Fdd's overnight brief

June 21, 2022

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, hundreds of miles west of the rest of the country, is the latest flash point between Moscow and the rest of Europe as the fallout from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war reverberates beyond Ukraine – Washington Post 

China’s imports of Russian crude oil hit a record in May, as Chinese buyers took advantage of discounted prices after Beijing pledged to continue normal economic ties with Moscow despite the geopolitical fallout from President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. – Washington Post 

The Kremlin’s top spokesman on Monday confirmed that two Americans who had disappeared after joining the war effort in Ukraine were taken into Russian custody, and he said they would not be afforded protections granted by the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war. – Washington Post 

A U.S. citizen has been killed in combat in Ukraine, according to an obituary published by his family and affirmed by the State Department, making him at least the second American to die as a result of the war. – Washington Post 

Russian forces appeared poised to tighten the noose around thousands of Ukrainian troops near two strategically important cities in the fiercely contested Donbas region of eastern Ukraine on Sunday, mounting an assault on Ukrainian front lines that forced Ukraine to rush reinforcements to the area. – New York Times 

The Russian blockade that has stopped Ukraine from exporting its vast storehouses of grain and other goods, threatening starvation in distant corners of the globe, is a “war crime,” the European Union’s top foreign policy official declared Monday. – New York Times 

Russia has amassed forces near Severodonetsk in an attempt to seize Ukraine’s last urban foothold in the east, Ukrainian officials said, but the invaders made little progress there on Saturday. – Washington Post  

The United States and its allies are making preparations for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, officials said, as the Biden administration attempts to deny Russia victory by surging military aid to Kyiv while scrambling to ease the war’s destabilizing effects on world hunger and the global economy. – Washington Post 

When Russia shifted its military campaign to focus on eastern Ukraine this spring, senior officials in the Biden administration said the next four to six weeks of fighting would determine the war’s eventual path. – New York Times  

Russian forces launched airstrikes and artillery attacks as they pressed their offensive in eastern Ukraine and the fight for control of the key city of Severodonetsk intensified, while the southern port city of Odessa was rocked by explosions. – Wall Street Journal 

Lithuania on Monday defended its decision to bar rail transit from Russia to a Russian Baltic Sea exclave of goods hit by European Union sanctions, in a move that drew Moscow’s strong anger amid high tensions in the region. – Associated Press 

A Russian-owned superyacht seized by the United States arrived in Honolulu Harbor on Thursday flying an American flag. The U.S. last week won a legal battle in Fiji to take the $325 million vessel and immediately sailed it to Hawaii. – Associated Press 

Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain exports sparked fresh tensions with Europe as fears grow of a global food crisis, while Kyiv accused Moscow of stepping up attacks in the east of the country. – Agence France-Presse 

European countries have triggered emergency plans that could lead to rationing of natural gas and signaled a shift back to coal-fired power as the continent’s largest buyers of Russian fuel seek to secure their energy supplies. – Business Insider 

The Russian force the US military and intelligence agencies believed to be a near-peer adversary hasn’t shown up. The force that did appear had its main thrust blunted by smaller Ukrainian units. After taking heavy casualties and achieving few objects, Moscow pulled back its troops and lowered its ambitions. – Business Insider 

Garry Kasparov writes: Stop talking about negotiated outcomes that will only give Mr. Putin time to prepare his next attack. Helping Ukraine isn’t charity. Democracy can’t be defended on the cheap. The high cost of inflation will be nothing compared with the price Vladimir Putin will exact if he isn’t stopped now. – Wall Street Journal 

Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Russian sources are likely setting information conditions to justify slow and unsuccessful advances towards Slovyansk from the southeast of Izyum and west of Lyman. Russian forces are likely intensifying operations to interdict Ukrainian lines of communication along the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway in order to support escalating operations in Severodonetsk-Lysychansk. – Institute for the Study of War 

