Fdd's overnight brief

March 14, 2022

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


At least 35 people were killed and 134 injured on Sunday when a barrage of Russian missiles slammed into a military facility in western Ukraine about 15 miles from the border with Poland, Ukrainian officials said. It was the closest attack thus far to NATO’s border and an ominous expansion of Russia’s targeting. – Washington Post 

The United States and its allies have intelligence that Russia may be preparing to use chemical weapons against Ukraine, U.S. and European officials said Friday, as Moscow sought to invigorate its faltering military offensive through increasingly brutal assaults across multiple Ukrainian cities. – Washington Post 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine risks fueling inflation and sapping growth world-wide, but a handful of nations are in line for an export windfall thanks to soaring energy and commodity prices. – Wall Street Journal 

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 

Russian prosecutors have issued warnings to Western companies in Russia, threatening to arrest corporate leaders there who criticize the government or to seize assets of companies that withdraw from the country, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal 

A Russian airstrike on a Ukrainian military training center close to the Polish border threw into sharp relief the hazards of the Western push to deliver arms support to Kyiv while avoiding direct conflict with a nuclear adversary. – Wall Street Journal 

Brent Renaud, who with his brother, Craig, formed a Peabody Award-winning documentary film team that drew attention to human suffering, often working with major news organizations like The New York Times, was fatally shot in Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv, on Sunday. He was 50. – New York Times 

Russia asked China to give it military equipment and support for the war in Ukraine after President Vladimir V. Putin began a full-scale invasion last month, according to U.S. officials. – New York Times 

Russian forces stepped up their campaign of bombardments aimed at devastating Ukraine’s cities and towns on Saturday, as the White House announced it was sending an additional $200 million in arms and equipment to help Ukraine, defying Moscow. – New York Times  

More than two weeks into a war he expected to dominate in two days, Vladimir Putin is projecting anger, frustration at his military’s failures, and a willingness to cause even more violence and destruction in Ukraine, in the assessment of U.S. intelligence officials. – Associated Press 

Russia may default on its debts in the wake of unprecedented sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, but that would not trigger a global financial crisis, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Sunday. – Reuters 

Russia sees no reason for United Nations peacekeepers to be sent to Ukraine, RIA news agency quoted the Russian foreign ministry as saying. – Reuters 

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the green light on Friday for up to 16,000 volunteers from the Middle East to be deployed alongside Russian-backed rebels to fight in Ukraine, doubling down an invasion that the West says has been losing momentum. – Reuters 

A fourth round of talks is expected Monday between Ukrainian and Russian officials to discuss getting food, water, medicine and other desperately needed supplies to cities and towns under fire, among other issues, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said. – Associated Press 

Russia has already lost access to almost half of its reserves and sees more risks to President Vladimir Putin’s war chest due to increased pressure from the West on China, said Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. – Bloomberg  

There are currently no indications of an imminent Russian attack with chemical weapons according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, but officials continue to monitor the matter closely. – The Hill 

Editorial: No one wants a broader war. But as Russia escalates, Mr. Biden and NATO had better be prepared to fight one. A reckless or desperate Mr. Putin may give them no choice. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: The aim isn’t to seize this wealth because it feels good. The point is that certain Russian political and business elites became wealthy by supporting Mr. Putin’s corrupt system. They shouldn’t have the run of the democratic world that their Kremlin patron is threatening with nuclear weapons while he murders Ukrainian civilians. – Wall Street Journal 

Matt Bai writes: If he does, count on this: Our much-needed sense of unity will be shattered overnight. Republicans will scream that Biden is the new Neville Chamberlain, while internationalists in the president’s party will complain that he walked away from human rights. In that event, though, Biden will have checked Russian aggression without letting NATO get drawn into another world war. History tells us that in a showdown between nuclear powers, that’s what leadership is. – Washington Post 

Colbert King writes: Yes, Russia’s nuclear capabilities remain a threat. But nuclear posturing cannot save Russia from the destructive course set by Putin. Ukraine and Ukrainians are now bearing the brunt, tragically and devastatingly. But maternity wards, homes, farms, bridges and factories will be rebuilt. There’s no stopping that. The United States and the West must hold firm. As with past Russian tyrants, a day of reckoning will come for Vladimir Putin. – Washington Post 

