Fdd's overnight brief

June 24, 2022

In The News


Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday was welcomed at a virtual summit with the presidents of China, India, Brazil and South Africa in a stark reminder of the limits of U.S.-led efforts to ostracize Moscow. – Wall Street Journal 

It was another example of mixed messaging by the Kremlin, which started before the war with inscrutable positions on whether diplomacy could avert a conflict and continued after the invasion with ambiguous stances on a potential peace deal. But one thing seems clear: The attainment of candidate status by Ukraine marks a milestone in Mr. Putin’s charged and vexing relationship with the E.U. — and the desire of growing numbers of Ukrainians to join it. – New York Times  

Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian attack on the southern outskirts of Lysychansk, the last fully Ukrainian-controlled city in the region of Luhansk, the area’s governor said on Friday. Serhiy Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app that Russia had, however, taken control of the village of Mykolaivka, located near a key highway to Lysychansk, which has been the focus of heavy fighting. – Reuters 

An Ilyushin Il-76 military cargo plane crashed and caught fire while landing near Russia’s western city of Ryazan on Friday, killing four of the nine people on board, the RIA news agency reported, citing local authorities. – Reuters 

Ukraine, in a symbolic move, on Thursday said it had formally filed a case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights to end “the mass and gross human rights violations” by Moscow’s forces during the war in Ukraine. – Reuters 

Russia is using retired soldiers-turned-mercenaries to conduct air support missions in Ukraine, indicating that it is struggling to provide adequate aircrew for its ongoing invasion, the latest UK defense intelligence update revealed Friday morning. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: The wisdom of this proposal is that it targets what matters most — which is not the flow of crude oil out of Russia but the flow of hard currency in the opposite direction. Persuading the G-7 to support it is one of the best ways Mr. Biden can help Ukraine now. – Washington Post 

Leonid Bershidsky writes: The full or partial curtailing of more than 1,000 foreign companies’ operations in Russia since Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 22  has provided perhaps the most spectacular evidence of the damage the imperialist adventure has inflicted on Russia. There is, however, another side to it: It’s a potential bonanza for Russians willing to take over the assets orphaned by the Western stampede for the exits. – Bloomberg 

Martin Herem writes: Finally, we must demonstrate our military readiness, not through rhetoric, but through actions, with a clear explanation of what we are doing and why. Real defence capabilities would speak to the Kremlin far louder than our words have done. – Financial Times 

Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, Mason Clark, and Grace Mappes write: Belarusian forces are conducting mobilization exercises along the Ukrainian border but are unlikely to enter the war in Ukraine due to their low capabilities and the adverse domestic implications of military involvement on behalf of Russia. Russian forces have likely reached the southern outskirts of Lysychansk and are reinforcing their grouping around Severodonetsk to complete the capture of both Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. These gains remain unlikely to provide Russian forces with a decisive edge in further operations in Ukraine and have further degraded Russian capabilities. – Institute for the Study of War 

Giselle Donnelly writes: Conversely, the failure to seize the moment will have terrible consequences beyond even the problems of energy supply and famine—and the likely surge of migrants—for Europe and much of the Middle East and Africa. Depriving the Ukrainians of the chance to end their nightmare sooner rather than later, of saving the lives and the vision of the free and liberal state for which they are dying will say much about the character of American leadership in the 21st century; our allies and adversaries all are watching closely. – American Enterprise Institute 

Andras Toth-Czifra writes: Important and welcome symbolic gestures, such as last week’s visit of the French and Romanian president, the German chancellor, and the Italian prime minister to Kyiv and the tentative steps to help Ukrainian exports, will have to be followed up by indications of resolve. This means granting Ukraine and Moldova the status of EU candidates this week, and confirming that Lithuania is simply implementing sanctions decided by the EU. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Daniel Kochis and Thomas Spoehr writes: Russia’s second invasion of Ukraine has exposed the naivete of those on both sides of the Atlantic who believed that Putin’s Russia would be a benign neighbor as long as the West provides the proper assurances and appeasement offerings. Furthermore, this second invasion has once again underscored the importance of military capabilities in an era of great-power competition, as well as the continued necessity for a strong NATO to safeguard the security of the member states. – Heritage Foundation 

