Fdd's overnight brief

May 17, 2022

In The News


The European Union’s economy would likely contract during the remainder of this year if supplies of natural gas from Russia were to be halted soon, with the deepest recessions felt by countries that rely on that source for much of their energy generation, the bloc said Monday. – Wall Street Journal 

As Ukraine’s military continues to take back Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine, outperforming expectations among leaders globally about its abilities before Russia’s invasion, ambitions are growing in Kyiv about what would define victory. – Wall Street Journal 

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is pursuing a high-stakes deal with Russia, Turkey and other nations to open up Ukrainian food exports to world markets and stave off a potential global food shortage, according to diplomats familiar with the effort. – Wall Street Journal 

Ukrainian fighters have ended their weeks-long defense of a besieged steel plant in the strategic port city of Mariupol, as hundreds of combatants — dozens of them seriously wounded — were evacuated from the complex Monday. – Washington Post 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Monday drew parallels between the financial pressure that the United States and its allies are imposing on Russia to the efforts of a 1940s Treasury secretary to deny financial resources to Nazi Germany. – Reuters 

Ukraine’s military command said in early hours on Tuesday that the mission to defend the besieged Azovstal steel plant by “the heroes of our time” in the strategic southern port of Mariupol is over and pledged to rescue servicemen still trapped inside. – Reuters 

President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that there was no threat to Russia if Sweden and Finland joined NATO but cautioned that Moscow would respond if the U.S.-led alliance bolstered military infrastructure in the new Nordic members. – Reuters  

Nine civilians were killed by Russian attacks on Monday in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, the region’s governor said. – Reuters 

At least 10 civilians were killed by Russian shelling of the city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine on Monday, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said. – Reuters 

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday urged other members of a Russian-dominated military alliance to stand united, and accused the West of hoping to prolong the conflict in Ukraine to try to weaken Russia as much as possible. – Reuters 

The Kremlin said on Monday that reported attempts by the U.S. FBI and CIA to recruit embassy staff in Washington were unacceptable. – Reuters 

Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday it was working to evacuate all remaining troops from their last stronghold in the besieged port of Mariupol, ceding control of the city to Russia after months of bombardment. – Reuters 

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Monday that attempts by the West and the G7 group of nations in particular to isolate Moscow have worsened global food shortages. – Reuters 

Almost three months after Russia shocked the world by invading Ukraine, its military faces a bogged-down war, the prospect of a bigger NATO, and an opponent buoyed Sunday by wins on and off the battlefield. – Associated Press 

President Joe Biden on Monday thanked Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for his country’s “moral leadership” in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the two held talks at the White House on Monday about the ongoing conflict. – Associated Press 

The quick acceptance of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s aggression puts a spotlight on Europe’s “double standard” for migrants, standing against its nonwelcome for people fleeing violence in Africa, the Mideast and elsewhere, the head of the world’s largest humanitarian network said Monday. – Associated Press 

Russian military commanders are having their own injured soldiers killed, according to some taken prisoner by Ukrainian forces. – Newsweek   

The European Union said companies can keep buying gas without breaching sanctions, as it softened its stance in a standoff with Moscow over energy supplies. – Bloomberg 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ruled out potential concessions to Russia that could lead to a cease-fire in the war with Russia and said the European Union faces “moral failure” if it doesn’t approve the nation’s candidacy for membership by June. – Bloomberg  

The Russian military has lost a significant portion of its ground forces in Ukraine since invading nearly three months ago while its latest offensive has stalled, according to the United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry. – Washington Examiner 

For over 80 days, Ukraine has successfully defended itself against a much larger Russian army, and now Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is convinced victory could soon be near, he said. – Fox News 

Editorial: Mr. Putin “is probably counting on U.S. and [European Union] resolve to weaken as food shortages, inflation, and energy prices get worse,” Ms. Haines said. NATO leaders must give Mr. Putin no reason to believe that such a strategy will work. – Washington Post 

Garry Kasparov writes: The free world that won the Cold War is remembering how to fight and rediscovering the values that give meaning to the fight. That’s bad news for Mr. Putin and the other dictators watching closely, from Beijing to Tehran to Caracas. Ukrainians are fighting for their lives and their nation, and for the free world. Let it not be as a proxy, but as a partner. – Wall Street Journal 

