Fdd's overnight brief

March 21, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Iran’s authorities have committed violations in recent months that may amount to crimes against humanity, a U.N.-appointed expert told the Human Rights Council on Monday, citing cases of murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, rape, sexual violence and persecution. – Reuters

The European Union on Monday imposed a new package of sanctions against Iran, its sixth, in response to human rights violations, adding eight individuals and one entity to its list. – Reuters

Britain on Monday sanctioned senior officials from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including those who it said were responsible for managing the group’s financial investments – Reuters

Iran counts on “huge volumes” of oil and gas swaps from Russia this year, Iranian Economy Minister Ehsan Khandouzi said in an interview with Russia’s RIA state news agency in remarks published on Tuesday. – Reuters

Members of IRGC’s Quds Force are weary of the fight with Israeli forces at Golan Heights and are selling military intel to Israel, a recently-leaked document shows. – Iran International

Russia & Ukraine

Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia this week is aimed in part at positioning Beijing as a potential mediator between Moscow and Kyiv—but with both sides gearing up for spring combat operations, neither is ready now to talk about peace. – Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration on Monday approved a new $350 million package of military aid for Ukraine, U.S. officials said, a critical injection as Ukraine grapples with ammunition shortages and gears up for a spring offensive. – New York Times

Russia’s top investigative body said on Monday it had opened a criminal case against the International Criminal Court prosecutor and judges who issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges. – Reuters

Russian military investigators launched a criminal case on Monday against Major General Vadim Dragomiretsky, deputy commander of the central district of Russia’s National Guard, after he was accused of receiving large sums in bribes, a senior lawmaker said. – Reuters

European Union countries on Monday agreed a 2 billion euro plan to send 1 million artillery rounds to Ukraine over the next year by digging into their own stockpiles and teaming up to buy more shells. – Reuters

China has increased purchases of Russian oil and gas in the year since Russia invaded Ukraine and the energy relationship between the two countries will be an important topic when presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping meet in Moscow this week. – Reuters

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will visit Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Japan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday, with broadcaster NHK showing Kishida boarding a train at the Polish border town of Przemysl. – Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Vladimir Putin on Monday that he was convinced Russians would support him in a presidential election due in 2024, even though the Kremlin chief has not yet said if he will seek another term. – Reuters

Russia is coordinating with Syria, Iran and Turkey on a schedule for a meeting of their deputy foreign ministers, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told the state RIA news agency on Tuesday. – Reuters

China needs to be mindful of the stakes in the Ukraine war and that Russian President Vladimir Putin is on the “wrong side of history,” Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Monday, as Chinese President Xi Jinping met Putin in Moscow. – Reuters

Russia’s defence ministry said a Russian Su-35 fighter jet was scrambled over the Baltic Sea on Monday after two U.S. strategic bombers flew in the direction of the Russian border, but that it returned to base after they moved away. – Reuters

Ukraine’s defence ministry said on Monday that an explosion in Dzhankoi in the north of the Crimean peninsula destroyed Russian cruise missiles intended for use by Russia’s Black Sea fleet. – Reuters

Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin told Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in a letter published on Monday that the Ukrainian army was planning an imminent offensive aimed at cutting off his Wagner forces from the main body of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. – Reuters

Ukraine said on Monday the eastern town of Avdiivka could soon become a “second Bakhmut”, a small city where its forces have held out against Russian invaders for eight months but risk being fully encircled. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed on Monday that Moscow has agreed to extend a deal allowing the exports of Ukrainian grain to global markets only for 60 days and could drop it altogether if its conditions aren’t met. – Associated Press

Dmitry Medvedev, the Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council, suggested on Monday that the Kremlin could fire a hypersonic missile at the International Criminal Court (ICC) after the organization issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. – Fox News

As the monthslong Battle of Bakhmut wages on, military experts and analysts are increasingly concerned that Ukraine is wasting precious resources on a hopeless fight in an approach that could have devastating consequences down the line — even as Ukraine doubles down on its perilous defense of the eastern city. – Business Insider

Ukraine’s tank operators are having a lot of problems with their old Soviet-era tanks, giving soldiers more and more reasons to seek more advanced, modern tanks from NATO countries. – Business Insider

The war in Ukraine has laid bare the shortcomings of the Russian military. Once perceived as a conventional near-peer threat, the Russian military now appears to be more of a paper tiger. – Business Insider

