Fdd's overnight brief

June 22, 2023

In The News


Drought has stalked Iran for centuries, but the threat intensified in recent years as political priorities trumped sound water management, experts say. Climate change has only made things worse in an area that typically gets no rainfall for seven months out of the year, and where temperatures can soar to 124 degrees in July. – New York Times

Iran met in Qatar with European Union mediator Enrique Mora as part of efforts to revive its 2015 nuclear pact with world powers, as Tehran and Washington seek to cool tensions with a mutual “understanding” to help end the deadlock. – Reuters

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib were quizzed by lawmakers on Wednesday after delegations from Iranian and Russian cities were granted visas to attend a mayors’ convention in Brussels last week. – Reuters

The daughter of a California-based man sentenced to death in Iran has asked authorities in Germany to open criminal proceedings against members of the Iranian judiciary. – Associated Press

Britain’s government said Wednesday it was investigating allegations that UK universities have collaborated with Iran on drones and other sensitive technology despite a legal ban. – Agence France-Presse

The House Foreign Affairs Committee advanced a bipartisan bill on Wednesday to make the 1996 sanctions against Iran permanent. Reps. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., and Susie Lee, D-Nev., alongside committee chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, are the muscle behind the Solidifying Iran Sanctions Act (SISA) that is heading to a full vote on the House floor. – Fox News

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The US has been in the Middle East for decades but its role is often shifting. Recently there has been “unprofessional” behavior by Russia in Syria as well as Iranian threats against US forces. Iran’s proxies use rockets and drones and recent reports suggest they will shift to using explosive devices. – Jerusalem Post

Salem Alketbi writes: Specific measures and procedures may be agreed upon as a display of joint cooperation. Some anticipate that this could potentially escalate to the extent of conducting joint naval exercises – although, in my opinion, this is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future. However, none of these arrangements are likely to evolve into the declaration of a comprehensive maritime security alliance across the Gulf. – Jerusalem Post

Mohammed Baharoon and Alex Vatanka write: In other words, the UAE sees Iran through the prism of its connectivity agenda, but it remains to be seen if Iran views the UAE and the rest of the Arabian Peninsula in the same way or if it instead sees those states as an area of influence or simply a group of economies that provide it with short-term benefits as Tehran strives to free itself from the burden of American sanctions. – Middle East Institute

Russia & Ukraine

A Russian court is set to hear an appeal on Thursday to release Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter deemed by the U.S. to be wrongfully held, after he was ordered last month to remain in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison until at least Aug. 30. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian missiles struck a bridge that plays a key role in supplying Russia’s front-line troops in the south of Ukraine, Russian and occupation officials said, in a major attack overnight into Thursday that threatens to undermine Moscow’s hold in the area as Kyiv presses an offensive to retake lost territory. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian forces are proceeding more slowly than planned in their offensive to retake occupied areas, President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged, as military commanders said they are taking time to reassess tactics, adjusting to Russia’s extensive minefields and attacks from the air. – Wall Street Journal

The United States and European countries on Wednesday announced billions of dollars in new recovery assistance to Ukraine aimed at addressing the staggering destruction wrought by Russia’s invasion. – Washington Post

The war in Ukraine is aggravating the painful effects of climate change, causing not only severe damage in Ukraine, but also distress in a wider circle that includes Africa and South Asia, according to John F. Kerry, the United States special presidential envoy for climate. – New York Times

President Vladimir Putin said in remarks shown on Russian state television on Wednesday that Moscow had seen a “lull” in Ukraine’s counteroffensive, and that Kyiv had suffered heavy losses in attacks in the south. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia’s new generation of Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are capable of carrying 10 or more nuclear warheads, would soon be deployed for combat duty. – Reuters

Ukraine expects to be invited to join NATO with an “open date” at the military alliance’s summit in Vilnius next month, the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The United States will send $1.3 billion more in aid to Ukraine to help the conflict-hit country overhaul its energy grid and modernise its ports, railways and other infrastructure, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, will visit Russia on Friday, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday. – Reuters

The Kremlin on Wednesday restated its position that there are “no grounds” to extend the Black Sea grain deal, saying that the Turkish- and United Nations-brokered accord was not being properly implemented. – Reuters