Seth Cropsey writes: Ukraine’s geography and fight for survival illustrate the often-mutual dependence of war at sea, on the land and in the air. Turning back Russia’s invasion requires that U.S. and allied assistance to Ukraine act on this fact. U.S. policy should support Ukraine’s naval defense and enable its victory at sea. – The Hill 

Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth write: Yet, even Putin would have to concede that fighting a two-front war, with one against NATO, as unwinnable. Consequently, taking the road to Moldova and bypassing Odessa for now may be his only decisive way of reacting to two more European states deciding to join NATO. – The Hill 

Harlan Ullman writes: A stronger alliance, if properly led, can be mobilized to ensure the current crisis does not become a new “hot Cold War” lasting for decades. One approach is to agree with Russia that a new security framework is crucial for Europe and begin preliminary discussion on that. A more powerful 32-member alliance could be the start of that process. – The Hill 

Edward Fishman and Chris Miller write: Given the challenges of sanctioning Russian energy exports, a traditional embargo applied globally would be difficult to implement and, even if it were possible, would send energy prices soaring. The United States and its allies would be better served by focusing on the goal of slashing Russian revenues while keeping enough Russian oil flowing to avoid a massive price spike. Imposing a reverse OPEC price cap on Russia, backed by Western sanctions, would benefit consumers the world over while focusing pressure on the petrodollars flowing into Putin’s coffers. – Foreign Affairs 

Samuel Helfont writes: As the case of Iraq shows, the Russians could complain and protest, yet they were not powerful enough to shape events in the manner that they saw fit. In the end, Moscow’s dissatisfaction with its own weakness was and remains a much more fundamental issue than NATO expansion. But addressing it would require more than simply changing a few American policies in Eastern Europe. – War on the Rocks 

Edward Lucas writes: The underlying problem is trust; many European countries, seen from the eastern flank, are still squishy on security. France is plagued by presidential egotism. Germany may have dumped its disastrous Russia policy, but has yet to find a credible new Ostpolitik focused on defending NATO’s eastern flank. The pace and scope of the Zeitenwende are both too much for some Germans, but disappointing for countries that need to rely on Berlin. Pabriks stated bluntly in Tallinn this weekend that the Baltic states’ trust in Germany is now “close to zero”. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Suzanne Nossel writes: In an era in which international conflicts implicate questions of ethnicity, national identity, language, and history, culture is not just caught in the crossfire. It is itself a battleground. Russian President Vladimir Putin has targeted his campaign against Ukraine not just to seize territory or subdue resistance but to subsume Ukraine culturally, linguistically, and territorially into Russia, denying its existence as a sovereign, independent nation. – Foreign Policy 


Iran’s top diplomat has travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday to pay his respects after the death of President Khalifa bin Zayed, Iranian state media reported, while Tehran welcomed the appointment of the Gulf state’s new ruler. – Reuters 

Iran’s state TV on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of two French citizens, saying they met with protesting teachers and took part in an anti-government rally. – Associated Press 

Authorities in Iran have arrested a university professor on security charges and “suspicious foreign links,” Iranian media reported on Monday. – Associated Press  

An award-wining Iranian filmmaker said authorities raided the offices and homes of several filmmakers and other industry professionals and arrested some of them. – Associated Press 

Iran said on Monday it awaited the US response to “solutions” discussed with the EU envoy for breaking a stalemate in talks aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. – Agence France-Presse 

Iran could postpone the death sentence expected later this month against Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmedreza Djalali, the foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday. – Agence France-Presse 

Dozens of bus drivers went on strike in the Iranian capital Monday to protest over their living conditions following demonstrations in other cities in past days, local media reported. – Agence France-Presse 

Iranian police arrested academic and author Said Madani on charges of acting “against the security” of the country and of having ties to foreign states, AFP reported on Monday, citing Iran’s Mehr news agency. – Arutz Sheva 

Economic protests continued in Iran on Sunday night, as Iranian security forces cracked down violently on protesters and the Biden administration expressed support for the demonstrations for the first time since they began. – Jerusalem Post 