Andreas Kluth writes: During the call, Zelenskiy should insist on his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as the basis of all subsequent talks, and get his Chinese counterpart to nod along. After all, it’s simply what Beijing is urging, is it not? If Xi’s overture is only a bluff, let Zelenskiy call it. If it has substance, let’s find out and build on that. – Bloomberg

James Stavridis writes: Xi may offer token diplomatic support and even some minor military aid, but he’s too smart to be drawn into an obviously failing enterprise. The smart play would be for Xi to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy from Moscow or soon thereafter. Western leaders should quietly encourage him to think in those terms. China may be too big to fail, but Putin’s Russia is not — and Beijing must realize that reality. – Bloomberg

Alexander J. Motyl writes: Second, Westerners who wonder whether supporting Ukraine is worth the effort should realize that the war isn’t just about Ukraine, however worthy it might be of being spared genocide. The war is about Russian imperialism and the Russian empire. If Ukraine wins, Russia’s imperial projects could end. If Russia wins, its imperial projects will be invigorated and legitimized. Kazakhstan, Georgia, Poland and the Baltic states will be next to experience imperial Russia’s wrath — and then it won’t be Ukrainian blood that will be spilled. – The Hill

Timothy Ash writes: Europe showed unity and resilience. Arguably it has accelerated the carbon transition in Europe, with a huge rise in spending on renewables. Europe has quickly diversified away from Russian energy, and there is hope it can manage the same trick next winter. Putin has cooked his own energy goose. It has been bad. But not as bad as might have been. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Lera Burlakova writes: It just hurts to realize that with more resources, we would save a lot of lives. Had that been available, it is possible Bakhmut would never have become a fortress, a symbol, or a legend. In which case, hundreds, perhaps thousands of soldiers would have come home again to kiss their children.  – Center for European Policy Analysis


Israel’s governing coalition, under withering pressure from mass street protests, international criticism and a direct appeal from President Biden, offered Monday to delay some parts of its controversial plan to overhaul the judicial system. – Washington Post

An Israeli minister with responsibility for administrating the occupied West Bank drew condemnation on Monday after he said there was no Palestinian history or culture and no such thing as a Palestinian people. – Reuters

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called on Monday on the Israeli government to disavow a minister’s comments that there was no Palestinian history or culture and no such thing as a Palestinian people. – Reuters

Britain and Israel will sign an agreement aimed at deepening technology, trade and security ties over the next seven years when foreign minister James Cleverly meets his Israeli counterpart in London on Tuesday. – Reuters

Dozens of conservative Muslims marched in Indonesia’s capital on Monday to protests Israel’s first-ever participation in the FIFA World Cup Under-20 in Indonesia. – Associated Press

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would have “difficulty continuing as a minister” if the judicial overhaul went ahead in its current form, in what is the most significant pushback thus far from within the coalition. – Haaretz

Two Otzma Yehudit MKs visited the US over the weekend, Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu and Development of the Negev and Galilee and National Resilience Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf. – Jerusalem Post

The US voiced its opposition to the Knesset’s final vote to repeal the 2005 Disengagement Law in northern Samaria, a move that could pave the way for the reconstruction of the four West Bank settlements that were destroyed there 18 years ago. – Jerusalem Post

Ahead of the Passover holiday which will start the evening of April 5, Israel’s National Security Council has issued guidelines detailing the dangers and threats from various terrorist elements that could be faced by Israelis traveling abroad. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Israel must make it clear that quiet will be met with quiet, and that if that’s not the case, neither Ramadan nor international appeals will prevent the country from taking action against terrorism. At the same time, there’s no reason in the world for Smotrich to add needless and potentially damaging noise to the already volatile mix. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: On the other hand, there is another issue that is present. While conflict with Gaza appears to be decreased, as the moment, there are other question marks about regional conflicts. For instance, reports this week by Palestinian Islamic Jihad accused Israel of killing one of its members in Damascus. Last week Israel also said that it suspected Hezbollah of involvement in the infiltration of a terrorist from the northern border who placed an IED near Metulla junction. […]The West Bank is now in the spotlight as an area of instability and also gun violence. This could become a regional outlier and it remains to be seen how Israel and other countries interested in peace may address this. – Jerusalem Post

