Fdd's overnight brief

March 7, 2022

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Russia pursued a pressure campaign in its invasion of Ukraine with nighttime strikes on civilian targets as the war entered its 12th day, while Kyiv’s military held fast along several fronts ahead of planned cease-fire talks. – Wall Street Journal 

Russian forces pounded key airfields in central Ukraine and launched a fresh assault on the besieged port city of Mariupol on Sunday, Russian and Ukrainian officials said, as Moscow pressed ahead with its invasion in defiance of new Western economic threats and fierce resistance from Ukraine’s outgunned defenders. – Washington Post 

A growing number of U.S. officials are calling for a ban on Russian oil and gas imports to pressure that country’s economy despite concerns that such a move could raise already high gas prices for American consumers. – Washington Post 

The United States is exploring how it might help Ukraine obtain fighter jets from NATO nations, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday, suggesting a step-up in Western military aid as Kyiv attempts to hold off a deepening Russian assault. – Washington Post 

The ways that Western countries would support a Ukrainian resistance are beginning to take shape. Officials have been reluctant to discuss detailed plans, since they’re premised on a Russian military victory that, however likely, hasn’t happened yet. But as a first step, Ukraine’s allies are planning how to help establish and support a government-in-exile, which could direct guerrilla operations against Russian occupiers, according to several U.S. and European officials. – Washington Post 

As Ukrainians deal with the devastation of the Russian attacks in their homeland, many are also encountering a confounding and almost surreal backlash from family members in Russia, who refuse to believe that Russian soldiers could bomb innocent people, or even that a war is taking place at all. – New York Times 

As the Russian Army bears down on Ukraine from the north, south and east, a mass migration of millions of civilians is gathering like a storm over the plains. – New York Times 

The day after Russian tanks and troops poured across the Ukrainian border on Feb. 24, NATO leaders received a deeply frightening message. The alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, opened an emergency video summit by warning that President Vladimir V. Putin had “shattered peace in Europe” and that from now on, he would openly contest the continent’s security order. – New York Times 

As Russia pursued its war against Ukraine in the face of determined resistance, a planned cease-fire and evacuation of civilians from Mariupol — a port city of a half-million people on Ukraine’s southeastern coast — was halted for a second consecutive day on Sunday amid “intense shelling” by Russian forces that have encircled the city, the mayor’s office said. – New York Times 

For three days, Russian forces had fought to take Mykolaiv, but by Sunday, Ukrainian troops had driven them back from the city limits and retaken the airport, halting the Russian advance along the Black Sea, at least temporarily. By Monday morning Russian forces had resumed their attack. – New York Times 

Despite the threat of yearslong prison terms, thousands of Russians joined antiwar rallies across the country on Sunday in a striking show of the pent-up anger in Russian society about President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. – New York Times 

Immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the political debate in the U.S. was a free-for-all. Democrats and some Republicans aligned behind President Biden exhibiting what was once considered a traditional show of unity in a crisis. Other Republicans blasted Biden as weak and insufficiently tough on Russia. In perhaps the strangest twist, still other Republicans, including Donald Trump, seemed to sympathize with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. – New York Times 

Russian banks that have been cut off from global payments networks are turning to China’s state-owned UnionPay system as the country tries to sidestep boycotts by Western businesses for its invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal   

Humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians out of Ukrainian cities are still not up and running, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Monday. – Reuters  

Russia boycotted hearings at the U.N.’s highest court on Monday during which Ukraine is seeking an emergency order to halt hostilities, arguing that Moscow has falsely applied genocide law in justifying its invasion. – Reuters  

Card payment giants Visa and Mastercard announced Saturday they will suspend operations in Russia, the latest major US firms to join the business freeze-out of Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse 

Russia announced humanitarian corridors would open in several Ukrainian cities on Monday, after terrified civilians came under fire in two previous attempts and with Moscow’s forces pummeling cities across the country. – Agence France-Presse 

But President Joe Biden’s top diplomat also hailed the resilience of the Ukrainian people and said Russian leader Vladimir Putin was “destined to lose” the war that has already claimed hundreds of lives, including civilians. – Agence France-Presse 

Russia on Sunday warned Ukraine’s neighbours including NATO member Romania against hosting Kyiv’s military aircraft, saying they could end up being involved in an armed conflict. – Agence France-Presse 

American Express Co (AXP.N) said on Sunday it was suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus, joining a growing number of Western corporations to boycott business there over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

Russian President Vladimir Putin was repeatedly warned that the West would pulverize his economy if he invaded Ukraine, but he decided to send the tanks in anyway. – Politico 

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine heads toward the two week mark, the stakes for both sides in the ground war look set to rise, with potentially catastrophic implications for Ukrainian civilians and greater challenges for the country’s so far remarkably successful defense. – Bloomberg 

