Fdd's overnight brief

June 28, 2023

In The News


Currently, though, Tehran and Moscow are allied in a revanchist axis that cooperates around the globe to undermine America and its allies. Fighters from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and an Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, battle in Syria alongside Wagner mercenaries. – New York Sun 

The Iranian Teachers’ Union Association has issued a statement protesting mass trials and “unjust sentences” handed to teachers, urging the authorities of the Islamic Republic to halt the practice. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Two Kurdish people from the western Iranian city of Saqqez have been arrested by Iranian security forces and subsequently transferred to an undisclosed location, a Kurdish rights group based in France said on June 27. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Russia & Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine strategy has rested on a big assumption: that his autocratic government could outlast Western democracies, whose leaders are more beholden to public opinion, in a long and costly war. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia is on the cusp of overtaking Saudi Arabia as the biggest oil supplier to China, in a shift that shows the limits of the kingdom’s influence over global markets that have been turned upside down by the Ukraine war. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. government imposed sanctions Tuesday on the gold and diamond operations of the paramilitary group Wagner in an attempt to undercut the funding of the Russian organization that has dispatched tens of thousands of soldiers to the war in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

For decades, Russian President Vladimir Putin has assembled a kitchen cabinet of security advisers from his native St. Petersburg to tighten his grip over Russia, manage its factions, and build a vast security apparatus to support an imperialist vision that led to his invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

Ukrainian forces are navigating giant minefields and mounting initial attacks on Russian positions along a sprawling front line, U.S. and Ukrainian officials said, as Kyiv takes the first, halting steps of what is expected to be a prolonged and punishing counteroffensive campaign. – Washington Post

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Tuesday tried to recast the weekend rebellion by the mercenary chief Yevgeny V. Prigozhin as a heroic episode for a rock-solid Russian state, while neighboring Belarus said Mr. Prigozhin had gone into exile there, and signaled that it would be open to taking in his battle-hardened troops, as well. – New York Times

Even before President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia broke his public silence on Monday about the aborted mutiny that brought rogue troops to within 125 miles of Moscow, he was on the phone to the leaders of Iran, Qatar and other friendly countries, soaking up their expressions of support while presumably promising a return to stability. – New York Times

A senior Russian general had advance knowledge of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plans to rebel against Russia’s military leadership, according to U.S. officials briefed on American intelligence on the matter, which has prompted questions about what support the mercenary leader had inside the top ranks. – New York Times

Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin flew into exile in Belarus on Tuesday under a deal that ended a brief mutiny by his fighters, as President Vladimir Putin praised his armed forces for averting a civil war. – Reuters 

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is usually the one thanking Russia’s Vladimir Putin or asking him for a favour – be it a loan, cheap gas, help in navigating protests or tactical nuclear weapons. This time, the shoe is on the other foot. – Reuters 

The liberation of a group of villages under Russian occupation in recent weeks were “not the main event” in Kyiv’s planned attack, Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine defence minister, told the Financial Times. – Reuters 

A Russian missile struck a restaurant in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and wounding 56, emergency services said, as rescue crews combed the rubble in search of casualties. – Reuters 

As news broke on Saturday that mercenary Wagner troops were careering towards Moscow in a short-lived rebellion, several businessmen from southern China began frantically calling factories to halt shipments of goods destined for Russia. – Reuters 

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the finances of Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s catering firm would be investigated after his mutiny, saying Wagner and its founder had received almost $2 billion from Russia in the past year. – Reuters 

The United States will provide Kyiv with a new military package worth up to $500 million, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, in a show of support for Ukraine’s fight against Russia as Moscow deals with the aftermath of a mutiny by mercenary fighters. – Reuters 

Russian forces carried out widespread and systematic torture of civilians who were detained in connection with its attack on Ukraine, summarily executing dozens of them, the United Nations human rights office said Tuesday. – Associated Press

NATO’s chief said Tuesday that the power of Russia’s military shouldn’t be underestimated following the weekend mutiny against it by Wagner Group mercenaries, and said the alliance has increased its readiness to confront Russia in recent days. – Associated Press

Former National Security Council advisor Alexander Vindman said the Wagner Group’s revolt in Russia last week weakened Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is a good sign for the Ukrainian war effort. – The Hill 

Denmark is starting the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets as Kyiv inches closer to promises of Western-made planes for its war effort. – Newsweek 

