Fdd's overnight brief

March 16, 2022

In The News


A delegation of European leaders traveled to Kyiv and met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky as Russia lobbed more missiles at the embattled capital amid heightened fighting in the city’s outskirts. – Wall Street Journal  

President Biden has repeatedly rejected the idea of more air cover for Ukraine in its war with Russia, warning that sending Polish fighter jets to Ukraine — or enforcing a no-fly zone above it — could lead to a global conflagration with a nuclear-armed foe. – Washington Post 

But despite more than a week of heavy bombardment, Ukraine’s forces in Mykolaiv have remarkably thwarted Russian advances — a major blow to the Kremlin’s apparent plans for an attack on Odessa, an economic lifeline for Ukraine as one of the largest Black Sea ports. Though Russian warships have lingered off the coast of Odessa, local officials have said the Russians are probably delaying any amphibious assault until they can get more ground support from their forces in the east. – Washington Post 

In the more than two weeks that it has been cut off from the outside world, Mariupol, the southern Ukrainian port city, has become synonymous with the horror of the Russian invasion. – Washington Post 

Russia on Tuesday announced sanctions on President Biden and several senior Democratic officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House press secretary Jen Psaki, in the latest round of ongoing economic hostilities between Washington and Moscow. – Washington Post 

The scariest site on the Internet isn’t lurking on the dark web, but hiding in plain sight at nuclearsecrecy.com. “Nukemap” lets you pick the size of a nuclear bomb, plunk it anywhere in the world and see the extent of the possible destruction. Drop a pin near Kyiv and you’ll see the plausibility of the Russian invasion of Ukraine going nuclear. – Washington Post 

There is no secret to how Russian oligarchs like Mr. Rotenberg have hidden their money. A U.S. Senate investigative report, released in 2020, found money pinballing across the globe: a company in Belize was doing business in London with a majority shareholder living in Cyprus and a bank account in Estonia, to cite one example from the report. – New York Times 

Oil tankers from around the world, including several chartered by U.S.-based companies, are continuing to transport millions of barrels of oil out of Russian ports, a top adviser to Ukraine’s president said, as he made a plea to the White House to restrict all trade in Russian oil by American companies. – New York Times  

The economic cost of Russia’s assault on Ukraine was fully exposed on Wednesday as Vladimir Putin’s sanctions-ravaged government teetered on the brink of its first international debt default since the Bolshevik revolution. – Reuters 

Officials from Ukraine and Russia are set for further talks Wednesday, negotiations that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called “difficult” but said had room for compromise. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine’s leadership was not “serious” about resolving the conflict. – Bloomberg 

A flood of anti-tank missiles sent to Ukraine has potentially changed the course of the war, putting pressure on Russia to find enough capable troops for the grueling urban combat that is now more likely. – Bloomberg 

Ratings agencies say Russia is on the verge of defaulting on government bonds following its invasion of Ukraine, with billions of dollars owed to foreigners. That prospect recalls memories of a 1998 default by Moscow that helped fuel financial disruption worldwide. – Associated Press 

New European Union sanctions against Russia on Tuesday sought to deny oligarchs their love of luxury and block Russia from cashing in on its lucrative steel exports. The United Kingdom also joined in the targeting. – Associated Press 

Russia circulated a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution Tuesday demanding protection for civilians “in vulnerable situations” in Ukraine and safe passage for humanitarian aid and people seeking to leave the country, but it make no mention of Russia’s responsibility for the war against its smaller neighbor. – Associated Press 

Russian aviation authorities have fired an official who said last week that China had refused to supply Russian airlines with aircraft parts in the wake of Western sanctions, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing sources and the official. – Reuters 

Russia’s faltering war effort in Ukraine has a new face. Garbed in combat fatigues, arm stretched out over a military map in a darkened room, Chechnya’s warlord-leader Ramzan Kadyrov announced via his Telegram channel on Sunday that he had personally joined the Russian campaign. – Financial Times 

A United Nations humanitarian agency says that since Russia invaded Ukraine, more than 1.5 million children have been forced to flee their homes, with about 55 kids becoming refugees every minute. – Newsweek 

A breakaway republic on Ukraine’s south-west border, which supports Russia and is seen as a possible staging post for Moscow’s Ukraine invasion, hosts out-of-date weaponry and reluctant fighters, experts have said. – Defense News 

