Fdd's overnight brief

May 25, 2022

In The News


Ukrainian prosecutors identified eight Russian service members and mercenaries they said were responsible for the killing of a village mayor, her husband and son, who were discovered partly buried in a shallow grave shortly after Russian forces retreated from the Kyiv region at the end of March. – Wall Street Journal 

The Treasury Department moved to cut off Russia’s ability to make payments on its dollar-denominated sovereign debt, putting Russia on a path toward defaulting on its foreign debts this summer and deepening the country’s economic isolation after its invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

Newly declassified U.S. intelligence shows that a Russian naval blockade has halted maritime trade at Ukrainian ports, in what world leaders call a deliberate attack on the global food supply chain that has raised fears of political instability and shortages unless grain and other essential agricultural products are allowed to flow freely from Ukraine. – Washington Post 

Billionaire financier George Soros said on Tuesday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have been the beginning of World War Three so the best way to preserve free civilisation was for the West to defeat President Vladimir Putin’s forces. – Reuters 

Russia’s parliament on Tuesday passed a bill giving prosecutors powers to shut foreign media bureaus in Moscow if a Western country has been “unfriendly” to Russian media, following the closure of some Russian state news outlets in the West. – Reuters 

A Russian-backed separatist leader in eastern Ukraine said on Tuesday that foreign representatives, including Western ones, would be invited to a trial of Ukrainian fighters there, according to an Interfax news agency report. – Reuters 

The Russia-appointed administration of Ukraine’s Kherson region will ask Moscow to set up a military base on its territory, Russia’s RIA news agency quoted a local government official as saying on Tuesday. – Reuters 

One of President Vladimir Putin’s top security officials said on Tuesday that Russia would achieve its objectives in Ukraine without being constrained by deadlines. – Reuters 

The European Commission wants to make it easier to confiscate assets linked to serious illegal activities and suspected criminals, including those evading European Union sanctions against the Kremlin, according to a draft document seen by Reuters. – Reuters 

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Tuesday lambasted President Vladimir Putin, casting the Kremlin chief as a doomed madman who started a “stupid war” that was butchering the innocent people of both Ukraine and Russia. – Reuters 

Russia is using food supplies as a weapon with global repercussions, acting the same way it does in the energy sector, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday called for talks with Moscow on unlocking wheat exports that are trapped in Ukraine as a result of a Russian sea blockade. – Reuters 

Russian forces waged an all-out assault on Tuesday to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin eastern cities straddling a river, a battle that could determine the success or failure of Moscow’s main campaign in the industrial heartland of Donbas. – Reuters 

Russia has not yet seen an Italian peace plan for Ukraine, but hopes to receive it through diplomatic channels, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Russian troops may have withdrawn from northern Ukraine but the land mines they scattered across the area pose a significant problem to a semblance of normal life resuming, according to Kyiv’s mayor. – Bloomberg 

Moscow claims it will soon have 50 new advanced nuclear missiles capable of annihilating its enemies ready for deployment in the fall, as the Kremlin seeks to show strength in the face of military blunders in neighboring Ukraine. – Washington Examiner 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said Russian President Vladimir Putin “made a big, strategic mistake” when he invaded Ukraine in late February, spurring the expansion of the Western security alliance with the incoming additions of Finland and Sweden. – The Hill 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov says that the Russian diplomat who resigned from his position and penned a letter publicly decrying the invasion of Ukraine is “no longer with us,” but “against us.” – The Hill 

Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger has said Ukraine should accept giving up part of its territory to reach a peace deal with Russia, and end the now three-month-long war immediately. – Newsweek 

Editorial: Mr. Putin’s invasion is now entering its fourth month and may go on for many more. The economic suffering will increase, and food shortages will turn into political stress around the world. If Mr. Putin won’t yield, the civilized world, led by the U.S., will have to find a way to break his Ukraine food blockade. – Wall Street Journal 

David Ignatius writes: So it’s a genuine personal regret for me that I apparently won’t be visiting Russia again anytime soon. But beyond that, I worry about how, if Russia won’t talk to anyone, the country will find its way back to normal life after its tragic assault on Ukraine is halted. – Washington Post 

