Fdd's overnight brief

May 31, 2022

In The News


European Union leaders said for the first time that they would impose an oil embargo on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, taking a big step forward in an economic fight against Moscow that is already reverberating in global markets. – Wall Street Journal 

Across Ukraine, farmers are navigating mines, traversing bombed bridges and risking dangerous maneuvers at overworked ports to circumvent a Russian blockade and get their grains to a world desperate for them. – Wall Street Journal 

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his German and French counterparts that Moscow was open to resuming negotiations with Ukraine, but that the West’s supply of weapons to the Kyiv government could exacerbate the crisis, the Kremlin said Saturday. – Wall Street Journal 

Russian forces advanced Monday into the center of Severodonetsk, one of the last Ukrainian strongholds in the eastern Donbas region, where Moscow is now concentrating its offensive. – Wall Street Journal 

A French photojournalist covering evacuation efforts in eastern Ukraine was killed during a Russian strike that hit the humanitarian truck he was in, officials say. – Washington Post 

The European Union’s embargo on Russian oil will bite into the country’s export of crude — a cornerstone of the nation’s economy — but it may not do much damage until the restrictions actually kick in. – New York Times  

Tragedy and serendipity are dispensed randomly in war, and on March 5, when a Russian plane fell from the sky, they produced two very different results in Chernihiv, a city in Ukraine’s north. One family lived, almost miraculously, while Mr. Serhienko, in the wrong place at the wrong time, ended up dead. – New York Times 

An explosion rocked the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol early on Monday, sending plumes of smoke into the sky just outside the office of the pro-Kremlin head of the region, according to Ukrainian and Russian officials. – New York Times 

Only one route remains open for international convoys bringing food, water and other aid to over one million Syrians besieged by civil war. Now, officials warn, Russia might try to shut it down or use it as a bargaining chip with world powers in another war, about 1,000 miles away in Ukraine. – New York Times 

Editorial: Again the U.S. is offering a pre-emptive concession that lets Russia get away with putting more economic pressure on Ukraine and the West without fear of a response. This is no way to win a war, or even to force a stalemate on favorable terms for Ukraine. Mr. Putin hasn’t given up his designs to topple Kyiv and directly threaten NATO, and Mr. Biden’s ambivalence in aiding Ukraine encourages the Russian to believe he can still achieve a strategic victory. – Wall Street Journal 

Elisabeth Braw writes: It may take effort to convince the Western public to welcome Russians. Some Americans and Europeans seem to hold every Russian responsible for Vladimir Putin’s actions. There would also need to be security screenings to weed out potential spies and intellectual property thieves. But overall, attracting tech workers would be as powerful as sanctions and would help Western economies rather than hurt them. – Wall Street Journal 

Michael Kimmage and Maria Lipman write: However small the diaspora’s contributions to Russian politics may prove to be, they will not be without meaning. The diaspora will sustain patterns of cultural creativity untethered to the Putin regime. At a time when Russia-West travel and trade are diminishing, the diaspora will serve as an economic bridge between Russians and the non-Russian world. It will generate discussion and debate that will trickle into Russia through family and friends and through social media. It will embody a Russia that is not equivalent to the strategies and the statements of Putin. – Foreign Affairs 


The United Nations atomic agency said Monday that Iran hasn’t offered credible answers to its probe into nuclear material found in the country and reported that Iran’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium has grown to roughly enough material for a nuclear bomb. – Wall Street Journal 

Street protests in several Iranian cities in recent weeks, sparked by the soaring costs of food and other staples, have underscored the challenges facing Iran’s government from global shortages caused by war in Ukraine and the continued imposition of Western sanctions as talks to restore a 2015 nuclear deal remain stalled. – Washington Post   

Protesters angry over a building collapse in southwestern Iran that killed at least 33 people shouted down an emissary sent by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sparking a crackdown in which riot police clubbed demonstrators and fired tear gas, according to online videos analyzed on Monday. – Associated Press 

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard seized two Greek oil tankers Friday in helicopter-launched raids in the Persian Gulf, officials said. The action appeared to be retaliation for Athens’ assistance in the U.S. seizure of crude oil from an Iranian-flagged tanker this week in the Mediterranean Sea over violating Washington’s crushing sanctions on the Islamic Republic. – Associated Press 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday condemned the “unjustified seizure” of two Greek-flagged vessels by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard last week, the State Department said. – Reuters 