Eric R. Mandel writes: At a time when the majority of Democrats now sympathize with the Palestinians over Israel and when American attention is focused on Ukraine and China, if Netanyahu wants the US to take his concerns on Iran seriously, he should show leadership, pause the rush to pass legislation that does not have a national consensus and bring all sides together to negotiate without preconditions. – Jerusalem Post


The supreme leader of the Taliban has issued a decree against nepotism, barring officials in Afghanistan’s Taliban administration from hiring relatives in government positions. – Associated Press

Afghanistan’s schools reopened Tuesday for the new academic year, but no classes were held as students were unaware of the start and hundreds of thousands of teenage girls remain barred from attending class. – Agence France-Presse

Five children along with their mother were killed when a grenade exploded in Afghanistan’s central Ghor Province, local officials said on March 20. Abdulhai Zaeem, the provincial director of information and culture, told the dpa news agency that the incident happened on March 19 in the provincial capital Firozkoh, while the children were playing with a hand grenade inside their house. Unexploded military supplies left from decades of war often cause casualties among children in Afghanistan. On March 17, two children were killed and two others wounded when they were hit by an unexploded mortar shell in Logar Province. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty


Donors at a European Union-led conference on Monday pledged 7 billion euros ($7.5 bln) to help to rebuild Turkey after last month’s devastating earthquakes, while Ankara estimated the costs at more than ten times that. – Reuters

Turkey halted the transit of Western-sanctioned goods to Russia this month after a year of war in Ukraine and mounting U.S. and European pressure on Ankara for action, a top export official and a diplomat said. – Reuters

Russians established more than 1,300 firms in Turkey in 2022, a 670% increase from the previous year, according to a report by The Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, a think tank. – Bloomberg

Back in February, Chinese state media was boasting of how Beijing had stepped up to provide Turkey with much-needed humanitarian aid in the aftermath of the deadly February 6 earthquake that killed tens of thousands in Turkey and northern Syria, including what an English-language arm of the Communist Party described as “20 metric tons of urgently needed cotton tents.” – Business Insider


Now, especially in Baghdad, many young people want to move on. The cities have somewhat recovered from the war years, and more affluent young Iraqis frequent coffee shops, go to malls and attend live concerts. Even so, most conversations keep circling back to a relative who was killed, family members who were displaced or lingering doubts about Iraq’s future. – New York Times

Gerard Baker writes: There is a direct line between the deceptions worked on the American people about the war and the angry popular disillusionment with the performance of American political leaders that led the rise of Donald Trump and for that matter the deep reluctance many Americans feel about support for Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

Michael Rubin writes: They do not fear to argue politics in restaurants or coffee shops — both of which thrive in Baghdad and across the country. Iraq’s parliament is not a rubber-stamp body but hosts the most robust debates in the Arab world[…]Was the Iraq War mishandled? Yes. Was occupation bungled? Certainly. Will historians judge it better than its contemporaries did? Of that I am sure. – Washington Examiner

Harlan Ullman writes: The U.S. faces the most unique strategic challenge in its history. In China it confronts a near peer economic superpower with the largest nuclear armed military in the Pacific. Russia is a nuclear superpower and energy giant that has invaded a neighbor. New strategic thinking is essential. Shock and awe, as originally conceived, is a good starting point. – The Hill


The IDF on Monday night said that its probe into the Hezbollah terrorist attack at the Megiddo junction in the North last week has yielded the definitive conclusion that Israel’s border was not penetrated using an attack tunnel. – Jerusalem Post

Zvi Bar’el writes: Under these circumstances, with Hezbollah on the verge of forming a government it wants in Lebanon, with the consent of most of the countries involved in the Lebanese turmoil, it’s hard to find any reason why the organization would want to start a war with Israel. – Haaretz

Robert Rabil writes: Ultimately, federalism cannot be implemented through Christian—mainly Maronite—voices alone. For any measure of success, structural issues currently serving as roadblocks would have to be addressed, and maximally inclusive efforts need to be made. Absent a collective communal effort supporting federalism, one cannot expect power sharing or distinct sectarian cantons to remain at peace with each other. Federalism as currently proposed is a recipe for renewed civil strife, as the history of Lebanon has repeatedly shown us. – Washington Institute


Iraq’s government approved renewing a contract that will allow the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) to buy 4 million barrels of Iraqi crude oil in June and August, the Iraq government said on Monday. – Reuters