John R. Deni writes: So although a coup in Moscow could bring an end to Russia’s disastrous war in Ukraine, a new ruler or regime would face the same domestic political incentives and would likely end up behaving in similar ways. – Wall Street Journal 

Michael Medved writes: Transfixed by the towering figure of his czarist idol, Mr. Putin remains a little man longing to be a giant. But senseless killing and an unprovoked war disrupting millions of lives won’t secure a monumental place in history and, as British author Douglas Murray observes, no one will confuse “Vlad the Mad” with Peter the Great. – Wall Street Journal 

Juliana Geran Pilon writes: Placed in its historical context, this myth of antifascism, anti-Nazism and anti-Zionism is far more than rhetoric. In Mr. Putin’s hands, we see its brutality, to which the world appears to be awakening. – Wall Street Journal 

Bartle Bull and Douglas A. Ollivant write: An insurgency in Ukraine would present a decisive challenge to any Russian occupying force. The question is whether there is an escape for Russia from this historical precedent, whether through means ancient—overwhelming terror against civilians—or modern—use of social media, or creation of new alliances. Regardless, the U.S. will want to start planning for a potential long insurgency as in Afghanistan in the 1980s. – Wall Street Journal 

Tunku Varadarajan writes: So far, the most significant Russian bank to be fully blocked is VTB, the country’s second-largest. But it’s only half the size of Sberbank. Blocking the latter would beggar the Russian people, which may be why full blocking sanctions haven’t been imposed. – Wall Street Journal 

Holman W. Jenkins Jr writes: The Biden administration and Western allies have reacted till now. It’s time to get more ambitious. They are missing opportunities to pick up the reins instead of leaving them in Mr. Putin’s hands. – Wall Street Journal 

Ludovic Hood writes: This moment calls for decisive action, well-planned and calibrated to avoid a shooting war. Politicians must cast aside straw-man arguments and what-if scenarios and make clear to Mr. Putin his aggression must end. – Wall Street Journal 

Stephen Kinzer writes: Americans are impatient by nature. We want quick solutions, even to complex problems. That makes killing a foreign leader seem like a good way to end a war. Every time we have tried it, though, we’ve failed — whether or not the target falls. Morality and legality aside, it doesn’t work. – Politico  

Paul Scharre writes: Putin has made a terrible blunder in invading Ukraine. The United States should not commit its own by stumbling into war. – Defense One 

Noah Rothman writes: The sound of dissent arising from the streets is muted amid the terrified screams of the brutalized and oppressed. The market has been tamed, and the Russian people have been rendered placid and governable once more. This is the “greatness” Russians supposedly longed for. Now they have it. – Commentary Magazine 


The U.S. won’t negotiate exemptions to Ukraine-related sanctions on Russia to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and could try to strike a separate accord excluding Moscow, a senior U.S. official said, a diplomatic effort complicated by an Iranian missile attack on Iraq that sent American troops rushing for shelter. – Wall Street Journal 

Russian demands that a revised nuclear agreement with Iran shield it from sanctions imposed because of its war in Ukraine halted efforts to revive the deal on Friday, just as negotiators said they had all but finalized the agreement. – New York Times  

Each outburst of anger underlines just what Tehran is grappling with, from climate change to decaying infrastructure and rising poverty, as it battles to revive its heavily sanctioned economy and keep a lid on simmering discontent. – Financial Times 

An Iranian missile attack near an American consulate in northern Iraq drew bipartisan congressional rebuke on Sunday, with several representatives saying the United States should immediately withdraw from ongoing nuclear talks in Vienna. – Algemeiner 

The U.S. seizure of Iranian tankers in recent months has not stopped sanctions-hit Tehran from increasing oil exports, Iran’s oil minister was quoted as saying on Saturday. – Reuters  

Russia’s envoy to the Iran nuclear talks said on Friday that the conclusion of the negotiations was not only dependent on Moscow and other parties still had additional concerns. – Reuters 

Iran has suspended talks with regional rival Saudi Arabia, a website affiliated to Iran’s top security body reported on Sunday, without giving a reason for the decision that comes as a fifth round of negotiations was due to start this week. – Reuters 

