Fdd's overnight brief

March 10, 2022

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


From a perch in the West, it’s easy to see a world standing against Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Russian forces lay brutal siege to Ukrainian cities, leaders in Washington and the capitals of Europe are slapping Moscow with sanction after sanction. In Western countries, Putin has come to be seen as a Bond villain caricature and antagonist to a heroic, beloved Zelensky. Even McDonald’s suspended operations in Russia. Surely you’re isolated if you can’t buy a Big Mac. – Washington Post 

The Biden administration warned Wednesday that Russia could use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, as it rejected Russia’s claims that U.S. biological weapons labs are operating in the war-torn country. – Washington Post 

The Pentagon on Wednesday firmly ruled out any U.S. participation in efforts to supplement Ukraine’s inventory of fighter aircraft, warning that such a step could be seen by Russia as “escalatory” while assessing any potential benefit would be “low.” – Washington Post 

The U.S. and its European allies promised to meet Russia’s military assault on Ukraine with economic penalties—and are following through with harsh actions. Punitive measures rolled out so far target Russia’s financial sector, major companies, President Vladimir Putin and other government officials, members of Russia’s elite and the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. The U.S. and European governments say more are forthcoming. – Wall Street Journal 

A Russian airstrike hit a maternity hospital in the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, local authorities said, as Moscow’s invasion has shifted to a new, more destructive phase aimed at civilian targets. – Wall Street Journal 

The Russian army on Wednesday admitted for the first time that conscripts were taking part in Moscow’s military advance in Ukraine, after President Vladimir Putin vowed only professional soldiers were there. – Agence France-Presse 

Two weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s “precision strikes” have become much less precise and its ground forces are laboring to seize territory. – CNN 

As the International Criminal Court (ICC) prepares to investigate possible war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a growing number of officials and world leaders are calling for President Vladimir Putin to be held accountable amid Kyiv’s rising civilian death toll. – Newsweek 

Editorial: Russia is likely to retaliate. Alexander Novak, a deputy prime minister, warned earlier this week that Moscow could cut natural gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in response to western sanctions. Making good on that threat, however, would ultimately be self-defeating, further reducing Russia’s foreign exchange earnings. Gas relies much more than oil on pipeline infrastructure to deliver it. Apart from Europe, the only main purchaser of Russian gas is China, and there is limited short-term scope to increase supplies. – Financial Times 

Michael O’Hanlon writes: We already knew that Mr. Putin was angry, arrogant and autocratic. We have learned that he is also more reckless than we had appreciated. But his behavior can otherwise be explained simply by allowing for the kinds of mistakes that leaders often make. Given that he has his finger on the nuclear trigger, that’s a relief. – Wall Street Journal 

Jacob Bogage and Adela Suliman write: A Russian default could shake the economies of developing market countries — favored by some lenders for their high-yield upside — so profoundly that investors could ditch those venues in favor of safer bets, experts say. That would flood Western markets with capital pulled out of China, India, Brazil and eastern European economies, fueling even higher price inflation. – Washington Post 

Marc A. Thiessen writes: Those words should now be ringing in Biden’s ears. Sending American pilots to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine risks putting us in direct combat with Russia. But there is absolutely no excuse for denying Ukraine the aircraft it needs to patrol its own skies. – Washington Post 

Gordon Brown writes: Such is the gravity of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine that an international prosecutor should be appointed and a tribunal established to bring him and his collaborators to trial for their crimes. – Bloomberg 

Quin Hillyer writes: Russian diplomats and generals also know the patina of collective action under an established international body helps enable otherwise skittish nations to join an anti-Russian effort. The more that people around Putin can be dissuaded from continuing the current terror, the better chance some coalition of such people can stop Putin from further harm or wrest the reins of power from him. To suspend Russia from the U.N. now would be appropriate and perhaps materially helpful. Let’s do it. – Washington Examiner 

Zachary Faria writes: Both Russia and China are becoming more antagonistic toward the United States and the West. The risk of being a prominent American in those countries is only going to rise in the coming years. If American athletes want to take that risk, they are free to do so, but they should be aware that incidents such as Griner’s are only going to become more likely. – Washington Examiner 

