Fdd's overnight brief

May 9, 2022

In The News


Leaders of the Group of 7 nations pledged during a virtual meeting on Sunday with President Volodymyr Zelensky to ban or phase out Russian oil, aiming to still further erode Russia’s economic standing as it pursues its invasion of Ukraine. – New York Times 

A Russian airstrike on a Ukrainian school that was serving as a bomb shelter for civilians has left dozens of people feared injured and dead, a Ukrainian official and several survivors said Sunday. – Washington Post 

Russian and Ukrainian forces engaged in strikes and counteroffensives over the weekend ahead of Moscow’s Monday commemoration of World War II, with Kyiv bracing for possible heavy attacks or a stepped-up mobilization effort by President Vladimir Putin. – Wall Street Journal 

As Ukraine’s forces fought to repel Russian troops from the Kyiv region, Ukrainian villagers along Highway 7 battled in their own way: calling in Ukrainian artillery strikes on a vital lifeline that Russia had mapped out for its assault on the capital. – Wall Street Journal 

As the war in Ukraine grinds through its third month, the Biden administration has tried to maintain a set of public objectives that adapt to changes on the battlefield and stress NATO unity, while making it clear that Russia will lose, even as Ukraine decides what constitutes winning. – Washington Post 

Insurance could be the next financial weapon deployed by the European Union against Russia. EU officials have proposed a ban on insuring ships that carry Russian oil, a move aimed at blocking Russia’s access to global oil markets and the revenue that has fueled its military invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia staged a dress rehearsal with jet fighters flying in “Z” formations above columns of tanks and infantry to mark the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, as President Vladimir Putin sought to cement public support for his military offensive in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

The Biden administration announced new sanctions targeting Russian state-controlled media and banking executives, a ban on Americans providing accounting and management-consulting services and new export controls targeting the country’s industrial sector. – Wall Street Journal 

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that he cannot afford to lose in Ukraine and is “doubling down” on the war, but shows no signs of planning to use tactical nuclear weapons, CIA director Bill Burns said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse 

The Russian military is struggling in Ukraine. Two months into the war, it has failed to achieve the quick victory envisioned by President Vladimir Putin and the few advisers informed of the plan. But Russia’s offensive might is composed of a lot more than just troops and weapons. Moscow’s cyberwarfare capabilities also make it a force to be reckoned with. – Business Insider 

Holman W. Jenkins Jr. writes: If Mr. Putin wants to draw NATO into the war, he knows how to do it. Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, one of the war’s three authors along with Mr. Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, made an unusual visit to the front lines last week. Presumably he went to see for himself the state of his army. – Wall Street Journal 

Daniel Twining writes: The attack on Ukraine has achieved the opposite of everything Mr. Putin intended. He’s united Ukraine, turbocharged Mr. Zelensky’s public and international standing, made Russia an international pariah, re-energized NATO, and demonstrated why Ukraine should be in NATO. Instead of cementing Mr. Putin’s status as a modern-day czar, the fumbled invasion has called into question his longevity in power. A war launched to depose Mr. Zelensky could end up deposing Mr. Putin due to rising domestic backlash in Russia. – Wall Street Journal 

Rebekah Koffler writes: Like Putin, Patrushev is a rabid anti-American propagandist, who recently accused the United States of planning to drop a nuke in Ukraine and then blame Russia for it. On Wednesday, he also blamed the West for seeking to destroy Russia. There’s an old Russian saying. Literally translated, it means: “Two boots make a pair.” And Putin and Patrushev fit together perfectly. – New York Post 

Tom Rogan writes: Before the war in Ukraine, NATO assumed that mobile and potent Russian air defense bubbles and fighter squadrons would limit the early response to an invasion to the most advanced aircraft. Ukraine’s experience suggests many more NATO aircraft could operate with acceptable risk closer to Russian air defense and air assets than previously believed. – Washington Examiner 

Edward Lucas writes: The state propaganda machine masks the problems with bombast and Stalinist nostalgia (news just in: we need another Beria). The central message is a contradictory cocktail of national self-esteem and righteous victimhood. Russia is unbeatable, yet also greatly threatened. It is not just young Russian men who are conscripted. Ideas are called up too: history, geography, and economics are glumly polishing their boots and learning how to march. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Mike Watson and Timothy Walton write: Russia’s inability to adequately resupply its forces in Ukraine has been an embarrassment. For the United States, losing a potential war with China for the same reason would be a catastrophe. – The Hill 

