Fdd's overnight brief

May 16, 2022

In The News


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met Saturday with a U.S. Senate delegation led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in Kyiv, calling the visit “a powerful signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the U.S. Congress and the American people,” his presidential office said. – Washington Post 

The destruction wreaked on a Russian battalion as it tried to cross a river in northeastern Ukraine last week is emerging as among the deadliest engagements of the war, with estimates based on publicly available evidence now suggesting that well over 400 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded. – New York Times  

Russia attacked positions in eastern Ukraine as it tries to encircle Ukrainian forces in the Donbas and fend off a counteroffensive around the city of Izium.- Reuters  

The counter-offensive has been Ukraine’s most successful since it expelled Russian troops from the north of the country and the area around the capital Kyiv at the end of March, and signals a new turning point in the battle for the east. – Reuters 

Russia has probably lost around a third of the ground forces it deployed to Ukraine and its offensive in the Donbas region “has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule”, British military intelligence said on Sunday. – Reuters  

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that Moscow was the target of “total hybrid war” by the West but would withstand sanctions by forging deeper partnerships with China, India and others. – Reuters  

Russia’s offensive in Ukraine is failing and its operation in the Donbass region has stalled, NATO’s secretary general said on Sunday. – Reuters  

Ukrainian troops defending the city of Kharkiv have reached the state border with Russia, the regional governor said on Monday. – Reuters 

With its military bogged down in a grinding conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russia also lost diplomatic ground over the weekend as two more European nations moved closer to joining NATO. – Associated Press 

The portable radio in the dark cellar of the rocket-damaged kindergarten was transmitting news in Russian over whistling airwaves about the Kremlin’s military triumphs in Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse 

The Group of Seven leading economies warned Saturday that the war in Ukraine is stoking a global food and energy crisis which threatens poor countries, and urgent measures are needed to unblock stores of grain that Russia is preventing from leaving Ukraine. – Associated Press 

Russia’s ambassador to the US hinted at a split in the Kremlin Sunday — as NATO declared Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is not going to plan, according to reports. – New York Post 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday urged President Biden to name Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, which would lift sovereign immunity protections shielding the country from being sued for civil damages. – The Hill  

With President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine stalling, other former Soviet states are weighing prospects for pulling away from Moscow’s orbit even as they fear risks of potential border conflict. – Bloomberg 

In a sweeping new prediction, a top Ukrainian general says Russia’s war on Ukraine will be finished by year’s end, with a turning point favoring Ukraine coming as soon as the second part of August. Major General Kyrylo Budanov, who heads Ukraine’s military intelligence division, also told Sky News that a coup to oust Vladimir Putin is already under way and that the Russian leader is seriously ill with cancer. – New York Sun 

Ukraine has deployed many of its new US M-777 howitzers at the front lines and Washington has delivered all but one of the 90 artillery pieces they were due to send, the US embassy in Kyiv said on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post 

David Von Drehle writes: Whether to weaken Russia further is not principally a question for the United States. It’s a question for Vladimir Putin. Every day he continues to fight in Ukraine, he weakens Russia. Putin would be wise to accept the French invitation to negotiate the terms of his capitulation. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence remaining that he is capable of wisdom. – Washington Post 

John Bolton writes: What happens in future negotiations is unknowable, but it would be a significant blow to American credibility globally to come as close as Ukraine has to defeating a superpower only to give away at the negotiating table what has been won at such a high cost on the battlefield. We do not have forever to make up our minds. – New York Post 

Herman Pirchnes Jr. writes: All of this means that a critical mass of Russia’s elites who want Putin removed is beginning to coalesce. When and how such an exit will be orchestrated remains to be seen. For the moment, it is still both dangerous and difficult. But as the Ukraine war drags on, the case for a new Russian leader will become increasingly compelling. That’s why, perhaps for the first time since he took power in the last days of 1999, it’s no longer premature to think about a Russia without Putin. – The Hill 


The European Union’s foreign policy chief said Friday he is hopeful that stalled talks with Iran over the country’s nuclear program can reach an agreement. – Associated Press 

For the first time since 2005, Iran has allowed a United Nations special rapporteur to visit the repressive country. But the mandate of the UN rapporteur and the reasons for her visit have prompted controversy and concern among Iranian activists and foreign rights groups. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Spreading protests across Iran over a cut in state subsidies on food have turned political with slogans calling for top leaders to step down, according to posts on social media, and unconfirmed reports said at least four protesters were killed. – Reuters  

