Fdd's overnight brief

November 30, 2022

In The News

Iran

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani said his country would tighten security cooperation with Iran, after Tehran strengthened its military presence along its western border to prevent the infiltration of Kurdish groups based in northern Iraq. – Wall Street Journal

A U.N.-appointed independent expert on Iran voiced concern on Tuesday that the repression of protesters was intensifying, with authorities launching a “campaign” of sentencing them to death. – Reuters

While Iran’s national team faced the U.S. on the pitch, Iran’s politically divided fans faced each other in the stands. The World Cup match between Iran and the United States on Tuesday was charged with emotion among Iranian fans, some of whom had come to Qatar not only to support their team, but the protest movement back home. – Associated Press

Iranian authorities said Tuesday that two former members of the national soccer team arrested this month in connection with nationwide protests have been released on bail. – Associated Press

Benny Avni writes: While America may have geostrategic reasons to be cautious about supporting a budding uprising against the nuclear-armed economic powerhouse under Mr. Xi, it has no excuse for so timidly backing Iranians who seek to end the oppression of their Islamic regime. – New York Sun

Merrill Matthews writes: And while Iran isn’t a major military power, we recently learned it is manufacturing and selling arms, especially “kamikaze drones,” to Russia. In the 20 years since Bush identified his version of the Axis of Evil, the number of countries and the threat level have grown. And it’s becoming all too reminiscent of the 1930s. – The Hill

Haleh Esfandiari writes: Moving forward, these international entities can now start to delegitimize any mass trials and call for an end to death sentences. The international community should put pressure on relevant international organizations to take seriously their mandate of looking into violations of the demonstrators’ human rights, including the killing and arrest of schoolchildren and university students. They should insist that the Iranian government not block Iranians’ access to social media and the internet. European countries with diplomatic representation and relations with Iran must let the government know that there can be no ‘business as usual’ as long as the violation of human rights and repression continues. – Washington Institute

Nicholas Carl, Zachary Coles, Johanna Moore, and Frederick W. Kagan write: CTP cannot assess how widespread this sentiment may be among Iranian protesters, but the reported celebrations indicate how politicized the Iranian national soccer team has become among at least some protesters. Iranian citizens cheering a US victory over Iran underscores the depth of popular frustration against the regime. – Institute for the Study of War

Mehdi Ketabchy writes: The root causes of Iran’s water bankruptcy are not local-level mismanagement, inappropriate decision-making by authorities, international sanctions imposed on the regime, climate change, or natural climate variabilities (although these all do work to intensify the existing problems). Instead, the extent of Iran’s current water bankruptcy is the natural consequence of the existing political structure. […]It would be wrong to think that a system with such a history of crackdowns and human rights violations would prioritize the preservation of its water resources in its policymaking. – The National Interest

Russia & Ukraine

Trans-Atlantic ties are starting to fray as French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders chafe at new U.S. policies they say compound economic woes fueled by the war in Ukraine and the resulting energy crisis. – Wall Street Journal

NATO bridges the Atlantic Ocean but the body of water drawing the most attention recently is on its eastern edge: the Black Sea. Long a center of regional disputes, the sea has been the main theater for Russia’s war in Ukraine, since both countries border its north shore. The Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014 and protrudes far into the sea, is home to a significant Russian fleet. – Wall Street Journal

Doctors were operating on Ksenia Maikan’s 14-year-old son at a hospital in the capital last week when she heard two explosions and saw the lights in the surgery room go out. Russia had fired another barrage of missiles at targets across Ukraine that morning, causing fresh power outages in major cities including the capital. – Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration will put $53 million toward rebuilding Ukraine’s battered electrical grid, as officials scramble to help Ukrainians withstand a sustained Russian assault that has plunged millions into darkness and cold. – Washington Post

Russia’s war on Ukraine, and its failure so far to subjugate its smaller neighbor, has exposed President Vladimir Putin’s weakness to other smaller neighbors, including Central Asian nations long viewed by Moscow as part of its rightful sphere of ex-Soviet influence. – Washington Post