The Iranian army has given some details – but not the exact location – of an underground base for its military drones, state media reported on Saturday, amid simmering tensions in the Gulf. – Reuters 

Greece has warned oil tankers and other vessels flying the country’s flag to avoid sea waters close to Iran following the seizure of two Greek-flagged oil tankers by Iranian forces last week. – Financial Times 

Five Israelis were listed as potential targets in a report by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday, as the chief of Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards vowed to avenge last week’s assassination of a top Iranian colonel. – Algemeiner  

The Iranian Fars News Agency published a list on Sunday of Israeli businessmen who it claimed have to “live in hiding” due to their being followed by Iranian and pro-Iranian security and intelligence services. – Jerusalem Post 

An Iranian spy has reportedly attempted to infiltrate the set of an Emmy-winning television series, “”Tehran, and, in another case of life imitating art, Israel’s growing, real-life sabotage campaign inside Iran seems ripped off the pages of that series’ screenplay. – New York Sun 

In two separate arenas this week — Iraq and the Palestinians territories — Iran is toiling to unite Arabs behind a tried and true rallying cry: “We hate Israel.” A new law legislated yesterday at Baghdad makes any Iraqi contact with Israel punishable by death. “No antisemitic law this draconian exists anywhere else in the Arab world,” a shocked Iraqi-American journalist, who asked for anonymity for the obvious reason, told the Sun. – New York Sun 


The Taliban has tried to stem the flow of Afghans attempting to escape economic ruin and persecution. But, despite an official ban, the smuggling of undocumented migrants to neighboring Iran and Pakistan continues to rise with the help of Taliban border guards and officials willing to look the other way. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Chanting “Bread, work, freedom,” some two dozen women took to the streets of the Afghan capital of Kabul on May 29 to protest against the Taliban’s harsh restrictions on their rights. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Qatar has urged the west to step up its engagement with the Taliban, warning that failure to do so would risk Afghanistan falling into deeper chaos and a rise in extremism. – Financial Times 

Lynne O’Donnell writes: Al Qaeda is a godfather to terrorists who want to overthrow governments from China to Nigeria and from Kashmir to Yemen. Yet an official U.S. assessment of the jihadis threat emanating from Afghanistan downplays the role of al Qaeda as inspiration and mentor for Islamist groups worldwide. Part of the reason why is that U.S. President Joe Biden fell back on an apparently downgraded al Qaeda to justify the U.S.-led military withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer, which handed the country to the militant group. […]But numbers aren’t the issue. Al Qaeda’s hallmarks are seen from Pakistan to the Sahel: suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices, roadside bombings, hijackings, and complex paramilitary-style operations. – Foreign Policy 


Greek authorities say they are planning a major extension of a wall along the country’s border with Turkey and are seeking European Union financial support for the additional construction. – Associated Press 

Turkey’s president told journalists that Ankara remains committed to rooting out a Syrian Kurdish militia from northern Syria. – Associated Press 

A chief adviser to Turkey’s president told his U.S. counterpart that Turkey wanted “concrete steps” on the existence of what it calls “terrorist organisations” in Finland and Sweden before it would consider their NATO bids, the Turkish presidency said. – Reuters 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a call on Monday that he placed value on a project to create a safe sea route for exporting Ukrainian agricultural goods, his office said. – Reuters 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that Ankara is ready to take on a role in an “observation mechanism” between Moscow, Kyiv and the United Nations, if an agreement is reached in that regard. – Reuters 

Israel on Monday warned its citizens against travel to Turkey, citing Iranian threats of revenge for the assassination last week of a Revolutionary Guards colonel. – Reuters  

Syrian rebels said on Sunday they were ready to join Turkish troops in a possible new offensive threatened by Turkey against Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria to seize back largely Arab populated towns and villages held by Kurdish-led forces. – Reuters 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has discussed Ankara’s planned military operation in northern Syria and the war in Ukraine with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Erdogan’s office said Monday. – Associated Press 

Kurdish-led forces have long been a pillar of western efforts to rout Isis militants from Syria. But Turkey’s antipathy to these groups endangers not only calm in Syria but also plans for Nato expansion. – Financial Times 

Aaron Stein writes: The best pathway forward for the United States and Europe is to admit that relations with Ankara are a transactional, interest-driven affair that requires near-constant effort to manage. Given Turkey’s position within NATO, it literally gets a vote over expansion, ensuring that Ankara can extract concessions from current and future aspirants. – War on the Rocks 