Iran’s foreign ministry on Sunday condemned Saudi Arabia’s execution of 81 men the previous day as a “violation of basic human rights principles and international law,” Iranian state media reported. – Reuters 

The U.K., France and Germany warned on Saturday that last-minute Russian demands for protection from sanctions could sink a nuclear deal with Iran that is ready to be sealed. – Politico  

Tehran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian will head to Moscow on Tuesday for talks, his ministry says, days after negotiations on an Iran nuclear deal broke down in the wake of new Russian demands. – Times of Israel  

The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that Iran will threaten Americans — both directly and via proxy attacks — and that Tehran remains committed to developing networks inside the U.S., according to the intelligence community’s 2022 Annual Threat Assessment, published Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). – CBS News 

Editorial: But the deal won’t stop Iran from pursuing, or getting, a nuclear weapon. Iran could continue to make progress at secret sites that are excluded from international inspectors as it waits for the deal to expire. Meanwhile, it will be able to sell oil and cut deals with Russia and Europe to finance its imperialism. – Wall Street Journal 

Bobby Ghosh writes: For their part, Iran is left in the awkward position of being abandoned by the very allies it had hoped to abandon. Reluctant to blame Russia, Tehran is claiming the U.S. is responsible for the suspension of the negotiations. Nice try. – Bloomberg 

Amos Harel writes: Iran’s claim of responsibility for this weekend’s missile launches at Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, revealed a bit about the war of drones, missiles and cyber that the Islamic Republic and Israel have been waging for a long time. – Haaretz 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: For Iran, the US and Israel are both enemies, and Tehran is part of the “resistance” against both countries. If Iran can claim it has struck at both, it gets to claim it has struck two for the price of one. – Jerusalem Post  

Jonathan Greenblatt writes: As the world rightly focuses on Putin’s unholy obliteration of Ukraine, we cannot allow ourselves to be inattentive to other threats including those posed by Iran. A nuclear deal may be imminent, but let’s ensure there are parallel tracks to pressure this regime on its unabashed antisemitism, terrorism and abhorrent human rights record. The world expects no less of us. – Medium 


Following the American exit from Afghanistan, China’s move to claim the country’s vast mineral wealth is centered on a mountain south of Kabul. – Wall Street Journal 

Last year, the three Afghan aviators served in the elite Special Mission Wing of the Afghan Air Force. Trained by Americans to fight the Taliban from the air, they were some of the Afghan military’s most elite troops. – New York Times  

Without the backing of a recognized government or money to keep the lights on, Afghanistan’s embassy to the United States is shutting down, State Department officials said on Friday. – New York Times 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday that talks with the Taliban on operating the Kabul airport were still underway, a day after he met acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in southern Turkey – Reuters 

On the sidelines of a summit in Turkey, Qatar acted as host for a face-to-face meeting on Friday between the Taliban-appointed foreign minister and an American diplomat for Afghanistan, according to reports from Qatar. – Associated Press 

An Afghan evacuee who supported U.S. troops overseas and entered this country through southern Indiana’s Camp Atterbury has enlisted into the Indiana National Guard. – Associated Press 


The leaders of Greece and Turkey held talks over lunch in Istanbul on Sunday in a rare meeting between the neighboring countries, which have been at odds over maritime and energy issues, the status of Aegean islands and migration. – Associated Press 

Turkey and Armenia have agreed to press ahead with efforts to establish diplomatic relations “without conditions” and continue the normalization efforts that could lead to the reopening of their shared borders for trade, their foreign ministers said Saturday. – Associated Press 

Turkey hopes Russia will not take a negative stance during talks to revive a 2015 Iran nuclear deal after a last-minute demand by Moscow forced talks to pause, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday. – Reuters 


As the West squeezes Russia’s economy over its war in Ukraine, Israel says it is working to prevent Moscow’s oligarchs, some of whom also hold Israeli passports, from showing up and turning the country into a haven for sanctions evasion. – Washington Post 

A top Ukrainian adviser and an Israeli official on Saturday pushed back against a media report suggesting Israel tried to nudge Ukraine into caving to Russian demands during talks. – Reuters 

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday condemned Russia’s conflict with Ukraine and urged a diplomatic resolution, as Jerusalem continued mediation efforts between the warring parties. – Algemeiner  

