Fdd's overnight brief

March 29, 2022

In The News


Russia and Ukraine prepared to hold cease-fire talks in Turkey to try to end more than a month of war while intense fighting continued, with Ukrainian forces pressing to retake territory north of the capital Kyiv after Russian forces fired missiles at several Ukrainian cities overnight. – Wall Street Journal  

Up to a dozen developing countries face increased risk of debt defaults in the coming year as the war in Ukraine boosts commodity prices and adds to existing Covid-19 pandemic-related pressures, a top World Bank economist said. – Wall Street Journal 

Ukrainian forces have reclaimed control of a few small fronts in the country’s north, officials said Monday, as Russia appears to be directing its fiercest attacks on besieged areas in the country’s east and south, including Mariupol. – Washington Post 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a rare interview to four Russian journalists on Sunday. A short time later, the Kremlin ordered them not to publish it — the latest example of the steps being taken to censor any news that might cut through the pro-government narrative about the war on Russian state television. – Washington Post 

A day after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta conveyed its shock in a three-word banner headline against a somber black background: “Russia. Bombs. Ukraine.” – Washington Post 

A Russian missile strike on Sunday in western Ukraine near the Polish border, which has become a transit point for weapons being sent to Ukrainian forces, raised new concerns about whether Russia might attack NATO territory to stop or destroy the shipments. – New York Times 

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning earlier this month after a meeting in Kyiv, the Wall Street Journal and the investigative outlet Bellingcat reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. – Reuters  

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told PBS in an interview on Monday that Russia would resort to nuclear weapons only in the case of a “threat to the existence” of his country – and not as a result of the current conflict with Ukraine. – Reuters  

Although President Joe Biden has said American troops will not fight in Ukraine, the US is providing intelligence that has bolstered Ukraine’s battlefield performance and described many of Russia’s moves, often before they happen. – Business Insider  

The mayor of Ukraine’s besieged southern port city of Mariupol said Russian forces are “playing” a “cynical game” as civilians have been blocked from evacuating. – Business Insider  

Ukraine’s intelligence service warned Russia that is has “sources” in the Kremlin as their war drags on with little progress from President Vladimir Putin’s forces. – Business Insider  

Amnesty International is accusing Russia of committing war crimes in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. – Associated Press 

The US has warned Russian oligarchs and businesses that it is monitoring their financial transactions for any signs of evasion of Ukraine war-related sanctions as well as tracking those offering them “material support”. – Financial Times 

An oil depot in western Ukraine was hit by a missile on Monday, adding to a series of similar attacks in recent days as Russia continues its military invasion of Ukraine. – The Hill 

Russia is drafting a presidential decree that will ban the entrance of foreign nationals from countries deemed “unfriendly” to Russia, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday. – Jerusalem Post 

A prominent Russian dissident journalist has faced antisemitic intimidation for speaking out against the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. – Algemeiner  

Editorial: The United States and its allies have no choice but to build a strategy based not on the long-term reality, which is that they cannot live with a Putin regime, but on the short-term reality that they must, barring a revolution in Moscow that cannot be anticipated. – Washington Post 

Walter Russell Mead writes: Mr. Putin wanted a weaker Europe, increasingly separated from the U.S. It looks as if he’s going to get exactly the opposite. Mr. Putin’s war, so far at least, looks set to promote the emergence of a Europe that is militarily stronger and more deeply engaged with the U.S. than at any time since the end of the Cold War. – Wall Street Journal  

Jakub Grygiel writes: If Ukraine survives Russian aggression as an independent state, the Biden administration’s liberal temptation will be to call it a victory for world order based on rules and democracies. That would be a mistake. The victory will be Ukraine’s, resulting in a moment of fragile regional stability and not in a renewed world order. – Wall Street Journal  

Gerard Baker writes: For now, we have an immediate and escalating problem with this presidency. We can certainly hope that Russians understand as well as we do that, at 79, Mr. Biden is prone to saying things he doesn’t mean. But we can’t be sure. What we can be sure of is that Mr. Putin, who has already whipped up his compatriots into a frenzy of paranoia about the “real” intentions of the U.S. in arming Ukraine—to wit, an attempt to weaken and destroy Russia itself—will seize on every piece of evidence he can find to bolster his case. – Wall Street Journal  

