Fdd's overnight brief

June 23, 2022

In The News


Russian forces targeted at least two large North American-owned grain terminals in the Ukrainian port of Mykolaiv on Wednesday, as part of what Kyiv and Western governments say is a campaign to degrade Ukraine’s ability to export food. – Wall Street Journal 

In a time of crisis, the international image of the United States, NATO and Russia has shifted — with views on Russia plunging and views of the United States and NATO remaining positive, even increasing, a Pew study of 18 nations found. – Washington Post 

Russian President Vladimir Putin bragged this week that Moscow’s newest nuclear missile, dubbed “Satan-2” by NATO, could be ready for deployment by the end of the year. – New York Post 

A Russian helicopter crossed into territory belonging to NATO member Estonia for two minutes before departing on Saturday, reports say. – Washington Examiner 

A Ukrainian drone strike caused a fiery explosion at an oil refinery in southern Russia that has halted production at the plant, Russian state media reported Wednesday. – Bloomberg 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo will head to Kyiv and Moscow to push for peace and discuss the global food crisis partly caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has told The Associated Press that the West shouldn’t underestimate Russia’s military capabilities in Ukraine, saying Moscow is in it for the long haul as the war enters its fifth month. – Associated Press 

Russia is increasing gasoline and naphtha supplies to Africa and the Middle East as it struggles to sell fuel in Europe, while Asia is already taking bigger volumes of Russian crude, Refinitiv Eikon data showed and sources said. – Reuters 

Russia on Wednesday said the West was spreading lies about the causes of the global food crisis which Moscow said was being stoked by the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and European Union due to the invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

Leaders from the Group of Seven rich democracies and the NATO alliance will work to increase pressure on Russia over its war in Ukraine next week, while underscoring their continued concerns about China, senior U.S. officials said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Russian forces advancing towards the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk are putting increasing pressure on the surrounding region, including the twin city of Sievierodonetsk, Britain’s defence ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The Russian government appears to have fired top commanders for its invasion of Ukraine and replaced them with lower ranking officers, an unusual shake-up in the midst of an ongoing military operation that analysts say represents a “possible purge.” – U.S. News & World Report 

Casualties among Russian and pro-Russian forces are mounting at an unsustainable rate in Ukraine, British intelligence reports, raising more questions about the extent to which Moscow can maintain its current pace of operations amid limited progress on the battlefield. – U.S. News & World Report 

The US State Department said Wednesday that Russia and its proxies are blaming the West and Ukraine for the global food crisis in a “massive disinformation campaign” that primarily targets the Middle East and Africa, areas most impacted by the crisis. – Business Insider 

The Russian air force’s failure to gain control of the air over Ukraine and its struggles to operate effectively against Ukrainian air defenses are among the biggest surprises in the four-month war. – Business Insider 

In Ukraine’s occupied territories, workers at one of the country’s leading telecommunications providers destroyed equipment to avoid Russian control of internet and phone services. – Business Insider 

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday is expected to say that “Western weakness” pushed Russia to invade Ukraine, while warning of a looming threat from communist China, and calling for a “fundamental shift” in how the West approaches its adversaries. – FOX News 

The Russian-backed leader of a town in Ukraine’s occupied Kherson region was wounded in an apparent assassination attempt Wednesday as Ukrainians up the stakes in their fight against the new leadership. – The Daily Beast 

William Moloney writes: Now, faced with the reality of a looming world recession and a spiraling strategic crisis, the agenda for President Biden and our NATO allies has gone from expectations of military victory to hopes for political survival. The consequences of this momentous transformation will ripple far and wide for years to come. – The Hill 

Edward P. Joseph writes: Very soon, this Black Sea country, sandwiched strategically between Turkey, Romania, and Ukraine, could flip from being a vital supporter of Kyiv to open alignment with Mosvow. The current, pro-Western prime minister, Kiril Petkov, is hanging by a thread. A Radev ally, former Defense Minister Stefan Yanev, who parroted Putin’s description of Russia’s war in Ukraine as a “special military operation” before being summarily dismissed by Petkov, could return as caretaker prime minister – a disaster for the West as Putin tries to break trans-Atlantic solidarity. – Foreign Policy 

