Fdd's overnight brief

May 2, 2022

In The News


Some civilians were finally evacuated from a vast Mariupol steel plant after a cease-fire on Saturday allowed a small group to leave the besieged complex, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discounted much progress on broader negotiations. – Washington Post 

The departure of so much talent threatens to undermine a host of Russian sectors, from the state media to aerospace and aviation industries already reeling from Western sanctions. The tech and start-up ecosystem was already withering under escalating government interference and censorship. – Washington Post 

Kherson in southern Ukraine was the first major city to fall to Russian forces that swept into the country in late February. Within the first days of the invasion, the city was encircled and large parts were cut off from water, electricity and access to food. – Washington Post 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a delegation of U.S. lawmakers pledged Sunday to support Ukraine until it secured victory against Russia, after meeting with Ukraine’s leader in the capital city of Kyiv. The U.S. comments came as Moscow’s military advance stalled and Russian officials blamed saboteurs for an attack inside its territory. – Wall Street Journal 

Every day, convoys of cars and minivans trickle to a processing center on the edge of Zaporizhzhia, packed with civilians fleeing the areas of southern Ukraine under Russian occupation while they still can. – Wall Street Journal 

Moscow is recasting its fight with Ukraine as a broader war between Russia and the West, as Kremlin leaders and state propaganda outlets warn Russians that the conflict with its smaller neighbor could spill over into a global clash. – Wall Street Journal

Oleg Y. Tinkov was worth more than $9 billion in November, renowned as one of Russia’s few self-made business tycoons after building his fortune outside the energy and minerals industries that were the playgrounds of Russian kleptocracy. Then, last month, Mr. Tinkov, the founder of one of Russia’s biggest banks, criticized the war in Ukraine in a post on Instagram. […]Last week, he sold his 35 percent stake to a Russian mining billionaire in what he describes as a “desperate sale, a fire sale” that was forced on him by the Kremlin. – New York Times 

The chief of the general staff of the Russian military, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the country’s highest ranking uniformed officer, made a visit to dangerous front-line positions in eastern Ukraine late last week in an effort to “change the course” of Russia’s flagging offensive there, according to a senior Ukrainian official. Two U.S. officials with knowledge of the visit also backed that assessment. – New York Times 

The deaths of three foreigners killed this week while fighting with Ukrainian forces has drawn renewed attention to thousands of largely unregulated volunteers who have gone to fight Russia’s invasion, some of them accepted into an international legion. – New York Times 

Russia is calling in troops based in its far east to join the battle in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military high command said on Saturday, as Moscow seeks to reinforce its war-fighting force amid heavy losses and signs that its drive to seize eastern Ukraine has stalled. – New York Times 

The first flurry of diplomats decamped from Kyiv in mid-February, well before shells began slamming into and around the historic city. The next wave of embassies packed up and left Ukraine’s capital a few weeks later, when the war began in earnest, moving their operations west and away from the fighting. Through it all, the Vatican’s diplomatic mission stayed put. – New York Times 

The Russian Ministry of Defense said on Sunday it struck a military airfield in southern Ukraine loaded with weapons and ammunition from the United States and Europe. – Washington Examiner 

U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday he would act on a Biden administration request to add provisions to a $33 billion Ukraine aid package to allow the United States to seize Russian oligarchs’ assets and send money from their sale directly to Ukraine. – Reuters 

The United States does not believe that there is a threat of Russia using nuclear weapons despite a recent escalation in Moscow’s rhetoric, a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday. – Reuters 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said that it has been informed by Kyiv that Russia has sent nuclear specialists to help monitor the Zaporizhzhya power plant in Ukraine’s southeast. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

With tensions between the United States and Russia at a level not seen since the Cold War, and likely not abating no matter the direction the war in Ukraine takes, our national security depends on the integrity of our intelligence community. The FBI and CIA must be able to securely plan covert operations, and to employ Russian double agents to carry them out. – The Daily Beast 

Editorial: When past U.S. policy has failed in Ukraine, it was often because, fearing to provoke Mr. Putin, it did not do enough to deter him. Obviously, the Biden administration must not err in the opposite direction now. But the record of the war so far, including Europe’s admirable determination to seek new energy sources, vindicates a policy of maximum firmness. […]It’s worth accepting costs and taking risks to make sure that Russia fails — and emerges from the conflict unable to wage such aggression again. – Washington Post 