Margarita Konaev and Polina Beliakova write: Nor is a rapid, decisive result likely once politics are taken into account. The Ukrainians are empowered by their successful repelling of Russia’s offensive on Kyiv and outraged by the evidence of heinous war crimes against ordinary civilians. They have little incentive to accept a cease-fire that eats at their territory. At the same time, Putin is unlikely to settle for a stalemated fight with limited control beyond the already disputed parts of eastern Ukraine as the outcome of a war that promised so much more and has already cost the Russian military so dearly. – Foreign Affairs 

Dennis Ross writes: We must prevent Putin’s rules—by which stronger states dictate to their weaker neighbors, and civilian populations are the target of choice—from defining our collective international future. We need to build a broad coalition of states that share that goal—a goal that reflects our values, and not just our interests. – The Atlantic 


The European Union’s Iran nuclear talks coordinator Enrique Mora is to visit Tehran on Tuesday, the semi-official agency Nour News reported on Saturday, as the bloc said it was seeking to break a deadlock and save the 2015 accord. – Reuters 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited his closest regional ally Iran on Sunday for talks with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during which both leaders called for stronger ties between Tehran and Damascus, Iranian state media reported. – Reuters 

Qatar’s Emir will visit Iran soon, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh confirmed on Monday during a news conference. – Reuters 

Sweden said Friday that one of its citizens travelling as a tourist has been detained in Iran, in the latest incident to worsen relations between the two countries. – Associated Press 

Human rights groups on Friday warned Tehran will try to use an upcoming visit to Iran by a UN expert in order to avoid accountability. Alena Douhan, the special rapporteur focused on the impact of unilateral sanctions, is due to begin a visit to Iran from Saturday, the United Nations has said. – Agence France-Presse 

Donald Trump wanted to strike a senior Iranian military commander in August 2020, several months before the US presidential election, his former secretary of defense has claimed in a new book. – Times of Israel 

An Iranian man has denied reports he was involved in an attempt to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in Turkey and two other individuals, saying he was tortured and forced into a false confession. – Times of Israel 

Gregg Roman writes: When Iran wants to get a message across in the past, it has employed commentators and NGOs to argue its case, whether on the JCPOA or other issues. The article by Golan and Freilich is an aberration in the almost unanimous objection to the removal of the IRGC from the FTO list. Their connection to an organization which has in the past knowingly and unrepentantly accepted lobbyist money from Qatar, a close ally of Iran, is unacceptable. – Arutz Sheva 

Stephen Harper writes: A nuclear armed Iran, with its apocalyptic vision, would be nothing short of catastrophic for its regional neighbours and global security, including the interests of North America.  We must be pragmatic and strategic about deepening cooperation with those who have an existential stake in containing the dangerous theocrats in Tehran. The breakdown of the JCPOA talks in Vienna is not a tragedy. It is an opportunity for the West to learn from its mistakes and choose a more rational path forward. – National Post 


Now that war is over. People can travel freely down highways devoid of gunfire, roadside bombs and attempts at extortion. The terrifying drone of warplanes overhead is long gone. But for many, the holiday that began last Sunday in Afghanistan served as a reminder of the dissonance between the promise of peace many Afghans had imagined and the realities of the end of the war. – New York Times 

The Taliban government decreed Saturday that Afghan women must cover themselves from head to toe, expanding a series of onerous restrictions on women that dictate nearly every aspect of public life. – New York Times 

The decree by the Taliban’s hardline leader Hibaitullah Akhunzada even suggested women shouldn’t leave their homes unless necessary and outlines a series of punishments for male relatives of women violating the code. – Associated Press 

Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government says it is investigating reports that rockets have been fired into Tajikistan from Afghan territory. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has demanded that Taliban authorities immediately release Afghan journalist Khalid Qaderi and end arrests and prosecutions of members of the press for their work. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Editorial: We are currently watching a heroic scramble of Poland and other neighbors of Ukraine to make room, if only temporarily, for refugees from Ukraine — and millions of them. How is it possible that our own political leadership cannot step up in respect of the Afghans who stood with, and worked with and sometimes fought with us during the war against the Taliban? It’s time, in our view,  to break the cone of silence. – New York Sun 


