Fdd's overnight brief

May 31, 2023

In The News


The United Arab Emirates has pressed the U.S. to make more muscular moves to deter Iran after the Islamic Republic’s military seized two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in recent weeks, U.S. and Gulf officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Brett McGurk, President Biden’s senior Middle East adviser, took a low-profile trip to Oman earlier this month for talks with Omani officials on possible diplomatic outreach to Iran regarding its nuclear program, according to five U.S., Israeli and European officials. – Axios

The former director of the notorious Evin prison in Tehran has accused President Ebrahim Raisi of having a direct role in executing political prisoners under the founder of Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini. – Iran International

Iran on Monday announced that it had finished testing a new hypersonic missile capable of penetrating all defense systems and that it will soon be unveiled. – Times of Israel

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday met with Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said and warned him about the “dangers” of Israel’s presence in the region, i24NEWS reported. – Arutz Sheva

Russia & Ukraine

A drone attack hit Moscow on Tuesday morning, damaging two residential buildings — the first strike on a civilian area of the Russian capital since President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago. It was almost certainly a prelude to a major escalation in hostilities. – Washington Post

After months of failed attempts to negotiate an agreement between Russia and Ukraine, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to take his case for securing Ukraine’s embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday. – New York Times

Russian nationalist commentators said Tuesday that the first mass drone attack to strike Moscow highlights the government’s inability to prepare the population for a prolonged conflict that is steadily crossing the nation’s borders. – New York Times

Ukraine and its allies are planning a summit of global leaders that would exclude Russia, aimed at garnering support for Kyiv’s terms for ending the war, according to a senior Ukrainian presidential adviser and European diplomats. – Wall Street Journal

A Kremlin-linked businessman accused of illegally exporting American military technology to Russia was arrested in Italy at the U.S.’s request. Then he vanished.  – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian shelling killed five people in a village in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, Moscow-installed officials said on Wednesday, while a drone attack caused a fire at an oil refinery in southern Russia. – Reuters

Neither Russia nor Ukraine committed to respect five principles laid out by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi on Tuesday to try to safeguard Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. – Reuters

Washington is encouraging Kyiv by publicly ignoring the drone attack that struck several districts of Moscow on Tuesday, Russia’s envoy to the United States said on Wednesday, after President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the strikes. – Reuters

Ukraine is working with major British defense company BAE Systems (BAES.L) to set up a Ukrainian base to both produce and repair weapons from tanks to artillery, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The United States is still gathering information on reports of drones striking in Moscow, the White House said on Tuesday, reiterating that Washington does not support attacks inside Russia and is focused on helping Ukraine retake its territory. – Reuters

A drone attack that targeted Moscow on Tuesday exposed glaring breaches in its air defenses and underlined the capital’s vulnerability as more Russian soil comes under fire amid expectations of a Ukrainian counteroffensive. – Associated Press

There is activity at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, but it’s not what scientists at its cutting-edge nuclear laboratory trained for. Staff at the U.S.-funded atomic research lab in northeastern Ukraine spend their days patching up the facility, which has been badly damaged by repeated Russian strikes. – Associated Press

Ukraine’s economy is showing “remarkable resilience” following Russian attacks on its electricity infrastructure, officials from the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday as they signed off on an initial loan of $900 million and raised their estimate for the country’s economic growth. – Associated Press

Vladimir Putin has vowed to retaliate against what he claimed were Ukrainian drone strikes on Moscow, which exposed Russia’s growing vulnerability to blowback from his invasion. – Financial Times

Russia’s paramilitary Wagner Group has been using Twitter and Facebook to recruit medics, drone operators and even psychologists to aid fighting operations, including in Ukraine, according to exclusive research seen by POLITICO. – Politico 

It would be easier for everybody if this were all a videogame, but a coordinated drone assault on Moscow today showed that after more than a year of exhausting war, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is spiraling into new territory — literally. – New York Sun