Boris Zilberman writes: Until Erdogan makes permanent and verifiable changes to Turkey’s support for jihadists and terror groups, flouting of U.S. sanctions on Russian arms purchases, destabilizing actions against allies in the eastern Mediterranean, and undermining NATO unity, the United States must take a step back. To avoid a conditional approach to arms sales, economic packages, and trade deals, Erdogan should remember the adage to “show, don’t tell.” – The National Interest 


Tens of thousands of Jewish nationalists marched through Jerusalem on Sunday, including through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, as tensions flared over the contested city and left Israeli security forces on high alert for violence. – Wall Street Journal 

The Al Jazeera news network said it would refer the killing of its longtime correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh to the International Criminal Court after accusing Israeli forces of fatally shooting the Palestinian American journalist, whose death sparked global outrage. – Washington Post 

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in Israel for five days of talks with political and business leaders of the Middle Eastern country. – Associated Press 

Senior Israeli officials on Monday called for considering the designation of far-right Jewish groups as terrorist organizations, a day after some of its members chanted anti-Arab slogans and clashes erupted during an annual Jerusalem Day flag march. – Algemeiner 

A Jerusalem court handed Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu a victory against prosecutors Tuesday, rejecting a bid to amend the indictment in the most serious of the former prime minister’s three cases for which he is currently standing trial. – Arutz Sheva 

A top Chinese diplomat threatened to downgrade relations with the State of Israel and sever ties with The Jerusalem Post unless the Post deletes an interview with the Taiwanese foreign minister published on Monday. – Jerusalem Post 


At least five missiles hit a sprawling Iraqi army base hosting U.S. troops in the country’s western desert Monday, two Iraqi security officials said. – Associated Press 

The United States has strongly condemned the passage of new legislation in Iraq that criminalizes contact between Iraqi citizens and Israelis on pain of death. – Algemeiner 

Editorial: Israel is making an effort to broaden the Abraham Accords of 2020 in which diplomatic relations were established with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. A coalition against jihadist terrorism and the threats of a nearly nuclear Iran is essential. The region should not be held hostage by Palestinian whims and fancies and Iranian demands when it can only benefit from the peace and economic progress that normalization of ties with Israel would bring. – Jerusalem Post 

Emily Schrader writes: It’s no coincidence that the same week Iraq passed this outrageous bill, the UAE and Israel passed a $2.5 billion (NIS 8.3 b.) trade agreement. Instead of moving forward to a brighter future in the region, Iraq is latching on to the anti-normalization camp that will continue its descent into chaos, as we have seen with every country that refuses to recognize Israel and persecutes its Jewish communities. If Iraqi leaders cared more about their people than they did about hating Jews, we’d see a very different reality for Iraq-Israel relations, one ensuring mutual success and prosperity for both sides. – Jerusalem Post 

Lyn Julius writes: It is one thing to criminalize the Jews, quite another to do it to Iraqi society at large. To enforce the new law, the Iraqi government would have to monitor every single communication and social media post and deploy spies at every international business conference. It would be impossible to swim against a swelling pro-normalization tide and punish all offenders. It is to be hoped that this law will turn out to be so much window-dressing, designed to pay lip service to Muqtada al-Sadr’s Iranian masters. – Times of Israel 


A judge on Monday questioned disgraced auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn in Beirut, days after Lebanon received a wanted notice for him from Interpol, judicial officials said. – Associated Press 

A leading international credit ratings agency warned Friday that the results of this month’s parliamentary elections in Lebanon make it difficult for any coalition to have a governing majority, potentially complicating implementation of reforms. – Associated Press 

Lebanon’s newly elected parliament was holding its first session Tuesday, with lawmakers expected to choose the country’s longtime parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, for a seventh four-year term. His reelection is practically guaranteed, even though there are more than a dozen new lawmakers who won seats running on a reform platform. – Associated Press 

Adnan Nasser writes: Now with the election results finalized, and with Hezbollah’s political rivals gaining a slight upper hand in the parliament, there may be an opening for dialogue between Lebanon and the United States on economic assistance. Still, at the present time, a top foreign policy objective in the Biden White House is bringing all American hostages in the Middle East home safely, and Washington decision makers have frequently broken official taboos to see it through. – The National Interest 