Philip Elliott writes: And, in another symbol of the West’s relationship with Russia, that store will now close as part of the Western withdrawal. One has to wonder what a darkened pair of golden arches in Moscow says about America’s cultural dominance. It doesn’t stretch the imagination to see Putin grinning like Ronald McDonald. – Time 

Andrew Nagorski writes: While outgunned, the Ukrainians know what they are fighting for—their homeland. Many of the conscripts Putin sent into battle did not know where they were going, and couldn’t understand why they were put in harm’s way. Those stories are trickling back to their hometowns and villages, no matter how much the authorities try to suppress them. All of which inclines me to believe that Putin will eventually rue the day that he embarked on his latest bloody escapade. – The Daily Beast 

Katherine Lawlor and Kateryna Stepanenko write: The Kremlin has set informational conditions to blame Ukraine for a Russian-conducted or Russian-fabricated chemical or radiological false-flag attack against civilians as a pretext for further Russian escalation. […]The United States and NATO must “pre-bunk” such Kremlin efforts, destroy in advance Moscow’s efforts to create informational cover for escalation, and deter Russia’s potential use of a chemical or radiological weapon. – Institute for the Study of War 


The United States does not have the will to reach an agreement to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran at talks in Vienna where it is insisting on “unacceptable proposals”, Iran’s top security official, Ali Shamkhani, said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Iran will not back down from any of its red lines in talks in Vienna on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Thursday. – Reuters 

A revived nuclear deal cannot limit Tehran’s pursuit of its missile and space programmes, said Nour news, which is affiliated with a top security body. – Reuters 

Iran offered mixed signals Thursday as a deadline loomed in talks over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers, with its president defending the negotiations while a top security official blamed America for the deadlock. – Associated Press 

With talks aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal seemingly nearing the finish line this week, the US has accused Russia of jeopardizing the negotiations taking place in Vienna. – Times of Israel 

Israel’s contention that its regional foe Iran is helping Venezuela build combat drones is raising concerns that the two anti-U.S. allies could enable such drones to be used for terrorism. – VOA News 

While the United States and its allies cobble together package after package of punitive measures on Russia to drive home that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine will have grave consequences for his country and catapult it into global isolation, and as the humanitarian crisis precipitated by the blitzkrieg is consuming resources and shifting global consciousness, the eccentricity with which Russia’s southern Caspian Sea neighbor and ally Iran has responded to the crisis has mostly remained unnoticed. – Foreign Policy 

Editorial: Russian diplomats have devoted huge efforts to the Iran nuclear issue. But for Putin it has become just another blackmail weapon. In his lust for Ukraine, he is quite prepared to sabotage the deal — and rain tinder on what is normally the most combustible region in the world. – Financial Times 


Iran said on Wednesday that an Israeli air strike in Syria that killed four people including two Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers would be avenged. – Reuters 

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have identified two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that it intercepted a year ago as a previously unknown Iranian type called the Shahed-197. – Defense News 

After months of delay due to internal political disputes, the US House of Representatives on Wednesday approved funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system at a sum of $1 billion. – Times of Israel 

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on Wednesday expressed opposition to President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Turkey. – Jerusalem Post 

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Either way, the Jewish state might need to live with Khamenei with 90% fully weaponized uranium for several months, unless the Mossad finds a way to blow up even more things faster than the Iranians can replace them. This would be the scenario that Israel has said it wanted. The sanctions would remain and the world would continue to be alarmed by Iranian nuclear progress. – Jerusalem Post 

Lahav Harkov writes: Going all out for Herzog at the presidential palace, and Erdogan’s warm words for Herzog and for the value of ties with Israel are a good start, as is the move toward exchanging ambassadors between Jerusalem and Ankara. Recent reports in the Turkish media that the authorities informed Hamas they would have to clear out their military headquarters from the country are an even better sign. – Jerusalem Post 

David Horovitz writes: Quite apart from the moral intolerability of this position, and the dangerous daylight it places between Israel and its core allies, most especially the United States, this undermines Israel’s own vital need: that the international community, standing together with Ukraine in resisting a warmongering regional power’s devastating agenda, will do precisely the same for Israel when it comes to Iran. – Times of Israel  


Israel’s President Isaac Herzog flew to Turkey on Wednesday on the first such high-level visit in more than a decade amid deepening efforts by Ankara to repair relations with its Middle East rivals. – Wall Street Journal 