Joseph Bosco writes: As such, the matter no longer is simply a Russia-Ukraine or Russia-NATO conflict but one more manifestation of Russia’s challenge to the rules-based international order. In the most basic and tangible way, Putin effectively has declared war on the people of the world, and the West has an international humanitarian obligation to stop him. That means sending Ukraine not only the nature and quantity of weapons, and intelligence assistance, it needs to defeat Russia decisively in the airspace and on the ground of Ukraine, but also in the Black Sea domain. – The Hill 

Jamie Fly writes: The question now is whether the United States and our partners are similarly willing to expand resources and support for the brave Russian journalists who are countering Putin’s propaganda with the truth. – The Hill 

Sylvie Kauffmann writes: On the other hand, Poland and the Baltic states feel that their profound distrust of Russia has been vindicated and are buoyed by the prospect of Finland and Sweden joining Nato. Poland now envisages a partnership with Ukraine in a future Europe that could be as strong and influential in its way as the Franco-German tandem was in the old Europe. As for Russia, it does not need the west to humiliate it. Putin has done a very good job of that himself. – Financial Times 

Andriy Yermak writes: We know that citizens in countries imposing sanctions will pay an economic and social price. But this must be measured against the war’s human toll and the risks of inaction. If achieved, victory in Ukraine by those who value freedom will be recorded 50 years from now in history books throughout the world. The short-term inflationary effects of sanctions will not. By staying united and expanding sanctions so that the Kremlin is deprived of the revenues it uses to finance the war, the democratic world can deliver a decisive blow to the Russian war machine. At this critical phase of Putin’s war in Ukraine, the time to widen sanctions is now. – Financial Times 

Leonid Bershidsky writes: That said, the near-lack of open establishment dissent is not exactly anything for Putin to celebrate. The weakness of sincere emotion he has bred in the Russian elite, the cold calculation in the face of exceptionally shameful circumstances speak to a decline in the elite’s human and intellectual quality[…] Led by these people, under Putin and after he’s gone, Russia is doomed to lag and lose. – Bloomberg 

Anders Aslund writes: If Putin loses power, however, Russia’s future looks much more hopeful. A time of disarray would be to be expected, but if Russia eventually achieves a decent democratic regime, the West should stand up and deliver a proper Marshall Plan, as it did not do in 1991. Hopefully, a preceding Western reconstruction of Ukraine can serve as a master plan. – Foreign Affairs 


Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that there had been some progress in talks with Iran but “not enough” and that the kingdom’s hands remain outstretched to Tehran. – Reuters 

President Joe Biden has finalized his decision to keep Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on a terrorist blacklist, according to a senior Western official, further complicating international efforts to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. – Politico 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett revealed Tuesday that US President Joe Biden updated him last month on his final decision to keep Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations list. – Times of Israel 

Ilan Berman writes: It’s no wonder, then, that Iran’s rulers have latched on to the idea of a new nuclear agreement as a lifeline for their ailing and increasingly unpopular regime. Team Biden, many of whose principals were stakeholders in the original 2015 nuclear deal, seems wedded to the notion as well. But the most likely outcome of such an arrangement, a reinvigorated Islamic Republic, is not what the vast majority of Iranians themselves want. Surely, that is relevant. – Newsweek 

Potkin Azarmehr and Steve 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 the expected nationwide unrest becomes a serious threat to the regime, however, it may be forced into accepting a nuclear deal with fewer concessions in order to get some urgent economic relief and ease domestic tension. – Arutz Sheva 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: As such, Iran has threatened, since Khodayari’s assassination, to strike at the Kurdistan Regional Government. This may be bluster, but it is a credible threat because the Islamic Republic has used Shi’ite militias in the Nineveh plains to target oil facilities near Kalak and other sites in the past, including a Turkish base at Bashiqa. – Jerusalem Post 


The Taliban has ordered all female newscasters to cover their faces while on air, as part of broader rules requiring all women in Afghanistan to cover head to toe. – Washington Post 

Nine months after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, a question still lingers: Which Afghans actually managed to get on the planes after the fall of Kabul? – Washington Post 

The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday called on Taliban authorities in Afghanistan to “swiftly reverse” policies and practices that are restricting the human rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls. – Reuters  