The Russian ruble was indicated 10% lower to a record low in offshore trading amid investor concern an oil embargo will crush the country’s economy. – Bloomberg 

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is now under Russian command and the International Atomic Energy Agency said it is concerned. – Business Insider 

Editorial: Mr. Blinken also led with weakness on possible sanctions on Russian oil and gas exports. “The immediate effect would be to raise prices at the pump for Americans and also to pad Russian profits with rising prices,” Mr. Blinken said. The latter point isn’t true if Russian exports plunged, and the former point tells Mr. Putin the West fears the political risk at home from rising gasoline prices more than it wants to deny financing for Mr. Putin’s war. At least Mr. Blinken didn’t rule out those sanctions, so Mr. Putin has that to think about as he bombs away. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: Mr. Biden can use the bully pulpit to explain the high stakes in Ukraine for American interests, and why a short-term increase in gasoline prices is worth it when Ukrainians are sacrificing their lives. If he won’t do that, he isn’t doing enough to stop Vladimir Putin. – Wall Street Journal 

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes: With his criminal assault on Ukraine, Putin has reminded the world of where nationalist authoritarianism can lead and how costly a smash-mouth brand of politics that accentuates and exaggerates our differences can be. At the same time, the courage shown by Zelensky and his fellow Ukrainians in standing up to brutality should give heart to all defenders of democracy and self-rule. – Washington Post 

Henry Olsen writes: Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has embraced banning Russian oil imports. Read the room, President Biden. Do the free world a favor and get behind a full ban on Russian petroleum imports now. – Washington Post 

Michael Vickers writes: In sum, every day this war goes on, more of our economy and military power will be destroyed. We risk our people rising up against us. Instead of ending Ukrainian democracy, this war might end our rule. If we are rational, we should find a way to declare victory and extricate ourselves from this no-win war right away. – Washington Post 

Ross Douthat writes: We were extremely careful about direct escalation with the Soviets even when they invaded Hungary or Czechoslovakia or Afghanistan, and the result was a Cold War victory without a nuclear war. To escalate now against a weaker adversary, one less likely to ultimately defeat us and more likely to engage in atomic recklessness if cornered, would be a grave and existential folly. – New York Times 

Anastasiia Lapatina writes: Yet these heroic displays barely scratch the surface of Ukrainian resistance. From sharing food to taking up arms, Ukrainians across the country are united in repelling the invaders — and protecting our homeland. President Vladimir Putin was apparently confident that Russia would defeat Ukraine in two or three days. But he picked the wrong nation to mess with. – New York Times 

Jane Coaston writes: So bring on the speech and the confidence to respond to it, challenge it or mock it out of hand. That’s the confidence the Russian government doesn’t have. And that’s the confidence we must re-establish within ourselves. – New York Times 

Clara Ferreira Marques writes: Russia is now in uncharted territory, controlled and cut off to an unprecedented extent; few Soviet comparisons are useful. But we know from that history that while brutal repression is effective as a means of control, it does not — and cannot — last. – Bloomberg 

Tyler Cowen writes: Notice, however, that the Russian position here may be sounder than it at first appears. European citizens care more about radiation in Ukraine than do American citizens, for reasons of simple proximity. Putin may realize he can put Europeans at greater risk so long as he doesn’t provoke an intervention from the U.S. military, which would probably be decisive. It is a risky strategy that he might just get away with. – Bloomberg  

Tara D. Sonenshine writes: Many say that Putin’s propaganda is not new. But in the last few months, Putin has moved from propaganda to a new form of public diplomacy — obfuscation. He has sought to confuse the world with conflicting statements about war and peace. He has sought to use the fog of war as a fog machine, hoping to cloud hearts and minds. – The Hill  

Anna Borshchevskaya writes: Putin now sees how badly he miscalculated his initial invasion, but he has no intent to stop, only to double down. A strategic pause and redirection could gain his advantages. The very same day that Ukraine and Russia agreed to establish humanitarian ceasefires, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Russia will continue fighting in Ukraine until “the end.” Putin himself held a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron and told him the same. After the call, an Elysee Palace source said, according to CNN, “the worst is yet to come.” – Washington Institute  

Shadi Hamid writes: In any number of ways, Russia’s aggression has underscored why Biden was right and why authoritarians—and the authoritarian idea itself—are such a threat to peace and stability. […]America is lousy, disappointing, and maddeningly hypocritical in its conduct abroad, but the notion of any moral equivalence between the United States and Putin’s Russia has been rendered laughable. And if there is such a thing as a better world, then anti-imperialists may find themselves in the odd position of hoping and praying for the health and longevity of not just the West but of Western power. – The Atlantic 