Russia has begun the process of withdrawing some of its troops in Syria to help bolster its forces in Ukraine, the Moscow Times reported. According to the Friday report in the independent, Dutch-based paper, several military units have been relocated from bases across the country to three unnamed Mediterranean airports, from where they will be transferred to Ukraine. – Times of Israel 

The Syrian news agency Sana reported on Saturday, that an airstrike was carried out against targets in the Deir ez-Zor area in the east of the country, but did not attribute the attack to Israel. – Ynet 

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, postponed a visit planned for Monday to the Syria-Turkey border, but she will still travel to Brussels, Belgium, next week for a European Union conference on the future of Syria, the US Mission to the United Nations said on Saturday. – CNN 

Aid agencies are hoping to draw some of the world’s attention back to Syria in a two-day donor conference for humanitarian aid to Syrians that begins Monday in Brussels, hosted by the U.N. and the European Union. The funding also goes toward aid to the 5.7 million Syrian refugees living in neighboring countries, particularly Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. – Associated Press 


Bobby Ghosh writes: But can Turkey maintain these improved relations? The architect of the old “Zero Problems” policy, then-foreign minister (and later prime minister) Ahmet Davutoglu, has long since broken with Erdogan and is now in the opposition. The current foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, has neither the international stature of his predecessor nor his strength within the Ankara ruling elite. He will be keeping his fingers crossed that his boss doesn’t bring out the flame-thrower again. – Bloomberg 

Ofra Bengio writes: Even more remarkable is Erdogan’s U-turn toward Israel. Interestingly, unlike in the past, this time it is Turkey that is courting Israel and it is Erdogan who is signaling and personally leading the change through his speeches and different amicable gestures. This is the same Erdogan who used to lash out at Israel for domestic ideological and political goals, who is now speaking about the important strategic relations with it. – Jerusalem Post 

Laura Pitel writes: It is no coincidence that the fears over refugees are mounting against the backdrop of a troubled economy. Inflation in Turkey reached an official rate of 70 per cent in April. The forthcoming elections have added to the charged atmosphere — and refugees have presented an easy target for politicians jostling for votes. – Financial Times 


Israeli security forces captured two Palestinians on Sunday who were suspected of perpetrating an ax attack that killed three Israeli Jews in the central town of Elad on Thursday night. Their arrests ended an intensive search but left Israel’s fragile government grappling with how to combat the recent surge in terrorist attacks. – New York Times 

Jared Kushner’s new private-equity fund plans to invest millions of dollars of Saudi Arabia’s money in Israeli startups, according to people familiar with the investment plan, in a sign of warming ties between two historic rivals. – Wall Street Journal 

A terror attack was thwarted in the Tekoa settlement when a resident of the community killed a Palestinian armed with a knife at the doorway of his home. “There were no casualties in the incident and the army conducting searches in the community,” a spokesperson for Tekoa said, adding that the community was still in lockdown. – Jerusalem Post 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had intended to advance plans for a larger number of settler homes, but reduced that number to 3,988 units to appease the United States and coalition members, a senior diplomatic source told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post 

Amidst the grief that many Israelis feel for the recent terror attack in Elad, antisemites on social media and the leaders of terrorist organizations praised the Palestinians who carried out the attack. Palestinian media outlet Gaza Now News tweeted shortly after the attack, while also posting a graphic photo of blood spilled by one of the victims. – Jerusalem Post 

The Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen is celebrating Thursday’s terror attack in Elad, which they praised it as an operation “in the heart of the Zionist regime,” Iranian news media quoted the Houthi statement as saying. – Jerusalem Post 

The Israeli military said Sunday that troops were operating in the West Bank town of Rummanah, the hometown of two Palestinians suspected of carrying out a deadly terror attack late last week, in order to map out their residences ahead of a potential demolition. – Times of Israel 

Israel is considering responding to the ongoing wave of deadly terror attacks by launching a military operation in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, with a focus on the city of Jenin, according to Hebrew media reports Sunday. – Times of Israel 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday refuted a claim by the widow of one of the victims in the deadly terror attack in Elad last week, who said she refused to let him make a condolence call with camera crews. – Times of Israel 