Turkey will look into appointing an ambassador to Egypt, the Turkish foreign minister said during a visit to Cairo on Saturday, the highest-level meeting for a Turkish official in more than a decade. – Jerusalem Post

On 17 March, the US Army ordered 115 remanufactured AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and placed options for an additional 15, as well as orders for 54 Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers, for USD1.9 billion. […]The FMS sales are to Australia and Egypt, according to the US Department of Defense (DoD) contract announcement. The official breakdown was not immediately available, but Australia announced in 2022 that it would order the 29 AH-64s to replace its Eurocopter EC665 Tigers, and Egypt has contracted 25 sets of sensors for remanufactured Apaches. – Janes

Arabian Peninsula

The two sides in Yemen’s conflict agreed to free 887 detainees and to meet again in May after 10 days of negotiations in Switzerland, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Monday. – Reuters

Saudi authorities released on Tuesday a U.S. citizen jailed for 19 years for posting criticism of the government on Twitter but he remains banned from travelling, his son said, as the kingdom moves to ease tension with the United States. – Reuters

Bobby Ghosh writes: For the moment, in the absence of more tangible benefits, Iran will have to settle for Saudi submission and humiliation. Nobody should expect the regime to give up the means of extracting more of both. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

Jordan on Monday summoned the Israeli ambassador to protest over the behavior of an Israel minister who spoke at a podium that had an Israeli flag with expanded borders that incorporated the kingdom and the Palestinian territories. – Reuters

Turkey-backed opposition fighters in Syria fatally shot at least three ethnic Kurds who were celebrating a holiday late Monday by lighting fires, Syrian opposition activists and pro-government media said. – Associated Press

Qatar has sent 4,000 cabins built to house fans at last year’s World Cup to earthquake survivors in Turkey and Syria, authorities said Monday. – Associated Press

Palestinian officials on Monday expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the security summit with Israel in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh, while Hamas and other Palestinian factions continued to criticize the Palestinian Authority for participating in the gathering, held under the auspices of the US Representatives of Jordan and Egypt also took part in the summit. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Tuesday he would restore Japan’s fast-track trade status after a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last week, a move he called crucial for bolstering supply chains in key areas. – Reuters

South Korea on Tuesday announced a “watch-list” to prevent export of items linked to North Korea’s satellite development, days after Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan. – Reuters

North Korea’s presumed use of a silo in its latest missile test was aimed at boosting the speed and reliability of launches, and could be used in future flights of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), analysts said on Monday. – Reuters

The United States, China and Russia argued during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday over who was to blame for spurring North Korea’s dozens of ballistic missile launches and development of a nuclear weapons program. – Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said Tuesday his government will move to restore Japan’s preferential trade status as he pushes to resolve history and trade disputes with Japan despite domestic opposition. – Associated Press

Ellen Kim writes: Finally, Washington should redouble efforts to confirm the special envoy for human rights abuses and begin a human rights upfront approach in the United Nations and in other venues. If China and Russia continue to block action in the UN Security Council, the United States and like-minded partners should pursue other venues like the G7, Quad, and upcoming Summit for Democracy to forge a global consensus on sanctioning the government’s inhumane treatment of its people. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Monday said that the visit to Moscow by China’s president days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, amounts to Beijing providing “diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit” war crimes. – New York Times

The state visit by China’s leader, Xi Jinping, to Russia highlights the close ties between the nations, a relationship that is increasingly crucial for Moscow as it is cut off from most of the West. – New York Times

Xi Jinping’s new chief of staff is the highest ranking Communist Party official in four decades to take the job — in a sign of the Chinese leader’s tightening grip on power in the world’s No. 2 economy. – Bloomberg

The Biden administration and Chinese Communist Party officials are discussing a possible trip by two Cabinet secretaries to China. – Washington Examiner

The Chinese government is lashing out against the Biden White House ahead of a potential U.S. ban of TikTok. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning claimed this month that “to perpetuate its hegemony, the U.S. habitually politicizes technology and trade issues and uses them as a tool and weapon in the name of national security” and vowed China would support “relevant companies” such as TikTok “safeguarding their legitimate rights.” – Washington Examiner

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is launching a legislative push to end the normalized trade relationship between the U.S. and China as tensions between the two countries flare. – The Hill