Tim Culpan writes: Some Russian patriots may be swayed. Not by any loyalty to the government, but a belief that their country will need them once Putin is gone. But for the thousands who have already fled, and the countless more heading for the exit, the reality is most will never come back. And they’re the talent the Russian motherland will need most when the fighting finally stops. – Bloomberg 

Margaret MacMillan writes: What happens next will depend on many different things, from the resolution of the Ukrainians themselves to the volume and type of weapons each side will acquire. But it will also depend on the decisions and leadership of the key players. […]The answers can only be guessed at—and, given Putin’s record, the West may have to prepare for a long and costly effort to contain Putin’s aggression as it did in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. – Foreign Affairs  

Walter Clemens writes: If top Russian officials care about their own future and that of their homeland, there is only one conclusion they can reach — that they should remove today’s hare-brained threat to Russia’s well-being and to global order. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Sam Winter-Levy writes: As the Russian invasion of Ukraine grinds on, the West needs to be clear-eyed about the situation it confronts. It is currently waging a proxy war with Russia — one that poses very real risks of escalation. Western policymakers should not deceive themselves about just how ugly proxy wars tend to be. […]Ultimately, the only options worse than a proxy war are a cheap Russian victory in Ukraine — or a direct confrontation between Russia and the United States. – War on the Rocks 


The U.S. said it would work with Middle Eastern states against threats from Iran as it sought to reassure allies concerned about efforts to revive Tehran’s nuclear deal. – Bloomberg  

Cooperation between Israel, the US, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates should strike fear in Iran, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Monday at the Negev Summit. – Jerusalem Post 

An Iranian missile attack earlier this month that blasted a villa in Iraq’s Kurdish region was prompted, in part, by a plan in the works with Israel for the Kurds to supply natural gas to Turkey and Europe, Reuters reported Monday, citing Iraqi and Turkish officials. – Times of Israel 

Like it did with the recent trilateral meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh between the leaders of Israel, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, Jerusalem sought to frame this week’s expanded forum in Sde Boker as the establishment of a regional front against Iran. – Times of Israel 

Neville Teller writes: Iranian president Raisi is intent on further empowering the IRGC. The aging Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in dubious physical health, is seeking to ensure a hardline Islamist regime after his death. His chosen successor, it is widely believed, is Raisi. Raisi is fully aware that if he is to become the next supreme leader, he will need the IRGC’s backing, since anti-regime sentiment is rising among the Iranian population. In expanding the power of the IRGC, Raisi will be seeking to boost his support when the time comes to select Khamenei’s successor. – Jerusalem Post 


On the day Kabul fell, Taliban fighters scouring the city for government loyalists arrived at the home of Mohammad Khisraw Noori and executed his brother-in-law. In an instant, his family’s comfortable — if fragile — existence was shattered, in tandem with the political system they and thousands of others had helped to build over 20 years of U.S. occupation. – Washington Post 

Afghanistan’s Taliban has instructed all government employees to wear a beard and adhere to a dress code or risk being fired, three sources told Reuters, the latest of several new restrictions imposed by the hardline Islamist administration. – Reuters 

Taliban hard-liners are turning back the clock in Afghanistan with a flurry of repressive edicts over the past days that hark to their harsh rule from the late 1990s. – Associated Press 

The United Nations Security Council has expressed deep concern after the Taliban-led government ordered girls be denied access to high school education amid reports of further restrictions on women and media, including a fresh ban on news bulletins by the BBC and Voice of America (VOA). – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Shabana Basij-Rasikh writes: To Afghan men, I say: This is your moment. Don’t let your wives and daughters and sisters protest alone. Don’t let armed men tell you what their futures must look like. To other Muslim nations, I say: This is your moment. Raise your voices. Follow the example of Qatar and Turkey. Call out the Taliban’s un-Islamic decree, and in the strongest terms. – Washington Post 


Turkey and Romania have scrambled in recent days to neutralize potentially explosive mines amid concerns that the weapons may be drifting across the Black Sea from Ukraine’s shores toward neighboring countries. – Washington Post 

A Turkey-Israel gas pipeline is being discussed behind the scenes as one of Europe’s alternatives to Russian energy supplies, but it will take complicated maneuvering to reach any deal, government and industry officials in both countries say. – Reuters 