Israel’s defense establishment has raised the alert level in northern Israel, following an attack on Damascus widely believed to have been perpetrated by Israel. – Arutz Sheva 

A massive spending package passed by Congress and signed into law last week includes a commitment to back the two-state solution and establishment of a Palestinian state. – Arutz Sheva 

The head of the Shin Bet domestic security agency warned the FBI and the Pentagon of tensions in Jerusalem escalating to a full-fledged round of fighting between Israel and the Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan, Ynet has learned on Sunday. – Ynet 

The government will allow Ukrainians with a relative in Israel into the country, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced Sunday, marking a shift in policy. – Jerusalem Post 

Palestinian Authority officials on Sunday warned against attempts by Jews to “storm” the Aqsa Mosque compound during Jewish holidays, saying that would trigger a “religious war.” – Jerusalem Post 

Russia has been open to holding negotiations with Ukraine in Jerusalem, a senior diplomatic source said on Saturday, soon after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on the phone. – Reuters 

Jerusalem is a constructive place to hold ceasefire negotiations with Ukraine and Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters on Saturday as he gave a positive boost to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s efforts to mediate an end to the war. – Reuters 

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu launched a scathing attack on world powers who are continuing to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran — even after the Islamic Republic fired missiles toward the US consulate in Iraqi Kurdistan. – Times of Israel  

Israel is not doing enough to support Ukraine by providing defensive aid, absorbing refugees, and taking a clear stance against Russia, Ukrainian envoy to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said Friday, accusing Israel of being “afraid” of Moscow. – Times of Israel  

Following Amnesty International’s recent report that accused Israel of “apartheid” in its treatment of Palestinians, the group’s USA director appeared to go a step further on Wednesday, suggesting to a Women’s National Democratic Club audience that the bulk of American Jews do not want Israel to be a Jewish state, but rather “a safe Jewish space” based on “core Jewish values.” – Jewish Insider  

In another step toward strengthening ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, the first agreement of its kind for academic cooperation was signed between the Younes and Suraya Nazarian Library of the University of Haifa and the National Library and National Archives of the United Arab Emirates. – Jerusalem Post  

Israel can play an important role in mediation between Ukraine and Russia, Advisor to Ukraine’s defense minister Markiyan Lubkivskyi said on Friday. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel has offered to serve as a go-between with Russia and the West as the U.S. and Europe scramble to reinforce Ukraine’s resistance against Moscow’s unprecedented assault. There’s little hope that Israel can achieve significant breakthroughs with Russia, but the offer represents an about-face for Jerusalem, which initially sought to maintain neutrality in the conflict. – The Hill 


Iran claimed responsibility Sunday for a barrage of ballistic missiles that hit northern Iraq just after midnight, striking several kilometers from a U.S. compound and drawing sharp condemnation from the Iraqi and U.S. capitals. – Washington Post 

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday condemned Iran’s ballistic missile attack on Iraq’s northern Kurdish regional capital of Erbil, and said Washington was working to help Iraq get missile defense capabilities to defend itself. – Reuters 

Tehran had warned Iraqi authorities many times that its territory should not be used by third parties to lead attacks against Iran, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia put to death 81 people who had been convicted of crimes including murders, rape, arms smuggling and links to terrorist groups, in the largest known mass execution in the history of the kingdom. – Wall Street Journal 

Saudi Arabia and its allies, with their local proxies trying to hold their ground and with Washington having scaled back support for the conflict, are struggling to turn the tide here, stepping up aerial bombing and missile strikes. – Wall Street Journal 

A Saudi blogger who was flogged in a public square after expressing liberal views on the internet and whose case became a lightening rod for international criticism of the kingdom’s intolerance for dissent was released from prison on Friday, his wife and son wrote on Twitter. – New York Times 

On March 3, 2022, the U.S. monthly The Atlantic published a lengthy article by Graeme Wood on Saudi Arabia, which included excerpts from two interviews he had held with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. A full transcript of the interviews published in Saudi papers reveals that The Atlantic had reported only a small part of the statements made by Bin Salman in the interviews, making no mention at all of his comments on several topics. Among these topics were the place of Wahhabi Islam in Saudi Arabia; the kingdom’s position on Iran and the nuclear agreement with it, and Saudi Arabia’s relations with Israel. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Middle East & North Africa