The death of a top official who led Belarus’s failed attempts to improve its relations with the West came as the country faces increasing pressure from Moscow to get involved in the war in Ukraine that is raging across its border. – New York Times

Poland’s government wants Ukrainian refugees to begin paying for some of their government-provided housing and food by early next year, the Polish Prime Minister’s office said Tuesday, and the Council of Ministers adopted draft legislation to that end, which is expected to pass easily in Parliament. – New York Times

The brother of Paul Whelan, an American jailed in Russia, said on Tuesday his family is concerned about his whereabouts after not hearing from him for days and unclear messages from the prison staff that he was moved to the prison hospital. – Reuters

The U.S. government is mulling sending the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine to help bolster its air defenses against an ongoing barrage of Russian strikes, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters. – The Hill

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned NATO on Tuesday against providing Ukraine with Patriot missile defence systems, denouncing the alliance as a “criminal entity” for delivering arms to what he called “extremist regimes”. – Reuters

Finland’s leader says it must give more weapons and support to Ukraine to ensure it wins its war against Russia. – Associated Press

An uneasy calm hung over Kyiv on Tuesday as residents of the Ukrainian capital prepared for Russian missile attacks aiming to take out more energy infrastructure as winter approaches. – Associated Press

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has warned that Russia was using winter as a “weapon of war” against Ukraine, as Western allies meeting in Bucharest planned to help Kyiv mend its ravaged power grid. – Agence France-Presse

The Biden administration is weighing whether to label Russia’s Wagner Group as a foreign terrorist organization, two people familiar with the matter said, as part of efforts to handicap the privately owned military company’s involvement in Ukraine and its growing presence in Africa. – Bloomberg

Ukraine should be free to strike military sites inside Russia as it fends off attacks on its critical infrastructure, Latvia’s foreign minister said. But allies including the US have held back on sending weapons that can strike Russia. – Bloomberg

Russian officials want China’s help in developing an international payment system that would allow Moscow and Beijing to undermine the global primacy of the U.S. dollar. – Washington Examiner

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said the “door is open” to admitting Ukraine into the security alliance and that the country would one day be a member. – The Hill

The Ukrainian government has said a scheme it created for Russian soldiers to surrender is getting up to 100 enquiries a day. – BBC

The list prices of Starlink communications devices have nearly doubled in Ukraine, as mobile networks have started failing under Russia’s assault on the country’s electricity grid and increased demand for the SpaceX-manufactured satellite communication device. – Financial Times

The Russian military has veered away from an integral part of its military doctrine the past decade, according to a new intelligence report from the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MoD). – Newsweek

Vladimir Putin and his Kazakhstan counterpart have made a pledge against nuclear arms as the Russian president faces pressure from allies over rhetoric coming from Moscow about the use of such weapons. – Newsweek

Ukraine is set to receive more than a dozen cutting-edge robotic vehicles that can be used to evacuate battlefield casualties and clear routes of explosive devices, among other tasks, Estonian military contractor Milrem Robotics announced Tuesday. A Russian think tank previously offered a bounty for the capture of one of these vehicles. – Business Insider

Anthony Grant writes: Mr. Putin is doubtless aware of the growing risks to Russian civilians posed by Ukrainian counterattacks, in whatever shape or form they may take. That may be the reason why the strongman recently convened an in-person meeting of Russia’s security council for the first time since February; civil defense preparations were reportedly high on the agenda. As long as Russian forces remain in Ukraine, the risks to Mother Russia, vast though she may be, will only increase. – New York Sun

Frank R. Gunter writes: Therefore, for these three reasons, it would be extremely short-sighted of America to abandon Ukraine in its time of need. If Ukraine loses, the world will rapidly become a more dangerous place for everyone, including Americans and America. – The Hill

Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth write: Ukraine needs the tools to defend itself and strike back at the launch sites, regardless of location: Russia, Belarus, Crimea, or the Black Sea. The Russian way of war of targeting civilians must not be permitted. Labeling a country as a terrorist state is not nearly enough. – Washington Examiner