Fresh demands from Russia threatened to derail talks to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as Moscow said it wanted written guarantees that Ukraine-related sanctions won’t prevent it from trading broadly with Tehran under a revived pact. – Wall Street Journal  

A top Iranian official said Monday that his country is seeking “creative ways” to restore its nuclear deal with world powers after Russia’s foreign minister linked sanctions on Moscow over its war on Ukraine to the ongoing negotiations. – Associated Press 

Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog said Saturday they had agreed an approach for resolving issues crucial to reviving the country’s 2015 nuclear accord with world powers — but new Russian demands may delay a deal. – Agence France-Presse 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday dismissed as “irrelevant” Russian demands for guarantees that new sanctions linked to Ukraine will not affect Moscow’s rights under a reworked Iran nuclear deal. – Agence France-Presse 

The International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran have agreed to adopt a “practical and pragmatic approach” to resolve outstanding issues, the UN agency’s chief said on Saturday in Tehran. – Agence France-Presse 

Iran paved the way for sanctions relief by agreeing to help end a contentious nuclear investigation, removing one of the final hurdles to an atomic deal that could see Iranian oil return to markets by the third quarter. – Bloomberg 

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday there had been significant progress in talks with the United States on an agreement to swap prisoners. – Reuters  

France warned Russia not to resort to blackmail over efforts to revive a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, after Moscow demanded a U.S. guarantee that sanctions it faces over Ukraine would not hurt its trade with Tehran. – Reuters  

Top Republicans are raising concerns about the Biden administration’s plans to revive the Iran nuclear deal, asserting that the president should receive congressional approval before reentering an agreement. – Washington Examiner  

Russia’s top representative at ongoing nuclear negotiations in Vienna said Iran already secured more concessions than Moscow and other powers expected. – Algemeiner 

Gabriel Noronha, a former Iran official at the US State Department, has warned of the dangers of a new nuclear deal. Noronha, who was responsible for the Iran policy during the years 2018-2020, under former US President Donald Trump, told Israel Hayom that US President Joe Biden “is not making decisions” on the new nuclear agreement. – Arutz Sheva 

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) on Monday reiterated his call to the international community to put an end to Iranian aggression. – Arutz Sheva 

Iran has used advanced air-defense batteries against Israeli planes carrying out war-between-war operations in Syria in an attempt to challenge IAF pilots. – Jerusalem Post 

The Saturday deal between the IAEA and Iran was likely a turning point which will reshape the nuclear issue for years to come. – Jerusalem Post 

In an exclusive interview with IRNA, Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said on Saturday that he is absolutely sincere “Iran got much more than it could expect.” – Islamic Republic News Agency 

Editorial: A new deal will also shower Iran with tens of billions of dollars to stir mayhem in the Middle East. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg suggested last week that “all options are on the table” when asked whether the U.S. could purchase Iranian oil. Brilliant: Impose sanctions on Russia—then support Russian ally Iran. Venezuela could be next. – Wall Street Journal  

Editorial: Dictatorships are making criticism a national-security crime, even if it appears in foreign publications. That’s the fate of Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi for writing an October op-ed in these pages. – Wall Street Journal 

Seth J. Franztman writes: Russia wants “its rights” under the nuclear deal. The curtain is now removed from what has been going on in Vienna. The US was relying partly on Russia. Russia was playing its own game for its benefit. This was now revealed to be a Russian method of using the nuclear talks for its own profit. Bizarrely, the US administration didn’t see this coming. – Jerusalem Post 

Andrew C. McCarthy writes: So, as you’d expect, today, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei (This-is-even-more-fun-than-picking-Hillary’s-pocket) Lavrov demanded written guarantees from the Biden administration that its Ukraine-related sanctions will not interfere with the Russian commerce with Iran and other nations that is central to the operation of the JCPOA. What a perfect storm of American amateur hour and embarrassment. And what an inexcusable blow to American national security. – National Review 


A dozen men identifying themselves as members of the Taliban stormed Nadima Noor’s office in mid-February, informed her she was under arrest and ordered her into a car parked in the street outside. She initially refused, but when the men threatened to begin executing her colleagues, she had to comply. – Washington Post 

In Afghanistan, where the economy has been imploding since the Taliban takeover in August, paying for basics such as rent, travel or medical treatment has become an ordeal that can take months. That is the case even for the few who have enough savings. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States still needs other nations to take Afghans who fled their homeland last year, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Friday, six months after Washington’s chaotic withdrawal as the hard-line Islamist Taliban took control. – Reuters  


Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who surprised observers by popping up in Moscow this weekend for an unannounced meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Sunday that he remains in touch with both Russia and Ukraine and will press ahead with attempts to broker an end to the fighting. – Washington Post 