The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine are set to cross paths on Thursday in Turkey, the most senior officials to hold in-person talks since the war began. – Bloomberg 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday said that the meeting between Erdogan and Herzog was “very fruitful” and “result-oriented, opening new pages in our relations, re-energizing.” Asked whether Turkey would reopen its embassy in Tel Aviv, he responded, “You should have another question – are we going to reopen our embassies mutually. Yes, we will plan for that.” – Arutz Sheva 

Hasim Tekines writes: Given his nature, a quagmire in Ukraine or a Pyrrhic victory may even encourage Erdogan to take bolder steps in Turkey’s back yard to take advantage of Russia’s distraction. In this respect, it is not so surprising to see how the American-Turkish relationship has lost its grounds and value-based understanding. Washington and Ankara can temporarily have congruent positions on some issues—even major ones—but the two sides’ incompatible visions and interests, not to mention a lack of mutual confidence, make a true rapprochement unlikely. – Washington Institute 

Arabian Peninsula

The United Arab Emirates is committed to the OPEC+ agreement and its existing monthly production adjustment mechanism, its energy minister said on Wednesday, hours after the Arab country’s ambassador to Washington said it favors an output increase. – Reuters 

The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates discussed developments in Ukraine and ways to strengthen two-way ties during a telephone call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, the state news agency said. – Reuters 

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani received a phone call on Wednesday from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy who briefed him on the latest developments in Ukraine, Qatar’s Amiri Diwan said. – Reuters 

Bobby Ghosh writes: Under normal circumstances, the impenitent interview in the Atlantic might have hardened Biden’s resolve to keep MBS in the sin bin until he saw the error of his ways. But surging oil prices are more likely to soften up the president than the prince. – Bloomberg 

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin spoke on Wednesday, the Egyptian presidency said, to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine. – Reuters 

Herb Keinon writes: First and foremost, however, Israel wants Turkey to kick Hamas out of the country. Turkey has hosted a Hamas office, where attacks against Israelis are believed to have been planned. It continues to host senior Hamas leaders. It turns a blind eye to Hamas money laundering, and has provided Hamas members with passports. – Jerusalem Post 

Danny Makki writes: Syria provided Russia with a theater for operations and weapons testing, in addition to serving as a military base for both their airpower and navy in a strategic location on the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. Going forward, Syria will likely continue to struggle economically due to the consequences of the war. Despite the suffering and hardship this will no doubt create for Syrians, for the foreseeable future, Damascus’ strategy is likely to remain sticking as closely as possible to Moscow. – Middle East Institute 

Korean Peninsula

South Koreans elected Yoon Suk-yeol as president on Wednesday, installing a conservative who promises a tougher stance on North Korea and closer ties with the U.S. on regional affairs. – Wall Street Journal 

North Korea will launch a number of reconnaissance satellites in coming years to provide real-time information on military actions by the United States and its allies, state media on Thursday reported leader Kim Jong Un as saying. – Reuters 

The U.S. military has increased surveillance and reconnaissance collection in the Yellow Sea and heightened its ballistic missile defence readiness after a “significant increase” in North Korean missile testing, the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Editorial: Mr. Yoon and the U.S. should be prepared for some heavier weather from the North, especially when the U.S is preoccupied with Russia’s attempt to conquer Ukraine. That means reinforcing deterrence in the first instance and maintaining a united policy along with Japan. The Biden Administration has a chance to establish even closer ties with a stalwart ally in Northeast Asia. – Wall Street Journal 

Riley Walters writes: All in all, a more conservative approach to South Korea’s foreign policy should be warmly welcomed by members of the Quad. It’s important that Washington now take the appropriate steps necessary to ensure its working relationship with Seoul continues in lockstep — not just on defense matters but also on the growing economic concerns in the region. […]Yoon’s victory presents the Biden administration with a chance to work more closely with South Korea. It’s important that President Biden doesn’t allow this opportunity to go to waste. – The Hill 