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday pledged long-term security assurances to Ukraine but dashed Kyiv’s hopes for a swift accession to NATO. – Reuters

A coalition of Western countries is eyeing Romania as a possible location to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets, according to three people with knowledge of the planning, indicating that NATO countries are moving closer to starting a program that could see the warplanes above Ukrainian skies within months. – Politico

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke Wednesday with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov and discussed the ongoing Russian invasion as well as a missile warning system that Israel is developing for Ukraine. – Times of Israel

Editorial: Reaching that minimum benchmark, along with an explicit long-term commitment to Ukraine’s defense, is the key to persuading Mr. Putin to reassess his calculus that time remains Russia’s ally and to rid him of the assumption that “Ukraine fatigue” will eventually subvert the West’s resolve. The Russian tyrant is counting on knees buckling in Washington and across Europe as the war drags on. It is incumbent on the Biden administration and Ukraine’s other allies to demonstrate that they cannot be outlasted. – Washington Post

Vladimir Kara-Murza writes: That is the only way to make sure Europe can finally become whole, free and at peace — and stay that way. Both Russian society and the West are responsible for letting Putin come as far as he did. Both of us also share the responsibility to get it right this time. – Washington Post


Armed Israeli settlers rampaged through a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday afternoon, leaving at least one Palestinian dead and 12 injured a day after four Israelis were killed by Hamas gunmen near an Israeli settlement. – Washington Post

An Israeli drone killed three militant gunmen in the West Bank on Wednesday, in a rare strike that came hours after settlers attacked Palestinian towns, torching cars and buildings in retaliation for an attack by Hamas gunmen a day earlier. – Reuters

Israeli troops on Thursday demolished the home of a Palestinian who is suspected of killing an Israeli soldier last year, in the latest military operation in the increasingly volatile occupied West Bank, which has been gripped by surging violence. – Associated Press

The Hezbollah terror group established two tents in Israeli territory on the Lebanon border some two weeks ago, and the army had yet to clear them out as of Wednesday. – Times of Israel

Editorial: There will be those who try to link Tuesday’s murders to Israeli government actions, as if the two Hamas terrorists who murdered four Israelis in cold blood did so because of this or that Israeli policy. That is false. Ideological hatred of Jews and Israel fueled the terrorists who carried out Tuesday’s attack. They needed no excuse to seek out victims to murder. To search for a rational reason or cause-and-effect excuse for these murderous acts is an exercise in futility. Terrorism has no justification and there can be no equivalence between terrorists and their victims. Full stop. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: On the other hand, other questions remain about how to build on existing Greece-Cyprus-Israel ties. Will the energy dreams of the countries be met with pipelines, electric grids or LNG or other initiatives, or will they stall? Will more joint military drills grow into regional drills, linked to a greater US role, or will the US begin to focus less on the Eastern Mediterranean? Other issues remain, like climate change and the role of artificial intelligence. What the forum showed is that a unique partnership has been created, but it needs reinforcement and to advance to the next stage. – Jerusalem Post

James Holmes writes: I am also an advocate of secret direct back channels of communication and negotiations, particularly in frozen conflicts and especially in conflicts with failed peace processes. This kind of communication enables leaders from both sides to engage with a great deal of room to negotiate and establish common grounds that can develop into meaningful progress.  – Jerusalem Post


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken encouraged Ankara to support Sweden in its bid to join NATO in a meeting with new Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson said. – Reuters

Turkey’s parliament should begin to ratify Sweden’s bid to join NATO because Stockholm has now met its obligations under an accord with Ankara on joining the Western military alliance, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Two top Turkish economic officials are visiting the United Arab Emirates in their first trip abroad since joining President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s revamped cabinet last month, as the government looks for more foreign cash. – Bloomberg

Turkey’s central bank is expected to raise its policy rate sharply on Thursday in a strong signal that re-elected President Tayyip Erdogan has accepted some steps toward economic orthodoxy to address inflation that has soared under his watch. – Reuters

Murat Kubilay writes: In conclusion, Turkey’s new economic team may take a more hawkish tone when it comes to tackling inflation and preserving financial stability through fiscal and monetary measures. However, investors and policymakers should not be naïve, as this approach will only be temporary or partial, aimed at winning the upcoming local elections. Less hawkish policies would be more acceptable for Erdoğan, but they may not be sufficient to keep the Turkish economy on track. At the end of the day, much will depend on timing and the magnitude of the moves made. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

