Fdd's overnight brief

March 28, 2022

In The News


Ukrainian forces are seeking to roll back Russian gains as Moscow shifts its focus to controlling a swath of the country’s south and east. – Wall Street Journal 

President Biden appeared to call for Vladimir Putin’s ouster in a speech Saturday, saying the Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine had ignited a “new battle for freedom” between democracies and autocracies. – Wall Street Journal 

President Biden’s remark that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” came under fire for muddying U.S. policy and threatening to undermine diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

The de facto buyers’ strike on Russian crude that began a month ago propelled oil prices to their highest levels in years. Now the real effects are starting to create a second wave of impact on oil markets, disrupting Russian exports and threatening further price increases. – Wall Street Journal 

Nasdaq-listed Yandex, which runs the largest Russian search engine and ride-hailing service, is caught between its local customers and regulators on the one hand, and American technology and finance on the other. The latest flashpoint is the potential sale of its media interests, which consist of a news-aggregation service similar to Google News and a social platform called Zen. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia’s decision to change its Ukraine war plan underscores how Moscow is trying to secure territory closest to its own border that it has coveted for years and sets the stage for brutal fighting in an area already devastated by more than a month of war.- Wall Street Journal 

When Russia unveiled previously secret details of its nuclear-weapons doctrine for the first time in 2020, it confirmed something U.S. war planners had long suspected: Moscow would be willing to use atomic arms to keep from losing a conventional war. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is further driving up the price of renewable-energy projects, which were already facing supply-chain strains and raw-materials increases before the war. – Wall Street Journal 

President Biden’s declaration that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” threatens to push deeply strained U.S.-Russia relations closer to collapse, former officials and analysts said, with potentially serious implications for Washington’s ability to help steer the war in Ukraine to an end and avoid a wider conflict. – Washington Post 

Satellite images and videos verified by The Washington Post show that in recent weeks, Russian-backed forces began building a camp just east of the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukraine. – Washington Post 

President Biden’s high-stakes speech in Warsaw on Saturday was crafted with the intent of throwing the full weight of the United States behind its European allies, while framing the Russian invasion of Ukraine as part of a global “battle between democracy and autocracy.” – New York Times 

Russian forces redoubled attacks on strategic targets across Ukraine on Sunday, with fierce fighting reported around the capital, Kyiv, amid signs that the besieged city of Mariupol was close to falling. – New York Times 

Administration officials and lawmakers stressed on Sunday that the United States was not seeking regime change in Russia over President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine despite President Biden’s comment that the Russian leader “cannot remain in power.” – New York Times 

When Ukrainian forces hit a Russian tank with an American-made Javelin missile on a highway on the northern reaches of the capital, Kyiv, the explosion was so huge that it tossed the turret 10 yards down the road and shredded the rest of the vehicle and the men inside. – New York Times 

Russian mercenaries with combat experience in Syria and Libya are gearing up to assume an increasingly active role in a phase of the war in Ukraine that Moscow now says is its top priority: fighting in the country’s east. – New York Times 

Russia signaled a possible recalibration of its war aims in Ukraine on Friday as the Kremlin faced spreading global ostracism for the brutal invasion, hardened Western economic punishments and a determined Ukrainian resistance that appeared to be making some gains on the ground. – New York Times 

Russia struck military targets in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv with high-precision cruise missiles, the Russian defence ministry said on Sunday. – Reuters 

Finland’s national railway operator said on Friday it would suspend services between Helsinki and Saint Petersburg in Russia on Monday, closing the rail link between Russia and the European Union.- Reuters 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has invoked author J.K. Rowling, the creator of the “Harry Potter” book series, while accusing the West of trying to “cancel” Russia. – The Hill 

Chief Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said on Sunday that the next round of peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia would take place on Monday in Turkey. – The Hill 

NATO Deputy-General Secretary Mircea Geoana says that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s month-old “barbaric war” against Ukraine is a war he cannot win. – Associated Press 

The Czech Republic has frozen assets worth millions of dollars belonging to Russian tycoons under sanctions, Prime Minister Petr Fiala told national TV. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The president of Latvia argued today that if NATO had reacted more strongly in 2008 to Russian aggression against neighboring Georgia and the Kremlin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, Moscow wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine. – USNI News 

Editorial: Whatever Mr. Biden and fellow Western leaders do, their goal should be to maximize impact on Russia and minimize harm to the nations supporting Ukraine, while recognizing that no war has ever been won without some sacrifice. It’s worth taking some time to get that right — but not too much time. “My point is: unity. Unity,” Mr. Biden declared in Brussels on Thursday. On energy security, he also needs to make a point about urgency. – Washington Post 

Editorial: We expect Biden sheepishly apologized to his staff (again) for having to do damage control, and to the allies for undermining them and for handing Putin some first-rate propaganda grist. But at 79 he’s not going to stop — again, he’s been doing this his entire adult life. – New York Post 

Holman W. Jenkins Jr. writes: Right now, Mr. Putin and his regime seem likely to survive the Ukraine debacle, at least in the short term. But there is no end in sight that doesn’t leave him in far worse shape than when he started. This, I suspect, is a perfectly satisfactory outcome for the Western allies, with the details of any eventual cease-fire being distinctly secondary. Those details aren’t secondary to 44 million Ukrainians who, by their actions, have created a great nation, mobilized the free world and still hold important cards to play in the crisis. – Wall Street Journal 

