Fdd's overnight brief

May 20, 2022

In The News


A court in Kyiv on Thursday approved a request from the prosecutor general’s office to arrest former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for allegedly smuggling people across the border into Russia in 2014. Yanukovych decamped to Russia, where he is believed to be living now, after he was ousted from power the same year. – Washington Post 

Before the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was one of the world’s most well-traveled diplomats — jetting off to countries near and far to discuss strategic concerns, sign cooperation deals with allies and scold what he has called the “golden billion” Western consumers who gobble up the world’s resources at everyone else’s expense. – Washington Post 

The Western allies face new tactical divisions over how to limit Russia’s massive energy sales, with differences continuing to emerge among them over the most effective way to deprive the Kremlin of a key financial lifeline for its war in Ukraine. – Washington Post 

Nobody knows how or when the war will end in Ukraine, but it’s clear that right now Russia isn’t winning. According to Western governments and private analysts, Moscow failed to achieve its initial goal of a lightning strike into Kyiv to take down the government. And success for its Plan B, a scaled-down offensive to push Ukrainian forces back in the east and southeast of the country, looks increasingly difficult. – Wall Street Journal 

A 21-year-old Russian soldier admitted Wednesday to fatally shooting an unarmed civilian in Ukraine’s first war-crimes trial since Russia’s invasion. – Wall Street Journal 

It is the last time the men would be seen alive: In two videos, Russian paratroopers march them at gunpoint along a street in Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv. Some of the Ukrainian captives are hunched over, holding the belts of those in front of them. Others have their hands over their heads. “Walk to the right, bitch,” one of the soldiers orders them. – New York Times 

Fresh from its triumph over the last armed Ukrainian resistance in the devastated city of Mariupol, Russia appeared to be laying the groundwork Thursday for annexing swaths of southeast Ukraine, described by a high-ranking Kremlin official as having a “worthy place in our Russian family.’’ – New York Times 

With the number of defenders left holed up in a Mariupol steel factory dwindling, Russian commanders will be coming under increasing pressure to reallocate troops from the strategic southern port city to bolster their offensive in eastern Ukraine, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Friday. – Associated Press 

Top members of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s team are pressing U.S. officials to pursue sanctions against 6,000 Russians who they say are among the “next tier” of those enabling Russian President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine. – Yahoo News 

The White House is working to put advanced anti-ship missiles in the hands of Ukrainian fighters to help defeat Russia’s naval blockade, officials said, amid concerns more powerful weapons that could sink Russian warships would intensify the conflict. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia on Thursday of weaponizing food and holding grain for millions of people around the world hostage to help accomplish what its invasion of Ukraine has not — “to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people.” – Associated Press   

For many Europeans, the nearer they are to Russia, the faster their cost of living is rising. The extent of a country’s dependence on Russia for its energy needs is a key factor, but not the only one, deciding how fast inflation has risen since Moscow’s full invasion of Ukraine in February sent fossil fuel prices soaring. – Financial Times 

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with his Russian counterpart on Thursday, which marks the first time the two defense officials have talked since Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February. – Washington Examiner  

On May 15, 1992, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was formed following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in Eastern Europe and shortly afterwards the Soviet Union itself. It was intended to be a collective security organization modeled on NATO where an attack on one country was considered an attack upon all. When six post-Soviet states – Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia,’ Tajikistan and Kazakhstan – convened in Moscow on May 16,2022, for a jubilee summit, it was clear that the organization was at best a parody of NATO. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Indiscriminate Russian bombardments pounded Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk, where at least 13 civilians were killed over the past 24 hours, local authorities said, as Moscow’s offensive in the east continues to cause immense damage and suffering. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Thursday that Moscow is disappointed by recent “anti-Russian” statements by Israeli officials. – Times of Israel 

The Kremlin’s most advanced missile systems are not operating effectively in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, U.S. Northern Command chief Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck said Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee. – USNI News  

Andrew Latham writes: But, if Washington plays its cards just right – and if Kyiv is realistic, if Moscow remains rational and if the goddess Fortuna smiles on us – then the war will produce stable balances of power in at least two of regions of crucial importance to Washington. And that would make it a very good war indeed — at least for the United States. – The Hill 