Clara Ferreira Marques writes: Putin talked up truckmaker Kamaz PSJC as an example of where domestic producers have stepped up to provide parts — but the automotive industry, choked by supply chain failures, is actually an example of just the sort of backward technological slide Russia should be wary of, as the country lowers safety rules to get around missing components and build basic domestic production, with the human capital loss that entails. “It is much better at home,” the president told his audience, calling on oligarchs frozen out by the West to invest their money back in Russia. Some may well comply. But it won’t be Putin’s vision of self-reliance that lures them. – Bloomberg 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Russia wants to show the US that it has impunity to attack US-backed groups. Turkey is also threatening more invasions of northern Syria to attack groups linked to America, and Iran is attacking US forces. All of this is evidence that Putin is putting his “multi-polar” world into action along with other authoritarian regimes. This potentially has major consequences for Israel, which has operated against Iran in Syria to stop Iranian entrenchment. It’s not clear yet how Russia may change its stance on Israel but it has recently condemned the Jewish state’s operations. – Jerusalem Post  

Andreas Kluth writes: It amounts to entering a new tactical arms race and therefore goes in the opposite direction of the vision behind the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, signed by 86 non-nuclear countries and meant to ban these diabolical arms altogether. Instead of eliminating nukes, we’d look for new ways of deterring their use. For all this, blame Putin. He attacked Ukraine — 28 years after Russia guaranteed the country’s security so Kyiv could surrender its own Soviet-era nukes. He broke the taboo against threatening nuclear escalation in conventional warfare. In all these, ways Putin has made naivete and pacifism untenable. – Bloomberg 

Clara Ferreira Marques writes: There’s evidence that a group of buyers important to allied nations’ efforts to widen the coalition and isolate Russia could be receptive to efforts that might weaken arms ties. India, Russia’s biggest client, has also made significant purchases from France, Israel and US in combat aircraft, missiles, drones and more. And despite Putin’s focus on Southeast Asia, where he is the top supplier, efforts to deepen military cooperation alongside arms sales remain shallow, leaving room for the expansion of alternative providers in Indonesia, Philippines (wary of running afoul of US sanctions) and even Vietnam. Competitors like Japan, South Korea, Turkey or Europeans could be viable alternatives for those seeking a middle ground between US and China. – Bloomberg 

Minxin Pei writes: A decisive military defeat of Russia that resulted in Putin’s fall would obviously make the task easier. But such a scenario is virtually unthinkable: Nuclear powers can always resort to the ultimate weapon of mass destruction when faced with a catastrophic defeat. Alternatively, the West could seek a quick end to the war on terms that favor Putin. The Russian leader would in theory then have more space to maneuver and limit his dependence on China. Whether Western governments have enough political space themselves, not to mention will, to engineer such an outcome, though, looks increasingly unlikely. – Bloomberg 

Max Hastings writes: If there is no short-term hope of overcoming Putin. Economic sanctions and social isolation, especially of the Kremlin’s oligarch friends, should be maintained for years to come, together with a huge injection of funds to strengthen NATO. It is vital to show the American people, as well as the Biden administration, that US leadership and support for Ukraine are properly valued and respected by Europeans. Without them, our predicament would be dire indeed. – Bloomberg 


Israel is intensifying its campaign to thwart Iran’s nuclear, missile and drone programs with a series of covert operations targeting a broader range of key targets, said people familiar with the effort. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States and Iran had their latest near miss Monday, after three vessels controlled by Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps buzzed two American ships at what the U.S. military called “dangerously high speed.” – Washington Post 

Iran is escalating its uranium enrichment further by preparing to use advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Fordow site that can more easily switch between enrichment levels, a United Nations nuclear watchdog report seen by Reuters on Monday showed. – Reuters 

Iran said on Monday that Tehran is ready to reach a “good deal” with world powers, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told a televised news conference, blaming the U.S. for stalling talks to revive their 2015 nuclear pact. – Reuters 

The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday on Chinese and Emirati companies and on a network of Iranian firms that help export Iran’s petrochemicals, a step that may raise pressure on Tehran to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. – Reuters 

The United Arab Emirates hopes Iran will work with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide reassurances to the international community and the region about Iran’s nuclear programme, the UAE’s IAEA envoy Hamad Al Kaabi told reporters on Friday. – Reuters 

Iran on Saturday told the United Arab Emirates that Tehran gave a high priority to improving ties with its neighbours, Iranian state media reported, a day after the UAE voiced concern over Tehran’s nuclear programme. – Reuters 