Israeli police shot dead a Palestinian teenager on Sunday morning after he stabbed and wounded an officer in Jerusalem’s Old City, Israeli police said. – Agence France-Presse 

Israel’s premier said Sunday his country had a “moral obligation” to help stem fighting in Ukraine even if chances of success were “not great”, after shuttle diplomacy that saw him visit the Kremlin. – Agence France-Presse 

Yaman Jaffal, a 16-year-old Palestinian, was shot dead by IDF soldiers after throwing Molotov cocktails at a military post in Abu Dis, a Palestinian village near Jerusalem, Hebrew media reported Sunday night. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel’s Aliyah and Integration Ministry, which will be dealing with a large influx of immigrants this coming week, has made a dramatic decision to recognize immigrants coming from Ukraine as refugees fleeing the area of fighting and emergency. – Jerusalem Post 

An Israeli Air Force F-35 intercepted two Iranian drones enroute to the Gaza Strip last year with a cargo of pistols, the IDF revealed on Sunday night. Defense officials publicized the interception of Iranian drones in the shadows of talks in Vienna. – Jerusalem Post 

The Foreign Ministry announced Sunday a series of ongoing measures to provide further aid to Ukraine and to refugees fleeing the war-torn country. – Times of Israel 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly came away from his meeting with Vladimir Putin with the impression that the Russian president was in a rational state of mind, bucking Western assessments that he may have become unhinged. – Times of Israel 

An unusual number of rented private jets have reportedly been flying from Russia to Israel since the invasion of Ukraine, a possible indication that some wealthy Russians are looking at ways to slip around sanctions imposed to punish their country for the attack. – Times of Israel 

Natan Sharansky writes: The reality of Israel’s dependence on Russia shows again that if the U.S. wants to lead the free world in confronting tyranny, its actions in confronting tyrants must be clear and consistent. – Wall Street Journal 

Anshel Pfeffer writes: It will be wonderful if any of this achieves something for the suffering Ukrainians, but even if it does, we may not know about it for a while. From Israel’s narrow internal perspective, Bennett has proved himself as someone who can operate at those levels, and that’s already an achievement for him and the new government. Netanyahu is no longer Israel’s indispensable statesman. – Haaretz 

Anna Ahronheim writes: Though the IAF does not see the safety measures between the two air forces stopping, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made them become more aware of the situation along its northern border. The IAF also does not expect to see Russian fighter jets intercept Israeli jets in Syrian or Lebanese airspace. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In other incidents, Iran has obviously failed to get its drones to do what Iran wants them to do. The March 2021 interception is one example of this. However, Israel’s increasing decision to spotlight the program shows a realization of the complexity of the emerging threat. That Israel has not just revealed the March 2021 incident now, but also has highlighted last year the fact that Iran is training drone operators and constructing drone bases; is all part of the Iran drone threat. – Jerusalem Post 

Herb Keinon writes: Rather than being a pariah, Israel – it is turning out – is a necessary mediator in one of the most severe crises the world has seen in decades. – Jerusalem Post 


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to declare a ceasefire in Ukraine, open humanitarian corridors and sign a peace agreement, his office said. – Reuters 

Turkey and the United States will remain in “close coordination” as they work for a diplomatic solution to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said after talks between the NATO allies’ deputy foreign ministers on Saturday. – Reuters   

Within a few days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Ukrainians and Russians cancelled reservations for trips, disastrous for Turkey where tourism represented 10 percent of GDP before the pandemic. – Agence France-Presse 

President Isaac Herzog will become the first Israeli leader to visit Ankara since 2008 when he jets off to a two-day visit to Turkey on Wednesday at Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s request. – Jerusalem Post 

Asli Aydintasbas writes: I hope both Turkey’s leaders and its opposition understand that the West reconstituting itself. I hope they are pragmatic enough to pick the right side, despite the moral confusion in Turkey’s media. And I hope that, like in 1945, a grand bargain with Turkey will involve democratization. Because the alternative for Ankara is being left with Putin, and that certainly is unsafe. – Washington Post 


Moscow is recruiting Syrians skilled in urban combat to fight in Ukraine as Russia’s invasion is poised to expand deeper into cities, according to U.S. officials. – Wall Street Journal 

Israel fired several missiles toward Syrian military positions near the capital Damascus Monday, killing two civilians and causing material damage, Syria’s defense ministry said. It was the first Israeli attack inside Syria since Russia, a key backer of President Bashar Assad, invaded Ukraine. – Associated Press 

Fifteen soldiers died Sunday in an Islamic State group attack on an army bus in the central Syrian desert, a war monitor said, as state media reported a “terrorist attack”. – Agence France-Presse 