David Ignatius writes: We’re at a potential tipping point now, where each side sees some advantage in a negotiated peace. Paradoxically, that’s the time when the United States should redouble its support for Ukraine, until the last guns of the Russian invaders go silent. – Washington Post  

David Von Drehle writes: Russia’s nuclear arsenal will protect it against direct military aggression. (Not that anyone is threatening to attack.) But the debacle in Ukraine is the end of Russia’s superpower status. In his obsession, Putin has revealed, unprovoked, the extent of his nation’s decline. – Washington Post 

Qin Gang writes: As a Chinese proverb goes, it takes more than one cold day to freeze three feet of ice. The long-term peace and stability of Europe relies on the principle of indivisible security. […]But as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and a responsible major country, China will continue to coordinate real efforts to achieve lasting peace. We stand ready to do whatever we can and work with other parties. Our ultimate purpose is the end of war and support regional and global stability. – Washington Post 

Anna Myroniuk writes: If there was room for mixed loyalties and convenient vagueness before, now Ukrainians are more united than ever. Kyiv cafes serve soldiers for free. Volunteers look after the elderly left in the city, cook for the territorial defense forces and make molotov cocktails. […]While waiting out another round of airstrikes on Kyiv in a shelter, I heard someone listening to a voice mail from a friend: “I will now be way more patriotic than I ever was.” – Washington Post 

Jason Willick writes: Russia was the original escalator of violence with its invasion, but U.S. intervention in the war theater itself would also be an escalation. […]That could either force a humiliating U.S. climbdown or trigger an unpredictable escalatory spiral. Biden can best keep control of the conflict not by introducing new rules but by leaving no doubt through word and deed that the three already in effect — sanctions, weapons and the inviolable NATO perimeter — will be enforced to the hilt. – Washington Post 

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: His aim in this respect, alas, might not be unrealistic. Western governments, through a series of provocations, were always reluctant to destabilize the Putin regime for the reasons that now worry the Chinese—what comes next. But realism speaks here too. As long as President Volodymyr Zelensky is alive and urging his people to fight on, Presidents Putin, Biden and Xi Jinping may be frustrated in their preferred exits from this crisis. – Wall Street Journal 

Bret Stephens writes: Bottom line: Expect him to double down. If he uses chemical weapons, as Bashar al-Assad did, or deploys a battlefield nuclear weapon, in keeping with longstanding Russian military doctrine, does he lose more than he gains? The question answers itself. He wins swiftly. He terrifies the West. He consolidates power. He suffers consequences only marginally graver than the ones already inflicted. And his fellow travelers in Beijing, Tehran and Pyongyang take note. How does the next world war begin? The same way the last one did. – New York Times 

James Stavridis writes: As of now, time is on the Russians’ side if they choose to simply grind down the Ukrainians and reduce the cities to rubble. But over a longer period, dissatisfaction at home, the coming of the spring mud and military failures will compound for Putin. I do not detect an ounce of quit in the Ukrainians, particularly in their Churchillian leader, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He will address the U.S. congress on Wednesday, and one of the topics upon which he will certainly touch are the tactical failures of the Russian military, coupled with fervent requests for more weapons and ammunition. – Bloomberg 

Josh Freed writes: The invasion of Ukraine is not an aberration. It is the start of a frightening new era that requires bold American and global democratic leadership and a long-overdue recognition that energy and security are inextricably linked. Russia and China have acted on this reality to push their authoritarian, expansionist agenda for more than a decade. – Politico 

Constanze Stelzenmüller writes: As for Russians living among us, they must be protected against bullying and hate. To those living in Russia, we should say (whether via short wave radio, low-orbit satellite communications or the Dark Web): our quarrel is solely with the war criminal in the Kremlin and the cronies that enable him. You are not our enemy. But Putin is. And he is yours as well. – Financial Times 

Anna Borshchevskaya writes: Putin for his part will never let go of his desire to challenge the idea of NATO’s collective security, and he sees Ukraine, indirectly, even as a non-NATO member, as a path towards that. He could still escalate the conflict and draw NATO in, either out of desperation of fighting an insurgency, or paradoxically after feeling emboldened if he gets a partial victory. […]No, Ukraine is not another Syria for Vladimir Putin. But rather than celebrating that Putin has already lost, the West needs to focus on how it can truly win—how to give Putin a loss he cannot come back from. – 19fortyfive 