Gerard Di Pippo writes: Perhaps stronger—and more accurate—threats of sanctions could have deterred Russia before the invasion, but using sanctions to coerce Russia to end the war now seems unlikely to succeed unless Russia’s battlefield prospects seem bleak to Moscow. The existing sanctions, especially export controls, may contribute to favorable military outcome for Ukraine by weakening Russia’s ability to resupply its forces. But ultimately, this is a war, and the road to a settlement probably goes through the battlefield. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Alisa Shishkina writes: The problem of reducing the risks of potential radicalization of young people, therefore, remains, despite the obvious efforts and concerns of the Russian authorities. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


Chinese, Middle Eastern and Western banks have provided banking services to Iran’s sanctioned energy and industrial sectors, corporate documents show, as part of Tehran’s efforts to steer capital toward its embattled economy and defy U.S. pressure to restrict its nuclear program. – Wall Street Journal  

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Iran on Wednesday, Iranian state TV reported, as world powers and Tehran are struggling to revive their 2015 nuclear pact and negotiations are stalled. – Reuters 

Multiple unofficial reports from Iran indicate that head of IRGC intelligence unit has been fired for failure to stop Mossad operations in Iran. – Arutz Sheva 

The United Nations on Wednesday urged Iran to halt plans to amputate the fingers of eight prisoners and called on Tehran to do away with any form of corporal punishment. – Agence France-Presse 

Jordan and Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday that they support international efforts aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. – Jerusalem Post 

Gabriel Noronha writes: Democrats and Republicans are certain to differ on the particular elements, but they should agree that U.S. foreign policy would be best served by Congress establishing a comprehensive and bipartisan strategy on Iran, setting firm negotiating principles and requirements and rebuilding our sanctions architecture to force Iran back to the table. It’s time for Congress to act. – The Hill 

Salem Alketbi writes: Based on the regime’s bad track, it is expected to resort to creating crises or a new escalation, especially since it recognizes the West’s particular sensitivity to any new tensions in the Gulf region, given the current international circumstances and the potential rise in oil prices. – Jerusalem Post


The White House on Wednesday said that President Biden is working to respond to a devastating earthquake in eastern Afghanistan by assessing how U.S. humanitarian assistance can address immediate needs. – The Hill 

South Korea plans to provide $1 million in humanitarian assistance to victims of an earthquake in Afghanistan that killed 1,000 people, Seoul’s foreign ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The Japanese government plans to provide assistance to Afghanistan, a government spokesperson said on Thursday, after an earthquake there killed at least 1,000 people. – Reuters 


The international airport in Syria’s capital will resume flights after nearly two weeks following an Israeli airstrike that caused serious damage to the facility, state TV reported Wednesday. – Associated Press 

An explosion was heard in the Syrian city of Deraa, Syrian state media reported on Wednesday, saying it was caused by an explosive device. – Reuters 

The war in Ukraine has forced Russia to decrease its military presence in areas that may soon face a Turkish offensive, Syrian opposition officials told The Daily Beast this week. – The Daily Beast 


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Turkey on Wednesday for the first time since the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as he looks to end years of international isolation ahead of a trip by President Biden to the kingdom. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia and Turkey agreed to pursue talks on a potential safe sea corridor in the Black Sea to export grain from Ukraine after discussions in Moscow, the Russian and Turkish defence ministries said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

The United States is hopeful that there will soon be a positive resolution of the issues between Turkey, Finland and Sweden regarding the NATO accession bids of the two Nordic countries, the State Department’s top diplomat for Europe said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

All of a sudden one of the world’s “pariah” leaders, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, is welcome everywhere — including in Turkey, the scene of the crime that made him infamous. Can President Biden be far behind? – New York Sun 