Tunku Varadarajan writes: The Russian army’s astonishing underperformance in Ukraine has been attributed to a combination of Ukrainian heroism and rock-bottom morale among Russian soldiers. Bill Browder points to a third explanation: corruption. “My estimate,” he says, “is that 80% of the military budget is stolen by Russia’s generals, because 80% of all budgets in Russia are stolen by the officials in charge.” – Wall Street Journal 

Eileen O’Connor writes: The only people who can truly sway Mr. Putin are ideologues who share his views, the so-called siloviki. The word literally means people with force — the power that comes from being in the security forces or military. These insiders have been with Mr. Putin since his days in the K.G.B. or in the St. Petersburg municipal government, and they see themselves as protectors of Russia’s power and prestige. […]To influence them, the West must prioritize the things that they believe give Russia its superpower status: its oil and its military. – New York Times 

Harry J. Kazianis writes: We got another quick correction in a trip filled with corrections — as when Biden implied US troops were headed into Ukraine, telling some Friday that they’ll witness Ukrainian bravery “when you’re there.” Nothing can be more dangerous than when the world doubts America’s resolve — or questions her policies on matters of war and peace. That can only mean chaos is ahead. – New York Post 

Max Hastings writes: The word of Putin or his spokesman is, of course, worthless. It is certainly unlikely that Russia would launch ballistic missiles against the West: however unstable its president, he knows that this would provoke the obliteration of his own country. Bloomberg 

Tobin Harshaw writes: It’s become pretty reflexive in the media these days to say that the sanctions being imposed by the U.S. and its allies on Russia are “unprecedented.” Even the Treasury Department is letting the superlatives fly. But as the wise man once said (in my case, the wise man was Allan M. Siegal, the legendary standards editor of the New York Times): Nothing is unprecedented. – Bloomberg 

Hal Brands writes: Putin seems to think he can break Ukraine’s will through brutal siege tactics and threats of escalation, perhaps involving chemical or radiological weapons. He is using artillery and air attacks to try to destroy Ukraine’s economy and defense-industrial capabilities, as his forces reposition to press the offensive in the east. He still has powerful non-kinetic weapons, such as cyberattacks, that he can use against the West, and may hope that cascading economic turmoil will weaken his enemies’ enthusiasm for sanctions over time. – Bloomberg 

Dalibor Rohac writes: Today, the idea of a ‘post-Suez’ Russia, chastened by its military setbacks in Ukraine and crippling effects of Western sanctions, is an attractive one. Yet we might come to regret believing it and using it as a pretext to double down on our bet that Ukraine alone, without us, can bring Russia’s invasion to a satisfactory conclusion. – The Spectator 

Ben Cahill writes: Full sanctions on Russian exports would be a pivotal moment for the oil market, potentially touching off a sustained high price cycle with few precedents. The effects could include demand destruction, a significant reordering of crude and product flows, and much stronger policy efforts in Europe and elsewhere to reduce oil demand. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Peter Brookes writes: The point here is that there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about Russia’s potential use of chemical weapons in Ukraine—and it’s not only the possibility of a false flag operation to justify its unprovoked and unjust invasion of its neighbor. – Heritage Foundation 

Anthony B. Kim writes: Unambiguously, the effectiveness of the ongoing sanctions and the spillover effects on other countries necessitate deeper and greater analysis for sure. However, there is no question that the sanctions so far have started to bite Putin’s war economy. – Heritage Foundation 

Andrew Lohsen writes: If Russia retains control over southern Ukraine and proceeds to create new pseudo-states there, Western policymakers should act decisively. First, they should support Ukraine in holding puppet leaders accountable and deterring would-be collaborators. – War on the Rocks 


New diplomatic and security ties are reshaping the Middle East as former enemies seek unity in containing Iran, the U.S. rethinks its security role in the region, and Russia and China seek to exploit openings left by Washington. – Wall Street Journal 

This morning’s attack on Saudi oil facilities at Jeddah comes amid frantic Mideast diplomacy to deal with major shifts in the global balance of power — and America is emerging as the odd man out. – New York Sun 

U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said on Sunday he was not confident that a nuclear deal between world powers and the Islamic Republic was imminent, dampening expectations after 11 months of talks in Vienna that have stalled. – Reuters 

A leading European Union diplomat held talks in Tehran on Sunday, Iran’s state-run media reported, amid hopes that an agreement to restore Iran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers could be completed. – Associated Press 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday sought to reassure a wary Israel and its Gulf Arab allies that the Biden administration is committed to their security ahead of the possible renewal of global powers’ international nuclear deal with Iran. – Associated Press 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has joined his counterparts from Israel and four Persian Gulf countries for talks in Jerusalem expected to center on continuing Iranian nuclear negotiations after assuring U.S. allies that they and Washington “see eye to eye.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The US and Israel are committed to ensure Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday, as the allies acknowledged differences over negotiations with Tehran. – Agence France-Presse 