Mason Clark, George Barros, and Kateryna Stepanenko write: With Russian forces likely unable to complete the encirclement of Kyiv or resume mobile offensive operations in northeastern Ukraine in the near future, the Russian capture of Mariupol will likely be the next key inflection in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. – Institute for the Study of War 


Russia walked back recently made demands on Washington related to the Iran nuclear deal, clearing the way for Tehran and Washington to revive the 2015 agreement, senior western diplomats said. – Wall Street Journal 

Iran has more than 3,000 ballistic missiles, many of which can reach the State of Israel, commander of the United States Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post 

The latest explosive exchanges between Israel and Iran may relate to Israel having destroyed hundreds of Iranian drones last month, according to a mix of Israeli and Lebanese reports. – Jerusalem Post 

Michael Knights writes: Baghdad should be comforted by the fact that all of these steps are reversible whenever it deems fit. In the meantime, expelling Iranian diplomats for the first time would send a powerful message that Iraq is willing to take strong action and deserves international support. Defending its sovereignty against Iran might also improve Baghdad’s leverage when the time comes to request international support for scaling back Turkish military incursions. – Washington Institute 

Danny Citrinowicz and Alex Vatanka write: That sort of powerlessness will not be relevant when it comes to relations between Israel and some of Iran’s stronger neighbors, however. The case of Turkey is telling. The IRGC will not take the chance of firing missiles into Turkey short of an open war between Iran and Turkey — an unlikely scenario. In other words, perhaps the time is ripe for Tehran to reconsider its policy of edging closer to Israel in the Levant. – Middle East Institute 

Ron Ben-Yishai writes: In the past, the Kurds in Iraq and Iran had close ties with Israeli operatives from Mossad. Therefore, it is possible to assume that the Iranian attack was an attempt to discourage the Kurds in Iran and Iraq from collaborating with Israel. […]Either way, the war between wars is expanding and escalating, and if disrupting the Iranian nuclear program was previously Israel’s top priority – now the this campaign has become equally important. – Ynet 


France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States issued a joint statement commemorating the 11th anniversary of the conflict in Syria, and condemned Russia’s role both there and in its invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters  

On March 12, 2022, Zvezda TV (Russia) aired a report about Syrian fighters volunteering to fight alongside Russia in Ukraine. The reporter explained how recruitment offices have been opened throughout Syria and how soldiers and militia fighters, many of whom have combat experience, have volunteered. The report showed men being issued rifles, bulletproof vests, and other equipment, as the reporter said that an agreement between Russia and Syria enabled currently-serving Syrian soldiers to enter the combat zone in Ukraine. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Fabrice Balanche writes: The most urgent elements of such a policy are clear. The international coalition should firmly declare that its troops will not leave the AANES until Damascus agrees to a political deal on autonomy—and even then only with serious guarantees. Otherwise, authorities in the northeast may feel compelled to seek Russian or even Iranian protection against Turkey. – Washington Institute 


Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan has said his country is ready to establish diplomatic relations and open its border with Turkey, the Turkish state-owned Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he was sending his foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, to Moscow and Kyiv this week as part of Turkey’s mediation efforts to secure a ceasefire in Ukraine. – Reuters 

A diplomatic thaw between Israel and Turkey has created challenges for Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which counts on Ankara’s support, but could also offer it a more “trustworthy” middleman to deal with the Jewish state, experts say. – Agence France-Presse 


Shots were fired towards IDF forces in clashes with Palestinian rioters near Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, the West Bank, on Tuesday night, Walla reported. Over 2,000 Jewish worshipers reportedly entered the tomb on Tuesday night. – Jerusalem Post 

The Biden administration is in “hourly contact” with Israelis over Russia’s war against Ukraine, US Ambassador Tom Nides said as he expressed satisfaction with the mediator role Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has played to help resolve the conflict. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel is not currently preparing sanctions on Moscow or Russian oligarchs, senior Israeli officials told The Times of Israel on Tuesday. – Times of Israel 

The Israeli government approved a plan on Tuesday to rapidly absorb the wave of Ukrainians who are fleeing Russia’s invasion and immigrating to the Jewish state. – Algemeiner 