Christopher Blattman writes: These ideals should be celebrated, and Western governments should continue to try living up to them (even if they often fail). But if this tendency makes the West less inclined toward realpolitik—trading rights and principles for peace, or cutting deals with unpalatable autocrats—wars such as the one in Ukraine may become more frequent and more difficult to end. – Foreign Affairs

Grace Mappes, Madison Williams, Yekaterina Klepanchuk, Angela Howard, Karolina Hird, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Some Russian milbloggers made unsubstantiated claims that Russian forces broke through the Ukrainian defensive line south of Bakhmut along the T0513 highway to advance towards Chasiv Yar, which would cut one of two remaining main Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Bakhmut, but such claims are likely part of a continuing Russian information operation and are premature, as ISW has previously assessed. ISW continues to assess that the degraded Russian forces around Bakhmut are unlikely to place Bakhmut under threat of imminent encirclement rapidly. – Institute for the Study of War

Stephen Blank writes: This outlaw state must be defeated and held accountable for its actions, not just for rudimentary reasons of morality, but because it is in the US interest, and that of our democratic allies. Otherwise, we will have to repeat this entire process again from a worsened strategic position and pay an even higher price than is now the case. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Ronald H. Linden writes: For the US and its European allies, a multinational “Ukraine Resupply” has both real and symbolic power.  It would shift a big part of the struggle to a field in which the West has a clear advantage: wealth and logistical capabilities. It is a mission that Ukraine’s allies could, in principle, pay for and keep in operation as long as necessary. Such a coordinated action would send a heartening signal to Ukraine’s people at a critical moment. It would, at the same time, make clear to its enemies that this is a dimension and a timeline on which they are unlikely to prevail. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Israel

Israel’s mission to the United Nations in New York, led by Ambassador Gilad Erdan, on Tuesday launched a novel exhibition at the Manhattan UN headquarters on the “Jewish Nakba,” the expulsion of the Jews from Arab countries and Iran. The opening comes one day ahead of the Day to Mark the Departure and Expulsion of Jews from Arab Countries and Iran that is marked on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has written to 50 heads of states in a bid to prevent a vote in the United Nations that seeks to request an advisory from the International Court of Justice on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – Bloomberg

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a Palestinian solidarity event on Tuesday that the “occupation must end,” amid growing international alarm over a spike in violence in the West Bank. – Times of Israel

David Pollock writes: For the longer term, the tragic truth is that no one has a satisfactory solution for the many problems of Gaza. In the short term, however, any alarmism about how Netanyahu’s election might affect these issues is almost surely misplaced. In other words, the United States and other interested parties have a bit more space to deal with pressing issues on other fronts. – Washington Institute

Jacob Magid writes: Given the critical role the US plays in regional cooperation, Netanyahu will need the Biden administration in order to expand what he views to be a critical part of his legacy — the Abraham Accords. – Times of Israel

Afghanistan

Pakistan’s junior foreign minister is in Kabul for talks with the Taliban regime a day after a local offshoot of the militant group ended a cease-fire with the government in Islamabad and announced a resumption of attacks across the nation. – Bloomberg

The Taliban’s failure to break its international isolation since seizing power overnight last year has plunged Afghanistan into a humanitarian crisis, with little prospect of aid for a crumbling economy. – Bloomberg

China capitalized on President Biden’s mishandled US troop pullout from Afghanistan last year, using the ensuing chaos in propaganda meant to erode international support for America, according to the Defense Department’s latest China Military Power report released Tuesday. – New York Post

But mothers are now denied the right to share in the memories the children here are making. Women are banned from visiting parks in Kabul by the hardline ruling Taliban. When we visit, dozens of members of the group are enjoying the rides. But the closest women, including us, can get to the park is a restaurant overlooking it. Women were also recently barred from swimming pools and gyms in the capital. It’s expected the rules will be extended across the country. – BBC