In just under nine months, the Taliban have decimated the rights previously afforded Afghan women. Most Afghan women have lost the ability to work. Women can no longer travel or leave their homes without a male relative. Secondary schools for girls remain shut down, and though Afghan women can attend college, fear of the Taliban leads many to continue studying online. Most recently, the Taliban have forced Afghan women to don the face-covering chador or niqab, though their orders falsely reference these garbs as “hijab,” a less restrictive head covering. – Washington Examiner 

Male news anchors in Afghanistan started the #FreeHerFace social media campaign by covering their faces on air on Sunday after the Taliban ruled on Thursday that female anchors had to cover their faces while broadcasting. – Jerusalem Post 

Jonathan Schroden writes: The answer to “who is to blame” for what happened with Afghanistan’s security forces is complex. Framing six factors as equally important avoids oversimplifying that complexity and is more likely to enable the type of accountability we really need: not just of presidents, but of critical leaders and institutions at all levels. As the special inspector general concludes, “Unless the U.S. government understands and accounts for what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how it went wrong in Afghanistan, it will likely repeat the same mistakes in the next conflict.” On that at least, the special inspector general is absolutely correct. – War on the Rocks 


Finland and Sweden will send delegations to Ankara on Wednesday to try to resolve Turkish opposition to their applications for membership of the NATO military alliance, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The United States is confident that Finland and Sweden will be able to resolve Turkish concerns about their seeking membership in NATO, Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu started a two-day trip to the Palestinian territories and Israel on Tuesday, the first such visit by a senior Turkish official in more than a decade. – Reuters 

The United States on Tuesday raised concern over Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to launch new military operations along the country’s southern border, saying any new offensive in northern Syria would undermine regional stability and put U.S. troops at risk. – Reuters 

President Tayyip Erdogan’s pledge to launch military operations soon to expand safe zones already set up across Turkey’s southern borders has raised the stakes in his row with NATO partners over Finland and Sweden joining the alliance. – Reuters 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday called for preserving the sanctity of the Aksa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount in advance of his anticipated visit there on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Turkey could also try to harm the new US initiatives in eastern Syria and use this to blackmail NATO at the same time. It’s unclear if Ankara can truly do all this, but it likely will try. – Jerusalem Post 


A group of 12 Republican senators led by Texas Senator Ted Cruz sent a letter this week to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, calling on them to “rescind the $1-million grants that the State Department gives to anti-Israel NGOs.” – Jerusalem Post 

President Isaac Herzog will fly out on Wednesday to address the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The forum has, in past years, been addressed by then-president Shimon Peres and then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Jerusalem Post 

Europe backs Israel’s right to exist and stands strong with it against rising antisemitism, head of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola told the Knesset during a special address on Monday. – Jerusalem Post 

The military must fully investigate the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during a firefight in Jenin earlier this month, IDF Military Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi said Monday. – Jerusalem Post 

An international delegation of 13 UN ambassadors arrived in Israel on Tuesday at the invitation of Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan. – Jerusalem Post 

Even before Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu touched down at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday, his visit was being shaped by Israel’s skepticism and wariness about the pace of rapprochement with Ankara. – Times of Israel 

Overnight, IDF, ISA and Israel Border Police forces conducted counterterrorism activity to apprehend wanted terrorist suspects in Judea and Samaria, including in the city of Qalqilya and the towns of Husan and Bayt Kahil. – Arutz Sheva 

David M. Litman writes: Will Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and United Nations officials — all of whom have decried the imaginary racist distinctions in Israeli law — issue any statements about the PA’s obviously discriminatory distinctions in its institutionalized system of incitement to murder? Don’t hold your breath. Even if the PA pays a premium for it, in the eyes of the “human rights” industry, Jewish blood is cheap. – Algemeiner 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is finalising the extension of the kingdom’s $3 billion deposit to Pakistan, Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan told Reuters. – Reuters 

Markets should not expect a big production increase from oil heavyweight Saudi Arabia because it has already “done what it can” to increase supply, a top Saudi diplomat said Tuesday, lowering hopes that the kingdom will help lower soaring fuel prices. – Washington Examiner 

The Biden administration has been quietly mediating among Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt on negotiations that, if successful, could be a first step on the road to the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. – Axios 

The prospect of a meeting between President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, suggests the president is willing to move past his campaign rhetoric in an attempt to curtail runaway prices at the pump and advance his foreign policy goals. – Washington Examiner 

Gulf States

The Qatar Investment Authority cannot exit the Russian market and is waiting to assess its position there because of the Ukraine crisis, one of the sovereign wealth fund’s chief investment officers said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

