under sanctions. And even the hard-line Raisi—with the approval of the supreme leader—has been willing to negotiate. After more than a year of on-and-off negotiations, European diplomats acting as liaisons to chief U.S. envoy Robert Malley have all but scripted a return to the 2015 agreement. – Foreign Policy 


In NPR’s first visit to Afghanistan since the Taliban took over almost a year ago, Diaa Hadid discusses the changes she’s observing in Kabul since she last visited there in pre-Taliban-ruled 2020. – NPR 

Beth Bailey writes: Tens of thousands of Afghans awaiting an SIV face increasingly dire circumstances. The court, and the country, should demand the Biden administration provide speedier assistance to those who continue to experience great risk for their support of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. – Washington Examiner 

Anne Patterson and Ronald E. Neumann write: But moving to reopen our diplomatic function in Afghanistan without gaining something in return would risk having the Taliban miscalculate American intentions. Reopening a presence should be balanced with more forceful steps such as reimposing the travel ban so that our actions are not misunderstood. – The Hill 


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday warned Greece to demilitarize islands in the Aegean Sea, saying he was “not joking” and posting tweets in Greek and English, in a marked harshening of rhetoric against Turkey’s neighbor and historic regional rival. – Associated Press 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed Thursday that he plans to stand for reelection next year. Erdogan, 68, made the announcement during a speech in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir, where he challenged the main opposition party’s leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, to announce the candidate who would challenge him on behalf of an alliance of opposition parties. – Associated Press  

Turkey may soon launch a new military operation against the Kurdish forces that partnered with the United States to dismantle the Islamic State group in Syria despite protests from American officials. – Washington Examiner 

Turkey has no problem holding back approval of Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to join NATO while pursuing its own talks with Russia on opening Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea to allow the shipment of grain overseas, a panel of security experts said Wednesday. – USNI News  

While Turkey tries to position itself on the global stage as a knowing mediator between Russia and Ukraine, albeit with questionable success, it is at the same time ratcheting up bellicose rhetoric directed at Greece, a neighbor and fellow NATO member. That one-sided war of words escalated today when a representative of the Turkish president’s Justice and Development Party issued a thinly veiled threat to invade Greece. – New York Sun 


Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel made a snap trip to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, the latest display of the strengthening alliance between the two countries and their united front against Iran amid rising tensions over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. – New York Times 

The United States is restoring a line of communication for the Palestinians that had been canceled by the Trump administration. The move, announced Thursday before a possible visit by President Joe Biden to Israel and the occupied West Bank, is bureaucratic in nature. But it means the Palestinians will deal directly with the U.S. State Department in Washington rather than first go through the American ambassador to Israel. – Associated Press 

Israel’s Ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, presented in a moving ceremony his formal request to become ambassador to the king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and thus became the first Israeli ambassador to the country. – Arutz Sheva 

Yaakov Katz writes: But it is not the means to an end. That requires a more thought-out strategy. There are hints that Israel has one, and Bennett spoke in the Knesset this week – in the part of the meeting closed to the media – about the kind of nuclear deal that Israel would find acceptable. But Israel does need to recognize that getting the world on its side and understanding the need for a tougher approach to Iran is always going to be an uphill battle. Can it succeed? We will soon find out. – Jerusalem Post 


The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group threatened Thursday to strike a gas rig Israel is setting up in the Mediterranean Sea and that Lebanon claims is in a disputed maritime area between the two countries. – Associated Press 

A year-long corruption investigation into Lebanon’s central bank governor Riad Salameh took a significant step forward on Thursday, when the country’s top public prosecutor referred the case to a Beirut court. – Reuters 

For decades, the roar of Israeli jets, and the hum of surveillance drones have been regular features in the skies above Lebanon, buzzing towns and cities at will – and acting as constant reminders that war is never far away. – The Guardian 

Middle East & North Africa

The Pentagon would work with Israel and several Arab states to integrate air defenses to thwart threats from Iran, under proposed bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress on Thursday. – Wall Street Journal 

A Syrian military official said an Israeli attack targeted sites south of the capital Damascus early on Friday, Syrian state media reported. – Reuters 