Maximillian Hess writes: Atop the list of unsavory partners the West urgently needs better relations with today sits Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. That he is unsavory is clear: He has actively undermined Turkish democracy, undone decades of liberalization, weaponized migration, terrorized the Kurdish minority both at home and in neighboring Syria, and helped Iran violate U.S. sanctions. Most recently, he has threatened to block NATO membership for Sweden and Finland. It will take a long time before the West can genuinely trust him. However, the reality is that the West needs Erdogan more than ever. – Foreign Policy 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Optics matter. The images of the two leaders’ meeting are important for the region. Turkey’s pro-government media also praised the meeting. Anadolu reported that “Ankara and Riyadh decided to deepen consultation and cooperation on the regional issues to strengthen stability and peace.” – Jerusalem Post 


Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu could be on the path back to power at an inconvenient time for President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats. – Washington Examiner 

Israel moved closer on Wednesday to its fifth election in less than four years after lawmakers gave an initial nod to dissolve parliament, with a possible comeback by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu already dominating the campaign. – Reuters 

Israeli police arrested on Wednesday a Jewish suspect in connection with the deadly stabbing of a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported. – Reuters 

IDF, Shabak (Israel Security Agency), and Israel Police forces on Wednesday night conducted counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria… A total of nine individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist activities were apprehended overnight. – Arutz Sheva 

Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned Israel’s enemies against using the political chaos in the Knesset to attack Israel in the South during a visit on Wednesday to the IDF’s Gaza Division, based in the Negev. – Jerusalem Post 

The Knesset on Wednesday defeated two motions to apply sovereignty to West Bank settlements, brought forward by members of the opposition just hours after the parliament took its first initial vote to disperse. – Jerusalem Post 

Construction begins on new West Bank security barrier. Part of the security budget, the plan for the new barrier comes after a string of terror attacks earlier this year that claimed the lives of 21 people. – Jerusalem Post 

The Knesset’s impending dissolution and upcoming election are likely to delay Israel’s entry into the US Visa Waiver Program, which allows Israelis to visit the US without a visa. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel to let in 2,000 more Gaza workers after freezing move after rocket attack. Military liaison to Palestinians says additional laborers from Strip will be allowed in starting Sunday, but expansion of permit quota contingent on ‘security calm.’ – Times of Israel 

Fourteen Palestinian security force members on trial over the killing of prominent activist Nizar Banat, whose death sparked rare protests against the Palestinian Authority, have been released on bail, multiple sources said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse 

Editorial: Refraining from influencing Israel’s internal politics as the country prepares to go to its fifth election in three years should be a major objective of the Biden visit. If that goal is met, and the emphasis remains on the vast and vital non-partisan ties that Israel and the US share, then the trip will be a success. It’s always good to welcome a friend, especially one who cares about Israel as much as Biden. – Jerusalem Post 

Eric R. Mandel writes: The U.S.-Israel relationship will survive this political melodrama; the two democracies have navigated through similar challenges before and continued to coordinate their joint security approach to the region. But the situation is not ideal, by far — especially if an interim Israeli prime minister must make a significant decision that affects American national security interests in the coming months. – The Hill 

Gershon Baskin writes: Election after election, the Palestinian elephant is still in the room. Voters once again will not be presented with any proposal on the future of the relations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people. – Jerusalem Post 

David Hacham writes: The Hamas terror organization is preparing to exploit what it believes to be an impending security vacuum in the West Bank. Its goal is to undermine the stability of its rival, the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority (PA). – Algemeiner


Lebanon’s Bank Audi and Al-Mawarid Bank said on Wednesday they disagreed with a letter sent on behalf of the country’s banking association that branded a staff-level agreement (SLA) with the International Monetary Fund “unlawful”. – Reuters 

A team from U.S.-based auditor Alvarez and Marsal (A&M) will arrive in Lebanon on June 27 and begin a long-delayed forensic audit of the country’s central bank, two Lebanese official sources told Reuters. – Reuters 

Lebanon’s caretaker premier Najib Mikati will likely be nominated for a new term on Thursday, political sources said, keeping him at the helm as the country prepares for steep financial and political challenges in the months ahead. – Reuters 

Gulf States

A Katyusha rocket landed inside the Khor Mor gas field in Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq on Wednesday but caused no damage, the city’s counter-terrorism service said. – Reuters 