An explosion was heard in western Tehran early on Saturday morning, with initial reports and satellite imagery indicating that a missile base belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was attacked. – Jerusalem Post 

Shimon Samuels and Ariel Gelblung write: The security minister of Argentina, Anibal Fernandez, a longtime friend of the Wiesenthal Center, stopped a Venezuelan aircraft and detained the passports of five Iranians of the IRGC intelligence division. One was liaison to Hezbollah, now solidly entrenched across the continent. Another is a relative of Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who is one of the six people sought by Interpol for the AMIA bombing. Latin American countries must be vigilant regarding Iranian terror, as we approach the 28th anniversary of the AMIA massacre. – Jerusalem Post 


Five British men held by the Taliban have been released, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office said in a statement Monday. The men were arrested nearly six months ago on charges of “violating Afghan law and the Afghan people’s traditions,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, tweeted. Mujahid did not provide any further details on the charges against the men or their time in detention. – Washington Post 

At least two people were killed when a blast hit a car in the Afghan capital on Sunday, officials said, the third deadly attack in the country in as many days. Khalid Zadran, a spokesman for Kabul’s commander, said the explosion hit a civilian vehicle in a neighbourhood in the north of the city. – Reuters  

The U.N. mission to Afghanistan reported scores of people were killed and wounded in an attack on a busy market in eastern Nangarhar province on Monday, although Taliban officials said they could only confirm 10 people had been wounded. – Reuters 

An explosion ripped through a mosque in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province on Friday, killing at least one worshipper and wounding seven others, a Taliban official said. – Associated Press 


Clashes among Syrian rebel groups backed by Turkey ended on Sunday after they agreed to a truce, residents and rebel sources said, easing fears of wider internecine warfare among opponents of President Bashar al Assad’s rule. – Reuters 

A new ambassador from Bahrain formally took up his post in Syria on Sunday, the country’s first full diplomatic mission there in more than a decade as Damascus continues to improve its relations with Gulf Arab states. – Associated Press 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, on Thursday, allegedly called for the formal recognition of the Russian-backed separatist “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine as independent of Kyiv. – Fox News 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: His comments show that the previous administration sought to increase coordination with Israel, and once Israel was under the US Central Command area of operations, this became more logical and easier to accomplish. All eyes have now turned to Syria again, with the crisis in Ukraine and other issues in the region. It remains to be seen if the new focus on Syria will lead to a shift in Iran’s tactics and how the coordination with the US continues to potentially grow in relation to Iran’s threats. – Jerusalem Post 


Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday he wanted to keep an open channel of communication with Turkey despite sharp rhetoric which has heightened tension between the two neighbours. – Reuters   

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid plans to visit Turkey this week, his office said on Sunday, after months of warming ties but also recent worries voiced by Israel that its citizens could come under attack by Iranian agents in the NATO-member country. – Reuters 

President Isaac Herzog called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday to thank him for Turkey’s efforts to find Iranian terrorist squads in Istanbul. Their conversation was termed “positive and warm” by Israeli sources. – Haaretz  

Fractures forming in the eastern flank of the NATO military alliance are threatening the unity of the bloc ahead of a much anticipated summit in Spain later this month. The root of the problem appears to be the member farthest from the North Atlantic: Turkey. – New York Sun 


With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Israel’s burgeoning natural gas sector has set its sights on energy-desperate Europe, but it’s also using its newly acquired energy wealth to achieve its long-sought goal of integrating itself into the region with its once-hostile Arab neighbors. – Washington Post  

Israel’s governing coalition will dissolve Parliament before the end of the month, bringing down the government and sending the country to a fifth election in three years, the prime minister said on Monday. – New York Times 

The Israeli government confirmed on Monday that it is part of a regional military partnership to combat threats from Iran, in the latest example of Israel’s growing engagement with some Arab governments and the recalibration of Middle Eastern alliances. – New York Times 

Israel’s defense minister on Monday said that Israel is helping build a U.S.-led regional air-defense alliance against Iran, and that the partnership has already thwarted attempted Iranian attacks. – Associated Press  

US President Joe Biden still plans to visit Israel next month, despite the coalition’s collapse, US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides said Monday. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel’s primary goal during US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit will be “to finalize a clear joint plan of action together with the US to stop Iran’s nuclear program,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday. – Times of Israel 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday that Israeli and Turkish security officials have worked together to foil terrorist attacks on Israelis in Turkey. – Times of Israel 