Marc Schulman writes: With the war now in its third week and no clear end in sight, Israel’s position on the tightrope is becoming inexcusable. Israel will soon be forced to pick values over some of its perceived interests. If the war goes on, Israel will not be able to continue to operate El Al flights to Moscow or protect the financial interests of Jewish oligarchs indefinitely. Israel will have no choice but fully coordinate its actions with the rest of Western Democracies. – Newsweek 

Martin Oliner writes: The Saudis and the Emirates would also suffer, but the Jewish state would suffer the most. If a nuclear Iran or one of its arms, like Hamas or Hezbollah, fires a missile at Israel, its arms would be tied. That is why the missile strike on Erbil must become a rallying cry for immediate action by the US and Israel to change course and prevent that from happening. – Jerusalem Post 

Alex Nachumson writes: The Jewish State’s ultimate victory, which will ensure an end to the conflict and bring peace, will come when Israel also takes a multi-pronged approach to the war and fights on all fronts at once. This will result in breaking the will of its enemies to continue and also bring about a wide acceptance of Jewish sovereignty in this tiny sliver of land. – Arutz Sheva 

Middle East & North Africa

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is sending economic ripples across the Middle East as panic spreads about the availability and prices of essential goods such as wheat, sunflower oil and fuel, that are typically imported from the two warring countries. – Washington Post 

Boris Johnson began a visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia where he will to try to persuade the U.K.’s Gulf allies to step up oil production and ease pressure on energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended a trip to Saudi Arabia, saying “the widest coalition” is needed to end reliance on Russian oil and gas. But maintaining close ties with the Gulf kingdom is controversial among critics of its human rights record. – BBC 

Hrair Balian writes: More fundamentally, however, Lebanon’s sectarian political system is the main culprit, having created the environment in which corruption flourishes. The system allocates each of the country’s 18 minorities a fixed quota of representation in the parliament, government, and civil service, thus promoting political patronage and corruption. Short of abandoning the sectarian system, other fixes will have limited impact, but would be a good start nonetheless. – Middle East Institute 

David Gardner writes: Lines between the US and the Gulf are clogged with distrust. With grievances on both sides, relations need a reset. But it is not clear that Washington entirely gets the extent to which countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE have already diversified their economic, political and strategic relations, particularly towards China and Russia. It is doubtful they can defend themselves without western help and goodwill. But they will not be taken for granted. – Financial Times 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea test-fired an unknown projectile on Wednesday, though the launch was unsuccessful, South Korea’s military said, a stumble that Pyongyang has largely avoided in recent years. – Wall Street Journal 

North Korea sees its nuclear program as essential to regime survival, serving to deter a U.S.-led invasion. Decades of denuclearization talks, economic sanctions and diplomacy have done little to slow Pyongyang’s advance to becoming a self-declared nuclear state. – Wall Street Journal 

The USS Abraham Lincoln aicraft carrier led military exercises in the Yellow Sea, and air defence artillery at Osan air base intensified drills, U.S. forces in Asia said on Tuesday amid signs of an imminent North Korean long-range missile test. – Reuters 

John Bolton writes: South Korea can easily participate in what European theorists call in their region “variable geometry” without risking China’s ire, at least for now. And if China’s ire is aroused, Seoul should understand that tolerance for dissenting viewpoints is not one of Xi Jinping’s strong points. The one trouble spot where South Korea must step up, Chinese ire or not, is Taiwan. Tokyo understands that an attack on Taiwan is an attack on Japan, and Seoul must draw the comparable conclusion for South Korea. – The Hill 


Last year, President Xi Jinping seemed all but invincible. Now, his push to steer China away from capitalism and the West has thrown the Chinese economy into uncertainty and exposed faint cracks in his hold on power. – Wall Street Journal 

China’s support for Russia in the war in Ukraine is showing its limits as the domestic costs for President Xi Jinping start to outweigh the benefits of confronting the U.S. – Bloomberg 

Singapore’s top diplomat said he hopes China will use its “enormous influence” on Russia to help end its war with Ukraine, warning that Beijing’s decisions in the coming days and weeks could determine the future path of the global economy. – Bloomberg 

The U.S. says Russia has asked China to provide military assistance for its war in Ukraine, and that China has responded affirmatively. Both Moscow and Beijing have denied the allegation, with a Chinese spokesperson dismissing it as “disinformation.” Still, the claims have generated conjecture over how far Beijing would be willing to go in backing its “most important strategic partner,” as China’s foreign minister recently described Russia. – Associated Press 