Peter Mills writes: The Afghan Taliban has moved swiftly to consolidate control over Afghanistan and eliminate any opposition to its rule since the August 2021 collapse of the Afghan Republic. The Taliban claim to rule all of Afghanistan for the first time in 40 years. Armed groups opposed to the Taliban remain active in the country, however. Anti-Taliban groups fall into two main categories: Islamic State–aligned groups and non–Salafi-jihadi resistance groups. – Institute for the Study of War

Syria

The United States has reduced the number of partnered patrols in northern Syria with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Pentagon said on Tuesday, after Turkish strikes in the region and ahead of a feared ground invasion by Ankara. – Reuters

Syria announced cuts on Tuesday to the amount of fuel it provides to government workers to help cope with shortages that have led a number of mobile phone towers to go offline. – Reuters

The head of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Tuesday he still feared a Turkish ground invasion despite U.S. assurances and has demanded a “stronger” message from Washington after seeing unprecedented Turkish deployments along the border. – Reuters

The U.N. special envoy for Syria warned Tuesday that the current military escalation in Syria is dangerous for civilians and regional stability, and he urged Turkey and Kurdish-led forces in the north to de-escalate immediately and restore the relative calm that has prevailed for the last three years. – Associated Press

Turkey

Sweden and Finland have made progress toward winning Ankara’s approval for them to join NATO but they have to go further, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said. – Bloomberg

Olli Pekka Suorsa and Brendon J. Cannon write: This would begin to fulfil a cherished dream of Turks who wish, once again, to become the dominant power at the meeting point of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Despite their clear limits and the fact that Ankara decided to put unmanned combat aerial vehicles on its carrier under duress, drone carriers should help expand the interests and power of Turkey and future drone carrier-operating states in lightly or non-contested spaces. – War on the Rocks

Robbie Gramer and Anusha Rathi write: When Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrated his 70th birthday in October, he didn’t get any well-wishes from leaders in the West, with one notable exception: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While other NATO leaders have been giving Putin the silent treatment since he launched the war in Ukraine this year, Erdogan has done the opposite. – Foreign Policy

Gulf States

Qatar has agreed to supply Germany with liquefied natural gas under a long-term deal that will go a small way to helping the European country replace piped flows from Russia. – Bloomberg

The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of an anti-drone system to Qatar in a deal valued at $1 billion, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia has extended the term for a $5 billion deposit it made to Egypt’s central bank, state news agency SPA said on Tuesday, without saying how long the extension would be. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Doha is also a keen partner of the West and hosts a US military base. As such, Qatar seeks to play both sides. It has hosted not only Hamas and other extremists over the years, but also the Taliban. By hosting the extremists, Doha then becomes a conduit for “talks” that help empower groups such as the Taliban. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

North Korea hasn’t said whether she has any siblings. Her age remains a mystery. The world doesn’t even know her name. The important thing is that she’s the “most beloved” daughter of Kim Jong Un. – Bloomberg

South Korea’s military said it scrambled fighter jets as two Chinese and six Russian warplanes entered its air defence zone on Wednesday. – Reuters

South Korea has extradited to New Zealand a woman suspected of murdering two children whose bodies where discovered in suitcases in Auckland this year, South Korea’s justice ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters

China

Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese leader who rose to power after the deadly crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests and presided over his country’s economic rise heading into the 21st century, died Wednesday at the age of 96. – Wall Street Journal

China is on pace to challenge the U.S. militarily and prevent it from intervening in a crisis with Taiwan, including by expanding its stockpile of nuclear warheads, the Pentagon said in a report published Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal

China launched a rocket from Inner Mongolia, putting three more astronauts into space to meet its existing three-person crew in-orbit and take over final construction of the Tiangong space station. – Wall Street Journal

Reacting to China’s boldest and most widespread protests in decades, the security apparatus built by Communist Party leader Xi Jinping is mobilizing on multiple fronts to quash dissent, drawing on its decades-old tool kit of repression and surveillance. – New York Times