Kateryna Stepanenko, Karolina Hird, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Russian forces will likely complete their withdrawal from the vicinity of Kharkiv City but attempt to hold a line west of Vovchansk to defend their GLOCs from Belgorod to Izyum.  It is unclear if they will succeed. The Russians will continue efforts to encircle Severodonetsk and Lysychansk at least from the south, possibly by focusing on cutting off the last highway connecting Severodonetsk-Lysychansk with the rest of Ukraine. – Institute for the Study of War 

Nataliya Bugayova writes: The West’s attention is focused on Russia’s war in Ukraine, but this Western attention is not a constant nor a given. Putin has achieved some of his advances over the past 20 years simply by outlasting the West in the information space. The West should provide Ukraine with weapons at the pace and scale that matches the requirement of a Ukrainian campaign to expel Russian forces and liberate its people and land. – Foreign Policy 


Iran this week said it was reviewing a request to delay the execution of an Iranian-born Swedish academic convicted of espionage. The case of Ahmadreza Jalali, a disaster medicine doctor, has drawn widespread international condemnation and put a spotlight on Iran’s pattern of arresting dual nationals on spurious charges, often for political leverage. – Washington Post 

Iranian security forces fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters in several provinces on Thursday, according to posts on social media, as protests triggered by rising food prices continued to spread. – Reuters 

Iran’s crude exports to China have fallen sharply since the start of the Ukraine war as Beijing favoured heavily discounted Russian barrels, leaving almost 40 million barrels of Iranian oil stored on tankers at sea in Asia and seeking buyers. – Reuters   

Amos Harel writes: Iran’s progress toward a bomb is undoubtedly disturbing, but not much is new about that. Tehran is moving toward its goals relatively cautiously, and we shouldn’t confuse the immediate goal (accumulating uranium enriched at a high level in sufficient quantity to manufacture one nuclear bomb) with the final, more distant goal (adapting the bomb to a nuclear warhead that can be installed on a ballistic missile). – Haaretz 

Barry Rosen writes: To prevent future hostage-taking by Iran, the US, UK, EU, and E3 should insist that any and all agreements for sanctions relief include an automatic snapback provision if their citizens are taken hostage in the future. Just as Iranian negotiators have red lines, this should be a non-negotiable red line for the West. If the first duty of government is to protect its citizens, nothing less will do. – Times of Israel 


Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers ordered all female presenters on TV channels to cover their faces on air, the country’s biggest media outlet said Thursday. The order came in a statement from the Taliban’s Virtue and Vice Ministry, tasked with enforcing the group’s rulings, as well as from the Information and Culture Ministry, the TOLOnews channel said in a tweet. The statement called the order “final and non-negotiable,” the channel said. – Associated Press 

The border closure and seizure of Tajik trucks is the latest sign of growing hostilities between the Central Asian nation and Afghanistan’s hard-line rulers. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Michael Rubin writes: It is no less crazy, however, to pump tens of millions of dollars to the Taliban regime in the name of humanitarian relief. Donor motives might be pure, but that money does not achieve its goals. The Taliban steals and diverts it. At the very least, it helps the Taliban solidify control. The United States need not actively fund Massoud and the Afghan resistance, but it should recognize the Afghan Zelenskyy when it sees it and stand out of his way. Massoud’s success is apparent to anyone who looks. It is time to let the Taliban fail. – The National Interest 


Turkey has told allies that it will reject Sweden and Finland’s membership to NATO, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in a video posted on his Twitter account on Thursday. – Reuters  

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is expected to visit Israel next week and plans to go to the flashpoint Temple Mount holy site, according to a Thursday report. – Times of Israel 

Richard Milne and Ayla Jean Yackley write: For Turkey, now is a good moment to push Sweden on the Kurds, Lund said. “Turkey sees an opportunity for asking for something because Sweden is asking Turkey for something. Turkey is seeing a chance to make its weight felt,” he said. “It might be able to extract concessions from Sweden, and if the US brokers a solution, try to get concessions from them too.” – Financial Times 


Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government is facing a new threat to its existence after a second lawmaker quit the ruling coalition Thursday, leaving it with a minority in parliament less than a year since coming to power. – Wall Street Journal 