Israel announced late Sunday that it would end the closure on crossings with the West Bank, but the main passage from the Gaza Strip would remain shut “until further notice.” – Times of Israel 

Anna Ahronheim writes: Israel cannot avoid conflict at any price as that would also encourage attacks. But somehow, Sinwar and Deif must be made to feel the consequences of their continued incitement. The Jewish state cannot allow itself to look weak vis-a-vis Hamas. Israel has to take the fight away from the home front and back into the court of the terrorists. – Jerusalem Post 

Nadav Eyal writes: Some of these attacks were carried out by lone wolf actors, posing a new and especially difficult challenge for security and intelligence agencies, which are struggling to prevent them. Punishing Gaza for those attacks would only increase the chances of violence spreading to the West Bank and inside Israel. There have been consistent calls to launch a wide-scale military operation in Gaza over the past two years, but such a move must come with clear objectives, and those are not on the horizon at present. – Ynet 

Herb Keinon writes: Neither of those steps is overly dramatic or likely to yield immediate results. But they are additional bricks in the wall against terror that Israel has been constructing – not without considerable success, but unfortunately never impenetrable – even before the Arab riots of the summer of 1936. Targeting Sinwar, a terrorist who continuously incites toward the murder of Jews, would be dramatic and would satisfy an urge for vengeance – and, some argue, even an urge for justice. But it is questionable what such targeting would permanently add to that wall against terror. – Jerusalem Post 


Iraqi policeman Jundi Khodr Kalo was among thousands of Yazidis again forced to flee their homes this month, after fierce clashes between the army and local fighters in their Sinjar heartland. – Times of Israel 

Iraq’s Ministry of Defence signed contracts with the United States and France to import advanced weapons and strengthen artillery, the state news agency (INA) reported on Sunday citing a senior military commander. – Reuters 

Iraq said it will start implementing a court ruling that gives the federal oil ministry oversight of Kurdish production after failed talks with officials from the semi-autonomous region. – Bloomberg 


Lebanon holds an election on May 15 that could see a shift of power that sends shockwaves far beyond this small country squeezed between Syria and Israel. – Reuters 

The stakes are high in Lebanon’s election. The heavily armed Hezbollah movement has seen one of its main rivals descend into disarray, handing it an opportunity to cement power over a divided country that’s sinking into poverty. – Reuters 

Areas traditionally dominated by Hizbollah, such as the southern city of Nabatiyeh where Mona lives, are among the hardest hit. Yet most experts expect Hizbollah and its allies to hold on to their parliamentary majority in this month’s general election, the first since the collapse of the economy in 2019, subsequent anti-corruption protests and a devastating port blast in 2020 that wrecked swaths of the capital, Beirut, killing 215 people – Financial Times 

Middle East & North Africa

At least 11 Egyptian troops, including an officer, were killed Saturday in a militant attack that targeted a water-pumping station east of the Suez Canal, the military said. – Associated Press 

Jordan on Friday issued a warning against a planned eviction of 1,300 Palestinians living in eight villages in the South Hebron Hills, as well as plans to approve the construction of nearly 4,000 settlement homes in other areas of the West Bank. – Times of Israel 

Clashes at a militia facility in southern Yemen following the arrest of a group of suspected al-Qaida militants has killed at least a dozen people, including two force commanders, officials said. – Associated Press 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea launched a suspected submarine-launched ballistic missile off its east coast on Saturday, officials in Seoul and Tokyo said, just three days before South Korea’s new president takes office. – Wall Street Journal 

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) chief Park Jie-won said on Saturday that North Korea may conduct a nuclear test between South Korean president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s inauguration on Tuesday and U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Seoul later this month, Yonhap news agency reported. – Reuters 

The United States assesses that North Korea is preparing its Punggye-ri nuclear test site and could be ready to conduct a test there as early as this month, State Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said on Friday. – Reuters 

During his election campaign, South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol had tough words for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he would teach his rival some manners and sternly deal with his provocative missile tests with a strengthened alliance with the United States. – Associated Press 