A full-blown NATO war with Russia is the West’s “worst-case scenario” but is possible, according to the commander of the Czech Republic’s armed forces, as the gulf between the Western world and Moscow grows wider amid the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine. – Newsweek

Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin has pushed back against claims that he could plot a military coup against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin using his mercenaries, saying that he lacks sufficient personnel to do so. – Newsweek

President Joe Biden has suggested that the U.S. could eventually supply Ukraine with a long-range missile system that Kyiv has been calling for to fight Russia’s invasion. – Newsweek

When Constantine Kalynovskyi served with the Ukrainian Armed Forces during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the combat veteran’s unit lacked equipment that has drastically changed how audiences consume war reporting in today’s full-scale invasion—surveillance drones. – Newsweek

Jon Sweet writes: Brussels and the Biden administration must act now. Given repeated nuclear threats on Russian state-controlled media, especially by Margarita Simonyan and Vladimir Solovyov, and Russian designs to unleash a “Nuclear Force Z” on Ukraine, there must no longer be any strategic ambiguity. Washington must make it publicly clear that any use by Putin of nuclear weapons or fallout would result in a swift and decisive NATO response. – Washington Examiner

Rose McDermott, Reid Pauly, and Paul Slovic write: Of course, it is impossible to precisely assess the odds that Putin will use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. But uncertainty and imprecision are not the same as ignorance. Psychological theory and evidence, backed by the history of warfare, point to a high enough risk that Western governments must plan ahead. They should weigh now their possible responses to an escalation that would come as a shock but should not come as a surprise. – Foreign Affairs

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write: But the KGB’s preferred method is brutally simple: to exploit paranoia among émigrés. The KGB spread rumors that either the close friends of a prominent emigrant were KGB agents, or that the emigrant was a KGB agent recruited years ago back in the Soviet Union. […]We can reasonably expect similar operations conducted against the present-day Russian political emigration, with two important adjustments. First, Putin has at his disposal not two but three intelligence agencies (the GRU, FSB, and the foreign intelligence service, the SVR) all of them tasked to deal with the threat posed by emigration. Second, the country’s spies are at war, and they don’t feel like they are limited in any way in their methods. – Center For European Policy Analysis

Kurt Volker writes: The West has, understandably, focused on the provision of military equipment to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian attacks. Far too little attention has been paid to the maritime domain.   Support for freedom of navigation in the Black Sea aligns with long-standing policies of the United States and other nations and principally serves economic, rather than military objectives. It would be incredibly brazen and ill-considered of Russia to attack international shipping in the open waters of the Black Sea. It is time to call Russia’s bluff and open the port of Odesa for good. – Center For European Policy Analysis


An Israeli in his 40s was shot and killed on Tuesday, in a drive-by terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Hermesh.  He arrived at the gate of his own volition and received initial medical care on the site and was transported to hospital, as the IDF began searches and setting up roadblocks.  – Ynet

A military ambulance was targeted in a shooting attack near the southern West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba late Monday night, the Israel Defense Forces said. – Times of Israel

IDF forces mapped out the house of Hassan Suliman Qatnani, one of the terrorists who carried out the April 7th shooting attack outside of the town of Hamra in the Jordan Valley in which Lucy, Maia, and Rina Dee were murdered. – Arutz Sheva

In a joint operation of the security forces in Nur Shams camp outside of Tulkarem in Samaria, two wanted suspects involved in terrorist activity were apprehended, a number of suspects were questioned and several buildings were searched in the area. – Arutz Sheva

Israel’s Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis canceled his participation in a public event in Los Angeles following a protest organized by Israelis living in southern California who oppose the Netanyahu-led government’s judicial overhaul. – Haaretz

Gidi Weitz writes: Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara’s opposition to a court mediation process for the corruption trial of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came as no surprise. She presumably had no reason to believe the proposal presented by the prime minister would lead to anything and, in any case, it didn’t include the ace she has been waiting for, namely Netanyahu’s admission of guilt, which would spell his exit from political life. – Haaretz


Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday urged Turkey to take immediate action on Sweden’s bid to join NATO, saying there was no reason for further delay in bolstering the trans-Atlantic alliance at a time of profound tension with Russia. – Washington Post

Ten years ago, Emine Kilic was focused on raising her two children at home in Istanbul when she decided to set up her own clothing company to help support her family. […]To beat back the most serious political threat to his two-decade tenure as Turkey’s dominant politician, Mr. Erdogan counted on the fervent support of an often underappreciated constituency: conservative religious women. – New York Times

Turkey’s lira traded near a record low after briefly hitting 20.65 against the dollar early on Wednesday during low liquidity trade, extending losses after President Tayyip Erdogan won an election runoff to maintain his rule into a third decade. – Reuters

After securing a strong new mandate in a runoff presidential election, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan could temper some positions that have irritated his NATO allies. But observers predicted that the country’s longtime strongman leader is unlikely to depart from his policy of engaging with both Russia and the West. – Associated Press

Turkey’s economy is in a double bind: analysts see its current policies leading to imminent peril and the prescriptions incurring massive pain. – Agence France-Presse

Bret Stephens writes: Silly me. The Trump movement isn’t built on the prospect of winning. It’s built on a sense of belonging: of being heard and seen; of being a thorn in the side to those you sense despise you and whom you despise in turn; of submission for the sake of representation. All the rest — victory or defeat, prosperity or misery — is details. Erdogan defied expectation because he understood this. He won’t be the last populist leader to do so. – New York Times

Itamar Eichner writes: Regardless of the outcome of the Turkish presidential elections, it was unlikely that the opposition candidate would have made significant changes to the country’s relations with Israel; The focus now is on strengthening and developing these ties, with questions arising about potential visits by officials and whether an ‘Anti-Iran axis’ is taking shape – Ynet

Gulf States

The Qatari prime minister held secret talks with the supreme leader of the Taliban this month on resolving tension with the international community, a source briefed on the meeting said, signaling a new willingness by Afghanistan’s rulers to discuss ways to end their isolation. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates withdrew from a U.S.-led Middle East maritime security coalition two months ago after evaluating its security relationships, the Gulf state said early on Wednesday.- Reuters

The U.N. Security Council encouraged Iraq’s recently formed government to deliver on reforms and combat corruption in a resolution adopted unanimously Tuesday that backs the country’s ongoing fight against the Islamic State, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

Operations to salvage 1.1 million barrels of oil from a decaying tanker moored off Yemen’s coast will soon begin after a technical support ship arrived on site on Tuesday, the United Nations said. – Reuters

The Qatari prime minister held secret talks with the supreme leader of the Taliban this month on resolving tension with the international community, a source briefed on the meeting said, signaling a new willingness by Afghanistan’s rulers to discuss ways to end their isolation, according to a Reuters exclusive. – Reuters

A top Israeli official played down prospects for a U.S.-brokered diplomatic breakthrough with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, describing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government as “in a fog” on any progress in related talks between Riyadh and Washington. – Reuters 

Achieving a peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia  — the brass ring of Arab-Israeli normalization with the potential to radically change the shape of the Middle East — is potentially achievable in the short term, analysts say, but myriad obstacles remain. – Jewish Insider

Saudi Arabia and Israel remain far from reaching a deal to normalize relations, senior Israeli officials said recently, according to a report by Ha’aretz Wednesday. – Arutz Sheva

Bilal Y. Saab writes: None of the above suggests that a Saudi-Israeli normalization deal has no merit or should not be pursued for its own sake. Far from it. But it should not be predicated on a U.S.-Saudi defense pact that is unlikely to effectively upgrade U.S.-Saudi security ties. There are other, better ways to put the relationship on a more solid footing. – War on the Rocks