Alexis Mrachek and Peter Brookes writes:  Russia’s military capabilities, nuclear superpower status, and concerns about the state of mind of the Russian leadership make this all the more difficult for the United States and NATO. The Western response to Russian aggression so far has, unfortunately, been mixed and must improve significantly in the quantity, quality, and delivery of its diplomatic, economic, military, and intelligence support if Ukraine is to repel the Russian invaders, regaining its territorial integrity and sovereignty, returning stability to the region, and reestablishing deterrence against Russia. – Heritage Foundation 

David Gioe writes: Today, identifying any clear challengers to Putin’s power is difficult. Opposition leaders such as Boris Nemtsov have been murdered or, like Alexey Navalny, poisoned and jailed. Even if a focal point of resistance has not yet emerged, however, Putin’s disastrous war in Ukraine may be the spark for unknown actors in Russia—or in exile—to organize. He should recall that in Russia, after disastrous foreign wars, domestic discontent is never far behind. – The Atlantic 

Amin E. Aghjeh writes: As Ukraine enjoys steadfast support from the West, it is unlikely that a prolonged war will paralyze the country as Russia hopes. By continuing the war, Russia runs the risk of entirely alienating the Ukrainian people, which could lead to generations of Ukrainians abandoning the Russian language. Avoiding this is incredibly important for Russia, and it is preventable if the Kremlin negotiates a buffer status for Ukraine. – The National Interest 

Mark Episkopos writes: Konashenkov said Russian forces are close to consolidating their control over the strategically crucial stronghold of Severodonetsk as Ukrainian forces there continue to resist from inside the besieged Azot chemical plant in the city’s industrial zone. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said last week that the war could drag on for “years,” adding that the alliance “must not let up in supporting Ukraine” with continued military aid packages. – The National Interest 

Amy Mackinnon writes: Speculation about Putin’s health has electrified tabloids in the West, as the Russian president continues to keep his distance from crowds and even his own senior officials two years into the pandemic. These rumors have not gone unnoticed in Moscow either. Although Putin’s health is a closely guarded secret, it has underscored the political and physical mortality of Medvedev’s long-standing patron. – Foreign Policy 


Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps named a new intelligence chief on Thursday, after a string of suspicious deaths of military officers and scientists raised tensions between Tehran and its regional adversaries. – Wall Street Journal 

A court in Iran on Thursday ordered the United States government to pay over $4 billion to the families of Iranian nuclear scientists who have been killed in targeted attacks in recent years, state-run media reported. – Associated Press 

Former US vice president Mike Pence on Thursday denounced the Iranian regime for “brutality” and urged the Biden administration not to renew a nuclear deal with Tehran, saying it would embolden Iran’s leadership. – Associated Press 

Sweden’s foreign ministry has advised its citizens against traveling to Iran ahead of the conclusion of a trial that has soured relations between the two countries. – Reuters 

Iran said on Thursday that it remains “serious” about reaching a revived nuclear deal with major powers that ends economic sanctions and to which the United States is again a party, AFP reported. Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov as talks between the parties in Vienna remain stalled. – Arutz Sheva 

Herman Shelanski, Ari Cicurel and Andrew Ghalili write: The U.S. Fifth Fleet should also continue to conduct patrols in the Arabian Gulf and freedom of navigation operations alongside regional partners to ensure safe passage through international waterways. The expansion of initiatives with unmanned systems, like the Fifth Fleet’s Task Force 59, would enable the United States to surveil and protect a broader range of the maritime domain. Iran’s latest actions demand a new U.S. approach. – The National Interest 

Kourosh Ziabari writes: According to a Harvard scientist, an executive control network is embedded in our brain and tasked with higher-level functioning, including critical thinking. Fear instilled through propaganda is one of the ways analytical functioning is hampered. A case in point is how the psychological well-being of the Iranian people, targeted by relentless campaigns of persuasion and manipulation from every corner, typically bereft of any semblance of honest, professional journalism, is at stake. – The National Interest 