The Israeli military has identified a soldier’s rifle that may have killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but said it cannot be certain unless the Palestinians turn over the bullet for analysis, a military official said Thursday. – Associated Press 

Hamas supporters celebrated Thursday a landslide student election win at a top West Bank university, results experts said further point to the Islamist terror group’s growing support in the Palestinian territories. – Agence France- Presse 

The Israeli army’s Military Police Criminal Investigation Division does not plan to investigate the fatal shooting of Shireen Abu Akleh. The Palestinian-American journalist for Al Jazeera was killed during clashes between Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin on May 11. – Haaretz 

The Iron Dome missile defense system shot down a “suspicious” aircraft flying over the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said. – Times of Israel 

Defense Minister Benny Gantz met Thursday in Washington with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for talks on countering the threat of Iran becoming a nuclear-armed state, as well as its regional influence. – Times of Israel 

Israel is an “evil state which must be destroyed as a matter of urgency,” South Africa’s radical left-wing communist party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said in a statement released after the violent clashes during the funeral of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh last week. – Jerusalem Post 

In a signal to Iran, the US Air Force will refuel Israel Air Force fighter jets during a massive aerial drill in the coming weeks that will simulate an Israeli strike against Iran. – Jerusalem Post 

Gil Hoffman writes: The final way to keep the current government going and avoid an election is to seek a counter-defector from the opposition to the coalition. It is not likely, but it cannot be ruled out. Bennett has no Miracle Max to give him a magic pill, but he cannot be politically eulogized just yet. – Jerusalem Post 


Lebanon received from Interpol a wanted notice for disgraced auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn on Thursday, four weeks after French prosecutors issued an international arrest warrant for him, Lebanese judicial officials said. – Associated Press 

When Halime El Kaakour enters Lebanon’s parliament as a newly elected lawmaker next week, she will step past the same concrete barriers that security forces erected to keep her and other protesters out during massive anti-government rallies in 2019. – Reuters 

Lebanon’s creditors are bracing for an even longer wait for a debt restructuring deal after an inconclusive parliamentary election cast more doubt about the country’s ability to deliver reforms needed to unlock crucial International Monetary Fund aid. – Bloomberg 

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday issued new Hezbollah-related sanctions, designating Lebanese businessman and the Iran-backed group’s financial facilitator, Ahmad Jalal Reda Abdallah, and his companies. – Reuters 

Arabian Peninsula

U.S. President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could meet for the first time as soon as next month, CNN reported on Thursday, citing multiple sources. – Reuters 

A Hong Kong-flagged racing sailboat that led its skippers to win multiple contests around the world came under attack Thursday off the coast of war-torn Yemen, with its crew reportedly targeted by militants who fired warning shots and threatened them with rocket-propelled grenade launchers. – Associated Press 

As world leaders descended on the United Arab Emirates this week to offer condolences on the death of ruler Sheikh Khalifa, diplomatic circles buzzed with speculation over whether his successor Sheikh Mohammed, known as MBZ, would break with tradition and pick his son, rather than one of his brothers, as crown prince. – Financial Times 

Middle East & North Africa

King Abdullah II of Jordan issued a royal decree Thursday restricting the communications and movements of his half brother Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, whom Jordanian authorities accused last year of taking part in a coup attempt against the king. – Washington Post 

Egyptian authorities have transferred a prominent political activist from a maximum-security prison where he was allegedly tortured and denied basic rights to a new correctional facility, his family said on Thursday. – Associated Press 

Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, and a Saudi prince, Khalid bin Salman, are visiting Washington at the same time this week. – New York Sun 

Seth G. Jones and Seamus P. Daniels write: To inform the debate over the United States’ military presence in the Middle East, this report assesses three posture options for U.S. forces in the region. This report finds that the United States should keep a notable but tailored presence in the Middle East to contain the further expansion of Chinese and Russian military power and to check the actions of Iran and terrorist organizations that threaten the United States and its allies and partners. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Korean Peninsula

A recent surge of infections centered on the capital Pyongyang has triggered a pivot to portray Mr. Kim as a more active protector. State media has shown him making late night visits to pharmacies to check on medical supplies, berating officials for laziness in guarding against the spread of the virus, and describing the outbreak as the country’s worst ever crisis. – Wall Street Journal  