Iran is considering the possibility of exporting gas to Europe, an oil ministry official said on Sunday, against the backdrop of soaring energy prices due to Russia’s war in Ukraine. – Arutz Sheva 

Several contradictory signals were put out this week about whether or not a deal may be imminent around June 6-10, when a deal between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Tehran signed in March is supposed to expire. – Jerusalem Post 

Iran abruptly raised prices by as much as 300% for a variety of staples such as cooking oil, chicken, eggs, and milk on Thursday. Scores of alarmed Iranians waited in long lines to snatch up bundles of food and emptied supermarket shelves across the country in the hours before the price hike took effect. – Associated Press 

Protests over soaring food prices continued in several cities in Iran on Saturday, according to postings on social media, while an Iranian lawmaker told local media one person was killed in a demonstration in the southwest.- Reuters  

The European Union on Friday said it believed it had breathed fresh life into stalled efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but both Iran and the United States put the onus on the other to compromise and there was no date set for new talks. – Reuters  

The U.S. State Department said on Friday it appreciated the European Union’s efforts to revive talks on restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal but said there was no agreement yet and no certainty that one might be reached. – Reuters  

David Albright writes: The Biden Administration should first make it clear that a nuclear deal cannot be implemented unless Iran answers the IAEA truthfully and is well along in addressing the IAEA safeguards concerns by the June deadline. The IAEA and the United States should both have credible evidence that Iran does not have unresolved safeguards issues and violations. The U.S. Congress should quickly pass legislation codifying and extending that policy and ensuring that if Iran continues its subterfuges, sanctions will remain in place, and increase stepwise, until the Iranian regime finally tells the truth and verifiably eliminates all facets of its nuclear weapons efforts. – Institute for Science and International Security 

Emil Avdaliani writes: Russia’s poor military performance, and the West’s ability to act unanimously, serve as a warning for the Islamic Republic that it may one day have to soak up even more Western pressure if Europe, the US, and other democracies act in union. In the meantime, like China, Iran will hope to benefit from the magnetic pull of the Ukraine war. With so much governmental, military and diplomatic attention demanded by the conflict, it will for the time being serve as a distraction from Iran’s ambitions elsewhere. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


Thousands of money exchangers shut shop across Afghanistan on Sunday after Taliban authorities imposed a steep hike in licence fees, the brokers’ commission said, in a bid to slow down money laundering and terrorism financing according to financial analysts. – Agence France-Presse  

As anti-Taliban resistance fighters ramp up attacks against the Kabul regime, an Afghanistan veteran turned congressman says it’s time for America to begin supporting their efforts, an idea that also got last week the endorsement of President Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton. – New York Sun 

Editorial: Terror attacks on individual Americans are attacks on the entire nation, which thus has a moral obligation to provide whatever compensation it can. But fairly — not by picking a select few to reward while neglecting thousands of others. – New York Post  

Shabana Basij-Rasikh writes: I understand this, too: To be female in Afghanistan today is to feel suffocated. If I succeed at conveying anything with my words, I hope it’s this. The sense of suffocation. The sense of peril in the face of the incoming tide. – Washington Post 

Jonathan S. Tobin writes: As much as Americans will remain at odds about abortion, events in Afghanistan are a reminder that if you’re really interested in defending women, the best place to start is in nations under the thumb of Islamist theocrats, not at the Supreme Court. – New York Post 


Israeli police launched an investigation into a violent melee that took place before the funeral of a prominent Palestinian-American journalist, amid growing international condemnation of officers who fought with casket bearers trying to march to a Jerusalem church. – Wall Street Journal  

Palestinians rallied Sunday to mark the “Nakba,” or catastrophe, 74 years after Israel’s creation, with condemnation spreading over a police raid on the funeral of a slain journalist. – Agence France-Press 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Saturday condemned the attack on mourners at the East Jerusalem funeral procession of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. – The Hill  

A terror attack was foiled in Samaria early Monday morning, when a Palestinian Arab man armed with an axe was arrested en route to a planned attack. – Arutz Sheva 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addressed the deaths of Border Policeman Noam Raz and IDF officer Lieutenant Colonel Mahmoud Kheir El-Din, who were killed in counter-terrorism operations. – Arutz Sheva 