Editorial: This is why the answer is not to capitulate, but to push back as hard as possible. The Biden administration must start by reversing its nuclear appeasement policy toward Moscow. Immediately recommence normally scheduled missile tests. […]By destiny and history, Biden leads the world at a critical moment. Demanding more of his allies, he must pass this 21st-century test for freedom, proving to Putin that escalation will lead only to Russia’s doom. – Washington Examiner 

Yulia Latynina writes: Things are different today. Sanctions are much preferred to direct fighting. And while economic sanctions can isolate a rogue regime, they can’t crush it. Mr. Putin has gotten many things wrong in his current war, but he did get one thing right. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization won’t go to war over Ukraine. And this is perhaps the biggest reason why he must be crushed. If not, more Vladimir Putins will follow, including those with a much firmer grip on reality. – Wall Street Journal

Elisabeth Braw writes: Expect the Western corporate exodus from Russia to accelerate as these contracts run out. […]Mr. Putin and Russian prosecutors have warned that the Russian government may seize the assets of departing Western firms. Some Western businesses have legitimate reasons to remain in Russia because they provide essential goods or medical equipment. But they face the same insurance dilemma as every other Western company. Once coverage runs out, whether companies have resolved their financial transactions or not, they’ll have to leave. – Wall Street Journal 

Nicholas Eberstadt writes: Putin’s recognition of this dismal reality may have stoked his appetite for ever-greater risk-taking in Georgia, Crimea and now Ukraine. His nuclear saber-rattling is the tactic of a leader playing a weakening hand. An open and liberal Russia could still prosper, but it cannot become a normal country under the rule of a petro-kleptocracy. – Washington Post

Michael Hirsh writes: Matters could get even dicier if a newly emboldened West and NATO expand their reach beyond Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific, as British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss suggested in a speech this week. […]That in turn raises the prospect for a drawn-out global cold war with not only Russia but China as well. And it is one that could easily turn hot, Beebe said, with the United States and its allies faced off against an alliance of “a resource-rich Russia partnered with a technologically and economically powerful China.” – Foreign Policy 


European officials are preparing to make a fresh push to salvage a nuclear deal with Iran, offering to send a top European Union negotiator to Tehran in an effort to break a stalemate in talks, according to Western diplomats. – Wall Street Journal 

Teachers have held protests in several Iranian cities on May Day, which coincided with Teachers’ Day in Iran. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Sen. Bob Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed doubt Sunday that ongoing talks with Iran would deliver a viable deal on nuclear weapons. – Politico 

Iran oil minister Javad Owji is making a rare trip to Venezuela that includes visiting oil facilities and signing energy deals between the two U.S.-sanctioned nations, said people with knowledge of the situation. – Bloomberg 

The Mossad – operating in Iran – apprehended and interrogated an Iranian national who was leading a plot to kill an Israeli diplomat and a US general, sources have confirmed. – Jerusalem Post 

The relocation of a significant part of centrifuge machines to a safer location was due to a “terrorist attack” against Iran’s Karaj nuclear site, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran was quoted as saying on Friday. – Reuters  

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel against continuing its “aggression against the Iranian presence in the region,” saying Iran may “attack Israel directly” during a video address delivered at a ceremony in Beirut on Friday as Iran and its proxies marked Quds Day. – Jerusalem Post 

A top Iranian commander said on Sunday that the United States has no place in the Gulf and that regional countries can ensure their own security, the Xinhua news agency reported. – Arutz Sheva  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The future Iran playbook is being written in Ukraine and also the Korean peninsula. Watching the language of Russia and North Korea is a peek into what Iran would like to do. The question is whether Iran will get closer to nuclear weapons and thus engage the Iran lobby chorus in a new round of claims: “We need an Iran deal, or there could be war” – the same talking point used in 2015. – Jerusalem Post 


On Friday, one of Kabul’s most popular Sufi sites, filled with followers after weekly prayers, became the latest target in a string of terrorist bombings over the past two weeks. The violence has shattered months of calm under Taliban rule and raised fears of further attacks as people prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a joyous Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. – Washington Post 

Now, eight months after the Taliban takeover of the country, he and other small-business owners are confronting their direst crisis to date. Sales everywhere are down drastically. The new rulers have promised some relief, including partial forgiveness of back taxes and a slight reduction in the income tax. But many are doubtful that token gestures will reverse their plummeting fortunes. – Washington Post 