The Taliban government on Thursday issued fresh appeals for international aid and called on the Biden administration to release Afghan assets held in U.S. banks. Despite seizing Kabul and sweeping to power in August, the Taliban has been unable to access billions of dollars in funds because of U.S. sanctions. – Washington Post 

India said it sent a technical team to Kabul to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian assistance after a powerful earthquake in eastern Afghanistan that state media reported killed 1,000 people. India’s External Affairs Ministry said the team has been deployed to its embassy in the Afghan capital. The embassy has been vacant since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August. – Associated Press 

The congressionally mandated watchdog for U.S. assistance to Afghanistan is accusing the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development of illegally withholding information from it about the American withdrawal from the country last year and current policy. – Associated Press 

The Taliban-led government in Afghanistan says search and rescue operations have been completed in almost all the quake-hit areas of Paktika Province and the focus is now turning to relief efforts. […] Mohammad Nassim Haqqani, a spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry for Disaster Management, told RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi on June 23 that it was difficult to get accurate information about the damage because of the poor condition of the telephone network in some areas. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 


Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that Ankara was investigating claims that Ukrainian grain has been stolen by Russia and shipped to countries including Turkey, but added the probes had not found any stolen shipments so far. – Reuters 

Turkey has detained several people allegedly working for an Iranian intelligence cell that planned to assassinate or snatch Israeli tourists in Istanbul, local media reported Thursday. The news of the bust came weeks after Israel ordered its citizens in Istanbul to leave immediately, warning of an imminent Iranian attack plot targeting Israelis in Turkey. – Times of Israel 

Turkey and Israel have begun work restoring their mutual diplomatic representation to ambassador level, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday as the two countries seek an end to more than a decade of strained ties. – YNet 

Soner Cagaptay, Spencer Cook, and Amal Soukkarieh write: This is the case even though Turkish foreign policy in Ukraine, and elsewhere, faces constraints caused by the country’s economic troubles—a situation that could have ripple effects in Africa. Nevertheless, the Turkish presence in Africa is worth watching for U.S. officials, especially given the question of China competition. Recent opportunities for cooperation with a less isolated Turkey, as in Ukraine, could bear fruit for the bilateral relationship and should ultimately benefit African governments and their people. – Washington Institute 


Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Thursday that Turkish intelligence had saved Israeli lives by helping foil an Iranian plot in Istanbul, as his counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu vowed that Ankara would not permit terror attacks against Israelis on the country’s soil. – Algemeiner 

A strategic-operational meeting between the IDF and a delegation of senior officials from U.S. Central Command occurred on Thursday. The meeting centered on a joint table top exercise, during which a dialogue was held regarding shared regional security challenges and joint preparations for scenarios of regional escalation. – Arutz Sheva 

EU Ambassador to Israel, Dimiter Tzanchev, says Israel is well positioned to replace Russia as a supplier of natural gas to Europe. […] The Abraham accords, that came at an opportune time for the EU, we were looking for alternative sources of energy and we believe everyone can win from such cooperation. the EU, Egypt and Israel. – YNet 

Just under half of the US Senate’s Democratic caucus on Thursday called for the Biden administration’s “direct involvement” in the investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the northern West Bank last month. – Times of Israel 

Amos Harel writes: Both the publicity and the joint aerial training are intended also to project a regional force, which will be taken note of in Tehran and also in friendly Arab states. An Israeli attack on nuclear sites is in any case not currently on the agenda. But in the eyes of the Israelis and of the Americans, importance lies in an in-depth strategic dialogue, encompassing the coordination of expectations and the drawing up of protocols for joint work. – Haaretz 