The United States will maintain sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards even if there is a deal to limit the country’s nuclear programme, US special envoy Robert Malley said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse 

The U.S. said the revival of a nuclear deal with Iran may not happen soon following recent requests from Tehran, including that Washington removes the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its list of terrorist organizations. – Bloomberg  

While President Joe Biden’s administration has been seized by the global response to Russia’s war on Ukraine, another foreign policy crisis looms ahead over the Iran nuclear deal. – ABC News 

A former senior Mossad official who wrapped up a stint as head of the military’s political-military bureau this week has spoken publicly to the media for the first time, opening up about how he opposed Israel’s plan to attack Iran a decade ago, and his opposition to a new nuclear deal which may be nearing finalization. – Times of Israel 

Friday’s ballistic missile attack by the Houthis, an Iranian-backed terror group based in Yemen, against a major Saudi oil depot is furthering feelings of anger and frustration among several key regional allies toward the Biden administration. – FOX News 

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir met Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah on his official visit Thursday to Beirut, Lebanon. They discussed the latest political developments in the region, according to the Iranian foreign ministry’s official Twitter account. – Jerusalem Post 

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: So at this moment, it appears Khamenei still wants a deal over jumping to weaponizing his uranium. Yet, the dynamics are fluid and Israel will need to be on its guard more than ever the longer Iran remains at the 60% enrichment level with no new deal imminent. – Jerusalem Post 

Farhad Rezaei and Siavash Gholami write: Israel and the UAE also expect that the lifting of sanctions and unfreezing of Iranian accounts would bolster the maligned activities of the IRGC. Israeli officials released a statement saying they find it hard to believe that the US will abandon its closest allies by removing the IRGC from the State Department’s foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) list. Defense Minister Benny Gantz stressed that the IRGC should remain on the terrorist blacklist and that Washington should not delist the group. – Jerusalem Post 


The BBC urged the Taliban on Sunday to reverse what it said was an order to remove international broadcasters from Afghan airwaves, which has blocked the British broadcaster’s news bulletins. – Agence France-Presse 

The United States expects the Taliban to reverse its decision to keep girls out of Afghan schools “in coming days”, US special envoy Thomas West said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse 

The Taliban have told airlines in Afghanistan that women cannot board domestic or international flights without a male chaperone, two sources told Reuters on Sunday. – Reuters 

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said the Taliban has ordered broadcasters to take its news programs off the air in Afghanistan. – The Hill 

Dipali Mukhopadhyay writes: For the United States, its Western allies, Afghanistan’s neighbors, and Afghans themselves, neither the Taliban’s collapse nor consolidation bodes well. […]A more powerful Taliban, wrapped in unmatched glory, might make room for other extremists to flourish, just as they did in the 1990s. Ultimately, whether the Taliban fail or succeed, the fallout for the Afghan people and blowback on the international community will be substantial. Such is the nature of a revolutionary victory like this one. – Foreign Affairs 


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a telephone call on Sunday that a ceasefire and better humanitarian conditions were needed following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, his office said in a statement. – Reuters 

Turkey and other nations must still talk to Russia to help end the war in Ukraine, Turkey’s presidential spokesman said on Sunday, adding that Kyiv needed more support to defend itself. – Reuters 

Russian oligarchs are welcome in Turkey but must abide by international law in order to do any business, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday. – Reuters 

Turkey’s military deactivated a mine on Saturday that had drifted in from the Black Sea, setting off a loud explosion north of Istanbul, days after Russia warned several of them had washed away from Ukrainian ports. – Reuters


Israel’s meeting with top diplomats from four Arab countries and the United States, set to start on Sunday, is one of the strongest signs yet that the country is beginning to reap the dividends of normalization deals reached two years ago, a profound realignment of Middle Eastern powers that has been accelerated by the war in Ukraine. – New York Times 

When he joins a summit on Sunday focused on Middle East unity, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will ask some of the region’s top diplomats to rally behind another cause: helping Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion. – New York Times 

The militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility on Monday after a pair of Arab gunmen killed two people and wounded four in central Israel before they were killed by police. – Associated Press 

Israel will appoint a military attache to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain soon, the Israeli ambassador to Manama said on Monday as the Gulf monarchy and three other Arab states took part in a rare summit in Israel. – Reuters 

Israel and the United States will cooperate in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran despite disagreements they have over an emerging nuclear deal, Israel’s foreign minister said on Sunday. – Reuters 

Police were placed on the highest level of alert across Israel on Monday, a day after two ISIS-affiliated terrorists shot and killed two Border Policemen in the northern city of Hadera. Checkpoints will be set up on major thoroughfares throughout the country and security forces will be heavily deployed in highly trafficked areas. – Jerusalem Post 

In the wake of a terror attack in Hadera, there are claims that ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. However claims like this require more confirmation because ISIS or ISIS-affiliated networks often claim responsibility for attacks that they had no role in, or that they merely inspired. – Jerusalem Post 

Hezbollah considers the terror attack in Hadera an example of Palestinian “steadfastness in confronting the occupation.” – Jerusalem Post 