In this burgeoning industrial zone, there’s room for businesses from both sides of the new Cold War. And like many key emerging economies, Morocco wants to keep it that way, even if walking the line won’t be easy in a polarizing world. – Bloomberg

Egypt’s cabinet has approved a draft law to eliminate tax exemptions for state entities in a bid to attract private investment, a cabinet statement said on Wednesday, but the law appeared to retain at least some privileges enjoyed by the army. – Reuters

Iraq’s president on Wednesday approved a record $152 billion budget that the parliament voted on earlier this month and which adds about half a million public sector jobs. – Associated Press

Kazakhstan, the longtime host of Syria peace talks between Russia, Turkey and Iran, surprising proposed ending the process on Wednesday, though Russia said the meetings could continue in another location. – Reuters

Hadeel Oueis writes: To achieve this result, the US must exert significant diplomatic effort on a number of fronts, including the Turkish one, to safeguard northeast Syria against another Turkish incursion that could jeopardize US goals. And since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been elected and is no longer subject to political pressure, he may be better positioned to sit down with the Kurds and negotiate a reasonable arrangement. – Jerusalem Post


China has many sources of geopolitical leverage, from its military to its vast market. Potentially, the most potent and least appreciated is the choke-point position it has built in global supply chains. – Wall Street Journal

China lashed out at President Biden on Wednesday for describing President Xi Jinping as a dictator, a remark that injected fresh discord into the relationship between the two men at a time when the broader U.S.-China ties appeared on threshold of a thaw. – Wall Street Journal

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, ahead of his official trip to China at end of this month, said on Thursday he did not agree with U.S. President Joe Biden’s remark that Chinese leader Xi Jinping was a dictator. – Reuters

Russia said on Wednesday that U.S. President Joe Biden’s reference to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as a dictator showed U.S. foreign policy was inconsistent and erratic. – Reuters

China’s Premier Li Qiang and dozens of world leaders will meet in Paris on Thursday and Friday to discuss ways to help low-income countries manage their debt burdens and free up funding for climate financing. – Reuters

The Group of Seven countries affirmed their unity and stressed the need for close coordination in dealing with China, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with G7 representatives in London. – Reuters

The national security cutter Stratton made a “routine” Taiwan Strait transit on Tuesday “through waters where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law”, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said on Thursday. – Reuters

One of Hong Kong’s most reputable sources of public opinion data is limiting the scope of its surveys, including on sensitive topics such as Beijing’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. The change, following a contact from a government agency, is likely to restrict the availability of information about the opinions of Hong Kong residents. – Associated Press

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday announced plans to visit Lithuania next month to attend a NATO leaders’ summit as his country steps up cooperation with the Western organization amid China’s increasingly assertive military activity. – Associated Press

Editorial: This isn’t Mr. Biden’s first China bumble. He has multiple times said the U.S. military would come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of a Chinese invasion only to be disavowed by the White House staff. Maybe he needs a teleprompter all day, every day. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Slower Chinese GDP growth could be good for the world if Beijing pursues policy reforms that make its economy more entrepreneurial, more productive, more open to trade and investment. If Mr. Xi can’t or won’t do this, no amount of debt-fueled stimulus from Beijing will save the day. – Wall Street Journal

Simone Gao writes: If Mr. Xi decides one day to take Taiwan by force or cut ties entirely with the West, foreign capital could be trapped inside China. Corporate assets—and people—could be held hostage by the Chinese Communist Party. Western shareholders should waste no time asking their CEOs to prepare contingency plans. – Wall Street Journal

David Ignatius writes: Blinken warned that such a move would pose severe problems. And he’s said to have included a frank admonition: The Chinese say they don’t want a Cold War, but nothing invokes those dark days like the Cuban missile crisis. That’s how mature superpowers should talk with each other. The Blinken visit was another encouraging venture in communications. – Washington Post