Robert Pearson writes: Turkey’s role now as a NATO member moves to center stage. If Ankara tells the Alliance that concessions are in order for Moscow to accept a deal, how will the Alliance react? Is Russia hoping that by accepting Turkey’s meditation, Moscow can split the Alliance from within? If the West and NATO’s democracies do not emerge with visible, lasting gains, is it not likely that both Russia and China will speed up the pace of their ambitions to force democracies into retreat and to create a new anti-democratic world order? As Turkey prepares to host the next round of face-to-face ceasefire talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators, what Ankara does and says in the coming days and weeks will come under increased scrutiny. – Middle East Institute


Islamic State took responsibility for an attack in which gunmen killed two Israeli border police officers and injured at least six others during a shooting spree Sunday night in the streets of central Israel, the second deadly incident linked to the militant group in the country in under a week. – Wall Street Journal  

At a groundbreaking summit in Israel on Monday, the top diplomats of Israel, the United States and four Arab countries discussed how to coordinate against Iran; the importance of Washington’s remaining engaged in the region; and the need to maintain calm over the next weeks, when a convergence of religious holidays could raise tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. – New York Times 

A large bipartisan group of 68 Senators sent a letter to US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, urging him to lead a multinational effort in the UN Human Rights Council and in the UN to end the permanent Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH) spearheaded the letter. – Jerusalem Post 

Deadly attacks in the heart of two Israeli cities in the span of less than a week have claimed the lives of six citizens and will force the security establishment to investigate how it was caught off guard. – Jerusalem Post 

The Palestinian Authority could rescind its recognition of Israel and halt its security coordination with Israel, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken when the two men met in Ramallah. – Jerusalem Post 

Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy leader of Hamas, said on Monday that the Palestinian Arab uprising within the “occupied state” (Israel) has become a serious concern for the “occupation.” – Arutz Sheva 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In early March 2021, then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a trip to the United Arab Emirates. The last-minute cancellation was first blamed on a dispute with the Kingdom of Jordan. – Jerusalem Post 

Philip Pilkington writes: Israel has good relations with Russia and China. If and when the new world order emerges, Israel will no doubt use these relations to make clear its problems with Iran. But Russia and China also have good relations with Iran. The best Israel can hope for out of this diplomacy would be for Russia and China to mediate an arrangement in the Middle East that is somewhat stable. In Israel’s worst-case scenario, the new emerging order would simply unleash Iran and make it Russia and China’s main partner in the region. – Newsweek 

Dr Mordechai Kedar writes: Israel’s new friends will denounce and condemn Israel in no uncertain terms, but will not do anything. This is because in view of the growing strength of Iran, which is breathing down their necks and threatening their very existence and as the United States twists the knife it stuck in their backs, they have no alternative to their alliance with Israel. They may take some kind of public steps, but in essence will do nothing. – Arutz Sheva 

David Makovsky writes: Israel is no superpower and is very mindful that there is no substitute for the United States. Nonetheless, Ben-Gurion would have been proud that, given Arab perceptions that the US is engaged in retrenching in the Mideast, it is Israel being welcomed by key Arab states, expanding its regional profile and at least partly filling that void. – Times of Israel  

Gadi Taub and Michael Doran write: Waiting for the Biden administration to wake up from its dream that appeasement will lead to Iranian moderation is futile. The only path available to Israel is to force the administration to take responsibility for the contradictions its policy is creating, including the hiding of its appeasement behind a veil of rhetoric about blocking or slowing down Iran’s military nuclear program. It’s doubtful whether Israel has many other options if it intends to look after its vital interests. – Haaretz 

Arabian Peninsula

Gulf Arab states were to gather for a summit Tuesday about the yearslong war in Yemen, which the country’s Houthi rebels are boycotting because it’s taking place in Saudi Arabia, their adversary in the conflict. – Associated Press 

United Arab Emirates energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei on Monday told Emirati state news agency WAM that oil should not be withheld from any country because “the world is in dire need” of these supplies. – Reuters  

In his February 19, 2022 column in the Saudi daily Makkah, Faisal Al-Shammari outlined a plan for the Gulf states to pursue if the U.S. renews the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.  He called on the Gulf states, which feel threatened by Iran, to develop air, naval and cyber defense systems, while also continuing their efforts to isolate Iran in the world. If Iran violates the agreement, he added, these countries must act to have it revoked and even establish an international military coalition that will destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Michael Rubin writes: Whether a motivating factor or not, Biden’s top advisers can expect lucrative post-government contracts to reward them for essentially laundering money for Qatar and its terrorist and extremist associations. Hopefully, this is not their motivating factor. Regardless, Americans and victims of terrorism deserve an explanation as to why Qatar is a major non-NATO ally, all the more so after its Revolutionary Guard missile stunt. If team Biden cannot offer a good answer, it’s time to reverse the designation. – Washington Examiner 