Kuwait’s crown prince on Wednesday dissolved Parliament and called for early elections, a move to ease government gridlock that has bred popular opposition and paralyzed the tiny country for months. – Associated Press 

Dennis Ross writes: The Saudis should know what will trigger public responses from us. We should establish boundaries in the relationship and a “no surprises” understanding with them. Today’s international challenges give us a stake in Saudi Arabia — a stake that involves both our interests and our values. – The Hill 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Currently, the Kurdish region is involved in a constitutional dispute with Baghdad over revenue and energy issues and Baghdad has not been able to form a government. A new round of pro-Iran militia attacks may be on the horizon. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

A sudden shootout between factions in the Libyan capital this month provided a vivid demonstration of how a political stalemate could trigger fighting between rival groups and end two years of comparative peace. – Reuters 

Libya’s parliament-appointed Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha said on Wednesday his government supported removing all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, guided by a committee set up to safeguard a ceasefire after the 2014-2020 conflict. – Reuters 

Barbara Leaf, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, hinted on Wednesday that there may be developments related to expanding the Abraham Accords during President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to the Middle East. – Jewish Insider 

Syria and Egypt signed a gas supply agreement this week that is supposed to help Lebanon and will also benefit Damascus. – Jerusalem Post 

While most attention in the US has been focused on the economic downturn and soaring inflation, a key foreign policy move by the Biden administration stole the headlines of many outlets in recent weeks, and it was not the Ukraine war. […]But with midterm elections in the US projected to see a Republican takeover of at least one of the two chambers on Capitol Hill, Biden has been forced to recalibrate his foreign policy. – Al Arabiya News 

Korean Peninsula

Families whose relatives have been abducted or imprisoned by North Korea are seeking to hold the country financially accountable despite the long odds of collecting money from the isolated nation. – New York Times 

North Korea discussed assigning additional duties to its frontline army units at a key military meeting, state media said Thursday, a suggestion the country may want to deploy battlefield nuclear weapons targeting South Korea along the rivals’ tense border. – Associated Press 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continued to preside over the second day of the nation’s major party meeting on its military and defence policies on Wednesday, the state media reported on Thursday, amid concerns over a potential imminent nuclear test. – Reuters 

South Korea plans to set up a delegation to NATO in Brussels, the national security adviser said on Wednesday, as Seoul pushes to strengthen its partnership with the organisation and play a bigger role on the global stage. – Reuters 


Under pressure from Beijing, Hong Kong’s schools become more patriotic… New textbooks have been written saying that Hong Kong was “occupied” but never a British “colony.” – Washington Post 

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday is hosting a virtual summit with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa collectively known as the “BRICS,” amid rising concerns over the global economic outlook and a growing political divide between Beijing and New Delhi. – Associated Press 

NATO leaders will discuss “the rise of China” during a summit in Madrid, Spain, next week, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. – Washington Examiner 

US tariffs on more than $300 billion in annual imports from China provide significant leverage and are useful from a negotiating standpoint, President Joe Biden’s trade chief said amid a debate within his administration on whether to keep the duties in place. – Bloomberg 

China and India should resolve their border issues through dialogue and consultation as the two countries’ common interests outweigh their differences, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

China’s navy has 355 vessels, outnumbering the US Navy’s 297 vessels. China State Shipbuilding Corp. began building its biggest vessel — the Type 055 — in 2014. The Type 055 destroyers have been in service since 2020. – Business Insider 

Editorial: It’s not our intention to oversimplify the high-stakes geopolitical dynamics at play when diplomacy veers toward military confrontation. Yet at a time when China is launching a new aircraft carrier and expanding its military footprint globally and when America is shrinking the size of its navy, it hardly seems unreasonable to wonder who — between Messrs. Xi and Biden — holds the better hand. – New York Sun 

Wendy Cutler writes: But with the announced package of outcomes, last week proved to be a relatively good one for the multilateral trading system, and for U.S.-China trade relations in particular. Hopefully, it will beget more progress, even if limited, in the weeks and months ahead. – The Hill 