When the U.S. and South Korean leaders meet Saturday, North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile program, already a major focus, may receive extra attention if intelligence predictions of an imminent major weapons demonstration by the North, which is struggling with a COVID-19 outbreak, are right. – Associated Press  

Kee B Park writes: To be sure, aid to North Korea is controversial. On the same day the outbreak was announced, North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles. Perhaps we can have a moratorium on any military activity on the Korean Peninsula until the outbreak is contained. Such activity diverts precious resources and attention away from the urgent needs of the people. All sides need to have their eyes on containing the pandemic. – CNN 


China’s Communist Party will block promotions for senior cadres whose spouses or children hold significant assets abroad, people familiar with the matter said, as Beijing seeks to insulate its top officials from the types of sanctions now being directed at Russia. – Wall Street Journal 

U.S. President Joe Biden may talk with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the coming weeks, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said aboard Air Force One on Thursday. – Reuters 

China is holding military exercises in the disputed South China Sea coinciding with U.S. President Joe Biden’s visits to South Korea and Japan that are largely focused on countering the perceived threat from Beijing. – Associated Press 

China is seeking to replenish its strategic crude stockpiles with cheap Russian oil, a sign Beijing is strengthening its energy ties with Moscow just as Europe works toward banning imports due to the war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

China says its initiative to build ports and other infrastructure across Asia and Africa, paid for with Chinese loans, will boost trade. But in a cautionary tale for borrowers, Sri Lanka’s multibillion-dollar debt to Beijing threatens to hinder efforts to resolve a financial crisis so severe that the Indian Ocean nation cannot import food or gasoline. – Associated Press 

China warned the U.S. that President Biden’s visit to East Asia this week could put their relations in “serious jeopardy” if officials play the “Taiwan card” during the trip. – The Hill  

Editorial: Reuters reports the WHO won’t make a decision about Taiwan’s participation until Monday— “day two of the meeting.” The 13th-hour decision-making is bad enough, but Taiwan’s exclusion would be an embarrassment for the WHO and the Biden Administration. – Wall Street Journal 

South Asia

Faced with rising violence, Pakistan is taking a tougher line to pressure Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to crack down on militants hiding on their soil, but so far the Taliban remain reluctant to take action — trying instead to broker a peace. – Associated Press 

Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Thursday he would like to pivot away from single-issue transactional relationship with the United States as he seeks to repair frayed ties with Washington. – Reuters 

Sri Lanka’s central bank has secured foreign exchange to pay for fuel and cooking gas shipments that will ease crippling shortages, its governor said on Thursday, but police fired tear gas and water canon to push back student protesters. – Reuters 

Mihir Sharma writes: Nevertheless, that’s what needs to be done. If Indian leaders want a reliable and affordable pipeline of weapons of decent quality that arrive quickly enough to deter an aggressive China, they are going to have to fund homegrown defense companies, convince voters of the need for big military budgets, suffer through failures and scandals, and field less powerful weapons until they can develop better ones. The task will be messy and politically difficult. They should probably get started. – Bloomberg 


President Biden embarked Thursday on his first diplomatic mission to Asia since taking office, hoping to demonstrate that the United States remained focused on countering China, even as his administration stage-managed a war against Russia in Europe. – New York Times  

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to announce an increase in defense spending at a summit next week with U.S. President Joe Biden, TV Asahi said on Friday. – Reuters 

The Philippines has established three coast guard outposts on three islands in the disputed South China Sea to monitor ship movements and promote safety, officials said Friday, amid increasing maritime tensions with China. – Associated Press 

As the White House tries to demonstrate that the war in Ukraine hasn’t distracted America from pressing priorities in Asia, the Biden administration is once again looking to “the Quad.” The informal grouping brings together the US, Japan, India and Australia in an alliance of democracies with shared economic and security interests that span the Pacific and Indian Oceans. – Bloomberg 

President Joe Biden’s maiden trip to Asia as commander in chief marks a long-awaited shift to the region, one that has been overshadowed by the president’s deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine. – Washington Examiner 

Residents of Tajikistan’s restive region of Gorno-Badakhshan, where protesters have clashed with police in recent days, say the death toll from the violence is more than double the one given by officials. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