Paul Salem writes: The people of the Middle East certainly need a more peaceful, integrated, and cooperative region if they are to weather the socio-economic, health, and environmental challenges of the decades ahead. It is well known that war is the continuation of politics by other means; and while politics and diplomacy are a promising way forward, one should also be aware that they are often the continuation of war by other means. Regional leaders should be encouraged to use this new round of diplomacy not to paper over conflicts, but rather as a starting point to do the hard work of addressing the real long-term drivers of conflict in the region. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea said it would launch another rocket carrying a military spy satellite “as soon as possible,” after admitting Wednesday’s attempt had failed in midflight due to “serious” defects. – Washington Post

North Korea on Wednesday launched a space vehicle carrying its first military reconnaissance satellite designed to monitor the South Korean and American militaries, South Korean defense officials said, briefly triggering “false alarm” evacuation alerts in South Korea and Japan. – New York Times

North Korea’s first military satellite crashed into the Yellow Sea and failed to launch into space, Pyongyang’s state media said, a test that triggered emergency alerts in South Korea and Japan. – Wall Street Journal

Rare wailing air raid sirens and mobile phone alerts calling for evacuations rattled residents of the South Korean capital, Seoul, early on Wednesday after North Korea tried to launch what it said was a satellite. – Reuters

North Korea confirmed that its effort to launch a military spy satellite into orbit failed, and said it would try again soon, drawing condemnation from the US, Japan and South Korea.  – Bloomberg

Japanese ballistic missile defense systems are on alert after North Korea told the Japan Coast Guard it would launch a satellite in the next two weeks, USNI News learned. – USNI News


India and China have ejected each other’s journalists in recent weeks, virtually wiping out mutual media access and deepening a rift between the world’s two most populous nations. –  Wall Street Journal

Amnesty International retracted its assertion that a Uyghur scholar had gone missing after traveling to Hong Kong, saying it had spoken with him on Tuesday and he told them he hadn’t visited the city. – Wall Street Journal

China’s foreign ministry said Elon Musk told officials in Beijing that he opposes decoupling the world’s two biggest economies, in a meeting held shortly after the Tesla chief executive arrived in the country at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions with the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. military officials on Tuesday released video of what it said was a Chinese fighter jet conducting an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” near an American surveillance aircraft during an intercept over the South China Sea last week, in the latest dust-up between military forces in the region. – Washington Post

The Biden administration is searching for ways to push the world’s largest polluter to reduce carbon emissions, as superpower rivalries engulf a fragile bilateral relationship that could determine the future of global warming. – Washington Post

An absence of women among China’s top leadership is concerning, the United Nations said in a report, as it recommended China adopt statutory quotas and a gender parity system to quicken equal representation of women in government. – Reuters

Before 2019, there were few major impediments to having a Chinese company that did business in the U.S. from China. But amid escalating U.S.-Sino trade tensions, particularly after Washington slapped sanctions on telecom giant Huawei (HWT.UL), some Chinese firms began setting up headquarters overseas – moves that could help them draw less U.S. government attention. – Reuters

Prospects for a renewed high-level military dialogue between China and the U.S. remain dim, with Beijing saying their defense chiefs will not hold a bilateral meeting while both are attending a weekend security conference in Singapore. – Associated Press

The US Treasury Department is seeking engagement with China while also sharpening the economic tools needed to counter what it sees as national security challenges, according to two officials, highlighting Washington’s dual message on its top competitor. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: That Twitter-Weibo contradiction is a metaphor for the central challenge to Sino-U.S. relations. Far from being “intertwined and inseparable,” this cuts to the inherent separability of the U.S. and China on matters of freedom. The contest of that separability will shape the 21st-century political order in favor of either free peoples or the Communist Party’s feudal autocracy. Playing down these distinctions in furtherance of Beijing’s propaganda narrative, Musk undermines everything he claims Twitter stands for. Indeed, Musk’s go-for-broke innovation mentality could hardly be more different from Xi Jinping’s go-broke-to-maintain-control innovation mentality. – Washington Examiner