The Erez Crossing with the Gaza Strip reopened on Sunday morning, nearly two weeks after it was closed, drawing mixed responses from Israeli lawmakers. – Times of Israel 

The IDF arrested nine Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity on Sunday night, with soldiers operating in a number of locations throughout the West Bank as part of Operation Break the Wave. – Jerusalem Post 

One Israeli was lightly injured in a violent scuffle in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market on Sunday. Palestinian media reported the brawl as having taken place between Jews and Arabs. – Jerusalem Post 

An Israeli man was attacked by a mob and lynched in the Palestinian town of Isawiya in east Jerusalem on Sunday night. – Jerusalem Post 

The Palestinian Authority will continue to pay allowances to the families of Palestinian prisoners and those killed while carrying out attacks against Israel, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post 

A police commando who was seriously wounded amid fierce exchanges of fire between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in the northern West Bank this morning has died of his wounds, police say. – Times of Israel 

The Israeli military on Sunday released the name of a special forces officer killed during a blown undercover operation in the Gaza Strip in November 2018: Lt. Col. Mahmoud Khier al-Din. – Jewish National Syndicate 


Forces from the regional Kurdish government have taken control of some oil wells in northern Kirkuk, Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company said in a statement on Saturday, but the Kurdish government denied this. – Reuters  

During a roundtable discussion with journalists, outgoing US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew H. Tueller underlined that the US government takes no position on whether Iraq’s next government should be majority or consensus-based. – Kurdistan 24 

A British tourist and a German tourist who were accused of smuggling ancient shards out of Iraq appeared in a Baghdad court in yellow detainees’ uniforms on Sunday, telling judges that they had not acted with criminal intent, and that they had no idea they might have broken local laws. – Associated Press 


Lebanese voted Sunday to choose a new government in the country’s first parliamentary election since the onset of a once-in-a-century economic collapse and since the deadly 2020 Beirut port explosion sparked widespread demands for accountability from those in power. – Wall Street Journal 

After years abroad working as a school administrator, Anahid Jobanian returned to Lebanon to live off her savings for a simple retirement. But that plan fell apart as the country collapsed. Lebanon’s banks imploded, wiping out her savings. Prices for nearly everything soared, leaving her struggling to afford her heart and diabetes medications. – New York Times 

Iran-backed Hezbollah has been dealt a blow in Lebanon’s parliamentary election with preliminary results showing losses for some of its oldest allies and the Saudi-aligned Lebanese Forces party saying it had gained seats. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This means Hezbollah wants to claim it will take any future conflict out to sea, and it has long bragged of wanting to roll out new anti-ship missiles. Hezbollah’s anti-ship missiles have proven to be dangerous in the past. In 2006, it used a C-802 anti-ship missile to target Israel’s navy. Hezbollah has claimed new anti-ship missiles in 2017 and 2019. Hezbollah’s rejection of US mediation about the border issue is linked to this. If it can roll out the anti-ship cruise missile, new threats at sea will emerge. – Jerusalem Post 

Hrair Balian writes: Following the parliamentary elections, Lebanese civil society mobilized since October 2019 must focus on an inclusive national assembly with the aim of addressing the underlying constitutional and related failings of the country, including the sectarian system. The international community could assist such an effort through incentives and, when necessary, coercive measures. – Middle East Institute

Arabian Peninsula

United Arab Emirates strongman Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who was formally elected president on Saturday, led a realignment of the Middle East that created a new anti-Iran axis with Israel and fought a rising tide of political Islam in the region. – Reuters 

President Isaac Herzog on Sunday met with new UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi to pay his condolences following the death of the Gulf state’s leader Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. – Associated Press 

The UAE’s new president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held talks Sunday with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron as world leaders streamed in to Abu Dhabi to pay tribute to his predecessor. – Agence France-Presse 

Vice President Kamala Harris will make a trip to the United Arab Emirates on Monday, leading a presidential delegation to express in-person condolences on the death of the country’s president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. – CNN 

The first commercial flight in nearly six years took off from Yemen’s rebel-held capital on Monday, a major step forward in a peace process that has provided rare relief from conflict. – Agence France-Presse 

Middle East & North Africa

U.S. officials said Friday that Washington’s easing of sanctions on parts of Syria outside Damascus’ control was needed to alleviate an economic crisis and prevent a resurgence by Islamic State militants, as Turkey criticized the policy shift. – Wall Street Journal  