The Palestinian Arab Samanews website reported on Monday that the Palestinian “resistance organizations” are holding consultations to examine scenarios for a military confrontation with Israel. – Arutz Sheva 

Ester Kurz writes: It is incumbent on the Bennett administration to ensure that does not happen once again. And, of course, there is the question of who will actually be Israel’s prime minister when Biden comes in July? Given the critical importance of Israel’s relations with the United States and the centrality of bipartisanship to sustaining that relationship, whoever is prime minister would be wise to continue and strengthen the successful model that Biden and Bennett have created. – Times of Israel 


A Turkish drone targeted a vehicle traveling in Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Friday, killing four Kurdish militants, Iraq’s Kurdistan’s counter-terrorism service said – Associated Press 

The Iraqi oil minister said on Sunday that Iraq would implement a ruling from its federal court in February in which it deemed a Kurdish oil and gas law unconstitutional. – Reuters 

Douglas Ollivant writes: Iraq remains fragile. Climate change has buffeted the country already this summer with record heat and sandstorms and the Tigris is flowing at near-record lows. Voter cynicism resulted in low turnout last fall. Demographics bring one million new Iraqi citizens who need jobs into the adult ranks each year. And now a major social current — the Sadrist trend — will be outside the government openly waiting for (and perhaps attempting to accelerate) the total collapse of the system. The challenges remain huge, but even small steps that acknowledge the scope of the problem would be encouraging. Whether this still unformed government can take them will be their test. – War on the Rocks 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Cairo on Monday on the first leg of a Middle East tour that comes ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip to the region next month. – Associated Press 

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday he was not traveling to Saudi Arabia’s explicitly to meet de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman during a trip next month and said he was seeing the Saudi crown prince as part of a broader “international meeting.” – Reuters 

It would be premature to speak of Iran and Saudi Arabia reopening embassies in each other’s capitals, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday, after five rounds of talks since last year between the rivals on improving ties. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia ended a ban on travel to Turkey on Monday, re-opening a major channel for tourism and investment ahead of a visit by the crown prince to help repair ties. – Bloomberg 

Walter Russell Mead writes: The Saudis want stronger defense ties as much as the Biden administration needs them. That common security interest can be the basis for a renewed partnership. And by arguing that increased Saudi oil production will help isolate Iran and cut its revenue, Mr. Biden may just be able to persuade MBS to pump some more crude. – Wall Street Journal 

Steven A. Cook and Martin Indyk write: Saudi Arabia, too, would have to make difficult sacrifices to achieve the new compact, breaking its oil pact with Russia and its burgeoning cooperation with China, and moving back into the American orbit with all that would mean for MBS’s policies at home as well as abroad. Nevertheless, to manage the multiple crises of this era in the Middle East and beyond, the United States needs a responsible Saudi partner, and Saudi Arabia needs a reliable American one. This is the moment for Biden to go big in his relationship with Saudi Arabia, or stay home. – Foreign Affairs 

Middle East & North Africa

Hundreds of people demonstrated in Tunis on Sunday in a second day of protest against a constitutional referendum called by President Kais Saied that his opponents say would cement his hold on power. – Reuters 

A Palestinian reporter working for an Iranian news agency was briefly abducted, beaten and threatened by Palestinian gunmen after covering the violent dispersal of an Islamist student demonstration in the West Bank earlier this week. – Associated Press 

Rival Libyan factions failed to reach an agreement after wrapping up a third round of U.N.-mediated talks in Egypt, the United Nations said Monday, further complicating international efforts to find a way out of the country’s decade-old chaos. – Associated Press 

Libya has little chance of holding elections this year, the parliament-backed prime minister said, raising the prospect of further uncertainty for the OPEC member’s oil industry just as the market is in urgent need of its crude. – Bloomberg   

Gil Troy writes: While the need for this new interpretation has been building for decades, the Abraham Accords helped break the stalemate. The resulting diplomatic, economic, cultural, and tourist reset invites a more subtle, multidimensional, and less Palestinian-centered understanding of Israeli history and of Zionism. As Israel’s 75th birthday approaches, it’s time to put the Palestinian obsession to destroy Israel in proper perspective. It’s time to create a new periodization and new plotline for understanding Israel. And that’s why it’s time to add that “s” to the Arab–Israeli conflicts. – Commentary Magazine 