Days after a reported Israeli airstrike in Syria, Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday vowed to prevent Iran from transferring “advanced capabilities” to other entities in the region. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: Considering that Israel and the UAE share the same negative opinion about the US return to the Iran nuclear deal – a move that both countries believe would only embolden Iran in its quest for regional hegemony – this would be a good time for both countries to coordinate the message that with internal dissent again on the rise in Iran, this is not the time to ease sanctions against Iran, but to keep them in place to feed the popular Iranian opposition. – Jerusalem Post 

Frances F. Townsend writes: If the successful deweaponization of Iran is a priority for our current government leaders, they would be wise to ask themselves whether an agreement made at gunpoint is one on which the world can rely. – The Hill 

Potkin Azarmehr and Steven Emerson write: Until now, Iran, sensing an over-eagerness among European countries and the United States to reinstate the nuclear agreement, has sought more concessions and taken more foreign hostages to strengthen its negotiating hand. […]If that happens, it remains to be seen if the Biden administration will send Iran another lifeline to overcome its summer of discontent, similar to when President Barack Obama sent a plane with cash after Iran accepted the original nuclear deal and released four American prisoners. – Algemeiner 

Tuvia Gering and Jason M. Brodsky write: Yet, the perception of what is strategic and significant differs on this side of the Atlantic, and the Islamic Republic of Iran does not share “identical goals” on terrorism with China and the region, but instead actively works to undermine them. For stakeholders in the region — particularly the U.S. and its allies, which have been the victims of self-described “revolutionary” state-sponsored terrorism for over 40 years — the visit was far from “business as usual.” Beijing’s resourcing of Tehran risks aggravating these issues and challenging its own interests. – Middle East Institute 


Taliban authorities in Afghanistan dissolved five key departments of the former U.S.-backed government, including the country’s Human Rights Commission, deeming them unnecessary in the face of a financial crunch, an official said on Monday. – Reuters 

Afghan citizens who worked with the U.S. are still waiting in third-party countries for their promised American visas eight months after leaving Afghanistan. – Fox News 

The Taliban have been accused of human rights abuses during clashes with resistance forces in Panjshir province, to the north of Kabul. – BBC 


Finnish and Swedish officials have declared in recent days their intention to join NATO, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But their acceptance to the alliance requires unanimous consent among members, and the leader of one such state — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey — has voiced hesitation about the two nations. – Washington Post 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother coming to Ankara to convince it to approve their NATO bid. – Reuters 

Turkey must maintain a delicate diplomatic balance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine so that it remains able to help facilitate an eventual negotiated end to the war, President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said in an interview. – Reuters 

A Ukrainian singer and former Eurovision song contest winner appealed to Turkey’s president on Monday to save Ukrainian fighters from the besieged city of Mariupol amid Russia’s war. – Associated Press 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is making false allegations to justify his newfound opposition to Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to join NATO, according to a senior Swedish envoy. – Washington Examiner 

Bobby Ghosh writes: And in the lead-up to next year’s election, he will likely take even more reckless measures: Expect, for instance, a reprise of his previous threats to unleash a flood of refugees into Europe unless the EU ponies up more assistance. The challenge for Turkey’s NATO partners, and for those seeking to join the group, is to hold their collective nerve. – Bloomberg 


As Israel and the Palestinians wrangle over the investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, several independent groups have launched their own probes. One open-source research team said its initial findings lent support to Palestinian witnesses who said she was killed by Israeli fire. – Associated Press 

Israeli police fired tear gas and rubber bullets Monday as they tried to disperse crowds of stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators following the funeral of a young Palestinian man who died from injuries sustained during confrontations with police last month. Dozens of people were reported wounded. – Associated Press 

The IDF has agreed to guard a new Jewish building in Hebron – called Beit Tekuma – until the Civil Administration signs off on the purchase agreement between the settlers and the former Palestinian owners. – Jerusalem Post 

The IDF is considering using attack helicopters and drones to protect troops if they come under massive fire from Palestinian gunmen during military operations in the West Bank, Hebrew media reported Monday. – Times of Israel 