Thousands of Tunisians protested on Sunday against President Kais Saied, demanding a return to the normal democratic order and rejecting his replacement of the independent electoral commission with one he named himself. – Reuters  

Islamic state on Saturday claimed responsibility for a deadly attack that killed five Egyptian soldiers in the country’s Sinai peninsula on Wednesday, the group said on its Telegram channel. – Reuters  

Tunisia has raised the prices of domestic electricity and gas, a government official said on Friday, the latest in a series of price hikes in a country whose public finances are under increasing strain. – Reuters  

Egypt expects to reach a new programme with the International Monetary Fund “within months”, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Sunday in a televised news conference. – Reuters 

US President Joe Biden met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at the White House on Friday, as a long-standing demand for the extradition of a wanted Palestinian terrorist currently residing in Amman resurfaced from a member of Congress. – Algemeiner 

Thirty-year-old Oumaima Mhijir from Morocco took her 6-month-old daughter Amber with her to visit Israel for the first time this month, despite the objections of her family back home. – Algemeiner 

Images published by Israeli intelligence firm ImageSat International (ISI) of a site allegedly struck by Israel on Friday show its complete destruction. – Jerusalem Post 

Korean Peninsula

Leader Kim Jong Un has ordered North Korea’s military to stabilize distribution of COVID-19 medicines in the capital, Pyongyang, in the battle on the country’s first confirmed outbreak of the disease, state media said. – Reuters  

North Korea said on Sunday a total of 42 people had died as the country began its fourth day under a nationwide lockdown aimed at stopping the impoverished country’s first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak. – Reuters  

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol indicated his new government will take part in a regional economic group Joe Biden is expected to soon unveil, in a show of support for the US president days before he arrives in Seoul for talks. – Bloomberg 

South Korea’s unification ministry has offered to hold working-level talks with North Korea on offering support for its neighbor, which is battling its first confirmed outbreak of COVID-19, the ministry said on Monday. – Reuters 

North Korea appears to be gearing up to rejuvenate its nuclear capability, with new satellite images showing the hermit nation reviving construction at a previously sidelined nuclear reactor. – Washington Examiner  

Editorial: For the West, North Korea’s predicament might offer a small opening. Since the failed Hanoi summit in 2019, efforts to re-engage North Korea have been frozen. Why not offer the highly effective mRNA vaccines — or, for that matter, any vaccines and medicines — without conditions related to Mr. Kim’s weapons programs? His belligerency and weapons programs make it difficult. But the worse option is doing nothing to stop a tragedy. – Washington Post 


More than two years of border restrictions and a protracted lockdown of Shanghai are prompting some Chinese citizens to contemplate emigration, a prospect once unthinkable for many of them. – Wall Street Journal   

Senator Marco Rubio warned Miami mayor Francis Suarez that the Chinese Communist Party is continuing its efforts to influence local government officials. While there has been previous concern about Chinese influence efforts at the state and municipal levels, Rubio’s letter this week to Suarez, the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, followed a recent incident in his city. – National Review 

Nancy Pelosi writes: For the people of Hong Kong — and for all yearning for freedom around the world — the entire international community has a responsibility to forcefully speak out against these arrests and demand that the CCP end its abuses. The world is watching. – Washington Post 

South Asia

As the U.S. and its Western allies move to reduce Russian oil imports, India is heading in the other direction. – Wall Street Journal  

India, the world’s second-largest wheat producer, has banned exports of the grain with some exceptions, a move that could compound a worldwide shortfall worsened by the war in Ukraine and exacerbate an already dire forecast for hunger across the globe. – New York Times 

The bonhomie from European leaders in recent weeks towards Narendra Modi capped a frantic period of international diplomacy for the Indian prime minister, despite his refusal to break ties with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. – Financial Times 


Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki on Sunday urged Japan’s central government to do more to reduce the U.S. military presence in the southern island group as it marked the 50th anniversary of its return to Japan after 27 years of American rule, amid frustration and bitterness over a lack of support from the mainland. – Associated Press 

President Joe Biden on Friday announced he’s nominating one of his top national security aides as ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, aiming to underscore his administration’s commitment to the Pacific region. – Associated Press 