​​It was one of the more dramatic moments in several days of protests in China that captured the boldness of young Chinese demonstrators as well as the risks they face in challenging the country’s authoritarian leadership. – New York Times

China’s ruling Communist Party has vowed to “resolutely crack down on infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces,” following the largest street demonstrations in decades staged by citizens fed up with strict anti-virus restrictions. – Associated Press

It is time for China to move away from massive lockdowns and toward a more targeted approach to COVID-19, the head of the International Monetary Fund said days after widespread protests broke out, a change that would ease the impact to a world economy already struggling with high inflation, an energy crisis and disrupted food supply. – Associated Press

China is ready to “forge closer partnership” with Russia in energy, a state news agency quoted President Xi Jinping as saying in a letter Tuesday, potentially expanding ties that irk Washington by helping the Kremlin resist sanctions over its war on Ukraine. – Associated Press

Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday at Harvard University and near Chinese consulates in New York and Chicago to support protesters who have called for that country’s leader to step down amid severe anti-virus restrictions in the biggest demonstrations against the government in Beijing in decades. – Associated Press

Russian and Chinese strategic bombers on Wednesday flew a joint patrol over the western Pacific in a show of increasingly close defense ties between the two countries. – Associated Press

China has enlisted tech giants Alibaba and Tencent to aid its efforts in designing semiconductor chips, as Beijing braces for further US-led sanctions aimed at suppressing Chinese computing power. – Financial Times

The US envoy to China has urged Xi Jinping’s administration not to interfere with peaceful demonstrations just as a Communist party security chief warned against “hostile” forces. – Financial Times

A Chinese official told Newsweek that Beijing rejects the Pentagon’s characterization of growing People’s Liberation Army capabilities in a new report, arguing that it was the United States stirring nuclear tensions, not China. – Newsweek

The Chinese government on Tuesday released a message attacking “freedom” in the U.S. amid mounting global scrutiny spurred by citizen protests in China. – Newsweek

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: He never believed he was saving China from Covid, which he knew was an unrealistic goal. He was using zero-Covid to delay the virus’s passage through Chinese society until he could insulate himself behind a Mao-like position of dominance. – Wall Street Journal

Paul A. Gigot writes: The Chinese Communist government will fall eventually. Tyrannies always fall, even if it takes longer than we hope. And when the Communists do fall, Jimmy Lai will be recognized as one of the heroes of Chinese freedom. Meanwhile, he serves as a model of courage and conviction for all of us who believe in free markets and free people. – Wall Street Journal

John Pomfret writes: Without the crackdown, Xi said the specter of socialism would’ve been left to “wander in the dark for a long period, and the process of Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation would also certainly be interrupted.” Xi won’t let that happen this time and he has the tools of dictatorship to prevent it. – Washington Post

Joseph R. DeTrani writes: We can only hope that Xi ultimately will be receptive to the views of others in the Party, and especially to the views of the people when they cry out for universal values like freedom of speech and assembly and the rule of law. – The Hill

Hal Brands writes: Republican China hawks have already deemed the administration’s stance “cowardly.” Congressional Democrats and Republicans could push for sanctions and other penalties on Beijing. Leaving politics aside, if Biden truly believes that the US-China contest is ideological at its core, then how can he consistently downplay issues that throw the contrast between autocracy and democracy into such stark relief? […]Today, a policy that highlights the nastier aspects of Xi’s system will ultimately play to America’s benefit — even if, as Reagan understood, foreign policy is above all about picking one’s spots. – Bloomberg

June Yoon writes: Disruptions look set to last far beyond Christmas. Most companies are already too entrenched to make significant changes to operations. Higher political risk and more frequent supply shocks should now be planned for as a normal cost of doing business in China. – Financial Times

Michael Rubin writes: True, Washington cannot involve itself in a corrupting way as Beijing does but American policymakers can repeatedly call out and stigmatize those who subordinate the purity of faith for the privilege of power and rank. It should name, shame, and sanction every member of the Buddhist Association of China and make clear that accepting the bribes Beijing offers is not a path to power but rather to ridicule. The Buddhist bloc and the free world cannot allow China any say in recognition of the fifteenth Dalai Lama. A Dalai Lama who acts as a rubber stamp for the most murderous and anti-Buddhist regime in recent centuries would be an affront to justice and religion. – The National Interest