Manseok Lee writes: Pessimists, for example, warn that North Korea is “working on a program which will one day make conquest possible—conquest of the South.” There is always a positive probability greater than zero that this will occur, although such a scenario is unlikely to happen as long as the U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) military alliance serves to deter North Korea’s provocations. Indeed, any North Korean invasion would trigger devastating joint retaliation on the part of the alliance, especially given the substantial U.S. civilian and military presence in South Korea. – The National Interest 

Bruce Klinger writes: More worrisome, however, is the possibility that Pyongyang could inflict even greater damage during a crisis or hostilities on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea could paralyze critical infrastructure systems such as communications, dams, electrical grids, hospitals, nuclear power plants, supply chains, and traffic-control systems. North Korean hackers have targeted railroad companies and airlines, including an automated operating system that controls trains’ speed. Hackers have already jammed airline GPS signals and might seek to gain control of airplane controls. – The National Interest 


Hong Kong’s top security official won election Sunday to become the city’s new chief executive, after running unopposed, in the latest sign of Beijing’s tightened control over Hong Kong even as its future as an international business hub remains uncertain. – Washington Post 

Chinese tech companies are quietly pulling back from doing business in Russia under pressure from U.S. sanctions and suppliers, despite calls by Beijing for companies to resist overseas coercion. – Wall Street Journal 

Congress may soon require government agencies to vet tech startups seeking federal funding, after a Defense Department study found China is exploiting a popular program that funds innovation among small American companies. – Wall Street Journal 

The European Union’s foreign policy chief on Sunday said the anointment of a former security chief as Hong Kong’s new leader violated democratic norms. John Lee, 64, who oversaw the crackdown on Hong Kong’s democracy movement, was appointed Hong Kong leader on Sunday by a small committee of Beijing loyalists. – Agence France-Presse 

China’s armed forces carried out another round of exercises near Taiwan last week to improve joint combat operations, the People’s Liberation Army said on Monday, after the Chinese-claimed island reported a spike in activity. – Reuters 

China’s foreign ministry on Friday accused Japan of exaggerating a perceived threat from Beijing as an excuse to boost its own military might, after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned the invasion of Ukraine could be replicated in East Asia. – Reuters 

The CIA’s director said Tuesday he believes China leader Xi Jinping has been “unsettled” by Russia’s difficulties in invading Ukraine, and by how the war has brought the United States and Europe closer. – Agence France-Presse 

Editorial: The U.S. government has a spotty record when it comes to combating such activity. The Trump-era “China Initiative” against economic espionage and trade-secret theft was a misguided flop and created a perception of anti-China bias. Any effort to stop transnational repression must avoid this. In a positive step, State Department human rights reports are now highlighting more cases of transnational repression. It is vital to stop this ugly byproduct of dictatorship from spreading in democratic nations that respect rule of law. – Washington Post 

Michael Cunningham writes: Not treating China’s activities as violations of sovereignty allows Beijing to export elements of its totalitarian system. It also weakens international norms by sending the message that such infractions have no consequences. It is past time for U.S. law-enforcement agencies and federal officials responsible for China policy to take seriously the threat posed by illegal Chinese police operations. – Wall Street Journal 

Matthew Reynolds and Matthew P. Goodman write: As U.S. policymakers begin to grapple with how to address China’s economic coercion, it is important to keep in mind the key characteristics of Beijing’s approach: informality, ingenuity, targeting of politically sensitive sectors—and, in many cases, ineffectiveness. On this last point, it may be wise to consider the advice of a diminutive French strategist from a bygone era of great power competition: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Aleksandra Gadzala Tirziu writes: History for Xi Jinping is, like for Vladimir Putin, crucial to maintaining power at home and advancing his objectives abroad. As Mr. Putin has demonstrated in Ukraine, these narratives can be warped to justify incursions and atrocities –– even while claiming to be a liberator. Even, still, when –– as Beijing, increasingly, is in Pakistan –– under attack. – New York Sun 

South Asia

Sri Lanka’s strongman president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has declared a state of emergency for the second time in just over a month as his government confronts large, continuing protests over a deepening economic crisis. – New York Times 

When a Chinese firm won a contract to build hybrid power plants on three Sri Lankan islands just 30 miles off India’s southeastern coast, New Delhi objected. Now, Sri Lanka has instead granted the project’s development rights to India. – Wall Street Journal 