The US appreciates Israel’s efforts to stop Russia’s war on Ukraine, including sanctions implementation, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s efforts to mediate between the sides and humanitarian aid, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Jerusalem on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday urged the US to listen to its allies in the Middle East concerned over the possibility of removing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) from a list of terror groups as part of efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. – Algemeiner 

Hamas does not want an escalation with Israel during the upcoming month of Ramadan, though it is likely to pursue terrorist attacks in the West Bank, Israeli defense officials told news site Walla. – Algemeiner 

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday criticized what he described as the West’s “double standards” that he said penalized Russia over its invasion of Ukraine while ignoring alleged Israeli “crimes” against the Palestinians. – Arutz Sheva 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Sunday’s terrorist attack in Hadera in which two Israelis were murdered. – Arutz Sheva 

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, condemned Sunday’s shooting attack in the city of Hadera, in which Border Police officers Yezan Falah and Shirel Abukarat were murdered. – Arutz Sheva 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday, ahead of a diplomatic summit with the foreign ministers of Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Egypt in the southern Negev Desert. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: So the diplomats assembling in one of the luxury hotels that now sparkle here and there in the Negev would do well to reflect on this man who built a state in the shadow of the Holocaust and in the face of Arab hostility. He was of diminutive stature but of legendary will. That will is what is needed as Israel and her neighbors face their common foe at Tehran. No doubt the Old Man would have been smiling. – New York Sun  

Editorial: A meeting in Israel that includes top diplomats from four Arab countries would have been unimaginable just a couple of years ago. Israel is firmly on the diplomatic map. Against the backdrop of the Iranian threat and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which brought about the parley, the Negev Summit itself provides welcome room for optimism. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: The proximity of the two attacks that managed to sneak under the radar of Israel’s intelligence and security apparatuses, especially now before Ramadan and Passover are set to overlap, should serve as a rude awakening to all of us for fear they may inspire more copycats. – Ynet 

Arabian Peninsula

Qatari and Saudi officials are pointing to what they say are unjust inconsistencies in how the West responds to humanitarian strife: acting swiftly to help Ukraine in a way that conflicts and refugees in the Middle East have not seen. – Washington Post 

A Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen unleashed a barrage of airstrikes on the capital and a strategic Red Sea city, officials said Saturday. At least eight people were killed. – Associated Press 

Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen offered a tentative truce on Saturday, as Saudi Arabia and it allies bombed targets in the country in retaliation for a missile and drone attack on oil installations in the kingdom. – Financial Times 

Iran said on Saturday that a document signed between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait this week to develop the Durra gas field was “illegal” since Tehran also has a share in the field and must be included in any action to operate and develop the field. – Reuters 

Yemen’s Houthi group said on Saturday it was suspending missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia for three days, in a peace initiative it said could be a lasting commitment if the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen stopped air strikes and lifted port restrictions. – Reuters 

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on Saturday set the Iran-aligned group Houthis a three-hour deadline to withdraw weapons from the airport of Sanaa and from two ports on the Red Sea, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV reported. – Reuters 

Yemen’s Houthis said they launched attacks on Saudi energy facilities on Friday and the Saudi-led coalition said oil giant Aramco’s petroleum products distribution station in Jeddah was hit, causing a fire in two storage tanks but no casualties. – Reuters 

Qatar will continue supplying Europe with gas, Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi told CNN in an interview aired on Friday as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised fears of supply disruptions. – Reuters 

A prisoner swap deal was agreed this month by Yemen’s Houthi movement and the country’s internationally recognized government, which is supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, a Houthi official said on Sunday. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia underwent a widespread and coordinated barrage of attacks on Friday after Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched drones into the neighboring kingdom, targeting oil facilities and other state institutions, the rebel group and Saudi state media said. – Washington Post 

Saudi Arabia’s civil defence has extinguished fires at two fuel storage tanks in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah that were hit in an attack by Yemen’s Houthis, state television reported on Saturday. – Reuters 

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was jailed for ten years and subsequently sentenced to 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam” and promoting debate on secularism online, was released this month. – Business Insider 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expressed Israel’s “sorrow” to Saudi Arabia on Saturday following a wave of Yemen Houthi attacks, in a rare public message to the country with which it lacks formal ties. – Agence France-Presse 

Editorial: The long relationship will endure ups and downs. But in all dealings with Saudi Arabia, Mr. Biden should stand by the principles that Khashoggi so passionately cared for, however much it discomfits the pouty monarch in Riyadh. – Washington Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran now understands that without a deal, its need to pretend that it isn’t destabilizing the region can be reduced. In short, it can now lift the veil on more attacks beyond the recent attacks on Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and the attack on Erbil in Iraq. – Jerusalem Post  

Mohammed Alyahya writes: And it is not lost on America’s regional allies now that, even as Biden asks Saudi Arabia to raise oil production to help support the campaign against Russia over Ukraine, he is granting sanctions waivers to Russia so that it can continue to guarantee the nuclear deal with Iran that it helped broker — in part by husbanding Iran’s uranium reserves and protecting its underground nuclear facilities filled with illegal centrifuges spinning material for weapons.  Jerusalem Post 