An Egyptian court on Sunday sentenced two aged Islamist leaders to 15 years in prison for disseminating false news and inciting against state institutions. – Associated Press 

An Egyptian court sentenced former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and several prominent figures from the banned Muslim Brotherhood to lengthy jail terms on Sunday on accusations including plotting to overthrow the state. – Reuters 

Offshore from Ras al-Bar, where the Nile flows into the Mediterranean, cargo ships shimmer through the midday haze as they head west along the coast toward the blue loading-cranes on the horizon. It’s here, at the Egyptian port of Damietta, that the twin impacts of Russia’s war on Ukraine converge. – Bloomberg 

Arabian Peninsula

Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed a free-trade agreement on Tuesday, with officials from both countries saying it would boost business ties less than two years after they established formal diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal. – Wall Street Journal 

The hulking, Soviet-era cargo plane has sat for decades under the blazing sun in a remote corner of the United Arab Emirates, its four jet engines silent after years in the employ of a Russian gunrunner known as the “Merchant of Death.” – Associated Press 

Yemen’s warring parties did not reach an agreement Saturday to lift a blockade by Houthi rebels of the country’s third largest city, the United Nations said, after three days of talks in the Jordanian capital. – Associated Press 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud have held a call to discuss Saudi Arabia’s efforts to prolong a truce in Yemen, the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia tweeted on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia

Reaching a deal to normalize ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia will be “a long and cautious process”, but Israel believes it can happen, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Monday. – Reuters 

A number of senior Israeli security and political figures have visited Saudi Arabia in recent years, Israel Hayom reported Sunday morning. – Arutz Sheva 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Monday with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud amid heightened tensions with Iran. – Jerusalem Post 

Middle East & North Africa

A court in Tunisia has issued a travel ban on 34 people, including the head of the moderate Islamist Ennahdha party, all suspected of involvement in an alleged parallel security service reportedly put into place after the 2011 Tunisian revolution. – Associated Press  

Libya faces a serious security threat from foreign fighters and private military companies, especially Russia’s Wagner Group which has violated international law, U.N. experts said in a report obtained by The Associated Press. – Associated Press 

Husain Haqqani and Aparna Pande write: The West Asia Quad works because it brings together two key economies of the Middle East – Israel and the UAE – with a more assertive India and the resident external power, the United States. If the Indo-Pacific Quad is to succeed, it too will have to find complementarities among its members similar to those members of the West Asian Quad have successfully identified. – The Hill  

James M. Dorsey writes: However, in the final analysis, Middle Eastern states realize that the United States, in the words of former White House director for the Gulf, Kirsten Fontenrose, “can still easily build global coalitions when necessary, while Russia will be radioactive, more a predatory pariah than partner.” It could be altogether different if relations between the United States and China were to deteriorate to the degree they have between Washington and Moscow. That may even be more the case if the United States continues to be seen as selective and hypocritical in its adherence to human rights at home and abroad. – Algemeiner 

Korean Peninsula

A missile’s disconnected fuel hose. The frequency of military communication. Even the number of people playing volleyball near a nuclear test site. The U.S. and South Korea rely on all kinds of clues to guess at what’s going on in North Korea, one of the world’s most secretive countries. Now they are being more open about that intelligence, providing a clearer view of when Pyongyang is preparing a major weapons test. – Wall Street Journal 

The Group of Seven major economies jointly condemned on Monday North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test and called on all U.N. member states to condemn the nuclear-armed state’s actions. – Reuters 

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on two Russian banks, a North Korean company and a person it accused of supporting North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction program, increasing pressure on Pyongyang over its renewed ballistic missile launches. – Reuters 


China and the U.S. are working to finalize what would be the first face-to-face meeting between their top defense officials on the sidelines of a conference in Singapore in June amid rising tensions over Taiwan, according to people familiar with the situation. – Wall Street Journal  

The United Nations’ top human rights official offered limited criticism of China’s crackdown on predominantly Muslim minorities, saying at the end of her six-day trip to the country on Saturday that she had raised questions about its application of “counterterrorism and de-radicalization measures” but that her visit “was not an investigation.” – New York Times 

China’s foreign minister met with the leaders of Samoa on Saturday on the third stop of an island-hopping tour aimed at deepening China’s ties with Pacific nations. – Associated Press 