Middle East & North Africa

A historic gathering of U.S., Israeli and top Arab diplomats concluded Monday with fresh momentum for discussions to create new Middle East defense partnerships, as one-time foes pledged to meet regularly to boost economic and security ties. – Wall Street Journal  

The Kurdish region of northern Iraq has the capacity to make up for at least some of the energy shortfall in Europe, Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said on Monday. – Reuters 

Morocco’s foreign minister said on Monday his presence alongside three Arab counterparts at an Israeli-hosted summit was the “best response” to attacks such as an Islamic State-linked shooting spree in Israel, which he condemned as terrorism – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates in Morocco on Tuesday in a bid to ease disagreements over oil, Iran and the Ukraine crisis. – Reuters  

Jordan’s King Abdullah II landed in Ramallah on Monday to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, in his first trip to the Israeli-occupied West Bank since 2017, Abbas’s office said. – Agence France-Presse 

Lebanese central bank governor Riad Salameh is a suspect in a case the European Union’s criminal justice agency said on Monday had led to the freezing of some 120 million euros ($132 million) of Lebanese assets, prosecutors in Germany said. – Reuters 

Egypt’s foreign minister held talks with his Qatari counterpart Monday that focused on improved ties between the two countries. – Associated Press 

David Ignatius writes: The following January, with Iranian threats continuing, McKenzie recommended what was probably the most potent display of U.S. power against Iran since the revolution of 1979 — the drone attack that killed Soleimani. McKenzie told me in a recent interview that the United States had intelligence that Soleimani was planning new attacks that could have killed Americans in Iraq. – Washington Post 

Khaled Dawoud writes: Despite the devaluation of the Egyptian pound, gradual increases in the price of oil and gas (practically ending any government subsidy) and a sharp rise in the cost of government services and many other goods, Egyptians have not revolted or taken to the streets to protest. […]It is enough to blame an outside war that’s putting the whole world economy on hold, coming on the heels of the heavy, as yet unmitigated, losses caused by two years of fallout from the pandemic. – Middle East Institute  

Geoff Porter writes: With Tunisia drifting toward authoritarianism, Libya on the cusp of civil war, and Mali facing intensified instability, Washington should recognize the value of Algeria’s regained political and economic stability. In the current crisis, this means respecting the government’s calculations about its situation at home and supporting its preferred posture of peace broker in conflicts abroad. – Washington Institute  

Korean Peninsula

U.S. and South Korean officials are reviewing whether North Korea tested its newest intercontinental ballistic missile last week as it claimed, with mounting public signs that Pyongyang may have exaggerated its milestone. – Washington Post 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for a propaganda campaign to increase popular support for the country’s ideology of self-reliance amid “the worst difficulties,” state media KCNA said on Tuesday. – Reuters  

North Korea said Monday leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to develop more powerful means of attack, days after the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile launch in more than four years. – Associated Press 

Nicholas Eberstadt writes: Thirty years of fruitless attempts at diplomatic engagement with the North have demonstrated that outsiders can’t alter the regime’s determination to become a nuclear power. But forceful international economic penalties, tirelessly and creatively applied, can throw sand in the gears of the North’s military programs. We should address this task with the seriousness it deserves. If we don’t try to stop North Korea from becoming a greater threat, we will enter a world in which Pyongyang can credibly threaten the American homeland with nuclear missiles. – Wall Street Journal  


Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies said it’s still evaluating its response to Western sanctions on Russia, as its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, made her first public appearance since her release from Canada. – Washington Post 

Marco Rubio wants Americans to “wake up.” China is already locked in conflict with the United States, the Republican senator from Florida warns. We just haven’t realized it yet. – New York Times 

China named a newly-appointed statistics bureau chief and a vice finance minister to become advisers to the central bank, replacing two members from those departments who have left their positions. – Bloomberg  

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said he believes that the Russian military’s underperformance in the war in Ukraine may help deter China from taking action against Taiwan in the immediate future. – Washington Examiner  