The Israeli embassy in New Delhi has been on high alert in recent weeks amid “serious” fears of a possible terror attack by Iran-backed perpetrators, according to a report Saturday by a London-based news channel affiliated with the Iranian opposition that was picked up by Hebrew-language media. – Times of Israel 

Pakistani police say they arrested eight men of the Ahmadi sect of Islam on Saturday who had opened fire on a group of Sunni Muslims the night prior, killing one and wounding another. – Associated Press 


The Biden administration is quietly pressing the Taiwanese government to order American-made weapons that would help its small military repel a seaborne invasion by China rather than weapons designed for conventional set-piece warfare, current and former U.S. and Taiwanese officials say. – New York Times 

Millions of Filipinos are heading to the polls on Monday to choose their next president in a pivotal election that could bring the son of the country’s former dictator to power more than 3½ decades after his father’s kleptocratic regime was overthrown in a popular uprising. – Wall Street Journal 

A Fiji court has suspended the execution of a US warrant to seize a $300 million superyacht Washington claims is owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, prosecutors said. – Agence France-Presse 

Australia will work with its allies to ensure China does not set up a military base in the Solomon Islands, Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed Sunday during a heated pre-election debate. – Agence France-Presse 

Taiwan’s air force scrambled on Friday to warn away 18 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defence zone, Taiwan’s defence ministry said, part of what is a regular pattern of incursions that has angered the government in Taipei. – Reuters 

Australia’s prime minister on Sunday refused to say how his government might respond if China attempted to establish a military base less than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) off the Australian coast on the Solomon Islands. – Associated Press 

Japan will take time to phase out Russian oil imports after agreeing on a ban with other Group of Seven (G7) nations to counter Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday. – Reuters 

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is arranging his attendance at the Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security summit in Singapore on June 10-12 to foster an understanding of Japan’s defence buildup, Nikkei newspaper reported on Saturday. – Reuters 

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she met her Solomon Islands counterpart Jeremiah Manele for the first time since his government signed a controversial security pact with China, and agreed Australia remained security partner of choice. – Reuters 

Armenia’s Defense Ministry claimed on Saturday that Azerbaijani troops fired at Armenian military positions and at the Sotk gold mine in eastern Armenia, injuring one miner. – Jerusalem Post 

Three people were fatally shot when Uzbek border guards opened fire along the two countries’ shared border, Kyrgyz authorities said. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Editorial: Mr. Biden must use this summit to reinforce the message that this is not just a European issue and that the whole world — ASEAN very much included — has a lot to lose from unchecked aggression. He must do so while simultaneously telling the individual ASEAN leaders he meets the truth about their abuse of power and how the United States views it. In fact, past instances in which the United States preached democracy but practiced realpolitik have come back to haunt its current effort to rally the world behind Ukraine’s cause. – Washington Post 

Chris Horton writes: Many Taiwanese are looking at Ukraine’s current reality as something that could befall their homeland. A number of Taiwanese friends and interviewees have told me they’d stay and fight, while others have described family plans to secure citizenship elsewhere, just in case. The former commander of Taiwan’s military has called for the formation of a territorial defense force to deter China’s ambitions. – The Atlantic 


Russia’s push to give its president a showcase victory in Ukraine appeared to face a new setback on Saturday, as Ukrainian defenders pushed the invaders back toward the northeast border and away from the city of Kharkiv, with the Russians blowing up bridges behind them. – New York Times 

Beneath the chandeliers of the Elysée Palace, Emmanuel Macron was inaugurated on Saturday for a second five-year term as president of France, vowing to lead more inclusively and to “act first to avoid any escalation following the Russian aggression in Ukraine.” – New York Times 

The European Union is struggling to finalize the terms of an oil embargo on Russia amid resistance by Hungary, whose leader claimed Friday that the proposed embargo would hit his economy like an atomic bomb. – Wall Street Journal 

Jill Biden, the first lady, traveled to western Ukraine in an unannounced trip on Sunday, the latest show of support from the United States, which in recent weeks has significantly increased military aid for Ukraine and sent others close to President Biden into the country. – New York Times 

Ukrainian forces holed up in the sprawling Azovstal steelworks in the Russian-controlled city of Mariupol said Sunday they would not surrender and vowed to fight on. – Agence France-Presse 