Russia is not a strong nation, a former KGB agent has said during a state television broadcast in the wake of the Wagner mutiny which shook the Kremlin over the weekend. – Newsweek 

Wagner Group mercenary forces will hand over their military equipment to Russia’s armed forces following the mutiny that shook Moscow over the weekend, Russia’s Defense Ministry has said. – Newsweek 

An aborted coup attempt by Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the notorious paramilitary outfit the Wagner Group, has landed Russia in a legal quagmire. – Newsweek 

A former Russian diplomat who resigned in protest at Moscow’s war in Ukraine has said he believes Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mutiny attempt on June 24 will ultimately lead to the downfall of President Vladimir Putin. – Newsweek 

Atop Ukrainian government official said his country should become a member of NATO, even if doing so goes against “the darkest of red lines” for Russian President Vladimir Putin. – Newsweek

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to negotiate with the Wagner Group’s armed rebels may offer insight into when he would be willing to end the war in Ukraine, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Michael McFaul said. – Newsweek 

Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko warned on Tuesday that citizens in Russia need to “cool down” as the country recovers from a 24-hour mutiny led by the Wagner Group private military company (PMC) over the weekend. – Newsweek 

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: At the same time, a weak Putin is even less likely to make peace. He is also less likely to be able to order the apparently strengthened Messrs. Shoigu and Gerasimov to undertake any more hopeless fantasy offensives in pursuit of ultimate victory. Expect paralysis in Moscow and defensive inertia in the war. With the ending yet to be written, the final chapter is likely to exhibit the same elements of burlesque that characterized internal Russian politics this week. – Wall Street Journal 

John Fund writes: If Washington sets an example, U.S. allies may follow in different ways. In April 2022, European Council President Charles Michel said European countries should consider offering asylum to Russian soldiers who leave their posts in Ukraine. […] Taking talent and numbers away from Mr. Putin, whether through asylum or immigration, is a strategic way to weaken Russia’s military and economy while strengthening the economies of the U.S. and its allies. – Wall Street Journal 

Konstantin Akinsha writes: The ruling by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands is a rare victory in the battle to keep Ukrainian cultural heritage safe and out of Russian hands. […] The 1975 exhibition “From the Lands of Scythians: Ancient Treasures From the Museums of the U.S.S.R., 3000 B.C.-100 B.C.,” organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, marked the beginning of museum exchanges between the Soviet Union and the West. By contrast, the Allard Pierson Museum show coincided with the annexation of Crimea, which became a harbinger of the wider Russian invasion of Ukraine and the beginning of the new Cold War. – Wall Street Journal 

Andrei Kolesnikov writes: Those fissures aren’t going to shake Mr. Putin out of power now. Maybe they never will. But he understands they — and he — have been exposed. How do we know? Not once has he mentioned Mr. Prigozhin’s name in his speeches since the threat of the coup emerged. What’s the other name Mr. Putin never mentions? The opposition leader who posed such a threat, he threw him in jail: Aleksei Navalny. – New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman writes: This is not a defense of Putin. It is an expression of rage at what he did to his country, making it into a ticking time bomb spread across 11 time zones. Putin has taken the whole world hostage. If he wins, the Russian people lose. But if he loses and his successor is disorder, the whole world loses. – New York Times

Lionel Laurent writes: Professor Charles Kupchan, co-author of a Foreign Affairs piece in April outlining a new strategy for the West in Ukraine, argues that the focus remains bolstering Kyiv’s counter-offensive with a view to negotiating any exit from a stalemate on the best possible terms. “The way forward is steady as she goes,” he tells me. That means accelerating assistance to Ukraine, keeping discussions open with allies and keeping an eye on escalation risks. It’s a moment to step up support, but for now hopes for a post-Putin era are premature. – Bloomberg 

Dan Perry writes: The current position in Kyiv is that every square inch of the country’s sovereign land must be returned. The borders people are dying to reestablish were concocted by another propagandist named Vladimir, whose last name was Lenin. Would it really be worth it? The Ukrainian people are so wound up over the war that a little propaganda may be needed to get them to calm down, as well. – Newsweek 