Mark L. Clifford writes: China wants to keep all of us from hearing the truth about its policies in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. Today, the target is Chinese people living in America. Tomorrow, it will be all of us. – Washington Post 

Ruchir Sharma writes: 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 

David Dorman writes: There is a clear and pressing need for an expanded research agenda on Digital China. We must not only analyze its ambitions, but tally the resources being put into it, as well as assess its likely success in achieving the Communist Party’s stated objectives. […]This begins with our own understanding of Digital China, of New Type Infrastructure, and of the Communist Party’s vision for the governance and control of data. – War on the Rocks 

Alexander Lukin writes: China does not stand to gain from a weakening of Russia. It is far more likely that Beijing will provide it with all possible assistance whilst trying to avoid the secondary effect of U.S. sanctions, for which it can make certain concessions in more sensitive areas, such as banking, whilst also persuading Russia to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, close collaboration with Russia in the future will depend more on purely geopolitical interests than on a common vision of world order. – The National Interest  

Jane Nakano writes: Even in the absence of a national strategy, many state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have been investing in hydrogen projects while a number of subnational governments have identified hydrogen as a key economic priority or formulated hydrogen development plans. […]The direction, pace, and scope of China’s low-carbon hydrogen endeavors warrant close attention for multiple implications, not only for the Chinese economy but also for the course of global hydrogen industry development. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

South Asia

Turn on a television in India this past month, and the arguments espoused by some of the country’s most popular media personalities follow a pattern: The United States provoked Russia into attacking Ukraine. The Americans were possibly developing biological weapons in Ukraine. Joe Biden, the U.S. president who fumbled the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, has no business criticizing India over the war he sparked in Ukraine. – Washington Post 

India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd has sold at least one cargo of Russian Sokol oil to India refiners Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL.NS) and Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL.NS) after failing to draw interest in a tender earlier this month, sources familiar with the matter said. – Reuters 

Sri Lanka has sought an additional credit line of $1.5 billion from India to import essentials, the island nation’s central bank governor said on Monday, amid its worst economic crisis in decades. – Reuters 

The Indian government’s willingness to dismiss pro-Russia misinformation about Ukraine belies how complicated its position is on the issue. It abstained on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia. While its language on the war has hardened since the invasion, it’s still the lone member of the 10 largest economies, other than China, that has yet to openly criticize Russia or join economic sanctions against the country. – Business Insider  

Arvind Subramanian writes: In the past few years, India has raised tariff barriers, implemented selective industrial policy and stayed out of integration agreements, especially in dynamic Asia. Freer trade and more intensive economic engagement with the world could now become serious casualties of recent developments. – Washington Post 


The leader of the Solomon Islands on Tuesday said he was poised to sign a proposed security agreement with China that has angered local opposition leaders, alarmed neighboring countries and thrust the small Pacific island nation to the center of a broader debate over the future of the Indo-Pacific. – Washington Post 

The United States has not seen any indications of non-compliance in Asia with export controls on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine, and companies are even self-sanctioning, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday. – Reuters  

A Singapore court rejected on Tuesday an appeal against the execution of a Malaysian convicted of drugs smuggling, dismissing an argument put forward by his legal team that he should be spared because he was mentally impaired. – Reuters  

New Zealand and Fiji signed a partnership statement on Tuesday that will see the two countries work more closely together in areas such as security, protecting shared interests and economic resilience. – Reuters  

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 its sea border with Taiwan. – Associated Press

John Gregory and Lillian Li-Hsing Ho writes: There is also an obvious international aspect to this that causes Taiwan’s freely elected government to move cautiously about changing those China-oriented state symbols, namely that their covetous neighbor, the PRC, will claim that any such move reflects a move towards “Taiwanese independence.” This is ironic since Taiwan, whatever one wants to call it, has never been dependent on the PRC, and since at least 1950 has been an entirely self-governing, independent state. – The National Interest


Nobody can accuse President Emmanuel Macron of stinting on efforts to avert, defuse or stop Russia’s war in Ukraine. He has clocked 17 phone conversations with President Vladimir V. Putin in the past four months, one personal meeting in Moscow and so many hours of discussion with his own aides that he has had scant time for the small matter of a presidential election in less than two weeks. – New York Times 