A drastic anti-Israel law set to come into effect in Iraq will see citizens who communicate with Israelis in any way sentenced to death, the UK’s Jewish News reported Monday. – Times of Israel 

An advisor for the British defence ministry, Air Marshal Martin Elliot Sampson, told Qatar’s state news agency (QNA) on Monday that the first delivery of typhoon jets will be delivered to Qatar in August. – Reuters 

Britain said on Tuesday it had agreed a new Strategic Investment Partnership with Qatar on Tuesday which will see the Gulf state invest up to 10 billion pounds ($12.5 billion) in the next five years. – Reuters 

Giulio Meotti writes: “And strengthened by this unexpected boon, Qatarian NGOs have dedicated themselves to sowing the seeds of radical Islam. Preachers have come from Qatar and Pakistan, Koranic schools have been created and charity centers have been established. Humanitarian actions serve as a Trojan horse for radical Islam “. “Trojan Horse” is also the name of the investigation given in England to the infiltration of Islamic extremists in British schools. The war in Ukraine is the past. This is the future! – Arutz Sheva 

Middle East & North Africa

If the war in Ukraine causes food shortages in North Africa, this will in turn lead to mass migration to Europe, Poland’s president said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Israeli and Moroccan organizations signed a number of business and tech agreements on Monday, including on water and energy, as part of the inaugural “Connect to Innovate” conference organized by Start-Up Nation Central (SNC), a non-profit outfit that tracks the Israeli tech ecosystem. – Times of Israel 

Chiraz Arbi writes: With the next elections cycle looking like it will be run by Saied’s “election commissions”, serious concerns have been raised both at the national and international level that the commission seriously jeopardizes the legitimacy of the whole electoral process. – Washington Institute 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile early Wednesday that flew only briefly before landing in the sea east of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea’s military said. – Wall Street Journal 

President Biden was about to take off from Seoul to Tokyo during his first Asia trip as president, when a reporter asked if he had a message for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Biden’s succinct reply? “Hello. Period.” – Washington Post 

Japan’s top government spokesperson said on Wednesday that North Korea may take more provocative actions including nuclear weapon test after the country fired ballistic missiles off its east coast earlier in the day. – Reuters 

South Korea’s military said it scrambled fighter jets after at least four Chinese and four Russian warplanes entered its air defence zone on Tuesday. – Reuters 

In an interview with CNN, newly elected South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol outlined his administration’s priorities with regard to North Korea and claimed that he would pursue a hard line against Pyongyang, arguing that previous efforts to build a relationship with North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un had ended in failure. – The National Interest 


Russia and China flew strategic bombers over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea while President Biden was in Tokyo on Tuesday, their first joint military exercise since the invasion of Ukraine and a pointed signal to the administration as it seeks to solidify regional alliances amid the growing strategic partnership between Moscow and Beijing. – Washington Post 

A cache of leaked documents detailing draconian surveillance and reeducation practices in Xinjiang has shed fresh light of the scale of Beijing’s multiyear crackdown on ethnic Uyghurs in the region and cast a shadow over a highly orchestrated six-day trip to China by the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet. – Washington Post 

A joint strategic bomber exercise by Russia and China in East Asia on Tuesday shows the depth of the two countries’ alignment, a senior U.S. administration official said. – Reuters 

New Prime Minister Anthony Albanese rebuked China on Tuesday for imposing hefty tariffs on Australian exports two years ago, in remarks made while attending a regional security conference in Tokyo a day after being sworn in. – Reuters 

It was a mistake for the United Nations human rights chief to agree to visit China, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday, amid concerns that government restrictions on her access could undermine scrutiny of Beijing’s rights record. – Reuters 

Shortly after dawn on a southern Taiwanese beach, Robin Hsu’s iPhone pings with the first radio message of the day from Taiwan’s air force as it warns away Chinese aircraft. – Reuters 

The US must be “strategic” when it comes to a decision on whether to remove China tariffs, Trade Representative Katherine Tai said a day after President Joe Biden mentioned he would review Trump-era levies as consumer prices surge. – Bloomberg 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit the Solomon Islands later this week just weeks after the countries formalized a security pact in April that has drawn criticism from the Pacific island’s traditional allies, Australia and the U.S. – Bloomberg 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will deliver a long-promised speech Thursday setting out US policy toward China at a time when Washington is sparring with Beijing over everything from trade and human rights to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