Malaysia Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah met his counterpart from Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow administration outlawed by the ruling military junta, in the group’s first open engagement with a Southeast Asian country. – Reuters  

Malaysia views U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposed Indo-Pacific economic bloc as a welcome initiative but sees a bigger immediate opportunity in selling its access to a China-led trade pact to lure investment from global companies, Malaysia’s trade minister said on Friday. – Reuters 

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday a first summit in Washington with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) marked the launch of a “new era” in the relationship between the United States and the 10-nation bloc. – Reuters   

A Chinese intelligence ship tracked off Australia’s west coast within 50 nautical miles of a sensitive defence facility did not breach international maritime laws, Australia said on Saturday. – Reuters 

Joseph Bosco writes: A successful Black Sea operation of this nature would also send a strong message to China, which has increasingly aggressive designs on Taiwan and endorses Russia’s claims on Ukraine. It would demonstrate Washington’s ability and willingness to break an attempted Chinese blockade in the Taiwan Strait. Such a deterrent signal is essential given the continuation of U.S. strategic ambiguity under the Biden administration despite his personal expression of intention to defend Taiwan. – National Interest 

Donald Kirk writes: Bongbong, however, prefers gentle diplomacy to shows of force. “We will explain to China that our vessels are not a military threat,” he said during the campaign. No way, while negotiating with the Chinese, will he support U.S. claims that the South China Sea is open to everyone, including U.S. warships. – The Hill  

David Sacks writes: The unfolding war in Ukraine offers important lessons for China, Taiwan, and the United States. Whichever side adapts more deftly will do much to determine whether deterrence holds or a conflict that would fundamentally alter the world arrives. – Foreign Affairs 


Sweden’s ruling party dropped the country’s historic military nonalignment on Sunday and agreed to join NATO, shortly after Finland’s leaders officially announced they would do the same. – Washington Post 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spurred Finland to set aside long-standing concerns about provoking Russia and seek NATO membership, a major strategic setback for Russia. The invasion also means there’s little Russia can do about it. – Washington Post 

AP Finland said Sunday it would seek parliamentary approval to join NATO as Kyiv’s forces began a counteroffensive toward the eastern city of Izyum, which Ukrainian officials said was aimed at disrupting Russian supply lines into the Donbas region. – Wall Street Journal  

NATO and the United States said on Sunday they were confident Turkey would not hold up membership of Finland and Sweden in the Western military alliance, as the two Nordic states took firm steps to join in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

Sweden and Finland joining NATO would increase the security of the Baltic region, Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said. – Reuters  

Canada hopes for a swift ratification process should Finland and Sweden decide to apply for NATO membership, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Sunday. – Reuters  

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is heading to Northern Ireland on Monday to try to end a political deadlock that is preventing the formation of a regional administration. – Associated Press 

Germany plans to stop importing Russian oil by the end of the year even if the European Union fails to agree on an EU-wide ban in its next set of sanctions, government officials said. – Bloomberg

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson will seek broad support for an application to join NATO on Monday, she announced on Sunday after her party dropped its long-standing opposition to membership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters  

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to resolve a standoff with the European Union over Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade rules, but he kept open the option of unilateral action that the EU says could start a trade war. – Reuters  

Turkey’s foreign minister said on Sunday that Sweden and Finland must stop supporting terrorist groups in their countries, provide clear security guarantees and lift export bans on Turkey as they seek membership in NATO. – Reuters 

A Russian energy supplier officially cut off electricity to Finland on Saturday ahead of the Nordic country’s expected announcement that it plans to join NATO. – The Hill  

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that he is “confident” that NATO will accept Finland and Sweden’s applications to join the alliance despite Turkey’s reservations over their membership. – The Hill  

Austria reported a record number of antisemitic incidents during 2021 according to a new report released on Friday, providing further confirmation of the upward trend in anti-Jewish acts globally. – Algemeiner 

Switzerland’s fabled neutral status is about to face its biggest test in decades, with the defence ministry tilting closer to Western military powers in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Reuters  

Lionel Laurent writes: Yet delivering on crude threats won’t help. It would likely make a US trade deal more distant for the UK and drive a deeper wedge between Western allies during wartime. Defense ties have been insulated from trade tensions so far, MEP Sean Kelly tells me, but it’s hard to see how that could continue. A lot has changed since Johnson first suggested Macron get a grip and focus on their common threats in a more menacing world. It’s time he suivez his own advice. – Bloomberg 