Numerous members of the German parliament’s main opposition party, the Christian Democratic Union, added their names. Katja Leikert, who sits on the foreign affairs committee, said Russia’s assault on its neighbor means “we have to look beyond short-term business interests and see what is at stake for us in the long run if we don’t stop Putin’s aggression.”. – Washington Post 

British military intelligence said on Monday the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, has been deployed to eastern Ukraine. – Reuters  

Britain on Monday instructed public sector bodies to review energy and other contracts they have with Russian firms and consider switching suppliers, noting that existing energy agreements could benefit the Russian state. – Reuters  

The European Commission recommended Monday that EU nations end golden passport schemes that allow wealthy people to buy their way into the bloc’s citizenship, and urged them to assess whether Russian oligarchs linked to the Kremlin or who support the war in Ukraine should be stripped of citizenship rights previously granted. – Associated Press 

As NATO allies discuss the terms of any potential peace deal to be struck between Russia and Ukraine, signs of strategic splits are emerging from within their ranks. – Bloomberg  

The UK government is “interested” in creating joint first ministers in Northern Ireland as part of a long-term strategy to improve the functioning of the devolved administration, according to officials. – Financial Times 

Rishi Sunak has admitted that the UK’s dismal recent trade performance compared with other G7 countries “might well be” because of Brexit. – Financial Times 

This weekend, two German states moved to outlaw public displays of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and those who violate the new law could face time in jail. – Newsweek 

The Group of Seven major economies agreed Monday to reject Moscow’s demand to pay for Russian natural gas exports in rubles. – Associated Press 

Richard Milne writes: The war in Ukraine has underscored how exposed Finland, with its 1,340km border with Russia, is to attack. The prospect of joining the Nato military alliance is now being discussed by Finnish leaders, as countries across Europe reassess their levels of co-operation on defence and security. For the first time in its history, a majority of Finns now support applying for Nato membership. – Financial Times 

Stephen E. Biegun and David J. Kramer write: The immediate focus of the United States and allies must be on the Russian military and diplomatic corps to encourage defections. Putin’s orders are worthless if Russian soldiers and diplomats refuse to carry them out—if they recognize that the emperor has no clothes. Ultimately, the result might be that the emperor is no more. – Foreign Affairs  

Gideon Rose writes: A final lesson is one Americans used to understand well, having won an anticolonial war themselves back in the day: don’t bet against nationalism. People fighting foreigners on their own turf are highly motivated, as the impassioned Ukrainian defenders holding off lackluster Russian attackers have shown yet again. Whatever the war’s endgame, it will not yield a loyal new province for Moscow. – Foreign Affairs  

Sumantra Maitra writes: Everything depends on the war’s aims. Given that Russia would end up in a compromising position, wounded by its own folly, but also a long-term hostile presence in the eastern periphery of Europe, it would be interesting to see newer foreign policy realignments between previous ideological alliances. – The National Interest  


The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on food security will potentially have “dramatic consequences” for African countries that rely on grains imports, European Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Monday. – Reuters  

Heavy fighting erupted overnight and continued on Monday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo when fighters from the M23 rebel group attacked army positions near the border with Uganda and Rwanda, a local official and a witness said. – Reuters  

The U.N. envoy for Sudan warned Monday the east African nation is heading for “an economic and security collapse” unless it addresses the political paralysis following October’s military coup and moves toward resuming a civilian-led transition. – Associated Press 

South Sudan’s vice president is urging regional mediators to intervene to protect the country’s fragile peace deal, warning of a return to war amid alleged attacks by government troops on his forces. – Associated Press 

Ethiopia is being urged to uphold its international commitments to the freedoms of expression and the press by releasing journalists it has imprisoned. – Associated Press 

Run by the elite French Foreign Legion, the French Desert Commando Course usually hosts French soldiers and commandos who are going to fight Islamist extremists in the Sahel. – Business Insider 

Mozambique is on the cusp of a new funded program with the International Monetary Fund, six years after the lender halted its previous deal in the wake of a debt scandal. – Bloomberg  

A month into the war in Ukraine, South Africa, one of the few African countries wielding diplomatic influence outside the continent, has stuck its neck out, adamantly refusing to condemn Russian aggression. – Agence France-Presse 

The Americas

The Supreme Court of Honduras ruled unanimously that former President Juan Orlando Hernández should be extradited to the U.S. and face trial in New York on charges he helped smuggle tons of cocaine in exchange for millions of dollars in bribes, a court spokesman said on Monday. – Wall Street Journal  