Mark N. Katz writes: Putin risks something similar now. If and when the Russian Defense Ministry succeeds in getting rid of Prigozhin and subordinating Wagner forces, Putin may be in a less strong position to assert his authority over them. Indeed, it would not be surprising if there were those in the Russian military who decided that the best way to end Russia’s unwinnable war with Ukraine is to get rid of the leader who both sent them and kept them there to fight it. Is this really a possibility? I don’t know. But neither does Putin. – Newsweek 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: There are many examples of coexistence, but there is a lot more that can be done. High level phone calls are important, but people-to-people connections are the bedrock of bringing peace during these times. Security coordination, pragmatic coordination that serve the interests of Israel and the Palestinians, can pay dividends, but the increasing threats from Jenin illustrate that much works remains to be done. – Jerusalem Post 

Kori Schake writes: Another vital point to emphasise is that Ukraine is doing the fighting. Ukrainians are not merely taking our aid and enjoying extra security. At huge cost in their own lives they have inflicted hundreds of thousands of military casualties on Russia, destroyed or disabled huge amounts of Russian equipment, and revealed the Russian army to be much less capable than our military and intelligence assessments predicted. We can therefore ratchet down the capabilities and spending in our own military directed to manage the Russian threat to us. Ukrainians’ courageous defence of their country has reduced the necessities of defending ours. Helping them is one of the most cost-effective ways we can spend our money. – Telegraph 

Alexey Kovalev writes: It’s also remarkable how many Russians—even in the power elite—stayed on the sidelines until it was clear who’d win. This is completely new: In the past, the loyalists would invariably trip over themselves trying to prove their devotion to the leader and denounce his enemies. One prominent example is Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of state propaganda channel RT, who managed to combine vocal and uncompromising support for Putin with generous praise for Prigozhin and Wagner. She maintained radio silence until late Sunday night, long after the fight had been decided, before coming out with a clear endorsement of Putin. – Foreign Policy

Daniel B. Baer writes: Even in places that haven’t seen as dramatic a political shift away from the Kremlin’s orbit as Ukraine or Moldova, the cast of characters is slowly changing. Newer leaders such as Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and Kyrgyzstan President Sadyr Japarov may be asking themselves what role personalized handshake diplomacy with a damaged Putin will play in their own future. With a grin and a grimace, they might also be recalling the ways in which Putin has often conveyed a sense of condescending disdain toward those who allowed challenges to their own authority to fester. – Foreign Policy


The U.N. Security Council urged Israel and the Palestinians on Tuesday to avoid actions that can further inflame tensions in the volatile West Bank. – Associated Press 

Israel has seized millions of dollars worth of digital funds intended for use by the powerful Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah and the foreign Quds Force arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he has received an invitation for an official visit to China, but did not disclose whether or when the trip would take place. – Associated Press

The PA is facing increased pressure from Israel, the US, and other parties to take tough measures against armed groups and gunmen in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian official in Ramallah said on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke with Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hossein al-Sheikh on Tuesday afternoon, in light of a recent escalation of violence in the West Bank. – Jerusalem Post

Russia’s foreign ministry summoned Israel’s top envoy to Moscow for a meeting on Tuesday as part of an ongoing spat over comments by Israel’s envoy in Ukraine. – Times of Israel

The Israeli military said on Tuesday that it knows the identity of a Palestinian behind attempts to fire rockets on Israel from the Jenin area in the northern West Bank. – Times of Israel

The UN Security Council on Tuesday called for those responsible for the recent uptick in violence between Israelis and Palestinians to be held accountable, in a vague press statement that appeared to have been watered down following pushback from the United States. – Times of Israel

Editorial: While the situations are extremely different, Palestinians and Muslims across the Middle East note that the west has vigorously countered Russia’s seizure of parts of Ukraine, but has long been muted in its reaction to Israel’s creeping annexation of the West Bank. If the US and Europe want countries elsewhere to join their condemnation of Moscow, they must avoid appearing hypocritical by failing properly to condemn unacceptable behaviour when it comes from a traditional ally. – Financial Times

Editorial: Netanyahu is responsible for weakening the PA, neutralizing the army and the Shin Bet in the face of Jewish terror and strengthening Hamas and the settlers. Taken together, these developments have resulted in violent, bloody anarchy in the West Bank. But neither can the heads of the defense establishment make do with issuing press statements and hiding behind Netanyahu. They must fulfill their obligation to protect the security, property and lives of the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and take forceful action against the intensifying Jewish terror. – Haaretz