Iraq’s Parliament swore in new lawmakers on Thursday, replacing 73 legislators who resigned collectively earlier this month amid a prolonged political impasse over the formation of the country’s next government.[…] It puts al-Sadr out of parliament for the first time since 2005, and allows pro-Iranian factions to determine the makeup of the next government. – Associated Press 

Mark Regev writes: The carnage in Aleppo was only a further manifestation of a dark streak in the history of the Arab national movement: an ethno-religious chauvinism that not only opposed the Jewish state but even rejects to the continued presence of Jewish minority communities within larger Arab-Muslim society. Unlike the much-publicized Palestinian story of dispossession, the parallel experience of Jewish communities across the Middle East enjoys little traction in international discourse; an anomaly that demands amends by bestowing deserved recognition upon all Jews forced to flee an increasingly intolerant and inhospitable Arab world. – Jerusalem Post 

Mohanad Faris writes: However, the Coordination Framework has a complex past that will make it difficult to gain popular and political support for its ambitions to form a government. The current stalemate is leading Iraq towards the complete collapse of its political institutions, which would put the country in a very precarious spot from which it would be difficult to extricate itself. This could prompt the international community to directly intervene to resolve the crisis if domestic political actors fail to find a solution. – Washington Institute 


Lebanon’s Najib Mikati was named prime minister on Thursday, urging fractious politicians to set aside differences to secure an IMF deal which he said was the only chance to save the country from financial collapse. – Reuters 

Lebanon and Sri Lanka may be a world apart, but they share a history of political turmoil and violence that led to the collapse of once-prosperous economies bedeviled by corruption, patronage, nepotism and incompetence. The toxic combinations led to disaster for both: Currency collapse, shortages, triple-digit inflation and growing hunger. Snaking queues for gas. A decimated middle class. An exodus of professionals who might have helped rebuild. – Associated Press 

Will Todman writes: The agreement is a win for the Assad government. The deal represents the first major move toward Syria’s economic integration with the region since Arab Spring protests shook Syria in March 2011, halting previous integration efforts. Although Syria will not receive direct payment, it will receive a portion of the gas, which will help the country tackle its own energy problems. Damascus will also gain the ability to shut off Lebanon’s gas supply, enhancing leverage over Beirut. Syria’s inclusion in the deal also confers legitimacy on Bashar al-Assad and represents a step towards Syria’s international rehabilitation. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Saudi Arabia

Deborah Lipstadt’s first overseas tour as the Biden administration’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism will start in Saudi Arabia, her office said Thursday, signaling the kingdom’s willingness to change its image in the West and among Jews. – Times of Israel  

Abdullah Alaoudh writes: The president still has time yet to reconsider and stay true to his word. I don’t expect Biden to give life or liberty, as my father has, to defend democratic ideals in Saudi Arabia. But, at the very least, the president could stand with the defenders. Otherwise, he will make MBS’s victims the true pariahs. – Washington Post 

Jon B. Alterman writes: Reengaging with Saudi Arabia does not wipe away the country’s mistakes, and it doesn’t prevent the country from making new ones. Those mistakes will rightly put a drag on how much people are willing to engage with the kingdom for some time to come. But refusing to reengage on principle neither accelerates reforms nor improves conditions for Saudis or their neighbors. President Biden’s upcoming visit is appropriate not because it marks an end in bilateral tensions, but because it marks a determination to work together to reduce them. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Trevor Filseth writes: MBS’ visit to Turkey engendered criticism from human rights organizations, which criticized Erdogan for pivoting on criticism of Riyadh in exchange for economic benefits. Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish citizen and Khashoggi’s fiancee at the time of his death, wrote that MBS’s visit to Turkey “doesn’t change the fact that he is responsible for a murder.” – The National Interest 

Middle East & North Africa

After years of conflict, tourists are returning to a changed Syria. This summer, locals and tour operators are reporting an uptick in visitors from Western countries. Authorities restarted issuing visas in October to let curious foreigners see for themselves the country whose conflict once dominated television screens and flooded Europe with refugees. – Washington Post 