Palestinians and police officers clashed fiercely in East Jerusalem on Monday night during the funeral procession of a Palestinian man who died after being critically wounded during clashes on the Temple Mount last month. – Times of Israel 

A Palestinian tried to stab an Israeli soldier in the northern West Bank on Tuesday morning before being shot by troops on the scene, the military said. – Times of Israel 

Mark Goldfeder writes: Nevertheless, because there are conflicting accounts of what happened at the funeral, within hours of the incident Israel ordered yet another investigation into the conduct of the officers involved. In the malicious and misleading words of Ilhan Omar, however, what actually happened does not actually matter: What Israel did was “just cruel.” Similarly, Tlaib referred to Israel helping keep the peace so Abu Akleh’s family could honor their loved one as an example of “sickening violent racism.” – Newsweek 


Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies are likely to lose their majority in Lebanon’s parliament, three sources allied to the group said on Monday, in a major blow to the heavily armed faction that reflected widespread anger at ruling parties. – Reuters 

Iran said on Monday it respected the votes cast by people in Lebanon’s parliamentary election, where unofficial results showed some of Tehran-backed Hezbollah’s oldest allies suffering losses and their opponents gaining more seats. – Reuters 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In the past, Hezbollah has assassinated critics such as Lokman Slim. Is it possible that it may begin a new wave of assassinations if it fears critics are rising in Lebanon? Or could Hezbollah provoke a crisis in the Golan Heights where it has agents in Syria? Much remains to be cleared up about how Hezbollah will react. Its leadership is aging, and it has fewer friends in the region. The only thing it still has is its illegal masses of weapons. – Jerusalem Post 

Hanin Ghaddar writes: Hezbollah could also play another game at which it has long excelled: delaying key processes by blocking decisions and creating vacuums in government institutions. […]This time, it might try to link those two events in order to force a compromise that guarantees its preferred presidential candidate a win. Unfortunately, this scenario could obstruct reforms and political change, ensuring that the promising electoral outcome is not properly reflected in state institutions. More international pressure is therefore needed immediately to prevent an institutional vacuum and discourage any compromises that threaten to cripple the movement toward change. – Washington Institute 

Arabian Peninsula

Washington, which long supported Saudi Arabia’s air campaign in Yemen — which human rights groups say has killed thousands of civilians — but has more recently distanced itself from the fight and urged peace talks, hailed the flights as a crucial step toward peace. The Biden administration has pledged to end the war in Yemen and also appointed its own special envoy to try to broker a resolution. – Washington Post 

President Joe Biden sent a high-powered U.S. delegation to the United Arab Emirates on Monday to offer condolences after the death of its ruler, in an apparent bid to repair frayed ties with Gulf Arab allies. – Reuters 

Simon Henderson writes: An immediate challenge for Washington is to get relations back on a more even keel. Two key aspects of this effort are the UAE’s appearance of supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its willingness to buy military equipment from China. Washington and Abu Dhabi have a shared interest in countering threats by Iran, and any high-profile differences between them could be vulnerabilities to be exploited by others. – Washington Institute 

Middle East & North Africa

For years, the Siyam family clung to hope they would one day be reunited with their son Wassim, who they believed was being held in a Syrian government prison after he went missing at a checkpoint nearly a decade ago. That hope evaporated the moment they saw him in a newly leaked video: He was among dozens of blindfolded, bound men who, one by one, were shot and thrown into a trench by Syrian security agents. – Associated Press 

Clashes erupted in Libya’s capital on Tuesday as the parliament-appointed prime minister, Fathi Bashagha, arrived to try to take control of government from a rival administration that has refused to cede power. – Reuters 

The Palestinian Authority allocates hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorists and their families even as the Biden administration pumps U.S. taxpayer funds into the Palestinian government, according to a non-public State Department report issued to Congress and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. – Free Beacon 

David Ignatius writes: At a time when Europeans are loudly backing a new campaign for Western values against Russian invaders in Ukraine, they ought to take responsibility for the detainees and refugees from the previous battle that Western nations waged, against Islamist radicals. There should be laws of war, now and always. – Washington Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: As regional leaders come to the UAE and offer their condolences, it will become more clear who deeply cares about the UAE and who is sending less important delegations. It will also be important to see which new appointments may be made in the UAE. As far as the Abraham Accords goes, it is important that the cementing of these accords continues and that more trade relationships be formed. In addition, initiatives such as naval exercises with the US and regional partnerships that link the UAE to the Eastern Mediterranean matter. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