Korean Peninsula

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol said the United Nations Security Council should respond in a coordinated manner against North Korea’s missile provocations, South Korea’s Newsis reported on Friday. – Reuters 

South Korea is bidding to take a significant step beyond the North’s vaunted missile program with a 200-ton rocket that is poised for launch Tuesday. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute gave the go-ahead to fire the rocket after a launch was canceled last week due to “a technical glitch in the oxidizer tank sensor,” according to Yonhap, the South Korean news agency. – New York Sun 

South Korea launched its first domestically built space rocket on Tuesday in the country’s second attempt, months after its earlier liftoff failed to place a payload into orbit – Associated Press 

Donald Kirk writes: While Kim refuses to come to terms, to give way on the nuclear issue, North Korea will remain a threat to the security of the Korean peninsula and the region. Now that U.S., South Korean and Japanese leaders agree to cooperate against a menace to all their people, they and their successors will need to follow through, proving that their strong words are more than bluff. – The Hill 

Dov S. Zakheim writes: The Yoon administration clearly has indicated that its policies will mark a major change from those of its predecessor. The opposition party controls South Korea’s legislature, however, and it remains to be seen to what extent that reality will constrain Yoon’s initiatives. Nevertheless, the new government in Seoul promises a reinvigorated relationship with Washington that the Biden administration should not only continue to welcome but also do its utmost to foster. – The Hill 


China has launched its third aircraft carrier, its largest and most sophisticated to date, advancing its ambitions to build a modern oceangoing navy that can project power around the globe. – Wall Street Journal 

Beijing’s crackdown on civil liberties in Hong Kong has been “a lot worse” than expected, the last British governor of the city said Monday as he launched a new book to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to Chinese rule. – Associated Press 

Lawyers on Monday renewed calls for the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang region as they presented a dossier of evidence to prosecutors. – Associated Press 

President Joe Biden said Saturday he plans to talk to Chinese leader Xi Jinping soon as he considers whether to lift some Trump-era tariffs on Chinese goods. – Associated Press 

Cambodian defence minister Tea Banh took great pains this month to convince western military officials and diplomats that China was not building a military base in his country. His remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum matched Beijing’s insistence that the People’s Liberation Army was not trying to build a global network of bases. – Financial Times  

China has carried out a land-based missile interception test that “achieved its expected purpose”, the Defence Ministry said, describing it as defensive and not aimed at any country. – Reuters 

The US and China have many trade disputes, but none perhaps as explosive as accusations about forced labor being used in China’s Xinjiang region. The Chinese government, which vehemently denies the charges, says outsiders have misconstrued a rural jobs program that aims to improve living standards for ethnic minorities in poor regions. – Bloomberg 

Graham Allison and Eric Schmidt write: America is on the verge of losing the chip competition. Unless the U.S. government mobilizes a national effort similar to the one that created the technologies that won World War II, China could soon dominate semiconductors and the frontier technologies they will power. – Wall Street Journal 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The types of defense systems involved are also important. The close relationship between Israel and the US regarding missile defense, including American backing for the Arrow, David’s Sling and Patriot, matters a great deal. The Abraham Accords and the close relationships linking Israel with Greece, the Gulf, Egypt and India – as well as Israel’s ties to Singapore, Australia and South Korea – all matter in this wider context. – Jerusalem Post 

South Asia

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team began bailout talks in Sri Lanka on Monday, as the country’s cabinet cleared a constitutional amendment to dilute presidential powers that could assuage protesters amid rising tensions. – Reuters  

Sri Lanka’s cabinet has approved constitutional reforms aimed at clipping the powers of the presidency amid months of protests demanding the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for dragging the nation’s economy into an unprecedented crisis. – Bloomberg 

Husain Haqqani & Aparna Pande write: Differences with and criticisms of each other notwithstanding, India and the United States are committed to a long-term partnership. A more realistic understanding of India’s worldview, and consideration of India’s sensitivities and interests, might be critical to this partnership’s direction. – Hudson Institute 