Anchal Vohra writes: For now, Erdogan’s resettlement plan remains technically voluntary, but since the vast majority of Turkey’s Syrian refugees will not want to return to Syria anytime in the near future, Ciddi said Turkish authorities will likely forcibly resettle others. Many Syrians hope the plan will never see the light of the day and will fade from public consciousness as the election passes. – Foreign Policy 

Jonathan Meilaender writes: In other words, Syria holds the keys to expanding NATO, encouraging good behavior from Erdogan, hurting Russia, and weakening Iranian influence, all at a low cost. All it will take is speed and flexibility. Simply put, America cannot permit Turkey to invade unchallenged. – The National Interest 


Chinese jets repeatedly buzzed a Canadian plane monitoring North Korea, sometimes coming so close that the pilots could see each other. Hundreds of miles to the south, a Chinese fighter plane sprayed metallic chaff in the path of an Australian surveillance craft, a maneuver that Australia called “very dangerous.” – New York Times 

US relations with China are likely in the worst state since former President Richard Nixon’s historic trip in 1972 helped re-establish diplomatic ties between Washington and Beijing, according to Nicholas Burns, the current American ambassador to the Asian nation. – Bloomberg 

China has cautioned the United States about spiraling tensions across the Taiwan Strait after the Biden administration approved a new arms sale to Taiwan. – Newsweek 

European Union lawmakers pushed to bolster sanctions against Chinese officials involved in alleged human rights violations in the western region of Xinjiang. – Bloomberg  

On June 7, 2022, China Military Online, a media outlet authorized by the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China and sponsored by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) News Media Center, published an article, titled “NATO, Defensive In Name But Offensive In Nature,” defining NATO as an “interventionist” and “expansionist” “political-military group.” – Middle East Media Research Institute 

On May 30, 2022, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece media outlet China.org.cn published an article, titled “Trial And Error Game By U.S. Puts Taiwan Into Danger,” commenting on U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent remarks during a May 23 joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo. During the press conference, Biden stressed his willingness to use force to defend Taiwan against China. However, the White House downplayed Biden’s comments immediately after. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: It is now known that China’s leaders covered up the outbreak in the first weeks of 2020, when the pandemic exploded. They have also rejected calls for more investigation, and rejected the lab leak hypothesis, while insisting the virus might have come from abroad. The SAGO report does not provide conclusive answers. But much of the research it calls for must be carried out in China, and will require China to be more open than it has been so far. – Washington Post 

Mark Toth writes: Recognize a patchwork of economic and bilateral military agreements, including the new Indo-Pacific pact and AUKUS simply are not cohesive enough to ensure and guarantee containment of China. Alongside Australia and Japan, Biden should begin building consensus toward a Pacific charter in the spirit of NATO. It is time for the U.S. to stop playing for a tie and start crafting a 3D strategy to win. – The Hill 

Nadège Rolland writes: Indeed, planners in Beijing likely enjoy watching Washington’s frantic response whenever rumors of a new Chinese naval base emerge. They might even consider maneuvers designed to divert U.S. financial resources, diplomatic energy, and military focus away from places of great importance. Instead of casting its strategy for the global South entirely in terms of competition against China, the United States should determine its own priorities. – Foreign Affairs 

Ian Johnson writes: Beijing’s unyielding approach to Europe may not last forever. Analysts and officials in central and eastern Europe who have dealt with China say that its officials are now strong linguistically in the mosaic of languages and cultures that make up the region. And the Chinese leadership is persistent—although its ambassador’s visit to the region last month was considered a failure, Beijing is unlikely to give up. Success, however, will depend on a return to more pragmatic policies. – Foreign Affairs 

South Asia

A recent controversy sparked by “blasphemous” comments “insulting” the Prophet Muhammad and Islam made by spokespersons of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to which Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs, has taken on an international dimension with Islamic countries such as Qatar, Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait raising the issue publicly. Some have summoned the Indian ambassadors to their countries to raise diplomatic objections, while Muslims in several Indian towns, notably Kanpur, have protested. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

The Biden administration’s leading international energy adviser has called on India not to go “too far” as it increases imports of discounted Russian crude that has lost buyers in Europe. – Financial Times 