South Asia

A Pakistani Taliban suicide bomber rammed a police escort for a polio vaccination team in southwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing three people and wounding more than 30, police said, just two days after the militants ended a ceasefire. – Reuters

Pakistan has sought support from the Bank of China to bring back macroeconomic stability, the South Asian country’s finance ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters

India’s finished steel imports from Russia during April-October rose to their highest in at least four years, government data compiled by Reuters showed, underscoring Moscow’s bid to divert shipments in the wake of Western sanctions. – Reuters

Moscow has sent India a list of more than 500 products for potential delivery including parts for cars, aircraft and trains, four sources familiar with the matter said, as sanctions squeeze Russia’s ability to keep vital industries running. – Reuters

Sri Lanka owed Chinese lenders $7.4 billion – nearly a fifth of its public external debt – by the end of last year, calculations by the China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) published on Wednesday showed, an estimate higher than many others. – Reuters

Pakistan’s new military chief took command of the country’s armed forces on Tuesday as a political rift between the government and the popular opposition leader deepened. He took over a day after a renewed threat from a key militant group behind scores of deadly attacks over 15 years. – Associated Press

Indian and U.S. troops on Tuesday participated in a high-altitude training exercise in a cold, mountainous terrain near India’s disputed border with China, at a time both countries are trying to manage rising tensions with Beijing. – Associated Press

Lynne O’Donnell writes: In Pakistan’s mountainous tribal regions, tens of thousands of people are protesting against the government’s failure to keep them safe from attacks by resurgent terrorists. Ten years after gunmen boarded a school bus and shot a teenager in the face to silence her campaign for girls’ education, people fear Taliban extremists are bringing death and misery back to their valleys. – Foreign Policy

Asia

A British parliamentary committee is visiting Taiwan this week to meet President Tsai Ing-Wen and other senior officials, the Foreign Affairs Committee said in a statement on Tuesday. – Reuters

The United States on Tuesday said it was deeply concerned by Cambodia’s arrest of union leader Chhim Sithar and called for her release and that of other detained trade unionists. – Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has raised the issue of the continued detention of Julian Assange in meetings with United States officials and seeks to bring the matter to a close, he said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The US expects China to keep up the more aggressive behavior toward Taiwan it began during a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a senior Pentagon official said in unveiling the department’s latest assessment of the country’s military might. – Bloomberg

A military hotline aimed at reducing tensions between China and Japan is expected to begin operations in spring 2023, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters Tuesday. – Bloomberg

Indonesia’s top military commander is seeking to step up military cooperation within the region and partners further afield to face down the maritime threat from an increasingly assertive China. – Bloomberg

Nato members held their first dedicated debate on Taiwan in September, as the US encourages other members of the transatlantic security alliance to pay more attention to the rising threat of China to the island. – Financial Times

As many as 500 Chinese companies have quietly redomiciled or registered in Singapore over the past 12 months in a bid to hedge against rising geopolitical risk as tensions between Beijing and Washington escalate. – Financial Times

Joseph Bosco writes: Now, reports indicate that Ukraine and Taiwan may be in competition for weapons from dwindling U.S. stocks, which is good news for “no limits” strategic partners Russia and China as they coordinate to pull Washington’s attention and resources in different directions. That is all the more reason for Biden to state formally a U.S. commitment to defend Taiwan while he ensures that Ukraine gets all it needs to defend itself. – The Hill

Europe

European Union leaders are pushing to quickly establish an investment programme to ramp up production in the bloc’s defence industry in light of the war in Ukraine, according to a draft of conclusions for a Dec. 15-16 summit. – Reuters