U.S. officials have warned businesses against inadvertently hiring IT staff from North Korea, saying that rogue freelancers were taking advantage of remote work opportunities to hide their true identities and earn money for Pyongyang. – 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 has signed a KRW170 billion (USD132.6 million) deal with Bell Textron Asia to purchase 40 helicopters for basic flight training by 2025. – Janes 

Editorial: None of this should mean closing the door to diplomacy. Indeed, the US may want to propose specific sanctions relief or other incentives if Kim agrees to a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests. The North Korean leader may be more likely to return to the table, though, if the cost of not doing so rises. – Bloomberg 


Nearly one in 25 people in a county in the Uyghur heartland of China has been sentenced to prison on terrorism-related charges, in what is the highest known imprisonment rate in the world, an Associated Press review of leaked data shows. – Associated Press 

Iraq’s oil ministry thwarted three prospective deals last year that would have handed Chinese firms more control over its oilfields and led to an exodus of international oil majors that Baghdad wants to invest in its creaking economy. – Reuters 

The US plans to increase the penalties for companies violating rules that limit export of products that threaten national security, an effort recently focused on countries including Russia and China, according to a top Biden administration official. – Bloomberg 

A submarine seen in a satellite photo of a Chinese shipyard shows what could be a new class or subtype of a nuclear-powered attack sub with a new stealthy propulsion system and launch tubes for cruise missiles. – Defense News 

Michael J. Green and Scott Kennedy write: Finally, corporate leaders need to engage in the kind of scenario exercises that the U.S. military regularly employs. These scenario games are not meant to be predictive, but rather to stress-test current assumptions and point to measures that might be useful in a crisis (for example, who would CEOs need to know in the event of a major technology or military contingency that threatened their operations). No plan survives first contact with the enemy, but no leader succeeds in a crisis if they have not been forced to consider how exogenous shocks would impact their plans. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

South Asia

Pakistani police arrested a would-be suicide bomber who planned to blow herself up near a convoy of Chinese nationals along the China Pakistan Economic-Corridor (CPEC), a police statement said. – Reuters 

A court on Monday banned large Muslim prayer gatherings in one of north India’s highest-profile mosques after a survey team found relics of the Hindu god Shiva and other Hindu symbols there, a lawyer involved in the case said. – Reuters 

Sri Lanka’s new prime minister on Monday proposed privatizing the country’s loss-making national airline as part of reforms aimed at solving the country worst economic crisis in decades. – Associated Press 

Pakistan beefed up security around former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, the interior ministry said, two days after he had claimed at a rally in eastern Punjab province that there was a plot to assassinate him. – Associated Press 

Sri Lanka’s parliament is set to reconvene in a four-day session that could see lawmakers vote in a new deputy speaker and weigh in on the financial crisis after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warned of further hardship the day before. – Bloomberg 

India has halted negotiations with Russia for the former to acquire 10 Kamov Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters for $520 million, following uncertainties in arms supplies amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Defense News 

David C. Mulford and John Rivera-Dirks write: To put into perspective the audacity of the challenge to build this many reactors, China currently has plans to build 150 new nuclear reactors in the next 15 years and will soon become the world’s largest nuclear power producer at a reported cost of $440 billion. If India is to build reactors at the same scale as China, it should be their top domestic priority, and they would benefit from investment and assistance from reliable partners such as South Korea, Japan, America and Europe. – The Hill 


New Zealand has long been seen as the moderate, even absent, voice on China in the “Five Eyes” western alliance, so much so that its commitment to the group was questioned just 12 months ago. – Reuters 

Philippine president-elect Ferdinand Marcos has made a low key trip to Australia, the Age newspaper reported, bringing some protesters onto the streets of the city of Melbourne on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Ukraine and Japan have signed an agreement on a $100 million loan intended primarily to help support vulnerable people in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, the Ukrainian finance ministry said on Monday. – Reuters 