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine dominates world attention. But with less global scrutiny, Putin is also busy advancing Russia’s presence in the Middle East and Africa — an expansion that military and civilian leaders view as another, if less immediate, threat to security in the West. – Associated Press 

Thousands of supporters of a hardline secularist Tunisian party protested on Sunday against President Kais Saied for his march towards one-man rule and failure to avert an economic crisis, showing the increasingly broad opposition to his actions. – Reuters 

The new leader of Islamic State, whose appointment the group announced on Thursday, is the brother of slain former caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to two Iraqi security officials and one Western security source. – Reuters 

Korean Peninsula

The South Korean government believes North Korea could test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as soon as this week, domestic media said, citing unidentified sources. – Reuters 

The United States imposed fresh North Korea-related sanctions on Friday, targeting Russian individuals and companies after U.S. and South Korean officials said Pyongyang had used its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system in two recent launches. – Reuters 

North Korea’s latest launches appear aimed at developing and testing technology that can be used both for spy satellites and in a massive intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of launching multiple nuclear warheads, analysts said. – Reuters 

Chinese President Xi Jinping said South Korea is a close neighbour and important partner in a congratulatory letter to South Korea’s President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, Yonhap news agency reported on Friday. – Reuters 

North Korea’s two recent ballistic missile launches were meant to test elements of its new long-range system, representing a “serious escalation”, the United States has said. – The Straits Times 

Editorial: Occurring coincidentally in the final days of the Korean campaign, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reminded the whole world — including, perhaps, a critical mass of Korean voters — that U.S.-led security alliances are far from obsolete. The U.S.-Korea bond is a case in point; the Biden administration should work with Mr. Yoon to reinvigorate it. – Washington Post 

Jean H. Lee writes: It may seem as if Mr. Kim doesn’t want to talk. But my experience tells me otherwise: The tests are intended to compel the United States to engage and ultimately to pay to keep him from using those weapons. – New York Times 


An unusual and mostly forgotten pledge Chinese President Xi Jinping signed eight years ago that China would protect Ukraine in the event of a nuclear attack is getting fresh attention following Russia’s invasion of its Eastern European neighbor. – Wall Street Journal 

The war in Ukraine is far from over, but a consensus is forming in Chinese policy circles that one country stands to emerge victorious from the turmoil: China. – New York Times 

Hong Kong police have accused UK-based rights group Hong Kong Watch of “collusion with foreign forces,” a “likely” violation of the China-imposed national security law, the group said on Monday. – Reuters 

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan plans to meet China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday and will stress the economic penalties Beijing will face if it helps Russia in its war in Ukraine, U.S. officials say. – Reuters 

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who is due to meet with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday, warned Beijing it would “absolutely” face consequences if it helped Moscow evade sweeping sanctions over the war in Ukraine. – Reuters 

Russia said on Sunday that it was counting on China to help it withstand the blow to its economy from Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine, but the United States warned Beijing not to provide that lifeline. – Reuters 

The spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington responded to media reports on Sunday that Moscow had asked Beijing for military equipment since launching its invasion of Ukraine by saying, “I’ve never heard of that.” – Reuters 

China and the United States should step up communications while managing their differences reasonably and constructively, Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday, warning against decoupling between the two countries at a time of fraught relations. – Reuters 

China’s securities regulator on Friday published draft rules on how fines for securities fraud offenses will be prioritised to compensate investors in civil cases, part of a broader push towards a U.S.-style system for initial public offerings. – Reuters 

China’s Premier Li Keqiang confirmed on Friday plans to step down after his current term expires next March. – Reuters 

Discussions between Chinese and U.S. regulators over cooperation on audit and regulation are proceeding smoothly, two sources with direct knowledge of the talks told Reuters on Friday, after a warning by the U.S. over some Chinese companies. – Reuters 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday the Ukraine situation was “disconcerting” and that it is important to support Russia and Ukraine in ceasefire talks. – Reuters 

Adrian Woolridge writes: The similarities between China and Russia are striking, from the cult of personality surrounding the top man to the deep well of cultural pride-resentment. We have learned to our cost that Putin meant it when he said that Ukraine was part of Mother Russia and that he was willing to suffer serious economic pain in order to reabsorb it. We should recognize that Xi is just as serious about Taiwan. – Bloomberg  