The U.K., U.S. and Irish governments have urged rival parties in Northern Ireland to come together to resurrect its power-sharing government after Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein scored a historic victory to become the biggest party in Northern Ireland’s Assembly. – Associated Press 

The United Kingdom said it will offer further aid and military support to Ukraine worth £1.3 billion as it bolsters its commitment to the country’s defense against Russia. – Politico 

U.S. diplomats are beginning to arrive in Kyiv as America prepares to restart embassy operations in the Ukrainian capital city for the first time since Russia began its invasion. – The Hill 

Editorial: This debate is only partly about Germany’s military capabilities, as important as those are. It’s also about Berlin’s credibility. Mr. Scholz in February promised Germany would become a reliable ally by reversing decades of defense cuts. His government now needs to show it means what he said about a turning point, instead of resorting to budget tricks to slip back into Berlin’s bad habits. – Wall Street Journal 

John R. Deni writes: Finland and Sweden are among the world’s most robust democracies. The greatest threat to freedom in Europe today is Russia, which has invaded neighboring democracies like Ukraine and Georgia and made efforts to undermine democracy across the Continent. Given their proximity to this threat, Finland and Sweden clearly understand this. – Wall Street Journal 

Mark Lander writes: Six years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, no part of the United Kingdom has felt the sting in the tail more than Northern Ireland, where Brexit laid the groundwork for Sinn Fein’s remarkable rise in legislative elections this week. […]Overturning the protocol would raise tensions with the European Union and even risk igniting a trade war, a stark prospect at a time when Britain already faces soaring inflation and warnings that its economy might fall into recession later this year. – New York Times 

Anne-Sylvaine Chassany writes: While Scholz begins to come around, Germany’s internal difficulties could impede the running of the EU. It is increasingly absent from debates over what the EU’s new energy model should be while meeting its climate change goals, Dennison notes for instance. “It is quite worrying because European voters need strong leadership, a clear pathway as sacrifices will have to be made.” – Financial Times 

Julian Lee writes: Perhaps it won’t come to that. After all, the purpose of the sanctions is not to inflict economic damage on Russia for its own sake — whatever the Kremlin may say to the contrary — but to persuade Vladimir Putin to end his invasion of Ukraine. I’m not convinced it’ll work, but that’s no reason not to try. – Bloomberg 

Martin Sandbu writes: The optimistic view is that holdouts will be won over by a mix of pressure and pay-offs. Meanwhile, French polling suggests anti-Europeanism will simply put a ceiling (albeit an uncomfortably high one) on parties that see no other path to victory. Putin has long been betting on the opposite. Since the meaning of his Victory Day has become the defeat of Europe’s unity, there is no better time to prove him wrong. – Financial Times 


Militants freed around 60 prisoners during an attack on a jail in northwest Burkina Faso overnight, ransacking offices and setting vehicles ablaze before making their escape, two security sources and a judicial source said. – Reuters 

Somalia’s government has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to extend its financial support by three months to Aug. 17, the head of the IMF’s country mission told Reuters.- Reuters 

Raiders killed at least 35 people including a baby in an attack on a gold mine in Ituri, in the strife-torn northeast of Democratic Republic of Congo, local sources said Sunday. One local official, Jean-Pierre Bikilisende, of the rural Mungwalu settlement in Djugu, Ituri, said the CODECO militia had carried out the attack on the artisanal mine. – Agence France-Presse 

Gunmen killed at least 48 people in attacks on three villages in northwest Nigeria’s Zamfara state, a local official and residents said Sunday. Northwest and central Nigeria have been terrorised for years by criminal gangs who raid and loot villages, steal cattle and carry out mass abductions of residents for ransom. – Agence France-Presse 

In the Central African Republic (CAR), nine out of 10 people do not have internet, and only one in seven has electricity — that is, when there are no power cuts. Yet the CAR has just followed El Salvador in adopting bitcoin as legal tender, a currency that requires access to the net to be bought, sold or used. – Agence France-Presse 

Latin America

Now, two months later, Brazil is replenishing its fertilizer stockpiles — with help from Russia. Much like the Russian gas that has been flowing through pipelines into Europe, hundreds of thousands of tons of Russian fertilizer have arrived in Brazil since the invasion. And more is on its way. – New York Times 