The future of Australia’s trillion-dollar economy is on the line as it heads to a national election on May 21. The next leader has to navigate rising prices fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine, a spate of climate disasters and a rapidly deteriorating relationship with largest trading partner China. – Bloomberg 

A former Australian envoy to the Solomons Islands has accused Australia’s government of losing the trust of South Pacific island countries and of ushering in greater Chinese influence. – Associated Press 

The aircraft carrier Liaoning of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) navy flew more than 100 sorties in six days in a series of drills near Japan and Taiwan. – Janes 

Walter Russell Mead writes: No American president can (or should) give Asean leaders everything they want, but the gap between the Asean agenda and conventional Democratic ideas about American foreign-policy priorities is dangerously wide. Unless it can be bridged, there is little prospect for successful American policy in a critical region. – Wall Street Journal 

David Sacks writes: The steps that Washington and Taipei should take to bolster deterrence must be carried out carefully, so as to avoid inadvertently sparking the conflict they are seeking to prevent. […]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 

Kristi Govella and Bonnie Glaser write: Both Japan and South Korea have much to gain from resetting their relationship. Together, Seoul and Tokyo can defend their shared interests far more effectively than either could alone—combining their respective strengths to address security, economic, health, climate, and other challenges. By doing so, they will generate benefits for themselves and for the broader regional and international community. Although the route ahead is bumpy, the destination will be well worth the journey. – Foreign Affairs 


Hungary said a European Union embargo on Russian oil would cost the country close to $19 billion, raising the stakes in negotiations between it and other EU nations pushing to win Budapest’s support for the ban. – Wall Street Journal 

President Emmanuel Macron of France has appointed Élisabeth Borne as prime minister, elevating the first woman in decades to helm a French government and lead his party’s charge in the coming parliamentary elections. – Wall Street Journal  

Senior U.S. and European Union officials agreed to expand cooperation on supply chains for critical technologies including semiconductors and materials used in their production, they said at a high-level gathering about shared concerns surrounding high-tech international commerce. – Wall Street Journal 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for a return to politics-as-usual in Northern Ireland on Monday, even as his government was poised to outline legislation that could allow it to scrap parts of the trading system that has governed the North since Britain left the European Union. – New York Times 

Finland’s ambassador to Germany, Anne Sipilainen, is not worried about Russia’s threats over her country’s move to join NATO as she sees Finland as prepared for any kind of attack from Moscow, German newspaper Die Welt reported on Monday. – Reuters 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday raised the spectre of an “era of recession” in Europe as the continent grapples with surging energy costs and rising inflation due to the war in Ukraine. – Reuters 

Norway, Denmark and Iceland in a joint statement on Monday said they stand ready to support NATO applicants Finland and Sweden in case the two Nordic nations were to come under attack. – Reuters 

French President Emmanuel Macron fully supports Sweden’s decision to join the North Atlantic NATO military alliance, the Elysee presidential office said on Monday. – Reuters 

Latvia’s interior minister resigned on Monday under pressure from the ruling coalition which criticized the police for failing to ban the country’s Russian speakers from commemorating earlier this month the Soviet Union’s victory in World War Two. – Reuters  

The European Union and the United States agreed on Monday to closer cooperation to counter disrupted supply of commodities and food caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to combat disinformation from Moscow. – Reuters 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has replaced the head of its Territorial Defence Forces nearly three months into the war with Russia without giving a reason. – Reuters 

The Albanian Parliament on Monday failed to elect the country’s next president after no candidates were nominated for the first round of voting. – Associated Press 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday renewed British threats to break a Brexit agreement with the European Union, blaming it for a political crisis that’s blocking the formation of a new government in Northern Ireland. – Associated Press 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Monday met with Ukrainian refugees and urged the need to confront Russian brutality as she visited Poland ahead of a meeting of finance ministers for the Group of Seven leading economies. – Associated Press 

Belgrade was targeted by a series of bomb threats on Monday, including threats against schools, bridges, restaurants and a soccer match, bringing rush hour traffic to a standstill in the Serbian capital. – Associated Press  

Ukraine’s partners need to advance fresh funding to the country “urgently” to plug the financing gap the country is grappling with, a top IMF official has warned. – Financial Times 