Ali Asseri writes: Subsequent irritants have also been worked out through mutual consultations. Pragmatism must prevail again in order to sustain the reform process in Saudi Arabia and overcome the current energy crisis in the world. It is time to heal the unfortunate wounds of the recent past and rebuild a strategic partnership that continues into the future. – The National Interest 

Middle East & North Africa

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel in advance of a historic meeting of top Israeli and Arab diplomats in the Negev desert on Monday — the latest indication of a realignment of Middle Eastern relations following normalization deals struck two years ago. – Washington Post 

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati told the Algerian foreign minister in a meeting on Sunday that he hoped Algiers would consider exempting Lebanon from an Algerian sugar export ban. – Reuters 

A Tunisian judge released on Friday a journalist who refused to reveal his sources and who was imprisoned for a week, the country’s main journalism union said. – Reuters 

A draft Lebanese capital control law will be discussed by parliamentary committees on Monday and put to a vote on Tuesday if the text is agreed, two lawmakers said, a new bid to pass the long-delayed law amid a standoff between banks and some judges. – Reuters 

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the aeronautics sector was signed during the meeting between the Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr. Ryad Mezzour, and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Amir Peretz. – Arutz Sheva 

Amaney A. Jamal and Michael Robbins write: To slow the advance of authoritarianism and give democratic and liberal ideals another chance in the Middle East, the United States and international actors need to get back to basics. Any effort to promote democracy must take into account citizens’ aspirations for economic dignity. Appeals to abstract notions alone will not be persuasive. Arabs crave freedom and justice—but if democracy does not also deliver bread, Arabs will back political systems that do. – Foreign Affairs 

Przemyslaw Osiewicz writes: In sum, the war in Ukraine is likely to affect the EU’s political and economic ties with the countries of the MENA region. EU leaders should pay close attention to the positions and declarations of these countries as they will determine Europe’s room to maneuver in coordinating policy with them. Otherwise, measures against Russia, such as the imposition of sanctions, could founder on a lack of buy-in from MENA states. – Middle East Institute 

Korean Peninsula

South Korea’s political division runs so deep now that the country can’t agree where the next president should live and work. – Wall Street Journal 

Four years ago, the U.S. and its allies won the support of Russia and China to bring tough sanctions against North Korea in response to an intercontinental-ballistic missile launch. Now, Kim Jong Un’s regime has launched a more-powerful ICBM. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States called Friday for tougher U.N. sanctions after North Korea said it test-fired its biggest intercontinental ballistic missile to date, with Kim Jong Un vowing to expand his country’s “nuclear war deterrent” while preparing for a “long-standing confrontation” with the United States. – Associated Press 

North Korea will continue to develop “formidable striking capabilities” that cannot be bartered or sold for anything, leader Kim Jong Un said, according to state media on Monday, as he visited workers involved with the country’s biggest missile test. – Reuters 

The “monster” Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) shown this week in North Korean state media after the country’s biggest test-fire ever is likely from an earlier launch, analysts said after examining the images and video. – Reuters 

China and Russia should tell North Korea to avoid more “provocations” after it resumed intercontinental ballistic missile testing this week, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter said on Friday. – Reuters 

South Korea’s President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for close coordination on North Korea’s complete denuclearisation, Yoon’s office said on Friday. – Reuters 

The United States needs to deploy its Next Generation Interceptor by 2028 or sooner to keep pace with North Korea’s accelerating ballistic missile program, most recently demonstrated in Pyongyang’s successful test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile Thursday, Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck told the Senate Armed Services Committee. – USNI News 

Editorial: For President Biden, as for his predecessors, North Korea’s dangerous gambits pose a serious challenge. Mr. Kim continues to test missiles in defiance of sanctions and U.N. Security Council resolutions. The United States has insisted on a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but negotiations with Pyongyang have been long stalled. […]There is a need for some fresh thinking about how to resolve this long-festering threat. – Washington Post 


With its ties with the U.S. shakier than in decades, Beijing is becoming wary that its alignment with Russia during the Ukraine crisis could also cost it a relationship that has sometimes functioned as a buffer in its contest with Washington: Europe. – Wall Street Journal 

China does not seek a “unipolar Asia” and respects India’s traditional role in the region, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday, according to a statement released after he met his Indian counterpart in New Delhi. – Reuters 

Dan Blumenthal writes: China doesn’t need allies to support its aggressive plans. It merely needs nations to stay neutral, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given China more confidence that most of the world will stay on the sidelines. – Wall Street Journal 

Ruchir Sharma writes: So the west faces a more vulnerable, and possibly less unified, eastern front in the new cold war than many global observers have accounted for. With an economy just one-tenth the size of China’s, Russia is in a state of financial peril without equal, largely cut off from the rest of the world. But to an extent that is widely under-appreciated, China faces perils too and risks great damage to its vulnerable economy if it does anything that cancels foreign capital. That means Beijing is likely to think twice before offering generous support to Russia or defying western sanctions against the war. – Financial Times 

Jesse Marks writes: As China gains more confidence in its mediation capabilities, MENA governments may find Beijing’s approach to be more assertive in pursuing its interests across a range of levers, including economic, military, diplomatic, and international engagement. With the United States trying to pivot to Asia, many nations in the region will be looking for others to fill the mediation vacuum the United States would leave behind. – Middle East Institute 