The Colombian government on Sunday reinforced a nearly 50,000-strong military deployment against a drug cartel that has burned cars and threatened people as reprisal for the extradition of its leader to the United States. – Agence France-Presse 

Costa Rica’s new president Rodrigo Chaves, elected despite a cloud of sexual harassment allegations, took the oath of office Sunday with promises to revive the economy and end the abuse of women in his country. – Agence France-Presse 

Tony Frangie Mawad writes: Although their congressional contingent is currently small, as millennial socialists and groups like DSA make further inroads into American politics, the chances of more Chavismo-friendly politicians taking office across the country — and perhaps getting a chance to nudge U.S. foreign affairs — increase, highlighting a possibly troubling future for Venezuela’s democratic struggle. – Politico 

The Americas

The British overseas territory in the Caribbean swore in a new leader this week after its premier was charged in Miami with conspiracy to commit drug trafficking and money laundering in a made-for-television narcotics sting by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration involving undercover informants and designer bags stuffed with cash. – Washington Post 

At the United Nations, two officials had a problem. The little-known agency they ran found itself with an extra $61 million, and they didn’t know what to do with it.  – New York Times 

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called Sunday for an end to US sanctions against Cuba as he concluded a migration-themed tour of Central America and the Caribbean. – Agence France-Presse 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was responsible for “war crimes”, during a visit to Ukraine where he met with President Volodymyr Zelensky. – Agence France-Presse 

Canada will help Ukraine work out options on how to export stored grain to uphold global food security that has been shaken by Russia’s invasion of the country, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said late on Sunday. – Reuters 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new weapons and equipment for Ukraine on Sunday after an unannounced visit to Kyiv, the capital. – Reuters 

Editorial: Washington’s shrugging approach to Haiti isn’t really an approach at all; it’s an abdication. It is particularly indefensible given that it was so predictable that the country’s already parlous conditions would deteriorate after the assassination last year of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Mr. Moïse was no one’s idea of a stalwart of democracy, good governance and sound economic management. But the consequences of the power vacuum left in his wake were not hard to foretell. – Washington Post 


The US has sanctioned a “crypto mixing” service used in a North Korea-backed heist, in the latest sign of how financial watchdogs are stepping up their efforts to stamp out money laundering through digital currencies. – Financial Times 

Just four months in, 2022 has been a banner year for hackers and fraudsters targeting the industry have swindled more than $1 billion from cryptocurrency investors, according to separate estimates by cryptocurrency analysis firm Immunefi. – CyberScoop 

The U.S. State Department is offering $10 million for any information that leads to the identification or location of people connected to the notorious Conti ransomware gang. An additional $5 million reward is also being offered for any information that leads to the arrest or conviction of a Conti member. – The Record 


A key element of a $1.7 billion modernization effort at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was used for the first time with the docking of the USS Cheyenne, Navy officials said Friday. – Associated Press 

The Defense Department has transferred almost $1.5 billion to the Army and Marine Corps to replenish Stinger anti-aircraft weapons and Javelin anti-tank missiles that have been delivered to Ukraine, the Pentagon’s top acquisition executive said today. – Breaking Defense 

The Pentagon has received more than 300 responses to its call for weapons and commercial systems to rapidly equip Ukraine’s military. – Defense News

Long War

A US grand jury on Saturday indicted a man for terrorism and other charges stemming from an April 12 gunfire and smoke bomb attack that injured 23 people on the New York City subway. – Reuters 

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri made an appearance in a pre-recorded video to mark the 11th anniversary of the death of his predecessor Osama bin Laden. Al-Zawahri says in the video that “U.S. weakness” was the reason that its ally Ukraine became “prey” for the Russian invasion. – Associated Press 

Palestinian terror group Hamas threatened on Saturday to go back to carrying out suicide bombings and to “burn” Israeli cities if Jerusalem resumes its policy of targeted killings of senior terror figures. – Times of Israel 

James M. Dorsey writes: The well-placed Malaysian source said that the country’s security forces may object to granting Hamas greater leeway in Malaysia. Security forces in some other Southeast Asian nations would likely support their Malaysian counterparts. The security concerns would likely center on fears that an enhanced Hamas presence could turn Malaysia into a Middle Eastern battlefield. – Modern Diplomacy