Martin Kragh writes: Nevertheless, decades of propaganda and coercive diplomacy by Russian authorities have been unable to prevent Sweden and Finland from moving closer toward NATO. The coming weeks and months will see the geostrategic balance in the Baltic Sea shift decisively, a serious blow to Russia’s foreign policy goals for the region. – Center for European Policy Analysis  


In a fortified tent guarded by peacekeeping forces, hundreds of lawmakers elected a new president in Somalia on Sunday, capping a violent election season that threatened to push the Horn of Africa nation toward a breakdown. – New York Times 

Mali is pulling out of a multi-national military force in West Africa’s Sahel region combatting an Islamist insurgency, the country’s military junta said in a statement on Sunday. – Reuters  

Former Somali leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud won the presidency again in voting by parliamentarians on Sunday in an airport hangar protected by blast walls from Islamist insurgents whom he must now fight for a second time. – Reuters  

Chadian police fired tear gas and used water canon to disperse hundreds of protesters who took to the streets of the capital and other towns in an anti-French protest that saw the destruction of some French-linked businesses.- Reuters  

The Americas

A Venezuelan woman who rose from being the late President Hugo Chávez’s nurse to the nation’s treasurer has been extradited from Spain to the U.S. to face money-laundering charges. – Associated Press 

Russian diplomats in Washington are being threatened with violence and U.S. intelligence services try to make contact with them, Tass news agency cited the ambassador as saying on Saturday. – Reuters 

Just weeks before the Summit of the Americas, U.S. ambassadors to several Latin American countries are still not in place and the Biden administration is contending with an outcry about potentially holding the gathering without some of the region’s leftist leaders. – NBC News 


A new forum for the U.S. and European Union to settle differences on trade and technology policy has taken on added significance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with supporters positioning it as a model for broader cooperation among free-market democracies. – Wall Street Journal  

The Italian police have thwarted hacking attacks by pro-Russian groups during the May 10 semifinal and the May 14 final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, authorities say. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Finland and Sweden’s move to join NATO has raised concerns about potential cyber retaliation from Russia, which sees the expansion of the alliance as a direct threat. – The Hill 


Even without a proposed $20 billion military aid package the Senate is considering, the United States is already the largest donor of military aid to Ukraine as it defends itself against a Russian invasion. – Washington Post 

The Pentagon is deploying 10,500 troops in the coming months to replace military units that were rapidly deployed to Europe to bolster NATO’s eastern edge after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. – Military Times  

The U.S. Navy remains opposed to buying ship-launched nuclear weapons, even though some in the Pentagon have pushed back. – Defense News 

U.S. President Joe Biden plans to nominate Laura Taylor-Kale, an Obama administration trade official, as the Pentagon’s industrial policy chief, the White House announced Friday. – Defense News 

Cynthia R. Cook and Anna M. Dowd write: All these process changes and organizational innovations will take effort — and the journey may be slowed by NATO’s consensus-building culture. Transformation takes time, but it only begins when there is a clear case for change. The scale and scope of Russia’s attack on Ukraine provides that case, and the delivery of Starlink provides an example of what could be possible if NATO had a more flexible approach to acquisitions. – War on the Rocks  

Gregory C. Allen writes: The primary barriers to increased adoption of commercial technology by the DOD are bureaucratic in nature, not because commercial technology does not meet warfighter needs. […]Ostensibly, all these expensive and time-consuming regulations and procedures are aimed at keeping DOD technology safe and secure, but Ukrainian soldiers have learned that staying in one place is an invitation to a Russian missile or artillery strike. […]The coming weeks and months will see the geostrategic balance in the Baltic Sea shift decisively, a serious blow to Russia’s foreign policy goals for the region. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Long War

The United States is poised to remove five extremist groups, all believed to be defunct, from its list of foreign terrorist organizations, including several that once posed significant threats, killing hundreds if not thousands of people across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. – Associated Press 

Plans to install permanent anti-terror barriers on some London bridges are in doubt due to funding issues. – BBC 

Emily Estelle writes: The coming years will more likely see the Salafi-jihadi movement’s renewal than its decline or vanquishing. Historians will view this period as a relative calm before a storm and a missed opportunity to act proactively against the next wave of a known danger. – American Enterprise Institute