As the West grapples with Russia’s war on Ukraine in Europe, the world’s two most populous nations are mired in a bout for influence in South Asia, where India finds itself surrounded by countries forging closer ties China, its top geopolitical rival. – Newsweek 

Stacie L. Pettyjohn and Becca Wasser write: Moving forward, military planners in the United States and in Washington’s allies and partners must grapple with the fact that, in a conflict over Taiwan, China would consider all conventional and nuclear options to be on the table. And the United States is running out of time to strengthen deterrence and keep China from believing an invasion of Taiwan could be successful. The biggest risk is that Washington and its friends choose not to seize the moment and act: a year or two from now, it might already be too late. – Foreign Affairs 

Dhruva Jaishankar and Tanvi Madan write: The Quad is not a security alliance, nor will it become one. Unlike NATO, it is not a bloc defined by mutual security guarantees and pooled resources. But as the Quad looks to cooperate and coordinate in the face of mounting global crises, and as China increases its military presence and assertiveness across the Indo-Pacific, the Quad must develop a more robust security agenda if it seeks to sustain itself—and the region—in the coming years. – Foreign Affairs 

Bruce Klingner and Jeff Smith write: The U.S. is stronger when aligned with Indo–Pacific allies and better positioned to confront regional security challenges. Strong alliances are in the strategic interests of the United States, augmenting the nation’s military, intelligence, and diplomatic capabilities. Close coordination on security and foreign policies is critical for effective deterrence and defense capabilities. – Heritage Foundation 


President Biden and Congress on Thursday deepened U.S. involvement in the global effort to reject the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the Senate voting to finalize more than $40 billion in new military and humanitarian assistance while Biden and top lawmakers lent firm public support to what could be the most significant expansion of NATO in nearly two decades. – Washington Post  

President Biden hailed Finland’s and Sweden’s decision to join NATO as a “watershed moment in European security,” saying the entry of two well-armed, robust democracies would strengthen the Western alliance at a time of acute tension with Russia. – Washington Post 

Authorities in Sweden and Finland have raised alert levels for cyberattacks, concerned they face increased hacking risks because of the war in Ukraine and the two Nordic countries’ subsequent applications to join NATO. – Wall Street Journal 

Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary has fiercely resisted a proposed European embargo of Russian oil, saying it would devastate his country’s economy. Other potential casualties of such a ban would be things close to his heart: his populist campaign promises, and a financial gravy train for culture warriors in Europe and in the United States. – New York Times 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday he was confident that Sweden and Finland would succeed in joining the NATO defence alliance and that Germany was doing everything possible to make that happen. – Reuters 

German lawmakers agreed Thursday to strip former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of his office and staff after he maintained and defended his long-standing ties with Russia and its energy sector despite the invasion of Ukraine. – Associated Press 

Finland wants to remain flexible about joint exercises with NATO following its formal application to join the alliance and about bringing in any new military equipment on its territory to avoid overreactions, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Brussels is to help EU countries end their dependency on Russian nuclear fuel as it seeks to cut the bloc’s ties to Russian energy by 2027. – Financial Times 

Richard Neal has accused the UK of starting to take the Good Friday Agreement “for granted”, as the influential Democratic lawmaker urged Britain to “find a solution” to the stand-off with the EU over Northern Ireland. – Financial Times 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the White House and Congress this week to make his country’s case for acquiring the F-35 stealth fighter jet while lobbying against Turkey’s attempts to upgrade its aging fleet of F-16s and acquire additional aircraft. – Defense News 

Ruby Mellen and Dylan Moriarty write: Over more than 70 years, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, has grown to an alliance of 30 countries. Founded in 1949 to counterbalance the growing power of the Soviet Union, NATO — long a source of tension between the West and Russia — has reasserted itself as a significant and unified force against Moscow since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. – Washington Post 

Joseph C. Sternberg writes: Americans have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Britons have Magna Carta, the queen and tea. What gives the European Union its ineffable EU-ness? For now it’s vague talk of democratic values, disbursements of EU cash, and economic regulations applied equally from Lisbon to Ljubljana. No wonder the technocrats in Brussels trying to hold this mess together fear they can’t bend the rules to solve the Irish problem. – Wall Street Journal 