Pacific security issues can and should be dealt with by regional nations, Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said on Friday, while adding that China’s size made it an attractive economic partner. – Reuters 

The United States supports the Philippines in calling on China “to end its provocative actions and respect international law in the South China Sea,” the State Department said on Friday. – Reuters  

A duo of U.S. senators introduced a bill on Thursday to significantly enhance support for Taiwan, including provisions for billions of dollars in U.S. security assistance and changes to the decades old law undergirding Washington’s unofficial ties with the Chinese-claimed democratic island. – Reuters 

The United States may let Tajikistan hold on to Afghan military aircraft donated by the U.S. that sought shelter in the Central Asian country following the U.S. withdrawal from Kabul last August, a U.S. military commander said. – Reuters 

The head of the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific said Friday that his forces are committed to defending southwestern Japanese islands as the allies try to bolster their defenses amid growing threats from China and Russia – Associated Press  

An Armenian soldier was shot and killed by Azerbaijani fire near Vardenis in Armenia on Saturday, Armenian media reported on Sunday, although the Armenian Defense Ministry has not issued an official statement on the incident. – Jerusalem Post  

Two long-wanted Abu Sayyaf militant commanders accused of beheading two kidnapped Canadian tourists and a German in the southern Philippines have surrendered to authorities, officials said Friday. – Associated Press 

Russian warships are now steaming in the East China and the Philippine seas near Japan, the Russian Navy and the Japan Defense Ministry announced on Monday. – USNI News 

Ivanna Kuz and Danylo Tsurkan write: Hence, Kazakhstan finds itself in an uneasy situation. To avoid Western sanctions and maintain its mostly Russia-linked economic stability, the Kazakh government is trying to appease both a large neighbor and a domestic audience. Russia has made it clear that it is fully aware of the country’s middle-man dilemma. But as Vladimir Putin becomes more isolated and desperate, he may not give Kazakhstan much of a choice. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Anu Anwar writes: As the Bay will become a test case for a nascent multipolar world order, it is of the utmost importance to establish governance frameworks that can facilitate the integration of rising powers in regulating this order and upholding the principles of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. – War on the Rocks 


Britain will start placing electronic tagging devices on some asylum seekers after they arrive on small boats via the English Channel or through what the government calls “dangerous and unnecessary routes.” – Washington Post 

Beachgoers in Ukraine should watch out for hazardous mines that lie underwater, Ukraine’s national guard warns, after the death of a man who was diving in the Odessa region moments before a device exploded and killed him instantly – Washington Post 

The European Commission on Friday issued an opinion recommending that Ukraine should be granted candidate status for European Union membership — a first step that will add significant momentum to the country’s campaign to join the bloc – Washington Post 

The loss of French President Emmanuel Macron’s parliamentary majority is an early sign of how Russia’s squeeze on European energy prices is raising the economic and political stakes for European leaders as the invasion of Ukraine becomes a war of attrition. – Wall Street Journal 

The president who campaigned on extricating America from “forever wars” cannot have missed the warning from the new head of Britain’s army yesterday that British troops must prepare for battle in Europe as the war in Ukraine drags on. General Sir Patrick Sanders, who took the reins as chief of the general staff last week, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “underlines our core purpose to protect the U.K. – New York Sun 

Germany will significantly increase its use of highly polluting coal to preserve energy supplies ahead of the winter as Russian cuts to gas exports threaten shortfalls in Europe’s largest economy. – Financial Times 

Ukraine has been forced to seek alternative fuel supplies as the Russian invasion hits its traditional supply routes, leaving the war-torn country with acute petrol shortages. – Financial Times 

The Dutch joined Germany and Austria in reverting to coal power on Monday following an energy crisis provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse  