Arabian Peninsula

A global watchdog censured the United Arab Emirates for not doing enough in confronting money laundering and terrorism financing activities, adding it to a list of countries requiring increased monitoring, in a blow to the Middle East nation’s image as a safe business and investment hub. – Wall Street Journal 

President Biden’s advisers are discussing a possible visit to Saudi Arabia this spring to help repair relations and convince the Kingdom to pump more oil, Axios has learned. – Axios 

Karen Attiah writes: “Absolute Power” is an insult to Jamal’s memory and to journalism. When history looks back at this period, this Atlantic piece will shine as an example of how the path to the resurgence of brutal, global authoritarianism is paved in no small part by the worst aspects of access journalism in the United States. – Washington Post 

Michael Singh writes: To expand the alliance, the United States may have to sweeten the deal for interested states by offering incentives for joining, such as stepped-up diplomatic and security cooperation with Washington, preferential trade and tax treatment, or financial assistance for projects conducted between signatories. This illuminates a hard truth for U.S. policymakers: the Abraham Accords may point to a future in which the United States can do less in the Middle East—but to get there, the country must first do more. – Foreign Policy 

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon has always had a huge diaspora after waves of emigration over the past two centuries, particularly as a result of the 15-year civil war that ended in 1990. Now, once again, as the country sinks deeper into economic meltdown, it faces a new exodus of its brightest and best-educated citizens. – Financial Times  

Tunisia’s interior ministry said on Saturday that security forces had foiled a planned terrorist attack and arrested a female jihadist suspected of involvement. – Reuters 

Libya’s new parliament-backed government said on Friday that an armed group linked to rival authorities had released two of its ministers held against their will, but tensions remained high between political factions. – Reuters  

Lebanon’s Bank Audi has closed more than 30 accounts belonging to UK nationals or their close relatives since a London court ordered it to transfer funds stuck in the crisis-hit banking sector to a British client, a depositors’ union said. – Reuters 

Mirette F. Mabrouk writes: Egypt has extensive and convoluted ties with both Russia and the West and it would be counterproductive to step to one side or another. For a country that consistently maintains an independent and conservative foreign policy position, the current situation is intensely complicated. – Middle East Institute  

Korean Peninsula

North Korea launched a suspected ballistic missile off its eastern coast on Saturday, South Korean and Japanese officials said, as Pyongyang appeared to continue its recent spree of weapons activity. – Wall Street Journal 

North Korea appears preparing to launch a reconnaissance satellite, a move that may prove as controversial as the nuclear-armed country’s weapons tests because they use the same banned ballistic missile technology, experts say. – Reuters  

North Korea performed data transmission and other key tests needed to develop a spy satellite, state media said Sunday, in the second such tests in about a week, indicating the country intends to conduct a prohibited long-range rocket launch soon. – Associated Press 

South Korea will elect a new president Wednesday and voters face a stark choice: a feminist-bashing conservative or a scandal-plagued liberal? So far, it’s a dead heat. – Agence France-Presse 

 South Korea said Sunday it will implement export controls against close Moscow ally Belarus for “effectively supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine”. – Agence France-Presse 

Duyeon Kim writes: South Korea’s progressive governments have traditionally taken a parochial approach to their foreign policy by prioritizing inter-Korean relations and autonomy from the United States over all issues. This could spell discord with Washington in North Korea policies while cooperation on Biden’s and Europe’s Indo-Pacific strategies could be placed on the back burner. – The National Interest  


Plowing past global anxieties over the war engulfing Ukraine, China set its economy on a course of steady expansion for 2022, prioritizing growth, job creation and increased social welfare in a year when the national leader, Xi Jinping, is poised to claim a new term in power. – New York Times 

When China’s legislature opened its weeklong annual session on Saturday, Chinese leaders were eager to use the event to bolster confidence in the country’s economy. – New York Times 

Under international agreements, North Korea isn’t supposed to be able to export its coal. That its smugglers have been doing so right under China’s nose is one reason Beijing is in focus as sanctions bear down on Russia. – Wall Street Journal  

On paper, China’s banks and its homegrown payments system could offer Russia respite from crippling Western sanctions. China has helped other nations evade sanctions, and both China and Russia share an interest in weakening the dollar’s hold on the international financial system. In practice, it isn’t that simple. – Wall Street Journal 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Beijing would work with the international community to provide “necessary mediation” between Ukraine and Russia when the time is right. – Wall Street Journal 

China is committed to “resolving the Taiwan question in the new era,” it said in its annual government report issued Saturday, using sharper wording than in previous such reports amid debate among foreign-policy experts over whether Beijing would attempt a takeover of the self-ruled island similar to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Washington Post 