Seth J. Frantzman writes: There are many examples of coexistence, but there is a lot more that can be done. High level phone calls are important, but people-to-people connections are the bedrock of bringing peace during these times. Security coordination, pragmatic coordination that serve the interests of Israel and the Palestinians, can pay dividends, but the increasing threats from Jenin illustrate that much works remains to be done. – Jerusalem Post

Andrew Tucker writes: As UN Watch and other organizations have demonstrably shown, the Commission is fundamentally one-sided and members of the Commission are all heavily biased against Israel. But as Kothari’s recent statements show, the commission is not only biased, it is also incompetent. – Jerusalem Post

Yossi Melman writes: The time has come for these fat commissions to be limited by a wage ceiling and for oversight to be tightened to reduce the corruption. And because the Defense Ministry guards the cream that it laps up, the time has come to establish an independent oversight authority, outside the Defense Ministry, which is not tainted by self-interest and will clean up the weapons-commissions business. – Haaretz 

Middle East & North Africa

If a landmark reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran has eased tensions in the Gulf, clouds have also lifted at the hajj pilgrimage, where Iranian visitors finally feel welcome again. – Agence France-Presse

More than 50 members of the local parliament in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north have submitted their resignations to protest a court decision that deemed as unconstitutional the legislature’s postponement of elections by a year. – Associated Press

Asher Fredman writes: The growing PA-China partnership may create significant challenges for both the U.S. and Israel. […] At the same time, the United States should carefully examine its continued funding to the PA or supporting entities. As the PA continues to draw closer to Beijing, the U.S. must ensure that its actions do not serve to strengthen China in this strategic and sensitive region. – Newsweek

Shoshana Bryen writes: And that leads to the second lesson: Abbas will die, and increased chaos will follow. Today, the IDF is working to destroy the Iranian-supported terrorist-militia infrastructure in the West Bank, for the security of its own citizens and for the future. The fact that these operations also protect Abbas — who never wanted to control the militias and couldn’t so even if he did want to — is incidental. Oslo is over and now, keeping Iran out is Job One. – Algemeiner

Sabina Henneberg writes: At the regional level, pushing for stronger institutions to facilitate cooperation on Tunisia—including reviving the moribund Arab Maghreb Union—would require Algeria to overlook its traditional rivalry with Morocco. This is a tall but necessary order if Algiers is to realize the regional and global leadership role to which it aspires. Clearly, given that Tunisia is only the latest in a series of challenges to its traditional foreign policy approach, abandoning the status quo in favor of a more sustainable, mutually beneficial model would help guarantee stability on all fronts. – Washington Institute 

Korean Peninsula

The U.S. plans to send its largest nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea for the first time in four decades, in an effort to deter North Korea and reassure American allies in Seoul. – Wall Street Journal 

South Korea on Wednesday announced new sanctions on two individuals and two entities over their alleged involvement in North Korea’s weapons programmes, Seoul’s foreign ministry said. – Reuters 

North Korea criticised on Tuesday the U.S. plan to rejoin the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO as a “sinister” move to use an international organisation for the purpose of “realizing the strategy for hegemony”. – Reuters


As tensions between their countries mount, President Biden and Xi Jinping, China’s leader, have repeatedly pushed back on comparisons to the Cold War. – New York Times

Republican lawmakers on Tuesday urged the U.S. State Department not to renew a decades-old U.S-China agreement on scientific cooperation, arguing that Beijing would seek to use it to help its military. – Reuters 

An anti-corruption presidential candidate in Guatemala, whose surprise showing in a first-round election on Sunday means he will contest a runoff vote in August, said on Tuesday he would pursue closer relations with China if he wins. – Reuters 

The Biden administration is contemplating new export controls on chips for artificial intelligence, as Washington increases its efforts to make it harder for China to obtain technology with military applications. – Financial Times

Robert A. Manning writes: Achieving a new equilibrium will be a protracted process, always one balloon or Taiwan incident away from being derailed. It will require bold leadership, political will, and creative diplomacy. Curbing performative politics (and Biden gaffes, such as gratuitously calling Xi a dictator just days after Blinken’s trip) and quietly bolstering economic and military ties with Taipei would help. But if this exercise fails, the death spiral will worsen, and it may take a conflict of Cuban missile crisis proportions or worse to reach a new sobriety. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