Joshua Eisenman writes: However, Beijing may soon face a critical foreign-policy choice—one that will reverberate for decades to come. If Ukraine’s long-anticipated counteroffensive decisively shifts the contours of the conflict, China will need to decide whether its “no limits” partnership with Russia is still worth the cost, or if it would be better served to dial back its support for Moscow in an effort to resuscitate its relations with European capitals. – Foreign Policy 

Bill Drexel and Hannah Kelley write: But from Chernobyl to COVID, history shows that the most acute risks of catastrophe stem from authoritarian states, which are far more prone to systemic missteps that exacerbate an initial mistake or accident. China’s blithe attitude toward technological risk, the government’s reckless ambition, and Beijing’s crisis mismanagement are all on a collision course with the escalating dangers of AI. – Foreign Affairs

Ho Ting Hung writes: Nonetheless, the United States no longer has the hegemony it had during the Cold War. It relies on its regional partners to maintain effective regional security. If China is able to promote engagement with Indo-Pacific countries through the Global Security Initiative, it might be able to build closer cooperative ties with other states to weaken the influence of the United States’ coalition and prevent the Malacca Dilemma. This will embolden China’s ambition of expansion in the Indo-Pacific area and enhance its national security. – The National Interest

Evan N. Resnick and Hannah Elyse Sworn write: This does not mean that China alone can’t pose a challenge to Washington, just as Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union did. Still, the good news for U.S. policymakers is that the American alliance network collectively holds an enduring power advantage over a virtually isolated People’s Republic of China. Recognizing this can help inoculate U.S. policy against threat inflation and avoid the much-discussed Thucydides trap. – War on the Rocks

South Asia

Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal will seek a long-term deal to export hydroelectric power and the opening of new air routes through India during his visit to New Delhi beginning on Wednesday, officials said. – Reuters

A prominent Pakistani television journalist who went missing last week, apparently because of his public support to former Prime Minister Imran Khan, returned home early Tuesday after being released by his captors, his family and his employer said. – Associated Press

Vinay Kaura writes: While the Taliban have not yet shown the traits required for recognition as a legitimate political organization responsible for governing Afghanistan, the non-recognition of their regime should not worsen the suffering of the Afghan people. India has a clear interest in a stable and well-governed Afghanistan, not least to prevent spillover into Kashmir. For now, India’s policy toward Afghanistan remains focused on building pragmatic, if not cooperative, relations with the Taliban. India is engaging the regime on its own terms and continues to highlight its commitment to Afghanistan’s ethnic minorities and women. India is equally careful that its interactions should not be viewed as a diplomatic embrace of the Taliban or its acceptance of their repugnant governance model. – Middle East Institute


Bi-khim Hsiao, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States, said Tuesday that Ukraine’s success in defending itself against Russia’s invasion, with the help of the United States and other nations, is important for deterring China from trying to invade Taiwan, a democratic island that the Chinese government considers part of its territory. – New York Times

South Korean and Pacific Islands leaders agreed to strengthen development and security cooperation after a two-day summit where Seoul said it would double development assistance by 2027. – Reuters

New Zealand companies will start to benefit from the country’s new free trade agreement (FTA) with the United Kingdom with the pact now in force, the government said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US said the lack of a double taxation treaty is “unfair” and discouraging investment from Taiwanese semiconductor firms, while adding she hopes recent trade talks lead to a deeper deal between the two governments.  – Bloomberg

Papua New Guinean Prime Minister James Marape said a proposed security treaty with Australia has been delayed over “certain wordings and provisions,” a week after the strategically important South Pacific Island nation signed a new security pact with the United States that sparked protests. – Associated Press

The U.S. government warned that allegations of war crimes against Australian soldiers in Afghanistan could prevent U.S. forces from working with Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment, Australia’s defense force chief said on Wednesday. – Associated Press