China’s Red Cross will provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine “as soon as possible”, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday, as he praised his country’s friendship with Russia as “rock solid”. – Reuters 

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin toasted a friendship with “no limits” at a warm meeting in February, but just one month later that bond is being tested by the war in Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse 

Beijing urged direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine during a Saturday call between Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and his American counterpart Antony Blinken, as the war following Moscow’s invasion entered a tenth day. – Agence France-Presse 

Chinese exports in January and February rose a combined 16.3 percent on surging global demand and a spike in trade with Russia in the run-up to the war in Ukraine, according to customs data released on Monday. – Agence France-Presse 

China declared ties with Russia to be “rock solid” despite President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, while repeating earlier an accusation that the U.S. is trying to build a Pacific version of NATO. – Bloomberg 

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed zero tolerance for anything that could undermine ethnic harmony in the world’s No. 2 economy, a sign he’s sticking to assimilation policies that have led to unrest and allegations of human rights abuses. – Bloomberg  

Ukraine’s declaration that China had assured Kyiv it would help stop the war has renewed focus on Beijing’s potential role in pressuring Russia to back down. – Financial Times 

China “must” intervene to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, given the inability of the United States and European allies to stop the fighting, according to a senior European Union official. – Washington Examiner  

Keith B. Richburg writes: China now faces a new balancing act, feeling obligated to help Russia economically survive sanctions, but not help too much, to avoid collateral damage to its own economy and banking system. The Sino-Russian friendship agreement might have sounded promising to Beijing when it was signed. But Xi might find that with friends like Putin, China could end up making a lot more adversaries. – Washington Post 

Zongyuan Zoe Liu and Mihaela Papa write: A strong U.S. economy is the most effective and credible tool for countering adversaries seeking to undermine confidence in the dollar. […]The U.S. government should be aware of the unintended consequences of its sanctions policy and find ways to undermine Russia and China’s de-dollarization partnership. If Washington fails to act, it will be in effect choosing to discard the mantle of its global leadership. – Foreign Affairs 

Dustin Walker and Eric Sayers write: Bolstering U.S. support for Ukraine and Taiwan simultaneously would send a message to Beijing that its unwillingness or inability to restrain Moscow has sharpened the resolve of the international community to oppose unilateral attempts to alter the status quo by force. Moreover, a fresh initiative like this would reassure Indo-Pacific allies and partners that the United States isn’t taking its eye off the region. – Defense One 

Mike Rogers writes: If we are truly committed to stopping the war in Ukraine, we must sever the economic lifeline that Beijing built to Moscow. We must condemn its behavior openly and publicly, and call out what the Chinese Communist Party is doing to support and enable Putin’s war. We can marshal all of the allies on sanctions and more, but if we leave China’s backdoor to Russia open, we will be fighting a losing battle. – Breaking Defense

South Asia

As it seeks to counter China’s global influence and respond to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the Biden administration is confronting strains in its relationship with India, one of its most vital Asian partnerships. – Wall Street Journal 

The reaction to Pakistan’s first women’s march was relatively mild: criticism and condemnation from Islamist parties and conservatives, who called the participants “anti-religion” and “vulgar.” – New York Times  

Pakistani police investigators said on Saturday that they had identified the suicide bomber and the network behind the deadly blast on Friday at a Shiite mosque in Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan, that left at least 63 dead and nearly 200 wounded. – New York Times 


Japan this week announced it would accept refugees from Ukraine and send bulletproof vests to Kyiv — extraordinary measures taken by a country that has historically been unwelcoming to refugees and also has a self-imposed arms exports ban because of its militaristic past. – Washington Post 

Australia is planning to build a new naval base on its east coast that could offer resupply and maintenance to American nuclear submarines, increasing the capabilities of both countries in countering China in the Indo-Pacific region. – Wall Street Journal  

Japan, which counts Russia as its fifth-biggest supplier of crude oil, is in discussion with the United States and European countries about possibly banning Russian oil imports, Kyodo News reported on Monday. – Reuters   

Australia has committed A$70 million ($50 million) to fund lethal defensive weapons for Ukraine, including missiles and ammunition, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday. – Reuters   

Vietnam’s catfish and tuna exporters suspended shipments to Russia and Ukraine and are refraining from entering new contracts after the U.S. and Europe imposed sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

Tim Culpan writes: That’s not going to last. The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes the size and timing of U.S.-led rate rises uncertain, but their arrival is guaranteed. That could be a real problem if funding dries up, Southeast Asian economies slow, and revenue growth dips before they even have a chance to turn a profit. Some policy makers in the region are already shifting their focus toward battling inflation as it becomes a risk to their pandemic recoveries. – Bloomberg 