South Asia

China and India took a tentative step toward repairing their damaged ties, with Beijing’s top diplomat making his first visit to New Delhi since a deadly clash along their disputed border region. – Wall Street Journal 

As a sportsman, Imran Khan led an underdog Pakistan team to victory at cricket’s World Cup. Now he is drawing on that competitive spirit as he tries to come from behind to win a vote that will determine his fate as prime minister. – Wall Street Journal 

Gazprom (GAZP.MM) has asked India’s largest gas transmitter GAIL (India) (GAIL.NS) to pay for gas imports in euros instead of dollars, two sources said, in a sign the Russian energy giant seeks to wean itself away from the U.S. currency in the wake of the Ukraine conflict. – Reuters 

A senior White House official said on Friday India’s position at the United Nations over the crisis in Ukraine has been “unsatisfactory” but was also unsurprising given its historical relationship with Russia. – Reuters 

India is leaning toward continuing to import coking coal from Russia, the steel minister said on Sunday, seeming to buck a global trend to shun Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

Gordon G. Chang writes: Therefore, talking with China has a price for America, and the price could be long-term alienation of the world’s most populous democracy. If America wants India to commit on Ukraine, therefore, America will have to ditch China and commit to India. Washington, unfortunately, has rarely been able to see the world from the viewpoint of New Delhi. – The Hill 

Jeff M. Smith writes: One hopes India will use what influence it does have with Russia to privately convey the importance of ending the conflict as soon as possible. But rather than publicly condemning India for abstaining at the United Nations or imposing sanctions for its purchase of Russian military hardware or energy, the U.S. government should recognize the complex India-Russia relationship for what it is: a relic of the Cold War, under duress and showing signs of age. – Heritage Foundation 

Sitara Noor writes: Regardless of whether the missile launch was accidental or intentional, this incident is a stark reminder that South Asia remains a nuclear flashpoint with any Broken Arrow potentially turning into a NucFlash. It also exposes the disproportionate focus on Pakistan alone and stark negligence of India’s poor nuclear safety and security record by Western scholars and governments alike. One hopes that this incident leads to some introspection in the Indian security establishment and the Indian government is willing to answer some hard questions – The National Interest 


The global crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is also a hometown one for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, because constituents in his Hiroshima district rely on Russian gas to cook their dinners. – Wall Street Journal 

As Russia threatens the possibility of a “nuclear dystopia,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel paid tribute Saturday to victims of the atomic bombing here and warned of the human devastation caused by nuclear weapons. – Washington Post 

Thousands of American and Filipino forces began on Monday one of their largest combat exercises in years that will include live-fire maneuvers, aircraft assaults, urban warfare and beach landings in a showcase of U.S. firepower in the northern Philippines near the sea border with Taiwan. – Associated Press 

The Australian and New Zealand prime ministers on Monday voiced concerns about the potential for a Chinese military presence on the Solomon Islands. – Associated Press 

Japan’s parliament on Friday approved a new agreement with the United States, endorsing Japanese government spending exceeding 1 trillion yen ($8 billion) for hosting U.S. troops as the two sides strengthen their military alliance in the face of growing threat from China and North Korea in the region. – Associated Press 

Myanmar’s leader vowed Sunday to intensify action against homegrown militia groups fighting the military-run government, saying the armed forces would “annihilate” them. – Associated Press 

The war in Ukraine and Russia’s effective exclusion from the global currency system could be an opportunity for China to raise the profile of its currency in a challenge to the U.S. dollar, a senior Taiwanese security official said on Monday. – Reuters 

Japan will revise its foreign exchange law to prevent Russia from evading Western financial sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine through cryptocurrency assets, top government officials said on Monday. – Reuters 

New Zealand is gravely concerned about the possible militarization of the Pacific following a decision by the Solomon Islands government to form a security partnership with China, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. – Reuters 

Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday Azeri armed forces had entered a zone policed by Russian peacekeepers in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in a violation of an agreement, but Azerbaijan challenged these claims. – Reuters 

Russia and Azerbaijan on Sunday traded barbs over the movement of Azeri forces in Nagorno-Karabakh where a simmering dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan flared into a six-week war in 2020. – Reuters 

Support for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government rose overall for the first time in three months, with crucial elections just months away, as nearly 70% of respondents said they approved of his response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Saturday the prospect of Russia using nuclear weapons was “increasingly real”, welcoming a visit by the U.S. ambassador to Hiroshima, the first city to suffer a nuclear attack. – Reuters 

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on alleged arms dealers and companies it said were involved in procuring weapons for Myanmar’s junta, coordinating with similar measures from Canada and Britain. – Reuters 

The US and Australia are boosting security co-operation in space and the cyber domain as the Indo-Pacific allies strengthen efforts to counter China, which is investing heavily in space and weapons such as hypersonic missiles. – Financial Times 


The U.S. is ramping up shipments of liquefied natural gas to Europe this year as the continent mounts a world-wide hunt for new supplies to phase out its reliance on Russian energy after the invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is demanding that the United States and its allies send more weapons and ratchet up sanctions, portraying some leaders as timid in the face of Russian aggression. His escalation of criticism comes one day after President Biden extemporaneously declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.” – Washington Post 