Lauly Li and Cheng Ting-Fang write: “We’re often very puzzled after wrapping up those meetings. We really want to escape them,” an executive close to Foxconn said. “Apple wants the price of components to go into their Indian-assembled iPhones to be the same as in China . . . but how is that going to be possible? You’ll need to hire new people, you may need to build a new factory, or at least ship components from abroad. And then you’ll have additional logistics costs.” Decoupling from China will not be cheap, but severing ties with Taiwan will come at an even higher price. Will anyone be prepared to pay for it? – Financial Times

David Fickling writes: There’s a lesson here for nuclear advocates, too. It’s common now for supporters of an enhanced role for nuclear energy to dismiss the safety regulation around atomic plants as an unnecessary and costly imposition that must be swept away, sparking a renaissance of atomic power. That’s an unrealistic and ultimately counterproductive ambition. – Bloomberg 

Alex Wong writes: For a strategy to be sustainable through multiple administrations and multiple decades, it has to strike the American people as true and faithful to our ideals. We are, at heart, a moral nation. A strategy that departs from our ideals or pays them only lip service will ultimately stumble on political resistance at home. In our long competition with China in the Indo-Pacific, we cannot afford to stumble. – Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute

Akhil Thadani and Gregory C. Allen write: While the semiconductor industry is truly global, the Indo-Pacific is its critical region. Taiwan, Japan, China, and South Korea all play pivotal roles in the Indo-Pacific and particularly the global semiconductor landscape. This paper provides an analysis of the role that the Indo-Pacific region plays in the global semiconductor industry across the various stages of the semiconductor supply chain. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


News of the sinking of the British Royal Navy warships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse by Japanese military pilots in the Pacific rippled around the world. It was Dec. 10, 1941, just days after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. – Washington Post

The alleged former Russian spy has spent the past few years bumming around the Norwegian coast, where he made friends with locals and became known for his toothy grin. He turned up last weekend in Sweden, where local authorities have welcomed him even as they figure out what to do with him. He’s also a whale. – Washington Post

Dozens of NATO peacekeepers were injured this week in northern Kosovo when they clashed with ethnic Serbs, raising fears of a larger escalation between Serbia and Kosovo. – New York Times

Troops from the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo on Wednesday placed metal fences and barbed wire barriers in a northern town following clashes with ethnic Serbs that left 30 international soldiers wounded. – Associated Press

Two allies of late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic convicted of aiding and abetting murder and other crimes committed by Serb paramilitaries in a Bosnian town in 1992 are set to hear the results of their appeal Wednesday, 20 years after they were first indicted by a United Nations court. – Associated Press

NATO will send 700 more troops to northern Kosovo to help quell violent protests after clashes with ethnic Serbs there left 30 international soldiers wounded, the alliance announced Tuesday. – Associated Press

China on Tuesday expressed its support for Serbia’s efforts to “safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity” following renewed violence between ethnic Serbs and NATO peacekeeping troops in Kosovo. – Associated Press

The United States and the European Union’s top justice official on Tuesday criticized Polish plans for a law that they say could keep political opponents from holding public office without them having the full powers to challenge the decision in court. – Associated Press

More than 40 European leaders meet in Moldova on Thursday in a show of support for the former Soviet republic and neighbouring Ukraine as Kyiv prepares to launch a counter-offensive against occupying Russian forces. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will hold talks with U.S. President Joe Biden next week when they will discuss improving economic ties and how to sustain military support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. – Reuters

Moscow is trying to destabilize Moldova, but the tiny former Soviet republic can join the European Union by 2030 alongside its breakaway Transnistria region despite the current presence of Russian troops, its president said. – Bloomberg

Western countries are increasing pressure on Turkey to admit Sweden to Nato, as Stockholm makes a final push to overcome Ankara’s opposition to its membership. – Financial Times