The European Union will try to set up a specialised court, backed by the United Nations, to investigate and prosecute possible war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, European Commision President Ursula Von Der Leyen said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Europe should increase its presence in the western Balkans to limit the influence of Russia, Italian foreign minister Antonio Tajani said on Wednesday ahead of the second day of NATO meetings in Bucharest. – Reuters

The European Commission on Wednesday said proposed a plan to confiscate Russian assets that have been frozen to punish Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters

Belarus on Tuesday held a state funeral for its foreign minister who died suddenly at age 64, triggering speculation about possible foul play in his death after he leaned toward Western countries. – Associated Press

NATO turned its attention on Wednesday to three countries shaken by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova — as the military alliance struggles to extend its security umbrella across Europe. – Associated Press

The British government summoned China’s ambassador to the UK amid a diplomatic row over the arrest of a British Broadcasting Corp. journalist covering pandemic lockdown protests in Shanghai. – Bloomberg

Estonia’s foreign minister called for the price of any cap on Russian oil to be set as low as possible, while his Lithuanian counterpart brushed off any urgency to agree to any price, with the two Baltic nations ranking as holdouts in contentious talks at the European Union. – Bloomberg

Britain on Tuesday ousted China General Nuclear from construction of its new Sizewell C power station, further cutting controversial economic ties with the world’s second biggest economy. – Agence France-Presse

The EU’s goal since the outbreak of war in Ukraine has been to rapidly reduce its reliance on Russian fossil fuels while keeping a lid on prices, but the results of its endeavours have been decidedly mixed. – Financial Times

Africa

Three U.S. citizens of Cameroonian origin have been arrested and charged with raising funds for separatist fighters in the Central African country, the U.S. Justice Department said. – Reuters

Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday said a Zambian student who died in Ukraine had been fighting for his Wagner Private Military Group. – Reuters

There is “no timeline” for restoring internet access to Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region, a senior government official said Tuesday. – Associated Press

A shipment of 20,000 metric tons of Russian-produced fertilizer was sent from the Netherlands to Malawi as part of a United Nations-brokered deal to keep agricultural commodities flowing to global markets despite an ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, United Nations (U.N.) officials said Tuesday. – The Hill

A jet linked to Israeli spyware tycoon brings surveillance tech from the EU to notorious Sudanese militia. – Haaretz

K. Riva Levinson writes: In summary, with an African business community that is revolutionizing public-private partnerships while Western financial institutions largely sit on the sidelines; with African governments that are failing to keep pace with the changing expectations of their people, and finally, with a continent whose free trade agenda will increasingly shape its future, global economic prosperity, and the prospects for limiting the climate crisis. – The Hill

Latin America

Fearing that the humanitarian crisis engulfing Haiti could spur mass migration to the United States and elsewhere, some top Biden administration officials are pushing to send a multinational armed force to the country, several current and former officials say, after the Haitian government made an appeal for such an intervention last month. – New York Times

Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro will enter upcoming talks with the South American country’s opposition in a strengthened position that could be bolstered further by a deal to release more than $3 billion in humanitarian funds, analysts said. – Reuters

Colombia wants the Biden administration to grant temporary legal status to its citizens now living in the United States, noting its own efforts to address regional migration by hosting 2 million Venezuelans who fled their homes. – Associated Press

For years, as the U.S. has ramped up pressure on Venezuela’s socialist government, dozens of allegedly corrupt insiders have raced through the U.S. criminal justice system, cutting plea bargains to avoid lengthy prison sentences and sparing prosecutors the work of having to prove their cases in court. But not Claudia Díaz. – Associated Press

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday he is willing to go to a trade dispute with the US if the two countries can’t reach an agreement on genetically modified corn. – Bloomberg

The State Department denounced efforts by El Salvador to influence “certain election outcomes” in the U.S., after a California congresswoman accused the president of El Salvador and other Salvadoran officials of interfering in her race. – The Hill

North America

The Biden administration on Tuesday announced plans for a second Summit for Democracy next year, this time to be co-hosted by the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea and Zambia. – Associated Press

Canadian federal police are investigating widespread interference by China in Canadian affairs, including its “democratic processes,” the nation’s top cop has said in a letter to a parliamentary committee but without detailing the allegations. – Agence France-Presse