James Jay Carafano and Stefano Graziosi write: Instead of relying on Beijing, Brussels should therefore strive to counter Sino-Russian geopolitical pressure. It should consolidate transatlantic relations by reestablishing clear energy autonomy, strengthening its borders on land and sea, and building NATO into a stronger military stiff arm to foreign aggression. – Heritage Foundation

South Asia

One nuclear-armed state fired a cruise missile at another nuclear-armed state this week. They were not at war, and it did not start one. – New York Times  

India is exploring ways to avoid a major disruption in its supply of Russian-made weaponry amid U.S. sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tightrope walk could become more difficult due to a continuing border standoff with China. – Associated Press 

Pakistan on Saturday demanded a joint probe into a missile India said it accidentally fired into its territory, rejecting New Delhi’s decision to hold an internal inquiry into the incident and calling on the international community to play a role. – Reuters 

India has decided to temporarily relocate its embassy in Ukraine to Poland, the government said on Sunday. – Reuters 


Taiwanese personal computer maker ASUS (2357.TW) will consider its reputation and put in place a plan to “evacuate” its staff and business in Russia, Taiwan’s economy minister said on Monday, after a Ukraine minister asked it to leave the country. – Reuters 

The dollar hit a five-year high against the yen on Monday, as traders braced for the U.S. Federal Reserve to begin hiking rates, while reckoning the Bank of Japan remains dovish. – Reuters 

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited army reservists training under a new scheme to bolster war readiness on Saturday, a programme that has gotten added impetus from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, given China’s bellicosity against the island. – Reuters 

Japanese authorities ordered crypto exchanges on Monday not to process transactions involving crypto assets subject to asset-freeze sanctions against Russia and Belarus over the war in Ukraine. – Reuters 

Australia has been able to stop an “incursion” by Beijing into the Pacific islands by talking with leaders there weekly and offering vaccine aid, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday. – Reuters 

Vietnam has banned Sony’s action movie “Uncharted” from domestic distribution over a scene featuring a map that shows a disputed line declared by China to stake its claim to large parts of the South China Sea, state media reported on Saturday. – Reuters 

Australia said on Monday it was imposing new sanctions on 33 Russian oligarchs and business people, including Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich and Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller, over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

Editorial: The objective of this effort would be to deter a Chinese war on Taiwan. But considering the almost theological importance Xi puts on his conquest of Taiwanese democracy, the time to act is now. Now, just as Xi is scared and just as Western populations are pressuring their leaders to do more in the defense of democracy. – Washington Examiner 


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday asked President Biden to broaden America’s economic campaign against Russia, telling the U.S. president that more should be done to cut off Russia from international trade, according to two people familiar with the phone call. – Washington Post 

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his war in Ukraine on Feb. 24, more than two million people fled the country. One Ukrainian now enters Poland every second, a total of 1.5 million that is expected to keep rising. – Wall Street Journal

Hours after Russian missiles decimated a military base near the Polish border on Sunday, soldiers in camouflage were still being wheeled out of an overwhelmed nearby hospital on stretchers, many in so much pain they could only turn their heads to reveal eyes stricken with fear. – New York Times 

Ukraine’s energy minister said Sunday that power supply has been restored at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which Russian troops have occupied since late February. – New York Times 

A military drone that apparently flew all the way from the Ukrainian war zone over three European NATO-member states before crashing in an urban zone of the Croatian capital was armed with an explosive device, Croatia’s defense minister said Sunday. – Associated Press 

The Vatican on Saturday protested to Nicaragua over the effective expulsion of its ambassador to Managua, saying the unilateral action was unjustified and incomprehensible. – Reuters 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday that Britain would continue to pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence. – Reuters 

Arms shipments to Europe jumped amid deteriorating relations with Russia in the five years through 2021, even as the global arms trade slowed, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) think-tank said on Monday. – Reuters 

British finance minister Rishi Sunak called on more British companies on Sunday to wind down their existing investments in Russia and said new investments should be halted after President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. – Reuters 