Ukraine’s frontline troops in Avdiyivka have been bombarded by Russian howitzers, missiles, and tanks as they struggle to hold out in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. On June 20, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces reported that Russia has intensified its air strikes and deployed C-300 air-defense systems near the border. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Ukrainians wanting to keep track of air raid siren alerts, maps of ongoing battles and damaged infrastructure, and searching for shelters and Wi-Fi will soon have a new website and alert system to use to stay safe and informed amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of the country. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: And while it now appears that most, if not all, are onboard to grant them candidate status, the harsh truth remains that EU enlargement just isn’t very popular. Less than one year ago, some EU members were even questioning whether the word “enlargement” should be used when discussing the candidates in the Western Balkans. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Anne R. Pierce writes: Finland’s and Sweden’s pending historic admission to NATO represents new awareness of the Russian threat to freedom itself. The West should also quickly meet Ukraine’s and Moldova’s request to join the European Union, Georgia’s request to join the EU and NATO, and Estonia’s request for stronger NATO defense of Baltic members. We can either muster a stronger response to Russia’s genocidal war to “erase” Ukraine, or we can witness further erosion of American power and American-democratic ideals, more setbacks for “Europe whole and free,” and Russia’s continued bloody pursuit of a resurrected Russian empire. – Washington Examiner 

James Stavridis writes: Finally, as the most powerful member of NATO, the US, has a special responsibility to finding a path to untying this Gordian knot. Simply cutting through it by force won’t solve the underlying tensions which have been exacerbated by the EU’s long rejection of Turkish membership. There may be incentives the US can offer Turkey, ranging from military purchases to economic support for refugees they host from Syria. The path forward is narrow, and will require effort by all sides to bring these two superb candidates to membership. – Bloomberg 

Lionel Laurent writes: So while it’s a relief to Macron that Clement Beaune — his longtime ally and EU minister — managed to win a seat in parliament, this all looks a long way from the peak of Paris’s powers during Covid-19, when it convinced Berlin to reverse long-held taboos about closer integration. Pressure on political incumbents isn’t only a French issue, of course: Spain’s Pedro Sanchez has been dealt a blow in Andalusian elections, while the U.K. is facing its biggest rail strike in decades. Yet whereas the test of Macron’s mettle was once whether France could reform itself, now it will be whether France can govern itself. Exit Jupiter; enter Mars. – Bloomberg 


For decades, the village had been a sanctuary for the families, who tilled the land and cared for their herds in Ethiopia’s largest region. But on Monday, two days after gunmen set upon the ethnic Amhara residents of Tole village in the Oromia region of Ethiopia — killing perhaps hundreds, injuring many others and laying waste to property — any sense of sanctuary had vanished. – New York Times 

East Africa’s leaders have responded to the threat of war between Rwanda and Congo by instructing a new regional force to deploy in eastern Congo and ordering an immediate cease-fire. – Associated Press  

“Africa is actually taken hostage” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid catastrophically rising food prices, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the African Union continental body during a closed-door address on Monday. – Associated Press  

Armed residents and local security forces in Somalia’s Galmudug state killed 70 Al Shabaab fighters as they repulsed a raid by militants on Bahdo town on Friday, a local official said. – Reuters 

Rwandan police on Friday shot and killed a Congolese soldier who crossed the border and fired at security forces, Rwanda’s army said, as fighting intensified 50 km (30 miles) away between Congo’s military and rebels it says are backed by Rwanda. – Reuters  

Recent attacks by jihadi rebels in central Mali have killed 132 civilians, the government announced Monday. The killings happened when several villages in the Bankass area were attacked on Saturday and Sunday, the government said in a statement Monday. – Associated Press 

China’s first special envoy to the Horn of Africa on Monday offered to mediate in disputes in the region as Beijing seeks to strengthen its influence and protect its investments from conflict. – Associated Press 

Daniel F. Runde writes: To address DRC’s structural problems, the United States will need to consider a broader set of steps. First, the United States should establish a stronger diplomatic and development presence in Eastern Congo. Ideally, key European partners would do the same and, in the future, all would establish consulates. […]The immediate challenges require a longer-term approach to DRC similar to the two-decade commitment the U.S. made to Sudan. The United States government will need to dedicate more bandwidth and work with like-minded states to address these long-term challenges. – The Hill 

Latin America

For more than two centuries, Colombia was considered a conservative stalwart in Latin America. Even as leftist governments came and went across the region, a center-right political establishment remained in control — a continuity that cemented the country’s role as a key U.S. ally. On Sunday night, everything changed. Gustavo Petro, a senator and former guerrilla, was elected the country’s first leftist president – Washington Post 