The images of Ukrainian refugee families being welcomed with an outpouring of help from ordinary Germans shares echoes of the early days of the 2015-2016 migrant crisis, when hundreds of thousands of refugees from wars in Syria and Afghanistan found safe haven in Germany. – New York Times 

Ukrainians waved European Union flags when they put their lives on the line in 2014 during their revolution in Maidan Square, in the center of Kyiv, provoked by their desire to draw closer to the West. It was a pivotal moment, choosing Europe over Russia and incurring the Kremlin’s wrath. – New York Times 

The city of Lviv, no more than 50 miles from the border with Poland, has been spared any direct attack so far in the first 10 days of Russia’s invasion. But it is rapidly becoming an important rear base — channeling supplies and men to the frontline cities and supporting hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the other way. – New York Times 

German companies do far more business in Russia than any other European Union country does, exporting goods worth more than 26 billion euros ($28.4 billion) last year (Poland was second with €8 billion) and investing a further €25 billion in operations there. – New York Times 

Members of Congress on Sunday emphasized what has become a widely held position on Capitol Hill: that the United States should respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by banning Russian oil imports, but not by imposing a no-fly zone over the country that could draw nuclear powers into war. – New York Times 

The Biden administration is discussing how to supply Polish Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine, American officials say, after President Volodymyr Zelensky made a passionate plea to American legislators on Saturday for assistance in obtaining more lethal military aid, especially Russian-made jets that Ukrainian pilots know how to fly. – New York Times 

If Russian forces advance to the Moldovan border, some Moldovans fear that Russia will soon either recognize Transnistria, much as it did with Ukraine’s self-declared separatist republics — giving Moscow a similar pretext to officially occupy it — and perhaps even later absorb it into either a pro-Russian Ukraine or Russia itself. – New York Times 

For half a century, the Le Pen family has defined France’s far right and led one of Europe’s most prominent populist parties. Now, that legacy is under siege. – Wall Street Journal  

Social media posts claim that three NATO countries will give 70 warplanes to Ukraine to aid the fight against invading Russian forces. This is misleading; while Kyiv said Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia would provide the aircraft, officials from all three countries denied that they would do so. – Agence France-Presse 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had recorded 1,534,792 refugees on its dedicated website by 1335 GMT, almost 166,000 more than the previous count on Saturday. – Agence France-Presse 

Denmark’s PM called on Sunday for citizens to vote to overturn its opt-out from EU defence policy in a referendum to be held June 1, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse 

For years, the Serbian president has tried to maintain cozy relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia while also cultivating ties with the European Union, which his country seeks to join, and with the West more broadly. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has placed Vučić in an acute dilemma and already put the Balkan country at odds with the EU, the United States and other powers as it refuses to impose sanctions on Moscow. – Politico 

Western countries must back the creation of a special tribunal to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian foreign minister said. – Politico 

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Kiril Petkov says his country is no longer “soft” on Russia — but acknowledges Sofia still has red lines when it comes to responding to Russian aggression. – Politico 

European currencies are plunging to new lows as the war in Ukraine escalates, spurring macro traders to sell some of their most liquid assets. – Bloomberg 

The disputed territory Transnistria – a former Soviet breakaway state situated between Moldova and Ukraine -denied that it is mobilizing forces for war with Ukraine in a series of government statements on Saturday and Thursday. – Jerusalem Post 

Nordic governments are scaling up defense cooperation and preparedness planning against the backdrop of regional tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Defense News 

Editorial: Whatever new order might emerge from this terrible war and the likely occupation of Ukraine, it is the duty of every leader to prepare their countries for it, even if the pain it will cause is still unknown. – New York Times 

Boris Johnson writes: It is no longer enough to express warm platitudes about the rules-based international order. We are going to have to actively defend it against a sustained attempt to rewrite the rules by force and other tools, such as economic coercion. We must restore effective deterrence in Europe, where, for too long, the very success of NATO and of America’s security guarantee has bred complacency. What happens in Europe will have profound implications worldwide. – New York Times 

Max Bergmann and Benjamin Haddad write: The war in Ukraine is a turning point. It has given a new sense of purpose to NATO, reaffirmed transatlantic unity and shown that Europeans can step up in solidarity and support an embattled democracy. This moment should help us move beyond old taboos. A strong and sovereign EU is an asset for NATO, and the Biden administration should embrace tangible European ambitions. It’s time for the EU to act. – Politico 

Paul J. Davies writes: Going after oligarchs is just one part of the wider strategy meant to cut off Putin’s access to finance and resources that can in anyway help his brutal war. One wonders why the U.K. has not acted as swiftly and effectively as its allies. – Bloomberg 