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, says Beijing wants to avoid being impacted by U.S. sanctions over Russia’s war with Ukraine. “China is not a party to the crisis, nor does it want the sanctions to affect China,” Wang said Monday during a call with Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Albares to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. – CNBC 

Editorial: Beijing’s best interest lies in exerting pressure on Putin and redoubling its efforts to bring about a ceasefire. China may share the Russian regime’s perception of the western world. But it would not want to be on to the “wrong side of history”. In a concrete sense, as Hu Wei, a prominent Chinese academic argued in an extraordinary article this week, Beijing’s main aim should be to avoid Russia from dragging it into the war, and to act to prevent escalation. – Financial Times 

Marc A. Thiessen writes: There’s a lesson here: We need to take the words of our enemies seriously. Putin was clear about his intentions in Ukraine — but we didn’t listen. Chinese dictator Xi Jinping has been just as clear about his intentions in Taiwan. We need to listen this time, so we don’t underestimate the danger again. – Washington Post 

Kevin Rudd writes: In the Chinese political system, Mr. Xi can never be wrong. The problem for those advocating a substantive change of course on Ukraine within the system is that China’s position on Russia and Ukraine is driven from the top. Mr. Xi’s nature has never been to back down. […]Together these would make a powerful political cocktail by the 20th Party Congress this fall, where Mr. Xi seeks to ratify his rule. And were Mr. Putin himself to fall as a result of Ukraine, the political pressures on Mr. Xi would be formidable indeed. – Wall Street Journal 

Sergiy Korsunsky writes: Until recently, many believed that a new world order would be shaped by competition between the US and China. It is now clear that the question of which side to take in the battle between Ukraine and Russia will be crucial. It is time for China to make a choice. – Financial Times 

South Asia

India is in talks with Moscow about increasing oil imports from Russia in an effort to keep spiraling prices in check, India’s petroleum minister told Parliament this week. The move comes as New Delhi is also striving to preserve its relationship with Moscow, its biggest supplier of weapons, at a time when India faces an aggressive China on its borders. – New York Times 

Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said on Tuesday Islamabad rejected a statement by India’s defence minister on the accidental missile launch. – Reuters 

An accidental missile fired by India last week prompted Pakistan to prepare a retaliatory strike, people familiar with the matter said, showing how close the nuclear-armed neighbors came to blows over a potentially disastrous mistake. Pakistan had prepared to launch a similar missile to strike India but held back because an initial assessment indicated something was amiss, people familiar with the matter said. – Bloomberg 


Turkmenistan established a political dynasty Tuesday, as the authorities said the son of the Central Asian country’s leader won its presidential election after an unusual vote-counting delay. – New York Times 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce funding for rare earths refining on Wednesday, including vital components for high-tech batteries, as the nation works with its U.S. ally to diversify sources of the important minerals away from China. – Bloomberg 

Japan announced details of its export ban on semiconductors, machinery and materials against Russia, as it stays in line with U.S. and EU sanctions intended to deter President Vladimir Putin from continuing his assault on Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

Australia plans to welcome American and British nuclear submarines at her western coast “for extended periods of time” to “ensure that they can maintain and perform operations out of Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a visit to Western Australia today. – Breaking Defense 

Charles Lane writes: Chinese aggression against Taiwan, by contrast, might someday show the West the price of treating this democracy’s sovereignty as an issue to be finessed indefinitely. – Washington Post 


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday that he’s grateful for the help his nation has received so far, but he called on European leaders to do more to help his country fend off Russia’s invasion, asking for more weapons and heftier sanctions against Moscow. He also said it was apparent to him that Ukraine’s long-standing hope of entering NATO currently faces a closed door. – Washington Post 

President Biden will travel to Europe next week for a NATO summit on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House said Tuesday. – Washington Post 

The shock of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shaken Europe’s democracies out of their complacency about geopolitical dangers. And the speed with which the European Union joined the U.S. in sanctioning Russia and arming Ukraine surprised the world. – Wall Street Journal 

Hungary will not send any weapons to Ukraine and will stay out of the war, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a rally of his supporters on Tuesday, accusing the opposition of trying to drag Hungary into the conflict on its eastern border. – Reuters 