A leading Sudanese politician was arrested on Thursday as protests raged in the capital Khartoum for the seventh month against military rule, with tear gas and heavy security force deployment. – Reuters 

The U.N.’s top political official for Africa called Mali’s decision to withdraw from the Sahel regional counterterrorism force “unfortunate and regrettable” Wednesday, especially at a time of increasing terrorist activity and insecurity. – Associated Press 

Britain and Rwanda on Thursday faced down two United Nations agencies that have sharply criticized their controversial plan in which Britain expects to send some asylum-seekers from the U.K. to the African country. – Associated Press 

The Americas

The Biden administration on Thursday accused Cuba of fueling controversy over its possible exclusion from the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas next month to portray Washington as the “bad guy” and distract attention from Havana’s human rights record at home. – Reuters 

The Biden administration on Thursday appeared set to renew its assessment that Cuba is among a handful of countries “not cooperating fully” with the United States in the fight against terrorism, according to a government document. – Reuters 

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said his government was “not interested” in attending the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas next month, which some leaders have criticized for reports it may exclude the Central American country along with Cuba and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government. – Reuters 

Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso will attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles next month, he said on Thursday during a visit to the South American country by U.S. first lady Jill Biden. – Reuters 

The White House could see a wave of defections from a Summit of the Americas conference in June as Latin America’s largest economies insist on invites for Washington’s antagonists. – Washington Examiner 

A U.S. special adviser is trying to smooth out tensions with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador after he threatened to skip this year’s Summit of the Americas in the U.S. over the guest list. – NPR  

Editorial: The new policy allows U.S. financing for “independent” Cuban entrepreneurs, but no such thing exists. Reality isn’t stopping Team Biden, which on May 10 issued a license—from the Office of Foreign Assets Control—authorizing a U.S. company to invest and provide financing to a Cuban company. The license likely violates the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996, which prohibits the extension of credit to Cuba. The White House urgency to rescue Havana is ripe for Congressional questions. – Wall Street Journal 

North America

Canada’s Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly says she’s focused on rebuilding Ottawa’s damaged relations with Beijing, an effort underway eight months after the close of a U.S. extradition case that ignited bilateral tensions. – Politico 

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby is joining the White House, according to a person familiar with the matter, adding star power to the President Joe Biden’s National Security Council. – Associated Press 

A federal judge in Illinois rejected a motion for dismissal by defendants in a decades-old legal fight waged by the family of a slain Jewish teenager, whose parents allege that the defendants had, under other identities, provided funding to Hamas, members of which carried out the deadly 1996 West Bank attack. – Jewish Insider  

Editorial: But as the war continues, Mr. Biden should also make clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky and his people that there is a limit to how far the United States and NATO will confront Russia, and limits to the arms, money and political support they can muster. It is imperative that the Ukrainian government’s decisions be based on a realistic assessment of its means and how much more destruction Ukraine can sustain. – New York Times 


The emails landed on March 23 in the inboxes of scientists and engineers at several of Russia’s military research and development institutes, purportedly sent by Russia’s Ministry of Health. They carried a subject line that offered seemingly tantalizing information about a “list of persons under U.S. sanctions for invading Ukraine.” – New York Times  

Russian-backed actors have launched numerous disinformation campaigns intended to demoralize Ukrainians and incite internal unrest, according to a report released on Thursday by cybersecurity firm Mandiant. – The Hill 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government joined Canada’s closest intelligence allies in banning Huawei Technologies Co. from fifth-generation wireless networks. The Chinese state-championed telecommunications firm poses a threat to Canada’s national security, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Thursday, confirming an earlier Bloomberg News report. ZTE Corp. equipment will also be prohibited. – Bloomberg 


Swedish officials are requesting a larger U.S. naval presence in the Baltic Sea as part of the ongoing diplomatic push for Sweden and Finland to join NATO, two defense officials told USNI News on Thursday. – USNI News 

The White House’s Indo-Pacific Strategy announcement didn’t include any money attached to it, but that should change in the next federal budget, according to Camille Dawson, deputy assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. – Breaking Defense 

The Senate gave final approval Thursday on a multibillion-dollar bill that will extend the Pentagon’s ability to ship weapons to Ukraine the same day arms funding was set to dry up. – Military.com