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation will visit Sri Lanka on June 20 for talks as the country looks for a loan programme from the lender to deal with its worst economic crisis in seven decades, the prime minister’s office said on Friday. – Reuters 

Basil Rajapaksa, the younger brother of Sri Lanka’s president and the country’s former finance minister, said he resigned from Parliament on Thursday, amid mounting criticism of his alleged role in dragging the island nation into its worst economic crisis in memory. – Associated Press 

Sadanand Dhume writes: All this means that even if it were not hypocritical for BJP supporters to lambast penalizing Ms. Sharma and Mr. Jindal, it would be foolish for ruling party officials to insult revered Islamic religious figures. Hard-line Hindu nationalists may hate the idea of India’s kowtowing to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but Mr. Modi knows better than to pick a fight that he can’t win. – Wall Street Journal 


Australia’s prime minister said Friday after a meeting with his New Zealand counterpart that the two nations are in lockstep in their policies toward the Pacific islands, where China’s influence is growing. – Associated Press 

Philippine President-elect Ferdinand Marcos met with a top U.S. official in Manila on Thursday, underscoring efforts to preserve an alliance strained by incumbent leader Rodrigo Duterte’s animosity toward Washington and his embrace of Beijing. – Reuters 

A French parliamentary delegation pledged support for Taiwan during a meeting Thursday with the president of the self-governing island democracy that China claims as its own territory with no right to diplomatic recognition. – Associated Press 

A court in Myanmar ruled Thursday that prosecutors presented sufficient evidence against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Australian economist Sean Turnell and three other defendants to continue their trial on charges of violating the official secrets law. – Associated Press 

Malaysia has agreed to abolish the mandatory death sentence and replace it with other punishments at the discretion of the court, its law minister said on Friday, revisiting a pledge made over three years ago. – Reuters 

After persuading a few traditional friends of Moscow to chastise Russia over its war in Ukraine, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will now try to bring others in Asia aboard to balance a more assertive China. – Bloomberg 

An article published May 17, 2022 by Taiwan’s Global Defense Magazine discussed the lessons that Taiwan can learn from Ukraine to counter China. According to the article, titled “The Russia-Ukraine War Is Hard to Stop: How To Handle It if It Happens on the Battlefield in the Taiwan Strait,” if Taiwan loses its sea and air superiority in an initial battle with Beijing, and the war moves onto the land, the Ukrainian urban warfare scenario may be repeated in Taiwan, and Taiwanese troops may constitute a huge obstacle for the invading forces. – Middle East Media Research Institute 


Poland’s government announced Thursday that it will lift a state of emergency on July 1 along its border with Belarus as it completes the construction of a wall aimed at stopping migrants and refugees. – Associated Press 

Spain has said it will defend “Spanish interests and companies” after Algeria suspended a 20-year-old friendship treaty with its European neighbour as tensions escalate over the status of Western Sahara. – Financial Times 

A former Nato chief is calling for the creation of an economic version of the Article 5 mutual defence pledge that defines the transatlantic military alliance in order to thwart commercial coercion by authoritarian states. – Financial Times 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday easily passed a resolution pressing NATO to quickly admit Finland and Sweden, a sign of bipartisan agreement about pushing back on Russian aggression. – The Hill 

The U.S. special envoy for Belarus, Julie Fisher, says Washington remains “committed” to working with Belarus wherever possible, even though relations have been badly strained amid a crackdown by the regime of authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashena against dissent since a disputed election in August 2020. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Sweden will look to make constructive progress in talks with Turkey on Ankara’s objections over the Nordic country’s application to join the NATO defensive alliance, Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Friday. – Reuters 

Arthur Herman writes: The alliance should also hold its next summit above the Arctic Circle. Choosing a Norwegian city such as Tromsø or Bodø would clearly demonstrate that NATO takes threats to this region seriously. Mr. Putin believes the Arctic is Moscow’s exclusive enclave. NATO and Washington need to demonstrate the opposite: Keeping the Arctic region free and open is the best policy for our respective national interests as well as global stability and peace. – Wall Street Journal 