Ukrainian officials say two enemy sea mines recently washed ashore during stormy weather. The Ukrainian military confirmed May 16 that two mines appeared on the southern coast during storms over the weekend. – Newsweek 

The Senate overwhelmingly voted to move toward passage of $40 billion in aid to Ukraine, underscoring the broad Republican and Democratic support for the country as it defends itself against Russia’s invasion. – Bloomberg 

The US and EU celebrated a transatlantic partnership reinvigorated in part by its unprecedented cooperation against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the public unity masks festering trade and technology disputes. – Bloomberg 

Finland’s Ambassador to the United States Mikko Hautela knows Vladimir Putin better than most diplomats. He has met him a dozen times, even in a sauna, he said, as he pointed to a photograph of him as the new Finnish Ambassador to Moscow presenting his credentials to Putin in November 2016, the day after President Trump was elected. – Fox News 

Therese Raphael writes: In a column in the Belfast Telegraph, Johnson (scheduled to be in Belfast on Monday) lays out his case for a new approach but stops short of wanting to rip up the protocol. Such efforts deserve a hearing. But de-escalation from the side that has escalated is not enough. Uncertainty is the real drag on Northern Ireland’s economy and future; shifting blame and threatening unilateral action will only prolong it. – Bloomberg 

Salem Alketbi writes: Although the official decision by Finland and Sweden to join NATO has not yet been announced, there is speculation that the move will come before the alliance’s summit late next month. This means that the crisis between Russia and the West will enter a new rat trap instead of finding a solution to what is happening in Ukraine. – Jerusalem Post 

James Jay Carafano writes: If we truly want to help Ukraine achieve victory in its immediate crisis—and we should—our response should be focused squarely on that effort, not helping pay foreign bureaucrats’ retirement bills. – Fox News 

Patrik Mendis and Antonina Luszczykiewicz write: While the United States and its democratic allies are engaged in “the great battle for democracy,” they must not overlook the nature of anti-democratic governance by the right-wing leaders in Warsaw. There is no strategic necessity that would justify the blind support for the Polish autocratization—or sacrifice democracy for the support of an important allied country. Like in the United States, the New Truman Doctrine should also flourish in Poland. – The National Interest 

Jake Sotiriadis and John Sitilides write: The Ukraine crisis clearly emphasizes the criticality of continued stability, security, and cooperation on NATO’s southern flank. Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ visit presents an opportunity to elevate these regional and functional issues to Biden, the U.S. Congress, and the American public. Washington can use its indispensable influence carefully to reinforce this key alliance and dial down regional tensions where solidarity within NATO is of the utmost importance, and where its seams are under greatest stress. – The National Interest 

Azeem Ibrahim writes: The current moment is a profound opportunity for the secessionists. But ironically, it is also the worst possible time for delivering Scottish independence. It is economically and politically inauspicious and would make Scots poorer and the entire Western Alliance less safe. Nicola Sturgeon knows what she wants. We must know that too—and be on guard lest we unconsciously aid her breaking up of the United Kingdom, and the weakening of treaty allies as we all face a newly dangerous and uncertain world. – The National Interest 


President Biden has signed an order authorizing the military to once again deploy hundreds of Special Operations forces inside Somalia — largely reversing the decision by President Donald J. Trump to withdraw nearly all 700 ground troops who had been stationed there, according to four officials familiar with the matter. – New York Times 

Mali’s interim government on Monday said “Western-backed” military officers attempted a coup last week, without providing details or evidence. – Reuters 

Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo has dissolved the country’s parliament, accusing deputies of corruption among other issues, he said on Monday. – Reuters  

Ethiopia and the World Bank have signed a pact for a grant of $300 million to assist reconstruction and recovery in conflict-hit areas, the finance ministry said. – Reuters 

The atrocities are rampant: A 25-year-old woman abducted at night from her home, pinned down and raped by a jihadi while another held her baby. Child soldiers pillaging villages and women killed for identifying their attackers, their bodies left on the road. – Associated Press 

Martha Karua may become the first woman to occupy the office of deputy president in Kenya after Raila Odinga announced her as his running mate in this year’s election. – Bloomberg 