The attacks of the past two weeks have left at least 100 people dead, figures from hospitals suggest, and stoked fears that Afghanistan is heading into a violent spring, as the Islamic State’s affiliate in the country tries to undermine the Taliban government and assert its newfound reach. – New York Times 

As Afghanistan plunged into economic crisis after the United States withdrew troops and the Taliban seized power, the 960-kilometer (572-mile) long border with Iran became a lifeline for Afghans who piled into smugglers’ pickups in desperate search of money and work. – Associated Press 

A bomb blast in a passenger van in Kabul on Saturday killed at least one person, officials said, in the second explosion in the Afghan capital in two days, as security concerns rise on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. – Reuters 

A recent string of deadly terror attacks across Afghanistan has left the country reeling, challenging the Taliban’s already strained governance just eight months after the US withdrawal. – Business Insider 

Mirwais Balkhi writes: The countries involved as warring parties in the first, second, and third phases of Afghanistan’s conflict cannot afford to disengage from the country. In fact, it should top their diplomatic and security agendas. The Russo-Ukrainian War should not overshadow the Afghanistan conflict, as the latter will not only unleash more dreaded terrorist organizations and irreparable disasters in Afghanistan but throughout the region and wider world as well. – The National Interest 


Turkey and Saudi Arabia have a common will to “reactivate a great economic potential” between the two countries, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, after his first trip to the kingdom since 2017. – Reuters 

Editorial: Was Nelson Mandela crushed by prison? Vaclav Havel? Was Andrei Sakharov silenced by internal exile in Gorky? They all suffered but rose again to become voices of conscience. Mr. Kavala, too, cannot be silenced by prison bars. If Mr. Erdogan had any common sense, he would release Mr. Kavala and invite him over for a personal talk. Mr. Erdogan might learn something about real power — that of principles. – Washington Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: What this means is that the Gulf states understand they want stability. Turkey can help by changing its support from extremists to supporting other groups. Perhaps, Ankara can tone down rhetoric and policies regarding Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean and also end its collaboration with Iran. – Jerusalem Post 



A large Hamas banner featuring a greeting for Eid al-Fitr and a photo of a Hamas terrorist was raised on the Temple Mount on Monday morning, as over 200,000 Arabs visited the site to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel will defeat the current wave of Palestinian terrorism that has struck across the country, President Isaac Herzog said in a special Independence Day interview with The Jerusalem Post. – Jerusalem Post 

More than a month after the first deadly attack in the current wave of violence, the IDF is continuing to crack down on West Bank Palestinian terrorism in an effort to regain calm in the region. – Jerusalem Post 

Israeli security forces raided homes in the West Bank overnight on Sunday, arresting suspects and mapping the homes of the terrorists who carried out a deadly attack in Ariel. – Jerusalem Post 

Buoyed by Friday night’s terrorist attack in Ariel and massive support during rallies at the Aqsa Mosque compound (Temple Mount) over the past few weeks, Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups have called for stepping up the fight against Israel. In separate statements, the groups also welcomed the Ariel attack, which resulted in the killing of a security guard. – Jerusalem Post 

A proposal by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees to delegate some services to other United Nations agencies has sparked outrage among Palestinians, who have warned of a plot to “dismantle” the body. – Associated Press 

Editorial: Policy on Ukraine has been dictated by security interests and the need to be able to continue operating in coordination with Russia in Syria. With the Armenian genocide, Israel is again letting diplomatic and security interests get in the way of what is the right and moral stance to take. It is time for Israel to stop being afraid of Turkey and Russia. Standing up for what is moral and right strengthens nations. It is Israel’s time to do so. – Jerusalem Post 


The United Nations has warned of a “worsening” humanitarian situation in Yemen but says a fragile two-month truce since early April could help reverse the situation. – Agence France-Presse 

Alexandra Stark writes: The United States can also provide guarantees to its security partners that will help a longer-term agreement stick. For example, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are likely to insist on protection against Houthi missile and drone attacks, which the United States can provide through missile defense systems and intelligence. […]Because past agreements have come unraveled due to disputes between the parties about how to implement their terms, finding solutions to problems — like the delays in the first commercial flight to Sana’a — will be critical to ensuring that negotiations stay on track. – War on the Rocks 