Tunisian police on Thursday arrested former Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who is also a former senior member in the Ennahda Islamist party, on suspicion of money laundering, his lawyer told Reuters. – Reuters 

The ISIS terrorist group has killed nine pro-regime fighters in one day in eastern Syria, a war monitor said Thursday, the latest in a spate of attacks in the area. – Agence France-Presse 

Nasr al-Shammari, spokesman for the pro-Iranian militia Harakat al-Nujaba, slammed claims made by former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo while also addressing conspiracies inside Iraq. The report was published by Iran’s Fars News and reflects the continuing fears among pro-Iran groups that they have been infiltrated by “traitors” who feed intelligence to foreign services. – Jerusalem Post 

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned that the Abraham Accords could lead to increased violence and fuel further conflict in the region shortly after the deal was implemented in 2020, according to an official document obtained by The Intercept on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: The planned visit by US President Joe Biden to the Middle East next month is highlighting shifts in the region. Although Biden will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the spotlight is on his trip to Saudi Arabia for a regional meeting. – Jerusalem Post 

Bobby Ghosh writes: But now that a two-month truce between the belligerents has been extended in Yemen, urgent action is required to forestall a different kind of calamity: an oil spill that could rank as one of the world’s worst environmental disasters and disrupt a vital global trade route. – Bloomberg 


This time last year, China was racing to buy as much natural gas from the U.S. as it could get. After Russia invaded Ukraine, those purchases all but dried up, and China is now buying more from Russia. – Wall Street Journal 

China’s ambassador to Australia said he believes relations between the two countries can improve, though the protests that interrupted his speech in Sydney suggest there will be political challenges in thawing ties with Australia’s new government. – Wall Street Journal 

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday criticised “the abuse” of international sanctions, while Russian President Vladimir Putin scolded the West for fomenting global crisis, with both leaders calling for greater BRICS cooperation. – Reuters 

Hong Kong and Chinese leaders will mark next week the 25th anniversary of its return to China. At the time, some people were willing to give China a chance. China had promised to rule the city within the “one country, two systems” framework for 50 years. That meant Hong Kong would retain its own legal and political system and freedom of speech that does not exist in mainland China. – Associated Press 

China asked foreign business chambers in Hong Kong how to revive the isolated financial hub’s economy in unprecedented listening sessions weeks before new leader John Lee takes office, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg 

Welcome to Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago and “NATO’s Achilles heel in the Arctic”. These spectacular islands of glaciers and mountain peaks halfway between Norway and the North Pole are a strategic and economic bridgehead not just for Moscow but also for Beijing. – Agence France-Presse 

Josh Rogin writes: Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised this week to implement the new law and rally “allies and partners” to the cause. Congress will be watching closely to hold the administration to that commitment. If the White House provides enough wiggle room for China’s forced-labor industry to continue with business as usual, the entire effort will be rendered useless — and the prospects for the Uyghurs and other victims will further darken. – Washington Post 

Tim Culpan writes: If China is to navigate its way through the coming period of economic malaise while decoupling from the West, it’ll need to be nimble and use all the resources it can muster. Its innovative and entrepreneurial fintech businesses will be an important tool to make that happen. – Bloomberg 

Andrew J. Nathan writes: The only way to defeat China’s Taiwan strategy of strategic patience is to exercise corresponding patience, continually adapting American and Taiwanese deterrence as Chinese arms and training present an ever-changing and ever-growing threat. […] It is an even taller order for an island that spends only 2.1 percent of its GDP on defense and that has only recently begun to move away from an unrealistic reliance on expensive advanced platforms to stave off a Chinese attack and toward a more realistic “porcupine strategy” involving mines, short-range missiles, civil defense, and guerrilla resistance. – Foreign Affairs 

Trevor Filseth writes: A virtual meeting between Xi and his counterparts Jair Bolsonaro, Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, and Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to take place on Thursday morning, followed by further meetings between high-level officials from the five countries. Analysts have predicted that Xi will defend China’s governance record and highlight the country’s successful development to the other attendees amid the lifting of strict Covid-19 lockdown measures in Shanghai and Beijing. – The National Interest 