Somalia’s international partners on Monday welcomed the election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who takes office after months of political instability and faces crises including a violent insurgency and devastating drought. – Agence France-Presse 

Latin America

The Biden administration is lifting several Trump-era restrictions on Cuba, including on some aspects of travel to the island, caps on family remittances and the issuance of immigration visas. – Washington Post 

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei reappointed the country’s attorney general to a new term on Monday, prompting U.S. sanctions, just months after the prosecutor was accused by the U.S. government of dismantling anti-corruption efforts. – Reuters 

Editorial: Mr. Maduro and predecessor Hugo Chávez destroyed the nation’s oil infrastructure and looted the national oil monopoly. Even if U.S. investors are allowed to begin pumping oil again, Venezuelan supply wouldn’t make much of a dent in global oil prices. But it is revealing that American progressives apparently put appeasing the Latin left above their climate-change principles. – Wall Street Journal 

North America

When Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, arrive in Canada on Tuesday to kick off a royal tour in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s seven decades on the throne, they’ll find themselves confronting the painful and enduring legacies of British colonization and empire. – Washington Post 

Opening statements are set for Tuesday in the trial of a lawyer for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign who is accused of lying to the FBI as it investigated potential ties between Donald Trump and Russia in 2016. – Associated Press 

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he will meet on Wednesday with a delegation of organizers of the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas, to explain why his government wants all countries in the region to take part. – Reuters 

Two top members of the extremist Jewish Lev Tahor cult have been extradited from Guatemala to the US for prosecution in a child kidnapping case that has ensnared much of the group’s leadership. – Times of Israel 


A Venezuelan cardiologist who taught himself computer programming sold software that was used by an Iranian hacking group to attack Israeli companies, U.S. prosecutors said on Monday in bringing criminal charges against him. – Reuters 

A ransomware gang that infiltrated some Costa Rican government computer systems has upped its threat, saying its goal is now to overthrow the government. – Associated Press 

The notorious REvil ransomware group has made yet another reemergence on the cybercrime scene, according to several security researchers tracking attacks. – The Record 

Ukraine’s state communications agency said Friday that Russian forces had invaded a Kherson-based Internet company and disconnected all equipment, threatening to confiscate it if the company did not connect to Russian networks. – Cyberscoop 

A senior White House official overseeing cybersecurity said Monday that the U.S. is ahead of China in the dash to achieve quantum supremacy thanks to the “huge competitive advantage” conferred by the collaborative nature of American science and industry. – Cyberscoop 

Robert F. Powelson writes: Water is vital to our health and safety as well as our economic and national security. As the cybersecurity risks and threat vectors continue to grow and become more sophisticated, we can and must, continue to proactively improve the cybersecurity position across the entire drinking water sector. It is the surest path to a resilient water sector that is able to protect the communities we serve. – The Hill 


The US Air Force said on Monday it had conducted a successful test of a hypersonic weapon, which flew at five times the speed of sound. – Reuters 

Polaris has developed a kit to convert the MRZR Alpha — used by U.S. Special Operations Command as its Lightweight All-Terrain Vehicle — for the Arctic and is gearing up to be able to produce it for customers early next year. – Defense News 

A little-known military construction funding policy will likely prevent Congress from granting most of the Pentagon’s $5.7 billion unfunded priorities list for lab and testing infrastructure projects, many of which are too early in the planning and design process for lawmakers to consider. – C4isrnet 

The Army has opened a new school at Fort Belvoir in Virginia that is designed to provide advanced training to military lawyers, including defense attorneys. The Army has opened a new school at Fort Belvoir in Virginia that is designed to provide advanced training to military lawyers, including defense attorneys. – Military.com 

Long War

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday instructed the government to examine the option of demolishing the homes of Arab-Israeli terrorists and deporting their families from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. – Jerusalem Post 

The Education Ministry has begun working with the Shin Bet security service to identify teachers who support or are involved in terrorism, the Kan public broadcaster reported Monday. – Times of Israel 

Israeli police said Monday a Palestinian man armed with an axe was arrested as he planned to carry out a terror attack in the West Bank. – Algemeiner