China on Friday criticized a speech by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken focused on relations between the world’s top two economic powers, saying the U.S. was seeking to smear Beijing’s reputation. – Associated Press 

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday urged the Pacific region not to be “too anxious” about his country’s aims after a meeting with his counterparts from 10 island nations deferred consideration of a sweeping trade and security communique. – Reuters   

A top Chinese diplomat threatened to downgrade relations with the State of Israel and sever ties with The Jerusalem Post unless the Post deletes an interview with the Taiwanese foreign minister published on Monday. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: The best way to force China to change is for Mr. Biden to create strong trade partnerships with other nations to make the United States less reliant on China. The newly announced Indo-Pacific Economic Framework lacks real substance so far and is a poor substitute for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Mr. Trump pulled out of and 11 other countries went ahead and signed. The White House should evolve from “tough on China” to being “smart on China.” That starts with rolling back at least some of the costly tariffs. – Washington Post 

Editorial: The State Department labeled Ms. Bachelet’s trip “a mistake,” which is an understatement. Heavily influenced by China, a permanent member of the Security Council, the United Nations is poorly positioned to hold the communist dictatorship accountable. That takes people such as the courageous — and necessarily anonymous — whistleblower in China who leaked the Xinjiang Police Files, and Mr. Zenz, who made sure that they would be available for all the world to see. – Washington Post 

Josh Rogin writes: Leaders in Beijing are now surely more confident than ever they can commit mass atrocities without fearing significant costs imposed by the international community. When the history books are written about the world’s failure to stop the Uyghur genocide, Bachelet’s trip will go down as one of many shameful episodes. – Washington Post 

South Asia

Police in Sri Lanka used tear gas and a water cannons Saturday to disperse demonstrators trying to approach the president’s office to demand he resign over the country’s ongoing economic crisis. – Associated Press 

India has received 34 million barrels of discounted Russian oil since Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, more than trebling the value of total imports from Russia, including other products, compared with the same period of 2021. – Reuters 

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Sunday his government was working to make the president and cabinet accountable to parliament, after weeks of street protests triggered by the country’s worst economic crisis in decades. – Reuters  

Lisa Curtis writes: But India should recognize that it would be a loser in such a system. […]But the best way for the country to protect itself is to not play into China’s and Russia’s hands. It is, instead, to exude strength—including by speaking out against Russian aggression, rather than being cowed by Moscow. And that means New Delhi should deepen its partnership with the United States, the country best positioned to help India achieve its great-power ambitions. – Foreign Affairs 


Fusako Shigenobu, co-founder of the Japanese Red Army anti-imperialist militant group, left jail on Saturday after completing a 20-year sentence, and apologized for her actions. – Washington Post 

Japan lodged a complaint Monday over a South Korean ship that was conducting a marine survey in waters near Japanese-claimed islands controlled by Seoul. – Associated Press 

China and Russia blocked the U.N. Security Council from issuing a statement Friday expressing concern at the violence and serious humanitarian situation in Myanmar and the “limited progress” on implementing a regional plan to restore peace to the strife-torn Southeast Asian nation, diplomats said Friday evening. – Associated Press  

Fiji will join the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework just days before China’s foreign minister lands in the country, giving the Biden administration a victory in its competition with Beijing over influence in the Pacific. – Financial Times  

The United States is planning on “cooperation” between its National Guard and Taiwan’s military, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, deepening security ties in the face of what Taipei’s government complains is a rising threat from China. – Reuters 

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will meet U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday at the White House, where she said she expects to discuss ongoing U.S. engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. – Reuters 

Taiwan on Monday reported the largest incursion since January by China’s air force in its air defence zone, with the island’s defence ministry saying Taiwanese fighters scrambled to warn away 30 aircraft in the latest uptick in tensions. – Reuters   

A US delegation led by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, arrived in Taipei on Monday in a previously unannounced visit, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said. – CNN 

Voicing concern about a possible Chinese invasion of his country, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu warned Israel – in an exclusive interview on Monday – from relying too heavily on China. – Jerusalem Post  

Azerbaijani forces fired at Armenian forces along the southeastern part of the border between the two countries on Saturday morning, injuring one Armenian soldier, according to the Armenian Defense Ministry. – Jerusalem Post  