The central Chinese government in Beijing would only use force as the “last resort” for Taiwan reunification, said a retired officer of the People’s Liberation Army. – CNBC 

New satellite imagery from a desert in northwestern China has revealed a dummy missile target shaped like an airplane operated by the Japanese military that could be called into use should China attack Taiwan. – Newsweek 

Thousands of photographs from the heart of China’s highly secretive system of mass incarceration in Xinjiang, as well as a shoot-to-kill policy for those who try to escape, are among a huge cache of data hacked from police computer servers in the region. – BBC 

Michael Schuman writes: This shift—of China’s neighbors opting for tighter ties with America—may progress more and more if Beijing doesn’t change course. Its neighbors would much rather be on good terms with Beijing than bad, and most governments in the region will attempt to balance their relations with both great powers. At the same time, the message to Xi should be loud and clear: As in Europe, where Vladimir Putin’s aggression is uniting the rest of the region against him, so too in Asia is an aggressive China entrenching, not weakening, American power. – The Atlantic 

South Asia

A Biden administration official headed to India on Tuesday to talk with officials and private industry about U.S. sanctions, the Treasury Department said, as Washington seeks to keep India’s purchases of Russian oil from rising. – Reuters 

India said on Tuesday that the leaders of the other members of the Quad group of countries understood its position on Russia’s conflict in Ukraine when they met in Tokyo. – Reuters 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden reached “substantive outcomes” on Tuesday in talks to strengthen their trade and defence ties, India said, though Modi refrained from condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

Sri Lanka’s newly appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will double up as finance minister leading bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund. – Bloomberg 

China is building a bridge across a lake in Ladakh on China’s Himalayan border with India — a move condemned by the Indian government, which called it an “illegal construction.” – CNBC 

Husain Haqqani and Aparna Pande write: At the Quad Summit in Tokyo, President Biden has an opportunity to ask Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi what more the U.S. can do to strengthen India’s resolve in dealing firmly with China. Indian leaders know that while the United States and its partners around the world support India’s rise as a global power, China has long opposed India’s rise. What remains now is to develop a strategy that moves the Quad beyond vaccine diplomacy, climate change and technology to areas such as enhanced security, intelligence and military cooperation. – The Hill 


President Biden came to Asia to show the world the U.S. is united with its regional allies, and with a few tough words on Taiwan he galvanized hawks who want a stronger stand against China. – Wall Street Journal 

President Biden and the leaders of Japan, India and Australia agreed to set up joint monitoring of ships in the Indo-Pacific region, a move designed to deter illegal Chinese fishing and maritime militias, but they didn’t jointly condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

President Biden stressed Tuesday that his policy toward Taiwan had not changed, one day after forcefully pledging — as he has done before — that the United States would defend the island if it came under assault by neighboring China. – Washington Post 

When it comes to President Biden and Taiwan, a confusing pattern has developed. It repeated in Tokyo on Monday. It goes like this: Biden is asked if the United States would respond militarily if China invaded Taiwan. The president responds, “yes.” The world freaks out, wondering if there has been a major change in policy. The White House says there has been no change and that everyone is freaking out over nothing. – Washington Post 

The Biden administration has accelerated its efforts to reshape Taiwan’s defense systems as it projects a more robust American military presence in the region to try to deter a potential attack by the Chinese military, current and former U.S. officials say. – New York Times 

Even before President Biden traveled to Tokyo this week to strengthen a partnership with Australia, India and Japan, the alliance was struggling to present a united front, as India refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – New York Times 

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday “strong views” were expressed on Russia in a meeting of leaders of the Quad group of countries. – Reuters 

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday there had been no change to the policy of strategic ambiguity on Taiwan. – Reuters 

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese held his first meeting as leader with U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday, prompting Biden to jokingly stage a mock walk-out as the Labor Party leader recalled his first visit to Washington. – Reuters 

Japan’s top government spokesman said on Tuesday that leaders from Japan and United States had called for a peaceful resolution of issues regarding Taiwan. – Reuters 

New Zealand on Wednesday said it would extend the New Zealand Defence Force’s deployment to the Solomon Islands until at least May next year, amid concerns among Western allies about China’s growing presence in the South Pacific. – Reuters 