An international peacekeeping mission should be sent to operate in Ukraine, the leader of Poland’s ruling party said on Tuesday during a press conference in Kyiv alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. – Reuters 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the West made a “terrible mistake” and let President Vladimir Putin “get away” with annexing Crimea in 2014. – BBC 

Portugal will impose new EU sanctions on Russian oligarchs even if they are Portuguese citizens, the country’s foreign minister announced Tuesday, clearing the way for Lisbon to potentially move against Russian-Jewish billionaire Roman Abramovich. – Times of Israel 

Ukrainian officials will ask the Biden administration for additional military armaments, including armed drones, surface-to-air missile systems, and communications jamming equipment, ahead of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Wednesday address to Congress, according to reports. – Washington Examiner 

Ukrainian citizens living in districts seized by Russian troops could soon find themselves confronted with Syrian fighters and “other mercenaries” hired by Russia to occupy the restive districts, according to British intelligence analysts. – Washington Examiner 

With Russia’s invasion of its neighbor Ukraine accelerating a number of procurements in Poland, Warsaw plans to boost its naval capacities in the Baltic Sea through the acquisition of three new mine countermeasure vessels (MCVs) in the coming months, according to Polish National Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak. – Defense News 

Editorial: Zelensky’s conduct continues to enhance his moral stature as he demands fighter jets and a no-fly zone from Nato leaders. Their hard logic — that the west must avoid triggering a potentially apocalyptic direct conflict with Moscow — remains correct. But if Russia steps up its brutality, stoking pressure from their own voters, it will be a position western leaders will find ever more agonising to have to stick to. – Financial Times 

Dan Balz writes: Ukraine’s tenacious leader will be asking that question again on Wednesday, in one form or another. If past is prologue, he may channel Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “day of infamy” or something else from American history. This is Zelensky’s moment and he will make the most of it for his people and his country. – Washington Post 

Seth Cropsey writes: Economic sanctions may shape the outcome in Ukraine, but the heft of an axe is less formidable than its blade. NATO has ruled out the blade because Ukraine is not a member, because the outcome of Ukraine’s success on its own is far better than if purchased by direct NATO action, and because Putin’s nuclear spear-brandishing frightened the U.S. and other Atlantic Alliance members. The scare is real but avoidable. Had the muddle of interlocking NATO/EU security responsibility been clear enough to harden Ukraine’s deterrence beginning even before the invasion of Crimea in 2014, today’s war could have been avoided. – The Hill 

Frederico Borsari writes: Despite clear evidence regarding the poor performance of Russian troops in Ukraine, conventional war with NATO would certainly be different in terms of Russian military commitment, with key confrontations likely taking place in high-intensity scenarios where SOF must be ready to use traditional techniques, but also hybrid approaches based on advanced technologies and cyber warfare aimed at disabling an opponent before they can react. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Jake Harrington and Riley McCabe write: First, there remains tremendous value in what U.S.-UK cooperation means. As described from the outset of this report, a core component of strategic competition in this era will be about building alliances of like-minded nations to push back against authoritarianism that runs contrary to core democratic values. At the highest levels, intelligence leaders of both countries have started to recognize that articulating shared threats and demonstrating common ideals are crucial steps in the emerging confrontation over ideas. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Suspected Islamist militants have killed more than 60 people over five days of attacks on villages in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, local residents said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The head of Africa Command warned members of Congress about the multitude of threats to the United States emanating from the continent in testimony on Tuesday. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of AFRICOM, testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he laid out the terrorism landscape and provided insight into Russia’s and China’s investments in Africa. – Washington Examiner 

China’s ambitions in Africa are long-term and range from power plants and port investment to new military bases, but Russia, through its use of mercenaries like the Wagner Group, is propping up autocratic regimes and strives for immediate influence across the continent from Libya to Central Africa, the Pentagon’s top commander for the continent said Tuesday. – USNI News 

Hannah Ryder and Etsehiwot Kebret write: First, abstention does not signify some sort of “cop out”; it is instead a well-thought stance reflecting the intricacies surrounding the national interests of a country on a given issue. […]The position of African countries on Ukraine and other global issues is nuanced and complex but important to understand, as it can help other countries strengthen their own foreign policies. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Americas

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attend a NATO meeting in Brussels next week, CBC News reported on Tuesday, citing a senior government source. – Reuters 