Ahmed al-Maimouni writes: It is imperative for Saudi Arabia to preserve peace in Yemen and to eliminate any strategic threat on its borders, regardless of the duration and the cost. It is a war of necessity, not a war of choice for the Saudis. The world needs to understand the geographical realities of the region, which is the center of world energy and at the same time is the most fragile in terms of security. There should be greater international appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in upholding security in such a vital region. – The National Interest 

Gulf States

President Isaac Herzog called the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Sunday to wish them a happy Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan, his office said in a statement. – Times of Israel 

Qatar has begun playing a key role in stabilizing the West Bank and Gaza in recent weeks, while growing closer to Egypt and the United States. – Haaretz  

A missile attack targeted an oil refinery in Iraq’s northern city of Erbil on Sunday, causing a fire in one of its main tanks that was later brought under control, Iraqi security forces said, according to Reuters. – Arutz Sheva 

Saudi Arabia is pushing to revamp its harsh justice system but reforms are overshadowed by executions and tough treatment of dissidents, raising questions about how much will change. – Agence France-Presse  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Overall the context is that Iran wants Turkey, the US, and other pro-western groups out of Iraq so it can control the country. Other groups in Iraq, including minority groups aligned with the PMU, may agree with that policy at times, or be forced to work with the militias. – Jerusalem Post 

Middle East & North Africa

As a combatant for the Islamic State group who left his native Morocco to join what he felt was a holy fight in Syria, Mohsin says he saw all the horrors of war. “A terrifying experience,” he says. – Associated Press 

Egyptian authorities freed three journalists early Sunday, the head of a journalists’ union said, the latest in a string of releases as President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi appears to be reaching out to critics of his administration. – Associated Press 

Suspected Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists blew up a natural gas pipeline on Saturday in Egypt’s restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, causing a fire but no casualties, security officials said, according to The Associated Press. – Arutz Sheva 

The Islamic State terror organization claimed Thursday the Israeli Air Force helped assassinate a local jihadist group leader in Egypt’s Sinai Desert in April. – Times of Israel 

This year, Muslims around the world are observing Eid al-Fitr — typically marked with communal prayers, celebratory gatherings around festive meals and new clothes — in the shadow of a surge in global food prices exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Against that backdrop, many are still determined to enjoy the Eid amid easing of coronavirus restrictions in their countries while, for others, the festivities are dampened by conflict and economic hardship. – Associated Press 

Korean Peninsula

Beijing is concerned about the tense situation on the Korean peninsula, China’s Korean affairs envoy said as he arrived for talks in Seoul this week, adding that both the symptoms and root cause of tensions needed to be addressed. – Reuters 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned again that the North could preemptively use its nuclear weapons if threatened, as he praised his top army officials for a massive military parade in the capital, Pyongyang, this week. – Associated Press 

New satellite images of a North Korean nuclear facility suggest that Pyongyang is inching towards its first nuclear test since 2017, experts have warned, as Kim Jong Un ratchets up tensions on the Korean peninsula. – Financial Times


A Chinese national working for the European Union’s diplomatic mission in Beijing has been detained by local authorities for more than six months over allegations of disorderly conduct, according to a person familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal 

Throttled by Beijing’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19, China’s economy is facing a spell of slower growth. Economists are toying with the term “recession” to describe it. A recession commonly means two straight quarters of contraction, and that remains unlikely for China, many economists say. The country has many ways to ensure it posts stronger growth than the U.S. and Europe this year, including the ability to unleash heavy government spending. – Wall Street Journal 

From countering a Western “information war” during a Taiwan conflict to using “shock and awe” to swiftly subdue the island’s forces, Chinese strategists are soaking up lessons from Russia’s Ukrainian quagmire, diplomats, scholars and analysts say. – Reuters 

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged China to call on Russia for a ceasefire to stop further escalation of the war during an interview with China’s Xinhua state news agency, in the first-ever interview by a Ukrainian official to Chinese state media. – Jerusalem Post 

Oren Cass writes: America’s only hope of success is to convince the investors and corporations who place decades-long bets on where to build industrial capacity, and the Chinese with whom we are engaged in a repeat game of negotiations, that we have the steadfast resolve to see this project through and bear real costs along the way. If we reverse course at the first political opportunity, who would ever take us seriously again? – Financial Times  