With just over five weeks to go until the Nato summit in Vilnius, it is time to seriously consider Sweden’s application for Nato membership. Since the organisation’s meeting last year, 29 allies have approved Sweden’s application. Turkey and Hungary remain. Sweden has entered into an agreement with Turkey in which the fight against terrorism is one of the key points. – Financial Times

Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has rejected his Belarusian counterpart’s proposal to join the Russia-Belarus “Union State,” calling the offer a “joke.” – Newsweek

Jillian Kay Melchior writes: “If the U.S. wants Europe to be united in whatever happens in the struggle with China we cannot afford ourselves to have a threat in our backyard,” says Mr. Fogiel. The war in Ukraine is “a real opportunity to contain, to defeat Russia, for a very small percent of our defense budget, with no American presence on the ground.” For the U.S., in short, it’s “a bargain.” For Poland, it’s an urgent necessity. – Wall Street Journal


Uganda on Tuesday condemned the Western response to the East African country’s new anti-LGBTQ law, considered one of the harshest in the world, and said sanctions threats from donors amounted to “blackmail”. – Reuters

The Russian and Chinese foreign ministers are expected to meet with their counterparts from the BRICS economic bloc in Cape Town on Thursday, a precursor to a larger summit of developing nations’ leaders in South Africa in August that Russian President Vladimir Putin may attend while under indictment by the International Criminal Court. – Associated Press

For the first time since fleeing South Sudan’s civil war eight years ago, Jacob Wani returned home excited to rebuild his life. But when the 45-year-old farmer tried to access his land in Eastern Equatoria state’s Magwi County, he was banned, told that it had been labeled hazardous and contaminated with mines. – Associated Press

South Africa’s leading opposition party said on Tuesday it had taken legal action to force the government to arrest Vladimir Putin if the Russian President were to attend a planned summit in the country. – Agence France-Presse

Burkina Faso’s prime minister on Tuesday ruled out negotiations with jihadist insurgents who control swathes of the country, while suggesting that security risks could delay the country’s return to civilian rule. – Agence France-Presse

The International Criminal Court’s penchant for shooting blanks is about to be tested by South Africa, as Pretoria indicates it plans to fete President Putin with accolades this summer rather than arrest him. – New York Sun

Latin America

Four years ago, virtually all of Latin America lined up against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. When he claimed victory in a 2018 election widely viewed as fraudulent, most of the region’s nations, goaded by Washington, called for his removal. – Washington Post

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on 17 people and entities based in China and Mexico who it accused of enabling production of counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills, as the Biden administration seeks to stem imports of the deadly drug. – Reuters

Divergent views on Venezuela surfaced during a South American leaders’ summit on Tuesday hosted by Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as part of his efforts to unite the region’s development and give it a stronger voice internationally. – Reuters

The Brazilian president’s strong support of Venezuela’s authoritarian leader marred the unity Tuesday at a South American summit that Brazil convened in hopes of reviving a bloc of the region’s 12 politically polarized countries. – Associated Press

Venezuela’s Justice First party said the opposition-led National Assembly should have more limited access to the nation’s frozen funds abroad and called to restart political negotiations.  – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: Yet Lula’s democratic deficiencies are perhaps best measured by his disinterest in democracy in his own neighborhood. […]Lashing out at the U.S. “constructed narrative” that Maduro is an authoritarian, he called for sanctions relief on Venezuela and full cooperation between the two nations. Lula has similarly ignored major human rights abuses and anti-democratic activity by Daniel Ortega’s Nicaraguan government. – Washington Examiner

United States

Fears of military conflict and increasing security worries have some U.S. manufacturers re-evaluating their reliance on China. Executives are plotting alternate supply chains or devising products that can be made elsewhere should China’s hundreds of thousands of factories become inaccessible. That prospect became more conceivable, they said, after the 2022 invasion of Ukraine prompted companies to sever ties with Russia, sometimes taking huge write-downs. – Wall Street Journal