Canada said on Tuesday it was imposing sanctions on 15 Russian officials who enabled and supported President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine to apply additional pressure on Moscow to reverse course. – Reuters 

Russia said on Tuesday it had put U.S. President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a dozen top U.S. officials on a “stop list” that bars them from entering the country. – Reuters 

Patrick Duddy writes: The decrease in U.S. capacity is, moreover, undeniable. American negotiators will need, consequently, to temper expectations of what the United States will be able to do with the region in the near term. That said, it is profoundly in U.S. national interest to reassert itself as the region’s international partner of choice going forward. – The National Interest 

United States

Joseph Bosco writes: Excessive, one-sided Western caution has invited greater risk-taking by Putin, who always expects Biden and the West to pull back. Biden calls this era an “inflection point.” History will record it as the time a Russian dictator — a war criminal China’s Xi proudly proclaimed to be his “no-limits strategic partner” — succeeded in staring down four American presidents and the NATO alliance and upended the international order. – The Hill 

Pankaj Mishra writes: As the landscape of globalization fragments, the prospects for democracy will diminish faster, notwithstanding the rhetoric about the new birth of freedom. Autocracies around the world were already building high digital fortresses to keep out dissent. […]No matter what happens in Ukraine, then, the following trends are only set to intensify: opportunistic non-alignment, de-democratization, de-dollarization of the international financial system and general de-Americanization of the globe. – Bloomberg 

Janan Ganesh writes: This crisis might be different. The animus between Democrats and Republicans is no less strong today than it was a few months ago. But each side is at least conscious now of a mutual and vastly more serious opponent. The democratic world must hope this sense of perspective lasts. The unity of the west is only worth so much without the cohesion of its most important member. – Financial Times 


A collection of hackers and technology experts has gathered in an attempt to combat Russia and President Vladimir Putin remotely. – Washington Examiner 

Hackers from the anonymous group hacked the site of the Russian state corporation for nuclear energy Rosatom on Tuesday. The corp is allegedly running Zaporizhzhya, a Ukrainian nuclear power plant seized by Russia. – Jerusalem Post 

Eric Noonan writes: With a few signatures we can address vulnerabilities that the DOD, FBI, CISA and every other authority on the subject agree leave us vulnerable to attack. Lawmakers should incentivize the DIB to meet existing cybersecurity standards and elevate the government to the defensive position we’ve long needed. – The Hill 

Editorial: And while Facebook made the correct call in this case, its choice — as well as so many more that have been made by businesses during this crisis — contradicts the insistences by social media sites, search engines and other Internet services that they are neutral actors. […]Now they will have to do their best to uphold those beliefs, even when the right thing to do isn’t so obvious, even when it could cost them, and even when the whole world isn’t watching. – Washington Post 


In 2020, a United States naval engineer and his wife made the fateful decision to try to sell some of America’s most closely guarded military secrets, the technology behind the nuclear reactors that power the U.S. submarine fleet. – New York Times 

For nearly three weeks, top U.S. Air Force officials have closely watched Russian troops advance — and stall — in Moscow’s attempt to reclaim Ukraine. – Defense News 

The U.S. State Department approved the sale of up to eight MH-60R multi-mission helicopters to Spain in a deal potentially worth $950 million. – Defense News 

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps demonstrated a naval manned-unmanned teaming capability during an exercise in California, showing off how their tactics and equipment could come together in the future to fight in a littoral environment. – Defense News 

Anti-nuke activists have long suggested that America’s nuclear weapons are too costly as well as too dangerous. Now they’re finding common ground with military and security experts who say planned upgrades to the strategic arsenal would crowd out a host of other, more cost-effective, programs. – Defense One 

Long War

U.S. troops’ exit from Afghanistan and Somalia has limited the United States’ ability to conduct counterterrorism operations against groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, the American generals in charge of the Middle East and Africa told senators Tuesday. – Washington Post 

The Pentagon may add troops in Somalia to control the growing al-Shabaab terrorist organization, the head of U.S. Africa Command told senators Tuesday. – Defense One 

Five men charged in the September 11, 2001 attacks, including alleged “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are in plea negotiations to resolve the longstanding capital case, defense attorneys confirmed Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse 

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said Tuesday that the Taliban is failing in their efforts to shut down ISIS in Afghanistan and that it appears likely that ISIS terror attacks will increase as the summer months approach. – Fox News