Concern has grown among human-rights groups that the United Nations is deferring to Beijing in the organization’s response to China’s campaign to forcibly assimilate ethnic minorities in the country’s Xinjiang region. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States called on China on Wednesday to ensure that a planned visit by U.N. human rights chief Michele Bachelet includes “unhindered and unsupervised access” to all areas of the Xinjiang region to investigate treatment of Muslim Uyghurs. – Reuters 

Moves by U.S.-led NATO have pushed tension between Russia and Ukraine to a “breaking point”, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

China could be the first to capitalize on Russia’s untouchable energy and raw materials following the U.S. decision on Tuesday to ban the import of oil, natural gas and coal from the country. – Newsweek 

Seth Cropsey writes: Far from accepting independent Russian action, China is counting on Russian failure to accelerate the satisfaction of its boundless appetite. That will create two blocs, not three. On the one side will stand the U.S. and its allies, on the other China and its affiliates and satellites. War between the two is all but inevitable. The U.S. must take note: Triangulation against China is impossible with Russia in an abject state of economic dependence. The large strategic issue in the Ukraine war is the possibility of China’s domination of Eurasia. – Wall Street Journal 

Michael Schuman writes: The question now is: How does Xi react? The Ukrainian government has appealed directly to China to use its influence with Putin to end the hostilities. As far as we know, Beijing has remained noncommittal. […]Perhaps the most lasting outcome of Putin’s war will be defining China’s role in the world. – The Atlantic 


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s national governing party is set to remain in power in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, according to early election results released on Thursday, continuing the party’s record of repeated success at the polls despite mounting economic hardship. – New York Times 

A summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) due to be held later this month has been postponed and organisers will seek a new date, Cambodia’s foreign minister told Reuters on Wednesday. – Reuters 

No matter who wins in any future war between Taiwan and China, it will be a “miserable victory”, Taiwan Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Thursday, adding it was best if everyone avoided conflict. – Reuters 

Australia will boost its defence forces by some 30 percent by 2040, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday, describing it as the country’s largest military build-up in peacetime. – Agence France-Presse 

Hamid Mir writes: A top Indian official recently taunted Ukraine for selling weapons to Pakistan. Yet Imran Khan is also appeasing the Indians by selling out Kyiv. Perhaps President Biden has hurt the prime minister’s ego by not paying enough attention to him — but this is hardly a reason for undermining Pakistan’s national interests. Khan is not only standing with Putin, but he is also effectively supporting India, which punished Ukraine for its principled stand on Kashmir. – Washington Post 


Photographs from Planet Labs PBC, an American firm, and other researchers appear to show a large expanse of flooded land north of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. In a pair of before and after images, taken on Feb. 22 and Feb. 28, the swath of territory becomes significantly more sodden. – Washington Post 

Some officials trying to advance talks between Russia and Ukraine to end the war are seeing positions shift ever so slightly in Moscow and Kyiv, but a huge gap remains to be bridged to stop the bloodshed in a conflict about to enter its third week. – Washington Post 

As Russia’s assault on Ukraine enters its second week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has shifted from rallying world leaders — who have levied historic economic and financial sanctions against Russia — to shaming them for not doing more to hasten the war’s end. – Washington Post 

Western officials say the most vulnerable could be those who aren’t members of NATO or the European Union, and thus alone and unprotected — including Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova and Russia’s neighbor Georgia, both of them formerly part of the Soviet Union — along with the Balkan states of Bosnia and Kosovo. – Associated Press 

Ukraine will repatriate troops and equipment, including helicopters, involved in U.N. peacekeeping missions in Africa and Europe to bolster defences at home in the face of Russia’s invasion, a U.N. official said. – Reuters 

Germany will certainly not send warplanes to Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday after the United States rejected an offer by Poland to transfer its Russian-made MiG-29 jets to a U.S. base in Germany. – Reuters 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday said he told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a call that Canada will send Ukraine another shipment of highly-specialized military equipment. – Reuters 

The Ukrainian government is preparing for the potential need to move its data and servers abroad if Russia’s invading forces push deeper into the country, a senior cybersecurity official told Reuters on Wednesday. – Reuters 

The topic of Ukraine entering into the European Union is “not for tomorrow”, said French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune, as EU leaders gathered in France to discuss the crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

Russia and Belarus are edging close to default given the massive sanctions imposed against their economies by the United States and its allies over the war in Ukraine, the World Bank’s chief economist, Carmen Reinhart, told Reuters. – Reuters 