Japan scrambled jets after Russian and Chinese warplanes neared its airspace on Tuesday, when Tokyo was hosting the leaders of the Quad grouping of countries that includes the United States, Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said. – Reuters 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said while New Zealand welcomes more investment in the Pacific region, it doesn’t support increased militarization and is urging nations to be transparent about their intentions. – Bloomberg 

Australia’s former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said he expected there would be “a reset” in relations between Canberra and Beijing under new leader Anthony Albanese, calling his own party’s former rhetoric on the Chinese government “frenzied” and “unhelpful.” – Bloomberg 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is calling for the Biden administration to sell Taiwan the military equipment needed for the self-ruled island to defend itself against a potential Chinese Communist Party invasion. – Washington Examiner 

On May 16, 2022, Hsien-Tsan Lin, director of the East Asian Department of National Taiwan Normal University, warned that Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government and all the “Taiwan independence” promoters should draw a hard lesson from Ukraine. In fact, he said that Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky’s “political trick” of promoting the idea of joining NATO became Russian President Vladimir Putin’s excuse for his invasion. For this reason, Taiwan should be prepared for a Chinese invasion. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: But for the US to follow that path would first require Biden to want to shift the domestic political narrative on trade deals from one where they imperil American jobs to one where they help cement American security. If the US really wants to be the attractive superpower partner relative to China, it needs to elevate the diplomatic and economic sides of its engagement with Asia to the same level as its military commitment across the region. – Financial Times 

Marc A. Thiessen writes: Most important, Biden’s staff needs to stop undermining deterrence by undermining the president. Biden was 100 percent correct: If China invades Taiwan, we must come to its defense. Better that China know that now, before an invasion — so we can prevent one from happening in the first place. – Washington Post 

Bret Stephens writes: Second, U.S. defense spending, despite nominal increases, is also too low in the teeth of inflation, with a Navy that continues to shrink in a world far more dangerous in this decade than it was in the last. Biden may have wanted to model his presidency on F.D.R.’s and the New Deal. History may give him no choice but to model it on Truman’s and containment. There are worse precedents. – New York Times 

Hal Brands writes: To be fair, the Biden administration is working on these problems. The question is whether the US is moving fast enough to deter a conflict that may be much closer than many Americans realize. Clarifying, albeit in a muddled way, America’s commitment to Taiwan is useful. Showing that America can actually defend that island would be even better. – Bloomberg 

Bruce Fein writes: President Biden needs to walk back his serial claims to presidential war powers without tarry. Otherwise, he will have demonstrated his unfitness as a steward of the Constitution as his constitutionally prescribed oath of office mandates. – The Hill 

Zack Cooper and Gregory Poling write: This maritime domain awareness initiative therefore combines public goods provision with the Quad’s natural strengths: security cooperation and capacity building. The United States, Japan, Australia, and India are four of the Indo-Pacific’s leading maritime powers. It is only natural that they would help the region develop greater maritime domain awareness capabilities. That this will highlight China’s illicit activities in the waters of many regional states is certainly a benefit from a strategic standpoint, but it is also an economic boon for the Indo-Pacific’s smallest players the most. – War on the Rocks 


European Union officials on Tuesday suggested the bloc might not decide whether to impose an oil embargo on Russia for weeks, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is the main hurdle, declared a state of emergency at home over the Ukraine war. – Wall Street Journal 

European energy companies appear to have bent to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand that they purchase natural gas using an elaborate new payment system, a concession that avoids more gas shut-offs and also gives Putin a public relations victory while continuing to fund his war effort in Ukraine. – Washington Post 

Ukraine will eventually be part of the European Union, France’s Europe minister said on Tuesday, reassuring Kyiv that an initiative to forge closer ties between the bloc and aspiring members would not replace their bids to join. – Reuters 

Germany is changing the way it deals with China and will give higher priority for human rights issues, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Tuesday, following fresh media reports about human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. – Reuters 

European Union leaders are unlikely to strike a deal on an oil embargo against Russia at their summit on Monday and Tuesday, head of the bloc’s executive Ursula von der Leyen said. – Reuters 

Hungary has declared a legal “state of danger” in response to Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine, the prime minister announced Tuesday, allowing the right-wing nationalist government to take special measures without the participation of the legislature. – Associated Press 