President Biden traveled to this southeastern Polish city Friday to visit U.S. troops deployed along NATO’s eastern fringe as a bulwark against Russian incursion, and to laud Poland’s humanitarian role in welcoming more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees. – Washington Post 

The United States announced a deal with European leaders on Friday to increase shipments of natural gas to help wean Europe off Russian energy. And Germany set an ambitious goal of halving its imports of Russian oil and coal this year and freeing itself from its dependence on Russian natural gas by the middle of 2024. – New York Times 

In another impassioned speech to European Union leaders, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine called on Hungary to make clear whether it supported Russia or Ukraine in the growing battle over its neighbor. – New York Times 

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, speaking by video to a major policy conference in Qatar on Saturday, urged that nation and other energy producers to increase their gas exports to Europe as part of a drive to reduce the continent’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels. – New York Times 

After the White House announced this week that President Biden would visit Poland, the Kremlin let rip with a belligerent tirade: Polish leaders were a “vassal” of the United States, gripped by “pathological Russophobia,” and their country a “community of political imbeciles.” – New York Times 

Germany is considering purchasing a missile defence system to shield against a potential attack from Russia, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said late on Sunday. – Reuters 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that his country would consider neutral status as part of a peace deal if such an agreement was guaranteed by third parties and put to a referendum. – Reuters  

Ukraine is willing to become neutral and compromise over the status of the eastern Donbass region as part of a peace deal, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday, even as another top Ukrainian official accused Russia of aiming to carve the country in two. – Reuters 

Traders have exported the first supplies of Ukrainian corn to Europe by train as the country’s sea ports remain blocked due to the Russian invasion, APK-Inform agriculture consultancy said on Sunday. – Reuters 

The Czech Republic is considering buying more military helicopters from U.S. maker Bell, Defence Minister Jana Cernochova was quoted as saying on Saturday, part of plans to modernise its army following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova on Sunday said that a failure to preserve Ukraine’s sovereignty against Russia’s invasion would mean that “brutality, oligarchy and war criminals prevail on our planet.” – The Hill 

Editorial: Net zero is a wish, not an energy-security strategy. Other governments in Europe are grudgingly making their peace with this reality and responding accordingly. The political danger for Mr. Johnson is that if he refuses to do likewise, voters eventually will search for a leader who will. – Wall Street Journal 

Thomas D. Grant writes: President Volodymyr Zelensky, affirming that Ukraine won’t accept ultimatums, sees the danger of accepting Mr. Putin’s terms. If the world wants peace and a secure Europe, then it shouldn’t impose a settlement on Ukraine that ignores lessons from places where Russia got the endgames it demanded. – Wall Street Journal 

Andy Kessler writes: New technology for use in commerce often emerges after the smoke of battle clears. World War I produced tanks, field radios and improved airplanes. World War II brought radar, penicillin, nuclear power, synthetic rubber, Jeeps and even duct tape. What we are seeing in Ukraine is the asymmetric power of pervasive inexpensive commercial technology, especially citizen-empowering social networks and crowdsourcing. So far these tools have been altering the war’s outcome. Welcome to 21st-century warfare. – Wall Street Journal 

Sean Monaghan writes: Perhaps Ukraine can also benefit from the addition of the JEF to Europe’s security architecture. As Secretary Truss also said, “New agreements between like-minded countries, even when you’re not part of them, are there to be celebrated.” Taking a more pragmatic tone, President Zelensky seemed to agree with her when he addressed the JEF leaders in London last week: “We emphasize that we need new formats of interaction, new determination. And if we cannot enter NATO’s ‘open door,’ then we must work with communities available, communities that will help us. Like yours.” – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Alexis Mrachek writes: Moldova and the U.S. face common threats and share common goals. Because it borders Ukraine and desires to align itself with the West, Moldova matters more than ever. Washington must take notice and help in her and Ukraine’s hour of need. – Heritage Foundation 


West Africa’s main political and economic bloc said on Friday it would give Mali’s military transitional government 12 to 16 months to arrange elections and offered Guinea’s ruling junta a month to propose a democratic transition timeline. – Reuters 

Rebellious Tigrayan forces in Ethiopia have said they will respect a ceasefire proposed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government as long as sufficient aid is delivered to their war-scarred northern region “within reasonable time”. – Reuters 

Gunmen killed one person during an airport attack in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna on Saturday afternoon, three sources working at the airport said, the latest in a series of attacks by gunmen in the north of the country. – Reuters 

South Africa’s rand weakened from a five-month high against the dollar on Friday, although it still recorded a weekly gain, after the central bank raised the repo rate, citing inflation risks linked to the Ukraine crisis. – Reuters 

The Americas

El Salvador’s congress approved emergency powers that suspend constitutional guarantees and loosen arrest rules for 30 days to combat a record wave of gang-related killings that forced the closing of businesses and the suspension of public events over the weekend. – Wall Street Journal 

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Friday brushed off comments by a senior U.S. military official who said there are more Russian spies in Mexico than anywhere else in the world. – Associated Press 