In the U.S.-built district hospital of Shindand in western Afghanistan, the surge in patients took doctors by surprise. As their wards filled up in recent months, they repurposed staff space to make room for more patients and resorted to prescribing single doses of drugs that should be taken in three doses. Some patients with severe conditions have been turned away because of a lack of available beds. – Washington Post

A senior official with the International Monetary Fund and Pakistan’s prime minister indicated Tuesday a deal could soon be reached on a much-needed $6 billon bailout package for the impoverished south Asian country. – Associated Press 

Pakistan’s law minister says he expects a tougher armed response in the event of any repeat of political violence in the country, accusing followers of former Prime Minister Imran Khan of exploiting the initial “motherly” response to fiery rampages last month. – Associated Press


Australia’s defence minister is due to meet the leader of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, on Wednesday to discuss security, officials said, on a two-day visit that comes as China takes a bigger role in the Pacific nation’s police force. – Reuters 

A Dutch court of appeal dismissed on Tuesday a bid by eight descendants of a former sultanate to enforce a $15-billion arbitration award against the Malaysian government, which hailed the decision as a “landmark victory”. – Reuters 

Taiwan spotted two Russian warships off its eastern coast on Tuesday and sent its own aircraft and ships to keep watch, the island’s defence ministry said. – Reuters 

China is willing to work with Vietnam to strengthen high-level communication and cooperation between their militaries, Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu said on Tuesday as he met his Vietnamese counterpart. – Reuters 

The U.S. ambassador to Thailand dismissed claims of American interference in recent elections as a “disservice” to the Thai people, saying Tuesday that Washington does not support any individual candidate or political party. – Associated Press

Tom Rogan writes: Alliances are ultimately built on trust. At their pinnacle, they are measured by the willingness of allies to stand together against external threats. New Zealand has no interest in doing so. Instead, it takes the benefits from Five Eyes while dancing to Beijing’s Divide the West waltz. Biden may be willing to tolerate this absurdity, but the next American president should not. – Washington Examiner 

Christopher B. Johnstone and Zack Cooper write: Washington should not stand by while Japan decides how and where to stand up its Permanent Joint Headquarters, because these decisions will shape U.S. options for regional command-and-control arrangements. The time is now for leaders in the United States to engage with counterparts in Japan about the Permanent Joint Headquarters and the future of the U.S. command structure in Japan. As Japan steps up, the United States should lean in, ensuring that the allies have a shared vision for evolving their respective command structures in the years ahead. – War on the Rocks 


In an interview before his first official visit to Washington, Germany’s defense minister staked out a broad geopolitical vision, taking pains to indicate that his country is ready to assume a more assertive stance in the face of growing international instability. – New York Times

France has conducted a maiden test of a prototype hypersonic glider, the country’s defence procurement agency said, as it seeks to develop new missile technology capable of evading the most sophisticated air defences. – Reuters 

Eastern European NATO countries on Tuesday warned that a move of Wagner’s Russian mercenary troops to Belarus would create greater regional instability, but NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is ready to defend itself against any threat. – Reuters 

Latvia and Lithuania called on Tuesday for NATO to strengthen its eastern borders in response to expectations that Russia’s Wagner private will set up a new base in Belarus after its abortive mutiny at home. – Reuters 

Lawmakers in Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic voted on Tuesday to suspend rulings by Bosnia’s constitutional court, a move described by experts as a “legal secession” that is set to deepen political divisions in the volatile Balkan country. – Reuters 

Russian money trapped in Europe’s financial system is expected to throw off interest worth several billion euros a year. The problem: there is no agreement on what to do with it. – Financial times

Lee Hockstader writes: But foreign policy by damage control is a poor posture for one of the West’s most prominent leaders as global tensions reach a boiling point. In currying favor with despots, Macron does not enhance French leadership or Europe’s independent standing. He subverts them. – Washington Post


The Russian mercenary group that briefly threatened President Vladimir Putin’s authority has for years been a ruthless force-for-hire across Africa, protecting rulers at the expense of the masses. That dynamic is not expected to change now that the group’s founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been exiled to Belarus as punishment for the failed rebellion. – Associated Press

Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio has won a second term in office, receiving 56.17% of ballots cast and narrowly clearing the threshold for avoiding a runoff in the West African nation, electoral officials said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Germany’s foreign minister on Tuesday called for Russia “to stop the bombing” of Ukraine, a pointed message during a visit to South Africa as it draws accusations of aiding Moscow’s war effort. – Associated Press