Walter Russell Mead writes: The deep community of interest between the U.S. and the peoples of the Indo-Pacific is the secret weapon of American diplomacy. Even in these politically polarized times, Americans in both parties recognize the importance of the Indo-Pacific and our alliances there. For policies that strengthen America’s most critical alliances for a decisive decade, the Biden administration will both deserve and receive bipartisan support. – Wall Street Journal 

Marc L. Busch writes: Like China, Taiwan has applied to join CPTPP. Malaysia and Vietnam are not going to quit CPTPP or RCEP if Taiwan is in IPEF. Let’s stop talking about IPEF in a vacuum. The queues to join CPTPP and RCEP are long and growing. IPEF isn’t going to change that. To get attention in a region that has CPTPP and RCEP, IPEF, which doesn’t compare on binding commitments, really has only one card to play: Let Taiwan in. – The Hill 

Riley Walters writes: Second, Taiwan is an important part of the global supply chain. Taiwan is one of the few countries with the capability to manufacture some of the most advanced semiconductors, so the U.S. should strengthen its partnership with Taiwan and, working with other partners in Asia, make sure these technologies don’t fall into the wrong hands. – The Hill 

John Schaus writes: The current U.S. policy regarding Taiwan is, well, long-standing. It was crafted in an era when China’s GDP amounted to 6 percent of U.S. GDP, the Soviet Union was the greatest threat to the United States and its allies, and China’s only military advantage lay in sheer numbers rather than any plausible set of capabilities. […]President Biden’s recurrent formulation seems a modest shift aiming to signal both continuity with past practice and the clarity of U.S. resolve. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Daniel F. Runde and Bridi Rice write: Second, the United States should be creative and collaborative in its approach. In addition to supporting and enhancing Australia’s efforts, U.S. officials ought to lean on the expertise of other bilateral donors, such as New Zealand and Taiwan, who have long-standing interests and investments in the Pacific Island countries. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Kyiv issued fresh appeals for more weapons from Western nations, as Russia continued its push to capture cities in the east of Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelensky visited troops in the country’s second-largest city for the first time since the full-scale invasion began. – Wall Street Journal 

With Ukraine defending European values and security against a blatant Russian invasion, what obligation does the European Union and NATO have toward Ukraine? The moral answer may be obvious, as European and American governments vow support for Kyiv and are pouring money and arms into Ukraine. But the practical answers are complicated, and are dividing Europe. – New York Times 

When President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey threatened this month to block NATO membership for Finland and Sweden, Western officials were exasperated — but not shocked. – New York Times 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that next month’s summit in Madrid will be a “historic” opportunity to strengthen the alliance in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine. – Associated Press 

As most of Europe struggles to end the continent’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, one country might seem to have good reason to feel less anxious than most: nuclear-friendly France. – Financial Times 

Israel’s defense minister voiced interest in increased military sales to Europe against the backdrop of the Ukraine-Russia war, but declined to expand on the possibility of a German purchase of Israeli missile interceptors. – Reuters 

Belarus will conduct military mobilization exercises in June and July in the Gomel region, state news agency BelTA reported on Monday. – Reuters 

The public prosecutor in the French city of Lyon announced on Friday that he would examine whether the brutal killing on an elderly Jewish man was motivated by antisemitism, one week after local police dismissed the possibility in their own investigation. – Algemeiner 

Hundreds of Israel Defense Forces soldiers, including special forces, headed to Cyprus on Sunday to participate in the final week of a major month-long exercise, simulating war against the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group. – Jerusalem Post 

A court in Düsseldorf has handed out prison sentences to three founding members of a right wing extremist group known as “Goyim Party.” The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court found the men, 38, 39 and 61 guilty of creating a criminal organization and incitement for publishing antisemitic propaganda online, a court spokesperson said. – Arutz Sheva 

As Poland is accelerating a number of acquisitions amid Russia’s invasion of its neighbor Ukraine, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak announced he has signed a letter of request to buy about 500 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, from the United States. – Defense News 

Finland’s top diplomat said the country hasn’t seen an uptick in Russian aggression since it decided to join NATO, but suggested the US should assist in Finland’s ability to “react rapidly” in the event its much larger neighbor does take malevolent action. – Breaking Defense 

Editorial: Having shown Germany can take the first budgetary step, now Berlin will need to take the next, and the step after that. The threat from Russia, and elsewhere, won’t end once the war in Ukraine does. – Wall Street Journal  