Nikki Haley writes: As ambassador to the United Nations, I saw that when America stands strong, our enemies step back. We need to stand strong with our friends in Kyiv, not least because their victory over Russia would have effects extending far beyond Ukraine. Messrs. Xi and Putin know it, which is why they’re meeting in Moscow this week. The U.S. needs a leader who knows it too, and does what needs to be done to protect the American people and the freedom we hold dear. – Wall Street Journal

Tom Rogan writes: On the contrary, via both new party governance and escalated enforcement, Xi is cracking down harder on entrepreneurs and scientists who are seen as too independently-minded. Xi’s policy guidance encourages crackdowns not simply against those who are actually independently minded but against those simply perceived by party apparatchiks as such. So yes, Xi may be happy to endorse Putin. But in doing so, he only underlines his deep paranoia about the assurance of unquestioned power – Washington Examiner

John Bolton writes: Purportedly shopping a Russian-Ukraine “peace plan,” Xi is actually demonstrating that he has been and remains entirely on Putin’s side in the Ukraine war. Indeed, there are reports that China intends to or already is shipping weapons to Russia, or at a minimum, providing support fungible with lethal aid. China, for all practical purposes, is as much involved politically in Europe’s ongoing war as the U.S. – Washington Examiner

Donald Kirk writes: The “evil empire” of old Soviet rule is morphing into a new Sino-Russian empire, as each of these huge countries pursues expansionist aims across land and sea borders thousands of miles apart. Forty years after Reagan inveighed against Moscow’s “evil empire,” everything old is new again. – The Hill

Benny Avni writes: The cunning Henry Kissinger identified the fissures behind a seemingly united Soviet-led front, paving the way for President Nixon’s 1972 Beijing trip. Rather than relying on the UN charter and ICC indictments, America should play hardball with the entire globe in order to weaken all Chinese-led alliances. – New York Sun

Richard Aboulafia writes: Aviation decoupling between the West and China is neither inevitable nor desirable. However, the prospect of Russia rearming itself with Chinese weapons, and the two countries allied together against open societies, is worse. The threat of crippling China’s jetliner industry would be a strong weapon for preventing that outcome. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

When most countries assume the rotating presidency of the Group of 20 nations, they usually host the meetings with relatively little fanfare. But when India’s leaders took over as host of the global summit this year, they opted for something less modest. – Washington Post

The authorities on Monday restricted communications across the Indian state of Punjab for a third day as a manhunt continued for a Sikh separatist leader, whose rapid rise in the public eye has stirred fears of violence in a state with vivid memories of a bloody separatist insurgency. – New York Times

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund approved a loan worth $3 billion to help Sri Lanka through the financial crisis that has had the nation in a rolling economic and political crisis for more than a year. – New York Times

The annual U.S. report on human rights practices released on Monday listed “significant human rights issues” and abuses in India, including reported targeting of religious minorities, dissidents and journalists, the U.S. State Department said. – Reuters

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday announced a new plan to promote an open and free Indo-Pacific, promising billions of dollars in investment to help economies across the region in everything from industry to disaster prevention. – Reuters

Windows at India’s High Commission in London and at the Consulate General of India in San Francisco were smashed during separate demonstrations by Sikh protesters, police in both cities said Monday. – Associated Press

Azeem Ibrahim writes: Pakistan has been within the Chinese sphere for years, with the Pakistani military underwriting this relationship. The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor is a signature project of the Belt and Road view of the world. But if the army were to launch a coup, things would become dramatically worse for Pakistan’s economy and, likewise, its citizens. Pakistan would be desperate—ensuring that it would be truly within China’s sphere of influence, in time to take its place amid the autocracies forming part of the world’s growing, authoritarian, Beijing-led bloc. – Foreign Policy


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan was making an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Tuesday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, becoming the last leader of the Group of 7 nations to go to the country as he seeks a more active role for Japan in international affairs. – New York Times

The head of the Czech Republic’s lower house said on Monday she would lead 150 businesspeople, scientists and officials to Taiwan this week, the country’s biggest-yet delegation to the self-ruled island, despite repeated warnings from China. – Reuters

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar on Monday called on the international community to coordinate sanctions to counter the abuses perpetrated by the southeast Asian country’s military. – Reuters

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will make sensitive stopovers in the United States on her way to and from Central America that could inflame China-U.S. tensions, but Taipei’s government would not confirm a meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. – Reuters

Expected U.S. stopovers in coming weeks by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen are standard practice and China should not use them as a pretext for aggressive action toward the democratically governed island, a senior U.S. administration official said. – Reuters

Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou will visit China next week in what a spokesman called a bid to ease tensions between the self-ruled island and the mainland. – Associated Press

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta will visit her counterpart Qin Gang in Beijing this week in the first trip by a New Zealand minister to China in four years, officials said Monday. – Associated Press

Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa has criticized the US for changing its strategic language around the Pacific without consulting the region, adding the growing competition between the Chinese and American governments was “an opportunity not to be missed.” – Bloomberg

The US and the Philippines highlighted the benefits of a recently expanded defense deal, as America’s push for greater presence in the Southeast Asian nation faced opposition from China and local politicians. – Bloomberg

One of Hong Kong’s best-known rights activists was arrested by the city’s national security police on Tuesday over alleged witness tampering. – Agence France-Presse

Russia’s defense ministry said on Tuesday that two of its Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers made a routine flight over the Sea of Japan, Russian news agencies reported. – Reuters

The Australian defense minister says his country has made no promises to the United States that Australia would support its ally in any future conflict over Taiwan in exchange for American nuclear-powered submarines. – Associated Press


European Union foreign and defense ministers agreed on Monday to spend up to 2 billion euros, or $2.14 billion, to supply Ukraine with badly needed artillery shells, replenish their own national stocks and ramp up Europe’s ammunition production. – New York Times

Efforts by the British government to end political paralysis in Northern Ireland suffered a blow on Monday after the Democratic Unionist Party said it would reject a compromise agreement recently hammered out by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the European Union over the region’s trading status. – Wall Street Journal

Poland’s prime minister warned Monday that Europe may see “revolts” if the European Union, of which his country is a member, turns into a “super-state government” that ignores national differences. – Associated Press

Belarus has stepped up security along its border with Poland after security forces killed a foreigner in the region who allegedly was planning a terrorist attack, the Belarusian human rights group Viasna said Monday. – Associated Press

Hungary blocked European Union member states from issuing a joint statement about an international arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

The leaders of Japan and Germany, meeting at Tokyo, agreed on the importance of building up their own historically powerful military structures, citing the need to counter the Russians in Ukraine and to join in fulfilling their mutual vision of defense in Asia against China. – New York Sun


The Biden administration has determined that government troops and other forces in Ethiopia, a key U.S. partner in East Africa, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during that country’s two-year civil war, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday. – Washington Post

Shortly before landing in Moscow on Monday, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, condemned the killing of nine Chinese nationals a day earlier at a gold mine in the Central African Republic, where tensions have flared between Chinese and Russian interests. – New York Times

Russia laid out conditions on Monday for agreeing to any further extension of the Black Sea grain deal, and President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow could send free grain to African countries if those conditions were not met. – Reuters

Ghana’s finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta will travel to Beijing on Wednesday to meet Chinese officials to discuss a proposed restructuring of Ghana’s debt, according to a source with knowledge of the talks. – Reuters

Two employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) kidnapped in Mali earlier this month have been freed unharmed and unconditionally, the organisation said on Monday. – Reuters

Latin America

The U.S. government said it “respects” Honduras’ decision to move towards establishing formal diplomatic ties with China, the Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said on Monday after a meeting with U.S. officials. – Reuters

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Monday accepted the resignation of the country’s powerful oil minister following the detention of at least six high level officials amid a corruption probe focused on state-run company PDVSA and the judiciary. – Reuters

The U.S. State Department cited credible reports of arbitrary killings, arrests and torture in Nicaragua, as well as harsh and life-threatening conditions in the country’s prisons, in an annual human rights report released on Monday. – Reuters

Colombian President Gustavo Petro on Sunday said he had suspended a ceasefire with the Clan del Golfo, the country’s largest criminal organization, because it had attacked police. – Reuters

Letter bombs were sent to at least five journalists at TV and radio stations in violence-plagued Ecuador on Monday, one of which exploded without causing serious injury – Agence France-Presse

Taiwan’s allies in Latin America, in a repeat of the Cold War’s domino effect, are slowly falling, as Honduras turns to Communist China just as President Tsai Ing-wen is planning a trip to the hemisphere, likely to include a meeting with Speaker McCarthy. – New York Sun


A U.S. and Greek national who worked on Meta’s security and trust team while based in Greece was placed under a yearlong wiretap by the Greek national intelligence service and hacked with a powerful cyberespionage tool, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and officials with knowledge of the case. – New York Times