Antisemitic incidents in Germany’s capital continued to rise last year, for the first time including a record of two cases of “extreme violence,” according to a report published Tuesday. – Algemeiner 


African countries raised an objection on Tuesday to a U.S.-led proposal to reform the International Health Regulations (IHR), a move delegates say might prevent passage at the World Health Organization’s annual assembly. – Reuters 

Somalia’s prime minister suspended the foreign minister on Tuesday, citing the authorisation of a ship exporting charcoal to Oman in violation of international sanctions. – Reuters 

South Africa and Germany discussed the need for a peaceful resolution of the Ukraine war in talks on Tuesday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said. – Reuters 

Barely two months after a truce was declared in Ethiopia’s civil war, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is confronting a new challenge to his authority from his one-time allies in the northern Amhara region. – Bloomberg 

Latin America

A former leftist guerrilla-turned-senator, Gustavo Petro, is favored to be the next president of a country he pledges to transform by phasing out oil and coal production, and ending the U.S.-backed drug war. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. Treasury Department is getting ready to renew in the coming days Chevron Corp’s (CVX.N) license to operate in Venezuela, but likely without the greatly expanded terms the U.S. oil major sought, four people close to the talks said. – Reuters 

President Biden, returning today from an Asian trip during which he toiled to unite allies there as well as in Europe, is facing growing doubts about his messy policies in this hemisphere. A planned summit at Los Angeles, where leaders from across the Americas are to palaver in June, is in shambles. As Mr. Biden makes friendly gestures toward dictators in Cuba and Venezuela, an alliance of Latin leftists is playing him for their own political gains. – New York Sun 

United States

Donald Trump has suggested nuclear war is “more likely to happen than not” for the United States because of President Joe Biden. Writing on Truth Social, the former president said he never thought “in my wildest imagination” that the U.S. would be involved in a nuclear war. – Newsweek 

William Moloney writes: As a democracy, we should be alarmed that we can only speculate on the identity of those who are guiding our president and writing his speeches but staying in the background, immune from any meaningful accountability for his undefined but risky foreign policy. – The Hill 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: As the US tries to make its way in a complex new world order it must hang onto these countries. At the same time Israel and US partners in the Middle East want to work closely with Japan, South Korea, Australia and India as well. These are natural partners and they are existing partners, much as Singapore, the Philippines and other states have been for Israel. – Jerusalem Post 


Russian diplomat Vassily Nebenzia launched a tirade against the West on Monday, accusing the world’s largest democracies of controlling information about the war in Ukraine and shutting down Russia’s “alternative views.” – Business Insider 

A report that Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee issued on Tuesday asserts that ransomware attacks are surging even as federal efforts to respond to them are not up to the task. – CyberScoop 

The United States and three allies announced a partnership on Tuesday that will see the countries work together on several cybersecurity initiatives centered around fortifying software, supply chains and user data. – The Record 


The U.S. Navy on Tuesday unveiled a climate action plan focused on installing cyber-secure microgrids, boosting its supply of lithium batteries and slashing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. – CNBC 

The U.S. Marine Corps commandant wants to forge a new command focused on information operations and improved coordination. – Defense News 

David E. Johnson writes: Even an old, retired Army colonel like me, although I hate to admit it, realizes that our nation needs a strong and relevant Marine Corps. It is time for the Marine family to have a real sit-down to sort all this out and get the Corps back on track. – Breaking Defense 

Peter Huessy writes: The good news is that Congress now strongly supports nuclear modernization. However, the bad news is that some still doubt the need to invest in air and missile defenses and develop the sea-based nuclear cruise missiles that U.S. military leaders have recommended. Furthermore, the new equipment kicks in largely at the end of the decade, meaning the United States and its allies must hope that their adversaries wait for them to build the required military forces that allow for a “fair fight.” – The National Interest 

Long War

A man accused of being a member of the Islamic State helped plot to murder former President George W. Bush in retaliation for waging war against Iraq, the F.B.I. said on Tuesday. – New York Times 

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a Hamas finance official and a network of financial facilitators and companies that have generated revenue for the Palestinian militant group, the Treasury Department said. – Reuters 

A suspected terrorist released into the United States by Border Patrol agents last month was not arrested until two weeks after he was matched to the terror watch list, according to a new report. – New York Post