Gideon Rachman writes: The prospect of a prolonged war is horrifying. But until the Russian government abandons its goal of conquering new territory in Ukraine, there can be no prospect of real peace talks. That may only be possible when Putin’s troops run out of equipment and his government runs out of money. – Financial Times 

Tom McTague writes: This choice will be important not simply because it will point to which powers are ascendant and which priorities will be placed foremost within the alliance. Each prior leader of NATO has imposed their will on the organization, and so the background and character of the next secretary-general will have a significant impact on NATO’s future. Stoltenberg is no exception. – The Atlantic 

Aylin Matlé writes: Working towards the establishment of a strategic debate and culture and counting on Berlin’s closest allies and partners to measure deeds against the “sea change” rhetoric offer a way forward. With these safeguards, it is more likely that Germany will not stumble into a post-2014 scenario in which the country misses the opportunity to coherently and sustainably assume more responsibility in the realm of security and defense — for itself as much as for European and transatlantic security. – War on the Rocks 

Joergen Oerstroem Moeller writes: This is why he calls for negotiations instead of just pursuing the war. He is walking a tightrope to rally the people behind him to pursue the war while searching for negotiations. The United States and Europe should do their utmost to keep his options open. It is not about what they want; it is about the future of Ukraine after the conflict has ended. For better or worse, Russia, with or without Putin, will still be its neighbor. – The National Interest 


Senegal President Macky Sall, who chairs the Africa Union organisation, on Sunday called for dialogue between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda as tensions escalate between the two countries over a resurgence of the M23 rebel group. – Reuters 

Sudanese authorities freed several dozen political detainees on Monday though others remain jailed, a lawyers’ group said, a day after Sudan’s military ruler announced the lifting of the state of emergency imposed after an October coup. – Reuters 

Suspected Islamist militants killed 15 civilians in an attack on a village in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, a human rights group and local official said on Monday. – Reuters 

Somalia’s new president has applauded the return of U.S. troops to help fight a deadly insurgency and says delivering security depends on reconciliation with other Somali leaders, after a power battle splintered the security forces into rival factions. – Reuters 

Democratic Republic of Congo has summoned Rwanda’s ambassador and suspended RwandAir flights to Congo in response to what it says is Kigali’s support for M23 rebels carrying out a military offensive in its eastern borderlands. – Reuters 

The biggest convoy of aid since Ethiopia’s government declared a unilateral “humanitarian cease-fire” in the country’s long-encircled Tigray region two months ago has departed for Tigray, a U.N. official told The Associated Press, as the conflict gripping Africa’s second most populous nation continued to ease. – Associated Press

Rising demand for coal should be a boon for South Africa’s miners but many cannot take advantage of Europe’s search for alternatives to Russian fuel because of the parlous state of the country’s infrastructure. – Financial Times  

As Sudan’s relations with Israel remain in limbo following a military coup in the East African nation last year, the State Department is urging Israel not to proceed with normalization until a civilian-led government is restored in Sudan. – Jewish Insider 

Around 100 people have died in clashes between gold miners in northern Chad, Defence Minister General Daoud Yaya Brahim said on Monday. – Agence France-Presse 

Cameron Hudson writes: Sudan’s transition needs a hard reset. Without one, it will return to its recent past as a pariah state—isolated, impoverished, and a threat to the region. […]Instead, for the military to take notice and for a genuine transition to civilian rule to restart, Washington should focus on consequential steps that strike at the heart of the military’s fundamental interests. Anything less will be seen as a hollow threat that the government can simply outlast. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Joseph Siegle and Jeffrey Smith write: As Africans grapple with the more present and disastrous aftershocks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is important to recognize the threat this form of authoritarian expansion will have on the continent if it is normalized. History shows us that impunity is contagious. And apathy in the face of imminent threat is foolhardy. The clear threats emanating from Putin’s worldview defy the principles that are central to an international order that both the U.N. and AU helped foster. – Foreign Policy 

Latin America

Gustavo Petro, a 62-year-old leftist former guerrilla, took the most votes in Sunday’s first round of the presidential election by pledging to insert the state into Colombia’s market economy, heavily tax the rich and move the country away from its dependence on oil and coal. – Wall Street Journal 

Mr. Gutiérrez, a civil engineer, was born into a middle class family in the country’s coffee-growing region and gained political prominence as the widely popular mayor of Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city and a conservative stronghold. – New York Times 