South Asia

Senior Indian officials began talks Thursday with Sri Lankan leaders on economic assistance, a day after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced the country’s economy had “collapsed.” […] India’s foreign secretary and the chief government economic adviser met with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe and were later scheduled to meet other top officials. – Associated Press 

Kashmir has witnessed a spate of targeted killings in recent months. Several Hindus, including immigrant workers from Indian states, have been killed. Police say the killings — including that of Muslim village councilors, police officers and civilians — have been carried out by anti-India rebels. – Associated Press 

Ye Myo Hein and Lucas Myers write: From this base, it should first unite the collective efforts of all anti-junta forces in pursuit of a genuine federal democracy, then craft a joint military strategy. In newly liberated regions, the National Unity Government and ethnic armed organizations should collaborate to establish effective parallel governance mechanisms to raise funds, ensure humanitarian aid and deliver stability. This will demonstrate to the international community that the pro-democracy movement is the people’s government that it claims to be. From there, military victory or the return of civilian rule may be possible. – War on the Rocks 


Years before the war in Ukraine, Georgia was the victim of Russian aggression that prompted Washington and Brussels to swing behind it. The Black Sea republic was ahead of other ex-Soviet states on democratic reforms, with ambitions to join the European Union. – Wall Street Journal 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will visit France next week as his new Labor government looks to repair relations strained last year when Australia scrapped a French submarine deal. – Reuters 

Myanmar’s military government on Thursday confirmed that ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved to a prison compound in quarters separate from other detainees. – Associated Press 

Australia had fired the “first shot” in its deteriorating relations with China four years ago when the then-government banned Chinese-owned telecommunications giant Huawei from rolling out the country’s 5G network due to security concerns, a Chinese ambassador said on Friday. – Associated Press 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un doubled down on his nuclear arms buildup to overwhelm “hostile forces” at a key meeting where military leaders approved unspecified new operational duties for frontline army units. Members of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission decided to supplement an “important military action plan” on the duties of frontline troops and further strengthen the country’s nuclear war deterrent, state media said Friday. – Associated Press 

China’s chief envoy to Australia was heckled by several protesters in Sydney on Friday as he delivered a speech that attempted to go some way toward repairing relations between the trading partners. – Bloomberg 

Outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ended talks with China on oil exploration in the disputed South China Sea, his top envoy said, posing a challenge for incoming leader Ferdinand Marcos Jr. if he wishes to restart discussions. – Bloomberg 

Military-ruled Myanmar’s promise of free and fair elections next year is “preposterous,” a U.N. expert said Thursday as he warned the international community not to fall for the army regime’s propaganda to legitimize its rule. – Associated Press 

White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Thursday he expects more high-level U.S. officials to visit Pacific island countries as Washington steps up its engagement to counter China in the strategically important region. – Reuters 

Okinawa marked the 77th anniversary Thursday of the end of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, with the governor calling for a further reduction of the U.S. military presence there as local fears grow that the southern Japanese islands will become embroiled in regional military tension. – Associated Press 

The Chinese defense minister spoke slowly and calmly, at least that’s how it came across in English, with a Chinese translator reading from what appeared to be a copy of his prepared remarks. In addressing a security conference in Singapore earlier this month, Gen. Wei Fenghe laced his hourlong speech with references to China’s desire for “peaceful coexistence” and “peaceful settlement of disputes,” including the status of Taiwan. – Washington Examiner 

Sascha Glaeser writes: Responsible competition with China will require clear-eyed realism, astute statecraft, and an acceptance that Asia has supplanted Europe in terms of geopolitical importance. Whether US leaders like it or not, the United States and China will need to learn how to live with one another. With both countries maintaining sizable nuclear arsenals, the stakes are too high for anything less. – Business Insider 