Britain is looking at whether it can use properties owned by sanctioned individuals in the country for humanitarian purposes, housing minister Michael Gove said on Sunday.- Reuters 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russia is on the verge of attacking NATO territory after a missile a deadly Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian training center roughly 10 miles from the border with Poland, a NATO member. – Washington Examiner 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned NATO Monday that its member states would soon be attacked by Russian forces after an air strike hit a Ukrainian military base close to the Polish border. – Agence France-Presse  

Benjamin R. Teitelbaum writes: The former option, however, is probably better for the country. The decision to end Sweden’s 200-year tradition of official military non-alignment should come from a broad coalition. Yet even if the country has to be led to the alliance by a smaller majority, it would be better than the other scenario that beckons in the near term, in which political maneuvering allows an outdated minority opinion to shackle the country’s defenses as Russia grows more belligerent. – Wall Street Journal 

Farah Stockman writes: It’s a commonly held view here that Ukraine must prevail, against all odds. If Ukraine loses, Poland will likely have a brutal Russian occupation and possibly a raging insurgency on its border. Mr. Putin could turn his attention to the next bite he’s going to take out of Europe. – New York Times  


For more than a decade, Chinese companies have spent billions of dollars buying out U.S. and European miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s cobalt belt—the world’s richest source of a mineral that has become critical to the global transition to cleaner energy. Now the Chinese firms are running into trouble after a court ordered one of the largest to temporarily cede control of one of its mines. – Wall Street Journal 

Chad’s ruling military council and representatives of rebel forces met for the formal opening of peace talks on Sunday in Qatar, part of a broader diplomatic effort to halt decades of fighting and instability in the vast, faction-ridden nation. – Associated Press 

At least 53 people died in western Ethiopia after an unidentified armed group attacked a civilian convoy and its military escort in a region plagued by ethnic violence, a rights body appointed by the government said on Sunday. – Reuters 

Ethiopia’s government said on Saturday it would act against the perpetrators after a video appeared on social media showing armed men, some in military uniforms, burning civilians to death in the country’s west. – Reuters 

France will still give aerial military support to Malian troops battling an Islamist insurgency in the Sahel even after its counter-terrorism mission has withdrawn, but only where Russian fighters are not present, the force’s commander said on Friday. – Reuters 

African countries may be hit hard by any continuing halt to Ukraine’s grain exports caused by the war, a report from Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) said on Friday. – Reuters 

At least 17 people were killed and dozens wounded in the Jebel Moon area of Darfur on Thursday in a militia attack, activists said. – Reuters 

At least 749 civilians died in fighting in regions in northern Ethiopia since July last year, including extrajudicial killings by all sides involved in the conflict, a government-appointed rights group said on Friday. – Reuters 

Latin America

The Biden administration’s interest in regaining access to Venezuelan oil is facing stiff opposition at home over concerns it would prop up an autocratic regime that is a close ally of Russia. – Wall Street Journal 

Gustavo Petro, the front-runner for Colombia’s May presidential election, secured the nomination of the left-wing Historic Pact coalition on Sunday during voting in primaries. – Reuters 

Guatemala on Friday received its first arrivals of Ukrainian families fleeing their homeland since Russia’s invasion of its neighbor last month, authorities said. – Reuters 

Chilean leftist Gabriel Boric was sworn in as president on Friday, vowing to listen to all sides while warning of the challenges ahead, as the Andean country marked the sharpest shift in its politics since the return to democracy three decades ago after the bloody dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. – Reuters 

Venezuela’s oil output could rise by at least 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) if the United States authorizes requests by state-run PDVSA’s partners to trade Venezuelan crude, the country’s petroleum chamber said on Friday. – Reuters 

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday slammed as “slanderous” a European Parliament resolution expressing concern about his antagonism towards critical media, accusing EU lawmakers of siding with his adversaries. – Reuters 

Its once-flourishing oil industry decimated by corruption, poor management and US sanctions, Venezuela’s vast crude reserves are unlikely to make up for banned Russian oil even if Washington eases measures against Caracas, experts say. – Agence France-Presse 

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Venezuela might come up with more oil to sell to the U.S. if Mr. Maduro’s Asian buyers begin drawing their oil from the discounted Russian pool. In that case Venezuela will happily sell its excess inventory to the U.S. But what wisdom is there in refusing Russian crude and replacing it with oil from one of the most dangerous Russian proxies in the Western Hemisphere? – Wall Street Journal 