Yan Xuetong writes: As the world’s second-largest economic power, China intends to play an important role in shaping global economic norms. But it has no ambition to play a leading role in global security affairs, especially in matters of war, because of the huge military disparity between it and the United States. Shaping a peaceful environment favorable to China’s economic development remains an important diplomatic goal. As long as the United States does not offer military support for a Taiwanese declaration of de jure independence, China is unlikely to deviate from this path of peaceful development. – Foreign Affairs  

South Asia

Tata Steel, the largest Indian importer of Russian coal in the first quarter of the year, will stop buying the commodity in a sign that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has made it more perilous to do so. – Financial Times  

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz plans to invite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as special guest to a Group of Seven leaders’ summit next month as part of an effort to forge a broader international alliance against Russia. – Bloomberg 

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan will discuss the possibility of supporting the kingdom’s $3 billion deposit in Pakistan’s central bank by extending its term “or through other options,” a joint statement carried by Saudi state news agency SPA said on Sunday. – Reuters 


China’s police presence under a new security pact will boost the capabilities of the Solomon Islands but they will not use techniques seen in Hong Kong, the Pacific island country’s top diplomat to Australia said in a radio interview on Monday. – Reuters 

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration plans to step up diplomatic engagement with Pacific Island countries, Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Monday, including inviting Pacific leaders to the White House later this year. – Reuters 

Japan and Vietnam agreed on Sunday to boost economic and security ties while calling for an end to the war in Ukraine, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said during a Southeast Asia tour. – Reuters 

Thousands of opposition supporters rallied on May 1 in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, to warn the government against concessions to Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

While China doubles down on its strategic partnership with Russia, Europe is looking for allies elsewhere in Asia. Next week, European Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are expected to travel to Tokyo to co-host an EU-Japan summit, two diplomats said on condition of anonymity, confirming a Japanese media report. This will be the first time the duo has flown to East Asia together since they took the helm of the EU shortly before the COVID-19 outbreak. – Politico 

Taiwan’s foreign minister said Sunday that his island nation is studying carefully Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine for lessons applicable to its situation with China. – Politico 

Bruce Klingner writes: For the near term, Japan will maintain strategic ambiguity, as will the United States, on whether and to what degree it would defend Taiwan. It is not expected that Tokyo would make fundamental, formal changes in either diplomatic relations or security policies toward Taiwan. In Japanese policymaking, the prologue to effective coordination with the U.S. often lasts an exceedingly long time. The alliance must start now to convince Beijing every day that “today is not the day” to attack Taiwan. – Heritage Foundation 

Alexander Cooley writes: In Kazakhstan, popular discontent with the government’s lack of reforms continues to simmer. Tokayev’s turn to Russia for peacekeepers appears to have left him uncomfortably indebted to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The war in Ukraine has forced Kazakh officials into an uneasy neutrality—avoiding condemnation of Putin’s invasion in public and in United Nations votes, but sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine. […]The global campaign to reclaim Kazakh wealth and rid Kazakh institutions of Nazarbayev’s influence is underway, but it is likely to implicate a greater and more varied group of international actors than even the most impassioned critics of Nazarbayev could ever have imagined. – Foreign Affairs 

Zheng Wang writes: The Russo-Ukrainian War has brought down the curtain on the post-Cold War era. For the United States, Taiwan remains a central challenge in the post-Afghanistan and the post-Ukraine age. Instead of playing geopolitical thought exercises on how a war between China and Taiwan would serve interests, it is important to learn the right lessons from the Russo-Ukrainian War and recognize that there are no winners in war, and no losers in peace. Promoting pathways for peace is therefore the only rational choice for all the three parties. – The National Interest 

Fuad Chiragov writes: What is likely to come next is resistance and sabotage efforts against these initiatives, carried out by the aforementioned radical and criminal elements in Karabakh hiding behind the Russia military. The experience of the Balkan Wars, among other conflicts, has taught the world that punishing war criminals and removing them from political scene are necessary steps before reconciliation efforts can truly take off. In order to bring lasting peace to the region, along with different reconciliation initiatives, the West should think seriously about what to do about the radical and criminal elements that still reside within Karabakh. – The National Interest 


Jill Biden will travel to Romania and Slovakia this week to meet with Ukrainian families displaced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Washington Post 

The British government’s announcement last month of a contentious plan to send some asylum seekers to the African country has brought confusion and concern to many, like Mr. Mohamad, who arrived here on small boats that crossed the English Channel, or by other irregular means. – New York Times  