Ruodan Xu writes: Meanwhile, its small size and economic decline relative to mainland China have made it unwilling to promote those institutions, which translates to a push for independence. Socially, Taiwan’s curriculum has decreased its coverage of Chinese history, contributing to de-Sinicization and fostering an independent identity among Taiwanese youth. Geopolitically, U.S. military and economic support to Taiwan have fueled hostility between Beijing and Taiwan, and further alienated Taiwan from mainland China. – The National Interest 



European Union leaders meeting on Thursday approved Ukraine’s to become a formal candidate for E.U. membership status, giving the war-torn country and its leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, a much-needed morale boost. The European Parliament also backed the move in a Thursday vote. – Washington Post 

Ukrainian forces said they had pulled back from some areas outside the city of Lysychansk in the country’s eastern Donbas region and face encirclement there by Russian troops pressing to capture the strategic city of Severodonetsk. – Wall Street Journal  

Hungary is open to compromise with the European Commission to unblock its access to 7.2 billion euros ($7.57 billion) of EU recovery fund grants, a senior aide to Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Germany triggered the “alarm stage” of its emergency gas plan on Thursday in response to falling Russian supplies but stopped short of allowing utilities to pass on soaring energy costs to customers in Europe’s largest economy. – Reuters 

The European Union should stop adding sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and instead push for a ceasefire and the start of negotiations, a senior aide to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday. – Reuters 

A summit of European Union and Balkan leaders failed on Thursday to break a deadlock over a stalled EU membership bid by North Macedonia and Albania, even as Ukraine was set to become an official candidate for membership. – Reuters 

Two Britons and a Moroccan who were captured while fighting for Ukraine and sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) are preparing to appeal, Russia’s TASS news agency cited one of their lawyers as saying on Thursday. – Reuters 

Britain introduced a new tranche of trade sanctions against Russia on Thursday, a notice published on the government website said. The ‘Notice to Exporters’ listed new measures including prohibitions on the export to Russia of a range of goods and technology, the export of jet fuel, and the export of sterling or EU denominated banknotes. – Reuters 

Lithuania must raise defence spending to 3% of GDP to enable it to host a much larger number of NATO troops, its president said ahead of NATO summit that will address how to counter rising security threats posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

The White House will send four additional rocket launchers to Ukraine, as part of a new $450 million package of military assistance, the Department of Defense announced on Thursday. The move will double the number of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems sent to Ukraine amid that nation’s battle with Russian forces for control of the eastern Donbas region. – Politico 

The risks of the US and Europe sliding into recession have picked up sharply, economists have warned ahead of the G7 summit that begins this weekend in Bavaria. Economists on both sides of the Atlantic told the Financial Times they had become increasingly pessimistic following the Federal Reserve’s decision to go big on rate rises to counter soaring inflation, and on mounting concerns over Europe’s gas supply in the run-up to winter. – Financial Times 

Rokhaya Diallo writes: The anger against the state in France’s overseas territories is understandable. Still, the rise of the far right in these territories reflects how effective the National Rally has been in reshaping its image. Macron and other politicians in power should not neglect this new threat to the ideals of the French republic — and should act to ensure that citizens living in departments feel valued and heard. – Washington Post 

Gitanas Nauseda writes: To be truly safe and stable, Europe must be whole and free, united in peace, democracy and prosperity. For this future to become a reality, the success of NATO as the backbone of collective defense spanning the whole transatlantic area is crucial. This also means that the alliance will have to reinvent itself. Only by being more proactive, investing more in our indivisible security and making it more difficult for adversaries to wreak havoc can we hope to achieve the return of a lasting peace in Europe. – Washington Post 

Andreas Kluth writes: Acceptance means preparing now for the economic war [by Europe] against Putin to come. It means getting fossil fuels from other countries, fracking gas out of the ground underneath and importing more of it in liquid form by ship. It also means splitting atoms, putting up wind turbines, and all the rest. – Bloomberg 

Zachary Kallenborn writes: NATO must be ready for whatever changes emerge. Some projected trends may manifest; others may not. Others may manifest in different ways than expected, and other trends that were never expected may manifest. Adopting collective resilience through innovation as a core task would allow NATO to maintain and encourage the technological, conceptual, doctrinal, strategic, and policy flexibility needed to stay strong and endure whatever future may emerge. – The National Interest 