North America

For the better part of next week, residents in Canada’s Northwest Territories may see a greater military presence and aircraft whirring about. – New York Times 

The Bahamas has ordered its financial institutions to halt all transactions with Russian entities that have been put under sanction by Western nations, the country’s financial regulators said in a statement. – Reuters 

Bermuda says it is suspending certification of Russian planes licenced in the British overseas territory due to sanctions on Moscow, likely impacting hundreds of Russian commercial aircraft around the world. – Agence France-Presse  

United States

The war in Ukraine has prompted the biggest rethinking of American foreign policy since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, infusing the United States with a new sense of mission and changing its strategic calculus with allies and adversaries alike. – New York Times 

The State Department says it’s paying more than $2 million per month to provide 24-hour security to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a former top aide, both of whom face “serious and credible” threats from Iran. – Associated Press 

Andy Kessler writes: It’s time for the U.S. to figure out where China or Russia might have even a tiny edge—pharma, genetics, artificial intelligence, cyberwarfare—and create Operation Warp Speed-like programs to stimulate these industries through orders and prepayments, not handouts. – Wall Street Journal 

Michael Beckley and Hal Brands write: Even an economically devastated, militarily constrained Russia will retain the ability to make geopolitical trouble. China will be a formidable rival for decades, even if it is prevented from overturning the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. The free-world offensive during the Korean War was an emergency program, but it created enduring strategic advantages that largely determined the Cold War’s outcome. The Ukraine crisis can have a similar effect in another long twilight struggle if it motivates the United States and its allies to get serious about defending the world order that has served them so well. – Foreign Affairs 


Putin’s crackdown has accelerated in recent weeks. Facebook and Twitter have been knocked offline by the government for millions of Russians. News outlets that survived state harassment for years shut down this month in the face of a new law imposing prison time of up to 15 years for spreading “fake” news — understood to be anything contradicting the Kremlin’s depiction of a “special military operation” unfolding with precision in Ukraine. – Washington Post 

People around the world are using a new website to circumvent the Kremlin’s propaganda machine by sending individual messages about the war in Ukraine to random people in Russia. – Wall Street Journal 

China has experienced continuous cyberattacks since February in which internet addresses in the United States have been used to seize control of Chinese computers to target Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, state news agency Xinhua said on Friday. – Reuters 

The CIA and NSA have spent years burrowing into Russia’s critical computer networks to collect intelligence — and acquire access that President Joe Biden could seize on to order destructive cyberattacks on Vladimir Putin’s regime. – Politico  

Recent U.S. and European investments in cyber defense in Ukraine are being put to the test following Russia’s invasion of the country. – The Hill 

The Senate cleared legislation Thursday evening that would make the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency a hub to receive mandatory industry reports about major cyber incidents and ransomware payments, as well as boost its budget 22% over last year. – CyberScoop 

Farhad Manjoo writes: For years, security officials in the West have worried about Russia’s hacking capabilities; Western military planners routinely hold elaborate war games to prepare for a damaging surprise attack by Russia (or, other times, China) — what the former defense secretary Leon Panetta once called a coming “cyber-Pearl Harbor.” – New York Times 


A growing number of U.S. lawmakers ratcheted up pressure on President Biden on Sunday to increase military aid to Ukraine, including sending fighter jets and air defense systems that the administration rejected last week. – Washington Post 

The United States on Saturday said it would rush up to $200 million in additional small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine, as Ukrainian officials pleaded for more equipment to defend against heavy shelling by Russian forces. – Reuters 

The U.S. Army is comfortable with the way its light tank competition is progressing and plans to award a production contract this summer, according to service acquisition and program officials. – Defense News 

Senate lawmakers finalized a $1.5 trillion spending bill late Thursday that provides $13.6 billion in new aid for Ukraine and funding stability for the Defense Department for the rest of the fiscal year. – Military Times  

Eric Fanning writes: At a time when US defense leaders are tackling Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine, while stressing the need to invest in order to stay ahead of the growing competitive threat from China, policymakers have handcuffed innovation with a new tax policy that threatens to stifle vitally needed research and development (R&D) funding. – Breaking Defense