Michael Hirsh writes: If any common thread ties together two U.S. presidents as opposed to each other as Donald Trump and his successor, Joe Biden, it is their warnings about the strategic threat from China. Both leaders have sought ways to partially “decouple” the world’s two largest economies and reduce U.S. dependence on China. Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, has tried to shun U.S. business with his “Made in China” policy, embracing “independence and self-reliance” as the Communist Party credo. – Foreign Policy 

South Asia

Sri Lanka’s prime minister said its indebted economy faced complete collapse, as he laid the groundwork for what are expected to be tough austerity measures as part of negotiations over its budget and an International Monetary Fund bailout. – Wall Street Journal 

Bangladesh is trying to secure wheat supplies from Russia in a government-to-government deal after it’s biggest supplier India banned exports of the grain last month to contain local prices, government and trade officials told Reuters on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Sri Lanka will call China, India and Japan to a donor conference to drum up more foreign assistance and present an interim budget in August, the prime minister said on Wednesday, amid ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). – Reuters 

Key progress has been made in talks on the revival of Pakistan’s International Monetary Fund bailout programme, both sides said on Wednesday, with Islamabad expecting the lender to increase the size and duration of the 39-month, $6 billion facility. – Reuters 


Myanmar’s military-appointed defence minister joined a meeting of his Southeast Asian counterparts on Wednesday, despite pressure from some countries in the regional bloc and pro-democracy groups to exclude the junta from such gatherings. – Reuters 

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates discussed China’s chokehold on Taiwan amid rising tensions between the two on the most recent episode of the “One Decision” podcast. – The Hill 

Jeff M. Smith writes: On the other hand, many countries that don’t formally recognize Taiwan are finding new ways to enhance diplomatic and economic linkages with Taipei, and India may be the most important among them. – Heritage Foundation 


Divisions over military aid for Ukraine have triggered a split in Italy’s biggest parliamentary party, reflecting ambivalence in the Southern European country about how deeply to get involved in Kyiv’s resistance to Russian forces. – Wall Street Journal 

European leaders meeting Thursday are expected to back E.U. candidate status for Ukraine, a move that would mark a historic moment for the bloc and a major morale boost for Kyiv amid war with Russia. – Washington Post 

A Ukrainian official overseeing the country’s push to join the European Union said Wednesday that she’s “100%” certain all 27 EU nations will approve Ukraine’s EU candidacy during a summit this week. – Associated Press 

Ukraine needs massive financial help to rebuild after the devastation wrought by Russia’s invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday, saying the reconstruction would be a “task for generations”. – Agence France-Presse 

Russia’s obstruction of longstanding conservation efforts, resulting in a unilateral rejection of catch limits for the Chilean sea bass in a protected region near Antarctica, has triggered a fish fight at the bottom of the world, one dividing longtime allies, the U.S. and U.K. governments. – Associated Press 

Lawmakers in Bulgaria on Wednesday approved a no-confidence motion against the country’s minority coalition government that could topple the centrist prime minister and further stall efforts by Balkan countries to join the European Union. – Associated Press 

President Joe Biden will travel to Germany and Spain in the coming days to attend G-7 and NATO summits. Senior administration officials briefed reporters Wednesday ahead of Biden’s trip and noted that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address both bodies while the president visits. Officials say Ukraine will remain at the forefront of discussions at both summits. – Washington Examiner 

Germany would support having an international debate about imposing price caps on Russian oil imports, according to Joerg Kukies, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s top economic aide. – Bloomberg 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will praise the benefits of free trade between Commonwealth countries on a visit to Rwanda on Thursday as he proposes a new system for boosting commerce as an alternative to that run by the European Union. – Reuters 

The European Union will temporarily shift back to coal to cope with dwindling Russian gas flows without derailing longer term climate goals, an EU official said on Wednesday as a tight gas market and soaring prices set off a race for alternative fuels. – Reuters 

Lithuania will be prepared if Russia disconnects it from the regional power grid in retaliation for blocking rail shipments of some Russian goods to Moscow’s Kaliningrad exclave, but no military confrontation is expected, its president told Reuters. – Reuters 

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck will make a statement Thursday on “energy and supply security” amid expectations the government is poised to trigger the second stage of the country’s gas-emergency plan. – Bloomberg 