Minxin Pei writes: China would be wise to keep its expectations for success low. Some concessions on those two fronts would be better than nothing. For its own reasons — in particular, fear of pushing Xi completely into Putin’s embrace — Europe is unlikely to radically toughen its China policy in the short-term. Over the long run, however, the price of Europe’s strategic neutrality will likely be higher than China thinks — and probably more than Xi is willing to pay. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: Yes, Blinken may have made some pledges to tinker around the edges of its China policy. The challenge is that the Biden administration’s security-related concerns with China aren’t going to simply disappear. And, as important, neither is Congress going to abandon legislative and other action that China despises. – Washington Examiner

Dean Chen writes: The Biden administration needs to be more clear-eyed about the extent and practicality of stabilizing relations with the PRC after years of adversarial postures from both sides. Whether the American public is willing to accept the president’s approach and whether Beijing is genuinely willing to reciprocate Washington’s overtures is not at all assured. – The National Interest

South Asia

India is expected to purchase state-of-the-art U.S. drones and jointly produce jet-fighter engines in a multibillion-dollar deal designed to wean New Delhi off arms purchases from Russia. – Wall Street Journal

For Modi, who arrived Tuesday in New York on a trip that will offer plenty of time to discuss global tensions, highlighting an ancient pursuit of inner tranquility was a savvy and symbolic choice. He has made yoga a personal practice and a diplomatic tool. – Associated Press

No one would mistake them for best of friends. But U.S. President Joe Biden, the son of blue-collar Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who rose from tea seller’s son to premier, have developed a relationship based on mutual respect of their scrappy backgrounds and a pragmatism about the shared challenges their two countries face. – Associated Press

The U.N. envoy for Afghanistan warned the country’s Taliban rulers Wednesday that international recognition as the country’s legitimate government will remain “nearly impossible” unless they lift severe restrictions on women and girls’ education and employment. – Associated Press

Editorial: As the new era of competition with China arrives, the U.S. needs more reliable friends. India is a crucial one, arguably the most important in the Indo-Pacific after Japan. Let’s hope the warm welcome to Mr. Modi is followed by warmer economic and security ties. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: But it is also critical to make clear that intolerance and repression run counter to everything that Americans admire in India, and threaten the partnership with the United States that its prime minister is actively seeking to strengthen and deepen. America wants and needs to embrace India; but Mr. Modi should be left with no illusion about how dangerous his autocratic leanings are, to the people of India and for the health of democracy in the world. – New York Times

Editorial: For his part, Modi would do well to reconsider whether support for Putin and an at times reflexive anti-Americanism really do serve India’s long-term interests. Western technology, investment and diplomatic support remain crucial to the country’s future; a weaker US would make the security challenges posed by China more difficult. If the US can set aside its doubts about a prickly and unpredictable partner, India should, too. – Bloomberg

Adam Taylor writes: New Delhi has refused to condemn Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine in large part because of its historical reliance on Russian military gear, which makes up about 85 percent of India’s arsenal, according to research from the U.S. Institute of Peace. And while India may have its own simmering border dispute with China, few experts think it will side comfortably with Washington and its allies against Beijing, especially if it came down to war over Taiwan. – Washington Post

Maya Jasanoff writes: Like the United States, India is an extraordinary, diverse, plural democracy with incredible talent and potential — and there is much, in principle, to unite these nations for the good. But as the president of one stumbling democracy joins hands with a prime minister bent on hobbling another, the project of global freedom seems one step closer to collapse. – New York Times

Pankaj Mishra writes: By vigorously flattering Modi, the Biden administration instead echoes former President Donald Trump’s weakness for strongmen. It also evokes US adversaries Russia and China, who are only too happy to strike lucrative deals with blatantly illiberal regimes while turning a blind eye to their violations of civil liberties and ordinary decency. – Bloomberg

Lynne O’Donnell writes: The Taliban do not have formal recognition from any country, yet there is an insidious and subtle form of engagement nonetheless that is entrenching the Taliban’s worst behaviors. Some countries, such as China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, maintain embassies in Kabul and accept Taliban figures in the former Republic of Afghanistan’s overseas embassies. – Foreign Policy

Akhil Ramesh writes: That is, of course, if they seek to advance the partnership at the track two level. If not, while U.S.-India track one, or government-to-government, relations flourish, track two (think tanks, academia and media), which often follow the developments of the government, may, in this case, stand apart. This would prove to be an impediment to realizing the full potential of, in the words of several Biden administration officials, “the most consequential relationship.” – The Hill