Rachel Sanderson writes: This underlines the importance of having Draghi as Italy’s prime minister rather than a League-backed Putin apologist. Having Italy back a united front with France and Germany adds heft to the bloc. It’s not just that Italy brings greater unity to Europe: Italy diversifies the European viewpoint so not all policy thinking emanates from the Franco-German camp.  – Bloomberg 

The Americas

A group of senior U.S. officials flew to Venezuela on Saturday for a meeting with President Nicolás Maduro’s government to discuss the possibility of easing sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports as the Biden administration weighs a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas, according to two people familiar with the situation. – Washington Post 

The prospect of a wave of Ukrainian refugees comes when Canada is still far short of fulfilling its plan to admit 40,000 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, a delay that has prompted criticism. But Canada’s large population of people with Ukrainian heritage has created a welcoming committee. – New York Times 

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp said on Friday it had temporarily suspended its reporting from the ground in Russia, citing a new law that could mean jail for those found to be intentionally spreading “fake” news. – Reuters  


Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday intensified a crackdown on media outlets and individuals who fail to hew to the Kremlin line on Russia’s war in Ukraine, blocking Facebook and Twitter and signing into law a bill that criminalizes the intentional spreading of what Moscow deems to be “fake” reports. – Associated Press 

The hacker attack on the satellite network provider Viasat was apparently a targeted cyber attack. The company offers its customers fast, satellite-based Internet connections – including in Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, the provider had experienced significant malfunctions. – Jerusalem Post 

NATO nations voted unanimously on Friday to admit Ukraine to their Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), a development which experts said will help Ukraine fight off mounting cyberthreats from Russia. – CyberScoop 

Christopher Mims writes: The war in Ukraine has twinned cyberweaponry with tanks and other traditional tools of war in a way we haven’t seen before. The digital attacks started first, and they could well continue even after the shooting stops. – Wall Street Journal  

Glenn S. Gerstell writes: Russia’s war on Ukraine might be that “future emergency.” If we don’t want to have to worry about Russian hackers contaminating our drinking water every time we turn on the faucet, now is the time to rethink our approach. – New York Times 

Jacquelyn Schneider writes: Finally, one lesson from wargaming is that player “type” matters—for whether cyber leads to escalation and whether crises escalate in general. In our games, the vast majority of players chose not to use nuclear weapons. But, a minority of players were going to escalate in the game no matter what capabilities or vulnerabilities we gave them. As Putin’s veiled nuclear threats and risk-taking behavior in Ukraine suggest, there is only so much a country can do in the face of such an enemy, and there are plenty of non-cyber pathways to escalation. – Foreign Affairs 


The “vast majority” of a $350 million military aid package the U.S. promised to send Ukraine has reached the country, with most of the rest to be delivered within the next week, a senior U.S. defense official said Friday. – The Hill   

U.S. efforts to catch up with China and Russia in developing hypersonic weapons may be set back after Lockheed Martin Corp.’s air-launched missile suffered three consecutive test failures that left it on a tight schedule. – Bloomberg 

The National Defense Industrial Association’s chief executive is stepping down, citing a disagreement about the direction and leadership of the association. – Defense News  

The Space Force is changing the structure of its acquisition field command to improve integration between its programs and position the command to counter growing threats in space. – Defense News 

The first B-21 Raider bomber has entered the ground test phase, paving the way for its expected rollout this year and subsequent first flight. – Defense News 

The Marine Corps this week formally converted its Hawaii-based regiment into the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, taking another step in the pursuit of its new island-hopping strategy in the Indo-Pacific. – USNI News 

US Space Command is working to improve its capability keep tabs on what is happening in space — including looking to ground- and ship-based missile defense platforms as additional sources of much needed data, SPACECOM head Gen. Jim Dickinson said today. – Breaking Defense 

Editorial: Recent history, however, shows that he will invent provocations even when the West shows restraint, and that Ukraine cannot be left at the mercy of Russian artillery. The right response therefore is to extend as much military aid to Ukraine as it can effectively use, without triggering negative security consequences for Europe and the United States. The world now depends on the ability of the Biden administration and U.S. allies to strike that balance. – Washington Post 

David Ignatius writes: The remarks here by America’s top military leader illustrate once again the delicate balance the United States and its NATO allies are trying to strike between supporting Ukraine with lethal weapons and other aid — but avoiding direct confrontation with Russian forces that could lead to a wider conflict and increase the cataclysmic risk of nuclear war. – Washington Post 

John R. Deni writes: In addition to recent temporary increases in US rotational presence, Washington should shift toward permanent presence of armor, combat aviation, electronic warfare, drone, engineer, and air defense units. Additionally, Italy, Spain, and France—given their military size and importance in the alliance—must commit interoperable, battalion-size units of around 800 troops each to permanent basing in Poland or Lithuania as well. – New York Post