Nigeria is grappling with widespread fuel shortages that are forcing motorists to spend hours in lines to buy gas and causing prices to surge for transportation and basic commodities. Russia’s war in Ukraine has caused prices to import fuel go up by more than 100% but retailers complain they can only charge the price set by the government, causing them to operate at a loss. – Associated Press 

Commonwealth leaders meet in Kigali on Friday to discuss cooperation on topics from trade to health to climate, against a backdrop of criticism of the host Rwanda’s human rights record and of a British policy to deport asylum seekers there. – Reuters 

Tanzania’s Maasai people, resisting government pressure to leave their ancestral homes in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, have presented their demands for Indigenous land rights to negotiators in Nairobi finalizing the proposed U.N. global biodiversity framework. – Associated Press 

The Americas

The Senate on Thursday passed legislation aimed at stanching acts of mass gun violence, with 15 Republicans joining Democrats to advance a bill combining modest new firearms restrictions with $15 billion in mental health and school security funding. – Washington Post  

A prominent Mexican scientist who led a double life with two families on separate continents and was co-opted by Russian agents into surveilling a U.S. government informant residing in Miami has been sentenced to four years and one day in federal prison. – Associated Press 

Suriname’s president said on Thursday the South American country did not have the funds to build an embassy in Israel, reversing an announcement made last month. – Reuters 

The U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday that it recently rescued 27 Haitian migrants from the rocky cliffs of an uninhabited island that lies between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. – Associated Press 

Authorities in Argentina and Paraguay are trying to shine light on the jumbo-jet sized mystery surrounding a cargo plane with Iranian and Venezuelan crew that has been grounded outside Buenos Aires for more than two weeks. Prosecutors in the two South American countries have launched investigations to figure out whether the crew members… have any ties to international terrorism or other illicit activity. – Associated Press  

Petro’s leftist politics poses new hurdles for the U.S. as it holds the potential to rearrange the two countries’ long-standing alliance that has garnered bipartisan support for decades. He has sought to reestablish diplomatic ties with Venezuela’s authoritarian regime, which the Biden administration does not recognize. – Politico 


The little-known Italian spyware firm RCS Labs worked with unnamed internet service providers to install malicious apps on targets’ phones in Italy and Kazakhstan, researchers with Google’s Threat Analysis Group said Thursday. – CyberScoop 

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Thursday that would create export controls for sensitive U.S. user data. The legislation takes aims at growing concerns about data brokers selling data like health information and military member location data to foreign adversaries. – CyberScoop 

A new report from Microsoft puts a spotlight on the cyberfront of the Russian invasion of Ukraine — including cyberespionage against think tanks outside Ukraine which can be valuable targets for intelligence gathering or launchpads for additional campaigns. – The Record 

Stephen Silver writes: “That’s why we advanced this legislation to improve career opportunities for cybersecurity professionals, including those in the private sector, who want [to] bring their expertise to the federal government. The personnel rotation program created by our bill will help ensure federal agencies can recruit and retain a skilled workforce that is better able to protect against and counter the threats we face.” – The National Interest 


House lawmakers are trying a new approach to recapitalizing the nation’s strategic sealift fleet, after recent efforts to push the Defense Department and the Transportation Department to invest haven’t yielded much progress. – Military Times 

The U.S. Army has no clear plan for modernizing its AH-64E Apache attack helicopter, leaving the House Armed Services Committee concerned, according to the chairman’s mark of the fiscal 2023 defense authorization bill, released this week. – Defense News 

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: Legislators are working hard to give the US military the resources it needs to carry out what the nation asks of it. But the effort to provide increased funds could be wiped out by a budget that is not signed into law on time. The corrosive effects of spending freezes combined with the damage of compounding inflationary effects could neutralize efforts by policymakers to increase the defense budget. – American Enterprise Institute