Almost all Poles say they see Russia as a major threat, according to a report released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. Some 97 percent of Poles also say they have little or no confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin “to do the right thing regarding world affairs.” The Russian invasion of Ukraine, now reaching its four-month mark, has accelerated a dramatic shift in attitudes in Poland—specifically toward NATO, the European Union, and the issue of immigration. – Foreign Policy 

The U.S. Army has agreed to provide one of its two robotic dogs to help an American nonprofit clean up mines and other ordnance in Ukraine, according to a person familiar with the decision, as the war-torn nation faces a World War II-level cleanup from unexploded Russian munitions. – Foreign Policy 

Europe must step up its investment in renewable energy in Africa to soften the global energy crunch since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European Investment Bank vice president Ambroise Fayolle said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Editorial: Owing to Russia’s aggression, Ukrainian refugees will be the world’s responsibility, especially Europe’s, for the foreseeable future. More than 5.1 million have flooded into Europe; over 3.2 million of those have applied for temporary residence there. The United States, as the largest Western country and leader of the NATO military alliance, must continue to bear a portion of the burden. – Washington Post 

William Nattrass writes: As dark economic clouds gather, a region that quickly became a bastion of pro-Ukrainian unity now threatens to transform into a cauldron of political strife. If pro-Western, pro-Ukrainian governments can’t weather the coming storm, geopolitical allegiances in Eastern Europe could soon start to swing. – Wall Street Journal 

Josh Rogin writes: As the Biden administration scrambles to find ways to bring down soaring gas prices, several old ideas are gaining new life in public debate and inside the White House. The latest is a proposal to ban or restrict U.S. oil exports, which wouldn’t fix the problem and would very likely hurt our European allies while handing a financial windfall to Russian President Vladimir Putin. – Washington Post 

Henry Foy writes: In reality, a combination of Russian strategic mistakes and successful Ukrainian counter-attacks stalled that initial assault. The Baltics worry that if Putin has learned from that failure, the Nato cavalry would arrive too late to prevent the fall of their capitals. – Financial Times 

Conrad Myrland writes: So, let’s put the right label on Norway’s new policy: This is a double standard directed only at Jews living in places the government in Oslo does not like to see them live and thrive. – Jerusalem Post 

Nicolas Tenzer writes: The French President, after a few unwelcome remarks about the need not to humiliate Russia, the brotherhood of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, or the prospect of negotiations with the Russian regime, has, following his trip to Kyiv, shown a harder and more consistent line. The French Parliament should follow suit. It is highly doubtful that it will take the risk of putting France at odds with its allies. Any political gain, except with extreme elements of the electorate, would be nil. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Borja Lasheras writes: It is now clearer than ever that a camouflage-clad former Ukrainian comedian and innumerable anonymous Ukrainians, alive and dead, have earned a right through struggles far from the meeting rooms of the EU’s Brussels headquarters, to speak for Europe. The Commission at least has shown it hears their voice, and, in so doing, speaks for Europe too. Other national capitals should bear this in mind if they are to truly lead Europeans in another darkest hour. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Przemyslaw Osiewicz writes: To date, the new government’s policy toward the MENA region does not markedly differ from that of former Chancellor Merkel. Nevertheless, things may change going forward, especially as the Scholz government navigates the challenges presented by a particularly fluid and unpredictable state of international affairs. The long-term consequences for the MENA region of major geopolitical events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine remain uncertain. Yet the need to strengthen existing alliances or increase fossil fuel imports from the region may force the government to modify its policies in the coming months. – Middle East Institute 

The Americas

Congress is poised to force the Pentagon to study how it assesses allies’ will to fight, amid criticism from lawmakers that the U.S. government has regularly failed to make such assessments accurately. – New York Times 

A US federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled in favor of upholding an Arkansas law that forbids state agencies from contracting with companies that boycott Israel, on the grounds that it does not constitute an infringement of free speech. – Algemeiner  

Colombian President-elect Gustavo Petro spoke to Venezuela’s government about reopening the border between the countries, likely heralding the end of a long diplomatic impasse and the reactivation of trade. – Bloomberg 