Legislation brokered by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to lift the $31.4 trillion U.S. debt ceiling and achieve new federal spending cuts passed an important hurdle late on Tuesday, advancing to the full House of Representatives for debate and an expected vote on passage on Wednesday. – Reuters

Kevin McCarthy and Joe Biden achieved what once looked improbable: A bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling. Now any one senator has the leverage to bring the country right to the brink of default. – Politico

Editorial: A major difference between the two political parties these days is that most Democrats favor a culture of dependency. The GOP’s task, which is popular with voters, is to rebuild a culture of work. The debt-ceiling bill starts to do that, which is one reason to support it. – Wall Street Journal

William A. Galston writes: At the heart of the response Mr. Sullivan proposed is a “modern American industrial strategy” that would invest public funds in sectors essential to economic innovation and national security—semiconductors, critical minerals and energy—as well as in traditional public goods such as infrastructure. “Our objective is not autarchy,” he said, “it’s resilience and security in our supply chains.” The point of new trade agreements is no longer tariff reduction but promoting national objectives—security, sustainable economic growth and the creation of good jobs that allow workers to support their families. – Wall Street Journal 

Joseph Bosco writes: In different ways, he and Biden both present dangers to the nation’s security. America’s enemies are salivating at another Biden-Trump contest. Most Americans want to avoid it; as of now, voters are justified in believing the worst Democrats and Republicans are saying about each other. A fresh start with their leaders will entitle them to start believing the best of what they say about themselves. The Democratic and Republican parties should put the national interest first — or third-party groups like No Labels will do it for them. – The Hill 

Danielle Pletka writes: It’s not entirely clear whether Xi is interested in Biden’s (or Sullivan’s) proffered hand. Hopes had been high at the White House that, having consolidated his unprecedented third term as Communist Party General Secretary and moved past the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi would be ready for a plateau moment—a pause in its escalations against the United States and others. And the axing of China’s lead “wolf warrior,” former Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, appeared to confirm Washington’s optimism. Alas, however, recent signals from China’s top foreign affairs official, Wang Yi, who directs the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, suggest that Beijing is less eager for a reset than Washington. – Foreign Policy

Alex Wong writes: Put another way, nuclear strategic planning is not exclusively or even mainly about preserving an ephemeral “balance,” at least not in the current environment. Strategic planning is about winning a war. Planning for that war is—perhaps ironically—the only way to achieve a balance that staves off conflict, discourages coercion, and maintains a prosperous and enduring peace. – Hudson Institute


When an image showing what looked to be a bombing at the Pentagon started to spread online last week, the stock market dipped momentarily. Kayla Tausche, who covers the White House for CNBC, quickly started fact checking. Popping into Lower Press — the cluster of desks and offices behind the briefing room where many press aides work — she found principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton and asked about the reports. – Politico

U.S. diplomatic efforts around the globe would suffer if Congress fails to renew a foreign surveillance tool before it lapses at the end of the calendar year, the head of the State Department’s intelligence branch warned Tuesday. – The Record

A controversial surveillance authority played a vital role in State Department’s ability to learn about and warn international partners and U.S. businesses about North Korea’s efforts to commit digital fraud to fund its nuclear program, a senior state department official said Tuesday. – CyberScoop

The Pentagon has sent its new classified cyber strategy, which has been informed by lessons learned from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and supersedes the department’s 2018 iteration, to Congress. – Breaking Defense

Rep. Mark Green writes: If the CCP has access to Americans’ private data through TikTok, Congress must know about it. My advice is to delete TikTok from your devices, and your children’s devices, as soon as possible. If stealing your family’s data isn’t enough of a threat, the data of service members, government workers, and first responders in your contacts should be. – Washington Examiner

Pablo Chavez writes: The European Parliament’s approach and OpenAI’s threshold model attempt to find an appropriate balance between open and closed. Neither is perfect. But both contribute to a much-needed debate to leverage the best of open and closed systems to ensure that AI evolves in a way that benefits and doesn’t harm humanity. – Center For European Policy Analysis