Ukraine said on Wednesday there was a danger of a radiation leak at the Chernobyl nuclear power station after electricity was cut off to the plant, but the U.N. nuclear watchdog saw “no critical impact on security”. – Reuters 

While U.S. and British bans on Russian oil increase the pressure on Europe to follow suit, the continent’s dependence on Russia for energy makes an immediate embargo much more difficult. Still, some officials say it is the only way to stop pouring billions in oil and gas revenue into President Vladimir Putin’s coffers, despite the near certainty of record inflation worsening. – Associated Press 

Germany has rejected a complete ban on Russian gas and oil imports over Russia invading Ukraine, but voices are growing louder for Berlin to ditch its economic imperative to take a moral stand. – Agence France-Presse 

Germany has emerged as the main roadblock to broaden European Union sanctions against Russia by targeting the country’s biggest bank and its energy sector. – Bloomberg  

The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia are meeting on Thursday in the highest-level contacts since Moscow’s invasion — but are expected to remain far apart on steps to end the war between the two countries. – Financial Times 

A top Ukrainian official said on Wednesday that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has survived more than a dozen assassination attempts since the Russian invasion began. – Business Insider 

The United States has seen indications that Russia’s military in its assault on Ukraine is using so-called dumb bombs that are unguided and greatly increase the risk of missing targets, a senior U.S. defense official said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Editorial: On Wednesday U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin formally nixed the MiG transfer to Ukraine. The failure of Team Biden to back up Warsaw is a failure of U.S. leadership. […]As Mr. Putin’s frustration grows, he is bombing cities, and Wednesday bombed a maternity hospital. The death toll is rising. As he escalates, will he use chemical weapons or tactical nukes? Will NATO refuse to respond then because it fears World War III? The MiG mistake may let Mr. Putin believe his threats will make NATO stand down. – Wall Street Journal 

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes: Nonetheless, the crisis the democracies collectively face now is the most dangerous they have confronted since the Berlin Wall came down. We have a right to more than politics as usual from our elected officials. And as citizens, we have an obligation not to let our attention flag. We cannot treat the torment of Ukraine as just one more media sensation that we allow to fade away. – Washington Post 

Quill Robinson writes: An overreliance on renewables and an irrational rejection of nuclear power created a nightmare in Germany, and some Democrats want to import that disaster. Rejecting these policies is the only way we can guarantee our energy security and ensure that the next generation can live the American dream. – Washington Examiner 

Richard Gowan writes: With the Security Council facing a period of increasing fragmentation and paralysis, the United States and its allies will need to see what parts of the UN system they can still use to limit international instability. The Ukrainian conflict marks the most severe test for multilateralism since the end of the Cold War, and the full scale of its impact on international diplomacy is still unclear. But it may still be possible to preserve significant parts of the UN system to face future crises. – Foreign Affairs 


Militiamen have killed 18 civilians who had sought refuge in a church compound in eastern Congo, a witness and a local human rights groups said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Mali said it would investigate the disappearance of several Mauritanians on its territory, which has caused a diplomatic row between the two West African countries. – Reuters 

Stephen Smith writes: Fortunately for the French, their 2,400 remaining soldiers in Mali, who are now packing up to leave, are based some 650 miles northeast of Bamako, which means the “crocodiles’ swamp” in Bambara, the most widely spoken language in Mali. On the main French base in Gao, a monument erected in the center of the staging ground commemorates the 54 French soldiers killed in action since 2013. There is only enough space left to enter one more name, and the French must now hope that it will remain empty. – Foreign Affairs 

Latin America

Upwards of 400 Cubans, many holding passports and plane tickets, gathered at Panama’s embassy in Havana on Wednesday protesting new visa requirements that hinder those in a growing wave of migrants hoping to pass through the Central American nation and north to the United States. – Reuters 

Honduran security forces arrested a former police chief Wednesday after he was on the run for several months, wanted by the United States on drug-trafficking charges, a judicial spokesman said. – Reuters 

The United States has barred former Ecuadorean President Abdala Bucaram from entering the country, citing his alleged involvement in corruption, including accepting bribes and stealing public funds, the State Department said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