Raja Mohan writes: If the enormity of the China challenge to both countries has provided the structural impetus, strong political will in Washington and New Delhi is set to finalize a solid agenda. This ranges from defense and semiconductors to artificial intelligence and outer space. The new foreign-policy realism in Washington and New Delhi is thus very likely to produce some more surprises in the days ahead. – Foreign Policy

Howard W. French writes: India and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed countries, have not enjoyed true and stable peace between themselves since they were partitioned at independence from Britain in 1947. Washington is now reportedly pushing Saudi Arabia to formally normalize relations with Israel. But which great powers—the United States, Pakistan’s ally China, Russia, or the Europeans—are investing their diplomacy at a high level to help permanently settle the raw differences that divide these South Asian rivals over Kashmir and other issues? The fact that we can’t point to anyone lays bare the awful reality of great-power competition itself: It is seldom about the common good at all. – Foreign Policy


The storm of sanctions the U.S. and its allies unleashed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine has raised the question of whether the threat of similar economic pressure can help deter China from launching an invasion of Taiwan. The answer, according to a new study, is a potential “yes”—but with big caveats. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s central bank said on Wednesday it saw little possibility of the country encountering a banking crisis or any trouble similar to events in the U.S. and Europe earlier this year. – Reuters

The United States on Wednesday levelled sanctions against Myanmar’s Ministry of Defense and two banks used by the Southeast Asian country’s military to purchase arms and other goods in foreign currencies, according to the Treasury Department’s website. – Reuters

Indonesia has changed where it will host ASEAN’s first-ever joint military exercise to a location away from the South China Sea where several countries including China have overlapping territorial claims, its military said on Thursday. – Reuters

Southeast Asian neighbours of conflict-riven Myanmar must consider imposing measures to hold its military rulers accountable, a United Nations expert said on Wednesday, adding the bloc is “deadlocked” over how to resolve the ongoing crisis. – Reuters

Jeffrey W. Hornung writes: In a Taiwan conflict, by contrast, the United States might well be directly involved. That puts a premium on Japan ensuring that it has the ability to not just withstand the first volley, but months and possibly years of fighting. By drawing lessons from Ukraine, Japanese planners can better prepare for that risk. – War on the Rocks


The European Union agreed to set up a new sanctions regime that slaps export bans on third countries for helping Russia sidestep Western restrictions, one of several measures meant to tighten economic pressure on Moscow, diplomats said. – Wall Street Journal

New leads have emerged showing the Ukrainians suspected of attacking the Nord Stream pipelines used Poland as a logistical and financial hub, as the focus of the investigation tightens on the country’s role in the largest act of sabotage in Europe since World War II. – Wall Street Journal

Belarus, an ally of Russia in the war with Ukraine, said on Wednesday that its armed forces were beginning 10 days of annual “mobilisation exercises”. – Reuters

Germany on Wednesday confirmed the appointment of Alexander Graf Lambsdorff as its new ambassador to Russia, weeks after the two countries announced a downgrading of diplomatic ties as relations collapsed after the invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters

Rachel Hoff and Thomas Kenna write: It was in part from the U.S.-U.K. relationship that the global rules and norms came to be that provide the basis for the security and prosperity of the free world. And the “special relationship” is as important to success in the competition against China today as it was in overcoming our 20th century challenges. – The Hill

Henrik Larsen writes: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlights the need to prioritize defense-related tech. The EU and the US have an interest in working together to forge tech regulations that protect and promote transatlantic defense. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Anchal Vohra writes: The first daunting challenge is to reconcile differences among the 27 nations, each of which views the relationship through the prism of national interest. Those who carry out less trade with China, such as Sweden and Denmark, and those more dependent on the United States for security guarantees in the face of Russian aggression, such as the Eastern and Baltic European states, find it easier to limit ties with China rather than those such as Germany, whose economy is deeply intertwined with the Chinese—its biggest trading partner. – Foreign Policy


After armed men killed nine Chinese nationals at a gold mine in Central African Republic in March, a video circulated on the internet saying France had secretly ordered the attack and planned to discredit Russian mercenary group Wagner in the country. – Reuters