Ugandan activists brought another legal case Tuesday against French oil giant TotalEnergies, seeking damages over alleged food and land rights violations in the company’s East Africa operations. – Associated Press

The United Nations said Tuesday the surging violence in Sudan is likely to drive more than 1 million refugees out of the African country by October, as the 10-week conflict shows few signs of easing. – Associated Press

United Nations Peacekeepers are preparing to withdraw from one of their largest missions just a day after Russia’s top diplomat vowed the private military company Wagner Group would continue operations in Mali, even after the organization staged a mutiny against the Russian Defense Ministry over the weekend. – Newsweek 

The dream of establishing smartphone “super apps” that can operate across Africa’s markets is galvanising Chinese investment into Nigeria. Nigeria, with about 220mn people, is the continent’s most populous country and its biggest economy. So, when two Chinese-backed fintech companies hatched ambitions to build African versions of Chinese mobile payment giants Alipay or WeChat Pay, they decided to start in Lagos. – Financial Times

Ido Levy writes: Now, U.S. support, coupled with determined Somali political leadership, has enabled a serious offensive campaign aiming to deprive al-Shabab of all its territory. While Emirati activity in other countries—such as deep involvement in Yemen or provision of drones to Ethiopia—has stabilized frontlines and expanded government control to an extent, a large-scale offensive in Somalia would be extremely challenging for the UAE to undertake alone. In the fight against al-Shabab, the United States remains the indispensable international actor. – Washington Institute 

Mark F. Cancian, Sean Monaghan and Daniel Fata write: Deterring a war is far better than fighting one, and the strongest deterrence comes from credible, forward-deployed forces. […] The threat of retaliation may not be credible, and in the case of the Baltic countries, retaking territory is much harder than defending in the first place. Strategies relying on reinforcement need time to work, but time may not be available in a crisis. “Deterrence by detection” failed in Ukraine. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Americas

A crackdown in Honduras on gangs in the nation’s prisons is eerily similar to one carried out last year in neighboring El Salvador by President Nayib Bukele, observers said Tuesday. – Associated Press

El Salvador has swept up a number of foreign nationals in a widespread crackdown on criminal activity, allegedly including Americans in those arrests. – Fox News

International prosecutors should resume investigating alleged crimes against humanity in Venezuela by security forces under President Nicolás Maduro because the country’s own probe has fallen short, the International Criminal Court ruled Tuesday. – Associated Press

Chuck DeVore writes: As an alternative strategy, China might seek to turn Cuba into a deadly dagger pointed at America – a dagger that might be withdrawn in exchange for the U.S. abandoning Taiwan. A future U.S. president needs to resist the option of betrayal and instead turn the tables by leveraging the Cuban regime’s deep unpopularity to support a Cuba Libre insurgency with the objective of restoring freedom to the long-suffering island. – Fox News


More than a year ago, Congress passed a $40 billion Ukraine aid package. Lawmakers allocated a miniscule portion of that package ― less than 2% ― to expedite munitions production and expand access to critical minerals via the Defense Production Act. – Defense News

Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor by revenue, bested rival General Dynamics Mission Systems for a U.S. Army deal to develop a long-range electronic warfare, signals intelligence and cyber system the service sees as critical to its “deep sensing” playbook. – Defense News

As the Marine Corps continues to reconfigure the infantry battalion, leaders also must learn how the “base unit” of the service will fit into one of its newest formations: the Marine littoral regiment. – Defense News

Long War

A Russian airstrike Tuesday targeted a military post of a group linked to al-Qaida in northwest Syria killing at least six militants, medical officials and a war monitor said. The airstrike on the Jabal al-Zawiya area in the northwestern province of Idlib came two days after another airstrike on a busy vegetable market in the same province killed at least nine people. – Associated Press

Armed groups have recruited children throughout the past 12 years of conflict and civil war in Syria. A new United Nations report on recruitment, released Tuesday, says the use of child soldiers in Syria is growing, even as fighting in most parts of Syria is winding down. – Associated Press

Thousands of men who worked as intelligence operatives under former president Omar al-Bashir and have ties to his Islamist movement are fighting alongside the army in Sudan’s war, three military sources and one intelligence source said, complicating efforts to end the bloodshed. – Reuters