María spent Monday looking for her 16-year-old son, checking various jails and juvenile detention centers with no luck — he was one of hundreds of people detained in the hours after a state of emergency took effect throughout El Salvador the day before. – New York Times 

A Venezuelan political strategist allegedly threatened to shoot a gun through the door of his luxury Miami condo to avoid being served a lawsuit by a former U.S. Green Beret he hired as part of a plan to oust President Nicolas Maduro, according to a court hearing Monday. – Associated Press 

Venezuelan soldiers conducted joint operations with Colombian rebels in the state of Apure earlier this year, Human Rights Watch said as violence increased along a remote and often lawless stretch of the Colombia-Venezuela border. Several armed groups are fighting for control of drug trafficking routes in the area. – Associated Press 

United States

An alleged member of a group of Islamic State militants that beheaded American hostages in Iraq and Syria, nicknamed “The Beatles” for their British accents, faces a U.S. criminal trial beginning on Tuesday. – Reuters 

President Joe Biden struck a defiant tone on Monday while facing questions from White House reporters about his apparent call for Russian President Vladimir Putin to lose power. – Business Insider  

A U.S. immigration judge in California has halted the deportation of an Iraqi refugee for fear he could be tortured if he were returned to Iraq to face allegations he killed a police officer on behalf of the Islamic State group. – Associated Press  

The Senate Monday passed its version of a long-stalled bill to aid the domestic semiconductor industry and bolster U.S. competitiveness with China, a key step needed to kick off negotiations with the House on final legislation. – Bloomberg


In a secret chat room run by a group of Russian-affiliated cybercriminals, a hacker expressed excitement about a plan to attack and disable more than 400 U.S. hospitals. “There will be panic,” the hacker wrote, in Russian. – Wall Street Journal  

A Ukrainian internet service provider used by the country’s military suffered a massive cyberattack on Monday, Ukrainian officials said, fueling fears that Russia intends to wield more dangerous digital weapons as the war drags into its second month. – Wall Street Journal 

Nokia said this month that it would stop its sales in Russia and denounced the invasion of Ukraine. But the Finnish company didn’t mention what it was leaving behind: equipment and software connecting the government’s most powerful tool for digital surveillance to the nation’s largest telecommunications network. – New York Times 

The powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a brief on Monday, urging a D.C. appeals court to reject an appeal by a big group of U.S. states to revive their antitrust lawsuit against Meta Platform’s (FB.O) Facebook. – Reuters  

Russian translators working for Google were reportedly told by the company not to refer to the Ukraine invasion as a “war.” – Washington Examiner  

Russia’s biggest internet company has embedded code into apps found on mobile devices that allows information about millions of users to be sent to servers located in its home country. – Financial Times 

Federal civilian agencies would get $10.9 billion total for cybersecurity under the fiscal 2023 budget the Biden administration unveiled Monday, an 11% increase from the prior year, and the Defense Department would get $11.2 billion for unclassified cyber operations. – CyberScoop 

Matt Erickson and Christian Whiton write: Nonetheless, we should be cautious. Our militaries and economies are highly dependent on satellites, and we are not adequately prepared. […]Until we switch to satellite software based on “zero trust” principles—in which each function and data file is off-limits except to clearly known and authorized users—and encrypt every file and function on every satellite and throughout its command and communications chain, we will be at risk. – The National Interest  


President Joe Biden’s proposed fiscal year 2023 Pentagon budget includes $813 billion in spending for national defense, a 4% increase of $31 billion from the spending package signed into law earlier this month. – CNN  

The U.S. Navy is sending six of its “Growler” aircraft to Germany as the Russian attack on Ukraine continues. – Newsweek 

China is still the dominant focus of the Defense Department despite the ongoing ground war in Eastern Europe following Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine. – USNI News 

Lindsay Koshgarian writes: Over the past 10 years, more than half of the military budget has gone to for-profit contractors. In 2020, the U.S. already spent more on one military contractor, Lockheed Martin, than Russia spent on its entire military. Any increase in Pentagon spending is all but guaranteed to mean big new profits for these companies. If none of this helps the people of Ukraine, it doesn’t help the American people either. Domestic needs are ballooning, with schools, hospitals and nursing homes short of staff, Congress failing to pass additional COVID aid to end the pandemic and a climate crisis that’s getting worse. – Newsweek