Drivers lined up at gas stations across Ukraine over the weekend as the government struggled to deal with a fuel shortage caused by Russian attacks on oil infrastructure. – New York Times  

Finland will almost certainly apply for membership in NATO, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde told Swedish television on Sunday. – Reuters 

Energy ministers from European Union countries hold emergency talks on Monday, as the bloc strives for a united response to Moscow’s demand that European buyers pay for Russian gas in roubles or face their supply being cut off. – Reuters 

Germany has filed a case against Italy at the highest U.N. court because Rome continues to allow victims of Nazi war crimes to claim compensation from the German state even after an earlier ruling that such claims violated international law. – Reuters 

Serbia on Saturday publicly displayed a recently delivered Chinese anti-aircraft missile system, raising concerns in the West and among some of Serbia’s neighbors that an arms buildup in the Balkans could threaten fragile peace in the region. – Associated Press 

A high court in France has reversed a decision of the country’s interior minister to dissolve a pro-Palestinian organization accused of inciting antisemitic hatred. – Algemeiner 

Denmark and Sweden are summoning Russia’s ambassadors after a Russian spy plane violated the airspace of both countries, their governments said on May 1. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Hungary would veto any European proposal that leads to the restriction of energy imports from Russia, according to a senior minister in Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: Mr. Scholz too often has hesitated on heavy weapons and energy sanctions. Perhaps he hasn’t been sure Ukraine could win. But as allies such as the U.S. increasingly speak of the possibility of victory, Berlin has even less excuse to hold back. Lawmakers have signaled they want Germany to be a better ally to Ukraine, and let’s hope the Chancellor listens. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: For all the short-term disruptions in Europe, the big long-term loser — especially with EU states also moving towards restricting Russian oil imports — will be Moscow. In his early years as president, Putin set about turning Russia into an “energy superpower”. Now he is sacrificing economic interests to his overriding goal of restoring Russia as a geopolitical great power. By undermining the former, however, he will eventually struggle to fund the latter. – Financial Times  

Caroline de Gruyter writes: Yet this paradox needn’t be permanent. In a world defined by instability, great power competition and rising prices, Europe must look after itself — and it has the means to do so. A phased embargo on Russian oil, likely to be finalized this week, is just a start. In the wake of the war in Ukraine, collective provision of defense and security is also a must, as is an energy union. […]Recognizing the need for bolstered unity, a group of European intellectuals last week even called for a United States of Europe. – New York Times 

David Auerswald writes: The betting money in Western defense circles is that Finland will soon ask to join NATO. With adequate preparation, done now, the alliance could add a capable new member while minimizing regional instability and possible conflict. – Defense News 

Hadas Aron and Emily Holland write: Russia’s war on Ukraine has united the European Union and NATO as they have not been in decades. In this context, Hungary is a bad actor and stands out as the only E.U. member state openly unaligned with the Western cause. […]Hungary’s influence is limited compared to that of larger states like Germany. Moreover, as long as the European Union remains divided on both key foreign policies and on common values, Hungary can get away with playing both sides. – War on the Rocks 



The United States wants the opposing sides involved in conflict in Ethiopia to advance a negotiated ceasefire and for essential services to be restored in the Tigray region, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday. – Reuters 

A Sudanese court reversed an order dissolving a key Islamist institution that was prominent before the uprising in 2019, a further step towards the rehabilitation of allies of the former regime. – Reuters  

UN chief Antonio Guterres called Sunday for the military juntas in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali to hand power back to civilians as soon as possible and reminded the world to deliver on “climate emergency” promises. – Agence France-Presse 

Bobby Ghosh writes: Putin’s war represents both a short-term challenge and a long-term opportunity for Wagner. It has been obliged to dispatch fighters from Africa to Ukraine, and will struggle to cope with any increase in demand from African states. But Prigozhin will also be able to recruit from the ranks of battle-hardened Russian soldiers. – Bloomberg 

Michael Rubin writes: Crimes committed during West Africa’s civil wars were atrocious. The damage that dishonest activists now do unravels not only individual cases, but also casts doubt more broadly on local and international efforts to bring justice and accountability to the region. […]There are no winners in this tragedy, only yet one more warning that it is dangerous and naïve to take human rights organizations and advocacy at face value given how both money and politics have corrupted the community. – American Enterprise Institute 