The Kremlin told officials involved in preparations for Russia’s 2024 presidential election to stop using Apple (AAPL.O) iPhones because of concerns that the devices are vulnerable to Western intelligence agencies, the Kommersant newspaper reported. – Reuters

TikTok is intensifying its public-relations blitz days before its chief executive officer testifies on Capitol Hill this week, but congressional aides say there’s little he can say that will convince lawmakers the app can be insulated from Chinese influence. – Bloomberg

As soon as Kentucky’s legislative session opened this year, state Senator Whitney Westerfield re-introduced a data privacy bill to give consumers more control over personal information online. – Bloomberg

Google has suspended PDD Holdings Inc.’s main Chinese shopping app Pinduoduo after discovering malware in unsanctioned versions of the software, dealing a blow to one of the country’s biggest online retailers. – Bloomberg

The national-security and mental-health risks posed by TikTok are shared by other social media platforms, according to an advocacy group that’s urging Congress to also hold US companies accountable ahead of high-profile testimony from TikTok’s chief executive officer. – Bloomberg

Julia Angwin writes: There is also the issue of setting a dangerous precedent. If we ban TikTok, force a sale or place it under state control, it could encourage other nations to ban U.S. tech, force U.S. companies to sell off foreign assets or try to further force tech companies to comply with state censorship. – New York Times

Julianna Goldman writes: As a parent of young children, I think Congress needs to address the addictive qualities of all social media apps. But TikTok will remain in a category unto itself as long as it is owned by the Chinese. I understand that TikTok may be too big to ban — and that’s part of what makes it so dangerous. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: The problem is how to detect all the flaws before it’s too late. As applied to TikTok, then, Congress can have no confidence that any newly pledged security protocols will actually resolve the app’s security threat. The only way to do that is for the app to come under U.S. ownership and thus be subject to a fundamental security examination and, if necessary, redesign. Put simply, TikTok can’t spend its way out of the espionage threat hole its owners have dug themselves into. – Washington Examiner


The US Air Force’s new five-year spending plan envisions requesting more than $73 billion to develop and procure its new B-21 bomber and Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile, both produced by Northrop Grumman Corp., according to newly released figures. – Bloomberg

Troops are getting their hands on the first batch of the Army’s new armored personnel carriers, replacing a Vietnam-era vehicle that accounted for nearly one-third of tracked vehicles in the service’s heavy armor units. On March 13, roughly 20 of the new vehicles were delivered to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, according to Breaking Defense and the Army. – Business Insider

The U.S. and Japan are exploring a partnership to develop a hypersonic missile defense capability as the Pentagon enters the early stages of a program to develop an interceptor capable of neutralizing hypersonic threats in the glide phase of flight. – Defense News

The United States and the Philippines started rehabilitating the runway of the Basa Air Base in Pampanga on the island of Luzon, one of the five original Philippine military sites identified to host rotating American troops and their equipment under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). – USNI News

Long War

French journalist Olivier Dubois was hugged by emotional reporters at a briefing in Niger on Monday announcing the release of him and U.S. aid worker Jeffery Woodke who had been held hostage in West Africa for years by Islamist militants. – Reuters

The Supreme Court of Bulgaria announced in early March that the life prison sentences in absentia for two Hezbollah terrorists were confirmed for their role in blowing up an Israeli tour bus in the seaside resort of town of Burgas, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian Muslim bus driver in 2012. – Jerusalem Post

IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Border Police forces operated across the West Bank throughout Monday night, arresting sixteen people wanted on suspicion of involvement in terror activity. – Jerusalem Post

IDF soldiers arrested two Palestinians who attempted to infiltrate into Israel from the northern Gaza Strip on Monday evening, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli security personnel uncovered a Palestinian Arab terrorist cell planning a number of shooting attacks in Jerusalem, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed Tuesday morning. – Arutz Sheva

Anouar Boukhars and Carl Pilgram write: Reversing the tide of bloodshed in the central Sahel also requires that local states bolster their supervision of self-defense groups.25 The abuses perpetrated by some of these groups have stoked clashes along ethnic lines and contributed to driving an appreciable number of herders to seek the protection of VEGs.[…]These actions can collectively help break the sequence contributing to militant violence against civilians. – Middle East Institute