The United States is open to fresh negotiations with Canada to resolve a longstanding dispute over U.S. tariffs on softwood lumber but a core sticking point remains, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Latin America’s new “pink tide” is gaining pace after Colombia elected its first leftist leader Gustavo Petro, with Brazil expected to follow suit in elections in October, an echo of a regional political shift in the early 2000s. – Reuters 

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that it hopes the Venezuelan government and the country’s opposition will resume political talks soon, following an eight-month hiatus. – Reuters 

James Sweet writes: Petro’s victory in Colombia is just the latest chapter in a wave of setbacks for the U.S. in Latin America. Mexico’s President Obrador boycotted Biden’s Summit of the Americas, while the administration downplayed our southern neighbor’s absence. The administration provided minor sanctions relief to Venezuela in order to incentivize negotiations with Guaido’s opposition. Maduro made the deal but played Biden like a fiddle by demanding Russia’s presence at the talks. The pink tide is a major threat, and Biden is failing to meet the challenge. – Washington Examiner 

Clara Ferreira Marques writes: Petro has momentum and, potentially, international support in a suddenly more left-leaning region. He could revitalize an economy in need of diversification and fiscal reform. But success is distant, and opposition strong — though his adversaries may want to consider that this is far less a victory of the left than a defeat of an establishment that brought national growth, but no progress. That anger isn’t about to go away. – Bloomberg 


A new examination of how Russia used its cybercapabilities in the first months of the war in Ukraine contains a number of surprises: Moscow conducted more cyberattacks than was realized at the time to bolster its invasion, but more than two-thirds of them failed, echoing its poor performance on the physical battlefield. – New York Times 

Japanese automotive hose maker Nichirin Co. (5184.T) on Wednesday said that a U.S. subsidiary had been hit by a ransomware attack forcing it shut down its computerised production controls. – Reuters 

Tech leaders testifying on Wednesday before a House subcommittee on cyber told lawmakers that more coordination is needed between the public and the private sector to identify security threats, including cyber, that stem from emerging technologies like quantum computing and artificial intelligence. – The Hill 

Cyber warfare and electronic warfare are both playing important roles in Ukraine. Electronic warfare is especially important on modern battlefields, and it has been the most visible in Ukraine. – Business Insider 

Coinciding with unrelenting cyberattacks against Ukraine, state-backed Russian hackers have engaged in “strategic espionage” against governments, think tanks, businesses and aid groups in 42 countries supporting Kyiv, Microsoft said in a report Wednesday. – Associated Press 

A panel advising the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on everything from combatting disinformation to reducing critical infrastructure risks approved its inaugural set of recommendations for the Department of Homeland Security cyber agency on Wednesday. – CyberScoop 

The European Union and NATO are not fully grappling with the potential consequences of Ukraine’s IT Army, a volunteer group that executes cyberattacks on Russian targets, a Center for Security Studies researcher argued Wednesday. – CyberScoop 

James Andrew Lewis writes: But gatekeeper is a surprisingly apt description. since without gatekeepers, the gates will be wide open for anyone to pass through. The easiest modifications to the legislation are to allow app store owners to continue to review code before making it available for sale (charging an “at-cost” fee for the service) and to continue to block sideloading, a practice that cannot be made safe. Big tech needs to be regulated—there is no argument there—but not at the cost of making cybersecurity even worse than it currently is. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday voted to approve approximately $37 billion more in military spending than President Biden proposed. – The Hill 

For the U.S. Navy, the effects of climate change may mean significant changes in warfare and operational tactics. – The Hill 

Viasat, a California-based communications company, will experiment with 5G to support U.S. Marine Corps operations and broader command-and-control applications after securing a research award from the Department of Defense. – Defense News 

Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) is set to start building the first Constellation-class guided-missile frigate (FFG 62) close to the scheduled construction-start time, programme sources confirmed. – Janes 

The admiral who oversees U.S. attack submarine construction has been appointed to lead the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) partnership that promises to develop a nuclear-powered attack boat for the Royal Australian Navy, the Department of the Navy announced Friday. – USNI News