Latin America

She came to power pledging to relax some of the world’s steepest restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. But months into her term, rights groups say, Honduras’s first female president, Xiomara Castro, is struggling to fulfill promises, as attempts to empower women rekindle the country’s bitter ideological divisions. – New York Times 

Washington should make it clear to the “messianic” Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro that any effort to undermine his country’s elections would trigger multilateral sanctions, a newly retired U.S. State Department official wrote on Saturday. – Reuters 

Richard M. Sanders writes: Will we see Mexico become the Venezuela next door? The higher probability is no, and that Mexico’s political and economic institutions can resist whatever stresses are put on them. But the stresses are real, and with a population of 130 million and a 1,900-mile-long border with the United States, there is reason for concern. […]Important as oil has been, Mexico’s economy is far more diverse than Venezuela’s. The latter’s industrial sector was always closely linked to the state as supplier to oil giant pdvsa, and domestic consumer demand, fueled by an inflated currency, was largely satisfied by imports. – The National Interest 


United States

President Biden wants Congress to expedite visas for Russian scientists eager to leave their country in the midst of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, an effort to accelerate a brain drain already underway and further deprive President Vladimir V. Putin of some of Russia’s top talent. – New York Times 

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) on Sunday introduced an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) resolution that, if passed, would authorize President Biden to utilize U.S. forces to defend Ukraine if Russia uses chemical, biological or nuclear weapons against its neighbor. – The Hill 

Quin Hillyer writes: This should be obvious. The best way to deter Putin from using nuclear weapons is to leave no doubt that we would respond to crush him completely. If we leave doubt enough that he thinks he can use nukes with impunity, then the unthinkable damage will be done by the time we respond. Our response then, like our aid, might obliterate the Kremlin, but in terms of saving lives, it would be yet another day late — this time an unforgivable one. – Washington Examiner 


For more than a decade, U.S. cybersecurity experts have warned about Russian hacking that increasingly uses the labor power of financially motivated criminal gangs to achieve political goals, such as strategically leaking campaign emails. – Washington Post  

The cyber department of the Israeli Prosecution Service has reported that since the start of the current wave of terrorist attacks in which 16 Israelis were murdered, there has been an intensive effort made to have contend defined as incitement removed from social media and to have accounts that regularly post incitement shut down. This includes posts praising terrorists and terrorist acts and calling for more murders. – Arutz Sheva  

The leader of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said American networks have yet to experience significant cyberattacks by Russian operatives amid the ongoing belligerence in Ukraine. – Defense News 

Brian McSorley writes: Despite the best layered defenses, cyber incidents will happen. However, lessons from how the U.S. public and private sectors responded to the Exxon Valdez can help chart a path forward to build resilience in the sectors of the economy most at risk to cyber incidents due to their need to maintain operations. […]To complement CISA’s authorities, mandatory cyber insurance for critical infrastructure organizations can provide a private sector, market-driven incentive for the for the full gambit of cyber preparedness—not just reporting, but also prevention, response, and continuity of operations. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Elizabeth Braw writes: Perhaps most importantly, U.S. officials should encourage the public to help the Ukrainian defense in ways that cannot be used as a pretext for retaliation. Private citizens can help by housing Ukrainian refugees, supporting Russian dissidents, and taking care not to spread disinformation about the conflict. Residents in the United States and Europe could deliver the ultimate blow to Russia by reducing energy consumption: that move would deprive the Russian government of an influx of cash and mitigate the possibility of Russia threatening energy cutoffs to retaliate against governments providing aid to Ukraine. If private citizens are looking to make a difference for Ukraine, turning off the lights at home would be a good start. – Foreign Affairs 


After seven deaths in a year among the crew of a single aircraft carrier, including three suicides in just more than a week, lawmakers and advocates are demanding answers from the Navy. – The Hill 

The US is the largest operator of military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) satellites, and is outwardly supportive of the effort, which an IC official said could improve NATO’s production of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) products. – Breaking Defense 

Most of the military services are hoping to get smaller, as the Army, Navy and Air Force seek to slash thousands from their rolls. – Military Times 

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday mused about a day when the U.S. Navy might be able to buy a dozen or more ships each year. The Navy would be given the funding levels, and the surface ship industrial base would have grown the capacity, to support building three destroyers a year, two or three frigates a year, an amphibious transport dock every other year, and a larger number of supply ships. – Military Times