The U.S. government on Wednesday barred nine Nicaraguan lawmakers, officials and judges from entry into the United States, accusing them of undermining democracy in the Central American country, the State Department said. – Reuters 

Argentina’s Lower House President Sergio Massa agreed on Wednesday to change the bill that underpins the government’s $45 billion agreement with the International Monetary Fund in exchange for the opposition to support it. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: It isn’t clear Venezuela can even produce much more oil quickly given how Mr. Maduro has used the national oil company as a political cash cow. […]Not-so-grand U.S. strategists imagine they can pull Venezuela from this axis, but it’s unlikely. More probable is that Mr. Maduro will pocket concessions on sanctions to consolidate his political power in return for releasing the other Americans. Other countries will be emboldened to grab more Americans as bargaining chips. Taking the foot off the neck of U.S. oil producers makes more sense than appeasing global despots. – Wall Street Journal 

United States

Pressure is building on the Biden administration to begin unwinding sanctions on Venezuela after President Nicolas Maduro freed two American prisoners and promised to resume negotiations with his opponents. – Associated Press 

The United States is rapidly processing requests from Americans to export firearms and ammunition to Ukraine, the U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Three checkered oil regimes that President Joe Biden and past U.S. leaders have spectacularly snubbed — Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran — are now targets of U.S. outreach as global fuel prices reach jarring levels during the Ukraine crisis. – Associated Press  


More than two dozen Internet experts on Thursday proposed creating an international committee that could impose targeted sanctions against Russian military and propaganda websites without knocking ordinary civilian sites offline. – Washington Post 

The Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a rule Wednesday that would impose mandatory reporting for companies around cybersecurity. Commissioners voted 3-1 to issue the proposal, which could be completed after the agency receives and analyzes feedback from the public. – Wall Street Journal 

With some of its key recommendations now law — such as the creation of the Office of the National Cyber Director in the White House — the remnant of the congressionally created panel is turning its attention to tracking how those ideas are implemented, while studying some of the issues it didn’t get to fully examine before releasing its final report. – CyberScoop 

Citing the need for the U.S. government to address security issues with cryptocurrencies, as well as their role in the overall financial system, President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday on “responsible innovation” for digital assets. – CyberScoop 

On Feb. 25, a notorious ransomware group known as Conti expressed support for Russia as the country invaded Ukraine. It turned out to be a bad idea: days later, a massive trove of the gang’s secrets was leaked. – Bloomberg 

Twitter Inc. has launched a version of its social media service for the Tor internet browser, a move that could help keep user activity and information secure from potential Russian surveillance given crackdowns on free speech in the country. – Bloomberg 

Nearly two dozen American companies involved with liquefied natural gas production were attacked by hackers in early February – two weeks prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Fox News has learned. – Fox News 

Jason Blessing writes: So far, cyber operations have been “the dog that didn’t bark.” But the day could come when Russia uses cyber operations to give conventional forces a temporary edge or to retaliate against those supporting Ukraine. […]Will militaries convince themselves that cyber has little use early on in an invasion, or will they learn from Russia’s mistakes to better synchronize cyber operations with conventional ones? My money is on the latter, and I’d be willing to bet that Beijing is already studying hard. – The Hill 

Jason Healey writes: Third, preventing escalation requires military and intelligence leaders to understand and respect cyber capabilities. […]This will hopefully continue to be true for weeks or even years. But the world is in the first few decades of an information age that will continue for a long time. The existential stakes of cyber conflict rise as more countries become more digitized and more reliant on vulnerable information technology. – War on the Rocks 


The Pentagon on Wednesday pulled the plug on the idea of NATO members providing Soviet-built MiG-29 combat jets to Ukraine. The about-face from earlier support of getting planes to Ukraine came after days of intense lobbying by Ukraine for such aircraft and a spat between the U.S. and Poland over how such a deal might unfold. The incident marked the first significant tension within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as it provides support to Ukraine to fend off Russian forces. – Wall Street Journal 

A federal spending package unveiled this week would give the U.S. Navy significantly more funding for ships and aircraft, after many lawmakers complained the Navy didn’t request enough money last spring. – Defense News 

The United States will reposition two Patriot air defence batteries to Poland, and Germany and the Netherlands are planning to deploy their own Patriots to Slovakia. – Janes