Delegates from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government and the opposition will both attend the Oslo Forum this week, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said on Monday, offering hope that talks between the two parties will resume. – Reuters  

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Colombia on holding a free and fair election and said he was looking forward to working with leftist Gustavo Petro, who has vowed profound social and economic change, on winning the presidency. – Reuters 

The U.S. Treasury Department has removed a former Venezuelan national treasurer and nephew of the country’s first lady from its sanctions list, it said on Friday. – Reuters  

Federal police said Friday that human remains found in Brazil’s remote Amazon have been identified as belonging to British journalist Dom Phillips, who went missing almost two weeks ago along with a Brazilian Indigenous expert in a case that drew world attention. – Associated Press 

North America

Canada on Monday pledged to spend over $30 billion over the next two decades to help detect and track military threats from Russia and China in the Arctic. – Wall Street Journal 

The British government on Friday ordered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States to face espionage and hacking charges, but his attorneys said they will seek to keep him in Britain by pursuing new appeals – Washington Post 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Monday rejected calls for him to publicly demand the United States drop its prosecution of WikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen Julian Assange – Associated Press 

Max Boot writes: The Biden administration and its defenders have many excuses for not doing more. We don’t want to be drawn into a war with Russia. The situation isn’t as critical as the Ukrainians claim. They can’t absorb too much equipment too quickly. The Russians will simply destroy or capture our systems. The United States has limited stockpiles. It takes time to move heavy weapons and set up supply lines for them. While we can’t match the Russians in quantity, our equipment is of higher quality — so we don’t need to deliver it in the numbers the Ukrainians want. – Washington Post 


China’s chip industry is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, after US sanctions on local champions from Huawei Technologies Co. to Hikvision spurred appetite for home-grown components. – Bloomberg 

A Moscow court on Monday rejected an appeal brought by Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) after it was found guilty of “extremist activity” in Russia in March, the TASS news agency reported. – Reuters  

Maria Zuppello writes: National cyber regulations should require all enterprises and businesses to report all cyber incidents to coordinate response efforts and emergency measures. In addition, increased coordination between U.S. cyber agencies and its Western allies may be the most effective way to prevent Iran’s cyber attacks on civilian facilities, which might cost the lives of many innocents. – Arutz Sheva 


A bipartisan group of 32 senators sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, urging him that the United States security coordinator (USSC) for Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem remain an officer of three-star rank “and not be downgraded below that level.” – Jerusalem Post  

A provision in the House’s annual defense authorization bill, released Monday, would require the Pentagon to establish a critical munitions reserve and establish a pilot program to keep better tabs on subcontractors involved in production. – Defense News  

Paratroopers based in Alaska deployed over the Arctic Circle into Norway as part of a joint forcible entry operation in the U.S.-led Swift Response exercise last month, marking the first time a unit has rapidly deployed from Alaska into the arctic terrain of Northern Europe in the annual exercise. – Defense News  

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted the market for a broad range of critical materials essential to U.S. munitions and other defense industry products, spurring hundreds of millions in Pentagon spending to shore up supplies, a senior defense official told Defense News in an interview this month. – Defense News 

House lawmakers proposed a surge in funding for the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit following its leader’s sudden resignation, reportedly over concerns about a lack of support for the office’s mission to transition commercial technology for military use. – Defense News 

The Pentagon is exploring the option of using Elon Musk’s rockets to deploy a “quick reaction force” to thwart a future Benghazi-style attack, according to publicly available documents published by the Pentagon. – Jerusalem Post 

Long War

Islamic State said on Monday it carried out an attack that killed 13 people on a bus in Raqqa, in northern Syria, most of them government troops, the group said on its channel on Telegram. – Reuters 

An attack claimed by Islamic State on a Sikh temple in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday killed at least two people and injured seven, officials said, another deadly incident in a spate of violence targeting minorities and places of worship. – Reuters 

Turkish police on Monday detained two Islamic State (ISIS) suspects wanted by Interpol in the capital Ankara, the Xinhua news agency reported. – Arutz Sheva 

Three people have been charged with planning terrorist acts by acquiring weapons and bomb-making materials ”to be used in a terrorist attack in an unknown place in either Denmark or abroad,” a Danish prosecutor said Monday. – Associated Press