Cameroon’s government is seeking to block France’s LGBT+ rights ambassador from travelling to the country to hold a conference on gender and sexual identity, saying the discussion topics breach anti-homosexuality legislation. – Reuters

Seven people were killed in two separate incidents when vehicles ran over improvised explosives in north-east Kenya, with police saying in one of the cases that they suspected members of al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab were responsible. – Reuters

Armed factions in Somalia’s semi-autonomous state of Puntland agreed a ceasefire on Wednesday, a local leader said, a day after at least 26 people were killed and 30 injured in clashes over proposed changes to the region’s voting system. – Reuters

The Americas

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to advance a tax treaty with Chile, paving the way for final approval of a pact seen as crucial for ensuring access for U.S. companies to lithium, a mineral essential for electric vehicle batteries. – Reuters

Russia-aligned hackers could seek to disrupt Canada’s powerful oil and natural gas sector, especially since Ottawa is a strong backer of Ukraine, a Canadian spy agency said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Andrew Harding writes: The United States is a Pacific nation with vital interests and key allies across the region. Defending them requires America to be present across the vast distances of the Pacific Ocean. Congress has a once-every-two-decades opportunity to secure privileged access to three Pacific Island nations at a reasonable price tag, reaffirming America’s commitment to the region while denying China opportunities to expand its reach into the FAS. Congress must not let the opportunity to re-balance the Pacific regional order slip away. – The National Interest


In the digital cold war between the United States and China, American officials are increasingly turning their attention to a new target: Chinese cloud computing giants. – New York Times

Apple issued a security update on Wednesday for all its operating systems to patch dangerous vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to take over someone’s entire device. – CyberScoop

Microsoft has detected an increase in credential-stealing attacks conducted by the Russian state-affiliated hacker group often labeled as APT29, Cozy Bear or Nobelium. – The Record

The Chinese cyber-espionage group known as Nickel or APT15 used a previously unseen backdoor to attack ministries of foreign affairs in Central and South America, researchers reported Wednesday. – The Record

In a wide-ranging interview Wednesday, The State Department’s cyberspace ambassador cautioned about the dangers posed by artificial intelligence, China, and the vast vulnerabilities embedded in internet infrastructure while also hailing the importance of the agency’s newly created cyber bureau. – The Record

Russian officials and diplomats have been coordinating an unusually organized and large-scale disinformation campaign to discredit reports that the nation is responsible for the June 6 collapse of the Nova Kakhovka Dam, according to a new study. – The Record

TikTok has repeatedly allowed Americans’ private data to be stored and accessed in China, a letter released Wednesday by a bipartisan pair of senators alleges. – The Record

Josh Wallin, Bill Drexel, and Michael Depp write: I don’t think the challenge that the deputy secretary of defense lays down for China to join the United States in this effort will yield much, but that isn’t really the point of it. This document in effect talks about a coalition of the already-willing by highlighting the growth of partnerships with the United States on AI; being open to China joining is more about reassuring those partners than it is about China. – Center for a New American Security


Lockheed Martin’s decision to publicly back a new next-generation engine for the F-35 — breaking with the Pentagon’s move to upgrade the fighter’s current Pratt & Whitney-made engines — drew a forceful rebuke from Pratt. – Defense News

House Republicans on Wednesday adopted a measure to institutionalize the sea-launched cruise missile nuclear program, or SLCM-N. The Armed Services Committee voted along party lines to amend the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act with a provision that would create a program of record for SLCM-N. – Defense News

The air force chiefs representing the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) partner nations took a step toward establishing a synergistic concept of air warfare on June 21, signing a joint document outlining the path ahead as the trinational program moves forward to a new phase. – Defense News

Michael Rubin writes: Today, sailors and pilots pay the cost of the Navy’s virtue signaling and social engineering in morale, education, and readiness. The online training regimen is corrosive to the Navy, counterproductive, and ineffective. But the Pentagon’s civilian leaders appear not to care. – Washington Examiner

Lawrence J. Korb writes: By supporting the bipartisan deal, including the defense portion, the party of Ronald Reagan will not only provide the Pentagon with what it needs to protect our security, but also help the country deal with the immense budget deficits that will undermine our security if allowed to continue. – The National Interest