Tom Rogan writes: Chancellor Olaf Scholz is generally weak on Ukraine, to the detriment of Europe and Western security. Compared to Merkel, however, Scholz is a modern Otto von Bismarck — a giant of European strength and leadership. Merkel’s record on Russia? She was the modern Franz von Papen, the German vice-chancellor who helped bring Hitler to power in the delusional belief he could control the fanatic. In other words, Merkel was what the Russians would refer to as a useful idiot. And what the Chinese communists literally referred to as an “old friend.” – Washington Examiner 

Richard Haass writes: The West should also attempt to restore grain exports from Ukraine, which are central to the world’s food security. If logistical constraints and Russian attacks limit what Ukraine can transport via rail and road to ports in Romania, then the United States and its European allies should consider providing Ukraine with enhanced means (most likely aircraft) to attack Russian naval vessels in the Black Sea. Putting together an international coalition to escort merchant ships as they leave Ukrainian ports is attractive in principle, but in practice it would likely prove impossible to organize and too risky to undertake. Publicly, U.S. officials should frame the war in Ukraine in terms of order, not democracy. – Foreign Affairs 


The armed forces of Democratic Republic of Congo have accused Rwanda of sending 500 special forces in disguise into Congolese territory, the latest accusation in an escalating dispute between the neighbours. – Reuters 

Senegal President Macky Sall said on Thursday he is still hopeful that a compromise can be reached with Mali’s ruling military junta on the timeline for restoring democratic rule. – Reuters 

Bandits on motorcycles killed 32 people and set fire to houses in several villages in the Kajura area of Nigeria’s northern Kaduna state on Sunday, authorities said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Latin America

President Biden met for the first time on Thursday with President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, the leader of the second-largest country in the Western Hemisphere, in a face-to-face discussion that was one of the most anticipated of the ninth Summit of the Americas. – New York Times 

President Biden on Thursday sought to push back against waning American influence in Latin America by outlining a vision of shared goals on divisive issues like climate and migration at a regional summit plagued by divisions and a partial boycott. – Wall Street Journal 

Elliott Abrams writes: Biden was right to exclude the hemisphere’s dictators from Los Angeles. It is tragic that he did not take the logical next step and support the democrats fighting the dictatorship in Venezuela by inviting its legitimate president. Biden’s stated policy to support democracy and human rights will fail unless he shows the courage of his convictions. – Foreign Policy 

United States

U.N. member nations elected five countries to join the powerful U.N. Security Council on Thursday with no suspense or drama because all were unopposed — Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique and Switzerland. – Associated Press 

Editorial: Biden has neither the vision nor the will to secure the cooperation needed from other nations to bring mass illegal migration under control. And the entire hemisphere will continue to suffer as a result. – Washington Examiner 

Francis J. Gavin writes: Should he pursue the path of accommodation, the odds of success will be long—but no longer than those Kennedy faced in 1963. Back then, relations between superpowers were far worse, the geopolitical and ideological divisions between them were much deeper, and the issues were equally irreconcilable. In a nuclear world, however, Kennedy recognized that his greatest obligation was to seek peace. Biden must do the same. – Foreign Affairs 


Facebook prohibits gun sales on its service. But buyers and sellers can violate the rule 10 times before they are kicked off the social network, according to internal guidance obtained by The Washington Post.Washington Post 

Russia warned the West on Thursday that cyber-attacks against its infrastructure risked leading to direct military confrontation, and that attempts to challenge Moscow in the cyber sphere would be met with targeted countermeasures. – Reuters 

Chinese hackers have stepped up their probes against the U.S. tech sector since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an FBI official said on Thursday. – The Record 


The United States has relied almost entirely on China — and to a lesser extent Russia — in recent years to procure a critical mineral that is vital to producing ammunition. – Defense News 

President Joe Biden on Thursday nominated Lt. Gen. Michael E. Langley to lead U.S. forces in Africa, teeing him up to become the first Black four-star Marine Corps general. – Defense News 

During a recent visit to South Korea, President Joe Biden and a team of US officials established a new annual forum to broaden cooperation on emerging technologies in areas the Defense Department deems critical: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, space development, cyberspace, semiconductors, batteries and civil nuclear power. – Breaking Defense