The International Monetary Fund’s executive board on Friday approved a $45 billion program for Argentina after more than a year of negotiations, two sources with direct knowledge said, allowing the South American grains exporter to avoid a costly default with the Washington-based lender. – Reuters 

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: That said, El Salvador’s new law making it mandatory for merchants to accept bitcoin as payment, despite its volatility, reeks of authoritarianism. The government’s Chivo wallet—where Salvadorans who don’t want to hold the bitcoin they are forced to accept can exchange it for a government-issued stablecoin backed by the full faith and credit of El Salvador—would seem to defeat the purpose of using a cryptocurrency to escape central banking. – Wall Street Journal 

United States

Amid Europe’s largest land war since World War II, 7 in 10 Americans expressed low confidence in President Joe Biden’s ability to deal with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a new NBC News poll, and 8 in 10 voiced worry that the war will increase gas prices and possibly involve nuclear weapons. – NBC News 

Editorial: The world is entering the most dangerous period since the Soviet Union collapsed, and perhaps since the 1930s. The Covid crisis obscured the trend, but the dangers have become obvious as adversaries have reacted to what they perceive to be the American decline, division and weakness at the root of the Afghanistan debacle. Mr. Biden needs to back up his Warsaw words with a defense buildup and far more diplomatic realism to confront the great risks ahead. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: U.S. officials say the Ukrainians could arrive via a range of legal pathways, and if Mr. Biden wanted to go substantially higher, perhaps he would need to consult Congress. The U.S. has a labor shortage, and the Labor Department said Thursday the number of people getting unemployment benefits is at its lowest level since 1970. Go for it, Mr. President. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: At least Europe is finally reckoning with its climate and energy follies. The European Commission this week committed to streamline regulations to fast-track LNG import projects. Germany is planning to extend the life of its coal plants, and the U.K. is embracing oil and gas exploration in the North Sea. Too bad the Biden Administration is still living in la-la land. – Wall Street Journal 


American and European Union leaders said on Friday that they had reached an “agreement in principle” to assure that it is legal to transfer personal data across the Atlantic, after a previous pact was struck down when a court found it did not do enough to shield Europeans from American surveillance programs. – New York Times 

Recent White House warnings urging the private sector to shore up its cyber defenses have experts questioning why U.S. officials haven’t already defined what constitutes cyberwarfare. – The Hill 

For an insurance industry trying to recover from a surge in ransomware attacks, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brings another potential threat: a new front in an escalating cyber war. – Financial Times 

The Biden administration has offered ominous warnings about looming Russian cyberattacks. But another reality is equally foreboding: The U.S. may have too many targets to defend them all. – Politico 

Google has released a report identifying two North Korean government hacking campaigns that exploited a Google Chrome 0-day. – The Record 

Maia Nikoladze writes: In sum, U.S. cybersecurity export controls on Russia are likely to succeed when the United States and its allies have near-monopolistic control over the production process of an item. U.S. export controls are likely to be less successful in thwarting Russia’s ability to build up offensive cyber capabilities given that intrusion software and IP network communications surveillance are more easily obtainable domestically and internationally. – The National Interest 

Brandon Valeriano writes: Abstract discussions of what can be done to help the Ukrainian people may transform into a moral imperative at some point. However, if that happens, it does not mean that technological tools can be leveraged to minimize violence. There is no sanitizing violence through cyber operations. Cyber operations do not offer a magical solution to the conflict, and anyone selling this bill of goods has clearly moved on from slinging swampland in Florida. – The National Interest 

Benjamin R. Young writes: It is clear now that North Korean hackers view the Global South as vulnerable cyber terrain. It is imperative that governments and banks in the developing world bolster their cyber defenses and indicate to their employees the importance of up-to-date cybersecurity measures in preventing cyber intrusions. Cybersecurity training is imperative in order to deter North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated and aggressive cyber attacks. – The National Interest 


After parachuting into the frigid Alaska interior, Capt. Weston Iannone and his soldiers navigated miles through deep snow, finally setting up a temporary outpost on a ridgeline next to a grove of lanky spruce trees that were also struggling to survive. – New York Times 

President Biden reinforced previous comments on the duty to the collective defense principle of  NATO’s Article 5, stating that it is a “sacred commitment.” – The Hill 

Jim Webb writes: If Gen. Berger’s new ideas were well thought out and tested, we would be seeing 90% of retired generals enthusiastically supporting them instead of expressing concern. But the realities of brutal combat and the wide array of global challenges the Marine Corps faces daily argue strongly against a doctrinal experiment that might look good in a computerized war game at Quantico. – Wall Street Journal 

Long War

The only trial in U.S. court for a member of an infamous terrorist cell is set to begin Tuesday, as El Shafee Elsheikh stands accused of taking part in the capture and murder of journalists and aid workers by the Islamic State. – Washington Post 

Tunisian police forces have dismantled about 150 militant cells in the past six months, a spokesman for the National Guard said on Saturday. – Reuters 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday that Israeli security forces must adapt to the “new threat” posed by Islamic State supporters, after two people were killed in a shooting attack in Hadera, the second attack linked to the militant group in Israel within a week. – Haaretz