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that everyone in China should be allowed to protest and express themselves, and that Canadians were closely watching the protests against the country’s zero-COVID policy. – Reuters

Cybersecurity

Gov. Kristi Noem banned the social media application TikTok on state-owned or state-leased devices on Tuesday, citing cybersecurity reasons, and she’s encouraging other leaders to do the same. – Washington Examiner

Advocacy groups urged the White House to recuse the director of the Office of Legislative Affairs from interacting with Congress about key antitrust bills targeting tech giants, pointing to her past work as public policy director at Facebook. – The Hill

Elon Musk said “files on free speech suppression” will soon be published on Twitter as he pushes for less content moderation on the platform. – The Hill

Twitter is no longer enforcing its policy about COVID-19 misinformation as part of changes made under new CEO Elon Musk. – The Hill

Cyberattackers have crippled systems at one of India’s most prominent hospitals for a week, forcing the institution to operate a raft of key medical services and labs manually. – Bloomberg

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is in Washington to meet with top Republican lawmakers, according to people familiar with his visit, as the company seeks to forge ties with the GOP ahead of the party’s takeover of the House early next year. – Bloomberg

Google announced on Tuesday that it has filed a lawsuit against a company allegedly impersonating it through telemarketing calls and manipulating reviews of Business Profiles on Google Search and Maps. – The Record

The notorious state-backed Russian hacking group known as Sandworm may be behind a new wave of ransomware attacks in Ukraine, according to new research from cybersecurity company ESET. – The Record

As the global tournament enters its second full week in Qatar, FIFA World Cup scams are proliferating as cybercriminals aim to score big from unsuspecting fans, according to data collected by cybersecurity firm Group-IB. – CyberScoop

An application approved by the U.S. Army that contained code from a Russian company harvested no information from the more than 1,000 people that downloaded it, according to the service, which has since discontinued its use. – C4ISRNet

Parmy Olson writes: There is of course an ever-increasing chance that repressive governments will find new, more blunt ways to stop the spread of digital protests. Iran is planning to criminalize the sale of VPNs to restrict internet access in the country even further. And Beijing’s influence over Chinese social media platforms like TikTok, WeChat and Weibo means the government can exert greater pressure on their parent companies — ByteDance Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Sina Corporation, respectively — to weed out images of real-world protests or the viral memes that are emerging daily. – Bloomberg

Defense

The Defense Intelligence Agency is pulling together a group of analysts and experts to monitor competition with China, a world power Pentagon officials consider the leading threat to U.S. national security. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy submarine community is eager to boost its use of unmanned underwater vessels in the coming years, with several big developments almost ready to hit the fleet. – Defense News

The Marine Corps’ top officer in charge of training on Tuesday outlined the service’s sweeping new strategy that promises to modernize how troops learn and ready them for a faster, more connected era of combat. – Defense News

Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) returned home on Tuesday following a seven-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific, the Navy announced. – USNI News

Long War

A 22-year-old Seattle man was sentenced Tuesday to four years in prison after being arrested while trying to board a flight to join the Islamic State group last year. – Associated Press

U.S. and Kurdish military officials said Tuesday that Turkish airstrikes and a threatened ground invasion in northern Syria are impacting their joint operations against the Islamic State extremist group. – Associated Press

Eric R. Mandel writes: Many Americans may have forgotten about the Islamic State and its threats against the West. But if the terrorists rise again, with images of rape, plunder and beheadings resulting from the Turkish invasion, the American public might not be so forgiving of Biden for being blindsided by this. We devastated ISIS once, at an enormous cost. We don’t want to have to do it again. – The Hill

Mohammed Hassan writes: In recent years, the regime has played a major role in driving the activity of ISIS cells in southern Syria, especially in Daraa Governorate. This began in early 2019, when the Syrian regime released, at separate intervals, around 200 members of the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army who had previously been arrested by the regime when it controlled the governorate. – Middle East Institute