A bloc of leftist countries meeting in Havana on Friday condemned the exclusion of certain nations from next month’s Summit of the Americas, after the United States said it only wanted leaders of governments that respect democracy to attend. – Reuters 

Editorial: Colombians appear to have given themselves a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, but Mr. Petro’s ties to Cuba and the Latin left make him the much bigger risk. – Wall Street Journal  

Daniel F. Runde writes: The U.S. partnership with Colombia has been one of the best between any two countries in the last 20 years. Rather than risk losing the mutual benefits of decades of collaboration, we should try to engage Petro and his team if he wins. – The Hill 

North America

Canada on Monday introduced new gun-control legislation that, if passed, would implement a “national freeze” on buying, importing, transferring and selling handguns, effectively capping the number of such weapons already in the country. – Washington Post  

The United States needs do more to control the illegal flow of weapons to The Bahamas, the country’s prime minister said on Monday, amid growing concern about gun violence and homicides in the Caribbean nation. – Reuters 

Zachary Karabell writes: It’s rarely wise to take on two adversaries at once. Mr. Biden should find new ways to work with China, rather than trying to coerce it to be different. He should take bold steps to tone down the rhetoric, such as lifting Trump-era tariffs on Chinese goods in return for Beijing’s reduced support for Putin. Otherwise, he will miss an opportunity to be a savvy, strategic president rather than one who fights with China at every turn. – New York Times 

Gil Troy writes: Tlaib’s Nakba Nihilism is trying to undo 75 years of history and ultimately eliminate the only democratic state in the Middle East — the Jewish democratic state of Israel. […]But toxic, bloodthirsty rhetoric, with even minority Congressional approval, fuels and deludes Palestinian killers and extremists, helping them believe their maximalist calls and homicidal attacks make a difference abroad, even in democratic America. Beware. Perhaps in the United States, only guns kill people. In the cauldron of the Middle East, calls to kill people help kill people too. – Algemeiner 


Brazil’s airport authority Infraero said Friday it has notified the Federal Police over an apparent hack into electronic displays at an airport in Rio de Janeiro. Instead of advertisements and flight information, travelers were shown pornographic movies. – Associated Press 

A dangerous new malware that targets Android devices has been uncovered by cybersecurity experts. – New York Post 

Russian cybercrime forums are teeming with the network credentials and virtual private network accesses of employees from U.S. colleges and universities, according to a new alert from the FBI. – The Record 

A Brooklyn resident was sentenced to four years in federal prison this week after pleading guilty to being an integral member of the Infraud Organization, a cybercrime cartel that stole over four million credit and debit card numbers and cost victims more than $568 million dollars. – The Record 

The Space Force’s Delta 6, responsible for protecting US military satellites from cyberattack, is adding four more squadrons — with the aim of providing each service mission area its own cyber group, Delta 6 Commander Col. Roy Rockwell said. – Breaking Defense 

The Senate confirmed a new deputy for U.S. Cyber Command, which guards Department of Defense information networks and coordinates cyberspace operations. – Military Times 

Dina Aldanova writes: Although Putin’s intentions are far from clear, his decision to pursue a cyberattack on the United States’ critical infrastructure that would instantly shut down electricity or disrupt clean water supply, the offense might come unexpectedly, and soon. – The National Interest 


NASA has reportedly confirmed it will officially join the hunt for UFOs after a groundbreaking UAP Congress hearing earlier this month. – New York Post 

The U.S. Army has awarded a $624.6 million contract to Raytheon Technologies to build Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to restock its own supply after sending roughly 1,400 Stingers to Ukraine to bolster the nation’s defense against the Russian invasion. – Defense News 

In the U.S. Army’s second annual aviation-focused exercise, a unit from the Netherlands digitally requested a casualty evacuation from the U.S., marking new success interoperating with foreign partners. – Defense News

Long War

A Kosovo court decided Monday to continue detaining two Albanian men who allegedly joined extremist groups in Syria. – Associated Press 

Overnight, IDF, ISA and Israel Border Police forces conducted counterterrorism activity to apprehend wanted terror suspects and confiscate terror funds in Judea and Samaria. – Arutz Sheva 

A former Irish Defence Forces soldier has been found guilty of Islamic State (IS) membership. Lisa Smith, 40, had pleaded not guilty to being a member of the group between 28 October 2015 and 1 December 2019. – BBC